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February 2010

Broadcast TV

Leno promos are putting me right to sleep

Posted on Fri Feb 26 2010

It's not even 11:35 p.m. yet, and I'm already yawning. Why? Because I just watched this "promo" for Jay Leno's return to The Tonight Show where he's promising some celebrity guests—he names only Jamie Foxx—and says he'll export a dumb skit called "Cop N' Kitty" from his failed prime-time experiment. Sleepy. So sleepy. Thanks for pointing out this gem, Movieline. But maybe boredom is a preferable emotion to the irritation I've felt at a promo that's been running during NBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics. In it, Jay speeds along in one of his sporty vintage convertibles to hype what will surely be the late-night show's return to mediocrity next week. Background music: the Beatles' "Get Back" (reportedly a convincing sound-alike, not the real deal), which implies he always belonged in that slot. Subtle! (Team Coco has noticed, don't worry). I much prefer the same spot with Radiohead's "Creep" as the soundtrack. At any rate, I doubt even the cast of Jersey Shore—playing games that make them look stupid(er)—will lure me to Leno's relaunch. Isn't it time for bed?

—Posted by T.L. Stanley


Why I'm hooked on an Internet wine show

Posted on Thu Feb 25 2010


I stumbled upon Gary Vaynerchuk's "most passionate" Internet wine program, aka The Thunder Show, thanks to a TiVo suggestion a few months back. I've been a proud member of Vayner Nation ever since.
  A little background: Vaynerchuk entered the wine world when his father Sasha brought him into the family business, a retail shop in Springfield, N.J. (originally Shopper's Discount Liquors, now aptly named Wine Library). The younger Vaynerchuk recognized an untapped potential in the vast wine community. Taking full advantage of the Facebook/YouTube generation, he launched Wine Library TV in 2006.
  I'm sure many of you are like me regarding wine. I barely touched the stuff in college or even post-college. My vino intake has been pretty much limited to my thirties. While I'm still an advanced novice, my interest continues to grow. Five years ago, I certainly wouldn't have trekked up to the Whole Foods on West 98th Street to find a bottle of Croatian wine. That's what Vaynerchuk is hoping for. Getting his viewers to expand their palette.

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Broadcast TV, Sports

Figure skating just goes better with Bond

Posted on Thu Feb 25 2010


I was watching late-night figure-skating, and on came a woman who was touted as one of the top short-program skaters. Scott Hamilton went blah blah blah about her form, and so I went into the kitchen to cook myself a burger. And then came her music. I was enthralled.
  Ever since I was very small, I've been a huge James Bond fan. I've seen every movie more times than can be counted on my fingers and toes, and I know every soundtrack like the back of my hand. My favorite Bond movies are Thunderball (1965) and On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969). (I was actually just recently talking about Telly Savalas on the PI Podcast with Marc Berman. Savalas plays Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the latter movie.) Every time I see these flicks, it's like watching anew. And the scores are second to none.
  So, I was happy to hear this woman skating to the theme from Thunderball—but not Tom Jones's amazing intro. She was skating to the deep cuts from the soundtrack album, the lyric-less score. When the skater was done, the audience roared in her favor. It might have been for her skating, but I'd like to think it was, in part, for the John Barry classic chosen for the music.
  Figure-skating community: Keep the Bond coming!

—Posted by Will Levith


College women sure love their 'Seventeen'

Posted on Wed Feb 24 2010


Who knew Seventeen was so popular with the co-ed set? We thought the teen magazine was strictly a high-school read, but it's actually the third most popular title (after People and the much-racier Cosmopolitan) among college women, according to Student Monitor, the longtime tracker of college kids' reading habits. It was quickly apparent why when we flipped open our March issue of Seventeen and saw the amount of content devoted to adult topics ("What Guys Really Think About Sex," "You've Done It. Now What?" and "Sex Myths Guys Believe.") Their male counterparts apparently are right there with them: Men's Health was third most popular among male college students, behind Sports Illustrated and ESPN The Magazine.

—Posted by Lucia Moses

Broadcast TV

'Lost' season 6: answers answered, ep. 5

Posted on Wed Feb 24 2010


Lost, in the way that it has always done, pulls you back and forth in a seeming tug-of-war between great episodes and blah ones. Tuesday night's episode, titled "Lighthouse," was one of the better episodes ever, back to the form of the two-hour season-6 premiere ("LA X"). With more reveals than you can fit in a black-and-white tote bag, you learned a lot (yet, as per usual, didn't learn too much). But at least you got some closure on a few topics. Check out my analysis after the jump.

—Posted by Will Levith

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With the first DVD out, expect unbearable amounts of 'Jersey Shore' promotion

Posted on Tue Feb 23 2010


Remember the episode of Jersey Shore where they got into an ass-stomping rumble? No, not that one. The one with the smack talk and knuckle sandwiches. No, the other one. Oh boy, this could go on all day. Thankfully (for fans, that is), the first season of MTV's breakout hit about guidos and guidettes playing, puking and punching their way around their beachside town is out on DVD today. There was a last-minute attempt to stop distribution, coming from a guy who got pounded on camera, though a judge denied his request. The cast—JWoww, Vinny, Ronnie, Sammi, Pauly D, The Situation and Snooki—are set to appear Tuesday on The View, where they'll try to teach the coffee klatch the virtues of GTL and maybe explain smooshing while wearing toxic amounts of Body Heat. It'll be tough to avoid the Jersey Shore gang in the coming weeks, too, as they make the rounds to hype their "uncensored" DVD set. (It's selling for less than $17 on Amazon, for the curious, and there's no telling what was edited out for TV.) The saucy bunch will move to Miami for the second season, MTV has already announced, where they'll unleash their special brand of havoc on the snow birds, European tourists and models who populate the city. More brawling? I, for one, am counting on it.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Broadcast TV

Issues of etiquette aside, snowboarding does belong as an Olympic sport

Posted on Mon Feb 22 2010


Given the outpouring of mostly negative responses to my post about Olympics etiquette, I figured it would be within my blogger rights to write a follow-up. Many readers reacted angrily to my "singling out" of U.S. Olympic snowboarder Louie Vito, whom I called out for bad Olympics etiquette. In responding to some of the criticism, I also noted Julia Mancuso and her tiara; the Russian athlete who fired off a nasty rant to reporters about fellow skater and gold-medal winner Evan Lysacek; and other athletes who I had heard did less-than-well-mannered things. Other readers felt similarly about bad etiquette among high-profile athletes (in general, not just U.S. or Olympic athletes), if not flat-out agreed with me. 
  That said, I understand my audience of angered snowboarders a lot better now. They are, in many ways, like-minded in their hatred of "uptight" people like me who don't understand their sport (or extreme sports) and its importance to them. Many angrily accused me of not being a snowboarder (which I'm not) and being in the dark about how music plays an integral part in the sport and how it helps the competitors focus (I was aware of this, but not to the extent that some commentors made it seem).

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Broadcast TV

Why do cooking-show personalities want to do everything in the world but cook?

Posted on Fri Feb 19 2010


Close your eyes and picture Anthony Bourdain hosting Wheel of Fortune. Ridiculous, I know. Now, close your eyes and picture TV cooking-show personality Guy Fieri hosting NBC's new show Minute to Win It. Not so ridiculous, because it is happening. And it makes me feel a wide range of emotions. The main one being rage. Then sadness. Then rage again. Rage against The Food Network machine for destroying a once-engaging and informative channel, and rage at the whole chef-as-rock-star phenomenon. There's a huge difference between thinking you're a rock star who cooks and actually living a rock 'n' roll lifestyle with food as your muse. Then there are the questions. Mainly ... why Guy Fieri? Is it the hair? His "On point!" and "Off tha hook!" catchphrases? I even went to Mediaweek's own Mr. TV, Marc Berman, and asked, "Why Guy Fieri?" His response? "I have no idea." That said it all. Now, I understand Fieri is a brand, and a brand needs placement to survive. Maybe he's realized that that much dining and driving to dives will eventually kill him. All I know is, food TV has branded every cooking-show personality to the point of oversaturation. I guess I've lost my taste for it.

—Posted by Cindee Weiss

Broadcast TV

A crash course in Olympics Etiquette 101

Posted on Fri Feb 19 2010


In the Olympic men's snowboarding half-pipe qualification round televised on NBC, one of the participants, Louie Vito, who couldn't be more than 20, was seen atop the 'pipe fiddling with his iPod or iPhone, then rocking out to whatever song he'd chosen, with NBC's cameras trained directly on his face. Bobbing his head up and down, he mouthed along with the words as if he were on American Idol for Korn fans. The coach behind him had to tap him on his shoulder to let him know it was his turn to go—most likely because he couldn't hear a damn thing.

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Broadcast TV, Digital

Open letter to Mr. Zucker and Mr. Ebersol

Posted on Thu Feb 18 2010


Congratulations, gentlemen, on a very successful Winter Olympics so far. It must be gratifying to see such high ratings after the rough couple of years NBC has endured. Even today, not much delivers like a big event on network TV.
  However, as I'm sure you've heard, you guys have been taking a lot of heat online, particularly on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter, about how so much of your coverage is tape delayed. And compared to the Summer Olympics in 2008, NBC is streaming far, far less live on the Web—400 hours of just curling and hockey this year, versus 2,200 hours in Beijing. Some people see that as pretty lame, especially since there are numerous ways to find out Olympic results before they air in prime time. I'm talking about new-media innovations such as the Internet. Or ESPN. Or radio.
  Now, I get it. Why mess with what's working? You're ratings are kicking ass. Who cares about a few complainers, even if they are complaining (and mocking you) on your own Web site? So what if most sports fans knew that skier Lindsey Vonn had won gold by the time you guys went on the air last night? They still watched, right? Here's the thing, though. You guys haven't exactly been hitting it out of the park lately in terms of PR. There was some Jay Leno/Conan O'Brien thing in the paper recently. Dick, I believe your quote about Conan was particularly noteworthy. I'm hear to tell you that that chicken-hearted quip didn't exactly endear you to Team Coco. However, I'm proposing a way you can turn you PR mess around.

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  • 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