Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New Tribune design brings yawns

The Chicago Tribune redesigned its paper yesterday, and it brought about as much excitement as another Oakland Raiders coaching change.

According to ChicagoBusiness.com, 72 percent of those polled by the site did not like the new look of the Tribune, while 81 percent said the new redesign made it no easier to find stories. (The comments section of the linked story have been mostly negative.) 60 percent of the respondents think the new design would actually make them cancel their subscriptions.

The new version of the paper is thinner and uses bigger photos on the front page and combines several sections into one. For example, you can find the Editorial pages and the Obituaries in the Business section.

The moves are being made to cut costs as the newspaper industry is being battered by declining ad revenue and circulation, as more and more readers are getting their news via the Internet.

Yours truly actually thought the redesign was pretty good, which now has more color illustrations and photos than the old version of the paper. But the elimination of pages and some sections (namely "Tempo") leaves little to be desired. And a story in Live! on Jerry Springer's talk show (which despite ultra-low ratings, somehow manages to stay on the air?) Come on Trib, this isn't 1998 - but at least it isn't another Oprah article...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Mike North, Dan Jiggetts team up

The Monsters are back - this time on TV.

Former WSCR-AM sports stars Mike North and Dan Jiggetts are teaming up to launch a new morning talk show on Comcast SportsNet titled Monsters in the Morning, debuting on the regional sports network in January.

The program is scheduled to run from 6 to 9 a.m.

North and Jiggetts were paired together on WSCR for eight years with The Monsters in the Midday radio show. North left WSCR in a contract dispute this summer, while Jiggetts does Bears-related programming on CSN and part-time sports on Fox-owned WFLD-TV's newscasts.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Stebics hit WBBM-TV with lawsuit

As what Amy Jacobson did a few weeks ago, the Stebic family has now followed "suit" with a suit of their own.

Craig Stebic and his family filed suit against CBS and its owned TV station here (WBBM-TV) and a couple of principals involved, including GM Joe Ahern and news director Carol Fowler. Also named in the suit was anchor Rob Johnson and reporter Alita Guillen.

Stebic's sister Jill (Webb) and her husband Robert filed suit in Cook County suit against the broadcaster for $40,000, charging the station has presented their relationship with former WMAQ-TV reporter Amy Jacobson was "false, malicious, and illegal" and also claimed the fiasco has suffered "severe emotional distress". The video created an impression that Jacobson and her children were attending a "pool party" at the Stebic house.

As you recall, on July 6, 2007, Jacobson appeared at the Stebic house to interview Craig Stebic about his missing wife, Lisa, which many suspect he had a hand in. Jacobson appeared at the Stebic house in a bikini - which was secretly videotaped by a neighbor and handed over to WBBM-TV, which aired the footage. Jacobson was subsequently fired from WMAQ.

So they're suing The Church of Tisch for only $40,000? That amount won't even cover their house payment. But it more than covers minister Ahern's marble showers and expensive lunches. If CBS is liable, look for The Church of Tisch to ask their congregation for another "mandatory donation".

The T Dog Media Blog Archive: What was she thinking?

T Dog's Think Tank: Local media blows it again

Friday, September 26, 2008

"Do Not Disturb" checks out

If you had Do Not Disturb in your pool as the first program to be canceled this new season, you win! Fox officially dropped the Faulty Towers rip-off after three episodes. The program starred Jerry O'Connell and Niecy Nash (and where do outlandishly bad TV shows go when they are canceled? They head to The T Dog Media Blog TV Hall of Shame!)

For comparison's sake, let's look back at 1978. Back then not one, but two sitcoms were practically tied with each other as the season's first fatalities. NBC canceled The Waverly Wonders after three episodes, which featured Joe Namath as a high school basketball coach who led his hapless team to defeat every week (much like in the ratings.) Meanwhile, ABC pulled the plug on Apple Pie at the same time. It was a sitcom set in 1933 Kansas City featuring Rue McClanahan as a woman who wants a family. So what does she do? She places an ad in the classifieds. Don't ask what she ended up with. Like Wonders, Pie also lasted three episodes.

Here's another sitcom stinker yours truly remembers because he actually watched it - The Trouble With Larry, a forgettable 1993 CBS sitcom with Bronson Pinchot and Courtney Cox. It too lasted three episodes.

And you thought sitcoms have changed in thirty years.

Spike O'Dell exits WGN-AM

It was speculated in July, it's now official: Spike O'Dell is leaving WGN-AM morning drive effective at the end of the year. No word on a replacement, but there is speculation WGN may hire two people to replace Spike O'Dell next January.

Like his predecessors (Wally Phillips and Bob Collins), Spike O'Dell's has owned WGN's morning slot in Chicago, finishing first in every book.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag

- NBC's new remake of Knight Rider couldn't start the car with a lackluster third place finish in adults 18-49. Maybe they should have remade My Mother, the Car instead? (Oh God, no!)

- Oxygen has acquired the exclusive cable rights to reruns of America's Next Top Model, currently on MTV. The move takes place in January, when the show begins its second cable cycle.

- Remember earlier when yours truly said David Letterman hasn't been funny in the last twelve years? It looks like the streak has been broken. Wow, what a rant! And he goes after him again on Thursday! Right on, Dave. Who does McCain think he is? Jay Mariotti?

- An article about Lisa Simpson saving the environment. When she talks about pollution, you think she's referring to rival Family Guy?

- Important news here: WGN-AM and the Chicago Tribune are hosting a live, two-hour special live on the station this Friday regarding the current financial crisis. Titled "Your Voice, Your Money", WGN host John Williams and a panel of financial experts talk about what the current crisis means for you. Listeners can submit their questions to johnwilliams@wgnradio.com. The special runs from Noon to 2 p.m. on WGN and shown live on the station's website.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

More on Feder's departure

- In today's column, Feder posts the letters reacting to his departure. Among those paying their tributes include Jay Marvin, former Chicago newsman Jim Ruddle, Sun-Times and Electronic Media (now TV Week) alumnus P.J. Bednarski, and former WBBM-FM radio personality Terry Foxx.

- Larz has a very thoughtful tribute to Feder on his Chicagoland Radio and Media blog. A very good read- check it out.

- Carol Marin also pays tribute to Feder in the Sun-Times today. It's a very intersting article as she notes about how Feder replaced Gary Deeb (another one of my influnces) on the media beat at the Sun-Times. Deeb (or "dweeb" as some would call him) went on to do commentaries and media reports for WLS-TV in the mid-1980's.

WGN-TV names new GM

And her name is Marty Wilkes and as of today, she loses the "interim" part of her title as vice president and general manager of WGN-TV, Tribune's CW affiliate here in Chicago. Wilkes succeeds Tom Elhamnn, who left for a similar gig at NBC-owned KXAS-TV in Dallas.

Wilkes has been at WGN since 1996, rising to local sales manager in 2001 and received another promotion in 2002 when she became director of sales.

Recently, Wilkes oversaw WGN's news expansion to 11:30 a.m. and to 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

More on "Dr. Oz"

In the same Feder column from today, Fox-owned WFLD-TV (as well as WNYW-TV in New York and KTTV in Los Angeles) have purchased Dr. Oz from Sony Pictures Television for next fall. WFLD plans to air the show at 4 p.m. as a lead-in to a planned 5 p.m. newscast that could also launch next fall. Oz would replace syndicated repeats of Cops and King of the Hill, which currently occupy the hour.

WFLD has been talking about an early fringe newscast basically forever - only to see WGN-TV beat them to it by launching a 5:30 p.m. news show earlier this month.

Robert Feder to step down (updated)

I was stunned and a bit saddened when I read that Robert Feder was stepping down from his longtime position on the TV/Radio beat after 28 years at the Chicago Sun-Times to take a buyout. The Sun-Times offered employees who worked there more than 25 years a full year of pay and benefits and Feder took them up on the offer.

Feder, along with Marc Berman of Mediaweek and Aaron Barnhart of the Kansas City Star and TV Barn, are always must-reads for me every day and all three have profound influences on me and this blog basically because of their vast knowledge of the media business.

I've been reading Feder since I was eleven and his column was always the first I would read when I picked up the Sun-Times. Feder extensively covered local radio and television in a unique way. Though some didn't like his assessment of the industry (including some anchors, radio personalities, executives, and so forth), and I sometimes disagreed with him on a few issues, Feder was always honest and fair - and he told it like it was.

One of my favorite columns I would look forward to was his year-end roundup of radio and TV. It contained some rather wild items, including two from 1986 in which Joe Ahern (then GM of WLS-TV) was called a "cross-dresser" and a "Nazi" by Joan Rivers after he canceled her appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show and a former salesman from NBC affiliate KING-TV in Seattle drove his car through the station's front doors - which was done earlier by a disgruntled job applicant.

One thing he admitted in his column today is the media business hasn't been fun to cover lately (especially radio), and the cutbacks in the newspaper industry has hurt the viability of those who cover the TV/radio beat, as some papers have axed it. If you've noticed, television critics have vanished from newspapers in Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Seattle, Phoenix, Indianapolis, and Las Vegas, among others.

Feder basically provided insight into local radio and television stations and into local media personalities like no one else could. It was a dream of his to cover the industry he has religiously followed since childhood, and his columns have helped me gained an understanding of what goes on in this business as well as a look into the inner workings of radio and television - an interest this media geek has had since I was little. If it wasn't for his columns - this blog and my interest in media - wouldn't exist. Chicago was fortunate to have Feder on the media beat.

The only thing left to say to Rob Feder is: Thank you for having a great influence on my interest in radio and television. It's going to strange not reading your column every Tuesday through Friday morning. You will be missed.

Robert Feder. A class act all the way.

Updated 11:50 p.m. on 2008-09-24

Monday, September 22, 2008

Who's in your four, Edition 6

This is retroactive to last week (I'll post this week's edition on Friday), so here it goes:

T Dog's Fabulous Four

- The Insider cans Pat O'Brien. He was fired after sending e-mails to staffers at the show and Entertainment Tonight, criticizing the programs. O' Brien, who was demoted to special correspondent for this season after a stint in rehab for alcohol abuse, was in Iowa and met fans who were more worried about the high prices of food and gas, and ripped Insider host Lara Spencer for "pick(ing) out accessories that makes the viewers want to vomit."

While all of that is true, he rips the business he steadily took a paycheck from for the last eleven years. What a hypocrite. Maybe he should send all the money he earned hosting those entertainment-based shows over the years back.

Of course, his e-mails also got him in hot water at Access: Hollywood, where he ripped correspondent Shauna Robinson in an e-mail. A tip for Pat: lay off the e-mails.

- The Chicago Tribune and Jay Mariotti DO NOT come to a deal. Let me get this straight... Mariotti left the Sun-Times because "newspapers were sinking", but was in negotiations with the Trib? More proof Mariotti is a fraud and a liar. And shame on Deadspin for passing this off nearly as fact. Yeah, the Internet fits very well for Mr. Scumbag.

- Fox's Tuesday Night. Fox now has a powerhouse on Tuesday nights when American Idol isn't on. Last week, Fringe held on to its viewers from its premiere, thanks in art to its lead-in, the newly relocated House. But what happens when Idol returns in January? One of those shows moves to Wednesdays to pair up with Bones. Bye-bye, Til Death and Do Not Disturb.

- Carlos Zambrano. His no-hitter on September 14 brought the Cubs a ratings winner for WGN-TV and the first no-hitter for a Cub since Milt Pappas did it in '72.

T Dog's Flopulous Four

- McCain's campaign reaction to the Palin's SNL skit. The opening sketch ran on the Sept. 13 edition of Saturday Night Live, and they slammed it as sexist. More proof that some Repubs have no sense of humor.

- Letterman wants to stay past 2010. And after late-night rival Jay Leno exits next year (by force.) The problem is, Letterman stopped being funny 12 years ago.

- The Boston Globe. For publishing this inane article from a "columnist" on why more people weren't outraged over the oral sex scene in the 90210 premiere. Maybe because we're more concerned about the high price of food and gas, as well as the crisis on Wall Street. Idiot.

- Who's F*****' Who. Sarah Silverman's and Matt Damon's very overrated Internet video card to Silverman's then-boyfriend Jimmy Kimmel won an Emmy at the Creative Arts portion of the award show (which took place Sept. 13.) What's next, an Emmy for "Jackass"?

Remember, look for "Who's in your four" again on Friday, and yes, the Primetime Emmys are going to be mentioned...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

"Mad Men", "30 Rock" wins Emmys

How about this for anti-climatic: As expected, both Mad Men and 30 Rock took home Emmys for best drama and comedy, respectively (really, do you think Two and a Half Men was going to win? Ha!)

And the idea for five people to host the Emmys... don't let it happen ever again. The opening was absolutely atrocious. They said they had "nothing", which pretty much described the opening skit.

HBO took home the most trophies with ten. Fox left with just one, while The CW was shut out for the second straight year.

Don Rickles wins an Emmy! Don Rickles 1, The CW, 0.

But they gave that stupid "I'm F*** Matt Damon" clip an Emmy? (they actually awarded it at the Creative Arts Emmys) Hell, they would've been better off giving Jim Belushi an award for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series. Almost.

For the complete list of winners, click here.

NFL TV Distribution Maps: Week 3

Fox: Single Game

CBS: First Game Second Game

Friday, September 19, 2008

"Dr. Oz" heads to WFLD

It's a home run by the Wizard!

Sony Pictures Television had the heart, the courage, and the brains - to clear Harpo Productions' new syndicated Dr. Oz in fourteen markets, including Fox-owned WFLD-TV in Chicago.

No word yet on a time period, but the program could wind up in a late morning time slot, possibly as a lead-out of The Morning Show with Mike & Juliet, or even an early afternoon slot on sis station WPWR-TV.

The show stars Dr. Memhet Oz, whose appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show boosted her program's ratings every time he's on.

This is Harpo's first production with another syndicator outside CBS Television Distribution and predecessor King World, where Oprah Winfrey has been with since the launch of her talk show in 1986. CBS launched a similar program in The Doctors two weeks ago. The program is produced by Jay McGraw, who is the son of Dr. Phil McGraw - whose made appearances on Oprah prior to 2002, when he got own his talk show - co-produced by Harpo.

In addition to WFLD, Sony cleared the show on Fox's New York (WNYW/WWOR) and Los Angeles stations (KTTV/KCOP) as well, and eleven other stations in the top twenty markets.

Oz marks the first project for fall 2009 to officially announce station clearances.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

First week of new syndie fare in the books

The new five first-run strips debuting in syndication last week entered the new world of expectations - holding the lead-in and at least matching the year-ago time period share.

The five programs are Deal or No Deal from NBC Universal Television Distribution; The Doctors from CBS Television Distribution; Family Court with Judge Penny from Program Partners; The Bonnie Hunt Show from Warner Bros.; and Judge Karen from Sony Pictures Television.

Courtesy of both TV Week and Marc Berman's Programming Insider from Mediaweek, here are the week one results:

w/o 9-8
TP Avg 9/07

Bonnie Hunt 1.0/3 1.3/5 1.1/4
Doctors 1.4/4 1.7/5 1.8/5
Deal or No Deal 1.2/3 1.3/3 1.3/3
Family Court 0.8/3 0.8/3 0.8/3
Judge Karen 0.9/3 0.9/3 1.0/3

Sources: TV Week, PI Feedback.com, Nielsen

Of the five, The Doctors has the best stories, since the program debuted with the highest rating and is winning a handful of timeslots in several cities; on the other hand, its 9 a.m. clearance in New York on WCBS-TV isn't helping the show's ratings much; Deal's ratings seems to be doing well on the nine NBC O&O stations that carry it (especially at KNBC-TV in Los Angeles); but the program has an unconventional time period clearance in St. Louis (10 p.m. on KDNL-TV) against local news; Bonnie Hunt isn't doing well in the top markets (including her hometown of Chicago), but retains its lead-in in key female demos; Judge Karen is off to a roaring start here (at WCIU-TV) but sputtering in L.A. (at weak UHF indie KDOC -TV, where it's a point away from a hashmark); and Family Court is settling in well at a few stations, but could suffer when the national ratings come out because of its lack of clearances in other major markets.

Starting Monday (Sept. 22), Debmar-Mercury's Tyler Perry's House of Payne enters syndication, as does the company's new game show Trivial Pursuit: America Plays while Litton's Punk'd (from MTV) enters the following week (Sept. 29.)

The Church of Tisch's new digs

The Chicago Chapter of The Church of Tisch opens its new location on Monday.

CBS-owned WBBM-TV opens its new "block 37" location in the loop on Monday, a new broadcast facility with its newscasts broadcast in HD. The new 22 West Washington St. location is dubbed "Heart of Chicago". Sun-Times columnist Rob Feder noted today he didn't get an invitation to come to the ribbon-cutting ceremony, mainly because of his constant bashing of the station's general manager, Joe Ahern (don't feel bad, Mr. Feder.. I'm just as critical of the guy and I didn't get one, either... Not that I ever wanted to go...)

A special showcasting the new HD facility titled - you guessed it - Heart of Chicago, airs Sunday at 6 a.m., 1 p.m., and 10:35 p.m. on Channel 2, giving you three chances to ignore it.

The Rev. Les Moonves may be in town Monday to preside over the service - I mean, the ribbon-cutting ceremony. A mandatory donation is being collected during the homily by head ushers Dawn Ostroff and Katie Couric. If you plan to attend, you'd better give - or they'll shake you down. Hard. After all, somebody's got to pay for Mr. Ahern's marble showers and expensive lunches.

After all, The Church of Tisch is in "The Heart of Chicago".

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"Mother" sold to WFLD and WPWR

Twentieth Television has sold off-network repeats of How I Met Your Mother to the WFLD/WPWR duopoly in Chicago beginning in fall 2010. The CBS comedy has been on the air since 2005, and has seen its ratings rise this past season as part of the network's Monday night lineup.

WFLD/WPWR has already picked up The Office for next fall.

In addition to WFLD/WPWR, Twentieth has sold Mother to sister Fox stations WNYW/WWOR in New York and KTTV/KCOP in Los Angeles.

Other clearances include WPSG-TV Philadelphia, WSBK-TV Boston, and KTXA-TV in Dallas - all CBS-owned (but not affiliated) stations. Hearst-Argyle's KQCA-TV in Sacramento-Stockon, Calif. has also picked up the show.

Meanwhile, here's an interview with one of the stars of the show, Dr. Horrible and Doggie Howser himself, Neil Patrick Harris.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag

Another installment in the Groovy Grab Bag - let's see what's in the sack:

- WGN-TV announced it was re-airing the Carlos Zambrano no-hitter on Friday night at 10 p.m. on WGN and WGN America. Zambrano no-hit the Houston Astros Sunday night in Milwaukee in a game moved from Houston because of Hurricane Ike. Zambrano became the first Cubs pitcher to throw a no-hitter since Milt Pappas did it in 1972.

- MTV has pulled the plug on early fringe staple Total Request Live after ten years. Wait, was this show still on the air?

- Viewers hate the new Bens on Disney-ABC's At the Movies. No surprise there...

- Feder's pissed! In a story today regarding Westwood One's cutbacks to Metro Networks/Shadow Broadcast Services (the ones who provide radio stations with traffic reports and more) resulting in the loss of 300 jobs - including five here locally, Feder referred to the people doing the slashing as "the idiots who ruined radio."

And yes, these are the same type of idiots who ruined television and other forms of media as well. You can't continuously cut and slash your way to profitability. And how long has that been going on?

Denver, St. Louis stations combine operations

Local TV and Tribune Broadcasting have agreed to combine operations and certain programming under a plan to reduce overhead expenses with their respective TV stations in St. Louis and Denver, in which is being called a "virtual duopoly".

St. Louis' KPLR (CW) and KTVI (Fox) are combining operations in their market, as is Denver's KDVR (Fox) and KWGN (CW.) KPLR and KWGN are both owned by Tribune; KDVR and KTVI are owned by Local TV - both are former Fox O&O's.

Unlike regular duopolies, where one company owns two stations in the same market, this unique arrangement features two companies running their stations in a "co-op" fashion.

The agreement means in St. Louis, KTVI will be moving into KPLR's headquarters, while in Denver, KWGN moves into KDVR's pad.

The moves also means shared news resources for all stations involved, including Denver stations competing with each other in several time periods. However, management and other staff are being paired down: KDVR's Dennis Leonard will oversee both stations in Denver (KWGN's GM Jim Zerwekh is leaving the station). No word yet on any management changes in St. Louis.

This comes as no surprise: already, Local TV and Tribune are sharing back-end corporate, administrative, and engineering functions in a deal announced last year by current Tribune Chief Operating Officer Randy Michaels - who used to be the Chief Executive Officer at Local TV. There was some talk about the stations in Denver and St. Louis combining forces.

There are no affiliate swaps being planned at this time. In the 1990's, Fox tried to affiliate with KWGN twice, but to no avail. In 1995, KTVI - then owned by New World Television - dropped its ABC affiliation to join Fox along with eleven other New World stations. Fox bought KTVI in 1997, but sold it and seven other stations to Local TV.

Overheard: From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch comment board on this story:

"Have you ever seen a WGN news cast? St. Louis doesn't have the resources to be that bad."

Then this guy hasn't seen WBBM-TV's or WFLD-TV's newscasts...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Smiley's successor found

No, this isn't a replay of Saturday's post regarding Roland Martin, but the Tom Joyner Morning Show has found its successor to departed commentator Tavis Smiley. Make that two successors.

Because of fan voting that left the contest between Jeff Johnson and Stephanie Robinson practically tied, TJMS has decided to bring both on as commentators.

This comes after Friday's announcement of Roland Martin of WVON-AM being tapped to provide commentaries for the show.

Even though TJMS held a contest to replace Tavis Smiley (who left the program last spring after listeners complained about his harsh criticism of Barack Obama), Martin essentially replaces Smiley in this role because his name recognition is on the same level as Smiley's, since he appears reguarly on CNN and has contributed to Essence magazine and is also an commentator at TV One.

As for the contest winners, Stephanie Robinson is a Harvard lecturer on law and founded is the founder of The Jamestown Project, a Washington, D.C. think tank, while Jeff Johnson hosts a talk show on BET titled The Truth with Jeff Johnson and is an award-winning journalist and social activst, also from Washington.

Welcome to the third season

Has it really been two years?

Yours truly started this blog two years this week on September 18, 2006, and 1,379 posts later - it's still going strong. And as of today, the third season of The T Dog Media Blog begins.

As you know, this blog is targeted for media professionals, and it covers a lot of serious stories in the business, and how they affect the industry, both locally and around the country - not to mention my views on many media issues.

But this place also serves up some fun, as many of the stories are offbeat reviews of the day's media stories, in television, radio, print, and the Internet.

However - with the start of the blog's third season today - there are going to be some changes, some of which you might have noticed already. This is in part because yours truly has started a new gig, and I don't have as much time to devote to the blog as I used to.

Also, I want to devote more time to my fictional writing - something I haven't done in nearly three years. If you've read The Sidebar, my aim is to become a screenwriter and/or author, and I have written projects that have been presented at ETA Creative Arts.

So here's what on tap for season three:

- For one thing, there will be less focus on breaking news and more, longer-form posts on media stories with the usual twisted commentary you come to expect from The T Dog Media Blog. This is more in line with other media blogs such as Jerry Del Colliano's Inside Music Media and Aaron Barnhart's TV Barn, which the latter has headlines in a ticker to the right. In other words, future posts are now going to look like T Dog's Think Tanks, only a lot shorter.

- You may have also noticed a new feature called "T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag", where I group many media news stories together into one single post. With more than 1,300 posts on this site already, this is a way to cut down on clutter without devoting a single post to minor news stories, such as a new syndicated TV show clearing Fort Wayne, Ind., or a new DJ getting hired at WTMX. Last September, there were a whopping 82 items posted here, including stories on Fox canceling Nashville, a new weekend anchor at Channel 2, and Bob Costas appearing on an unfunny sketch with the unfunny Frank Caliendo on Fox NFL Sunday. Yawn. Really, do these stories even merit a single post? This new format will cut down on the number of posts a month and make the blog look more organized.

- I have also launched a new weekly feature titled "Who's in your four" - a play on the "Who's in your five" T-Mobile marketing campaign (The name changes to T Dog's Freakin' Four, effective this Friday.) This features four media stories I think are hot - and four that are not (and yes... it comes with the twisted commentary you expect from this blog.)

- In addition, there is a major expansion of The T Dog Media Blog is in the works. The project's name (Fanboy) consists of a MySpace page, a Facebook profile, a LinkedIn page, some involvement in Twitter, and more. This way, The T Dog Media Blog can reach more of an audience. I also plan to put my various fictional works on these sites (and they are copyrighted, so don't even think about it.) I'll let you know when Fanboy will officially launch.

- Of course, major events including NATPE, Comic-Con, and the Television Critics Association press tour will continue to be covered in detail. And the world famous T Dog's Think Tank feature will also continue.

The changes are being made to make the blog easier to read and so I can provide more of my world famous twisted commentary on some media news stories. In all, everybody wins!

I hope you continue enjoy the blog, and I'll continue to enjoy putting it out. And as always - thank you for reading. Stay tuned as it continues to grow!


Terence Henderson

Chairman of The T Dog Blog, Inc. - a subsidiary of the Fiction Corp.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Who's in your four, Edition V

There's going to be a new name for this, I swear...

T Dog's Fab Four

- America Ferrera slams The Hills, 90210, and Gossip Girl. The Ugly Betty star says the shows are mean: " Like, if you're watching The Hills or 90210, all the backstabbing shapes the way we act - you go to school, and you think you're job is to find a sworn enemy and be jealous of each other". You go, girl. I sure do love America!

- The Doctors. Top new syndicated strip in its first week on the air. However, a week of numbers does a hit or miss does not make. I think that's how it's phrased...

- Simpsons Halloween Episode. They plan on spoofing It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown for this year's Treehouse of Horror. This should be good. Hopefully.

- Celebs banned from MNF booth. No more mindless Disney-ABC tie-ins. But before you celebrate, remember: Kornheiser is still there.

The four in T Dog's Doghouse

- The Insider. They finally went HD this week, and how about this for a story? They are continuously following a 22-year old woman who's desperately trying to get laid. Wait a minute, we don't get to see her get laid? In HD, even? Heavens to mercitroids! What a rip-off! Exit, stage right!

- Do Not Disturb. With just 4.8 million viewers in its first airing, a lot of them are heeding this advice on Fox's latest live-action comedy embarrassment: Do Not Watch.

- Richard Dominick. The recently fired executive producer of Jerry Springer's and Steve Wilkos' talk shows told Wilkos to choke a guest during a "physical confrontation". What in the name of Morton Downey Jr. is going on here?

- Tony Kornheiser. He called the Bears and the Carolina Panthers "second-rate teams" Tuesday on Pardon The Interruption, despite the fact they won their opening week games. While somewhat true, this is coming from a fourth-rate announcer on Monday Night Football. Tony, your skis are ready... It's shark-jumping time!

Steve Stone heads to TV booth - for the White Sox

Former Chicago White Sox pitcher - and Chicago Cubs analyst Steve Stone has signed a six-year deal with the White Sox to be their television analyst along side Hawk Harrison, replacing Darrin Jackson in the process.

Except for a stint when Joe Carter was in the booth, Stone was the Cubs analyst alongside Haray Caray and later Chip Caray for 22 years until 2004 when he and the younger Caray were replaced by Len Kasper and Bob Brenly.

Darrin Jackson was the analyst for the last nine years, replacing Tom Pachoiek in 1999. Jackson has been offered the radio analyst position Stone is vacating, but Jackson has reported as saying he won't made a decision until after the current season ends.

White Sox officials hope the move boosts TV ratings, which has lagged behind the Cubs for decades.

Roland Martin heads to Tom Joyner Morning Show

Roland Martin, a former editor of The Chicago Defender and current host of a morning show on News/Talk WVON-AM has exited the old Soft Sheen building on East 87th Street (right down the street from my house.)

Martin has signed a deal to become a contributor to the syndicated The Tom Joyner Morning Show, which airs weekday mornings on WVAZ-FM (V103.) Martin's final show on WVON is likely to air around Sept. 26.

The arrival of Martin essentially replaces recently departed commentator Tavis Smiley, even though the syndicated radio program held a contest to replace him. Martin is certain to cover the red-hot Presidential race, where Barack Obama could make history as the nation's first African-American Commander-In-Chief.

The move comes as Martin's star is rising - he's already a contributor to CNN, a correspondent for Essence magazine, and a commentator for TV One - whose part-owner (Radio One) also owns a piece of The Tom Joyner Morning Show.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag

- Twentieth Television has signed Jeff Foxworthy to host the syndicated version of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? The daily syndicated strip version of the Fox prime-time game show bows in fall 2009.

- Fringe, the new Fox drama from Lost creator J.J. Abrams, averaged just 9.1 million viewers for its premiere Tuesday night, which many consider a disappointment. At least it wasn't Do Not Disturb ... the new Fox comedy - which makes According to Jim an Emmy winner by comparison - drew only 4.8 million in its debut last night. Even worse, HBO's new vampire drama True Blood could not grab an audience, nabbing only 1.4 million viewers. Dark Shadows this isn't.

- WBBM-FM nighttime personality Julian Nieh has been selected as the tenth panel memeber for Jacobs Media Summit 13's Presidents of Radio session, being held in Austin, TX Sept. 18.

- The Doctors continues to chug along as the top new syndicated strip after three days of results. The CBS Television Distribution program averaged a 1.4 household metered market rating so far, ahead of NBC Universal's second-place Deal or No Deal. But the program droppped 7 percent from Tuesday to Wedensday.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Howard McGee speaks

Former WGCI jock "Crazy" Howard McGee is scheduled to appear Thursday on USTalkNetwork.com from 3 to 5 p.m. to speak out about his firing from WGCI-FM last year.

As you recall, McGee was dropped from the station in July 2007 for the syndicated Steve Harvey show, despite the fact McGee's show performed quite well for WGCI, winning its time slot in many key demos.

USTalkNetwork is a site run by two former Chicago radio executives, Lee Michaels and Zemira Jones.

This story appeared first on ChicagolandRadioAnd Media.com last night (Congrats, Larz on your site making Feder's column today!)

Tennis fans cry fault to WTSP

WTSP, the Gannett-owned CBS affiliate in Tampa-St. Petersburg Florida (and future home of soon-to depart-from WFLD weather person Tammie Souza), decided not to carry the re-scheduled U.S. Open Men's Final where Roger Federer scored his fifth straight U.S Open Championship and the move angered the lob gods. It was moved instead to the station's digital weather channel.

Viewers slammed WTSP
for the decision to stick with local news and the syndicated Dr. Phil.

Another Gannett CBS affiliate in Greensboro-High Point, N.C. (WFMY) also pre-empted the tennis match to stick with local news and The Andy Griffith Show (Yes, Andy Griffith. This is North Carolina we're talking about.) WFMY did move the match to its digital channel.

In fact, 10 percent of CBS affiliates declined to carry the match on Monday, shunting it to their secondary digital channels or online. In Milwaukee, CBS affiliate WDJT-TV moved the final to sister station WMLW-TV so the station can premiere The Doctors at 4 p.m.

If you've seen this headline before, you have - only with KSDK in the title instead of WTSP. Two months ago, KSDK cut away from a Wimbledon Men's Final to air a Cardinals game, angering tennis fans in St. Louis.

KSDK, like WTSP is owned by - you guessed it, Gannett.

If Gannett was smart, maybe they should stop angering the lob gods before tennis balls start raining down inside their McLean, Va. headquarters.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

New syndication season off and running

Chicago contributes to programs' decent start

The new 2008-09 season in syndication began on Monday with the debut of five new strips - and all got off to a decent - if not spectacular start:

Program RTG SHR Lead-In TP 9/07

Bonnie Hunt 1.1 3 -21% 0%
Deal or No Deal 1.3 3 -13% -7%
The Doctors 1.6 4 -11% -15%
Family Court 0.9 3 0% 12%
Judge Karen 0.8 2 -11% -20%

Source: Nielsen, PI Feedback.com

Note: The third column is the program's rating vs. its lead-in (i.e. the program that aired before it.) The fourth column is the program's rating vs. the average rating of the program that was in the time period in September 2007. For example, Bonnie Hunt's rating on Monday averaged a 1.1 rating in 52 markets, down 21 percent from its lead-in and flat from year-ago time period averages.

- CBS Television Distribution's The Doctors led the pack with an 1.6/4, with the best performance coming from right here in Chicago - Weigel's WCIU-TV netted a surprisingly strong 2.1/4 at 5 p.m. The number was up 40 percent from Sept. 2007 time slot ratings, when the station ran One on One and Girlfriends in the time period.

- NBC Universal's Deal or No Deal began its syndication life Monday with a 1.3/3. In Chicago, the program notched an 1.5/5 at noon on NBC-owned WMAQ-TV, up a whopping 400 percent from a mish-mash of syndicated fare (Martha, Paid programming, etc.) in the time period last year.

Deal also recently scored a clearence in Washington, D.C.. where Fox-owned WDCA-TV has slotted the program at 5 and 5:30 p.m. NBC-owned WRC-TV turned the game show down.

- Sony's Judge Karen earned a 0.8/3, but the high water mark came in Chicago, with the program earning a 2.8/7 at 2:30 p.m. on WCIU. Karen is slotted in the middle of the station's successful courtroom block.

Warner Bros.' Bonnie Hunt, featuring our town's funny gal, bowed with a 1.1/4, but scored a 100 percent ratings increase over last year's programming on NBC-owned KXAS-TV in Dallas/Ft. Worth.

Finally, Program Partners' Family Court with Judge Penny nabbed a 0.8/3, scoring a 12 percent increase from its lead-in, with the high-water mark coming in Philadelphia, with CBS-owned WPSG-TV (a CW affiliate) nabbing a 1.4/5.

Syndication casualty update

Shows recently canceled or taken out of syndication: Temptation, Judge Maria Lopez (both ended last Friday), Stone Undercover, Blind Date (ends this Friday), Jury Duty (ends this Friday, at least in Chicago), Montel Williams (no longer on the air in Chicago), Maximum Exposure, Soul Train.

Still not confirmed: The Shield, Comics Unleashed with Byron Allen, It's Showtime At The Apollo (anyone out there know about the fate of these shows, let me know in the comment box)

Could be back after all?: Even though CSI:NY is debuting this weekend in syndication, CSI:Miami reruns are still airing on a good number of stations as well, including WBBM-TV in Chicago - at least that's what TV Guide is saying...

Allison Payne goes to Mayo clinic

WGN-TV anchor Allison Payne is headed to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for tests after dealing with a series of "mini-strokes" that kept her off the air earlier this year.

Payne plans to return to WGN just in time for the launch of the station's new 5:30 p.m. newscast, set for Monday.

She apologized to viewers last month after appearing wobbly during her reports from the Democratic Convention, which some mistook for her being "drunk", when it really was the aftereffects of her mini-strokes and exhaustion.

Channel 2 shuffles anchor decks - again

CBS-owned WBBM-TV has decided to shuffle the anchor chairs again at its low-rated morning newscast - with the return of Roseanne Tellez from maternity leave, she will return anchoring the news at 5 and 11 a.m., paired up with weatherman Don Schwennker. They replace Jim Willams (who goes back to weekends) and Kristyn Hartman.

Tellez, who co-anchored the station's 5 p.m. newscast is being replaced by Anne State, who already co-anchors at 6 and 10 p.m. at the Chicago chapter of The Church of Tisch.

Williams replaces Derrick Blakely during the station's weekend newscasts.

Meanwhile, at Fox-owned WFLD-TV, weatherman Tammie Suza appears headed to CBS affiliate WTSP-TV in Tampa/St. Pete...

Monday, September 08, 2008

Me-TV and Me-Too fall schedules are out

Though it's retroactive to last week, WWME-TV and WMEU-TV finally posted their fall schedules online on their website (which is still under construction.)

New to the Me-TV lineup is Married... With Children (huh?) and That'70's Show (since it's a show made in the 1990's and 2000's set in the 1970's, I guess it fits...)

Hey, wasn't Spike TV supposed to have exclusive rights to Married this fall? The program has also landed on TBS, although in the wee hours of the morning. I guess its exclusive to Spike in their mind.

Also new to Me-TV is the original That '70's Show set in Wisconsin - only set in the '50's: Happy Days (on a related note, a statue of "The Fonz" was unveiled in the program's home base of Milwaukee recently.)

One notable program block out at Me-Too is the Saturday Night Pajama Party. I guess not too many people were interested in attending.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Program Alert

It looks like the start of the new syndicated season is going to get off to a false start: Because of a rain-out at the U.S. Open on Saturday, the Men's final between Andy Roddick and Roger Federer has been moved to Monday at 4 p.m. Central, pre-empting fare on CBS affiliates and the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.

In Chicago, Dr. Phil, WBBM-TV's newscasts, and possibly Entertainment Tonight won't air. ET is debuting in high definition tomorrow.

The Men's semifinal was pushed back to this afternoon, while the Women's final was pushed into prime-time tonight.

NFL TV Distribution Maps: Week 1

They're back! Thanks to the506.com and J.P. Kirby, here are the new - and very improved - NFL TV maps for Week 1 - click to see the game in your area:

CBS: Single Game

Fox: First Game Second Game

Friday, September 05, 2008

Who's in your four, Edition 4 (plus a tribute to Bill Melendez)

This is in my four for edition four of Who's in Your Four this week. Fore!

- 90210. Scored the highest ratings in the history of the two-year old network.

- Raising the Bar, indeed. Now Turner's cable networks can actually air a promo with a claim that's actually true: Despite lukewarm reviews, TNT's new legal drama Raising the Bar drew a record rating for a cable drama: 7.7 million viewers for the debut Monday night. And that's more than what 90210 earned in total viewers.

- Oprah brings home the Gold. For her 23rd season premiere, Ms. Winfrey brought 150 Gold medalists (including Michael Phelps) to Millennium Park here in Chicago for a special show honoring their achievements in the recent Summer Olympics. Look for it on Monday.

- Sarah Pavin's speech. The Vice-Presidental nominee running with McCain drew 38 million viewers Wednesday night for her speech across the networks carrying it. As for the speech... missed it (yours truly was asleep - long day at the gig...)

Who's NOT in my four:

- Oprah Winfrey disses Palin. Yes, she can appear on both lists at once: Days after taping the Olympics, Ms. Winfrey makes a lot of people mad by refusing to let Sarah Palin be on her show - then denying it, saying she didn't want her program to be a political platform (didn't stop her from endorsing Obama.) Remember the days when Jerry Springer was our town's only controversial talk show host?

- Chicago Media Action. The activist group is trying again (for the third time) to have Chicago's and Milwaukee's station licenses over their "non-coverage" of the 2004 elections. And they'll fail for the third time. In the words of the obscure band Default, they're "wasting my time..."

- Cartoon Network announces premiere date for Star Wars: The Clone Wars. For anyone who still cares, it's October 3rd.

- America's Next Top Model. New season, same old problems. It's not a good sign when you are beaten in the ratings by Univision.

In Memoriam: Bill Melendez

Sad to say, but another death has occured in the entertainment world: this time its "Peanuts" animator Bill Melendez, who passed this week at the age of 91. He directed almost all Peanuts specials and feature films and provided the voice of Snoopy. Melendez also worked for Disney, Warner Bros. Animation, and UPA.

"Peanuts" specials were a big part of my childhood and I appreciated his work very much. He will be greatly missed.

Seacrest comes to KISS-FM

In a move local radio insiders saw coming, Ryan Seacrest's syndicated radio show is joining WKSC-FM (Kiss FM's) lineup starting Monday.

As a result of this move, Billy Hammond was fired, and in an unrelated move, JoAnn Genette from the DreX morning show was also let go.

WKSC will air Seacrest's morning radio show from KIIS-FM in Los Angeles from 1 to 4 p.m. weekdays - but the program, which is usually five hours in L.A., is cut to three hours for syndication, removing Los Angeles-area news and traffic reports and other local material.

Seacrest took over the morning slot in L.A. at KIIS in 2004 from longtime host Rick Dees, who held the morning drive position for 22 years.

Other Clear Channel Top 40 outlets have added Seacrest's syndicated show in the past year, including powerhouse WFLZ-FM in Tampa/St. Petersburg.

Thought: So another Clear Channel cuts another local personality for a syndicated show. No surprise there. But like what happened when sis station WGCI traded in Howard McGee for Steve Harvey, the numbers will stay high and WKSC doesn't have to pay anybody. It's just as simple as that (check out my comment on Feder's story.)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

T Dog's Think Tank: Good riddance, loser

The first word and the last laugh: Au revoir, patsy...

If Jay Mariotti was a TV character, he would rank up there with J.R. Ewing, Alexis Carrington, Johnny Fairplay, "Q" from Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Vince McMahon - as the most loathsome people to ever grace the tube.

So it comes as no surprise when he resigned as columnist of the Sun-Times, everybody in Chicago celebrated by blasting the song "Celebration" by Kool & The Gang from their stereos.

Or "Hit the Road, Jack" by Ray Charles. Or even "Get Out" by JoJo.

The dripping barf bag left last week after 17 years to pursue a career in... well, I don't know. I don't think he knows, either.

So why did Mariotti leave the Sun-Times? According to him, he proclaimed the newspaper business was going down the drain, and "I don't want to go down with it."

Wow, what a classy statement. While this is true, this is a guy who recently signed a three-year extension to stay with the paper. And what a perfect time to leave, too - after scoring a free trip to China to "cover" the Olympic games.

Mariotti now proclaims the Internet is where sportswriters need to be instead of "the sinking ship of newspapers" - never mind just a few years ago, he ripped into bloggers and criticized Internet journalism in general. This guy flip-flops more often than a worn-out pair of shoes.

And the real reason why he resigned may have something to do with a topic regarding Barack Obama and his allegiance to the Chicago White Sox. According to sources at the paper, Mariotti was passed over for the assignment to write about Obama and instead was handed to Rick Telander, whom he often feuded with. He reportedly threw a fit and resigned (If Mariotti got to write the column, he would've bashed Obama for being a White Sox fan.)

So apparently, he lied about why he left the Sun-Times. No surprise there.

And the Sun-Times doesn't seem to miss him, with editor-in-chief Michael Cooke proudly boasting: "We wish Jay well and will miss him — not personally, of course, but in the sense of noticing he is no longer here, at least for a few days." (Oh, now you guys get it.)

One person even decided to return to the Sun-Times now that Mariotti's gone. He was featured on the front page a day after he left.

Now the human garbage disposal is running his mouth on his stupid TV show at ESPN and in interviews with other media outlets, and he's talking about how bad the Sun-Times treated him. So what else do you expect from a guy who is a pathological liar, battles with people he works with, criticizes teams - even when they are playing well - and on and on and on...

In the Tribune last Friday, Mariotti says his loyalty to the Sun-Times should be measured by the columns he wrote over the last 17 years.

What a crock of bullshit.

He left the Sun-Times by declaring papers "dead", and proclaiming himself better than they are, or any of the hard working employees at the rag who at least try to put out a decent product. And he has the nerve to talk about loyalty.

And his former colleagues noticed by taking swipes at him, from Roger Ebert to Chris Deluca.

And those columns? 17 years of mostly lies, personal attacks, deceit, and tearing down people. This piece of human garbage always wrote nasty things about Chicago athletes. While some of it was warranted, much of the time, it wasn't. And he was always extra-hard on minority athletes and coaches, particularly Allen Iverson, Cedric Benson, and Gold Medal speed skater Shani Davis.

And its interesting he refused to go into the clubhouses of the teams he covers... Is it because he feared he probably would've been decked by someone there? If so, Mariotti more than deserved it.

And what about this feud with Reinsdorf? While some of his criticisms of the White Sox and Bulls owner was sometimes warranted, he often crossed the line into dissing him and his teams, even during the Bulls championship runs and the White Sox World Series run of 2005. Never mind while Reinsdorf presided over six Bulls Championships and a White Sox World Series Championship, the late Blackhawks owner Bill Wirtz blacked out most home games on TV, raised ticket prices, and fired a popular play-by-play man while the team nearly plummeted off the face of the earth. And all of this didn't even garner half the attention from Mariotti. And when Wirtz died, Mariotti had the nerve to rip into Hawks fans for their "lack of respect". Yeah, that's something he really knows about...

Yes, crap like this sells, and it explains why people like Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Randi Rhodes, and Michael Savage still have jobs in media. Kind of sad, really. There are thousands of people who can't think for themselves - and rely on dolts like Mariotti to tell them what to think. Big Media capitalizes on this and runs away with it like a defensive back intercepting a pass.

And to all you Mariotti supporters out there - all twelve of you - why do you support this human waste? Is it because of his negativity? Or is it because he criticizes successful figures because they are not the 9-to-5-miserable-in-their jobs-clock-punching-ilk like you guys are? I wonder if those who think Mariotti is a "gifted writer" also watch According to Jim and went to see Meet the Spartans, Epic Movie, and Disaster Movie? Jason Friedburg and Aaron Seltzer would be proud of you.

Mariotti made a mockery of what I love to do, and that is to write. It's an complete insult to us who have the passion to tell a story, instead of trashing someone's reputation when it's not warranted and doing so just to be mean. Certainly, TV critics didn't rip into Brandon Tartikoff when he helped guide NBC to the top of the ratings charts in the mid-1980's, so what's the purpose of Mariotti ripping into successful individuals, even if they made one mistake? Since when he's the voice of morality when he has none himself? Face it - Mariotti is no writer. The jerk was interested in only pissing people off, and someone was dumb enough to write him a check for it.

His relentless bashing and negativity was a turn-off for many readers of the Sun-Times, and now with him gone, the paper's circulation actually may go up. It's like removing cancer from the body - once it's gone, the whole body feels better and re-energized.

Mariotti never apologized for anything he wrote - right or wrong - and it usually was on the wrong side. Here's what I know: Mariotti is the most disgusting scumbag to ever write for a Chicago newspaper, and I'm more than happy this pathetic jackass is gone - hopefully to never return.

So, goodbye you walking piece of shit. The only thing left to say is... You're next, O'Reilly.

"Top Model", "Shield" take it on the chin

The good news for The CW lasted just one day.

America's Next Top Model's season-premiere last night set a personal ratings low with just 3.5 million viewers - down 32 percent from last year's premiere (Sept. 19, 2007) in adults 18-49 and managed only a 1.9/6 among adults 18-34, also down from last year.

Top Model was even beaten by Univision programming in adults 18-49.

I guess I'm not the only one who got off the Top Model bandwagon...

As for The Shield, the season premiere of that show was also a disappointment, setting a personal low rating (1.0/3 in Adults 18-49). This is The Shield's final season, and it looks like it picked the right time to leave.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

"Jerry Springer" exec producer out

Richard Dominick, the executive producer of Jerry Springer and The Steve Wilkos Show has been axed as executive producer of both shows by NBC Universal.

Dominick was named executive producer of Springer in the spring of 1994 and was instrumental in turning around Jerry Springer from a talk show near death to a ratings bonanza (at least during the late '90's) with its chair-throwing, fists-flying, no-holds approach to life's problems.

No reason was given on why Dominick was canned, but one source said station groups carrying Springer - notably Tribune (who carries the program in most of its markets except Chicago and Denver) - were urging NBC Universal to tone down the raunchy content.

Already, Springer's upcoming season was to return to the format of telling one story per hour, as opposed to several stretched out all over the place and featuring carny-like characters.

Could this really be the last stand for Springer? With unimpressive ratings as of late and the program's contract up with stations in 2010, the removal of Dominick -who was one of Springer's closest and staunchest allies when activists were protesting the program's content - says a lot.

Meanwhile, the other talk show Dominick produced featuring the Morton Downey Jr. clone was somehow green-lighted for a second season despite being the lowest-rated talk show entry last season. This show could be a goner after this upcoming season if ratings don't improve.

CW scores an upset with "90210" premiere

The CW scored its highest ratings ever with the two-hour premiere of 90210 Tuesday night, the anticipated sequel to Beverly Hills 90210, which ran on Fox for ten seasons (1990-2000.) Courtesy of PIFeedback.com, here are the results:

- Households (3.9/6, #3); Adults 18-34 (3.0/9, #1); Women 18-34 (4.3/12, #1); Adults 18-49 (2.6/7, #1); Women 18-49 (3.6/9, #1); persons 12-34 (2.7/8, #1); females 12-34 (3.7/11, #1); Teens (1.7/6, #1), Female Teens (2.1/7, #1)

90210 also built in the second hour in all key demos.

And it was also the highest-rated premiere in history among its core audience of adults 18-34.

Now, here are the metered overnight market household ratings and shares (excluding Chicago, which I will get to in a minute:)

- New York (WPIX, 5.4/8, #1); Los Angeles (KTLA, 4.2/7, #2 among English-language programs); Philadelphia (WPSG, 3.8/6, #3); Dallas (KDAF, 2.2/4, #5); San Francisco/Oakland (KBCW, 3.3/6, #2); Boston (WLVI, 4.2/6, #2); Atlanta (WUPA, 5.1/8, #1 for the 1st hour, #2 for the second hour); Washington, D.C. (WDCW, 3.5/5, #4); and Houston (KIAH, 3.4/5, #4).

- Detroit (WKBD, 4.3/7, # 3); Phoenix (KASW, 3.5/5, #4); Tampa-St. Petersburg (WTOG, 3.3/5, #5); Seattle (KSTW, 4.0/7, #3); Minneapolis-St. Paul (WUCW, 2.0/3, #5); Miami (WBZL, 2.4/3, #5 among English-language programs); Cleveland (WBNX, 3.9/6, #5); Denver (KWGN, 1.7/3, #4 first hour, #5 second hour); Orlando (WKCF, 4.2/6, tied at #4), Sacramento (KQCA, 3.8/6, #4); and Indianapolis (WTTV, 3.9/6, #4).

Here in Chicago, 90210 was originally set for 10:30 p.m. because of the Astros-Cubs game, but didn't air until 12:02 a.m. Locally, it finished first with a 2.4 household rating and a 9 share. However, the Astros-Cubs game netted a 9.6/17 in prime-time, far and away the market's number one show for the evening.

In Tampa, the Yankees-Rays game beat 90210 with a 6.0/9 on WXPX-TV (ION), but finished second to America's Got Talent. The Rays are Major League Baseball's surprise team this year, current atop the American League East.

90210 won its time period in New York, Chicago, and Atlanta, but generally finished either fourth or fifth in its time period in most metered markets. Its weakest numbers seemed to be in Minneapolis and Denver (special thanks to Douglas at PIFeedback.com for the numbers.)

Overall, a positive start for 90210, but keep in mind - one episode does not make a hit.

The CW held back an advance screening of the show to television critics, and this is what they had to say about it after they watched it last night... Reviews generally ranged from "unremarkable" to "wholesome".

If you missed the premiere of 90210 (and I know a lot of you Chicagoans did - including myself), you can catch it again Thursday night at 7 p.m. (Central Time.)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

R.I.P. Don LaFontaine

In a world without the king of voiceovers... it's not going to be the same.

Don LaFontaine, whose work covered everything from thousands of movie trailers to Rick Dees' Weekly Top 40 countdown show died Monday after being hospitalized for a week due to a blood clot in one of his lungs. He was 68.

LaFontaine recently appeared on a GEICO commercial, and has done voiceovers for many networks and television shows.

Tribune scrubs CW logos off its stations

Tribune has scrubbed The CW monkier off almost all of its' affiliates websites, and its sending a message to the beleaguered network - improve your ratings.

Tribune has even changed the branding of many of its CW stations. For example, WDCW-TV in Washington, D.C. goes by the name "DC 50" instead of "CW 50". For KWGN-TV in Denver, it's now "2" instead of "CW 2". Internet domain names have changed, with WPIX-TV in New York going by WPIX.com instead of CW11.com (the CW 11 branding still remains.)

In fact, The CW's logo has been de-emphasized to the point where it's not even on the home page - check out WGN-TV's site (except for a ad.)

And one station has even changed its call letters - Houston's KHCW-TV is now KIAH-TV, the fourth call letter change in fourteen years at Channel 39.

The moves come as tensions are propping up between Tribune and The CW. Last month, KSWB-TV in San Diego switched to Fox, while there's a possibility KPLR-TV in St. Louis - who was forced to turn down ABC twice because of sports commitments - could join the alphabet net once Sinclair-owned KDNL-TV's contract with the network ends next year. Tribune's WGNO-TV is already an ABC affiliate. KDNL has no local news operation, while KPLR does.

All of this is happening while Tribune is keeping the branding for other networks on its' other stations - especially with My Network TV, where Tribune owns MNT affiliates in Philadelphia (WPHL-TV) and Seattle (KMYQ-TV.)

Tribune's new management team - led by owner Sam Zell, are making these changes as ratings for The CW haven't materialized as the company had hoped.

Tonight was the series premiere of 90210, the much-hyped revival of the 1990-2000 Fox series (except in Chicago, where as of this writing, 90210 is scheduled to air after WGN's newscast - which is being held up by a Cubs game that is in extra innings...)

- On a related note, six Tribune stations have agreed to obtain the local market rights to air NFL games simulcast on the NFL network featuring the market's local team. The markets include New York (WPIX with the Jets), Denver (KWGN), New Orleans (WGNO), Dallas (KDAF), San Diego (KSWB) and Indianapolis (WXIN.) Of those six, three are CW affiliates.

Fall 2008 syndication preview (or the best I can scrape together in such short notice)

The new syndication season begins next Monday, and its going to be tougher to launch a new show than ever before, thanks to the upcoming election and the exploding number of alternative choices available in the marketplace.

There are seven new first-run strips invading the airwaves this year, but all of them will have to face competition from cable news networks, who'll no doubt siphon away the shows' key demos of adults 25-54 as the election grows closer.

Plus, many promotional spots used to promote syndicated fare - old or new - are being tied up by campaign commercials.

It's just another pain in the ointment for syndicators, who are not only dealing with the increased competition, but also tighter budgets for their programs.

In this brand new world of syndication, everything - from the production of the shows to the marketing of them - is now done on the cheap so it can turn an investment quickly. Gone are the days of a first-run launch with a massive price tag. Some examples: On September 16, 1985, Paramount launched a daytime talk show strip named America with a budget of $22 million. It was canceled four months later.

On September 12, 1988, GTG sunk an even larger amount of money to launch USA Today on TV. After underwhelming ratings, massive downgrades and cancellations by stations soon followed, and USA Today was canceled fourteen months later - going down as the most expensive flop in syndication history.

Of course, syndicators never learned their lesson and more and more big-budget bombs followed from the 1990's through the early part of this decade. Today, syndicators are playing a whole lot smarter. They have to - the average rating to be considered a success has dropped all the way to a 1.0 household rating.

And as Local People Meters - with the ability to measure key demos on an overnight basis - are going online in more and more markets, household ratings are going to become even less important.

The new strips launching Sept. 8 include Deal or No Deal (Noon and 12:30 p.m., WMAQ-TV), Family Court with Judge Penny (WCIU-TV at 11 a.m.), Judge Karen (WCIU at 2 and 2:30 p.m.), The Doctors (WCIU at 5 p.m.), The Bonnie Hunt Show (WMAQ, 2 p.m.) and Trivial Pursuit: America Plays (WPWR-TV at 3 and 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 22).

Warner Bros. is launching Judge Jeanne Pirro on The CW Sept. 22 (weekdays at 3 p.m. in all time zones.)

Meredith Broadcasting is rolling out Better in more markets (including WPHL-TV in Philadelphia), while Montel and Judge Hatchett are only going to be available in repeats only (Hatchett is moving to WCIU at 9 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. beginning Sept. 8, while Montel is vanishing from Chicago airwaves entirely.)

As far as off-net strips are concerned, only Tyler Perry's House of Payne is launching on Sept. 22 (at 7 p.m. on WCIU), while the second cycle of That's '70's Show begins on Sept. 8 (airing locally over WCIU-TV at 11:30 p.m. "70's" had been airing on WFLD-TV and WPWR-TV.)

Punk'd has also been picked up by WCIU, likely airing after midnight.

Weekends have Desperate Housewives, Monk, and American Idol Rewind on WPWR, and CSI: NY on WBBM-TV. WLS-TV has picked up Boston Legal. Two new shows - Legends of the Seeker and a sketch comedy show titled Bananas, have been picked up by WGN-TV and WCIU, respectively.

The casualty list

So far, these are the shows leaving syndication:

Confirmed: Temptation, Judge Maria Lopez (both canceled), CSI: Miami (to make room for CSI: NY), Soul Train (repeats)

Rumoured/Not confirmed: It's Showtime at the Apollo, The Shield (but the program has been confirmed canceled on FX.)