Robservations on the media beat:
- All but overshadowed by NBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics' opening weekend was WMAQ-Channel 5's annual genuflection to the Chicago Auto Show. Though billed as a special (a "multiple Emmy Award winning" special, no less), it again was nothing more than a one-hour infomercial for the Chicago Automobile Trade Association. Half a dozen Channel 5 staffers gushed unabashedly over new car models -- and, in the case of Ginger Zee, gushed over a couple of human models known as "The Fiat Twins." Host Brant Miller landed some face time for his son, Joey, who fronted an unappealing segment on "finding fun" at the Auto Show. News anchor Allison Rosati turned up to raffle off a Chevy Equinox for charity. And, as always, there was the obligatory sound bite from Channel 5's big boss, Larry Wert. Recession? What recession?
- The March issue of Esquire features a must-read profile of Roger Ebert and how America's greatest movie critic was transformed by the health problems that took away his ability to speak. It poignantly attests to Roger's amazing courage, resiliency and indomitable spirit. "Today he is producing the best work of his life," writes Esquire's Chris Jones, who adds:
"It's almost impossible to sit beside Roger Ebert, lifting blue Post-it notes from his silk fingertips, and not feel as though he's become something more than he was. . . . "ËœThere is no need to pity me,' he writes on a scrap of paper one afternoon after someone parting looks at him a little sadly. "ËœLook how happy I am.' "
- Good news about Ebert's former television partner: Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper has made his movie reviews for Starz subscription movie channel available on Hulu.com. It's another piece of Roeper's expanding multimedia presence. Also this week, Roeper's upcoming book, Bet the House: How I Gambled Over a Grand a Day for 30 Days on Sports, Poker, and Games of Chance, scored‚ a favorable review in Publishers Weekly.
- From what I've read, reviews of Second City's "Rush Limbaugh! The Musical" haven't been too kind. But none has been as vitriolic as Betty Mohr's over-the-top condemnation of the tuneful spoof in her Southtown Star critique. Calling it a "screaming hate fest," she even found a way to invoke Adolf Hitler:
"It's a shame that Second City Theatricals spent so much time on this sound and fury signifying nothing. Every time someone attacks Limbaugh, they make him stronger, increase his audience and energize him and his listeners. Hitler once said, if you tell a lie big enough, everyone will believe it. No, they won't. Not anymore."
- It didn't take long for Richard Greene to resurface on Chicago's progressive talk stations after the demise of Air America Radio. Under a new syndication deal, his "Hollywood Clout" talk show returned Monday to its 8 p.m. weeknight time slot on Newsweb Radio's WCPT-AM (820), WCPY-FM (92.5), WCPT-FM (92.7) and WCPQ-FM (99.9).
- As executive producer of MeTV Sports, Fred Weintraub has logged more than 32,000 air miles in the last six months. That's because the former station manager of Weigel Broadcasting now lives in London but continues to head high school sports production for the Weigel outlets here. Live coverage of the Chicago Public Schools' boys basketball championship will air at 7 p.m. Friday on WCIU-Channel 26 and online at WCIU.com.
- Love him or hate him, Mancow Muller continues to inflame passions in the market. Posts here Wednesday and Thursday about his firing from Citadel Broadcasting news/talk WLS-AM (890) so far have generated a total of more than 270 comments from readers. That's far and away the most on any topic since this blog began Nov. 2.