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September 2008 Archives

Video Remembrance: Paul Newman

September 29, 2008 12:16 PM

Much of the opportunity for young New York-based actors to hone their craft in the mid to late 1950s was on television. One of the young actors making the rounds in those days was Paul Newman, who died Sept. 26 at the age of 83.

Almost all of TV was broadcast live in those days, and there were a number of drama series on the air. Most of them were broadcast from TV studios in New York. Furthermore, most of these series were anthologies, meaning every week a different story was broadcast with a new cast—they were not continuing series with the same cast of characters.

‘BANG THE DRUM SLOWLY’

By mid-1956 Mr. Newman had appeared in more than 20 TV productions. He’d also made two movies. The first one, “The Silver Chalice” in 1954, was a costume drama that Mr. Newman himself later said almost ended his career before it had really begun.

Read More »

Bravo Gets ‘Swingtown’ Reruns

September 28, 2008 8:41 PM

Swingtown

Set your DVRs to “groovy”: Bravo is giving viewers a chance to relive the 1970s. The NBC Universal-owned cable network has acquired the off-net rights to all 13 episodes of the CBS summer series “Swingtown.” The series will begin airing on Bravo later this fall. Bravo’s deal comes as CBS Paramount Network Television has been shopping “Swingtown” to various cable networks in an attempt to get a second season of the retro show. CBS hasn’t officially canceled “Swingtown,” but a renewal by the network is considered a long shot. The Bravo deal is a strict acquisition agreement brokered via CBS’ syndie division. However, optimists inside CBS Paramount are no doubt hoping that, if ratings for “Swingtown” on Bravo show some sizzle, the cable network might be convinced to begin producing original episodes. A Bravo executive, however, said the studio “is dreaming” if it thinks such a scenario will play out. The costs associated with making new episodes would be too high, and Bravo executives would likely want their first original hour to be a project that hadn’t aired on another network first. Still, if “Swingtown” does spark on Bravo, it might give other cable networks—or even CBS—an incentive to consider giving the show a second chance. As far as Blink is concerned, that would be dy-no-mite.

—Josef Adalian

‘Starter’ Fashions

September 28, 2008 8:40 PM

Starter Wife Fashions

The business of networks these days is to take their brands beyond the small screen, so it’s not surprising that USA Network’s new series “The Starter Wife” is trying to spill over into the realm of fashion. USA made a deal with handbag designer Lauren Merkin, who worked with series star Debra Messing to design a clutch her character Molly will carry during the season’s final episodes. The “Molly clutch” will retail for $295, but a lucky viewer will be able to win one as part of a text-to-win sweepstakes. USA also got illustrator Sujean Rim to create a signature T-shirt for the show. Thousands were given away during Fashion Week in New York, and the hoi polloi will be able to purchase it starting in October at the NBC Experience Store in New York and online. “For USA, these unique partnerships demonstrate a fresh approach to extending the ‘Starter Wife’ brand into the fashion arena while providing fashion-conscious consumers the opportunity to tangibly connect with Molly’s stylish sensibility,” said Alexandra Shapiro, senior VP for brand marketing and digital at USA.

—Jon Lafayette

Stormy Weather

September 28, 2008 8:40 PM

Hurricane Ike

The descent of Hurricane Ike on Galveston, Texas, earlier this month, prompted the Weather Channel to change its plans and lead off the new season of “When Weather Changes History” with an episode about the famous Galveston Hurricane of 1900 that wiped out the city and led to the growth of Houston. Why would people in the hard-hit Gulf Coast want to hear any more about devastating storms? “At the Weather Channel, our goal is to inform and protect people in both our live and long-form programming,” said Ray Ban, executive VP for programming and meteorology. “We knew a program about the lessons from Galveston—with parallels between the 1900 hurricane and the recent impact of Ike—would be very relevant for our viewers and needed to be our season premiere.” Originally the Weather Channel planned to launch the season on Oct. 5 with a show about the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. That episode will air Oct. 12.

—Jon Lafayette

Roast Lauer, Anyone?

September 28, 2008 8:40 PM

As fans of Matt Lauer well know, the “Today” show co-anchor is a fastidious man who shies away from anything dirty. Of course, the jokes and put-downs at Mr. Lauer’s expense are certain to get D.I.R.T.Y. Oct. 24, when the Friars Club roasts him at a big-ticket luncheon in New York. “Today” jokemeister Al Roker will be the Roastmaster. Mr. Lauer’s “very nervous, actually. I talked to him about it,” said Jeffrey Ross, the raunch-ready comedian known as the Friars’ “Roastmaster General.” “He’s excited and anxious at the same time. He’s such a class act. I feel like he has a very good sense of humor. He loves comedy. I think he’s a perfect guy to roast.” The fact that the roast this year is neither televised nor open to the press may make Mr. Lauer a little less anxious, but Blink nevertheless asks the question: Does anyone make a verbal version of hand sanitizers?

—Michele Greppi

Suited to a Tee

September 28, 2008 8:40 PM

Justin Timberlake

In the weeks leading up to his Oct. 16-19 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas, Mr. Timberlake—a golf enthusiast—is appearing in a pair of promos on the Golf Channel, which will telecast the PGA Tour event live. The promos depict Mr. Timberlake as a one-man grounds crew meticulously preparing the course; PGA Tour pro Duffy Waldorf whispers: “Dude, aren’t you taking this hosting a golf tournament thing kind of seriously?”

—Tom Gilbert

Music Creates Party Mood for HBO

September 22, 2008 3:36 PM

HBO's post-Emmy party

What: HBO's post-Emmy Awards reception

Where: The plaza at the Pacific Design Center

When: Sunday, Sept. 21

Entertainment: A DJ playing everything from Madonna to Justin Timberlake to Earth, Wind & Fire rocked some fierce beats. But what made the music stand out even more was the live drum accompaniment timed to match the beats of the music.

Decor: In a word, stunning. The theme of Brazilian carnivale included fire coming from candles in flower centerpieces and flaming torches, as well as lots of green décor and lighting. Two platforms high above the action let guests take in the entire scene below. The walls featured street murals hyping HBO and some of its party partners. It might be sensory overload, if it weren’t for the vast space and wonderfully laid-back vibe of the room.

Food: Portuguese chicken with potatoes, lemon, peppers and tomatoes; roasted sea bass with spicy red balana sauce and lemon; grilled black bean cakes with avocado and grilled sweet corn guacamole; banana and spice braised green empanadas with curry crème fraiche; Brazilian-style ratatouille with eggplant, tomatoes, sweet peppers and zucchini; guava panna cotta; coconut black rice pudding; Portuguese chocolate bread pudding; mango pudding. Not to mention the Godiva booth with a dozen different varieties of exotic truffles, which was a chocaholic’s dream come true.

Jeremy Piven

Jeremy Piven on drums

Highlights: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Emmy winner Jeremy Piven and nominee Bret McKenzie from “Flight of the Conchords” banging on the drums with DJ Ravidrums as partygoers looked up and snapped pictures; “30 Rock” winner Alec Baldwin dancing with a bevy of female admirers; “90210’s” Michael Steger wandering over to young starlets Hayden Panettiere (“Heroes”) and Amanda Seyfried (“Big Love”), who had been chatting for a while; an influx of non-HBO stars trickling in from other parties, including Kate Walsh (“Private Practice”), David Boreanaz (“Bones,” not “The Bones,” Heidi) and Jennifer Morrison (“House”) sticking close to Amaury Nolasco (“Prison Break”). “The Amazing Race” executive producer Bert Van Munster, celebrating his sixth Emmy win, said he was going to go for No. 7 next year. And yes, that was Kenneth—er, Jack McBrayer—giddily downing a glass of Champagne (or was it white wine?) with a big ol’ smile on his face.

—Vlada Gelman and Josef Adalian

TV Guide Party Takes on Asian Air at the Kress

September 22, 2008 3:20 PM

TV Guide's post-Emmys party

What: TV Guide Emmy after-party

Where: The Kress, Hollywood

When: Sunday, Sept. 21

Entertainment: DJ Samantha Ronson continued the weekend rounds. Live performances from indie rock favorites MGMT and the Bravery.

Decor: The Kress takes a nod from the land of the rising sun, with a chic Japanese feel including VIP couches and chaises, cherry blossoms, paper cranes and bonsai trees. Most of the action happened outside, behind the club’s building, under giant projections of Japanese art. Also floating about were busgirls in short-skirt kimonos and performers in full geisha regalia. Photo booths also gave attendees the chance to grace their own TV Guide covers.

Food: Sweet corn dim sum, salmon served as tiny ice cream cones, goat cheese balls covered in various sesame and poppy seeds, and a wide variety of sushi rolls. Nabisco Toasted Chips sponsored a cracker bar featuring cheese, fruits, veggies and dips. And crackers. Lots of crackers. Olay Definity provided the wine and sake bar. The house open bars served a variety of themed cocktails, including Mad Margaritas, On the 30 Rocks and According to Jim Beam.

The Bravery

The Bravery

Highlights: Lindsay Lohan joined friend Sam Ronson for the night. Lauren Conrad and Lo Bosworth made the rounds, but no Audrina Partridge sighting (at least none Blink can attest to personally). MGMT and the Bravery rocked out to a younger crowd than, say, Billy Idol in downtown Los Angeles. Several cast members of “The Office,” including B.J. Novak and Brian Baumgartner, showed up following their visit to the Governors Ball. Seth MacFarlane, still glowing from his $100 million deal with Fox, chatted up some lovely young women. Blink also spotted ABC Entertainment Executive VP of marketing, advertising and promotion Michael Benson among the throng. The Kress solidified its spot on the list of popular haunts for young Hollywood types, though for all Emmy intents and purposes, the better parties were in other parts of town.

—Sergio Ibarra

Billy Idol Rocks the House at 'ET'/People Bash

September 22, 2008 3:06 PM

ET's Emmy Party

What: The “Entertainment Tonight”/People Emmy after-party

Where: Walt Disney Hall

When: Sunday, Sept. 21

Entertainment: Billy Idol, continuing this event’s annual “I Love the '80s” theme. Past performers have included Duran Duran and Prince. Also keeping the crowd happy: Smooth jazz king Dave Koz, who performed outside.

Decor: Other than lights, both colored and spelling out sponsors’ names, the interior of the Frank Gehry-designed Disney Hall was pretty unadulterated. Party planners took full advantage of the space, using the garden for Maybelline/Garnier giveaway stands and Coppola Wine bars and tucking food stations into the venue’s various nooks and crannies. And there were helpful crossroads-style signs to lead people to different sections of the bash (especially useful for those pop-culture arbiters who may never have been inside the temple of high culture).

ET Party

Fun TIMES Anne Sweeney and Terry Wood mixing it up at the Disney Hall affair.

Food: A little bit of everything, spread over the many levels of the Disney Hall. Bacon-wrapped figs were a nice combination of sweet and salty. The sweet potato/mashed potato bar made an encore appearance this year, allowing guests to garnish their carbs with luxe toppings (truffle butter, anyone?) And Crumbs Bakeshop had a corner offering a wide variety of their monster cupcakes, with sweet flavors such as Oreo and Raspberry Swirl. Bartenders were nearby pouring mixes of Bailey’s, Kahlua and/or milk to go with the cupcakes. Elsewhere, Grey Goose mixologists had a range of cocktails ready to go.

Highlights: One expects the inside of the concert hall to have good acoustics. The surprise was that, performing in an area of the lobby, Billy Idol and his band sounded pretty great. The group was beyond retro, with Idol sporting leather pants with a studded crotch, but everyone in the crowd was singing (or at least mouthing) along with the lyrics. Once you get “Dancing With Myself” stuck in your head, it never goes away. Idol made a token effort to tailor the lyrics of “Hot Summer Night” to the occasion, singing about the “hot Emmy night,” but people including Showtime’s Matthew Blank seemed to be just as happy to hear his old hits in the original.

ET Party

Behind the Scene Lara Spencer and Linda Bell Blue of Entertainment Tonight at the Entertainment Tonight Emmy Awards Party.

With its location not too far from the Nokia, as well as its notorious gift bags as a lure, the "ET" party appeared to be the second stop after the Governors Ball, with Chi McBride searching for his “Pushing Daisies” castmates Lee Pace and Kristen Chenoweth (Pace, check; Chenoweth must feel even tinier around those two tall gents), and Amy Poehler parting the crowds as Will Arnett and their entourage trailed behind.

Neil Patrick Harris also appeared popular with those in attendance. He even gave mad props to “Survivor” host and Emmy winner Jeff Probst, who was literally jumping up and down with delight.

Also spotted: Sitcom legend Valerie Bertinelli, who’s preparing to begin production on her TBS comedy pilot and next year is planning to launch a talk show with CBS Paramount. The Jenny Craig spokeswoman said she avoided the many caloric temptations by popping breath mints.

Blink also spotted Kathy Griffin acting quite A-list by completely skipping the red carpet. That didn’t stop a photographer who jumped off the line and ran to snap Ms. Griffin as she entered Disney Hall through the civilian entrance. Blink kibbitzed with Ms. Griffin as we rode up the escalator, noting that five years ago she never would have missed a red-carpet opportunity. She nodded knowingly and pointed out that she now has two Emmys. Blink then accidentally stepped on Ms. Griffin’s very long dress. The conversation was over.

—Josef Adalian and Lisa D. Horowitz

Comedy Central Plays the Host

September 22, 2008 2:51 PM

Stephen Colbert and Sarah Silverman

Stephen Colbert and Sarah Silverman

What: Comedy Central after-party

Where: The club STK in Hollywood.

When: Sunday, Sept. 21.

Entertainment: A DJ spinning classic tunes.

Food: Simple appetizers, including spoon-based samplings of prime rib and bite-sized morsels of sautéed mushrooms on toast. Specialty cocktails and martinis were available at the door, along with champagne.

Highlights: A friendly atmosphere early in the night, with celebrity-gazing limited to stars on the lower rungs like “Reality Bites Back” winner Theo Vonkurnatowski. David Alan Greer, of Comedy Central’s newest show “Chocolate News,” also made the rounds. Later into the night, Comedy Central’s main talent started to filter in, including Sarah Silverman, “Daily Show” talent John Hodgman and Jason Jones and the Emmy-winning purveyor of truthiness himself, Stephen Colbert.

—Andrew Krukowski

Martin Name-Checks Closed Captioners

September 22, 2008 1:38 PM

Steve Martin

Steve Martin

In one of the highlights of “The 60th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards,” Steve Martin presented a commemorative Emmy for writing to right a wrong he felt had been done 40 years ago to Tommy Smothers, “one of my comedy heroes.”

Mr. Smothers and his brother, Dick, fronted “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,” a controversial and ahead-of-its-time CBS program that suffused variety elements with political humor that ultimately got the show canceled.

Mr. Martin, who had been hired as a writer for the show in 1967, recalled that Tommy Smothers, fearing his name would be a lightning rod, had removed his name from the list of writers who won an Emmy in 1968.

“His passion and his intelligence guided us writers, resulting in a controversial show that was perspicacious, multifarious and only sometimes placatory,” Mr. Martin said. “And believe me, I only use those words to see how closed-captioning will spell them.”

The closed-captioner didn’t even attempt “perspicacious,” and rendered “multifarious” as “multifair yus” and “placatory” as “placatory.”

That’s TelevisionWeek’s spell check for Mr. Martin.

—Michele Greppi

Music and Drink Flow, Food Doesn't at Governors Ball

September 22, 2008 10:09 AM

2008 Emmys Governor's Ball

What: Academy of Television Arts & Science's Governors Ball

Where: Los Angeles Convention Center

When: Sunday, Sept. 21

Entertainment: Cubano Classico with Michaelina

Decor: Diamond-anniversary elegance brought to life by Dwight Jackson and Sequoia Productions.

Food: A return engagement by Patina chef Joachim Splichal peaked with the yummy avocado and king crab appetizer. A sad little saucer containing a small cut of New York strip steak, a single skewered prawn, an asparagus spear and a potato cube passed as the main course, followed by chocolate caramel mousse with raspberries. On a more positive note, Piper-Heidsieck champagne was proffered to guests as they crossed the street from the ceremony to the ball, and Grey Goose vodka was practically flowing from fountains once inside. Lots of wine and Dove chocolates, too.

Highlights: With its dark, fabric-draped walls and glittering, diamond-inspired light fixtures, the tres tony 2008 edition of the ATAS Governors Ball didn't seem all that different from the Shrine Auditorium Emmy galas of years past—except that, thankfully, it was all on one floor, so much better for people-watching. The "30 Rock" table stayed jammed until Alec Baldwin finally took off for the HBO party around 11 p.m. The "Mad Men" crew stuck it out as well, with actor nominee Jon Hamm, clearly one of the evening's sensations, proving a gracious loser as he greeted well-intentioned well-wishers all evening long. Seen table-hopping: Tommy Smothers, Jon Stewart, Kevin Dillon, Betty White, Heidi Klum, Marcia Cross, Teri Hatcher. Cubano Classico provided just the right touch with its Latin big band sound.

—Tom Gilbert

Staying Put

September 21, 2008 7:00 PM

Kathy Griffin

A Lifetime spokesman assures Blink there is absolutely no truth to Friday’s rampant Internet rumors that Emmy-winning D-lister Kathy Griffin, following the lead of “Project Runway,” would also be defecting from longtime home Bravo and taking her act to the women’s network. Ms. Griffin, who just won a second Emmy for reality program for her “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List,” was first reported to be mulling such a move in Friday’s New York Post, which cited a “well-placed source” as saying Ms. Griffin was being lured to the Lifetime fold by the promise of a late-night talk show, among other goodies. The news, valid or not, hit the Web like paparazzi at an A-list opening, though it came as something of a shock to Bravo, which termed it “surprising, since we’ve picked her up for another season of her series.”

—Tom Gilbert

Tough Cookies

September 21, 2008 7:00 PM

The View

For those of you who might have missed it, the ladies of ABC’s “The View” pretty much raked Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain over the coals on their Sept. 12 show, accusing him of lying about Democratic opponent Sen. Barack Obama in his TV ads and mercilessly pressing him about exactly how his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, intends to “reform” Washington. Well, the show paid off in spades—the edition was the fourth-most-watched in the talk fest’s history and also delivered the series’ highest-rated week in a year and a half among total viewers. Considering the political hardball these women can play, Blink thinks ABC might do well to bump George Stephanopoulos and program a special Sunday political edition of “The View” opposite “Meet the Press” and “Face the Nation”—at least until the election.

—Tom Gilbert

Tanks a Lot

September 21, 2008 7:00 PM

TMZ Wrapped Tanker Trucks

Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution apparently is into “TMZ” for the long haul. This month the distributor is outfitting petroleum tanker trucks with the TMZ logo and the slogan “Keeping Hollywood Real Since 2007” and dispatching them onto Los Angeles’ busiest freeways. For two months the tankers will serve as moving billboards for the celebrity-stalking strip, which is entering its second season. WBDTD also has launched a series of TV commercial touting the show’s “viewer benefits,” in which wannabe celebrities express heartfelt gratitude for the lessons they have learned by watching the real stars’ everyday behavior—good, bad or just plain odd—on “TMZ.”

—Tom Gilbert

Kickin' It, NBC Style, at Spago

September 21, 2008 8:36 AM

  • TVWeek's Emmy Central 2008, full Emmys coverage here.


    Lindsay Lohan and Hayden Panettiere

    Lindsay Lohan, left, and "Heroes'" Hayden Panettiere attend NBC Universal's pre-Emmy party at Spago.

    What: NBC Universal pre-Emmy party

    Where: Spago

    Entertainment: DJ Samantha Ronson was spinning a corporate-friendly mix of tunes. Early on, we heard some classic soul and pop tunes. By night's end, things were getting more current (think Rihanna's "Disturbia"). And yes, Lindsay Lohan was by her side most of the evening. (We only pointed and gawked once.)

    Decor: Spago, without the outside tables. A neon Peacock and a few signs congratulating nominees were the only indications this was an NBC bash.

    Food: Passed appetizers were a mix of classic Wolfgang (tuna cones, smoked salmon pizza) with some more modern bites (Kobe beef skewers). The dinner buffet offered a crunchy Thai chicken salad, rave-worthy gnocchi and a very tender beef with onions. Seafood lovers could gorge on a wall of crustaceans and other oceanic delights. Dessert selections included neon-green petit fours and freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

    Kathy Griffin and Ben Silverman

    Kathy Griffin, left, and NBC Universal's Ben Silverman.

    Highlights: Besides Lindsay and Sam? Conan O'Brien and wife Liza arrived early and held court for a couple of hours in a corner booth toward the back of the restaurant. Hard to fathom, but this time next year, O'Brien won't have to travel nearly so far to attend the Emmys. Fellow "Saturday Night Live" alum Tina Fey had much of the room, even executives, in awe a week after her bravura turn as Sarah Palin. The "Heroes" cast were all over, while "Access Hollywood" and "Today" contributor Maria Menounos mingled mightily. NBCU Entertainment Co-Chairmen Ben Silverman and Marc Graboff worked the crowd, crossing paths with USA Network chief programmer Jeff Wachtel and agents including Endeavor's Rick Rosen and Ari Greenburg, ICM's Greg Lipstone, UTA's Rob Kim and Debbee Klein of Paradigm. Kelsey Grammer, who produces "Medium" for NBC, stopped by, as did several of Fey's "30 Rock" co-stars. Although "Project Runway" soon will leave the NBC Universal family, star Tim Gunn was still a welcome guest this year, as was Andrea Wong, the Lifetime leader who masterminded the deal to steal "Runway" from NBCU-owned Bravo. Also spotted: NBC reality guru Craig Plestis, NBCU marketing chief John Miller and former NBC Entertainment chief Garth Ancier, who's now running BBC America.

ATAS Fetes Performer Nominees

September 21, 2008 8:27 AM

  • TVWeek's Emmy Central 2008, full Emmys coverage here.


    2008 Emmy Nominees Reception

    What: The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ 2008 Performers Emmy nominee reception

    Where: Wolfgang Puck at the Pacific Design Center, West Hollywood

    When: Friday, Sept. 19

    Entertainment: A five-piece band on the patio, including (unless our eyes deceived us) a vibraphone!

    Decor: Wolfgang Puck did it in his customary style: modern, slick and understated. Nominees, guests, executives and assorted hangers-on were greeted by a phalanx of wait staff lining either side of the entrance with trays carrying glasses of white wine and Pellegrino. The dining area opened gracefully onto the patio, where partiers could try on pricey diamond jewelry modeled after architectural marvels around the world, listen to the band and sip cocktails.

    Food and drink: ATAS and sponsors Dove Chocolates, Grey Goose and Beaulieu Vineyard put on a lavish event. One highlight: A seafood table that rivaled the cathedral of Notre Dame, with crab legs that could have served as flying buttresses. When the buffet got rolling, comfort food such as mini meatloaf and mac ‘n' cheese had the crowd queuing up. Attentive wait staff mingled with platters of mini pigs in blankets and smoked salmon-topped pizzas crowned with dollops of caviar. But back to the seafood: Oysters, shrimp, lobster tails (or were those just Paleolithic langostas?) and sushi.

    Highlights: Sarah Silverman playing the incongruence card, rocking a refined, high-necked dress in a slightly retro print against her raunchy, potty-mouth TV persona. Actress Phylicia Rashad looking refined and fine in a satiny black jacketed number. “Grey’s Anatomy” star Sandra Oh in a sleek, yellow, sleeveless sheath. Actress Kate Linder in kicking black boots and a feral animal-print dress accented with a low-slung belt. “Two and a Half Men’s” Jon Cryer looking relaxed in a black jacket with crisp white shirt. “Mad Men’s” Jon Hamm not wandering far off character in a slick gray suit and thinnish blue tie. ATAS COO Alan Perris working a crowd where he apparently knew everyone. PR magnate Dick Lippin enjoying old friends and family, working the crowd, looking refined, chilled-out and happy.

    —Greg Baumann

ABC Tunes Up Music Video-Style Promos

September 18, 2008 11:54 AM

ABCStart spreading the news: ABC is again using music videos to help hype its lineup.

Duplicating a strategy it used last year, the network has put together several videos featuring scenes from its returning shows set to full-length songs. “Dirty Sexy Money” is being touted with a song from Lady Gaga, while the entire ABC lineup gets exposure in a clip set to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

But this year, ABC is taking things a step further to promote “Ugly Betty.” The network convinced the cast to record a slightly reworked version of the classic “New York, New York” in order to commemorate the show’s shifting production from Hollywood to New York.

It probably didn’t take much to get the actors to lend their voices to the promo. “Betty’s” cast includes a number of theater and music veterans, including Vanessa Williams, who’s had more than a few hit singles during her career.

Check out the “New York, New York” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” videos behind the cut.

Read More »

Fox Nixes Post-Emmy Party

September 16, 2008 2:14 PM

Didn’t get your usual invite to the 20th Century Fox/Fox Broadcasting Emmy bash? Don’t worry: You haven’t been demoted to the D list.

2007 Fox Emmy party at Spago

Last year Spago took over half of Beverly Hills for last year's post-Emmys bash hosted by Fox/News Corp.

It turns out the News Corp. companies have opted to skip an Emmy bash this year. The event, usually held at Spago, has become part of the Emmy night party circuit for TV types, along with soirees hosted by Entertainment Tonight, HBO, TV Guide and the TV Academy itself.

So what’s behind the decision to bump the bash?

“In the current economic climate we felt it more appropriate to focus our spending on development, production and marketing our programming,” representatives for the studio and network said in a joint statement. “We will recognize our Emmy winners individually.”

Another contributing factor might be that one of Fox and 20th’s big Emmy magnets—“24”—wasn’t broadcast this year, denying the studio and network some notable noms.

Meanwhile, the remaining Emmy events are adding some talent to their big nights.

“ET,” which has a habit of enlisting 1980s superstars such as Prince and Duran Duran to perform, has arranged for Billy Idol to let out his “Rebel Yell” at its Disney Hall fete.

TV Guide is going cutting-edge. It’s booked of-the-moment rockers MGMT and The Bravery to rock its party.

—Josef Adalian

The Buzz! on ‘Money’

September 14, 2008 8:45 PM

Buzz! Magazine

ABC is getting into the gossip game, launching a scandal-filled magazine called Buzz! The folks at Us and Star can relax, however; Buzz! is a fictional rag that will run only as an insert in the Sept. 29 issue of a real scandal sheet, the U.S. version of OK! ABC’s marketing gurus copied the glossy gossip format pretty faithfully in a promotional stunt for “Dirty Sexy Money.” Buzz! features a screaming cover headline (“Ultimate Duel: The Dirty Sexy Money Battle Rages On”), snarky inside stories (“Patrick’s Dirty Little Secret”), a shopping page (Kara Ross flower ring, $16,055 at Bergdorf Goodman), a recipe corner (the Dirty Sexy Money martini, natch) and even a word search. The “DSM” stunt is hardly the first time ABC’s marketing team has played with reality. To hype “Lost,” the network has aired numerous fake commercials on its own air, directing viewers to any number of Web sites masquerading as something other than what they are. CBS, of course, long ago cornered the market on real self-promoting periodicals. It publishes Watch!, an Entertainment Weekly-style mag sold on newsstands that’s devoted to all things Eye-related.

—Josef Adalian

‘Bar’ Stays Raised for TNT

September 14, 2008 8:45 PM

Pulling in 5 million people with an original drama would be a pretty good day for most cable networks, but some broadcast executives took a look at last week’s ratings for TNT’s “Raising the Bar” and saw the glass as half-empty: Viewership was down about 40% from the record-setting 7.7 million viewers the show attracted for its premiere. For TNT President Steve Koonin, however, the glass is overflowing. “I guarantee that this third week will be higher than the second week,” he said, noting the show was tracking above its estimates, which were around 4 million viewers. And viewership could be even higher when digital video recording numbers come in, he added. “Steve Bochco [executive producer of “Raising the Bar”] is thrilled with these numbers. Our ad sales people are thrilled with these numbers. The only people who are disgruntled are our competitors,” he said, adding that the show is a lock to be renewed. “It’s just a matter of when.”

—Jon Lafayette

The ‘Hole’ Truth

September 14, 2008 8:45 PM

Hole In The Wall Promotion

Fox, promoting the official premiere Thursday night of its wacky, Japanese-derived physical competition series “Hole in the Wall,” took to the streets of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago during the day. Fox dispatched teams of folks dressed up like the show’s silver-suited contestants to hand out to passersby—get this for a mnemonic device—Krispy Kreme doughnut holes. WFLD-TV, the network’s Chicago affiliate, got onboard the promotion in a big way, sending lead entertainment reporter David Viggiano (right, with tennis racquet) out on Michigan Avenue in a silver suit to file his reports from his embed with the street team. Total holes distributed in all three cities: 30,000. That breaks down to 15,000 in Gotham, 10,000 in the Windy City and, don’t you know, a mere 5,000 in ever-weight-conscious L.A.

—Tom Gilbert

‘Heroes’ Throws a Special Sort of Premiere Party

September 14, 2008 8:45 PM

Heroes Premiere Party

Last week’s third-season premiere party for “Heroes” wasn’t just another Hollywood soiree—it was a made-for-TV event. Sure, guests downed drinks and noshed on appetizers. But NBC camera crews captured every air kiss and followed the show’s stars as they worked the red carpet. And fans were invited to sit in bleachers, creating an Oscar-like atmosphere outside the Edison, the downtown L.A. hot-spot. “Was it a contrivance? Partially. Maybe,” said John Miller, chief marketing officer for the NBC Universal TV Group. “But it was a real party. Real eating and drinking was going on.” And on Sept. 22, the footage filmed that night will form the core of a one-hour prime-time special leading into the two-hour “Heroes” return. NBC Entertainment marketing chief Adam Stotsky said the party was “a means to an end”: specifically, making the show’s premiere as big an event as possible. The special will resemble the catch-up clip shows that have become common tools for network marketing departments. “It’s the necessary Cliff’s Notes, but it’s also trying to generate excitement,” Mr. Stotsky said. The special will feature “Heroes” stars serving as hosts from the party, introducing pre-taped packages tied to the show. Because the party also was a prime-time special, Sprint was an official sponsor, paying part of the costs. “Everybody’s budgets are challenged right now,” Mr. Stotsky said. “This takes something that’s a little disposable—a party—and turns it into a hard-working strategy.”

—Josef Adalian

Online Response Surprises Oprah Petition Creators

September 12, 2008 2:55 PM

In just 24 hours, more than 44,000 people signed a petition urging Oprah Winfrey to have Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as a guest on her show before the presidential election. The reaction has stunned the two people who created the Web site www.palinpetition.com.

PalinPeition.com

Joshua H. Bolin and Mark Hammonds, partners in an as-yet-unnamed Augusta, Ga., blogging network, said they put together the petition site quickly, getting it up Thursday morning, Sept. 11. It went up even before they could launch their political blog www.thepoliticalfish.com, which was to launch Friday.

They said the petition started out of conversations they had with friends generated by some Oprah stories on the Drudge Report Web site. Also, they admitted, it was an attempt to generate a little traffic and an e-mail list for their new site’s newsletter.

The original goal was to reach 4,000 or 5,000 people through friends and family, with maybe some viral additions with a Facebook page, said Mr. Bolin.

Instead, they had to change the site’s server within hours because of high traffic. There are now so many signers, Mr. Bolin, said there is uncertainty about what to do with the list of names because there are too many to simply forward to Ms. Winfrey.

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CBS Plays Up Sex in Pair of Promos

September 11, 2008 5:00 PM

PromosThe CBS marketing team is in the mood for a little "Sex."

To hype its new comedy “Worst Week,” CBS has crafted a promotion that’s an homage to the opening titles of HBO’s “Sex and the City.” But instead of Carrie getting splashed by that cab, “Worst” star Kyle Bornheimer gets drenched. There’s even a sound-alike version of the “Sex” theme song.

The biggest difference between the CBS promo and the “Sex” credits: Mr. Bornheimer ends up with a very visible wet spot in his crotch area, prompting laughter from a group of schoolgirls. The scene plays into the show’s theme, namely that Mr. Bornheimer’s character is forever having the worst week of his life.

CBS’ hypemeisters are also using familiar musical cues to promote another new series.

Ads now airing for “The Ex List” feature series star Elizabeth Reaser walking down a city street alongside a slew of her ex-flings, all to the tune of Queen’s “Somebody to Love.” Each of the exes wears a T-shirt emblazoned with a phrase—“First Kiss,” “Happened in Vegas”—describing his relationship to Ms. Reaser’s Bella Bloom. Bella, perhaps in a nod to “The Bachelorette,” also plucks petals from a flower as she prances to the musical stylings of Freddie Mercury.

You can check out the two ads behind the cut.

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2008 MTV VMAs: The Clap Edition

September 8, 2008 3:40 PM

VMATila.jpgSunday night the Daily Blink was at the MTV Video Music Awards live from the Paramount Pictures lot in Hollywood to cover the red carpet.

While Britney Spears and some sizzling performances from Rihanna, Pink and Christina Aguilera are the big stories the next day, the Daily Blink got its own round of, um, “applause,” before the show began.

Two-time “A Shot at Love” star and MySpace celeb Tila Tequila walked the red carpet, kindly agreeing to interviews with several outlets. As she was giving an interview directly to our left, on our right was none other than “Girls Gone Wild” franchise founder and late-night infomercial staple Joe Francis.

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'Disturb' Star Makes Guests Feel Right at Home

September 4, 2008 4:31 PM

Do Not Disturb Jerry O’Connell proves that cheaters never prosper.

The actor and his “Do Not Disturb” castmates Niecy Nash, Molly Stanton, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Jolene Purdy were on hand at a promotional event for the upcoming Fox sitcom Wednesday at the Grove shopping center in Los Angeles.

The stars of the hotel-set comedy teamed up with local radio station 104.3 MYfm for a hotel-themed obstacle course, with prizes sponsored by Hotel Shangri-La.

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Brit Poised to Make More VMA Memories

September 3, 2008 4:55 PM

2007 VMAs

The MTV Video Music Awards announced today that Britney Spears—many of whose most memorable moments have taken place on the high-profile stage of the VMAs—will be back to lend her formidable star power to this year’s telecast, scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 7.

Her appearance during the opening of the show continues a comeback for the pop star, whose personal struggles have earned more attention than her career moves in recent years. Her career appears to be back on track now, including VMA nominations this year for best female video, best pop video and video of the year for “Piece of Me.”

Ms. Spears’ notoriety over the years has typically been fueled by her provocative VMA appearances, which have included a memorable snake dance at the 2001 awards, a dominatrix outfit for her appearance with Michael Jackson in 2002 and a liplock with Madonna in 2003.

MTV cautions that this year’s Britney visit will not be a performance, but at the same time organizers are hinting that it could be another candidate for her pantheon of iconic moments. “This is an opening not to be missed,” the network chirps in its press release announcing the appearance. Two things are certain: (1) Britney’s appearance will get viewers to tune in, and (2) people will be talking about it afterward.

—Dennis R. Liff

First Impressions: '90210' Gets Passing Grade

September 2, 2008 9:35 PM

The early reviews from the east coast are pouring in—and so far, critics seem to be OK with the CW's new "90210."

90210

Network executives opted not to send out a screener of the show's first two hours, arguing they wanted to build suspense. Skeptical critics wondered if the show was a dog.

But a few early takes from some of the TV beat's more cynical voices suggest that reviewers might not be too harsh on the most-hyped show of the season.

Alan Sepinwall of the Newark Star-Ledger almost can't believe that he doesn't hate the new Zip. Writes Sepinwall: "Huh. Neither trainwreck nor masterpiece, the new "90210" was exactly what nobody expected it would be: remarkably faithful in tone and spirit to the original adventures of Brandon, Brenda, Scott Scanlon and company."

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