Behind the News

Jul 1, 2009

Behind the News

The TV Academy Gets It Right: Why Neil Patrick Harris is Such a Stunning Choice for Emmy Host

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." 

Continue reading The TV Academy Gets It Right: Why Neil Patrick Harris is Such a Stunning Choice for Emmy Host

  • POSTED 11:37 PM
  • 11

Jun 25, 2009

Behind the News

Michael Jackson, Syndication Star

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:


Continue reading Michael Jackson, Syndication Star

  • POSTED 4:48 PM
  • 1

Jun 15, 2009

Behind the News

MTV's Graden Exit: Maybe a Good Thing?

BrianGraden.jpgThe 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.



Continue reading MTV's Graden Exit: Maybe a Good Thing?

  • POSTED 4:41 PM
  • 1

Jun 14, 2009

Behind the News

Welches, Reveille Bring Good Things to Life for Microsoft

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.


Continue reading Welches, Reveille Bring Good Things to Life for Microsoft

May 28, 2009

Behind the News

The Early Bird Gets the Viewer?

Local newscasts have been starting earlier and earlier in recent years. Now, KNBC is upping the ante in the early bird wars.

The NBC-owned station in Los Angeles this week moved the start time for "Today in LA" up-- or is it back?-- to the insomnia-friendly hour of 4 a.m.

KNBC used to start its pre-dawn show at 4:30 a.m., the same time KABC and KTLA begin their newscasts. But now that the NBC station has decide to go live at 4, it's probably just a matter of time before at least one other LA station decides to get up at 4 o'clock as well.

The early start time might seem ludicrous to folks in some parts of the country. But 5 a.m. traffic jams not unheard of in LA, KNBC probably made the right call.

Continue reading The Early Bird Gets the Viewer?

  • POSTED 11:25 PM
  • 1

May 19, 2009

Behind the News

The Unit

The Unit: RIP

Not a shock: CBS has passed on picking up "The Unit." It appears homeless at the moment.

NBC has also, as expected, said goodbye to "Medium" and "My Name Is Earl." "Medium" could jump to CBS. "Earl" producer 20th Century Fox TV is talking to Fox and ABC about a pickup.

Continue reading The Unit: RIP

  • POSTED 8:10 AM
  • 3

May 13, 2009

Behind the News

Jon Stewart: 'Daily' Love for 'Chuck'

The Save "Chuck" campaign has picked up some unexpected support from... Jon Stewart?

The host of "The Daily Show" threw in a random plug for the NBC bubble show Tuesday night during a segment ripping House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over her knowledge of the Bush administration's torture activities.

"It’s good to know that Nancy Pelosi took torture as seriously as a ‘Don’t Cancel 'Chuck' petition," Stewart said, adding: "But seriously though, don’t cancel 'Chuck'.”

Video of the segment below, with the "Chuck" quip at the very end of the clip:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Waffle House
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

Continue reading Jon Stewart: 'Daily' Love for 'Chuck'

May 7, 2009

Behind the News

'Virtuality': The Final Insult

Burnoff Theater is making a comeback this summer.

A Fox spokeswoman confirmed today that the network will air the apparently failed two-hour pilot for “Virtuality” on Saturday, July 4. Website The Futon Critic first noted the scheduling earlier today.

“Virtuality” is from “Battlestar Galactica” showrunner Ronald Moore and producers Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun. Fans of “BSG” have been buzzing about the project since it was first greenlit more than a year ago. Executives at the network weren’t wowed when they screened the finish product, but there had been talk that Fox might try to rework the pilot.

Continue reading 'Virtuality': The Final Insult

Behind the News


Are Things Looking Up for 'Chuck'?

Well, “Chuck” me.

NBC still isn’t expected to make a final call on its bubble shows until May 19, when it reveals exact details of its fall schedule. But there are signs that things just might be looking up for “Chuck,” the NBC comedy-drama we at MoJoe tend to write about as often as Perez Hilton mentions Lindsay Lohan.

Two Peacock insiders told us this afternoon that NBC executives have started taking notice of the massive Twitter- and Internet-based fan campaign to Save Chuck. “I think it’s working,” said one NBC source not given to overstatement.

Both insiders cautioned that there’s still no guarantee “Chuck” will get a pickup. But they said the fan campaigns to patronize sponsor Subway and to send Nerds candies to executives have impressed NBC suits.

Also helping things: The super-low ratings for this week’s return of “Deal or No Deal,” which attracted exactly half the young-adult audience as a typical episode of “Chuck.” NBC brass realize they could do a lot worse than “Chuck” on Mondays.

Stay tuned.

Continue reading Are Things Looking Up for 'Chuck'?

  • POSTED 5:21 PM
  • 9

Apr 29, 2009

Behind the News


Previously on 'Lost'

I can still remember the first moment I heard about “Lost.”

It was 2004 and my then-Variety colleague Mike Schneider and I were having lunch with Lloyd Braun, who then ran most of the ABC empire. We were in the Disney executive dining room. Jennifer Garner, then smoldering on-screen in “Alias,” had come by to pay her respects. (This is the real reason I remember that day.)

Anyway, Braun suddenly leans in, as if he’s about to reveal the secret location of Walt Disney’s frozen corpse. “Boys,” he said, “I’ve got the best idea for a show. Ever. It’s ‘Survivor’ meets ‘Lord of the Flies.’ And J.J. [Abrams] is writing it.”

Tonight, Braun’s brainchild marks its milestone 100th episode. A lot of people are responsible for the success of “Lost” beyond Braun, including current ABC overlord Steve McPherson.

But ultimately, “Lost” is about the genius of two men.

Continue reading Previously on 'Lost'

  • POSTED 11:13 AM
  • 2

Previously on TV MoJoe

Conan Says 'Bye-O' to McMahon

Conan O'Brien will pay tribute to the late Ed McMahon on this evening's edition of "The Tonight Show" by airing…

VIDEO: Ed McMahon on His TV Legacy

The passing of Ed McMahon has cast a pall over TV land, as one of the medium's true icons has…

Fuller: Has He Had His Fill of 'Heroes'?

UPDATE: "Yes, I've left 'Heroes' to concentrate on my development. It's a bummer and I'm sad to go, but NBC…

Fox Creates New VP Slot to Boost Diversity

Fox Broadcasting has created a new executive position devoted to boosting diversity in its programming and has tapped former UPN…