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


June 2008 Archives

The Novel Side of Di Bona

June 29, 2008 8:50 PM

“America’s Funniest Home Videos” producer Vin Di Bona is getting graphic. The TV veteran is stepping into the realm of graphic novels and comic books through his new banner, Invisible Hand Studios, which will be developing properties that hold potential for film and television adaptation. The new entity already is collaborating with Devil’s Due Publishing on several titles.

“I believe the graphic novel presents the most unique and creative entry into the future of both television and film,” explains Mr. Di Bona. “With the launch of Invisible Hand Studios, we have the opportunity to ride the crest of what will be the new wave of storytelling.”

Already set to hit bookshelves from Invisible Hand and Devil’s Due in August will be the graphic novel “Serpo,” based on the alleged U.S. top-secret interplanetary exchange program between 12 Americans and aliens from the planet Serpo and the alleged ensuing cover-up conspiracy. The graphic novel was written by Jason Burns with artwork by Joe Eisma.

Two additional properties are being readied by Invisible Hand and Devil’s Due: “D.O.L.,” a franchise in the vein of “Ghostbusters” that follows two overzealous underdogs who, in the process of collecting overdue library books, inadvertently save the world; and “The Odd Squad,” a dramedy featuring a motley group with varied specialties who assemble to reinstate the government’s Office of Dimensional Defense (ODD) to investigate and battle supernatural forces and unexplained phenomenon. Mr. Di Bona explains it as “Monk” meets “The X-Files.” “D.O.L” was written by “Serpo’s” Jason Burns; “Odd Squad” was written by Nick Capetanakis and Todd Livingston with artwork by Brendon and Brian Fraim.

— Chris Pursell

Cowboys in the City

June 29, 2008 8:50 PM

WantedA squad of rootin’ tootin’ cowboys is being unleashed in major markets to help Hallmark Channel push its original movie “A Gunfighter’s Pledge,” starring Luke Perry.

The film is the centerpiece of Hallmark’s “Rough ’n’ Ready” festival of Westerns appearing in July. Today through Wednesday, the cowboys will be hitting such urban trails as Rockefeller Center and Times Square in New York; Venice Beach and the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles; Hyde Park and the Magnificent Mile in Chicago; Fenway Park and Boston Common in Boston; and Centennial Olympic Park and the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.

They’ll try to rope passersby into good-guy vs. bad-guy showdowns and deputize the locals. At the same time, they’ll be passing out tune-in info for “A Gunfighter’s Pledge” as well as information about the Rough ’n’ Ready festival and entering Hallmark’s Go West! Sweepstakes; the winner gets a trip to the Enchantment Resort out west in Sedona, Ariz. Yippee ki-yay!

— Jon Lafayette

The ‘Deal’ With the Hype

June 29, 2008 8:50 PM

Now that “Deal or No Deal” has become a national sensation on NBC, along comes the syndicated version, which aims to take things to another level.

NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution unleashed local market promos this month featuring host Howie Mandel, shot in the Los Angeles area this spring. The promos feature Mr. Mandel and the models confronting people at various locations (a grocery store, dry cleaner, beauty salon, at a family’s dinner table) and applying the now-iconic phrase to their everyday lives, whether it’s for the price of their groceries or what’s for dinner.

“We're fortunate that we can draft off the success of the prime-time version of ‘Deal or No Deal,’ a well-known brand from coast to coast,” said Betsy Bergman, VP of marketing for NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution. “That allows us to focus our efforts entirely on getting the message out that all-new half-hour episodes of ‘Deal or No Deal’ are coming five days a week starting Sept. 8 on your local station.”

The upcoming strip, considered by analysts to be the highest profile of fall’s new syndicated shows, will launch phase two of the promotion in July featuring the set of the show, while phase three will launch in August and highlight gameplay from the series.

“Because the game is so popular and the phrase ‘Deal or No Deal’ has become part of people's everyday lives, we took a light-hearted approach to our first tease phase,” Ms. Bergman said. “And with Howie being such a natural comedic talent, he really made the spots come to life.”

— Chris Pursell

Sneak a Peek at New ‘Office’ Webisodes

June 26, 2008 3:58 PM

NBC.com will debut “Kevin’s Bank Loan,” a new set of webisodes for “The Office,” on July 10. Take a sneak peek below at Kevin’s misadventures in gambling debt and Darryl laying his smooth-talking charm on a woman with “a vest of very high quality.”

Read More »

Whedon’s ‘Horrible’ Trailer

June 25, 2008 2:58 PM

Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

Remember that writers strike about some newfangled thing called the Internet? Well, let go of the bitterness of having lost new episodes of your favorite shows and being spoon-fed reality programming, because the writers strike actually gave birth to a new venture from Joss Whedon.

Because Whedon doesn’t have his finger in too many pies already, he and his brothers Zack and Jed, plus Jed’s fiancée, Maurissa Tancharoen, got together during the strike and wrote “Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog,” a three-part, 10-minute Web musical about “a low-rent super-villain, the hero who keeps beating him up, and the cute girl from the laundromat he’s too shy to talk to.”

“Doctor Horrible” stars Nathan Fillion (“Firefly”) as hero Captain Hammer, Felicia Day (one of the many slayerettes during “Buffy’s” last season) as cute girl Penny and Whedonverse newcomer Neil Patrick Harris as Doctor Horrible.

Today, the teaser trailer made its debut. You can’t really hear any singing, but it sure looks nice for a Web production.

Check it out after the cut.

Read More »

TheWB.com Gives ‘Everwood’ Fans Hope

June 24, 2008 2:16 PM

Everwood

Hoping to be transported back to those middle school days when the biggest question during science class was, “Are Dawson and Joey finally going to stop hyper-verbalizing and get together in tonight’s season finale?,” the Daily Blink signed up for TheWB.com’s beta site.

Dawson and Joey were nowhere to be found (yet), but the Web site, which will feature shows from The WB (“Roswell,” “Gilmore Girls”) as well as other Warner Bros. TV-produced offerings (“Friends,” “The OC”), does finally allow cult cousins Buffy Summers and Veronica Mars to fight evil demons and philanderers side-by-side. The site, which is scheduled to launch in August, also will have original short-form series from producers McG and Josh Schwartz, TelevisionWeek reported.

But for all TheWB.com promises, it’s missing one dearly beloved but canceled show: The WB’s “Everwood,” the first show created by ABC’s current triple dynamo Greg Berlanti (“Brothers & Sisters,” “Dirty Sexy Money,” “Eli Stone”).

Read More »

Behind the Scenes at Daytime Emmys

June 23, 2008 1:43 PM

RegisThe 35th annual Daytime Emmy Awards on Friday included record wins, Regis and talking about butts.


Sitting backstage in the press tent, we were privy to seeing lifetime achievement award recipient Regis Philbin talk about working with Joey Bishop, while informative talk show winner Tyra Banks continued her discussions of booties from her acceptance speech.

Read More »

California Dreaming

June 18, 2008 3:56 PM

Californication

BLINK loves all things California; having grown up here we love when movies and television series try to capture what it means to be a Californian (whether resident or transplant).

"Californication" captures just the right tone—its snarky, insider-y self-loathing take on Hollywood, liberal parenting, living on the Westside and the anything-goes culture of life in Los Angeles is vicious and mean, and might be unrealistic if it weren't balanced by great writing, a genuine love for the city and BLINK's real-life observations of the similarly insane lives of people all around us here in L.A.

Read More »

Falling Down for Fun and Profit

June 17, 2008 4:44 PM

For those jonesing to see people fall down, ABC’s Tuesday-night lineup starting June 24 will fill the bill.

“Wipeout,” premiering at 8 p.m., is essentially an American version of Spike TV’s Japanese-derived “MXC,” with snarky voiceover hosts insulting contestants getting thrown all over a huge obstacle course.

Of course, “Wipeout’s” game “Big Balls” doesn’t hold a candle to “MXC’s” “Floaters and Sinkers.”

But, the falling down doesn’t stop there because premiering at 9 p.m. is “I Survived a Japanese Game Show,” where 10 American contestants are flown to Tokyo to take part in a … wait for it … a Japanese game show.

The lineup of games includes “Chicken Butt Scramble,” in which contestants break balloons dressed as chickens, and “Why Is This Food So Hard to Eat?” In that game, one teammate runs on a fast treadmill while another tries to eat food off the running teammates head.

Both of these shows received pretty positive reactions at ABC’s upfront presentation, so drawing any comparisons between these shows and the movie “Idiocracy’s” faux-hit show “Ow, My Balls” is a bit premature.

Click play to get a jump on all the getting-hurt goodness.

Andrew Krukowski

Rickrolling With the WWE

June 16, 2008 2:02 PM

As much as we all either really love or really hate the whole “Rickroll” phenomenon, it’s nice to see Rick Astley make an appearance outside of the Internet realm in the most unexpected place possible: the wrestling ring.

For those unfamiliar (and if you’re on the Internet and unaware of Rickrolling, that may be an oxymoron), Rickrolling involves giving out bogus links to a video of Mr. Astley’s 1980s hit record, “Never Gonna Give You Up.”

The WWE kicked off its Million Dollar Mania last Monday, with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon calling up winners live during USA’s “Monday Night Raw.” Mr. McMahon’s first call hits a stumbling block in the form of “Never Gonna Give You Up.” (After the jump...skip ahead to the 11-minute mark).

Read More »

The ‘Host Whisperer’ Reflects on Regis

June 15, 2008 8:50 PM

Reege makes a good guest but a better host. In fact, his peers say he’s the best. Just ask Peter Lassally, once dubbed “the host whisperer” by the New York Times for having been executive producer for such late-nighters as Johnny Carson, David Letterman and, now, Craig Ferguson.

In a recent conversation occasioned by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Lifetime Achievement Award to be given to Regis Philbin Friday, Mr. Lassally talked about the co-host of “Live With Regis and Kelly,” whom he met 20 or so years ago at a reunion of NBC pages.

“We became friends. Good, close friends. I’ve never worked with Regis except when he was a guest. I was a fan of his, because I’ve seen all his different talk shows. Three of the guys I have worked with, namely Johnny Carson, David Letterman and Craig Ferguson, all are in awe of Regis and would say to me, ‘How does he do it? He can have a bad guest and make them look good.’ I know from experience that any host can have a bad guest and die with them, but Regis somehow doesn’t do that. And yet he’s as insecure as most performers off-camera. So he doesn’t believe it when I say, ‘Well, Dave thinks you’re just the best there is.’ Regis’ [on-camera] relationship with Letterman is sensational. Regis used to be a very bad guest for many years, until he somehow found a hook in saying, ‘I wanna be friends with Dave.’ Ever since he found that, he became better and better and better. So now it’s all, ‘Poor Regis, Dave won’t go out with him, Dave won’t be his friend,’ and it’s a sensational arrangement. Now he’s a great guest. Whenever Dave needs security, he asks Regis to be the guest. That’s his anchor.”

—Michele Greppi

Slipped Disks

June 15, 2008 8:50 PM

Viewers might have noticed something unusual in Thursday’s episode of “Swingtown” on CBS. No, not the stylish period threads the men were wearing.

Near the end of the show appeared one of those ads usually seen in the middle of the night or amidst reruns on cable, hawking a Time-Life collection of songs from the ’70s. The spot featured Peter “Easy Rider” Fonda as pitchman, urging viewers to call an 800 number to buy the “Flower Power” CD collection.

But wait, there’s more: If you order now, you also get two-disc bonus set “The Summer of Love”!

Broadcast networks rarely run such direct-response commercials in prime time unless they have got open slots. And “Swingtown,” about wife-swapping in the Chicago suburbs during the 1970s, has drawn the ire of groups like the Parents Television Council, which is asking stations to preempt the show and urging viewers to boycott its advertisers.

CBS said in a statement that the ad ran because “‘Swingtown’ was the perfect environment for the commercial content, given the similar era and that music is a big part of the program.”

—Jon Lafayette

In-the-Mood Music

June 15, 2008 8:50 PM

Can you name the first song you, well, the first song you yada-yada-yada-ed to?

Be prepared, because if you’re hanging out at music bars and clubs this summer, you might get asked that question by a reporter from the original comedy series Web site MyDamnChannel.com.

The Web site signed a mid-six-figure sponsorship deal late last week with Southern Comfort to create a branded-entertainment Web series centered around music. Starting in July, the partners will launch “MyDamnChannel Music Nights.”

The Web site’s host, Grace Helbig, will visit clubs in New York and Los Angeles and pose those sorts of provocative music-related questions to the patrons.

Blink’s bet? Sade’s “Never as Good as the First Time” will be among the answers.

—Daisy Whitney

Decibel Dilemma

June 15, 2008 8:50 PM

Some TV commercials may be a blast, but U.S. Rep. Anna G. Eshoo doesn’t want them to be loud as well. The California Democrat is proposing the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, or CALM, to require the FCC to create rules ordering TV spots to air at the same volume as the programs they accompany.

An aide said the legislation developed from Rep. Eshoo’s own anger at the high volume of TV ads, and not from constituent complaints.

“Most Americans are not overjoyed to watch television commercials, but they are willing to tolerate them to sustain free over-the-air television. What annoys all of us is the sudden increase of volume when commercials are aired,” she said. “A TV program has a mix of audio levels. There are loud and soft parts. Nuance is used to build the dramatic effect. Most advertisers don’t want nuance. They want to grab our attention, and to do this, they record every part of it as loud as possible.”

—Ira Teinowitz

Playing 'House' in Hollywood

June 13, 2008 12:14 PM

An enthusiastic audience gathered Thursday to show "House" some love during its crusade for Emmy nominations, part of the Los Angeles Times' screening series at the ArcLight Cinemas. After screening the Emmy-bait conclusion to its two-part season finale, "House's" cast and creators chatted with the Times' Mary McNamara and took questions from the house.

Turns out the two-part season finale was supposed to be the episode that aired after the Super Bowl, but that annoying writers strike messed up that plan. However, series creator/executive producer David Shore said, "It worked out very nicely. It gave us more time to establish the Amber-Wilson relationship."

Read More »

Double the ‘Battlestar’ Blink, Double the Fun!

June 12, 2008 4:12 PM

Battlestar Cast

A Scene From "Battlestar": (From Left) Rekha Sharma, Mary McDonnell, Edward James Olmos, and Michael Hogan.

TelevisionWeek sent a two-person Blink team to cover the premiere of “Battlestar Galactica’s” midseason finale June 11 at Hollywood’s ArcLight Cinema. The screening, hosted by the Los Angeles Times, was part of Sci Fi Channel’s “For Your Consideration” campaign for the show.

For the purposes of clarity and impartiality, the premiere was Blinked by a die-hard fan of the show and an observer seeing it for the first time.

After the jump, the newcomer’s segments are the ones in italics, in case you couldn’t figure that out...

Read More »

CBS Flies North for the Summer

June 10, 2008 2:20 PM

FlashpointCBS will add to its roster of acronym-filled police procedurals in July with “Flashpoint,” a drama that focuses on the exploits of cops in the fictional Canadian SRU (that’s “Strategic Response Unit”) purportedly inspired by Toronto's Emergency Task Force.

After running out of U.S. cities to give the “CSI” treatment and stocking prime time to brimming with doppelgangers “NCIS,” “Without a Trace,” “Cold Case,” and “Criminal Minds,” the network has turned to the Great White North for its latest iteration in a pathologically forensic lineup.

“Flashpoint,” premiering Friday, July 11, on CBS at 10 p.m., stars Ona Grauer and native Canadians Hugh Dillon (“Degrassi”) and Enrico Colantoni (“Just Shoot Me”) as Ontario’s answer to SWAT.

Clip below.

Read More »

CBS Goes to the Dogs

June 9, 2008 5:14 PM

DogsHave you ever channel-surfed aimlessly, hoping you’ll stumble onto some bitch fights?

Thanks to CBS’ new summer schedule, you can stop that aimless surfing and tune in to “Greatest American Dog.”

The competition series pits a dozen dog-and-owner teams against each other in a series of talent competitions for a chance at $250,000. Sneak peek clip, including dogs on skateboards, pooches in legwarmers and canine tattoos, after the jump.

Read More »

Go-Go Griffin

June 6, 2008 3:34 PM

Comedian Kathy Griffin returns to explain her life as a low-level celebrity as Bravo gears up for the fourth season of “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List.”

In these preview clips, Ms. Griffin focuses on her relationship with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (which has dissolved since shooting), her Emmy win (where she famously proclaimed that the statuette was her god now and told Jesus to “suck it”) and the death of her father (who died during the shooting of the show’s third season)

It’s good to see that Kathy’s mom is fighting the good fight against the impending SkyNet takeover as she tells The Woz that she wished they would stop now with this whole microchip thing.

“These computers are totally running our lives. It’s sad, it’s sick,” she says.

Scoff now, but in the near future, when Roombas march in lockstep across a barren wasteland and Asimos gallop up stairs like bipedal pros, we’ll wish we had heeded her warning.

The fourth season of “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List” premieres at 9 p.m. June 12 on Bravo.

Opening Up With ‘Big Love’

June 5, 2008 12:17 PM

Big Love

Creators Will Scheffer and Mark V. Olsen and actors Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloë Sevigny, Ginnifer Goodwin and Bill Paxton.

The Los Angeles Times’ Envelope kicked off its Emmy screening series Wednesday with a screening and discussion of HBO’s “Big Love” at Hollywood’s ArcLight Cinemas. In attendance were creators Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer and actors Bill Paxton (Bill Henrickson), Jeanne Tripplehorn (Barb Henrickson), Chloë Sevigny (Nicki Henrickson) and Ginnifer Goodwin (Margene Henrickson).

It was a night of firsts, marking both the Envelope’s first Emmy screening series and the first year that the show is eligible for an Emmy nomination, due to timing issues.

The evening began with a “fun-reel” montage summarizing the past two seasons, which made the polygamist family drama look like an edgy comedy. Describing young Rhonda’s betrothal to the much older prophet Roman, the snarky young-sounding voice-over declared, “She’s 15-ish and he’s, like, old. That’s creepy,” before moving at lightning speed through the rest of the montage.

“Bill’s a very busy man,” the deadpan voice-over reminded the audience repeatedly over scenes of Bill having sex with his three wives. “Bill pops a pill.”

Bill’s going to need many more pills if the closing of that “fun reel” (“There’s no fourth wife…yet.”) is any indication.

Video after the cut.

Read More »

Philbin’s Making Another ‘Million’

June 2, 2008 1:43 PM

PasswordIt’s possible that you can get Regis Philbin to show up for a hosting gig just by sticking the word “million” in the title.

If “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” and now “Million Dollar Password” are any indication, then maybe “My Cousin’s Junior High Graduation Party Million” or “Home Videos of My Million Cats” aren’t far behind.

On Sunday night, CBS brought back the first episode of the old “Password” game show for its fourth go-round (it was revived twice previously, in the ’70s and the ’80s) as “Million Dollar Password,” with a jacked-up jackpot and celebrity contestants.

Authentic Television Personalities(TM) Neal Patrick Harris and Rachael Ray appeared on the premiere. Still to come are Philbin favorite Rosie O’Donnell and “Brothers and Sisters” star Steven Weber.

Reege began developing the show last year, and, as usual, he can hardly contain his excitement, as seen in this behind-the-scenes clip, after the jump.

Read More »

CNN Takes a Ride

June 1, 2008 8:42 PM

As part of a new cross-platform promotion set to kick off today, NASCAR is invading CNN for six weeks. Each Monday for the duration of the promotion, which coincides with the NASCAR on TNT summer series, CNN anchor Robin Meade will ask viewers one NASCAR question on “CNN Morning Express.”

Viewers are asked to respond on CNN’s iReport.com user-generated Web video site. Every Friday, NASCAR driver and TNT NASCAR analyst Kyle Petty will answer the weekly question, then the winning weekly iReport will be shown on “CNN Morning Express” the following Monday.

The most creative iReport, selected from among all submissions over the duration of the contest, will win the grand prize: a trip to Atlanta to watch the Oct. 26 “CNN Morning Express” show live and spend the day with Ms. Meade at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. TNT’s coverage of the races, part of the Sprint Cup Series, begins June 8 with the Pocono 500 in Long Pond, Pa., and ends July 12 at Chicagoland Speedway for the Lifelock.com 400, at which Ms. Meade will be an honorary guest and will ride in the official pace car.

The promotion runs until July 11.

Chris Pursell