Posts under ‘Television’
Who coined the line “Summertime and the livin’ is easy”? Get outta town, whoever you are.
This is no easy summer in the TV racket and on this beat. Day and night, I’m inundated with news, asked to write about this or that, get up at an unholy hour of the morning and pontificate about events on some early-morning TV or radio show.
It’s all about change, isn’t it? Meanwhile, everybody is moseying along thinking that some things never change. You go home, turn on the TV and, failing to find anything new, you turn to CNN. Might be some news story you need to know about. And there is Larry King, having dragged his bag of bones into the studio again and been propped up to interview someone he has interviewed about 24 times over the years. If it’s a woman, he might even have been married to her at one point. Things change – soon enough, you will be denied this experience.
What does it all mean? Maybe it doesn’t mean anything. Let’s trawl through the changes looking for clues. Continue reading
During the World Cup (I’ll stop mentioning it soon), the English team caused much mirth when some players complained about their daily routine. Isolated at a luxury hotel/resort, like most teams, some guys whined that after breakfast and training and lunch, they were obliged to rest for the remainder of the day. Watch television, play video games, watch World Cup games on TV. “Very boring,” one fella said.
As one pundit in the English press acidly remarked, the chaps were finding their days rather tedious because they weren’t able to engage in their usual, daily post-training routine of “drinking, gambling and whoring.”
We expect male pro athletes to be boorish and a bit thick, easily distracted, with the attention span of a three-year-old and the adolescent appetites of a 15-year-old. They’re not paid to be models of propriety.
In the big-shot acting racket, we expect a goodly number of movie stars to be impossible jerks, attention-seeking weirdos and egomaniac cranks who believe that their opinions about various things matter greatly. Mel Gibson is only the most high-profile serial offender in this category. Continue reading
In the past few days, as people prattled on about the retirement of Lloyd Robertson, the arrival of Lisa LaFlamme as CTV’s news anchor and a looming news-anchor announcement by Global, I was often told that nobody is watching TV these days. This opinion was usually delivered with some delight.
The main reason for certain parties to assert that TV is dead is pretty clear. During the first week of July, the U.S. networks had the fewest prime-time viewers in two decades. According to Nielsen data, CBS averaged 5.6 million viewers, NBC, 4.7 million, ABC, 4.5 million and Fox, 4.1 million.
About the same time, The New York Times reported that ratings for the U.S. network news shows were down for the second quarter of this year. Both ABC and CBS had record low numbers for their evening news programs. Even NBC, which has led in the supper-time news race for several years, had historic low numbers.
These two news items were widely and gleefully reported online. Well, of course. Any time old media are shown to suffer, online news sources high-five each other and predict the imminent death of newspapers, TV, magazines and, for all I know, the use of pens and pencils worldwide. Continue reading
I love this summer. Mind you, it makes me sad. But in a good way.
One day last month, at an ungodly hour of the morning, I was sitting in the green room of a TV station in Vancouver. Across from me sat a handsome, well-dressed young man. I asked him why he was appearing on breakfast TV that morning. Turned out he had been on The Bachelorette and had a story to tell.
“Is it juicy stuff?” I asked. “Totally, man,” he replied. “But I can’t really spill the beans right now. Confidentiality things were signed.” He did his bit on the show and then I did my bit talking about my book on soccer and the World Cup.
That situation telegraphed the entire summer, really. There are only two things worth talking about right now – the whole Bachelor/Bachelorette thing, and the World Cup. Continue reading
Happy Canada Day. Move along, now. Nothing to see here. Trust in authority. Today, all you get here is Canada Day: A Rant.
Yes, it’s Canada Day up Canada way, and Larry King has finally retired. Are these events connected? Yes. How? In the context of the TV racket, neither is a very big deal.
Let’s get King out the way first. It’s taken 25 years, so attention must be paid. CNN’s loyalty to King has been admirable, and indeed rare in the TV racket. Most broadcasters would have eased him out years ago. I mean, he became almost sinister – you who watched, you half-expected him to expire on the air. Continue reading
In the 77th minute of the pulsating World Cup game between Ghana and the U.S.A. – then tied 1-1 – the text crawled across the TV screen. G20 protests, violent clashes. Some people looked at their iPhone or BlackBerry. Some glanced out the window. Nobody moved.
It was happening, is all. The customary theatre of the protests. Without even seeing the footage we could all picture it – kids in black hoodies and bandanas throwing stones, breaking windows and, probably, setting a police car on fire. That’s precisely what it was, of course. Continue reading
As I write this, Switzerland, down to 10 men, is trying to hold out against a rampant, never-ending Chilean attack. This guy Alexis Sanchez is a thing to behold. Poetry in motion.
The TV commentator has just said, “Dear me!” The referee, a Mr. Khalil al-Ghamdi of Saudi Arabia, has been described by the online Guardian as “a card-happy lunatic.”
The World Cup is in full swing. These are the best of times. Hereabouts, it’s everywhere. It’s not just in the bars and restaurants. Tiny TV sets with rabbit ears have been hauled from the basement or attic and are in corner stores or the dry cleaners. A crowd will form in seconds if one person stops on the street to peer through a bar window as a penalty kick is taken. There is mass groaning and eruptions of glee. It’s one of those rare times when you actually feel that the whole world is watching something, together. Oh, there’s this G8/G20 thing happening. That will come and go, and the World Cup will still be unfolding. Continue reading
Monday afternoon, just after the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) made public its intriguing but slippery plan to solve the infamous fee-for-carriage dispute, the nabobs of the TV and cable rackets unleashed their responses.
The cable guys were a tad miffed – dismissive even, in the usual manner of cable execs who believe they control the universe. The TV types were pleased, but in a hesitant manner.
Then it came – the sound of rattling cufflinks. Umbrage. Outrage. Steven Guiton, the CBC’s regulatory officer, stepped up to the microphones, looking furious. He proceeded to announce the imminent end of public broadcasting in Canada. “There does not appear to be a future for public broadcasting further to this decision” he said.
Horror! Murder in Gatineau, Quebec. The CRTC has killed the CBC. Driven a stake through its heart. Continue reading
There’s a large group of Canadians who are champion complainers. Whine, whine. Gimme, gimme. No fair. I want my MTV/HBO/Showtime/Fox News/that channel with all the celebrity news. I want it now and I don’t want to pay for it. Canadian content shoved down my throat? Screw that.
You know what I mean. Consumer greed for American popular culture disguised as a robust belief in the inherent integrity of the free market. Continue reading
When Nurse Jackie (TMN/Movie Central, 10 p.m.) first aired last year, Showtime promoted it to U.S. viewers with billboards bearing that provocative slogan – and a shot of a nurse with a needle. The show’s star, Edie Falco as the formidable wife of Tony Soprano. Here she was, returning to TV as a formidably complex nurse, a woman brutally sarcastic to doctors and brazenly manipulating patients she didn’t like. Continue reading
“Ireland, Ireland, damp sod of earth/lost on the surf of the North Atlantic/Ireland, Ireland, mountains and mist/Vodka and chips, it’s so romantic.”
Those are part of the lyrics to an alternative anthem for Ireland, composed by a couple of fellas engaged in tomfoolery named the Duckworth Lewis Method. Ireland is our topic today. The Irish TV racket in particular. A dose of St. Patrick’s Day sobriety, if you will: Television in Ireland. And what we can learn from it. Continue reading
The Fox, Bill O’Reilly/John Doyle battle as reported April 25, 2004 by The New York Times:
TORONTO — American-Canadian relations have seen better days. Canada opposed the war in Iraq, and got a stern public lecture from the United States ambassador, Paul Cellucci, in return. The Bush administration does not like Canada’s liberal drug policies. Trade disputes involving beef and softwood lumber continue to fester. But such frictions rarely get much television coverage at a time when Washington has a barrage of international problems to worry about.
That may be changing. Two weeks ago, the Canadian cable industry filed an application with the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission to begin including the Fox News Channel among its listings. That would bring the channel to a country with a very un-Foxian knack for legalizing same-sex marriage and teasing Yanks for burning down their own White House in the War of 1812. The cultural divide burst into raw insult when Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly recently got into a public brouhaha with John Doyle, the television critic for The Globe and Mail, Canada’s most influential newspaper. Continue reading