Monday, March 28, 2005

A CURRENT AFFAIR IS BACK

I found out that the great tabloid TV classic series A Current Affair is back on the air.

The new series is hosted by former NFL star Tim Green and is supposedly pretty much like the old show: tabloid to the hilt. As you know, the original A Current Affair was one of the most successful and notorious shows in TV history. It was hosted by Maury Povich who quickly cemented his reputation as the Walter Cronkite of tabloid TV. That show was trashed for its racy sex-and-crime stories and sleazy, supermarket-tabloid material, and was immediately dubbed "Trash TV" by the critics.

I don't know why they took so much heat, though. They actually did a lot of investigative stuff and there were lots of other shows that were even worse that came on around the same time, so as a result A Current Affair got lumped into the same boat. "Geraldo" was one of the many shows that debuted and they put him on the cover of Newsweek with his broken nose after his guests got into a fight on the air. There was the Morton Downey Jr. Show where the guests routinely got into shouting matches. A bunch of competitors quickly littered the airwaves including Hard Copy and Inside Edition, and in those days Inside Edition was hosted by none other than Bill O'Reilly. (Jerry Springer's show, which fit right in with all this trash, actually didn't debut until much later, 1992 I believe.)

I think A Current Affair just took a lot of heat because it happened to debut around the same time as all this other trash, plus I think that a lot of these network types found the show an affront to their journalistic "values" and stuff. I think it was just the uptight people in the mainstream media being their arrogant, uptight selves, trashing the show. In fact I think that's why so many of these serious TV news types had it in for bigtime newswoman Connie Chung: she was married to Maury Povich, who was the posterboy for all this tabloid garbage, so they turned their knives on her, too. Guilt by association.

Will the new show make it? I don't know. Really, Maury Povich made the old A Current Affair what it was. When he left the show was basically over, and there were also a bunch of management changes that sent this show to an early grave the first time. This was the first of the tabloid syndicated programs to actually be a hit and also one of the first to actually leave the air- even Hard Copy lasted longer. But now it's back. The new show is produced by Peter Brennan who actually produced the original A Current Affair, so I presume he intends to basically revive all the elements from the original show. That's the good news. The bad news is that Maury Povich is unavailable. He's got his own, even trashier show. And I presume Connie Chung wouldn't be caught dead doing a show like this. Too tabloidy, even for her. So they're stuck with Tim Green.

If you want to read a good history of A Current Affair and the original tabloid TV shows, read Tabloid Baby by Burt Kearns. He worked with Peter Brennan pretty closely on these TV shows for years and it's a really hilarious read.

As for where you can see the show; you know what, I'm having trouble finding it. Its distribution right now is pathetic. The only station in the state of New York carrying this show is located in New York City, so no one in Buffalo is picking up the show, and no one in Rochester is picking it up, either. So even with superpowered rabbit ears that can pick up stations everywhere on Lake Ontario, I can't even watch this show on TV. Maybe if it gets good ratings it will get an airing, but so far it's off to a shaky start. Stay tuned.

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