or Connect
AVS › AVS Forum › HDTV › HDTV Programming › Hot Off The Press: The Latest TV News and Information
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Hot Off The Press: The Latest TV News and Information - Page 114

post #3391 of 93671

I was wondering if my votes counted since I did not see the show Help Me Help You on the list. My votes are listed HERE.

If my votes were not counted, do not worry about it, I was just wondering.


PS - Keep up the wonderful work on this thread Fred, I look forward to reading this thread every weekday (it would be everyday, but I lack the internet at my home for now.)

Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

The 2006-2007 Season
Your Votes Counted
Lost and House" tie at the top

At the other end of the results, five shows got a single third place vote: "20/20", "The Knights of Prosperity", "Nanny 911", "Super Nanny" and "Wicked, Wicked Games".

Altogether, 68 different prime time programs received a mention on the 736 ballots cast.
post #3392 of 93671
Thread Starter 
My mistake, Rico. It was one of the shows that received one third place vote, and when I copied things over a few times, it managed to get lost, so I will go fix the orginial chart.

Thanks for catching my error.
post #3393 of 93671
Originally Posted by RemyM View Post

Waste of time by guys that have more money then they know what to do with. It has no chance to survive...

Yes, probably. But the merchandise will be greatly discounted after it ends. I picked up an XFL ball for $5 after it disbanded. Nice if your interested in that sort of thing.
post #3394 of 93671
Thread Starter 
Washington Notebook
Court rules against FCC policy
Approach called 'capricious'
By William Triplett Variety June 4, 2007

Broadcasters marked a key victory as a federal court tossed out a pair of landmark indecency rulings against Fox Television, labeling both "arbitrary and capricious" and sending them back to the Federal Communications Commission.

The U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday issued an opinion agreeing with Fox and others' contention that the 2006 rulings represented a complete departure from previous FCC practice and was done without legal justification.

The two rulings involved separate Fox live broadcasts of the 2002 and 2003 Billboard Music Awards. In the first, singer Cher said of her critics, "**** 'em," and in the second, TV personality Nicole Richie said, "Have you ever tried to get **** out of a Prada purse? It's not so ****ing simple."

Previously, the FCC did not cite networks for fleeting expletives during live broadcasts. That changed in 2004 after the FCC considered another case, in which it said certain words were indecent and actionable in any context.

Fox, CBS, NBC and Hearst-Argyle Television challenged the legal basis for the change, arguing that it was not properly codified or justified.

Concurring with that argument, the appeals court ruling means the FCC will have to try offering a legally sound basis for changing its practice on fleeting expletives. In the meantime, the FCC is barred from issuing any similar indecency violations.

In their challenge, the networks also raised questions about the constitutional validity of the overall FCC indecency regime. But the court focused only on the principle complaint and therefore did not have to address those larger questions.

post #3395 of 93671
Thread Starter 
The Business of Television
Cable Versus Broadcast:
Where's The Playing Field?
by Wayne Friedman in his Media Watch column at MediaPost June 4th, 2007

Fresh, high-rated summer cable programming is at it again this time with a limited series from USA Network called The Starter Wife with Debra Messing.

The two-hour premiere pulled in 5.4 million total viewers, which beat USA sister network NBC's entire Thursday night line of reruns My Name is Earl, 30 Rock, The Office, Scrubs, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip - along with an ABC Grey's Anatomy rerun, and CW reruns of Smallville and Supernatural.

Of the 15 English-language shows aired on network television on Thursday night, Starter came in seventh place not bad considering it competes with the mostly higher-brand-awareness network programs.

Daily Variety says USA had a $20 million marketing campaign for the show which seems a bit misleading. USA did not pay $20 million in media time for the show. A lot went on using the network's own airwaves. A heavy outdoor campaign, and no doubt, some radio, were major paid pieces of the effort. By way of comparison, any broadcast network may spend perhaps $5 million to $10 million to launch one show.

In 2007, even with the maturity of cable, and the rise of other digital TV competitors, we are still told, not so delicately, that this is just a cable show - meaning, we should never expect the performance of a network show.

Surely, if a broadcast network show had launched in the summer and debuted in seventh place virtually in the middle of the pack it would never have been called a success, and would be sent packing.

By USA Network's criteria, however, it was a success, performing better in 25-54 and 18-49 demos than any other original episodes on ad-supported cable networks this year.

Cable networks can always excel in the summer, but it's only in the last few years that broadcast networks have found summer gold like Dancing With the Stars. A little further back, you could point to American Idol and Survivor.

The question is, how long can even cable keep this up? Long-established cable networks seemingly have fewer and fewer opportunities to gain ground on broadcast networks, as alternative digital TV platforms such as the Internet take hold.

Better still, one wonders if cable will get into the broadcasters' unique position of increasing efforts for decreasing results spending more marketing dollars, only to get lower ratings.

Networks can make that formula work, because of the still increasing desire of marketers to spend more on broadcast TV. But is the same true for cable, with its seemingly unlimited amounts of advertising inventory? When will there be a level playing field?

post #3396 of 93671
Thread Starter 
Critic's Notebook
Mr. Television:
On The Road
By Marc Berman MediaWeek.com in his Mr. Television column June 4, 2007

One of the benefits of doing an occasional out-of-town presentation about television is getting the chance to hear what members of the industry are thinking. Recently, I traveled to Scottsdale, Ariz., to speak to more than 200 members of the Phoenix Advertising Club.

In my talk with this group of advertisers, local station executives and other members of the community, I went over the upcoming fall 2007 prime-time network schedule. I predicted the potential new hits (ABC's Big Shots and a rejuvenated The CW) and identified the weaknesses (a lack of new comedies, too many relationship dramas on ABC, too many sci-fi dramas on NBC, CBS' bizarre Viva Laughlin, an overall glut of nerdy characters).

As I went through each network and each night, I handicapped the potential winners and losers, predicting that probably about two-thirds of the new shows would not succeed. While I tried to blame that on my negative New York mentality, I also told the audience that nothing new really looks that extraordinary.

"Unfortunately, I don't think we will see the next Desperate Housewives, Lost or Heroes," I explained. "But if the networks are patient and give a number of these new shows a chance to find an audience, we might find a few new modest hits in the caliber of ABC's Ugly Betty or Brothers & Sisters."

The questions, once they started, came fast and furious, and focused on many of the same issues I've been addressing this past year. Where are all the new comedies? Why won't the networks program Saturday? Will DVR usage help or hurt the networks? Is 24 down year-to-year? Why doesn't NBC put Medium back on Monday? Will The Search for the Great American Band on Fox dilute American Idol? What canceled new show from this season do you think really deserved to find success?

The biggest reaction I got from the audience was when I criticized the new ABC sitcom Cavemen. "Well, Alf worked, didn't it?" barked one woman. "I thought you should know that the next time you say something bad about Cavemen."

"Yes, I know," I said, deciding to put my Rainman-like knowledge of TV to use. "Alf aired from 1986 to 1990. It anchored NBC's Monday lineup. It led into Steven Spielberg anthology Amazing Stories in season one, and The Hogan Family (a.k.a. Valerie and Valerie's Family) for the remainder of its run. It cracked the top 10 in season two. And the character of Alf returned on the most recent remake of The Hollywood Squares and in a talk show on TV Land. Unfortunately, Cavemen is not Alf."

I could have gone on, telling her that a 30-second commercial featuring the cavemen is clever, but I don't think it can succeed as an ongoing series. Alf was not Shakespeare, but the idea was at least original.

What I did tell the audiencesomething always worth repeatingis my take on the art of programming a network:

Find the shows you believe in. Remember that viewers feel comfortable with characters they can relate to or admire, and they like to see justice being served. Avoid unnecessary gimmicks. Creativity is good, but familiarity goes a long way. Look for the most advantageous time periods. Promote the shows. Give the audience a chance to find them. Do not overexpose something that is working. Exhibit patience. Never stop trying to look for the next best thing. Don't forget that older viewers often have money to spend; don't ignore them. And don't get the viewer angry: If you do, it will haunt you in the long run.

Later, as I rushed to the airport after the presentation, I expected to have some down time on the plane back to New York. But when the very nice woman sitting next to me asked me what I did for a living, I made the mistake of telling her I write a column about TV. "Why was Judging Amy canceled a few years ago?," she asked. "What happened to 3 Lbs.? How long do you think American Idol will last? Why is there so much of this reality garbage?"

And I should have also crossed my fingers and told a fib to the driver who took me home from the airport, who I now know loves CSI, Cold Case and Without a Trace, but is tired of Law & Order. And he just can't understand why there are so few comedies.

Sometimes I wonder if anyone cares what the next Heroes is, or whether Law & Order should be renewed. Then I go on the road, and find out just how many people are paying attention. It always amazes me.

post #3397 of 93671
Thread Starter 
Ask Matt
Grey's Anatomy, Brothers & Sisters, Heroes and More
By Matt Roush TV Guide. Senior Critic Monday, June 4, 2007

Question: After watching the recent Grey's Anatomy finale, I was reminded of two of my other favorite shows: The West Wing and The O.C. These two shows started to become much darker and less comedic a few seasons in and never really recovered in the ratings. Grey's seems to be headed down the same road. Is there any hope for a turnaround, and do you think the more serious and irritating story lines could spell trouble for the show? Jeff

Matt Roush: I've been fielding lots of questions like this. Thankfully, Lisa "a Grey's Anatomy fan since I watched reruns of the first season while studying for the bar" reminded me of the greyswriters.com blog, written by Grey's writers and producers, including Shonda Rhimes. As Lisa notes, "Shonda said that this whole season was designed to break everything down in order to build it back up, which I thought explained why this season was so much darker and not funny. (I've noticed that it is now referred to as a 'rom-dram' rather than a dramedy.) I think the introduction of the new interns and the 'rebuilding' next season may bring back the show we all know and love. Do you think this changes anything? How do you feel about the new crop of interns?"

To quote Shonda specifically from her blog: "Next season is all about the fun and the pain and the new beginnings." I'll keep an open mind as the show resets its characters, but personally, I'd rather see more fun than pain. And isn't her company already going to have enough "new beginnings" to keep themselves busy, as they launch the Private Practice spin-off, which looked none too promising during that "backdoor pilot" in early May? For now, I'm hopeful but skeptical that the Grey's writers can get things back on course next season and remind us why we loved this show in the first place.

Question: I was so happy to see that you addressed the Grey's Anatomy and Brothers & Sisters finales back-to-back, since I was going to write in and ask for your thoughts on both of them anyway. For me, Brothers & Sisters replaced Grey's Anatomy as the go-to soapy drama of the season this year, and their finales signify why. B&S has always bordered on somber, and the finale was no exception (Justin's departure, Julia's grief over her baby's death). Yet it still allowed its characters moments of hope (Holly and Sarah making inroads; Holly, Rebecca and Robert jumping into the family pool). Meanwhile, Grey's was a cliff-hangers-for-the-sake-of-cliff-hangers fest. Derek and McWhiney are breaking up again! George failed! Burke disappeared! The Chief actually wants to be chief! There's a long-lost second (or third if you count the mother) Grey doctor (does this mean they can kill off Meredith?)! Plus, I think the saddest part of all is the fact that Shonda Rhimes has rightfully been taken to task for failing to speak out about the homophobic controversy plaguing her cast, and then she proceeded to allow her writers to mine said controversy by leaving the fates of both Isaiah Washington and T.R. Knight in limbo. I think the actors and the fans deserve better. D.J.

Matt Roush: As I said, the Grey's finale left lots of fans in a pretty unforgiving mood. Hard for me to be compelled to shake them from this discontent right now. But I couldn't agree more that Brothers & Sisters more than filled the void. A year ago, Grey's was the show I spent all Sunday night looking forward to. This season, B&S became that show. Both were infinitely more entertaining than the slow road to nowhere that is Desperate Housewives.

Question: In a recent column, you said of Brothers & Sisters: "It may not be a great or particularly important show (except maybe in its matter-of-fact treatment of gay characters and issues), but it is often delightful and moving, and very well written and acted." I don't understand. It's delightful, moving, very well written and acted, but... it's not a "great" show? You've been praising this show quite frequently since at least February, but it's not great or important? What about Grey's Anatomy makes it an "important" show? I'm not seeing it. I've admired your taste and trusted your judgment for years now, so, if you would, please explain. Erin

Matt Roush: Would you accept human error as an explanation? End-of-May exhaustion as an excuse? When I screw up, there's not much else I can say except "sorry." I should never have included that qualifying and patronizing phrase in my discussion of Brothers. The more I think about it, I do think it's a "great" piece of entertainment, in part because I don't think it's self-important, despite the fact that it deals with issues of war, politics and sexuality with a frankness few other shows even attempt. What was I thinking?

I think the point I may have been getting at is that, because the show doesn't take itself particularly seriously (despite some of its truly wrenching drama), it may not be taken seriously at awards time. It doesn't have the weight of The Sopranos or The Wire, the fabulous novelty of Lost or Heroes, or the aching realism of Friday Night Lights. There may not have been room for it on our Dream Emmy Ballot, but that's no reason for me or anyone else to sell it short.

Question: One of the things I liked best about Grey's Anatomy last year were the friendships. I liked the George-Burke friendship as well as those between Meredith and Cristina and between Izzie and George. I loved the fact that Meredith, Cristina and Izzie treated George like "one of the girls." It made his crush on Meredith more poignant and was also just plain fun to watch. The Washington-Knight feud effectively ruined the George-Burke friendship, since the two characters didn't share many scenes following the ruckus. And now the Izzie-George friendship has been squashed in favor of an out-of-the-blue romance. George's marriage was clearly a knee-jerk reaction to his father's death, and there is drama in George's best friend not liking his wife and believing he made a huge mistake.

But Izzie and George's drunken one-night stand did not endear me to either character. Callie married George in good faith and doesn't deserve to be treated with such disrespect. Plus, the way it was structured, I don't believe Izzie loves George I just see her using sex as a manipulation because she doesn't want Callie to have her best friend. I think I could have liked a George-Izzie romance if it had happened naturally a few years down the road. But the timing and structure not only screws up the romance, it totally ruins the friendship. Do you hate it as much as I do? Karen L.

Matt Roush: I didn't mind the one-night stand. That's in keeping with this show's history of letting its characters make, and usually learn from, mortifying mistakes. But to have it blossom into this awkward, unplayable triangle has, I think, been a mistake in large part because it does damage the underlying friendship in a way that will be hard, maybe impossible, to repair. And as Karen says, friendship is one of the foundations of this series. So while I've mostly resisted bashing the show for the way this subplot has developed, I hope they resolve it sooner than later in the season ahead. I'm not a fan.

Question: I know it's been only a couple of weeks, but you never gave us your reaction to the season finale of The Office. I thought it was a great episode, and I was relieved that Jan wasn't pregnant. I also loved the understated way they dealt with Jim and Pam. Jenna Fischer's beautiful performance when Jim asked Pam to dinner said everything we needed. I also think that giving Ryan the job at corporate sets up some great stuff for next season. What did you think? Suz

Matt Roush: I agree. Lots of cool stuff going on, including Jan's meltdown (kudos to Melora Hardin), Ryan getting out of Scranton and from under Kelly's clutches, and especially where they left Jim and Pam. For those who wanted a little bit of uplift in their season cliff-hangers, this was a real treat.

Question: I was puzzled by your enthusiastic review of the Heroes season finale. You seemed to enjoy it. It did have its share of excellent moments and reveals, but the final showdown between Peter and Sylar, was... well, really lame. It was the least exciting fight in TV history. With all the powers each character had accumulated over the course of the season, that fight should have been absolutely thrilling, with both characters showing off different abilities left and right as they tried to kill each other. Instead we got a Darth Vader death choke and the two of them punching each other. Buffy, Angel and Alias each managed to have an epic, exciting finale pretty much every season, and none of those shows (though all superior in quality) had the ratings or the money that Heroes does. I still love the show, but I hope this isn't going to be a habit, where the creators drop the ball and get lazy come May. Chris

Matt Roush: Would you accept end-of-May exhaustion as an excuse? (Oops, sorry. Already tried that one.) Honestly, while watching Heroes' finale the same night as the pathetic finish of 24 (which I watched first), I may have overpraised this one a bit out of delight that I was actually engaged in the show. And there's no question that the Lost finale blew it out of the water later in the week. I think I was more engaged in the characters than I was in the spectacle, and having Nathan fly in and sweep Peter away was so completely unexpected and, yes, heroic that I didn't mind the fact that this wasn't the biggest action sequence ever. You can get that crap at the movies. Besides, Heroes isn't about superheroes who know how to use their powers effectively. The fact that it came down to hand-to-hand combat with a bit of swordplay almost seemed fitting to me. But I know that for many it was a letdown, and I'll bet you that Heroes never makes that same mistake again. Before I drop this topic, I've got to say that I get a little depressed every time I go out on a limb and shower some love on a show, and then get hammered for it in the Dispatch comments or in this forum. Must everything be so negative?

Question: As always, you remain the most thoughtful and engaging critic out there, and I look forward to your columns, even when I don't wholly agree with you (which isn't very often). Anyway, I've become a huge fan of Heroes, and was jumping for joy as I observed your increasing enjoyment for the show as the season went on. I just read your answer to Santos' question about the show's Emmy chances, and I was quite surprised to see no mention of Hayden Panettiere. Masi Oka is a shoo-in, I'd imagine, and Jack Coleman certainly should be, but Panettiere's nuanced, sensitive, believable portrayal of Claire is an accomplishment that many adult actors should envy. I imagine that if she is overlooked, it will be because of her age, since Emmy tends to ignore younger actors (unlike Oscar). But shouldn't her name certainly be in the mix when the show's Emmy outlook is discussed? Claire was, after all, the show's major icon (even more so than Hiro, I would say), and she was the only actor who appeared in every episode this season. Kelly

Matt Roush: A fair point, and she certainly did have her share of turmoil over the season. Maybe it's a matter of personal taste here, but I just didn't see enough range in her performance, despite all the curves she was thrown, to merit an Emmy bid. She was fine, but not Buffy fine. (And if Sarah Michelle Gellar could go all those years without Emmy notice, I can't help but think this cheerleader is destined for a similar fate.) Realistically, though, her age probably will work against her, as will the genre in which she works. Which is unquestionably unfair.

Question: By the end of this season, I found Jericho to be one of the best shows on television. I believe the reason it didn't gain a big enough audience throughout the season is the same reason Invasion failed as well: Both shows started out with a great and original premise, but they started out far too slowly. For the first half of the season, they failed to unfold the story line at a pace that kept viewers interested. This obviously resulted in a loss of viewers. I feel both shows picked up and really hit their stride during the second half of their opening season and both morphed into one of the best new shows for their respective seasons. All too late. It seems understandable that a new show needs time to find its way. You were fairly negative to Heroes at the start but have come around to see it for what it is: fantastic. The networks seem to have no patience to let a show grow. It's a shame because we miss out on some potentially fantastic second seasons. On a side note, a couple of weeks ago you said that Heroes doesn't compare to Lost in terms of character development. I agree, but I feel that's unfair because Lost has had three seasons to develop its characters. I consider it apples and oranges. For pure entertainment value, I pick Heroes, with Lost a close second. Martin E.

Matt Roush: We'll have to agree to disagree on that last point. By the end of Lost's first season, we were immersed in the characters already. From the get-go it reached deeper than the flashier comic-book theatrics of Heroes (although I am intrigued by where they'll take this "origins" concept next season). But you make an excellent point about how some of TV's more ambitious high-concept shows often need time to find their voice and rhythm. That was absolutely the case with Invasion, which started off too murky and slow for many people but ended on a run of riveting, thrilling episodes. It's a shame too few were around to witness it. Jericho likewise improved along the way, and I still find it puzzling that a network so desperate for buzz would nip this one in the bud just as it was starting to get interesting.

Question: I can understand your frustration with Buffy/Angel/Whedon fans who seem determined not to give CBS' Moonlight a chance. But on the surface of things, the show does sound derivative. (Remember Forever Knight as well!) In selling any new show, a network has to have a hook, something to set it off from other shows, and Moonlight at present has no hook. I have to confess that my own interest is minimal and will continue to be so until I hear something really good about it. Contrast this with NBC's Bionic Woman. The more I hear about this show the people David Eick has hired to run the show, the writers who are joining the staff, the casting of various roles the more excited I have become. You mentioned that some in the industry are calling for a recasting of Moonlight, and I couldn't agree more. I might check out a new vampire show with a male lead, but I would definitely check out a show about a vampire detective if the lead were female. Suddenly the show would acquire a hook that it currently lacks. One reason you shouldn't get down on Whedon fans who aren't excited about Moonlight is that a lot of us were never really interested in seeing a show about vampires. I became a huge fan of Buffy and Angel despite the fact they were about vampires, not because of it. We were drawn to the genius of Whedon's vision. Heck, I'd watch anything he did, regardless of subject matter. I'm loving his current work in comics, but I really wish he'd get back to what he does best. Robert

Matt Roush: All I'm saying (and can I just say how reluctantly I'm wading back into these waters?) is that people with a taste for out-of-the-ordinary TV should keep an open mind unless given a reason not to. And to be clear, Moonlight's recasting did not involve the male lead, who to my knowledge is still Alex O'Loughlin (currently on The Shield). Finally, it's specious to think Buffy and Angel acquired its following just because there were vampires and demons in the regular cast of characters, and that we should get excited (or not) any time a vampire shows up on TV. Supernatural or not, it's all about character and how a writer uses the conventions of any genre to illuminate themes about life, love, destiny, coming-of-age, redemption, you name it. What I saw was a knee-jerk reaction to the very thought of a show that ventured into this territory, and that's just wrong.

Question: With the sudden downturn in quality for 24, as well as the fair-weather audience erosion experienced by Lost despite its creative rebound and the wild-card status of Heroes and some high-profile nonstarters (such as The Nine and Studio 60), do you think this year offers a better-than-usual opportunity for giving Emmy recognition to other dramas whose quality is widely acknowledged but conventional wisdom says would never make the cut? I'd like to think that after Grey's Anatomy and The Sopranos get their presumptive (and mostly deserved) nominations, there will be enough sense among voters to throw a bone to The Wire, Friday Night Lights or The Shield, which any objective and reasonable person would count among TV's current best dramas. However, popularity seems to get more weight than objective quality when it comes to handing out nominations, and I'd hate to think that Criminal Minds stands a better chance of making the cut than any of the others I mentioned. (After all, it was given the post-Super Bowl slot, so it must be good... ahem.) Is there any chance of intelligence playing a role in the nominations process, particularly this year? Randy F.

Matt Roush: That's a question we won't know the answer to until July, isn't it? You don't have to worry about Criminal Minds, though. Not even the good procedurals tend to make the cut these days. It's like they're invisible, and are way too easy to take for granted. Personally, as long as 24 (last year's winner) isn't on the list and Friday Night Lights makes the cut, I'll be OK with the rest, although ignoring The Wire again would be a crying shame. I'd go for it even over The Sopranos, but that'll never happen. As you may be aware, TV Guide's recently published Dream Emmy Ballot includes Friday Night Lights, Heroes, Lost, The Shield and The Wire. My current prediction as to what the actual list will look like is closer to this: The Sopranos, Grey's Anatomy, Friday Night Lights, House, and either Lost or Heroes. This, of course, is subject to constant change and revision up to the announcement in July. Handicapping the Emmys is the biggest crapshoot (and I kind of mean that literally) of any given year.

post #3398 of 93671
Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

Washington Notebook
Court rules against FCC policy
Approach called 'capricious'

... In the meantime, the FCC is barred from issuing any similar indecency violations...

Wow, now's the time for everyone on network tv to start dropping the f-bombs...
post #3399 of 93671
Thread Starter 
Critic's Notebook
Sopranos Watch:
Runaway Train
By James Poniewozik Time Magazine television critic in Time's Tuned In blog June 4, 2007

So, it turns out that everyone predicting a high body count was right. Last night's episode, The Blue Comet, was not only plot-packed--it was a rare Sopranos episode that seemed like, if anything, it was moving too fast--but dense with character and beautifully made.

Bobby's murder in the toy-train store, complete with the train's eye view as Baccala's doom came hurtling down the tracks at him, will go down as one of the most memorable Sopranos visuals ever. And the replay of Bobby's words as Tony lay himself down with a machine gun in his hideout--going to the mattress if not the mattresses--was haunting. "You probably don't even hear it when it happens." Poor Bobby heard that one all right. (Ultimately, though, you've got to feel worse for his kids. First their mother in a car accident, now this--and suddenly their only earthly parent is Janice freakin' Soprano.)

The Sopranos could have survived the loss of Bobby, but with Sil down--comatose, we hear, and not likely to recover--this must be the end for Tony, even if he survives, and even if he wins the war. Sil, Tony's consigliere, was Tony's brain, his better, cooler-headed self; he saved Tony from far too many bad decisions, and that will cost Tony far more than any loss of muscle.

And yet despite the loss of favorite characters and actors--salut, Miami Steve--was there anything in the episode as brutal as Dr. Melfi's firing of her longtime patient? Melfi's scolding of Tony was long overdue, but the episode's writers (David Chase and Matthew Weiner) didn't let her claim too much moral high ground. If everything she said about Tony was right, what she didn't say about herself was conspicuous: that she was really letting Tony go because she was professionally and personally shamed by Elliot Kupferberg, her own therapist. Like anyone else on The Sopranos, Melfi is not above vanity and self-deception. But there are moral lapses and there are moral lapses, and Tony's attempt to draw equivalence got the biggest laugh of the night: "I gotta be honest. I think as a doctor, what you're doing is immoral!"

In all, The Blue Comet was masterful at playing out the tension between wanting to see Tony destroyed and wanting him to be victorious. It has never been plainer that he deserves whatever he's got coming to him. (For instance, coldly consigning Uncle Junior to a state mental facility rather than pony up for his care. Yes Jun shot him, but Tony's always been able to sentimentally reattach to his uncle--as long as it didn't cost him a nickel.) And yet who wants him taken down by Phil Leotardo? Paulie's right: there's no bigger c__________ than Phil, and he's managed to become an even less sympathetic boss than Tony, rigid, resentful, cruel, petty and utterly joyless.

Yes, you could say many of the same things about Tony, but Tony is a philosopher compared with the emotionally stunted Phil, twisted by his anger, his stingy religious morality and his warped, childish sense of honor. His ultimate reason for the decapitation attack against the Sopranos: "They make anybody and everybody over there. And the way that they do it is all f___ed up. The guys don't get their finger pricked, there's no sword and gun on the table." This is how you run a Mafia family? It sounds like how a third-grader runs a clubhouse.

Lastly, there's A.J. Is there yet more to be played out in the terrorism angle? Tony's aid to the FBI obviously delivered his tipoff last night, but we saw further signs of A.J.'s deepening obsession with WMDs and IEDs, as his lady friend read him an Internet report about a purported nuclear plot by al Qaeda. I don't expect A.J. to suddenly become a jihadi in the season finale, but it seems as though David Chase, in his dark-inflected way, is making a few comments on how terrorism is perceived and used in post-9/11 society. On the one hand, it's a useful device to pursue ulterior power interests (as when Tony passes on information to earn credit with the Feds); on the other, it can be distracting to the point of danger and mental illness (as with A.J., so depressed and fixated on hypothetical doom that he can't motivate himself to flee a very real threat).

If I continue to have one problem with these final episodes, it's that I'm unconvinced what has changed to force all these events right now. David Chase has said that he decided to stop the series because it had reached its endpoint, but from what's going on, I'm not sure why the series couldn't have ended two seasons ago, or, for that matter, continue for two seasons more. Every situation that has been forced to crisis has been going on for years: the conflict with New York, Tony's strained relationship with Melfi, A.J.'s downward spiral. Maybe it took Phil taking control of the family to finally get the war started, but does that mean that Johnny Sack's good health was the only thing that kept the series from ending in 2004?

These last few episodes have been so good, though, that I can live with that quibble. Maybe the point is that life is like this: you go through a repeating cycle of habits and mistakes, and every time you survive one of those cycles, you mistakenly believe the pattern will go on forever. Then one year, for no particularly good reason, you run out of luck.

One way or another, it ends next Sunday. What are you betting on: bang or whimper?

post #3400 of 93671
Thread Starter 
Critic's Notebook
He's lucky to be out of 'The Loop'
By Alan Sepinwall Newark Star-Ledger Monday, June 04, 2007

The next time someone at Fox complains about my annual mockery of the net work's unreliable new schedule announcement, I'm going to say, "Then what about 'The Loop'?"

A year ago, the three-tiered schedule for the 2006-07 season that Fox announced had "The Loop," a comedy about a young guy named Sam trying to balance his ambitious career with an age- appropriate level of partying, re turning in the spring and airing after the "American Idol" results show. But when spring and the results show came, it was " 'Til Death" that got the plum timeslot. "The Loop," meanwhile, got consigned to Summer Burn-Off Theatre status, and star Bret Harrison moved on to "Reaper," a new show on the CW's fall schedule. So much for schedul ing.

And even the summer schedule has been written in crayon. The show was set to come back this coming Sunday, then got pushed up to tomorrow night, and then, shortly before this column went to press, got pushed back to Sunday at 8:30 and 9:30 again. (If you care, you may just want to record all of Fox primetime for the next week just to make sure you don't miss it.)

I was a fan of "The Loop" in its first season, for Harrison's frantic performance, for the use of a musical soundtrack in place of a laugh track (death to laugh tracks!) and for Philip Baker Hall's vicious performance as Sam's boss. Mostly, though, I was a bit in awe of the kind of material the writers were able to sneak past the censors.

One episode led up to one of Sam's female roommates having to sexually gratify him to allow him to attend a business meet ing. Another contrived to make Mimi Rogers (as Hall's walking sexual harassment suit of a lieutenant) get familiar with the business end of a dog. FX's "It's Al ways Sunny in Philadelphia" wishes it were as filthy as "The Loop" was in season one, but what made it work was how cleanly and efficiently the writers would set up these dirtiest of jokes. By the time Sam's roommate had to give him a hand, the writers had painstakingly established that this was really the only sensible solution to the problem; ditto Rogers and the dog. Any aficionado of blue humor would have to applaud the cleverness of these set-ups.

So watching the three second- season episodes Fox sent out for review should have filled me with bittersweet pleasure. Instead, having watched them and the "Reaper" pilot, I'm okay with the show's impending demise.

The show's been retooled in a way that should make it better, and yet somehow has the opposite result. The stories about Sam's personal life never worked as well as the scenes with Hall and Rogers, so the female roommates were dumped and Eric Christian Olsen has been reduced to a glorified extra as Sam's slacker brother, Sully. Yet the structure of each episode is roughly the same, and now we're treated to the awkward spectacle of Sam's middle-aged bosses trying to help him with his pursuit of the pretty new receptionist.

The farcical elements feel both lazier and more labored, as if the writers just figured they'd speed up the tempo and the amount of flop sweat on Harrison's brow and no one would notice they weren't trying as hard. When Sam has a bad fall on a phallic-shaped Icelandic cultural artifact near the end of tomorrow's episode, it doesn't feel so much inevitable as it does an easy laugh.

There are still some comic pleasures, notably Hall's gleeful delivery of lines like "I've done things you can't even draw!" and "You'll be staying in a youth hostel! I hope you like rape!"

But the show definitely feels played-out, especially in comparison to "Reaper." In that one, Harrison's playing an underachiever instead of an overachiever (he sells hardware at a big box store), but many of the structural elements are the same, notably the story of a young guy whose love life keeps getting ruined by his evil boss -- only this boss (played by smiling character actor Ray Wise) is the Devil him self, Harrison's parents having sold his soul to Old Scratch be fore he was even born. I've watched all the network pilots except ABC's, and "Reaper" (di rected by Jersey's own Kevin Smith) is at or near the top of the list, a funny, scary gem.

If "The Loop" had to die so "Reaper" could live, that's okay.

Jumping ahead

At the end of my review of this season's premiere of "The Shield," I expressed my concern that the tightly-coiled nature of the major story arc -- Would Vic Mackey find out that loyal sidekick Shane had murdered fellow Strike Team member Lem, and what would he do about it? -- would be diluted by the knowledge that the series had another year to go, and I suggested three possible ways creator Shawn Ryan and his team would deal with that:

"1) The final season won't have Vic and Shane as cops anymore, whether they're in jail or dead or just disgraced civilians; 2) The writers are going to stretch what seems like a very taut story into next year, or 3) Vic and Shane each pulls a rabbit out of his hat and the consequences of what happened go away."

Without giving away too much about tomorrow night's season finale (10 p.m., FX), Ryan has cho sen option number two. In fact, he chose it a few episodes ago.

For all intents and purposes, this season ended with episode six, the one where Vic confronted Shane about his crime, a riveting showdown between Michael Chiklis and Walton Goggins. The ensuing three episodes and the finale have all been about setting up conflicts for the final season, with Shane -- having insulated himself from Vic's retribution by writing out confessions of every bad thing he and Vic ever did together and threatening their re lease in the event of his arrest or death -- getting in way over his head with the acting head of the Armenian mob, chillingly played by German actress Franka Po tente (Matt Damon's girlfriend in "The Bourne Identity").

There's still some leftover business to deal with tomorrow, like Vic's employment status and the presence of new Strike Team leader Hiatt, but most of it is a prologue for the final confrontations to come sometime in 2008.

With Shane's written confes sions, Ryan found a plausible way to postpone the inevitable, but the tension of the first half of the season has definitely slackened. We know how much trouble the Armenians can be from the money train story that bridged seasons two and three, but the storyline doesn't have the raw emotional power of the brother against brother set-up.

Still, no way I'm missing whatever comes next.

post #3401 of 93671
Now that Michael Imperioli's character has been whacked, do you think he'll return to Law&Order and reprise his Det. Nick DeFalco character?
post #3402 of 93671
Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

My mistake, Rico. It was one of the shows that received one third place vote, and when I copied things over a few times, it managed to get lost, so I will go fix the orginial chart.

Thanks for catching my error.

I don't see Men in Trees on there either, which got at least one third place vote from me.

And people wonder if anyone will remember this show when it comes back this Fall.
post #3403 of 93671
Thread Starter 
Let me go back and check again, VisionOn -- I remember looking at the final chart and wondering where MIT had gone.

This is makiing me feel like Katherine Harris
post #3404 of 93671
See two FCC Commissioners' response to the indecency decision

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps responds to the decision here:

And FCC Chairman Kevin Martin's response is at this link:

(WARNING: Chairman Martin's response repeats the same "indecent" language Cher and Nicole Richie are accused of uttering during the programs in question ... WITHOUT ASTERISKS! VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED!)

Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

Washington Notebook
Court rules against FCC policy
Approach called 'capricious'
By William Triplett Variety June 4, 2007

Broadcasters marked a key victory as a federal court tossed out a pair of landmark indecency rulings against Fox Television, labeling both "arbitrary and capricious" and sending them back to the Federal Communications Commission.

The U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday issued an opinion agreeing with Fox and others' contention that the 2006 rulings represented a complete departure from previous FCC practice and was done without legal justification.

The two rulings involved separate Fox live broadcasts of the 2002 and 2003 Billboard Music Awards. In the first, singer Cher said of her critics, "**** 'em," and in the second, TV personality Nicole Richie said, "Have you ever tried to get **** out of a Prada purse? It's not so ****ing simple."

Previously, the FCC did not cite networks for fleeting expletives during live broadcasts. That changed in 2004 after the FCC considered another case, in which it said certain words were indecent and actionable in any context.

Fox, CBS, NBC and Hearst-Argyle Television challenged the legal basis for the change, arguing that it was not properly codified or justified.

Concurring with that argument, the appeals court ruling means the FCC will have to try offering a legally sound basis for changing its practice on fleeting expletives. In the meantime, the FCC is barred from issuing any similar indecency violations.

In their challenge, the networks also raised questions about the constitutional validity of the overall FCC indecency regime. But the court focused only on the principle complaint and therefore did not have to address those larger questions.

post #3405 of 93671
Thread Starter 

Originally Posted by homcom View Post

Corrected matchups in Bold
post #3406 of 93671
Gee, did chairman Martin have to use the "f" word six times to make his point?
post #3407 of 93671
Hey, I warned you, grittree! That FCC chairman turned out to be a real potty-mouth today!
post #3408 of 93671
Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

You are absolutely right. But it is sometimes difficult to convince newbies, who are marvelling at their new video quality, that it would be so much better if actually hooked up to an HD source.

I found this happened to a friend of mine. He got his HDTV and they hooked it up for him using S-Video. Only afte rhe went to another friend's house and saw his HD did he wonder if something might be wrong. They got it squared away a few days later. Needless to say he had been bragging about how good HD looked and now he is actually telling the truth. Too many people trust delivery people/cable techs to do things right and sometimes they just don't.
post #3409 of 93671
Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

TV Sports
For the NHL, no news is all bad news
With interest low, newspapers are skipping coverage
By Diego Vasquez MediaLifeMagazine.com staff writer Jun 4, 2007

Tonight's Game 4 of the Cup finals between the Anaheim Ducks and Ottawa Senators, which begins at 8, will draw a small television audience. More alarming, it will draw limited coverage in the many newspapers that decided not to send a reporter to hockey's biggest event.
Source: Nielsen Media Research data


It's even worse in Seattle - the local affiliate, KING 5, shuffled the game off to their secondary channel, KONG, a channel nobody watches. And this is a city that sits across the border from Vancouver, Canada, a hockey hotbed. Vancouver gets KING 5 on their cable system, but probably not KONG. They'll just have to be content with their superior CBC coverage.
post #3410 of 93671
Originally Posted by dline View Post

See two FCC Commissioners' response to the indecency decision

From Michael Copps response to the decision,

"Enforcing the laws against indecency,
profanity and obscenity must remain a Commission priorityAmerica's families
and children expect and deserve no less.

Nope, it is and should remain in the realm of Constitutional law/interpretation, not some Executive branch agency.
post #3411 of 93671
Originally Posted by keenan View Post

Nope, it is and should remain in the realm of Constitutional law/interpretation, not some Executive branch agency.

I'd offer a rebuttal, but Fred doesn't allow political discussions, so only one side gets to make their point.
post #3412 of 93671
Thread Starter 
According to the Toronto Globe & Mail, NBC is doing at least as well as the CBC in its NHL coverage.

(It surprised me, too!)

Originally Posted by Al Shing View Post

It's even worse in Seattle - the local affiliate, KING 5, shuffled the game off to their secondary channel, KONG, a channel nobody watches. And this is a city that sits across the border from Vancouver, Canada, a hockey hotbed. Vancouver gets KING 5 on their cable system, but probably not KONG. They'll just have to be content with their superior CBC coverage.
post #3413 of 93671
Thread Starter 
TV Sports
NBC measures up to CBC
By William Houston Toronto Globe & Mail June 4, 2007

When it comes to televising a hockey game, NBC can't match the experience and reputation of the CBC's Hockey Night in Canada.

But the U.S. network compensates with a big effort and an aggressive up-close approach.

It paid off handsomely on Saturday. NBC, producing its first Stanley Cup final telecast of the postseason, equalled and, at few key points, bettered the CBC.

The big miss for the Canadian network was failing to note that the Anaheim Ducks had been caught on a late line change and had only four skaters on the ice when Anton Volchenkov scored the Ottawa Senators' second goal.

NBC game analyst Ed Olczyk spotted it immediately and used a telestrator to check off the four Ducks on the ice, making note of the missing fifth.

It was never reported by the CBC.

On Anaheim's first goal, NBC noted that Ottawa goaltender Ray Emery had lost his stick after being brushed by his own defenceman. The CBC didn't report that until Don Cherry brought it up in the first intermission show.

NBC's third man, Pierre McGuire, who sets up at ice level between the benches, brings the viewers about as close to the action as possible. His interview with Senators coach Bryan Murray at the bench during a stoppage in the first period helped advance the main story, which was the Senators' mood after losing two games in Anaheim.

At the end of the second period, McGuire grabbed Ottawa's Mike Fisher on the ice before he left for the dressing room. The CBC's rinkside reporter, Elliotte Friedman, gets good interviews and provides strong information, but McGuire's location gives him the advantage.

CBC announcer Bob Cole had a poor night. He was behind the play, was spotty in identifying Ducks players and got a few wrong. The most obvious misidentification was his referring in the first period to the Senators' Joe Corvo as Dany Heatley.

Both networks delivered some strong commentary. NBC's Ray Ferraro didn't hold back when asked about the work of Ottawa's Jason Spezza in the first two games. He said Spezza had been "jittery, confused and intimidated."

The CBC's Kelly Hrudey came down hard on Emery, who has allowed soft goals and big rebounds. Hrudey suggested the radical move of pulling him for Martin Gerber, despite Gerber's inactivity for most of the regular season and playoffs.

The CBC's camera work continues to be first-rate. The picture was often ahead of the commentary. After the Volchenkov goal, the camera found Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle barking at one of his players, a signal that something had gone wrong.

When game analyst Harry Neale was telling us that Spezza had gone to the dressing room for repairs, the camera showed him standing behind the bench waiting for a jersey.

The verdict on Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson's disputed goal, which was waved off by the referee but then deemed good by the video reviewers, split along network lines.

The CBC broadcasters believed it had not been deliberately kicked in and, therefore, was correctly called a goal. NBC's analysts thought otherwise, although Olczyk, like his CBC counterpart, Greg Millen, wondered whether Alfredsson's follow-through made it appear as though he had directed the puck.

The CBC's pregame show contained plenty of good content, most notably the piece on Murray and his family's roots in Shawville, Que.

But Hockey Night should stop inflicting us with setups involving fans outside the arena, the ones in which adults wearing Senators jerseys bellow into the camera: "Stay tuned when the Ducks take on the Senators in our house," followed by the inevitable "On Hockey Night in Canada - woooo."

When Hockey Night does that sort of opener with minor-hockey players during the regular season, it has a certain amount of appeal and charm because, after all, they are kids.

But watching this from loud, middle-aged people, not once but twice in the pregame show, is not amusing or appealing. It's just stupid and irritating.

post #3414 of 93671

Would it be possible to put the results of the votes in one of your "Reserved" posts on the first page? It will make it much easier to find in the future.

post #3415 of 93671
Thread Starter 
Technology Notebook
New Sony BD Player Launches At $499
By Greg Tarr TWICE 6/4/2007 6

San Diego - Sony said it has cut the retail pricing on its just launched next generation Blu-ray Disc player by $100 to an expected street price of $499.

The BDP-S300 is a fully functional HD 1080p/24fps Blu-ray player that includes the advanced Dolby Digital Plus audio codec as well as BRAVIA Theatre Sync unified system operation and DVD and audio CD playback.

The BD format gained great momentum in the past several months, and we're going to capitalize on that with the new model, said Chris Fawcett, Sony Home Products marketing VP. The player gives a broader consumer segment the opportunity to experience the exceptional quality of Blu-ray Disc format at a competitive price.

In addition to playing native 1080p signals, the new BD player will upconvert lower resolution signals to 1080p through its HDMI v1.3 output. The model also supports AVC-HD discs encoded with x.v.Color (xvYCC) technology, a new international standard for wide color space. The standard expands the current data range of video by about 1.8 times allowing the player to output more natural and vivid colors similar to what the human eye can actually see.

Surround sound audio support includes multi-channel linear PCM via HDMI, and Dolby Digital Plus. The unit has optical and coaxial digital audio out, along with 5.1 channel decoding capability for backward compatibility with existing receivers.

It also supports BD-ROM, AVC-HD Media, DVD video and DVD playback from DVD/DVD+R/+RW encoded discs, CD playback, as well as MP3 audio files and JPEG images stored on DVD recordable media.

Sony said the BDP-S300 player, will be available shortly at Sony Style stores, online at the new Sony Style and at other retailers nationwide.

post #3416 of 93671
Thread Starter 
Good idea, squidboy. I'll get it done in the next day or so.

Originally Posted by squidboy View Post


Would it be possible to put the results of the votes in one of your "Reserved" posts on the first page? It will make it much easier to find in the future.

post #3417 of 93671
Thread Starter 
Washington Notebook
Court calls FCC's indecency crackdown 'arbitrary'
By Jim PuzzangheraLos Angeles Times Staff Writer June 4, 2007

WASHINGTON -- A federal court handed the broadcast TV networks a major victory today, ruling that the Federal Communications Commission's crackdown on indecency was "arbitrary and capricious."

The 2-1 decision by a panel of judges from the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York found that the FCC's decisions last year that isolated uses of expletives had violated broadcast indecency standards "represents a significant departure" from previous commission rulings.

The FCC ruled in March 2006 that uttering certain expletives, including the "F-word," even in isolated incidents, was indecent. The ruling focused on four incidents from 2002 to 2004 -- episodes of ABC's "NYPD Blue" and CBS' "The Early Show," along with Fox's broadcasts of the 2002 and 2003 "Billboard Music Awards."

On the 2002 Billboard show, Cher used the "F-word" after accepting an award. And the following year, Nicole Richie used the "F-word" and another expletive when presenting an award. Both were unscripted.

The court did not make broader findings about the constitutionality of the indecency guidelines that the networks had requested, and sent the matter back to the FCC for reconsideration. But the judges said they were "skeptical that the commission can provide a reasoned explanation for its 'fleeting expletive' regime that would pass Constitutional muster." The decision could be headed for an appeal to the Supreme Court.

But the ruling represents a victory for broadcast executives, who have felt increasingly under siege by tougher rules on indecency from the FCC after Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" during the halftime show of the 2004 Super Bowl and a ten-fold increase in fines passed last year by Congress that boosts the maximum penalty for any violation to $325,000.

The networks, led by Fox Television Stations, banded together and filed suit, charging the FCC's decisions contradicted previous rulings and violated the 1st Amendment. Although expressing support for the networks' constitutional arguments, the judges decided the case on narrow grounds, striking down the FCC's March 2006 decisions and telling the agency to reconsider based on the court's ruling.

"For decades broadcasters relied on the FCC's restrained approach to indecency regulation and its consistent rejection of arguments that isolated expletives were indecent," the court ruled. "While the FCC is free to change its previously settled view on this issue, it must provide a reasoned basis for that change."

post #3418 of 93671
Thread Starter 
Washington Notebook
F.C.C. Rebuffed by Court on Indecency Fines
By Stephen Labaton The New York Times June 5, 2007

WASHINGTON, June 4 If President Bush and Vice President Cheney can blurt out vulgar language, then the government cannot punish broadcast television stations for broadcasting the same words in similarly fleeting contexts.

That, in essence, was the decision on Monday, when a federal appeals panel struck down the government policy that allows stations and networks to be fined if they broadcast shows containing obscene language.

Although the case was primarily concerned with what is known as fleeting expletives, or blurted obscenities, on television, both network executives and top officials at the Federal Communications Commission said the opinion could gut the ability of the commission to regulate any speech on television or radio.

Kevin J. Martin, the chairman of the F.C.C., said that the agency was now considering whether to seek an appeal before all the judges of the appeals court or to take the matter directly to the Supreme Court.

The decision, by a divided panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York, was a sharp rebuke for the F.C.C. and for the Bush administration. For the four television networks that filed the lawsuit Fox, CBS, NBC and ABC it was a major victory in a legal and cultural battle that they are waging with the commission and its supporters.

Under President Bush, the F.C.C. has expanded its indecency rules, taking a much harder line on obscenities uttered on broadcast television and radio. While the judges sent the case back to the commission to rewrite its indecency policy, it said that it was doubtful that the agency would be able to adequately respond to the constitutional and statutory challenges raised by the networks.

The networks hailed the decision.

We are very pleased with the court's decision and continue to believe that the government regulation of content serves no purpose other than to chill artistic expression in violation of the First Amendment, said Scott Grogin, a senior vice president at Fox. Viewers should be allowed to determine for themselves and their families, through the many parental control technologies available, what is appropriate viewing for their home.

Mr. Martin, the chairman of the commission, attacked the panel's reasoning.

I completely disagree with the court's ruling and am disappointed for American families, he said. The court says the commission is divorced from reality.' It is the New York court, not the commission, that is divorced from reality.

He said that if the agency was unable to prohibit some vulgarities during prime time, Hollywood will be able to say anything they want, whenever they want.

Beginning with the F.C.C.'s indecency finding in a case against NBC for a vulgarity uttered by the U2 singer Bono during the Golden Globes awards ceremony in 2003, President Bush's Republican and Democratic appointees to the commission have imposed a tougher policy by punishing any station that broadcast a fleeting expletive. That includes vulgar language blurted out on live shows like the Golden Globes or scripted shows like NYPD Blue, which was cited in the case.

Reversing decades of a more lenient policy, the commission had found that the mere utterance of certain words implied that sexual or excretory acts were carried out and therefore violated the indecency rules.

But the judges said vulgar words are just as often used out of frustration or excitement, and not to convey any broader obscene meaning. In recent times even the top leaders of our government have used variants of these expletives in a manner that no reasonable person would believe referenced sexual or excretory organs or activities.

Adopting an argument made by lawyers for NBC, the judges then cited examples in which Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney had used the same language that would be penalized under the policy. Mr. Bush was caught on videotape last July using a common vulgarity that the commission finds objectionable in a conversation with Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain. Three years ago, Mr. Cheney was widely reported to have muttered an angry obscene version of get lost to Senator Patrick Leahy on the floor of the United States Senate.

We find that the F.C.C.'s new policy regarding fleeting expletives' fails to provide a reasoned analysis justifying its departure from the agency's established practice, said the panel.

Emily A. Lawrimore, a White House spokeswoman, said Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney had no comment about the ruling.

Although the judges struck down the policy on statutory grounds, they also said there were serious constitutional problems with the commission's attempt to regulate the language of television shows.

We are skeptical that the commission can provide a reasoned explanation for its fleeting expletive' regime that would pass constitutional muster, said the panel in an opinion written by Judge Rosemary S. Pooler and joined by Judge Peter W. Hall. We question whether the F.C.C.'s indecency test can survive First Amendment scrutiny.

In his dissent, Judge Pierre N. Leval defended the commission's decision to toughen its indecency policy.

In explanation of this relatively modest change of standard, the commission gave a sensible, although not necessarily compelling, reason, he said.

What we have is at most a difference of opinion between a court and an agency, Judge Leval said. Because of the deference courts must give to the reasoning of a duly authorized administrative agency in matters within the agency's competence, a court's disagreement with the commission on this question is of no consequence. The commission's position is not irrational; it is not arbitrary and capricious.

The case involved findings that the networks had violated the indecency rules for comments by Cher and Nicole Richie on the Billboard Music Awards, the use of expletives by the character Andy Sipowicz on NYPD Blue and a comment on The Early Show by a contestant from CBS's reality show Survivor.

The commission did not issue fines in any of the cases because the programs were broadcast before the agency changed its policy. But the networks were concerned about the new interpretation of the rules, particularly since the agency has been issuing a record number of fines.

Two years ago, Congress increased the potential maximum penalty for each indecency infraction to $325,000, from $32,500. Producers and writers have complained that the prospect of stiff fines had begun to chill their creative efforts.

The case, Fox et al. v. Federal Communications Commission, along with a second case now before a federal appeals court in Philadelphia involving the malfunctioning wardrobe that exposed one of the pop singer Janet Jackson's breasts during the halftime show of the 2004 Super Bowl, have been closely watched by the television industry and its critics for their broad implications for television programming.

Neither cable TV nor satellite programming faces the same indecency rules even though they cover about 85 percent of homes. And as the Bush administration's appointees have taken a tougher view on indecency, the industry has waged a countercampaign in the courts.

The commission has struggled to consistently explain how it applies the rules. In the Bono case involving the Golden Globe awards, the staff initially ruled in favor of the network. After lawmakers began to complain about that decision, the commission, then led by Michael K. Powell, reversed the staff decision.

But the commission declined to impose a fine because, it noted, existing precedent would have permitted this broadcast and therefore NBC and its affiliates necessarily did not have the requisite notice to justify a penalty.

Broadcast television executives have complained about what they say has been the arbitrary application of the rules. They expressed concern, for instance, that they might be penalized for broadcasting Saving Private Ryan, a Steven Spielberg movie about the invasion of Normandy during World War II, because of the repeated use of vulgarities.

But the F.C.C. in that case ruled in favor of the networks, finding that deleting the expletives would have altered the nature of the artistic work and diminished the power, realism and immediacy of the film experience for viewers.

post #3419 of 93671
Thread Starter 
Washington Notebook
Broadcasters Win Appeal Of FCC's Profanity Ruling
By Frank Ahrens Washington Post Staff Writer Tuesday, June 5, 2007

A federal appeals court tossed out an indecency ruling against Rupert Murdoch's Fox television network yesterday and broadly questioned whether the Federal Communications Commission has the right to police the airwaves for offensive language.

In a 2 to 1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York ruled that the FCC went too far in issuing a 2006 decision against Fox Broadcasting for separate incidents in 2002 and 2003 after singer Cher and celebrity Nicole Richie each uttered an expletive on live television.

The ruling is a rebuke to the FCC and a victory for television networks, which in recent years have pushed back against the FCC's crackdown on indecency. In 2004, the agency reversed years of policy and effectively branded even "fleeting," or one-time, use of an expletive off-limits on broadcast television and radio, angering Hollywood, which warned of a chilling effect on programming.

The court ruled yesterday that the FCC had not adequately, or constitutionally, explained why it changed its mind on the fleeting use of profanity and ordered the agency to retool its regulations.

The court decision could bolster the networks' argument that parents need better tools, such as the V-chip and channel-blocking technology, rather than more government regulation to protect children from offensive material.

Because the Fox incidents occurred before the FCC's 2004 ruling on fleeting profanity, the agency did not fine the network, though it did rule that the broadcasts were indecent. Fox appealed the FCC ruling to the 2nd Circuit, saying the new rule set a dangerous precedent for clamping down on free speech.

The court yesterday sided with Fox, which is owned by Murdoch's News Corp., writing that the FCC's "new policy sanctioning 'fleeting expletives' is arbitrary and capricious."

During a December 2002 Billboard Music Awards show on Fox, Cher dismissed her critics, saying, "[f-word] 'em." During the following December's Billboard show on Fox, Richie said: "Have you ever tried to get cow [excrement] out of a Prada purse? It's not so [f-word] simple."

The court, in its ruling, said "we are doubtful that by merely proffering a reasoned analysis for its new approach to indecency and profanity, the [FCC] can adequately respond to the constitutional and statutory challenges raised by the networks."

"I'm disappointed in the court's ruling," FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin said in an interview. "I think the commission had done the right thing in trying to protect families from that kind of language, and I think it's unfortunate that the court in New York has said that this kind of language is appropriate on TV."

FCC lawyers were reviewing the agency's options and may appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, Martin said. Such an appeal could possibly setting up a test case to determine whether the federal government still has the right and responsibility to police the public airwaves, said lawyers who specialize in the First Amendment.

FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps warned in a statement, "any broadcaster who sees this decision as a green light to send more gratuitous sex and violence into our homes would be making a huge mistake."

Critics of the FCC crackdown applauded yesterday's ruling.

"We are very pleased with the court's decision and continue to believe that government regulation of content serves no purpose other than to chill artistic expression in violation of the First Amendment," Fox spokesman Scott Grogin said in a statement. "Viewers should be allowed to determine for themselves and their families, through the many parental control technologies available, what is appropriate viewing for their home."

In a statement, Andrew Jay Schwartzman, president of the Media Access Project, a public-interest group specializing in the media, said: "It's a shame that citizens and broadcasters had to seek protection from the courts, but it is very reassuring to know that one branch of the government can rise above demagogy."

The Parents Television Council, which has sent hundreds of thousands of indecency complaints to the FCC in recent years, criticized the ruling. The group's president, Tim Winter, said in a statement that "a court in New York City has cleared the way for television networks to use the f-word and s-word in front of children at any time of the day."

The FCC forbids radio and television broadcast material that is sexual or excretory in nature from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., when children are most likely to be in the audience.

In 2006, Congress answered the FCC's request to up the maximum indecency fine, raising it to $325,000 from $32,500. The rules apply only to AM- and FM-band radio programs and over-the-air broadcast television. Cable and satellite television and radio channels are outside the FCC's jurisdiction, but the agency recently sent a report to Congress saying it could pass laws enabling the FCC to regulate violent content on cable and satellite television.

The culture war over indecency on television began to simmer in 2003 after U2's lead singer, Bono, uttered the f-word during a live awards show on NBC. The FCC initially ruled that the incident was not indecent because Bono did not use the word to describe sexual intercourse.

Lawmakers and parents groups responded quickly, saying the FCC had tacitly approved use of the f-word on television. Michael K. Powell, who then was chairman of the FCC, urged the agency to reverse its decision, and it did, effectively putting the expletive off-limits.

The debate boiled over in February 2004, during the Super Bowl halftime show on CBS, after singer Janet Jackson's right breast was briefly exposed, causing a brief national tempest.

Powell launched an indecency investigation the next day. The agency quickly found that the broadcast violated the FCC's statutes and fined 20 CBS stations $550,000. CBS has appealed the decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit in Philadelphia. The court has scheduled oral arguments in the case for September.

post #3420 of 93671
Thread Starter 
TV Notebook
Waterston pondering 'Law & Order' promotion
By The Associated Press June 4, 2007

LOS ANGELES (AP) Sam Waterston may be a getting a Law & Order promotion. The actor is negotiating to step in as the show's New York district attorney, replacing co-star Fred Thompson, a source close to the production said Monday.

Thompson, a former U.S. senator, is weighing a presidential run and asked to be released from the NBC drama.
The source was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The read the entire Associated Press story go here:

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: HDTV Programming
AVS › AVS Forum › HDTV › HDTV Programming › Hot Off The Press: The Latest TV News and Information