THE GLORIOUS CORNER
Story By: G. H. HARDING
MORE GRAMMY NOTES --- First off, I was dead wrong with some AC/DC information on Monday. The venerable group does have a new album out, Rock or Bust; a real record label behind them, Columbia; and they're shortly hitting the road for a North American tour.
This will be the group’s first tour without rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young and drummer Phil Rudd. Young is suffering from dementia, while Rudd is facing trial on drug and murder-related charges. Former drummer Chris Slade has rejoined the band in Rudd's absence.
The band was formed in November 1973 by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young, who continued as members until Malcolm's illness and departure in 2014. To date they are one of the top-selling bands of all time, with a total of more than 200 million albums sold worldwide.
They never had appeared on the Grammy telecast … but, to many stole the show last Sunday with their amazing, high-octane driven opening ... pyro and all!
Also: Annie Lennox’s duet of sorts with Hozier, on his “Take Me To Church” was still positively chilling and her subsequent take on “I Put A Spell On You” mesmerizing. Thematically, I felt this was one of the best pairings during the show.
Pharrel's "Happy" performance was definitely odd and this track definitely wins the most overplayed song of the year. I find him terrifically talented, but definitely a tad overexposed. And, what's with the shorts?
I also enjoyed (!!!) “Four Five Seconds” from Rihanna, Kanye and Paul McCartney … with Macca giving Kanye a taste of some real music!
Note to Kanye: You know, your voice is pretty good without all the auto tune.
The 57th Grammy telecast was down ratings-wise from last year (11%) – a six year low in fact. Many felt it was too bloated- and fingers are pointing to director Ken Erhlich, who has done the telecast since the 70’s. I know Ken and he’s a good guy (his career began ironically on the Tony Orlando and Dawn variety series in the 70’s), but it might be time to change direction. Ironically, he was even gifted a Grammy during the telecast with NARAS’ Neil Portnow giving him the trophy in the director‘s truck!
In reviewing the show again last night, I think there were just too many acts; and, NARAS’ constant indulgence into geo-political areas I think is at times unwise and unwarranted.
Last year, it was the marriages onstage which to my mind, brought everything to a halt and this year, a message from President Obama about violence against women, followed by a very stark performance by Katy Perry.
Now, don’t get me wrong … both were stunning and great; but, rather I felt they did mesh with what was going on. I applaud their efforts, but it just didn't work.
BOB SIMON RIP – What a horrific story about 60 Minutes' Bob Simon, killed in a car accident this week. The 73-year old, who had been all over the world, was the consummate reporter. His entertainment interviews, with the likes of Angelina Jolie and Jay Z, just mesmerizing. He asked Jay if he was a drug dealer … and, if his mother knew.
It’s been a somewhat awkward year for so many reporters in the field (Steve Kroft, David Carr, Brian Williams) and now a tragic end for Simon. So sad.
WILLIAMS UPDATE --- Inside reports have NBC's Brian Williams devastated and most predicting he will not return to the network after his 6-month suspension. Also, during this suspension, he cannot do any appearances without written and verbal consent from NBC.
So, how does he handle his apology tour? How does he return? With Jon Stewart leaving his post, some pundits have suggested this may well be the right direction for Brian.
Also, some other interesting facts from the behind-the-scenes meetings at NBC:
*Senior NBC officials seriously considered firing anchor Brian Williams because he lied to his viewers about riding in a military helicopter hit by a rocket-propelled grenade during the Iraq war.
*During those talks, Williams failed to secure a promise that he can return to the anchor chair he has occupied for the past decade, according to our inside network sources.
*NBC officials were suspicious of the on-air apology, particularly the anchor’s statement that he had “made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago."
*“Ninety percent of the people knew it was not mis-remembering, it was making it up."
*Internally, Williams, 55, was fighting hard to preserve his reputation and his job. He was calling people at all hours, looking for some kind of an escape route. “They were clinging to the, ‘Gee I just conflated my facts here’ story."
*But his task was made harder because serious questions were being raised about stories he'd repeated for years about his coverage of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 — a career-defining, award-winning assignment for an anchor with a relatively thin reporting resume who was eager to cement his journalistic bona fides.
*Williams had made several questionable claims in interviews and a documentary: He witnessed a suicide at the Superdome in New Orleans, saw a body floating by his hotel in the French Quarter and had contracted dysentery from accidentally ingesting floodwater.
*But inside NBC, the Iraq fabrication was seen as the most damaging. “When helicopter crew members get shot down and you attach yourself to what they went through, it’s pretty outrageous,” a person familiar with internal discussions said.
*The idea of a self-imposed suspension was being discussed. Williams was giving network officials the impression that a self-suspension would be enough. But more information was coming in about New Orleans and the helicopter incident.
“It kept piling up, and his story seemed less and less credible,” our source said.
*“We felt it was very important that he come off the air,” our source said. “We didn't want to force him off the air, because we didn't want to be perceived as rushing to judgment. All the facts weren't in. But you can't have an anchor on the air while his judgment and credibility are being questioned on every front page in America. The priority for us was to get him off the air, not to demonstrate that we were mad at him.”
*As recently as a few days ago, Burke was torn between firing Williams and the lengthy suspension. For Williams, a suspension without a promise that he would get his job back was tantamount to a firing.
*This Tuesday night, the decision was final. NBC announced that Williams would be suspended for six months without pay. He reportedly makes $10 million a year.
*“It was very painful,” one NBC News journalist said off-the-record. “It was sort of like walking into a living room and someone telling you that your dad is not coming home. I can't tell you how much it hurts. We all worked so hard at establishing our credibility and it feels like our credibility has been badly damaged.
*“People are angry at Brian.”
*Many journalists, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that they were stunned by how quickly Williams fell from one of the highest perches in broadcast news.
They also said they were not surprised by the allegations that Williams had inflated his involvement in news stories and what he supposedly witnessed while on assignment. They said his exaggerations were an open secret at 30 Rockefeller Plaza and became an inside joke, mostly because they were not made on “Nightly News.”
*“There are few people who talk to Brian in an authoritative way,” a former top NBC news manager said. “There really wasn't anyone over him to say anything to him or to question his facts. There was no one managing him. There was constant changing to his whims.
“No one said, ‘No.’ ”
CLOSING NOTES – Next iHeart radio awards show on March 29 in L. A. at The Shrine Auditorium …
So far this year, there have been 4 magnificent bombs at the Box office: Johnny Depp’s Mortdecai (possible 20 million loss); The Wachowskis’ (The Matrix) Jupiter Ascending; Michael Mann;s Blackhat (a possible near total loss); and, Seventh Son with Jeff Bridges.
The Oscars in 9 days ...
We're leaving freezing NYC till Wednesday – stay safe!