The Mr. Nice Guy Show Blog

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My thoughts on what's goin' on in the world,

just like years ago on the radio.

Saturday, March 08, 2003

Where's Johnny?

In 1992, after 30 years of hosting The Tonight Show, Johnny Carson retired and became practically a hermit.

For many, he was an American popular culture phenomenon and one of the greatest entertainers of our time. What the hell happened to the guy is a question many of us have been asking since '92.

In June of '02, Carson came out of hiding and granted an interview to Bill Zehme of Esquire. I finally got around to reading it the other day...and it is wonderful. I'm only gonna paste the citation below. It's worth a trip to the library...and you can probably get to it using a periodical database available through your library's Web site with a library card.

Carson was not without flaw. He reportedly drank too much and was physically abusive to at least his first wife. See the book King of the Night: the Life of Johnny Carson by Laurence Leamer. Nonetheless, we still have to admire the many hours of smiles he gave us...and wish he wasn't so invisible these days.

Title: The Man Who Retire.
Source: Esquire, Jun 2002, Vol. 137 Issue 6, p88, 12p, 3c
Author(s): Zehme, Bill
Abstract: Features former television show host Johnny Carson. Television appearances after his last show; Reason why he resigned from the show; Details of his last show.


Friday, March 07, 2003

No War With Iraq

See coverage from The Nation.


Thursday, March 06, 2003

Fair Pay for Library Workers!

Here's an important resolution working its way through the bureaucratic maze at the American Library Association. It is very important. America's librarians (you're only a librarian if you hold a master's degree in library and information science) and support staff go to work every day to fight ignorance, enrich lives and make the world a better place...and are rewarded with peanuts for it. That's gotta change.

WHEREAS there are significant numbers of library employees working in the United States, who are not paid at rates commensurate with their education, training, and level of skills, and

WHEREAS the Code of Ethics of the American Library Association states that we “advocate conditions of employment that safeguard the rights and welfare of all employees of our institutions,” and

WHEREAS effective libraries are essential to the social and intellectual life of the nation, and the recruitment and retention of qualified librarians and library support personnel is essential to their effectiveness,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the American Library Association-Allied Professional Association shall adopt a policy of encouraging all agencies that fund libraries—public and private—library systems, consortia, local associations, and individual libraries throughout the nation to adopt salary schedules that incorporate the issue of pay equity and adequately compensate librarians and library support personnel for their education, training and skills, and

FURTHERMORE that these salary schedules be, at a minimum, consistent with the standard of living in their respective communities, and with “living wage” principles.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the American Library Association-Allied Professional Association shall designate one week each year as “Fair Pay for Library Workers Week,” during which library employees shall engage in activity and publicity aimed at educating library users about the knowledge, skills and qualifications of library employees, the kinds of work they do, the necessary services they provide, and the inadequate wages and salaries many of them receive, with a particular focus on the need for all libraries to pay all their employees at least a living wage and at rates commensurate with their education, training and skills.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED the President of ALA-APA communicate this resolution to, and take steps to work on fair pay issues with, all relevant entities within and without ALA including, but not limited to, all state, territorial, and regional chapters of ALA; AASL, ACRL, ALTA, ARL, ASCLA, LAMA, and PLA; and the Staff Organizations Round Table; and the Special Libraries Association, the National Committee on Pay Equity, and unions, state libraries, municipalities, school boards, boards of trustees, and other government and funding agencies.



...against the war. Over 12,000 of 'em.


Say What???

Well, the geniuses at CBS - the "Tiffany Network" - have done it again...

Report: Saddam Translator Had Fake Accent
Thu Mar 6, 3:22 AM ET

NEW YORK - A man employed by CBS News to speak the words of Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) during his interview with Dan Rather last week reportedly adopted a fake Arabic accent.

CBS News hired Steve Winfield, a Screen Actors Guild member with no such accent in real life. Winfield is advertised on the Web as a specialist in foreign accents, the Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday.

Winfield spoke Hussein's words after they had been translated by three independent Arabic translators, CBS said.

He recorded the audio "in a voice compatible with the piece," CBS spokeswoman Sandra Genelius said on Thursday.
The translation was fully accurate and "in complete compliance with CBS News standards," she said.

The Rather interview was seen by more than 17 million viewers on CBS' "60 Minutes II" a week ago.

Does this, perhaps, explain why I rarely watch TV news anymore?
Have they no shame...or common sense? They don't think they did anything wrong here. Hello???

Why didn't they also have the guy sing a medley of show tunes?
Why not just have Jeff Probst (host of Survivor) or Ray Romano read the translation?


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Sunday, March 02, 2003

Showbiz and Politics

I hear last week's Grammy Awards show was [much to the chagrin of CBS, which really, really wants a war] a funny forum for anti-war sentiments.

I am against the war, but I'm also against lunkheads like Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst getting on national TV, telling everyone that we're all in "aggreeance" on the subject. Why do I doubt the guy has ever even read a newspaper? Is he qualified to speak on the subject?

Alan Pergament, my fave TV columnist, has similar feelings, as expressed in his 2/27 column in the Buffalo News. I check his columns every week; visit and you'll see why he's so good.

Attention, entertainers: Leave the politics out of the show
By Alan Pergament

In one of the more memorable moments in Hollywood last month, Evan Marriott, a k a "Joe Millionaire," was being interviewed by TV critics during a party.

I was one of them, listening to answers on silly subjects, including his hair style. When I thought I heard someone bring up Iraq, I couldn't flee fast enough.

The last thing I wanted to do was listen to a big dumb guy on a reality show give me his views on anything connected to Iraq. You have to draw a line somewhere during interviews with people on reality shows. Iraq was my line.

Which brings me to the Grammy Awards controversy over the apparent request, by either CBS or the awards committee, for winners to abstain from spouting their feelings about the looming war.

Media and pop music critics protested this act of censorship. It was most notably ignored by Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit, who said, "This war should go away as quickly as possible."

I'm no advocate of censorship, but the last thing I want to hear during the Grammy Awards is how some musician feels about President Bush's policies. It would be hard to know whether the statement is being made by someone who has done his or her homework or someone just trying to get a rise out of the audience.

As far as I can tell, there aren't exactly a lot of Bob Dylans and Phil Ochs' out there making political statements in their music these days. Unless, I'm missing something hidden in "Soak Up the Sun."

Durst's statement was so poorly constructed that it could be taken a few ways. By saying "this war should go away as quickly as possible," he could have meant the United States should get in and get it over with quickly.

The purpose of the Grammy Awards is to have fun and celebrate music and forget about world events. The winners and presenters often are about as well known to most Americans as the people on ABC's "I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here." I'm betting most Americans over the age of 40 wouldn't know Fred Durst from Kirsten Dunst.

Many of us didn't want to hear Durst, Norah Jones, Eminem or Nelly talking about the war anymore than we want to hear ABC reality mates Downtown Julie Brown, Cris Rudd, Melissa Rivers or Stuttering John do so live on TV from Australia.

This isn't to say there isn't a time and a place for celebrities to have their voices heard. Susan Sarandon and Mike Farrell, who actually do their homework, often are invited to use their celebrity to argue against the war. They did so on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday, hours before the Grammys aired.

And then there's Bill Maher, who lost his job as host of ABC's "Politically Incorrect" after he said something after 9/11 that exploded in his face. He has a new weekly show on HBO, "Real Time With Bill Maher," which won't be censored. It premiered last Friday and was loaded with discussions about the war that undoubtedly didn't play well in the Bush White House.

Maher is a very clever wordsmith, who simplifies issues to get his anti-war point across. Fortunately, he allows dissent. On his premiere show, his guests included a hawkish California politician, a conservative talk show guest (Ann Coulter), a middle-of-the road comedian, Larry Miller, and cultural critic Michael Eric Dyson.

The discussion was intelligent and came from multiple points of view, something that was unlikely to happen if a Grammy winner gave a sound bite view of war.

And the best way to get a handle on the war discussion is to get many points of views, something that network and cable TV certainly provide.

One of my favorite shows is "Reliable Sources," the CNN media show hosted by Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post. Last weekend, his guests included Katty Kay of the BBC, who explained the European opposition to Bush's policies. She said some Europeans refer to Bush's language as "fluent Texan."

"You can sense people (in Europe) are dismissive of America's position," said Kay, "because of Bush's language."

Kay's remark may have been music to the ears of the anti-war movement everywhere. She isn't a celebrity. Her opinion was made on a program that doesn't get anywhere near the ratings of the Grammys. But you can assume that, unlike Joe Millionaire or anyone on the Grammy broadcast, she certainly knows what she is talking about.

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