British filmmaker Gurinda Chadha will be directing the film-remake of the 1980s soap opera Dallas, according to the Telegraph. Robert Luketic, who directed Bend It Like Beckham, was given the task of directing Dallas until he changed his mind because of “creative issues”.
What’s stirring up controversy in North Texas is the decision to do the filming in Jacksonville, FL. Texans, former actors on Dallas, and the Dallas film commission are among those unhappy with the decision.
The deal that Jacksonville offered to the producers was apparently too much. The Telegraph reports that “a refund of 15 per cent of all money spent on location up to $2 million” will be given to the filmmakers. Travolta lives near Jacksonville, too.
Now, the Dallas film commission is asking local businesses to offer incentives to the film’s producers, in the hope that they can lure the filmmakers to Dallas-TX for production.
Karl RoveThe President’s chief political advisor, Karl Rove, will be in Houston and Dallas next Wednesday, April 12th for luncheon and dinner fund-raising events on behalf of the Republican National Committee (RNC). John Nau will host the luncheon and roundtable discussion with Rove for major Republican contributors in the Houston area while Nancy Cain Marcus will be the hostess for a similar dinner in Dallas that evening. The Texas events are a prelude to a major Republican gala to be held in Washington, DC in May where President George W. Bush is scheduled to be the featured speaker.
Several weeks ago, DallasBlog reported on a university president that allegedly misused university funds. The Houston Chronicle now has another story on Texas Southern University President Priscilla Slade. The Chronicle reports that, according to TSU’s internal auditor, Slade improperly used university funds for “donations to her church, automobile repairs, a full-time maid and maintenance and upgrades for her previous residence in Missouri City.”
Included in the “upgrades” to Slade’s residence was a garden. Additionally, Slade did not seek approval from the university’s governing board for new furniture that she purchased for her residence.
The total amount: $647,949
Here’s how some of that breaks down:
Home Furnishings: $154,528
Maid Services: $143,636
China, crystal, silverware: $48,363
From the Chronicle:
“Slade is expected to entertain donors in her home and receives $48,000 annually for housing expenses, which is intended to cover mortgage payments and property taxes and supplements an annual salary of more than $260,000. Her contract provides up to $50,000 annually for travel, entertainment and other expenses related to university business. It also says the expenses "shall be reasonable," and subject to approval of the board chairman”
Currently, Slade is on paid leave. Her future at TSU will largely be dependent on the outcome of a pending Harris County District Attorney investigation and a review of the nine-member TSU Governing Board. That outcome may largely be subject to whether or not the board determines if the suspect expenses were “reasonable”.
The Chronicle goes on to add: “Slade has written a check to pay the university for a $138,159 landscaping bill that includes a security gate, masonry and tree removal at her 17,675-square-foot property.”
Two polls are out today on immigration: Fox New/Opinion Dynamics and a new Scott Rasmussen poll. Both polls show that while Americans believe the immigrants are a positive addition to the nation and largely take only jobs other American don’t want, they want the nation’s borders defended, and largely want the illegal immigrants gone.
The Rasmussen poll’s most interesting result is for a question that asks the question:
“One candidate favors building a barrier along with Mexican border and forcing illegal aliens to leave the United State. The other candidate favors expanding the ways that foreign workers can legally get jobs in the US. Which of the two candidates would vote for?”
Forty-six percent (46%) said the hard-liner while thirty-eight percent (38%) said the “expanded opportunity” candidate. However, Rasmussen found that among those who identified immigration as being very important in determining their vote, 67% took the hardliner and only 23% for expanded opportunities.
Rasmussen also found that by a margin of 54% to 36% Americans opposed granting citizenship to the son or daughter of anyone in the US illegally.
The Fox poll found that by a 42% to 30% margin American believe that illegal aliens “help the country and make it a better place to live.” And by a margin of 47% to 34% American believe that illegal immigrants are “taking jobs Americans don’t want” over “taking jobs from American.”
However, a whopping 90% of all American felt that immigration was a very serious or serious issue and by a margin of 35 % to 24% believed it was more important to “secure our borders” than “deal with illegal immigrants already here.” Almost every policy prescription for stemming illegal immigration was favored by large majorities including a margin of 55% for using the military to close the border and 73% for bringing felony charges against employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. By a margin of 50% to 43% American favored building a security fence along the Mexican border.
Dan BrownJudge Peter Smith rules in Dan Brown’s favor in the London case, stemming from a claim by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, two of the authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, that Brown had plagiarized their work in writing The DaVinci Code. Judge Smith declared: "Dan Brown has not infringed copyright. None of this amounts to copying The Holy Blood and the Holy Gail."
The British Court’s ruling in favor of Brown will allow the movie of the same name starring Tom Hanks to move forward on its scheduled release in May.
Bob Novak and Sidney Blumenthal agree on very little. As expected, they’ve taken very different outlooks at Tom Delay’s career in light of his decision to retire from the House of Representatives in June.
For Bob Novak, Tom Delay is one of the greatest and most effective legislative leaders of all time. In his most recent column, Novak writes:
“The suspicion is that the power politics he practiced for the public good was transmuted by those aides into their private gain. It is a stain on what the legacy should be for the most effective legislator of his time.”
According to Novak, Delay’s mistake was bad judgment. Delay simply did not foresee the consequences of going on a “lobbyist-arranged” golf trip overseas.
Blumenthal leaves no room for praising Delay’s congressional record, calls Delay a “bully”, and accuses him of orchestrating a smear campaign from his office. Additionally, he criticizes Delay for threatening moderate Republicans who refused to vote for Clinton’s impeachment. Blumenthal cites Delay’s attempts to “bribe” a fellow Republican congressman with campaign contributions so he would vote for a Medicare bill “favoring big drug companies”.
“DeLay stomped on the Ethics committee, stopping it from meeting to investigate this episode until public outcry forced him to back off.”
Perhaps the most striking difference between Blumenthal’s and Novak’s takes on Delay’s decision to not seek reelection is one name: Jack Abramoff. Novak’s column makes no mention of Abramoff. Blumenthal highlights Abramoff in Delay’s downfall and claims that Delay’s “worst days lie ahead.”
“DeLay's further tribulations will illustrate the corruption endemic to the operation he built. The Republicans must hang on the hope that the campaign funds they raise through the DeLay devised system will enable them to overcome his corrupt taint.”
For mention of Delay, one would have to look to Novak’s March 25thInside Report where Novak recently said that Jack Abramoff has no “derogatory information” on Delay and would not be “implicating him as part of his plea bargain with federal prosecutors.”
Katie CouricThe real winner in Katie Couric's move from NBC's Today Show to the CBS evening news show could well be Meredith Vieira. Vieira, of ABC's The View, will get Couric's old job on Today. All recent data shows the morning shows growing in popularity while the network evening news show are declining. Even local TV stations are getting into the morning action with earlier and earlier news programs. As for the evening news, most people today are either working or commuting when the 5:30 or 6:30 p.m. news comes on, leaving an audience of retirees and stay-at-home moms. Maybe the moms will like Katie-in-the-evening, but our guess is that CBS' uptick in ratings with Bob Schieffer will not be long lasting with Katie. CBS may get a temporary boost because those folks who do watch the evening news will want to check her out, but I'll be surprised if it is longstanding. She just seems a little silly and a little lightweight to be a credible anchor. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Vargas continues to do a good job of solo-anchoring on ABC, in the absence of the Iraq-wounded Bob Woodruff.
Rep. Warrent Chisum, R-PampaThe train appears to be rolling. Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, who was the center around which efforts to block Gov. Perry's plan for a business activity tax, had endorsed the governor's plan. Chisum had offered a bill that would have mostly used the existing surplus to provide additional funds for education and push a final solution to school funding into the next regular session. Chisum hasn't entirely given up on his efforts and makes clear that he will need to see an immovable object in the path of any efforts by local taxing authorities to eat up tax relief with local tax increases. He also says he would like to see his bill along with the governor's bill passed to the senate where that body would have more options.
Gov. Perry noted yesterday that 23 of the state's most powerful business organizations representing businesses and activists with more than 3 million Texas employees have climbed aboard. The backers of Perry's effort range from the Texas Chemical Council representing big oil to the Industrial Areas Foundation on the left to the conservative Houston Partnership. That the governor's list of backers contained some of the most powerful business organizations in the state is not too surprising since the Commission on Tax Reform he appointed included mostly powerful members of those organization. However, the presence of the Industrial Areas Foundation and the Texas Trial Lawyers Association are a surprise.
What the governor has not announced is any staunch or generally Republican organization such as the Texas Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business or the Texas Association of Business (TAB). Both organizations are known to be unhappy with the bill but may decide to either sit on the sidelines or reluctantly back the governor to maintain their influence going forward. Indeed, the new Texas Association of Manufacturers that was first out of the gate behind the governor's plan is seen as something of a challenger to the TAB. The manufacturer's founding force, Tony Bennett, is seen as a key man in having assembled the 23 organizations and a rising influence in Austin.
Other conservative organizations are decidedly unhappy with the governor's plan. Lt. Gov. Dewhurst is also still something of a problem in that he is on record as demanding reform, but has issued somewhat confusing statements regarding his willingness to accept the business activity tax.
Looks like at least one of the parties in the Wright Amendment-Love Field dispute may be willing to negotiate. D/FW Airport favors a regional authority and fewer gates at Love Field as conditions to the repeal of the Wright Amendment. However, Southwest Airlines isn't likely to go for a reduction to only 18 gates (one number mentioned) since it now has 21. Plus, 19 gates are currently used by carriers. American Airlines-funded Stop-and-Think citizens group remains committed to keeping the Wright Amendment in place, according to the story in the ayem today. If nothing more, it suggests that D/FW Airport might consider some kind of compromise agreement if the politicians can agree.
By Easter weekend, Congress could be in agreement on the budget and be ready to extend President Bush’s tax rates on capital gains and dividends. According to the Wall StreetJournal, top Republicans are saying that they can agree on a final bill for taxes and agree on the budget by mid-April.
What’s at stake on the tax rates? President Bush can sign the bill into law by the tax filing deadline……if Republicans can come to an agreement on it. The problem is that factions within the Republican Party are in disagreement over whether or not the legislation should include an Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) provision. The AMT affects taxpayers that have tax preference items such as percentage depletion, long term capital gains, accelerated depreciation, and certain tax-exempt income.
Republicans in the Senate have not been able to get Democratic support on a tax bill without AMT relief, and it looks like House Republicans might be willing to come over on the issue if they can get lower tax rates on investment in the legislation, according to the WSJ.
And the budget? Moderate Republicans in both chambers aren’t happy with the proposed budget’s diversion of funds from domestic programs to defense and homeland security. Achieving agreement on the budget among House Republicans will mean rearranging the numbers in order to appease the moderates.