The News Corp. Chairman and CEO today Tweeted a defense of the New York Post’s controversial Thursday front-pager blasting two innocent men as “Bag Men” sought by the FBI: @rupertmurdoch: “All NYPost pics were those distributed by FBI. And instantly withdrawn when FBI changed directions.” CNN’s Jeff Zucker similarly praised his network’s coverage despite its glaring errors covering the Boston bombers. But Washington was watching. In his Friday address President Obama tsk-tsked unnamed media outlets for risking public safety with bad reporting. “In this age of instant reporting and tweets and blogs, there’s a temptation to latch on to any bit of information, sometimes to jump to conclusions. But when a tragedy like this happens, with public safety at risk and the stakes so high, it’s important that we do this right”.
Certainly Roger Ebert will be remembered for many things. Winning an unprecedented Pulitzer Prize in 1975 for film criticism is just one of them. For me, though, beyond that distinction Roger was far more unique in the pantheon of the truly great critics of our time, and all time. Along with Gene Siskel he figured out a way to take film criticism to the masses in a way it never really had been, at least on a national basis. With their patented ’2 Thumbs Up’ and ’2 Thumbs Down’ reviews on their pioneering PBS and later syndicated weekly TV show, this pair not only brought the job of a film critic into the national consciousness, they also made it fun. And accessible. The ‘thumbs’ signature was really the forerunner of a site like Rotten Tomatoes, an instantly recognizable label that moviegoers could use like a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval when it appeared in an ad as it did hundreds of times.
Related: Reactions To Roger Ebert’s Death
Unlike so many critics today Roger Ebert loved movies, even when he hated them, an attribute so many of today’s self-absorbed so-called critics greatly lack. In fact one of my favorite personal Ebert memories happened at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival at a mid-day screening of Vincent Gallo’s unwatchable The Brown Bunny. Not only did he call it then the worst movie in the festival’s history, he added, “I have not seen every film in the history of the festival, yet I feel my judgement will stand”. At one excruciating point in the film he even started singing “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” out loud, eliciting laughter from what was left of the audience at that point. I wondered at the time “now who has the chutzpah to do that?” only to find it was Roger.
Greeting the Kennedy Center honorees tonight at a pre-ceremony reception at the White House, President Obama entered the East Room to cheers and applause, and said “Welcome to the White House on a night when I am nowhere close to being the main attraction.” The honorees are surviving members of Led Zeppelin John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant; ballerina Natalia Makarova, Dave Letterman, Dustin Hoffman and Buddy Guy. Obama praised the Kennedy Center trustees and recognized President Kennedy’s daughter Caroline who was seated next to First Lady Michelle Obama in the audience. CBS will broadcast a two-hour special covering the Kennedy Center Honors on December 26th. Here is an edited and condensed version of Obama’s remarks tonight from the pool report:
“None of this would be possible without the co-chair of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities,” the President said, singling out “George Stevens and his son Michael who have produced the Kennedy Center Honors for 35 years now.”
“Tonight, we continue a tradition here at the White House by honoring some extraordinary people who have no business being on the same stage together. We’ve got Buddy Guy sitting next to Dustin Hoffman. We’ve got Dave Letterman alongside one of the greatest ballerinas of all time. I don’t think Dave dances. All three living members of Led Zeppelin in one place — so this is a remarkable evening.”
“Tonight’s honorees didn’t just take up their crafts to make a living. They did it because they couldn’t imagine living any other way. That passion took each of them from humble beginnings to the pinnacle of their profession. Tonight, in the People’s House, we have a chance to say thank you.”
Donald Trump explains to David Letterman his $5 million charitable challenge for President Obama to release his college records and his passport application:
And after the jump, watch Stephen Colbert’s report on Trump’s “October surprise” offer, with Colbert’s $1 million counter-offer to Trump. Plus a clip of Barbara Walters on The View, telling her friend Trump “You’re making a fool of yourself.”
Here’s an image from Twitter of President Obama’s tweeted response to Clint Eastwood’s speech at the Republican National Convention. During his speech Eastwood carried on a mock dialogue with an empty chair that represented the Democratic incumbent.
President Obama today announced the appointment of NBCUniversal’s International Television Production EVP Deborah A. Oppenheimer as a member to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. She created and produced the critically-acclaimed documentary, Into The Arms Of Strangers: Stories Of The Kindertransport which she won an Academy Award in 2000.
Harvey Weinstein, TV producer Steve Levitan, ICM’s Chris Silbermann, UTA’s Rob Prinz, manager-producer Jason Weinberg and talent managers Eric Ortner, Greg Mertz, Bruce Flohr, Michael Green, Steve Moir and Bill Silva were among Hollywood figures invited to meet with President Obama on Tuesday before he left for San Francisco. These …
UPDATE, 2:15 PM: NBC has posted clips from President Obama’s morning taping at The Tonight Show With Jay Leno that will air tonight. He weighs in on Gaddafi, Iraq and, with a nice shout-out to a certain …
Hank Williams Jr apologized on his website today for using an odd President Obama/Adolf Hitler analogy. Williams’ comments on the Fox News Channel show Fox & Friends yesterday got him in hot water, and ESPN yanked his theme song from Monday Night Football over the controversy. Williams wrote the …
EXCLUSIVE: Walden Media has acquired film rights to Flat Stanley, the series of children’s books created in 1964 by Jeff Brown about the adventures of a two-dimensional person stuck in a 3D world. The plan is to shoot the film live action, using visual effects to turn the lead character into a one-dimensional hero (why do I feel like I’ve given Deadline commenters a wealth of ammunition to discuss the current state of 3D and certain leading actors with those last two sentences?)
The protagonist is Stanley Lambchop, who, after being given a bulletin board by his father to put above his bed, is flattened by it in the night. He’s OK despite his appearance and can slip under doors and entertain his brother by posing as a kite. He even solves an art heist by posing as a wall painting. The series has sold millions of copies around the world. The film will be produced by John Carls and his Wild Things Productions banner. Carls’ credits include Where The Wild Things Are as well as Rango. Walden Media CEO Michael Bostick and senior veep Evan Turner set up the project and are meeting with filmmakers for the adaptation.
UPDATE: Politicians over here are saying that it is not enough for CNN chat show Piers Morgan to issue communiqués from America saying that he knows nothing about phone-hacking. Morgan has denied he knows anything about Heather Mills, Paul McCartney’s ex-wife, having her phone hacked – although in 2006 he admitted to once listening to one of her mobile phone messages. Therese Coffey, a Conservative MP who sits on a UK Parliament committee investigating phone-hacking, told the BBC that Morgan must help police with their inquiries. Harriet Harman, deputy leader of the opposition Labour Party, also weighed in, saying Morgan has questions to answer. “It’s not good enough for him to say, or somebody to say on his behalf, I always comply with the law,” Harman told Sky News. Of course, there’s an element of people rubbing their hands here. A lot of politicians who have scores to settle with the CNN chat-show host would like to see him take a fall; and Morgan’s bosses in Atlanta will doubtless be taking a dim view of this unwelcome publicity. But the political committee that recently grilled Rupert Murdoch tells me it won’t be calling for Morgan to give evidence. Morgan himself was unavailable for comment.
PREVIOUS: The burgeoning News Corp phone-hacking scandal continues to make waves for Rupert Murdoch in the UK, and increasingly they’re crossing the Atlantic. Today, CNN anchor Piers Morgan’s efforts to battle allegations that he was involved in phone hacking while editing News Corp.’s UK tabloids News of the World and the Daily Mirror suffered a setback. Paul McCartney’s ex-wife, Heather Mills, leveled her own accusation against Morgan in an interview with BBC Newsnight. Mills claims that a journalist with the Mirror Group, which owns the Daily Mirror, admitted to her that he hacked into her voicemail in 2001 and listened to a message McCartney left her after she’d left for India in the wake of a fight. The BBC notes that while the journalist in question wasn’t Morgan, the CNN anchor did tell the Daily Mail in 2006 that he had listened to a “heartbreaking” message McCartney left Mills while she was in India following a “tiff.” While not accusing Morgan of engaging in phone hacking himself, Mills points a finger at the former Daily Mirror editor. “There was absolutely no honest way that Piers Morgan could have obtained that tape that he has so proudly bragged about unless they had gone into my voice messages,” she said. Morgan, who also serves as a judge on NBC’s reality competition show America’s Got Talent, denied the allegations in a statement.
The Secret Service and Fox News are investigating a series of attacks early Monday on one of the news network’s Twitter feeds, FoxNewspolitics, in which hackers erroneously said that President Obama had been assassinated in Iowa. The six messages were taken down several hours — around noon today — after they were posted. Fox News Digital General Manager Jeff Misenti says the company has asked Twitter to conduct a “detailed investigation” into the incident and to come up with ”measures to prevent future unauthorized access into FoxNews.com accounts.” A student newspaper at the State University of New York at Stony Brook said that an anti-corporate group called The Script Kiddies claimed responsibility and may hit Fox News again. Here’s Fox News’ statement about the attacks: