Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Oceanic Six

Man, that was a rich pile of clues.

The Oceanic Six.

Everyone on this mountaintop is going to die.

Are they still alive?

And Jacob? Freakin' spooky, man. Giving me shivers.

Charlie. Whatever that means.

And Jack, shooting Locke? Genius. Loved that bit.

I'm sorry. I'm sorry I went with Locke. I should have stayed with you.

I don't think we did the right thing, dude. I think he wants us back.

We're never going back.

Never say never, dude.

EDIT: Alan Sepinwall says Hurley says, "I don't think we did the right thing, Jack. I think it wants us to come back, and it's going to do everything it can..."

Well, double hmmmm...

UPDATE: The photo of Jacob/Jack's dad comes from the Lost Easter Egg blog, which also offered up this intriguing thought:

"The Smoke Monster - The smoke monster made a big appearance this episode, and I’m going to tell you where to look for it. Ready? Good: It floats out the door of the mental ward. Think you missed it? No way… because the smoke monster this episode was Matthew Abbadon.That whole scene was a total creepfest. From start to finish, you knew the guy was totally OFF. Think back to the episode where Mr. Eko died - think back to his last visions of Yemi. Remember that moment? The moment where Eko realized he wasn’t really looking at his brother? Abbadon had that same look. That same startling, bug-eyed, blood-chilling ‘Yemi-stare’. “Are they still alive?” – he says it with the same toneless inflection as Yemi asking Eko to beg forgiveness. His look is just nuts.If you don’t believe me, watch as he leaves through the door. You never see him exit, you only see a shadow. A shadow that dissipates from left to right, disappearing through the doorway in much the same way the smoke monster moves."


SECOND UPDATE: The premiere pulled good ratings, but nothing extraordinary.


Strike finally taking a toll?

Variety says so. Word out of Hollywood is that the talks are going well, so this will hopefully spur the producers to reach a compromise. Except maybe NBC - only down 7 percent, the peacock is probably looking at the impasse as a net positive.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Something grows in Agrestic

Life imitating art in LA.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Dave Rose leaving KRDO

KRDO/Channel 13 news director Dave Rose is stepping down after 14 years with the station. He'll leave KRDO after the February sweeps period.

"It was a hard decision, really hard," Rose said. "(But) when I picture myself not getting up at 4 o'clock in the morning when it’s snowing, some of that is sort of appealing."

Rose started in broadcasting in 1968 at KRDO radio when he was still in high school. He worked his way up to become a radio and television reporter, anchoring the Saturday night news. In 1977, he moved to Washington, D.C., as a television reporter, but returned to the Springs in 1979, now with KOAA. From 1982 to 1987, he was KOAA's news director, then left to become the news director for the Business Radio Network. He returned to KRDO as assistant news director in 1994, then was promoted to news director in 1996.

Rose said he's not retiring, just looking for a job that requires a little less than 24 hours a day.

"I think my wife’s listened to the phone ring in the middle of the night long enough," he said.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Another side deal: Mad Men and Weeds

I feel like the floodgates may finally be opening on the strike. Lionsgate just signed a deal that will put "Mad Men" and "Weeds" back into production. Yeah, just a couple of cablers, but there's been a lot of good news momentum in the last week.

Awesome question of the day

Just had a call from a woman who wanted to know why there was a chink in the top feather on the NBC peacock. At first I couldn't figure out what she meant, but as soon as I called up the image, all became clear.
I'm not casting aspersions here - sometimes you see the forest, sometimes only the trees.

Also geekily interesting is that NBC changed the peacock in 1986 so that it was looking right instead of left, giving it a more forward-looking appearance. I suppose these days, the peacock ought to be hiding its head in the sand.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Comcast rates to rise 4 percent

It's that time of year again: Cable bills are going up. The average increase will be 4 percent, no change for phone or Internet rates.

I'm trying to get some specifics for different packages.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Striking out

In tomorrow's TV Talk, I argue that the writers' strike should be over and done with by Oscar time.

I wrote the column yesterday, but a couple news items from today only buttress my argument.

1 - Writers drop some of their demands to unionize reality show writers (maybe the cognitive dissonance was too much for them.

2 - And the writers said they won't picket the Grammys, although they're still not officially giving the ceremony a waiver.

Good news all around, at least if the studios cough up a little more on their end, too.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

"Brotherhood" back in arms

Showtime renews the low-rated drama. That show doesn't do much for me. The characters are interesting in theory, but not so much in practice.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Directors deal, writers on deadline

Things should be getting innnnnteresting in the next week or so...

AP Entertainment Writer
LOS ANGELES — Hollywood directors have reached a tentative contract deal with studios after five days of negotiations, the directors union said Thursday.

The agreement puts pressure on striking writers to end their walkout that has lasted more than two months and idled work on dozens of TV shows.

“Two words describe this agreement — groundbreaking and substantial,” said Gil Cates, chairman of the Directors Guild of America’s negotiating committee. “There are no rollbacks of any kind.”

Among other things, the agreement increases both wages and residuals for each year of the contract. It also establishes guild jurisdiction over programs produced for distribution on the Internet and sets a new residuals formula for paid Internet downloads that essentially doubles the rate currently paid by employers, the guild said.

It also establishes residual rates for ad-supported streaming and use of clips on the Internet.

Payment for programs offered on the Internet are a key sticking point between the studios and striking writers.

ADD: I should mention that doubling the money for Internet downloads is something of a red herring, since writers currently get next to nothing for downloads. The devil's in the details, though. The New York Times story on the deal includes this explanation: "Key provisions of the contract assure that its formulas governing new media will not become a precedent in the next negotiation, when the economic prospects from new delivery forms are expected to be much clearer. The deal, in effect, postpones a fight that writers are waging now."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Yeah, it's hard going through a Thursday night without "The Office."

But thank goodness we still have YouTube:

Idle Idol audience

The "American Idol" premiere last night drew 33.2 million viewers. Sounds like a lot, but it's down 4 million from last year.

I'm not sure how to slice that - the numbers going forward will tell the tale. As "Idol" producer Nigel Lythgoe said, "Idol" could lose a huge chunk of its audience and still be the most popular show on TV.

But do you think the execs at Fox will start sweating if "Idol" is getting only "CSI" type numbers? Yes indeedy they will.

Personally, I think "Idol" may be entering its mature, "Survivor" type phase: Still a popular show and a hit, but no longer a cultural phenomenon.

If that's the case, it's going to put increasing pressure on Fox to get "House" and "24" back on the air.

A little more Laurie White

If you missed it in today's paper (or, like me, you just missed today's paper), I had a short story with a few more details:

News-talk station KVOR (740 AM) parted ways with its longtime morning host Laurie White last week.White anchored the morning news with Jim Arthur for the past 11 years.
“Over my 11 years at KVOR, I have worked with some amazing people and had the pleasure of getting to know so many of our incredible listeners,” White said. “I’m taking this opportunity to start my own businesses.” White said she was pursuing a pair of new ventures — one promoting events at the City Auditorium and the other providing breakfasts and lunches for corporate functions. Officials at Citadel Broadcasting, which owns KVOR, wouldn’t comment on the change.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Idol seven gets 86'd

Hmmm. This is sort of a trainwreck. I mean, I know it' supposed to be a trainwreck, but not in this way.

The talk before the season was that "Idol" had corrected last season's problems and we'd get to know the contestants. Yeah, OK, but not in this round.

Do we really need five minutes of the Grace Slick girl? Or even five minutes of the heartwarming mom with the kid with cerebral palsy? I mean, it gets to be like fingernails on a chalkboard.

Keep it moving, folks. Nothing to see here. Show the freaks, show the good stuff and keep it rolling!



If you know one thing about me, it's that I'm bald. If you know two things about me, it's that I'm bald and Brett Favre rules. If you know three things about me, it's that I'm bald, Brett Favre rules and the BBC's "Top Gear" is the greatest automotive program in the history of television.

Until now (say that in your best deadpan Jeremy Clarkson imitation).

No, actually I think an American imitation of "Top Gear" is likely to be absolutely ridiculous. Americans pander. They fawn. No American is ever going to sit behind the wheel of a $300,000 supercar and, as Clarkson does, talk about how ugly it is and how the seats should be more comfortable and how they really ought to add a spoiler. It'll never happen. "The Office" is merely the exception that proves the rule that British programs don't translate across the pond.

Anyway, here's the AP story:

NBC has put a version of the British show “Top Gear” on the road to American television. The series, a combination of fast cars, goofy modifications and cheeky hosts, is a cult hit on the U.K.’s BBC2 and airs in this country on BBC America. NBC has ordered a pilot for an American version of the show, which will be shot in Los Angeles later this year. A formal announcement of the show, and possibly its hosts, is expected at next week’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Craig Plestis, who oversees alternative programming for NBC, is a professed “Top Gear” fan.

“It all comes down to subject matter —it’s a cool show about cars,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It’svery compelling for us because we have a great platform and space on the network to have such a show.”

Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May host the BBC show, which also features a masked test driver known as the Stig. A typical episode might include a test of a high-performance new car, a segment in which the hosts tinker with a less stellar automotive specimen and a celebrity trying to turn in a fast lap time in “a reasonably priced car” ("American Idol’s” Simon Cowell currently holds the record). BBC Worldwide, which imported “Dancing with the Stars” for ABC,will produce the “Top Gear” pilot. The company considered having the BBC team host the American show as well, but that idea was scrapped in favor of homegrown hosts.

Monday, January 14, 2008

MIA: Laurie White

I go on one little ski trip and KVOR goes and shakes up their nest again. Laurie White is out as morning co-host. No word on why or who may replace her. I'll look into it...

UPDATE: Well, I've confirmed the obvious - that she's left the station, but still no details. There may be more changes at KVOR in the near future.

UPDATE: Got this message from Laurie White -

"Over my 11 years at KVOR I have worked with some amazing people and had the pleasure of getting to know so many of our incredible listeners. It was also my great honor to work with so many wonderful business, non-profit and community leaders".

"I'm taking this opportunity to start my own businesses -- Laurie White Events and Office Aunties -- and, starting with Mardi Gras and Valentine's Day, we're going to step up the level of fun a few notches here in the Springs"!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Golden Gloves

I'm not really going to blog much about this (because, I mean, just look at the damn thing), but the comment in the introduction that "It's going to be a very exciting night" just had me rolling on the floor. Oh my god, that was funny.

And who the hey are the announcers/presenters/whatever they are? I have NO idea who they are.

OK, now I have to comment a little. Jeremy Piven winning for the worst season ever of "Entourage" is just sad.

Jon Hamm winning for "Mad Men" is a big win for that little-seen, critically beloved series. Assuming that's not redundant.

And while the "home reaction" shots are, um, creepy, watching that woman flip her coffee table was pretty funny.
Ellen Page got robbed. Sorry, I will not never agree with an awards show that passes on "Juno." No way, no day.

And OMG, David-freakin-Duchovny winning for "Californication"? Admittedly, Duchovny is not the biggest problem with that truly awful show, but he's hardly the solution, either. It's just a terrible show. Don't watch it! Don't give it awards! Seems pretty simple to me. Apparently the voters need writers, too.

I really wouldn't be opposed to this format normally. I'm not a fan of awards shows. If they could cut out the banter and the acceptance speeches, I'd be all for it. It's just that, without writers or talent, there's nothing left that's more entertaining than a test pattern.

BTW, I just noticed I titled this post "Golden Gloves" instead of "globes." Freudian slip?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Terminator: The Summer Glau Chronicles

Should be, anyway, she's more interesting in it than Lena Headey is (even though Headey rocked as Queen Gorgo in "300," so stand down, fanboys).

Having said that, the floating, disembodied Summer Glau torso on Fox's "Terminator" page is really, really creepy. Plus, it crashed my browser. Damn you SkyNet, damn you all to hell!


Monday, January 07, 2008

Jon's back! Stephen's back!

"The Daily Show" - Jon Stewart is pretty clearly hewing closer to the Leno position of scripting his own lines than the Conan line of going as unscipted as possible. It was a little shambling - I think we're getting a taste of what Stewart's sense of humor would be if he did stand-up. A couple good lines - "The writers' strike is now nine times worse than Sept. 11" was the best of the bunch, or at least the most Daily Show of the bunch.

Getting a labor relations guy for the guest was a sharp move - and one only the Daily Show would pull. I didn't learn anything new from the interview, but I follow this stuff for a living. Your mileage may vary.

It's interesting to see Stewart's obvious frustration with the Guild as well as the producers.

"The Colbert Report" - I had higher expectations for Stephen than I did for Jon, because more of the show seems ad-libbed anyway.

And it is pretty funny. Stephen goes all out for his character. The punch lines aren't really there, but the character is still pretty funny ("I have always been anti-labor, I have always been anti-union.") The Word was great.

Me want

Even though, and this is literally true, there is not a single solid wall in my house big enough to fit it.

The Daily Show and Colbert Report return

Don't forget to set the dial to Comedy Central tonight. I don't know what Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are going to come up with sans writers, but with the New Hampshire primary coming up, I can't afford to miss whatever they have to offer.

In other late night news, I love this Leno-Kimmel gimmick. I don't know who's going to "win" the strike at the bargaining table, but it strikes me that Leno might be the biggest winner on the air. Working without a safety net seems to be reinvigorating Jay and he's running leaner and hungrier than he has since he was guest-hosting for Carson.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Leno's monologue

This answers my question about Jay Leno's self-written monologue violating union rules.

Key graphs:

"The Writers Guild of America had scolded the "Tonight Show" host earlier Thursday for penning and delivering punch lines in his first monologue in two months, aired on NBC the night before.

NBC quickly fired back, arguing Leno, a guild member, was right and the guild was wrong.

"The WGA agreement permits Jay Leno to write his own monologue for `The Tonight Show,'" NBC said in a statement. "The WGA is not permitted to implement rules that conflict with the terms of the collective bargaining agreement between the studios and the WGA."

Thursday, January 03, 2008

More "Wire"

David Simon, creator of "The Wire," made this thought-provoking post over at Matthew Yglesias' blog, which is usually focused on political matters. And basketball. Simon:

"Writing to affirm what people are saying about my faith in individuals to rebel against rigged systems and exert for dignity, while at the same time doubtful that the institutions of a capital-obsessed oligarchy will reform themselves short of outright economic depression (New Deal, the rise of collective bargaining) or systemic moral failure that actually threatens middle-class lives (Vietnam and the resulting, though brief commitment to rethinking our brutal foreign-policy footprints around the world). The Wire is dissent; it argues that our systems are no longer viable for the greater good of the most, that America is no longer operating as a utilitarian and democratic experiment. If you are not comfortable with that notion, you won't agree with some of the tonalities of the show. I would argue that people comfortable with the economic and political trends in the United States right now -- and thinking that the nation and its institutions are equipped to respond meaningfully to the problems depicted with some care and accuracy on The Wire (we reported each season fresh, we did not write solely from memory) -- well, perhaps they're playing with the tuning knobs when the back of the appliance is in flames.

Does that mean The Wire is without humanist affection for its characters? Or that it doesn't admire characters who act in a selfless or benign fashion? Camus rightly argues that to commit to a just cause against overwhelming odds is absurd. He further argues that not to commit is equally absurd. Only one choice, however, offers the slightest chance for dignity. And dignity matters.

All that said, I am the product of a C-average GPA and a general studies degree from a state university and thirteen years of careful reporting about one rustbelt city. Hell do I know. Maybe my head is up my ass.

If The Wire is too pessimistic about the future of the American empire -- and I've read my Toynbee and Chomsky, so I actually think a darker vision could be credibly argued -- no one will be more pleased than me as I am, well, American. Right now, though, I'm just proud to see serious people arguing about a television drama; there's some pride in that. Thanks.

D. Simon
Baltimore, Md."

You can read my column on the subject here.

The round-up

I've been reading other TV columnists and writers this morning and most seem to agree with me: Leno did suprisingly well without his writers, while Letterman did little to make a convincing case why writers are important. Jay was fresher than he's been in years, while Dave was just Dave. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Of course, that's just night one. The longer things go on, Letterman's advantage in attracting movie stars unwilling to cross the picket line on Leno may prove to be an insurmountable advantage for the "Late Show." But, as Huckabee showed last night, there will always be people willing to do what it takes to get a platform on national TV.

I'm still unclear on whether Jay was actually allowed by the union to write his own material - I've heard conflicting things. Kimmel clearly did little or no preparation, while Conan seemed somewhere in the middle.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

And the later half of late night...

Wow. Kimmel kinda went off on the writers for picketing Leno. "I'm pissed off. I'll be honest with you. I'm hoping tonight will be over with very quickly."

Conan handled things with considerably more aplomb. And his strike beard was way better than I ever could have imagined! "I know this looks fake. It looks like it ties on in the back. I grew it out of solidarity with my writers... and to prove I have some testosterone."

The "Strike Beard moment" was actually sort of inspired.

Kimmel is doing some sort of stagehand theater, plus relatives!

Conan is making theater out of drinking water and having his producer time him spinning his wedding ring on his desk. It's very Dave-esque. And funny, in a random, almost Andy Kaufman, sort of way. "That's good spin! That's good spin! Oh yeah!"

It's not that Kimmel isn't trying the same stuff, it's just that his sensibility doesn't embrace the absurd as easily as Conan's, and he's not as much of a pro as Leno.

OK, so Jay and Conan really did pretty well, Kimmel tanked. Honestly, 2 for 3 isn't much of an argument for the writers' position. Presumably, this would be pretty hard for them to keep up indefinitely, but for the moment, they're doing OK. Actually, there's no need to qualify that with "presumably" - we'll get to find out, because this thing is likely to go on indefinitely.

The return of late night...

"The Tonight Show with Jay Leno"

I'm starting out with Leno, because there's the most potential for carnage there. Leno's delivering one-liners, which, hey, aren't any worse than his usual materials. I thought Jay wouldn't be allowed to write his own material, though? Jay says he can.

I think the "American Gladiators" promo planted in the corner of the screen is a better harbinger of doom than anything coming out of Leno's mouth.

The stagehand theater smacks of Letterman '88, although it lacks the absurd nihilism of classic Dave.

His best line so far is "We have to go, by ourselves, against the CBS machine. One man against the monolith." If I were Jay, I might go off on Letterman all night.

Worst line? "It's so cold, Hillary Clinton can actually see the breath of Barack Obama, breathing down her neck." Puh-duh-chu!

Seriously, I can't tell the difference, monologue-wise. That's a teensy bit sad.

The Jib-Jab 'toon was pretty weak, but that's hardly Jay's fault.

Let me quick flip over to Dave now...

"Late Show with David Letterman"

LOVE the beard. Love it. Conan has wet dreams about growing a strike beard that fierce. Dave actually seems happy to be back. That's nice. So often in the past few years, he just seems like he's phoning it in.

Isn't it a little weird that the guy with writers and the guy without writers are both doing questions from the audience?

Bill Scheft's little monologue/harangue was... um... weak. I'd rather see the flaming underpants.

Back to Leno...

He really seems to be winging the audience questions. It's decent. It's a good deal fresher than "The Tonight Show" usually manages. A little danger seems to be good for Leno's constitution.

And over to Dave...

Just in time for the ol' Top 10 List! Yay.

Demands of the striking writers.

10. Complimentary tote bag with next insulting contract offer.
9. No rollbacks in health benefits so I can treat the hypothermia I caught on the picket line.
8. [Um, I lost my place there]
7. Members of the AMPTP must explain what the hell AMPTP stands for.
6. No legal repercussions for being caught in an inappropriate relationship with a copier.
5. I'd like a date with a woman.
4. Hazard pay for breaking up fights on "The View."
3. I'm no accountant but instead of us getting 4 cents for a $20 DVD, how about we get $20 for a 4-cent DVD?
2. I don't have a joke. I just want to remind people that we're on strike and so we're not responsible for this lame list.
1. Producers must immediately remove their heads from their asses.

Oooh, and now Robin Williams is annoying the hell out of me. Instantly. Back to Leno!

Huckabee isn't quite as funny as he was before he was a frontrunner. Bill Clinton always managed that line well - witness the sax at the inauguration (even if it was never seen again). Still, Huck is pretty good, talking about living in a triple-wide trailer and making fun of his own musical abilities.

They should have given him a bass solo. That would be sweet.

I'm not running a political blog here, so I won't comment on the policy portion of the interview. Jay's questions were pretty rote, for what it's worth.

Over to Dave...

The segment with one of his writers was pretty interesting. Not particularly in a good way - it felt like filler - but it's an interesting attempt to humanize the strike.

Well, that's about it for that crew. I've got Kimmel and Conan on the DVD and I'll catch up with them in the morning - it's past my bedtime.

Letterman swings left

With Jay Leno welcoming Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee for his first show back on the air, David Letterman decided to get in the game, too, scoring an interview with Democratic contender Hillary Clinton.

Actually, a Robin Williams-Hillary Clinton double bill makes me want to watch less, but... eh, at least the Top 10 will be back.

I still say that Dennis Kucinich's perfectly deadpan appearance on "The Colbert Report" is the single greatest presidential guest spot of the entire campaign season. Say what you will about his policies, the man clearly has a will of iron to keep a straight face through this:.

Is it possible to get a football hangover?

'cause if it is, that's what I've got today. I watched all of the Badgers' game (heartbreaking), nearly all of the Michigan game (you have to say that the way Michigan turned around its season is a heck of an impressive coaching achievement, and a good note for Lloyd Carr to go out on), all of the Rose Bowl (disappointing) and, of course, the Sugar Bowl (hugely disappointing). I was really hoping to see a Boise State-type of game out of Hawaii, but instead, I went to bed at 9:30.

Still, that's 12-plus hours of pigskin, which is well over the FDA limit.