New but possibly familiar face at WTVJ-NBC 6: Kevin Corke, taking over the anchor spot recently vacated when Julia Yarbrough walked away at the end of her contract. You may have seen him on on the NBC Nightly News or the Todayshow; from 2004 to 2008, he was a network correspondent, reporting from the White House, the Pentagon and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. He was axed last year as part of a massive NBC budget slaughter that did away with 500 jobs. Says his Facebook page: FINALLY GOT A JOB! You'll see him on the air sometime around the first of the year.
No wonder NPR cultists worship the network so. NPR is so good that it analyzes the news before it happens. Brian Lowry. Variety's top TV writer, describes a recent interview request from NPR:
An NPR program recently asked me to tape an interview analyzing the significance of this year's Emmy Awards. The only problem was that they wanted to pre-tape the segment on Wednesday and then air it the day after the event, on Monday.
Adds Lowry: "I politely (OK, actually, not that politely) declined."
Southland, the NBC cop drama canceled before a single episode of its second season could air, isn't quite dead yet. Executive Producer John Wells called the cast late last week to report two other networks have shown interest in picking the show up, says the Hollywood Reporter. One of them is almost certainly TNT, which shares a corporate umbrella with Warner Bros. Television, the studio that produces the show. Before cheering too wildly, Southland fans need to recognize that if the show moves to cable, costs will almost certainly have to come down. If you hear an announcement that Southland has been picked up by TNT, watch out for a wave of cop-killings.
Lock 'N Load (8 p.m. Wednesday, Showtime) -- This reality show, using hidden cameras, tracks daily life at a family-owned Colorado gun shop where customers chat about how their kids are doing at summer camp while they haggle over the price of AK-47s.
Occupation (8 p.m. Sunday, BBC America) -- Four years ago, FX tried airing a series about the war in Iraq while American soldiers were still fighting it. A brilliant drama that cut way too close to home, it was a ratings catastrophe. Now BBC America gives it a try.
Latino in America (9 p.m. Wednesday, CNN)-- A two-part, four-documentary (the second half airs Thursday) hosted by Soledad O'Brien, Latino in America takes an unusually broad look at America's largest minority group. Rich and poor, young and old, Cubans and Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and Guatemalans: what they have in common and the many things they don't.
Let meprogram your TiVo! Just click on my best bets for the week at www.tivo.com/guruguide.
A ton. In the Nielsen ratings for the week of Oct. 5, only two of the new shows from broadcast television made the top 30, both from CBS. NCIS: Los Angeles, with 151,000 viewers, came in at No. 12. And The Good Wife, with 121,000 viewers, was No. 25. At the top of the ratings, not surprisingly, was ESPN's coverage of the Dolphins-Jets game, which pulled in 241,000 viewers.
The World Weekly News, the space-alien-centric supermarket tabloid that Tommy Lee Jones' character in Men In Black called "best damn investigative reporting on the planet," has just gotten a Hollywood agent. No kidding -- the Hollywood Reporter says World Weekly News, which changed ownership last year, has just signed a deal with show-biz powerhouse CAA, and there's already a deal in the works for a TV show produced by DreamWorks.
This could be just the thing to revive American journalism. World Weekly News scoops have included the the discovery of Bat Boy ("half human and half bat!") in a West Virginia cave, rampaging Elvis clones, George Bush's secret plan to invade the moon, Saddam Hussein's career in gay porn, Hans Christian Andersen's cannibalism, and the fact that 12 U.S. senators were closet space aliens. ("I'm amazed it took you this long to find out," the story quoted Texas Republican Phil Gramm.) In a searing expose that I'm amazed Barney Frank hasn't cited in making his case for a government takeover of health care, the World Weekly News once reported how a surgeon with a ruthless eye on the bottom line re-attached a pair of Siamese twins when they didn't pay the bill for their separation.
In a possibly related development, a new Zogby Poll taken for the Animal Planet channel reveals that one in three Americans would like to see Bigfoot proven real, though 21 percent stubbornly held out for vampires and werewolves.
Ever since Miami Social, much of the world has been praying nightly for Martian death machines to land in South Beach and reduce it to a smoking, lifeless ruin. But the Martians must be using a crummy GPS from the closeout table at Costco, because they're going to Fort Lauderdale Beach instead and obliterate the whole of Broward County. (Those of you smart enough to be reading a Miami Herald blog instead of that perfidious Brand X newspaper up there can now flee to safety. You're welcome.)
Broward's destruction -- or liberation from Stacy Ritter, depending on how you see it -- will come on Halloween night when radio station WLYF (101.5 Lite FM) runs an updated version of War of the Worlds, the infamous Orson Welles broadcast that freaked out most of America in 1938. Instead of landing in Princeton, New Jersey, the Martians will land in Fort Lauderdale, interrupting a live remote radio broadcast. Lite FM "News reports" will track their robots as they flash-fry valet parkers on Las Olas, make the bargain-hunters at the Swap Shop wish they'd stayed in the house to watch the Home Shopping Network, and settle the question of blackjack at the Hard Rock with a ringing finality.
Dave Corey, the creative services chief at WLYF, is producing the show. He's also supposedly working on a Miami version of Miracle on 34th Street for Christmas. No details yet, but I'm supposing it involves a little girl who doesn't believe in hanging chads until she's set straight by a jolly department-store Al Gore.
I was concerned last year when Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy began ripping one another's steaming entrails out in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a rewrite of Jane Austen's classic novel. I was downright alarmed when the American cinema embraced the sensuality of rotting ambulatory corpses in Zombie Strippers. And I began marking off the days until the Apocalypse after reading the public taunt a friend left her brother while playing last spring's ubiquitous zombie-combat game on Facebook: ``I sucked out your brains and spit them to the floor, you zombie dog!''
Still, after watching the berserkly funny documentary Starz Inside: Zombiemania, I've concluded I didn't know the half of it. Patrons of the fine arts are paying artists to paint their portraits as zombies. "A head wound. A complete side of their face gone. Deluged with maggots and flies and stuff. Or, you know, pustules,'' says one zombie artist, ticking off the customized features available. Read my full review of Zombiemania in Tuesday's Miami Herald.
NBC has been in free-fall since 2004, but the way everybody's screaming about it, you'd think Jay Leno's move to prime time is responsible for everything that's gone wrong. There's an interesting story about the debate in Monday's New York Times, but you've got to practically to the end to get to the real point:
[NBC has concluded] that hits cannot be established at 10 anymore, largely because the hour is dominated by viewers playing back recorded shows on digital video recorders...Indeed, ABC’s performance is certainly providing some cover for NBC’s move at 10. Mr. Leno is already faring as well or better than two new ABC dramas, The Forgotten and Eastwick, and he is not far behind a third, Castle. All those shows cost three times as much or more per episode as Mr. Leno’s show.
At the root of the Leno move is an NBC belief that the old network business model is dead, that audiences will continue to decline not just for NBC but for all network shows as home entertainment options multiply and the audience continues to fractionalize. In turn, NBC reasons, the big budgets of scripted programming (especially the very expensive drama form) can no longer be supported -- and the future lies with cheaper programming. The drop in ratings at 10 p.m., in this thinking, is just the tip of an advancing iceberg.
This is not as radical as NBC's critics (most of them aggrieved producers who see a declining demand for their shows) are making it sound. Fox and The CW have never offered The next few months will tell us much about whether NBC is on the right track. It's also possible that NBC is partially right -- that there's a big enough audience for the foreseeable future to support one or two network slates of dramas at 10 p.m., but not three. What were interesting to me were the reports last week that Comcast, which is talking about buying part or all of NBC, would keep companyboss Jeff Zucker in place if the sale goes through. That suggests to me that the money people -- that is, the ones who matter -- think he's placed the right bet.
Talk about a marriage of the doomed! The United Football League, a new pro football venture, debuted last week on the facing Versus sports network. The result: about 146,000 viewers in the 18-to-49 age demographic. That's about 13 percent lower than the average Versus audience, which is already down at levels nearing Nielsen brain death.
The UFL -- a four-team league that operates in Orlando, Las Vegas, San Francisco and New York -- hitched its wagon to the Versus star at the worst possible moment, just as the tiny cable channel was getting itself kicked off DirecTV's satellite dishes in a rate dispute. That bounced Versus out of 18 million American homes, though the network claims that enhanced availability through the rival Dish Network cut the loss to five million. Bottom line: The Lingerie Football League seems a good bet to outlast both the UFL and Versus.