Current TV adds Olbermann to shake things up

The tectonic plates of the American media landscape are starting to shift once again.

Two major events have given me a new spirit of hope in news media, both occurring this week. And both by Tuesday!

First off, Keith Olbermann, the former liberal host of MSNBC‘s “Countdown” announced that he will be starting a new show on Current TV, the fledgling entertainment and world affairs network founded by former Vice President Al Gore and businessman Joel Hyatt in 2005.

Olbermann told reporters on a conference call Tuesday morning that it will be an “amplified and stronger version of the show that I just did.”

But the even bigger news here is that Olbermann will become Current Media’s Chief News Officer and take an equity stake in the company. Meaning he will be up there with Joel, Al and CEO Mark Rosenthal as one of the hotshots.

Current’s own employees didn’t know a thing until the New York Times announced it.

At least that’s what Mariana Van Zeller, one of the investigative reporters in Current’s investigative documentary series “Vanguard“, told me today in an e-mail.

Keep an eye on this five-year-old channel, because despite setbacks and low ratings, (around 25,000 viewers during prime time) shows like Vanguard, infoMania and now Olbermann’s are worthy of your attention.

Full disclosure of course: I interned for Vanguard in 2009. Blogged about my experience here and also contributed to Current’s news blog here and here.

Read more about Current’s reinvention here from MediaBistro.

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NEXT UP: AOL + HuffPost = a reinvention of the news wheel?

Pomplamoose get’s loose

In a land of constant pop culture re-hash, POMPLAMOOSE stands apart from the usual viral video stars splattered all over the Internet.

The couple, Nataly Dawn and Jack Conte, have been making “videosongs” together on YouTube since 2008.

I just discovered them on Current.com and I can’t get enough of their sweet, pop-funk-jazz medlies, most of which are covers of famous songs.

We’ve got “Telephone”, “Put A Ring On It”, “Beat It”, and even some Earth, Wind & Fire and Nat King Cole.

After reeling from last week’s Lady GaGa/Beyoncé epic, 9-minute “Telephone” video slash commercial, I was excited to hear a rendition of the unfortunate song that I actually enjoyed listening to.

The Top 40 single’s substance is no better, but seeing Dawn’s soft green eyes stare plainly into the camera while boyfriend Conte bounces on the drums during stylistic edits is an absolute joy.

And both musicians are multi-instrumental: Dawn takes vocals and bass, while Conte can be seen on drums, guitar, keys, effects, xylophone and even accordion.

You can download a whole bunch of Pomplamoose cover songs for free HERE. Do it now!

Education Schmeducation

EDUCATION SCHMEDUCATION? GOVERNOR DOES SOMETHING TO HELP CA SCHOOLS

Not everyone is as happy as Arnold is about California's public education system.


Originally published HERE 1/12/10 on Current.com’s News Blog:

Finally: a step in the right direction toward bringing public higher education in California out of the gutter.

The Governator last week proposed significant legislation calling for a reshaping of priorities, so that California will “never again” spend more on prison uniforms than on caps and gowns.

It will not alleviate the sunshine state’s education crisis immediately. But as long as we’re spending more on kids than criminals, we can all sleep a little better at night. Right?

Cuts to public education in this state have caused both outrage and outcry — near riots at UCLA, “Save the CSU” protest rallies in Long Beach.

No one likes paying more for less, yet that’s exactly what many of California’s college students have been faced with in the last year.

A former Cal State student myself, I managed to escape (graduate) just as things went south. But I can’t imagine what my friends and former classmates are experiencing right now.

So much for paving the way for future generations, eh?

California’s public universities have been giving students and teachers fewer days of school to save precious funding through “furlough days.”

All this while cutting programs, increasing class sizes and raising tuition as much as 15 to 35 percent.

Today’s students are now burdened with a whole new set of pressures.

And I’m not talking about final exams.

Living on your own? Finding a career? Paying off student loans?

Naw. How about making sure the courses you need to graduate are still being offered? Unlucky freshmen may even find their majors dissolved before they make it to upper division.

Skeptics will write this off as too little too late. But at this point, almost anything is a good thing.

Keep it coming Arnold.

*Reshaping Priorities from Prisons to Universities:  http://bit.ly/6wBBLW

*Find the latest CA info here: http://gov.ca.gov/

Keeping it Current

one of current tv's hollywood buildings

one of current tv's hollywood buildings

Started my first week interning at Current TV, with the Vanguard journalism dept.

A radical group of people for sure…I hope to get in the know.

As expected, a laid-back, hip, young office vibe. But they’re true to their work and are on top of their game.

And on day 2, I got to watch porn….while eating donuts! The thanks goes to Christof, the Current correspondent working on a documentary on the porn industry for the new season of Vanguard, starting Oct. 22.

[Emmy-nominated investigative documentary series, it seems is what we call Vanguard]

I watched — well, fast forwarded through the explicit scenes and slowed down for the dialogue — “Space Nuts” and “Curse Eternal,” two “big” budget pornographic flicks. I say “big” because I’m not sure the size of the budgets nor the comparison to Hollywood films….I didn’t realize there was really a story here until today. Makes sense though – the “real” acting and art that goes into porno DVDs is being undercut by Internet profiteers in the porn biz and gonzo porn stuff.

Sex aside, being behind the scenes a very interesting company that puts out really excellent documentaries and media for the 18-34 demographic should prove quite awesome and hopefully fruitful.

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IN MUSIC THIS WEEK: Because I can’t blog enough about all the artists I want to, you need to check out the latest from Mute Math, Muse, Imogen Heap and Bat For Lashes.

I heard “Backfire” from Mute Math @ The Press in Claremont tonight, which was surprising but awesome. Saw these guys open for Mae freshman year of college at The Glasshouse in Pomona. Only caught the end of their set, but I was immediately impressed: weird noises, a proggy Radiohead feel, melodic verses, fast-paced beats, catchy keyboard and guitar riffs, with a soothing Coldplay-esque voice that can lull you to sleep and get you dancing all at the same time.

>>download the title track, “Armistice,” from the widget on the right! Listen more on LaLa or Myspace

Imogen Heap and Bat For Lashes are my latest lady obsessions, both creating definitively unique sounds through synthesizer manipulation contrasting organic instrumentation like ethnic drums and chimes. I highly, highly recommend. Especially if you’re looking for something. They’re eye-openers. Also caught BfL @ Outside Lands San Francisco a few weeks ago. Couldn’t tell if the girl was hot or not! Girlfriend and I couldn’t quite figure her out. See for yourself below:

batforlashes