Saturday, October 31, 2009

RANDOM RANTS ABOUT HALLOWEEN AND THE GREAT PUMPKIN: JUST GIVE THEM THEIR CANDY, DARNIT

Earlier this week I happened to tune in to It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown on ABC for the first time in, oh, ages.

I have to say, this ranks up there with the all-time classics. This was produced during an era in television history that, sadly, is gone now -- the era when networks showed these big TV specials during the holiday season. In prime time they used to produce and show all these special, well-produced animated cartoons that would air for family audiences. This Halloween special, first aired in 1966, was a followup to the hugely successful A Charlie Brown Christmas that aired the year before. The two people most associated with the Charlie Brown cartoons were Vince Guaraldi, who composed the jazzy piano-laden scores for the specials, and also Bill Melendez the director, who knew how to set the right tone and allow the personalities of the characters to shine right through. He let the Peanuts gang be the Peanuts gang, just like in the comic strip in the newspapers. It was as if Charles M. Shultz was drawing every one of the pictures used in the animated cartoons himself.


The whole concept of the Halloween special revolved around Lucy's goofy blanket-carrying brother Linus mixing up Halloween with Christmas and thinking the Great Pumpkin would show up rise out of the Pumpkin Patch and hand out presents to all the kids -- just like Santa Claus. But you had interesting sub-plots featuring Snoopy pretending to be a World War I flying ace, and of course Charlie Brown was his usual loser self. When he went out trick or treating all he got back were rocks.
Which brings me to my next rant, which is about the stuff parents hand out to these trick or treaters at Halloween. Usually parents do the right thing and give them chocolate bars and the like, and that's all good. But it seems there is a bit of a movement afoot to put an end to the practice of handing out candy to kids at Halloween. Instead, these teachers, PTA groups, health workers and other no-lives busybody types are worried about "childhood obesity." So they want to promote "healthy" foods and would rather see kids get fruits and vegetables, sunflower seeds, granola bars and other "healthy" foods at Halloween.

What nonsense. What point is there to trick or treating if all you get in return is the same food you eat at home all the time anyway?! Maybe that's the whole point, to end trick or treating. This reminds me a little bit about how people wanted to end the practice of saying "Merry Christmas" because they were afraid it would offend all these minority groups. Honestly, some people seem bent on taking the fun right out of holidays and special occasions, especially ones that are meant to be fun for kids.

Listen, giving kids candy or chocolate bars one night of the year isn't going to kill them or make them obese -- same with giving them big chocolate easter eggs at Easter. The one thing I always hated when I was a kid was that I would go knock on some door and yell "Trick or Treat", and instead of getting an Aero bar or Mars bar or something good, I'd wind up with sunflower seeds or something stupid like that. Darnit, give the kids some good candy, it's what makes life worth it for these miserable children who have to put up with boring homework in school and all the rest of it! It's Halloween, it's one night -- allow these kids to enjoy it.

The other peeve of mine that gets me riled up is that around here where I am, some of these parents try and force the trick or treaters to sing for their chocolate bars -- and that just isn't right, people. Look, this is Halloween. The whole idea is that you have to give them a treat, otherwise these kids will do some evil trick on you. That's why you have to give them candy, because you're compelled to do something for them, not the other way around. Singing for your supper is for Christmas carolers, not Halloweeners. These parents who demand kids to sing or perform on the front porch are just like Linus that way -- they're getting their dates on the calendar confused. It's called Trick or Treat for a reason. If kids show up at the door, don't force them to be Christmas carolers -- or worse, American Idol contestants! Just give them their candy, darnit!!!!

That's it!!!!! Boy, am I ever a grouch lately. Must be the weather.

TRAILER FOR "GUIDE FOR THE MARRIED MAN" -- ESPECIALLY FITTING THIS MONTH

Given all the monkey business going on involving David Letterman, Steve Phillips (ESPN), John Edwards, Eliot Spitzer and these other losers, I thought I would put up a trailer I found recently on the Internet from the exceptionally silly Sixties movie A Guide for the Married Man.



I found out about the video from Mark Evanier's website, which is a great repository of cool, relicky things from the Sixties (usually about cartoon characters and the people who draw them). Anyway, he kind of has the same semi-repulsed reaction I have about the whole premise of the film. I like the sexy aspects of the movie and all the women in it, but like Evanier said, the whole premise seems to make light of marriage and makes it seem as if cheating on your wife is a fun activity and a good idea! In the movie, Robert Morse gives Walter Matthau tips on how to get away with cheating on your wife. That's basically the entire plot.

Oh, and by the way, his wife in the movie is starved for sex and wants to make love to her husband. She wants sex with her husband! So Matthau's character really has no good reason to cheat on her.

I may come across as totally girl-obsessed on this blog (hello, Joanna Krupa!), but the truth is I happen to be a big believer in being loyal to whoever your woman is. I think going the "cheating" route on your wife or girlfriend is disrespectful and no way to go, and that the best policy if your relationship is so totally on the rocks is to just take the high road and split up. At least it's the honest way to go -- it'll save both sides the humiliation and misery associated with "cheating" and all the issues from that.

I'm also a big believer in trying to get a marriage right the first time around -- I don't believe you should get married just to be married or because you ought to "settle down." Make sure you fall in love, first, darnit, that's what I am saying! I guess I don't understand the logic of getting into or even staying in some vapid marriage or relationship, while at the same time running around with other women. I still don't understand why Eliot Spitzer was running around with all these prostitutes. It makes no sense to me. Come to think of it, he probably got this idea from A Guide for the Married Man. Same for Dave Letterman and these other fools who were around to see this flick in the theaters or on TV. This movie really does glamorize cheating. The folks at Ashley Madison - the matchmakers for people who want to cheat on their mates - must be thanking their stars for this movie, because it just encourages everyone to cheat. It truly is great for business.

I guess the main thing I don't get is why Walter Matthau would even want to cheat on Inger Stevens, because that woman is a hot babe! (Pictured above; proves my point.) I wouldn't be interested in cheating at all if my wife had legs like that -- not to mention her butt. Would you cheat on Inger Stevens?! And that's my comment on marriage, cheating, and A Guide for the Married Man.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

SWINE FLU IS BACK ON THE LOOSE, WREAKING HAVOC ON SOCIETY

Well, here we are near the end of October, and H1N1 (aka Swine Flu) is now on the loose and out there in pandemic form, exactly as people predicted would happen. It's actually getting to be pretty worrisome. Even though the bug's been around for the past several months, I never really worried about getting it, but now this flu bug is starting to hit a little too close to home for my liking.

A couple of weeks ago I was supposed to cover a couple of hockey games, but the whole thing was scrubbed because the school for the other team was hit with an outbreak of H1N1. Now I'm starting to hear the stories from people who know other people who have H1N1. Just today, there was some lady in front of me bragging at a checkout line about how she had H1N1 but recovered from it.

Well, great. Now, I'm really starting to worry that I'll end up the next one getting sick from H1N1 and miss all the important stuff I have to do at work. I worry, yet my area isn't even the worst hotspot in the country for this disease.

The media, of course, are helping spread the anxiety. Just this week, there was this very frightening story about this hockey dad in the Toronto area whose 13-year-old kid, apparently healthy, died of H1N1. There was also a story on 60 Minutes a little while ago about this football player who got H1N1 and was on a respirator. We're now hearing stories of more people at educational institutions calling in sick.

A lot of people are dismissing these reports as fearmongering by the media. Well, it is and it isn't. H1N1 may not end up quite as bad as it sounds, but it is surely out there, there's no doubt about it, and it's causing some damage. For people to dismiss it and say it's just hype is just irresponsible. I can't believe some of these people who are bragging about how they think this is all the media's fault and all a conspiracy to sell newspapers and get ratings, folks who also say they are going to avoid the vaccinations. Talk about a sure way to keep the pandemic going, this kind of reckless behavior.

I'm trying my best to avoid getting H1N1 by employing my usual tactic in such situations: avoiding any and all people. In a job like the one I have, though, it is incredibly difficult to avoid other human beings. If I must be around people, I'm trying to ensure they are as old as possible -- which is harder than it seems, even if you live in an area heavy with retirees. Apparently, the older people are supposed to have some immunity to H1N1.

I definitely want to avoid high school kids, that's a case of swine flu waiting to happen. These high schools are absolutely germ-ridden. I know, because I've been in them. Unfortunately, I sometimes cover high school football games and other sporting events involving high school kids -- and these sporting events seem to be absolute flu zones at the moment, with these players exposed to all these germs in the locker room. 

Another policy of mine is to avoid travelling on airplanes and any forms of public transit-- pretty easy for me to do right now, because I hate spending money on all forms of transportation, including my own car. Another good policy is to avoid eating in restaurants, which unfortunately is something I am having extreme trouble avoiding. What's worse, I go to a lot of banquets where a lot of food is served up for a lot of people, some of whom might have the flu and cough onto the main course.On top of that, I am a lousy cook and there are only so many TV dinners  I can handle.

I also wash my hands and use the hand sanitizer so much that I must have the cleanest hands of anyone I know. But what good does that do you? If you run out of hand sanitizer, guess where you have to go to replace it? That's right -- the drug store, and I consider those places to be absolute flu zones. Same goes for the doctor's offices and hospitals which are overrun with flu patients. Unfortunately, there's a mall in the city that has both (a) a drug store and (b) a big doctor's office in it. I consider that entire mall to be one big fat flu zone waiting to happen.

Of course, I did come down with a bad cold that didn't go away for a while, but that couldn't have been H1N1 because I felt too good. The way guys like Dr. Sanjay Gupta describe it, this flu bug absolutely makes you feel like you are close to death.

I am hoping to survive long enough to get my vaccination -- but these idiots here don't have enough supplies, apparently, so they may delay giving us our bleeping shots. Already we are hearing plenty of reports around the country of lineups, and of folks freaking out over vaccinations. You get the picture.

Anyway, all I will say is if you can find a nice, secure undisclosed location in which to hide out, now is a good time to find it. Make sure you stock up with lots of supplies and stay there until all the vaccinations show up.Then it'll be safe to show your face again in public and get one.

DAVE LETTERMAN IS STILL IN TROUBLE

DISGRUNTLED EX-EMPLOYEES START TO COME OUT OF THE WOODWORK

Welcome back to this blog's live continuing coverage of Dave Letterman. Aren't you fed up with this story yet? Me, too. Unfortunately, the media isn't fed up with shoving the story down our throats. I guess it's either this or coverage of H1N1.

The latest in this sordid saga is that the disgruntled employees are starting to voice their discontent in order to get their 15 minutes of fame. A woman by the name of Nell Scovell apparently worked for Letterman for five months while at NBC, but finally quit because she said it was a hostile work environment that was tinged with sex, and where the only way you could really get ahead is by sleeping with the boss. I guess she didn't want to do that, and who can blame her?

Would you want to sleep with Dave Letterman? I thought not, and I don't blame you.

Anyway, let this continue to be a lesson to all late-night talk show hosts with the first name Dave: running around having sex with your coworkers and underlings is bad, bad policy. It's a good way to end up not only in trouble at work, but in trouble with your wife.

As an aside, I'm surprised there's been no divorce filing yet. What is Mrs. Letterman waiting for -- for Dave to go into rehab?! Come to think of it, maybe that's what is next in this ridiculous story.

THIS IS IT

Michael Jackson has rolled out on screen --- but I was too busy to notice it, as I was covering an election. And that has been it as far as my online activity is concerned for this past week.

ALL I WANT, ALL I ASK FOR, IS A DANCE WITH JOANNA KRUPA

As you know the current season of Dancing With the Stars is on and while I'm not a big fan of the show I do like their choices of "stars" -- particularly their female stars like swimsuit model Joanna Krupa, who is one of the favorites in the current season.

The woman is also deeply popular with guys because of her many, many, many appearances in guys magazines like Maxim, FHM, and Playboy, for which she will be posing for the second time in December. A photographer named Rankin shot the layout of Joanna for that big issue. The cover photo has been released and I gotta say, I love this cover. She definitely has Marge Simpson all beat. Way to go, Playboy.


UPDATE: Joanna had a few thoughts of her own about her sexy photo shoot in this interview here. She thinks doing Playboy is empowering for women! I agree. For a model like Ms. Krupa, being photographed by a world-famous photographer for Playboy, and appearing on the cover, has got to be one big ego trip. Talk about a woman who's able to snag any guy she wants... !!!

I gotta say this about Joanna Krupa: she's a babe! I think it would be the dream of any guy (ones with sense, anyway) to want to take this girl out on a night on the town and hit the dance floors with her, because she'd show her man a good time -- though I think it would be kind of hard to keep up with her hot moves. Also, I do a lot of photography these days so I'd say a dream of mine is to do a photo shoot with her -- hopefully someplace hot, on a beach somewhere. Hey, I'm allowed to dream, this is a free country.

All in all, I really like Joanna Krupa and I hope she wins Dancing With the Stars, as I've been a big fan of her for years. Believe me, it's women like Joanna, Kelly Monaco, Willa Ford, Julianne Hough and these other ones who are the reason why any guys at all tune in to Dancing With the Stars.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

THE NBA IS BACK!

About time! I'm a happy guy.

Here's some season previews from Sportsnet -- click on the links to the other division previews. Also, here's a look at my beloved Raptors, who remains Toronto's only major league hope of being a playoff team. Fat hope they are, though, given their showing last year.

I gotta say, I like the NBA -- there's a lot to be said about a league that keeps labour problems to a minimum and generally has its act in order (unlike a certain sport that starts its World Series tomorrow night).

Sunday, October 25, 2009

HOW MANY IS IT NOW FOR THE YANKEES? A HUNDRED?

No, but it's getting close.

Forty American League pennants now for the New York Yankees, who beat the Angels and will be seeking their 27th World Championship when the World Series opens Wednesday against the defending World Champs, the Phillies.

(For those counting -- those forty pennants for the Yankees compares to two, count 'em, two for my Toronto Blue Jays. Shows you what Blue Jays fans must cope with year in and year out in the division.)

BIG IMPORTANT NEWS: CHARLIZE THERON KISSES A GIRL


Be honest now -- wouldn't you want to give sexy Charlize Theron a big, long, wet kiss on the mouth???!

Okay -- well, how much would you pay for the privilege?

One woman was so taken by Charlize that at a charity auction for OneXOne in San Francisco recently, she offered up $140,000 just so she could kiss Charlize. And she successfully outbid all these drooling guys, and went up there and locked lips with Charlize Theron for a good 20 second girl-on-girl smooch.

What people will do for charity, eh?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS TO GMA?

Well, some news and rumors from TV news to tell you about -- apparently not everyone in that feast-or-famine field is being fired. George Stephanopoulos of This Week fame may be heading over to take over Diane Sawyer's spot on Good Morning America once she takes over from Charlie Gibson. The story here


Also, reports are out there that Rebecca Jarvis has left as CNBC correspondent and is apparently headed to CBS News.

I probably could talk about the big Erin Burnett-Natalie Morales hula-hoop challenge, but I think that is all the TV News news I feel like talking about for now.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY'S SCARY-GOOD BOX OFFICE

The weekend box office totals are in and Paranormal Activity continues to roll. It's amazing how audiences are just rushing to see this flick and get scared out of their skulls. The big loser in all this is Saw VI, which usually cleans up but which, this weekend, only coughed up $14 million for its worst opening in the horror franchise's history. Check out the link to my column for the complete rundown.

And if you want to know what all the fuss is about at the theaters -- check out this trailer. The freaked-out reaction of audience members tells you all you need to know about why this is a hit.


Happy Halloween when it happens, folks.

MUNICIPAL ELECTION COVERAGE IS NOT, REPEAT NOT, COMING TO THE CAIRNS BLOG THIS WEDNESDAY NIGHT

As you can tell from the illustration at right, it is time for me to, surprise surprise, do a post on happenings in Saskatchewan.

Oct. 28 is municipal election day in Saskatchewan and I will be busy covering the election.
Just not here.

Instead, I will now post here a link to my online posts on the election in the Northwest region, of which full results will appear, oh, I dunno, the day after on the 29th at that site. I will be too busy to be bothered to blog on Wednesday night. In fact, fat chance I will be doing much blogging of any kind this week.

So there will be NO coverage at THE CAIRNS BLOG of the Saskatchewan vote beyond this post, even though I devoted plenty of time to Ontario election coverage in 2006. This blog, though, has gone in the tank since then as far as political coverage is concerned. As I said, there is another place for me to rant and rave, so feel free to go over there.

As for the other cities in the province, the Star-Phoenix has this election page on the race in Saskatoon and the Leader-Post has this look at Regina. Also, CKOM will have election results here, and here's a link to the CBC Saskatchewan municipal election page. Folks interested in the Moose Jaw race can go here, and the Prince Albert race results will be here. And for news about what's going on in the Estevan race, you can go here.

From the looks of it, though, the races in the two major cities are big-time snoozefests and it seems to me like the news organizations in this province are having real trouble trying to stay awake and look interested in these non-races going on in the province. In fact, three council incumbents in Saskatoon won re-election by acclaim! Honestly, these papers are more interested in CFL football than they are with the election -- they aren't the only ones. Municipal elections may be important, but let's be honest: the Saskatchewan Roughriders are far more important to people and far less boring, especially the last couple of weeks.

The illustration is a poster for the movie Saskatchewan starring Alan Ladd and Shelley Winters --and as you can tell, the movie is no good because they got the mountainous scenery totally wrong. Everyone knows Saskatchewan is completely flat.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA

Too bad the baseball playoff game wasn't there tonight instead of in New York, where raindrops keep falling on my head.

Hey, rainouts are part of the sport. Suck it up, fans. But look on the bright side -- there's now nothing stopping you from watching Hockey Night in Canada tonight!

Friday, October 23, 2009

DON'T MAKE WAVES, DON'T MAKE WAVES, DON'T MAKE WAVES!

Since I am on the subject of California beach movies (and I want to post all I want to post about it before we get to Halloween, the time of horror movies and the like), I thought I would put up another trailer of a long-forgotten classic that was a big flop when it first rolled out in theaters. It's called Don't Make Waves and it stars Tony Curtis, Claudia Cardinale, and of course, Sharon Tate. The unforgettable Sharon Tate. I read somewhere that they based Malibu Barbie, the doll, on her character Malibu from this flick.(I also read that she hated her part, wearing that bikini all the time in the movie.)

I'm not going to go into the current problems of the guy she married -- instead, I want to just roll the film.

"HARDBODIES" IS SO BAD IT'S GOOD

One of the advantages of having your own blog is that you can write whatever you want about any subject you feel like writing about, without having anyone tell you what you should write or having to tailor your writing to the whims of a particular audience.

With that said, I am going to talk about the Eighties movie Hardbodies. (Yes, this blog is going back to the deep end. Deal with it, world.)
There's been a bit of a revival of Eighties movies this year. We've had big screen remakes of horror movies like Friday the 13th and My Bloody Valentine, and some classic Eighties flicks that were aimed at the teen crowd have been released on DVD, flicks like Spring Break and Screwballs. These were the types of low-budget movies millions of people in my age group grew up watching on late night cable TV on Friday nights -- mindless and sometimes reprehensible entertainment. If you want to know why Dave Letterman turned out the way he is, look no further than these flicks.

Recently, the folks at Anchor Bay Entertainment released the Eighties teen skin flick Hardbodies and its sequel Hardbodies 2 with a DVD set called The Hardbodies Collection. It is exactly what you expect it to be: two mindless movies about guys chasing girls in bikinis (known as "Hardbodies") on the beach. And in the sequel, they actually go to the Greek Islands. And of course, the girls in both flicks get topless a lot -- best part of the movie.

The opinions out there on the Hardbodies movies are pretty polarizing, although there seems to be more consensus about the terrible sequel than about the original. Many people see these flicks as mindless and sexist, and they are right. Others complain that these flicks are Eighties relics, and that they don't hold up well in our 21st century with all the graphic sexual material that is out there now from the likes of Jenna Jameson and other such people. When this flick came out the film critics of America absolutely crucified the movie, and they weren't entirely wrong to do so. Siskel and Ebert gave the original two big thumbs down, way down, and the studio put out a self-effacing trailer where they basically admitted that the movie was no potential Oscar winner and a pile of rubbish.


Defenders, though, love Hardbodies and think it's good clean escapist fun.  Who wouldn't want to be on the beach hanging around with the gorgeous and charming Hardbodies?.Also, there's a certain "cheese" factor to Hardbodies. The movie was mentioned in an episode of Gilmore Girls (a sure way to get laughs from the audience), and in an episode of Entourage it was revealed that Mrs. Ari was an actress who appeared in a very revealing role in Hardbodies 3 -- which, in real life, was never made. Two were enough.

Well, I saw both these movies again on DVD recently. All I have to say is: Hardbodies is a hoot to watch.

What a blast, and the reason it's so fun is the nostalgia factor. It just brings back so many memories of the bad Eighties and reminds you of how cheesy and stupid that whole decade was. The big hair. The music.The outfits, Actually, you'd think the women would be embarrassed by the skimpy outfits they wore, but they actually come off well compared to the guys. The outfits they made the guys wear in the movie were the most embarrassing of all. Those guys look ridiculous today in those skimpy shorts they wore. To think there were people in the Eighties who actually thought this was fashionable? This is truly a movie so bad that it's good.
In fact, I'm sure stuff like Baywatch was inspired by this flick. You almost expected David Hasselhoff and Pam Anderson to show up and save people. It was that kind of movie.

It's too bad the guys in the movie had so much screen time. What they should have done is get rid of all the guys in the movie and just focus on the babes in the bikinis. Really, the girls are the reason to watch this movie. If they ever do get around to making Hardbodies 3 one of these days, they should just leave out the guys and go with an all-girl cast. They're the real stars of the whole freaking show and they deserved a lot more screen time -- like perhaps the entire movie.

I especially liked that cool chick played by Teal Roberts, who played the girlfriend in the movie. I don't know if Teal Roberts is truly the hottest babe ever, but there was, I dunno, a genuineness about her performance that I liked. She just seemed so carefree and laid-back. It's easy to see why guys would want a girlfriend like that - so friendly. In fact all the female actresses are appealing. I got the impression the actresses were just having a blast making this stupid movie. The guys also seemed to have too good a time. Nobody in the cast looked like they were taking life seriously, they were just doing a movie .

I'm not going to spend any time on the Hardbodies 2 sequel. Why they bothered with it, I don't know. It had girls in it, too, and it had Fabiana Udenio in it (who was in the Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery movie as "Alotta Fagina"), but in general the movie was a waste of time. I guess they made the sequel because the first one made a lot of money.

The second movie isn't even bad enough to sit and ridicule with your friends when you watch it -- it's just boring. Anyway, the second movie may have been dull and a piece of crap, but I wasn't let down by the first movie, the original. Just based on the movie posters I knew I'd like that one, and I was not disappointed. It delivers on something that I truly need after a long hard week of using my brain, and that's cheesy, mindless stupidity. Besides, the movie delivers exactly what I want out of life -- I want to live on the beach and hang out with the surfer chicks. Maybe one day I'll get my green card and move to California, and I'll be able to live the life and won't have to watch movies like this.

I know, I know -- you are an uptight person and you think both movies were trash. Well, they were, but they were our trash. For our age group, flicks like Hardbodies were absolutely the kinds of mindless, stupid drivel that made life in the Eighties worth it. These were the Beach Party movies of our generation.

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Incidentally, my Reject Report box office column is now up -- obviously not one of my better efforts but that's what happens when you end up overworked like I was this past week. Saw VI and Astro Boy are among the highlights for this weekend.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

DAVE LETTERMAN IS AN OLD GOAT

Well, I am pleased to say I am over my funk from the other day. I needed to get that rant out of my system about the state of the journalism business.  For me, life is good because, well, I have the next three days off and will be able to get the heck out of the city for a couple of days.

And now that I think of it, maybe I should forget sports and entertainment reporting and go the business news route anyway, covering the stock markets. More money.
Besides, this entertainment news racket is, ahem, getting a bit too tawdry even for me. Here's the latest update of my continuing coverage of stupid news stories -- like the ongoing Dave Letterman sex/extortion scandal.

Bill Maher is one of the many comedians saying Dave is being let off easy for his dalliances by his fellow comediians. I couldn't really care whether the comedians let Dave off the hook or not. In fact, I don't really care what the National Organization for Women says about Dave or what anyone else says. As far as I'm concerned, all these opinions don't matter -- except for one.

There is only one person, and one person only, whose opinion counts in the whole matter of whether to let Dave is off the hook or not: his wife. If she feels burned by this whole mess, she should be the one to take action and file for divorce, and soak Dave for millions. That's exactly what Dave deserves -- he doesn't deserve to lose his job, he deserves to be divorced. In fact, I think he should keep his job -- just so that his aggrieved wife will get as much loot as possible from him in the settlement.

In fact, there are all kinds of tabloid reports of a big divorce filing coming. Well, that's what you get when you have sex with coworkers. Sex with coworkers is nothing but trouble as far as I'm concerned -- and if you're married it's even worse.

Also trouble: there's apparently a SEX TAPE out there showing Dave having sex with a coworker. Holy crow! How did this happen, and what the hell was Dave thinking? Supposedly this was all recorded by some security camera, and all I have to say is if this tape truly exists, it is something I definitely do not want to see -- ever! Talk about a sight for sore eyes. Yecch!!!!

It seems plainly obvious now that this story will never go away. In fact, this story is getting pathetic in a really really big hurry. All I gotta say is: Dave Letterman, you are a loser.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

LIFE STILL BAD FOR THOSE STILL IN THE MEDIA (AND THE ONES BOOTED OUT)

Well, I'm reading about more bad layoff news at the Times - both of them. Over 100 layoffs at the New York Times. Layoffs yet again also at the LA Times. Nikki Finke says entertainment coverage looks like it is not getting hit quite as hard as it once was, but I don't imagine these folks are in the mood to add anyone to their ranks, either.

And the trade papers like Variety and the Hollywood Reporter are in such bad shape that it's a wonder they're even open, because nobody seems to be buying the ads for them. So if that's the reality, and I'm shut out completely from doing that sort of entertainment coverage for a living, then what's the point of me still being in print journalism? I'm about to hit my two-year anniversary as a hard-news print reporter, a career path I fell into because I couldn't get into the job I really felt I'd be good at doing in the media to begin with, whether it's sports or entertainment. I probably know more useless TV trivia than most of my neighbors and wouldn't mind putting it all to good use covering the TV beat somewhere, yet here I am covering the news. I like doing this blog, but you don't need to be a print news reporter to do a blog. In fact, you can be a screenwriter and still be able to do a blog, too. And my blog is more about entertainment anyway, so what's the point?

What point is there to keeping a career in reporting going if there's no hope of living it up in Cannes or even covering a World Series? Good question -- to which I am struggling to find a good answer.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

TV JUNK: BARNEY AND ROBIN GO TO TIM HORTONS, AND OTHER THOUGHTS

Well, lately I have not had much time to do much of my beloved TV watching. One of these days, I will go back to watching TV. But it's hard. When you get on the old job treadmill it can get really hard to get off it and focus on the real priorities of life, like your favorite TV shows.

Among other things, I've been busy the last couple of nights, so I have had to make do more and more by recording episodes and watching them later. That is how I watched the How I Met Your Mother episode in which Aunt Robin thought about becoming an American citizen. The episode featured Robin and Barney ending up in Toronto at a Tim Hortons. Good stuff. Reminds me a little bit of what they did on The Office when they sent Michael off to Winnipeg. This sitcom stuff, with characters off to Canada all the time, makes you feel extremely proud to be a Canadian.

CALIFORNICATION SUCKS
I have not been watching Californication lately, due to a lack of access to the show on my cable system. I understand a lot of people are hating the new season and declaring it to be a terrible show. Which is too bad, because I liked it when it first came on. (Or more accurately, I liked the one episode Paula Marshall was in.) Here's a post over at Dead Things on Sticks basically  ripping the show to shreds.

CIVIL WAR STILL ON IN CANADIAN TV

At the same site are thoughts on the continuing war between the cable companies and the TV networks over fees for carriage, with a view that neither side is doing very much about saving what's really important: TV drama and comedy.

The thing that kind of gets me is that the two sides in this whole dispute are getting all political about it and are flooding the TV screens with ads spewing their opposing views on the whole fees-for-carrriage issue, with the networks claiming they want to save local TV while the cable companies are ripping the networks for essentially proposing a TV tax, lifting money made by the cable companies. All I have to say is the viewers are being lost in the shuffle totally here, and are going to end up big losers either way.

I think all these Canadian TV people need to do is create more hits, like Dragon's Den. It is getting to be so popular it may soon be the top-rated show on the entire CBC -- including Hockey Night in Canada.

REALITY TV

On to the reality show beat now: here's a post from Lee Goldberg on The World's Dumbest Reality Show Winners, talking about these bozos who appear on Reality TV and how warped they are in real life. I didn't know this before but apparently this "Balloon Boy" dad, Richard Heene, appeared on Wife Swap. I have an idea for a different reality show for him: Dad Swap. Because this "dad" is an idiot.

DAVE LETTERMAN'S PROBLEMS

I have nothing further to say about David Letterman, although I understand that Dave's wife is so furious that she may well divorce him. I read that in the tabloids. And I guess the folks at the National Organization for Women want him sued. He really does need a lawyer.  

Like I say, I wish I had more time these days to devote to some serious TV watching, but I've been too preoccupied lately by other commitments. Now I'm tired and ready to hit the sack, so you can bet I won't be watching any TV tonight, either.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

ON "BALLOON BOY": CRIMINAL CHARGES COULD BE LAID



Do you get the impression that Americans are just nuts?! A lot of them seem to be -- and they get to be on TV.

Last Thursday the big "Balloon Boy" incident involving that kid Falcon Heene took over the cable news channels -- or at least, CNN. You know what it was about -- it was about that kid in Colorado who went missing while this weather balloon believed to be carrying him was launched. All the authorities were looking for the missing kid, who turned up, safe and sound, in the family's attic.

Well, it turns out the Heene family may have staged this entire stunt to get themselves a big reality show TV deal! So Wolf Blitzer, Larry King and everyone else at CNN have egg on their faces for covering this apparent total stunt. Now it looks like criminal charges will be laid for all kinds of things, including conspiracy and contributing to the deliquency of a minor.

No doubt about it, this was all designed by these people to get rich. In fact, just before the hoax was exposed the Heene family were apparently fielding offers from these big Hollywood agencies for representation!  I chalk this whole thing up to the whole "Jon & Kate Plus Eight" syndrome. Everyone wants to be the next Jon and Kate, because that will mean they become rich and famous. Even though these two idiots are going through a gong-show separation, their fame and their riches are still preferable to the anonymity most people have in their boring, cash-strapped non-lives.

That's why you see these sorts of desperate attempts to get famous. No doubt, this won't be the last. America -- land of the free and home of the reality TV star.

THIS WEEKEND'S NEWS FROM NOWHERE IS REALLY ON THE BUTTON

Here once again is News from Nowhere, my semi-regular roundup of news stories and items that I didn't get around to posting because of all the other things I have been doing.

Well, Jenson Button of the Brawn GP team, pictured, has won the Formula 1 world title in Brazil, and his team also won the Constructor's Title. That means the next F1 race on the schedule, in Abu Dhabi, is a total nothing race and the fans there can look forward to an event with absolutely nothing on the line.
Auto racing season is wrapping up at a rapid pace. Just last week Dario Franchitti won the IRL title and Andrew Ranger wrapped up the NASCAR Canadian Tire series title a while ago. Thank God for the Sprint Cup "Chase", or else there would be nothing to watch. Frankly, though, it's a little difficult to keep on following the auto racing with all the good football and baseball games going on, so maybe it's a good thing it's ending now.

Other items from Canadian politics: Greg Selinger was sworn in today as Manitoba's new premier, replacing Gary Doer. And Danielle Smith is the new leader of the Wildrose Alliance.

Hurricane news to tell you about: Rick is Category 5 and could wreak havoc off the coast of Mexico.

Big shocking news about Anna Nicole Smith: apparently she took a lot of drugs.

The original "sole" Survivor Richard Hatch is finally out of jail.

California first lady Maria Shriver was caught driving while using a cell phone. God, is this a slow news week or what?! Smith on drugs, Hatch out of the clink and Shriver talking on a cell phone? Is the world really so hard up for news that this is all that these reporters can dig up??

An update on the guys' magazines wars again: coming to Maxim, readers can look forward to seeing a cover featuring Grace Park and, pictured right, Tricia Helfer of Battlestar Galactica.

As for what is happening at the archrivals -- fans of Tara Reid can look forward to seeing her plastic-surgery-scarred bod soon in Playboy magazine. Also coming soon to that rag: Kelly Bensimon of Real Housewives of New York.

Also Playboy-related: the new season of The Girls Next Door is on featuring Hugh Hefner's three new girlfriends: the lovable Crystal Harris and adorable Kristina and Karissa Shannon, the Shannon Twins. The first episode aired last weekend and all I have to say about it is wow, what a changeover.Without those three goofy, fun-loving dames Holly, Bridget and Kendra it just isn't the same. This is like what happened when they replaced Bo and Luke Duke on the Dukes of Hazzard with Coy and Vance.

Boy, this is worse than I thought! Is there some kind of hard-news shortage this week or what? Here we go from talking about Maria Shriver's stupid cell phones to talking about Tara Reid, The Girls Next Door, and The Dukes of Hazzard. We newspeople really do need to come up with something better for stories.

In other TV news: Kelsey Grammer's new TV show Hank is having some difficulties. Seems ABC wants to boot it off the air for a week to make room for that lovable loser Charlie Brown.

In a blast from the past, FOX may try and revive the variety show format around the woman whose career was launched on that very same network's biggest hit show American Idol: Carrie Underwood.

And last but not least -- it's official! CBS is bringing back the show with the greatest theme song in TV history. Hawaii Five-0!!!

Book 'em Danno! And that is all for now.

MOVIEGOERS GO WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE


-- to the tune of $32 million.

Also, it was a bountiful weekend for Law Abiding Citizen and Paranormal Activity. My box office column is up.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

BIG DAY FOR POLITICS IN MANITOBA, ALBERTA

This is a big day for political junkies in western Canada. In Manitoba the provincial NDP had their big leadership convention to replace outgoing Premier Gary Doer, and the winner has just been announced: finance minister Greg Selinger, who defeated Steve Ashton in the leadership vote. As a side note, I actually was able to interview both Selinger and Ashton for news stories I did when I was in Manitoba, so now I can put on my resume that one of the guys I interviewed is now premier of Manitoba -- even though he was just finance minister at the time.

Anyway, the bottom line in Manitoba finally has a new premier.

Over in Alberta the rising upstart Wildrose Alliance party is making a lot of noise as an alternative to the unpopular Ed Stelmach PC government, a government a lot of conservatives aren't happy with because they think it isn't very conservative these days. The Wildrose Alliance's outgoing leader recently won a big byelection, and now the party is choosing a new leader today to replace him. The new leader will either be former TV host Danielle Smith (pictured) or Calgary chiropractor Mark Dyrholm, and the race is being watched closely because there's a growing sense that this party could be the bunch that could finally topple the Tories after 38 years in power. And Alberta political history is rife with stories of parties coming out of nowhere to sweep incumbent governments out of power. So it's a big day for politics in Alberta, too. Don Braid has a live blog of the leadership vote on right now.

I kinda wish I was covering one of these leadership things this weekend - these are the types of events political reporters live for and they are pretty darned interesting to follow.

Instead, this week I have been covering a sleep-inducing municipal election where the big issue is whether the community can afford to build a multipurpose facility. Now, that's what I call excitement. Woo hoo!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

CANADIAN BASEBALL FANS GET NO RESPECT

I hope folks south of the border are enjoying the Major League Baseball post-season, because Canadian fans sure aren't.

In fact, we haven't enjoyed them for 16 years because of the inept performance on the field of our Toronto Blue Jays. In fact, just over a week ago they ashcanned J.P. Ricciardi the GM. So for baseball fans it is sad times up here.

What's even sadder is that the networks covering the baseball playoffs in our country are treating the post-season with total disrespect now that the Blue Jays are (once again) out. Last week was a perfect example. The Tigers and Twins played into the 12th inning of their greatest one-game playoff game ever -- except in our region, Sportsnet decided to cut away from it. They decided to start their broadcast of a game between the Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens right on time, so they bumped the TBS feed of the tied extra-innings baseball game and put it on a channel higher up on the cable dial, Sportsnet East.

I remember how mad people in Canada were a few years ago when NBC shifted the end of the Buffalo-Ottawa playoff game to cable to make room for the Preakness Stakes horse racing! At least that was the Triple Crown. This, though, was a game to determine who was going to be in the playoffs in baseball being cut to make room for a stupid meaningless NHL regular season game. What a farce. Unbelievable.

And as for Sportsnet Ontario, they didn't bother to even show the sudden-death game at all. Instead of showing a live game, they put on Bob McCown and his boring freaking radio show. Even Chris Zelkovich of the Star picked up on the outrage from enraged, offended Ontario baseball fans.

That's not all, folks. Sportsnet has also been disrespecting baseball fans during the playoff games, too, with nonstop coverage of hockey between innings. I noticed on Saturday night, they were showing highlights of NHL hockey games between innings of the Dodgers-Cardinals playoff game feed from TBS, and urging people to tune in later for the full hockey highlights on Sportsnet Connected. Now, honestly -- do you think anyone tuning in to the Dodgers-Cardinals playoff game cared one whit about the hockey scores? If they wanted hockey, they would already have been tuned in to Hockey Night in Canada. If Sportsnet really wanted to inform people about the hockey scores, what they needed to do was show them in a low-key way -- put them on a scroll at the bottom of the screen, like they do for ESPN and other networks.

Besides, this was regular-season hockey highlights they were showing -- during the playoffs. Do you think they bother to show the baseball highlights during the hockey playoffs? No -- not in Canada, anyway! Besides, they shouldn't - those are the hockey playoffs and hockey fans deserve a little respect.

So why shove the hockey highlights down the throats of baseball fans who don't want to see them? It's disrespect for the sport of baseball!! Don't show us the freaking regular-season hockey highlights during the baseball playoffs!

To add insult to injury, we also get plenty of hockey commercials during the baseball games to push products such as NHL 2010 or whatever the heck it is now. And to add further insult -- as soon as the ball game ends they rush to put on Sportsnet Connected, and what is the first they show? You guessed it. "Now, the hockey highlights."

So that's what we have to put up with with Sportsnet. What's really sad is we have no choice but to put up with Sportsnet, because nobody else in Canada will do the freaking playoff games and provide a better service to the baseball fans. In fact, I even remember a time when CTV used to show the entire baseball playoffs, and you can bet they didn't show hockey highlights in the middle of those. I guess Sportsnet is afraid if they don't cater to the hockey fans, the audience will split for TSN. We have no choice but to put up with it, though, because if it wasn't for the kindness and generosity of Sportsnet, we would have no baseball playoffs to watch at all, because nobody else will cover them.

It's sad that baseball fans of this country have to make way all the time for hockey, even at the most important juncture of the baseball season. Seriously -- this ought to be the time of year to give the baseball fans their due, and their peace and quiet during playoff games, and not bombard them with hockey all the time.

Now, I understand there are plenty of Canadian fans who are down on the sport of baseball right now, and that's understandable. The steroids. The labour problems. The Blue Jays not winning. Yet --  why should we give priority to a sport with even worse labour problems, with franchises moving or threatening to move all the time, which hosed its fans a few years ago by wiping out an entire season?

Good question -- and oh, by the way, the Canadian NHL teams haven't been winning either. The last time a Stanley Cup was won by a Canadian team was 1993, by the Canadiens. So don't say the NHL is so superior.

I guess I have to put up with this hockey madness during the baseball playoffs. This is the price you have to pay for living in a hockey country.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I SAY IT AGAIN: NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF A WOMAN IN A BIKINI


Hey, this site could use a few hits from the girlwatchers out there.

Couples Retreat opens to a $35 million weekend despite being savaged by the nation's uninfluential movie critics. (13 percent at Rotten Tomatoes.) Also, a big developing box office story is Paranormal Activity, shot for $15 grand and now up to $8 million gross overall at the box office.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

SOUTHLAND GETS THE KNIFE FROM NBC

Been following the news about the early pickups and cancellations of this TV season, with some shows like Cougar Town, Modern Family and Glee already getting picked up for the entire season. Other shows, however, are getting the shaft, and one show in particular got shafted bigtime this week.

In the most controversial cancellation so far this year NBC has axed Southland, which saw seven episodes aired earlier this year and got some good reviews from a few people. So much for those, it is now cancelled. The showrunner John Wells wants to shop this show around to other nets or to cable to try and keep it going: good luck with that. Fingers are being pointed squarely at Jay Leno and his piece of junk primetime show for shrinking the prime time real estate on NBC and making it less possible for pricey dramatic series to get on the air there. What's doubly sad is that Jay isn't getting an audience either right now, yet they keep his piece of junk on while scripted series get little chance to avoid the boot. This is the reason why Hollywood writers all hate Jay Leno and hate his show - because people think his show is costing writers their jobs.
Anyway, the outrage from the fans has started on Twitter, but fat chance that NBC will respond. That's the problem with TV right now -- few of these networks seem interested in giving viewers what they want to see. No wonder NBC is in the trouble it's in, folks, because they care only about the bottom line and not about the audience.

(Hey, what do you expect me to say? I happen to be pro-screenwriter around here.)

MARGE SIMPSON THINKS SHE'S HOT STUFF

Back to my coverage of the magazine beat this week with another one of my semi-regular posts about the continuing men's magazine wars in the USA. This week, I have nothing to say at all about Maxim, which continues to lurch with one boring effort after another. I think Audrina Patridge is on the cover this month. Who cares!!?
Instead, I'm going to mention what the desperate folks at Playboy have done with -- or rather, to -- their upcoming November issue.
They've finally got a big A-list celebrity to pose for their cover.Who is it, you ask? Megan Fox? Lindsay Lohan? That hot cougar Courteney Cox? Uh, no.
Instead, they got -- not even a live human being. They got a cartoon. Marge Simpson.

O. M. G. See, I told you Playboy was desperate.

Okay, now it's my turn to snark. First of all, this is a stale idea to begin with, ripped off from something Maxim did on the cover years ago. They also put Marge Simpson on their cover and gave her a layout, and it was truly a "jump-the-shark" moment for Maxim that they never recovered from. I mean, look at that rag now, they are in the sink!

But my objection isn't so much that this is a ripoff of Maxim, or even the fact that it's a cartoon character on the cover of Playboy. My objection is that Playboy is lowering their standards. If they are going to put a cartoon character on the cover, for God's sake, then put on there somebody that's genuinely hot, dammit!!

(Pictured: the lovely girl-next-door, Erin Esurance.)

(Actually, I'm just kidding around. To be honest, I think this whole Marge Simpson Playboy cover idea is hilarious. There may be hope for that rag yet.)

Friday, October 09, 2009

BARACK OBAMA IS WINNER OF THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE. (NO JOKE.)

The overwhelming opinion on the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Barack Obama is of the "WTF" variety. As in: what the heck did he do to deserve this? Isn't this premature? He hasn't done a darn thing yet! One aide actually wondered if it was April Fools Day. That's been the typical reaction: people think this is some sort of joke.

It is kind of odd that the Nobel people would award the peace prize to a guy who wasn't even able to keep the peace at all those town hall meetings on health care all over the USA this year. Yet they ignore that, and give him the award anyway -- just because he's Obama, the "World's President". Really, Obama talks a good game on mending fences and so on, but what has he really done of substance to bring about peace in the world?
Oh, I forgot -- he replaced Bush. I guess that's his big accomplishment.
My thinking, though, is that the award of the Peace Prize to Obama has got to be REALLY bad news. Is the world so hard-up for peacemakers that the Nobel committee couldn't come up with anyone better to give the Peace Prize to? I guess not, eh??
If Obama can win this award, you really have to think the door is open to anyone to win this thing on a whim. Who will the Nobel folks give this prize to next? Carla Bruni-Sarkozy? Oprah Winfrey? Wayne Gretzky? Really, if Obama is really the guy most deserving of the Nobel Prize then this entire world is in big trouble as far as peace is concerned.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

SOME BIG, EXCITING BLOGGING NEWS TO ANNOUNCE


I have some exciting news to announce. As of today, my online presence on the World Wide Web has expanded with the addition of a new blog penned by myself. It is going to be part of the group blog of the award-winning Battlefords News Optimist and Regional Optimist newspapers, and my first post was today.

That's the good news. And now for the bad news:
My posts at the new blog aren't going to be the least bit interesting to readers of THE CAIRNS BLOG, and especially not for all you movie-obsessed readers of THE REJECT REPORT over at http://www.filmschoolrejects.com/. I'd like you to check out the new blog, it's a lively site that will get better in the months to come, it could use a few hits, but I know convincing you to read it is going to be futile. Why even bother trying?

I will be writing about local news, mainly political and civic stuff as befitting my role as the political and municipal affairs reporter for the Optimist newspapers. My first post is on the municipal election race in this area, which might interest some of the locals around here. But it's not something you pop-culture-obsessed regular CAIRNS BLOG readers are likely to care about in the least, so I give up already.

On the flip side, regular readers of the News-Optimist and Regional Optimist will generally want nothing to do with THE CAIRNS BLOG or even THE REJECT REPORT. In fact, regular readers of the papers should be warned up front: this blog, THE CAIRNS BLOG, is completely self-indulgent. It tends to focus on entertainment, the media, TV, movies, as well as a regular roundup of news happenings around the world in my regular feature "News from Nowhere". There's also sports rants including more posts about auto racing than usual. Also, the blog is, ahem, a little girl-obsessed, so be ready for too many posts about beauty pageants and the semi-regular feature "Women I Love" saluting female celebrities.

So if you are a civic-minded News-Optimist reader checking out THE CAIRNS BLOG hoping to read about your important local issues here, be ready to be disappointed. Know in advance this site is completely different from what you'll get in the paper. Heck, it has to be different, it's my own site! I feel the need to point out again that my blog is completely independent and has nothing to do with the Optimist papers or its owners -- just as it is independent of what I do at FilmSchoolRejects.com. Moreover, I make a point here at the blog of not putting up any posts that might compete with the local news in the paper. As a result, you won't find much local stuff at all here -- and don't expect me to start. Heck, there's a place you can find my writings about local stuff. It's the News-Optimist blog, and when you get tired of reading that, pick up the Optimist papers and support the advertisers.

The message I want to send out at the end of the day is this: you now have one more outlet on the Web, a local outlet, in which to read the stuff I write about on a regular basis.You'll find a permanent link to those other rants right on the side blogroll near the top.

Again -- for my posts on hot topics involving local news in northwest Saskatchewan, check me out at the News-Optimist blog every Thursday for my latest over there! For all my latest columns on the motion picture box office, check out Film School Rejects.com and the REJECT REPORT! And for all the rest of my self-indulgent rants, keep it right here at THE CAIRNS BLOG as we continue to bring you all the latest!

Speaking of which -- tonight's the night I file another REJECT REPORT. It should be easy, as there's only one wide release this week: the god-awful-looking Couples Retreat.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

THE MEDIA IN CANADA IS A MESS: CANWEST GOES BUST, AND OTHER STUFF

I really enjoyed doing these silly Dave Letterman posts, and also my posts on cult B-movie actress Claudia Jennings from the weekend. What a hot, f*cking babe with a screen presence, folks. If you haven't seen a Claudia Jennings movie, you haven't lived. After writing about her, I'm now totally revved up and want to seek out the other movies she did that are out there on DVD.

It's a lot of fun writing about movies and entertainment, not only for this blog but everywhere else. Now, THE CAIRNS BLOG lifts itself up from the deep end of the pool to go back to talking about important matters that the chattering classes in this country care about. Such as the state of the media here.

WINNIPEG-BASED CANWEST GLOBAL: IN THE SINK

Well, I take no joy from this news about Canwest finally receiving approval for protection from creditors. Now, who knows what will happen -- probably the usual, more layoffs. What can I say, the media industry sucks these days.

People have been focusing on what will happen to all the TV stations but people forget that these guys at Canwest own most of the most prominent newspapers in Canada. If Canwest goes bust, what happens to these papers? There's a few rumblings about deals in the works to sell these papers. Where, who knows?

These sad news reporters at these media outlets may as well beg their favorite politicians for a job, because there is no hope left. Incidentally, one guy I know from radio did just that. He quit radio news and now is doing PR for the city -- and probably for more money. But I digress. 

On the subject of the Global TV stations, there is some speculation about the possibility of Canwest ending up foreign-owned. What foreigner wants them, though -- that's my big question. No doubt, though, this court protection from creditors will only add more fuel to all the debates in this country about whether the CRTC should force cable companies to hand over more loot to the TV networks -- loot, by the way, that is paid for by all of us working stiffs who pay for cable and satellite. Earlier this year the CRTC ordered the cable companies to give up some of their revenues to help pay for local programming, but they didn't order fees-for-carriage. In response to that, the cable and satellite companies decided to hike cable fees, provoking the expected outrage from cable customers, and blamed it all on the networks. The networks, meanwhile are all banding together with their Local TV Matters campaign, which is designed to basically force the federal regulators to hose the cable companies and force them to hand over fees-for-carriage to CTV, Global, CBC, and everyone else.

Lovely, eh? And if that happens, the cable companies will again turn around and hose the consumers to cover their losses. The kicker is, we're going to see no improvement with what we get on our own TV screens. We'll keep on seeing the exact same crap on TV we are seeing now. All that will be accomplished is that you'll be paying more money just to keep the local newscast on the air that shouldn't have to be cancelled to begin with. It just seems to me like civic-mindedness and community commitment is missing from the whole equation. None of these TV station owners seem committed to covering the news. All they care about is money.

As I have said before, the TV industry is all about.politics, bureaucracy and lobbyists in this country. Who cares about the actual viewers, it seems.

CKX BITES THE BIG ONE

Mind you, there is money being lost in this recession -- and there's been some more fallout from the money woes facing the smaller local stations in Canada these days. Earlier this year the E! Network station in Red Deer closed down completely when the network was shut down, and the A Channel affiliate in Wingham also closed. Now CKX Television in Brandon, Manitoba, CTV-owned but in reality an affiliate of the CBC, is the latest victim. It had been put up for sale by owners CTV at bargain basement prices ($1), and they had sold it on two separate occasions -- only for the buyers to back out both times. It happened for the second time last week, and this time CTV gave up the ghost and closed the station immediately, and laid everyone off. CKX went black immediately after its evening newscast Friday; after that, the local cable company replaced the CKX signal with the feed from CBC out of Winnipeg. This station in Brandon had been in operation since the mid-Fifties!!! It's really too bad - and I actually believe CTV when they say they didn't want to have to close the station. I think they just wanted somebody to just take it off their hands, as they only got the station as leftovers as part of the deal they made to acquire the CHUM empire. But they tried to sell it for months on end, and no one wants it. So now it's all over.

I can see why they would have problems there. Brandon is a community of something like 40,000 people, so I imagine there would be big problems finding advertisers willing to pay money these days in a market that small -- especially with all these other media options. But still -- Medicine Hat has a station, so does Prince Albert, same for Lloydminster and Yorkton. They could have made something work in Brandon like they do in those places. Then again, maybe those communities are next. 

As you know I lived in Manitoba for a short period of time, but my local TV came out of Winnipeg. I was never in the coverage area of CKX. But I do remember covering a local story on a new flight training facility for the air force that the CKX people drove in to report on. And I did travel to Brandon to do a story there one time, so this is definitely a sad time for that community. They really deserve better. Here's a look at the station as it faded to black.

Bye bye, CKX. Interesting that all these media woes in the past week are mainly affecting operations based in Manitoba, of all places. That is it for right now.

(UPDATE.) Here is an account of the final day at CKX-TV from the Wheat City Journal.