CNN Poll: Obama’s Approval Rating Edges Up Thanks to Foreign Policy

From CNN:

President Barack Obama‘s performance on national security and international affairs and his image as a strong leader appear to be behind his rising approval rating, according to new national poll conducted as the president was on an overseas visit to four countries.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday indicates that Obama’s approval rating among Americans stands at 54 percent, with 45 percent saying they disapprove of the job he’s doing as president. Obama’s approval rating appears to have steadily risen in the past two months, from 48 percent in early April to 52 percent in early May and the current mark of 54 percent.

“On specific issues, the president’s approval rating is over 50 percent on only three out of 11 items tested, and all three – terrorism, Afghanistan, and Iraq – are foreign or security issues,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “But his approval rating on every domestic issue listed in the poll is well below 50 and on most of them – including the economy, health care, taxes, and the budget deficit – his rating has remained flat or dropped since the start of the year.”

Read more here.

LeBron James Reigniting NBA Viewership

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 26:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat celebrates after the Heat won 83-80 against Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 26, 2011 at the United Center in Ch

LeBron James Reigniting NBA Viewership

by Sam Riches / @sam_riches

Almost 11 months ago, LeBron James made ‘The Decision‘. Almost instantaneously, the fans began to make theirs. Some applauded his tenacity, his courage to make a choice based on his own desires and ambitions. But others felt a sting of betrayal and animosity. The man with the vision of Magic, the athleticism of Dr. J and the versatility of Oscar Robertson had performed his final physical feat for the fans of Cleveland.

A swift kick to the gut.

But his move to Miami brought with it a surge of attention. Attention that is now helping the NBA reach historic heights of popularity. From ESPN:

“With LeBron and the Heat in the championship series, the NBA Finals has a chance to be the highest-rated and most-viewed Finals since the Orlando-Houston series in 1995 or even the Bulls-Portland series, Jordan’s second Finals, in 1992. LeBron — at least temporarily, and probably for the next few years — has done for interest in the NBA what Tiger Woods did for interest in professional golf. LeBron and the Heat have become the tide that floats all boats.

Asked the other night in Chicago about LeBron’s impact on the season, teammate Dwyane Wade said: ‘Once everybody gets over being mad, angry, whatever they are, they have to admit that it’s remarkable how many people took an interest in our team, in the league, in professional basketball beginning that night [July 8]. People who never watched the NBA to that point became interested. And I think we know that now. People who never even watched professional sports became interested in our product. It’s much bigger than us now; look at the interest in the entire league.’

On the eve of the NBA Finals, the dust has settled and LeBron has risen. Reaching the point many predicted he would, despite their afflictions.

The stage is set and it is now up to James, Wade, Bosh and Co. to complete the last step of their journey, or in their case — the last of their meals. Whether or not the Heat are able to capture the Larry O’Brien trophy, their success has already shifted the landscape of the NBA in a new direction.

‘Rejoice and Shout’: Film Review

From the Hollywood Reporter:

Don McGlynn‘s ‘Rejoice and Shout’ is probably the first documentary ever to look comprehensively at the 200-year musical history of African-American Christianity – which is to say gospel music – and may well be the last. It certainly doesn’t seem like McGlynn or his producer, Joe Lauro, who owns a vast collection of old records and music film footage, missed anything significant.

The doc is exhaustive in its compilation of the major acts and personalities in gospel music – to the point the narrative thread almost gets buried under the weight of names, dates, musical styles and vintage performances.

For anyone with a keen interest in this unique American musical form, ‘Rejoice and Shout’ is a must-see and see-again. It’s also a must-have for the home libraries of gospel-music enthusiast. For those whose interest is more casual, the film is almost as exhausting as exhaustive.

You’ve heard of documentaries that preach to the choir? Well, in this one, the choir preaches back!

McGlynn situates this history in the deep-rooted, hardcore religious beliefs of black American Christians and in the highly participatory Pentecostal church services. The historians and artists who accompany the viewer on this tour of musical history speak first of their abiding faith in the Almighty and the spiritual and communal joy of church-going. Then they talk about the music they grew up with.


3-D Starts to Fizzle, and Hollywood Frets

LOS ANGELES — Has the 3-D boom already gone bust? It’s starting to look that way — at least for American moviegoers — even as Hollywood prepares to release a glut of the gimmicky pictures.

Ripples of fear spread across Hollywood last week after “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” which cost Walt Disney Studios an estimated $400 million to make and market, did poor 3-D business in North America. While event movies have typically done 60 percent of their business in 3-D, “Stranger Tides” sold just 47 percent in 3-D. “The American consumer is rejecting 3-D,” Richard Greenfield, an analyst at the financial services company BTIG, wrote of the “Stranger Tides” results.

One movie does not make a trend, but the Memorial Day weekend did not give studio chiefs much comfort in the 3-D department. “Kung Fu Panda 2,” a Paramount Pictures release of a DreamWorks Animation film, sold $53.8 million in tickets from Thursday to Sunday, a soft total, and 3-D was 45 percent of the business, according to Paramount.

Consumer rebellion over high 3-D ticket prices plays a role, and the novelty of putting on the funny glasses is wearing off, analysts say. But there is also a deeper problem: 3-D has provided an enormous boost to the strongest films, including “Avatar” and “Alice in Wonderland,” but has actually undercut middling movies that are trying to milk the format for extra dollars.