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post #271 of 95724 Old 04-26-2007, 08:10 AM - Thread Starter
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Critic's Notebook
Superb series gathers dust on shelf
ABC seems afraid to air science-fiction anthology
Mark Dawidziak Cleveland Plain Dealer Television Critic

I have seen the future. Well, at least I've seen what may be the best futuristic anthology series since the glory days of "The Twilight Zone" and "The Outer Limits."

It's called "Masters of Science Fiction," and it's a stunning collection of grand stories, relevant themes, mesmerizing performances and riveting dialogue. Intrigued? You should be. This is the kind of series that could have been submitted for Rod Serling's approval -- and would have won it.

I've seen all six of the completed episodes, but it's possible you won't get that chance. "Masters of Science Fiction" appears to be stuck in a time warp that's keeping it out of the prime-time universe.

The series was announced last August as a midseason replacement for ABC, but it has yet to be scheduled by the network of "Dancing With the Stars" and "Desperate Housewives." And we're fast running out of weeks for the 2006-07 television season, which comes to a close in late May.

Will we see this brilliant series before the calendar says June? It's unlikely. We're heading into the all-important May sweeps period, when ratings determine what local stations can charge for advertising.

This is not the time for midseason replacements. Those usually come off the bench in January, March or April, so we thought, surely to goodness, we would have seen "Masters of Science Fiction" by now.

During that stretch, however, ABC found spots for such inferior midseason replacements as "Notes from the Underbelly," "October Road," "In Case of Emergency" and "Great American Dream Vote." In almost every one of these sorry cases, the show's IQ and the star's belt size were roughly the same.

How smart and how classy is "Masters of Science Fiction"? The producers secured the services of Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking as host and narrator. We're talking Stephen "A Brief History of Time" Hawking, for crying out loud.

The mysteries of cosmology and quantum gravity might be all in a day's work for Hawking, but because he didn't write "A Brief History of Prime Time," the mysteries of network television must seem beyond comprehension to him.

But this isn't at all mysterious to anyone who has observed the depressing trends of youth-obsessed, reality-chasing, thought-avoiding network television. In this era dominated by American idols and dancing stars, "Masters of Science Fiction" is the type of show that represents everything that scares the demographics out of a network executive.

It's brainy. It's literate. It's challenging. It tackles the great issues of our day under the guise of futuristic storytelling. It has no recurring characters, again recalling the greatness of television's landmark fantasy anthologies.

And although it's a visually compelling series, "Masters of Science Fiction" also dares to be talky, allowing two or more great actors to dramatically dance around one another for an hour of intrigue and insight. This is a different kind of dancing with stars.

The stakes aren't which team survives to dance again next week. The stakes being kicked around in these masterful episodes are whether our society will survive - and how.

In short, this is a series that assumes there is intelligent life on the other side of the television screen. It's not that network television doesn't recognize the existence of such intelligent life forms. The broadcast networks simply have been more and more content to see those viewers flee to such cable outposts as FX, HBO and Showtime.

So if there isn't a place for "Masters of Science Fiction" on the ABC schedule, it isn't a case of woe be to ABC. It's more a case of woe be to all of us.

Let me give you some idea of the wonders being withheld from you while ABC makes sure you're getting weekly does of "Supernanny" and "Wife Swap."

Directed by Mark Rydell ("On Golden Pond," "The Rose"), Nebula Award winner John Kessel's "A Clean Escape" is a futuristic tango between Judy Davis and Sam Waterston. Davis is a psychiatrist. Waterston is her patient, who suffers from short-term memory loss. The payoff is a twist worthy of the best excursions to Serling's "The Twilight Zone."

Starring Aurora native Anne Heche ("Men in Trees") and Malcolm McDowell, "Jerry Was a Man" is Robert A. Heinlein's statement on how humanity is defined. It was adapted and directed by Michael Tolkin ("The Player").

Brian Dennehy and John Hurt are the stars of "The Discarded," based on the short story by Cleveland native Harlan Ellison, whose credits include episodes of ABC's original "The Outer Limits." Ellison, recently named a Science Fiction Grand Master, has a cameo role in the episode, which he adapted with Oscar nominee Josh Olson ("A History of Violence"). It was directed by Jonathan Frakes, who played William Riker on "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

These are the best of the six, and they are about the three best hours of television I've seen this season. There's also a great deal to recommend "The Awakening," based on Howard Fast's "The General Zapped an Angel" and starring Terry O'Quinn ("Lost"), and "Little Brother," based on a Walter Mosley story and starring Clifton Collins Jr.

The weakest of the six is unquestionably "Watchbird," despite earnest performances by Sean Astin and James Cromwell. It's the most obvious and didactic of the group, getting preachy where the others are provocative. And even "Watchbird" is eminently watchable. That's an incredibly high batting average for an anthology show.

Does "Masters of Science Fiction" have a future? Will we see it in something better than a death-ship time slot (say, Saturday nights in July)?

If ABC executives don't know what to do with this gleaming gem of a series (and it's clear that they don't), they should cut it loose, letting it find a more hospitable home in the television galaxy. There are distant shores where it can land and prosper.

http://www.cleveland.com/entertainme...670.xml&coll=2
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post #272 of 95724 Old 04-26-2007, 08:19 AM
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Critic's Notebook
Superb series gathers dust on shelf
ABC seems afraid to air science-fiction anthology
Mark Dawidziak Cleveland Plain Dealer Television Critic

I have seen the future. Well, at least I've seen what may be the best futuristic anthology series since the glory days of "The Twilight Zone" and "The Outer Limits."

It's called "Masters of Science Fiction," and it's a stunning collection of grand stories, relevant themes, mesmerizing performances and riveting dialogue. Intrigued? You should be. This is the kind of series that could have been submitted for Rod Serling's approval -- and would have won it.

WHAT! I want this show now! This is exactly the kind of show I am addicted to. Figures, leave it to the networks to screw me out of another great show. This is crazy. I WANT TO SEE THAT SHOW!

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post #273 of 95724 Old 04-26-2007, 08:29 AM
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Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

Critic's Notebook
Superb series gathers dust on shelf
ABC seems afraid to air science-fiction anthology
Mark Dawidziak Cleveland Plain Dealer Television Critic

Does "Masters of Science Fiction" have a future? Will we see it in something better than a death-ship time slot (say, Saturday nights in July)?

If ABC executives don't know what to do with this gleaming gem of a series (and it's clear that they don't), they should cut it loose, letting it find a more hospitable home in the television galaxy. There are distant shores where it can land and prosper.


Hmm. I thought this was going to be on Showtime from the start, to pair up with the Horror series. I would never have thought that this would make it to air on ABC.


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post #274 of 95724 Old 04-26-2007, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

Critic's Notebook
Superb series gathers dust on shelf
ABC seems afraid to air science-fiction anthology
Mark Dawidziak Cleveland Plain Dealer Television Critic

I have seen the future. Well, at least I've seen what may be the best futuristic anthology series since the glory days of "The Twilight Zone" and "The Outer Limits."

It's called "Masters of Science Fiction," and it's a stunning collection of grand stories, relevant themes, mesmerizing performances and riveting dialogue. Intrigued? You should be. This is the kind of series that could have been submitted for Rod Serling's approval -- and would have won it.

When I read "Superb series gathers dust on shelf" I first thought it was an article on Studio 60.

Sounds like this series belongs more on Showtime or the Sci-Fi Channel than ABC. Funny that ABC repeats the previous week's Lost at 9PM Wednesdays before the new episode premieres, but doesn't air this anthology series that seems to have the same appeal that "Lost" has with its audience.
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post #275 of 95724 Old 04-26-2007, 09:01 AM
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I've also been waiting for this to show up on ABC's schedule since I first read about it in August. Just before Lost would make a lot of sense, but I would even settle for Saturday nights in July.

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post #276 of 95724 Old 04-26-2007, 09:07 AM
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Sounds like this series belongs more on Showtime or the Sci-Fi Channel than ABC. Funny that ABC repeats the previous week's Lost at 9PM Wednesdays before the new episode premieres, but doesn't air this anthology series that seems to have the same appeal that "Lost" has with its audience.

Simply put, they're afraid of it. Intelligent, visionary TV, especially good science fiction as an allegory for our times (think BSG, struggling in the ratings and losing audience even over on SciFi), has a very short shelf life with the masses. What's not surprising is that it was green-lighted last year before the slaughter of almost all the challenging new serial shows on the networks' schedules. Before, they were willing to possibly take a few risks; now, they've completely lost their nerve.
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post #277 of 95724 Old 04-26-2007, 09:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Wednesday's fast national over night prime-time ratings - and Media Week Analyst Marc Berman's view of what they mean -- have been posted at the top of Ratings News the second post in this thread.
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post #278 of 95724 Old 04-26-2007, 09:20 AM - Thread Starter
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(Sadly not a single mention of HD.)
The Business of Television
Voice Continues to Drive Comcast in 1Q
Cable Operator Sets Record for Revenue-Generating-Unit Growth
By Mike Farrell Multichannel News 4/26/2007

Comcast reported a strong first quarter Thursday, tallying a 12% bump in revenue to $7 billion and a 14% increase in cash flow to $2.8 billion, driven by 571,000 voice additions.

Analysts were paying particularly close attention to Comcast's voice additions -- estimates had ranged from 550,000-600,000 new additions for the period, and the Philadelphia-based cable operator fell smack in the middle of that range.

Comcast also showed strong performance in other subscriber metrics -- it added 75,000 basic subscribers, 563,000 high-speed-Internet customers and 644,000 digital-cable subscribers.

In total, Comcast added 1.8 million revenue-generating units (a combination of basic, high-speed-Internet, phone and digital-cable subscribers) in the period, its best-ever quarter for RGU growth.

Perhaps equally as important to Wall Street, capital expenditures were on target at $1.4 billion in the period and appear to be pacing along with company guidance of $5.7 billion in capital expenditures for the full year.

Triple-play is really changing the company and it's the gift that keeps on giving, Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said on a conference call with analysts.

Comcast also reaffirmed its guidance of at least 12% revenue growth, at least 14% cash-flow growth and 6.5 million net RGU additions for the full year.

Chief operating officer Steve Burke said on the conference call that Comcast's efforts to roll out digital boxes ahead of the Federal Communications Commission's July 1 ban on set-tops with integrated security functions was one of the drivers of the increased digital penetration.

As a result, you're seeing in the first quarter us being more aggressive than we normally would be to get more boxes out before July 1, Burke said. In the second quarter, you're going to see that spike even more. We're going to have a very, very high digital number in the second quarter, which we think actually is going to drop in the third quarter after we've made the transition to the new boxes.

Of the digital additions -- a record for Comcast -- about 307,000 were for enhanced digital, Comcast's low-end digital tier, he added.

Also on the digital front, Burke said Comcast is continuing its all-digital conversion in downtown Chicago, but there is no push to convert the rest of Comcast's systems to full digital immediately.

He added that the Chicago conversion is going easier than we thought, mainly because the operator has done it before in parts of its Augusta, Ga., market.

Our general approach to the eventual conversion -- which we think is inevitable -- to all-digital is that there is no great rush and there's no need to put too much stress, financially or otherwise, on the system, Burke said. If we get up over 60% by the end of this year -- which we should do fairly easily -- and we keep at this pace, what you're going to find is that we have many, many systems that are 70% and 80% digital and will be able to make the transition. But we want to do it gradually; we have a lot of other things going on with the triple play. We don't need the bandwidth just yet. Our strategy of chipping away at it makes sense.

Comcast shares were down 71 cents each (2.5%) to $27.38 per share in early trading Thursday.

http://www.multichannel.com/index.as...leID=CA6436986
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post #279 of 95724 Old 04-26-2007, 09:48 AM
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When I read "Superb series gathers dust on shelf" I first thought it was an article on Studio 60.

Give it up.
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post #280 of 95724 Old 04-26-2007, 09:52 AM
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TV Notebook
'Drive' runs out of gas
Fox parks drama after four episodes
By Michael Schnider Variety April 25, 2007

Fox has impounded "Drive," steering the show off the network highway after four episodes.

Despite decent reviews, "Drive" quickly stalled, averaging just a 2.3 rating and 6 share among adults 18-49, and 5.6 million viewers overall.

Monday night's "Drive" didn't help matters, coming in fifth place for the hour (1.5/5) and driving "24" to record lows, dropping Fox to fourth for the night.

Having shoved a Denver boot on "Drive," Fox has now gassed up "House" repeats in the Monday 8 p.m. slot.

Net is still mulling whether to burn off the last two remaining segs of "Drive" on air, or stream the final segs online.

http://www.variety.com/index.asp?lay...&categoryid=14

Crap! I liked Drive.
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post #281 of 95724 Old 04-26-2007, 09:54 AM - Thread Starter
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Overnights in the 18-49 Demo
CBS's 'CSI: NY' joins the list of sinkers
Hits series low with a 3.2 in adults 18-49
By Toni Fitzgerald MediaLifeMagazine.com staff writer April 26, 2007

Yet another veteran show has been bitten by the April blahs. CBS's CSI: NY was the latest show to hit a series low last night, following similar nadirs in recent weeks for ABC's Desperate Housewives, NBC's ER and Fox's The Simpsons.

NY averaged a 3.2 adults 18-49 rating at 10 p.m., according to Nielsen overnights, down 0.2 from its previous series low set two weeks ago.

NY was down 27 percent from its season-to-date average of 4.4. It was also down 14 percent from its 9.3 season average in households, to a 7.7 rating.

The show was hurt by many things last night, not the least of which was its low-rated lead-in. CBS yanked a planned original episode of Criminal Minds, presumably to avoid facing Fox's special two-hour charity episode of American Idol.

The Minds repeat averaged a 2.8, and the third-year NY did manage to grow 14 percent from that. But it's also been declining in recent weeks facing ABC's Lost, which has won the timeslot in 18-49s every week since it moved back to 10 p.m. in February. Last night Lost finished nearly 1.7 points ahead of NY, which regularly won the slot last fall.

The CSI franchise as a whole has been down this year, with both the original and CSI: Miami well off from last year. And broadcast has seen similar declines for a number of programs in recent weeks, with the networks blaming everything from the increasing usage of digital video recorders to the early arrival of daylight savings time.

Meanwhile, Fox was first last night among 18-49s with a 10.0 average overnight rating and a 26 share. ABC was second at 2.7/7, CBS third at 2.6/7, NBC fourth at 1.9/5, Univision fifth at 1.8/5 and CW sixth at 1.5/4.

At 8 p.m. Fox led with an 8.6 among 18-49s for its first hour of American Idol, with CBS second with a 2.1 for Jericho. Univision and ABC tied for third that hour at 1.9, Univision for La Fea Mas Bella and ABC for According to Jim (1.8) and Notes from the Underbelly (1.9), which had a big decline from last week. The CW was fifth with a 1.8 for America's Next Top Model and NBC sixth with a 1.5 for a repeat of Thank God You're Here.

Fox led again at 9 p.m. as the second half of Idol posted an 11.3 rating. CBS remained second with a 2.6 for a repeat of Criminal Minds, with Univision third with a 2.0 for Destilando Amor, NBC fourth with a 1.8 for Crossing Jordan, ABC fifth with a 1.4 for a Lost rerun and CW sixth with a 1.3 for a repeat of The Pussycat Dolls Present: Search for the Next Doll.

ABC took the lead at 10 p.m. with a 4.9 for Lost, with CBS second with a 3.2 for CSI: NY, NBC third with a 2.4 for Medium and Univision fourth with a 1.6 for Don Francisco Presenta.

Fox also finished first for the night among households with a 15.4 average rating and a 24 share. CBS finished second at 6.4/10, ABC third at 4.4/7, NBC fourth at 4.0/6, and Univision and CW tied for fifth at 2.3/4.

http://www.medialifemagazine.com/art...icle_11704.asp
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post #282 of 95724 Old 04-26-2007, 10:31 AM
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Crap! I liked Drive.

Knew it was gonna happen. It is Fox after all. I'll just delete the last episode of Drive that my dvr recorded.

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post #283 of 95724 Old 04-26-2007, 10:33 AM
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Critic's Notebook
Grey's Anatomy:
Too many bad doctors in the house
By Alan Sepinwall Newark Star-Ledger

In the final scene of last week's "Grey's Anatomy," chief of surgery Robert Weber (James Pickens Jr.) visited a local bar, trying to rebuild his dating muscles after the end of his long marriage. Horrified to realize he was flirting with a college student, and embarrassed that he let smarmy Dr. McSteamy (Eric Dane) talk him into this plan, the chief was on the verge of bailing when Dr. Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh) sat down next to him and suggested he ask her to dance. Told by the chief that the bar had no dance floor, she gave him an insouciant grin and said, "So? Ask me anyway," and the pair ended the episode sharing a funky, silly, completely charming two-step, surrounded by oblivious drinkers.

That was Kate Walsh's only real screen time last week, but in that minute-plus, she demonstrated why she was the right choice to be the star of the upcoming "Grey's" spin-off -- and why the original show is going to suffer badly with the loss of one of the few likable characters it has left.

The backdoor pilot for the spin-off, which will also feature Tim Daly, Taye Diggs and Amy Brenneman in its cast, airs next week. While I'm naturally skeptical of spin-offs, I hope this one is good, and that Addison can bring the chief, Callie (Sara Ramirez) and Karev (Justin Chambers) with her, so I no longer have any reason to watch "Grey's" proper.

What began a few years ago as a fluffy, entertaining mash-up of "ER," "Friends" and "Sex and the City" has become a show so deeply in love with itself that it no longer notices or cares how the rest of the world views it. It's still the hottest thing on television that doesn't involve Ryan Seacrest, but the emperor has no scrubs.

The main character, Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), was never that interesting or appealing to begin with. "Grey's" creator Shonda Rhimes has often defended Meredith's flaws by arguing that equivalent male characters on dramas -- say, George Clooney as Doug Ross on "ER" -- get away with being promiscuous and self-centered without being judged so harshly. The key difference, though, is that, when Doug wasn't busy breaking hearts and rules, he had some respectable qualities, like his passion for caring for his young patients. When Meredith isn't wrapped up in her own personal issues -- usually involving fellow self-righteous drama queen Dr. McDreamy (Patrick Dempsey) -- she barely exists.

Then there's Katherine Heigl as walking disaster area Izzie Stevens, the model-turned-surgeon currently shattering all TV records for irrational, judgmental, horrid behavior. First there was that story arc at the end of last season where she fell in love with heart patient Denny and deliberately made his condition worse so he could move up the transplant list. Denny died, amidst much unfortunate, unconvincing crying by Heigl, but rather than kick Izzie out of the hospital and off the show, Rhimes and her writers contrived to have one character after another step up and try to take the blame for what Izzie did so she could be reinstated. (I know it's a TV show, and not a very realistic one at that, but if Rhimes was insistent on Izzie keeping her job, better not to try to explain it at all. It's like Clark Kent's eyeglasses disguise, a credibility-straining device that only works so long as the characters don't keep talking about it.)

Since coming back to work, Izzie has spent most of her time making nasty comments about Callie, the girlfriend and now wife of Izzie's best friend George (T.R. Knight). A few episodes ago, George and Izzie had a night of drunken sex, and despite a couple of seasons' worth of evidence that neither thinks of the other in That Way, we're now being sold the idea that they're meant to be a couple, and that Izzie's awful treatment of Callie was just a manifestation of that. Annoying as Izzie was before, she's dragged George down with her. To quote Tina Fey from timeslot rival "30 Rock," blurgh.

And that's not to mention the dull three-parter that threatened to kill Meredith and then didn't, or the story arc that had Drs. Yang (Sandra Oh) and Burke (Isaiah Washington) pulling an Izzie by hiding evidence of Burke's hand injury, or any number of character-ruining plots from the last year-plus.

Rhimes and her staff maintain a blog, www.greyswriters.com, where they discuss each episode after the fact, and it offers a fascinating, albeit slightly disturbing look at where the show has gone wrong. Rhimes writes about the characters as if they were real people whose behavior she can't control, and she loves every single one of them deeply and unapologetically.

That level of empathy for her characters is a large part of what made "Grey's" so good and so popular in the first place. Even today, it can still lead to some nice moments, like the current subplot involving Dr. Karev getting a crush on an amnesiac, pregnant plastic surgery patient (guest star Elizabeth Reaser). But a showrunner has to establish some kind of objective distance from the fictional world she's created, has to be able to say, "Hey, wait a minute -- if my character does this, people will hate him forever."

We commit to watching scripted dramas and comedies because we have to, on some level, enjoy spending time with the people on them, and the number of "Grey's" docs who fit that bill is dwindling rapidly. There's Addison, but she's off to the spin-off in a week, probably not to return unless ABC's development season is so amazing that it can kick Daly (late of "The Nine") and Diggs (late of "Day Break") to the curb twice in the same season. There's Callie, but she's become a victim of the George/Izzie subplot. The chief is a peripheral figure, and Dr. Bailey (Chandra Wilson), once the richest character on the whole show, has been marginalized as the writers have struggled to find something to do with a sane adult with a healthy marriage. (After the Denny fiasco, Bailey gave a speech claiming the whole thing was her fault, that she was too distracted by the demands of parenthood to do her job competently. It felt like something written by Ron Burgundy.)

So that leaves Karev, of all people, a character whose sole defining trait in the first season was his pride in being a jerk. Whether it's a sign of his progress or the other characters' descent, if you had told a "Grey's" fan a year or two ago that Karev would soon be the nicest person on the show, you would have been greeted with blank stares and cries of "Seriously? No, seriously?"

http://www.nj.com/columns/ledger/sep...640.xml&coll=1


Couldn't agree more. There's no one to like on Grey anymore except for Karev, Yang and Burke and Bailey. I used to like Issie and George but they've gone off the path this season.

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post #284 of 95724 Old 04-26-2007, 10:36 AM
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They need the bandwidth that the analogs take up, 2 HD or 6-10 SD for each analog.

I know they have serious issues with bandwidth, but I also know they are playing with a couple of different solutions beyond eliminating analog. I think they will eliminate one of their few remaining selling points if they drop analog.

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post #285 of 95724 Old 04-26-2007, 11:11 AM
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Knew it was gonna happen. It is Fox after all. I'll just delete the last episode of Drive that my dvr recorded.

You better watch it. It was good.
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post #286 of 95724 Old 04-26-2007, 11:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Yes, "Grey's" is meandering a bit this season, Antonio.
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post #287 of 95724 Old 04-26-2007, 12:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Critic's Notebook
First Look at Glenn Close's New FX Drama
By Matt Roush TV Guide critic

One of the boldest forces in TV drama, the FX network, is at it again. At a press upfront lunch gathering Wednesday afternoon, the risk-taking cable network screened the pilot episode of its much-anticipated new legal thriller Damages, starring Glenn Close. Premiering this July, it looks like a winner, reminiscent of the early days of David E. Kelley's masterwork The Practice, before it descended into grotesque silliness and evolved into the ridiculous, sophomoric cartoon that is Boston Legal.

Damages is a dark melodrama to be sure: tough and gritty, not even pretending to be earnest on the surface, with wild plot twists that make you wonder if there are any heroes in this picture. The closest thing to a truly sympathetic figure is Ellen Parsons (Australian ingenue Rose Byrne), the new not-as-naive-as-she-looks protégé of cunning high-stakes litigator Patty Hewes, played by Close as an elegant tigress who devours rather than suffers any fools in her path. Does Patty see a sharkette-in-the-making in Ellen? Or does she have an ulterior motive for bringing this fresh face into her all-work-no-play boutique? In a show like this, it's always best to suspect that nothing's what it seems. The ambitious, ruthless Patty Hewes looks like she'll be a proud addition to FX's lineup of memorable anti-heroes: Vic Mackey, Tommy Gavin, Christian Troy.

Damages is part of FX's ongoing effort to reshape its edgy lineup to broaden its appeal to women as well as men. FX president/general manager John Landgraf, who introduced the screening, said recent efforts including the critically panned Dirt and the more generously reviewed though not by me family drama The Riches have done just that. Look for both of these shows to be renewed in the next month or so. (So much for FX pandering only to the critics.)

Should Damages become the hit it appears to deserve to be, that would make six drama franchises FX is currently juggling, including The Shield (which will return for one final season after the current run), Rescue Me (back in June) and Nip/Tuck (back in September). Add that to limited-run docu-reality show 30 Days and the funky comedy It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (also back in September), and you've got a network on the go.

Landgraf's next challenge: to find a new signature show with male action appeal to replace The Shield in a year or so. That won't be easy, but I can't wait to see what they come up with.

http://community.tvguide.com/blog-en...oses/800013588
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post #288 of 95724 Old 04-26-2007, 01:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Critic's Notebook
TV sweeps are puttin' on the blitz
Song and dance routines, along with adventure, vie for viewers' attention.
Hal Boedeker Orlando Sentinel Television Critic April 26, 2007

You want a big finish? Broadcasters try to deliver a few as the television season ends with a slew of finales.

Towering over the schedule is the two-night sendoff for Fox's American Idol. ABC will try to dent the singing contest with Dancing With the Stars and Lost.

The season's conclusion coincides with the May sweeps, a crucial ratings period. The sweeps start today and run through May 23.

In these four weeks, reality-contest winners will be revealed. A few series will end their network runs. Sweeps are so crowded that a few series will end the seasons later: Fox's House on May 29 and The CW's One Tree Hill on June 13.

REALITY CONTESTS

The Amazing Race, CBS, May 6: The last three teams jockey for the $1 million prize.
Survivor: Fiji, CBS, May 13: The winner is revealed in a two-hour finale; a reunion show follows.
America's Next Top Model, The CW, May 16: Tyra Banks announces the winner.
Dancing With the Stars, ABC, May 21: The top contenders dance; the winner is revealed the next evening.
The Bachelor, ABC, May 21: This time around, the hero supposedly found real love. Go awwwww.
American Idol, Fox, May 22: The two finalists sing; the winner is crowned the next night.

SERIES FINALES

7th Heaven, The CW, May 13: The drama called it quits a year ago. There's no reprieve this time, after 11 years.
The King of Queens, CBS, May 14: The Kevin James comedy ends a nine-year run with an hour episode.

SEASON FINALES

The New Adventures of Old Christine, CBS, May 7: Blair Underwood returns as the teacher of Christine's son.
Jericho, CBS, May 9: A town leader bites the dust. Will the series?
My Name Is Earl, NBC, May 10: Earl (Jason Lee) flirts with giving up his happiness to help another.
Supernatural, The CW, May 10: Jeffrey Dean Morgan guest-stars; the two-parter ends May 17.
Without a Trace, CBS, May 10: The FBI drama returns to its old Thursday time slot.
CSI: Miami, CBS, May 14: A plane carrying Horatio (David Caruso) and a criminal crashes in the Everglades.
Gilmore Girls, The CW, May 15: CNN's Christiane Amanpour plays herself.
Ugly Betty, ABC, May 17: Kristin Chenoweth and Gina Gershon guest-star.
Grey's Anatomy, ABC, May 17: Pay attention to the two-hour episode May 3. Can a spinoff with Addison work?
CSI, CBS, May 17: Sara (Jorja Fox) goes missing; we learn the identity of the miniature killer.
The Simpsons, Fox, May 20: The series marks its 400th episode with a satire on FCC fines.
Desperate Housewives, ABC, May 20: Gabrielle (Eva Longoria) is the bride at a lavish wedding.
Brothers & Sisters, ABC, May 20: Nora (Sally Field) plans an engagement party for Kitty (Calista Flockhart).
24, Fox, May 21: Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) takes two hours to wrap up his latest day.
Heroes, NBC, May 21: The episode's title is "How to Stop an Exploding Man."
Veronica Mars, The CW, May 22: Two more hours with Kristen Bell's heroine. Is this the end?
Lost, ABC, May 23: The adventure wraps up season three with a two-hour splash.

MOVIES AND SPECIALS

Saturday Night Live in the '90s: Pop Culture Nation, NBC, May 6: Will Ferrell and many others look back.
Academy of Country Music Awards, CBS, May 15: Host Reba McEntire will sing with Kelly Clarkson.
Bob Barker specials, CBS, May 16, 17: Two programs salute the retiring host of The Price Is Right.
Jesse Stone: Sea Change, CBS, May 22: Tom Selleck plays Robert B. Parker's hero for the fourth time.
On the Lot, Fox, May 22: Steven Spielberg and Mark Burnett collaborate on this filmmaking contest.

OTHER FINALES

30 Rock, NBC, tonight.
October Road, ABC, tonight.
Shark, CBS, May 3.
Cold Case, CBS, May 6.
The Unit, CBS, May 8.
Ghost Whisperer, CBS, May 11.
Close to Home, CBS, May 11.
Everybody Hates Chris, The CW, May 14.
All of Us, The CW, May 14.
The Game, The CW, May 14.
How I Met Your Mother, CBS, May 14.
Two and a Half Men, CBS, May 14.
Bones, Fox, May 16.
Criminal Minds, CBS, May 16.
Crossing Jordan, NBC, May 16.
Medium, NBC, May 16.
CSI: NY, CBS, May 16.
Smallville, The CW, May 17.
The Office, NBC, May 17.
Scrubs, NBC, May 17.
ER, NBC, May 17.
Law & Order, NBC, May 18.
Numb3rs, CBS, May 18.
King of the Hill, Fox, May 20.
NCIS, CBS, May 22.
Law & Order: Criminal Intent, NBC, May 22.
Boston Legal, ABC, May 22.
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, NBC, May 22.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/enter...l=orl-caltvtop
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post #289 of 95724 Old 04-26-2007, 01:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Critic's Notebook
Regis' Return
By Roger Catlin Hartford Courant TV Critic in his TV Eye blog April 26, 2007

The grand old man of talk shows returned to his daytime perch Thursday.

Regis Philbin has been off Live with Regis and Kelly for six weeks for triple bypass heart surgery.

It seems like six years, said Kelly Ripa, who filled in with guest hosts in the interim.

You look remarkable, she told her elder co-host. Be honest: did you have a face lift? This heart surgery was just a ruse wasn't it?

Well I lost eight pounds. Philbin said. But I aged about 12.

It was a tough procedure, Philbin, 75, said upon his return in a show pretty much dedicated to the operation.

Because Philbin was first guest for David Letterman seven years ago when the late night host returned from his own heart surgery (and agrees to pop up on the Late Show for the smallest or most-last minute booking on the show), Letterman returned the favor with a rare appearance on the daytime show.

This is good, Letterman said. A couple of heart patients. This isn't a TV show, it's a recovery room.

He had prepared more:

You know, Letterman added, my first bypass was The Tonight Show.'

But Letterman didn't like anything better to talk about his own surgery, not kidding when he called it the most exciting thing in my life ever.

They compared leg scars, revealing an ugly wound for Philbin and some unusually long over the calf socks for Letterman.

Asked by Ripa if he had recovery advice for her co-host, Letterman said, The only thing I can advise both of you is to stay away from The View,' because they're dropping like flies over there.

http://blogs.courant.com/roger_catlin_tv_eye/
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Quote:
Originally Posted by archiguy View Post

Simply put, they're afraid of it. Intelligent, visionary TV, especially good science fiction as an allegory for our times (think BSG, struggling in the ratings and losing audience even over on SciFi), has a very short shelf life with the masses. What's not surprising is that it was green-lighted last year before the slaughter of almost all the challenging new serial shows on the networks' schedules. Before, they were willing to possibly take a few risks; now, they've completely lost their nerve.


Anything well written is hard work. If its that good save it for the Fall.
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post #291 of 95724 Old 04-26-2007, 02:08 PM - Thread Starter
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It has been a long time since you commented here in the thread, Joe3. Welcome back.
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post #292 of 95724 Old 04-26-2007, 03:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

Overnights in the 18-49 Demo
CBS's 'CSI: NY' joins the list of sinkers
Hits series low with a 3.2 in adults 18-49
By Toni Fitzgerald MediaLifeMagazine.com staff writer April 26, 2007

...

But it's also been declining in recent weeks facing ABC's Lost, which has won the timeslot in 18-49s every week since it moved back to 10 p.m. in February. Last night Lost finished nearly 1.7 points ahead of NY, which regularly won the slot last fall.

...

http://www.medialifemagazine.com/art...icle_11704.asp

Ahhh, slow but steady vindication.
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post #293 of 95724 Old 04-26-2007, 03:42 PM
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Fred, any particular reason you didn't post the Roger Friedman Fox News column on Wednesday (and his follow-up today) that revealed Leslie Stahl and Bob Schieffer as the sources of the attack piece (about Katie Couric's tumultuous CBS Evening News tenure) in Gail Shister's Philadelphia Enquirer column earlier in the week? I know you read it because you posted here the "Law & Disorder Pt. 2" article that was on the same web column. Just curious, since the revelation that there's harsh criticsm of Couric from such CBS News luminaries like Stahl and Schieffer seems like the stuff we readers of this thread would be interested in. I would post it but since you're not sick or on vacation...
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post #294 of 95724 Old 04-26-2007, 04:24 PM - Thread Starter
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Yes, dad, there was a reason.

Despite what it often must look like, I don't just post everything here. I do use some editorial judgment. For example, I try to run a lot of Sci Fi stories -- not because I watch the channel or that it is in HD, but because so many readers here do enjoy that genre.

Back to the Couric story: Frankly, I don't believe the Schieffer-is-a-nasty-leaker stories. And I got burned when I posted Friedman on a sensitive issue last fall when he had an exclusive that L&O:SVU was about to be cancelled. His L&O info this week I had seen in other places, so felt OK to post it.

You will notice I also rarely post items from the NY Post and some other publications.

I try to keep this informative, a bit breezy, but most of all, accurate.

I can understand the Couric camp is trying to quash the Shister-like stories. But she has a quarter-century of quality work under her belt and, frankly, I trust her. Bob Schieffer has a lifetime of quality work, too, and without some source I believe totally credible, I choose not to sully his reputation just for sport.

By the way, I didn't post items about the Couric producer being fired for plagiarism recently, either. Not that it wasn't true, it just seemed like a stretch to me for this thread.

To bring this long and rambling explanation to an end: I've been given great leeway by the powers that be at AVS to put what I want in this thread. And I try to put non-HD material here that will be of interest to the folks who read the thread. But I make judgments all the time about what NOT to include.

I don't expect everyone to agree with every judgment I make. But just because a story appears that says something is true and then another appears saying exactly the opposite, doesn't mean I have to post both -- or either.

I use my best judgment, at least to some extent based on more than four decades in TV, many of those years in news, and move on.
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post #295 of 95724 Old 04-26-2007, 04:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Daily Nielsen Notebook
Wednesday's final Nielsen national ratings
(From Travis Yanan) at Marc Berman's Programming Insider blog:
http://pifeedback.com/eve/forums/a/t...10284#87210284

American Idol
- 26.930 million viewers
- 15.6/25 HH
- 10.2/27 A18-49

Lost
- 11.860 million viewers
- 7.3/12 HH
- 5.0/13 A18-49

CSI: NY
- 11.401 million viewers
- 7.8/13 HH
- 3.3/9 A18-49

Jericho
- 7.560 million viewers
- 4.9/8 HH
- 2.1/6 A18-49

Medium
- 7.163 million viewers
- 4.8/8 HH
- 2.4/6 A18-49

Crossing Jordan
- 6.372 million viewers
- 4.2/6 HH
- 1.8/5 A18-49

According to Jim
- 5.279 million viewers
- 3.5/6 HH
- 1.8/5 A18-49

Notes from the Underbelly
- 4.780 million viewers
- 3.3/5 HH
- 1.9/5 A18-49

Top Model (clip show)
- 3.866 million viewers
- 2.7/4 HH
- 1.8/5 A18-49
- 2.3/7 A18-34

Pussy Cat Dolls (season finale repeat)
- 2.879 million viewers
- 2.0/3 HH
- 1.3/3 A18-49
- 1.6/5 A18-34

Source: Nielsen Media Research data
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post #296 of 95724 Old 04-26-2007, 04:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Passings
Jack Valenti, 85
By John Eggerton Broadcasting & Cable,4/26/2007

Jack Valenti, the former president of the Motion Picture Association of America who was tapped by embattled media companies to promote their V-chip/TV ratings system, has died at age 85 in Washington.

He suffered a stroke last month.

Valenti was a natural to head up the TV ratings education effort given his standing with top legislators, his eloquence as an elder statement, and his passion for freedom of expression.

Valenti created the movie ratings system some four decades ago to ward off government regulation of that medium. He had since become a leading defender of artistic freedom and opponent of government intervention in content.

Valenti's successor, Dan Glickman, said of Valenti: [He] was a giant who loomed large over two of the world's most glittering stagesWashington and Hollywood. He was a patriot who loved and served his country, and hewas a passionate champion of American cinema and artistic freedom. He was truly a modelfor us all.

The entire MPAA community is deeply saddened by the news that we have lost Jack," said Glickman. "Our
thoughts and prayers are with Mary Margaret, with their three children, Alexandra, John and
Courtenay and with the rest of the Valenti family."

Barry Meyer, chairman of Warner Bros., said of Valenti's death: "Today, my heart is truly heavy. I have lost a dear friend and mentor -- someone who not only made a mark in history, but also had a profound impact on my life.

"Jack Valenti was a true leader and gentleman whose wit, fire and passion for our business inspired everyone regardless of politics or opinion, background or belief. Jack's love for his country and the entertainment industry was only overshadowed by his love for his family and the many charitable organizations to which he was devoted. "

On behalf of all my colleagues at Warner Bros., our heartfelt condolences are with Mary Margaret, his children, grandchildren and the millions and millions of people who were directly or indirectly touched by Jack. "

Valenti's place in history was established before he took up the standard of the motion picture industry. He came to the movie post as the former special assistant to the president, the start date of that job speaking volumes--Nov. 22, 1963.

Valenti was on the trip to Dallas with then Vice President Lyndon Johnson, a longtime supporter and occasional speechwriter and campaigner for Johnson, Valenti had been asked to plan a portion of the Texas swing for Johnson and President Kennedy.

Valenti was in the motorcade, then famously in the picture when Johnson was sworn in as president after Kennedy's assassination. He was asked to join Johnson's administration and stayed for two years before joining MPAA in 1966.

Valenti was born Sept. 5, 1921, in Houston, graduating from the University of Houston in 1946, after servcie as a pilot in the Army Air Corp in World War II, and adding a Harvard MBA in 1948. He was an ad executive in Texas from 1951 until 1963, when he joined Johnson's staff.

http://www.broadcastingcable.com/ind...leID=CA6437154
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post #297 of 95724 Old 04-26-2007, 05:02 PM - Thread Starter
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The New York Times Obituary
[SIZE=5 Jack Valenti, 85[/size]
MPAA Head, Confidant of Presidents and Stars
By David M. Halbfinger The New York Times April 26, 2007

Jack Valenti, who became a confidant of President Lyndon B. Johnson and then a Hollywood institution, leading the Motion Picture Association of America and conceiving of a voluntary film-rating system that gave new meaning to letters like G, R and X, died today in his home in Washington. He was 85.

The cause was complications of a recent stroke, his family said.For 38 years, Mr. Valenti was the public face of the movie and television production industry and one of its fiercest advocates. He lobbied Congress to protect filmmakers' intellectual property from piracy and to ease trade barriers overseas. And he fended off lawmakers' recurring campaigns to curb violence and sex on the screen, arguing for free expression. He devised the film-rating system precisely to avoid censorship by local review boards.

He also remained a starry-eyed fan, cherishing his friendships with Kirk Douglas, Sidney Poitier and Frank Sinatra, falling speechless before Sophia Loren and savoring his seconds in the spotlight as a regular presenter at the Academy Awards.

As a Houston political consultant, he was in the motorcade when President John F. Kennedy was shot on Nov. 22, 1963, and he watched as Johnson was sworn in beside Jacqueline Kennedy aboard Air Force One.

Mr. Valenti soon became known, and for a time mocked, for his unfailing loyalty to Johnson, if not outright idolatry of him. I sleep each night a little better, a little more confidently because Lyndon Johnson is my president, he once said in Boston, inviting guffaws nationwide.

Even after leaving a senior post at the White House in 1966, Mr. Valenti remained at Johnson's service, secretly arranging the president's surprise detour to the Vatican to meet with Pope Paul VI on the way back from Vietnam in December 1967.

His fidelity was lifelong. Mr. Valenti, a bantam 5-foot-7 who forever looked up to the towering Johnson, picked fights with critical Johnson biographers like Robert Caro and Robert Dallek. When a cable-television documentary suggested in 2003 that Johnson had a role in the Kennedy assassination, Mr. Valenti worked behind the scenes to discredit it.

Mr. Valenti's forthcoming memoir, This Time, This Place: My Life in War, the White House, and Hollywood (Crown), does as much to polish Johnson's legacy as his own. He was to have begun a six-city tour on June 5 to promote the book.

In 1966 Mr. Valenti took his talents for personal politicking and lionizing his bosses to Hollywood, heeding the request of Lew Wasserman and Arthur Krim, then chairmen of MCA/Universal and United Artists respectively, that he take over the Motion Picture Association. If Hollywood is Mount Olympus, Mr. Valenti once said of his new liege, Lew Wasserman is Zeus.

At the time Hollywood was still officially operating under the Hays Production Code, the industry's draconian and increasingly outmoded self-censoring rules that flatly barred nudity, profanity, miscegenation and even childbirth scenes from being depicted on film.

Mr. Valenti was soon confronted with two films in 1966 that convinced him that the code had become obsolete. He dealt with one, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, by negotiating a compromise in which three out of four particular vulgarisms were cut.

Later that year, M.G.M. released Antonioni's Blowup even though that film, showing brief scenes of nudity, lacked Production Code approval. Sensing that other films would also begin flouting the code and in turn create a vacuum into which local politicians and censorship boards might rush, Mr. Valenti decided to act.

I knew I had to move swiftly, and I did, he later recalled. I was determined to free the screen from anything like the Hays Code. But I also emphasized that freedom demanded responsibility.

So by late 1968 he persuaded the national theater-owners association to buy into a system of voluntary ratings, based on an ascending scale of adult content, that would be enforced at the box office: G, M (later PG), R and X.

The system was not without flaws and detractors, and it required some tinkering. In 1984, after receiving complaints about frightening parts of PG-rated movies (parental guidance suggested) like Gremlins, the association added the PG-13 category (parents strongly cautioned). Though the other ratings were trademarked, the X was not, and pornographers quickly co-opted it. In 1990 the association replaced the X with NC-17 (no one 17 and under admitted), hoping it would be embraced, but distributors have mostly spurned it for commercial reasons, leaving many filmmakers to make wrenching cuts to adult-themed films in pursuit of an R rating.

Mr. Valenti always rebutted critics by citing an annual survey, paid for by the association, showing that parents of young children strongly believed that the ratings were useful.

In 1983, at the height of the Reagan administration's deregulation efforts, Mr. Valenti led a fight to preserve federal rules intended to protect television producers and studios from the market power of the three major networks. The Federal Communications Commission was considering repealing the rules and allowing the networks to produce programs, thus giving them vertical control over production, distribution and exhibition.

In his memoir, he said he asked Mr. Wasserman, who had once been Ronald Reagan's agent, and Charlton Heston to urge the president to oppose the repeal. The White House did just that, and the federal rules remained in place until 1995, by which time mergers between studios and networks had rendered them unnecessary.

In Mr. Valenti's last decade at the association, it became consumed with fighting digital piracy. But one of his bolder strokes, in 2003, blew up in his face. He had learned that half the films being sent to industry people on DVD, known as screeners, for awards campaigns were turning up on sale illegally around the world. So he banned screeners altogether. A storm of protest ensued loudest of all from the major studios' own specialty divisions, which rely heavily on awards attention to publicize their films and the policy was overturned by a federal judge, who said it ran afoul of antitrust laws.

Jack Joseph Valenti was born in Houston on Sept. 5, 1921, to the son and daughter of Italian immigrants from Sicily. He traced his passion for politics to the day his father, a clerk for the city government, took him to a political rally, where the 10-year-old Jack was invited to give his first speech, from a flatbed truck, for the Harris County sheriff. I never recovered from it, Mr. Valenti wrote.

As a youth he worked for a chain of second-run movie theaters in downtown Houston, roaming the city putting up posters in storefront windows in exchange for free passes. Hired as an office boy at the Humble Oil Company (an antecedent of ExxonMobil), he attended the University of Houston at night but still managed to be elected class president his sophomore year.

A voracious reader, he devoured everything by Macaulay, Churchill and Gibbon, and his speaking and writing style would mix his native twang with the rhetorical flourishes of his heroes, in a brew of cliché, cornpone, compelling phrases and clunkers that one critic called a kind of Texas baroque.

In 1982 Mr. Valenti published a guide to oratory, Speak Up With Confidence, which was revised and reissued in 2002. He also wrote The Bitter Taste of Glory, a book of essays (World, 1971); A Very Human President (W. W. Norton, 1975), about Johnson; and a political novel, Protect and Defend (Doubleday, 1992), edited by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

As an Army B-25 pilot in World War II the Naval air corps had rejected him because of a heart murmur he flew 51 missions over Italy, but never piloted a plane again after returning his flak-battered bomber to the United States. He went to Harvard Business School on the G.I. bill, then returned to Humble Oil's advertising department, where he helped its Texas gas stations jump from fifth to first in sales through a cleanest restrooms campaign. He co-founded an advertising agency in 1952, with a rival oil company, Conoco, as its first client. He later added Representative Albert Thomas, a Johnson ally, as a client.

It was in 1956 that he met Senator Johnson Johnson at a gathering of young Houston Democrats. As a sideline, Mr. Valenti had begun writing a weekly column in The Houston Post, and he rhapsodized there about the senator's strength, unbending as a mountain crag, tough as a jungle fighter. Their friendship grew, and when Johnson became Kennedy's running mate, he had Mr. Valenti run the ticket's campaign in Texas. Mr. Valenti helped stage Kennedy's televised meeting on Sept. 12, 1960, with a group of Protestant Houston ministers, an event that was instrumental in helping him overcome anti-Catholic bias.

Mr. Valenti cemented his ties to Johnson in 1962 when he married Mary Margaret Wiley, a Johnson secretary. The couple accompanied Johnson to Rome for the funeral of Pope John XXIII, and Mr. Valenti was put in charge of the Houston leg of Kennedy's 1963 swing through Texas. After a dinner there on Nov. 21, Johnson asked Mr. Valenti to fly on Air Force Two the next day. Moments after learning Kennedy was dead, Mr. Valenti was summoned to Air Force One, where he was hired on the spot as a special assistant.

In his memoir he recalled helping rustle up votes for Johnson's monumental Great Society legislation; witnessing Johnson's private browbeating of Gov. George Wallace of Alabama after the attacks on civil-rights marchers in Selma; and being accused (unfairly, he maintained) by Robert F. Kennedy of leaking to the news media stories about Kennedy's chances of being made Johnson's 1964 running mate.

But Mr. Valenti may have rendered his most vital White House service by being a source of companionship, public praise and private candor: before leaving the White House, he warned Johnson how much the war was hurting his credibility with voters, Mr. Dallek said Mr. Valenti spent more time socially with the president than any other aide, often bringing along his wife and their toddler daughter, Courtenay Lynda, a Johnson favorite.

In addition to his wife of 45 years and his daughter, now an executive vice president for production at Warner Brothers Pictures, Mr. Valenti is survived by a son, John Lyndon, of Los Angeles, the chief executive of icreate.com, an informational service for the film industry; another daughter, Alexandra Alice, a photographer and video director in Austin, Tex.; and two grandchildren.

Mr. Valenti, who was four days shy of 83 when he stepped down from the motion picture association, continued to come to work, nattily dressed, long afterward.

Retirement to me is a synonym for decay, he wrote in his memoir. The idea of just knocking about, playing golf or whatever, is so unattractive to me that I would rather be nibbled to death by ducks. So long as I am doing what I choose to do and love to do, work is not work but total fun.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/26/ob...gewanted=print
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post #298 of 95724 Old 04-26-2007, 05:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Obituary
Jack Valenti, 85
former Hollywood lobbyist pioneered film ratings system
By James Bates Los Angeles Times Staff Writer April 26, 2007

Jack Valenti, the urbane Washington lobbyist who served as Hollywood's public face for nearly four decades and was best known for creating the film rating system, died this afternoon, according to Warren Cowan, his longtime friend and publicist for the MPAA. He was 85.

Valenti had been in ill health since suffering a stroke in March. He was treated several weeks at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore but was released Tuesday and returned to his home in Washington, where he died.

For 38 years until retiring in 2004, Valenti headed the Motion Picture Assn. of America, guiding the trade organization from a clubby group of movie studios led by autocratic moguls into a collection of global media conglomerates involved in television, the Internet and an array of other media businesses.

To the moviegoing public, however, Valenti's legacy will always be the ratings system he fathered in 1968, which now labels movies G, PG, PG-13, R or NC-17. Valenti defended it for years against attacks by critics. Today, it remains largely intact as the self-policing vehicle he envisioned.

"It's the end of an era," said industry veteran Sherry Lansing, former Paramount Pictures chairwoman. "He was one of the greatest leaders our industry ever had. He was one of those unique individuals who could build consensus."

Aside from their long-term professional relationship, Lansing said she and her husband, director William Friedkin, considered Valenti a personal friend. "He was your biggest cheerleader. He was always there. He had no envy or guile."

His death comes on the eve of the anticipated release of his memoirs chronicling a life that included piloting a B-25 in World War II, serving as one of President Lyndon Johnson's closest confidants and shaping nearly every issue faced by today's entertainment industry, among them censorship and digital piracy. Titled "This Time, This Place: My Life in War, the White House, and Hollywood," the book was tentatively scheduled for release in June.

In his role as entertainment industry lobbyist, Valenti moved effortlessly between Hollywood and Washington while trying to bridge two cultures that were often at odds.

With his silver mane, custom-tailored shirts and suits, and polished cowboy boots, Valenti was one of the most recognizable figures in the nation's capital. Despite being a loyal Democrat, he skillfully worked both sides of the aisles, possessing one of the town's best Rolodexes. Along the way, he became nearly as much a celebrity as the stars -- such as Kirk Douglas -- he befriended, addressing the worldwide Academy Awards TV audience each year.

In public, his Texas-accented eloquence was reminiscent of a Southern preacher. In fretting over the rising costs of making and marketing films, Valenti once said: "As the American movie rides an ascending curve throughout the known world, it is being pursued with malignant fidelity by total costs. It is a terrible confluence of hope and terror which confronts every studio, every producer, every production company."

The grandson of Sicilian immigrants and son of a tax clerk, Valenti was born Sept. 5, 1921 in Houston. An honor student and debating champ at Sam Houston High School, he graduated at age 15.

Lacking the money to attend college, Valenti worked as an $11-a-week movie theater usher -- his only entertainment experience before going to work for the MPAA. While employed by an oil company, he attended night classes at the University of Houston, where he was elected student body president.

At age 20, Valenti enlisted in the Army Air Forces after being turned down by the Navy because of a heart murmur. Flying 51 missions, he won the Distinguished Flying Cross. He received his MBA from Harvard University in 1948 and four years later started his own advertising firm.

Valenti was invited to a reception for a dozen young men and women at a Houston hotel to meet Lyndon Johnson, then the U.S. Senate's majority leader, who was eager to cultivate talented young fellow Texans who might help him one day.

Valenti was in awe the moment he met his future mentor. Recalling that day during a Caltech appearance in 2003, Valenti said: "I was fascinated the way I'm fascinated by a hooded cobra or a silken panther on a hillside ready to spring. It was an animal magnetism I never got over."

After Johnson was selected as John F. Kennedy's running mate in 1960, Valenti worked on the ticket's media campaign in Texas and he kept in touch with Johnson after he became vice president.

Valenti was also smitten by Johnson secretary Mary Margaret Wiley. After spotting her coming off an airplane with Johnson in Houston, Valenti asked an aide to call the Rice Hotel and order the staff to rearrange the seating so she would be placed next to him.

When the couple married in 1962, Wiley's father was ill, so Johnson gave the bride away. The couple had three children: Courtenay Lynda, John Lyndon and Alexandra Alice.

Valenti continued to handle assignments for Johnson, and, in November 1963, the vice president asked him to help in a politically sensitive campaign visit that President Kennedy planned to make to Texas. The trip would make Valenti an eyewitness to one of America's darkest chapters and abruptly change the course of his life.

On Nov. 22, Valenti was riding six cars behind the presidential limousine as it snaked through the streets of Dallas toward Dealey Plaza. Valenti would later recall that he never actually heard the shots that killed Kennedy, but immediately knew something was wrong.

"Suddenly, the slow-moving motorcade became the Indianapolis Speedway," he recalled in a Times piece published on the assassination's 40th anniversary. "The car in front drag-raced from 10 mph to over 60. None of us had any idea of what happened."

After Kennedy died, Johnson asked Valenti to join him on Air Force One flying back to Washington. Valenti can be seen crouching in the left corner of one of the event's defining photographs showing a somber Johnson taking the oath of office on the presidential jet, Jacqueline Kennedy at Johnson's side still wearing her blood-stained dress.

Valenti said he was "catapulted onto the largest proscenium stage" he'd ever been on.

"That act of inscrutable fate changed my life," he said.

Valenti helped write the words Johnson uttered when he addressed the American people for the first time as president, and bunked at the White House until his family arrived. He would later joke that he was the answer to a trivia questions as one of only two White House aides who actually lived in the White House, the other being Franklin Roosevelt's aide Harry Hopkins.

Valenti effectively became Johnson's companion, troubleshooter and trusted confidant. Throughout his life Valenti was a loyal defender of Johnson, even as his presidency was crumbling because of the Vietnam War. He compared Johnson to the Greek mythological hero Achilles, seeing him as a talented leader whose flaws brought him down.

In a 1965 speech to the Advertising Federation of America, Valenti uttered a sentence that would hang around his neck like an albatross: "I sleep each night a little better, a little more confidently, because Lyndon Johnson is my president."

Later, when he complained to Johnson that he couldn't escape the quote, Johnson replied: "I don't know what you're fretting about, Jack. Do you know how few presidential assistants say anything memorable?"

Valenti regarded his time with Johnson in Washington as the "summertime" of his life -- the only period when he was doing something that really "counted," he said in his 1976 book about Johnson, "A Very Human President." Washington, he added, is the "ultimate seduction. After that, everything is tasteless passion."

In 1966, two Hollywood moguls, MCA Inc. powerbroker Lew Wasserman and United Artists' Arthur Krim, were looking for someone to lead their trade group and they approached Valenti. After initially resisting, Johnson gave his blessing.

Valenti left in April, saying he could not turn down the $175,000-a-year post. The new position paid more than six times his $28,000 White House salary. By the time he left the MPAA he was one of the highest paid lobbyists in Washington, reportedly earning $1.35 million annually.

Two years after taking over the MPAA, Valenti and association counsel Louis Nizer devised the ratings system so they could scrap the industry's Hays Code, which for decades placed tight restrictions on movie language and sexual content. The code included such rules as no open-mouth kissing and a requirement that a man and a woman in bed each have one foot on the floor.

"If you wanted to be affectionate, you had to be Nadia Comaneci the gymnast," Valenti later recalled.

One of his first dealings with the code after being hired by the MPAA was to negotiate what language could be used in Mike Nichols' film version of Edward Albee's play "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Valenti would not permit the use of some crude language to describe sex, although he approved use of the phrase "hump the hostess." But the almost comical exercise in discretion made it more obvious that enforcement of the code had become virtually impossible.

At the time, Hollywood was facing competition from more daring foreign films and was seeing a new generation of directors push the boundaries as Nichols did with "Virginia Woolf" and Michelangelo Antonioni did with "Blow Up." Valenti abhorred censorship and wanted to do away with the code, but knew he needed an alternative to head off any potential restrictions from lawmakers.

Valenti became immersed in the industry's business issues as well. He championed open markets for Hollywood films, and in the final years of his tenure was preoccupied with digital piracy, as technology made it easy to create pristine bootlegs of films.

He did misjudge the impact of home video on the business, initially seeing it as such a threat that it was "to the American film producer and the American public what the Boston Strangler is to the American woman at home alone." Instead, home video became a gold mine for studios.

In the early 1990s, Valenti threatened to resign so he could publicly denounce Oliver Stone's "JFK," which suggested that Johnson was involved in a conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy. Robert Daly, then chairman of Warner Bros., talked him out of it. Valenti agreed to wait until after the Oscar ballots for 1991 were in, then issued a blistering seven-page statement in which he called the film a "propaganda masterpiece and equally a hoax."

Nonetheless, Valenti defended Stone's right to make the film.

"I do not consider myself anointed by God to have these immaculate visions of how a movie ought to be made or how a movie ought to be told," he said.

With the energy of an executive decades younger, Valenti traveled relentlessly until his retirement. He obtained his taekwondo black belt in 1999, at the age of 78.

Toward the end, some executives started to question whether Valenti's erudite, Old World style reflected the image of the New Hollywood -- whether his longevity, in fact, was a double-edged sword.

But Valenti remained one of Washington's most effective players. He scored a victory by temporarily beating back a move by the networks to control TV rerun rights and revenues -- upholding rules prohibiting them from selling or syndicating programs they aired. It was a windfall for the studios represented by Valenti, and although the networks later won the battle to eliminate these rules, it was regarded as a major success for him at the time.

Throughout, his infectious "Valenti-isms" endeared him to politicians and reporters. In a single conversation he might quote Churchill, Benjamin Disraeli and the Greek philosopher Heraclitus. After a trying week politically, he once told a Times reporter: "You gird your loins. You get out on the battlefield, your broadsword flashing."

Valenti expressed some frustrations with the changing nature of the job. After a series of mergers and takeovers, studios had become slices of diversified entities that changed the landscape of Hollywood. And with the growing international market and emerging technologies, his focus was not just on movie production and a burgeoning TV industry, as it was when he started out.

In addition, it was Valenti who often took the bullet when it came to criticisms of Hollywood and popular culture. In 2000, he led a group of studio executives to Capitol Hill, where they were lambasted over violence in the media.

"I do get frustrated; in fact, I do get depressed from time to time. But if I just hunker down -- as LBJ used to say -- like a jackass in a hailstorm and wait until the storm passes, it's going to be all right," he said. "If this were an easy job, you could probably get someone fresh out of Harvard Business School to do it."

Industry veteran Sidney Sheinberg, former president of Universal Pictures' longtime corporate parent MCA Inc., who knew Valenti for more than 35 years, marveled at how Valenti operated in his longtime position as head of the MPAA.

"He had an impossible job. And the impossible part wasn't dealing with the exhibitors [theater owners] or foreign countries, but people who were his nominal bosses," said Sheinberg, referring to the heads of all the motion picture studios.

Sheinberg said Valenti's job would be analogous to being head of the United Nations, where countries all consider themselves independent. "He had to reconcile their opinions and conflicting interests, and it requires the utmost statesmanship."

On a lighter note, Sheinberg recalled how he used to love to sometimes tease Valenti about his attire: "Jack was a fashion plate in his own mind. Long after the world considered stripe shirts with white collars passe, Jack was a peacock."

In 2004, Valenti finally gave up his post, succeeded by former Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman. Until the stroke, Valenti remained active, working on world health issues and consulting the industry on how to educate parents to block objectionable TV shows.

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment...home-headlines
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Obituary
Jack Valenti, 85
led MPAA for four decades
By Duane Byrge The Hollywood Reporter (Brooks Boliek in Washington and the Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Jack Valenti, the high-level power broker who reigned as head of the MPAA for almost four decades and was responsible for the institution of the movie ratings system, died Thursday. He was 85.

The charismatic Valenti suffered a stroke in late March and spent about a month at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He was checked out of the hospital on Tuesday. He died of complications of the stroke at his Washington, D.C., home, said MPAA spokesman Seth Oster.

A diminutive Texan who used big words and wielded even bigger clout in the corridors of Hollywood and Washington, Valenti served as special assistant to President Lyndon Johnson before he took over at MPAA in 1966. He retired in 2004, handing the reins to Dan Glickman, a former congressman and Agriculture Department secretary.

"Jack Valenti was a giant who loomed large over two of the world's most glittering stages -- Washington and Hollywood," Glickman said in a statement Thursday. "He was a patriot who loved and served his country, and he was a passsionate champion of American cinema and artistic freedom. He was truly a model for us all."

During his MPAA tenure, foes considered Valenti Texas' answer to Napoleon, and he was often scorned as a defender of the status quo in Hollywood. A strong personality with an unwavering loyalty to his employers, he was an ardent defender of the major motion picture studios who made up the MPAA and an eloquent proponent of their financial, as well as cultural, interests.

Valenti's professional attainments were vast: He wrote five books, including one work of fiction, a political novel entitled "Protect and Defend." His nonfiction books include "The Bitter Taste of Glory," "A Very Human President," "Speak Up with Confidence" and "This Time, This Place: My Life in War, the White House, and Hollywood," which is due out in June. He was preparing to promote the latter when he became ill.

Valenti also wrote and placed numerous essays in major newspapers as well as such periodicals as Atlantic Monthly and Newsweek. He was a popular graduation speaker at university ceremonies and received an honorary doctorate from the University of Oklahoma (and no doubt many more).

France conferred on him its Legion d'Honneur and he was accorded his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. A sculpture of Valenti was unveiled in February at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles.

Energetic and enamored of show business, he made numerous TV appearances, including guest spots on "Freakazoid!" where he voiced himself.

Jack Valenti was born in Dallas on Sept. 5, 1921. A go-getter, at 15 he was one of the youngest high school graduates in the city's history. As a teenager, he served as an office boy at Humble Oil (now Exxon), then distinguished himself in World War II as an ace pilot-commander, flying more than 50 combat missions with the 12th Air Force in Italy.

He was frequently decorated, receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with four clusters, the Distinguished Unit Citation with one cluster and the European Theater Ribbon with four battle stars.

Valenti returned from service to attend the University of Houston, working during the day and attending class at night. He went on to take his MBA at Harvard's School of Business.

Valenti began his professional career in 1952 as co-founder of the advertising agency and political consultancy Weekley & Valenti. The firm was extremely successful, and he cultivated contacts and favors, impressing among others, Johnson, who as vice president tapped his agency to handle the media during President Kennedy's ill-fated visit to Johnson's home state of Texas.

Valenti flew with Johnson aboard the plane carrying the assassinated Kennedy from Dallas in November 1963. He mined that indelible memory for a Vanity Fair interviewer in March.

"(Johnson) leaned down in my ear and said very softly, 'The president is dead, you know.' When I came up to Johnson at Love Field, he said, matter-of-factly, 'Jack, I want you on my staff, and I want you to fly back to Washington with me.' "

As the third leader in MPAA history, Valenti's most notable accomplishment was the 1968 institution of the movie ratings, in which a film is given a G, PG, PG-13 or R rating based on its content. The X rating was replaced by the NC-17 rating in the 1990s.

An eloquent speaker with a propensity to quote the ancient Greeks and Romans, Valenti often inspired or confused NATO and ShoWest audiences with quotes from such nonindustry pros as Pliny the Elder, Herodotus and Cleonymus II of Agathocles.

In the '90s, his opening speech at ShoWest was a much-anticipated kickoff for the national exhibitors' event. Mixing boxoffice figures, technology and mythology all in one smoothly delivered oration, Valenti's silver-throated outpouring invariably inspired his listeners -- especially the three who understood it.

As his MPAA reign came to a close, Valenti and the MPAA were occupied with movie piracy, both on the Internet and on bootlegged videos. He sided with the studios' proposal to ban distribution of movie screeners to critics in an anti-piracy measure, a plan derided by some as being a David vs. Goliath scenario, under which the small indies, who counted on critics' votes to win attention for their films, were being unfairly penalized.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/...a1a80803c473dv

A statement from on Mr. Valenti's death from MPAA Head Dan Glickman is here:

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/...tylus/4909.pdf
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A reminder:

Friday night at 9 PM ET/PT is the finale of Raines on NBC.

The episode was written by the son of frequent Hot Off The Press contributor jandron.

So tune in!
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