Category Archives: Celebrities

Rep. Weiner tweets his wienie

When Facebook tells you your password’s been compromised  … it’s probably a call to immediate action.

Anthony Weiner. BPaper photo

Brooklyn’s Rep. Anthony Weiner — recently wed but a perennial source of single-guy-on-the-prowl off-color humor — was shown on Twitter in [drumroll, please!] all his glory.

His bulging wienie, cloaked in gray briefs, appeared Friday night on his official account, available to 45,000 followers (and by extension to an indeterminable number of their friends).

The NY Post is calling it Weiner-gate.

The congressman had been warned by Facebook about a week ago that his password might have been compromised. Although he’s a proud technophile, like most users, he took no action, giving the hacker plenty of time to engineer mischief.

Weiner had been tweeting about a hockey game a few minutes before the shot went up [“followers of my lame hockey tweets recall i picked tb and nashville”]; he was monitoring his stream and quickly spiked the offending item — but not before it had been retweeted and screen-grabbed by several followers, the Post reports.

He quickly posted, “Tivo shot. FB hacked. Is my blender gonna attack me next?” and later, “Touche Prof Moriarity. More Weiner Jokes for all my guests! #Hacked!”

The congressman’s spokesman, Dave Arnold, told the Post that the wiener wasn’t Weiner’s (although we’re not certain if Arnold used those exact words).

Once again, for members Congress and all of us plebeians, the gods of social media are not to be trifled with. Protect your passwords!

Here’s the full NY Post account.

• • •

Who’s the Weiner? Let’s say he’s not afraid to speak his mind; he will not yield. Here’s the congressman’s classic House explosion last summer in defense of 9/11 emergency responders—

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“Friday” — Coping with instant fame.

13-year-old Rebecca Black is the latest viral sensation. Her music video, “Friday,” has topped 28million. It’s also subjected her to a massive amount of online ridicule. Certainly, she’s crying all the way to the bank.

Here’s Black’s first TV interview, on Good Morning America. On Friday. Her dream? To perform with Justin Bieber — whose music she topped on last week’s iTunes sales chart.

SuperBowl commercials: Best [Chrysler’s hymn to Detroit] and Worst [Groupon’s tasteless humor]

My personal favorite: American industry, American workers, and the power of a great American city, by Chrysler

Groupon easily wins for the worst ad. Unless you agree that saving $15 at a Tibetan restaurant in Chicago is the equal of the cultural annihilation and genocide that’s been underway in Tibet, you might even call it creepy. What will they think of next — equating the Holocaust with one of the Second Avenue Deli’s incomparable hot pastrami sandwiches? All this proves is that having a company valued at $6-billion doesn’t mean you have a dime’s worth of common sense or an ounce of sensitivity.

Twitter exploded last night with instant revilement over Groupon’s commercials. This morning, there were plenty of angry posts by bloggers and newspaper writers. Time asks: “Did they merely push the envelope, or did they cross a line?” The NY Times wondered “whether the start-up has burned through a lot of good will.” Groupon’s hometown newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, said the company “cheapened itself” when it “trivialized the oppression of the people of Tibet.”

Meanwhile, the Chinese — oppressors of Tibet — were also not happy about the spot (but, obviously, for other reasons).

In addition to the Tibet spot, Groupon prepared two other commercials:

In a bid to illustrate that it understands that the problems of Tibet, the Brazilian rainforest, and high seas whaling are indeed serious, Groupon created a web page that invites viewers to contribute money to aid these causes. But even here, Groupon is on slippery ground. Under Cuba Gooding Jr’s video about whaling, there’s a “urgent message” and a “donate” button in which viewers are urged to donate $15 to Greenpeace — and get a $15 Groupon credit in exchange: “Your essentially free donation will go to help end commercial whaling.” Greenpeace is hardly a universally admired advocate. Meanwhile, no kickbacks are offered for contributions to Tibet, the rainforest, or building schools “in some of the world’s poorest villages” (the schools video was not yet up).

The attitude conveyed by last night’s commercials might have been predictable — it’s reflected in this commercial that was prepared by Groupon when it was just getting started, in early 2009 [WARNING: the following video may not be suitable for young children] :

You’ll find all of the SuperBowl commercials through a link at YouTube.

Royals Tweet, taking engagement to the Wall

The British Royal Family, which only last week launched a Facebook page for Queen Elizabeth (titled The British Monarchy), today Tweeted news of Prince William’s engagement to Catherine Middleton.

The Royals also posted an update on Facebook (generating 4,950 “likes” and 1,262 comments in 5 hours) which links to the Prince of Wales’ website (“the official website of Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, Prince William and Prince Harry).

On the OM front, People magazine is reporting that Kate Middleton’s family is “absolutely delighted” about the engagement. And the Washington Post phones in a report on how Royal engagements were announced in old days, before Social Media.

Charmed! … and Mazel Tov, of course.

Shakespeare, as he spoke it

Shakespeare‘s words, as few Americans have heard them, are being spoken this week at the University of Kansas, where “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is being performed in Original Pronunciation (helpful subtitles added).

“When most people imagine how Shakespeare sounded, they probably think of Laurence Olivier’s British-accented performance in Hamlet or Marlon Brando’s crisp, trilling delivery of Mark Antony’s funeral speech in Julius Caesar,” The Atlantic reported in anticipation of last Friday night’s opening. But they’d be wrong.

UK theater professor Paul Meier says Shakespeare hewed closer to casual American speech than might have been imagined — and what better place to give this voice a stage than middle America. It’s the first time there’s been a full Original Pronunciation performance in North America.

“American audiences will hear an accent and style surprisingly like their own in its informality and strong r-colored vowels,” Meier says in the Atlantic.

Let’s listen (this clip is from a rehearsal):

“Actors innately love to do accents,” Meier says on the next video. “To be able to switch from one accent to another is just a wonderful party trick and a very important credential for an actor.”

Meier discusses the process of reconstructing Shakespeare’s original accent:

“People didn’t spell correctly until the mid-17th center. So people spelled just anyway they wished. Shakespeare spelled his own name seven different ways. And so when you got a letter from someone you could hear their accent; when we get a letter from someone, we cannot hear their accent because spelling has been regularized.”

Which leads us to the rhymes. Without the correct (original) pronunciation, words that Shakespeare clearly meant to rhyme, don’t appear to rhyme.

NEWSBEAST: Tina Brown says Newsweek has ‘great DNA’; Web-centric Barry Diller’s in it for the printing press; Sidney Harman calls Brown ‘an indomitable force, THE unique talent in journalism’… And David Carr finds the merger worthy of ridicule

Barry Diller (Wired), Tima Brown (Observer.com), Sidney Harman (USC), David Carr (NYT)

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As 92-year-old Sidney Harman embraces his new role as a multimedia mogul with the unbound enthusiasm of a startup entrepreneur…

Barry Diller, his partner in the merger of Newsweek and Daily Beast, tells why the deal makes sense…

Tina Brown, who will edit both platforms, says she couldn’t be happier, and…

David Carr, the NY Times’ media columnist, finds the whole dance beyond ridiculous.

Let’s start with Diller, whose media ventures — including Daily Beast (which he’s reportedly funding to the tune of $10 million a year) — have until now all been New Media digital. But Diller said a few weeks ago that with or without Newsweek, Daily Beast would eventually have a print edition. He’s quoted in the NY Times:

Advertisers like to have a print representation of what they’re trying to say.

Harman, the nonagenarian electronics magnate who never owned a media company before buying Newsweek one month ago (for $1 and the assumption of $40 million in liabilities), acknowledges that he’s in for quite a ride. Appearing with Brown on media critic Howard Kurtz‘s CNN program “Reliable Sources” on Sunday, he said this about Brown, who he insisted was his only choice for Newsweek editor:

This is an indomitable force. This is the unique talent in journalism, thoroughly established, still gloriously curious, and to use her favorite word, totally animated. That’s an irresistible combination.

Brown, in turn, praised Harman:

In taking over Newsweek he really has done something amazingly courageous because he’s basically stuck his neck out and said, I believe in great journalism and I want to protect it.

And then Monday’s NY Times hit the porch.

Media columnist Carr ridicules the NewsBeast deal in a piece that begins:

Putting together The Daily Beast and Newsweek makes little financial sense, includes not much in the way of editorial synergies — is it The News Beast or The Daily Week? — and marries two properties that have almost nothing in common other than the fact that they both lose lots of money.

Other than that? A great idea. Brilliant, really. And it will be fun to watch.

Carr quotes a former media investment banker, Mark Edmiston:

If you leave Tina out of it for a moment, what is the model? I don’t see how you can take two money-losing businesses and put them together and come up with a single entity that makes money.

While Brown will (as always) be in the driver’s seat day-to-day, Harman said he’ll be very much involved. (Brown, for whom editorial independence has always been sacrosanct, will report to a board, not directly to Harman.)

Diller, meanwhile, told Kurtz by e-mail that he’ll be less involved. “I’ll be the cheerleader I’ve always been with the Beast, and chime in with my usual wayward ideas,” he said.

Newsweek is “a fantastic legendary brand and I have this tremendous weakness for fantastic legendary brands,” Brown told Kurtz, referring to her tenure at Vanity Fair and the New Yorker.

The DNA of that magazine is really a great great one. With the adrenalin and news metabolism of the Daily Beast joining forces with Newsweek’s terrific deep culture of news and quality — it’s a great combination and the two things are going to animate each other.

How difficult will it be to bring the two organizations together and to save Newsweek — which reportedly lost $40 million last year?

“It will be difficult, it will be manageable, it will be done,” Harman said.

Perhaps too difficult, in the view of the NY Times’ Carr, who concludes his column:

Imagine trying to sell packaged advertising: “Not only will you get a great ad position on a fresh, provocative Web site, but we will also sell you a large brand advertisement in a storied weekly that circulates to 1.5 million Americans.” Gee, that sounds like a very unusual animal, one that has the head of a goat and the backside of a cow.

When the merger talks fell apart three weeks ago, staff members at The Daily Beast were relieved and couldn’t help noticing that Ms. Brown seemed “almost giddy that she didn’t end up with this 1,000-pound rock strapped to her back,” according to one staff member who didn’t want to be quoted talking that way about the boss.

Now she has to get the rock off her back and start rolling it up a hill.

Here’s “Reliable Sources” (the NewsBeast segment is up first) —

Vodpod videos no longer available.

In print, out of Cleveland. An unqualified wow.

Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post calls this “one of the greatest front pages in the history of newspapers.”

Here’s how it came about … by Charles Apple at Poynter Online.