In Other News… Schnatter steps down, Bowen and UofL, the saga of KentuckyWired, Lawrence’s Hunger Games’ legacy
Papa’s Got a Brand New CEO: John Schnatter, founder of Papa John’s, will be stepping down as the pizza chain’s CEO, says The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Hill.
Steve Ritchie, the company’s president and COO, will take the top spot starting Jan. 1, 2018. Mr. Ritchie started at Papa Johns in 1996 as a customer service rep, working his way up over the last 20 years. He was already expected to succeed Mr. Shnatter as CEO at some point; the move just happened sooner than anticipated. Mr. Schnatter will remain as chairman of the company’s board.
Most every headline suggests Mr. Schnatter’s move could be tied to comments last month, attributing declining pizza sales on a decrease in NFL viewership, which Mr. Schnatter contended, came as a result of player protests. Those comments earned Papa John’s a healthy amount of backlash from the general public and the unwanted support of white supremacists groups, with neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer wondering if Papa John’s could be the “pizza of the alt right.”
The company issued an explanation/apology. Here’s Peter Collins, the company’s senior director of public relations, from early November:
“We condemn racism in all forms and any and all hate groups that support it. We do not want these individuals or groups to buy our pizza.”
Nevertheless, Papa John’s shares are down by roughly 13 percent from where they were the day before Mr. Schnatter’s comments.
Mr. Ritchie declined to say if the move is related, but said it’s “the right time to make this change.”
“I want to put the focus back on our people and pizza.”
Cardinal Sin, Week 13: ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” talked with former University of Louisville recruit, Brian Bowen, in his first interview since a FBI investigation released in September uncovered alleged malfeasance at several institutions throughout the NCAA, including the University of Louisville.
The investigation claims, among other things, the university funneled $100,000 from its sponsor, Adidas, to the family of Brian Bowen in exchange for Mr. Bowen’s commitment to play for the Cardinals. Coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich were let go from the university a few weeks later; no formal charges have been filed, though the investigation continues, and both maintain their innocence.
As does Mr. Bowen. He told OTL:
“I was shocked. I didn’t believe it at all. … They have to be lying. There’s no way I’m involved in it.”
“I don’t know anything about it.”
Here’s a clip:
He says he and his father don’t talk about the allegations and he has difficulty believing his father accepted the money. The attorney for Mr. Bowen Sr. says he continues to cooperate with the FBI.
For the younger Bowen, he says he felt like the university left him out to dry, suspending him immediately and withdrawing support.
“I feel like I’m a victim because of greedy adults.”
Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated called your University of Louisville battling basketball Cardinals “one of the country’s most intriguing teams” this week. Not necessarily a good team, as they point out the Cardinals have yet to beat a top-50 team, but one to watch, particularly against the backdrop of all the shenanigans of the past few months. Or years.
From Sports Illustrated:
With a program-rocking scandal hanging over their heads and a novice, throw-in-the-deep-end coach at their helm, the Cardinals have neither excelled nor truly disappointed. They have taken care of business when they should have, and their losses have at least come against high-quality competition. While their four-forward lineup is far from conventional, by many measures they do not look terribly different from Louisville teams we came to know under Pitino in recent years: they pressure opponents, don’t shoot many threes, are better at stifling scoring (15th in defensive efficiency) than doing it themselves (51st on offense), and block a lot of shots (20.9% of opponents’ two-point attempts, most in the country). If the same overall caliber of play is not quite there, it is at least not dramatically different in style.
Which doesn’t sound particularly intriguing on its face — a team that is playing to its character, who’s winning the games it should and whose losses are understandable — I mean, that’s not terribly interesting. But for a team that should have imploded under the amount of adversity and scrutiny it’s under — that’s quite remarkable.
And your Cardinals picked up another win this week, says USA Today, defeating the Great Danes of Albany. That’s five wins in a row. They’ll face off against the Grand Canyon Antelopes (8-3) Saturday and then next Friday, they’ll take on the No. 7 University of Kentucky winning Wildcats, also yours. That’s the big test, right there.
While we’re here: happy birthday, basketball, invented 126 years ago yesterday by Dr. James Naismith in 1891. He hung a couple of peach baskets in a Canadian YMCA, gave kids a soccer ball and let them go to town.
On this date in 1891 at the Springfield YMCA the first basketball game ever played took place. James Naismith posted the rules that he invented and hung a couple of peach baskets up to play on. The game has come a long way since then, thanks Dr. Naismith for getting it started! pic.twitter.com/bkveRYWEaf
— Mass Premier Courts (@MPCourts) December 21, 2017
Connected: Wired has an in-depth profile looking at the efforts of cities to allow low-cost, open access to fiber and the efforts of special interest groups, namely the Koch brothers to shut them down. Louisville is Exhibit A.
Louisville was all set to get Louisville all set up with fiber as part of the Kentucky Wired project, providing the city a great service and at a savings of around $10 million. So a bit of a no-brainer. Only the Taxpayers Protection Alliance out of Washington D.C., a group supported by the Kochs, were here to lobby against the deal.
Of their efforts in Louisville, here’s a typical message:
“Google suspended its fiber efforts in many cities due to cost – now wants Louisville taxpayers to foot the $5.4M bill.”
That Kentucky Wired has nothing to do with Google or any company in particular is another matter. And my tax dollars can go to a bridge we still have to pay to use, an arena many Louisvillians can’t afford to visit and a brand spankin’ new soccer stadium, but it’s a bad deal for those tax dollars to go to a service that would benefit just most of the populace on a daily basis? Where you at, TPA?
That’s where Grace Simrall, Louisville’s chief of civic innovation, and the city stepped up their own efforts, demonstrating not only the public good but the economic benefits and eventually won out.
That’s a really fast summary of the “and they won!” part of that. The article goes into better detail.
So why do the Koch’s care if Louisville is connected or not? Ms. Simrall doesn’t think they do. She says: “It’s all their way of opposing particular municipal or state efforts.” To push more and more services into the private sector over the public sector. Where your dot falls on the political spectrum likely determines how you feel about that. But once again, it’s easy to see how important it is to attempt to divide the populace, to pull us to one side or the other. There’s a group who views the public as citizens and a group that views them as consumers and if you don’t have the capital to consume, you don’t matter to the equation so much.
According to Politico, that’s the next Koch brothers project: to sell you on the tax bill that just passed Congress this week. The bill remains unpopular across the land, so Americans for Prosperity, the grass-roots arm of the Koch operation, will launch a multimillion-dollar campaign to sell the bill.
The bill’s already passed, so why spend millions to sway the public unless, you, I don’t know, want to make sure your party doesn’t pay the price in the coming election…
You know, it seems the truly radical idea in our age is the moderate, who posits you can have an educated citizenry with basic needs met, placing its members in a better position to be responsible consumers to power a robust and stable economy, where competition and innovation can flourish because people aren’t in fear of losing the most basic aspects of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the name of everyone for himself or herself.
Because the Wired story is a great example of how we can create win-wins for everybody. We have the economic, intellectual, creative and social capital to solve pretty much all of everything.
But why do that when we can just shout at each other?
Merry Christmas, everybody! Here’s a bat.
Trailblazer: Entertainment Weekly describes how Ms. Lawrence’s “The Hunger Games” franchise paved the way for the new “Ocean’s 8” film, due in theaters this coming June.
People loved the trailer, so let me get that for you:
Gary Ross, the writer/director for “The Hunger Games,” serves as writer/director for “Ocean’s 8,” which is in the same world as the original “Ocean’s” movies and carries the blessing of Steven Soderbergh, the helmer of the modern “Ocean’s” series. Mr. Soderbergh is producing the new film alongside star and Kentuckian George Clooney.
I don’t cover George Clooney enough and he’s well within the purview of the column. We’ll fix that in the New Year.
What was I saying? “Hunger Games.” Yes. So Gary Ross says people told him he was crazy for doing “The Hunger Games” because peers believed the focus on its strong woman lead wouldn’t sell.
“When I did Hunger Games I had so many people warn me that it could never be successful, not because of the violence or anything like that but that no one would ever go to a movie with this kind of female protagonist. I disagreed. I loved making that movie for that reason. I loved seeing Jennifer in that role and seeing her be empowered in that way and seeing boys and girls respond to it equally.”
“I just thought it was interesting to invade the terrain that always had an off-limits sign. That’s an important thing to do. And it would be great to see all these women do something that had always been the province of men.”
I remember those talks around “Wonder Woman” too, before it went into production. There were all the memes about one company not being able to advance one of its icons and arguably the most recognizable woman superhero in the world, but the other company could do a movie with a talking raccoon.
And then “Wonder Woman” proved itself to be the best thing Warner Bros. has put out for their comics films — though “Suicide Squad” is now the Academy Award-winning “Suicide Squad”— and received both the critical acclaim and box office love it deserved.
Not for nothing, the same raccoon-based criticism could be thrown Marvel’s way too — their raccoon made it to the screen years before their own “Captain Marvel.” She’s not scheduled for the big screen until 2019 — five years after “The Guardians of the Galaxy.”
So what gives?
Five-Thirty-Eight took a look at that very thing back in 2014, pre-“Wonder Woman”; post-“Hunger Games” and here’s what they discovered. Supposition: Hollywood believes audiences, both domestic and abroad, have no interest in seeing women in leading roles and movies starring men have a better chance for a larger audience. Or simply women will go to a “men’s” movie but guys won’t go to a “women’s” movie. And if you put a woman in the lead, it’s automatically a “women’s” movie.
But the numbers did not support that. In fact, their data showed the dollar-for-dollar investment to actually yield better results. Films passing the Bechdel Test, a film in which there are at least two women talk to each other about something other than a male character, performed better or as well as films that did not.
But now, the tides may ever so slowly turning.
Last week, we talked about the opening of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” It appears to have made about $70 gabillion in its opening, the second-highest grossing opening weekend in the history of ever.
And I am one of maybe 12 people who have yet to see it. It’s me, a farmer in Newfoundland, a guy who just awoke from a coma and like, some babies born just this morning. My priorities are slipping.
Still managed not to hear too much other than some of you really loved it and some of you very much did not. So I’m excited to find out which camp I’ll be in, should I ever get it together and see the thing.
If you have seen the film, Wired has a fun analysis of star warfare: “In The Last Jedi, The Resistance Keeps Making The Same Tactical Mistake.” Penned by Angry Staff Officer, it looks at the pitfalls of the rebellion’s military strategy and what they should have learned in the 30 years in between its battles with the Empire and now the First Order.
I had to stop reading once they started talking about events from the current movie, but here’s a good one: the giant walking tanks can only shoot forward. You should attack from the side or rear instead of head on into the thing that has a really great forward assault and not much else.
Maybe that’s why the Star Wars just keeps going — the combatants are not terribly good at the star wars.
If you celebrated Hanukkah, I hope it was lovely for you and if you’re celebrating Christmas on Monday, all the best to you and yours and a Happy Christmas to you. And if you’re holiday agnostic, then I hope you have a great weekend and manage to stay clear of it all.
Next Friday is your mighty “In Other News…Year in Review” so come on back for all the hits from 2017. It’ll be a doozy.
See you next week.