Archive for the ‘Professional Services’ category

Friday Dolan Media on My Mind

11-16-07

Long Island Business News’ publisher John Kominicki uses the announcement of FTC fines against telemarketers that defy the Do-Not-Call list to illustrate the maxim No good deed goes unpunished:

To be honest, it’s the not-for-profits that bother me the most. My wife and I give to many causes, but we like to do it locally and as anonymously as possible. Our thanks is often a steady stream of calls asking for more.

Let that be a warning to you: Give a dollar over the phone to the vets, Civil War widows or public television and you will be hounded without mercy.

The typical call goes something like this:

“Hello, Mister … Kernacko? No, wait … Kamikoko?

“It’s Kominicki.”

“Yes, I’m calling on behalf of Channel 437. Last year, Mr. Kackinocki, you pledged $250 and we sent you the fabulous three-DVD set Judy Garland: The Demerol Years.”

“Yes, I remember that. But I already sent you $250 this year – just last month, I believe.”

“Oh yes, Mr. Kimchinicki, but you know the cost of providing wonderful, commercial-free programming like ours goes up and up and we’re wondering if you’d be willing to send us an additional $500.”

“Didn’t Ray Kroc’s widow just leave you, like, $700 billion?”

“Thank you, Mr. Komatahari. We’ll charge the credit card we have on file, and as our way of saying thank you, we’re going to send you the new Yanni CD.”

“Yanni has a new CD?”

“Thank you again for supporting Channel 437. We’ll be sure to call next year.”

Meanwhile, New Orleans City Business‘ publisher Mark Singletary warns the Orleans Parish school system, faced with a massive post-Katrina reconstruction project to “be on the lookout for the infamous New Orleans ‘consultants.’ These ‘consultants,’ woven into the fabric of nearly every New Orleans public contract, have long stifled progress and promoted corruption.” Singletary urges that the new schools to “conform to community standards–hopefully another community’s standards….”

Minnesota Lawyer Blog is following a highly politicized controversy over U.S. Attorney Rachel Paulose, with the most recent posts here and here. Blogger Marc Cohen’s view is Paulose’s youth and inexperience has left her vulnerable to cagey veteran prosecutors who know how to play the media to make their boss look bad. The Paulose case has become a national story, with the young prosecutor seen by the NY Times as a symbol of ex-A.G. Alberto Gonzalez’ reign….

In Portland, according to DJC, some 257 architects and designers entered the Courtyard Housing Design Competition, which is what it sounds like. To enter, you draw a design for housing that includes a courtyard. Courtyard housing is “a style deemed more attractive to families with children than stacked condos without open spaces would be.” The winners were announced Wednesday night….

The University of Idaho’s Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival was honored yesterday by President Bush, reports the IBR. The festival was one of seven winners of the National Medal of Arts. Among this year’s other honorees: Legendary jazz guitarist Les Paul. The festival goes back to 1967 and has featured jazz legends as well as a student jazz competition….

Is this normal? Next Tuesday, the University of Colorado’s Presidential Search Committee will hold a meeting in Colorado Springs, according to CSBJ blog, to find out what kind of president residents want after the incumbent retires next spring….

Today, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens celebrates his 87th birthday, reports Kimberly Atkins in DC Dicta, making him the second-oldest person to serve on the nation’s highest court. Click here to see who was older….

(The Writers Mumble Inaudibly)

11-06-07

The Writers Guild of America‘s spokespersons are “potentially hurting their cause by being so slow to explain their side to the media,” according to Daily Variety, the showbiz trade publication.

The writers are “in danger of getting swift-boated,” the unsigned essay states — alluding to 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry’s refusal to defend himself against attacks on his integrity by a group of Vietnam veterans.

At CBS Television City Monday, a Writers Guild strike official shooed away a reporter who was trying to talk to a picket. The scriptwriter later admitted he was scolded for talking with the press.

Another reporter asked a question of a picket, who growled, “We’re not talking to you guys.”

Writers like to write. Apparently they don’t like to communicate, except for star writers who disregarded the instructions and talked anyway.

During the entire pact talks, the producers have shown a well-organized attempt to convey their point of view. But the Writers Guild of America reps are potentially hurting their cause by being so slow to explain their side to the media.

Many in showbiz don’t have a clear understanding of the writers’ demands or the reasoning behind these demands. And so far, the WGA leaders are not helping enough to get the message across.

The Wall Street Journal’s coverage also implicitly questions the guild’s “bold gambit.” (more…)

Baseball’s “Convenient Bogeyman”

10-22-07

For some of us, the upcoming World Series will be compelling enough drama, but there are many fans who will fret away the next few weeks wondering:  “What’s A-Rod going to do?”  If you root for a team that has an opening at third base or shortstop, needs a power hitter, and has a big budget (like my team, the Los Angeles Dodgers), that team might be tempted to make an offer for Alex Rodriguez if he leaves the Yankees.

It’s good-news bad-news.  You’d be getting the best player in baseball in his prime. But you’re also getting his increasingly grandiose, manipulative, arrogant agent, Scott Boras, who thinks A-Rod should become part-owner of his next team.  The New Yorker profiles Boras this week, and, yeah, modesty’s not his strong suit.  Speaking to a group of baseball executives at Baseball America’s annual banquet, Boras recalls saying this:

“What I told them all was: ‘You know what this business is about, guys? We’ve gone from, when I came into it, an industry that made, economically, about five hundred million dollars, and we went to a billion in 1990. We went to three billion in 2000. And now we’re near six billion in 2007. What it says for all of us in this room is this: We’re doing a good job with the game. We’re growing the game, as it should be grown. There’s a balance that’s needed in the growing of the game, and I provide the balance on one side, and you provide it on the other.’”

Boras talks about the value of being “very myopic in what you choose to pursue” in order to be “the best at something.”  However, he doesn’t always live by that code.  He’s currently floating a proposal to expand the World Series to nine games — the first two in a neutral city that would compete to be host, like cities compete for Super Bowls or the Olympics now.  Corporate hospitality, a “gala, like the Oscars” to announce the MVP and Cy Young awards… Even Marvin Miller, the longtime players’ union chief whose legal acumen made Boras’ vast empire possible, believes Boras is “forgetting what his real role is” with such suggestions.

There’s almost too much good stuff to quote, so I’ll stop with this morsel and let you read the rest yourself:

“We’re purists about the game,” Boras told me. “We’re about commitment. We’re about making you better.” He brought up, as an example, Barry Zito, the San Francisco Giants’ lefty who is known almost as much for his surfer persona as for his sweeping curveball. “What we did with Barry Zito a year and a half ago is one of my better pieces of work,” he said. “It was really about getting him to be him. I call him Zicasso. The thing is, he wants to pitch powerfully, and I’m saying, ‘No, you’re Zicasso! You got to be the artist-poet-intellectual. That’s what you’re out there to do.’ He feeds off it. ‘You’re Zicasso. You come out and you paint!’ ” He added a wavelike flourish with his arm to punctuate each new mention of Zicasso—whose performance in the past couple of years, incidentally, has not been discernibly better than it was before.

By the way, this is definitely a business story.  The combined earnings of Scott Boras’ clients this year? $295 million, of which Boras gets five percent.