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Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: Hollywood

Herman Cain handily wins Florida GOP straw poll


Herman Cain, former Godfather's Pizza CEO, followed a strong showing at this week's GOP debate in Orlando by joining most of his fellow Republican presidential candidates in addressing the Faith and Freedom Coalition and the Conservative Political Action Conference, in the same Florida city.

One of those meaningless straw polls followed.

But, wait. This one was different. Cain won. He took nearly 40% of the 2,567 votes cast, far outpacing the purported front-runners, Govs. Rick Perry and Mitt Romney. That's a real PR setback for both losers and sets the stage for much media questioning of Perry about his stumbling campaign.

Romney had claimed he wasn't trying to win the straw poll, even though aides worked the phones, e-mails and aisles for him.

But Perry made an all-out free-breakfast-come-talk-with-me effort. And he lost, rather big-time, to a man who is the favorite of many conservatives, although a longshot to become the GOP's nominee.

Much of the GOP race attention has been focused on the Rock 'Em-Sock 'Em routine that's....

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What? California's Dianne Feinstein in poll trouble too?

Oh, no! Another Democratic senator in possible election trouble for 2012.

And from California already?

A new Field Poll just released this morning brings news that California's Sen. Dianne Feinstein is -- how can we put this in a liberal kind of way? -- approved by 41% of voters who want to see her reelected next year.California Democrat senator Dianne Feinstein 9-11

Unfortunately for her, more voters (fully 44%) disapprove of her continued employment in the U.S. Senate after 2012.

In blue California that makes for about a magnitude 5.2 quake.

The same poll finds that only 41% approve of Feinstein's job in Washington, while 39% disapprove.

That 41 approval number is the lowest the former mayor has ever had in her 20 years of no longer really living in California.

Another recent Field Poll showed many Californians are falling out of love with the teleprompter guy from Chicago. His California approval has slid below 50% for the first time ever, down to 46%.

That's a decline of about two points per month recently.

Is his slide now corroding the election prospects of even such party stalwarts as Feinstein?

Add to that the overall -- how can we say this in a polite way? -- disgust with the United States Congress (nine out of every 100 Californians now approve of those guys) and this could spell t-r-o-u-b-l-e for Democrats. They or independent allies need to lose only six seats to turn the Senate over to those people that Vice President Joe "#%$&*(@" Biden politely calls "barbarians."

Democrats next year are defending two-thirds of the 33 Senate seats on state ballots. Good luck with that at 9% unemployment.

President Obama, who's now passed Biden as the nation's most voluble, least effective job creator, is about due for another money run to Hollywood.  

Oh, look! Our pal, the well-connected Tina Daunt is writing in the Hollywood Reporter that the one-time 40-something star of the celebrity set is having real trouble now raking in the easy dough from disappointed West Coast Dems.

Maybe the 78-year-old chairman of the Senate Intelligence committee will factor that intelligence into her as yet unannounced decision on seeking a fourth term on the same ticket as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's former boss.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Mandel Ngan / Getty Images (Feinstein).

Rick Perry's debut gives MSNBC top GOP debate ratings so far


You could call it the Rick Perry bump.

Fox News trumpeted its ratings after the Aug. 11 Republican presidential debate in Ames, Iowa, and now MSNBC is snapping its suspenders about its numbers for Wednesday's GOP debate from beneath the wings of Air Force One inside the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.

Wednesday was the much-anticipated debate debut for Texas Gov. Perry, who announced his candidacy Aug. 13 and is already the field's front-runner. The debate aired on MSNBC, CNBC and Telemundo, and streamed live on

It drew 5.4 million viewers for MSNBC, with 1.7 million viewers in the key Adults 25-54 demographic. It's the highest-rated of the four Republican debates aired so far in 2011, with two previous ones on FNC and one on CNN.

MSNBC's predictable main post-debate "analysis," which spanned the cable channel's ideological spectrum from Ed Schultz to Al Sharpton, lost half the viewers, down to 2.7 million total, with 817,000 in the target demographics.

Also on hand were Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell and, for hAmericas-Got-Talent-Silhouettes-Dance-Troupeumor, Chris Matthews, who got no tingle from Perry.

But while MSNBC fielded its "A" team on analysis, no MSNBC personalities participated in the debate itself.

Moderators were Brian Williams of "NBC Nightly News" and John Harris, Politico's editor-in-chief, with a cameo question period by Telemundo's Jose Diaz-Balart for the immigration interrogations.

By contrast, June's CNN New Hampshire debate featured anchor John King, and both Fox News debates -- May in South Carolina and August in Iowa -- featured FNC anchors Bret Baier and Chris Wallace.

The next GOP debate is Monday at 5 p.m. Pacific in Tampa, Fla., co-sponsored by CNN and the Tea Party Express. It will be carried live on CNN, CNN International, and CNN Radio. Also available via live-stream in the CNN Apps for iPhone, iPad and Android.

While MSNBC got the Wednesday numbers, NBC was actually Politico's co-sponsor.

Since it's summer, it's a bit surprising that NBC didn't air its own debate -- except that Wednesday is the night of the "America's Got Talent" results show, which easily trumps choosing a presidential nominee.

The "AGT" show drew 7.9 million viewers, giving NBC the win for the evening in total viewers, and tying it with second-place CBS for the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demo.

When it comes to competitions, Americans are still more interested in who will wind up with the $1 million and headline a Las Vegas show than who might move into the White House in January 2013.


GOP debate scores big ratings for Fox News

Rick Perry grins, shrugs and swings away at Reagan Library GOP debate

Presidential debate: The most entertaining, unexpected, weirdest and awkward moments

-- Kate O'Hare

Media critic Kate O’Hare is a regular Ticket contributor. She also blogs about TV at Hot Cuppa TV and is a frequent contributor at entertainment news site Zap2it. Also follow O'Hare on Twitter @KateOH.

Speaking of 2012, follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the retweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photos: Rick Perry on a monitor at the Republican presidential debate at the Reagan Library; dance group Silhouettes on "America's Got Talent." Credits: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images (Perry); Trae Patton / NBC (Silhouettes).

Days of our lives at MSNBC: Is Al Sharpton in and Cenk Uygur back?


Al Sharpton's not quite in; Cenk Uygur may not be forever out; and Mitt Romney is a "mood ring."

Those are a few of the takeaways from an appearance Tuesday by MSNBC President Phil Griffin and hosts Rachel Maddow ("The Rachel Maddow Show"), Chris Matthews ("Hardball") and Lawrence O'Donnell ("The Last Word") before assembled journalists at the summer edition of the biannual Television Critics Association press tour. They were at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills.

Since the recent departure of Uygur, host of the Web and talk-radio political show "The Young Turks," from the 6 p.m. Eastern time slot on MSNBC, rumors circulated of the "imminent" hiring of radio host and combative civil-rights activist Al Sharpton as his replacement.

Asked about this, Griffin said, "No decision has been made yet. Last May, he was a regular on 'The Ed Show,' and he filled in for Ed [Schultz], and he did a very good job. And he....

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Sarah Palin documentary 'The Undefeated' expands to pay-per-view, DVD and even more theaters


While Sarah Palin's presidential ambitions remain an open question, the documentary about her is definitely launching a major campaign.

After a limited run in selected markets over the last two weekends, on Sunday, July 24, distributor ARC Entertainment announced a national rollout plan for director Stephen K. Bannon's "The Undefeated," which chronicles the former Alaska governor's political career before and after John McCain picked her to be his GOP running mate in the 2008 presidential election.

On Sept. 1, the film will be made available via On Demand and pay-per-view through national and regional cable and satellite operators, such as DirecTV, DISH Network and Time Warner Cable. After relying on....

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Sarah Palin documentary 'The Undefeated' to roll out to other cities


Much of Sarah Palin's outreach since the 2008 election has been through social media -- Facebook and Twitter -- with considerable impact.

Now it looks as though the documentary about her, "The Undefeated," has sought success with a similar strategy.

Directed and written by Stephen K. Bannon, the film opened this weekend in AMC Theatres in 10 selected digital markets -- the closest to Los Angeles being the city of Orange in Orange County -- going up against the opening of perhaps the biggest film of the summer, the final installment in the "Harry Potter" series.

According to a release Sunday from distributor ARC Entertainment, which partnered with digital distributor Cinedigm, the film grossed approximately $5,000 per screen through Saturday night, with "large markets trending towards weekend per screen averages above $10,000."

That's quite modest by Hollywood standards, but the rollout was booked quickly over three weeks, with marketing carried out through word-of-mouth and low-cost social media.

The release quotes Jill Newhouse Calcaterra, the chief marketing officer for Cinedigm, saying, " 'The Undefeated' is the perfect example of how digital cinema can benefit both producers and audiences. Starting with theater location selection, we worked quickly -- with precision accuracy -- to generate a terrific box-office result with virtually no marketing dollars.

"This is a new model that is going to benefit the entire entertainment industry and audiences who want to see unique products."

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What shall we name the nation's new 51st state?

South Korean troops patrol the DMZ with North Korea, file

Monday our buddy Tony Pierce wrote here about an idea to create a 51st state out of 13 Southern California counties. It's so crazy it just might work.

That would mean carving a brand-new L.A.-free red state out of what in recent years has been a politically blue wasteland in national politics riven with fiscal crises and legislative deadlocks.

According to calculations by the idea's sponsor, Jeff Stone, a Republican member of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, the new geographic entity would contain about 13 million residents, making it the fifth most populous state ahead of such dumps as Illinois and Pennsylvania.

Of its 13 existing counties, 11 have consistently voted Republican.So, unemployment would be low and the golf courses well-manicured.

Everyone over 18 could still vote. But for a refreshing change, surviving Democrats would experience the frustration of their presidential ballots being flushed down the toilet every four years.

One advantage of adding a 51st state is that President Obama would be a little less wrong when he refers to 57 states.

The new boundaries would also stick Nancy Pelosi's Bay Area California in with Los map of South California proposed as 51st stateAngeles. The two crowded, polluted urban areas deserve each other, and their residents could chat all they want about wine and NPR without boring hardworking conservative neighbors who can't afford maids.

The change would ease the Democratic president's political fundraising trips because he'd no longer have to throw in a town hall to feign that he was on the left coast for presidential duties to cover the cost of Air Force One.

As for water, the new state would simply follow Southern California tradition and steal it from others.

Hollywood celebrities attempting to cross the new state for Las Vegas would encounter outrageously high tolls equivalent to twice the current price of a movie ticket or combo pack at the concession stand. (Tom Selleck, Patricia Heaton and Jerry Bruckheimer would be exempt from such levies.)

Barstow could be the new state's summer capital. With its triple-digit temperatures, no one in their right mind would stay there longer than it takes to fill a gas tank and escape back onto the 15 or 40 to somewhere else.

With legislators shunning an uninhabitable capitol, the new government would save millions on their per diem expenses and the cost of ridiculous new laws that begin as pilot programs and metastasize into never-ending budget items with their own self-perpetuating constituencies.

The winter capital could be San Diego, which would be renamed St. David.

The new state would, of course, get the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base, the Miramar Naval Air Station and the San Diego naval base, including the nuclear sub facilities.

That's because with the GOP always in charge of the 51st state there would finally be some serious border security with old Mexico, possibly modeled on the Korean DMZ.

A new Republican state cobbled from the smartest part of old California would also benefit the nation, creating a solid southern defense line of GOP-run states from Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana through Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.

A mutual interstate defense pact would protect the country's southern border against further illegal gun-running operations into Mexico by U.S. federal authorities.

However, let's be honest, "South California, Not as Bad as You Might Think" is just a lame name. That implies some kind of parity with another California. So does California Adjacent. Flyover California doesn't sing. The Other California could confuse. We're working on alternate names and seek Ticket readers' input as well.

Valetland is a non-starter. Uruguay is already taken. New California could perhaps work. West Arizona might be good, reflecting the conservative politics of the new state and its Grand Canyon neighbor. Not Nevada has possibilities.

The state of Good California has a nice contrasting sound with what's there now. Maybe English Mexico could be a nominee. Or Newer Mexico.

What's your idea for the new state's name?


Patriotic celebrations create more Republicans, Harvard study warns

No recession for 454 Obama aides: They'll make $37,121,463 this year

Poll support for California Gov. Brown';s tax hikes is ominous sign for U.S. taxpayers too

-- Andrew Malcolm

Speaking of health, don't forget to follow The Ticket's Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photo: Kim Kyung-Hoon / Reuters (South Korean troops patrol the DMZ with North Korea, file); Map of the proposed 51st state, South California Credit: Los Angeles Times.

Sunday shows: Sinise, B. Clinton, Kasich, Walker

Gary Sinise 6-11

ABC's "This Week" with Christiane Amanpour: George Will, Mel Martinez, Michelle Heee, Jose Antonio Vargas, Richard Stengel, Jill Lepore and Michael E. Dyson.

Bloomberg's "Political Capital with Al Hunt:" Bill Clinton and Rahm Emanuel.

CBS' "Face the Nation" with Bob Schieffer: Govs. John Kasich (R-OH), Scott Walker (R-WI) and Deval Patrick (D-MA) and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D-LA).

CNN Fareed Zakaria "GPS":

CNN's "State of the Union" with Candy Crowley:

Fox News Channel "Fox News Sunday" with Chris Wallace: Gary Sinise, Sens. John Cornyn (-TX), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), with Chris Stirewalt, Bill Kristol, Nina Easton and Kirsten Powers.

NBC's "Meet the Press" with David Gregory: Tennis instead.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Why wait until Sunday for politics? Click here now to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or follow us @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle now. Use the ReTweet buttons above to share this item with friends.

Photo: Karen Bleier / AFP Getty Images (Sinise, R-Hollywood).

Michele Bachmann has not yet clinched the GOP nomination, as best we can tell for now

Michele Bachmann in South Carolina 6-28-11

Yes, yes, Mitt Romney is still in the Republican race. And Ron Paul. And Tim Pawlenty. And probably Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain and Rick Santorum for all any news consumers know.

It just seems like the men have been plunked down on some distant island set for "Survivor: Tampa Bay."

The guys are all gasping for media oxygen this week as Congresswoman Michele Bachmann rolls out her campaign for the GOP nomination. And Sarah Palin still doesn't.

Although we did get Sarah Palin at the Sarah Palin movie premiere with husband Todd. In Iowa, too. If you can believe the coincidence.

As it does with female political candidates, especially conservative ones, the media has focused on Bachmann's mis-speaks about the essential location of where a dead movie actor was born. Next come diminishing notations on her clothes, hair and what she can see from her front porch in Minnesota.

Maybe one day Bachmann will even refer to the president of Canada, which doesn't have one. Wouldn't that be stupid for a lawyer aspiring to the White House? Oh, wait. That was Barack Obama in a Democratic candidate forum back in 2007. Didn't get much coverage for some reason.

But the Bachmann camp has to be pleased with the initial rollout.Sarah Palin in Pella Iowa 6-28-11 She's virtually tied with Romney in last weekend's respected Des Moines Register Iowa Poll with a fraction of his negatives.

Following her impressive performance in the opening New Hampshire Republican debate earlier this month, Bachmann scored a media coup Tuesday on her first full campaign day.

From the same room in Manchester, N.H., she was on five (5!) morning shows, speaking directly to millions of Americans preparing for their day when the breakfast crowd doesn't so much watch TV as listen to it. And all for free.

Not only that but Mark McKinnon, the savvy state and national campaign veteran for candidates in both parties, gave Bachmann an excellent review in a widely-read Daily Beast piece.

And McKinnon warned her critics to ignore the media's reflexive gaffe-itis coverage and take the top House fundraiser seriously.

Meanwhile, Gallup reports Bachmann now enjoys a 69% name recognition, up from 52% in February. And she ties with Cain for the highest Positive Intensity Score of any GOP candidate Gallup tracks.

Our colleague Kate O'Hare will examine that quintet of Bachmann morning show interviews closer here in a few hours. But Bachmann parried other queries while getting out her bio message: long marriage, small business owner, mother of five, foster mother of 23, tax litigation attorney, legislator, returning Americans to control of Washington.

Then, she took her tea party message on to enthusiastic crowds in South Carolina, leaving in her trail a new Suffolk University Poll showing a significant gain for her. Bachmann surged from virtually nothing (3%) in May to 11% now, the largest gain by any GOP candidate.

She's still far behind the 36% of Romney, who gained only one point this month, and has begun to separate herself froa young Sarah Palin supporter Pella Iowa 6-28-11m other Republicans, none of whom are in double digits.

Meanwhile, a new Rasmussen Reports survey  of likely voters finds only 9% say they are unwilling to vote for a woman as president. Fully 82% now say they would. That's up from 71% in early 2008.

Interestingly, almost three-out-of-four (73%) now say a female U.S. president is likely within 10 years, when Hillary Clinton will be only 74.

Speaking of presidents, the current one felt the need to also be in Iowa Tuesday.

It seems that 66% of Americans believe their country is on the wrong track under his leadership, nevermind the unauthorized war against Libya.

So, in optimistic way-to-go remarks to aluminum workers, the Democrat pleaded for more time for someone to do something about creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs across the nation because things were so bad when he took over 2 1/2 years ago and promised immediate improvement with the humongous stimulus spending bill that was for sure going to keep unemployment below 8% but didn't.

Obama will have a hard time winning Iowa's electoral votes next year, which makes other Midwestern states even more important, although many now have Republican governors.

Speaking of Republicans, Sarah Palin -- who isn't running for anything, you understand -- felt the need to show up in Iowa too.

In little old Pella, which is southeast of Des Moines and southwest of Malcom, a lovely community that misspells its name. The occasion was the galactic premiere of the movie "The Undefeated" about the successful parts of Palin's life and career.

If Palin is not running for the Republican Party's presidential nomination, why would she ever choose to be in rural Iowa when the humidity can exceed the temperature? On the other hand, if she is running, why hasn't she contacted any party organizers or caucus workers?

Sounds like a mystery sequel.


861 days and $787 billion in, Obama wants more time for job creation

Bristol Palin says Mom knows if she's running in 2012 but the family remains mum

As Obama talks war, Americans see only economic gloom; 66% wrong track, only 23% sense recovery

-- Andrew Malcolm

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle.Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photos: Emmanuel Parisse / AFP / Getty Images (Bachmann in South Carolina, June 28); Brian C. Frank / Reuters (Palin and a young Palin fan in Pella, June 28).

Sarah Palin in Iowa for premiere of 'The Undefeated,' a new chapter in the politics of documentaries


Sarah Palin heads to Iowa on Tuesday, but whether or not electoral politics are involved is in the eye of the beholder.

Palin has to face jury duty in July in Alaska, but, according to the Christian Science Monitor, the former Alaska governor and her husband, Todd Palin, are first going to Pella, Iowa, for the June 28 premiere of "The Undefeated."

Filmmaker Stephen K. Bannon's documentary portrait of Palin and her political record goes into limited distribution by ARC Entertainment in AMC Theatres the week of July 15 (locally, it will be in the City of Orange, in Orange County).

Interestingly -- likely coincidentally -- President Obama will also be in Iowa on Tuesday, promoting manufacturing jobs in Bettendorf. No word whether the two have a date to split corn dogs, but we doubt it.

Approached by Palin's camp to produce short films for SarahPAC, Bannon decided instead....

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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