By admin | July 22, 2009 - 4:31 pm - Posted in, Reviews


For the past year (well, from April 2008-July 2009), I have been a reporter at, a travel site that just launched this June. Like most startups, Oyster’s origins were shrouded in mystery until recently. For starters, we didn’t want the competition to know what we were up to. Also, it took us about a year to decide on a name (I fought for “Sherpa” and lost).

As one of Oyster’s first reporters, I got to travel all around Aruba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Miami and New York, reviewing and thoroughly photographing 45 hotels in my wake. Here, in no particular order, are my favorite reviews from a year of whirlwind reporting:

Shelborne Beach Resort


What the The Golden Girls would look like if the cameras kept rolling 20 years on — everything was a shade of yellow, sometimes several all at once. At best, buttercup; at worst, buttermilk. On the plus side, these quiet and affordable digs are in the heart of raucous South Beach party scene.

Ritz-Carlton South Beach

Ritz_ThumbRemember Hector Elizondo’s hotel manager in Pretty Woman? Remember how nice he was to Julia Roberts, even though she was clearly a prostitute? I rolled up to the Ritz-Carlton in dirty jeans and a rumpled shirt expecting to feel out of place, but everyone made me feel like I belonged.

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By admin | April 16, 2008 - 1:26 pm - Posted in Editorial, Published, The Huffington Post

indian kids protest

My friend Chandni pointed this out to me in The New York Times today. The Olympic torch is passing through New Delhi tomorrow, and the Indian government is apparently so afraid of violent protests that it might not allow the adults to attend the relay. Children, however, are another matter:

India Puts Children on the Front Line

As the Olympic torch circumscribes the globe causing flare ups in its wake, the biggest protest may be tomorrow in New Delhi. India is home to the Dalai Lama and was the first safe harbor for Tibetan refugees when China annexed their homeland in 1950. So it’s no small wonder that the Indian government is rolling out reams of barbed wire to protect the Chinese embassy ahead of the torch’s arrival. The New York Times reports that over 10,000 police officers ands members of India’s security forces will safeguard the torch’s route through the capital. Police even pre-emptively arrested dozens of Tibetan protesters earlier this week.

So in this state of heightened security, who is the government going to allow to cheer on the torch bearers as they pass through the city? According to The New York Times, ordinary civilians may be banned from attending the event with the exception, of course, of “selected schoolchildren.”

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By admin | April 2, 2008 - 3:20 pm - Posted in News, Published, The Huffington Post

Shepherd Leno
A short video clip I posted today on The Huffington Post. Watch the full thing — if you can find it — on Leno’s site or Red Lasso as well. She has a pretty funny skit on how Obama is the only man who can find bin Laden.

Sherri Shepherd Jokes About Diabetes And Amputation, Says Dieting Is Like Sex With No Orgasm

The View‘s Sherri Shepherd was on “The Tonight Show” last night. After caressing fellow guest David Beckham ??and prompting Jay Leno to remind her that had only 20 minutes left ??she told Jay about discovering that she had Type 2 Diabetes.

“Black people don’t talk about diabetes that much,” says Shepherd. “I never knew anything. I thought everyone had an uncle with a leg cut off!”

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The Britney Show

At The Atlantic’s panel on celebrity and the media at New York University:

You’re Asking for It: Chasing the Logic of the Paparazzi

If an embittered celebrity had wanted to take out the industry that profits off of her imperfections, New York University’s School of Journalism would have been a good place to start. The dons and doyennes of gossip were all there for ‘The Britney Show,’ a panel organized by The Atlantic in honor of its current issue featuring an article by David Samuels on the media’s obsession with the bedraggled pop star. Justin Smith, editor in chief of The Atlantic said that unlike (ahem) other magazines, “when we put Spears on the cover, we did it at the peril of our news-stands sales. So even though we wrote a story about how Britney sells, our people were telling us that we were crazy to put her on our cover.”

They smiled. In an arc before the audience were Regis Navarre, proprietor of Los Angeles’ X17 paparazzi agency; his wife Brandy who heads; Richard Johnson, editor of Page Six; and Bonnie Fuller, the former editor of Us Weekly and currently the editorial director of American Media. They look nothing like the scruffy paparazzi hounding starlets on In fact, they look more like stars themselves, gleaming from the millions they have made following the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Rounding out the panel and playing the voice of the people were Virginia Heffernan of the New York Times Magazine and David Samuels, who led the discussion.

Samuels’ first question was pitched to Fuller who is often credited with helping celebrity gossip make the leap from tabloids to magazines. Why, asked Samuels, did she do it? “I liked reading a lot of European magazines,” she said, “and I loved to see the pictures of celebrities on the street. So if I liked it, I thought others would.” It appealed to her as a woman, says Fuller who theorizes that magazines like Us Weekly have an 85% female readership because, “women like to talk to friends about their lives.” They have mutual friends to gossip about in school, but not in the workforce. “You could go to a party where you don’t know anyone,” she says, “But you all know Britney and Angelina.”

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Erin Burnett MSNBCLittle did I know that this story would garner me the most comments so far out of anything I had written at The Huffington Post. That screen capture shot of Erin Burnett had to be perfectly times, by the way. Ahh… the joys of small victories:

Sorry, Fox Business! CNBC Has Best Week In Five Years

CNBC has the last laugh on Fox Business. Just yesterday, Fox Business bought ad space in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal slamming CNBC star Jim Cramer for his “Bear Stearns is fine” comment a week before the investment bank’s collapse. The ad claimed that those would be Cramer’s ??and CNBC’S ?? “Famous Last Words.”

But on the heels of an economy nearing recession and a major investment bank’s collapse, CNBC has just had its best week in five years. According to TVNewser, the network saw its best week since March 17, 2003 in total viewers, averaging 289,000. The week also set the record for the highest take for CNBC since July 22, 2002.

If “turbulent times call for a credible network,” as the Fox Business advertisement claimed, then viewers seem to have found their channel.

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national magazine nominees

I slaved over this! Putting together a list of the finalists along with links to the articles in question is FAR tougher than it seems. Still, here is — to the best of my knowledge — the only list with links, wherever possible, to the nominated pieces:


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By admin | - 5:01 pm - Posted in News, Published, The Huffington Post

cnn gay homeless teensAnother news blast for The Huffington Post:

Anderson Cooper, “60 Minutes,” “20/20,” Take Home GLAAD Media Awards

CBS, ABC, and CNN can all count themselves winners after The 19th Annual Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Media Awards, which were given out last night at the Marriott Marquis in New York.

Segments from CBS’ “60 Minutes” (“Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” seen below) and ABC’s “20/20” (“My Secret Self: A Story of Transgender Children”) tied for outstanding TV news magazine journalism. CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” won the award for outstanding TV journalism for “The First Casualty,” a segment on gay homeless teens.

CBS’s “As the World Turns” won for outstanding daily drama. The show had gained a lot of attention over the past year for including a gay romance in its main storyline. This is not the first time “Turns” has featured gay characters, however. Back in 1988 it was the first American soap opera to feature a gay male character.

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Gene Wilder Willy Wonka

I never would have thought that I’d have the chance to interview Willy Wonka. But my editors were kind enough to give me the golden ticket!

A Silver Streak in His Golden Years: Gene Wilder’s Latest Novella

Gene Wilder is out with a new book. The Hollywood icon beloved for the characters he played in “The Producers,” “Young Frankenstein,” and “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” not to mention the series of comic escapades he made with the late Richard Pryor through the 1970s and 80s, published his first book in 2005. The autobiography, “Kiss Me Like A Stranger,” (2005) is a short, breezy read, free from the “he said, she said”s one expects from celebrity tell-alls. The book was a success: his combination of honesty and gracious acceptance meant that it was never vicious, even as it candidly chronicled his tumultuous relationships.

His next effort, “My French Whore,” (2007) was an even shorter read but was packed with action. It’s hero Paul Peachy, a simpleton from Milwaukee, discovers unexplored depths when he is captured by German soldiers in the First World War and passes himself off as top spy Harry Stroller. The Germans give him Annie Breton, the “French Whore” in question, as a prize and Peachy promptly falls in love. Just like his memoir, “My French Whore” unabashedly describes sexual desire and revels in the thrill of a budding relationship. Wilder brings the same sensibility to his latest novella, “The Woman Who Wouldn’t“. The year is 1904 and Jeremy Webb, a famous violinist, is at a retreat in Badenweider, Germany, recovering from a nervous breakdown he had mid-concert. There he meets a beautiful Belgian, Clara Mulpas, who rebuffs his every attempt to flirt with her. Clara, it turns out, is carrying her own dark secret.

I spoke with Gene Wilder about this new book which, in a way, is a romantic re-imagining of his marriage to “Saturday Night Live” actress Gilda Radner who died of cancer in 1989.

***(Warning: Spoilers Follow)***
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Locy LA TimesA short piece I wrote for The Huffington Post:

LA Times Editorial Defends Reporters’ First Amendment Rights

Former USA Today reporter Toni Locy is being held in contempt of court by U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton for refusing to identify the law enforcement sources cited in her report on the investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people. Walton’s ruling requires her to pay fines beginning at $500 a day for seven days, which escalate to $1,000 daily for the next week and to $5,000 per day for the week after.

Locy is fighting back. This Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit stayed Walton’s order for the course of her appeal. But today’s LA Times editorial, written in defense of Locy and the First Amendment, paints a grim picture for other journalists:

Even if she does (win), other reporters could be pressed to choose between bankruptcy and a violation of professional ethics. Until the Supreme Court reverses a wrongheaded 1972 holding that the 1st Amendment does not protect a reporter’s privilege, protection must come from Congress.

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John Adams

Not to mention David Morse, Tom Hooper and David McCullough!

‘John Adams’ Premiere: Talking To Paul Giamatti, Tom Hanks And David McCullough

The long-awaited HBO adaptation of David McCullough’s Pulitzer Prize winning John Adams got the green light a year ago, and the seven-part mini series will be premiering this Sunday, March 16th, at 8:00 PM (EST).

The second episode of “John Adams” had a special screening at the Museum of Modern Art last week with Davis McCullough, Director Tom Hooper, Executive Producer Tom Hanks and stars Paul Giamatti (John Adams) and David Morse (George Washington). Here is what they told Huffington Post about the making of the film, how our current candidates wouldn’t last a day in the 16th century, and how 2008 may be our most historic year yet.

David McCullough (Author) on 2008 vs. 1797:

“This year, very historic. Very. You’re seeing history made right now and there’s not enough appreciation of that. It’s truly… something phenomenal is happening right now. They (John Adams and his peers) didn’t know how it was going to turn out, but they knew that they were involved in one of the most important revolutions in all of history. And they said so. Adams says so. He says so in the film. And what he says in the film is what he really said. That’s a very important point because he, because these lines are again again and again exactly what he said. They’re not made up.”

“I’ll tell you. Deceased politicians are my specialty, not the living ones. Because I think you have to wait about 50 years for the dust to settle. You have to know what comes afterward in order to make a fair appraisal. When Harry Truman left office, he had a rating lower than what President Bush has now. And we now see that he was a very great president. Now that doesn’t guarantee that someone with a low rating always winds up having a great… being perceived as an important and great president. But you don’t know what’s going to come next. Nor did they then anymore than we do now.”

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