I had an email exchange over the weekend with Ray Richmond, whose Hollywood Reporter column set off last Friday's brouhaha over the late Merv Griffin. He doesn't want to talk right now, but says he'll address the fallout later this week.
- After all the huffing and puffing in the blogosphere, Editor & Publisher did a wrapup of the story that got everything right, properly focusing on the curiously panicky behavior of the media rather than the specifics of Merv Griffin's life.
(Edited to add: Mike Signorile also gets it: "There is a story here that is now bigger than 'Merv was gay' and is very much about strong-arming the media. Will Howie Kurtz and our other intrepid media reporters get on it?")
- No one seems to be focusing at all on the fact that Richmond's blog, Past Deadline, has all the appearance of a personal blog -- but, according to him, it's actually a product of The Hollywood Reporter; they hold the keys and control the content. Wouldn't it be more transparent to put the Reporter's flag at the top of the page and indicate that it's a blog owned by The Hollywood Reporter?
- Nikki Finke reported that The Hollywood Reporter's new editor, Elizabeth Guider, was out of town when all this happened. I understand that she was visiting New Orleans and trying to manage all of this from down there.
- The Los Angeles Times, which I would expect to sink its teeth into an industry dustup like this one, hasn't touched the story. I'll be curious to see if The Washington Post's media critic Howard Kurtz addresses it during his scheduled online chat tomorrow. (Edited 8/20/07 3:27 pm to add: According to the CNN transcript, Kurtz ignored the topic during his regular Sunday morning media-critique show Reliable Sources, which the network describes as "one of television's only regular programs to examine how journalists do their jobs and how the media affect the stories they cover.")
- Seems that by attempting to quash the piece, everyone involved just gave it wider circulation. Nice work. Even at four days old, Richmond's story is still the most emailed story on THR's website:
- Unlike The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters still hasn't restored the column in question, nor has any editor there addressed the questions still outstanding on their ombuds-site:
- Did anyone representing either Merv Griffin or The Hollywood Reporter contact the Reuters news desk and request that it be pulled? Or was this something you decided on your own?
- Have any other Richmond columns not met your standards for news? If so, which ones and why?
- Still haven't read of anyone challenging the facts of Richmond's original column -- just its propriety and taste, running as it did on the day of Griffin's funeral, where he was eulogized by California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. (Richmond said the timing was unintentional.)
- Rereading Dennis McLellan's L.A. Times obituary of Griffin, this sentence jumped out at me:
An entertainer-turned-entrepreneur, who sold Merv Griffin Enterprises to Coca-Cola Co. for $250 million in 1986 and recently was reported to have a net worth of $1.6 billion, Griffin presided over an array of business endeavors.
$1.6 billion? I think everyone knew Griffin was a rich man, but I had no idea. That's a lot of money.
And a lot of power.