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Jiang Zemin, China’s Former President, Dies at 96

Jiang Zemin, the former President of China has died. He was 96.

News of his death was announced Wednesday by the Central Committee of the Communist Party. It reported that he suffered leukemia and died from multiple organ failure in Shanghai.

Jiang was China’s top leader for almost 10 years from March 1993 to March 2003. His period in office was noted for kickstarting China’s economic growth drive into high gear. He also oversaw the handover of Hong Kong from the U.K. to China in 1997.

Jiang arrived in the top job as a compromise candidate a few years after the 1989 student uprising. He was one of only six Chinese post-1949 leaders to have accumulated so much political influence that he was additionally named as “paramount leader.”

His political philosophy, enshrined in China’s constitution in 2002, was knows as the “three represents.” It positioned the Communist Party as representing advanced productive forces, advanced culture and the fundamental interests of the majority of the Chinese people.

Chatty and smiley, Jiang was sometimes mistaken for a lightweight. He was known for breaking out into song and his avowed love of Hollywood movies.

Jiang has been rarely seen in public since July 2011, when there were widespread rumors of his death. These rumors were reported as fact by Asia Television, Hong Kong’s then number two free to air TV broadcaster. The station was fined by the territory’s media regulator and the erroneous report contributed to the broadcaster’s slow downward slide until closure in 2016.

A letter addressing the party, the military and the Chinese people described Jiang as “an outstanding leader enjoying high prestige acknowledged by the whole Party, the entire military and the Chinese people of all ethnic groups, a great Marxist, a great proletarian revolutionary, statesman, military strategist and diplomat, a long-tested communist fighter, and an outstanding leader of the great cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics,” according to a translation by Hong Kong’s RTHK.

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‘Fate: The Winx Saga’ Producer Judy Counihan Joins Pulse Films as Scripted Creative Director (EXCLUSIVE)

“Gangs of London” banner Pulse Films has hired “Fate: The Winx Saga” producer Judy Counihan as its new scripted creative director.

Counihan, who was most recently creative director at Archery Pictures, has worked across Europe and the U.S. in both film and television for the last 25 years. She officially joins the company in the new year.

The executive has twice won the Oscar for best international feature film, first in 2001 for “No Man’s Land,” and in 1995 for “Antonia’s Line.” Counihan also produced the Oscar-nominated “Before the Rain,” which won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and best foreign film at the Independent Spirit Awards.

At “Riviera” and “Operation Mincemeat” production outfit Archery Pictures, Counihan worked across film and TV drama. She was executive producer on two seasons of Netflix’s global hit “Fate: The Winx Saga.”

Prior to joining Archery, Counihan was CEO of All3Media-backed Solution 3 Productions. Her company produced the comedy series “Bucket” for BBC4 and she also executive produced the series “Bulletproof” for Sky. Counihan has also served as head of film and TV at Objective Productions and was executive producer of drama at IWC Media.

“Judy and I first worked together 15 years ago and I have been looking for an opportunity to find a way to work together since” says Jamie Hall, COO of scripted at Pulse Films. “With her unparalleled film & TV experience in the U.K. and U.S. independent film and television production, her exquisite taste and sensibility, she has earned her the respect of the industry. A creative leader of Judy’s caliber will accelerate Pulse Films’ ambitions to reach even greater heights.”

Counihan said: “This is such an exciting time to be joining the scripted division at Pulse Films. Pulse has an outstanding slate of projects and exceptional relationships with writers, directors, and onscreen talent. I very much look forward to working with the team to make Pulse the go-to place for high-quality, cut-through, talked about drama.”

Counihan joins a new leadership team at Pulse Films, which is now fully backed by Vice Media Group. Pulse co-founders Thomas Benski and Marisa Clifford, who founded the edgy production outfit back in 2005, departed the company following the takeover earlier this year. The company is now managed by COO of scripted Jamie Hall; global creative director of non-fiction Diene Petterle; and global president of commercials and entertainment Davud Karbassioun.

Pulse Films recently launched Season 2 of the Sky and AMC drama “Gangs of London,” starring Sope Dirisu, Joe Cole and Michelle Fairley. Other projects in scripted development include “An Olive Grove in Ends” from novelist Moses McMckenzie, who is also on board for the screen adaptation and drama series “The Perfect Girlfriend,” starring Anna Friel.

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Finals Week Panic Hits UC Hard as 1000s of Academics Continue to Strike

As the strike of 48,000 academic workers at all ten University of California campuses heads into its third week, the students they serve are starting to feel the pain, the Los Angeles Times reports.

UCLA junior Sania Tuli worries that she won’t get the material required when it’s time for her to take her medical college admission exam in 2023, for example. Other students face cancelled classes and shuttered labs.

Meanwhile, some professors are showing solidarity with the academic workers by refusing to teach their classes. On Monday, 300 faculty said they wouldn’t cross picket lines, effectively refusing to teach until the labor conflict was resolved. Other professors remain pledged to their students, crossing picket lines so they can teach them the material they have to master.

But now, with finals approaching, the academic workers’ absence is being felt more than ever by the vast number of students who relied on them to handle critical end-of-the-term responsibilities like grading finals, leading discussions and running labs.

The workers on strike include academic researchers, teaching assistants, postdoctoral scholars, graduate student researchers, tutors, graders, and fellows—student workers who carry out the lion’s share of teaching and research across the UC system They are calling for significant pay raises and better benefits for grad students and postdocs, arguing that they don’t get paid enough to live where they teach in the California.

“People are losing their minds,” said Kip Fulbeck, a UC Santa Barbara art professor. The strike has created the most chaos he’s seen in his three decades on the campus, aside from the pandemic. “Faculty are caught between trying to serve their students but also respect the strikers. Students are caught between trying to complete their work but also support the graduate students. No one seems to know what’s going on.”

The strike is generally well-received by students across the campuses. But the sudden absence of of support these academic workers previously provided, along with the possibility of papers left ungraded is starting to cause the students serious stress about their own academic careers.

“The lectures are pretty complex,” UCLA student Alex Antenen told the Times. “It’s at a pretty high level. And so, when we go to discussion, we can kind of work on those topics more and ask questions with the [teaching assistant]. Not having [a TA] is really difficult.”

Henry, who didn’t give the Times a last name, is a freshman taking multivariable calculus and chemistry classes. He said the teaching assistants were missed and the complicated concepts he was studying couldn’t always be grasped by listening to a professor’s lecture and reading the book by themselves.

“Next week is finals week,” he said. “I think a lot of my peers are feeling pretty shaky.”

Meanwhile, there is a possible end in sight for two of the four groups on strike, their union, United Auto Workers 5810, said on Tuesday. However, the union stressed, they are still on strike.

The UAW announced via Twitter that they had “tentative agreements reached for postdocs & academic researchers at UC! Last night, the UAW 5810 bargaining teams reached tentative agreements on new contracts. They will be put to a membership vote. Details to come. We are still on strike until a contract is ratified.”

A series of tweets detailed their potential gains, which include pay raises:

“These agreements represent a new, best-in-class model that will improve quality of life— and the quality of research—for scientists across the US,” Neal Sweeney, president of UAW Local 5810, in a statement. “It is now time for UC to make serious proposals to academic student employees and student researchers and to reach fair agreements that recognize the contributions these workers make.”


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Oath Keepers Founder Convicted of Sedition in Capitol Attack

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A jury has convicted Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the far-right Oath Keepers militia group, of seditious conspiracy and other crimes, a milestone in the Justice Department’s sprawling investigation into the January 6 attack on Congress. Jurors also convicted Kelly Meggs, the leader of the group’s Florida chapter, of seditious conspiracy.

But the same jury acquitted three other defendants on sedition charges. Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins, and Thomas Caldwell were found not guilty on that count, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years imprisonment. The jury also acquitted Rhodes, Harrelson, and Caldwell of conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding. All the defendants were convicted of obstructing an official proceeding, which also carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

While mixed, the outcome affirms that the riot involved an attempt to violently overthrow the US government. The verdicts, which follow a marathon eight-week trial, are the most significant convictions so far in what the Justice Department has called the largest criminal investigation in American history, with nearly 1,000 people facing various charges related to January 6. 

The mixed verdicts may reflect a conclusion by the jury that Rhodes and Meggs played leadership roles in the attack. The jurors, though they deliberated for just a three days, appear to have parsed the evidence against individual defendants, judging that the case was weaker against Caldwell, who did not enter the Capitol; Harrelson, against whom prosecutors admitted they had less evidence of conspiracy; and Watkins, whose emotional admission of wrongdoing on the stand may have been persuasive.

Three members of the Oath Keepers and one Proud Boys member had already pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy charges. But Tuesday’s result marked the first jury trial to result in a sedition verdict since the 1995 convictions of 10 Islamic terrorists— including the so-called “Blind Sheikh,” Omar Abdel-Rahman—who plotted to blow up New York City landmarks.

Less than a year ago, Attorney General Merrick Garland faced attacks from the left amid concern that the DOJ would not charge anyone with sedition. Federal prosecutors have since indicted 11 Oath Keepers with that crime—a second Oath Keepers trial is set to start in December. Five leaders of the far-right Proud Boys are set to go on trial for seditious conspiracy and other charges next month. Garland also recently named a special counsel, Jack Smith, to oversee the department’s separate investigation into whether former President Donald Trump and aides will face charges related to their efforts to use false claims of election fraud to retain power after Trump’s 2020 defeat. That investigation appears to be advancing, though it remains unclear if it will result in charges.

Prosecutors had a heap of evidence against the Oath Keeper defendants. During the trial, they showed that Rhodes and allies in his group began discussing the potential use of violence to help Trump hold onto power as soon as media outlets reported that Joe Biden had defeated him. “We aren’t getting through this without a civil war,” Rhodes wrote in an Oath Keepers chat two days after the election. “Prepare your mind body and spirit.”

As Mother Jones first detailed, some Oath Keepers, including Harrelson and Meggs, engaged in what prosecutors called paramilitary training in the fall of 2020. Group members plotted to bring guns to the Washington, DC, area on January 6 and stashed them in hotel rooms with guards as part of a plan to deploy a “quick reaction force” if the street violence they anticipated broke out. Meggs, Harrelson, and Watkins stormed the Capitol along with other Oath Keepers on January 6, and prosecutors cited messages showing that Rhodes and Caldwell celebrated their actions.

But the government’s case had one big weakness. Prosecutors lacked evidence that the Oath Keepers ever had a clear plan to invade the Capitol before they did so. Lawyers for the Oath Keepers tried to exploit that fact, arguing the defendants had come to Washington to provide security at rallies supporting Trump due to their fear of attacks by antifa, or just to watch the president’s speech earlier that day. Defense attorneys also argued that the Oath Keepers only planned to take up arms if Trump deputized them under the Insurrection Act, a law allowing the president to respond to uprisings.

“There was no meeting of the minds to conspire,” James Bright, a lawyer for Rhodes, said in his closing statement. “There was no plan.” That may have been the Oath Keepers’ best argument. But the problem with it was that prosecutors did not need to prove the defendants had conspired to storm Congress.

To show criminal conspiracy, the government only needed to demonstrate that the defendants had a “mutual understanding” that they would try to stop Biden from taking office. One key witness, Graydon Young, an Oath Keeper who cooperated with prosecutors, testified that the Oath Keepers had an “implicit” understanding that they would try to help Trump retain power.

“I felt like it was common-sense,” Young said on the stand last month. “We talked about doing something about fraud in the election when we got there on the 6th, and when crowds went over the barricades into the building, the opportunity presented itself to do something.”

This was a problem for Rhodes and Meggs. Given the chance to turn their alleged preparations for violence into action, they seized it. “We took the castle,” Meggs told Watkins on January 6, according to Watkins’ testimony at the trial. “Now we are standing our ground.” Defense lawyers argued that Oath Keepers’ talk about civil war, their stockpiling of weapons, and their travel to Washington were all incidental to the attack on Congress, which they depicted as spontaneous. But the Oath Keepers’ rhetoric appeared to converge with their actions on January 6.

Rhodes did not enter the Capitol on January 6. But Rhodes—who has assiduously promoted the Oath Keepers, aligning the group with various far-right causes since launching it in the wake Barack Obama’s election—may have done the most to sink himself with his own statements. “Next comes our Lexington,” Rhodes told colleagues in the wake of the riot on January 6, in a Revolutionary War reference that suggested he hoped the violence would escalate.

“My only regret is that they should have brought rifles,” Rhodes told an associate, who secretly recorded him, a few days after the attack.

Rhodes’ words also undermined Oath Keepers’ claim that they only planned violence if Trump invoked the Insurrection Act, seeming to admit it was a facade. In a recording from an online meeting in November 2020, which prosecutors obtained, Rhodes told group members that stance was “our official position.” He added: “The reason why we have to do it that way is because that gives you legal cover.”

Sentencing in the case is not yet scheduled, but is unlikely to occur earlier than March.

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Tim Coursey Discusses His New Novel with Ben Fountain and David Searcy Tomorrow Night

You may recall that early last year I profiled the talented multi-hyphenate Tim Coursey on the occasion of his exhibition at SMU’s Pollock Gallery. If you don’t, well I did. Part of the story involved his old friend, the writer David Searcy. They’ve known each other since their days at SMU. Searcy guided me through the many pieces of furniture and art and strange objects made by Coursey that fill his house.

Another part of the story involved his other old friend, the writer Ben Fountain, who he’s known not quite as long, since Fountain was a lawyer and Coursey made furniture for lawyers at Fountain’s firm. In that part, Fountain talks about reading Coursey’s work for the first time.

After Coursey started writing, a few years ago, in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, he eventually asked Fountain to take a look at his stories, steeped with the darkness lurking underneath 1960s counterculture and a healthy dose of modern-day paranoia. (It’s fitting that the riot at the Capitol happened the day before I visited Coursey at his shop; the so-called QAnon Shaman, in his face paint and headdress, might have been a background character in one of Coursey’s pieces.) Fountain often gets asked to read people’s stuff, and though he often accepts, he never expects what he receives to be any good. Even with Coursey, Fountain tempered his expectations. Then he started reading.

“He’s got his own unique style or voice,” he says. “But it goes beyond just style. I mean, it’s the perspective. It’s the habit of mind a writer brings to the world. And you can tell pretty quickly if somebody has an engaged and active mind or if it’s a passive, not very interesting mind. And his is hitting on all cylinders all the time. That’s what you see in his writing. He’s extremely aware of the world and engaged in it at all levels, from the visual through the emotional, psychological. I mean, he’s great on family dynamics. He’s great on counterculture. He’s great on good ol’ American paranoia. I mean, he’s got the whole package.

“So now, it turns out, he might be a genius writer, too,” Fountain says. There is an implied that son of a bitch.

So it makes sense to have all three together for the official launch of Coursey’s first novel, Driving Lessons. I read it in rough form when I wrote about Coursey—an unedited version, printed on a risograph machine and filled with Coursey’s wonderful drawings was part of the show. So I can back up Fountain’s assessment.

It goes down at 7 p.m. tomorrow night at Wild Detectives.

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Will Smith Says He Must Forgive Himself for Chris Rock Oscar Slap

Will Smith’s been laying low since he blitz the stage at the Oscars in March to slap host Chris Rock across the face after a harmless jape about his wife—then resigning from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and releasing a bizarre apology video online, but never quite offering up anything like a satisfactory mea culpa. Well, Smith finally emerged from his post-attack exile on Monday for a little image reconstruction from his pal Trevor Noah on The Daily Show.

Smith was ostensibly there to promote his upcoming film Antione Fuqua’s Emancipation, but despite what appears to be a uniquely compelling movie, under the circumstances, who cares? The reason to tune in was to see if the former nice guy—and possibly former movie star—could find a friendly and savvy enough host to give him the rehab him of a lifetime.

Noah began the 21-minute interview with nine minutes of typical celebrity project-plugging palaver. Smith, for his part, was the charming movie star we thought we knew, before the handsy monster of Oscar night took over. He had just flown 30 hours from Bhutan to sit in Trevor’s chair, where he’d been filming a NatGeo show, Pole to Pole—and how’s that for a charming and memorable anecdote?

Next, Noah segued into Smith’s prestige project, Emancipation, an historical film in which Smith plays a character based on a man remembered to history only as Gordon, or “Whipped Peter“—an escaped slave whose back was so horribly scourged by lashings that his photograph made the brutality of American slavery impossible to deny when it went around the world in 1863. The film takes place in the long, long space between Lincoln’s issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 and June 19, 1865, when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to free the last remaining slaves there—the date now celebrated at Juneteenth.

Will Smith plays an escaped slave known only as Gordon, or “Whipped Peter,” but whose image helped wake up the world.

But enough is enough, a viewer would rightfully be thinking by the time Noah said, “You know, it’s been a while since I last saw you; it’s been a while since many people have seen you.”

“Yeah, I’ve been away,” Smith replied, to audience laughter. “What y’all been doing?”

Smith then joked, “I have no independent recollection of…” before Noah cut him off, saying, “I can only imagine what it’s been like for you,” he said, “because it’s been weird for many of us. What has the journey been like since that day?”

“That was a horrific night, as you can imagine,” Smith said. “There’s many nuances and complexities to it, as you know. But at the end of the day, I just lost it.”

Perhaps not quite the picture of contrition we’ve all been waiting for, but not bad.

“I guess what I would say, is that you just never know what somebody’s going through,” Smith offered. “You know, in the audience right now, you’re sitting next to strangers. And somebody’s mother died last week, you know. Somebody’s child is sick. Somebody just lost their job. Somebody just found out their spouse cheated… You just don’t know what’s going on with people.”

Yes, Smith did use “spouse cheated” as a hypothetical, but we’ll just leave that where it lay for now.

“And I was going through something that night,” he continued. “Not that that justifies my behavior at all. I would just say… we just got to be nice to each other, man. It’s like, it’s hard. I understood the idea where they say, ‘Hurt people hurt people.’”

Noah was happy to not hold Smith’s feet to the fire. For example, he didn’t directly ask whether he had spoken to Rock.

“For me it was like you stood up for the wrong thing at the wrong time in a way,” he helpfully explained to Smith. Later, after decrying the mean Internet comments that apparently were such a huge bummer for Smith and his all-star family, Noah said, “It felt like [The Slap] was Will Smith going for the first time, ‘Okay, is this how you want me to respond or not?’”

If true, Noah is possibly the only person who feels that way.

“It was a lot of things,” Smith said of his brutal and cowardly assault on a tiny jester who would never fight back. “It was the little boy who watched his father beat up his mother.” He paused. “That’s not who I want to be.”

Well, don’t look now, Will.

“I also think it’s not who you are,” Noah lobbed at the the 54 year-old father of three, then further gushing, “I also speak for people when I say, I don’t want that to define you. I don’t think that should define you.”

“That was one of the big things over the last couple months, you know,” Smith said. “That I had to forgive myself for being human.”


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Joe Biden Is Moving to Stop a Rail Strike. Workers Are Upset.

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Joe Biden, the Amtrak-obsessed president who has prided himself on being “pro-labor,” is urging Congress to step in and halt a looming railroad strike.

This move is a massive change of course for a president known to some as “Union Joe.” In 1992, Biden was one of just six Senators to vote against halting a rail strike. But now, to help keep commerce moving despite sick pay demands, Biden appears to be stopping a massive action from workers.

How did we get here?

Earlier this year, unionized railroad workers—discontented with unpredictable work schedules and a lack of sick days—appeared poised to go on strike. As my colleague Noah Lanard reported at the time, the workers were concerned less about compensation than about grueling hours and punitive attendance policies.

A rail strike could have crippled supply chains and caused huge economic losses. So, in September, the Biden administration stepped in.

Biden struck a tentative deal with unions and railroad companies that included a 24 percent raise by 2023 and a cap on health care premiums. But the deal lacked movement on sick leave

For the tentative deal to become official, 12 different rail unions would need to ratify it by December 9. Four unions voted against it. The lack of sick leave was a sticking point.

What happened this week?

On Monday, Biden announced that he would override those votes and push forward a deal some unions disapprove of.

In a statement, Biden said that his Secretaries of Labor, Agriculture, and Transportation had informed him that there was “no path to resolve the dispute at the bargaining table.” So, instead of brokering a deal with more flexible time off, Biden has asked Congress to override the four dissenting unions and impose the deal fleshed out in September.

“I share workers’ concern about the inability to take leave to recover from illness or care for a sick family member,” Biden said in a statement. “No one should have to choose between their job and their health—or the health of their children.”

A union strike would almost certainly aggravate the inflation which has dogged Biden throughout his entire time in office, and it’s in Biden’s interest to keep the flow of goods moving as the holiday season approaches. Still, as Politico points out, Biden’s stance is a far cry from his positions in the past.

Who is upset?

Leaders of some rail unions are not happy. “It is not enough to ‘share workers’ concerns,” the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division said in a statement. “A call to Congress to act immediately to pass legislation that adopts tentative agreements that exclude paid sick leave ignores the railroad workers’ concerns.”

“We feel like the deal missed the mark,” conductor Beau Trego told the Washington Post. “We’re going to work sick, fatigued. You have so many other jobs where people work 9 to 5 and still have sick days, but we don’t. Hopefully, they go back to table and come up with something better.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appears to be on board with passing legislation to prevent a strike. But it’s unclear how such legislation would fare in the Senate, where Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has expressed his commitment to brokering a deal that would grant workers paid sick leave.

Meanwhile, Republicans (ahem, Marco Rubio) are already jumping on the opportunity to paint themselves as the pro-union party.

Given that Democrats campaigned in the midterms on protecting democracy and are now choosing to override the results of union elections, the critiques of hypocrisy aren’t hard to come up with here. Democracy dies, it seems, in the workplace, too.

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An Investigation: Who Is Mitch McConnell Condemning?

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One week after Donald Trump entertained an unrepentant antisemite and white nationalist at his Mar-a-Lago residence, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has offered an uncharacteristically harsh assessment of the former president’s hopes for reelection. Or at least that was the implication.

“First, let me just say that there is no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy,” the top Republican told reporters on Tuesday. “Anyone meeting with people advocating that point of view, in my judgment, is highly unlikely to ever be elected president of the United States.”

The remarks, which arrived unprompted, signaled the highest level of condemnation after Trump confirmed his meeting with Holocaust denier, Nick Fuentes, at Mar-a-Lago last week. To be sure, McConnell’s comments are extraordinary in their unvarnished display of GOP infighting, as well as an attack all but certainly directed at the man still viewed as a powerful party head despite his poor performance during the midterms. But they’re still miles away from a full-fledged disavowal. 

In fact, where are “Donald” and “Trump” in McConnell’s remarks blasting the man who recently linked antisemitism and the GOP at his private Florida club? Why is the statement written as aspirational rather than an unequivocal moral condemnation? And why can’t McConnell, who declined to unequivocally defend his wife against Trump’s anti-Asian attacks, provide a straightforward answer to perhaps the most important question of all: Will he support Trump if he captures the Republican nomination? Here’s what he offered instead:

McConnell’s unexpectedly blunt remarks today do appear to mark a significant shift in the lines of 2024’s sand. But based on what was still missing, we’ll see if the top Republican is willing to be slightly less mealymouthed the next time Trump does something horrible in this post-midterms juncture.

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Emporium Pies Has Sold To New Dallas Owners

A family with North Texas ties has purchased Emporium Pies, a small chain of beloved pie shops that started in a converted house in the Bishop Arts District. Founders and owners Megan Wilkes and Mary Sparks decided to sell, but it’s unclear why.

From left: Landon Perdue, Megan Wilkes, Jennifer Abohosh.
Emporium Pies

The new owners are Landon and Charlie Perdue and Landon’s sister, Jen Abohosh. Charlie, who grew up in North Dallas, is the owner of Perdue Realty Corp., a commercial real estate brokerage and investment firm, and has a degree in restaurant and hotel management.

Abohosh will serve as president of Emporium Pies and plans to operate the company with Landon. Abohosh told D Magazine Tuesday that their grandfather once owned restaurants in Dallas, and when the opportunity came about to be part of the hospitality industry, they decided to act quickly. Wilkes declined to comment about the decision to sell.

“When I think about Bishop Arts, Emporium Pies is such a huge part of that,” Abohosh says. “We both, just being neighbors and friends of the business, wanted to keep the magic alive.”

Abohosh says they have no plans to change the iconic pie recipes. The loaded pastries have been a staple for holidays and family gatherings over the last decade, frequently earning the shops lines that extended down sidewalks in each of the four locations. Seasonal flavors like the Drop Dead Gourdgeous (a scrumptious pumpkin pie) and the Nanners (a custard banana pie) easily rival Emporium classics like the Lord of the Pies (a deep-dish apple pie).

Emporium’s flagship store at 314 North Bishop in Oak Cliff has grown to three more local shops in Deep Ellum, Fort Worth, and McKinney. They also deliver nationwide. Abohosh says future plans include expanding online and delivery services and new store opportunities.

Landon said Charlie got to know Megan and Mary over the last decade through his work in Oak Cliff. She also said she and Charlie’s rehearsal dinner featured several Emporium pies.

“It’s just kind of been a long-standing friendship for my husband and a friendship with Megan and myself,” Landon said.

Although Charlie will be a partial owner in the company, Abohosh told D Magazine that he won’t have an active operating role—she and Landon will run the shops and keep Emporium Pies women-led and majority-owned.

“We’ve loved that Megan and Mary started this and carried it up to this point—it’s part of their legacy of being a woman-run business in Dallas,” Abohosh said. “Part of why me and my sister Landon are getting involved is to carry forth that legacy and make more opportunities for women, particularly in the restaurant industry.”

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Q&A With Danny Balis of The Freak

As has been previously reported, Danny Balis has rejoined his old pal Mike Rhyner at The Freak, continuing the trend of Ticket radio talent finding their voice on another frequency. Because I have Balis’ phone number and compromising pictures of him from his childhood in Knox City, he agreed to participate in this interrogatory via text.

ROGERS: Are you deeply wounded that the DMN’s Sharon Grigsby hasn’t yet written a column about how you built a bunker and then slaughtered the people in that bunker and how her DNA on 23 And Me returned a match with you?

BALIS: There are far more scandalous reasons why Sharon’s DNA matched with mine. I may have misunderstood the question.

ROGERS: Are the rumors true that you were offered this job because, owing your recent experience with changing diapers on your newborn, you are prepared to similarly deal with Rhyner?

BALIS: Of course. Thankfully I was prepared on my first day, smartly bringing my son’s diaper bag to work, and able to manufacture an adult sized diaper in seconds to clean up the aftermath of Rhyner’s spicy five-piece lunch from Popeye’s.

ROGERS: Not to bring the room down, but are you and Corby still bros? He took Rhyner’s move to The Freak pretty hard. Now YOU?!

BALIS: Corby has been one of my closest friends for over two decades. I’m aware that emotionally this is odd for everyone. But my hope is once the dust settles we realize this is just a job. We’re still close. He texted me a Bob Dylan video earlier today. So maybe that means we’re NOT friends. Shit. You got me all confused.

ROGERS: Last question: do you like your gig?

BALIS: That wasn’t the question.

ROGERS: Bless you. Good luck, old man.

BALIS: Love your [redacted].

ROGERS: I feel like I shouldn’t include that part in the Q&A. You might get to say what you want at The Freak, but at D Magazine, we say only what doesn’t get us fired.

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