Sunday, July 30, 2006


Well, last night I decided to beat the heat by going to a fun action movie, Miami Vice, based on the iconic 1980s crime show from TV. And as I was watching I thought it was a pretty good movie, Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx shooting up the bad guys. There were good fight scenes where the bad guys were getting shot and killed. Standard fare, I thought, but it had some good moments.

But then when the movie ended, some guy stood up in the theater and did the Joel Siegel thing, and rendered his loud verdict on the movie: "Terrible!"

I thought maybe he was joking, but I noticed that the crowd at the theater looked decidedly like a group of unhappy campers. They looked like people who bet on a horse that just lost at the races. I overheard some guy on a cellphone tell somebody: "I was at Miami Vice, it was s#!t!"

Granted, this flick has a hard act to live up to. This wasn't some crappy remake of some crappy retro TV show like Charlie's Angels or The Dukes of Hazzard. This was a remake of a show that was actually good, Miami Vice! Don Johnson! And it was full of color and it was visually appealing, that series, and the score was dynamite. I'll bet a lot of people were saying this movie suffered in comparison to that series, and they're probably right. Colin Farrell is a good actor but Don Johnson owned the role. Besides, everyone says they are fed up with these remakes and sequels, and retreads of old TV shows on the big screen.

So I guess this movie with its big budget has turned out to be garbage, and that seems to be the story of this summer at the box office. Last year was, of course, The Year of the Flop, because movie attendance went down last year and everything from bootleg videos to video games was getting blamed. But this year attendance is up, 5% last I heard. And there have been some huge, huge hits. Pirates of the Caribbean 2 set a 3-day opening record, smashing Spider-Man's numbers. And a number of movies, like The Da Vinci Code, The Break-Up, Cars, X3, and so on, have done pretty good business. So this definitely is not the Year of the Flop. What it is, this year, is the Year of the Clunker, year of The Pan. A big year for walking out of movies in disgust and telling the whole world about what a piece of junk you just saw on the screen.

It has been the mainstream Hollywood productions and the big-budget, big-star movies that have left audiences feeling particularly let down. To put it mildly, the job of a film critic this year has been really easy. Whenever they get to review some flick from some independent production company somewhere, that's their green light to write up a big positive recommendation, because these flicks have usually been good. But if they see a flick made by Disney or 20th Century Fox, or WB or Universal or Paramount or Columbia or somewhere like that, well, that's their opening to trash it. It's as if you know the movie is no good the moment you see the studio's logo. If, at the very start of the film, they run some shots of a mountain, or the world spinning in outer space, or some woman holding up a torch or something like that, then forget about seeing a good movie. These studio pics are all getting clobbered.

The critics this year have been absolutely hostile. There was the laughter at Cannes over The Da Vinci Code. There were the negative notices for The Break-Up. X3 got so-so reviews. Pirates got clobbered by the critics, but the audiences showed up in overwhelming numbers for the movie anyway. And there was the infamous Joel Siegel walkout of Clerks II. I don't remember a summer where it seemed like every "big" movie shown at the theater was a letdown in one form or another with the critics.

Moviegoers like to say they don't care what the critics think, they'll go to a film they are interested in, no matter what. But if you see enough crummy so-so flicks, guess what? You end up getting turned off wasting money at the movies. You decide maybe it's a better idea to stay home and watch CSI reruns on television. Sooner or later people will decide that they've seen all the movies they're going to see, and they really weren't so hot anyway, so why bother with this other second-rate junk?!

So, after spending an entire summer watching crud at the cinemas, the public has finally seen enough. They are venting unusual hostility with the movies they are getting these days. The reaction to Miami Vice was just the tip of the iceberg. Some big name actors and directors are laying big eggs at the box office right now. You, Me and Dupree is a stink-bomb for Owen Wilson, who's used up all his goodwill from Wedding Crashers in one fell swoop. Everyone is accusing him of mailing it in with his performance in that awful movie, and even Steely Dan is on his case, saying Wilson ripped off the character from their song "Cousin Dupree". Anyway, that movie is a big flop and Owen Wilson is in the doghouse.

Other bombs include brother Luke's clunker My Super Ex-Girlfriend which is sinking fast at the box office. It's getting terrible word-of-mouth right now, I hear nothing but bad things about it. M. Night Shyamalan's Lady in the Water has been a rare critical and box-office dud for him, too. The folks who brought us White Chicks served up a complete dud in Little Man, which was running around 15% at Rotten Tomatoes. Kevin Smith's Clerks II is getting killed, too, even though the reviews were OK. But the main complaint I hear about this film was that there was no reason for it to be made, it's as if people saw it the first time and feel that should have been it! All of a sudden, everyone says they are fed up with sequels; this after an entire summer filled with pointless sequels! It's as if every movie out there right now is paying the price for the mediocre sequels and retreads of earlier this year, and last year, too, for that matter. The customers weren't spewing venom over the junk they were watching before, but they sure are now. Movie fans have turned hostile on everything and everyone in a big hurry because they're fed up being disappointed and hosed at the box office.

And there's good reason why people are angry. Everything at the movie theater right now looks like junk. I've looked at the Rotten Tomatometer and just about every mainstream studio movie out there now is getting roasted on an open fire by the critics. It's incredible how many of these movies are being declared "rotten": Pirates 2, Miami Vice, Lady in the Water, You, Me and Dupree, Little Man, John Tucker Must Die, Scoop, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, Click, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Garfield, even Strangers with Candy. That's basically everything at the local cinema! Recent releases like Little Miss Sunshine, Monster House and The Ant Bully are doing better with critics, though, so it's not a total loss.

But what's strange is that even the movies that critics have actually said good things about have found a way to disappoint at the box office, like Superman Returns and of course Mission: Impossible III. I suppose people just didn't feel they were getting a fresh, original product from those flicks, maybe that's why they stayed away. Plus, everyone hates Tom Cruise. The problem for the studios was that these films were very expensive to make. They were left holding the bag when these movies laid an egg with the public! So now, because so many expensive movies are laying eggs, these studios are cutting back on big budgets and forcing the big stars to take pay cuts. There was some report somewhere that Disney was cutting jobs in droves. I'm not terribly surprised.

It's strange. People have made flops out of supposedly good movies and hits out of bad ones this year. Now it looks like everyone has made up their minds and decided that going to the theater is going to be a total waste of time, and so they aren't going to show up--- not even for the good movies out there! But why have they suddenly made this decision? It's not as if the movies that were being shown earlier this summer were so great! It's not as if there's no reason to go to the movies right now; in fact it's a stinking hot summer everywhere in North America. You'd think people would want to go to the movie theater for some air-conditioning, some relief! What gives? I think the bottom line is that people have simply grown tired of watching garbage. They are finally fed up and Hollywood is paying the price.

These moviegoers are not just shunning these latest turkeys; they're not even making an effort to find one of these art-houses downtown or one of these upscale joints, these places that show real movies that are actually likely to get two thumbs up (or I guess it is "one thumb" these days, from Richard Roeper). Theaters which don't bother with this mainsteam Hollywood junk! Anyway, so goes this year so far, The Year of the Dud.


I feel the pain of this poor woman. Jodi Applegate was doing a live shot for her morning show on Fox 5 in New York, doing a serious segment on bicycle theft with these two filmmakers Van and Casey. Anyway, what happens is these guys were demonstrating how easy it was to cut through a bicycle lock when one of these fools started faking an injury on live TV, pretending he cut himself! He was gagging and pretending he was dying, and basically pulling a Punk'd-style stunt on Jodi Applegate. JODI FREAKED OUT on TV and said this was not funny, that kids at home were watching this, said this was completely unplanned and so on. She was on the Geraldo show the other night and Geraldo seemed pretty amused by all this.

No doubt Jodi did not have a sense of humor about this situation for a reason: inevitably the producers of the show would have had a cow over this segment and probably would have given Jodi heck, and Jodi would have ended up being fired. Her career is already in the drink; she left network TV years ago, so the last thing this poor woman needs is for two fools to screw up any of her hopes to ever return to the networks. So no wonder Jodi was browned off! She did not want to take any blame for the screwup of this segment on TV. Instead, blame these two fools.

Anyway, this is probably great for her career. Maybe she'll get a job at Fox News. Wait--- she already works for Fox News, albeit Channel 5 in New York. But still.

Here's the YouTube video of what happened so you can see it for yourself and laugh at it. I thought her reaction was pretty funny; way to go, Jodi.

Friday, July 28, 2006


Ana Marie Cox the famous Wonkette sells herself out completely to the mainstream media, joins Time as Washington editor.

The heck is going to happen next, Jessica Cutler gets a job at Newsweek? These bloggers are proving to be nothing but sellouts; alternative to the mainstream media, my foot. Blogging is FINISHED.


Late word tonight that ABC has finally gassed The One, their now infamous total flop music talent show. George S. is out of a job after two embarrassing weeks.

I actually can't believe this show was allowed to last two full weeks after the dismal performance of this show on opening night; they should have cancelled this show last week! It would have saved ABC the total humiliation of finishing tied for fifth, behind Univision again. Anyhow, good riddance to one of the greatest flops in TV history.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


By the way, this piece of news from earlier this week. The pride of Kitchener, Ontario Liza Fromer appeared on Breakfast Television on Citytv and announced she was leaving as co-host of the program, effective immediately. For the time being she will be a stay-at-home mom for her new kid, and she is done with Citytv. No wonder she's been missing the last few weeks, with people like Kathryn Humphreys filling in.

(!) (?)

The heck is going on with Citytv, with people leaving?! Was Liza forced out, the heck happened here? Earlier, Harold Hosein the popular weatherman was suddenly fired, and so was Nadine Powell, now at Global. Hosein was replaced by Michael Kuss (ex-Global) and there were lots of howls from fans over this, and I heard Hosein was threatening legal action. Of course, there was that infamous bloodbath all over the country after the takeover announcement from Bell Globemedia. I dunno. It looks from this vantagepoint like it's a mess at Citytv Toronto, though admittedly it could be worse; it could be Calgary or Vancouver or somewhere else that got slaughtered.

I've actually crossed paths with a few people at Citytv including Francis D'Souza, Zuraidah Alman, even Merella Fernandez. I met Merella at CTV years ago, she probably thought of me as that goofy intern when I was there. She later left for an on-air gig at Citytv. I wonder what she thinks of being "back at CTV"?! Ha ha ha.

On second thought, not funny.


Well, I know it is summer and nobody should care, but for some reason it is a big deal in Canada, these TV ratings for these shows. So...

Here goes. The Battle of the Bands.

CTV, Canadian Idol: 1.65 million viewers for new UNICEF spokesman Ben Mulroney.

Global TV: 1.28 million for Rock Star: Supernova, featuring Tommy Lee and Dave Navarro and host Brooke Burke.

And finally, CBC: The One: One hundred and fifty thousand Canadian friends and relatives of George Stroumboulopoulos, watching him preside over one of the greatest train wrecks in the history of television.

In fact, the ratings in Canada sound like they are even worse than those in the United States, where the ratings are awful enough. The ratings dropped something like 18% in the USA, and this show still finished behind Univision! I read that it finished in a tie for fifth with the WB! They finished in a tie with a network that is going out of business in a few weeks! I can't believe this show isn't off the air yet. I also can't believe that the CBC is still defending this show and claiming they are going to go full tilt ahead with a Canadian version. Don't they realize this show is a flop? They should work on finding shows that will get some viewers. Give up already, you guys.

In other news I read that the viewers for that surprise NBC hit America's Got Talent are starting to dip. That show was in first place for a while but now, with a 3.2 rating, it's dropping behind FOX hit So You Think You Can Dance. I think people finally realize that America's Got Talent is garbage; the "novelty" has worn off. I also think that people are registering their total disgust with the reality/talent show fare that we are getting on summer TV. People really are bored silly with this stuff. In fact, ABC cancelled Master of Champions a week early because everyone hated that awful piece of junk. People are fed up with all these shows. That's why theater attendance is up, I'm sure, even though the movies at the theater this summer all seem to be junk. ( A post on that later ). The movies may be garbage, but they look good compared to the nonsense on TV with these stupid talent shows.

I mean, it really is a return to the dark ages of TV, these shows, when you think of it. America's Got Talent is basically a ripoff of the Ed Sullivan Show with all these novelty acts, but more than that, all these shows on the air this summer remind me of the bad old days of black-and-white TV. Back in the 1950s they used to show talent shows all the time on TV (Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts, Ted Mack and the Original Amateur Hour), all these game shows, and reality show junk like Truth or Consequences, This is Your Life, and Queen for a Day. You think the shows they're serving up these days are any different? They also showed plenty of wrestling in prime time back then, too. And guess what, folks, we've gotten plenty of prime-time wrestling on TV lately, on UPN and NBC. The only thing missing these days is Milton Berle.

They even brought back the old prime-time boxing series, too, with reality-fight shows like The Contender. No wonder no one is watching network TV anymore. I sure hope this time these people running TV in Hollywood (and in Canada for that matter) have gotten the message. Enough with these cheap shows!

And enough about TV; now back to watching the news and all the live coverage of, ahem, World War III. Well, that's what Maclean's magazine is calling it!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Yet another lawyer who quit the legal grind to go into TV news to report on:

Gorgeous hottie Megyn Kendall of Fox News was named by The Hill as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in D.C. TVNewser picks up the story. Seems she started off as a part-timer at the ABC station in Washington D.C., doing news one day a week to start, and that's how she became a newswoman.

Before that she worked at the corporate law firm Jones Day, doing litigation work and billing 2600 hours a year. 2600 a year?! Good grief, she had no life. I know of lawyers in some of these law firms that billed 2000 hours a year, and they were working all the time. 2600 hours is freaking sweatshop conditions. No wonder she quit. Megyn said in her interview that she loved her colleagues at the law firm but felt that as a litigator she would end up a "chalk outline." At least as a reporter you file your story and then that's it, you can go home! Hours aren't quite so bad, though some of the stories can be pretty depressing.

Fox News is loaded with lawyers-turned-journalists. Some of the legal beagles who've graced the place in recent years include Lis Wiehl, Gregg Jarrett, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Jamie Colby, Greta Van Susteren and last and certainly not least: Geraldo.

In other news today the bar exam was being held in New York and several other states and all I will say to bar takers in New York State is I feel your pain. Don't worry, after you pass/flunk the bar exam you can go into TV news. Just like Geraldo (passed NY Bar exam years ago).


By the way, check out the full list of The Hill's 50 most beautiful people, quite a few hot-looking women in the bunch doing cool political jobs! Also, take note that I added the political blogsite of Extreme Mortman to the sidebar, and also (under B'casters) the fan website of Fox News reporter and American University grad Alisyn Camerota who, like Megyn, got her start in TV when she lived in Washington. Reminds me that I ought to try again to find a way to get to that fun political town D.C. and join the brain drain that has taken so many Western friends of mine out of Canada and to the States (so many, in fact, that it is a joke).

Monday, July 24, 2006


Here is yet another article, this time from the Washington Post, detailing the flight of the male of the species away from the increasingly female-dominated field of TV news.

I already ranted and raved about my own theories- about how this has become a vanity business based on Q-ratings and looks and all that and that this turns guys right off, and that guys are fed up with all the emotive, Dateline NBC-type stories they do at every level of the TV news business. What self-respecting male wants to do that? Yecch.

Beyond that, though, it's really difficult for guys to be able to do the type of things they really want to do in broadcasting, largely because of cuts. I'm sure a lot of guys out there would pursue broadcasting in a moment if they knew it would lead them to something cool, something they'd enjoy doing. Ask most guys what places would be dream gigs in broadcasting, and it would NOT be CNN or these evening news shows! Instead, they'd probably mention CNBC or ESPN. Why? Because they love these channels! The reporters and anchors there get to do "guy stuff". They cover sports, or stocks and bonds! The on-air guys get to rant and rave and show their personalities, and nobody cares if they are balding or getting old! James Cramer has got to be the ugliest man on TV, but he's got a lot of respect from people who love his show and his wild-man act on CNBC.

Not only are these gigs cool in their own right, but they can lead to lots of other opportunities to do things like host talk shows (ie. Keith Olbermann). But how the heck are you ever going to get a chance to do that sort of thing if you're stuck in Podunk, N.Y. at Channel 3 Action News, having to adhere to a certain "look" while covering cookie-cutter crime news or these "emotional" stories? Beats me. Sports has been cut everywhere, and financial TV news jobs can be hard to get because there are few places that do that sort of thing these days, especially since the dot-com bust. In fact, doing local TV news is no good if you want to do financial news. You're better off writing for the Wall Street Journal or somewhere if you want to go that direction. In fact most of these CNBC folks never worked in local TV news, many of them got their starts as writers and production assistants for these financial channels. Or they came out of Wall Street, like Cramer did.

In fact, just the thought of working at an Action News or an Eyewitness News turns a lot of guys off; who wants to be Ron Burgundy. Let's face it, TV news has an image problem. If the folks in the TV news business can figure out a way for guys to pursue the sorts of broadcasting gigs that might actually interest them, instead of forcing these folks to take unstable, low-paying news jobs in the boonies which demand them to look like some TV news "hunk" all the time (ie. Matt Lauer or Stone Phillips), please let us know.

( Me, I'd still be interested in TV news if I knew for darned sure that I'd get a shot doing legal affairs reporting and covering these sensational major trials. That is what I'd really want to do: go the Geraldo route. And that's yet another issue: so many people in the TV news business trash Geraldo and these stories he does, and trashed OJ and trashed Michael Jackson, and all these other legal stories like the Enron case and the Martha Stewart trial. How the heck do you pursue a career covering trials when so many people within the TV business trash these stories and the people who cover them? You're risking getting labeled a tabloid artist! Another reason to forget about TV news and try your luck writing screenplays for Hollywood instead. )

Sunday, July 23, 2006


(Above: gorgeous hottie Natalie Glebova, Miss Universe 2005.)

Well, tonight I plan to tune in to the Miss Universe pageant to see all these babes from around the world compete for the title. 9PM EST on NBC, and in Canada on Citytv. Nancy O'Dell and Carlos Ponce are hosting it live from Los Angeles.

This pageant is being staged under heavy security. They did a story on Access Hollywood about it, saying that apparently there was some death threat to Miss Israel and Miss Lebanon. So people are trying to make sure nothing happens. So that's the latest international controversy at this pageant. There's always some big international incident brewing at this pageant. Usually it comes from the religious nuts from some country in the near-or-far East that competes at the pageant, usually for the very first time. These guys can't handle it when some woman representing her country goes to the Miss Universe pageant and walks on stage wearing a swimsuit. They just can't handle freedom, these people. People ought to just lighten up.

Anyway, I've watched this pageant for years on TV. I remember back in the 1970s that I used to watch this thing on CBS, just after cable TV came to our area. Bob Barker used to emcee this event, and they used to hold it all over the world in these exotic locations. Eventually, Barker quit the pageant in protest because of all the furs the contestants used to wear.

I liked this pageant for a lot of reasons; they used to give the running scores for all these candidates as they were being judged by these judges, so you could tell who was winning or losing. So there was a real competitive aspect that I liked. These women could blow the entire competition in their final interviews with the host, answering these tough questions. You didn't have these phony talent competitions or any of the nonsense that eventually brought down the Miss America Pageant; they didn't give their contestants some "political platform" to run on or any of that bull. The Miss Universe folks just stuck to determining who was the most beautiful, period. They did make these girls do stupid, pointless song-and-dance routines at one point in time, but they eventually got rid of those under the new ownership (the Donald.)

I also liked the fact that there were lots of women from Latin America on the pageant, and you could tell because they needed the translators all the time. I thought these Latin women were hot! Every year the best-looking women at this pageant were the Latin women, that's why they kept winning all the time. That's another reason why every year the Miss Universe candidates were so much better looking than the Miss America contestants. Unlike these dull Miss America candidates, the Latin contestants weren't these girl-next-door types, they were WOMEN. They made a point of looking fabulous. I later found out, of course, that these Latin Americans took the pageant very seriously. Countries like Venezuela invested heavily in their contestants and made them get plastic surgery and the like. That's why Venezuela keeps winning these beauty pageants all the time, they really get into it. Besides, it's the only thing they win at, their soccer team is no good. (There was also a string of eight or nine years in a row when Miss Texas won the Miss USA pageant and got to compete for Miss Universe. Those folks in Texas took this pageant as seriously as the Venezuelans did.)

Apparently this event still gets huge ratings in Latin America. One year I tuned in to the Miss Universe Pageant feed live on Venezuelan TV over the Internet, just to see what the Venezuelans were so obsessed about. And of course it was big news down there, even though Miss Venezuela lost out to Miss Dominican Republic or whomever it was. Whenever I tune into a Spanish-language broadcast the day after the Miss Universe pageant is over, they always make sure to mention who won Miss Universe, they're obsessed with it down there. I read somewhere that Latin women are among the biggest consumers of cosmetics products in the entire world, that's why this pageant is so big.

Me, I just don't take this pageant seriously, I just tune in to be entertained. Last year I was quite amused to see Miss Canada, Natalie Glebova, win. As I tuned in that night I remember she kept on surviving all the eliminations and I realized, holy moley, she might just win this entire thing and beat these Latin Americans! I was surprised, largely because of the complete lack of interest in beauty pageants in Canada these days. There is rampant political correctness in this country and the feminists hate all the beauty contests, that's why interest in these pageants has gone down. The Miss Canada pageant was kicked off of CTV and has gone totally underground. Meanwhile all these other countries are still prepping their competitors like crazy and paying fortunes for plastic surgery and all that garbage. But Canada was still able to win in spite of all this. Woo hoo!! The best part was that Natalie deserved to win. She was absolutely the hottest contestant there and looked great in a swimsuit, but best of all she was a Canuck. OUR BABES ARE BETTER THAN YOUR BABES. Take that, Venezuela.

I noticed there were a couple of guys who were going nuts waving a Canadian flag in the audience after Miss Canada won last year. That was pretty cool.

Apparently the new, reigning Miss Canada is a complete dead-ringer for Natalie Glebova, so I think we may have a chance of winning Miss Universe again. We'll see. Then again, maybe Miss Italy will win and we'll see lots of Italians going down the streets of Toronto again, waving their Italian flags and honking their horns like they did two weeks ago. Fat chance.

Here's a neat blog on the pageant at Global Beauties .com. And here is a look at some of the buzz-worthy favorites. Check it out.

UPDATE: WHAT THE?! Canada didn't even get to the top 5! Instead Puerto Rico won, nosing out multilingual Miss Japan. This has got to be a joke, these judges can't be serious.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Confirmed, the judges weren't serious. Canadian funnyman Tom Green was a judge. Sean the winner of Apprentice 5 was also judging. Deal or No Deal babe Claudia Jordan was there with the rest of the Deal suitcase models. And what the heck was Carson Kressley doing there as a color commentator!? Couldn't they find anyone interested in girls?! (Just joking again, folks.)


Well, the Middle East crisis continues with more fighting today.

Today I got fed up watching the dismal TV offerings on the weekend TV dial. Weekend TV around here is absolutely the worst, especially when it isn't football season; it's the usual infomercials with the likes of Julie Moran and Daisy Fuentes, crappy movies and boring poker games, and of course, this is the day that OMNI and Citytv and SUN TV show all their boring ethnic programming. So I decided to tune in to channel 10 from Israel on the Internet and watch their live streaming World War III coverage. Check it out at

They showed some of the damage from some rocket that hit an apartment building in Haifa, and there had been more attacks on Lebanon. They showed all the smoke billowing from where the bombs rained down. Channel 10 had their reporters based in Haifa right near where all the action was. I noticed this week that many of these bigshot North American TV anchors were nowhere near Haifa. Instead, they were doing standups and live hits in places like Jerusalem, doing their best to look like they were in the center of things when they really weren't.

In fact I have a lot of gripes about the North American coverage. One thing that bugs me about the coverage has been the constant downbeat tone of it. I read Connie Woodcock's rants in the Toronto Sun about the "apocalyptic" tone of the CBC's coverage and how they made it seem the world was going to end. I look at these CBC reporters on the scene over there, and get really agitated at the self-important way they carry themselves when they report these stories. They report in their best "voice of doom" voices and make it seem as if Israel and Lebanon are total hellholes, the absolute ends of the earth. They make it seem as if everyone who lives there must be crazy! It's as if we all ought to be glad to be living in a civilized place like Canada, where life is so much better! Hooray for us.

In fact, on Israeli TV they showed a story about a bunch of people having fun beating the heat at the beach! I'm sure they suffered a lot. I also noticed that Channel 10 was still planning to run the latest episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire- Israel edition. I suppose they figured this was more important than the war coverage, to show a popular game show on TV! You never get the sense from the TV news here in Canada that there are people in Israel or Lebanon who are still attempting to lead normal lives over there. In fact, in Lebanon, life there was pretty normal until a week or so ago. You never get the sense from these international correspondents that people in parts of the world like the Middle East could go to movies and shopping malls, or eat at fast-food joints like the rest of us. Instead, these countries are treated like they are absolute boondock third-world dumps all the time. It's always gloom and doom from the CBC, the BBC, and these international reporters about these places.

Personally, I'd rather tune in to the "local" coverage from Israel or Lebanon, because you don't get any of this self-important "attitude" from all these local reporters! Instead, the locals concentrate on covering the story and trying to make sense of what is happening without going all apocalyptic on you. They were covering this fighting the way that folks in Miami cover hurricanes! They were showing live pictures from where the damage happened in Haifa and were interviewing emergency personnel and other people! I could tell they weren't doing the "voice of doom" routine or giving you over-prepared reports. They dropped all that and just talked to the camera as if they were normal people! They were making sense of the situation and telling you what was going down, without pretense. Frankly, it was live coverage, and it was refreshing.

So that's why I like watching local coverage of these wars overseas. I don't want to see a bunch of swaggering correspondents tell us their opinions about how Israel is going to drag Iran into World War III, or tell us how badly the evacuations are going, or any of that bull. Just give me the freaking facts, darnet, and treat what is happening in these foreign countries as if this is your own back yard! I'm sick and tired of seeing Israel and Lebanon portrayed as places no sane individual would ever set foot in!! One thing I've learned is that the world is increasingly a small place, thanks largely to technology. And what happens in the Middle East is pretty darned relevant to us here. I simply think it's really behind the times to keep treating some of these countries as if they aren't a part of the neighbourhood, that's all.

Stay tuned for my Miss Universe rant next.

Friday, July 21, 2006


Well, we know what at least one critic thinks of Clerks II. The other day, Good Morning America film critic Joel Siegel walked out of a press screening of this movie about 40 minutes in. In walking out he exclaimed loudly in the theater to all the other assembled press that this was the first time he walked out of a movie "in thirty #$%& years."

Then Kevin Smith got into a big scrap with him on the Opie and Anthony show on the radio today for voicing his displeasure so loudly, calling it unprofessional. Siegel sort of apologized on air for the way he reacted. Anyway, read about it here. Talk about a big fight.

I think Siegel's main objection was to how repulsive and disgusting this movie was, that's why he left the theater in disgust. But according to Rotten Tomatoes lots of critics actually liked this movie. It was running at 67% the last I checked. Maybe critics these days have strong stomachs. Then again, there are people who think Siegel is totally out of touch and doesn't know what he's talking about these days. Who knows. I'm actually surprised Siegel walked out of this movie because I thought he had this reputation for liking every movie out there! Isn't he one of those critics notorious for giving a big recommendation to just about every movie he sees?

I guess not.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


I gotta say, the Ebert and Roeper show blows without Roger Ebert there in good health. Of course, one could say this show has blown ever since Gene Siskel died and Richard Roeper came in to take his place. But that's another topic.

The last few weeks have been sad times for the show. With Ebert out of action because of complications from his cancer surgery ( from a burst blood vessel ), we've been treated to an endless array of shows pre-taped before Roger went under the knife. One week they gave us "The Best of the Year--- So Far". Then the next week they served up "The Worst of the Year--- So Far". I wonder what will be next: "Our Biggest Disagreements--- So Far", perhaps.

Now comes word that Ebert will be out of commission for a while longer. The Ebert and Roeper show is going to have guest critics sit in with Roeper to trash the week's movies, starting August 5th. All I will say about this turn of events is that I'm really worried. This is sad history repeating itself. I remember what it was like when Gene Siskel took ill with his brain tumor and died in 1999. The same exact thing happened: Siskel and Ebert reverted to a series of lame "guest critics", none of whom put up much of a fight against Ebert. The show may as well have called itself Ebert Without Siskel. It was a debacle, but there was nothing anyone could do about it.

The great thing about Siskel and Ebert was that these two really got into it with each other, getting into great fights about these movies. They either loved these movies or they hated them, but there was always passion about it. And these two loved to one-up each other on the show. That made this show required weekend viewing. Unfortunately, that dynamic left the theater once Siskel died. With Ebert and Roeper you don't see those types of passionate arguments any more. Instead, it's just two guys sitting down, discussing the movies and giving their "thumbs up" or "thumbs down". I've come to accept this style of show, the calm and cool presentation with the odd civil disagreements, but it sure hasn't been the same.

Now the show just sucks without Ebert. These pre-taped shows, rerunning all these old reviews, are useless in determining whether the movies that are opening this week are any good or not. This week we have M. Night Shyamalan's Lady in the Water coming out, Kevin Smith has Clerks II, and My Super Ex-Girlfriend and the animated 3D Monster House (which got two thumbs way up in an early review) are also opening. I would have loved to see Ebert and Roeper provide their take on all these latest efforts on TV. Instead, it's going to be yet another pre-taped piece of junk. It's going to be even worse when these "guest critics" come in and start agreeing with Roeper all the time, giving their "thumbs up" to these lame movies. You'll have no disagreements left on this show.

Ebert, come back. This show gets a big "thumbs down" without you, man.


How badly did ABC's The One: Making a Music Star get crushed on Tuesday?

So badly that it even got beat by a show on Spanish-language Univision. IT GOT BEAT BY UNIVISION! I don't know of too many shows that get beat by Univision that manage to avoid cancellation.

Ratings-wise, its 1.1 rating is the worst for a network reality show this summer. It's the same rating that was handed to NBC's Celebrity Cooking Showdown, one of the biggest flops of all time. MediaLife reported that not only did The One get a 1.1 rating, but this show did worse than Master of Champions and How to Get the Guy! And this was all after several weeks of heavy promotion, too, by ABC. This show is FINISHED.

The show did no better in Canada. This was the show that generated so much controversy because the CBC aired The One in a time slot reserved for The National. Well, the ratings in Canada were stinking bad, too, something in the 236,000 viewer range on a night when CTV was killing everyone again with Canadian Idol. Global TV aired Rock Star: Supernova and got almost a million viewers for that, and were bragging about how great that show did, too. The One finished so far behind CTV and Global that it was a total humiliation. This show's audience totals were in the same ballpark as those three shows that got axed in that infamous CBC cancellation bloodbath of earlier this year (Da Vinci's City Hall, The Tournament, This is Wonderland). In fact, I think those three shows all did better than The One. So I think this show is in a lot of trouble already.

Anyway, read Antonia's blog, she puts this show under the knife pretty good and gives you all the gory details. I read some of the newspaper headlines and they were just killing this show, these writers: "The One gets one or two viewers". And so on.

Earlier, I had praised CBC's decision to give The One a shot, saying that the CBC needed to create some hits and go a populist direction. Well, the people have spoken. And I now say that the CBC needs to boot this show off the air, right away. The One had its one chance, and it completely blew it. Time to find another potential hit show.

The usual people who hated this show from the start (because of the controversy with The National getting moved) are now doing the "I told you so" routine, but I don't think chortling over this latest disaster helps matters much. I really don't think it's good for the CBC to keep airing flops all the time. It gets to be bad for their image. The CBC needs a hit, and badly, and they need to keep on trying! I don't think the CBC should be dissuaded from attempts to find hit shows. They tried with The One, but this sure isn't it. Fine, they should try something else. That, my friends, is the TV business. There are hits, and there are flops.

Anyway, bottom line is that now that the ratings are in, I think The One should be cancelled. The folks at The National can relax, they'll get their timeslot back as soon as ABC cancels this turkey. Shouldn't be too long.

UPDATE: By the way, did anyone see the ratings for Wednesday night on ABC? They can be summed up by the famous last words "oh my God."

The results show got a terrible 1.0, and they aired a repeat of the previous night's The One show that was absolutely killed, got something like a .5! I think the executives over at ABC are looking to jump off a ledge right now, this was a slaughter. If they don't cancel this show by the end of the week I'd be very surprised.

Here's a tune for these contestants to sing: the "Sha na na hey hey Goodbye" song.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Blogging has been light, in part because I have been trying to make sense of what's going on out there in the Middle East with all the violence out there--- or, as some wags call it, World War III.

And it will probably be light for the rest of the week as I have numerous things to attend to in the next few days. All I will say about this Middle East situation is that chaos is reigning supreme. Today, people are trying to get out of Lebanon. Israel has let up on the fighting today, helping these Americans and Canadians get out of there.

This is just brutal what's going on over there and all I have to say is: these #$%& Islamists are at it again. I can't blame Israel for defending itself against these Hezbollah terrorists. What else can you call these people?! My worry is that Israel might go completely nuts and drag Syria and Iran directly into this mess, too. Then we really will have World War III. Condaleeza Rice was saying today that Israel is not going to be attacking Syria or Iran. Well, I hope you're right, Condi! Because this is already a mess.

I've been trying to find some live feeds on the Internet but a lot of the feeds are down because of too much traffic. Fortunately, CNN Pipeline has been streaming Israeli and Lebanese TV the last couple of days, live. They were streaming Chennel 2's news from Israel. All I have to say about Israeli TV is, you'd think this was American TV with all these ads for American products. I get a feed from another Israeli channel and these folks run shows like Lost, Without a Trace, and even a home-grown version of The Biggest Loser. Anyway, that's all fallen by the wayside. Now it's continuing war coverage in the Middle East. Again.

This is all in addition to the never-ending war in Iraq, and those nuclear weapons tests by North Korea and the latest tsunami hitting Indonesia. All I gotta say is that the world is a mess. You can't blame me if I'm tuning into the news these days.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Well, I'll get to what all this merger business means for CTV, for Canada, and all that later. Right now, though, I am counting the dead bodies.

Some people are actually suggesting this deal is good for Canada, this takeover of Citytv, because it helps keep the Americans out. Well, so what. On one hand, they keep the Americans out, but these 281 laid-off Citytv employees are going to have to go to the States for employment. I don't see how you can call a deal that sends masses of journalists packing for jobs in the States, while wiping out evening and late night newscasts in four major markets and a morning show in a fifth, good for Canada.

I don't have much sympathy for the arguments of these people ranting against Americans owning Canadian TV stations. For one thing, they weren't going to buy Citytv or come here anyway. But even if they did, they might have invested in more Canadian productions and allowed Canadians to keep some of their jobs. Maybe it would have forced some of these local broadcasters to compete for talent a little bit, instead of dumping 281 people onto the streets all over Canada. Anyway, who cares, It's a stupid argument, anyway, saying this consolidation is a good deal for Canada because it keeps the Americans out, because the fact is the Americans aren't coming. Too many people would have had a cow over it. Period. End of statement.

Anyway, here's what went down with this bloodbath. From the sounds of it it was the old Craig Media operations out West and the former "new VR"-type stations that took the big slaughter. The A-Channel stations in Barrie, Ottawa, London et. al. streamlined their operations and got rid of a lot of behind-the-scenes people. At least one prominent anchor got the boot, James Hendricks in Ottawa. Gone. But at least their main newscasts at 6PM and 11PM are still afloat. So they can celebrate- I guess.

The biggest carnage was reserved for the Citytv stations out West. In Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg, the 6PM and 11PM Citynews 'casts are GONE. Cancelled. Instead, they will be replaced by half-hour magazine-type shows. It seems like these stations are bent on acting like Toronto's ill-fated Toronto One, which tried a similar stunt and totally failed. Prominent anchors, like Jennifer Martin in Edmonton, and plenty of sports guys are GONE. What's left of the reporting staff is being deployed on the morning Breakfast Television shows. So if you're a witty morning person, chances are you saved your job. If you're a serious newsperson, you got the can. Way to go, Canada.

Except in Victoria. In Victoria it was the other way around. There, the morning show got the boot, and the evening newscasts were saved. (This is also their second big layoff in about a year or so, because they canned a bunch of people a while back). Then again, that station was also one of the A-Channel stations and all the A-Channels got their local newscasts saved. They took some cuts, but Citytv got the knife, as they say, "Everywhere." The biggest layoffs happened at all these Citytv stations. Viewers tuned in yesterday to see no evening newscasts on Citytv in all of these markets; instead, they saw reporters interview laid-off Citytv workers on the other channels. Coincidentally, these Citytv stations are all the ones that CTV is going to keep around as part of the takeover: they're planning on dumping these A-Channel stations to the highest bidder to satisfy the CRTC rules, which prevent broadcasting companies from owning more than two stations per market. Owning A-Channel would put them over the top in every one of these markets, so these stations have to go. They also say they're going to unload Access Alberta, for the same reason.

The only reason Citytv in Toronto got spared the knife was because that news operation has pretty decent ratings, and they have an all-news channel on cable, CablePulse 24, that is very successful. But these Citytv operations out West were notorious for being lousy news operations. The Craig stations got dismal ratings when they were known as A-Channels and MTN, and nothing changed with the new ownership. The Vancouver operation was the former CKVU, the old Global affiliate before that network switched to BCTV, and that was another news operation that never had good ratings. So they all got the axe.

The claim is that these newscasts got axed because of bad ratings, and that the CTV takeover was all a coincidence. They kept on saying these cuts had been in the works since February. To be honest with you, I think these cuts were made in preparation for a sale or takeover, not because of it. I think CHUM knew it was planning to shop these stations around. They weren't hitting their profit targets, and had to get rid of the money-losing ends of the operation so they could attract a buyer, so they made plans for all these cuts. It just so happened that the deal came down on the day of the cuts. Bloodbath day.

So the moral of this story seems to be: don't work in western Canada. Whether it's Citytv or the CBC, or the Regina Leader-Post and Saskatoon Star-Phoenix after the Conrad Black takeover, your newsroom is bound to have bad things happen to it if it's located in the West.

Better yet, get out of news altogether. Go into entertainment, or standup comedy. Then maybe you'd survive a bloodbath like the one that hit Citytv.

UPDATE: This was a slaughter; in addition to the people I mentioned, found out another big name. Ted Henley is gone in Calgary- his bio is off the Citytv site. And among the casualties in Vancouver: Dave Lefebvre, Roger Petersen, Julie Nolin, Mike Bow etc etc. The news business in Canada sucks.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Ahem. Seems Mike Bow kept his job after all. But unfortunately everyone else I mentioned are definitely gone, and from what I gather so are these on-air people: Marke Driesschen, Leigh Morrow, Cindy Leong, Dag Sharman, Darrell Patton, Elaine Yong, Jill Bennett, Joe Leary, etc.etc. Also read that Moira McLean, political reporter, got the boot in Victoria. Prominents saving their jobs were folks like Dave Gerry and Simi Sara- if you check out the Citytv Vancouver bio website it's pretty barren if you ask me.

Read on several sites and these boards that the bloodbath was so bad that they had security guards escort these folks out of the building, and they didn't even allow them to get their personal effects. The infamous 2001 CNN bloodbath was the same story, security guards etcetera. Oh, the humanity.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


What else can you call this takeover of CHUM by Bell GlobeMedia?! This has to be the biggest bloodbath in the history of Canadian broadcasting!!!!

If you still work for Citytv or A-Channel today, consider yourself exceptionally lucky. Or maybe you're unlucky, because it sounds like those operations have nothing left (except maybe Toronto)! I read Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg got hit hard and had their newscasts cancelled, and also read that the Barrie operation got slaughtered. But if your name is Ben Mulroney, well, of course your job is safe.

And what is this going to mean for the programming? We're probably going to get the usual Dr. Marla Shapiro stuff on every channel in Canada now. BROADCASTING IN CANADA IS FINISHED!

We'll find out in a day or so the full story of this slaughter. I'm wondering if friends of mine got hit. I'm sure Antonia at the Star will have plenty to say. So will all the unions. Maybe they should all mount a general strike. This is pure GREED, simply put!! NO regard for the workers or for the viewers at home!

Moses Znaimer is turning in his grave, and he isn't even dead yet! BLOODBATH CITY!!!


One thing I have noticed in the past several weeks has been a large level of vitriol towards the legal profession in a number of articles popping up on the World Wide Web.

Cameron Stracher in the Wall Street Journal basically came out with an article claiming that a law degree isn't something you should treat as some sort of degree that will keep your options open; instead, the debt load that students have to carry is so high that people have to grab the highest paying jobs they could possibly find, just so they can pay all this debt back. If you want to be a screenwriter in Hollywood, your law degree is no good, he says.

Avi Klein in the Washington Monthly wrote an article trashing the legal profession as well. He says that the system is designed to force debt-ridden grads to take corporate law jobs that force them to work all the time. And he talked about how the system forced people to strive for top grades in order to get these jobs, and how a bad grade could ruin your shot at these jobs. It's a sad, sad state of affairs.

Of course, I found out about this article at Tom the Temp's blog, and he has gone hog wild in the past few weeks. He has been bodyslamming the major law firm of Paul, Weiss for their terrible treatment of contract attorneys who work on document review projects. This is basically a 60 Minutes story waiting to happen. Apparently, Paul, Weiss has been accused of forcing these temporary attorneys to work in lousy, cockroach-infested basements! These are supposed to be lawyers like everyone else, but they are basically being treated like the lowest form of trash. And document review work, from the sounds of it, is no way to get ahead. It's not even considered a foot in the door at a big firm like Paul, Weiss- instead, they simply dismiss people at a whim whenever they feel like it.

He also trashed Ann Israel, a New York legal headhunter whose job-hunting advice columns have been featured in various legal publications over the Web for years. Tom the Temp calls her the "propaganda queen" and basically says she doles out the Biglaw party line in her "advice" columns. When women who want to be stay-at-home moms ask for advice on how to do this, Ann responds that they should work 12-hour days! And for people who didn't go to Top 10 law schools or didn't finish in the top half of the law school class, she basically tells these folks that their grades will haunt them the rest of their careers! She is no help at all to any of these people. So Tom the Temp is trashing her for that.

Of course, this adds to the Opinionistas blog and all the other writings out there about how bad this legal profession is, and how terribly the workers are treated. I gotta say, these stories all make the legal profession look very bad. It makes it look like an unforgiving, dead-end existence where the slightest misstep can not only get you fired, but destroy your career. On the one hand, the people at the top of the class are stuck in corporate law jobs where they have to work 16-hour days! Then there are the poor souls at the bottom, who scrape by with terrible salaries at insurance defense dumps, public defender positions and temp law jobs in cockroach-infested basements.

I have to say, the problem with the legal profession right now is the completely condescending way in which the workers are treated. Workers simply have no say in the type of work they are given, and too often the future is out of their hands. A lot of it comes down to office politics, pure and simple. Anyway, it ought to raise a lot of red flags for everyone when they see all these stories about the legal profession getting trashed in print like this all the time.



Last night during the All-Star Game, baseball fans at home let out a collective groan when Joe Buck and Tim McCarver broke the news that FOX Sports was going to be the home of Major League Baseball coverage for the next seven years.

I'm sure quite a few disgusted fans were hurling their autographed baseballs at the TV set. I keep hearing so many complaints about the bells and whistles of Fox's coverage, about how loud the announcers are, and so on. It seems all the fans out there are still in national mourning over the fact that the Game of the Week isn't on NBC. It's been seventeen years, already, man, and people still can't get over it! People keep wishing it was Bob Costas doing the games, or Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola! Anyway, everyone can finally give up. The bottom line is FOX keeps the Saturday Game of the Week, the All Star Game, LCS action and all the World Series for the next seven years. It sure looks as if baseball will never be back on NBC in our lifetimes. Certainly, it will never be back as long as the NFL is on NBC; their money is all tied up.

USA Today has the full story on the new TV deal, which includes a new cable package with Turner Sports with big implications for TBS and the Atlanta Braves. ( ESPN did its deal with Major League Baseball last fall, which runs until 2013). Not too many big changes to report, certainly nothing like the big switch to CBS in 1990 or the switch to FOX and NBC in 1996. But there are quite a few important implications for TV viewers:


TBS is picking up 26 Sunday afternoon national games, and they will carry the entire first round of the post-season. But they are giving the boot to all their Atlanta Braves games! The Braves were moving most of their games to FSN anyway, but there were hopes the Braves would keep at least a few games on TBS. What's happened is they're going to show 45 Braves games in the Atlanta market on TBS locally, but these Braves games won't be shown nation-wide. As of 2008, the Braves will not be shown nationally on Superstation TBS except as part of this new national package, and not every week.

You know what this means, folks, this is the end of America's Team. The Braves aren't going to be beamed into TV sets all over America every day.

This is not good, folks. TBS were the Atlanta Braves, and the Braves were TBS! This team made that station. Showing the Braves games on TBS made Ted Turner rich, and financed CNN! But there's new ownership at both TBS and at the Atlanta Braves, and they don't care about tradition. My complaint is that by switching to a national package of games, TBS is simply going to give baseball viewers at home yet another opportunity to watch the crummy New York Yankees as far as I'm concerned. That's what these "national" packages do. They claim to be national, yet all they show are the Yankees and the Red Sox every week (especially in my area) and "who cares about the rest of the teams!" That's what you get from ESPN and especially from FOX: nonstop coverage of Boston and New York. I'm surprised FOX doesn't go around promoting the Yankees as America's Team, they carry them often enough!

At least by showing the Braves the folks at TBS gave you an opportunity to see something different. You could watch the National League and see the other ballparks. Now the folks at TBS, too, are probably just going to give us more of Boston and New York.

Maybe the folks at TBS don't want to be stuck showing a team that is going to be in the doldrums for the next few years. The Braves are having a terrible season and look to be in for some major rebuilding. But back in the 1980s the Braves stunk, too, and they were on TBS every day! And until this season, the Braves were good! For the longest time the Braves were winning and on top of their division, so every game they played on TBS was important! So the moment the Braves start losing, they immediately get dumped. I simply do not get it. Worse yet, with this new deal TBS will be showing fewer baseball games, period. They'll just do 26 regular season games and then a bunch playoff games, leaving lots of room to show reruns of sitcoms and other junk. A major reason to watch TBS and to subscribe to cable TV, period, is out the window.

If you're a Braves fan, this new TV deal stinks. In fact, people ought to write the Braves and protest this. It sure will be weird to see Skip Caray at Yankee Stadium in 2008, doing a Yankee-Red Sox game---- on TBS.


The new FOX SPORTS deal calls for more regular-season baseball on Saturday afternoons and
fewer post-season games. The October disruption to the important fall launch of the prime-time lineup was always a big issue for FOX, and with this latest negotiation they've found a way around it. FOX is getting rid of its divisional series commitments. The entire first round of the playoffs is going to be on TBS instead, and FOX will only pick up one League Championship Series every year. Of course, they carry the World Series as usual.

This new schedule means less headaches for the entertainment people and these showrunners, wondering what impact baseball would have to the fall schedule. For all these years the folks in the entertainment division at FOX would be tearing their hair out, trying to schedule The O.C. and Prison Break and Bones and all these other shows when they knew full well they'd lose the entire month of October to major league baseball playoff games! They would resort to premiering The O.C. in August and launching their other shows in November, just to get around baseball. Shows that started strongly in September would be sidelined by baseball for a full month. Then, when the World Series wrapped up, these shows would have to completely start over from scratch. As for the new FOX shows that began their seasons in November, they had to contend with shows on CBS, ABC and NBC that launched way back in September and had already built up a loyal following. So they usually ended up being cancelled. It was a nightmare.

Well, fewer playoff games means more opportunity for FOX to air their new shows in October. Instead of taking all of October off, the new shows may be off for, say, a couple of weeks. And they will be showing fewer League Championship Series games, so that's a lot less disruption to the schedule right there. Overall, this arrangement works for FOX a lot better. Now they can launch a normal fall season like the rest of the networks and not worry about losing their audience.

That's it! Enough about baseball.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006



Over the weekend Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dean Man's Chest made 133 million, topping Spider-Man's record for the biggest weekend opening of all time.

Meanwhile, the question becomes: why wasn't this the case for Superman?! Superman Returns did pretty decent business ($85 million for a five-day opening) but nothing like this, and they needed huge numbers just to make their $300 million dollar budget back. I guess they're screwed.

There are a number of theories being floated about the bad numbers. One (floated by Nikki Finke and several others), is that all the rumors about a "gay Superman" sunk the movie, but I really don't think that was a serious factor because I don't think anyone took those rumors seriously or even cared. A more plausible one is the theory that the casting sucked and the choice of no-name actors brought this movie down. Kate Bosworth has been crucified for her performance as Lois Lane, and everyone is comparing this movie to the Christopher Reeve/Margot Kidder great movies of the '70s and '80s.

I think the fact is that there was a huge buzz for Pirates that you could feel a mile away, and tremendous excitement at seeing these folks back on the screen. But I think there was really no buzz for Superman. Promotion, yes, but no buzz among the theatergoers, no great anticipation. I think people looked at it as yet another superhero movie. I mean, Batman Begins didn't do that kind of spectacular business either, from what I understand, and neither did The Fantastic Four or any of these other ones. The X-Men did pretty good though. And of course, everyone went to see Spider-Man, I and II. I think the real problem is that there have been too many movies about superheroes and comic book characters. And besides, Superman has been done to death already on TV. People see Smallville on TV every week, so they already get their Clark Kent fix. And didn't that Wisteria Lane babe Teri Hatcher run around with Superman, too? People are simply fed up with Superman. He's too boring and too powerful for his own good, plus people are complaining that these moviemakers have turned this guy into some sort of "metrosexual", too.

Who cares about this guy! I think what people want to see is some superhero with an edge, someone like Batman or Spider-Man. Besides, these guys get to take on more interesting villains and have some serious difficulties trying to pick up girls. Not like this boring Superman dude who gets any woman he wants. Plus, these other guys are a lot more restricted in what they are able to do, they can't leap over tall buildings in a single bound or any of that stuff. So I think people relate more to these other superheroes.


Wonder Woman, the next big superhero movie effort on the drawing board, is going to have similar problems: she's another boring goody-two-shoes type, just like Superman. I heard Kate Beckinsale was offered the role but turned it down. Maybe they'll give it to Rachel McAdams. Darnet, can't they just get Angelina Jolie on the phone line from Namibia or wherever the heck she is right now, and get the deal done already and make her Wonder Woman? They need someone famous, someone who can fill the seats, and she needs to be hot! This role requires a hot babe! Wonder Woman is sort of required to show a lot of leg and show the cleavage; everyone's going to be comparing this actress to Lynda Carter. If you're just going to get some boring actress like Reese Witherspoon in the role and have her dye her hair again, like she did in Walk the Line, then forget about making any kind of a fortune. No one will pay to see a movie like that. They need to give Wonder Woman a sexy edge, a dark side. They had the right idea with Kate Beckinsale, anyway, she's a hottie.

Anyway, that's enough about Wonder Woman. Next big superhero movie coming up is My Super Ex-Girlfriend, with Uma Thurman. Sort of combines Superman Returns with The Break-Up.


(July 14): Over on CNBC this week, Joe Kernen said Pirates of the Caribbean 2 not only beat the $115 million record set by Spider-Man, but also the $120 million record set by the hit superhero movie Aquaman.

Of course, everyone at CNBC knew Kernen was joking: Aquaman is actually the fictional movie featured on the popular HBO series Entourage. Heck, I'm actually surprised a real Aquaman movie hasn't been made yet, they've made flicks featuring everyone else! (An Aquaman TV series is still on the drawing board for the CW.)

I also now hear they may get someone less well-known to be Wonder Woman. Well, she better be hot, then, because otherwise this movie will get killed at the box office.


The One, that new controversial ABC talent reality show that is airing in Canada and bumping off The National from its regular 10PM time slot in the eastern time zone, is being hosted by none other than George Stroumboulopoulos.

So it's bad enough that Peter Mansbridge got bumped for Don Cherry during the Stanley Cup; now he has to make room for Big George. He must be thinking "why did I turn down that CBS Morning Show job?!"

As for George, this is the American version that he's hosting, the one that will be shown right across North America. So this one-ups rival Ben Mulroney over at CTV and all the other peasants in Canadian TV, and makes Mulroney's Canadian Idol gig look like the minor leagues in comparison.

Speaking of which--- Mulroney is also his political rival. Everyone knows of Mulroney's Conservative connections, while George endorsed none other than Tommy Douglas for the title of The Greatest Canadian. And he won, too. Needless to say, I'm hardly impressed with the political leanings of the host of The One.

Any other reality shows in Canada needing a host? Coming soon: Canada's Got Talent, hosted by Justin Trudeau.


It's been a slow couple of days in the world of sports, so this is a perfect time for me to rant about this weekend's Grand Prix.

I was down there at the event again and my initial reaction was to say that the buzz was really missing this year. Like I said, the scheduling of this race head-to-head against the World Cup was pure bonehead. I dunno what the attendance was for this race. In fact the folks at ChampCar won't say what the attendance was, because they aren't releasing attendance figures this year! Meanwhile, the TV ratings for the World Cup in this country went through the roof. I read that four million people tuned in, and that was just the CTV feed.

Man, what bad PR. You'd think if attendance had been good, these folks would have released the figures and wanted to brag about it. Personally, I'm of the view that the attendance was probably bad- when I was down there it seemed like there were fewer people there than in previous years. In fact, I get the sense that this event has turned downmarket in a big hurry. None of the big Hollywood stars were there, but all the usual women in hotpants showed up.

In fact there was more interest in some staged wrestling bout between two women in bikinis than there was on the racing on the race track! The bout was held by The Fight Network, promoting its digital TV channel, and their event was the talk of the Grand Prix. All the models at their display table were dressed in skimpy outfits. Who cares about Paul Tracy.

I also noticed that was there too. That's how downmarket this event has become, folks; this was a place to go if you were interested in fights, or poker, or girls. But forget it if you were interested in actual race cars. I noticed the Canadian Armed Forces were also there, showing off their tanks and trying to recruit people to go to Afghanistan. And there were plenty of beer gardens. I said this last year and I'll say it again, this race has turned into nothing more than a big beer drinker's convention. The people at MOLSON may be pleased, but not race fans. This race has turned into something completely minor-league, something to be ignored.

This race has lost a lot of ground in recent years, folks, and don't think for one second that this disasterous CART-IRL split isn't entirely to blame for the lack of interest in this race this year in this town. In this town and everywhere else in Canada, the hot circuit is NASCAR. There is more buzz about the fact that Montreal is going to be getting a crummy Busch Series race next year than there is for the ChampCar World Series. And it's all because NASCAR is the racing equivalent of the NFL these days.

In fact I hear now that the CART-IRL split isn't even going to get resolved until at least 2008- that this mess is going to continue right through next season, too! AAAARGH! Open-wheel racing is being ruined.


In other racing news comes word of more problems for the IRL, as Danica Patrick of the Rahal-Letterman IRL team may quit the circuit to go to NASCAR next season.

One wonders what this will do to the IRL. Ask a casual fan about who's involved right now in the IRL and chances are the only driver they can think of is this woman. Surely this would be a blow to the series, Danica leaving for Jack Roush, even though this silly woman hasn't won a single race. Mind you, her whole IRL team has been in the toilet all season long with their crummy cars. So no wonder she loses all the time.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


You would have thought it was TORONTO that had won the freaking World Cup from all the bleeping TV coverage, and from seeing all these cars going down the street honking horns and waving the Italian flag.

5-3 on penalties after a 1-1 game. What can I say, France threw this game away. Way to go Zidane. Nice head butt. That red card cost your team the Coupe.

Police are now informing Torontonians to stay away from the St. Clair and Dufferin area, the area known as Little Italy, because that place is crowded with celebrants going nuts. Good grief, they might start a riot. Calm down, already, folks. Besides, why the heck should you go crazy over this victory anyway, this is supposed to be Canada. Your country didn't win, it was the country you left that won. Anyway, enough about that.


In other news this had to have been the lowest-profile Grand Prix of Toronto in the whole history of the event, and not only because they officially changed the name from "Molson Indy" to "Grand Prix". Way to go, guys, for scheduling this race at the same hour as the finale of the World Cup. Instead, sports fans stayed home in droves today to watch TV, or went to the usual watering holes or to the Rogers Centre to watch the Cup on the big screen. There were something like 40,000 people at the Dome today watching the game. Nobody cared about the Grand Prix today. If they managed to get the same attendance as last year I'd be very surprised. Even I was too busy watching the World Cup game to care that A.J. Allmendinger crossed the finish line first.

Couldn't the folks at ChampCar have raced this race the following week? At the very least, they should have realized this whole town is the only city in all of North America, except for maybe Los Angeles or New York, where people go gaga over the World Cup. But they went ahead and ignored the freaking calendar, and raced this race anyway. All the usual girls showed up at the Grand Prix but there was no excitement over this race AT ALL in this town this year. Someone ought to be fired.

And what the heck happened to Global Television? Usually they produce a big pre-and-post race show for the Toronto race and make a big deal out of ChampCar, but they decided to save their money and just aired the CBS Television feed from the USA. A total lack of effort today from Global. Are they planning to get out of race coverage? Meanwhile, there was saturation coverage of the World Cup. You could watch the World Cup over the air on no less than four channels in this town: CTV, ABC from Buffalo, and the two OMNI stations. TSN is showing a replay of the big game right now. And they all had their pre-and-post-game shows. So that's what Global was up against.

This just shows you how far ChampCar has fallen in just a short period of time, since the days of Sly Stallone being at the race. It sure looked like this race was filled with, well, minor-leaguers and no-names, a real anonymous group of drivers. They were making a big deal out of Katherine Legge being here and all I could say about that is "who's she?" Meanwhile, all the real stars of the sport are in all the other leagues.

What I heard today was that former ChampCar hotshot Juan Pablo Montoya is planning to quit Formula One to join- get this- NASCAR! Not ChampCar, not the IRL, but NASCAR, and from what I hear he's not the only one thinking of doing this. That tells you all you need to know about the state of things in motorsports. NASCAR is the "hot" circuit where all the action is and where the TV ratings are. All the big motorsports celebrities in North America are in NASCAR these days, save for a few notable IRL folks like the Andrettis and Danica Patrick, and people in Toronto are missing out on all the fun. Instead, they're going to have to fill their gas tanks to drive up to Montreal next year to see those folks in NASCAR and F1.

As for the Toronto Grand Prix, all I'll say is: "grand prix?" More like "second prix." Especially on this day.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


Well, with this World Cup the anti-soccer people have come out of the woodwork again in North America, trashing this sport and claiming it will never catch on. Here's an interesting article in USA Today about the whole debate on whether soccer will ever catch on as a major sport in North America.

Among other things, it quotes legendary soccer-hater Frank Deford of Sports Illustrated fame, who trashes soccer and claims it has had every chance to make it in North America, and that Americans have rejected soccer!

On the other side you have all these pro-soccer guys, still preaching how soccer is going to eventually be a major sport because all these kids in school play it, and all these immigrants to the United States are interested in it, and bla bla bla. But it's been the same old story for years; as soon as these kids hit high school they immediately lose interest and join the football or basketball team, and that's the end of the sport! And immigrants in the USA have always been big soccer fans, there's no argument there; the problem is, no one else is! Nothing's changed about that for the last 30 years, why do people think it will change now?

All I'll say is that we've had this debate for years and years and years, going back to the 1980s and even earlier. The soccer crowd has been insisting for as long as anyone can remember that soccer is going to break through, yet it's still in the same rut it has always been in with mainstream sports commentators and the general public. It's not as if the sport of soccer hasn't tried! They staged a very successful World Cup in the USA in 1994, and had some pretty decent US teams playing in the World Cup finals the last five tournaments in a row. The women's team won the women's World Cup title in recent memory. And MLS has been in business now for 10 years. Yet this sport is still not any more popular than it was back in the 1970s when Pele was playing for the New York Cosmos. In fact, it's NASCAR that has been the break-out sport of the last decade, not soccer. And well before that, it was basketball! If soccer isn't popular by now after all this effort, then I'm sorry, it will never be popular.

Now I hear rumors about David Beckham coming to America to play in MLS in a last-ditch attempt to make this sport a hit in the United States. Dream on. They should just give up.

This sport is never going to be more than what it is in the United States, a cult sport popular with die-hards and various ethnic groups. Sure, this sport has a decent following in places like Washington D.C., New York and New England. LA is considered a soccer hotbed and the TV ratings for World Cup Soccer there have been terrific. This sport has a chance of making it in soccer-mom-rich Blue State America. It's in-between that is the big problem.

In Red State America you'll be hard-pressed to find anyone who follows soccer at all. Maybe this sport has some fans in places like Kansas City and St. Louis, and maybe a couple of the rocky mountain states, but no one else cares. Instead, it's baseball and football that are big out there, and they pack the stands for basketball, auto racing, hockey and all these other sports. Tune in to sports talk radio or read these sportswriters, all of whom obsess about how much they love baseball and football all the time, and the problems are multiplied. Soccer not only doesn't have enough fans; it has real enemies in the mainstream US media who trash the sport and rant and rave about how boring and low-scoring the game is. They've been trashing these players who've been taking these dives in these World Cup games. It's pretty vitriolic, the reaction.

I don't think soccer is going to get anywhere in the USA until they figure out a way to make it more exciting for the American public to watch, or at least more exciting for these commentators. It's not as if this sport has no chance at all. After all, auto racing still gets the same condescending treatment from these baseball-loving sportswriters who claim to hate that sport, too; yet look where it is today. But then again, that sport had the advantage of lots of American drivers racing around on lots of American race courses. Soccer, though, is still seen as a sport for Europeans.

Sadly, that's probably the main reason why a country like the USA is just never going to develop much of a passion for soccer, the sport just isn't American enough for them. It just isn't part of the culture in the USA. But then again, the Brits never liked baseball either.


Well, here we go again. I had a chance to check out all these various websites where all these TV fans got to tear apart the idiotic Emmy nominations. Once again, the TV fans are again howling about all the ridiculous snubs of all these good shows on TV.

Snubbed again: no Gilmore Girls, no Veronica Mars, Battlestar Galactica got the boot, too. The Shield and Deadwood got robbed, too. And explain this to me: Kevin James and Charlie Sheen get Emmy nominations and Hugh Laurie doesn't for House. Makes no sense.

But Will and Grace gets nominated even though this show has been no good for years, The West Wing(!!!) got nominated even though that show's also been no good for years, and Commander in Chief got nominated for Geena Davis even though that show went down the tubes so fast. Arrested Development got nominated even though it was cancelled. In fact people were commenting about how these cancelled shows all got nominations. It's as if all the shows still on the air aren't worth watching. And how often was Martin Sheen on The West Wing this year, anyway? Yet he gets an outstanding lead actor nomination, in a show that was cancelled! These Emmy voters are all idiots.

Why did this all happen? Well, the only thing I can think of is that Emmy voters are so busy writing and producing their shows that they had no time to actually watch TV. So they vote for all these shows and actors and actresses that they think are good, regardless of whether they actually are any good. And so the Emmy nominations end up being out of step with the views of the real TV fans and TV critics. And no doubt, some of these fools could be making a political statement by voting for certain politically-inclined shows. Who knows. Anyway, it sounds like the big winners in the Emmy nominations are The Sopranos, House, 24 and The Office- at least those shows didn't get totally robbed, though some will say The Sopranos and 24 have seen better seasons.

Surprised in the competitive reality category to see Dancing With the Stars nominated; in fact so many of the shows in that category sucked, including Survivor, American Idol (ugh!), Amazing Race (worst year ever for that show), etc. Left out completely was The Apprentice, which just wrapped its most boring and embarrassing season ever, full of public infighting and bad press. It got exactly what it deserved: a big fat snub.

Also snubbed was Lost and Desperate Housewives, but I think that's good news. I can't handle Lost and its ridiculous storyline; but it's still a surprise because it won last year, didn't it? And Desperate Housewives was already the most overrated piece of junk on TV in my estimation, and these goofy actresses were already overhyped. This was simply a case of Emmy voters finally figuring out that this show isn't so hot after all. From what I heard it didn't have a great season anyway. There were lots of stories in the press about how bad this season was, so it got exactly what it deserved. I'm sure there will be people out there in the gossip press, all these Eva Longoria fans and so on, who will follow the party line from all the PR people and try and say that these actresses were all robbed, and try and make a big scandal out of it. But it would have been robbery to give this show nominations over all these other, more deserving series, some of which were actually funny. When it came to this show, the Emmy voters got it right, for a change. What a bunch of dreck Desperate Housewives is.

Those are my Emmy rants for this week.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


Well, this is interesting. Lynne Russell, who was only the most popular news anchor ever on CNN Headline News before she left, has returned to the TV news business with a new gig.

She's now a fill-in newsreader and occasional anchor at Newsworld.

That's right: Lynne Russell is at the CBC!!!!! (The CBC? Isn't some interest group going to complain about this move, or something, too?!)

Read about it here.

Apparently she moved to Canada to be with her German boyfriend, so that's why she's here. Who else is the CBC going to get; Bernard Shaw? Judy Woodruff? Heck, the list has to be a long one.

To answer the question about whether people will complain about it, well, Antonia is whining.

Typical Canadian reaction, she says they should've given the spot to some young Canadian newsreader as some sort of training ground. All I will say is that young newsreaders should get their training somewhere else (ie. local news) and should have their act together by the time they even get in the door at a place like Newsworld- which clearly Lynne Russell has done in spades. She's a better newsreader than anyone else they could have gotten, one of the best in the business, period. Newsworld is supposed to be a world-class TV news operation, and the BBC, CNN and Fox News hire the best; why shouldn't the CBC? So what if she's American; the Americans hire Canadians all the time in TV news (EVEN PBS!), and Canadians have worked for the BBC, and NHK, and TV news operations around the world in places like Singapore and Hong Kong. Besides, she lives here; do you expect Lynne Russell to commute to Buffalo, instead, and work for Channel 7?! We should give first-rate American broadcasters a chance too.

Besides, there aren't enough 59-year-old women in television news to begin with, there are all these complaints out there already about how so many of them get kicked off the air before they hit their forties, let alone their fifties. It wouldn't kill the CBC to give these older newsreaders an opportunity occasionally. Anyway, people should quit grouching already.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Well, I guess the sentencing hearing's off.


Well that David Lat departure at Wonkette was just the tip of the iceberg. I heard there were big shakeups happening in the pro blogger world over at Gawker Media. Heard of firings and layoffs. Gawker canned Jesse Oxfeld as editor and a few of the other blogs had quite a few changes. Read all about it at the Huffington Post.

Seems the competition is catching up with the folks over there at Gawker. Also heard they may shut down two less-successful blogs, Screenhead and Sploid. Who cares about those blogs. As long as they keep open Fleshbot, people should be happy.

I'm joking again, folks.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


The Space Shuttle finally blasted off on live TV today. Whoopee.

I forgot to mention that on the list of news stories that pass as entertainment, (13) market coverage is usually pretty entertaining. It's fun to kick back and watch all the action at the stock exchanges and watch the CNBC floor reporters get pushed around by the traders. And then they ring the bell and it's a big whoop de doo. Fun stuff.

And I should also mention (14) the action in the House of Commons or in Congress. Whenever there's some big debate or some big vote, it's fun to sit and watch the action unfold on CPAC and C-SPAN.

See, there's lots of fun live news stories out there that are great entertainment. Beats the soap operas and all that other crap on daytime television.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


The Space Shuttle launch didn't happen today. Bad weather, will try again Tuesday afternoon. Darnet.

I ended up wasting my time watching Miles O'Brien on CNN Pipeline, talking about the weather. What a joke.

Anyway, on to the subject matter of my post. I find there's quite a few news stories out there that are simply fun to watch as entertainment. Stuff where you simply kick back, grab some popcorn and sit and watch the news on TV. (In my case I usually tune in to the live streaming video on my computer screen from the news channels, which is basically the same thing.)

Usually these sorts of things can also be considered "big news", but not always. For instance, you can't describe terrorist attacks as being all that entertaining, and I can't get worked up about run-of-the-mill crime coverage or even riot coverage. Plane crashes are another one- I just find that kind of stuff too depressing. It really isn't all that entertaining to watch news that's too downbeat. But some news stories I just sit back and watch as entertainment. For example:

(1) Live coverage of the space program. Lately, the live space shuttle launches have been fun to tune into, same with the landings. Of course, it's no fun when things go wrong, but that's another story. One pines for the old days, though, of Walter Cronkite and the moon landings and all that. Those were the glory days of NASA coverage.
(2) Hurricane coverage. As you know it's hurricane season once again and you know what that means, folks, we're in for plenty of coverage from TV stations along the Gulf Coast; plus you have the networks covering these things with guys like Anderson Cooper getting blown around. It's no fun following the post-hurricane coverage, though, just too depressing. Though it is a lot of fun to see reporters yell at public officials on the air. That is why we watch the news, folks.
(3) War coverage. When war breaks out in the Middle East and the bombs start falling, I've found that to be a good time to stay in and watch the news on TV. I will admit though, it also gets very depressing to watch after a few days of moaning by the usual reporters about how badly the war is going, and you get fed up watching all these miserable reporters, trashing the war efforts. So I always end up tuning out eventually. But it can be pretty interesting during the early portion of the war and also when the troops are entering the capital and all heck is breaking loose.
(4) Political conventions are always entertaining to watch on TV and the news networks always put in a big effort to cover these things and interview big guests. They bring out the A-list pundits for all these things. Doesn't matter which country, the US or Canada, the coverage is always great. And speaking of Canada,we're in for major Liberal convention coverage in December. Fun times for political fans.
(5) Of course, election nights are always great, especially when you stay up all night waiting for the results to come in like they do in the USA and in the UK. The last two presidential elections, you needed to stay up all night in order to find out the results. Fun stuff. (By the way, this is an election year in the USA and also a municipal election year in parts of Canada.)
(6) Inaugurations and State of the Union speeches before Congress. You have got to know that these speeches are going to be top-notch and that the President will utter something memorable about the Axis of Evil or something like that.
(7) Presidential press conferences; fun stuff, especially when there's major groveling being done.
(8) Major trials. I love watching these big trials from Court TV and these networks, and watching Nancy and Greta and the rest of them rant and rave about them. The celebrity trials like OJ and Jacko are probably my favorite, because you know that the media goes nuts all the time over them--- but I've also enjoyed watching the live craziness on display over in Iraq at the Saddam Hussein trial.
(9) Car chases. There's nothing better than a good LA car chase for news. You just never know what is going to happen. I used to see this stuff all the time on KTLA, all these car chases. Apparently these got outlawed by the LAPD, but eventually there was a clamor by these TV people to bring the car chases back, so they brought 'em back. I don't know if we're going to have too many car chases on TV in the future, but they're great newsertainment. Who can ever forget OJ in the white Ford Bronco, chased by the cops? Great television.
(10) Executions. I find these cases compelling, though it's admittedly kind of ghoulish to be interested in whether or not some lowlife on Death Row lives or dies. Anyway, it's great fun, all the death penalty special interest groups come out to watch. And there's always the spectre of some last-minute stay of execution so there's always a lot of activity.
(11) Emergency landings. You know those stories where some plane loses its landing gear and has to make an emergency landing, so they show it live? Those are pretty neat.
(12) This is probably my personal favorite: live coverage of revolutions. You cannot beat that.

That's about it. Oh by the way, it's election night in Mexico. I'm sure there's some stream out there on the Web, with live election coverage from down there. Anyway, that's about it.