‘Paul the Octopus’ Now an iPhone App

Paul the Octopus now an iPhone app

Paul, the psychic octopus who predicted World Cup matches with uncanny accuracy, is now an iPhone application.

The Brazilian software developer behind the program, uTouchLabs, describes it as a “fun way to randomly choose between two options.”

“Cinema or theatre? Pizza or sushi? Skirt of dress? Marcia or Andrea? Ask the Octopus?” it says.

The user types in the options and a cartoon octopus chooses between them.

The program costs 99 cents to download from Apple’s iTunes.

Paul, an octopus at an aquarium in Oberhausen, Germany, earned worldwide attention during the World Cup with his predictions, which included Spain’s victory in the final against the Netherlands. (AFP)

CBS Producer who Blackmailed Letterman Up for Emmy

Robert Halderman  AP

The former CBS News producer jailed for trying to blackmail David Letterman is up for an Emmy award.

Robert “Joe” Halderman was nominated Thursday for a News and Documentary Emmy award for his participation in an April 2009 “48 Hours” story about an American exchange student charged with murder in Italy. He was one of four producers cited for the story.

Halderman began a six-month jail sentence in May for trying to extort money from Letterman in exchange for not revealing the late-night host’s office affairs.

The “48 Hours” story is nominated in the category of best continuing coverage of a news story by a newsmagazine. The awards will be presented Sept. 27 in New York.

PBS led the way with 37 news Emmy nominations. CBS had 31 – more than rivals ABC and NBC combined.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

Sultan of Swagger

By MAUREEN DOWD

Big George Steinbrenner could be hard on his employees, especially little George Costanza.

In the hilarious fictional Yankees world depicted on “Seinfeld,” Steinbrenner once had Costanza hauled off to a mental institution.

The Yankees owner testified in court that Costanza was a Communist — “as pink as they come, like a big juicy steak.”

The mercurial billionaire made poor Costanza fetch eggplant calzones and listen to paranoid rants, including one about Babe Ruth: “Nothing more than a fat old man with little girl legs. And here’s something I just found out recently: He wasn’t really a sultan!”

The Steinbrenner doppelganger — shown only from behind and voiced by the brilliant “Seinfeld” co-creator and Yankees fan, Larry David — even scalped his own tickets.

“Who else could be a memorable character on a television show without actually appearing on the show?” Jerry Seinfeld told the OnTheRedCarpet blog after hearing that the larger-than-life Steinbrenner had died of a heart attack on Tuesday, the day of the All-Star Game.

But how did the Yankees owner feel about Big Stein, his oddball yet finally lovable caricature in “Seinfeld”?

My friend David Sussman called “The Boss” his boss for eight years, working as the Yankees’ general counsel, and for the last five of those, as the team’s chief operating officer as well. He shared the inside-baseball story on Steinbrenner’s relationship with “Seinfeld,” which was, suitably, oddball yet finally lovable.

In the mid-’90s, NBC contacted Sussman to ask Steinbrenner to do a cameo on an episode and to get his permission to use a Yankees pennant on the wall of Jerry’s apartment. The Boss considered the part demeaning and refused both to appear — “Why would I do that?” he snapped — and to allow the pennant to be used.

When the show aired a few days later with the pennant on Jerry’s wall, Steinbrenner didn’t say anything.

A year later, Seinfeld came back with a minor request, Sussman recalled. The star wanted permission to use a Yankees uniform in an episode where George Costanza decides to switch the uniform from polyester to cotton — a disaster once the cotton shrinks.

Seinfeld had already arranged for the Yankees right fielder Danny Tartabull and manager Buck Showalter to appear on the show.

Sussman told him that, given the earlier script and the unauthorized use of the pennant, Steinbrenner would never agree. Seinfeld apologized profusely to Sussman and asked for another chance. Couldn’t the lawyer just show The Boss the script? Seinfeld faxed it over to Sussman with the usual Hollywood cover note, ending “Your friend, Jerry.”

At the end of a long day of business meetings in Tampa, Sussman told Steinbrenner about Seinfeld’s request.

“Didn’t they screw us last time?” barked The Boss, whose role model was George Patton.

Sussman conveyed Seinfeld’s apology and told Steinbrenner that “this is an innocuous script that doesn’t involve you.” He explained that Danny and Buck were appearing on the show.

The owner retorted, “I’ll be the judge of that. Let me see the script.”

Noticing the sign-off on the cover letter, Steinbrenner, sensitive even to imagined breaches of loyalty, needled his lawyer: “Oh, I can see you and Jerry are becoming close friends.”

After reading less than a page, Steinbrenner angrily threw down the script. “I thought you said this doesn’t involve me?” he bellowed.

Sussman tried over and over to reassure him that this script contained no cameo for the owner.

“Then,” Steinbrenner demanded, “what are all of these references to ‘George’ in the script?”

Sussman was stunned but tried to explain: “ ‘George’ is George Costanza. He is a character on the show. He is a friend of Seinfeld’s, and he plays the role of one of your employees.”

Steinbrenner acted incredulous, intoning: “I thought you were smarter than that. Don’t you see? This is how they are trying to get at me. They have named their character after me.”

All attempts to tell him that the “George” character had been on the show since it started were brushed aside.

“Here’s what we do,” Steinbrenner declared. “Call your friend Jerry back and tell him he has Mr. Steinbrenner’s permission to use the Yankees uniform but on one condition: He changes the name of the Costanza character. In fact, have him name this character after you, David.”

Sussman conveyed the good news/bad news message to Seinfeld, who was understandably befuddled. The Boss declined to return Jerry’s phone calls to Tampa.

The following Friday, Steinbrenner called Sussman to discuss business, and then seemingly casually noted: “Oh, yes, that request from your friend Jerry Seinfeld. I watched that ‘Seinfeld’ show last night. It is a really funny show. And the George character is great. So you tell your friend Jerry he has my permission.”

And that’s how George and George coexisted happily ever after.

NY Times

Late Night Dominance Coming to an End?

 strangebillions.com

The day, or rather, the night of dominance by late-night talk show hosts seems to be passing.

Now, that the Conan O’Brien debacle is history, Jay Leno remains the late-night king. But, even he doesn’t have nearly the audience he once had.

David Letterman’s also down, along with the two guys who come right after Leno and Letterman: Jimmy Fallon and Craig Ferguson.

Jimmy Kimmel’s audience has increased along with tremendous promotion by ABC. Kimmel also may be benefiting from stronger ratings for “Nightline.”

Also up is Chelsea Handler on E!

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

U2 Announces Rescheduled Dates for U.S. Tour

The U2 summer concerts that were postponed after Bono’s back surgery have been rescheduled for the spring and summer of 2011.

The band was supposed to start the second U.S. leg of their “360” tour on June 3 in Salt Lake City, but Bono had to undergo emergency surgery in May.

Live Nation announced Tuesday that the rescheduled tour will start May 21 in Denver and run through July 23, 2011, in Minneapolis.

U2 Manager Paul McGuinness thanked fans for their patience, saying: “The band wants to get back to where they belong, surrounded by their audience.”

The band starts their European tour Aug. 6 in Turin, Italy.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

Octopus Oracle Paul to Retire After Perfect Predictions

No more World Cup, no more octopus oracle.

Paul, the octopus who became a pop culture sensation by correctly predicting the outcome of as many World Cup matches as he has legs — all seven of Germany’s games plus the Spain-Netherlands final — is going to retire.

The intuitive invertebrate will “step back from the official oracle business,” Tanja Munzig, a spokeswoman for the Sea Life aquarium in Oberhausen, told AP Television News.

“He won’t give any more oracle predictions — either in football, nor in politics, lifestyle or economy,” she said. “Paul will get back to his former job, namely making children laugh.”

However, Paul took one last curtain call on Monday. Aquarium employees presented the octopus with a golden cup — similar to the official World Cup trophy.

Although the cup was garnished with three mussels, Paul ignored it for several minutes as it was lowered into his tank.

He finally picked off one mussel and devoured it in front of television cameras.

Paul won worldwide attention as he called all of Germany’s games correctly — including its semifinal defeat by Spain. He crowned his career by forecasting correctly that Spain would beat Holland in Sunday’s final. 

Since Paul is an international celebrity of the highest order now, everyone wants a piece of him – both literally and figuratively. Italy is trying to claim that he was caught in Italian waters, Spanish businessmen are trying to buy him for €30,000 ($38,000), and Dutch priests tried to dismiss him.

But in Spain, Paul is an icon. The Spanish prime minister has already spoken of his desire to protect “Pulpo Paul” and the mock up of a new version of Spain’s flag could be dangerously close to becoming real.

So what becomes of Paul now? Well, he’ll probably continue to live out the remainder of his days at the Sea Life aquarium in Oberhausen, Germany, no longer forced to pick his food out of flag-covered boxes while surrounded by an obscene number of media types. He will swim at his leisure and continue to be oblivious to the existence of sports. He will retire a winner and a global sensation – what every other octopus (and even a few pundits) wishes they could be. 

(AP contributed to this report.)

Really? Ditch Your Vuvuzela for Free KFC

 Telegraph.co.uk

Now that the World Cup is over, what will you do with those infamous vuvuzelas?

KFC is offering a chance to get rid of them and score on a free treat at the same time. The restaurant has launched its “Vuvuzela Exchange Program.” It offers heartbroken soccer fans a free taste of the Colonel’s famous comfort food in exchange for their recently silenced plastic horns.

Here’s how it works, the first 500 U.S. residents to mail in their vuvuzela to KFC Headquarters by July 15 will get a KFC gift check to try the new Doublicious sandwich for free. The Original Recipe Doublicious includes and Original Recipe filet topped with bacon, Monterey Jack cheese and Colonel’s Sauce.

For more information on how to take part in the exchange program click here.