Thursday, March 31, 2005

WHY I MAY GO BACK TO TV NEWS

You know, I read over my own Ted Koppel post, and the one on the Pope, and on all the legal happenings and you know, I'm really kidding myself if I say I really want to be in entertainment or politics or law or standup comedy, or something other than broadcast journalism. Who am I really kidding, here, anyway.

I mean, look at all the links I've got posted to all these TV news websites and to all these TV news personalities, that tells you all you need to know about where my heart is on this issue.

The truth is that I've been really frustrated with a lot of things about broadcast journalism in Canada these days, the cookie-cutter meatgrinder nature of it and a lot of the crummy stories. Watch the local news everywhere in Canada and it's all death and destruction, people getting shot and killed all the time, people getting arrested. Last night they were busy covering a big fire in Toronto. You get the idea. On the other hand, tune into the networks and cable channels and they're covering real stories, like the Pope or Michael Jackson, or the war in Iraq. But at the network level they cover a lot of crap too. Lots of boring medical stories and depressing social issue-type pieces.

I guess what it comes down to is that I feel that there are a lot of things killing my enjoyment of the business. I've had to cover a lot of crummy news stories, had more than my fair share of bad experiences at various places. But I also never really had the kind of moral support one might expect for this career path, from anyone, even as I racked up considerable on-air experience. So it's been very easy for me to get burned out on the business, and then I end up pursuing other fields out of frustration, even though what I really want to do is pursue broadcast journalism.

Well I think I'll try and give the broadcast news business one more chance, but on my own terms. But how do I do this? And where? I don't think there's much future for me in broadcast journalism in Canada, and I've got too much experience to be an editorial assistant. And I still don't have a decent news anchor tape. I have some serious thinking to do here.

AILING POPE GIVEN LAST RITES

I'm pretty worried about the condition of Pope John Paul II, it's obvious to me he's a very sick man, even though he has been fighting gallantly to stay his active self. He'd show up at Easter Mass to give his blessings, even though he couldn't say a word.

Now comes word that he's been given the last rites of the Roman Catholic Church and while this doesn't automatically mean he's going to die, they wouldn't do this kind of thing unless the Pope was in really poor health. Apparently he's suffering some new infection now in addition to all his other health problems, and he's taking medication for that. This is really worrisome.

TED KOPPEL DEPARTING NIGHTLINE

It truly seems to be a changing of the guard in TV news. Now Ted Koppel has announced he will leave ABC News and Nightline in December of this year.

I must say Ted Koppel certainly is one of the giants of TV news and he will go out with all the accolades that he deserves from his great career in TV news. As for Nightline, it will go down as one of the great news shows of the late 20th century under his tenure, and when it's been on its game it has been a terrific news show.

Lately, though, I haven't been a fan of the show, it's been quite dull and pretentious. And now rumors are going to fly about the future of the show, again. I read somewhere that ABC News has been thinking of changing the show to make it younger and hipper- adding a jazz band and having two young anchors talk about the news over martinis and stuff. That's what I hear they're thinking of doing, and boy, that would be the destruction of Nightline in my estimation, what a disgrace that would be. I wouldn't watch a show like that, I'd rather see the program exit the schedule than do that.

Maybe they'll find a way to figure out what to do with Nightline before Ted Koppel leaves, and maybe come up with a revitalized hard-news show that isn't totally dumbed down for the masses. At least that would satisfy all the critics.

UPDATE: Now I hear rumors Koppel may go to CNN.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

MORE ON THE JACKO TRIAL: PROSECUTION COMING BACK

Well as you know the prosecution got off to a weak start in the Michael Jackson child molestation trial as the defense team proceeded to slaughter the initial witness list, bringing up contradictions in testimony, going on a RAMPAGE about extortion, and so on and so forth.

But now they are coming back. Or starting to. They have big plans now to bring to the stand a whole host of people who plan to corroborate the stories of abuse at the Neverland Ranch and make the testimony of the alleged victim of all this alleged abuse look completely credible, with his testimony less likely to be impeached, All this spells bad news for Michael Jackson. Now he's going to get really hammered and look like the sickest individual out there.

And helping matters was a ruling the other day that the judge will allow in evidence about alleged past abuse as part of the trial. So Jacko's case is suddenly a lot weaker. It was very easy to argue a case when they were trying to shred the testimony of this one kid. Now they are going to have to contend with a flood of testimony and surprise witnesses, and if you ask me, this is trouble for Jacko. This is Marv Albert all over again. It's following the same script, because they brought in surprise witnesses in that one too, to make Albert look bad. This is also the type of judicial decision that could be subject to appeal- if it comes to that.

Another piece of news is that George Lopez is being called as a prosecution witness and you can find out more about that on that link I gave you.

The prosecutors are also making a case that Jacko is BROKE. They want to show that the defense argument that this is all about the mother trying to extort money out of Jacko, is bogus, because, well, actually Jacko has no money. Well all I will say is that by the time this trial is over Jacko definitely will have no money. He'll have spent it on lawyers, and his record sales and reputation will be in the toilet after all those witnesses testify against him. Another reason I still say watch out for a deal, but I must admit that so far Jacko is hanging tough and so are prosecutors.

And of course the big news is that there's one less defense attorney for criminals to hire, Johnnie Cochran has died of a brain tumor. "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit!"

Read on the TVNewser blog that the legal TV shows were all going nuts over the death of Johnnie Cochran, Nancy Grace had a lot to say about it on her show.

Also, found something at the website of Cochran's law firm, paying tribute to him. Don't worry about his law firm, it'll survive. It's got something like 125 lawyers in about a dozen U.S. states doing personal injury lawsuits for millions of dollars (seems Cochran had moved into the PI field.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

OJ DREAM-TEAM LAWYER JOHNNIE L. COCHRAN JR. HAS DIED

I didn't even know he was sick. He was only 67. Apparently the cause of death was some kind of brain disorder ( brain tumor?).

Cochran was best known for leading the Dream Team (Bob Shapiro, F. Lee Bailey, Barry Scheck et. al.) to the famous O.J. Simpson acquittal victory a decade ago.

LAST NIGHT'S NEW BACHELOR

As you know the Bachelor series is sinking fast, and I tuned in last night to see if this wretched series is making any major attempts to save itself.

Turns out it's making quite a few changes. For one thing, the new Bachelor Charlie O'Connell wants these women to ditch the expensive dresses and limos and all that nonsense, and concentrate on dating and getting to know the real them. Smart move.

The other thing is that Charlie is able to give roses to anyone at random if he wants to, so it's actually kind of a free-for-all. It's almost like the Playboy Mansion in there, with this version of the show. You had women doing body shots in bars, stuff like that.

You know what, as a guy I'm actually pleased with the changes. The "metrosexual" elements are gone (thank G) and we have what seems like real situations and fun stuff happening, none of this phony romantic-getaway type of nonsense. And I like the women they picked. They are all babes, not these boring middle-American aspiring soccer-mom types that they had on before. Now they're getting somewhere with this show. But I don't think a lot of women who tune in are going to like this. The audience for this show is largely made up of women longing for romance and this is a really different type of show. Maybe it's trying to go after a male audience, for a change. But I think it's too late, the males have passed judgement on this show and are tuning in to the WWE instead at that hour.

One thing has not changed. The women are still getting in catfights and tantrums with each other and are already acting like pathetic losers. One even walked off the show and then had the nerve to come back and ask for a rose again. What a total loser she is. I'm convinced half these women are wannabe actresses and that they're trying to get into catfights and stir up controversy, just to make a name for themselves on TV. Is this stuff staged?!

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.

OH NO, NOT AGAIN

8.7 magnitude quake off the coast of Indonesia; Tsunami Alert.
Good grief.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

HOOPS THRILLERS TODAY

Just want to update you on two of the four regional finals, which were played today.

In the Albuquerque Region, LOUISVILLE came from 20 points down to tie W. Virginia and then WIN it in OT. 93-85.

In the Chicago Region, ILLINOIS came back from the DEAD and WON the GAME 90-89 in OT after ARIZONA missed on their last possession.

TWO THRILLING GAMES IN THE NCAA.

All I gotta say is...

WHO CARES ABOUT THE NHL TODAY.
Or tonight, for that matter.
Guys, we don't miss you. Enjoy your Easter holidays!

CRIMINAL LAW STUFF

I am looking into a legal comeback as I have told you, but it's gotten off to a rough start. I am already making compromise after compromise and that is not good. I am unhappy with my resumes, I am unhappy with what's available. I'm simply an unhappy person. The comeback may be dead in the water before it even starts.

The more I think of it, the only law career option available for me is criminal law; otherwise, I'd almost say forget it. That's the only field of law where I'm really interested in the subject matter. I actually stayed awake during the criminal law and evidence classes in law school. It's certainly the only field of law where I have a fighting chance of staying out of the hospital. Pursuing any other area of law would turn me into a wreck. With criminal law the work is generally interesting and the hours are generally good, and you feel like you're doing a public service or upholding the Constitution or something. Besides, for me it's either that or ambulance chasing.

Criminal law sounds better than pursuing personal injury law. PI law is actually quite lucrative for some people. I read about some guy in Toronto who articled at a big PI firm four or five years ago, then went on his own immediately on passing the bar and is now making millions of dollars. The problem is that the work sounds just terrible. Maybe it sounds cool to sue cigarette companies and McDonald's and get big money for spilled-coffee victim clients, but from my own experience most of the time you're stuck suing insurance companies over car wrecks and you're settling out of court all the time. It's grunt paperwork. The subject matter is gruesome and the hours are the worst, and the lawyers you deal with are horrible. But other than that it's great, you can get rich.

I read Melvin Belli's book about his legal career, My Life On Trial. He did PI work, mainly, and frankly it seems like it's all work, no life, screaming into dictaphones in an office etc. That's what I hated the most, the dictaphones. So what if he did big cases. Big deal. The big question, though, is: do I apply for PI jobs? I guess the answer is we'll see what happens with criminal law first. Put me on record as saying I need to be sold on PI. It can't be all bad, a few crim lawyers switched into that field (including Greta Van Susteren, she was a big PI lawyer.) But I'm much better at criminal law. PI really doesn't sound promising.

There's also entertainment law, but it's pretty clear now that I'd be looking at entertainment law as a way to get into the movie and TV industry, not because I want to be a legal counsel for any of them. I'd want to actually produce stuff, not sit and draw up documents all day in an office. But at least it would be a way in the door. Anyway, now I'm thinking the only viable plan might be for me to focus on going the criminal law route after all, see what happens, and see how I could do stuff on the side in the media or elsewhere. And if nothing happens for me with criminal law, well then, that may be that.

Anyway, on the subject of criminal law, here's a link to an article about two prosecutors in San Francisco who did the dog-mauling case from a few years ago. They both ended up quitting being prosecutors and are now on TV so I'm posting the article as a public service to myself, because their careers actually went sort of a direction I'd like to go.

The one, James Hammer, ended up reporting on Michael Jackson's trial so that's where he is now. (It also said in this article that he's gay, not that there's something wrong with that.) Anyway, who cares about him.

I'm more interested in the other prosecutor, Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom, who went on to marry the extremely liberal mayor of San Francisco Gavin Newsom who legalizes same-sex marriages. What's with this San Francisco place anyway? Sounds like it's chock full of liberals and people who march in anti-war parades. No place for a conservative person.

In spite of that, I find this Kimberly Guilfoyle woman to be endlessly fascinating. From what I hear she's getting divorced, so she's on the market. The article stated she worked as a lingerie model or something before becoming a lawyer, and she loves to hang out at political rallies and fundraisers and stuff. And she's got the professional career thing going, she's now an anchor at Court TV. All I gotta say is that Kimberly sounds like my kind of woman. I'd definitely marry a woman like her. I didn't say I'd marry her, though, it sounds like she's a big freaking liberal. But that's life.

I'll tell you if something happens for me re: a legal comeback, soon. I don't even know if I'm going to even stay in Ontario, that's how confused the situation is for me.

Friday, March 25, 2005

F1 STARS: "MY CAR IS A HEAP"

Well, here's a story from the BBC suggesting that Jacques Villeneuve could quit the Sauber team and Formula 1 by the Imola race. Apparently he is really frustrated with his car and can't get enough mileage out of it.

The problem with Formula 1 is that if you have a bad, crummy car, there's not much the driver can do to improve the situation. If the car stinks the driver goes down with the ship. It's a simple as that. Now granted, Jacques Villeneuve did nothing in his last years at BAR when their cars improved. He was regularly beaten by his own teammate Jenson Button. But his situation at Sauber is just terrible. See, I told you Jacques was joining an absolute nothing team. If I were Jacques I'd give up and walk away from Formula 1. It isn't worth it to race in a losing car, especially in a sport where drivers routinely crash their vehicles and sometimes are even killed. Better for Jacques to simply retire.

And take a look at Michael Schumacher. Only a year ago he was the Greatest Ever, this year, his Ferrari car is so bad that they had to roll out a new car just the other day, just so he can still have a shot at a title. Rubens Barrichello is also having a lousy season. It's the car's fault, stupid. They're both hoping for better results once the new car is introduced at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and these are desperate measures by Ferrari who could be seeing their whole season go up in smoke as Renaults and Toyotas are unexpectedly tearing up the track.

Anyone want to buy a used Ferrari?

Thursday, March 24, 2005

AMERICAN IDOL: BONEHEADS

Well first there was the Mario debacle, and then on Tuesday they blew the phone numbers on American Idol. So they had to do the whole show over again and now tonight they do yet another Results Show: up against Basketball on CBS. I think it's also up against The Apprentice.

So who win in the ratings tonight; hoops, or American Idol? We'll see. (You can forget The Apprentice, it's going to get hammered up against these two.)

NO NHL DRAFT

Well all of Canada is in an uproar today because they cancelled the NHL Draft. It was scheduled to take place in Ottawa after the season ended. And as you know the season has not only ended, it didn't even start. So there's no draft this year. And presumably no NHL Awards Show on CBC either, but I digress.

Everyone is going nuts because Sidney Crosby and the boys won't get drafted into the NHL on time; their NHL careers are gonna be delayed. "Sidney Crosby! Sidney Crosby!" they're all ranting and raving about.

Guys, calm down. Who the hell cares about Sidney Crosby. You silly people forget: THERE IS NO SEASON this year, and probably not even a normal season next year. THERE IS NO NHL FOR SIDNEY CROSBY TO GO TO. Besides, he has better things to do, the Quebec League playoffs are on and Rimouski is favored to win the league title. But people won't leave Crosby alone. People speculate he could sign with the highest bidder in the NHL now, but how can that happen? It can't. He can't go to any NHL teams at the moment, they're all de-iced. He'll need to think of packing up and going to Europe once the Memorial Cup playdowns are over. Or maybe he can do what Wayne Gretzky did and join the WHA. That's an option now, possibly. You can bet your hat that Sidney Crosby won't be joining the NHL Scab League; he's on record as saying no to that.

Why bother having an NHL draft when there's nowhere to play and no one to play for? The entire Canadian sports media is reacting as if we still have an NHL. In fact, it's kind of bizarre the way the media's been reacting lately. The NHL is shut down, yet people on the radio are now talking about potential prospects for the Leafs. People are talking about players the Leafs ought to trade for, except it's pretty hard to do trades when there's no season and no league. They're talking about people who might look good in a Leafs uniform yet the Leafs might never be back. Or they might be back as a scab replacement team. Yet the hockey media in Canada acts as if things are still normal. Like it's a long offseason or something.

Same with the coverage of the AHL and the Canadian Hockey League. Their big tag line is "see tomorrow's NHL stars today!" and they speculate on where these players would fit in with the NHL teams that drafted them. The problem is that the ONLY selling point these leagues have is that these chumps could end up in the National Hockey League one day. So what good is that, going around saying that your players will play in the NHL when it's so obvious these chumps DON'T have an NHL to go to.

Another problem is that the NHL guys who are supposed to be so great may not be so hot after all. The playoffs are on in Europe and apparently that team that was called the "New York Rangers of Russia", because they were supposed to be so loaded with talent, got eliminated the other day. So these beloved NHL players may actually be a bunch of bums after all and the fans who pay for NHL tickets are losing their money.

I think the Canadian sport media's acting this way and trying their best to keep interest in the NHL up because they're fed up covering NCAA basketball. The fans were all interested at the start of the tournament, but then Bucknell, and Vermont, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and these other no-name college basketball programs ruined it all by beating the favored teams. Now their brackets are all blown up, and their bets are all in the garbage and they've all lost their office pools already. So their interest in the NCAAs is finished; they've basically been eliminated from the tournament, too. Now they're back to harping on the NHL. That's what I call a bunch of bandwagon jumpers and gambling addicts. These guys should go back to watching NASCAR races or something good, and give up on hockey because hockey's a complete joke these days. Maybe they should check into gambling rehab facilities while they're at it. It's not good to bet on games, look what happened to Pete Rose.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

INSIDER PAT O'BRIEN IN REHAB

Well, Pat O'Brien, host of The Insider, former longtime sportscaster and NBA host on CBS, and big supporter of Gubernator Arnold Schwarzenegger, has announced he has a drinking problem and has checked into a treatment center for alcohol addiction.

Well, at least he's doing something about it, unlike some of his baseball friends who refuse to do a darned thing about their have drug problems, which is even worse.

I also read in TVSpy and a couple of other places that someone close to O'Brien is planning to spill even more dirt on the guy in one of these supermarket newspaper rags and maybe get paid for it. Boy, wouldn't that be mean-spirited. Give this guy a break already, man, he's in rehab! He's trying to put his life back together and all people can do is trash him and try and make quick bucks off other people's misfortunes. Well, that's America for you right now. Land of free money.

PBS Antiques Roadshow host Lara Spencer will take over hosting the Insider while O'Brien cleans out.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

SOME SPORTS NEWS: MARLIES ARE BACK

Well today is a busy day for news about sports coming to Toronto.

The Toronto Maple Leafs held a press conference today to announce the name of its new farm team in Toronto. It will be called the Toronto Marlboros. The team is adopting the name of the old junior hockey franchise that played for many years in the OHL at Maple Leaf Gardens. And they had pretty much the same blue-and-white uniforms the Leafs had. I don't know why they want to name them after the old OHL team, because this is the AHL now. When I think Marlboros I think (a) junior hockey, or (b) a brand of cigarettes.

The other thing that fans are complaining about is that Marlboros sounds old and tired. This is the video-game era after all. Why not pick a young, hip name? In Chicago they called that AHL team the Wolves, and the AHL team in Philly is called the Phantoms. But the Leafs want to go with tradition. Besides, the AHL has been in Toronto before and they already tried going young and hip by adopting the name Roadrunners before, and you see what happened with them. And that happened to be a pretty decent team.

They also apparently want to go with sky high ticket prices for games at the Ricoh Coliseum, much higher than other AHL cities but lower than for NHL games. The average ticket price is going to be 24 bucks apparently. So it looks as if the fans are going to get hosed, but a lot of fans are going to show up because they can't live without their crummy Toronto Maple Leafs, 38 years and counting without a Stanley Cup. But then again, maybe not. After all the AHL is not the NHL and this is supposed to be an NHL town, and the only hockey club in this city that has been able to make it for any length of time is the Leafs. And Ricoh Coliseum is a great, cozy arena, but it is no Air Canada Centre.

Maybe they are planning to put blue ice in, like they did this weekend in Buffalo when the Rochester Americans were in there playing. Man, that would be ridiculous though.

NASCAR IN CANADA

The other big story is a report that NASCAR is looking at possibly putting a race into either Toronto or Montreal pretty soon. They're going to come up to Canada to check out possible places to hold races, and I say this would be fabulous. Canada is loaded with racing fans ( more now then ever with the NHL locked out ), and NASCAR is really popular up here.

You laugh, but Canada is full of people who are good ol' boys who love country music. They'd drive from miles away in their pickup trucks and Winnebagos to see a NASCAR race and try and get autographs from Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Heck I'd even go, even though my preference is really Indycars and Formula 1. But you see the audience for Indy races and F1 in Canada: it's huge. This is a no-brain decision by NASCAR to come to Canada, all they need to do is pick the right track. Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is available and so is MOSPORT, but MOSPORT could use some additional seats. Personally, they should hold the race in Ontario if they possibly could, because I think Ontario is full of NASCAR-type people in my opinion. Full of rural folks who'd drive miles to see a race. Montreal just has too much of a big-city atmosphere and NASCAR prides itself on its rural roots. That's why it might fit right in at MOSPORT if they can maybe renovate the place and add some seats.

Doesn't matter where they hold it, NASCAR would pack the joint. NASCAR races are really exciting, look at the race this weekend when Carl Edwards nipped Jimmie Johnson at the line in Atlanta. That was darn good racing and there's an audience for that here in Canada that's going untapped. If NASCAR came up here they'd absolutely strike it rich.

UPDATE ON THE MARLIES:

Been watching the TV news coverage and it sure looks as if they are going to be referring to this new AHL squad not as the "Marlboros" but the "Marlies". Maybe this is an attempt to avoid any confusion or any association with cigarettes. I was going to suggest maybe they hire some cowboy with a cigarette dangling from his mouth as a mascot or something.

More and more I wonder whether calling them the "Marlies" is a good idea. It's not a very hip name to begin with, and the tradition behind the name is kind of misplaced: the Marlies were really a junior team, when the fact is that this new Marlies team is supposed to be in the AHL, a PROFESSIONAL league full of veteran players and developing talent. It makes this new team sound like something really bush league. At least when the Roadrunners were here they acted like they were a big time, big league entity, with the requisite goofy bird mascot, even though it was the AHL. Calling these guys the "Marlies" makes them seem smalltime.

But who knows, maybe it'll look like a brilliant move when we actually see them play. They will be playing in the cozy Ricoh Coliseum which has a nice aged feel, like one of the old barns from the Original Six era. Put the "Marlies" in there and it'll seem like they've been playing in that old building forever. Maybe that's the whole idea behind this.

One thing won't change, though. Because they'll be wearing the blue and white and playing in Toronto colors, and wearing a maple leaf jersey that says "Marlies" on it, this team will still be known as the "Baby Leafs". That nickname's bound to stick around.

Monday, March 21, 2005

SAD TIMES FOR CANADIAN SPORTSCASTERS

Well it continues to be terrible times for sportscasters north of the 49th. While American sports broadcasters are calling NCAA basketball games and getting set for the baseball season, Canadian sportscasters are unemployed, underemployed, in very poor health, or in one case, preparing a court case.

The guy preparing a court case is Chris Cuthbert, now planning to take the CBC to court over their decision to fire him. They couldn't come to an agreement over a severance package. I don't think he ever thought the NHL labour dispute was going to cost him his job or put him in a situation where he was going to have to sue the CBC. If someone had gone up to Cuthbert and told him he would be spending the year fighting a legal battle against the CBC I don't think he would have believed it. He would have said you were nuts.

The guy in very poor health is, sadly, Tom Cheek, the Blue Jays' announcer on radio, who continues his brave fight against cancer. He has what is described as an "inoperable" brain tumour. Cheek is scheduled to undergo more brain surgery this week. I doubt he'll be able to do Opening Day. Last season he had to undergo surgery and was out for several weeks. This year Cheek will not be doing any road games on the radio at all because of his health problems. This is a really serious, terrible situation for Cheek, for the team and for the fans, but hopefully the surgery will be successful. We all want him to get well and return to the air but this is a really bad situation to be in, having to go have surgery again.

------------------------------------------------

Baseball season begins within a couple of weeks and no doubt fans will be happy to see the return of a familiar sport after a year of no NHL. But this has been a terrible year. We have no NHL and no Montreal Expos to look forward to, and now no Tom Cheek on the radio again. And today Wayne Gretzky bowed out of the world championships to spend time with his family because his mother Phyllis Gretzky has lung cancer. These are sad times, people.

Don't tell me that it will improve in April when the TV networks cover the IIHF world championships or the Memorial Cup, or that outdoor game in Hamilton, or that WHA cup tournament they plan on having. Hockey is still a complete joke, the Raptors are out of the playoffs, Jacques Villeneuve is a bum, and the Blue Jays are in the same division as the Red Sox and the Yankees so they are beaten before they even begin. The sports situation in Canada right now is sad, sad, sad.

REALITY TV BLUES

Well after spending a weekend watching nothing but upsets, upset people at political conventions and upset basketball games on TV, I decided I wanted to tune into something a little less upsetting and a little more escapist, something that had nothing to do with the real world and all its problems. So I tuned into reality TV in a stupid, birdbrained decision.

NAJAI'S EPISODE OF THE CONTENDER AIRS

Yesterday I tuned into the Contender again to see whether the fights were getting any better, and as it turned out it was poor Najai Turpin's episode. His Eastern team won the challenge and Najai got to pick his opponent. Unfortunately he picked the wrong opponent and he lost the fight on a pretty obvious, pretty convincing unanimous decision. And I felt really bad for him and really sad for his family, watching that whole show.

At the end of the episode they announced Najai had died- they didn't say it was a suicide- and Sugar Ray Leonard was on TV saying they set up a trust fund for his family.

It was really a sad, sad episode because you got to see poor Najai's family and his little kid. And you tuned into the whole episode knowing that it was going to end badly, that it was going to be a really sad ending. So that was really depressing. My night of viewing reality TV was off on a really sour note.

THE STARLET: JUDGES ARE ALL EVIL

Then I tuned into The Starlet over on Toronto 1 and actually sat through the entire thing. This is that reality show that actually airs on the WB, and the grand prize for the winner is supposed to be that she gets to be one of these babes on the WB. Actually, that was my whole reason to watch, to check out the babes. I had no other reason to tune in.

This was the show that New York Times called the best show on TV, or so the WB is saying about what they said. I don't know why they said that because in my judgement it's no better than America's Next Top Model, another mediocre and ridiculous waste-of-time reality show.

The Starlet is completely mediocre. It's the usual babes-living-in-the-same-house nonsense. Concept-wise this show has its moments. but the contestants are all rank amateurs who are lousy at acting, and the judges are the biggest collection of jerks ever assembled.

They had these six babes shooting a commercial in their bikinis, trying to sell some kind of product or something. And obviously none of them did all that great a job because I forgot whatever product they were trying to sell. But the other thing was that it was a lame commercial to begin with, it was poorly written and poorly put together, and the women all had trouble reading the lines because it was such a lousy ad. It was pretty obvious that the commercial did nothing to sell the product.

So who did the judges blame for the lousy commercials? Well, who else? The Starlets. They do their jobs and they get yelled at for it. And then one of them gets rejected.

These three judges, two of them being the divas Vivica A. Fox and Faye Dunaway, basically wasted no time trashing these babes and trashing their performances, saying they didn't understand a word they said. They told the South African model to get rid of her accent. They blasted another contestant for not having a good body and to go work out, and told some of the others that their acting was the pits. They repeatedly told these women that they didn't convince them to buy their product. But darnet, it was a lousy ad to begin with. These women may have been crummy actors but they were given a crummy product to work with. It was very easy to end up looking stiff.

Anyway the judges left these poor women in tears. Someone needed to give each of them a big hug and telling them things were going to be all right. Listen, I've been on TV and put up with crazy producers who acted like jerks, criticizing my performances and my wardrobe, the way I talked, etc. But that was different. I knew that all I needed to do was wait for them to quit or be canned, and I wouldn't have to put up with any more of that nonsense. And if I really got fed up I could have walked right out of there.

But these poor women have no recourse, they're stuck with Faye Dunaway and these jerks. Even on American Idol you only have to put up with Simon Cowell until the performances start. Then it all comes down to telephone voting and it matters very little what that jerk Simon thinks; if America loves you, you come back next week whether he likes it or not. Besides, he's not that bad, Simon's a sweet, generous guy compared to Faye Dunaway. At least if you do a good job he might find something good to say. And if he really rips you to shreds you might be able to get a lot of sympathy votes and win the competition in spite of him.

The worst part is that these poor WB babes can't quit the show. These days you can't even quit a show without looking like a total idiot; look at Mario from American Idol. People are looking through his trashcans, now, trying to figure out why he quit; what's his story, did he do drugs, was he a victim of child abuse, etc. Actually I think he got a better offer, that's what I think. I think he quit because he just didn't like the show and thought he could do better elsewhere, didn't want to end up like Kelly or Justin or any of those losers. But right now Mario's getting roasted. That's why you can't quit any of these shows. If you quit you end up looking bad.

So these poor women can't quit The Starlet. They have to stand there and take it from Faye Dunaway and get yelled at and get told that their bodies are no good: all the standard humiliation elements. When they eliminate someone at the end of the show they use the signature line: "don't call us, we'll call you." Clever, ranks right up there with "you're fired." But these judges are too arrogant and too smug, and Faye Dunaway is an old hag anyway.

I think I figured out why people watch reality TV. They tune in to see people fighting with each other, and then get criticized by these evil judges, and then get their dreams snuffed out on national TV and then they have to pack up and go home to pathetic Oklahoma or Mississippi or whichever lousy state they came from. I think it's the Jerry Springer effect. The audience tunes in to watch other people get humiliated. The viewers' own lives are lousy and they put up with a lot of crap, and their own dreams have been crushed. It's good to know you're not the only total loser out there, that there are other losers, just like you. At least you're not on TV, making a fool out of yourself like they are.

That's why people watch. Sort of therapy, like Dr. Phil.

I don't know about you but I'm tired of watching people get humiliated on TV every week. I want to see more uplifting entertainment.

YOU'RE HIRED

Finally, here's a story about two old Apprentice 2 guys, Raj and Bradford. Seems Raj is getting SUED in the state of Florida and he has hired Bradford, who's real job is working as an attorney in Fort Lauderdale, to get him off. Anyway here's the story from Celebrity Justice.

Sounds to me like this was a really stupid dispute, the kind of stupid dispute lawyers routinely have to deal with on a regular basis, and if they all don't settle this out of court they're all a bunch of fools.

Thought I'd end on a fun note. Going on The Apprentice turned out OK for Bradford after all, he got his name out there and got some new clients. Who needs Donald Trump. Trump, you're fired!

Sunday, March 20, 2005

SURFING AROUND

A few days ago I was surfing around on Google looking for, well, information about entertainment and stuff like that, useless junk. Then it occured to me to surf around to see if any old friends of mine had built their own web sites or blog sites.

Anyway for no particular reason I decided to look up Mike Pereira. I remembered him from way back in the days when we were both at the University of Western Ontario, doing time at the campus radio station CHRW-FM doing radio announcing. I remembered he was very keen on Canadian politics, interested in education issues, and obsessed with Quebec. He had gone up to Montreal during the referendum and filed reports on that for CHRW. I figured that maybe he might have a political blog or something going since it's the cool thing to do these days, so I decided to try and look him up.

Well, guess what. He has a nifty current affairs website. Seems that after I left CHRW Mike hung around and hosted a political talk show, then he went and did a master's degree in political management at George Washington University and moved to Washington D.C.! So he ended up in the United States. You know what, a ton of people I used to know at CHRW ended up in the United States. The news director actually became a sports information director at some university in Virginia, and the music director eventually became a big movie reviewer based in San Francisco, I kid you not. Now that's a gig a lot of normal people don't get, but he wasn't a normal person to begin with, he was too cool for our country.

I don't know what it is about the USA that pulls people in there from the University of Western Ontario, but there you go. I don't know how they are able to get in down there. There must be a way to be able to move down there and work, and be able to comply with their regulations and not get deported. Maybe I should talk to an immigration lawyer about this, again. ( Actually there was a pretty good friend of mine at Western who moved to New York after she graduated, but she was an American to begin with so she doesn't really count.)

Incidentally, the CHRW news department was founded years ago by none other than Global TV's very own Kevin Newman, who actually ran it when the entire station was really small and a bit of a joke. CHRW was much more organized when I was there, a lot more professional. (I think Thalia Assuras and Elliotte Friedman also did time at CHRW, among other people. Lots of people got their start there. Just an interesting observation.)

Saturday, March 19, 2005

84% APPROVAL FOR HARPER

Wonder what the Liberals are going to say about THAT.

This surely is a divided party, split in two, infighting, Alliance takeover, etc. etc...not.

Story on the day's proceedings from CBC News.

MORE ON THE TORIES CONVENTION

Here's a look at what happened on the floor of the convention re: the social issues debate and it sounded pretty civil, no major embarrassments or any of that.

Whew. What a relief. I've got to give the party members some credit here, they at least didn't embarrass the party. And they voted pretty much the way I would have voted. As for Scott Reid, well, he was embarrassing, but his goofy resolution to alter the delegate selection process was resoundingly defeated on the floor. Pretty much laughed right out of the room, in my estimation. And yes, there was a separate resolution that was going to affect leadership votes, and that too was deservedly defeated as well. In fact, on the first vote quite a few people were hurling catcalls at Reid for his stupid proposal; thanks to him, the party was made to look really bad in the press on Friday.

At least you can't say that people were muzzled. You gotta say it, this was a wide-open convention. And the Liberals are going to criticize it but what do you expect. One day they claim the delegates are muzzled by Harper, the next they say the party is divided. You can't win either way so why bother with what the Liberals say, they don't run an open political party anyway.

All in all I'm pretty happy with what's going on today. Stephen Harper had a really good speech totally eviscerating the Liberals last night, and I'd say the party's going to come out of this convention strong and united, having defined themselves on a lot of key issues. They look like a pretty solid mainstream bunch of people up there, a lot different from the yahoos who were at the mikes at the Reform conventions, I gotta admit. It's the Liberals who look like lunatics now, with their own convention delegates taking daft positions to legalize prostitution and marijuana etc. I'd say that even though the Conservatives have some obvious divisions, it's clear they all want to work together and the party looks pretty united to me.

So there, that's my balanced assessment, but don't expect the mainstream media to give this kind of account. They're just going to say this convention was a disaster and the party was divided. The media should just go home if they can find nothing good to say about what's happening in Montreal. Fair and balanced, my foot.

Friday, March 18, 2005

THE NEW A CHANNEL

Here's an article on the strange changes coming to a CHUM TV station near you.

Here's what's going to happen. The former Craig Media stations in Alberta and Manitoba, which went by the name of A-Channel, will all be changing their names this fall to Citytv- just like the two Chum stations in Toronto and Vancouver.

But here's the really confusing part: the six "new" stations CHUM owns- the New VR, New RO and the rest of them- are all going to switch over and will be known now as "A-Channel". Why, I haven't a clue. I thought A stood for Alberta, but I guess CHUM thinks it's just another letter of the alphabet. I guess they think that these stations aren't "new" anymore so why call them the "New PL" or whatever when it would be simply easier to refer to them as A-Channel.

I think this could have been prompted by CTV's decision to rename all their local station newscasts as "CTV News" and drop the call letters entirely. So CFTO isn't CFTO anymore, it's CTV now. I thought CFTO was the local station and it was on the CTV network. Looks like CTV has gobbled them up. Sort of like having a bunch of restaurants all called "Burger King" or something.

Of course, Global stations simply call themselves "Global" right across Canada these days, and there are three stations in Canada that call themselves "CH". This is confusing. This truly marks the death of call letters in Canada, on TV anyway. If you want call letters, tune into CFRB or something on the radio. Forget TV.

BIG BANNER HEADLINE FROM BOURQUE

"MacKay: Merger in Jeopardy" it said over on Bourque.

From what I hear, though, MacKay's calmed down quite a bit since this morning. But still, what a day of nonsense.

Like I say: Amateurs.

NO INTEREST IN THE TORIES

Well, I was going to provide wall-to-wall Tory convention coverage but I realize now that covering this convention is a joke. Nobody else seems to be into covering this thing except for maybe Adam Daifallah. He had something to say about the party proposing to start a youth wing. I went over to the Western Standard's Shotgun and all they had was some blurb by Ezra Levant bragging about his hospitality suite; I'm hoping they will maybe chime in with some more stuff later.

Maybe BloggingTories.ca will as well, but as of this moment they had nothing much to say over there either. Instead these right-wingers were talking about happenings in the United States. The guy over at the Meatriarchy was saying that some big deal in the blogging community got arrested and strip-searched by border officials in the United States, just for being a blogger.

Well, you know, I am beginning to think this blogging stuff is more trouble than it's worth. Bloggers are being made out to be these wingnut political-types who live in basements, and they're seen now as general troublemakers, and I've heard of bloggers getting fired from their jobs. I've got a media background and it's pretty much accepted that it's cool for media people to have blogs and post their editorial opinions, so I'm not so worried about that. I don't want to be seen as some sick "blogger" who's obsessed with politics. I don't want to be associated with these wingnut types who bring down network TV anchors and media executives, I want nothing to do with them. The only reason I still blog is for laughs these days. I'm just doing this to keep my hand in writing and to occasionally chronicle my experiences at political events. Sort of "gonzo journalism" a la Hunter S. Thompson. I'm at a victory party in Orangeville eating free food, woo hoo.

Back to this convention. The only other media outlet in the country devoting any sizable coverage to this CPC convention thing seems to be the National Post. Otherwise, it's getting the attention of basically no one beyond the usual policy wonks and no-lives people. Whenever the odd story is posted in the mainstream press it's always bad news, like Peter MacKay being hopping mad over what happened behind closed doors today -- this motion by Scott Reid to change the leadership erules away from weighting the ridings equally to an every-vote-counts situation. MacKay is being quoted as saying this threatens the future of the party, but the fact is that I think he's blowing a lot of smoke and trying to make sure this resolution Scott Reid cooked up gets defeated tomorrow on the convention floor. CTV News is making this party look bad, but really, the party has no one to blame for this but itself, and in particular Scott Reid. What a way to begin a convention. These ex-Alliance types seem hell-bent on getting this whole party defeated.

As for me, my effort at covering this convention is a joke. It consists of me sitting at home watching CPAC coverage from a computer screen. So it's complete lame-o coverage, and the only reason I'm doing it is because I have nothing better to do, the cartoons haven't started yet.

The one thing I read on the National Post front page today was a blurb that said Rob Reiner, Hollywood director and big loud liberal, was being touted as a potential candidate to go up against Schwarzenegger. Imagine that: Meathead versus The Terminator. The thing is that right now Arnold's approval ratings are through the roof. And Rob Reiner is no Ahhhhnold; in fact, he seems kind of unlikable and obnoxious. This could be a case of Arnold turning Meathead into Mincemeat.

See, told you I'm doing this blog for laughs. Meathead turned to Mincemeat, now that's a good one.

CPC CONVENTION COVERAGE

Well, some big bombshell from left field, or so Peter Van Dusen on CPAC thinks, anyway.

I haven't caught all of this but apparently Scott Reid came up with some goofy proposal in the workshops to try and change the leadership selection process away from each riding having complete equality in the leadership votes. And apparently his proposal got passed in committee or something and they made it sound as if Peter MacKay was hopping mad, because it was right out of left field.

This is the Conservative party messing around with one of the bedrock principles from the merger agreement and all I will say is that this is why I say it's Amateur Hour over there. The amateurs run the show. Now some of the old PCs are saying this isn't that big a deal, but still, this looks bad for optics: it looks like the Alliance types are trying to hose the old PCs. More ammunition handed over to the Liberals.

UPDATE: Ahem. My mistake.
Apparently this proposal doesn't have anything to do with leadership races at all, from what I heard listening to some guy who was in there when this was debated. Instead it goes to the selection process for policy conventions. Well, then, this is less of a big deal than I thought it would be, but still, it's a colossally stupid idea. It gives all the weighting to all these ridings where we win all the time, which means that they'll have all the clout in writing policies at policy conventions. It does nothing for us in the ridings we regularly lose. And if we're going to win everywhere we need to treat all the ridings the same and have the same input on policies from these ridings that we lose; frankly, the name of the game is winning. That's why Peter MacKay is so hopping mad. He wants to win and get these Liberals booted out above all else. This proposal by Scott Reid does nothing to get this party moving in that direction.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Now I've heard Peter Van Dusen say that future leadership votes ARE affected by this. SO now I'm thoroughly confused.

For the record, Michael Fortier, an old PC who's from the place most affected by this goofy proposal, Quebec ( he's also a Harper loyalist ), was on CPAC saying he's convinced this proposals won't fly on the floor anyway. But the CPAC people are making a big issue of this. What a way to get started on a Friday. Anyway I hope Fortier's right. I would hate to see a fight over an issue that was a bedrock merger issue to begin with. But this type of thing is what I mean when I say the people who are running the show in the party are a bunch of amateurs. Scott Reid should never have made this proposal to begin with. (UPDATE- John Reynolds just came out against the Reid proposal, too.)

From this vantagepoint the convention is not off to an impressive start. Now I wish I were in Montreal, voting against Scott Reid. But I would have needed Belinda's money in order to go.

For complete streaming coverage of the convention cpac.ca has coverage. More later.

UPDATE: On the positive side the speakers may be OK after all: Jim Prentice is up there speaking right now.

On the negative side these jokers just voted against some proposal re: urban transit and the urban agenda. Wonderful, make the job of Conservatives in Toronto tougher. Show the GTA that you care.

See this is what drives Tories here up the wall. These are proud loyal Conservatives, and I'm a loyal Conservative, but the rest of the party is finding ways to lose and it drives all of us urban Conservatives crazy. Being a Conservative in Toronto is like cheering for a incredibly bad losing pro sports team. We're acting like pathetic fans calling up sports talk shows to complain about the management and all the trades. Yecch.

I'm going to post some more later and I'm going to try and find something good to say about the party later. But I stand by my comment: Amateur Hour.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

BIG VIC-TORY; AND THE MONTREAL CONVENTION OPENS

This item got buried in the press tonight, but I was involved in this effort to get John Tory elected in the Dufferin-Peel-Wellington-Grey byelection today and it was awfully good to call people up on the phone all day and have people say good things about the candidate, for a change.

In yet another example of me being unable to extricate myself from politics, I spent today in downtown Toronto with a bunch of people phoning from PC headquarters to everyone in Dufferin-Peel region trying to get Tory elected, and he won a big, massive, stinking victory. And I got to eat lots of good free food. Then I went to the victory party at this hockey arena in Orangeville and the whole press corps were there, and I shook John Tory's hand as he came in, and shook his wife's hand, and later ate more food. Ernie Eves was also there and so was Bill Davis. So in all it was great. I don't know what the final margin was but it sure seemed like a 4-to-1 margin, even if it really wasn't. Tory was sweeping to victory in every poll. It was a total crushing of the Liberals. In fact the NDP and even the Greens came very close to the Liberals' totals. It was great. It reminded me of all the things that drew me to politics in the first place. It's when you lose that you get turned off and disgusted by the process.

Admittedly I didn't do much on this campaign, just phoned people from the phone banks in Toronto and ate large quantities of PC party food, but it was nice to be part of a victory. Again.

CONSERVATIVE CONVENTION IN MONTREAL OPENS

I didn't know this but the Conservative national convention opened TONIGHT. MAN, I thought it was tomorrow. What brutal timing.

Maybe a few of our federal Conservative friends might take note of the things John Tory is doing right. They have their convention in Montreal and already they're getting a lot of bad press from people yelling about how this party has to become more mainstream on social issues. The same old story. Now there's yet another story of Cheryl Gallant opening her mouth about Canadians bashing Christians or something. Yet again, I am glad I am not in Montreal with this group of nutbars.

I also heard today that the luckless Belinda's been reduced to introducing John Baird or something. So it sure looks like the Alliance hacks are running the show. They have learned no lessons from the Republicans. When the Republicans held their convention in 2004 they gave tons of air time to the moderates, such as AHHHNOLD, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, people like that. I don't know what they have all planned but if the Conservative Party had any brains at all they'd be putting Belinda up there, too, and show off their other star moderates of the party like Jim Prentice, big star Rona Ambrose, and Stephen Fletcher. Now wouldn't the press eat it up if Stephen Fletcher, a quadriplegic, was able to address delegates on disability issues for a bit. He'd look like Christopher Reeve up there. It would really make the party look like an inclusive caring group of people. And why not put Lewis MacKenzie up there, too, to talk about the military? Let's make this weekend a big infomercial for the Conservatives! But noooooooo. I don't think we'll be seeing much of them if what I heard is accurate. The only moderate that appears likely to be getting any face time is Peter MacKay. I looked at the schedule and it looks as if they're doing nothing exciting as far as speeches are concerned. To my eyes this looks like a convention for complete wonks, as bad as the NDP ones. Yecch.

I don't know about you but I think the problem with the party isn't party unity. The press seems to want to bring up how fractious the party is but I really don't sense that this party is tearing itself apart. Truth is the party is actually really united now that the real malcontent complete losers like Joe Who are out of there. The sense I have is that the members may disagree on a few things but generally have a strong desire to come together and hash out their differences. I am convinced the desire to win is a big motivating factor for everyone.

The difficulty is that the people at the top have no clue how to win. The real problem, then, is that the people who run the show with the Conservative Party of Canada are total rank amateurs. They seem averse to proven methods to win elections and gain supporters. They've allowed wingnut MPs to spout off to the press, they've written up policy behind closed doors, they've been gutless in the House of Commons and fearful of a real grassroots debate at the convention, and fearful of standing for their own bedrock principles. Where's the backbone from the leadership? And furthermore, where's the restraint and sense of responsibility from the rest of the party, because the Cheryl Gallants of the party have shown very little of that. We've got to see some responsibility, and greater backbone, from everyone in the coming few days.

And we need to see a mainstream social policy. Otherwise, forget about winning an election! I'm not saying adopt gay marriages; I'm saying stop scaring people into thinking abortions will be outlawed. That's what I'm talking about. I hope the delegates, in this free and fair convention coming up, adopt a mainstream policy, have it written in stone in the platform and be done with it. Then they can say that they had an open debate and this is what they really believe. If Cheryl Gallant doesn't like it she can go join the Christian Heritage Party or whoever will take her, and the party will be rid of one less problem MP.

The Conservatives would then emerge looking bulletproof on social issues. They'd look like they really believe in their own line of BS, not simply make up their policies in order to win an election. And then people won't be tempted to think that Conservatives have any sort of hidden agenda. They need to show the country that they are moderate, reasonable, trustworthy people, just like the people of Canada. I hope that is what happens. I hope the delegates produce some clear direction for the entire party to go and somehow get this party on the right track.

I'm doing a lot of hoping because my confidence in this party isn't all there at the moment. I'm going to sit at home and watch this convention with interest and see whether these delegates save this party from itself or lay an egg. Hopefully by gathering together in one place they'll be able to listen to different perspectives on where the party is going and be inclined to think seriously about whether socially conservative policies really are the direction the party should go. And in my view they are not.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

BLAKE ACQUITTED

Came in this afternoon. Story from Court TV.

Big day for acquittals: those Air India guys also got off.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

DAY 8 OF DELIBERATIONS FOR BLAKE

The jury has requested a readback of testimony that goes to the question of whether Blake tried to hire a hit; that would possibly tip the scales on one of the charges against Blake. One thing they want to look at is the testimony is Ronald "Duffy" Hambleton and you can see for yourself what this testimony was all about- it was about whether Blake wanted to hire a hit.

Could this jury have decided Blake's not guilty of murder but might be guilty on the two counts of solicitation for murder? That's what these jurors are zeroing in on in my judgement, the two solicitation counts. Looks to me like the prosecution case to nail Blake for the murder charge could be crumbling fast if this is what's happening. Maybe it already has crumbled. It's been eight days of agony and that tells me one thing, they've really struggled to come up with a murder conviction.

From a prosecution standpoint this situation looks rather worrisome: Blake could end up getting off on every charge. If I were the D.A. I'd be thinking of offering a plea deal right now, and if I were the defense team I would consider taking it, if the deal is a good one, because I think this jury could be about to nail Blake on these two lesser charges. See, I've been watching way too much Law and Order. I should quit watching so much TV.

Monday, March 14, 2005

JETSGO SUCKS

Found this hilarious angry website on the late Jetsgo airline: Jetsgosucks.com.

Sounds like I wasn't the only one whose Jetsgo flights were late by several hours. Sounds like this was one really crummy airline with even crummier aircraft. CTV News did a good hatchet job story on Friday outlining all the equipment failures and near-misses from that airline. One time they lost an engine on the runway or something, and the next day they had to make an emergency landing in South Carolina. Maybe it's a good thing those incompetents at Jetsgo went bankrupt. If they kept on flying with their crumbling old planes, one of them could have crashed and lots of people could have been killed.

I remember that my flight that was supposed to fly back from Vancouver to Toronto got held up because of equipment problems or something that kept the scheduled plane from arriving in Vancouver. I think they had to ground one of their planes or something and they made some alternative arrangements to send some plane from St. John's or somewhere to pick us up instead, I think that's what happened. All I remember is that everyone was really upset that the flight was late, and several people got into big arguments with the Jetsgo people because they were going to miss their connecting flights. Man, that was a big mess. But that's what you get riding on a cheap airline. This is all true, what happened, and now that Jetsgo is officially bellyup I feel free to speak about it without fear of getting sued.

The Jetsgo logo was a goofy-looking green happy face, but that airline produced nothing but unhappiness, anger, confusion. They should never have adopted that green happy face as a logo. It was false advertising.

It's really sad for the passengers and for the employees. The employees are still trying to get their paycheques and the passengers really got hosed, losing all their cash on worthless airline tickets.

The Conservatives are bodyslamming the Liberals now because yet another airline collapsed under their watch, but it sure looks as if this was one airline that actually deserved to go... pardon the pun. Jetsgo was a crummy airline and after I flew with them I swore I'd never fly with them again. And, well, it looks like I'll be a man of my word.

ROBERT BLAKE JURY IS STILL DELIBERATING

It's Day Seven of the deliberations in the Blake murder trial, and they have ended for the day. Back tomorrow, again. And now I'm beginning to wonder whether this case is going to even get to a verdict since it's taking forever. Is this a hung jury?

Sunday, March 13, 2005

HOW TO BE AN ENTERTAINMENT TV REPORTER


WELL I've made a final decision, I've decided to go into entertainment.

Thud.
That's me fainting as I read my own blog.

But really, I've through with serious journalism. I'm through doing news. I know, I haven't done hard news in a long time anyway but I'm not going back to it. It's sheer misery to cover sob stories, it got me nowhere and it's a waste of my talent to begin with. If I do news the best I could hope for is to end up like Dan Rather. He had the best job in TV news, supposedly, and look what happened to him. He ended up getting carried off his set on a stretcher. So forget hard news, it's a ticket to nowhere.

I'm going to get into doing some sort of journalism or writing on the entertainment and TV industry. I don't know how I'll achieve this, though. I really have no clue where to go or what to do. I actually had been looking for a way to get into entertainment for a while, for close to two years in fact, but basically my entire experience has nothing to do with the field.

I know this: serious news is tough slogging. The local news stories are all pathetic murders and endless funerals. The only decent gigs are as foreign reporters, but in those gigs you have to spend your days avoiding getting shot or arrested in foreign countries where no one speaks your language. What fun is that?

And forget sports. Sports reporters are having the worst year of their professional lives this year and they're not happy.

I know this for a fact from my time when I was at CTV years ago. The happiest people there were the people who all weren't doing hard news. Especially the on-air people who weren't in news. They loved their jobs and loved their lives. And they were also the nicest to me when I was there, by a country mile. In fact I've found it typical of the industry: everywhere you go, the biggest, most arrogant jerks in the business were typically the news people, while the sports and entertainment people were generally people with sunny personalities who loved what they did. True, I've heard of some entertainment people who were arrogant and full of it, but in general I'd say they're a much happier crowd than the news people.

Heck, look at Dina Pugliese (pictured). Now I haven't met her and she could be a conniving diva for all I know, but it sounds like she's having a blast. I was rummaging around the Internet and came across this article on Dina from the Excalibur (York U). Dina, of course, is the deep-voiced and very glamorous co-host of The A-List on Toronto 1.

The article mentioned that Bill Brioux had nice things to say about the program, which is understandable if you compare it to the effort on CTV, eTalk Daily. I'd take Dina over Ben Mulroney any day, and besides, on the A-List you don't have any fawning promo tie-in coverage of Canadian Idol. Can you believe Ben Mulroney has a law degree? It's true. Ben Mulroney is putting his legal education to use, chasing celebrities. In fact I read somewhere that Henry Kissinger's son got a law degree then chucked it to cover entertainment. Interesting.
The article mentioned that early in her career some bigshot told Dina that in order to get into entertainment reporting she really had to go work in some small town like Moose Jaw and pay her dues doing hard news. Well, I've heard these hard news clowns give this advice time and again, and I can tell you right now that this is a line of bull. First of all, there's no TV stations in Moose Jaw so that's bad advice to begin with. But furthermore, I know of very few entertainment reporters who made it by doing strictly hard news. Either you're a beauty queen like Mary Hart or an ex-radio DJ like Billy Bush or Cheryl Hickey, or an ex-sports guy like Pat O'Brien, or you're an actor wannabe (lots of those), or maybe you have a famous last name or are an offspring of a famous politician with the last name starting with the letter M (Eleanor Mondale or Ben Mulroney). I think Liz West at Citytv actually worked in the music industry or something before she went into entertainment news, and I think she never did a day of hard news in her life. Then you have the people like Leonard Maltin and Roger Ebert who made it first as print reporters and film writers.

So I say if you really want to do entertainment and know you hate doing news, then don't fool around, do entertainment. Don't waste your time living in Sudbury covering fires or dead bodies. If you suck at it, it won't matter, you'll end up getting fired, and then you are screwed. Doing crime stories and hard news in small towns may have worked for Nancy O'Dell but it doesn't mean it will work for you. I noticed that a lot of hard-news reporters who eventually got into entertainment ended up working for CNN and they eventually were all laid off. So news is a ticket to nowhere as far as I'm concerned. Stick with hard news and the best you'll do is end up stuck covering the business of entertainment or something boring like that. The news business would knock the creativity and personality right out of you. Even a behind the scenes job at a talk show in Toronto is a better option.

If you're female you're better off working behind the scenes at an entertainment or talk show, or volunteering at Rogers doing entertainment stuff, or doing stuff for radio (music is good), or working as a VJ for MuchMusic or as a weathercaster for the Weather Network (that worked for both Jillian Barberie and Carla Collins). If that all doesn't work, win a beauty contest and you'll get on the air for sure. Generally, the guys who made it either worked as music video VJs or were in radio, or hosted game shows (Bob Goen), while most of the rest were sports guys on TV. I say sports experience is a good thing to have. You'll be able to say you have experience covering celebrities. At least, that's the line of bull I plan to use.

So forget about doing news reporting. It does nothing for you if you want to cover entertainment. If you're going to be stuck working in news, for gosh sakes make sure you're in a large city where you can also report on entertainment from time to time or where you can network with other entertainment reporters. Then, at least, you can get a reel made. There, that's my two cents. Get in somewhere where you can do entertainment. And then maybe you stand a chance of getting in somewhere like Dina Pugliese.

LIVING LA VIDA LOCO IN BAGHDAD

I read this article while surfing around tonight. It's about these freelance journos who pack up and head over to Baghdad to cover the Big Story over there: the Iraq War, the beginnings of democracy over there and the continued insurgency. I call it Living La Vida Loco... loco in the cabesa, as we say in Spanish.

Even though the elections were a success there's still a long way to go and it's still a mess over there. The article talks about what it's like for these reporters, many of whom wouldn't have had a chance to report otherwise from that place. Me, I've thought about it. I've actually thought about it. Certainly it could make your career and it would beat doing crappy city council meetings, but the big reason why I don't want to go there is that I don't want to die! Besides, if I go there my family would kill me.

Also, Iraq sounds like an absolute dump with no girls, and I don't think they have McDonald's over there, either. Probably not even a KFC. I don't think they go for that North American cuisine. Another good reason to stay home.

NCAA TOURNAMENT DECISION DAY; PLUS A WORD ABOUT THE CONTENDER

Today is the day they announce the field for the NCAA Tournament, as the final conference tournaments wrap up.

It is a day of nail-biting for teams on the fence. You can take a look at this article which provides a chart listing who's definitely in and who might be out. (UPDATE: They just announced the bracket).

I have always found the interest in college basketball by American fans a little confusing. Why the heck don't these people follow the NBA instead? They're better athletes. I think the reason the NCAA is so big has a lot to do with scheduling and geography. The NCAA's mad scramble for tournament positions and the whole NCAA Tournament takes place during the February-to-April sports ghetto when football is over and baseball has yet to begin. It has to do with geography in this way: in much of the United States there is absolutely nothing to do, not even any NBA or NHL teams, so in places like Cincinnati or Kansas City or Buffalo, or in Oklahoma or Iowa or Indiana or New Mexico or the Carolinas and Virginia, fans flock to NCAA basketball games because, historically, they really had no choice. It was either the NCAA or nothing for years, and they all kept up the habit in spite of NHL or NBA expansion.

Moreover, this period is the peak of the NCAA schedule: every game in every conference is important. The NCAA basketball season is ridiculously short (about 30 games), and the conference schedule is even shorter ( 16 games, give or take a few). Then after the regular season is over, each conference holds its postseason tournament, and the winner of THAT gets an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. And in most of these conferences pretty much everyone gets in to the conference tournament. It's worse than the NHL.

For the last several days we had the mad scramble of teams trying to win their conference tournaments, and that has all affected the rankings of all the teams and their RPIs and SOS (don't ask me what this all means). And there's wall-to-wall basketball on the tubes, and when the NCAA tournament gets underway for real we'll have 65 teams scrambling for the title. And it's a mad scramble with no-name schools from the middle of nowhere beating these big-name teams who were on TV all year. So just like in the NFL, everyone feels they have a chance so everyone watches.

Compare that to the NBA, where the regular season is ridiculously too long (82 games), there is no mad scramble for playoff positions, where the playoffs are long and boring and the same predictable teams win in the end anyway. Occasionally a team like the Pistons will win it all, but usually it's in the bag already for the Lakers or Spurs, or throughout the 90s, da BULLS. Booooring.

We'll be seeing nothing but basketball on CBS for three full weeks. That's why they moved Survivor to Wednesday: to make room for basketball. It promises to be absolute overkill. In fact, we get overkill from start to finish from CBS. First they don't call it The NCAA Tournament- they call it "March Madness", because they all profess to be surprised when some good team from the middle of nowhere wins (ie. Gonzaga- that's a really good example). And they talk about Bubble Teams, and when they advance they don't advance to Round Three, they advance to the " Sweet Sixteen." It's not the quarterfinals, it's the "Elite Eight." Then they have the "Final Four". The only tag line they missed was the "Terrific Two."

Every game is filled with melodrama and hype. We hear about all the hardship stories about relatives beating cancer or dropping dead during the season, and they always point their cameras to the crowd to get shots of the coach's wives, all nervous. During the tournament they hype up all these mediocrities like Danny Manning and Christian Laettner, big heroes in the NCAAs who go on to do nothing in the NBA. Then, after the final game they always play "One Shining Moment" and try and make you all misty-eyed.

It's worse than the Bachelor/ette. It's also worse than the Contender. The Contender is all about the families and the melodrama about these boxers when all they need to do is show the boxing. Same with CBS Sports. We don't need any of CBS' melodrama and overdramatics. Just show us the basketball guys! Just give us the good entertainment to keep us happy until baseball season, when we can go back to watching these juiced-up sluggers hit home runs into the ocean again. We don't need the hype or the reality show antics. The game of hoops can sell itself.

THE CONTENDER MOVES TO SUNDAY NIGHT

Speaking of the Contender, all I gotta say is that it's pretty sad when a TV show is better than the sport. But that's what this show's trying to be.

For a reality TV show, The Contender is excellent. It is first-rate. Its production values are superb, and the fights at the end have been dramatic. And that's how it works in the sport: if you lose one fight your title shot is blown. That's the way it is. So that's the good news. Compared to the rest of the crap on NBC, and compared to all the other reality shows out there, this is a decent show.

The bad news is that it's a Reality TV show. Worse, it looks and feels like yet another typical Mark Burnett ripoff production. You can tell that they rip off all the best/worst elements from Survivor and The Apprentice. And it's ruining the fights. The boxing is the best part of the show and it's being ruined by all the cheap reality elements and typical Mark Burnett editing.

You notice they show us truncated fights in packed houses. It's great TV and very exciting to watch. And they're all edited for TV to music so that all the fights look better than they actually are. These guys could be bums for all we know. And for all we know these fights could be boring as hell. But we don't really know because we're not seeing the entire fight every week. So we don't know if the judges are out to lunch or not!

The big problem with the show is that all the reality elements are really old and tired, and look absolutely stupid. You have East and West going against one another in boring Survivor-type stunts, then they pick their opponents. Then they show them at home cooking food with their families and dealing with their rotten kids. There's nothing new about doing behind-the-scenes profiles of athletes with their wives at home, or reading to their kids and stuff. We see it on the weekends during real sporting events! What Mark Burnett ought to do is keep the boxers and keep the tournament, and keep holding these fights in these venues filled with cheering fans, and keep Sly Stallone and the profiles of the boxers with their rotten kids and stuff. But get rid of the reality show already! Do away with the stupid challenges and rewards these people get, and get rid of these stunts. And do these guys all have to train under the same roof, and get on each other's nerves? You think Sugar Ray had to live and train under the same roof as Marvelous Marvin Hagler?! Why does every show in reality TV have to have people living under the same roof? So we can see them yelling at each other? We don't need any of this nonsense. Just show us REAL BOXING for 15 weeks or however long this goes. And be honest, don't make every fight look like it's the greatest ever. If it's a lousy stinking fight with a couple of stiffs up there, say it already! Are we gonna see any KOs the next few weeks? I hope so, dammit!!!

That's what happens when you let reality TV get in the way of a real sport. And that is my frustration with The Contender. There's too much reality and not enough boxing. Word of advice to Mark Burnett: don't try and do a reality TV show about any other sports. One is enough.

Friday, March 11, 2005

JETSGO GOES BELLYUP

Thousands of travellers are left stranded today because Jetsgo just went kaput and grounded its fleet. The airline is in bankruptcy.

See this happens when your planes don't fly in to the airport on time. At least that was my experience when I flew with the airline. Both coming and going, the planes were late by several hours and people were really complaining. But at least the fares were cheap.

I also just learned that Toronto may have a transit strike. Woo hoo. We're going to have massive traffic snarls. With all this mess, we peasants are all going to have to walk everywhere.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

TORIES UNMUZZLED

I didn't know the federal Tories' caucus were trying to put the boots to the rank and file delegates at the Montreal convention; I didn't know they were planning resolutions that might have stifled the social debate. I thought this was supposed to be an open convention with people getting a chance to speak, heck, I thought it was supposed to be an open party to begin with.

I think the party did the right thing by opening it up again, but the way this has gone down has me really worried. Even though the caucus backtracked, it still looks as if policies are still being imposed from the top down of the party, which is bad enough. But the way the rank and file reacted has me REALLY worried. I'm worried the delegates are bigger social conservatives than I thought, and are obsessed with social issues. I'm scared they're going to try and turn this convention next week into some kind of religious revival meeting, and go up to the microphones and speak their minds and REALLY embarrass and marginalize the party in the process. They were the ones who made the biggest stink about this half-cooked plan to put the clamps on debate in the first place.

Now that the gloves are off, this convention will be free and open for all the frothing-at-the-mouths delegates to make a full spectacle of themselves on every social issue imaginable. This has all the potential to be a big disaster for the party if these people don't show some restraint and hold their tongues. I'm worried you're going to have people going up there and calling for the use of the Notwithstanding Clause and worse. Gosh darnet, gang, hold your fire! The Canadian public doesn't want to see this party going nuts over the Notwithstanding Clause or criticizing judges, or trashing alternative lifestyles. Don't make this party look like irresponsible rednecks, and for G's sakes don't cause a civil war within the party.

Personally if I were there I'd be wanting us to have a "status quo" policy on social issues: keep the current laws the way they are, no changes to the laws on the books respecting abortion, capital punishment, marijuana possession, and traditional marriage. And full compliance with any Supreme Court decisions that overturn laws on the books, no use of the Notwithstanding Clause. By going that route you make the Liberals look like the ones rocking the boat, because they're the ones pushing for all the changes. But I'm worried the Conservative Party is going to look like they will return Canada to the Stone Age. If you have delegates spouting off about the Notwithstanding Clause and the rest of it, there won't be clarity by the party on social issues. And the party will be duck soup at the hands of the Liberals.

I just want all the delegates to show some self-restraint, that's all. They need to conduct themselves in the knowledge that the entire country is watching and looking for an alternative to the Liberals, and the party needs to act like a capable government-in-waiting. Everyone criticized the party for not holding a policy convention and for not having any policies. Now that the convention is being held, it's important to make it a success by drafting policies that will be winners with the Canadian public. Then the Conservatives will emerge with some momentum and maybe start showing some guts in the House of Commons, for a change. They've been propping the Liberals up and abstaining from budget votes, just so they can hold their bleeping policy convention so that people will finally know where they stand so that it won't be an issue anymore. The last thing the party needs is to look like a bunch of disorganized, redneck wingnuts on TV.

You know what the American political parties do with their conventions? They shove these contentious issues off to committees who consult everyone and draft the platform before the convention even begins, so that there aren't any embarrassing floor fights that are caught live on TV. But of course, even if the Conservatives had willingly gone ahead and done that, there would have been criticism anyway: by all the other, less-open political parties. It's a no-win situation. Draft policy before the convention, and Liberals could accuse Conservatives of stifling debate and not being an open party. But allow a full floor debate, and then the Liberals can use the quotes from all the biggest mouths at the convention and use them all in the next election, just to embarrass the party. See, this is what drives me nuts when I read quotes by Liberals about Conservative party affairs and policy fights. Guys, the Liberals have no business commenting on internal Conservative party affairs and should shut up, and stay out of it! We all know how democratic the Liberal party is, with their appointed candidates etcetera. Let the Conservatives run their own party!

I'm supposed to be out of politics but I can't let go of it, man. But I change my mind again: I'm glad I'm not going to Montreal to have to listen to same-sex marriage debates. Who cares.

THE LATE MICHAEL JACKSON

Well Jacko didn't show up today for his court appearance, and boy he really did it this time, the judge was fuming and threatening to arrest him, etc. etc. Anyway Jacko finally showed up in his pajamas, late. And the judge took pity on him and let him off. And so then Jacko's accuser took the stand for another day of testimony.

What a bizarre day. The only thing missing was the White Ford Bronco.

All I'll say is that Michael Jackson did nothing for himself--- and this was just a day or so after the defense team got the accuser's brother to admit to telling lies in previous trials! Jacko is his own worst enemy right now. If I were Tom Mesereau I'd keep him as far away from taking the stand as possible.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

DAN RATHER SIGNS OFF

... using the word COURAGE!!!!!

And courage to you too, Dan!
I definitely am not making this up.
People who know the TV news business are going to have lots to say about his signoff. Check out TVNewser for coverage of Dan's last day.

BLAKE JURY STILL AT IT; JACKO BREATHING EASIER

They have asked to read back some of the testimony. The details here, lifted from Court TV's Blake Jury Blog. Courtesy Court TV:

The jury has just requested a readback of Steve Restivo's testimony. Restivo is a co-owner of Vitello's, the restaurant where Blake and Bakley dined the night of the shooting. Restivo is also an actor who, incidentally, played "Count Vitello" in "The Princess Diaries." The readback will take place after lunch at 1:30 p.m. PT. In addition to Restivo's testimony, the jury also requested to rehear testimony from witnesses Andrew Percival and Rebecca Markham, restaurant patrons who happened to be outside having a smoke when Blake was supposed to have been running back to the restaurant. —Bryan Lavietes

So the readback would be happening now, as I speak.

This indicates to me that the jury is hung up over the issue of where Blake was when his wife Bonny Lee Bakley was killed: his excuse was that he went back into the restaurant. The jury wants to sort out what really happened here and try and make sense of the testimony, and once they do that they can maybe make a decision on whether Blake's guilty or not.

In the big Jackson trial, the defense team got that brother of the accuser to admit he told two different versions of his story. So Jacko's happier today. That Jacko trial continues, and in fact I read somewhere that it's pretty easy to get a seat for that thing- the Blake trial is a bigger draw because people want to be in there to see the verdict. Then again, maybe more people will show up to gawk once they haul Jay Leno and other people up there on the stand in Santa Maria.

BYE BYE DAN RATHER

Well, tonight's the night that Dan Rather finally gives up the anchor chair at the CBS Evening News, to be replaced by his temporary/substitute/why-now replacement, Bob Schieffer, who probably should have replaced Rather for real years ago.

And as is usually the case at CBS News they are giving their star reporter Rather a TV special to celebrate his career, just as they gave specials to Walter Cronkite, Mike Wallace, and countless other bigshot reporters. Are they putting it on against American Idol tonight? If so, it will be quite ratings challenged. After all, American Idol beat the President of the United States and his State of the Union Address.

I don't know about you but this sure looks like it's more of a good-riddance party to me. Rather's press the last couple of weeks has been just terrible. Ken Auletta wrote some piece in which he quoted a bunch of bigshot CBS News-type people who didn't have all that many
complimentary things to say about Rather, said they preferred to watch Peter Jennings(!). Rather went on Letterman last week to defend himself, again, about Memogate and try and spin that they found there was "no political bias". Yeah, and convince the folks at RatherBiased.com about that. Those folks helped expose Rather over the Memogate mess last fall and they must be having quite the party today. They're all having a big celebration for getting rid of Rather. Unlike the departure of Tom Brokaw, Rather's being carried off on a stretcher.

Come to think of it, though, this can't be a good day for RatherBiased.com after all. Hey, they got rid of Dan Rather. So their job is OVER, their website is FINISHED. What do these guys do with their website now? Give it back to the web domain people?! Maybe they can try to get rid of someone else. Maybe they can change their name to SchiefferBiased.com and try and get rid of him, too, but he's going to be gone in a few months anyway. Hey, why not, eh? Get rid of two guys in one year from the CBS Evening News.

The other thing is that I keep reading these newspaper accounts that keep referring to Rather's 24 years on TV as the longest continuous tenure for a news anchor at one network, but that's phony information. Peter Jennings has been anchoring on ABC since 1978, if you count the five years he spent co-anchoring from London on the triplecast with Frank Reynolds and Max Robinson. And that's not even counting that period in the 1960s when Jennings anchored the ABC Evening News, as it was then called, up against Cronkite and Huntley and Brinkley. So Jennings pretty much has Rather all beat in the tenure department. The fact that Jennings was a co-anchor is no excuse: everyone forgets that for a year or so in the mid-90s Rather co-anchored the CBS Evening News with Connie Chung. So give the award for tenure to Jennings already, darnet. And if you count all North America, then Lloyd Robertson gets the trophy: he's been on CTV News since 1976. And that doesn't even count the six years he spent anchoring the National. Wait, hold on: Peter Jennings anchored the CTV News in the 60s. So give the trophy back to Jennings again. Oh, who cares.

Anyway, that's my rant for the day about the evening news. Tune in for some history tonight, Dan Rather's exit.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

THE CONTENDER TAKES A BEATING

Well, the good news for NBC is that Law and Order: Trial By Jury helped the network win Friday night, so it looks like that show will stay on the schedule for a while.

But the bad news is that The Contender bombed on Monday. CBS put on a bunch of new shows and a fresh CSI Miami, and pounded Sly Stallone and crew right into third place with a 5 rating. In fact, it wasn't even the top show on NBC that night: Fear Factor got more viewers. The Contender even got beat by Supernanny on ABC! Now that is what I call embarrassing. Mark Burnett has a flop on his hands, folks.

Overall FOX won the night with American Idol. CBS finished second.

They should put me in the programming department over there at NBC, I can smell a hit, and a flop, when I see it.

UPDATE- Apparently in this article I pulled up, this Contender show will air Sundays at 8 now. When is this thing on, Wednesday or Sunday? If this is on Sundays at 8 it's FINISHED, because it'll get creamed by Bart Simpson.