Family matters: George Clooney wrote a letter to the Cincinnati Enquirer in support of his father, who is running in Kentucky for the U.S. Congress. Responding to a letter from a GOP leader saying the Clooneys would "go down" with the ship (a reference to "The Perfect Storm"), George suggested that people should take a look at the candidate, not the son. He wrote, "Politically, my father and I certainly disagree on some issues. But what we don't disagree on is this: We should be judged as a country by how we take care of those who can't take care of themselves." (The Enquirer)
The California-er? The publisher of the New Yorker magazine just released figures on paid subscriptions during the last two quarters. The numbers show more total readers in California (167,583) than in New York (166,630). (L.A. Times)
Ain't love grand: A book of poems and several love letters from Dylan Thomas to his future wife Caitlin are expected to sell for a total of more than $50,000 at Sotheby's auction house in New York. One letter he wrote in 1937 includes this passage: "It's nonsense me living without you, you without me: the world is very unbalanced unless; in the very centre of it, we ... stand together all the time in a hairy, golden, more-or-less unintelligible haze of daftness." (Ananova)
-- Karen Croft
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Honoring a 31-year "lifetime"
There is an inexorable process in American culture that tends to grind all superlatives into meaningless dust, either by making big things seem small (a "child"-size soda that no child could carry) or, more commonly, making important things mundane ("new and improved" probably once meant something). Add to this list of demoted terms the once venerable phrase "Lifetime Achievement Award." It used to call up the image of an elderly master ambling across the stage to accept a career-capping award; it will now, thanks to the same cultural logic that has made Ryan Seacrest important, also be connected with Carson Daly.
Tonight, MTV is presenting the second "TRL Awards," just one among many of the channel's award shows -- MTV has made them into a cottage industry -- and will be "honoring" Daly, 30, for his "contributions to television, music and youth culture."
"'TRL' wouldn't have happened without him," said MTV senior vice president for production Tony DiSanto in a statement, "so when the time came to decide who gets this year's Lifetime Achievement award, the decision was clear."
As this is only the second year the award has been given, Daly will be joining a short list of honored recipients -- so short, it includes only Sean Combs, himself only 34. While both Daly and Combs have made names for themselves, it seems a little premature to start awarding them lifetime accolades -- if nothing else, they've both still got plenty of time to screw things up. Say what you will about Daly, he's no Captain Yun Ling Lee.
But giving out lifetime achievement awards is easy these days. Recent dubious bestowals have included:
Sofia Coppola (MoMa, 2004): Sure, everyone loved "Lost in Translation," and "The Virgin Suicides" was an amazing debut. But even Coppola, 32, probably still hopes her best years are ahead of her.
Mariah Carey (MTV Asia 2004): This one must be for "Glitter." Also, um, Asia?
Duran Duran (MTV Video Awards 2003): Whether or not you think the band is deserving of the award, the timing of it reeks of a shameless P.R. gambit, coinciding as it did with a new tour and new releases.
Charlene Tilton and Jay Underwood (Former Child Star Lifetime Achievement Award, Young Artist Awards 2001): Tilton, who was in "Dallas," and Underwood, from "The Boy Who Could Fly," have had long, solid and mostly totally unknown careers. What does this award mean?
Spice Girls (Brit Awards 2000): If this was meant as a joke, someone lost the punch line along the way. At an average age of 25 when they received it, for "outstanding contribution to the British music industry," the Girls had only two albums to their name at the time -- the most recent being "Spiceworld," which came out in 1997 -- and Geri "Ginger Spice" Halliwell had already long since split.
Chewbacca (MTV Movie Awards 1997): Perhaps this is where it all began -- a giant, hairy bit player with three films to his credit accepts the award, and Carrie Fisher gives a speech. "One of the most asked questions around here is, Why didn't Chewbacca receive a medal in 'Star Wars'?" said Rick Austin, who co-produced that year's awards show.
-- Scott Lamb
President Bush will be holding his first formal solo press conference of the year tonight (and the third of his tenure as president) at 8:30 p.m. ET (check local news stations). "American Idol," be advised: Because of the president's press conference, Fox has decided to delay the airing of this week's show -- on which, for some reason, Quentin Tarantino guests -- until tomorrow night.
Big bucks for Baba: Though it hasn't yet been confirmed, word is that Barbara Walters is poised to receive around $6 million to write her memoirs for Miramax Books, the largest advance in the company's history. Walters was said to have pitched her book to various publishers "over tea and cookies" at her "palatial Fifth Avenue apartment," but many of them balked over the high price because the book is unlikely to make much in sales outside the U.S. (Lloyd Grove's Lowdown)
Next! Just a few months after he and Sofia Coppola announced their separation, Spike Jonze has been spotted at a SoHo bar "in full canoodle" with Yeah Yeah Yeah's frontwoman Karen O. (Lloyd Grove's Lowdown)
Write on: There's apparently been much talk recently about when, exactly, Bill Clinton will finish his memoirs. "Leading Democrats" are apparently concerned that a release too close to the presidential election will divert attention from Sen. John Kerry's campaign. Clinton is said to be writing the book, which some say could come in around 800 pages, in longhand and calling friends up to read them long passages. The ex-POTUS's lawyer, Robert Barnett, says the non-FOBs should be able to read the book for themselves "in mid-2004. We will announce all the details when the time is right, and in the meantime we hope people will build up anticipation." (N.Y. Times)
Courtney, cleaned out? Courtney Love says that, last week, a woman posing as a cleaning lady burglarized her New York apartment. "She sat in the lobby for five hours and the concierge wouldn't let her up," Love said. "Then she got in somehow and took all the cash in the house. It was only $600, but the b--- got away with a bunch of bank documents, too." (Rush and Molloy)
Extra, extra: Publicist and ex-jailbird Lizzie Grubman has been taking meetings with the people at "E!" "Extra!" and "Entertainment Tonight" in hopes of getting a gig as an on-air correspondent. She's also opening her office door to MTV for two weeks "for a reality show based on her business." (Page Six)
The Rich life: How much does it cost to rent Denise Rich's house in Southampton -- the most expensive rental home in town? The price to rent the seven-bedroom main house, four-bedroom guesthouse, and grounds with swimming pool and tennis courts from Memorial Day to Labor Day just jumped from $475,000 to $530,000 when a "wealthy Russian" came along and outbid the previous would-be tenant. (iHamptons.com via Page Six)
-- Amy Reiter