Tuesday, October 31, 2006

THE LAST REMAINS OF CONAN O'BRIEN

Well, I've seen it all now.

Last night I was watching Citytv and happened to catch The Girls Next Door. That's that really lame reality show about those three Playboy Mansion babes who hang around Hugh Hefner all the time. And he can have these girls as far as I'm concerned--- what a bunch of fools.

I thought that show eclipsed Jerry Springer to become the dumbest show I'd ever seen--- until tonight. Tonight in a new low for the TV medium, Conan O'Brien and the rest of the cast are doing an entire show, as skeletons.

And Jay Leno is going: "I'm leaving in 2009 to make room for this guy?" Talk about a one-joke premise. I'm watching this show right now and man, this is bad. Now Larry King is out there being interviewed, as a skeleton. Conan, you are a loser.

Happy Halloween, I think.

THE KATIE COURIC EVENING NEWS IS GETTING KILLED

Well, the last week or so has been just terrible for Katie Couric and her struggling CBS Evening News. The ratings are down to 7.3 million viewers and the critics are crucifying the show, blasting Katie and her third-place ratings.

All kinds of theories are being floated out there for why she is a big flop. There are people out there saying she was better in the morning and doesn't have the heft required for the anchor job. All the usual BS arguments. What garbage.

The true reason why the broadcast is flopping is because the CBS Evening News has turned into a gimmick-ridden newscast built solely around its star personality, Katie Couric. We aren't getting the news from this broadcast, not enough of it. We're getting Katie's supposed big get interviews with celebrities like Michael J. Fox, ranting lunatics with their waste-of-time "free speech", and a running contest to determine Katie's stupid sign-off line. The sign-off line nonsense, with Katie asking the public for help choosing her big tag line at the end of the newscast, has been the butt of jokes from stand-up comedians from coast to coast. In short, this show is an embarrassment.

What ticks me off the most is that when they were promoting this broadcast all summer they were leading us to believe that this newscast would be this big improvement. We were going to get an even better broadcast than what we were getting from Bob Schieffer and his team of globetrotting correspondents reporting in from around the world. We were expecting this broadcast was going to go from good to great. What a letdown for the news fans when they see all these gimmicks and all the other nonsense associated with this newscast.

The one thing that the bad ratings prove is that people don't tune in to an evening newscast strictly to see a "personality" or a show built around a "personality". They tune in to see a newscast. Period! The problem for CBS, though, is that they wasted a lot of money paying Katie Couric a fortune to defect from NBC, and they wasted a lot of money on promotion and the rest of it. And for what? The same crummy numbers Bob Schieffer got. People are calling this show a flop and there are stories floating around now about tension in the CBS newsroom, and so on and so forth. I've seen stories on the Net of the "how long until CBS pulls the plug on Katie Couric" variety. I read in the National Enquirer that Katie is taking the bad ratings hard and has even turned to old NBC colleague Tom Brokaw for support. The gossip columns are having a field day because of the bad ratings.

I think what CBS needs to do is revamp their newscast right now. Get rid of Free Speech and all the stupid gimmicks, and get it back to what it was doing when Bob was in the chair. Heck, that was a good broadcast, there's no reason why Katie couldn't do as good a job on a broadcast like that. But they need to do this right now, because this broadcast blows and it does CBS no good whatsoever for Katie to get trashed in print all the time because of bad ratings.

BIG TEST NEXT WEEK: THE ELECTION

Next week is a big test for all of the news organizations as they cover the US elections. It's getting a lot of buzz because this is the first election with none of the former "big 3" around in the anchor seat. So it is seen as a big test for these new anchors. Actually, one of the "big 3" will be around on election night. Tom Brokaw is going to be part of NBC's broadcast with Brian Williams and Tim Russert. So this is bound to be another situation where the Katie-haters will be all set to open fire. Stay tuned.

BOB BARKER CALLS IT QUITS

Well some big game show news to report. Bob Barker has called it a career as host of The Price is Right. He'll be stepping down as host of the show after the taping for this season ends in December, when he turns 83.

The question now is whether this show can go on being successful without Barker as host. Short answer is no. This show has jumped the shark, period. It's over.

You know, there have been a lot of changes with that show over the years that a lot of people haven't been too thrilled about. You had these announcers who died, and you also had all these Barker's Beauties models who were popular on the show, but who exited under infamous circumstances. I know that Dian Parkinson sued for sexual harassment, and lots of other models were fired. Personally, I thought the series was done when gorgeous Janice Pennington left, but with Barker gone this show really is finished. Barker held what was left of the show together, what with Pennington and the rest of these babes thrown onto the street. You tuned in to still see him say "have your pet spayed and neutered!" because you could no longer care about the rest of this show.

The only reason to tune in was because it was a link to your childhood, seeing that this show was still on with the same people on it, and the same cheesy 1970s sets. But none of the people on it before are there anymore and if Barker won't be there, either, what's the point? It's like having The Match Game without Gene Rayburn, Brett Somers, Charles Nelson Reilly, Richard Dawson, and everyone else on that panel.

Now they are looking for a new host. Who will it be? Bob Goen of ET fame? I heard Tom Bergeron's name mentioned- he hosted Hollywood Squares. Maybe they'll bring Chuck Woolery out of the crypt, ex-Wheel of Fortune. Don't tell me they're going to get Ryan Seacrest. How about Howie Mandel. Yecch.

Hard to believe, but this show actually did have different hosts at various points in time. For many years Bill Cullen hosted the original version of The Price is Right, but that show was very different in many ways and they completely revamped it for CBS in 1972. And I remember there was a nighttime syndicated version back in the 1970s hosted by, of all people, Dennis James.

Anyway, probably better for Barker to go out now--- before he dies or something like that.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

MORE OPENING TITLES FROM YOUTUBE

YOUTUBE JUMPS SHARK, PULLS CLIPS

Well, it's already started, folks. The copyright people are complaining and now YouTube is having people pull down all these copyrighted clips from these TV shows. These Japanese TV networks forced all of their ripped-off clips to be taken down off of YouTube and now I notice that a lot of other clips from Hawaii Five-O, Cannon, Mannix et. al. have been pulled.

Noticed that one guy who posted a lot of really good nostalgia-type TV clips had his account pulled. It's sad. So enjoy it while it lasts, folks, because these clips ain't gonna be around very long. And oh, here's a clip of the opening titles from the second season of Harry O. Much different from the first season's version.

WHO ARE YOU? OOH OOH. OOH OOH.

Speaking of opening titles, you may have noticed a bunch of recent news stories spouting off about the "trend" towards getting rid of theme songs and opening titles for TV shows. They are saying that theme songs have disappeared from TV because viewers are so trigger-happy and have a short attention span. What a load of nonsense these stories are.

This "trend" has been going on for years, for one thing, and the other thing is that a lot of shows have managed to retain their theme songs despite the move towards shorter opens. All the CSIs, all the Law and Orders, Without a Trace, Survivor and all these reality shows, American Idol, House, Justice, Standoff, E.R., Desperate Housewives, Family Guy and the rest of the cartoons on FOX on Sundays, COPS--- lots of them still have theme songs. Most of them, in fact!

So I don't see what they're talking about. Maybe these writers don't watch FOX, because practically all the shows on FOX still have theme songs- except for maybe 24, which consists of a countdown clock drumbeat instead of theme music. And maybe they don't watch the procedurals on CBS because those shows all have theme songs. Maybe these writers should get off the Internet and actually watch TV.

Stay tuned--- there's some game show stuff I want to link to at YouTube. And some funny early clips from the kids show Sesame Street. Fun stuff.

MORE AMUSING CBC RATINGS JUNK

Read this Bill Brioux article in the Sun. He got wind of some big CBC TV directive saying that the network should dial back on the political satire shows that they show. You know, Rick Mercer, This Hour has 22 Minutes, the Air Farce, that sort of thing.

Brioux notes that these shows are doing pretty well by CBC standards, getting upwards of 600,000 viewers every week with Mercer pulling over 700,000. He thinks it's a bad idea to dial back on the satire shows and actually thinks these shows ought to be programmed on the CBC six days a week!

Hold on. I actually don't think this is such a good idea. I think the CBC has enough political satire shows as it is. If you put too many of these shows on you'll just turn off the people who don't like these shows in the first place, and then they'll go "click"! And it's not like these are huge hits. 700,000 is half-decent, but Corner Gas is doing a lot better than that. Most of CTV's lineup is doing a lot better than that. So this isn't such a good idea---- sounds like a quick-fix plan to me. Just like showing hockey games six nights a week would be a quick fix, too. It won't solve the CBC's problems in the long run.

If you wanted to put more political satire on the CBC, I suppose you could schedule a daily satire show that could be shown every night late at night, a la The Daily Show. That's something they could do. But there's too much political programming on the CBC as it is. One night of it is enough for most of us. What I will say, though, is that while programming more political satire isn't so great an idea, I do think more comedy is the way to go. The CBC, and this is beyond dispute, clearly has a rich history as a comedy network. This was the network that scheduled Wayne and Shuster, and SCTV, and Kids in the Hall! They should do more comedy shows in prime time, period. My contention is that these Friday satire shows are successful not because they are political satire shows, but because they are comedy. Period. So the CBC should play to their strength and schedule some more comedy, and get the hottest Canuck comedians on the schedule. Why should The Comedy Network have all the fun?

As for my previous rant that the CBC should get rid of the Air Farce, well, clearly the ratings say this show has an audience, so it may as well stay on the air. It's a lot more deserving of a place on the schedule than the rest of these CBC shows. Look at these figures: Intelligence: down now to 341,000. Jozi H: 233,000. October 1970: 105,000!!! I notice Rumours is over 200,000 now and the reality show Dragon's Den is getting upwards of 300,000. These numbers stink, folks, these are terrible! They have been running The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos every night after The National and it is just getting killed. It's losing something like 75-80% of the viewers from its lead-in, The National--- at least. I'm being awfully generous here. George just can't buy a hit show these days, his involvement in a show seems like the kiss of death.

I still think the big problem for the CBC is a lack of populist entertainment. They need more "cool" shows and more sci-fi, and more of this escapist stuff that the TV fans love to watch. Have you read these forums at places like Television Without Pity or at Ain't It Cool News? This is the hard-core, the people who can't live without their beloved television set!

These dedicated TV fans want to watch escapist stuff. No question about it. They want to watch HEROES! Or Battlestar Galactica! It should be no surprise that the most successful shows of the early TV season are escapist fare that attracts the younger viewers, like Ugly Betty or JERICHO. These are the types of shows that they do episode recaps for on these websites, and these boards are loaded with show gossip and rants. Those are the people you need to attract, these fanatics! These folks don't want to watch Dragon's Den, they don't want to see uptight middle-aged venture capitalists trashing struggling entrepreneurs every week! You know, it's a cheap show and it fills time, and it's a watchable show, I will grant them that. But what the CBC really needs to do is cater to hard-core TV fans and put on more shows like Doctor Who. They need to load up on escapist shows all over the schedule to reel in the hopeless TV addicts who frequent these message boards and create the buzz that every successful TV network needs. Because let's face it, without them the CBC is finished.

That's my CBC rant, now back to Hockey Night in Canada.

Friday, October 27, 2006

BASEBALL VERSUS THE MOVIES

Well, great. On a night when I am using up a film voucher the World Series happens to intrude. I had planned it out so that I would go to this movie on an off-day for the playoffs. Instead, thanks to the weather, things got rearranged. The off-day ended up happening on the same night as FOX's The War at Home marathon, so here I am stuck going to a movie on a night when the Cardinals could clinch the World Series and get all soaking wet with champagne.

Needless to say, I sure hope it rains.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

GET MOVIE/TV EXPERIENCE: DON'T WORK ON SITUATION COMEDIES

I stumbled across this blurb at John August's website about how to get in the door as a screenwriter-- ie., work a good movie/TV related job during the day and then use the off hours to write. This is the advice he offered here. Smart advice about various assistant jobs and the various types of things available, like office PA work.

I have been looking into getting in with one of these TV/movie productions as one of these assistant types, as a way to see the entertainment side of TV. The reason I'd go that route is so I could try and leverage that experience into other positions in the TV industry. I would be interested in getting into independent production and go the Bill Kurtis route, this is what he does all the time and it works for him. He has all this stuff on A&E all the time, he can do whatever projects he wants! That is the life.

What I'd be most interested in doing is getting in with one of these crime-show productions, like the kind that you see on Court TV or A&E. Another thing I'd like to do is get in with one of these legal procedurals like what you usually see in prime time (Boston Legal, etc.), but the true-crime shows might be more up my alley. I've heard that Court TV is expanding, that's somewhere I'd want to get into.

I know, I know, I have ranted about all the crime coverage on the local news on TV and how I hate it, but that's different. That's no-effort journalism in my opinion, covering death and gore, when a lot of other more serious news is going on in your town which ought to get some coverage. The stuff I'm talking about is much more intelligent---- whodunnit stuff. You get to see the justice system and the evidence presented, so it can be pretty interesting. That's what fascinates me, not this lousy coverage of the usual hoodlums getting arrested on the evening news.

The other reason to go the crime-show route is because, well, comedy writing is in big trouble right now. People are saying that these sitcoms are dying out. I read this article in the press about how all the new sitcoms are bombing this year on TV and how nobody's watching situation comedy anymore. No wonder NBC is going to game shows at 8PM, all the new comedies are tanking. Noticed that The Class is struggling on CBS, and 'Til Death is having a hard time on FOX. Also noticed that NBC plans to move 30 Rock to Thursdays in an attempt to boster the comedy lineup on that particular night.

They were pointing to all the dramas and the reality/game show fare as reasons for the decline. The most popular answer from people, though, is this perception that "most of these sitcoms are crap". It's the post Seinfeld, post-F.R.I.E.N.D.S. funk. People think none of these latest shows live up to Will and Grace or Frasier, so they think all these sitcoms are total garbage and that the entire genre is finished. This perception of sitcoms-in-decline is so strong that it is overwhelming all these shows on TV and making it difficult for all comedies to make it. There's actually a number of good sitcoms out there, like The Office and My Name is Earl. I like some of the stuff CBS has going on Monday nights, so it's not all total crap. There are still more good sitcoms than there are good reality shows. But people still think all the sitcoms are crap.

They aren't, but perception is reality, and these sitcoms are in deep $#!& with TV execs because of their underperformance and crummy ratings.

Anyway, my advice for the day is, don't work on sitcoms, they're dying right now. Work on a crime show. Or go work as a P.A. on a game show, instead. Cheap is all the rage---- especially at NBC.

By the way, I really enjoyed The War at Home marathon tonight on FOX. I wonder what we will get if there's a rainout tomorrow- a BONES marathon? Family Guy? This is why we watch TV, folks.

RAIN DELAY

WE'RE IN A RAIN DELAY in St. Louis, so instead of seeing baseball on FOX, we're getting fun rain-delay programming. Right now it's another repeat of The War at Home. Rats.

Actually, rain delays can be pretty good. This is what baseball is all about- you sit back and watch rain-delay programming like This Week in Baseball, or last year's World Series highlights, and other stuff from the vault. Or they would have the announcers fill time with banter, and on the radio they'd have the talk show host come in and take phone calls until the rain delay is over. But this is network, so instead these fools show sitcom rerun programming with a blurb at the bottom of the screen that says "World Series Game 4 - Tigers vs Cardinals is in a Rain Delay. Please Stay Tuned for Updates."

Well, we'll get baseball later. Actually, I'm surprised they're showing The War at Home, you would have thought they would have shown House again. Like they normally do.

Joe Buck is back on saying the rain delay is still on, but don't worry, there's going to be a game soon. And in the meantime, here we go again with a second repeat in a row of The War at Home. FOX is really getting killed tonight.

Monday, October 23, 2006

POLITICS IN TORONTO

I am back from my evening stuffing envelopes, and I've been actually quite active doing politics in Toronto the last few days, that's why I've been gone from the computer. I was at a Jane Pitfield event on Saturday, then there was local stuff. Nothing worth talking about. In fact the good news is that that's it, I don't need to do any more political junk for awhile now, anyway.

As I say, I'm really tired of it and also discouraged and burnt right out, and I'm not alone. Lots of conservative-type people are tired and fed up and discouraged in Toronto with local politics. Already, it's clear to me that many of the local conservative candidates aren't going to do very well in the municipal election. Not well at all. One local candidate I know of has a fundraiser planned, and someone told me about all the problems she was having getting people to come out for this thing.

Personally, I have a lot more going on right now than the election. In fact it's almost certain now that I won't even be in town for the big vote. These political people are all on the prowl looking for all sorts of commitments from me to do this, that and the next thing, all this useless campaign nonsense, but it makes no difference to me now because I won't even be in Toronto on election day. I'm looking to get out of politics anyway. I'm sick and tired of the name-calling like what's gone on in Ottawa last week, with Peter MacKay allegedly calling Belinda a "dog". Also, the Garth Turner thing has me disgusted a bit. Now I hear he may join the Greens. So what! I have a big "who cares" attitude right now to the whole thing.

Citytv hosted the mayor's candidates debate on TV yesterday and there was some woman who stood up in the audience and got the microphone, and blathered that she was fed up because she expected a "non-partisan", town-hall-type debate at that thing, and that there wasn't the civil debate that there was when David Miller ran against John Tory for mayor last time. And I'm going "are you kidding me"? That mayor's debate last night was civilized compared to the free-for-all in 2003 when you had five candidates up there debating. Those debates last time put the WWE to shame. I remember John Nunziata acting like a pit-bull terrier, and Tom Jacobek on fire, and all these candidates yelling at each other. It was actually great television, but it was fierce and loud with lots of interruptions. Not that the debate the other night was any big improvement. But really, what did this woman expect? For these three to agree with one another? In fact I thought I heard Stephen LeDrew invite David Miller over for dinner or something, on TV. I don't see what this woman at the debate was complaining about.

Anyway, that's the weekend in politics, from my vantage point. Suffice it to say I'm just not that into this thing, and that's a surprise even to me, because usually I'm really interested in politics. Not this fall.

And it's cold out. Rats.

ANOTHER DAVID LAT PROFILE

Over at Above the Law, that new lawyer blawg website, they posted another profile of lead blogger David Lat that appeared elsewhere.

Noticed that it mentioned that after leaving his big firm that he tried going the Hollywood talent agent route. He actually worked not in LA, but in New York in the agent training program for a summer; actually, he worked in the mailroom. You may be surprised to hear that it's actually commonplace for these talent agencies to make law school grads start in the mailroom. You would think this would seem to be a real waste of, ahem, talent. But that's how these agencies operate, they make everyone start at the bottom and are able to get away with this, because so many people want to be in showbiz. Eventually people rise out of the mailroom to work as assistants so there is a light at the end of the tunnel, I think. But it's a long grind and a lot of hard work. I don't know why these agencies want to force people to start in the mailroom. I think it turns lots of talented people right off. A lot of people would be tempted to chuck the agency route entirely if this is what they have to do to start out, work in a mailroom. It sounds just terrible, but that's what you gotta do to become an agent and eventually put your law degree to good use.

Lat tried this route out, but then he got a federal prosecutor's job offer in Newark, New Jersey for more money. So he decided to give law one more shot before he eventually chucked it to turn his attention to writing and blogging. Interesting. But as I say, I think it's really sad when talented law school grads decide to chuck legal careers or even law-related careers at talent agencies to go into blogging--- even if it's legal blogging. And it's all because the legal field sucks and the hours are too long, and the people you work with are generally horrible uptights. But that's law for you.

And there was a story floating around out there about some of these political pundits. I'll get around to linking to it later.

UPDATE: Here it is. It was in the Wall Street Journal. I guess I'm linking to this because I've been a "pundit" myself, though in print, not on air--- and on a very minor league scale.

THE WEEKEND IN SPORTS: ONLY STORY ANYONE CARES ABOUT IN CANADA IS HOOOOCKEY

Well, now a recap of what's happened in the world of sports from the weekend.

Lessee. Fernando Alonso clinched the F1 title in Brazil, in Michael Schumacher's last race. I haven't really been following the NASCAR Chase, but I guess I'm free now to tune in to that. That's the only auto racing left.

And went to the Saskatchewan Roughriders game against the Toronto Argonauts on Friday night. Good crowd on hand to see the Riders win what was really not much of a game, 13-to-9. Seems as if the Riders are playing for their coach's job right now. Danny Barrett knows his head is on the line and he basically needs to go to the Grey Cup game, and possibly even win it, in order to save his job. The Riders are frustrating to watch; one week they look like potential champions, the next they look like the worst team in the league. It's maddening for the fans. And Barrett has been there a long time, he knows his neck is way out there on the block.

That's why watching the Riders play is so interesting right now. It's like watching Survivor on TV; one loss and you're fired. Oh, wait, that's The Apprentice. Same thing. This is real reality TV at its finest, seeing Barrett sweat.

And the big story on the local sports news on Sunday was the big housecleaning in Philadelphia when Bobby Clarke resigned and Ken Hitchcock was fired from the Flyers. Big, big bloodbath. Of course, what's interesting is that this was the lead story in Canada. The lead story on the sports news in Canada was this bloodbath in Philadelphia, on a day when you had the World Series going on in Detroit, AND you had the F1 title clinched, AND you had all these NFL games going on. Yet the NHL is so important to this country that these sportscasters here feel absolutely compelled to lead with a crummy story from Philly when all these other sports stories are out there. I'm watching Hugh Burrill over on City leading with this story, with Clarke doing his "I'm burned out" routine a la Dick Vermeil.

And keep this in mind. This story happened in the United States. And this story got BURIED in the United States, too, nobody cared about it outside of Philadelphia. In fact people in Philly were probably more concerned about the Eagles game than this. But it was the top sports story in Canada. WHY??? This had NOTHING to do with Canada, yet it was the top sports story all over Canada, just because it was about hockey! It's more ridiculous hockey favoritism by the Canadian media. Really, the World Series ought to be the top story- especially that incident where Kenny Rogers was asked to remove that pine tar or whatever it was he was juicing the baseballs with from his hands. Where the heck was the coverage from Canada for this story? It's not as if there aren't baseball fans in this country! Heck, there are lots of people in Canada following the World Series and caring about it because Detroit is in it. I know of people in my neighbourhood who went to Detroit to watch playoff games. These fans are getting the shaft by the sportscasters. I know Bob McCown covered it, but handly anyone else in Canada did. I just don't get it.

I don't understand why Canadian TV keeps up their saturation coverage of the NHL when this sport is becoming increasingly meaningless with the general public. Nobody in the USA CARES anymore, the TV ratings are less than AWFUL. They are getting dreadful ratings on a network, "Versus" that nobody even cares about. Nobody watches their low-rated "game of the week", they are too wrapped up in baseball and the NFL on the other stations. Yet people in Canada still want to call this a major sport!

I dunno, I guess I'm fed up with hockey. I just don't understand why Canadians keep cheering on a sport that has hosed them so often with strikes and lockouts and high ticket prices and all that sort of thing. Not that other sports are any better, but it just boggles the mind that these hockey players get away with all sorts of nonsense with the Canadian public.

That's it for my rant on sports; tomorrow I'll be attending to some housecleaning of my own. Just like what happened in Philly, except this time I'll be doing it! Goodday!

Friday, October 20, 2006

SHARK GETS FULL SEASON, RUNAWAY GETS THE BOOT

Some more notes from TV land.

Shark gets a full season order from CBS. This follows the CW giving a full season to The Game. Overall that's six shows getting orders for the full season.

The CW has given the boot completely to Runaway, no new episodes, nothing. Meanwhile, The Futon Critic reports that FOX's new show Vanished is going to wrap up its season after thirteen episodes. So that show looks to be as good as dead, just like Kidnapped. They never say "cancelled" anymore, but that's what it is. Basically.

Now it's time to rant about NBC which, on the heels of its big NBCU 2.0 report about its restructuring has made a few changes. First, the big news is they are sticking with Friday Night Lights despite its awful ratings performance. They have ordered nine new episodes, in fact, thanks in part to the good scripts and reviews. And they are bumping Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip from its regular Monday airing to give Friday Night Lights a shot in that time period.

I think this is a vote of confidence by NBC in Friday Night Lights, and sort of a desperation move, too. They've totally given up on Kidnapped, and I don't think they see much of a future for Studio 60, that show simply has too many detractors. But Friday Night Lights is getting rave reviews and this week the ratings for the show actually went up. So they figure that of the three "big budget" shows, this is the one that might have the best chance to survive. So they are going all-out to try and save it, by giving it a HEROES lead-in. If it works, it'll stay on the air. And if it fails, well, all three of these shows will get the can. Simple as that. At least give NBC high marks for trying to keep a quality show on the air, but they need help.

They have also ordered 10 more episodes of the cheap game show 1 vs. 100 which airs right now on Friday nights. Interesting what they had to say about their big plans for the NBC schedule. They are planning to turn the 8 PM/7 PM Central hour over to the game shows and the reality shows. So expect to see Deal or No Deal, 1 vs. 100, America's Got Talent, The Biggest Loser and The Apprentice at this hour in the near future.

To which I am tempted to say: "and you wonder why they are doing so awful". But they have already tried the big-budget dramas at NBC, real high-calibre stuff, and look where it got them: the dumpster! Meanwhile, look at ABC. They have Dancing With the Stars going on, and they are killing everyone at 8PM. CBS is winning Thursday nights in the aggregate because of one single solitary show: Survivor. And look at how FOX is doing without American Idol. Their ratings are terrible right now, all their dramas are getting killed (except for HOUSE, of course.) NBC has decided to give up the fight and put up their biggest hit show Deal or No Deal in the 8PM hour to try and build up the rest of the lineup. I don't like this move to more reality shows and cheap junk, but who can blame them.

People are suggesting this move to more cheap reality trash is the beginning of the end of network TV, and that the network TV model is outdated and so on. I don't see this as the end of the networks- instead, this is the end of Hollywood. This is bad news for the agents and for all these writers and producers if cheap junk like reality shows are allowed to carry the day on TV. How are these folks going to be able to produce hit shows seen by millions and then have them downloaded or sold in DVD sets if they can't get them on TV?! Pilots cost money, and that's what these networks essentially are there for, to cover the experses!! They buy the shows, and that's how these shows get off the ground and get distributed in the first place. Whether you want to admit it or not, these producers can't expect to ever survive solely on downloads a la iTunes. They need the mass audience and that's why these producers need these TV networks and cable networks or as a last resort, the syndicators. They're an essential part of the equation for them to make the maximum amount of money. But apparently NBC doesn't need them.

This isn't the end of the networks- in fact it's a return to the way they did things in the 1950s, when they carried game shows and reality junk like Truth or Consequences and This is Your Life at night. NBC is going cheap, just to stay in business. Sadly, I think this is a sign of things to come, folks. Get ready to watch lots of cheap game shows every night courtesy of those cheapskates at NBC.

Back to baseball for me---- over on FOX.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

BLOODBATH AT NBC

Well, folks, it's official yet again, the TV business SUCKS.

Today, they're reporting big layoffs and reshufflings over at NBC, and that TV news is going to get sacked, bigtime. No details yet, because apparently it's all underway right now. There are conference calls and all sorts of things happening. Among the big rumors is that they are planning to move MSNBC out of Secaucus and possibly get out of live programming on that channel, and presumably get rid of most of its people. Radar Online says they are going to fire 220 people in news. That's a lot of people, folks.

Among other things Dateline NBC is going to take some hits. Newsmagazine shows have been going steadily downhill anyways; the 1990s are over. Now Dateline is doing what 48 Hours is doing: they are being reduced to regurgitating old crime stories and and the like. Good for people like me who like watching that sort of thing; bad for the reporters, though, because they are going the cheap route.

I should note that even shows like Access Hollywood are taking hits. I read that they canned a bunch of people not too long ago. Even the TODAY Show is getting hit, from what I hear.

This is what happens when you folks at home don't watch Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, or My Name is Earl, or Kidnapped, or any of the other quality junk that NBC puts on its TV screens. This is what happens when NBC's prime time barely beats Gilmore Girls. You ain't watching, so they're going on a firing spree. What boggles my mind is that the folks at NBC seem to be giving up trying to make any headway in news. They seem to believe that news is a non-growth area, so news is getting hit the most and people are being thrown out of windows.

More details on the bloodbath later.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

GARTH TURNER GETS KICKED OUT

Well, it's finally happened. Garth Turner was kicked out of the Conservative caucus today, amid accusations of breaches of caucus confidentiality.

And personally, I don't know what to make of this. I really don't think it is a good idea to kick people out of a party just because you have a reputation for being open to the press and everyone else. Garth himself is unrepentant: check out his web site www.garth.ca. That's the other thing: the Conservatives are all mad at him for blogging. I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I agree that members should speak their minds and represent their constituents first. It would do Parliament the world of good if they allowed MPs more freedom to speak their minds. But this isn't the United States where a guy like John McCain could get away with this nonsense. This is Canada, and Garth was just too uncontrollable. He just didn't know when to tow the line and shut up. I know a lot of conservatives hated Garth. They thought he had a lot of liberalish views and was a closet Liberal. But then again, lots of people thought the same thing about Belinda.

I just don't like this very much. How the heck this helps the Conservatives, I don't know. It just looks bad, and it will look even worse once Garth heads to the Liberals. The Conservatives will have basically thrown away Halton. Also, the polls show that the Conservatives and Liberals are basically tied right now and all I will say about that is: don't people in this country read the headlines or watch the news?! The people of Canada are a bunch of fools if they really want to put either Michael Ignatieff or Bob Rae in as prime minister. Both are disasters waiting to happen, especially Ignatieff who has been shooting off his big mouth about Israel and getting people mad at him over his comments.

Conservatives will say they aren't scared of either of these two jokers, but I am worried--- worried they'll actually get in and wreak havoc on Canada. Maybe people in the PMO should start getting a little bit more concerned about the prospect : it might do their own re-election chances the world of good if they did.

As for me, the good news is that this whole blowup with Garth has helped push back that big envelope-stuffing session that was planned. Good, I can watch sports on TV.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

WATCHING BASEBALL

Expect fewer posts at THE CAIRNS BLOG for a few days as I devote a lot of my time to a lot of other things happening right now--- mainly, baseball.

I'm watching the baseball playoffs among other things, and so I will concentrate my efforts on watching the playoffs. And I'll be tuning in to WFAN to hear these miserable Mets fans whine and complain. After game 3, the Mets fans were all screaming mad and calling for peoples' heads. Inconsolable. They'll be screaming if they lose tonight, but they may be able to rally in tonight's game yet.

I also have political stuff to tend to and that will keep me away from here, too, but I am fed up already. The only reason I'm involved in it is because I was so involved heavily in the past, but I've been trying to "retire from politics" for a while now. I've gotten all my bigtime campaign experience; I'm done. But they aren't done with me.

It is the high political season and one of our local candidates is looking to round up people for a big night of stuffing envelopes...but it's envelopes with invites for people to shell out money for a big fundraiser coming up. That's right, a fundraiser. For the FEDS. What they ought to be doing is rounding up people to stuff envelopes for the ELECTION.

Really, the municipal vote is the most important thing right now. All this is doing is taking time away from helping out these municipal candidates who are campaigning in the election, but this is what they want to do. I was roped into helping with this but quite frankly, the only reason I'm doing this is because I'm such a good guy. But these folks organizing this thing are a little too gung-ho and too into politics. I don't know yet if it's definitely going to go ahead but it sounds like it will, so I'll have to show my face. I'm also starting to get calls from people asking me to join their municipal campaigns and help them lose again. I am tempted to be not such a good guy to them.

I want to say no to helping people lose elections, and yes to the World Series this year. What can I say? I am truly burnt out with campaigns and elections.

Monday, October 16, 2006

TV NEWS AGENT GETS A JOB--- FOR HERSELF

You know, I'm very interested not simply in TV news but in the whole TV business. I should really forget about pursuing TV news as a reporter and instead go the management or talent agency route, because I have a big interest in the business side and feel I have a lot of common-sense ideas about how things should be run and what kind of projects should get off the ground.

Anyway, read that a long-time agent representing TV news people, Babette Perry, was hired by IMG as a vice-president in their Los Angeles office, handing broadcasting clients. What's interesting is that even though she was a successful agent who represented a number of clients, including Tom Bergeron and people like that, she was one of the big losers in the shakeup over at ICM. As was widely reported in the entertainment press (by the real entertainment reporters), ICM bought out the Broder, Webb, Chervin, Silbermann Agency a few months back. The good news was that they created this strong superagency, but the bad news was a lot of agents got sacked in the merger. A lot of highups in the ICM agency hit the road, including Perry. It was surprising because she seemed to have a lot of clients, but that's the agency business for you. I read the book The Agency, all about William Morris, and read about all the firings and shakeups over there over the years. Also read a book called The Mailroom, also about all these big agencies in Hollywood. Working at a bigtime talent agency can be great but it's very hard work, and you can fall victim to some of these mergers.

IMG actually represents a ton of clients in the entertainment and sports industry. Actually, they are better known as a sports agency and have offices just about everywhere. Their head office is out of Cleveland, Ohio. They are known for representing athletes, while ICM is known for representing actors, directors and writers in Hollywood. I actually met with IMG in Toronto for an informational interview about the whole agency business and noticed on their wall there was a picture of Jody Vance up there, so she must have been a client. Their broadcasting division consists of a lot of names from the world of sports, people like Bob Costas. Gretchen Carlson is also a client, maybe it's the Cleveland connection because she worked there about a decade ago. Now she's gotten a promotion to a new job as co-host for Fox and Friends over on the Fox News Channel, so one of these agents there is bound to be happy, extracting more money out of Roger Ailes.

Also watched an episode of Entourage tonight on Citytv, featuring that Ari Gold character played by Jeremy Piven. All I will say is that the Ari Gold character is the reason to watch this show. He is just soooooo slimy, too into the deal and all that, and he's hilarious.That's why this show is so good, because this guy Ari is such a slick slimeball. As I say, I'd like to be an agent but I'm not sure I'd want to be Ari. I'd be more of a Jerry Maguire type with principles, but heck that's no way to get ahead with some of these agencies and my fear is that I'd probably have to be more like Ari to make it.

"Hug it out, bitch!" Right.

TV BIG WINNERS

Well, we know already who are the big winners and losers in the TV ratings race this years. The losers we know about- they've been cancelled already. Now we know who the early winners are.

Heroes (NBC), Jericho(CBS), Ugly Betty and Brothers and Sisters (ABC) have all been picked up for the full season. Not doing quite as well are Shark (CBS) and Men in Trees (ABC) but from the looks of it those shows are likely to be picked up as well.

All the rest of the shows on the air are in variousdegrees of difficulty. Some are in trouble, others are in big trouble. Right now I would say that all the shows on FOX face the cliff, and NBC's entire lineup is pretty much a wreck. The general consensus out there is that Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is certain to be cancelled, though things could turn around. But so many of these Internet bloggers hate this freaking show

Friday Night Lights is getting creamed. I didn't see the pilot for this show, but I did see episode 2 and all I will say about it is this is superb television. The people at home are all a bunch of idiots if they don't watch this show and keep it on the schedule, though it doesn't really seem like a series that has hit written all over it. There's a move afoot by a few bloggers to try and convince all these family-values-type people to tune in to this show, because this ought to be the kind of television show they should watch. These bloggers are saying there are all these boycotts going on of all of these shows; so now that network TV is serving up a family show that isn't a total piece of junk, people ought to shut up and watch it!

Anyway we'll see what happens. Last I checked this show wasn't yet cancelled, but it's hanging by a thread.

BAD CBC RATINGS

Read this article in the Toronto Star about how bad the ratings for the new CBC shows are.

Their new miniseries October 1970- yet another regurgitation of ancient Quebec history again- pulled in 110,000 viewers. A disasterous showing.

On Wednesday night, the debut of Rumours- 168,000 eyeballs. Another disaster. Man, these numbers are brutal. Shows on cable do better than this. TSN and Sportsnet regularly do better than this. NASCAR usually gets better numbers for its auto races--- IN CANADA--- than the CBC is getting for these latest shows. When a sport from the deep South of the USA beats the CBC, I gotta say that's really embarrassing.

And this follows on the heels of Levesque which lurched to similar bad ratings. And it follows The One, which had awful ratings, but ironically not quite as bad as these latest efforts. The ratings on Thursdays are hurting The National. Only 457,000 viewers tuned in to what is now the third-place newscast in the country. And it's entirely because of the lead-ins they are getting from all these flop shows, you shouldn't blame Peter Mansbridge for this mess.

Folks, if the CBC were run like these networks in the United States these latest shows would be off the air immediately. These are shows that wouldn't even draw a million viewers if they were on the air in the United States.
These American networks don't put up with bad numbers like this, they know how competitive it is. So they yank shows like Smith off the air, often outraging the viewers who started to watch these shows and were beginning to like them!

But here, they're afraid to yank shows. If the CBC yanks a show, people will complain about how the CBC ought to be "above the ratings" and ought to promote Canadian content, regardless if anyone watches it. And they'll say that the CBC ought to be there to provide an alternative to all the junk programming shown on all the other channels etcetera etcetera. All heck usually breaks loose when shows get cancelled in this country. The unions and special interest groups have a cow over it, the politicians usually get involved and question the CBC funding levels, and these show producers are all ready to complain to the CRTC and get more regulations imposed. As well, all the inevitable questions will come up about how much money it costs the CBC to develop a show that flops on TV. Heck, look at all the people who complained last year when The One bombed. They were all going "how much did it cost the Canadian taxpayers for the CBC to put this flop on the air?!" Well, the answer is: about the same as it costs the taxpayers to keep all these other flops on the air. That's why you cancel a show- so you can put on the air a show that will be a hit and which will make you money.

But the CBC can't seem to find a show these days that will even do that. You cancel one flop show, and what do you do? You put on the air another flop! It's hard to make the CBC a successful TV network when just about every show on the network is getting beat in the ratings.

Maybe the CBC should simply run hockey games every night. Wait, they already do that--- during the playoffs. The NHL playoffs can't come fast enough for the CBC, they need to rely on the hockey fans to bail them out.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

HISTORY IN EDMONTON

Well, today in Edmonton the Eskimos lost at home to the Toronto Argonauts 28-25, and with the loss the Edmonton Eskimos have officially been eliminated from the CFL playoffs for the first time in 35 years.

For you Americans wondering about this, keep in mind that the Canadian Football League playoffs are ridiculously easy to qualify for. Six teams qualify for the post-season, and for pretty much all of the last 35 years the CFL has had either eight or nine teams. Teams with losing records are able to make the playoffs and sometimes win the Cup. (There was a period of time in the early '90s when several American teams were in the league, and the playoffs were expanded even more.) This year the CFL has only eight teams, so it's quite a non-accomplishment for the Esks to miss the playoffs this year. But till, 35 years in the post-season- that's pretty good. And keep in mind that many of those Eskimos teams won championships or were at the top of the division, so even if there had been a more restrictive format the Eskimos would have made the playoffs often over the last 35 years anyway.

The streak almost went by the wayside completely in 1983 when the Eskimos went 8-8 on the season, but the Saskatchewan Roughriders were responsible for keeping the streak alive by going into Calgary and beating the Stampeders to knock those guys out of the playoffs that year. Last night, the Riders were responsible for knocking the Eskimos out. They beat the Montreal Alouettes 27-26 in their final home game of the season, one of wildest CFL games of the year in fact, and that set up the Eskimos to be eliminated today with the loss at home.

Interestingly, the Riders have an embarrassing streak of their own to deal with. They haven't hosted a home playoff game since 1988. That's 18 embarrassing years, and the fans there are on the Riders' case about that, too. They've been on and off, calling for coach Danny Barrett's head. And that streak may keep going, too, because the Riders are still in third place. And the Riders haven't won a home playoff game since 1976. Part of the reason for that was a record 11-year streak where the Riders missed the playoffs completely. Anyway, we'll see what happens.

LAWYER JOKERS

I always am looking to provide help to those of you hapless lawyers stuck in office buildings to try to find some alternative career path so you can quit your miserable, dead-end jobs in the law field.

Anyway, stumbled upon this web site where they were promoting these lawyers who had thrown in the towel on law and had "gone funny". The comedians were Dean Obeidallah, Betsy Wise, Jeff Kreisler and Eric Deskin, and the one thing all of them had in common was that they were lawyers at one point in time, some with these big firms doing corporate stuff. Now, you've probably never heard of them and they aren't big household names or any of that, but they all seem to be doing fine and working the comedy club circuit based on all this.

So check it out. I once wrote comedy skits for the law school show and was pretty heavily involved in that sort of thing during my law school days. I'm a big fan of comedy in general and it would be the one thing I would be most interested in doing in the entertainment industry if I ever decided to pursue it full-time, though probably not as an actual stand-up comedian. The one thing I've always wondered about with standup comedy is that, to me, it just doesn't seem like a serious career (pardon the pun). It seems like the kind of precarious existence where you make hardly any money and are on the road all the time. But it's a route that can lead to lots of opportunities to do stuff on radio and TV. Nice to know that some people are able to make it.

I also know a lot of lawyers have gone the comedy writing route in Hollywood, which is a little different. But not too much different. They write for shows like The Simpsons and King of the Hill, or for these other shows in Hollywood. Anyway check it out.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

MORE YOUTUBE STUFF

Here's some more fun YouTube TV stuff.

Remember The Six Million Dollar Man? The great opening? Steve Austin, astronaut. A man barely alive. "Gentlemen, we can rebuild him, we have the technology. We have the ability to make the world's first bionic man!" Better. Stronger. Faster.

Well, here's a different opening that was being cooked up for this show- and it features a theme song sung by Dusty Springfield! "He's the Man... Six Million Dollar Man! Catch him if you can, beat him if you can, love him if you can!" Yecch. General consensus is the folks who ran the show really changed the theme credits for the better.

Other fun stuff... the rare open from Danger Man, an 60s spy show from Britain, better known in North America as Secret Agent.
The opening to Mannix, a 1960s-70s detective show.
Also, the theme from The Doris Day Show in 1968. Apparently the opening theme for the show kept on changing every year.


Random commercial stuff: Here's an absolutely hilarious ad for Winston cigarettes from The Flintstones television series. That's right. Fred and Barney pushing smokes on TV. Actually, back then The Flintstones were not a kids show, it was billed as the world's first adult cartoon in prime time. They were aiming for an adult audience, that's why it was sponsored by Winston! Which makes it even funnier.

Other stuff: here's a Virginia Slims ad reel from the late 1960s. Talk about bad ads; all these women who exercised their "right to smoke" are probably all in the grave by now.
A Viceroy ad featuring Steve McQueen. They say smoking killed him but actually lots of things killed him.


Some music video stuff: Here's Nancy Sinatra again from 1968 singing Sugar Town.This was from her Movin' with Nancy special.
And here's French singer Sylvie Vartan singing Irresistiblement.
And finally, Russian girl group Blestyashchie. A ya vse letala. Dig the stewardesses. I saw this video on OMNI TV one time and thought these babes were great.


There's some more good stuff out there that I'll get to later.

ROGER EBERT WRITES FROM REHAB

Read it here.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

SAD NEWS DAY

Well, back to reading the news for me. Hmmm... Kim Jong-Il testing nuclear weapons and threatening World War III, a gruesome sex scandal engulfing the US Congress going on... and now this awful plane crash tragedy in New York City.

As for good news--- what good news? That stocks are up?

Who cares about that these days with all the bad news out there. Is it any wonder that I don't blog much about the news, when this is what the news is? I don't want to watch the news.

It turns out Cory Lidle of the New York Yankees was on board that plane that hit that New York highrise building, and he was one of the people killed. See www.wcbstv.com for the live coverage.

There's baseball on TV tonight, but who really wants to watch baseball tonight after this day. The Mets game got rained out, too--- probably just as well.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

COOL YOUTUBE TV STUFF FROM THE '60s and '70s

As you know by now Google acquired YouTube the other day, for millions upon millions of dollars. A ridiculous sum of money for a break-even operation.

I was reading Lost Remote and those pro-Internet kool-aid drinkers over there were once again ranting about how this was proof that television doesn't get it, that this was the end of television and how the Internet was dominating the world and so on, which is all a bunch of pro-Internet proselytizing, or however it's spelled.

The thing is, YouTube could be put out of business quite easily if the TV networks ever decided to put a stop to all the copyright infringements going on with the service. So far they just see it as a publicity tool. Whenever someone melts down on TV or something nutty happens, like the big Bill Clinton blowup on Chris Wallace's show the other week, the video from these networks almost immediately gets posted on YouTube by the fans at home. The fans are also able to post pilot episodes of network shows on here without the network's permission sometimes. That's why this service is so popular, you can sometimes watch some good viral video stuff on here.

Google figures it would be a good idea to buy them out so they could post a few ads and make even more money. But YouTube is built on quicksand. Without the TV networks cooperating with them as they are doing right now, these guys are out of business. So they have to partner up with these guys. I don't see YouTube as being proof that the end is nigh for television, because the TV guys still have all the power in the whole relationship. The TV folks can still gang up and come up with their own engine that puts YouTube out to pasture. And Google paid a ridiculous sum of money, so much that I think they got taken to the cleaners. We'll see what will come of this whole deal and whether YouTube will be able to keep going in its present form without starting to charge people money for its services.

Anyway, I thought I would share some cool stuff I found from YouTube, some TV stuff from the 1960s and 1970s. The best thing about YouTube is that they have on there a bunch of nostalgic clips of old TV shows and old commercials from years ago. So you can watch these opening credits again for the first time in years. Here's some links to some of my favorite clips.


For starters, check out the open for Hawaii Five-O. It's hard to believe but this show ran for 12 years on CBS. I remember when I first got cable TV in 1978 and found this show still on the air, with new episodes. It was hard to believe that it was still on. Book em Dano.


Cannon. This show was part of the "personality-cop" show trend of the 1970s. They didn't just have cop shows; they named the shows after these cops! Like Columbo. McCloud. Kojak. Starsky and Hutch. Here, it was Frank Cannon, played by William Conrad. And his gimmick was that he was, well, fat. Sort of like Kojak's gimmick was that he was bald.

Harry O featured David Janssen in his last regular series on network television. It ended shortly before he died, in 1976. Janssen is better known for his work on The Fugitive. What struck me was how similar the opening for this show was to the open for Quincy. Similar feel.

The FBI. This was, like Cannon and The Fugitive, a long-running Quinn Martin production. It aired from the 1960s onward and starred Efrem Zimbalist Jr., and it actually was a pretty popular show in its day. But it's a long-lost kind of show. You never see any reruns for this show running anywhere, not even on the places that usually run that kind of stuff. I find it unusual because I remembered seeing this show on TV when I was a kid, and this show ran for a long time. Also, the opening titles here are in Spanish. I guess it was a Spanish feed.

Check out the opening titles for It Takes a Thief- Season 1 , starring Robert Wagner as a suave undercover agent whose job is to steal on behalf of the U.S. government. Then check out the cool titles from season 3.


No wonder they called on Wagner to appear in the Austin Powers movies; the James Bond influence was definitely there with this show. This show ran on ABC from 1968 to 1970, and apparently my local station CFQC in Saskatoon ran this show, too, though I didn't remember ever seeing it. Maybe I was too young to remember it, or they ran it too late at night or something. In the mid-90s, CFQC brought back all these old shows they used to air and showed them again as part of their anniversary coverage, and this was one of them. But as I say, I don't remember ever seeing any episodes of this show- though I do remember Ben Casey and this other junk they used to run.

Finally here is a television ad for RC Cola that aired during the Movin' with Nancy special starring Nancy Sinatra. That special aired around 1968. I've had a crush on Nancy Sinatra ever since a trip to Los Angeles back in 1981. We visited the Movieland Wax Museum and on wax display there was Nancy, riding a motorcycle in her cool miniskirt for her movie The Wild Angels. I later discovered the campy music video she did in 1966 for These Boots are Made for Walkin'. I always thought she was a really cool babe.

As for RC Cola, I know it was a popular drink in southern California, but that's about the only place where it's popular, unfortunately. Anyway, the commercials feature Nancy singing "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad Cola."

That's it for now, I'll see if I can post some more interesting YouTube stuff in honor of the big sale to Google. There's some music video stuff I'll post a little later.

Monday, October 09, 2006

WHAT THE CBC SHOULD DO

Here's what Bill Brioux has to say about the state of things at the CBC from the Toronto Sun. Basically he's talking about how CBC Television is going to lose Hockey Night in Canada, but he goes on to mention the abysmal state of affairs with respect to the rest of the programming on the network. That new miniseries Hockey: A People's History, is getting killed by Desperate Housewives on Sunday nights--- and keep this in mind, the ratings for that show aren't a complete disaster by CBC standards. Recent CBC standards, that is. Almost 400,000 viewers is actually a pretty decent audience compared to the rest of the bombs on that network. But CBC brass were expecting much better numbers than that. The Levesque miniseries was a dud as well, and Brioux mentions how dismally the other series are doing. Some are getting less than 200,000 viewers every night.

I think part of the problem is that we're seeing too many uninspired ideas from the CBC right now, too many ripoffs. We're getting too many "people's histories" and too many programs about our official sport (hockey), plus too many biopics of dead Canadian politicians. I actually think Hockey: A People's History might have done better if they ran it in the Levesque time slot. Whose idea was this to run that hockey series on Sunday nights up against NFL football on the other station?! I'd watch this show if it were not football season. I'm sure a lot of fans would. The reason Ken Burns' miniseries Baseball was such a hit on PBS was because it ran right in the middle of the big baseball strike that wiped the whole playoffs out. They had a captive audience. But there's no captive audience for the CBC in the middle of football season.

As well, the CBC are leaping on the reality show trend at the one moment in time when the other networks are dropping the genre like flies. The ratings for shows like Survivor and The Amazing Race are starting to dip, but the CBC insists on trying Dragon's Den, which from the sounds of it is sort of an entrepreneurial version of American Inventor. Nice try, but I don't see that show being more than a modest success. If they want to be cheap, the CBC could try and put on some big game shows in prime time. But the CBC would get crucified if they tried that.

The real problem is that the CBC is getting nowhere by copying what the other networks have already done five years ago. Their new shows Rumours and Intelligence sound interesting but will need to take time to grab a viewership. But beyond that there's nothing on the CBC schedule that appears to be groundbreaking, nothing that could develop into "cult" status that could lure viewers in week after week--- except for that one hit show they have, Hockey Night in Canada.

Heck, this is a disaster and an embarrassment, the CBC's pathetic ratings. All of us across Canada ought to be concerned that we all are paying through the nose for a national broadcast television network, a state broadcaster--- and no one is interested in watching it. Heck, you look at Britain; lots of hit shows on the BBC. Same for RAI in Italy. French state television is still very popular. We could go on and on. But the CBC--- we're talking about a crisis situation here. This is a channel and a broadcaster that clearly is in big trouble. Bill Brioux is right when he says this network needs to take some chances, but CBC needs more than that. They need drastic changes. They need to be rescued.

I think a number of changes need to happen to get CBC Television on its feet again and turned around, fast.

(1) First, renew a commitment to your strongest programming in news and sports. Build them up, and use the commercial time on those broadcasts to promote all your other new shows. And do whatever it takes to save Hockey Night in Canada--- even if it means splitting the NHL rights up with TSN/CTV. Having half the package is better than having no package.

(2) Build up regional newscasts. Everyone else is getting out of regional or local news and that's a big mistake. This is the CBC's opportunity to get back into local news in a big way and rebuild that crucial relationship with regional viewers.

(3) Time to get rid of these biopics of dead politicians. Instead, get into doing some current, relevant stuff about what's going on right now in the world.

(4) Enough with the obsession with hockey programming in prime time--- one night of it is enough. No more The Tournament or Hockeyville.

(5) Go young and go hip with the programming. More entertainment and music shows in prime time, less current affairs. Put current affairs on Newsworld or on Sundays.

(6) Find the most popular British stuff and put it on the air! It'll make the CBC look "cool" and people will seek the CBC out as an alternative to those other channels that serve up American junk all the time. Coronation Street, Doctor Who, Hustle, et al... good ideas.

(7) Put on plenty of movies with any Canadian connection to them you can think of which helps build an identity of the CBC as the Canadian channel. Eg. movies with Jim Carrey in them.

(8) English language versions of shows from Radio-Canada might be a good idea--- if it worked in Quebec, it might work in the rest of the country.

(9) Develop some shows that might gain a devoted "cult" following. Sci-fi shows might be a good idea- there aren't enough of those on the CBC. Same for shows with mobsters in them a la The Sopranos. But make it original.

(10) More cop shows! Everyone else does them, and they do them for a reason, because people watch them!

(11) Instead of serving up The Hour every night at 11PM with George, get rid of it already and put on a CBC version of Studio 2, that TVO show that was cancelled. That was a big mistake by TVO to get rid of that show! A late night current-affairs talk show would work on the CBC and be the kind of thing that the elites across the country will want to watch.

(12) Find a good original idea for a big money game show and put it on, and sell the show concept to every country in the world once it becomes a huge hit. It would mean more money for the CBC and win viewers back quickly.

(13) Much more "arts" coverage with shows covering entertainment news--- and I mean real entertainment news, not this tabloid junk served up by these other jokers about who's seeing who, and who's pregnant, and whatever.

(14) And finally, more comedy. Come up with another Kids in the Hall-- or something.

I also think the time has come for a good housecleaning. A lot of the CBC lineup is stale as can be, so many of these shows are as old as the hills. Here's my suggestion: get rid of the Air Farce. Face it, those guys are too old. And how long has Marketplace been on? Get rid of that show, too! Life and Times used to be a hit but people are tired of biography shows in general--- time to give it a rest and reduce it to weekend duty, or something. It's time for new blood across the board over there at the CBC. I'm not saying get rid of every show on the air--- if you want to keep Rick Mercer on, that's fine with me. But get some shows on there that people might watch. Get new talent in there! I'm not interested in watching any of this junk on the CBC these days, and the reason is exactly because it's JUNK. I know people trash the movies the CBC shows, but face facts, the Hollywood movies are the only entertainment programming worth watching on the CBC. And it's SAD, but it's the TRUTH. I'll say it one more time: these "original" prime time CBC shows are JUNK. All of them, practically.

I remember when I was a kid watching the CBC. It used to have a monopoly on the really good shows on Canadian television. It would show the best British imports, and the American shows it had on were not just good, they were the best. M*A*S*H! The Carol Burnett Show! All in the Family! Happy Days! The Mary Tyler Moore Show! My local CBC station used to run all these cool sci-fi shows, including Star Trek. STAR TREK, people. The Canadian shows were few in number but they weren't just good, they were classics. The Beachcombers. Front Page Challenge. Tommy Hunter. King of Kensington. Wayne and Shuster.

Meanwhile, the stuff on CTV wasn't just not as good, it was total rubbish. Headline Hunters. Circus. Stars on Ice. What a turnaround nowadays.These days it seems all the best, all the coolest shows are on CTV--- even the Canadian-made ones. CBC, meanwhile, has nothing. If the CBC is to survive in the television business this situation has got to come to an end.

I simply say the CBC needs to forget what these politicians and supposed "friends" of the CBC are saying about what they should do, and they ought to go populist in a very big way. What the CBC really needs to do is go back to doing what they were doing in the 1970s. Put shows on that people will watch! AND MAKE THEM GOOD.

Simple formula, but it will work. Hope the CBC takes my advice so that I can have a reason to watch again.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

STILL NO EBERT

Our live continuing coverage of the debacle that is the Roeper-Without-Ebert Show continues. How many weeks has it been now, five weeks? Eight? I've lost count.

All I will say about this situation is that my regular weekend routine is basically ruined. Usually I really enjoy weekend TV, they run all these movies and some half-decent reruns and all the sports, but I realize what a void has been created with Roger gone. What is there to watch on weekends besides his show? Access Hollywood?! Star Trek? CSI reruns? Soul Train? The George Michael Sports Machine? Infomercials starring Kevin Trudeau!?

Well, at least Star Trek is pretty good, but face it. That movie review show that Ebert always did was always one of those types of shows you looked forward to watching on the weekend. I'm a big sucker for movie shows in general. But as predicted by myself and everyone else, Ebert and Roeper has now completely gone into the tank with Ebert in the hospital. What's really sad is it appears there are some good movies around now which we could get some decent Ebert opinions on, like The Departed, or The Last King of Scotland. Or The Queen. Instead we get Richard Roeper and whatever fool he has with him, giving their useless opinions. Last week it was Kevin Smith. This week it's TV Guide Channel film expert/Canadian Zorianna Kit.

David Poland, who obviously has it in for Zorianna Kit, trashes her and the entire show in this blog post at The Hot Blog. Basically he spends the whole blog post trashing what the show has become with Kevin Smith and Jay Leno and Aisha Tyler, and all these other supposed "critics" coming on to sit in the balcony and warm Ebert's seat until he comes back. Poland actually used the "whore" word to describe the show. Strong language.

He has a point. At least back when Gene Siskel died, the guest critics brought in were real critics. They brought in Joel Siegel, they brought in Joyce Kulhawik, they brought in all these people. Never mind that they sucked--- at least they were real professionals! But these latest "critics" are a joke, especially these ones who make their living telling jokes. As for Kevin Smith, who probably has more credibility than most of these other folks as a director, he liked every movie he watched last week and was easy as heck! So he was no help at all.

Poland went so far to suggest that Disney seemed to be auditioning for a permanent replacement to Roger Ebert. I'm surprised to read that, because supposedly Ebert is screening movies from his hospital bed and is raring to go back to work. At least, that's the line of bull we are supposed to believe. Back in 1999 they said Gene Siskel was "recuperating" when he was actually "dying".

If this truly is an audition session with Disney looking for a replacement to Ebert, and if they decide to permanently put in Aisha Tyler or some other idiot with Roeper, this show will definitely be finished. It will be beyond repair - the credibility of the show will be totally up in smoke. They are better off ending the show than allowing it to go on like that. I happen to agree with the poster who said that if Ebert leaves, he's done watching. My thoughts exactly.

I sure want to believe that Ebert is coming back real soon. It can't come fast enough for this show.

ALONSO WINS IN JAPAN

I was too wrapped up with baseball and the return of hockey to notice there was a Formula One race on in Japan. In fact I wish there was more coverage of this race from these radio stations I tune into: then maybe I would have tuned in late at night! Serves me right for listening to WFAN all the time and their auto racing non-coverage.

Apparently Michael Schumacher could have wrapped up the F1 title if things had gone right. And in fact he was leading the race most of the way! Instead, his Ferrari blew out in the 37th lap and Fernando Alonso won the race for Renault. Alonso only needs one point in Brazil to clinch the F1 title and he can get it if he finishes in the top 8 or if Schumi fails to win.

I'm sad that the F1 season is almost over, but I'm really happy that we've seen actual drama this year. Slowly but surely F1 is getting better and more competitive, but it may be too late for a lot of race fans in North America who have switched totally to NASCAR and don't care at all about these foreign guys anymore. Already everyone in Montreal can't wait to see the racers circle their track in the Busch Series in 2007.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

"GET RID OF HOCKEY AND LOCAL NEWS" SAY THE CBC'S SUPPOSED SUPPORTERS

I had promised to give a rant on what to do to turn around CBC Television and make it great again, and yet I keep getting sidetracked. Meanwhile all these other folks have their own bright ideas, none of which are any good.

One bigshot guy at the CBC has made a suggestion: he says the CBC should get out of broadcasting hockey, and secondly get out of doing regional news.

Great. How about a third suggestion: get rid of what remains of CBC 's viewers.

I know that the CBC is going to lose hockey to CTV pretty soon, everyone knows CBC doesn't have the money to match a 1.4 billion bid. But that doesn't mean CBC should get out of covering hockey. Why can't they split the rights with CTV? CBC can afford a deal like that, surely! Personally, I don't know why CTV would object to a deal like that, why should they want to waste all 1.4 billion dollars of their own cash on NHL rights?! Let CBC spend money on the rights too, and show some games! Besides, Hockey Night in Canada is the top show on CBC hands down. So even suggesting that the idea of CBC getting out of the hockey broadcasting business is a good one is ridiculous.

There are also people who want to get rid of the regional newscasts. These people are used to living in Toronto where there are several local newscasts on several stations. They are not used to living in London, Ontario, with one local newscast and the rest beamed in from Toronto. They are not used to living in Saskatoon, with only two local newscasts and a third one beamed in from Regina. And look at Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Vancouver et.al. that recently had Citytv newscasts taken away from them. I think CBC should be doing more regional news, not less, just to fill this void. Local news is what drives viewers to your local stations! There's also a big need for local newscasts that will get away from the fires-and-crime coverage of the other stations and provide more political coverage, more business coverage, and so on. In fact I would trace the beginnings of the CBC's problems to the day they killed those local newscasts across Canada in 1990, and again when they cut them in half to serve up Canada Now at 6:30PM. People in places like Saskatoon or Windsor need to have a local option from the CBC at 6PM, otherwise it will just be a monopoly situation from the crime experts at CTV and Global!

Anyway, that's my rant about that and I'll get around to ranting about the rest of what CBC should do later.

Friday, October 06, 2006

FIRST SHOW TO BE CANCELLED IS SMITH

Well, it took a few weeks but the trigger has finally been pulled by the patient folks over at CBS. The Ray Liotta thief drama Smith is done. Totally. Three episodes on Tuesday at 10PM, and that's it. Instead they're going to serve up CSI: Miami repeats from what I hear for the next few weeks. In fact, about four weeks from now they have scheduled "T.B.A." in the same time period. So that's definitely the end of Smith, no new night for them, nothing.

What a humiliation for the cast and crew of that show to be the "first show cancelled", even though CBS never came out and actually said the word. But that's what it is, and movie actors Liotta and Virginia Madsen can go back and star in the cinemas again after this flop show. This is not going to entice movie stars to go back to TV, this news. James Woods' show Shark is already in second in his time slot, too, so he's not doing so hot either. People like Richard Dreyfuss and Geena Davis may never return to television again.

Sure, it was a tough time slot for Smith, but this was supposed to be one of CBS' best new shows. You would have thought they would have made more of an attempt to save it. But the ratings this week were a lousy 5.9, tied for dead last in the time slot with baseball over on FOX. And the audience declined three weeks in a row, too. CBS surprisingly said that's it, this show doesn't get a new night, it's all over. Done. Maybe they have no room to put the show, or the demographics were garbage. Maybe they saw the scripts for the next few weeks and realized the show was going to go downhill fast. Who knows. Don't you hate when you watch a show for a few weeks, start to like it, and then the network people give the show the boot? They did it to Just Legal last year on the WB, but at least that show came back and they aired what was left of the shows that had been shot this summer.

So for you folks in the TV death pool, if you bet on Smith, you deserve the prize money. I didn't expect this to be the first show to get the hook, but shows you what I know about TV. I thought the first show to go would be one of these lame efforts that nobody expected to be a hit, like Happy Hour for example. I thought with Ray Liotta in it that CBS would at least give Smith a chance. And people had nice things to say about it, but the viewers didn't watch it. So that's it.

We also now know the fate of Kidnapped. The other day NBC stuck a fork in this show, too, by refusing to pick up any more episodes. NBC has banished what's left of that series to Saturday nights, the Siberia of television, and the production is going to wrap up by episode 13 so that they can sell the series on DVD. So that is the fate of THAT effort. As you know by now Justice is going to be shown on Mondays and Happy Hour - what's left of that series- will be back after the World Series, on FOX.

Now watch as more shows start to drop like flies. The fun has begun in TV land this season.

UPDATE: FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS IN TROUBLE

Here's an article from the Washington Post on how badly Friday Night Lights did in its debut. It only drew about 7 million people and was the lowest-rated new drama of the season, and second lowest of all the new shows on television this fall! Meanwhile that nonsense on ABC, Dancing With the Stars, crushed NBC. And this Lights debacle was in spite of rave reviews from people who thought this show was brilliant television, the best new show of the season and better than the movie, even. If that's the truth about this show, it will be a real shame if it does get cancelled in a hurry.

If Friday Night Lights drops some more with episode 2 look for NBC to bring out the hook fast and serve up some Howie Mandel and his suitcase babes. Maybe NBC will do what they did years ago with Hill Street Blues: keep this show on the air regardless of the bad ratings until the stupid idiots at home realize what a great show it is and start watching it.

Or maybe it's a scheduling thing. Here's a novel idea for NBC: why not move the show to Friday.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

LIFE IS GOOD AGAIN AT CNBC

Dow record three days in a row. Whoooeeee. I'll bet Maria Bartiromo likes that.

This reminds me of the good old days of TV market coverage from the 1990s/early 2000s era when CNBC was doing all that Dow 10,000 coverage and all that. That was when CNBC was really great. Those business reporters had all the fun in those days, and everyone tuned in.

Maybe they'll set another record on Friday, so they'll have even more special coverage. Heck, maybe folks will actually watch that channel now.As for Roger Ailes and Fox News (now 10 years old), I'll bet they secretly wish they had their business channel up and running already, eh? That would have been good, covering the Dow going through the roof.

I gotta say it again:, business news is definitely where I want to be in the news business, it's where the action is and nobody gets shot in any war zones. Beats what these network news people are doing these days, covering that bizarro sex-crazed congressman. Yecch.

FARRAH FAWCETT HAS CANCER


It's news like this that makes you feel old. Former Charlie's Angel and frequent Letterman guest Farrah Fawcett is being treated for colorectal cancer. Sad sad sad.

You know I hope she makes it, and a lot of people are able to survive cancer these days but I kind of have a bad feeling about this one. Just as I had a bad feeling about Peter Jennings. Hope I'm wrong.

ET is calling this story an exclusive, but this is all over the tabloid TV shows so I guess it isn't so big an "exclusive" after all, eh?

KIDNAPPED IS DEAD ON ITS FEET; TV SHOWS GET MOVED

It took a while but the casualties are finally starting to mount in the TV death pool.

KIDNAPPED is DONE. This show was critically acclaimed but viewer-impaired so NBC has told the show to wrap it up by episode 13. It could even be pulled "any day now" according to one source (a blog I read).

So Kidnapped officially gets "Cancelled" but again, it isn't totally yanked off the air. Both Justice and Happy Hour are in a similar limbo, though attempts may be afoot to save Justice. (More later.) And FOX is continuing to show episodes of Happy Hour even though this show is dead on its feet. I'm really surprised FOX is allowing this piece of junk to stay on the air. What will be the first show to be pulled from the air completely? Maybe it will be Runaway on the CW. What, you never heard of that show? Neither has anyone else! Boy, the ratings over there at the CW are nothing short of disasterous.

NBC's season hasn't been very good either. Friday Night Lights apparently isn't doing so hot, and people are roasting Studio 60. What else can I say? NBC is really getting killed.

FOX CHANGES

Found out while watching FOX baseball tonight that Justice is being moved to Mondays, right after Prison Break, in what looks to me like a last-gasp attempt to save that show. FOX was airing promos announcing the move tonight. Vanished is moving to Fridays, and a game show The Rich List, takes over on Wednesdays in the Justice slot, opposite LOST. Details here. The Rich List is apparently a big hit abroad, in jolly old England.

Standoff will also be switching time slots with House on Tuesdays; maybe they want to give House a better time slot.
Also: Til Death and Happy Hour are coming back after the World Series is over, presumably to fill time until American Idol comes back. For all the news on the changes, read here.

We'll keep you posted on the TV Death Pool and so on--- apparently Ugly Betty is the biggest hit among the new fall shows so far.

ABC: THE WOMEN'S CHANNEL


I'm busy watching baseball on FOX and hockey on our beloved CBC, and I thought I'd take a moment between flipping channels during the commercials to rant about ABC.

I'm sorry, but as a guy I can't watch ABC anymore. I can't stand its programming. You know, it used to be that ABC was the "escapist" channel that aimed at a younger audience, and they had all these cool shows like Charlie's Angels and Fantasy Island. And there was plenty of comedy, including the odd racy show like Three's Company. And they had Monday Night Football--- with Cosell. Fun network to watch, guys were welcome any time.

Now, the network has totally gone in the tank under Disney leadership. It seems as if every show on that network is aimed at a female audience. It's all women all the time over there. They might as well change the name of the network to WBC: Women's Broadcasting Company.

Look at all the shows they serve up. Desperate Housewives! The Bachelor! Supernanny! Calista Flockhart in Brothers and Sisters! The VIEW!!! DANCING WITH THE STARS!!!! Gag, choke. And tonight it's Ugly Betty and Grey's Anatomy. Yecch.

The latest rage is that Doctor McSteamy guy on Grey's Anatomy. All these entertainment news shows are all over that, but I'm not impressed. Who wants to see that--- except women.

Meanwhile ABC has been getting rid of shows that attract a male audience. If you want to see Monday Night Football, forget about ABC. Instead, tune in to ESPN like all the other males. What shows are left on ABC that are aimed at guys? According to JIM?! Boston Legal? HA! I guess LOST counts, sort of- at least it doesn't repel the guys. And we still have Saturday Night Football (college football) and Jimmy Kimmel late at night. That's it! Otherwise, it's the women's channel.

Even these home renovation shows and these America's Funniest Video shows are a waste of time for us guys. Who wants to watch that except the moms out there. Really, ABC seems to run more total dreck than any other network, more even than FOX. (At least NBC is giving an honest effort, not too much complete junk over there.)

I gotta say I am completely fed up with the lack of good programming aimed at guys on the TV screens in general. If you want decent programming for guys, you either have to tune in to cable to watch Entourage or the Sopranos, or stay up late to watch the late-night comedians. That's it! If it wasn't for Comedy Central and Spike TV, there'd be nothing for guys to watch on television. I'm dead serious about this. Look at network television. There aren't enough gritty cop shows on the air, and nothing with any spies or real action in it anymore. Instead it's all this serialized nonsense. Now, I know NBC is trying to attract some males to watch The Office, and My Name is Earl; I know that Jaime Pressly is very popular among the guys. And the Deal or No Deal babes are worth watching, too. But what else is there for guys to watch on TV, generally? Survivor?! The Biggest Loser? There just aren't an abundance of shows on the air loaded with steamy actresses to keep the guys happy- especially now that the WB is defunct. And especially now that Fear Factor is gone- Fear Factor always had gorgeous women on it eating bugs and stuff. These days, the only thing guys have to look forward to ogling on network TV is Jaime Pressly. ( That overexposed, boring publicity-whore Eva Longoria, pictured, doesn't count.) Meanwhile, the women get these McSteamy-type hunks on every show on ABC- they're all over Grey's Anatomy and Desperate Housewives. And these guys never seem to wear very much, either.

Even these procedurals all over the CBS schedule are aimed at a female audience. I read that Les Moonves did some research that showed that these CSI and Without a Trace-type shows always got a big female audience, so that's why they keep putting these things on. It's not because the guys are watching, that's for sure. At least the procedural shows on CBS are watchable- a lot more so than the repulsive dreck on ABC. And FOX has plenty of sports to show, so that makes up for the fact that they run American Idol. ABC, however, has no such excuses. I'm sorry, but as a male I gotta say ABC's programming is garbage.

That's my rant for tonight! Back to baseball for me, on FOX!