New Jack City: Sunday’s ‘Oscars’—Choices versus Picks

 

There definitely IS a difference!

My personal preferences are not necessarily what I am actually picking to win in Sunday night’s 89th annual ACADEMY AWARDS hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.

I believe the only real contest this year is in the Best Actor category where Denzel Washington (‘Fences’) is running neck-and-neck with Casey Affleck (‘Manchester By The Sea‘) and Ryan Gosling (‘La La Land’) for top honors.

If it were up to me the Oscar would go to Denzel Washington.

But reality should see Casey Affleck making the acceptance speech.

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Best Actress?

My choice AND pick is LA LA’s Emma Stone. No contest here.

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Hearne: More is Less at 18th & Grand

Day old news, anyone?

It’s taken awhile, but I think I’ve finally figured out why daily newspapers like the Kansas City Star make readers pay for national and international news filler in an era where the exact same information – albeit on a more timely basis – is readily available online or cable news networks radio – you name it –  the day before.

Think of it as more is less.

It’d be one thing if somehow that day-old information was rejiggered and presented in a more thoughtful, insightful manner.

Mostly however it’s not.

Generally speaking it’s just the same news most everybody who cares digested the day or evening before, repackaged in printed form and unveiled as if it were breaking news / cutting edge information.

Case in point:

The above the fold headline in today’s Star reads:

“Trump chooses McMaster as national security advisor.”

The only thing missing are the tongue-in-cheek words, “this just in.”

Seriously, it’s so last Monday!

The rationale for running the day before’s Trump news can be explained in part  by today’s secondary front page story about the Kansas City Library and Kansas City Museum teaming to develop a children’s museum at the old Red Bridge Shopping Center in southeast Kansas City.

Here’s the deal…

It’s not that the Red Bridge story’s unworthy, but with the groundbreaking 18 months out, it hardly passes for cutting edge news. And sans the Trump tale, it would have had to have served as the lead news story of the day.

Get my point?

With well over 1,000 staff cuts the past 10 or so years, the Star is hard put to offer up compelling local and area news on a daily basis.

And therein lies the problem. Continue reading

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Glazer: Fake News as a Way of Life

This just in… fake news is the new drug of the day…

With Twitter going nuts over things like “The world is flat” (a comment by NBA star Kyrie Irving) and the daily headlines about Donald Trump and Russia being business partners, fixing the election and taking over the world – any big story today is fit to print.

Uh, true or not.

We listen and believe what we want to believe. And yes, the world’s changed and it’s all Donald Trumps fault, right?

The Trump presidency has shaken the world.

It’s changed politics perhaps forever.

The American Presidency has become a daily reality show filled with both fake and real news – you pick.

Will things ever get back to normal?

Now famous celebrities are all talking running for high office – even Kid Rock.

What’s next?

We can’t even keep up with the daily sports stories that are over the top and often based on nothing more than a comment from a star who’s either joking, misquoted or taken out of context. It’s endless.

In Kansas City we are going through one of the mildest winters of all-time.

It’s late February but I had my air conditioner on this weekend because it was in the 70’s. Continue reading

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Jack Goes Confidential: ‘A Cure For Wellness’—Diagnosis: WEIRD!

Let me be perfectly honest…

There were several moments during this overlong – 146 minute – movie where I was ready to bolt, but didn’t.

The reasons I stayed?

No. 1:

It’s from director Gore Verbinski who had previously served-up three PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN adventures—THE RING and 2013’s THE LONE RANGER with Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp.

So there HAD to be more to this than what was playing out in front of me.

No. 2:

Curiosity got the best of me. Surely things were heading towards a crucial climax.

And did it ever!

No. 3:

Critics can never leave a screening they are reviewing no matter how badly they want to. It’s an unwritten law.

A CURE FOR WELLNESS starts out innocently enough with Dane DeHaan as a young financial wiz at a Wall Street firm sent to Switzerland to retrieve the company’s removed chairman whose signature is needed to complete a corporate merger.

So far. So good…… Continue reading

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Glazer: KU’s Self Stands Tall – Above Chiefs & Royals – as Top Sports Dawg

KU basketball coach Bill Self is in a league of his own…

Self’s won 11 straight Big 12 titles, with 2 final fours and one championship since 2008. Which makes him one of the all-time best college basketball coaches.

No question.

Does Bill need another Final Four to make him an elite coach? Many think he already has earned that distinction, but one or two more certainly wouldn’t hurt.

The Jayhawks just mounted a New England Patriot-type comeback against West Virginia. Down by 17 late, KU made a furious comeback and won the game in overtime.

Self and his Jayhawks got more national attention with this late season win than any other this year. It assures Kansas of yet another conference title and they’re ranked currently as a No. 1 seed for a March championship run.

Self is in a class of head coaches that this area has never seen before.

AS IN, THE BEST.

KU has two monster stars in Frank Mason and Josh Jackson. Landon Lucas has become their best defender and with Devonte Graham gives Kansas the nation’s best guard combination.

KU is ranked number 3 in the nation as of now with a 23-3 record.

Continue reading

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Lefsetz: End of Days for Apple?

Why don’t they just buy all the record labels?

Or Paramount and the rest of the movie studios while they’re at it!

That’s the canard we were exposed to again and again and again – that Apple and Spotify, all the distributors – were gonna become producers. So far it hasn’t happened. Because their shareholders would scream. Distribution is a predictable business, creation is a license to lose money.

They’re not in the content business anyway.

At least they didn’t used to be.

Netflix is the progenitor here.

They leveraged a replacement for Blockbuster – DVDs by mail -into a streaming service that was so far ahead of its customers, never mind the industry, that everybody balked. People were pissed they couldn’t get their DVDs by mail and Reed Hastings blinked and kept coming up with new names and new strategies when the truth is he was right to begin with.

You’ve got trust your gut.

That’s what Steve Jobs did – he never used consumer research.

It’s about innovation, new products, which you leverage down the line. That’s how Amazon got into the content business, via Prime. What else could they add to a two-day shipping service in order to get people to subscribe and buy more stuff. And now, Amazon has the Echo, an ecosystem which is driving further innovation and revenue.

WHERE IS THE NEW APPLE PRODUCT???

If you want to talk about music streaming, talk about Spotify and Amazon.

Apple is a zit on the ass of innovation,

It’s coasting on brand name and we’ve seen that movie before.

Are you willing to overpay for a Sony product anymore? Never. Continue reading

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Sutherland: Dirty Tricks Johnson County Style

Rooker

I ran into my state representative, Melissa Rooker of Fairway, last spring at the Johnson County Republican presidential caucus at Shawnee Mission East,.. 

I told her I was the author of a widely circulated (in Topeka!) kcconfidential post showing her as one of the three “weird sisters” from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, along with her fellow GOP mod-squaders, legislators Barbara Bollier and Stephanie Clayton.

(The photo used to illustrate the post was of a stage production of the play, depicting three witches, with a caption which read, “Melissa Rooker, R-Fairway; Barbara Bollier, R- Mission Hills; and Stephanie Clayton, R- Overland Park; address the Mainstream Coalition on school finance.”)

What I got in response was a snarled; “Yeah, I know who you are! Unlike you, we moderates try to be polite and respectful to our opponents!”

I laughed to myself and thought of all the times that Rooker’s overlords at “Moderate, Inc.”—the political old guard which ran local and state politics for so long*—sought to destroy me politically and professionally.

*Consider that Ed Eilert, Chairman of the Johnson County Commission and former mayor of Overland Park, has held office for 40 years, which means he will soon surpass the record of another machine boss, Mayor-For-Life of Albany, New York, the late Erastus Corning, 2nd, who was in office from 1942 to 1982.

This punishment was meted out by members of the mod squad, through its auxiliary units like the KC Star and the Mainstream Coalition.

My high crime was expressing my beliefs through press releases, letters to the editor, and running political ads at election time. Specifically, the late William Nelson, president of Boatmens’ Bank, and various senior editors of the Star, called the managing partners of law firms where I worked and threatened to pull their businesses’ legal work unless I was silenced with the threat of firing. Continue reading

Posted in Dwight D. Sutherland, Jr. | Tagged | 39 Comments

Hearne: ‘Phantom of the Opera’ a First Class Experience for Some, Not All

Let’s get the really big elephant out of the room…

Even after 30 years, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical The Phantom of the Opera is as pleasing to the eye and the ear as it was at its London premier in 1986.

In some respects even more so.

Because owing to advancements in technology, today’s Phantom no long relies on the spectacular dropping of the musical’s infamous, massive chandelier for high drama. In addition to the significant advancements in staging, enough pyrotechnics have been added to the mix that signs as you enter the theater warn patrons not to panic during the many explosions and gunfire.

Not a bad thought during terrorist times.

And while it shouldn’t surprise that songs like “Think of Me,” “Masquerade” and “The Music of the Night” hold up so well given the passage of time, the plot itself of The Phantom is a little thin, so the new backdrops and choreography help move things along swimmingly.
That said, I offer a warning to those, who like me, wait until the last minute to obtain their ducats while bypassing high dollar scalper prices.

Things can drag a bit from the cheap seats.

So if you find yourself in the back row of the theater – even on the floor – expect to pay a price. Because as good as the staging and music is, the degree of  difficulty in sorting out some of the dialogue and not being able to actually see the expressions on the actor’s faces – or even the infamous Phantom mask and his disfigured face when Christine rips it off, leaves much to be desired.

Opera glasses, anyone? Continue reading

Posted in Hearne_Christopher, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Jack Goes Confidential: Little Bricks Create Manic Laffs In ‘LEGO BATMAN MOVIE’

From the get go you just know this thing is gonna be off-kilter…

I’m talking, from the moment the Warner Brothers company logo first appears on the screen.

That and the films’ dramatic black screen opening, coupled with some very funny voice-overs, had me going before the first actual scene ever appeared.

We’re talking THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE, director Chris McKay’s irreverent follow-up to 2014’s original THE LEGO MOVIE which took the box office by storm to the tune of $469 million+ in worldwide ticket sales.

Can the Lego franchise repeat itself?

Who knows? But this wildly-entertaining second adventure comes mighty close, complete with a rapid fire, mile-a-minute approach.

Yeap, there are big changes in Gotham City as we find Batman on a personal journey to find HIMSELF—and learn teamwork in the process. Continue reading

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Hearne: 2017 Sucks for The Pitch

“This Week Sucks!”

Talk about ominous headlines. That’s the cover blurb that graced the January 19 to 25 issue of Kansas City’s alt weekly The Pitch.

Full disclosure: the accompanying cover art was a cartoon illustration of Donald Trump holding up a President of the United States pillow.

Funny stuff, right?

(Original, too.)

Who said the mainstream news media doesn’t mostly march in lockstep anymore?

Because when it comes to Trump and liberal issues of the day, you can pretty much count on alternative rags like The Pitch to mirror the thinking of “mainstream” news outlets like the Kansas City Star.

About the only thing halfway alternative about The Pitch these days are its use of the F word, the tasteless sex ads at the back and the odd criticism of the local newspaper for not being hard enough on Trump.

That said, the irony of putting a headline “This Week Sucks” to the right of The Pitch masthead is that given the paltry financial performance of the newsweekly – a mere 32 pages of content, less than 13 pages of which in paid ads –  financially speaking, the week really did suck for The Pitch‘s bottom line.

Look January is a slow month for ad sales, but when you have however few remaining mouths to feed – as in Pitch editorial and sales staffers – and you’re performing at these paltry levels, how long can you survive?

It’s no secret that major metropolitan daily newspapers and freebie alt weeklies have struggled mightily for survival in the Internet era.

However in the case of the Star, at least it can squeeze a couple hundred bucks a year out of its waning print subscriber base and a handful of million more from Internet ad sales and paid readership.

That’s nowhere near enough of course to keep the ship of state afloat without hemorrhaging staff month in and month out. Not much more than 10 years ago the Star had a staff of more than 2,000. I’d be surprised today if it was much if any over 400 (or less).

Ladies and gentlemen, those are French Revolution numbers. 

I digress… Continue reading

Posted in Hearne_Christopher | 19 Comments

Lefstez: The Reason We have No Protest Music Today

1. Mariah Carey

Bob Dylan looked up to Woody Guthrie, today’s nitwits admire Mariah Carey. That’s right, she hit almost three decades ago and dominated the ’90s. And what was her message? Empty hedonism sung by a woman with great pipes. So, that’s who today’s TV contestants emulate. They figure someone else will write the songs, after all if you know how to sing… Clive and company made all those other victors winners.

2. Income inequality

Everybody’s so busy struggling, they don’t want to take any steps that might hold them back. Therefore, if you get ahead, you want to stay there. Kinda like Taylor Swift, the biggest star in America. She’s been mum about Trump, because she doesn’t want to lose any potential fans. And if Swift is mum, what are the odds anybody else is gonna voice a controversial opinion? The best and the brightest avoid music, because they know the odds are long and if you don’t make it and haven’t been investing in your straight career you’re screwed. Only the poor and disadvantaged commit to music, and they see it as a vehicle out of the dumps, not one of self-expression. They want some of that money and lifestyle, and, ironically, those who make it hang with billionaires and emulate them. Our society is dominated by money, not culture. After all, we elected as President a man whose sole calling card is he’s supposedly rich. We used to elect big thinkers – no more.

3. No sense of history Continue reading

Posted in Bob Lefsetz | 10 Comments

Lefsetz: Long in the Tooth Super Bowl – Not Gaga – Rocks!

You’re sitting on the couch thinking how much you hate the New England Patriots…

How the whole event seems long in the tooth. That the commercials aren’t funny anymore and Lady Gaga is boring. And you’re just letting it play out, because with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick you just never know.

Then they started to come back.

I remember when the team was a joke, when they were still called the Boston Patriots and their stadium was a suburban dump.

I remember when our nation was shocked when Joe Namath not only predicted a victory, but pulled it off.

I remember when MTV counterprogrammed the halftime show. When all of America was addicted to television and football reigned.

Before the players were revealed to beat up their spouses and an overpaid commissioner in bed with the owners didn’t know how to respond.

Before it was clear that a life in the game meant a hobbled one thereafter – certainly physically, and oftentimes mentally.

Before our whole nation decided they just did not need the NFL anymore and ratings tanked. Continue reading

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Glazer: Scribe Celebrates Patriot’s Day a la Super Sunday

Unthinkable as it was, in the early 3rd quarter people were leaving Super Bowl parties…

The reason; ATLANTA 28 PATRIOTS 3.

Game over, right?

Wrong.

New England QB Tom Brady was still on the field and playing like nobody else has ever played the position. The Falcons began to tire, run out of gas on the offense. The Patriots began to hit every pass and move the ball into the end zone..over and over and over.

With the tying touchdown the Super Bowl went into its first overtime ever.

The Patriots won the coin toss and marched down the field for the winning score.

Final Patriots 34 Atlanta 28.

I could fill this page with Brady’s best-ever stats. Here are but a few:

BRADY WINS HIS 5TH SUPER BOWL.

No other quarterback has done that before. BRADY won his first Super Bowl 15 years ago, making it the longest run in NFL history. Brady won his 4th MVP award breaking his tie with former Chief, Joe Montana who had three. Continue reading

Posted in Craig_Glazer | Tagged | 12 Comments

Glazer: Scribe Anoints Pats Over Falcons

Tom Brady will start his 7th Super Bowl this Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons…

Brady and coach New England coach Bill Belichick have teamed up for what most would say has been the most dominant NFL team ever. In fact, Pat’s owner Robert Kraft said this week that he and Belichick have discussed how much longer he plans to coach the team. That they both now know when he will leave, but Kraft did not share that detail with the press.

And while most NFL observers feel that Atlanta has been the overall best team this season, the Patriots are a 3 point favorite.

Why? BRADY!

Tom Terrific has four world titles as does, Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw. However, this is his 7th trip to the big show. Many also say Aaron Rodgers is the best, but he has only one Super Bowl win.

If Tom Brady and his Patriots win this Sunday, Brady will have five championships.

Only Green bay’s Bart Starr has five and three of those were before the Super Bowl era,

Brady’s record may never be broken – seven trips to the Super Bowl as a quarterback on the same team. He lives at the Super Bowl. Another interesting fact is that Brady has had to get it done with several different weapons on offense and defense.

Brady and Belichick are the only constants in this incredible run.

And as of now NO PATRIOT on those past teams are hall of famers.

America seems to want to see Atlanta beat Brady and the Patriots.

Why?

So many fans are just tired of New England and Brady winning. Continue reading

Posted in Craig_Glazer | Tagged | 47 Comments

Glazer: Don’t Expect Much from Depleted 2017 Royals

The Kansas City Royals have lost way too many players from their World Series squads…

Too many for fans to expect the team to perform at its 2014 / 2015 levels.

Think about it…

Gone are Kendrys Morales, Ben Zobrist, Alex Rios, James Shields, Yordano Ventura,Greg Holland, Johnny Cueto, Wade Davis, Jarrod Dyson and Billy Butler to name a few.

One could argue that the Royals biggest error was keeping Alex Gordon.

As opposed to re-signing this past year’s World Series MVP.

Pretty hard to argue that one,  given the way Zobrist played vs. a banged up Gordon’s light hitting last season.

Look, it had been 30 years since the Royals mattered in the bigs.

Then bang, two World Series back-to-back with a win in 2015. Very nice.

Royals GM Dayton Moore and manager Ned Yost put together a ballclub based on defense, speed, relief pitching and the bullpen and it worked.

So now what are the Royals to do?

Starting pitching is an issue, as is hitting and the bullpen.

So what exactly will the Royals be great at?

Tough one. Continue reading

Posted in Craig_Glazer | Tagged | 21 Comments

Lefsetz: Sprint’s Jay Z – Tidal Deal a Joke

Why does everybody have to be a businessman?

I get that artists have been ripped off from time immemorial, but the acquisition and promotion of Tidal has proven that when it comes to understanding technology, artists are clueless.

However they are greedy.

That’s what this is all about, money. Forget the wannabes. Forget the middle class. If you think the winners care about them you probably think the Koch Brothers care about the little guy. The truth is when you make it in music, you’re exposed to a whole class of people much richer than you are, with lifestyles you can only envy. So you want some of what they’ve got.

Like your own private plane.

Like a vacation on a private island.

Like access.

You see, these artists want a seat at the table. Worst case offender? Bono.

Bono loves to hobnob with the government elite, believing he can make a difference.

Maybe if he writes a hit song about how the upper class is ripping off his audience he can have an impact, but he won’t do that because the dirty little secret is no one wants to offend those in power, those who can give them some of what they want.

Hell, that’s how Trump won – he channeled the anger of the proletariat, people who were pissed that everybody paying them lip-service ultimately didn’t do a thing for them.

Oh, don’t get your knickers in a twist, whether you support Trump or not. I don’t want to hear it, and the truth is no one is listening to each other anyway. Continue reading

Posted in Bob Lefsetz | Tagged | 2 Comments

Edelman: Salute to ‘Graduation Goodbye” & Drew Dimmel

If you were in a rock band in KC, circa 1966, you knew (and envied) the Dimmel brothers…

Drew Dimmel and his brother Doug were the core of The Classmen— the only group any of us knew who actually had a song playing on WHB, back when it was THE Top 40 station in town.

Their song “Graduation Good-Bye” was a solid hit– good hook, well-produced (that is until “Sergeant Pepper” showed up) and you could see the band at dances and clubs around town.

The Classmen were a clean cut band; no surprise, hailing as they did from Independence.

The other major rock band in town, The Chessmen, were the scruffier crew– like the Beatles and Stones. That band, from South KC, had a family connection, too– brothers Ron, Steve and Gary Hodgden and their cousin (or maybe friend– I’m hazy on that fact) Dave Huffines made up the group. Both the Classmen and Chessmen had a similar gimmick– the cute baby brother played drums.

My Dimmel moment came at the Boom Boom Room. Continue reading

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Lefsetz: The Eve of Destruction

I couldn’t watch…

People have been sending me notes all day, about Trump’s speech, about the few people in attendance.

I lived through the election of Nixon. The ’60s had brought so much positive change, we thought it was impossible to retreat. And the truth is, we didn’t.

We’ve got gay marriage.

For now, you can get an abortion.

And believe it or not, in many states marijuana is legal.  Amazing that we had a black president before that, but both were unthinkable back then.

The truth is, socially we live in a very liberal country.

Democratic principles win in the end.

It’s just that the ’60s ended and greed became good and there was a tear in the fabric of our nation far exceeding the gap between hippies and rednecks. It’s between the rich and the poor, and I don’t know how we find our way out of this.

The funny thing is you can be educated and poor – elite in thinking but empty of wallet.

What drove the revolution, what drove change back in the 1960s, was art.

Art is our only savior.

And if you noticed, very few artists wanted to show up at the inauguration.

That’s a start.

Because a true artist has a backbone and will not do what’s expedient, but knows that character is everything. And what you choose not to do is oftentimes just as important as that which you do.

However art has become about money. Continue reading

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Jack Goes Confidential: Driven By ‘GOLD’

Give credit where credit is due…

 Matthew McConaughey can change his physical persona better than any other actor I know.

Definition of persona: the outer personality or facade presented to others by an individual.

Think about it. From FOOL’s GOLD to MAGIC MIKE and on to the shocking DALLAS BUYERS CLUB.

We’re talking about an actor who’s back now with yet another transformation.

This one not so flattering; overweight and balding.

In GOLD McConaughey plays Kenny Wells, a big market gold prospector.

He’s the heir to his father’s gold mining business—but is now down to his last dime.

But NO way is he giving up! Continue reading

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Hearne: Everything Old is New Again @ 18th & Grand

So proud, so predictable, so last century…

In the wide world of news and journalism, few organizations are more out of it than big city daily newspapers – which of course includes our beloved Kansas City Star.

That’s kind of surprising in a way, given that the Star was among the first to embrace the cutting edge use of computers and – what’s that term? – the worldwide web.

That said, getting a handle on technology is one thing, learning how to think outside of a very small box quite another.

As evidenced by the recent trumpeting of the newspaper’s “new” editorial board. Which other than on paper, for the most part, isn’t the slightest bit new.

Oh sure, there’s a refugee, new woman editor from out town heading things up now. And of course, Star editorial mainstay Yael Abouhalkah took a long-overdue bullet late last year.

However four out of seven of the, uh, new board members are retreads. Which all but guarantees the editorial tail will continue to wag the Star’s news dog, given that the newbies have few clues as to the whys and wherefores of life here in the cowtown.

Not to mention ZERO of those four have anything approaching so much as  even the slightest conservative political leaning, let alone a single hip bone in their bodies.

Does the word “stodgy” ring any bells? Continue reading

Posted in Hearne_Christopher | 20 Comments