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.
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.
May 17, 2009
ABC chief Steve McPherson had a busy weekend, greenlighting a dozen new and returning bubble shows in preparation for the fall.
The new issue of TelevisionWeek has my Q&A with McSteve. While he doesn't drop any bombshells, McPherson reveals just how happy he seems to be with this year's development roster, that he thinks ABC has its best comedy slate in years and how he thinks Jimmy Kimmel will fare against Conan O'Brien. He also takes a dig or two at Nielsen.
Read the full transcript here.
May 8, 2009
Just in time for the weekend comes another horror story from the front lines of Hollywood's war on costs.
My former Variety colleague Cynthia Littleton has an article out today nicely summing up the nightmare that is this spring's TV staffing season. I've seen Tweets and blog posts about how tough it is for writers to land gigs on shows; Littleton explains just how bad things have gotten.
Industry sources say studios producing skeins for Big Four nets are pushing for cuts of as much as 10%-15% in the writing budget for returning series, while new shows will start out with smaller staffs than first-year shows in recent seasons. Where skeins once had as many as 10-12 writers, not including the showrunner(s), the new norm is becoming six to eight.
You can read the full story right here.
Apr 30, 2009
One of TV MoJoe’s five (hundred million!) readers emailed me a few minutes ago to complain about the lack of any new posts since last night. I appreciate the desire for fresh content … but, sheesh, people! I am not this person or even the guy New York magazine just dubbed the “headline machine” of Twitter.
That said, I figured I ought to dredge up a few links for the late afternoon linkage. Afternoon Joe seems to be the “landslide” winner in the what-to-name-this-thing contest … but still waiting until Monday for a final decision.
—Time magazine is out with its annual Time 100 list of the most influential folks in the world—and some TV types made the cut. Among them: Bravo/Oxygen chief Lauren Zalaznick, who fittingly has made a career out of wooing “influencers.” Time got Martha Stewart to pen the tribute. (“She’s never contrived,” Martha writes, quite correctly.)
NBC Universal also scored mentions for Tina Fey and, in a surprise, Jay Leno. (I guess Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are played out for the Time editors?) Leno’s homage is by Jimmy Fallon, who wins this week’s Suck Up award. The ladies of “The View” also are represented, as is PBS’ Tavis Smiley. And it wouldn’t be a Really Important List without a mention of Oprah.
Apr 29, 2009
So we still haven’t decided on a name for this afternoon link machine. One friend suggested Afternoon Joe. I kinda like—it’s got that late-day coffee-fix feel to it. I’m also mulling PM Magazine (after my favorite prime access newsmag of the 1980s) and Whole Lotta Links (Led Zeppelin references never go out of style).
Of course, given the lack of comments in yesterday’s post, it’s clear this debate is not exactly sweeping the nation like … wait for it … that’s right, I’m gonna say it … swine flu. So I promise to limit the navel-gazing on this matter to a few more days, and promise to have a permanent title by Monday.
Today’s list of stuff starts with some awesome video.
Apr 28, 2009
It's 4 o'clock. Where's everybody gone?
Nope, Oprah's not on. (Though feel free to get jiggy with it like Carlton).
At least not here in L.A. Instead, everybody's hunched over their computers for TV MoJoe's … well, I haven't thought of a name yet for this feature. Basically, it's the standard list of links you find on these here weblogs. Suggestions on what to call this thing—Link It Like Ya Mean It? PM Magazine?—are much appreciated.
—ABC News is not happy about today's page one New York Times article detailing how a 2007 story by the network's Brian Ross may have influenced the public debate over waterboarding. Gawker offers up details of ABC's foot-stomping, while also raising a few questions of its own about Ross' reporting. (My thought: The Times story was less a hit on Ross and more of an examination of how politicians and interest groups twist news reports to fit their own agendas.)
Apr 26, 2009
Just two weeks until the new "Star Trek" explodes into theaters. Get ready for all manner of mind meld, boldly going and live long and prosper puns.
Both major newsweeklies are out with splashy packages on JJ Abram's new movie, which is getting early raves (both Variety and Hollywood Reporter reviews include warp speed references, so you know it's good).
Newsweek puts the Trek on its cover, with a lead story written by Steve Daly. Daly manages to find parallels between "Trek" and President Obama. Really. Still a good read.
Also in the package: An essay by former "Trek" scribe Leonard Mlodinow, who calls the demanding-but-beloved Gene Roddenberry a "Hollywood Steve Jobs."
Over at Time, the movie gets just a corner of the cover. But Lev Grossman's think piece is a nice read, and explains why the gazillion incarnations of "Trek" over the years have made it difficult for him to fully love the franchise as he once did.