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.



May 2008 Archives

Nothing Lost on 'Fringe' Freaks

May 29, 2008 7:44 PM

Fox kindly screened an unfinished version of J.J. Abrams' “Fringe” pilot today. Yes, on the same day as the heavily anticipated “Lost” two-hour finale. Somehow, we at the Daily Blink don't think the 7 p.m. screening was as full as the 4 p.m. one.

The drama contains a heavy dose of the Abrams staples—a doe-eyed female, a plane crash, a mysterious mythology full of conspiracy theories. At the center of it all is FBI Agent Olivia Dunham, who could be the younger sister of “Without a Trace's” Samantha Spade.

The intrigue picks up when Olivia is called to investigate a mysterious plane crash, but it's not Oceanic Flight 815, although there is a passenger 108, which is the sum of the reappearing numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42 on “Lost.”

But back to the plane crash. It eventually leads Olivia to an airborne toxin that causes people to turn into something from Body Worlds and the brilliant but unstable Dr. Walter Bishop.

Lucky for “Dawson's Creek” fans, Dr. Bishop has a son, Peter, played by Joshua Jackson. Slacker Pacey is all grown up, with a genius IQ, a gambling debt and a falsified degree from MIT. OK, maybe he hasn't changed that much. Peter would be the Jack to Dr. Bishop's Locke. He calls the fringe science his father studies "pseudo-science."

The show also features some nifty graphics introducing the location of new scenes. They're kind of like “Alias'” location title transitions on a stakeout. You'll get it when you see it.

The pilot clocked in at 90 minutes, but is expected to air as a two-hour premiere during Fox's new Remote Free TV , which will feature limited commercial time. So what about the other 30 minutes? Expect some expanded scenes. We hope it means more cows.

Vlada Gelman

Got to Get Down to ‘Swingtown’

May 29, 2008 5:25 PM

SwingtownNext month CBS takes us to the time of love, marriage and making love with other married people in new series “Swingtown.”

It was a time before melons were the obvious innuendo and vintage porn mustaches were simply a popular expression of facial hair. Actually, I’m not really sure what time that was, since I was born in 1985, the magical year when Wham!’s “Careless Whisper” dominated the music charts.

However, the preview images and clips below suggest the 1970s were a very sexual time in America...

Read More »

Collectibles Reach New Heights

May 28, 2008 2:39 PM


You know how sometimes a hit sci-fi show with a super-dedicated cult following will release amazing, and very expensive, merchandise fit for any die-hard fan (cough, cough)?

Universal Pictures Digital Platforms Group has released full-size replicas of “Battlestar Galactica’s” Cylon Centurion robots—for sale for a cool $7,900.

Created through a deal with Fred Barton Productions, these replicas stand 7 feet tall and include electronic features, such as the robots’ trademark LED eye scan. There are two versions of this robot available, one from the original “Battlestar” series and one from the current version airing on Sci Fi Channel on Fridays at 10 p.m.

Full-size robot picture after the cut.

Read More »

NBC a Sure Bet

May 27, 2008 2:26 PM

Law & OrderAre you a gambling man? Try placing a wager the next time you turn on NBC.

Last week, “Dateline,” and episodes from the “Law & Order” series composed 630 minutes of NBC’s 1,320 minutes of weekly prime-time broadcast.

That means a single random minute of NBC during the week of May 18 had a 48% chance of being either “Dateline” or something from “L&O.”

Ditch the coin flip next time. Just flip on NBC and if Jack McCoy or Ann Curry appears, somebody just won a bet.

Andrew Krukowski

‘Idol’ Jottings

May 21, 2008 1:08 PM

Another season of “American Idol” rolls to a close, and the Daily Blink was on hand Tuesday at the Nokia Theater in downtown Los Angeles to see rock star extraordinaire David Cook and Shire-inhabiting David Archuleta sing their faces off.

After walking through security and getting our cell phones confiscated (lest we incur the wrath of Fox for Twittering that Simon said something mean), we took our seats and waited for the show to start.

Of course, considering that the last person to wear a watch was Dark Ages magician Merlin himself and the security at the Nokia Center had our only timepiece, we were trying to guess the time based on a sundial and Mr. Cowell’s 5 o’clock shadow.

During the audience warm-up, David Cook received a bigger pop from the crowd than Mr. Archuleta. But once the crowd heard of Mr. Archuleta’s harrowing journey up Mount Doom, they switched their favor.

Some notable signs spotted during the event were “My David Is Fun-Sized” and “Simon Needs a Hug.” A Brownie troop brought in letters that on one side spelled out “Brownies” and the other side spelled out “I Love David.”

Mr. Cowell also was visibly impressed with Mr. Archuleta’s bravery in the face of the orc horde, and declared a “knockout” of Mr. Cook, continuing to extend a ridiculous boxing metaphor that had the two dressed in ring attire and the audience having to listen to Michael “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble” Buffer.

Once Mr. Archuleta finished his final song, John Lennon’s “Imagine,” the audience rushed toward the doors, either because they wanted to be first in line to get their cell phone back or because second-season winner Ruben Studdard was closing the show.

Check the Daily Blink tomorrow for coverage of tonight’s finale, with special guests rumored to be anyone from George Michael—“the biggest star in the world,” according to Nigel Lythgoe—to Donna Summer and the Jonas Brothers.

—Andrew Krukowski

‘First Fans’ Fourth

May 18, 2008 8:50 PM

ReelzChannel, the cable TV network that covers the movies, has created a hit on the Internet. Each week, Travis Oscarson goes to a midnight showing of the biggest movie being released that weekend to talk to movie buffs for a segment called “First Fans.”

“First Fans” initially appears on the channel’s “Dailies” weekend show. Then it gets uploaded on Reelz Channel.com and posted on YouTube. It also airs as an interstitial on the cable network through Wednesdays. When “Iron Man,” Hollywood’s biggest blockbuster so far this year, was released May 1, ReelzChannel’s “First Fans: Iron Man” video drew more than 400,000 views.

On May 4 it was You Tube’s fourth most viewed video. Since it started, “First Fans” has generated more than 1 million views on YouTube.

— Jon Lafayette

He Shows Who’s Top Dog at CBS’ Show of Shows

May 18, 2008 8:30 PM

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

All together now: Practice, practice, practice.

Also, kiss CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler on the lips when she gets down on the floor with you and let her scratch you on your lower chest (only appropriate if you act on four little legs).

Last week at CBS’ upfront presentation, a 6-year-old Boston terrier named Pi reduced the SRO Carnegie Hall audience to a collective “awwwwwww” with one of those perfect moments on the fabled stage that signifies a performer has arrived.

After clips from the well-received summer reality series “America’s Greatest Dog,” Pi zoomed out from stage-right and across the stage, coming to a perfect stop in front of Ms. Tassler, who was scooched down and said what all hopefuls dread hearing: “I’m sorry. Auditions were last week.”

After one perfect hangdog look, Pi raced off stage-left. Pi is a rescue dog trained by Bill Berloni, who has made his name by turning rescue dogs into stars of Broadway shows including “Annie” and “Legally Blonde: The Musical.” He’s even written about it with Jim Hanrahan in “Broadway Tails: Heartfelt Stories of Rescued Dogs Who Became Showbiz Superstars,” to be published June 9 by Lyons Press. Pi, who needed much rehabilitation after being rescued from owners who kept him chained to a tree, is now a member of the Berloni family and has his own chapter in the book. He also appeared in “Doga: Yoga for Dogs,” the 2003 book by Jennifer Brilliant and Mr. Berloni, and has done print ads and TV commercials.

After his (bow)wow of an appearance for CBS, Pi and Mr. Berloni commemorated the debut by posing in front of Carnegie Hall for a picture taken by actress-pal Mary-Pat Green (if you’ve ever watched TV, you know her friendly face). That’s where Blink met the pooch, who is just as winning on the street as on-stage. The fact that Pi had the tough childhood that produces stars, is professional, is “Doga”-level flexible and plays well with others might make him perfect for TV, which has to work on tight schedules with actors who are quick studies and can hit their marks on cue, mightn’t it, Ms. Tassler?

“I’ll call casting,” the CBS executive said with a chuckle.

— Michele Greppi

Kids’ Piano All Wet

May 18, 2008 6:07 PM

The pouring rain during the “Today” show reunion concert of the gracefully aged New Kids on the Block Friday morning didn’t dampen any spirits among the soaked-to-the-skin NKOTB or their fans, who began lining up 48 hours earlier on the NBC morning show’s plaza to set an attendance record.

There was a tent, but the top of the big black grand piano had big fat globs of rain all over it. Blink just had to know how much water had to be bailed out of the piano after the concert. None, according to Ricardo Wilkinson, the operations manager for Best Music Rental, which is instrumental to the success of “Today” concerts.

“It didn’t really get that wet,” Mr. Wilkinson said.

Although NKOTB had begun rehearsing and sound checks hours before, the piano was kept covered until the moment it was needed during the performance in the show’s fourth half-hour. Best Music’s crew only had to towel off the piano, a Yamaha MP2. Emotional NKOTB fans needed to be toweled off, too, but not just because of the rain.

— Michele Greppi

‘Fringe’ Factor

May 15, 2008 12:08 PM

J.J. Abrams fans soon will have another show to geek out over. Fox’s “Fringe” is set to premiere in the fall with a two-hour episode, but that hasn’t stopped the network from launching a big promotional campaign right this very minute!

Promotional stunts for the series are planned all over New York City today, TelevisionWeek’s Josef Adalian reports.

Fox also passed along the following photos.

Dawson Creekers, rejoice! Images of Joshua Jackson in his comeback role are here. He’s still looking a little angst-ridden, but what do you expect after six years on the teen soap followed by forgettable film roles?

Jackson should have plenty to smile about come fall, though. He’s got a lead role in J.J.’s big spectacle, plus a leading lady (Anna Torv, below) who will no doubt create some sexual tension and become J.J.’s new Keri Russell/Jennifer Garner/Evangeline Lilly, and a very nice black scarf.

Take that, Katie Holmes.

“Lost” fans, put your inquisitive eyes and sharp brains to use. Tell us what hidden images you spot in these ominous posters.

Remember, you can never read too much into it when it comes to a J.J. Abrams show.

Images after the jump!

Read More »

How I Met Your Fashions

May 13, 2008 12:06 PM

Buy our stuff!

Marshall and Lily’s economic woes are your windfall. Viewers can make like Robin in Monday night’s episode of “How I Met Your Mother” and snag Lily’s designer duds on marshallandlilyselltheirstuff.com. There’s a pair of Marc Jacobs shoes, Ella Moss dresses, a Hei Hei jacket and plenty more.

Alas, the dress that earned Lily a two-syllable “da-amn!” is missing. Darn you, canadagirl@metronews1.com!

All the items come in Alyson Hannigan’s adorable, petite size. Perhaps that’s why they’re not selling too well.

Lily’s art, however, is proving to be a seller. The painting from last night’s episode is currently fetching $700. Not bad for art aimed at dogs. Unless that’s Lassie bidding out there.

But the most awesome item doesn’t come from Lily’s closet—it’s Marshall’s robot monkey head from Sharper Image. We always knew Marshall had a thing for apes (remember season one’s “Life Among the Gorillas” episode?). The furry, remote-controlled monkey head is a perfect addition to any home, where it will follow you with its animatronic eyes.

Other notable items:

- One devoted fan with a surplus of expendable income has bid $2,500 for a set visit with the cast.

- Ted’s “pulling them off” red boots? Not such a hot seller. Maybe Ted’s the only one who can work them? I say they’re better suited for a woman, one with very big feet (they’re size 11 ½).

- The fans want to suit up, and they want to do it wearing Barney’s stylish Hugo Boss suit.

Crazy as the bids may be, all the fannish, consumerist indulgence is for a good cause. Proceeds from the auction will benefit Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. And while charity is a virtue, you might want to remember that other important virtue: patience. You’ll need it to deal with the auction site.

Vlada Gelman

What’s Up With the Sudden Frenemy Frenzy?

May 11, 2008 9:00 PM

It’s not unusual to see stars crossing network lines to promote their show/movie/book/self, but head-to-head cross-bookings are once-in-a-blue-moon occurrences.

Jay Leno and Jimmy Kimmel visited each other’s late-night shows as a display of comradeship when both were broadcasting without the help of writers during the WGA strike, for example.

Last week, however, ABC’s Mr. Kimmel crossed the country—and the late-night competitive lines—to be a guest on CBS’ “The Late Show With David Letterman.” He joked that he was there to promote “Iron Man,” the box office hit in which he has no role.

A “Letterman” rep said, “We love Jimmy, and we’ve both been trying to make this happen for a long time.”

Among the broadcast networks’ morning shows, it has been a mini-trend to book polarizing cable news personalities, but they are usually found at other ends of the broadcast day. “Good Morning America” has had CNN Headline News’ prime-time conservative Glenn Beck make occasional appearances. “The Early Show” made a deal for weekly appearances by CNN’s self-styled populist Lou Dobbs (a deal that has lain fallow since the CBS morning show changed executive producers last year).

But last week NBC’s “Today” show did a segment about politicians appearing on comedy shows and introduced one of the guest commentators, Lola Ogunnaike, as a contributor of pop-culture pieces on CNN’s “American Morning.” Good for CNN’s morning show, which could use all the outreach promotion it can get. But why would “Today” book someone from another morning show, albeit one with a much smaller audience?

“We use guests and contributors from a variety of sources, including cable news channels. Lola is someone we’ve had before and we like her; her association with a cable show we don’t see as our competition shouldn’t disqualify her from an occasional appearance on ‘Today,’” said Jim Bell, executive producer of “Today.”

Hmmmm. Blink thinks CNN might want to stay on top of when the contractual window opens up for Ms. Ogunnaike, the former New York Times writer who also auditioned for “The View” in 2006.

—Michele Greppi

Take a Torch to It

May 11, 2008 9:00 PM

Executives looking for a peaceful way to cut staff now have the opportunity to do it “Survivor”-style.

CBS Consumer Products has announced an agreement with Fulais Industrial, a manufacturer of outdoor torches, to produce the Survivor Island Torch, enabling you, too, to stage your own tribal council—just check your local fire codes first.

The product is based on the one used in the show, the latest edition of which ended its run last night. The Survivor Island Torch will be available at retailers in 2009.

—Chris Pursell

Play Ball!

May 11, 2008 9:00 PM

All last week—prom week across the country—CBS’ “The Early Show” allowed its anchors to relive a part of their high school experiences during the morning show’s “Positively Prom Week” feature.

On Wednesday it was a dream come true for news anchor Russ Mitchell, who got to experience his childhood fantasy of playing baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals. The show surprised Mr. Mitchell, a St. Louis native, with the chance to play ball with Cardinals legends Tim McCarver and Bob Gibson in New York’s Central Park.

Mr. Mitchell, who was devastated when he was cut from his high school’s varsity baseball team in his junior year, later described the experience as “a big deal. Bigger than the prom."

—Tom Gilbert

Good Guys and Bad Guys

May 9, 2008 3:24 PM

And the villains of “Heroes” are…

All of the above.

NBC has released a new promo for “Heroes” and it reveals pretty much nothing. As most diehard fans already know, the third season is titled “Villains.” The promo says, “In every hero there could be a villain” before plastering the words “hero” and “villain” over the face of every major character.

Read More »

They're Action Figures, Not Fashion Plates

May 8, 2008 7:30 PM

The NBC Universal Television, DVD, Music and Consumer Products Group will release a set of action figures based on NBC’s hit series “Heroes” in June.

What do these “action” heroes look like?

Read More »

Messing Around at Paley Center

May 5, 2008 5:00 PM

MessingThe Paley Center for Media hosted an evening with actress Debra Messing on May 1 in Beverly Hills. Ms. Messing spoke about her acting career, the return of USA Network’s miniseries “The Starter Wife” as a full series and a certain scene that never made it onto NBC’s “Will & Grace.”

Ms. Messing said she grew up with TV, watching funny women including Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett and Tracey Ullman. She aspired to be a Broadway triple threat; although she was admitted to a conservatory to study performing arts, her mother insisted she attend a liberal arts school. She did, graduating from Brandeis University.

After appearing in some New York theater productions, including being the first Harper in Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America,” Ms. Messing went to Los Angeles to work on Fox’s “Ned and Stacy” and ABC’s “Prey.” She made a brief return to New York theater and then was approached by her agents with a script for “Will & Grace.” Ms. Messing said she hesitated at first, but a bottle of vodka and a lime later, she was on board.

Read More »

Think You Know Something About Golf?

May 2, 2008 12:13 PM

While the Daily Blink is happy to just take a Mulligan or three on the fairway, Juma Entertainment is revving up for part two of “Rules of the Game” on Sunday at 2 p.m. on CBS Sports and CBSSports.com.

The special will continue to test players’ knowledge of the intricacies of golf’s lesser-known rules, with the special using PGA Tour footage to demonstrate the game’s more unusual rules, and challenges viewers to test their knowledge against the pros.

Think you can’t beat the pros in golf? Guess again.

During the taping of the show, hosted by Bill Macatee, special guests and golf pros Bobby Clampett and Nancy Lopez estimated that probably no more than half of the PGA and LPGA players truly know all the rules of the game. In fact, when Mr. Clampett took the quiz from last year's “Rules of the Game,” he got just 7 out of 10 correct.

Last year’s airing on Aug. 17 matched the ratings of its live golf lead-in on CBS Sports. This time around, executive producer Bob Horowitz has brought in Gillette Fusion as title sponsor of the program.

Once again, viewers will get to play along live during the broadcast, testing their golf knowledge by going online to CBSSports.com or RulesQuiz.com and answering questions throughout the show. Those completing the quiz will be ranked according to the accuracy of their answers.

—Chris Pursell