This morning, long before CL staffers exited their cryogenic chambers, 790 The Zone's Mayhem in the AM aired a skit that apparently mocked former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason. I say "apparently" because, well, I'm not just an a.m. (or AM) sports radio fellow and have yet to find an online version of the segment.
The former NFL player is living with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS. The terminal illness, which is commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, is baffling and debilitating. They poked fun at a Sports Illustrated column by Gleason that was published this morning - and, it should be noted, that was reportedly written using his eyes.
Sports fans weren't entertained. Neither was Rick Mack, senior vice president and general manager of 790 The Zone. He said in a statement that the staffers involved have been "suspended indefinitely":
"We deeply regret the comments made by Mayhem In The AM this morning on 790 The Zone regarding former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason. 790 The Zone, Lincoln Financial Media, our sponsors and partners in no way endorse or support the unfortunate and offensive commentary concerning Mr. Gleason this morning. The members of the show involved with this incident have been suspended indefinitely pending further management review of their actions."
The station also apologized on the air. Nick Cellini, one of the show's hosts, has apologized:
My apologies to everyone. It was a stupid attempt at humor that backfired. Emphasis on stupid.
- Nick Cellini (@NickCellini) June 17, 2013
UPDATE, 11:16 p.m. A Cellini spokeswoman passes along an extended apology:
"I deeply regret the ill attempt at humor from this morning's show. I have personally apologized to Steve Gleason and his wife. The comments were insensitive and offensive and do not represent my personal views regarding the severity of the disease. I also apologize to the fans of the New Orleans Saints, the NFL organization and the families who have struggled with ALS and am profoundly sorry for the hurt I have caused; that was not the intent. I vow to work with Team Gleason in the fight against ALS and support the cause in any way I can."
Regardless, the Internet is not happy. And it doesn't look like the collective piling on by the angry fans is going to stop any time soon. We'll see how it ends.
The AJC's Rodney Ho reports Cellini and co-hosts Steve "Steak" Shapiro and Chris Dimino have been sacked.
Atlanta's NBC affiliate station posted the opening earlier today on its website. Current "Commuter Dude" John Gerard plans to move into another position in the marketing department. The station needs someone new to cover one of Atlanta's most coveted beats.
They write about the position:
Commuter Dude is a super hero for Atlanta Commuters. He's fixed roads, traffic signals, parking meters and even helped change laws!
Now we're searching for the next Commuter Dude or Dudette!
(Resident Dude John Gerard is staying on with 11Alive, but moving into a different role in our marketing department).
11Alive's commitment to solving traffic issues is now stronger than ever! And because of Commuter Dude's popularity, we want to let you decide who will be next to wear the neon safety vest!
The first step is a search for candidates. If you're interested in becoming Atlanta's Traffic Super Hero, tell us why YOU are the right person in a 30 second video.
Be creative and have fun! But please don't do anything foolish. Remember, safety is always Commuter Dude's top priority.
Sounds like fun, right? Here's the official job description from Gannett, 11 Alive's parent company. You'll need video skills, creativity, and a sense of humor (don't be boring). Oh, and five years of prior hard-hitting journalism experience. No one said this would be a walk in the park.
Which has pretty much come to be defined in this town by reality TV and the proliferation of such shows filmed in Atlanta. The groundwork steadily being laid since NeNe Leakes was anything but the new normal culminated two nights ago with the announcement of Atlanta's first annual UnScripted Reality Awards show.
The Southern drama is set in Savannah and the partriarch of the well-to-do family is portrayed by Georgia native John Schneider. If you're old enough, you might remember the "Smallville" actor in his seminal role as Bo from "The Dukes of Hazzard." 'Cept he's taken his hazardous lifestyle to antebellum lows this go-round. In Tyler Perry's scripted world, Bo Duke is having a pay-to-play affair with his black maid's estranged daughter, played by the sensuous Tika Sumpter.
Peep the trailer, and Tyler in a tux, below:
It's not a question likely to get much local media play, especially in the wake of yet another Atlanta-based journalist being arrested for driving under the influence. But maybe it should.
In the early hours of Sunday morning, 11Alive traffic reporter and Atlanta Hawks sideline reporter Elle Duncan was arrested on Piedmont Road after a Georgia State Patrol officer witnessed her silver Mercedes "weaving in and out of traffic in a reckless manner."
According to Rodney Ho of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Duncan worked an Atlanta Hawks' playoff game earlier that Saturday night and partied at the Buckhead Bottle & Bistro. She blew a .099, according to the police report, which was above the legal limit of 0.08. She's since issued a public statement claiming "full responsibility" for her actions. Meanwhile, her mugshot makes its way around the blogs.
Of course, this comes in the wake of longtime news anchor Amanda Davis' retirement announcement last week on Fox 5. After 26 years, it was her first - and last - appearance on the network since her DUI arrest last fall following a wrong-way accident on Piedmont Ave. Her trial is pending. On the national level, broadcasting news legend Sam Donaldson faces a similar fate as his DUI trial is set to begin in June.
In 2009, Duncan, a former on-air personality at Atlanta radio station V103, filled the slot of that station's former midday host, Porsche Foxx, who'd waged her own public battle with alcohol and drug usage dating back to a 2004 DUI arrest and subsequent termination. She was terminated from V103 for the second time in 2008 for unspecified reasons.
Boy Scout uniforms are so gay. Which is why the homophobia erupting over the supposed threat of gay scout leaders is pretty nonsensical to me.
Just look at the above footage from earlier this week and ask yourself who looks like the least qualified role model for young boys of America - Don Lemon, who comes out (again) as both a gay man and a former Boy Scout; the hetero dude and former Boy Scout who recalls how his lesbian mother was banned from participating in scouting with her son; or the fully grown Scout master vehemently expressing his opposition to gay scout leaders while wearing a kerchief around his neck? A flippin' kerchief.
I, too, was a Cub Scout for many years, until about the 5th grade when girls in my class started informing us that our uniforms made us less than desirable. I never learned how to tie a slip square knot or make fire from flint stone, but I did learn how to freehand a picture of the old Georgia state flag. When I took it home to show it off to my mother, who wasn't from Georgia, she swore up and down that it was the Confederate rebel flag. It took me weeks to convince her that my white scout master wasn't some covert racist who wanted to take us camping so he could lynch us with all that good rope he had lying around.
I'm not sure what that has to do with the Boy Scout's current proposal to continue banning gay scout leaders while allowing gay boys as scouts. But maybe there's a lesson about tolerance and compassion buried in there somewhere - my tolerance for my mom's irrational fears and the compassion I developed for a scout leader who took pride in things that seemingly posed a threat to my own family's values, perhaps. But naw, all that pales in comparison to the biggest thing I gained from my time in the Scouts: my impeccable fashion sense.
It's been a few weeks since we checked in on Rare, Cox Media Group's "anti-propaganda" website that will cater to conservatives (and which will have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the lib'rul AJC, no way, no how).
Since we first reported the website's name, Cox, the parent company of the AJC, WSB-TV, and other media outlets throughout the country, has filled the top two editorial slots at Rare. Brett Decker, formerly of the Washington Times and Wall Street Journal, will edit and lead the site from Washington, D.C. (The press release announcing his job included nods of approval from mustachioed angryman John Bolton and - no shit - Ted Nugent.) Tabitha Hale, a commentator the press release trumpets as one of Business Insider's "50 hottest people in online politics," will serve as managing editor.
The site's rollout will take place on April 15, of course. In the release, Decker said Rare will be a "refreshing, positive alternative taking on subjects others avoid like the plague." Judging from the video teaser released on April Fools Day, which we've embedded above, expect fascinating takes on those issues from Herman Cain, Erick Erickson, and Neal Boortz's puckish little brother "Neil." And, we're sure, other voices eager to show America that "red is the new center," indeed.
While Zucker heralded Tapper's debut as "a really important day in the history of the bureau and the start of something very exciting and very fresh," most of the media hubbub since then has revolved around the anchors and analysts who are on the outs at CNN - specifically, the black ones - Soledad O'Brien and Roland Martin.
Indeed, it's been another interesting week or two in race and media - from the racially homogeneous game of musical chairs playing out at CNN and MSNBC to the polarized response to Robert Huber's Philadelphia magazine cover story, "Being White in Philly."
In case you haven't read it, Huber's piece is essentially a privileged white guy's earnest but failed attempt at bridging the racial gap in a city equally divided by segregation and gentrification. Instead of interviewing people across racial lines, he sticks to his own kind by talking to white "urban pioneers" and longtime white residents about the blacks. Huber's piece has kicked off a conversation, all right. The city's black mayor, Michael Nutter, who called the article "a pathetic, uninformed essay" in a four-page letter, has asked the Philadelphia Human Rights Commission to rebuke the writer and the magazine in addition to investigating some of the "sensitive racial issues" explored in the piece.
The latest fallout, which includes a call to boycott the mag's advertisers, occurred at a Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists meeting that Huber and Philadelphia editor Tom McGrath attended this week. At it, members of the PABJ questioned the magazine's total lack of racial diversity among its editorial staff - some of whom have criticized the story as racist, faulty journalism. The internal torment doesn't stop there; a writer at the weekly and all-white Philadelphia City Paper even wondered, "Why Is The Journalism Industry So White?"
The New York-based cable conglomerate, which also owns VH1, Comedy Central, BET and other networks, plans to step up its television production here by making Atlanta a hub, according to The Atlanta Business Chronicle [subscription required].
In recent years, BET has produced multiple shows in town ("The Game," "Reed Between the Lines," "Let's Stay Together"), and between BET and VH1, several Viacom reality shows are based in Atlanta, including "Tiny & Toya," multiple "Keisha Cole: The Way It Is" spin-offs, and "T.I.'s Family Hustle," which recently got picked up for a third season by VH1. Then there's Bravo's local "Real Housewives of Atlanta" franchise. But when it comes to scripted programming, AMC's "The Walking Dead" remains the big daddy of locally produced shows.
The increase in local film and TV production is mostly the result of Georgia's entertainment tax incentive, which started in 2008, and offers up to a 30 percent tax break for eligible productions. In the last fiscal year,
the Chronicle reports, 138 films/TV shows 333 feature films, television movies and series, commercials, and music videos were produced in-state with a total budget of more than $860 $879 million, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Those productions generated $3.1 billion in economic impact for the state - a 29 percent increase over fiscal year 2011. It's led to booming business for several studios, from Tyler Perry Studios in southwest Atlanta to Senoia, Ga.'s Raleigh Studios, where "The Walking Dead" is filmed.
They're interesting stories, and part of a multi-year series of articles about metro Atlanta property taxes that have scrutinized Ferdinand. The pieces serve a public good while also making homeowners grit their teeth with anger. Anti-Fulton state lawmakers will probably pick up the articles and use them as ammunition in their ongoing effort to crack down on the county. That includes legislation making the tax commissioner an appointed, not elected position.
That legislation and the recent AJC stories apparently didn't sit well with Ferdinand. This morning, CL was cc'ed on an email from the tax commissioner. Attached were scanned copies of letters to state Sen. Judson Hill, R-Marietta, and state Rep. Lynne Riley, R-Johns Creek, who chair the Fulton County legislative delegation under the Gold Dome.
In the letters (which we've embedded after the jump), Ferdinand says discussions about his salary - he reportedly made nearly $350,000 in 2011, making him Georgia's highest-paid elected official - have devolved into attacks on his character, which he claims is a "clear indication that this campaign for 'change and reform' solely directed at my office is more of a personal agenda, rather than a public one." He then claims that some of the actions by the AJC and state lawmakers are "simply retaliatory."
He goes on to say that the AJC failed to disclose in its articles that the commissioner's office has placed several liens in past years on properties owned by Cox Enterprises, the paper's parent company, and which were transferred to Vesta Holdings. Among those properties, Ferdinand says, was a "luxury hanger" at Fulton County Airport-Brown Field. He also notes that Cox Enterprises is the beneficiary of development authority exemptions, "a privilege usually reserved for new companies coming into the county, a practice now being challenged." Ferdinand says the exemptions helped Cox save more than $2 million in taxes. (
I'm curious why Ferdinand didn't lob these accusations in an op-ed that appeared in the AJC a few days ago. We asked and will update if we hear word. UPDATE, 10:54 p.m. Ferdinand tells me he hadn't seen the liens at the time.)
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