Saturday, April 30, 2011

APPRENTICE Advertisers Pressuring NBC To Control Donald Trump

NBC is beginning to feel an advertiser backlash as Donald Trump's behavior grow more outrageous by the day. Groupon has become the first major advertiser to pull their sponsorship of Donald Trump's CELEBRITY APPRENTICE program on NBC in response to Trump's outlandish behavior the last few days which includes some behavior viewed as racist as well as using the F word during a public speech. And NEWSONE, a news service for the African American community reports that other advertisers are beginning to pressure NBC to either control Donald Trump or else they will cancel their sponsorship of his APPRENTICE show on their network.

Trump first seized on the tabloid story run in THE GLOBE claiming that the current president wasn't born in the U.S., although enough information made public since the 2008 election proved that this tabloid story was completely wrong. The White House issued the live birth certificate from Hawaii again this week to quiet down Trump and others who seemed to believe this tabloid story. Now, Trump is starting some new issue about the education of the president, which many in the African American community believe is taking on a racist nature. Trump was reportedly sued back in the 1970's for a claimed policy of not renting properties he owned to African American applicants according to NEWSONE.

Donald Trump doesn't seem to have much to gain here by what he believes in his own mind is laying the groundwork for a potential presidential bid. He has extremely high negative numbers where up to 64% of voters in the latest Gallup Poll said that they would not vote for him as a presidential candidate. And yesterday, another story broke that Donald Trump lied about both how he avoided military service in Vietnam as well as lied about his ties to organized crime while running some failed Atlantic City, New Jersey casinos and hotel businesses.

At some point, NBC might have to consider that Donald Trump is bad for NBC or else a candidate for president and ask him to exit THE APPRENTICE on their network. In 2008, actor Fred Thompson had to leave LAW AND ORDER on NBC when he became a candidate for president. Federal election rules would force a network like NBC to provide equal time to any other candidates for office once Trump is viewed as starting an active campaign organization.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding Drew Big Ratings

Although the royal wedding of Price Harry and Kate Middleton was very early in the morning for many Americans, millions of Americans joined the estimated 2 billion viewers worldwide who tuned in to watch the coverage. At least 28% of Americans expressed big interest in the royal wedding. Most of the strongest interest in the wedding appeared to be from women over 40.

For such an early morning event, in a time slot usually occupied by infomercials and other late night junk programming, these sort of numbers were very big. All of the major networks were on air with coverage of the event that ran for several hours.

Donald Trump Haunted By Organized Crime Ties

CELEBRITY APPRENTICE Host and businessman Donald Trump is beginning to suffer a backlash of negative investigative reporting in recent days. Earlier this week, Trump brought a spotlight of embarrassment on himself for his seizing on a false tabloid story run in THE GLOBE that claimed the current president wasn't born in the United States. Now, a brand new investigative story run jointly by AOL and THE HUFFINGTON POST claims that Donald Trump lied when claimed that his casino and business ventures were free from organized crime ties.

Public records indicate that New Jersey casino regulators forced Trump to buy out two business partners who heavily invested in his Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino who were associated with organized crime. Trump also employed a known member of an Asian organized crime organization to act as a vice president of his Taj Mahal Casino for five years, while Trump fought legal battles to keep this organized crime figure from being forced out by state casino regulators.

In the case of the Asian crime family member, he was said to be a member of a crime family that worked out of Hong Kong who were known for crimes such as murder, extortion and heroin smuggling.

If Donald Trump has any serious political ambitions, it will be difficult for him to shake these new stories that he had close associations with organized crime in business, and even fought with casino regulators so that he could continue to have the person who was said to be associated with Asian organized crime organization continue to serve as an officer in one of his casinos. Voters would not likely want to elect someone who closely partnered with organized crime in business. All of this makes political ambitions of Trump less likely.

More and more, it appears that bad comb-overs aren't the worst issue that Donald Trump should fear.

Lara Logan's 60 MINUTES Interview Airs This Sunday

CBS has leaked a few details of the upcoming interview that brutalized reporter Lara Logan will offer this Sunday about her brutal beating and sexual assault during the uprising in Egypt back on February 11. Lara Logan claims that this will be the last time that she addresses the violent incident because she doesn't want her whole life to be defined by the horrible crime and wants to return back to foreign reporting like she did before. Lara Logan was always one of the very best of the foreign reporters in the business.

Logan claims in the upcoming interview that up to 200 or 300 men might have participated in the violent attack which might have lasted about 40 minutes. Lara Logan said that she expected to die in violence that would drag on for an extended period as a "torturous death" and that her "clothes were torn to pieces" and she was "raped" with the hands of attackers. She was especially struck at how "merciless" the attackers were, who "really enjoyed my pain and suffering. It incited them to more violence".

Looking as beautiful as ever, publicly clearing the air about her brutal attack while working on a report from a world hot zone, the interview will be a major event that should draw huge ratings as the American public was so outraged that Western reporters could be so brutalized while reporting the news in Egypt. The attack on the reporter might be the most important story of violence to a major journalist since war correspondent Ernie Pyle was killed by Japanese machine gun fire while reporting on the war in the Pacific in 1945.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Portland Trailblazers Fight To Avoid 1st Round Elimination Tonight

The Portland Trailblazers once again find themselves with their backs against the wall in their efforts to avoid another year's first round elimination. This year, Mark Cuban's Dallas Mavericks have given Portland all they can take, however Portland has managed to win the two home games so far, including a Lazarus-level effort from 23 points down to win what seemed like a hopeless game at home Saturday afternoon. Portland's hopes now seem to pin on winning tonight's game to even the series and getting an elusive win in Dallas for game seven. But, so far Portland hasn't been able to find a way to win a Dallas game yet. So the the task for the Blazers seems daunting to say the least.

If the Blazers can't find a way to win tonight, then this game becomes their season finale and Summer vacation starts early for the team.

Steve Carell's "Michael Scott" Leaves THE OFFICE Tonight

Steve Carell's "Michael Scott" character makes his long awaited exit from THE OFFICE tonight in an extended episode. Will Farrell will reportedly appear in the episode as well. NBC has high hopes that the episode will pull in major ratings. However, last week NBC had to pull the plug on the PAUL REISER SHOW due to soft ratings.

Well, let's see what happens NBC. Will THE OFFICE pull in the big numbers or not? And who replaces "Michael Scott"? More mysteries to be solved later.....

Andy Dick Shows Off His Dick In Portland Comedy Festival Appearance

Comic Andy Dick certainly lived up to his name. He showed off his dick during his appearance at Portland's Bridgetown Comedy Festival. According to our sources, Andy Dick sought drugs such as cocaine and marijuana before his appearance later that evening, and in a highly drug intoxicated state went onstage in Portland dressed in women's clothes and then exposed himself during his performance taking off his skirt and standing bottomless before a packed audience. At one point during the show, one source claimed that Dick even dropped bags of drugs on the stage. Charming. Simply, charming.

And you have to wonder why Andy Dick hasn't found work on TV since NEWSRADIO. Gee, you'd think producers would be knocking down this guy's door to offer him work.

Donald Trump Proves That Bad Tabloid Newspaper Stories Make For Bad Politics

Trashy tabloid newspapers regularly run absurd fictional stories they claim are real news about UFOs landing on the White House lawn, half-human, half bat hybrid creatures, kittens arrested for murder, as well as foolish stories claiming that the President is a Muslim or that he wasn't born in the United States. While serious political figures look for serious political issues, businessman and CELEBRITY APPRENTICE host, Donald Trump has unfortunately gained a little traction among a few gullible persons recently by seizing upon an absurd story run by THE GLOBE tabloid.

Yesterday, the White House once again had to make public the birth certificate of the President, because of Trump's continued efforts to promote The GLOBE story as though it was fact. Once again, the latest birth certificate release proved the same as it always had, that the future President was born in 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii. But, this latest release of the birth certificate didn't prevent Trump from claiming that the birth certificate should have been released much earlier.

The fact of the matter is the birth certificate has always been pretty public in any Google search since at least 2008. Further, CBS news and other news sources have already proven that the HONOLULU STAR ran a live birth announcement based on the hospital's release of information to them two weeks after the birth, which is a common practice because of some babies dying shortly after birth. But, none of these facts prevented Trump from going on his misinformed media blitz and the media seemed to respond by always allowing him an opportunity to speak.

So the question is how can a man with as money as Donald Trump be so stupid as to believe some foolish tabloid newspaper story when a wealth of facts exist to down that story, and then get himself booked to a number of TV publicity appearances to pander his ignorance. Only for the sake of Trump being a celebrity himself can he seriously get himself signed to any TV appearance, even if what he wants to talk about is completely ignorant nonsense.

Serious politicians often have difficulty getting enough press attention for the good things they do or real news about serious issues that actually affect the community they serve. Trump proved just the opposite is true for him. A celebrity, even if he's half crazy, or very poorly informed, can easily get publicity, even for his own crazy and wholly misinformed opinions. Charlie Sheen also proved that recently as well.

If Donald Trump ever seriously had any real serious political ambitions, then he probably more than dashed them where his craziness should be pretty apparent to all but a few crazies out there who still believe that every word of THE GLOBE tabloid is Gospel. But, likely Trump never was very serious to begin with, but just another media sideshow, just like Charlie Sheen was the week before Trump started his crazed media blitz. The media and public just seem to love to laugh at a celebrity crackpot. And bad comb-over and all, Donald Trump is just the latest celebrity joke out there. He's managed to lose probably billions in business since the divorce from his wife Ivana, his adultery and other problems only further proving that he's a two-faced liar. Only the fact that he inherited a lot of money, although losing a lot of it himself, makes him wealthy and not selling insurance somewhere. Other than his inherited money, Trump is no role model at all. His true believer belief in THE GLOBE story is pretty fair evidence that Trump's not very bright as well.

The fact that the White House had to make public the birth record information once again is a sad commentary that a small percentage of the public is gullible enough to fall for foolish tabloid stories and not intelligent enough to distinguish that the stories in many tabloids are often works of fiction rather than genuine news such as a story run by the AP. But, in a nation where as many 50% of Americans never graduate from high school in major cities, and a growing segment of the public lives on some form of public assistance because they lack the basic skills to be self-supporting, the U.S. is showing all signs of rapidly declining as a major leading nation in the world. Despite a growing wealth of Internet based information, many American's grasp of basic knowledge and skills with reading and math only continue to decline.

Maybe the only real winner here is NBC. CELEBRITY APPRENTICE should be more popular than ever because Trump made a damn fool of himself, proving that no publicity is bad publicity.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

SOUTH PARK Opens Season 15 With "HumancentiPad" Episode

Tonight's the big night SOUTH PARK fans. You won't be disappointed at the disgusting little premiere tonight as SOUTH PARK manages to take at swipe at both Apple's iPad as well THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE horror film, creating an outrageous mix sure to become another gross-out classic.

In case you haven't seen it, THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE was reviewed here at Wizbang Pop in recent months and involved an outrageous horror film in which three persons were sewn together mouth to anus, creating a monstrosity and eventual death for two of the persons. The film was an unbelievable gross out horror film, and apparently impressed the SOUTH PARK writers enough to use a premise in their scathing parody on Apple and their iPad.

This is a must watch for all you South Park fans, and a true guilty pleasure.

BRIDESMAIDS: A Dirty Chick Flick That Guys Might Like Too!

BRIDESMAIDS, which will open at theaters on May 15, sure looks like a raunchy good time film based on some new trailer films circulating on the Web. It looks like just the sort of "chick flick" that guys might also like. From some of the same writers, producers and directors associated with SUPERBAD, KNOCKED UP and THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN, BRIDESMAIDS hopes to follow the huge success of these other major efforts.

With SNL actresses Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph leading up a cast that includes the late Jill Clayburgh, BRIDESMAIDS looks far more promising than most recent films with SNL stars in them. Some films such as NIGHT AT THE ROXBURY were unwatchable dreck. However, Kristen Wiig is an exceptionally talented actress that seems able to do wonders with the right script. And all indications here are that this script is a good one.

Some advance reviews claim that this film is one of the best R-rated comedies this year by far. Early reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are running 80% positive so far, which is very good.

BRIDESMAIDS certainly looks worthwhile to watch and as soon as a screener is available to Wizbang Pop we'll be reviewing this film in more detail here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Record Oil Prices, Record Oil Company Profits, Put Oil Industry Tax Breaks In Question

As oil prices hit record levels, and five of the largest oil companies might report near record profits as high as 59% later this week, Washington will debate whether to extend billions in tax breaks to the industry in coming days. One of these tax breaks deals with the oil industry being able to write $780 million in tax credits the first year when they open up new drilling sites while all other American businesses must depreciate the costs of new tooling over a lifetime schedule of 15 years or more of service life.

Oil companies are also given an economic incentive of a 15% tax credit for resource depletion of any drilling site they have, as another incentive to drill more and seek more oil. However, it's not in oil's interests to have too much oil on the market as the price would decrease if the supply pool were larger.

Oil companies also able to take part in a domestic manufacturing tax credit that is intended to encourage manufacturing to stay in the U.S. and not emigrate jobs to China or some other foreign nation. Currently, the oil industry provides on the order of 9 million jobs in the U.S., however when the news hits this week of near record oil company profits as American motorists pay around $4 or better a gallon for gas, Washington legislators as well as the White House will feel pressure to eliminate $4 billion a year in oil industry tax breaks.

The current wave of high prices is especially driving inflation as food items are either increasing in price or else downsizing by as much as 20% to cover increased oil prices. If this rate of food price increases, by year's end it might take $300 to purchase what $200 would have bought at the beginning of the year before the latest wave of oil prices took effect.

DVD Review: HUSK(2011)

What a great horror movie HUSK is. After Dark certainly know how to craft a great horror tale, and HUSK certainly seems to capture your attention as the scary supernatural events begin to quickly unfold after a group of young folks have an accident after a blinding group of crows crash into the windshield of their SUV, causing a crash into a ditch at a strange corn field where scare crows terrorize and murder.

HUSK is an absolutely terrifying tale of the supernatural and great horror filmmaking. It's a real thrill ride with few short comings. One of my few complaints is that Tammin Pamela Sursok, the beautiful south African born actress wasn't in much more of this film. She's a major league babe who's appeared in projects as wide ranging as IN PLAIN SIGHT, THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, PRETTY LITTLE LIARS, RULES OF ENGAGEMENT, AQUAMARINE as well as eight episodes of HANNAH MONTANA as Siena. If the makers of HUSK dropped the ball anywhere here, it wasn't writing the script where Sursok's character was a more major part of this film. But, still the film that's here is very good and very interesting.

The Bottom Line: If you want to enjoy a top notch horror tale, then you can't go wrong here. HUSK is very enjoyable. +++(Three Stars, Good. Buy or rent this film and enjoy it!).

ZoomCare: A New Reasonably Priced Alternative To Urgent Care

This past week when I turned seriously ill with pneumonia, I was looking for some alternative to high priced urgent care and a quick appointment. I found out a new form of affordable urgent care service with same day appointments and appointments for just $99(for those without health insurance, and $129 for those with health insurance) and lab tests as low as $20. Compared to up to $1000 or more for some emergency room or $300+ urgent care services.

ZoomCare operates 7(clinic #8 will open very soon) neighborhood clinics in the Portland, Oregon area and is a revolutionary approach to more affordable on-demand medical care for a wide range of illnesses, falls, injuries, etc. In cases where tests exceed what ZoomCare can offer on-site, it partners with Providence hospital or other health providers to provide that service.

Utilizing a very talented team of Doctors, Physician's Assistants and other professionals, ZoomCare seems very good at being accurate in diagnosis for a decent range of more common health problems or injury relief. The professional I saw, Stephanie Benjamin, MPAS,PA-C was able to quickly diagnose and offer treatment for my pneumonia as well as my painful ear infection with antibiotics and other medication. ZoomCare also offers some videos about conditions such as pneumonia on-line that you can access with a key code they offer during your office visit. And any lab test results are emailed to your selected address, so you can review the results and any required treatment. This is a really fresh and modern approach to medical treatment.

The ZoomCare model should help to influence more health care providers to offer a similar streamlined service able to offer affordable community based health care. It might be something of a fast food approach to medicine, but it saves lots of money compared to other urgent care or emergency services, and seems like an idea that is long overdue.

I have to give ZoomCare excellent marks for what it attempts to do. It was Sunday morning and I felt very sick, and it was sure is great to find a neighborhood health provider open 7 days a week, 362 days a year with affordable services for a walk-in patient like me to start my treatment.

At one time, nearly a third of those who pneumonia would die of the illness as it would worsen. Today, with antibiotics probably no more than just about 5% will die. That's remarkably better odds of survival than any time in the past. Pneumonia is very serious and certainly requires medical treatment. ZoomCare has me on the road to recovery for an affordable price.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Lindsay Lohan's Revolving Jail Door

Well, this is getting hard to keep up with, but Lindsay spent a few hours in jail yesterday after Los Angeles Judge Stephanie Sanders found her guilty of violating probation for her arrest and trial for jewelry theft. Lohan was supposed to serve 120 days. However, after a few hours her legal team were allowed to post bail on her behalf meaning that Lohan was free to get into trouble once again.

Ain't the American justice systyem grand? There's usually an escape clause for a wealthy offender like a Lindsay Lohan to use to walk the streets and cause more mayhem.

Paul Reiser's New Show Canceled After Second Episode

Paul Reiser's return to NBC was supposed to be a huge event at the network. Instead, the new show met with terrible critical reviews as well as soft ratings and was canceled by NBC after only airing twice. NBC had much higher hopes than this for the former star of their once big hit, MAD ABOUT YOU, instead critics compared the show to a lame version of CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM(which some critics claim is a less good version of SEINFELD).

All of this puts NBC back to square zero to find another Thursday night blockbuster. Sadly, one of NBC's best bets quickly wilted here when it quickly became the lowest rated comedy ever aired by NBC. A disaster of historical proportions for the Peacock network.

Well, at least Jay Leno has new joke material after this debacle.

Friday, April 22, 2011

CBS Friday Night Show CHAOS Canceled After Just Three Episodes

CBS may be the ratings leader among the networks, but that sure didn't prevent them from making the rotten choice of adding CHAOS to their Friday night schedule. But, don't expect to see it tonight on the network. After just three outings, the rogue spy series with many comic moments left CBS feeling the flat ratings blues and they pulled the series. Hey, CBS did a lot better with either MEDIUM or THE DEFENDERS in the same time slot, proving that just by adding something new to the schedule does not an immediate hit make.

Not only was CHAOS a kooky mix on the network, where most of the other shows are carefully winnowed before adding them to the schedule, but viewing audiences didn't much care for the show either as evidenced by the rotten ratings.

CBS violated an important rule here. You can't just throw crap at the camera and expect people to watch. The dismal ratings proved that. Even the promo shot for the show looks like a disorganized mess that only The Three Stooges could be proud of.

Friday night's are fickle. It's one of the most ratings soft nights of the week. At one time, ABC made good of the night with a block of family comedies, but CBS miserably failed when it spent millions of dollars to buy those aging comedy shows, FAMILY MATTERS and STEP BY STEP, and create their own instant family night. For the years since that debacle, it's been experiment after another over at CBS to find something that works in the 8-9pm time slot. CBS had a reliable presence for a few years with GHOST WHISPERER, but strangely decided to cancel that show and now finds itself languishing in a Gehenna of perpetual ratings failures.

Gee, some programming execs at CBS must feel a little like that mythical Greek figure forever condemned to roll a big rock up a hill only to have it roll back down again. The same programming mistakes only repeat themselves at the network.

The Czech Republic's Naughty Little Easter Ritual

Some old Easter traditions die hard. One of the oldest still practiced is a type of naughty little Easter ritual practiced in some parts of Eastern Europe such as the Czech Republic where attractive young women are playfully whipped with a type of handmade whip decorated with a ribbon called a pomlazka. It is a form old fertility ritual that manages to survive to this day, although dousing attractive girls with water is becoming more popular in recent years as a less outrageous or sexually overtoned Easter rite.

The reality is that any young woman who is not the victim of one of these playful whippings probably feels unattractive and not the marrying sort of material. The sign that several boys might take the time to whip a young girl only proves her popularity with this outrageous old fashioned Easter ritual.

An important word of warning here. This is an old Eastern European Easter fertility ritual only. For God's sake don't even think to try this here in the U.S. at all. This is no doubt sexual assault or some other serious crime here and the argument that you're practicing an old Czech tradition probably won't keep you out of jail or worse.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Economy Seems To Be The Big Star At The New York Auto Show

Sensing that fuel economy as well as belt-tightening might follow the latest rounds of steeper oil prices, the New York Auto Show seems to be brimming with economy stars this year. Hoping to cash in on this expected trend of frugality, there are plenty of products from makers such as Hyundai, KIA, Mazda and many others. Even luxury brands such as Merecedes are showing off their smaller and cheaper A Class line of cars as well.

The New York Auto Show is always a huge event where automakers hope for plenty of good press about their new products as well as showing off some interesting concept vehicles. Expect to hear a lot of buzz about a few new cars from this year's show.

However, this year's round of steep oil prices has cast a giant shadow over this year's show and probably led to a lot of late decisions to feature some more fuel efficient vehicles more than others. The fast and the furious will always be found at New York's famous auto event. But, for this year, economy will be the big star, or at least until $4 a gallon gasoline prices settle back down.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cd Review: Foo Fighters WASTING LIGHT

Dave Grohl must be all smiles as his Foo Fighters have scored their very first #1 album ever with WASTING LIGHT, a very good effort from the band that have his fans and the critics both delighted. After playing in no less than 30 bands in his lifetime, starting with roots in punk rock and playing in the legendary Nirvana, Grohl's greatest achievement as the leader of any group has been this new #1 hit album.

Studio album #7 seems to have been the charm for the Foo Fighters here. The album seems to be a well crafted mix of songs that were actually recorded in Dave Grohl's garage of all places. Yet, that seems to work for this alternative rock album and Dave Grohl's background as a grunge garage band performer. Sometimes great albums are recorded in a real minimalistic way such as the classic LA WOMAN album by The Doors. Recorded on a simple 8track reel recorder, this album stands out as one of their best ever. In the same way, The Foo Fighters kept it simple here, and result seems to work real well.

While no one cut really stands out for me, the overall experience of this album is satisfying enough.....I'm a satisfied customer. Hey, 235,000 other Cd buyers for this album can't be wrong either. The Foo Fighters also managed the feat of topping the iTunes charts as well. That was a long time coming.

The Bottom Line: While not really a rock classic yet, this album has plenty of potential to grow on you as more than decent alternative rock effort. +++(Three Stars, or good. Buy this album!).

New VW Set To Debut At Shanghai Auto Show

VW has chosen the prestigious Shanghai Auto Show to debut the new and redesigned 2012 Beetle. China produces nearly three times as many cars as the U.S., the world's fourth largest auto producer. American auto production is down almost 50% since 2000, as the U.S. suffered a huge industrial and economic decline during that decade making auto shows in nations such as China more important to many producers. However, the new 2012 Beetle design seems tailor-made for the U.S. market with a retro appeal.

Most noticeable about the new Beetle is a longer, lower and wider less bulbous appearance than the previous version. This should appeal more to men than the previous model did, which seemed to do a lot better with women buyers. VW considers the new model to very critical to their five year plan to become the world's leading auto producer. The new VW also includes more power than before as well to go with the more masculine appearance of the new VW which has a far less toy-like appearance than the old model. The latest generation of VW also looks less and less like the German knockoff of the old 1930's Czech Tatra T-97. The original Beetle simply stole the basic design of the Czech car to quickly produce a car to satisfy Hitler, however by 1961 VW had to pay big damages to Tatra for ripping off this design.

And new features such as a turbocharged engine, Bluetooth or touchscreen navigation certainly mark the evolution of the new Beetle into modern times.

If VW's plans to dominate world sales are ever to realistically realized, decent U.S. sales of the new Beetle are critical. And American buyers will likely respond to the new Beetle in decent numbers, although part of the cute image of the older models seems really lost in this latest outing. It's more technological and more muscular, but part of the appeal of the older models seems missing this time. Perhaps many buyers might see the new VW as a more affordable "Porsche". And if that boosts sales for VW, then they'll probably be glad to take it.

Retro cars tend to be popular. This should be no exception to that rule.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

China Might Surpass The U.S. In Billionaires Within 5 Years

It may be surprising, but China might surpass the U.S. in billionaires within 5 years if current economic growth continues at the rapid rate there, although some signs are that the current wave of high oil prices might be slowing every major world economy. Currently, the U.S. has 412 billionaires, followed by China at 115. Russia has 101 billionaires followed by India at 55. Germany has 52, Turkey has 38, Hong Kong 36, UK 33, Brazil 30 and Japan 26.

The list of world billionaires has many surprises here. And the biggest surprise according to FORBES is that the number of Chinese billionaires increased by 64 from a year earlier, meaning that within 5 years China could surpass the U.S.

Much like the Internet boom in the U.S. which created many young billionaires, China's booming economy is creating many young self-made billionaires as well such as Chen. Just like the story of Bill Gates, China and other industrializing nations seem to be creating a new wave of billionaires who find a new opportunity where others haven't looked.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Master songwriter legend Paul Simon returns in fine form with SO BEAUTIFUL OR WHAT, a wonderful concept album that raises spiritual questions about man's relationship with God. And so far the critical acclaim is nearly universal, including ROLLING STONE which praised the album as Paul Simon's "best since Graceland", another landmark album in his career. Initially, the lead-off track, "Getting Ready For Christmas" which was premiered on National Public Radio back in November became the first single off the album, although the song failed to chart on the Hot 100 charts.

"Getting Ready For Christmas" is unique in that samples a 1941 sermon by Rev. J.M. Gates, an early pioneer in Gospel music. It's an impressive track and an excellent example of song writing from Paul Simon who combines just enough poetry and pop music together to create a master achievement album.

The second track off the album, "The Afterlife" became the latest single off the album, although the song has also failed to chart as well. But, it's also another fine Paul Simon classic.

At moments this album has some guitar work that reminds you of GRACELAND and other times the old single "Loves Me Like A Rock " is recalled. This album is a wonderful mix of fine songs. And the spirtual feel to the album seems to pay great respect to the traditions of Black Gospel music as well.

The Bottom Line: Paul Simon never seems to disappoint. Every outing is an inspired achievement including this one. A fine effort by a real music legend. +++1/2(Three and a half stars, or better than good. A great album to buy and love. It was just released on April 12, but should be widely available in most stores).

Thursday, April 14, 2011

DVD Review: Brittany Murphy's Last Film ABANDONED

Filmed in June 2009 with a very good cast of actors, ABANDONED sadly became the last film before the untimely death of Brittany Murphy in December. ABANDONED also pretty describes what happed to this interesting thriller by Anchor Bay pictures who abandoned theatrical release of the film and instead went directly to DVD with the film. While not a great picture, ABANDONED manages to spin a unique thriller where you can't figure out where the story is headed. ABANDONED is a strange film that treads new ground as it spins a story.

The character played by Brittany Murphy brings a recent boyfriend(Dean Cain) to a hospital for some leg surgery, but he soon strangely disappears without any answer and without any explanation as a detective, hospital staff and a psychiatrist all question her sanity. But, the movie takes one more shocking twist when an older man claims that her boyfriend has been kidnapped and forces her to steal from her bank to cover the huge ransom. All of this leads to a shocking truth in the end. An utterly unpredictable thriller that's not a classic by any means, yet a unique movie experience as well as one last chance to see actress Brittany Murphy perform her craft.

The Bottom Line: While hardly a great film, yet a very unique mystery thriller with enough unpredictable twists and turns to be fascinating to watch for a viewing. ++1/2(Two stars, or better than fair, or just a hair less than good. Not a bad final film by Brittany Murphy. Not a classic, but a reasonably good movie experience. BTW, here's the rare theatrical poster that was never used).

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Karina Smirnoff Brings Celebrity Power To PLAYBOY

Part of the strategy at PLAYBOY to climb out of the publishing industry funk blues is power of celebrities to bring back sales. Karina Smirnoff, a true DANCING WITH THE STARS favorite graces the cover as well as sheds her clothes inside the issue which should help more one store sell a few more copies of PLAYBOY this month.

PLAYBOY seems to pretty well stand alone among most of the men's magazines these days with their very soft core approach. Some other long time competitors such as GALLERY, CLUB, CHERI and others have gotten increasingly hardcore in recent years, most featuring much more than just explicit nudity, but full sexual penetration. Compared to that, the 33 year old Smirnoff is taking the easy path to giving more than a few guys a thrill this month when they do their monthly shopping for one handed reading material.

Paul Reiser Makes A Big Return To TV

NBC has high hopes that comic Paul Reiser can bring back the Thursday night magic once again. At one time NBC had a real lock on Thursday night ratings with such powerhouse shows as SEINFELD and FRASIER. And Paul Reiser had MAD ABOUT YOU, where he had perfect comic chemistry with co-star Helen Hunt, making this one of NBC's biggest comedy shows. Now Paul Reiser is riding to the rescue of NBC once again with a very promising new comedy that is a must see event.

And Paul Reiser's return to NBC isn't all that the network has in store for this Thursday night. Steve Carrell is getting ready to leave THE OFFICE later this month. In preparation for that big event, Will Ferrell makes some important guest appearances including Thursday as NBC looks for a permanent replacement for Steve Carell. A few big names are being fronted. Look for some big news from this important anchor Thursday night comedy.

Things are plenty exciting at NBC these days.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin Became First Man In Space 50 Years Ago Today

Hard to believe, but it was 50 years ago today that Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man from Earth to go into outer space. At the time, the news of tiny April 12, 1961 Vostok spacecraft which orbited the Earth made Yuri Gagarin an instant world celebrity and set a challenge for the young Kennedy Administration to set a challenge to land man on Earth's moon before the end of the decade.

MiG pilot Yuri Gagarin also had a history of faith in God, making him somewhat unique among the other 19 potential cosmonaut candidates. He even had his daughter baptized at the Russian Orthodox church that the family sometimes attended shortly before his flight into space. His family celebrated both Christmas and Easter. Gagarin reportedly asked his wife to remarry if he should die during his flight into space. However, the first manned mission in space proved both successful and safe and Gagarin returned safely. However, seven years after his trip into space Gagarin and a co-pilot were killed when something went wrong in a routine training flight in a MiG-15UTI. Gagarin's body was cremated and buried in the walls of the Kremlin as a national hero of Russia.

Today, the crew of the international space station sent words of praise today for Yuri Gagarin's great achievement in Russian, English and Italian. A sign of how much the world has changed since the April 12, 1961 flight which sent Cold War shivers through the U.S. at the time, but is viewed as a pioneering space exploration achievement today.

Yuri Gagarin's achievement was the beginning of the future.

It's Free Cone Day At Ben & Jerry's

Want to try a new flavor at Ben & Jerry's? for free? Well, today's your day! All day long Ben & Jerry's all over the U.S. are offering free cones to everyone. It's a chance to try one of many interesting flavors including one based off Jimmy Fallon's late night talk show with potato chip pieces inside.

Normally, cheap folks offend my sense of values. They have no sense of the entrepreneurial spirit that is supposed to be the engine that drives this country, where spending money is a real good thing in my view. But, today you get a pass. This is Ben & Jerry's we're talking about. And Ben & Jerry's ice cream is major league good. And free is even better!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Muammar Gaddafi's "Libyan Rocket" Car

When he's not wearing crazy hats and bombing his own people, crazy Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi moonlights as a car designer of all things. Who knew that such an incoherent guy could design a car nice enough that it looks like it's from the future of Fall 2020 or something. And the Libyan Rocket is supposed to be very safe as well to answer the high accident death rate on roads.

The five passenger car has a V6 engine that puts out a respectable 230hp. That's not too bad. It looks sleek and comfortable for sure.

Believe it or not, the Continent of Africa has more than a few great cars. None are household words, but they are impressive nonetheless.

So you have to ask yourself why Gaddafi doesn't just teach Detroit a thing or two about building cars rather than acting the role of the crazy eccentric dictator?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

BMC Motorcycles: Bend Oregon's Badass Chopper Works

BMC Motorcycles from little Bend, Oregon is a great little chopper works. Using ultrahigh compression Rev Tech engines that kick out major league ball bustin' horsepower, BMC Motorcycles offer awesome high performance choppers for extremely fair prices. One good example is the $26k Big Daddy model, a true biker's bike with a 160mph speedometer that will make a Corvette feel like some granny car by comparison. Just $26k is an extremely fair price for a bike built out of such high quality components as BMC does. BMC never goes the cheap-ass route. They are a true luxury brand of biker bikes for sure.

BMC bikes all have a real tough, cool, and custom street look. They look simply badass. And it takes real balls to ride bikes with this much horsepower. The engines are such high performance that you have to push a decompression switch to safely start them because the brutal horsepower of 100 C.I. on up engines will just kill a starter in no time flat. These are the real deal here.

In terms of real world crotch rocketry, BMC is a great brand. Ultrahigh quality products combined with brutal horsepower make this a real dream machine works and the envy of many other motorcycle riders. Why spend up to $80k or more on a custom built chopper when BMC can build you a real nice toy less than $30k. You can look totally bitchin' with a BMC for less bread than many other custom built choppers because BMC produces several ready-built custom models including the Big Daddy and the Hooligan for a lot less bread than it would cost to have a custom frame built by a chopper machine works.

As good as BC bikes are, some dealers like MOB(Motorcycles Of Bend) offer custom one of kind models for sale including one nice black one with a nice forks rake and brass knuckle design logos.

BMC bikes are loud and fast. And like the old Hells Angels saying goes, "Loud Pipes Save Lives". You'll certainly hear any BMC bike coming and going. BMC bikes....what your best dressed bikers will be wearing this Spring.


Critics and movie goers couldn't feel much more differently about one film than this one. But, my opinion is that the moviegoers are right, BATTLE: LOS ANGELES successfully welds Sci Fi together with a great action movie creating one of the most enjoyable military science fiction films in recent memory. This film is sort of like BLACKHAWK DOWN meets WAR OF THE WORLDS or INDEPENDENCE DAY, producing a great ground war with aliens film. The street level warfare amid wrecked cars and streets of Los Angeles as tough soldiers and civilians make a brave last stand against space invaders should satisfy most war or Sci Fi fans. Certainly, the movie might be heavy with predicable moments as well as one war film cliché after another. But, as much as I love war films, this science fiction take on a street level ground war with aliens is a very enjoyable popcorn movie. Not high art. Just plenty enjoyable. And that's just fine with me. The Bottom Line: A predictable, but wholly enjoyable new twist on the classic war film. The sets and special effects look impressive enough to suit me just fine. I like this movie and recommend it. +++(Three Stars: Good. I knew from the first TV ad trailer that I'd love this film. And I sure did. It's pretty good for what it hopes to achieve. Spend your movie ticket money here!)

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Great Director Sidney Lumet Dead At 86

Sidney Lumet was one of the greatest directors of our generation. He passed away leaving behind one of the greatest lists of serious and acclaimed films of any modern director. Lumet seemed especially adept at directing serious psychodramas according to some film historians and film critics. Some of his great film achievements include 12 ANGRY MEN, THE PAWNBROKER, FAIL-SAFE, SERPICO, MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, NETWORK, DOG DAY AFTERNOON, THE WIZ, DEATHTRAP, THE VERDICT, and many more great films. If you can't find a Sidney Lumet classic you love among these films, then you just don't love films.

Some directors are a director's director. Sidney Lumet was a true classic director. A great man. He will be greatly missed. His family have our best wishes and prayers.

Friday, April 08, 2011

TBN's Catholic Priest Fr. Michael Manning Admits To Sexual Relationship With A Cousin

Father Michael Manning, 70, who runs the only Roman Catholic program on the mostly Protestant TBN religious network has admitted to having a sexual relationship with a female second cousin. Certainly, the news is shocking because who knew that Catholic priests had a sexual interest in adult females? However, the priest did have his affair with a cousin just to kink things up, so I guess he gets points for trying to be sordid and twisted after-all.

Manning's TBN show is entitled "A WORD IN THE WORLD". However, as a standard practice at TBN once one of their TV preachers gets involved in some sort of pants down or financial scandal, then the show mysteriously disappears from the TBN schedule.

Manning has managed to dismiss the whole scandal by claiming, "That's the neat thing with Jesus. There can be the chance of starting again". This translates into "Do anything the hell you want, and just claim the forgiveness of Jesus later to wipe the slate clean". Well, that's one hell of a standard isn't it? Kind of screwed reasoning to justify priests screwing, huh?

Thursday, April 07, 2011

THE JUDDS Reality Series Premiere Upstaged By Ashley Judd Sex Abuse Story

Ashley Judd has managed to upstage her mother and half-sister with the release of her new book and her allegations of sexual abuse including by a close male family member. The story has upstaged the two hour long Sunday night premiere on OWN of THE JUDDS. Oprah Winfrey's new OWN network had hoped for the premiere of THE JUDDS to present the business and personal relationship of Naomi and Wynonna Judd. However, Ashley Judd's new book with many explosive allegations now becomes a huge distraction for the show.

Ashley Judd's new book may not really hurt the ratings of the new show. However, since the new show didn't intend to deal with the explosive allegations, it puts the show in a tough spot. Should these allegations simply be ignored or should they be dealt with somehow?

Ashley Judd also seemed to rock the waters a little by name dropping Snoop Dogg and Diddy and blaming them for creating a "rape culture". But, some of the abuse allegations seem to only involve an older man who kissed her at a pizza place for example, so one has to ask whether Ashley Judd fluffed her stories up a little for sensationalism sake. At any rate, she stole away the spotlight from from mother and half-sister this week and cast an unpredictable shadow on their new show before it even had a chance to premiere.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Big Shakeup On TODAY: Meredith Vieira And Matt Lauer Both Out

Just yesterday, Meredith Vieira, co-host of NBC's TODAY Show announced that she will retire from the show in September. Now, Matt Lauer has announced intentions to do the same, leaving the leading morning news program with a search for two replacements able to carry on the high ratings. In the case of Vieira, her husband is ailing from both cancer and multiple sclerosis. In the case of Matt Lauer, reports are simply that he intends not to renew his contract when it expires on December 31,2012.

There must be some nervousness at NBC these days. When your top stars leave a leading show NBC executives cannot be very happy. This evening, NBC has put out a report claiming the two are not exiting. But this might mean that NBC executives are busy at work making sure the two are happy at the network. Sometimes exit rumors are useful for future contract negotiations.

Matt Lauer has been the lead host on the TODAY Show for 13 years, while Meredith Vieira was a replacement for Katie Couric who left for her ill-fated stint as anchor of the CBS News.

ShamWow Guy In "Sex Slave" Scandal

That troubled ShamWow Guy pitchman, Vince Shlomi, 46, is back in trouble again. You well remember his scandal a few years ago where he got into a fight with a prostitute don't you? Well, now a 23 year personal assistant by the name of Jennifer Kosinski is suing Shlomi claiming that he tried to make her his personal "sex slave" as his relationship with her turned highly unprofessional. Kosinski was supposed to be paid $4,500 plus free board to keep Shlomi from alcohol as well as to do housekeeping and other personal duties. However, a lawsuit filed on behalf of Kosinski claims a pattern of harassment and sexual pressures.

The Smoking Gun ran the arrest photos of the ShamWow guy's last legal run-in with the prostitute that he supposedly beat up in a fight.

Gee, who could have ever guessed that Vince Shlomi might pull more piece of crap behavior once again. Gee, Hell must have froze over big time, right?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Russian Sci Fi Film BLACK LIGHTNING Inspires Universal English Remake

Call it the Russian response to BATMAN or TRANSFORMERS, but Universal Pictures is so inspired by the Russian Sci Fi film about a college student and his flying 1951 Volga entitled MOLNIYA CHERNAYA(BLACK LIGHTNING to you English speakers) that there are plans to produce a U.S. English remake of the recent foreign film. In it's native Russia, MOLNIYA CHERNAYA grossed $20 million dollars, which in terms of that much smaller film market was viewed as a smashing success. Universal is impressed with the story of the young student who acquires an old embarrassing car from his father which proves to have the magical ability to fly. This car transforms him into a crime fighter in this action hero adventure. In Russia, a sequel is already in the works to follow the success of the first film.

Part of the problem with the DVD of the Russian film that is available in the U.S. is that so little of the script is actually subtitled in English, making it a little bit difficult to follow the story beyond the awesome visuals. However, MOLNIYA CHERNAYA is a very impressive foreign action hero film, and beyond just adding English, a complete redo of the film by Universal with fresh computer generated effects would be real cool. At any rate, it appears that BLACK LIGHTNING may be one of the biggest hit Russian exports to the U.S. since since the fall of Communism.

Monday, April 04, 2011

NBC's PLAYBOY Pilot Has A Nudity Clause In Actor Contracts

NBC's pilot about the height of the Playboy clubs in the 1960's reportedly has a nudity clause in the contracts. Immediately the moralistic Parent's Television Council, a pro censorship group was outraged. However, NBC is not likely to feature anything other than some side view breasts in the TV version of the show. Likely, alternate nude scenes will be shot to be used in the DVD versions of the show if it is picked up by NBC. In May, NBC executives will decide whether to add this new show to their Fall schedule.

The bottom line(no pun intended), don't look for NBC or broadcast TV to look like Showtime any time soon. Broadcast TV still has the dreaded FCC and watchdog groups such as the PTC to worry about. And ABC only recently won a favorable court ruling after years of litigation with the FCC over a huge fine for showing a female bare bottom during a shower scene. This show ended in March 2005.

Bare bottoms and breasts, or even more, just aren't likely to be seen on broadcast TV in your future. And whether the PLAYBOY show ever makes it to NBC is up in the air as well. Back in 2003 a FOX show about a Jewish adult entertainment magnate entitled SKIN caused a huge uproar among watchdog censorship groups although the series never was explicit. It was actually a well produced Shakespearian influenced script that seemed lifted directly from "Romeo And Juliet" where the late great actor Ron Silver was cast as Arthur Goldman and a prosecutor were at odds with each other, while their children were in love. It was a very promising series that just never clicked well with audiences and was quickly canceled after airing only three episodes on FOX and all produced episodes on SOAPnet.