Truth In Advertising: Fail

However (you knew this was coming) there’s a series of ads for an upcoming appearance that’s got me upset/confused.

We’ve been staying at the Mirage. It’s not the newest hotel in Las Vegas, but it’s beautifully maintained and still has a first class feel. We’ve eaten in the restaurants, seen a show and gambled a little. We could not be happier.

However (you knew this was coming) there’s a series of ads for an upcoming appearance that’s got me upset/confused.

Mirage is promoting the “Aces of Comedy.” Jay Leno will be there and solely by virtue of The Tonight Show he qualifies. The second “Ace” is Larry King.

Seriously? Larry King? Ace of Comedy?

Maybe the never watched Larry? Actually, it’s more likely they’ve put him in this category because they have! Sad.

Hydrox Is Back In My Life

Part of the allure of Hydrox is there’s nothing nutritional about it! No trans fats–where’s the fun in that?

hydrox_cookie.jpgAlmost bedtime, so I headed to the kitchen for a quick recon before going upstairs. As I opened the pantry door there they were. Helaine had brought home crack cocaine Hydrox cookies. As suspenders are to Larry King and Cherry ChapStick is to Katy Perry, Hydrox is to me.

Hello old friend. Where have you been these last 30 pounds?

While others can claim some sort of affection for Oreo, I was always a dedicated Hydrox guy. I loved its firmer white creamy filling and crisper cookies. As a kid I’d open Hydrox-after-Hydrox, combining the individual fillings until I had an immense, white, sugar high staring at me.

My love of Hydrox goes back as far as I can remember. I devoured them as a kid and stayed skinny. While a bachelor I’d often eat a full sleeve of Hydrox, chasing them down with Coca Cola… and not that sugar-free wussy crap I drink now. Life was oh very simple then. I could eat and drink until I ran out and never put on a pound.

hydrox-package.jpgAt some point while watching my weight and avoiding my Hydrox, Sunshine stopped making them. My business alone was what kept them going all those years–that’s certain. And then last week I saw an article in the Times. Hydrox was temporarily coming back. The next thing you know they’re back in the house. Most likely they jumped in the grocery cart while Helaine wasn’t looking.

I’d never seen it before, but there is now nutritional information on he back of the Hydrox package. Really? Why? Part of the allure of Hydrox is there’s nothing nutritional about it! No trans fats–where’s the fun in that?

I suspect when this package is empty there will be no more. Life can be cruel. I’m a big boy. I just don’t need to be bigger.

Strange Remembrance Of Tammy Faye

Tammy Faye Messner, she of the heavyweight makeup and previously disgraced life, died on Friday. The death was revealed Saturday by Larry King, on who’s show she had appeared a few days earlier.

The last name Messner came late. Tammy Faye is best remembered by me as Tammy Faye Bakker, wife of Jim Bakker of TV’s PTL Club. Alas, they succumbed to the huge buckets of money sent to them, using their ministry as a piggy bank. Jim Bakker was sent away to prison.

You remember the PTL scandal? They had the air conditioned dog house!

My memories of Jim and Tammy go way back in their career. In fact, when I looked around the web, what I’m about to tell you was nowhere to be found&#185.

Before the PTL Club, Jim and Tammy worked for Reverend Pat Robertson. Surprise!

This was back when his, then little, satellite channel was called the Christian Broadcasting Network. In their latter days with Robertson, Jim and Tammy often appeared on and hosted Robertson’s flagship 700 Club.

Long before Jim wore a shirt and tie, I remember the “Jim and Tammy Show,” a Christian children’s show! Yup, Pat Robertson had these two moral weaklings host a show for kids!

I remember sitting home in Charlotte, NC back in the early 70s, watching them and laughing. It was amazing sport for me.

The show seemed very over-the-top and totally insincere. Of course I had no way of knowing where their careers would go.

After her marriage to Jim ended, Tammy somehow managed to position herself as a tragic figure, caught up in a world out-of-control. I was never that charitable or forgiving toward her. All I could think about was all the money, a large percentage obtained from the poor, old and infirmed, that flowed to PTL and was squandered by the Bakkers.

I’ve always felt there should be a special category for crimes that openly betray trust. Stealing that way seems so much more repugnant than conventional forms of theft. Its ‘enhanced punishment’ would apply to crooked politicians and other civil servants on the take, con men of all stripes, and folks like Jim and Tammy.

Her makeup was the least of my concerns.

&#185 – After finishing this entry, I did find this site which talked about the Jim and Tammy Show.

Kathy Griffin At Mohegan Sun

Yesterday, we headed to Uncasville to see Kathy Griffin at Mohegan Sun Casino. The signs at Mohegan Sun celebrate their 10th anniversary. Their Cabaret isn’t quite that old, but this was still our first time there.

What a beautiful theater. Really. It is spacious and esthetically pleasing. It’s probably the prettiest modern theater I’ve been in.

On top of that, people were sitting in ‘easy chairs.’ This is not a ‘jam ’em in’ casino showroom.

I do have one complaint… I’ll get to that in a while.

I’ve always enjoyed Kathy Griffin. She’s very funny – a take no prisoners comedian whose act is heavily based on dishing celebrities.

I’ve seen her stand-up a lot. I haven’t seen as much of her reality show, which is a shame since some of her act referenced it.

For whatever reason, I went to the show thinking Kathy was the ‘modern’ Joan Rivers. After all, Joan has always made fun of celebrities.

My error. Kathy Griffin doesn’t tell jokes. She makes observations. But they’re spot on and hysterical. She was funny for the whole 90 minute show.

Oprah&#185, Larry King and Liz Taylor got nicked pretty good. So did some names more easily reachable. It’s difficult to think Clay Aiken, Linsday Lohan or any number of high profile celebs would give her the time of day… but they do. And so there’s more and more to say.

What struck me is, so many of Kathy’s observations are my observations. Many celebrities really do live lives with feet of clay. And, when introduced as universal experiences, they’re funny because they’re ludicrous.

Oh – I said there was one thing that bothered me, and it was the drink service. In a venue like this, service goes on during the show. I accept that. However, shouldn’t the waitresses make some attempt to keep it down while a comedian is on stage?

&#185 – I wish someone would have told Kathy that Gayle King was a high profile news anchor in Connecticut until a few years ago.

Star Jones And Me

I don’t know Star Jones, but I’ve been following the brouhaha between her and Barbara Walters. Nasty stuff. After Larry King Live tonight I expect nastier.

There’s some advice I can give Star, because I’ve been there. No, not a network job. I’ve been there in the ‘ruining a good thing’ sense.

A while ago, I had a boss at the TV station – Billy Otwell. Billy’s out of TV now, but I consider him a friend and I think he probably feels the same way about me. Still, during contract negotiations he said to my agent (at the time), “Some people burn their bridges behind themselves. Geoff burns his in front.”

That was one of the best lines ever spoken… pretty profound. Billy was probably just trying to get the edge in negotiations at the time, but what he said has stayed with me. And, he was right (back then).

It’s easy in TV, where you’re the product being sold at contract negotiations, to overvalue yourself and act like a spoiled child. There are lots of examples we’ve all seen or read about, and many people get away with it. I probably did.

However, it’s possible to make yourself more of a pain in the butt than you’re worth. That line varies depending on your perceived value.

I approached the line. Star steamed right through it.

Since Billy made his pronouncement, I have tried my best to back off a bit – and hopefully others have noticed. Who knows? Maybe it’s only noticeable to me.

Star will surely back off now. She doesn’t know it yet, but she’s been given a lesson in self awareness. She’ll have to implement what she learned from her next job, which will undoubtedly be of lower stature than the one she left this week.

The Trip Continues

Getting to Philadelphia was no problem. It was leaving that seemed to be the sticking point.

I had a long layover in Philadelphia – over an hour and a half. The Embraer Regional Jet to Atlanta was in on time. We boarded on time. And then the announcement.

The pilot came on from the cockpit to tell us thunderstorms around Atlanta were going hold us up. It would be an hour until he found out when we’d be!” And, since the gate was needed for another plane, he’d drive to a quiet spot for us to wait.

I’d like to tell you the passengers protested, or the wait was interminable or some other tragic story of passenger pain, but it wasn’t that bad. We left Philadelphia about an hour and a half late.

I actually found the plane, an ERJ170, reasonably comfortable. Just like the Dash-8 I took from New Haven to Philadelphia, this plane had plenty of legroom in narrow seats. The interior was spartan and somehow European. The interior actually reminded me of a Fokker-100.&#185

Is it just me or is it weird to be on an airplane designed and built in Brazil?

The trip to Atlanta was bumpy, but uneventful. Getting off in Atlanta was another story. The terminal looked like a mall on the weekend before Christmas. It was jammed – as busy as any airline terminal I had ever visited.

Helaine had found a great deal for a medium size car from Avis. That ended up being a Chevy Malibu. It is possible there is a car that has less style, but I doubt it. It looks like it was designed and built with absolutely no anticipation anyone would actually want to own one. They were right.

My hotel is the Hilton Garden Inn – Perimeter in one of the many exurbs that ring Atlanta. This is actually a fairly nice hotel and a good value. And, along with everything else, there’s free high speed Internet service (though not enough signal at the desk in this room to use it from there).

This evening (a late evening) I joined Mark and Annie, both of whom I worked with at Channel 8, for dinner. I left it up to them and we went to Ted’s… owned by Ted Turner and featuring Bison meat!

We all had Bison burgers, which were very good. I also had New England clam chowder (could have been warmer and larger, but it was very tasty). This being Atlanta, Coca Cola’s world headquarters, I broke down and had a Coke, which was served from the glass bottle.

Next stop was CNN, where Mark and Annie now work. This is interesting because there are familiar views in the CNN Center that I’ve seen for years.

Visiting CNN at night, there were no on-air types to be seen. Most of their nighttime programming is from New York or Los Angeles (Larry King).

Actually, that gave me more of an opportunity to look around. Their newsroom, directly behind the news set, may be the most photogenic TV space I’ve ever been in.

Busy day. I’m going to bed.

&#185 – The Fokker 100 is a small, though older, regional jet. USAir used to fly them to Buffalo. They were quite comfortable, except for the low ceilings. They were low enough that I once asked a flight attendant if her assignment in this particular model was penance for something she had done?

Chicago Fire Gets Little National Coverage

A fire broke out this evening in an older high rise office building in Chicago. At work we watched live feeds of the action. It was very compelling video with flames coming out the windows and people scurrying around not far from the danger (and as it turned out there were many injuries, including some injured firemen).

ABC and the other ‘legacy’ networks were in entertainment programming. This is not the type of story that would have ever caused them to break in. The same is not true for the cable news networks, so I flipped my tuner to Channel 31 and started at MSNBC.

They were in talk programming. I think it was Deborah Norville&#185. On Channel 32, Fox had Hannity and Colmes yapping away. Brooke Shields was with Larry King on CNN, Channel 33.

If any of them covered the fire, it was during headline breaks. I came looking because I wanted to see continuous coverage. I found no coverage.

I know these shows are repeated later in the evening and I assume breaking news makes it much more difficult to run them intact during West Coast prime time. Still, this was the bread and butter of cable news a few years ago.

I’ll bet if any one of them would have broken in, they all would have.

&#185 – I loved Deborah Norville when she was on the radio. She was really charming and quite witty. I’m not sure I’ve ever watched more than 10 consecutive seconds of any of her TV shows. Isn’t it strange how that works?