Monday, August 31, 2009

Disney acquires Marvel Entertainment

I can see it now... Goofy and Captain America starring in the new buddy comedy, The Goofball and the Superhero.

Maybe not.

But the owners of those properties are hooking up with each in a $4 billion dollar cash and stock deal.

In a rather rare merger deal in this magnitude in this economic climate, The Walt Disney Co. announced Monday it was acquiring Marvel Entertainment. The deal gives The Mouse House control over characters from the comic-book conglomerate including Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, The Fantastic Four, and thousands of others.

Some of those characters have headlined several big-time motion pictures, notably the Spider-Man franchise and Fantastic Four, bringing in millions upon millions of dollars in box-office revenue.

For Disney, the acquisition is good news for its television and film properties as the Marvel franchise attracts male teenagers and young men - as opposed to Disney's traditional offerings for young girls and young women.

The deal also gives Disney access to hours of Marvel-related television series - which it can fill on its male 9-14-targeted Disney XD digital cable channel, which competes with Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network for the same audience, especially with the latter's success (at least in this demo) of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

For the time being, all existing contracts with non-owned Disney properties (such as Cartoon Network) will be honored. And Marvel-themed rides with Universal Studios Theme Parks (which is a rival to Disney's parks) will also continue, for now. But don't be surprised if the word "synergy" between Disney and Marvel becomes common down the road.

Meanwhile, comic-book fans are weary of the new found relationship between Marvel and Disney, fearing The Mouse House's squeaky-clean reputation would interfere with the storylines, which feature some characters who are hardcore alcoholics, wife-beaters, drug dealers, and murderers.

It's enough to make The Big Bang Theory's Sheldon to go on a rant for days... and days.... and...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

"Real Housewives" head to NBC O&Os for 2010

The NBC-owned stations have made a deal with co-owned NBC Universal Television Distribution to begin airing off-cable repeats of The Real Housewives Of... as a weekday strip beginning in the fall of 2010. Locally, the program will air in a unspecified time period on WMAQ-TV.

The program has also been sold to Hearst Broadcasting, which means the series will also air as a strip over ABC affiliates WISN-TV in Milwaukee and WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh, plus NBC affiliate WBAL-TV in Baltimore. The series is being sold on an all-barter basis.

The series currently airs on Bravo!, which is also owned by NBC Universal.

The program usually follows the lives of five housewives in a real-life docu-soap version of Desperate Housewives. The activities can range from the gals attending charity events to... well, fighting one another.

Four editions of the show have been shot - in New Jersey, New York, Atlanta, and Orange County (Calif.) The Atlanta version has been extremely popular, drawing 2.7 million viewers for its second season premiere. Plus, the Atlanta version has been a huge draw among African-American viewers, ranking at or near the top every week among cable in black homes according to Nielsen.

Meanwhile, the season finale of the New Jersey version drew 4.6 million in June.

One negative for the show's broadcast syndication run is the interchangeability of the cast with the different editions, a problem plaguing most reality shows. Keep in mind though, off-network repeats of Cops is set in a different city almost every episode and has been a staple of broadcast syndication since 1992. On the other hand, interchangeability did not help Rescue 911 or America's Most Wanted: Final Justice when they entered off-network syndication.

With the NBC O&Os taking Housewives for 2010, it means one of three shows on NBC O&Os' daytime schedule could be a target for cancellation - NBC Universal's Martha, which has struggled since its' inception; Deal or No Deal, which has so-so numbers; and The Bonnie Hunt Show, which is limping into season two. There's also Ellen, who like Bonnie is syndicated by Warner Bros., but Ms. Degeneres' show continues to perform well, so a defection isn't likely.

NBC's WRC in Washington D.C. does not air Deal or Martha.

As for Real Housewives' future on Bravo, the next edition is expected to take place in D.C. A Chicago edition is also being discussed.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

WLIT names new morning show

WLIT-FM announced its new morning show team - with a familiar voice.

That's because the new morning man (Sean Valentine) has worked in Chicago radio before - he was the morning personality for WKSC-FM from 2001 to 2003, before Drex took over.

And like it was when Valentine was doing mornings at WKSC, his new morning show will be piped-in from - you guessed it, Los Angeles.

Both WLIT and WKSC are owned by Clear Channel Communications.

The move is being made after the Adult Contemporary outlet canceled Melissa Forman's show after two years of low ratings.

Joining Valentine (from a studio in Chicago) is former WNUA personality Karen Williams, who will provide traffic and weather, and Irma Blanco, formerly of Mancow's Morning Madhouse, when it was on WRCX, one of the forerunners of WKSC on the 103.5 frequency.

The festivities begin Sept. 2.

Thought: Was going to put the headline on Twitter first, but when you have a rant, 140 characters isn't just enough.

This is by far, the most stupidest move Clear Channel has made.... this month. This from a company that has a history of making them, and this inane move gives us just more proof of how Cheap Channel continues to destroy radio.

This new morning show is nothing but a sloppy cut-and-paste job Clear Channel has foisted on its Chicago Adult Contemporary audience. If this company can surprise veteran employees by giving them the pink slip unexpectedly, ushering them out the door at a moment's notice by mailroom employees, and having their stuff they left behind being thrown out the windows, what makes you think they have any respect for their listening audience? With this move, they have admitted local voices don't matter anymore.

And don't give me this economy bullcrap. With more than a few local television stations expanding local programming (from adding local newscasts to adding local sports, talk, and magazine shows) across the country - even in this shaky economy, this move makes Cheap Channel even more foolish.

Clear Channel may be headed for bankruptcy because of its heavy debt burden - which could force the company to sell off stations. Maybe its all for the best, because Clear Channel has already inflicted enough damage on the radio industry.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Weigel's South Bend deal falls through

A deal to sell for Chicago-based Weigel Broadcasting to sell three low-power TV stations to WSBT owner Schurz Communications in South Bend has fallen through.

Weigel, who owns ABC affiliate WBND-TV, CW affiliate WCWW-TV and My Network TV affiliate WMYS-TV planned to sell the trio to Schurz, who in addition to the ratings-dominant CBS affiliate also owns the South Bend Tribune.

The deal was supposed to approved by the FCC after it was announced in August 2008, but was continuously delayed. Weigel officials were so adamant about the deal getting done, President Howard Shapiro reportedly showed up at the FCC one day last month with a sign that said "Please Decide".

If the deal had gone through, Schurz would have owned one full-powered station and three LPTVs.

With the deal off the table, the trio will focus on its fall syndicated lineup for 2009-2010 season, which includes new fare such as The Wendy Williams Show and the most recent incarnation of America's Funniest Home Videos.

The other two full-powered stations in the South Bend/Elkhart market are Gray Communications WNDU-TV, an NBC affiliate located on Notre Dame University; and Fox affiliate WSJV-TV, which was an ABC affiliate until 1995.

Monday, August 24, 2009

T Dog's Four Pack

The last few weeks had some noteworthy stories, and here's how it all went down: the good and the bad.


- Rick Bayless win Top Chef: Masters. Yes, our town's own Rick Bayless won Top Chef: Masters last week, just giving us more proof he's more talented than his brother, Skip.

- Project Runway. The move to Lifetime and a year off the year didn't faze this fashion-design reality program: the season premiere drew 4.2 million viewers.

- Brett Favre is back. Good news for the NFL, the networks, and especially the Minnesota Vikings - not so for the rest of us.

- Futurama voice cast signs new deal. And you were worried... that is, unless your name was Paula Abdul.


- Chicago media coverage of a Wrigley Field beer-thrower. It was the top local story on all outlets the day after it happened. And once again, all of Chicago has to stop because of some idiot misbehaving at Wrigley Field. Gee, maybe they should've gone all-out, break into local programming, and had helicopters hover over the guy until he turned himself in. This isn't L.A., you morons.

- Cartoon Network. Ratings for toons declining, and most of their new live-action series have tanked (except for Destroy Build Destroy, which was recently renewed for a second season. ) Idenity crisis?

- WWJ-TV's coverage of Detroit Lions pre-season games. Click this thread and read the reactions by Detroiters on the CBS O&O's (yes, a CBS O&O) lackluster production of a pre-season game between the Lions and the Falcons. It was so bad, airing it in black-and-white would have been an improvement. Who said the production quality of the team's games on TV would exactly match the product on the field?

- Advertisers, the Glenn Beck controversy, and television in general. After Glenn Beck called President Obama "a racist" on a Fox News show, some advertisers shifted their money out of his show on the same network after a left-leaning political group complained. Now a right-leaning political group is threatening to boycott advertisers who pull out of Beck's show.

Advertisers absolutely hate being in the middle of political controversy. It's basically the case of pleasing one group and alienating the other. And with these watchdog groups' control over the medium these days (especially after the Superbowl Halftime Show debacle a few years back), it's the television and radio industries that turns out to be the biggest losers of all, with already more than a few advertisers cutting back spending on both mediums. I don't think we need to be sold anymore Sham-Wows and Craftmatic Adjustable Beds.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

"Millionaire" finds windfall in Chicago again

"Is that your final answer?" is becoming a popular phrase in Chicago again.

While Who Wants To Be A Millionaire has not caught fire in the ratings like it did in August 1999 when it first premiered, it has rekindled its love affair in the Windy City. According to Nielsen, Millionaire's return to ABC's prime-time lineup has paid dividends for ABC O&O WLS-TV in its 7 p.m. time slot.

Scheduled to run for eleven nights only, the run so far has been a hit in Chicago, with its household ratings the highest among the ten largest markets. For the first seven nights, Millionaire has averaged a 6.4 household rating and 13 share. The program has also been a huge draw in Philadelphia and Atlanta, two markets whose ABC affiliates (like WLS-TV in Chicago) dominate the local ratings in their home markets.

Wednesday's airing of Millionaire in Chicago
drew a 7.6/13, the highest among the ten largest markets.

However, the picture nationally is a different story. The results have been disappointing, with the program drawing 7 million viewers overall and drawing only mid-1s in the ad-friendly adult 18-49 demo, meaning the program is skewing older.

The program became a regular series on ABC in January 2000, airing as much as four times a week, and drawing 20 million viewers an airing. Celebrity editions later came along, and with the public tiring of the show, ratings inevitably declined and wound up exiting ABC's schedule in June 2002.

Millionaire moved into first-run syndication in September 2002 as a strip with a new host (Meredith Vierra) and was a surprise hit for Buena Vista Television, coming years after failing with first-run game show strips Win, Lose, or Draw (which stumbled around between 1987 and 1990) and The Challengers.

After one uneventful year at CBS-owned WBBM-TV, the program moved to WGN-TV in 2003, where it has been since. Last year, the program was upgraded to 5 p.m. to lead into a new half hour evening newscast, where it performs decently in the ratings.

Millionaire currently averages a 2.4 rating, ahead of several game shows in syndication, including Deal or No Deal, Family Feud, and the now-canceled Trivial Pursuit. Clearances are above-average for a syndicated show with several ABC O&Os in its lineup (WABC-TV in New York, WPVI-TV in Philadelphia, KGO-TV in San Francisco, and KTRK-TV in Houston, among others.)

Recently, the Indian version of Millionaire was centered around a plot for Slumdog Millionaire, which took home an Oscar Award for Best Movie.

Millionaire's prime-time run wraps up this Sunday.

T Dog Media Blog Archive: A change is afoot for Millionaire

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

You've got to freakin' be kidding me...

For the first time in my life, I feel sorry for Packers fans....

Yeah, I know. It's been a slow month for news.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag- The Animated Edition

A ton of news featuring Family Guy and South Park today here in The Grab Bag. It's like having Cubs fans and White Sox fans together in the same room. Oh-Oh... Hey, no beer throwing!

- To build up Emmy buzz for its nomination as a Best Outstanding Comedy Nominee, the producers of Family Guy held a live table reading Wedensday night in Los Angeles, and the episode being read was centered on Lois agreeing on being a surrogate mother and complicating whether or not to have an abortion. Series creator Seth McFarlane stated that Fox would not air the episode, given the controversial nature of it.

The abortion issue is still a touchy subject in today's circles, and one advertisers won't go near. A two-part Maude episode centering on abortion generated protests from anti-abortion groups and caused 40 CBS affiliates to pre-empt the show when the episodes were reran in August 1973 (Maude's Dilemma originally aired on November 14 and 21, 1972.)

In 1989, NBC lost more than $1 million in revenue after advertisers bailed out of a TV movie, Roe vs. Wade.

An episode dealing with the issue on the Canadian teen drama Degrassi High was banned from airing on U.S. television.

Though Fox won't air the episode, it will likely wind up on a season DVD set. To see video from the table read, click here.

- As for episodes that will air on Fox, conservatives Karl Rowe and radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh will lend their voices on an episode where Brian fins there is nothing to complain about after Obama becomes President, he becomes a Republican. MacFarlane admitted his writing staff is liberal, hence all the conservative bashing. This is not the first time Limbaugh has lent his voice to Family Guy: he did so in Blue harvest, but curiously, not in an episode where he was a "character" played by Fred Savage.

Also on tap: Lois finds out she's Jewish and not Protestant.

- Also on the Family Guy front, Seth McFarlane also revealed something we already knew: Stewie Griffin is gay. In an interview with Playboy magazine (due out next month),MacFarlane talks about an upcoming episode where Stewie gets knocked about it at school, and he winds up going back in time to prevent a passage in the book of Leviticus from being written. Macfarlane and the writers decided to keep Stewie's homosexuality vague because of the toddler's age.

Thought: All right... Stewie's gay, we get it. It's something a fan of the show like yours truly has known for years. But hasn't Stewie shown interest in women before, even in an episode that aired last season? I suppose the proper term here is bisexual. I guess character development isn't Seth MacFarlane's forte.

- Meanwhile, the producers of South Park and Comedy Central were basically tired of their arch nemesis Seth McFarlane grabbing all the headlines. So they announced on Thursday they were making the original version of the first full-length episode of South Park available online at It is basically an extended version of Cartman Gets An Anal Probe, which premiered on August 13, 1997 (right to the very day of this announcement.) The episode is only available online through September 12.

Though the linked article and South Park Studios states Cartman Gets An Anal Probe is the pilot of the series, it really isn't. The original "pilot" was a five-minute video Christmas card sent out to friends by Matt Stone and Trey Parker, featuring a duel between Jesus and Santa Claus. Wouldn't be cool if this was posted on the site as well?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Melissa Forman out at WLIT

WGN wins July PPM survey overall; WTMX dominated 25-54s; Rock stations and WKSC gains; WLS-AM declines.

The second time isn't so great after all.

Clear Channel's WLIT-FM has dropped Melissa Forman and her show from the morning time slot at the station after two years. The move was due to declining ratings.

Forman was one of only two live personalities on the station. No word on who will replace her.

WLIT brought back Forman after the station dropped Whoopi Goldberg's ill-fated syndicated radio show in 2007. Forman previously held down the slot from 2001 to 2006, when Goldberg's morning show debuted.

The move comes a day after the July PPM numbers were released, which showed WTMX-FM's Eric and Kathy Show on top among adults 25-54, handily beating Forman's show in the demo and in Persons 6+.

As for PPM numbers, WGN-AM remained on top in Persons 6+, but WTMX took the crown in Adults 25-54. Gains were recorded in 6+ by WLUP (The Loop), WJMK (Jack FM), and WKSC-FM (Kiss), which dominated CHR rival WBBM-FM.

Along with WBBM-FM, other losers in 6+ included WKQX (Q101), WLS-AM, WPPN-FM, and WNUA-FM, who switched to Spanish Pop music last spring. WNUA's ratings has to be a disappointment, given the market's large Hispanic population.

Also fading fast is WLS-AM, which dropped to 24th in the adults 25-54 demo. With this performance, it's off to the loser's circle.

To see the 6+ numbers for July, click here. To see the Adults 25-54 numbers, click here. And to see how Chicago's two sports stations are stacking up against each other, click here (and the race between WMVP and WSCR is oh so close...)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

T Dog's Think Tank: Limo-for-a-Lame-O Jr. finally drives away

How does it feel to become the second Silverman in history to screw up a network - in fact, the SAME network ? Goodbye, Mr. "Party All The Time". Don't hit your head when you get in that limo...

Yours truly doesn't know if the departure of Ben Silverman will immediately improve NBC's fortunes. But it is a start.

Yes, Ben "Party All The Time" Silverman departed the peacock network in a surprising shake-up a few weeks ago, just two years as NBC's Co-Chairman of the network's Entertainment division and of Universal Media Studios to work for IAC, a new start-up headed by former Fox executive Barry Diller.

But the party was over for Silverman basically before it began. While he founded a production company responsible for several TV hits (The Office, Ugly Betty, The Biggest Loser), he was unable to translate that success over to his role to NBC.

And of course, there was his reputation as a partyman and socialite in Hollywood circles - and many say his constant partying hurt his job performance at NBC.

During his tenure, he presided over a prime-time schedule full of bad shows like Kath & Kim and Parks & Recreation - or anything else with an ampersand, remade shows the audience really didn't embrace the first time around (American Gladiators, Knight Rider, and Bionic Woman), and remade reality shows nobody watched to begin with (I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here.) In fact, the revival of I'm A Celebrity in June represented the low point of Silverman's tenure at NBC (actually, there have been several.) The program was a critical and ratings failure.

Silverman's disastrous tenure at the network reminded many of another Silverman who jag-bagged NBC thirty years ago - Fred Silverman, who was unable to translate his success at CBS and ABC to the Peacock Network, who was mired in last place at the time. During his tenure as NBC network president between 1978 and 1981, greenlighted gems like Pink Lady and Jeff, Sheriff Lobo, Hello, Larry (that's one name, but no laughs), Supertrain, and BJ and the Bear. Though Fred and Ben aren't related, NBC might want to think twice before hiring anyone named Silverman again to run their network.

This era's Silverman should have been parodied in a Saturday Night Live sketch mocking him in the same way like the elder Silverman was: in 1980, comedian (and now U.S. Senator) Al Franken satirized Fred Silverman in A Limo-for-a-Lame-O mockumentary during a Weekend Update segment. He felt Silverman did not deserve to be riding around in a limousine like a big shot given the way he drove the network into the ground.

But while Ben Silverman has bailed out of the NBC sinking ship, the captain is still on board.

Jeff "Doogie" Zucker, the CEO of NBC Universal - is still there. When he arrived, NBC was on top. But after stalwarts Friends and Fraiser departed, the network failed to develop hits. He screwed over programmer Kevin Reilly, who later went to Fox. And it got even worse with Silverman.

Zucker now wants to focus on the NBC's cable properties, while the broadcast network is falling apart. Prime-time is a mess. Conan O'Brien's inheritance of the Tonight Show throne has gotten the program's median age younger, but ratings in other demos have declined. Some O&Os (notably WNBC in New York and WTVJ in Miami) have struggled. And finally, there is some apprehension over the network airing Jay Leno as a strip this fall at 9 p.m. Central.

And then there are the acres and acres of clueless executives at the network (there's more of them?) who are about as professional as a can of tree stump.

NBC's executive session at the recent Television Critics Association Press Tour was a disaster, with exces Angela Bromstad and Paul Telady looking like deer in headlights not knowing what to say or do, further cementing NBC's reputation as the Nitwit Bumbling Company. They stood there for an half-hour, slinging out a whole bunch of bullshit: "...[Heroes] is doing well creatively.", said Bromstad at the press tour. Everyone run for cover, lightning is about to strike where those two are standing. These morons would be the first in line for the Limos for Lame-Os program.

And then, there's this lovely gem at the press tour from Rescue Me showrunner Peter Tolan on NBC stripping Jay Leno every weeknight: "I feel they should take the American flag down in front of [NBC's] building and just put up a white one, because they've clearly given up. They've clearly just said, 'Look, we can't develop. We can't develop anything that's going to stick. We have - clearly can't find anything with any traction, so we quit.'"

But all the news isn't bad - NBC Universal's cable networks are experiencing terrific growth. WMAQ's late news is growing in households. WRC in Washington D.C. remains the market's top-rated station and news operation. Today continues to be a cash cow for the network.

And so its little wonder why Zucker promote Jeff Gaspin to co-run the entertainment division with Marc Graboff. Gaspin has a solid track record running the network's cable division. The cable side has produced profitable hits such as Project Runway, Burn Notice, Monk, The Bad Girls Club, Battlestar Galactica, and others.

If this was only done in the first place. While yours truly can't predict how Gaspin will do, he should be an improvement over Silverman - a person who clearly wasn't mature enough to run a broadcast network (or a Dairy Queen)- even jointly.

But the negatives outweigh the positives. Keep in mind prime-time broadcast network television is still the bread-and-butter of this business. It still generates more revenue than cable networks does. Zucker's management style is inept at best, and NBC is now in a hole it can't seem to climb out of. We are waiting for the other shoe to drop, and if the new guy can't turn it around and soon, Doogie will be gone too.

Promoting Gaspin is a first step in restoring NBC's prime-time credibility and hopefully, he'll create compelling programming instead of lame revivals of Harper Valley PTA and Adam-12 disguised as Parks & Recreation and Southland, which was the norm under the leadership of Limo for-a-Lame-O Jr.

If you still have doubts on Gaspin's credentials, look at this way: at least Zucker didn't replace Ben Silverman with Gary Coleman.

Hey, let's go retro! This is was what the other Silverman - Fred, that is - was responsible for in the late 1970's and early 1980's. Enjoy! 

Sunday, August 09, 2009


The final day of the press tour came Saturday, and it was ABC's turn to face the press.


- During the ABC executive session, Stephen McPherson talked about ABC's aggressive new series push this fall - eight in all - airing Tuesday through Friday (more on this a little later.)

- But the big news is McPherson wants Paula Abdul to become a judge or be a constestant on Dancing With The Stars. Ms. Abdul has become the off-season's most sought after free agent, after she aburptly left American Idol after eight seasons last week. But keep in mind the price could be high if you want her as a judge on Dancing, Mr. McPherson.

- Other than the departures of Rebecca Romajn from Ugly Betty, TR Knight from Grey's Anatomy, and a Scrubs cast shake-up, there are no other major cast changes due at returning ABC shows.

- ABC canceled animated comedy The Goode Family and live-action sitcom Surviving Suburbia.
Wait, these shows were on the air?

- Okay, on to the fall lineup - ABC announced eight spanking new programs, including an all-new Wednesday night line-up and two highly-anticipated science-fiction series.

Four new sitcoms line Wednesday, in consecutive order: Hank, The Middle, Modern Family, and Cougar Town.

Also being added is new Tuesday night drama The Forgotten.

ABC is introdcing two new sci-fi series: Flash Forward, which airs Thursday nights at 7 p.m., and V, a remake of the '80's NBC mini-series and regular series of the same letter. The latter is being moved up from a January debut to a November one, where it replaces new reality series Shark Tank, which had a sneek peek tonight.

Disney/ABC Domestic Television

- This wasn't part of the tour, but it is news nonetheless: Disney/ABC's syndicated At The Movies is dropping Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz after just one season taking over for Richard Roeper and Roger Ebert. Instead, the movie-review show will go back to the "dueling critics" format it once had and is bringing back fill-in host Michael Phillips, a film critic for the Chicago Tribune. New to the show this season is A.O. Scott from the New York Times.

The series plans to continue shooting at WLS-TV's 190 N. State Street studios in Chicago.


Announced earlier in the press tour: ESPN plans a documentary on Steve Bartman and the Cubs ill-fated 2003 playoff run, in which he interfered with a foul ball which some say cost the team a chance to go to the World Series.

Can they leave this guy alone? Of course not, since this is The Worldwide Leader in B.S. we're talking about.

TCA: Fox

There is a lot to talk about regarding Fox in their press tour presentations, which took place Thursday and Friday:


- Of course, the big story is Paula Abdul leaving American Idol after eight years. At the Fox executive panel, executives Kevin Reilly and Peter Rice said they were talking to her for the last few months regarding a new contract, but was unable to make any headway. As for who would replace Ms. Abdul, Fox may look to female guest judges to fill the gap until a permanent solution could be found.

- What will this mean for Idol's ratings? While the execs say it shouldn't have any effect on the ratings, the numbers for Idol have slid this past season, and could slide even more with the departure of Paula Abdul. She was an integral part of the show, and there are many who turned into the show to see her give her "unique" view of things.

- On to other shows, Fox premieres several new programs this fall, including Brothers, Glee, The Cleveland Show, and Wanda Sykes' new Saturday night show.

- Brothers - not related to the 1984 Showtime sitcom featuring Joe Walden and Paul Regina - was screened for critics at the tour. And like its sitcom counterpart from a quarter-century ago, the program (starring Michael Strahan and Darryl "Chill" Mitchell) generated few laughs from critcs. Unlike the Showtime sitcom - which lasted for five painstakingly long years - this Brothers probably won't last five episodes. Sadly, this is more suited for Tyler Perry's block of shows on cable's TBS than for Fox.

Maybe they can hire Phillip Charles McKenzie to save the show...

- Glee was screened at the tour as well, but the musical drama got a much better reception from the crowd at Comic-Con. The premise of the show is a teacher trying to make over the high school glee club. But given the track record of musical dramas on TV, this might not work as well as Fox thinks. The show that comes closest to being a hit in this genre was Fame, which ran on NBC for two seasons and then moved to first-run syndication and then pretty much dropped off the face of the earth after that.

- Fox had a table read for The Cleveland Show at the tour. The Family Guy spin-off is replacing last year's occupant (King of the Hill) and should improve the time period's rating and share. As for Hill, it's done - the network said it has no plans to air the six remaining episodes it has in the can. It is likely the unaired episodes will air in broadcast syndication and on Adult Swim (a DVD release though, is not likely.)

A network leaving behind unaired series is nothing new - in 1990, ABC did not air the final episodes of Mr. Belvedere, and the same network passed on airing the last few episodes of Dinosaurs in 1994 (except the controversial series finale, which did air.) The unaired episodes of both series did run in syndication.

- A thought: Why is Fox airing the remaining episodes of Sit Down, Shut Up Saturday nights after Wanda Sykes' new show, but not King of the Hill?

- Fox also had a panel for Human Target, a new action drama targeted for midseason.

- Wanda Sykes' new Saturday late-night series premieres on November 7, after baseball season is over.


FX had an executive panel at TCA on Friday, with President John Landgraf defending his network as the place to be for entertainment programming targeted to an adult audience, as his programming (The Shield and Nip/Tuck) are often targeted by special-interest groups because of their excessive sex and violence.

Landgraf also discussed the network's future, as the network is producing more pilots in its history. One of those pilots is from comedian Louie CK, as the net is trying to broaden out more toward comedy.

-But the most controversial comments coming from the press tour thus far came from Rescue Me showrunner Peter Tolan, while during a panel on his show, shared his thoughts regarding NBC stripping Jay Leno five nights a week:

"I feel they should take the American flag down in front of [NBC's]building and just put up a white one, because they have given up."

Ouch. Given NBC's lousy TCA presentation - especially from those two idiot executives on stage, you think he might be on to something?

- Gee, Fox News didn't have a panel at TCA this year. I wonder why that is...

Saturday, August 08, 2009


NBC Universal had its presentation at the Television Critics Association press tour on Tuesday and Wednesday:


- Two NBC executives (Angela Bromstad and Paul Telady) came out to reporters and pretty much gave the same, usual canned responses you hear at the press tour every year. They downplayed Ben Silverman's departure from the network; vaguely described the ratings expectations for The Jay Leno Show, which will air as a prime-time strip beginning Sept. 14; and said Heroes "is doing well creatively" - which we all know is a flat out lie. Telady also talked about an "NBC Brand". I guess when you have a lineup of programs like Heroes and Parks and Recreation, I guess you can't go wrong - especially when NBC stands for Nothing But Crap.

In other words, look for the peacock network to stay in fourth place next season. Their idiotic exec session pretty much told journalists that.

- New shows coming this fall are Community, Mercy, Trauma, and of course The Jay Leno Show. Parenthood is being held until midseason due to a personal tragedy that happened to one of its stars.

- Midseason has a show called Day One from former Heroes producer Jesse Alexander. Day One indeed, because that's when this stupid project jumped the shark.

- Can anyone tell me why the Nitwit Broadcasting Company has two medical dramas (Mercy, Trauma) on its fall line-up? Sure, they needed a replacement because of the Parenthood situation, but come on...

-Chevy Chase is in the new comedy Community, which will lead out of The Office on Thursday Nights this fall. The last time Chevy Chase was in a regularly scheduled television gig was a late night talk show for Fox, which lasted all of five weeks in 1993, and considered one of the biggest flops in television history.


- First it was Imagine Greater. Now the new slogan is House of Imagination. Why don't they call themselves House of Morons and get it over with?

I liked the first two I came up with: Imagine Dumber and Beyond Stupid.

- SyFy announced they ordered a pilot titled Alpha, which is a scripted show which follows five people who have incredible mental skills. With this is hand, they form their own vigilante justice group.

Is it just me, or does this sound a lot like Heroes to you?


USA Network, which is having success with scripted dramas like Burn Notice this summer, is aggressively developing even more dramas for the future. Projects in development include Facing Kate, Crash Dummies, and a project from legendary producer Stephen J. Cannell and Scott Kaufer.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

TCA: CBS and The CW

CBS Corp. held panels for its CBS and The CW (which it partly owns with Time Warner) and its syndicated series The Doctors on Monday and Tuesday. Among the highlights:


- An executive session with Nina Tassler kicked off the CBS portion of the tour on Monday. She talked about improved ratings for Letterman (thanks to Leno's departure from late night), blasted NBC for handling Medium poorly (it moves to CBS this fall), explained why the network didn't renew Without A Trace (skewed too old), and refused to comment on Ben Silverman's departure from NBC, but did say she's really "a D girl", whatever that means.

But if she can keep a network Numero Uno in the ratings, we know this: D doesn't stand for dumb.

- The network unveiled its new shows to the press, including Accidentally on Purpose, The Good Wife, Three Rivers, and NCIS: Los Angleles. (the latter two were actually repensented at the set vists the critics attended.)

While some think Wife and the NCIS spin-off will do well, they said boo to Purpose (a really dumb concept) and Rivers.

The CW

The CW had its portion of the press tour on Tuesday, and had an exec session with Dawn Ostroff.

- Don't ask how The CW has stayed afloat in an economy where even Arena Football can't survive. But the show must go on, and Ostroff is forging ahead with the focus on women 18-34 as the net's main demo.

- CW is programming only ten hours in prime-time this fall, but with new shows that are actually generating buzz - Vampire Diaries, Beautiful Life, The New Melrose Place, and midseason entry Life Unexpected.

- Ostroff said the net is staying out of the sitcom business for now. Probably a wise strategy - it has never had a hit in this category.

- She also said she is looking for more retro programs to revive - but if it only fits the core demo of women 18-34. That means no revivals of The Dukes of Hazard or My Name Is Earl.

- If Melrose Place 2009 and Vampire Diaries bring it in the ratings department, it will likely save this struggling network. But even if these shows flop, strong support from the ad community will likely keep The CW afloat. After all, the demo target is also the most likely to go shopping and spend money. Like it or not, the network is here to stay.

LOL: The CW also announced celebrity judges to fill in once a week on America's Next Top Model this fall. Among the names are Iman, Lauren Conrad, and JosieMaran. But one poster at was not impressed when Kim Kardashian was announced as a guest judge (scroll down):

"Why is Kim a judge? Are they doing sex tapes as part of a challenge this season?"

Man, you can't make stuff like this up.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Harry Porterfield returns to Channel 2

One of Chicago's most recognizable faces is coming home after... wait for it... 24 years!

That's right. Harry Porterfield - who was an anchor at WBBM-TV for 21 years before moving over to WLS-TV in 1985, is returning to the CBS-owned station on August 10, anchoring the 11 a.m. newscast.

The 81 year-old Porterfield is also bringing the Someone You Should Know segments back to the station, as well.

Porterfield's contract was not renewed at WLS due to budget cuts.

A lot of people in Chicago media circles certainly remember Porterfield's controversial departure from Channel 2 as a turning point in the ratings in Chicago television.

In 1985, WBBM dropped Porterfield from the station after 21 years, and his firing caused an uproar in the African-American community. The Rev. Jesse Jackson and Operation PUSH led a boycott against WBBM, which cost the station ratings and ad revenue.

WBBM's ratings were already declining at the time, thanks to its lineup of aging off-network dramas (Hart to Hart and Quincy), the decline of 9 a.m. talk stalwart Donahue (thanks in part to Oprah Winfrey), and the expensive failure of first-run talk show America, which bottomed out in early fringe after three months on the air.

Meanwhile, WBBM's parent (CBS) had its own problems - a Ted Turner takeover attempt, a drop to second place in prime-time ratings, and cutbacks throughout its CBS-owned station division (by 1988, the network would drop to third place overall in households and adults 18-49.)

When Porterfield joined WLS, their ratings were on the upswing - along with The Oprah Winfrey Show, it added red-hot hits Jeporady! and Wheel of Fortune to the station a year earlier, and the rest was history. in March 1986, WLS swept its news competitors and has done so ever since. Even ABC's prime-time topped the market at a time when the network was struggling against a strong NBC and a much weaker CBS.

Since Porterfield left WBBM, and excluding books with Winter Olympics, WBBM has never been able to return to the top spot in news or programming, and tried gimmicks including tabloid-influenced newscasts and revamping its news set at least a gazillion times - not to mention a thousand anchor switches.

Note: If you click on the link to the story, scroll down to the bottom and check out a video library of Mr. Porterfield's work, including a few profiles on Harold Washington and the historic 1983 election when became Chicago's first African-American Mayor.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Let's Make a Deal, CBS

It looks like Howie Mandel isn't the only person making a "Deal" in daytime.

CBS is slotting a revival of Let's Make A Deal in the time slot vacated by Guiding Light beginning Sept. 21, with new host Wayne Brady.

Even though Light is slotted at 3 p.m. (ET) in most areas, Let's Make A Deal is expected to be paired with The Price Is Right at 10 a.m. (ET) to give CBS a two-hour game show block and the 3 p.m. hour is expected to be returned to affiliates. Many of them had been airing Light at 10 a.m. (9 a.m. in Chicago) anyway.

Let's Make A Deal premiered on December 30, 1963 on NBC in color with Monty Hall as host. When NBC and Monty Hall entered an impasse in contract renewal negotiations with NBC in December 1968, he took the popular show to ABC and helped the struggling network gain traction in daytime, eventually passing the peacock network for second place. In fact, the deal would have ramifications for NBC for decades, as the network hasn't climbed out of third place since. The series would run on ABC until July 9, 1977.

In 1971, ABC Films (which became Worldvision Enterprises two years later) sold Let's Make A Deal in weekly first-run syndication where it became a huge early evening prime-access smash hit. This version ended in 1977 as well.

Later versions of the show were less successful. A 1980 syndicated version taped in Canada failed, and a 1984-86 syndicated version of the show (from Telepictures) didn't gain much traction. A 1990-91 NBC daytime version with Bob Hilton as host did not have the success the mid-1960's version did earlier on the network (because of a scheduling conflict, KNBC in Los Angeles - an NBC O&O - aired the program at 3:30 a.m. for its first few months!)

NBC tried again to launch the show in prime-time in 2003, but it too did not go anywhere.

Details of this new version are sketchy, but should be unveiled at the TCA Press Tour on Monday.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

T Dog's Four Pack - The Summit

There have been some conflicts in the media world lately. So let's have a T Dog's Four Pack Beer Summit - where we can hash out our differences and make the world a better place. Or not...

A four pack worthy of Budwesier and Miller Genuine Draft

- Mark Burhele's Perfect Game. The first Chicago pitcher to throw a perfecto in more than 70 years. Mark, This Bud's for You.

- Dewaynne Wise. And what about the catch to save the save Burhele's perfect game? Catch of the year. Dewaynne Wise is The Silver Bullet!

- Comic-Con. The 40th anniversary of this gathering has proven to be one of the most successful one yet. Raise a Heineken and toast Comic-Con to 40 more years!

- Ben Silverman leaves NBC. Good riddance to Mr. Party All The Time, who always looks like he chugged down one too many Samuel Adams. Hopefully, Zuckhead is next.

A four pack you need to take back to Kenwood Liquors

- Patricia Heaton's new comedy The Middle at Comic-Con. Wrong target audience, wrong venue, wrong everything. And you wonder why only 75 people showed up. Even worse, they were serving Zima.

- "Asking the Questions". Okay Fox 32, here's a question I'm asking: who created this inane marketing slogan for your newscasts? The same geniuses behind Stroh's? Especially since you're not really getting any answers - and the sub-par ratings show it.

- Adult animation. A recent repeat episode of King of the Hill showed incivility toward Canada - a blatant ripoff of South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut. The subject had also been covered on The Simpsons, Family Guy, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and South Park. Remember when the plots on these shows weren't so interchangeable? Can't wait for The Cleveland Show episode where Cleveland drinks Labatts Beer and decides to bomb British Columbia.

- The not-so-hot Summer of 2009. We all knew Summer TV would suck this year. But the weather too? It has been about as nasty as Old Style Beer.

T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag - The TCA edition

More from the bi-annual gathering in Pasadena, with cable on display:

- BET had its presentation and is introducing two new programs: a new reality docu-drama featuring R&B singer Monica, and one featuring comedian Monique Ines-Jackson (better known as Mo'Nique.) Broadcasting & Cable also had an interview with BET Chairman Debra Lee. Click here to read.

- National Geographic is once again planning to air Expedition Week, featuring documentaries about the Amazon, people who capture - and release - sharks, and life on Mars. The channel is also launching a new series titled Rescue Ink, which features tattooed guys - some with criminal backgrounds - who rescue abandoned and abused animals (while yours truly commends them on what they do, this show sounds like a bad 1970s Saturday Morning Cartoon.)

- HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm will stage a Seinfeld reunion - of sorts. The original cast members plan to appear on the show playing themselves in episodes that start this fall. Larry David produced and wrote Seinfeld for several years.

- Keith Carradine and Valerie Perrine will join the cast for the second season of Starz's Crash, which bows on September 18. The series of course, is based on the Oscar-winning film of the same name.

- Among Comcast Entertainment Group's highlights at the tour was a new series titled The Lamas Life, which features aging heartthrob Lorenzo Lamas set to bow on E! this fall; G4's Two Months, Two Million, which uncannily resembles the movie 21 - it's about a group of young online poker players who try to hit it big in Vegas; and Giuliana & Bill, Style network's reality series about the ongoing long-distance relationship between Orland Park native Bill Racnic and his wife (nice change of pace with the title, putting Giuliana's name first.)

- BBC America's panel featured a new mini- series titled Occupation, about three British soliders who return home from Iraq, and a new sitcom called The InBetweeners.

- Animal Planet is launching Animal Planet Investigates, a quaterly series featuring issues involving animals - dog fighting, cloning, and animal abuse. On the lighter side, the channel plans to launch Superfetch, a new series about animal trainer Zak George training pets to do wacky or unexpected tricks (what is with these titles that sound like bad 1970's Saturday Morning Cartoons? Don't be surprised if George winds up training Goober or Dynomutt.)