Hamlet? Booo-oring. There have been some great inappropriate reviewers in history. Melbourne readers still shudder at the memory of ex-hoofer Neil Jillett being let loose on films (his confession that he found the book version of Bonfire of the Vanities too difficult to follow was a high low point). Has Jillett been outdone by John Bailey, theatre reviewer for the Sunday Age? In a review of a reworking of Hamlet (admittedly the scourge of the fringe reviewer’s life) Bailey calls the Great Dane, ‘a boring role’. Really? Hamlet? Sure, there are bad ones, but if you believe the part itself to be tedious, should you reeeeaaally be assessing theatre?
A fun thought re: Rove leaving Channel 10. Where will K. Rudd get puffball questions from the media now? How will he get access to young Australia? And does this mean he might, after over a year of absenteeism, have a large enough gap in his Sunday schedule to appear on Insiders with Barrie Cassidy more frequently? Heaven help us if we see him pull an Anna Bligh and attempt to appear cool and in touch with young Australia on the next season of Celebrity Masterchef. — Crikey reader Rowan Wilde
Conrad Black on teaching his fellow jailbirds. My arrangement with my gracious temporary hosts includes the understanding that while I write a great deal for publication in many places in several countries, I do not describe what happens here, other than in the sketchiest terms. I depart slightly, but inoffensively, from that understanding to record some experiences I have had as a tutor in English to high school-leaving candidates here. — The National Post
Reality TV, Arab style. Cynthia Schneider on TEDTV talks about two popular reality television programs — Afghan-based Afghan Star and Saudi-based Poet of the Millions. Both are merit-based competitions where winners are selected through SMS-based voting, and Schneider says that they are sparking radical changes in traditional Arab societies. Arabic reality TV programs are reviving traditional dress, dance, music and poetry — art forms which have been banned by the Taliban for many years; and creating avenues for female participation in the public sphere.
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Schneider argues that reality TV is training the Middle East in the practice of democracy. The most popular reality TV contestants often have dedicated volunteers who campaign on their behalf to help them win the talent competitions, and there is even a reality TV program called The Candidate where contestants present policy platforms that are then voted on by the public. — Crikey Intern Michelle Loh
Belle du Jour outs herself. Meet Belle de Jour, the anonymous blogger and former prostitute whose explicit, funny, articulate, eye-popping online Diary of a London Call Girl has fascinated millions of readers worldwide. Speculation about the author’s identity has been rife for six long years. Belle is the blogger who was never busted, though nearly every media organisation in Britain has thrown its resources at outing her. Her name is Dr Brooke Magnanti. Her specialist areas are developmental neurotoxicology and cancer epidemiology. She has a PhD in informatics, epidemiology and forensic science and is now working at the Bristol Initiative for Research of Child Health. — Times Online
Bloomberg takes over the world. After years of being an underdog pushing its troops to be better and faster, Bloomberg now has an upper hand. Publishing giants like Condé Nast, Time Inc. and The New York Times, with their veteran scribes and rich histories, have laid off people and scaled back. Bloomberg may lack the pedigree and gloss of some of its rivals, but it has one thing they don’t right now: money to throw around. — New York Times
China’s answer to Facebook. Renren.com, often dubbed China’s Facebook, is re-branding itself as a social-networking site for everyone, not just Chinese college students. Like Facebook, the site started in college dorms, but under the name Xiaonei.com, Mandarin for “on campus.”
Unlike Facebook, which opened up its site beyond the educational community but achieved exponential growth without actively marketing it, Oak Pacific hired Saatchi & Saatchi to re-position Renren.com in a campaign that broke this month targeting white-collar workers up to age 35 who surf the web at work but haven’t yet joined the social-networking wave that has already swept through Chinese schools. — Advertising Age
The hazards of viral marketing. When Columbia Pictures launched a marketing campaign for 2012 — the latest disaster movie from serial Earth molester Roland Emmerich, where the planet, played by America, is set for impending doom — they didn’t do it by halves. First, there was a teaser trailer showing a tsunami crashing over the Himalayas. Then, there was a fake website — the “Institute for Human Continuity”. Many didn’t get the joke. Tens of thousands from all over the world panicked, called Nasa, wrote letters — couldn’t they do some saving of people too? – The Guardian