Wednesday, August 31, 2005

WHO CARES ABOUT THEM SAINTS TODAY

Are you ready for some football? No.

People in the southern United States are usually huge football fans and would normally be looking forward to this weekend. This week the college football season kicks off, and a week later so does the NFL season. These are supposed to be fun times for people in states like Louisiana and Mississippi but who could really blame people for having different priorities at the moment.

In fact the situation in New Orleans is so bad that it's not likely that any sporting events are going to be played there at all, for months, while they try and rebuild the place.

Which leads to a big question. What the heck is going to happen to the New Orleans Saints?!?

Really, nobody cares about football down there right now, but the future of the Saints is going to be important for people from the area, in the long run. People in Louisiana are as mad about football as Canadians are mad about hockey, probably even more so. New Orleans is one of the biggest football towns in the United States. New Orleans has hosted probably more major championship football games, college and pro, than anywhere else in the United States- certainly as many as Miami and Pasadena. Much has been made about this year being the 20th anniversary of the famous Chicago Bears 15-1 Super Bowl team with Walter Payton, Jim McMahon and the Fridge and the rest of them. That was one of the many great NFL teams that wrapped up a Super Bowl title at the Superdome. New Orleans also hosts the Sugar Bowl as part of the BCS. There is a lot of football history in that city.

So a season without any football- college or pro- played in New Orleans at the Superdome is going to be strange and very sorrowful for all football fans. It's almost like having no baseball in New York, or no hockey in Toronto. Though I do think people in New Orleans probably have a real perspective on what is really important in life, after what they've gone through. Heck, Canada got through it when we had no hockey season, and we never had to concern ourselves with any floods. They won't care about football for a while down there. But eventually, they will care again.

What's sad for these fans is that the future of the New Orleans Saints franchise is now in question. The Saints are now a team without a city. They have no stadium to play in anywhere in New Orleans, and no way for anyone to see them play in New Orleans because the entire town's flooded. So it's obvious the team is going to be gone for the season, just like everyone else.

Right now the club has evacuated to San Antonio where they will be continuing to practice for the upcoming season. Their final pre-season game is tomorrow night in Oakland. As for places to play, the most logical place to go would seem to be Baton Rouge where the LSU Tigers play NCAA football in a huge stadium. LSU only uses the stadium on Saturdays so it would be free for the Saints to use Sundays. The NFL certainly would prefer Baton Rouge as they want this team to play as close to New Orleans and their fans as possible.

But owner Tom Benson had been threatening the city of New Orleans with demands for a new stadium before this season started. Their Superdome lease actually expires this year. In fact this franchise has been threatening to leave the city for years. They actually threatened to move to Gulfport, MS a few years ago, but that deal never happened. The Saints have loyal, passionate fans, who've stuck with this franchise through some really terrible seasons and lousy teams over the years. But they play in a small market in a city that had very little going for it economically to begin with, and now with this Katrina wipeout of New Orleans this could really be the end of the city as a major sports town, especially if a lot of people decide not to come back.

Rumors are now swirling that owner Tom Benson will simply transfer the team to San Antonio's Alamodome permanently and be done with it. It's also no secret that Los Angeles wants a team back, but San Antonio seems to want one more. Benson owns a bunch of car dealerships there, and San Antonio is mad about football.

I fear this could be the end of the NFL in New Orleans and in Louisiana, which will be yet another tragedy on top of tragedy for the people down there. Football is religion and a part of the culture down there, almost as much as Mardi Gras and the French Quarter. They need to have football around as part of the recovery process, whenever the recovery starts happening. At least after 9/11 happened the Yankees and the other sports teams were able to lift the spirits of New Yorkers and allow them to resume their normal lives.

But I don't know if life will ever get back to normal for the people from New Orleans.

NEW ORLEANS' NIGHTMARE

It has turned into a complete disaster in New Orleans and the situation is getting worse, not better. The hurricane may be over but the carnage and damage isn't.

At first it was thought the city was spared a catastrophe when the hurricane veered slightly east (and socked all of Mississippi as a result; Mississippi is also an incredible disaster area). But it turned out there was a break in one of the levees protecting New Orleans and water is flooding out of that levee and into the soup bowl that is the city. The city is slowly being flooded to death, with 80% of the city under waters as high as 20 ft. And the civic officials say it will soon be 100%.

Instead of wiping the city out all at once, the city is being wiped out slowly. New Orleans sits below sea level and the flood waters keep rising. It is really sad to watch.

And the situation within the city is deteriorating rapidly. People are sitting on the roofs of homes waiting to be rescued. The remaining residents are being told to evacuate the city and there is a plan in place to move the evacuees at the Superdome over to the Astrodome in Houston. Meanwhile there is mass looting in the streets, from supermarkets and stores. People are being caught on tape looting these stores. Civil order is breaking down. One police officer was shot by somebody (he's expected to live.) Basically the place is acting and looking like Baghdad, or more accurately, like a Hollywood disaster movie. And it's a tragedy.

About the only good news is that a ton of people were able to get out of town before the storm hit. Everyone knew this storm was going to hit, there was nonstop coverage from Saturday onward. The TV stations were warning everyone it was going to be Category 4 or 5 and to get out of town. So that's why the death toll isn't worse. But still, there are a lot of stories of death and destruction.

Reporters who've toughed it out through wars and other sad stories, people like Jeanne Meserve of CNN, are sobbing on the air because of what they are seeing down there. This storm has proven to be way too much for any of them to handle. They're having a difficult time emotionally, plus they are having a hard time getting their stories out because of all the damage and power outages. Guys like Anderson Cooper are sleeping in their vans. At least he still has a vehicle: I read that the big CNN "Hurricane One" van that they used to chase hurricanes all over America has been totalled. Also, Jeff Flock and the Hurricane Now webcast people basically were left stranded in New Orleans, and they can't get a stream out the last time I checked because of the mess Katrina made down there. Today they are reporting they finally got out of town and are back in Chicago.

From what I'm seeing from the New Orleans TV stations the place looks like a third-world country right now, like one of those places the tsunami hit or somewhere like that. That's where I'm getting my information, from New Orleans TV. It's odd because while the New Orleans TV stations are still broadcasting hurricane coverage, nobody in New Orleans can watch them. Nobody has any power, plus the transmitters were knocked out and in one case is completely under water. They are having to broadcast their coverage over radio stations and through streaming video on the Internet while camped out in places like Baton Rouge and Jackson, Mississippi. WDSU the other day was streaming/broadcasting a feed from WESH in Orlando, who were on the air just to give the exhausted WDSU reporters a break. Those reporters had to drive for nine hours all the way to Jackson, plus they've gotten no sleep for days because they had to be on the air.

Most of the Mississippi stations have managed to stay on the air: WLOX in Biloxi is still broadcasting, even though their building was damaged and the station was flooded.

People have remarked that the Internet coverage of this story has been incredible, that they are beating TV to this story bigtime with the streaming and the blogs covering the storm and so on. The cable networks are doing great but some of them, from what I gathered, have been showing talk show reruns and are even still talking about missing Natalee Holloway! Who cares about Natalee Holloway today. I gotta tell you, this story is separating the real TV journalists from the fraud artists. (At least Greta is covering the hurricane damage now, so don't blame her.) Broadcast coverage has been much worse from the main networks. It basically consists of their regular news programs (Brian Williams at the Superdome, Ted Koppel on Nightline) and that's it. I can't believe broadcast TV isn't covering this story more closely. They should be doing news specials on this in prime time because what is happening to New Orleans is way worse than what happened to New York on 9/11- and what happened in New York was pretty bad. This is a major disaster on the scale of the Tsunami. I am not kidding. They should be covering this story nonstop, these broadcast networks.

Anyway that is the situation at the moment. It's a really terrible situation that is getting worse and worse and worse as the levee continues to pour water into the city and floods the whole town. They're still trying to find a way to plug the hole some way but it is not working.

ET CANADA COMING

Well this has been in the works for a while- Global TV announced the other day they'll be having a Canadian version of Entertainment Tonight. Cheryl Hickey will be the Mary Hart of Canada; plus it sounds like they'll have a few others like Rick the Temp and other supposedly cool people (refugees from CTV, Toronto 1 and other entertainment shows).

Should give some real competition to Ben Mulroney and eTalk Daily over on CTV, which in my opinion has been nothing more than a big promo for their big hit Canadian Idol lately. They really need to dish more dirt and gossip about more celebrity divorces.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

WEEK 3 OF THE CBC LOCKOUT

Well it is now officially Week 3 of the CBC Lockout and as you can tell I have decided to add some blogs about the lockout to the side blogroll. I have a link now to CBC Unplugged which gives you plenty of lockout news plus it is a useful link to all the rebel broadcasts going on across the country at the moment. The latest news it has to report is that the union is going to meet with management tomorrow to try and get talks back on track. Good. Because this situation at the CBC is a JOKE.

A number of recent events may have something to do with this decision to get negotiations back on. For one thing, the rebel broadcasts have picked up steam. Andy Barrie is now officially back on the air in Toronto, broadcasting on CIUT from 6 to 8AM with a lockout edition of his show, and CBC broadcasters across Canada have launched rebel broadcasts on campus radio, with podcasts and blogs of their own across the country.

So we have a strange situation on our hands. We have the CBC broadcasters returning to the air in droves, except they aren't on the CBC. There are also rumors on the blog sites that some of these broadcasters are considering bolting entirely for other networks (CNN has been mentioned as one of them). On the surface, CBC management is getting killed. Their radio programming seems to consist of classical music CDs, TV News has been handed to the Brits, and sports broadcasts are a joke. Now their own workers are competing against them.

On the other hand, the CBC has shown itself capable of surviving just fine without their help. A union person was crowing on his blog about how big a disaster CBC Newsworld's coverage of Katrina was (they picked up the feed from BBC and from a local station in Mobile, Alabama, instead). But I don't really see how a fully-staffed CBC from their air-conditioned studios in Toronto, giving a useless "Canadian perspective" on this American storm, could have done any better than CNN or these other places.

The other thing is that ratings for CFL football have gone up now that there's no announcers! So really, no one misses the workers at all now, not even the football fans. In short, the CBC seems to be getting on just fine on autopilot.

The real problem the staff members have is that nobody is missing them. Many people don't watch or listen to them anyway to begin with, but even the CBC diehards aren't missing them either, now that they are doing rebel radio shows from the picket line. I mean, people are still tuning into them, so why should anyone miss them, or for that matter, pay them taxpayers' money? The big argument that "the CBC needs more funding so we can put on quality programming" is going downhill fast. Why pay tax money to overpaid CBC broadcasters when you can get these same CBCers for free, broadcasting on campus radio? It's the typical-Canadian, "why-should-we-pay-for-something-we-should-get-for-nothing" mentality. The anti-CBC people have been handed a GIFT. They're ranting that there should be more CUTS now. They're on a tear, these people: guys like Peter Worthington ranting in the paper about how irrelevant and left-wing the CBC is all the time.

Personally, while these rebel broadcasts may be fun to do and makes CBC management look foolish right now, I think these rebels eventually need to completely get off the air. All over the country. That way, people will really miss them and scream at the CBC to get them back on the air. This way, though, people are just going to rant that these people should stay on campus radio and that there should be even more draconian CBC cuts.

Anyway I think both sides in this labour dispute, union and management, are pretty nervous about this situation and quickly realizing this labour dispute is doing nothing for both sides. Management should be deeply worried about the competition from its own locked-out broadcasters, while the broadcasters don't have a leg to stand on against the CBC managers and the CBC critics, who don't miss them one bit. No wonder they're going to start talking again. This thing has to END. FAST.

DEVASTATION FROM KATRINA

The story from CNN on the devastation and the mess left by Katrina, responsible for 68 deaths and mass flooding in New Orleans and also in Mississippi. Based on the TV coverage the other day it looked like Mississippi was getting hit the hardest. I was watching the TV newscasts from Mississippi yesterday, since the New Orleans stations had totally evacuated, and it really sounded bad in the southern part of the state. The coasts got hammered badly. In fact WLOX in Biloxi got flooded so it had to quit streaming its coverage.

New Orleans was spared a total catastrophe but as it stands now 80% of the city is flooded. The Superdome roof got ripped, and survivors are running out of food to eat. And word is that the flood waters are still rising so this is not over yet. Now I'm watching coverage of people getting rescued from WDSU-TV, whose news team is still broadcasting to the world out of WAPT-TV Channel 16 in Jackson, Mississippi at the moment.

Also got word that this B-list celebrity Katrina is planning a visit to Toronto, too. Big rainstorm tomorrow, says Harold Hosein on Citytv.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

KATRINA: MASSIVE

Lost Remote has the best set of hurricane live streaming links anywhere I've seen.

Word is that WWL-TV is evacuating to Baton Rouge at midnight CST while the staff at WDSU are already evacuated and are now broadcasting to the world from Jackson, Mississippi's Channel 16.

Latest forecast has this storm right on top on New Orleans, still possibly Category 5.
Yikes.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

KATRINA READY TO SOCK NEW ORLEANS

Could be Cat. 5 by the time it hits. The live streaming is on at WWL-TV Channel 4.

UPDATE: It's Category 5 right now; the mayor told everyone to evacuate. More live streaming from WDSU and from Hurricane Now. Coverage from CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC News and CBS News.

CANADA READY TO VETO SATELLITE RADIO

Yes, you read it right. Canada is going back to the Stone Age in no time.

Apparently the Cabinet is ready to step in and overturn the CRTC decision on satellite radio. Why? Because a bunch of Francophone artistes are upset that there aren't enough French-language channels to offer their own content to Francophones for big royalties. Plus, apparently conventional broadcasters are upset at the prospect of a little competition.

So that's what it's all about, eh? Our government wants our broadcasting system set up in such a way so that all the interest groups are accomodated. All these people who have their hand in the till have to be satisfied before any new business gets off the ground in this country. Pathetic. I'm convinced these Francophones just want to snare their piece of the pie. They want to cash in, and since they can't do it in a free market they have to get the Government to step in and re-regulate everyone so that they get all their easy money. It's part of the deal for all these broadcasting companies in Canada to have to donate a set portion of their funds to Canadian production and the Canadian music industry. Nobody gets to keep all the money for themselves in Canada, it's all regulated.

The really sad thing is that XM, for one, had already gotten started promoting themselves and they were going to be selling these satellite radios all over the country at Christmas time. A bunch of new radio jobs in this country will get shoved off to the side. Plus, all these sports fans will get their access to satellite radio sports channels delayed. And the already long-suffering Howard Stern fans are going to be delayed access to Howard Stern on Sirius --- and there are people who want to prevent him from coming into the country on satellite, too. Howard Stern, Opie and Anthony and these other cats are too much for the timid interest groups of Canada to handle. I think they want to get the government to step in and stop that programming, too. These political correctos!

And what is lost in the equation is the fact that at the end of the day this is a private enterprise we are talking about here. Satellite radio is selling a product. It's not like regular radio which is on the mass public airwaves and is free for everyone; satellite radio has actual paying customers, just like the movie theatres. It should be up to consumers to determine with their own wallets what the content ought to be on these satellite radio channels. If there aren't enough French channels, well, then that leaves it open to some company to start their own French-only satellite service and make a ton of money.

But none of these people are smart enough to think about that. Instead these groups want the Government of Canada to shove their ideas for programming down the consumers' throats whether they like it or not. This is radio-by-interest-group. That's what it is. The listeners have no say at all.

Makes me SICK. Canada, a free country: my foot.

Friday, August 26, 2005

APPRENTICE GETTING READY TO GO

Since this blog continues to be a self-proclaimed Apprentice fan blog site (even though I sort of disowned the show earlier this year), I thought I'd give this latest link to the actual official site. The promos for the two Apprentice shows are running nonstop on NBC. I believe the apprentice contestants have also been picked and announced- at least that's the case for Martha Stewart. Be sure to check out her site to see who gets their big shot at being on TV.

The big question is of course what will be the big tag line for Martha Stewart? She can't use "you're fired!", so they say. From what I read in the tabloids, she is driving her producers crazy by coming up with a different tag line every week. Well, that really will shake things up on TV if true. It would also be really original.

I have a feeling the Martha Stewart Apprentice show is going to get big ratings on NBC. They need to freshen up the franchise somehow and this may do the trick. What's next after this, a Donny Deutsch Apprentice? Oh yeah, he has a show on CNBC already that nobody watches. What about a Mark Cuban Apprentice? Wait, I forgot, Mark Cuban had a show already and Donald Trump cleaned his clock.

In other big Apprentice news, Bradford Cohen, Esq., famed counsel to Apprentice contestants, recently got the hotheaded Chris from Apprentice 3 off from disorderly conduct charges. So that's more free publicity for him and his law firm in sunny (?) (!) Florida.

Anyway that's the Apprentice news for now.

KATRINA GETTING STRONGER

I dunno about you but I'm hooked on watching hurricane coverage on TV and the Internet. I was watching WSVN and CBS4 over the Internet with their nonstop streaming internet coverage- although WSVN was down for a bit. So I was watching reporters getting soaked covering the hurricane. At least it beats covering crime and murders. TV stations throughout Hurricane Alley live for this stuff. Hurricanes are more exciting to cover and you know for sure the audience is tuning in, because, well, nothing else is on. It's all hurricanes and weather reports on TV.

Well, Katrina made a big mess in south Florida. It brought down a big overpass and flooded a lot of places and knocked out a lot of power, and it also killed a few people. It made a mess at the place meant to host the MTV Music Video Awards this weekend. Wonderful.

It even took out a TV station. WSVN-TV found itself in the eye of the hurricane and was carrying live hurricane coverage, only to be knocked right off the air. The main power went shortly after 8PM, and the generator failed as well! It took a little while before they were able to get back on the air, shortly after. And this was just a Category 1 storm that did this.

Apparently, though, the Dolphins game is still a go for Saturday. They have their priorities in Florida. They're all a bunch of football addicts.

Now Katrina's back over the warm water and now up to Category 2, and getting ready to make a run at the north of Florida to the same place that got hit by Hurricane Dennis earlier this year. So be ready to tune into hurricane coverage on CNN this weekend.

Maybe Anderson Cooper will actually show up, now, to rescue CNN's live hurricane coverage. Vacation's over, man. Back to work.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

KATRINA THE HURRICANE

There's live coverage of Katrina hitting Miami on WSVN and also on CBS4. Hurricane Now also is covering this thing.

Is Anderson Cooper covering this storm too? I dunno why he'd bother, it's only Category 1.

UPDATE: Apparently not. Guess Katrina ain't good enough for him. So it's official: she's a flop as a hurricane. Katrina might as well go back to being a tropical storm.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

TV'S SUMMER OF NON-VIEWERSHIP

It hasn't been just the theatres that have been getting hit. People have also been turned off by what's been on the TV.

This Robert Bianco article in USA Today says it all. In the past, summer would be a time when network TV would launch innovative, breakout hits like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and Survivor. That has not been the case this year.

Basically there's been only one big hit this summer: Dancing With the Stars. Which I thought wasn't such a great show, but apparently a lot of housewives tuned in so it got good ratings. And they kept up the hype by creating a scandal out of Kelly Monaco's upset victory. Now they're planning a much hyped rematch for this fall between champ Kelly Monaco and the robbed, ripped-off loser, John O'Hurley.

The rest of the shows have been met with yawns from the viewing public. So You Think You Can Dance faded, Rock Star INXS has totally tanked, and we all know what happened to The Law Firm and The Princes of Malibu. The article blames cable TV for a lot of the saturation as they have been showing reality TV reruns all summer. I notice A&E, which built its reputation on running quality programming and high-brow stuff for rich people, is showing the life and times of the Gottis (Growing Up Gotti). They also have some really inspired reality show about life at an airport. Now really, who wants to watch a boring show about life at an airport? Airports are usually a pain in the neck for most people. Who wants to see that?! So cable TV really isn't looking much different from network TV at the moment. No wonder TV keeps on losing viewers. I sure hope these TV people have gotten the message that the viewing public is fed up with these ripoff reality shows, but it seems as if those viewers who want good TV on the air have very little clout with programming executives anywhere, not even with the gang at A&E.

I should point out that the other problem with these summer reality shows is that they aren't the Grade-A reality shows that usually air, like Amazing Race or American Idol or The Bachelor. No, this was the Grade-B garbage they put on, the Hiltons and the Average Joes. The Grade-A stuff is reserved for the regular season- not the summer, rerun, junk programming season. They're airing the promos for the Grade-A stuff- Survivor: Guatemala, the Apprentice with the Donald and Martha Stewart, etc.- as we speak.

And they are airing the promos for a ton of new dramas and comedies for this fall as well, some of which look really promising. The fall season is fast approaching, thank God, and that is good news for the many viewers who have been running to the video store in disgust to rent DVDs and video games this summer.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

PAT ROBERTSON PUTS FOOT IN IT

Now usually I like Pat Robertson. As far as televangelist types go he's OK, certainly much better than Jim and Tammy Faye, and Jimmy Swaggart, and these other charlatans.

But Robertson needs to recant aften calling for the assassination of Venezuelan President/socialist Hugo Chavez.

Now I am totally in favor of people in Venezuela getting rid of Chavez. I think the guy is a tyrant. But I'm not in favor of people killing him. That's over the line and over the top and I think Robertson really crossed the line by calling for Chavez to be "taken out", presumably by his buddy the President of the United States. That's something the US shouldn't be doing. You don't fight jihad with jihad, although in this case, this guy Chavez is a Socialist. I think it's really bad policy to go assassinate world leaders just because you don't happen to like them.

Besides, it's un-Christian behavior. Where in the Bible does it say that it's OK to kill people? I believe it's right there, written in the Ten Commandments: "thou shalt not kill." Even a secular heathen like me knows that, I watched that movie with Charlton Heston playing Moses! Killing people is a sure-fire way not to get to heaven. Pat Robertson ought to know that, he's supposed to be preaching the Gospel! I guess Robertson forgot about the Bible and got a little carried away by politics again. That's what happens when Christians get into politics: they forget about religion and acquire all these bad ideas.

Instead of going on TV thumping the Bible, Pat Robertson needs to actually read it for a change.

A FEW ADDITIONS OVER ON THE SIDE

I've added a few interesting things over on the list of links.

I added a couple of China links. Western grad Chris Myrick runs the AsiaPundit site in addition to his own personal blog. I've also added the blog of former CNNer Rebecca MacKinnon, who used to be a correspondent in China and Japan. If you're interested in China news and what's really going on over in Asia, visit these interesting sites.

I added Michael Hainsworth's site (which is now a blog, I see) to that list of TV news people on the side. It's not a promotional site like these ones you see from these other TV News people; there's actual effort put into it. Be sure to read about his visit to New York to see David Letterman.

(Hey, I just thought of an idea for these locked-out CBCers: get with the program and start a blog! Everyone else is doing it, and it'll give you something to do in your spare time when you aren't standing on a picket line or launching pirate radio broadcasts.)

I added FLTV, which is a blog about the interesting South Florida TV news scene. Miami has one of the most competitive TV news markets in the United States and many news people have gone on to fame and fortune from this market. (Canadians John Roberts and Jillian Barberie both spent time on TV in Miami.) If you want to watch TV news from south Florida you can visit the WSVN website and tune in online. WSVN is notorious for blood-and-guts crime and tabloid news and has had a huge influence on the way news is covered on TV in the United States. I also added some additional links to some other TV stations that stream their newscasts online, like WDAZ in Devil's Lake, a station a lot of people in Manitoba are able to watch.

That's it. I'm going to try and quit ranting about the media scene in the next few days and start talking about real news and maybe even sports. For a change. I'm done talking about locked-out broadcast news organizations, it's getting too boring.

Monday, August 22, 2005

BLOGGING THE CBC LOCKOUT AGAIN

Well, here I am again blogging on the CBC lockout, now officially into Week 2. I dunno why I blog about this, maybe because now that the NHL lockout is settled I need to find some other interesting labour dispute to cover.

Anyway, the latest news is that CBC-TV is now mounting a newscast! A real, actual, short newscast, CBC News Now, anchored presumably by management with the barest of bare-bones technical support at 10PM. It's right before the BBC news. Frankly, I don't know why they bother. The stories are all right, but the whole production looks like something J-schoolers would attempt in school. It's BAD. They should just give up and leave the hour to the BBC, because it's pathetic to watch. Almost as pathetic as that CFL broadcast the other night with no announcers.

Speaking of the BBC, the reporters there are reportedly upset that they are being used as strikebreakers by CBC management and are threatening a protest of their own. Stay tuned.

The union has already inflicted massive damage to the entire CBC operation. The newscasts on TV are a joke, and the whole radio operation has pretty much been decimated. CTV News took big ads out in the paper urging people to tune into their newscasts at 10PM on Newsnet and at 11PM on the main network, so they are just killing the CBC right now.

The latest big news is that the picketing members of the union are supposed to be starting up rebel radio broadcasts to be carried on campus radio stations across the country. The locked-out Calgary CBC reporters are planning to do a 30-minute broadcast on the University of Calgary campus radio, featuring Kathleen Petty and a number of other local CBC personalities. This should give the "official" CBC broadcasts a run for their money, since those seem to consist of spinning records at the moment. Others are threatening the same thing elsewhere.

It's obvious to me these locked-out workers have picked up a lot of ideas from the NHL lockout. This rebel-radio idea reeks of the Original Stars Hockey League and the other fly-by-night operations from that work stoppage. When you think about it, it shows how sad a state journalism has fallen in this country when you have these CBC journalists reduced to doing shows on campus radio. Heck, I remember when I was doing campus radio, and while it was fun to do back in its day, campus radio is definitely low-rent. You do NOT want to be doing campus radio when you're a big, serious journalist!

This lockout has soured me on broadcast journalism in Canada. I know the union is fighting on principle against the proliferation of all these lousy contract positions that management wants and so on, which I think is a lousy deal for the workers. But I don't see how they'll be able to get much improvement in conditions at the CBC after this is over. And keep in mind that the CBC is supposed to be one of the better places to work in broadcasting in this country. The pay for broadcasters is supposed to be the best in Canada! If it's a mess over at the CBC then life must be truly terrible everywhere else in Canada, with low wages and newscasts being kicked off the air (Toronto 1).

Anyway we'll see what happens with these rebel broadcasts. I hear they may attempt podcasts and other fancy stuff.

BIG TIME AGENTS

I am reading a recent book about baseball agents, License to Deal, by Jerry Crasnick, about these two guys out in California, Matt Sosnick and Paul Cobbe, who decided to become agents in major league baseball. Interesting stuff.

One of the biggest challenges those agents faced was getting clients. That's basically the biggest roadblock to becoming an agent. You have to convince a client to take you on and hope that the guy doesn't defect to these big agencies ( The Scott Boras Corporation, Beverly Hills Sports Council etc.) that are always out there stealing clients from people. You hear the frustrations from these guys trying to build long term relationships with these players, only to see these big agents come in and sweep them away.

The more I read about the agenting business and the more I watch Super Agent, about football agents, the more you realize this is a difficult, cutthroat business with no morals. The smaller agents all have a big uphill fight on their hands, period, trying to convince their clients that their claims of better personal service are more than a line of bull. You see it on Super Agent all the time. "Why should I hire you if you haven't got any number 1 draft picks?!" They all have to go the extra mile to prove they can provide superior service and more personal attention, but these athletes don't care. For them it's "show me the money." And convincing them you will deliver all that money is a big chore if you don't have any clients or even very few clients.

The hard truth is that sometimes these big agents don't care about all the clients. They may have lots of contacts, but who is to say they're going to use those contacts to help you. If you're a smaller agent with a big star for a client I guarantee you that agent will work his tail off for that one client. With these bigger agents that client might be treated like another number. That's why I think it's important for these potential clients to make sure they get good personal service, no matter what size agency they go with. That's very important.

One thing that Super Agent shows to some extent on TV is what a real grind it is to sign up talent. Maybe players don't hold reality TV series on a regular basis to hire agents. But the agents truly do have to fight off eight or nine others for top talent, so that part of the competition for Shaun Cody is realistic.

What they do not show on TV are the ways these agents try to get around this. What they all have to do is try to sign prospects up as soon as possible, while they are teenagers, usually. These baseball agents have to be prepared to go to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, anywhere they can find talent and sign them up. Hockey agents have to do the same thing, going to these midget games looking for 15-year-old phenoms they can represent. Then they have to meet the parents and stuff. The sport of hockey is set up in a similar fashion to baseball with a minor league farm system and so on, so I imagine it's a similar recruitment process for these hockey agents. I suppose it is similar to what you see on Super Agent, with parents grilling these agents and so on.

Anyway I'm finding this License to Deal book to be interesting reading, I'm learning a lot about the agenting business reading it. Being a sports agent is great, but it's a rough business.

UPDATE: By the way tonight's Super Agent is one I'm really enjoying; they're showing the agents handling a mock negotiation and how these agents are handling really tough discussions, and showing their various styles. Interesting.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

BOB COSTAS: HERO

I wasn't going to talk about Bob Costas' big walkout on Larry King Live, but since AP did a story on it and even NealeNews picked it up, I figured I might as well rant about it, too. I've been reading the reactions by the usual newsroom-type people over on TVSpy and Medialine, and lots of people are cheering Costas on for having the balls to walk out of there last week.

Bob, as some of you know, is the new and permanent substitute-host of Larry King Live these days, in addition to all the sports stuff he usually does for NBC, HBO and everywhere else. What got him riled up was that the subject matter for his scheduled hosting appearance was the Natalee Holloway missing-in-Aruba story. That story has been dominating cable TV. Greta Van Susteren has been doing stories on this case all the time on her show over at Fox News, and she has been absolutely cleaning up. All the soccer moms with kids are tuning in and worried about their kids going to Aruba on their vacations, and so Fox News immediately hopped on the story with their usual overkill and everyone went bananas. Everyone else has to keep up with Greta, so they can blunt her big ratings.

The problem is that this boring missing-persons case has been done to death. It was important for about a week, but to keep doing this is just overkill. It's no longer news and the subject matter is gory and really depressing, and they're making Aruba look like a dangerous, terrible place, which it is not. It says a lot when a news junkie like myself says "I am not interested in this story, this is pointless." At least when all the news stations reported on gun violence and murders in Toronto, it was news. The mayor and community leaders were compelled to get involved to stop this wave of violence. That's why it was important to cover it, because the community was being ravaged. But this Aruba story is all sensationalism.

Well, it's been reported that Bob Costas told the producers at LKL he wasn't going to do the show, he didn't like the subject matter. LKL said okay,we'll have you back some other time. They went ahead with a substitute for the substitute, and had their whole sleazy show on the Aruba missing persons case.

This reminds me of another sports guy, Keith Olbermann, over at MSNBC during his first stint at that channel. He had to do the sleazy Monica Lewinsky scandal story every night on his show and he was completely fed up. It soured him on doing news and he promptly gave up the news business in disgust and went back to doing sports, over at Fox.

He eventually returned, though, and I heard that as part of the deal Olbermann was given assurances that his new MSNBC show wouldn't have to do any more of the sleaze stories that his old show was stuck with. I guess Olbermann had no choice in the old days, he had no clout. He was just this ex-sports guy they just hired away from ESPN.

Costas, however, is a giant in the business. Among other things, he hosted Later over on NBC, interviewing guests from a wide range of backgrounds. He's hosted the OLYMPIC GAMES. He associates his good name and reputation with quality productions. So he has enough clout to be able to walk off a set in disgust if a story is sleazy enough. Anyway, lots of news people love the fact that he stood up to CNN and walked out. Costas is being hailed as a hero and a man of journalistic integrity, a champion of news values.

It's really odd when it's the sports guys who are the big champions of hard news values these days. This whole Costas incident sort of reminds me of why I soured on news: I hated doing the crime stories and non-news news. I had to cover lots of garbage and made a nuisance of myself. But when I did sports I actually was able to do long sit-down interviews with interesting people for TV and maintained a shred of my own dignity. Maybe I'm less of a tabloid artist than I think I am. Deep down I have the same approach to the news and broadcasting business that Costas and Olbermann have: take a populist approach, but don't lower myself to the ocean depths like some other people in the business.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

CFL IS AIRING WITH NO COMMENTATORS ON CBC TONIGHT

Yecch, this is brutal.

CBC, end this labour dispute fast, this is SAD.

THE RANTS ABOUT THE CBC CONTINUE

This is a big night for the CBC. We get to see how they telecast a CFL game without their usual people. They might do what the NHL did in Quebec on French TV a few years back: go with no announcers. I watched those games on Radio-Canada and actually a lot of folks loved it, thought it was great they were all on strike and that they could watch sports with no announcers.

It takes just one labour disruption for the critics of the CBC to come out of the woodwork. Even the National Citizen's Coalition got into the act calling for its privatization, and the Montreal Gazette took the channel to task for its programming and bloated resources. It's all politics with these people. They're all going overboard and going on a tear, even talking about how irrelevant all the entertainment programming is, even though it's just the Canadian Media Guild, not ACTRA, that's on the picket line.

I personally think they're going a little overboard right now. But the relevance of the CBC and its connection to the public is a serious issue right now. Look at the TV ratings all year and you'll see what I mean; CTV has been totally cleaning up. You want relevance? Here in Toronto people line up across the street from the CBC, at the Toronto Convention Centre, to get in to see Canadian Idol live. Now that's a show that people care about here. My question is: why isn't CBC carrying this show? Or a show like it? Maybe they've gotten out of the business of showing hit programming.

Lots of Canadians truly don't care anymore about the programming on the CBC these days. They used to have great programming, but not anymore. The only CBC TV entertainment series that people get excited about are the British imports like Coronation Street and Doctor Who. Really, apart from Rick Mercer, what else do they have? Jimmy Macdonald? Red Green? The fact is that the most relevant shows that CBC has right now are The National, Hockey Night in Canada, and the CFL. And that's what is getting hit at the moment. Nobody really cares about the rest of the programming because they're too busy watching CTV, Global, Citytv, MuchMusic and TSN.

(Personally, I think that Hockey Night in Canada will go on even if the lockout lasts until hockey season. They'll just pick up the American NHL broadcasts and show those feeds from Fox Sports Net or wherever on Saturdays. Unless there's some union rule forbidding it or something. But I'm sure they'll find a way to show something.)

The question is more about what will happen to the CBC now that their most relevant programs are gone. Will anyone care? The scary thing is that these viewers may not care that they are missing the CBC news. And people are going on a rant against the news, now, too. This editorial writer at the Brandon Sun is daring to call the CBC "arrogant". He berates the old-fashioned CBC approach to newsgathering. Read for yourself a pretty interesting article/indictment of the CBC.

You know, I have to admit, he's got a point. But I won't say that everyone at the CBC is arrogant- I've met their sports people and they actually seem down to earth. When they're actually working.

(Which is rarely, it seems. Would help matters a lot if the sports they covered actually held games.)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

BIG BROTHER 6

It's Thursday. Usually I post about Reality TV on Thursdays, because it's always a big Reality TV night on TV.

Tonight I have this simple question: why is Big Brother still on!?!

Everyone thinks this show is a boring waste of airspace. Everyone hates this show. So why's it still on CBS? Yes, I know who Julie Chen's married to, but still, can't Les Moonves find some other show for her to host so we can be rid of all these houseguests for good?! This is dreck. Yecch.

IT'S OFFICIAL: OLN GETS THE NHL

And in a related development comes news of yet another rule change: because they're now on the Outdoor Life Network, as part of the deal the NHL will now play all of its games outdoors.

Wish I was kidding, but the NHL really is going to be on OLN, a.k.a. the Lance Armstrong network. NOBODY WATCHES OLN, it gets terrible ratings! The ratings for NHL games are going to be awful this year, because the games are on OLN! How are they going to grow this sport on OLN!? More telling is the fact that ESPN had a chance to match this deal and they said no. I gotta say, even though this was their choice, this is still a sad day for ESPN, one of the few US networks to actually treat the NHL with any respect. The hockey guys there must be miserable.

The OLN signing is all the proof you need that hockey is in total disgrace with the public in the United States. It's a big step backward for the league, because the other major sports are all on big-name channels like ESPN or TNT. Now you see why the season-long lockout by the league was such a counterproductive, awful idea.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

CBC: GETTING TOO MANY IDEAS FROM THE NHL

I don't know how much more of Jimmy Macdonald that I can take at 6:30 PM. What a mess at the CBC. Although, quite frankly, the BBC News at 6PM and 10PM is fine by me.

And that's the big fear out there for the CBC. People might actually not miss the CBC broadcasters and wonder why they're flushing millions of dollars down the drain on funding for journalists' salaries, when all they really tune in for is the Antiques Roadshow. Lots of people think the current strike-ridden CBC - with its BBC News, nonstop Antiques Roadshow, and Jimmy Macdonald reruns - is actually an improvement! Read this rant from the Montreal Gazette on the lockout.

But the sports...

You know, this CBC dispute reminds me too much of the NHL Lockout. Now we're starting to hear about the people complaining about their own union. Just like what happened with the NHLPA with all their malcontents.

Who's doing the muttering? Why, who else.

DON CHERRY.

And this METRO article is saying he'll even cross picket lines, but he's a member of the UNION. Isn't this a lockout, isn't he locked out? I don't think he gets a choice in the matter, does he? Cherry even says he didn't even know he was a member of his own union, because they did nothing to help him save his job when he was in trouble. Some union this is, folks, if Cherry's right; talk about ineffective. Mind you, I dunno why Cherry would want to side with management after all his fights with the CBC brass. Makes no sense to me. If I were Don Cherry, I'd sit at home and wait this thing out, because he owes nothing to nobody.

This CBC lockout could last a long time, folks, the way things are going. Wonder what the NHL thinks of this.

SUN SETS ON TORONTO 1

Toronto 1 is no more, folks, I read in the Globe that the folks at my favorite newspaper the Toronto Sun are going to rebrand the place. It will soon be known as SUN-TV.

Expect more entertainment and sports shows, none of this Toronto Tonight stuff. Based on what we see in the paper every day, I also expect them to put on plenty of cop shows and stuff featuring bikini models and Sunshine Girls.

And we were just getting used to watching Lance Chilton, Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien over on, uh, A-Channel. Aren't you sick of all these changes? But I understand why they'd change the name at Toronto 1. I'd guess Quebecor wanted to distance itself from the total train wreck that was Toronto 1, and are going for a completely new image so they could gain some viewers beyond the usual friends and relatives who tuned in to watch Sarika Sehgal. (Come to think of it, where is she now? Has she gotten a new job yet?)

Next up for rebranding is the CBC, soon to be known as the BBC.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

SAD TIMES FOR THE MEDIA

It's been a miserable time for members of the news media these days. Look at what's happened over the past couple of weeks.

First, Peter Jennings dies. Then the CBC falls victim to a labour war, missing out on the big GG-is-a-separatist story. My favorite story was from the Globe, reporting on Adrienne Arsenault in the Gaza Strip who, instead of covering the big story there, held up a sign saying "Locked Out by CBC Management".

And now tonight, some new, terrible worm is wreaking havoc at CNN and disrupting a lot of its programs and network schedule. Tune into CNN and they'll tell you all about it and how to protect yourself. But shows aren't starting on time over there, it's been a mess. And I hear there's several other places affected too, not just CNN; ABC News and a few other places have to deal with this stuff. The supposed genius who started this virus ought to be thrown in jail.

What can I say, it is a mess in the news media these days. Life is sad for everyone.

CBC LOCKOUT TURNS CANADA INTO GREAT BRITAIN, RUINS ALL THE SPORTS

Hockey Night in Canada could be affected now, so they say. Great.

Don't worry, they have contingency plans, they say. I wonder what they are. They've already replaced the CBC news with the BBC news. So I expect they'll just replace hockey with BBC Sports on Saturday nights and we'll get Lawn Bowling Night in England. Part of the plot to turn Canada into a British country again.

Speaking of which: can you believe our new, separatist(?) G.G. Michaelle Jean?!? I wonder what Her Majesty the Queen thinks of this! Bourque has been having a COW over this story. Well, I guess the people of Canada like this appointment. Paul Martin's party has a 14-point lead, so I suppose the people of Canada must be completely impressed by the appointment of a Governor-General who may think that breaking the country up might be a good idea.

I am not amused.

Monday, August 15, 2005

SHAUN CODY: JUST HIRE AN AGENT ALREADY

I think the show Super Agent is a decent show by reality TV standards, and as a football fan I like to watch it to see what it takes for these agents to make it, but I'm kind of fed up with the client, Shaun Cody.

Shaun Cody is basing his decisions on which agent to eliminate based on non-factors such as what shade of color the car is that they're donating to some charity, or based on whether they're good at PlayStation football, and whether they're good at talking over the heads of four other agents at a dinner table and so on. These are really stupid reasons to eliminate a candidate and in fact, I think that holding a reality series in order to hire an agent is simply no way to go. Shaun Cody should just figure out what qualities he wants in an agent and find the right one, and be done with these also-rans who never had any clients or first-round selections.

Why the heck doesn't he just go to Drew Rosenhaus or somebody and be done with it already? Shaun Cody's not going to get a good agent unless he starts measuring whether they can get him the best deal possible as high up in the draft as possible.

The other thing is that I think it's hilarious that these agents are playing up how Shaun Cody is going in the first round, yet I heard that Cody actually went in round 2. So either these agents botched the job right up or sold Cody a complete line of bull in order to sign him.

This Harold guy on the show- come on, this guy is so full of s#!t, the anti-Jerry Maguire. This guy is all talk and hot air. No personal service, out for himself, willing to steal clients and sabotage people in order to win. I can't believe he's still in the running to be an agent for Cody, or even that he has so many clients already. But I guess he's good at recruiting clients and selling people a line of BS.

Anyway, that's my Super Agent rant.

CHAOS ON THE AIR AT THE CBC

Here's a link to a story on what's happening over at the CBC. Tonight at 6PM we got the BBC news and some spoof news show featuring some anchor in black and white ranting about rock and roll.

I actually don't miss the CBC today because, well, it's still on!!! I actually think the BBC news at 6PM is an improvement: better stories. And I rarely watch the CBC news these days, I usually tune into other newscasts and entertainment shows. There are plenty of options these days and lots of alternatives, including the Internet, so it's easy for people to live without the CBC. But everyone at the CBC is convinced that Canada can't live without them. I think it's really the CBC diehards who can't live without them.

I may have a different opinion by Saturday night, though.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP DOWN TO THE WIRE

I DUNNO about you.

But I happen to think it makes for a much better, more exciting golf tournament when Tiger Woods isn't blowing the entire field away. Like, for example, what we are seeing this week at the PGAs.

Maybe they need to make some more rule changes that keep Tiger from dominating all the major golf tournaments. Hey, they do this in other sports to make things more exciting. You can't have these major golf tournaments turned into the equivalents of the Super Bowl, what with these blowouts and cheering sections for one man and so on. (Hee hee hee.)

Tiger is done and in the clubhouse, but even in an off-week he's still got a chance... at -2.

CBC LOCKOUT MONDAY?

The CBC and its journalists and broadcasters have yet to come to an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement and it looks like they could be on the picket line Monday. So be ready to tune into reruns and lots of BBC news, and be ready for your favorite CFL broadcasts to be disrupted unless they make a deal.

Here's a report from the CBC on what may happen at the CBC. If it happens, well, you know why.

Hopefully this will be my last post on the news media for a while.

UPDATE: It's official, it's now past midnight in the East and they announced that the CBC is definitely locked out. Be ready to hear management types and other unfamiliar people on the CBC news.

Friday, August 12, 2005

KEITH OLBERMANN: I QUIT

In the wake of Peter Jennings' death from lung cancer has been a flurry of attention on lung cancer and smoking in general. People are now getting more motivated than ever to quit smoking for good and one of them is Keith Olbermann of MSNBC.

This week on his show, Keith has been going on a crusade against smoking. A long-time pipe and cigar smoker himself, Keith had a lesion removed from his mouth and he was convinced it was cancer, all due to smoking. (Pipe smoking is actually pretty notorious for causing mouth cancers.)

As it turned out, it was benign. Thank God. So he's on a big crusade now, telling people to quit smoking and talking about all this on his blog.

His crusade has not been without controversy. He went on his rant on Monday, grossing people out on the air with his stories about blood coming out of his mouth and so on, hoping it would scare people into quitting smoking.

But producer Rick Kaplan went nuts over this. He went on a tirade against Olbermann after the show, from all accounts, calling him out of control and even telling him he didn't care whether he showed up for work the next day. Speculation is that Kaplan was offended because he was a friend of Peter Jennings from ABC days, and also because the big debut of Rita Cosby's show was coming up on MSNBC so he was furious that Olbermann might drive viewers away from that show.

I think Kaplan should just calm down and drink some decaf coffee, and let it go. Really, Olbermann is Olbermann and his whole reputation is based on being independent and opinionated, and he needs some room to operate. Olbermann's always been a bit of a loose cannon, which is what has made him so great on TV. But it drives management crazy. It's why Olbermann has been tossed out of so many stations and networks over the years. He used to be at ESPN, and he went on Craig Kilborn's show one time and trashed Bristol, Connecticut, where ESPN is located, on the air. So needless to say, that was the end of him there. But Keith had good reason to hate Bristol: life sucked there. He wanted to live in a big city, plus Keith was single and in Bristol there were no girls (very important consideration). The only good thing about Bristol is that ESPN is there.

Anyway, that's the history behind the Kaplan-Keith blowup.

Olbermann showed up for work the next day. He had to, he's the highest rated show on MSNBC. So now he has something else to talk about: cancer. Anyway I hope this works. I hope people tune into the Olbermann show and get motivated to quit smoking.

I remember one guy I met, a good guy, too. And a heavy cigarette smoker. He was not only a big smoker, but a big apologist for the tobacco industry, too. He used to import cigarettes by the truckload and used to quote these statistics about how cigarette smoking cured arthritis and all these other diseases. At his funeral people will tell stories about how much he loved smoking cigarettes. That will be all they talk about. Smoking is basically his life.

And his death will be pretty soon if he doesn't quit smoking. I don't want to see this guy dying of lung cancer, I don't want to have to read his obituary in the paper! I hope someone gets through to him and gets him to quit, scaring him if necessary. But I don't know if he can live without these bleeping smokes. He really needs to go on "the patch" or something, or use Nicorettes, or go see the hypnotists and get them to hypnotize him into quitting smoking. Maybe he should eat jelly beans like Ronald Reagan did. Whatever works. I want this guy to stick around this planet a few years longer.

My own family is on a bit of an anti-smoking crusade because we've lost enough relatives due to cigarettes and smoking and the various diseases it's responsible for. We had a beloved relative who also loved to smoke cigarettes, and smoking was his life, too. And he died at an early age, and it was smoking that killed him. So all I gotta say is QUIT SMOKING CIGARETTES.

That's it!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

THE MOVIES: NO RELIEF IN SIGHT

I have been checking out the movie ads on Letterman tonight and all I have to say is there is no relief in sight at the movie theatres for the theatre owners OR the patrons. The studios must be all finished releasing their quality productions for the year, based on what's coming soon to a theatre near you.

This week, it's Rob Schneider in Deuce Bigelow: European Gigolo, the sequel to the first one. And coming next week, another surefire lame-o movie: The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

Isn't it bad when you know a movie is a turkey just by hearing the title? Really, whose idea was this?!

What a choice: see this stuff or see The Dukes of Hazzard. You're better off going to a baseball or football game, because there's NOTHING at the theatres.

(UPDATE: The 40-Year-Old Virgin might not be so bad after all: Roeper and Ebert gave it two thumbs up. I'm not kidding, I watched their show.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

"THE LAW FIRM": DONE

Don't bother tuning in the latest episode of The Law Firm on NBC Thursday night: the legal reality show has been CANCELLED. Instead they're going to show reruns of SCRUBS.

The six remaining episodes of this David E. Kelley effort will air on little-watched American cable network Bravo. Not that anyone cares who wins on this show anymore, anyway.

Seems the ratings for this waste of channel space were in the same territory as that great classic The Princes of Malibu. It lasted exactly as long: two episodes. The LA Times said the show dropped 24% in viewership from its crummy numbers the opening week. By any standard this ranks as one of the greatest flops in the history of television, outdone only by such rare one-episode disasters as You're In the Picture, Turn On, and The Will.

Maybe they'll quit programming reality TV and show us some real TV now, finally, with real scripts and with real actors instead of these wannabes who want out of their day jobs. Like the lawyers on this show.

WATCHED THE BIG JENNINGS SPECIAL TONIGHT ON ABC

I hope ABC releases their Peter Jennings tribute special on DVD sometime soon and donates all the proceeds to fighting cancer, the special was exceptionally well done. I really liked the video of the foreign stories Jennings did.

I dunno if I could have survived at World News Tonight. Jennings not only carved up people's copy and had a huge say on what stories aired on his newscasts, but he HATED the O.J. Simpson story, and also the Michael Jackson story. They showed video of Jennings having to cover this stuff, apparently in disgust, and people like Cynthia McFadden were talking about how he fought against the coverage of Simpson and Jacko, but he had to cover it. Quite frankly, though, those were my type of stories! If I worked at ABC News I would likely have been consigned in disgrace to 20/20 or somewhere like that. 20/20 covered these trials ad nauseum- isn't that where Martin Bashir is these days? And I'm more comfortable doing the longer pieces with the longer interviews, too, so if I were at ABC News I'd definitely be at 20/20 or PrimeTime Live.

Not that I wouldn't have liked doing foreign news or these other big stories given the chance.
It's just that I would also want to see these big trials covered. I guess my news philosophy is pretty populistic. People are interested in seeing these big celebrities in trouble and so am I.

I wouldn't cut it at NIGHTLINE, either: Ted Koppel is another one of these people who really hates those types of stories. I'm just a big tabloid artist.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

THE NEWS GOES ON, SORT OF

Peter Jennings has been gone for just over 24 hours and already the news business is going straight to heck without him.

I was watching the Canadian newscasts last night, all of them, and they all did their best tributes to Jennings: good, well-done stories with old news clips and like. And then it was over. And it was quickly on to the really important, relevant news of the day:

(1) Todd Bertuzzi is reinstated by the NHL,
(2) Wayne Gretzky is named head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes!

These TV news people obviously have not noticed that it's still baseball season. These two items should have been buried at the back of the newscasts. But they were practically the top of the news in Canada yesterday.

They could try reporting a third story while they're at it:

(3) Disgusted TV news people in Canada seek green cards so they don't have to cover hockey stories anymore!

This isn't so much a slow news day as it is a slow news COUNTRY. Is there so little news happening in Canada that this is the best they can do all the time, cover an irrelevant winter sport that shut down its season for a year and hosed all of its fans?

I guess so, eh!?!

THE LAST WORD ON PETER JENNINGS

Well, I watched all the tribute shows the other day on TV regarding Peter Jennings and I thought ABC News did a great job in recounting Jennings' life and career. I really liked watching all the old footage from the 1960s, from the beginning of Jennings' career up here in Canada.

What really struck me was when they dredged up an old anchor read Jennings did, presumably for CTV, where he reported on the FLQ. And what struck me was that it seemed odd and rather funny for Jennings to report on the FLQ, because it just wasn't him. That's the kind of thing reserved for some big CBC journalist or someone like that. But Jennings wasn't a typical Canadian journalist. Instead he was a world-class journalist who happened to be Canadian.

His stories, his beat, was the foreign beat: the Middle East, mainly, during much of the 1970s. While most of the other prominent Canadian journalists were covering Levesque and Trudeau and all the rest of it, Jennings was interviewing world leaders, political activists and Ayatollahs. His demo reel would have on it standups in war zones and at the fall of the Berlin Wall, and his memorable reportage from the Munich Olympic Games, among other places.

And by performing so admirably on the world beat, Jennings rose to the top of the TV news business and, with his contemporaries Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather, dominated a great era of TV news coverage of important world events: from the fall of Communism and the Berlin Wall, the end of the Cold War, the end of apartheid in South Africa, to the horrible terrorist attacks in the USA and the subsequent War on Terror and combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. In doing such a capable job, Peter Jennings gave all Canadian journalists a good name. Canadian journalists who wanted to see the rest of the world on someone else's ticket were able to come to America and work for American news organizations and TV stations, in large part because Peter Jennings paved the way for it to happen. News organizations recognized that Canadians could look at American stories with a fresh and possibly more neutral perspective, and not just on matters regarding American policies in general. A fresh pair of eyes might be able to pick up the unique quirks of the American experience and culture, something Jennings was able to do thoughout his career.

Jennings was always very proud of his roots and never forgot that he was a Canadian. What is also obvious to me is that Jennings also loved the United States and loved covering American news. His obvious on-air emotion covering the September 11th tragedy was real, and no doubt that tragedy was why he finally decided to seek out and become a US citizen not long ago. He got started at ABC in the 1960s covering civil rights struggles in the deep South, and was never out of place covering American politics. I remember the many times watching Peter Jennings team up with the legendary David Brinkley at political conventions and on election night coverage during the 1980s and 1990s. I also remember Jennings' stamina for some of the unforgettable stories of this new century: the marathon election nights of 2000 and 2004, the nonstop coverage of September 11th, and most memorable of all, the amazing coverage of the arrival of the Year 2000 around the world. Jennings was on the air for 25 hours straight that day and the coverage was amazing, anchoring one of the most memorable productions ABC ever produced.

My condolences to Jennings' family and everyone at ABC News. Peter Jennings will be sorely missed.

I truly think an era has ended. The three titans of the network news from the 1980s, Brokaw, Rather and Jennings, are all gone. Now it's up to network news to figure out a new direction for themselves and for how to cover the news. Clearly, I think the future is in the Internet and in podcasting, and delivering video to your cell phones and instant-messaging devices. TV news is going to have to do much more than simply remain on television, and I expect we will see much more of a "team" structure in network news and much less focus on the anchorman at 6:30PM. The other thing now is that it's really the morning news anchors like Katie Couric and Diane Sawyer that are the big stars of network TV news. And frankly it's the morning shows, Today and Good Morning America, that rake in the dough these days. Problem is that they tend to focus on a lot of softer stories and lifestyle-type pieces. Their idea of a big interview is The Runaway Bride, or Amber Frey, or someone like that.

There will be a lot of pressure on the evening newscasts to go this route and there are some people who say they should go with younger, hip anchors, just to get a younger audience. But I think crass programming tactics will not work. What they need to do is get back to delivering an exciting newscast every night, newscasts where the "big interview" is with some world leader, like back in the old days, back when the "big get" was the Ayatollah or Yasser Arafat or Anwar Sadat, or someone like that. They have to get away from the boring domestic lifestyle stories and the emotional-type stuff, and get back to covering real news in a vigorous manner.These newscasts shouldn't be doing so many stories about new drugs you can take for your arthritis. They should be sending their correspondents across the world, every chance they get. The reason people tuned into the network news in the old days was to watch the big stories, and that's what they ought to do again. World news is interesting, and exciting, and relevant.

And they also need total credibility in the anchor chair. NBC and CBS recognized the need for this when they handed the anchor desk to Brian Williams and Bob Schieffer, and both have proven to be inspired choices. ABC would do the same if they prodded Charles Gibson to take the anchor chair. He's got the range of hard-news experience and visibility that ABC needs at the moment, and has done a capable job filling in at the anchor desk the last several months. Gibson is about the only person left at ABC News who could possibly survive in the anchor chair, taking over from the late, great Peter Jennings.

UPDATE: The planned ABC tribute to Peter Jennings will finally air Wednesday night at 8PM, and it will be two hours.

Monday, August 08, 2005

JENNINGS TRIBUTE PLANS

In addition to a full tribute on World News Tonight, ABC will air a special on Peter Jennings tomorrow at 8PM. Also, Nightline tonight will feature former anchors Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw with Ted Koppel.

Rather and Brokaw will also be on Larry King Live on CNN. CNN has been doing a lot of tributes to Jennings, in large part because so many of the people there- Anderson Cooper, Aaron Brown, Jeff Greenfield etcetera- used to work with Jennings at ABC.

Canadian TV ought to provide a lot of tributes and I'll be very interested in seeing what CTV does at 11PM, and also what Kevin Newman has to say on Global TV at 6:30, since he used to be at ABC News himself.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

PETER JENNINGS DIES, AGE 67

Breaking news: Peter Jennings has died. Charles Gibson just announced it on ABC.

More to come from ABC News and from CTV, where he was the anchor for the CTV National News many years ago. TVNewser will have plenty of reaction as well.

End of an era for TV news. Much more to come.

THE LATEST ON PETER JENNINGS' HEALTH

AS a blogger I feel obliged to report rumors. Just know that these are rumors, nothing official yet, but they are widespread across the Internet and that's why I'm bringing them up.

From what I gather Peter Jennings is in really bad shape from lung cancer. The GLOBE tabloid out this week said that he has four to six weeks to live, but just today a flurry of rumors are flying on the Internet that it could be literally any day or even any time.

TVSPY had some unusually wild, possibly bogus speculation on their boards earlier today that ABC News had alerted affiliates to be ready for Jennings death. This was all in response to a NEWSBLUES item to that effect. That rumor was later denied by a lot of people and I noticed they took the threads down over there. MEDIALINE also has been doing a lot of speculating. Other sources like TVNewser are tight-lipped yet acknowledging the gravity of the situation (ie. "pray for Peter Jennings" type comments at the top of the page).

What we do know, officially, for a fact, is that Peter Jennings has been off the air since April, just recently turned 67, but has continued to work through the illness and even showed up at the office a few times. And we also know that the GLOBE tabloid has come out with this report that he has very little time left.

Anyway, the rumors mean one thing to me: something could be up regarding Jennings, though maybe not today. Anyway, just thought I'd pass along this information about all the speculation. Maybe they all read the GLOBE article and that gave them all their reason to go nuts over Jennings' health. But I doubt it.

Friday, August 05, 2005

THE DUKES OPEN, GET PELTED BY TOMATOES

It's official. Rotten Tomatoes rates the Dukes of Hazzard at only 18% fresh (rotten). To compare, Wedding Crashers got something like 75% and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory got around 81. This dud can also count on at least "one thumb down", from Roger Ebert, on his show. You could see this coming a mile away, folks.

I don't like Jessica Simpson's rendition of These Boots are Made for Walkin', either. I liked Nancy Sinatra's version better. Anyway, who cares about them Dukes.

(UPDATE: It's both thumbs down: Richard Roeper calls this one of the worst movies of the year. Way to go, again, Hollywood.)

20/20

I have nothing to say about Robert Novak opening his big mouth and saying "bulls%!t" on the air on CNN the other day, you can find out for yourself at TVNewser. All I'll say is it takes a lot of guts to swear on live TV with the US Congress threatening to throw the book at everyone over the slightest indecency. I would've never done that on the air. What an embarrassment.

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

I've talked about how I've gone back and forth on whether to forget sports and politics and just pursue TV news. The issue is the vast range in quality of these gigs. Many of these news positions are simply God-awful as far as most everyone in the business is concerned, and therefore sports and politics look mighty good by comparison. But on the flip side, some of these news gigs are really good.

If I decide I want to pursue it I know now where I want to wash up. I want to be a reporter for 20/20. Good gig.

Tonight they had some guy interviewing all these hip professionals in an upscale bar on what their favorite vodka was, and then they'd do taste tests and it would turn out they had no clue what they were talking about, they were all wasting their money. Now that's the kind of fun story I'd have a blast doing: going into bars doing vodka taste tests. And they also interview lots of celebrities on that show, too.

Beats getting shot in Iraq (someone was killed there this week), or getting locked up in jail for refusing to disclose your sources (Judith Miller), or covering criminal activity in Toronto or anywhere else. That's what they were back to covering tonight on Global and, uh, CityNews. I guess the big plane crash story is over, so the real fun is over for these folks in the local newsrooms and it's back to covering the usual out-of-control gun crime in this city. Couldn't they get some more harrowing-escape stories from all these plane crash survivors?! That's what 20/20 would do! We've had nothing but violent crime stories all over the news all week, coverage of shootings. I think tonight someone got killed. I wasn't paying much attention.

These reporters must be envious of the stories they do over at 20/20, getting to sit in bars all night instead of interviewing these bystanders and cops on the street. These reporters probably even got to drink vodka after they were done shooting.

And you have John Stossel going on his anti-political correctness rampages every week with "Give me a Break!" This is my kind of news show, even though it really doesn't have much hard news in it these days. It's not all that investigative like 60 Minutes or aimed at soccer moms like Dateline, or filled with true-crime like 48 Hours. It's more like lite info-tainment for yuppies. But it's still a good show, 20/20.

I hereby declare Elizabeth Vargas to be a babe.

NHL NUTTINESS CONTINUES: KARIYA TO NASHVILLE

So far it appears the big winners and major movers and shakers in the free agency market are the small market and non-playoff teams. They've driven most of the deals, with the notable exception of Philadelphia.

Today Paul Kariya leaves to join the Nashville Predators- 2-year deal. He was rumored to be considering going to Edmonton and that Kevin Lowe was about to pull off another one of his big deals, but this is good news for the Predators, who needed to keep up with the rest of the league. Last time the NHL played, the Predators barely beat out the Oilers to get into the playoffs.

Nicolai Khabibulin also moves, leaving the Tampa Bay Lightning for the Chicago Blackhawks. So the Cup-winning Lightning now have a big hole in net. And the Leafs finally signed somebody: Jason Allison. Woo hoo!

It's still not over, Eric Lindros still out there along with a few other big names.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

CARDINALS GIVE KMOX THE BOOT

This has been rumored for a while and frankly it's a disgrace that it's happened. KMOX 1120, the 50,000 watt blowtorch that carries St. Louis Cardinal games to most of the US states and half of Canada, has lost the rights to KTRS 550. KMOX carried Cardinals games for FIFTY YEARS.

So now you won't be able to hear Cardinal games clear as a bell. Anyway, I should be okay in Toronto if 1470 from Peoria continues to carry Cardinal games, but this is not good news. Apparently KMOX lowballed the Cardinals and the Cardinals couldn't care less about being on a 50,000 watt station that fans could listen to. So that's what happened. What really sucks is it's an eight-year deal, so forget about hearing Cardinal games on KMOX any time soon. Mind you, the broadcasts have sucked ever since Jack Buck died. He is sorely missed.

Who knows, maybe KMOX will be motivated to get the St. Louis Blues games back again, and everyone will be happy. The Blues bolted a few years ago, so nobody can hear them, either. Anyway, this is terrible for the once-great KMOX sports department, former home of legends Harry Caray, Jack Buck, Dan Kelly, and Bob Costas. That sports department right now is left covering, what, Missouri football and basketball?

What a joke. They need to get the Blues games back.

CHUM CHANGES: "CITYPULSE" IS NO MORE

Who knew that CityTV would rid itself of CityPulse, the name of their iconic nightly newscast with Gord and Anne and the rest of them. Now they're just going to call it CityNews.

Who made this decision, some consultant?! It wasn't Moses Znaimer, that's for sure, because he quit long ago. Someone should go to Speaker's Corner and complain about this.

CityPulse was CityPulse and to mess with a name like that is not good, people. Just because CFTO News changed its name from CFTO to CTV doesn't mean it should be the same over at City. Just you wait, some smart competitor will grab the "Pulse" name and Citytv will never be able to use it again. (Maybe the CHUM people want to get into Montreal, the CTV station has been using the "Pulse" name there for years.)

Also big changes with the final, sad demise of VRLand, now incorporated into A-Channel country. Wonder what people in Barrie think of this, they must be celebrating. They never liked being referred to as VRLand, from what I heard. Must be nice to be part of, ahem, Alberta now. (Didn't the A in A-Channel stand for Alberta? Guess it stands for nothing.) "A-Channel" territory now runs all the way from Ottawa to Windsor, with an outpost in Victoria. And Citytv has taken over in the former A-Channel cities of Calgary and Edmonton and Winnipeg. Those viewers must be tuning in and going "what the H is this?! These darned Easterners, ruining our TV!"

Anyway, this is good news. It's now officially safe to move to Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg now, because you'll be able to watch Citytv and their hip videographers. But it is kind of sad to see the Citytv name, a name that is so completely identified with its Toronto station, turned into some sort of national franchise or network.

The next logical move for CHUM ought to be to expand their empire. I expect the next place they'd want to go is to Quebec, since everyone else is there. Also high on the list of places to go ought to be Saskatchewan. They're everywhere else in Western Canada, so they have to be there. Except there's one problem: urban life doesn't exist in Saskatchewan! Certainly not the way it exists in Alberta. They couldn't get away with calling any station in Saskatchewan "Citytv", because that would be a joke. These people would have a cow over Ed the Sock and Fashion Television, and the rest of the racy stuff on City. It's all farmers and football fans in Saskatchewan. Haven't you seen Corner Gas? That's basically what life is like there. Besides, I should know, I lived there.

NHL FREE AGENCY CONTINUES

This free agency free-for-all in the NHL may be fun for the dedicated fans to watch but I sure hope we don't see this every year, and we probably won't anyway. But it is fun to see. It says a lot for the NHL when the off-season is more interesting than the season. Especially last season.

Today Scott Niedermayer, who was yet another of these players supposed to be considering going to the Toronto Maple Leafs (so the local media conned the fans into thinking) has made up his mind and gone to the Mighty Ducks. He'll play alongside brother Rob.

Meanwhile the Philadelphia Flyers are looking for a place to send Jeremy Roenick to, now that they stole Peter Forsberg from the Avalanche. That signing put them over the salary cap, so they have to get rid of someone. All in all the Flyers have loaded up with free agent veterans. They clearly are trying to get themselves in a position to win the Cup and I think they have. It wouldn't take much for the Flyers to get over the hump after coming so close last time. The risk with taking on veterans is that they may get injured, and some people think these guys they got are big and slow. But who knows.

And fans in Toronto are furious with the Maple Leafs. Every year at free-agent time they see all these deals being done and how the Leafs are supposedly out-witted by the other teams all the time, and they can't understand it. They can't understand why all these players, who keep saying they love Toronto, would go somewhere else. Well, I think it's all about money. It was before and it still is, except now there's a salary cap and the Leafs are too close to the ceiling to be able to move much or sign players. And frankly I don't see what getting a bunch of old free-agents will do for the Leafs anyway. Leaf fans think it's a disaster to miss out on these old dudes, but really the Leafs need to get younger, not older. And I like their farm system prospects a lot, but they're not ready yet. The Leafs have to ice a much younger team, period.

The Flyers, on the other hand, clearly are gambling to win the Cup. They figure it is now or never, and they're gambling on the vets with Cup rings. I think what they need is for the Tampa Bay Lightning to lose some players to free agency, because otherwise the Lightning are winning the Cup again. And emulating the New York Rangers is never the way to go. That's what they're comparing this to. The Flyers are acting like the New York Rangers. But with a salary cap. Boy, were they ready and organized for this free agency. Same with the Edmonton Oilers, who grabbed Michael Peca the other day, too, in addition to Chris Pronger.

But still, we're getting all this whining in the media about the Leafs doing nothing. Everyone in town is complaining. Well, maybe it all will work out in the end and they'll get Eric Lindros. Then the Leafs fans will celebrate their impending Stanley Cup victory. And then Lindros will get a concussion again and have to retire. Eric Lindros is not the player he used to be, and a big help he was to the crummy Rangers.

Another issue is what becomes of Tie Domi. Already the Leafs have given up veterans Gary Roberts and Joe Nieuwendyk to Florida. Domi is believed to be next to go.

By the way Sidney Crosby is on Leno tonight, over on NBC and, uh, A-Channel. I find it really hard to call that New VR station A-Channel. Aren't you sick of the local TV stations changing their names all the time? Yecch.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

WANT TO BE GOVERNOR-GENERAL? JOIN THE CBC

You know, it's sad for me to say this, but the first thought I had when I heard who the new GG was to think: "thank God it isn't Joe Clark!!!!"

And to think that joker was supposed to be one of us. Anyway, another journo gets a political job/appointment. What's next, Peter Mansbridge to the Senate?

NHL IN FULL REPENTANCE MODE

It's amusing watching the NHL kiss up to the fans in the wake of the year-long debacle of a non-season they just had.

Among other things, they are cutting prices all over the place. Last week, even the Toronto Maple Leafs cut prices to games. It now costs $35 bucks for the cheapest seats in the Air Canada Centre. Overall, they're cutting prices 5%. I guess they need to keep up with the Buffalo Sabres. I heard the cheap seats at Sabres games are something like $10 bucks. If that's the case, Toronto fans are better off going to Buffalo, even with these cheaper Leaf seats. I read that they're bragging now that 43% of the Leaf tickets now cost less than $68 dollars! Compare that to the Blue Jays where the vast majority of tickets are under $68 dollars! In fact, you can get nosebleed seats for six people for a grand total of $66 dollars at the prices the Blue Jays are offering- and there are plenty of those! You're also far better off paying for tickets to Argo games, or even Raptors games (and Raptor tickets can be pricey). Leaf ticket prices are still absolutely ridiculous by pro sports standards. Yet they're going to sell out the season, even though the fans were just screwed over for a whole year. Gullible fools.

The other big thing that happened last week was the NHLPA's sacking of Bob Goodenow. Word has leaked out now that Goodenow was forced out, so the NHLPA automatically moves up in my book. They realize their stupid lockout did nothing for the fans or the sport.

This league is also heavily promoting all its rule changes and all the rest of it now, and how competitive the league will be. Free agency came into effect on August 1st and already you see teams like Edmonton stealing away Chris Pronger from the Blues, and teams like Pittsburgh and Florida are all over the place signing players. I guess this is good. We'll maybe have a competitive league next year where anyone could win the Cup. Just like in the NFL. Problem is you need a scorecard to follow all the player moves. This is likely to turn off casual fans.

Okay NHL, clearly you are out to please the fans and are exceedingly sorry for the havoc of last season. At least you learned some lessons, unlike baseball, which emerged with no salary cap and with a bunch of players on steroids, lying to Congress about whether or not they used them. SO NHL, okay. YOU'RE FORGIVEN.

...but not enough to buy any tickets for games for a while yet. You guys still need a long stay in the doghouse. Just to make a point that there are consequeces to cancelling an entire season and Stanley Cup.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

EVERYONE WALKED AWAY FROM THE PLANE CRASH

I think it's amazing, if the reports are true, that everyone got out of that Air France A340 plane alive. And there were over 300 people on board that flight. It's INCREDIBLE that everyone got out given the pictures we are seeing of the plane all up in smoke.

It's also amazing that they were allowing that plane to land in such horrible weather conditions. Frankly the town was getting blasted by a massive thunderstorm at the time and there was a Red Alert situation at the airport itself. There's going to be a big investigation I am sure.

Like I say, it's a MIRACLE everyone got out alive.

PLANE CRASHES AT PEARSON

There is a massive thunderstorm hitting Toronto and that may have been what caused a plane crash at Pearson. What appears to be an Air France aircraft (not sure if it's a 747 or an Airbus-latest reports are that it is an Airbus 340 with 200 passengers on board) went off the runway at Pearson and the word on the radio is that black smoke is billowing from the middle of the aircraft. It's ditched south of the 401.

Latest word now is that the whole plane is now on fire. I hope everyone got out but I am really worried that we have really bad news on our hands here.

Coverage:
680 News
Pulse24
CNN

MARK BURNETT'S SHOW ROCK STAR INXS IS A FLOP

I read in the WSJ that Mark Burnett's latest show Rock Star INXS, which I consider to be a ripoff of American Idol, is flopping. Good.

The show is getting killed in its CBS time slot and CBS is thinking of moving it. For the record, this is not Burnett's first flop show. The Contender did poorly on NBC, even though it wasn't all that bad a show. It could have been better, but I understand that people in the boxing world actually had a lot of good things to say about that series and it may get a second chance on cable TV. A show that didn't fare well at all was The Casino on FOX- I guess because it was too realistic and didn't have enough backstabbings or people being told they were fired. Frankly, I think the article nails it when it talked about how there's an oversaturation of reality shows on TV. The problem is that just when you think the public is finally fed up with the entire genre, they make a hit out of American Idol or Dancing With the Stars, or So You Think You Can Dance. So it encourages these network fools to show more reality junk. Thank you very much. Hopefully, though, if enough of these shows flop these executives will get the message and start programming cop shows and the like again.

I really am sick of seeing reality TV shows. It seems to be the only type of program that Global TV airs- or maybe it only seems that way. They run basically every show Mark Burnett produces, including Rock Star INXS. Plus they also run Fear Factor and Average Joe, among other dreck. And their sister station CH is responsible for bringing into Canadian homes that other great CBS reality snoozefest, the Big Brother series. It's gotten to the point where I don't want to see ANY new reality shows, because they're sure to be crap. Whenever I watch some sporting event on ABC I always see some promo for some new reality show that those Disney types want to shove down the throats of Americans, and I start groaning "oh no, not again." Yet another complete waste of television real estate. They're better off showing Mickey Mouse cartoons, or something. The extreme-makeover/Supernanny/hookup reality shows on ABC are just awful, a waste of time.

I'm not even looking forward to that Martha Stewart "Apprentice" show they are planning. Maybe it will work, but I really think you'd have to be crazy to work for Martha Stewart. Anyway, enough about reality TV.