Tom Brokaw Saved MSNBC From ItselfAccording to the former NBC News anchor, it was his idea to tone down Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews, and also he who saved the network’s relationship with the McCain campaign.
Fifty Cent’s Baby Mama Will Get Rich or Die Tryin’The battle between 50 Cent and Shaniqua Tompkins rages on, Columbia bulldozes most of the Upper West Side, more big changes at the Murdoch-owned ‘Wall Street Journal,’ and other epic battles, in our daily roundup of news from the law, real-estate, media, and finance sectors.
Angelo Mozilo Just Wants to Help PeopleLAW
• After testifying in front of the House Committee on Government and Oversight Reform last week about the gargantuan pay package he picked up while his company hemorrhaged money, Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo made Congress a nice little offer: “Mr. Mozilo said he had left a card in each Congressional office with a help line for constituents having problems with their loans. He added that if the number didn’t work, “call me— I take this very seriously.’” [NYT]
• Since the federal death-penalty statute was revived in 1998, New York federal juries have been reluctant to impose the death sentence. [NYT]
• You know those ads for legal firms in the Metro? Yeah, they’re really not all that effective. [Legal Blog Watch]
Wall Street’s Golden Idols All Have Feet of ClayFINANCE
• The struggle to find a successor at Merrill and Citi demonstrates another big flaw in the current culture of Wall Street: Do-or-die standards, and growing demands on public executives, have left firms with no succession plan and few capable of stepping in to take over. Both firms have been forced to turn outside for help: Laurence Fink, the CEO of BlackRock, has been approached about O’Neal’s old job, while Robert Willumstad and John Thain are in the lead to take Prince’s place. [WSJ]
• Why did Chuck Prince and Stan O’Neal fail? They took Gordon Gecko’s favorite maxim—”I create nothing, I own”—a little too seriously, and forgot the other part of banking is to sell, sell, sell. [NYT]
• Andrew Ross Sorkin dons his Miss Manners cap to explain the rules of corporate courting—and why Stan O’Neal’s worrywart parents, the Merrill Lynch board, were only looking for an excuse when they grounded him for asking Wachovia to “merge.” [NYT]
Brian Williams Likes Thin-Crust Pizza, Ambien, and Claire DanesName: Brian WilliamsJob: Anchor and managing editor, NBC Nightly News; sometime blogger. Brian will host on Saturday Night Live this weekend — which just got especially exciting because of the writers strike!
Neighborhood: Upper East Side
Who’s your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional?
What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in New York?
Sacco Pizza (819 Ninth Avenue, between 54th and 55th) is most consistently my favorite place in a hurry. Low-rent but the best thin-crust pizza in the city.
In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job?
Compile, write, and edit the day’s news, while hopefully influencing young people on our staff.
Ew, Lance Armstrong Is Hooking Up with Ashley Olsen?Lance Armstrong and Ashley Olsen hooked up at Rose Bar and then left at 2 a.m. The Jewish Theater of New York claims that the Times won’t review its plays because the paper is anti-Semitic; the Times says it won’t review its plays because they are bad. Kim Cattrall actually showed up to work before the other SATC cast mates for once. AOL chairman and CEO Randy Falco was roasted by Bob Costas and Brian Williams, among others. Ivana Trump made a kind of funny joke about Harper’s Bazaar editor Glenda Bailey being the devil in Prada at Denise Rich’s Angel Ball. (Diddy also left the ball with model May Anderson.) Michael Jackson went to Brooklyn to shoot a cover for Ebony magazine and was sweet despite prattling on about how much he likes kids.
Rachel Sklar Available for All Your Quoting NeedsThere’s already been much ado about Charlie Gibson’s refusal to play along with Stephen Colbert’s goofy “WristStrong” campaign, and the Times article that exposed the mini-controversy. Colbert asked the Gibson and Katie Couric and Brian Williams to wear bracelets on air in order to raise awareness of “wrist violence,” and Katie and Brian, the fun anchors, are playing along. In the article Huffington Post media editor Rachel Sklar said their participation shows “good humor” and “humanity,” and then Portfolio blogger Jeff Bercovici jumped on her for it — pointing out that the whole reason people like hearing the news from Charlie Gibson is because he isn’t fun, he’s serious. But our question is why was blogger Rachel Sklar quoted as a TV news expert in the first place? Why not someone with experience in the biz who could lend more insight — or an insider? Because the article was written by young Brian Stelter, a.k.a. the wunderkind behind the blog TVNewser, that’s why. Before he was recently hired by the Gray Lady, he was Sklar’s co-worker and buddy at Mediabistro. Silly Stetler — you can’t just quote your friends. This is the Times, not the Observer!
Two Out of Three Anchors Join Colbert in Wrist Stunt [NYT]
Charlie Gibson Only Cool in the Ratings [Mixed Media]
Today, Andy Rooney and Charlie Gibson Equally UnfunnyMEDIA
• Don Imus, his big settlement with CBS finally behind him, is now looking to make a comeback on ABC radio. [NYP]
• Andy Rooney apologizes for crossing the line from crotchety to racist – sort of. [NYT]
• Charlie Gibson wants you to remember that he, unlike Katie Couric and Brian Williams, is humorless. [NYT]
in other news
Good News for ABC, or Just Bad News for NBC?The network-news world is quaking: ABC’s World News Tonight, with Charles Gibson, is overtaking Brian Williams on NBC’s Nightly News in the ratings after years and years of NBC domination. While New York has had our issues with ole Charlie, the achievement is nevertheless impressive. And NBC, for its part, is responding the way TV networks tend to respond: It’s firing longtime Nightly executive producer John Reiss. But infinitely more fascinating than Reiss’s imminent canning is the way Gibson is catching up. While NBC’s evening-news audience hemorrhaged over half a million viewers in 2006, ABC’s audience grew by a mere 60,000. In other words, WNT isn’t really luring eyeballs away from Nightly. It’s just that people are abandoning the format in droves, and 2006, while a fine year for ABC, was a particular crappy one at 30 Rock. So celebrate while you can in Disney world; no doubt your viewers are disappearing next. (Does Katie even have any left to lose?) Meantime, pass the Geritol.
NBC May Oust Evening News Executive [NYT]
Earlier: Charles in Charge [NYM]
It’ll Always Be Brian Williams’s ShowMEDIA
• NBC to fire Nightly News exec producer John Reiss. But is it for ratings, or does Reiss not get along with anchor Brian Williams? [NYT and LAT]
• Tunku Varadarajan moves from an editorial-page writer to an assistant managing editor at the Wall Street Journal, only the third time in 50 years someone has jumped that divide. [NYO]
• Bellevue Hospital starts its own imprint; wannabe Ken Keseys hope for literary success. [NYT]