Monday, December 20, 2004


Some news from TV news to tell you about. MSNBC is stealing Tucker Carlson away from CNN- apparently Carlson's contract is up and they want to give him a prime time show to replace Deborah Norville. Norville's show got the boot last week. Read all about it at TVNewser. They want Carlson because he's more of a centrist than a real, true conservative, and the folks at MSNBC want to go after the middle ground/independents left behind by those donkeys at CNN and those elephants at Fox News.

(UPDATE- By the way, this move is not official yet and in fact it might not happen after all. Just read that Wonkette is now saying this could all be a negotiating ploy. And now TVNewser is reporting a counteroffer is being prepared to keep Tucker Carlson at CNN. Stay tuned, folks. )

And last week CNNfn went off the air to relatively little fanfare. So sad- a victim of the dot-com bust. CNN used to have so many offshoot networks, there was CNNfn and there was CNNSI. When I was still at The Score, they had CNNSI on all the time; they used to get their highlights from CNN's feeds. And CNN did a lot of quality stuff in sports reporting, too. Now they're down to just CNN and Headline News, and Headline News is moving its operation to New York to take over the offices vacated by CNNfn. So quite a few of the CNNfn people will latch on with Headline, which, for some reason, is planning long-form stuff like a legal show (with Nancy Grace), plus an entertainment show. They're planning to get rid of the 30-minute wheel in prime time and be a cable network like the rest of them.

Apparently they can get away with doing this type of big format change in the United States; remember when The Nashville Network morphed into Spike TV? Headline was getting lousy ratings so that is the real reason/excuse why they are adding more talk shows. But here in Canada, you can't do it. If you're CTV Newsnet, you can't deviate from the 15-minute wheel without getting told what not to do by the CRTC. You have to go through all the rigmarole of applying to get the CRTC's permission, just so you can show live breaking news events and election nights! You don't want to compete with the CBC, you know, this being Canada, land of protectionism.

Anyway, that's what CNN Headline News is doing, scrapping the 30-minute wheel. No wonder Rudi Bakhtiar left. I don't think that she has a new job yet. In fact I read somewhere that she may actually be on some sort of "leave of absence" from CNN--- so she's technically still there. I dunno what the real deal is.

TVNewser also reported an Ashleigh Banfield sighting; she was on Bill O'Reilly's show. She, too, has no job yet: if she did get a job the whole world would know about it by now. Even in unemployment, she still attracts lots of gossip/vitriol on the TV news boards. "What do you think of Ashleigh?" "That horrible woman, and her glasses? I hate her guts! She should go back to Canada!" And so on.

As for CNNfn's departure, their final shows aired last Wednesday. This is sad: the brokers and the financial journalists cannot be happy down there right now. I know, I know, no one watched and no one cares.

I read that a lot of the CNNfn people are waiting, just waiting, for Rupert Murdoch to finally start up his much-ballyhooed Fox News financial channel. Then you watch, everyone will quit/get off the street and go over there. Fox News is killing everyone with their business programming right now, consisting of Neil Cavuto and his, ahem, big mouth. I think he's simply trying to keep up with everyone else at that channel. Anyway, he's bodyslamming everyone, including CNBC; they also have a few other shows, including Bulls and Bears, and their financial reporters are refugees from CNN and CNBC, people like Terry Keenan and Martha MacCallum. That's another thing to look forward to when Fox News Channel comes here: news babes.

In other CNN news, Apprentice 1 loser Kwame Jackson is going to host an interview show on CNN. Don't know when that is.

And CNBC finally got rid of McEnroe and his 0.0 ratings. So sad.

CBS News still does not have an anchor to replace Dan Rather yet and won't have an announcement until the new year at the earliest. A new rumor floated out there on the boards is that Katie Couric is another possibility for the anchor chair at the CBS Evening News. Wait a minute, isn't she under contract to NBC's Today Show? Seems like everyone and their grandmother is in the running to replace Dan Rather, everyone except John Roberts. He's the heir apparent that nobody wants. Maybe if they give the CBS gig to Couric, Roberts will come back to Canada and replace Lloyd Robertson... assuming Lloyd ever retires, and that's a big if.

I also read a blurb somewhere that they might not even replace Rather officially when he leaves in March, that they may go without a permanent anchor for a while until they get their big star replacement. So maybe John Roberts becomes the permanent temporary substitute anchor for Dan Rather come March, and stays there until they find someone better! What a PR debacle this is for CBS... and, for that matter, for John Roberts! You know, maybe they should just cancel the evening news altogether. The only people who sponsor these newscasts are drug companies who sell Vioxx and Celebrex, it seems, and boy are they in trouble. Pfizer had to pull its ads off the air voluntarily because of the heart attack risks associated with their anti-arthritis drug Celebrex. That's Brian Williams' entire years' salary down the drain. Maybe Rather, too, is getting out just at the right time, just like Tom Brokaw. Why Peter Jennings wants to stick around, who knows.

( I'm kidding, I don't really want the evening news off the air, folks. But I DO want to see ads that aren't for drug companies. They're the only people who advertise on the evening news! I know the average age of people who tune into the network newscasts is something like 59 years old, but surely they don't all need doctors! Tsk, tsk... news anchors promoting sales of prescription drugs!)


I put up some additional links to websites of news/entertainment TV people like Bill Tush and Samantha Harris. Bill was with CNN showbiz news for many years (actually, he was there forever: he was at WTBS in the dark ages when it was a crappy UHF station, way before it became Superstation TBS). Samantha was last seen doing weekends on Extra; she's also an actress.

You know what, I think I'd really like to do entertainment news. I don't have too much experience at it, though, and frankly there aren't many jobs at it on TV. And it's shaky business. Heck, Bill Tush got laid off from his cushy gig. And last time I checked, poor Julie Moran, formerly of Entertainment Tonight, was doing crappy infomercials shown on TV late at night.

Still, I'd really like to do something connected to entertainment, TV or no TV. It would be fun interviewing these big movie stars in sunny Hollywood. Beats reporting on crime and car wrecks in the middle of winter anywhere in Canada. I feel bad for these reporters in Toronto these last couple of days. Man, they are freezing their tails off, doing these standups in minus-20 weather. I saw reporters like Catherine McDonald and Cortney Pasternak on TV, freezing to death doing their standups for the usual crime/death stories they were doing for Global. I can relate; I've been on TV shoots in absolutely freezing, blizzard conditions and it is no fun at all. The money these reporters are making ain't nearly enough, folks.

More soon.

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