Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Thought I'd mention that The Da Vinci Code is no longer Number One at the theatres, it got toppled last weekend by X3: The Last Stand. X-Men made something like 120 million from what I heard. Check out Box Office Mojo. You know what this means, folks: X4.

This weekend the big Vince Vaughn-Jennifer Aniston flick The Break Up debuts and from what I hear, this one is already a turkey. I checked the Tomatometer and this one was at 0%!!!! Then again, it was probably just the highbrow high-art people weighing in yesterday. They had nothing good to say about Jennifer Aniston, either, blasting her acting skills. The fans over there are predicting this to be the first stink-bomb of the summer.

Then again, maybe it'll be a hit in spite of the critics, who have given X3 so-so reviews and who absolutely ripped Da Vinci to smithereens. One thing that is for sure, the box office the past couple of weeks has been pretty good; these theatre owners should have nothing to complain about. (Though the fast dropoff for Da Vinci ought to worry some people.)


I didn't watch the Today Show today, which featured the whole cast bawling like babies because Katie Couric was leaving. Apparently 42 minutes into the show Katie started tearing up. I'm not surprised: Bryant Gumbel cried too, bigtime, when he left. I'll get around to finding the video on the Internet, sometime.

I read a lot of the critics who said that was over-the-top excess, what happened today on Today. That it was all Katie all the time today, and that they ought to have covered the war in Iraq or something important. Who cares. The fact is that tabloid-artist Katie's said goodbye to the Today Show and is now free to go to CBS and get her head handed to her every night by real journalists Charlie Gibson and Brian Williams.

I keep reading about all these petitions out there trying in vain to keep Bob Schieffer on the evening news show, anchoring. These news fans ought to give up. Bob's leaving, and Les Moonves wants the big ratings. I think they also figured they were going to wound The Today Show by luring Couric over, but I don't think that's going to happen now that Meredith Vieira is on board taking over her spot.

And what a sad week over at CBS with that camera crew killed in Iraq on Monday and correspondent Kimberly Dozier almost killed, too. Last I checked she's still in critical condition. What a sad situation for the entire news business, to see their network TV people get hurt or even killed over in Iraq.


Canada has got to be the absolute worst place on the planet to be a TV viewer right now. You're better off going to Guyana or somewhere that doesn't have TV than to watch the dreck on the air in Canada right about now. No wonder Internet use is up in this country.

As you know, last week was the official end of Sweeps and the end of the regular TV season. The season finales for all the "good" shows like Lost and Desperate Housewives, and House and Law and Order and the CSIs, are all over. So now viewers plunge head-first into the junk pile that is week one of the Post-Season: the summer, rerun, junk programming season. It's as if the clock has struck midnight and all the shows on TV have suddenly turned into pumpkins. These shows are all crap, all of a sudden! And this week Canada, the land of some of the worst TV dreck out there today, has kicked the summer off by rolling out its own brand-new, cheap reality show junk.

Idol is back. Yes, just one week after we crowned Taylor Hicks and consigned this season of American Idol to the dustbin, Canadians have to put up with more lousy singers and more crabby judges on Canadian Idol, over on CTV. Worse yet, we get to see Ben Mulroney and his $400,000-a-year mug everywhere ad nauseum until we're sick of him. He's on the cover of both Toronto Life and TV Guide this week. Like Ryan Seacrest, he's everywhere--- though you have no idea why.

Moreover, CTV's entertainment news show eTalk Daily promises to get absolutely ruined. Instead of covering the same Brad and Angelina baby news that everyone else is covering, you can bet that eTalk is going to show nonstop coverage of Canadian Idol. They will milk this cow until it dies. As usual.

Over on Citytv, we get bombarded by another ripoff show: Canada's Next Top Model. Instead of Tyra Banks, this show will be hosted by Canadian supermodel Tricia Helfer. So we can't get away from these ripoff reality shows. Anyway, the premiere is tonight.

The worst one of the bunch is airing on Global TV right now on Sundays: From the Ground Up, hosted by Debbie Travis. The whole point of this show seems to be that Debbie Travis thinks that all young people are directionless slackers who need to be shaped up, so she puts a bunch of them to work on a construction project, trying to get them motivated. I really hate this show! More specifically, I hate Debbie Travis! She is totally condescending to all these young people. Why she's even on TV is a big mystery to me. Same with Mike Holmes ( of Holmes on Homes), Dr. Marla Shapiro, and all these other big Canadian TV "personalities" who are on the air for no discernable reason anyone can think of. Maybe they thought Debbie Travis would be a female version of Simon Cowell. Well if so, this show gives everyone from across the pond a bad name. As for the young people they got for this show, well, it's pretty obvious these folks are all wannabe actors rounded up off the street. This show is a waste of time.

Finally, CBC has the Stanley Cup Finals, which is bound to feature plenty of flag-waving from the CBC announcers, the usual brilliant insights from Don Cherry, and shots of drunken Edmontonians celebrating at bars, watching the freaking hockey game. As if there's nothing else for Canadians to do but to get drunk and knock over a few cars when your hockey team wins. Get some lives, people.

Thank heavens that NBC is also showing the Cup finals, most of it anyway, so that hockey fans can watch a half-decent, down-the-middle production as an alternative to the CBC's amateur-hour, bush-league jingoism. I know it's un-Canadian to say that the Americans do a good job covering hockey, but I just gotta say it.


The worst part about watching TV in Canada is that in addition to the useless dreck we get from the Canadian networks this summer, we also get to see all the cheap junk served up by the American networks. There's literally no escape from bad TV for us Canadians. We get to see Hell's Kitchen which is back again, we get to see Last Comic Standing which is back again, we get So You Think You Can Dance? again. Big Brother is due back pretty soon, too. ABC has plenty of junk planned: they have some dating show, How to Get the Guy, coming in a couple weeks, which looks like another cheap waste of time. Thursday, they'll bore us with the 2006 Scripps National Spelling Bee. That's right, they can't come up with better programming to show us, so we get to see a spelling bee on ABC! CBS is no better. Tonight, they air Game Show Marathon with Ricki Lake hosting all your favorite game shows in one hour. They plan to make a series of it. That's as low-rent as you can get.

Of course, Deal or No Deal on NBC ( and on Global/CH in Canada) is still on the air wasting channel space, though admittedly it's a guilty pleasure, and a lot of fun to tune into. (Babes with suitcases; good stuff). But still, what a dirt-cheap production this is. It is hosted by, why, who else. A Canadian. Howie Mandel.


Monday, May 29, 2006


For the umpteenth week in a row I almost forgot to tune in The Apprentice. I only caught the show because I flipped the channels during commercials of the NBA game on ABC. The fact that a die-hard like me is so thoroughly bored to almost forget the Sean vs. Lee final matchup should raise a lot of red flags for NBC. I'll bet NBC can't wait for this Apprentice season to end, this show is running out of ideas fast. It sunk to a pathetic new low this week: the Donald is now ripping off other reality shows. This week they take a page out of the American Idol playbook by urging Americans to text-message their vote for who ought to be the Apprentice.

Now, I don't know about you, but this is a sure jump-the-shark moment. Everyone's whole season on this show, spent working hard and building up their capital with the Trump powers-that-be, has been reduced to nothing more than a popularity contest. Worse yet, these contestants get to be judged based on how they were edited by producer Mark Burnett. It cheapens the competition, really, allowing all these yokels out there at home to vote.

Of course Lee, a.k.a. the "politician", ought to be able to win this hands down. Heck, it would be easy for him to do. Anyone with a rudimentary background in politics can organize their people to get out the vote. Lee could get a bunch of his political friends together and have them round up people off the street. They could put all of them in a room and feed them pizza all day while they text-message hundreds upon hundreds of votes into NBC. That's what real politicians would do: get out the vote. He'd win, no matter how crummy a job he did all season. If it's within the rules, why not do it? Of course, Lee could very easily lose this "vote" based on the terrible edit he got on this week's show. The boardroom laughed at his team selections- they didn't even recognize Pepi because they had fired him so quick- and the sponsor ripped him apart and threatened to pull out. I could see a big humiliation coming next week from the Donald: "Lee, you're no good as a manager, and you're not even good as a politician. You can't even win an election! Lee, you're fired!"

Not only is this a ripoff of American Idol, it rips off Dancing with the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, American Inventor, Big Brother (season 1), Last Comic Standing and all these other shows that allowed Americans to cast a vote for the winner. This looks to me like a cheap stunt. Donald Trump knows full well that corporate America is no democracy; you don't elect managers in the corporate world, you HIRE them. Maybe he'll simply ignore the vote results. He ought to.

The other show that is getting ripped off is The Bachelor, as Sean decides to waste his effort spending too much time with Tammy, trying to woo her and rekindle their relationship. Whether Tammy actually is interested in this guy is another story. Someone should tell our jolly old English friend here that this is America, land of the sexual-harassment lawsuit. He needs to quit with the office romance already.

Besides, why bother showing this, already. We've seen this sort of romance thing before, over on Survivor. They had the Rob and Amber thing going, too. Ripping off Survivor is nothing new for this Apprentice show. Just you watch: The Apprentice will probably attempt to have an All-Star Edition, just like Survivor did, where they give all the more popular former contestants who were fired a second chance at getting hired. Heck, they're now switching their venues around ( to L.A. ) just like Survivor and Amazing Race do all the time. I wouldn't put it past these folks to try a stunt like that, an all-star edition.

It's really sad. It's clear that these producers are grasping at straws, resorting to cheap gimmicks to try and grab an audience for The Apprentice. This once-vibrant show, once a trend-setter that made "you're fired" a catch phrase and which spawned parodies and ripoffs from the likes of Mark Cuban and Richard Branson, has been reduced to stealing bad ideas from other reality TV series just to stay on the air. To which I say, NBC, put this series out of its misery already. Just say "you're fired" to all these folks. This is just too much for the die-hard fans to take, seeing this formerly-great show go down the tubes like this.

Sunday, May 28, 2006


I have been watching the promos rolled out for some of the new fall TV shows and one of the ones that looks very promising is something called Justice, over on Fox.

Basically the show looks at the criminal-defense side of things. That's a change: usually procedural shows on TV they look at things from the prosecution's point of view, looking at putting the bad guys away. Even David E. Kelley's shows don't usually touch the defense side of things: they concentrate on civil matters. But this show decidedly tilts toward the people defending people charged with crimes. In the promos they were showing these lawyers doing profiles of the jury members, trying to figure out what to do about them, and then arguing cases in court and in the media. It's high-powered defense attorney stuff, exciting stuff. The stuff trial lawyers dream of doing. Looks good.

In the cast they have Victor Garber, better known to TV viewers as that guy from ALIAS. He plays the lead attorney on a dream team of lawyers.

The show is being produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, Jonathan Littman, and Jonathan Shapiro--- the same people, by the way, who were behind Just Legal over on the WB network that starred Don Johnson. That legal show lasted only three episodes before being yanked right off the air. But these three obviously feel that there's potential for a show like this, a legal-based procedural show. Certainly no one else has been doing shows from the defense perspective. (Dick Wolf tried, sort of, with Law and Order: Trial by Jury, but that didn't work out too well.)
Bruckheimer and Littman also do the CSI shows and are heavily into procedural TV shows, so they know what they are doing.. As for Shapiro, he's had plenty of time to think about what he wants to do with this new show, since his last WB effort was cancelled so fast. I read that the reason Just Legal was cancelled was because the WB discovered that the average age of the audience was something like 60 years old, and as you know people over the age of 49 aren't allowed to watch television, or something. Anyway, that show is ancient history.

So we know there's some talent behind this production. The big overriding question is whether Americans are ready for a show from the defense perspective. Conventional wisdom has always been that Americans don't want to see shows about defense attorneys: that they consider all defense attorneys to be slimeballs who allow criminals to beat the system. They'd much rather watch shows where the "bad guys" go to jail. But I think there's definitely room out there for a show that looks at situations from a different perspective, that looks outside the box once in a while. Not all justice is black-and-white, not all accuseds are guilty of crimes. We'll see how this one does.

Saturday, May 27, 2006


This is the biggest auto racing weekend of the season, the high point, in fact, of the year. Memorial Day weekend is the time when all the racing series put all their top races, it seems.

Formula 1 starts things off with the Grand Prix of Monaco. All these jet-setting international playboys racing around the track in front of the royals. Fun stuff for all the rich people watching. There's live coverage on (French).

Then it's The Greatest Spectacle in Racing, the Indianapolis 500. Fast cars, and fast women (Danica Patrick). Jim Nabors singing Back Home in Indiana. The winner getting to drink a bottle of milk. The heartland of America. Fun stuff. Hear it live at

Finally, to end the day, it's off to Charlotte for the Coca-Cola 600, on the NASCAR Nextel Cup circuit. The good ol' boys, doing a little racing under the lights. Check it out at

Needless to say I will be in front of a TV all day Sunday. Life is good for race fans.


More proof that a law degree is better used outside the practise of law, in the land on TV:
Ben Mulroney. Laval law grad. Today: host of Canadian Idol and eTalk Daily.

$400,000 per year for this guy, says Toronto Life. I hear the hours are pretty good, too. The lawyers slaving away across this country are all kicking themselves.

Come to think of it, so are practically all the serious TV journalists in this country, who aren't even close to making this kind of money. I don't even know if Peter Mansbridge or Lloyd Robertson make this kind of cash. No wonder these TV reporters are all so cranky and miserable all the time.

And to think all it took for Ben Mulroney to get on CTV was to get discovered at a PC political convention. When the heck are the rest of us in TV land gonna get discovered and paid $400,000?! Clearly we need to attend more political conventions.

Friday, May 26, 2006


Below, check out a long-pent up political rant about the press corps and their big dispute with Stephen Harper. It's been a long time since I've ranted and raved about Canadian politics- largely because, well, there's been a change of government and I'm very happy with what this government is doing. They're actually keeping promises and getting things done in Ottawa, for a change! The difference from that awful former Liberal government is so stark that it's not even worth ranting about. But this press corps spat- well, that's worth a big rant.

I'll get back to commenting about TV and entertainment again this weekend, probably.


Well, by now everyone in Canada knows about this silly feud between Stephen Harper's Conservative government and the national media. And of course I feel compelled to weigh in on all this, since this spat is getting so ridiculous.

I mean really, about the only dirt the press corps has been able to dig up about this government has been this lack of media access. That's the big scandal du jour in Ottawa these days. Compare this spat to the olden days, of course, when the government would rob taxpayers of their own money and give it to ad agencies in Quebec. What a joke this is.

Matters came to a head in Ottawa earlier this week when Harper had a big press announcement to make, and the press walked out in protest of new rules where the communications people got to pick and choose who asked the questions. I suppose what the Harper gang were trying to do was cut down on all the unruliness and run these press conferences in a manner similar to what the Americans do. Well, the media is having none of that, they're being petulant and walking out of media events, and they're ranting and raving all the time about how this government is micromanaging its own press conferences.

The press is also complaining about how secretive this government is and how the cabinet ministers are all being muzzled, and not allowed to talk to the press. For instance, there's a ridiculous story out there now about how Harper has ordered all his ministers not to comment to reporters about this big gay wedding of these two RCMP officers- because it might get all of them in trouble. Well, what do you expect him to do--- tell his ministers to talk about it?! That's exactly what I mean.

Now, I don't like the fact that Harper's government feels it has to run from the press all the time and not come in contact with reporters. They ought to be able to be accountable and take the heat from time to time. But let's face it, man, the media in this country is absolutely irresponsible! They think they own the world!

The problem is not so much that they are biased. The problem is that the press corps is arrogant. Everyone in the Conservative Party believes it's the former: that the media is biased in favor of the Liberals, and out to twist the Tories' every word and make them out to be a bunch of abortion-hating, right wing lunatics. But reporters say the Paul Martin Liberals were mad at the press gallery, too, because he supposedly complained about the beating he took from them during the election. Which leads me to believe that the press is more arrogant and full of themselves than biased.

They are arrogant, in the sense they feel they have every right to twist every word the government says, and lie and misrepresent what actually goes on on Parliament Hill. If the Tories cannot deal with all that, then too bad, they say, because it proves how incompetent they are at managing the media. According to this group of reporters, the mark of real leadership is the ability of the politicians to effectively deal with all of them, the press corps. If you can't manage the media, then you aren't worthy of managing and running an entire country. That's the mentality of these people in the press gallery.

The Conservatives have had pretty dismal experiences dealing with this sort of attitude from the press. During the merger process, the media played up stories about discontent among disgruntled Progressive Conservatives like Joe Clark and David Orchard, all supposedly angry at the merger. You would have thought from the coverage that the merger wasn't going to happen, that the right was going to tear itself apart. But the media were hell-bent on trying to drum up knife-the-leader and party disunity stories--- from both the Conservative end and from the Liberals. They even played up those stories of disunity during the policy convention in Montreal in 2005. There were screaming headlines about the merger being in jeopardy, which was absolute rubbish. Conservatives were justifiably angry and upset at how dismally they were being portrayed in the national media at that convention.

During the notorious 2004 federal election campaign, the press were on the loose rummaging around for rogue Tories spouting off on abortion and same sex marriage, while totally ignoring what the Conservative platform was actually offering. The public got a totally distorted image of what the party stood for thanks to the national media, who were often reporting Liberal press handouts and propaganda as news. The media played into the Liberals' hands as they made the Tories look as if they had some hidden agenda, like they were out to gut the Supreme Court. Total irresponsibility on the part of the press.

The media were at it again in the 2006 race. They had a cow, claiming Stephen Harper and Peter MacKay contradicted themselves on the independent prosecutor issue, among other things. They were also rummaging around in the last week of the campaign, twisting what Harper had to say at a press conference bout the judiciary to make it seem as if Harper was anti-judiciary. Luckiliy, the press corps decided to turn on the Liberals' media relations team for the "leaks" and the other messes from that war room. The Liberals' inability to manage the media was a big issue with the press in that election campaign. If it hadn't been for the "Liberal mole", who knows what the press corps would have done. They could just as easily savaged the Conservatives again.

So why should Conservatives ever trust the media to truthfully report what is going on in the government? Especially after seeing how this group of piranhas reacted during these campaigns!? No wonder they won't take questions impromptu from reporters these days. They're justifiably afraid these press people will twist their comments out of joint and create a big scandal out of a simple press statement, and make the government look like a bunch of crooks and hypocrites no different from the Liberals. Already the CBC and the Toronto Star and these other places are trying to make it look as if the Conservatives are going back on all their policies and prior statements. They're digging up quotes from years earlier where they showed Harper making some statement about what ought to be done, trying to show that he's flip flopped.

The truth is that this Harper government has been hard at work in Ottawa, cutting the GST and bringing in all the legislation they promised during the election. Everyone sees that they're keeping their campaign promises, that they aren't being a bunch of hypocrites most of the time! But you'd never know that watching the CBC.

I think the media should get used to the fact that the Tories simply do not trust them to report fairly or even truthfully about what is going on in Ottawa. That's the reason nobody will talk to them. Frankly, I am no fan of limited access, either; it doesn't seem like the kind of thing that a government committed to accountability would do. But what do you expect this government to do after the shabby way it's been treated by these reporters?! This press corps is getting exactly the treatment it deserves after all the misreporting and knife-the-leader stories they have done, and with their macho attitudes toward twisting what all these political parties have to say. That sort of "we'll show the government who's boss" type of attitude.

They asked for it! They should quit whining about their treatment, these journalists, and get back to accurate reporting. Only then will the Tories change their minds in Ottawa and start granting access to them again.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Forget about the phantom fall schedule announced at the upfront by NBC last week. After ABC decided to move Grey's Anatomy into the crossfire with CSI on Thursdays at 9PM, NBC has pulled its great hope for the fall schedule, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, right out of that time slot. It will now be shown at 10PM on Mondays, instead. Moreover, they are planning to run their one big hit Deal or No Deal in the Thursday 9PM time slot, so all of a sudden the people at ABC don't look like big geniuses anymore, moving Grey's Anatomy there. Hey, NBC has nothing to lose by doing this, this Deal show is cheap.

And after having a chance to sit back and see what all the other networks are doing they are moving quite a few other shows. TV Squad, with a hat tip to the Futon Critic, lets you in on all the changes here. Among other things NBC is putting Crossing Jordan back on the fall schedule at 8PM on Fridays. And the original Law and Order has been moved out of its long-time Wednesday night time slot, to 10PM on Fridays as well. That means NBC will run that show on the same night that CTV airs the show in Canada (to avoid conflict with CSI:NY).

Those media chumps who sat at the upfront last week sure wasted their time. Crafty people, these folks at NBC. They had everyone fooled about what their real schedule was going to be.


Since I'm in a legal mood tonight... check out the WSJ coverage of the Enron trial at their law blog- the verdict is in and they found Jeff Skilling and Ken Lay guilty. Big news.

According to the counter this is officially my 1000th post at THE CAIRNS BLOG.


The Cannes Film Festival is still going and I have been following the coverage of it recently. Some of the big news items since the big Da Vinci Code screening include the hoopla over the Dreamgirls flick, plus Al Gore appeared at the festival promoting a movie of his own , about the environment.

The thing I find interesting is that the more I read about Cannes, the more I think this is an elitist, closed-to-the-public event. This is the south of France we are talking about. All these film executives, press people and rich folk go to this thing and hoard all the seats. I'm not simply talking about the best seats: I'm talking about all of them! Good luck getting tickets to this thing if you're a normal, Joe Average film fan; you're better off standing in line at the Academy Awards, watching these big stars go in to that. I read Kevin Murphy's book A Year at the Movies and he complained about exactly this sort of thing, too. He spent a whole chapter, ranting and raving about how much difficulty he had getting in to see a freaking movie at Cannes! This is basically one big trade show, this film festival. It is NOT a festival for the real FANS.

At least in a place like Toronto, which has a very popular and prestigious film festival each September, normal people can get into the theatres to watch some of the choice flicks! They have a real shot at getting autographs from celebrities or meet some gorgeous babe like Maria Menounos or somebody like that. Citytv always has that big red carpet event where you get to see all these celebrities walk in to this big exclusive party they have going. So the film fans get to feel they are a part of this festival in Toronto.

But Cannes, well... sounds like only the "beautiful people" and "the elect" get to be a real part of it. The real film fans are stuck outside the theatres, left to rot. Instead of watching good movies on the screen, they are left to watch topless women get suntans on the local beach. Tough luck, feature film fans. Life is bad.

Anyway, here's some Cannes Film Festival sites to go see:
And of course:

I'm sure there's a few more that I'll add. They'll be handing out the Palme d'Or this weekend, too, so watch for that.


I keep track of this stuff, being a geek.

Read over on TVNewser that Rita Cosby's show on MSNBC is being hosted this week by someone named Lauren Lake. Now, Lauren Lake is a criminal defense attorney, a member of three state bars, and appears on a lot of talk shows as a "legal analyst" on Court TV and all the usual places. She moved to New York City to break into entertainment, so she does that, too. Anyway, read about it here. Seems TVNewser is wondering who the heck she is and what the heck journalistic credentials she has. Seems to me pretty obvious: you don't need journalism credentials to work as a talking head on the cable news shows, all you need is an ability to talk. That's it! And criminal lawyers do talk a lot.

I guess this is still a direction I am interested in pursuing, something connected with criminal law and the criminal justice system in some way. Or maybe I'm simply more interested in getting back on TV. I think maybe, just maybe, I've watched too much Geraldo. Come to think of it, that's entirely it.


That's how many were cast during the finals of American Idol, according to Ryan Seacrest last night on the show. He said that's more votes than were cast for any Presidential winner in any election.

Uh, wait a minute. I know for a fact that there weren't 63 million people voting for American Idol. For one thing, only about 30 million people tuned into the show to begin with. So that's number one. Second, I know for a fact that there were people out there casting several dozen, even hundreds of votes by phone and by text-messaging. If you check out the boards over at, so many of the people on there were bragging about casting multiple votes. Some were claiming they got in well over a hundred votes during the time the "polls" were open on both coasts. A hundred votes.

The same thing happens on CTV's Canadian Idol; in fact, on last year's show the number of votes recorded exceeded the entire population of Canada. This is no joke, this really happened. Now, I'm sure millions of people cast their votes in the final for American Idol. But don't tell me it was 63 million actual people who voted, because that is so much nonsense. I'm sure all these E.R. medical doctors, and these high-powered corporate attorneys who work all night, and these diplomats and these high-level political people were all watching and ringing those phones, and text-messaging their votes. Fat chance.

Speaking of political people, I noticed a newspaper headline today that claimed that Taylor Hicks' victory on last night's show was a victory for "Red State America." I dunno about that one, this vote sure didn't come down to political or cultural divides this time. Maybe they think it's another "Red State" victory because Hicks is from Alabama, and represents "Soul Patrol", while Katharine McPhee was from California. I don't think people really cared about where they came from, honestly. What people really cared about and were complaining about in the end was how bland and mainstream these two were. What got many people hot under the collar were the dreck middle-of-the-road songs that were selected for these two to sing as their original debut singles. Everyone is blaming the songwriters for Katharine's defeat, because her song was so bad that it got trashed by the judges on national television. Most people recognize, though, that these two contestants had to go "mainstream" and sing all these tunes designed to appeal to all these soccer moms out there in the viewing audience.

What ended up happening was that the die-hards ignored the performances and voted for their favorites anyway. Then you had the "Votefortheworst" people who were out to sabotage the entire competition and make a statement about what they thought about the quality of the music they were getting from this show. That whole crowd endorsed and voted for Taylor Hicks, mainly because they thought he was a joke.

So I don't think it came down to political/cultural lines at all. If you wanted to really talk about this Red State/Blue State business, last year's Idol vote was the time to do it. That divide, in that vote, was soooo obvious. Carrie Underwood, "Jesus Take the Wheel"... talk about your family values. Ugh.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


They may have killed off another A.D.A. on Law and Order, and NBC execs killed Conviction, but the legal crime drama is still alive and kicking on TV. Proof of that is CBS' decision last week to pick up yet another crime-fighting show to add to their already-loaded schedule: Shark, starring James Woods. What's more, they're plunking it at 10pm on Thursday night, a prime slot right after C.S.I. that was occupied until now by Without a Trace.

Woods is playing the high-powered and aggressive celebrity defense attorney, Sebastian Stark, who all of a sudden switches over to lead a high-profile crime unit to fight the bad guys. The premise is that this guy has to lead a team of young lawyers and also get used to the culture shock of having to serve the public, instead of himself. That leads to a lot of tension with his new boss (Jeri Ryan), who may not see eye-to-eye with Stark's aggressive style.

Now, I think this is a pretty unusual situation to begin with. You do not usually have successful, aggressive defense attorneys taking that monumental pay cut to join the D.A.'s office. Usually, it's the other way around. It's the prosecutors who end up bailing to become defense attorneys, largely because they get fed up with the civil service wages or with the politics involved at the D.A.'s office. The writers are going to have to come up with some compelling reason why Stark signed on to this new job, because these big defense attorneys normally wouldn't bother! From what I gather, it has to do with one of Stark's former clients going on to kill again. So that's apparently why he's changed sides. I see possibilities for the writers to come up with episodes where Stark might second-guess his own decision to take on this new prosecutorial gig. He could say "I junked the big money for this? Am I crazy?" Stark could also find himself in situations where his prosecutorial style might get him in trouble; he might end up going after and convicting innocent people for crimes they didn't commit, and have to turn around and set things right again. I'm looking forward to seeing what this character is all about and how he deals with this new situation. Interesting stuff.

Imagine TV and 20th Century Fox were able to get this series off the ground by grabbing Woods, and also by securing Spike Lee to direct the pilot episode. Lee came off directing Inside Man, which featured a lot of action and was loaded with cops and robbers. I'm expecting the same with this show; plenty of crime-fighting for the procedural show crowd. Shark sounds like it has lots of potential, given the impressive group of people they have behind this one.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Welcome to Election Night--- for American Idol, that is. Voting still under way across America. The polls are not yet open on the West Coast at this hour, the show isn't on there yet.

What nonsense this is, people phoning up and jamming the lines to vote for Taylor Hicks or Katharine McPhee. Truly, these folks are in need of lives. There are reporters out there doing TV news stories claiming that people are more interested in voting for American Idol than for President of the United States--- especially young people. They even did a movie in Hollywood called American Dreamz, alleging all this sort of nonsense. What baloney. What is really happening is that the same die-hard fans of the show are calling up at least 10 times to vote for their favorites. It's the same group of people phoning every week, casting their votes.

You don't have this sort of thing happening in presidential or congressional races. In fact, it better not happen, people casting multiple votes in presidential elections! There's a word for that sort of thing: election fraud. Here, though, with American Idol, nobody cares who phones up or whether you're under the age of 18 or not, or if you are a U.S. citizen or not. You can be an illegal immigrant who snuck in from Mexico, and you can still vote for American Idol! You can impersonate a dead person and empty the cemeteries if you want to; it doesn't matter! All you need to do is pick up the phone. Anything goes with this election! The election rules are lax as all hell; so lax, in fact, that it's a joke. People taking this Idol vote seriously deserve to be laughed at. But lots of people are tuning in, I heard it was estimated to be something like 30 million people- roughly the population of Canada.

The people at aren't taking this vote seriously at all. They just want to have fun, trying to sabotage the Idol vote and get the least talented Idol elected. Last year, their endorsement went to Republican Carrie Underwood ("Jesus Take the Wheel") who beat Democrat Bo Bice. Did I say Republican versus Democrat?! It sure seemed that way, the contrast between the country singer Underwood and the rocker Bice could not have been sharper. It was Red State America versus Blue State America all the way.

This year, it's been hard to get excited about the finale. Votefortheworst has endorsed Taylor Hicks as the "worst" singer, although in the last few weeks Katharine McPhee has been underwhelming the fans with some mediocre efforts. One night she even forgot her lines, and Randy Jackson noticed and let America know she muffed her lines. Tonight, she blew her last song and looked decidedly mediocre on the night. Hicks looked OK, but he's had moments where he's looked like a guy trying in vain to do a bad imitation of Elvis Presley. So it really doesn't matter who wins in the end: another ho-hum singer will capture American Idol and Votefortheworst will be able to claim victory. I wouldn't be surprised if people looking to sabotage American Idol all ignore the Votefortheworst endorsement of Hicks and vote for McPhee instead, after her miserable performance tonight.

It's difficult to argue that the most deserving talent is going to win this thing. Contestant Chris Daughtry was arguably the most gifted singer of this current bunch. Yet he got the boot a couple of weeks ago, in a big upset. Like Bo Bice before him, Daughtry was just too cool and too rough around the edges for the boring, God-fearing people of middle America. But the great rockers of history were always too much for America.

That's the trouble with this show! This show seems hopelessly designed to produce another Whitney or Celine! This show doesn't seem capable of producing another Elvis, or another Buddy Holly or Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen or Madonna or Michael Jackson or... wait, maybe we don't want another Michael Jackson. But you get the idea.

When is this show ever going to produce a "real" American Idol? Until it does, you just can't take these votes seriously.


The big news today is that there are big changes happening at ABC News. Charles Gibson is the new sole anchor of World News Tonight, beginning next month, and is leaving Good Morning America. Out is Elizabeth Vargas, after five months at the anchor chair. Also out is Bob Woodruff, still recuperating from his injuries suffered from that roadside bomb in Iraq. He will be welcomed back to the broadcast first as a correspondent, whenever he returns to full health. The expectation is he will eventually get the anchor chair back if he's well enough, maybe as Gibson's successor.

This isn't very surprising news, the stories and the rumors have been going on for weeks now that this change was going to happen. People were starting to question the direction of ABC News and criticized the apparent lack of leadership over there, from the President of the news division right on down. The evening newscast has been totally rudderless for a year now, ever since Peter Jennings was first diagnosed with lung cancer. It took them forever to make a decision on a new anchor team to replace him, and it's taken them forever to figure out what to do about replacing the injured Bob Woodruff and replacing Elizabeth Vargas, who was going to have to leave the broadcast anyway because of her pregnancy. The papers were filled with stories about Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer all manuevering for the evening news anchor job and it was getting to be pretty embarrassing for everyone concerned. It made Sawyer look like a diva, it undermined Elizabeth Vargas, and it made the whole news division look like a train wreck.

Vargas sent out a statement claiming that she's leaving the anchor chair on her doctor's advice because she cannot take on the full commitment to the anchor chair at World News Tonight. Sure, and the moon is made of green cheese.

It is pretty obvious to me Vargas was pushed out, for the most obvious reason possible: ratings. It was bad enough that CBS got a lot of buzz by naming Katie Couric their new anchor. But then two weeks ago the nightmare scenario came true when the CBS Evening News, under lame-duck anchor Bob Schieffer, beat World News Tonight in the ratings for the first time in, well, ages. That's a third-place finish for WNT for the first time in years, with Katie Couric not even on the air at CBS yet!

So much for this theory that this new, young anchor team would attract young people to watch ABC News. They figured that ABC News was going to develop this young next-generation anchor team, and that it was better off for ABC to keep Charlie Gibson marooned at Good Morning America, because that was where the money was in TV news and where the stars of TV news needed to be these days, and the evening newscasts aren't important anymore anyways, and so on and so forth.

But then ABC News discovered that the evening newscasts were pretty important after all. The Katie Couric defection to CBS from the Today Show changed the game for ABC. By turning down a big boatful of money to stay at NBC, Katie Couric made it clear to everyone what she thought the prestige gig was in her estimation. Morning television is great, but the evening news is where the A-list people go, and Katie Couric made that abundantly clear. ABC found its strategy of keeping all its A-list people stuck at GMA was out of step with where the business was going.

Moreover, WNT was left exposed to the competition thanks to this strategy. Developing a next-generation team of news anchors was a great long-term strategy. The problem was it needed to work in the short term before you could even think of it working long-term. Bob Woodruff got injured, and ABC discovered quickly that Elizabeth Vargas was out of her league as a solo anchor. She didn't have the buzz that Katie had, and she lacked the hard-news credibility and experience of Brian Williams or Bob Schieffer. She looked like a B-lister in a job meant for an A-list veteran. ABC News even had to bring in their two big guns, Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer, from Good Morning America to co-anchor and help her out on special events like the State of the Union. That made her look really bad, as if she couldn't carry a show. I even wrote about that whole episode and declared: "it sucks to be Elizabeth Vargas".

Most important, though, her ratings have stunk. That's why she's out of there in record time. What a total debacle this has turned out to be at ABC. I wonder if Vargas might receive a phone call from Kevin Newman, who himself got pulled off hosting duties at Good Morning America in record time, all because of bad ratings. Newman knows what it's like to be laid low by this business. He might want to tell Vargas to hang in there, and don't let the bastards get you down. Or something.

This has further cemented the reputation of the anchor chair at ABC News as the "chair of doom". So many of its anchors- pretty much all of them, when you think of it- have either (a) died, or (b) been fired/demoted. At least Vargas is leaving with her health still intact. But still, to be pulled and demoted after only five months as anchor of World News Tonight--- what else is there to say? It's pretty humiliating.

As for Charles Gibson finally taking over the anchor spot that ought to have been his from the beginning, all I've got to say is why the heck didn't they just give him the job to begin with? They could have simply given him the job last year, after Peter Jennings died, and saved themselves this year of instability at that broadcast. But then, of course, they wanted to keep him at Good Morning America. They had their reasons for keeping Gibson there, and we see now where that strategy got them: nowhere. ABC wasted an entire year chasing the Today Show, a year they could have spent stabilizing World News Tonight with Charles Gibson. They could have replaced Gibson in the mornings and the audience would have had a full year to get used to his replacement in advance of the big changes coming at NBC's Today Show. Now, they have to find a new co-host for GMA with no head-start over NBC, nothing. The second-guessers are having a field day with what's gone down over there.

Now ABC has finally settled on Charles Gibson at World News Tonight, figuring his experience will give them the "credibility" in the anchor chair that CBS will apparently put at risk by going with Katie Couric. The TV news pundits figure a lot of people will bolt CBS to watch Gibson once Bob Schieffer leaves, because these viewers will think Couric's some sort of tabloid artist. And they are probably right. In the experience and credibility department, Gibson has Couric all beat in my estimation and in the estimation of a lot of other people. He has proven experience getting good ratings and covering the big stories. It made no sense to continue to deny Gibson the evening news anchor chair that he wanted, especially when CBS was handing their anchor seat over to his chief rival morning show host Katie Couric for millions of dollars.

Again, the folks at Disney could have installed Gibson last fall and saved themselves a lot of trouble. ABC had their man all along with Gibson, and they just plain blew it. The succession plan at ABC News has been a mess.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


The latest numbers, as reported at Nikki Finke's site: $224 million take worldwide is the second highest opening weekend in history. $77 million alone in the United States puts it at 13th overall. Not only one of the biggest hits of all time, but truly a phenomenon up there with Star Wars. See for all the latest.

The predominantly Catholic countries (ie. Europe) are driving the big numbers; it's also doing big business in places like Japan and in countries where there's a lot of controversy surrounding the film.

The critics still hate the movie, though not quite as much as a few days ago. The latest Rotten Tomatometer has the film now up to 22% fresh. At least it's ahead of See No Evil. That horror flick has a Tomato rating of, get this, 0%! Not a single movie critic in the whole wide world likes See No Evil. I expect that movie will end up getting paying customers--- the same customers who thumb their noses and claim they never listen to what movie critics have to say.


None of the other TV writers seem to care about this, but since I'm a big sports fan I might as well share some of the changes that are coming with prime-time sports coverage in the fall. In short, all the action has moved to the weekends, it seems.

On Friday nights, the new CW network will have Friday Night Smackdown! on again. Okay, okay, wrestling is not a sport. But TSN up here in Canada seems to think it is, and so does The Score. Anyway, the top wrestling series on network television is back for another season.

On Saturday nights, ABC will be turning over this ghetto of prime-time programming into a night of college football. They will be showing 12 weeks of college football on Saturday nights, culminating with the Big 12 championship game. They were sort of doing this anyway, showing games on Saturday nights, but now it will be a regular part of the schedule every week on ABC. Besides, they need a prime time sports series on ABC to replace Monday Night Football, which is now on ESPN.

Finally, Sunday Night Football will be on the air on NBC beginning this fall. This promises to be the premiere prime-time pro football package as NBC, in conjunction with the NFL, will be able to pick the seven most promising matchups in the final weeks of the season and show them in prime time. So if a game has playoff implications it will get bumped to prime time and NBC will show it, so we'll be spared from seeing all these meaningless late-season prime time games that we used to see on ABC and ESPN. They have a great crew lined up with Bob Costas, Cris Collinsworth and Jerome Bettis in the studio and the legends Al Michaels and John Madden in the booth again. The last time NBC had the rights to the NFL, they carried the AFC games virtually forever, so this will be quite a departure from what they used to do. They're going to make an event out of it, which is great.

I think it's terrific that NBC is covering major sports again, and about time, too. Everyone got fed up watching their crummy arena football games and junk sports every weekend. Last week, they even carried poker! And who can ever forget the XFL. Thank heavens, they are finally covering some real sports again like the NHL and the NFL.

Of course there are other prime-time sports events planned for the networks. FOX of course will turn Octobers over to prime-time coverage of the baseball playoffs and World Series. FOX and CBS should also have plenty of late-season and playoff NFL football coverage in prime time, and CBS will have March Madness as well. FOX also has the BCS rights for the first time (replacing ABC), while NBC will show the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time this June. ABC, of course, has the NBA finals again and some playoff games in prime time, plus that golf challenge event that Tiger Woods usually has on a Monday night during the summer. So quite a few changes in store with respect to sports coverage in prime time in the USA.

One thing to watch out for, the FOX baseball contract ends at the end of this season so there might be changes on the horizon to the baseball package if another player decides to go after the rights, such as ABC or NBC. Both those networks carried baseball for the longest time. The betting is that FOX will retain the rights, though, especially since NBC spent like crazy to get the NFL rights back. We'll see.


I should write about TV more often, it's been a lot of fun covering these upfronts and following the season finales from the comfort of my own home.

Unfortunately, the TV columnists like Aaron Barnhart of the Kansas City Star actually had to go attend these things. Check out this hilarious thread here about his awful experience at the Armory in New York City, at the FOX presentation. Comedian Brad Garrett was there, and well, he wasn't very funny, apparently. Sounds like these press people in the audience were about as cranky as the film critics who sat in that theatre to watch The Da Vinci Code.

Whatever Aaron Barnhart is being paid, it doesn't sound like it's nearly enough.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


Check out this article at Nikki Finke's website, which tells you all you need to know about how good business is at the theatres for The Da Vinci Code. Reports of long lineups everywhere, all over the world. According to the rival studios this movie is going to pull in an estimated $80 million dollars. BoxOfficeMojo says that on Friday this movie had the 12th biggest box office opening of all time.

This is more proof that the film critics do not matter. Very few critics are recommending that people see this movie; Rotten Tomatoes critics have pelted Da Vinci big time. It's getting fewer good notices than Poseidon, or R.V., even. But these film critics are all being ignored. So many of these polls of filmgoers say that people generally ignore what the critics have to say when it comes to movies. In fact, there are filmgoers out there who say that if the movie gets panned, they'll go see it, just to spite the critics! Then they'll try and convince themselves that the movie was good and that they actually had a good time at it, even when the movie sucked. No wonder, then, that we end up with such garbage at the local cinemas all the time, all these junk sequels and other such rubbish, but that's another story.


Some critics are being brave. In fact, both Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper are bucking the trend and giving this Da Vinci movie two thumbs up.

How could these two be so out of touch with the rest of these film critics, 81% of whom are thumbing their noses at this movie? I think it could be because these two guys, in film criticism terms, are big populists. They don't review FILM, they review MOVIES! They don't go to the movies looking for "high art" or any of that; they just want to see good flicks! And if it turns out to be high art, well, that's a bonus with them. They tend to review from the ordinary filmgoer's perspective, if you will, and Ebert's former partner Gene Siskel was much the same way. It could well be that these two didn't watch this film in that same, miserable theatre in the south of France as their fellow critics did; so they didn't hear all the complaining and bellyaching. But I think Ebert and Roeper were fascinated by the story and were interested in the cinematography and the locations. I'm convinced this is why they saw something in The Da Vinci Code that most other critics didn't. Then again, they could be totally out to lunch on this one, because the cartoon Over the Hedge is getting rave reviews everywhere and stands to do reasonably good business.

Perhaps Ebert and Roeper know this movie is going to be a huge hit, and don't want to have to go through all the thousands of angry e-mails from all these people raking them over the coals for trashing this movie. So they simply said the heck with it, figured it wasn't that bad a movie anyway, and decided they might as well recommend it.

All in all this looks like a big weekend at the movie theatres and with XIII: The Last Stand coming out to huge buzz and a lot of hype, maybe this summer will indeed be a summer of big business at the theatres. For a change. The people at Sony will be saying "Thank God" about the weekend grosses. They will be praising the Lord as they count all their money and conjuring up ideas for a sure-fire cash-cow sequel.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


She's dead, too.

Or rather, her character on the O.C., is. Marissa Cooper- killed when her car was run off the road after high-school graduation was over.

Well, that'll really mess up the O.C. reunion show whenever it happens, unless they decide to have one of these characters dream up this entire last season or something like that- and invite Mischa back. Heck, that's what they did on Dallas.

I dunno what's gotten into these writers in Hollywood. They're in a bloodthirsty mood, killing these women off all the time.


As predicted it was a bloodbath at the CW upfront today.

These shows have made the cut: from the WB, it's Gilmore Girls, Smallville, Supernatural, One Tree Hill, Beauty and the Geek, and surprisingly, 7th Heaven, which somehow got revived after airing what was supposed to have been their final show ever last week. From the UPN net, it's WWE Smackdown, Girlfriends, All of Us, Veronica Mars, Everybody Hates Chris and America's Next Top Model.

Now the bloodbath. Everwood, gone! Reba, gone! Pepper Dennis, gone! The Bedford Diaries, gone! Blue Collar TV, GONE! Charmed was going to be cancelled anyways, but still, it is a bloodbath, largely at the WB. I'm mad because I happen to sort of like Pepper Dennis, mainly because I like Rebecca Romijn and think she's hot. Maybe they'll give her and Brooke Burns parts on Las Vegas, another show ridiculously loaded with babes. But that show is on NBC.

There was also a bloodbath at UPN, but they were all shows that nobody watched anyway, so no one will miss them (Love, Inc., etcetera). There are going to be a few new shows on the CW, but really, nobody cares. I would have probably cared if they picked up Aquaman, but they didn't.

There was a big story in the papers some time ago that Reba was getting cancelled in spite of pretty good ratings, but apparently the demos weren't that great--- too many old people watching. You can't have old people watching TV, it's illegal! There's some law out there in TV land that says that people over the age of 49 aren't allowed to watch TV shows, period. The networks, and the CW in particular, all want to reach young audiences to suit the ad people. So the people over age 49 all end up watching the news instead, by default. ( Anyone see the demos for the cable news channels recently?! Ay yi yi.)

Anyway, that's the CW news for you.

UPDATE: Check that, Reba has NOT been cancelled after all. I read on Futon Critic that there was a last-minute about-face on the decision to cancel this show, and they decided to order 13 more episodes late Wednesday. The bad news: Pepper Dennis is still cancelled. Someone please give Rebecca a job.


By now you know all about the hostile critical reaction at the Cannes Film Festival to the Da Vinci Code. Or, as I'll call it, Da Vinci's Inquest, because these critics are performing what amounts to an autopsy on this movie.

Boos, catcalls, stone-silence at the end of the screening. Not pleasant. This Bloomberg story sums up the reaction for you. The New York screening, apparently, was not much different. Critics everywhere panned this flick. Rotten Tomatoes has this movie at 19% right now. Pretty dismal performance for a movie by Ron Howard.

Amazingly some people actually like this flick. Mary Hart was on Entertainment Tonight at the Cannes Film Festival and describes this movie with one word: "wow!" It's nice to know that the Da Vinci Code advertising people will be able to use at least one quote praising their movie; Mary Hart says "wow!". Incredibly, Roger Ebert also liked this movie. Then again, he also panned Wedding Crashers, a movie I liked a heck of a lot. He could be losing it. Who knows.

We'll see how this flick fares at the box office, it may be a big hit in spite of the critical reaction. A lot of people claim that they ignore what the critics say anyway, they say they give away too much of the plot.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Annie Parisse's character was kidnapped and murdered in tonight's terrifying, gruesome season finale episode of Law and Order.

Well, who cares about reality TV shows after watching that, those guys will still be alive after their torch gets snuffed out! What an awful way for that character to go out, what a terrible fate. Aspirating on her own duct-tape. Yikes. R.I.P. Alexandra Borgia.

Couldn't they have found a more dignified way for her to exit the show, instead of leaving in a bodybag?! I know people were highly critical over Elisabeth Rohm outing herself as a lesbian in her final scene, calling that scene unbelievable. But at least that ending was kind of funny. Here, we knew Annie Parisse was leaving, but compared to the other memorable ways that cast members departed this series in the past, this was just too depressing. This was too much, seeing her get grabbed and kidnapped on TV with her face duct-taped, and then having Jack McCoy and the cops find her dead body.

Maybe the writers figured that they had their episode where some beloved character got fired or quit or got suspended, or got killed in a car accident, or decided she was a lesbian or whatever. Now was the time to get somebody murdered. Well, it was original, I'll say that for it, bumping a cast member off in such a gory manner. Oh, and by the way, this isn't the only show doing this, the killing isn't over on network TV.

Tune in to The O.C. Thursday night. Fox has been heavily promoting the fact that one of the main characters dies on tomorrow night's show, and that everyone will be talking about it. I'll bet it's Mischa Barton, Her departure would be big news. But who knows. And it probably won't be a murder, it'll probably be some accident or something. We'll find out tomorrow.

Back to Law and Order. You know, I wonder if we may see more cast changes next season beyond what happened on tonight's show. I read that Dick Wolf is upset at how bad the ratings are for the show these days and that even Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston's character) might be on the chopping block. I could definitely see McCoy getting stripped of his bar card on a later episode over his antics on tonight's show, making shady deals and trying to get his revenge for Borgia's killing. There are also lots of people who thought one or more of the cops might leave the cast; that could still happen. Possibly next year we could see a lot of cast changes happening throughout the season. Maybe they'll bring on board some of the people from Conviction, which was just cancelled. Changes are definitely coming.

UPDATE: Check out the reaction over at Gothamist. "Attractive young actresses who look great in a suit, beware: If you're cast as the new assistant district attorney to work with Jack McCoy, your character might come to some sort of strange end." True.


Only four new shows. Story here. Gotta run: want to tune in the Champions League finale. Yes, there are other sports besides hockey, though most Canadians really don't care.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


This week I'm going nuts covering the TV network upfronts happening in New York City, right here on the CAIRNS BLOG. Fun stuff.

Tomorrow, CBS unveils its fall season. Thursday will be the CW. Also, FOX.

The CW's lineup ought to be really interesting: they have to merge two networks into one, so they have to cut a bunch of shows. So it's going to be a big bloodbath in Hollywood, for sure, on Thursday. In fact, this whole week has been a bloodbath for a lot of people and a lot of shows. It's like the day after the baseball or football season, when all these coaches and managers get fired. (I read on TVSquad that Veronica Mars and One Tree Hill got renewed, though.)

Also, tomorrow the Cannes Film Festival opens with the big world premiere of The Da Vinci Code.Already all the religious-type people are up in arms about this movie and about how much it skewers the Catholic Church and makes it look really bad, and so on and so forth. Anyway, quite a week. We'll see how it does at the box office.


Expect a big season finale for Law and Order tomorrow.

With rumors of cast changes afoot for the next season, with Annie Parisse quitting the show and with S. Epatha Merkerson supposedly unhappy with the way the episode was written (so says Fox News), there should be high drama tomorrow. The producers are tight-lipped, saying there are supposed to be surprising developments in tomorrow night's show. We do know this: in the upfront the other day, Kevin Reilly of NBC Entertainment said cast changes were on the way for the series.

Here's what NBC has to say about the episode entitled Invaders, straight from their own web site:

The latest murder victims of two home invaders are the family members of a man who once sold fake DEA badges to the killers and then began secretly cooperating with police. The case takes a harrowing turn when one of the law enforcement teams is put in the line of fire. In a legal gambit, A.D.A. McCoy (Sam Waterston) must then risk his career -- and those of others, as well -- to bend the rules and use corrupt DEA Agent Almonte (guest star Ritchie Coster) to lure out the sadistic psychopaths.

It sure looks like old Jack McCoy's antics on tomorrow night's show may blow up the careers of one or more of these Law and Order characters. Definitely expect some fireworks and hopefully a memorable ending along the lines of the Chris Noth punch-out, or the Jill Hennessy car accident death, or the Elisabeth Rohm "is it because I'm a lesbian?" line. We know for sure that Annie Parisse is gone; maybe Dennis Farina gets the boot tomorrow, too- there's rumors out there surrounding him. Then again, it could just be wishful thinking by fans who don't like him on the show. People are still in mourning over Jerry Orbach's loss. Who knows.

Should be good. This is why we still watch this show, folks, after 16 years.


After some sober second thought I've come to the conclusion that, you know what, The Apprentice is going to be killed in its new Sunday night time slot! This show is finished!

Not only does this show face Desperate Housewives, the top show on television, but they're also going head to head with the final episodes of The Sopranos, over on HBO! I know there are people who are saying that show isn't what it used to be, anymore, either, but still, there will be huge hype because the show is coming to an end!

Not only that, but in the early part of the season there will be football on CBS to contend with, too! CBS is the home of Super Bowl XLI! Nobody beats the Super Bowl, and to make matters worse, usually CBS premieres the new season of Survivor or one of its new shows after the Super Bowl telecast is over. Imagine if a Mark Burnett show on CBS ends up beating a Mark Burnett show in the ratings on NBC on Super Bowl night.

Another problem is that in Canada, where The Apprentice is still a hit show, the move to Sunday is going to create real havoc with the Global TV lineup. Global runs the big FOX all-cartoon lineup on Sunday evenings with The Simpsons and everyone else, so where are they going to put The Apprentice? They might decide to run the show instead on their sister station, CH. Either that, or put it on at their regular hour on Global and run Family Guy on CH instead. They can't put The Apprentice on later in the week, by then everyone will have tuned in NBC on Sunday and will have found out who was fired already. This was one of Global's few big hits, The Apprentice, and now it's in the drink. What a state of affairs on both sides of the border. This show is so DEAD.

The one good thing about this, though, is that maybe Donald Trump will be suitably humbled by the swift decline of his show. We're all going to be spared his boasting about how great his show is, how it's the Number One show on television and so on, when the hard truth is that this series is burning out quickly. Maybe now they'll get serious about improving the show and making it a series about how to get ahead in business again, because that's their one and only hope at survival. We should hope so.


Today ABC announced its prime-time fall lineup and in a bold move sent Grey's Anatomy to Thursday nights at 9PM, in a bid to knock off CSI over on CBS.

The news reports are calling this an "aggressive" strategy by ABC, moving a rising hit show to a tough time period to try and knock off CSI. There's a better word to describe this strategy, though: "crazy".

The heck are they thinking moving Grey's Anatomy from a winning time slot on Sundays to a night when CSI routinely cleans everyone's clock? Thursday is literally the night of death for ABC. This was the night where Alias was sent to die. Of course, it's different here because ABC is giving Grey's Anatomy a big vote of confidence by sending it into battle with CBS. But still, it's going against CSI!

Maybe they think Grey's Anatomy will help ABC turn the night around quickly for them and help the network become Number One overall. Maybe that show can take down CSI a notch and ensure that an ABC show like Desperate Housewives or Lost becomes the number one show for the entire season. Maybe they also think they can make a hit out of any show that follows Desperate Housewives. But I just don't see how they can knock off CSI, especially since CSI has a lot of female viewers who are hooked on the show. In fact I read that a lot of these procedural-type shows have big female audiences. And fat chance that you'll be seeing the guys who also tune in to CSI switching the channel to Grey's Anatomy.

Something else has got to be in play here. I think what this really is, here, is a daring attempt by ABC to absolutely kill NBC on its traditional strong night of the schedule. NBC is moving its rising comedies My Name is Earl and The Office to the 8PM hour, and is premiering one of its best new Thursday hopes, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, in the CSI time period. Maybe ABC figures that by turning the 9PM time slot into a showdown between ABC and CBS that they can cripple the best new show NBC has and get it cancelled fast, and destroy the lead-in for E.R. while they're at it. They could help run E.R. right off the air! If E.R. is cancelled, what show will the E.R. fans have to watch? You guessed it: Grey's Anatomy.

Is ABC being crazy? Yes. But they aren't being stupid. This is a brilliant move on their part, moving Grey's Anatomy to Thursdays, but not for the obvious reasons people might think of. We'll see how this plays out. I gather Studio 60's Aaron Sorkin and Matthew Perry are going to want to see a doctor over this news. Same with all the programmers over at NBC. This ABC move has created one big headache for all of them, already.

Monday, May 15, 2006


NBC announced its fall schedule today and is heavy with new dramas. I think this lineup looks reasonably promising; they needed to clear out a lot of old shows from the schedule to make room for a lot of promising ones and it looks like they have done that. One of the more promising ones is Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, an Aaron Sorkin venture featuring Matthew Perry in the cast. Hopefully, it won't end up being another Joey.

The lineup information comes straight from the press release at The Futon Critic (new series in caps):

"Deal or No Deal", "HEROES", "Medium"

"FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS", "KIDNAPPED", "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"

"The Biggest Loser", "20 GOOD YEARS", "30 ROCK", "Law & Order"

"My Name Is Earl", "The Office", "STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP", "ER"/("THE BLACK DONNELLYS" in January 2007)

"Deal or No Deal", "Las Vegas", "Law & Order: Criminal Intent"

"Dateline Saturday" , Drama Series Encores


Scrubs and Crossing Jordan will be back later in the season. And for those wondering what happened to The Apprentice, well, don't have a heart attack, it's still on. Barely. See below.


NBC announced its upfronts today and, in what surely is a stunning announcement for fans of the series, The Apprentice 6 slated for Los Angeles will not be part of the fall schedule. Instead, it will air in January, at 9PM, after the Football Night in America season is over.

It could have been worse. It sure looks now as if this show came very close to being out-and-out cancelled by NBC. There was some speculation on the blogs (Reality Blurred) and elsewhere (the Television Without Pity boards) that this show was possibly on the chopping block! This was in spite of all the NBC promos urging people to audition for season six in LA. It's hard to believe that people at NBC were actually considering giving Donald Trump the boot, but his show has had a terrible year. The ratings this season have been awful, with regular third-or-fourth place finishes in its Monday time slot every week. The numbers were so bad that they took this show off the air for one week, to make room for the awful Celebrity Cooking Showdown. Had that show not been such a complete flop for NBC, who knows what would have happened. The Apprentice 6 could very well have gotten banished to CNBC next season. So I think it's fair to say this show came stunningly close to being cancelled. Most other network shows would get the boot after a season such as this one. But despite its decline, this sinking Apprentice show will get one more shot ( a last shot?) at saving itself from the axe.

For what its worth, I think this is a necessary move for the show, putting it on ice for a while and moving it out of Mondays. Last fall's overexposure, with the Donald and Martha Stewart airing on two consecutive nights, burned people out on this show. Same with the carping and the bickering between the two of them. Of course, the infamous move to Mondays against 24 has just killed this show. Now the final humiliation: the Apprentice series is moving to the Siberia of the whole NBC schedule. Sunday Night--- the night that finished The West Wing off for good.

I sort of have an unconventional view of this new night for the show. I actually think that by moving The Apprentice to Sunday nights this series may stand a chance of attracting all the alpha-males and football fans who want to see some competitive reality on Sunday nights after the football season is over. NBC's audience on Sundays is bound to go up with the acquisition of the NFL. NBC has to hope The Apprentice 6 will hold on to this audience: all the guys repulsed by ABC's Desperate Housewives. But that show is still on a roll: Housewives smoked the Survivor finale in the ratings last night, which is really bad news for the whole reality genre. I know lots of people are going to say this new time slot is total death for the Apprentice show, but I don't know of any better place to put this series. Desperate Housewives is tough competition, but no worse than being served up against 24 or CSI.

This series really does need some time off. It will be good for The Apprentice to be away from their fans for awhile. By the time it airs again, the fans will be excited and so happy to see the show return to the air again that maybe there might be a revival of interest. And maybe we'll get a season 7.

The other thing that will be needed is a total rethink of the way these tasks are done on this show. The fans have been highly critical of this season's competitions. They've blasted the show for all the infighting they see on it, saying that this has become a show about bitching and complaining and that this series no longer teaches valuable lessons on how to make it in business. Clearly this show has to get back to basics. Too many people have grown cynical this season, feeling the fix is in on a lot of these tasks. Especially this season, with these "judges" coming in and making some questionable calls about which team won or lost. Donald Trump and Mark Burnett have a lot of decisions to ponder about the direction of the show, or else they may not have a show for much longer.


Tonight was the big premiere of Canoe Live on SUN TV and you can see it on-line as well at 6PM every night at

I have a general comment. Why the heck do these media companies in Canada think that it's a good idea to put their newspaper people on the air on TV all the time? You don't see this happening much in the United States or anywhere else in the world, you don't see The Washington Post or USA Today on TV. But in Canada they're bent on shoving their newspaper people onto the TV screens of the stations they own, whether we want to see these jokers or not.

It doesn't matter whether it's the Globe and Mail, the National Post, the Toronto Star, the Sun, or anywhere else. TV is not the newspapers, it's TV! You're supposed to put TV shows on TV, not a bunch of columnists! Columnists are supposed to be in the paper, ranting and raving there! But there's no point to seeing them rant about the same stuff they are writing in the paper, especially if these folks happen to be no good on TV. They aren't TV people, and it usually shows!

I don't want to tune into some boring, ugly-looking newspaper reporters on TV, or watch any program that basically functions as a one-hour advertisements to buy your newspaper. I remember when Global National basically functioned as an advertisement for the National Post every night, plugging the stories that would appear in the paper in the next morning's edition. These media companies across Canada have been doing this for years, calling this "convergence." As if this is the wave of the future. There's another, better word for it: cheap. As in: cheap junk.

Now I know that there are shows out there with serious newspaper people on it, like Ebert and Roeper. And I know that TSN puts on print guys like Bob McKenzie all the time. But that's different, at least those guys have some stage presence! And usually they're experts at whatever the heck they're talking about! What's the point of showing the usual SUN columnists like Peter Worthington or Christina Blizzard on TV? Or even Jane Taber over on CTV?! Nobody wants to see them, they're not experts! There's no point to having them on TV. What people tune in to TV to watch is the latest episode of CSI or Idol.

Just think if your local newspaper featured William Peterson or Marg Helgenberger writing about the latest crimes on a regular basis, or weekly relationship columns by Teri Hatcher. You get my point. TV is not the newspaper, and newspapers are not TV.

These newspapers should start running their TV stations as if they're TV stations! Then they can get some decent ratings! They might as well, because newspapers are dying off, anyways-- or so says all these internet-type people.

That's it!

Sunday, May 14, 2006


As predicted, crummy numbers for the Poseidon remake: $20.3 million, which was not even enough to beat the $24.5 million in underwhelming numbers for the disappointing Mission: Impossible III. I suppose good word of mouth from the critics kept this Tom Cruise movie on top of the heap. And they're showing this film in literally every every movie house they can find, which helps a lot. But the bad word of mouth about Cruise's weird behavior on TV talk shows and the like is getting blamed as the reason this flick isn't doing better. I read it dropped 55% from last week. Fifty-five percent, ouch.

As for Poseidon, this expensive flick cost over $150 million to make. The critics have just killed it. I read that it was getting a lousy 31% from Rotten Tomatoes. Ebert and Roeper both hated it, said the people who worked on this movie took the money and ran. What a terible thing to say, that they only did this movie for the money. Ain't they all, these days.

Anyway, they may not even make money on this flick. This film is sinking to the bottom of the ocean, folks. Let that be a lesson to people: don't try to make movies about ships sinking to the bottom of the ocean anymore, Titanic ruined it for everyone. The special effects in that movie were too good.

This next weekend promises to be the one where Tom Hanks and the rest of them will be blowing everyone away with The DaVinci Code. Tom Cruise the big Scientologist is likely to be dethroned at the top of the box office by a controversial movie about the Vatican and Jesus Christ. A VERY controversial movie. What irony, eh?

Expect lots of lineups and maybe quite a few protests from the religious-type people.


I guess that dude who bet heavily on Danielle's victory in the offshore casinos lost his money, because Aras is the winner of Survivor Exile Island.

This is more proof that you can win challenges all the time and overall play the best game, as Terry did, and still lose. Interesting result.


Well, tonight is a big night of season-finale TV and this article in the Hartford Courant lets you know what's on and what to look for.

The first of the really big finales is The West Wing. Matt Santos is being sworn in, and Martin Sheen will be there on the final episode as well. Many of the big TV critics out there are acting as if this episode is supposed to be a really big deal, a big television event. So are the big politically-active people and all the liberals remaining in the show's audience.

But the truth is that this show expired for all intents and purposes a long time ago, when Aaron Sorkin left the show. NBC got a lot of heck for nixing a planned clip show, airing a repeat of the pilot episode instead. But really, there is a reason for this show leaving the air tonight: no one is watching and too few people still care. People are fed up watching politics on TV, they want these political people of every stripe to go away and leave TV alone. Besides, this West Wing finale isn't even the TV event of the night, let alone the season.

Tonight, CBS is airing Survivor: Panama- Exile Island, the grand finale for the season, taking down The West Wing starting at 8PM ET. So CBS has the Super Bowl of reality shows, up against a dying series whose best days were over a long time ago and whose cast can largely be summed up as "the replacements". Moving The West Wing to Sundays was the ultimate death blow to this series, the final humiliation. How is this show going to get any audience against Survivor!?

It will be very interesting, and probably very revealing, to see the overnight ratings on Monday. I think we could be in store for a big CBS landslide drubbing of NBC.

Speaking of shows sputtering to the finish line, you may want to tune in to FOX at 8:30 pm for the TV finale event of the season: the end of the once-half-decent but now out-of-gas classic Malcolm in the Middle. To which the masses respond with the famous last words: "what, it's still on?!" Yes, but not for much longer.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


Fans in Canada are not happy about what's going down in the Stanley Cup playoffs. All their favorite Canadian teams either have been eliminated already or are in serious trouble. True, the Edmonton Oilers did win in triple-overtime last night, but after seeing them in all three of those games against San Jose I have trouble believing they are long for this world. And let's not talk about the Ottawa Senators, stinking the joint against Buffalo.

Playoff fans following the Buffalo Sabres have another option these days. There's a pregame show every time the Sabres play at Channel 2 starts streaming the pregame show online at 6:30 PM most game nights, including tonight. Tune in to Ed Kilgore, Adam Benigni and the rest of the sports crew over at WGRZ. Then at 10PM you can catch them locally in the Buffalo/southern Ontario market on WNY SportsZone on the WB 49.

Don't worry if you missed tonight's pregame show- the way the Sabres are playing, it looks like they'll be doing plenty more of them, for a while at least.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


This is the month of TV finales and I read this post over at Lee Goldberg's blog about the best and the worst ones over the years.

Personally, I think it's good to wrap up the series with one big episode, it ends a long-running series on a memorable note and it should be the kind of episode that satisfies all the fans in the audience. It's what TV is all about.

I won't dull the readership with a list of the bad finales, many of which were "memorably" bad as opposed to being just plain awful. I will only say the "two" Magnum P.I. "finales" were definitely a fiasco, and the Seinfeld finale, too, was just plain unfunny. I also never was a FRIENDS fan to begin with.

My list of the great finales would include these five:
(1) The Fugitive. That two-part final episode event absolutely ranks as one of the all-time greats. I remember there was a period in the 1980s when they reran The Fugitive series, so a whole new generation got to see this series for the first time. A&E did a great thing around that time: they reran the final episode and made a big event out of it, so we got to see Richard Kimball face off against the one-armed man and have his name cleared, in living color. I'd say this series finale set the standard for all these series finales to come. It sort of mandated that every long-running show of any standing had to have some kind of momentous sign-off. When it originally aired, the audience for this show was massive. It was the highest-rated single episode of all time at that point, and to this day it's still one of the highest-rated shows in TV history. Ironically, interest in the show went right downhill after that, as the show bombed in syndication and wasn't shown widely again until the 1980s.
(2) M*A*S*H. Even the title for this episode was memorable: Goodbye, Farewell and Amen. Watching the Korean War come to an end was the TV event of the 1980s. I'll always remember the final shot of Hawkeye in the helicopter looking down at the word "Goodbye" spelled out on the ground.
Also classic: Corporal Klinger, who wanted out of the Army, deciding to stay in Korea.
(3) Mary Tyler Moore Show. Classic. The whole newsroom is fired except Ted Baxter.
(4) Cheers finale. The whole cast of characters was there for the end, even Diane. I remember at the time NBC called the Cheers finale night The Greatest Night on Television. And then the cast of Cheers went on the Jay Leno show and I remember that one of the critics said it turned into The Drunkenest Night on Television.
(5) Newhart. The whole series is a dream of Bob Hartley's. Who can top that ending. Brilliant.

There's a few others that stand out, like the loopy Night Court farewell which ended with the shot of Bull being beamed into outer space, or Tom Bosley toasting the audience on the final Happy Days, or Alex P. Keaton going off to Wall Street on Family Ties. The final Fresh Prince of Bel Air was memorable because the Banks sold their Bel Air mansion on the final episode to, of all people, the Jeffersons. This was kind of a fitting tribute because The Jeffersons never got to have a final goodbye show of their own. They were cancelled, without even a final show! At least we got to see George and Louise appear on a final episode of another great show, so at least that was some sort of tribute that was paid to them.

Another great series that didn't have a decent final show was All in the Family. There was the episode where Gloria and "Meathead" moved out, but then the show kept on going and going, and eventually petered out as "Archie Bunker's Place". That happens to a lot of shows, unfortunately, they either peter out well past their expiry date or are cancelled unexpectedly. Do you remember the last episode of Head Cases, or Love Monkey? How about the last episode of Coupling on NBC!? No, of course you don't remember and there's good reason for it. They were cancelled, they were flops!

The two series finales that seem to be the big deals this year are the endings to Will and Grace and That 70s Show. But I think it might be ultimately be topped by the finale to end all finales: the five-hour tribute show the WB is planning to show on its final night when the whole network signs off the air. It's not very often that a whole network signs off the air, or even has a tribute show devoted to itself. That should be something, but that won't happen until close to the fall.

I wonder if they'll show the classic cartoon One Froggy Evening on the last night. They ought to.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


You know, I didn't think it was possible for there to be any bigger divas out there than Star Jones Reynolds.

But apparently Barbara Walters and Rosie O'Donnell might be even bigger divas, because they're about to usher Ms. Jones out the door. Page Six has all the gory details here.

You know, this sounds like something right out of the Politburo. This really is ridiculous, this business of the knives coming out for cast members. Sounds as if Rosie made it a condition of her coming to The View, getting rid of Star Jones. Babs Walters is supposedly going to go on the air and say Star Jones has decided she wants to move on to bigger and better things, but from the sounds of it Star Jones' PR reps aren't cooperating, telling people Star isn't leaving for anywhere! It's pretty obvious that if Star leaves it'll be because she's been carried out on a stretcher, bludgeoned by the rest of the cast. This reeks of what went down years ago with Debbie Matenopoulos, who left under similar murky circumstances.

From the looks of it, though, the whole cast of that show is up to here with Star and her diva antics. They're fed up because of her "Bridezilla" wedding to Al Reynolds and with the free plugs she reportedly got away with mentioning on The View to all these companies that supposedly gave her a bunch of wedding freebies in return. Plus, the tabloids were also saying that Jones trashed Joy Behar for messing up the seating arrangements at the wedding, so Joy is supposed to be all mad at her, too. Rosie is mad because Star claimed to have lost all this weight on her big diet, and accused her of having gastric bypass surgery instead. Rosie criticized Star in public for that, for not telling the truth, so Rosie and Star hate each other.

From reading these tabloids, it seems as if the entire cast of the show has it in for Star Jones, so just like on these reality shows like The Apprentice and Survivor, she's out. Heck, Elisabeth Hasselback should know about these sorts of things, she was on Survivor and had to deal with all the back-stabbing. Turned out to be good training for The View.

Rumor is that Gayle King, Oprah's best friend, is going to be on the show replacing Star. I guess they figure she'll be more popular. I wouldn't doubt it in the least, anyone could be more popular than Star Jones at the moment. I can't think of anyone out there in the viewing audience who actually likes Star Jones or wants to see her anywhere on TV! She was booted off the red carpet telecasts at the award shows by E! network, and replaced by Ryan Seacrest. Her wedding, obviously, got tons of bad press. Then again, who out there hasn't had bad press these days.

What seems odd is that the original group of people on The View, who had such great chemistry on the show, is being completely blown up and dismantled. Meredith Vieira has departed, to TODAY, and if Star Jones goes, well, that's basically half the show gone right there. (Babs Walters only shows up every... so often.) It seems like a huge risk to take, messing with the chemistry of the cast of characters on the show. It's like getting rid of both Teri Hatcher and Nicollette Sheridan from Desperate Housewives, and replacing them with Kim Cattrall and, I dunno, Sela Ward or somebody like that. Really, it seems like a big risk to me.

From a chemistry standpoint I don't see why Star Jones ought to walk the plank. True, she's a big diva, but that was her role on the show! That's the whole point of having her there! Star Jones is there to be the diva who will mix it up and make the show interesting! Besides, she's been there from the beginning and helped make the show a hit. So this is what you get for your loyalty to the show, eh? A bleeping pink slip! I guess they figured that maybe Rosie O'Donnell was going to be one diva too many for the show to handle, and they probably figured Rosie was a more likable diva. So why not get rid of Star Jones? Personally, though, I don't see what Rosie brings to the table. Nobody wants to see her, either; people got tired of her a long time ago. But that's the direction the show is going in.

Who knows what the real story is with this show or what the truth is, really. We'll find out soon enough. I don't know what to make of these moves, but then again, I don't watch this show. From what I gather reading Jump the Shark and these TV websites, this show is viciously hated. It seems everyone in TV land despises The View and everyone on it. This show has been parodied on Saturday Night Live and has been the butt of numerous jokes by late-night TV comedians. Television fans overwhelmingly think this show "Jumped the Shark" on day one, that's how bad they think this show is. Which leads me to wonder: is a possible for a show to jump the shark when TV fans all think this show was no good to begin with?

The departure of Star Jones and more particularly Meredith Vieira seem like a "shark-jump" moment for this show if there ever was one, assuming this show was ever any good. It might be possible that with Star Jones out of there that this silly show might actually improve. I say fat chance--- or thin chance, depending on your point of view.