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


October 2007 Archives

Painting the Big Apple ‘Tyra’

October 28, 2007 9:00 PM

New York is about to get a whole lot of Tyra Banks as the talk show host settles down in her new home. Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution will launch a new outdoor campaign for talk show "Tyra Banks" on Nov. 29. The campaign will plaster the former supermodel’s face across the Big Apple, including subways, phone kiosks and billboards, as the Monday-through-Friday strip entrenches itself in its new hometown. Production of Ms. Banks’ talk strip was shifted from Los Angeles to New York this summer in a move to freshen up the feel of the show. The company also will be providing the campaign to all affiliates to use for their local campaigns.
—Chris Pursell

Cartoon Rocks

October 28, 2007 9:00 PM

Kids will be rocking with the Hives this fall on Cartoon Network. The Turner Broadcasting-owned net got the Swedish band to write and perform a new song, "Fall Is Just Something Grownups Invented," as part of its refreshed branding for the season. Cartoon wanted a followup to its "Summer Song" from Cee-Lo Green of Gnarls Barkley, but something that rocked a little harder, said Jason DeMarco, associate creative director for on-air. Turner music consultant Mark Shimmel knew the Hives’ manager. The band members have kids and like cartoons, and a deal was struck. The band was in the studio recording new CD "The Black & White Album," and cranked out the tune in an hour and a half. Cartoon Net hopes kids will be humming the tune as they watch its new fall lineup, including series "Chowder" and the TV movie spinoff from "Ben 10" starring Lee Majors as Grandpa.
—Jon Lafayette

‘Kitchen’ Warriors

October 28, 2007 9:00 PM

Interactive entertainment company Ludia has signed a deal with Granada to create a video game based on Fox’s "Hell’s Kitchen" reality series for all major gaming platforms. Players will act as contestants on the show, cooking meals under the strict supervision of chef Gordon Ramsay, as well as serving guests in a virtual dining room. Mr. Ramsay will lend his voice to the project, but the developers haven’t yet decided to what degree his trademark profanity will be a part of the game. A spokesman said players likely will wield a knife in the kitchen, which should be fun for Wii owners. The game’s debut will coincide with the fourth season of "Hell’s" on Fox next year.
—James Hibberd

‘Entourage’ for a Day

October 28, 2007 9:00 PM

The "NFL Total Access" crew paid tribute to celebrity guest Jerry Ferrara Friday, as "Entourage’s" Turtle joined the team for a day to give his "Celebrity Picks" of the week. The Total Access team surprised Mr. Ferrara with its own "Entourage" spoof, with host Rich Eisen as the Vincent Chase character, Rod Woodson as Drama, Adam Schefter playing Eric and Marshall Faulk tackling the role of Turtle. Sports super-agent Drew Rosenhaus made a cameo as the Ari-esque agent. When joined on the set by Mr. Woodson and Mr. Faulk, Mr. Ferrara said he was honored that one of his favorite football players of all time took on his role in the spoof. An NFL fanatic, Mr. Ferrara manages four fantasy football teams and made the shock pick of the week, predicting the Washington Redskins would prevail over the undefeated New England Patriots. He later said he’ll look like a genius if he’s right and joked maybe it would lead to more regular appearances on NFL Net­work or a job during his hiatus from the show.
—Chris Pursell

A Virtual 'Heroes' Audience

October 28, 2007 9:00 PM

Why have a studio audience when you can have a virtual audience? That’s the philosophy at tech-savvy network G4, which plans to introduce a live virtual audience component to its weekly “Heroes” post-show recap on Saturday nights beginning Nov. 3. That’s when the network starts running the “Heroes” episode from the current season that will have aired on NBC the previous Monday night. For its show recap, G4 is using Webcam Internet company Stickam to let up to eight viewers participate live via their own Webcams and weigh in on the episode, the plot and the theories surrounding the show in a roundtable discussion with weekly guests and the show’s host, G4’s Kevin Pereira. “This is a way to harness the phenomena and attraction this series has and to migrate viewers from their online communities to linear live TV,” said Neal Tiles, president of G4. “G4’s strategy has been to bring Web-like functionality to linear TV. It’s really the only way for a network our size, which targets men 18 to 34, to effectively expect to attract those media nomads.” The integration of Stickam gives the network a toehold in what Mr. Tiles calls “user-influenced” content. That means viewers have a voice, but the network still maintains its brand. G4 has used Stickam on its news show “Attack of the Show” to let the hosts interact with viewers.
—Daisy Whitney

Getting All Your ‘Lucy’ in One Place

October 21, 2007 9:00 PM

The most-watched 89 hours and 54 minutes in television history is coming to a retailer near you—the whole thin, as Ricky Ricardo would say. CBS and Paramount Home Entertainment are releasing the entire"I Love Lucy" canon on DVD tomorrow; the series has until now been available in season-by-season sets, but this 34-disc, $199 compendium ties everything up nicely in an elaborate heart-shaped box and as a bonus throws in the unreleased 1953 "I Love Lucy" movie—a compilation of three episodes stitched together with special intro, outro and interstitial footage. The movie was designed to be released in theaters for folks in the flyover states who didn’t have TV sets (or even stations) yet. But because stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz signed with MGM right at that time to do the motion picture"The Long, Long Trailer," contractual issues forced plans to release the"Lucy" movie to be scrapped. Of particular historical interest is that the movie shows the then-innovative Desilu Playhouse stage, where three-camera sitcom production in front of a live audience was born. As were, of course, all those timeless episodes.
—Tom Gilbert

When Foes Collide

October 21, 2007 9:00 PM

The appearances by representatives of rival business news networks will be separated by two hours, but audiences may still expect sparks to fly Oct. 30 at the first Future of Business Media conference at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City. Planners last week added Fox Business Network and Fox News Channel business news executive and anchor Neil Cavuto as lunchtime speaker to the schedule, which already included a mid-afternoon speech by CNBC President Mark Hoffman. The one-day conference featuring a broad array of business and trade media executives is sponsored by ContentNext, which operates the Web sites paidContent.org, mocoNews.net and contentSutra.com.
— Michele Greppi

‘Blue’ Book

October 21, 2007 9:00 PM

What does an Emmy-nominated TV writer do to unleash his inner child? If you’re Roger Director, whose writing credits include series ranging from"NCIS" to"Moonlighting" to"Mad About You," you follow the team that’s been your obsession your entire life. Mr. Director has written the HarperCollins book"I Dream in Blue," for which he was granted access to the National Football League’s New York Giants during the 2006 season, detailing the emotional roller-coaster ride of a season that went 6-2 in the first half and 2-6 in the second."It was a crazy year with the team, but it was also one of the most fun years I’ve ever had," Mr. Director reports."This book let loose the 12-year-old kid inside of me." He compares TV writing and book writing as remarkably different takes for a scribe."The book writing process is an exercise in a writer’s bicep. You are allowed to blow off the box that contains all your adverbs and your multisyllable words as well as all your literary and historical references. That’s a fun box to blow the dust off, although it’s not as remunerative as writing for the TV business."
—Chris Pursell

Playboy’s Short Shorts

October 21, 2007 9:00 PM

Jealously eyeing the growth of YouTube, Playboy TV has decided that young men like their videos shorter. The adult pay channel has switched its prime-time lineup to a short-form format, and among the naughty bits is “Hot Babes Doing Stuff Naked,” in which viewers e-mail in scenarios for Playboy TV’s Hot Babes to perform. Already requests include house cleaning, tennis playing, skeet shooting, mechanical bull riding and deep sea fishing. Other shorter prime-time shows include “Totally Busted,” “Naked Happy Girls,” “Playboy News” and “The Playboy Radio Minute.” Coming in November is a new comedy series, “Canoga Park,” about a hapless adult film mogul and his crew. “The response to the new format has been tremendous,” said Todd Schwartz, VP of programming for Playboy TV. “The new broader programming mix has struck a chord with our viewers, and we believe we’ll increase the overall time spent viewing Playboy TV.”
—Jon Lafayette

Judge Young: Not One to Mince Words

October 7, 2007 9:00 PM

Sony Pictures Television has come up with the novel idea of putting a widget on its "Judge David Young" Web site, JudgeDavidYoung.com. In the vein of the old Magic 8-Ball that told fortunes by answering yes or no questions, Sony created an amusing "Magic Gavel" verdict generator featuring the tart-tongued judge, who at the click of a mouse provides questioners with such answers as:

"Oh, honey, pass the tissues! We all got issues!"

"I hope you look good in prison jumpsuits."

"If the Jimmy Choos don’t fit, I must acquit."

"This situation is bigger than Michael Jackson’s hair."

"You should definitely do it—as soon as you rethink your outfit."

"I think your idea is pathetic. Just like your shoes."

"Denial might be a river in Egypt, but it does not flow through my courtroom."

"Are you hiding devil horns under that hair?"

"Three words: Fab. U. Lousssss."

How’s that for sassy? Visitors to the site can grab the widget for their desktops (and stations carrying the new strip can grab it for their Web sites).
—Tom Gilbert

‘Real Housewives’ Gets Full Treatment

October 7, 2007 9:00 PM

For the return of its series "The Real Housewives of Orange County," Bravo isn’t just running a tune-in campaign, it’s running an engagement campaign. "The idea of a tune-in ad is just a very old-school idea," said Jason Klarman, executive VP for marketing and digital at Bravo. Ads starting next week have icons that tell consumers they can engage with the housewives on TV, online and via mobile. "It’s really more than a simple, ‘Hey, watch this at 10 o’clock,’" Mr. Klarman said. The campaign features the housewives on a game board, and the image is used in multiple media, including a billboard in Orange County. A "Live Like a Housewife" sweepstakes offers prizes including Manolo Blahnik shoes, a Dolce & Gabbana dress, a Tiffany bracelet and limo service for a weekend. The network also is offering some mall shoppers manicures, pedicures and jewel-encrusted "Housewives" slippers.
—Jon Lafayette


Another Nielsen Controversy Arises

October 7, 2007 9:00 PM

Phone calls were flying to Nielsen late Friday about the measurement company’s plan to issue network performance data this week comparing the start of the season last year (Sept. 18) to its start this year (Sept. 24). What’s wrong with that? Well, about a week, which at some point needs to be folded into the comparisons or you end up with an extra week at the end of the year. Two weeks into the season that’s fine, but once the low-rated holiday periods kick in, things get screwy for measuring how shows performed versus the same week last year. Come Thanksgiving, the ratings are no longer a cranberries-to-cranberries comparison. More to the point for networks: The early fall season story is sunnier for ABC under Nielsen’s current measurement, but would benefit Fox’s seasonal comparisons if the extra week were factored in now. The flap follows a scuffle over NBC’s use of a new Nielsen rule that allowed the network to issue a single rating for two airings of its "Heroes" premiere.
—James Hibberd

Making Smoke-Free Whoopi on ‘The View’

October 7, 2007 9:00 PM

"The View’s" ratings are smokin’ with the additions of moderator Whoopi Goldberg and comedian-actress Sherri Shepherd to veterans Joy Behar and Elisabeth Hasselbeck. However, Ms. Goldberg doesn’t want to smoke anymore, so on Oct. 15 the show is launching a weekly series, "Whoopi’s Kickin’ Butts." Viewers will hear her talk about her habit, explore different stop-smoking plans and techniques, learn what smoking does to the body and mark the Great American Smokeout on Nov. 15. Gee, it seems like just yesterday that Ms. Goldberg did a segment on products she can’t live without. One was an odor killer that so effectively removed the smell of smoke that people often were surprised to learn she was a smoker. "The View" was second only to CBS’ "The Young & the Restless" in 18- to 49-year-old viewers—its best competitive ranking ever—mdash;according to Nielsen data for the week of Sept. 24. "The View" posted its best scores since Rosie O’Don­nell’s final week in May in total viewers (3.68 million), women 18-34 (397,000) and women 18-49 (1.03 million). Year-to-year, last week it was up 14 percent in total viewers, 8 percent in women 18-34 and 1 percent in women 18-49.
—Michele Greppi