Chilis Nab Grammy Nods As Predicted, Sun Media Update And False Antonia Zerbisias Report

As Don Cherry would say when he was proven right about something, “It’s hard to be humble.”:
From Winners & Losers Of The Year (2006) – Part Three:
“These future Hall of Famers (they’re only a couple of years away from eligibility) can look forward to nabbing some very important Grammy nominations soon.  I’ll be very surprised if Stadium Arcadium is not nominated for Album Of The Year.”
Indeed, The Red Hot Chili Peppers have had a terrific December day thanks to today’s announcement.  The 49th Annual Grammy Award Nominations were announced this morning and as I correctly predicted 5 days ago, they’re up for some important trophies.
As expected, their terrific Stadium Arcadium is up for Album Of The Year.  Their competitors are Gnarls Barkley’s St. Elsewhere, Justin Timberlake’s second solo record, FutureSex/LoveSounds, John Mayer’s Continuum and The Dixie Chicks’ acclaimed Taking The Long Way CD.  As an aside, uberproducer Rick Rubin participated in the making of three of these albums (the ones by the Chilis, the Dixies and Timberlake, whose album featured songs produced by a variety of knob-twiddlers).  He’s also up for Producer Of The Year (Non-Classical).
Stadium Arcadium is also competing in the Best Rock Album category.  (Albums by Neil Young (Living With War), Tom Petty (Highway Companion), The John Mayer Trio (Try!) and The Raconteurs (Broken Boy Soldiers) are the other nominees.)  It also nabbed a nomination for Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package.
The Chilis are also up for 3 other prizes, all because of one terrific song.  Dani California, itself, was honoured with nominations for Best Rock Song, Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal, and Best Short Form Music Video.
Recently, I declared Sun Media one of the Losers Of The Year and I’ve received some interesting feedback about what I wrote.  I was checking my Statistics yesterday when I found a link to a new blog called Fading To Black which just started up this month.
Fading To Black’s very first posting was a December 3rd entry entitled Getting Started.  It begins: “Everybody inside and outside of Canada with an interest in the down[w]ard spiral of newspapers has heard about the completion of Quebecor’s latest bloodletting at the Toronto Sun.”
The first line of the second paragraph read as follows:
“Dennis Earl has a nice history of Sun Media’s problems this year which puts a scary perspective on it.” 
If you click on “Sun Media’s problems”, you’re redirected to my entry entitled Winners & Losers Of The Year (2006) – Part Two.  (The portion about Sun Media is right near the bottom of the piece.)
I can’t tell you how great it was to be singled out like that.  It was flattering, to say the least.
As a result, I started exchanging emails with Fading To Black and have received some revealing information.  
Charles Adler, the radio broadcaster who initially wrote for The Winnipeg Sun and then, briefly, for all the Sun Media papers, was let go in June during an earlier round of job cuts.  According to FTB, although there hasn’t been an official explanation for his absence, this was done “probably just to save a few hundred bucks a year.”  That sounds about right.
Mike Ulmer, who used to write in the sports section, now works for The Toronto Maple Leafs.  According to FTB, Mike made his decision to leave the company “not long after the June cuts”.  He’s also writing a blog for the team.
And finally, there have been major changes to The London Free Press, the lone broadsheet in the Sun Media empire.  FTB told me that it’s turning into a tabloid based on information passed on from some of the paper’s employees. 
In my Winners & Losers piece, I noted the absence of columnist Chip Martin who hasn’t written a column since July 11.  FTB told me that Chip’s now just a reporter for the paper.  So, he hasn’t disappeared. 
Fading To Black mentioned that the LFP had to drop “17 or so” jobs in the “newsroom” and that a number of former employees ended up going the “buyout” route.   Those employees include photographer Dave Chidley who FTB called “one of the best news photographers in the country” and, possibly, editor Larry Cornies.  (In Larry’s case, according to FTB, “his name disappeared from the masthead” around the time of the job cuts.)
One last thing.  I’m now informed by FTB that the reason why Sun employees get $37.50 per appearance on SUN TV is because “that was what management and the union agreed on until the next contract as there was nothing in the agreement about appearing on TV.”  I wonder if that next round of contract talks will be filmed and aired on Canoe Live.  Now that would be “fun to watch”.
Early this morning, I was surprised to read an email message from Lydia Lovric, the former columnist for The Winnipeg Sun who once wrote for The Hamilton Spectator.  She had also read my comments about Sun Media and wanted to explain what happened.
She said she left the paper because the “[h]ead office” at Sun Media “wanted me to sign something that would allow them to run my column in any of the Sun papers, without any kind of compensation for me. Didn’t seem fair (not much in this business is, I suppose) so I decided to stop writing for them.”  After I wrote her a message to compliment her last column for The Sun and to acknowledge the difficulty of her decision to quit, she replied with, “It wasn’t really about the money. More the principle.”  She felt that, and I agree with this wholeheartedly, that no matter how often your stuff gets printed and reprinted you should be paid each time it appears in a newspaper.
She’s currently writing for The Vancouver Province but she indicated that she’s “not sure how much longer I’ll be writing anyway.”  The married mother of one is expectant again and the second bundle is due for arrival next April.  
She’s hoping to update her site finally (I got the impression that it’s been awhile) and “I’ll start putting my column online as well.”  
I congratulated her on her pregnancy and wished her well in the future.  
Contrary to what you might have read, Antonia Zerbisias’ Blog is still up and running despite many months of inactivity.  
Mark Bourrie, the blogger who loves to bash Warren Kinsella (who successfully sued the Ottawa Watch blogger for libel earlier this year), posted a false report about The Toronto Star’s Media Critic earlier today.  He had claimed that new Star management had axed her blog.  A link to the entry was posted on the Fading To Black blog.  (I received an email from FTB informing me of the piece.) 
The Ottawa Watch posting itself has since been deleted and replaced with a short comment from Bourrie who didn’t offer a correction but rather a confusing explanation about how his anger toward Antonia was misdirected to the wrong person.  I couldn’t make heads or tails of it.  Maybe you can by clicking here and reading it for yourself.  I have no idea where you can find the original, deleted entry.
Antonia left a comment on FTB, the blog’s first one, saying, “my blog is on hiatus until I decide what to do with the rest of my life.  For one thing, I would actually like to have a life.”
While she hasn’t made an official decision whether or not to continue posting entries on her blog (which recently won a Canadian Blog Award), Antonia continues to write print columns for The Toronto Star.  It was in her December 1st piece that she revealed that Toronto Sun TV Critic Bill Brioux had lost his job.  She told me in an email that he’ll stay with the paper until the end of January 2007.  Although she stated in the paper that she felt her pal Brioux lost his gig because “he had the eggs to mock the company’s pathetic Canoe Live on Sun TV,” (which makes sense if you know this company’s recent history of axing people who speak out), in a follow-up email to me, she stated plainly, “Bill got nailed because he didn’t have enough seniority.” 
Brioux was one of 16 Sun employees who lost their jobs during what Quebecor, Sun Media’s parent company, has said will be the last round of layoffs this year.  It’s too bad.  He’s a funny writer with sharp critical instincts.  His constant goofing on Ben Mulroney, another former columnist who once, rather stupidly, precipitated all of that when he took a shot at Brioux who was always mocking Canadian Idol, was always much appreciated and very funny.  I have some old TV Guide interviews he did in the early 1990s with Gene Siskel & Roger Ebert.  I treasure them and will never throw them away.  It’s bullshit that he’s gone early next year.  I wish him well wherever he ends up next.
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, December 7, 2006
10:14 p.m.
Published in: on December 7, 2006 at 10:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

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