Feb 26, 2008

Starr: McCain's people never talked to me

Various participants in a 1990s Pittsburgh station swap proposal weighed in last week on the nature of Sen. John McCain's involvement in the deal, which has received new scrutiny in light of questions raised by the New York Times about the GOP presidential candidate's dealings with a communications lobbyist. Now Jerrold Starr, a sociologist and activist who opposed proposed Pittsburgh deal, refutes McCain's recent claims that the senator's staff also met with advocates who were against the proposed sell-off. "It never happened," he told ABC News. Any lobbying "would have come through us," said Linda Wambaugh, Starr's co-chair on the so-called Save Pittsburgh Public Television Campaign. "There was absolutely no contact whatsoever -- no meetings, no phone calls, no correspondence."

Seeger doc depicts 'power of song' but no 'stupid things I've done'

Pete Seeger, influential folk singer and activist who was persecuted during the second Red Scare for his former membership in the Communist Party, criticized this week's American Masters profile of him, "Pete Seeger: The Power of Song," because it "didn't show any of the stupid things I've done." (Part of a broader story about Seeger and the film in the Washington Post.) Director Jim Brown didn't try to make a totally balanced film, according to Susan Lacy, executive producer of American Masters (as paraphrased by the Post). "That's not meant in a negative way," Lacy is quoted as saying. "It's just that Pete Seeger is such a principled idealist, such a good man." Not surprisingly, conservative media watchdog NewsBusters has jumped on the doc.

Kids Sprout competitors: nap time and snack time

That's what Sandy Wax, president of PBS Kids Sprout, tells the Philadelphia Inquirer in this interview. The digital cable channel for preschoolers, now carried in 37 million homes, recently moved into Philadelphia's new Comcast Center. Comcast is one of the principal partners on the channel, along with PBS, Sesame Workshop and London-based HIT Entertainment. The 24-hour channel runs ads but has "very strict policies" about what it accepts, Wax says. No sugary cereals, for example, but "[we] love the Geico gecko," she says.