The Fix

Network TV shows target Bush, and Coldplay singer targets photog. Plus: Cobain's death -- and Courtney Love's motives -- reexamined.


Salon Staff
April 2, 2004 9:35PM (UTC)

Going once Justin Picken's hair
An ad posted on eBay Thursday is asking for donations to go toward shaving the head of one 17-year-old from Ontario, Canada, named Justin Picken. According to the eBay post, the winning bidder will "receive a photo and some of the 'bragging rights' to making this happen.'" When Salon contacted the seller, we heard back from Jason Woodard, a 27-year-old who says he's a friend of Picken's, who apparently knows nothing about the auction on his hair. Family and friends have been begging Picken to get rid of his shaggy mop for years. "Everyone wants to see him shave it," says Woodard, who says he offered his friend $50 to cut his hair. Picken demanded $65. That's when Woodard turned to eBay for financial assistance. "He's agreed to cut it," Woodard says, "but he's scared." How will he feel when he finds out his locks will be sent to the highest bidder?

-- Corrie Pikul

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Afternoon Briefing:
Bush bashing in prime time: The New York Times notes today that Hollywood writers and producers are becoming more overt in their criticism of the current administration. The scripts for television shows from "Whoopi" to "Law and Order" have contained pointed if humorous barbs directed at President Bush. One of the detectives on "Law and Order" refers to Bush as the "dude that lied to us." On HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" Larry David, playing a character whose wife gives him the OK to have an affair, gets to about second base, then backs out when he sees the woman has a picture of Dubya on her dresser. (New York Times)

Chris Martin channels Sean Penn: Coldplay frontman Chris Martin allegedly attacked a photographer who was approaching him and his pregnant wife Gwyneth Paltrow as they left a restaurant in London. The photographer said Martin kicked him from behind. Martin's spokesman says the man tripped. (BBC)

Robbins' tit for tat: Tim Robbins visited the gals at "The View" yesterday and, when asked about the new five-second delay rule instituted because of the Janet Jackson incident, said he'd like to test it. He then opened his shirt and flashed a jewel-bedecked nipple, to the delight of the audience. (IMDb)

Star signs: Soon you will be able to book a ticket to Berlin and visit two icons at once. Photographer Helmut Newton, who died in Los Angeles when his car crashed into a wall near the Chateau Marmont hotel in January, will soon be buried near Marlene Dietrich in the Schoeneberg district of Berlin. (AFP) And John Belushi got his Hollywood star on the Walk of Fame yesterday, 22 years after his death from a drug overdose. The star was unveiled by John's brother Jim, who said, "Today we are retiring John's jersey. He is a walk of famer, man." (AFP)

-- Karen Croft

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Morning Briefing
The plot thickens: The New York Post reports today that Peter Gotti's mistress, Marjorie Alexander, who was found dead yesterday, received a phone call from him hours before she died. The police have ruled her death a suicide, but Nassau County police officer Vincent Garcia said yesterday that "the homicide squad is investigating." Gotti was said yesterday to be shaken, telling his lawyers, "I feel an angel has been taken from me." (NYP, NYDN, Court TV)

In other Gotti news: Star newspaper writer Victoria Gotti, the daughter of late godfather John Gotti, got in trouble over a recent story on Jennifer Lopez, apparently fighting with Star editor Joe Dolce and American Media editorial director Bonnie Fuller. The story had been billed as an "exclusive interview," but the interview turned out to be with a P.R. man, and Gotti never spoke with J.Lo. Speculation about the fight swirled around the offices of American Media yesterday: "One source said that Fuller had always been afraid of firing Gotti, but had reached the end of her tether on Tuesday. Another source said that there was a catfight over 'work habits.'" (NYP)

Tale of two MSNBCs: Jon Friedman, "CBS Market Watch's" media editor, points out the significant split between the televised version of MSNBC and its online presence. The Web site is thriving, in great part due to its aggressive use of graphics and sensitivity to the needs of readers. The news channel, meanwhile, spends a lot of time finding recognizable pundits. "The audience wants to embrace more than a series of 'personalities,' who will shout and gesticulate on the air. (Remember the lamentable Michael Savage? How about another one-time flavor of the month, Phil Donahue.)" (Romenesko)

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Must be an April Fools thing: After vowing to leave us wanting more, Ashton Kutcher has decided to return to MTV's "Punk'd," to the great relief of MTV executives; Kutcher's show was the channel's highest-rated series. The show will return next month and air on Sunday nights. (Reuters)

Clarke outsells Trump: Richard Clarke's new book is doing well: Nielsen's Bookscan service, which tracks sales, said that "Against All Enemies" (excerpted Friday here) sold 129,617 in its first week, outselling "Trump: How to Get Rich" almost 4 to 1. To make it to the top of recent nonfiction book sales, it will still have to sell a few copies. The top three of the last year: "Living History" by Hillary Rodham Clinton, 1,546,000; "Lies: And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them," by Al Franken, 1,030,450; and "Who's Looking Out for You?" by Bill O'Reilly, 932,750. (Drudge)

The shotgun approach: Former Nets star Jayson Williams may get a mistrial over a mistake by the prosecution. He is being charged with killing limo driver Costas Christofi on Feb. 14, 2002, with a shotgun, and the prosecution waited until the last minute to turn over photos of the gun they intended to enter into evidence to counter defense claims that it went off accidentally. (NYDN)

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Turn On
Watch Bill Moyers interview John Dean on Friday's edition of "Now" (PBS; check local listings). Dateline NBC interviews the authors of "Love and Death," the latest Kurt Cobain book by Max Wallace and Ian Halperin, who renew speculation about the singer's death, and focus a lot of it toward the widow Courtney Love. Wallace and Halperin's previous book, "Who Killed Kurt Cobain?" claimed that Cobain might have been preparing to divorce Love, who had signed a limiting prenuptial agreement. The authors, and "Dateline," are hyping new tape recordings that allegedly will add new light to the issue. (9 p.m. ET; NBC).

Money Quote Daytime soap operas may be the next target in the FCC's "crackdown" on indecency after commissioner Michael Copps happened upon a scene in an unnamed soap while flipping through the channels recently. Addressing the National Association of Broadcasters Thursday during a summit on "responsible programming," Copps said, "It was pretty steamy stuff for the middle of the afternoon."

-- Scott Lamb

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