Jon Stewart insists that he's not looking to get into politics. But plenty of his fans appear eager to join him in a political movement, if the response to his "Rally to Restore Sanity" is any indication. By Thursday morning, more than 138,000 people had indicated on the event's Facebook page that they planned to join "The Daily Show" host Oct. 30 on the National Mall. Those who can't make it are organizing satellite events in cities around the country.
As a Times story on Thursday details, many attendees view the gathering as an opportunity to shape the political discourse. "We want to send a message to Washington that there are a lot of us out here that want you to get something done and stop pandering to the fringe," said Lorrie Sparrow, 45, a business analyst who plans to drive all night from Xenia, Ohio, to attend the event with two friends and her 8-year-old son.
[Updated at 9:35 a.m.: Los Angeles residents are now seeking to create their own "Rally to Restore Sanity" satellite event for Oct. 30. Volunteers are working to secure a permits and a website has been set up to solicit donations.]
Mary Hart, an iconic figure in the world of entertainment news, announced Thursday that she will be stepping down as host of “Entertainment Tonight” at the end of the upcoming season.
It remains to be seen who will succeed her at the syndicated show, which now competes with a bevy of television and online outlets jostling for supremacy in celebrity gossip.
Hart, who joined the program as a correspondent in 1982, will have spent 30 seasons at the television newsmagazine. In a statement, she said simply that she decided it was time to make a change.
“I've had the privilege of spending 29 years doing something I love — how often does that happen?” she said, adding: “I only meant to be at ‘ET’ for three years, suddenly it's almost 30! I've reached a point when I clearly realize it's time for a change. There are many things I want to do in my life, and I'd better get on with them. It will certainly be with mixed sentiments that I say goodbye at the end of the season, but it will definitely be with a sense of celebration … 30 years of 'Entertainment Tonight,' are you kidding me? That's an accomplishment, and something I'm very proud of!”
The show’s executive producer, Linda Bell Blue, noted that Hart “is one of my closest friends.” “Although I respect her decision, I will miss her tremendously,” she said in a statement. “Right now we are focused on making this next season the very best in her long history with ‘ET.’ ”
John Nogawski, president of CBS Television Distribution, credited Hart and “Entertainment Tonight” with creating what is now a flourishing genre. “She’s defined entertainment journalism,” he said.
A feud between “The Real Housewives of D.C.” cast member Michaele Salahi and “The View” co-host Whoopi Goldberg escalated Thursday when the infamous reality show figure told NBC’s “Today” show that Goldberg peppered her with profanities after her appearance on the daytime talk show.
Less than an hour later, a defiant Goldberg responded on the air. “I make no apology for my choice words,” she said on “The View,” adding that she was upset by an allegation that she hit Salahi.
It’s the latest dust-up involving the Virginia socialite, who first stepped into the limelight in November when she and her husband, Tariq, allegedly attended a reception for a White House state dinner without being on the official guest list. That prompted the Secret Service to launch an internal investigation, saying its procedure wasn’t followed, and Congress to hold a hearing on presidential security. The Salahis refused to testify at the hearing, invoking the Fifth Amendment. Since then, they have repeatedly insisted they were invited.
The incident that kicked off the newest furor occurred Wednesday, when Salahi and her fellow castmates appeared on “The View” to promote their Bravo show, which premieres Thursday.
During an interview conducted by co-hosts Joy Behar and Sherri Shepherd, Goldberg came out from backstage, lightly touched Salahi’s arm and said, “Excuse me, could you get back to the White House, please?” according to a full clip aired by “The View” on Thursday.
According to the Salahis’ attorney, Lisa Bloom, Salahi was “unnerved” when Goldberg came up to her on stage and felt demeaned and degraded by the whole experience because of the frequent references that she was a “gate crasher.”
After the taping, Salahi was crying backstage and, according to ABC, told a producer that Goldberg “hit” her. Salahi maintains that she merely said that she was upset that Goldberg had come up behind her on the air and “grabbed” her arm.
Both sides agree that the exchange that followed was heated: Goldberg went into Salahi’s dressing room and had an angry confrontation with the “Housewives” cast member and her husband. “Her husband got in my face, had his BlackBerry out and started taking pictures of me,” Goldberg said on Thursday. “And needless to say, I really went off then. And there was even more choicer words. I mean, they were so choice, you could have cut them with a knife and eaten them.”
On “Today,” Salahi said that she wasn’t upset about what Goldberg did on the air but how she treated her afterward. “I think I started crying because now I have someone I don’t even know, I’m a guest of their show, and they’re berating me,” she said.
Salahi’s fellow cast mates, who appeared with her on “Today,” didn’t appear to buy her claims. The four other women repeatedly exchanged looks of exasperation and said they were fed up with her and all the attention she generated.
“This is a show about five people,” said Mary Schmidt Amons. “We’re so finished with it.”
Lynda Erkiletian, the one cast member who was friends with Salahi before the show, said she no longer trusted Michaele and Tariq: “They live a phony fake Bonnie-and-Clyde life.”
The drama, coming right as Bravo launches the show, appears likely to heighten interest in the program.
“It’s perfect, perfect, because you couldn’t pay for this kind of publicity,” noted “Today” co-host Kathie Lee Gifford.
Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton’s wedding on Saturday has taken on the trappings of a royal affair — at least when it comes to the media glare. CBS News announced Thursday that the weekend edition of “The Early Show” will broadcast a live special called “A Chelsea Morning” to kick off the wedding festivities Saturday.
Anchor Erica Hill will be live on location in Rhinebeck, N.Y., where Clinton is set to marry Marc Mezvinsky. The newscast will feature a piece examining the interest in presidential children with commentary from historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. A news release from CBS said the special will also offer an intimate look at how Clinton “developed from a pre-teen to the self-assured young woman who campaigned alongside her mother in 2008.” Jim Langan, executive editor of the Hudson Valley News, will weigh in on how the affair has impacted the town.
Despite the Clintons’ efforts to keep the wedding under wraps, Rhinebeck promises to be besieged with reporters Saturday trying to lap up details. For weeks, the New York tabloids have been filled with tidbits — some purely speculative — about the event. The Daily News guessed the final tab will run $3 million for what it has dubbed “the wedding of the millennium.” On Thursday it ran photos of the wedding site, snapped from the air, with a map detailing where the festivities will take place. Even the fashion press has gotten into the action, with Women's Wear Daily splashing on its cover a photo of Clinton hidden underneath a floppy sunhat on her way to visit designer Vera Wang.
The frenzy is a marked contrast to the more restrained coverage of Jenna Bush's 2008 wedding, held in Crawford while her father was still president.
On Thursday, the Internet buzzed with the news that President Obama was not one of the reported 500 guests invited to the nuptials, as previously reported. But he tried to quell any frisson, telling the hosts of “The View:” “You don’t want two presidents at a wedding.”
President Obama had been sitting on “The View’s” custard-colored couch for only a few moments when Barbara Walters asked the question front-of-mind for many people.
“You know, you’ve gone through a little bit of a beating the last month,” she said. “Do you really think that being on a show with a bunch of women, five women who never shut up, is going to be calming?”
“Look, I was trying to find a show that Michelle actually watched, and so I thought this is it, right here,” the president responded with a laugh. “All those news shows, she’s like, ‘Eh, let me get the clicker.’”
Obama’s taped appearance on “The View” on Thursday was the first on a daytime talk show by a sitting president, underscoring the growing political clout of the ABC gabfest and its kin. Veteran politicos such as Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell may cringe at the notion, but elected officials are increasingly turning to entertainment talk shows to display their lighter sides and soothe the sharpness of the daily political thrusts.
On Thursday, the show’s five hosts quizzed him about a range of weighty policy issues, including the economy and the war in Afghanistan. They also pressed the president about race relations and the recent episode regarding Shirley Sherrod, the U.S. Department of Agriculture official who was fired after a conservative website took a speech she gave about race out of context.
“What I do think happened in that situation is that a 24/7 media cycle that is always looking for controversy and oftentimes doesn’t get to the facts first generated a phony controversy,” Obama said. “A lot of people overreacted, including people in my administration. And part of the lesson that I want everyone to draw is, let’s not assume the worst of other people but let’s assume the best. Let’s make sure we get the fact straight before we act.”
On a lighter note, the president appeared somewhat fluent on popular culture, saying he knew that Lindsay Lohan was in jail but confessed that he didn’t know who “Jersey Shore’s” Snooki was. (He perhaps had forgotten joking about the MTV reality star and her castmates at the White House Correspondents Dinner in May.) He dodged a question about whether Mel Gibson needed anger management, saying he hadn’t seen a Gibson movie in a while.
Obama also said he had not been invited to Chelsea Clinton’s wedding, which was fine by him: “You don’t want two presidents at a wedding.”
“I was not invited because I think Hillary and Bill properly want to keep this as a thing for Chelsea and her soon-to-be husband,” he added. “And I’m letting you guys know now, y’all probably will not be invited to Malia’s wedding or Sasha’s wedding.”
“Have boys entered the picture yet for your girls?” Walters asked.
"I can't actually talk about that at the moment, I’m afraid," Morgan said, though he confirmed that his new deal on "America's Got Talent" would allow him to do other jobs.
Leno pressed on, asking who Morgan would want to interview as his first guest if he had a show on a network with a "C with a bunch of Ns in it."
Morgan said his dream guest would be Nelson Mandela, saying: "He's given the whole black population of South Africa hope, which they never had in the time of apartheid.... And at a time like now, when everyone is at war, they could all do with probably an hour of Nelson Mandela."
Fox News host Bill O’Reilly offered a rare mea culpa Wednesday, apologizing for airing a controversial tape of a speech given by a black U.S. Dept. of Agriculture official that was edited to make it appear she was racist.
Shirley Sherrod was forced to resign Monday after conservative activist Andrew Breitbart posted a video clip of Sherrod’s speech at an NAACP dinner on his website BigGovernment.com in which she appeared to say that she had once discriminated against a white farmer. The edited clip did not include the portion of the speech in which Sherrod said the episode had taught her the importance of overcoming personal prejudices.
The video sparked a conflagration in the blogosphere and cable news that at first outraced the facts. O’Reilly was the first on cable to air the video, calling for Sherrod’s resignation Monday night. (By the time his taped show aired, she in fact had already resigned, a fact Fox News noted on the screen.)
On Wednesday, he said he should have gotten the full story first. “I owe Ms. Sherrod an apology for not doing my homework, for not putting her remarks into the proper context,” he said on "The O'Reilly Factor," adding that his own words had been taken out of context by critics in the past. “I well understand the need for honest reporting.”
The rapid-fire denunciation of Sherrod, followed by hasty backtracking by her critics, underscored how quickly controversies can mushroom and then disintegrate in the current media age. Her resignation made headlines on cable news Monday night, getting covered extensively by Fox News’ prime-time commentators and reported on CNN before the context of her remarks was clear.
Both Sherrod and the NAACP – which first condemned her remarks, then reversed itself -- put the blame in part on Fox News for hyping the story, a charged the cable news channel rejected.
Michael Clemente, senior vice president of news editorial, said the network’s news programs reported the story with caution. “When I heard about this Monday morning and saw it on Breitbart’s website, I said, ‘OK, could be a story, let’s check it out,’ ” Clemente said. “We did the normal fact-finding we would do on any story.”
At an afternoon editorial meeting Monday, Clemente urged the staff to first get the facts and obtain comment from Sherrod before going on air, according to internal notes from the meeting that were provided to The Times. “Let’s make sure we do this right,” he said.
Sherrod ended up resigning Monday afternoon, hours before O’Reilly broke the story on his show. The first reported piece on Fox News, by correspondent James Rosen, aired on Tuesday morning, and included a second video clip that added context to Sherrod’s comments.
But Fox’s commentators showed less restraint. O’Reilly continued to condemn Sherrod’s comments on his show Tuesday night, saying she made a mistake, even after it had emerged that her words had been misrepresented.
On Wednesday, the host said that he “did not analyze the entire transcript, and that was not fair.” Still, O’Reilly called her a "longtime liberal activist" and said the language Sherrod used suggested that she “very well may see things through a racial prism." He said she belonged in the private sector, not working for the government.
CBS plans to launch a new one-hour daily talk show in October to replace the soap opera “As the World Turns,” which ends its 54-year run in September.
Among the program’s six celebrity co-hosts will be a face familiar to CBS viewers: “Big Brother” host Julie Chen, who also co-anchors the network’s morning newscast “The Early Show” and is married to CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves. The news of the pickup was first reported by the website Deadline Hollywood.
Because of her new role on the daytime talk show, Chen will no longer serve as a daily anchor on “The Early Show,” though she will continue to appear on the newscast, according to a person familiar with the arrangements.
The as-yet-untitled show, which resembles the popular ABC gabfest “The View,” will focus on topical entertainment and news stories through the eyes of mothers. Chen and Moonves had a baby boy, Charlie, in September, and she returned from maternity leave in May.
CBS spokesman Chris Ender said Moonves was not involved in the decision to pick up the show, which was decided by Nina Tassler, the network’s entertainment president.
“The pilot definitely stood out, screening and testing very well,” Ender said. “It’s a show with a familiar form but with big personalities and a distinct point of view. It broadens our slate of daytime shows and we think it has the potential to stand out and make some noise.”
The other five panelists will be “Roseanne” actress Sara Gilbert, who is also an executive producer, “21 Jump Street’s” Holly Robinson Peete, “America’s Got Talent” judge Sharon Osbourne, “The King of Queens” star Leah Remini and Broadway actress Marissa Jaret Winokur.
The talk show beat out three other pilots in contention for the “As The World Turns” slot: a remake of “Pyramid” hosted by Andy Richter, a cooking competition fronted by chef Emeril Lagasse and another talk show featuring Valerie Bertinelli.
Matthew Weiner doesn’t think he could handle Joan, “Mad Men’s” red-headed vixen.
"Joan is terrifying to me," the show’s creator told ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer in a Skype interview. "If you were to actually have intercourse with Joan, you might burst into flames."
Sawyer spoke to Weiner about the look of the show in advance of the series’ fourth season, which begins Sunday. (Mini spoiler alert!)
Weiner said the upstart ad firm started by Don Draper and his colleagues has “a different energy” than the bustling floor of Sterling Cooper. And Draper is now living in an apartment located in “the Marina del Rey of that time,” Weiner said.
“This is the divorced-dad locale,” he added. “It’s plush and it's velvety and it's masculine and it’s somewhat lacking in personal character … sort of the Oakwood apartments of its day.”
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PBS flexed its usual strength when the News and Documentary Emmy nominations were announced Thursday, racking up 37 nods for its coverage of Taliban youth, the death of Iranian protester Neda Agha-Soltan and a community battle over a mosque in West Virginia, among other topics.
The public television system was followed closely by CBS, which had a particularly good showing, scoring 31 nominations, including 16 for its long-running Sunday newsmagazine “60 Minutes.” HBO placed third with 20 nominations, one of its largest hauls ever, followed by National Geographic, which earned 19. NBC had 17 and ABC got 9.
“CBS Evening News With Katie Couric” may trail its rivals in the ratings, but it earned eight nominations, the most of the network evening broadcasts, including two for its “Follow the Money” investigative series. The top-rated “NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams” got six nods, while ABC’s “World News,” anchored last year by Charles Gibson, had one.
For the third year in a row, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences is recognizing “new approaches” to news, documentary and arts programming, categories that require entrants to demonstrate some form of innovation. That has led to a sizable representation of online productions, particularly by newspapers, which have stepped up their video work in recent years.
The websites of the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Boston Globe, San Jose Mercury News, Time and Canada’s Globe and Mail all scored nominations Thursday.
Latimes.com was nominated for best new approach to documentary programming for “Alabama’s Homeboys,” a multimedia piece about a program in which the Los Angeles gang intervention program Homeboy Industries sends former gang members to work with impoverished children in rural Alabama.
The academy announced that this year’s lifetime achievement award will be given to the accomplished documentarian Frederick Wiseman, who has made 30 films, many of them iconic pieces about American institutions.
Also up for an Emmy: Robert “Joe” Halderman, the former CBS “48 Hours Mystery” producer who pleaded guilty in March to attempted grand larceny for trying to extort late-night host David Letterman. Halderman, who is currently serving a six-month jail sentence, was part of a team that produced a piece about Amanda Knox, an American exchange student convicted of killing her roommate in Italy. The story was nominated for best continuing coverage of a news story by a newsmagazine.
Piers Morgan will stay at Sharon and Howie's table -- and he looks poised to get his own desk on CNN as well.
Morgan, the British journalist best known in the U.S. as a judge on NBC's "America's Got Talent," just struck a new three-year deal to stay on the program, where he serves alongside Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel. In the meantime, the deal will free him to negotiate to replace Larry King in CNN's coveted 9 p.m. Eastern berth, according to sources familiar with the situation. Last month, King announced he would retire after 25 years on "Larry King Live."
Morgan has been rumored for weeks as a possible replacement for King, but his NBC deal had been a major sticking point. Under the terms of the new contract, Morgan's duties for "America's Got Talent" will take precedence over any responsibilities he will have at CNN. The show has been a staple of NBC's summer lineup since 2006.
Networks seldom release talent to work for other outlets, and talent-sharing arrangements are rarer still, CNN's Anderson Cooper and PBS' Charlie Rose being notable exceptions. One factor that helped sweeten the deal for NBC was that Turner Broadcasting, CNN's parent company, offered NBC some financial concessions on other deals involving the two companies.
The King show was during the 1990s a major stop for political candidates and other newsmakers -- Ross Perot's appearances during his 1992 presidential bid were particularly closely watched -- but the program's fortunes have lately fallen, along with the rest of CNN's prime-time lineup.
HBO followed its big sweep of Emmy nominations Thursday with some news Friday about its next major project expected to be a big awards contender. The network announced that “Boardwalk Empire,” a period drama set in tumultuous, Prohibition-era Atlantic City, N.J., will premiere Sept. 19. That means the series will be launching just as the broadcast networks are premiering all their new fall shows -- a sign HBO must feel particularly confident in its prospects.
The series stars Steve Buscemi as the corrupt quasi-fictional politician Nucky Thompson, who turns the ban on alcohol to his advantage. Martin Scorsese serves as executive producer and directed the pilot. The show was created by Terence Winter, a "Sopranos" writer, who recruited much of the crew from that program to join him.
Last November, The Times got a look at the set for the series built on a riverside parking lot in an industrial area in Brooklyn, N.Y., which includes a 300-foot-long replica of the Atlantic City boardwalk, circa 1920. From the story:
The elaborate set, which took three months to build, matches the scope of the project: sherbet-hued shops peddling palm readings, postcards and saltwater taffy line a 45-foot-wide boardwalk ringed with trucked-in sand. There's even a "Baby Incubator" building, modeled after a real baby hospital where tourists on the boardwalk gawked at underweight infants.
Dozens of extras wearing fedoras and fur-collared coats strolled down the pine boards on a recent sunny afternoon, weaving past wicker chairs pushed by young men in knickers and argyle socks. On the other side of the makeshift beach rose a massive blue screen, on which the show's editors will digitally insert footage of the Atlantic Ocean. (They'll also have to scrub out the top of the Empire State Building, whose spire juts up incongruously in the distance.)