Roberts: Potential Supremo Media Maven
If his stock portfolio is any guide, John Roberts could wind up as the most media-savvy justice on the Supreme Court. Roberts, whose confirmation hearings begin next month, has more personal holdings in media and related tech companies—15%-40% of his $3 million in stock investments—than any of the sitting Supremes.
A review of Roberts' recently filed financial-disclosure statement shows that, while much of his money is in mutual funds, six of the 29 individual stocks he owns are in media. The report doesn't detail the holdings, listing only broad ranges. But Roberts owns between $100,000 and $250,000 worth of Time Warner, XM Satellite Radio and Microsoft. He holds smaller stakes in Disney, Scientific-Atlanta and Blockbuster Entertainment.
That's hardly enough for Roberts to move markets. But it's more than his potential court colleagues. The financial reports of the nine current justices are nearly devoid of media stocks. Stephen Breyer owns less than $50,000 worth of Gannett; departing Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has a bit of NBC Universal parent General Electric.
Roberts' appreciation of the media and tech industries might introduce a new comfort level for lawyers who have to argue complex matters like the Grokster case and aren't sure how well the court's older members grasp what's at issue.
Then again, Roberts' very interest in media investing could bar him from hearing important cases. Justices have to recuse themselves from cases involving companies in which they own stock.
Drama Loves U2
Entourage fans enamored of the show's pitiless—and hilarious—dissection of vanity and greed in the entertainment business might have been a bit confused last week when the HBO comedy gave a big wet kiss to the rock band U2.
In the episode, called “I Love You Too,” one of the storylines involved the attempts of Johnny Chase (Kevin Dillon), the dim-bulb brother of heartthrob star Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier), to score tickets to a U2 concert.
Johnny (a.k.a. Drama) virtuously turns down scalped tickets because, he says, U2 is a friend of the “common man” and he can't in good conscience help inflate ticket prices. But then Drama and the gang get into another U2 concert, and the TV audience is treated to a loooong clip from the band's performing at Staples Center in Los Angeles, including an apropos-of-nothing “Johnny Drama” shout-out from Bono.
Viewers could have been excused for a “huh?” reaction. It turns out that series creator—and U2 fan—Doug Ellin and co-producer Brian Burns brokered the band's TV appearance. But Bono's Johnny Drama reference came about thanks to the urging of actor Jeremy Piven, who plays frenetic agent Ari Gold.
The only remaining mystery is why Drama turned down “great” scalped seats for $200 out of respect for U2's supposed solidarity with the common folk. We asked Ticketmaster about the next U2 shows in L.A., in November. The top tickets—the location of which could be terrific or just decent—sell for $171, plus an $11.30 “convenience” charge and $4.50 for handling—a total of $186.80. Sounds like an extra $13.20 for great seats would have been an uncommon bargain.
Book of Snog
Fox Reality Channel is finding that the language of love, or at least lust, isn't exactly universal, even among English-speaking peoples. Neither are idiomatic insults. The all-reality TV channel, which launched in May, scheduled a slew of overseas dating shows and quickly heard from viewers that the slang being slung by contestants on shows from the UK was incomprehensible.
Fox is still hammering out the details, but it appears likely that the network will begin running an on-screen glossary of unfamiliar words.
“We're doing it for international dating purposes,” says COO/General Manager David Lyle, laughing. “Not everyone knows 'snogging' is serious kissing.”
Lyle, an Australian, says that even Fox staffers were confused by some of the language. “We did have to discern the difference between slut, slag and slapper—all descriptions of women of low repute,” he says. Fox personnel were also perplexed by “tosser,” “plonker” and “wanker”—all terms, with varying degrees of nastiness, for male idiots.
Some of the UK shows on Fox Reality include The Villa (eight singles in a Spanish villa, where a computer matches who dates whom each week), Single Girls and more-suggestive versions of the American programs Temptation Island and Joe Millionaire. Or, as we like to think of it, Joe Plonker.