It was a mixed-bag night for former President Bill Clinton.
First, his appearance at the Democratic National Convention was met with one of the longest ovations ever recorded at such an event. Clinton even acknowledged it, telling the rabid audience, “I love this.”
Yes, he is a rock star.
But then, in a scene right out of the great rock star movie, “Spinal Tap,” Clinton found himself in a jam. He’d returned to his luxury box, which was conveniently located next to the FOX broadcast booth. He sat through Joe Biden’s speech with Hillary and Chelsea. But when Biden was done, and Obama made his appearance, Clinton left his suite.
That’s when the trouble started. By then, the hallway outside his suite was filled with well-wishers. They applauded the ex-pres as he emerged, and many pictures were taken.
Then the Secret Service moved Clinton across the hall and though a pair of black doors marked “Catering.” They were in fact the way to a private elevator. The doors closed behind Clinton and his detail, and people started to move along.
But then it was obvious something was wrong. The Secret Service opened one of the black doors, and there was a lot of activity. It turned out that the president had gotten in an elevator and immediately got stuck. The doors wouldn’t open again. Meanwhile, the dense crowd of delegates and other onlookers pulled out cameras. One man managed to get some part of the whole episode on his professional video camera. Expect to see that soon on YouTube or TMZ.
Eventually, as in a couple of minutes, President Clinton was extruded from the failed elevator and sent down in a working one on the companion line. Secret Service agents suddenly blew out of the “catering” doors and ran through the hallway past us to meet him on the first floor.
Normally we stay out of other networks’ inner workings and private soap operas, but this one if getting worse by the minute.
The trouble at MSNBC has already been reported on Politico.com. But my sources say things are much worse over there than anyone knows. The anarchy at the low-rated, liberal-oriented NBC cabler has been described to me as something akin to the famous novel “Lord of the Flies.”
“No one is in charge,” says my source, who knows the MSNBC players and their problems intimately. “Certainly not Phil Griffin, who’s supposed to be. He’s so enamored of Keith Olbermann that he’s turned the whole place over to him.”
That’s not good news for anchors Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough, who’ve been fighting openly on the mini-network’s convention coverage.
“Keith is Griffin’s boy, and nothing else matters,” my source says. “He doesn’t care about Scarborough, he’s on in the morning. It’s all about the evening shows. And now Keith is running the whole agenda.”
The MSNBC situation is weird enough for NBC, but at least they have a cable news partner. Over at CBS, which has avoided having a cable component, Katie Couric’s news show has had to figure out alternate ways to get their own agenda out.
The result: Katie and her production staff have turned to the Web. They’re now pushing a “DNC Convention Cast” on CBSNews.com. You can ask Katie questions, interact, the whole nine yards.
Couric is working harder than ever, insiders on her staff say, and you can see it on the convention floor. Couric is even doubling her efforts. Last weekend, on her way to Denver, she stopped in Phoenix to interview John and Cindy McCain at length. I’m told the interview will be seen right before the Republic convention starts next week.
It was a big night Wednesday night in a battle of the bands in Denver. Over at the Fillmore, the Black Eyed Peas played a private party for high-priced ticket donors to the Creative Coalition. At the Exdo Center, Kanye West was on to do a set for the One Campaign and the Recording Industry Association of America.
The winner? The Peas, by a pod, even though Jamie Foxx was promising to join Kanye on stage for their “Gold Digger” tweak of Ray Charles. Despite that, fans who dropped in at the Exdo didn’t like what they saw. “The audience was all junior staffers of minor congressmen,” said one media guy who reported in over at the Fillmore.
Meantime, the Peas, with will.i.am and the sensational Fergie, put on a wild nearly two-hour show with lots of stars in the audience. Even though Ellen Burstyn came and went early, there was plenty of A-list action on the dance floor. Susan Sarandon, Matthew Modine, Anne Hathaway, Dana Delany, Kerry Washington, Lynne Whitfield, Tim Daly, Tony Goldwyn, Rachael Leigh Cook, Giancarlo Esposito, Richard Schiff and Connie Britton were just some of the names who were grinding it out to “Let’s Get It Started” and “Where Is the Love?”
Up on the Fillmore mezzanine, Ron Silver, the actual founder of the Creative Coalition almost 20 years ago, recalled the group’s early days. It’s his name on the foundation’s incorporating papers, along with a couple of non-celebs and actor Stephen Collins. “Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, Blair Brown, Chris Reeve, Alec and Billy Baldwin all came later,” Silver said over the din.
There were plenty of other parties Wednesday night, and many of the CC’s younger set headed for a bar called RockStar around 1 a.m. But the big shindig is set for Thursday night, when Vanity Fair puts the last word on the convention after the big rock show at Invesco Field with Steve, Bruce, Jon Bon Jovi, etc.
The most successful director in the world, Steven Spielberg, took in the convention Wednesday night. The “War of the Worlds” director said he hoped a wider audience would get to see the terrific short film he made about veterans that was unveiled on Tuesday night during the convention, narrated by Tom Hanks. …
Of note: Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s campaign is now using Bruce Springsteen’s “The Rising” and John Mellencamp’s “Ain’t that America” refrain from “Pink Houses” as their war chants. These are sanctioned uses, and not borrowed ones that caused trouble in the past for Obama.
Also interesting and most welcome: How much classic R&B the house band at the Pepsi Center covered during the commercials and other breaks over the last few days. There was lots of Motown, Stax and Philly soul and a great rendition of Aretha’s “Chain of Fools." …
Members of rock groups Death Cab for Cutie and Everclear also spotted around the Pepsi Center. Death Cab’s guitarist Chris Walla has proven to be an articulate, interested politico the last few days, even putting up his own blog. …
Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx wandered the Pepsi halls Wednesday night, carrying a little video camera. He got actress Kerry Washington on film, asking the smart beauty what she thought of the convention. “I love being an American tonight!” Washington exclaimed. …
The great actress CCH Pounder, waiting for a car at night’s end, told me she’s getting ready to fly to Botswana to join the cast of the next installment of “The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.”
And just in time for Michael Jackson’s 50th birthday on Friday: his former manager and publicist, Raymone Bain, and, separately, Londell McMillan, Jackson’s most recent attorney, who did a lot of good work for the pop star.
Was Bain with her old pal Jesse Jackson, I asked? “Is Jesse here?” she asked. “I spent the night with the Clintons." …