Saturday, September 30, 2006

LATEST LIBERAL DELEGATE TOTALS

5:30 EST
107/465 meetings reported in:

IGNATIEFF 314
RAE 185
DION 184
KENNEDY 135
BRISON 65
DRYDEN 52
VOLPE 41
HALL-FINDLAY 17
UNCOMMITTED 27

Ignatieff is now back over 30% but he should slip back again as the Western results come in- it's still early afternoon out there so those meetings are far from over.

Looks to me as if there are really four serious contenders for the Liberal leadership: Ignatieff, Rae, Dion and Kennedy.

For Liberals blogger reaction check out the Liblogs website; at least those guys are plugged in to what is going on on the ground this weekend, so they can actually tell you what is happening. Exciting times for Liberal members. And no thanks to the mainstream media who have been giving this big political weekend hardly any coverage. Instead, they're covering the usual death and destruction.

If this were the 'States these delegate selections would be getting live continuing coverage from the likes of CNN and Fox News. All the political pundits would be out in full force, and we'd have correspondents on the ground with the campaigns. Instead, we have to rely on the Liberals for all our information. Nice going, media guys. Thanks for nothing, eh?

For live continuing fair and balanced coverage of the Liberal Super Weekend count on THE CAIRNS BLOG, because let's face it, you can't count on TV news for any coverage!!!

LIBERAL SUPER WEEKEND IS HERE

Well, after a week of embarrassment for the Liberals with dead people seeking membership in the party and so on, and with stories floating around about how Liberal Belinda Stronach busted up Tie Domi's marriage, all we can say now is the time has come for the Liberals to put up or shut up.

Delegate selection is finally here and we will finally know the state of the race. No more of this guesswork, no more of this bragging by Bob Rae's people about how well he is doing. Finally, some hard numbers.

With some 20% of the results in Michael Ignatieff has the lead in delegates, but he is nowhere near close to a first-ballot victory and could be had on later ballots.

Stephane Dion and Bob Rae are fighting for second place right now with Gerard Kennedy already a strong fourth. All I'd say right now is that the only person likely to be really happy with the numbers right now are Dion and his people.

Unofficial, live results are here.

Friday, September 29, 2006

KIDNAPPED: BIG FLOP

Check out this article from Scott Collins pondering if Kidnapped, starring Dana Delany and Timothy Hutton, will be the first show to get yanked off the schedule; the numbers were pretty ugly over there on NBC.

This show is apparently expensive to make, too; it was shot in New York City. So far it looks like this is the biggest flop of the season, now two weeks old. The Death Watch continues as we wait for the first show to officially be "cancelled". Maybe NBC will chicken out and put Kidnapped on hiatus.

On FOX they said that Justice, booted off the schedule with an early hiatus, will return with "new episodes... after the World Series," so that answers the question about whether this show is cancelled. Not yet, anyway.

REALITY TV FADING FAST

For those of you wondering, Survivor: Apartheid Edition is no more. They mixed up the tribes on Thursday's show, so the big racial-segregation experiment--- and ratings stunt of the year--- is over after just a couple of weeks.

In other news Ugly Betty on ABC got a big audience, so I think Brad Garrett, over on FOX with 'Til Death, will be looking for a job pretty soon. Dunno whether Betty will be competition for Survivor in the long run this season. I checked the pilot out a little bit. flipping between channels, and it really isn't that bad. I think this show has a chance to make it because it's the right show for the type of people who usually watch ABC--- a.k.a. The Women's Channel. If you're a boring housewife in middle America then this network is for you. As for who got the boot on Survivor--- really, who cares anymore.

Speaking of ABC, they serve up The Bachelor again this Monday night in a timeslot that usually was reserved for Monday Night Football. Fat chance any guys will watch ABC on Monday night, they're all gonna watch ESPN. This network is hell-bent on driving guys away.

The latest gimmick is that the Bachelor is going to Rome. Last year they went to Paris. Where's this Bachelor show going to go next--- Monaco? Rio? Moscow?! The Antarctic?!?

As you know the last phony relationship that emerged from this crummy show ended shortly after the finale aired. This show is absolutely no good at creating relationships and is a big train wreck, but of course that's why people watch: to see this show self-destruct. Actually, that's the only reason these days. Too many people at home are feeling bad for these contestants who keep on getting robbed and jilted all the time. Who wants to watch a show that makes you feel bad about romance? This show is in big trouble, folks.

On Sunday nights The Amazing Race on CBS is getting KILLED. The reason CBS put this show on Sunday was because they were trying new stuff like Jericho in midweek--- and Jericho is starting to break out and connect with viewers. I think the folks over at CBS feel The Amazing Race is fading quickly and the novelty is wearing off. So they are trying to put the show on Sunday nights to help turn it around and try and lead off a big night of procedurals. Well, The Amazing Race is dragging the whole CBS network down on Sundays. Personally, I think the "family edition" of this show was the turning point for this series. That killed this show right off. Sending these families to these boring towns in America instead of the usual places around the world was supremely stupid. It turned the fans right off. Now they figure they've seen it all from this show and would rather watch the real competition that is the NFL, on the other station.

Then there's America's Next Top Model and I dunno why it's the top show on the CW, because that show is a piece of junk. Just a big fat ego trip for Tyra Banks and these judges. What a waste of time.

The good thing about the fall schedule is that the networks are once again putting on all these dramas and procedurals, and first-rate efforts. I know that there are people out there who hate Vanished, or don't care about Standoff and all these other shows, but let's face facts. Even the worst dreck of this bunch of dramas is better than any reality show. These dramas are actual shows, with an actual EFFORT put into them! You can trash Amanda Peet all you want, but face reality people: what's the better show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, or America's Got Talent? I told you so.

NO APPRENTICE

Needless to say I don't miss reality TV, generally. One thing I miss, though, is Thursday nights. It just hasn't been the same ever since the reality one-two punch of Survivor and The Apprentice was broken up. It's just weird tuning in at 9PM and seeing Howie Mandel and the gorgeous suitcase babes on the air instead of Donald Trump. At least The Apprentice was a show you really got worked up about, a show you anticipated with baited breath every week to see what would happen next to the people in the boardroom. You can't say the same about Deal or No Deal.

There's only one reason to watch that show--- for the suitcase babes, and THAT'S IT. At least the suitcase babes are easy on the eyes. But then again, so were the female candidates on The Apprentice. The Donald could sure pick 'em. The difference is these female Apprentice contestants were far more interesting with their scheming and their back-stabbing, and their penchant for embarrassing themselves on TV. Who can forget when Carolyn Kepcher reamed these women out on TV for using sex to get ahead. Classic television. That's why you wanted to watch The Apprentice, to see these fools get cut down a notch by the uptights in charge.

Now that the Donald has fired Carolyn from the Trump organization after last year's embarrassing, jump-the-shark season, who cares anymore about that show, either. Reality television has had it.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

BLUE MAN GROUP KICKED OUT OF TORONTO

Well, here's a bit of theatre news from Toronto. The Blue Man Group show that was running here is closing, after a year and a half.

This raises a lot of questions about the viability of Toronto as a major theatre town. I gotta say, I've never gone to the theatre, it's not my scene at all, but you'd think a show like this would get customers. Of course, Toronto closed down The Lord of the Rings after only a few months, and also made a flop out of The Producers. And that was a show that was a big hit in New York City, on Broadway! We're not talking about shows that were flops everywhere. These are shows that only flopped HERE. In fact The Blue Man Group has been getting big crowds everywhere they played--- but not in Toronto.

In fact you can ask the same question about a lot of events in Toronto that seem to flop here. For instance, major league baseball gets big crowds everywhere in all the major cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles --- but not in Toronto. Instead, people here waste their money on the crummy Toronto Maple Leafs NHL team that hasn't won a Cup in forty freaking years. And the Leafs games absolutely cost an arm and a leg. People have season tickets which they spend a fortune on, so they have no money left over to go see any other entertainment. The boys in the blue uniforms are sold out forever, meanwhile the Blue Man Group is going home.

I think it's a different crowd here, a weird crowd. The people who live in Toronto are freaks when it comes to the entertainment they like to go out and watch.

The shows they make hits out of here are, well, weird. When it comes to theatre they kept The Phantom of the Opera running here for years, which you can understand. But what I don't get is that they also made a big hit out of that ABBA-inspired musical Mamma Mia. And they like silly stuff like Spamalot. Why they'd turn their backs on the Blue Man Group, I dunno. Maybe it was the bad press that came from hiring non-union labour for that production that turned people off.

I know the critics also say that poor reviews kept people away but I dunno why people would say that's the reason. I think the crowd in Toronto is really tough. Maybe the competition from the film festival and the Leafs is simply too much for them. Maybe folks just can't afford the tickets in this blue-collar dump of a city. Probably a bit of both.

MY THOUGHTS ON STUDIO 60

Well on Monday ESPN was the big winner, yet again. Its airing of the first NFL game back at the Superdome since the awful Katrina hurricane disaster that turned that place into a revolting, sweltering steambath of a shelter for these poor hurricane victims, got a record audience for the network again and a rating of 11.8. That topped the previous week's record ESPN rating.

The bad news is that Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip once again got killed. NBC has invested heavily in the show, but CSI: Miami is on a roll, beating Studio 60 by a mile. And keep this in mind, too--- as well as CSI: Miami is doing, ESPN is doing even better. So Studio 60 is not simply running second to CBS; it's running third.

There are all kinds of theories afloat out there about why this show is not doing better. Nikki Finke was ranting about how NBC left this show to hang out to dry on its schedule, and says this show should have premiered in midseason on another night. She blames the executives in charge over there for damaging this show's chances. But what nights were out there for NBC to plant this show? They couldn't really have put this show on Sundays- that's the traditional "night of doom" for NBC. They would have gotten killed by ABC and CBS and besides, Sunday's not available anyway until February because of the NFL. Saturday is a throwaway night these days, and Fridays aren't a big TV night either. So if they wanted to make this show a hit they had to put this show anywhere from Monday to Thursday. And they couldn't put it Thursday because of Grey's Anatomy, and they can't put it Wednesday because of Lost, and they can't put it Tuesday because NBC runs the Law and Order spinoffs that night and have been running those shows there for years. And the most likely time slot would be 9PM, and House runs on FOX that night at that time.

There are no easy solutions here. Me, I'd shift Studio 60 to Sunday after the football season is over, because Studio 60 stands a chance against Brothers and Sisters and the other dreck being served up by all the other networks. But then you have all that HBO stuff competing with it and cutting into their audience. And Sunday was the night that NBC chose to put The Apprentice in a last-ditch effort to try and save that show, after flopping on Mondays.They could also try and put Studio 60 onTuesdays, or even Fridays. Maybe 10PM on Friday night will become available if the folks there decide to move Law and Order again. I dunno, Monday is as good a night as any to run this show. Maybe this show simply has no shot with the public, period. Doctor shows, procedurals, and action-packed shows like 24 seem to be all the rage these days. There's also a big demand for serialized stuff like Lost which has a lot of mystery to it. Nobody seems to be clamoring to watch a behind-the-scenes show about TV.

As well, this show is getting crucified by these blog writers. I read David Poland's blog and he crucified Aaron Sorkin, calling this show self-indulgent. Everyone wants to compare this show to The West Wing, and they all are finding this show coming up short. Personally, I think it does the show a disservice to compare it to The West Wing, which was one of the truly great shows of television; this is entertainment, darnet, not politics. So obviously, it's not going to be the same. Maybe these folks still wish that The West Wing was still on and are disgusted that they have to watch Studio 60 instead.

Personally, I think this show is just trying to rehash Sports Night and that's why this show is letting people down. They put in the young female network president on there, just like they put a young female executive producer in charge on Sports Night. A lot of people think the Amanda Peet network-president character is completely unbelievable, and they're right. They need a network president character who's larger than life, a Fred Silverman-type character, or a Les Moonves-type. Even a Brandon Tartikoff would do. Not this wimpy Amanda Peet character- really, would you want her in charge of YOUR network?! Maybe they were hoping that Faye Dunaway would accept the part, instead. I dunno what they are thinking.

I guess they figured that If they tried a copy of Jeff Zucker it would surely hit too close to home, but still, they need a larger-than-life network president!

Anyway, the main complaint about the show seems to be that people think it's unbelievable. I mean, I've seen episodes of Entourage ( the first season, anyway), and that show seems to give a more accurate view of life in Hollywood than this show does. Entourage makes it seem as if every box-office total is life or death! That's what this show needs, some realism. I'll give Studio 60 chance, but they need to come up with some drama. There's a lot of drama involved with the production of a troubled network television program. Will the show be cancelled? will this cast member quit?! It's kind of sad when the behind-the-scenes changes at Saturday Night Live are already more dramatic than the boring stuff happening on Studio 60. Everyone's getting fired from that show.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

NANCY DIS-GRACE

YOU KNOW, there are prosecutors and then there are prosecutors. Nancy Grace really strikes me as committed to mob justice. This is trial-by-TV-show, what she's doing.

She goes on Headline News and attacks this Melinda Duckett woman and accuses her on national television of murdering her 2-year-old son. Then this woman kills herself.

And instead of leaving her alone now that she's in the grave, Grace is going on and on and on, not letting up with the piling on. Check out this story about it.

She's going on and on trying to prove to the world that this woman was guilty. Well, it doesn't much matter anymore, she's dead, and thanks to Nancy Grace and her badgering we're never going to know the full extent of what happened. We'll never know the truth.

Nancy Grace is a woman in dire need of a cup of coffee, or something. Someone has to put a stop to Nancy Grace's irresponsible, one-sided, prosecutorial rants. On her show, it's always "guilty-until-proven-innocent". That's what bothers me about her show. She may be entertaining. But fair and balanced, well, she sure isn't.

Monday, September 25, 2006

FIRST CASUALTIES OF NEW SEASON: HAPPY HOUR, JUSTICE

WELL, the TV death pool is completely screwed up. Here you are, trying to pick the first show to be "cancelled", and then this happens.

FOX announces two shows are going on early "hiatus"- which basically amounts to a vote of non-confidence in your show by the network. But it doesn't mean you are "cancelled", yet. It means you are sort of cancelled, or as good as cancelled, but not officially cancelled.

What was it, three episodes for Happy Hour? I think it was four for Justice. Talk about the trigger being pulled fast, that's two shows in one blow tossed from the FOX network. Those execs are obviously impatient over there. Obviously, it's my fault Justice is gone- I didn't watch the last two weeks. In any event, FOX has announced that both shows are going on an early hiatus from the schedule--- so while they aren't technically "cancelled", well, they might as well be. Both shows were getting killed, in fact Justice was almost beaten by America's Next Top Model, on the CW last week. Justice almost finished in fifth place. I noticed CTV here in Canada had basically given up on Justice, they didn't even bother to air last week's show in its normal Wednesday time period.

Right now they say Happy Hour will return with "new episodes" in November but that means nothing, all that means is they are just going to run what's left of the shows that have already been shot. They are going to rerun the pilot episode of Justice on the 29th, but no word if any more episodes will be shown. Anyway, both shows look as good as dead.

It also looks like 'Til Death will stay on the air a little longer, they are airing a full hour of that show to make up for the loss of Happy Hour. But it's obvious that show isn't going to be around very long, either, they just want to fill the time. FOX is also going to air some House episodes in the Justice time slot.

This seems to be the latest trend: instead of yanking a show completely from the schedule, you put them on "hiatus", which is basically the same thing. Keep in mind that when Arrested Development was cancelled, this is exactly what happened to them, they got put on some sort of hiatus. The executives at FOX never came out and said "Arrested Development has been cancelled", because they figured to get inundated with e-mails from people calling for heads to roll at the FOX network. Anyway, if you bet on Happy Hour and Justice in your cancellation pool, I think you stand to collect some money.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

JOE VOLPE IN TROUBLE AGAIN

Well, did you hear the latest big scandal to hit the troubled Joe Volpe Liberal leadership campaign?! Apparently his team signed up dead people to vote for him.

Ohoooooooo boy. And apparently he's gonna address the whole scandal on Monday. Read it here. Maybe Volpe will drop out. He should give up already.

You know, signing up dead people is a huge no-no. It's obvious the rogue organizers who pulled off this stunt were trying to use these names of dead people to slip past several live ones who didn't have memberships into the hall to vote for Volpe. You're not supposed to do this, you're not supposed to allow people to get a membership unless they follow the rules and pay for it themselves. You hope these ridings will disallow these so-called memberships and not allow these people in to vote.

This is another example of rogue organizers getting a candidate in trouble. You had all this nonsense going on in 2000 during the Tom Long leadership campaign. Long's team of rogues in Quebec signed up a bunch of phony members in Quebec who hadn't paid up, who weren't interested in the party, never heard of Tom Long, and so on and so forth. So Long had to disavow these members and his campaign was mud. In any event there are all kinds of safeguards out there meant to prevent this sort of rogue activity from deciding leadership races. The party headquarters in Ottawa will simply refuse to accept the memberships. I know in the Tory leadership races that there were lots of people turned away for various reasons. There were always a number of people signed up by organizers who signed membership forms, but hadn't paid for their own memberships in the proper manner. So these names all got tossed out by the party and they didn't get to vote. And campaign teams were always on the lookout to make sure they weren't accidentally signing up dead people to vote for them, that sort of thing was bound to blow up in your face. Bottom line is there are all sorts of safeguards and procedures that have to be followed by everyone. You always have to submit these names to the party, and at the riding level they must find their names on the membership list before they are allowed in to vote. It's a credentials issue.

So I don't think we'll have to worry about dead people deciding the Liberal leadership race, this sort of activity never
works and will always be rooted out ahead of time. But it sure can make a candidate look bad.

Next week is the biggest week of the Liberal leadership campaign so far- the delegate selection meetings happen. After next week we'll have a very clear idea about the state of the delegate count going into the convention in December. It looks right now as if Michael Ignatieff is in first place, Bob Rae is in second, and everyone else is in third. And there's no way anyone is going to win on the first or even the second ballot. Really, it's that close.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

NOT A GOOD TIME TO GO TO THE MOVIES

You would think that now that it is officially the fall that the movies would be better. Well, I'm looking at the junk at the local cinemas and all I will say is that I wish the film festival were back on so I could have seen all the movies that I didn't get a chance to see, because all these movies at the cinemas are bad, bad, bad. Roger Ebert should probably take his time recuperating from cancer surgery, because he ain't missing much.

Two flicks that are opening this week, Fearless and Jackass II, are getting positive reviews--- Jackass is floating at the borderline of 60% over at Rotten Tomatoes.

It's pretty sad that Jackass II is considered a good movie, when you think of it. Incidentally, last week's top five movies were all crud. Look at Rotten Tomatoes' rankings:

41% Gridiron Gang $14.4M
32% The Black Dahlia $10.0M
40% Everyone's Hero $6.1M
02% The Covenant $4.8M
47% The Last Kiss $4.6M

The Covenant actually was Number One at one point. Yet only 2% of movie critics gave it a positive writeup. Even Sharon Stone's piece of junk Basic Instinct II did better--- and it only got a 6% approval rating!

All the King's Men is coming out, too, and that film died at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival--- it was crucified in fact. It had a Tomatometer rating at 19% last I looked. That's really bad. The Last Kiss also died here, too.

You know, it is sad that the movies out right now are so bad. I've been decompressing for a few days since the film festival ended and was so burned out, but now, you know, I feel like getting back into the moviegoing groove. See a few flicks at the local movie house instead of at the art house, for a change. But who wants to pay to go to the movies when the films are no darn good? Might as well stay at home and keep watching the networks roll out their latest shows on TV.

Then again maybe this was the plan all along by the studios. Roll out the duds in the theaters so that people will stay home and watch their premieres on TV. Wouldn't be surprised. It's all a big conspiracy.

CBC FALL SEASON

I could go on and on about the Guy Fournier resignation and all that, but who cares. All I have to say is that his scatalogical comments in the press were beyond embarrassing.What a loser, and good riddance. Now on to more important matters, like the stuff on CBC television.

Here's an article I found in Eye Weekly this week about the CBC and the new fall season for them. And they talk a bit about the CBC and what it ought to do to get out of its ratings doldrums.

You know, there's all kinds of talk out there about the CBC's problems and so on and so forth. And everyone has had their say about what they would do with the place, but unfortunately, most of the ideas I've heard sound just terrible. Everyone seems to want to totally wreck the CBC and drive out every good show left. You have people who want to get rid of all the sports. Then you have people who want to get rid of the American shows like the Simpsons and Frasier. Then there's the people who want to get rid of the Hollywood movies. Then still more want to get rid of the British shows. And others will toss out all the comedians. And on and on and on and on.

Why don't they simply get rid of all the shows on the CBC, then, and put up a test pattern? I'm convinced most of these people- interest groups, generally- would destroy the CBC given the chance. Anyway, I look at what the CBC is doing and I can't say I'm very inspired, either. Honestly, there's nothing much in the way of "appointment television" on this lineup, certainly not like what you get with CTV and their programs like Canadian Idol.

What is there? Hockey Night in Canada, and that's it. But they're going to lose the hockey rights to CTV pretty soon from what we are hearing. If they lose the hockey rights they are in big trouble, because the one thing going for the CBC is their sports coverage. I will say that the CBC made a good play to get the rights to World Cup Soccer back again, that sport is on the rise in Canada and viewership is up. And besides, they needed to do something to make up for the loss of the Olympics.

I have a few ideas about the CBC and what direction it should go - it should be younger, hipper, should clean house of some old shows and add a few popular British ones., more sci-fi stuff.. and I'll write all about my various exciting ideas later.

LISA OAKE JOINS ROBTV

This is old news but I found out that former CNBC Asia anchor ( and ex-Western J-school classmate) Lisa Oake has joined ROBTV here in Toronto.

Why she came here, I dunno. Maybe Lisa got fed up with uptight Singapore; she wouldn't be the first one. (Asiapundit, another Newfie, eventually got fed up with the place too. But look where he is now; he's in Red China, which is even worse.)

Friday, September 22, 2006

SHARK BITE

Well, about the legal procedural Shark on CBS, all I have to say is: Great actor (James Woods). Lousy show.

The problem is the writing; pretty uninspired plot if you ask me. This looks like yet another run of the mill legal show to me. My first thought was that this was the legal clone of House, and in fact that's what lots of people say about this show. Replace the doctors with a bunch of prosecutors and it's the same concept. Except Sebastian Stark isn't nearly as interesting or complicated as the cranky Dr. Gregory House. Stark is just a big jerk.

But Woods carried this episode, otherwise- it was a great performance. You can tell that underneath this jerk exterior is a guy who loves his daughter and has some morals about him. Too bad about the rest of the show, but maybe it will improve.

It looks to me as if Justice and Shark are both going to cancel each other out (pardon the pun). I'm convinced Justice is finished, dead on its feet. And James Woods looks to go the way of Richard Dreyfuss and Geena Davis and all these other big Hollywood actors who got their shows cancelled. It couldn't have helped matters for Shark that Grey's Anatomy beat CSI and that ABC won the night in a big upset.

Doctor McDreamy strikes again. All these women are Grey's addicts.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL ON ESPN

Well it turns out that it wasn't NBC that won Monday night after all. It was... ESPN.

Their broadcast of Monday Night Football and the matchup between Pittsburgh and Jacksonville got a 10.6 rating. That's the second highest rating in the history of cable television! The only event that ranked higher was the Al Gore-Ross Perot CNN debate on NAFTA years ago.

That rating is almost double what NBC got for their lineup of Deal or No Deal and these other shows. It means Studio 60 didn't finish second on the night, it finished THIRD. And you can add The Class to the "death pool" watch, because that lame CBS sitcom got KILLED.

But before you crow over the great NFL ratings, know that it's only about two-thirds what Monday Night Football drew when it was on ABC last year. So ABC is running fifth on Monday night--- behind ESPN and the other big 3 networks.

I don't know if putting Monday Night Football on ESPN was such a good idea for Disney. It's great for ESPN, they are getting the best ratings they ever had. But it's terrible for ABC, because nobody is watching the crummy shows on their network on Mondays. What is it they are showing, reality shows and supernannies and the like? A bunch of rubbish. They are mailing it in over there right now, they were better off showing football.

Also, lots of people hate the new ESPN broadcast crew and think they're all amateurs. At least they kept Hank Williams Jr.

These big ratings for cable TV just show that the major networks are losing their dominance in prime time.Think of all the shows on cable that have done well in the US, including The Closer, The Sopranos, Entourage, Nip/Tuck, Monk, The L Word, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report--- on and on. Nobody's gonna be left watching the networks soon at this rate. All the good programming in the US is ending up on cable while all the junk is on the networks.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

MY RANT ON ENTERTAINMENT REPORTING

Here is a long-pent-up rant about entertainment reporters, especially on these TV shows. I was going to mention this during the film festival, but I might as well mention it now before I forget about it.

I am completely fed up with what passes for entertainment news on TV and in some of these magazines. I'm convinced a lot of these so-called "entertainment reporters" are a bunch of fakers and hacks. These folks give the "real" entertainment reporters, the people who take this beat seriously, a bad name. These TV people are duck soup for the publicists and the spinmeisters in Hollywood, hyping up these movies and TV shows all the time, and their relentless coverage of gossip news drives me up the wall.

Watch these shows like Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight, and it's the same thing. You never get any real entertainment news watching these shows. Check out this TV Squad article about them. They were complaining about all the Anna Nicole Smith stories from last week--- it's either coverage of her son's mysterious death, or those stories about Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin dying. That TV Squad piece also complained about the relentless coverage of Dancing With the Stars from special correspondent Lisa Rinna. These shows also cover Paris Hilton a lot, and they have had plenty of coverage of Doctor McDreamy from Grey's Anatomy. That's what they actually call him! And people have clued in to this and have declared in print that they are fed up hearing these people refer to this actor as McDreamy all the time.

My beef about these TV shows is that they shortchanged the Toronto film festival coverage in favor of all this gossip nonsense. During the whole time the film festival was on, ET and Access Hollywood were covering Anna Nicole, Steve Irwin, and all this Paris Hilton nonsense. The films at the film festival were basically ignored by the Hollywood-based shows. There was no excuse for this. Heck, everyone else from the entertainment press was there covering it; why weren't they? This festival was getting front-page coverage in all these entertainment journals like Variety and the Hollywood Reporter, and on these movie blogs! You'd think there would be even a mention of some of the big successes at the Film Festival on these TV shows; you'd think they'd give their audience a head's up about how Borat rocked the house, or how All the King's Men laid a big egg with the critics. In fact, ET did a story the other day about the movie and you would have thought nothing had happened to this flick, that it still had a shot at Oscars. They didn't bother to mention how badly this flick got crucified in Toronto. But that's ET for you. They were like this at Cannes, where The Da Vinci Code laid an egg. But Mary Hart and crew ignored all that--- they didn't mention the booing or any of that at all!

And where were they when the world premieres of some of these smaller movies happened? I was at the theater that had the world premiere of Copying Beethoven. I saw Ed Harris, and Diane Kruger, and even Sela Ward. But I didn't see Mary Hart or Billy Bush or any of these important TV reporters there from the States to cover it, either. The print guys at least had an excuse not to be there, they went to press screenings and got to ask questions at press conferences. But these are the types of movies that need the press, folks, these small pictures! They need to get the word out so that people will go and watch! Instead, it's non-celebrity celebrities like Anna Nicole and Paris Hilton who get all the coverage on TV.

In fact, if you only followed these shows on TV you probably wouldn't have heard that Jim Carrey fired his agent, or that a couple of big agencies merged and a lot of people got canned. You wouldn't hear from Nancy O'Dell or Jann Carl about the bloodletting going on at Disney or all the problems Warner Brothers is having from all the flops from this year. Let's face it, if you want real coverage of important things like film festivals, or these distribution deals that were inked or any of that important stuff, you need to read the newspapers or go on-line. Heck, they were the only serious journalists who bothered to cover this film festival, these printed word people!

I worked some shifts at the Varsity, an excellent venue where all these press people go regularly for their press screenings. The press people I mainly saw there were these print and on-line people. A few of the more serious local radio and TV people were in there, too. But where was Mary Hart? Back in the USA, that's where she was all week! I will say this: one guy I saw from television who was there at the Varsity was eTalk's David Giammarco. At least give the guy credit for doing the grunt work of actually going to see some of these movies! Heck, if you're going to cover entertainment, watch the freaking stuff! So in general, there was a big divide between the TV entertainment reporters who stayed home, and the people from print publications who were there and actually doing serious film festival news coverage.

I noticed they were handing out copies of Screen International to people in the theaters, and they had daily editions of the publication giving the latest reviews and reporting on the big distribution deals going down for D.O.A.P. and all these other movies. Now that's what I call real entertainment reporting. This lousy stuff on TV, this crap--- this isn't entertainment news. This is gossip and hype, that's all it is.

Another thing that gets on my nerves are these supermarket entertainment magazines. I'm not talking about Premiere or TV Guide, at least they occasionally report real entertainment news. I'm talking about rags like the gossip magazines and these supermarket tabloids. I gotta say, these are a disgrace to the journalism profession. I'm convinced they are making their stories right up. Instead of covering Brad Pitt's premiere of his new film Babel and his thoughts about it and all that, these folks are still committed to live continuing coverage of, ahem, the state of the relationship with Angelina Jolie. One day, one mag declares in a world exclusive that Brad popped the question to Angie. The same week, another magazine declares that the two are splitting up. Then a third declares that Angie is pregnant. I think this is all ridiculous. These guys are totally speculating about what is going on and reporting the flimsiest rumors as news. Eventually one of these rags will be right and these two will either get married or split up, or have a baby or not have a baby. And these fools will be able to say they called it first!

They also do breathless coverage of whether or not Nicole Richie is anorexic, and keep drooling over Jessica Simpson, Britney Spears, Jennifer Aniston, and all these other big celebrities. A week or so back these rags had their big world exclusive that Jennifer said "I do" to Vince Vaughn, and that turned out to be junk, too. These mags are also constantly on the lookout for cellulite on these actresses, and they are continually trying to figure out if any celebrities need to be turned in to the fashion police for the ugly outfits they are wearing. These celebrities need to move out of Hollywood. They need to do what Demi Moore did, move to Idaho and get away from all the paparazzi. I know plenty of celebrities have places in Montana to go to so they can get away from these animals at these magazines and tabloids.

Anyway, I have had it! I'm sick of getting "entertainment news" that consists of speculation about whether these famous women are anorexic or having babies, or in or out of various relationships. Who freaking cares!! I'm sick of "style" coverage and gossip news masquerading as entertainment journalism. Give us some real entertainment news that we can use, darnet!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

SUE ME, I LIKE GAME SHOWS

Well, all I gotta say about Deal or No Deal is that this is one addictive show.

This week NBC is pulling out all the stops and showing Howie Mandel and the suitcase babes all week, trying to milk all the ratings and get NBC over the top in its big premiere week. Last night, one lucky contestant won the biggest payday in the history of the show, over 600 grand. Unfortunately for him, he ended up cashing out too early. It turned out his suitcase had three million dollars in it. His offers would have kept on going up and up. Had he held onto it he would've won three million dollars! The fool. Anyway I know there are all these people out there who claim to hate the show and all that, but so far Deal is winning big for NBC. They won their time slot and the premiere of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip did well enough to earn NBC a win on the first night of the new fall season.

But Studio 60 finished second in its time slot to CSI: Miami--- or, as some wags call it, CSI: Rio--- because these jokers are in Brazil right now.

In other news, this is the 35th anniversary season of The Price is Right on CBS. And I swear that set hasn't changed in 35 years, either. About the only thing still constant about the show is Bob Barker. The rest of the cast has totally changed. Two of their previous announcers have died, and they got rid of so many of Barker's Beauties that it is a joke. They fired Janice Pennington because she got too old! And too many lawsuits have been filed over the years from all these bitter models who've gotten the boot and were otherwise mad about their treatment.

So in one sense this isn't the same show it used to be, but in many respects it is. It's still the same old pricing games and "come on down!!!". It's comforting to know that when you're at home from work sick in bed, or on your vacation or something like that, you can still turn on the TV at 11AM each day and watch The Price is Right.

That's 11AM, 10AM Central and Mountain, for those of you in Peoria.

YET ANOTHER "GUYS M.I.A. FROM TV NEWS" STORY

Here's a story from the Star-Tribune in Minneapolis about how few guys are doing TV news anchoring. (UPDATE: The link doesn't work, so try here.) I know I know, yet another one. Everyone at all these newspapers has suddenly caught on to this big story.

What I found interesting was the blurb about this news guy who was bragging about how he got eight or nine job offers, all because he was one of the few guys willing to be a TV news anchor. And this was a guy who only had something like one year of experience. He now works at KELO in Sioux Falls, S.D., a smaller-market station which would be a good place to go early in your career. Tom Brokaw got his start in South Dakota. And there are only two guys in that whole newsroom, the rest of them are all women!! From the sounds of it he looks to be in a position to rise the ranks quickly and get to bigger markets. Apparently the situation is so dire down there that they have been coaxing guys who want to retire into sticking around a few months longer, because they can't find a replacement! THEY CAN'T FIND GUYS WHO WANT TO WORK IN TV NEWS, NOBODY WANTS TO BE RON BURGUNDY!!!

The odd thing is that I saw Lynn Sherr on TV the other day promoting her new book on the news business, and she was saying that when she started out she couldn't get into news because she was a "girl" as these managers called her. It was a guys' business back then and women were hardly anywhere to be found. Now, the tables are flipped. Women can't get into TV news because too many women want to be in TV news! So the few guys who are still in the business are getting all these job offers. Meanwhile the women are all fighting off hundreds of applicants for the few anchor positions available. These TV newswomen just cannot win.

The other thing they have been doing is they have been trying to convince guys to move out of their dead-end sportscasting jobs and get them to do news anchoring, and they're finding willing takers. Let's face it, sports is a dead-end. I read yet another article about how sports segments are being cut and how sportscasters are being fired. Heck, it's happening in Canada now. Look what happened at Global to Jim Tatti!

But the guys who do sports are usually very talented. It takes skill to do the highlights on TV, you have to match your delivery to the action on the screen! I know, because I've had to do it myself. It's tricky stuff that these news anchors don't have to worry about. So I think most of these sports guys are very good as anchors and would probably do well over in news if they are reasonably interested in current events and that sort of thing. I notice that a couple of ex-sports guys are doing news now for Global and CH.

All I gotta say is sign me up to leave dead-end sports reporting right now. But even though I have a lot of on-air experience I have never anchored the news. I'm rapidly running out of excuses to not take that pricey TV anchor training that would help my news demo reel considerably. I'd probably need to go to the USA for a job but I wouldn't mind, I like warm weather.

This article is the motivation I need to get myself back in gear in trying to go the news route; there have to be TV news jobs out there for guys like myself. Actually, I go back and forth on this, there are actually other things out there I'd be interested in doing. I don't know if I like the news business. If they only want to give multiple offers to the Matt Lauer types, the glamour boys and so on, well then forget it!! It's never been a case of me hating doing news; it's just the news hates me.

Monday, September 18, 2006

THE CW SIGNS ON--- R.I.P. UPN AND THE WB

Tonight the new CW network signed on with a repeat of Gilmore Girls, a holdover from the WB, as its first prime-time show. Wednesday is the official launch with the new season of America's Next Top Model, a series which of course formerly aired on UPN.

I didn't say very much about the closure of UPN because, well, that network was totally unsuccessful to begin with. Its only good shows over the years began with the famous words "Star Trek"-- the rest of their shows were a joke. It did show Buffy the Vampire Slayer for a while after it left the WB, and also aired Veronica Mars, but that's about it. In fact it's hard for me to get too worked up about the UPN shutdown because for long periods of time I didn't even have access to this network. I eventually was able to watch it on UPN 38 out of Boston for a period of time, and out of Cleveland on WUAB 43. Only recently did WNLO in Buffalo pick the network up.

For all intents and purposes UPN died months ago, most of its key stations had dropped all mention of "UPN" and "the UPN network", even though they still ran their shows. Pretty much all the affiliates in the major cities had dropped UPN in favor of MyNetwork TV a couple of weeks ago. UPN's final show was WWE Smackdown! on Friday night and it wound up being carried in much of the United States on WB/CW owned stations and affiliates, because most of these UPN stations had switched to MyNetwork in prime time and were showing that awful Bo Derek dreck.

At least the WB went out in a dignified manner- it showed Felicity, Angel, Buffy and Dawson's Creek pilots on Sunday night. It also aired this promo as the network signed off the air for the last time. CHECK IT OUT.

The final montage featured a clip from the old "watch the Frog" promo campaign for the WB network from a couple of years ago. And then they showed a montage of the many stars who had shows on the WB over the years- folks like Jamie Foxx, Steve Harvey, Katie Holmes, Reba McIntyre, and the Wayans Brothers. Yes, Jamie Foxx was on the WB; people forget that- it was The Jamie Foxx Show.

I didn't know Amanda Peet had a show on the WB, too. It was called Jack and Jill, and it didn't last too long. Tonight she was on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, on NBC.

The music they played in that final promo came from their 1999 "Faces" campaign- and the footage was collected from all the promos the WB aired over the years. Boy, this was emotional, seeing Michigan J. Frog take his final bow and see the WB network sign off the air. This was like watching NBC or ABC fade to black for the last time. I know some of these writer hacks will say this was a nothing network and who cares that it is gone, but I don't buy it. People watched this network, people cared about these shows! They are going to look back and write books about the WB network and its impact on the history of television and on pop culture in the early 21st century. Fans of the network, especially the teenage girls and the sci-fi freaks, will remember their favorite shows. Meanwhile, readers of the lad mags will remember all the "girls of the WB" who posed in MAXIM, FHM and the other magazines that defined this era. You have to bet these editors are going to miss the WB, bigtime; girls like Melissa Joan Hart and Alyssa Milano kept them in business. These popular actresses made all these publishers filthy rich.

THE WB: A NETWORK WITH CHARISMA

Speaking of someone who made publishers rich--- I gotta say, after watching Angel and Buffy last night, that Charisma Carpenter is beyond hot. Look at the shows she was on on this network, two of the most iconic ones. She may not have been the biggest star on the network, but she was always there. So she ended up being a big part of the farewell night for the WB. Charisma's really made quite the career for herself on the WB and UPN--- and in fact she's still on the air on the CW, on Veronica Mars.

Twenty or thirty years from now, people are going to look back on this actress the way that guys remember these 70s women like Lynda Carter, Pamela Sue Martin, Loni Anderson, Farrah Fawcett and other starlets that defined that period of time on TV. Same for this chick. What can I say? Charisma is the ultimate "girl of the WB!"


(I know, I know... I'm gushing over girls again.)

UPDATE:
Was watching Tavis Smiley's show and noticed they did an interview with Dawn Ostroff, president of the CW, and she talked about the merger and the new season and all that. Here's a profile of her. You fans of Everwood can send the angry letters about that show's cancellation her way. Give up already, eh?!

TV DEATH POOL WATCH, CONTINUED

Still keeping an eye on the TV death pool, though nothing of note has been cancelled yet. Shouldn't be long now, though.

STILL THE FAVORITE: HAPPY HOUR

So far my prediction of Happy Hour being the first one to get the hook looks pretty good; I looked at the ratings for the FOX network from Thursday night and this lousy show was EMBARRASSED. It finished something like #11 ON THE NIGHT, and the only shows it beat were those reruns on the dying UPN and WB networks. It is also getting zero help from its lame Brad Garrett lead-in Til Death, which at this point in time is fighting for survival but doing much better than Happy Hour. I read that it finished seventh on the night, which isn't great, either. Anyway, it sure looks like Happy Hour is in the deepest trouble of any new show. At this rate it will be gone for good once the baseball playoffs start- the only question is whether it will get the hook before then.

We'll see what happens when Ugly Betty debuts in the same time slot over on ABC- if that show does well, then it's curtains for both Happy Hour and Til Death. On the other hand, if these two lame shows beat Ugly Betty, then Ugly Betty will get the boot for sure. But that show doesn't hit the air for another couple of weeks. The only thing that looks certain is this: at least one of these three shows is going to be cancelled. Soon. As in, within a month.

JUSTICE: IN TROUBLE

Another show already in deep trouble is Justice. It started out great, but the show has dropped like a rock in its time slot on Wednesdays. The problem is the lead-in, Bones. Nobody's watching that show, either, so as a result, the FOX network is being trounced on the night, finishing in fourth place. Again, the story is ABC and the strength of some of its shows like Dancing With the Stars, which has been winning its time slot for its Tuesday and Wednesday airings and making life miserable for the people at FOX---- not to mention NBC.

In fact I think Justice is suddenly a serious contender for the first-show-to-be-cancelled title. FOX is notoriously trigger-happy; either a show does well quickly or it's out. I could see it happening. They could just plant a repeat of the previous night's House episode, and probably do better-- because House is the top show airing on the entire FOX network right now. And that 9PM time slot on Wednesday is death. Once LOST starts up again in that 9PM time slot, Justice is going to be FINISHED, unless the people at FOX take pity on them and move them to another night. Maybe this show will get moved to Thursday after Til Death and Happy Hour are cancelled. I gotta say, the baseball playoffs can't come fast enough for the FOX network. That network is getting killed.

As I say ABC is doing pretty well right now and it is entirely due to Dancing With the Stars. They were able to plant the premiere of that Anne Heche show Men in Trees right after Dancing aired, and that show managed to win its time slot so it is out of danger, for the moment. People had talked about that show being an early contender to get the boot. Maybe it will still end up getting cancelled, the ratings are already starting to slip--but I doubt seriously that it will be the first to go. The new FOX dramas Standoff and Vanished do not appear in immediate danger, either, though I hear that the TV fans hate Vanished and are crucifying that show on the message boards. So I think that show is sinking fast.

I don't know how much longer ABC can milk Dancing With the Stars- all the TV news fans who tuned in to watch Tucker Carlson embarrass himself on the dance floor are going to take a hike, because Tucker was in fact the first to get the boot.

We'll keep you posted.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

FAREWELL TO THE FROG


Tonight is the final night of programming on the WB Television Network, for those of you still watching. So be sure to tune in to the last night's programming.

In addition to the iconic programming like Buffy and Dawson's Creek, there was a lot of dreck shown on this network and here's a look at TV Squad at some of those shows. Anyone remember Muscle?! How about Kirk?!

Friday, September 15, 2006

ALMOST OVER

The Toronto International Film Festival is almost over, and I'm glad, because I've about had it with watching movies--- or at least, the ones here.

Going to these @#$% arthouses to watch these @#$% art movies all the time gets on my nerves after a while. Standing in long rush lines waiting to get into a popular movie and not knowing whether you will get in or not is no way to go. I stood at Roy Thomson Hall for three @#$% hours waiting to see Bobby, about these folks who were in the Ambassador Hotel the day he was killed. And I wanted to see it because I've been on political campaigns and would relate to a story where a bunch of horrified campaign workers showed up at a victory party, only to see their candidate murdered. That would be pretty devastating. Anyway, the movie ended up completely sold out from what I was told, so the rush line ended up going home disappointed. What a waste of my time that was.

I did get to see Breaking and Entering with Jude Law, and I was lucky to even get in the theatre that night, the house was full. At least here in Toronto you have a chance to get in to these movies, if you know where to look. In places like Cannes or Sundance it's next to impossible, from what I hear.

I've figured out why I'm not a fan of film festival movies in general. Film festival movies can be no fun. My idea of fun is to go to watch a movie loaded with laughs, or something that has a lot of action in it and a lot of special effects. That's why I go to movies, to escape from all my problems in my own miserable life! But how do you do that if you watch a miserable picture that just depresses you? These "art" movies can be pretty heavy, especially these documentaries. I was watching Spike Lee's joint about New Orleans tonight, When the Levees Broke, and it was the kind of movie that just made you mad at the government and at everyone. They also laid it on thick with the Bush bashing. I wasn't terribly surprised. It was a really left-wing crowd in there, they were hissing Bush at every turn when they saw him on-screen.

Then you have these movies that are so loaded with sex that you want nothing to do with them; they're too gross. There was a movie shown here called Shortbus starring that ex-MuchMusic host Sook-Yin Lee, who now works for the CBC. There were rumors the CBC was going to fire her because this movie's sex scenes were so over-the-top and revolting. I avoided this movie like the plague because of the stories I heard about all the graphic homosexuality that was supposed to be in that movie. No way do I want to see any of that stuff.Yecch.

You get the impression these are movies that academics and the art-and-croissant crowd want to see, but if you are a ordinary person, well, it really is hard to cough up $20 for a ticket to see this stuff. I mean really, you tune in to Ben Mulroney and Cheryl Hickey on TV and you think that this film festival is all about celebrities and big parties. But the hard truth is that most of the movies shown here appeal strictly to the CBC crowd--- and you know what I mean by that. These films appeal to a narrow, niche audience. You have to be a wealthy upper-crust society person to be a real fan of the movies at this film festival. Either that, or you need to be fluent in Hindi or Cantonese or Mandarin or these other foreign languages, so that you don't have to read these annoying subtitles all the time.

They need to find some more movies for the rest of us peasants to watch! I'm not saying lower the standards to show White Chicks or any of that junk- just be more populist, because a lot of these movies looked boring as heck and probably were. The few popular "gala" movies can be a hassle to get into and those tickets cost a lot of money, upwards of $37.50! It is a lot easier to get into these other movies that nobody cares much about, but it still costs $20 bucks. And even if you had plenty of film vouchers like I did, you didn't want to waste your hard-earned vouchers on most of these films- especially if you had no clue what to expect. Most of these movies were films nobody had ever heard of. Something for everyone, my foot.

Anyway, it's been interesting using up my free movie passes on films I wouldn't normally see otherwise. Maybe I should take in a Bollywood movie next--- or something.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

KATIE COURIC RANT

Sure looks from this article I read on the Net that new CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric is a DIVA. Word is CBS has hired Katie's own doctor Jonathan LePook as a medical correspondent! Gee, I wonder who at CBS was reponsible for that hire.

That's not so bad in itself, but word is they are getting rid of Elizabeth Kaledin to make room for him. Kaledin says in the NY Observer that she's devastated. She's upset that all her TV experience is down the drain now that CBS has hired this guy with no TV experience, just because he knows Katie Couric. Well, that sucks, doesn't it? Is this how network news operates? No wonder most guys want nothing to do with this business. But this guy LePook--- well, I guess this redresses the male-female imbalance, eh?

I feel bad for Kaledin. I happen to be a big believer in starting in the lower markets and working your way up, too. I get upset when I see all these idiots with no TV experience thrown on the air in major markets, all of whom look atrocious. Meanwhile, more experienced people can't get out of dumps like Lethbridge and Red Deer because these big-station jobs are being taken by these incompetents. Major-market TV looks increasingly like small-market TV. In fact, the product is looking worse than ever. Now, I have no problem with CBS hiring LePook on a part-time basis as an on-air consultant or commentator or something like that to start out, and work his way up to full-time if he proves himself- after all, his medical degree should count for something. But don't make him a freaking fulltime correspondent right away! This is network television, the big leagues!! Even these lawyers who went into TV news did time at smaller stations or as unpaid legal analysts, they didn't simply walk in off the street!!! He needs to pay his dues like everyone else. And I would have kept Kaledin on the air in some capacity! To shaft Kaledin like this---- what is there to say? This is pretty dismal. Someone at CBS News has fangs, folks.

CBS EVENING NEWS SUCKS

I won't go into a rant about the rest of what I see from the crummy CBS Evening News other than to say this show was a lot better when Bob Schieffer was anchoring. The changes on the show just suck. Before, they had all these reporters globetrotting around the world and jivin' with Bob from wherever they were, answering his well-thought-out questions. You got an informative, lively newscast. People thought it was great! Now, they show all these loudmouthed people they round up from off the street or wherever they get them from, giving their stupid rants and opinions. Plus you have these big-get timewaster interviews Katie does, and more of these soft stories masquerading as news. Someone should tell CBS News that if we want to watch these type of news show that we can all tune in to Dateline NBC! We don't need this on the CBS Evening News. You tune in the evening news for one reason, to see the news! That's it!

Katie also is having trouble coming up with a sign-off line and is asking the public for ideas. Why can't Katie come up with some closing line herself? I mean, the new folks over at Nightline had their act together, at least, when they came up with their own signoff line after the new anchors took over from Ted Koppel. Those three say "good night, America" every night! Here, Katie Couric is being paid $15 million a year or whatever the heck it is, and yet she can't even come up with a signoff line. She ought to get her own act together and come up with her own bright idea for signing off!

Here's a bright idea from me: "I'm Katie Couric, and greed is good. Goodnight."

Oh yeah, and Meredith Vieira made her debut with The Today Show on NBC Wednesday. At least we know what HER signoff line is. "This is TODAY on NBC!"

FOX NEWS BUSINESS CHANNEL GETTING READY

In other news I read that plans are about ready for Fox News to finally start up a business channel in 2007. In related news they hired former NBC Today Show host Alexis Glick as the No. 2 to Neil Cavuto at that channel's business operation. That's a sure sign they have some big plans.

Also read that CNBC is starting a business news channel in Africa. That's right, Africa.

And that's the way it is. Good night, and good luck.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

PRESIDENT BUSH ASSASSINATED IN TORONTO

The big story is all the death and assassination going on at the Toronto Film Festival.

As you may have heard by now, there was a controversial movie making the rounds here called D.O.A.P. - Death of a President. In this movie, they moved the clock up to 2007 and did a pretend-assassination of President George W. Bush. And they examined the implications of what happened in documentary-style fashion. This was a British production that aired on Channel 4 in the U.K. and was screened here at the festival on Sunday.

Well, the movie has found a few takers willing to try and show this movie in the USA--- a deal was done with Newmarket to distribute the film in the U.S., and the distribution deals come to something like $7.5 million dollars. Read about it here.

President Bush isn't the only name politician under attack in Toronto. There's another movie here entitled The Prisoner or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair. What timing too, eh? Screening here, just a week after Blair announces he's planning to quit. And just to show there's equal time given to Democratic politicians, they also are bumping off Bobby Kennedy. The Emilio Estevez flick Bobby, to be screened in the next few days here, was also shown at the Venice Film Festival.

What's with all this killing going on in these political movies here in town?! Seems like all these movie makers are taking out their frustrations on all these politicians, all at once. There's blood on the floor of this film festival! I find it interesting that there was even an American distributor found for this ghastly George Bush death pic. Such a movie would have been unthinkable a few years ago. It shows you how much the political climate has changed down there in the USA. The fact that distributors there think there are actually people in the United States willing to pay to watch a movie about the sitting President getting assassinated--- that says a lot about the President's popularity, or the lack of it right now.

Still, it is kind of sick when you think of it--- seeing a movie screened here where Bush gets bumped off. When are we going to get a movie where Osama bin Laden is killed?! Better yet, why don't these American troops find that guy and capture him already, for real?

AND THE FREAK SHOW BEGINS

That's right, DANCING WITH THE STARS is on again with their season debut tonight. Tucker Carlson! Jerry Springer! Talk about a freak show. At least they have Shanna Moakler and Willa Ford around to keep the guys happy.

Thursday night, it's the season premiere of Survivor: Apartheid Edition. That's sure to be an even bigger freak show. Ain't reality TV great.

2006 TV SHOW DEATHWATCH

Now that the new TV season is under way people are laying odds as to which show will be the first to get the hook by the US networks. There are something like 21 new shows appearing on American network TV and it's not unusual these days for the axe to fall quickly. Last year, there were shows that were gone after just two or three weeks. It's not even unheard of for shows to be cancelled after one showing. It's like the Broadway show that closes after one night ( a la "The Producers").

Officially, this is Week One, and nothing's gone, yet. The new FOX shows like Vanished, Justice, Standoff and Celebrity Duets all made their debuts in the last couple of weeks, and none of those shows look ready to leave the schedule yet. There's also massively-hyped shows like Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and you know there will be an audience to see that. So that narrows the field down a bit and makes the job of picking the first show to get the hook a little easier.

The people over at Brilliant but Cancelled have a death pool going and you can find it at www.brilliantbutcancelled.com/deathwatch. The current odds favor Fox sitcom Happy Hour at 3:1, followed by ABC's Men in Trees at 4:1 and Ugly Betty at 10:1. They also have the lame Ted Danson sitcom Help Me Help You listed among the top five shows that could get an early boot.

Usually in predicting these sorts of dismissals it's pretty easy: if the show looks lame, it probably is. Also, you have to figure any show in a terrible timeslot is likely to get killed. In this case, I am likely to agree with the odds and say that Happy Hour is going to get the boot, because sitcoms are usually the first to go and this show looks like a train wreck.

I was up in the air between that show and Help Me Help You. But I'm more inclined to think that Ted Danson's name recognition will keep his show going for more than a couple of weeks--- all his die-hard fans will tune in. But name recognition doesn't always work. A fat lot of good it did Don Johnson to be on the WB's Just Legal, the show was cancelled after three weeks! I think Ted Danson's associated himself with a loser of a show and everyone knows it, and I think ABC has a lot of stale ideas. This show is basically a rehash of Dear John, the old Judd Hirsch show on NBC. And Men in Trees looks like a rehash of Northern Exposure. In fact, I hate ABC's entire schedule. I think they're in for a really bad year and I think lots of ABC shows are going to be cancelled-- possibly all of them before the season is over.

I'm not convinced Men in Trees will be cancelled quickly, in part because it has weak competition on Fridays to deal with, and people are saying it might actually be a good show. But I'm not going to watch it, and from the looks of it not many others will either- a lot of people say they hate the whole idea. As for Ugly Betty, this show has been given a prime Thursday lead-in to their big hope Grey's Anatomy and I'm convinced this is suicide: ABC is going to get slaughtered by CBS. I don't care how good Grey's Anatomy is, they will have to move that show. I know that people say this Ugly Betty show has been a big intenational hit in the Spanish language and all that. This show got its start in Colombia and swept the world apparently. But this isn't Colombia we're talking about here, it's the United States of America, and just because a show is a big hit outside of the USA means nothing: heck, look at what happened to Coupling on NBC, it was gone after a few weeks! And these Latin Americans have different tastes from Americans; they watch lots of beauty contests on TV and are generally obsessed with looks and fashion and all that nonsense on their TV shows. They'd watch Las Vegas, and Nash Bridges, and Baywatch and all this other escapist junk with beautiful people in them. Americans aren't interested in any of that, in fact they freak out the moment they see a woman in a bikini on TV! So I just don't know if Ugly Betty, a show about fashion and looks, will play well with a US audience. It'll either be a huge hit or a big train wreck, one or the other.

I think the real betting pool is determining which new shows survive to a second season! I've collected back issues of TV Guide for years and these fall preview issues are all packed with writeups of all these forgotten-about shows, none of which survived very long. Usually it's about seven or eight new fall shows that even make it to a second season; the rest are all cancelled. In fact, back in 1978 programming legend Fred Silverman famously junked the entire fall lineup of new NBC shows after only a couple of months. That's every new show on NBC, cancelled. Johnny Carson made jokes about it, said NBC stood for "Nine Bombs Cancelled". And they're even more trigger-happy these days! Those were the good old days when shows were given a minimum four weeks to get their act together. I really don't see a lot of big hits on the schedule this year, I think a lot of shows are going to end up getting the axe.

Monday, September 11, 2006

TIFF BLOGS

Here are some links to blogs and sites covering the Toronto International Film Festival. I'll continually update this post as I keep looking around for new blogs and web sites to add:

hollywood-elsewhere.com
www.moviecitynews.com
www.rottentomatoes.com
www.cinematical.com
www.reporter.blogs.com/risky

That's it for now.

9/11

Well it has been five years since those horrific attacks on the USA happened, and you can catch live coverage and a look back at what happened at www.cnn.com, and www.foxnews.com, among other places. They have streams of their coverage from five years ago. CNN had Aaron Brown anchoring and where is he now, eh?

In fact, pretty much all the big anchors from that day are gone. Tom Brokaw retired, Dan Rather resigned pretty much in disgrace, and Peter Jennings died. And of course Brown was fired. Hard to believe, when you think of it, that all those anchors left so quickly not so long ago. As for Fox News, they had Shepard Smith up on top of the roof of a building. I guess 1 out of 5 isn't bad.

You know, it's really awful what happened on 9/11. Just think, too, if you happen to have a birthday or an anniversary on September 11th. At the very least, all your relatives should remember the date so they have no excuse to not send you a card or something. And everyone will probably laugh about the date in which it falls on the calendar. You have to laugh about it, otherwise what else is there to do but cry?

What can you say? These terrorists have ruined this day for all time. Anyway, check out the coverage.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

AUTO RACING GREAT MICHAEL SCHUMACHER IS RETIRING

Michael Schumacher made it official today; the winningest driver in Formula 1 history is retiring at the end of the season. what's more he still has a chance to go out on top: he won the Italian Grand Prix today and is now only two points behind Fernando Alonso.

I think it's better to go out on top of your game than to leave with your skills in rapid decline. And of course this is auto racing. If you stay too long, heck you could get killed. So better to quit while you're ahead. Anyway, I think it's great that Formula 1 is in store for a very dramatic, big finish to the season. It's shaping up to be one of the better finishes to the season in years.

Who knows, maybe this isn't the end of Schumi's racing career. He's only 38, you know. Maybe Schumacher will decide to join NASCAR too, and beat up regularly on Juan Pablo Montoya and Jacques Villeneuve.

Speaking of NASCAR news, Tony Stewart will not defend the NEXTEL Cup. He was booted out of the CHASE last night in Richmond. So NASCAR heads to the homestretch, the final ten dramatic races for the Cup. But who cares about auto racing anymore, right? The NFL is back!

NEWSCASTERS IN TORONTO GETTING THE BOOT

I want to welcome all you visitors to THE CAIRNS BLOG who found this web site by entering the search term "Jacqueline Milczarek". Thank you very much.

In other news Alex Pierson got the boot over at Citytv and Sharon Caddy left CTV Toronto for Canadian Learning Television. What the heck is going on here, with all the firings going on and people quitting?! Where is Jacqueline Milczarek going to go next, Fox News?!

And why the heck is Citytv's newscast getting beat not only by CTV and Global, but by CH!! That's right, Citytv got beat in Toronto by a station in Hamilton!!! That's really embarrassing.

Maybe it's because those folks wreaking havoc in Caledonia all the time makes for great television and CH has been all over that story with live remotes and the like. I gotta hand it to them, they're doing a good job.

And Citytv has been getting rid of too many people. Talk about a news operation that is in deep trouble, folks. They booted Harold Hosein onto the street, and Liza Fromer quit as co-host of the morning show. And don't forget that political specialist Adam Vaughan quit, too, earlier this year. Vaughan left because he's running for Toronto city council, joining other TV personalities like Ben Chin and Peter Kent in taking a stab at public office. What's scary is that he might actually win and join all the other lefties at City Hall.

One of the issues Vaughan is mad about these days is the rampant media concentration in this country. Personally, I think it's a big problem. I'm convinced the Citytv newsroom in Toronto is going to end up decimated by the sale to Bell Globemedia. Look at their ratings: they're TERRIBLE! Once the CTV takeover is complete I wouldn't be surprised if the new ownership boots every single one of those folks onto the street (except for the entertainment reporters of course). Everyone at Citytv should do what Adam Vaughan is doing, they should quit while they can and go into politics! Anyway, this rant is for another day.

Check out this article on all these anchor changes in the Toronto SUN, that should shed some light on the current situation with all these people getting thrown into the trash can.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

SPORTSCASTERS IN CANADA GETTING THE BOOT

You know, I should be writing praise about Global TV this week, because the NFL is back on and Global is going to be back covering it again. Instead, I'm mad at them.

I'm mad at Global for getting rid of Global Sports, their nightly 11:30PM sportscast. They are serving up a repeat of Entertainment Tonight Canada with Cheryl Hickey instead.

I figured something was askew this week when I tuned in at 11:30 and found Hickey on, but couldn't quite pinpoint the problem until I read an article in the paper about all the anchor changes going on in town. It turns out they unceremoniously cancelled Global Sports, formerly Sportsline, last week due to poor ratings. And they gave Jim Tatti, who was not only the anchor but the sports director as well, the royal boot.

Granted, I only watched the first five minutes of the show while waiting for Letterman to come on, and only really watched the full show whenever Letterman had a repeat. But it was still a good show and Global ought to be ashamed of itself for getting rid of that broadcast. In fact, Global has basically made a hash out of their sports coverage for the past few months. They didn't make an effort with their lousy ChampCar race coverage this year at all, unlike previous years when they would put on numerous race specials and the like, and have their people report live from the tracks. Great, extensive coverage. Instead, they said forget it to that and took their feed from CBS! They look like they are going the cheap route over there. I can't say I'm surprised, just sad.

It's too bad the sports department seems to be taking the knife for problems that really have more to do with the rest of the Global TV junk programming lineup. The ratings for all of Global's prime-time crap reality shows are dragging the network down, and I'm sure that affected the ratings for their newscasts as well. So instead of blaming the prime-time shows for the mess Global is in, they went and cut costs and knifed the sports show, and got rid of Tatti. They might as well knife their viewership while they are at it! I also read they got rid of Jacqueline Milczarek, the news anchor, as well- they demoted her to reporter, so she quit. I guess she took the fall for the bad ratings her newscast had at 11PM from the crummy lead-ins they were getting. Why didn't they simply keep the sports and get rid of Cheryl Hickey? I'm sure her show costs a fortune to produce, too, but I guess she survives because her show was doing all right and entertainment news is the rage these days. These entertainment reporters seem to be the last people to get the boot at these TV stations in Canada, they're able to survive every bloodbath and bloodletting imaginable.

These are sad times for these older sportscasters: I also found out that Jim Van Horne got the can over at Sportsnet, and also that John Wells left TSN for a radio job in Winnipeg with CJOB. Really, the heck is going on here?! Everyone is getting canned this year! This closure in Toronto hits the local sports scene hard. Everyone has fond memories of Sportsline and of the pairing of Jim Tatti with Mark Hebscher, who now is doing time at CH. That's all in the past now--- and it's too bad.

BORAT SCREENING RUINED; NOT EVEN MICHAEL MOORE CAN SAVE THE DAY, ER, NIGHT

Well, Thursday at 11:59 PM was the Midnight Madness screening of Borat Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan at the Ryerson theatre, and apparently it didn't go too well.

It started off great from all accounts, with Borat (Sacha Baron Cohen) entering on a peasant-drawn carriage, and the crowd went nuts. But then the projector broke about twenty minutes into the movie!

It turned out Michael Moore was in the house and he was called upon to help try and fix the projector--- and then when it became clear the delay was taking longer than expected, there was an impromptu Q-and-A session involving Cohen, Moore, and director Larry Charles.

Finally, they announced that the whole screening was cancelled and the ticked-off crowd booed. The whole thing got rescheduled for the Elgin the next night and everyone got passes to that. Catch an account of what went down here at Movie City News, where they mentioned that Cohen, I mean Borat, blamed what happened on the Jews. Funny stuff.

Boy, you'd hate to be working the cinema at an event like that! Who wants to deal with an angry mob? I guess that by having that Q-and-A session they made the best of a bad situation, but still, you went to watch a movie! I would have booed, too.

I saw this movie during the press screening the next day and all I gotta say about this movie was that it was really funny but pretty vulgar stuff--- too much even for me. I didn't know whether I enjoyed this movie or not--- it seemed to be both a brilliant comedic cinematic achievement and a piece of garbage, all at the same time. I guess you'll find it funny--- unless you're a Jew. Or a Kazakh--- boy, did that country end up looking bad. Anyway, the projector didn't break down for the press--- very important.

UPDATE: Here's another account of what happened at Cinematical, complete with pictures. Apparently Michael Moore was asking the crowd what the heck happened in Canada, why did they elect a Conservative government.

STAR! SNOOZE

You know, I get the impression that it seems to be (a) old B-listers, and (b) these younger actors and actresses who are trying to promote themselves, who bother to show up each year at the Star! Schmooze. Yes, in terms of quantity they attracted a lot of people, and sure they're good actors, but really the only big name there that I can think of was Samuel L. Jackson. When the crowd saw him arrive they went absolutely nuts. "It's Samuel L Motherf***ing Jackson!" And the crowd broke out in a chant of "Samuel L! Samuel L!". Samuel L. was soaking it all up.

But really, beyond that, who was there? I know some of the girls went nuts for John Abraham, big Bollywood actor, but I thought who cares about him. If you really wanted to see big stars you had to be at Roy Thomson Hall to check out Penelope Cruz, Reese Witherspoon and Christina Ricci--- and oh yeah, Samuel L. Motherf***ing Jackson was there, too. So you got more bang for your bucks down there as far as I'm concerned. All the autograph hounds were at Roy Thomson Hall. The whole press corps was there, too; some guy from Access Hollywood was whipping the crowd into a frenzy. And people from CTV News were handing out cool flashlights to people which had the CTV News logo on them. So you got more souvenirs and saw more really big names down there than you did at the ChumCity building--- but the red carpet event at Citytv attracted more people.

People were standing there outside the ChumCity building thinking Brad Pitt might show up with Angelina Jolie, or that J.Lo would show up--- but that was total wishful thinking. Brad Pitt should show up for Babel's screening tonight, though. Actually, that seems rather typical of this film festival--- everyone goes around telling each other that every star from Hollywood is walking the streets of Toronto. All these actors are probably sitting at home in LA right now and nowhere near Toronto. Yet people here convince themselves that Tom Cruise is in town, so they hang out outside the Four Seasons Hotel waiting in vain to catch a glimpse of him, and then they go to the Star! Schmooze thinking he'll be there with Katie Holmes, and then he doesn't show up.

In fact it was the same story last year at the Schmooze--- occasionally some big name like Kris Kristofferson would show up, or some big director, and then it would be a parade of people that would have folks scratching their heads going "who's that?" I'm not saying that Sarah Polley and Eugene Levy aren't big names. I'm just saying they could have attracted even bigger people, that's all. You could have filled out the cast of Snakes on a Plane with the crowd that was on display last night. It was Samuel L. Jackson and, uh, a few other local people, plus the usual hacks from Citytv, Terry David Mulligan and the rest of them. I wasn't impressed.

I HEART PENELOPE CRUZ


I went to check out the premiere of Volver at Roy Thomson Hall and saw with my own two eyes gorgeous actress Penelope Cruz, and let me tell you none of those pictures of her in the paper do this woman justice. She is better looking in public than in the papers or on the screen, even.

PENELOPE CRUZ IS A BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAABE!

I SAW REESE WITHERSPOON AND CHRISTINA RICCI!!!

I went to check out the premiere of Penelope at Roy Thomson Hall and saw Reese Witherspoon arrive, and Christina Ricci, and Samuel L. Jackson was there and the crowd went crazy. "Hey, Samuel L Motherf***ing Jackson!"

You know Reese Witherspoon seems like a nice person. She could qualify, along with Tom Hanks, Ron Howard and maybe 2 or 3 other people as one of the few normal people in Hollywood.

There were a couple of guys there with a TV camera trying to get Reese's attention--- some short guy with a moustache was shouting REESE! all the time trying to get an interview with her for some TV show. You know, it would have helped a lot if these clowns had bothered to get press credentials, then they could have lined up with the media on the other side of the street, in the media line! Then they might have had a chance to talk to her!

Fools.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

FILM FEST IS ON

Well, THE CAIRNS BLOG is back with our annual live continuing coverage of the Toronto International Film Festival.

I'll probably be blogging about it more this year in light of my own personal involvement in this festival as a volunteer, but I make no guarantees. For one thing, I may not be able to get to a computer as often as I would like because I'll be sitting in some dimly-lit theater, watching a movie. The other thing is that the NFL season begins tonight. Miami is travelling to Pittsburgh tonight, and this weekend will be filled with college football and NFL action. So obviously I'm very happy and excited about that and will be glued to the TV set. So don't count on me doing much Film Festival posting for at least a couple of days, though I will try and post something tonight.

Those of you who have tuned in to my coverage of this Film Festival in the past know that usually my coverage is pretty bad, it consists of me star-gazing and gushing over some hot actress or somebody like that. No surprise here, there will be more of that nonsense. But I have some big plans for much more edifying coverage this year. I'm going to rant about movies I actually plan to see and give my thoughts and opinions. I'm also going to put up some links to some informative websites that are covering this thing in depth.

I also plan to go down to the Citytv building tomorrow night for that big Film Festival event they are throwing that will be shown live on TV--- I've found that's an easy way to see a few stars, plus it's a good way to find out about what movies are playing in town so that will help me decide which movies I might want to see. Also, I will be in Yorkville quite a bit so I'm sure there will be plenty of star-gazing going on down there. Usually a bunch of gawkers hang out at the Four Seasons because they figure that's another easy place to catch a glimpse of the celebrities.

Actually, you never know where these stars will turn up. One time this summer I was down at Fairview Mall, far from Yorkville and the downtown core. And it turned out they were shooting a movie there, Camille, starring Sienna Miller. So I'm convinced that I might have caught a glimpse of this big movie actress. I guess I'll have to actually see the movie.There was another time when a movie shoot was going on in Toronto and I was convinced I saw Albert Brooks. So you never know who you will see.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

ON "JUSTICE"

A few notes about the new FOX show, now in its second week:

(1) Someone should remind this group of defense lawyers (and the writers of this show) that it is the PROSECUTION that always has the burden of proof in a criminal trial! This isn't civil law, here. The prosecutors have to prove their case against the accused beyond a reasonable doubt. The defense team doesn't have to prove that their client's innocent! In fact, if the prosecutors don't have a case, the defence can move to have the whole case thrown out! They don't need to lift a finger, sometimes! All they have to do is poke enough holes in the prosecution's case to get an acquittal. That's it!

(2) Would you hire these goofballs?! They are always yelling at their own clients, and that Ron Trott guy is always on the verge of a seizure all the time, he is so wrapped up. I wouldn't put up with treatment like that from my lawyers, getting screamed at all the time. And they are always this close to losing the case. If these guys were really any good, they would have objected to some of the outrageous demonstrations the prosecutors were putting on, all this inflammatory stuff. They'd get the prosecution evidence tossed out of court beforehand, if these guys were any good! Trott was saying how they made a point of taking every case to trial, that they don't do deals! Well, there's a reason every case goes to trial: because they're too incompetent to get these cases tossed out! They just want to drag out the case so they can milk their clients for all they are worth.

Really, who'd hire these bums?! Their victories are pure luck.

(3) When are they going to have that big episode when the client fires the lawyers or the lawyers walk off the case in disgust? Hey, it happened before with Michael Jackson. And Robert Blake.

Other than that, this show's great and should run for ten years ---- the reverse Law and Order. And that babe who does the Nancy Grace thing on the show is a riot.