How Oprah Goosed Weight Watchers Stock

December 22, 2016

By Karen

Here’s another perfect example of the media not doing its (math) homework. All Oprah Winfrey had to say was, “Hey, look, I lost some more weight!” and it became big news, no questions asked.

Oprah joined Weight Watchers® in August 2015, investing $43 million in the company in exchange for a seat on its board. By the end of January 2016, she filmed an ad claiming she had lost 26 lbs. eating bread every day.

I calculated she was losing 1-2 lbs. a week, which is reasonable, but hardly worthy of a media blitz, especially when you factored in how much Oprah needed to lose.

To provide some context, I followed the WW Points Plus® plan myself in 2012 and lost 50 pounds in 9 months.

So today we get this big announcement that Oprah has lost “more than” 40 pounds. Not “an additional” 40 pounds. Forty pounds total.

And if she actually lost “more than” 40, don’t you think she’d proudly give the exact number, like she did when it was 26?

So let’s do the math. She was down 26 in late January, and now 40 in late December. That’s 14 lbs. lost in 11 months.

Therefore, in 2016, her average loss has been 1.27 lbs. a MONTH. That’s 20.32 ounces. Averaging four weeks in a month, she’s been losing about 5 ounces a week.

And on that paltry progress, Oprah’s stake in the company grew to $77 million because the media didn’t do the math and put the story in proper perspective.

I’m really happy that Oprah feels she’s finally got the situation under control. I’ve been there. It’s a never-ending struggle.

What I have a problem with is Oprah growing even richer touting weight-loss results that would have most dieters in despair.

I once had a friend who’d say he could lose that much weight taking a good dump. Come to think of it, anybody could.


Page Six Reports the Bourdains Have Separated

September 20, 2016

By Karen

Late yesterday afternoon I got one of those shocks that feels like an elevator going into a sudden plunge when I read this Page Six article announcing that Anthony Bourdain and his wife Ottavia have been separated for some time.

I’d noticed Ottavia seemed scarce on Twitter. And Tony didn’t wear his wedding ring through most of Parts Unknown last season, but I told myself it was all jiu-jitsu-related.

Today, their separation is all over the media. MSN, E! Online, Us Weekly, even the Daily Mail in the UK. But they all just repeat Page Six without additional detail.

Thinking back, I don’t know the exact date I first discovered Anthony Bourdain, but I stumbled upon an early No Reservations on Travel Channel one night and was instantly charmed by his looks and wit.

I had no clue he was a writer until I found A Cook’s Tour at a remaindered book sale. On its cover I learned Kitchen Confidential had been a bestseller. I’ve been in hot pursuit of every book he’s published and have read them all to date. And seen every episode of his four travel series (A Cook’s Tour, No Reservations, The Layover, Parts Unknown). And his lamentable cooking competition, The Taste.

My first dedicated post in Cats Working on him was about his 2007 No Res Christmas special. It’s apparent I knew quite a bit by then, and Ottavia was intriguing me. I finally found her in February 2008. Thus began my regular chronicle of the Bourdains, which led to several personal encounters, most recently when he came to Richmond in 2013.

But sites like Eater and Grub Street began stealing my thunder and getting all the best scoop straight from Bourdain himself, so I stepped back. But I never lost interest.

I will declare with no reservations that Cats Working pioneered coverage of Anthony Bourdain before anyone else was paying much attention. If you search the archives, you’ll find a ton of his history, professional and personal.

I will try to learn more on this unfortunate development, but this post will give any Cats Working die-hard Bourdainiacs a place to comment. Tony has written about being at loose ends before he met Ottavia. This split, real or not, is no picnic for them, so please be kind.

Tony did appear to be alone on the red carpet at the recent Creative Arts Emmy Awards, where Parts Unknown won its fourth consecutive Emmy for Outstanding Informational Series or Special.

bourdain-creativeartsemmys

The show was also nominated for Cinematography (Cuba), Sound Editing (Okinawa), and Sound Mixing (Ethiopia).

Bourdain was nominated once again for Outstanding Writing for a Nonfiction Program (Borneo), but lost to a Netflix show, Making a Murderer.


Bourdain’s Got a Bone in the Throat: the Movie

March 20, 2015

By Karen

Not all fans may know that Anthony Bourdain was a chef/moonlighting novelist before he hit bestsellerdom with his nonfiction restaurant exposé, Kitchen Confidential, in 2000.

Bourdain published his first crime novel, Bone in the Throat, in 1995, followed in 1997 by another one, Gone Bamboo.

Over the past few years, Bourdain’s career hit critical mass and now he’s on a roll, with one success after another. I knew he’d arrived when his birthday appeared last year in the “Born This Day” list of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Anyway, actor Ed Westwick plays Will Reeves (called Tommy Pagana in the book), an aspiring chef who works under this guy, whom I don’t believe ever gets named…

The chef, the tallest one, was pale and thin, with long brown hair that curled out from under his chef’s hat. He held a copy of Larousse Gastronomique and was turning the pages furiously. He wore the hat high on his forehead and pulled straight back like a skullcap. A cigarette dangled from his mouth.

In chapter 18, we get more description of this chef…

His face in the bathroom mirror was pale and bloodless. Tiny pupils floated around in watery, bloodshot eyes. His thick brown hair was too long, sticking up at odd angles, and his sideburns were uneven…. One tooth was missing on the right side, but you couldn’t see it; there was one crumbling molar on the left, also invisible to the casual observer, and a chipped eyetooth.

The chef moved his eyes down over his naked, bony chest: protruding ribs, the stomach that was showing the beginnings of a paunch. He examined his arms. There were no tracks to speak of, only a small, yellowish bruise in the crook of his left arm.

Remind you of anyone we know?

Well, I’m sure the paunch must be gone since he took up MMA and lost 30 lbs., and his arms are now covered with tattoos.

The story for the movie was transported from Manhattan to London’s East End for some reason, and premiered March 14 at a film festival at the Alamo Ritz in Austin, Texas. Here’s the trailer…

The Austin Chronicle gave it a positive review.

Variety, not so glowing.

The movie’s official website includes some recipes, although food isn’t a central character.

I doubt this flick will ever make it to a Richmond screen, but that gives me time to reread the book before I get my hands on it.

Having read both novels years ago, I remember little about the plots. But I do recall laughing out loud at Bourdain’s sharp dialogue and vivid, witty descriptions of the seedy gangster underworld his imagination dwelled in.

Diving back into his fiction is one task on my To-Do list that I eagerly look forward to doing.


Is Brian Williams Finished?

February 6, 2015

By Cole

So Brian Williams suffers from fantasy flashbacks of getting shot down in a helicopter in Iraq in 2003, and talks as if it really happened. And soldiers who were flying with Williams in safety, and those in the helicopter actually shot down, had no luck ever setting the record straight.

I have nothing against Brian Williams. He can be a funny guy, personally. But as a trusted purveyor of “news,” he’s become hopeless. This “bombshell” revelation that he makes stuff up to stay in the game is unsurprising.

It’s sad if NBC considers Brian Williams “the face” of NBC news. Obviously, NBC, in trying to attract a younger audience that won’t sit still to watch TV news anyway, doesn’t realize it has reduced the Nightly News to a useless pile of lint.

These days, if Williams is having a good night, he’ll report current events for about 12 minutes, until the first commercials, then spout entertainment or human-interest garbage the rest of his time. We defected permanently after his leading the broadcast with football “news” seemed to become habitual. Regular Cats Working readers know why.

When it comes learning what’s happening out there, you can’t beat BBC World (with Katty Kay, naturally). For the American perspective, we now watch Scott Pelley on CBS. His delivery style can dry paint, but at least his priorities seem straighter.

Pelley talks about what’s worth knowing usually for about 18 minutes, through the second commercial break, and sometimes even for the whole half-hour.

In contrast, BBC World on PBS always fills 30 commercial-free minutes with solid world events, giving maybe 3 minutes at the end to a feel-good story.

So, to answer my original question, I’d say yes, Brian Williams is finished. But not for lying about his exploits in Iraq. He’s been irrelevant for quite some time.


Only One Appropriate Response to North Korea

December 19, 2014

By Cole

Does North Korea’s childish hijacking of the satirical comedy, The Interview, remind anybody else of that annual Dr. Seuss holiday special, How the Grinch Stole Christmas?

If you’ll recall, the big, bad Grinch whose heart was two sizes too small crept into the village of Whoville on Christmas Eve and stole all the trees, decorations, and presents.

And what did the Whos do when they woke up robbed? They celebrated Christmas anyway.

As Americans, we need to take a page from the Whos’ playbook.

Granted, The Interview’s best moments may have already been shown in the promo clips before Sony shelved the film. But since when do we let a Kim Jong-un tell us what’s entertainment?

Or cower at a threat from faceless hackers that reads like a satire of itself:

Warning

We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places “The Interview” be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to.

Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made.

The world will be full of fear.

Remember the 11th of September 2001.

We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time.

(If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)

Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

All the world will denounce the SONY.

More to come…

George Clooney is right. If we let North Korea win this point, where does it end? We might as well shelve the First Amendment.

The movie chains and Sony need to grow a pair and release The Interview on Christmas Day — in theaters, on DVD, and on demand. And movie-goers should make like Whos and watch it — and laugh even at the lame parts.

If Kim Jong-un can’t find it in that shriveled little raisin he calls a heart to laugh with us, then we can laugh at him.

PS to the hackers: If you want Americans to take your threats seriously, learn English.


Shame on ‘CBS This Morning’ RE: Robin Williams

August 12, 2014

By Karen

Thankfully, it’s not often I wake up to news so unexpected it leaves me stunned. My heart can’t take it. But it happened today when I learned that Robin Williams died at age 63 by apparent suicide.

When I turned on the TV, Matt Lauer was already into full sensational video obit mode on the Today Show, so I switched to CBS This Morning.

CBS happens to be the last network Robin Williams worked for. Just last season, he starred in The Crazy Ones, his first foray into TV sitcom since Mork and Mindy.

I watched every episode of The Crazy Ones because it starred — ROBIN WILLIAMS!

OK, it wasn’t the funniest, but Robin had good chemistry with his on-screen daughter, Sarah Michelle Gellar. From the outtakes closing every episode, it seemed they were leaving most of Williams’s improv skills on the cutting room floor.

My sense was that the rest of the much-younger cast kept pinching themselves over the chance to work with ROBIN WILLIAMS, and I believed the show would gel in its second season, after maybe some tweaks.

But CBS didn’t give Robin a chance to fix it. They pulled the plug on ROBIN WILLIAMS after one season, in a mind-blowing lack of faith that he would ever deliver.

After that, we read reports that Williams was depressed and checked himself into rehab. And now he’s dead.

And today Charlie Rose and Nora O’Donnell had the GALL to sit there, running clip after clip of Williams’ career — but not ONE from The Crazy Ones.

At one point late in the show, Nora mentioned The Crazy Ones, but Charlie quickly steered her away before she said too much.

Nora also said Williams was one of her favorite interviewees, and they showed a recent blip of him at the table — obviously there to plug The Crazy Ones — but they never mentioned that part.

NOBODY said a peep about the CBS cancellation, even though the sitcom’s “failure” undoubtedly weighed on Williams’ already-shaky confidence and self-esteem.

Way to go, CBS, you fucking cowards. Wail and moan over the loss of a great talent — whom you kicked to the curb like so much garbage just a few months ago. Go claim your spot in the journalistic sewer with the Today Show.

PS: Buried below a bunch of other stuff, I found that CBS did slip that last Williams CBS interview about The Crazy Ones on their website. Too little, too late.


Bourdain and ZPZ Finally Get Some Glory

July 15, 2014

By Karen

I seldom post about Anthony Bourdain anymore, but I’m still a fan. The man keeps his fingers in so many pies, it’s hard to keep up. I said a while ago that he’d hit critical mass and his success keeps snowballing, and there seems to be no stopping him now. We hardcore Cats Working Bourdainiacs can simply sigh and say, “We knew him when life was simple.”

Just off the top of my head, he’s got all this going in, in addition to Parts Unknown.

  • The Taste has been picked up by ABC for a third season and it’s casting now.
  • Mind of a Chef, which Tony writes for and narrates, starts its third season on PBS in September.
  • Parts Unknown has been renewed by CNN for THREE more seasons.
  • Bourdain’s planning to open a massive international street food emporium in NYC.
  • His Ecco imprint is publishing an eclectic variety of books.
  • Get Jiro! the graphic novel is getting a prequel (I’m waiting for that crime novel he’s been working on for years.)
  • Zero Point Zero is producing a new for John Walsh so he can continue to catch bad guys.
  • Tony has taken up MMA and trains at Ottavia’s studio.
  • Daughter Ariane turned 7 in April (seems like only yesterday he posed for a calendar holding her in one hand like a football).

Variety reported in May that Parts Unknown Season 3 initial ratings were down, but that didn’t prevent the recognitions from rolling in.

In May alone, Tony won a Voices of Courage and Conscience in media award by the Muslim Public Affairs Council for Parts Unknown Palestine. Here’s his acceptance speech.

Then Parts Unknown won a Peabody Award. Here’s a video of Tony talking about success.

This month, Tony and his ZPZ team got SEVEN Emmy nominations. Here are the categories and who he’s up against, in order by which I’m most eager to see him win…

Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
  • COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey
  • JFK (American Experience)
  • The World Wars
  • Years of Living Dangerously

Outstanding Informational Series or Special

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
  • Inside the Actors Studio
  • The Writers’ Room
  • Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman
  • Vice

OK, this next one has me scratching my head, but Tony’s long overdue for personal Emmy recognition, so I hope he gets it…

Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program

  • Anthony Bourdain, Host, The Taste
  • Betty White, Host, Off Their Rockers
  • Tom Bergeron, Host, Dancing With The Stars
  • Jane Lynch, Host, Hollywood Game Night
  • Heidi Klum & Tim Gunn, Co-Hosts, Project Runway
  • Cat Deeley, Host, So You Think You Can Dance

And the rest are for the ZPZ team…

Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown Punjab
  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown Tokyo
  • COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey
  • The Square
  • Vice

Outstanding Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown Tokyo
  • American Masters
  • COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey
  • The Sixties: The Assassination of President Kennedy
  • The Square

Outstanding Sound Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single Camera)

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown Punjab
  • COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey
  • The Amazing Race
  • The World Wars
  • Vice

Outstanding Sound Mixing for Nonfiction Programming

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown Tokyo
  • American Masters
  • COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey
  • Deadliest Catch
  • The Amazing Race

BONUS: Here’s an interesting interview Tony did with Smithsonian Magazine in June (and you know I don’t say that unless it covers some new ground).

Cats Working gives Tony three tails up and has all paws crossed for an Emmy sweep this year. There are two ceremonies, August 16 for Creative Arts, and August 25 for Primetime, and I’m not sure which will be his (maybe both).

Good luck, Bourdain. You’ve earned it!


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