Out of all too many, 9 memorable TV moments in 2017

By Frazier Moore

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK _ It’s been a wild and wearying year in the world of TV, with memorable moments by the dozens. Here are nine signal moments (though a few of them are perhaps best forgotten):

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HE’S FIRED?

Before ascending to the presidency early last January, Donald Trump played TV critic by berating his successor as host of “The New Celebrity Apprentice.” Mocking Arnold Schwarzenegger for his puny ratings, Trump tweeted, “So much for being a movie star,” which sparked a Twitter sparring session as Schwarzenegger fired back expressing hope that Trump would work as aggressively as president as he had as a ratings-hungry TV celebrity. In February, Trump tweeted that Schwarzenegger was an even worse TV host than California governor. By March, Schwarzenegger said he had had enough, declaring that Trump’s “baggage” was what killed his ratings and that, even if invited, he wouldn’t be available for a new season.

FAKE MEDIA BRIEFING

Melissa McCarthy lampooned then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer in a January edition of a “Saturday Night Live” sketch where the actress taunted reporters as “losers,” fired a water gun at the press corps and used the lectern to ram a (fake) Wall Street Journal reporter. “I want to begin tonight by apologizing on behalf of YOU to ME for how you have treated me these last two weeks,” McCarthy said in opening the mock press briefing. “And that apology is NOT accepted.”

BATTER UP

Jeffrey Dean Morgan maintained his hitting streak as “The Walking Dead” returned in February with him back as arch-villain Negan, a grinning, swaggering brute whose non-regulation barbed-wire-wrapped baseball bat named Lucille scored one hit after another against Rick Grimes (series star Andrew Lincoln) and the good guys he led. The first half of Season 7 in fall 2016, however, proved too brutal even for some fans, and viewership of the perennially popular AMC show waned when the series came last winter, maybe as a result.

OSCARS UPSET

Host Jimmy Kimmel voiced the question of the night at the 2017 Academy Awards _ “Warren, what did you DO?” _ when, in February, a confused Warren Beatty and co-presenter Faye Dunaway shared the night’s booby prize by announcing “La La Land” as best picture. The acceptance speech was interrupted midway when audience members and viewers learned the winner was actually “Moonlight.” This was the sort of envelope mix-up even the post office could never equal.

A DRIVE FOR ACCEPTANCE

Folks on Sesame Street have a way of making everyone feel accepted. That certainly goes for Julia, a Muppet youngster with blazing red hair, bright green eyes _ and autism. Rather than being treated like an outsider, Julia was welcomed as one of the gang on a “Sesame Street” episode in April. “She does things just a little differently, in a Julia sort of way,” her new Muppet chum Abby explained to the show’s young viewers.

ILLNESS ISN’T PARTISAN

The video of a 13-minute monologue by Jimmy Kimmel was viewed by tens of millions after its May airing on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” as this father of a newborn son emotionally told how the infant had successfully had surgery for a life-threatening birth defect. He did so to illustrate that this was the sort of medical treatment that could become unavailable to many parents as politicians battle over health care. “If your baby is going to die and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make,” Kimmel declared. “Whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or something else, we all agree on that, right?” On Monday, he brought his son onstage to discuss funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

HEAD OF STATE

A video by comedian Kathy Griffin created a storm within hours of its posting on social media in June, sparking outcry from the White House, energizing Republican fundraisers, fueling harsh coverage over several news cycles, and losing her TV and standup gigs and even an endorsement deal for the Squatty Potty. Griffin’s video, which depicted her holding a likeness of the president’s severed, bloody head, was meant as a joke, she insisted. But few observers were laughing. At a televised press conference, Griffin tearfully predicted her career was over and said the Trumps were “trying to ruin my life forever.”

CNN TAKES A HIT

Trump tweeted his own provocative video in July, depicting himself beating up a humanoid CNN figure. The video showed Trump running toward a wrestling ring and tackling a man with a CNN logo for a head, punching him repeatedly in the face. Predictably, reaction to the video varied according to each viewer’s attitude toward Trump.

DISAPPEARING ACT

Actors and other public figures began vanishing from the TV screen (and elsewhere) in October as scores of allegations of sexual misconduct targeted one prominent man after another. Fox News Channel’s fired Bill O’Reilly had led the way in April, but in the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s disgrace, Kevin Spacey was removed from the final season of Netflix’s “House of Cards.” Louis C.K. lost a Netflix comedy special and other TV projects. Charlie Rose was removed from “CBS This Morning” and his own public television interview show was cancelled. Then, a week later, it was “Today” show host Matt Lauer who was fired.

Jimmy Pattison buys Marilyn Monroe’s dress for $6.3M, puts it in small Saskatchewan hometown

Tristin Hopper |

It was a gown so tight that Marilyn Monroe needed to be sewn into it before she sang a scandalously breathy rendition of Happy Birthday to U.S. President John F. Kennedy.

Made famous by Marilyn Monroe in 1962, this sheer, rhinestone-studded dress is now headed to rural Saskatchewan.

And now, the US$4.8 million ($6.3 million) dress is set to stand in the community hall of Luseland, Sask., a town of 600 best known for its large grain terminal and threshing machine graveyard.

“When people first hear about it, like me, you kind of say ‘why?’ … and then the shock hits you,” said longtime Luseland Mayor Len Schlosser.

The exhibition of the gown — which holds the record for the world’s most expensive dress ever purchased at auction — was engineered by B.C. billionaire Jimmy Pattison, who lived briefly in Depression-era Luseland as a child.

The town’s official welcome sign, in fact, reads “Hometown of Jimmy Pattison.”

Pattison announced the dress’s arrival last month, when he was in Saskatoon to announce a $50 million donation to the Children’s Hospital of Saskatchewan.

“He asked that I be in Saskatoon to meet with him, and that’s when I first learned what it was all about,” Schlosser said.

He added that the town was “very thankful and gracious.”

The dress is being brought to Saskatchewan primarily to promote the expansion of the Pattison-owned grocery chain Save-On-Foods in the province, although Pattison arranged that Luseland be the first venue.

Sold by California’s Julien’s Auctions in November, the gown was purchased by Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!, which is in turn owned by the Jim Pattison Group.

Pattison consistently ranks as one of Canada’s richest citizens, and has a net worth of $5.7 billion, according to Canadian Business magazine. The Jim Pattison Group is Canada’s second-largest private company with $9.1 billion in annual sales, and has operations ranging from billboards to supermarkets to car lots. One of the company’s more recent purchases was Guinness World Records.

After its stay in Luseland, the Monroe gown will tour Ripley’s-owned museums throughout Canada and the United States.

The gown is famous for being worn by Monroe at a 1962 gala at New York’s City’s Madison Square Garden to celebrate the 45th birthday of President Kennedy.

The flesh-coloured dress — which was worn without underwear — reportedly elicited gasps from the crowd of 15,000 when Monroe strode onto the stage. She then delivered an extremely sultry birthday greeting to Kennedy.

“I can now retire from politics after having happy birthday sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way,” the president said later in an ironic nod to Monroe’s racy performance.

It was one of Monroe’s last public appearances before her death three months later.

The exhibition of the gown is scheduled for July 10 at Luseland Hall. “An exclusive chance to see the world’s most famous dress,” declares a promotional poster.

With a number of homes in Luseland averaging list prices of between $50,000 and $100,000, the dress equals the value of a large chunk of the community. To stave off any potential gown heists, the dress will arrive with its own security detail.

This is the not the first time that Pattison has purchased a “world’s most expensive” piece of memorabilia and then placed it in a somewhat counterintuitive corner of Western Canada.

In 1985, Pattison purchased a psychedelically painted Rolls Royce once owned by John Lennon for $2.3 million, then making the vehicle the world’s most expensive used car.

After exhibiting the vehicle at Expo 86 in Vancouver, Pattison donated it to the Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria. It’s not part of any permanent collection, but the car is wheeled out on special occasions.

Now you can visit the Rolling Stones’ 1962 apartment

When Mick Jagger was coming up with ideas for an exhibition highlighting The Rolling Stones’ five-decade long career, he wanted to re-create the mood of the band in its early years.

So, he had a team recreate the first London apartment he and his band mates shared in 1962, complete with dirty dishes, beer bottles and blues records placed throughout the flat.

“That was the weirdest thing really. … The building is still there – it’s not a building that’s been knocked down or anything, it’s right around the corner from where I actually live now,” Jagger said.  “It’s very redolent of the space … and it smells like it and feels like it.

“I just remembered how it really was,” he added.

“There were a lot of places like that in the early ’60s … you wouldn’t want to live there now,” Charlie Watts said.

The Stones also re-created their recording studio, complete with original instruments, for “Exhibitionism – The Rolling Stones,” the band’s exhibit that debuted at Industria in New York City on Saturday after launching in London earlier this year. It includes colorful tour outfits, Jagger’s lyric book, Keith Richards’ 1963 diary, Watts’ toy drum kit and various photographs, from posters to magazine covers.

“None of it made me cry particularly. Some of it made me laugh,” Jagger said of the memorabilia.

The exhibit run in New York through March 12, 2017. Some of the pieces are works by Andy Warhol, Alexander McQueen and John Pasche, who designed the Stones’ iconic tongue logo.

“It’s like bumping into memories everywhere you look for me,” Richards said. “You turn the corner (and say), ‘Oh, that’s where I left it. Whether it’s a guitar or a piece of clothing, everything sort of rings a bell somewhere.”

Ronnie Wood, who joined the group in 1975, said he enjoyed seeing the “little motifs” throughout the exhibit, and added that one of his favourite memories was joining the band for his first public performance _ on his birthday.

“I had to learn the entire Stones back catalogue to get ready to go onstage on June 1, my birthday, for my first public show with them,” he said, smiling.

Of his highlights, Richards said, laughing: “I can pick out a few lows but we won’t bother with them, but otherwise, it’s been pretty much a high all the time.”

The Stones will release a new album of blues cover songs called “Blue & Lonesome” on Dec. 2. When asked what his future goals are for the band, Watts said:  “Staying alive I think is the biggest thing at the moment, or getting up in the morning.”

 

Expert Tips on Taking Your Home Holiday Cocktail Party from So So to Showstopper

The cocktail renaissance has transformed happy hours across the country. Now, it’s time to raise your home bar game. No more slapping a bottle of bottom-shelf vodka and a six-pack of tonic on your kitchen counter and calling it a party. This holiday season, you’re going to master the fine art of the better home bar experience.

But before you start stressing over your holiday get-together _ or wondering if your budget will stretch to a butler _ here are a few tips on creating a stress-free soiree.

BOTTLE STATIONS

Open bars are for weddings. To keep your event manageable, limit your guests to a handful of drinks, and let them do the mixology work.

holiday-partyLiz Brusca, spokeswoman for San Francisco’s Anchor Distilling Co., which makes and imports liquors, suggests starting by picking a handful of cocktails to serve, shopping for and prepping the ingredients, then arranging each in its own location. For a recent event at San Francisco’s Gotham Club, she set out four cocktail stations, each equipped with the tools, glasses, liquor and mixers needed for one drink. When appropriate, she included a framed recipe.

Not only does this approach help you buy only what you need, it also gives your guests something to do _ and talk about _ during those awkward first moments of acclimatizing to a room full of strangers. So, if you’ve decided to have guests make their own French 75s, you’d get in Champagne, a good gin, lemon juice, sugar or simple syrup, depending which recipe you favour, and a twist of lemon for the garnish. Add glassware and you’re good to go.

Even simpler, a whiskey station with different takes on the brown spirit _ think scotch, bourbon and rye _ high-quality ice, glasses and water droppers (adding a drop of water to whiskey helps the flavours open up).

DO AHEAD

When you’re deciding what drinks to serve, consider cocktails that can be made up in quantities ahead of time, says Josh Harris, co-founder with Scott Baird of The Bon Vivants, a San Francisco-based cocktail, hospitality, marketing and design consulting firm. This could mean whipping up classic batch drinks, such as punches, in advance, then setting them out so guests can serve themselves.

Or you could take it in a new direction. Consider making large quantities of easily mixed drinks _ old fashioneds and Manhattans are good choices _ then offering them in attractive bottles for people to pour their own. Just offer the bottled cocktails with ice and glassware. Or strike a mixer middle ground. Offer the ingredients for set cocktails, but include items made in advance, such as flavoured simple syrups.

“Last year, I set up an old fashioned bar and had apple spice syrup on hand for people who preferred a flavoured cocktail,” says Harris.

MIX IT UP

Want to take a more freewheeling approach? That can be easier _ and less expensive _ than you think.

Start with a couple bottles of your favourite base spirits. “And don’t just buy the cheapest bottle; buy what you like,” says Baird. “No matter what you spend, it’s going to be cheaper than going out to a bar and paying for drinks there.”

Next, add a variety of mixers (soda, tonic water, etc.) in small, single-serving sized bottles. Add fresh juices, a bottle or two of bitters and some basic mixing liqueurs _ triple sec, vermouths, etc. This collection _ which shouldn’t cost that much _ should enable most guests to make something delicious no matter what their drink of choice.

And don’t forget to pay attention to the quality of the mixers. “When you pour a drink, it’s often made two-thirds or more of the mixer and you should use a mixer of the same quality as your spirits,” points out Jordan Silbert, founder of Q Tonic.

For the simplest of parties, he recommends getting a few different styles of gin, lemon and lime garnishes and good quality tonic.

Or, go with vodka and along with tonic put out the ingredients for Moscow mules (vodka, ginger beer, lime juice, mint for muddling and as a garnish). Q Tonic has a spicy ginger beer that comes in a frosted bottle, the same type used for white wine, that “looks gorgeous,” says Silbert. “Everybody is going to think you did everything to the nines where you really just bought two nice bottles of liquid.”

Other possibilities _ swap out the mint garnish for rosemary for a seasonal look and float a few cranberries in the gin and tonics.

DABBLE IN DECOR

Chances are your 800-square-foot city apartment doesn’t come with a fully stocked wet bar. And even a bigger place can feel cramped if the only place to mix drinks is a crowded kitchen table.

Julie Richards, design expert at Ace Hardware, recommends repurposing a piece of furniture as a bar. If you want to go all out, you could paint an old credenza in a bright colour, or just use an existing table and cover it with a good-looking cloth.

Bookcases are another option. If the top is too narrow to work as a mixing station, set a table close by, says Richards; you don’t want guests juggling glassware. You may need to take out some of the shelves to make room for tall bottles; if you’re feeling ambitious, gluing a mirror on the back of the shelf where it will reflect your gleaming bottles is a nice touch.

Trays are a good shortcut to keeping things neat and under control. You might have one for bottles, one for glasses, another for bowls of garnishes, etc.

Michelle Locke, Associated Press

canada-press

Billionaire buys famous painting with AmEx card, gets tens of millions of reward points

Chinese billionaire Liu Yiqian, who doesn’t exactly struggle to afford a plane ticket, can now likely fly free, in first class, with his whole family, anywhere in the world, for the rest of his life.

All because he bought a painting.

Liu was the winning bidder for Amedeo Modigliani’s “Reclining Nude” at a Christie’s auction this month _ offering $170.4 million _ and when the sale closes he’ll be putting it on his American Express card.

Liu, a high-profile collector of Chinese antiquities and art, has used his AmEx in the past when he’s won art auctions. He put a $36 million tea cup from the Ming Dynasty on his AmEx last year, according to reports, and put other artifacts on his card this year. He and his wife said they plan on using their American Express card to pay for the Modigliani, according to news reports after the sale.

American Express will not confirm Liu Yiqian’s Modigliani purchase, or say if it would be the biggest ever on their cards, citing privacy reasons. But it can be done.

“In theory, it’s possible to put a ($170 million purchase) on an American Express card,” said American Express spokeswoman Elizabeth Crosta. “It is based on our relationship with that individual card member and these decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, based on our knowledge of their spending patterns.”

Liu has an American Express Centurion Card, also known as the AmEx “black card,” an invitation-only card that is given only to AmEx’s biggest spending clients. The card has no official credit limit – and it earns points, just like most of the cards non-billionaires carry around.

Each AmEx card issued in each country accrues points differently. But using a baseline of one point per dollar, what American Express uses for its U.S. Platinum and Centurion Cards, Liu will earn 170,400,000 Membership Reward points for his painting purchase, which doesn’t include tax or the fees Christie’s charges. He has likely earned tens of millions of points for his earlier fine art buys, like the expensive tea cup.

Liu and his wife, in an interview with The New York Times, said they plan to use the points to allow their family to travel for the rest of their lives.

That shouldn’t be a problem, according to Zach Honig, editor-in-chief of the travel rewards site ThePointsGuy.com.

“He’s probably reached that goal with that single painting,” Honig says.

Honig estimates that if Liu converted his Membership Rewards points into one of a number of airline frequent flier programs, he and his family could travel anywhere, in style. He could fly 3,000 times between the U.S. and Europe in the ultra-deluxe first class suites offered by Singapore Airlines (estimated cost: $17,800 round trip), if he converted points to Singapore’s program. Even if Liu wanted to use his AmEx points to pay for flights, a less efficient use of them, he could still redeem those points for hundreds of first class flights anywhere in the world.

Lui, who is worth $1.4 billion according to Forbes, probably didn’t use his Amex for the points. China allows its citizens to transfer no more than $50,000 out of the country in any year, and using his card could help him get around this limit because he’s just paying back American Express or the bank in China who issues his card.

It’s a common tactic, says Bill Majcher, a former financial crimes investigator for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who is now based in Hong Kong working as an investment banker.

“One simple little black AmEx card or one credit card, you never know what somebody’s limits are,” he said. “And some people have unlimited amounts based on their wealth and ability to pay.”

One potential loser here could be Christie’s. Every time an American Express card holder uses the card, AmEx charges the merchant a fee. That fee is usually 2 to 3 per cent, depending on the merchant. For a $170 million painting, millions of dollars could flow to AmEx instead of Christie’s – enough, presumably, for AmEx to pay for the Liu family’s future flights, and then some.

 

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