Friday, January 30, 2009

ASSORTED JUNK FROM ME

Some stuff:
First, here's my Reject Report for this weekend.

Also, here's a story on the sad times in Hollywood news reporting, with the increasing worry that Hollywood will become a one-paper town as the war between Variety and Hollywood Reporter becomes a slow deathmatch. Rumors are flying the Reporter won't last another year. Also, word is that Variety Asia maybe is bellyup.

Only good news to report is that Sharon Waxman's new Hollywood news website The Wrap is now up and running. Great timing, eh? Launch a website in the middle of a raging recession.

As the serious Hollywood journalists lose their jobs, the not-as-serious ones are busy covering Jessica Simpson's weight. This was the top story tonight on The Insider!! You have got to be kidding me. Aren't you fed up seeing these TV shows cover weight issues of celebrities, celebrity baby news, celebrity pregnancies, celebrity marriages, divorces and affairs, and whatever else? Really, these folks need to start caring about the movies and TV shows these stars do, because we're getting NO information about any of that these days from these people.

Rod Blagojevich has finally been removed from office in Illinois.

And finally, this is Super Bowl weekend and this is what you can look forward to as far as the advertising goes on TV. But a lot of companies aren't advertising this year because of lack of funds. Also. a lot of the Super Bowl parties have been cancelled, and even the Lingerie Bowl has gotten the boot.

That's all for now.

TRANQUILITY RETURNS TO POLITICS IN FROZEN CANADA

Well, Canada's budget was brought down this week. Even though a lot of silly fools in the media were playing up how coy the new Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff was and how the fate of the government rested in his hands and so on, the fact is we all knew the Libs would come up with amendments or something so that they can wiggle their way out of that disasterous "coalition" they had going with the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois.

That's exactly what the Liberals did-- wiggle their way out. And now the coalition is dead.

All in all, the Liberals come out of this week looking a lot better than they have looked in a while. Ignatieff comes off looking like a responsible individual (as opposed to his inept predecessor Stephane Dion) and the Liberals are back to being themselves instead of power-hungry quasi-socialists. And the big loser this week is undoubtedly, unquestionably Jack Layton (pictured). This whole "coalition" was his great idea, and he would have stood to gain six cabinet ministers for his party in the whole deal. Now after eight weeks this "coalition", that undemocratic "government that never was", has fallen apart. Good.

Now Layton is back to being his usual self on the sidelines, and the NDP are buying TV ads to trash the Liberals for entering into their own "coalition" with the Conservatives. What baloney. Jack, you are a loser, and a sore loser at that.

So all is back to being well in Canuck politics. Unfortunately, thanks to the infamous "coalition" the Harper Tories had to embark on a wild spending spree to save their government. Now we Canadians are all holding the bag with a five-year budget deficit of $85 billion.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

OTHER NEWS I'M MAD ABOUT

Anne Thompson has gotten the boot at Variety.

It's confirmed, folks -- people DON'T read anymore.

NEWS I'M QUITE MAD ABOUT

What, me worry? Yes. The usual gang of idiots are reducing the publishing schedule of iconic MAD Magazine to only four issues a year. I used to love to read MAD growing up -- although the key word is "used to." Still, this is not good news.

Boy, is the entire publishing industry on this side of the world in trouble, or what? Don't people read anymore?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

RED CARPET STUFF

Was watching the Red Carpet for the SAG Awards in between the NHL All-Star Game. I notice Angelina Jolie (pictured) and Brad Pitt were getting asked all kinds of dumb questions on the red carpet by people. You know, questions about their spouse and how much they love each other, and the usual questions about what they were wearing. Yada yada yada. Real riveting stuff that the world is dying to know. Meanwhile all the fans were waving all these magazines at them, trying to get their autographs.

You know -- after looking at that scene I don't think the ratings for the Oscars will go down this year at all. Not one bit. And the reason why is because you can bet Brad and Angie will be there, on the red carpet. And so will all these drooling entertainment "journalists", all of whom will continue their obsessive live continuing coverage of the state of the relationship. Not to mention, of course, the continuing coverage of the jealous rage of that woman spurned, Jennifer Aniston.

I'll bet these reporters on the red carpet don't even care what movies these folks were in! It truly is getting to be a joke, what passes for entertainment coverage in the United States.

Anyway -- the big question I still have is whether these folks at SAG are going to go on strike?! Make up your minds, folks, finally.

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PROGRAMMING NOTES FOR THE NEXT FEW DAYS

Don't expect much posting here because for the next three days I'm basically going to have no life. I'll try and link to my box office results column when it goes up, but that will be the only new stuff in store for you here, because I am going to be swamped. Don't worry, though. To quote Arnold Schwarzenegger: I'll be back.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

NOT MUCH SPORTS GOING ON THIS SATURDAY NIGHT

Well, the NFL has the weekend off prior to the Super Bowl. And the NHL has its All-Star weekend in Montreal (which might as well also be a weekend off).

So I'm just staying in, beating the cold and checking out the gorgeous babes in their bikinis on TV in the Miss America Pageant.

It's great being single.

Friday, January 23, 2009

ON THOSE NON-POPULIST OSCAR NOMINATIONS

Well, my box office column, where I normally predict the weekend's hit movies, turned into a big rant this week about the Oscar nominations and how un-populist they were, and how there's a big divide between the movies that are up for Oscars and what the public actually goes to see. Quite a massive divide, in fact.

Not a SINGLE one of the movies up for Best Picture has won the weekend box office yet. In fact, as I pointed out, a lot of people haven't even seen these movies to begin with, because most of these flicks haven't started going wide until this weekend.

Meanwhile, three good movies released in 2008 that created the most excitement among audiences and critics alike (The Dark Knight, WALL-E, Gran Torino) either were relegated to the tech awards or got the shaft completely.

I'm not the only one spouting off on this subject. Steve Mason over at Big Hollywood said basically the same thing, except with more facts and figures to back his case up. He points to 2005 as the year the Oscars went off the rails as far as reflecting the general public's tastes, and he is predicting the TV ratings for this year's Oscar show will go in the sink.

Heck, I can go back even further than 2005 to see where the problems began. I think it all started going haywire back in the year that E.T. lost.

I mean -- I see E.T. at the cinema, and I'm in tears watching E.T. go home at the end of the movie, and I come out of there thinking this was the greatest movie I've ever seen. I was moved, it was awesome.

So what happens? On Oscar night, I'm sitting in front of the TV watching these stupid Academy voters give the Best Picture Oscar to, you guessed it -- Gandhi!!!!

I'm still mad about that.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

OSCAR NOMINATIONS

No Dark Knight in the Best Picture category! No WALL-E either, and Gran Torino completely shut out!

Read about the nominations here at The Envelope.

CANWEST, CTV THINKING OF CLOSING TV STATIONS

You know, I had thought that Canwest wasn't serious about potentially closing down TV stations like CHCH Hamilton and these other ones that are part of the E! chain across Canada.

But that's apparently exactly what these clowns are thinking about. Both Canwest and CTV are apparently plotting to go to the CRTC to give a big sob story about how these local stations in the smaller markets are losing money, so they are thinking of closing them down.

Apparently the A-Channel stations in places like Barrie and London might be some of the ones on the CTV hit list, according to that Globe article I just linked to. That boggles the mind because they just acquired those stations. They bought them, and now they want to close them down? That makes no sense.

Maybe what they are planning to do is just deliver a feed from Toronto or wherever. Which is a disgrace, because it would deprive people in these communities of local programming and local news. This news report can't be serious, can it? I hope not.

Monday, January 19, 2009

OBAMA INAUGURATION COVERAGE

Just want to add some links to Barack Obama inauguration coverage for January 20th.

CBS News
ABC News
CNN
FOX News
NBC

That's all I'm putting up. Also don't expect to see any liveblogging from me -- I have a day job, after all.

WINNERS

Can you believe the Arizona Cardinals are going to the Super Bowl?!

I mean, Kurt Warner -- I believe that part of it. But the rest of that team?! That franchise has got to be the Chicago Cubs of pro football!

Hey, look on the bright side -- if you're a Detroit Lions fan there is hope for you yet.

Also, Paul Blart: Mall Cop won at the box office and there's no coherent explanation for that, either.

Weird times we live in, folks.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

257 CHANNELS AND NOTHING ON

I guess this post is just my chance to rant and rave about all the TV happenings and all the junk I must wade through to find any shows that are good these days.

I switched cable providers recently and as part of my new deal I am getting a preview period over the next several weeks where I get access to just about every cable channel these guys offer. So I am getting quite a few channels that my old system didn't have -- like RDS, which is basically the French language version of TSN. (TSN is the Canadian version of ESPN for you folks in the USA scratching your heads.) It was great watching that channel on Saturday night showing a Canadiens game. It was just like watching Hockey Night in Canada -- as it used to be, because RDS is using the old Hockey Night in Canada theme as part of their broadcast. So I thought that was kind of neat.

The sports channels like NFL Network are pretty decent. They also show some of these so-called US superstations such as WPIX in New York and WGN in Chicago. Good news for hockey fans -- WGN now shows NHL games.

But I gotta say, so much of what is on these channels is utter crap. A lot of these cable channels are so obscure that it's a wonder that anyone watches them. There's one called Drive-In Classics, which sounds good in theory until you realize that the channel seems to exist just to show reruns of The Incredible Hulk. Then you have Game Show Network, which used to be good for showing all these retro game shows like Match Game and the rest. Unfortunately, I guess I joined their package a few years too late, because all they seem to show are games like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, which you can tune into elsewhere. I guess they show some of these gems like What's My Line and To Tell the Truth in the wee hours.

Then you have all these channels like the ones under the Discovery banner and the ones Canwest seems to own, which seem to show endless reruns and other cheap junk. Why the heck aren't there more channels showing scripted series and other good stuff? It seems the shows I really want to see on TV just aren't being shown anywhere, not even on these channels that are way up the dial.

I'm also getting some channels from the Toronto area on cable, and I'm really glad to be getting TV from Toronto again. The problem is that some of these stations from there have gone straight down the tubes in no time.

I have got to say: what's happened to Citytv?? That channel has gone right to the dogs after the CTV takeover/pillaging/dumping. So much of what made that station what it is has flown the coop under the new Rogers ownership. A lot of the familiar programming has either left for CTV or been cancelled. Fashion Television, gone. MovieTelevision, gone. Speaker's Corner, gone. The Baby Blue movies, gone. Ed's Night Party, gone. The New Music, gone. Marilyn Denis used to host CityLine -- the show is still there, but she's gone. Even the news is different, ever since the name change from CityPulse to CityNews some years ago.

I'm also particularly ticked off that Citytv cancelled the poker programming they ran late at night on Sundays. It was good entertainment and a perfect way to put people to sleep. Anyway, it's gone, too.

What really strikes me is that Citytv has gotten rid of most of its movies. Movies used to absolutely dominate the Citytv schedule during the day and well into the night. They branded it as "Great Movies"; late at night they were known as "Late Great Movies." I remember that on nights when I was up late at night and couldn't sleep, I would tune in the TV and notice that City would still be running movies while every other station in town was showing a test pattern or something.

I am guessing that the movie library had to have been negotiated away during the CTV-Rogers talks. If this was a conscious decision by Rogers to get rid of the movies I would be surprised.

Anyway, the weekend and late night lineup from Citytv looks like a wreck. We're getting Judge Joe Brown and dreck infomercials from Citytv late at night. That's another thing, too -- the "old" Citytv NEVER seemed to run infomercials very often. Hardly ever. Do you expect viewers to be amused?

Why am I not surprised this happened? All in all I cannot say I am too impressed with the "new" Citytv, and a lot of other people aren't impressed either.

That's nothing, though, compared to the carnage wrought on CHCH ever since Canwest Global took over that operation. Historically, the station served as an independent with a focus on Hamilton-Niagara, and stayed that way even when Canwest took it over. But now the station has gone straight down the tubes after the switchover in 2007 to become part of the E! Network in Canada.

That station is totally unrecognizable now. It now runs all these "E! True Hollywood Stories" and other stuff from that channel. From time to time they'll show the local news, which looks totally out of place among this lineup. The channel basically looks like a cable station now.

I've been reading about Canwest's troubles and there are rumors floating out there now that the company may dump E! completely. I guess the network has been a big flop. So there is a lot of uncertainty out there about CHCH and what the future holds. I doubt the station will be closed down -- it's the only TV station in Hamilton. But I wouldn't be surprised to see a sale and for CHCH to dump its affiliation with this ridiculous E! network.

Anyway, that is my rant about TV for now.

(UPDATE - Feb 10) - You know what? It's even worse than I thought over at Citytv. Not only did they can a bunch of shows and get rid of the movies, but Rogers threw the entire Citytv entertainment unit onto the street, too! That's Liz West and Larysa Harapyn out of jobs. Considering that Citytv's entertainment unit was basically the backbone of the whole operation for so many years, that's quite a reversal. Oh, and I forgot to mention how they got rid of both Peter Silverman and weatherman Harold Hosein

ON THE UPSET-FILLED NFL PLAYOFFS

Well, the NFL playoffs have been absolutely unpredictable this year. All the big-name teams that everyone was talking about before the season - and through the season - are now out. Gone.

Some of the main contenders fell by the wayside before the playoffs even began, with New England and Dallas eliminated on the last day of the season. Then came the playoffs, and the upsets kept on coming, with the Philly Eagles winning on the road in Minnesota and Baltimore winning on the road in Miami. An 8-8 San Diego team that had to go on a winning streak just to get into the playoffs shocked Indianapolis in overtime to advance, and a highly-regarded Atlanta Falcons team fell to the Arizona Cardinals.

And then came last week's upsets: Arizona knocking off Carolina. Baltimore shocking the top-seeded Tennessee Titans in the AFC. Then the Eagles took down the biggest scalp of all when they knocked off the Super Bowl Champion Giants.

So here we have Arizona Cardinals at home versus the Philadelphia Eagles in a matchup no one could have predicted for the NFC title. Who would have thought that Arizona would be HOSTING the title game, let alone be in it? And Philly needed a miracle to happen just to get into the playoffs.

Meanwhile the AFC nod will be coming down to the matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, in Pittsburgh. I think it's fair to say the recession's hit these football gamblers in Las Vegas, because they're bound to have lost a lot of money predicting these playoffs.

What the heck is going to happen this weekend? If it holds to form we'll see road teams winning again, and we may see Philadelphia take on Baltimore in the Super Bowl in two weeks in Tampa. Or we could see Pittsburgh take on Philly-- in which case they might as well move the Super Bowl game to Pennsylvania. It would save people money in these hard economic times.

Speaking of which -- is anyone even going to be advertising in the big Super Bowl game? So many of them have flown the coop.

FAREWELL TO GREAT MOMENTS IN PRESIDENTIAL SPEECHES

Well, the George W. Bush presidency is finally over (as of Tuesday) - and unfortunately, so is David Letterman's nightly segment making fun of him every night on the Late Show, entitled "Great Moments in Presidential Speeches."

Here's a final compilation of Bush speeches. After viewing this, I am sure you will have to agree with me that Bush has old Jerry Ford all beat in the "klutz" department. Check it out, it's funny stuff. (Courtesy CBS.)

Friday, January 16, 2009

TV AND MOVIE NEWS FROM NOWHERE

This was a very big week in the world of TV and there was also some movie news to report, so I will do that in my special News from Nowhere about the entertainment industry.

First off, American Idol is back! Yes, the top show on American TV is back with a new judge, but with the same embarrassing singers. One of them sang in a bikini this week, which amused a lot of people.

Honestly, though, isn't this show on its last legs by now? In fact, all of reality TV ought to be on its last legs. People should be fed up with this "fake" reality when the "true" reality of what's happening in the USA is all too real.

Oh, and The Bachelor is also back on. Aren't people wise to that show by now? This show can't get a couple hitched to save its life. Who really thinks this show has any credibility left as a way to hook up and meet your dream woman??

Here in frozen Canada some new TV shows are on.

In the frozen USA we are one month away from the Feb 17th 2009 digital switch (as those of you who watch American broadcast TV no doubt know by now, since every local TV news show has been going nuts promoting it.) It could get delayed, though.

Movie news: the Sundance Film Festival is on. Read about it here, here and here. And here.
Also, my weekend box office picks as Hollywood threatens to go to the dogs, again.

The Watchmen lawsuit has been settled and the movie will be released, on time, by the WB. Presumably 20th Century Fox gets a chunk of change over this.

Ricardo Montalban is dead. Also: Patrick McGoohan is also dead.

Things could be looking up for Canada as far as luring US movie productions up here is concerned.

And here's the latest tactic in the continuing SAG saga of whether or not they will be going on strike.

That's it for right now. A reminder to myself to post something about the NFL playoffs soon.

IT FIGURES

Leave it to exiting President George W. Bush to schedule his farewell address to the nation on the same day that the miracle on the Hudson happened.

He can't even give a farewell address without it being upstaged or ruined.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

CLINT EASTWOOD KILLS AT THE BOX OFFICE

Gran Torino was the surprise winner this weekend at the box office.

And in the big awards race this weekend it was Kate Winslet, Mickey Roarke and Slumdog Millionaire winning the Golden Globes. Oh, and Tina Fey won again, too.

JACK BAUER VERSUS THE GOLDEN GLOBES

I'm back.

You know what? I just don't feel like live-blogging or giving you updates on what's left of the Golden Globes show. I think I'm going to tune in to the season premiere of 24 instead.

Nice genius counter-programming by the folks over at FOX. Way to go.

GOLDEN GLOBES ARE ON TONIGHT

I dunno if I will be around for the Golden Globes tonight -- I have a reporting commitment to attend to late in the afternoon. We'll see. Here's a link to ET Online and I'll try and add some more links later if I happen to get back in time for the big awards show.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

SUPER PRESIDENT

As someone who is very proud of my own comic-book collecting past, I find it very amusing that incoming President Barack Obama was apparently a big comic-book collector in his day. He was a big fan of Spider-Man apparently.

Well, Marvel Comics has decided to put Obama's mug on the cover of a coming issue of The Amazing Spider-Man. Man, for Obama this has got to be bigger than winning the White House. This is a geek's dream come true.

I wonder if we could see the White House incorporated in the comics in the future. Incidentally, there was an actual Saturday-morning TV show called Super President where the commander-in-chief would serve as President by day and as a superhero by night. Who knows. Maybe Obama is up for being the USA's first superhero President.

Heck, he'll have to find superhuman powers to dig the USA out of all the problems it faces these days.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

HOWIE KURTZ DOES A PIECE ON FOXY BUSINESS BABE LIZ CLAMAN

Read this piece in the Washington Post about Liz Claman's career in TV business news and how she bolted CNBC, where she was marooned in the middle of the pecking order there, and went to Fox Business.

She might as well have left CNBC if that was her situation there. If you're stuck in the trenches of business news at some channel, you pretty much have to go somewhere else where you can be a top dog. Otherwise, they'll find a way to fire you.

Business news is a cutthroat business. You're either Number One, or you're FINISHED. Heck, look at all the people CNN fired from its business news ranks over the years.

Anyway, check out that article. Also, I heard that the Foxy Business Babes network (as I call it) got kicked off of Sirius XM radio, which is too bad because I just got satellite radio. Rats. I guess I'll have to listen to Bloomberg now or something else late at night (when the markets are open in Asia).

ON THE WHOLE TORY SITUATION IN ONTARIO

As you may know, in between my reporting activities I was once active in politics in Ontario on a grassroots basis. I had some pretty extensive roles on a couple of John Tory's campaigns (I say "extensive" because "major" isn't the right word at all). So I have been reading with interest what has been going on with his political career these days from a distance here in frozen-arctic Western Canada.

Talk about a sad state of affairs for a guy who really ought to be in higher office somewhere, serving the public. Instead, he keeps on having to fight off calls for his resignation as leader, and he keeps getting hounded by the press and by the blogging community.

I keep reading these articles in the press that Tory is meant to make some big announcement on the 9th of January. It may have something to do with whether he'll be getting a seat in the Ontario legislature, we hear.

Meanwhile, I keep on reading about all this sniping from the grassroots of the Ontario PC party, complaining about how long it has taken for Tory to get into the legislature after being defeated in the election, and how he missed his "self-imposed deadline" in December for getting a seat. Seems these other MLAs aren't all that keen about stepping down from their safe seats to allow Tory to win a byelection and take his seat!

Moreover, some malcontents are trying to bring a motion to the floor of the party's next convention where they are trying to put some goofy rule in place forcing its leaders to get a seat in the legislature. Honestly, stuff like this doesn't help the PC party. It just provides the media more juicy headlines and only helps the ruling Liberals.

All in all this whole Tory-without-a-seat business has made everyone in the Ontario PC party look bad. It makes Tory look like he isn't in command of his party. It makes all the MLAs look selfish. And it has made the whole party seem like a train wreck.

Honestly, how the heck is John Tory ever going to become premier of Ontario if this is what he must contend with, with all the sniping and the bad headlines and the rest of it?

No wonder I left politics and went back to journalism full time, given this state of affairs in the party.

I kind of think it would have been better for everyone involved if Tory had won that 2003 mayor's race in Toronto against David Miller and everyone else. If he had been elected, Tory's political career wouldn't be in the sad, hopeless state it's in now.

Moreover, Toronto wouldn't be in the state it is in now. With Miller in charge, that place has a mayor and a council intent on wasting its time going after Starbucks coffee drinkers by trying to legislate against disposable coffee cups.

Politics -- talk about a rough business.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

NEW YEAR'S NEWS FROM NOWHERE

Welcome to the first post at the CAIRNS BLOG for 2009, and if you were wondering where I was for the past few days, don't worry. I have just been relaxing and chilling (yes, it's freaking cold here) and have been in no mood to do much work -- or writing for that matter. Don't expect much for another couple of days either, as I have some late nights ahead of me.

On to the latest news.

Well, in addition to all the other troubles in the world, it appears World War III has broken out in the Middle East as Israel goes after Hamas. And I'm just getting annoyed at all this war nonsense going on. Get over your differences, folks, and let's all get on with solving all the rest of the problems facing the world.

And the Russians are acting increasingly like a bullying dictatorship, cutting off gas to the Ukraine. So yeah, 2009 has gotten off to a really great start.

In the United States, there has been lots of political news to talk about. The controversy rages on in Illinois over their arrogant governor Rod Blagojevich (right), who this week appointed Roland Burris to the Senate. (See, they appoint people to the US Senate, too.)

But everyone's mad that he appointed anyone at all because of the controversy surrounding his alleged activities in trying to sell off Illinois's Senate seat. Rod has so far refused all calls for his resignation, folks are refusing to seat his pick, and the Governor is facing likely impeachment in the state legislature. Talk about a gong show in Illinois.

Things are also not so rosy for Illinois's President of the United States, Barack Obama, whose nominee for commerce secretary Bill Richardson has withdrawn his name from nomination.

Meanwhile we still don't know if Caroline Kennedy will be appointed to fill the vacant New York Senate seat to be vacated by the likely Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In Minnesota the Senate race vote count and recounts are pretty much wrapped up and it looks like Al Franken will be certified as the winner -- leaving Norm Coleman to continue his fight for re-election in the courts.

Marley and Me won again at the box office and this week I had very little to say about it.

And Chicago hosted a pond hockey game.

Uh, that's it. Back to watching football for me.