'Heidi' Who? ‘BB’ Boo Boo
August 8, 2008 9:25 AM
On Nov. 17, 1968, NBC cut away from a close game between the Oakland Raiders and the New York Jets with 65 seconds left in the fourth quarter and the Jets leading by 3 points in order to start a made-for-TV remake of "Heidi" on time. The Raiders roared back with 14 points to win the game.
The National Football League made sure that TV would never ever bobble a game in that way again.
But every summer, as NFL preseason play gets under way, local CBS stations pull a reverse "Heidi" on fans of CBS's "Big Brother" as they pre-empt the network's Thursday prime-time lineup in order to show local-interest football games.
They delay "BB"—on the night the show is live at 8 p.m. ET for the eviction of one houseguest and the selection of the person who will nominate two candidates for the next eviction—until after the network's two-hour combo of "Late Show With David Letterman" and "The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson."
"BB" fans get no respect.
Last night, they got less than that in about 17 markets, including New York City, where a Jets at Cleveland Browns game, a lightning storm and game delay, and no well-thought-out fallback plan added up to outright disrespect for "BB" fans.
When players were called off the field at some point in the first half of the game that started at 7:30 ET, viewers were dropped live into "BB" in progress.
Viewers saw what was the most dramatic eviction yet this season. Live.
They saw host Julie Chen—the wife of CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves, it's worth remembering—interview said evictee. Live.
After a glimpse of the backyard where the competition for Head of Household was to begin in minutes and a commercial break it was back to … Cleveland, where the storm had stopped and players were warming up on the field. Brett Favre, Green Bay legend turned Jet just yesterday, was tossing a football on the sidelines. Not playing. Just hangin'.
Better to have cut to another regional game (or a loop of Wednesday's breathless local coverage of the Favre signing) than to deliver such a bizarre mix of spoiler and teaser to "BB" viewers.
Better to have left the only one of the three "BB" shows each week that's live on Wednesday night, where it had run until last week, when it swapped time slots with "Greatest American Dog." It would be safe from football interference there.
By the time ""BB" began airing at 2:07 a.m. ET (followed by the "CSI" and "Flashpoint" episodes also displaced for the game, "Big Brother After Dark" had been running live feeds from the house for two hours on Showtime Too. More than enough time to have figured out who won the HOH competition and how energetically the newly aligned factions in the house were dropping F-bombs and casting far more personal aspersions.
The only reason to watch the delayed CBS episode would have been to see if a new America's Player was to be elected. But by then, the text and on-line voting window in which we could stuff the electronic ballot box would have closed for viewers in the East.
In which case, we wuz robbed of our inalienable rights.
Or as a thread on CBS's "Big Brother" Web page was headlined: "No Live Eviction TONITE??? Frikkin football??? "
They're just not into "BB" fans, even if it is hosted by CBS Corp. First Lady Julie Chen.
BTW, even as this heroically restrained rant is being wrapped up, it's 11:36 p.m. in New York City and the game has just ended. WCBS-TV sports reporter Sam Ryan is asking Mr. Favre how relieved he is to have an "exhausting" 31 days and 72 hours over.
"I'm very relieved," he says. "It's nice to be here with the teammates. I'm not very good at remembering names, but there's some guys I know."
The late local news on WCBS-TV finally starts at 11:43.
So, "BBAD" will be over before New Yorkers get a look at all the drama that preceded it.