TelevisionWeek's Blink page is an industry must-read, taking a sardonic look at happenings across the television business. This wry coverage is extended online and updated throughout the week.



Top 'Dog' For A&E

September 25, 2006 12:00 AM

You gotta give credit to A&E for quickly turning around a one-hour special last week on the arrest of its signature personality Duane "Dog" Chapman. The special, "Dog: The Family Speaks," was seen by 4.5 million viewers, tying the network's previously most-seen program (a "Dog the Bounty Hunter" special covering Mr. Chapman's wedding). One would have expected the latest installment to take Dog's side in the dispute, but this special pretty much set up Dog and his family for no less than martyrdom. Mr. Chapman, who retrieved a serial rapist from Mexico in 2003, now finds himself facing south-of-the-border extradition because of it. In the special, Mr. Chapman claimed that going to a Mexican jail would surely result in his death, and there were plenty of heart-tugging shots of him kissing his children (perhaps for the last time!) and of his sobbing wife. By the way, bounty hunting is illegal in Mexico, which is why he was arrested-something the show's narration fails to mention (but which viewers can piece together if they listen closely to on-camera comments made by others). Needless to say, since the special ran, A&E has been receiving an enormous number of expressions of support for Mr. Chapman from viewers who hope his November hearing will result in his release. -James Hibberd

CMT Drafts Ad Game

To promote its upcoming reality series "Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team," CMT is launching an online game that allows viewers to create their own advertisement for the series. Selecting from an assortment of video and audio clips, viewers can string together their own trailer for the show, which premieres Sept. 29. "This game really allows us to engage viewers in a unique way by inviting them into the creative process, and ultimately be our mouthpiece for the new series," said Andy Holeman, VP of marketing for CMT. Viewers can send links from completed ads to their family members and friends. CMT will choose a winning ad from 10 finalists to run on CMT, and the winner will receive a free trip to see a Cowboys game. -James Hibberd

Do Journalists Really 'Need' Those Free Press Junkets?

Media research firm SRBI sent out e-mails last week to reporters who cover the television industry asking them questions about the annual advertiser upfront presentations put on by networks each May in New York. A call to SRBI confirmed that the client was confidential, but it seems at least one network is trying to figure out whether the bacchanalian upfront tradition is still worthwhile to journalists. One question asked whether "eliminating the upfront presentation parties would help in making reporting/coverage decisions," while others asked whether the parties allowed for interaction with senior PR staff, talent and network executives, and whether it would be helpful if networks set up information booths for press instead of parties. Blink's guess is that reporters are responding strongly in favor of the upfronts. However, the survey failed to ask reporters some of the most pertinent questions, like whether or not they enjoy receiving all-expense-paid trips to New York, dining at restaurants they could not otherwise afford and trawling for potential mates at boozy industry mixers. Then again, the networks and SRBI no doubt know the answers to those questions.-Christopher Lisotta

He's Lucky He's Phil Rosenthal

Phil Rosenthal is best known as one of the co-creators and executive producers of CBS's "Everybody Loves Raymond," but this year he's taking on a new job in prime-time comedy: actor. Looking to promote his new book, "You're Lucky You're Funny," Mr. Rosenthal appeared in a cameo on ABC's upcoming comedy "Help Me Help You" as a neurotic psychiatrist (not a stretch for a TV writer), but was so good, producers of the show asked him to come back. "I just finished my third episode," Mr. Rosenthal said. "It's like they ran out of actors in Hollywood." The comedy producer-to-actor jump is not unheard of; just ask one of Mr. Rosenthal's role models—Garry Marshall. Plus, moving in front of the camera comes with some benefits. "If the line doesn't work or a shot isn't right, it's not my problem," Mr. Rosenthal said. "I think about it and say, 'Wait a minute, I don't care.'" -Christopher Lisotta