Showing posts from April, 2011

Katie Didn't

America has spoken, and they have done so loud and clear.

We don't want "cute and perky" delivering our news. At least not nationally.

Katie Couric will soon be bidding CBS goodbye, the nearly five-year experiment of her anchoring the CBS Evening News officially a failure.

Couric started reading the TelePrompTers for CBS in 2006, fresh off her run on the "Today" show, the only female among the three major networks who delivered the evening news during the week. The "fish out of water" move was designed to carve into the ratings gap separating CBS from their counterparts, ABC and NBC.

By that measure, the hiring of Couric was a colossal mistake for CBS.

Recent numbers put CBS's newscast at an average of 6.1 million viewers nightly, far behind ABC (8.1) and leader NBC (9.2).

Apparently when it comes to network news, it'd better be delivered by someone who isn't cute and perky, and who isn't a woman.

Couric: Cute and perky didn't do it

In fai…

A Word About Our (Shrinking) Sponsors

Doesn't anyone ever advertise on television anymore?

That might seem like a foolish statement, because Lord knows our favorite TV programs are chopped up like stir-fry vegetables so that 2-3 minute commercial breaks can be added.

But the TV advertisement market seems to have been cornered by just a few categories: prescription drugs, beer, cars, car insurance and wireless gizmos. Those five seem to dominate 80% of the break time, with the remaining 20% scattered into far less significant groups.

Where are the cereal ads? Big Boy commercials? Laundry detergent ads? Candy and gum spots?

The memories of my youth, when it comes to ads on TV, keep pointing to iconic characters like Madge (Palmolive dish soap); the Tidy Bowl Man; Jack Guilford's old man in the "Cracker Jack" spots; Mr. Whipple (Charmin bath tissue); the folks on the boat singing about Faygo; and a plethora of cereal characters (Toucan Sam, Cap'n Crunch, the Trix rabbit, etc).

The commercials back then were …

Our Little Early Bird

I'm not one to get too personal in this space but sometimes you just have to make an exception.

It was 18 years ago today, at 3:57 p.m. to be exact, when the medical staff at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak cut a 2 lb, 14 oz little pipsqueak of a girl out of my wife in an emergency C-section. The screaming, wiggling little thing could have fit in a shoebox but gave the nurses all they could handle.

Our daughter was a preemie, and there was no place better to take care of her than at Beaumont, which had---and still has---an outstanding neo-natal care department.

My wife had been laid up with toxemia in the months leading up to the birth, which wasn't supposed to occur until sometime in June. But during a routine check-up on Good Friday, 1993, her doctor advised her to go to Beaumont, and not to pass GO and not to collect $200.

We thought there were simply going to be some more tests and that she'd be home by the end of the day.

Imagine my surprise when, the next time I sa…

The Organized Assassin

It has often been the M.O. of the American assassin to not have much of an exit strategy---no real end game beyond committing the act itself.

Leon Czolgosz had absolutely no chance of escape following the murder of President McKinley in 1901. Same with Charles Guiteau, killer of President Garfield 20 years earlier.

Witness the random, aimless meanderings of Lee Harvey Oswald following the shooting of President Kennedy, when he couldn't even get out of town despite the chaos within it.

There was one exception, however.

One hundred and forty-six years ago Thursday, actor and miscreant John Wilkes Booth sneaked into the suite of President Abraham Lincoln in Washington's Ford's Theater and shot him point blank in the back of the skull.

Booth's mission was accomplished; Lincoln was mortally wounded and he would die several hours later.

Beyond that, Booth knew what he wanted to do---get out of Dodge, and fast.

After pulling the trigger of his pistol, Booth leaped from the suite t…

Take This Spot and Shove It

Those advertisers sure know a captive audience when it sees one.

I'm talking about the newest way they're getting you to watch their ads---by boldly placing them in front of various videos you click to watch on the Internet.

And they're getting worse.

It used to be that the advertiser spots you'd be forced to view would last 10 seconds. No biggie; 10 seconds isn't too long to settle in and watch what you hope will be a compelling, funny, interesting, cute video.

Then the spots grew to 15 seconds in length. OK, what's 15 seconds, right? That doesn't seem too long.

Now they're a full 30 seconds in length, and they're showing up in more and more videos, annoyingly so.

Now we have a problem.

First, 30 seconds is a long time. It may not seem like it, but grab a watch with a second hand, close your eyes, and count out what YOU believe are 30 seconds. Almost guaranteed, the watch will tell you that you're shy.

Besides that, having to sit through a 30-second ad…

Hollywood Walk of Lame

I wasn't around when it started, but I have a feeling that the Hollywood Walk of Fame's original intent was to be a big deal.

The HWOF was established in 1958 and to date includes over 2,400 stars that are laid on both sides of a 15-block stretch of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street in Hollywood.

It attracts over 10 million visitors annually, according to Wikipedia. So by that definition, the HWOF is a big deal. But it's a big deal as a spectacle, not so much for its Hall of Fame chops.

It used to be that to get a star on the HWOF, you had to be among the industry's giants. But for years, pretty much any Tom, Dick or Harry in the entertainment biz is getting his or her due, in the form of those five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars.

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce decides who should get a star, and they've been doing so at breakneck speed in recent years. As a result, whenever I hear of another person getting a star, the news is usually met by me w…