Tuesday, July 31, 2007

They're your boys, not mine

Maureen Ryan of the Tribune slammed TBS' My Boys so badly in today's paper, the program might as well rename itself The New Leave It To Beaver.

Proof positive that not every based-in-Chicago series is good (proven a little over twenty years ago with Punky Brewster and continues today with According to Jim.)

Yours' truly complaint: The show pretends that Chicago's South Side is in the St. Louis area (and the fact that My Boys is too much like Seinfeld, only set in Chicago and a woman in the lead... and Seinfeld was funnier...)

Tom Snyder tributes

There's more on the passing of Milwaukee native and television icon Tom Snyder today, with the Tribune's Phil Rosenthal and the Journal-Sentinel's Tim Cuprisin weighing in on the talk show host's career. Snyder died Sunday in his home in San Francisco at the age of 71 due to complications from leukemia (In an ironic twist, another person with S.F. ties - former 49ers coach Bill Walsh - also died from complications from leukemia on Monday.)

Among Snyder's career highlights:

- Got his start as a reporter at Milwaukee radio station WRIT-AM.

- Appeared as Pete in an episode of The Rifleman in 1961.

- Played himself on McCloud, Murphy Brown, Ink, The Larry Sanders Show, and Dave's World.

- Anchored newscasts on KYW-TV in Philadelphia, WNBC-TV and WABC-TV New York and KNBC-TV Los Angeles.

- Hosted the Tomorrow show, a late, late Monday-Thursday night show on NBC from 1975-81. Notable guests on that show included Charlie Manson, John Lennon, Chicago's own Steve Dahl, and the rock band U2.

- An attempt to broaden the show - renamed Tomorrow Coast to Coast - and adding gossip queen Rona Barnett - was introduced in 1981 and lasted until January 1982.

- Hosted an afternoon talk show for KABC-TV in Los Angeles in 1985 and 1986, pitted against Donahue on KNBC. Snyder's show was canceled on Sept. 5, 1986 - to make room for a new talk show hosted by Oprah Winfrey.

-Hosted a call-in talk show for cable's CNBC.

- David Letterman hired Snyder to host The Late Late Show at CBS, a program that ran from 1995-99.

Are Detroit advertisers getting ripped off by TV?

A ratings decline of 24 percent for local newscasts over the last ten years on Detroit's television stations haven't stopped ad rates for those newscasts from escalating, according to Crain's Detroit Business.

Ratings are down for the early-fringe and 11 p.m. newscasts on the market's three stations that does late news: Fox owned-WJBK-TV, Post-Newsweek's NBC affiliate WDIV, and Scripps' ABC affiliate WXYZ-TV. WXYZ leads at 5 and 6 p.m., while WDIV, despite weak NBC lead-ins, leads at 11 p.m.

WJBK, which was a CBS affiliate until December 1994, traditionally lags both competitors. The station plans to launch an 11 p.m. newscast in September (According to historians, WJBK 's news as a CBS affiliate finished not only behind WDIV and WXYZ in the ratings, but also syndicated fare such as reruns of The Jetsons.)

The current CBS affiliate, O&O WWJ-TV, does not do news. The station ended its low-rated newscasts in 2002.

WDIV has experienced the greatest loss of all three 11p.m. newscast over the last decade, thanks partly to the decline of NBC's primetime schedule. In 1997, NBC was the top-rated broadcast network. Today, it's ranked fourth. (WDIV is still No. 1 at 11, though.)

Another factor is the explosion of cable channels, and a change of Nielsen's measuring of the ratings itself, according to Steve Wasserman, WDIV's general manager.

Detroit became a Local People Meter (LPM) market last year, which replaces diaries with more accurate electronic measuring equipment.

Despite the ratings decline, a loss of an competitor, and the continued splintering of the audience (with viewers heading for cable and the Internet for news), ad rates has risen for those news programs, thanks in part to advertisers' desire to be in local news and their willingness to pay a premium for certain demographics (i.e. the adult 25-54 audience) that is usually not available elsewhere.

Another reason some advertisers like local news is because it attracts viewers that normally don't watch the networks' younger-skewing primetime fare, which includes the upper end of the 18-49 demographic, and much of the 50+ crowd.

With political spending expected to hit a fever pitch next year, local news stations are in for a windfall, with spots going up thanks to a crunch in available slots. Politicians love local newscasts because the audience watching them are the ones that are most likely to vote.

But advertisers now have to spend more money to reach the same viewers they did ten years ago. That means advertising on cable and in other news dayparts.

So are advertisers getting ripped off? If the demand is there and they are willing to pay a premium, then the answer is no.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Sun-Times stoop to new lows

The local Onion continues to stir up controversy in its paper rather than report the facts. Take a look at this article from Friday regarding a racially changing Southwest Side neighborhood. Then there's the continued loony antics of Jay Mariotti , who continues his assault on good journalism. And check this worthless blog where yours truly posted three times. (Apparently, some of them didn't read one of my think tanks...)

If this is news to you, perhaps you should read my think tank on the Sun-Times, which I wrote nearly four months ago (One change since that article came out: The Defender no longer has podcasts. I guess they're dumbing the paper down to the Sun-Times' level.)

At least Ebert gave The Simpsons Movie a good review. The only saving grace of this joke of a "newspaper", run by a bunch of assclowns.

Local news no longer feel for the drive at five

There is a notable trend of big-market television stations on the East Coast dropping news at 5 p.m. for syndicated fare.

WPLG in Miami went to No.1 in the time period when it inserted Dr. Phil several years ago, and its 6 p.m. newscast got a boost, too.

WXIA-TV in Atlanta also scored ratings success with a similar move. That station also airs Dr. Phil at 5 p.m. and a local newscast at 7.

Now two NBC O&Os (as noted here last Friday) are hoping for the same magic as WNBC-TV in New York and WTVJ-TV in Miami are adding syndicated programming at 5 p.m. and news at 7 p.m.

WTVJ is adding Ellen at 5 while WNBC is moving Extra to the same time slot effective Sept. 10. WNBC's new early fringe newscast, News 4 You, airs at 5:30 p.m. The move means an end of the line for Live at Five, which has been the station signature newscast in early fringe for 30 years.

This comes as stations on the East Coast are dealing with more and more viewers coming home later from work, thus decreasing the available numbers of viewers in the 5 p.m. hour. In other words, if your station doesn't have Oprah, Dr. Phil, or Jeopardy! as a news lead-in, you're screwed.

Homer hits a homer

No D'ohing here: The Simpsons Movie was a big box-office success this weekend, opening at the top with an amazing $72 million, which is the fifth best opening of the year. The movie, based on the long-running sitcom on Fox, succeeded thanks to a strong marketing campaign (from longtime partners 7-Eleven and Burger King) and turnout from die-hard fans and casual fans alike. The movie also received good reviews from critics, with Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert giving it three stars (or a thumbs up.)

(Yours truly attended a showing last night, and let me tell you.... What a show! Laughed my butt off and was very impressed, though was a tad disappointed after I found out they cut some scenes. But the cuts will show up on DVD, so it's no loss. The Simpsons Movie was much better than the Aqua Teen one.)

Local stations are benefiting, too

Meanwhile, local stations that are airing the syndicated repeats of the show are benefiting from the extra exposure, tying in the program to the movie's marketing efforts. Among the stories:

-WFLD-TV here in Chicago had a couch at its stage at the recent Taste of Chicago, where fans sit on the Simpson couch and have their picture taken with life-size replicas of Homer Simpson and family. After some 15,000 sit-downs, the couch wore out and a new one had to be built.

-Meanwhile, Meredith's KPDX-TV in Portland, Ore. had The Simpsons Movie Experience, where the same couch was and over 1,000 people turned out at the Pioneer Courthouse Square to sit with Homer. The couch then made an appearance the next night at a minor-league baseball game, where Simpsons cards was handed out and plugs for the movie as well as the airings of the show on KPDX and sister station Fox affiliate KPTV in that market, which runs first-run episodes. Simpsons creator Matt Groening is also from the Portland area.

- Sinclair stations that air the show, including KDNL-TV in St. Louis and WCGV-TV in Milwaukee, aired a Hooray For Hollywood promotion, showing Simpsons episodes with celebrity guests.

- The thirteen Fox O&O stations that carry the show also had major promotional efforts tying in to the movie, including on-air back plates (that show up for a few seconds after commercial breaks) , ticket giveaways, and one O&O in Austin, Tex. (KTBC) featured an InD'Ohpendence Day celebration, which viewers voted on what episodes they wanted to see from each season.

This fall, The Simpsons will be entering its fourteenth season in syndication and its nineteenth season on Fox, with the season premiere airing on September 23.

Tom Snyder dies

Host of NBC's Tomorrow show, a local KABC-TV(Los Angeles) talk show, and a late night show for CBS, dies at the age of 71.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Tragedy in Phoenix

Two news helicopters - one belonging to Belo-owned independent KTVK - the other belonging to Scripps' ABC affiliate KNXV - collided in mid-air while covering a police chase in Phoenix, killing four people, two each in both choppers.

NBC O&Os to start 7 p.m. newscasts

(Editor's Note: The links in this story are provided by TV Newsday. Registration may be required.)

The news expansion continues: Two NBC owned-and-operated stations in New York (WNBC-TV) and Miami (WTVJ) will be launching 7 p.m. weeknight newscasts, beginning on September 10.

WNBC had a 7 p.m. network newscast until several years ago, when it moved NBC Nightly News to 6:30 p.m. to make room for syndicated fare like Extra and Inside Edition.

WNBC will also air hourly newsbreaks between 11 a.m. to 5 p.m, on its analog, digital, and online channels.

Meanwhile, WTVJ is also adding a 7 p.m. time slot, but is eliminating news at 5 p.m. Ellen will take over that time slot, while Extra, the former 7 p.m. occupant, is getting bumped to 4:30 p.m., paired with new game show Let's Play Crosswords, which airs at 4 p.m.

The move back to single-access (one syndicated show in the hour before primetime) on both stations means that they are trying to reach people who are coming home from work later. Plus, the stations get to keep all the inventory in the time period. Syndicated shows in prime access usually take 2 minutes of barter time (fee spots included) to sell to national advertisers.

The move is also bad news for syndicators, especially Warner Bros., who is losing prime access time slots for Extra in two key markets. Those moves could throw the program's future into question, as the newsmagazine/celebrity genre is very crowded at the moment, with Warner launching yet another new show in that vain with TMZ this fall. Extra is entering its 14th season this fall.

-In other syndication news, small syndicator Connection III has renewed weekend entertainment magazine series Made in Hollywood for a third season, cleared in 75 percent of the nation, with WCIU-TV in Chicago among the stations taking the show.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


ABC's session gets very testy

ABC entertainment chief Steve McPherson was forced to reveal the big news that he was holding for fans of Comic-Con down the road in San Diego on Thursday (thanks to prodding by a lot of pissed-off TV critics:) that Harold Perrineau was reviving his role as Michael on Lost.

Meanwhile, the ABC television executive took shots at NBC's new entertainment chief Ben Silverman, for blowing off the firing of his successor, Kevin Reilly. Among the hardballs lobbed at Silverman:
“Kevin Reilly stood up for the The Office … made Reveille [a production company] money … then to stand up [at TCA] and say ‘I just got here ...“Be a man.”

And McPherson wasn't done. Then he said, "If [Silverman] was talking to him before he was available … he’s either clueless or stupid." “You guys let [Silverman] off the hook … that’s your prerogative,” he said.

Who does he think he is, a Chicago television executive?

Meanwhile, in other tidbits:

-ABC will launch its fall schedule over two months, from September to after Thanksgiving.

- St. Pete Times critic Eric Deggans wonders if the real reason ABC is making Cavemen is because the network is too scared to make a show with black people in it. (Wasn't ABC the home of Family Matters and My Wife and Kids?) ABC concedes that it has no idea what Cavemen is.

- While he was taking heat for withholding the Lost announcement, McPherson joked to the critics that Don Imus was cast for Lost, almost to no laughs. Critics noted that McPherson is about as funny as the network's sitcoms.

Comic-Con: not just for comic book fans anymore

Television producers and studios are finding that the annual comic book convention held in San Diego called Comic-Con is a great marketing tool for launching their new fall television shows (take that, Promax), especially if the shows are a sci-fi or fan frenzy nature (i.e. Lost, Heroes, Battlestar Galactica...)

This year's convention has more than 100 TV-related projects that will be screened, including an extended version of the Bionic Woman pilot to panels for all of Fox's prime-time animated comedies.

Meanwhile, if you can't get to Comic-Con (and unfortunately, yours truly is one of those), then G4 will bring it to you - the Comcast-owned male-targeted network is providing coverage of the event starting today, with interviews featuring celebrities and other pop-culture icons.

G4 is covering the event online with exclusive interviews, photos, and cool interactive elements, including video voice mail (though no word if it will be provided by Comcast.)

TV sell-a-thon days in Wichita

New Vision has acquired NBC affiliate KSN-TV in Wichita from Montecito Broadcast Group, making it the third TV station to be sold in that market this year.

Earlier, Schurz Communications purchased Banks Broadcasting's KSCW-TV to pair with its KWCH-TV in a duopoly, and Fox affiliate KSAS-TV was sold by Clear Channel (as is the rest of its TV group) to Providence Equity Partners.

New Vision purchased three other stations in the deal - CBS affiliate KOIN-TV in Portland, Ore.; top-rated Fox affiliate KHON-TV in Honolulu (and its CW sister station) and KSNT-TV, the NBC affiliate in Topeka. The deal also includes KSN's five satellite stations.

So come down and buy a TV station in Kansas! Hurry, offer ends soon.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Spanish broadcaster charges racism in Arbitron numbers

Plus other demo ratings news of note

Spanish-language broadcaster WLEY-FM is charging that the station's numbers -as well as those of other Hispanic broadcasters - are down become Arbitron did not send out enough diaries to Spanish-speaking households in the Chicago area.

"I question the statistical reliability of this survey," he said. "They did not have a sufficient number of diaries to represent the Hispanic marketplace." according to Jeff Shrinsky, who is vice president and general manager of WLEY, speaking to the Chicago Tribune.

Arbitron denied the charges, noting that while the diaries represented only 12 percent of the Chicago's population, the results were weighted to the Hispanic population, which is 17.7 percent.

And things will get more controversial when Arbitron's new Portable People Meter -an electronic device to accurately measure ratings meant to replace diaries - will roll out next year in Chicago. The PPMs are already being used in Philadelphia and Houston.

Meanwhile, WTMX's Eric & Kathy continue to dominate with young listeners, finishing first among women 18-34 (they gained national publicity for the Love At First Sight stunt, which was featured on 20/20), while WLUP's Jonathan Brandmeier and WCKG's Steve Dahl continue to do what they do best - finishing number one in the key male 25-54 demos in the morning and afternoons, respectively.

WDRV ranked first among rock stations in the 25-54 demo and among male demos, and Mike North's morning show on WSCR-AM also did quite well, thanks to his on-air argument with White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen.

TMZ is in the zone

Aaron Barnhart of TV Barn takes a look at the new Warner Bros.- syndicated show spun off from the popular website premiering in the fall (It airs in Chicago on WPWR-TV at 6:30 weeknights and late nights on sister station WFLD-TV beginning in September.) And that website has scored another coup - it was the first to break news of Lindsey Lohan's latest missteps.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Chicago Reader sold

The free weekly alternative was sold to Creative Loafing of Tampa after 36 years of local ownership, and employees of the Reader aren't too thrilled about it.

Presenting the Spring 2007 Arbitron book

For Chicago and Milwaukee. Random thoughts:

-WGCI-FM, WVAZ, and WPWX all are down from last book. The Howard McGee debacle at WGCI certainly won't help them as they might not see No.1 for a very long time.

- WBBM-FM got pummeled by WKSC-FM (Kiss), falling out of the top 10 and recording their worst numbers since 1982. Time for some changes at B96 (Hint: start with the awful morning show.)

- Urban/Hip-Hop/Rhythmic stations down as a whole in Chicago. Don Imus backlash? Might not get better with PPMs coming.

- Hot AC WTMX-FM is getting hot indeed with their highest ratings in over a year.

- Oldies WZZN is tied with B96 for 13th place. When WZZN was WYTZ, or Z95, they got hammered by the Killer Bee. Revenge is sweet.

- WLIT is up a tad, but the station's focus is still a mess.

- Jack is gone in NYC, but now has posted its highest ratings in Chicago since the switch from Oldies.

- WKQX-FM and WCKG-FM both trended up. Not as dead as we thought they were.

- CBS' WSCR-AM defeats ESPN's WMVP in sports supremacy.

-WVON, the new all-black talk station, is still trying to find an audience.

- WRZA-FM in Park Forest (formerly WBUS-FM) - part of the Nine FM triplecast - made it onto the survey for the first time in over a year. I guess we Southlanders love our variety hits.

- As far as Milwaukee is concerned, WTMJ-AM remains at the top, but Urban WKKV-FM soared to third place with CHR WXSS-FM in fourth and rocker WHQG-FM (The Hog) in sixth. Is Milwaukee radio doing something right that Chicago isn't?

Bob Sirott's take on Howard McGee

At the end of the 4:30 p.m. newscast on WMAQ-TV yesterday, Bob Sirott (a former DJ himself) addressed the firing of Howard McGee at WGCI during his One More Thing segment and talked about radio's problems in Chicago, especially when it comes to replacing local talent with out-of-town syndicated programming.

Though he missed two items (Harvey's show is based in New York and Tom Joyner's show is actually owned by Radio One but airs on a Clear Channel station here), Sirott hit the nail right on the head. It's a troubling trend, and terrestrial radio is starting to fade itself out of existence.

Not only that, another D.J. at a Chicago Clear Channel station was axed yesterday - WKSC-FM (Kiss) canceled the Mack at Night show, according to All Access.

There is no such thing as job security in radio anymore.

(I know what you all are going to say in the comments section about what I just said. "Well, Duh?")

You can watch Bob Sirott's excellent One More Thing piece by clicking here.

Fox at TCA

It's Fox's turn at the mic at TCA press tour. Among the nuggets:

- The first of Fox's new fall lineup to roll out will be on August 30 with the season premiere of Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? with Cops and America's Most Wanted following on Sept. 8 and Kitchen Nightmares on Sept. 13.

- Fox has renewed the show everyone over 40 and loves rock music seems to hate, So You Think You Can Dance and also Hell's Kitchen, for next summer. Why not put these on as midseason replacements?

-Tony Award winner Cherry Jones joins the cast of 24 next season, so she too can get bashed by critics.

- MADtv hits episode 300 this season on November 17 with new cast members Johnny Sanchez III, Dan Osten, and Anjelah Johnson. MADtv debuted all the way back during the Golden Era of Television, 1995.

- Cops, the show that practically invented reality TV, will celebrate its 700th episode and its 20th anniversary this season. The program's syndicated repeats air on every basic cable channel in the world.

- A new show from the producer of Cops, aptly called Jail, follows prisoners from their arrest to their booking to their first moments in the slammer. It premieres Sept. 4. on MyNetworkTV.

- Guest voices lined up on The Simpsons next season: Jon Stewart, Jack Black, Lionel Richie, Stephen Colbert, Matt Dillon, Kelsey Grammer (in the role of Sideshow Bob), David Hyde Pierce, John Mahoney and Beverly D’Angelo (likely in the role of Lureen Lumpkin. Remember her? I think she was a hip-hop artist or something....)

So, this is where CBS got the idea for "Kid Nation"

Yesterday's episode of South Park that aired in syndication: "The Wacky Molestation Adventure", which originally aired on Comedy Central on December 13, 2000, where the kids in South Park got the parents arrested for molestation, and they ran the town.

Doesn't this make a great reality show, minus the molestation? Wait a minute...

(BTW, this is our 500th post! Yay!)

Monday, July 23, 2007

"Pirate Master" walks the plank

This is not a repost of an earlier item, but CBS finally got rid of Goober and the Ghost Chasers, err... I mean, Pirate Master, dumping it with five episodes to go... And no, it's not going to Saturday mornings (where ABC's disposed sitcom Ailens in the Family once ended up...)

Drew Carey named host of "Price is Right"

Yep, that's right. CBS just got up and gave it to him. That's how things work in Hollywood. Though yours truly thought that Todd Newton would be a better choice, Drew just might fit the bill. Then again, what do I know?

At least it's not Ozzie Guillen (LOL).

WWE ratings down

And the suits say it's not related to Chris Benoit's death. Maybe it's because it jumped the shark 40 times (McMahon's "death", for example), viewers got tired of all the crap. Wish the audience felt the same about equal 40-time shark jumper Grey's Anatomy....

Death March with Cocktails

It's Tim Goodman from the San Francisco Chronicle blogging at the TCA press tour, with a title more suited for blogging at Oakland Raiders home games. According to him (and like the Raiders), the fall TV lineup isn't that much more exciting.

Friday, July 20, 2007

More from the CW at TCA

(One more item before we're out of here for the weekend)

More from the CW:

- The winner of that Pussycat Dolls contest show last spring (Asia Nitollano) has turned down the offer to join the group and has decided to launch a solo career. As Nelson Muntz would say, "Ha, Ha!"

- TV critics lambasted the Gossip Girl pilot, which contained underage drinking and attempted date-rape. Wow, talk about a start!

- CW chief Dawn Ostroff says that the CW (and UPN before that) has given Veronica Mars every opportunity to succeed possible. So why was it up against American Idol a few times last season?

- As expected, America's Next Top Model moves back to its rightful place in New York City this fall, in conjunction with host Tyra Banks' talk show move to the Big Apple. Hopefully, this will rejigger some creative juice to the show, which it has lagged since it left NYC after the first edition. Top Model has also been renewed through 2010.

Senate passes indecency bill

Too bad that bill didn't save this woman's life at 104th and Morgan in Chicago last night. And who says Congress has its priorities straight? To them, it's a greater crime to say f*** on the air than someone getting shot and/or killed in the 'hood. Hasn't Blair Holt's family suffered enough?

TCA: CW takes its turn at the mic

Here are the CW's premiere dates for its new and returning series for the 2007-08 season.

And president Dawn Ostroff says that she's not concerned about the Emmy snub: "[It] won't make a big difference to our viewers."

Um.... what viewers?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Chicago next stop for FCC public hearings

The FCC will hold its fifth public hearing on media-ownership issues right here in Chicago on September 20. The meetings are being held to get input from the public regarding media-ownership issues.

No word yet on where the hearing will be held, so stay tuned here to the T Dog Media Blog for more information as it comes available. And yes, yours truly plans to attend.

Howard McGee finally exits WGCI

As reported here and in Feder's column on July 6, Howard McGee is out at WGCI-FM as morning man and will be replaced by Steve Harvey's syndicated program effective August 1 (Yes, the program starts on a Wednesday, in the middle of the week.) McGee's last program was today.

Also out are Nikki Woods and executive producer Art Porter. Leon Rogers will fill-in until Harvey's show starts.

Quick Thought:

Rank in the young adult demos: #1.

Revenue brought in: millions and millions of dollars.

Ranking overall: tied for third with a 4.5 share.

Getting canned by Clear Channel for all those achievements: priceless.

Given moves like this, as well as last week's debacle featuring Channel 2, Channel 5 and Amy Jacobson, one could wonder why Chicagoans hold the media business in such low regard.

With apologizes to Canada's public broadcaster, Clear Channel should rename themselves the CBC- Cheap Bastards Channel.

Amy Jacobson settles with WMAQ-TV

Amy Jacobson, who was caught in the Stebic household two weeks ago tomorrow (thanks to a videotape shot by WBBM-TV) has settled with her former employers, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. She had four months to go on her contract.

She also may be pursing legal action against WBBM, who videotaped her without consent.

In that interview with the Sun-Times, Amy Jacobson took exception to the comments made by many on internet message boards and blogs, saying that she was a bad parent.

"What really bothered me most was people saying that I'm a bad parent, and questioning my parenting skills," she said. "I would never, ever do anything to harm them.", she sold the Sun-Times.

Welcome to the 21st century.

Emmy nominations

The Sorpranos lead with 15 nominations. Here's a partial list, and hopefully, we'll post the complete list later today.

UPDATE: Here's Maureen Ryan's take on the Emmy nominations, and yes, they screwed up again, as always.

The new broadcast networks, for the most part, got shut out - The CW received only one and MyNetworkTV didn't receive any (really, that was easy to figure out on the network's first day on the air.)

UPDATE 2: And here is that complete list of Emmy nominations I promised you, right from the ATAS site itself.

Sci fi's hot, except in syndication

Ratings are down for the majority of off-network sci-fi repeats in weekend syndication.

A better way to put it: Who's at home at 3 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon to watch a Smallville rerun?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Today was CBS' turn at the press tour. And there is a lot to cover:

- CBS President Nina Tassler declined to answer questions about Mandy Patinkin's departure from the hit crime drama Criminal Minds, which can be attributed to "creative differences". Patinkin left former CBS show Chicago Hope after one season only to return much later.

-Tassler also admitted that thereason for the low ratings for Jericho was due to the long hiatus it endured during midseason, causing the show's ratings to crash when the show returned. As you know by now, angry fans of the show sent CBS executives packages of nuts to protest the network's decision to cancel the show. CBS reconsidered, and is bringing it back for seven episodes in midseason.

- Critics also had questions about the new reality series Kid Nation, where kids rebuild a deserted New Mexico town and run it all by themselves, including whether or not child labor laws were violated.

- The network also confirmed that Drew Carey is one of the finalists to host The Price Is Right (Oh God, no.)

Program Partners scores coup in New York

Let's Play Crosswords, the new game show from small syndicator Program Partners, nabbed a big timeslot in the biggest market in the country - by getting the 4 p.m. time slot on WNBC-TV in New York City.

This comes as syndicators are gearing up to launch their new shows in September. (registration may be required to click on link)

Among the promotional pushes: Program Partners is spending upwards of $10 million for Crosswords' promotional budget, which includes off-network licensing and merchandising, including host Ty Treadway shooting custom promos for all 125 markets that carry the show, and stations in California hooking up with each other for a Crosswords casting call.

Meanwhile, Sony Television is launching Judge David Young with unique promo spots for stations, and NBC Universal's new Steve Wilkos show has the star touring this summer, and at the same time, helping to fight children's cancer by visiting children in hospitals, and with the St. Baldrick's foundation, urging people to shave their heads in solidarity with kids who have to get their head shaved during chemotherapy. Wilkos is also working with sales teams and station managers, to help launch the show.

Wallace named head of NBC-owned stations

NBC Universal announced this morning that John Wallace will succeed Jay Ireland as president of the NBC-owned stations (Ireland took a position with GE Capital management. GE owns NBC Universal.)

Wallace will report directly to NBC Universal President and CEO Jeff Zucker.

NBC owns and operates ten English-language stations in New York (WNBC), Los Angeles (KNBC), Chicago (WMAQ), Philadelphia (WCAU), San Francisco (KNTV), Dallas (KXAS), Washington D.C. (WRC), Miami (WTVJ), Hartford/New Haven (WVIT), and San Diego (KNSD).

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Try, try again

The fights continues between the city's media outlets and community activist groups.

Chicago Media Action has asked the FCC to reconsider its decision to turn down license renewal challenges at several Chicago and Milwaukee television stations (fifth item.)

This comes after a new study by a University of Wisconsin study citing the lack of coverage of local governmental elections in late 2006 and early 2007.

In other words, there was not enough coverage of mayoral elections in Harvey.

Here is a copy of the petition reconsideration proposal (in PDF form.)

Quick thought: Can anyone out there tell me who got elected mayor of Hammond? Dyer? Anybody? These guys may have a point after all, especially when it comes to under served Northwest Indiana. But this new petition has about much a chance of succeeding as The Bill Engvall Show. The best solution? Turn off local news and head for the internet, like so many under 40 have done. But the CMA is too smart to point that out, right?

And what about stations who can't afford to do news, like WCIU and WCPX? The CMA is sounding more and more like Sound Exchange and the RIAA, who think they can bully small webcaters to pay their outrageous royalty fees.

The CMA thinks it's better to whimp and whine to some bloated government agency in order to change things. All they do is hide behind their website and send press releases to Feder. At the end of the day, areas like Hammond, Dyer, Chicago Heights, and Harvey will be still underserved by local media. These CMA guys are really no better than the Parents Television Council. They are just another stupid special interest group who hates television.

More NBC from the press tour

More nuggets from the NBC portion of the press tour:

- NBC has signed disposed Grey's Anatomy star Isiah Washington to appear in five episodes of The Bionic Woman, which debuts this fall.

- Jerry Seinfeld will appear on the season premiere of 30 Rock, while Alec Baldwin will stay with the show. Last spring, he wanted out of the freshman sitcom.

- The fading Apprentice is returning next season after all with a celebrity edition, with the winner donating his/her winnings to charity. No surprise here, as NBC keeps renewing shows that nobody watches anymore (Miss USA, Miss Universe, the NHL... Is there a reason why these guys are still in fourth place and will be in sixth next season?)

- NBC wants to remake American Gladiators, a syndicated program that ran from 1989 to 1995. (Why doesn't NBC revive Rollergames while they're at it?)

- NBC has inked a programming deal with Alltel, which their customers getting 11 video-on-demand channels, mobile Web sites, ringtones, and wallpapers.

-Homer Simpson is "appearing" on The Tonight Show on July 24, during Jay Leno's monologue. It will be only appearance to push The Simpsons Movie.

Monday, July 16, 2007

WTMJ, WGBA get "Better"

Journal Broadcasting's NBC affiliates in Wisconsin, WTMJ in Milwaukee and WGBA-TV in Green Bay, will begin airing a new show from Meredith Broadcasting called Better, a new daily lifestyle hour that was tested on Meredith's two Fox affiliates in Las Vegas and Portland, Ore. In those two cities, the program perform strongly in the ratings. The program also cleared Journal's WFTX-TV in Fort Myers, Fla.

The remaining eight Meredith stations wil also launch the show in the fall.

Better draws from the women-oriented magazines in the Meredith portfolio, such as Better Homes and Gardens.

On WTMJ, Better will air at 3 p.m. weekdays, replacing current time slot occupant Martha. Martha Stewart's talk show shifts to WISN-TV this fall.

10,000 reasons not to go to a Phillies game

This has nothing to do with media, but it's worth noting: The Philadelphia Phillies lost their 10,000 game on Sunday losing to the St. Louis Cardinals. Must be a great landmark to lose more games than Charlie Brown's baseball team.

NBC shakes things up

It seems to be tradition at the TCA press tour that NBC changes its fall schedule once that it is out.

But they have a good excuse this time.

At TCA, the peacock network unveiled some changes to its prime-time lineup, with NBC moving Chuck to 7 p.m. (CT) Mondays while Deal or No Deal goes to Friday at the same time slot (its Wed. slot remains unchanged.)

The Biggest Loser now moves to Tuesday at 7 p.m. and expands to 90 minutes (isn't an hour enough?) followed by The Singing Bee at 8:30 p.m. (CT).

This is the second year in a row NBC has changed its original fall lineup by announcing changes at TCA.

The fall lineup was originally developed by former president Kevin Reilly, but was dismissed shortly thereafter.

Today is NBC's portion of the press tour, and we'll have more as it comes available.

TCA news: Cablepoolloza continues

More news from the Television Critics Association tour in L.A. :

-Discovery is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Shark Week, from July 29 to August 4, with all sharks, all the time. The marathon will also feature footage of Amy Jacobson's appearance at the Stebic House two weeks ago, in which her career - and local news - jumped the shark.

- Star Jones is back in an undistinguished brand new talk show that will premiere at 2 p.m. weekdays beginning August 20, and somewhere, it's going to get beaten in the ratings by Jerry Springer.

- CNN is air new Special Investigative Unit Specials to air starting next month. First up: The little known early life of Princess Diana.

- Season 2 of My Boys will premiere on TBS on July 30 at 9 p.m. Another new sitcom, The Bill Engvall Show, premieres tomorrow at 8 p.m.

- TNT will debut a new drama headlined by Academy Award Winner Holly Hunter called Saving Grace July 23 at 10 p.m. (sure to be TNT's next big hit.)

- Bravo will originate Top Chef from right here in Chicago, for its next cycle.

- SciFi Channel will launch new Battlestar Galactica mini-sodes beginning in October and will lead into a full episode late in November, which will set the stage for its new (and final) season.

-Finally, USA has picked up two new show - Steve-O, featuring the wacky adventures of Jackass' Steve-O and a new drama, To Love & Die. Steve-O premieres in October (after RAW), Die premieres in 2008.

Renewal news

Though not at the TCA Press Tour, two major syndicators have big news of their own:

- As expected, NBC Universal has renewed Jerry Springer and Maury on the Tribune stations that currently carries them until 2010. Sinclair stations in Pittsburgh, Columbus (OH), and Cincinnati also renewed the duo. Separately, Maury was also renewed on Tribune's WGN-TV in Chicago and Sinclair's KDNL-TV in St. Louis. Springer is carried locally on Fox's WPWR-TV, but no word on any renewal.

-Warner Bros. has renewed Without A Trace in syndication for another two years, thanks to the CBS-owned stations.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

T Dog Media Blog Think Tank: Local media blows it again

From the blog that gave you "The NHL blows it again" and "Radio blows it again", now we proudly present "Local media blows it again."

Yes, we now have a “blows it again” franchise.

As you know by now, Amy Jacobson, a reporter for NBC-owned WMAQ-TV in Chicago was fired from her job after a video surfaced of her at Craig Stebic’s house in Plainfield wearing a bikini top and a towel wrapped around her waist. That video that was submitted to CBS-owned WBBM-TV a rival of WMAQ’s. (It’s not NBC 5 or CBS 2, people. Enough with this branding crap.)

She appeared on radio shows on Wednesday and was interviewed by Robert Feder of the Chicago Sun-Times, who broke the story on Tuesday.

Craig Stebic is the husband of missing woman Lisa Stebic, who vanished two months ago. Mr. Stebic is a controversial figure in this case because he has not cooperated with authorities, though he is not a prime suspect. The couple was going through a divorce. They also have two children.

Jacobson apologized, but defended her actions. She says that she got a call from a relative, asking her to come over and discuss the case. Ms. Jacobson, who was with her two children at the time, was own way to a health club on the city’s north side.

So she went to Plainfield – with her kids in tow - to the Stebic house - 40 miles away – the same distance that separates Baltimore from Washington D.C. to do a story. She told Feder, “It was a way for me to do my work and to have fun with my kids”.

First of all, it was her day off. Who works on their day off? To paraphrase a quote from the movie “Friday”, (ironically, the day all of this occurred) “How can you get fired – on your day off?” She should have gone home, popped in a DVD of “Friday”, and hung out with Chris Tucker and Ice Cube.

What she was going to prove by getting a scoop on her day off? By being a fool?

Couldn’t Jacobson have told them that she was off, chillin’ at the crib with the kids, and talk about the case when she was on the clock? She’s not an intern. Why drag your kids out to a place where they sure as hell they don’t want to go? And yeah, you can do a story in a bikini top. That’s real professional. A lot of people get messed up by mixing business with pleasure.

And she broke journalism ethics in the first place by getting too close to a subject of the story. The Stebics said that she was an ally in this story, in this situation. That’s not a journalist’s job. Your job is to report the story and that’s it. Nobody’s paying you to become a victim’s advocate. The public isn’t interested in that.

This brings us to our next aspect of the story: the tape.

When Jacobson was in the Stebic talking on a cell phone, someone next door shot video of her. That video was sent to WBBM-TV, a rival station and they did what Potsie was told to do on Happy Days – sit on it – for four days. That's wasn't cool, according to The Fonz.

On Tuesday, station officials decided to air the tape (raw video) and put it online, where it has received close to 200,000 hits. After that video aired on Tuesday night, Amy Jacobson was released from her reporting duties at WMAQ.

Carol Fowler, the station’s news director, told Feder: "This is a tape that fell into our lap," "It was certainly provocative, but I wasn't sure we were going to do anything with it. A lot of questions had to be asked before we put it on the air. . . . We didn't see much compelling reason [to air it] because it wasn't germane to anything in the case."

But when Feder and Tribune media reporter Phil Rosenthal reported that a tape was circulating around, WBBM aired it anyway.

Jacobson, in her interviews, called the move by WBBM “a cheap shot”, and said that “Channel 2 took extreme measures to get me off the story.

WBBM didn’t reveal where it got the tape.

So why did WBBM decide to air the tape? For a ratings advantage?

Yours truly thinks so (well, duh?)

And let’s not let WMAQ-TV off the hook, either. While WMAQ was right to discipline Jacobson, they went too far by firing her. A simple suspension would have been sufficed.

These scenarios reminds me why most young viewers like me don't watch local news. We expect crap like this from Fox News and CNN, but local news is different. They connect to our communities. Or at least they used to. To sum it up: Everybody involved in this - from Jacobson to the management at both stations screwed up. Three wrongs don't make a right. Young audiences gave up on local TV news (and local radio) long ago. No wonder more of us watch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. His fake newscasts are better and more informative than any "real" local newscast.

WBBM’s decision to run that tape was totally bush-league. Stations usually don’t take lobs at each other. That may work with Fox News and CNN and their nonsense, but not here with our stations. We don’t play that game here in Chicago. We don’t go there.

And it’s not like both WBBM and WMAQ have had ethical lapses themselves over the years. Submitted for your review: WBBM’s erroneous reporting on the shooting death of Fred Hampton in 1969 (those "bullet holes" in his apartment turned out to be ordinary holes in a wall); The station’s decision to cover a “pot party” in 1971; Harry Porterfield’s firing in 1985; Giselle Fernandez’s speed boat date with a drug dealer in 1988; and then news director Bill Applegate’s decision to introduce tabloid newscasts in the early 1990’s, not to mention Jerry Springer showing up at WMAQ to do commentary ten years ago.

Yes, yours truly reached back to 1969 to point out this isn’t a new problem.

And then there’s weathercaster and licensed pilot Jim Tilmon, who set a benchmark by unjustly getting fired from both stations.

You can say WBBM-TV is the Chicago Blackhawks of broadcasting, since the public don’t seem to care for neither. Both have had glory days until stupid decisions ruined them both. You sure Bill Wirtz isn’t running this station a well as WMAQ?

There's a reason why WLS-TV is number one in the news ratings. They win by default. They've dominated the market for 21 years and will do so for another 21 (they somehow managed to survive the awful “Happy Talk” format in the ‘70’s that featured weathercaster John Coleman, who often brought a live turkey to the set at Thanksgiving. Oy!) WLS is at least doing something right.

Meanwhile, WBBM and WMAQ’s news operations pretty much reflect the inept management at NBC and CBS. NBC has a lousy prime-time lineup and executives like Jeff Zucker and Kevin Reilly (who has since moved on to Fox) who make Fred Silverman's time at the network (in the '70's) look like a success. Whoever thought that two bombs from that era, Pink Lady and Jeff and Supertrain, would be better received than much of the network schedule now? (Actually, those two stinkers weren’t well received at all.) Yep, NBC is partying like it’s 1980 over there, with the chimp from BJ and the Bear serving as guest of honor.

CBS isn’t anything home to write about, either. Look at the low ratings for WCKG-FM and for Jack (WJMK). And don't get me started on Les Moonves. How many CSIs are on the network schedule again? Remember, this is a network that was screwed up by former owner and penny-pincher Larry Tisch and is now only starting to recover. In fact, WBBM started falling apart right around the time he took over the network. CBS should have been better off being sold to Ted Turner, who tried to mount a takeover of the network.

After reading blogs’ comments section about this story, you can feel a lot of anger and mistrust with traditional media. On Eric Zorn’s blog, there were nearly 1,000 comments made about the Jacobson story, and most of them were negative. Local television has let them down, and the brain trust doesn’t seem to care.

The network news and the cable news channels are no better, where propaganda is the order of the day. Shoutfests, finger-pointing, and downright mean behavior is common on these shows. And it’s for… you guessed it. Ratings. What does it say when your biggest cable news star is someone everybody hates? (Initials – B.O. Yes, I went there.)

The television and radio businesses keep taking their audiences for granted. Both are losing audience share to other media (the Internet, DVDs, iPods, etc.), and the suits are panicking. They don’t know what to do. So they get desperate. They stunt for ratings. But they backfire, and badly. Remember what happened to that mother of two in Sacramento last year in that radio stunt where she drank all that water? She’s no longer walking with the living.

As a result, radio and television and their executives have a poor image with the majority of the public, especially among young audiences. But as long as that money keeps rolling in – through higher ad rates, unnecessary expansion of local news, and more and more commercials, nothing is going to change. And viewers and listeners are taking their act elsewhere.

From Vince McMahon’s “death” to Chris Benoit’s real death, from Howard McGee’s firing to the cancellation of Studio 60 and Veronica Mars (and the renewals of junk like National Bingo Night), from to high gas prices, to poor transit service to the shameful antics of FCC and the RIAA, one could wonder if the public is getting fed up with being treated like shit. How much more screwing over the public can take before we reach a boiling point? I think we’re close to it, and when it’s reached, it’s not going to be a pretty sight.

Television and radio executives - especially here in Chicago – you better wake up before it’s too late. The next generation of media users are already ignoring you. You not as invincible as you think.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

TCA news

From the Television Critics Association tour:

-The Disney Channel will premiere a sequel to the phenomenonal movie High School Musical called High School Musical 2 on August 17 (now that's an original name.)

-Snoop Dogg amd Missy Elliott will be toasted in latest installment of VH-1's Hip Hop Honors due to air in October, while gossip queen (yes, I said queen - It was his idea, trust me) Perez Hilton will have six hours of specials on the network titled What Perez Sayz.

-Snoop Dogg also has signed with E! to do a reality show.

- Finally, Discovery's new Planet Green channel has teamed up with Leonardo DiCapio to launch a new show called Eco-Town, a reality series about a Kansas town's rebuilding efforts after a tornado practically flattened it last spring, using environmentally-friendly materials.

NBC vs. Fox

The only difference between this rivalry and the Yankees-Red Sox one is that people actually care about the latter one. Still, for TV fans, this one is going to be an interesting one to watch, with former NBC exec Kevin Reilly now at Fox and two karaoke-contest series are hitting the airwaves at the same time on their respective networks (though it certainly won't benefit fans of quality TV.)

The ultimate insult

It's worst enough the Chicago media has been angering everyone with the shenanigans over the Amy Jacobson- Craig Stebic controversy, and now ESPN has decided to join in, at least angering White Sox fans.

In a SportsNation poll, ESPN asked viewers "Which sports team do you most associate with Chicago?" and listed were the Bulls, Cubs, Bears, and even the Blackhawks. But not the White Sox.

I guess you can add ESPN to the list of channels Chicagoans (at least White Sox fans) won't watch again after this week. WBBM-TV and WMAQ-TV are already on the list.

ESPN explained that the poll was limited just to one team in each sport.

Yours truly thinks if the network spends less time on stupid ass polls and garbage like "Who's Now?" and more time on improving its on-air content, ESPN would regain its credibility.

But much like local news in Chicago, ESPN is becoming more and more of a joke each day. Maybe on the next SportsCenter, we'll see Linda Cohn at Craig Stebic's house with just a towel around her waist (ugh.)

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks probably wished the White Sox were in that poll, too. As of this writing, they were dead last with just 2 percent of the vote.

The same rating WBBM gets for its newscasts.

I know what you did last Friday

CBS' WBBM-TV now admits it was stalking the home of Craig and Lisa Stebic from a neighbor's yard, but the station was basically spying on the husband, and Amy Jacobson just happened to be in the way.

And no, it didn't explain a damn thing and the reason why you guys were in the neighbor's yard to begin with.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Critics tour report

Aside from the Amy Jacobson junk going on, there is something else of note going on in the television industry: The critics press tour. Here is a detailed analysis of what's on tap this fall from HBO, Hallmark, and Lifetime.

If you thought our CBS station was bad....

Check out the hubbub over another controversial news personality, Sharon Reed (yes, that's the one who posed nude for a story on the station she worked for) at Raycom-owned CBS affiliate WOIO-TV in Cleveland, a station that's had its own share of problems.

Both WOIO and WBBM shares a lot of traits, aside that they're CBS stations: tabloid newscasts, poor image, terrible ratings, and general manager Bill Applegate, who's pretty much like a tornado - he creates a disaster every where he is.

Jacobson briefed police on Stebic

Chicago held hostage, Day 4....

Former WMAQ-TV reporter Amy Jacobson briefed Plainfield police on Craig Stebic and did so without telling her bosses, and that's one of thr reasons why she was terminated from the station, according to Phil Rosenthal in today's Tribune.

According to the article, she's had other run-ins with station management, including promising the family of a boy killed in an accident at Midway Airport in December 2005 that she would pool their interview with other stations in the market, but broke it when she decided to hold it as an exclusive.

Meanwhile, the story has garnered some national attention, being discussed on CNN and Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, where Geraldo Rivera criticized Jacobson's actions, and called her dismissal "a no-brainer." (This coming from Mr. Ethics himself.)

Online radio saved - for now

Internet radio has nine lives it seems - In a startling turn of events, Sound Exchange said yesterday in front of Congress that it will not enforce the new royalty rates and the webcasters can stay online, as the new rates are hammered out.

Don't know what's going on here, but it looks like the people have spoken. But Internet radio is not out of the woods yet: New rates still have to be negotiated between Sound Exchange and webacasters in order to make this work.

For more information, click here.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Dan Patrick heads to Content Factory

Dan Patrick has a new job - with Jimmy DeCastro's new Chicago-based Content Factory, a company that will deliver content to multiple platforms including radio, mobile phones, the internet, and more. The new media company will launch Dan patrick's new show sometime this fall.

Jimmy DeCastro was formerly head of Evergreen Media (former owners of WLUP AM/FM) and Chancellor Media.

Game over?

The U.S. Court of Appeals has rejected a stay requested by webcasters to delay a rate increase instituted by Sound Exchange on July 15 that would put a lot of them out of business. The webcasters are now urging supporters to contact their senators and representatives to bring the Internet Equity Radio Act to a direct vote. Meanwhile, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) and the House Commerce Committee are urging the two sides to meet to discuss a settlement that would provide Internet radio operators with a workable alternative to the proposed CRB that would go into effect Sunday.

But it looks like its too little, too late.

WBBM, WMAQ drop the gloves

The gloves are off in a battle over the videotape that cost a local television reporter her job.

According to the Sun-Times' Rob Feder, the general managers of the stations involved- Joe Ahern of CBS-owned WBBM-TV and Larry Wert of NBC-owned WMAQ-TV were involved in a shouting match over the phone Tuesday, regarding WBBM's decision to air a "misleading and inneudo-filled version" of the videotape of now-former WMAQ reporter Amy Jacobson at the Stebic house.

The brouhaha here is being compared to the often nasty feuds between Fox News and CNN.

Television stations involved in turmoil with each other is nothing new. In 1989, two staffers at a Tampa-St. Petersburg television station were involved in a computer tampering scandal, hacking computers at crosstown rival. Terry Cole, a news director for then-ABC affiliate WTSP-TV (now with CBS), hired news manager Michael Shapiro away from then-CBS affiliate WTVT (now a Fox O&O). Shapiro managed to break into his former employers' newsroom database using a modem in his home with Cole's knowledge. Both men were arrested, fired from WTSP, and sentenced to probation by a Florida court.

Had the recent controversy brought more viewers to WBBM-TV? According to Nielsen household ratings, the station's 10 p.m. newscast on Tuesday averaged only a 2.2 rating.

Channeling Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson (or Lester Holt and Linda MacLennan...)

The humanoids respond: Click here to read reactions readers sent in to the Sun-Times...

All Star Game takes a hit

Ratings for the MLB All-Star Game were down 13 percent from last year to 12.53 million total viewers, joining the continuing trend of viewers abandoning sporting events (except the NFL) for other fare. This time, that fare is some stupid show called The Spelling Bee, a karaoke contest in with contestants try to sing the words to songs. The baseball All-Star Game meanwhile, was the second least-watched in history.

Gee, if BMI and ASCAP are running around the country shutting down bars and coffee shops for playing music and karaoke contests because of copyright violations, why can't they shut down this inane show?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Amy Jacobson tells her side of the story

Amy Jacobson made the media rounds today telling her side of the story, first to Robert Feder of the Chicago Sun-Times, who broke the story yesterday, and then went to WGN-AM, and talked with Spike O'Dell.

Jacobson defended her actions, and criticized WBBM-TV for the way they edited the video that someone sent in to the station, to make it seem like she was having an affair with Craig Stebic. She called WBBM's tactics "a cheap shot."

Jacobson did apologize (sort of), saying she made "a terrible mistake." She is evaluating legal actions.

Some are comparing this to the lapse of ethical judgment former WBBM-TV reporter (and former Access: Hollywood co-host) Giselle Fernandez made in 1988 at WBBM when she covered drug dealer John Cappas surrender, in which between the interview and his surrender to federal agents, she went on a boat with him and brought him pizza.

Russ Ewing she wasn't.

Here's the memo that was sent to staffers at WMAQ-TV yesterday about Jacobson's release.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

D'oh! Vermont wins?

Just one television show has ever been based in Vermont, and that was Newhart. And so, the state known for maple syrup lands the premiere of The Simpsons Movie, due out in theaters July 27. It barely beat out other top contenders including Illinois and Oregon.

No word on whether or not Larry, Darryl, and his other brother Darryl will attend.

Amy Jacobson out at WMAQ-TV

It looks like the other shoe has dropped: WMAQ-TV has fired reporter Amy Jacobson, for her lapse of judgment and a breach of ethics after she appeared at a pool party at the home of Craig Stebic - the husband of Lisa Stebic, who has been missing for the last two months. Video of her was captured by someone who sent the tape in to rival WBBM-TV.

Meanwhile, on WBBM's 6 p.m. newscast, the station reported that the video had received more than 100,000 hits on its website.

What was she thinking?

What's WMAQ-TV reporter Amy Jacobson doing at Craig Stebic's house? Wearing that?

It's been a weird time in media lately (both locally and nationally), with firings, resignations, fake "deaths" and real deaths, and not-so-pleasant surprises. (It's been enough to keep this blog busy, even though this weekend.) And it's now getting weirder....

Amy Jacobson, a reporter for NBC-owned WMAQ-TV was found on Friday on the property of Craig Stebic in southwest suburban Plainfield, who is the husband of Lisa Stebic, who's been missing for the past two months. The Stebics were in the middle of a divorce.

Ms. Jacobson went to a pool party at Stebic's house, showing up in a two-piece bikini, with her two young children in tow.

In Rob Feder's column in the Sun-Times today, Jacobson told her bosses that she was on her way to a health club on the near north side of Chicago when she received a phone call from Mr. Stebic, indicating that he wanted to come to his house to talk about the case.

But wait. This gets better.

From next door, a photographer shot video of Jacobson wearing a bikini top and a towel wrapped around her waist on Stebic's property and sent it CBS-owned WBBM-TV. The station was deciding on whether or noteto air the video. The station decided to air clips this morning and posted a report on the station's website.

(As of 2 p.m. the clips were also posted at WBBM-TV 's website.)

Many in Chicago's journalism community are asking whether or not Jacobson's actions are a conflict of interest. Others are asking whether or not WBBM should show a tape of someone from a competing station doing something unethical, for a ratings advantage.

Meanwhile, Jacobson's bosses at the NBC-owned station are expected to discipline Jacobson, ranging from either suspension to termination. Jacobson was also advised to get a lawyer. She's has since been taken off the Stebic case.

Officials at WMAQ declined comment on the matter, saying "it's under review".

This is the second time in the last few weeks that there has been a ethics breach in local journalism.

A female news anchor for Telemundo's KVEA-TV in Los Angeles was caught in an affair with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, thus breaking up his marriage in the process. The controversy has created a firestorm in L.A., and the female anchor has been placed on paid leave.

Both NBC and Telemundo are owned by General Electric.

More: Eric Zorn posted this story on his Chicago Tribune blog, with the humanoids commenting on the controversy (including some guy named T Dog).

updated (now with photo!) at 4:00pm on 2007-07-10

"Hot Ghetto Mess" a mess

State Farm and Home Depot have pulled their advertising from Hot Ghetto Mess, a new show about racial stereotypes that premieres on BET on July 25.

Rats. And this comes one day after the critics' polls for worst show comes out.... Makes them look silly for picking 24 as 2nd-worst show in TV Week.

The TV Week Summer TV critics poll

Sopranos No. 1; 24 winds up number 2 on the worst list!

There's another TV critics poll out there this week, this time it's coming from the people who invented it: TV Week.

The trade magazine put out its 46th TV critics poll the same time Broadcasting & Cable released theirs.

The Sopranos ranked Number one in the poll, despite the fact that critics split on the controversial ending (Sopranos also ranked No. 1 in the B&C poll.)

Lost rebounded with critics, finishing second, while Friday Night Lights finished third. The Office and Ugly Betty rounded out fourth and fifth place, respectively.

Not all the critics' choices were smart ones. Grey's Anatomy finished ninth in the poll, with one critic ridiculously praising the three-story arc after the ferryboat accident as "the best thing on TV this season." (And this guy is a TV critic? Find another profession, pal.)

Then, there was American Idol, which ranked fourteenth in the best poll. Critics still seem to be fascinated with this program, despite its obnoxious cast of characters.

For the worst, there is a major difference in who topped the chart on B&C's and TV Week's poll.

While National Bingo Night topped B&C clunker poll, October Road tops TV Week's. But the biggest surprise was 24 finishing second in the worst category. According to the critics, 24 jumped the shark more notably than Grey's Anatomy did.

Despite their popularity with the public, The Pussycat Dolls and Tyler Perry are not so with TV critics. Their new TV shows ranked fifth and sixth, respectively. (To be fair, movie critics hate Tyler Perry's movies, too.)

And critics hate Nancy Grace as well: her nightly cable show ranked seventh.

In the Movies, Miniseries, and Specials category, Discovery Channel's/BBC Planet Earth ranked first among the best, while HBO's Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee was voted the worst.

Ranking second in the worst category (and bravo to them for pointing this out) was the Anna Nicole coverage on Entertainment Tonight (though that should apply to every program that covered it, especially the cable "news" channels), and the American Idol special Idol Gives Back (but they ranked Idol fourteenth in the best show category. Sheesh!)

Notable absences in the worst show category included The Game, The War At Home, According to Jim, and WWE Raw, programs yours truly would have ranked high on that list.

Rant: A short thought here, but ranking 24 as the second worst show on television was not called for. Yes, 24 had a bad season. But it didn't deserve to be the second worst show on TV.
There are many programs, including the four I just mentioned above, that deserve the honor even more.

And never mind what Ken Tucker says. He's nothing but a worthless critic who writes for a worthless magazine.

The critics didn't seem to have a problem with the Grey's ferryboat arc, with one lunkhead even praising it.

You guys put out a good list of best shows, but with 24, and your failure to bash Grey's for the ferryboat arc (or Vince McMahon's "death" stunt), you guys are risking your credibility.

You can access the list on the sidebar of this blog (as well as the B&C Critics' Poll) just below the Must Click Archive Posts.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Reilly back in the game at Fox

Fox has hired Kevin Reilly as Entertainment President of their broadcast network - the same job he was fired from at NBC. He will report to Fox chairman Peter Ligouri. Both worked together at FX.

Dan Patrick leaves ESPN

He hasn't been on the TV version of ESPN much lately, if hardly at all, so we didn't see this coming? As rumored last week, Dan Patrick is leaving his radio show at "The Worldwide Leader in Sports" (or as some would put it, "The Worldwide Leader in B.S.") on August 17.

In Chicago, Patrick airs on WMVP-AM from noon to 3 p.m. weekdays, and also online at espnradio.com.

Some would say this marks an end of an era, but the era ended when Keith Olbermann left ESPN over ten years ago, thus breaking up the most successful (and coolest) tag-team combo in sports broadcasting, while ESPN (and SportsCenter) has become nothing more but a shell of its former self.

"Insider" moves east

CBS Television's nightly syndicated magazine show The Insider will have Los Angeles-based host Pat O'Brien move to New York to join Laura Spencer at the program's Times Square studios.

The program will also get an updated look comes Sept. 10, when the show begins its fourth season.

The program has seen some good luck lately, with The Insider in New York scoring a 17 percent ratings increase in the 7 p.m. timeslot on WCBS-TV (though its only up from a 2.4 to a 2.8, still far behind time period leader Jeopardy! on WABC-TV.)

Last week, The Insider scored a huge coup here in Chicago, with WCIU-TV upgrading the program to prime access (the hour before primetime.) On July 2, the show moved from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., plus added a late fringe run at 10:30 p.m.

The program is also expected to be upgraded to access in Atlanta and Seattle this fall.

Even though O'Brien and Spencer will host the show from New York, The Insider will continue to be put together at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles.

More on the "crazy" situation

More information on Howard McGee's axing at WGCI came out in a place you wouldn't expect it: a party.

It was McGee who made an unexpected appearance at Elroy Smith's going away bash at the Hyatt Regency in Downtown Chicago Friday night, honoring the soon-to-be OM at Radio One's urban AC and gospel stations in Philadelphia for his fifteen years of success at WGCI and WVAZ.

The event attracted a who's who of black media talent in Chicago, including Les Brown (yes, that Les Brown who had a failed syndicated TV talk show in 1993), Greg Mathis, Marv Dyson, R. Kelly, and Jesse Jackson, with musical performances by gospel stars Smokie Norful, Yolanda Adams, and Kirk Franklin.

McGee spoke at the event. From Radio & Records: “I struggled to come tonight,” said McGee. “I didn't want to talk to people about what you read in the papers.” McGee thanked Smith for hiring him 14 years ago and spoke about Smith’s disdain for profanity then added, “But since I'm out of a job, I guess I can cuss!” Despite his levity during his speech, McGee confided to the audience, “It's been a tough morning. I'm out of a job, so how do I pay my bills?”

Rev. Jackson also acknowledged the situation. From R&R:
“Today we had the shock of Howard being fired without any compensation after reading about it in the Sun Times.” He then left some perplexed when he added, “But it's not true, he will be on the air Monday morning.”

Sunday, July 08, 2007

National Bingo Night to return? WTF?

Latest B&C TV critics poll gives top honors to Sopranos, Heroes, and Office; National Bingo Night voted worst show.

Despite the fact that National Bingo Night bombed in the ratings, ABC is giving the moribund show another chance, this time stripping the show five nights a week, beginning December 17, for that week only. ABC officials claim that the shows' online success is the reason is bringing it back, but the real reason is that the bingo show drew more viewers than Chicago White Sox games (We knew there were some Cubs fans over there at NBN. Bastards.)

Ed Saunders is expected to return as host of the show (obviously, they lost Ozzie's audition tape.)

Meanwhile, TV critics gave NBN (at least according to Broadcasting & Cable) a designated honor: Worst TV show of the season (Of course, if the White Sox's 2007 season was broadcast nationwide, it would have easily topped the chart.)

“We got just as much positive feedback as a few grumpy critics. If they said the same thing about Fear Factor and Deal or No Deal, I’d be happy to be grouped in with those shows”, says National Bingo Night creator Andrew Glassman.

Um... they did say the same thing about Fear Factor and Deal or No Deal.

And what does this say about the television business if a program like National Bingo Night gets a 0.9 and gets renewed and a show like Veronica Mars get the same rating and gets canned?

Profitability and the bottom line, of course (just like in the radio business. Just ask "Crazy" Howard McGee, who was fired Friday.) NBN's online component was a smash. Nielsen ratings just won't do it anymore. I guess Veronica Mars paid the price for not having an online bingo game. Quality television is dead in this country, unless you count PBS.

On to some real TV shows, the TV critics in that same B&C poll gave top honors to The Sopranos (Best Show, Best Drama), The Office (Best Comedy), and Heroes (Best New Show.), and the critics also say you're not getting enough BBC America in your cable diet.

Hit the road, Jack

WCBS-FM is expected to switch back to oldies next week, if this article in the New York Daily News is any indication. This rights a wrong made two years ago when it dumped the longtime oldies format for the adult hits format known as Jack-FM. Ratings for WCBS-FM dropped like a rock and has not recovered.

WCBS-FM became an oldies 35 years ago yesterday, on July 7, 1972.

It's not likely that WJMK-FM will make a similar move in Chicago, since the Jack format here has been slightly more successful, plus ABC saw a hole and filled it when it launched the True Oldies Channel at WZZN-FM, replacing the alternative rock format on September 26, 2005.

WJMK-FM flipped to Jack the same day WCBS-FM did on June 3, 2005.

UPDATE: It's now confirmed. The oldies format returns Thursday at 1:01 p.m. ET.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Elroy Smith is back - in Philadelphia

Elroy Smith, who recently resigned as program director at Clear Channel's WVAZ-FM (V103), has now got a new gig: Operations manager of Radio One-owned WRNB-FM, an urban AC-formatted station, and WPPZ-FM, a gospel-formatted station, both in Philadelphia.

Friday, July 06, 2007

The craziness ends here

Robert Feder in today's Sun-Times is reporting that "Crazy" Howard McGee will be dropped as morning host at Clear Channel urban contemporary station WGCI-FM and being replaced by Steve Harvey's syndicated morning show.

The move is expected to take place sometime around August 1.

Harvey's program had been airing on Crawford's Urban AC outlet WSRB-FM, but Premiere Radio Networks, a division of Clear Channel, has pulled the show from the station, in part because of the poor ratings performance and WSRB's weak signal. WSRB has not announced a replacement.

Meanwhile, Tom Joyner's syndicated morning show at Clear Channel's WVAZ-FM is expected to be dropped from their lineup later this year, in a move that could potentially cripple one of radio's most popular shows.

In 2003, Joyner's show lost New York - the nation's largest African-American market - and hasn't been heard on terrestrial radio there since. Joyner's show was also dropped in Los Angeles last year.

Harvey meanwhile, airs on Urban AC WBLS-FM in New York and Urban rimshotter KDAY-FM in Los Angeles.

A loss of Chicago -the nation's second largest African-American market - could hurt his show and his standing with national advertisers. Joyner brought his Sky Show to the Chicago Theater last week to a packed house. Joyner's show constantly ranks in the top ten among morning drive-time shows in Chicago.

Names that have surfaced to replace Joyner would be former WGCI morning man Doug Banks and McGee.

Howard McGee's departure comes despite the fact that his morning show ranks third in the Chicago market. Harvey's show ranks 28th. McGee has done mornings at WGCI since January 1998.

Analysis: While this move seems stupid, it actually makes sense - from a business standpoint. For them. WGCI's move to acquire The Steve Harvey Morning Show would essentially be getting a program from a sister company - both Premiere and WGCI are owned by Clear Channel. They would pay little or nothing to get the show.

On the other hand, Harvey's show is more older-skewing than most hip-hop stations the caliber of WGCI. Harvey was local morning man on KKBT (now KRBV) in Los Angeles several years ago and his show did not mesh well with the station's then- hip-hop format.

Harvey also had an earlier stint as morning man at WGCI in the mid 1990's, which did not work out.

Meanwhile, Clear Channel may have a revenge factor against the TJMS in dropping its Chicago outlet. When ABC originally syndicated the show, it cleared a lot of Urban AC stations owned by Clear Channel and its predecessors.

When Radio One took over syndication of the show from ABC through Reach Media (which is part-owned by Joyner) two years ago, Radio One took TJMS off of its Clear Channel Urban AC outlets in Philadelphia (WDAS-FM), Detroit (WMXD-FM) and St. Louis (KMJM-FM), and put them on rival Urban AC stations owned by Radio One.

The Philadelphia and Detroit stations have since replaced Joyner's show with Harvey's; The St. Louis station replaced Joyner with a local effort.

Joyner's show could resurface at WSRB. But that station is planning a local show to replace Harvey.

As noted here last week, TJMS airs on the largest non-Radio One station in the country, a station owned by Clear Channel. But their corporate rivalry has gotten in the way of the listeners' best interests. If NBC Universal's House can run on Fox, why can't TJMS run on a Clear Channel station?

Perhaps WVAZ should take a look at how many people showed up for that Sky Show last week. Joyner, who worked in Chicago radio for more than a decade, has a huge following here, and the numbers back that up (admittingly, TJMS has become more homogenized in the past year, and those numbers have slipped somewhat.) McGee has a loyal following too, and has the numbers to back that up.

But the only numbers Clear Channel are only interested in are those in the accounting ledger. They've certainly earned the "cheap channel" nickname. After all, they did replace WLIT-FM's local morning show (with Melissa Foreman) with a syndicated Whoopi Goldberg, whose show is also syndicated by Premiere.

As for Harvey, he clearly does not connect with young listeners. Don't be surprised if some of them (if any) flee to Power 92's (WPWX-FM) morning show or even Eddie & JoBo & Erica on WBBM-FM (B 96.) The latter already has a significant African-American audience and co-host Erica Cobb is African-American. Others will just simply plug in their iPods. Radio has pretty much become irrelevant to today's younger generation and stupid moves like this are the reason why.

As for Joyner's Chicago listeners, if WVAZ goes ahead and drops the show, they may have to listen to the show online, if they want their TJMS fix. Unfortunately, that may not be for long if those internet radio royalty rates go into effect on July 15 as planned.

There is no doubt that with McGee's and Joyner's departures will anger a lot of listeners. But hey, if the CTA angers its customers on a regular basis, and the CTA doesn't care, and the RIAA and Sound Exchange piss off listeners, and they don't care, why should Chicago's radio stations care about theirs?

What a wonderful world we live in. Might not have internet radio later this month , and now might not have Tom Joyner and Howard McGee, either. Consumers aren't king. Big companies and the RIAA are. No matter what color your skin is, we're nothing but slaves on their plantations. Except nobody's singing Swing Lo, Sweet Cherry. It's copyrighted.

What do you think? Post your comments (as always, keep it clean...)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

WCIU upgrades "Insider", "King of Queens"

WCIU-TV has upgraded CBS' entertainment magazine (and ET/Hard Copy clone) The Insider and Sony's off-network King of Queens into access.

The moves are being made so WCIU can become more competitive with other stations in town, as WGN-TV is ready to roll out Family Guy and Two And A Half Men this fall, and Everybody Loves Raymond shifts to WFLD-TV and/or WPWR-TV in access next spring.

WCIU itself picks up the second syndication cycle of That's '70's Show in 2008.

Starting this week, The Insider moves from 5 to 6 p.m. and King of Queens shifts from 10:35 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. (Don't worry, Bart. You can still watch The King of Queens at 10.) Meanwhile, The Insider's second run moves to 10:30 p.m. from 7 p.m. (Is a second run even necessary? It's repulsive watching it the first time around.)

The moves sends the recent access occupants, Girlfriends to 5 p.m. and The Bernie Mac Show to 7 p.m. (subject to preemptions from White Sox games.)