Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Here's another event nobody cares about

Here's another clueless organization that just can't seem to get it right: The Miss America Pageant tanked on CMT Monday Night, drawing just 2.4 million viwers, compared to 3 million viewers last year. Like the NHL did with its All-Star game this year, Miss America moved its failing pageant to cable in 2006, and moved it to a weeknight against tough competition.

Who's running the Miss America organization, Gary Bettman?

I would write another T Dog Blog Think Tank article on Miss America blowing it, but I'm tired. I have a better idea: Read the post below and just replace the NHL's name with the Miss America Organization. It's the same thing basically. I'm going to bed.

By the way, some chick who's from that state that's also the name of a 1955 play won.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

T Dog Think Tank: NHL blows it again

This is becoming a common theme here at the T Dog Media Blog Think Tank: _____ blows it again. Fill in the blank. Two weeks ago, it was radio. Again. This week, the NHL. Again. It's like we're playing The Match Game. Only this time, we're dealing with people much dumber than Dora.

This year's NHL All-star Game, which was televised in prime-time on Versus last Wednesday, plunged a whopping 76 percent from the 2004 contest held on a Sunday afternoon on ABC, the last time an All-Star game was held.

The article states that the game drew only a 0.7 Nielsen rating, about the same ratings MyNetworkTV gets on an average weeknight (speaking of failures.) If fact, it drew more viewers in Canada on CBC than it did in the U.S. on Versus.

While it drew more viewers in hockey-crazy cities like Buffalo and Pittsburgh, it completely tanked in the nation's largest markets, including New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

But I'll bet you one thing. The NHL will use any dumbass excuse to say the All-Star Game was a success. What are they going to say? At least we beat MyNetworkTV? Perhaps they should've read my first Think Tank article: NHL, Hawks, Broadcasters need to get with the program.

But they make the same stupid mistakes. Holding the NHL All-Star game on a Wednesday night in the middle of winter airing on an obscure network against American Idol ? Airing exclusive NHL games on the same night as Monday Night Football on some weeks? Moving Saturday afternoon NHL games to Sunday against the NBA and college hoops? The NHL is basically telling viewers you have a choice: It's either us or the popular shows. People are picking the popular shows. A chance to sell Sidney Crosby to America and you do it against American Idol? Idiots.

In Dallas, where the game was held, the event didn't even crack the Top 15 cable programs, averaging only a 0.5 rating. What was No.1 in its time period? You guessed it. American Idol.

And don't even get me started about the game itself. On The Sporting News website, I posted that I forgot all about the game, and that's what you get when you live in a city with NO NHL TEAM. Plus, even if I remembered, I wouldn't have watched it anyway.

But as along as people like commissioner Gary Bettman, Blackhawks owner Bill Wirtz, and their little munchskins (a.k.a the other owners and clueless advertisers) think that the hockey world only evolves around them and everything is fine, the league and the ratings will continue to suck. Those assholes are the real reason that the NHL is in the messed up state it's in.

So this week, It's the NHL that blows it. Again. But I am positive that the radio industry will do something stupid soon and fill in the blank for next week.


It has nothing to do with the subject matter, but it is worth mentioning: The NBA blew it. Again. They suspended Lakers star Kobe Bryant for tonight's Knicks game for an unintentional elbow to a Spurs player in a game Sunday, which means he couldn't play in Madison Square Garden - the only time the Lakers play there this season, which also means that New Yorkers won't see him play at all.

Haven't Knicks fans suffered enough? I guess you should ask NHL fans and radio listeners the same question.

Super Bowl Watch: When is too much... too much?

WBBM-Ch. 2 found that out when they put a Super Bowl countdown clock on the upper-left hand corner on the screen - continuously - and the complaints rolled in. (and as if their blue lower right-hand bug on the screen wasn't enough.) Well, it's gone - at least during network and at the top and bottom of the hour of a few syndicated shows. If your read the rest of the article, you'd think the Chicago media has gone nuts with Bears fever (A little too much, if you ask me - well, maybe you should ignore the Super Bowl Watch headline and the Go Bears byline just below the title of this blog, so it won't appear I'm being hypocritical....)

Super Bowl Watch: Stations are ready to cover the game

(First off, I'll be posting mainly in the late-night hours this week because of other commitments that have popped up during other hours of the day.... But I will post breaking news when I feel its warranted.... On that note...)

Stations in Illinois and Indiana are gearing up to cover the big game:

- The CBS affiliates in the home-team markets - WBBM here in Chicago and WISH in Indianapolis are going big time to cover the game with expanded programming, live reports from Miami, prime-time specials, even marathons - WNDY-TV, sister station of WISH (both owned by LIN broadcasting) will air a 24-hour Colts marathon, beginning at noon Saturday. All stations involved are also offering interactive features on their websites.

- Meanwhile, what if you are a station manager in a market in between the two cities? No sweat, according to John Mann, president and general manager of WSBT-TV in South Bend, Ind. - home to a lot of Bears and Colts fans (and a train ride away from Chicago thanks to the South Shore commuter line.) The top-rated station in the 87th-largest market is also sending a crew to Miami and is expanding coverage after the game.

- Also, Toni Fitzgerald of Media Life (and one of the best media writers in this business, IMO) gives you seven good reasons why this year's Super Bowl will outdraw last year's game, though she does point out that the Bears aren't in the top five in the NFL in popularity (times have changed since 1985, haven't they? The Bears were No. 1 then.)

Monday, January 29, 2007

ET bumped for Bears

For those of you who need their Britney-Lindsey-Angelina-Rosie-Donald fix, move over: CBS-owned WBBM-TV is pushing Mary Hart out for a week to air "Mission Miami: Countdown to the Super Bowl", which covers the Bears at the big game, all this week at 6:30pm. But those who need that fix can tune to Entertainment Tonight's sister show The Insider, on WCIU-TV weeknights at 5pm and 7pm. You won't miss a thing. They're both essentially the same show (with different hosts, of course.)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

T Dog Think Tank: Radio industry blows it again

If you haven’t heard by now, a woman died in a radio stunt in Sacramento earlier this month.

Jennifer Strange, a 28-year old mother of three, participated in a “Hold Your Water For A Wii” contest for local radio station KDND-FM, a Pop/Top 40 station in Sacramento, aka “The End”, as part of the morning show called “The Morning Rave”. This contest was about who can drink the most water without going to the bathroom. The winner would win a Nintendo Wii, one of the new next-generation video-game systems that came out last fall.

Ms. Strange was one of the losers in this contest, and sadly, she paid the ultimate price.

While commuting back home on January 12, she complained of headaches and had to be rushed to a local hospital, where she later died. The Coroner’s office concluded that her death was caused from complications related to “water intoxication”. A few days later, 10 people were fired, including the morning team that conducted the contest.

This tragic story has been talked about all over the place, including CNN, the local news here in Chicago, CNET’s Buzz Out Loud podcast, and even the BBC. Radio message boards have been jumping off the chain with this topic.

And now the fallout has happened. Consider what has happened in the last few days: The Strange Family has obtained an attorney and will file a lawsuit against the radio station and its owner Entercom; a local broadcaster has filed a petition with the FCC to deny Entercom from purchasing several radio stations from CBS (as part of a long-running feud with Entercom); and now the FCC will investigate to see if there was any wrong doing on the part of the radio station. And there be more fallout in the weeks to come.

Here is a 5-minute audio clip of the contest, courtesy of The Sacramento Bee. Listen for yourself.

Sadly, she would never make it to the Justin Timberlake show.

Apparently, the local DJs were making a joke of the whole thing. They were even warned by a nurse who called the station that what the contestants were doing was hazardous to their health. The staff obviously didn’t do research on the issue. They assumed that nobody could die from drinking water. They were wrong. (Even I didn’t even know there was such a thing as water intoxication.)

Well, here we go again. The radio business gets a black eye, the business is bad because of consolidation, radio is cold and heartless, blah, blah, blah.
Well, they’re right. But instead of repeating what has been in the rest of the blogosphere, let’s just say this: It was a disaster waiting to happen. But radio will survive this latest embarrassment. Being a City of Chicago and Cook County resident, we’re used to them, particularly when it comes to politics and race relations. We get a black eye- but we survive. And perhaps learn from our mistakes.

Or not. And that’s why I’m not holding my breath regarding the radio industry. Something like this could happen again, because the people in radio are dolts, ratings are the only goal, the bottom line only matters and these types of outdated stunts will continue to draw attention – good or bad. The industry is like Cook County government when you think about it – cheap, underfunded, and bloated – with a lot of stupid people running stuff behind the scenes and running that stuff into the ground. Just this past week, the county is talking about making cuts to the Sheriff Department – meaning the bad guys will be freer to run rampant in areas where police protection is needed the most – and as a result – a life could be lost. More lives could be lost in cuts to health care at the county hospital. Like the DJs at that Sacramento station, the people running the county think this is one big joke.

In government, we can vote these people out – if we bother to show up at the polls- to be replaced by the same type of people. In radio, we fill out diaries, and if the station doesn’t do well, the management and the DJs gone and the station changes format – only to be replaced by the same type of people. Perhaps the only difference is that taxpayers aren’t paying for radio’s mistakes (and if it did, it would be a huge tab.)

So, you have to consider the alternatives. Music fans flee to Internet radio, CDs, iPods and other MP3 devices, so they don’t have to put up with the bullshit that the radio industry serves on a daily basis– just as much as people are moving to Will and DuPage counties so they don’t have to put up the corruption that is being shoved down our throats in Chicago and Cook County on a daily basis.

But yet they survive. They all will. It’s too bad that mother of three from Sacramento did not.

Friday, January 26, 2007

WBBM-Ch.2 to help with HDTV before Super Bowl

With the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl, CBS-owned WBBM-TV has set up an HDTV hotline to help viewers who have problems receiving the station's HDTV signal over the air (antenna). WBBM has been notorious for having problems with its over-the-air HD signal.

For more information on how to receive the station's HD signal with an antenna or through cable, click here.

Spike O'Dell out at WGN - three years from now

Times may change, but many things stay the same in Chicago year after year - Daley in City Hall, Democrats controlling Cook County, WLS-TV topping in the Nielsens and WGN-AM ruling the roost in morning drive.

But a change in morning drive at WGN is coming - three years from now. Spike O'Dell told the Trib's Phil Rosenthal that he's retiring in 2010 from his top-rated morning show at WGN-AM.

Mr. O'Dell succeeded Bob Collins, who died in a plane crash in 2000. Mr. Collins was No. 1 in the Chicago ratings for 14 years. He, in turn succeeded Wally Phillips. He was No. 1 since sometime during the Nixon Administration.

New name, same old stuff

The "i" network, which changed from PAX two years ago, is changing its name again - to MyNetworkTV2!

Actually, its changing its name to ION, named after the company who now controls the network. Many industry insiders have joked that the "i" in the "i" network stood for infomericals, referring to the high number of paid programs that air on the channel. Others thought the "i" stood for idiots, which pretty much described the network exces there. (Or any other network, for that matter. Or the producer of that new Pussycat Dolls show on the CW.)

On this day 21 years ago....

This was ours.... It can be ours again on February 4. GO BEARS!!!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

That's nice.... but the shows still suck

ESPN will begin to produce two of its daily shows, Cold Pizza and 1st and 10 (no relation to the former HBO sitcom) in high-definition, beginning in June. That's great in all, but the shows still suck, considering who's hosting them. (Perhaps they should concentrate on upgrading the content rather than the picture.)

Look for me to use the same headline when the announcement comes that Jerry Springer and Maury Povich's talk shows go HD.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Yes, it's still around

Phil Rosenthal has a short story today in the Tribune about the continuing sagging fortunes of MyNetworkTV and Fox's station operations president Dennis Swanson insistence that the brand will be big - someday. In the article, Mr. Swanson points out that his stations need prime-time network programming (Translation: our stations aren't paying anything for prime-time-unlike the CW and independent stations, even though our programs are drawing fewer viewers than the infomericals we run at 3a.m.)

Tribune Watch: Murdoch wants in

Add the owner of NewsCorp to the list of names that want the Tribune Co. Rupert Murdoch wants to buy the Tribune-owned New York Newsday, so he can consolidate back offices between that paper and the New York Post, the paper he owns.

But Murdoch owning the Tribune Co.? It may not be likely (because of the regulation mess), but the thought of it give me (and any other Chicagoan) shudders. Remember when he owned the Sun-Times? Enough said.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Goofy Greg is Gone

Sony Pictures Television has axed first-year talk show The Greg Behrendt Show because of poor ratings. The death blow came when Tribune, a partner in the talk show, dropped it on its stations in favor of the new Jerry Springer-spinoff talk show, hosted by Steve Wilkos.

The program was axed by other stations as well, including WDIV in Detroit. The station recently moved the show to 1:30am.

Greg is expected to continue production for now. No word on the show's final airdate.

Man laws repealed

In a move that really doesn't surprise anyone, Miller Brewing Co. has dropped its "Man Law" campaign, which is effective immediately.

The ads, which featured celebrities such as Burt Reynolds, former coach and Fox football analyst Jimmy Johnson, and WWE wrestler Triple H (who's injured again) sitting around The Square Table, discussing and establishing "Man Laws", which included no fruit in beer (hell, who knew that?), and no baking on game day. (And perhaps if they saw Byron Harlan's antics on Sunday, they would have made this man law: no creating Soul Train lines at Soldier Field. LOL)

Miller Lite has struggled to maintain market share- it has been slipping the last 12 months, while its rivals, Bud Light and Coors Light, have gained market share. The brand has not really had a successful ad campaign since the Great Taste-Less Filling campaign of the 1970's. Recent campaigns have been forgettable: The ads created by the fictional ad executive "Dick" in the late 1990's and 2004's Miller Lite vs. Bud Light presidential-themed campaign in which Miller Lite "ran" against Bud Light and took potshots at its rival in ads.

A new, toned-down campaign launched during the Bears-Saints game on Sunday.

Meanwhile, you can still access Miller Lite's "Man Laws" website here.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Bears also win in the ratings

The Bears weren't the only winners in yesterday's NFC Championship Game.

Fox's ratings for the event were up 21 percent from last year's Carolina Panthers-Seattle Seahawks tilt. The Chicago Bears-New Orleans Saints game drew a whopping 25.1 rating and 42 share, and it drew 43.2 million viewers, the most in 10 years.

And yes, like the AFC Championship Game that played later that evening, it outdrew the season premiere of American Idol.

Locally, Fox-owned WFLD-TV scored a huge 46.1/74, the highest ratings for the station since the White Sox's 2005 World Series run. The game peaked with a 50.5 rating between 5 and 5:15pm, at the end of the game.

The Super Bowl will be a big boon for CBS-owned WBBM-TV, which scored huge ratings back in the day when it had NFC games and the Bears were on their first Super Bowl run, and for LIN's CBS affiliate in Indianapolis, WISH-TV where they currently carry Colts' regular-season games. Last night's AFC Championship Game on WISH averaged a 38.9/56.

And finally, as witnessed by yours truly, one of the most bizarre reports I have ever seen came during WFLD's post-game show (scroll down a few paragraphs.). Byron Harlan, one of the station's reporters, was out interviewing fans outside Soldier Field when he asked somebody "Do you love the Black Man?", referring to Lovie Smith being the first African-American to take a team to the Super Bowl:

Harlan: "Do you love the Black man?"

Man: "Yes!"

Harlan: "He loves the Black man! He loves the Black man!"

Then, somebody turned on a boombox and played "The Super Bowl Shuffle", and Harlan encouraged them to form a Soul Train line. (That's right. You heard me.)

When they went back to the studio, Corey McPherin and Tom Waddle looked somewhat stunned.

Strange, but funny as hell. Somebody send this to TV's Bloopers & Practical Jokes!

Slogan change at Defender

The Chicago Defender, one of Chicago's oldest African-American newspapers, has dropped its branding from the paper's front page. The slogan, "Honest. Truthful. Unapologetically Black." was discontinued by the paper's owner, arguably to go in a different direction.

The slogan was created by Executive editor Roland Martin, whose contract to the Defender was not renewed. He gave the paper new life when he was installed as editor, turning around a brand that many in the black community (particularly among younger audiences) saw as stodgy and outdated.

Roland Martin is the morning drive-time host for Midway Communications' black talk station, WVON-AM (whose future headquarters are right down the street from my house in the old Soft Sheen building.)

Peyton Manning destroys competition in prime-time

Last night's AFC Championship Game between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts, was the highest-rated program of the season, topping the debut of American Idol. The game (which the Colts won 38-34), featured the biggest comeback of all time in a championship game, led by the Colts' Peyton Manning. The Bears won earlier in the day in the NFC Championship game, beating the Saints 39-14, putting them in the Super Bowl for the first time since 1986.

The Bears and Colts face off in Super Bowl XLI, from Miami's Dolphin Stadium, on February 4.

On a side note (and to this African-American, it is worth mentioning), The Bears' head coach Lovie Smith and the Colts' Tony Dungy are the first African-American coaches to head to the Super Bowl.

Oh by the way... GO BEARS!

AFC destroys competition in prime-time

Last night's AFC Championship Game between the New England patriots and the Indianapolis Colts, was the highest-rated program of the season, topping the debut of American Idol.

Friday, January 19, 2007

TCA Update

The latest from the tour:

-The CW announced that its is streaming programs from shortly after their airdate, beginning immediately. The programs include all of the net Monday's comedies, Gilmore Girls, Veronica Mars, Beauty and the Geek, and Supernatural.

-Meanwhile, the network is planning to premiere two new reality shows in the next few weeks: Crowned, a mother-daughter beauty pageant, and the Pussycat Dolls (hooters!) will search for their newest member in Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search For The Next Doll, which premieres Tuesday March 6 at 8pm (CT).(Let's hope it's better than that TLC search replacement show that aired on UPN a few years ago.)

The Dolls show replaces Veronica Mars for a few weeks, but the mystery-themed series will return later this spring.

-America's Next Top Model's new season begins when a two-hour premiere on Feb 28. This comes a week after the Beauty and the Geek finale.

-Fox is moving beleaguered sitcom 'Til Death into the post-American Idol time slot beginning on Wednesday, March 14 at 8:30 (CT) . Meanwhile, David Kelley new drama, The Wedding Bells, premieres on March 7 after idol at 8, and then move to its regular 8 (CT) Friday night slot. Also, Fox is planning two other shows: A new seemingly inane reality show, When Women Rule The World, and Drive, a race-car drama. Both premiere in April. Also look for some Thursday Idol results shows, which could have Tivos working overtime those nights.

Sitcoms renewed

Good news for fans of quality shows - and for TV stations looking for off-network sitcoms in 2009. NBC has renewed My Name Is Earl and The Office (and Law & Order: SUV), and the CW has renewed Everybody Hates Chris for next season -all show should be available for off-network syndication in 2009, a year after there will be NO off-network sitcoms launched - the first time in recent memory that has happened.

Presenting the 18-49 ABC affiliate leaders...

.... and surprise, surprise, is not WLS (Chicago), WPVI (Philadelphia), or WSB (Atlanta)- stations we usually talk about when we're talking about ABC affiliates dominance in prime-time (or any time period during the day.)

It's actually three ABC affiliates owned by the Hearst-Argyle Co.
- WISN-TV in Milwaukee, KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City, and KMBC-TV in Kansas City. Among adults 18-49 in the top 50 markets, those three stations earned a 7.0 Nielsen ratings among adults 18-49, well above ABC's average of 4.6.

The stations also did better among adults 25-54-the key news demo where all three stations are successful (yes, even KOCO.) Like WLS, WPVI, and WSB, they also out deliver the national average for ABC network shows in other dayparts in that demo.

If fact, WLS-TV - which is the number one station by far in Chicagoland in households and key demos - didn't even crack the top ten.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

High school hoops

Chicago's Simeon is in the national spotlight tonight as Chicago's top high school basketball team plays Oak Hill (Va.) at 8pm on ESPN. Whatever the outcome, we're pretty much guaranteed that Simeon will draw bigger ratings than last Tuesday night's Blackhawks-Blue Jackets Crap-O-Rama on Versus.

Tribune Watch: Chandlers offer $7.6 billion for Tribune Co.

Here is some updated information on the Chandler family $7.6 billion bid for the Tribune Co, and a letter from the Chandler Trust filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Tribune Watch: Deadline Passes

The deadline passes for bids on the beleaguered Tribune Co. and is mulling two offers: one from the Chandler family, Trib's largest shareholder, and the other from two Los Angeles billionaires. Either way, it looks like the Tribune Co. will no longer be under local control.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

NATPE/TCA update

Here is the latest going on at NATPE in Las Vegas and TCA press tour in Pasadena, Calif.:

-Warner Bros. has pulled its proposed new show, Celebrity Jury- for now. Warner Bros. was unable to come to an agreement with the Fox-owned stations on the program, but may be launched at a later date. Meanwhile, the chances for Dr. Keith Ablow's talk show to be picked up for a second season appear slim-to-none.

-Scrubs, which entered syndication this year, will be back for another season - on ABC?

-In order to expand (or perhaps replace) its small audience, MyNetworkTV has signed a deal with the International Fight League. The league is a Mixed Martial Arts League with 12 teams in a big boxing ring with matches that take place for 3-4 minutes. The IFL also reached a deal with Fox Sports Net. The programs will debut either this spring or summer. This comes as MyNetworkTV announced that syndication veterran Greg Meidel will be coming aboard as president of the beleagured network. He held that post in the '90's for Paramount Domestic Television (president of programming) and Twentieth Television.

-CBS has renewed Survivor for the 2007-08 season, with the 15th and 16th editions, respectively. Ratings are down for the program this year despite this claim that it's dominant in it's time period (Certainly not WLS or WSB dominant.)

-CBS' game shows in syndication, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! and rookie talk show Rachael Ray have been cleared in 60% through the 2011-12 season and 70% of the country through the 2009-10 season, respectively.

-ABC announced it was putting the remaining episodes of Daybreak onto the web after resolving a music rights issue, so the 14 people who watched it could find out what happened.

Idol wallops

Michael Wilbon of PTI may not have been watching, but the rest of America was: American Idol drew 37.3 million viewers, the second-highest total in the program's history-a 15.7/38 rating/share among the money demo (A 18-49) and a 20.3/30 among households (In Chicago, Idol drew a 20.1/30, about average.)

Meanwhile, way, way, waaaaaaaaayyyyyy on the opposite end of the ratings scale , guess what Versus' marquee NHL game was last night-- that's right. Blue Jackets vs. Blackhawks. Two teams who's losses total already matches that of last year's Cubs team. Talk about throwing in the towel early in the evening. This might be the first program to draw a negative Nielsen rating. -0.3, anyone?

You're out!

Two shows have been called out at the plate: ABC's anemic Big Day, and NBC's Passions. The latter, a modern-day Dark Shadows, is being replaced in the NBC daytime lineup by a fourth hour of Today.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Well, that didn't take long...

Rachael Ray's syndicated talk show, which debuted the same day this blog did, has been picked up for another two years, according to CBS Television Distribution's Roger King. The program is the highest-rated freshman talk show this season and in the top five overall.

Jerry Springer's secruity guy gets a talk show (Updated)

Steve Wilkos, a Marine and former Chicago police officer, will be getting his own talk show, thanks to NBC Universal.

WIlkos, who first moonlighted on Springer since 1994 as a secruity guard, and probably best known for breaking up the altercations on the program, was signed to do an issued-oriented talk show that will tape here in Chicago at the NBC Tower, home of WMAQ-TV.

Jerry Springer, along with Judge Greg Mathis' court show, also tape there.

The program has cleared all Tribune and some Sinclair stations, including Tribune-owned WGN-TV in Chicago. Jerry Springer's talk show however, continues to air on Fox's WPWR-TV at 2p.m. It is not known if Springer will continue to air on WPWR next season. (Springer's talk show airs on most other Tribune stations, including WPIX in New York and KTLA in Los Angeles.)

Wilkos' show will likely replace the failing Greg Behrendt talk show, which now airs at 10a.m. on WGN.

Jerry Springer has taped several special episodes over the years titled "Steve To the Rescue", in which he travels the country, giving advice and helping people out of certain situations.

In Rob Feder's column, Jerry Springer wishes his protector well: "I am thrilled that Steve is getting his own shot. . . . The question now is: How well can he dance?"

updated 1-17-06 at 10:29

Monday, January 15, 2007

NATPE Update

Here is the latest from the NATPE convention in Las Vegas:

- The Fox O&Os, as it has been spectacled for the last few weeks, has acquired Warner Bros. new magazine strip, TMZ, for next fall. The program will air locally on both WFLD-TV and WPWR-TV this September. The show is based on the wildly popular entertainment website, which broke Mel Gibson's DUI arrest and Michael Richards' racial rant in a L.A. comedy club last year.

-Program Partners has announced a new game show called Let's Play Crosswords, developed by Merv Griffin (Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!). The program will be offered -gasp! on an all-cash basis. When was the last time any game show (or any syndicated program for that matter) was offered on a cash basis? Crossword-type game shows aren't new to syndication- The New Cross-Wits, a somewhat similar game show, aired during the 1986-87 season.

-No deal: forget a weekday airing of Deal or No Deal, at least for now. NBC Universal announced it is putting the project on the backburner for now, as NBC does not want DOND to suffer the same fate as The Weakest Link: airing it first-run syndication too soon and burn it out too quick. DOND already airs three times a week on NBC.

-Buena Vista has renewed Live with Regis and Kelly and Who Wants to be a Millionaire in syndication through 2011.

-Twentieth is finishing its sales of Family Guy, now cleared in 82 percent of the country, which includes 12 newly cleared Sinclair outlets. The list includes Raleigh, Birmingham, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Buffalo, Richmond (Va.), and Lexington. Also, Twentieth has cleared its existing court shows (Divorce Court, Judge Alex, and Cristina's Court) in the majority in the country for next fall.

Coors Light and 24....mmmm....

Man... on the day where the TCA and the NATPE shingdings are going on.... the browser crashes. Took an hour and a half to get it back working. That's why we're late tonight ... anyway...

Ed Sherman of the Trib has a review of Fox's coverage of the Seahawks-Bears NFC Divisional Playoff game yesterday. If I haven't seen an extended promotion for a TV show like I did for 24 during the game yesterday, then I haven't seen it.

Then you wonder, if it wasn't an extended promotion for Coors Light....

These are funny ads, but you wish Coach Ditka would go into the crowd and beat the hell out of those guys who keep asking those stupid questions... Now, that would make a great commercial!

Syndication's Most Bankable Stars

With the NATPE convention getting underway today, Let's visit an article TV Week published last week on Syndication's Most Bankable Stars, picked by a panel of syndication experts. Among the highlights:

-Topping the list again is Oprah Winfrey, thanks to her continuing success of new now two- decades old talk show.

-Oprah's spinoff show, Dr. Phil, is number two.

-Newcomer (and hottie) Rachael Ray is fifth. (Yes, I'm drunk.)

-Ellen DeGeneres is sixth. You have to question this ranking though, as her ratings are actually down from last year and her talk show has struggled against Oprah in top markets.

-Another question mark is the number seven choice, Tyra Banks daytime show. According to the article, the program only has a 1.4 household rating and a 1.1 rating in the core women 18-49 demo. (Despite the low numbers, Fox O&Os that air the show renewed it through 2009.) Even though she has a hit show in Top Model, that airs on the CW, not in syndication. Future syndication star? Maybe in time. Bankable star in 2007? Maybe in 2008-- if the ratings continue upward.

-Only two sitcoms made the cut this time, and they are at the bottom of the list: Everybody Loves Raymond is ninth, and Seinfeld is tenth. Though the ratings are higher than many first-run shows (Thank TBS for that), both are down dramatically from a year ago.

-Two programs that made the list for the last few years, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, surprisingly did not make the cut, perhaps reflecting the fact that both game shows' audiences skew to older audiences.

-Also missing the cut: Friends and The Simpsons. Friends fever may be subsiding, as TBS recently dropped an airing of the show, and WGN here in Chicago moved the show out of its access period into early fringe and pushed the late night airing to 11:30. As for The Simpsons, the programs' three-times-a day airings in some markets (as well as a seemingly lackluster network season) may be finally catching up to Homer & Co.

-Finally, where's The Andy Griffith Show, M*A*S*H, and I Love Lucy? These classic shows are still performing well in viable time slots (especially with Andy Griffith in some southern markets and Lucy in L.A.) These evergreen sitcoms are also syndication's bankable stars, as they often outperform most new programs in syndication year in and year out. Other continuing well -performing evergreen product include Cheers, Sanford and Son, and The Jeffersons. Shame on the panel for not giving props to the old school.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Nobody's Watching According to Jim

I knew I couldn't go two weeks without bashing According to Jim. So, I have my friends at Nobody's Watching do it for me.

TV Week 2007 Winter Critics Poll

The 2007 Winter Critics Poll is out from TV Week, and not surprisingly, The Wire is on top as best show (as it was in Broadcasting & Cable's earlier TV Critics Poll), followed by Excellent 10 program Heroes (yay!), and The Office. Other notables:

-Ugly Betty, another Excellent 10 favorite finished in a tie for fourth with Grey's Anatomy.

-Lost dropped from first in the summer poll to sixth.

-The overrated Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip finished tenth.

-Another Excellent 10 fav, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, came in fourteenth, up from eighteenth in last summer's poll.

-The critics bragged a lot about how good the new prime-time serials are, but only one (besides Heroes) made the list: The Nine finished nineteenth.

-Two more Excellent 10 of 2006 finishers tied for 24th - Comedy Central's The Colbert Report and South Park , along with ABC's Brothers and Sisters.

-The Simpsons, once a mainstay in the Best TV Poll, didn't make the cut. Neither did Family Guy.

-CBS did not have one show in the top 25, and Fox had just two. Ouch!

-No surprises in the Worst Show category, topped by now-defunct sitcom Happy Hour, although there was one entry that did raise an eyebrow or two: CNN Headline News' prime-time vixen Nancy Grace tied for sixth. (BTW, where was Bill O'Reilly?)

-However, among worst movies, specials, and miniseries, Fox's O.J. special, If I Did It... topped that category, even though it didn't air. So, producers... if you even think about airing a tawdry special featuring nude women dancing with dogs, rest assured it will top this category. (If the critics can list the non-existent O.J. Special number one, then why not those Girls Gone Wild infomercials?)

-This is not the first time a program that did not air made the worst series list: A few years ago, The Grubbs finished tenth in the Worst Show category, despite never making it onto the air. What network had it in development, you may ask? Fox. No surprise there.

-Topping the best movie, specials, and miniseries was Masterpiece Theater's Prime Suspect: The Final Act.

-Traditionally, the critics could care less about programming that airs outside the Big Four networks and cable. So it is no surprise that new networks The CW and MyNetworkTV (the latter Robert Feder labeled a bust in his year-end column), featuring affiliates TV critics have probably never watched, earned low marks. (For the record, they really didn't care about The WB and pretended that UPN and first-run syndication never existed.)

- Notable quote: "By the Christmas episode ... I had to break down and admit it: I'd rather watch Sorkin fail every week than just about anything else on TV." -- Toronto Sun columnist Bill Brioux on his conflicted feelings on Studio 60. (And this guy is qualified to be a TV critic? Go back to covering the Maple Leafs.)

-Moron: The award for The Person Who is a TV Critic, But Shouldn't Be goes to our very own Doug Elfman of the Chicago Sun-Times, who is quoted in this poll regarding MyNetworkTV telenovelas, rather negatively:

"Porn is the only thing that can bring up its ratings at this point."

But yet, in this review of Desire, one of those telenovelas, he writes:

"Desire is (I can't believe I'm saying this) good. Compelling. Stupid. Well-acted. Not terribly written. Funny on purpose. Better than most series on TV."

(Then again, he's right on the money with this article in the Sun-Times on Tuesday 1-16-07. So, I'm conflicted...)

The complete list of best and worst shows (PDF)

The list of best and worst movies, specials, and mini-series (PDF)

updated 1-16-07 at 15:25

Friday, January 12, 2007

Say so long to "Queer Eye", "Quite Frankly"

The Q's are out... Bravo dumps Queer Eye for the Straight Guy after five seasons, while ESPN cancels Quite Frankly after two. Rest assured these shows won't be missed. (Let's hope Stephen A. stays away from daytime TV... There are already too many bombastic personalties in that field already.)

Lowering the bar

AT&T, which bought Cingular wireless in the Bell South deal, is dropping the popular brand name to go another hot, sexy name.... AT&T.

AT&T sold its wireless business a few years back to Cingular, which was created in 2001 as a result of a joint venture of SBC and BellSouth. Customers who had the AT&T Wireless name were converted to Cingular customers. And now, they are back with the AT&T name. So there.

Here's an idea for an advertising slogan: The New AT&T Wireless: Lowering the Bar.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Syndication update

- Debmar-Mercury has cleared 85% of the country for the ninth syndicated season of Family Feud, which was previously distributed by Tribune Entertainment. Debmar-Mercury has also recruited Twentieth Television to sell ad time for Feud and off-cable weekly sci-fi hour The Dead Zone. That program has also been sold to 85% of the country, including season two renewals for ABC O&O's here in Chicago (WLS-TV) and in San Francisco (KGO-TV).

- And a fourth season has been green lighted for Atlas' syndicated half hour-long courtroom strip Eye for an Eye.

Alliance Atlantis sold

The Canadian-owned producer of shows ranging from Night Heat to DaVinci's Inquest to the CSI franchise has been sold to CanWest Global and Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs for a whopping $2.3 billion. Even if it's Canadian currency, that's a lot of money!

CanWest Global runs Global, Canada's third broadcast network.

Hey, what ever happened to that Top Model?

For the second year in a row, Chicago Bears offensive linesman-turned-broadcaster Tom Thayer has been selected to become the official spokesperson of the city of Joilet, a suburb southwest of Chicago.

The response to the ad campaign has been overwhelmingly positive, according to city officials. Thayer, part of the 1985 Super Bowl Champion team, was a hometown football standout at Joilet Catholic High School (which also produced another hometown Super Bowl winning standout -current Tampa Bay Buccaneer Mike Alstott.)

It's a great choice, indeed. But you wonder why they didn't ask the other hometown celebrity, America's Next Top Model winner Adrianne Curry? She won the first Top Model, then went on to the The Surreal Life, met former Brady Bunch has-been Christopher Knight, fell in love, and got their own reality show in My Fair Brady, in which they married in an now-closed church in Joilet....

Oh. That's why. (And the fact that Tom Thayer won something much more meaningful.)

So I take it that Tyra Banks hasn't been the only one ignoring her....

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Fall Arbitron books (Updated)

The Arbitron radio books are out today for Chicago, Milwaukee, Peoria, Rockford, South Bend, Bloomington, and The Quad Cities.

Robert Feder analyzes the Chicago book for the Sun-Times, while Tim Cuprisin does the same for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Chicago Winners:

Urban Contemporary WGCI-FM Chicago's tops the fall ratings book.

WLIT ought to thank Santa for its Christmas music-fueled ratings jump. Now, the challenge: To hold on to its audience as it returns to its lame "Adult Contemporary" format. (Want a real AC station? XM The Heart is the way to go.)

Rhythmic outlet WBBM-FM (B96) expands its lead over rival WKSC-FM (Kiss). However, WKSC's "Drex" morning show beat B96's Eddie & JoBo.

Oldies WZZN-FM scores highest rating since switch over a year ago, with the additions of Chicago radio legends John Landecker and Dick Biondi. (WZZN also cracked the top 10 middays.)

Regional Mexican formatted WOJO-FM also a big winner, jumping to 5th place, with its morning show showing huge gains.

Hot AC formatted WTMX fell slightly book-to-book, but the morning show featuring Eric Ferguson and Kathy Hart, finished first in the highly sought core - and affluent (a.k.a North Side and suburban) 25-54 demo.

In the sports department, WSCR-AM (The Score) beat WMVP-AM (Let's watch as the local media overanalyzes this battle between the two - as usual.)

As for the losers:

Big Drop for urban AC WVAZ-FM. Wonder if its time for a change (like adding a local morning show?)

WILV (Love FM. Love FM! LOL!) plunges in the ratings. Time to get Movin'?

WKQX (Q101) posted its lowest ratings in 30 years, and WCKG-FM continues to struggle. (and despite Steve Dahl doing well in the afternoon.) But the GMs behind both stations are sticking with their respective formats and new struggling morning shows, for now. (And you have to question how the people who run these two stations keep their jobs... I guess you have to ask NY Giants coach Tom Coughlin.)

Nine-FM? Don't even ask.

- In Milwaukee, News/talk WTMJ-AM continues to dominate (Thank you, Packers), while WMYX-FM pulled a WLIT and pulled big numbers, moving to fourth place overall -thanks to all Christmas music. (WMYX will have to answer the same questions WLIT is facing.) Meanwhile, Urban Contemporary WKKV-FM finished third, and Pop outlet WXSS tied for sixth place with classic hits WKLH-FM.

- Outside the region, the biggest news came in Los Angeles, where the new Rhythim AC KMVN-FM, "Movin'" (formerly country KZLA) tanked, finishing in 36th place. Meanwhile, once dominant urban outlet (and now-defunct) KKBT-FM finished a weak 29th.

updated 2007-01-11 at 11:45am

We're back... from the grave! HAHAHAHA!

Well, not really. But the new CBS Television Distribution is in the spirit of the old CBS Films, the syndication division of CBS before the government forced the big three networks to rid itself of the lucrative syndication business in 1970 via the financial interest and syndication rules, which ended in 1995.

In 1971, CBS spun-off Viacom, and became a very successful syndication company. Viacom grew and grew and grew (creating Showtime and Nickeloedeon, buying MTV and BET), and later acquired Paramount Pictures Corporation. Meanwhile, when the fin-syn rules ended allowing the networks back into the syndication business, CBS bought King World, the most successful producer of first-run syndicated programming, thanks to Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!, and The Oprah Winfrey Show. Viacom and CBS then reunited, then split into two seperate companies at this time last year with Viacom owning all the cable TV networks and CBS owning the broadcast side, including King World and Paramount (later CBS Paramount) syndicated product.

Well, now CBS is bringing the King World and Paramount product together, eliminating two of syndication well known names in the process. Perhaps the only difference between this new company and the old CBS Films is that CBS has a hell of a lot of product than it had then. And this marriage also creates some oddities as well... Oprah's show, created at an ABC-owned station (and is still carried by seven ABC O&Os), is syndicated by CBS. And Little House on the Prairie, a program that was produced and owned by NBC (the network still owns home video rights) is also a CBS syndicated property (from the now-defunct Worldvision Enterprises, which Paramount bought in 2000.)

CBS will claim eight of syndication top ten shows, a wealth of first-run product, and over 70,000 hours of off-network programming from I Love Lucy to The Lucy Show, from Get Smart to Girlfriends, and from The Mod Squad to CSI:Anything. To see more, here's the whole list (sans King World programs) of shows syndicated by the new CBS Television Group. (Click on "series" on the left-hand pane. Wow, what a list!)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Twentieth Television is bringing back the old game show Sale of the Century -- but with a different name.

Twentieth cleared Temptation- a new program based on the '80's daytime game show on its 10 MyNetworkTv stations covering 24 percent of the country (including WPWR here in Chicago.) The program is produced by FremantleMedia, which owns the rights to the Reg Grundy library, which produced the original U.S. version of Sale.

The program will also have an interactive element - Prizes on the show will also be available to viewers for discounted prizes via phone or the show's web site.

Sale of the Century aired in daytime on NBC from 1969 to 1973 and again from 1983 to 1989. The program also aired in syndication in 1985. The '80's versions of the show were hosted by Jim Perry.

Aside from Studs, this is the first game show Twentieth has distributed in syndication since The $100,000 Pyramid, which ran from 1985 to 1988.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Master Shake and friends to the big screen

While America has to wait until July for The Simpsons to hit the big screen, and Family Guy's movie eschewed theaters altogether for the safety of your living room via DVD, The Aqua Teen movie will be hitting theaters this March, called The Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters. (I swear I'm not making this up.)

Based on the hilarious Adult Swim show Aqua Teen Hunger Force, the script is written by two of the shows creators, Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis. Given the history of television programs that were on the air and that released a feature film simultaneously (Batman [1966], The X-Files, South Park, Scooby-Doo, Rugrats, Beavis and Butt-head, and the upcoming Simpsons movie), this may have the potential for the franchise to "Jump the Shark" (if it hadn't already- although Scooby Doo fans would say their show did on Sept. 7, 1979 when Scrappy arrived.)

Can they stretch an 11-minute episode to a 80-minute movie? We shall see, right here on The T Dog Blog on Your Computer Screen For PCs and Macs Without Justin Long and the Nerdy Guy In The Glasses.

A final note on 2006

A little late with this, but Robert Feder a week and a half ago, put out his year in review of Chicago media in 2006, and from reading this, it seems that Chicago's sports teams were not the only ones guilty of being boobs last year (besides Tamron Hall's and Marion Brooks'...)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

... and Geraldo as well

The ax has fallen on Geraldo at Large, the Twentieth Television-syndicated newsmagazine show that replaced the failed revival of A Current Affair last year. Hosted by Fox News Channel personality and former daytime talk-show host Geraldo Rivera, At Large did well in a few markets like New York, but in many other places, like here in Chicago, the program ran up against tough competition and did not have a benefit of a news lead-in.

This is the second syndicated show to be canceled in two days, following the cancellation of The Megan Mulually Show on Wednesday.

This is also Geraldo Rivera's second failed attempt at a syndicated news magazine. Now It Can Be Told, a similar syndicated program he hosted during the 1991-92 season for Tribune, flopped for pretty much the same reasons his current show did.

Call it a case of Deja Vu, only without Beyonce.

(our 100th post!)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007 is The O.C.

Don't hit your ass out the door....

She Gone

Say so long to syndicated talk show The Megan Mulually Show, which NBC Universal canceled today. The program ends later this month. Megan averaged only a .8 Nielsen rating, tying for last place among all talk shows.

Allan Stagg Dies

The first post of the new year, and sadly, like much of the posts I wrote last year (particularly last month).... an obituary.

Allan Stagg (1951-2007)

A true Chicago radio legend.