The Fix

"The Passion" panned in France, some Simpsons go on strike and Arnold goes to sex class! Plus: Mob mistress found dead -- and speculation flies.


Salon Staff
April 1, 2004 9:01PM (UTC)

Afternoon Briefing:

"The Passion" goes global: After weathering storms of controversy in the U.S. Mel's movie is opening wide around the world. Bahrain has banned the film on the grounds that it is anti-Islam. On the other hand, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have said the show can go on. In Kuwait, the jury is still out. (AFP) Meanwhile, most critics in France were not impressed -- from Le Monde, which said the film was "part of the worst fundamentalist trends of the modern world" to the Communist paper L'Humanite, which called it "incredibly boring." (BBC)

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Sir Richard wants to fire people too! So, it's not enough to run an airline, a record store chain and a cell phone company, now Richard Branson wants to have his own reality show. He's joined with the Fox Network to create "Branson's Big Adventure" on which contestants will fly around the world and be tested in dilemma situations by Sir Richard. As they fail, they'll be left behind on the tarmac while the remaining folks move on. Final payoff is to be determined. (ITV)

Simpsons silenced: Six of the actors who do the voices for "The Simpsons" didn't show up for work in the last two weeks, as part of their bid for a pay raise. Dan Castellenata, Nancy Cartwright, Julie Kavner, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria and Harry Shearer sat out a couple of "table reads" after Fox said no to a raise from $125,000 to $360,000 an episode per person. (E! Online)

Royal watching -- and fighting: Looks like the most eligible young man in the world has a significant other. Prince William has been seen around town and on the slopes with a former flat mate, fellow student and -- incidentally, catwalk kitten -- Kate Middleton. And those in the know say it's love. But The Sun is in deep trouble with the royal family because of the story with pictures they ran with the headline "Wills gets a girl," (against an agreement to protect William from media frenzy while he's in school) so now their photographer has been banned from all royal events. (The Sun, Ananova)

The tale of two magazines: Simon Dumenco's column in Folio today tells the story of two new publications at opposite ends of the spectrum. Cargo is about consumption (Lucky for guys) and has the backing of Condé Nast, and Tracks is an indie that covers music for boomers. Dumenco, after attending a launch party for Cargo, says it is "a journalistic enterprise sheared entirely of narrative" and that it made him thankful for Tracks, which tells stories about how artists create. (Folio)

Governor Arnold goes to sex class: Seems there's an optional sexual harassment class available to all statewide elected officials in California and guess who was in attendance along with his senior staff? (Sky News)

--Karen Croft

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Morning Briefing
Mob mistress found dead: The New York tabs go nuts today over what police are calling the "apparent suicide" of Marjorie Alexander, the divorced Long Island mother who was the outspoken mistress of mob boss Peter Gotti, who currently sits in jail awaiting sentencing on a racketeering conviction. The Daily News points out that Williams "was identified by Judge Frederic Block at a Gotti sentencing hearing last Friday as the woman who had sent him numerous pleas on behalf of Gotti for mercy," and that afterward said "she and the 64-year-old Gambino crime boss -- the brother of late mob godfather John Gotti -- were 'soul mates' and that he was trying to divorce his wife of 42 years." The Post, however, includes in its report (not online) that Williams' body was found "fully clothed with a plastic bag over her head -- duct-taped around her neck -- at a Red Roof Inn in Westbury, L.I." (The Post also got its hands on a letter written to Gotti's trial judge by his wife, Catherine Gotti, that -- contrary to Williams' letters -- urged a harsh sentence. "The powers that be, either here on earth or in heaven, have granted me three wonderful gifts this past year," Catherine Gotti wrote. "One, he was arrested, two, he was denied bail, and three, he was convicted.") Was it really a suicide? Fox's Roger Friedman, at least, doesn't buy it. At an event last night at Elaine's, Friedman reports that gossip and demi-celebrity Victoria Gotti showed up. "The daughter of late mob boss John Gotti seemed to be the only one in the room who hadn't heard the big news of the late afternoon: that her uncle Peter Gotti's mistress, Marjorie Alexander, who had made several public declarations of love last week in a world where secrecy is supreme, had been found dead, mysteriously, at a Long Island motel earlier in the afternoon," Friedman writes. "The police were calling it suicide. The regulars knew better." (N.Y. Daily News, N.Y. Post, Fox)

Graphic images: The big media story of the day is about covering the big news story of the day. Most news outlets are choosing not to show images of the charred bodies being dragged around the streets of Fallujah, but according to "CBS Evening News" executive producer Jim Murphy, "It's the biggest story of the day. There's no way to cover this story without showing the size of the crowd, the ages of these people, the utter joy they seem to be experiencing in mutilating these bodies and stringing them up on a bridge." (Wall Street Journal via Romenesko)

McEwan denied U.S. entry: British writer Ian McEwan -- whose "Atonement" was honored in this country last year with a National Book Award -- was "stopped by immigration officials on 30 March as he left Vancouver airport in Canada" without a visa. He was on his way to Seattle for a lecture. He was detained for four hours, before he was turned back. (Guardian via Maud Newton)

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Hesser correction: New York Times interim food critic Amanda Hesser has been taking a lot of flak over her recent review of Spice Market. Yesterday, the Times ran a correction for her story, saying that she should have alerted readers that she had a connection with the restaurant's owner, Jean-Georges Vongerichten. The connection? Vongerichten wrote the following blurb for her recent book, "Cooking for Mr. Latte." Vongerichten gushed: "Amanda Hesser's charming personality shines as the reader experiences the life and loves of a New York City gourmet. 'Cooking for Mr. Latte' is perfectly seasoned with sensuality and superb recipes." Hesser gave the restaurant three stars. (Page Six)

Kid really did yawn at Bush: A confusing turn of events following Monday's "Late Night With David Letterman," beginning Tuesday morning when "CNN Live Today" ran a clip from Letterman's show. The clip interspersed shots of President Bush delivering a speech in Florida and a young boy visibly yawning. After CNN ran the clip, CNN's Daran Kagan said, "We're being told by the White House that the kid, as funny as he was, was edited into that video," and apologized. That night, Letterman retorted, "Now that, ladies and gentlemen, as sure as I'm sitting here, is an out-and-out, 100 percent absolute lie. The kid absolutely was there and he absolutely was doing everything we pictured via the videotape." CNN now says the error was theirs, due to a "misunderstanding among staff." (The TV Column via Romenesko)

Mystic Gym: Clint Eastwood's next project, which he will direct and star in, revolves around a gym in L.A. that he runs with partner Morgan Freeman. The two are approached by a young woman, played by Hilary Swank, who wants to become a boxer. This finally explains Swank's recent exercise routine. (Ananova)

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"Morning Edition" stays without Edwards: Despite the public's vocal protest over the changes to "Morning Edition," NPR is not going back on its removal of Bob Edwards from the show. Mark Hanely, from New Hampshire Public Radio, says, "I don't think I've been to a public radio conference where there hasn't been talk in the halls about improving 'Morning Edition.'" (USA Today)

Turn On
It's been 10 years since the genocide in Rwanda, and tonight "Frontline" looks at the "Ghosts of Rwanda" (PBS; check local listings) in a documentary featuring interviews with those who survived the killing and those who failed to stop it. Starting: Penn & Teller's second season of anti-p.c., controversy-stirring "Bullshit" (10 p.m.; Showtime). Also starting, sort of: BBC America is airing the entire first two seasons of the Golden Globe-winning "The Office" (10 p.m. EST; BBC America) beginning with the premier episode tonight.

Money Quote At the party put on by the Museum of Modern Art to honor Sofia Coppola last night, Coppola admitted to nerves, and Kirsten Dunst burst into tears during her speech. Jim Jarmusch, as the moderator, found the easy and proven way to get around the butterflies: "I was drunk." (N.Y. Post)

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-- Scott Lamb and Kerry Lauerman

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