Wednesday, November 30, 2005

OPRAH ON DAVE'S SHOW TOMORROW

Just a reminder that tomorrow is sure to be another classic David Letterman show as Oprah Winfrey comes on the show to bury the hatchet and end their feud.

And thank G for that, because I was getting fed up hearing Letterman's pathetic jokes about this nonsensical feud.

I never thought I'd see the day. What's next-- peace in Iraq?!

ANOTHER SCANDAL

The RCMP is now investigating these income trusts.

It never ends with this government, does it?!

KATIE TO CBS RUMORS START AGAIN

It's almost December and these TV networks STILL don't have in place their new, permanent anchors. This has gotten to be a big joke. ABC News claims they've made their decision but are refusing to say what it is. I think they have an idea but are waiting to find out what Katie Couric does before they they announce it.

The rumor mill is on again and the word is talks are on again between Katie Couric and CBS. The new management team is in place now at CBS News and the word is they're going after Katie for the CBS Evening News job. Seems Les Moonves wants her big-time. Seems also the contract talks are off with the Today Show, at least for right now. And NBC as a network is in chaos. Ratings are in the tank and there were big layoffs over there last week, in news.

I don't know what to make of these Couric rumors. Some think it's a good move but there are detractors, like this Marketwatch guy. He says: why doesn't CBS News go in-house and develop their own talent? He's right! Why CBS doesn't simply hand-pick someone from within and groom them for the anchor chair, I don't know. It's not as if the people on their staff right now are all pathetic losers; they actually have some good reporters and decent anchors. Their talent is getting wasted.

The history in the USA is for the networks to go in-house for their anchors, to promote from within. They usually don't try and go outside to steal their new anchors unless their whole news division is a mess, and you'd think the last thing they want to do is advertise to the world that their news division is a mess. CBS and NBC have traditionally promoted from within. The only network that had to go outside was ABC back in the 1970s, when they lured Harry Reasoner from CBS and later Barbara Walters from NBC. But everyone knew ABC News was a mess, so that was different. ABC was the biggest joke in the news business in those days; they had no money and a history of changing anchors all the time. The best people they had in-house were Frank Reynolds and Peter Jennings, and they tried them already as anchors and they flopped. Jennings was in fact so young that he had been basically laughed off the air. In 1969 they decided to go with dual anchors. They gave one of the jobs to Howard K. Smith, an in-house person, and went outside to get Reasoner. Then they later paired Reasoner with Walters. Incidentally, it didn't go very well, this strategy of going outside. ABC eventually wound up putting Reynolds and Jennings back on the air anyway. Luring people from other networks doesn't seem to work very well.

Mind you, CBS has a notorious history of stealing people from other networks. Bill Paley stole a ton of entertainment talent from NBC in his famous raids in the 1940s. They also stole an unhappy David Letterman from NBC and put him in late night at 11:35. And Katie Couric is bound to be fed up with getting up in the morning at 4AM or whatever time she gets up. But this isn't entertainment, folks, this is NEWS. I guess CBS figures they are in a similar situation to the 1970s-era ABC News, they have nothing to lose and no one in-house. Well, if that's really the case, then it's CBS' fault for not showcasing the people they have and building them up.

Forget about dogged loyalty to your network, eh? What a slap in the face to these CBS News staffers. If I were John Roberts right now I'd be telling my agent to start looking elsewhere. Maybe he can go back to CTV, maybe Lloyd will retire one of these days. Fat chance.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

REUNION, HOT PROPERTIES BITE DUST; AND RANTS ABOUT THE FUTURE OF TV

Well, here's a story crossing the wire that both Reunion (from Fox) and Hot Properties (ABC) have been cancelled. FOX isn't even going to order the back nine for Reunion, the show in which every year is an episode. So that series doesn't even make it to 2005, let alone 2006. Anyway, it's cancelled.

So that's ten shows cancelled according to the story, joining the junk pile most notable by the inclusion of Arrested Development, which is cancelled even though the network won't say the "C" word. Petitions are going right now to try and save the show. There is a chance that show could be picked up by another network or wind up on cable (FX and HBO have been mentioned). The people at Lost Remote seem to think cancellation is great for the show, that it can now be downloadable from the Internet and you can see it all you want, and the show will make a fortune and put network TV out of business.

Bee ess. Problem is that prime time TV still has a pull to it that the Internet can never hope to match. With TV, they throw shows on the air at you like there's no tomorrow and hope they'll be a big hit, while the Internet relies on people seeking out content through portals and these search engines. So TV has this big advantage because it seeks the viewers out, not the other way round, through its promos and the like.

So the Internet could never hope to be the main place to pull viewers in to watch regular series, not a mainstream series, anyway. Just by my own knowledge of how Hollywood works, you can bet Hollywood won't allow it to happen that way. They'll still put their best hopes for series up in network prime time before they'll put them anywhere else, because they know that's where the biggest audience is. Then they can put the show up for download after it airs, and once it becomes a big hit they can sell the whole series into worldwide syndication, and sell the reruns on DVD sets and then allow even more downloads to happen online. That way, Hollywood will make the show the biggest hit imaginable and make the absolute maximum of money.

Downloading TV shows won't end prime time as we know it, but it sure will end Blockbuster Video and these other places. That's who will get hit hardest. Blockbuster Video didn't replace TV either, so why should these broadband downloads replace it? Not going to happen, folks, this is more hype from the pro-Internet crowd, Bill Gates and crew, who still think they will eventually put TV totally out of business and control the entire world. Downloading shows for a price, like watching DVDs from Blockbuster, is not the same as watching live TV and flipping channels. This "grand design" where people would be required to pay to download all their TV shows, instead of watch them live on these networks, would destroy TV as we know it. It would ruin the experience of watching different channels and flipping between shows, and watching networks' promos and these commercials. That's why real TV fans (who are the vast majority of viewers) won't ever allow this scenario to happen. They'll just keep on watching their favorite shows on TV as usual and pay as little money as possible for it, and that will keep regular TV in business.

These shows hoping to rely on the Internet to sustain themselves are probably a niche product with cult followings, they won't be hit shows. Warner Bros. is going to put their TV reruns up on the Internet for download, but the shows they're offering were cancelled long ago. In related news, TRIO, which shows a lot of series that were so good that nobody watched and they got cancelled by network TV, is apparently going broadband-only. Why? Because nobody will watch this channel on cable. This all proves my point that broadband will serve as Home of the Flops, the Last Refuge. As I say, the Internet will be the secondary market, TV the primary market, for years to come.

In other news Simon Cowell has announced he will stay on American Idol after threatening to bolt the show. And Season Six of The Apprentice will be in Los Angeles! Why Los Angeles? To be closer to Hollywood? This is nonsense. Trump's headquarters is New York, and New York is Trump, and the Big Apple is the business mecca of the world anyway. Yet they want this next Trump Apprentice winner to make it in L.A., land of showbiz. Who knows the reason for this change of venue, but the fact that this move makes no sense isn't going to stop NBC.

AMAZING RACE SUCKS

By the way, The Amazing Race on CBS is REALLY bad this year. In fact I've given up on the show. Last week they kept that annoying, all-but-beaten Weaver family around by declaring that leg of the race to be a non-elimination round, again, when they should have just eliminated these idiots. (Which leads me to think the producers are rigging the show to keep them around. In any event, it looks really bad.) This week, these teams get to the finish line and Phil Keoghan declares this was not even the pit stop for the latest leg of the race. So the show is messing with the audience now--- and let's not even talk about how these teams aren't even seeing the world this season. THIS SHOW SUCKS, it's a DISGRACE. I hope Emmy voters take note of this travesty, this waste of a season.

ELECTION DAY IS JANUARY 23

You know, before these Canadian wimps complain about winter elections and voting and all that--- don't these Americans in Iowa and New Hampshire hold their early presidential primaries/caucuses in the cold weather? Those states get a LOT of SNOW and they are FREEZING in the winter. These presidential candidates have to campaign during December and January in these terrible cold conditions every four years, and the people there have to go and vote. Yet no one bats an eyelid, no one complains. Why? Because these voters love politics and love the attention. The presidential candidates are actually able to meet and shake hands with people in the coffee shops and on the streets in Iowa and New Hampshire. And it's civilized, they don't need to worry too much about getting yelled at by people angry about seeing them in their coffee shops! They have a lot of respect for these politicians who have to brave the elements to try and get their votes. It's called "retail politics", meeting the voters directly, and people down there encourage that sort of thing and want to see more of it because it's happening less and less. We ought to encourage it more here, too.

I've tuned into the primary coverage on TV over the years and I'd see footage of people going to vote with snow on the ground in these states. In fact, there's some law in New Hampshire which requires that state to hold the first primary in the land. These winter elections are LAW in NEW HAMPSHIRE, and New Hampshire is right next to Canada! But cross the border to Canada and see people whine about voting in winter. What a bunch of crybabies.

Americans don't complain about winter elections, but count on Paul Martin to try and make an election issue out of the Christmas season being ruined by the opposition parties, as he did again today. Really, the Liberals have no one to blame but themselves for not taking the NDP deal, the one that would have moved the election to February. Total fools.

In other news Gurmant Grewal is not running for the Tories again (thank G).

Monday, November 28, 2005

PM TO CALL ELECTION TOMORROW

Meanwhile, apathy rules Canada. I bet hardly anyone cares the government was defeated tonight.

I was watching CTV News and there weren't a lot of people enthusiastic about a winter of politics. I was also watching Global during the actual vote and they were trying in vain to find people off the street to comment about the historic non-confidence vote going on. Seems nobody CARES. Some people are even blaming the opposition for the election when you should really blame the government for not taking the NDP deal. So because they were big jerks, the election is going to be held, what, three weeks before the NDP's election date? Anyway, the people are confused, as usual. They are ripe for the campaign of smear again. The entire country takes politics and democracy for granted, they think all the politicians are bums.

I can understand why people would feel disgusted, especially if the campaign is totally negative again. The last one was really bad. The Liberals set the tone early and that turned people off, but then the Tories joined in with the negativity, too. That's what caused the Tory campaign to go right off the rails. Plus all the usual interest groups showed up. I wouldn't blame people if they are unenthused about a potential negative campaign.

But I do think an election is necessary, the corruption and the arrogance and machine-politics of the Liberals could not go on. The opposition needed to take a stand and they did. Now the election is on.

Interesting to actually watch a government fall. The last time it happened in 1979 I was out of the country. I was in South Africa with the family, meeting relatives. In fact it was my grandfather in South Africa who told us that he read in the paper that Joe Clark's government had fallen. When we had left the country, John Turner had just announced he was not going to run for leader of the Liberal Party in the leadership race that was on. By the time we came back things had really changed.

I don't know if I will devote as much time to politics on THE CAIRNS BLOG as I did the last campaign. This blog is more media-centric these days and talks a lot about TV and entertainment, and news in general. As you can see, I added a few all-news radio station links and links to talk radio stations. I'll probably rant a few times about the election but I am not in the mood to root for the Tory home team all the time like some of these other blogs. I'm trying to move this blog in a different direction, but it's difficult.

In other news, tonight's the night the new NIGHTLINE debuts but it's been delayed out East by the football game. It's 11:45 by my watch and the NFL game is still on. NIGHTLINE's new anchors won't be on at this rate until at least 12:30 AM. The Colts are pounding Pittsburgh and are about to go 11-0.

LIBERAL GOVERNMENT DEFEATED

171-133 the final count. Pat O'Brien and David Kilgour voted with the opposition, Carolyn Parrish voted with the Grits.

Time for the people to boot these Liberal rascals out. GET RID OF THESE PEOPLE.

GOVERNMENT'S DEFEAT COVERAGE

Here's links to some of the vital places to go for fall-of-the-government coverage tonight:

CPAC has a live stream here from the floor of the House of Commons. Also find a live stream at the CablePulse24 website.

Also, a few more links:
www.cbc.ca
www.ctv.ca
www.canada.com
www.bourque.org
www.nealenews.com

AND I AM SURE there are more on the sidebar but those ones are all good for the breaking news.

ALSO check out Monte Solberg's famous blogging. He has been known to blog direct from the floor of the House of Commons during big confidence votes and I am sure he will do this again.

ETOBICOKE-LAKESHORE LIBERAL NOMINATION MESS

Here's the whole story on what's going on in Etobicoke-Lakeshore- seems what they're trying to do with Michael Ignatieff is not to appoint him but maybe to rig the process that gets him nominated instead. So that's how they're going to parachuite Ignatieff in. Doesn't matter, local people who want to run there are upset. Story here.

And Olivia Chow says she is running again in Trinity-Spadina, trying again to get into Parliament.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

FALL OF GOVERNMENT TOMORROW, WE THINK

I gotta say, Canadian politics is a JOKE.

The Liberals have been going nuts over Stephen Harper's references to the Liberals and "organized crime", and threatening lawsuits and the like. Now it seems the Tories and NDP want the Liberals investigated for leaking one of the new tax policies- apparently Jason Kenney and a few people are claiming traders may haven taken advantage of leaked inside information.

From the CBC News site:
On Friday, CBC News reported that trading in many income trusts and dividend-paying stocks became much heavier than usual late Wednesday – just before the government announced that it would not tax trusts and would cut the tax on stocks that pay dividends.

Well, well, it never stops. Thank goodness this Parliament is finally going to be put out of its misery because this is just one thing after another from the Liberals.

Meanwhile Michael Ignatieff's bid for the Etobicoke-Lakeshore Liberal nomination has hit a roadblock with Etobicoke-Lakeshore's Ukrainian Liberals, who are mad they might not even get a chance to contest the guy's nomination. Seems Ignatieff wrote some incendiary things about Ukrainians, say the Ukrainians. So we know the Ukrainians are upset. What I want to know is whether Canadians will also be upset, knowing the Liberal candidate has spent 20 years living with the Americans. At least the Tory nominee John Capobianco has lived in the area, unlike this parachute candidate the Liberals are putting forward. And he had to fight a tough nomination fight, he didn't get appointed by the leader or any of that undemocratic nonsense. Nice work, Paul Martin. Voters in Etobicoke-Lakeshore have been handed a clear choice.

In other news, part of Belinda Stronach's wardrobe caught fire, Peter MacKay got a new girlfriend, and Paul Martin got booed at the Grey Cup. Are these omens? Who knows. Anyway Paul Martin says he's not appointing anyone in Etobicoke-Lakeshore. Oh, I'm sure, folks. Something fishy is up.

And Bono's supposed to be fed up with Martin again. Well, join the club, bud.

Anyway we'll find out tomorrow if there's an election, or whether the Liberals try some new stunt nobody has contemplated yet. I plan to put up a lot of coverage links, soon. Probably tomorrow.

GOING TO MOVIES NO LONGER FUN

Well, in my continued attempt to not write about politics I offer this piece by Mark Steyn in the Sun-Times.

This column's "news peg" is the release of the latest Harry Potter movie recently, and all I will say about that is that the only reason I ever watch a Harry Potter movie is because I have no choice, I'm on an airplane flight to somewhere. (That actually happened- I went on a plane and they showed Harry Potter. I think I fell asleep.)

Steyn basically rants and raves about how people are obsessed about Hollywood movie grosses and how going to movies is a lousy experience for people these days, how the theatre he went to kept the lights on the whole time in the tiny movie theatre and the projection was blurry. And he rants how the Hollywood studios make more of their money through DVD sales. I don't blame Steyn for being upset. Moviegoing is not what it used to be. Steyn also went on to rant about political correctness and Warner Bros. cartoons, and Whoopi Goldberg, but all I want to talk about is the moviegoing experience.

Moviegoing sucks. You go to a movie theatre, and you have to fight a bunch of obnoxious kids to sit in a good seat, and then you sit and watch a bunch of stupid commercials for stupid products. A lot of theatres here show ads for Red Bull, that drink that gives you "wings". I'm kind of fed up seeing Red Bull ads every time I go to a movie. I'm really fed up paying money to sit in a movie theatre to watch ads that you could get for free by sitting at home in front of a TV. Especially for products I won't buy. Red Bull... yecch.

Moreover, a lot of movies you see at these theatres aren't the "good" films, the critically acclaimed stuff that Ebert and Roeper praise on TV every week. Instead, it's the mass market, typical Hollywood junk. I frequently go to a Rainbow Cinemas movie theatre that specializes in showing the most mass-market stuff imaginable. The good news, though, is that the prices are cheap and it's convenient to get to. Otherwise there's no real reason to go there, the place just isn't that great a theatre. It used to be a Cineplex Odeon before that chain closed it along with a ton of other theatres across Canada, and then they rented the space out to people selling pets or something like that. I think they also sold Persian rugs there, I forget what it was they were selling. Anyway, Rainbow bought it and it opened again with a new paint job. That's the good news. Too bad the movies they keep showing are such rubbish, otherwise I'd go there more often.

I don't want to watch any of the junk they're putting there right now. They're showing Harry Potter, and the latest Jennifer Aniston movie (who cares about that boring woman), and Jarhead which I've seen already, and a couple of other boring flicks aimed at kids that got two thumbs down from Roger and Richard. Let's put it this way: if George Clooney had a hand in making the movie, this theatre makes sure it isn't going to be shown. PERIOD! Same with Shopgirl, or Kiss Kiss Bang Bang or all these other "art" movies that the critics rant and rave about. If you want to see a movie with Claire Danes or somebody good in it in this town, you have to go downtown or to the big AMC multiplex up north. At least they have some variety. But be prepared to fork over the cash, because these places want you to show them the money, something like thirteen dollars!

Even the huge Famous Players multiplexes, these massive ones with stadium seating on the outskirts of town, seem to want to show Harry Potter on multiple screens at the expense of other, independent flicks. It's strange. You'd think they'd want some business from some real movie fans, provide some variety to the public. You'd think this would encourage people to go to the theatres instead of seek out illegal downloads and watch bootleg DVDs from the comfort of their own homes. Instead they load up their screens with the usual run-of-Hollywood stuff, some of which you will have seen the last time. I guess they aren't interested in making money, these theatres. And it's too bad, because I actually like these big multiplexes, it's like going to a football stadium. Or something.

The sad part is: this really is the "good" part of the movie season. The good films are getting shown and distributed, but the local theatres in my immediate area won't show them. So you have to search the local listings in order to find them and then you have to figure out which part of town the theatre is in, just so you can figure out how the heck to get there and back in one piece without getting robbed. And that's a big hassle in its own right. It's an even worse hassle if you live in a place like Barrie or somewhere smaller like that, where you don't have these options. Is business so bad at these theatres these days that these people feel they have to show the same Hollywood dreck all the time at the expense of flicks that might actually be good? In every theatre in town?! I guess so, eh, but it SUCKS for the real FANS.

Even when I lived out West they used to have variety; there was a movie theatre in my neighbourhood that was a bit independent. They showed a variety of stuff that didn't get shown at the chains. Times have definitely changed for the worse.

These theatre people have to find ways to make it worthwhile to go see a movie. They've got to start catering to the serious movie fans in addition to the usual clientele, and make it fun to go watch a movie again. Instead they're just alienating everyone. The regular customers get steamed because the prices are so high and the movies they show are junk, so they rent out DVDs and don't ever come back. And the true film freaks are alienated because this means these theatres will put the prices up again and show more TV ads which they don't want to pay to see, and put even more mass-market dreck on instead of good films that win awards at film festivals. It means less variety and more junk. Who needs it.

I want to see good movies in a fun environment, in a classy theatre that sells good concession food. I want movie theatres with a variety of good flicks to see, places which won't rip you off or show you TV ads on the screen all the time. Is that too much to ask?

I GUESS SO, EH?!?!

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

I've added a few more links on the side to some movie sites that talk about movies and give movie grosses, and also added some screenwriting blogs since, well, I'm interested in those and in movies in general these days. Blame the NHL. Because I needed something to do during that whole lockout I ended up going to movies and that turned me into a big movie nut. Going to movies may be lousy these days, but it's still cheaper than the NHL and they don't lock themselves out.

(The New NHL: $35 cheap seats, parking is a fortune, lousy stinking Leafs product on the ice, massive lineups for concession stands ($$$) and for the washrooms at the games, fight the traffic on the way out. Wonderful. Movies look good in comparison.)

Saturday, November 26, 2005

WE'VE LOST TORONTO

In anticipation of the election call comes word now that the Liberals have recruited star candidate Michael Ignatieff to run for the party and that they are plunking him into Etobicoke -Lakeshore (according to the Globe).

Good Lord, he's running against John Capobianco! This means Capobianco's toast, and the election has not even been called yet! Ignatieff is being touted as a big star for the Liberals and as possibly the next leader of the party! Personally, I don't see what's so great about him, Ignatieff, and I think there's a lot of baggage associated with the usual Liberal trick of recruiting and appointing star candidates and parachuting them into ridings. The best line of bull the Tories have is to say this guy is a parachute candidate and that this is yet more of the usual Liberal politics at work. Besides, the Liberals tried this same stunt in the 1970s a couple of times in Toronto and it didn't work, they lost.

I think Capobianco's people had an inkling something like this was going to happen, stories were floating around. Anyway, Capobianco's the best hope the Conservatives have in Toronto, probably the best candidate we've got in the whole city in fact, and he'll be the best organized in the city as well. If this is what he has to contend with, battling Ignatieff, then these Tories will be in trouble in the entire city. Who else has a shot in Toronto? Peter Kent?!

We're SCREWED! We Tories are gonna have to keep going up to York Region to have Peter Van Loan deal with any of our federal issues if this is what the situation is going to be here in Toronto.

I'M BACK

Sorry, but I have not been posting the last couple of days. I've been busy. Politics.

I must say, I don't know if I'll be able to commit myself to the campaign like I did in 2004. Life is getting in the way and I have some other priorities.

Anyway, I was at Peter Kent's volunteer shindig in St. Paul's last night. Kent was handing out movie tickets to some of his dedicated volunteers so I don't want to hear any complaints about the movie industry not being supported by the Tories, the Tories like the movies, too. So quit grouching.

I've got to say that I am already impressed with the Peter Kent campaign; they have been spending the last several months campaigning and meeting people. In fact they're doing a lot more than a lot of other campaigns in Toronto, from what I can tell. If they end up going down to defeat it won't be by lack of trying. My own connection to St. Paul's riding is entirely from the John Tory campaigns. When Tory ran for mayor he had his main campaign office in the riding on the corner of Yonge and St. Clair.

I am also told the John Capobianco team has a new campaign office ready to go in Etobicoke-Lakeshore and that it will be bigger and better than the last one, with more free parking.

Well, it's pretty clear the government is going to fall on Monday unless the Liberals are able to bribe about 20 or so people to cross the floor and join the Liberal Party, and I don't think that's going to happen. The Tory motion of non-confidence has been seconded by the NDP and has pretty strong wording condemning the government and all its corruption and politicking. I also think the Liberals aren't going to prorogue Parliament or do any of that, they're going to take their chances and try and blame the opposition for the timing of the election. I read that David Kilgour plans to vote to defeat the government on Monday, too. It's over, folks.

The only question in my mind is whether Paul Martin will allow Parliament the satisfaction of bringing down the House- he could walk over to the G-G and resign and call an election before it happens. That would be one last parting shot by him, to deny the opposition the opportunity of gloating for a day. It would also backfire because it would mean Martin would be held entirely responsible for settting the date for the election. No, I think we're going to see the big vote, and see people stand up and clap Ed Broadbent who is leaving and some of the other MPs who are leaving- I think the Tories are going to stand and applaud John Reynolds, who is not running again.

This week the federal Liberals having been going around the country spending massive amounts of money and offering goodies to every interest group imaginable, and that has bombed with the public. Even the TV reporters are talking about Ralph Goodale handing out the Liberal "goodies" to people and it's obvious to me these reporters are cynical about all of this and not falling for the line of bull that this was all pre-planned. People are finally seeing through the Liberals and are finally cynical of their motives.

I think the public is finally seeing that Martin and the gang are out for power, they're out for themselves. They seem quite blatant in rounding up the usual cattle to go to the polls and vote for them. That's where they're sending all this money, to help immigrants to Canada and to assist these students and other such folks, the usual people. Then these same people are rounded up off the street like cattle to vote for the Liberals. You would think if there's one thing that voters in this country are fed up with by now, it's being treated like cattle. This spending spree is going to the usual interest groups who all vote Liberal. As they say in the USA, this is all "pork".

There's a big feeling that it's a time for a change, yet there's also discomfort with Stephen Harper. Still, I think it will be easier for Harper this time. I think people are wise to the Liberal playbook by now, it will be up to Harper's team to take advantage of this shift in their favor. What worries me is that the Liberals may try the smear campaign again. Already they want to sue Harper for referring to them as "organized crime", this after Harper threatened to sue after Scott Brison said Harper broke the lobbying rules and didn't register as a lobbyist. Of course, there was a reason why Harper didn't register as a lobbyist: he wasn't a lobbyist to begin with! Brison had to apologize for that and also he got in hot water for telling some campaign volunteer to "kiss my @$$." If voters in Kings-Hants send Brison back to Ottawa again they should be ashamed of themselves, this guy is a big embarrassment.

Anyway, back to watching football for me, this is the Week of Football, in both the USA and in Canada. Go Huskies (they play next week).

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

KOPPEL'S LAST NIGHTLINE OVER

And now I feel guilty about never watching his show over the years. I should hang my head in shame. I should send back my journalism degree to my alma mater in disgrace. (I've also committed awful journalistic crimes like getting into politics. So I really should send back my degree, I'm a disgrace to the profession.)

Anyway here's Ted Koppel's last parting thought. As for that quiz that Koppel gives his interns- who was Eric Sevareid, who was Howard K. Smith, etc. etc.- for the record I would have nailed it. I would have nailed that silly quiz and really impressed Ted Koppel.

If Koppel wanted to be really tough on his interns he could have asked them about John Cameron Swayze and Douglas Edwards, too. Or Frank McGee, or even Jessica Savitch. But I guess he wanted to take it easy on them. Good grief, nobody knows their TV history these days.

I liked how Koppel said "give the new team a break" or else you'll soon be watching Jimmy Kimmel or something at 11:35, hee hee hee. That should silence these critics waiting to roast the new anchor team. (Martin Bashir; good God.)

As for the era of the old-style anchors being over--- well, I forgot. Jim Lehrer's still here. So life is still good, you can always watch PBS.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

KOPPEL'S LAST NIGHTLINE TONIGHT

Well, a reminder to myself to tune in to the last Nightline with Ted Koppel tonight.

Otherwise I'm sure to forget and tune in David Letterman instead as I usually do. See my bitter rant below about how I never watch Nightline, etc etc. As I say, blame Johnny Carson, he's the main reason I never watched Nightline.

I probably should've shown some class and praised Koppel and what a great show he had, and about how the last big giant of broadcast TV news is leaving. But I just had to react to these arrogant, highbrow, elitist TV critics who thought Nightline was so great and so on, and how television will never be any good without Ted Koppel, and how Nightline is going to go tabloid after he leaves, and bla bla bla. All this nonsense. I was sick and tired of hearing it and sick of reading about it.

The truth was that Koppel was taking as many vacations as Carson was near the end. It's about time Koppel left, it's so obvious he wants to do tons of documentaries. In fact, it won't be long before he'll be back on the air with his documentaries over on HBO or whereever they're going to run. And then these same critics will go gaga about how "Koppel is back." Come on, gang, quit with your crying about the sad state of television news and how things are getting worse now that Koppel's leaving. Koppel's not leaving forever, he's coming back, soon. He's going to be doing documentaries. Enough whining.

And it's not as if the show's ending! Heck, it's coming back tomorrow night with new hosts and a new set! So, enough with the bellyaching already. Koppel's leaving, but the show is NOT cancelled. That's the one thing Koppel fought long and hard for, to keep this show on the air at 11:35 PM on ABC, and well, he succeeded. These critics ought to be celebrating the fact that the folks at ABC didn't replace this show outright with entertainment like the rest of these networks.

Now, I will show some class and mention one good thing that Nightline did re: baseball. Remember that Al Campanis interview, where Campanis put his foot in it and said that blacks didn't have the necessities to be baseball managers? Koppel challenged him on that and rightly so. And Campanis got fired by the Dodgers for saying this rubbish on Nightline, and major league baseball went and made some changes because of this and Jesse Jackson and the rest of them got involved. That was one good thing this show did, it forced baseball to look itself in the mirror. There, I finally said something good about the show. Bye Bye, Ted.

Monday, November 21, 2005

WHY I NEVER WATCHED NIGHTLINE

You know, I run this blog that talks about TV news a lot, and I did TV news and this big internship in a national newsroom at one point in time, so I ought to sit here and praise Ted Koppel like the rest of them.

I wish I could rant and rave about how much I'll miss Koppel. But I won't. It says a lot for my preferences in TV that I actually prefer Dave Letterman every night to Ted Koppel. It also says a lot that I prefer Stanley Cup hockey to Peter Mansbridge, and that I don't get upset when the National gets pre-empted by quadruple-overtime playoff games. What it comes down to for me is that I'm very interested in pop culture and particularly these big personalities. So I gravitate to shows that are heavy with interviews and pop culture references. That's why I ended up watching Letterman- because I love watching talk shows. I also tune in Larry King and to these radio hosts like Don Imus. Doesn't matter whether the personalities they interview are from entertainment or politics or wherever, I'd rather tune in to that than watch a hard-news show, even one like Nightline that has a lot of interviews with people.

That's probably the best explanation why I never became a fan of Nightline. It's surprising that I never became a regular Nightline viewer, because I consider myself a bit of a news junkie. Even as a kid I watched a lot of news, so this show ought to have lured me in as a loyal viewer. But this particular show dropped the ball with me in a lot of ways, starting with the awful time slot opposite Johnny Carson, and then Letterman.

The absolute reason Nightline never lured me in to be a regular viewer is because they didn't do a good job at showing stories that I wanted to see, period. It was more about what the Nightline people wanted to show to the closed-off club that was their audience. There was a take-it-or-leave-it quality to Nightline, it was not a "populist" show in any way. If you didn't like their high-quality journalism, something was obviously wrong with you; that's the sense I got from watching them. Even when they covered OJ you could sense their hearts weren't in it, that it was somehow beneath them.

As it turned out, this attitude was enough to drive me away most nights. I only tuned in on those occasions when they had a show on that had a topic that I cared about, like the end of the USFL or the rise of tabloid TV shows- those are two that I remember. When war broke out I tuned in, and I also tuned in during Katrina. I made a point of tuning in on primary nights in the USA. I guess this show really lost me the night it decided to not cover the political conventions. There was the day that not much happened at the convention and NIGHTLINE decided to take a stand about how it was all PR and not real news. So they decided to do a show on something else that had nothing to do with the convention, just to make a point.

Fine, but I was a political junkie and that was one night when I would have wanted to see something connected to the convention on TV, even if covering it was a boring waste of time. In fact I remember I tuned into Jay Leno instead, on the other channel. Keep in mind I'm not a big Leno fan, in fact I hate his show, but he did more political stuff that week than Koppel did. So I felt let down by Nightline. That one night symbolized, for me, everything that was wrong with the show. I strongly feel Nightline talked down to people and had an agenda too often. It told you what they thought you ought to know instead of what you really wanted to know.

It also rarely made a point of following the juicy stories that everyone was talking about at the water cooler. For those you were far better off listening to these hosts making jokes on TV. Where were you more likely to hear about those lesbian Carolina Panthers cheerleaders who got arrested? Ted Koppel's show? Or Dave Letterman? I can tell you for a fact that Letterman has been talking about it all the time, laughing with the rest of America. Case closed. Of course, this was the exact reason why all these critics loved Koppel and his show: because it was above this stuff. Nightline thumbed its nose at these types of populist stories and therefore was considered a real news show. Yet these same stories happen to say a lot about life in America.

Bottom line is I never became a regular Nightline viewer even though, as a news junkie, I really should have. Heck, I tuned in Barbara Frum every night on CBC for years, even though I couldn't stand her; there's no reason why I shouldn't have done the same with Koppel, when you think about it. But there were a lot of small reasons why I never became a big fan of Nightline.

I guess this rant is simply a big explanation on my part about why I wasn't hooked on the show. Certainly Koppel represented a certain style of journalist who had high standards, and that is definitely something that will be missed. It truly is the end of an era for broadcast journalism. The last of the old-style anchors is leaving. I'll probably tune into his last show, for once.

LAYTON'S MOTION PASSES

Well, Jack Layton's goofy resolution that Parliament be dissolved in January for a February vote has been approved by Parliament. But the Liberals are going to ignore it.

Well, so much for Paul Martin and his promises to eliminate the "democratic deficit", and make the PM more accountable and provide more free votes and so on, because all he seems good at doing these days is ignoring Commons motions calling on him to resign and/or call elections. What a bunch of baloney, all his "democratic deficit" talk. Someone should call him to account on all this in the coming election campaign and should trash Martin for failing to keep his promise on the democratic deficit. That was the reason Martin was supposed to have been elected in the first place, to clean up the mess left by Chretien. To be a new government without being a new government. Well, that argument is in the trash bin, we all know that. All Liberals are the same.

Next step is for Stephen Harper to bring a motion of non-confidence to the House and that will happen Thursday.

The government is going to spend the next week and a half criss-crossing the country making spending announcements and otherwise bribing the public with their own money. Aren't people supposed to be tired of this? Didn't Ernie Eves get defeated in 2003 for something like this- people accused him of bribing the public with their own money, too, with the tax cuts and benefits they were proposing in their platform. I don't get it.

By the way, what's with the craziness in Israel? Prime Minister Ariel Sharon did a Belinda and quit the whole Likud party, and dissolved the Knesset and called early elections, and he's formed a new centrist party that favors the Gaza pullout to fight in the next election. Talk about a bizarre situation over there.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

NASCAR DONE, FINALLY

Could there possibly be a longer season than NASCAR's?!

Everyone complains about the NHL season being too long, but NASCAR has to take the cake. They start in Daytona in February and run, well, all year and way past the point of anyone still caring. Here it is November, it's cold outside, nobody cares about these bums anymore, all they care about down in the deep South is football. And yet it's still "boogity boogity boogity let's go racing" with the NEXTEL CUP "Chase".

Well, I can gladly say now it's OVER. Ill-tempered racing bad boy Tony Stewart wrapped up the Cup today in Homestead, Florida, in the final race of the season. NASCAR is officially done, at last.

It's too bad the auto racing season is over but let's face it, it's about time it ended.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

THE BEST OF CANADIAN TV GETS THRASHED BY THE LEAFS

Well, Saturday nights are a weird TV night in Canada. It's the one night of the week when you can expect to see actual Canadian productions on prime time TV on Canadian television.

The rest of the week the private TV nets in this country airs American rebroadcast after American rebroadcast, in the exact same timeslots on the same nights. Every night, Canadian television looks just like American TV. But for some reason Saturday has turned into a sanctuary where Canadian networks run lots of CRTC-mandated Canadian content. CTV and Global know that shows like The Eleventh Hour and Zoe Busiek: Wild Card are going to get no ratings the rest of the week, but the government tells them they have to run Canadian shows somewhere. So these networks have taken advantage in recent years of the fact that Saturday night is an open night with very few good American programs available to air to begin with, so they're free to fill the time with plenty of Canadian stuff in addition to their usual American offerings.

They also know that no show will beat Hockey Night in Canada. Not even an American one. Besides, TVO runs Saturday Night at the Movies and that is a must-see for movie buffs, so basically the entire audience is GONE for these networks. These TV executives figure if they're going to lose, they might as well lose big. Why even try. So they regularly stick Canadian TV shows there to die against hockey, then they can brag to the CRTC about what good citizens they were and about how much time they devoted to Canadian programs in prime time. Then maybe the CRTC will get off their backs about how much more money they should spend on the TV production industry in this country. That's the reasoning.

It is therefore fitting that tonight, on this most Canadian of nights for TV in this country, we get the Gemini Awards on Global TV, celebrating excellence in Canadian TV. And we can say with certainty who the biggest winners were. No, not Corner Gas, not The Eleventh Hour, not even Kevin Newman.

No, the biggest winners were the Toronto Maple Leafs, over on CBC, who beat the Geminis to a pulp... not to mention the Atlanta Thrashers, who they beat, 5-1. They should've just given all their awards to the Leaf players and gone home, no one cares about these TV awards.

I guarantee you, no one tuned in to this Geminis show. Why? Because this is Canada.

CALIFORNIA GETS MORE LAWYERS

Irony of ironies, on the same day that the Robert Blake civil jury came back and found Blake responsible for his wife's death to the tune of $30 million, the bar exam results came out in the state of California.

Here's an interesting blog by someone who took the bar exam in California and passed it. Looks like a lot of people in California did a lot of celebrating, although knowing how brutal that bar exam is ( massive failure rates etc.) there must have been a lot of people wanting to crawl under a rock or wanting to kill themselves. The two toughest bar examinations in the United States are in California and New York. In both states you have to shell out tons of money for BarBri and hope you are able to give the right answers over 18 hours worth of exams without zonking right out.

I can sort of relate because I took the bar exams in Saskatchewan, and even though the pass rates were high, those were still brutal. In fact, it's worse to fail the Saskatchewan bar exams because failing is total humiliation, the pass rates are so high. I heard of one person who had articled at the biggest firm in the province, and she had to resign in disgrace the day the results came back. I heard the exams have gotten tougher in Saskatchewan, with more failures happening. Good grief, they were tough when I took them, how could they have gotten worse!?! There were three exams over three days there, and you needed to pass all of them. You had to study like mad, just to avoid being the one person who failed. Given what I had to go through I find it hard to believe they could be any tougher.

Writing the bar exams was just a terrible experience. Looking back it's obvious my mind was not on the exams. I had just gone through a terrible articling year and was extremely worried about my future in the profession. What point was there to writing these exams if I had no future in the legal profession to begin with?! So it was very tough. I didn't do any wild celebrating when I passed, mainly because passing the bar didn't feel like much of an accomplishment after what I'd been through. Maybe I should have celebrated or something, but I was too drained.

Relief is more like it. That's what a lot of people in California must be thinking today.

UPDATE: Here's another pass-the-bar-blog from California, Legal Insanity.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

MARTHA'S APPRENTICE SHOW: GOOD RIDDANCE

Here's a piece by Bill Brioux in the TO Sun, another Martha Apprentice obit.

I gotta say this show has been embarrassing all season long, a completely lifeless show with embarrassing contestants. Martha's boardroom sessions (er, I mean "conference room" sessions) have been either laughable or sad, depending on the mood. The big problem is that the firing process on her show has sent lots of people packing for flimsy reasons; meanwhile the real deadwood are still going strong. Why is Jim still there given all the losing teams he's been on? And Marcela, who can't lead a team to victory and has no skills besides being a cook!? Betheny should have been fired LAST week for her terrible leadership, why is she still here? Mediocrity is rising to the top on that lousy show.

One of the contestants complained on last night's show that you could never figure out what the heck Martha was looking for. It seemed awfully frustrating for the contestants to go through this process with people fired apparently at random. I don't even care anymore who wins on that show, it doesn't matter. The show is a flop and the winner won't be back making cameos on next season's show, because there isn't one. Martha might as well fire everyone and hire nobody on the final show. It would be a fitting ending to this train wreck.

Maybe this "Apprentice" format works with one man and one show only: the Donald. He has a clear idea what he wants and a clear idea what kind of personality doesn't cut it. They're right when they say this show can't work with anyone other than the Donald on it, because he's a brash showman and quite good at making people feel small. Unfortunately, tonight, his show goes right into the deep end.

They're going to get the Apprentice contestants to write the next hit song. So the contestant on the team with the flop song is going to get fired. Man, this is a joke. You realize how fickle Americans are when it comes to music? These people might as well flip a coin to decide who goes home in the cab tonight. Someone tell Mark Burnett that these folks are trying to get a job in business, not in the entertainment industry. Some business geek is going to be fired for being clueless at music.

You wonder why Apprentice ratings are in the tank. Folks, it's ideas like this.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

CANADA'S SATELLITE RADIO OPTIONS LOOK UNINSPIRING

It looks like I am going to take a pass on Satellite Radio after all.

Well, XM Radio came out with its list of channels for Satellite Radio in Canada and I must say, it doesn't look like it's a sell for me. On the one hand its news offerings look very good. In addition to Fox News and CNBC and some other channels, they are planning something called Canada 360 which is a Canadian all-news service. And they'll be carrying Bob Edwards- that guy who NPR fired for no reason who got a new show on satellite and is helping sell XM radios. That's all good.

But I looked at the sports offerings and it doesn't look like they will have much compared to SIRIUS. They have Fox Sports Radio which I can get for free off the Internet, they have a Major League Baseball channel, and they have two NHL channels and will be carrying 1,000 NHL games. You'd think I'd be pleased with this. The problem is the American XM service carries all the Major League Baseball games- and it appears the Canadian version does not, at least not yet; all we get is a single baseball channel. Also missing from the lineup is NASCAR Radio, which is a big part of the XM lineup in the USA! It's not available in Canada!

But XM made sure the NHL was available in Canada. So hockey fans win in Canada but if you're a race fan, like me, you lose. You don't count as a sports fan in Canada unless you like hockey. I really hate it when other sports get the shaft and that's what we're getting here.

The bottom line for me is that I'm not going to waste money on XM just to hear 1,000 NHL games, and here's why. First, you can tune into NHL games for free over the Internet. Second, you can tune in games for free on regular AM Radio! In Toronto alone you can hear games for the following teams: the Leafs, Senators, Sabres, Red Wings, Blackhawks, Canadiens (in French), Bruins, Devils, Islanders, the Wild, and occasionally the Rangers, too. You're basically set. Even if they get all these baseball games on XM, you can hear baseball for free all over the AM radio dial, too, even more than hockey. So why bother paying $14 a month and shelling out money to buy a new satellite radio when you can listen to games on these 50,000-watt AM stations or on the Internet? You'd have to be a fool to pay for a product you could get for free.

The other thing I read is that Canadians who'd buy these satellite radios in the USA for cheap are apparently not going to be able to use these things in Canada. Instead, they'll have to buy a different, specially-made Canadian radio that will only work in Canada, and I heard the prices are going to be through the roof compared to what the Americans pay. I read it might be over $300 dollars! I don't know why these folks would even want to do this, up the price for satellite radios, because this sounds like a sure way not to get sales. We'll see if this actually happens or not, but if that's what we're in for, the usual soak-the-public attitude that we usually get from businesses here, they will be selling VERY few radios.

In any event, I won't pay any money for a mediocre, second-rate satellite radio product, just because it's satellite radio. What's the point of buying it--- to impress my friends!? Even if they cut prices to $99 I'm tempted to say no to both these packages, XM and Sirius, and stick to listening to EZRock and the FAN, CFRB, 680News and all the usual free stations. What's certain is that Canada is being hosed again in its programming choices. Satellite radio is great in the USA, but the Canadian version of it looks lame in comparison and certain to be a waste of money. It's obvious now that I'm going to have to pack up and move to the 'States.

I'm angry and ticked off because I was ready to purchase these things. I guess I'm still mad about the Howard Stern decision. They allow nudity and foul language on TV, and Canada allows gay marriages and all kinds of personal liberties to happen, yet Howard Stern is considered too dangerous for people to even pay to listen to! It makes absolutely no sense! You know, SIRIUS sales in the USA are going through the roof because people want to hear Howard Stern. Howard Stern is a big selling point for them. But how does SIRIUS expect to sell radios or subscriptions in Canada without Stern? These guys are going to go right out of business in Canada with no Stern.

The CRTC is DEFINITELY to blame. They're behind this Stern-not-coming-to-Canada mess. The Sirius people here all but admitted it in print. I gathered elsewhere the CRTC was going to pull the same stunt on Sirius that they pulled on Q107 when they used to air the Stern show in Toronto- they wanted the whole thing monitored and censored in advance. Except this time it was going to be an absolutely impossible task. Stern's new satellite show promises to be totally over-the-top in the offensiveness department, way worse than any of his regular radio shows, and that won't do in Canada. The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council rules and regulations were going to be applied to satellite radio, too. I read that SIRIUS decided it was too big of a headache and said the heck with it, No Stern in Canada. Well, ain't that great? We finally get satellite radio, and it gets regulated to death by the government. So the product ends up being--- regular radio. And they expect the public to want to pay for it.

These people in Canada don't get it! They don't get that customers need to have a reason to want to tune in and shell out money for this product! They think the customers grow on trees! Well, all I'll say is that we do have a choice in the matter and I think I'm going to be saying no to satellite radio- until they get their programming act together, or we get a new government. One or the other. The best way we can show displeasure with the second-rate choices on satellite radio is to not buy their product and hope people get the message, then maybe they'll do something to improve it. That's what I fully intend to do.

I don't blame XM or Sirius so much. Instead, BLAME CANADA. Freaking hockey fans.

Monday, November 14, 2005

CNBC IN THE NEWS

CNN isn't the only cable network rumored to be making changes these days. CNBC is supposed to be getting ready this week to announce some daytime programming changes and shift a few people around. What it is, we'll know about soon. But they had better not go on a firing spree like CNN did; that'll just anger the CNBC fans. And they need to keep their paws off of Squawk Box, Mark Haines and the gang. Those guys have a cult following and the network brass had better not tamper with them, or they'll get inundated with letters and petitions and stuff. Just like what is happening to CNN after the Aaron Brown sacking. I read the CNN Fan boards and the fans are MAD, swearing off CNN in droves. At least CNBC hasn't gone about targeting their long-running shows or firing their top talents, not to the same extent anyway. Anyway, they had better stay away from Squawk Box.

As for the rest of the CNBC lineup, well, I think they do have to make some changes. They need to do something. CNBC's ratings are in the toilet, the good times are OVER. During the tech boom in the 90s CNBC was booming. Everyone was watching CNBC so they could daytrade and get rich. It was even beating CNN at one point. Then the tech boom crashed and CNBC went right in the tank. Nobody watches CNBC business coverage anymore because people have no money to invest and don't want to get burned again. Especially, nobody watches their primetime talk shows, anymore, either. The CNBC primetime has generally sucked ever since Geraldo left. Now the big thing on CNBC is reruns of The Apprentice, which I guess is better than showing new episodes of McEnroe, which was cancelled. Really, I'd say it's primetime that needs to be fixed the most. Daytime, though, will be hard. It's hard to get people to tune into business news, these days, period, because the '90s are over.

But business news does get some audience: lots of traders and rich people tune in, and Fox News is hot on CNBC's tail right now with their business news coverage so people are interested in doing this sort of programming. Fox News are still planning to launch their big business news channel- whenever. I'm convinced it'll eventually happen, though. So CNBC needs to keep on its toes.

I read on TVNewser that the changes at CNBC shouldn't be too drastic, that they plan to add some big names from print to their lineup of people. TVNewser was jokingly suggesting maybe Ashleigh Banfield was being considered, hee hee. (Actually, not much of a stretch for her, because she passed the Canadian Securities Course and comes from a financial family. But why should she return to an NBC operation--- wasn't she fired?)

Anyway I noticed a story on Jim Cramer on 60 Minutes the other day. Cramer is the host of Mad Money on CNBC, one of its highest rated shows. In fact, maybe that's the direction CNBC has to go: make the business shows more wild and entertaining. Cramer seems to do just that. What I found really interesting about the 60 Minutes story was who the reporter was: Dan Rather. Seems it was his first story since leaving as anchor of the Evening News. It also looked like he sort of mailed it in; it was just Dan Rather doing a straightforward, one-on-one profile piece. Maybe he's slowing down. Or something.

Also, here's a New York Daily News story on Maria Bartiromo, aka the Money Honey.

UPDATE: Here's a story on the details of the changes, which are all happening to the morning part of the schedule. Squawk Box is expanding an hour and Mark Haines will be hosting from a new studio at the NYSE during the 9AM portion of the show, and they have a new 3-person anchor team the rest of the time. Both Joe Kernan and David Faber will still be on the broadcast, which should be good news for the CNBC fans.

MARTIN SAYS NO

Paul Martin just stood in the foyer of the House of Commons and said no to Layton's election-in-February proposal. Says you can't have a halfway no-confidence motion.

You know, apparently in this mini-budget today the Martin gang are going to restore all those big corporate tax cuts that Layton previously scuttled, in addition to a lot of other goodies. So what was the point of Layton propping the government up all this time? Martin hosed him! Layton really does look like a fool.

I wonder if the government is going to fall tomorrow, now. It's obvious to me the Layton proposal is dead as a doornail without the Liberals' saying yes. And they just said no. This government is dead on its feet. So why should these bums continue to govern when it's obvious they don't have the confidence of the House? They haven't had the confidence of the House, for all intents and purposes, for at least a week.

Not that I am looking forward to an election, mind you. I just have no confidence anymore in the ability of Canadian voters to do the right thing or stand up to corruption. My cynicism with politics is through the roof. Do I really want to be part of any more campaigns, especially after what went down in the 2004 federal vote? Especially when I could sit and watch football games at home on TV?!

Arrrgh! That's my reaction.

RANTS

JACK LAYTON IS A FOOL

Well, they had that meeting the other day and what did I tell you, Layton still wants to pursue his goofy have-the-Liberals-agree-to-an-election-in-January scheme. And if they don't agree they'll pull the plug. I am now convinced this is all an elaborate attempt to get the Liberals blamed for the Christmas election. "You had an option sir, you could have chosen to pull the plug in January! But you wouldn't do it! Instead you forced a Christmas election." Bla bla bla.

And if people say this is all games, well, don't blame Stephen Harper for this (he said he would've pulled the plug on Tuesday). It's all Jack Layton's idea and all his fault. This man is holding Parliament hostage, thanks in part to the voters in the last election who went and voted for him. So really, Canada, you endorsed this.

YOU'RE FIRED

In other news, just crossed the wire that Martha Stewart's Apprentice show is ending after this season as NBC has said no to further episodes. Martha, you're fired!

END OF THE WORLD

And did any of you watch Category 7, that end-of-world TV-movie on CBS? It was shot in Winnipeg of all places. I must say, I was hoping it would be a good show, but that movie is GARBAGE, the plot is IMPOSSIBLE. The scenarios they were dreaming up for how a storm could happen were just lunacy. They were trying to say that heat from the big cities was responsible for producing big storms, but even I know the sea temperature is more of a factor to produce a really bad hurricane. And government officials were beyond incompetent in the movie. If what happened in the movie happened in real life, you can bet Anderson Cooper and Shepard Smith and the rest of them would be on the government's case big-time. This movie was a mess. Totally unbelievable.

At least it had some actresses that are really popular with the guys, Shannen Doherty and Gina Gershon. But when was the last time Gershon appeared in a production that was actually good?!A long time ago, if ever.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

BIG POLITICAL DAY TODAY IN CANADA

Well, today is a big day for political intrigue and deal-making. There's a not-so-secret meeting taking place today between Stephen Harper, Gilles Duceppe and Jack Layton to plot opposition strategy re: bringing the government down.

CTV News is reporting that Harper is planning to bring forward a non-confidence motion on Tuesday which could see the government fall this week and an election held five days before Christmas. This report is all well and good but the problem is that, ahem, CTV News has a habit of jumping the gun sometimes (hee hee hee). These guys once broke the big scoop that Lucien Bouchard kicked the bucket. Mind you, Robert Fife was dead-on when he reported the Liberals were trying to get Tories to defect during the spring confidence vote. So maybe this is an accurate story. But it looks like it's all speculation to me.

The problem as I see it is that Harper may be planning a no-confidence motion, but Jack Layton may insist on his goofy, nonsensical election-in-February plan which needs the Liberals' cooperation in order to work, or turn around and do something nutty again. It seems as if Layton isn't on the same team or even the same planet as these other two opposition leaders. So let's wait and see what happens before we declare what they are actually going to do.

I will say, though, that conservative bloggers want a no-confidence motion as soon as possible. They want the plug pulled now, and are tired of all the games. I keep reading these angry Blogging Tories and their constant ranting and raving, and they think that waiting around for a February election is just playing political games, that it's not a show of strength against the Liberals, that it will play into the Liberals' hands. They're right! Already Paul Martin is saying he's going to refuse to play any "political games" in reference to the supposed machinations about bringing about a February election date. He's making the opposition look like a bunch of political operators. So the opposition might as well call Martin's bluff and say OK, Paul, we won't play any procedural "games", either, we're bringing the house down right now! Besides, people are criticizing the plans to hold an election in February, wondering why the opposition would want to bring down the house and have an election only a few weeks before the one Martin originally proposed. It makes no sense.

Personally I think this government has to be brought down now for one reason: this opposition needs to take a stand and say it opposes what the government is doing, just to make a statement. It needs to be on record. And the government's big plans to govern till March have to be derailed, for no other reason than it would look like a big defeat for the entire opposition if they allowed them to do that. The opposition would look incompetent and ineffective, and the Liberals would get back in again. So they have to bring them down now, the opposition does, just for appearances' sake.

I happen to think, though, that people all over Canada don't want an election and don't appreciate that we are facing a situation of political deadlock on the Hill. We have a government that has alienated Parliament to the point where it no longer has the votes to govern. When the NDP is upset with the government, well, that says it all. But Canadians seem ignorant and all too willing to be herded around like cattle by the Liberal spin machine, who'll blame the election on the opposition. And then they'll be re-elected because Canadians feel inconvenienced and because people are ignorant that a political stalemate situation has developed in Ottawa.

Me, I'm not wild about an election. I'm not wild about it for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is that I'll be bombarded with offers to go door-to-door and get yelled at by hostile Liberals. I have political friends who I am sure will be on my case to help them out, but my attitude is quite ambivalent this time, because I too am fed up with elections and with politics. But I am mainly fed up with these voters who keep voting Liberal. Besides, I can't go door-to-door anyway right now. I have a bad cold and I'll be out of commission for at least a few more days. The last thing I need to do is knock on doors when I'm in this state.

The PQ leadership vote is taking place today in Quebec, so that's another big event to look out for, today. I understand they'll announce the winner on Tuesday.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

WOE IS "ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT"

Well as you know I keep following the TV ratings in the US and today comes word that Arrested Development appears to be on the chopping block yet again. How long has that show been on the chopping block? Since day one? This show is running out of its nine lives, quickly.

The show got a stay of execution last year and moved to Mondays, where the ratings have been DISMAL for the critically-acclaimed, Emmy-winning show from Ron Howard. In fact, it runs in fifth place! Now the series order has been cut from 22 to 13 episodes; worse, the show's episodes have been pulled from sweeps. I don't see how this series is going to survive this vote of non-confidence by the network. FOX has already given this show enough chances to get an audience. The critics may love the show, but it just hasn't got enough fans.

They also cut the order for Kitchen Confidential to 13 episodes as well, which surprises me a little bit because I read a report somewhere that FOX had already cancelled the show. I guess it's still on, but probably for not much longer

In other ratings news Anderson Cooper is getting bombed by Greta every night. 600,000 viewers a show. You know, I said it would happen. Why they don't hire me to run these channels and put programming on, I don't know.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

THE APPRENTICE: ON FIRE

Needless to say, this has been quite a year for the soap opera that is the Apprentice franchise on TV. The ratings are in the toilet, Donald Trump and Martha Stewart have been sniping at each other and blaming each other in print for their show's problems, and ex-contestants like loser Markus claim the editors unfairly edited them. Yet the actual Apprentice show has been better than ever. The Donald himself looks decidedly reinvigorated. Perhaps it's a desire to show up Martha; who knows. In any event the energy level has been turned up in the boardroom this year. He's created some exciting, absolutely electric firing sessions, with no one safe. He has laid into people and he's been ANGRY. This is truly the season of humiliation and mass firings on The Apprentice.

Two weeks ago he shocked everyone and fired four people, decimating the formerly-winning Team Excel. Tonight, he slaughtered Team Excel again by firing Brian and Marshawn on the spot for the debacle of a performance in their task to create a Star Wars game display. Brian's downfall was failing to get his team to a key meeting with Star Wars executives on time, stuck in heavy traffic in Manhattan. No excuse, says Trump, you're an idiot for not knowing there's traffic in New York City, you local you. You're fired! Marshawn was fired because she basically choked on the portion of the task she was assigned, the presentation portion, and had Rebecca take over at the last moment. Marshawn was promptly accused of "not stepping up," but I think she was really freaked out and afraid she'd blow the presentation and possibly get the whole team fired. She wanted someone who knew their stuff to show off the display in front of those Star Wars executives, because she knew she had no clue about Star Wars.

Now the editors made sure these two looked like total idiots tonight, as usual, but I think these two got hosed. The real reason they lost was because they were clueless about Star Wars! Give them a break, eh?! Who said that knowing Star Wars was a qualification to work in real estate?! They didn't even get any credit for taking the initiative in doing the research to try and get themselves up to speed about this Star Wars movie before they met the executives. To me, they were trying to lay the groundwork to form a strategy and have some intelligent questions to ask these execs! Instead, this led directly to their total defeat, causing them to be late in traffic. No doubt, Brian and Marshawn were probably geeks in school who had no life outside of studying, and it sunk them on national TV no less. I can relate because I was that way. I was NOT into Star Wars, either! I know, too, what a lack of comfort with the subject matter can do to your efforts, it can sabotage you. You waste all your time trying to understand what it is you're trying to get up to speed on instead of focusing on the greater task! This was the wrong task at the wrong time for both of them and they got blown up and humiliated, and for the first time all this year I felt bad for the contestants who got fired, because they really got hosed!

And it was a double-firing, another massacre. This year has turned into a season-long bloodbath. Trump obviously doesn't care if you studied hard in school or worked so hard your entire life that you missed out on the plots of these hit movies. If you ever want to apply for a job working for Trump, be sure you know about Darth Vader! Go out and watch the entire series on DVD! What a joke.

LAYTON'S GOOFY PROPOSAL

I have nothing to say about Jack Layton's bizarre plan to wrap up the business of Parliament and then have an election call in January, for a February vote. To me it doesn't look like a show of strength against the Liberals' corruption when you have a party like the NDP waffling on election timing. For another, the idea sounds unconstitutional and it even sounds like it depends on the Liberals' cooperation. Fat hope that will happen! What this proposal really looks like is an ingenious attempt by the NDP to blame any Christmas election, if it gets called, squarely on the Liberals. The NDP will be able to say "we tried to avoid it, look what good guys we were, trying to get a February election, but the Liberals won't go for it." The other thing is that there may be other procedural tricks that the opposition has at its disposal to affect election timing, such as adjourning the House to a later date. Methinks there is more to this bizarre Layton proposal than meets the eye. This is far from the end of the story, here.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

END IS NEAR, AS CHICKEN LITTLE WOULD SAY

Well, here I am back to rambling about politics.

Seems like Jack Layton is serious about bringing down the house and it looks from the reports as if the NDP is going to use November 24th as the day to put this government out of its misery.

Thank God. Finally.

Meanwhile, the headline today in the National Post is "Harper Wavers on Election." But if you look at the fine print you realize that what the Tories really want is to duck the blame for an election. What they really want is for the NDP to go ahead and bring the government down on the 24th, because if they wait until the 8th of December the Liberals will turn around and say that the Tories don't want all these tax cuts and other goodies the Grits are hoping to pork-barrel to the public, and blame the Tories for an unnecessary, unpopular election. The politicians all think it could be an election issue, and they are right.

Mark my words, this election is going to be unpopular with everyone. You think it's fun for people to go door to door and put up signs in the middle of winter? Canada remains one of the few countries in the Western world where people seemingly want to abolish elections forever. The other day the Toronto Sun had a big picture of the Grinch on the front page. The message: that the politicians are planning to ruin your Christmas by having a campaign. I'm sure it will be upsetting to some people to have their reruns of Frosty the Snowman interrupted by political ads on TV. People are genuinely annoyed at these politicians and annoyed they may have to vote. I get the impression people here could care less about democracy. They'd put up with communism or fascism, some of them! Instead of embracing their democratic rights, people regard it as a nuisance to go vote, and get all hostile at meeting politicians or receiving their so-called "junk mail" literature. It's sad when you live in a country that takes freedom and democracy for granted.

The Liberals themselves are going around complaining about all the government business that will be disrupted if there's an election. But if the government doesn't have the confidence of the House and doesn't have the votes, there has to be an election. You can't keep doing government business if Parliament views the government as corrupt and illegitimate. The air has to be cleared immediately so that real government business can resume as quickly as possible.

Anyway you don't see Americans complaining about all the elections they have. They have elections all the time, these silly Americans. They had one yesterday in a bunch of states. The Democrats won in governor's races in Virginia and New Jersey, and Mike Bloomberg won in New York's mayor's race, and there were a bunch of propositions voted on in California. But you don't see Americans going around hating politicians and hating democracy, and complaining that it's a waste of time to vote every year. Instead, they use it as an opportunity to send a message to their politicians, especially if their representative is up to no good.

Maybe the message the people of Canada are sending is: "we don't care!" If so, it's sad.

Monday, November 07, 2005

US ELECTIONS TOMORROW

This is a reminder to myself, mainly, to tune into the election night coverage from the USA set for tomorrow night. Otherwise, I'll be likely to go to a movie or something like that, and I'll end up forgetting the whole thing.

There are governor's races in New Jersey and Virginia and also a number of mayor's races going on so I'll probably tune to the coverage from C-SPAN and from the New York City stations. I think Mike Bloomberg is running again. But why should I care about these elections? These don't affect me. Then again, I've worked on big-city municipal races before so maybe that's why I care about these things. I guess I'm just a geek.

JACK LAYTON FED UP WITH LIBERALS

Did any of you read Bourque today? It says that Jack Layton is ready to pull the plug on the Liberal government. The front page says:

LAYTON'S NON-CONFIDENCE (bold headline):
As Bourque was first to report this morning, NDP leader Jack Layton has decided to pull the plug on the governing Liberals, this in the wake of last week's Gomery Report, a weekend think about a proposed Liberal health care package, various arm twists from the likes of the CAW's Buzz Hargrove and myriad MPs like Ed Broadbent and Bill Blaikie, provincial heavyweights, and ordinary NDP members from one end of the country to the other. The bombshell was let loose an hour or two later in a speech to the Empire Club. Pulling the plug on this Parliament could happen as early as November 15, or perhaps on Dec 8 during a vote on Spending Bills, leading to a Jan 16 vote day.

And it goes on. Granted, Bourque said on his site before that Peter MacKay was going to bolt to Nova Scotia, and he also had Gordon Campbell resigning, once. Mind you, it could be a bluff tactic by Layton, this speech trashing the Liberals' proposals, but Layton risks looking like some cut-rate auctioneer with all the bidding he's doing. He needs to stand on principle, for once. I hope this time Bourque's right. This Parliament and this government has to go. The Martin gang are just too power-mad.

Last week they were showing no semblance of humility or apology. Instead they were basically using the Gomery report findings as their excuse to trash Chretien and keep Martin in power. They were going around saying "look how clean Martin is, therefore Martin's the one who should clean up this mess!" They had Scott Brison go around doing his hatchet-man-for-the-Liberals routine again, and the Liberals looked like they were hard at work dreaming up new and creative ways to trash their opponents and stay in power.

Well, it's about time people took a stand against this sort of nonsense and I hope Layton will go ahead and pull the plug, because this government has had it.

NEWS IS THE STAR! RIGHT.

I have to rant again about CNN and this miscarriage of justice over there. Something about this Aaron Brown thing just isn't right, people.

And it's remarkable I'm saying this because, frankly, I'm not a big Aaron Brown fan to begin with. He's basically got this big reputation for appearing condescending on the air and for being the personification of the mainstream media. Maybe that's true. But you can't go around booting people off the news just because people may not like their personalities.

That's what's getting me about this latest CNN plank-walking. In the past I put up with their decisions to cancel "Sports Tonight" and "Crossfire" because they said they wanted to do a better job to cover the news, and that people thought these shows were garbage, and so on. But now they've gone after the help, people like Bill Hemmer and Judy Woodruff, and others. They're booting people on the street because they think that people don't want to see them on TV. Here, they don't think the problem is the show or the format anymore, they think the problem is Aaron Brown. They're basically telling the world that he's too old and unhip, and that putting a hip new anchor in at 10PM will solve all their problems.

What nonsense. I think this move of Anderson Cooper to 10PM is really odd. CNN is antagonizing all the purists, the hard-news fans and the CNN loyalists by sacking Brown and putting in this hurricane-chasing, emotive, ex-reality show host as an anchor. And they are doing nothing to attract the populist people who are glued to Greta Van Susteren. You think Cooper is going to get these Fox Fans to tune in to see him cry on TV? The Greta audience is out for blood, they want JUSTICE. What CNN needs to do (let's face it) if they are serious about winning in prime time is put on more talk shows and more stories about criminals and other lowlifes. Yet they won't do that, and insist on doing straight hard news. They say news is the star over there again, then they turn around and blame their ratings problems on the anchors who are stuck hosting their boring hard-news programs.

If they're going to stand on principle and put on hard news, that's great, but they ought to know that it won't win and should quit acting as if it will ever win with a different group of anchors or different shows. At some point CNN will have to say "hard news isn't going to win in the ratings" and figure out whether to keep their commitment to hard news. What they really ought to do is say "we're going to do hard news shows because that's what we're about," then back their anchors 100% regardless of these ratings. No more of these cancellations and firings, no more shows getting yanked off the air. Heck, even Peter Jennings knew a heavy lineup of foreign news on World News Tonight on ABC would never win in the ratings, but they went and put it on anyway because they felt it was important. Yet CNN won't back their current crop of personalities and keeps finding fault with the way they present their own news.

So now they are trying to make Anderson Cooper out to be a big saviour and their big idea of what a great reporter should be. Heck, he already had a show, at 7PM! And wasn't his show getting beat, too? By Shepard Smith? I guess that's why I'm ticked off. I'm ticked off when organizations that are supposed to be serious about covering the news turn around and get rid of good people in order to try and make a big star out of one of their other, more favored news reporters. It reeks of entertainment, such a move. And it looks like favoritism. It's pretty hypocritical.

A lot of people are comparing this to Ashleigh Banfield and what happened with her, and I must admit, that was one of my first thoughts. It just so happens that Tim Goodman happened to say the same thing in print, and also invoked the name of Arthur Kent, who, last I heard, was still rummaging around Afghanistan or somewhere like that. In Banfield's case, misguided MSNBC executives gave her this prime-time show, thinking her great 9/11 reporting work would attract young people to watch TV news. Instead, Ashleigh tanked and she was canned. CNN is using the exact same playbook with Anderson Cooper. They somehow believe his hurricane coverage has made him a big draw for young people to watch CNN, but all this move to 10PM does is make Cooper a lightning rod for the critics. Already we're hearing people call him the "Yale Geraldo" and so on. And the hurricane season is pretty much done, so the reasons to watch him now are nonexistent. His days of good press clippings are over: this guy is DOOMED.

I shudder to think of what will be next at CNN. What'll probably end up happening is the administration at CNN will get turfed, again, and then the next administation will not only trash Anderson Cooper, but go after Larry King, Lou Dobbs, Paula Zahn, and maybe even Wolf Blitzer. They'll try and hire Jon Stewart to replace Larry King, and we'll end up with CNN getting ruined for the fans. Again. CNN needs to quit making all the panic changes they always make over there. They need to quit following the MSNBC playbook! CNN should NOT want to emulate MSNBC. It needs to get back to what they were doing ten or fifteen years ago. But they don't seem to be able to do it.

Maybe they need to bring Ted Turner back. They need to bring a lot of people back.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

RADIO RANTS

Just thought I'd provide this link: www.radiohof.org.

This weekend is the Radio Hall of Fame induction and it's going to be broadcast on an American 50,000-watt AM station near you at 9PM CST Saturday. Not to be missed.

I must say that I am certainly a big radio listener and fan of the medium and I'm very well aware of the history of radio and all the rest of it. I've been reading books this week about the whole history of radio and the Golden Age of Radio, and thinking about what radio was like back in the old days. It pretty much offered what TV stations offer these days in terms of programming. I know a number of radio stations carry the When Radio Was program hosted by Stan Freberg and they rerun a lot of the old shows. CHML in Hamilton runs these old shows a lot, as does WBBM in Chicago and KMOX in St. Louis. KNX in Los Angeles had the KNX Drama Hour and they used to have old shows like "Dragnet" on. The shows were basically all from the 1940s when "network radio" was at its height. CBS and NBC were the big networks back then, in fact NBC basically dominated network radio.

These days radio is very different. "Prime time" for radio is now in the mornings and that's where you hear your favorite local morning show hosts as well as popular national hosts like Don Imus and Howard Stern. Talk radio titans like Rush Limbaugh can be heard during the day and into the night on AM, and at night you can hear a lot of sports action. These days it's all talk on the AM and all music on the FM.

The typical station is something like 97.3 EZ Rock, that station in town here that has promos featuring Leeza Gibbons. I don't know why Leeza Gibbons says she listens to EZRock- maybe she listens to it on the Internet. (I think she has a show on EZRock or something). Anyway, it bills itself as the official "at-work" radio station and plays lite rock all the time, basically the blandest music imaginable. It's the type of station you expect to hear when you go to the dentist to have your teeth pulled. At least it isn't country music, I'll grant them that. Then you have Jack-FM which has no discernable format at all! They just play crappy music all day, with no personalities. I heard they fired all their DJs, that's it's all automated. What a joke. I know a lot of the fans of old-time network radio hated it when these stations started spinning Top-40 records and ran network radio off the air, but at least these DJs on Top 40 radio had some personality. Jack-FM has NOTHING. It's a JOKE.

I still prefer AM radio. At least you stand a chance of hearing intelligent talk shows, news or sports on AM. AM is where the talk show hosts like Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham can be found, and also where you can hear radio networks like ESPN Radio and Radio Disney. Of course Don Imus and his morning show is on 660 WFAN. Overnights are a waste- they run that crazy show Coast-to-Coast on a lot of these AM stations and they talk about UFOs and are into conspiracy theories and other bizarre stuff. What rubbish. I preferred the old days when Larry King used to have a show overnights on the Mutual Network, but that ended years ago. Larry King was much better on the radio than on TV, his radio show was excellent. His television show is a joke compared to his radio work. But he gave up radio for health reasons, largely.

But still, it's not like it was in the Golden Age of Radio. It probably will never be what it was ever again. In fact there's a lot of doom and gloom out there, with a lot of people saying that radio is doomed because people are listening to music on their iPods now. Maybe they mean to say that stations like JACK-FM are doomed. Maybe radio stations will be encouraged to go out and hire some personalities, and put them on the air! That's where the future of radio lies. A lot of radio broadcasters are trying hard to do good stuff but they've had few opportunities to do that; often their hands are tied by management or even by the government. With the arrival of satellite radio there's going to be more opportunities for radio people to be creative and do good stuff.

I am really looking forward to the arrival of satellite radio in Canada and I'm trying to figure out which package to get. XM seems to have the better sports programming but Sirius has Howard Stern, and that's a big consideration for me. The big news in the United States is surrounding the coming end of Stern on regular radio and his move to satellite. The people at Infinity are replacing Stern on regular radio with Adam Carolla and... somebody. Who cares, they're going to get their heads blown off.

What I really need to find out is whether Stern is going to be allowed into Canada after his CRTC run-ins. That may be the deciding factor for me, what package I buy. Say what you will about Stern, at least he tries to do good radio. And satellite radio is bound to be an improvement over what passes for FM these days.

Personally I'm hoping for big things for satellite radio. I'm hoping we see some all-comedy channels and some groundbreaking stuff on the air. That would be worth the asking price.

UPDATE:
On second thought I don't think I'll be purchasing satellite radio at all. Way to go, CRTC. Way to go, Government of Canada.

You know what, SIRIUS just announced its lineup today for its Canadian service and there is NO HOWARD STERN. That's right, folks. HOWARD STERN HAS BEEN BANNED FROM CANADA- AGAIN.

So you can't even have any freedom in this country with satellite radio! You can't air something politically incorrect in this country without it getting banned. You can't even have the option of paying to hear it! What point is there to purchasing satellite radio if you can't hear Stern?! Another big advertisement to head to the USA in my book.

Canada, land of freedom. Sure.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

AARON BROWN OUT AT CNN

Well I noticed the TV Newser server had crashed today and I figured that maybe something big had happened, that maybe the rumors were true at CNN about them wanting to replace Aaron Brown with Anderson Cooper at 10PM, and that maybe Brown was unhappy about possibly being demoted and possibly quit/was fired.

Turns out he's GONE from the network. They moved Anderson Cooper to a 2-hour block at 10PM with Anderson Cooper 360, and they're replacing Cooper with Wolf Blitzer's The Situation Room at 7PM. All in all it's Cooper moving up in the world in this scenario, and Aaron Brown moving down- and out.

I don't get it. I don't see what getting rid of Aaron Brown accomplishes for CNN. I don't see how moving Anderson Cooper to 10PM will help the ratings. I don't tune in to see news personalities on these cable news channels; I'm not going to tune in to CNN just to see Anderson Cooper do the news! But CNN seems to bank on the notion of people wanting to tune in to CNN in prime time to watch certain news personalities, and they think putting star news reporters in hosting roles will get ratings. They claim they're even getting more ratings these days and that Anderson Cooper's the guy responsible for the increase, so he's now the saviour of the network! But that's because of all the hurricanes this year, so that's why there's been a demand for news coverage. The only reason people watch Anderson Cooper these days is because everyone knows he covers hurricanes! So when Wilma moves in they know to tune into CNN to see Cooper get blown around or tossed in the air like a piece of debris.

The only thing this move at CNN accomplishes is this: when a big hurricane hits Florida or the Gulf Coast again, we now know to tune in at 10PM to CNN to watch Anderson Cooper. But there's no other reason to watch him, as far as I'm concerned. The rest of the time he'll be getting his clock cleaned in the ratings by Greta Van Susteren, formerly of CNN. As soon as another big celebrity trial starts up Greta will run Cooper right out of a job and he'll be back to hosting reality shows on ABC.

I don't think this strategy of banking on "star news anchors" will ever beat Fox News, frankly. I know they're trying to do the "news is the star" strategy again, but it won't ever work in prime time. The rest of the day, sure. It make sense to put Wolf Blitzer on The Situation Room for three hours during the day- his competition is a bunch of news shows on Fox News and MSNBC! But prime time is different.

In prime time, people aren't generally interested in watching Anderson Cooper or Paula Zahn, or even Wolf Blitzer, all these news people! They don't want to see news people, they want personalities like Greta Van Susteren, Sean Hannity, Alan Colmes, and Nancy Grace! They want to see established talkers, not journalists! That's the one thing some of these network people don't understand at CNN or even at the Canadian networks. The consistent problem at CNN for several years is they never seem to want to go out and find real personalities from talk radio or from the fields of law or politics for their prime-time shows. They rely on their news people, and it flops! Now, the latest line of bull is they say people are tired of seeing people yell at each other on TV so they won't do "lively debate" anymore because they want to be different, and they cancelled Crossfire because Jon Stewart trashed the show on TV. So they want to counterprogram and lower the temperature and have this new strategy for covering the news, so they want to put on more dynamic news shows with news people. Fine.

But the bottom line is that whenever CNN or Fox News or MSNBC put on these established talkers, political people and people with big mouths, that wins an audience. Heck, CNN put on Nancy Grace, and she is cleaning up over there on Headline News, the other channel! And she's no newswoman either, she's an ex-prosecutor! Meanwhile the main CNN insists on shows featuring one serious news person after another, whether it's Connie Chung or Paula Zahn or Aaron Brown. Then they end up blaming the news people for the bad ratings, think the solution is to go with a different news "personality", and end up ashcanning these people. It stinks, because it's not really their fault. The producers and the decision makers are to blame for not putting on the right hit shows. They're the ones who probably should be ashcanned, not these anchors!

And the reason Crossfire was cancelled has nothing to do with the format of that show. Crossfire was cancelled because CNN refused to support the show, pure and simple. They banished that show to the afternoons when it should have stayed on in the evenings. Then Jon Stewart trashed the show and that gave CNN their excuse to dump it. But anyway, that's my two cents.

Mark my words, CNN is hyping Anderson Cooper now as their idea of a great news reporter, but you watch, when the ratings stay in the tank at CNN he'll be the next one walking the plank, just like Aaron Brown and the rest of them.