Monday, October 31, 2005

RIDER NATION IN SHOCK

Well all fans of the Saskatchewan Roughriders have to be shaking their heads in disbelief over the charges of aggravated sexual assault levelled at Trevis Smith.

And today comes word that the Riders knew he was HIV-positive for a full year, but they claim they were told they couldn't make this knowledge public. Great. Anyway I don't care so much about his HIV status. I care about these charges. This is horrible. If he did this crime he deserves to go to jail for a long period of time.

And Rider fans are livid. I tune in to the talk shows from Saskatchewan from time to time and people there are ready to hang general manager Roy Shivers and head coach Danny Barrett over this season's debacle. Everyone wants these two fired. They keep on harping about thirty years of losing football, conveniently forgetting they won the Grey Cup in 1989. Still, that's one Grey Cup in what, thirty years? That's terrible! The Riders haven't had a first-place finish since 1976, either, and have played only one home playoff game (which they lost, in 1988, to BC in a complete blowout). They've blown two playoff games on missed kicks including the one in BC last year. It's been thirty years of total mediocrity for the playing customers who travel miles to Regina for the games. Then they sit there and fry in the sunshine, they drink their beer, see the team lose again, and that's their excuse to go nuts on the radio, calling John Lynch's postgame show to complain all the time on CKRM.

The reason Rider fans are so nuts is because there is nothing else to do in Saskatchewan. There is no NHL team to follow, so they waste their time going nuts over the 'Riders. The local media gives this team saturation coverage, so everyone knows everyone on the team. You would think it's a great atmosphere, to play in one of the few places in Canada where people go nuts over football games, but for this group of cowards in Regina it's actually a lot of pressure. Rider players feel they're under the gun to perform like nowhere else in the Canadian Football League. At least in Winnipeg and Hamilton they've won the occasional Grey Cup, so the fans there sort of lay off of them, but in Saskatchewan they're known to pelt your house with eggs and dump manure on your front lawn if you screw up.

The 8 and 9 'Riders will be going on the road in the playoffs again and before this week unfolded the players thought that might be a good thing, to get away from these miserable fans. Lucky for them that Ottawa lost on the weekend, because they might have gone into this week's game with BC fighting for their playoff lives and with this huge scandal hovering over them. Instead, it's a complete nothing game, and the Riders have to be going "thank God" after this week of distractions. Because with this unbelievable Trevis Smith incident, the players are never going to hear the end of it this week.

And they'll never hear the end of it in the playoffs either. What momentum they have- the little of it left- is shot. I'm convinced this is the end for Shivers and Barrett. This has sealed their doom. They will need to go all the way to the Grey Cup and win it, just to keep their jobs. At least the good news is that they have a couple more weeks to polish up their resumes and make phone calls before they are fired. Maybe the Arena League will take them.

The Riders are in a SHAMBLES.

Friday, October 28, 2005

CIA LEAK CASE INDICTMENT

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby resigned as Chief of Staff to VP Dick Cheney after being indicted in the CIA leak case. Story from CBS News. From what I hear Karl Rove is not out of the woods yet, either.

What fun, eh? Political life has got to be for the dogs. Who would you rather be today, Karl Rove or Jon Stewart? Proves my point. At least Stewart isn't being investigated.

That sound you hear is coming from frightened political staffers in D.C., running out of town to get away from their jobs. Who would blame them? Political life is like a Monopoly game gone bad in the USA. Go into politics, and go directly to jail.

MASS FIRING: "GO HOME"

Here's a story on that big Trump mass firing on the Apprentice last night.

I tuned into Imus in the Morning and in between talk of possible resignations over this spy leak case they were all laughing over last night's show. In particular they loved that scene of the four firees scrunched together in the back seat of the cab at the end of the show. That had them all laughing their heads off. I also went to Television Without Pity and the forums over there were all going nuts over the closing cab ride scene as well. The fans of the show were impressed.

Of course you know, it's all downhill for Trump now. How could he possibly top this? By firing the whole rest of the cast? Maybe he'll go on a mass hiring. Who knows. As I said earlier: what a show.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

WILDEST FREAKING APPRENTICE SHOW EVER TONIGHT

WEST COAST viewers, this is a SPOILER ALERT. I just watched tonight's APPRENTICE SHOW and have big news to report. And if you are out West, be sure to tune into the APPRENTICE tonight at 9PM Pacific Time. This show is not to be missed.

So here goes. REMEMBER: SPOILER ALERT.



They decided to mix up both of the teams and one of them lost by the biggest margin ever on tonight's show... EVER.

Trump hit the roof. The Capital Edge team increased sales of sporting goods at Dick's Sporting Goods about 70% while the losing Excel team with their baseball promotion dropped sales a whopping 34%. So a furious Trump not only reamed out everyone in the boardroom (including losing PM Josh), Trump didn't even allow Josh to pick the people to bring in with him (a sure sign that Josh was doomed) and went ahead on his own and picked Mark, Jennifer and James to face the music along with him for their role in their team's humiliating defeat.

After he was done letting them all yell at each other in a wild boardroom, TRUMP finally turns to them all and says:
"You're fired, all 4 of you!!! LEAVE!!"

And they all crawl in the cab and we see all four of them in the cab, silent.

Greatest. Boardroom. Ever. This is why we watch the show, to see the Donald and the rest of these uptights in the boardroom, blowing their tops. (Bill Rancic was also in there tonight letting them have it and losing sight of where he came from.)

I know there will be some critics who will say "who cares about a mass firing", but I thought this was great. Just think how everyone else will react upstairs when they realize these four are not coming back. This show is back to being the great show it used to be.

Four people fired on one night. WHAT A SHOW.

HARRIET MIERS WITHDRAWS

Well the troubled Supeme Court nomination of Harriet Miers went up in smoke today.

I'm not surprised, you had both conservatives and big liberals up at arms about this nomination for weeks. Senators were requesting all kinds of documents from the White House about all kinds of sensitive information about this woman for the coming confirmation hearings. When even Peggy Noonan rants and raves about this nomination and trashes her qualifications, you knew it was in a heap of trouble.

A lot of people are saying it was the religious right that did this nomination in, but you didn't see any moderates rushing in to save her, largely because she was unqualified! Let's face it, she was White House Counsel, never a judge. She wasn't a judge on a federal court! We have no idea what her rulings would be. That's why she wasn't fit for the Supreme Court, because she has no experience on the bench. I say you need to sit on the bench for a period of time before being named to the Supreme Court, so you have a record of rulings you can show to the Senate Judiciary Committee. But she didn't even have that. Instead it looked like it was George W. Bush appointing one of his cronies to the Supreme Court, one of his hacks. It was sort of a nose-thumbing at everyone who had qualifications. It looked like a patronage appointment. This appointment reeked of something typical of Canada. Not the way to go.

What I'm worried about now is that the religious right might try and get some wacko appointed to the Supreme Court; someone with an agenda. That's the last thing this Supreme Court needs, these power-mad religious right people trying to put people on the bench who'll legislate morality from the Court. I don't want to see anyone legislating from the bench in a conservative or liberal direction. I want to see people up there committed to interpreting the laws and respecting the constitution. Period!

It's also the last thing Bush needs to do at this stage, appoint some doctrinaire, ideological nut. It's bound to incite a heap of opposition from the Democrats and all these senators, and simply create more trouble for a White House that is already having enough problems. There are supposed to be indictments any day now over the spy leak investigations and speculation is Karl Rove could be one of the people indicted, though I heard a couple of people say he could escape charges. Still, the vultures in the press are circling the White House right now.

And the lefties are having a cow over that 2000th person who got killed in Iraq, and over those recent bomb blasts in Baghdad that almost got the whole press corps killed. They're ranting and raving about that, so no one in America cares now that Iraq actually approved their new constitution, or that most everyone in Iraq wants to see Saddam Hussein hanged now that his trial has started. Even though things are getting accomplished there, it looks to ordinary folks like nothing's getting done for the people at home or for the soldiers who are still getting killed. The polls are saying people think going into Iraq was a bad idea and a waste of time. Bush can't buy a break. The poll numbers are dropping, and this Administration looks like a bunch of people who can't shoot straight right now. It's been gaffe after gaffe. For this White House, it's been a very bad time.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

BIG TROUBLE AT CBS

And therefore big changes at the news division, dragged down by scandals and low ratings.

CBS News president Andrew Heyward is out, replaced by Sean McManus who was president of CBS Sports. Story here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

BIG PROBLEMS AT NBC

Well, now here's my promised rant about the troubles at fourth-placed NBC. The ratings over there are terrible, and people are talking about it. I read this amusing rant over at Assistant/Atlas and the jist of it was: if you were Jeff Zucker, don't you think you should be fired? That blog post made some hard points about how NBC's ratings went down the drain 60% during his tenure and that the network has suffered due to a lot of cost-cutting. As a result, because they're so cheap at NBC, so people are saying, NBC's ushered onto the screens a lot of reality shows and kept on old shows way too long, while the other networks invested in dramas that ended up being big hits which will run for years.

I have to admit, this network has a lot of problems and most of the criticisms about how they got themselves into this mess are dead-on. I think the biggest problem with the network right now is that they haven't been innovative with their new shows. They've ridden the coattails of the 1980s for too long. They built Thursday night into Must See TV and kept it going for something like 20 years. But then the shows got old, and they started leaving the air. The turning point was when FRIENDS left the air, to be replaced by the lamest spinoff ever, Joey. Thursdays now consist of Joey, a tired Will and Grace, a fading Apprentice and a way past-its-prime ER. What a mess. Meanwhile the other networks have been busy being innovative. CBS basically created reality TV with Survivor and Amazing Race, while ABC and FOX have been putting on groundbreaking dramas. FOX has also cleaned up with American Idol. NBC's innovations all came in the 1980s and 1990s and they kept those comedies and dramas on so long that nobody noticed they weren't developing any other good shows to replace them when these shows called it quits. NBC's been running on autopilot for a lot of years and finally they ran out of gas when FRIENDS finally kicked it. Now they're in the mess they're in.

I think they have to clean out the whole schedule of a lot of old shows. I'd say half the schedule has to be replaced, at least. They need to get rid of much of the old trash and put out to pasture these shows in big decline. I say Will and Grace, ER and West Wing have to go, that Joey definitely has to be scrapped, and they should get rid of their lamest reality series for good. I don't want Average Joe blighting the NBC schedule ever again, that show is GARBAGE.

Instead, NBC should invest in top-quality comedy and drama and make sure the shows are good- no more junk. And no more spinoffs of former hits. FRIENDS is OVER, and so is JOEY. Time to search for the next big hit show and take a few risks. Look at My Name is Earl. That was a bit of a risk but it paid off. I say take a few programming risks occasionally and there will be good karma over at NBC.

The other good news is that next year the NFL will be back in prime time over on NBC. Sunday nights will be all football. I think this is a good move because all the women will be watching Desperate Housewives anyway. Might as well put on something that the guys will watch, so football is a good move for NBC. I think that NBC needs to make quite a few changes and building around the NFL is one way for this network to come back in prime time.

Jeff Zucker needs to follow my expert programming advice. Otherwise, he really will be fired. Because NBC is in the tank.

Monday, October 24, 2005

WHAT A MESS

WILMA! left a big trail of destruction in Florida. It hit the coast as a Category 3 storm and made a mess out of Miami and Fort Lauderdale. I watched the storm coverage from the Miami TV newscasts streamed on the Web, and you could tell as soon as you saw these reporters getting blown around in Key West that this was going to be a big storm.

But I didn't watch storm coverage all night. In fact, I'm fed up watching hurricane coverage on TV and the Internet. Aren't you fed up with these hurricanes? The Miami TV people were saying on NBC 6 that this was the eighth hurricane to hit south Florida in fifteen months. No wonder they look like pros when they do all this hurricane coverage, they always get hit by storms. Man, these folks who live in Miami ought to get out of there. What future do you have, living in a place which always gets hit by hurricanes? Eight storms in fifteen months, good grief.

As it stands there is a lot of Florida without power today; lots of trees down everywhere, boats capsized, and tall buildings had their windows all blown out. It looked like a war zone.

But not much flooding and not much death. So it's not another New Orleans. Still, reports have it that the looting is on. And I hear Cuba also got it, and so did Cancun. That's a lot of vacations ruined for a lot of Canadians, as they say on the news.

I hope this is the end of these hurricanes this year. People are fed up having to clean up after them all the time.

UPDATE: Word is two Miami TV stations were knocked off the air by the storm. For a story on the TV coverage look here. Yesterday was a big day for news as there were also big explosions in Baghdad with an attack aimed at Western journalists. Western journalists getting attacked by terrorists now?!? Another reason to get out of the news business.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

WILMA! COVERAGE

Cancun has already gotten smashed by a Category 4 storm and the streets are flooded. We could see pictures from Mexico of some really heavy damage. Wilma has weakened somewhat to Category 2, for now. I suspect the main event is over as far as the hurricane's major damage is concerned, but Florida still expects a big storm to hit on Monday. The Keys are being evacuated.

The streaming is on at www.wsvn.com and www.wfor.com. Also up is www.nbc6.net.

In other news, the World Series is now on between Houston and Chicago with games 1 and 2 at US Cellular Field.

Friday, October 21, 2005

GRETA SPEAKS ON TV LEGAL ANALYSTS

There are a lot of "legal analysts" on TV and one of the better ones has been Greta Van Susteren, who went from being an analyst for major trials like OJ, to being a full-blown talk show host on the Fox News Channel.

Anyway, on her blog a lot of people were writing in to her this week, wondering how they can get a job as a "legal analyst" on TV. I guess people are interested in the job all of a sudden because of the interest in Daniel Horowitz. He was a "legal analyst" for these legal cable shows. Horowitz made the news for terrible reasons this week: his wife was murdered at their home in the Bay Area. The cable news channels are all going nuts about this, as usual. Just the other day the police caught the guy they think did the crime, a 16-year old kid. Just a horrible, sad situation.

Anyway I guess Daniel Horowitz and his "legal analyst" gigs got a lot of these lawyer types thinking. A lot of them were sending their resumes to Greta Van Susteren and asking for her help and advice. And as you can tell she responds in her blog, saying that this is really not a real career path. She explains it better than I do but most of these "legal analysts" do this sort of thing for free on the cable shows on TV. Then they go back to being lawyers during the day. It's free publicity for them. By being on a talk show on TV these lawyers get to talk about the law and look knowledgeable and important. It really does lead to a lot of business. It's better than taking out advertising, because if you go on a talk show you can show your smarts and build your reputation, and then people will seek you out.

But as a career in itself? Not likely. About the only "legal analyst" out there who is doing this as a full-time job is Andrew Cohen over at CBS News, who used to be an attorney in Denver but is more of a full-time TV newsman these days Then you have the gang of lawyers working at Court TV and they tend to all be anchors, correspondents, and hosts. Nancy Grace makes a lot of money, true, but she isn't working as a "legal analyst": she's working as a full-blown talk show host with a big mouth. So I don't think being a "legal analyst" is a real job.

It is good training, though, if you want to get a real job in television like a talk show host job or something like that. People see Star Jones parlay a "legal analyst" role to a career of fame and fortune on the red carpet. Guys like Jim Moret and Jack Ford parlayed these gigs into careers in TV as reporters, but I don't think they were paid at first, either. So if you want to be a legal analyst, make sure you keep your legal day job, because you'll be making NO money at it.

My guess is that poor Greta got inundated with letters from all these lawyers desperate to get out of their law jobs. The legal profession is filled with miserable people desperate to get out and go into entertainment or TV. A lot of them entered law school hoping their new degrees would open doors to Hollywood, only to find they had to take terribly boring corporate law jobs instead to pay back their mountain of debt. Then there's the people who wanted to be lawyers to begin with, thinking it was a stable career, who are finding out quickly that it's a dead-end job filled with horrible colleagues. One misstep can get you fired (a la The Apprentice). They simply want a saner line of work.

A few years back I went to Washington D.C. to do TV reporter training for a weekend. One of the guys taking the training course there was an Ivy-educated lawyer in town, looking to ditch his job and get into news. He was bored with law and bored with his job. I'd be interested in finding out what happened with him and whether he decided to go into TV, he seemed like a really smart guy. Many of the lawyers who get on TV do it the hard way, by working in smaller markets. Unless you're a famous offspring or were married to a big-city mayor or someone like that, you'll need to pay some serious dues. I read that Lisa Daniels of MSNBC was a gorgeous, Harvard-educated attorney with one of the biggest corporate law firms in New York City for four years before quitting to go into TV. Her first TV job was in Elmira, New York!!! I've been to New York State and can tell you Elmira is absolutely located in the middle of nowhere, in a place that gets lots of snow. This woman went from being a high-powered Wall Street attorney to covering local criminals in Elmira, and then moved to a station in Springfield, Massachussetts. Her ex-lawyer colleagues must have thought she was crazy. It must have been really depressing to work the local beats in these lonely places for hardly any money, having to explain to your relatives that you're not doing law anymore in Manhattan, but eventually it paid off for her, because she went from tiny Elmira all the way to NBC.

Bob Woodruff, who could be the next anchor of ABC's World News Tonight, went a similar route: he was a big corporate attorney who eventually quit and got his first on-air gig at a very tiny TV station in some small place in the northeast. He later worked on-air in Phoenix for a few years. Actually, he really got his first media job abroad. He briefly moonlighted as a translator in Beijing for CBS News while on a teaching assignment there, so that's how he first got started.

I think this is similar advice for people in the investment industry who want to go into TV: I know a lot of investment industry people in Canada have quit peddling stocks to do TV news and they had to do much the same thing, start at the bottom. Anyway, if you're currently a lawyer hoping to get into TV, I'm afraid there's no shortcuts for most of you. Just find any station that will take you, even if it's Elmira, just to get started. At least, you'll get paid! Don't bother applying to Greta to be a legal analyst unless you're somebody half-famous, because you'll make NO money.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

DONALD LOOKING FOR A SCAPEGOAT FOR HIS SHOW'S PROBLEMS

The ratings are down over at The Apprentice and the blame game is on. ABC News reports that Donald Trump is upset and fingerpointing and claiming there's confusion out there with his effort and Martha Stewart's show.

No kidding. Well, what do you expect with NBC scheduling two of these shows at once. People can't follow all the contestants on all of these shows. As it stands I'll probably bail on The Apprentice as soon as comedy relief Markus is fired, which ought to be soon. No one can keep up with these people. Who cares about these folks.

I think there's another overlooked reason for the show's decline. The real reason the Donald's show is down 40% is that people think the Donald's show has gone phony. People don't think this show is real anymore. They just think these contestants are trying to get famous quick, and that the firing sessions are a big act. People used to think this show was something different from the rest of the reality crap out there, that it was a real show about business, but now the viewers feel cheated. Nobody's going to learn how to get ahead in business from any of these nincompoops on any of these shows, doing these chimp tasks for these rich sponsors. So what point is there to watching? Why watch a junk show about business when you put up with enough crap at work? That's why the ratings are down 40%, because people think it's turned into just another reality show like the rest of them.

The real problem is that reality TV is FINISHED. It's the Donald's bad luck that NBC chose to saturate the air with two Apprentice shows at the very time when the reality genre went straight down the chute. The TV execs should have known already that it was going to be a flop. The ratings for reality shows have been going down all year, everyone else is busy cancelling this garbage, yet the geniuses in the NBC programming department went ahead and bet their hat on The Apprentice. As if the Apprentice was a series that was on its way up.

Now NBC is stuck with a flop show on Wednesday and a show in big decline against CSI on Thursday. It looks like the whole series could be sinking fast. Meanwhile, LOST and Desperate Housewives are more popular than ever, and CSI has been breeding new spinoffs like crazy. The Apprentice is going in one direction, down.

I'm going to do a rant on NBC later. They're a sinking ship outside of news and sports right now. I read a post on one of these blogs, trashing NBC and Jeff Zucker (head honcho of NBC). That whole network is having huge trouble in prime time and it deserves a post of its own. Unfortunately, The Apprentice crummy ratings numbers are cited as a major concern for the network, hence the fingerpointing. But the whole network is riddled with problems.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

WIIIIIIIIILMAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!

No no no, it's not Fred Flintstone bellowing, it's Hurricane Wilma. 48 hours ago she was a nothing storm, but today she's Category 5 and the most powerful storm ever recorded, and headed to FLORIDA!!!!! And it sounds like people down there are already freaking out over this hurricane. If you are in Florida right now, gosh darnet get the H out.

By the way, these hurricane fools have run out of alphabet. They don't use X, Y or Z and are going to have to use the Greek alphabet if there's any more hurricanes. (And what happens if they run out of Greek letters? Do they use Russian letters?! Why not Chinese?! They never taught this on Sesame Street. This is getting ridiculous, so many hurricanes that you run out of letters of the alphabet.)

Be prepared for plenty of links in the next few days to hurricane coverage. Again.

And since it looks like they'll need the money, again: www.redcross.org. Heck, they've already lost all their money on tsunamis, Katrina, Rita, and that Pakistan earthquake. Might as well make sure they've got enough cash to deal with Wilma.

Monday, October 17, 2005

THREE NEW ANCHORS FOR NIGHTLINE

What's interesting for me is not so much that they went with multiple anchors at Nightline to replace Ted Koppel: it's who they chose. Seems to me we can expect a lot more law and justice stories late at night on ABC News, because this is the Court TV Alumni Club in charge... two of them, anyway.

Terry Moran used to be a reporter at Court TV, and Cynthia McFadden was an anchor there and has a law degree from Columbia! And, of course, Martin Bashir's biggest claim to fame was his documentary on the infamous Michael Jackson. And we all know how much time the people at Court TV devoted to him.

This sure looks, on paper, like a big play for the Nancy Grace crowd. I'm sure there will be doomsayer critics out there who will raise red flags in dismay, and say that this is the end of the show as we know it. They'll whine "they might as well have hired Geraldo" and will rant that the new Nightline will be tabloid, that it will be the place to see coverage of O.J.'s next trial, or Aruba, or other such stories. I'm not so convinced, though. These are credible journalists, these three, and I think it would be good for Nightline to do more justice stories. The Supreme Court changes are going to be a big story in the US far beyond this year, that's pretty obvious. Saddam Hussein has a big trial coming up, too. And these three have experience covering political stories and magazine-type pieces. This is the right crew for the right kind of stories coming up in the near future.

Anyway, that's my two cents. I also noticed Fox News has some new crime news show on weekends now, featuring lawyers-turned-reporters Jamie Colby and Megyn Kendall. But I still don't have Fox News, yet.

UPDATE: What did I tell you? Already Fox News is trashing the ABC News Nightline anchor team, trashing Martin Bashir in particular and invoking the name of Jerry Springer to describe it. (I guess they didn't invoke Geraldo's name because, well, he's a fellow Fox News employee so it would make their own company look really bad if they mentioned him. Come to think of it, Geraldo used to work at ABC News, didn't he? He was an actual colleague of Ted Koppel! Seems like ages ago.)

Sunday, October 16, 2005

HI, AGAIN

Just thought I would show my face again and say I'll be back, eventually, just not right now. I have not been posting here much as of late, for good reason. The baseball playoffs are on and of course it's also football season. There was nonstop football on the tube this weekend and also on the radio. So I have better things to do than sit at a computer, blogging about nothing.

I added a few new links, mainly for my own amusement, so that should keep you viewers occupied. I watched the White Sox win tonight, ho hum. Maybe I'll be back on Tuesday night after the Astros get done kicking out the Cardinals from the playoffs. Then all these League Championship Series will be over and baseball will take a hike until Saturday night, and I can blog again. Then again, I might decide to go to a movie instead. After all, it is Cheap Tuesday at the theatres.

All in all it is a slow week for the CAIRNS BLOG.

TV RATINGS NEWS

Well, the ratings are in this week for the big sporting events that dominate TV and all I can say is America is the land of football fans, because the baseball playoffs are getting stomped.

Last Monday's Divisional Series clinching game between the Angels of Anaheim and the New York Yankees, seen on FOX, got beat by ABC Monday Night Football. Pittsburgh and San Diego got more ratings than a big baseball playoff game that saw the Yankees beaten and eliminated. In fact, Two and a Half Men also beat baseball, I heard. And baseball has been getting beaten all week- regularly in second or third place in the ratings.

The World Series ratings promise to be even worse if the Cardinals don't make it in; that's the only team left with any sort of national following. Baseball on FOX is having a bad year.

Hockey is not having a bad year, though: in Canada, TSN is reporting that roughly one in every five Canadians tuned into their opening NHL night coverage, setting new records for TSN. Canadians truly are hockey addicts. Bitter? Angry? My foot.

Now, some really good news: one of the worst shows on TV is not coming back. FOX is dropping The Simple Life. Paris Hilton has been cancelled. Finally, someone in the executive suites listens to the viewers.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

REMEMBERING THE ROADRUNNERS

Tonight was a big night in Toronto for the AHL, as the Marlies had their home opener at the Ricoh Coliseum, winning 5-2 over the Syracuse Crunch.

There will be people who forget that this is not the debut season for the AHL in Toronto. We had a team before, the Roadrunners. They played in the same building for one season but were driven out of town by financial troubles, ending up in Edmonton. I saw them play in Toronto against the Rochester Americans and it was a really bizarre experience. It felt like I was watching a game in another city, that's the only way to describe it. They had Rocky the team mascot here and the whole time I wanted to say to Rocky: why don't you go back to Arizona, where you belong, you goofy bird.

Of course, before the Roadrunners came to Toronto they had a long, storied history in the city of Phoenix, Arizona. They've kicked around several minor/rebel leagues; the old Western Hockey League, the World Hockey Association (three years), the Pacific Hockey League, then after a decade in mothballs they joined the International Hockey League in the 1990s. Then the Coyotes moved in and robbed the Roadrunners of all its fans. After fighting a losing battle at the gate against the Coyotes for a while, the team was mothballed again and sold to Toronto interests. By the time the dormant franchise was reactivated the IHL was absorbed by the American Hockey League- it's fifth league, if you're counting.

Unfortunately, the Roadrunners were the farmhands of the Edmonton Oilers, and Toronto had no interest in watching future Oilers. So they became the Edmonton Road Runners. They went there, basically, as the replacement for the Oilers during the NHL lockout. By the time the lockout ended, the Roadrunners had been mothballed again.

Well, guess what, I found out what happened to the RoadRunners. They are back in Phoenix! Seems that they are playing at AmericaWest Arena, where the Phoenix Coyotes used to play until they moved to their own arena in the suburbs. The 'Runners are in the East Coast Hockey League now, which strangely enough had merged with the West Coast Hockey League so there are actually a number of teams in the league from the West.

The Phoenix RoadRunners are back in business, against all odds. League number six for these jokers.

HUMILIATION FOR McGUINTY LIBERALS IN ONTARIO

I still claim to run a political blog and have been somewhat involved in the provincial political scene in the last few years.

Therefore I ought to mention this story: Greg Sorbara, our provincial finance minister, has resigned under a cloud.

This is only the number two guy in the government after Dalton McGuinty himself. Needless to say Adam Vaughan, Sean Mallen and the rest of the provincial media went nuts over this. Same with John Tory and Howard Hampton. This was the top story on every front page, except on the cover of the Toronto Sun that had as its top story a victory by the Leafs. But this is more important.

In addition to looking like liars for breaking their promises, our provincial Liberals now look corrupt. Way to go. If Ontario is foolish enough to elect these rascals again I'm moving to Quebec.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

RATINGS BATH FOR REALITY SHOWS

To back up my rants about how no one wants to watch reality TV anymore: here's a story from the Hollywood Reporter. Already the networks are programming fewer shows, but even the ones still on the air are getting hit with big ratings declines.

Take a look at the numbers: Survivor, winning its time slot but nevertheless down 19% among 18-49. The Apprentice: losing its time slot, down 41%. The Biggest Loser: down 23%. Wife Swap, down 39%. The rest of the reality shows mirror this trend and are either flat or down. On Tuesday, The Amazing Race's usually big ratings are down by enough that Commander in Chief on ABC was able to beat it to be the most watched show on the night for its premiere. It's a carnage. By the way, The Amazing Race stinks this year. It's now Week 3 and these families of 4 haven't even made it out of the United States yet! Instead they're going to boring historical sites. Who cares about America, we see enough of the USA on all these other shows on TV. When are they hopping on an international flight out of the country?! That's usually the best part of the show, when they go to these foreign countries!!!

Only two new reality shows are on the air this fall on NBC: Martha Stewart, already moved in disgrace to 9PM against LOST: and Three Wishes, starring Amy Grant, which is flopping bigtime and which I expect to see cancelled any day now. They're turning away from the genre, these nets. They do plan to bring back The Bachelor and Beauty and the Geek, but no one is under any illusions that people will tune in. The Hollywood Reporter says FOX, which used to have a lineup filled with this junk, only has one reality show now, Nanny 911. And even I say that's one show too many.

Like I say, Reality TV's rep with the general public is up in smoke. Too much cheap junk, too much interference from producers, too much fighting. This genre has had it.

THE NAME'S CRAIG, DANIEL CRAIG

And he is the new James Bond.

I sure hope these producers know what they're doing in casting Craig, and I hope he's a big, freaking success as Bond. But I worry about this series- and keep in mind, I'm as big a Bond fan out there as anyone.

I keep reading the comments on these movie websites out there from these movie critics and self-proclaimed buffs, and there's a general feeling that the Bond 007 franchise has really been going downhill, that the Bond movies have been lousy in recent years. The feeling is this series should have ended a long time ago. Personally, I disagree: I thought Pierce Brosnan did a great job keeping the Bond franchise afloat. And the last Bond movie had Halle Berry in it in an orange bikini, so it was memorable for that reason. But you know, yeah, the last couple of movies haven't been all that great when you think of it.

What I'm worried about is the future. One really bad Bond movie could sink the whole franchise for good and this casting fiasco (that's what it was) has done nothing for this series. They couldn't find a Bond, and they couldn't even decide whether or not to bring Brosnan back! The way they handled Brosnan made no sense to me.

What I'm worried about is that they're going to make a Bond movie just for the sake of making a Bond movie, regardless of whether the cast or script is any good. I sure hope this Daniel Craig guy is good, in Casino Royale. He'd better be.

Monday, October 10, 2005

"JUST LEGAL": JUST CANCELLED

Network TV isn't wasting any time with flop shows this new TV season.

Earlier tonight I was disgustedly watching the Yankees beat up on the Angels over on FOX, and finally got fed up watching the Angels get hammered. I was convinced they were going to be blown out. So I decided to switch the TV over to the WB again to catch a show I was starting to really like, Just Legal. I was just going to switch between that show and the game for an hour.

Instead of seeing a show set in sunny California with Don Johnson and Jay Baruchel, they had on this show featuring four babes. Immediately I'm going "the heck is this!?! Don't tell me this show has been CANCELLED!!!"

After switching back to the Yankees game in disgust, I went on Google and my suspicions about what happened to Just Legal were confirmed. I found this article from Saturday, announcing the show was replaced by Related in its time slot. Three bleeping episodes aired, and already the show's over. S#!t!!! I'm not terribly surprised, I read the Nielsen Ratings and knew that Just Legal was just getting killed in the time slot. Also, the USA Network just got the WWE back and has been airing that on Mondays now, so that show also kills everybody.

But I thought the WB would at least give the show some more time or change time slots to another night. Don't you hate it when you watch a new show, happen to like it, and then one week you tune in and it's gone, no warning, nothing?! Over on UPN they have already stopped production on Sex, Love and Secrets starring Denise Richards, and are just running the remaining episodes. These nets are quick about bringing out the hook these days, so when you tune in at that certain time to your favorite show, you can get a rude surprise.

Which has been happening a lot to me lately. They yanked Law and Order: Trial by Jury, then they yanked The Law Firm, then they yanked Head Cases. Now they've yanked Just Legal. Darnet!!! You don't even know what happened to these characters! They don't have a big finale like FRIENDS or FRASIER where you have some idea what these people are planning to do next.

Here's what I'd like to think happened: young Skip Ross' trial victories impressed employers enough that after only a few weeks he got a better law job. So he quit Grant Cooper to work for those two guys from Head Cases. There! That's the end of that series, and the coast is clear for me to watch sports on these other channels on Mondays.

UPDATE: The Angels have come back to lead the Yankees 5-2. And I found out NBC just cancelled Inconceivable. That's four network shows gone in the new season, and it's only October.

THE SORRY STATE OF THE WORLD

The 21st Century has been one disaster after another.

It's a sad state of affairs, what's happening in the world today. What with al-Qaida threats again to New York subways, blasts in Bali, multiple hurricanes, floods, and Tsunamis, you can only say it's a really awful state the world is in. Now, people are being whipped into a frenzy over Avian Flu and the potential for 150 million people to be killed in a pandemic. As if we don't have enough trouble in the world these days.

Now this Pakistan earthquake, which has apparently killed 30,000 people. Details of the scale of the disaster continue to come in, and it's just terrible. The death count continues to mount. People are being asked to dig deep into their pockets, again, to try and help even more suffering people.

NBC News anchor Brian Williams blogs about it and moans about the state of the world. I couldn't blame him one bit.

And here I go, linking you yet again to www.redcross.org.

WANNABE ACTORS

This blog has been a regular place for me to rant and rave about these wannabe actors who appear on reality TV hoping it will be a fast track to fame and fortune. Well, here's an article on it.

I guess reality TV works for some people (ie. Trista) but you know, a lot of the people who end up on these reality shows, as the article says, end up looking bad. The people on Survivor get backstabbed and look like fools on TV, and physically the show is hard on them, too. The people on The Bachelor really are made to look like fools when the contestants end up running around with other people. It's humiliating to get dumped on national television. You've got to be nuts to go on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette and have your every move taped. Which is why I think the people on that show are really wannabe actors.

Then there are the wannabe singers, those poor folks who try out for American Idol. There's a lot of no-talents in that bunch of people who can't sing, and then they get cut down by Simon on national television. They really end up looking bad.

The only people who say they got something out of it were the people who went on The Amazing Race. At least they got a free trip around the world out of it, even if they lost in the end. Everyone else on the other shows, well, they regretted it.

Which leads me to think, since I rant about The Apprentice all the time... it must be really lousy to be on The Apprentice, because you have to work all the time! You work hard and it does you NO good. Not only do you put up with all the nonsense of competing to get a dream job with Trump, but your hard work may not even pay off! Most of the contestants are doomed to be fired and humiliated on national TV. These people frequently end up looking like a nutcase, an incompetent, or much worse. Appearing on the show can backfire on you in real-life. Jennifer Crisafulli was fired from her real job because of what happened on the Trump show.

And look at this year's show: they are busy making Markus look really bad, even though he's not all that incompetent. He is, however, out of his element with this awful group of frat boys and uptights he's with. Some people on his team are really full of themselves and arrogant as heck, and frankly I'm turned off by most of them. Markus ought to quit, but he can't even do that without getting humiliated on TV (look at last season). So he's stuck making a fool of himself on TV. What a bad situation.

Really, going on Trump's show seems like a suicidal move for most people, it can do nothing for your image in the real world. The only guy who got fired who really came out ahead was Bradford. He wound up with a few new clients (ex-Apprentice contestants) for his law practice, thanks to The Apprentice. So Bradford was able to cash in.

Not bad for a guy fired after only two episodes.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

BASEBALL RANT

I love following baseball. Usually it gets my mind off of my own troubles and also off of the depressing news stories out there. There was a big earthquake in Pakistan and now they say 30,000 people may be dead there. And then came the news that Blue Jays voice Tom Cheek had died (see post below.) Sad sad sad. So I like to follow baseball and rant about it, to get my mind off other stuff.

Now my big rant: as you know, the Boston Red Sox fans are depressed because their team got broomed by the Chicago White Sox, and the New York Yankees are down 2-1 in their series with the Angels. And I say: GOOD.

I am fed up seeing the Red Sox and the Yankees. In fact, as a Blue Jays fan who sees these teams dominate their division all the time, I'm cheering the Angels on, hoping they knock the Yankees right out of there. I'm fed up with New York and Boston and sick and tired of the TV and radio coverage of these teams. It's as if these are the only two teams in all of major league baseball that matter. All that these sportscasters have been doing all year is playing up their rivalry and building it up for their inevitable clash in the post-season, while ignoring all the other teams. Whenever you tune into Fox Sports, it's always the Yankees or the Red Sox on the Game of the Week. They don't really care about any of these other teams, except maybe for the Braves or Cardinals or the Cubbies.

Otherwise forget it; they don't even show the West Coast teams very often, even though Barry Bonds plays out there. Good luck seeing a team like the Houston Astros on TV at all, even though that team's been good for years. If they ever show the Astros, too, they show them for one reason: because Roger Clemens is on the team, so fans in New York and Boston will be interested! If it wasn't for Roger Clemens, nobody outside Houston would know what Minute Maid Park looks like, because the Astros would never get on national TV! Same with the Florida Marlins, who are never on TV unless they win a World Series (which they've done a couple of times). Then the people at Fox Sports have to show them, whether they want to or not!

You had this same attitude back when the Blue Jays were winning. They didn't care about the Blue Jays unless they played the Yankees or Red Sox, or got into a pennant race or the playoffs. Then the networks were stuck showing them and the sportswriters were stuck covering them.

Last week when New York and Boston met in their season-ending series a lot of the players predicted they'd meet each other again, basically showing their own arrogance and self-importance to the game of baseball. And you keep hearing these writers and network executives yakking about how important it was for baseball to have the Yankees and Red Sox meet again, so that people will watch baseball on TV. This attitude drives fans outside the Northeast US crazy. It's as if we all don't count as fans. Just think if the NFL tried that stunt and only showed the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles all the time, and if football writers showed that same condescending attitude to the rest of the teams. Frankly, they couldn't do it, because the whole league is popular. The NFL goes out of its way to promote the whole league so that every city is important. If Tampa Bay takes on Kansas City in the NFL, it'll be a game you'll actually care about! But you'll never see those two cities do battle on FOX or ESPN in a baseball game! In fact, the whole system's stacked against Tampa Bay and Kansas City in baseball, these teams that have to operate on a budget. Thanks to baseball's economic situation and wild spenoing, and the general ignorance from FOX SPORTS and ESPN, it's guaranteed to be a no-interest matchup and a nothing game.

You get the impression that baseball people and media types think your baseball franchise is really second-rate if it isn't located in Boston or New York, that it would be beneficial to the entire sport if your local team loses to these two all the time. Yet this attitude doesn't exist in football or these other sports, not nearly to the same extent. Personally, I hope the Yankees get their clock cleaned today. This would be the rest of middle America getting revenge on these dominant, hyped-up teams. It's about time the rest of major league baseball had some winning to cheer about. Besides, having other teams win is good for the sport and good for growing the game.

SAD BLUE JAYS NEWS

TOM CHEEK, Voice of the Blue Jays since Opening Day 1977, has died at age 66.

Here's a story from Sportsnet looking back at his career.

There is a tribute site www.TributetoTom.com, whee you can purchase a Tom Cheek tribute bracelet with the proceeds going to brain cancer research.

Sad day.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

APPRENTICE IS BACK(STABBING)

THE DONALD

I think it's official, Trump is Back.

Last week's boardroom was dynamite, he was telling Chris the entire boardroom not to bring back Markus, don't do it, he wasn't the reason they lost, but guess what, he brings him in anyway and gets himself fired. Donald Trump reams him out, bangs his desk and makes him really feel small, and says "you're fired!"

And Chris deserved it, because he was such an idiot in the boardroom, trying to get Markus fired when Trump was making it clear he wanted to get rid of Mark, instead. All I have to say is that this is exactly what we need to see from this show, some enthusiastic and energetic firing sessions with a lot of fireworks. And this week, the female team descended into cattiness and catfighting, and backstabbing, and it's like old times. What can I say, Trump is Back. To normal.

MARTHA

Martha Stewart, who by the way is planning to come to Nova Scotia for some pumpkin-rowing event and has finally been given the OK by the government to cross the border, is busy breaking all the rules of her own show. For one thing she keeps making up the tag lines as she goes along, every week it's something different. I read about this in one of these tabloids, this was what drove the production team crazy! About the only thing that stays the same is when she writes her PFO letter to the loser after they leave! Sort of like getting your torch snuffed out.

Last night Martha went further and rewrote her show's rules again: remember the part of the show where they ask the project manager to select two people to bring into the boardroom? Well, the project manager sent back upstairs the person Martha wanted to fire. With Trump that's usually the cue to ream out the project manager and fire them. Martha was totally different. She decided to totally ignore the project manager's selections, and instead called back the entire sales force to ream them out one more time. In her company, be prepared to have your decisions overruled by the boss. What an environment.

Martha fired Shawn, the TV reporter, for not selling a single cake. Shawn dug her own grave when she opened her big mouth and said you had to "fake it till you make it!" Martha really hated that line and was really offended the project manager sent her back upstairs to safety. So she fired Shawn and gave the Project Manager something to think about, all at the same time, by disregarding him. What an insult! How diabolical! This is the Martha we've come to know and love.

This really changes the dynamic of the game, too- you can't rely on your friends to send you back upstairs to save your hide. This show revealed a lot about Martha's character. She's playing by her rules. It's a different person and a markedly different style with this Apprentice show. In Martha's world she's the boss. If you blow it she won't care if you're supposed to be safe, she'll still fire you right away. The heck with her own show's rules.

Too bad they're all watching LOST. Nobody cares about this silly show.

OJ

Hard to believe but it has been ten years to this week that the verdict in the O.J. Simpson double-murder case came down.

FRONTLINE marked this milestone with a serious look at the O.J. "Trial of the Century" and what it meant for America. They aired their documentary The O.J. Verdict on Tuesday on PBS stations across America, and it also is being streamed on the FRONTLINE website. Here's the link. They have interviews with many of the key players in the trial including the attorneys and some of the media people who covered it.

Back in 1995 these news outlets went insane covering the trial and a lot of people were embarrassed to cover it, thinking it was tabloid trash. But the fact was that a lot of people got caught up in that trial, and it really did say a lot about race relations in America. It came on the heels of the L.A. riots and the Rodney King beatings that were caught on tape, so there was this atmosphere of distrust for the LAPD that permeated the trial and the defence team exploited it to the fullest.

It was certainly the most watched trial in history. The verdict was one of those "where were you" type of moments. Me, I was in Ray Hazzan's TV class at the University of Western Ontario, and Hazzan was begging us in vain to watch the verdict on CBC Newsworld, but the class wanted to watch CNN and that's the channel we tuned into to see the verdict. We wanted to see CNN because CNN owned the story. All the time it was Jim Moret, Greta Van Susteren and Roger Cossack covering the trial, and every night Larry King had something on about the O.J. case.

Ah, the glory days of CNN, when everyone watched. Those were the days, and that was quite a trial.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

CAMPBELL BROWN

Since I'm on a roll ranting about the media I thought I'd mention Campbell Brown was on Letterman tonight.

She found it really cool to be on the Letterman show chatting with Dave, so it has to be the highlight of her life, being on the show. She was talking about what it was like covering the Bush White House and how hard it was etc., couldn't get much information out of them, couldn't talk to real people like she does with her present assignment. She's doing the Today show on the weekends. She also talked about how she got her start- she was interested in politics and casting about for some direction, and happened to get into journalism, doing TV internships in Washington, D.C. and getting her first TV gig in Topeka, Kansas, making $6 an hour! Yes, salaries in TV news are that bad in the States. If I were her I would've gone on strike and demanded thousand-dollar signing bonuses.

Presumably she makes more money now. I would sure hope so.

HOCKEY: WHO CARES

By the way, I tuned into WFAN New York tonight and I can gladly inform you that nobody in the United States cares that the NHL is back. WFAN carried the Devils game tonight, and after that was over Steve Somers immediately went on and all he talked about for a good 20 minutes was not hockey, but baseball and the playoffs. No one cared about the bleeping Devils. Somers mentioned later, though, that there were a lot of people in New York who couldn't watch any NHL games involving the local teams tonight, because all the New York teams got blacked out on Direct TV! How the NHL managed that debacle in NYC on their opening night, I don't know. Anyway, no one seemed to care, they just concentrated on baseball. And no one was listening to Somers anyway, they were all listening to John Sterling do the Yankees game on the other station.

I'm sure no one in Boston cares that the Bruins are back right now, either: they're really worried the Red Sox are gonna get swept after what happened to them in Chicago today (blew a 4-0 lead to the Pale Hose).

BIGGEST STORY IN CANADA

... is the NHL!

And it looks as if all these Canadian fans will give these bums a big standing-O when they return to their jobs, no booing, nothing. Chumps.

I'm watching the news and all the local stations are going live from the arenas, even Kevin Newman is anchoring Global National from a sports bar and all the correspondents are reporting on hockey and wearing goofy hockey jerseys. It's like watching an NHL pre-game show, these newscasts.

To follow tonight's games, here's the link to the NHL web site.

TV ANCHOR RUMBLINGS

Well here are my thoughts on TV news again and the anchor rumblings south of the border.

As you know, the situation is this: NBC has Brian Williams anchoring at 6:30PM and it's a permanent situation for him. Meanwhile, CBS has permanent-substitute Bob Schieffer and ABC has Charles Gibson, Elizabeth Vargas, Bob Woodruff... whoever they can find to warm the seat while they figure out what to do to replace Peter Jennings.

It is taking a long time for CBS and ABC to make up their minds what the heck they are going to do. Part of the reason for this is that there is uncertainty at the Today Show at NBC. Katie Couric's contract expires soon and the rumor is that CBS is trying to woo her and make her anchorwoman of the CBS Evening News. And then Les Moonves can fully implement all the big changes he has in mind to revamp the news. But Couric could well stay at NBC. And Moonves has been blowing a lot of smoke about what he might do to change CBS News for a long time, yet not much has happened over there beyond a revamping of their website. We'll see.

ABC CLOSE TO A DECISION

Meanwhile ABC seems close to making up its mind, but we have no idea who, yet. Here's an article from Marketwatch's Jon Friedman on the situation. Jon Friedman seems to think that Charles Gibson should get the anchor chair at ABC, and so do I. He's been one of their top people for a long time and has proven experience doing the news and particularly live broadcasts. But his detractors say he's too old and that they should go with younger anchors. And then there's people who say Good Morning America needs him to stay where he is so they can beat Today, that GMA is vital to the network.

I also read a report somewhere that ABC is leaning towards announcing that World News Tonight will be anchored by the team of Bob Woodruff and Elizabeth Vargas, and I really don't think that's a good move. I don't think they can fill the main anchor chair, but more importantly, I just don't see this pairing working, period. This isn't local news, this isn't happy talk! Rarely do anchor teams work at the evening newscasts. There was Huntley and Brinkley and that was a sensation, but Chancellor and Brinkley was kind of a flop. Then they had the team of Tom Brokaw and Roger Mudd and that ended badly when they dropped Mudd completely and made Brokaw sole anchor. ABC has an even worse record. There was ABC's pairing of Harry Reasoner and Barbara Walters which was a complete disaster, which was replaced by an even more confusing World News Tonight with three anchors at once. And CBS' famous anchor team of Dan Rather and Connie Chung (remember that?) was the biggest debacle ever with Connie and her appetite for sensationalism.

In Canada, the CBC paired up Pamela Wallin with Peter Mansbridge over at CBC for their infamous 9PM newscast and that was the biggest flop of all time, and Pam wound up being fired and eventually had to leave the country. The only anchor team in Canada that was ever successful was Lloyd Robertson and Harvey Kirck, over at CTV, and that lasted for eight years.

So I think it's a terrible idea to have a dual anchor setup and frankly I think neither Vargas nor Woodruff are up to the job at the moment. This isn't 20/20 or the weekend news we're talking about, this is World News Tonight! People are going to compare both of them to Jennings and boy, they both fall short at the moment. At least with some other people we know how they'd handle it if something really big happened. Ask yourself this question: who do you want to see at the anchor desk wall-to-wall if there's another terrible 9/11-type terrorist attack? That's the job we're talking about here. Maybe these two can report on it, but anchoring, I dunno. There are several people I can name who are more deserving of Jennings' chair than either of those two at the moment. People say that they're the same age as Peter Jennings was when he took over but that is sort of like saying Dan Quayle is qualified for VP because he was the same age as John F. Kennedy... and we knew what happened to Quayle. This floated Vargas/Woodruff idea reeks of what happened to a certain GMA anchor pairing that blew up after six months, which Charles Gibson had to replace. Hmm, who were they, Kevin Newman and... somebody.

I also read that Gibson has a year and a half to go in his contract and could threaten to leave ABC if he doesn't get World News Tonight. So it's a moot point if they keep him at GMA, because he'll leave anyway, possibly for Today to replace Matt Lauer who reportedly/supposedly plans to retire early anyway and enjoy his riches. And then ABC will really be up in smoke. Anyway I hope Gibson gets the World News Tonight gig. If he loses out he should quit; more importantly, he should also fire his agent. He will have definitely been shafted, and it would be a big insult.

GERALDO AND SHEP

The wild card is the Fox Network, as it always is.

Back in the 1980s, as you know, many of the stars of the Fox News Channel were involved in tabloid TV. Bill O'Reilly anchored Inside Edition, and Geraldo Rivera had his own daytime talkshow. They were all going up against Maury Povich on A Current Affair.

Just recently, A Current Affair was revived, but after only a few months that show has flopped and the syndicators have just cancelled the series. So who is set to replace that trashy, trash-era show?

Why, who else. GERALDO.

Makes sense to me.

The thing is that it's FOX that is behind Geraldo's new syndicated, national show and there is big speculation out there that this is a test run, that FOX wants to find out how a 30-minute national show works because they are planning to start up a daily, network newscast of their own to go up against ABC, CBS and NBC. They've already moved Roger Ailes over to run the owned-and-operated stations group, so that's fueled a lot of speculation.

The word is they also have an anchor ready: Shepard Smith, who is already the main anchor on the Fox News Channel. Only question is what time will the show air, 6:30 or late at night. Shep is on record as saying he wants to see a show like that on the FOX network.

If they get a show like that off the ground then CBS and ABC are going to be in a lot of trouble. FOX knows already who they're going to pick as their star anchor, and they don't even have a show on yet! I think we should watch what FOX is up to. I have a feeling they are quickly going to be major players in the nightly news business.

MACKAY STAYS PUT

You know, I thought all along that Peter MacKay would stay and finish what he started in Ottawa rather than quit and go be Premier of Nova Scotia. I know Bourque and all these troublemakers had him looking to leaving and were trying to spin that this was another sign of dissention, that people were going to draft him and so on, but frankly it was obvious he wasn't going to go. Due respect to Nova Scotia, but it's a big risk to quit Ottawa and a possible future cabinet post/leadership run to become Premier in a minority government that could fall at any time.

Story here.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

SPORTS TV IN CANADA RETURNING TO NORMAL

Well, this is it, the week sports in Canada finally returns to normal. Yee hah.

Actually, it's been normal for a while, with the return of baseball and the CFL, but now that the NHL is back we can finally say life is good in Canada again. Wish I could say the same for the broadcasters.

All I will say is that everyone in the sports broadcasting business has suffered terribly this year. And who was to blame? Why, who else. The bleeping National Hockey League and Armageddon, that's who's to blame.

And the carnage was massive this year. Of course, in an earlier post I described CBC Sports as being a "train wreck" because of what the NHL lockout did to that operation. It's fair to say now that CBC Sports has just gone through the worst year in its entire history. Everything bad that could possibly happen to that operation did happen this year: whole NHL season cancelled, curling is a debacle, they fire Chris Cuthbert in controversial fashion, and then they lose the Olympic Games right. To top it off, CBC locks itself out and we get announcerless CFL games. The last thing that needed to happen was for their own labour mess to drag down the first NHL broadcast on CBC in a year and a half.

I will say this about the CBC. This CBC lockout proved to me that the CBC has an important role to play as a sports broadcaster in this country, even though a lot of people keep ranting that they should get right out of the sports business. There's no doubt that the primary reason they're going back to work there has to do with the importance to the country of the sports division and particularly Hockey Night in Canada. (Bill Brioux agrees, calls Hockey Night their "only hit show" in fact. He took the opportunity to trash the CBC one more time for passing on Corner Gas and other shows that became hits on other networks.)

Personally, I hope CBC Sports makes a comeback from this terrible year they've had. CBC Sports happens to be the only part of the CBC that regularly produces good stuff that people actually watch, that's obvious. When they make a hash of it, people care. When people go nuts over curling coverage or over broadcasters being fired, or over whether a labour dispute is going to wipe out Hockey Night in Canada, it tells you one thing: that people across Canada care about CBC Sports and care about the programming. You can't say that about too many other divisions of the CBC.

Anyway, the good news is this Saturday there is real hockey on the CBC, not "Movie Night in Canada" or those Disney-junk shows like last year. And it looks like they may even resolve that big curling TV dispute they had and restore it to what it was before this year. Things at the CBC are looking up. About time.

I will say this, the whole sports broadcasting industry took a hit last year. The wounds were pretty deep. CBC Sports took the most visible hit, but TSN had a big gaping hole to fill on their entire schedule the whole hockey season last year. Rogers Sportsnet took a huge hit in advertising money because their regional networks had no NHL games to show. I heard there were big layoffs over there and there were reports in the Globe and Mail that there were big internal problems there, low morale and the like.

Sportscasters right across Canada ended up quitting or being fired, or left the business. Of course Chris Cuthbert is on TSN now, and Paul Romanuk actually left Canada and moved to England, if you can believe that. I don't know why he moved there. And Jody Vance quit. I didn't know this until just the other day but Jody Vance, of all people, quit Rogers Sportsnet to be a freelance TV host, and this happened about two months ago. I thought she had gone on vacation or something.

Shows you how often I've tuned into Rogers Sportsnet lately! Jody Vance is only the biggest female sportscaster in the country and they let her walk out of there.

I read somewhere that the bespeckled Jody wants to spend more time with her family and was quoted as saying she's planning to do stuff for the Food Network: that she wanted to do entertainment. But this looks really odd to me. I'm wondering if maybe there was a contract dispute or some sort of blowup, who knows. Anyway, a bad year for every sports broadcaster in Canada ended up being the last straw for Jody Vance. She got a lot of heat for doing those Quiznos sub ads with Don Cherry early this year. She got undeservedly trashed in print for doing those ads, with people saying she was not being a serious journalist and that real journalists didn't do TV ads, that it was some violation of journalism ethics. The thing is, Jody wasn't a journalist: she was a sportscaster, and sportscasters do ads on TV all the time.

I think she got disillusioned because of that uproar, and disillusioned with Sportsnet, plus I think she simply got fed up with the business. Jody's a serious broadcaster (most of the time) and sports broadcasting is rapidly becoming a big shill for the lousy National Hockey League, which feels they have to sex things up with steamy TV ads in order to get people interested. The sports TV establishment still feels compelled to hype up its every move. They shill about the "new NHL" and Sidney Crosby, and these great changes, when it's actually the same old league coming back with a bunch of out-of-shape players who took a year off. Sure, people care about hockey in this country, but it's dawning on a lot of sportscasters covering the NHL that this league isn't very important in the grand scheme of things. People are dying in New Orleans, and in Bali (again). And there are other sports and other entertainment. There's more to life than covering hockey players. Who needs it.

The TV sports business is also being turned over to the loudmouths and the hot babes. Well, that's the way it's going. These producers want to aim at a younger audience so they're prepared to toss overboard old guys and people who have interests outside of sports. I notice a lot of sportscasters are quitting the business in droves, especially younger female sportscasters. Robin Roberts and Melissa Stark ended up going into news and I read that Michele Tafoya wants to do news in Minnesota ( her home state ) instead of wasting her MBA education on doing sports. Also, sports is is an unstable business. Jody's radio buddy Todd Wright used to feature her on his ESPN radio show overnights quite often, and just recently Todd Wright got the boot, too. Canned by ESPN. If people like Todd Wright and Chris Cuthbert aren't safe in this business, heck, nobody is. You're better off getting out before you get too old to do something else. Anyway, enough about Jody Vance.

That's my rant about the year in sports broadcasting and all I will say now is I am glad a semblance of normalcy is returning to the sports TV business. And I'll definitely tune in to Hockey Night in Canada, to see this "new" NHL that they're hyping and ranting and raving about.

Monday, October 03, 2005

NEW VENUES FOR THE NFL

I'm SAD that the baseball season is over, but on the bright side the baseball post-season starts tomorrow. So there will still be opportunities for me to sit on the porch and listen to these radio broadcasters calling games.

Too bad the Blue Jays aren't in it, again, but that's life. Besides, people in Toronto don't care, their beloved Leafs come back Wednesday and that's all they care about. Unfortunately, you can never get a ticket for Leaf games because they're sold out forever, and worse, you'd have to shell out $35 just to be in the building. At least with the Jays all you needed to hand over was, what, ten bucks for cheap seats? Something like that. If I want to see pro hockey in this town at a reasonable price, I'd need to trudge down to Ricoh Coliseum to watch the Marlies and the AHL, but I heard the prices are higher for that, too. I could go to Buffalo, I heard that Sabres tickets are dirt cheap. But the price of gas is through the roof. And why should I bother giving my money to these greedy millionaires who wiped a whole season out anyway?! Really.

The NFL, of course, now is able to take center stage in a lot of American cities. Yesterday they played a couple of interesting games in new venues. The New Orleans Saints played their emotional first home game of the season, in their new stadium in San Antonio in front of their adoptive home fans and Katrina hurricane survivors. They did a great thing for these Katrina victims. Not only did they get to watch their team play for free, they got to go down on the field to help introduce the team! That was a classy move and I'm sure this will be something positive that these people will never forget. The Saints also won the game over Buffalo.

The Saints will split their home schedule between San Antonio and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The advantage of playing in San Antonio is that it's a dome stadium with artificial turf, and the Saints are built to play in indoor conditions. So on TV it looked like a normal Saints home game in many ways.

The other big game took place yesterday in Mexico City, where 103,000 people took in the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers. NFL commish Paul Tagliabue was commenting about how NFL expansion to Mexico was "inevitable". Right now, no other American sports leagues are set up in Mexico, although a few of the motor racing circuits have some races down in that country. NASCAR put a Busch Series race into Mexico, so there's growing interest in Mexico from these American major sports leagues. But Mexico is a soccer nation, and the NFL knows it. They played their NFL game at Azteca Stadium which only hosted the World Cup of Soccer nearly 20 years ago.

From what I gather, even though soccer is the most popular sport and their Mexican league games are all over TV, the NFL is still very popular in Mexico. Mexico is one of the few places outside of the USA where people actually care about football. They show NFL games on network TV down there, so interest in football is pretty high. We really shouldn't be surprised that the crowd would be big for the NFL in Mexico City. But this was over 100,000 people for two of the crummiest, most decrepit franchises in the whole National Football League. Have the Cardinals ever been good? Ever?! Even by NFL standards the attendance was absolutely amazing. Tagliabue had to be impressed.

The NFL is planning to put some more regular season games in other countries like Canada and England, so they can expand the NFL brand around the world. What I wonder is: will the NFL ever come to Canada?!? With a real team?! If it ever does it will be a big hit, there's no question in my mind about it. But people seem to want to take their time trying to bring a team here, and I heard that people in these US leagues are spooked because of all the stories about how the Montreal Expos were run out of the country; that Canadians will only shell out money for hockey. It would be quite an outrage if Mexico beats us to the NFL.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

DEAL STRUCK: CBC LOCKOUT OVER

Tod Maffin's site broke the news just after midnight.

There were rumors flying all day that the negotiators were under a mediator-imposed deadline of some sort tonight. They were actually under all kinds of deadlines: not just the threat of the loss of the first Hockey Night in Canada, but also the threat of Parliament getting involved. Looks now as if HNIC has been saved.

I'm glad this mess looks now as if it's over. I know lots of people ranted about how they never missed these guys, but you can bet that lots of people would have missed Hockey Night in Canada and would have absolutely had a cow over that. And I won't miss announcerless CFL football games. It's good this mess is over, just in time for the good programming on the CBC to start up again.