February 04, 2011
Ratings catch NBC's 'The Chase'
The clock that's been ticking since November on The Chase, NBC's highly promoted Jerry Bruckheimer crime drama, has finally struck midnight. NBC has pulled the low-rated show from its Wednesday timeslot in favor of an extra hour of contest show Minute To Win It. There are several unaired episodes in the can, but don't expect to see them except possibly as a summer burn-off.
February 03, 2011
Fox News crew beaten in Cairo
News accounts of the political turbulence in Egypt on Wednesday made much of the fact that some demonstrators turned on American television crews, seizing cameras from ABC and throwing punches at Anderson Cooper. But the violence was much worse than reported. Fox News correspondent Greg Palkot and producer Olaf Wiig (who in 2006 was kidnapped and held for 10 days by jihadists in the Gaza Strip) were attacked with a Molotov cocktail, then beaten so severely Wednesday that they were hospitalized overnight. Fox News kept mum about it until the netowrk was able to get the men to a secure location.
UPDATE: Now comes word that ABC reporter Brian Hartman and three crew members were carjacked and threatened with beheading on the road between downtown Cairo and the city airport. They talked their way out of the situation, as did ABC's Christiane Amanpour and her crew in a separate confrontation. As the situation in Cairo continues to deteriorate, deaths among the journalists covering it seem almost inevitable. I wonder if the smartass critics of the so-called lamestream media, on both right and left, are paying any attention.
ANOTHER UPDATE: CBS's Lara Logan was threatned as well.
February 02, 2011
It's NOT snowing. It's NOT, it's NOT, it's NOT!
February 01, 2011
'The Kennedys' will air on ReelzChannel
The Kennedys has finally found a home. The Hollywood Reporter says the miniseries will debut on ReelzChannel,a cable movie network that's available in about 60 million American homes. The miniseries, starring Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes, has been searching for a venue the past three weeks after the History Channel folded in the face of Kennedy family pressure and decided not to show it.
Drug war: Let's say we won and get out
It's not exactly television, but...
The veteran sitting across the table from me looked weary after delivering yet another speech against a war that has neither a point nor, apparently, an end. It was started years ago by a Republican president, long since discredited, the veteran noted. Yet the Democrats who until a few weeks ago controlled both the White House and Congress didn't raise a finger to stop it. "I don't understand how much more money has to be wasted or how many more lives have to be ruined before we admit it's been a huge mistake,'' Kyle Vogt told me. "We can end this thing with the stroke of a pen.''
He wasn't referring to Iraq or Afghanistan, but America's truly endless war, the war on drugs. Declared 40 years ago by President Nixon, it chews up $41 billion in government spending each year while sending two million Americans to jail. Yet Nixon's goal of a drug-free America ("the final issue is not whether we will conquer drug abuse, but how soon'') seems no closer to anyone but the drug warriors themselves.
"All these years later, the people running the drug war keep promising us the same thing they have from the beginning, that they can decrease drug use,'' Vogt said. ``They just need a little more time and a little more money. Why do we listen? We wouldn't tolerate that from a physician who was treating us and not making us any better.
"And if everything your physician told you to do made your illness worse, you'd quit doing it and find another doctor.''
Vogt, who served four years as a military policeman on a Maryland army base, speaks as a veteran of the front lines of the drug war. He's one of an increasing number of former drug warriors turned doves. Their organization, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), includes some 4,000 people -- from beat cops through Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico -- who once played roles in enforcing drug laws. Read my full op-ed column in Tuesday's Miami Herald.
January 31, 2011
CBS juggles around Sheen's absence
With Charlie Sheen in rehab, and Two And A Half Men out of production, CBS has some big gaps in its schedule. The network just announced it has ordered two episodes apiece of Mike And Molly and Rules Of Engagement to help fill the empty time slots.
I've had a lot of email over the years from viewers who wondered why CBS never disciplined Sheen for his regular adventures with hookers and/or mind-altering substances. The answer is that he always came to work, and CBS didn't care (much, anyway) about any image problems. Particularly since they more or less matched up with the image of his party-boy character on the series.
But that may change. The Hollywood Reporter says Sheen has jeopardized $250 million in syndication fees and countless millions more in ad revenue by going off the rails. That's the kind of thing that will get your named linked with Lindsay Lohan's not in gossip columns but corporate accounting offices.
Programming note: The Two And A Half Men episode scheduled next week -- one of only two remaining in the can -- is titled Three Hookers And A Philly Cheesesteak. Heh-heh.
Tribune Broadcasting may buy 'The Kennedys'
The lastest scheme to resurrect The Kennedys miniseries, reports Deadline Hollywood , is to air it on stations belonging to Tribune Broadcasting. (Good news for South Florida: They include WSFL-CW 39, as well as channels in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Philadelphia and other big markets.) Tribune, in turn, might sell the series to stations in cities where it doesn't own anything.) All this is said to be contingent on permission from the History Channel, which even though it refused to air the show under pressure from the Kennedy family, retains veto rights on where it can air.
January 30, 2011
Screen Gems: TV the week of January 30
Kennedys’ Home Movies (9 p.m. Sunday, TLC) –- There’s no longer a single member of the family holding elective office, but many Americans remain fascinated by the Kennedy dynasty. This documentary uses home movies, snapshots and other souvenirs to trace the family political history starting with patriarch Joe and ending up with the aspiring young pols of the fourth generation.
Independent Lens: For Once In My Life (11 p.m. Tuesday, WPBT-PBS 2) –- A profile of Miami’s Spirit of Goodwill band, a collection of 29 musicians with disabilities ranging from autism to blindness.
Note: Days and times for PBS shows are for the Miami area, and may differ elsewhere
Let me program your TiVo! Just click on my best bets for the week at www.tivo.com/guruguide.
January 28, 2011
Piers Morgan: Boobs! Sex tapes! No viewers!
I've been fighting off the temptation to mention the nosediving ratings of Piers Morgan's new show on CNN. But I surrendered this afternoon when the Nielsen folks revealed that Morgan dropped below half a million viewers Thursday night even with a bunch of crazed half-naked Kardashians sitting at the desk with him. Really. You can't break the half-million mark with Hollywood's most beloved trollops bragging about their boobs? (The scoop from Kim: "They're 100 percent real!" Kourtney, not so much.) And their sex tapes? (Poor Kim says she's embarrassed by hers, though not embarrassed enough to stop talking about it on national televison, though I guess you could argue that 498,000 viewers qualifies as a "national audience" only in someplace like the Togolese Republic, which may be where Piers Morgan is doing his next show.)
Talking about ratings in the first couple of weeks of a talk show is usually unfair; it takes a new one time to build an audience. But in Morgan's case, he's losing an audience. His show debuted on January 17 with 2.1 million viewers tuning in to see him chat up Oprah Winfrey. They were so impressed that almost half of them didn't return for day two.
Since then, Morgan's ratings fell every day except for a small upward blip last Tuesday when Rudy Giuliani was the guest. By the time the Kardashians had finished hyperventilating Thursday night, Morgan had lost more than three-quarters of the viewers he started with last week.
(Hey, you wanna know who's really enjoying reading this? Larry King. In its final six months, his show was averaging 613,000 viewers, was low enough to get him kicked off the air after 50 years in broadcasting. But it's about 20 percent bigger than Morgan's audience Thursday night.)
CNN, by the way, announced Friday that it has a new "managing editor," former Newsweek editor and NBC Washington bureau chief Mark Whitaker. His assignment, the network said, is "to create a more powerful and distinctive dialogue about the top news stories of the day." At the rate CNN is shedding viewers, though, the dialogue's going to have to be between cameramen and stagehands.
Friday afternoon, and the readin' is easy
Stuff to read on a Friday afternoon: A Hollywood Reporter piece on why the cable-news nets cannot shut up about Sarah Palin for even five minutes at a time. (Most horrifying factlet in the story: In one five-hour span, MSNBC mentioned Palin in connection with the Arizona massacre 166 times; Jared Loughner, the accused gunman, only 18 times.) Gossip in the New York Post that ex-NBC boss Jeff Zucker and soon to be ex-CBS anchor Katie Couric, who worked together at The Today Show all those years ago, may be planning a syndicated talk show. And the scoop from Deadline Hollywood that HBO has picked up the newest drama series from West Wing's Aaron Sorkin. This one takes place behind the scenes at a cable-news network. No word yet on who will play Sarah Palin.