For whom the bell tolls
The mood at 1100 Broadway was not a good one last week.
Sources inside The Tennessean’s newsroom say the place was awash in rumors of layoffs and buyouts on the heels of other cost-cutting measures being announced.
Newsroom staff told The City Paper management was likely targeting somewhere in the neighborhood of 22 to 25 buyouts of long-time employees and that a hiring freeze had been instituted at the Gannett daily — one of the company’s flagship papers.
Major editing positions in the features and sports departments are being filled internally with no outside candidates considered, the same sources said.
Also in the wind was another set of likely spending cutbacks, including limiting the pages color can be printed on and extending the hiring freeze to restrict lateral moves within the immediate Gannett empire. That means young journalists tempted to toil at Gannett’s sweatshop satellite papers in the counties surrounding Nashville with the promise of moving to the Tennessean are out of luck for the time being.
Word of the budgetary changes afoot at the White Tower rippled through the city’s media, political and business communities last week. We are told not a lot of tears were shed.
Props by which to bloviate
In case you missed it, infamous Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly, host of the hit talk and squawk show The O’Reilly Factor, devoted a portion of his June 22 show to discussing Nashville’s alleged fatal DUI case of an illegal immigrant named Victor Benitez.
We probably should have seen it coming, seeing as how the last time O’Reilly turned his attention to Nashville it was to opine about the fatal DUI case of the man who is now Nashville’s most notorious illegal immigrant, Gustavo Reyes Garcia.
But unlike The O’Reilly Factor episode about Garcia, where the conservative host railed on about immigration under-enforcement, this time around O’Reilly focused solely on blaming one of Nashville’s local judges for causing this crash because late last year the judge only sentenced Benitez to seven days in jail on a drunk and disorderly charge.
The guilty judge? General Sessions Judge William Higgins – who, by the way, is known very affectionately around court as “smilin’ Bill.”
But it seems as though the mug of Higgins that was provided to the factor – which, of course, shows a bright-eyed Higgins flashing all 198 of his pearly whites – just wasn’t synching with The Factor’s decision that Higgins was an evil immigrant-lover.
In fact, Rex learned last week that in the hours leading up to the show’s taping, Factor producers were frantically calling around Nashville asking for “a meaner-looking picture of the judge.”
Gotta’ love that fairness and balance.
Dan Sullivan and the luck of the Irish
Mayor Bill Purcell adventured to Belfast, Ireland late last week to celebrate — American Independence Day!
According to the Belfast Telegraph, the American Consulate in Belfast invited Purcell to its Independence Day celebration this year. The event, according to a column in the Belfast newspaper last week, “has been planned to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the American city of Nashville, a place that is often described as America's 'Music City'.
Among our American guests will be Nashville’s Mayor, Bill Purcell, who is traveling to Belfast to celebrate the highly successful Sister Cities relationship between Tennessee's state capital and the city of Belfast. We'll also enjoy the local talents of the Broken String Band who play traditional, acoustic Appalachian bluegrass music at its very best.”
A slate of Nashville musicians was also scheduled to perform. Rex hopes Purcell recruited one of his Irish comrades to open a pub near city hall. He’s been looking for a new hangout since the Sherlock Holmes closed a while back.
Sacking your flack
The state House Democratic Caucus has fired its press secretary, Kenneth Townsend, with its chairman saying the relationship “hadn’t turned out to be a real good fit.”
Rep. Randy Rinks, the chairman of the Democratic Caucus, said the Democratic leadership decided to let the soft-spoken Townsend go.
“He wasn’t showing up for work was the main thing,” Rinks said, adding that Townsend’s writing was “fine.”
Unlike some other legislative aides, Townsend was not nearly as active, rarely venturing to the House floor and sending out few press releases. Many reporters rarely saw or interacted with him, and Rinks said Townsend had trouble “interacting politically.”
But in his defense, Townsend was a decent guy. So good luck to him in his future endeavors.
But does he know the price of milk?
While trying to pump E85 ethanol into a car last week during Biofuels Day, Gov. Phil Bredesen had a little trouble pumping his own gas.
With several TV cameras and newspaper photogs focusing in, Bredesen couldn’t get the pump to start working for a few moments, squeezing the handle several times with no luck.
Then, Bredesen read the instructions on the pump’s screen, and pushed the “START” button.
Miraculously, the pump worked after that.
Comin’ back to Cashville
His sophomore CD Buck The World hasn’t quite exploded for Young Buck (500,000 units at last check) the way Straight Outta Cashville did (now platinum), but he’s stayed busy.
Lately he’s been cranking out stinging answer singles, responding to everyone from Lil’ Wayne (“Off Parole”) to The Game (“Teach Em Bout Playin” with C-Bo) to DJ Khaled. He’s also the only G-unit member who got any love from 50 Cent during a blistering tirade that’s featured in the July issue of Vibe.
“Buck’s sold more records than (MIMS and Rich Boy) because people are beginning to identify with who Young Buck is as an artist,” 50 Cent said.
Sunday he’s returning to Nashville as the headliner on a big rap show at the Municipal Auditorium whose roster also includes The Shop Boyz. There’s nowhere you can go these days without hearing somebody blasting “Party Like A Rockstar, ” a candidate for top urban track of the summer. It’s currently number two on the pop charts and number one on the rap charts, and Lil' Boosie’s also on this bill.
We’ll see if a top ticket of $47 and a general admission price of $27 will be enough to fill the Auditorium.
Rex appears Mondays in The City Paper. Contact him at email@example.com