That lawsuit filed WSVN-Fox 7's parent company seeking to have Nielsen Media Research declared an illegal monopoly is slowing working its way toward a courtroom. Media Daily News reports that an attempt at court-ordered mediation went down the tubes last week in Boston, where representatives of Sunbeam Television Corp. held a fruitless meeting with Nielsen. Meanwhile, Sunbeam has produced a list of over 100 witnesses who could potentially be called if the case goes to trial in a Miami Federal court. The two sides have four months or so in which to beat their chests, bellow, bluff and -- maybe -- work out a deal. If they don't, it appears the case will reach critical mass -- and a courtroom -- in January.
It's not a mirage -- or hallucination -- brought on by the August heat: Those really are the Emmy awards being handed out on NBC Sunday. And if you're wondering why they're being staged nearly a month ahead of schedule, there are 8.7 million good reasons. That's the difference between the number of viewers (13.3 million) for last year's Emmys, which aired on CBS, and the viewers for the NFL game (22 million) scheduled against it on NBC.
NBC executives may not know much about drama, comedy, plot, dialogue, good taste or any of the other minor details attending to the TV business, but their money-counting skills are sound. When the Emmys rotated to their network this year, they decided to move up the telecast rather than have to blow off a lucrative Sunday-night football game. And only an Emmy grinch would point out that the last time the awards were staged in August, they lost 2.5 million viewers who never returned.
Anyway, my picks for the major awards appear in Sunday's Miami Herald along with detailed descriptions of each of the 512 nominees. OK, OK, that's a joke -- not the 512 number, which is honest-to-God real, but we don't have a detailed description of each one. Sorry, but words just failed me when I came to The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack or Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil in the Outstanding Short-format Animated Program category. Maybe next year. Read the ones I really did pick in Sunday's Miami Herald.
Who The (Bleep) Did I Marry? (10 p.m Wednesday, Investigation Discovery) -- This doumentary series recounts tales of spouses who belatedly discover they've married bank robbers, con men, bigamists and other non-traditional matrimonial prospects. In the debut episode, Jennifer Aniston wakes up to find herself married to a Miami Herald TV critic. Ha ha! Just kidding. It's Courteney Cox, not Jennifer Aniston.
Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (11 p.m. Monday, Turner Classic Movies) -- Part of an 11-film salute to Elizabeth Taylor that begins at 6 a.m. and lasts 24 hours, this tale of a married couple lacerating one another during an all-night boozefest won her an Oscar.
And Richard Burton was nominated for his role as her husband, who was not a Miami Herald TV critic.
I wasn't really sure that How I Met Your Mother would last a full season when it debuted in 2005. Convoluted story-telling, a narrative constructed entirely of flashbacks: I didn't dislike the CBS sitcom, but it seemed to me it had too many hurdles for viewers, who would scratch their heads and then click on past to another channel.
Now it's 2010 and not only is How I Met Your Mother ready to launch its sixth season -- but it's even going into broadcast syndication. It launches on Sept. 13, just six days shy of the fifth anniversary of the show's original debut. In South Florida, you can find it on WBFS-MyNet 33, with back-to-back episodes airing at 7 and 7:30 p.m. on weekdays.
It's not exactly television, but...
I guess I have to take back all my wisecracks about President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize. No, not because he's finally pulled U.S. troops out of Iraq, except for the 50,000 that he didn't. (Come on, that's close enough for government math.) It's because he's ended crime in America.
The White House's proclamation of victory last week came in the form of six felony indictments against former major league pitcher Roger Clemens for lying to Congress when he said he'd never taken steroids.
The Justice Department didn't actually say the war on crime is over. But if federal prosecutors and the FBI have nothing better to do than trying to put Clemens in jail for 30 years for denying use of a drug that isn't even illegal, then we've obviously reached what the philosophers will soon proclaim is The End of Outlaw History.
People are often surprised and sometimes even offended to learn that you can be charged with a crime for lying to the collection of hacks, loafers, parasites, thieves, pork addicts, page-molesters and general swine who Mark Twain once called America's only native criminal class. Not me. Read my full op-ed column about lies, damn lies and congressmen in Tuesday's Miami Herald.
A few years ago I went over to a South Beach hotel where Julian McMahon and Dylan Walsh were shooting some promo material for Nip/Tuck. We were chatting about some of the story lines for the upcoming season, which ones they liked and which ones they didn't, when Walsh -- who played Dr. Sean McNamara on the show -- began to get nervous. "I don't want to go down that road, acting like I'm running the show," he said before changing the subject. "Because then I might get a real surprise in the next script: 'Sean, standing on a corner, is suddenly run over by a runaway beer truck'."
It turns out that wasn't a fanciful fear. The Wall Street Journal has a fabulous story about how TV screenwriters use their scripts to avenge personal and professional slights. That bitchy high school girl who wouldn't give you a second look? Write her into Frasier as an alcoholic. A boss treated you badly? Put his name on a tombstone in The Sopranos. Michael Moriarty wants too much money on Law & Order? Wow, suddenly his character Benjamin Stone is resigning from the prosecutor's staff in disgrace. My absolute favorite was the writer who was crossed by comedian Elayne Boosler. And years later, a character on Boston Commonis have trouble with airport security after making a wisecrack about a bomb. "You're going to arrest me for telling a stupid joke?" he demands. "Then why don't you arrest Elayne Boosler?'"
Sooner or later -- usually, sooner -- everybody has his Defining South Florida moment. Mine came as a young Miami Herald reporter covering Sunrise, back then just a ragged string of condo towers along the murky, mosquito-ridden frontier of West Broward. One night during a city council meeting, I listened in amazement as an irascible old woman rose from the audience to deliver a long, ranting demand that the council do something to get rid of a video-game parlor that had recently opened just inside the city limits.
It wasn't that the parlor was crowded or noisy or garishly lit. It just was, and that was enough. ``We don't need those kind of people here!'' the woman shouted, as murmurs of approval echoed through the room, and the councilmen enthusiastically nodded like a herd of bobble-head dolls in an earthquake.
Neither the woman nor anyone else ever specified exactly what kind of people had to be run out of town, but run out they were. Within a month, the video-game parlor had vanished, leaving the condo-dwellers to return peacefully to their ordinary business of kicking one another out for unauthorized door decorations and illicit color schemes. And I had my little epiphany, realizing that the most endangered species in South Florida was not some slithery amphibian or obscure fern but the concept of minding your own business. In the two decades since, it's been so rarely sighted that I'm pretty sure it's extinct.
WLRN's new documentary Stiltsville: Generations on the Flats is a wistful, fascinating reminder that once upon a time, South Florida -- or at least one waterborne little chunk of it -- was not always a circus of schoolmarmish snoopery. Just above the ocean waves off Key Biscayne, Hefnerian bachelor pads coexisted peacefully with Beaver Cleaver suburban dream houses and crusty cracker bait shops. Read my full review of Stiltsville: Generations on the Flats in Sunday's Miami Herald.
Because there are 72,000 Emmy awards, they have to start giving them out a week early. During Saturday's Creative Arts Emmy ceremonies (otherwise known as the Crummy Emmys) John Lithgow won an award as best guest actor on a drama (notwithstanding that his "guest star" slot lasted all season long on Dexter). "I'm glad to have every chance to thank Matt Blank and Bob Greenblatt of HBO," Lithgow said said as he waved his Crummy Emmy. Oops. Matt Blank and Bob Greenblatt work at Showtime, which is the network on which Dexter airs.
Told backstage what he had said, Lithgow looked brokenhearted. "They'll probably be taking this back now," he said. Nah, John, nobody wants a Crummy Emmy.
Stiltsville: Generations on the Flats (7 p.m Sunday, WLRN-PBS 17) -- A wistful, fascinating documentary on a Miami neighborhood that rose literally out of the sea. Come back later today for a full review
POV (11 p.m. Tuesday, WPBT-PBS 2) -- Filmmaker Amy Hardie had a dream in which her horse died -- and awoke to discover it was no dream. Soon she dreamed of another death, this time her own. And as her lungs began to fail, she made this documentary, The Edge of Dreaming, exploring dreams, sleep and neuroscience.
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 bests for the week at www.tivo.com/guruguide.