Category Archives: News

I Need Your Help!

For months, I’ve provided content here. I’ve tried to make it entertaining and thought-provoking, fun and intriguing.

Now I’m asking for your help in return!

I was nominated for a contest–Hottest Male Publicist in Washington, DC!

Please click here http://mediabistro.com/articles/poll/000403/ and vote for Mike Schaffer, early and often!

Then, after you vote, please send it to everyone you know! Voting closes Monday at 5pm.

THANKS!!!!!!!!

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Chris Benoit Thoughts, Part 2

As promised, I’m continuing my thoughts here…

I’ve watched my share of “talking head” shows over the past week.  It’s apparent that a lot of people are talking – but very few are listening.

After each new note is posted regarding the investigation, media-types seem to fall over themselves to proclaim THAT as the primary cause.

For instance, the first guess was steroids.  It HAD to be “roid rage!”  A professional wrestler committed a heinous act, so it could NOT have been anything else besides steroids.  Well, nothing about this tragedy implies rage and Benoit passed a recent WWE-sponsored drug test (which may or may not be as legit as you’d want it to be).

Next, it was the fact that Daniel had Fragile X Syndrome that sent Benoit over the edge.  Well, new evidence shows that he DID NOT suffer from that.

This was followed by the evil doctor.  We’re still not sure what went on there.

The thing is, I’m guessing there was not just one thing here to cause this tragedy.  There were probably numerous things going in Benoit’s head, perhaps different substances coursing (or not) through his body.

It’s sad to hear about all the troubles that Benoit had…how erratic his life had become, and apparently, had been for quite some time.  But since he presented himself to his fans and coworkers in a stoic, put-together way, he was not given the help he desperately needed.

If some good can come of this, I hope that it alters the sports entertainment landscape to protect the physical and mental well-being of it’s performers.

Perhaps WWE scales back from 4-5 live events a week to 2-3.  Perhaps they can offer health insurance to their wrestlers.  Perhaps they can have guidance counselors available.

I’ve studied the history of the genre a little bit.  The vast majority of superstars used to travel constantly, but within a smaller region.  Today’s Superstars roam the globe with no break, expected to perform in front of tens of thousands in the arena, in addition to millions on television.  The pressures and rigors — and the stakes — have never been higher.

Chris Benoit Thoughts, Part 1

If you are reading this, then you know the basics of the story.

Longtime readers of this blog definitely know the appreciation I have from professional wrestling, dating back to my days as a “Little Stinger” following WCW in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The events of the past several days jolted the wrestling world, as fans search for answers and observers look to point fingers.

I’ve got a lot on my mind, as it relates to this tragedy, and I’m sure I’ll let them unfold over several entries over the next period of time.

Professional wrestling is different from other forms of entertainment.  It asks you to shed your disbelief in a way that an action movie never really could.  It demands you to invest yourself in the characters in a way that a soap opera really can’t do. 

For me, enjoying the show is not about believing the grapplers are “really” fighting.  We all know they aren’t.  When you listen to music, you know it has been edited, tweaked, synced, and altered.  But you appreciate it just the same.   The entire presentation is given with a wink of a knowing eye anda  sly grin. 

No, my enjoyment in wrestling comes from two major areas:

1) Enjoying the performance art.  Go see West Side Story at your local high school.  Then see the original movie.  Much different, right?

2) Connection with the performers and characters.  Some readers may know what my profession is.  I don’t want to get into that, but it has afforded me the opportunity to meet many WWE superstars.  These men and women develop their personas and characters over time and the best ones allow you to grow with them.  I met Chris Benoit about 10 years ago in Baltimore.  Since then, his character has undergone no major changes.  Silent, technical professional.  He sucked me in – I was able to connect with his character.

Unlike other TV programs, wrestling TV, because of it’s naturally episodic nature, HAS to be original and (preferably) live.  On Monday night, WWE was scheduled to run a 3-hour extended show pushing their #1 storyline at the time, “Who Killed Mr. McMahon?”  Just hours before that show was to air, word broke that Chris, his wife and son were all found dead.

WWE immediately cancelled the TV taping, sending performers and fans home.  Instead, they used that 3-hour block to 1) have Vince McMahon introduce the show at the top of each hour, explaining that the storyline was a story and that this was real and 2) run matches and clips from the long-ago produced Chris Benoit DVD.

Seriously, could they have done anything else?

Last night, I was watching MSNBC, FOX News, and other outlets as they questioned WWE for paying tribute to a murderer.  However, that fact hadn’t come out yet and they had a 3-hour major cable channel window to fill. 

One of their major stars was found dead, no details were available, so they did the only thing they really could do: pay tribute to his career.

At the beginning of Tuesday’s ECW on Sci-Fi broadcast, Vince McMahon again addressed the viewers, this time to recognize that more facts had come out since Monday evening and that his company was starting to heal tonight by entertaining the fans.  John Cena, their top star, led off the show with a terrific match against the new ECW champion Johnny Nitro.  Many people speculate that on Sunday night’s Pay Per View show, Benoit would have won that ECW title.

Right now, the hot topic of discussion is the role steroids may have played in the incident.  I won’t even touch that until the reports come back, but it is definitely worth discussing in the proper forums.

So what are we left with?

The Benoit immediate family is gone.  The extended family left with broken hearts and countless questions.  They must be questioning themselves, as well.  What didn’t they see?  What couldn’t they have known?  I can’t even begin to imagine their pain right now.

The WWE lost one of their top stars, a technical marvel that brought a sense of tradition, respect, and athletic validation to their product.  Their locker room is left without a quiet leader, who by all accounts led by example and actions, which spoke so, so loud.

Fans are left confused.  I have never heard or read of any fans saying, “Yeesh, that Chris Benoit puts on AWFUL matches!  I hope I never see him again!”  Like many fans, I proudly owned countless Benoit matches, including the 1996 Great American Bash classic Falls Count Anywhere match between Benoit and Kevin Sullivan which exploded all over the Baltimore Arena.  Ironically, it was during that time that Benoit began his relationship with Nancy, who was married to Kevin Sullivan at the time.  For a decade, that has stood as one of my favorite 20 minutes of entertainment, one that I joyfully popped into the DVD player several times a year. 

When an entertainer goes bad, can you every truly enjoy their body of work again?  And is it OK to feel guilty for ever enjoying it in the first place?  These are the questions fans are asking themselves right now.

In the wrestling world, fans excuse a lot.  Drugs, booze, domestic abuse, marital infidelity…it’s hard to name a top wrestling star who hasn’t at least climbed towards that Mount Rushmore of issues.

For me, it’s all too new…too fresh. 

There are certain events that define the world.  JFK’s assassination.  Dropping the Atomic Bomb.  9/11.  These are events which forever alter the world.  There is no going back.

In no way am I comparing the Benoit case to those three globally horrific moments in time.

However, in the wrestling world, this is the biggest story ever.

One of the greatest wrestlers of all time murdered his wife and son then took his own life. 

The world of professional wrestling will never be the same again.

Terrible News…

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story?id=2916498

One of the all-time great professional wrestlers was found dead today, along with his wife and on, outside of Atlanta.

I had the pleasure of meeting him as a kid and I enjoyed following his career.

Total, absolute shock…

Rick Astley on Family Guy

Blog Hero Rick Astley’s appearance on the season finale of Family Guy was…awesome!!!

For the record, he’s married.  To a woman.

Enjoy the Blog Hero!

For more Rick Astley, click on the Rick Astley or Blog Hero category tags below.

American Idol – Top 6 – RESULTS

Two go home.  Four will remain.  Big night.

–  Seacrest promises no filler.  I laugh.

– We recap last night’s show.  Which is…FILLER!

– We all agree that Blake kicked ass and took names.

– Seacrest interviews random people.  Which is…FILLER!

– Seacrest interviews the contestants.  Which is…not filler.

– Reuben Studdard shills for Idol Gives Back.

– A recap of last week.  Which is…FILLER!

– Musical performance from Robin Thicke.

Here’s his BEST song EVER:

– He doesn’t sing that tonight.  But he does sing “Lost Without You,” which is a tight track.

– Fantasia shills for “Idol Gives Back.”

– Sponsored Crappy Video of the Week is “Paint It Black.”

Elimination One:

Melinda, Phil, LaKisha are center-stage.

– Melinda is safe!

– LaKisha is safe.

– Phil goes home.  Bummer…he was just starting to roll!

– Like I said last night, “Blaze of Glory” was a perfect song for him to sing this week.  And it’s kinda awesome to here him sing it again after elimination.

Elimination Two:

– Jordin is safe.

– It’s down to Blake and Chris–after the break.

– Bon Jovi performs a new song.  Eh.

– Taylor Hicks shills for “Idol Gives Back.”

– Chris and Blake admit they are best friends.   Blake shoots down the importance of the elimination by reminding us that they will BOTH be on the tour.  Love it.

– America voted…Chris goes home and Blake continues!

Next week, Boogie Sounds.  OOOOOOOOOOkay.

Thanks for reading!

American Idol – Idol Gives Back – Performances

Tonight is night one of “Idol Gives Back,” featuring inspirational music.

Each vote tonight equals a charity donation.  Laying on the guilt there, eh?

I get the feeling that tonight (and tomorrow) will be very self-congratulatory.  Honestly, with the money they are raising, go for it.

– Holy crap–Bono is the mentor!  F’n A!

– See-moan and Seacrest went to Africa.  We get Coldplay-themed recap.

– First up tonight is on-the-hotseat Chris Richardson, taking on “Change the World,” the Eric Clapton classic.  Those paying close attention would know Clapton was on Part One of the Summer Concert Series last night.  Wasn’t Babyface involved in this song, too?  Yes he was.  Strongest performance from Chris in a while.  But I didn’t find it all that believeable.  Like, when Melinda sings, you believe that she actually wrote it.  I don’t get that from Chris, though.  Randy really liked it.  Paula loved it.  See-moan said it was a good show of his potential that they saw originally.  Wow.  All four of us liked it.  That hasn’t happened in a while!

–  Besides Africa, Idol toured America to give back money.  Randy went to Louisiana.  Cameras went to Kentucky, Arizona.  Seacrest is from Atlanta?  Paula and Seacrest went to a mobile health unit.

– Melinda…wow…chose a Faith Hill song.  Did not see that coming.  Honestly, Melinda is heads and shoulders above the rest.  I’ve never heard this song before.  But I was ready to break out a lighter and sing “We Are The World.”  Like this:

Back to Melinda.  Remember what I talked about during Chris’ performance about a singer connecting with their song?  This did it.  Big time.  Randy: “You’re so dope.”  Paula: “You’re magical.”  See-moan: “You took a song, you absolutely made me believe you recorded it originally…it was a vocal masterclass.”  Again, we’re all on the same page!

– Seacrest encourages ballot-box-stuffing.

– Even with all the giving back, we still  have time for Beatbox Blake to hang in the Sponsored Cola Lounge and answer a fan question.

– And the Beatbox picks John Lennon’s “Imagine.”  Ballsy choice, as usual.  And he does a great job, as usual.  The original:

What’s so great about Blake is that he picks cool songs and does them “cool-ly.”  This was just a soft, controlled performance, as the song requires.  Randy thought it was OK.  Paula thought it was OK, but then really liked the emotional display from Blake.  See-moan thought it was a little flat, but liked the sincerity.  Again, he connected with the song.

– So far, great show.  Everyone’s stepping it up!

– Seacrest is in Africa, goofing around with the hungry folks.

– LaKisha again chooses a former Idol contestant’s song, with Fantasia’s “I Believe.”  Really, why is she doing that?  There are millions of inspirational songs out there.  Not sure how I’m feeling about this one.  I think it wasn’t one of her strongest vocals.  But it was also a return to her comfort zone.  Randy liked it, but didn’t think it was her best…bringing up the Fantasia-effect.  Paula called her a “powerhouse vocalist” but had trouble comparing her to Fantasia.  See-moan thought she shouted a bit.  This could be the end of the road for her.

– Phil answers questions in the Sponsored Cola Lounge.

– After the rave reviews of his country twist, he’s staying in the genre with “The Change” by Garth Brooks.  Probably a good idea.  Phil kind of sounds like Richard Marx tonight.  Someone back me up?

I like Phil, but this didn’t do it for me.  Good vocal, but it didn’t have enough “wow” factor outside of the high notes, which he hit well.  Not bad, but kind of dull.  Randy pointed out the country connection and he liked it.  Paula loved it, called it his best.   See-moan liked it, but wanted to hear more country tone…he thinks that could propel him through the competition.  I agree.

– Wasn’t Bono the mentor this week?  Did I hear that wrong?  I’m confused.

– See-moan visits a food bank.  They were giving away Matzah.  I saw it with my own two eyes.

– Jordin closes the show with “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” a showtune from Carousel.

Best version of the song ever:

Yes.  It’s a soccer song, too.  I love soccer.

But I digress.

Another breathtaking performance from Jordin.  Starpower, baby.  Randy called it one of the best vocals ever on American Idol in the show’s history.  Paula called her “glorious.”  See-moan thought she was fantastic and that she could release that as a single and do well.

Most Valuable Performer: Wow…terrific performances all around.  I’ll give Melinda the nod.  Chris saved himself from elimination.  Jordin has made it.

Thanks for reading!  Results tomorrow!