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Monthly Archives: May 2007

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Did DVR Eat TV Ratings?

NEW YORK — Nielsen Media Research said Thursday that the impact of digital video recorders is a leading cause of why television viewing dropped precipitously this year.

Many of the top shows — from ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” to Fox’s “American Idol” to CBS’ “CSI” — saw their ratings drop in the spring. Prompted this month by questions from NBC, Nielsen began an investigation into the factors that could have led to the slide. Nielsen’s probe is almost complete, but in the meantime the company has discovered several things.

“DVRs appear to be the largest factor in that,” said Pat McDonough, Nielsen senior vp planning policy and analysis.

DVR’s are no doubt part of the issue but Nielsen Media is missing the bigger picture which is that we’re moving from a society that schedules our TV viewing around a network TV schedule to a society that wants to see what we want when we want it. The VCR began that trend long before the DVR and yet the ratings withstood the assault of the VCR somehow. The real problem is that it’s not just the VCR or the DVR anymore, it’s all the sites all over the web piggybacking on YouTube and DailyMotion and all the other video sharing sites that rebroadcast shows, it’s also the shows the networks themselves are broadcasting over the web via CBS’s InnerTUBE and ABC’s episode viewing and NBC’s episode list and episodes available on iTunes.

What it all adds up to is the reality is that networks need to do more than pressure Nielsen to integrate DVR ratings into the package. They need to adapt to rebroadcasting their content online full time and not just as a promotional venture and they need to address the reality that the old line TV spot at 8:30 or 9:30 is a thing of the past and only one of the ways that viewers see their programs.

Anything else is doomed to failure.

Yoko Ono Ate My Dog!

The performance artist made his name by sitting in a bath full of baked beans and sausages to defend the English breakfast and pushing a monkey nut round London with his nose.

He said: “I know some people will find this offensive and tasteless. But I am doing this to raise awareness about the RSPCA’s inability to prosecute Prince Philip and his friends for shooting a fox earlier this year, letting it struggle for life for five minutes and then beating it to death with a stick.”

Yoko Ono ate a Corgi as part of a canine-chewing stunt at a London radio station yesterday. Yoko Ono could only manage a small taste before looking “a bit strange,” according to McGowan.

Well now people have more reason than ever to hate Yoko Ono. She broke up the Beatles and she eats dogs.

We do seem to have a lot of people calling themselves artists whose art consists of smearing chocolate all over themselves, smearing canvas and eating corgis. If eating a Corgi is art, then no doubt a good deal of homeless people in London are artists. Not to mention some of the dodgier shops.

Mark McGowan claims to be a vegetarian and considering he ate a dog (which he possibly thought was a vegetable) suggests he’s as much a vegetarian as he is an artist. (Hint: A dog is meat.)

Once upon a time an artist created something of aesthetic worth. Today an artist is any loony good at generating publicity and behaving insanely with the backing of a gallery and some critics. Without the critics or the gallery, he’s simply another crazy person and has to eat Corgis not for his art but to put food in his mouth.

Unless he wants to be a vegetarian.

Who Gets Mah Kidney?

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – A dying woman will pick a “winner” from three people wanting her kidneys during a reality TV show on Friday that has been widely criticized as unethical. Viewers can give advice via text messages during the 80-minute show which starts at 7:30 p.m. British time.

The show has set off a storm of criticism, both at home and abroad, and many believe reality TV has gone too far. Public broadcaster BNN, which came up with the idea, said it wanted to draw attention to the growing shortage of organ donors in the Netherlands. BNN made headlines some years back with a show called “Shooting and Swallowing” underlining the impact of drug use, and another show on sex called “This is How You Screw”.

Lesson for PBS, learn from BNN. Granted they’re a bunch of evil publicity seeking harpies but at least they get the ratings by pulling FOX style stunts. Then again imagine a horrible merger between FOX and PBS and you’d probably get terribly boring programming with a doubly biased agenda– but if all else fails you can always auction off a kidney.

Then again you can do just about anything and claim that you were trying to bring attention to a serious issue. Hip Hop artists pull that one all the time. Rapping about killing women who turn you down? “I was just bringing attention to a serious issue.” Song about blowing up nuns with dynamite and smuggling crack in their wimples? “I was speaking to my culture and bringing attention to a serious issue.” Auctioning off a kidney? Yup, bringing attention to a serious issue. That’s right. After all somebody has to bring attention to those serious issues. They won’t bring attention to themselves.

The Church vs Linette Servais

Linette Servais had played the organ and directed the choir at St. Joseph Catholic Parish in rural New Franken, near Green Bay. Much of that work she did as a volunteer, and she was by all accounts an active member in the church community. And so when Father Dean Dombroski called her into his office, Servais says, she had been expecting a “thank you,” not an ultimatum. However, the 50-year-old organist was told to either quit working for Pure Romance (an Ohio-based “romance-enhancer” business) or quit volunteering at St. Joesph’s. After a good deal of soul searching, Servais decided her job was not “incompatible with her faith as a Catholic.” Unfortunately for her, the church did not agree, and over the next few months she was gradually relieved of her duties.

But Father Dean decided that sex gratification toys and organ music did not mix, and as such sent a letter to the parish which stated the following: “Linette is a consultant for a firm which sells products of a sexual nature that are not consistent with Church teachings.” Because in his opinion she no longer “model[ed] the teaching of [their] faith,” she was let go late last year. Since that time however, most of the choir has quit in protest and begun meeting at Servais’ house.

Since it appears that Linette Servais was a volunteer, probably unpaid, she’s not likely to be able to hit the church with any kind of discrimination lawsuit and it likely wouldn’t succeed in any case. In part this is a debate over just what comprises morals. Linette Servais saw herself as helping to provide women with a useful service. The Church saw her as a purveyor of immorality. The resulting collision produced an inevitable result in a country in which American Catholics are increasingly out of step with a more conservative European Church, much as is happening with the American branch of the Anglican Church.

The tricky part though is the question of whether these products really were against church teachings. The church’s teachings certainly bars birth control and sexual exploitation but the ‘toys’ in question here could have a legitimate use that would fall within the Church’s teachings or at least not be explicitly barred by them. The Church chose not to give Linette Servais the benefit of the doubt. Instead it assumed the worst and acted that way. Ironically the American Catholic Church in parish after parish and diocese after diocese has given the benefit of the doubt to priests who molested children. If the Catholic Church had been as aggressive toward them as it was toward Linette Servais, entire parishes and dioceses would not be bankrupted by sexual abuse survivor victim lawsuits.

After all if you insist on being moralists, you had better apply those morals consistently across the board.

Hercules Vs Studio 60

More than 100 talkbacks attended last week’s edition of “Studio 60”; if talkback continues to warrant, we’ll try to put up posts for each of the series’ final episodes. Last week’s installment was an odd one, given the absence of Matthew Perry, Amanda Peet, Bradley Whitford and any significant continuity.

Was this intended as a “banked” show, a stand-alone episode that could have been used as an emergency substitution should “Studio 60” fall behind schedule (as “West Wing” occasionally did)? Did it make sense that Matt and Danny would just vanish during a troubled cue-card-free live show? On the upside, we did learn that a TV show called “The West Wing” exists, or existed, in the “Studio 60” universe.

Continuity? Universe? Get real. It’s a canceled TV show and not a very good one. But Hercules which has (I say ‘which’ since there’s an ongoing rumor that Hercules is female, given credibility based on his love of TV shows like Gillmore Girls and The O.C.).

It’s one thing to apply terminology like Continuity and Universe to science fiction TV shows which operate in a metaverse. It’s senseless to apply it to an aborted Aaron Sorkin sitcom that was never actually funny in the first place. There is no ‘universe’ here. Studio 60 referenced a TV show called the West Wing which was actually on TV– unlike Studio 60 itself. Unlike Studio 60 it was actually popular. Unlike Studio 60, Aaron Sorkin got shown the door on the West Wing before it was too late.

And Herc, seriously, don’t make me correct your spelling again. Pretend you’re an actual professional, why dontcha

The Ads Come to YouTube

In the ongoing and entirely hopeless effort to pretend that YouTube is somethinganything besides teenagers talking into a webcam and pirated TV episodes and movies, YouTube’s founders are talking ads and revenue generation. At this point the average YouTube ad much like the average Yahoo Mail ad or like most web ads is the same stuff from the same few sleazy sites that seem to be singlehandedly responsible for most internet advertising. Namely, Mystery Shoppers, Fart Button, Classmates, Mortgage Animations and the same few others, their main goal is for you to sign up with their site so they can start putting insane charges on your credit card and never let you leave until you change your name to Eddie Bickerson and move to Zimbabwe to do missionary work by beating up local animists for Jesus.

Now running actual ads on YouTube, especially 5 to 10 second ones is fantastically unwelcome as a prospect. I can applaud EMI for being more forward thinking than most companies but we can expect to see users wailing as videos that merely reference a song or sound like a song get hit with ads, instead of account suspensions. It’s easier to recover from an account suspension since you can just make a new one. It isn’t nearly as easy to recover from having your videos preceded by annoying ads.

Is Palm on the Way Out?

It seems like one misstep after another for Palm. The latest lame Foleo is only one in a series of missteps that has taken Palm from an industry leader to a whipped purveyor of Microsoft’s Windows CM and now a company falling under the wheels of the coming generation of smartphones.

The sad thing is that this is yet another illustration of how companies squander their commanding lead through insecurity and diversionary pursuits. It’s illustrative to note how Palm has gone from a default name in portable computing to a company that elicits a yawn from most people.

The funny thing though is that Apple is headed the same way. Apple TV is a product that appeals only to the most brainwashed and zombiefied Apple fans. The iPhone is a disaster out of the gate. With MP3 players due to be folded up into cell phones, Apple has one last bet to survive through the iPhone and Steve Jobs knows it. In 5 years no one will be caught dead playing with a white plastic box no matter how shiny it may be or how many gigabytes of flash memory they’ve managed to stick inside it. To survive the coming annihilation of the iPod, Apple’s only choice is to venture into the crowded and competitive arena armored only by the hype and their fanbase, neither of which will prevent Apple from being shredded like a moose in a blender.

Steve Jobs had better learn from Palm because Apple TV is the Foleo and pretty soon Apple Computers are going to be not only running on Intel chips but speaking Windows too.

They’re Teens! They’re Annoying! They’re proof the WB still doesn’t get it!

DC Comics’ superteam Teen Titans is getting the big-screen treatment courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures. The live-action adaptation is being produced by Akiva Goldsman and Kerry Foster through their Weed Road banner, while Mark Verheiden has been brought on board to write the script.

The Teen Titans first appeared in 1964 as a sort of junior Justice League, comprising Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad, Wonder Girl and Speedy, the respective sidekicks of A-list heroes Batman, Flash, Aquaman, Wonder Woman and Green Arrow.

This reminds me way too much of the Sidekick lounge in The Tick. I mean DC still can’t make a Flash movie. They somehow got Superman and Batman movies made in the last 2 years and the results were mixed at best. Where the hell is Joss Whedon’s Wonder Woman? And why do we still not have a Green Arrow movie– but instead let’s play to the kids with this retarded project.

I mean who doesn’t want to see Robin, Kid Flash, Auqalad and Speedy in action– okay Wonder Girl might be sorta cool, especially if Rachel Bilson plays the part, but the entire project is still a ridiculous embarrassment. And frankly I think the odds are great that this will go absolutely nowhere which would be par for the course when it comes to Warner Brothers and DC Superheroes. Maybe after 10 years and a 100 million dollars spent, they’ll actually work their way up to a movie.

Oh yeah and if Aqualad comes anywhere near me, he’s going to get the beating of a lifetime.

Harry Potter and the Exploitative Theme Park

“The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” is set to open at Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park in late 2009, complete with the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the Forbidden Forest and Hogsmeade village.

Now with a 2009 date, presumably after the last Harry Potter novel has been written and released, Universal is better on the long term appeal of Harry Potter– which may not be so safe a bet. The books have been declared instant classics in the line of Huckleberry Finn and Lord of the Rings but the truth is they’re neither of those. They’re well promoted but basically conventional children’s books with large doses borrowed from earlier works. Children may for lack of anything better still find Harry Potter books being shoved at them for the next few years but what happens after that is anyone’s guess.

Granted plenty of kids will still enjoy the British recreations for their own sake but it’s not exactly competing with what Disney can do, now is it?

The Sonny Carson Street Debate

Frankly I’m all for jettisoning street names entirely and getting by mostly on letters and numbers and if we must use names for streets, we’re better off going bland with Elm and Pine instead of Vanderhooys and Sonny Carson. Definitely not Sonny Carson who was a kidnapper, drug dealer and a murderer and race baiter.

Should we name a street after a racist who urged violence against Asians, Jews and Whites? It doesn’t seem like a position any sane person would take but then again some in the Black community still don’t get it. And neither does the press.

Most black council members clearly didn’t support the street and abstained out of fear of being condemned and threatened and painted as Uncle Tom’s. Meanwhile Councilman Charles Barron, one of New York City’s dirties political figures made the usual threats, “You have divided us more than Sonny Carson ever divided anything,” Barron told Quinn, who is white and is among the potential candidates for mayor in 2009.

Great tell a lesbian woman how divisive she is. More so than a racist who threatened Asian storeowners and proclaimed that he couldn’t be bothered with just being anti-semitic since he hated all whites.

A street is not the property of any community. It is the property of the city as a whole and should reflect that city. It should certainly not be the province of race baiters and extremists from various communities. Yes some street names in the past were named after slaveowners and bigots. That’s an argument for renaming those streets but at the very least for not repeating the mistakes of the past.

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