Sarah Palin's Media Expectations

Tuesday, 07 Jul 2009 07:42 PM

By James Hirsen

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Sarah Palin’s Media Expectations
2. Left Coast Shocker: Johnny Depp to Give Gun Lessons
3. Obama’s Celebrity Schmooze and News
4. Michael Jackson’s Death Investigation Takes Tragic Turn
5. Jackson, Lennon and Elvis

 

1. Sarah Palin’s Media Expectations

It was in St. Paul, Minn., that millions of Americans first got the chance to see Sarah Palin, the vice presidential pick of 2008 GOP presidential candidate, John McCain.

Palin’s speech was so electric even the mainstream media had to admit it.

NBC’s Tom Brokaw called her national speaking debut “a very auspicious” one. And CBS’s Jeff Greenfield referred to her tone as the “perfect populist pitch.”

The speech left folks with more than just a home run impression. According to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, “It may have been a grand slam.”

Blitzer and CNN's Anderson Cooper and Fox's Chris Wallace all used the identical phrase to describe the Palin performance. “A star is born,” they all said.

It seems like such a long time ago.

A fierce media onslaught, late night offensive and dirt-digging campaign would dog the Alaskan governor from that dazzling moment on, thanks to rabid liberal activism and even some uppity conservative elitism.

Palin recently announced that she, her family and her beloved state of Alaska had frankly had their fill of it all, and she was shifting to another arena in which she could better serve.

Now that venues outside of Alaska are more freely hers to go after, TV executives are gearing up to make Palin some impressive offers.

Her communication ability, particularly her capacity to enthrall the TV viewer, are definitely making the suits take notice. Likewise for her campaign appearances and guest spot on “Saturday Night Live.”

Although both Dem and GOP strategists are split on how Palin’s resignation is going to affect a potential White House run, the degree of media coverage she has garnered proves her star power is bigger than ever. And in TV terms that could translate into some hefty ratings.

Last fall, according to the Hollywood Reporter, a producer-packager held internal staff meetings about how to best capitalize on Palin's appeal, and a daytime talk show seemed like a well-suited vehicle.

But cable news would seem to be the better place for Palin to make the transition while still keeping her political aspirations alive.

Is she controversial? You betcha.

But so are the personalities who rank the highest on cable news programs and talk radio shows.

Similar to the path that former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee has taken, Palin could move into a media position with a lucrative salary and still continue with her political pursuits. To do so, however, she would have to carefully choose the television spot and at the same time keep one eye on elevating her image and maintaining her dignity.

The cable TV execs are always looking for new personalities with the potential to score big in the highly competitive ratings war.

Palin's next career move could end up providing her with a platform so huge and megaphone so large she’ll be able to advance conservative themes from the Left Coast to the East.

Then the libs will really have something to worry about.


2. Left Coast Shocker: Johnny Depp to Give Gun Lesssons

Johnny Depp, star of “Public Enemies,” plans on giving his children some unique instruction by Hollywood standards.

The actor was raised in Kentucky and would like to teach 10-year-old Vanessa Paradis-Lily-Rose and 7-year-old Jack how to shoot various types of guns, just as he was once taught.

“We would just go out and line up a bunch of cans and shoot with rifles, handguns and at times, submachine guns,” Depp told the U.K. Daily Star.

Perhaps feeling a bit defensive about the subject, the actor explained that when he was young “it was a controlled atmosphere, we weren't shooting at humans - we were shooting at cans and bottles mostly.”

In a statement that sounded like the actor might really be a Second Amendment believer, which would be odd for a Tinseltowner, Depp said, “I will most certainly take my kids out for target practice.”

Depp's name may be struck off the A-list for his non-PC comments. Well, except for maybe a Ted Nugent barbecue.


3. Obama’s Celebrity Schmooze and News

President Obama may not have much in the way of senatorial experience, but when it comes to celebrity schmoozing he’s getting to be an old hand.

Rather than commenting on North Korean missile threats, Iranian protests or government takeovers, the president recently shared his thoughts on some celebrity stuff.

Obama was actually asked to compare four-time NBA champ Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers with six-time champ Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls, and his response was unequivocal.

“Oh, Michael,” the president told the Associated Press.

“I mean, Kobe's terrific. Don't get me wrong,” he said. “But I haven't seen anybody match up with Michael.”

Obama also let it be known that he’s a longtime fan of the late Michael Jackson and mused aloud about the pop singer's place in history.

“I grew up on his music - still have all his stuff on my iPod,” he said, adding that Jackson “will go down in history as one of our greatest entertainers.”

“I think that his brilliance as a performer also was paired with a tragic and, in many ways, sad personal life,” he said.

“I'm glad to see that he is being remembered primarily for the great joy that he brought to a lot of people through his extraordinary gifts as an entertainer,” he added.

If the president is giving his opinion on a pop singer, why not a retired general and former secretary of state?

The media also sought out Colin Powell for his recommendations on how Jackson ought to be remembered.

“He's not quite of my generation but his art spanned three generations and is worthy of all the tribute that he is receiving for his art,” Powell told CNN.

“Yes, there were some challenges in his life,” Powell explained. “Yes, there was a great deal of controversy about him. But he's now passed on. Let's celebrate his art.”

Who will the media go to next for Hollywood commentary? Zbigniew Brzezinski?



4. Michael Jackson’s Death Investigation Takes Tragic Turn

Recent reports indicate that Michael Jackson may have been engaged in a far more self-destructive lifestyle than even his associates suspected.

A powerful and potentially deadly sedative was found in Jackson’s home; one that’s not normally prescribed for private use.

Diprivan, also known as Propofol, is an anesthetic widely used in operating rooms to induce unconsciousness. It is typically administered intravenously by an anesthesiologist and is generally not used outside of an ICU or operating room setting.

However, police officers found the drug in the pop singer's home. FDA guidelines were violated with the presence of the drugs in the residence.

When Diprivan is used along with another painkiller or sedative, it can lead to cardiac arrest, which is how Jackson appears to have died.

Diprivan is not something typically stocked at a neighborhood pharmacy.

One possibility is that it came from a hospital pharmacy or surgery center. It is known to be a highly dangerous substance, which is only used when vital signs can be monitored and resuscitation equipment is available.

Nurse Cherilyn Lee said that prior to his death Jackson had pleaded for Diprivan because of the stress he was experiencing due to his upcoming concert tour demands. Lee refused his request.

Meanwhile investigators are looking into several doctors who prescribed drugs to Jackson.

Allegations that Jackson had been abusing other prescription drugs are being given more credence because of a recent report by TMZ.

Jackson had reportedly purchased prescription drugs under pseudonyms, two of them allegedly being Omar Arnold and Jack London.

The singer also purportedly had prescriptions issued under his bodyguard's and office manager's names.

The investigation has now become a federal case with the Drug Enforcement Administration assisting the Los Angeles Police Department in the probe.


5. Jackson, Lennon and Elvis

Media coverage of the death of Michael Jackson reached a fever pitch with Tuesday's memorial service in Los Angeles.

Fans from all over the world registered for the chance to receive tickets to attend the event, although only 11,000 people were actually allowed into the Staples Center.

All three networks broadcast live coverage of the service with their primetime attendant anchors present at the arena.

The cable news channels featured wall-to-wall coverage of the event, too.

As we have all witnessed, numerous stories of significance involving foreign policy and domestic legislation have been shunted aside in favor of Jackson interviews, retrospectives and specials. This is part and parcel of what our celebrity loving country has come to expect.

Regrettably, the tragic scenario has played out a number of times before. A music icon dies suddenly and unexpectedly, and under a mysterious set of circumstances. Along with Jackson, two other legendary stars come to mind, and their passing had the same dramatic effect on the public and the culture.

It was a chilly December day when John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono finished a routine recording session. They had no idea how deep a darkness would soon fall.

The world at the time was consumed with things other than a former Beatle’s solo career. A new leader, Ronald Reagan, had just been elected President of the United States, with a full slate of issues ahead of him that included a faltering economy and enemies abroad.

As John and Yoko returned to their Manhattan apartment at the Dakota, a disturbed fan, Mark David Chapman, sent four hollow point bullets racing Lennon’s way. Police took the legendary musician to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The media behaved quite differently the day the Lennon music died. The New Media was not yet in force. Cable news programming was still in formation. Much of the public heard the word of Lennon's death from Howard Cosell during a broadcast of “Monday Night Football.”

Still, news of the former Beatle’s passing spread fast. It was the lead story on all of the major networks and above the fold in newspapers around the world.

As the sad news traveled, crowds gathered outside the Dakota. Much like the throngs who mourned for Jackson in New York, London and L.A., Lennon fans sang songs and recited lyrics in his honor. Yoko Ono asked the mourners to return the next Sunday for a memorial for John. That Sunday, Central Park was overrun with over 100,000 people. A similar gathering took place in John's hometown of Liverpool with 30,000 people in attendance.

Many radio stations played Lennon music exclusively for several days in a row.

Although John’s death was similar to Michael’s in terms of public reaction, media coverage and cultural impact, another pop music icon passed on under much more eerily parallel circumstances.

His career was fading. His performances had fallen far below expectations with the resultant criticism from the entertainment press. He appeared unhealthy, but he and his handlers decided it was time for a summer comeback tour.

Just like in Jackson’s case, the tour never happened. In August of 1977, Elvis Presley was found dead on the floor of his Graceland home by his fiancee, Ginger Alden.

His death was the lead story on all of the broadcast networks except for CBS, which made it second to a Panama Canal story, possibly because Walter Cronkite was away on vacation.

For years insiders at the CBS newsroom were said to have repeated the words “remember Elvis,” because the network felt as if it had been remiss in its coverage of the star.

The day the Elvis music died dominated the media cycle for weeks on end. Much like the death of Jackson, the cause of Elvis’s death would remain a mystery and consume massive amounts of media airtime.

Early reporting indicated that Presley died from a cardiac arrhythmia, which fit with the excess weight he was carrying. But an autopsy of the legendary singer showed large quantities of a host of drugs including Morphine, Demerol, Valium, Codeine and Quaaludes, some of which were also found in Jackson's home.

The passing of Jackson, Lennon and Elvis invites the kind of speculation that, like their iconic images, goes on forever.

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