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).
Jun 23, 2009
The War on Late Night
Conan O'Brien will pay tribute to the late Ed McMahon on this evening's edition of "The Tonight Show" by airing a montage of some of McMahon's most memorable moments from the NBC broadcast.
Here's how O'Brien introduces tonight's package:
Before we go any further tonight, we are going to change gears here because there is something very important I do need to talk about. As you’ve probably all heard Ed McMahon passed away last night, and this is obviously a very sad day. It is impossible I think for anyone to imagine "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" without Ed McMahon. Ed’s laugh was really the soundtrack to that show. For 30 years Ed played his part perfectly, he played it with effortless joy, and sitting alongside Johnny, Ed was an indelible part of what I think is the most iconic two-shot in broadcasting history. There will never be anything like that again.
Now everybody here at "The Tonight Show" mourns the loss of this warm, and really truly funny man. Our thoughts go out to his family and to his fans everywhere.
The passing of Ed McMahon has cast a pall over TV land, as one of the medium's true icons has moved on.
McMahon was part of a generation of TV performers prized for their versatility and work ethic. It didn't matter whether he was playing second fiddle to Johnny (or Jerry), or the center of attention on "Star Search": McMahon brought class to whatever show he was on.
Here's McMahon reflecting on his proudest career accomplishment, courtesy of the Archives of American Television. Check out EmmyTVLegends.org for more interviews with McMahon.
Jun 22, 2009
UPDATE: "Yes, I've left 'Heroes' to concentrate on my development. It's a bummer and I'm sad to go, but NBC wants me to focus on development, which is very exciting," Fuller told TVWeek's Vlada Gelman.
Bryan Fuller has apparently left "Heroes"-- again.
The writer/producer has quietly departed the NBC drama, just a few months after he returned to the show with much fanfare, a person familiar with the situation said. Fuller is now focusing on developing new projects as part of his overall deal with Universal Media Studios, the insider said, describing the move as something which took place "a while ago."
Ain't It Cool News first reported the possibility of a Fuller exit via the Twitter feed of one of its correspondents.
Fuller rejoined "Heroes" with much fanfare toward the end of last season. It's unclear why he's now opted to depart again.
Just a few days ago, Fuller seemed very upbeat about the upcoming fourth season of "Heroes."
"What I'm excited about with season four is getting everybody back to the basic principle of ordinary people in an extraordinary world and how these characters are relatable to us and what we would do if we were in their situations, and really grounding it in that conceit," Fuller told SciFiWire.com, a genre website owned by NBC Universal.
The story described Fuller as "happily committed to 'Heroes'," and said the writer was spending his free time developing a comic book tied to his late ABC drama "Pushing Daisies."
The only sign Fuller gave that indicated interest in another project was when he repeated his desire to work on a new "Star Trek" TV series.
"I'm hoping that by the time they're ready to do a television series that I am available and can participate, because, I mean, even if it's J.J. Abrams' team, I would love to join that team for a new 'Star Trek' series," Fuller said. "I think it would be a ball."
NBC is moving to "Heroes" to 8 p.m. Mondays this fall. It's widely expected the network will soon announce a finale timetable for the show, which could wrap as early as next spring.
Jun 21, 2009
Best Development Season...EVER!
Fox Broadcasting has created a new executive position devoted to boosting diversity in its programming and has tapped former UPN executive Ron Taylor to fill it.
Taylor will serve as VP of Diverse Programming and Content for the network. He'll be charged with "developing scripts that feature diverse themes or are written by diverse writers, and will provide input on other Fox scripted projects," the network said.
He reports to Matt Cherniss, Fox's EVP of programming.
“By integrating diversity efforts more directly into our development process, Fox can deliver even more relatable, relevant shows to our viewers," Cherniss said, noting Taylor's "unique eye for strong, diverse writing and directing talent."
Taylor most recently was VP of diversity development for Fox Entertainment, a division-wide role that had him working for both the network and Fox's TV production units.
He was one of the early executive hires at UPN, working there from 1994-1997. He's also held gigs at Warner Bros. and Disney, as well as VP of development and current programming for what's now Sony Pictures Television.
Jun 18, 2009
It's a good thing Mike Fleiss is executive producing "The Fatchelor," Fox's clone of ABC's "The Bachelor." Because otherwise, Fleiss would be mulling a big, fat lawsuit right now for copyright infringement. I mean, Fox's promo department is even using rose petals in the promo. Check it out after the jump:
The War on Late Night
Conan O'Brien fans who wondered whether Triumph the Insult Comic Dog would make the transition to "The Tonight Show" can relax. He will.
The comic alter ego of Robert Smigel is set to vist O'Brien Friday, "Tonight" staffer/blogger Aaron Bleyaert announced Wednesday via Twitter.
It will be the first Triumph-O'Brien visit since O'Brien took over "Tonight" on June 1. But it won't be Triumph's first visit to "Tonight": The character has actually made a few appearances on Jay Leno's edition of the NBC staple.
While die-hard fans count down the hours to Triumph's return, here's a flashback to one of the funniest Triumph segments ever: Triumph vs. the "Star Wars" nerds.
Plus, here's William Shatner, lending a...hand to Conan:
Jun 17, 2009
After months of speculation, ABC chief Steve McPherson may finally be ready to reveal the details of his reorganized network-studio structure.
According to two people familiar with the situation, an announcement on who's doing what at the newly merged ABC and ABC Studios is "imminent." A press release could come as soon as Thursday, the insiders said.
Both the Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety have already published stories in recent weeks outlining the expected new shape of the company. Both publications have speculated that Suzanne Patmore-Gibbs is in line to serve as McPherson's scripted development chief.
One word of caution: Media types have been predicting this announcement would come "any minute now" for a couple of months. It's worth remembering that McPherson moonights as a vinter-- and, like Paul Masson once said....
Well, let's let Orson remind us:Oh, and for anyone wondering why the headline on this post sounds somehow familiar, let's get in the MoJoe Retromobile for this semi-classic campaign from 1981:
Network TV's attack on grammar-- and common sense-- continues.
Today, the CW officially revealed that it was changing the name of "Parental Discretion Advised," the "Gilmore Girls" meets "Everwood" family drama that's a favorite of many network insiders. The new name wasn't a surprise, but the way the CW is spelling it is.
The network also slipped in the news that it is now calling Ashton Kutcher's drama "The Beautiful Life" by a slightly different name.
"The Beautiful Life: TBL."
This comes the same week TNT premiered a new medical drama starring Mrs. Will Smith.
It's called "HawthoRNe" (get it? She's a nurse?)
OK, we all know it's harder than ever to stand out in the media landscape. You gotta do what you gotta do (like spell the word "mojo" with an "e" at the end).
But does anyone really think annoying the nation's TV and pop culture writers with slightly freaky spellings is going to add a single viewer to the Nielsen tally?
Things are particularly out of hand at the acronym-happy CW, also known as the OMFG Network.
Unlike the "3" in "Numb3rs," the capital "X" in "Life UneXpected" makes no immediate sense.
It does make it a tiny bit easier to shorten the show's name to "LUX," a play on the main character's name of... Lux.
But to anyone who hasn't seen the show-- i.e., every single potential viewer-- it'll just be a head-scratcher. (Plus, Cramps fans will probably resent the connection to the band's late lead singer, Lux Interior).
Even more inane: the "TBL" that's now part of the title for the CW's "The Beautiful Life." The tag was probably added to avoid any issues with the title clearance police-- but the show now sounds like it's a spinoff of "CSI" or "The Real World."
Actually, TBL is the stock exchange symbol for the Timberland company, so maybe it's a product placement deal.
Some people also use "TBL" as an abbreviation for "The Big Lebowski" (dude!), Tampa Bay Lightning (goal!) and "The Biggest Loser" (wrong network).
See what happens when you try to get cute with spellings? In addition to inviting snarky, not-quite-as-funny-as-they-should-be blog postings, you open up a whole can of confusion.
Let's just hope some TV writer out there doesn't have a bit too much to drink one evening. Given the lack of copy editors in newsrooms these days, "HawthoRNe" could very easily end up "haWtHORnE."
That would just be wrong.
Jun 15, 2009
Dave vs. Sarah: The Battle of Bristol
The video of David Letterman's apology to the Palin family has hit the Internet. Letterman comes off as remorseful and genuinely pained by the whole incident. But he doesn't overdo things and keeps a matter-of-fact attitude throughout.
The question now is: Will Team Palin quit while they're ahead by accepting Dave's apology and moving on? Or will they keep ginning up the phony outrage?
Judge for yourself how Dave did:
Behind the News
The man behind "The Osbournes" and "Jackass" is leaving MTV Networks.
The New York Post broke the news this afternoon that Brian Graden-- president of entertainment, MTV Networks music channels-- was exiting the company by year's end, capping a 12-year run at the cable conglomerate. It was stunning news, and yet somehow felt unsurprising.
The fact is, people inside MTV Networks have been complaining for years that the company-- founded on the rebellious spirit of both rock and roll and the early cable business-- had devolved into a Soviet-style den of bureaucracy. Decisions were made (or, often times, not made) due to infighting and political jousting.
The loss of Tom Freston from MTV parent Viacom in 2006 didn't help matters. Freston, one of the founders of the music channel at the heart of MTV Networks, was part of MTVN's soul.
Whether Graden is to blame for MTV's murky political waters is a matter of debate. But given the dysfunction at the company, change seemed inevitable.
MTV Networks president Van Tofler told Daily Variety that Graden won't be replaced.
If the higher-ups at Viacom are smart, however, they'll find a way to give Comedy Central guru Doug Herzog a broader portfolio.
Jun 14, 2009
Behind the News
Sorry, Donald Trump: You're so 2008. Meet Jack and Suzy Welch, the newest reality stars.
The former GE chief and his wife have signed on to host "It's Everybody's Business," a new online business-themed reality series being launched today by Microsoft. Reveille ("The Biggest Loser") is producing the project, which was created in association with ad agency JWT and the Welches.
Featuring drama not unlike that found on Trump's "The Apprentice," the Welchs' show puts the spotlight on corporate problem- solving. In each episode, the business gurus sit down with executives and staffers at an actual company in an attempt to argue out a solution to a pressing problem.
First up: The Hertz Corporation.
"It's Everybody's Business represents the next phase in online branded content," said Howard T. Owens, the managing director of Reveille. "As advertisers look for new ways to further engage online audiences, they must not only entertain but also inform, and this series does both."
Microsoft and Reveille are no strangers to creating branded web series together. The companies previously teamed on "The Guy's Manual" for Grape Nuts, "Appetite for Life" for Toyota and "Fit to Boom" for Subway.
Sarah Palin is attacking David Letterman for daring to make a joke involving her daughter. But it turns out Letterman's hardly the first late night comic to use Palin progeny as a punchline.
Last September, just days after Palin burst on to the national scene, then-"Tonight Show" host Jay Leno cracked a joke that implied Bristol Palin's baby daddy was actually a famous politician.
"Gov. Palin announced over the weekend that her 17-year-old unmarried daughter is five months pregnant," Leno joked on the Sept. 2, 2008 edition of "Tonight," according to an ABC News report from the time. "And you thought John Edwards was in trouble before! Now he has really done it."
CBS's Craig Ferguson also linked the young Palin to Edwards.
"I don't think that a young lady getting pregnant should even be news, unless John Edwards is the father," Ferguson quipped, according to ABC. "Then that is kinda news."
Emmy-winning comic Kathy Griffin also jumped on the joke bandwagon last fall, taking several pointed jabs at the Palin family.
"Sarah Palin talks about creationism. Well there's a lot of creationism going on in Bristol's tummy," Griffin said. "She makes the Bush twins look like nuns. It was shocking when they were running around with beer in their hands. But she's made it trendy to be a pregnant teenager. I hope she has a really nice trailer park in Alaska."
The Palins, of course, began their war on Letterman by trying to make it seem as if Letterman were attacking their 14-year-old daughter. But even after Letterman explained he was referring to Bristol Palin-- who is now 18 and has made numerous media appearances on behalf of her mom-- the Palins have continued their rhetorical combat against Letterman.
James Hibberd has an excellent mini- rant on the matter over at The Live Feed. I concur with his point, which is that Sarah Palin purposely tries to turn different segments of American society against each other.
But I'd also like to add a complaint against Todd Palin's decision to denounce Letterman publicly and to inject the word "rape" into the discussion.
This week's column takes a look at the mythology of the Late Night Wars. My conclusion: It's time to give peace a chance. Check it out here.
Jun 13, 2009
It's around 7:30 p.m. on a Saturday. A quick check of the Twitter shows that among the top ten trending topics on the microblogging service are Tehran (things are tense in Iran right now), Six Flags (it's summer...and the company just filed for Chapter 11) and... HBO.
HBO? What could cause the Twiterrati to be talking about HBO on a Satuday night?
Well, the network's got a big fight tonight. But, there's this: "True Blood" returns for its second season tomorrow night. And the faithful are clearly getting excited.
Nobody's proven a link between Twitter activity and Nielsen numbers just yet. But it's worth noting that variations of "Jon and Kate" accounted for several trending topics the night of that show's recent season premiere. You know, the episode that attracted 10 million viewers and smashed records.
Just a hunch, but I think there will be some happy faces at HBO HQs in both LA and New York come Monday.
Jun 12, 2009
The War on Late Night
Conan O'Brien and David Letterman continue to duke it out in the late night ratings arena, with Letterman regaining the households lead and O'Brien dominating in the financially vital key demographics.
In Nielsen's overnight metered-market households, Letterman regained the lead with a 3.5/8 to O'Brien's 3.0/7. Letterman's number was no doubt boosted by intense media coverage of his recent remarks about Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
The 11:35 p.m. picture is much different when looking at demo information, the currency most advertisers use when determining their buys.
Perhaps tired of media reports about Letterman beating O'Brien in the overnight household numbers, NBC has begun distributing data from Nielsen's 21 local markets with people meters to boost its claim that O'Brien is actually attracting a much younger audience than Letterman.
And by that standard, O'Brien's "Tonight Show" (1.5/6) easily beat Letterman's "Late Show" (0.9/3), winning by a wide 67 percent margin.
Overnight demos for late night aren't usually considered all that reliable, but NBC tracked the overnight demos for O'Brien's first week as host and found that they compared favorably to final national demos released yesterday. Rather than let household numbers shape the media portrait of the late night race, NBC has clearly decided to fight back with demo data.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon is expected to announce the first wave of casualty reports from the War on Late Night as soon as next week.
And, yes, Gov. Palin, that was a joke. We are not mocking the brave men and women of our armed forces. But if you'd like to attack TV MoJoe for doing so, we'll gladly take the attention.
That is all.
Jun 11, 2009
The War on Late Night
Just days after his controversial MTV Movie Awards appearance, Bruno has been booked for "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien."
The alter ego of comic actor Sacha Baron Cohen will make his first late-night talk show appearance on behalf of his upcoming movie Thursday, June 25. Given Cohen's love of the shocking, don't be surprised if he makes "news" during his visit.
Other recent additions to "The Tonight Show" cast include Cameron Diaz (June 22), Lisa Kudrow and Elvis Costello (June 23) and Snoop Dogg (June 26).
"My Name is Earl" will not go on. Here's the statement from 20th Century Fox TV:
"Greg Garcia's brilliant My Name is Earl kept America laughing for the past four seasons and certainly deserved to continue for many more. While we had hoped to find a way to produce additional episodes for TBS, in the final analysis we simply could not make the economics work without seriously undermining the artistic integrity of the series. As none of us, Greg included, want the show to go out on anything but a high note, we regret that we must put to rest any speculation that Earl will continue. We are grateful to everyone at TBS for their enthusiasm for the series and wish to offer our heartfelt thanks to the cast and crew of My Name is Earl for their incredible work."
OK, so TV MoJoe likes the Conan. And we've been pretty consistent in warning against reading too much into the overnight household ratings for the latenight daypart-- both when "The Tonight Show" premiered strongly, and when "Late Show" rallied back last week.
It was no surprise, then, that O'Brien would end up trouncing Letterman when the final numbers came out. Good for Conan. And good for NBC, which actually did a great job launching the show from a marketing and PR point of view.
But then NBC this morning goes and puts out a release declaring "Conan the New King of Late Night."
Really, NBC? Really?
It's one week, people. Lots will change. NBC insiders have said they plan to measure O'Brien's success in years, not weeks or months.
So why set up O'Brien for mocking by declaring him the king of latenight, just eight days into his run? Why give CBS something to throw back in your face when the race tightens (and it will tighten)?
It's a shame that, while the players have changed, the same silly "late night wars" mentality continues to persist in so many quarters.
To paraphrase the scholar Fergie: "NBC, you're so 2000-and-late."
End of rant.
Jun 10, 2009
The War on Late Night
No, there isn't any panic at NBC, as far as I know. But don't be surprised if somebody in the Internetosphere starts sounding alarm bells now that...
David Letterman has scored his first nightly win over Conan O'Brien!
Boosted by a visit from Julia Roberts, CBS's "Late Show" earned a 3.4/8 in Nielsen's local metered markets Tuesday, a half ratings-point ahead of NBC's "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien." The Letterman win ended six straight nights of O'Brien dominance in the ratings.
Letterman's ratings were up double digits compared to the same Tuesday a year ago, while O'Brien was down a similar margn compared to what Jay Leno had averaged.
While this result will no doubt be parsed and spun and overinterpreted in the coming hours, it's worth pointing out once again -- as TV MoJoe has several times in the past week, even when O'Brien was winning handily-- that in late night, household numbers don't matter. Demographic data does.
The thinking on O'Brien is that he does better with folks under 50. And household numbers tend to skew older. So even if Dave beat Conan in the overnights, there's a chance he could yet prevail in the final demos.
In the case of Tuesday's ratings, NBC also notes that because of hockey playoffs coverage, west coast stations actually aired local programming in primetime, potentially diminishing Conan's lead-in. (Actually, I wonder if "Access Hollywood" and other syndicated fare might not perform better than some of NBC's primetime shows. But that's off-topic).
The rollercoast ratings derby takes another turn tomorrow when Nielsen releases official ratings for Conan's first week. Don't be surprised if that headline is, "Conan Trounces Dave in Debut Week."
And the War nobody wanted slouches forward....
Jun 9, 2009
There's nothing subtle about the CW's new "TV To Talk About" promotional campaign.
The network has started seeding the YouTube with its fall promo teasers-- and, predictably, there are a lot of shots of "Gossip Girl" characters vamping about in the minute-long clip I found. But there's also a techno theme song behind the images: A Lady Gaga wannabee who wails "TV to t-t-talk, t-t-talk about" every few seconds.
While the spot looks very current, the practice of having someone sing your theme song is pretty retro-- and one networks have largely abandoned in recent years.
In the 1970s and 80s, one of the highlights of summer for me was catching those three- and four-minute extended promos the networks would air during summer reruns. These were elaborate music videos, set to catchy ditties such as "We've Got the Touch, America" (CBS), "We Belong Together (And Together We Will Be)" (ABC) and "Be There" (NBC).
But when CBS began rolling out its new "Only CBS" campaign a few days ago, it used the very CW-friendly Black Eyed Peas as a soundtrack for its ads. And while ABC is pretty big on promoting its slogan "Start Here," the network has yet to recruit Alan Thicke to pen the lyrics to the "Start Here" song.
All of this is a long way of saying to the CW: Whaaa? Anyway, judge for yourself-- the video is below. Maybe the CW will be the network that back the network theme song.
And feel free to t-t-talk about the spot in the comments.
Talk about your cheap laughs.
Apple's iTunes Store has launched a summertime comedy promotion giving away five full-length episodes of some popular TV comedies... for free. Dozens more episodes are being virtually given away at just 99 cents a pop.
Getting the gratis treatment are some ensemble half-hours with strong cult followings, including "Arrested Development," "Human Giant," "Reno 911!," "The State" and "The IT Crowd." Users can only download one free episode of each series, but other episodes of those shows are available for under one buck.
That's also the price point for a number of other major series taking part in the iTunes yuks giveaway. Those shows include "The Office," "30 Rock," "The Larry Sanders Show," "Barney Miller," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "Good Times."
One of the best values of the sale: All 24 episodes of the landmark first season of "Saturday Night Live" are available for just 99 cents. The episodes run over an hour in length, without commericals (natch) and include the musical performances (Carly Simon! Martha Reeves! ABBA!)
Don't say MoJoe never did anything for you.
The War on Late Night
David Letterman is bringing out the heavy artillery.
As week two of the Late Night War nobody really wants but those of us in the media are hell-bent on waging gets underway, Letterman has been calling on some of his favorite guests in his attempt to quash any premiere week momentum over at The House of Conan.
Last night, Dave trotted out Howard Stern. Tonight, he’s recruited Oscar winner (and Friend of Dave) Julia Roberts.
Roberts and Letterman spend a good chunk of their visit talking about Letterman’s recent nuptials, with Roberts asking if Letterman’s bride now takes the name “Mrs. Letterman.”
“No, she’s Dave,” Letterman said.
Conan has a pretty big Hollywood start tonight, too: Eddie Murphy. Check out a clip from tonight’s Letterman after the jump.
The War on Late Night
The late-night race is getting closer. A lot closer.
"The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" beat "Late Show with David Letterman" Monday-- but just barely. According to major market overnight Nielsen numbers, "Conan" notched a 3.1/8, just ahead of "Letterman's" 3.0/8. It was easily the smallest margin of victory for O'Brien since he took over "Tonight" a week ago.
Letterman got a boost Monday from one of his most popular guests: Howard Stern. O'Brien, meanwhile, lacked major starpower, making due with David Duchovny and Anna Friel.
These are overnight household numbers, of course. NBC (and late night insiders) are looking to Thursday, when Nielsen releases the first demographic data on the new "Tonight." The hope at NBC is that while some older viewers might have left "Tonight" post-Jay Leno, younger viewers might be coming on board.
Jun 8, 2009
So who needs a column when you've got a blog?
Good question. And, indeed, it's one I considered quite a bit as TVWeek has made the transition from a print and online publication to an Internet-only based destination.
During the Print Era, my column filled a regular hole in the print edition of the magazine. Lots of TVWeek readers never visited our website, so the column was a natural way to spread my semi-coherent ramblings to the masses-- even after TV MoJoe launched in April.
But even though there's no longer a print edition of TVWeek, I still think it makes sense to put my thoughts into column form on a semi-regular basis. Blog posts tend to be short and, sometimes, shallow; columns tend to run around 1,000 words (and hopefully a bit deeper).
I also hope that continuing the column will help me slow down from the fast and furious pace of blogging. Not to sound all Andy Rooney, but a little reflection now and again isn't such a bad thing.
Apologies for the navel-gazing. Now, on to this week's column: Some thoughts on why reality contestants ought to be treated more like paid actors. You can find it right here.
Jun 5, 2009
The War on Late Night
Lorne Michaels is now longer producing Conan O'Brien's late night antics-- but "The Tonight Show" is planning to showcase a number of "Saturday Night Live" alums in coming weeks.
No less than three ex-"SNL" cast members are scheduled to visit with O'Brien over the next two weeks, according to a guest lineup for "Tonight" released by NBC. The wave begins Monday when Eddie Murphy is set to be O'Brien's lead guest.
Later next week, former "Weekend Update" anchor Norm MacDonald has been booked for the June 11 edition of "Tonight." And the next night, June 12, longtime "SNL"-er Kevin Nealon is scheduled to stop by.
O'Brien, of course, did a stint as an "SNL" writer before he took over "Late Night."
"SNL" isn't the only sketch show supplying guests for O'Brien. Jamie Foxx, who first came to fame on "In Living Color," has been booked as both a guest and a musical performer on June 12.
Here's the full list of guests who've been announced to appear on "Tonight" over the next two weeks:
Monday, June 8: David Duchovny and Anna Friel
Tuesday, June 9: Eddie Murphy and musical guest Bonnie Raitt & Taj Majal
Wednesday, June 10: Dane Cook, Steven Ho and musical guest Rancid
hursday, June 11: Norm MacDonald ,Jim Gaffigan and musical guest Neko Case
Friday, June 12: Jamie Foxx, Kevin Nealon and music by Jamie Foxx
Monday, June 15: Joe Torre and musical guest Spinal Tap
Tuesday, June 16: Larry David, Lauren Conrad and musical guest Gavin Rossdale
Wednesday, June 17: William Shatner, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and musical guest Incubus
Thursday, June 18: Features musical guest The Dead Weather
Friday, June 19: Features musical guest Holly Williams
Jun 4, 2009
Showtime has opted against running Emmy advertising in the daily Hollywood trades in order to mount an exclusive 13-day kudos campaign in the Los Angeles Times.
Starting Friday—the first day Emmy nomination ballots are available for viewing—Showtime will take out so-called “tower ads” in the Times every day (save Saturdays) through June 22. The ads run the full length of a page, from top to bottom, and feature branding tied to each series: “Sho Many” for “The United States of Tara” and “Sho Killer” for “Dexter.”
Two shows will be promoted each day, with one ad on the left side of a double-page spread and the other ad on the right. Nearly a dozen series will be touted during the campaign.
Showtime takes pride in stirring up buzz for how it markets its Emmy contenders, from splashy DVD boxes earlier this decade to its more recent move to online screeners. But with the Times play, the CBS Corp.-owned premium cable network is trying to drum up attention by focusing on where its advertising is going.
Showtime communications chief Richard Licata, who oversees the network’s Emmy marketing, said the network believes print trade advertising is no longer cost-effective for the Emmys. The network did pay for a splashy insert in the current issue of Emmy magazine, which is sent directly to Emmy voters.
“I don’t know how many people are depending on the trades every morning anymore,” said. “Everybody goes out to their driveways in the morning and picks up the LA Times, and then reads the Calendar section.”
He said the Times play is unique for a network.
“No TV network has ever gone to them to campaign for Emmys,” Licata said. “That’s a domain for the movie world. And I’m always looking for new ways to break through the clutter and to create a new trend for Emmy campaigning.”
Then there’s the matter of money.
TheWB.com is getting into business with Jordan Levin, former chief executive officer of the website's predecessor, The WB network.
Levin, along with his Generate partners Pete Aronson and Michael Petok, will executive produce a "Dawson's Creek"-style coming-of-age drama called "The Lake" for WB.com. Jason Priestley is directing the webisodes, which is from writers/creators Meredith Lavender and Marcie Ulin.
Generate and Warner Bros. Television Group's Studio 2.0 are producing the project, which is set to premiere August 10. Epsidoes will run between seven and ten minutes it length, with the WB.com ordering a first cycle of 12 episodes.
“‘The Lake’ is in the tradition of the greatest shows from The WB Network, coming of age stories told with an authentic voice,” said Craig Erwich, Executive Vice President, Warner Horizon Television. “With Jordan’s track record at The WB and Jason’s association with one of the seminal TV dramas in ‘Beverly Hills, 90210,’ we have the perfect creative team to bring this show to life.”
Levin-- whose exit from the WB was a bit bumpy-- said he was glad "to be associated once again with The WB in its new incarnation and for Generate to be producing an original series that really reflects the brand built by the TV network, but with a focus on the various media platforms its audience has grown accustomed to since the days of ‘Dawson’s Creek’ and ‘Felicity'."
According to a WB.com release, "The Lake" will revolve around "four families who have spent each summer together at the fictional Lake Eleanor, exploring the freedom, escape and opportunity for reinvention and experimentation that the summer season signifies to young adults everywhere. Even though they spend just three months out of the year with one another, the characters have a rich and complicated history – complete with romance, friendship, scandal, betrayal and heartbreak."
In addition to airing episodes on TheWB.com, producers plan to have characters from the show pop up across a wide array of social networking and video sharing sites.
News of "The Lake" first surfaced last month on website Tubefilter.tv.
President Obama is no match for Mary Murphy and "So You Think You Can Dance."
Part two of Brian Williams' primetime exclusive with the president came in a distant second Wednesday night behind Fox's "Dance" juggernaut. According to Nielsen, the second hour of "Dance" scored an impressive 3.7/11 among adults 18-49, waltzing away with the night and soundly trouncing NBC's Obama special, which earned a 2.3/7 from 9-10 p.m.
The race was tighter among overall viewers: "Dance" averaged 9.3 million in the 9 o'clock hour, while BriWi and Obama notched 8.9 million. While President Obama may have swept to office in part because of the youth vote, said young ones apparently prefer the hot tamale train of "Dance" to a behind-the-scenes White House chat.
NBC also got some disappointing news in the 8 p.m. hour, as "I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!" fell to third place in its third outing.
"IAC-GMOOH!" managed a 1.8/6 from 8-9 p.m. Wednesday, despite plenty of alleged "drama" over the fate of contestants Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt. The reality series couldn't compete with two much more established hits: "Dance" and ABC's "Wipeout."
The first hour of Fox's "Dance" earned a 3.0/10 to win the early hour, while ABC's "Wipeout" (2.9/9) was just a hair behind.
In other ratings news, ABC's "Goode Family" scored badde ratings in its second week. The 9 p.m. episode averaged a 1.2/4, while the 9:30 installment generated a meager 0.9/3. Latter episode brought in barely 2 million viewers.
Don't be shocked if ABC pulls the show (or at least cuts it back to one half-hour) as early as today.
UPDATE: NBC notes that the Obama-Williams special gave the network its best demo numbers in the 9 p.m. Wednesday slot since December. The network is also planning to repeat the full two-hour special this Friday, adding in "bonus" footage (read: More time with Bo the Dog).
The War on Late Night
Three nights in, Conan O'Brien is still dominating late-night-- but his margin of victory is, predictably, shrinking.
Wednesday's "Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" earned a 4.3 rating/11 share in Nielsen's metered markets. That easily topped CBS's "Late Show with David Letterman" (2.8/7) and ABC's combo of "Nightline" (2.7/6) and "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (1.2/4).
But here's where the nattering nabobs will start...na-bobbing.
Conan dropped another (roughly) 15 percent from Tuesday to Wednesday. And his Wednesday number was up just 10 percent over Jay Leno's second quarter average as host of "Tonight."
So, yes, the late night race is tightening. Rubberneckers who came to Monday and Tuesday night's shows have started paying attention to their own late night lanes again, with some deciding, "There's nothing to see here, I'm gonna move along."
And yet, as NBC notes, O'Brien has still dramatically expanded his audience (he's up 65 percent over what his final "Late Night" earned). Buzz for the show is also good, with O'Brien-related postings accounting for half the trending topics on Twitter at one point Wednesday.
(OK, I admit the Trending Topics on Twitter bullet point is already becoming annoying when used by publicists to explain away disappointing Nielsen data. But since NBC didn't include it in its official ratings spin, I'm going to include it. Cope.)
The most important thing to remember about these early ratings: They're household numbers, not demos. O'Brien may very well be turning off some older fans of "Tonight," but if he's bringing in new eyeballs (of any age), NBC will be very happy.
That demo information, by the way, is set to be released a week from today.
Jun 3, 2009
TV critics aren't generally fans of reality shows. But NBC's reality megaseries "I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!" is generating particularly harsh scorn from a different subset of the media scribe tribe: reporters.
Within the last few hours, two well-known Reporters Who Cover Television have taken slams at NBC's much-promoted summer series. Their problem isn't so much with the show's content, but with the "controversy" surrounding the on-again, off-again participation of "stars" Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt (aka "Speidi").
The Hollywood Reporter's James Hibberd is positively scathing in his critique of "IAC-GMOOH!" over on his blog, The Live Feed. He slams the whole concept as "an increasingly awkward con job" and takes NBC executives Ben Silverman and Paul Telegdy to task for their participation in the melodrama surrounding the Speidi chronicles.
"Can you imagine Coach from 'Survivor' getting Les Moonves on the horn? Melissa Rycroft on a 'Dancing With the Stars' results show calling Steve McPherson for a pep talk?" Hibberd rants, referring to Pratt's on-air communication with Silverman. "Scripted or unscripted, it was odd."
Actually, it seems pretty logical to me that Speidi would have Silverman on speed dial. Silverman's life has long resembled an episode of "Entourage," and Speidi are very much a part of the under-40 Hollywood mafia. (That said: Yeah, it was all probably planned).
Hibberd -- who broke the news of "IAC-GMOOH!'s" revival back in February-- is even grouchier with Telegdy.
The May sweeps number for syndication are out, and CBS TV Distribution has notched eight of the top 10 spots among first run shows. The whole list is a golden oldies collection, however: No new shows made it into the top rungs.
More ratings tidbits from the sweeps throughout the day, but here's the top 10 list, courtesy of Nielsen (and the CTD press department):
1. Wheel of Fortune, 6.4 (CBS Television Distribution)
2. Jeopardy!, 5.4 (CBS Television Distribution)
3. Oprah Winfrey Show, 5.2 (CBS Television Distribution)
4. Entertainment Tonight, 4.2 (CBS Television Distribution)
5. Judge Judy, 4.1 (CBS Television Distribution)
6. Dr. Phil, 3.0 (CBS Television Distribution)
t. Inside Edition, 3.0 (CBS Television Distribution)
8. Wheel of Fortune – Weekend, 2.7 (CBS Television Distribution)
9. Live With Regis and Kelly, 2.6 (Disney ABC Domestic Television)
10. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, 2.3 (Disney ABC Domestic Television)
Source: Nielsen Media Research, April 23, 2009-May 26, 2009, Live Plus Same Day US HH AA%
Matt Drudge is currently having much fun with the videoclip below from last night's Brian Williams exclusive with President Obama.
"NBCNEWS ANCHOR BOWS BEFORE PRESIDENT?," Drudge asks. It looks more like a healthy nod to us, but judge for yourself.
UPDATE: Early numbers from Nielsen show Williams' White House special won its 9 p.m. hour, with a 2.6/7 in adults 18-49. That was the second highest-rated show of the night, behind only NBC's "Law & Order: SVU." Among all viewers, the Obama special attracted a little over 9 million pairs of eyeballs.
The War on Late Night
Two days into his new gig, Conan O'Brien is still the king of late-night ratings.
While predictably down from Monday's much-hyped debut, Tuesday's second edition of "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" averaged a stll-strong 5.0 rating/12 share in metered market overnight Nielsen ratings.
That's the highest Tuesday overnight for "Tonight" since Feb. 27, 2007, and 28 percent better than what Jay Leno had been averaging on Tuesdays during the last three months. It was also good enough to outrate "Late Show with David Letterman" (3.0/7, up a tad from Monday) and "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (1.2/4, flat night-to-night).
Compared to Monday's first outing, O'Brien lost around a quarter of his audience, dropping from a 7.1 overnight rating. Tom Hanks was O'Brien's main guest Tuesday.
O'Brien continues to be a boon for the rest of NBC's after-hours lineup. "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" (2.1/7) was up 24 percent over its second quarter average, soundly spanking CBS's "Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson."
NBC even included "Last Call with Carson Daly" (1.3/6) in its ratings spin Tuesday, duly noting that show's 30 percent bump over its second quarter average.
Jun 2, 2009
The War on Late Night
New "Tonight Show" host Conan O'Brien got off to a rousing ratings start Monday, crushing CBS's "Late Show with David Letterman" and generating strong sampling.
O'Brien's debut notched a 7.1 rating/17 share in Nielsen's 56 overnight metered markets, the best Monday metered markets for the "Tonight" franchise in four years. "Tonight" outdrew "Late Show" (2.8/7) by a wide margin, and beat the combined average of the CBS broadcast and a repeat of ABC's "Nightline" (2.7/6)/ "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (1.2/4) by 154 percent, NBC said.
Compared to what "Tonight" had been averaging in the most recent quarter, O'Brien boosted ratings by 82 percent. He also improved on his final edition of "Late Night" (2.6/8) by 173 percent.
Overall, NBC said O'Brien's debut gave "Tonight" its seventh-highest Monday overnight ratings since Jay Leno arrived in 1992. It also boosted "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" (2.5/9) to its best overnight numbers ever.
O'Brien didn't outdraw Leno's Friday farewell. Last week's swan song averaged an 8.8 overnight rating, according to Nielsen.
Overnight ratings aren't the most reliable gauge of a show's true performance, since they don't measure what counts most to network executives: Demographic performance. However, O'Brien's healthy households debut bodes well for how he's likely to do when adults 18-49 numbers come out later.
The War on Late Night
Conan O'Brien opened his first "Late Night" in 1993 with a very funny bit in which he strolled around Manhattan while the entire city reminded him he was no David Letterman.
Last week, I was fortunate enough to get a tour of O'Brien's "Tonight Show" set and offices. When I was in his office, I noticed that on the bulletin board where future guests and sketches are tracked, an index card stated simply, "Conan Runs Across America."
I had a feeling O'Brien was planning a subtle call back to his last First Night, and sure enough, he didn't disappoint. The video is below.
Meanwhile, "The Tonight Show" is in very good hands, indeed.
Jun 1, 2009
The last time Conan O'Brien debuted as host of late night show, the reviews were brutal. Sixteen years later, critics seem a bit more impressed.
While not glowing, the early notices for O'Brien's inaugural edition of "The Tonight Show" were relatively upbeat.
"If you like what he does — and I do — odds are you'll be happy for the chance to see him do it an hour earlier," wrote Robert Bianco, TV critic for USA Today.
Time's James Poniewozik called O'Brien "polished, off-the-cuff funny, dapper, poised—but not, substantively, all that different from the Conan of 'Late Night'." He said O'Brien's first monologue was "sharp but not gut-busting. But, more important, it was competent."
The Los Angeles Times' Mary McNamara praised O'Brien's running across America opening as "a funny, ambitious and surprisingly majestic sketch but, more important, it's certainly something Jay Leno would never, ever do.
"O'Brien is not as interested in filling Jay's shoes as in buying a much newer pair," she added.
The Hollywood Reporter didn't take much of a strong stand one way or another.
UPDATED 3:37 p.m.
CBS and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences are moving up the date of this year’s Emmy broadcast to Sept. 13, a week earlier than first announced.
The network and the TV Academy had planned to air the 61st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on Sept. 20. But after that decision was made, the NFL came out with its Sunday schedule, and it turned out CBS had a football doubleheader on Sept. 20.
Football almost always bleeds over into primetime when networks have doubleheaders. And because CBS is loathe to pre-empt “60 Minutes,” broadcasting the Emmys on Sept. 20 would have likely resulted in the awards starting late. CBS and the Academy decided it made sense to simply move the Emmys a week earlier.
The decision has other benefits.
The primetime NFL game scheduled for Sept. 13 on NBC—the Bears vs. the Packers-- is expected to be less of a barnburner than the Sept. 20 showdown (the Giants and Cowboys).
“It’s the right thing to do,” said CBS scheduling chief Kelly Kahl. “This benefits us, and it benefits the Academy.”
The rescheduling could play havoc with the Creative Arts Emmys, which are currently set for Sept. 12. It would be odd to hold back-to-back ceremonies, but having them a week earlier would be equally awkward since it will be Labor Day Weekend.
"The rescheduling of the Primetime Emmy Awards telecast may affect the location and date of the Creative Arts Awards, which is currently under consideration," an ATAS spokeswoman said.
Nominations for this year’s Emmys are still set to be revealed July 16.