Steele: Tom Schweich Suicide — What Really Happened

Tom Schweich

Tom Schweich

I’d expected to vote for Tom Schweich for Missouri governor in 2016…

Although I had met Schweich only briefly, I knew his likely Democratic opponent, Chris Koster, halfway well, and I liked the contrast: dweeby straight arrow vs. blow-dried sleazeball.

I was convinced that Koster had changed parties a few years back because he had too much personal baggage to run for statewide office as a Republican.

Yes, Virgina, Republicans do face more media scrutiny.

Doubt me? Ask Scott Walker. Ask Sam Brownback.

But there was much I didn’t know about Schweich,

Missouri State Auditor for the last four years. One very close associate described him as “high strung and thin skinned,” in this case a lethal combination for a gubernatorial candidate in what promised to be a difficult election.

Schweich did not see the political advantage in his own obvious lack of charisma. I’m told that a recent radio ad comparing him to Barney Fife wounded him deeply.

Schweich had another weakness.

As an establishment guy with a great Ivy resume and years of Washington experience, he understood Missouri’s Republican base no better than does his mentor, the increasingly out-of-touch John Danforth. Continue reading

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Hearne: American Royal Con Game Advances

The Pitch ran this pic last fall to illustrate how few people actually attend the American Royal

The Pitch ran this pic last fall to illustrate how few people actually attend the American Royal

Cross your fingers…

If Kansas City gets lucky – and I mean really lucky – the laughably ridiculous threat by the American Royal to move out of Kemper Arena and the stockyards will come to pass.

They’ll convince some other part of town or city into building a pint sized place to put on the Royal’s dying horse and livestock shows before the bite sized crowds that still subscribe to that dated form of entertainment and move on down the road elsewhere.

It doesn’t matter where the American Royal goes, just that it does indeed go.

Otherwise, the way the all too malleable Kansas City Council works, it’s only a matter of time until the small handful of local business big shots con them into making an incredibly bad deal for local taxpayers to keep the American Royal in the stockyards.

Trust me on that one.

Because short of a miracle, all this hocus locus about threatening to move the American Royal out of good, old KCMO is a total crock.

Nobody with half a clue actually thinks catering to a ridiculously small cadre of horse and livestock lovers is worth investing tens of millions of dollars – taxpayer dollars.

Once upon a time it was.

When I was a child the American Royal mattered – it was a relatively big deal.

However those days are long gone.

The American Royal ain’t NASCAR, nor are they Sporting KC.

People are not going to start attending those type of events just because they build something smaller and nicer.

Look at what happened at the Woodlands.
Continue reading

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New Jack City: ‘The Book of Mormon’ @ The Music Hall, Kansas City

 MORMON3rev-kwicks-slider-size-yoNEWNo display ads for the show in the newspaper lately…

Hardly any TV commercials either.

Did THE BOOK OF MORMON really make it to Kansas City?

You bet it did—and for a two week run no less!

The Tony Award winning show didn’t need the extra hype as it’s packing them in wherever it plays. Wednesday night’s performance at an almost sold out Music Hall certainly was proof of that.

Frankly I didn’t know what to expect.

All I knew is that I’ve been waiting to see the controversial play ever since it became the hottest ticket on Broadway, where it’s still selling out on a daily basis.

Did it deliver? Yes. Was it what I had expected? Yes and no.

One thing is for sure, THE LION KING it’s not.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Continue reading

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Steele: Book of Mormon or Book of Hypocrisy?

falseThe Star’s Robert Trussell is the rare reviewer to understand the historical significance of the musical, “Book of Mormon,” playing through March 8 at the Music Hall…

“Had the revered composers of shows we now consider to be part of the “golden age” of musicals peered into the future and seen what was coming,” writes Trussell, “their fastidious minds would have viewed it as a grotesque nightmare.”

Trussell accurately describes “Book of Mormon” as “an international hit that mocks religion and the conventions of musical theater with jokes about AIDS, female circumcision, dysentery and African poverty.”

This is all true enough, and in a more equitable world, there might be a place for such a play just as there is for Trey Parker and Matt Stone‘s amusing and perversely on-target film “Team America,” but this is not an equitable word.

An American citizen, Nakoula Bassely Nakoula, was deep-sixed in a Texas prison for making a mere trailer for a movie, “The Innocence of Muslims,” that questioned Islam. Continue reading

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Leftridge: All Hail King Sweeney

2007 Kansas City Royals Spring TrainingYesterday, the Kansas City Royals announced that Michael John Sweeney would be the 26th player elected to their Hall of Fame. This makes very good and complete sense, as Michael John—or “Mike” as he is more commonly called—was a good baseball player for several years. His inclusion into this semi-elite fraternity of greats seems almost inarguable. But if you’re a contrarian, or just like to be a dick, here are some things to consider.

Point: He was a five time All Star!

Counterpoint: Aaron Crow was an All Star. BOOM. But seriously, there may not be a player in the modern era of baseball who benefited more greatly from the “every team must have a representative” rule than Mike Sweeney. His first All Star year was 2000. You know who else was on that team? Carlos Febles. Ricky Bottalico. JAY WITASICK. (I’m intentionally leaving out Joe Randa, Johnny Damon, Carlos Beltran, and Jermaine Dye because they don’t prove my point.) Continue reading

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Steele: Some Questions for Kris Ketz to Ask Obama

Kris Ketz "Boy Wonder"

Kris Ketz
“Boy Wonder”

Score one for KMBC 9 News

On Thursday, anchor Kris Ketz will interview President Barack Obama at the White House and report live from Washington all-day Thursday on Channel 9.

It should be a real snooze fest, unless Ketz asks Obama a few of the questions that the rest of the media are afraid to ask.

Ketz might ask:

“Mr. President, what’s with the “042” Social Security number? You could only have gotten that if you lived in Connecticut, but there is no record of your ever having lived there.”

“Mr. President, the late Percy Sutton, a respected black politico, said on air that Saudi billionaire Alaweed bin-Talal’s lawyer asked him to help you get into Harvard Law. Any truth to that? If not, how did you get into Harvard? Your grades in college sucked.” Continue reading

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Hearne: One Up, One Down in the News Mag Game

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 3.20.52 PMSmall world…

Just as the Kansas City Star‘s weekly Sunday magazine was blowing taps, another newspaper weekly was  soaring to new heights, says former Star editor and reporter Jim Fitzpatrick

“That same day the New York Times redid their magazine,” Fitzpatrick says. “”It’s about three times thicker, completely redesigned and loaded with advertising. You ought to see that thing; I mean, they went all out.”

Star Magazine went to its grave with a measly 24 pages and barely four of those ads.

“The first 30 pages of the New York Times magazine were all ads,” Fitzpatrick says. “And this was the most advertising they’ve had in eight years.” Continue reading

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Lefsetz: Bill O’Reilly is a Puerile Bully

18k3jfhr70vzcjpgKarma’s a bitch…

They’re out to get him, but it’s Bill O’Reilly‘s response that has me flummoxed.

Why does everybody in power double-down? Why do they try and blow their attacker’s house down? It makes men look foolish, that they can’t admit that they are wrong, believing that he with the biggest megaphone wins. When it really just makes them look like blowhards.

I don’t care whether Bill O’Reilly reported from a war zone or not.

But the truth is O’Reilly’s such a bully people are afraid to contradict him. Continue reading

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Steele: But With Whom Will Michael Sam Be Dancing?


Michael Sam

In December, readers of TMZ were treated to the shocking headline, “I’m Not in the NFL Because I’m Gay,” so insinuated former Missouri star defensive end Michael Sam

“I think I was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year last year,” Sam told TMZ. “So I don’t think it had to do with talent.”

This month’s TMZ headline was more promising, sort of, for the would-be Jackie Robinson of gayness. “I JUST SIGNED!!! With ‘Dancing With The Stars.'”

Now there’s a headline that will have NFL general managers speed dialing Sam’s agent. Or not. Even TMZ, not exactly an insider sport hotspot, saw a problem brewing: Continue reading

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Hearne: End of the Trail for ‘Star Magazine’

Star Magazine columnist Cindy Hoedel

Star Magazine columnist Cindy Hoedel

And another one bites the dust…

After 45 years, the Kansas City Star newspaper’s Star Magazine is no more. The weekly tabloid was distributed inside the financially all-important Sunday edition where it bridged the divide between hard news, sports and entertainment.

Over the years Star Mag blossomed as a showcase for feature writers and photographers.

More recently, it had become something of a catch all for society schmooze pics that previously appeared (albeit more selectively) in the long gone “society section,: schmaltzy connection stories, abbreviated travel tips that used to appear in the now defunct”travel section,” syndicated items, flashbacks down Hippie Trippie Lane and snapshots of small town life, people and places .

Some of Star Mag’s profiles were good – like the one about jeweler Harold Tivol a few years back – but too many served as little more than excuses to promote various forms of diversity via writing about obscure, not wildly interesting people.

Speaking of flashbacks… Continue reading

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Glazer: The Seven Degrees of ‘King of Sting’


TJ Miller

You’ve heard of the seven degrees of separation…

Last night’s Academy Awards had several strange ties to Kansas City and Stanford & Sons. Most of all comic/actor TJ Miller‘s movie Big Hero 6 won best animated picture.

Miller is a close friend of mine and did his first headlining gig as a comic at Stanford’s at The Legends six years ago. In fact his mother’s from the Kansas City area. She along with TJ’s entire family attended all of his shows here the first time. And they attended most of his shows the next several times he came to do stand up at our club.

TJ’s career is off the chart.

Check him out on IMBD.COM. His film and television credits are second to none for a climbing superstar of the last half decade. Right now,  he stars in Big Hero 6, How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Transformers 4 with Mark Wahlberg. He’s also shooting and starring in The Deadpool and just finished Hell and Back. S

Miller’s over 50 credits include the movies Unstoppable, Get Him to The Greek, Yogi Bear, She’s Out of Your League, Cloverfield, Rock of Ages and, well, the list is too long. Oh, and he’s the star of HBO’s smash hit Silicon Valley.

I hired TJ just after he did Cloverfield.

He was a charismatic young comic and actor who grew up in Denver but had not headlined an A comedy club yet. Yet he was such a prince of a guy, and his family was so warm and kind. Continue reading

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Steele: A Nation of Jasons, Kander to Challenge Blunt


Jason Kander

Starting about 40 or so years ago, upwardly mobile Americans of all races, creeds, and political persuasions got it into their collective heads that they would be the first people on their block to name a son, Jason

“Jason” quickly became the most popular boys name in America.

This phenomenon lasted a decade. Then it ended as abruptly as it started. Saddled with such a fleetingly trendy name, no Jason that I know of has chosen to pass the name on to his son.

In the meantime though, Jasons are now hitting their prime years with a ton of parent-inspired self-esteem, an unhealthy dose of ambition, and nary an original thought in their assembly line brains.

Case in point: Jason Kander. Continue reading

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Hearne: Surprises Galore in the January 2015 Radio Ratings

KCUR FM host Steve Kraske

KCUR FM host Steve Kraske

Here we go, baby…

New year, two new news-talk formats and the game’s fast afoot in the wide world of Kansas City radio rankings. For starters we’ve got the same-old, same-old with classic rocker KCFX FM in the No. 1 slot.

That despite a significant  drop.

However, longtime country powerhouse KFKF FM nose dived even worse from a 7 share in December to a 5 share in January, dropping from second to 7th place in the standings. Or as Craig Glazer might say, “Yikes!”

Most of the rest of the “usual suspects” more-or-less maintained their ratings, so it’s not like KFKF got overtaken, it just sank like a rock.

KCMO FM – don’t call them oldies even if they are – also took a beating, dropping from a 7.5 share with Christmas music to a 4.9 share. Yikes again!

And of course, all eyes are upon news talk station KMBZ AM & FM. Continue reading

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Hearne: Reading between the Lines @ 18th & Grand

Eric Adler

Eric Adler

“Running a newspaper can be a rough business.”

So begins a story last week by Eric Adler in the Kansas City Star.

Understatements aside, it’s a tale of another area newspaper, not the newspaper of record in Kansas City. Hey, it’s a lot easier to pin the tail on somebody else’s donkey than the one you rode in on.

“So it happens when all five members of the editorial staff of the town’s weekly paper — The News Xpress — work to put a paper to bed and then, on that same night, collectively hand in their resignations,” Adler continues. “Then, just days later, they publish a brand new, competitive 16-page newspaper of their own, while opening an office only a few doors down from their former employer.”

You have to wonder – but not for long – what was going through Adler’s head when he sat down to write this. Given that the Star has withered in recent years from more than 2,000 staffers to 600-ish. And that it continues to decline both in substance and body count – the most recent layoffs and buyouts having come just a handful of weeks back.

However unlike the hundreds upon hundreds of Adler’s former cohorts who departed with dashed dreams and uncertain futures, the journalists who preemptively bailed in Butler, Missouri appear to have the upper hand on their handlers. Continue reading

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New Jack City: Hold On To Your Stubs, Here Comes the Bottom of the Barrel—The Razzies!

saving-christmasNot everything was glitz and polish in Hollywood this weekend…

Oscar Eve ushered in the 35th annual Golden Raspberry Awards—the RAZZIES.

It’s Tinsel Town’s tackiest trophy derby honoring the worst of everything the film industry had to offer during the past year.

And there was plenty to be trashed during Saturday night’s event at the Ricardo Montalban Theatre on Vine Street in Hollywood.

Here then the winners—no make that ULTIMATE losers. Recipients of the coveted RAZZIES for 2014. Continue reading

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Leftridge: RIP Harris Wittels

wittelsComedy writer Harris Wittels, 30, was found dead in his Los Angeles home yesterday from what was probably a drug overdose. Wittels, inventor of the humblebrag and producer/writer for Parks and Rec, Eastbound and Down and The Sarah Silverman Program was a funny guy and it’s super shitty that he’s dead. (He was, by all accounts, a genuinely good dude, too, and I guess that’s maybe more important in the grand scheme of things.)

I first discovered him on where he wrote monthly (for a while, anyway) pieces about “humblebrags” he found on Twitter. (The humblebrag twitter account was its own thing first; he’d find and retweet them to almost 250K followers. For Grantland, he’d pick that month’s top ten and then add his commentary. Check the link. They’re well worth reading.)

For the uninitiated, a humblebrag is exactly what it sounds like it is. Continue reading

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Valentine: Cowardly Cartoonist Cheap Shots Republicans


Original art by Mark Valentine

It’s hard to talk politics…

Somebody will not like you forever. And what you can get away with saying among friends is different than the things you might say around strangers.

For example, never make your political opinion obvious in a business setting.

You could lose a sale or a promotion. You might even get sued,

Unless of course you’re a political cartoonist.

Political cartoonists can go way over every line. The Charlie Hebdo cartoonist feared for his life and he sparked violence all over the world.

The satirical rag turned a profit for the first time in its history after a few people died at the hands of Islamic Extremists. Thus by all measurements, the cartoon was a success.

The Kansas City Star has Lee Judge. Continue reading

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Lefsetz: The True Meaning of ‘Stardom’

Catfish & the Bottlemen One of Spotify's predicted Stars of 2015

Catfish & the Bottlemen
One of Spotify’s predicted Stars of 2015


We’re impressed when you make it, and continue to make it. The more zeros the better.


Momentary blips are not stars, they’re comets. If you don’t last, especially in today’s overloaded, evanescent world, you’re irrelevant.


Screw the millennial teamwork/group construct. We want to see individuals triumph, it’s the American Way.


Necessary in art. You must have that something extra that intrigues us.


If you’re not pushing the envelope, you’re not interesting. Continue reading

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Steele: Underpaid Missouri Principal Breaks Bad

heroin-principalIf the case of former Hannibal elementary school principal Joshua “JD” Foust is indicative, Missouri educators are surely in need of a raise…

According to the 2012 listings, Foust, now 33, was making only $65,000 a year as principal of A.D. Stowell Elementary School. The obviously underpaid Foust had to moonlight to support himself.

The authorities apparently took exception to his sideline, namely the distribution of heroin. So Foust stepped down. He not only stepped down.

He took off. Continue reading

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Jack Goes Confidential: Kevin Costner Scores With Sports Drama

635500985690760008-XXX-MCFARLAND-USA-MOV-JY-3690-68240686Sure Kevin Costner turns in sound performances and usually scores well with critics…

Sadly though some of his more recent movies haven’t fared as well with the ticket buying public.

Both DRAFT DAY and BLACK OR WHITE under performed at the box office.

This weekend Mr. Costner returns to more familiar turf.

And with McFARLAND, USA he seems to be back in his element.

The movie is an inspirational underdog drama reminiscent of the likes of ROOKIE and BILLION DOLLAR ARM with shades of STAND AND DELIVER and THE BLIND SIDE.

So is is schmaltzy? Continue reading

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