Bob Simon: 1941-2015
When the week started we thought the big media news would be what is happening with Brian Williams, but then word came Wednesday night that veteran CBS reporter and 60 Minutes correspondent Bob Simon had died in a car accident in Manhattan. Simon was in a Lincoln Town Car going home from work when it rear-ended a car that was stopped at a stoplight. Police are still investigating the accident.
In his almost 50-year career, Simon won 27 Emmy Awards and several Peabody Awards and covered almost every story imaginable. Beginning as a reporter for CBS in 1967, he covered college campuses and political conventions. As a foreign correspondent, he covered the Vietnam War and political unrest in places like Northern Ireland, Somalia, and Haiti. He became CBS’s chief Middle East correspondent in the late ’80s and during the Gulf War he was captured and tortured by Iraqi forces. He was held prisoner for 40 days. Simon was 73 and is survived by his wife, Francoise; daughter, Tanya, who is a producer at 60 Minutes and often worked with him on stories; and grandson, Jack.
Brian Williams Benched For Six Months
Though the investigation is still ongoing, NBC has decided to suspend NBC Nightly News anchor and managing editor Brian Williams for six months without pay for not being completely truthful about a 2003 incident in Iraq. Williams said that the chopper he was riding in was hit by enemy fire. But as we all now know it wasn’t Williams’ chopper that got hit. A different chopper was hit and went down, then Williams’ chopper arrived on the scene 30 to 60 minutes later. Call it a lie, call it “misremembering”; either way, Lester Holt is going to be his replacement until the summer.
What makes this a not-so-cut-and-dried decision is that Williams actually did tell the truth about the incident the first handful of times he talked about it on air. Add in that he’s a well-liked guy and gets good ratings and those are probably the reasons why NBC seems to be saying that he’ll be back at the anchor desk.
But the damage might be too much for Williams and NBC to fix.
I wonder if we’ll see a plot twist in six months, a scenario where Williams isn’t “fired” but supposedly leaves on his own to do another show on another network. And I don’t mean The Daily Show. Sure, Williams would be great on it (he’s an extremely funny guy) but I don’t think he wants to give up his real news career just yet, and it would seem like he was trivializing all of the serious work he did for years and almost admitting he wasn’t a “real” news person and that’s why he’s now doing a fake-news show.
Jon Stewart Leaving The Daily Show
The day after the Williams news we learned that Jon Stewart will be leaving his show too, after more than 16 years. After he took over for original host Craig Kilborn, Stewart made the show into must-see TV for young viewers, pundits, and media people in general. Actually anyone who liked to see the media and politicians skewered on a nightly basis. No word yet on who will replace him when he leaves, which will be later this year. Comedy Central has been losing a lot of people lately (John Oliver to HBO, then Stephen Colbert to CBS, and now Stewart) but they also have a deep bench. Or maybe they’ll be pick someone completely out of left field, like CBS did when they hired James Corden for The Late Late Show.
I was a Kilborn fan. Maybe we can start a letter-writing campaign for Comedy Central to bring him back for a whole new generation, along with Five Questions and maybe even Yambo too. Bring back Yambo!
The Monopoly Game Controversy
So what’s the true story about the origins of the classic board game Monopoly? Supposedly it will soon celebrate its 80th anniversary because for years we’ve been told it was invented during the Depression by a man named Charles Darrow. The story says he created it as something for his family to play during hard times. But according to a new book, that might not be the case. In The Monopolists, Mary Pilon says that the game was actually based on another game created by a feminist activist named Lizze Magie, who was a fan of anti-monopoly economist Henry George and wanted to honor him in some way. Hers was called The Landlord Game and she patented it in 1903. It grew in popularity throughout the 1920s and 30s.
So how did Darrow come into the picture? Read the synopsis of Pilon’s book at The Daily Beast and find out for yourself. Or better yet buy the book. I can picture it as a movie actually. Pilon’s book, not the game itself, which is already a movie that plans to start filming this summer. Originally it was going to be a satire of the financial and real estate world directed by Ridley Scott but now it’s going for more of a Goonies feel.
I guess I’m one of the reasons why RadioShack has been in trouble that past several years. Sorry! I can’t remember the last time I went into one. It must have been over a decade ago. I think I needed some sort of special connector or something. But I never really had a reason to go into one. I wouldn’t buy a phone or a computer there, and they’re not the only place that sells batteries.
The 95-year-old chain has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will be closing between 1,600 and 2,500 stores. They’re also going to team up with Sprint for the remaining locations, which will sell Sprint products and services but still be co-branded with RadioShack in some way (Sprint/RadioShack? SprintShack?). The Harvard Business Review has a piece on why the two companies are joining forces. Or as the clever title puts it, “shacking up.”
Please Be Careful What You Say Around Your TV
All this talk about privacy issues on social media sites and a new “credit card information being hacked” story on the news every week has made us forget another form of danger: our televisions! Seems that some Samsung smart TVs (every piece of tech is now called “smart” if they do things we don’t want them to do) not only have a feature where you can control the TVs by using your voice, the sets are actually recording what goes on in the room and can send the info to third parties (but don’t worry – they have your best interest at heart). Luckily there’s a way to turn it off, but shouldn’t it be off in the first place and then we can turn it on if we choose to do so? I think we all know why it’s not set up that way.
This is all rather horrifying to me. I have this nightmarish vision of a future world where our appliances tell us how to run our lives. Our TVs will say, “You don’t really want to watch another episode of The Bachelor, do you ?” and my toaster will chastise me for putting too much butter on my bread.
If that wasn’t enough, Samsung TVs are also inserting Pepsi ads into movies and TV shows as you watch them. All that stuff we read about in science fiction like The Minority Report is actually coming true.
RIP, Lizabeth Scott
Just last week I was watching the 1947 Humphrey Bogart noir Dead Reckoning and couldn’t believe that his co-star Lizabeth Scott was still alive. But Scott passed away on January 31 in Los Angeles at the age of 92. Her death was just announced this week.
She was one of the great femme fatales of film noir in the ’40s and ’50s. Besides Dead Reckoning, she appeared in The Strange Loves of Martha Ivers, Dark City, Pitfall, Too Late For Tears, and I Walk Alone. She also appeared in the Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis comedy Scared Stiff and in several TV shows before retiring in the early ’60s.
Friday the 13th
If you’re the superstitious sort you’re probably FREAKING OUT today because it’s Friday the 13th. Don’t walk under ladders! Don’t get near a black cat! Don’t eat cheddar cheese while wearing denim! OK, I made up that last one but it seems to make as much sense as the others. I’m not sure if people agree on how fear of the day got started, but Wikipedia has a fairly detailed explanation.
It’s funny how now we can’t think of Friday the 13th without also thinking of the horror film franchise.
Tomorrow is the big day! For women, that is. The big day for men is probably Super Bowl Sunday or the day a new video game is released or a day we don’t have to shave (did I get all of the male clichés in there?). But if you’re the type of couple that celebrates on the 14th, here are some great ideas for Valentine’s Day dinner from Food Network and several more from Food & Wine.
Either that or just get some pizza delivered. You know your significant other better than I do. But definitely put the video games away for the night (and check out some classic Valentine’s Day covers from the Post.
Susan B. Anthony’s Birthday (February 15, 1820)
Thomas Jefferson Elected President (February 17, 1801)
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Published (February 18, 1885)
Read The Saturday Evening Post Archive Director Jeff Nilsson’s piece about the next Mark Twain (and Twain’s connection to the Post).
Pluto Discovered (February 18, 1930)
Is Pluto a planet or not? Here’s the official NASA viewpoint.
Astronaut John Glenn Becomes First American to Orbit the Earth (February 20, 1962)