Friday, June 30, 2006

BIG SHUTTLE LAUNCH

Saturday at about 3:39 EST the Space Shuttle Discovery launches and you can check out the coverage on the various news sites:

www.cnn.com
www.foxnews.com
www.cbsnews.com
www.abcnews.go.com
www.msnbc.com

Apparently the reason why there's a lot of interest is because there hasn't been a launch in a long time, and also because of the various safety issues that have plagued the Shuttle over the past number of years, including the time when that Shuttle blew up on re-entry.

Well, great. Problems start happening with the Shuttle, so only now does the national media show up. These launches usually have gotten humdrum reactions from the news folks over the years, back when things went smoothly all the time. The only other time the media showed any interest in a Shuttle launch was when John Glenn blasted off into outer space; CNN wheeled out Walter Cronkite to help cover that.

I remember visiting Spaceport USA, as they called it, back in the late 80s, and have always been a big fan of the space program so I sure hope this launch goes smoothly. There's a lot of valuable research conducted out there in space that needs to be done. That's one thing I should put on my list of things to do one of these days: see a Shuttle launch live.

STAR JONES REYNOLDS: HER 15 MINUTES OF FAME RUNNING OUT RAPIDLY

Well, the long -awaited boot was finally given by the folks at The View to Star Jones Reynolds this week. And it has turned into a big media frenzy. Star has been all over the talk shows, telling her side of the story and hogging the media. She's all over all these entertainment shows and talk shows. You'd think they'd find something else to cover, like war in Iraq or something like that, but instead the big story this week is this feud.

What happened was: Star surprised everyone at The View by announcing live on the show on Tuesday that she was not returning this fall because she'd been told the show was going a different direction. Then she spilled the beans to People magazine about how her contract wasn't renewed and even said "I feel like I was fired." Babs Walters hit the roof over all of this stuff and reportedly called it a "betrayal." They were planning to allow Star to announce her departure as soon as she got another job, so that they could all say that she got a dignified departure. Anyway, that didn't happen, and so on Wednesday they announced on The View that she was out of there. "And then there were three", Babs said, and then she basically explained to the viewers that ABC had decided to boot Star off the show. Then they told the press that Star couldn't be trusted anymore and so on.

Star Jones Reynolds didn't even have a gig lined up. There were some rumors floating that she was going to go off and do her own syndicated legal talk show about helping women who were in legal trouble or something like that. Anyway, forget it. There was no new gig and no show. She also doesn't get a "farewell show" a la Meredith Vieira, Katie Couric or Charlie Gibson. They had some big tribute planned, but I guess Star wasn't interested. Who can blame her, though, for being bitter about having to lie and make up stories about her own situation.

Anyway, Star was on Larry King last night on CNN and explained her side of the story, and was going on about how she knew since April that her contract wasn't renewed and so on, told Larry she had to cover up the fact that she was being booted, refused to get into a "catfight" with Barbara Walters, and also said she didn't know why anyone would get the impression that she lied about her gastric bypass surgery. She admitted that maybe that lavish wedding of hers was a big mistake. You're darn right it was, lady! That whole wedding was a fiasco. If I have a celebrity wedding some day and get married to somebody famous, you can bet it will be a low-profile affair, not a monstrosity like the one Star Jones Reynolds had.

I just find this whole thing bizarre and very funny. Star says she doesn't want to get into a catfight with the people at The View. Well what else can you call this, there's no other word for it other than a catfight! This is the catfight to end all catfights!!! It's Star versus Babs, not to mention Rosie. It's pretty hilarious, seeing Star on these talk shows milking the publicity and trying to say that she's above the fray and all that. What a laugh for us guys, seeing these silly women fight in public. It makes all women look like fools, what's gone on at The View this week. It's set the feminist movement back years.

I'm not that big a Star Jones fans to begin with, I think that she's one of these folks who you look at and wonder "why the heck is she on TV?!" Nobody likes her, she's an embarrassment and a diva, so why is she on? But you know, good for her for refusing to play the "game" of how she's simply moving on of her own accord. If she was fired, well, why shouldn't she get mad about it and refuse to go along with it? Why not speak the truth, and admit that you're bitter because you got pushed out and replaced by your bitter enemy Rosie O'Donnell?! If something like this happened to me, I'd be mad, too.

But to go on all these talk shows and hog the spotlight all to yourself takes some doing. Earlier this morning she was talking to Al Roker over on Today. And speaking of Larry King, all I have to say is: what the heck has gotten into CNN lately? People are now joking that CNN stands for The Celebrity News Network. Not too long ago Anderson Cooper sat down and interviewed Angelina Jolie, and that was considered a big get. Now, this Star Jones Reynolds business has gotten big play over on CNN. Truly, something has gotten into the coffee over there, giving Star this platform to rant and rave on the air about how she got the boot.

This has been the month of TV people getting the boot in a big way- whether it's Dan Rather getting shown the door over at CBS, or Connie Chung singing her way off the air over on MSNBC. But I got to hand it to Star Jones Reynolds. She has managed to make those departures look like chump change in comparison, with the People magazine interview and this "catfight" with Barbara Walters, and her "loser's tour" of the talk shows this week. If you're going to go out in humiliating fashion, you might as well go out big.

BONNIE BERNSTEIN TRADED FOR SAM RYAN



Well, some sports broadcasting news to report. Found out that Bonnie Bernstein, former football sideline reporter for CBS Sports, has gotten a new job as sideline reporter for baseball and college football on ESPN and ABC. She starts this Sunday night on baseball.

She replaces Sam Ryan who, oddly enough, left ABC/ESPN to join CBS Sports a few weeks ago.







So, who got the better of this "trade", folks?!

Monday, June 26, 2006

BACK LATER

It's summertime, so I think I will give it a rest from blogging for a few days. Maybe I'll be back later in the week, or if some big breaking news happens.

INTERESTING LEGAL STUFF

I keep up with items of interest from the legal world from time to time.

First of all, here's a link to Tom the Temp's blog which posts a Cameron Stracher article written up in the Wall Street Journal. The jist of it is: want to keep your options open? Don't go to law school. That article basically gives a really negative view about the value of a law degree in general and how the degree doesn't open any doors and so on. He talked about how people keep on telling kids that a law degree will keep your options open, when in fact it drives a lot of people into debt.

A lot of people read that article and really disliked it for some reason, even though he's right. I guess a lot of them feel pretty worthless about their law career prospects already so they're not too happy with Stracher telling people law isn't worth it.

Stracher suggests that many of the people who went into law actually want careers in screenwriting or entertainment or TV. I think this article rubbed people the wrong way precisely for this reason, for suggesting that many of the people in law school aren't serious about becoming lawyers. That couldn't be further from the truth. I think most law school graduates intended to be lawyers but were unable to find what they really wanted, or they found the work very tedious. The sad truth is it's very difficult in that field to get ahead. Stracher is very true when he says there's the elite lawyers and everyone else, the serfs, who end up quitting or getting fired.

MERCHANT GETS BOOK THROWN AT HIM

Read in the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix about Saskatchewan lawyer Tony Merchant. Hoo boy, it turns out he misused trust account money in a divorce case, and got suspended for two weeks! He also got reprimanded for sending out a bunch of letters with attached retainer agreements to a bunch of people in Estevan that he was hoping to land as clients in a class action lawsuit against Canadian Pacific Railway for a 2004 derailment; he made it seem as if they wouldn't be hit with costs if they signed on the dotted line. Thirteen Estevan lawyers complained about it, though I'm cynical about their motives. They were probably jealous that Merchant was trying to steal their potential clients. Anyway, that's his fifth and sixth convictions and he's appealing them to the Court of Appeal. But he isn't disbarred.

If I can describe Merchant and his firm this way: you know all those ads on TV out of Buffalo and Rochester for The Barnes Firm? That's that personal-injury law firm in upstate New York that recently had the book thrown at it for various violations, leading to one of the name partners being suspended. But they advertise like mad, everyone knows who they are. Anyway, Merchant Law Group is the Saskatchewan version of The Barnes Firm. Tony is basically an American-style lawyer in a place not used to American-style lawyers. He's apparently filthy rich from all his class-action and divorce-case victories, but all he does is work all the time from what I hear and he's been in trouble with the provincial Bar so many times that it is a joke. It's fair to say Tony has a lot of enemies in the legal profession in Saskatchewan who do not like his style, but then the legal profession there is pretty much a country club anyway. It really is a clique.

I should also point out that Tony Merchant is also, ahem, one of the biggest Liberals in the province of Saskatchewan, so I'm sure all the Blogging Tories will be happy to hear that, they can go ahead and trash him in print. That's that for that.

FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT

Here's a show transcript from C-SPAN, a Q-and-A with correspondent Jennifer Griffin of Fox News who is based in Israel. She actually got her start in journalism in Africa: in South Africa she wrote for the Sowetan newspaper, and then after graduating college from Harvard she went to Somalia and started stringing. Now she's in Israel. She actually went to fair-and-balanced Fox News because NPR wouldn't hire her, even though she did lots of work for them. She talks about the ridicule she's had to endure from these liberals who hate her network, and how she did stuff for PBS at the same time that she did stuff for Fox News. And so on.

I guess I still have the "bug" of wanting to go the foreign correspondence route myself, even though it's so dangerous in certain parts of the world. Anderson Cooper wrote a book about it recently, and I've always been interested in the rest of the world. But in my case, I'd rather avoid the hot spots like Iraq and go to a place where things are a little saner and where I can make some good money. The other day, for example, I applied for a TV job in Russia, and I applied to Hong Kong and a few other places. The truth, though, is that a better plan is to pick the region and simply go there, because so much of the work is freelance and you really need to be there to make contacts and pick up the strings. I should just hop on a place to Africa and just go cover that place. Maybe then I could scoop the competition on celebrity births, and then I could interview Angelina Jolie like these other big-time journalists.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

INTEREST GROUPS GO NUTS OVER THE CBC

You know, every broadcast special-interest group in the country has gone hog wild over the news that The National is going to be bumped out of its regular 10PM time slot in the eastern time zone for eight or nine times to make room for The One: Making a Music Star on Tuesday nights during the summer. As I predicted right here at this blog, everyone is howling. The Friends of Canadian Broadcasting has trashed the CBC over this; so did Knowlton Nash the other day in a prepared statement. Peter Desbarats of the Western J-school is calling this a "deathly" move, but what do you expect him to say, he's a hard-news guy so he has to say this. All the hard-news people are screaming mad.

The Canadian Senate is up at arms, calling for the CBC to get out of all entertainment and sports programming (thanks a lot, eh? They're really thinking about us Don Cherry fans these days on Parliament Hill.) And everyone is calling for the advertising on CBC TV to be pulled.

I know I'm in the minority when I say the CBC is doing the right thing by scheduling this show. But I'm RIGHT and I know I'm right, and everybody else is WRONG. Or at least, it's the usual self-appointed busybodies and political loudmouths who are all wrong, because I think the silent majority is with me on this one. Let's face facts:

(1) The CBC's current problems are entirely due to the lack of viewers. They are getting creamed every night by CTV. Nobody is watching, not even the highbrow public-affairs crowd.

(2) People would rather watch Canadian-made shows on CTV than boring biopics and politically-focused shows on the CBC. They want to see populist entertainment like reality shows, dramas and situation comedies, shows that have nothing to do with politics or even Canada.

(3) By scheduling The One: Making a Music Star, the CBC finally is attempting to put populist hit shows on the air that will give the CBC a fighting chance against Canadian Idol; moreover, they are hoping to launch a Canadian tie-in-show that will promote Canadian talent in this country.

(4) Hit shows mean plenty of $$$$$for the CBC to fund the other quality programming and documentaries across the network, and should put an end to their financial problems.

You know, the problem is not with the CBC or its current management. The problem is with all these political people and interest groups, all trying to dictate to the CBC how it should be run and how much funding it ought to get! This is why the CBC has managed to alienate all the viewers over the years: because it's had to cater to these interest groups who don't watch TV! Everyone says the CBC is too elitist and out of touch, or too irrelevant! But now that the CBC is making an attempt to reach out to the masses and be relevant again, people complain about it! The CBC ought to be CONGRATULATED for finally seeing the light and moving in a populist direction. If we're going to have a state broadcaster spending taxpayers' money on programming, it better be programming people will want to see, not a bunch of junk about dead Canadian politicians that only a few champagne-drinking people in downtown Toronto are interested in. ( Example: Prairie Giant: The Tommy Douglas Story--- now, that was entertainment. They couldn't even get their facts straight in that biopic!) My advice to these interest groups is LAY OFF THE CBC.

I link you to this blog post by Denis McGrath who basically is saying the same thing I've been saying for days. If it was up to the "Friends of Canadian Broadcasting" and these other highbrows, CBC Television would be turned into something even worse than what it is now, something totally unwatchable. With "friends" like these, who needs enemies?!

Bill Brioux has gone on a rant, too, about this which I agree with. Or rather, he agrees with me, because I said much the same thing in my own rant days ago. This is no national crisis, folks. In fact, it's laughable to hear people try and emasculate and strangle the CBC and dictate its programming. Given their way, the interest groups would toss out every hit show the CBC still has and get rid of all of its advertising, and throw everyone out of work. They'd get rid of Hockey Night in Canada, these people! These interest groups and self-appointed critics are ruining the CBC.

Glad to see I'm not alone on this issue. That's my rant for the day, now I'm going to sit back and watch a CFL game. On CBC.

SUMMER TV HAS GONE TO HELL

Well, well, well. It turns out that the Wednesday premiere of America's Got Talent on NBC was a hit. A huge hit, in fact. 12 million viewers, more than even the NBA Finals.

I should never underestimate the ability of Regis Philbin to save a television network. Or overestimate the ability of the American public to make a hit out of the worst programming imaginable. These are the same viewers that made hits out of cheap junk like Dancing with the Stars. Not to mention American Idol, we should never forget that.

You know, I can't blame these network television executives for putting on cheap dreck all the time if this is how the American viewers at home, in boring Middle America, are going to react. Look at some of the other shows on the air right now, all these reality shows. NBC is airing Treasure Hunters, which basically looks to me like a ripoff of The Amazing Race with these "teams" of people, like Geniuses, Ex-CIA, Miss USA and so on. There's no need for this show, but we're seeing it anyway, because people made a hit out of The Amazing Race.

ABC, on the other hand, has no excuse for putting on a piece of junk called How to Get the Guy. It features these four uptight women who claim to have had problems getting guys. Which is remarkable because they look like they should have no problems at all, these four. You know what, their problem is they have set their standards way too high. This show ought to be renamed How to Get the Hunk, because that's what they want. I also notice the show is set in San Francisco. Well, that explains it all right there, folks. If you four babes really want to get the guy, here's a suggestion for all of you: move out of San Francisco! Move to Houston or Chicago or somewhere like that. Why not San Jose, I'm sure there's a few lonely computer geeks there. But then you probably don't want a computer geek, either. What a joke.

Why this cheap show is on ABC beats me. It looks like a cable show that ought to run on TLC or somewhere like that. Anyway, this show is not for me, I'd rather see a show called How to Get the Girl.

Over on FOX, they are at it again with Hell's Kitchen, with chef Gordon Ramsay once again screaming at underlings at the top of his lungs all the time. Really, this guy has a total anger management problem. Ramsay is going to die of a massive stroke at a very early age from all of his yelling. Some of these folks should sue over the hostile work environment they have to endure, working for this lunatic. This guy is outright embarrassing. Yet enough people are watching to keep this second-rate Simon Cowell wannabe on TV.

Then you have the American Idol dance ripoff show So You Think You Can Dance back again. They got rid of host Lauren Sanchez and brought in this Brit named Cat Deeley. To which I go, WHY?! At least no one is getting yelled at by angry chefs on this show.

Big Brother is back with an all-star edition, featuring all these losers who got voted out of the house before. This time, though, America gets to vote. Again, nobody seems to like this show, there's no great clamor for this series to be on TV. But enough people watch to keep this boring piece of junk on the air. I guess Julie Chen needs the work.

You have Fear Factor back again (one of the worst shows of all time), and you have Janice Dickinson, who blighted America's Next Top Model, back with some new show called the Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency which looks like a piece of junk, too. And then there's The One, coming soon, which looks like a total ripoff of American Idol and these shows which show people living together all the time. I'll tell you, these shows all make Game Show Marathon and its host Ricki Lake look good by comparison.

This makes me feel really sad that the NHL Stanley Cup Finals are over, and the NBA Finals, too. At least you had something to watch on TV that was semi-decent! Maybe this is the reason why major league baseball is still in business: because people have no choice but to watch baseball in the summer months, because there's nothing to watch on TV! Now, I know this is the junk programming season and all that, and that the best thing on TV right now is reruns of CSI. But can't they find something watchable to put on, at least? And can't the viewers at home, who say they hate seeing this dreck on the air, get up their courage to turn off the set when they see David Hasselhoff on their TV screens?! I mean, sure, some people will switch over to cable to watch new episodes of The Closer on TNT or Entourage on HBO. But it's not enough to get the networks' attention, not when you have plenty of people tuning in these cheap reality shows like Hell's Kitchen every week. Why can't the viewing public send these networks a message?! These networks are not just tapped out; they are embarrassing themselves with what they are putting on right now. But what else are they going to do? The people have spoken.

12 million viewers for America's Got Talent. Unbelievable. You know what's next for Canada, folks, we're gonna get a Canadian version of this piece of junk next, hosted by Rick Mercer. God help us all.

Friday, June 23, 2006

AMERICA'S GOT NO TALENT

One of these days, a TV show will come along that will stay on the air long enough to knock The Jerry Springer Show off its perch as the Worst Show on Television. Unfortunately, the bad shows keep getting cancelled too quickly, so they never last long enough to challenge Jerry's title. Maury and Connie got pulled by MSNBC, and after Connie Chung's hideous strapless singing performance of "Thanks for the Memories", all I will say is that it's too bad this show didn't stay on the air longer; it might have given Jerry a real run for his money.

But there's a new contender on the air. Tonight, I saw America's Got Talent on NBC. All I have to say about this show is: Connie Chung would fit right in.

The talent on the show I watched featured some old woman who sang "God Bless America" (not too well, either), a juggling act, ventriloquism, a bad impressionist act, a magic act where some white dude turned into a black guy, a couple of "women" singing (at least one of them was a woman) while wearing huge wigs, and on and on and on.

I'm sitting at home wondering where they got these people, the nut house? What a freak show this is. These folks looked like they were attempting to do novelty acts for The Ed Sullivan Show. The difference here is that there's no way Ed would have ever allowed any of these people on his stage, sharing it with the Beatles or even Wayne and Shuster for that matter. At least Ed's novelty acts were good. Not these folks.

America's Got Talent has a fighting chance to be the worst show in TV history. In fact, the show ripped off the Are You Hot? judges by having them buzz these acts right off the stage. That's another infamous show, getting ripped off. There were three judges who were able to hit their buzzers to give the "X" to the acts they hated. And they were handing "Xs" out a lot. Three "Xs" and you're out, just like on Family Feud.

My thought was, you know, they needed to make a few changes. What they needed to do was give David Hasselhoff a mallet so he could swing at a gong nearby. And Regis Philbin had to go, too, and be replaced with a more appropriate host. Chuck Barris.

At least The Gong Show didn't take itself seriously during its run, the whole point of it was to be the anti-talent show! Everyone knew the entire show was garbage and that the talent was no good, it was meant to be a big joke! At least it was over after a half hour! But with America's Got Talent, we're stuck watching these fools attempt to perform for a full hour. And they are actually taking themselves seriously at this show, this isn't supposed to be a joke talent contest with some two-dollar prize at the end of it. One of these fools is going to walk away with a million dollars and be the next superstar of America!

Why doesn't NBC simply gong all these idiots on America's Got Talent, and save some bank the agony of handing out a check for a million dollars?! The only reason this show is on the air is because Simon Cowell is behind it and Regis Philbin is on it. This had to be why NBC greenlighted this "sure-fire" ratings hit. But Simon has had only one hit show in the United States, American Idol. Who can forget Cupid, that lousy Cowell-produced dating show on CBS that was loaded with freaks. It sank like a rock. But America's Got Talent is worse; these contestants are a piece of work, ladies and gentlemen.

As for Regis Philbin, he was recruited to host this train wreck because they say he's "just the guy" to "save NBC". After all, he hosted Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, so he's "the guy who saved ABC". He can't even save this freaking show! In fact, he's hardly ever there, it's usually these three judges yapping all the time. With America's Got Talent, Regis' career has hit rock bottom. What Regis needs to save is not NBC, but his own career.

David Hasselhoff ought to do the same; go back to Germany or something, or do another Baywatch sequel. Really, the only thing missing is Connie Chung. America's Got Talent, all right. Too bad none of it is on this show.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

TV GUIDE JUMPS THE SHARK


A day or so ago I noticed the trades reported that the folks over at TV Guide have purchased the website Jump the Shark, which is all about those moments when TV shows go downhill. People are now joking that TV Guide has officially "jumped the shark" with this purchase. Fans of the website, though, are petrified that THIS move means that Jump the Shark will, inevitably, Jump the Shark. After all, TV Guide is big and corporate and more likely to wreck a good thing. Heck, we've seen plenty of websites get wrecked over the years after getting bought out by various companies.

Anyway, we'll see. TV Guide ought to keep this web site the way it is, it's great.

From what I gather, the term "Jump the Shark" was coined in reaction to a certain Happy Days episode in which Fonzie jumped over a shark while waterskiing. That moment signalled the total downfall of that show, from all accounts, because that episode was simply ridiculous. I remember seeing that show; man, that was bad. But lots of fans at the Jump the Shark website insist that Happy Days "jumped" long before that particular episode. In fact the level of vitriol over that whole series is HUGE over there. Maybe the actual jumping of the shark was not a "jump-the-shark" moment in the sense that the series went downhill afterwards. Rather, it was the moment this show hit rock bottom.

Fans say Happy Days started out as a truly great series about life in the 1950s, what with "Rock Around the Clock" as the theme song and the show originally filmed without a live studio audience. That was in the days when Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard) was the main character of the show and Fonzie (Henry Winkler) was in a supporting role. Then the network execs at ABC decided to play up the Fonz, and he became a sensation and took over the entire show. The series started being filmed before a live studio audience, and at that point people said it all started to go downhill. The Fonz became a mainstream guy, and the dynamic of the show totally changed as the studio audiences went wild whenever he'd walk in and go "Aaaayyyy!!!".

That was just the start of the decline. Lots of shark-jumping moments come to mind: the episodes with Pinky Tuscadero, the burning of Arnold's, the arrival of Mork (Robin Williams) from outer space no less, the annoying Scott Baio as Chachi, any number of them. In the early episodes Richie had a brother, Chuck, and he mysteriously disappeared and was forgotten. Bizarre.

People like to say that Ted McGinley's appearance on any show is usually a sure sign of doom, a shark-jump moment all by itself. For me, Happy Days really went downhill after McGinley showed up; him and Cathy Silvers. It just sucked with them there. So for me, that's my shark-jumping moment, because up until then I could stand the show and thought it was still funny.

Then Ron Howard and Donny Most left, and they should have just finished off this series right then and there because this show was DONE. But they didn't. It just went on and on and on, long after Fonzie jumped over that stupid shark. They set a bunch of episodes in the boring 1960s and Mrs. C. had her new hairdo by then, which was hilarious. By the time this series was put out of its misery it was totally unwatchable. On the final episode, in fact, Howard Cunningham forgot to mention Chuck! He said he had two great kids, when in fact he had three! I guess Chuck was disowned by the family. Anyway, Happy Days is the ultimate Jump the Shark show.

Others may have their opinions about which moments constitute shark-jumping turning points for various series. Since TV Guide has bought the place, I'll take this opportunity to highlight what I think were the great "jump the shark" moments in TV history:

I Love Lucy: The Ricardos move to Connecticut.
The Flintstones: The Great Gazoo showed up.
Bewitched: Jumped when Dick York was replaced by Dick Sargent.
The Tonight Show: Night One of the Jay Leno regime.
The CBS Evening News: Day One of the Dan Rather regime. Hey, what happened to him?
Laverne and Shirley: they move to Hollywood.
Get Smart: 86 and 99 get married.
I Dream of Jeannie: Master and Jeannie get married.
Three's Company: Suzanne Somers walks.
Charlie's Angels: Farrah walks.
The Dukes of Hazzard: When the Dukes walked and got replaced by replacement Dukes, and then the original Dukes came back. Weird. Actually, though, that show was never good to begin with.
Dallas: Pam dreams up an entire season.
Dynasty: The time when that gang of assassins mowed down all the Carringtons, and all the usual people lived. Didn't care for the show after that moment.
Cheers: Diane goes.
Baywatch: Pam Anderson goes.
Law and Order: Jerry Orbach goes.
Nightline: Ted Koppel goes.
Monday Night Football: When Cosell left.
World News Tonight: Peter Jennings dies.
The West Wing: Aaron Sorkin walks.
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire: The moment ABC went for overkill.
Survivor: All-star edition, and they give a Most Popular Survivor prize to Rupert.
The Apprentice: The overlong, boring Season 2 finale.

I could go on and on but I think maybe this column, somewhere, has jumped the shark.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

THE ONE: ON CBC ( CBC?! )

I notice that The One: Making a Music Star, that new reality show from ABC that got its start in Europe, has been picked up in Canada by the CBC. Not CTV, not Global, not Citytv. The Mother Corporation, the CBC. What's more, in true Canadian Idol fashion it will get a Canadian spin-off version entitled The Canadian One.

This is exactly what the CBC has to do. This is absolutely, completely and exactly what the CBC has to do to get people to tune in again to that network in this country. They are going populist in a big way with this show, and with their whole lineup from what I hear, and that's exactly the direction they have to go in the future. They've gotten nowhere recently with their mini-series and with their bio-pics of former politicians like Tommy Douglas; instead, they're getting beat every night by Ben Mulroney. People have been hand-wringing about the relevance of the CBC and the future of the CBC, and all that, for as long as I can remember. I can tell you this: if you put on a bunch of irrelevant highbrow programs all the time that nobody will watch, that's a good way to make yourself irrelevant. Because NO ONE WILL TUNE IN. You need to go for the big audiences, it's a matter of survival!

Right now, it's CTV which has the lock on the most popular Canadian programming, be it Canadian Idol, or Corner Gas, or whatever. CTV's Canadian shows are killing CBC's Canadian ones, and keep in mind, the CBC's lineup is loaded with Canadian-made shows. When the very few Canadian-based shows on the private networks are beating every show on the CBC, that calls for dramatic changes.

Moreover, people have been grilling the CBC for a while now for not having its own Canadian Idol, and for passing up Corner Gas. The excuse before was that the CBC didn't do "reality shows" or this sort of fare. But there's been big management changes over there and Richard Stursberg and the gang seem intent on revitalizing the prime-time lineup. They're planning less movies and less two-part miniseries, and more reality shows and other populist fare. Maybe they weren't interested in showing this sort of programming before. They sure are now. Their ratings books have been terrible and they had to get rid of lots of shows in a big bloodbath. That changed some minds over there in a hurry.

You can bet this direction is controversial. Already the word is that the two-hour premiere of The One is going to bump The National, so you can bet The National's fans are going to be howling. Big deal, this is the summer and they'll just be bumping Diana Swain or some fill-in for anchor Peter Mansbridge, and The Magazine segment will be full of repeats. I'm sure the fans can wait an hour, like they did during the entire NHL playoffs.

And there will be people howling that the CBC should not be wasting taxpayer's money on programming that the other private networks would put on. This decision to produce a Canadian version of The One reeks of Citytv's decision to produce a Canadian version of America's Next Top Model. And of course, we know about CTV and Canadian Idol. And Global had that Rock Star: INXS show which had a lot of Canadian content on that production, including a Canadian winner. People are going to say that the CBC is ripping off what everyone else in Canada is doing, and that the CBC needs to be different and needs to go high-brow and provide programming for the rest of the masses who don't watch TV. Plus you have the people who want the CBC privatized completely, who will also say that taxpayers money is being wasted on a show that ought to be on Global or CTV--- for free. Maybe so. On the other hand, I don't think the CBC should waste our taxpayer's money on programs nobody will tune into, either. And don't count on the CBC ever being privatized. If we're going to have a CBC spending our taxpayer's money, they might as well spend it on stuff we will watch!! So they might as well try a new show like The One and see what comes of it.

I think it is a silly argument for people to say that the CBC should turn itself into some sort of PBS-type channel that runs documentaries and highbrow programming all the time. There is no need for the CBC to do that. Besides, look where that strategy got PBS, they're fighting for their lives right now against these cable channels. What the CBC needs to do is live up to their mandate as the "Canadian channel" that will showcase the best Canadian productions, whether it's drama or comedy or whatever. There is a need for a channel like that in this country that will showcase Canadian shows for a mass audience. But that hasn't been what the CBC has done lately. Instead, the CBC has been showcasing Canadian shows for a bunch of elites, academics, and political people. Not the way to build a mass audience.

The most successful Canadian shows on the CBC over the years have been the ones that connected with the masses. Whether it's been Hockey Night in Canada, or Kids in the Hall or SCTV or The Red Green Show, or Wayne and Shuster or the Beachcombers or King of Kensington or Don Messer's Jubilee, the shows that were populist were ALWAYS the biggest hits on the network. These were the shows that paid David Suzuki's salary over the years, so he could do his high-brow Nature of Things show! Let's face it, they need to get back to what they were doing in the 1970s by putting on populist, hit shows, albeit with its emphasis on more Canadian content. I want the CBC that I grew up watching back again.

Granted, they are a little late to the bandwagon by programming The One, and frankly, a lot of people are getting burned out by a lot of these reality TV shows. This does look like a bit of an American Idol copy if you ask me. But better late than never, I say, and at least this is a start. Even if this particular show isn't a big hit, the CBC is at least back in the game of trying to put on some bona-fide popular shows. They also are putting on Hockey: A People's History and if history is any indication that show will be a huge hit for the CBC, too. Populism is the way to go. If the CBC works at it, they'll eventually find a way to create that one major hit series that will pay everyone's salaries and end their financial problems. Then they can go hire more journalists and keep the serious-minded people happy by investing in documentaries and other sorts of ambitious productions. The BBC and RAI and these other public networks around the world put on populist shows all the time that people will watch; so should the CBC. And now, they will.

This is good news for the CBC, not yet another bad-news story that these usual CBC whiners would have you believe.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

CANADA'S GAME! SURE.

If you had read the papers you would have thought the entire country was on the edge of its seats, cheering madly for the Edmonton Oilers last night in the Stanley Cup finals. Me, though, I can't stand the Oilers. I've hated the Oilers since the Gretzky days. So I was very happy to see Carolina hoist the Stanley Cup, and to see the Conn Smythe go to a fellow Saskatonian (Cam Ward).

I'm also really happy that Edmonton got spared a massive riot, so they didn't have to call in the Army to round up rioters off the streets. But that was the only place in Canada that cared, really. True, the hockey was great, but to say the entire country was on the edge of their seats cheering for Edmonton was a load of bull. Personally, I had real trouble getting excited about the finals, all because of the freaking weather. It's too hot here for hockey! Hockey in June is total madness, and to be honest with you this wasn't the most compelling Stanley Cup matchup in the world. It's great they won the Cup, but really, who cares about Raleigh.

I heard that ratings dropped 19% IN CANADA from the Cup finals of 2004. I wasn't even watching CBC coverage most of the time. Instead, I went on the porch and tuned my tiny sports radio to the signal from NBC in Buffalo every chance I got, because I just couldn't stand the jingoistic CBC pro-Edmonton coverage. I got fed up seeing them cut to the coverage of these drunk Oiler fans, sitting in bars in Edmonton cheering and then going out onto Whyte Avenue to riot and turn over cars. Don Cherry was cheering loudly for Edmonton during Coach's Corner. I was also sick of seeing Scott Oake going around in the post-game show asking these Hurricanes how they could have possibly won the Stanley Cup after mailing it in with their "pathetic" Game Six performance. Maybe they won because they were at HOME in front of their FANS, man! And did anyone bother to ask the Oiler players how they could have possibly turned it around after their pathetic efforts in Game One and Two, when they totally handed games to the Canes?! Never mind. Bottom line is that the Stanley Cup Finals coverage on CBC was a parody of itself. I know they like to promote the "mythology" of hockey being Canada's game and part of our culture and all that, but the jingoism was just through the roof, no objectivity whatever with this series.

I liked NBC's coverage, but absolutely no one watched them. Their ratings for the Stanley Cup were so bad that sports-talk hosts were making jokes about it. I heard some ESPN guys on the radio wondering if anyone was going to tune in to Game 7. It was embarrassing.

Maybe the fans in Edmonton were riveted, but as I say, people in Toronto don't seem to care, and weather is a big factor. The World Cup of Soccer is on and there's much more interest in that in this town. Maybe it's because Toronto is much more international and cosmopolitan. But I truly get the impression that hockey is becoming a sport of older white guys from the rural areas, and less of a sport for younger, urban types.

I give you this example. I was at the MuchMusic Video Awards and checked out the crowd who were there. Quite a few were wearing sports jerseys and you'll be surprised what kind they were wearing. There was only one single, solitary person there at the Video Awards who wore a hockey jersey, for the Edmonton Oilers. On the other hand, so many people were wearing soccer jerseys that it was a joke. You would have thought we were living in some soccer-mad country like Germany or Italy, there were so many.

For you international viewers of THE CAIRNS BLOG, keep in mind that soccer traditionally has never been as popular as the Big 4 North American sports. But having said that, Toronto is getting an MLS franchise next year and a soccer stadium, and fans here certainly follow the international leagues and are definitely interested in the World Cup. The World Cup frequently dominates the sportscasts here and the TV coverage has been extensive from Rogers Sportsnet, TSN, and OMNI TV.

At the MMVAs I saw people wearing stuff for Brazil, Portugal, Germany, Italy, France, you name it. And so many watering holes have signs up which say "Watch Soccer Here" that it's a joke.

Maybe the rest of the country still cares about hockey and packs the bars for those silly games, but at least in Toronto, and with a young crowd at that, soccer is taking over. Just confirms to me that Toronto is in a lot of ways less of a die-hard hockey town than everyone thinks it is.

I think the arrival of the MLS next year is going to be a turning point in this town. The MLS has credibility with people, so I think that franchise is going to do very well with fans here and be a big success. I also know a lot of people from politics who are big soccer fans who never miss a game. So I think soccer is moving up with Canadians, especially with young fans. And of course there are plenty of hoops fans in Canada, and auto racing fans who want to see NASCAR in Montreal next year.

Anyway, just want to make the point that there are other sports, there are Canadians who have other interests. Hockey doesn't rule everyone's lives here; not everyone is crying in their Molson's, or Labatt's or whatever they're supposed to be drinking these days.

Monday, June 19, 2006

THE MOVIES ARE GETTING ROASTED BY THE CRITICS

I went to see The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift on the weekend to beat the heat, and while I liked the scenes from Japan and some of the action sequences, the truth is I was bored by this movie most of the time and would only recommend it to the die-hards who love this series, and maybe the die-hard Japan freaks, too. Me, I've seen all this before.

Which brings me to my next point: there seem to be a lot of thumbs-down type movies playing at the local theaters these days. I don't understand what's happened with Hollywood. On the one hand, these movies they are putting out are pretty much garbage. But on the other hand, the box office has been good, so maybe the people out there LIKE garbage. Heck, look at Mission: Impossible III. The critics thought that movie was GOOD but the masses decided to run like heck from Tom Cruise. But they showed up in droves to see these other movies like The Da Vinci Code. I don't get it.

Take a look at the general critical reaction to the big movies rolled out this summer:

RV: Garbage.
Mission: Impossible III: Great reviews, but a split vote from Ebert and Roeper. Box office was garbage.
Poseidon: Garbage.
The Da Vinci Code: Laughed right out of the Cannes Film Festival but got two thumbs up from Ebert and Roeper. A big, freaking worldwide hit.
Over the Hedge: Great reviews, decent box office.
X-Men: The Last Stand: So-so reviews but great box office, beat out Da Vinci Code one week.
The Break-Up: Another movie that got killed by the critics. The romantic comedy that was neither.
Nacho Libre: Trashed by the critics. A Jack Black movie that wasn't funny.
Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift: Another mediocre so-so movie.
The Lake House: "Two thumbs up" but most other critics thought this Keanu Reaves/Sandra Bullock re-pairing lacked the sparks.
Cars: Last but not least, the Pixar flick gets an enthusiastic response from the critics and especially from the gearheads.

So let's see, of this bunch that's three movies that are certifiably good, maybe two or three that are so-so at best, and the rest are out-and-out turkeys. The critics are roasting these guys, but even so, most of these flicks have done pretty decent business.

In fact, the Toronto film critics have been in a particularly uptight, foul mood. They have been going around trashing every single one of these movies, it seems, even the good ones. But heck, this isn't new. The guys who do reviews for the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star really ought to retire from the movie review business, they are no help at all to people looking for good, populist movies to go see. I read the reviews in the Star and they were even trashing Cars. YES, THEY EVEN TRASHED CARS. Really, it seems like these guys in Toronto hate going to the movies. They hate every movie out there, even ones people like.

It's one thing to like every movie you see and write positive write-ups in order to get your name on all of these movie posters all the time (see this article about it), but come on! If you're a movie critic, at least say yes to a couple of these flicks! At least enjoy yourself at the movies occasionally. Eat some popcorn or something. I know the critics in this town prefer high art to populist fare but this is really getting ridiculous.

Me, I liked Cars and Over the Hedge a lot, thought they were witty with some memorable characters. The Break-Up was a daring idea- the anti-romantic-comedy- weighed down by too many difficult and embarrassing moments. As for the rest, I was bored by Tokyo Drift and found Mission: Impossible III to be a borderline, so-so movie with a ridiculous plot. Though, admittedly, it turned out to be a much better movie than most of the junk out there today. So yes, I can be tough, too, but at least I liked SOME of these movies.

Bottom line is that the critics have been rough and tough for a reason. There's not much out there that's good, folks, unless you want to make a trip downtown to the local art house to see some highbrow documentary starring Al Gore or something like that. Otherwise you are plain out of luck.

What else is out there for us normal people from the suburbs? Next week, it's supposed to be Click, with Adam Sandler, which I am interested in seeing. I notice it's being promoted like crazy all over town here, it's getting a big promotional push. There's a huge apartment building in town which has a huge freaking sign for Click on it, right next to the main freeway. I'm also looking forward to seeing what Superman Returns is all about, I hear it's supposed to be generating a lot of buzz. There's a movie with Owen Wilson in it called You, Me and Dupree which looks like it'll be funny. Then Luke Wilson and Uma Thurman are in My Super Ex-Girlfriend which looks interesting. I also like the trailers for Miami Vice, that seems like my kind of movie, plenty of action. And much later is Casino Royale. 007.

Hope these are good.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

MUCHMUSIC VIDEO AWARDS WERE TONIGHT

I actually went down to check out the MuchMusic Video Awards which took place outside the MuchMusic/Citytv studios at the corner of Queen and John Streets in Toronto. It aired nationally tonight at 9PM on MuchMusic.

Obviously it was quite the mob scene down there. There were people getting cited for climbing up to the rooftops of buildings to watch the celebrities, among other things, and people were packed together on the street trying to get a good view of these stars coming in. Plenty of celebs showed up, including Tricia Helfer and Jay Manuel from Canada's Next Top Model, Amanda Bynes, Elisha Cuthbert, Nick Lachey, Nelly Furtado, and last but definitely not least, Paris Hilton.

My impressions:

(1) What the heck is Paris Hilton's talent, exactly?! It used to be that people became famous celebrities because they were movie stars, or were rock stars or performers or something like that. Something where they actually had to work at their craft to earn the title of "celebrity." But Paris Hilton hasn't done anything other than be a media hog. And the media loves her, they eat her up. Plus, she got the biggest cheer of the night from the people there. There are serious actors out there who are able to walk the streets unrecognized, yet this dame gets all the attention.

Really, tell me what she's done?! There was that notorious sex tape, but she's not the only one to do something like that. And she's not the only one to appear on a bad reality show, playing herself. She can't even claim any real acting credits because she wasn't "acting" in her show, she was just being her silly self, no different from Donald Trump and Tyra Banks and these other people. At least Nick Lachey can claim his celebrity through some kind of talent as a singer. Same with Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears and the rest of them. But it really is a mystery why Paris is so big. She truly is the non-celebrity celebrity, a celebrity for no reason.

She's not the only one: Carmen Electra surely falls into this category. Think of it. What has she done?! I guess she claims to be a singer, and she appears in movies and TV shows, but all she seems to do is be a professional babe. That's what she is, a professional babe!! At least Pam Anderson has some real acting credits; same for Jenny McCarthy. Of course, Nicole Richie falls in the exact same category as Paris Hilton. She's another celebrity who's done absolutely nothing, other than be a rich friend (or former friend, now, I guess) of Paris Hilton. Anna Nicole Smith is another really good example; so, in recent days, is Heather Mills McCartney. They all went to the same Paris Hilton School of Media Whoredom. They just can't stay off Entertainment Tonight or Access Hollywood.

Anyway, I simply find it odd. Paris now claims to have recorded a single which is coming out; not that she really needs the money or any of that. Maybe it will be a hit and then she can rightfully claim to be a real celebrity, or something.

(2) The performances were pretty good from Lachey and Nelly Furtado, and from the assortment of people they had on the big stage there. It highlighted the vast difference between the wannabes who perform on American Idol and the real talent on this show. Even the worst singers on the stage tonight were better than all these Idol candidates put together. Mind you, they had some good material to work with. It's all about the music, and it really helps when the tunes you are singing aren't second-rate tunes designed for Celine Dion or someone like that. Well, what else can I call these boring Idol songs?! Anyway, that's my comment on that.

(3) The crowd--- mostly a young crowd, as you would expect--- was sweltering under a heat alert for the city of Toronto and had to get sprayed down with water from time to time. Speaking of hot, whatever Nelly Furtado's doing with her big image change is working bigtime. She's sexy as hell.

(4) Who won? Who cares. People cared more about Tori Spelling dissing Mary Jo Eustace for writing a tell-all book! Check out this Toronto Sun article about the MMVAs which tells you all you need to know about all that happened down there. Needless to say, I didn't care who won, I was just there to gawk. And guess who they've plastered on their front page.

You guessed it, Paris Hilton.

Friday, June 16, 2006

ALANA DE LA GARZA JOINS L&O CAST


Well, it's official, Dick Wolf is trying to babe it up over at Law and Order.

Read on Cynthia Turner's Cynopsis that Alana De La Garza has been named the new A.D.A. on the show. She replaces Annie Parisse, whose character was of course killed off in very gory fashion. Before that, the A.D.A. role has been filled by a revolving door of actresses including Elisabeth Rohm, Angie Harmon, Carey Lowell, and Jill Hennessy. (The original A.D.A. was played by the only male in the A.D.A. role, Richard Brooks.) Before joining this show, Alana was on CSI: Miami, where she played Marisol. And oh yeah, she had a steamy spread in MAXIM. So, yes, she's hot.

This means that Milena Govich will definitely be playing one of the cops on the show, and won't be reprising her A.D.A. character from Conviction. That's another hottie with a big role.

Overall, I can see why they decided to go with more hot-looking females. The CSI series is loaded with them, and look at their ratings! Even in reruns that show is through the roof! The great ratings that CSI keeps getting drives the Law and Order folks completely nuts, guaranteed. They hate that show over there, from what I read. Among other things, CSI:NY was the show that drove Law and Order to Friday nights. My theory is they decided they had to add more women to the cast, just to keep up with CSI. It's no accident that they added someone who used to be on CSI: Miami to the cast, they want their audience.

But I worry a little bit about this news. It's one thing to have one looker on the show, but TWO?! My fear is that they're going to sex this show up and hand it over to the hot babes in a final, last-gasp attempt at ratings. Heck, they already had Milena kiss people and take her top off on Conviction! I worry they're going to turn Law and Order into a clone of CSI and all these other shows, these ones which cast good-looking women all the time in order to distract the audience from their ridiculous plots.

Law and Order isn't supposed to be about hot babes; it has always been about crime and justice and, above all else, good storytelling. It's solid, it's gritty, it's got VIOLENCE. It stays true to what really goes on in the criminal justice system. That's what separates this series from CSI and Without a Trace and all these other shows. People tune in to Law and Order to see a realistic, first-rate procedural show; it's not supposed to be Baywatch.

Hope the producers keep that in mind over there.

CARD SHARKS, AND A LOOK AT THE CAREER OF JIM PERRY

You know, summer TV ain't so bad, so long as you don't take it too seriously. It's good time-waster TV. Which is why you see a lot of game shows aired during the summer months on prime time TV, like Game Show Marathon over on CBS.

I think the show's a blast, you get to see these old, beloved, daytime game shows on TV again. Last night they aired a revival of Card Sharks, which was won by Brande Roderick.

I'm thinking, you know, they ought to bring this show back for real on network TV because poker is so big right now. And speaking of Brande Roderick, they should try and get her to be a model on one of these game shows! She'd be perfect for The Price is Right, she's got the blonde look. Anyway, that was last night's Game Show Marathon show.

That show brings to mind Jim Perry, who hosted Card Sharks in the early 1980s when the show aired on NBC during the daytime. Perry was one of the more prolific game show hosts of all time; he also hosted Sale of the Century which ran for many years. Maybe if they bring Game Show Marathon back next year, they'll have Sale of the Century as part of it.


Some fun Jim Perry facts for the audience now:

- Perry got his start as a game show host in Canada where he hosted such classics as Eye Bet and Headline Hunters, over on CTV. In fact he was one of the mainstays of the CTV network for many years, on many game shows.

- For years he hosted Definition on CTV, one of the most famous and most iconic Canadian game shows of all time. It ran for two decades on Canadian television. Its famous theme song was the Quincy Jones classic Soul Bossa Nova, which was later adopted as the theme for the Austin Powers movies. But really, when I think of that song I think of Definition, which was sort of like Wheel of Fortune but with celebrities. Perry hosted this show at the same time that he hosted Card Sharks and Sale of the Century in the USA.

- Interesting Alex Trebek connection: at the same time that Perry hosted Definition and Headline Hunters on CTV, Trebek was hosting the bargain-basement figure-skating production Stars on Ice on the same network. Truly, a show to forget.

- Jim Perry hosted the Miss Canada Pageant every year on CTV until the early 90s, a pageant once hosted in the 1960s by -- get this-- none other than Peter Jennings. Yes, the tape still exists of it, and Jennings had to sing, too. Truly, a show he hoped people would forget.

- I like this fun fact: Perry used to come to my home province of Saskatchewan every year to be one of the main hosts of the Kinsmen Telemiracle telethon which was televised across Saskatchewan and raised millions of dollars. That telethon was packed with celebrities back in the day, people like Alan Thicke used to be on it.

- In his early days as a game show host Perry's hair went a premature grey, predating Taylor Hicks by several years. We're talking Steve Martin grey here. Finally, in the mid-seventies Perry got fed up and shocked his Canadian game show audience by dying his hair. This move led to plenty of good opportunities to host game shows in the 'States. Of course, Bob Barker did the complete reverse late in his career by ditching the dye completely, going grey on The Price is Right.

According to Wikipedia Jim Perry retired from the game show business and is living in Florida. Whether he still bothers to dye his hair, though, is an open question.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

DOCUMENT REVIEW HELL

I keep up with these websites about the legal profession and stumbled tonight on a blog about temporary attorneys. It's found at temporaryattorney.blogspot.com.

Basically it's about that poor, unfortunate class of lawyers who passed the bar exams ( woo hoo!) but cannot get good jobs at law firms or aren't able to get the jobs they want. Instead, they take temporary attorney jobs through placement agencies who send them off to work on document review projects at big law firms in places like New York or LA.

Bloody hell! Document review is absolutely the most boring activity you can do as a lawyer, in my judgement. You don't get into court, you don't even take depositions- all you do is sit there and read documents, and tag them as to whether they are relevant or not to the litigation. Yes indeed, this is what a lot of new lawyers get stuck doing for their living; they aren't advising clients or getting into court like Ally McBeal. They're doing this garbage. A lot of the people who do this sort of thing are graduates of "Tier 2" law schools who didn't finish in the top half of their law school class, or even the top 25% in some cases. This temp work is reserved for the people whose immediate job options might include, if they are lucky, public defender or insurance defense work, usually outside the big city. These aren't attractive options for a lot of people who don't want to leave the big city or are repelled by the pay or the type of work. So they do document review. Lousy dead-end work, but the pay is better.

Mind you, there's a lot of full-time associates who get stuck doing document review, too, early in their careers. But at least they might get a chance to get out of doing this grunt work some day, and do depositions or something like that. I read Barman by Alex Wellen, and that was his life as an associate, doing document reviews in a warehouse. No wonder he quit to go into TV.

Anyway, I thought it was a pretty eye-opening website. Being a temporary attorney sounds really terrible. Even articling students at Canadian law firms do more than this. At least they are able to get a variety of experience, though I must say I'm kind of opposed to the way the articling system is set up in Canada and actually want the whole system reformed or scrapped completely. Law students get no say in what type of articling experience they get in a lot of cases and there are all kinds of other issues. But that is a rant for another day.

Anyway, that's my rant for the night about temporary attorneys. Another reminder for those of you out there that you should forget about being a lawyer. Go do an M.B.A. instead. Or go to medical school. At least you'll have a shot at a decent career. Life for law grads is bad, period.

And this is probably my last rant on the legal profession as I go back to writing about more interesting stuff.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

OPEN CASE #1: SUMMER RATINGS

The ratings from last week are out and the season finale of Deal or No Deal, with a $5 million grand prize on the table, not only won its time slot--- it won the week. Number One show.

Now, granted, all it had to do was beat out the NBA finals, which finished number three and number five with some good numbers. And it beat out the Apprentice finale (it finished at seventh for the week), the usual summer reality shows, Game Show Marathon over on CBS, and the new drama Windfall on NBC (which finished thirteenth). Plus, there were all the reruns on every channel. Still, finishing first for the week is quite an accomplishment for Deal or No Deal, regardless of what time of the year it is. I'd say picking this show up was a great "deal" for NBC.

In fact, Howie Mandel is going around capitalizing on this show's hit status. The Canadian comedian was the star attraction at the Global TV upfront last week in Toronto, with his show presented as one of the network's jewels for the fall season. Mandel hosted a live Deal or No Deal game for the assembled press. The models with the suitcases were there, too. Life at the top is good.

Life at the bottom, though, is not so good. And here we talk about the NHL. It drew only 2.5 million die-hard American hockey fans for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals and got a humiliating 1.1 rating among viewers 18-49. CNN reported that even telenovelas on Univision beat hockey last Saturday! Now that's embarrassing.

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Univision ratings are through the roof right now. They are showing the World Cup of Soccer which gets a big viewership from English speakers who normally don't bother with Spanish-language TV. These fans watch Univision because they love that these Spanish announcers really get into the action. They treat the World Cup as the big deal that it is, something you don't see from these baseball-obsessed English-language sportscasters. The fans may not understand the language, but they know for sure when a goal is scored.

"GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLL!!!!!!!"

Maybe Mike "Doc" Emrick over on NBC should try this out sometime on the NHL broadcasts, the ratings might improve.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

FEAR FACTOR LOOKS LIKE THE JERRY SPRINGER SHOW

It's sad to see Fear Factor fall to the ocean depths like it did tonight. I know this show is on its last legs, but heck, at least go out with some class. Not that this show had any class to begin with, but really, make an effort. This is prime-time network television, guys, this isn't daytime! You're on freaking NBC! But they don't care. Tonight, Joe Rogan hosted an all-star edition featuring your favorites (?) (!) from all these other reality shows.

Actually it was Survivor's "Jonny Fairplay", and Tana and Craig from The Apprentice 3, and other people we don't want to see ever again from these reality shows, competing as teams of two on Fear Factor. It was bad enough that we had to see all these wannabe actors blighting the TV screen again; their 15 minutes of fame expired a long time ago. But this show just couldn't resist bringing back two fools who ruined The Amazing Race when they were on that show. Guess who they got?

It was Jonathan and Victoria. God help us all, I thought, that quarrelsome couple again. I couldn't believe people still think these two deserve to be on TV.

Anyway, I immediately changed the station. I now regret that dumb decision, because apparently tonight's show was absolutely full of fights. A clip ran on Access Hollywood showing Jonathan and Victoria yelling at each other at the top of their lungs. Victoria got into a fight with one of the other contestants, punching Jonny Fairplay from the looks of it. Host Rogan was shown going ape at Victoria, saying it was one thing to fight as a couple but it crossed the line to get into fights with other contestants. Then Jonathan got hostile with Rogan for picking on his wife, and got into a fight with him, too. As Jonathan describes it in an interview, Rogan put him in a headlock as they went at it. This was close to the end of the show.

It sure turned into The Jerry Springer Show from the looks of it. In fact Fear Factor looks like it is bent on making an all-out bid to steal the "Worst TV Show Ever" title away from Springer before they are cancelled. This was actually their first show of the season, this episode! Well, they started with a bang, that's for sure, with all this nonsense that went on.

Why Victoria hasn't dumped hubby Jonathan and moved on to a less violent relationship is anyone's guess. Heck, she can get any guy she wants, she's a Playmate! These two jokers are doing excellent imitations of Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston from The Break-Up, yet they're still together! Who knows whether this business of Jonathan and Victoria fighting all the time is the real deal or all schtick. Maybe they think they can milk their fights for all they are worth. They even have a website. Who cares. All I know is it's bad TV.

Please, you two, call it quits already. This relationship is a Court TV trial waiting to happen.

GO SEE "CARS"

Why is it that the only decent entertainment at the movie houses these days are cartoons?! I don't get it. Anyway, I really enjoyed Cars.

It's about this NASCAR rookie sensation who found himself lost in the town of Radiator Springs on Route 66, who discovers the true meaning of life and friendship and all that. It was a really sentimental movie, especially considering the whole cast consists of automobiles. Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt and Paul Newman are among the people voicing the characters; Newman an especially good choice because he's so identified with auto racing.

I don't know why this movie was such a big hit with me. Maybe it's because I'm a big race fan to begin with. Maybe it's because I've been out there on the open road myself with my automobile, in boondock-type places much like Radiator Springs, towns that the Interstate forgot. Maybe it's because I've also been in the repair shop, too often, with my automobile, getting repairs done for the thing to keep the car running. Whatever.

Anyway, see it, it's a lot better than The Break-Up. All I will say about The Break-Up is that it's, it's... how do you spell excruciating? Where's my spell-check?!

Oh, and this is another reminder to myself that this week is the Le Mans auto race. Otherwise I'd forget, because nobody cares about it here. It's all about the Nextel Cup, or in Canada, the Stanley Cup. Who cares about real auto racing.

Friday, June 09, 2006

MORE RANTS ABOUT SPORTS

Well on this very first day of the World Cup I thought I'd take the opportunity to rant about sports. Lots of news.

CBC FIRES BRIAN WILLIAMS

Read a report in the Globe that in the wake of Brian Williams' announcement that he will be switching to CTV at the end of his contract, the CBC had decided to pull him off the air right away. What's more, it sounds like they don't want to even pay the remainder of his contract!

You know, I'm not terribly surprised that this happened. Fox News did the same thing to Paula Zahn when she defected to CNN. If someone defects to another network, usually you don't keep them on the air, you boot them on the street right away. Now I know people were saying that Katie Couric got to stay at the Today Show for a period of time before heading to CBS, and Meredith Vieira on The View before departing for NBC. But they were just going to stay and finish out their final few weeks in their own individual cases. It made no sense to keep Brian Williams on the air at CBC for the next six months if he's going to go around promoting CTV, as he did the other day at the CTV upfront. Simple as that.

Still, this makes CBC look bad, booting this guy out on the street after all he did for them for 20 or so years. CBC looks like the Low-Class Network these days, with the low-class way they have treated veteran sportscasters. Doesn't Williams deserve to get at least one final goodbye telecast or something before getting booted out on the street, so that he could cry on TV like Katie Couric did? Guess not.

Oh yeah, by the way Elliotte Friedman will be the new host of the CFL on CBC broadcasts, replacing Williams.

OUT OF WORK SPORTSCASTERS IN VANCOUVER

Last week Corus pulled the plug officially on MOJO Radio in Vancouver, the all-sports radio station there. Guys like Blake Price and J. Paul McConnell got the boot. Of course, J. Paul McConnell has had very little to do since the BC Lions left Corus to go to The Team 1040. Corus, of course, has been cutting jobs left and right in Vancouver. They cut jobs at 980 CKNW and that station also lost the rights to games of the Vancouver Canucks to the Team 1040. So I'm not surprised they decided to pull the all-sports format off the sister station at 730 on the dial, they no longer had the rights to any decent teams anymore. MOJO most recently has carried Vancouver Giants junior hockey and Vancouver Whitecaps soccer, and they say the new station ( which is supposed to be all traffic reports--- huh?!) will keep carrying those games. But this is not good-- one less all-sports station in Vancouver. It's too bad.

SAM RYAN: NEW GIG

In spite of all the problems facing sportscasters in this country, with people getting the boot and so on, I must say that sportscasting is still a sweet gig and still the one thing I'd most want to pursue in broadcasting. The guys doing what I want to do in broadcasting all had sports as part of their resumes at some point, and it helped them cross over and do other stuff like talk shows, another thing I'd be interested in doing. But the most fun I ever had in broadcasting was when I did sports. Maybe, just maybe, I ought to go to the States.

Read that ABC Sports' Sam Ryan has quit ABC/ESPN for a new gig as a local anchor at CBS 2 in New York City. I read in that article that Sam is gonna be making a six figure salary! That does it, I want to be a sportscaster in New York City, and cover the Yankees and Mets; I want to be rich! The heck with Canada and covering these bleeping hockey games all the time. I've followed Sam's career quite closely, she did the sports updates on WFAN years ago. In those days she went by the name Samantha Ryan. I think Sam Ryan is a babe, but then again, I say that about everyone.

In other sportscasting news that same article says the New Jersey Devils fired their entire WFAN play-by-play crew the other day. Why, I don't know. Sportscasting can be a rough business. There's supposed to be a site going called www.firebobcole.com, where people have tried to get a petition going to boot the Hockey Night in Canada announcer off the air. I think it's just a bunch of disgruntled Ottawa Senators fans behind that one.

FOOTBALL: BECOMING MORE POPULAR WITH CANADIANS

Read an interesting survey that claims football is becoming more popular these days. They did a poll that said hockey was followed by 30% of Canadians, with football at 24%. That's a drop of some 10% for hockey from its mid-90s peak. This survey claims 19% of Canadians follow the CFL while 13% follow the NFL, which came as a surprise to the guy covering that story. But really, when you think of it, the CFL is much more popular than the NFL is out West, by a big freaking margin. That's why so many of these surveys show that the CFL is more popular. In Ontario, though, it's a different story. NFL interest is a lot higher around here. But I think it's just an Ontario thing.

HOCKEY: UNPOPULAR EVERYWHERE EXCEPT CANADA

I'm not surprised that football is now Canada's number two sport. What surprises me is that hockey is still number one in this country after the way this sport has mismanaged itself. Taking the season off, man, that set the sport back years. Has anyone seen the ratings for the Stanley Cup Final on the OLN Network in the USA?! They're terrible! They got less than a million viewers! And the reason the numbers are so terrible is because the games are on a hick network with no promotional reach, the Outdoor Lance (Armstrong) Network. At least if the NHL had been on TNT or somewhere like that (like the NBA games are), the games would have been cross-promoted on TBS and CNN and these other places. But no one watches OLN. I read somewhere that ESPN2 ran women's softball or something against the Stanley Cup Final and beat it. More people watch poker than the NHL, and that is SAD.

Personally, I find it hard these days to get myself wrapped up in a sport--- hockey ---that nobody in the rest of the world cares about. You think people in Europe or South America care about the Stanley Cup right now? The Americans don't care, either, they're more interested in the NBA finals or major league baseball. Even in the rest of the world, like Japan or China or places like that, there's more interest in the NBA and major league baseball than the Stanley Cup. I'll bet that NBC will get more viewers for the Arena Football championship game this weekend than they do for the NHL. Heck, they're hardly even promoting the Stanley Cup Finals on any of their NBC shows. Their Cup ratings will be in the toilet.

That's why I can't get too excited about this sport anymore. If the rest of the world doesn't care, why should we?!

What I don't understand is why the CBC keeps on shoving hockey down the throats of Canadians as our "national sport" all the time. I'm not talking about Hockey Night in Canada here, I'm talking about the rest of the schedule. We're seeing hockey coverage on the news, in prime time programming, everywhere. During the Olympic Games, the CBC showed hockey games all the time! Meanwhile, where's the coverage of all these other sports?! Just today, for example, they did a story on the CBC news about the World Cup of Soccer, yet they couldn't help but point out that in Canada hockey is more popular and that this was soccer's equivalent of the Stanley Cup. They actually said this on the air! What a joke. I can tell you that in Toronto the bars are packed to watch World Cup games, yet the CBC wants to make it sound as if we ought to be surprised that Canadians care about this event! I know that hockey's a popular sport in this country, but this is getting to be sickening, the overexposure and favoritism towards this one sport by the CBC.

Look at the prime time lineup. The CBC is planning to show Hockey: A People's History this fall. They also have on this show Hockeyville, where they're trying to find the most hockey-crazed town in Canada. They're going to announce the winner of this competition and that town will get to host an NHL exhibition game. They also had a show on called The Tournament which was about hockey, and they had that reality show a while back that took a bunch of prospects and had them go through a mock NHL training camp on TV. Whoop de do. The question I have is, why isn't anyone at the CBC showing stuff like Footballville? Or documentaries about the history of football in this country?! Maybe they feel football isn't worthy enough for them, isn't Canadian enough. So they just go ahead and ignore the 24% of Canadians who are interested in football, and do hockey coverage instead. Gets my goat.

See, this is the football fan in me coming out and ranting. At least that sport doesn't take the year off, like hockey does!! Or plays to low ratings on obscure cable networks in the USA! Guys, hockey isn't the only sport in Canada, there are other sports and some of them are actually pretty good! That's it!

By the way, I am so GLAD THAT FOOTBALL IS BACK--- THE CFL IS BACK!!! I'm not so glad Ricky Williams is part of the league, though. But that's the way they want to operate.

AL-ZARQAWI DEAD

Good riddance.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

BIG DAY IN COURT IN BRAMPTON

Yesterday was 6-6-6, the Day of the Devil, the Mark of the Beasts. And more than a few of them had their day in court. How fitting.

Several of those thugs were hauled into court in Brampton the other day and it turned into a big media frenzy. Usually it's just the usual hacks like Citytv or CTV who show up over there for various things, and maybe the CBC would show up if it was a big enough story.

But this was different. Fox News was there; so was Al-Jazeera. When those two show up, boy, is it ever a big news day in your town, because usually they wouldn't bother coming to Brampton. Here's the article from the Toronto Sun about the media circus.

The article mentioned Dave Seglins of CBC Radio; interesting because he was a former classmate at Western J-school. I wonder what he thought when he heard that these guys were thinking of bombing the CBC.

But that wasn't even the goriest news to come out of the courthouse. These guys had big plans. Among other things, they were planning to storm Parliament and take hostages, and behead the Prime Minister! Now, I don't know how they could have accomplished any of this stuff; you would think Parliament is heavily secured. But the fact that these guys were thinking of doing this sort of stuff has shocked the whole country. This is front page news, everywhere. Who cares about the Stanley Cup today.

People across Canada are stunned that anyone would even consider terrorist attacks on this country. They wonder why anyone would want to attack innocent people, given this country's reputation for tolerance and multiculturalism and so on. Canadians aren't used to being a target of hate, they have this big reputation for being friends with everyone in the world! People are stunned that their own fellow Canadians of Muslim descent would hold terrorist training camps in northern Ontario and plot mass bombings. Muslims are similarly shocked and appalled about what this is going to do to people's impressions of them and their religion. You have people vandalizing mosques now and so on. Not a good situation.

The good news, however, is that these guys have been CAUGHT. Nobody has gotten hurt, nobody's been killed. Better yet, just the fact that this plot was uncovered has suitably shocked Canadians into taking the threat of terrorism seriously.

Canadians have woken up and realized that they can't avoid the War on Terror, they cannot fool themselves into thinking that terrorists are only interested in going after everyone else. Now Canadians are likely to get serious about national security and about doing something about terror threats in this country. Canadians caught a lucky break.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

SIX SIX SIX!

AAAARGH!!!!

What a day for the second anniversary of THE CAIRNS BLOG to fall on: the sixth day of the sixth month of the sixth year of this decade. The Day of the Devil.

You might even say that this blog has gone straight to you know where. Certainly I've stopped ranting about politics as much, because I'm fed up with it. Part of the reason I'm writing more about entertainment is because it's more fun than politics, and I'd like to get involved with doing something connected to movies or TV in the future in some way. Speaking of which---- today of all days is the day THE OMEN debuts in theatres. Six six six.

These movie people, with their warped sense of humor. Funny guys.

CTV UNVEILS NEW FALL LINEUP

Enough of the American upfronts. On to the Canadian ones, now. And by Canadian standards, CTV's upfront yesterday was pretty much what the competition feared; a nuclear-bomb-style blowout. If there was any doubt who was number one in TV in this country, it was erased yesterday by CTV. Look at all the damage they inflicted on the competition in one day, just at their own upfront.

Just for starters, CTV unveiled its new fall lineup at the Hummingbird Centre. It's no accident they chose that venue. CTV had just shown the Canada's Walk of Fame induction show, which was held at the same venue over the weekend, so they wanted to blow their own horn about that. Moreover, it was yet another dig at Global TV, because the Canada's Walk of Fame induction show used to be on Global, until CTV swiped it last year. In fact CTV spent all of last season swiping Global's ratings and stealing Global's thunder. They were bragging about having 17 of the top 20 shows in prime time, including Idol, Desperate Housewives, LOST, the CSIs, you name it.

They also announced this fall's new shows, including pickups 30 Rock starring Tina Fey, and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. By all rights, these parodies of Saturday Night Live ought to have gone to Global; after all, Global is the Saturday Night Live network in this country. But NBC's move of Studio 60 to Monday nights made it ripe for the taking by CTV. Also going to CTV is Justice starring Canadian Victor Garber, Smith, Let's Rob, Class, The Nine, and a few other shows. I don't see too many breakout hits here, but some of these shows have a chance to make it. Picking up 30 Rock and Studio 60 really damages Global more than any other move.

Having dispatched Global, the CTV folks turned their sights on CBC. They announced that their longtime CBC Olympic host Brian Williams had bolted to CTV to cover the Olympics in 2010. The timing for this announcement couldn't have been better. That night, CBC had Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals. On a day when the CBC should have been crowing about their sports coverage and the big ratings they were bound to get from Hockey Night in Canada, they had to answer questions about Brian Williams and how bad this defection makes them look. That took care of them.

Having disposed of both Global TV and the CBC in swift fashion, the only thing left for CTV to do was to conquer the Internet. Which they did. CTV announced that they had chosen this day to launch their broadband initative. They are going to have four channels of content on their broadband site. They are now streaming episodes of Corner Gas, Instant Star, Degrassi, the whole season 4 of Canadian Idol, with a few extra clips from its top Canadian shows including eTalk Daily, on their website www.ctv.ca. Check it out, it's pretty good stuff.

I'd say that if CTV was out to make a splash at its upfront, they totally succeeded. They made all the other Canadian networks look like chumps. Maybe they took a lesson from the splashy Global upfront of last year, when they brought in Donald Trump to help launch their fall schedule, which included the new Apprentice season and the launch of Entertainment Tonight Canada. The question now is, what does Global do to counter this? They can't bring Trump back. Not only is his show sinking fast (after Sean won in Super-Bowl blowout fashion last night), but it's not even on the fall schedule--- it won't be back until January of 2007. Who is Global going to bring in this time? Steve Carell? Jason Lee? Jeff Probst from Survivor?

That's Global's problem right now: too few hits.

Monday, June 05, 2006

CBC SPORTSCASTER BRIAN WILLIAMS BOLTS TO CTV

This is very big news, though possibly not unexpected given what's happened to the TV rights to the Olympics. Brian Williams has bolted CBC for CTV/TSN.

To sum up what Brian Williams has meant to the CBC, simply this: what Ron MacLean was to hockey coverage, that was what Brian Williams brought to non-NHL coverage in this country. Not only was he the primary anchor of the Olympic Games telecasts, but he also hosted the CFL telecasts for as long as anyone can remember on CBC, including countless Grey Cups.

In recent years, though, he's had less and less to do over there, as the CBC has lost the rights to one sport after another. For example, Williams hosted the World Juniors telecasts when those rights were held by the CBC: everyone remembers his famous confrontation with Don Cherry on-air when the Canadian and Russian teams got into that huge, huge fight on the ice. Both teams were kicked out of the tournament and Williams said on-air that they deserved it. TSN eventually took over those junior hockey rights. CBC also doesn't carry the Toronto Blue Jays games anymore; that was another sport which Williams got to cover as their play-by-play voice on television.

Losing the Olympics to CTV was obviously the last straw for Williams, who is most identified with that work, and I am not surprised CTV went after him. I think CTV is looking to add quite a few people to cover the Olympics in 2010 and 2012, and I also think they are looking to deploy Williams on their extensive non-hockey coverage, especially the CFL. In fact I'm convinced CTV might try and grab the entire CFL package away from CBC, because quite frankly, CBC has been mailing it in with their football coverage recently. (Last year's announcerless CFL games during the strike were a major low point).

This is going to raise more questions about the CBC and their ability to cover major sports. This is a huge defection, the loss of their top non-hockey announcer to CTV. Losing Williams, though, isn't going to create a gaping hole for them to fill, because quite frankly they've lost most of the sports he covered anyway. Besides, they still have Ron MacLean, who has co-hosted Olympic coverage for years. In 2008 he'll simply be named the full-time host of the Beijing telecasts, CBC's final Olympic Games.

That's also the year the contract for the NHL rights comes up for bid, which CTV is supposed to be salivating over. The stories have been out there that CBC won't be able to compete with CTV in the bidding for the NHL rights after their current contract expires, and could lose the entire package. I wouldn't doubt it. CTV is rich with cash from all its hit shows like Canadian/American Idol, and is spending like mad on sports.

Methinks CTV has their eye not only on Saturday-night NHL rights but Ron MacLean, too--- not to mention Don Cherry. And they'll all join Brian Williams and Chris Cuthbert over at CTV/TSN. One big happy family reunion in Vancouver in 2010.

MORE LAW AND ORDER CAST NEWS


Found out that Dennis Farina is leaving the cast of Law and Order- he was the guy brought in to replace Jerry Orbach. More and more it looks as if Orbach's departure was the ultimate shark-jumping moment for the show, simply because the shoes he left behind were so big that no one could fill them, not even an acclaimed actor like Farina.

Meanwhile, good news on the A.D.A. front: Hollywood Reporter says that Milena Govich, pictured,who was part of the cast on the Dick Wolf show Conviction which was cancelled, will take over as the resident female prosecutor from the murdered Alex Borgia. This is great news for the fans, because Milena Govich is a totally hot-looking, gorgeous babe.

The bad news is that she's bound not to last very long, this show is on its last legs and her character will probably end up tortured or even killed. Heck, look what happened to these other A.D.As on the show. These writers are too cruel. Bloodthirsty fiends.

That's yet another in a long line of brunette A.D.A.s. The only non-brunette was Elisabeth Rohm's infamous Serena, the blonde lipstick-lesbian prosecutor. The fans didn't like her character one bit on the show. Maybe Serena should have dyed her hair.

Wait a minute--- hold your fire. Now I'm reading that Milena Govich might not be playing an A.D.A. on the show after all. I'm reading reports that she might be playing one of the cops, instead, replacing Farina.

Well, this truly makes no sense, if this is true, because Govich played A.D.A. Jessica Rossi on Conviction, and Conviction was part of the Law and Order universe! Now they want to make her a cop on this show? Who the heck is she supposed to be now, Jessica Rossi's twin sister?!

If this is true, the folks at Law and Order would truly look like a bunch of people making things up as they go along. Then again, what do you expect, this is TV.