Insider: Column for Mature Audiences

Sep 2, 2007  •  Post A Comment

HBO has been telling the world for years that “It’s Not TV. It’s HBO.” Showtime has begun telling its subscribers that its original series are “the best shit on television.”
To be perfectly honest, The Insider only feels that way about “Brotherhood,” and she is breathlessly awaiting “Brotherhood’s” second season, which starts Sept. 30.
To be perfectly transparent, The Insider had gotten so tired of the preseason promos for “Weeds” and “Californication” that she long ago began fast-forwarding or muting the second each made-for-promotion break interrupted “Big Brother After Dark” on the multiplex channel ShoToo.
For an addict of “Big Brother,” now in its eighth incarnation on CBS, the live and unexpurgated feeds from the made-for-TV house that start at midnight each night of the week on unregulated sister operation ShoToo are, literally and figuratively, the best you-know-what on TV.
Rarely a minute goes by in which one or more of the “BB8” houseguests — even the resident Bible-reading, long-windedly praying contingent — don’t utter the S-word, F-word and even the C-word and T-word generally deemed unacceptably demeaning to women.
So The Insider did a spit take and pinched herself to make sure she was indeed watching “BB8” and not dreaming two weeks ago when she first saw the white, sans-serif words “the best shit on television” crop up against a lightly clouded, summer-blue sky on the screen at the end of a montage of profane and raunchy clips from Showtime’s profane and raunchy original series.
Then she laughed out loud. She still giggles every time she sees it. And she wonders why this attitude-defining spot didn’t get mentioned in the New York Times’ Aug. 23 story about aspersions being cast about HBO original series’ performance of late. Oh, yeah. It’s the New York Times.
Anyhoo, it turns out that a 2-minute, 14-second version of the spot was supplied to YouTube by Showtime on Aug. 6.
The music in the spot is by improvisational comedy troupe Centralia. The lyrics, which will not be fully reprinted here to avoid a question of tonnage, are sung in a style that at times rises to almost cathedral-choral majesty: “Holy, ho-oly shit/This is the end, this is it.”
But the world hasn’t ended at Showtime Networks, where Len Fogge, the executive VP for marketing, research and digital media, says no consumer complaints have been registered. “We’re judicious” about where and when it runs — no family channel and no daytime.
As Mr. Fogge tells it, the “Holy” concept was first considered for a “Weeds” promo. After Showtime decided to go in another direction for the pot-centric comedy, Frank Pintauro, senior VP and general manager of its in-house agency Red Group, and VP and creative director Angie Speranza huddled and came back with the original-series concept.
Mr. Fogge says there was brief deliberation but no hesitation.
“When I saw it, I thought, ‘My gawd, this is really revolutionary,'” Mr. Fogge says. “It made me smile. We are a premium network and we are able to do things that other networks don’t.”
What could possibly be next?
“We keep trying to be the curve,” Mr. Fogge said.
The Insider can hardly wait to see what’s better than “the best shit on television.”

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