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September 2009

Cable

'Yo Gabba Gabba' is for pre-schoolers, but it's still one of the hippest shows on TV

Posted on Wed Sep 30 2009

Roots

It's the coolest show you're not watching—unless you're 4 years old, and then you're way ahead of most of us. (That includes being hip to alt-darling bands like the Little Ones and MGMT.) Yo Gabba Gabba, an Emmy-nominated pre-school series, continues its silly dance into the zeitgeist with more famous guests—Saturday Night Live's Andy Samberg and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon's house band, the Roots, shown here. (Check out their performance here.) The new season, launching Oct. 12, also brings back hip-hopper Biz Markie and Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh for regular segments of the Nick Jr. show that's geared to tots but has become a quirky favorite of teenagers and garage-band rockers who have little ones of their own now. Who can resist skits like "There's a Party in My Tummy"? It's infectious! Samberg and the others heading to the psychedelic hybrid show—it's a mix of live action, animated shorts and wacky costumed characters—join former guests like Jack Black, Tony Hawk, Elijah Wood (who did a mean Dancey Dance) and an iPod-commercial-ready lineup of bands including Shiny Toy Guns, Of Montreal and The Ting Tings. Set your TiVo and get ready to act smug when your hipster cocktail conversation turns to Lady Tigra and you don't confuse her with Lady Gaga.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Digital

To sell some records, sometimes you have to team up with that fetish Web site

Posted on Wed Sep 30 2009

Litaford

What's a girl gotta do to sell some records around here? Go alternative in her media choices. Really, really alternative. Heavy-metal chick Lita Ford, who sprang to rocker prominence as a teenager playing guitar with the Runaways, has made a deal with NSFW fetish Web site Stockroom.com to preview her new single, "Bed." It's about domination and kinky sex (between consenting adults, of course). The site's also promoting her upcoming CD, A Wicked Wonderland, which Ford describes as a "sexual autobiography," and a line of leashes, ball gags and bust harnesses branded The Lita Collection. The first 100 fetish fans to use the "Lita" code at checkout get the record free and a 10 percent discount on their spandex and bondage gear. What a deal! Ford, who hasn't released an album in 15 years, could be the only major recording artist to introduce new music through a Web site that specializes in whips and blindfolds. Then again, the music industry's a brutal play these days. She might as well tackle it on her own (twisted) terms. The record launches Oct. 6, and Ford will be touring with Queensryche through the fall.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Cable

'Rescue Me' is shocking, but advertisers still prefer it to your YouTube video

Posted on Tue Sep 29 2009

Every time I watch shows like FX's increasingly racy Rescue Me—particularly the clip above, in which guys from the firehouse trip over themselves to see up the chief's wife's skirt (and the term "bush" is used)—I wonder: Advertisers are OK with this but won't touch user-generated content online? Don't get me wrong, I love Rescue Me, but it's seriously adult. How much worse could it be for brands to associate themselves with dogs on skateboards and the like? Then, as so often happens, I'm reminded about why UGC has brands spooked. You just never know what's gonna pop up—like this "Should Obama be killed?" poll. People are so awesome. So is the open Web.

—Posted by Mike Shields

Broadcast TV

'Saturday Night Live' will need more than a few F-bombs to match last season

Posted on Mon Sep 28 2009

Jenny Slate dropped the F-bomb, an energized U2 did three live songs, and host Megan Fox got nekkid (with a Photoshop assist). Yes, this weekend's season premiere of Saturday Night Live got people talking. But can the show match last season's election-fueled heights? Unlikely. The chance to bust out an Emmy-winning impression like Tina Fey's Sarah Palin doesn't come along every day. And besides, the show's been spotty for decades, and is likely to settle back into a non-hilarious mediocrity. The blogosphere isn't being particularly kind to Saturday's show, which included Slate accidentally cursing on her very first day on the venerable skit show. (Only alert East Coast viewers heard it. Thankfully, Lorne Michaels seems to be in a forgiving mood.) Ratings weren't so hot. Preliminary numbers show a 4.6 rating/11 share in households in the metered markets. That doesn't include demographics, which should paint a slightly brighter picture. Viewership was down considerably from last season's debut, with its 7.5 rating/18 share and Tina Fey blazing her Palin trail in a Republican-red skirt suit. Check out clips from Saturday's show here—you've already watched the F-bomb one, admit it—and hope for a Palin political revival. Or barring that, more Justin Timberlake guest spots.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Digital

Can the MIXX and OMMA folks get along?

Posted on Mon Sep 28 2009

Mixx-omma

Now that Advertising Week is over, it's time to once again to ask: Why on earth are two of the digital-media industry's biggest conferences scheduled each year simultaneously? Every year during Advertising Week, both MIXX and OMMA unfold on Monday and Tuesday, creating the feeling among attendees that they might be missing something better at the other show (not to mention whatever's going on at the 9,000 other Advertising Week events). Both MIXX and OMMA are fine events, and both were well attended this year (MIXX was typically jammed, leading some to wonder whether lots of discounted tickets were handed out). Word is there is some bad blood between the IAB, which runs MIXX, and Mediapost, which runs OMMA. Whatever the case, there are good, smart people at both organizations, and you'd think they could work things out somehow. Because the truth is, nobody cares what the issues are, but plenty of people are grumbling.

—Posted by Mike Shields

Broadcast TV

Viewers cannot contain their excitement over this fall's television schedule

Posted on Wed Sep 23 2009

Tv

Just in time for the fall TV launches (and before any of the new shows have been cancelled yet), Comcast has come out with a wildly optimistic view of what's in store this season. Its TV Pulse Survey of more than 500 people found that a whopping 81 percent plan to watch prime-time TV, and nearly 60 percent described the fall season as "important" to them. Dying to know who these people are! Survey takers were most excited about dramas, which may not be such good news for Jay Leno and all those untested half-hour comedies that the networks packed on their schedules. Better news for the industry, though still kind of unbelievable, is the study's finding that 85 percent of viewers will watch live programming. Doesn't that sound awfully high? Time shifting is still on the rise, with 78 percent of those under 35 and 50 percent over 35 planning to use video-on-demand, the Internet and DVRs to watch select shows. The season's still young, but patterns are beginning to emerge. The aforementioned Leno experiment—his talk show moved to 10 p.m.—went from being the highest-rated show in its debut last week to the lowest-rated on Monday night. NBC's Heroes is down 46 percent, and ABC's Dancing With the Stars dropped 24 percent from last fall. On the other hand, Fox's House jumped 14 percent, and CBS's Big Bang Theory grew 28 percent, according to our brother blog The Live Feed. Meanwhile, ABC will air fewer commercials during its premieres, in some cases cutting out the first ad break altogether to try to hold onto remote-happy viewers and add some minutes back to the shows. Just what we need … more Cougar Town.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Broadcast TV

No, seriously, Wednesday night on ABC is about to get very, very funny

Posted on Wed Sep 23 2009

Over at ABC, they've renamed Wednesday as ABC Comedy Wednesday, apparently after a meeting fueled only by Red Bull. The network's NYC subway ad campaign promoting the supposedly hilarious new lineup of shows—including Hank, The Middle, Modern Family and Cougar Town—just makes me twitchy. It looks like they crammed every culturally relevant topic into one night: Jobless? Funny! Gay? Funny! 40? FUNNY! The only thing missing is a nod to social networking (Facebook's Status Update Live!, perhaps?). With Lost on hiatus and Ugly Betty now in its final resting place on Friday night, the need to keep Wednesday funny has put the pressure on. And when the pressure is on, you answer the call with comedy legends: a high-class Kelsey Grammer in a low-status situation; Patricia Heaton as a mom; Courtney "Cougar" Cox? (BFF Jennifer Aniston will surely have a ratings blowout of a guest spot.) Call me a purist, but when you have to tell me it's comedy, it's probably not very funny. Then again, who knows? If 40 is the new 20, anything is possible.

—Posted by Cindee Weiss

Magazines, Newspapers

Will the forecasters do any better this year predicting the future of print media?

Posted on Tue Sep 22 2009

Arrow

After a phenomenally bad year for the publishing business, we'd like to think better times are ahead for our beloved newspapers and magazines. But the industry's esteemed prognosticators couldn't have been more wrong up until now. Last year, PricewaterhouseCoopers predicted that consumer magazines would end this year 4.5 percent up. This year, PwC revised that to a decline of 13.5 percent. ZenithOptimedia wasn't exactly on the money, either: Last year, it said the industry would grow 5.5 percent. This year, it lowered that to a decline of 10 percent and then 18 percent. Next year they're calling for better times. But to be fair, forecasting the media business these days is as futile as predicting the weather, and few did that better than the late George Carlin ("Weather forecast for tonight: dark"). Keep it simple, guys.

—Posted by Lucia Moses

Digital

Excited about Advertising Week? Perhaps you haven't been to the Web site yet

Posted on Thu Sep 17 2009

Adverweek

Advertising Week is taking place next week in New York. I know, it's better than Christmas and the High Holidays combined. (Actually, would that be good? I'm not sure.) Have you tried to figure out what panels and sessions you may or may not attend? Best of luck. Not only is this one of the most overstuffed events of all time (there are 21 events on Monday alone, and two of those are full-fledged stand-alone digital conferences with packed agendas of their own), it's not so easy to navigate the Advertising Week site. For example, you can print the full week's agenda on 12 pages—that's super digital and green. Or you can download a 16-megabyte ZIP file of a PDF of the 2009 Official Guide—that's if it works on your computer (it didn't on mine). You can mock me and say I'm not tech-savvy enough to figure out what software I might need to open that file, or you might ask—why is this site asking users to jump through hoops to get a copy of this guide? A massive zipped-up PDF file kind of says it all. Of course, you can elect to follow Advertising Week on Twitter, or become friends with it on Facebook. Yay.

—Posted by Mike Shields

Digital

Serena battles Kanye for most popular bad-behavior video clip of the week

Posted on Mon Sep 14 2009

And in the category of Best Use of Super-Classy Behavior to Launch a Viral Video, the winner is ... Serena Williams, for her ever-so-gentle criticism of a line official at the U.S. Open on Saturday night. Three separate video versions of the outburst, during which Serena offered to place a tennis ball down the diminutive official's throat, have been viewed a total of almost 2 million times on YouTube, with even more versions popping up in droves. However, the race may not be over, as Serena is being chased by the always gracious Kanye West, whose ridiculously rude interruption of Taylor Swift's acceptance speech during Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards has already been viewed over 1.3 million times on MTV.com alone (and a few hundred thousand times on YouTube, via an Associated Press clip). Just imagine if Viacom weren't suing Google, and this clip was distributed on YouTube directly by MTV. Oh, the page views! Kayne's spotlight-sharing moment appears to have eclipsed previous category leader Joe Wilson, whose "You lie!" screech during Obama's speech last week has garnered less than 400,000 views on YouTube via RealClearPolitics.com (at least as far as we can tell). Joe, don't fret. There's always next year's State of the Union address.

—Posted by Mike Shields


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CONTRIBUTORS

  • Katy Bachman
  • Marc Berman
  • Michael Burgi
  • James Cooper (co-editor)
  • Anthony Crupi
  • Alan Frutkin
  • Will Levith
  • Lucia Moses
  • Tim Nudd (co-editor)
  • Craig Russell
  • Mike Shields

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