Greedy Is as Greedy Does
IN SEPTEMBER THE Alliance for Better Campaigns, a Washington, D.C.-based public policy group, posted on its Web site, GreedyTV.org, a list of the nation's "greediest" TV stations. Garnering top honors in the Twin Cities was WCCO-TV (Channel 4), based on its millions in political ad revenue coupled with its refusal to provide airtime for candidates to discuss the issues. But a few weeks later, a funny thing happened. GreedyTV still listed WCCO as the top local moneymaker, but KSTP-TV (Channel 5) was now stamped with the "greedy" tag, while 'CCO was designated one of the site's "good guys"! The reason: WCCO's parent company, CBS, had signed the Alliance's so-called 5-30 pledge, a promise to air at least five minutes of direct candidate-to-camera discourse each night for a full month, while KSTP had not. If you watch both stations, you know that 1) WCCO is not adhering to the spirit of the Alliance's pledge, and 2) KSTP is giving out free airtime left and right (as it were). Matt Farrey, the Alliance's associate director, acknowledges the group goofed. Many of the pledge signers, he adds, are failing to provide unfiltered, candidate-to-camera discourses. "For the most part, it's been very disappointing. They really seem to be just doing five minutes of regular campaign coverage," Farrey laments. "I think most of the stations just don't get it." When we checked back at GreedyTV, the Twin Cities had a new greedhead: third-place money-grubber KARE-TV (Channel 11). 'CCO was still making top dollar and being hyped as a "Good Guy," while KSTP was now lumped among the "Others Profiteering on Democracy." Stay tuned. (Or don't.)
WITH THE PRESIDENTIAL race up for grabs in our own back yard, Our Fair Cities are suddenly a campaign hotbed. Rev. Jesse Jackson's blow-through last Tuesday in support of Al Gore caught Off Beat's eye: Would this provide a forum to highlight some of the issues important to black voters--affirmative action, the failed drug war, police brutality, to name a few--that have been conspicuously absent from the Election 2000 "dialogue"? Uh, nope. At Lucille's restaurant on the north side, while Jackson urged African Americans to register and vote, a belligerent Ed Demmings was turned away at the door, where he shouted obscenities and brandished a pile of flyers decrying police brutality. (Demmings's cousin Artis Graham died in 1998 after St. Paul police beat him during a drunk-driving stop. The department later ruled that the officers did not use excessive force.) "Go ahead and kill me, too!" Demmings yelled at an approaching squad car before backing off. "They don't care about what I have to say, anyway!" Later, during Jackson's appearance at the University of Minnesota, Off Beat asked Demmings's ostensible question: What would a Gore administration do about police brutality? "He supports hate-crimes legislation," the candidate's emissary hedged. "He wants a ban on race profiling. More than that, if Democrats win, [Michigan Democrat] John Conyers becomes chair of the House Judiciary [Committee]. We'll have more capacity in the Congress, and in the White House, to address police brutality."
SINCE FRANK GEHRY'S Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain, opened in 1997, museum design has become the holy grail of the architecture world. Suddenly every metropolis is touting plans for a spectacular new temple whose aesthetic eclipses the art it's meant to house. And with each new megaproject--I.M. Pei's Miho Museum of Art in Kyoto and Richard Meier's Getty Museum in L.A. proudly among them--the scramble for visionary builders grows fiercer. How then does a museum like our own humble Walker Art Center attract A-list talent for its own expansion plans? One method might be flattery. This Sunday the Walker presents its first exhibition to showcase the work of a single architect or firm since 1986's Gehry retrospective: a homage to Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, the high-class Swiss duo commissioned to undertake the museum's $50 million face-lift. (They are also responsible for the recent, acclaimed Tate Modern in London.) According to Walker curator Philippe Vergne, who began talking with the architects about an exhibit soon after they signed on to redesign the Walker in March, the show will be less a retrospective of their previous work than an exploration of the firm's "creative process." Is it a case of self-promotion? Certainly, says Vergne. "The impetus was putting together the new building. We wanted to start a relationship with them, and also make visible to the community why we went with these architects." A far cry from the ancient Egyptians, certainly, who preferred burying their monument builders to deifying them.
Moving Right Along
THE OTHER DAY the Star Tribune reported the third-quarter earnings of its corporate parent, the McClatchy Co. As is its wont (see the July 19 installment of this column), along with the numbers, the paper supplied an extra tidbit. To wit: "The company said that as a result of rising newsprint prices, it expects full-year earnings to be between $1.95 and $1.97 per share, less than the analysts' consensus estimate of $2.01 per share." What McClatchy president and CEO Gary Pruitt also said, but what the Strib didn't mention, was this: "Our strategy of regional diversification in growth markets is paying off with strong performances at our California and Carolinas newspapers, offsetting somewhat weaker results in Minnesota and the Northwest."