Friday, December 31, 2010

The Toilet 10 of ‘10

And other misfires of note

What were the worst programs of 2010? They're all below - and most are future T Dog Media Blog TV Hall of Shame nominees (one is already a member.:) Just don't forget to flush twice...

1. The Marriage Ref (NBC). An “A-list project” from Jerry Seinfeld turned out to be one of those D-level programs you stumbled upon at 2 O’Clock in the afternoon in 2001 (remember Rende-View and Shipmates, anyone?) Only the idiots at NBC would green-light something so banal in primetime.

2. Jersey Shore. (MTV) Eight million viewers a week watch these guys drink, hook-up, and fight. Certainly not helping TV’s image as an idiot box – this just proves it. The M in MTV obviously now stands for moron.

3. Big Willie (WGN-TV/syndicated) WGN and a few other Tribune-owned stations tested this talk show for four days in June featuring Cincinnati radio talk show host Bill Cunningham. With bottom-of-the-barrel production values and idiotic topics, four episodes of this show were more than enough.

4. Scooby-Doo, Mystery Incorporated (Cartoon Network). The story arc isn’t bad, but Shaggy and Velma dating with Scooby jealous? Daphne trying to get Fred into the sack? Velma making Shaggy choose between his dog and her? Look, some plots in fan fiction should stay in fan fiction. This latest incarnation of the venerable franchise is nothing more than a dumb Gossip Girl/90210-like soap opera.

5. Minute to Win It. (NBC) Beat the Clock + Double Dare + Deal or No Deal + Millionaire = a really, really bland and unoriginal game show.

6. Monsters and Money in the Morning. (WBBM/CBS 2) The pairing of former sports radio talkers Mike North and Dan Jiggetts with financial experts Terry Savage and Dan Hedgeus was destined to fail since day one, not even meeting its low expectations.

7. The Decision (ESPN). Oh, LeBum James. You and The Worldwide Leader in BS concocted this one-hour primetime special last summer to announce you’re leaving the Cleveland Cavilers to join the Miami Heat, making this an “event”. Pathetic.

8. The Hasselhoffs (A&E) This monstrosity lasted all of two episodes before getting canned by A&E, making this the shortest-lived series in cable television history, premium or basic.

9.  Sons of Tucson (Fox.) Three children hire a low-level sporting goods store employee to be their “father”. Since he wasn’t up to the task, I’m certain the kids demoted him to “uncle”.

10. Are We There Yet? (TBS). Viewers who watched this crap sitcom usually ask this question in regards to when the laughs are coming.

DISHONORABLE MENTIONS: My Generation (ABC), Caprica (SyFy), The Defenders (CBS), Running Wilde (Fox), Skating With The Stars (ABC), and Jim Laski (WGN Radio). Yes, a radio program can make this list!

Scrubbing the toilets – other flushworthy items of 2010


WE’RE SO USED TO THIS: This spring’s Bachelor dropped its 14th in a row when it comes to playing the game of trying to get a couple to marry. This time, it’s Jake and Vienna who became America’s new couple to hate for at least 20 minutes as their ugly breakup is now the stuff of legends.

THIS CUP MIGHT LEAK: The Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox played for the BP Cup during their interleague series this year. If the series had ended in a tie, the cup would have been awarded to the Los Angeles Clippers.

OPRAH MIGHT NOT HAVE THE MAGIC TOUCH AFTER ALL: Another Oprah protégé gets a talk show – this time its Nate Berkus, Ms. Winfrey’s interior designer. But with disappointing ratings thus far, maybe he needs to redesign his talk show.

TRIB EMBARRASSMENT ROLL CALL: During the Stanley Cup Finals, The Chicago Tribune’s sports section featured a front-page photo of Philadelphia Flyers’ Chris Pronger as “Crissy Pronger” and photoshopped him in a skirt. Just one of the many embarrassments under the now-defunct reign of Randy “Court Jester” Michaels, which included rowdy late-night poker parties at the Tribune Tower and Chief Innovation Officer Lee Abrams sending out racy e-mails to employees.

CENSORSHIP CENTRAL: After threats were made to Comedy Central regarding the appearance of Muhammad on the 200th and 201st episodes of South Park, Comedy Central heavily edited the conclusion of the two-part episode and then decided to shelve all future airings – and that includes the availability of the episodes online, iTunes, and DVDs. If you want to see 200 and 201, you’ll have to go the bootleg (Bit Torrent) route.

THE BALCONY IS CLOSED. Disney-ABC Domestic Television Distribution unceremoniously canceled At The Movies in August after a 35 year-run. The series started in 1975 as Coming Soon To A Theater Near You featuring film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert on public television. The good news is Ebert is coming back with a new film-review show this January on PBS.

OFF-NETWORK HAVING AN OFF-SEASON: All four new off-network sitcoms in syndication this season – Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage, How I Met Your Mother, and The New Adventures of Old Christine – debuted to weak ratings in broadcast syndication, an unprecedented feat as since in the past, at least one off-net sitcom performed well in its freshmen  season In syndication.

VILLAIN OF THE YEAR: Gee, there are so many... but yours truly will pick NaOnka from the most recent edition of Survivor, who she and another contestant left the competition before its conclusion before causing so much aggravation. Her next ambition should be running for political office in Los Angeles or even here in Chicago - she certainly has the nastiness for it and she is no different from the idiot pols who already hold or plan on running for office. But she'll likely quit the race before the primaries are even held.

And we may have our first item for 2011's worst list: Bob's Burgers premieres January 9 on Fox. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Excellent 10 of ‘10

This trophy was well represented in the countdown of the best media items of 2010.

Here we go with the annual list of the best media-related items of 2010 – a list of not just the best shows (isn’t everyone doing those?) but the best events as well. If you notice (excluding sports), cable is well-represented in this countdown, with a total of six shows in the Top 10 and honorable mention categories. It’s a no-brainer where to go if you want quality, scripted programming.

And now… the Top 10 of 2010:

10. Family Guy (Fox). Mainly been a hit-or-miss show, but the hits have been spectacular – especially the season premiere (And Then There Were Fewer), which changed Family Guy forever (not to mention the upgrade to HD.)

9. Modern Family (ABC). You can’t overlook a show which won an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series in its first year. A classic in the making.

8. The NFL. Record high ratings and close, exciting games for the most part – this is a winning combination which the NFL leaves other sport leagues in the ratings dust.

7. Chicago Bears’ Rollercoaster Ride.  Whether they won or lost – with QB Jay Cutler, you never know what you are going to get – but one thing you will get is great television (except when they played the Patriots.)

6. The Walking Dead (AMC). Non need to use a pun here – Walking Dead’s six-episode run brought in an average of nearly six million viewers a week and praised for its cinema-like presentation. Seriously, this is what the real purpose of high-definition was meant to be!

5. Futurama (Comedy Central). Matt Groening’s futuristic comedy set in the 30th Century made its triumphant return seven years after Fox canceled it. Welcome back!

4. The Lost finale (ABC). Alright, the finale didn’t answer all the questions humanoids wanted and had a controversial scene during the credits. So what? Isn’t what makes great art is leaving some questions go unanswered? (on the numbers side however, Lost’s final episode drew just 13.5 million viewers – certainly not a losing performance – but a disappointment given all the hype.)

3. Boardwalk Empire (HBO). Outstanding cinematography, great plots, interesting characters and storylines – Martin Scorsese knows what he’s doing. While the broadcast networks have to create programs just to lure audiences, Scorsese, HBO, and other cable nets (see #6) create programs to tell a story.

2. The Big Bang Theory (CBS). The sitcom moved from its Monday slot after Two And a Half Men to the lead-off position on Thursdays this season  and continued its 18-49 demo dominance. And Big Bang hasn’t lost a step in the funny department either: Seeing Sheldon actually steal an Indiana Jones from a movie theater has to be the most hilarious moment on television this year. Now that’s what I call piracy!

1. The Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup Clincher (NBC). Patrick Kane’s OT goal in Game 6 clinched the team’s first Stanley Cup in 49 years and capped an exciting playoff run, which set record hockey ratings in Chicago in the People Meter era. Way to go Hawks!

Honorable Mentions: Hawaii Five-0 (CBS), Mad Men (AMC), Hot in Cleveland (TV Land), Dexter (Showtime), The Vampire Diaries (CW)

Other great media items of note in 2010:

ROBERT FEDER’S COVERAGE ON THE TRIBUNE SAGA. Vocalo and soon- to-be Time Out Chicago blogger Robert Feder’s articles on the shenanigans at the Tribune Tower was truly phenomenal work.

THE SUCCESS OF J NIICE AND JULIAN. After approximately two years, WBBM-FM’s morning show featuring Jamar “J Niice” McNeil and Julian Nieh has become dominant in key young demos, pushing out rival WKSC-FM morning personality Kevin “Drex” Buchar in the process.

BETTY WHITE ON SNL. The veteran actress guest-hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live back in May thanks to a Facebook campaign and helped score the late night comedy’s best ratings of the season. Power to the people!

THE LATE SHIFT, PART 2. The year began with the removal of Jay Leno from NBC’s prime-time lineup – a move that was expected. But Leno returning to The Tonight Show – the gig Conan O’Brien held for only seven months - was unexpected. And the ongoing saga set the stage for O’Brien to move to basic cable (TBS.) What happened here was the most interesting look behind-the-scene scenarios since, well.. the last time this happened (remember when Letterman was passed over for The Tonight Show gig for Leno way back in 1992?)

WGN RADIO’S GOODWILL MISSION. After two long, frustrating years, WGN radio listeners got their wish and saw the exit of Jim “Don’t Drop the Soap” Laski and undone most of the damage done by Kevin “Pig Virus” Metheny and Friends. Moves include the return of David Kaplan to the evening slot and extensions of Milt Rosenberg’s and Steve King and Johnnie Putman’s programs.

A CHICAGOAN WINS AMERICAN IDOL. Mount Prospect native Lee DeWyze did something fellow Chicagoan Jennifer Hudson wasn't able to do: win American Idol and become the first from the Windy City to do so. Whether this will translate into increased viewership for Idol in Chicagoland (whose local ratings still trails most other metered markets in the country) remains to be seen, however.

BEST MOVES OF THE YEAR: BET reviving underrated sitcom The Game and former blog punching bag Steve Harvey becoming the latest (and hopefully permanent) host of Family Feud.

MAJOR USE OF THE EXEC REMOVAL SERVICE. Who do you call when bad execs are ruining media properties? Execbusters! Those guys zapped Jeff Zucker, Randy Michaels, Lee Abrams, Pig Virus, and Sam Zell all right out of jobs this year.

Happy New Year, everybody!

Updated on 2011-01-01 at 23:07 (correction made to Julian's name)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

T Dog's Six Pack: The Santa Edition - Ho! Ho! Ho! And a bottle of rum!

Santa's been good to these guys: David Kaplan (left), with Chicago Blackhawk Johnathan Toews (Courtesy CSN)

Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Everyone! Santa Dog here with presents for those who were nice and coal and maybe some cyanide for those who were naughty (NaOnka, Pig Virus, and Randy "Court Jester" Michaels - I'm looking at you!) Ho! Ho! Ho! Time to deliver the presents, you mutants!

Presents under the tree:

New deals for David Kaplan.  Santa has been very good for Chicago media personality David Kaplan: he just secured a new deal with CSN Chicago, which enables him to continue hosting the sports net's Chicago Tribune Live and Cubs' pre- and post-game shows - not to mention returning to WGN Radio as weeknight host for WGN Sports Night starting this Thursday. This guy has it going on!

The Sing Off. America seems to love groups of singers competing against each other in December for some reason - a 3.3 rating last week in adults18-49 isn't nothing to sneeze at (however, the finale Monday night drew only a 2.7, down 18% from last week.)

New digital nets for classic TV fans.
With the recent national launch of MeTV and the January 1st debut of Antenna TV, it's the best presents fans of the genre can ask for.

Coal - and lots of it

After seven years, Chicago's WKSC bounced the morning personality out of a job - just like Santa does when one of his elves isn't performing up to par.

Survivor: Nicaragua. An incredibly lame season comes to a close with an outcome that'll make a Cubs fan cringe: a St. Louisan wins the title of Sole Survivor and a million dollars. And what was up with the crowd's lame reaction at the reunion show in Los Angeles when NaOnka's antics were screened (with many even cheering at one point?) Did they think they were at a Lakers game? Man, if only this program was held in Philly... and to top it off, the finale was the lowest-rated ever, buried opposite the Packers-Patriots game on Sunday Night Football. And props to Jimmy Johnson for being a class act. As for Dan... wow what a prick.

The New Hawaii Five-O.
During an episode that aired last week, McGarett went into an underground vault to "borrow" $10 million to pay a ransomer. So when McGarrett drove to an undisclosed location and delivered the money to the extortionist, did you know what the extortionist did? He threw the the $10 million into a burning fire, then proclaimed "it's not about the money."  WTF? If this doesn't scream Jump the Shark, then I don't know what does. Goes to show you the criminals on the original Hawaii Five-O were a lot smarter back in the day - not to mention the writing staff.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

It's Brotha Fred's Show

The radio personality pictured above is about to trade in his fishin' pole and his 45 of the Andy Griffith Show theme for a snow shovel and some Kanye West CDs.

Two days after Clear Channel's WKSC-FM (Kiss) dropped morning personality Kevin "DreX" Buchar from its lineup, the station hired Christopher Frederick, a.k.a. "Brotha' Fred" from sister station WIHT-FM (Channel 96.1) to replace him.

Frederick held down morning drive at WIHT for four years, which like WKSC, is also a Contemporary Hit radio station. 

The new "A.M. Mayhem" debuts on January 17 in Chicago with sidekicks Angi Taylor (a holdover from Drex's morning show) and comedian David L. (and no, it's not "Squiggy" from Laverne & Shirley.) Two weeks prior to his Chicago premiere, Frederick will production of his show to WKSC.

His show will continue to be heard in Charlotte, although in customized form (meaning local material inserted in) and in two other markets - Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point, N.C. and Chattanooga, Tenn. and also on Sirius/XM's Kiss-FM channel.

For WKSC, the move was made to reverse a ratings slide the station has experienced in the key 18-34 morning time slot, usually the most important daypart in radio. Drex's ratings have eroded in the last two years, especially in the face of tougher competition from WBBM-FM's Jamar "J Niice" McNeil and Julian "Jumpin'" Perez.

While Frederick will no doubt have to prove himself to Chicagoans (like Drex did), he was a rising star in Charlotte. Frederick arrived at WIBT in 2006 from Austin, Tex.  He co-hosted on Fox News Edge at WCCB-TV, a Fox affiliate owned by Bahakel Communications, Inc., for the last four years, and received props from the Charlotte Observer as one of the market's highest-profile personalities.

And like every high-profile personality, he has his fair share of detractors if the comment section of a story in the Charlotte Observer about his departure from WIHT is any indication.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Grab Bag: Feder's new home; syndie talk update; The Hoff gets the heave-ho

Hoffin' around in TV Hell. 

Notes and notables from the past week:

- One of Chicago's best media columnists has a new home: Robert Feder has joined Time Out Chicago as the magazine’s media blogger. Beginning next month, Feder will have a blog (just like the one he had at WBEZ under the Vocalo name) on the Time Out website. The longtime Sun-Times columnist was praised recently for his work on Vocalo uncovering the shenanigans involving Randy Michaels and the Tribune Co. in the past year.

- Anderson Cooper's new talk show continues to rack up clearances for his new fall 2011 daytime talk show, titled Anderson. Warner Bros. has now sold the show in 40 markets with Coop replacing The Oprah Winfrey Show at 4 p.m. in Washington D.C. at Allbrittion's WJLA (ABC) and Midwest Television's KFMB (CBS) in San Diego. Previously, WFLD here in Chicago cleared the series for a likely afternoon time slot.

- Also on the syndicated talk show beat, Sony's The Nate Berkus Show received a huge boost with upgrades from NBC affiliates in Detroit and Houston, with repeats of The Real Housewives the odd man - or in this case, the odd gal out  beginning Jan. 3. In the Motor City, Berkus is being upgraded to 2 p.m. on WDIV from its 3 a.m. time slot. In Houston, Berkus is shifting to the same time slot on KPRC, upgraded from a 8am time slot on its This TV digital subchannel. (the info provided in the link said 12 noon, but Housewives airs at 2 in Houston, and this is likely where Berkus will end up.)  Both WDIV and KPRC are owned by Post-Newsweek. The downgrades could likely spell the end of Housewives' as a syndicated strip as the program - a hit on Bravo in both first-run and reruns - is averaging only a 0.5 household rating so far this season.

- And we have what could be the shortest-lived program in cable television history. A&E canceled The Hasslehoffs after just two back-to-back half-hour episodes. The reality series featured David Hasslehoff's two daughters trying to pursue careers in entertainment (perhaps pushing brooms at NBC Universal's headquarters?)  The series' premiere episodes on Dec. 5 averaged only 718K and 505K viewers, respectively. And you all know what this means, don't you? That's right... a trip here.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

WISN expands 10 p.m. newscast

In a first for a Midwest Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) affiliate, Hearst’s WISN-TV in Milwaukee is expanding its 10 p.m. newscast from 35 minutes to an hour beginning January 24. The move sends NBC Universal’s Access: Hollywood (the current 10:35 p.m. occupant) to 12:30 a.m., after Jimmy Kimmel Live. Nightline retains the 11:05 p.m. slot, but now gets to lead-out of WISN’s newscast.

WISN is one of the few remaining ABC affiliates who continue to delay Nightline past the network-scheduled time of 11:35 pm ET/10:35 pm CT time slot. In the past, WISN has delayed Nightline to air more profitable first-run and off-network programming, including The Golden Girls, Home Improvement, Love Connection, M*A*S*H, etc. Sister station KMBC-TV in Kansas City, Mo. (also owned by Hearst) also delays Nightline for syndicated fare, as it has done since 1980.

In November, WISN eked out a victory in the late news race over NBC affiliate WTMJ in households, with Weigel’s CBS affiliate (WDJT) finishing third and Local TV’s Fox affiliate (WITI) bringing up the rear.

The only other Big 3 network affiliate currently running a 10 p.m. newscast is a network-owned station –CBS’ KOVR-TV in Sacramento, with their prime-time schedule running from 7 to 10 p.m.  However, its two rivals – NBC affiliate KCRA-TV (owned by Hearst) and ABC affiliate KXTV run their late newscasts at 11 p.m., the typical time a Big 3 network affiliate runs local news in the Pacific Time Zone. KOVR switched to an early prime-time schedule after switching from ABC to CBS in March 1995 to run in tandem with fellow CBS-owned KPIX-TV in nearby San Francisco, which had a 7-10 prime schedule from 1992-98.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

DreXed out

In a surprise move - or maybe not considering his ratings were declining, Clear Channel's Contemporary Hit WKSC-FM (103.5 FM, better known as Kiss FM) dropped its morning personality Drex (Kevin Buchar) after a seven-year run at the station.

Also out are his co-hosts Mel T and Angi Taylor, though they may be asked to stay if there is a new local morning effort - and remember, the key word is if. No replacement has been named.

Drex came to Chicago from San Antonio in 2003 after WKSC failed to snag Eddie Volkman and Joe Bohannon from rival WBBM-FM (Eddie and JoBo were released from B96 in 2008). Drex finally beat his former rivals in key female demos, but then started losing ground to Eddie and Jobo's replacements Jamar "J Niice" McNeil and Julian Nieh. Even worse, Drex was a constant no-show for the last several months, apparently accelerating his ratings decline. Despite this, the numbers were still respectable by Contemporary Hit radio standards (a.k.a. those young female demos.)

Even more odd, Drex received a contract extension just last year.

While Drex's exit did take a lot of people by surprise, keep in mind sister station WGCI-FM fired popular morning host Howard McGee  in 2007, despite his morning show placing in the top five overall and doing even better in key demos, and dropped Melissa Forman's popular morning show from WLIT - twice.

Figuring out Clear Channel's moves is like fumbling around with a box of chocolates -  you never know what you're going to get.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Weigel Broadcasting to switch around Chicago channels

MeTV goes national on December 15

Brace yourself “U” and “Me” viewers – you’re going to be in for a lot of changes.

Beginning on December 15 – a Wednesday (a rather odd day of the week to begin programming changes since Mondays are usually more ideal) – four of Weigel’s channels are ushering in new schedules with the launch of U Too and MeTV’s new national feed.

On this date, Weigel plans to move MeTV locally to over-the-air digital suubchannel 26.3 from 26.2, displacing MeToo, which moves to 26.4. In turn, This TV moves to 26.5 from 26.4 (got all that?)

WCIU stays on 26.1 over-the-air and the same cable and satellite position.

With the launch of MeTV’s national feed, Weigel is maintaining a local feed of Me on 26.4, which contains programming such as Stooge-A-Palooza, Roseanne, The Cosby Show, and much of the Sony and NBC Universal libraries which is no longer eligible to run on Me-TV’s, since Tribune (Antenna TV, which launches Jan. 1 on WGN-DT 9.2) and Luken (RTV) have national rights, respectfully.

The moves also puts an end to the comedy/drama genre split, which has been prevalent since September 2009 when MeTV started airing mostly classic comedies and MeToo started airing classic dramas.

Also on December 15, Weigel is launching U Too on 26.2, featuring syndicated programming which had been previously buried in late night on WCIU or MeTV. The lineup includes Judge Karen’s Court, Punk’d, America’s Court with Judge Ross (which received a two-year pickup from syndicator Entertainment Studios today), and additional runs of The Steve Wilkos Show, Jerry Springer, and Cheaters. The channel is also picking up Discovery Channel’s Cash Cab and Canadian talk show Steven & Chris. The channel is wonderful news for syndicators, which gives their shows more viable time periods and exposure not previously available in the nation’s third-largest market.

As to where to find these channels on your cable or satellite systems, click here for more information. Keep in mind neither UToo, MeToo, or This TV is available to DirectTV or Dish Network customers.

And here are those programming schedules effective December 15:
U Too

The move also creates some rather odd programming anomalies: MeToo and Antenna TV will now be airing much of the same Sony library fare, including The Three Stooges and All in the Family. And while Me-TV finally gets to run M*A*S*H, Fox-owned WFLD-TV continues to retain local rights to the classic sitcom – which has been a station staple since September 1979.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The Grab Bag: Mark, Mancow, Mr. Sunshine, and more

Another person has left Fox-owned WFLD’s news department: It’s Mark Saxenmeyer, who’s been with the station since 1993. The reporter’s contract with the station expires in a few weeks, and is not being renewed. Also likely on the way out is meteorologist Amy Freeze, whose contract expires in February. Sources say her replacement is Tammie Souza, whose was meteorologist at WFLD from 2006-08 and was at WMAQ for six years prior. Souza left WFLD to become meteorologist at Gannett-owned WTSP in Tampa-St. Petersburg, but announced her departure from the CBS affiliate last week to return to Chicago. If she returns to WFLD, she would the second new weather person to join the station in many weeks – earlier, WFLD hired Bill Bellis away from ABC affiliate KNXV in Phoenix (where the weather is much nicer right now.)

And here’s another person coming to WFLD – but as a talk show host. CNN anchor Anderson Cooper launches his new talk show next fall, and it has been cleared on WFLD and two other Fox stations – KTTV in Los Angeles and WFXT in Boston, with Tribune’s WPIX clearing the talk show in New York. Look for Cooper’s talk show to land in an afternoon slot either leading into or out of Dr. Oz. Good luck to Coop – he’ll need it – because outside of access and prime-time, WFLD (and sister station WPWR) are Chicago’s television versions of Siberia whose name isn’t Ion or WJYS.

Erich “Mancow” Mueller is changing the format of his syndicated radio show to focus more on entertainment than politics in a story posted at Chicagoland Radio and Media’s website Monday. The struggling program – lacking clearances in top markets (including Chicago) - is being renamed The Mancow Experience and expected to somewhat resemble his old show at WKQX-FM, where he was from 1998-2006. The program will features actors, musicians, and wrestlers (of course). TRN and Dial Global continue to handle station sales for Mancow’s show.

ABC has finally slated the much-talked about Matthew Perry sitcom project Mr. Sunshine, which debuts Feb. 9 at 8:30 p.m. (CT) after Modern Family, replacing Cougar Town until April 6. In Sunshine, Perry is a manager of a San Diego sports facility who can’t deal with turning 40. This program is not related to an earlier ABC sitcom of the same name, which replaced Diff’rent Strokes on the net’s Friday Night lineup in 1986 with Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development, The Larry Sanders Show) as a blind university professor. The series lasted exactly two months - about as long as this Mr. Sunshine is expected to last, if not sooner.

And oh yeah, speaking of Dr. Oz, his show is under fire from Nurses’ associations for what may be classified as a Jump the Shark moment. During a segment of his show in November, Oz featured a guest who lost weight by dancing (and no, she’s NOT Ellen DeGeneres.) So in order to demonstrate, Oz brought five dancers to the stage dressed in nurses’ costumes and performed **ahem**, a dance routine in front of the audience (guess that new health care bill is already paying dividends!) From their standpoint, Nurses organizations called the segment “demoralizing” and is demanding an apology from the show, which Dr. Oz did through a statement.

Boy, I can’t wait to get sick…

Thursday, December 02, 2010

R.I.P. Al Masini, Founder of Television Program Enterprises

The industry is morning the death of prolific producer Al Masini, who passed away on Monday at his Honolulu home at the age of 80 due to cancer.

Masini was instrumental in creating successful first-run syndicated programming including Solid Gold, Entertainment Tonight, Star Search, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, and a spin-off, Runaway with the Rich and Famous. He also spearheaded Operation Prime Time, which gave independent television stations an opportunity to air prime-time, first-run programming in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Programs in this consortium included Solid Gold, specials including 1980’s Yogi’s First Christmas, and numerous TV movies (The Girl, The Gold Watch, and Everything.)

In 1981, Entertainment Tonight was a pioneer as the first nationally syndicated first-run magazine strip to deliver its shows to stations five days a week via satellite instead of bicycling, which meant transporting videotapes to each station via courier – a common (and more expensive) practice for delivery of syndicated fare before the 1980’s. By 1985, almost every first-run syndicated program was delivered to stations via satellite.

In 1982, Masini formed Television Program Enterprises to sell the first-run  shows he created and launched, including Star Search, Lifestyles,  and Runaway. Unfortunately, Masini was unable to duplicate his success with the launches of You Write The Songs (1986) and first-run strip Preview: The Best of the New (1990), neither of which lasted a full season.

Cox Communications later became owner of TPE and merged the company with Rysher Entertainment in 1993, the independent distributor founded two years earlier by former Warner Bros. syndication executive Keith Samples. In 1999, Rysher TPE sold its entire domestic television library to Viacom (now CBS Television Distribution.)

Masini is survived by his wife Cherlyn, and his sister.