Hammer Time! Tom Delay To Dance With the Stars, Literally

delay_mugshotJake Tapper twittered a little while ago that House Majority Leader Tom Delay will be competing on Dancing With the Stars this season. Um. Good Morning America is apparently announcing the new cast this morning so we believe Tapper (though we’d be even more impressed to discover that Tapper was capable of pulling a Twitter practical joke) but still!

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If we had to put money on what embattled former Republican politician would be making an appearance on DWTS our first pick would have obviously been Blago. That said, Delay has dallied with the show before, when he emailed supporters to vote for Sara Evans, a country music singer who had performed at the 2004 Republican National Convention. Alas, there are no DWTS voting districts for Delay to attempt to redraw in his favor, but it will be interesting to see what kind of support he is able to muster. Or if this is he attempt to return to relevance! Perhaps others should consider following suit.

Michael Vick’s Winning PR Strategy: Redemption By Work Ethic

vick_8-16Michael Vick appeared in the first segment of CBS’ 60 Minutes last night in a lengthy interview with James Brown (A CBS Sports, but not 60 Minutes contributor).

As Brown reported in the piece, Vick is working with “a group of attorneys, agents and media advisers,” and he said a lot of the “right” things in the CBS interview – unsurprising admissions of shame and a new appreciation for animals. But there was something else in the segment, that sounds like it will be a PR push: change the topic to work ethic.

The unexceptional quotes: “When I was in prison, I was disgusted, you know, because of what I let happen to those animals,” and “I care about animals” and the proverbial ‘money shot’ for his advisers, “I blame me.”

But then Brown talked about Vick’s reputation as a player – which apparently was pretty poor. He asked Vick about this directly. “I was lazy,” he said. “Last guy in the building, first guy out. I know that, I hear everything people say. And that hurt me when I heard that, but I knew it was true.”

The story of Vick going from animal killer to animal lover is boring and predictable. Did we think he might leave jail after two years and look for a puppy to strangle?

But a storyline Vick’s PR team will happily embrace is the idea the star QB can be a reformed hard worker. And it’s not just a part of the 60 Minutes interview – it’s already been written about since he joined the Philadelphia Eagles late last week. In a Foxsports.com story about Vick’s first day of practice on Saturday, Alex Marvez comments on how it went. “Vick’s work ethic also impressed,” Marvez wrote. “He and reserve quarterback Adam DiMichele were the last players to leave the practice field on a sweltering afternoon.”

This is a winning strategy – and we’re likely to hear more of this as Vick continues this solidly successful media push.

Here’s the full CBS interview:

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Meditations On the Mad Men Season Three Premiere

cuar01a_madmen0806Yesterday I watched the season three premiere of Mad Men. At this point, it’s hard to imagine anyone not being aware that the show will be debuting its third season tonight on AMC. In an advertising bonanza that would flatten anything Don Draper might have imagined, the show has managed to permeate the public consciousness (despite the fact, based on ratings, it seems very few people have actually watched it). Between Banana Republic, Sesame Street, Twitter, and Frank Rich the show has officially become a cultural phenomenon (something that often precedes a jump the shark moment, but let’s hope that between Matthew Weiner strong writing and the huge time lapses between seasons, that moment won’t arrive for at least another season or two).

In today’s column, Rich says the reason we are all obsessed with the show is that in many ways it mirrors the tone of our lives today:

What makes the show powerful is not nostalgia for an America that few want to bring back — where women were most valued as sex objects or subservient housewives, where blacks were, at best, second-class citizens, and where the hedonistic guzzling of gas and gin went unquestioned. Rather, it’s our identification with an America that, for all its serious differences with our own, shares our growing anxiety about the prospect of cataclysmic change. Mad Men is about the dawn of a new era, and we, too, are at such a dawn. And we are uncertain and worried about what comes next.

It is certainly true that less than seven months after January’s triumphant inauguration this country suddenly finds itself currently mired in anxiety, anger, and near-violence. Will the same be true for the characters in the series? Season Two ended during the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Don Draper, having supposedly faced his demons, is reunited with a newly-pregnant Betty, and Peggy, having triumphed over workplace sexism has landed her own corner office. The season Three opener certainly appears to suggest, however, that the more things change the more they stay the same (with one major exception, which I won’t tell you about).

So: What to tell you about the premiere? No details, that’s for sure! (I hate spoilers.) But here are two things to perhaps keep in mind, especially if you are new to the Mad Men fan club and have crammed all the previous episodes into a few weeks of viewing (and therefore haven’t had to suffer any sort of wait to find out the repercussions of Peggy’s pregnancy, or who the woman is that Draper calls while on the fly in Palm Springs). My takeaway: Matthew Weiner does not like resolution. Or the sort of immediate resolution TV viewers have come to expect from regular September season premieres. Be prepared to be patient (and cope with viewer anxiety, I suppose). This, of course, is nothing new – devoted viewers may recall that we were a few episodes into Season Two before all the story lines introduced in Season One had a chance to work themselves out. It appears that trend will continue this season as viewers are dropped into the lives of these characters already in progress.

As for the rising water we’ve seen in all those advertisements? The opener only hints at its meaning. One of my favorite scenes from last season comes at the end of the second-to-last episode “Moutain King’ which closes with Don Draper walking into the Pacific ocean in a sort of metaphoric baptism, only to emerge in the finale a changed and repentant man. Really? After two seasons of Mad Men even the casual fan probably knows better than to think it’s that easy (whether or not Betty has come to a similar conclusion remains to be seen). Draper hints at this lack of reinvention in a line partway through the episode, which struck me as thematic (I will add it to the post later; I am serious about spoilers!). Needless to say, for a show filled with such flawed and complicated characters, it’s safe to assume nothing will be tied up so easily. Or at all. It is this very refusal to resolve things neatly that, despite all its glamor and decadence, is the aspect of the show which most accurately mirrors real life.

In the meantime, while you wait for the 10pm hour, here is a video mashup set to Don Draper reciting parts of Frank O’Hara’s poem Mayakovsky from the collection Meditations on an Emergency (a copy of which pops up in both seasons one and two). It’s also a title which could aptly describe this show, which follows the personal emergencies of its characters against the backdrop a country on the brink of larger catastrophe.


Rachel Maddow Talks to Dick Armey’s Cold Shoulder on MTP

Meet the Press convened its own panel today to discuss this week’s angry town halls and the death panel, Nazi, Tree of Liberty assertions that have accompanied them. Today’s panel consisted of three middle-aged white men and Rachel Maddow (with a drop-in from Charles Rangel). Tom Daschle assures the abrasive tone some of the town halls have taken is merely the sound of Democracy. Senator Coburn (R- OK) says the tone is not about Health Care at all, but fear of loss of control over the government. Rachel Maddow thinks that the Dems are giving up their elected majority to GOP’s like Senator Grassley who are touring the country handing out copies of Glenn Beck’s book. And Dick Army mostly appears tolerantly amused that Maddow has been allowed on the panel at all. Until she starts grilling him, at which point he turns a cold shoulder, literally.

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“Crazy Larry” Goes Nuclear on MSNBC-Bashing GOP Congressman

odonnell_8-15Sometimes an interview goes off the rails, and it’s very obvious where things started going poorly. But Lawrence O’Donnell’s interview-like segment (it would be giving it too much credit to actually call it an “interview”) with GOP Rep. John Culberson of Texas yesterday was awful and shouty from start to finish. It left an agitated Culberson bashing MSNBC as a network after being interrupted for the umpteenth time.

As Joe Scarborough described it on Twitter, “Lawrence O’Donnell (aka Crazy Larry) erupts on congressman.” Let’s take a look at what happened.

Scarborough later joked, “Going on the Today Show at 7a to talk Health Care Reform. Praying to Jesus that Lawrence isn’t the one conducting the interview!”

It started by O’Donnell, filling in for Chris Matthews on Hardball, running the “Is Medicare socialism?” line of questioning into the ground, over and over again. “Lawrence, you’re illustrating why MSNBC’s viewership is in the tank, because you don’t allow the people you’re interviewing to answer questions,” said Culberson.

Then it was time for the hypothetical portion of the “interview.” O’Donnell forced Culberson to say how he would have voted in 1935 on social security, and in 1965 on Medicare. It wasn’t enough for Culberson to give his take on each of the programs – O’Donnell wanted a literal ‘yay or nay.’

“Do you wonder why nobody listens to MSNBC?” asked Culberson. “They don’t want to hear your endless spinning,” said O’Donnell, who apparently thought people wanted to hear his endless interrupting.

Then it was time for the name-calling part of the “interview.” “You lied to America about the evil of government health care, because you people not one of you liars about government health care is willing to repeal Medicare,” said O’Donnell, as Culberson looked around baffled.

It was an embarrassing interview, exacerbated by the fact that Culberson was being especially reasonable throughout. O’Donnell is known for his occasional outbursts, particularly another lie-related one on MSNBC in 2004. Just like the town hall protesters who yell and scream don’t quiet down enough to get to the actual issues, the same goes for interviews that devolve into a shouting match and irrelevant tangents. Disagreement is great – and particularly great for cable news – but there needs to be a certain civility to the discussion.

Here’s the interview:

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Mediaite’s Own Health Care Town Hall Meeting

In honor light of all the coverage health care town hall meetings are getting, Mediaite decided to hold a town hall of its own. We wanted to know what New York had to say about the proposed health care bill. Alas, New York has not been one of the states blessed with an exciting Town Hall (and New Jersey doesn’t count). So, we did what we could. In an effort to make this as Town Hall-y as possible, we tried to get people to yell at us, make some impromptu word associations, and, although very difficult, pick their favorite clause in HR 3200. Unfortunately, we didn’t quite manage to elicit the Arlen Specter Effect from people; New York is quite docile in August. Who knew! Highlights below.

Mad Men’s Kosher Karousel

mad men season 3“Nostalgia,” said Don Draper to the hushed and darkened room. “It’s delicate, but potent…Teddy told me that in Greek, nostalgia literally means the pain from an old wound. It’s a twinge in your heart, far more powerful than memory alone.” Then he convinced a roomful of clients that calling it a Carousel might actually reinvent the wheel. Suckers!

But seriously: If you are reading this instead of enjoying a beautiful summer weekend, then you, too, are afflicted with that same pain. We can’t speed time up and make it Sunday at 10 p.m. any faster than the Lord or Matthew Weiner willeth, but we can pull together a few videos that will slake your mighty thirst, momentarily.

1. Meshugeneh Men

Created by then-Daily Show writer (now Tonight Show writer) Rob Kutner for his annual Purim comedy show in New York (along with his wife, Penn & Teller comedy writer Sheryl Zohn), but really it works just as well for Rosh Hashanah. Cameos by Amy Sedaris and Ellie Kemper (who plays Erin the receptionist on The Office):

2. Mad Libs Men:

College Humor’s take on Mad Men, coincidentally featuring the same guy as Don Draper (Matthew Walton). This guy better hope the third season is good; there’s a nice little market in parody videos, and Mad Men is pretty fertile. LIKE BETTY DRAPER?

3. Two A-Holes At A Sixties Ad Agency

This excellent and star-studded video is from when Jon Hamm hosted SNL last October. The return of the A-Holes plus the merging of them with a retro-Mad Men story pitch was pretty perfect. Featured guest-cameo by John Slattery, who is also pretty hot, and Elizabeth Moss, who was not originally supposed to be in it but stepped in at the last minute when Amy Poehler inconveniently went into labor. Hamm’s speech about the Hula Hoop gets me misty, almost as misty as Jon Hamm’s John Hamm.

4. The Simpsons Mad Men Parody

Like many Mad Men clips on YouTube, the embedding has been disabled. But if you want to see it, it’s here.

simpsons mad men

The Mad Men (And Women!) of Morning Joe

Pic above via Mad Men official website.