Saturday, December 31, 2005

WORST TV SHOWS OF 2005

I saw this article in the New York Daily News about the worst TV shows of 2005.

And I'm surprised because The Princes of Malibu wasn't mentioned. I thought it would be; I thought it was one of the worst TV shows of all time, let alone for the season! How easy it is to forget.

Any top 5 list of the worst shows of the year would include Britney and Kevin: Chaotic, The Will, The Law Firm (I agree- that was bad) and Hit Me Baby One More Time. As for the next 5, I would also add So You Think You Can Dance, a cheap ripoff of Dancing With the Stars. And I would even add Dancing With the Stars, becuase I just HATED that show. There was also that absolutely awful I Want to Be a Hilton piece-of-dreck show, but I think that was another one that was so bad that they forgot about it. They also forgot about mentioning either one of Martha Stewart's new shows, either. Maybe they think her shows were too good.

In addition to this junk, I would also add The Simple Life and the Jerry Springer Show to that list as well, even though they aren't exactly new shows. Average Joe was also absolutely the worst show ever, but they finally junked it. I guess the Daily News restricted their picks to the new shows that premiered this year that were terrible. There's a lot of bad television out there, though, that hasn't gotten cancelled yet. Here's a list of what I'd say are the worst TV shows on the air today.

THE CAIRNS BLOG WORST SHOWS ON TV:

The Jerry Springer Show (syndicated, named worst of all time by TV Guide)
The Simple Life (E!)
Big Brother (CBS)
Maury
The Montel Williams Show
The Tony Danza Show
Ed's Night Party (City TV) (definitely gets the Worst Show in Canada award)
Geraldo At Large (anything with Geraldo in it automatically deserves a mention)
Ripley's Believe it or Not! (Really bad TV.)
And finally, last and least, The Bachelor. Yes, it's still on, in fact it's going to Paris this year.

Amazingly there's no room on this list for Fear Factor, but I can't include that show, it's too good. The bug eating is sensational. I could've included some notoriously bad shows like that one Donny Deutsch hosts on cable, or any show Diane Dimond is a part of, or those cooking shows on the Food Network. But I don't really have the time, they're too boring to even mention.

Happy TV watching, TV fans!

ALL FOOTBALL

With a link to something really important, here's news about the Bowl Championship (!) (?) Series. Which will be really all that football fans care about in the next few days.

And, oh yeah, world's oldest teenager Dick Clark comes back tonight from his massive stroke to drop the ball on ABC. Almost forgot about that one.

NEW YEAR, NEW GOVERNMENT?

Is the Canadian election over? I've been going around some of these blog sites and the sense I get is that there is considerable panic in the Liberal Party about the way the election has been going.

I've been reading Bourque, usually a big Liberal supporter, and he's been trashing Paul Martin all week, talking about threats of people on the campaign team getting the axe and so on. Today he was ranting about a whole host of people- Frank McKenna, John Manley, etcetera- getting ready for a leadership race. And so on.

Warren Kinsella, a longtime Liberal, has also been harsh about the Martin campaign. He thinks the race is OVER and that the bottom has already fallen out of the Liberal campaign, that the last straw was this Ralph Goodale income trust leak RCMP investigation. And he thinks people are finally fed up with the Liberals' arrogance, even if the polls do not reflect it yet.

Conservative supporters meanwhile look at rants like these from the likes of Kinsella and get suspicious. They think that if the Conservatives peak too early that the "mainstream media" and all the Liberal friends will circle the wagons about the Tories and start to rant and rave, and that will get people in Ontario freaked out about the Tories enough to defeat them. So they think this is all part of the Liberal grand strategy for this election campaign.

But I look at it from a different perspective. Kinsella is a Chretienite from the Trudeau wing of the party, as far as I can tell, and so is Sheila Copps. I suspect Bourque leans the same way as well. I don't think any of them were very impressed when the Gomery report came out and the Martin gang decided to use it as another excuse to blame Chretien for the scandal and all the party's problems. Not exactly a good way to promote party unity.

I think these more progressive Liberals are genuinely mad at Paul Martin and the gang running the show with the Liberal Party at the moment, and want to see this gang defeated so that there can be a big housecleaning at the top of the Liberal Party. Then, maybe the likes of Sheila Copps and other good Liberals might feel welcome again in the party.

THE CONSERVATIVES: SMOOTH CAMPAIGN

This election has done one thing: it has exposed the divisions in the Liberal party. They're tearing each other to pieces in print and looking generally disunited. Nice to see the media start to report this.

Last election the media focused on Conservative divisions and all these upset people like Joe Clark, going on about the merger being an "Alliance takeover" and ranting about Stephen Harper. That led to a lot of news stories with confused reporters thinking the old PC party fell victim to an Alliance takeover and that the new party was basically all about pushing discredited Reform policies. That was the tone of the reporting and the tone of the Liberal campaign. These reporters were all trying to nail down the Conservative stance on abortion and official bilingualism all campaign and sowing confusion, because they themselves were confused about what the party stood for. I noticed, myself, confusion and apprehension from voters about what the Conservatives' policies were and what they stood for. Conservatives knew what they stood for but the general public did not. Joe Clark was spreading this nonsense about going with "the devil you know" and making life miserable for the Harper campaign.

But it's different this time with the Harper campaign and it's obvious to me why things are different. For one thing, all the malcontents are gone from the party. Joe Clark, David Orchard and Scott Brison are old news. Same with Belinda Stronach. In fact Stronach is still being raked over the coals for switching parties. She looks like just another power-mad individual who's out for herself, who bolted the party because she was mad that she lost the leadership race to Harper. She's just a sore loser and people recognize it.

These dissidents are history. Who cares about them. The truth is that the Conservative party is right now genuinely united. Nobody's interested in swinging any axes against the leader right now, in part because of the impressive campaign so far. People are genuinely interested in winning and booting the Liberals out of there.

Second, Harper's people actually have policies to promote this time. They had them last time, of course, but the party hadn't voted on it at a policy convention and so people thought there was a "hidden agenda". Not this time, folks. The Tories had their big policy convention and got people to vote on all the various positions in Montreal, including the controversial hot-button issues. Moreover, this campaign has seen the party push a policy a day on every policy under the sun. And the policies have been moderate enough to get people like Chantal Hebert to say in print that Harper was putting the "progressive" back into "conservative". There isn't any confusion about a GST cut or a child-care allowance. The policies are clear cut.

The other piece of good news is that the Conservative Party has completely put the boots to these foot-in-mouth people and other wingnuts, and read the Riot Act to all of them. These people have been all frozen out, and this is all good. It means when a wingnut speaks, they'll be dismissed as wingnuts and will be thrown out of the party, and it won't affect the central campaign.

That's the best you can hope for. Yesterday some campaign manager guy in Alberta going by the pseudonym of "Psycho" got the boot for saying he'd campaign for Western separation if the Liberals got in again. Thanks a lot for helping the Tories lose, Psycho. The Tories disowned his comments and booted him out on the street so fast that it wasn't even a story. But the Tories have to watch it because they are still one foot-in-mouth-disease person away from blowing the election.

I think the key so far is that the Tories have removed all semblance of confusion about their policies and what they stand for in this campaign. That's a major difference from last time and it has rescued them from all of their typical problems. It's the reason why things are far different this time from the last campaign. Whether it is enough to change the final result from last time remains to be seen. But it's clear to me the Liberals have been thrown for a loop. The Liberals were clearly banking on another typical lousy Conservative campaign---- and that strategy has been a flop.

We saw what happened in 2003 to the Ontario PCs when they relied on the perceived incompetence of Dalton McGuinty in order to win an election (Kinsella talked about this): it blew up in their faces. Same thing with the Liberal strategy of waiting for Harper to trip up. It's not working. But then again, the campaign is not over.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

TYPICAL WOODRUFF MOVE

Bob Woodruff takes over officially as co-anchor of the ABC World News Tonight next week and I read that his first assignment will be to go on the road--- to the pleasant country of Iran. Nice. Fun part of the world that is.

Here's an article from the Detroit Free Press on his upbringing in Michigan and his rise to the top. Seems he was a huge geek in school who even took classes in Mandarin Chinese, which led to his entry into the news business as a translator for CBS News in 1989. Maybe I should take Chinese classes, too. Good way to get hired.

Bob Woodruff also has a law degree from the University of Michigan and practised in New York and San Francisco as a corporate attorney for a number of years. Woodruff is the first ex-lawyer, I do believe, to anchor the evening news in the United States, a job high school dropouts were once able to get. Now even a bachelor's degree is no longer enough; you now need a law degree and several years experience on Wall Street working for name law firms before you're considered qualified to even work in hard news in even a tiny TV market!

Woodruff is one of many ex-lawyers to enter the TV news business: a motley crew that includes the rather frightening likes of Nancy Grace, Geraldo Rivera, Greta Van Susteren, Star Jones and Jerry Springer.

Other less-frightening ex-lawyers in TV news include Mark Haines (Squawk Box); Tim Russert of NBC's Meet the Press; Fred Graham, Catherine Crier and everyone else at Court TV; Jim Moret; Chris Cuomo of ABC; Erin Moriarty at CBS News' 48 Hours Investigates, CNN's Richard Quest (LL.B), and several others I've no doubt forgotten to mention. So yes, lawyers, there is hope for you outside your crummy law firms, you can go into TV. You may as well quit today.

ANOTHER ELECTION RANT

Well, here I go with another one of my periodic Canadian election rants; periodic because, well, there is more going on out there in the world than the Canadian election and I'd rather follow that. They were having ceremonies remembering the Tsunami, for example. Here, the election is deemed more important and more interesting, but I don't know why. It's the same old story with the Liberals, the same old campaign. In fact, I'm bored following it. Every night on the CBC news it's the election, yet I don't want to see any more news on the election, especially this week. They're taking the week off, these political people, supposedly. Enough already about the election, darnet.

CBC's also showing lots of hockey games these days and I'm bored with that, too. I guess I'm just bored with this country and the boring cold weather.

I gotta say, it's been a bad month on the campaign trail for the Liberals. To update you on the happenings since the last time I ranted about this boring election, a senior Liberal official Mike Klander had to resign over incendiary comments he made on his blog site about various opposition politicians, particularly Olivia Chow ( or "Chow Chow", as she was referred to by Klander's blog in being compared to a chow chow dog.)

I gotta say, if I were an NDP supporter today I'd be really upset. These Liberals were being propped up by the NDP for so many months, yet this is what you get in return from them: racial slurs about Jack Layton's wife. Slimy bastards, these Liberals. Yet the NDP are tanking in the polls because so many NDP supporters are apparently going to vote Liberal to stop the Tories. Well, so much for Jack Layton trying to "get things done" in Ottawa. Try and get something done in Parliament for your supporters and look what happens: your supporters stab you in the back, and the Liberals take all the credit for the NDP budget.

Well, that's politics in Canada for you. Tough luck, Layton; Ottawa isn't Toronto City Council! As for Klander, well, he's yet another "blogger" who gives all bloggers a bad name. Thanks for nothing, Mike Klander.

The other big scandal is that a criminal investiagtion is underway into that income trusts leak and the calls are on for Finance Minister Ralph Goodale to step down, at least temporarily. There was a big banner headline on Bourque today, to the tune of "Goodale May Quit". Boy oh boy, does this make the Liberals ever look bad. The last thing Canadians want to see (so they say) is chaos in Ottawa, and the Liberals are starting to look like they're in chaos. Add to that the Chretienites trying to overturn Gomery now, on charges of bias, and things continue to look grim for the Grits.

And someone at some Liberal nomination meeting in Mississauga-Erindale ( nobody knows whether the nominated candidate said it or not) said the nominee's Liberal nomination was a "victory for Islam." Compared to the other stuff that's come out, this is mild stuff.

What I wonder is whether the public is going to finally see through all this Liberal sleaze and boot these people out?! I can't believe the people of Canada would see fit to reward the Liberal Party for the way it conducts politics in this country. If they get back in, nothing is going to improve. It would just encourage all politicians of every political stripe to go the low road, and that will be good for nobody. The people of Canada say they don't want this to happen. Well why, then, do you Canadians turn around and vote for it?! It's not as if you don't have alternatives, both on the left AND right. If you don't like the Liberals but can't stand the Conservatives, well, there's always the NDP, and they haven't committed any scandals lately. Yet no one wants to vote for them, either (which is probably good news, when you think of it).

I dunno what is going to happen with this vote. From what I can tell things look positively nutty as far as the polls and the situation on the ground is concerned. Sure the Liberals have a national lead, but how much of that lead is being wasted in Toronto and in Quebec? And the polls out of BC look bizarre to me, there's no way the Liberals could possibly do better than last time, after the way they governed?! And the NDP are going to contend with massive vote-splits with the Greens. I'm convinced the Tories are going to end up doing well there, in the end.

Toronto, though, is Liberal heaven. I personally feel the Liberals are going to win Toronto by an even bigger margin than last time, if you can believe that, because the people here supposedly can't stand Harper. I wouldn't be surprised if they get 60% of the vote here, really. Outside of Toronto, I'm convinced it's a much different story and a very fluid situation. The people out there are fed up with taxes and crime. And I also hear that in Newmarket-Aurora Belinda may be having trouble, with people all mad at her for changing parties. Would serve her right if she's defeated. I hope so.

Anyway, that's enough about the election, which I'm fed up with already. Back to watching TV for me.

Monday, December 26, 2005

TURN OUT THE LIGHTS, THE PARTY'S OVER

Well, this is the night: the end of Monday Night Football on ABC. Next year the package heads to ESPN.

And I say this isn't right, folks. Monday Night Football should not be on cable TV, you should not have to pay to see it. It ought to be free to the masses. Then again, I live in Canada and for most of these past 36 years the only way you could watch Monday Night Football most of this country was to subscribe to cable TV to get ABC. Question now is whether TSN is going to pick MNF up. They carry the WWE on Monday nights and it's a big winner for them. Heck they ought to pick it up, they're part-owned by ESPN. Besides, wrestling's not a sport.

Which leads me into my next rant: there is no doubt who is to blame for MNF leaving ABC: Vince McMahon. If Monday Night wasn't such a big night for the WWE on TV, ABC would never have let go of Monday Night Football. The WWE was just stealing young audiences away, and I guess it wasn't worth it for ABC anymore, because it was cutting into their ratings and revenues. Football was just becoming too expensive for them to do.

I suspect the affiliates were also complaining about their late local news being pre-empted all the time by football, as if people at home care that coverage of crime, car crashes and fires is being delayed. Plus, ABC had that controversy with that Desperate Housewives promo last year, with Nicollette Sheridan towel-dropping in front of Terrell Owens. That got ABC inundated with complaints from the religious nuts and other boring people. I guess they said who needs it, we can't even cross-promote our shows without getting into trouble. Besides, Monday Night Football has sucked for years, ever since Cosell left. They've made some bad decisions with some of the talent(?) they hired in the past few years. It got to the point where it cost too much for Disney to run football on both ESPN and ABC, so they decided to drop the ABC portion of it and moved MNF to ESPN, and overall they figure to save millions of dollars.

But they can kiss their ratings goodbye. This is the best thing to happen to NBC, as it takes over ESPN's Sunday games. Ironically, the NFL on NBC will go head-to-head with Nicollette Sheridan and all those other silly Desperate Housewives on Sunday nights now, and they will kill ABC. That is my prediction. Losing NFL football in the first place is one of the big reasons why NBC is the number-four network right now, and football will be one of the reasons it comes back. CBS got killed when it lost the NFL rights to FOX and only came back to full strength when the NFL returned. Think of all the Survivor seasons that got launched after the Super Bowl. You need the NFL and these Super Bowls on these networks so you can promote your big shows.

Interestingly, NBC is going to name it "Football Night in America." Gee I wonder if they had "Hockey Night in Canada" in mind when they got the name for it. What else is this broadcast going to have, "Coach's Corner"? (John Madden is going to be part of the broadcast, incidentally.)

Anyway, tonight will bring back a flood of memories for football fans. Of Frank Gifford. Dandy Don. Cosell. They'll remember the great moments for the show: Bo Jackson. Earl Campbell. All those Raiders wins. There was the night this year when they raised the money for Katrina survivors. And so on.

They'll also remember the sad moments. Like the night Howard Cosell broke into Monday Night Football to announce that John Lennon had been killed. There was also the night when Joe Theismann got scrunched, sustaining a career-ending injury on Monday Night.

Then there were the just plain bad moments. Who can forget Dennis Miller. Or Lisa Guerrero (serious female sports reporters still can't get over her). Or Don Meredith singing "turn out the lights, the party's over?" Let the record show that one of the people who worked on Monday Night Football was O.J. Simpson. You know, even the embarrassing moments for this show are going to be looked back on with fondness. Monday Night Football was and always will be a part of American life. Heck, in its last season on ABC it still managed to beat baseball playoff games on FOX.

NEW YORK JETS: FITTING END

I suppose it's fitting that tonight's game involves the crummy, last place, embarrassing New York Jets, because that about sums up this series for you. Not all the games have been good and tonight's game promises to be a complete clunker. The useless Jets host the New England Patriots in what truly is a nothing game for these teams, and I doubt the fans at home would watch this matchup otherwise. The only reason to watch it is because this is the last Monday Night game for all time on ABC. I guess the other reason is because longtime Jet Vinny Testaverde is going to retire, probably, but otherwise this is a mismatch.

The Jets, with future announcer Joe Namath at QB, were the first losers on Monday Night Football (31-21 to Cleveland in 1970), and they were also involved in the biggest comeback ever, their 40-37 victory over Miami in 2000. I remember that night well: I had finished my shift at Headline Sports thinking the Jets were done, they were so far in the hole, then when I got home I turned on the TV and found out they were going to win the game! The Jets, also, have gone the whole entire length of the MNF series without winning a Super Bowl, or even playing in one. They truly are suffering the curse of Monday Night Football. Maybe the move to ESPN will do the Jets the world of good, because they've stunk for the entire run of this show.

It's also interesting that the Patriots, of all teams, are on the final Monday Night Football broadcast because for a lot of years Monday Night Football wouldn't show them. The Patriots' fans were so rowdy and got so drunk on Monday nights that the Patriots decided these fans were too big of a headache, so they refused to play any night games in their stadium for a lot of years. The other reason ABC didn't want to show them was because the Patriots used to stink for years. ABC wanted to show the Cowboys, the Raiders, the Steelers and the Dolphins... any team but the lousy Pats.

Anyway, the Patriots are probably going to crush the Jets tonight, and that will be it for Monday Night Football on ABC.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

MARTHA HIRES APPRENTICE TONIGHT, FINALLY

Thank God Martha's awful Apprentice show is ending tonight. I gotta say, this show SUCKED. Compared to Trump's show there was no comparison. This show was boring, contrived and silly. The height of silliness came when they decided to keep around this maniac contestant Jim, even though it was obvious he could never be hired. Jim was actually quite devious and entertaining, and one of the most memorable players ever to appear on the Apprentice shows, period. In fact, he was the only reason to watch Martha's show in my book. He had this strategy of trying to get all the stronger players fired so the weaker players could stick around and, well, all I will say is it worked. It worked bigtime. Martha's ending up with a very mediocre Apprentice tonight, thanks to all the people Jim helped get fired.

One time Jim made ape noises and acted like a chimpanzee just to throw off his type-A competitors and disarm them. Jim was a wild man but he was worth following, just to see what would happen next. He did well enough in his tasks to deserve to stick around, but there was no way Martha Stewart was going to hire this complete lunatic with his "strategy" for winning the job. He was just too strange for these uptights. After he was fired last week the only reason to tune in the show was out the window. The rest of the contestants are basically dullards.

It was just bad TV. And the grand prize is you work for an ex-con. Now, that's funny. You'll be learning business lessons from someone who just got out of jail. I just hope this new Apprentice isn't too dedicated to her job learning business from Martha, or else she's going to end up behind bars, too, eventually! ( Of course, the perfect ending for this series is a double-firing, because this show is So Cancelled. But that isn't likely to happen. )

People are still talking about last Thursday's stab-in-the-back Apprentice show when Randal trashed Rebecca's chance at an Apprentice job by refusing to agree to a double-hire. There is now a petition going at firerandal.com to get Randal fired for the classless, jerk stunt he pulled last week. The folks at Jump the Shark are citing Randal's hiring as a jump-the-shark moment for the show, though not yet up there with the infamous 3-hour Apprentice 2 finale with Regis Philbin that everyone thought was a massive train wreck. But the finale with Randal came pretty close.

But a lot of people are calming down now and realizing that Randal probably won fair and square anyway, that there is no big scandal here, that Rebecca didn't win any freaking tasks, and that the whole rest of the cast basically didn't like her, save for her best friend Toral. On the final task Rebecca didn't raise any money at her event. Isn't the theme song for the show "money, money, money, money?" And she didn't make any! She LOST, fair and square, to this Randal jerk.

Still, Rebecca isn't going home empty-handed. She has at least two job offers, one of which is from YAHOO! Seems the yahoos over there were so impressed by her handling of that big-shill-for-Yahoo!-charity event that they offered her a six-figure job. The YAHOO! execs got to appear on TV during the finale and looked like heroes for contributing $100,000 to these charities, and got lots of face time on TV, thanks to Rebecca's cowtowing. The YAHOO! people got out of this exactly what they wanted, a load of publicity. In the end, then, Rebecca did a great job--- for YAHOO!.

Best of all, she doesn't have to work for the Donald. I say the big winner of this Apprentice show was Rebecca.

BABES WITH SUITCASES

Deal or No Deal won its time slot on NBC the last two nights; question now is whether it has staying power. Weakest Link sure didn't. It got good early numbers in the USA but people got fed up with the cranky host Anne Robinson in a hurry, and it soon reverted to all-star contestants every week.

I think NBC learned its lesson from ABC's overkill of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, which was aired practically every night and which soon turned off the audience. I don't think this show will be seen every night, but it will definitely be back. By the way, Deal or No Deal is actually a Dutch show in origin and was originally produced by the same people who thought up Big Brother. This show also airs in places like Italy, France, India, you name it.

One factor in its success will undoubtedly be the babes with the suitcases. I predict these women are going to become really popular. Back in the 1980s when Vanna White became the letter-turner for Wheel of Fortune, America fell in love with her and went nuts over her. And who can forget the famous Barker's Beauties from the Price is Right- Janice and Dian and the rest of them. These women wound up with tons of, ahem, admirers. Guys tuned in to this silly game show for years, just to see Barker's Beauties.

But this isn't just 3 or 4 models on Deal or No Deal--- this is 26! This pretty much has Barker's Beauties all beat. If this show lasts any length of time, these women with the suitcases are going to be famous. They'll be as big as Barker's Beauties, the Playboy Bunnies, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, the Laker Girls, the Golddiggers (Dean Martin Show), the Pussycat Dolls, the Fly Girls (In Living Color), Bond Girls, Hooters Girls, Baywatch Babes, and other famous troupes of talented women.

Expect a spread in MAXIM, soon. (I know, I know, all men are pigs.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

THE HECK IS GOING ON WITH THE BOSTON RED SOX?

It seems like half the team has quit. Now tonight, Johnny Damon, who basically IS the Red Sox, has signed a four year deal----

---WITH THE NEW YORK YANKEES!!!!

Maybe the wild card spot isn't such a pipe dream for the Toronto Blue Jays now. Boy, the Red Sox are a mess.

DEAL OR NO DEAL

Well, the big event on TV this week is NBC's new show Deal or No Deal, a show where contestants have a 1-in-26 chance of selecting a lucky suitcase that contains a grand prize of $1,000,000. It featured all these models holding suitcases with numbers on them.

Interesting show but I wonder if the game show craze is OVER. The game shows were big with Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and then came the imitators like Greed, and the revival of Twenty-One, and The Weakest Link. But these shows are all history in prime time, they are FINISHED. Reality TV kicked them off the air. Maybe they're thinking that people are ready for a revival of the game show craze now that people are fed up with reality shows. But I think NBC's looking for cheap junk, that's what I think. This looks like a cheap show to produce and it's different from reality shows, so maybe people will watch!

They're doing this all week during the holiday season. Who knows, maybe it will become a hit for NBC and they can finally kick Donald Trump off the air for good.

Here's what I think. I think American TV can't come up with original ideas! This is yet another foreign show ripped off for the American market. Granted, this looks like a really cool show. I think the guys at home are going to like the models with the suitcases. Howie Mandel as host, though, is quite scary-looking with his shaved head. Man. Still, it's not so original.

This show was big in Australia and in the U.K. and is supposed to be sweeping the world. But it just underscores the fact that Americans can't create hit TV to save their lives anymore. The biggest, most trend-setting TV shows the world over seem to all get started overseas these days. Here's a list of the shows that made it to American TV which were basically ripped off from other countries:

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire: British
Survivor: Swedish
Big Brother: Dutch
American Idol: ripped off from Pop Idol, which was British
The Office: British
Weakest Link: British

I could go on. But it seems as if American television is becoming less American and more, ahem, international. And they're getting access to the BBC now down there, too, so the United States is basically being taken over by foreigners, culturally. That's what you get when the best local product you can come up with is Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson.

The only shows that the Americans still have a lock on creating are the cop shows. Maybe it's because the United States is the one country in the world that is overrun with crime. It's also the only country also overrun with lawyers. Anyway, Deal or No Deal is another foreign show that has landed on American turf. It just shows that American domination of the world in TV is OVER. Much different from the days when the Americans were the ones exporting all the big TV shows like Nash Bridges around the world. I tuned into a lot of international TV feeds on the Internet and a lot of these countries used to run Nash Bridges ad nauseum, for some reason. Maybe they got a good deal on the show. Anyway, things are sure different today.

A rant of a different order is--- why the heck doesn't Canada get on the bandwagon, too, and create some hit shows of our own that we can export around the world? Other countries are doing it, why not us? I know, I know, there's Corner Gas, and Degrassi, but they aren't all that huge. Why can't Canada create some phenomenal hit show like Survivor? Or Big Brother? That's what I want to know. (I know I know, they tried The Lofters.)

Monday, December 19, 2005

TUCKER CARLSON OPENS HIS MOUTH ABOUT CANADA, INSERTS FOOT

I have a friendly piece of advice to any Americans out there, particularly you political pundits and government-type people who want to rant about Canadian politics and our inept government's policies.

SHUT UP.

Now here's a story on Tucker Carlson's insult, calling Canada a "retarded cousin". Ouch. Thanks for nothing, eh, you loser? Cross-border relations take a hit, yet again.

CANADA HAS TUNED OUT THE ELECTION

Well, I guess I ought to junk this CAIRNS BLOG as a political blog, soon, because the political coverage here is ZERO these days. And for good reason: no one cares about the election. I wish people would care, I want people to care, but they just don't.

In talking to people I find a number of themes come up pretty often: (1) it's Christmas and it's a bad time to focus on politics, and (2) all politicians are the same anyway and there are better things to do than listen to them yell at each other.

This explains why the polls haven't moved much since the election was called. Sure, the Conservatives have been setting the pace on policy, and sure, the Liberals have run a terrible, gaffe-ridden campaign. It's been one day after another of bad news for the Liberals. One day it's income trust investigations, the next day it's a fight with the Americans. The whopper last week was the remark by Scott Reid that the Conservatives' promised child care allowance would be wasted on "beer and popcorn".

Now there's another story out there of wheels falling off a vehicle the Liberals used at some campaign event. Now, that's embarrassing! These types of stories get other parties defeated at election time. Yet the polls say the voters want to re-elect these utterly mediocre fools and let them keep running this country into the ground.

In fact I heard that nobody even bothered to watch the debates. Only about 1/3rd of Canadians tuned in. The rest went Christmas shopping, watched hockey games on TV, or went to see King Kong, among other things. I was at a big shopping mall just before the English debate started and actually had to race out of there so I could watch the debate on TV. I can tell you this: that mall was jam-packed and the people there looked like they were in no rush to get home to watch an English debate on TV. They didn't freaking care, these fools.

It's typical Canada. Temperamentally, Canada hasn't changed in over 200 years. They don't get up and do something about arrogant, bad treatment from their governments. They just sit on their hands and do nothing, and then they whine about it! Pathetic.

I notice a lot of campaigns are definitely in low-gear mode right now. A lot of campaign offices only started opening in the last week. Not exactly a sense of urgency. I find it a little surprising that people are so disorganized. I'm convinced nobody expected this election to happen on either side of the aisle. Anyone who thinks this election timing was all planned by the opposition parties is definitely on drugs, that's for sure.

I wouldn't take the polls seriously. So the polls aren't moving; big deal. Nobody is into this election right now, not even the local campaigns! And who can blame them. Anyone out there campaigning and going full steam ahead on this campaign trail is really wasting their time.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

SQUAWK BOX CHANGES MONDAY

As I mentioned here before, changes are coming Monday to CNBC's Squawk Box. They are moving Mark Haines to the 9AM hour to host Squawk on the Street; the other three hours will include more face time new anchors Becky Quick and Carl Quintanilla. Joe Kernan and David Faber will still be part of the broadcast as well. Here's the story from USA Today.

I have mixed feelings about the changes to Squawk Box, because I happen to like that show and the whole daytime CNBC lineup. I've been a fan of CNBC, and business news coverage in general, for many years. I guess CNBC figured it was getting killed in the ratings so it had to do something. They have Bloomberg TV and even Fox News breathing down their necks in business news coverage. Both rivals offer a very different approach to business news than CNBC. Bloomberg gets a lot of cudos for a dead-serious approach that concentrates on breaking news and information, while Fox News' energetic business coverage is in-your-face and opinionated (Neil Cavuto). Both approaches have their fans and have been drawing viewers away from CNBC's middle-ground approach. I think Bloomberg TV is supposed to be ahead of CNBC in New York City these days, or something like that. I don't know if that's a true story or not, but I do know that channel has made a lot of gains.

I get the sense that CNBC is now inching closer towards the Fox News model; they're adding some more opinion in the morning, plus they have the absolutely manic wild man Jim Cramer. I think they realize they need to be ready to defend themselves against Fox News and their plans to start up their long-rumored new business news channel, because Fox News isn't likely to steal the Bloomberg TV fans away. Nope, Fox Business News will ultimately go after the folks who like their financial news to be entertaining, so they're after the people who watch CNBC.

No wonder CNBC has to bet its hat on Jim Cramer! Cramer's ratings are quite good, by the way, he's the number one show on CNBC. People tune in because he's a maniac and he's smart. He throws chairs around on the air, but at least you might learn something that can make you money.

That's where I see this going with CNBC and no wonder they're making these sorts of changes now, so they are ready for a big fight with Fox News.

Friday, December 16, 2005

HOWARD STERN LEAVES TERRESTRIAL RADIO

Today was the last Howard Stern Show on regular radio. Howard had a triumphant rally in New York and here is a story on his final show.

By the way I'm watching the English debate and boy this is really boring. They aren't interacting with each other at all. It's BOOOORING.

MORE ON LAST NIGHT'S APPRENTICE TRAIN WRECK

I still can't get over last night's Apprentice 4 finale and here's an article on what went down last night on that contrived piece of nonsense that was the final show.

You know, it was rumored for awhile that Trump was going to pull off a surprise end this season with a double-hire, after all the mass firings and double-firings of this season. It was so obvious he was tipping his hand. He was saying over and over "we've got two stars" here, and he was readying to make both The Apprentice.

But boy, did Randal ever ruin that plan by saying there should be only one Apprentice. I think maybe he knew of this potential plan and was determined not to let it happen, thought it might be an insult. So Donald offers Randal the job and asks Randal what he thinks about offering Rebecca a job too, and Randal sticks the knife in Rebecca. I gotta say: Randal was a jerk. This was not a classy move on his part. It screwed up the feel-good ending to the show that Trump had planned! But you know, this is a reality show. Maybe Randal felt Rebecca didn't deserve it or was going to steal his moment of glory. I dunno, but he looked like a big egomaniac.

Randal's victory had to have the shortest-lived honeymoon period, ever. Now he looks like a jerk for all time for screwing Rebecca out of a job. Way to go, eh? You big jerk. I'm sure he isn't going to last long with Trump now. Whatever goodwill he had going for him is up in smoke.

As for Rebecca, I don't think the fired Apprentice candidates liked the idea of her getting the job, any job. I get the sense that the fired Apprentice contestants weren't thrilled with these rumors of a double-hire. It was made evident from so many of them endorsing Randal over Rebecca for the Apprentice job. The contestants made their strong feelings known on national TV and it looked to me, watching, as if there was lingering resentment towards Rebecca and over what happened during this whole process. I think many of these contestants felt they worked like mad but had been sandbagged for no good reason, while Rebecca got a free pass. Alla in particular trashed Rebecca on national TV and exposed herself as a bitter, big jerk with her rant. Wow. What a bitter woman Alla is. Alla was complaining Rebecca contributed absolutely nothing.

Talk about sticking a knife in the back. Classless individual.

All I will say about this year is that this was The Year of the Jerks. Not only does the winner Randal turn out to be a jerk, but the other contestants looked like they they were selfish and completely lacked integrity. Clay in particular was completely out for himself during the run of this show and Toral was a complete embarrassment. I think most of them felt they were hosed, Felisha in particular. In fact I feel strongly that Felisha was screwed right over. I don't think Felisha ever got over the comment by Carolyn that she was one of the weakest candidates left in the running, even though she had a victory as project manager to her credit and arguably was a better candidate than Rebecca at that point. It was as if she wasn't being given an even shot. Still, she showed more class than Alla did in absolutely trashing Rebecca.

I get the impression there was lingering bitterness that Rebecca got protected from the axe with her mediocre performances. Trump likes to say he only hires the best. Yet here was Rebecca, with her lousy 1-2 record as a project manager and a losing record in team competition, and she was kicked off Capital Edge by Alla at one point. In her final task she managed not to raise a bleeping cent for her charity! Debacles like that, as I said before, got other teams mass-fired. Rebecca, as losing project manager, even protected the thoroughly-discredited Toral from a sacking early in the competition. Apprentice candidates in previous seasons got fired for pulling this sort of stunt that Rebecca pulled; Trump would trash their judgement and fire them on the spot. Yet Trump was prepared to make Rebecca the big co-winner of this competition! It made absolutely no sense and looked like a big double-standard to me. See, this is why I said I couldn't understand the Donald and his firing decisions. He seemed to throw out the rules to keep Rebecca around, for no apparent reason other than the fact she broke her ankle.

I'm sure the fired contestants were beside themselves and wondering why they didn't break their own legs during the competition, too! Then they could have won! It looked to me like they were quite incensed, some of them, and I don't blame them. I think they were angry as hell at the Donald for trying to make Rebecca look so good while they ended up looking so bad on TV.

I say if Rebecca was really as great as they said she was, then why didn't this competition highlight her strengths? Why didn't she win more?! It looked to me like the fix was in for Rebecca to get hired, but her constant losing and Randal's knife at the end screwed it all up. Way to go, Randal, you fool. Anyway, the fact that Rebecca got as far as she did revealed a lot about The Apprentice process and how flawed it was as opposed to any strengths or weaknesses Rebecca may have had. She may have poise and polish and may be a class act (especially now, compared to her competitiors). But this competition sure didn't show to the world how great she could have been as a potential Apprentice, that's for sure. She flew completely under the radar.

As for Yahoo!, wow, did they ever look foolish in that final task by insisting the charity event turn into a big commercial for Yahoo! while the charity received zippo in donations. It made Rebecca look really bad, and made Yahoo! looked selfish for not allowing the charity to make any money off donations. No wonder Yahoo! felt compelled to offer a $100,000 check split between both the charities, to make up for their big blunder on national television!

Yikes. The Yahoo! execs were really responsible for turning Rebecca's event into the complete debacle it was. If anyone should be blamed for ruining the Donald's double-hire plans it was Yahoo! for making Rebecca look like she couldn't raise any money. Her hands were tied. Not entirely her fault, but still...?!

Anyway, I think Rebecca emerged with a lot of sympathy from a lot of people and may get a job out of Trump in the end. That's what happened with Amy and Andy who got fired on the show, but were hired later. I got to say I have a lot more respect for Rebecca today. Rebecca showed far more class in losing than Randal did in winning. Or Alla did, period. Rebecca's going to do OK for herself, and become a big star on CNBC one day. After all, she is a financial journalist.

As for the Apprentice show, it once again finds a way to shoot itself in the foot. Ideally this show ought to be about how to win in business. Instead this show has become a parody of itself, again, with this season of jerk Apprentice candidates, mediocrity rising to the top for no reason, and the utter incompetence of Yahoo! corporate sponsors in ruining events. Most of all, Randal ruined the Donald's surprise ending and spoiled the whole show.

Last night's show was a JOKE. They were having their greatest season ever, but they still found a way to throw away the Reality Show Emmy Award, again.

Maybe Trump should say to Mark Burnett: YOU'RE FIRED.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

ANOTHER BIZARRE MOMENT IN THE HISTORY OF THE APPRENTICE

WEST COAST SPOILER ALERT!!

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Actually, why bother even watching, I'll just tell you. Randal won The Apprentice 4 tonight. Basically his whole event was washed out and he had to move it indoors and he did a sensational job. He raised $11,000 for his charity while Rebecca raised not a darn cent! That ought to have been it! Other teams were mass-fired for not making money on sales, but these bozos in the Trump boardroom were allowing Rebecca to go scott-free.

I also thought Randal absolutely killed Rebecca in the boardroom tonight. He turned to the Apprentice candidates and asked them who they preferred and most of them stood up in support of him, even though the folks at home couldn't see it because they were in the dark. Alla went on a rant against Rebecca, basically trashed her on TV. Not pretty. Anyway this was a Super Bowl blowout of epic proportions.

So Trump tells Randal "you're hired"! Randal is jumping up and down and screaming and all the black people in the audience are celebrating and so on. And then Trump calls him back to the chair, and he sits down. And this is where it gets really strange.

Trump gets ready to ask Apprentice Randal how he would feel if Rebecca was offered a job too. And Randal says to Trump "This is the Apprentice, not the Apprentii, Mr. Trump!" and screws Rebecca right out of an Apprentice job with Trump on national television!!!

Wow. And Trump says okay, so he just hired Randal, that's it. And Rebecca is just shaking her head in disgust and the crowd is booing, and it's the most contrived, lamest, embarrassing ending to The Apprentice 4 that you could imagine. It was even worse than the 3-hour Season 2 debacle where they piled on Jennifer during the boardroom. It was that bad. It was so bad that I don't even know if West Coast viewers will even see that ending, it might even be cut or re-edited! But the audience on the East Coast sure saw it and you'll definitely read about it in the papers tomorrow. Yikes.

I mean really, we didn't need to see that ending. Frankly, Rebecca was not in Randal's league, we all knew that. Randal was the better man tonight. But for Trump to basically put Randal on the spot like that was just awful, just terrible. It made Randal look like a jerk. And it made Rebecca look really bad on TV. It was a lousy, contrived ending to what should have been the greatest season in the history of this show. I feel bad for Rebecca for having to go through it. I were Rebecca I'd slug Randal for screwing me out of a job with Trump. She should put Randal in a cast, for a change. But that's business for you, it's tough, and you encounter lots of self-important jerks.

I think hiring two people to be The Apprentice at once would be great TV at some point, but it would not have worked here. I think the only time it should happen is if you have two excellent candidates with very little to choose between them in terms of overall records and experience. To have chosen more than one Apprentice would cheapen this particular show. It would have been seen as a gimmick, a ratings stunt. So I actually agree with Randal. This show has to keep it real; otherwise it's just another crass TV show. Randal may have singlehandedly saved the franchise by doing that, because it was a dumb move for Trump to make, thinking about hiring two at once.

The other thing was that Rebecca's event turned out to be nothing but a big Yahoo! promotion, but the whole point was to raise money for the charity. So Yahoo! announces they're giving $50,000 each to both these charities. Or was it $500,000? Anyway Rebecca's botched-up event ended up being great for both Autism Speaks! and the Elisabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. They both made out like bandits.

What a bizarre end to what should have been a triumphant night for this show. At least the show crowned the right winner and restored my faith to some degree. This Apprentice show got me back watching and caring, which was very important. But man, what a bizarre ending.

BIG TV NIGHT TONIGHT

It is snowing like mad and that means it's a good night to watch TV.

Well, tonight is the Apprentice finale and from what I see the winner ought to be Randal Pinkett, but who knows. I don't know why Rebecca is in the finals, anyone could be in the finals other than her and do just as well, or as badly.

Some people think Rebecca could pull out a win, though. I read these fan sites and a lot of people think Randal is getting the "loser edit" and might have his event wiped out by rain; others speculate that Donald Trump is in love with Rebecca and think he'll find any excuse to get rid of Randal and hire her. Some people even think this show is all rigged, that these final tasks are all a big setup to favor one side or another. Well, all I'll say is that I think a lot of people out there think they have Trump figured out, but they really don't. Their assumptions are usually wrong or off the mark. And every time I think I have Trump figured out he throws a curve and does something nutty.

I looked at the NBC web site and it appears Randal's event will only be delayed by rain, not totally cancelled, and that things seem to be falling into place. And Rebecca had to scramble to get a new host when Joe Piscopo dropped out. Personally, in that case I would have been on the phone to Piscopo and his union, pronto, to iron things out before I tried to get another host.

Anyway, I'm going to watch the 2-hour finale tonight. I have a love-hate relationship with this Apprentice show, as you know. I actually walked out on this show midway through season 3. It has held my interest this year, but the finale has me really worried. As far as I'm concerned the credibility of the show is on the line tonight. If Rebecca gets hired after all of her losing this year and free passes from the Donald, and if Randal gets screwed out of this job after all his winning, then I will be really ticked off and will be screaming "this is rigged." At the very least, I will be hurling a foot at the TV screen. This ought to be no contest. It's a 33-year old uber-educated Rhodes Scholar and entrepreneur against a 24-year-old freelance financial journalist who once worked at an investment bank as a low-level slave (analyst). I read somewhere that 12 out of 14 Apprentice candidates were interviewed on some TV show somewhere, and they said Randal ought to win. So we'll see.

There's also a rumor out there that Trump may have a big surprise in store for people tonight. Some have speculated that this means Trump could hire both these folks. Wouldn't surprise me if they tried a cheap stunt like that given their ratings problems. Heck, they're going to LA!!!! In season 6!!! I also read a rumor somewhere that Trump may make some big announcement that NBC may hire a former Apprentice candidate to be a sideline reporter for NFL football or something like that. Anyway we'll see what surprises are in store. Maybe Martha Stewart is showing up.

Over on ABC they are basically conceding the night by putting on a big news special. That's right, tonight of all nights is the night that Peter Jennings' final report on America''s health care crisis airs tonight on ABC. Sadly this is typical of TV. They always give TV news the short end of the stick and air big news specials and important documentaries in "death" time slots where they will absolutely get killed. ABC knows Thursday is "death" for them, so this is where Peter Jennings' last report winds up. I hope some people watch.

Over on the French channel is the LEADERS' DEBATE. That's right, the leaders got at it tonight in French, and tomorrow in English. We'll see if this sways votes. I ought to rant about the election in the next few days, things have happened.

And HOWARD STERN'S LAST SHOW is TOMORROW on free radio. After tomorrow you have to move to the 'States to listen to him on Sirius. Enough said.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

KONG

Well, today's the day. That's right: KING KONG opens for general release.

And it opens with a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 84%, and Ebert and Roeper gave it two thumbs up, and Ebert calls it one of the best films of the year. But those two guys tend to be big populists and generally are quite fair to these sorts of movies.

Predictably you have some of these insufferable highbrow critics, the people looking for high art, thumbing their nose at this movie. Ultra-uptight Liam Lacey in the Globe gave it two-and-a-half stars! Well, I guess that settles it, I should just stay home and watch crummy sitcoms or cartoons. Really, I'm convinced some of these guys just don't like populist entertainment of any kind and probably hate going to the movies, period. Canadian film critics in general tend to be absolutely the most miserable people on earth. They trash everyone, even if the film happens to be pretty good and the director made an effort. So they don't have much credibility with me. Maybe it's the cold weather that freezes their brains, or something. (I noticed the Toronto Star gave King Kong four stars, though.)

Rex Reed also hated the movie. I didn't know he was still a film critic.

Anyway I plan to go and watch King Kong, but not for a few days. I don't want to have to fight the crowds to see it or stand in line in the cold outside of the theatre.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

AMAZING RACE FINALE TONIGHT, THANK G

Well, the worst Amazing Race season in memory ends with the finale tonight.

So where are these families going for the big finale? Which great, exotic location are these folks heading to see?

Why, Ontario and Quebec, where else?!

I'm sure there will be Canadians who are impressed by this, but I'm watching this show already and it's so obvious these Americans are totally ignorant about Canada. For one thing, they think people in Montreal only speak French, so they were freaking out over the language barrier. And they think curling is actually an exotic sport. Hey, they play it in the northern 'States, too. Dumbbells.

Canada's no more exotic than, say, Florida, and I know because I've been to Florida. They play football here, too. Last opportunity for the audience to see a foreign country that's actually exotic is up in smoke. What a crummy season this has been. Shame on Jerry Bruckheimer.

UPDATE: Now these people are up the CN Tower. Whoopee!!!! I'm impressed, not.

KATIE COURIC: TABLOID ARTIST?

It seems now that Katie Couric's decision on whether to leave the winning, first-place-for-ten-years Today Show for the CBS Evening News anchor job (at the last-place-in-news network) may not come until the new year. I read elsewhere there may be something in the NBC contract that locks her into NBC in the short term and prevents her from signing elsewhere at the moment. There's also rumblings that CBS might throw a slot on 60 Minutes into the mix, too, which would make sense.

Still, there has been a flurry of press statements and pronouncements about this. There's a lot of people who think Katie shouldn't go to the CBS Evening News, that she's not up to the job. They think she's too perky and hate her apparent appetite for sensational tabloid junk, like the "runaway bride" story and other stuff she had to cover on the Today Show. So Katie has been getting a lot of bad press from these serious news critics.

To which Neil Cavuto, over at FOX News, says: "get over yourselves." Cavuto thinks it's OK for anchors to laugh and joke and basically not take themselves too seriously, and thinks it's great that Katie is about to cash in and make even more serious dough. I agree with Cavuto all the way and also know from the few times I actually watched his show (back when it was streamed over the Internet) that he doesn't take himself too seriously, either. In fact, the thing I notice about these high-brow critics is that they are very consistent in their attitudes. They hate everyone at Fox News (including Neil Cavuto, by the way), and they hate Geraldo Rivera, Jerry Springer and all the syndicated shows, and they really, really hate Katie Couric. They think she's lumped in with the tabloid crowd and think she's going to turn the CBS Evening News into some sort of trash news show with lots of runaway bride stories. It's a knee-jerk typical response from these folks, that you have to be serious and dignified to do the news and be above doing these sorts of stories.

But they forget, maybe Katie is tired of doing these crap "runaway bride" stories. Maybe she wants to be taken seriously for a change, and that will never happen at the Today Show, which covers a heap of junk news stories all the time. Plus, the hours at the Today Show are just terrible. You realize how bad it is getting up so early in the morning?! I would be quite fed up with it. If I were her I'd take the CBS Evening News job and use it to reinvent myself and my career. She got a boost this week when distinguished interim anchor and real newsman Bob Schieffer said he hopes Katie comes to CBS and basically gave her his endorsement. Of course, Bob is hoping to eventually retire sometime in the near future. If Katie doesn't come over to CBS Bob could be stuck at the anchor desk for the next 20 years, and he'll never get replaced. But I digress.

I think Bob Schieffer's pronouncement on Katie this week is very significant. They are really trying to roll out the welcome mat over there. The one stumbling block Katie has to consider is the real concern that she could end up on the same scrapheap as Connie Chung. Connie was elevated to the anchor desk and got her own magazine show, too, in prime time, but she couldn't fit in with the culture of hard-news uptights over there at the CBS Evening News, and was trashed as a tabloid artist and so on. And Connie ended up being fired, and she went to CNN and got fired from there, and now she's going to host some sure-fire flop weekend talk show with Maury Povich on MSNBC. A terrible, terrible fate. But I think this is different with Katie. CBS News is a complete mess and they need someone who can bring in big ratings, fast, so that the rest of the staff can save their own jobs and not get tossed out on the street. They also need some young star power in a big way, the news staff is really getting old. The only real rising star they really have is Lara Logan, that dashing South African international correspondent babe who dodges bullets in Iraq all the time, but she's not really anchor material- she needs to be in the field. And Katie isn't as bad a tabloid artist as Connie Chung ever was. Besides, CBS News has been eating humble pie ever since Memogate. They can't afford to have an arrogant attitude about these sorts of things.

TODAY SHOW SUCCESSION CRISIS

With the real prospect that the CBS Evening News might grab Katie, the Today Show has a serious issue on its hands on who will replace her. One rumor floating around is that they will bring in Campbell Brown from the weekend Today Show. (You know, that show that runs in the timeslot that NBC used to devote to showing endless cartoons. I don't watch the show, either.) There were also a lot of rumors earlier surrounding former Wall Street trader-turned-anchor Alexis Glick, who hosts on the show from time to time, but those rumors have cooled off. I'm guessing what they might do is put Glick on the weekend show to replace Campbell Brown when she leaves for Today. I guess there are a lot of possibilities out there, the problem is that everyone is under contract. That's why these news jobs are so slow to get filled.

Anyway, that's an issue the show has to face now: who replaces Katie. And she hasn't even left yet.

Monday, December 12, 2005

TRIBUTES STILL ROLLING IN FOR RICHARD PRYOR

Well I plan to tune in to the late night TV shows tonight to see how these all-star comedian hosts react to the death of Richard Pryor on the weekend. I heard he was an inspiration for so many comedians out there including David Letterman and Jay Leno.

I fully expect them to kiss the ground Pryor walked on. He was truly one of the most legendary, ground-breaking comedians of all time. He left himself, all of himself, on the stage with every performance.

My personal favorite Pryor movie was Stir Crazy, where he teamed up with Gene Wilder. I thought I was going to die laughing, watching that. That guy was way too funny by half.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

SURVIVOR: I DON'T CARE

Well, in what had to be a first I completely missed the Survivor: Guatemala finale tonight.

Not that I care anymore about this stupid, boring reality series, but it takes a lot for me to completely forget about the Super Bowl of reality TV finales, which is what the Survivor finale usually is. Maybe it's because I didn't watch football on TV today and missed all the CBS promos. Stupid me.

But I'm really turned off and bored by Survivor, and only watched the show this year while waiting for The Apprentice to come on so I could get mad at Donald Trump. And believe you me, I'm mad at Trump. What started off as a promising year has gone straight in the deep end; the deep problems of this series are being exposed. It's no longer a contest about excellence in business, it's about how to avoid being fired. Once again, contestants who fly under the radar are being rewarded by this awful show. Sure the firings were exciting this year, but the tasks were pretty much chimpanzee. This show ought to rename itself How to Get Ahead in Marketing and Other Tasks that a Chimp Could Do. Many of the people who were fired were good performers who got screwed by Trump for flimsy reasons; others, though, were complete idiots who should never have been allowed onto the show to begin with. If Randal doesn't get the job or crashes and burns in the finale, then the whole season will be a waste because total mediocrity will have risen to the top. This show's credibility is up in smoke, especially now that they announced they're moving to LA. What a laugh, The Apprentice in LA. I can't get over it.

Anyway, to heck with that show. And the heck with all the reality shows this week. I think they all have their finales, right? Doesn't Amazing Race crown a winner on Tuesday, or is it next week? I don't care.

As for tonight, Danii, or is it Danni?, won Survivor, beating Steph 6-1. I read that blurb on the website Survivor Sucks, which trashed the show as usual and called it one of the most boring finales ever. I'm glad I didn't miss much.

Though I must say, I'm sad I missed the post-Survivor show hosted by my favorite Survivor winner of all time Jenna Morasca. Jenna is my favorite Survivor winner for one reason and one reason only: because she is a babe.

HOWARD'S FINAL WEEK

Well, this is it, the final week for Howard Stern on terrestrial radio. He is leaving for satellite radio and this Friday morning is his final show.

Of course this Friday will undoubtedly be the last time you ever hear Stern in Canada because Sirius won't carry his show here. So you can hear him in southern Ontario on 92.9 FM, from Buffalo, and then he'll disappear from the face of the earth to broadcast from that great radio station in the sky--- to the 'States. Of course, the rest of you in Canada outside of southern Ontario won't be able to hear his final show at all. You can't hear his show now, and can't hear him later, either, thanks to government officials on both sides of the border. You're DOOMED.

I personally can't say I'll miss Stern much--- usually in the mornings my preference would be the silly Imus in the Morning show from WFAN, quality entertainment. Either that, or the 680 News. I guess I'm just posting this to make sure I tune in to some radio history with Stern's show this week.

Friday, December 09, 2005

RETURN TO RADIO?

I've got to try and get back into radio, at least on a part-time basis somewhere. I dunno why I feel this way, in fact I have mixed feelings about wanting to pursue radio again. It's such a lousy stinking low-paying field, which explains why I haven't pursued it very seriously to this point. Maybe I should do this part-time and try and make my real money elsewhere in another field, that's what a lot of hosts do. Maybe I'll just do radio during the weekends. Who knows.

I interviewed with radio stations in town last year and they told me how bad the pay was and so on and how they had no opportunities. But they did tell me I had potential for the business. Moreover, radio is a blast to do. When I was in campus radio I took the DJ training program that was offered and got to sit in the studio learning the ropes. Unfortunately there's a lot of CRTC regulations requiring you to play Canadian content, so it's a lot of paperwork for these hosts who sit and spin the records. They don't even play records anymore, anyway, it's all computerized. This was at CHRW Radio in London where most of the people who finished the DJ training program went on to sit and rot in the music library, and waited their turn. It was very difficult to become a DJ there, there was a long waiting list. Many headed straight for the CHRW news department instead, which was an easy way to get on the air.

When I was there the advice I got from a few people was "don't go into radio!" One guy told the story of some poor schmuck who moved to work in Barrie and was now stuck in Barrie, spinning crappy tunes and doing lousy radio. Besides, there were other things I was more interested in pursuing at the time, so I decided to give up on radio. I'm realizing, though, how much I miss being on the air, doing real broadcasting. I have not been on radio in several years but I have transferable skills from my time in TV. A lot of people have switched from TV to radio so it shouldn't be so difficult, in theory. Question is where. Preferably I'd want to do news/talk/sports or something like that but I'm not very picky, I could probably like it at an oldies station or somewhere like that.

Having done both radio and TV and being immersed in the two cultures I can say the differences between the two mediums are becoming quite pronounced. For one, TV news people in local markets are doing a lot less "broadcasting" and a lot more grunt work: carrying TV cameras around and one-man-banding. As well, increasingly, the only job in TV news to be had these days is coverage of the news. Usually this consists of covering crime and other dreck, and regular readers of this blog know that I rant about this all the time. Radio people, on the other hand, are decidedly more interested in sports and entertainment. Yet sports and entertainment reporting is being cut by TV. Moreover, it seems people who are interested in sports and entertainment are being treated like lepers in a non-leper colony at these TV stations. As if they're unworthy of being on the air because they aren't interested in the news. These folks have no choice but to get into radio, just so they can talk on the air about sports and entertainment again.

I have found myself increasingly uncomfortable with pursuing traditional TV news for all these reasons. I am much more comfortable with the "broadcasting" and "on-air" elements and find myself hating the grunt work and videography typical of local news. This is one reason, perhaps, why I'd be interested in working in TV for places like ESPN or CNBC, because they do a lot of live stuff and live broadcasting where people get the freedom to talk and rant. I suppose I have a lot of concerns about TV and about reporting in general.

The real reason I'd want to do radio is so I could get on the air and talk and develop live hosting skills. I'd want to do long-form interviews and things of that nature, and have the freedom to be entertaining on the air. You even see these TV folks like Keith Olbermann going back to do radio talk part-time (he's hosting again on ESPN Radio with Dan Patrick); plus a lot of these TV talk show hosts have radio backgrounds. Billy Bush, big entertainment reporter, used to be in radio. He was a DJ on radio for several years. Now he's chasing starlets in Hollywood on TV for Access Hollywood. I'm convinced that for what I'd want to do in the business that radio would be a better bet right now.

I read that Holly Firfer, who was this big correspondent for CNN, left CNN and now is a morning show DJ in Atlanta doing morning drive radio and being a big personality. So radio has its attractions for people who'd rather be a host or personality.

I should try and find some people to talk to at these radio stations and get some tips about what I ought to do to break in with one of these stations. Step one for me is to figure out what to do to get in the door again. Maybe I'm just influenced by all the ads I'm seeing on TV for these XM and Sirius satellite radios. Maybe I'm influenced by the interview 60 Minutes did with Howard Stern this week. Who knows.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

REBECCA OF "THE APPRENTICE"

Well, I noticed Rebecca from The Apprentice (her with the busted foot) finally has her website up--- on her site she has links to some of her business reporting from Crain's Chicago Business and Business 2.0.

I'll post Randal's site, eventually.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

ABC/ESPN GET NASCAR

Big news from the world of TV sports. NASCAR is going back to ABC! Details here.

ABC and ESPN used to carry countless late-season NASCAR races for so many years before NASCAR moved to Fox and NBC in 2001. Now, beginning in 2007, they're back. The 17 late-season NEXTEL CUP races go to ABC/ESPN, with the entire "Chase" on ABC. Moreover, ABC/ESPN will have the Busch Series for the entire season.

TNT has also signed on again to carry the NEXTEL Cup, taking over a few races that used to be carried on FX in addition to some of the ones they carried before. Out is FX, where NASCAR stood out like a sore thumb among The Shield and Nip/Tuck episodes, and which NASCAR fans complained didn't come into enough homes. Also out is NBC, former home of most of the late-season races and the "Chase." Guess they wasted all their money on NFL football and had none left over for the good ol' boys- or maybe they were ticked off that they had to cover so many races late in the season with Dale Earnhardt Jr. already eliminated. That couldn't have helped.

The main FOX network, however, is expected to continue its very successful association with NASCAR and carry the early-season NEXTEL CUP races, as usual, though they will be giving up three races to TNT as well as the Busch Series events. Too bad, they do a good job, Darrell Waltrip and crew. "Boogity boogity boogity, let's go racing!" Negotiations are ongoing.

This looks like a winning move by NASCAR to get NEXTEL Cup races back on two networks that really helped build up the sport for so many years, ABC and ESPN, while keeping their long association with TNT and successful association with FOX. In fact NASCAR was the top sports property on ESPN in its very early years when it didn't have baseball, the NFL or any of these other major sports. It had very few major sporting events, but it did have NASCAR and that saved them. This is a great move to get two networks that care about auto racing coverage back in the game.

And quite frankly I won't miss NBC's coverage. Compared to FOX they were boring as heck. FOX was just too good with their "Hollywood Hotel" and their personalities. They made NBC's late-season coverage look bad. And NBC had too many people (Bob Costas, etc.) who just hated auto racing and refused to cover it. At least Jeanne Zelasko would show up occasionally at a NASCAR event in addition to all the baseball she covered for FOX Sports. Enough said.

Question now is: what happens to the IRL? Their late-season races were on ABC this year and there's now the big potential for a lot of conflicts with NASCAR coverage during the CHASE in 2007- if they come back to ABC. And ESPN carried the IRL the rest of the time this year, and ESPN now has the Busch Series and other races. The IRL has a problem on its hands. The only reason why ABC/ESPN carried the IRL and promoted them so heavily was because they didn't have NASCAR and the Cup, simple as that. I wouldn't be surprised if we see the IRL and the Indianapolis 500 move to another network soon--- NBC suddenly has some time to fill on Sunday afternoons.

WHO CARES ABOUT THE ELECTION

As you noticed I have not blogged about the election for a few days, and the reason is pretty obvious. I don't care.

I'm more interested in the movies than I am in the election. In fact I am really looking forward to King Kong. That movie is supposed to be the ultimate epic. It's getting great early buzz and I read some early reviews in Rotten Tomatoes. Some people were worried that this movie was too long at three hours. But now it seems clear that director Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings fame wants to make this the biggest epic movie ever. The early Rotten Tomatoes score for King Kong is, get this, 100%! One hundred percent for this big ape. Amazing.

Now I'm sure eventually some critic will come along that will trash this movie and claim it's too long or something. That critic probably will be someone who hates his job or wants to be different, someone who doesn't like movies. One hundred percent, boy, that's something that can't be ignored, folks, from Rotten Tomatoes. I'd say that's pretty good.

Just from glancing the trades the consensus is this is going to win Peter Jackson an Oscar for Best Director and that the studio is going to get filthy rich off the movie, everyone in the world is going to want to see it. Anyway, I don't care about the election, I care about King Kong. I get the impression ordinary yokels don't care either. I know these ranting Blogging Tories were all abuzz about the fact that CTV News led last night with the story of the income trusts and the leak, the latest scandal in yet another bad week for the Liberals on the campaign trail. But those are the Blogging Tories, they don't go to movies or have a life, these political freaks. They watch the news all the time. Nobody else seems to watch the news. Not even me.

In fact, I just shut off Peter Mansbridge on The National doing his doing his usual CBC "Voice of God" anchoring routine which is rapidly going out of style in North American TV news. Even CBS and ABC have gotten out of doing these "Voice of God" newscasts; it's an anachronism, completely unpopulist. And Mansbridge is going on about the election and telling the old people at home watching what the serious issues ought to be. I say the heck with the election, it's still two months away. What's happening in the Saddam Hussein trial? That's what I want to know. I hear the Saddam trial is suspended again for another two weeks. Too bad, I was enjoying watching the streaming video on CNN.

Anyway I don't need Mansbridge telling me how to vote, my mind's made up. I'm going to vote the way I usually vote: for the losing candidate. And I'm not even voting strategically, like these Tories in Danforth and on the lakefront who plan to vote NDP to keep the Liberals out. I think this is crazy: you keep the Liberals out, but you're putting the NDP in. By extension, you're helping them force Liberals to spend the public's money like crazy and move Canada totally to the left. I don't get the logic. Anyway, why should I care.

Seems everyone else in town is disengaged. The campaigns are hibernating. I drove around town last night (while going to a movie, again) and noticed a dearth of signs. I drove for miles in Don Valley East riding before finally seeing three Eugene McDermott signs up--- on the side of a wall somewhere. Whoop de do. In fact, I get the impression this election call has caught all the parties a little off-guard. I don't see any Liberal signs up around here, really. I don't know where the Conservative campaigns have their offices yet, and a few campaigns don't even have their web pages up. The Conservative TV ads look like they were made on the weekend by contestants from The Apprentice TV show. They are that cheap- looking.

I haven't even been deluged with e-mails or phone calls from people urging me to help, which is surprising given the calls and junk e-mails I usually get. But I have gotten some calls from people asking for money. Fat chance am I going to donate any amount of cash to any more campaigns. I would have thought that people would call telling me of local riding events like the grand opening of the campaign office, or big rallies going on or something like that. It's strange. I guess they aren't interested in getting any help or any supporters, these people. All they want is money.

Last election I was pestered with calls to help out from tons of people. Same with the leadership race. In fact during the 2004 leadership I was absolutely inundated by phone calls and e-mails from candidate Belinda Stronach. "Join! Recruit! Vote!" I got phone calls and junk mail the whole freaking campaign from that woman--- even after I declared for Tony Clement. This year I hear Belinda is trying to get Conservative supporters to join her local campaign--- for the Liberals!!! She isn't getting much help from them, obviously. In fact, I get the impression that Lois Brown is going to get a lot of assistance from people driving up from Toronto to help her, just to knock off Belinda.

Maybe the reason I'm not getting pestered is because the campaigns are a total mess in Toronto. I don't know; I hope not. I wouldn't be surprised, though. I hear the Tories are concentrating on the 905 region and the ridings in the southwest, central and eastern Ontario. If I were them that's where I'd look for votes, because there's no reason for many of those seats to be Liberal. But Toronto is a lost cause. Too many lefties.

Anyway, there's a lot of reasons I don't care about the election: it's cold outside, Christmas shopping, general apathy, the fact that this is Toronto and my vote will end up counting for zip, and so on. Anyway don't expect me getting excited about the election for a while. And this is probably my last political post on the CAIRNS BLOG for a few days as I plan to go back to some serious ranting about movies and TV.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

IT'S FUN TO BE AN AGENT

As you know these big TV news people have agents, just like entertainers and big athletes, and when they make a big deal it means life is good. One of the things these TV news agents do when they make a big deal for a client is they announce it to the world in Medialine and at TVSpy and these other industry publications in the news business.

Anyway I thought I'd reproduce here the big announcement that Ken Lindner posted in Medialine the other day- not every day they are able to do a deal like this:

Ken Lindner and Associates announces the following...
12/06/05 Elizabeth Vargas has just entered into a new long-term agreement to co-anchor ABC Network¹s World News Tonight. Elizabeth will continue to be the co-host of 20/20. Elizabeth and Ken Lindner have been working together for the past nineteen years, ever since Ken discovered Elizabeth as a general assignment reporter at KTVK in Phoenix, Arizona. During the last three years, Ken has negotiated agreements for Elizabeth to replace the legendary Barbara Walters on 20/20, and to replace, in part, the late Peter Jennings on World News Tonight. Dreams do come true! Congratulations, Elizabeth. Elizabeth is represented by Ken Lindner of Ken Lindner & Associates THE Career Choreography Agency located at 2049 Century Park East, Suite #3050, Los Angeles, California 90067. www.kenlindner.com , info@klateam.com. 310-277-9223.


In other news Lindner's firm has re-signed Bill Lagattuta with CBS News. Woo hoo! Being an agent is great, especially in the TV news business these days. I wonder who represents Bob Woodruff. That's another agent having a really good week.

Direct quote from Jerry Maguire: "SHOW ME THE MONEEEEEEYYYYY!!!!!"

Monday, December 05, 2005

VARGAS, WOODRUFF NEW ABC WORLD NEWS TONIGHT ANCHORS

Well, ABC News made the announcement today. They named Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff anchors of World News Tonight and in a side announcement, also said this newscast would be broadcast live to the West Coast for the first time. TVNewser has more coverage.

As for Charles Gibson, well, he got robbed. And whoever his agent is ought to be fired immediately. Gibson was reportedly told last Thursday he would not be anchoring permanently, even though there were stories circulating as late as last week that the job was his. Personally, I think ABC is thinking that if Katie Couric gets the CBS Evening News job- and a decision is likely coming this week, we are told- then Charles and Diane and Robin can clean up on her replacement at the Today Show and kill NBC.

Problem for ABC, though, is this means they're probably going to get killed at 6:30 PM. And also, Gibson has a year left on his contract at ABC. Frankly I think his future is summed up in one word, or more accurately, three letters: CNN. (Speaking of which, this is a big day for CNN. They launched their Pipeline broadband service today, with four simultaneous feeds. But who cares about that.)

Don't feel too bad for Gibson. ABC News is going to have to make him the richest person in the TV news business in order to keep him. And if Couric turns around and stays at NBC they'll probably offer Gibson the CBS News anchor job and ABC News will be DOOMED. FINISHED.

I wonder about the strategy by ABC, I really do. They seem determined to become the third-place news network- or fifth place, if you count CNN and Fox News. On the one hand they are putting all their resources into Good Morning America, but the changes at Nightline have been met by boos from the critics who hate the new format of the show. And as for this World News Tonight anchor team, I must say, these two they hired don't impress me. I don't see rival networks rushing to want to sign these two for anchor jobs the way people did when they went after Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw back in the 80s. This is a move ABC is making with a look to the future, going with young anchors, but I must say this looks like a team that is going to send ABC News into third place for the next 20 years.

I predict these two are going to have a rough time. The critics are going to constantly compare these two to Peter Jennings. And if Couric goes to CBS then ABC is absolutely going to get clobbered.

As for Charles Gibson, I'm sure he's ready to quit, but who wants to be anchor of ABC News anyway? The job is a death trap. I hate to sound ghoulish here, but the last four anchors- Harry Reasoner, Frank Reynolds, Max Robinson and Jennings- all died at early ages. And the World News Tonight anchor chair has been vacated twice now by death.

For the sake of ABC News I hope Vargas and Woodruff are on a health kick and stay clear of the cigarettes.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

WABC SPINNING THE OLDIES

Well, I was tuning the dial looking for hockey games to listen to on the radio and guess what i stumbled across. WABC Radio in New York is doing a Saturday night oldies show now from 6-10PM. They are spinning the oldies on Saturdays and reliving the glory days of one of the truly classic music radio stations of all time. Here's the link to the info. I guess they needed to fill the time on Saturdays now that the Devils games have left for WFAN.

It's really fun listening to music on WABC, on AM Radio. Of course, WABC was one of the most dominant top-40, rock and roll radio stations of all time in the 1960s and 1970s. Their DJs- Cousin Brucie, Dan Ingram, Scott Muni--- were legends. Their signal boomed from New York on 50,000 watts of power and absolutely covered the eastern USA and Canada.

Around 1977, AM radio Top 40 was knocked off by FM in New York City and WABC began its decline. In 1982 this truly iconic rock station changed its format to talk radio. It was called "the day the music died." Over time, though, it turned out to be one of the most successful format changes in history, as WABC became a dominant player in talk radio. They carry Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, a host of others. In fact its remarkable how many of these old rock radio stations switched to talk. WLS in Chicago, for example, was also a rock station that switched to talk radio. CKOM in Saskatoon, which I grew up listening to at 1250 on the AM dial, used to be a rock station just like WABC. These days it's a talk radio station like so many of these old Top 40 stations, but it was one of the last to make the switch. They held out for a very, very long time until the folks at Rawlco, the owners, got fed up and ditched spinning records in the 1990s, and went talk. Now they run talk shows with John Gormley and Charles Adler.

Most of these rest of these Top-40 stations are either All-Sports or All-News. WINS 1010 in New York actually pioneered rock and roll, but they switched to all-news in defeat in the 1960s after WABC knocked them off.

The only true music holdout I can think of is 1050 CHUM Toronto, which used to be a legendary top-40 station before it became a legendary Oldies station. But even they tried to go talk. There was a period of time earlier this decade when this station went all-sports as "The Team 1050," which absolutely flopped and was a big fiasco. It would have helped this station if it actually had play-by-play sports on the air! They got demolished when the Blue Jays went back to the FAN. Anyway, it's great CHUM 1050 still is playing the oldies and remembering its rock heritage. I was listening to the last moments of CHUM 1050 when it switched to sports, and I cried when it went off the air. And keep in mind, I was a big sports fan! I should have been cheering for this format change, yet I felt it was terrible that this station and its rock heritage was being tossed aside. Little did I know it was going to come back.

Anyway, enough about 1050 CHUM. As for WABC: it's great they are spinning records again on Saturdays and I hope they rerun some of the old jingles they used to have.

There's a special WABC radio website out there, too, devoted to the old Top 40 station and providing some pictures and old audio clips. You can find it at www.musicradio77.com.

Friday, December 02, 2005

BLOODBATH ON "THE APPRENTICE" AGAIN

This time, Trump fired the entire team. Granted, the team only made up two people, Felisha and Alla, but they lost and that was enough for this cranky, uptight boardroom. They claim Alla can't work with anyone, can't be "led", but I think that's hogwash. Alla's stepped up to the plate enough times to deserve to continue. I think she really got hosed. And Felisha's gotten hosed the entire series (Carolyn stabbed her in the back last week for calling her a weak link).

That leaves Randal and Rebecca as the two last people standing. Randal clearly deserves to be here- he's stepped up to the plate despite personal hardship (death in the family) and is 3-0 as project manager. And he's educated to the hilt. If Trump doesn't hire Randal, well, I say he's gone mad.

Rebecca has had her adversities, too, limping around on her broken foot. Clearly she's a hard worker and has poise and polish, BUT, she's only 1-2 as project manager, has made some questionable decisions and has not been forceful enough in getting her ideas across. Arguably the only reason she won as project manager was because of Randal doing a good job to bail her out. Moreover, Rebecca has been part of some absolutely notorious, hideous losing teams. She's the last woman standing from the infamous "Dick's Sporting Goods" bloodbath that saw Trump go nuts and fire four people--- over half the team. Then he fired two more people from that same bunch two weeks later in another bloodbath, with Rebecca escaping the axe again. So why is Rebecca still here, in the finals, while these other chumps are all out on the street for the flimsiest reasons? Beats me. The only reason she's still around is because she hasn't been fired yet. But that's no reason to hire her and make her the big winner of this competition. She's utterly mediocre.

To get ahead with Trump you have to work hard and avoid getting fired, and Rebecca's rise is the perfect illustration of what's wrong with the whole Apprentice hiring process. (Jennifer Massey from season 2 was also very good at flying under the radar, and she almost won.) I also read that Rebecca's a business journalist in real life and did local news on TV. Well, then, I ought to apply to Trump myself if this is all you need to be The Apprentice. Why don't I apply to this show and fly under the radar, too, and win a big six-figure job with Trump?

I can't take this show seriously anymore. The cream rising to the top?! HA! This show is telling the world that to make it up the corporate ladder it's all about luck. To move up the ranks it's all about good karma with the boss, nothing else. What a big joke this show is. CLICK!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

TORIES TO CUT THE GST

The Tories have won the election. Today, Stephen Harper announced he was cutting the GST from 7 to 5%.

This is exactly what the people of Canada have been screaming about for years, they've been screaming for a GST cut. And now they've got it, if they vote Harper. If they don't vote for Harper, well, what can I say? The people of Canada will be exposed as a bunch of hypocrites for not voting to cut the GST when they had the chance.

Who in politics would want to represent people who say they want one thing and then vote for another?! Fellow Canucks, it's time to put up or shut up. If you really mean it when you say you want the GST cut, vote for Harper. Hold your nose if you have to, but just do it. Cut this awful tax.

I know the media is also in a tizzy because they claim the Tories were confused about their new policy to bring in an office of an independent prosecutor- Peter MacKay apparently didn't know what Harper was announcing. I think it was probably the media that was confused, frankly. I'll say this: if this is the best the media can come up with to trash Harper, say people in the party are contradicting themselves, that's good news for Harper. Besides, this independent prosecutor idea is another good idea which will help clean up the mess in Ottawa and hold politicians to account.

And Michael Ignatieff finally got nominated at that Liberal Etobicoke-Lakeshore nomination meeting by ahem, "acclamation". Right. And there were cops at the meeting, too, and Ignatieff got a lot of boos, and people who want to run against him for the nomination are upset with the Liberal Party for the way they railroaded this process. The Liberals are a mess there. Meetings like this one are exactly the type of thing that turns ordinary people off of politics.

All in all, this has been a bad week for the Liberals. And with the 5% GST announcement Christmas has come early for the voters. I say Harper is already off to a good start.