Alex Ben Block

An Unlikely Public Radio Powerhouse

Jarl Mohn’s leadership of NPR is one reason he was honored with the 2016 Los Angeles Press Club’s President’s Award. This article is an expanded version of a profile in the Southern California Journalism Awards program, June 26, 2016 Jarl Mohn shows his 2016 L.A. Press Club President's Award to his wife Pamela moments after his acceptance speech at the Southern California Journalism Awards Jarl Mohn was a surprise choice in 2014 to lead National Public Radio. After all, this was the man who had helmed E! Entertainment Television, once helped lead MTV and VH-1 and had been a commercial radio Top 40 disc jockey. Then there was the internal turmoil and mounting challenges of the digital age. M

AN APOLOGY TO HARVEY LEVIN

When TMZ on TV started in 2014 I predicted it would fail because it would offend the Hollywood’s awards, event and PR gatekeepers. I was wrong. Harvey Levin has reason to laugh as he hosts the TMZ spinoff show "TMZ Live" in June 2016 with Charles Latibeaudiere Back in 2007 I wrote a column for The Hollywood Reporter about all the reasons a then new show called TMZ could not succeed. On Monday, Warner Bros. renewed Harvey Levin’s show through 2020. I was wrong. So I want to apologize to Harvey Levin. At the time of the launch Levin got on the phone with me and tried to explain why what he was doing was outside the box of everything else on television until that time. I argued that without a

Sequelitis Infects Movie Box Office

Can The Great Wet Hope (aka Finding Dory) reverse the slow start to the summer season in the face of a glut of sequels. It may but there are still a lot of reasons for movie distributors to be on edge. Disney's Finding Dory is The Great Wet Hope for the summer movie season Only a month and a half into the summer movie season, the slump in box office grosses is already transmitting danger signals about the health of the big screen business in North America and worldwide. While last year movie sales broke box office records, this year the summer season (from May 1 on to Labor Day) is down by nearly a quarter. The overall year is still up slightly, but for movie distributors a good year vs bad

When Screenwriters Swim With The Sharks

Hollywood movie writers have never gotten much respect and still don’t. Lessons learned talking to the writers of War Dog, Mother’s Day, Through The Looking Glass and Barbershop: The Next Cut The poster for the gathering of press and summer movie screenwriters, put on annually by the Writer's Guild of America, West SCHMUCKS WITH COMPUTERS At an annual press reception to promote writers of summer movies held this week in west Los Angeles, Writers Guild of America President Howard Rodman recalled the line famously attributed to Jack Warner, who called writers' “schmucks with Underwood’s.” For the uninitiated, “Schmuck” is a derisive Yiddish word for an idiotic person, and an Underwood was cons

In The Hands of The Greatest and The Fight Doctor

Recalling when I saw Muhammad Ali work out in the Catskills in 1976, tenderly hold his baby daughter, beat Ken Norton in a bitterly disputed decision - and then almost got mugged in Yankee Stadium Dr. Ferdie Pacheco at Muhammad Ali's side ; Ali with wife Veronica and baby Hana The passing of Muhammad Ali reminds me of the times I met him in his prime, especially when I covered his third ring battle with Ken Norton in New York City, and watched him train the week before in the Catskill Mountains. From the minute Ali agreed to fight Norton - a rare boxing event at iconic Yankee Stadium - I was immediately caught up in the fever pitch of interest and excitement. It was the fall of 1976 – the b

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