By now, you've surely heard about the writers' strike currently in full swing across the television and film industry in New York City and Los Angeles. And apparently, the writers are not the only ones getting in on the act. The Huffington Post is reporting that Jon Stewart of The Daily Show has committed to pay the salaries of his own writers and those of The Colbert Report for the next two weeks, so his writers won't be harmed financially by the strike during that period.
What, Eddie Haskell suing someone isn't enough for you today? OK, how about this: former CBS anchor Dan Rather is suing CBS for $70 million. Also named in the suit are CBS CEO Les Moonves, Sumner Redstone, and former CBS news chief Andrew Heyward.
The lawsuit claims that the network forced him to step down from The CBS Evening News and did not give him enough time on 60 Minutes. He also claims that because of all this, the network aired a "biased" and "incomplete" investigation into the National Guard story and seriously hurt his reputation. New York Times reporter Jacques Steinberg broke the story earlier this afternoon. Rather is currently an anchor on HDNet.
Now let's see if Katie Couric (or Harry Smith, if he's still filling in) reports this story on tonight's show.
It's a typical night in Moscow. You have just finished supper and are now ready to sit down with your wife, children, parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins to watch some television. On the screen a sad-faced shoe salesman is anchored to his living room couch watching his own TV. Strutting behind him is his gaudily-dressed, shockingly red-haired wife. To the side his ditsy blonde-haired daughter and fairly intelligent son, who dreams of something bigger in his life, bicker over something or other.
Sounds a bit like Married... With Children, doesn't it? Well, truth be told, it actually is. The name of the show is Schastlivy Vmeste (translated to Happy Together) and it is an authorized copy of the former FOX sitcom featuring Russian cast members and dialog. It is also a huge hit in Russia, especially among younger viewers. According to a spokesperson for Russian channel TNT, Vmeste is the most popular scripted series among the 18 to 30 crowd.
Lots of changes this week in the land of TV news:
- Liz Claman is leaving CNBC. She was going to renew her contract, but decided she wanted to go some place else. She has to wait 90 days, however, because of a non-compete clause in her contract. She's been with the financial network for almost 10 years. I remember Claman from her days on Channel 7 in Boston.
Fun Q & A with Entourage creator Doug Ellin in the New York Times. They touch on everything from what it was like growing up on Long Island, how much money he makes at HBO, and his irritation at how people nowadays want a quick "home run" in their career instead of working hard for success.
He also has a lot of interesting things to say about the four main characters on the show. HBO originally considered the show a satire, but Ellin had to convince them that it's actually reality and he knows people like this. It's how he perceives friendship and how it was when he was growing up.
He also says that he'd kill himself if his own kids grew up to be like Vince or Drama or Turtle or Eric, so I guess even friendship has its limits. Entourage returns for another season June 17.
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"Television shows process news events much faster than ever before but not much more directly than they did at the time of Hogan's Heroes, M*A*S*H or China Beach," critic Alessandra Stanley wrote, noting that a failed FX program, Over There about soldiers in Iraq "turned a war into entertainment as it was still being fought."
The paper describes the finale as "slapstick comedy," and an episode that will remind viewers of Three Men and a Baby, Rosemary's Baby, and Night of the Living Dead.
Wow, with that description, I might have to get this set after all. Though the Sci-Fi Channel is currently showing repeats of the series (including a mini marathon tomorrow night at 8) and the run will include the final four episodes.
Sorry I'm a few days late reporting this news, but I took some time off to volunteer at my neighborhood's annual Soup Kitchen and Hobo Scrub. This year I was on "soap and hose" duty, so it would have been total disaster had I not been there.
At any rate, if you haven't heard yet, Jane Pauley is suing the New York Times because she claims she was duped into being interviewed for an ad supplement which she thought was an actual interview about her bout with bipolar disorder. The ad supplement was for pharmaceutical companies, and Pauley is suing both the Times and DeWitt Publications, saying she was tricked and that she has never appeared in an ad or endorsed any product before. A spokeswoman countered by saying Pauley's assistant was informed that the interview would be for an ad supplement in the New York Times Magazine.
She uses two examples to prove her point. One is the ratiings. Leno has been on top for years while Letterman is always in second place. I don't really want to dignify her analysis by answering it, pointing out that using ratings as an example of something being "better" has never been an accurate portrayal of what is good on television (or in film or in music or in books). Oh, I just did answer. Oh well.
Personally, I can't imagine a day when I won't buy TV Guide. It's very comforting to have it on the coffee table, and I don't want to have to go online every single time I'm sitting on the couch at 12:37 am, eating Doritos, trying to figure out what else to watch because Paris Hilton is on Conan. In this piece in the New York Times, John Motavalli discusses the launch of TV Guide's new TV mag, Inside TV (aimed at "young women") and the future of TV Guide itself, whether it can survive in a world where a lot of younger people get their news about television online (here at TV Squad!) and even get there customized listings online. I think there is a place for TV Guide, and here's how they can stick around. For one thing, stop trying to make the magazine look like a web site. I'd rather they go back to listing all the shows in a regular format like they used to and ditch those stupid grids that seem easier to read but are just too damn confusing. And how about listing the shows in the daytime and late night instead of generic grids that are no help whatsoever (telling me that "various sports programs" are on during the day on ESPN is of no help to me). TV Guide has to go back to where it was in the 60s and 70s and 80s, complete listings and descriptions for the shows, in-depth articles, and not change. That's how it will be different and stand out.
That's the word from creator Matt Groening in an interesting piece in Sunday's New York Times. Which is an interesting statement, since the show has lasted about 17 years and 350 episodes already. I know it seems so hip it's unhip to say this, but I think the show really has fallen off in the past two years. Of course, any episode is still better than 90% of other sitcoms, but you can see the same gags being repeated, the same storylines repeated, only tweaked in some way. But I can't imagine television without The Simpsons on every week, so I'll take it. James L. Brooks says they've hired some new writers for next season, so it should be interesting.
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