October 26th, 2009
03:54 PM ET

Ricky Gervais: the new Golden boy?

Not since 1995 has the Golden Globe Awards had a host. That's about to change. The producers have tapped Ricky Gervais for the 67th annual awards show, to be broadcast on NBC January 17th, 2010. The Golden Globe- and Emmy-winning actor/comedian may be best known for his work in the BBC's "The Office." In addition to executive producing the American version of the hit British show, Gervais recently co-wrote, co-directed, and starred in the film "The Invention of Lying" with Jennifer Garner.

His brand of humor may be just what the ailing telecast needs.

NBC's Executive Vice President of Alternative Programming thinks "Ricky is certainly one of the funniest people on the planet and has provided some of the most hilarious and memorable awards show moments in recent memory." You may recall Gervais' Golden Globe acceptance speech that began with, "I'm from a little place called England - we used to run the world before you."

Gervais says he feels like hosting the Globes will offer him "an environment where I feel I can get free reign [sic] as a host."

We can't wait to see what that "free reign" looks like. What about you? Are you more likely to watch?

October 22nd, 2009
02:22 PM ET

National Organization for Women vs. David Letterman

When something like the David Letterman story breaks, one of the interesting "meta" aspects is the range of tones people take as they react.  In revealing his affairs and the subsequent alleged extortion attempt, Letterman was typically wry and humorous, while TV talking heads, Letterman's supporters, and his opponents have ranged from sober (discussing sexual harassment in the workplace) to somewhat hysterical (Dave should be thrown off TV, castrated, etc.).

Now we have a look at an exchange that eschews the sex jokes in favor of more serious issues: a letter from Terry O'Neill, President of the National Organization for Women, to Rob Burnett, Letterman's longtime executive producer and President/CEO of his production company, Worldwide Pants, Inc. - as well as Burnett's reply to O'Neill.  First, O'Neill's letter, which also went to CBS President/CEO Les Mooves:

As President of the National Organization for Women, I am requesting a meeting with you to discuss respect for women in the workplace and your company's obligation to strive for gender parity in decision-making at all levels within your organization.

In 2009, workplaces remain plagued by men in power sexualizing women.  The behavior that David Letterman appears to have admitted publicly - engaging in a number of sexual relationships with subordinate staffers - sends a harmful message not only to his own employees but also to his millions of viewers, many of whom have seen similar antics first-hand in their own work lives.  When a powerful boss like Mr. Letterman has sex with his subordinates it infects the work culture with uncertainty, gossip, and in some cases, hostility.  The resulting toxic environment is unfair to everyone.  All employees, women and men alike, want and deserve to be judged by their skills, qualifications and professional performance alone.

Your company can act responsibly, as corporate employeers and as a force in the media and culture, to create an environment where women and men are equally respected.  But a real commitment to equality must start at the top.  I urge you to look at your boards and other decision-making structures, at every level of your organizations.  About 50% of the people with real power and authority should be women, and a high proportion should be people of color.  I am eager to discuss with you how you might make your corporate cultures more inclusive and less abusive, and respectfully request a meeting at your earliest convenience.

I appreciate your attention to this matter and look forward to hearing from you soon.

Six days later, Burnett replied:

Thank you for your letter.

Since we started as a company in 1993, we have taken very seriously the issues you raise regarding respect for women in the workplace.  And, as an employee of David Letterman's since 1985, I have personally found the work environment on his shows to be fair, professional and entirely merit-based at all times.

For the past nine years, at the highest level of the Late Show leadership, three of our four executive producers have been women, all of whom have worked for Dave for more than 25 years (in August we promoted a man to become our fifth executive producer).  In addition, the heads of both our talent and production departments are women.  Among Late Show staff, 58% are women, and all the major divisions on the show except one are led by women supervisors, all of whom have been with the company since its inception.

I would also point out that the admissions you cite that Dave made publicly did not stem from a complaint from anyone on our staff, but rather from an alleged attempt to commit a crime, extortion, against Dave, who decided to take the matter to law enforcement.  Since that time, our human resources department has consulted every member of the Late Show staff, and not a single complaint has been raised or filed.  Moreover, over the 29 years David Letterman has been broadcasting, there has never been a sexual harassment claim made against him.

I hope this information demonstrating our record of gender equity and sensitivity is responsive to the concerns you raised in your letter.  Thank you again for writing.

Wow.  We found both letters to be impressive - what do you think?

October 22nd, 2009
10:49 AM ET

Paul Shaffer on Kim Kardashian's ... assets

David Letterman's musical director, Paul Shaffer, hit Los Angeles Wednesday night as part of a tour to promote his new biography with the lengthy title "We'll Be Here For the Rest of Our Lives: A Swingin' Showbiz Saga." He co-wrote the book with David Ritz. It details his days on Broadway, his "Saturday Night Live" stint and his 27 years working with Letterman.

It's tough to be out promoting your book when your boss is embroiled in a sex scandal. Inevitably there will be questions regarding  the brouhaha, questions that go unanswered. Shaffer did say "I'm not allowed to even talk about that situation. It's like an ongoing legal proceeding and as such, you can't comment on it."

After 27 years on Letterman, you may think Shaffer has seen it all. Is there anybody he hasn't worked with throughout the years? Is there someone with whom he'd really like to collaborate? Yes, actually, and it may surprise you:

"I heard Kim Kardashian has a record deal. Can you get me a meeting with her agent? I would like to bring her in the studio and lay down some happening tracks and put my coffee right on the top of her a** and just leave it there."

Really, Paul?


Editor's Note: Several commenters believe this quote was lifted from Adam Carolla's podcast. It came from an interview Paul conducted with CNN producer Anita Bennett.

October 21st, 2009
11:29 AM ET

Carrie Prejean's breasts: tit for tat?

I read with interest the latest salvo in the Carrie Prejean-Miss California USA tussle. The pageant officials are asking the ousted Prejean to pay back the $5200 they ostensibly "loaned" her to have her breasts augmented. Their demand for repayment followed Prejean's lawsuit claiming pageant officials violated her privacy when they told reporters her breasts were fake.  Call it tit for tat.

If you pay any sort of attention to pageants, and I admit I don't, the before and after pictures of Prejean are markedly different. Let's just say her cups now runneth over. Did pageant officials invade her privacy or did they state the obvious? That's for a court to decide.

The court will also decide whether the 22-year-old Prejean will have to reimburse the pageant. The two sides don't agree on much at all these days, but according to court filings, the one thing both sides did see eye to eye on was the need for Prejean to "grow a pair" in order to be more competitive in the Miss USA pageant. Prejean was the first runner-up; you make the call.

What do you think? Should Prejean give back the money... or the merchandise?

October 20th, 2009
02:23 PM ET

Sarah Palin takes on Oprah

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is sitting down with Oprah Winfrey.  According to Harpo Productions, the two women have never crossed paths before, and this will be the first time they meet.  The interview is set to air Monday, November 16th - one day before Palin's new book,  "Going Rogue: An American Life," goes on sale. 

Palin, Sen. John McCain's running mate in the 2008 presidential election, was a polarizing figure who was both applauded and mocked for her folksy style. Following her unsuccessful bid for VP, Palin stepped down from her post as governor of Alaska, which garnered her some criticism.

 Is "Going Rogue: An American Life" on your reading list? Will you watch Oprah November 16th?

October 7th, 2009
09:13 PM ET

A Beastie and a Dalai Lama

Beastie Boy Adam "MCA" Yauch, who recently had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in his left salivary gland just got back from a trip to  Dharamsala, India.  He shared some of his experiences in a letter to fans.

Here's an excerpt:

hey all,
so i just got back from dharamsala, india. went over there to see some tibetan doctors, but as it worked out, the Dalai Lama was giving a 3 day teaching, so i was able to attend that as well.
i'm feeling healthy, strong and hopeful that i've beaten this thing, but of course time will tell.  i'm taking tibetan medicine and at the recommendation of the tibetan doctors i've been eating a vegan/organic diet, which surprisingly enough was harder to do in india than it is now that i'm back home. here i can just shop for the right food and cook... a lot easier than depending on restaurants.
when i was in india i visited an ani gompa (a nunnery) called jamyang choling. they did a puja (religious ceremony) for me to help me get well. one nun said to me "we do prayers and then you are better." so i've got that going for me, which is nice.

What's nice is that Yauch's cancer was located early, was localized and according to doctors will not affect his vocal chords.  It sounds like he's pursuing an East meets West course of treatment.

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