Posts by Marty Kaplan

The Day the Earth Stood Stupid

Say goodnight, Earthlings. That message — plus the slimmest of shots at an eleventh-hour reprieve — was announced to the people of the world last week. When this happens in science fiction — 1951’s The Day the Earth Stood Still is the classic — the planet pays attention. The flying… More

Don’t Know Much About History

The reason that our financial system isn’t going to crash and burn again, the reason that taxpayers won’t have to fork over another trillion dollars of no-strings-attached bailout money, is — well, I forget. I haven’t forgotten the reason, because there isn’t any. What I’ve forgotten is that there is… More

Warning: Political Ads Make You Stupid

This is the disclaimer that Britain’s Public Interest Research Centre recently proposed for inclusion on billboards: “This advertisement may influence you in ways of which you are not consciously aware. Buying consumer goods is unlikely to improve your wellbeing, and borrowing to buy consumer goods may be unwise; debt can… More

American Idol or Dancing With the Stars

If you watched the CNN Republican presidential primary debate, you saw moderator John King ask the candidates what he called “this or that” questions. Conan or Leno? Rick Santorum said he didn’t watch either, but when pressed picked Leno. Elvis or Johnny Cash? Michele Bachmann said both, but noted that… More

The Naked Nielsens

The metrics are wearing no clothes. How would you react if you found out that the basis of your business model was bogus? That’s the nightmare that the television industry is finally waking up to, and I bet that online media won’t be far behind. The TV business is built… More

Look! A Woman!

It’s a 140-year-old Harvard club. When you join, they give you a rose to press and return in your first book. Among my proudest accomplishments: I made it co-ed. Here’s what I wrote about it as a curtain-raiser to this year’s annual Signet Society dinner, which honors its female alumni.  … More

Thank You, Norman Lear

  It’s just about perfect that the week that LA Gang Tours launches is also the tenth anniversary of the start of theNorman Lear Center. At $65 a head, lunch included, the LA Gang Tours bus trip through South Central is cheaper than Disneyland, and the prospect of seeing real… More

The Importance of Being Michael

“Why aren’t you talking about Michael Jackson more?” The question, from a caller to Larry Mantle’s KPCC-Pasadena public radio program “AirTalk,” interrupted a discussion of the budget mess in Sacramento. Actually, it was more a wail than a question – a crack about the Michael mania that had hijacked the… More

All’s Well That Ends Zell

Los Angeles Times owner Sam Zell didn’t file for bankruptcy because the newspaper business is being battered by the recession or by online competition. He went into Chapter 11 because of the irresponsible and boneheaded deal he made to take over Tribune Co. in the first place. Zell’s own financial… More

Meet the Purples! Decoding the DNA of the Swing Voter

Both Obama and McCain will make huge efforts on Election Day to turn out their bases — the revved-up Reds and Blues. But it’s still likely that the outcome will depend on the Purples, the swing voters in the middle. Who are they? Working with Zogby International, the Norman Lear… More