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"Real life" Grey's Anatomy

Scarborough Country" producer Kellyanne Dignan blog:  "Since it is Friday and we have six whole days until "Grey's" returns, I thought it might be fun to take a look at Hollyweird's "Grey Anatomy."
/ Source: Scarborough

Sept. 28, 2006|

"Real life" Grey's Anatomy
(Kellyanne Dignan, "Scarborough Country" producer)

I have to say I love Grey's Anatomy.  It just makes Thursday a little brighter. There are a lot of theories as to why the show is so popular. I don't pretend to be an expert but I think people relate to the show. At it's core it's not so much a medical drama as a work place drama-dy.

Since it is Friday and we have six whole days until "Grey's" returns, I thought it might be fun to take a look at Hollyweird's "Grey Anatomy."

Meredith: I've thought long and hard on this and this week I have to say Lindsay Lohan wins this plum role. Not only is she as skinny as Ellen Pompeo, her love life would give Dr. Grey a run for her money. Most of the week's celebrity couples news swirled around rumors she and Harry Morton were on the rocks. And then came a report she was out with Paris Hilton's ex Stavros Niarchos.  Lindsay, take a page from Meredith and learn to knit.

McDreamy: Oh McDreamy. He is so late to the party. I am thrilled to see behavior this season I would have liked to see last season, and I guess better late than never. He's just that bad boy you want to see succeed. Kind of like Charlie Sheen. After a summer of nasty divorce allegations, he and Denise Richards are on decent terms and he is the highest paid guy on TV.  Looks like a good season ahead.

Addison: I love Addison, and she definitely gets picked on. This week I have to join the pack and nominate Paris Hilton. McDreamy's soon-to-be ex spent most of last night's episode drinking, and our girl Paris spent it at Oktoberfest. Oh, and of course there was that pesky DUI charge.

George and Callie: I am just hoping and praying this couple can make it. It's sort of how I feel about Rachel Bilson and Adam Brody.  They are just so cute. Sadly, jealousy may sink both.

The Chief: It's that moment where your whole life changes. It's something lots of people in Hollyweird understand. I think Chief Webber is just praying for a miracle -- kind of like our man... The Hoff.

Izzy: I honestly feel very sad for Izzy, and I think watching her make a comeback is going to be a fantastic plot line for "Grey's." This week I also found myself a little sad for Jessica Simpson. Everyone's favorite blonde is definitely off her game and just seems a little lost.

Alex: He is back and volatile as ever. It's very Russell Crowe.  I'm sure Alex doesn't do "charity work" either.

Bailey: I think it is safe to say Bailey is back in business. After going "soft" she's right back to the tough Bailey we know and love. I'm nominating Janet Jackson. After a spectacular Today Show concert and an interview on Oprah it seems Ms. Jackson is back and the Super bowl is a distant memory.

Cristina and Burke: No matter how much I love them, I see rocky times ahead for these two. Brangelina may have had a quiet week but Angie's plans for a sexy new photo spread and constant rumors the couple is in trouble makes me think we may never see a wedding.

Sept. 28, 2006|

"Idol" Thoughts
(Kellyanne Dignan, "Scarborough Country" producer)

With all the new fall shows my TiVo's been hard at work. Now that ratings are in, one thing is clear -- FOX is missing American Idol.

I'm sure the powers that be at FOX don't love being in 4th place but with Idol commanding top dollar from advertisers I'm not weeping too hard for them.  Fans of the show may not be so lucky, the new season doesn't start for four months and even the Idol tour has come to an end.

When Idol does return in January expect to see a lot of contestants treating us to tunes from the musical, "Grease." Sandy herself, Olivia Newton John has signed on as a guest judge for the show.  Now I love Olivia but I must warn you I could have a "physical" reaction if I hear "Summer Nights" more than six times.

One thing to look forward too, Simon's reaction to the first person who sings Xanadu! Interestingly enough Simon says he prefers to be behind the scenes. Yeah Simon... you seem like such a shy guy!  I'm sure it was hard for you to call Clay Aiken an idiot!  But don't worry, I doubt Aiken is crying into his pillow at night. After all he has Elton John on his side!


Who will make the TomKat wedding guest list?
(Kellyanne Dignan, "Scarborough Country" producer)

Hollyweird -- and all the planets of Scientology -- are breathlessly waiting the wedding of the century. US Magazine reports Tom  Cruise and the lovely Katie Holmes will walk down the aisle within the next six weeks. I’m not sure if TomKat keeps a copy of Emily Post on the coffee table, but according to the rules of etiquette their wedding invitations should be in mailboxes across Hollyweird by now. Mine seems to have gone missing... but I thought it might be fun to predict who might be on the list.

A Possible TomKat Wedding Guest List:

The Cruise and Holmes Families: Rumors swirled for months that Tom and Katie’s families were on the outs but these days everyone seems to be in love.

Celebrity Scientologists: They were the first to see the baby and seem likely to make the final cut.

The Beckhams: TomKat’s new best friends will “spice up” the wedding.

Editors at Vanity Fair: You’ve seen the pictures, need I say anything else.

Oprah: You have to invite anyone who lets you jump on their furniture.

The Ex’s: Chris Klein told E! he was thrilled for Katie and Penelope Cruz was one of the first to see Suri.

Brooke Shields: What better way to say I’m really sorry then with an invitation.

Brangelina: Now that Brad says he’s not interested in Tom’s “Mission Impossible,” Hollyweird’s other favorite couple might find a invitation in their mailbox.

Three people I’m pretty sure won’t make the list: Viacom’s Sumner Redstone and South Park creator’s Matt Stone and Trey Parker. I guess they’ll just have to read about it like the rest of us.


Too soon for Croc Hunter movie?
(Kellyanne Dignan, "Scarborough Country" producer)

Hollyweird  publicists earn good money trying to keep up with who is dating who, who is having whose baby, and of course who is starring in what movie. Russell Crowe’s was quick to jump on reports the Oscar winner wants to play the Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin in a biopic. It turns out Crowe thinks it is too soon to be thinking about a movie.  But given his recent talk about not doing “charity work” for the studios, one has to wonder if the pay just wasn’t right.

Maybe Crowe just wants to stay away from biopics. They are tough even for a seasoned actor. Just ask Brad Pitt. Not only will we not be seeing him in Mission Impossible, now rumors of a Jeff Buckley biopic have been squashed.

At least Pitt will always be able to count on making movies with his good buddy George Clooney. (Can you say Ocean’s 45?) Clooney says he won’t be running for office and we shouldn’t want him too!  No kidding!

Of course, politics and celebrity go together like Oprah and Gayle King. That’s why I was surprised the queen of talk was suing a guy who just wanted her to run for President. Low and behold just in time for her big radio launch Oprah called off the dogs and claimed she was flattered. This is very good news for anyone hoping their tax refund will someday come in the form of Oprah’s favorite things. Cookies and cashmere sweaters for everyone!


Is James Bond a beer man?
(Kellyanne Dignan, "Scarborough Country" producer)

Bond’s beverage of choice.

I find myself a bit shaken and stirred today after finding out James Bond may be giving up his signature martini.  Apparently Heineken has signed on as a sponsor for the film.  Could that mean beer for Bond?

If so, 007 may want to head over to Oktoberfest. Paris Hilton is not quite a Bond girl but the heiress is in Germany for the famous festival.  She’s busy entertaining the locals, wearing dirndls, and promoting wine. While I’m not sure what the local fashionista’s have to say about Paris’s take on traditional German dress, there are a few people upset with her decision to promote the Italian wine.  It seems Italy’s Road safety Society doesn’t like the idea of someone promoting wine who was arrested less than a month ago under suspicion of drunk driving.


Russell Crowe to play Croc Hunter?
(Kellyanne Dignan, "Scarborough Country" producer)

In Hollyweird you’re only as good as your last movie. Just ask Tom Cruise. Maybe that’s why Brad Pitt is denying reports he is taking over the Mission Impossible franchise. Staying out of Tom’s spotlight is probably a good idea. After all, if he and Angelina Jolie get any more famous they might be forced to have their next baby on the international space station.

Of course they could always hire Britney Spear’s former bodyguard and manny Perry Taylor  to keep the paparazzi away. In case you missed it, Britney is now so famous her bodyguard working for Jude Law is worthy of it’s own headline. Yes, the same Jude Law who says he doesn’t want anymore Hollywood roles. An actor who doesn’t want to be a big star—now that’s worthy of a headline!

Russell Crowe is hoping to make a movie ripped right from the headlines. The Sun reports he wants to play Steve Irwin in a movie based on the Crocodile Hunter’s life

Sept. 22, 2006 |

Stars not as rich as you think
(Kellyanne Dignan, "Scarborough Country" producer)

Most residents of Hollyweird are use to being on the list. Doesn’t matter what list -- it can be a guest list, a best dressed list, a list of the most beautiful people who want to blast into space. Bottom line, if you’re famous and attractive you are probably on it!

So it might come as a shock to see how few Hollyweird types make the Forbes 400 richest Americans list.  Granted the bar is pretty high -- at least a $1 billion. And while Paramount might have thought they were paying Tom Cruise too much, even he doesn’t have that kind of dough. I find it kind of reassuring. It is good to know most people still make their money the old fashion ways -- they either work for it or inherit.

Not on the list: one heiress, singer, and party girl Paris Hilton. You’ll want to catch her on Dateline this weekend admitting what we in Scarborough Country always knew: she’s not that bright!

Hollyweird week in review
Paris had a relatively quiet week in Hollyweird. So in case you missed it from leprechauns to Courtney Love interventions, here is a quick reminder why celebrities aren’t like you and me.

Oprah doesn’t find it flattering that someone wants her to run for President of The United States. She sued the guy behind the Oprah 2008 movement.  Maybe she just feels out of touch.  After all, she started her new season by proclaiming to America she hadn’t pumped gas since 1983. I wonder if she had sticker shock.

Joe Simpson, father to Jessica and Ashlee continues to find ways to cash in on his daughters,  reportedly selling pictures to the paparazzi and opening a restaurant chain called Daisy Dukes.

Oh, and don’t forget stars collided this week when reports surfaced Paramount wants Brad Pitt to take Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible. 

I’m sure Tom’s not worried.  Katie Holmes as a Spice Girl is sure to be a big box office hit. England’s Star reporting he and Katie are working with David and Victoria Beckham to make a movie based on the life and times of Posh and Becks.

Whitney Houston was lucky enough to get a little help from her good friend Courtney Love. And speaking of luck, won’t we all be lucky if Michael Jackson actually opens his leprechaun theme park.

Just another week in Hollyweird, folks.


O'Reilly vs. Osama
(Joe Scarborough)

Tonight, Bill O’Reilly will be interviewed by Barbara Walters on ABC’s 20/20. In the interview, the Fox News host claims to be on Osama Bin Laden’s hit list.

Before you start laughing, remember Russell Crowe also claimed to be in Osama’s sights a few years back.

Chances are good that if the Gladiator was on the list, it was because the risk his singing posed to Muslim youth, and the children of the free world.

If that was Crowe’s sin, what was Bill’s? Who knows? But unlike most, I am going to cut the FNC host some slack for two reasons:

1. The man is so detested by the left that he has become paranoid. And as I said last night in our segment on O’Reilly vs. Osama, just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean everyone isn’t out to get you.  If you don’t believe it, look at his interview with David Letterman.

2. Muslim terrorists would seem more likely to kill the most powerful newsman on cable TV than a Hollywood star. O’Reilly is the cable news ratings champ. No one comes close. Fox News rises and falls in primetime with O’Reilly. Look at the ratings. They rise throughout the day until he shows up at 8. Then they explode. When he signs off, they drop by 25%.  If Fox News is seen as the White House’s mouthpiece on the war on terror (as liberals claim it is), then taking out that network’s MVP doesn’t seem like such a stretch, does it?

Just a question.

That said, I think Bill got bad info from his FBI friend. Still, even if O’Reilly thinks Dr. Evil is out to get him, it is best to keep such thoughts to himself. Otherwise, he will make himself a target—not of al Qaeda, but of late night comics.

Sept. 21, 2006 |1:15 p.m. ET

Luck of the celebrity
(Kellyanne Dignan, "Scarborough Country" producer)

Just when you thought we'd seen every possible strange thing from Michael Jackson this tale comes from the Neverland files -- word the King of Pop is heading to Ireland and wants to open a leprechaun theme park. Yes that was the sound of all my Irish ancestors turning over!

I get that Jackson could use a little "luck of the Irish" and I'm sure Ireland seems like a nice break from the deserts of Dubai. I would however remind him that those Irish tabloids aren't always nice. Just ask Tiger Woods. He's a wee bit unhappy after an Irish paper printed nude photos of a woman claiming it was the golfer's wife. One problem, the photos are three year's old and FAKE!

Celebrities often appear to be some of the luckiest people on earth. Take, for instance, a Hollyweird favorite, Mr. Britney Spears himself, Kevin Federline. No one is expecting big sales for his new album when it drops next month. Even his record company is busy promoting the  prizes you could win if you decide to pre-order.  I know it's shocking they didn't go with the "this album will change music forever" campaign.

But all the cynics and lack of talent aren't keeping K-Fed out of work. Federline will be the new face of Five Star Vintage clothing. I guess it was all his model behavior. So if you are keeping track, Kevin's resume now includes... Mr. Britney Spears, Father of four , back-up dancer, wannaabe rapper, actor, paid party guest, and model! Keep saving those pennies Kevin  you never know when this luck will run out.

Two Hollyweird residents who seem to have bad luck where the paparazzi and Britney Spears are concerned... Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake. Diaz filed a police report Wednesday claiming a photographer tried to hit the couple with a car. This isn't their first run in with the paparazzi. Two years ago a couple of photographers accused Diaz and Timberlake of attacking them. And just last spring Diaz received damages in a civil lawsuit she won against a photographer that took topless photos of her.  I guess in Hollyweird the couple that sues together stays together.

Don't feel too bad for Justin Timberlake, his new album just hit number one on the charts. Now I don't like to critique another woman's love life but I will leave Britney Spears with this one final thought. Old boyfriend -- number one on the charts. Current husband -- willing to give away the shoes on his feet to sell an album.


The enemy of your enemy is not your friend
(Joe Scarborough)

Nothing makes you look like Secretariat more than having a jackass stand beside you. The international equivalent would be if you were a struggling politician who was followed by Hugo Chavez.

Yesterday, the crackpot South American leader called George W. Bush the devil and said the President of the United States had left a sulfur smell behind even after he departed the UN. Yesterday, Mr. Bush competed with Iran’s tyrannical leader. You know, the guy with a long last name that denies the Holocaust, calls for the destruction of Israel and violates one UN resolution after another so his terror state can develop nuclear weapons.

He is, without doubt, the most dangerous man on the globe. Such statements usually make left wing intellectuals shudder, and grimly suggest that calling any leader a tyrant only coarsens international dialogue.

But regardless of how much you hate George Bush, I must warn you again that your anger over Katrina, WMD’s, Joe Wilson, NSA wiretaps, yellowcake uranium, Iraq, Sam Alito and the 2000 Florida recount does not change the fact that Iran has been the epicenter of international terrorism since 1979. Theirs is a brutal theocracy that detests Western freedoms, disdains women’s rights, punishes free speech, hates our allies and sees America as their mortal enemy.

That has nothing to do with George Bush. They hated America long before Dubya gave up the strong stuff. They took our hostages when Jimmy Carter was president. They started their nuclear program when Bill Clinton was president. They will keep trying to destroy the Great Satan when Hillary Clinton is president.

Tyrants running Venezuela and Iran may hate George W. Bush as much as you do. But they hate you just as much. It’s one time when the enemy of your enemy is not your friend.

Don’t give in to hate.

Sept. 20, 2006 |

Wake up, America!
(Joe Scarborough)

Over half a century ago, John F Kennedy’s political career was launched on the heels of his book, “Why England Slept”—the story of Great Britain’s failure to prepare for the Nazi blitz.

Last week, Democrats and left wing pundits used the fifth anniversary of September 11th to attack the President, Vice President, the Secretary of Defense and the news media. Don’t tell the embattled president, but some actually believe he has been given a free pass.

Did these people cancel their subscription after the Judy Miller affair? Did they read the New York Magazine piece last week that described how the Times’ editor and publisher told the Commander in Chief to kiss off when he asked for a delay on the publishing of sensitive material? Have they not been listening to the steady drumbeat of negative news written about this administration over the past 24 months?

I guess they only watch Fox News and read the Weekly Standard.

Although I have criticized the President for ignoring dissent within his own White House and for trying to win this war on the cheap, I find myself stunned by the focus—or should I say lack of focus—on the enemy at hand. Though politically incorrect to say, it is not George W. Bush who wants to kill our children and blow up our airplanes.

It is Muslim extremists.

The way I see it, the press is not falling short on bashing Mr. Bush.

Instead, it is failing to adequately focus on the very real dangers posed by Islam’s most extreme elements.

Why does the Pope get abused by the mainstream media for delivering an expansive speech about faith and reason? Does no one find it noteworthy to suggest that a lecture on blending religion and reasoning may be a place to address different point of views, even when you disagree with those views? The purpose of such speeches is to promote dialogue and provoke thought.

Instead, the speech provoked riots.

But did media mavens and political pundits not feel the need to note that in shooting nuns in Somalia, burning down churches in Palestine and calling for the murder of Pope Benedict in the shadow of Westminster, that these extreme Muslims only proved the point of that 14th century emperor—whose words the Pope rejected not once but twice in the speech.

Are news executives afraid to tell Americans that it is not an amorphous force who wants to see us all dead, but instead extremist Muslims?

Can someone please tell those who hate George W. Bush that they can hate the President to their hearts content, but doing that and recognizing how Muslim extremists pose a great threat to us all are not mutually exclusive thoughts?

Can someone please tell Americans to grow up? If they don’t, we may all wake up to find some other bright-eyed Ivy League youth in 2040 launching his political career from the ashes of World War III, with a book about how America slept.

Wake up America. It is not the Pope or George Bush with whom you have a problem. It is those who kill over words, books and cartoons.

I discussed the issue last night with Brent Bozell of Media Research Council and Joan Walsh, editor of Salon, which you can see by clicking the link below.


When will the West wake up?
(Joe Scarborough)

Outrage over the pope’s remarks regarding Islam continued to spread across the Middle East and the world today, with one prominent London cleric calling for the assassination of Pope Benedict—head of the Catholic Church.

The cleric told followers, “whoever insults the message of Mohammad is subject to capital punishment,” and went on to say if his followers would not assassinate the pontiff, Muslims in Italy would. Those remarks came during a protest outside Westminster Cathedral.

I guess no one should be shocked. After all, radical Muslim leaders have called for the murder of authors, cartoonists and religious figures who dare to present an unsanitized version of Islam to the world.

I understand how annoying it is to have your faith mocked at every turn. I was raised in a region where everyone seemed to be Baptist, believe in the Virgin birth and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Maybe that’s why I have so little patience for liberals who preach diversity and tolerance and yet view the billion or so people who are Christians to be fools.

Still, when Christianity is mocked I don’t feel rage toward the offender. I feel sympathy. I pity anyone who is so insecure in their own beliefs that they have to mock others who have a faith strong enough to sustain them.

But these Muslim extremists baffle me. What god is so weak that mere mortals’ words are so dangerous that the one speaking has to be gunned down? What kind of people allow their country to be run by zealots who order the assassination of a writer of fiction for producing a novel that those extremists have not read?

I don’t get it.

Twenty years later in Iran, the leader of that Islamic terror state called the Pope’s comments part of a U.S-Israeli conspiracy to take over the world. For the record, the German pontiff lives in Vatican City, nestled not in the U.S.A. or Israel, but Italy, where Benedict’s assassins await.

A nun was shot to death in Somalia by Islamic gunmen. Palestinian churches also came under attack by Muslim extremists.

The wave of violence that has led some Muslims to call for a holy war started when Pope Benedict quoted the speech of a 14th century emperor who criticized innovations introduced by Mohammad.

The Pope has since apologized, but his words have done little to quell violence that seems so extreme and disproportionate.

Al Qaeda in Iraq, obviously forgetting Rosie O’Donnell’s statement that Christians pose a greater threat to America than Islamic terrorists, issued a statement saying that because of the Pope’s statement it was launching a war against Christianity and would continue until the time Muslims take over the world.

We can at least be thankful that these merchants of hate have shown their hands. Now we will see if the West will awaken in time to declare war against extremism and hatred instead of trying to embrace and understand those who want us all dead.

Sept. 20, 2006 |

Friends in strange places
(Kellyanne Dignan, "Scarborough Country" producer)

Put this down under only in Hollyweird. There are reports Courtney Love has been called in to help Whitney Houston. Music legend Clive Davis so concerned about Houston’s alleged drug problem he wants Love to help with an intervention. I support finding friends wherever you can. But I’m not sure Courtney Love would be my first call if I was turning my life around!

When celebrities move to Hollyweird it’s important they know who their friends are. Now I get its hard to call and say “hi” or meet for a quick lunch when you’re on a movie set all day and hitting the red carpets and hottest clubs by night. I assume this is why so many celebrities count the fellow famous as friends.

Newlywed actress Nicole Kidman knows she can count on husband  Keith Urban. She  has plans to go on tour with Urban for six months. Ahhh, true love  -- just a wife her husband and hundred of roadies.

Hollyweird residents also need to know who they can’t trust! Pop tart and new mommy to Sutton Pierce, Britney Spears should definitely not trust the person who told her she should rap on her next album. My money says this is K-Fed’s idea.

Britney’s former friend and makeout partner Madonna might what to reconsider her relationship with her hair stylist.  Madonna is a style icon but even the material girl should know the platinum blonde bob is hard to pull off!


Joe Simpson joins the Paparazzi?
(Kellyanne Dignan, "Scarborough Country" producer)

It's hard out there for a celebrity this Tuesday. Just ask Desperate Housewife Marcia Cross. She's so famous on the small screen she can't get a decent job on the big screen.

The actress who plays Bree Van De Camp on TV isn't the only Hollyweird resident with problems. I already told you about Jessica and Ashlee Simpson's problems with a Texas minister.

I think The Reverend Bob Harrington is using Jess and Ashlee to get a little attention. When you're famous, blonde, and don't know that tuna is fish you expect that... but probably not from your own parents.

According to Radar online the Simpson girls need not fear the Paparazzi because they call at least one member Dad.

Radar reports Joe Simpson actually sells private family photos of his daughters to a photo agency. Good news for stage parents everywhere -- those home movies from Disney World might be worth a fortune someday or at least a new BMW.

Maybe the whole Simpson clan can move into the new Dr. Phil House.  I'm sure the good doctor would have a lot to say about this. Unless of course he is too busy helping good friend Oprah recover from her road trip with best friend Gayle King. One tidbit I picked up from watching the queen of talk on the open road... Oprah doesn't know how to pump gas! I guess none of her favorite things came from the Mobil Mart!


Brad Pitt the new Tom Cruise?
(Kellyanne Dignan, "Scarborough Country" producer)

Don't expect to see a Suri Cruise - Shiloh Jolie-Pitt play date anytime soon. There is a report out of London that Paramount is considering Brad Pitt as a possible replacement for Tom Cruise in the next Mission Impossible movie. Word is Paramount is prepared to make MI4 worth Pitt's time. We don't know if Shiloh's dad is interested but Paramount might find this is mission impossible. Pitt says he is "tired of" big roles.

I wonder if TomKat will see MI4 starring Brad Pitt? If Tom needs advice on getting down a red carpet that's not his own he could call Pierce Brosnan. The former Bond was shaken and stirred when he lost 007 to Daniel Craig, but he says he plans to check out the new Bond film "Casino Royale" featuring his fairer replacement.

Speaking of blondes...A Texas minister thinks Jessica and Ashlee Simpson have been having a little too much fun.  The Reverend Bob Harrington says the Simpson girls will lose their looks. He claims it is a punishment for using sex to sell records. I wonder what he has to say about Paris Hilton?

Sept. 18, 2006 |

Attack from both extremes
(Joe Scarborough)

My chat about my article on why Republican’s would benefit by blaming Bush proved what I suspected all along. Being independent guarantees one thing: attack from both extremes.

Republican loyalists went after me for, in effect, telling the truth about the deficit and the war in Iraq. Democratic apoligists blasted me for suggesting that their party have an alternate vision for running Congress.

I just don't understand blind loyalty to any politician or party.

Sept. 18, 2006 |

Best strategy: Speak from the heart
(Joe Scarborough)

I received a call from the Washington Post earlier this week asking that I make the case that it would be good strategy for Republican candidates to “throw George Bush overboard.” The suggestion was that GOP candidates fighting for their lives would do better to defend their own positions and political careers than the President’s.

The suggestion is sure to offend Republican loyalists (who remain loyal to party even when that blind allegiance sets back the GOP’s cause), but I learned early on that faithfulness to your own beliefs instead of blind loyalty to your party’s platform was the always the best political strategy.

I always felt sorry for Congressional friends who were so busy trying to figure out what the safe political position was that they forgot to speak from their heart.

I know it sounds hopelessly naive, so I will take a cynical tone. The greatest PR gimmick I had for winning four landslides was fearlessly speaking my mind. If that meant going after Bill Clinton when he tried to block welfare reform and balanced budgets, fine. If it meant going after Newt Gingrich after he backed off of spending cuts, so be it.

Whether I was challenging Democratic or Republican politicians mattered little to my voters. They just wanted me to speak with a clear, consistent voice. That is what I did and why I won my 62%, 73% and 79% in three contested elections.

Today I laugh off charges that I have somehow changed. The fact that I am criticizing Republicans for spending too much money and Democrats for not having an alternative vision for Iraq is consistent with what I have always done.

I’m not the one who has changed.

I am receiving the same attacks as I did after challenging Gingrich’s leadership. But those same old bulls that attacked me while Newt was still Speaker came up and slapped me on the back after he was gone, letting me know they were with me from the beginning. It strikes me as funny that Bush’s closest aids were relived back when GOP conservatives challenged our controversial speaker in 1998. They said privately that Mr. Bush would never been elected with Newt in the Speaker’s chair.

As the Gingrich experience proves, challenging your own leaders to be their best is always a winning formula while mindlessly kowtowing to a party line ends up not only hurting your party, but also your country.

More bad luck for Lohan

(Kellyanne Dignan, "Scarborough Country" producer)

Monday, a wonderful time to check in with the residents of Hollyweird. They've had two whole days to get into trouble while the rest of the world is busy with trips to the car wash and picking up the dry cleaning.

First up...Lindsay Lohan fractures her wrist at a Fashion Week party on Friday.

No word on what kind of shoes she was sporting when she took the tumble, but I'm thinking that since it was a fashion party they were probably high-heeled and uncomfortable -- what my mother calls "get down shoes."

A broken appendage is not Lindsay's only problem. There are reports she and mom Dina had a bit of a public fight.  Maybe Mommy Lohan is taking Jane Fonda's advice and cracking down on Lindsay? Or is Dina just too busy being the "white Oprah"?

Dina Lohan's talk show has yet to hit the airwaves, but Oprah protégé and Food Network star Rachel Ray found herself a long way from basic cable with her talk show debut today. According to The New York Post, Martha Stewart's staff was so desperate to check out the competition they tried to sneak into Ray's taping.

The real Oprah returns for her new season today.  For the first episode Oprah and her best girlfriend -- but not gay lover Gayle King -- take a road trip. Not sure what cities are on the itinerary but I think it's safe to assume Washington D.C. didn't make the list. Apparently Oprah doesn't want to run for president in 2008. In fact, Oprah feels so strongly about staying out of politics she is threatening legal action against the guy who is trying to recruit her.

Oprah isn't the only Hollyweird resident in the political headlines. Bruce Willis wants the world to know he is not a "Hollywood Republican," and his Armageddon co-star Ben Affleck recently said he would never leave acting for politics. 

So much for my plans to vote Oprah and Affleck 2008!


Judging Katie Couric

As Katie Couric ends the second week behind her gleaming CBS News anchor desk, much has been made about her first place finishes, her last place finishes, CBS’s strategic deployment of her legs, her white jacket (post-Labor Day!), her temper tantrums, her make up lady and how smoking hot Lara Logan looks when modeling lingerie.

Well, actually no one has been talking about Ms. Logan’s old modeling pictures, but my first impression of Couric’s debut newscast was just how hot Logan looked sporting camouflage and a flack jacket.  Though it is safe to assume she must look fairly attractive in those glamour shots, I wouldn’t know because I have reviewed those photos one less time than I have seen her report for CBS News-which is once.

But it didn’t take long to see how Lara Logan is one of those journalists who risk their lives to bring war zones into our living rooms. After a few minutes you realize that Logan’s looks are little more than window dressing. It is her reporting that makes her a star.

Then there is Katie.

No one should accuse America’s Sweetheart of being too fluffy to take the helm at the Murrow’s network. Nor is she to blame for getting paid kazillions of dollars to boost CBS’s ratings. Les Moonves had to do something to shake up the flagging news division, which was a steady loser over the past decade. The fact that CBS’s PR machine decided to use legs, Photoshop, perkiness and Botox to promote their new star is neither offensive nor shocking.

As I tell my bookers every day, TV is a visual medium. That’s why I discourage them from booking anyone less attractive than me. (I know it’s a low standard, but you have to start somewhere.)

I have received e-mails questioning why I focused so much on Katie’s appearance. My answer? Because Katie has seemed equally focused on her appearance.

Her strangely frozen face screams Botox.

A TVNewser item tells of tantrums regarding makeup ladies.

And those legs. Why does she let them show her legs during her debut week? Could it be to boost ratings? Sure.

My problem is not with CBS News and Katie Couric using every tool in their arsenal to become the top rated news broadcast in America. I would do the same thing. Hell, I’d have Lara Logan report from Afghanistan in a swimsuit if it would put me ahead of NBC and CBS. But if I did, I would warn Ms. Logan and Couric not to whine about being victims of sexism because reporters focused on your sexiness instead of your stories.

In Couric’s case, she let her PR team open that door. Only she can close it, though I would personally suggest hiking up the skirt a few inches.

Why don’t we all just admit it. Broadcast news is a mix of style and substance. That’s why guys who look like Irving R. Levine never see the backside of an anchor’s desk unless they are cleaning the set. Instead, networks hire people who look like younger versions of Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings. Good looking, all-American types who can tilt their head, move their hands and use their voice in a way that tells Americans they can be trusted with bringing them the world 22 minutes each night.

But once in a while news anchors are required to do more, much more. When a president is shot, the World Trade Centers collapse, US wars begin or levees collapse, these Ken dolls are given about 60 seconds to morph into Murrow.

In these moments that shape history and define American culture, the network news anchor stops being a news reader and starts being the voice of America—informing, updating and assuring a nervous nation. Brokaw, Jennings and Rather always seemed to strike the right tone. And Rather, for all his flaws, was always the steadiest of reporters when his viewers needed him the most. In fact, Rather became the first newsman I picked up the phone to thank personally for his work. It came the morning after the 2000 election. That chaotic, confusing night it was Dan Rather alone who refused to run victory laps for Al Gore soon after election results began trickling in. He let his viewers know that they needed to just sit back, that this race was going to be as hot as a Texas turnpike on a Tuesday night in June. He was right.

The only other anchor I ever called to thank was Brian Williams, also for his work in the 2000 election. I told him that if someone put a gun to my head and demanded to know Williams party affiliation, I would only have a 50% chance of survival since he kept his biases out of his newscasts.

There is no need for Katie Couric to do that. Her political leanings are well known. But I do know that she will not be judged by how she reads the teleprompter on slow news nights. Her real test is whether Americans will trust her when the world comes to a screeching stop. Then viewers will instinctively switch to the anchor they trust the most. I would humbly suggest that Katie has a better shot at gaining those viewers when she worries less about her legs and makeup and worries more on carrying the banner of Cronkite and Murrow.

Network news is a brutal business. I wish Katie nothing but the best.

Sept. 15, 2006 |

What's in a Britney baby name?
(Kellyanne Dignan, "Scarborough Country" producer)

Three days after pop tart Britney Spears gave birth, we're still waiting for official confirmation on the baby's name.  The most popular rumor is Sutton Pierce.

It's a good choice. Baby number two will have the same initials as big brother Sean Preston and Kevin Federline will only have to remember one set of initials when he gets their matching baggy baby pants monogrammed.

This silence is a shocking turn of events from the young woman who told us just a few weeks ago this baby was an accident.  Maybe Britney is busy redesigning her webpage? Maybe she is just a tiger protecting her young? I'm sure my birth announcement is in the mail and I can wait.  After all what's in a name?

Actually if you are former Britney Beau Justin Timberlake, quite a bit. Reports have surfaced the pop star compared current lady love Cameron Diaz's new brown locks to Britney's. I guess he loved Britney's Harper Bazaar cover so much he just could wait to tell his current girlfriend she was copying his old girlfriend. Justin, a piece of advice: it doesn't matter if you live in Scarborough Country or Hollyweird, that is a big mistake!

We may never know if Cameron is impersonating Brit but fellow Hollyweird residents Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have their own problems with people who pretend to be something they are not.  It seems a man was so desperate to get close to the Jolie-Pitt brood he impersonated a federal agent to get a job with Brangelina's security firm. Talk about extreme steps to get close to the beautiful people.

Speaking of a major name and a good friend of Brad and Angie's, George Clooney brought Hollyweird to the UN yesterday. He was there to bring attention to the crisis in Darfur. In Scarborough Country we admire anyone who wants to make the world a better place, but come on George, you're a movie star not a world leader!

Sept. 14, 2006 |

Paris hits Fashion Week, Kidman hits Italy, Brangelina doesn't hit it off in Pakistan
(Kellyanne Dignan, "Scarborough Country" producer)

It’s Fashion Week in New York when all the residents of Hollyweird invade the Big Apple. They take their red eye flights to get a sneak peek at just what they’ll be wearing on the red carpets next spring. This year they’re also getting an eyeful of Paris Hilton who along with her sister Nicky is strutting the catwalks by day  and staying home at night! Well not quite... but as we reported in Hollyweird last night several clubs in New York and London  denied the heiress access.

Is this the first sign “Paris Inc” could be in some trouble? Remember she is still waiting to see if she will be charged after last week’s arrest for a possible DUI.  And she’s also under fire forone of her beloved pets. The Web site claims she may be breaking the law for owning her pet kinkajou, Baby Luv. So if you’re keeping track Paris is not “hot” at clubs, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office, and animal protection.

One place she is still welcome... Oktoberfest!  Hilton plans to head for Germany next month. That can do a lot for a celebrity. Just ask David Hasselhoff.

Paris isn’t the only celebrity feeling unwelcome outside of Hollyweird. Nicole Kidman’s Roman Holiday was put on hold for hours while producers filming a commercial with the actress were forced to make cash payments to residents unhappy the shoot was disrupting their day.

And, Brad and Angelina’s new film “A Mighty Heart” is having it’s own problems with the government of Pakistan. According to TMZ the producers didn’t get permission before they started shooting.


Hollyweird -- Tom Cruise buzz continues
(Kellyanne Dignan, "Scarborough Country" producer)

If you thought the world famous, super secret, extra exclusive Suri Cruise Vanity Fair cover meant the end to all the talk about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ blessed child, think again!

After all the initial excitement over the pictures I began to this just part of a Tom Cruise makeover? We have a Brooke Shields apology, baby pictures, and now buzz about a trip back to Oprah’s Couch?  One can only hope! Star magazine reports Katie wants Tom to go on Oprah again!

I’m thinking maybe it's actually a suggestion from Posh Spice...Word is former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham is giving Tom Cruise some parenting advice!  If Tom does head back to Chicago for a visit with Oprah, don’t expect any couch jumping over his new favorite football team. Despite the Top Gun’s appearance, the Washington Redskins couldn’t pull off a win last weekend.  Washington fans take their football very seriously, so Tom might want to avoid the beltway for a while.  He might not survive!

Speaking of surviving...CBS is catching a lot flack for it’s decision to divide teams on “Survivor” by race.  Survivor’s host and co-executive producer Jeff Probst comes to Scarborough Country tonight and addresses the controversy with Joe. Make sure to tune in!

Sept. 11, 2006 | 3:58 p.m. ET

Witnessing 9/11
(Kellyanne Dignan, "Scarborough Country" producer)

On September 11, 2001, I was freelancing for NBC's Television Station Division in Washington, DC.

The thing about working in the media on 9/11 was in the initial moments you were just as helpless and disconnected as everyone at home. Often journalists have some inside track... an advance copy of a speech or a tip on what to expect next. But on that Tuesday morning we were just as confused, helpless and frightened as everyone else.

As I watched the events in New York unfold on television, I was shocked like all Americans, but still felt a certain disconnect that you often feel with any event you watch rather than experience. All that changed when the plane hit the Pentagon. We were thrust into disorganization and chaos as we struggled to figure out how to cover this growing story for NBC stations across the country. Cell phones became close to useless, disconnecting me from family and friends. Work became my focus. In the initial hours, I was in the bureau as we tried to figure out how to cover this incomprehensible event. There were rumors of a bomb at the State Department and another plane possibly heading to Washington.

Eventually I was sent to the Pentagon by my executive producer. Initially it felt like chaos. There were emergency workers, media and family members all trying to organize and figure out what to do next. Once the Pentagon fire was under control it was amazing to see how the building was damaged. Unlike the collapsed towers in New York, the Pentagon was intact but wounded with a large black hole that no TV camera could do justice. Because the Pentagon is such a large building it was hard to convey just how much damage there was or the smell of smoke that lingered in the air long after the flames were gone.

The media covering the Pentagon crash was at a gas station which is on the other side of a highway overpass from the Pentagon. Over the next week the gas station became my home as I and reporter Jane Watrel did hundreds of live shots for NBC stations around the country.

I met so many amazing people. I'll never forget a group of truckers with flags who had their own impromptu memorial drive by the Friday after 9/11. We ran next to them trying to get some quick sound bites. When I asked one why they were there he told me they wanted to do something because they felt helpless.

That night I reflected on the events and realized we all were doing what we could to get through the crisis. For me, bringing 9/11 to people thousands of miles away was a way to deal with this awful attack on my home. I wasn't a doctor or a firefighter but in my own way I could contribute -- I could be part of a team that was bringing this unimaginable story to people who couldn't see it with their own eyes.

Yesterday, I was in Washington visiting friends for the weekend. I drove down the highway by the Pentagon. I saw the tents and live trucks were up ready to cover the fifth anniversary. It's a very different event today and I am a different person. The Pentagon has long since been repaired. There was a flag flying were the plane hit, just like in the days and weeks after the attacks. As I drove by I couldn't help but feel the weight of what happened there. I know my experience is something I will never forget.