Anderson Cooper she ain't: If you were lucky enough to be watching NBC's "Today" on Friday, you got to see another sterling example of why America is so quickly losing faith in the news media: Michelle Kosinski's live report on flooding from New Jersey. Kosinski, paddling through what at first appears to be deep floodwaters, is just beginning to describe that she's floating in "what is essentially now a part of the Passaic River" when two men walk through the shot, revealing the water to be no more than ankle-deep. (See the video: Windows Media; Real Media.) The clip ran just shortly before a segment on the staged video conference President Bush held with troops last week. (Associated Press, Newsbusters)
Cruisin' for a legal bruisin': The Church of Scientology, showing a profound misunderstanding of the way the media works, has threatened to sue a little-known New Zealand Tom Cruise spoof Web site, Scientomogy.info, over copyright infringement -- and thereby make the site into something well known. "You are hereby on notice that the registration and use of this domain name in this fashion has caused your name to be falsely associated with our client's registered mark, SCIENTOLOGY," reads a fax from the church posted on the site. It also helpfully points out where the problem lies: "The fact that you have changed one letter ('m' instead of 'l') does not protect you from trademark infringement." Now, in addition to the legal faxes he's been getting, the site's owner says he's been getting a lot of annoying calls. "The first few I was stupid enough to answer but now they just call and call and call. When I did speak to 'a church member here in Auckland' he kept insisting over and over that we meet to talk about my 'vendetta' with the church." (The Scoop)
One ring to aid them? This story rings a wee bit false, but it's a nice fantasy: Britain's Daily Star reports that Paris Hilton, in a move showing uncommon generosity and media savvy, has auctioned off the $5 million engagement ring she received from Paris Latsis -- with the proceeds going to victims of Hurricane Katrina. The winning bid is said to have been less than half of what Latsis paid. (Monsters and Critics)
Spawning innumerable "Beam me up" puns, a commercial space flight company has announced that the remains of "Star Trek" actor James Doohan, aka Scotty, are going to be blasted into space on Dec. 6. His family plans to hold an open-invitation party near Vandenberg Air Force Base the day of the launch. "I can't think of a more fitting send-off than having some of his fans attend this, his final journey," said his widow, Wende Doohan. One troubling detail from the story: "'Star Trek' creator Gene Roddenberry also had his remains shot into space after his death in 1991. They returned to Earth in 2002" ... Fats Domino, the Big Easy musician briefly feared to have been a victim of Hurricane Katrina himself, returned to New Orleans last week to find his house in ruins, with an early epitaph spray-painted on one side: "R.I.P. Fats. You will be missed" ... The next big celebrity sex tape may be a solo act: a self-made tape of male model Cory Bernstein having his way with himself has fallen into the hands of celebrity porn king David Hans Schmidt -- yes, the same man who brought you topless photos of Amber Frey and the Colin Farrell sex video -- meaning it should be available online any time now ... The wife of defense attorney and TV legal pundit Daniel Horowitz was found murdered at the couple's home in Lafayette, Calif., on Saturday night. Horowitz, a cable news fixture during the Laci Peterson trial, called police after returning home to find his wife's body in the entryway, and her death is being investigated as a homicide.
Steven Colbert steps away from a supporting role on "The Daily Show" to take on the news himself in "The Colbert Report" (Comedy Central, 11:30 p.m. EDT), and at 8 p.m. EDT, HBO presents "Last Best Chance," a worrying documentary about the possibility of nuclear arms coming into the hands of terrorists.
-- Scott Lamb