September 14th, 2009
12:06 AM ET

Backstage at MTV VMA's: Taylor Swift fan club

Yeah, Kanye's unsettling display is all the talk of artists coming backstage. If the red carpet was all about the coming Michael Jackson tributes, then the show was about Taylor Swift and Kanye.

Taylor Swift

Green Day frontman, Billie Joe Armstrong, told a few reporters backstage, "She's young, she'll get over it. But, he needs to get over it." Armstrong's bandmate,  Tre' Cool added, "He needs to apologize, definitely. That's about as low as you go."

All American Rejects' Tyson Ritter came backstage with a drink in his hand to say Swift should let it roll off. When someone asked if Swift cried over the episode, Ritter answered, "Oh, God, I hope not. She's got like ten million records. She should just stand on her fat wallet and pile of money and cry on top of that."

Then, shortly after the sweet moment of the night– when Beyonce came on stage to accept her Video of the Year trophy and invited Swift on stage– Taylor Swift came backstage to pose for still photographers and answer a few questions from dotcom and print reporters.

This was bigger hub-bub back here than the Madonna appearance. Cameras flashing, tape recorders in her face, the "Best Female Video" winner proved nothing but a picture of grace. We asked her to describe what occured from her perspective. Swift said,  “ Well, I was excited to be on stage because I just won the award. And then I was excicted that Kanye West was onstage. Then, I wasn’t excited anymore”. She noted that she’s been getting tons of text messages of support and so many other artists have been supportive here at the show.  As for Beyonce's on-stage invitation,  “I couldn’t love Beyonce more”, she added.

Asked if she was a fan of Kanye’s she answered, her voice quieting, “Yeah, he’s Kanye West”. As the media pushed and her publicist pulled her away. “I don’t want to start anything I am just having a great night”. See all the winning videos on

What do you think? Do you think this VMA episode is going to hurt Kanye's career?

September 13th, 2009
10:22 PM ET

Backstage at the MTV VMA's: Can you hear me now?

Okay, it's been said on this blog before, but sometimes, the WORST place to cover an award show is from the backstage. If you're trying to actually HEAR the show and get a sense of what is going on big picture.  This room is LOUD, yes LOUD. So, in the middle of what looked like SOMETHING Britney Spears did, they turned down the show feed audio back here so that the still photogs could get good shots of Miranda Cosgrove. Cosgrove, and Kristin Cavallari,  by the way, are the only stars who've  been back here since the big opener, Madonna.

Kayne West

Kanye West takes a drink out of a bottle while standing with Amber Rose in the audience at the VMAs.

What I also missed is the actual audio of Kanye coming on stage in the middle of Taylor Swift's performance. I can tell you that Kanye walked the red carpet and walked past all the media with a big bottle of booze in his hand and waved it to all the media. He didn't speak. All the media just thought he had made peace with the VMA's after vowing never to come to the show again.

If you saw the Britney thing - give me your thoughts. It LOOKED cute? And this is, afterall, pretty much the show that has defined Britney Spears' career - the highs, the lows, the comebacks all played out here. What do you think about Kanye's little stunt? Kristin Cavallari - who just came from presenting with Nelly Furtado - just told the press she thought the whole thing was disrespectful? Is there anything too disrespectful EVEN at the VMA's?

September 13th, 2009
10:02 PM ET

Backstage at MTV VMA's: Madonna in the house

So, as I was saying... In all of the talk of what to expect at the VMA's this year: The Michael Jackson Tribute, the trailer for "This is It"; no one mentioned Madonna. How did that fly under the radar?


She just came through what is being called the "Backstage Blogger/Stills Room". It's a room with a bunch of journalists  and computers and about– I'm guesing here - 200 stills photographers. For the first time, MTV has decided not to let video cameras backstage to backstage interviews. So no one is really TALKING backstage. The idea is: the person comes off stage and poses on a platform for stills photographers while bloggers write about, I guess,  how they look. They aren't taking questions here.

As for Madonna, she was mobbed by bored press waiting for some activity backstage here. SO I could see her, but not hear. Madonna DID seem to answer someone's question. Madonna was so soft spoken and its so loud back here, no one heard her answer. Not even the journalist who asked it. She asked if anyone else heard the answer.

September 13th, 2009
09:33 PM ET

Backstage at the VMAs

Just found a spot in the "Blogger Room". Everyone looking for food and their spots. Missed most of the opening tribute, but a publicist just came by and said Madonna on her way.

Didn't see her on red carpet. Who knew she was here?

September 11th, 2009
08:02 PM ET

Larry Gelbart's thank you note

Larry Gelbart died this morning. If you don't know, he's the creator of  the TV show, M*A*S*H, most famously. But, there is so much more I want you to know about Larry. The man was a TV legend. Ask other TV legends. Ask anyone who writes comedy for a living. Not hyperbole. He was. And I will get no argument on that. Here's a quick summary of his credits: (I've bolded some personal favorites):

Better Late (play, 2008) And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself (2003) Bedazzled (2000)  C-Scam (2000) Weapons of Mass Distraction (1997)  Barbarians at the Gate (1993) Mastergate (1992) Blame It on Rio (1984) M*A*S*H” (1972-1983) Friends and Enemies (1983) Say No More (1983) Strange Bedfellows (1983) Run for the Money (1982) The Interview (1976) Tootsie (1982) Neighbors (1981)Rough Cut (1980)   United States  (1980) Movie Movie (1978) Oh, God! (1977) Three’s Company  (1976) Unaired Pilot #1 (1976) If I Love You, Am I Trapped Forever? (1974) The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine  (1971) Eddie (1971)   Comedy Playhouse” (1971) Ruba al prossimo tuo (1969)  Cintura di castità, La (1968) Not with My Wife, You Don’t! (1966) A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966) The Wrong Box (1966)  The Danny Kaye Show” (1963)  The Thrill of It All (1963) Judy and Her Guests, Phil Silvers and Robert Goulet The Notorious Landlady (1962) Hooray for Love (1960) The Best of Anything (1960)  Startime” (1959) The Wonderful World of Entertainment (1959) The Art Carney Show (1959)  The Dinah Shore Chevy Show  (1958)  Caesar’s Hour (1954-1957) Your Show of Shows  (1950-1954)  Four Star Revue  (1952) The Red Buttons Show (1952)

Most notable career note for me: He was among the fabled writing staff for Sid Caesar's shows– a group which also included Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Woody Allen, to name a few. He made TV comedy as we now know it.

Old soul me, started on a yackety yack about how they just don't make them like that anymore, and 'boy those were the days' of TV. (Honestly, even TVLand has gotten too 'new sitcom' for my liking. I miss the black-and-white TVLand. But that's a whole 'nother blog but at least you get a better sense of my cultural tastes)

This post is devoted to making sure you know that I believe what we see today on TV is there because Larry Gelbart was there first. When those Americans that had televisions in the 50's watched TV, "Your Show of Shows" was among the few things actually on. It's what we as a culture thought was funny and what happened on the show was next-day neighborhood and water cooler talk, when water coolers had those little conical paper cups.  If you've never watched them, find the old "Your Show of Shows". I defy you  to not think it's still LOL funny.

Perhaps, you're a fan of the old "Dick Van Dyke" show, the 'classic' 60's comedy where Carl Reiner, loosely based the storyline on his life as a writer for "Ceasar's Hour". That was the first TV program to base its characters in the workplace. All  shows before then really focused on 'situations' for characters at home. Point here is the writers' room on Caesar's shows was one place that basically launched most of what we currently find funny or entertaining. One show laid the groundwork for the next, and for the next and so on.

It's this little historical lesson that leads to my personal admiration for Gelbart in particular. He TAUGHT me that history in the nicest of ways.

It was 1999. CNN was preparing its big "Turn of the Millenium" coverage. I was the given the project to create a mini-documentary, "TV of the 20th Century". Larry Gelbart would be the ideal interviewee, I thought, as he could speak of TV from its beginnings through the 70's and how M*A*S*H changed the landscape. I called his agent, who connected me with Larry directly, because, the agent said,  "Larry wants to know what exactly this project is, before he agrees to an interview". After we spoke for nearly an hour, in a pre-interview, I felt like I had struck historical story-teller gold. Imagine a funny great uncle. Now make that uncle a guy Bob Hope once offered Sid Caesar, "I'll give you two oil wells for one Gelbart". The funniest of the funny cracked up in his presence. We did the interview at his home in Beverly Hills, where he welcomed the crew and the field producer with open arms. The field producer came back and said, he was one of her most memorable interviews. All I could say is "I KNOOOOOW, Right? What a nice, nice man". He provided so much information perspective and context to my piece and the research for it, that he became what I call the 'thread' of the story.

Cut to, days after the piece airs. I receive a personal hand-written note on his stationery, telling me how proud he was to be part of the piece and that it was well done. He said I could include him in anything I wanted to do anytime. "Thank you for letting me participate", it said. The man who basically CREATED television writing, in my eyes, had taken the moment to tell a young CNN producer that she had done a nice job.

That note stayed on my wall until we moved into fancy offices uptown. It's currently stored away at home. When we got word today he died, and we were trying to confirm, I got a sinking feeling in my gut. I knew I had his home number in my old rolodex. Like, yeah, the spinny old ones. I pulled it out and told my colleagues I could probably call the house, but I don't want to.  I decided I could, because if I spoke with his wife Pat, perhaps I could tell her how his influence and kindness really defined my career. He was the interviewee from whom I learned SO much and realized what I could do with the information creatively.  It was a career-affirming interview. Pat actually said, "How nice of you to call. Thank you". Really she said that. Here I was calling from the media to confirm her husband's passing and she says, "Thank You". In so many ways, Larry Gelbart was someone I revere. His historical significance has been written. His (and his wife's) particular kindness is what I just want others to know. His humor only surpassed by his kindness.

Were you a fan of Gelbart's writing? Let's hear what you know about tv history and Gelbart's role in it.

August 13th, 2009
11:17 AM ET

Omarosa gets religion

Omarosa Manigault Stallworth, of “The Apprentice” and “The Celebrity Apprentice” fame has, well, found a new calling.  A publicist for the reality show villain confirms for us that she plans to enter United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio for training to become a minister. Uh-huh, yep. I'm serious.

A spokesperson for the seminary tells CNN Entertainment/Showbiz Tonight the following in a statement:

“She has been accepted. We have offered her a scholarship through our Baptist House of Studies and will be releasing a statement soon detailing her new challenge here at United Seminary as she begins her residency. United Seminary is one of the 13 United Methodist Seminaries in the United States and has a long and celebrated history with the African American Church and social justice advocacy.”

She starts classes on Monday, studying for a Doctorate of Ministry. “I feel like God is calling me. He’s been calling me for two years and I can’t ignore it,” Omarosa told Sister to Sister Magazine.

Does it make me evil and cynical to say, I'm not so convinced her motives are all that holy? I mean, the girl still has a publicist. What do you think? Do you think it's really a change of life? If she does eventually become a minister, would her words of moral and religious guidance carry any weight?

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