Monday, November 27, 2006

Hard to Digest


In a week devoted to eating, there were a few morsels left overfor a news hungry public to digest.

The first was the unholy alliance between Rupert Murdoch and O.J. Simpson who had teamed up in an attempt to bomb American culture back to theStone Age with ``If I Did It,'' an "imaginary confession" in which Simpson was to have described how he would have killed his ex-wife in a combinationbook/TV interview package.

The project caused such widespread revulsion that even Murdoch, no stranger to bad taste, had to pull the plug on it.

``I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project,'' explained Murdoch, whose News Corp. ownsboth Fox Broadcasting and the book's publisher. Of course, a dozen Fox network affiliates said they would not air the two-part sweeps month special, and numerous stores had either declined to sell the book or had promised to donate any profits to charity.

The bottom line is that no self-respecting advertiser would have participated in this travesty. And with no advertising, there are noprofits.

Just in case you thought Murdoch had suddenly grown some moral backbone.

After all, he oversees a network that has brought us such reality offerings as "Playing It Straight," in which a female college student was asked to sort through 14 men, most of them gay, to find the straight one who would be the love of her prime-time life, not to mention "My Big Fat Obnoixous Boss" and "When Animals Attack."

As for Simpson, he'd perform as a trained seal if the money was right. We all know he needs the cash so he can continue the hunt for his wife's killer, a search that appears to take place mostly on golf courses.

And finally, never underestimate the entrepeneurial instincts ofthe our fellow Americans. Even though Simpson's book was pulled off the market, a copy showed up this week for sale on eBay for $4000.

Meanwhile, back in Chicago, the Cubs, with much flourish, proudly announced they had signed free-agent outfielder Alfonse Soriano for$136 million over eight years. The team has spent $200 million on player salaries in the last week or so.

The thing to remember here is that the Cubs are owned by theTribune Co., the same folks who own and have been slowly strangling the life out of the Los Angeles Times, threatening to turn a once-proud paper into the Penny Saver.

Apparently, the boys back in Chicago favor runs over reporters and pitching over Pulitzers.

Despite an alarming decline in circulation at the Times, theTribune folks plan to cut back the staff even more, apparently deciding that the answer to an increasingly dissastified readership is to give them even less. Meanwhile, the employees at Times, which has achieved more success in the last five years than the Cubs have in the last 100, must wish they would have spent more time learning to hit a curve ball.

And let's hear it for Michael Richards, the comic who did the impossible this week. In one profanity-laced, racist rant, Richards made Mel Gibson look like Mahatma Gandhi.

Richards, who gaind fame as Kramer on the "Seinfeld" TV series, apparently didn't take kindly to a couple of hecklers during his stand-up routine at the Laugh Factory. He unleashed a tirade directed at the hecklers, whowere black, that was so vitriolic it would have made George Wallace blush.

His career in shambles, he apologized the next day. Next we can expect Richards to enroll in an anger management program, blame alcohol and claim he was molested by a priest.

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