Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Most readers thought this was the year the New York Jets would capture the division. Some even thought the Buffalo Bills had a shot. Well, we've seen how that turned out.
Now it's time to take it a step further. Here is another prediction you can take to the bank: The Patriots (11-3) will represent the AFC in Super Bowl XLVI.
Sorry Steelers, Ravens, Texans, Broncos and Jets fans. This is the year New England runs through the AFC playoffs.
Reason No. 1: Tom Brady
When it comes to quarterbacking in the AFC, there's Brady and there's everyone else. Brady is the biggest trump card New England has. No team in the conference can match it.
Here are potential quarterbacks Brady could face in the playoffs: T.J. Yates, Tim Tebow, Mark Sanchez, Joe Flacco and an injured and gimpy Ben Roethlisberger.
Brady is 3-0 against Sanchez and Tebow this season by a combined score of 108-60. We've already seen how those scenarios play out. Those three games against the Jets and Broncos weren't close.
Houston's Yates is a rookie fifth-round draft pick and former third-string quarterback. Do you think Yates can out-duel Brady in Yates' first postseason? Flacco of Baltimore has been inconsistent this year and is notorious for not playing well in playoff games.
The Steelers' Roethlisberger is Brady's biggest competition at quarterback. Pittsburgh is the only AFC playoff team to beat New England this season. But Roethlisberger isn't the same player after suffering a high-ankle sprain. He had three interceptions and a fumble in Monday's loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Roethlisberger at 50 percent cannot beat Brady clicking on all cylinders. High-ankle sprains are serious injuries that take at least a month (if not more) to heal. It could be even longer for Roethlisberger if he continues to play on it leading up to the postseason.
The two playoff quarterbacks with the best chance of out-dueling Brady in the playoffs are Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints and Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers. But both are in the NFC and have to deal with each other first. New England will only have to worry about one of those quarterbacks once the Patriots get to Indianapolis.
Reason No. 2: Home-field advantage
The road to the Super Bowl most likely goes through Gillette Stadium. All the Patriots have to do is beat a pair of AFC East bottom-feeders -- the Miami Dolphins (5-9) and the Bills (5-9) -- at home the next two weeks.
That will be a huge advantage for the Patriots in the playoffs. New England is 5-1 at home this season and 22-1 in its last 23 games at Gillette Stadium. (The Patriots did drop of pair of playoff games, but we will get to that later.)
With two home games to finish the regular season and probably home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, the Patriots won't play on the road until they reach the Super Bowl. At that point, it will be a neutral site against the best team from the NFC.
Teams like the Jets (2-5) and Ravens (3-4) have looked awful on the road this year. The Steelers (4-3) have been slightly above average away from Heinz Field. That could come into play if those teams travel to New England in January.
Also, for all the criticism New England's defense has received, the group plays its best football at home. New England is allowing just 18.2 points per game at Gillette Stadium, versus 23.5 points per game on the road. The Patriots' offense will score plenty of points. Therefore, New England will be very tough to beat if its defense maintains its home scoring average in the postseason.
Reason No. 3: Patriots are hottest team in the AFC
Remember the Packers last year? They got hot toward the end of the season and rode the wave all the way to the Super Bowl.
This year's New England team is even hotter than the Packers were in 2010. The Patriots have won six in a row and most likely will enter the playoffs on an eight-game winning streak.
Momentum means a lot this time of year. The Patriots have it. No other team in the AFC can make that claim. The Ravens, Steelers, Texans, Broncos and Jets are all coming off losses. Behind the Patriots, the hottest team in the AFC is the San Diego Chargers (7-7), who have won three in a row but may not make the playoffs.
Overall, the AFC is a flawed conference this year. The Steelers have a horrid offensive line and a gimpy quarterback playing on one leg. The Ravens are an enigma on the road. The Texans are trying to win playoff games with a rookie at quarterback. And the Jets and Broncos don't have enough offensive firepower and simply aren't good enough to make a title run.
There are no complete teams in the AFC and that leaves it wide open for a hot team with home-field advantage like the Patriots to advance to the Super Bowl.
Reason No. 4: Motivation not to be one-and-done
As hard as it is to believe, the Patriots haven't won a playoff game since the 2007 season. That will change this year when a focused and motivated New England team takes the field in January.
Brady and coach Bill Belichick will not allow the Patriots to be one-and-done for the third year in a row. The stakes are too high.
Their legacies are on the line. The Hall of Fame pair do not want to be remembered for losing early-round playoff games in the second half of their Patriot careers as much as their three Super Bowls in the first half. It's starting to get to that point, especially if the Patriots suffer another early exit this season.
It's been four years since New England last experienced playoff success. That's an eternity for Brady and Belichick, who are accustomed to winning big games. Time also is running out for Brady to make another Super Bowl run. He's 34 and only has a few elite years left. The Patriots will not squander this opportunity.
Expect to see Brady versus Brees or Brady versus Rodgers in Super Bowl XLVI.
On March 21, though, the Raps are taking things a bit further. In that home game against the Chicago Bulls, the Raptors will be sporting camouflage uniforms as a way to tip their hat as they support the Canadian military. Nice gesture, but, well … look:
(Cue my favorite camouflage joke: "I can't see Andrea Bargnani! Where'd he go?")
Again, appropriate gesture, but these threads trend toward the uglier side of things. The Remembrance Day poppies are classy and dignified, whereas these uniforms are a bit over the top.
Joseph Casciaro of Raptor Blog takes things a bit further, calling the uniforms "sick," and ending his post with this take:
On Remembrance Day, you can wear a poppy, donate to various charities and legions, and do countless other things to show your support. But I'd bet that if you walked around in head-to-toe camouflage, it would be seen as unnecessary, and in fact, might even be seen as making a mockery of the whole day.
To me, this is the same thing, you don't have to parade your team around in camouflage to prove that you care about the armed forces. Make no mistake, these uniforms will enhance the Raptors' reputation as league laughing stock in some circles more than they will do any good for our troops and veterans.
We'd like them a lot more if news spilled out that the Raptors were planning on donating ALL proceeds made from the jerseys to charities in support of Canadian military veterans. With three months to go before the game against the Bulls, we'll eagerly await that follow-up.
Friday, December 16, 2011
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Monday, December 5, 2011
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Friday, November 25, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
What's in a name? A sweet trip to an NFL game if you happen to share the same handle as a professional athlete.
The starter for the Bills wanted to switch his Twitter name from @kirkmorrison55 to @kirkmorrison because he had gone from the Jacksonville Jaguars to his new team and changed jersey numbers from 55 to 58. The University of Regina student had ownership of the Twitter handle.
The NFL's Morrison worked out a sweetheart deal for the younger version. The Canadian Kirk handed over his Twitter handle in return for a fully paid trip for two and sideline passes to a Bills home game of his choosing.
Canada Kirk picked Sunday's game against the New York Jets and decided to take his brother Kent to the Nickel City. NFL Morrison spared no expense, flying the brothers to Toronto, where they stepped into a town car ordered by the Bills for the short drive to Buffalo. They got into town early enough Saturday to catch a Sabres game before heading over to the Bills game.
Early on Saturday, the Kirk Morrisons met face to face for the first time at the Bills team hotel.
"He is such a great guy," said fan Kirk of player Kirk to the Regina Leader-Post. "He was super nice and friendly with us and happy to see us."
No. 58 told the AP last week that he was "pumped up" about meeting his namesake. The NFL player moonlights as a nationally syndicated sports talk host on the popular weekend lineup at Fox Sports Radio.
Buffalo fans heard about the meeting and invited the Canadian Morrison, via Twitter, to special tailgate parties in the parking lot before the game. He got to hang with Bills legend Jim Kelly at his tailgate party, where the NFL legend was "grilling up burgers."
After the parking lot party, the Morrison brothers had field passes for pre-game festivities. They strolled out of the tunnel with Bills players and met former running back Thurman Thomas.
When the game started, Canada Kirk sat in the stands with the NFL's Morrison's mother and watched the Jets beat the Bills, 27-11.
The Morrisons (player and student) then rubbed shoulders at a Bills post-game event in a private suite at Ralph Wilson Stadium before Kirk Morrison returned to the mundane routine of college life in Saskatchewan.
Kirk Morrison the college student can now be found on his new Twitter handle @KirkMorrison91 (the year he was born).
He's probably now hoping for another trade.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
The pictures in question, however? Johansson definitely doesn’t see anything wrong with those. In an interview with Vanity Fair, which she graces the cover of for their December issue, the actress said succinctly of the photos, “I know my best angles.”
She went on to say that the pictures had a specific intended audience of one, “They were sent to my husband (ex Ryan Reynolds),” adding, “There’s nothing wrong with that.” Johansson defended her photos again, telling VF, “It’s not like I was shooting a porno. Although there’s nothing wrong with that either.”
Johansson also discusses her friendship with Woody Allen, her feelings on President Barack Obama and her divorce from Reynolds (“I had a very public separation. It was difficult. I felt very uncomfortable”), but I’m assuming most of you blacked out around the part where she said “there’s nothing wrong with [porno].”
J.K. Rowling is in a dishy mood. Or at least she was last year when Harry Potter‘s creator sat down with the character’s big screen portrayer Daniel Radcliffe for a conversation filmed for the Blu-ray edition of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2, on sale next week. By now you’ve probably heard about one provocative excerpt — how Rowling considered killing Harry’s red-headed best bud Ron Weasley while writing the seven novel series. The disclosure comes after Radcliffe asks if the author considered killing any of the big three: Harry, Hermione, and Ron. “Funnily enough, I planned from the start none of them would die,” Rowling says. “Then, midway through [writing the series] — which I think was a reflection of the fact that I was not in a very happy place – I started thinking about polishing one of them off. Out of sheer spite!”
But there’s more.
Rowling reveals that from the start, she always knew that the final chapters of the last novel would include these beats: That Harry would walk willingly to his death; that he would be joined by the spirits of his parents and other loved ones during that death march; and that Hagrid would carry Harry’s (apparently) lifeless body out of The Forbidden Forest. Rowling tells Radcliffe that the image of Hagrid cradling “dead” Harry — a bookend to the beginning of the series, when Hagrid brought infant Harry to the Dursleys – stuck with her the entire time she wrote the books and she never let it go. If she had, Rowling says Hagrid would have been a “natural” target for elimination. “That image kept him safe,” she says.
Rowling also reveals that in her original “sketch” (her word) of the series climax, one of the most beloved characters in the Potter canon survived: Remus Lupin — tragic werewolf, former Defense Against The Dark Arts professor, and husband to the metamorphmagus and auror, Nymphadora Tonks. (Gotta love the wordplay and names.) The seventh book tells us that before their deaths during the Battle of Hogwarts, Lupin and Tonks had a child. On the DVD, Rowling shares with Radcliffe that when she created Lupin’s character, she planned for him to survive the finale. While the author has said as much in other interviews, here, she elaborates, explaining that she changed her mind when she realized that her last Harry Potter story was really about war, and that “one of the most horrifying things about war is how it leaves children fatherless and motherless.” The most powerful way she could dramatize that idea, she says, was to kill a set of parents that were dear to readers. “I had no intention of killing [Lupin],” says Rowling. “But then it dawned on me he had to die.”
There’s much more to the interview, including the Professor McGonagall backstory that never made it into the books (a tragic romance with a Muggle; a vow of celibacy), and a moment where Radcliffe busts Rowling’s chops for making the business with the wands so complex in the last book… but we won’t spoil everything.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
"I didn't intend anything to hurt the reputation of anyone on the New England Patriots or on behalf of Robert Kraft," said Gronkowski. "That's all, just a simple picture, that's all. From here on out, I'm just here to talk about the Pittsburgh Steelers and the big game this weekend."
Adult film star BiBi Jones posted photos of herself in Gronkowski's jersey standing with the tight end, who is shirtless.
She appeared on 98.5 the Sports Hub on Monday and said that the two of them share a mutual friend who played football with him at Arizona. Gronkowski was in Arizona at the time.
"I went into the room to take a picture with him and he said, 'Put on my jersey,'" Jones said to the radio station. "I asked him, 'Can I put these on my Twitter?' He was cool with it because I have more Twitter followers than him and he wanted me to get him more Twitter followers."
Jones added that nothing happened between the two of them, adding: "I wish something happened, but nothing happened."
Pressed on the matter Wednesday, Gronkowski tried to steer the conversation toward the Steelers. Asked if he had any regrets about the incident, Gronkowski reiterated his sentiment on the matter.
"[I was] not intending to hurt anyone or ruin the reputation of the New England Patriots in any way," he said. "[It's a] good organization here. ... I can't wait to get out to practice and focus on the Pittsburgh Steelers. That's all I'm worried about. It's all I care about."
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was actually relieved when he heard about the controversy.
"I'm just glad I'm no longer the one that people are making fun of on my team on a daily basis," Brady said Tuesday on WEEI-AM. "Gronk has definitely pulled into the lead there."
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Harry Potter said his last goodbye this summer, with the release of the franchise’s final chapter, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2, and Warner Bros. seems determined to prove they really meant it. As of Dec. 29, no more Harry Potter theatrical film titles (including Harry Potter: The Complete 8-Film Collection) will be shipped to stores, initiating a profitable home entertainment model not unlike the one at Disney, which periodically re-releases its classics for home purchase. (Warner Bros.’ moratorium on Potter will not include digital — Electronic Sell-Through and VOD — or games.)
Since Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was released in 2001, the Harry Potter franchise has grossed more than $12.1 billion for Warner Bros. Entertainment — $5.1 billion of which came from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. It’s fair to say that figure will grow even larger this holiday season, as children and young adults who grew up with the books and movies feel the pressure to snap up the Complete 8-Film Collection — at around $60 — while they still can.
Does Dancing with the Stars belong to Maksim Chmerkovskiy?
That seemed to be the pro’s perspective on Monday after he and Judge Len Goodman butted heads over the quality of his rumba with Hope Solo. (It earned a mere 20 out of 30). After Goodman called it their “worst dance of the season,” Chmerkovskiy lost his cool: First he suggested that “maybe it’s time” for Goodman to leave the business after the elder judge talked about being in it for 50 years, and then the hot pro got downright indignant when Carrie Ann Inaba chided him for being disrespectful. (Video embedded below.)
“With all due respect, this is my show,” Chmerkovskiy said to Brooke Charvet in the skybox. “I helped make it what it is. I love every aspect of it. I love every professional that has ever been here, and I love every celebrity that puts effort into it every week. Having said that, I’m a little tired that we are being judged, some on effort and some, being picked on (for) our heel leads.” (Among other things, Goodman also took issue with Solo’s choice of footwear).
After the show, Chermerkovskiy had yet to cool off. “It just kind of came to the point where I kind of had enough,” he told reporters. “It’s like give us a bad score, don’t call us out. Say it wasn’t my cup of tea…we’ll take the criticism. Don’t tell me it was your worst dance of the season because you’re an idiot, you know it’s not true. I’ve also danced for 27 years and I’ve won more titles than Len ever even participated in. That’s not to disrespect his opinion because we’ve all been here for 13 seasons. I’m just not going to sit back and let my partner get disrespected.”
Dancing With the Stars: Get the latest news, photos, and more
As for that comment about DWTS being “his” show, Chmerkovskiy first tried to deny saying it before explaining, “I feel like it’s my show and together with other pros I’ve dedicated six years of my life to this show and I’ve helped make it what it is. But I never took it away from everybody else who participated.”
At least one of his fellow pros supported his outburst. Lacey Schwimmer – who was upset with Judge Bruno Tonioli for calling a tuxedo-clad Chaz Bono a “cute little penguin” on Monday — said she’d like to occasionally talk back to the judges but just doesn’t have the guts. “Regardless of what Maks said or if he hurt people’s feelings, he had the courage to stand up for him and his partner and I think that is amazing,” she said. “A lot of us wish we would say stuff, but we never do. We’re afraid of it.”
As for Tonioli’s comment about her partner, “It’s hard to hear your friend bullied by three people we are supposed to respect and called names like animals. It’s unnecessary, it’s rude. I feel embarrassed to be standing there when he doesn’t deserve to be treated like that. I actually lost it backstage. I was crying because I was so hurt. It’s awful.”
Not everybody took the row between Chmerkovskiy and Goodman so seriously. “I have so much to say, but I’m not going to say anything,” said Pro Derek Hough. “As a seasoned professional, you should know not to do that, I think. There’s sort of an amount of self control…”
As for Chmerkovksiy saying it was “his” show, Hough quipped, “We’ve all had a laugh about that.”
Monday, October 24, 2011
Friday, October 21, 2011
"Last name, Ever, first name, Greatest." If Drake didn't have enought street cred for playing Jimmy on "Degrassi" for six years, then we would have thought he was being cocky. But how can we hate on Jimmy? Seriously, though, Drake's new promo for his anticipated sophomore album, "Take Care," wants us to know one thing: Drake is the greatest young MC in the game.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
The Florida woman has a plan that usually costs her $175 a month. She includes two of her brothers on it, who are deaf and mute, and use smart phones extensively for texting and communicating more easily.
"He's a sweetheart, and he goes to college and I would do anything for him," she told WSVN television of her brother Shamir.
The problem was that Shamir went to Canada on vacation, and did not turn off his data roaming.
The bad news for big sister: a bill for $201,005.44.
"I was freaking out. I was shaking, crying, I couldn't even talk that much on the phone. I was like my life is over!" she told WSVN.
She said she thought "it's never going to get paid... I can't pay that. That's like paying a nice house right now based on what houses are going for."
Though T-Mobile did not have to reduce her bill, it wrote down her charges to $2,500.
"The case of Ms Aarons was extraordinary, even if the amount was correct. T-Mobile cut her bill to $2,500 and gave her six months to pay," a T-Mobile spokeswoman said.
Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz told reporters he can't be 100 percent sure that those three animals are the only ones unaccounted for.
Lutz and ABC News' wildlife expert Jack Hanna, who will take the living animals at the preserve to the Columbus Zoo, urged the public to remain cautious.
"If you see these animals you do not run," said Hanna, who added he is most concerned about the mountain lion, since those animals have "great leaping ability."
The sheriff said that when his men arrived at the animal preserve in Zanesville, they found bears, lions, Bengal tigers, black bears, leopards roaming the area. Since it was about to get dark, he feared the animals would escape into the night.
He said his deputies had to kill animals at close range with their sidearms. One animal that got away was hit by a car on a highway some distance away, he said.
The animals' cages were opened up by Terry Thompson, who owned an animal preserve in Zanesville. Thompson killed himself after freeing his menagerie, Lutz said.
Hanna and his vets visited the farm today, calling conditions deplorable. He plans to take all five living animals to the Columbus Zoo.
The man who is believed to have set the animals free, Thompson, 61, was recently released from prison after serving one year on federal weapons charges. According to investigators he has been cited in the past for animal abuse and neglect.
Lutz said at a news conference that residents should stay inside until the animals, which escaped around 6 p.m. Tuesday, are rounded up. Several schools across the area have canceled classes for Wednesday.
Police, who have been ordered to shoot to kill, describe the loose animals as "mature, very big and aggressive."
Lutz said that several aggressive animals were shot by deputies when they were discovered near Thompson's body at his preserve. Thompson's preserve was surrounded by a fence, and not all animals on the property fled through the open gates.
"These are wild animals, wild animals that you would see on TV in Africa," Lutz said at a news conference Tuesday evening.
Last night, as many as 51 wild animals, including cheetahs, grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, lions, a white Siberian tiger, camels and giraffes were running free in Zanesville, which has a population of about 25,000 residents. Police said that orangutans and chimps were found in Thompson's home, but they were still in their cages.
"This is a bad situation," Mutz said. "It's been a bad situation for a long time and the last thing we want to do is have any of our public hurt."
Deputies are working with the animals' caregiver, who says the animals were fed on Monday.
They're putting food in the animals' pens in the hopes they might return, where they can then be secured.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol has cordoned off seven square miles near Interstate 70 and officers are using infrared devices to find the animals.
On "GMA" Wednesday Hanna said that in controlling this situation human life and animal life must both be considered, as does timing of capture.
"Human life has to come first but that's what we have to look for. We have to take care of our animal life. You cannot tranquilize an animal at night. It's hard enough during the daytime," Hanna said.
Danielle White, one of Thompson's neighbors, said that she saw a loose lion in the area in 2006.
"It's always been a fear of mine knowing [the preserve's owner] had all those animals," she said. "I have kids. I've heard a male lion roar all night."
Thompson has been warned repeatedly over the last decade to get his animals under control – and no less than 30 times in the past year. He was arrested in April of 2005 for cruelty and torture of cattle and bison he had on his property, according to the website pet-abuse.com. He was charged with one count of having an animal at large, two counts of rendering animal waste and one count of cruelty to animals.
View the full photo collection at nationalgeographic.com
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
The svelte new smartphone sports a dual-core processor, an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera capable of 1080p video recording, and 4G LTE support. The RAZR's massive 4.3" Super AMOLED touchscreen looks dazzling, and is encased in Gorilla Glass for added protection. The device is splash resistant, with Motorola promising that even the phone's internals are meant to survive a bit of water.
One of the biggest selling points of the original RAZR was its thin form factor. The Droid RAZR continues that trend, measuring a laughably-narrow 7.1mm — making it the world's thinnest smartphone. By comparison, the recently-released Droid Bionic measures 10.9mm, and the iPhone 4S checks in at 9.3mm. The back of the new phone is made of woven Kevlar, in case it ever gets caught in a Hollywood-style shootout. It will run Android version 2.3 Gingerbread out of the box.
The original Motorola RAZR debuted in 2003 and in just three short years it racked up over 50 million units sold, largely due to its super-thin profile and flashy appearance. But as smartphones began to grow in popularity, the modest features of the RAZR sent it straight to the bargain bin. But with that kind of name recognition, the new RAZR — which boasts a much more powerful OS and huge list of features — may be able to capture some of the old phone's magic, which is something many Android devices seem to be lacking as of late.
The Droid RAZR will be release in November as a Verizon exclusive and will cost $299 with a new 2-year contract. A suite of accessories will also be poised for a launch-day release, including keyboard and laptop docks that will expand the phone's capabilities to a larger screen. If you want to experience the rebirth of the RAZR line, you can pre-order the device starting on October 27.
But the Cyclops shark, sliced from the belly of a pregnant mama dusky shark caught by a commercial fisherman in the Gulf of California earlier this summer, is by all reports the real thing. Shark researchers have examined the preserved creature and found that its single eye is made of functional optical tissue, they said last week. It's unlikely, however, that the malformed creature would have survived outside the womb.
"This is extremely rare," shark expert Felipe Galvan Magana of Mexico's Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias del Mar told the Pisces Fleet Sportfishing blog in July. "As far as I know, less than 50 examples of an abnormality like this have been recorded."
Pisces Fleet, a sportfishing company, rocketed the Cyclops shark to viral status online this summer with their photos of the creepy-cute creature. But this isn't the first time that reports of a mythical-seeming creature have spurred media sensations — last week alone, Russian officials announced "proof" of a Yeti, and paleontologists spun a theory about an ancient Kraken-like squid. Few reports of mythical beasts, however, come with proof.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Thursday, October 6, 2011
If there’s any truth to today’s rumors, then Saturday Night Live may soon be short two of its biggest a-holes stars. As is customary for SNL standouts who have successfully transitioned to the big screen, Kristen Wiig and Jason Sudeikis are reportedly leaving the show at the end of the season to focus on their film careers. This news certainly doesn’t come as a shock, but it’s probably still pretty unsettling if you’re a die-hard SNL fan. Vicky St. Elmo and DJ Supersoak are quality standouts on the show, and two of the biggest names on its dwindling roster. Whether Wiig or Sukeikis leave next year or in two or three, it’s going to be a huge loss.
Fox executives told The Wrap on Wednesday that even if the voice actors behind the iconic animated show "The Simpsons" take a massive pay cut, the show is now longer profitable as a first-run series and will end after next season. If the actors don't agree to a cut, this season, the show's 23rd, will be its final batch of new episodes.
The Daily Beast reported Monday that the actors were facing a 45% cut from their $440,000 per episode salary, which would take them down from $8 million to just over $4 million; they countered with an offer of a 30% cut but with a small slice of the show's backend, which includes merchandise, syndication and DVD sales. The executive told The Wrap that any agreement would only be for one more season.
Producers for the show have already taken a pay cut to keep the show going. Fox released a statement about the show's tenuous financial situation on Monday.
23 seasons in, The Simpsons is as creatively vibrant as ever and beloved by millions around the world. We believe this brilliant series can and should continue, but we cannot produce future seasons under its current financial model. We are hopeful that we can reach an agreement with the voice cast that allows The Simpsons to go on entertaining audiences with original episodes for many years to come.
The stars re-upped their contracts in 2008, receiving significant raises; it was reported that they went from $360,000 to $500,000 an episode
Decked out in an eye-popping, fire-engine-red dress with an arched hoopskirt and peacock-feather embroidery, Julia Roberts cuts quite the figure as the Evil Queen -- though it makes you wonder how anyone could walk around in that. Co-star Lily Collins found the Oscar-winning actor to be a commanding presence in costume.
"[Roberts] is so absolutely breathtaking and majestic that you can't take your eyes off of her, and her portrayal of the queen's evil nature is utterly mesmerizing that you almost feel a kind of pleasure and guilt for staring too long," Collins said.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
The new iOS 5 will go live October 12. It brings revamped notifications and more than 200 new features for your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. These are the top ten, and then some more.
Some of these features you already had in your iPhone or iPad. They just came in third-party apps.
If you used apps like the must-have WhatsApp, which allows you to message in an extremely easy way with all kinds of phones for free, you already were enjoying something like iMessage (even while iMessage adds important services, like device-wide conversation synchronization). If you had the awesome Instapaper, you already had some of the features of the new Safari. Or if you had something like Remember the Milk, you already had a great reminders service.
However, there are features that weren't available before; either because they are completely new or because they are system-wide. And there are real jewels too.
Things that may sound silly, like using the volume + button as a shutter in the Camera app. Or more important stuff, like well thought Notifications and the ability to run your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad without having a PC. Your iDevices are now completely autonomous.
All these features put iOS on par again with some of the features that you could already find in Android, Palm or Windows Phone 7. Some of their implementations, surpass those platforms. But even while none of these new features are extraordinary per se, all of them together are quite impressive.
iOS 5: The Top 10 New Features
The first big feature is notifications. At last, Apple will get rid of the annoying popups that break your flow. And with "annoying popups" I really meant "stupid dumb boxes that makes me want to smash my f*cking iPhone against the wall when I'm playing a game or chatting with strangers in the night".
They have replaced those with a new app called Notification Center. It's very similar to Mobile Notifier, the iOS notification app—which makes sense, since Apple hired its developer a while back. It not only includes app notification, but mini-widgets that show live information from apps like Weather and apps.
The notifications extend to the lock screen too, so you can see more stuff right away without unlocking your phone. Sliding your finger on it will automatically lead you to the app that generated that notification.
Notifications are clearly and by far the best part of iOS5—particularly coming from the stone age pop-up mess of previous versions. Everyone on staff who's used iOS5 is in love, and the upgrade is the must have feature.
Another new useful feature, which will hurt Blackberry and the telecommunications companies wanting to sell you stupid SMS and MMS contracts: Apple has implemented a new messaging system called iMessage.
It works between all iOS 5 devices, allowing you to leave conversations on your iPhone and continue them in your iPad (again, I will not be surprised to see this integrated into Lion at a later date). It comes with delivery notification as well. However, unlike WhatsApp, it doesn't work with other non-iOS devices. Maybe Apple thinks your Android and Blackberry friends are not worth talking to for free.
3. New Camera app and photos
The new Camera up gets two of the most-requested features in the history of iOS. The first is a shortcut in the lock screen to access the camera right away, so you don't have to unlock and then click on the Camera icon, which often makes you lose the moment.
The other one, which is something we have whined about endlessly, is using one of the volume button as the shutter button. Just press + and that's it: CLICK! This is a very welcome addition.
The new app also includes basic photo editing. It includes quick enhance—which basically sharpens your image, making shadows and highlights more detailed, and correct color automagically. It also include red eye reduction and cropping, both welcome additions to those who don't have the Camera Plus already.
Apple has built a virtual newsstand right onto iOS 5, very similar to the iBooks app but exclusively for magazines and periodicals. It looks like a cross between iBooks and a folder view, actually.
5. Twitter integration everywhere
iOS 5 will have Twitter integration everywhere. Apps like camera will be able to directly post the image to Twitter. The YouTube App, Safari or even Maps will support direct sharing in Twitter. It also adds a new Twitter address field to your Contacts application.
6. A new Safari
Safari has been revamped with new features. Reader will allow you to reformat a site on the fly, taking out ads and reformatting text so it looks better on your iPad or iPhone screen.
This feature flows into Reading List, which is a way to save those pages for later offline viewing, keeping them synchronized between all your iOS devices and Lion. Presumably via iCloud.
Apple's web browser also adds tabs in this version. Your open pages will line up right below your address bar. According to Apple, switching between pages is "lightning fast," so perhaps they have made some magic with the memory management to reduce the reload of pages in older devices.
7. New Reminders app
The new Reminders app makes it easy to make to-do lists. The interface is very simple and it's synchronized between iOS 5 devices and your Mac OS X desktop or notebook.
The really cool thing about Reminders is that it's location aware. Imagine you add that you need to buy milk, but then you forget about it. When you pass by the grocery store, the app will tell you that you need to buy milk.
8. New Mail app
Mail includes a barrage of enhancements
• Rich Text Formatting, which will allow you to annoy the hell out of everyone bolding every sentence in your mails.
• Indentation control, which allows you to control the level of indentation of your quotes from other messages.
• Draggable email addresses, which allows to drag and drop email addresses into to, cc and bcc fields.
• Message flagging to call your attention over a particular mail later.
• Swipe to Inbox, which makes it very easy to access the list of message in portrait mode on the iPad, instead of clicking on a button for a weird pop-up dialog.
9. No PC required
At long last, the most important feature of them all: You will not need iTunes and PC anymore to use your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. Apple has caught up with Android and Windows Phone 7. The new iOS 5 will allow you to set up your new device easily: Turn your new gadget on and a Welcome screen will appear. All software updates will happen over the air.
All the applications will now be completely autonomous. You will not have to go to iCal or some other desktop app to create a calendar, for example. There is no need for a desktop or laptop anymore, for anything.
10. New Game Center
The have enhanced Game Center too. Unfortunately, they have not renewed its awful casino interface, which looks as dated as always. But they have added much needed concepts from Xbox Live and other gaming systems:
• Achievement points.
• Access friends of friends, so you can compare and play with a wider range of people.
• Photos in your profile, so you can flirt with other nerds pretending to be women online.
• Game discovery, to play with whoever wants to play with you at any given time.
• Game downloads within Game Center.
• Support for turn-based games like Words for Friends and Scrabble.
All the others
• Cards: Lets you create digital cards directly from your iPod Touch or iPhone and send them to your contacts
• Dictionary everywhere: This is something that many people have asked for because they like it in the iBooks app. Now, every application will have Dictionary built-in.
• iTunes synchronization over Wi-Fi
• Advanced gestures: It will allow you to pass from app to app on the iPad by using a simple swipe gesture, without having to use the home button. This was a feature has been in testing for a long time and, trust me, once you try it you will not be able to live without it.
For some men, throwing an uncharacteristic four interceptions in one game would necessitate a real gut-check moment. They'd review film, talk to their receivers, go to Jesus. They'd ask, "What's wrong with me?" Tom Brady knew what was wrong. He threw four interceptions, then HE cut his hair. Anyone who noticed sang "Hallelujah." People wrote obituaries and burned scrunchies. Last Wednesday was a great day for people who hate ostentation, uniqueness, or style, for people who believe Brady had become too fancy for serious football. Lots of athletes get their hair cut in a salon. Brady's crime was that he looked like he did. Last Wednesday, those people — people who love Tom Brady the quarterback, but bristle at Tom Brady the spokesmodel — celebrated an early Christmas.
But that hair — The Hair — was an exciting moment for the National Football League. When Brady arrived at training camp two summers ago, he came with a haircut that matched his risky approach to football: He was taking a chance. It was hair that said to men, "Guys, I'm not sure where this is headed, but let's just see where it goes." And so we took a journey that, more than a year later, ended unceremoniously. For a man who really doesn't say a lot, the haircut said everything. It said, "I'm sorry." It said, "You were right." It said, "Gisele uses both blow dryers." Brady asked the world to read nothing into it, which then allowed the world to read further while grumbling that he should also run for office.
You can see Brady's point. Really, the new hair is just the old hair: a 3 on top, 2 on the sides; a Supercut. But it's the hair of three Super Bowl rings and numerous Sports Illustrated covers. It's the haircut of the Man Who Got Gisele. Brady was equally blasé in deciding to grow it out. During the preseason, he told reporters it was more or less an accident. "We've had two-a-days for the last three weeks. … This is what happens,'' he said. "I passed that uncomfortable stage with it. Now, I'm just like, 'Screw it, let's just keep going.'" But it was always a little uncomfortable. Some days its fullness made him look like a cross between a Redgrave and Mrs. Doubtfire. Eventually, the pop star Justin Bieber went on the attack, all but crying copyright infringement.
The hair had volume. It had charisma. There were reasons to feel it deserved an agent. But it was never popular and frequently misunderstood. In a few men it had aroused traumatic discomfort. This is the hair that smacked your tray onto the cafeteria floor. It was the hair into whose locker your girlfriend not-that-secretly slipped "I like you" notes. How many hearts had that hair broken? How many wedgies had it given? How many times had you tried to have that hair only to wind up looking like a Santa Monica pot dealer or Shaggy after too many Scooby Snacks? The hair, in that sense, was an affront. How you felt about it also depended on the lens through which it was viewed. On the one hand, you could perceive Gisele's influence. She had turned an All-American quarterback into a Brazilian beach bum, from Tom Brady to Gustavo Kuerten. On the other hand, as time went on, Brady's hair had become loosely commonplace. On a bad day it was a poor man's Clay Matthews or an elegant one's Jeremy Shockey.
In deciding to grow it at all, there might have been a degree of calculation. Two years ago Mark Sanchez arrived in the league, and America began passing out. Even before he'd thrown his first football, he was the most drooled-over player in the NFL. Sanchez has a breathtaking handsomeness that's both antique and of-the-moment — part 1930s movie star, part Bachelor Season 17 — and he has real, confident style. You couldn't help but feel for guys who wanted a piece of Sanchez's action. Perhaps without quite fully realizing what he'd done, Brady had entered the fray of grooming and personal style. For instance, he and a slicked-back incarnation of the hair are currently starring in ads for UGG for Men, a move that, however momentarily, manages to unite those who despise the Madison Avenue sideshow of American sports and those who despise the UGG Australia brand. But the company is determined to make inroads with American dudes, and choosing Brady to help blaze that trail is shrewd. Of course, Wednesday feels a bit like rejection of that Tom Brady.
It was increasingly unclear what exactly it was Brady wanted that hair to do, what he wanted it to say. It was statement hair, and the message, the adventure, the fun had all gotten away from him. Sports people whispered it wasn't a leader's haircut. Complaints that it was unmanly allegedly came from Randy Moss, whose cornrows turn into a Pam Grier Afro with impossible ease. That blown-lead loss against the Bills might not have been the reason Brady had his hair cut. Yet that he did at least suggests that the last year might have been frivolous — even the ferociousness he occasionally unleashed during the regular season now feels somehow experimental. In cutting his hair, he cut away the UGG campaign, the Bieber jokes, the insulting, paranoid idea that his wife is some kind of reverse Delilah. Sunday, against the Oakland Raiders, was his first game with the new hair, and Brady gave a routinely clean performance. He might not like us to talk about any corollaries. But this is back-to-business hair that denies us the right to speculate that Brady's business is anything other than football. "Go long" can now apply only to his passing game.
Monday, October 3, 2011
Thursday, September 29, 2011
One is that the game is a joint effort between New York and New Jersey. It features the letters NY and NJ below a stylized image of the George Washington Bridge.
The other is evident in what is pictured between the states' initials: a snowflake.
From the start, those behind the first outdoor Super Bowl in the North have not shied away from the probability of cold, perhaps snowy, weather.
"We thought it would be both fun and direct to put the snowflake right into our major symbol," Al Kelly, the host committee chief executive, said at a Manhattan breakfast attended by the Giants' and Jets' owners and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Jets owner Woody Johnson openly has rooted for snow from the day the Meadowlands' bid was accepted. Goodell joined him Tuesday, saying, "A little snow would be great for us. Some of our most memorable games were played in unusual weather circumstances. Winter and cold are part of football, and snow is also."
The host committee logo is not the same as the official Super Bowl logo, which will be revealed at a later date. Speaking of dates, Super Bowl XLVIII still doesn't have one. Kelly hopes to get word from NFL owners next month.
"Certainly knowing the date when you're trying to plan something can be extremely helpful," he said.
Kelly announced 22 corporate sponsors and played a TV ad that will be shown before and after the Jets and Giants games this Sunday. The campaign emphasizes the bi-state effort, with the slogan "A Super Bowl so Historic, it Takes Two States to Host It."
Despite the New York power and money behind the 2014 Super Bowl, the weather and other logistical challenges have given organizers a bit of an underdog mentality. As Johnson said, "The world will be waiting for us to screw up."
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Via ESPN's Grantland.
This past summer, ESPN The Magazine, in its annual ranking of sports franchises, identified Toronto as the worst city for sports in North America. Inevitably, the assessment provoked a fury of denial. Brian Burke, the Toronto Maple Leafs' president and general manager (and probably the best executive in the NHL) called the ranking, "absurd and offensive" and went on to claim, "I don't think ESPN knows squat about Canada. I don't think they know squat about hockey." I suppose Burke had to say that, being GM and all, but it was still an embarrassing comment. No sane person could disagree with that ranking. As Burke must know, the only problem with ESPN's analysis is that it focused almost exclusively on quantitative matters, the "bang for the buck," meaning the money gathered from tickets, concessions, and parking compared against the team's wins. Being a Toronto fan is so much worse than any algorithm could ever express. A merely numerical measurement fails to capture the daily spiritual trauma of following sports in Toronto.
It's a given that the true fan goes to games not for the necessarily occasional thrill of winning, but for the quotidian experience of losing — a truth articulated originally and beautifully by Nick Hornby in Fever Pitch. Losing in Toronto, however, is an unremitting condition. The CFL team, the Argonauts, is so bad that when I recently found a friend of mine betting on it, I immediately wondered if it was time for an intervention about his gambling addiction. As it stands, the Argonauts are 2 and 6 3 and 9. The Blue Jays this year aren't completely terrible, but when you've said that, you've said everything. They may be a rising power in the East, as many claim, but they sure haven't risen yet. The Raptors are still in their post-Bosh wilderness (not that the Bosh period was a golden age), and Toronto FC currently rests at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. The Leafs, who matter to Torontonians more than all the other teams combined, have not won the Stanley Cup since 1967, and they haven't made the playoffs in a franchise-record six seasons. The only team with a longer dry spell is the Florida Panthers. The Leafs' major source of hope seems to be Brian Burke himself, but when the major source of your dreams is a front-office guy, you are in a dark place. Cheering a GM, to me, is hitting rock bottom.
And this in Canada's biggest city, where hockey matters more than baseball in Boston or basketball in Indiana or football in Texas. The only other places where sports dwell so near the most profound and abiding national questions are rugby in New Zealand, which recoups the warrior culture of the Maori, and football in Buenos Aires, where the slumdog Boca Juniors battle the uptown Millonarios in a never-ending class war. Maybe Real Madrid against Barcelona could be added to that list, but nobody else. People who were surprised that Vancouver burned after the Stanley Cup playoffs last year are unaware of the history of the sport in Canada. Of the 10 biggest riots in Canadian history, six began at hockey games.
During the 2010 Olympics, more than 80 percent of the country watched the men's hockey finals. Our current Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, is legitimately an expert on the history of the game; the only reason he hasn't finished his book on the early days of the NHL is that he's been busy running the country. The history of the game and the history of the country are much the same thing: You can trace the rise of Quebec separatism, for example, to the Rocket Richard riots in 1955. On the other hand, hockey is the one mass-media phenomenon for which English and French Canadian have the same stars — not true of any other form of entertainment. Immigrants join hockey as fans and players as soon as they join the Canadian middle class. More than a hundred thousand people watch Hockey Night in Canada broadcast in Punjabi.
All of which is to say, we are so terrible when we should be so great. I wish I could say that the misery in Toronto follows that simple equation: the size of our passion divided by the grossness of our losses. Unfortunately, the torture of watching hockey in Toronto is nowhere near so easy. Everybody knows that Toronto loses not despite our love for the game, but because of our love for the game. The truism is by now well established, a local media commonplace. "Each man kills the thing he loves," as Oscar Wilde put it. The teams lose because they don't have to win. The Leafs have so many people on the waiting list for season tickets that they don't take new names anymore; no matter what happens they have a 99 percent renewal rate. Torontonians line up to pay tens of thousands of dollars to watch some of the most dreadful hockey played at a professional level.
So who can blame Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, the business that controls the Leafs and the Raptors, for following that oldest and truest of rules: Never give a sucker an even break? The most recently released financial reports, published by the Toronto Star in 2007 and which were neither confirmed nor denied by the privately held MLSE, suggest they run a profit margin of more than 20 percent. Before we start hacking away at the irresponsible evil-capitalist angle, however, we should recognize that the majority shareholder in MLSE is the Ontario Teachers' Pension Fund (although they are currently looking to sell); the profits of MLSE have paid for the retirement of a lot of hardworking people, so it's good that they're good at business. And they are excellent business people.
Nonetheless, I don't know how the executives at MLSE eat and sleep and walk around knowing how egregiously and consistently they have failed their city. For the past 14 years, the head of MLSE has been Richard Peddie, a mostly cheerful public figure with a hefty amount of charm and a disarming sense of humor. Of course, part of me wants to pin all those 14 disastrous years of failure on him. His retirement agreement stipulates that if Toronto wins the Stanley Cup in the next three years, he receives a championship ring. I have a better idea of how we should celebrate his upcoming departure: with an inverted statue, his image carved underground, a Peddie-shaped hole that all the fans could fill with leftover beer (or borrowed beer) in commemoration of all the victories he did not bring us. The names of all the vice presidents during his tenure could be carved there, as well.
Ultimately, Richard Peddie makes an unsatisfying scapegoat, though. In interviews and on television, he seems like a decent guy who's excellent at his job. At worst, he may be an embodiment of the Canadian technocratic blandness that concentrates on efficiency and deprecates personal glory. This same blandness is why Canadian banks are the most dependable in the world, and why, while the rest of the West is falling apart, we more or less have maintained a working government and a secure middle class. Besides, it's too easy to blame Peddie. It's too easy to blame MLSE even. The tragedy of the Maple Leafs runs much deeper.
The problem with hockey in Toronto is the nostalgia that dominates how the game is played and consumed here. More than winning, Torontonians love the style of old-time hockey, a spirit of straightforwardness, brotherly violence, and what for lack of a better word I will call "not-fancyness." Hockey commentators here love nothing more than explaining how hockey games are won by cycling the puck, driving at the net, ugly goals. "They don't look pretty, but they win games." They love saying that.
Despite having more money than any other hockey team in the league, the Leafs have not purchased any brilliant players in an era overflowing with brilliant players. What the Leafs specialize in is the great bush-league heroes — this is not an accident nor is it the fault of the suits. They know what their audience wants and they give it to them. The city never took to Mats Sundin, the magnificent Swedish all-rounder. The fans adored local boy Tie Domi, a butcher on skates. His definitive moment, perhaps the definitive moment of the Leafs franchise in the 21st century, was his entirely gratuitous hit on Scott Niedermayer in the dying seconds of Game 4 of the 2001 Stanley Cup second round. At the end of a game in which Toronto tied the series, Domi's dirty hit handed the momentum over to the Devils, ruining the best chance the Leafs have had in living memory to make the Finals. The symmetry is nearly perfect: the size of the failure matches the depth of a moral disaster.
Toronto fans like extravagantly ordinary players. How else to explain paying $3 million for Darcy Tucker? Or $5.5 million for Bryan McCabe? Sometimes I wonder if Toronto would even know what to do with the Sedin twins, who are less like quick-fisted farm boys and more like magical changelings conceived by elves in the Scandinavian forest. Would they even be welcome in Toronto? During the 2011 Stanley Cup, everyone felt they had to cheer for Vancouver — Canada's team — but secretly everybody wanted Boston to take it. The choice between Ryan Kesler and Tim Thomas wasn't really a choice at all, even if Thomas is American. I recently overheard a conversation in a bar about whether Sidney Crosby would ever return to hockey, and one guy said, "I told you he was made of glass." That's typical; Toronto wouldn't take Sidney Crosby even if he were on offer. Not tough enough.
This bush-league spirit extends from hockey to all other sports. Chris Bosh, who was adored when he played here, was a great Toronto story exactly because he was so hard-working and not at all stuck up or sophisticated. He wasn't great, but he was doing the best with what he had. In 2007, when Toronto FC arrived in the city, many believed that it would break the cycle, but the city is full of English and Italians and Portuguese and Trinidadians and Koreans who are so football-crazy that TFC doesn't have to win. The situation with the Leafs has been replicated nearly perfectly, the process beginning in its very first season. TFC's "star" player then was Danny Dichio — one of the slowest football players in the league. (Watching him play made it seem like your TV was broken just in the spot where he was playing. It looked like he was running through treacle.) Eventually, in TFC's fifth game, he scored the team's first-ever goal, in the 24th minute, and thereafter TFC fans sang the Danny Dichio song at minute 24. In the last game of that season, down 2-1 with nothing on the line, Dichio managed to catch a late ball and flick it over the keeper, which sent the Toronto fans into a hysterical frenzy. A midlevel player fluking the ball to achieve a meaningless draw — when you cheer such mediocrity, why should anybody give you anything better?
You may wonder: Why would anyone want to be a part of this? The answer is that there's little choice in the matter. My son first told me he was a Leafs fan when he was 3 years old. At first I was horrified; I wanted to shelter him, hoping it would all blow over. But lately I've realized that it's important for him to know this pain, so I bought him the Maple Leafs pajamas he thought he wanted. It's important for him to suffer with the city he lives in. Because suffering for a lack of beauty is right and proper. The bush-league spirit that infects Toronto's hockey also infects the rest of the city. We are a big, nasty, rich city that insists on acting like a small town. We're the size of Chicago, but how could you tell? Our mayor would be an amazing mayor for about 20,000 people. Our museums, our architecture, reflect little of the immense resources that flow through the city from half a continent. Our transit system is a joke because we refuse to plan for our success. It is obvious that Toronto won't be whole, won't begin to live properly again, until the Leafs win the Stanley Cup.
In the meantime, we deserve to lose. We deserve our pain. The pain is the only hope that we'll ever learn to win again.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Facebook is dramatically redesigning its users’ profile pages to create what CEO Mark Zuckerberg says is a “new way to express who you are.”
Zuckerberg introduced the Facebook “timeline” Thursday in San Francisco at the company’s f8 conference for some 2,000 entrepreneurs, developers and journalists. The event is also being broadcast to more than 100,000 online viewers.
The timeline is reminiscent of an online scrapbook, with the most important photos and text that users have shared on Facebook over the years. It’s Facebook’s attempt at growing from an online hangout to a homestead, where people express their real selves and merge their online and offline lives. The timeline can go back to include years before Facebook even existed, so users can add photos and events from, say 1995 when they got married or 1970 when they were born.
Zuckerberg took the stage after a humorous skit, in which Saturday Night Live actor Andy Samberg impersonated him. The real Mark Zuckerberg looked considerably more playful and at ease than he has in past events, suggesting he is growing into his role as the public face of Facebook.
But he quickly got down to business as he introduced the timeline as “the story of your life — all your stories, all your apps and a new way to express who you are.”
Expanding on its ubiquitous “like” buttons, Zuckerberg said Facebook will now let users connect to things even if they don’t want to “like” them.
“We are making it so you can connect to anything you want. Now you don’t have to like a book, you can just read a book,” he said. “You don’t have to like a movie; you can just watch a movie.”
Simon Cowell made a solid return to Fox last night, but his new show The X Factor was no match for the Dunphys and Pritchetts (and a far cry from American Idol).
X Factor debuted to 12.5 million viewers and a 4.4 adults 18-49 rating, while ABC’s Emmy-winning Modern Family delivered 14.3 million viewers and a whopping 6.0 series-high rating. The reality competition drew about half the audience of the most recent season opener of American Idol (which delivered about 26 million viewers and a 9.7 in the demo), a point of comparison that’s inevitable, but also arguably unfair given the top-rated legacy of the other show (though Cowell himself invited the comparison in July, when he suggested to reporters that the new show might top Idol).
X Factor was significantly higher, however, than the debut of NBC’s fall singing competition The Sing Off, and was higher than the debut of Hell’s Kitchen in the slot last year. While a one-hour Modern Family not only won the night, but was up 18 percent from its premiere last fall.
Blue Jays spokesperson Jay Stenhouse was not immediately available for comment, but Uni Watch’s Paul Lukas, who also blogs for espn.com. claims he has confirmed the new logo “is the real deal.”
There could be more of a Canadian theme to the new design than a baseball one. Gone is the baseball backdrop of the 1977 logo. The blue jay, though a little thinner and darker, looks much the same, and the maple leaf, absent from the current design, returns with more prominence than it had originally.
The throwback logo has been greeted with enthusiasm on Twitter, on Internet blogs and chat sites and, presumably, by the New England Sports Network. The folks at NESN recently listed the team’s current logo, a stylized Jay nicknamed the Angry Bird by many, as the fourth worst in the history of the major leagues.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
While it might seem like kissing isn't a bad way to spend a work day, Grint and Watson explained to the UK's TelegraphTV why the scene was so difficult for them. "It feels weird saying this, because I'm sure loads of guys are just really jealous," Grint said. "I mean, she's lovely. I just felt so wrong, really. Kissing this person I've known since she was nine."
Watson said she also felt quite a bit of pressure to please the fans who had been waiting so long for the kiss to happen. She said, "Can you imagine, building up to a kiss for, like, ten years? We've been building up for this kiss for a decade. How am I going to do this justice? I felt like it's the most anticipated kiss of all time. So, it was intense."
There will be many more behind-the-scenes secrets revealed in the bonus features of the upcoming Blu-ray.
The Leafs are officially unveiling their throwback jersey - virtually the same design as the sweater worn by captain George Armstrong when the Leafs last won the Stanley Cup in 1967 - on Friday, after a picture of it leaked on the Internet over the weekend.
The Leafs will wear them at their home opener on Oct. 6 against the Montreal Canadiens.
"It's definitely going to be a hot item ... it's going to generate millions of dollars in revenue," said Keith McIntyre, a marketing expert based in Burlington, Ont.
"From what I've seen, it's pretty much identical to the jerseys worn by the last Leafs team to win the Stanley Cup. That in itself is going to generate a lot of interest.
"It's one that hasn't been on the market. The logo is very classy."
When the Edmonton Oilers introduced a third jersey in 2002, sales topped $100,000 on the first night alone.
On an average game night at the Air Canada Centre, Real Sports Apparel sells 20-30 Leaf jerseys, said Mike Gagurerriero, supervisor of the MLSE-owned store.
Real Sports Apparel will be selling the jersey exclusively for 10 days after Friday's announcement.
Authentic jerseys at the store sell for $300 or $380 with a number and name on the back. Regular replica sweaters are $129 blank or $189 with a name and number.
Jerseys worn by Phil Kessel and captain Dion Phaneuf were the most popular when they first arrived. Lately, goalie James Reimer has been the big seller at the store.
Reebok, the exclusive supplier of NHL jerseys, recently sent at least one box containing the Leafs' new third jerseys to at least one retail outlet.
Somebody at the Buffalo Sabres store inside their newly-named First Niagara Center opened the box and put the jersey on display.
A person snapped a picture of the predominately blue jersey with white stripes and it was posted on the blog icethetics.info
The jerseys are now packed away somewhere inside the Sabres store. A man who answered the phone, politely told a reporter it had been a mistake, not made by them, but by Reebok.
"Reebok shipped it to us. They're not allowed to ship anything before they're unveiled," he said. "How were we to know?"
Reebok didn't return Star calls seeking comment.
An industry insider said no retail store would dare sell a jersey before they're allowed to sell it so they believe it must have been shipped by mistake and opened by mistake.
Teams normally have exclusivity until the jersey is worn on the ice, and at that point the jersey is available to other retailers.
Chris Ciprietti of the Sports Obsession franchise said their stores won't receive shipments of the third Leaf jersey until at least the middle of the month.
"The sales generated from a new jersey and specifically Toronto would be extremely high," Ciprietti said. "Leaf fans are starving for success and there seems to be more optimism that they are moving in the right direction."
Judging by the interest of Star readers, retail outlets are going to sell a lot of them when they're officially allowed to sell them.
The Leafs haven't said how many times the third jersey will be worn.
The third sweater will sport a solid white banner with two thinner stripes at the waist.
And there's no patch on the shoulders. The "Toronto" on the crest is also curved, similar to how the name was curved on the 1937 sweater.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Two and a Half Men premiere ratings are in. And they’re jaw dropping. Stunningly huge.
The ninth season premiere, starring Ashton Kutcher taking over for Charlie Sheen, delivered 27.7 million viewers Monday night — that’s in the ballpark of an American Idol premiere.
Even more impressive: The sitcom scored a 10.3 rating among adults 18-49. That’s easily an all-time high for the show, and up 110 percent over last fall’s eighth-season debut with Sheen. Everybody expected the sitcom’s first new episode back would perform strong, but not like this.
CBS’ entire comedy lineup was strong, with the night opening with back-to-back episodes of How I Met Your Mother (11.3 million, 4.7 and 12.2 million, 5.1, respectively) that were much higher than last fall’s premiere. Following Men, new comedy 2 Broke Girls did a giant 19.1 million viewers and a 7.0 rating — down, as one would expect, from its giant lead-in, but still likely to dwarf any other new scripted series debut this fall. The only CBS show that didn’t seem to benefit from the Men surge was Hawaii Five-0 (12 million, 3.4) at 10 p.m., which was down 13 percent from last fall, yet still won the 10 p.m. hour.
Over on NBC, another much-buzzed-about premiere had a very different fate: The Playboy Club has been drawing controversial headlines for its association with the adult magazine brand, but it bombed out at 10 p.m., drawing only 5 million viewers and a 1.6 rating. Its two-hour lead-in, the first fall edition of The Sing Off (5.2 million, 1.9), also performed weakly.
CBS also crushed the premiere of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars (18.6 million, 3.9), which has been some drawing press attention, too, for the inclusion of Chaz Bono. While ABC held up better than any other CBS rival, the two-hour premiere was down a sharp 24 percent from last fall’s edition. Good news at 10 p.m. for the network, though: The return of Castle (13.6 million, 3.3) was up 22 percent from last year and gave Hawaii a run for its money.
Also Monday: The season finale of Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen (5.8 million, 2.5) held up well under the bombardment of premieres.