Monday, March 31, 2008

Sweeping changes at Channel 2, CBS (updated)

Burns, Childers, Malone out at Channel 2; layoffs at other CBS O&Os

The ax fell at CBS-owned WBBM-TV on Monday, with eighteen people either laid off or their contracts not being renewed. The causalities include on-air veterans Mary Ann Childers, Diann Burns, and Mark Malone.

Burns was the highest-paid anchor at the station, making a reported $2 million per year.

The hirings on the three on-air personalities were heralded as a strategy to bring more viewers to the perennially ratings-challenged station by using familiar faces. But the numbers continued heading south, with WBBM's 10 p.m. newscasts often losing to WFLD's 10 p.m. news show among adults 18-49.

The firings are reminiscent of the "Black Wednesday" firings at sister station WCBS-TV in New York back on October 2, 1996, when a total of seven on-air personalities were fired.

"Black Monday" at WBBM was the largest purge of employees at any television station in a single day Chicago history.

This comes as major media companies across the country are making major cutbacks. A few weeks ago, Citadel laid off staff at WLS-AM & WZZN-FM and other stations across the country.

WBBM isn't the only CBS O&O station to feel the pinch:

- Dallas: KTVT let three people go, including longtime investigative reporter Robert Riggs.

- Minneapolis: WCCO-TV dropped a weekend anchor.

- Sacramento: CBS' duopoly of KOVR-TV and KMAX-TV laid off an unspecified number of employees.

- Denver: Employees at KCNC-TV are being told layoffs are coming this week, and one video editor has already been let go.

Classic Think Tank: The mess at Channel 2

Power 92 morning co-host exits

More firings: Say au revoir to Kendra G as her time is up at WPWX-FM (Power 92). The co-host of Chicago's only local morning program targeted to an urban audience is out after three years at the station, where she was on The Trey Choklit Jok Morning Jumpoff. Power 92 is now looking for a replacement.

Despite the fact Power 92's morning show has a distinct advantage in being a local voice, the program continues to trail the The Steve Harvey Snore n' Bore Morning Yawnfest on WGCI.

Game shows are hot again

After Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! became major successes in the mid-1980's, games shows became a hot property in syndication. By 1988, more than ten of them were on the air, including Win Lose or Draw, and Wipeout!, and successful revivals of Hollywood Squares, The Dating Game, and Family Feud.

But the game show boom went bust by 1991 after several highly anticipated game shows flopped. A total of twelve games were canned in syndication over a two-year period, claiming veterans (Win Lose or Draw), freshman entries (Remote Control, Talkabout, The Challengers) and revivals (The Joker's Wild, Tic Tac Dough and The Krypton Factor) alike. Even Donald Trump had his name on a game show, aptly named Trump Card. And that flopped, too.

When the carnage cleared, there were only five game shows on the air. Total. And none of them were in prime-time (of course), and only The Price Is Right and Classic Concentration were on networks' daytime schedule. Even Bill Cosby's jump into the fray with the revival of classic game show You Bet in Life in 1992 was a bust.

Fast forward to today, where it is a completely different story. Game shows aren't only prospering in syndication - they're prospering in prime-time as well - something we haven't seen since the 1950's, pre-game show scandals. Last Thursday, NBC's Deal or No Deal drew 11 million viewers - even without the Million Dollar Mission episodes. The Price Is Right may have a shot of CBS' fall schedule for the first time after its prime-time specials have been deemed a success (and this comes after two syndicated nighttime versions failed.) And more are in development.

In syndication, Wheel and Jeopardy! continue their two-and-a-half decade dominance in the ratings, while the weekday strip version of Deal or No Deal and Trivial Pursuit debuts this fall and joins other successful games (Millionaire and Family Feud) and a mediocre-performing one (Merv Griffin's Crosswords).

This TV Week article details this and more, and why game shows are hot in syndication again.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

"Quincy" sues NBC Universal

Jack Klugman, who starred in the NBC crime drama Quincy, is suing the network over the show's profits.

Klugman has filed a lawsuit against NBC Universal over the program's revenue, and claims the studio is being dishonest over the issue. In the contract, Klugman and his production company was entitled to a quarter of the profits. Klugman claimed his agent "lost" the copy of the contract and NBC has refused to issue their copy.

Universal Television produced Quincy for NBC between 1976 to 1983 for NBC. In 2004, NBC and Universal merged to become NBC Universal.

Quincy is the forerunner to future forensic programs such as DaVinci's Inquest and the current trio of CSI dramas, and has been successful in off-net syndication since the early 1980s. It was still so popular that CBS-owned KCBS-TV in Los Angeles replaced the low-rated The Joan Rivers Show in its 3 p.m. weekday time slot with Quincy reruns in March 1991.

Quincy currently airs on MeTV (WWME-TV) in Chicago.

Klugman is a noted dramatic actor - in addition to playing Quincy, he also had roles on Naked City and The Twilight Zone, but he's best remembered for playing opposite Tony Randall on ABC's sitcom The Odd Couple from 1970 to 1975.

Friday, March 28, 2008

"Celebrity Apprentice" wins Thursday

And Piers Morgan (who?) wins the whoring-for-Trump competition, which beat CBS' NCAA Tournament coverage, which means America treasures its sleazy TV as much as it does Mom, Apple Pie, and foreign cars (it used to be Chevrolet...)

And this has-been TV critic raves so much about this show, you think he was working for NBC's PR department...

Big Media does it again!

On Tuesday, I had a post up on a story in which Jay Mariotti bashes Cubs fans, and the Sun-Times feedback section below was filled with anti-Mariotti comments. Late Tuesday evening, the feedback section disappeared not only from the Cubs article, but all of Mariotti's articles (All other articles had their comments section intact.)

In today's Sports TV/Radio column in the Chicago Tribune, Teddy Greenstein reports that Mariotti asked Sun-Times management to have the comments section removed from his column online (third item), and they did.

I guess the Reader Alienation Plan continues at the Chicago Daily Onion, who proudly boasts that they are the most-read paper in Chicago. Who' s writing the marketing slogans at the paper, NBC? Or is it Donald ("The Apprentice is the number one show on TV!") Trump?

So now, we can't criticize a slimeball like Jay Mariotti? Did he became a member of the Bush Administration overnight?

Look, jackasses. You either do a feedback section for your website, or not. This is so typical of Big Media. The Parents Television Council wants to squash free speech and so does Big Media.

We should be afraid. Very afraid.

WCIU fined for kids' ad violations

This dates way back when WCIU-TV carried Kids' WB programming, and this is the price they paid for it: The Weigel-owned independent station was fined $16,500 for kids' ad violations by the FCC, regarding Pokemon product placement on Eggo waffles and Fruit By The Foot fruit roll-ups (perhaps this is one of reasons why WCIU dropped Kids' WB from the station in 2004. The animated program block later moved to WGN-TV.)

In other words, don't look for Pokemon to be WCIU's mascot anytime soon.

CW affiliate WNAB-TV in Nashville was also hit by the FCC for failing to properly maintain their public inspection files.

More on Wally Phillips' death

Two wonderful articles here from The Trib's Phil Rosenthal and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Tim Cuprisin (it turned out Wally Phillips also had listeners in the Milwaukee area.)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

New boss at CBS Television Distribution

And his name is John Nogawski, who'll oversee the world's largest syndication company as president of CBS Television Distribution, whose massive programming library runs the gamut from Everybody Loves Raymond to Everybody Hates Chris and everything in between.

Nogawski steps into a role that was occupied by the legendary Roger King, who died on Dec. 8.

Also, Robert Madden becomes the senior executive vice president of CBS Television Distribution. In the newly created position, he'll oversee the existing relationships CBS has with Sony regarding Wheel of Fortune and Jeporady! and Harpo Productions regarding The Oprah Winfrey Show (and his number one task should be keeping Ms. O in the ranks past 2011 - that's when her contract to do her talk show expires.)

WPWR launches new public affairs show

WPWR also secures rights to Chicago Fire games

Fox-owned WPWR-TV is launching a new public affairs show called Perspective, which will air Sundays at 12:30 p.m. beginning March 30. This marks the first new public-affairs program to air on WPWR under Fox's ownership. Before Fox took over the station, WPWR ran public affairs programming such as Dimensions: Northwest Indiana and a weekly talk show hosted by comedian Aaron Freeman.

The program is hosted by Monique Caradine, and she will interview newsmakers and trendsetters from all walks of life on a variety of topics, ranging from politics to entertainment. The debut episode this Sunday focuses on the controversy surrounding Rev. Jerimah Wright - Barack Obama's former minister, which has been the story here on Chicago's South Side.

Meanwhile, WPWR has secured the rights to air eighteen Chicago Fire MLS soccer games beginning Saturday with a game against Real Salt Lake (FYI, that's the MLS franchise in  Salt Lake City, Utah.) To see the complete schedule, click here.

Chicago radio legend Wally Phillips dies

Photo: Chicago Sun-Times

The undisputed king of Chicago morning radio from the 1960's to the 1980's has passed away at the age of 82.

Wally Phillips began his legendary Chicago radio career at WGN in 1956 and became the station's morning personality in 1965 and had the market's top rated morning show from 1968 until he left for afternoons in 1986. He retired from WGN in 1998 after an incredible 42-year run at the station (however, he did come out of retirement to do a weekly talk show for WAIT-AM a year later.)

To prove how powerful he was in this market, he attracted an average of 1.5 million each day at his peak. In 1986 -the last full ratings book in morning drive, he had a 15 share!

More recently, Phillips had been living in Naples, Fla. and had been battling Alzheimer's disease for the last four years.

Among his numerous accomplishments, Phillips was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1993 and the National Association of Broadcasters' Hall of Fame in 1997.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

This team is about as bad as the Orioles

Here's another Channel 2 that can't get arrested in news.

ABC affiliate WMAR-TV in Baltimore has been the long-time ratings laggard in this market. The Scripps-owned station hoped it could inject some ratings juice into the also-ran by switching from NBC to ABC in 1995.

The moves sent WJZ-TV to CBS (as part of a larger CBS-Westinghouse affiliation deal) and WBAL-TV back to NBC (it was a peacock network affiliate until 1981, when CBS had enough of WMAR's frequent pre-emptions of network programming and hooked up with WBAL.)

The same year, WMAR made the really smart decision not to renew The Oprah Winfrey Show (it landed on WBAL.)

The outcome? WJZ ratings remained constant, WBAL vaulted to the top of the ratings, and WMAR - is still in third place. The 5 p.m. newscast crown the station won when Oprah was its' lead-in? It went to WBAL.

But Scripps has a plan in place to make the station competitive again. Here's a story on how WMAR plans to get back into the race.

"Golden Girls" shift to Hallmark

The Golden Girls is shifting from long-time cable home Lifetime to the Hallmark Channel, effective early next year.

The off-network sitcom has been a constant performer on Lifetime, drawing new generations of viewers that never saw the program during its original seven-season run on NBC (1985-92.) However, ratings have been declining over the years, and Lifetime felt the program has run its course.

Girls had been airing on Lifetime since March 1997. Prior to that, Buena Vista Television (now Disney-ABC Domestic Television) had the program in broadcast syndication from 1990 to 1996, where it often ranked as the top-rated off-network sitcom.

"Family Feud" headed back to prime-time

For the first time in 25 years, Family Feud is headed to prime-time.

A celebrity edition of the syndicated game-show strip is being planned by Fremantle for NBC in prime-time, although it's being proposed as a series of specials. If you recall, ABC aired prime-time specials in the 1970's and 1980's, which pitted celebrity casts of shows for charity, i.e., The Eight Is Enough cast against The Love Boat cast. Another edition pitted members of the Philadelphia Phillies against the Kansas City Royals (in 1980, when both teams met in the World Series.)

Celebrity editions also popped up in the second incarnation of the series on both the CBS daytime version (1988-93) and in syndication (1988-95).

Most recently, a special WWE edition and a special NBA edition has aired on the current syndicated version.

Feud is currently in its tenth season in syndication, and is distributed by Debmar-Mercury. The first incarnation of Feud premiered in daytime on ABC in 1976 and in first-run nighttime syndication in 1977 (first as a weekly, then a nightly strip by 1979.) Both versions lasted until 1985.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"South Park" now available for streaming

More Cartman and Timmy than you bargained for. Not a bad thing.

No more going to iTunes and paying $2 for an episode (or getting it free from BitTorrent) - now every episode of South Park ever made is now available for streaming at a revamped, thanks to Comedy Central and the V of Doom (Viacom.)

Of course, there's the buffering problems and the pausing and the crashing and the such...

Pols not happy with DOJ approval of XM-Sirius merger

Some in Washington are not happy with XM-Sirius merger, with the FCC all but certain to approve the deal (Republican majority... hello?) Some politicians are angry with the Department of Justice's decision, while others think it is good deal.

Here is a Think Tank I wrote last year regarding the approval of the deal, and my support of it at the time. However, yours truly admits the Think tank was more of an anti-NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) piece than anything else. While some satellite radio fans support the merger, are they willing to possibly pay higher prices for their product and support advertising, particularly in an economy that's continuing to sink? The deal was approved with no conditions, which could mean the new company may not lower prices or offer a la carte service like they proposed to do if this merger happened.

Many listeners have also complained about Sirius' lackluster programming (outside of Howard Stern) and excessive DJ talk and XM's music channels, not to mention XM's Internet streams, which are not known for its quality.

Is the FCC willing this approve the deal for the sake of approving mergers? The FCC under the Bush administration has been known as anti-consumer and pro-corporate.

And if XM and Sirius are allowed to merge, who else? CBS and Clear Channel? Entercom and Cumulus? Direct TV and Dish Network? Comcast and RCN? In the media business, the days of a rivalry have long passed, especially when the bottom line is involved. The NAB and other groups will likely demand what remains of any government rules regarding media properties be thrown out. And if McClain gets into the White House, it is almost a certainty.

So, is the merger a good idea? We'll have to wait and see. If the new service becomes anything like terrestrial radio, then you know what the answer is. And if Mel Karmazin (one of those who helped destroy terrestrial radio) ends up running this combined company, then the answer will come sooner than we think.

And the Think Tank I wrote? Well, there's that "delete" button...

More on the Fox-KSWB deal

From The San Diego Union-Tribune's TV Critic Karla Peterson, and the San Diego Business Journal. Phil Rosenthal from the Chicago Tribune also weighs in.

Radio One bats out of L.A.

Radio One has sold its struggling Urban AC KRBV-FM to Bonneville for $138 million. The station, once known as Urban/Hip-Hop formatted The Beat (100.3, KKBT) has tumbled in the ratings over the years, flipping to a Urban AC format two years ago. With Bonneville taking over, a format change is all but certain, as Bonneville does not program urban formats.

In Chicago, Bonneville owns Hot AC WTMX-FM, Classic Rock WDRV-FM (The Drive), and whatever-the-heck-format WILV-FM is playing.

Monday, March 24, 2008

NBC buys, destroys, sells WTVJ

That's according to Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel TV Critic Tom Jicha, who is dead on correct about NBC, who bought WTVJ (a CBS affiliate) in 1987, switched its long-time affiliation from WSVN-TV two years later, then traded in a strong channel position (Channel 4) to CBS for a weak one (Channel 6) in 1995 so they can own WCAU-TV (another former CBS O&O) in Philadelphia.

And what became of WSVN you ask? Well, they hooked up with Fox, expanded local news, caught fire with American Idol, and has beaten WTVJ ever since. (click here and scroll up for my take on the WTVJ mess - and why it was CBS' fault as much as it was NBC's. And no, I do not live in Lincolnwood...)

Justice Department approves XM-Sirius merger

The Justice Department approved the XM-Sirius deal, which clears another hurdle for the two to hook up (only the FCC stands in the way now.)

It's official: KSWB to switch to Fox

It's official: Tribune's KSWB-TV - the market's San Diego CW affiliate (and former WB affiliate) will switch to Fox effective this August. It was a rumor branded around TV circles the last few weeks, after new Tribune boss Sam Zell mentioned in a video on the company's Baltimore Sun website (which has been since taken down) that he struck a deal with Fox to change KSWB's affiliation.

KSWB gains popular prime-time programming including American Idol, House, Family Guy (which the station already airs in syndicated repeats), and The Simpsons. KSWB also will re-launch a news operation instead on relying on outside sources. It has done so since 2005, when Tribune shut down its news department in a cost-cutting move.

KSWB signed on as KTTY (Channel 69) in 1984, and became a WB affiliate in 1995. Tribune has owned the station since 1996.

The deal means Fox is leaving XETV (Channel 6), a founding affiliate which was among the first outside the original six-station Metromedia group to sign on with the fourth network in 1986. In fact, XETV was the first Fox station in the country to "foxify", by creating an on-air identity known as "Fox 6". XETV is licensed across the border in Tijuana, Mexico and has a transmitter there, but the station's offices and studios are in San Diego. XETV is owned by Televisa/Entravision, while programming is handled by Bay City Television.

Tribune will now own seven Fox affiliates, including WXIN-TV in Indianapolis and WXMI-TV in Grand Rapids, Mich. Tribune will continue to own twelve CW affiliates, including WGN-TV in Chicago and WXIN's sister station in Indianapolis, WTTV. Despite disappointing ratings and reported dissension between the two, Tribune executives appear to be committed to The CW.

No word on where the CW will land in San Diego, or what future program plans XETV has on the horizon after Fox departs.

Deja Vu with an X

This is not the first time XETV has lost an affiliation. In 1972, XETV lost ABC to UHF outlet KCST-TV (Channel 39, now NBC-owned KNSD), after the FCC ruled that foreign stations over the border cannot transmit network programming from a border city when there was an American television station available and as a result, XETV became an independent. (What goes around, came around - unhappy with being forced onto an UHF station, ABC struck a deal to affiliate with then-NBC affiliate KGTV in 1977. The peacock network - in the Nielsen basement at the time - wound up on KCST.)

In 1994, XETV's Fox affiliation was threatened over live broadcasts of sporting events. Fox acquired rights to air NFL games that year, and FCC regulations prohibited foreign stations from airing live programs into the United States. XETV and Fox applied for and got waivers, but not without a legal challenge from KUSI-TV, which tried to wrest away Fox from XETV. The waivers later became permanent.

Thought: While it seems Fox is taking a step down by affiliating with a lower-rated station with a higher channel number at KSWB, this apparently is not the case - This is not the Fox-New World affiliation swap from 1994, when Fox scored a coup by affiliating with twelve VHF New World-owned Big Three network affiliates, which knocked those networks onto UHF dial positions in many markets, with CBS the hardest hit by losing longtime affiliates in Detroit, Cleveland, Atlanta, and Milwaukee, among others.

VHF and UHF won't matter in the digital age as analog broadcasting shuts down next year, with digital broadcasting's ability to deliver stronger and sharper pictures across the board. Plus, don't forget that the San Diego area has a very high cable and satellite penetration rate - Tribune brands KSWB as "CW5" (the cable channel the station occupies on most systems.) not "CW 69", its over-the-air analog channel number.

As a result, San Diego's UHF stations are very competitive with VHF outlets XETV, KFMB-TV (CBS) and KGTV. In fact - KNSD - on OTA Channel 39 and cable channel 7 - regularly wins the 11 p.m. news race. Louisville's WLKY-TV - on Channel 32 - is that market's top-rated station, ironically scoring ratings success after losing ABC to WHAS in 1990 and signing up with CBS. Louisville is another market with high cable penetration.

On the other hand, UHF network affiliates involved in the New World swap - notably local news-less KDNL-TV (ABC) in St. Louis and WWJ-TV (CBS) in Detroit, and well as WOIO-TV (CBS) in Cleveland and WGCL-TV (CBS) in Atlanta - have yet to enjoy overall ratings success.

Trivia: Instead of receiving programs via satellite, Fox and XETV had to rely on a "bicycling" arrangement from 1986-94 - i.e. physically delivering a program to a station, which was commonplace with first-run syndicated programming before the 1980's. Fox programming was transmitted via satellite to a U.S. receiving station, and tapes were made to physically transport across the border to XETV's facilities in Tijuana.

-Around 5:00a.m. every morning, XETV plays the American and Mexican national anthems before the start of the programming day, as well as technical information in English and Spanish. You can view a clip by clicking here.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

T Dog's Think Tank: Bashing the South Side

The last few topics I dealt with on the Think Tank involved Homer Simpson Jumping the Shark and Jim Belushi. Yikes. Now there's some issues that really require some thought. But this piece is a lot more serious, given I live here. I may step on a few toes, but I'm kind of pissed, and this must be told.

It seems the media has issues with Chicago's South Side, a place I'm proud to call home (until I move to L.A. and get this screenwriting career started - whenever that happens.) This part of town, as well as the south suburbs, and Northwest Indiana, doesn't get any respect from the media elite. To Big Media, these areas are portrayed as "the ghetto" (even the middle-and upper-class areas), because the residents are majority African-American and Hispanic. It's just another worn-out stereotype that's been used since the 1950's. Not even the Chicago White Sox's 2005 World Series Championship has changed that.

It's worst enough the local media only comes down here when there is an accident, shooting, murder investigations, and other mayhem. Now, the South Side is focus again, thanks to presidential candidate Barack Obama's pastor making controversial remarks - remarks that were made several years ago.

As you know by now, the recently retired Rev. Jeremiah Wright, pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in the Washington Heights neighborhood - about 3 miles from where I live no less - made controversial comments regarding race and America back several years ago. A video of him making those comments recently turned up on various media outlets - and the video were played over and over again on those cable news channels - mainly because Obama is his pastor, and he's running for president.

And predictably, some Chicagoans and others who don't live here - are having a field day bashing the South Side and the African-Americans who do. All you have to do is look at the comments made on the Chicago Tribune's website.

And that's not all. Take a look at any crime story from the Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times and click the comments section - they are filled with mostly racist dialog (recently, both the Sun-Times and Tribune have added "crime blotters" to their websites, officially cementing their papers as a joke.) In fact, just click on any story regarding the South Side - whether if it's building a shopping center in a middle-class black neighborhood or some person making a positive difference - it's the same thing.

And it's not just limited to the Chicago papers. Last summer, yours truly clicked on a story regarding a Chicago White Sox-Cleveland Indians game on The Sporting News website - again, more racist bashing of the South Side, this time from Indians fans. A few weeks later on the same site, many suburban Detroit residents decided to take their turn (guess they got tired of bashing their own city.)

Oh no, it's not just North Side Cub fans bashing the South Side anymore (at least they keep race out of it.) It seems to be the hip thing to do.

Stop. Just stop it. What the media doesn't tell you (or won't tell you) is that Chicago's South Side is filled with hard working and decent people who are trying to get by day after day in this game we call life. Many have strong, solid family values - as well as faith that keep them going, even through the toughest of times. They work to make their community and the world - a better place.

But Big Media doesn't care about that. The ministers of misinformation continue to stick it to minority communities, not only in Chicago, but across the country, by focusing on only the bad people who live there.

And of course, the simpletons lap it up. They rely on the misguided information the media puts out every day. Whether it's the yuks on the cable news channels, the network newscasts, or the comedians on right-wing talk radio, it's basically the same thing. They trust these people because they feel those guys know everything - which they usually don't. These simpletons don't have a mind of their own, anyway - they are always looking for someone to tell them what to do or what to think.

As for Trinity, the church does a lot of good things for people in the African-American community, such as AIDS awareness programs and canned food drives. Unfortunately, these actions don't sell newspapers, generate web site hits, or boost TV ratings.

So the media focuses on Rev. Wright's inflammatory comments because it sells. It's no different than a box of laundry detergent. Of course the cable news networks were going to run the clip over and over again - there's a hidden message the media wants to sink in to its audience. And we all know what that is. Racial harmony in this country? Nah, it won't sell. Hate? Hell, yeah! Sign me up for a thousand boxes of that!

Sadly, race and politics packaged together sells in this country, much like a combo meal at Happy Burger. Instead of a honest dialog regarding both, we get a mish-mash of sound bites, partisan commentary, and heat and emotion from both sides of the debate. It's something we know all too well in Chicago - all you have to do is look back at the awful media coverage of Harold Washington's mayoral campaign 25 years ago - not to mention the racially divided "Council Wars" of that era. The local media profited from "Council Wars", without providing any analysis or insight whatsoever.

The really sad part is, all of this reminds us how racially divided this nation still is. For example, a story on Girlfriends cancellation on a month or so ago featured commenters that were mostly divided among race - most African-Americans posters were mourning the death of the show (and blasting the networks for abandoning the African-American audience), while white posters were barely containing their glee. But apparently, having a voice of reason is too much to ask.

Of course, this is the agenda of Big Media - to incite and divide. This makes them more money - through higher ratings and increased web site hits. They don't care about the South Side of Chicago - or anywhere else for that matter. News is basically entertainment nowadays anyway - there is really no difference between the content of Sun-Times, Fox News,, and the National Enquirer.

Residents from all over the city complained about this and more at last year's FCC hearing at Operation PUSH. But some of the commissioners were so bored by all of this, they couldn't keep their selfish heads up (particularly FCC Chairman Kevin Martin.) Many African-Americans and Hispanics complained about how the local media covers their neighborhoods, but the complaints fell on deaf ears, as usual. If the FCC doesn't care, why should Big Media? (if the issue was indecency, I bet ya the FCC would wake up real quick!)

But at least there has been some improvement in the way the media handles urban issues. Last year, CNN and Anderson Cooper came to Chicago to try to get to the bottom of Chicago's high violence rate, especially among young people. As some of you recall, 16 year-old Blair Holt was gunned down on a CTA bus in Washington Heights nearly a year ago. Cooper came to town and reported on how Chicago residents were coping with violence in their neighborhoods day after day and how they were determined on stopping it. The stories were well done and were fair and balanced (take that, Fox News.)

ABC-owned WLS-TV in Chicago aired a half-hour special last spring regarding violence in Chicago communities - in prime-access no less, pre-empting the popular Wheel of Fortune for one night. It featured a round-table discussion on the escalating youth homicide rate, and trying to find solutions to the problem (CBS affiliate WOIO-TV in Cleveland also aired a similar special last year, though in a town-hall setting.)

It's a start, but more of this kind of coverage needs to take place in the media community, both of the local media level and the national media one.

Yours truly wonders if these controversies will hurt Chicago's image. I addressed these issues in a think tank last May, regarding Chicago's 2016 Olympic bid and the behavior of its residents and its "stars". A lot of people here, including yours truly, do not want to go back to the "Beirut on the Lake" days of the 1980's, when Chicago's racial divisions were wide out in the open for America to see. With race now front and center in the presidential campaign, are we headed down this path again, with America in tow? To answer this, here's a quote from a Simpsons episode titled "Marge vs. the Monorail", where in this scene, when the crowded Monorail train goes out of control, Homer (who's the conductor) asks this question to his son, Bart:

Homer: Are we gonna die, son?

Bart: Yeah, but at least we're going to take a lot of innocent people with us.

All aboard!

T Dog's Think Tank: The TV Hall of Shame

What happens when you move a late-night show into prime-time? Disaster. This was happened to NBC when those geniuses at the Peacock gave Jay Leno a weeknight prime-time show - a move panned by critics and audiences alike.

(Editor's Note: This was updated on 2011-04-20.)

Oh, hi. Didn't see you come in. Welcome to The T Dog Media Blog Hall of Shame. I'm Terence, your master of ceremonies, and I am here to welcome you to the horror! The stench! The horrible stale smell of bad TV!

You've heard of Me-TV? Welcome to Flee-TV.

Ted McGinley, our newest usher, is here to present you with a complimentary gift basket just for stopping by. In it, you'll receive a copy of Windows Vista; a gift certificate from Family Dollar, good toward a purchase of a HD-DVD player; a 20 ounce bottle of Diet Coke Plus; a red wig from the Wendy's "That's Right" ad campaign; and a DVD collection of wonderful video properties, featuring the movies Strange Wilderness and Meet the Spartans and the complete first season of Joey.

All right, let me show you around. Here in our hollowed halls of horrible, you'll find the bombs. The clunkers. The shows that just didn't make it, ideas that were ill-conceived, or programs that just basically stunk.

Questions? Yes, you in the back... Why only shows featured since 1979 are in the Hall of Shame? Because... well, if we included pre-1979 shows, it would be too much for all of you to handle! You don't want to pass out in here, now do you? (Besides, yours truly doesn't remember a lot of TV before then, since he was only 7 back then. Plus, think of the liability we would encounter...)

Besides, other places can handle that era better than I can, so if you want to see what Turn-On or You're in the Picture was all about, then you have to go somewhere else (pssst... or click this link.)

So, let's take a tour of terrible TV from the dumps of the Disco era to the terrible trud of today. Let's go!

These are ranked in no particular order...

The T Dog Media Blog TV Show Hall of Shame (post-1979 edition)

- Fred & Barney Meet the Schmoo (NBC, 1979) They didn't really meet. It was Flintstones cartoons paired up with Schmoo ones - before that, it was Fred & Barney Meet the Thing

- Makin' It
(ABC, 1979) An obsolete-the-day-it-came-out sitcom about a person who works at an ice cream shop by day, and becomes a disco dancer at night. And no, this show did not make it

- Hour Magazine (syndicated, 1980-89) Infotainment at its worst, hosted by personality repellent Gary Collins

- Thicke of the Night (syndicated, 1983-84) Alan Thicke hosted this supposed late night talk show

- Just Our Luck (ABC, 1983) This featured a genie who was black

- Rubik The Amazing Cube (ABC, 1983) Thank God the FCC stepped in to stop producers from basing Saturday morning cartoons on toys. One of the few things the agency has ever done right

- We Got It Made (NBC, 1983-84; syndicated 1987-88) Ironically, the syndicated version was somewhat better than the NBC one

- Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour (NBC, 1983-84) What happens when you pair two, two, two great game shows in one? One huge, unwatchable mess on the screen - and off (co-hosts Jon Bauman and Gene Rayburn did not get along)

- Brothers (Showtime, 1984-89) A groundbreaking show- it was the first sitcom made for pay cable and the first one to feature a major character who was homosexual. But groundbreaking doesn't necessarily equal a good show

- America (syndication, 1985) Daytime talk show featuring Sarah Purcell, McLean Stevenson, and Stuart Damon. Three months and $22 million down the drain later, this show was gone

- The Colbys (ABC, 1985-87) Dynasty spin-off, with the all-time soap opera clincher - Fallon abducted by a UFO

- Life With Lucy (ABC, 1986) Lucille Ball's short-lived comeback attempt

- She's the Sheriff (syndicated, 1987-89) The Sun-Times' Daniel Ruth once wrote about this show, "Suzanne Sommers returns to television. Who cares?"

- Geraldo (syndicated, 1987-98) Geraldo Rivera brings daytime TV into the sleazy era

- The Morton Downey Jr. Show (Syndicated, 1987-89) Mort shouted, screamed, and yelled into viewers' living rooms only to usher himself out when he fabricated a story about being attacked by skinheads in a restroom at a San Francisco airport.

- USA Today on TV (syndicated 1988-90) The most expensive flop in syndication history - all style, no substance

- Everyday With Joan Lunden (Syndicated, 1989-90) Joan Lunden was perky on Good Morning America, but audiences couldn't take no more than two hours of such nausea a day. Of note is this monstrosity was produced and even syndicated by Lunden's talentless ex-husband, Michael Krauss.

- Chicken Soup (ABC, 1989) Jackie Mason and Lynn Redgrave fall flat on this sitcom devoid of laughs

- New Kids on the Block (ABC, 1990), The Guys Next Door (NBC, 1990) and any other Saturday morning program based on a fictional or non-fictional music group (except The Banana Splits)

- Joker's Wild, Tic Tac Dough (syndicated, 1990-91) Two very horrid remakes of great game shows

- Cop Rock (ABC, 1990) A musical that didn't quite work out. Never, ever should be tried again. Will it?

- Into the Night with Rick Dees (ABC, 1990-91) Into the night and right into the trash can for this turkey of a late night talk show, hosted by L.A. disc jockey Rick Dees

- Johnny B. On the Loose (syndicated, 1991) Jonathan Brandmeier: Good disc jockey, bad TV show. Lasted just five weeks

- The Jerry Springer Show (syndication, 1991-) A given.

- Rhythm & Blues (NBC, 1992) Sitcom that was set at a radio station in Detroit. WKRP it wasn't.

- On the Air (ABC, 1992) A single-camera sitcom summer burn-off, it was off the air in three weeks

- The Jackie Thomas Show (ABC, 1992) with Tom Arnold

- The Chevy Chase Show (Fox, 1993) 29 episodes was more than enough for this clumsy late-night talk show

- South of Sunset (CBS, 1993) After one airing, this Glenn Frey crime drama went south quick

- The Drew Carey Show (ABC, 1995-2004) Like Drew, but not this show

- Suddenly Susan (NBC 1996-2000) Amazingly not to be confused with She's the Sheriff

- The Magic Hour (syndicated, 1998) Magic Johnson's talk show

- Maury (syndicated, 1998-) The crowd shouts, "Who's Your Daddy?" "Who's Your Daddy?" (not to be confused with his earlier effort, The Maury Povich Show)

- The Mike O'Malley Show (NBC, 1999) The dude from Nick's Get the Picture and GUTS and CBS' Yes, Dear - yes, it's the same guy

- XFL (NBC, TNN, UPN, 2001) From the infertile mind of Vince McMahon

- According to Jim (ABC, 2001-09) Disposable sitcom trash

- Around the Horn (ESPN, 2004-) Stars Jay Mariotti - enough said

- Life & Style (syndicated, 2004) This View rip-off featured four ladies (one of whom was Kimora Lee) who practically had no chemistry whatsoever on-screen and reportedly clashed with each other off-screen. What's amazing is with an average rating of 0.4, this clunker lasted a half a season before getting canceled

- The Larry Elder Show (syndicated, 2004) Or anything with this guy in it, and that includes Moral Court

- The Tony Danza Show
(syndicated, 2004-06) One word: Why?

- The War At Home (Fox, 2005-07) See According to Jim above

- Emily Reasons Why Not? (ABC, 2006) A sitcom dead after one airing. Yeah, why not?

- Show Me the Money (ABC, 2006) Insipid game show

- Dr. Keith Ablow (syndication, 2006) Another in the line of useless talk shows

- Flavor of Love (VH-1, 2006) Reality TV meets Jerry Springer

- Any "soap opera" that aired on My Network TV

- Anchorwoman (Fox, 2007) Two episodes + one airing+ zero ratings = quick cancellation

- Pirate Master (CBS, 2007) Survivor rip-off (and not a good one at that)

- Cavemen (ABC, 2007) An idea. How about a sitcom based on a TV commercial? Hey, it just might work!

- Kid Nation (CBS, 2007)
A reality show featuring kids. Where's social services when you need them?

- Viva Laughlin (CBS, 2007) See Cop Rock

- Merv Griffin's Crosswords (Syndicated, 2007-08) Yours truly liked this show, but poor production values, canned applause, and one episode where the day's champion won only -$250, lost the bonus round, and wound up going home with only a cheap watch qualifies this program to land here

- Crowned: The Mother of All Pageants (CW, 2007-08) And as if the real beauty pageants aren't bad enough

- Celebrity Apprentice (NBC, 2008) These "celebrities" are vying with each other in Donald Trump's dog-and-pony show for charity (what charity wants to be associated with this garbage?) to see who can make the biggest ass out of themselves.

- The Pussycat Dolls Presents: Girlicious (CW, 2008) Remember when The Pussycat Dolls were hot? It seemed like a long time ago, doesn't it?

- Secret Talents of the Stars (CBS, 2008) Huh? One and done

- I Survived a Japanese Game Show (ABC, 2008-09) Is it a game show? Is it a documentary? What the hell is it? Do you care what the contestants go through to be on a Japanese game show and hear them talk about it for fifteen minutes? Hell, no! We want to watch them compete, not sit around all day and whine about it... How about a show based on someone surviving watching this for an hour?

- Do Not Disturb (Fox, 2008) Shhh!! Do not disturb. If you do, this unfunny comedy might wake up and torture us. It was the first official cancellation of the 2008 fall season

- Momma's Boys (NBC, 2008) Three guys choose from 32 women with one catch - their mothers get involved in the decision! And one of them is prejudiced! Wow, television just doesn't get any better than this. Hey Seacrest, stick to six of your day jobs.

- Osbournes: Reloaded (Fox, 2009) A "preview" of a new TV series (which was pre-empted or delayed in 16 markets) featuring... kids dressed up as Ozzy and Sharon swearing; the Osbournes working a drive-thru; and an ambush wedding, all in 35 minutes. It's so outrageous, so bold, so daring... so who cares? Nobody else did.

- Sit Down, Shut Up (Fox, 2009) Who knew an animated series could suck so badly? Should've renamed it Capitol Critters II: The Awakening. The producer of Arrested Development struck out on this one.

- I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! (ABC, 2003; NBC, 2009) Should be retitled I'm A Viewer, Get Me Out Of Here! Another in a long line of useless reality shows.

- Brothers (Fox, 2009) This sitcom with Carl Weathers and Michael Strahan is unrelated to the 1984 Showtime series of the same name - except for the fact that they both suck.

- The Beautiful Life (CW, 2009). Not so beautiful given this drama lasted only two episodes

- Secret Girlfriend (Comedy Central, 2009) Here's the premise: "you" are the main character of this insipid sitcom where he/she follows two aerosol can-sniffing morons all day where he/she ends up at parties, watching women make out with each other, and listen to their female friends whine about everything. Makes "you" want to grab a shotgun and put these people out of misery. This show - hands down, is the worst television program of all time, even worse than According to Jim and My Mother The Car. Girlfriend lasted just six episodes, five more than necessary. 

- The Jay Leno Show (NBC, 2009-10)  History was made when NBC decided to move Jay Leno to primetime at 9 p.m. (CT), making his show the first network program to be stripped in the daypart in more than 50 years. History was also made when this show completely bombed in the ratings, thus rendering Leno's move to prime-time one of network television's biggest blunders. Leno has since returned to late night.

- Sons of Tucson (Fox, 2010) Three kids who live in Tuscon pay a complete stranger to be their father. Let the laughs begin.

- Monsters and Money in the Morning (WBBM-TV, 2010). A failure you can see a mile away, former radio stars and Comcast SportsNet morning show rejects Mike North and Dan Jiggetts come to CBS 2 with the same show - but adding Terry Savage and Mike Hedegus, making for really bad morning TV. The first local Chicago show to ever make the Shame.

- The Cape. (NBC, 2011) Dopey tripe about a guy who adapts the identity of his son's favorite superhero, The Cape.

- Perfect Couples
(NBC, 2011). The rom-com comes to TV. Can we send this back to the theater?

- The Paul Reiser Show (NBC, 2011) Oh, Paul. Did you really think you were funny, talented, and charming enough to headline your own sitcom, let alone a concert in the parking lot of the local Blain's Farm & Fleet? 

Well, that's it for the tour! For now. But hey, it doesn't end here. We here at the T Dog Media Blog TV Hall of Shame are always adding new items, so come back and visit... Remember our slogan: "The T Dog Media Blog TV Hall Of Shame. Where you will always find the worst crap from yesterday... and today." Thanks for coming!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Tribune puts Newsday up for sale

This moves comes after owner Tribune posted a fourth quarter loss of $78 million.

And among the suitors for the Long Island paper include: The publisher of the New York Daily News, Cablevision owner James Dolan (who is destroying the New York Knicks) and News Corp., whose Daily Rupert (a.k.a The Post) publishes rumors as fact.

CBS cancels "Jericho". Again.

And this time for good. So, where were ya, fans? Too busy scoring more peanuts, I guess... (or perhaps watching Jericho on BitTorrent or iTunes.)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

WMAQ launches new local magazine

NBC-owned WMAQ-TV is launching a brand-new local magazine program to air after Saturday Night Live, beginning March 29.

Titled 24/7, the new show is hosted by Catie Keogh and Billy Dec, and it features interviews with celebrities and local Chicagoans, providing "a fun, fresh approach to Chicago's unique blend of urban liveliness and Midwest charm" (think 190 North crossed with Upscale Chicago. )

Also joining in the festivities every week is Jamie Blyth, a former reality show contestant and co-author of the book Fear Is No Longer My Reality.

WMAQ aired a pilot episode of 24/7 December 31 (New Year's Eve), and aired webisodes at

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sports off broadcast TV in Detroit

Local broadcasts of Detroit Tigers, Pistons, and Red Wings games have been locked up by cable channel FSN Detroit for the next 10 years, keeping the games off of broadcast TV in the Motor City (unless their respective broadcast network partners - i.e. Fox with MLB, NBC with the NHL, etc. carries a game.) It also erases the possibility of the teams starting up their own cable sports network.

Pistons games will exclusive to FSN for the first time, while Red Wings games have been exclusive to the sports net since 2003. Ratings for the Pistons and Red Wings on FSN are very competitive with the broadcast networks' fare and outdraw both CW and My Network TV (thank you, writers' strike.)

At one time, some Tigers, Pistons, and Red Wings games aired on WKBD-TV, which pushed them aside because the station thought it would find greater success with UPN and The CW. Um, wrong.

WKBD was Detroit's Fox affiliate until 1994, when the New World-Fox affiliation swap sent Fox to WJBK-TV.

Ryan Baker jumps to Channel 2

In what may be the first of many moves among local television personalities, sports anchor Ryan Baker has jumped to CBS-owned WBBM-TV from NBC-owned WMAQ-TV. Beginning on April 14, he will anchor the sports on Channel 2's morning newscast and report on other newscasts.

NBC Universal puts two stations on the block

It's WTVJ in Miami and WVIT in Hartford that's being chopped off, while the network's Telemundo affiliate (WSCV-TV) won't be sold. The sale will leave NBC with just eight O&O's - the smallest of any network group.

Warning: Local news shakeup ahead

A big news anchor shakeup is in the works at Chicago's TV news stations. The ball got rolling last week when Mark Supplesa abruptly left WFLD-TV after rejecting a contract offer. In Feder's column today, he put in all in perspective, with several high-profile names involved in play:

- Diann Burns of WBBM-Channel 2 may lose her 10 p.m. anchor slot this summer. The decision to pay her $10 million over five years didn't exactly work out in the ratings or the bottom line.

- Allison Payne of WGN-Channel 9, who is currently sidelined because of a series of mini-strokes.

- Warner Saunders of WMAQ-Channel 5, whose rumors of retirement is swirling around more frequently.

Others though, may be looking to make high-profile moves:

- Patrick Elwood, who currently anchors WFLD's noon newscast.

- Anna Davlantes, a weekend news anchor at WMAQ, who could be in line for a new deal.

-Anchor seats at WBBM (with the death of morning anchor Randy Salerno) and WMAQ (a weekend morning anchor seat is vacant after the promotion of Rob Elgas to weekday mornings) are now wide open.

- Amy Jacobson, a reporter who isn't mentioned in the article, but the former WMAQ news anchor is playing the Garry Meier card - waiting around for the best offer, no matter how long it takes.

As they say in TV land - Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sci-Fi channel greenlights Battlestar prequel

NBC Universal's Sci-Fi channel has greenlighted several new projects, unveiled at their upfront presentation in New York City Tuesday. They include:

- A new prequel to Battlestar Galactica called Caprica, which is set fifty years before Galactica takes place. Galactica concludes its run this year.

- True Beliver, a two-hour backdoor pilot from executive producer Rosario Dawson (a noted sci-fi fan) and David Atchison, who she authored a comic book with. In the pilot, a comic-book geek hooks up with a real-life superhero to save the world.

- 30 Rock's Tracy Morgan also has signed a deal with Sci-Fi to host Scare Tactics.

- Sci-Fi is also expanding its web offerings to its tech-savvy viewers, via its site. Included in the festivities are new offerings in gaming and technology, plus improved streaming video playbck.

Real or rumor: New San Diego Fox affiliate?

This Sam Zell video posted on Trib-owned Baltimore Sun's website (click on "Sam 5" to see video) may hint at a possible affiliation switch for KSWB, going from CW to Fox (why are they still called KSWB to begin with?) So what happens to current Fox affiliate XETV based in nearby Tijuana, Mexico? It could be deja vu all over again (the FCC forced ABC to disaffiliate with XETV in 1972 because of its Mexican location.)

And what about Tribune's allegiance to the CW? Can they find the green network another home (by perhaps buying KUSI-TV?) Will this happen? Or is this rumor? Stay Tuned.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Syndication Box

- Wizards Rule: Disney-ABC Domestic Television has cleared Wizard's First Rule in 84 percent of the country, including all top 50 markets, i.e., the 50 largest metro areas in the country - essentially making it a "firm go". To see a complete list of station groups airing the show this fall, click here (locally, Wizard's will air on WGN-TV.)

This marks the first scripted hour to air in first-run syndication since MGM's She Spies debuted in 2002. For Disney-ABC, it is their first scripted hour show in syndication since Land's End and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids in the 1990's, when it was known as Buena Vista Television.

- Meanwhile, NBC Universal has sold off-network weekend runs of House and Monk to 99 percent of the country, with WFLD-TV clearing them both locally. Fox O&O's in New York and Los Angeles nabbed House, while NBC O&Os in those two same markets (WNBC and KNBC) nabbed Monk.

- Twentieth's Boston Legal has been sold in 92 percent of the country for a fall 2008 launch for weekend runs (WLS-TV will carry the show locally.) This deal is separate from the one made last month with ION Television, which enables the former PAX network to strip the show five days a week.

High Court to hear indecency case

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the fleeting profanities case, with pits the major networks against the FCC. So we'll finally see if we truly live in the home of the free and the brave or if we live in China.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Another reason to cancel your cable subscription

Besides the cable news channels and Chris Berman:

MTV greenlights Paris Hilton reality series, titled Paris Hilton's My New BFF.

A Bachelor knockoff clearly targeted for the "whatever" generation. Don't know what BFF stands for (code word for slave, perhaps? Yeah, the "winner" of this show gets to work on the Paris plantation - what a prize!), but I'm betting the last two letters stands for what the "winner" is likely to get: f'd over.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Comcast Sportsnet to air classic Blackhawks game

Here's something you won't find on ESPN Classic (and that's not a bad thing): A classic Blackhawks game featuring the Golden Jet, Bobby Hull.

The game from Dec. 11, 1971 features Hull and two other Blackhawk legends - Stan Mikita and goalie Tony Esposito, will air Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet. Their opponent was the Toronto Maple Leafs and was broadcast from Maple Leaf Gardens. It was originally broadcast on CBC and was televised in black-and-white (yes, in 1971. CBC didn't have a full-color schedule until 1974 - eight years after the U.S. networks went to broadcasting their entire prime-time schedules in color.)

There's also going to be pre-game, post-game, and intermission interviews.

Recently, the three Hockey Hall of Famers returned to the Blackhawks organ-i-zation as goodwill ambassadors. Hull and Mikita were honored at a recent home game.

Official Comcast SportsNet press release

South Bend PBS station may go all-digital

WNIT, a PBS station in South Bend, is asking the FCC permission to broadcast only in digital after the station's broken-down analog transmitter sputtered out for good on Wednesday.

The transmitter broke down last month, when one of two tubes which fed the station's audio and video feeds stopped working. The feed was rerouted to the station's other tube, which forced the station to operate at reduced power. When that tube broke down, the station's analog signal was forced to go off the air (WNIT's digital signal, which is carried by cable and satellite providers, wasn't affected.)

With the digital switchover taking place on February 17 of next year, WNIT felt fixing the analog transmitter (which would be obsolete by then) wouldn't make sense. Viewers without cable can still get the station's signal by buying a digital converter box, which is sold in most electronic stores. Government coupons can help cut the price down to next-to-nothing for consumers in most cases.

Viewers flock to cable premieres

Bravo's new season of Top Chef - shot on location here in Chicago - was a big hit with viewers. Airing Wednesday night at 9 p.m., the season premiere of the cooking contest nabbed 2.2 million viewers - up 11 percent from last season.

However, Top Chef was topped by the season premiere of South Park and the series premiere of Lewis Black's Root of All Evil. South Park drew 3.1 million viewers and came close to outdrawing CW's America's Next Top Model in adults 18-49. Park was up 11 percent from last October's premeire.

Evil grabbed 2.3 million viewers and it won its time slot in key young male demos. And yes, the new show is already causing controversy, and not for taking on Oprah (and no, that's not me making the comments in Alex Weprin's blog.)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

"TMZ" gets new slot - and channel

Katie, Brian, and Charles: you met your match.

Beginning Monday, Harvey Levin's syndicated celebrity gossip paparazzi show TMZ will face off against network newscasts in Chicago with the show moving to 5:30 p.m. on Fox-owned WFLD-TV. The program currently airs on sister station WPWR-TV at 6:30 p.m.

TMZ will continue to air at 11:35 p.m. on WFLD.

Fox-owned stations in New York (WNYW) and Los Angeles (KTTV) already air the Warner Bros. - syndicated magazine directly against the network newscasts with some measure of success. TMZ airs in those two markets at 6:30 p.m.

The moves are being made due to the arrival of Everybody Loves Raymond at WPWR and four other My Network TV stations owned by Fox (WWOR in N.Y., KCOP in L.A., KDFI in Dallas, and KTXH in Houston.) The off-network sitcom is moving from Tribune stations in these markets.

Raymond is airing at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. on WPWR beginning Monday. Fox is also moving Malcolm in the Middle to WPWR (a move long overdue), where it will air at 5:30 p.m. - the same time period where it has aired on WFLD since 2004. Still Standing (a former CBS sitcom) moves to 6:30 p.m. from 5 p.m. on WPWR.

Raymond is also airing Saturdays at 6:30 p.m. on WFLD, while Malcolm gets a second weekday airing at 7:30 a.m.

The moves leave King of the Hill, Seinfeld, and The Simpsons as the only off-network sitcoms left on WFLD's weekday schedule, as the station is moving more toward news, court, and reality programming, while WPWR is being positioned more for recent off-network sitcoms and first-run talk and game shows.

At one time, WFLD's early-evening (or early fringe and access) lineup consisted of off-network sitcoms such as Happy Days, Gimme A Break!, Diff'rent Strokes, The Cosby Show (which it paid a record $105,000 an episode for), Family MattersHome Improvement, and M*A*S*H.

Will WFLD launch a early fringe news show in the future like many other Fox-owned stations have done? Only time will tell.

And if you think slotting TMZ at 5:30 p.m. between two airings of The Simpsons is - well - odd, think of TMZ as a comedy show itself - if you've seen it, then you know what I mean.

"Rachael Ray" out at WABC? (updated 2)

The New York ABC-owned station is considering axing the program from its 10 a.m. time slot due to mediocre ratings, according to this article in the New York Post. Or is it because ABC parent Disney wants to reclaim the time period for its own fare (remember Wayne Brady's and Tony Danza's talk shows? Works of masterpiece right there.)

If WABC axes Ray, other ABC O&O's (like WPVI in Philadelphia) could follow. One problem though: Ray is signed with the group until 2010.

But it turned out the story was false. A spokeperson from CBS Television Distribution who handles Ray said there's no truth to the rumor.

A little nitpick here: In the Post article, it says that King World is producing Marie Osmond's new talk show for fall 2009.

Um, geniuses: 1). It's Program Partners producing Marie Osmond's new show, not King World. 2) King World changed its name to CBS Television Distribution last year. 3.) CBS is in talks with Valerie Bertnelli for her own talk show in fall 2009, and she's made regular appearances om Rachael Ray this season.

Then, you wonder if any of what the Post said is really true (it wasn't). Rachael Ray is actually winning its time slot on WABC.

Of course, if the New York version of the Chicago Sun-Times didn't spend all its time attacking Family Guy, then maybe they would get something right. But what else you expect from The Daily Rupert?

updated 11:37 p.m. on 2008-03-15

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Black TV crew attacked in South Carolina

A crew from CBS affiliate WSPA-TV in Spartanburg, S.C. were attacked by four people while reporting on a homicide story. The attackers also used racial slurs.

The incident happened Monday in Union, S.C., where WSPA reporter Charmayne Brown and the cameraman, both African-American, were reporting on a homicide case across the street from the family's home, when members of the family confronted the crew and asked them to leave. When they refused, the family members attacked Brown with fists and used racial slurs. The camerman and several other bystanders intervened. The incident was caught on camera by a rival station, NBC affiliate WYFF-TV.

All four, who are white, have been arrested in the attack.

The homicide case involved the murder of 73-year old Tommy Howell, who was found dead in his home Monday morning. The grandson (Michael Shane Howell) was arrested in the case.

WSPA is owned by Media General, while WYFF is owned by Hearst-Argyle. Both stations serve the Greenville (S.C.)-Spartanburg (S.C.)-Ashville (N.C.) market, whose DMA is ranked 36th. The market is also home to Sinclair's ABC affiliate WLOS-TV (based in Ashville) and Meredith's Fox affiliate WHNS-TV.

Hulu's here

On Hulu, this Family Guy moment is presented to you by Chevrolet.

NBC Universal and News Corp. are finally opening up its video-streaming service Hulu to the public today, after nearly five months in private beta.

Hulu features TV programs from NBC Universal and Fox parent News Corp., not to mention other content providers, including the NBA, MGM, Sony, Lionsgate, and Warner Bros. Television. Shows being streamed include current series such as Family Guy, The Simpsons, and House, and classics such as The A-Team, Bewitched, and The Bob Newhart Show.

Not all content providers are on aboard however, as the company with the biggest television library (CBS) is not on board, and neither is Viacom or Disney/ABC.

Full-length movies are also available to stream, including Ice Age and The Jerk.

Meanwhile, Hulu is hoping the advertising is has on its site is aimed to engage viewers, not annoy them (though the ad bugs on-screen might be a bad idea... )

Radio's Renaissance

It looks like the NBA, NHL, and the Chicago Blackhawks aren't the only ones having a renaissance - According to Kurt Hanson, radio is having one, too (and the recent AOL-CBS Internet radio streaming deal cements that point.)

Maybe radio isn't dead after all - you know, unlike the Bulls' current season.

Lee Abrams joins Tribune

XM it seems can't catch a break: first, AOL Radio dumps them for CBS, and now Lee Abrams - who has been with XM since 1998 - has jumped to Tribune as Chief Innovation Officer (no, I am not making this up), where he will report to Randy Michaels, who is Tribune's chief executive of broadcasting and interactive.

Abrams, who is a Chicago native, once worked for album-rocker WLUP-FM, and is credited for spearheading the format. Abrams also gave Chicago radio legend Steve Dahl and nationwide radio star Howard Stern their first jobs in broadcasting.

Jacobson: "Law & Order" episode no laughing matter

An episode of tonight's Law & Order: a reporter, looking to get to the bottom of a story regarding a man suspected of killing his wife, shows up at one point in the episode with a bathing suit on.

Sounds familiar?

To Amy Jacobson, it does. All too familiar, and she's not pleased about it.

Tonight L&O features Chicago native Lara Flynn Boyle as a reporter, who according to the preview from NBC, "uses her sexuality to break the case".

As many of you recall, former WMAQ-TV reporter Amy Jacobson was spotted by a crew from WBBM-TV last July at Craig Stebic's house wearing a bikini. Stebic is a suspect in his wife's Amy disappearance. Jacobson lost her job shortly thereafter.

Jacobson blasted Law & Order and creator Dick Wolf in today's Sun-Times, saying the episode is "a reminder of the high price I had to pay for doing my job. Hollywood takes things like this out of context all the time." She has no plans on watching the show.

So, its been eight months since she's been out of work and apparently, she's still not all the wiser. And certainly, if Law & Order and Wolf has to rely on "ripped from the headlines" stories to get plots for his program (which is in its eighteenth season), then we all know this program has run out of ideas. But it's all about surpassing Gunsmoke for the longest-running drama of all time, right? Keep in mind The Simpsons (an animated comedy) still has a step ahead of Wolf & Co. in the race with Gunsmoke for longest-running scripted program of all time.

Classic Post: What was she thinking? (July 10, 2007)

T Dog's Think Tank: Local media blows it again (July 15, 2007)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Comcast, Big Ten Network near deal

It's too late for the just-about-to-conclude college basketball season, but Comcast and the Big Ten Network are close to a deal that would put the new college sports net on its extended basic package.

Comcast recently dropped a provision in its stance, stating BTN was a "niche" channel, and should be regulated only to a sports tier. Currently, BTN is not available on Comcast, Time Warner, Charter, or Mediacom cable systems.

But if a deal with Comcast is achieved, the channel could be in place just in time for the Big Ten football season this fall, plus it could also thaw negotiations between the other cable company holdouts.

Already, BTN is available on Dish Network and Direct TV, and on Chicago RCN and WOW cable systems. BTN is also available on WOW systems in Ohio and Michigan.

Ladies and Gentlemen, let the speculation engines begin

So where is the world is Mark Supplesa going to end up next? Channel 2? Channel 5? Channel 9? CLTV? (One can only hope not.)

The speculation engines are revving up and circulating on where the news anchor, who rejected a generous offer from Fox-owned WFLD-TV, is going to land next.

Supplesa is planning to stay in the Chicago market, but where he lands is not going to be known for at least ninety days, since any offer he gets Fox can match in that time frame.

Given that, his agents are in no hurry to secure an offer from competitors.

So as they say in television land, Stay Tuned.

Sports ratings going up, up, and away

Maybe its the writers' strike. Maybe its the Cubs' post-season run. Maybe its the Blackhawks' resurgence. Maybe its the Celtics and Lakers making noise in the NBA playoff race. Maybe its the hugely successful NFL post-season. Whatever it is, sports is gaining viewers from a year ago, and all sports are benefiting.

Even a Cubs exibition game from nine days ago set a spring-training record for Comcast SportsNet Chicago on March 1 - a 2.0 rating, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The NBA and the NHL have seen rating gains from a year ago, with the NBA up 9 percent in households, with ESPN and TNT also showing gains in households and in male demos. The NHL is up 26 percent in total viewers on NBC and up 30 percent on Versus, to a point where hockey is even outdrawing the numbers it had on ESPN, despite limited distribution.

This comes as viewers sought seeking alternatives to reruns and reality shows on the networks, impacted by the recently concluded writers' strike.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Suppelsa out at WFLD

Mark Suppelsa who is co-anchor of Fox-owned WFLD-TV's 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. newscast, has stepped down.

No word was given on why Mr. Suppelsa is leaving the broadcast, but he recently rejected a four-year renewal pact from the station.

Suppelsa came to WFLD-TV in 2003 from NBC-owned WMAQ-TV, where he started on the noon newscast, then was promoted to 9 p.m. a year later, where he has anchored alongside Robin Robinson. He replaced long time vet Walter Jacobson.

This is a huge blow to WFLD's struggling news operation, which trails WGN's and unlike other Fox-owned stations and Fox affiliates in the rest of the country, is unable to benefit from its' parent networks successful prime-time line-up, which is anchored by American Idol.

No word on the next move for Suppelsa (start your speculation engines.)

"Price" 2, "Deal" 0

The Price Is Right did it again Friday night, giving away another one million dollars on its Million Dollar Spectacular prime-time special, when a contestant came within $500 of the retail price in the Showcase Showdown.

Meanwhile, the hapless louts over at Deal or No Deal have yet to give anyway a million on their program, despite having thirteen million dollar cases on a few shows. Since the mission ended, ratings have dropped substantially (hey, you live by the gimmick, you die by the gimmick.)

So what's the biggest news at Deal they can muster out? Going to three overseas countries to do episodes for the sets of their versions of Deal for May sweeps. Whoopee. Nothing compliments your show better than paying a visit to the set where they rip your version off (but producer Endemol doesn't mind. They license the format around the world.) Then again, isn't Deal's format based on the British version (sans the models and goofy gimmicks?)

When they do leave, let's hope Deal goes overseas and never comes back (the models can stay, though.)

UPDATE: Saw an NBC promo this evening touting Deal as "The Most Watched Show on TV". Guess they haven't heard of a show called American Idol. L. O. to the freakin' L.

This is like Power 92 (WPWX-FM) saying they are really Number One In The Streets (again, L.O. to the freakin' L.)

My guff, how desperate can you get? They should change Deal Or No Deal to Desperate Deal, with NBC President Ben Silverman as host and NBC Universal Chairman Jeff "Doogie" Zucker as The Banker.

updated 7:30 p.m. on 2008-03-10

New links added

Some things have been changed on the sidebar at The T Dog Media Blog:

-Since the Writer's Guild strike is over (thankfully), I have taken down the WGA Strike Central section, but several of those links have relocated to the sidebar: Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood Daily blog has been added, as well as The Hollywood Reporter and Variety.

- As a thank you for Larz (who runs for adding my blog to his sidebar on his blog, I've returned the favor and added his new CRM Blog to my sidebar.

- Remember the T Dog Think Tank I wrote back in October regarding television's worst shows? No? Good. The article is in the process of being rewritten (hey, I could've written it better than that!) and will be prominently featured on the sidebar. The post will also be constantly updated with latest inductees (such as Celebrity Apprentice.)

- I've added a new section regarding the upcoming television digital transition, which takes place February 17, 2009. So far, I have added, and more links will be added as soon as they become available.

- I'm also in the process of adding links to websites featuring Chicago's television and radio history. You'll see them here soon.

I hope the changes will make the place more fun and reflective of media in Chicago and the Midwest. Your visits to the site are always appreciated.

Friday, March 07, 2008

AOL, CBS Radio team up

XM ends partnership with AOL, launches new online radio initiative

CBS Radio and AOL struck a major deal Friday, which allows AOL to stream all CBS-owned radio stations on its Internet Radio service. The deal will mesh CBS-owned radio stations with AOL's existing radio stations, and it also calls for CBS to create custom radio stations exclusively for the Internet.

CBS is also developing a new player for AOL listeners, which will enable listeners to toggle between stations, rate songs, buy albums, link to artists' web sites, and even purchase concert tickets.

AOL will have access to Chicago's terrestrial CBS radio stations, including sports talk WSCR-AM (The Score), Triple A-formatted WXRT-FM, rhythmic/hip-hop outlet WBBM-FM (B96) and new AC station WCFS-FM (Fresh 105.9)

Other stations available to AOL listeners include legendary Oldies station WCBS-FM in New York, alternative rocker KROQ-FM in Los Angeles, and urban-formatted WVEE-FM in Atlanta, plus several JACK radio stations, including WJMK-FM in Chicago.

CBS will sell adtime for the online stations using CBS TargetSpot, with commercials differing from their terrestrial counterparts.

Read the official press release from CBS Radio

What about XM?

As a result of the CBS deal, XM has opted out of its contract with AOL, effective May 1. On that date, XM channels will no longer be available on AOL's website. Instead, XM has decided to re-launch its own online radio service, named XM Radio Online.

XM will stream 80 channels of commercial-free music, along with exclusive content from Bob Dylan, Oprah Winfrey, and Opie & Anthony.

Customers who sign up for the internet service get a fourteen-day free trial and afterward, pay just $2.99 a month for the first six months.

Analysis: Trading in commercial-free XM channels for Eddie & Jobo? What a bum deal! (it's worst enough I have to see the two old geezers in those insurance commercials on TV.) While it seems like a huge victory for terrestrial radio, it actually may help Internet Radio. AOL's deal with the enemy (CBS Radio) is better for them than one with XM, given one company is obviously in better financial shape than the other. XM is in the process of merging with Sirius, and the future of both (and satellite radio in general) is quite unclear. It's still not known whether or not the FCC will approve the deal.

One could wonder however, what the CBS/AOL deal means for RIAA and Sound Exchange, which has been seeking bigger royalties from Internet streamers. They could go after the two for a even bigger payday.

Also, are AOL's XM Internet listeners - many of them who left terrestrial radio for the greener pasture of commercial-free stations - stick around? With plenty of choices on the Internet - including lots of commercial-free stations, many of them (like me) will likely leave AOL. But those listeners will be replaced by a lot of CBS Radio ones, many of them are quite loyal to their outlets (with WXRT as an example.)

CBS is willing to bet the farm on Internet radio with AOL. It's a bet worth taking.

Rant: You think I was going to let this deal go without criticizing it a little? As for yours truly - is he ticked that XM decided to move its Internet channels to a pay platform, knowing damn well you can get other Internet stations without commercials for free? Is he ticked AOL sold out to CBS Radio, a group known for its cookie-cutter formats and annoying radio personalities? Is he ticked that AOL is moving to an advertising-supported format? You bet. Thank goodness for those other choices. Have fun with your new best friends Eddie & Jobo, AOL.

The business side of me says this is a good deal. The Internet radio fan side of me says this deal completely blows. Now I know what a person who eats Frosted Mini-Wheats for breakfast feels like.