About

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.

Blogroll

Blink


September 2007 Archives

Nick Gets in Sync With Naked Brothers

September 30, 2007 9:00 PM

In the never-ending pursuit of new digital opportunities, Nickelodeon is getting into the kid karaoke business. The real-life teen rock stars of the network’s mockumentary show "Naked Brothers Band" will release their first CD, a soundtrack from the show, on Oct. 9. In support of the release and an Oct. 6 hourlong TV movie starring the band, the network will let kids upload audio and video files of themselves singing along, karaoke-style, to the music of the Naked Brothers Band. The user-generated musical concoctions will run live on Nickelodeon.com and on Turbonick.com, where other kids can watch, rate and send recordings to their friends. Nickelodeon said it will apply these tactics to other music-related properties coming down the pike. —Daisy Whitney

A Little Something

September 30, 2007 9:00 PM

If two weeks seems like an eternity to wait for the launch of Fox Business Network on Oct. 15, there is a Web site that may tide you over: FoxBusiness.com, which was set to debut at 12 a.m. today. The microsite will transform into the FBN online gateway on launch day. In the interim, it features the talent, some of whom double as executives, talking in 30-second clips about what viewers can expect from them and about their approach to covering business news. There are personalized Web pages with headshots, biographies and blogs for each of the on-air personalities. —Michele Greppi

Agency Games

September 30, 2007 9:00 PM

"Hollywood Hotseat," In Touch Weekly’s traveling live celebrity-
trivia game show that pits advertising agency teams against one another for a trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, hit the Skirball Center in Los Angeles Tuesday. The event, hosted by game show veteran Chuck Woolery, featured five-person teams from Carat, DDB, Horizon Media, Initiative, Mediacom, MediaVest, OMD, RPA, Universal McCann and ZenithOptimedia. The winner was Initiative, after a face-off with RPA. The L.A. game was the second to be mounted by the magazine; the first took place Sept. 20 in Chicago. Next stop: New York, on Tuesday.
-—Tom gilbert

Two-Timing ‘Heroes’

September 30, 2007 9:00 PM

The highly rated return of NBC’s "Heroes" was blemished after the network opted to take advantage of a new Nielsen Media Research rule that allowed NBC to tout a single, cumulative rating for two airings of its "Heroes" premiere (from Monday’s debut and a Saturday repeat). Competitors and advertisers cried foul to Nielsen, accusing the fourth-place network of double-dipping to boost its premiere rating. "NBC didn’t do anything illegal—they’re using a rule," says Preston Beckman, Fox’s scheduling head. "NBC has every right to run the show with the same commercials and have some kind of cume rating. It’s Nielsen’s obligation to still supply the industry with a separate program rating for both nights." Nielsen is re-examining the rule in light of the protests, and most expect the policy to change. Alan Wurtzel, NBC’s president of research and media development, said including non-premiere viewing is a worthy goal for all networks in the digital era, and that NBC was merely complying with Nielsen’s rule. "We never asked Nielsen for this," Mr. Wurtzel said. "Everybody got the notice that Nielsen was changing their rules. Nobody should have been surprised. We didn’t tell Nielsen how to calculate this—they told us." —James Hibberd

Sketchy Advertising

September 30, 2007 9:00 PM

The Aug. 31 sketch started innocuously enough: NBC’s "Late Night" host Conan O’Brien joked to bandleader Max Weinberg that Miller had asked him to do an ad for its new Miller Chill beer, but he had refused because doing so would cheapen his image. Mr. Weinberg suggested Mr. O’Brien shoot and air the ad in Japan, where American viewers wouldn’t see it. Seconds later, viewers were watching an anime version of Mr. Weinberg, with Miller Chill bottles for arms, slaying a dragon as two giggling Japanese women looked on. So is that a sketch or an ad, anyway? "I’d call it a ‘live’ commercial, with the ‘live’ in quotation marks because it was pre-taped," said Shari Post, VP of daytime and late-night sales at NBC. "I wouldn’t call it a sketch." As Ms. Post explains it, NBC pitched the idea of a Conan-written spot to Miller after it got wind of the No. 2 U.S. brewer’s ambitious national launch plans for Chill, its new lime-and-salt-infused light beer. Brewers are constantly looking for ways to reach elusive 20-somethings, and Mr. O’Brien’s audience is rife with them. For a cost of "definitely more than a 30-second spot," according to Ms. Post, Miller didn’t get any input into the writing of the sketch, but it was able to review—and could have vetoed—the finished product, primarily in order to make sure it didn’t contain any underage drinking scenes. —Jeremy Mullman, Advertising Age

It’s All in the Family for ‘Big Brother 8’

September 23, 2007 9:00 PM

The “Big Brother 8” season finale, held Tuesday at CBS’ Studio City, Calif., stages, revealed “Evil” Dick Donato as winner of the first-place $500,000 prize, with his daughter Daniele coming in second. The once-estranged father and daughter, unwittingly placed together in the Big Brother house as part of a plot twist, managed to beat out 12 other contestants to make it to the final remaining spots. Fans and family members showed their support for the winner by sporting “I Love Dick” and “Got Dick” shirts—phrasing some worried (correctly) could and would be misinterpreted. The greenroom tent backstage was filled with Hollywood-hungry former “Big Brother” contestants returning to bask once more in reality show glory. However, the brightest spotlight remained on Mr. Donato, who said he plans to use his earning to travel around the world. —Stephanie Robbins

Casting Pearls

September 23, 2007 9:00 PM

The Los Angeles-based ad agency Stun Creative recently went hog-wild on a promo campaign for Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” featuring series star Mike Rowe and a live, 200-pound pig. (It should be noted that Mr. Rowe’s extensive resume of dirty jobs includes a stint as an artificial inseminator for such animals.) The spots, shot over a white, pristine background, are in stark contrast to the filthy, grimy world usually wallowed in by Mr. Rowe, who was in characteristic jocular mode when assessing his involvement in the campaign: “For nearly three years, I have been continually upstaged by dozens of species and countless barnyard animals. Now, the visionaries at Stun Creative have placed me next to an enormous swine in a widespread marketing campaign. Naturally, I have fired both my agent and my publicist, and am currently seeking new representation. However, I must admit that Stun Creative has done a masterful job of calling attention to the underlying themes of ‘Dirty Jobs’ while launching the career of an anonymous pig at the expense of my own.” —Tom Gilbert

Party Lines

September 23, 2007 9:00 PM

In what hopefully will become a trend toward centralizing Emmy-night events in downtown Los Angeles, more than 1,200 partygoers converged on Los Angeles’ Disney Hall for the annual “Entertainment Tonight”/People magazine post-awards party, presided over by “ET” executive producer Linda Bell Blue, left, with Disney-ABC’s Anne Sweeney and CBS Television Distribution’s Terry Wood. It was the first time in the soiree’s 11-year history that it was held downtown; in recent years it held forth at the Mondrian hotel’s Skybar on the Sunset Strip. The new location, a quick jaunt by car from the Shrine Auditorium, offered three valet lines, little congestion and three spacious levels in the hall for mingling, plus an expansive outdoor patio outfitted with popular freebie cosmetic bars by Maybelline and Garnier. Spotted after house band Duran Duran completed its set: “So You Think You Can Dance” winner Sabra Johnson and finalist Neil Haskell doing an impromptu free-style routine to the grooves of DJ Jason Bentley. Other Emmy-night hosts take note: Why not make it easier on guests next year by holding your events at least in the same ZIP Code as the ceremony? —Tom Gilbert

Rosenfield of Glory

September 23, 2007 9:00 PM

Nearly 100 executives from all over the United States converged at New York’s “21” Club last week for a surprise “Roast & Toast” gala in tribute to Jim Rosenfield Sr., who was president of the CBS Television Network from 1978-82 and then executive VP of the CBS Broadcast Group from 1982-85. The event was spearheaded by a group of ex-CBS sales executives, including Albert Crane, Barbara (Babs) Clark and Dick Robertson, and Mr. Rosenfield’s daughter Laurie. Walter Cronkite, Mike Wallace, ex-CBS Broadcast Group President Gene Jankowski and Nielsen CEO Jon Mandel were among the notables on hand for the evening, which featured entertainment by—who else?—CBS vet Bob Schieffer and his Honky Tonk Confidential band.
—Tom Gilbert

Fox Burnishes Its New Baby

September 16, 2007 9:00 PM

Fox really is going for the gold with its logo for the Fox Business Network, which launches Oct. 15 on cable systems that have committed some 30 million subscribers.

The logo Fox is revealing incorporates the word “Business” in the Bitsumishi typeface with the trademark 20th Century Fox logo font and Klieg light rays.

Fox Business Graphics VP Ray Lambiase said the design that emerged from a collaborative process “tapped into the equity of the Fox brand and yet was maybe a little fresher.”

As viewers will see over time, Mr. Lambiase said the logo’s three main elements can be rearranged in “slightly different variations to accommodate the multiple applications that you need in a logo to live with it.” —Michele Greppi

Fox Business Netowrk logo


Can Beauty Tame the Beast on ‘Jerry Springer’?

September 16, 2007 4:23 PM

With former “Jerry Springer Show” bouncer Steve Wilkos on center stage with his own syndicated show, where will the producers of Jerry’s program turn for security? Why, to a trio of law-enforcement beauties, of course.

The series added a feminine touch to its broadcasts for the show’s upcoming season, tapping Mimi Madrigal, Katie Darwin and Mari Flores as Mr. Springer’s security detail this fall. All three are currently off-duty law enforcement officers.

“The last time I got arrested it was by these three women,” said “Springer” executive producer Richard Dominick. “They were very forceful and impressive, so I gave them a job.”

Ms. Darwin, who according to a press release is 5’8” and blond, is from “the Sox side of town” and has served in law enforcement for three years. Ms. Madrigal has been a member of Chicago’s finest for 10 years, while Ms. Flores is a nine-year police veteran who stays fit by salsa dancing, according to the release.

“The truth is, with these three women, our security has never been better (looking)!” said show host Jerry Springer.

“Springer” begins its 17th season in national syndication this week.

—Chris Pursell

Billboards to Raise Hell

September 16, 2007 4:22 PM

To promote its devilish fall series “Reaper,” The CW on Wednesday unveils smoking billboards in New York City and Los Angeles. Rick Haskins, the network’s VP of marketing and brand strategy, had the idea after seeing the show’s artwork, which has a trio of “Reaper” characters set amid a fiery, scorched background. “There’s so many different billboards, we were trying to find a way to set ourselves apart in a way that’s organic to the show,” Mr. Haskins said. The only worry: That Cartoon Network marketing debacle earlier this year, where Boston residents mistook promotional light boxes for bombs. What if motorists passing the “Reaper” billboard assume that where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and call 911? “We’re very concerned about that, but if you look at actual visuals of the painted smoke and fire [on the billboard], I think people will get the gag,” he said. The billboards, which will spew a nontoxic substance that’s similar to smoke from nightclub fog machines, will raise hell for about a week.
—James Hibberd

Nick’s Viral Video

September 16, 2007 4:22 PM

Nickelodeon isn’t letting the user-generated video revolution pass it by. As part of its “iCarly” show, the kids network is searching for young video auteurs. One of the recent talent finds: a brother-sister duo who can balance spoons across their faces—not just on the nose, but one on each cheekbone and one on each ear. That’s five spoons per face if you’re doing the math.
If that sounds suspiciously like the not-ready-for-primetime material choking YouTube, hold on: The pilot episode of “iCarly” drew 13 million viewers across multiple airings its first weekend, more than 1.1 million streams online and nearly 300,000 unique viewers to icarly.com.
The fictional host of the new Web show within an actual TV show discovered the pair. Here’s how: On the cable show, main character Carly is the host of an Internet show. In the pilot episode that premiered Sept. 8 on Nickelodeon, Carly urged kid viewers of her fictional show to go online to icarly.com and submit their most bizarre talents. Turns out, more than 7,500 real kids went online and uploaded videos in the first two days, including the spoon-balancing siblings. The spoon-hangers’ talents will be featured on an upcoming on-air episode.
—Daisy Whitney

Designs on HGTV

September 2, 2007 9:00 PM

The second season of HGTV's "Design Star" won't end until Sept. 16, but the network has already begun accepting applications for contestants for season three.

"Everyone thinks they have what it takes to be an HGTV design star, so this is the chance for potential finalists to quit armchair quarterbacking and get in the game," said James Bolosh, VP for event programming at HGTV.

The network expects contestants to have design talent (obviously), be able to execute their ideas and have a strong on-camera presence. Season three will air in 2008 and folks who want to try out can visit HGTV.com/Design Star. Once a winner is picked by viewers, production begins on that person's new show.

It can be a long-lasting gig; HGTV said season-one winner David Bromstad's show "Color Splash" has been picked up for three more seasons. -- Jon Lafayette

Mitt Romney Ads Wanted

September 2, 2007 9:00 PM

You may choose to praise political ads or to bury them, but former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is, so far, the only presidential candidate giving voters the chance to write his. The Romney campaign has unveiled a contest for best Romney campaign ad and is promising to pay to air the winning ad the week of Sept. 20.

To make the task somewhat simpler, the campaign has put video, photo and audio clips on a Web site, Mitt Romney.com/YourAd. Submissions are due by Sept. 17 and visitors to the campaign's Web site will vote on a winner.

Chief media strategist Alex Castellanos describes the effort as "truly groundbreaking" and says it demonstrates the Republican's willingness to use "unique and democratizing online tools to engage voters," but the campaign says no decision has been made on how often or where the ad will air. -- Ira Teinowitz

'The View' Mugs Sans Mugs

September 2, 2007 9:00 PM

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut Tuesday as moderator of ABC's "The View," but neither her mug nor the mugs of fellow "ladies of 'The View'" Barbara Walters, Joy Behar and Elisabeth Hasselbeck will be on the ABC Daytime show's fall 2007 coffee mug, which will be unveiled the following week.

Instead of the usual collection of cast faces, the $20 tomato-red receptacle will be emblazoned with artistic squiggles and a colorful rendering of the table around which each day's "hot topics" are discussed.

Was the departure from tradition perhaps an attempt to break a two-year jinx that led to the exits of three regulars -- Meredith Vieira to become co-anchor of NBC's "Today" show and Star Jones and Rosie O'Donnell for less propitious reasons? No, said ABC Reality Programming Director Randy Barone, who oversees "The View" and its merchandise.

The mugs are "a huge seller with the ladies' faces," Mr. Barone said. But the three-month production lead time meant a mug design had to be chosen before the Aug. 1 announcement that Ms. Goldberg had landed the coveted role of moderator. Mr. Barone promised that faces will adorn the winter 2007 or spring 2008 "View" mug.

"You're just going to have to wait a little longer," he said. -- Michele Greppi