Here's a sneak peek at the new beer commercial that will run during Saturday's NBC telecast of the Stanford-Notre Dame game.
Jeff Zucker, the North Miami High boy wonder who led NBC to some of its most dramatic ratings peaks and plunged it into some of its most profound abysses, has been fired as part of a corporate takeover.
In a Friday memo to company employees, Zucker said he'll leave when corporate parent NBC Universal is acquired by cable giant Comcast, a move expected to win approval from federal regulatory authorities late this year or early next.
Zucker, NBC Universal's chief executive officer, had hoped to stay on when the new owners arrived. But Comcast executives told him two weeks ago that he wasn't in their plans, he said. "It became increasingly clear that they did want to put their own team in place,'' Zucker told The New York Times. "And I didn't want to end up being a guest in my own house.''
His departure after 24 years caps a remarkable run for the one-time North Dade tennis star, who took a job as an NBC Sports researcher when his high-school ambition of being a Miami Herald sports writer covering the Dolphins didn't work out. Read my full story about the ups and downs of Zucker's NBC career in Satursday's Miami Herald.
I've reviewed 17 television shows this week, and as a series of rather tart letters from readers points out, not one of them was targeted on the 7-and-under demographic, even though the Herald's super-secret spyware suggests that's the majority of the Changing Channels reading audience. (My editors think this is the result of random banging on computer keyboards by the kids, though I suspect it has more to do with the occasional salacious photo of Raggedy Ann that turns up here.)
Anyway, time to erase this cruel iniquity. Though I stupidly missed it last week, the totally excellent second season of Battle Force 5 is already underway. Krytus--the evil Red Sentient leader who was released from imprisonment in the final episode of the first season-- is back. And boy is he, umm, ticked. He's going to destroy Sage and punish Zemerik! Once the imprisoned Red Sentient warriors are released, the entire Multiverse is toast! The carnage unfolds at 10:30 a.m. Saturday on the Cartoon Network, as if you didn't already know that.
If you're a network boss, you should quit reading this and bolt for your car in the garage; head straight home; and don't answer the phone or read email until Monday. The scent of blood is in the air. First CNN pitched Jon Klein overboard, and now NBC's Jeff Zucker says that Comcast wants him to take a hike when it acquires NBC late this year.
"In the last nine months it became increasingly clear that they did want to put their own team in place -- and I didn’t want to end up being a guest in my own house," Zucker told the New York Times. He got the definitive word two weeks ago in a meeting with Steve Burke, Comcast's chief operating officer.
After six years running CNN, with ratings in steady and horrific decline almost the whole time, Jon Klein was finally ousted Friday. Ken Jautz, boss at CNN's up-and-coming cousin HLN, is taking his place. That's probably ominous news if you value actual journalism: Jautz has boosted HLN's rating by cutting back news in favor of how-to shows, celebrity gossip, and one-woman lynch mobs like Nancy Grace and Jane Velez-Mitchell.
Scenes from a Sunday family dinner at the Reagan house.. . . Daughter Erin, an assistant D.A.: ``The laws are there for a reason!'' Grandfather Henry, a retired cop: ``Yeah, to protect the criminals!'' Father Frank, the current police chief: ``No strangling on Sunday!''
Welcome to Blue Bloods, the most interesting new take on police dramas since FX unleashed the concept of rogue-cop-as-anti-hero in The Shield eight years ago. A potent brew of family melodrama, crime-thriller tension and conspiratorial intrigue, Blue Bloods may actually bring some viewers back onto the sinking ship of Friday-night television. Read my full review in Friday's Miami Herald.
When the going gets tough, the tough go to musical comedies. That, at least, has always been Hollywood's conventional wisdom -- that Americans in rough times turn to entertainment to escape, not to be reminded that their economy is turning to dog poop before their eyes.
But what amounts to a revisionist counterattack gets underway as the fall TV season continues to roll out Thursday night. ABC's drama My Generation and NBC's sitcom Outsourced practically revel in the wreckage of war, economic blight and millennial-generation angst.
Outsourced is the odder of the shows. Call it an anti-workplace comedy: It stars stage actor Ben Rappaport as Todd Dempsey, 25-year-old manager of the phone center at a company that sells novelty items. He arrives at the office one morning to discover that everyone else has been fired (``We had to do a little right-sizing,'' explains a corporate suit), and he's being transferred to India to supervise their replacements.
My Generation, meanwhile, uses a high school's 10-year reunion as a launching pad to remember what a brutal decade we've just passed through, from 9/11 to the dot-com collapse to the rise of reality TV shows. Amid all the melancholia, it does pass along a sure-fire millennial generation dating tip that all you guys will want to put to use on eHarmony. Read my full reviews in Thursday's Miami Herald.
If the Earth is swallowed by a rip in the space-time continuom Wednesday night, you'll know who's to blame: Those guys up above. Bill O'Reilly interviewed Jon Stewart for his Fox News show Wednesday afternoon, and extensive excerpts will air around 8:30 p.m. The interview ran longer than expected -- gushing machete wounds will have that effect -- and Fox New promises to put the whole unexpurgated thing up on its website afterward.
Sometimes we love our television sets. Other times we want to throw them out the window. And there are even times we cheat on them with the saucy young videos on the Internet. In short, our televisions are like spouses. Only better, because spouses, no matter how much you might pray for them, do not come with mute buttons. (Microsoft's Wife 3.1 completely flopped in beta testing.)
The point of this little sociological discourse is that if you want to take the metaphor to the next level and marry your television set, which is legal as long as you're both heterosexual, Wednesday is the night to do it.
We've got something old (two lawyer shows), something new (a sitcom based on a Twitter feed), something borrowed (a ripped-off spy show and a fiercely derivative sitcom) and even something blue: The title of $#*! My Dad Says, in which the nonsense characters represent one of the seven words that we once quaintly thought you couldn't say on TV.
Read my full reviews of Undercovers, Better With You, $#*! My Dad Says, The Defenders and The Whole Truth in Wednesday's Miami Herald. MEDIA CRITICISM BONUS: The review has the long-awaited answer to the oft-asked question, who does CBS hate more, Andy Rooney or Wolf Blitzer?
It's not exacly about television, but...
Time for today's civics quiz. Who can tell me what the U.S. Constitution's 10th Amendment says? That's right: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people, but especially to any group of bloodthirsty Muslim lunatics that threatens to kill somebody if they don't get their way.''
That, at least, is what Stephen Breyer appeared to be saying last week when he compared burning the Quran to shouting fire in a crowded theater and seemed to invite a legal test of whether it's covered by the First Amendment.
Americans have been staging symbolic protests by burning and breaking things -- flags, draft cards, bras, comic books, Harry Potter books, Dixie Chicks records -- practically since the beginning of the republic, and mostly the Supreme Court has been on their side.
But, during an appearance on Good Morning America, Breyer suggested that might all be about to change. In response to a question about that nutjob Florida minister's plan to burn Qurans, he said the invention of the Internet means we can't just go around saying any damn thing we please.
``You can't shout `fire' in a crowded theater,'' Breyer said. "[Oliver Wendell] Holmes said [the First Amendment] doesn't mean you can shout `fire' in a crowded theater. Well, what is it? Why? Because people will be trampled to death. And what is the crowded theater today? What is the being trampled to death? It will be answered over time in a series of cases which force people to think carefully.''
In his courageous defense of the little-understood constitutional right of Muslim fundamentalists on the other side of the world to not be offended by a hick preacher in Gainesville, Breyer not only misquoted Justice Holmes' opinion in a 1919 case (Holmes wrote that there is no right to falsely shout fire in a crowded theater) but ignored 70 years of subsequent Supreme Court decisions backing away from it. Read my full op-ed on the First Amendment and American liberalism's apologetics to Muslim fundamentalists in Tuesday's Miami Herald.