Sunday, April 30, 2006

MORE ON THE WB

As you know the CW is coming this fall with the merger of the WB network with UPN. Just recently they announced that WNLO Channel 23 Buffalo was going to be the new CW affiliate here.

Anyway, Nikki Finke is livid and outraged about the end of the WB. She has it on good authority that this is in her own mind a UPN "takeover" of the WB, and that there are only three WB shows that are "locks" to join the CW: Smallville, Supernatural and Gilmore Girls. But there's nothing new about that, those three have been locks to join the CW for weeks anyway. ( I read there was turmoil at Gilmore Girls, though, with creator/head honcho Amy Sherman-Palladino quitting.) But Finke is complaining that even more of the UPN shows are "locks" including not only good shows like Smackdown! and America's Next Top Model, but also utter junk like Girlfriends.

Finke is mad about all this. Who does she blame? Why, who else. Les Moonves, because CBS has a big stake in the new network. She's claiming CBS prez Moonves is behind giving Viacom all the power in the new operation.

What she doesn't say is that much of the current lineup on the WB is unwatchable! Charmed is being cancelled and has been lousy ever since Shannen Doherty left; so is the much-hated 7th Heaven. Most of the WB lineup consists of shows that the kids quit watching a long time ago, or new stuff that isn't getting an audience like these lame reality shows they keep on running (Survival of the Richest). No one is watching the WB, folks! It's not the network it used to be.

Friday, April 28, 2006

LAW AND ORDER IN DEEP DECLINE

Well, NBC has been renewing a bunch of shows like E.R. and Las Vegas and Medium, and of course the 3 Law and Orders.

This last bit of news is good news for the fans like myself, but it sure looks like the writing is on the wall. This next season with be number 17 for Law and Order and it sure looks as if the show is running out of gas. They are still hoping to get four more years and beat Gunsmoke's record, but it sure looks as if Matt Dillon and the gang have little to worry about right now. The ratings have fallen; I read that the show fell as low as a 3.0 rating on NBC. Up here in Canada, CTV has banished the show in disgrace to Friday nights, to make room for the more popular CSI franchise on Wednesdays. In recent weeks it even had to go up against another Dick Wolf show, Conviction, on Global. So the speculation is on that Jack McCoy and crew aren't long for this world.

In other cast change news, actress Annie Parisse has quit the show- she was the ADA on the show. The cast changes have been getting ridiculous, but I think people over there at Law and Order realize this show is in some trouble and they need to make changes to try and turn things around.

VERONICA MARS FANS HATE THE NEW JERSEY NETS

This is the season for network shows being pre-empted by playoff sporting events on TV.

We have this situation in Canada all the time. Hockey Night in Canada is on every weeknight these days, so the fans of The National (and there are many of them out there) are loud and vocal and livid about how The National is being bumped to make room for hockey, and how the CBC shouldn't be showing hockey and ought to get rid of sports to make room for the real "important" high-minded news and public affairs programs. And so on. These rants have gone on for years and it finally led to the CBC reducing its playoff coverage somewhat, sending the American NHL playoff games to TSN. But the CBC still shows the Canadian teams and that means The National is being bumped a lot these days, with so many Canadian teams playing in the opening round.

The NBA playoffs are in full swing and a full-scale controversy has erupted in New York City. WWOR Channel 9 is the UPN affiliate there, and they carry quality UPN network shows like Veronica Mars. They are also heavily into sports programming, carrying Friday Night Yankees baseball games and New Jersey Nets basketball games.

Well, it is the NBA playoffs, and the New Jersey Nets have played havoc with the schedule of shows. Channel 9 has shown Nets basketball for the last two weeks in a row on Tuesday, and in the process have bumped off airings of Veronica Mars. It looks like they will play again next Tuesday, against the Indiana Pacers, and bump off Veronica again. The problem is that it's nearing the end of the TV season and there are two episodes left, and the Nets coverage could very well wipe out both remaining episodes if they get past the first round. Veronica Mars fans are livid. The Random Observations blog has been ranting about the preemptions for weeks, and the boards over at Television Without Pity are also ranting and raving about the preemptions and screaming mad at UPN 9 for showing the Nets.

There are two theories for why the pre-emptions are happening:

(1) The New Jersey Nets have more fans than Veronica Mars does, so you're better off as a station showing the high-quality local programming involving the Nets. Veronica Mars has a rabid group of fans, but they are famously small in number, and the ratings for this show are just terrible.

(2) This is obviously an act of sabotage by Channel 9 to help destroy Veronica Mars and the coming CW network. WWOR has lost their UPN affiliation effective this fall. UPN is being merged with the WB to create the CW Network, and the CW is going to air on Tribune-owned WPIX Channel 11, a station which is seen in much of Canada on cable TV. If Veronica Mars returns for season number 3 it will be shown on "The CW 11", not Channel 9! So why the heck should channel 9 promote a program or a network that isn't going to be on their station?! Why help make Veronica Mars a hit, it might come back to haunt you!

WWOR is joining the My Network this fall, an offshoot of the Fox Network that sounds like it will show a lot of English-language versions of the "telenovelas" popular on Spanish-language TV. Channel 9 has already dropped the name "UPN" from its promotional material and from its logos and now refers to itself as "My 9", even though the My Network will not be airing until the fall. And I think they realize at WWOR that the My Network programming is going to be no good, so they're banking on showing lots of local sporting events like the Nets games.

Some will also ask why they don't air the Nets games on the YES Network like they do during the regular season? The easy answer is the YES Network doesn't go into as many homes and are busy showing Yankees baseball games at the moment. So the Nets games have to be seen somewhere and Channel 9 is where they go. But the Veronica Mars fans are all upset and writing letters, and ranting on these fan sites. They can't wait for next year when the new CW comes along. Assuming that Veronica Mars gets another season with its disasterous ratings. And if they get cancelled, you can bet there will be riots among Veronica Mars fans. There are already riots in New York City over a few pre-emptions.

In the meantime the Veronica Mars fans are at home cheering on the Pacers and hoping they get rid of Vince Carter and the Nets before the TV season ends.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL COVERAGE

Having a law degree is good qualification for covering a film festival.

Check out the coverage from ex-lawyer Rachel Sklar of the Huffington Post, covering the Tribeca Film Festival, which includes the rants of people like Melissa Lafsky (Opinionistas) and other people.

Also check out the ramblings of the people who think United 93 is a big conspiracy and who say that the plane was actually shot down, and that it was all covered up. These lefties in the USA, into conspiracies and the rest of it! What a bunch of nonsense. They look like they have lost their marbles, these people.

And by the way, Canada has ex-law graduates covering film festivals, too- ie. Ben Mulroney.

This is good news for people like myself. All these film festival blogging opportunities are available now. Maybe I should try and get one of these major blogs to pay my way to one of these things. Then I can go in and watch some free movies! Blogging is the best thing to happen to journalism since sliced bread.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

SNOW IN THE FORECAST

Fox News TV anchor and radio show host Tony Snow accepted the White House press secretary position today after getting a medical clearance from his doctors- he had just recovered from cancer. Meanwhile, life goes on at Fox News, they already have replacements lined up. I guess Dan Senor can keep his day job- he'll at least be able to see his wife more often (Campbell Brown).

The University of Western Ontario must be no good at placing its grads in press secretary jobs at the White House after all. Rats.

Yet another journo from TV land bolts to politics! There was a big writeup in the Ryerson Review of Journalism about it, too, about all these people leaving to go work in politics because they were bored and fed up doing the same old reporting all the time. It's the same old beat, no chance of advancement to management or to writing columns, according to that Ryerson article I read. So these journalists get fed up and they leave. I also think they get fed up with being fired and laid off all the time, plus the pay in journalism is terrible. I can sort of relate because I up and ditched journalism to try politics, though I'm sort of fed up with politics already.

Life in TV news, and on the radio, must be really terrible if Tony Snow feels compelled to take the White House job, a job which ate Scott McClellan alive. Read on TVNewser that his Fox News friends think Snow has lost his marbles. We'll see how Snow does.

Speaking of radio, read that David Lee Roth got canned in favor of shock jocks Opie and Anthony. Roth was the replacement for Howard Stern; obviously that did not go well for him at all. So lots of shakeups in radio land recently, including this Tony Snow announcement today.

Monday, April 24, 2006

"PRIME MINISTER BOB RAE"- GOD HELP US ALL

Well, you cannot expect a notoriously unimpartial fool like me to say anything good about Bob Rae's entry into the Liberal leadership race today.

What a bizarre turn of events. I look at Rae and all I can think of is "NDP".

What's worse, he was a complete disaster as premier, with the deficits and the disasterous Social Contract, and the Rae Days, and the high taxes and the rest of it. He spent part of today's launch speech apologizing for his mistakes. Well, now he's making an even bigger mistake- running for Liberal leader.

I personally find it hard to believe that any right-minded Liberal would want to vote for him. Put another way, suppose Ontario ex-Premier David Peterson came out of retirement to run for leader of the federal Tories?! That would make no sense either. Peterson, by the way, is trashing Rae at every turn and publicly backing Michael Ignatieff. I don't blame him for being mad. If I were a Liberal, especially a Liberal in Ontario, there would be no way I would support Bob Rae for leader. But this fool Rae apparently has some support.

There are people who think Bob Rae is just the guy to "unite the left". But I don't see how that will happen. This is just going to anger the NDP and galvanize them even more. Jack Layton already hates Rae's guts and is having a cow over this defection to the Liberals. They're already mad at Buzz Hargrove for all the help he gave the Liberals in the last election! If Rae actually wins the leadership (which I doubt), the left will tear itself apart.

I don't get it! Is the Liberal Party of Canada so desperate to run from the mistakes of the Paul Martin/Jean Chretien era that they have to turn to some turncoat New Democrat to lead them?! Almost as bad are these other guys in the race, and oh, two women. Most of them had nothing to do with much of what went on in Parliament for the last decade and have hardly any federal experience, certainly less than two years in a few cases. One of them hasn't lived in the country for years before running for leader. Another is a turncoat who ran once to become leader of the Progressive Conservative Party. Still another was a lefty hack Education Minister in Ontario who has "charisma" but no federal political experience at all. Then you have that ex-goalie thinking of running whose national day-care efforts are being tossed out and replaced by the federal government as we speak.

This race is a joke! What a bunch of mediocrities you have, people with no federal experience or hardly any federal experience running for leader, or experience ruining Ontario. And one of them might actually win.

You would think Stephen Harper won't have to worry about any of these folks but I'd sure worry. My fear is that one of these hacks might catch fire and get into office as Prime Minister; then think of the damage they'll do to the country. Bob Rae is a disaster waiting to happen, and for that matter, so is his leadership campaign. As I say, God help us if he wins, or if people in Canada are crazy/stupid enough to put him in. Then we'll all need our passports to escape to the 'States.

This is proof that you can't get rid of politicians, even when you toss them out on their rear ends at election time in this country! They just keep coming back! What other Liberal/turncoat is going to run for leader? David Orchard? Joe Clark?! Clark might as well run- everyone else is.

I LOVE THAT WORD "REFORM!"

Speaking of politicians that nobody can get rid of, what's Preston Manning doing these days? Is he still going to run for the Alberta PC leadership?! These are strange times, indeed. Canadian politics has gone nuts. Today is proof!

POLITICS: ROUGH BUSINESS

Last week was the big bloodbath at the George W. Bush White House. Among others, Press Secretary Scott McClellan got the boot and took the fall for all the White House's problems.

I had thought that being a White House press secretary would be a cool job to have. I guess not, you get a lot of flack and take the blame for the decisions that get made on high. Like---- going into Iraq. Scott McClellan didn't make that decision, but he takes the blame anyway for the low approval ratings. It's too bad. You know, we had a similar shakeup up here in Canada and it always sucks when people walk the plank. I can sympathise, because I worked on political campaigns as part of the press team on more than one occasion. The press secretary's job is a thankless job for the most part, with long hours and a lot of grief. I can tell you that a lot of things are beyond their control, a lot of real decisions get made by other people. Having people above them who know what they're doing sure helps a lot. It would be much easier to be the speechwriter than the press secretary, at least they get some credit for making the good speeches. But press secretaries have to face the media all the freaking time and take all the heat. Anyway, Scott McClellan has walked the plank.

Read an article in the Huffington Post by lawyer-in-exile Rachel Sklar speculating on who the replacement is going to be. A lot of people think it could be Tony Snow, the Fox News talking head and political host. But Sklar thinks it could be 34-year-old Harvard Business School grad Dan Senor, who used to work as an aide for Spencer Abraham. He now works as a strategy consultant in D.C. and recently got married to NBC News correspondent Campbell Brown. Sklar is taking a lot of flack(!) because she happens to know the guy, claims she went to college with him and actually had nice things to say about him. It turns out Dan Senor did his undergrad at the University of Western Ontario.

Western?! Hey, this is impressive, a Western grad in the White House. Maybe. (Did Rachel Sklar go to Western too?) Why did he go there, I want to know. Was he a local?

Wow, a Western grad up for a job in the White House. This is bound to raise us Western people up a notch.

What bugs me is that the other place I went to, the University of Saskatchewan, never has any of its alumni going on to marry beautiful NBC News correspondents like Campbell Brown, or writing screenplays in Hollywood, or doing movie reviews in San Francisco, or anchoring the news anywhere important. They all go on to lead completely boring lives, for the most part, usually in Alberta. There's no reason at all for this, because the U of S gives you a completely good education. But the problem is they have no decent alumni network, so your life is ruined after you leave! This was why I went to Western- to make up for the fact that I went to the U of S! So that I could still have a chance to live in a big famous city like New York or LA, or Washington D.C.! Anyway, enough about Dan Senor.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

BACK SOON

Posting will be light for a couple days.

Let's put it this way. Hockey is Canada, Canada is Hockey, and it's great the Cup playoffs are back.

Let all the people who complain about The National being pre-empted by hockey games complain all they want; the bottom line is the NHL playoffs are BACK.

I'll be back soon, if I can get my eyes unglued from the TV.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

BUFFALO WB 49 NEWS AT TEN IS BACK--- SORT OF

Starting tomorrow night the WB 49 in Buffalo (remember, the B stands for Babes!), will have a ten o'clock newscast again. Problem is that it will be not an in -house 'cast, but farmed out from the NBC channel 2 news operation in Buffalo.

This happens a lot in the USA, a lot of these news operations have their main news on the main CBS or NBC station and then they farm out a 10 PM version to the local WB or UPN affiliate.

It's odd that channel 2 is producing a 10 PM newscast again, they used to produce a 10 PM news broadcast for WPXJ PAX Channel 51, but then they shut that down. Maybe the ratings weren't so hot at the other place (nobody watched PAX anyway). Maybe they think it will get better ratings because it will be on a real station that carries a real network like the WB.

Of course, this station the WB 49 is dumping its WB affiliation to join that silly My Network that FOX has dreamed up, so ratings are bound to go into the tank again. Anyway, it's good there's a newscast to watch again on 49, maybe they'll show some sports highlights.

CELEB COOKING: STILL A FLOP

Celebrity Cooking Showdown is turning into one of the biggest train wrecks in television history. Fifth place, 1.1 rating, behind just about everyone except UPN last night. They could have put a Billy Graham Crusade or an infomercial with Tony Robbins in it up against Celeb Cooking and gotten better ratings.

Remember back in 1979, NBC put on this show, Supertrain? That was one of the most notorious flops of all time, and it aired on NBC. Celeb Cooking would kill for Supertrain's ratings right now.

NBC looks desperate right now, an odd position for them to be in. NBC hasn't done badly with developing hit shows. There was a 20-year stretch when they were showing Hill Street Blues, Cheers, LA Law, Seinfeld, Friends, ER--- and a host of others. Their programming executives- Brandon Tartikoff, Warren Littlefield- are legends. This network has a rich history of developing the great shows of TV, the all-time hits. But when it's a miss-- Supertrain, Manimal, Hello Larry! etcetera---- boy is it ever a miss. When the train wrecks at NBC, it wrecks big.

At least these executives were honest last year when they stood up there at their press conference to announce the fall schedule- they basically admitted how badly they were doing and how it was going to take time to turn it around. Unfortunately it looks like it's going to take much more time for NBC to come back after this wreck.

Any show would have done better than this. The Apprentice, which got pre-empted on Monday by this show, would have done better. Donald Trump ought to be invited by NBC executives to personally tell the producers of Celebrity Cooking: you're fired!

UPDATE: CELEB COOKING HAS BEEN CANCELLED. NBC had a cow over the dismal ratings so they actually pulled the show out of Thursday and Friday and ran the finals on Saturday, instead, in the "death" time slot where the networks bury their reruns and other prime-time outcasts. I think FOX had a NASCAR race on or something at that hour. No doubt nobody was watching this show. Bye bye, Alan Thicke!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

PEPPER DENNIS

Here's another post from me on that WB show about TV news, Pepper Dennis. I was watching the opening credits and guess who is in the cast!

Brooke Burns.

It's true. Rebecca Romijn and Brooke Burns--- in the same show!

Brilliant casting. If nothing else, these producers and casting directors know what the guys out there like. All they need to do now is convince gorgeous Natasha Henstridge to join the cast, and this show will run for years. All the guys will be hooked.

The "B" in "WB" surely stands for Babes.

SWELTERING IN HOUSTON

Well, here's another ENRON trial update from me.

Been reading the Wall Street Journal Law Blog continuing coverage of the trial, live from sweltering Houston. The Law Blog has been in the courtroom; also, the blog is posting complaints about how hot and scorching it is down in Houston. The weather down there is famously terrible. Houston is so hot that people have to watch baseball games indoors down there. And the place is smack dab in the hurricane zone, too. Nice, wonderful place Houston is. I've heard lots of people trash Houston as a place to live, saying the town is too hot, the traffic is gridlock, and that there is no culture there, either. The NFL team stinks, too, and there's no NHL team, either. Who wants to live in Houston.

Anyway the big story in town remains the trial. Today Jeff Skilling lost it on cross-examination. He reacted angrily and testily to a prosecution statement today while on the witness stand. This after spending the last several days being witty and turning on the charm while testifying. Read about the outburst here.

I find trials like this one interesting not because of any legal precedents or any of that- I'm interested in seeing people react under pressure and seeing how these personalities deal with the situation. Doesn't sound like this day went too well for Jeff Skilling from the sounds of it.

CELEBRITY COOKING SHOWDOWN A FLOP

Well, the ratings are in for the first installment of Celebrity Cooking Showdown. This reality-cooking-contest ripoff of these Dancing with the Stars/Skating with Celebrities/American Idol shows has already crashed and burned: fourth place on NBC at nine PM. I read that even Supernanny beat it--- a sure sign your show is a big flop.

The really bad news is that NBC has no choice but to show this complete train wreck for the rest of the week. They were going to make this a week-long event! Now they're stuck with a week-long dud! NBC will be taking a beating all week. And I'm surprised because cooking was supposed to be the big craze, what with Emeril and Rachael Ray and all these people on TV.

We should all have known this was going to happen, though, since Alan Thicke is the host. When has he ever been on a hit show or something that was any good? There was Growing Pains, but that show wasn't good. His involvement with this latest project was a red flag right there.

In other news, Rod Stewart is scheduled to appear on American Idol this week and all I will say about that lousy show is that I still cannot believe this is not only a hit, but the biggest hit show in America today. This show is single-handedly responsible for putting good TV writers in Hollywood out of work across the board.

We see these mediocre renditions of Barry Manilow tunes from these contestants, and the ensuing put-down remarks from the judges (or at least one of the judges). Then we're expected to believe this show is going to crown the next big thing in American popular music after this is over, the biggest star in America. Right. What other celebrity are they going to bring out of the crypt to appear on this show?! Neil Diamond?! I wouldn't be surprised. If this is the future of American music, this show, then the music industry in the USA is in deep trouble.

It's thanks to Simon Cowell and the no-lives people who watch this guy that we are getting all the bad reality TV littering the screens all the time. These development people think imitating his show, and imitating him, is the way to go. So we get all this rubbish on TV, all trying to ape the success of American Idol. And most of these efforts end up being flops.

No wonder people are turning to the Internet and to video games in droves, they can't stand the stuff on TV. What garbage!

AL JAZEERA STILL HIRING

Well, lost in the shuffle with all the Katie Couric news is the fact that Al Jazeera International is still hiring. Yes, those guys can't get TV distribution in the USA, they are generally hated by everyone on this side of the world, but they are still pressing ahead hiring people.

I think their pitch to people is that they'll do a better job covering international news than these other places, and they may have a point. Frankly, nobody else is doing ANY job covering international news, so the road is free and clear for a new competitor with resources to come in and start up. The problem for Al Jazeera, though, stems from all the baggage associated with this network because of the awful al-Qaida videos they've run. No wonder they can't get distribution in the USA, they have a terrible reputation with Americans.

But not with reporters, apparently, who keep on flocking to join the network. Today I found out that Kimberly Halkett has joined the Washington D.C. bureau of Al Jazeera as an anchor. Kimberly Halkett, formerly of Global TV. CANADA. Now at Al Jazeera.

What surprises me is that Halkett still has a work visa to work down there in the States! Personally I'd be scared to even schedule a meeting with Al Jazeera, let alone work there, because of all the stories I hear about how much the US government hates this network. I heard all the stories about how the US wanted to bomb this station during the war! Al Jazeera's name is mud in the United States and it's going to take a lot for this operation to convince people that they aren't part of the Axis of Evil.

I also read that Rob Reynolds of CNBC is joining Al Jazeera, too, so that is a sure indication right there that life sucks at CNBC for people there. If you're bolting CNBC for Al Jazeera of all places, man, that really looks bad in my estimation.

All in all, it seems like a lot of credible people are signing on to Al Jazeera, people like David Frost, Dave Marash, Riz Khan and so on. People who used to work at CNN and the BBC are going there. So maybe it's not going to be so bad after all. Then again, maybe CNN and the BBC aren't so good. Who knows.

One thing is true. There are very few places out there for people to go to in TV if they are interested in covering international news. If you got into TV journalism to see the world you're really out of luck these days. Look at Fox News or MSNBC or these places, all they seem to cover are domestic stories like the Natalee Holloway case and the recent arrest there, or the local hurricanes and tornadoes. These networks have all cut back, and international reporting has been reduced to backpack-journalism for most people. The only real option people have to cover international news is to join some foreign startup like Al Jazeera, who's hiring people like mad, and then cross your fingers that they will establish some semblance of credibility with the US public in the future.

That's the reason why they're hiring so many people. There's nowhere else for these international newsies to go-- which in a way is too bad.

Monday, April 17, 2006

LACK OF NEWS

Well there's been a total lack of hard news coverage here at the CAIRNS BLOG in recent days.

I ought to get back to covering some news this week. Real news, that is, not this Katie Couric bulloney. Things are starting to happen with the Liberal leadership race, plus, there's been stuff happening around the world. The ENRON trial continues with Jeff Skilling on the stand; the Iranians are threatening to go nuclear; the Israelis are getting blown up again by these Palestinians; and the Taliban continues to threaten people in Afghanistan. Plus the situation in Iraq is still a mess. All in all, it's a sad situation for the entire world with all the trouble out there.

And the Toronto Maple Leafs have missed the playoffs. Tampa Bay won in overtime over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday, so the Maple Leafs are out. Couldn't happen to a better group of fans, these Maple Leaf supporters. I know they have gone crazy with depression over no Stanley Cups for just about 40 years now, but they really have to find a way to voice their displeasure at the box office. They ought to do what they've done to the Toronto Blue Jays, and to a lesser extent, the Raptors. They should just stay home and refuse to pay for these hundred-dollar tickets for Leaf games. But they are too hooked on the Leafs. They aren't hockey fans, they don't care about the Toronto Marlies. The Marlies are going to be in the playoffs but nobody cares about them. This isn't a hockey town; it's a Maple Leafs town. Period.

Anyway I am looking forward to the Stanley Cup playoffs at the end of the week. It will be very weird in this town, with a lack of Leafs in the playoffs and lack of that accompanying excitement. But then again, the World Cup is coming this year, too, with all these people waving their nation's flags from their cars around town. So we'll get some excitement in Toronto, eventually, just not during the Stanley Cup. I say if you can't be in Germany there's no better place in the world to be than Toronto during the World Cup, because of the mix of nationalities. Everyone gets into it here, watching the games on big-screen TVs in Little Italy, Little Protugal, the Danforth, in these English pubs or these other places where the Europeans hang out. Of course, the rest of Canada really doesn't care about soccer or the World Cup much, but that's their problem.

LIBERAL LEADERSHIP RACE NEWS

This promises to be a big week in the Liberal leadership race. A number of leadership hopefuls are set to announce this week. The papers are saying Bob Rae is all set to announce a run, and that Maurizio Bevilacqua is set to announce tomorrow. Also expect announcements from Joe Volpe and Scott Brison by week's end. Carolyn Bennett and Ken Dryden are also expected to run; Bennett is supposed to be running on a reform-the-party type of platform so that may appeal to the Belinda supporters. Already in are Gerard Kennedy, Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff, with Martha Hall Findlay having declared but not yet officially registered as a candidate.

To me the Liberal Party sure looks like the Toronto Party. This is ridiculous; virtually every candidate for the leadership of the party is a Toronto or GTA candidate. Maybe this will prove to be good news for Stephane Dion and Scott Brison; they can compete as regional candidates and get a solid bloc of supporters. Then they can make lots of deals on the convention floor. This promises to be a wild convention this December, with all these candidates. Actually, I hope this convention goes five ballots and goes till 2 in the morning. Not because the Liberals would look like a party in chaos or any of those types of reasons that these Tories might hope for. I actually think it would be pretty exciting stuff to see a wild convention with a lot of deals being done, it would be great television. We haven't had conventions like that in a long time.

Back to watching TV for me.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

KATIE ON THE COVER OF NEWSWEEK

Well I have gotten a copy of the latest issue of Newsweek with Katie Couric on the cover, and you can read the article about Katie here if you can't find the issue or perhaps are too cheap to want to buy it.

As for the chattering classes, well, people are still horrified that Katie will be anchoring the CBS Evening News, and complaining about what a big sellout this is. They think this is a victory for "entertainment values" and "tabloid TV". They think CBS News isn't going for a serious journalist but for a "personality" in their anchor choice, and they don't like that one bit. They think Katie's on-air persona, her warmth and general perkiness are unfit for the CBS Evening News. They think the newscast will be "dumbed down" to grab a bigger audience. I also read somewhere- I think it was in Newsweek-- that people are complaining that the CBS Evening News is being babed-up and that the network execs have some sort of plot to put on all the hot lookers on the air to get an audience, like the usual suspects Lara Logan and Trish Regan. People actually are complaining about all this! They think the addition of Couric is surely the end of TV news as we know it and the triumph of tabloid TV values, and they are angry about it.

Maybe it is a big change. This seems to be the final act in the transition from the Big 3 era of Rather, Brokaw and Jennings. It's no longer "The Voice of God" telling you what the important news is each day. Now it's the era of the anchor-as-personality, the era of emotional news anchors and emotive news stories. The critics say the actual news will no longer be treated as important in this new era, or even seem important. And people are upset about it and trashing these news executives. They say the TV executives are about to turn the evening newscasts into nightly, half-hour imitations of Dateline NBC.

Also angry are all the Bob Schieffer fans who don't want Schieffer to leave and actually think the CBS Evening News is just fine the way it is, thank you very much. I actually agree and think there was no need to go after Katie Couric! They were doing just fine with the crew they had, but Les Moonves is completely power-mad and willing to spend money like crazy to beat NBC in the evening news race. People have this misguided notion that Katie Couric will somehow appeal to a younger audience and get young people to watch the evening news. But frankly, young people were just fine watching Bob Schieffer. Katie is no big improvement; what young person wants to see this woman from the Today Show who gets all emotional and cries on TV all the time?

I sort of don't care whether Katie's the anchor or not, really. Bob was going to leave anyway, so it really doesn't affect me either way. Besides, I don't make a habit out of watching the CBS Evening News anymore. Too many boring drug stories! If they really want to attract a younger audience they need to run fewer medical stories. People are tired of seeing reports about arthritis cures and the coming human-to-human bird-flu epidemic. You really think young people want to watch that? No- short answer. And it doesn't matter whether it is Katie Couric or Bob Schieffer throwing to some hot babe like Trish Regan or somebody to talk about some miracle cure; drug stories are drug stories, and only people over the age of 60 care about that sort of news. People could care less about the reporters covering this dreck, whether they're under 30 or hot-looking or not. They should really cut down on these boring drug stories.

But the drug stories will NEVER go away, even though they aren't big news! The drug companies are the biggest advertisers on the Evening News by such a big margin that it's a joke. So you can be sure these stories are still going to go on, as usual. Same with the usual sad stories about people dying in Iraq, or people cleaning up from all the natural disasters that wreck the United States all the time. Watch the evening news for a week and you'll be convinced that the world is about to end, that we're all going to die. You really think young people want to watch that!? They really need to change the stories that they show if they are serious about getting an audience under the age of 60. But then people will complain and say the CBS Evening News is becoming a tabloid newscast with entertainment values! Right.

Anyway, it's all much ado about nothing. I don't think we'll see much change in the newscast, beyond a new host and perhaps a chattier style. We'll see Katie interviewing the correspondents in the field, asking Byron Pitts where in the world he is and so on. We'll see lots of stories about colon cancer on the CBS Evening News, you can bet your hat about that. Anyway, that's about it.

Katie Couric will go to CBS and the sky won't fall, and it won't be the end of the TV news business as we know it, and she'll do her job and they'll be fine. There should be an initial buzz and some pretty big ratings. But I also say get ready for some big howls from the critics. This is certainly the most controversial anchoring move we've seen, possibly in history, all because perky Katie Couric is seen as representing "entertainment values". These big TV critics are lining up, so they can blast her opening night this fall. Mark my words, it is happening right now. They are all readying their guns.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

BILLABLE HOURS

Noticed on the billboards on the subways that Showcase is promoting a new comedy show called Billable Hours. It's a half-hour show set in a big corporate law firm and the premise is these are young lawyers who hate their jobs, their jobs are boring, hours are long, etc. So expect a lot of anti-law firm sentiment.

The show premieres April 16th and is set to run eight episodes this season. It's the brainchild of three guys who used to work in a big law firm together themselves. Here's the story about the show from the Toronto Sun.

Noticed the production company is also bringing to Citytv Canada's Next Top Model, hosted by Tricia Helfer; the Canadian version of the Tyra Banks edition.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

TONIGHT ON NBC

Tonight on Deal or No Deal, the 26 Deal babes are all Miss USA delegates!!

That's right. Instead of eating slugs on Fear Factor like they usually do, the Miss USA candidates are going to be opening the suitcases and showing the money. I say that is an improvement. These Miss USA babes must be thanking the Lord that there's a game show they can go on, just so they don't have to go on Fear Factor.

It's not as if Fear Factor is something to be afraid of: it's that the show's DANGEROUS. Who knows what kind of diseases you're likely to pick up by eating the garbage they make you eat on that show. You'll probably be too sick to compete in the pageant!

I wonder if Fear Factor is coming back with another one of their awful Miss USA Fear Factor competitions. I hope not. Fear Factor ranks right down there as one of the worst shows on TV, right down there with Jerry Springer, Maury Povich, Supernanny, you name it.

By the way the Miss USA Pageant will be April 21st. On NBC.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

MATT LAUER IS RICH TODAY

On the heels of Meredith Vieira's signing at Today, Matt Lauer has signed on thru 2011. 13 million cool ones a year for Matt Lauer.

And to think that he was once broke and unemployed and out of the business for a year-and-a-half before NBC rescued him. Life has turned around for Matt Lauer.

Also read somewhere his divorce is final,too, so life is good. (Hee hee.)

THE APPRENTICE SERIES IS IN DEEP TROUBLE

Well, I have hung in with The Apprentice series this year but I gotta say, I have no clue why. The time slot is terrible and this year's series has been lifeless and listless. This is absolutely the worst season ever for this show. What a boring season!

Last night the show ran two back-to-back episodes. This was a last-minute decision as NBC had scheduled Conviction in the 10pm slot- but they changed their minds. Instead they moved the Conviction episode to tonight. I think maybe they think they can hook the Dick Wolf fans on this show by playing it on Tuesdays. But that show has been shuffled around so fast that it's a joke. What is up with NBC? They seem to be grasping at straws over there, looking for a hit. They have been banking on Howie Mandel and Deal or No Deal to bail them out every night. Next week they're going to bump The Apprentice from its 9PM time slot. They're going to hop on the cooking bandwagon with Celebrity Cooking Showdown right after Deal or No Deal. What's next, poker with the celebrities, too? Bet on NBC to do something like that! They're already putting on wrestling on Saturday nights, again!

Celebrity Cooking. Deal or No Deal. Vince McMahon. All in all, NBC looks more and more like a low-class, trailer-park network. It's sad. But then again, you take a look at what the other networks are offering these days and it's a similar story elsewhere. The FOX Network still has no excuse for its American Idol show being such a hit. Same with Dancing with the Stars over on ABC. It is definitely not as good as it was in the 1970s or 1980s. Network TV is a mess.

GOLD RUSH CORPORATION: GREATEST COLLECTION OF LOSERS EVER ASSEMBLED

Back to last night. I wrote that there was pure highway robbery on last night's show. Gold Rush designed a great play room for the Boys and Girls Club of America, loaded with drums and musical equipment and a bright setting, and you could tell the kids went ape for it. Really went ape for it. But the judges from Ace Hardware came up with some lame excuse that it wouldn't appeal to people who hated music, and Gold Rush lost again. After listening to the boardroom I could understand what happened: Gold Rush didn't bother to take time to listen to the Ace Hardware reps and what they wanted. It didn't matter what these boys and girls wanted! The kids didn't matter to these judges, which is why you see dropout rates at 30% in the United States and entire neighbourhoods going to heck, and kids turning to crime and drugs. No one caters to the kids and to what they really want.

Anyway, Lenny did a lousy job as leader, tanking in his meeting with the Ace Hardware people. He deserved to be fired, even though I liked the guy and thought he was a straight-shooter. Then under-the-radar Leslie set the price in the next episode, the team lost because the price was too high, and she was fired for that. She fought for her life against the unimpressive, do-nothing Lee in the boardroom but was canned anyway. That's four project managers in a row fired from Gold Rush, four of the most predictable firings ever, and all I will say now is that there's a reason NBC buried this series on Monday nights. They knew this season of boredom was coming. This is too freaking dull, Mr. Trump. What he really ought to have done was fire these reps who were judging the first tasks! They have no idea what kids like, in my view! And then maybe Gold Rush wouldn't have been decimated! (And come to think of it, what the heck did that task have to do with business, anyway?! More like how to design a day-care center!)

Anyway, these project managers are lambs to the slaughter, every week. The project managers are all making the same bonehead missteps in the boardroom that we have seen for five seasons, blaming the wrong people for their defeats, and are being fired for it.

To top it all off, Michael, who was a disasterous, indecisive leader over at Synergy, left his old team in disgrace to join the decimated Gold Rush team to maybe try and redeem himself. And you wonder why they lose?! All I will say is: there is a reason why this team is losing all the time. It's as if the man upstairs has it in for all of them. This team is DOOMED.

This team is also turning against the Donald in the boardroom. I think what you're seeing here is that the players on Gold Rush are a cursed, yet very proud group of troopers who are finally getting fed up with the boardroom humiliations from the Donald on this show. They are sick of taking the blame all the time and getting fingers pointed at them for losses that are really beyond their control. They're all in the Trump doghouse and they know it, and you can tell they are ticked off about the way things are going for them generally. Consequently, they have closed ranks. They just won't trash one another. It's Gold Rush versus the Donald in the boardroom every week, and that is leading to project managers taking the fall all the time. Both Tarek and Charmaine have been repeatedly trashed by the Donald for various indiscretions, and their project managers have taken the fall for sparing these workhorses from the axe. Tarek, a Mensa member, is getting beaten up and ridiculed in the boardroom by the Donald every week. Last week Tarek finally stood up for himself and said the reason why he's made the mistakes he's made is because he's stepped up to the plate and worked hard, so he always winds up in the line of fire when things go wrong. You know, he's got a point. Working hard is no asset on the Trump show.

Noticed that in recent weeks Tarek's been doing his best to lie low. And he's still around. He may be a klutz but Tarek is clearly no dummy.

Because Gold Rush team members are standing up to the usual beratings in the boardroom, and because the losing project managers are refusing to cowtow to the Donald's desire to humiliate good, honest, hard-working people on national television, we have seen some absolutely lifeless firing sessions this season.

Last week was a perfect example. Bryce refused to serve up Tarek and Charmaine because he knew how hard they worked on the task. He was justifiably proud of his team's effort and his own leadership on a task creating an ad jingle. He refused to play the blame game that the Donald and the rest of the board wanted to play, served up two guys who he felt hadn't pulled their weight, was fired for it, and everyone knew he would be fired for it. I suspect his teammates feel the same way Bryce did, that certain people aren't pulling their weight and are getting off scott-free. They are sick and tired of working so hard and not getting rewarded for it, and getting trashed and insulted in the boardroom every week by these uptights.

All in all this season has been the worst ever, even worse than Season 3. At least Season 3 had some memorable train wrecks (ie. both teams blowing the same task), and a few interesting contestants, one of whom quit the show. But this year's show has been a BORE. The tasks have been chimp marketing tasks, and these teams are falling victim to the whims of idiot judges and other fools. They used to be evaluated based on the bottom line, these teams. Now it's all about who's better at kissing people's bottoms. It's too bad.

I feel bad for everyone on Gold Rush. The problem is not that they are a total train wreck of a team. They have actually had some good ideas and have taken some creative risks. The problem simply is that in the Donald's environment this strategy has not worked, they have crashed and burned. I may like this Gold Rush team and the people on it, but they are all doomed. As for the rest, I sure can't say that I'm interested in any of them. Or for that matter, this show. All of my favorites have been fired, the Donald is being too predictable, and the boardrooms and these chimp tasks have been pretty lame to say the least.

JAWS THE SHARK MAKES AN APPEARANCE

Watching this show reminds me of tuning in to the Dallas show of the early 90s, or the last seasons of The Practice or Ally McBeal, or the post-Ted McGinley Happy Days. You don't know why, you can't exactly pinpoint when, but you know that ol' Jaws has eaten the cast. Maybe it was the season-2 train wreck finale. Or the season 4 train wreck finale. Or the entire third season train wreck. Personally I think the show jumped the shark after the season 2 finale, jumped back in season 4, then went off the rails again with the season 4 finale.

The move to Mondays has finished this show off. I think NBC is about to move this show out of 9PM for the rest of the season, just to get it out from under 24 and Two and a Half Men. I think they're going to have to put it at 10PM from now on, because The Apprentice is getting killed. I'll be interested in seeing the ratings for last night's double-header. I'll bet they are garbage, again.

I also think the fact that NBC ran this show back-to-back was a really bad sign. I think they're looking to burn off episodes as quickly as possible to make room for new pilots that could be the next American Idol, that's what I see happening.

This show is in TROUBLE. All I'll say is, in the language of Lenny: Dos Vedania.

(Hope I spelled it right. My Russian skills are terrible.)

UPDATE: Ratings are in. Fourth place at 9PM, and dead last at 10PM among the three networks still running shows at that hour. Numbers are the worst all year for this show. The Apprentice is in trouble, folks.

Monday, April 10, 2006

APPRENTICE DOUBLE HEADER TONIGHT

Just found out there's 2 Apprentice episodes in a row tonight on NBC. Dunno if it's the same deal over on Global. Just want you all to know to make sure to tune in to NBC and not be surprised.

By the way, I think one of these teams got ROBBED tonight on The Apprentice. Expect a big rant from me on the subject.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

SPORTS RADIO NEWS

Have a few items about sports on radio to talk about tonight.

First, it's of course BASEBALL SEASON! So that means there's plenty of baseball to listen to on AM radio. Good news in Canada is that XM Radio has committed to providing Major League Baseball from all over the Major Leagues on satellite radio, that is great news. For those too cheap to shell out for XM, though, there's still plenty of clear-channel action from great radio like WTAM 1100 (home of the Indians), WCBS 880 (home of the Yankees), and WTIC 1080 Hartford ( the clear-channel home of Red Sox games).

Couple of notes: a new addition to the AM baseball radio dial is AM 1500 Washington Post Radio, which is the new home of Washington Nationals baseball. This is great news for fans as they should be able to hear this booming signal right across the eastern United States.

It almost makes up for the bad news that 1120 KMOX LOST the rights to St. Louis Cardinals baseball, to tiny light-bulb-watted AM 550 KTRS. Thankfully I am able to hear 1470 WMBD from Peoria, so I can still hear the Cardinals and their new announcer John Rooney (ex-White Sox), but the signal isn't as good. I don't like the fact that the games aren't on KMOX, and I know the fans have inundated the Cardinals offices with complaints, but I don't think they care.

Finally, WSCR 670 replaces ESPN 1000 as the new home of the world champion White Sox. This is a return to the 670 frequency for the White Sox after about a decade at ESPN, which now is left with the Chicago Bulls games all by themselves. In the old days the station on 670 was called WMAQ.

I keep hearing rumors that 700 WLW Cincinnati could lose the Reds pretty soon and 1020 KDKA Pittsburgh could lose the Pirates. I hope not. In any event I should be able to hear the Pirates anyway, they have a big network. I can hear Pittsburgh Steelers games pretty easily and they aren't even on KDKA, so I'm not too worried about the Pirates. But I hope these baseball teams stay on these big AM stations with the big signals, like 670 WSCR, for example. It's not the same tuning in to games on the network affiliates, you want to hear the actual flagship. Peoria is not St. Louis.

Finally, got word that starting Tuesday 660 WFAN New York will be streaming its audio for the first time. FINALLY, you can hear Imus, Mike and the Mad Dog, Joe Benigno and the rest of them, all over the world regardless of where you live. I suppose it is now safe for me to move to Calgary or Vancouver now, I'll be able to hear WFAN.

That's it for now.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

LIGHT 'EM UP

Got fed up watching sports on TV all the time and decided to go to a movie.

Saw the flick Thank You for Smoking, which had all the elements that I usually like: politics, Hollywood, the media, and of course lobbyists. I liked this movie a lot.

I'll talk about the movie later but thought I'd post a movie review on this flick from James Rocchi at CBS 5 San Francisco. Uh, yes, fellow Westerners, it is indeed THAT James Rocchi, of CHRW fame.

And yes, this was the movie that was supposed to have had that infamous Katie Holmes sex scene in it, but these incompetents lost the reel. Or Tom Cruise had the scene nixed. Or something. Anyway, it's under investigation.

P.S.: For those wondering, I have added Rocchi's weblog and also Rotten Tomatoes and Roger Ebert to the links under H'Wood.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

MEREDITH VIEIRA TO THE TODAY SHOW

CAMPBELL BROWN, NATALIE MORALES MIFFED

It's official. Meredith Vieira is leaving The View to replace Katie Couric at NBC and co-host The Today Show with Matt Lauer. Rumored deal is for five years and worth 10 million cool ones.

In a related development Campbell Brown is quitting NBC in disgust to go to Fox News, and Natalie Morales is quitting to join CNN.

Actually, I'm just kidding. Or maybe I'm getting a jump on the other news organizations in reporting where Campbell Brown might go. She actually got married this week to a Fox News analyst Dan Senor, a noted Republican. Which is interesting because Campbell Brown is supposedly a Democrat from a Democratic political family in Louisiana. Anyway, she and Natalie Morales probably are crying in their beer over being passed over in favor of this goofy The View woman. Life is not fair in television news.

The conservative bloggers are supposed to be outraged now because Vieira marched in some anti-war protest two years ago. Well, there you go. Anyhow, The View needs a new host. Maybe Campbell Brown is interested in that job, or Natalie Morales. Actually, the name I heard mentioned was E.D. Hill of Fox News. She might go to The View, and one of these two babes replaces her at Fox and Friends. Anyway, the agents are having fun. I want to be an agent in TV news!

KATIE GETTING TRASHED BY THE FANS

I notice that a lot of people are blasting Katie's decision to go to the CBS Evening News and saying what a big disaster this is, and polls are showing that people want her to stay in the mornings and that people think she doesn't have the heft to be the anchor of a nightly newscast. People are moaning that they are giving the managing editor's job not to a "real newsperson" but to a "personality", a "star". They are complaining on one website that there were plenty of people at CBS News already who could have done a capable job as anchor. They had John Roberts, for example, but passed over him and he left for CNN. And frankly, Bob Schieffer was doing great as anchor of the CBS Evening News. There was no need to get someone else!

But Bob says he wants to retire. Too bad.

I think the complainers have a point. CBS News had plenty of people to choose from, but they didn't build up their own staff. Ironically, they're starting to do that now, and build up their own in-house "stars". Too bad they didn't do that earlier. They could have saved themselves a lot of cash, the type of cash going straight into Katie Couric's fat wallet.

BELINDA NOT RUNNING FOR LIB LEADERSHIP

Wow, this is a bit of a shock; Belinda Stronach announced today she is not running for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada. Story from CTV.

And in her announcement she trashed the process by which the Liberals choose their leaders. The Liberals are yet again holding a delegated convention with the people voting for leader chosen by local riding associations. From what I gather there can be entire slates of delegates chosen in each riding for one candidate or another, so if you finish second with 20% of the vote in a riding or something like that you can still end up with no delegates at the end of the day. And quite a sizable number of delegate ositions are reserved for "ex-officio" members and other party bigshots: the old boys club! From what I gathered listening to Mike Duffy and the rest of them, a lot of that "old-boys network" is either backing Bob Rae or Michael Ignatieff. The Chretien crowd is backing Rae, the Trudeau and Turner crowd are with Ignatieff, according to Duffy. Scott Brison has the Earnscliffe gang from what I gather, assuming he runs.

With all these delegates tied up Belinda was at a disadvantage from the start and you could tell she was really bitter at what seemed like a lack of support from the party bigshots. When she ran for the Tory leadership she never had these kinds of problems. It was a one-person one-vote process and Belinda could sign up all the members she wanted, plus she had plenty of endorsements from big names in the party like Bill Davis and Mike Harris, and access to the top organizational talent in the country, people like John Laschinger. Plus, there was a preferential ballot which eliminated all the horse-trading on the convention floor. This upcoming Liberal convention promises to be similar to the 2003 PC race, which was the most notorious convention in history because of the horse-trading that went on. That David Orchard deal helped kill that party!

As it stands, this Liberal race is bound to end up in a brokered four-or-five ballot convention. Which is normal for these delegated conventions, by the way. These delegated conventions may be fun to cover but they are a throwback to the machine politics of a bygone era and are basically a disgrace. I prefer the way the Tories pick their leaders these days with a direct vote, it cuts down on all the deal-making nonsense and reduces the power of the political bosses.

Robert Fife was saying on CTV News that the real reasons Belinda isn't running have nothing to do with this high-mindedness about the process: that it all comes down to her troubles speaking French plus her organizational difficulties. That Reg Alcock maybe was not up to the job. Maybe those were factors, but I think Belinda truly feels the deck is stacked against her and is completely ticked off at the party because of the good-old-boys networks and the power they have over the way leaders are selected. She has every right to be mad. I'm disgusted with the way the Liberals operate, too. I happen to think Belinda's complaints about the process have a lot of merit. But that's the way that party operates. Welcome to the Liberals, Belinda!!!

Anyway, one less leadership candidate. Tomorrow, Michael Ignatieff and Stephane Dion join the race. Also stories that the toast of Prince George, British Columbia, Hedy Fry, may run too. (Hee hee hee.)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

GERARD KENNEDY IS RUNNING: LIB RACE IS ON

Well it's been a big past couple of days in Canadian politics. I gotta say, if you're a political junkie life is great.

Parliament's back, Ralph Klein has stepped down as Alberta premier, and now the Liberal leadership contenders are throwing their hats into the ring.

Today, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty held a cabinet shuffle to replace Education Minister Gerard Kennedy, who has quit his post to run federally for the Liberal leadership.

Kennedy ran the Toronto food bank and has Western roots, and is bilingual. He's seen as a rising star in the party but he's also on the left of the party as well. Still, he's seen as someone who could be a contender in the race.

Kennedy joins Don Valley West MP John Godfrey and former Liberal candidate Martha Hall Findlay in the leadership race. Another potential candidate, Michael Ignatieff, is expected to announce on Friday.

Meanwhile, former NDP Ontario premier Bob Rae has officially applied for membership in the Liberal Party, presumably in advance of a leadership run. Story from CBC.

Already he's facing opposition from the likes of David Peterson, as this story indicates. Rae certainly has plenty of baggage from his NDP days. A lot of conservatives out there are salivating over the prospect of Rae leading the Liberals. Then they can run against his disasterous record as Premier.

All in all, I have to say the Liberals have so far attracted an utterly unimpressive group of leadership candidates. I even read a report that David Orchard is thinking of running for the leadership, too, of all people, and all I have to say is he'll fit right in with Belinda and Scott Brison and the rest of them. The Liberals seem hell-bent on replacing the old Progressive Conservatives as the greatest collection of losers ever assembled.

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS

I don't often post about radio news in Canada but this has been a big week for the medium so I thought I'd mention some of what's happened.

First, booming Calgary finally has an all-news radio station. It's called 660 News and is obviously a total ripoff of the other Rogers-owned stations, Toronto's 680 News and Vancouver's News 1130. For a long time this was an oldies station, and its signal just booms everywhere. So it's officially safe to move to Calgary now, they have a news station! Check it out, they're streaming live right now.

Now the bad news: these are sad times at Vancouver's CKNW, with one of premier news/talk operations in the country. Anyway, they canned 12 people in a big newsroom bloodbath. Not good news. Furthermore, their sports department has taken a big hit in recent weeks. Three weeks ago these guys lost the rights to the Vancouver Canucks, to The Team 1040. This is a pretty big move for a team that has associated itself with CKNW from the beginning of its franchise. Actually, this move should be good news for the fans out West. The signal for CKNW wasn't all that hot past the Rocky Mountains. You'll actually stand a chance of hearing a Canucks games now in the province of Saskatchewan, for instance. At least you can hear The Team 1040.

That's it for now.

COURIC TO CBS

Katie announced it on the Today Show today! She's going to the CBS Evening News to replace Bob Schieffer. She will also contribute to 60 Minutes. All the stories about it here.

Wonder if Katie will appear on Letterman.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

REPORTS: KATIE LEAVING NBC, ANNOUNCEMENT TOMORROW

Well, according to several reports including this one at TVNewser, Katie Couric is going to make the big announcement that she's leaving The Today Show at 7:30 AM tomorrow on NBC. Presumably she will later attend a press conference at CBS to make her move to the CBS Evening News official.

Already a lot of people are howling in the press, saying Katie's a mismatch for the CBS Evening News job, that she's better at perky fluff, and so on and so forth. These critics are trashing Katie and saying what a disaster this is. Well, who cares about them. Katie's at the level of the business now where she deserves her shot.

In other news the word is that Meredith Vieira was offered 10 million cool ones for the Today Show chair. She would be a fool not to take the gig for that amount of cash. I'd take the job, just to get away from Star Jones.

Why do I follow these morning show wars? Well, maybe because I did an internship at a major TV network in Canada, doing some time at a famous morning show program. I can tell you this, it's terrible having to get up at 2:30 in the morning to work on any news show. I wasn't alert, I wasn't awake! No amount of coffee could wake me up or make me do a good job.

PEPPER DENNIS

In other TV news about TV news shows, the WB premiered a show about the TV News business tonight, Pepper Dennis, starring Rebecca Romijn. It's set at fictional Chicago TV station WEIE. (I wonder if they know there's a station called WOIO, in Cleveland. And there's a station in Cincinnati called WKRC- an actual station. Change one letter and you got WKRP. But I digress.)

I tuned in and found the show pretty boring, actually. Pretty standard stuff.

At least they seemed to get the on-air stuff right. The stuff about how the reporters act on the air in live situations. But this business of sleeping with your co-workers, I dunno. I figure a lot of TV news types will tune in to see whether this show is accurate about the business or not, then they can trash it on the TVSpy and Medialine boards.

Me, I'll only tune in to check out Rebecca. She is gorgeous! She really could make it as a TV anchorwoman if she tried. Hey, there may be a job open over at The View.

Monday, April 03, 2006

BASICALLY A BUST

I haven't seen Basic Instinct 2 yet but then again, neither have you. Sharon Stone's skinfest finished tenth at the box office, way behind those furry, lovable prehistoric creatures from Ice Age 2. The animals finished first.

This is yet another victory for family movies at the box office. Who knows why Americans spurn the more adult-oriented movies. Maybe the American public simply can't handle sex. More likely, though, they were scared off by the film critics.

Rotten Tomatoes gives Basic Instinct 2 a rating of 6. By contrast, The Pink Panther, that Steve Martin bomb, got something like 20. This is an embarrassingly bad performance, folks, definitely in Showgirls territory.

Roger Ebert's review is up and boy is it ever a good read. More entertaining than the movie, apparently.

KLEIN MUST GO

Today I want to talk about Alberta soon-to-be ex-Premier Ralph Klein.

As you have no doubt heard by now he only received 55% approval at the Alberta PC policy convention, a shockingly bad performance. I know Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams has talked about the ingratitude of these people in the Alberta PC party and all that, and he's right. Ralph Klein has led his province through some really good times. To turn against him is treachery in anyone's book.

Nevertheless, he has to go now. 55% is just a terrible showing, and too many people want the leadership race to start already. Ralph clearly looks like a leader adrift these days. He's gone after Oberg for organizing against him and has even thrown stuff at pages in the legislature! This guy has been a loose cannon on the health care file as well, with his rants about private health care embarrassing the Prime Minister.

He's just an embarrassment. Which is too bad, because for a long time he was a great premier for Alberta. The economy is great, the debt is gone, and life there is good. But it's time to Klein to go. His party slipped back in the last provincial election and the public is turning against him. Clearly it's time for renewal, so that the PCs don't get hurled out of office completely and get replaced by--- whomever.

The usual names like Jim Dinning, Lyle Oberg, Ted Morton etc. have been bandied about but the big news of the weekend was the rumor that Preston Manning might run for the leadership. Manning basically is looking for the party people to beg him to run. It's odd because Manning doesn't really have much of a history with the Alberta PCs- his father, Premier Ernest Manning, was a Social Crediter, and so was he! It would really be bizarre to see Manning in the race, but then again, look at all those ex-PCs running for the Liberal leadership. These are strange times in Canadian politics.

What would be strangest of all would be to see Klein attempt to stay on. His staff loyalists are absolutely pressing him to stay on, according to the National Post. It's easy to see why; they want to save their jobs! The Alberta PCs are in disarray right now; they look like they are in worse shape than the federal Liberals! Klein needs to call a convention now and get it over with, so that the party won't tear itself apart.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

KATIE TO CBS DONE DEAL: REPORTS

TV Week is reporting that Katie Couric is all set to jump to CBS to be anchor of the CBS Evening News and that the announcement could come this week. Read somewhere that the folks at CBS have even booked the theater for the big press conference.

Who knows, I've heard these rumors of imminent announcements before. We'll see. Keep an eye on the news this week. Also read a wild rumor on TVSpy that she is changing her name to the more serious-sounding Katherine Couric.

In other news, Pamela Anderson hosted the bleeping Junos and had to open her mouth and mention baby seals during the awards show. Don't you hate when politics gets in the way of your favorite entertainment shows on TV? Pam needs to quit politics and get back to doing what she does best: eye candy assignments which allow her to be great looking naked.

And the baseball game is in a big rain delay. Figures.

BIG NIGHT

Sports fans are happy this weekend as this is the biggest, bestest sports weekend of the year. Look at tonight:
(1) BASEBALL is back, and
(2) WrestleMania is tonight, too (also in Chicago).

Baseball cannot win. What brutal timing. You'd think baseball would notice that it cuts into the fan base to schedule the season opener in Chicago on the same night as WrestleMania, in the same town!

I'll betcha nobody under the age of 30 cares the baseball season's starting tonight.

The question these days is which sport is the bigger joke. Is it wrestling, with its steroid-pumped athletes?! Wait a minute --- that's baseball. Doesn't matter- neither wrestling nor baseball have any credibility these days.