Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A bad case of "the stabbys"

Wow, that's some infection.
Family members say Johnson died of a blood infection, but closed (sic) friends say they were told he was stabbed to death.
Note: I added the "sic" there, though I suppose if Johnson's family members are closed-minded individuals ("We don't like foreigners in these here parts!") then I guess it's accurate.

It's called "checkbook synergy"

What a coincidence: a main story about Ryan Reynolds on the LA Times Web site, right next to a gigantic ad for Ryan Reynolds' new movie.

That's not shady at all, guys!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Patton Ouch-walt*

I'm feeling pretty bad for Patton Oswalt right now. I'm a big fan (no pun intended): I've listened to some of his comedy routines dozens of times and they still make me laugh; his Spence Olchin on The King of Queens remains one of TV's greatest lovable losers; Ratatouille is one of my favorite Pixar films.

But this guy just cannot catch a break lately. First came the news that Megan Mullally tried to get him booted from his Broadway debut in Lips Together, Teeth Apart. Now comes word that he's been replaced in the sitcom he was to star in alongside Matthew Broderick, called Beach Lane.

I don't know a thing about Beach Lane, but I do know that a new sitcom starring Patton Oswalt gets added to my "must watch" list, and one without him pretty much fades into obscurity along with all of the others that aren't Modern Family, 30 Rock, and Always Sunny.

So, hurray for my life that I have 30 more minutes available to me. But a great big un-hooray for a television lineup that fails to fulfill the recommended daily allowance of Patton Oswalt.

* Yes, I know: the title's too clever by half. I was desperate, okay?

Friday, April 16, 2010

King Conan

Okay, let me see if I have this straight:

NBC floats the idea to bump Conan O'Brien back half-an-hour for Jay Leno, and this means Jay Leno is Satan and NBC execs his drooling demonic underlings. Conan O'Brien bumps George Lopez back an hour and he's still THE GREATEST GUY IN THE WORLD EVER.

Yeah, he's THE GREATEST GUY IN THE WORLD EVER to bump two other late-night hosts from their perches. Let's all hurry up and root for this swell guy, shall we?

Michael v. Tobias

Still not sure an Arrested Development movie is a good idea; there's a lot to be said for leaving well enough alone. But I suppose it's good news that Jason Bateman thinks David Cross jumped the gun by saying the flick wouldn't happen.

BTW: That show's the best thing about the Netflix streaming service. I have all three seasons in my queue and can just jump in there whenever and catch an episode or two. Or three. It soothes the never-nude in me.

Friday, March 12, 2010

My first Chris Parnell post

Man, I cannot escape late night, can I? Let's knock these down right quick:
  • I'd love to see Conan's touring show, but it's not coming to my town.
  • Jay and Dave are close now, but Jay will pull ahead -- and stay ahead -- within four months.
  • I still like Jimmy Fallon.
Lazy Sunday, live. Chris Parnell FTW.

Parnell is criminally underutilized in Hollywood. Dr. Spaceman is great and all, but this man deserves a weekly sitcom. Do something about that, won't you?

Monday, March 1, 2010

All a-twitter

It happened a few days ago, but I just saw this particular headline:

Conan joins Twitter, beats Leno in hours

Ha! Take that, Jay! You may have won back your Tonight Show perch -- a feat more rare than winning back the heavyweight championship of the world -- but Conan has more Twitter followers!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

ESPN's dirty laundry problem

I don't know if I agree or disagree with Tony Kornheiser's criticism of Hannah Storm's outfit. I know nothing about fashion and would wander the streets in a t-shirt and jeans all day if I could.

That said, it's funny how the powers that be at ESPN aren't okay with Kornheiser's criticism, but are perfectly fine with exploiting high school athletes for television ratings.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Self-regurgitation, more likely

No, it isn't related to pop culture, but the public dissemination of 911 calls is a ... well, calling it a pet peeve of mine makes it seem too light and fluffy. Let's just say I abhor the practice of releasing the things. Outside of extraordinary circumstances, that should never happen. has an article up about the issue, and I literally laughed out loud when I read the following:

"[David] Cuillier, a professor at Arizona State University's School of Journalism, said the answer is better self-regulation by the media."

You're unlikely to find a bigger fan of journalism than me (among other things, I did make the effort to actually get a degree in the field), but the idea of today's media self-regulating is simply -- and distressingly -- laughable.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Pitfalls of the echo chamber

In the past week, musician John Mayer and former South Carolina First Lady Jenny Sanford experienced what life is like outside their respective echo chambers, and neither could have been thrilled with the results.

Mayer's story is well known at this point: during a Playboy interview, he dropped the "n" word, called his, urm, manhood racist, shared personal details of previous relationships with starlets and, all in all, revealed himself to be a cad of the first order. He spent a couple days apologizing for his comments and even cried onstage to demonstrate how genuinely remorseful he was.

I'm not sure it's working: a Google search for "John Mayer is a douchebag" returned 115,000 hits. That's a lot of douchebaggery.

The thing is, Sanford's faux pas was arguably worse. A pampered musician saying something stupid is no more rare than rain in Seattle; Sanford owes a great deal of her current celebrity to people feeling sorry for her, and her comments could help derail that.

Sanford appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and at one point lamented no longer having convicts helping her out around the house. That sounds like a joke, right? But she was serious: apparently, South Carolina governors have local convicts come over to work in the gardens, and these convicts liked the family dogs so much they'd help take care of them, too. Jenny misses their help, it seems.

Watch the video here.

It was a strange sight: this rich, white, politically powerful woman regretting she no longer had forced labor to do her bidding. And how much of that work do you think was done by black males, who I'm guessing comprise a fair portion of South Carolina's imprisoned?

You see where I'm going with this? Rich whites + the American South + forced black labor = a subject no single intelligent person in the world would want to touch in a million years unless they're talking specifically about the horrors of America's slavery past. Trying to peddle a pity party tome about your cheap, unfaithful husband? Try not to highlight what an ignorant spoiled brat you are.

Stewart, for his part, understood the hole Sanford was digging for herself and teasingly mocked the situation, but Sanford lacked the good graces to follow his lead and dig herself out by acknowledging that her comments maybe seemed a little off-putting, or be recasting the scenario as something less distasteful than my equation, above.

Both situations highlight the problem of echo chambers, those situations in which people can have their own opinions (AKA their own B.S.) bounced back to them so frequently and at such a high volume that they begin to believe that there is no reality other than their own. Sad to say, it's not just the sycophants and yes men giving voice to these echoes, but the national media, as well. Tiger Woods scandal, anyone?

But -- and I almost can't believe I'm saying this -- I'll at least give Mayer some credit: he came to recognize his offense, albeit in a rather slobbering fashion. Ms. Sanford, on the other hand, is probably just sitting in her rocking chair waiting for her "boys" to arrive and fix her landscapin' right up.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Would you like some white with your white?

I can't help but think all of the negative attention lavished on Vanity Fair's all-white cover is deserved. I mean, nine slots to fill and not a single person of color? Not one? There are no up-and-coming African American actresses? Hispanic? Asian?

God forbid we rile the Hamptons set with an actual sampling of artists working in 21st Century America ....

Monday, February 8, 2010

Dear John: Don't let it go to your head

Much is being made this morning of the romance film Dear John unseating Avatar as the #1 film at the box office. I'm not sure this is newsworthy stuff, though. Did anyone really expect Avatar to remain #1 for another eight weeks? Eventually, some movie was bound to come in at #1; the fact that it was this one hardly portends a world where the future of cinema rests with Channing Tatum and an army of pre-teen girls.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Anne Hathaway > Megan Fox

So, Megan Fox starred in a Super Bowl commercial imagining what utter chaos would result from her distributing a revealing photo of herself on the Internet.

Would now be a good time to note that I find nothing -- seriously, nothing -- attractive about this woman? There are more beautiful women working at my local library.

Would it similarly be a good time to note that Anne Hathaway is far and away more attractive? But don't take my word for it; here's the evidence:

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Top 5 Gina McKee Movies

I've been a fan of Gina McKee's since I saw her in Wonderland. Terrific actress, with an unquestionable presence that helps her command attention whenever she's onscreen.

She's not in anywhere near enough movies, but seems to work regularly. I watched In the Loop a few days ago and was happy to see she was in it. Nowhere near enough, but some Gina is better than no Gina.

The top five Gina McKee movies:
  1. Wonderland (other reasons to watch: typically fantastic Michael Winterbottom directing and the always reliable Shirley Henderson)
  2. Notting Hill (other reasons to watch it: a fantastic cast and darn good soundtrack)
  3. Croupier (other reasons to watch: it's a clever crime story and it stars Clive Owen)
  4. In the Loop (other reasons to watch it: Peter Capaldi's ludicrously foul-mouthed lead role and the reappearance of Anna Chlumsky)
  5. MirrorMask (other reasons to watch it: Neil Gaiman story, compelling effects)

Monday, February 1, 2010


Man, the Jonas Brothers are looking rough.

Super girl

This is a photo of Kate Micucci (apparently she's an actress) I found online. I'm not even sure how I came across this, but I like it. If superheroes were real, I suspect more than a few of them would look like this: Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman as re-imagined by David Sedaris.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My David Letterman problem

David Letterman used to be my Johnny Carson.

As a child, Carson's Tonight Show was a marvel not because the man was such a wit, but because -- of this I was certain -- he was the reason grown-ups stayed up late. On those rare occasions I was awake to hear the raucous horns of "Johnny's Theme" and listen to Ed McMahon's guest and host introductions, I felt a sense of accomplishment typically reserved for only the most weathered adventurers: I had burst forth through the sacred barrier that separated kids who had to be in bed by 9 pm and adults who could stay up as late as they wanted.

Letterman's Late Night became that type of show for my generation. Even though the program's 12:30 am start time made it difficult to watch on a regular basis, the fact that we "got" Letterman granted us passage to our own sense of adulthood and cultural relevance. Johnny was their guy; Dave was ours. I entered high school about the same time Letterman's show was gaining steam, bringing with it a different comedic sensibility that spoke directly to me and nearly everyone I knew.

Carson had the raucous horns, but Letterman had the raucous shows: Kaufman/Lawler, Crispin Glover, Cher, Harvey Pekar: anything could happen on any given night.

Letterman's done plenty to charm his way into America's collective consciousness: those NBC baddies took The Tonight Show away from him; dude had major heart surgery; his beloved city was attacked by terrorists; his mom would visit; he devoted a show to Warren Zevon as the musician was dealing with his terminal illness; he visited the guy who replaced him on Late Night, a fellow named Conan O'Brien, and then poked fun at his own appearance when his pants rode too high up his leg during the interview.

That's a lot for any entertainer, and there's even more where that came from.

But I've found recently that I've developed something of a David Letterman problem.

Dave's kind of creepy. Not "harmless creepy;" just plain creepy.
A big part of it is the sex scandal. He's done his best to laugh it off, casting it as "creepy" with a wink and a nudge, but I can't help but think it's simply "creepy," wink and nudge need not apply. Over the years, Letterman served as something of a public spokesman for many, many people in this country, using his stage to condemn straying politicians and moronic celebrities when their actions required condemnation. I can't say David Letterman spoke for you, but he sure spoke for me on a number of occasions.

So to find out that this fellow spent a fair amount of his time abusing his position of authority to make time with young female staffers ... well, that requires some sort of condemnation, doesn't it? Some sort of karmic make good? This guy abused his own celebrity to bed a bunch of women while supposedly dating just one woman, the one who, incidentally, gave birth to his only son. And did I read it right that he brought one of these women on vacation with him ... and his eventual wife? Don't tell me these women threw themselves at him. Come on, Dave's cool, but he's grandfather old. If he's not their rich and famous boss, he doesn't enjoy anything approximating this kind of attention.

But who delivers the public's condemnation this time? Not Dave. Honestly, his attempts to joke around the situation just seem ... well, off-putting. I can't think of any fancier way to put it. (And, being a writer, I always go for fancy.) No one else has really touched the subject. He got a lot of credit for addressing the topic right away on his show -- announcing it there, even -- but he didn't really have a choice but to address it: the guy's on TV every night. He can't simply run away and hide like Tiger Woods.

This matters if you've ever been in an office situation where the boss is making time with an underling of the opposite sex. I have: it's a caustic situation. Nell Scovell did a great job covering this for Vanity Fair; click here to read it.

Dave's bitter.
Let's adopt, for a moment, the commonly held belief that NBC screwed over Letterman by naming Jay Leno Carson's Tonight Show replacement. I had no doubt then or now that the move worked out to Letterman's benefit. Despite putting on a good show when he visited Los Angeles for a week of programming, Letterman's a New York guy. Period. You try to move him to Southern California on a permanent basis -- like, say, for The Tonight Show -- and it fails. Maybe not as badly as Conan O'Brien's stint failed, but it fails nonetheless. You did see how well his Oscar hosting gig was received, right? Letterman needs New York like peanut butter needs jelly.

Seriously, I cannot eat peanut butter without jelly. Unless it's wrapped in chocolate. But I digress ...

NBC gave Jay Leno The Tonight Show for a number of reasons, including:
  • He asked them to.
  • He was pulling equal or better ratings than Carson, depending on how you look at the figures.
  • Carson's show was getting long in the tooth.
Here's something a lot of people forget: before he announced his retirement, Carson's Tonight Show was not exactly a ratings or cultural powerhouse. Compared to Arsenio Hall, he seemed tired. Worse yet, he seemed to grow more irrelevant. But once he announced his retirement, those last months of his show generated an urgency you don't typically find in television.

And for Dave not to lobby beforehand for that job ... well, how about a little "call to action" next time, eh?

The fact that Leno was already serving as The Tonight Show's permanent guest host made him a front runner for the full-time gig. Anyone who didn't get that at the time simply wasn't paying attention. If you want a promotion at work, for a job currently held by someone else, don't you think you'd let that little tidbit slide out at your next meeting with the boss? I would.

But what we saw recently -- Letterman's glee at all the Leno bashing, joining in for an assortment of potshots himself, such as "Big Jaw" (... and he has writers for this?) -- was that Letterman is still bearing a grudge.

Let's take stock:
  • Makes $30+ million per year
  • World famous
  • Has/Had a harem of women at work
  • Still really, really bitter about something that happened over 15 years ago that worked out in his best interests anyway
What's wrong with this picture? If you said "eternal grudge of almost biblical proportions," you win. But that doesn't make Letterman an epic bad-ass. It makes him a great big whiner.

Dave's tired.
I tuned in, pre- and post-Conan O'Brien imbroglio, and saw something I never really noticed before: Dave looked tired.

Not faux-tired, acting as if he's plumb tuckered out by all the crazy people in the world. Physically weary.

When I thought about it, I realized, why wouldn't he be tired? Excepting the short break between NBC and CBS, the guy's been doing the same show for over 25 years. Twenty-five years! I get tired simply typing that.

Compared to Craig Ferguson, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon (yes, I like his show; bite me), Letterman lately seems out of step. Maybe in his head he's getting ready to wrap it up, and his body can't help but betray some of that? I suspect he will wrap things up relatively soon, within a couple years certainly. To his credit, the man's been a show business workhorse for far more time than most entertainers, putting out much more energy than any one- or two-picture-a-year movie star could. Even the best and brightest on Broadway would have a problem matching this guy's output.

But I don't want to tune in for tired. I don't want to tune in for the same bits, cleverly rearranged, that I saw 10 years ago. I'm a grown-up now and I need a good reason to abuse my right to stay up as late as I want.

I cannot underscore enough the place this man held in my cultural heart over the past couple decades. But here's my problem: as time goes by, I find that my David Letterman has been replaced by some other David Letterman, one who perhaps spent too much time in an echo chamber filled with sycophants telling him he's a genius and the suits really screwed him over when they gave Leno The Tonight Show.

I have lots of late night talk show options nowadays, and find I'm exercising them more and more. But there's only so much time in the day, so something has to give. In this case, it's Letterman. And that's okay: somewhere along the way, the David Letterman I grew up with was replaced by some other guy I find nowhere near as appealing. That's too bad. Still, for a very, very long time, I had the right David Letterman at the right time, and that was enough.

Monday, January 25, 2010

About that Spider-Man reboot ...

Let me see if I have this straight:

In the Spider-Man franchise, Sony had a well-respected, successful director in Sam Raimi, a game leading man in Tobey Maguire and enough residual respect for Spider-Man 2 to overcome less than stellar notices for Spider-Man 3. But instead of reuniting everyone for Spider-Man 4 (and possibly 5, as it had been rumored that the two would be shot back-to-back), you blow it all up on a reboot because Raimi can't get the shoot done by your timeline.

That's insane.

I'm not much of a conspiracy theorist, but I have to imagine there was something else going on here. I mean, successfully launching a film franchise is difficult -- really, really difficult -- and you don't easily walk away from one. If you spend anything less than $200 million on Spider-Man 4, you make your money back and then some.

This seems a little late, since this news posted a week or two ago, but I just saw something about a fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie and it got me thinking about a fourth Spider-Man movie. Pirates will make big money and, more than likely, entertain many of the people entertained by the first three. That's what we like to call a "win-win" in my neck of the woods.

So, my baseless speculation?
  • Producers were more than dissatisfied with the script. To cancel production, it must have been completely unusable. I know, I know: how can you NOT find a usable script featuring a character with 40 years of stories under his belt?
  • The proposed budget -- how cool would it have been to see Spider-Man and the Vulture battling over New York City? -- was WAY over $200 million.
  • Raimi and Maguire wanted a ridiculous amount of money, plus percentage.
  • Maguire wants to hang up his tights, having already made tens of millions of dollars off the franchise.
  • They wanted James Franco to return, but he's busy shooting soap operas.
Or ... heck, I don't know: any problem I come up with seems absolutely fixable. But whatever it was that spurred this decision did something the Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Sandman and Venom couldn't: it defeated Spider-Man.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Moore, the merrier*

Okay, Monk is done and The Office has gone off the rails a little, so 30 Rock is my new favorite show. Just one more reason to love it: Julianne Moore. I hold out hope that, one day soon, she'll get a premium cable program like Toni Collette or (coming soon) Laura Linney. Of course, when you're still getting motion picture work -- and Moore could be a best supporting actress nominee for 2009's A Single Man -- you might not care too much for the episodic TV grind.

* I know -- terrible heading, isn't it? I was desperate.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday, January 15, 2010

Conan's done

Okay, it looks like Conan's gone. Back in this post, I suggested NBC simply part ways with the new host, put Leno back on The Tonight Show, and keep Jimmy Fallon. To be fair, I also said I didn't think that would happen: Conan's options are limited enough -- and The Tonight Show valuable enough -- that I thought he'd stick around. But I started to waver on that prediction when it became clear that, through all of this, there was no way NBC would re-up him after his contract was up ... and his contract is up in the relatively near future.


It looks like, after mucking up late night worse than they did when they gave Leno Tonight over Letterman, NBC gets a do-over here. And we get to see how Conan does at Fox.


Listen, odds are Conan lands at Fox because it could work out for them, but it will feel an awful lot like two people coming together because they couldn't make any other relationship work. Yeah, that'll energize audiences!

Other folks have suggested HBO, but HBO isn't going to give him anywhere near the money one of the Big Four could. And syndication won't work for him after this debacle, it just won't.

A few points:
  • Forget Conan: I'm more worried about where Andy Richter ends up.
  • Nikki Finke doesn't like criticism, even when it's gentle and comes from a long-time reader. I wrote a post on her site suggesting she not rely entirely on Team Conan for all of her source material, and the post, mysteriously, is no longer there. Finke's site is also a great place to go to check out the budding Conan backlash. Only a matter of time, right?
  • Okay, maybe Jimmy Kimmel doesn't need Matt Damon. Maybe he just needs to dress up as Jay Leno more often. Whatever works, right?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Late Night Leaderboard, early Thursday morning edition

Wavering a little on my "Conan stays" prediction. Here's why: him leaving NBC makes too many people happy:
  • It makes NBC happy: NBC undoes the mistake they made in promising Conan The Tonight Show back in 2004, when it was still the #1 late night program. They made a mess of the whole thing, and Conan leaving is the closest they get to a Ctrl + Z.
  • It makes Conan happy: Conan doesn't have to stomach the demotion -- which, let's face it, is exactly what this is. Of course, we should all be so fortunate to face such dilemmas. Here's one reason I'm leaning in this direction now: Conan's contract is for two years (can't remember where I read this, but it was very recent and from a trusted news source), and he's already seven months into that. NBC will not renew that contract. His only hope for more time on the network -- and it would still be at 12:05 am -- is to use the current negotiations to extend that contract, which I no longer strongly believe is the case.
  • It makes Fox happy: Fox has a shot at getting into the Late Night wars. And they can do it without breaking the bank: it's not like Conan can brag about his superior ratings or anything. Fox should get him for less than what it cost NBC to let him go.
  • It makes Jay Leno happy. He gets his show back. In complete fairness to the guy, they never should have taken it anyway in the first place.
  • It makes the NBC affiliates happy.
That's a rare win-win-win-win-win, and it's tough to argue against that. We'll see. Some bloggers are almost apologetic about covering this story. I find it fascinating.

Also fascinating: the Late Night Leaderboard.
  1. Craig Ferguson: Gets Letterman's spot in five years, if not less, and deserves it.
  2. Jimmy Fallon: Wow ... no one likes this guy; what gives? Plenty of fun.
  3. Conan O'Brien: Losing suits him. I'm not kidding -- in the last few days, he seems more like a human and less like a human version of Disney's Goofy.
  4. David Letterman: The top was always close, but Letterman's the guy that takes the biggest plunge; I'll get around to writing about this at some point. Let me just say right now that Dave looks tired, genuinely tired, from the grind.
  5. Jay Leno: Still seems like he'd be a good guy to know, but has arguably the weakest interviewing skills of the bunch.
  6. Jimmy Kimmel: Needs more Matt Damon.
  7. Soon-to-be canceled John Daly: Without Tiger Woods, golf needs him now more than ever.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Spider-Man 4 a no-go

The Best Picture nominees for the 2004 Academy Awards were eventual winner Million Dollar Baby, The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Ray and Sideways. Despite the fact that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Layer Cake were also released that year, I could make a good case for Spider-Man 2 joining that list. My regard for the film is that high.

As with most, I was disappointed by Spider-Man 3 -- they just tried too hard -- but was hoping for a righting of the ship with the fourth film, slated to begin filming shortly.

Alas, it looks like a fourth film isn't meant to be. It's going to be rebooted, instead. 

Oh, boy. I can't wait.

King Conan

So, Conan O'Brien opposes NBC's decision to move The Tonight Show back to 12:05 am because doing so would push Jimmy Fallon's Late Show to 1:05 am. I've read a couple posters on other blogs state that this is so brave and principled on Conan's part. Especially in the face of Jay Leno's unabashed conniving to win back the 11:35 pm slot.

It's that last part that gets me. Listen, I'm no Leno apologist (he's hovering pretty low on the Late Night Leaderboard), but you can't tell me Conan didn't throw him under the bus back in 2004 to win his guaranteed 2009 ascendancy to The Tonight Show. No one, but no one, really bought the line that Leno was happy with that plan: the guy's a notorious workaholic who commanded the number one show in that time slot. If the audience wasn't tired of him, and he wasn't tired of the show, why leave?

Well, he left because NBC asked him to. He moved to 10 pm because NBC asked him to, and he's moving to 11:35 pm because NBC asked him to. But no one talks about loyalty or making the best of a bad situation. They call him a corporate stooge and blame all of NBC's problems -- and there are enough of those to go around, granted -- on him.

Give it a rest. The guy's got a good gig and he wants to keep it. Tell me you wouldn't do the same and I'd call bullshit on you so fast your head would spin.

I predicted just the other day that Conan stays and I'm sticking with that prediction.
  • I'm not convinced Fox wants him at this point -- they've already seen that he has a hard time attracting either a large audience or a prized demographic. Remember: Conan's Late Night lost a few times to Craig Ferguson at his old 12:30 am slot; this guy is anything but a Nielsen sure thing. 
  • He can still bank the money remaining on his contract, which is more than he'll get from any new deal. His negotiation position is harmed by the fact that, other than Fox, he can't really approach anyone else. ABC has already said no thanks (although I am certain they'd still take Leno in a second) and Comedy Central has Stewart and Colbert. Syndication would simply be embarrassing: instead of following Johnny Carson, he'd be following Arsenio Hall.
  • I'm not sure Conan's done after his current contract expires. Originally, I thought NBC would dump him post haste, but what if he simply asks for a contract extension to assuage his bruised ego? He has a great franchise, a great contract and a great opportunity to prove everyone wrong by earning a larger audience. All at the only network that has publicly stated they want to have him.
We'll see. This story literally gets better by the day. And I didn't think anything would top Leno vs. Letterman.

Two final thoughts:
  • Love how Nicki describes Conan as an "uncomfortable twitching wreck." And, believe it or not, she's on his side.
  • Am I seriously the only one who likes Jimmy Fallon? That boy is taking a real whupping on the boards. Still, I like him and hope he survives this.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

NBC's late night call

... aaaand it's (sorta) official. Check out Finke for more.

Like I said, I don't expect anyone to leave the network. "A bird in the hand" and all that.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A private matter

The 911 call concerning the recently deceased actress Brittany Murphy is now available online. No, I won't be linking to it. In fact, I have a difficult time figuring out who benefits from the release of these recordings. Is there some urgent need for the general public to hear them? Imagine if such a call concerned you, or your sister, mother, brother or father. How anxious would you be for everyone in the world to hear it? Probably not too anxious. There have been lawsuits concerning inappropriate police or dispatch response to 911 calls, or calls where audio could help determine a suspect's guilt. In no other case can I imagine the necessity of releasing such calls.

Late night leaderboard

Boy, what a difference a few days make.

Earlier this week, I planned on watching The Jay Leno Show Monday - Friday and then posting my impressions about what I thought worked, didn't work, and should change. I already have some ideas (the monologue works, the ad placements don't, and the man desperately needs a desk), but I wanted to experience every minute of the show to maybe pick up some things I'd missed in my previous periodic viewings.

And then the word came down: Plan Jay was in effect. I won't beat my chest too hard in having predicted this course of action -- come on, it was pretty obvious, right? -- but the timing surprises me: I thought it would take a little longer for all of this to happen. But I suppose when you have affiliates screaming bloody murder over the ratings dip, prompt action is called for.

And good for NBC for doing it sooner rather than later. I never liked the idea -- NBC effectively canceled the #1 program in its time slot against the wishes of its creative team (Seinfeld and Everybody Loves Raymond, then, are different cases) -- but they're now trying to take corrective action.

But I don't think they're going far enough.

The plan now is to take Jay's show back to 11:30 pm, trim it to 30 minutes long, and move The Tonight Show to 12:05 am. Contractually, this means NBC won't owe Conan any penalty payments, because his contract stipulates that NBC can move the show to 12:05 am (but no later) without his consent.

But it's a half measure, and I don't like half measures. To fully correct course as much as NBC must correct course, they must:
  • Part with Conan if he doesn't voluntarily leave over these shenanigans.
  • Move Jay back to The Tonight Show.
  • Keep Jimmy Fallon on The Late Show.
  • Announce that they're ready to listen to any and all hour-long drama pitches for the reawakened 10 pm slot. This announcement should be made in person to some of the biggest players, including Southland producer John Wells (how NBC must wish they kept that one in their lineup). Yes, they should do this even though they have already ordered 18 pilots for next season.
But I don't think this is going to happen. Conan isn't going to walk away from all of that money.* Instead, he'll announce his decision to stay during a monologue and say he's committed to the franchise that Johnny Carson was committed to for so many years. And he will dedicate himself to winning over the folks who don't currently seem too won over by him right now. In the end, it could work for him. It has before: his Late Show went from canceled to successful, remember.

So NBC's plan seems like it's the one we're going to be stuck with. Worse things could happen, I suppose, like giving Chevy Chase his own talk show.

A few quick thoughts:
  • Talking about The Jay Leno Show for, Mediaweek's Marc Berman said, "I've honestly never seen anything this bad in the history of television." Um, hyperbole much, Marc? Because I sure have.
  • It's amazing how accepted ageism is. Many of the posts I've read in forums or blogs online slam Leno for being old. Like, "Ah, he's old, so he sucks." Of course, if you go looking for class -- or articulation -- in such places, you're always going to be disappointed.
  • Yes, I keep Jimmy Fallon over Conan. I don't want to dump on Conan -- the guy's a legitimate talent, as his show biz ascendancy illustrates -- but I just think Jimmy's got more upside right now.
  • Andy Barker, PI -- one of my favorite programs of the last few years -- was created by Conan. Can NBC maybe give him a production deal to salve his wounds? I'd love to see Andy Richter more.
Now for the leaderboard:
  1. Letterman
  2. Ferguson
  3. Fallon
  4. O'Brien (who has, ironically enough, been rising in my own estimations)
  5. Leno
  6. Kimmel
  7. Golf pro John Daly (way to lose all that weight!)
Again, those top spots can change quickly depending on guests, etc. It's a credit to the hosts, really, all of whom do a good job.

* And where would he go? FOX? I don't know if you walk away from a guaranteed $45 million and The Tonight Show for a gamble on another network that couldn't even guarantee every market without a fight. I know I wouldn't.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Have you guys met Wilt?

It appears Tiger Woods still has a ways to go.

Domino's Pizza to customers: We suck

Domino's Pizza's new ad campaign is a puzzler. If you haven't seen it yet, it goes like this:
  1. We know our pizza sucks.
  2. Here are a few shots of people saying our pizza sucks.
  3. We're making new pizza, which hopefully doesn't suck. Stop by and bring your wallet!
This is supposed to come off as repentant: listen, we screwed up, but we're here to make it up to you. It's the boyfriend acknowledging he hasn't been the most faithful guy in the world, but he's gonna change! Oh, yes, he will!

Here's what the campaign actually says: Domino's Pizza has knowingly been serving lousy pizza to its customers for years.* But now that we live in a world where a Google search for "Domino's Pizza sucks" returns more than 30,000 hits** -- in other words, a world with accountability -- Domino's wants to make good.

Smile! You're on really Candid Camera!

I wonder how long it'll take before some enterprising individual makes illicit snaps of full-body scans the latest "adult" meme (if you catch my drift). My guess? We're about 18 months away, but if I were you I'd take the "under" on that.

No pun intended.