SUN TV Interview Isn’t Worth Complaining About

Well, I finally broke down and decided to watch what has become a somewhat legendary interview conducted by Krista Erickson, of Sun TV. Hope Krista doesn’t mind me using the term “conducted,” considering her well-worn animus towards highbrow art. Hope broadcasters don’t mind me using the word “interview,” which this, at times, was clearly not. An interview, to me, is an exchange of views. Often during this back-and-forth, Erickson chose not to listen to too much of an answer from interpretive dancer Margie Gillis.

The premise, basically, was a discussion of federal arts funding. If you’ve not seen the interview, you can here.

Okay, maybe it was the build up. Maybe anything that is pumped and pumped and pumped is doomed to be a big letdown. Or maybe I just have a different view of what a train wreck of an interview is. But, after seeing the video I was left with one, overwhelming thought: Why is everybody so agitated by this interview? More than 4,300 people have taken the time to lodge a formal complaint about this bit of TV treasure to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council. Apparently, they usually get a total of about 2,000 a year.

[box size=”large” border=”full”]Remember when being “as mad as hell” was artful?[/box]

Why are you complaining about this, I thought as I watched the show unfold. I’ve seen and heard worse. Way worse than this.  Was it because Erickson was rude? Obnoxious? Because you don’t agree with the tenor (sorry again, Krista, for using an artistic term) of her views? Fine, I’m with you on all counts. But the nature of her behaviour and that of the exchange fall far, far short of the threshold where I would actually be moved to lodge a formal complaint. For long periods of time, Erickson did a terrible job of interviewing. She wasn’t interested in anything but looking tough for her bosses and fans. That’s where the interview devolved into an embarrassing quagmire of over speak, with the two of them talking at the same time. But that wasn’t Gillis’ fault. It was Erickson’s. Gillis was just trying to answer a question or two when the host decided she didn’t want to hear an answer or two. That’s just bad interviewing. At one point, Erickson admonished her subject for trying to get a word in edgewise, saying the two of them talking at the same time was serving no one. I actually laughed out loud. Gillis reacted with a look reminiscent of Alice’s when she first set foot in Wonderland. The difference being that the characters in Wonderland are less cartoonish than the one Erickson was playing. In fairness, she did settle down in the second portion of the conversation, allowing Gillis plenty of room for free-range answering. There’s an actual question-answer rhythm at that point.

I had another laugh out loud moment during this interview. Erickson plays a clip of Gillis, from a documentary, where Gillis says:

We were, I thought, a compassionate society.I don’t think that way any more. No, we’re good at masking things, we’re good at not taking responsibility, now. That’s deeply sad to me.

Huh. Quite a statement. Quite a general, wide-ranging statement. I know I’d like to know what she means by that. Could she be more specific? Well, we didn’t get that. Instead, Erickson loaded her barrels with the kind of so-called “gotcha” journalism decried by the likes of Sarah Palin. Her reply:

Were we not compassionate in 2008 when we gave you fifty thousand dollars…a personal grant that you received, the Walter Carson prize…and were we not compassionate, let’s just say, in the fiscal year 2009, when taxpayers gave you and your foundation a grant for a hundred and five thousand dollars and, again, that only represents a small portion of the money that you have received from taxpayers over the course of your career…so, what is it about Canadians that they’re lacking compassion, exactly? One point two million dollars isn’t enough compassion for you?

That’s the point where I was glad I wasn’t taking a sip of coffee, or it may just have ended up on the screen. Just after that, I shook my head at the absurdity of the position that Gillis shouldn’t say Canadians aren’t compassionate when “more than 150 soldiers” have been killed in Afghanistan. Of course, that had, likely,  nothing to do with the topic at hand and, at best, served as a very clumsy non sequitur. Gillis’ remarks were worth exploring, with plenty of time to be sanctimonious, if warranted, after that exploration. Brings me to an all too familiar and unfortunate modus operandi in broadcasting today. A propensity for “tough, tell-it-like-it-is ” hosts and interviewers to tell a guest what they mean after an answer lacking in detail, instead of asking what they mean. That’s simply because they’ve decided on the narrative, beforehand, and will adhere to it no matter what. That’s fine and all. But it just feels like bad theatre when it happens.

Heated discussion is fair game, and Gillis had to know that she was placing her head in the lion’s jaws when she agreed to do the interview.  Yes, heated discussion is fair game, even essential, at times. It can help forward a larger conversation with naked, honest viewpoint. But the important thing to remember in that, is the conversation portion.

Shouting down your opponent, cutting them off or belittling their views can be important ingredients in passionate discussion. But, only if they come from a place of integrity and honest emotion. And only if they form just a part of the equation. When they take over, as Erickson let – no, decided – they would, the honest-to-God, heartfelt intersection of opposing viewpoints can and do become a tiresome, annoying, absurdly comical farce.

That’s a big problem in broadcasting, these days. Too many are too bent on antagonism, at all costs. That has made for a landscape littered with, if not dominated by a kind of phony tension and faux indignation. What used to be compelling because it was rare, is fast becoming annoying and roll-your-eyes dull, because it is more and more usual.

No, I don’t agree with the general thrust of Erickson’s belligerent interrogation. She had points to make and decided her blunt-force questions were more important than the answers they might incur, at times. I have a problem with that. Not because I disagree with her point of view. Because I’m so damn tired of the template.

Winners here? Erickson. Her bosses will love the publicity. Gillis. She came off as well-mannered and assured. Probably even won some sympathy for the arts community. The loser? Good broadcasting, plain and simple.

But, it doesn’t rise to a level where regulator participation is necessary. Not even close.

[box border=”full”] To read “Rookie MP Guidebook,” click here.[/box]

[box border=”full”]To read “The Mammoliti Gambit,” click here.[/box]

THE NUTSHELL: A Royal Rodeo, A Bruins’ Bender And Jack Layton Mellencamp

A weekly feature, with a collection of random thoughts on random things.

POP CULTURE

  • Marvel Comics decided to kill off Spiderman, in its “Ultimate” series comics. Not believable. I think the Broadway show “Turn Off The Dark” proved with great finality, that you can’t kill Spiderman. Seriously injure him, sure. But not kill.
  • A report surfaced claiming that Megan Fox was fired from “Transformers 3” because she compared  director Michael Bay to Adolf Hitler. If Bay were, in fact, like Hitler, it’d be great to see him work with Christian Bale. Fox was, apparently, fired by the producer of “Transformers 3, ” a guy named Stephen Spielberg. Complaining, in public, that your boss is like Hitler …well, her name is Megan Fox, not Megan Brainsurgeon.
  • Oh, look, coming into view, below and on the left, is the Boston Bruins’ bar bill from last Saturday night. I hear it’s quite something.
  • The dating website beautifulpeople.com claimed it was hacked, and that led to some 30 thousand er, undesirables, I guess, being allowed to post profiles on their exclusive site. Nobody panic, the glitch has been found and all the non-beauts have been kicked. So, the shallow end has been chlorinated. Crisis averted. My, that Bruins’ bar bill is long, isn’t it?
  • Some folks got together to paint a giant headshot of Roger Federer in a field. It illustrated him with a bit of a beard. Then they covered the bottom half of the face with foam. Then cut it with a lawnmower. It’s quite fascinating to see, really. Since it was done on grass, Roger comes out looking good. Had it been done on clay, the giant mural would’ve looked like Rafael Nadal kicking his butt. Seriously? That bar bill is STILL going?!
  • In the end, the NDP decided NOT to drop the word “socialist” or “socialism” from its constitution. Good. It’d be like John Mellencamp. Sure, he dropped the stage name, but, in the end, we all know he’s a Cougar. They also decided not to rule out a merger with the Liberals. Although, at this point, a merger between the NDP and Libs would be like a “merger” between Facebook and this blog. Wow. FINALLY, we get to the end of that bar bill. ONE Kami Kazi?! Really? And you call that a celebration? Who ordered the Amstel, for cryin’ out loud?

SPORTS

  • A thought or two on that big bar bill 6 of the Boston Bruins ran up last Saturday: There were 18 sugar-free Red Bulls on there. Red Bull has a sugar-free version?! What’s the point? I’d have thought that, if anything, Red Bull would have had a “sugar-enhanced” version. If you look closely, about 2/3 of the way down the tab, you’ll see that ONE bottle of champagne was “complimentary.” Nice to know that, if you spend 150 thousand dollars at a bar, they’ll comp you a bit of the bubbly. It was probably Baby Duck.
  • We are at the crossroads between sports, politics and pop culture. The Royal Visit is nearly upon us. There will be some protests, particularly in Quebec, when Kate and William make the rounds. There may also be demonstrations at the Calgary Stampede, where the Royals will participate in the event’s parade. I’m hoping the Stampede catches “Royal Fever” and introduces a corgi-roping competition. While we’re at it, replace the chuckwagon races with landau races and the rodeo clowns with court jesters. And, instead of bareback bronc busting, make it piggyback Royal Guard busting.

FINAL THOUGHT

Those amphibious “duckboats” that the Bruins rode in for their Stanley Cup Parade are really the automotive equivalent of “Crocs.” What would have been cooler? Way cooler? This.

 

[box border=”full”]To see a previous “Nutshell” click here[/box]

[box border=”full”]This week’s podcast, “The Gist Of It.”[/box]

Championship Hangover

Word is, 6 Boston Bruins ran up a bar tab of $156,679.74 at a Stanley Cup party at a place called Foxwoods Casino, Saturday night. A picture of what’s purported to be the bar tab from that night, is making the rounds. See below.

The NHL has a salary cap. The NHLPA might want to consider a bar bill cap.

Apparently, the tab included a $100,000.00 bottle of champagne. A $100,000.00 bottle of champagne. Unless it can be verified that  this champagne was, in fact, made from the blood of Christ himself, I believe it’s got to be a tad over priced. As well, I don’t see any food charges on this tab. Boys, boys, boys. At least a tray of nachos to soak up a little of that poison. I guess if you’re going to spend a hundred thousand dollars on a bottle of champagne, you don’t want anything standing between it and your bloodstream.

The “service charge” on this bill, alone, was almost $25,000.00. Because, when you order a $100k bottle of champagne, I’m guessing, it is served to you by a singing and dancing Rihanna.

It should be noted, that, among the bar items on this bill, were some bottles of Bud Light. Because premium beer is expensive.

According to “Irish Central” (seriously), the six Bruins involved were: Zdeno Chara, Tim Thomas, Shawn Thornton, Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Ha. Enjoy picking up THAT, tab, rookie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE NUTSHELL: The Riots, Canoe Dancing And The Selling Of Toronto

A weekly feature, with a collection of random thoughts on random things.

SPORTS

  • Well, I suppose it has to come under the banner of sports, but, the rioting in Vancouver only lands in this category because of its proximity to Game 7 of the Cup Final. Watching a group of a-holes jump up and down on a police car, I got to thinking that if there was any justice in the world at all, one (or preferably more) of them would bust an ankle, or an arm. If there was justice, it’d be one of these clowns that suffered a compression fracture of the vertebrae, or a concussion, not Mayson Raymond or Nathan Horton. To those of you rocket surgeons who posted your pictures and proud anarchy status updates on Facebook, I say “bravo.” You are just as smart as I figured you were. To the VAST majority of Vancouverites who would never partake in this garbage and are, in fact, embarrassed by this criminal nonsense, don’t be. There are morons everywhere. It would be nice to be inoculated against that kind of gene pool pollution, but no city is immune.
Mason Raymond. You know, if it were me, I’d wear that thing UNDER my shirt to make it look like I’ve got ripped abs.

 

  • Speaking of Mayson Raymond, did you see him at Game 7? For a moment, I wondered if he was actually one of the many entertainment celebs that had graced the Stanley Cup Final. Perhaps, one of the injured cast members of “Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark.”
  • NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman really got an earful at the Cup presentation, didn’t he? That was some lusty booing. But, I wonder if he considers it a success considering he only had two shoes, an iPhone and one “Green Guy” thrown at him. Bettman could have avoided this, if he’d only taken one of my suggestions, and done the Cup presentation up right.
  • Steve Nash fired out this tweet, just before Game 7 started: Nerves. Excitement. Longing. Pride. It feels like the night I entered manhood….@vancanucksWonder if that night turned out the same for Steve as did Wednesday for Canuck fans. Incredible anticipation followed by an inglorious exit and, perhaps, some crying.
Make that outfit out of sequins and you’ve got an Olympic sport.

POP CULTURE

  • Watching the Colbert Report the other night, I saw a piece on something that I didn’t even know existed. Freestyle canoeing. But, I like to call it “canoe dancing.” Have a look, (the guy’s routine starts at about the 1:15 mark) then come back for  some smart ass comments. Okay. This has now taken over from “extreme ironing” as my favourite niche sport. I think it’s a sport. Could be an art. Or, an affliction. As great as this is, I think they could ramp up the attractiveness, just a bit, by adding a portage portion to the competition. Guy, on land, dances up to the shore, spinning the thing over his head like it’s Jamie Sale. Can’t wait for the “reality” show based on this, “Dancing with the Oars.” They could pair paddling celebrities with freestyle canoe pros. Silken Laumann, Marnie McBean, Adam Van Koeverden, all doing the watercraft equivalent of “Battle of the Blades.” Heck, let’s make it ex-NHLers and call it “Paddle of the Blades.”

 

  • Arby’s and Wendy’s will no longer be affliated. It’ll be a contentious divorce, with a pitched battle over who gets custody of the cholesterol.
  • The “Webby” awards were handed out this week. Acceptance speeches were restricted to 5 words. That keeps the show moving, and ensures Kanye West has very little chance of interrupting a winner’s speech. “I’ma let ya finish…but… ‘Proxy.org’ had one of the best proxy servers of ALL TIME!!”
  • The movie “Super 8” is tops at the box office. About time they did something to answer the competition. I mean, “Holiday Inn” came out, what, 70 years ago? Can’t wait for the blockbuster “Radisson.”

POLITICS

Doug Ford (L) and Mayor Rob Ford discuss how much they think they could get for selling ad space on Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong’s lapels.
  • Rob and Doug Ford floated an idea, down at City Hall. Raise some much needed cash by selling the naming rights to some city-owned properties, like subway stations. Some of them wouldn’t even have to change their name. Dupont, Yorkdale, Woodbine, Royal York. Others would need just a wee tweak: Mr. Christie (thanks for that one, Anne), St. Clairol, Victoria’s Secret Park, Humber College, Old Mill Street Brewery and Elmwood Spa-dina. My personal favourite comes from Global TV’s Jackson Proskow: Bed Bathurst and Beyond. (Note: After I published this blog, Jackson let me know that I should credit “The Torontoist” for the Bed, Bathurst and Beyond line. so, consider it done.) It’s a good idea. Let’s start by selling the naming rights to the mayor. And take Ford Motor Company out of the equation. Not nearly fun enough.
  • Anthony Weiner has resigned. Now that he’s got so much spare time on his hands… oh boy.
  • Yet ANOTHER woman has come forward to say that she got dirty messages from Weiner. Geezuz, this guy is the Tiger Woods of sex scandals. No, wait. Tiger Woods is the Tiger Woods of sex scandals. Right now, Tiger is the Anthony Weiner of golf.
  • Weiner’s media conference was kind of bizarre, in that, in the face of all that heckling, the man who posted crotch shots on the internet came across as, well, dignified. The conference reminded me of one of my all time favourite political hecklings. Poor Ben Konop, who ran for mayor of Toledo. While trying to address the media, some goofball who looked like one of the Klopek’s from the movie “the ‘Burbs” kept riding Ben from a chair on his porch. The video is here.

FINAL THOUGHT

“Woofstock” was held in Toronto last weekend. Bunch of long-haired Shih Tzus and their rock and roll and their peace and free love crap. Get a haircut, you hippies!

 

[box border=”full”]To see a previous “THE NUTSHELL, click here[/box]

7 Cool Ways The Commish Could Present The Cup

We get the same thing every year. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman walks out amidst a chorus of mostly boos, grabs the mic like he’s a principal about to admonish an unruly assembly crowd, and quickly and without much pomp or circumstance, hands over The Cup. Then gets the hell out.

We need something new. Fresh. Exciting. We need the attention-grabbing daring of Lady Gaga. The head turning style of Michael Buble. The “what the hell?” quality of a Kardashian YouTube video.

Here are a few suggestions. 7 cool ways the Commissioner could present the Stanley Cup:

“And now..ow…ow…ow…I’d like to sing…ing…ing…Kei$ha’s Tick Tock…ock…ock.”

1.  Lights dim. The strains of “Phantom Of The Opera” blare. A single spotlight hits an upper corner of the arena. Out of a massive cloud of dry ice, there, in a cape and a half Gerry Cheevers mask, The Commish emerges. With a bellowing, evil laugh (the kind usually reserved for a thwarting of Jim Balsillie), he tucks the Cup under an arm, grabs a rope with the other, and swoops down to centre ice.

2.  The players gather at the Zamboni entrance, lined up on either side of it. They drop their sticks, take off their gloves and start clapping in time with the music. That music? “Footloose,” by Kenny Loggins. Out comes Mr. Bettman, in acid washed jeans, white shirt and skinny tie, perfectly mimicking Kevin Bacon’s incredible mid-eighties dance moves. All the way to centre ice. Not necessary, but pretty great, would be to get John Lithgow to stand at the end of the line in minister’s garb, arms folded, shaking his head in disgust.

3.  Bettman doesn’t present the Cup at all. Instead, Charlie Sheen, drives a Zamboni out, complete with gaggle of his “goddesses” as passengers. After a short, meandering tour of the ice, the Zamboni slams into the boards, knocking everyone off. They scramble to their feet, and start to stagger toward centre ice, sliding the cup along the ice. Sheen throws up in the Cup, points to the victorious captain and says “winning.”

4.  In a nod to the top-of-mind status of Anthony Weiner, the Commish strides to centre wearing flip-flops and a towel. The Cup is there waiting for him. He smiles, devilishly, then sticks it between his legs, takes a picture  with his iPhone and immediately posts the shot to Twitter. Then announces: “We have a wiener!” Congratulations Vancouver/Boston!”

5.  Dressed like Moses, the Commish slowly, stoically, makes his way toward the players gathered at centre ice. He’s carrying two stone tablets. As the camera zooms in, we see that the tablets have the NHL’s constantly changing headshot rules carved into them. He puts them down, picks up a composite hockey stick from the pile nearby. He waves it slowly, and the players part, the Stanley Cup appearing in the middle of them. Of course, the stick breaks as he does this.

6.   Royal Wedding theme. The Cup, in a bridal veil and mini-dress with a long train. The Commish in a Prince William uniform knock-off. Or the other way around, if you prefer. A carriage ride to centre ice. Carrie Underwood as Pippa, following dutifully behind the Cup, carrying the tail end of it’s train. Prince Harry, played by…well..who else but Sean Avery? Peter Mansbridge narrates.

7.  Salute to Seal Team 6. The Commish, in full commando gear, is juggled and nose-bounced by a line of 6 actual seals towards a mini compound-like structure at centre ice. Gary kicks in the door, the walls fall down and we see an Osama look-a-like sitting on the floor with the Stanley Cup in his grasp. The Commissioner fires a few paintball rounds into him and secures the Cup, as well as “Osama’s” DVD collection. He announces that the discs are “NHL 2010-2011 highlight DVD’s, now available at NHL.com!”

Honourable mentions as themes: Jersey Shore. Bettman in drag as Snooki, guzzling a margarita from the Cup. Star Wars. Take the base off the Cup, and the Commissioner can wear it, like he’s R2-D2. And “Enchantment Under The Sea.” Of course.

[box border=”full”]To see Gary Bettman’s Winnipeg quotes translated, click here.[/box]

This Little Piggy Went All The Way Home Without A Trophy

Big sensation on the internet for a bit, as the following photo of Lebron James had some convinced the big guy had six toes on his right foot.

Contrary to earlier reports, Lebron James will not win the NBA’s “Sixth Toe Award.”

 

A spokesperson was quick to squash the story, saying that it was just an optical illusion, or some fancy photoshopping. Lebron does not have a triple-double on his right foot. James’ toes were strangely silent on the matter. Wait a sec, they’re toes, so, that’s not that strange after all.

I’m more concerned with teammate Mike Miller’s feet being completely covered by towels. My god, what the hell is HE hiding?!