Jul 8, 2009
TVMoJoe has only been in existence since late April, but it's already time to begin another chapter in this blog's history.
Yes, this is my final MoJoe post on TVWeek.com. I'm moving on to join TheWrap.com as TV editor after a little more than a year at TelevisionWeek.
Before I make my exit, some long overdue credit to a few folks who helped birth this here blog.
Former TVWeek design chief Chad Rooney patiently translated my ideas for the look of this blog, taking them from amateurish musings ("Can we have a line thingy here?") into reality. Thanks, Chad!
Also due a shout out: Maria Villar, the supertalented design whiz who created the MoJoe logo (really, it's the best thing about this blog). She's also amazing with letterpress, so you need to go to her website now and buy yourself some custom-made something. Do it. Now.
I don't want this post to turn into an acceptance speech kind of thing, but quick hat tips to former TVWeek editor Greg Baumann, who allowed me the freedom to make this blog what i wanted it to be; current TVWeek executive editor (and NewsPro czar!) Tom Gilbert for just being an all-around awesome guy; and TVWeek managing director Chuck Ross, for finding a way to pay for it all.
If all goes as planned, look for TVMoJoe to resurface in a new form in August. You can keep your browsers set to TVMoJoe.com.
Finally, I selected the video below as the final MoJoeTV. It seems fitting:
The Michael Jackson memorial is over, but anyone who thinks this storyline will disappear from the pop culture landscape any time soon is probably living in Neverland.
So what's next? Let's count the possibilities... with the major caveat that what follows is only slightly informed speculation, nothing more. (Wait, you weren't expecting actual facts in a Michael Jackson story, were you?):
--"Heal the World: The Concert for Michael": There's already blogosphere buzz about an August memorial tribute for Jackson, possibly in the same London arena where he was scheduled to begin his comeback tour this month. I don't know if there's any truth to that notion, but this much seems certain: There will be at least one, if not several, megaconcert salutes to Jackson over the next year.
As potent as Tuesday's memorial was, it really wasn't a blockbuster event: No Madonna, no Diana, no Justin Timberlake... for Bubbles' sake, Diddy wasn't even there! There are so many musical celebrities who need to pay tribute to Jackson, a hastily arranged memorial simply won't do.
Given Jackson's friendship with Princess Diana, and the fact that he was an even bigger international star, I could see the royals getting involved. If AEG thinks it makes sense, of course.
--Said concert will be a major TV event that fetches millions in rights fees. It was certainly nice of AEG to open up the feed to Tuesday's memorial to all who wanted to broadcast it. But that event was just the appetizer. The megaconcert will require a cash infusion from one, if not multiple broadcasters. If a show can be mounted by mid-September, don't be surprised if multiple broadcast networks make bids for the show; it would make a great promotional platform to hype new shows. (And given how low ratings have sunk for the networks this summer, they need something to revive their pulse).
Don't rule out cable, though. MTV will definitely want in on the action, perhaps partnered with sibling BET.
--Expect a flood of unofficial Michael Jackson specials in the coming months. The "Motown 25" special where Jackson debuted the Moonwalk will probably be repackaged. And don't be surprised if some of the networks who don't get the rights to the big concert decide to put together their own specials.
CBS specials guru Jack Sussman knows everybody who's anybody in the music business. I'd be shocked if he isn't already calling up his pals and putting something together.
--Of course, Sussman might also be focusing on bringing some Michael magic to September's Emmy broadcast. There will almost certainly be a major tribute to Jackson on this year's kudos. That goes double for the same month's MTV Video Music Awards.
--Don't forget the tribute album(s). Expect all of Jackson's catalogue to be used for a CD of big stars singing his music, released right around Thanksgiving. Adam Lambert of "American Idol" will be on this disc.
--On that note, look for one or two big new songs to emerge paying homage to Jackson. If Tupac and Marvin Gaye's passings can inspire hit singles, Jackson's death demands a superstar collaboration of epic proportions. Personally, I'd love to see an update of "We Are the World," with a new generation of stars tackling Jackson's creation. (I hereby nominate Jason Mraz for the Bob Dylan parts).
--Finally, expect lots of kids and adults looking like these folks right around late October. Yes, there will be a surge of Michael Jackson costumes this Halloween. And some news organization somewhere is already putting together a story on how costume manufacturers have already doubled their orders for Thriller jackets.
Jul 6, 2009
Hard to believe but it's been five years since Fox development executive Peter Johnson left the drudgery of network TV to head up McG's Wonderland Media. With the company's "Human Target" already generating some heat for Fox, and "Supernatural" fans always hungry for tidbits of information, it seemed like a good time to catch up with Johnson.
My Q&A with the always-friendly, music-loving, comic book-writing producer-executive is right here. Spoiler alert: When it comes to "Supernatural"-- or "SN," as the fans call it-- don't expect Johnson to spill the beans.
Jul 5, 2009
How bad are things for the broadcast networks this summer? So bad, apparently, that entire groups of viewers have decided to abandon the networks completely.
In what will likely be the low-water mark for the Big Four this summer, CBS and NBC both generated demographic hash marks during the 8 p.m. hour on Saturday. That means the networks averaged a 0 rating and a 0 share in at least one demo group, according to preliminary Nielsen fast national data.
Not surprisingly, the sliver of the viewing audience that literally didn't register with Nielsen on the July 4th holiday: Teenagers, aged 12-17.
For NBC, the show that snagged a goose egg was the long-ago cancelled drama "Kings." During the 8-8:30 p.m. half hour, it earned a 0.0/0 among men 12-17 and all adults 12-17. (Teen girls were a bit more enthusiastic, giving the show a 0.1/1).
Over at CBS, "48 Hours Mystery" was the program cursed with no teens from 8-8:30 p.m. It also notched (or is that failed to notch?) a big 0.0/0 with all viewers 12-17 and women 12-17. (Teen boys handed "48" a 0.1/1).
Both shows also scored goose eggs for the full 8 p.m. hour, with "Kings" zeroing out among men 12-17 and "48" doing a swan dive with women 12-17.
There are plenty of caveats that go with these numbers, of course.
It was a national holiday in the middle of the summer, and it fell on the weakest night for networks (Saturdays). The only demographic to register a zero rating was teenagers, a group not particularly coveted by most advertisers. And dozens of cable networks no doubt flatlined as well.
Still, the Saturday numbers do underscore just how rough things have been for broadcasters this summer. Adults 18-49 ratings below a 0.5 have become common for many shows in many time slots.
Indeed, for anyone who thinks it's stretching things a bit to draw conclusions from holiday ratings among teenagers, consider this: NBC's "Kings" drew only a 0.2/1 among the key demographic of adults 18-49. That's not hash marks, but it's pretty darn close.
What's more troubling for the networks: The ratings misery comes during a summer in which many networks are offering up a healthy dose of first-run scripted programming. Some of it is burn-off theater, but some shows have been given big promotional pushes ("Mental," "The Philanthropist").
Viewers, however, just aren't into what the broadcasters are serving up this summer.
You can bet planning meetings are already underway at several networks to figure out just what can be done to avoid this mess next summer.
Meanwhile, here's something up beat and peppy for those network types depressed by the numbers:
Jul 1, 2009
Behind the News
The folks at the TV Academy clearly have gotten the message.
Variety has word tonight that "How I Met Your Mother" star Neil Patrick Harris is in final talks to serve as host as this year's Emmys. It's news that is, at once, fully logical-- and completely mind-blowing.
It's a no-brainer because anyone who watched Harris helm the Tony or TV Land Awards knows that this man has mad hosting skills, as the kids might say (20 years ago). He's charming, funny, and, most of all, fully in command of his audience.
With CBS this year's Emmy home, and "HIMYM" moving to a new timeslot on the Eye this fall, executives at the network would have been insane not to fight for Harris as host.
But this is the Emmys we're talking about. The TV Academy.
Logic doesn't always enter into the equation when you're talking about any big organization and its annual award shows. So many different factions need to be satisfied when decisions are made, often times the only possible choice is the safe one.
How else to explain the decision to have a hodgepodge of reality hosts (horribly) handle last year's Emmys? It was a compromise.
And that's why the call to give the show to Harris is such a stunner.
Yes, he's been nominated for an Emmy before, but his show hasn't. I'll bet a big chunk of the Academy hasn't even heard of "HIMYM."
Remember, this is an organization that as recently as 20 years ago thought it made sense to have John Forsythe host the Emmys. Three different years! (OK, it was during the "Dynasty" craze, but still...).
Most past Emmy hosts have been either very well-known comics (Conan, Ellen, Garry) or very big primetime stars (Ryan Seacrest, Angela Lansbury, Tim Allen).
Who knows-- maybe Harris isn't such a radical choice. Perhaps, when nobody was looking, "HIMYM" graduated from buzz show to blockbuster. It certainly had the ratings last season to qualify as one of the biggest sitcoms on TV.
No matter the logic. The Academy deserves credit for agreeing to the Harris choice. He will bring new blood and new interest to a show that is sorely in need of both.
While everyone's in a radical mood, two other suggestions:
First, why not ask Carter Bays and Craig Thomas-- the creators of "HIMYM"-- to serve as head writers for this year's Emmys? Conan O'Brien brought his team with him when he hosted the show; why shouldn't Harris?
The Academy and CBS also should lean heavily on some of TV's most fertile comic minds to pitch in to make this year's show memorable.
That means getting the Lonely Island team (that's Andy Samberg's crew) to produce a series of short films for the show. Samberg killed at the MTV Movie Awards; he and his boys need to be enlisted for the Emmy cause.
And, on a non-Emmy note, CBS should immediately sign a holding deal with Harris anticipating his post-"HIMYM" career.
No, I'm not talking about a deal for another sitcom. How about these six words:
"Late Show with Neil Patrick Harris."
Jun 29, 2009
It's Fourth of July week in America. To some folks, this means hot dogs, baseball and an extra day off from work.
For a small minority of us so afflicted, Independence Day also marks something else: The return of the annual summer malady known as "Big Brother" addiction.
It's a sickness I've battled for the better part of a decade. Actually, "battled" is the wrong word, as I've willingly submitted myself to the CBS reality show's addictive grip, letting it take hold of me like some teen tramp in "Twilight" falling under the spell of a vampire.
Last year, I got the chance to feed my habit as never before, injecting "Big Brother" right into my veins by living in the "Brother" house for a half-day. You can read about my experiences here.
This summer, my blogger bud Ben Mandelker, known to some as B-Side, got a chance to live The Big Brother Experience. His much more humorous journaling of said experiences is live in TVWeek's In Depth section, which you can find right here.
Both of our stories, by the way, feature appearances by People's Reagan Alexander. He's becoming known as the Bad Boy of Big Brother press day. One wonders when producers are going to wise up and just ask the man to be a contestant on the real "Big Brother."Meanwhile, until "Brother" returns July 9, let's relive another B-Side creation:
Jun 27, 2009
Fox's big budget "Virtuality" will likely remain an unsold pilot after a disastrously low-rated Friday broadcast.
The two-hour movie/backdoor pilot, from one of the creators of "Battlestar Galactica," flatlined Friday with a 0.5 rating/2 share among adults 18-49. Of even more concern: The broadcast kicked off with a 0.7 at 8 p.m and fell to a 0.4 by its final half-hour, indicating those many of those few viewers who decided to check out "Virtuality" weren't impressed with what they saw (or decided to watch the rest later via DVR).
Overall viewership for "Virtuality" wasn't any better: About 1.8 million die-hard fans watched.
"Virtuality" flopped on a night where nothing much worked and all the networks struggled to find a pulse.
CBS, for example, failed to rise to a 1.0 demo rating in any hour Friday night-- punishment, perhaps, for not rushing on another Michael Jackson or Farrah Fawcett special.
Of course, ABC and NBC didn't exactly draw record crowds with their E!-like programming.
And yet, NBC won Friday night with a 1.4/5 by repeating "Farrah's Story" (1.1/5) from 8-10 p.m. and airing a new Jackson-themed "Dateline" (2.0/7) at 10 p.m. The latter hour was, by far, the top-rated show of the night in the demo.
Indeed, NBC's Jackson edition of "Dateline" doubled the young adult rating of ABC's Jackson edition of "20/20," which averaged a 1.0/4 from 10-11 p.m.
Jun 25, 2009
Behind the News
Today's sad news about Michael Jackson has also proven to be a boon for syndicated magazine shows.
Telepictures' TMZ, of course, first broke the news of Jackson's passing (as well as his heart attack).
Now, CBS Television Distribution's "Entertainment Tonight" is trumpeting what it calls the "last photograph" of Jackson.
Here's how the newsmag presented the picture on its website:
Jun 24, 2009
CBS has lost one of its behind-the-scenes icons.
Anne Roberts Nelson, who spent more than 60 years at the Eye network, has passed away. Nelson was a longtime business affairs executive who worked on contracts for classic shows such as "I Love Lucy," "All In the Family" and "The Young and the Restless." She was CBS's longest-tenured employee when she finally left the network earlier this year.
In 2005, CBS devoted an entire floor of its Television City building to Nelson.
A full obituary from CBS, including memorial plans, is after the jump.
"America's Got Talent" didn't get a Susan Boyle bump-- but it still dominated the ratings in its Tuesday premiere.
"Talent" averaged a 3.2 rating/10 share and 11.3 million viewers, according to prelim national Nielsen numbers. That's the lowest "Talent" premiere yet, and down about 10 percent in the demo from last summer, when "Talent" faced much tougher NBA Finals competition.
There had been speculation inside NBC that the media phenom known as Susan Boyle from "Britain's Got Talent" might help drive tune-in for the Stateside version of the "Talent" franchise. Didn't happen.
But given how pathetically most network shows have been faring this summer, anything with a 3 in front of its rating can rightly be considered the supersmash hit of the summer, the show everyone can't stop talking about. (Yes, I wrote that for the NBC promo department).
"AGT" also rose above a lousy lead-in, one of the final episodes of "I'm A Celebrity... Where the Hell Did Speidi Go"? That series notched a 1.4/5 at 8, its worst ratings yet. It even lost viewers at the half-hour (yikes).
Over at ABC, meanwhile, the launch of "The Superstars" (1.6/5) was a non-event, but not a disaster.
At 9:30, viewers decided to reward ABC for sticking by well-crafted, funny half-hour comedies by fleeing the return of "Better Off Ted" en masse. That show lost half of its lead-in and averaged a mere 0.8/2.
That'll teach you, ABC! Maybe it's not to late to bring back "According to Jim."
Finally, in the 10 p.m. battle of the (non)-newsmags, murder beat teen sex, as a repeat of CBS's "48 Hours Mystery" (1.5/4) outrated an original ABC "Primetime" (1.2/3).