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post #14221 of 96479 Old 02-02-2008, 02:58 PM - Thread Starter
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WGA Strike Notes
Deal to End Hollywood Writers’ Strike May Be Near
By Michael Cieply, The New York Times, February 2, 2008

LOS ANGELES — Informal talks between representatives of Hollywood’s writers and production companies eliminated the major roadblocks to a new contract, opening the prospect of a tentative agreement between the parties as early as next week, according to people who were briefed on the situation but requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak.

A deal would end a crippling writers strike that is now entering its fourth month.

The agreement may come without renewed formal negotiations between the parties, though both sides still need to agree on specific language of key provisions. If that process goes smoothly, an agreement may be presented to the governing boards of the striking Writers Guild of America West and Writers Guild of America East by the end of next week, the people said.

The breakthrough occurred Friday after two weeks of closed-door discussions between the sides. Even if approved by leaders of the guilds, a deal would require ratification by a majority of the more than 10,000 active guild members.

Writers walked out on Nov. 5 after failing to reach a new contract with producers in months of difficult bargaining. Talks resumed briefly in December, but quickly broke off again. The latest round of talks came in the wake of a tentative contract agreement between producers and the Directors Guild of America.

That deal confronted many of the same issues that have troubled writers — including difficult questions related to pay for digital distribution of shows and movies — and paved the way for Friday’s movement toward a deal.

A final sticking point had been compensation for television programs that are streamed over the Internet after their initial broadcast. Companies were seeking a period during which they could stream such shows without paying a residual, and wanted to peg payments for a year of streaming at the $1,200 level established in the directors’ contract. Writers were seeking 1.2 percent of the distributors’ revenue from such streams as a residual. How that issue was finally resolved in the informal talks remained unclear as of Saturday afternoon.

Spokesmen for the West Coast writers guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The sides have been operating under a news blackout.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/02/bu...gewanted=print
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post #14222 of 96479 Old 02-02-2008, 03:04 PM
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Radio hosts, TV reporters flock to Valley

Mike Branom
January 28, 2008 - 7:24AM
East Valley Tribune
Phoenix, Arizona

For scenery’s sake, ESPN is grateful its broadcasts from the Valley start today. The cable sports network’s pre-Super Bowl XLII shows need a dramatic backdrop, a sight that boldly announces to viewers “Live from Arizona!” Producer Stephanie Druley found that vista: Camelback Mountain.

Sunday afternoon, during run-throughs on ESPN’s set at Scottsdale’s SouthBridge, the mountain was nowhere to be seen because of thick rainclouds. Good thing this was just rehearsal.

Super Bowls are outsized events, and part of that larger-than-life spectacle is the horde of reporters, radio hosts, television talkers and photographers. The National Football League opened its media headquarters at the Phoenix Convention Center on Sunday, but with the start of the business week the media starts arriving in earnest today.

According to the NFL, about 3,500 members of the media have credentials for the game itself. In addition to that are an unknown number of personnel given “Week of Game” passes, which get the bearer into all events except the game. Plus, many organizations are bringing support staffers who don’t have credentials.

ESPN, for example, has brought a battalion of 600, comprising members of its enterprises in television, radio, the Internet and more.

“All sports are important, but the NFL is the biggest thing going in this country,” said ESPN broadcaster Trey Wingo, a veteran of 11 Super Bowls. “This is our chance to really put all hands on deck, and do everything we can to show that we do it better and we cover it more thoroughly than everybody else.”

Where the first Super Bowl had 350 members of the media on hand, that number is expected to be surpassed this year by the international contingent alone. At the convention center on Sunday, the half-dozen representatives of Mexico’s TV Azteca were easily spotted by their matching ski jackets adorned with NFL logos.

One of the visual highlights at any Super Bowl is “Radio Row,” table upon table of men barking into microphones. Ninety-seven stations have credentials for the game, and by Sunday afternoon a handful were ready to talk.

But where were the other businesses of greater importance?

“Where’s that ice cream at?” a young man asked of his colleagues. A woman replied silently, pointing to the Cold Stone Creamery cooler. There, anyone with a credential could get a small cup of sweet, sugary goodness.

Last year, the Scottsdale-based company was part of Arizona’s contingent in Miami before Super Bowl XLI. The ice cream was so well received, the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee thought it a no-brainer to bring Cold Stone back.

This year, Radio Row is actually a series of small rows arranged in a box. At the center of the square is the set for the league-owned NFL Network. The Vince Lombardi Trophy, which goes to the game’s victor, was brought out as a prop and stagehands immediately whipped out their cell phones to take pictures.

http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/story/107565
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post #14223 of 96479 Old 02-02-2008, 03:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Critic's Notes
Incredible Shrinking Profession!
By Roger Catlin Hartford Courant TV Critic in his TV Eye blog


Heard news this week about two more TV critics leaving newspapers, not to be replaced.

Doug Elfman was quite a character at the Chicago Sun-Times, the one to ask the most twisted questions on press tour and was an early supporter of Heroes, was laid off in the middle of another staff reduction.

He'll go back to the Las Vegas Review-Journal as an entertainment writer, from whence he came. He apparently won't be replaced.

Also leaving the paper - voluntarily in her case - is Melanie McFaralane, TV critic at the Seattle Post Intelligencer who was highly regarded in the field though, like me, she'd been only there for five years, is taking a post as TV editor on the Internet Movie Data Base (did you know imdb.com needed a TV editor?).

Anyway, she wrote in her final column that TV writing in the paper would be taken over by bloggers, readers and items from TV Guide.com. Yikes.

Worst of all is the news from Palm Beach, Fla., where reporter Mark Schwed was found dead this week apparently of natural causes. A well regarded reporter and likable fellow, he was friendly enough to me when I met him early in my TV writer days, out on press tour. Before he joined the Palm Beach Post as a feature writer he worked for TV Guide for 11 years. He was exactly my age.

http://blogs.courant.com/roger_catlin_tv_eye/
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post #14224 of 96479 Old 02-02-2008, 03:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Critic's Notes
TV Gal Signs Off
By Melanie McFarland Seattle Post-Intelligencer TV Critic

You are reading the words of one of the luckiest people on the planet.

That's how I have felt almost every day for five years now. Fortunate. Blessed. Often overwhelmed.

Occasionally amazed at the notion that somehow I have pulled one over on the universe.

Watching TV for a living does that to a person. Often when I told people what I did, an incredulous expression fell across their faces.

Then came the questions.

What did I think about "The Wire"? (Brilliant.) How about "Jericho"? (To be honest, not one of my favorites, but I intend to give it another shot when it returns to CBS at 10 p.m. on Feb. 12.) And what's my take on -- (Hey, is that brie over there? Man, I love brie. Let's fill our word holes with brie, and after that, maybe discuss the latest Radiohead release.)

Talking about TV all the time can become exhausting, I have to admit.

But though I need a break, I'll never completely tire of it. I will miss starting our discussions in these pages, however.

This is my final column for the Seattle P-I, and for a lot of reasons, the most difficult piece I've ever had to write. There's no show to analyze, no grist for comedic riffing -- just a blank page, and a lot of memories to sift.

Plus, finales are always surrounded by such high expectations, so please forgive my nervousness at constructing this one.

A larger reason that makes it so hard to give up this column is that it means bidding farewell to the smartest, most loyal group of readers anyone can ask for. You have honored me with your continued attention, your encouragement and, quite often, your spirited disagreements.

We've seen television go through a lot of changes together. When my first column was published five years ago, Joss Whedon fans could get our weekly fixes of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel" on their respective networks, UPN and The WB.

"The West Wing" remained in fine form on NBC and Fox's "24" was a worthy addiction.

And, cable! FX was coming out swinging with "The Shield" and Bravo gave us "Project Runway," one of the few unscripted series on television that feeds the mind instead of draining it.

HBO raised our expectations of the medium with intelligent, soul-stirring series whose names I probably don't have to mention ... but yeah, I'm talking about "Six Feet Under," "The Sopranos" and every other terrific hour a person can recall.

"Brothers and Sisters," "Boston Legal," "Friday Night Lights," "30 Rock," "The Unit" -- these are but some of the series that prove that TV, with all its flaws, is still worth watching. On nights that they fail us, we can still nod off with a smile courtesy of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, who continue to get better as time goes on.

What a gift it has been to talk about extraordinary series like AMC's "Mad Men" and The CW's "Veronica Mars," or the awe-inspiring rise in prime-time drama's overall intelligence. How heartbreaking it was to say goodbye to great shows like "NYPD Blue," or see one-of-a-kind series like "Arrested Development" fail to find purchase with a larger audience. (At least it got a few seasons to prove its case.)

And think back to the sheer awe of viewing the "Lost" pilot for the first time, or the riveting, delicious minutes of "Dexter's" first episode -- amazing, weren't they?

As for "Dexter" cleaning up for its upcoming CBS debut ... well, that should be interesting.

Not every change has been positive. These past few years provided a number of sobering lessons about the devastating combination of a manipulative government and a compliant media, and how invasive and chilling to creativity the Federal Communications Commission can be if citizens don't continue working to keep it in check.

The industry itself is undergoing a tough transition as well.

The writers' strike continues. Behind all of those shared memories of top-shelf television is the hard work of smart, talented writers who have put their careers on the line to secure their futures, and the futures of great scribes who have yet to debut their work.

Meanwhile, Fox got boffo ratings for last week's premiere "The Moment of Truth," and NBC is encouraged by our demonstrative affection for "American Gladiators."

In spite of what you may be thinking, none of these developments factored into my decision to move on. I survived "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here" and all that nauseating slurping on "Joe Millionaire." I even continued to live happily in the wake of an unexpected smooch on the mouth from Ron Jeremy during a party for "The Surreal Life." I'm pretty sure I could have made it through this strike.

By the way, I would like to extend an extra special thanks to Mr. Jeremy for that peck. Not only was it a very sweet and heartfelt gesture -- seriously, it was! -- that kiss bestowed a very special power on me: Pressing lips with a porn legend pretty much makes it easy to give a warm embrace to anyone or anything. I can hug a flaming zombie or Dick Cheney, no problem.

But here's the thing: Television happens to be going places we're only beginning to get a glimpse of. On screens that transform our sets into vivid windows into other existences, or on our phones, iPods and computers. The industry is changing rapidly, and its imperative that the people who love television are ready to change with it.

That means it's the right time for me to make a change as well. I will be joining the Internet Movie Database as its TV editor, a place that serves as the starting point of countless TV-related conversations, and has been known to settle its fair share of bets. Following a short and very necessary break, I intend to return to my first love -- writing, and resume blogging about TV. Shoot me an e-mail at seattletvgal@gmail.com, and we'll keep the conversation going until then.

Although I won't be under the globe anymore, a number of talented reader bloggers and regularly updated articles from TVGuide.com will continue to make this one of the best places for couch potatoes to camp out.

Otherwise, what else can I do but thank you noble readers and my incredible bosses here at the P-I for five wonderful years? It's been nothing short of a magnificent ride.

But it's not over yet. Keep watching.

http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/p...entryID=130581
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post #14225 of 96479 Old 02-02-2008, 03:44 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Review
“Welcome to the Captain”
Bottom Line: This new sitcom fills a vacancy for goodhearted entertainment
By Barry Garron, The Hollywood Reporter, Feb 4, 2008

A classic comedy if ever there was one, "Welcome to the Captain," (premieres 8:30 PM Monday, CBS) with its dinner-theater characters and traditional boy-meets-girl romance, has a wide, multigenerational appeal. I'm not sure whether it has something blue, but this single-camera sitcom from John Hamburg definitely has something old, new and borrowed.

Inserted in the midst of the CBS Monday night comedy block, the show brings a light heart and a deft comedic touch to bear on the foibles and stereotypes of Hollywood. Considering the present state of the industry, the timing couldn't be better.

Something new is Fran Kranz, who plays Josh Flug, a young writer whose short film won an Oscar five years ago but who has accomplished little since then. His girlfriend broke up with him, and he's ready to return to New York. However, his former college roommate, Marty (Chris Klein), a womanizing business manager, urges him to try once more, starting with new digs at the fabled and fabulous El Capitan.

There, he meets the warmest and wackiest group of residents since "Hot L Baltimore." Among them are terrific characters played by veterans Jeffrey Tambor (Uncle Saul, the building yenta who lives off writing residuals from "Three's Company") and Raquel Welch (as local femme fatale Charlene), who can still make hearts skip beats.

Competing with them to steal each scene is Al Madrigal, who plays doorman/desk clerk Jesus (pronounced the English, not Spanish, way).

What's borrowed is the locale. Standing in for the hulking El Capitan (called "The Captain" by residents) is the El Royale Apartments, a showbiz legend on Rossmore Avenue that, at one time or another, housed Clark Gable, Loretta Young and Judy Holliday as well as Ben Stiller, Nicholas Cage and Cameron Diaz.

In the opener, Josh meets aspiring acupuncturist Hope, played by Joanna Garcia, whose skills as a comedic actress have progressed nicely since her stint as Cheyenne, the daughter on "Reba." Hope has a boyfriend and is planning on moving back to New York, but we know better. The Josh-Hope romance becomes the center of this mildly absurd but sweetly conventional comedy.

Hamburg's script is not a laugh riot, but it has a nice gentle rhythm that feels right for this good-natured show. Production design and set decor are so good you can practically smell the carpet and cleaning supplies. Hip in tone but traditional in spirit, it's not at all hard to feel welcome at the Captain.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/television/reviews/article_display.jsp?JSESSIONID=D8HCHk2QKtNL9HVhHgQ8w1hX5GlLG jLvRdv5b1VVl1WRfGnVv4VK!1939571300&&rid=10584
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post #14226 of 96479 Old 02-02-2008, 03:45 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Review
“Welcome to the Captain”
By Brian Lowry, Variety

Nothing in "Welcome to the Captain" is particularly fresh, but there's nevertheless a genial charm to this CBS comedy, whose main drawback is that it focuses on the wrong characters. Still, it's an amusing enough "Echo Park"-like premise: a Hollywood apartment building occupied by an assortment of not-ready-for-(or past their)-primetime players, including a former soap star (Raquel Welch) and one-time "Three's Company" writer (Jeffrey Tambor). That said, the series might be an awkward fit for the Eye network, feeling more like a logical companion to "Entourage" than "How I Met Your Mother" reruns.

In an obvious bow to younger demos, the series focuses on its least-interesting players, which fall squarely within the 18-34 age bracket. Josh (Fran Kranz) won an Oscar for short film, but five years later he's no longer a wunderkind and ready to slink back to New York with his statuette between his legs. Only an invitation from his easygoing, ladies man pal Marty (Chris Klein) convinces him to stay, moving into El Capitan, an old-time Hollywood complex teeming with colorful personalities.

Presiding over it all is eccentric building manager Uncle Saul (Tambor), who name-drops constantly about his "Company" days; and blabbermouth desk attendant Jesus (Al Madrigal), who insists on the English pronunciation of his name. Stumbling through the first two episodes in wide-eyed wonder, Josh has his world rocked by encountering dream-girl Hope ("Reba's" Joanna Garcia), who hits him like the proverbial thunderbolt.

As introduced by series creator John Hamburg (whose writing credits include the "Meet the Parents" pics), Josh's crush and Marty's carnal adventures are the show's most conventional elements, yet they garner most of the screentime. On the plus side, their antics are garnished by a showbiz-savvy mix of wannabes and has-beens, from Welch's one-time star of "Falcon Crest" or "Dynasty" (nobody can seem to remember) -- who, as Uncle Saul accurately observes, still has "a tush like a buttery chardonnay" -- to Valerie Azlynn as a bubbly ingenue.

Tarted up a bit, "The Captain" (the building's nickname, hence the title) would likely be more at home in the narrower confines of cable, where the ins and outs of Hollywood have traditionally survived longer than in the broadcast realm. Granted, there's a broad romantic comedy theme in the Josh-Hope situation, but as various series have demonstrated, that sort of pining isn't easily sustained over the long haul.

For CBS, the more pressing logistical concern is how to get a relatively nondescript comedy sampled with its Monday-night anchors forced into strike-related reruns. So while there's enough here to recommend checking out "Welcome to the Captain," let's just say reservations are warranted regarding whether the show will be checking in for an extended stay.

http://www.variety.com/index.asp?lay...&categoryid=32
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post #14227 of 96479 Old 02-02-2008, 03:52 PM - Thread Starter
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Obituary
Dwight Hemion, 81
TV director won 18 Emmys
By Mary Rourke Los Angeles Times Staff Writer, February 2, 2008

Dwight Arlington Hemion, a television director and producer best known for his musical specials who won 18 Emmy Awards and was nominated a record 47 times, died Monday at his home in Rectortown, Va. He was 81.

The cause was renal failure, his wife, Kit, said.

In television specials starring Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Mikhail Baryshnikov and many other world-class performers, Hemion and his partner, producer Gary Smith, captured popular and critical acclaim.

"Hemion defined an era in television," Ron Simon, curator of radio and television at the Paley Center for Media in New York City, said this week. "He created great variety television for home audiences."

Starting in the late 1960s, Hemion "defined the music spectacular," Simon said.

Shows that Hemion directed were made in a comparatively simple style without elaborate editing or special effects. "The artist was the star," Smith said in an interview this week.

For "Baryshnikov on Broadway," which won Hemion two Emmys in 1980, one segment had the ballet dancer joining the kick line from "A Chorus Line," the Broadway musical.

"We learned that Baryshnikov had a passion for musical theater," Smith said.

It was the type of revealing detail Hemion looked for. In every show, "we wanted to make it feel that there was a new insight into the performer," Smith said.

Another Hemion special, "Frank Sinatra: A Man and His Music," was an Emmy winner in 1966 and featured Sinatra in his early 50s, singing songs that conveyed the bittersweetness of life. It was another side to the legend built on Sinatra's glamorous, jet-setting public image.

At times, Hemion directed television specials on location. One early example featured trumpeter Herb Alpert, opening the show with a performance in a Tijuana bullring. The show won two Emmys, one for outstanding director and one for outstanding musical program, in 1968.

Hemion began collecting television's top prize in 1965 with an Emmy for "My Name Is Barbra." He worked with Streisand a number of times after that and earned Emmys for other specials, including "Color Me Barbra" in 1966 and, most recently, "Barbra Streisand: The Concert" in 1995.

Other major performers Hemion worked with included Luciano Pavarotti, Neil Diamond and Bette Midler.

"Every star who had a special wanted Dwight to direct it," Gail Purse said this week. She worked with Hemion through the 1990s when he directed a number of "Disney's Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra," programs that aired on the Disney Channel.

Although Hemion was best known for his work with entertainers, he also directed televised coverage of the inaugural galas of President Reagan in 1985 and President Clinton in 1993 and 1997. He directed TV coverage of several Democratic National Conventions, a number of annual "Christmas in Washington" TV specials and several Kennedy Center Honors programs.

In the 1970s, Hemion and Smith worked in London, after British media mogul Lew Grade invited them to create programs there. They directed and produced television specials with composer Burt Bacharach, former Beatle Paul McCartney and singer-actress Julie Andrews, among other major talents. They also worked on several televised "Royal Command Performance" evenings of entertainment.

Hemion was born March 14, 1926, in New Haven, Conn., the son of an undertaker. After graduating from high school, he joined the Army Air Forces and served in the Pacific during World War II.

After the war, he went to work for ABC television in New York City. His first major directing job was with comedian Steve Allen on the "Tonight Show." He directed a number of the programs during the mid-1950s.

Hemion and Smith became partners in the mid-'60s, based in New York City and later in London before they relocated to Los Angeles in the mid-'70s.

Hemion's marriage to Joyce Hogue Hemion ended in divorce in 1970. He married Kit Lusk in 1973. He is survived by his second wife, two children and three step-children, as well as six grandchildren.

Contributions in Hemion's name may be made to the Young Musicians Foundation, 195 S. Beverly Drive, Suite 414, Beverly Hills, CA 90212.

http://www.latimes.com/news/obituari...57,print.story
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post #14228 of 96479 Old 02-02-2008, 04:13 PM
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With the lack of new programming... I cant believe it, I'm watching Canadian TV, and PBS!
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post #14229 of 96479 Old 02-02-2008, 04:32 PM
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^^^ Because of the strike I've re-discovered these ancient forms of entertainment called 'BOOKS.' Can you believe for centuries people would actually use their imaginations to make the words and/or images from a page leap into life inside each of their heads? How quaint and naive... but utterly fascinating given the option of watching a "SVU" or "Heroes" repeat!
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post #14230 of 96479 Old 02-02-2008, 08:58 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Notes
Contract outlined in Hollywood writers strike
By Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer, February 2, 2008

Hollywood's striking writers and major studios reached the broad outlines of a new employment contract, resolving key sticking points over how much writers should be paid for work that is distributed over the Internet, people familiar with the negotiations said today.

The progress moves the two parties closer to forging an agreement that could bring an end to a 3-month-old walkout.

A final contract could be presented to the Writers Guild of America's board as early as Friday, according to three people close to the talks who asked not to be identified because the negotiations are confidential. The strike would not be called off until the board ratifies a new contract.

Attorneys from the studios and the guild were meeting over the weekend to discuss contract language for the proposed agreement, which would need to be ratified by the union's 10,500 members.

Representatives of the Writers Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios, declined to comment, citing a press blackout.

Both the writers and the studios have been under pressure to find a way to end Hollywood's costliest strike in two decades. The walkout has shut down scripted television production, causing thousands of job losses and threatening the upcoming television season. Production of pilots for the fall television season is scheduled to begin this month. The status of the Feb. 24 Academy Awards shows is also in limbo.

The writers began their strike Nov. 5 in a dispute largely over new-media pay. Talks were revived in early December before breaking down again.

The writers' agreement, released late Friday, is modeled after a contract reached last month by the directors. Relations between the directors and the studios were not nearly as contentious, allowing the two sides to agree on a new contract quickly. Under the deal, residual payments received by directors for films and TV shows sold online will double. The union also won jurisdiction over shows created for the Internet and established payments for shows that are streamed on advertising-supported Web sites.

A number of top writers, including several members of the Writers Guild's negotiating committee, have viewed the directors' pact as a flawed but workable model for their own agreement and had conveyed that message to guild leaders.

Many writers, however, complained that the directors' contract offered meager residuals on shows that were streamed and limited the union's jurisdiction over shows created for the Web. Progress in the talks suggested that studios may have improved the terms for writers in those areas.

Guild negotiators David Young, Patric M. Verrone and John Bowman are scheduled Monday to brief the union's negotiating committee board on the proposed deal.

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la...,3280280.story
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post #14231 of 96479 Old 02-02-2008, 09:04 PM - Thread Starter
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WGA Strike Notes
Saturday Update
Is WGA-Mogul Deal About To Clinch?
By Nikki Finke of LA Weekly in her deadlinehollywooddaily blog

As you know, I've been ill with the flu but also reporting for days now that the informal talks have been productive and progressing.

Now sources are telling me the WGA and moguls are at the point where they may reach a final settlement very soon after overcoming major hurdles.

The New York Times is reporting this also.

This means a settlement to end the strike and put Hollywood back to work could also come soon enough to hold a real Oscars.

UPDATE: United Hollywood, the unofficial website for WGA info, says: "UH has confirmed from off-the-record sources that progress is indeed being made in the informal talks, and that creative solutions to the biggest differences between the AMPTP and the WGA have gotten the tentative and cautious approval of both sides. This does not mean there is a deal in principle yet. It means we may, finally, be very close to one -- as close as days away. And while we're cautiously optimistic about what we're hearing, it comes with a real caveat. Just as happened with the DGA deal, points that are agreed to in informal negotiation can be thought of as points on a deal memo -- but it's the drafting language that comes from hammering out those points that makes them legally binding. And our sources say that draft language doesn't yet exist. That's a big part of what will be happening in the next few days, as negotiations continue. Until the WGA and the companies have enshrined the deal points -- whatever they are -- into real draft language, those deal points can't be thought of as final."

http://www.deadlinehollywooddaily.com/
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post #14232 of 96479 Old 02-03-2008, 10:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Super Bowl Notes
XLI Years Ago,
the Super Bowl Was Just An X-Small
By Paul Farhi, Washington Post Staff Writer, Sunday, February 3, 2008

Steve Sabol, who filmed the first Super Bowl and has attended every one since, can tell you this about that first big game: It wasn't all that big. And it certainly wasn't super.

More than one-third of the seats in Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum were empty when Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers played the Kansas City Chiefs that afternoon in January 1967. A ticket went for as little as $6; Sabol couldn't even give away half of the 10 freebies he had.

The event was so lacking in razzle-dazzle that the halftime entertainment consisted of college marching bands; so modest in its mercenary intent that advertisers could buy 30 seconds of TV airtime for about $40,000 (top price today: $3 million); so un-super that it wasn't officially called the Super Bowl. (The first game was clunkily dubbed "the AFL-NFL World Championship Game" by the two pro leagues.)

The game, Sabol says, was "an afterthought. It really was just not considered a compelling event at the time."

Few people have had a better perspective on the development of the national beer- and salty-snack-food orgy that we will reverently observe for the XLIInd time today than Sabol. The 65-year-old filmmaker and president of NFL Films was on the sidelines during the first interleague championship game as a young cameraman. He says he's one of only eight people on the planet who can document his attendance at every Super Bowl (he filmed each one up till 1988; since then, he's directed NFL Films' coverage of the game, including today's in Arizona).

Sabol's footage of Bart Starr and Max McGee's heroics for the Packers during Super Bowl I now rests in the cavernous vaults of NFL Films, the Philadelphia-area company started in 1962 by Sabol's father, Ed, now 92. The film's historic value grows by the year; it remains the only complete visual record of the event.

Neither CBS nor NBC, both of which carried the game, preserved its broadcast, says Ron Simon, curator of television and radio at the Paley Center for Media in New York. Following their standard practice at the time, the networks recorded over their tapes of the first two Super Bowls. (Simon says his organization is negotiating with a private collector to secure a nearly complete recording of the first game.)

Sabol picks up the story: "As far as the networks were concerned, there was never any reason to look at [the first game] again. You have to remember that this was before ESPN, before the Internet, when there weren't any shows about the history of sports. You'd think there would have been more interest in it back then, but there wasn't."

Sabol remembers that first game as a somewhat haphazard, even slapdash affair. Pete Rozelle, whose NFL had agreed in 1966 to merge with the upstart AFL, picked the date and location of the first championship just a few weeks before it was played. The pregame atmosphere was so low-key that Sabol remembers sharing a press bus to the Packers' training camp with just five other reporters, and snagging interviews with players and coaches simply by walking into their hotel rooms.

A few media outlets, including TV Guide, referred to the game as the "Super Bowl" or "Superbowl," a coinage supposedly credited to Lamar Hunt, who owned the Chiefs. But Rozelle reportedly hated the name, as did Lombardi, who wanted the media to call it simply "The Bowl."

Over the years, Sabol's original Super Bowl footage (along with action shot by 14 other NFL Films cameramen that day) has found its way into several NFL Films documentaries, including a 2004 HBO film called "The Wild Ride to Super Bowl I." It's part of the company's vast trove of material on pro football -- more than 100 million feet of film -- housed in a secure, fireproof facility at headquarters in Mount Laurel, N.J. Sabol says the archive is big enough to house a Boeing 727.

Try an even more super analogy: "The only other human endeavor on which there's more 16-millimeter film than pro football is World War II," he says, "and we're going to pass that in 2013."

As for the Game That Started It All, Sabol has two distinct recollections.

One is the wild celebration in the Packers' locker room after the NFL champions beat the Chiefs, 35-10. Lombardi, under intense pressure to deliver a victory for the supposedly superior league, was so nervous that he'd knotted his tie too tightly around his neck. When he was unable to loosen it during a postgame interview, Lombardi called over to the team's equipment manager, who grabbed a pair of scissors and snipped it off.

Steve and Ed Sabol included that moment in the highlight film they screened for the coach and his wife, Marie, in the Lombardis' basement a few weeks later. When the projector stopped, the Lombardis went upstairs to their kitchen. As father and son sat in uncomfortable silence, the legendary coach got a royal tongue-lashing from his wife. "Apparently, the tie had been a special Christmas gift from her," Steve Sabol says. "She wasn't pleased."

While making another film of the game, Sabol synced up a piece of footage with an audio track of play-by-play announcer Ray Scott. Sabol recites Scott's excited call of the play from memory: "Bratkowski pitches to Grabowski and he fumbles. Skoronski scoops it up!"

"You don't hear names like that anymore," he says. "If anything tells you how much the NFL has changed over the years, that's it."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...100875_pf.html
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Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

TV Notes
CBS orders more 'Survivor'
Network greenlights two seasons of reality show
By Josef Adalian, Variety January 28, 2008

And maybe they will finally make the investment to give us the show in HD?
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"Survivor" in HD appears not to be on the horizon.
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Saturday night almost four out of every five viewers in the 18-49 demographic were not watching network TV, according to Nielsen.

Saturday’s fast affiliate over night prime-time ratings – along with 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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Technology Notes
Candidates Primp, Networks Prep for Super Tuesday
Broadcast-News Divisions Grab More Primetime for Primaries’ Drama
By Marisa Guthrie, Broadcasting & Cable, 2/3/2008

Television loves a good horse race. And so far, the neck-and-neck presidential-race heats in the Democratic and Republican fields have created the biggest -- and earliest -- Super Tuesday in memory.

The broadcast networks are poised to dive deeper with expanded election-night coverage, while at least one will go wall-to-wall. ABC News took the unusual step of blowing out an entire evening’s worth of programming, sacrificing reruns of According to Jim and Carpoolers to the wonk gods for five hours of political coverage anchored by Charles Gibson, Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos.

"At ABC, the decision has been to give [this story] the time that it deserves," said David Westin, president of ABC News. "And frankly, at each turn when we thought the story would take a turn to become narrower and less interesting, it’s taken a turn to become broader and more interesting."

Indeed, as the writers’ strike drags on, this election night -- which involves states with more than 40% of the U.S. population -- might well offer the freshest and most compelling drama on television.

In 2004, ABC News and its broadcast brethren limited Super Tuesday coverage to live news cut-ins during February’s Super Tuesday, which wasn’t very "super," with only seven states holding primaries or caucuses, and the traditional Super Tuesday, in March, which included 10 states.

This time, 24 states will hold caucuses or primaries on what has been dubbed Tsunami Tuesday or Giga Tuesday by Washington pundits. News divisions have their work cut out for them.

"This is going to be more complicated than any election night any of us have ever covered, especially on the Democratic side," CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer said. "We can’t just say [Sen.] Hillary Clinton [D-N.Y.] has won California because it’s going to be who got the most delegates out there. And so trying to figure out who got the delegates and where the delegates are, all of that is going to be very complicated and it’s going to be difficult for us to untangle."

CBS News, which had planned one hour of live coverage, last week added a second hour with live updates for the West Coast helmed by Katie Couric, Schieffer and Jeff Greenfield. NBC will limit its broadcast coverage to an expanded one-hour Nightly News with Brian Williams and one hour at 10 p.m. while providing wall-to-wall coverage on sister network MSNBC.

Of course, CNN and Fox News Channel, which have taken the lead with campaign coverage, will also provide live, comprehensive reports throughout the evening. And BBC America -- which, in October, launched a 7 p.m. newscast for the stateside channel, as well as international signal BBC World -- will also pre-empt regular programming for five hours of live Super Tuesday analysis that will continue on the newscast on Wednesday, when Ted Koppel will be there to contribute perspective gleaned from almost 40 years at ABC News.

"Somebody here asked me, ‘What will the broadcast networks do on Super Tuesday?’" said Rome Hartman, who capped nearly 25 years at CBS News with a stint as Couric’s executive producer before leaving to launch BBC America’s evening newscast. "I said, ‘Well, the one with the weakest primetime schedule will go to news.’ That’s typically, unfortunately, how it works. If somebody’s got a really strong entertainment schedule, you couldn’t get into primetime with a crowbar."

Fox, of course, will offer alternative programming with American Idol.

With the 2008 campaign, television news collectively might become a source of ratings pride, especially if the writers’ strike lingers.

"It’s just a great story," Hartman said. "And anybody at any news division, particularly the broadcast organizations -- they have so many good people and so much expertise that there’s often much more capacity than there is ability to use it. After a while, the drumbeat inside of people who are really champing to cover this story becomes pretty substantial."

http://www.broadcastingcable.com/ind...leID=CA6528337
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post #14237 of 96479 Old 02-03-2008, 12:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Super Bowl Notes
For Aikman, A Seamless Conversion
By Michael E. Hill, Special to The Washington Post, Sunday, February 3, 2008

When Troy Aikman was carving out a Hall of Fame career as quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, he didn't worry much about what he would do when his National Football League playing days were over.

And he certainly didn't think he would wind up in the broadcast booth.

"I used to watch telecasts," Aikman said, "and I wondered, 'How can you talk about football that long?'"

Aikman, 41, will be talking about football for hours Sunday night as he provides the analysis and Joe Buck delivers the play-by-play on Fox's telecast of Super Bowl XLII from the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

Aikman, who piloted the Cowboys to three Super Bowl victories as the team's starting quarterback from 1989-2000, also got his first taste of TV while he was with the team. In 1994-95, he co-hosted a weekly program in Dallas with longtime NFL broadcaster Pat Summerall. "I had a fun with that," Aikman said, "but I wasn't thinking of TV."

TV was thinking of Aikman, though.

"As a potential broadcasting talent, he was very much under the radar, even though he was going to be a Hall of Fame quarterback and had Super Bowl rings," said Ed Goren, president of Fox Sports.

"A lot of people in broadcasting looked at Troy as who he was around the press when he was quarterbacking the Cowboys. That individual never gave the press any headline material. He would never embarrass a teammate or give the opponent any fodder. And Troy is a very private individual and somewhat soft-spoken. He's not controversial."

But Aikman's teammates and other acquaintances were aware that he could be opinionated.

"People who knew him said he had definite ideas about how the game should be played, that he was a leader in the locker room and he has a wonderful sense of humor," Goren said.

So before Aikman retired, Goren offered him a chance to announce Fox's off-season NFL Europe games -- part lark, part audition.

"It was a wonderful little laboratory for us to see what we thought of guys in the booth," Goren said, "and for them to see if it was something they'd like after retirement."

By 2001, when Aikman retired, he had two NFL Europe seasons behind him and an offer from Fox in front of him. He joined Daryl Johnston and Dick Stockton, the network's No. 2 broadcast team, and moved to the A-team the following year.

Aikman believes his sense of timing was a big factor in his getting noticed and rapidly promoted -- and Goren bears that out.

"I think what he liked," Aikman said, "was that I was able to say something in the window of time you have, and then stop and let the play-by-play man do what he does. That's not a problem for me."

Identifying analyst talent, Goren said, traditionally has been a bit of a crapshoot.

"You might have a dinner with a player or coach who is about to retire, and they are very engaging," he said. "But once you put them into a booth, they have to be able to make their points within 24 seconds, over and over again for the entire game."

Aikman garnered an Emmy nomination in 2004. He and Buck, a six-time Emmy winner, are broadcasting their second Super Bowl together, with Pam Oliver and Chris Myers on the sidelines.

Aikman, who is married and lives in Dallas with his wife, Rhonda Worthey, and their three daughters, has a lot of irons in the fire and didn't need to bounce from stadium to stadium to fill his days or his bank account. He had choices.

For a time he dabbled in the automotive business, teaming up with a group of investors to purchase an auto mall in Fort Worth. More recently he operated a Ford franchise, but he sold it last year.

"I'm now involved in commercial real estate, developing shopping areas built around Target and JC Penney stores," Aikman said.

Aikman also owns a minority position in a NASCAR racing team, along with Roger Staubach, who quarterbacked the Cowboys two decades before him.

But for much of the year, Aikman finds time to stay immersed in football. Working in television, Goren said, gives athletes a chance to stay close to a sport they've played all their lives.

"You're part of a team; you study film and you get on the plane afterward and rethink the game," Goren said. "The only difference is that when you get up Monday morning, you're not as sore."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...904114_pf.html
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post #14238 of 96479 Old 02-03-2008, 12:17 PM - Thread Starter
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The Business of Tedlevision
Pilot Error at Networks?
Zucker's NATPE speech: clarion call or empty threat?
By P.J. Bednarski, Executive Editor of Broadcasting & Cable, 2/4/2008 (With additional reporting by Marisa Guthrie )

If the TV executives at the National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) conference left Las Vegas with anything last week, it was this: It's time to blow up the old financial model.

The clarion call came from NBC Universal President and CEO Jeff Zucker, who went on the attack against network TV's profligate development process. In a keynote speech that was at times intense and urgent, he advocated a radical reordering of the way NBC will—or, more accurately, will not—develop series in the future. The network will drastically cut back ordering pilots, and those lavish upfront parties might be toned down, too.

“Last year, the five broadcast networks spent more than $500 million—more than half a billion dollars—on development of new series, scripts and pilots,” Zucker said at the opening session at NATPE. “Some 80 pilots were made for next fall, or whenever the next television season begins. At most, eight of those series will return—1 in 10. And of those eight, none could be considered a big success.” The year before, out of about 120 pilots, 12 came back for a second year.

Echoing fellow network executives, Zucker said that they can no longer spend tens of millions of dollars every year creating dozens of pilots that will “never see the light of day.” NBC might still produce five or so pilots, presuming, of course, that the writers' strike ends soon. “In recent years, those pilots have become standalone mini-movies, costing as much as $10 million apiece to make,” Zucker said. “The problem is they're not even close to what the series will look and feel like. Why not have the courage of our convictions and orders series straight to air, just as we do now on the reality side?”

The broadcast networks, which rent out grand venues like Radio City Music Hall and Carnegie Hall to show advertisers snippets of new series on giant screens, might take a cue from cable-TV networks, which have modest upfronts and shoot fewer pilots.

As content migrates from TV sets to computers and cellphones, the economic model no longer works, Zucker concluded. The new technology still doesn't bring in the same cash, while networks are still spending hundreds of millions to produce 22 hours of primetime programming a week—even as viewership declines. “We can't be trading analog dollars for digital pennies,” he said.

His analysis, he acknowledged, may be a little more dire than others, because of NBC's descent from primetime dominance. “Sometimes when you're on your back,” he said in a question-and-answer session later, “it's easier to see the future.” (Some specutlate NBCU is ready to sell the network after the Olympics, and that Zucker is just clearing the books,)

But other networks are scrambling to reduce development and pilot expenses. CBS, blaming the writers' strike, says its needs have changed and because of time constraints, it probably will concentrate on fewer shows. Other major broadcast networks are coming to the same conclusion, though with a lot less flamboyance.

“In the current environment, we've been forced to take a hard look at our needs for the upcoming season, and as a result we're going to target a more focused range of projects,” Fox said in a statement.

ABC says it will trim its batch of pilot scripts in an effort to save costs during the prolonged writers' strike. In a statement, the network says, “The stoppage has caused us to re-evaluate our development needs, and we've made the difficult decision to reduce the number of scripts under consideration.”

CBS Paramount Network Television made a deal to order 13 epsodes of the police drama, Flashpoint, partnering with Canada's CTV and other Canadian producers, after the pilot was already accounted for. That might be a signal CBS is not only thinking outside the box, but outside the boundaries.

“This year's pilot season, at best, will be played out in a very compressed time frame,” CBS said in a statement. In this landscape, we are better served creatively, financially and strategically by focusing our development on a more targeted number of projects.”

After Zucker's speech, the NATPE crowd buzzed with reaction. And in other television circles, Zucker's words were music to some ears. “It's about time!” says Jon Mandel, a veteran buyer and former chairman of MediaCom U.S. who now heads a new unit at Nielsen called NielsenConnect; he says he made the same argument to Zucker a couple of years ago. Mandel says the upfronts and the pilots are largely a waste of time and money.

The pilot process, in particular, most agreed, needs fixing. Pilots are famously expensive—and misleading. The pilot for Bionic Woman, for example, was received enthusiastically by buyers, but it was much more costly and intricate than a typical episode. It began to fade quickly after its strong premiere.

Mandel says another studio executive once text-messaged him during a network's upfront presentation, telling him, “I figured out why you're the most cynical guy in the business. You must have seen 4,200 pilots that networks said were 'the highest testing pilot of all time.'”

In fact, Mandel says, in the 1970s, buyers at upfronts saw entire episodes. “It was about the show, not the shrimp,” he says. Now, buyers are making decisions on pilots “networks have spent millions on that the buyers haven't even seen beyond a snippet.”

A 'coming-of-age-moment'

Richard Leibner, head of N. S. Bienstock, a firm that represents news personalities, proclaimed in the hallway of the Mandalay Bay convention center a few minutes later, “It was like a thesis about what's wrong with this business. And for Jeff, it was his coming-of-age moment.”

To others, Zucker's speech and other networks' promises to belt-tighten are just a well-spoken empty threat. “I think each network is going to come out of this strike with a different philosophy of what to do,” said one top programmer. “But I do believe at the end of the day it will back to business as usual much quicker than anyone is willing to admit publicly or even to themselves. They buy everything, and they spread themselves out to the point where they can't create success. They're just managing failure.”

One reason network chiefs can't help themselves from returning to high-spending habits is that it's easier to pick a hit from a bigger group of contenders. Like a lottery winner looking for a prize, network chiefs, in effect, buy as many tickets as they can. Only in recent years, with splintering media choices, rising production costs and a more fickle viewing public, has cost-cutting been considered.

Zucker says the strike only served as a “catalyst” for his current thinking. He compared the strike to a forest fire, which he says, has “devastating consequences,” but because it's part of the natural cycle, stimulates new growth. “It would have been a lot better if there had been no strike,” he said carefully, “but maybe what we are going through now is our industry's version of a forest fire...But if we are very lucky, it may very well leave behind fertile soil, clear ground and the opportunity for robust growth.”

There were skeptics who wondered if all Zucker may have been doing was posturing and promising a change in attitude the business can't deliver. In October 2006, NBC and Zucker led a cost-cutting restructuring, “NBCU 2.0,” aimed at reducing costs by $750 million in part by trying to air reality shows and less expensive fare in the first hour of primetime.

“There's an enormous amount of fear in people in those positions,” said one executive. “If you just do the math on how many pitches come in, how many scripts are made, how many pilots are made and how many shows we eventually put on the air and how many of those shows fail, you very quickly realize that the process is about failure, not about success.”

http://www.broadcastingcable.com/ind...leID=CA6528293
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post #14239 of 96479 Old 02-03-2008, 01:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Strike's End Could Heat Up Cable's Summer
Quick Resolution Could Get Original Series Back On Track For Summer Debuts
By Mike Reynolds, Multichannel News, 2/3/2008

Can they close the deal?

There have been a bevy of stories floating in the wake of a Feb. 2 report by The New York Times that informal talks between key officials for the writers and studios on Friday had finally yielded a breakthrough that could lead to the end of the strike that has tarnished Tinseltown for three months.

If , as The New York Times reported, the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers have come to some still unspecified accord over compensation for TV shows streamed on the Internet, then a deal could be struck by the organizations’ boards by week’s end. Ratification by the WGA’s full membership, presumably, would come later.

WGA and AMPTP officials did not respond to attempts to contact them this weekend.

Should peace be at hand in the strike that has kept WGA members off the job since Nov. 5, then ABC’s Feb. 24 Academy Awards telecast, traditionally TV’s second biggest show of the year behind the Super Bowl, should come off without too many hitches.

What it would mean for broadcast dramas and sitcoms that halted production in the wake of strike is another. It’s unclear whether there would be a rush to put together a number of installments to wrap the 2007-08 “season,” such as it. Or would efforts be focused on pilot production in order to pump the pipeline for next fall and beyond?

From cable’s perspective, a resolution to the strike could mean that many of the medium’s original series could return in some fashion this summer. A recent interim agreement by the WGA with Lionsgate was good news for fans of Showtime’s Weeds and AMC’s Mad Men. Indeed, the retro advertising series was scheduled to begin production on its second season -- aimed again at a summer run -- in late February or early March.

A broader accord with the studios over the next week or so should go a long way toward ramping up production schedules, and perhaps getting shows in gear in time for summer. In the case of Lifetime’s big hit, Army Wives and FX’s fireman series Rescue Me, it would be a case of catching up: The former was set to go into production last November, while the Denis Leary-starrer was in line for a January start by Sony Pictures Television.

For TNT and cable’s biggest series hit, The Closer, a resolution with sister company Warner Bros., would leave the Kyra Sedgwick-starrer in fine fettle. One executive familiar with the schedule said production on The Closer would typically begin in April.

If a resolution does come, it will be interesting to see how quickly writing teams can reassemble and pen scripts, and when shooting/production can commence. Broadcast and cable scheduling could prove tricky in the months immediately ahead.

http://www.multichannel.com/index.as...leID=CA6528353
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post #14240 of 96479 Old 02-03-2008, 05:09 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Review
For 'Doctor Who' executive producer,
There's no time like the present
By Alison Pollet, Special to The Los Angeles Times, February 3, 2008

CARDIFF, WALES -- It was a damp and windy afternoon in Cardiff, and Russell T. Davies had a cold. Also, he had been crying. He had just watched the latest cut of a new "Doctor Who" episode, and one scene really moved him. "I'm going to look really stupid," he later admitted to worrying. "But it was so beautiful, I was bloody crying."

Davies has had a long-founded emotional investment in "Doctor Who," Britain's beloved science-fiction series about a mysterious time-traveler and his companions. A veteran TV writer who honed his skills in children's programming and soap operas, Davies grew up watching and adoring "Doctor Who" -- it began airing in 1963, the same year he was born. Characters from his breakout dramatic series, "Queer as Folk" (1999), about gay men living in Manchester, inherited Davies' earnest affections, sometimes using obsessive knowledge of "Doctor Who" to gauge potential partners' romantic compatibility. (This approach does, in one episode, backfire miserably.)

In 2003, the BBC approached Davies to revamp "Doctor Who," and under his leadership, the show's success has ballooned. It survived what could have been a massive blow when after the first season it lost its lead, Christopher Eccleston. He was succeeded by David Tennant, who has since become a high-profile star here; he will play Hamlet for the Royal Shakespeare Company later this year. An audience of 13.31 million watched "The 2007 Doctor Who Christmas Special" (with guest star Kylie Minogue) -- a lot of people for a small country.

Licensed "Doctor Who" merchandise crowds the shelves at Boots and Borders. Eight-year-old boys in gray flannel school uniforms huddle at bus stops furtively trafficking in the show's trading cards. "Doctor Who" appears -- at least to a displaced foreigner -- to be the most visible of Britain's current pop culture commodities. Having been sold to 40 territories worldwide, it is also among its most exportable; in the U.S., it airs on BBC America and the Sci Fi Channel.

Even Davies sometimes finds it overwhelming. "Put the 'Doctor Who' stuff away!" is how he said he sometimes feels. "It's weird, isn't it? You see that logo everywhere." He paused for a moment, and continued. "It's the time of our lives."

When filming, Davies works from a spartan flat overlooking Cardiff Bay and Roald Dahl Plass, the centerpiece of the set for "Torchwood," one of the two "Doctor Who" spinoffs. The second season of "Torchwood," about high-level investigators fighting evil in an alien-infested time rift (also known as present-day Cardiff), had its U.S. premiere on Jan. 26. (BBC America airs "Torchwood" and the third season of "Doctor Who" on Saturday nights.)

There are no writers rooms on the shows. "This country simply couldn't afford that system," Davies said. "We pay people per script, but within that we try to make it collegiate -- as much as one can."

"Doctor Who's" second spinoff is "The Sarah Jane Adventures," a kids show that airs at an earlier time on the BBC and on the kids digital channel, the CBBC. All three shows swap cast members and villains. (" 'Sarah Jane' inherited some of our 'Doctor Who' monsters," Davies said. "We can't afford new prosthetics.")

They also share an increasingly complicated mythology. It falls to Davies "to keep balancing how much continuity there is, how many stand-alone elements there are." Ever mindful of the shows' "mainstream audience" (meaning, not just sci-fi enthusiasts) and put off by "exclusivity" in general, he said he is reticent of creating overly inclusive stories dependent on viewers' in-depth knowledge of ornate histories.

This job is made easier by Davies' policy of ignoring the voices of those most vigilant. "I think we're an unusual science-fiction franchise in taking a very big step back from fandom and having nothing to do with them. . . . Every program on the BBC has a message board on the website. I forbid it to happen on 'Doctor Who.' I'm sorry to say this, all the science fiction producers making stuff in America, they are way too engaged with their fandom. They all need to step back."

Spanning generations


What's striking about the "Doctor Who" franchise is the wide age range it not only speaks to but also seeks out. When Davies embarked on "The Sarah Jane Adventures," about an investigator and her 14-and-younger companions, he sought to tell younger stories without neutering them. There's death and despair, he said, but less violence and more fun. Also, Davies added, with a laugh, "more hugs." (It will be broadcast on the Sci Fi Channel beginning in April.)

The same can be said for "Torchwood," though hugs on that show usually turn to more. If "The Sarah Jane Adventures" is G to "Doctor Who's" PG-13, then "Torchwood" is decidedly R. Which is not to say kids here aren't watching -- and Davies thinks the crossover is to be celebrated. "I won't even engage in it," he said of being confronted by parents offended by the open bisexuality of "Torchwood" leader Capt. Jack Harkness (played by American actor John Barrowman). "I won't apologize for it. I won't even defend it. Because a defense is an apology."

In fact, all the main characters on "Torchwood" -- not just Jack -- experience sexual-orientation as more of a notion than a fixed state and are either too forward-thinking or too busy fighting aliens to mention or even think about it. Ask Davies about infusing politics in his work and he brings up "Bob & Rose," the series he wrote for ITV in 2001 about a gay man who falls in love with a woman. Davies had intended to explore the biases the couple faced but after five pages realized anyone with prejudices was "stupid and wrong," and since their issues didn't merit analysis, he'd sooner "take the piss out of them."

"What was conceived as a very radical and brave bit of political storytelling became, to my surprise, the lightest comedy on Earth. . . . You don't get on a soapbox. There are other ways of telling the story that are subversive." He said it's the best thing he's ever written.

If Davies regrets anything about the first season of "Torchwood," it's how fractured the dynamic among the agents got, he said. "After working on 'Doctor Who' for three years, I think we were desperate to explore adult material," Davies explains. "I think we all interpreted 'adult' as backstabbing, angst, treachery and betrayal." If the second season gets any reboot, Davies said, it's that they'll get along better.

It will help that in the season opener, they bonded in hatred over Capt. John Hart, a time agent who shares a complicated and passionate history with Jack. Much has been made of "Torchwood's" similarity to "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," which gives a seemingly layered significance to the casting of James Marsters, "Buffy's" Spike, in the role of Capt. John. But Davies said the choice was just a happy coincidence. He'd given up on finding a British actor to play the role and had temporarily scrapped the character when out of the blue Marsters' agent got in touch. Still, Sunnydale-starved viewers may have felt that they got a shout-out when Marsters, in a costume half Adam Ant and half Janet Jackson circa "Rhythm Nation," ended his first scene with the line "I'm thirsty." It's a recurring guest spot.

Season 4 of "Doctor Who" airs in the spring here and in the U.S. (on Sci Fi, starting in April). Then 2009 will be what Davies calls a "gap year," with only four one-hour specials. Although the show has been commissioned for a complete season in 2010, he and Tennant are not yet signed on.

"I can't carry on like this forever," Davies said, sniffling -- his cold was acting up. He said that after this, he will likely return to drama about "the epic-ness of ordinary intimate deals of ordinary people's lives," which is what he really loves writing. "The only place for me to go here is back to six-parters or one-offs which won't have the publicity, the merchandise, the budget, the profile." He took a deep breath. "And I'm so looking forward to it."

http://www.calendarlive.com/tv/cl-ca...52,print.story
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post #14241 of 96479 Old 02-03-2008, 05:23 PM
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Saturday night almost four out of every five viewers in the 18-49 demographic were not watching network TV, according to Nielsen.

Saturday's fast affiliate over night prime-time ratings - along with 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.

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...&#post10367387

Nielson is correct, I wasn't watching.

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post #14242 of 96479 Old 02-03-2008, 06:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Cable Nielsen Notes
CNN talkin' big after debate
By Paul J. Gough, The Hollywood Reporter, Feb 4, 2008

Thursday night's Democratic presidential debate in Hollywood delivered blockbuster ratings for CNN. It was the highest-rated primary debate in cable TV history in a season full of records.

More than 8.3 million viewers tuned into the 90-minute debate, Nielsen Media Research said. The debate, held at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland, wasn't the showdown between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama that many thought it would be. But it also was the first time that voters could see Clinton and Obama one-on-one, with former Sen. John Edwards out of the race.

It also was a hot ticket in Hollywood, with stars clamoring for tickets that were mostly handed out by the California Democratic Party, with smaller numbers reserved for sponsors CNN, Politico.com and the Los Angeles Times. Among the stars who attended were Diane Keaton, Leonardo DiCaprio, Rob Reiner and Stevie Wonder.

The debate also had 1.2 million viewers 18-34 and 3 million viewers 18-49. It followed a CNN-sponsored GOP debate Wednesday night at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library that averaged 4 million viewers.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/...34dd4d027ef585
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post #14243 of 96479 Old 02-03-2008, 06:39 PM
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Nielson is correct, I wasn't watching.

Neither was I - not even one second of TV.
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post #14244 of 96479 Old 02-03-2008, 07:17 PM - Thread Starter
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But Nielsen was saying of those watching TV, almost four of five in the 18-49 demo were not watching the networks Saturday during prime time.
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post #14245 of 96479 Old 02-03-2008, 07:19 PM - Thread Starter
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(All of that will change when tonight's numbers come out, and Super Bowl XLII will most likely become the most watched Super Bowl ever.)
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post #14246 of 96479 Old 02-03-2008, 08:06 PM
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Earlier this summer I gave my sister and her boyfriend an HDTV (a 32" Vizio for just under $600) when their CRT TV died, plus an HD-DVD player for Christmas (w/9 free movies for under $200). Tonight my sister just called me to tell me her boyfriend is crying tears of happiness because the Giants won the Super Bowl and he got to see it in HD (her words). Apparently this dude (whom I've only met once) is a big Yankees and Giants fan, and has watched both teams' OTA HD games whenever possible. I didn't know this when I bought my sis an HDTV last summer, but part of me feels real good that some guy in Upstate NY I barely know had a chance to watch his beloved Giants win an improbable Super Bowl title match in glorious HD.
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post #14247 of 96479 Old 02-03-2008, 09:27 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Notes
Leno’s Art of Late-Show Maintenance
By Bill Carter, The New York Times, February 4, 2008

How does he do it?

Jay Leno has no access to his regular team of 19 writers and must rely on a lineup of guests that seems more appropriate to a daytime cable talk show. Yet after a hiatus forced by the Hollywood writers’ strike, he has maintained his customary position atop the ratings in late-night television.

And he’s winning even though his main competitor, David Letterman, was widely thought to have an advantage: a deal with the Writers Guild of America that brought his writers back and allowed him to book A-list Hollywood guests.

Since the late-night shows returned on Jan. 2, “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” on NBC has averaged about 5.2 million viewers while the “Late Show With David Letterman” on CBS has averaged 4.1 million. Last week the disparity was more pronounced, with Mr. Leno pulling in 5 million viewers compared to 3.6 million for Mr. Letterman.

Many of the usual explanations for Mr. Leno’s supremacy still apply. The local news on NBC stations is more popular than the news on CBS stations. In recent weeks NBC’s prime-time schedule, which has faltered in the last few years, has been beating CBS, especially from 10 to 11 p.m. That hour can have the most impact on late-night television.

But with his consistent nightly victories, Mr. Leno has again defied the expectations of detractors, something that has always given him personal satisfaction. Throughout his career he has characterized himself in blue-collar terms, espousing the virtues of hard work and ambition over genius and raw talent. He is also, as many of those who have worked with him attest, among the most competitive performers in television.

The Letterman side says that the advantage of having writers never translated into higher ratings for a simple reason: Mr. Leno is not doing a strike show; he is still doing his regular show. Rick Ludwin, the NBC executive in charge of late-night programs, said, “Jay has delivered the show viewers have come to expect."

Mr. Leno is performing the opening monologue, his show’s centerpiece, just as he always has, firing off joke after joke — 25 last Thursday alone for example. Many of the jokes were based on the Republican debate the night before. Others were more generic. But to most viewers they probably seemed indistinguishable from a monologue Mr. Leno might have given six months, or six years, ago.

That has led to speculation about how he’s doing it. After all, the Writers Guild put out word that no new writing could be done during the strike. Mr. Leno met with the guild leadership before the strike and explained that he intended to perform a monologue he would write himself.

Though he declined to comment for this article, Mr. Leno has said on the air that the guild sanctioned that approach. One of his writers, who was in the meeting with the guild, supported that point in an earlier interview, saying the guild told Mr. Leno it would not “hassle him.”

The guild has since said that Mr. Leno was not given such permission and is in violation of the strike rules. The union threatened Mr. Leno with disciplinary action but has taken none yet. Asked about where such action stands, a spokesman for the guild, Neal Sacharow, said in an e-mail message, “The guild does not respond to internal matters.”

Meanwhile Mr. Leno continues to work. He has tried to use his meager guest list as part of his comedy, joking about “having another animal act.” (There have been five on the show in a month.) If anything, according to close associates of Mr. Leno and even some of his competitors, the strike seems to have had a liberating effect on him.

“He’s looser,” said the producer of another late-night-show, who asked not to be identified because he doesn’t work for NBC. “It seems like more of that stand-up personality that people always liked in him is coming out.”

That might not seem to account for 25 jokes a night, but Mr. Ludwin and others associated with the show say Mr. Leno’s three decades of work as a stand-up comic has been the biggest factor in those monologues.

These associates say that Mr. Leno is pulling jokes from the deep pool of material he has used in his stand-up act, dropping in more generic — or just silly — jokes into his monologues. “Doctors in China have confirmed the existence of a man who was born with three eyes,” went one. “Three eyes! Today LensCrafters said they can make him glasses in about an hour and a half.”

But he has also, the associates said, used his skills as a mechanic — Mr. Leno’s chief non-show-business passion is working on cars and motorcycles — to retool old jokes. One longtime writer said that Mr. Leno was taking lines he used about earlier politicians and refashioning them to involve contemporary figures.

Some of Mr. Leno’s competitors still question how he is able to do this all by himself, night after night, especially while also darting off to stand-up gigs. Last Wednesday he flew to Phoenix for a Super Bowl-related performance after taping the show earlier that day.

But none of these questions, nor the pressure from the guild, nor the absence of his writers, the dependence on guests like Lester Holt of NBC News instead of Tom Cruise, nor anything else for that matter, seem to be distracting Mr. Leno from his chief mission: winning in late night, week after week.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/04/ar...gewanted=print
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post #14248 of 96479 Old 02-03-2008, 09:31 PM
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Earlier this summer I gave my sister and her boyfriend an HDTV (a 32" Vizio for just under $600) when their CRT TV died, plus an HD-DVD player for Christmas (w/9 free movies for under $200). Tonight my sister just called me to tell me her boyfriend is crying tears of happiness because the Giants won the Super Bowl and he got to see it in HD (her words). Apparently this dude (whom I've only met once) is a big Yankees and Giants fan, and has watched both teams' OTA HD games whenever possible. I didn't know this when I bought my sis an HDTV last summer, but part of me feels real good that some guy in Upstate NY I barely know had a chance to watch his beloved Giants win an improbable Super Bowl title match in glorious HD.

thats cool i own the 32 inch vizio its a great tv

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post #14249 of 96479 Old 02-03-2008, 09:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Super Bowl Notes
Take the Game, Leave the Idol
By Richard Sandomir, The New York Times, February 4, 2008

By the time Eli Manning kneeled down on the final play of the Giants’ 17-14 Super Bowl win Sunday night, the memory of Ryan Seacrest in the pregame show was nearly gone. His most welcome words: “Seacrest out,” or something like that, as the “American Idol” host bid adieu.

No network can get a multihour pregame show right, and Fox didn’t, thanks to turning it into an “American Idol” promotion with Seacrest as a co-host at the red carpet and Paula Abdul in a taped performance.

But Fox did the game very well. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman have never been better in doing what they should do. Buck set up the action, offered some storytelling and made sharp calls.

You want your play-by-play announcer to be alert enough to note quickly that Manning’s interception by Ellis Hobbs was his first since he threw one to Hobbs in the Giants’ 38-35 loss to the Patriots in Week 17.

You want your No. 1 announcer to be see that the Giants’ Chase Blackburn might not have avoided being the 12th man on the field, resulting in a penalty.

Aikman provided intelligent commentary that focused on several distinct areas, including: the Giants’ blitzing and how the defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo did not mind leaving Randy Moss in one-on-one coverage; the rhythm that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady almost never found; pass-pattern dissection; and how Patriots receiver Wes Welker was almost magically able to find the soft spots in the Giants’ secondary.



Analysts often get lucky when something happens soon after they predict it. With the Patriots ahead, 14-10, with 2 minutes 42 seconds left, Aikman said, “When you look at what Eli has done in these situations, I think he really tends to shine in the no-huddle.”

With 45 seconds left, and the Giants facing a third-and-11 at the New England 25-yard line, Aikman suggested that Manning throw a screen pass to Brandon Jacobs. The toss to Steve Smith looked like close kin to a screen, and went for 12 yards.

Manning’s career-defining play — a Fran Tarkenton-like escape from what appeared to be a sack, with 1:15 left, that ended with David Tyree’s astonishing catch — was called this way by Buck: “Third down and 5. Pressure from Thomas off the edge. Eli Manning stays on his feet; airs it out, down the field, and it is” — pause — “caught by Tyree, inside the 25.”

I’ve read e-mail messages and blog comments that have lately painted Buck as a pale clone of his father, Jack; for somehow being sanctimonious; and for offering little insight. I’ve never understood them beyond viewers’ feeling that Buck is overexposed through his baseball and football work; through his commercials (not all of them well-chosen vehicles); and because of residual good will for the man he replaced at Fox, Pat Summerall.

But no negative qualities were in evidence Sunday night.

The star of the game was not either announcer, however, but the FoxScope, the super-slow-motion technology that elevated the use of replay beyond the necessary tool it has been for several decades. It illuminated how Brady’s sore ankle planted before passing, a sideline pass to Amani Toomer, the fumble by Ahmad Bradshaw, a fumble forced from Brady’s hand by Justin Tuck, and how Tyree held the ball against his helmet on his miraculous catch.

Somehow, though, it seemed that the primary 50-yard line camera was mounted higher than it should have been. A Fox spokesman said it was in its usual spot at University of Phoenix Stadium, but it seemed higher than at other stadiums and kept the players at a greater distance than they should have been.

Fox showed the right storytelling touch as the game crescendoed and the Giants went ahead for good. With 10 seconds left and the Patriots facing fourth down and the loss of their unbeaten season, Fox rolled in a taped package about the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins, gleeful once again. Fox then cut to Brady conferring with Coach Bill Belichick, grumpier throughout the fourth quarter than Barry Switzer, one of Fox’ s grumpy old men, ever was.



But Giants Coach Tom Coughlin looked Lucky Charms-happy. During one of the pregame features, he said something fascinating: That he understood interpersonal relationships even when his face seemed as if it would explode with anger, but that this season he decided to apply that knowledge of human behavior to the humans on his team.

One final thought, regarding the presence of Seacrest and his “American Idol” crew. Seacrest is bland, much like Carson Daly, who did nothing for a CBS pre-game show several years ago. Seacrest offered little on a program filled with greater personalities, like Terry Bradshaw, Jimmy Johnson and Howie Long, and football features that in nearly every instance were shorter than they should have been. The so-called merger of celebrity and sports is a fantasy of networks like Fox and ESPN (witness the ESPYs show); yes, sports is entertainment, but on Super Bowl Sunday, football and some good musical performances can carry the pregame festivities.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/04/sp...gewanted=print
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post #14250 of 96479 Old 02-03-2008, 10:28 PM - Thread Starter
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WGA Strike Notes
WGA Tells Members Deal Not Done Despite Rumors
Sources say deal nearing despite media blackout
Ben Grossman, Broadcasting & Cable, 2/3/2008

WGA leadership sent a letter to members Sunday saying that a deal was not yet done and that picketing will continue for the time being in response to the swirling rumors over the weekend that an end to the writers strike was near.

“The facts: we are still in talks and do not yet have a contract,” wrote WGA presidents Patric Verrone and Michael Winship in the joint letter. “When and if a tentative agreement is reached, the first thing we will do is alert our membership with an e-mail message. Until then, please disregard rumors about either the existence of an agreement or its terms.”

The letter also called for picketing to continue.

“Until we have reached an agreement with the AMPTP, it is essential that we continue to show our resolve, solidarity, and strength. Picketing will resume on Monday. Our leverage at the bargaining table is directly affected by your commitment to our cause. Please continue to show your support on the line.”

The letter comes on the heels of a weekend rife with rumors and reports that the three-month-old strike could end as soon as this week. Multiple sources said over the weekend that the sides are nearing a deal, though no one would speak on the record due to the media blackout imposed by both sides.

However, a similar round of speculation was bandied around the NATPE convention by prominent executives early last week as well.

The date of February 15 had been bandied about by industry insiders for weeks as an expected end to the strike, which would give the February 24 Academy Awards plenty of time to go off as usual and the networks could begin working on fall schedules and plans for selling in the upfront season.

Reports said this weekend that the sides have finally begun to bridge the gap over issues such as electronic sell through and streaming of video over the Internet.

The Writers Guild of America has been on strike since November 5, 2007.

http://www.broadcastingcable.com/ind...leID=CA6528366
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