Golden Globes, Bernard Madoff, US Airways, Rod Blagojevich, Ryan Seacrest, Boy George and goodbye Mr. Bush
Mr. Pop Culture expands and now includes the last full week in news and pop culture. Now updated each week. Here’s a look at the week of December 8, 2008. To be published on mrpopculture.com
Media conglomerate Tribune Co. has filed for bankruptcy protection. The owner of the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Cubs and other properties has $13 billion in debt. Severe reductions in advertising this year because of the recession has put pressure on the company. Most of its debt comes from the complex transaction in which the company was taken private by real estate mogul Sam Zell last year. Although the next major principal payment isn’t due until June, analysts say Tribune has been in danger of missing lender-imposed financial targets.
A military fighter jet slams into a San Diego neighborhood Monday, killing four people and destroying two houses as the plane burst into flames. The pilot of the F/A-18D Hornet jet ejected safely before the crash, according to a statement from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.
The arrest this week of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich revealed alleged conspiracy and bribery schemes so brazen that veteran investigators and prosecutors could barely contain their revulsion.”The conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave,” said U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. In breathtaking detail, the criminal complaint describes the efforts of the Democratic governor and his chief of staff John Harris, who also was arrested, to “sell the U.S. Senate seat” once held by President-elect Barack Obama for a high-paying job, promises of campaign funds, a Cabinet post or ambassadorship or corporate-board seats for Blagojevich’s wife, Patricia.
The British press reports that British troops will begin pulling out of Iraq in March and be largely gone by July.
Households, hit by declining net worth, have cut back on their debt levels for the first time on record as loans remain scarce.
The Federal Reserve releases its latest quarterly look at consumer and business finances showing that households reduced their debt levels 0.8% at an annual rate in the July-September period, the first drop on records that go back more than 50 years.
The decline in household debt levels is evidence of the severe credit squeeze that is occurring as banks, saddled by billions of dollars of losses in mortgage debt, have tightened lending standards and made it harder for people to get loans.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan on Friday asked the state Supreme Court to remove Gov. Rod Blagojevich from office temporarily because his arrest on federal corruption charges makes him unfit to serve. The aide who was arrested with the governor on corruption charges, John Harris, dropped off a letter of resignation Friday and won’t return to the office, his lawyer, Terry Ekl, said.
President George W. Bush makes a farewell visit to Iraq, a place that defines his presidency for better or worse, just 37 days before he hands the war off to a successor who has pledged to end it.
David Gregory is named permanent host of “Meet the Press.” The NBC newsman is best known for his touchy exchanges with President Bush — who nicknamed him Stretch — and with administration press secretaries since being named the network’s chief White House correspondent in 2001.
Jay Leno, expected to hand the “Tonight” show reins to Conan O’Brien in May, will stay with NBC and get his own prime time talk show. The new show will be similar to the Tonight Show format but with more elaborate sketches and taped segments. And though giving Leno a prime-time slot protects O’Brien from competing directly with him on another network, it risks draining audience and top-notch guest bookings from the future Tonight host.
Paula Abdul says the Fox network and American Idol producers knew Paula Goodspeed had stalked her, and allowed the woman to audition for the show anyway. “I said this girl is a stalker of mine and please do not let her in,” Abdul said Monday during an interview with Barbara Walters on her Sirius XM radio show. Ms. Godspeed, a former “American Idol” contestant, was found dead of an apparent suicide in a car near Abdul’s home last month.
Michael Jackson’s glove is going on the auction block. The white glove, which inspired countless copycats, quips and Halloween costumes after it was unveiled in the 1983 video for Jackson’s hit Billie Jean, will be part of a five-day auction in April. Jackson is also unloading the grandiose gates that once led to his Neverland Ranch, along with more than 2,000 other personal items.
Passing – Van Johnson, whose boy-next-door wholesomeness made him a popular Hollywood star in the ’40s and ’50s with such films as 30 Seconds over Tokyo,A Guy Named Joe and The Caine Mutiny, dies of natural causes. He was 92.
At the movies –
The Day The Earth Stood Still
Quantum of Solace
Nothing Like the Holidays
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa