It strikes me that last week's official statement from L. Gordon Crovitz, publisher of The Wall Street Journal and exec VP of Dow Jones & Co., sounds like something less than a full vote of confidence in Uncle Rupert. Like this part: "As part of News Corp., Journal growth could accelerate across print and online." Could? "Journal reporters and editors will aim to do what they have for more than a century: Earn and keep the trust of the world's most demanding readers by delivering the most essential news and analysis." Aim?
Yeah, it did feel a bit hollow and boilerplate, didn't it? I heard, though, that Bob Christie, director-public relations at Dow Jones, successfully persuaded Crovitz to leave out this line: "As an employee of News Corp. -- and, therefore, a new corporate co-worker of both Bill O'Reilly and Homer Simpson -- I might be able to hold onto a shred of my dignity. But if not, I'm lurching for the ripcord of my golden parachute first chance I get, suckas!"
I noticed in a newspaper ad the other day that Tom Wolfe's blurb for "The Diana Chronicles," Tina Brown's biography of the dead princess, reads -- no kidding -- "It's Dianamite!" Really? Is that really the best Mr. Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test could do?
Yes, apparently that really was his best shot. It's worth noting, though, that before going with "Dianamite," he worked very hard on other runner-up options, including "Brownie, you've done a heckuva job writing this book!" and "I Wolfe-d it down in one sitting!"
I'm guessing that you, like everyone else in the Western world, recently read about or watched a news report about Oscar, the kindly cat who lives and works at a Providence, R.I., nursing home and is now famous for predicting when old people are about to die. I admit that, while it made me a bit misty-eyed to hear about how he offers cuddles and purrs to those at death's door, I also thought to myself: Somebody's gonna make some mad money off of this fleabag! Any news about Oscar projects in the works?
Yeah, plenty. Like, Hollywood definitely thinks of Oscar as Oscar bait. Hilary Swank, who is looking to collect a third Academy Award for perishing onscreen, reportedly is already working with a scriptwriter. The story's being tweaked a bit, though. For instance, instead of being set in a nursing home, the story will now be set in a zoo, where hard-bodied aquarium keeper Swank works -- before she dies tragically and prematurely, as eerily presaged by Oscar, who instead of being a cat will now be an adorable baby penguin. (Penguins are seen as much more award-friendly, thanks to 2006 Oscar-winner "March of the Penguins" -- and way more marketable, thanks to the Disney-sanctioned Club Penguin craze.)
Any career upside for Oscar the cat himself?
Well, notoriously Scroogey publishing czar Ann Moore has already signed him to a lucrative consulting contract. He'll be prowling the corridors of Time Inc. this December, helping to take some of the guesswork out of Moore's annual pre-holiday layoffs. Attention, Time Inc. employees: If Oscar hacks up a hairball in -- or just outside -- your office (i.e., closing your door won't work), your division and maybe even your entire magazine is toast.