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A Lazy Blog on a Lazy Day

I was going to be lazy today and not blog, but then I read the television column in The Buffalo News this morning and realized that apparently there is no shame in being lazy on the day after Thanksgiving.

On the front page of the Home & Style section, the tease for Jeff Simon’s column read “Jodi Johnston will be missed; Lindsay as Liz is laughable.”

So naturally, I expected the hard-working critic – who is among the most prolific writers at The News – had watched Lindsay Lohan play Elizabeth Taylor in Sunday’s Lifetime movie, “Liz & Dick.”

But he actually wrote that he hadn’t seen it. He had just heard the consensus among those who watched was that it was awful. 

Jodi Johnston: Her Daily Photo Here

It probably is dreadful. One of my favorite critics, the USA Today’s Robert Bianco, wrote this morning that it is awful.. But Simon often doesn’t vote with “the consensus.”

However, he did agree with the consensus when he reviewed the movie “The Master” and gave it four stars. I have yet to see it or find anyone who has who didn’t hate it and wasn’t tempted to leave the theater in the middle of the movie.

I agree with the headline that came from the portion of the Simon column dealing with Johnston’s departure from Channel 2’s “Daybreak” for a job with First Niagara. She will be missed. I think I’ve written that 100 times or so in the past week.

Simon said he was baffled that Channel 2 General Manager Jim Toellner couldn’t find a way to keep Johnston. After all, Toellner is an astute guy. (So am I on occasion. I know running her picture every day may attract readers.)

I agree on Toellner. But I was baffled why any critic of four or five decades who understands where local TV news is headed would be baffled if they read and accepted Johnston’s explanation of why she is leaving TV.

Johnston has repeatedly said she is leaving to have normal hours and spend more time with her son Max, who is in the third grade. She also had enough of waking up at 3 a.m., which meant she didn’t get to send Max off to school.

Even if Toellner had offered Maryalice Demler’s 5:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. news anchors shifts to Johnston, it wouldn’t have satisfied Johnston’s need to spend more time with Max. Those hours may be the absolute worst for any mother who wants to spend more time with her young child, and the anchors who do it have sacrificed a great deal in their family life.

As frequently documented here, the local news business in Buffalo also has had a pronounced shift away from big anchor salaries.

Johnson is going to what will be mostly a 9 to 5 job at a prestigious bank. There is no need to be baffled why Toellner couldn’t find a way to keep her.

Speaking of movie critics, local reviewer Michael Calleri said he is scheduled to appear tomorrow on “CBS Saturday Morning” at the top of the 8 o’clock hour to discuss censorship. Calleri drew attention when he wrote a column posted on Roger Ebert’s website that dealt with his experiences after a new owner of the Niagara Falls Reporter – a weekly — told him he needed to approve what movies he could review.

Unfortunately, Calleri’s appearance won’t be seen here and it has nothing to do with censorship. Channel 4, the local CBS affiliate, doesn’t carry “Saturday Morning.”

Calleri – who reviewed movies at Channel 4 for more than six years — is hoping the station will use highlights on its newscasts.

Media Laugh of the weekend: The News ran a cutline Thursday that said Grinnell sophomore Jack Taylor put up 20 shots per second when he scored 138 points in a college basketball game. That would have been a truly unbelievable achievement. The story correctly said he put up a shot every 20 seconds, which was pretty incredible, too.

Finally, it is raining and I’m feeling lazy so I think I might go to a movie this afternoon. My companion wants to see ”Life of Pi” but I’m a little worried. Like “The Master,” Simon gave it four stars. This time, I’m hopeful he’s right and we’re not tempted to walk out of the theater.


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6 responses to "A Lazy Blog on a Lazy Day"

  1. Tyler says:

    Isn’t censorship when a government restricts speech? How is it censorship if a small newspaper makes unpopular choices about what kind of viewpoints it does or doesn’t want to publish?

    Regarding Jodi, has her week long send off the most extensive of any Buffalo TV personality ever? Was that probably motivated due to a Nivember ratings period, or just that they really really like her? It seems so 180 degrees opposite of how most departures are handled.

    By the way…. Did you see the reports this week about the local news anchor team in Maine both announcing their resignations live on air at the end of a newscast so that the management there wouldn’t be able to deny them a chance to say goodbye to viewers?

    • alanp says:

      The government isn’t the only institution in which censorship is practiced… In regards to Johnston’s departure, I wrote that I have never seen anything like it for someone who was only on TV for about 12 years.

      • Tyler says:

        Thanks. I see that now in some online descriptions of censorship. But I still don’t understand the difference between non-government censorship and editorial content choices.

        Hypothetically, if WBEN ever fires Beach or Bauerle because it doesn’t want to continue broadcasting certain opinions that they refuse to stop expressing, would it be guilty of censorship?

        National Review recently fired a columnist (Derbyshire) who refused to stop writing in other publications about racial topics in ways NR management disagreed with. Juan Williams being fired by NPR for things he was saying on Fox News was another example.

        Until now I wouldn’t have thought any of those or other media firings to be “censorship”. For the same reason I wouldn’t have about Calleri.

        But perhaps all of the above actually are within the broader definition of censorship that I wasn’t aware of – even though the individuals can/could express their views in other media?

  2. Hmm. The version I read in the News seems to indicate Simon indeed watched Liz & Dick. Unless I misread it.

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