Super Bowl XLVIII: total bust as a game, middling year for ads – though outrage was tearing up Twitter by the time the game sputtered to a close over a Coke commercial in which “America the Beautiful” was …
UPDATE, 6:41 AM: MSNBC began probation today. MSNBC was put there by the RNC, after network chief Phil Griffin apologized to RNC chief Reince Priebus before Priebus could appear on FNC‘s Hannity to talk about the boycott of MSNBC he’d organized in the wake of the net’s Cheerios ad tweet. Yesterday afternoon, Priebus announced that until he got a personal and public apology from Griffin himself for the tweet on the net’s official web site, suggesting “rightwing”-ers might not like Cheerios’ new Super Bowl ad featuring a multi-racial family, RNC staffers were banned from contact with MSNBC. Priebus said he’d asked all members of the GOP to do same. On the strength of that, Hannity booked Priebus for his show. But Griffin apologized quickly, which left Priebus to tell Hannity he’d put MSNBC on probation: “Now we have to stay on top of it. So you know what? It’s sort of like being on probation I guess. But the fact of the matter is, we’re here, we’re watching them,” Priebus said. He warned that if he sees any more rannygazoo coming from the general direction of MSNBC, “I’ll do it again. I promise you that.”
PREVIOUS, 1:19 PM Thursday: MSNBC says it has let go the employee who tweeted that “maybe the rightwing will hate” Cheerios’ new Super Bowl ad featuring a multiracial family, and that MSNBC president Phil Griffin has personally apologized to Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus for the tweet. Meanwhile, Fox News reported Priebus will give his first Cheerios Tweet-gate interview to Hannity at 10PM/ET. ”The tweet last night was outrageous and unacceptable,” Griffin said in a statement today. “We immediately acknowledged that it was offensive and wrong, apologized, and deleted it. We have dismissed the person responsible for the tweet. I personally apologize to Mr. Priebus and to everyone offended. At MSNBC we believe in passionate, strong debate about the issues and we invite voices from all sides to participate. That will never change. ”
PREVIOUS, 10:45 AM: RNC chairman Reince Priebus says MSNBC’s apology for its tweet about a Cheerios commercial does not go far enough, and is organizing a GOP boycott of the cable news network. MSNBC has deleted the tweet, called it “offensive,” said it “deeply regrets” the tweet. The network apologized and said it “does not reflect the position of MSNBC.” The tweet was about a Cheerios ad running in Sunday’s Super Bowl, featuring the same interracial family used in an earlier Cheerios ad that generated such hateful comments on YouTube that the video’s comments section was shut down. “Maybe the rightwing will hate it, but everyone else will go awww: the adorable new #Cheerios ad w/ biracial family,” MSNBC tweeted, while also directing readers to its report on the ad with video of the ad.
Not enough, says Priebus, who’s trying to orchestrate a GOP-wide boycott of the network until MSNBC president Phil Griffin himself “personally and publicly” apologizes for “this behavior,” telling Griffin in a letter that also made its way to the media that “such petty and demeaning attacks have become a pattern at your network” and jumping to a discussion of how “many of your hosts have personally denigrated and demeaned Americans – especially conservative and Republican Americans – without even attempting to further meaningful political dialogue.” Technically, some of those people are now “former hosts.”
Alec Baldwin’s MSNBC talker Up Late With Alec Baldwin -- aka Republican National Committee’s Talking Point No. 2 in its State of Upset Address about NBC’s now-defunct plans to air a miniseries about presumed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton — premieres October 11. Let the promos begin:
2ND UPDATE 6:30 PM: The Republican National Committee is taking credit for NBC and CNN deep-sixing what the group calls “their Hillary Clinton infomercials”. In August, the RNC threatened to block both networks from the 2016 presidential debates if they were forward with their Clinton programs. Here RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski’s statement on their cancellation: “This was only the first step in the Republican Party taking control of our debate process. The purpose of our party’s debates is to better inform our grassroots and those participating in Republican primaries and caucuses. Now that CNN and NBC have canceled their Hillary Clinton infomercials, we will work on developing a new debate model that will address the timing, frequency, moderators and venues that will come in the next few months. Any media organization looking to be part of the debate process will have to comply with the new system.”
UPDATED, 3:18 PM: Having lost its production partner on its Hillary Clinton miniseries back in August, and with all the brouhaha that had erupted over its Clinton mini (and CNN’s documentary), NBC planned to announce that its biopic was a goner sometime down the road, a source tells us. But when CNN this morning announced the demise of its Clinton documentary, NBC pounced on the opportunity to slip its news into the CNN story, rather than have reporters pound away with will-NBC-or-won’t-NBC sidebars and second-day stories. This is known as taking out all the dirty laundry in one afternoon — public relations 101.
Now CNN has bailed on its plans for a Hillary Clinton documentary, but insisted the director made the call. The news comes just weeks after NBC issued a statement saying its Hillary Clinton miniseries — which was the biggest bit of news at its TCA Summer TV Press Tour appearance — was after all only a project in development and might never see the light of day (translation: don’t hold your breath). CNN let it be known this morning its CNN Films division had informed the mothership it would not move ahead on its Clinton docu – because the director had bowed out. “Charles Ferguson has informed us that he is not moving forward with his documentary about Hillary Clinton … [W]e won’t seek other partners and are not proceeding with the film,” CNN Worldwide told Politico. Message of the message: CNN did not decide to cancel the docu — it was the director’s decision.
In one of those incredible coincidences that makes this industry so interesting, Ferguson this very morning wrote a blog post published on Huffington Post, in which he complained pressure from Clinton’s camp and the Republican National Committee led many of his prospective interviewees to give him a “no dice” response to appearing in the docu. He expresses surprise to discover “that nobody, and I mean nobody, was interested in helping me make this film. Not Democrats, not Republicans — and certainly nobody who works with the Clintons, wants access to the Clintons, or dreams of a position in a Hillary Clinton administration. Not even journalists who want access, which can easily be taken away. I even sensed potential difficulty in licensing archival footage from CBN (Pat Robertson) and from Fox. After approaching well over a hundred people, only two persons who had ever dealt with Mrs. Clinton would agree to an on-camera interview, and I suspected that even they would back out.”
UPDATE, 1:30 PM: “Any concerns the Clinton team had are all gone. This puts the ‘P’ in puff piece,” a Republican National Committee rep said this afternoon, in response to our report about the announcement by CNN Films that it had hired senior director Courtney Sexton, who previously oversaw Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and the bio-docu Jimmy Carter Man From Plains among many other projects. “What’s next: Michael Moore directing?” added Sean Spicer, the RNC’s communications director, in an email to Politico about Deadline’s coverage of the hire.
PREVIOUS: CNN Films, the division of CNN Worldwide responsible for commissioning the documentary about Hillary Clinton that’s got the RNC’s knickers in a knot, today announced it is welcoming Courtney Sexton to its Los Angeles team as senior director. The Republican National Committee may latch on to this news — in much the same way it did reports MSNBC was giving Alec Baldwin a program — because Sexton has spent the last eight years working with Participant Media where, CNN noted, she managed from development to release such documentary films as An Inconvenient Truth. That’s the Oscar-winning docu about former Veep Al Gore’s global warming campaign. Other titles Sexton shepherded include Jimmy Carter Man From Plains, among many titles. Prior to joining Participant, Sexton worked for two years with filmmaker Davis Guggenheim — An Inconvenient Truth’s director — on the HBO series Deadwood, among other projects.
NBC White House correspondent Chuck Todd — the guy who complained NBC News would only “own the negative” aspects of NBC Entertainment’s planned Hillary Clinton miniseries, seemed in a much better mood this morning, after NBC Entertainment said late Friday the mini might never be programmed. …
NBC began to circle the wagons on its Hillary Clinton miniseries this afternoon, hours after the Republican National Committee blocked the network from GOP primary debates, calling the miniseries a Clinton promo. “The Hillary Clinton movie has not been ordered to production, only a script is being written at this time,” NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt said this afternoon in a statement. “It is ‘in development’, the first stage of any television series or movie, many of which never go to production. Speculation, demands, and declarations pertaining to something that isn’t created or produced yet seem premature,” he added. The statement was issued not long after word got out that Fox TV Studio, which had been in early stages of talks to produce the miniseries, would not move ahead with the project about the former First Lady and Secretary of State.
NBC’s took on this headache when Greenblatt made the Clinton miniseries one of his big announcements at his Summer TCA Press Tour appearance on July 27. Network execs like to come to Press Tour with these kinds of bright shiny lights, to distract the press so they don’t ask too many uncomfortable questions about ratings and some of their new series pickups, etc. Greenblatt announced that the network was preparing the four-hour miniseries as part of an ambitious slate of longform projects with which he hopes to make noise and boost ratings. “We need to be in the event business,” Greenblatt said back then.