After 19 years anchoring at WTVJ-NBC 6, Kelly Craig is out of a job. Also hitting the video bricks: sportscaster Andrea Brody and tech reporter Joe Carter, all victims of the lagging economy. My pal Joan Fleischman has the details.
...it would quit screwing around using Nicole Sandler to pinch-hit at every hour of the day, and hire her for a regular show. Until then, however, you've got to put some effort into finding her fill-in gigs. For the time being, she's Nic at night, doing an 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. shift. If you've got a computer -- don't try to deny it, you're reading this, aren't you? -- you can listen even in commie-free-radio zones like South Florida.
It's not exactly television, but...
The greatest tourist attraction in Central America has always been politics. Diplomats stop by every few years, take a couple of snapshots of what's going on at the presidential palace, and then profoundly declare their opinions, devoid of context or history. This week's favorite diplotourism destination is Honduras, where the army Sunday arrested President Manuel Zelaya and booted him across the border to Costa Rica. In the Polaroid analysis, it's pretty clear what happened: ''A return to barbarism in our hemisphere,'' as Argentina's president Cristina Fernández put it.
But here's a question for all these new-found defenders of Honduran democracy: Where were you last week? Perhaps if some of these warnings about sticking to the constitution had been addressed to President Zelaya, the Honduran army would still be in the barracks where it belongs. Read my full op-ed column in Tuesday's Miami Herald.
Bob Garfield, co-host of NPR's On The Media, had an unusual guest last week: NPR ombudsman Alicia Shepard. Garfield wanted to know why NPR doesn't refer to waterboarding as "torture." Said Garfield: "The U.N.’s High Commissioner for Human Rights says that waterboarding is torture. The International Committee of the Red Cross have called what the U.S. did 'torture.' Waterboarding is unambiguously in violation of the International Convention on Torture, which has been ratified by 140-some countries." Shepard argued back that news organizations shouldn't let themselves be dragged into a legal debate: "Torture is illegal, so I think the media gets caught up in trying to figure out how to use this. And so, the one point I hope I made strongly was just stop characterizing things, just describe what they are." Read the whole very interesting exchange here. There's even an audio link for the pre- or post-literate.
Wherever there's a fight, so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever there's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad. I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry and they know supper's ready, and when the people are eatin' the stuff they raise and livin' in the houses they build -- I'll be there, too. And whenever a poor guy is gettin' $50 to pleasure a bored rich lady with his prodigious lovestick, Ma, I'll be there, too.
-- Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath
Well, I can't find that last sentence in John Steinbeck's novel, but perhaps the HBO guys were working from the Larry Flynt translation when they conceived (heh-heh, pun definitely intended) Hung, the Official Sitcom of the New Depression.
The ruined Oklahoma farms have been replaced with code-violating split-levels in the Detroit suburbs; the
steely-eyed bankers with bullying homeowners associations; Tom Joad's Marianite sister with a poetess-turned-pimp; and Joad's dawning socialist conscience with a male prostitute's growing (all puns intended until further notice) priapic pride. But otherwise, Hung is definitely a poor-and-dirty-minded man's Grapes of Wrath. Read my full review in Sunday's Miami Herald.
The government of Honduaras was seized in a military coup this morning. I mention it because the cable-news nets aren't -- nothing on Fox News, CNN, HLN or MSNBC. Maybe later, if there's a YouTube clip of a pretty Tegucigalpa girl being shot.
UPDATE,12:10 p.m update: Fox News and HLN have finally reported the coup, two hours after the news broke.
Wide Angle: Crossing Heaven's Border (11 p.m. Wednesday, WPBT-PBS 2) -- I'm not saying PBS
has the power or promotional genius to arrange a potential nuclear holocaust as a marketing aid for one of its shows, but with North Korea threatening to fire a missile at Hawaii later this week, the documentary Crossing Heaven's Border couldn't be more timely. It recounts the harrowing, heartbreaking stories of North Korean refugees who escape -- or try to -- across the border into China. It isn't pretty.
Unsung (8 p.m. Sunday, TV One) -- In a weekend of mourning for Michael Jackson, this documentary considers another groundbreaking Motown artist whose left much too soon: Florence Ballard of the Supremes, upon whose life the musical Dreamgirls was loosely based. Ballard had a much better voice than fellow group member Diana Ross, but whose luck was much worse: Alcoholism, obesity and domestic abuse took first her career and then her life.
Hung (10 p.m. Sunday, HBO) -- In this melancholy new sitcom, Thomas Janes plays an economically battered high school coach who realizes he's got one asset that's recession-proof. Full coming review later Sunday.
Shouting Fire: Stories from the Edge of Free Speech (9 p.m. Monday, HBO) -- This documentary on the erosion of U.S. free speech covers everything from a University of Colorado professor fired for saying the 9/11 attacks were America's own fault to a San Diego high school kid suspended for wearing a T-shirt emblazoned "Homosexuality is Shameful." Guaranteed to raise practically everybody's blood pressure.
Dance Your Ass Off (10 p.m. Monday, Oxygen) -- Fat people. Dancing. Really. I don't know what else to say.
Note: Days and times for PBS shows are for the Miami area, and may differ elsewhere.
Let Miami Herald TV critic Glenn Garvin program your TiVo! Just click on his best bets for the week at www.ew tivo.com/guruguide.
In 1972, a 13-year-old Michael Jackson appeared on The Dating Game, pitching questions to three sixth-grade "bachelorettes." The most important one: "If I bring my pet snake Rosie the Crusher along on our first date, what would you bring along and why?"
MTV, seeking a link to its glorious but long-gone days as a music channel, has all but declared itself the Official Network Of Michael Jackson. It's running nothing but Jackson videos and documentaries Friday and Saturday. MTV and Jackson were virtually childhood friends, proclaims the network's website: "By a stroke of luck (or, perhaps, fate), MTV was fortunate to launch just before Michael Jackson went supernova... Whether it was due to luck or fate, MTV was there for that meteoric rise and everything that followed."
Maybe, but only because MTV was dragged along, kicking and screaming. The first two years it was on the air, MTV didn't run videos from black artists -- any black artist. Even when Jackson's Thriller album started going nuclear in early 1983 -- and Columbia Records began submitting stunning Jackson videos with the production values of mini-movies -- MTV stuck to its racist guns. It was only when Columbia threatened to pull all its other videos if MTV didn't air Jackson's Billie Jean that the channel reluctantly agreed to end its musical apartheid.
If Jackson's death triggered a spasm of duplicity unusual even for television at MTV, it seems to have caused Cincinnati Bengals Chad Ochocinco to bang his head on a wall hard enough to loosen the wiring in his brain. Here's his Twitter tweet upon hearing the news Thursday:
''I'm asking if you know fantasy from reality,'' the starship commander demands of one of his officers, and in Virtuality the question is anything but rhetorical. This sci-fi TV movie that Fox hopes to spin off into a series is like an existential Cuisinart, slicing and dicing the real, the virtual and the imaginary into something that's intellectually fascinating if not quite dramatically satisfying.
A sort of cross between 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Matrix, Virtuality is set aboard the Phaeton, a spaceship setting off on a 10-year intergalactic voyage in search of a new planet to replace an ecologically doomed Earth. As a form of recreation, as well as a psychological escape from the close quarters in which they live, the 12 crew members (including three married couples) have been equipped with a cutting-edge virtual-reality program that allows them to simulate anything from fighting a Civil War battle to surfing big waves off Hawaii.
But the virtual world proves destructively seductive. One wife cybercheats on her husband with another crew member; another, whose dreams of children were dashed when she signed on for the long voyage, obsessively indulges her fantasy of pregnancy. An officer uses the program to resurrect his dead family and is quickly embroiled in bitter domestic drama with his ungratefully risen son. Read my full review in Friday's Miami Herald.