Story By: G.H. Harding
Matt Lauer Has Powers At NBC

TODAY SHOW MADNESS --- What’s in the water over at NBC/Universal? Having just gotten somewhat over the Ann Curry-debacle, there’s been a flurry of stories about the morning show crew; with Natalie Morales and Willie Geist suddenly being fired and Hoda Kotb replacing Savannah Guthrie.

Yesterday, on their 9:00-AM hour, the so-named Today’s Take, Geist and Morales addressed it directly. A big rumor was that Matt Lauer went to the powers that be and instructed them NOT to do this, which resulted in the immediate firing of a NBC exec. 

The once untouchable Today Show, which is limping to the end of its 63rd year amid backbiting, talent anxiety, lurid headlines, and for the past two years, second-place ratings, have cost the network news division tens of millions of dollars in advertising revenue.

This latest embarrassment—Monday night’s very public dismissal of NBC News senior vice president and Today show brand general manager Jamie Horowitz after just 10 weeks on the job—amounts to another black eye for the venerable program. Normally, the departure of an unknown broadcast executive would be relegated to the trade journals and barely make a dent in public awareness. But because of Today’s long-held position in the popular culture and its recent history of violent personnel changes, Horowitz’s removal is receiving dead-movie-star coverage in outlets ranging from Us Weekly to Entertainment Tonight, while going viral on social media.

The result is a disconcerting disconnect: A viewer in Topeka, Kansas, wondering just how insincere is the happy talk among Today’s grinning anchors, is apt know as much about the behind-the scenes melodrama as your average Manhattan media junkie. I mean, it's almost a Sex In The City-plot line!

In 2012, Today ended 16 years of ratings dominance with the clumsy sacking of Ann Curry and press reports blaming Curry’s co-anchor Matt Lauer for her tearful, cringe-worthy on-camera exit. Formerly loyal viewers, soured on the show’s forced and seemingly phony atmosphere, subsequently switched in droves to ABC’s Good Morning America, the new and still-reigning king of morning television.

“It’s just complete disarray over at Today right now,” said a veteran NBC executive who, like almost everyone else quoted in this story, spoke on the condition of not being identified. “The entire staff is just at a loss to understand what’s going on. Everybody wants to know what’s happening and who’s in charge.”

BANGLES CLASSICS --- The Bangles have assembled sixteen tracks from their early career, EP's and live performances on Ladies and Gentlemen...The Bangles! The new album will be out via digital outlets on November 27 through their own DownKiddie! label.

The new album starts with the group's debut single “Getting Out of Hand/Call on Me” and follows with all of the tracks from their first, self-titled EP. Four unreleased demos are followed by live performances and the theme song from The Rock & Roll Alternative Program. All of the tracks were recorded between 1981 and 1984.

Debbi Peterson said "We're so pleased to give our fans and music lovers alike the chance to enjoy the early fruits of our labor. Some of these tracks have never seen the light of day."

Her sister, Vicki, added "We've wanted to make these songs available to a new audience for a long time. We've thrown in a couple of live tracks, and even some of the first demos, all lovingly collected and re-mastered, so you no longer have to dig out a cassette player to hear them."

Susanna Hoffs said "I feel a very special connection to our early recordings. The garage of my parents' house was our musical laboratory, and we took all the flavors of our favorite bands and mixed up a concoction of jangly guitars, McCartney-inspired bass parts, grooves powered by punk energy, and harmonies galore! These songs and recordings were our musical manifesto - all that mattered and inspired us, fueled by youthful energy, hope and blind ambition."

The Bangles (originally a trio called The Bangs) hit a big in the early 1980's, scoring several hit singles during that decade, including "Walk Like an Egyptian", "Manic Monday", "Hazy Shade of Winter", and the 1989 number-one single "Eternal Flame".

MIKE NICHOLS --- We lost Director Mike Nichols this week; a true marathon man of talent. Did you know that after his exemplary comic-career with Elaine May, the first picture he directed was Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf … and, the second, The Graduate?

I thought his Angels In America, which he directed as well, was at the time, the best thing I ever saw on TV (Al Pacino as the late-Roy Cohn was stunning). He also did Silkwood, Hurlyburly (onstage), Primary Colors, and Charlie Wilson’s War with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts; which was terrifically underrated and spot-on excellent. A true innovator, true talent, and true force of nature. A big, big loss. RIP Mike.

BECK’S TOKYO --- On November 24, 2014, Eagle Rock Entertainment will release Live In Tokyo by Jeff Beck on DVD. 

The set includes “Stratus,” “Led Boots,” “Cause We Ended As Lovers,” “Big Block,” “A Day In The Life,” “Rollin’ And Tumblin’” and many more. 

Jeff Beck is undeniably one of the world’s greatest guitar players. Technically brilliant, he is renowned for pushing musical boundaries and has excelled across many different genres from rock and jazz to pop and blues. His versatility and unmatched musicianship is captured beautifully on Live In Tokyo. 

Filmed at the Tokyo Dome City Hall in Japan on April 9th 2014, these Japanese dates were the first to feature Jeff Beck’s new backing band of Jonathan Joseph (drums), Nicolas Meier (guitars) and Rhonda Smith (bass). The set list includes some freshly minted songs that fans will never have heard before. In contrast to Beck’s previous visual releases, Performing This Week…Live At Ronnie Scott’s and Rock ‘N’ Roll Party, which both filmed in small clubs, Live In Tokyo is filmed in a major concert arena and has a very different, more expansive feel. 

His take on the Stevie Wonder classic, “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” is as brilliant as ever. What a song!

CLOSING NOTES --- 77-year old Bill Cosby’s fund-raiser performance in the Bahamas last night, went on as planned; yet many of the audience polled asked why he didn’t take the opportunity to deny the ongoing charges against him …

Micky Dolenz and entourage at Nomad restaurant in midtown Wednesday night …

The New York Post’s Cindy Adams has been ranting about Verizon for the past five years. PR-man David Salidor had his voice mail and phones service out for almost two weeks and yesterday received a $100.00 credit. “After more than two dozens phone calls requesting it … I’m pleased … and shocked.”

Times Square Gossip editor James Edstrom had his Verizon Internet out for days and could not reach someone in America to talk too. Said Edstrom: " This is what happens when we gave the Internet to the corporations. America invented the Internet and we are the slowest in the world because of these corporations, ranking 68th across the planet. Third world countries have better service."