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Archive for the ‘Television’ Category

Upper Messed Side.

In NYC, Television on August 19, 2013 at 1:34 pm

Someone sent me this story this yesterday and WOW.

A few nights ago, on the aptly-named The Call on NY1, the focus was on “Democratic mayoral candidate (and newly-minted front-runner) Bill De Blasio” and host John Schiumo spoke with “Joan, from the Upper West Side.” When asked if she supports him, she lets us in on her worldview:

JOAN: No, I was [in support of de Blasio] at first because of this stop-and-frisk—which I’m totally against—but when I saw him on the street with his entourage, I had gone up to him and introduced myself and told him how active I was in liberal politics, and I said to him, ‘You’re not going to end stop-and-frisk in Manhattan, right? Just in Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Queens (and I’m still up in the air about The Bronx). And he said ‘Why should I not have it in Manhattan?’ And I said, ‘Well, you can’t expect us to live by the same rules we dictate to other people for heaven’s sake! Just because people like me are against stop-and-frisk in places like Brooklyn and Queens and Staten Island doesn’t mean we don’t want it to continue in Manhattan! I mean: Manhattan is special. Let’s put it this way. We are New York! Brooklyn and Queens and Staten Island, I… I don’t even like talking about those kinds of places!

JOHN SCHIUMO: I’m assuming you were sarcastic an—

JOAN: No! No! I’m being sincere!

JOHN SCHIUMO: Oh, you—[laughs in disbelief] you were being sincere?

JOAN: I don’t know why that’s funny!

JOHN SCHIUMO: Why is that funny? That’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard in eight years of this program.

JOAN: Well, in all due respect, think about it this way: Affordable housing—I mean, New Yorkers accept in the boroughs, but you don’t want those people living around you! Of course, I would be the first to say anyone in Brooklyn and Queens and Staten Island would be prejudiced for that, but I mean, ugh, I’m not a hypocrite!

As context, stop-and-frisk is a fairly self explanatory policy the NYPD has engaged in for years that has disproportionately been applied to people of color, and is controversial for that reason.

Props to Complex for giving this batshit perspective the wider exposure to be exposed. All rational thought renders this woman’s views pure guano.

Joan, who so perfectly fits the stereotype of a woman who is currently having brunch at Nice Matin as we speak, is arguing for separate but equal… obliviously! She literally says she is not a hypocrite while engaging in the act of hypocrisy!

Quick, Joan! Finish your egg white frittata! St. John and Lilly Pulitzer are waging a price war at Sak’s! Hail a cab! Read the rest of this entry »

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Programming Note.

In Television on November 19, 2012 at 4:22 pm

I’ve been following the program Homeland on Showtime closely. It came out of nowhere last year and floored me with its first season. It provokes the audience with its takes on terrorism, surveillance, mental health, political expediency, and national loyalty, to name a few. Its second season is well underway, and has taken some unexpected turns.

The awesome and erudite June Thomas graciously invited me to join her for a discussion of last night’s episode on Slate. It’s obviously more engrossing if you’ve been watching the show, but hopefully there are some nuggets worth extracting even if you haven’t. If you’re up for it, check it out here.

It’s Not TV. It’s Aaron Sorkin.

In Television on June 24, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Aaron Sorkin hasn’t had a show on television in five years. Now, his latest project, The Newsroom, is premiering on HBO. It’s Sorkin’s corrective to cable news.

There’s been plenty of writing about it, from all angles: character studies, accuracy studiesinterviews, grating interviews. Oh yeah, there are even some reviews.

Journalists love writing about Sorkin. He is arguably the best-known screenwriter in America. He has a distinct style. He is talented, opinionated and loquacious. There is a lot to agree or disagree with in his comments and work.

He also chooses his projects carefully: he only has ten writing credits on IMDb. It appears his eleventh will be adapting Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. (Sorry Ashton, you picked the wrong script.)

I’ve actually written something about Aaron Sorkin, as well. But, like his last work on TV, mine is also from 2007.

This was before Brief Wit, before I began writing on an ongoing basis.

I wrote this piece five years ago and couldn’t get it published.

I think it’s relevant to share now…

Read the rest of this entry »

Copy Blight.

In Advertising, Television on March 13, 2012 at 11:49 am

I’m glad Mad Men is finally returning to the air later this month after a much longer than planned hiatus. It’s arguably my favorite show on television, though Homeland is up there ever since it came out of nowhere in the fall.

Mad Men’s fourth season concluded a year and a half ago, and the run-up to its fifth season premiere on March 25th is well under way now: Banana Republic is trying to convince you to dress like a Don Draper look-alike, and there have been various ads all over town for the show. The latter present a jump-off point for a discussion of advertising, culture, and values.

Most of the ads were deliberately oblique: they didn’t explicitly mention the title of the show, in order to stoke anticipation for those who know what they were for and curiosity for those who didn’t.

The line that jumped out from the other two paired with it was “Adultery Is Back.” It struck a chord, and in so doing, re-opened a debate. Read the rest of this entry »

Promote ‘N Vote.

In Politics, Television on December 23, 2011 at 9:28 am

This Republican primary season has had over a dozen debates. You might be thinking, “That’s quite enough.” After all, voting starts in less than two weeks, in Iowa. Well, guess what, caballeros, depending on the list you look at, we just barely passed the halfway point of these rhetorical slugfests. ¡Que sorpresa!

Despite the onslaught of translucent podiums and ever-inventive, nearly exhausted ways in which production designers have toiled to erect a new interpretation of the stars and stripes on stage, we’re just. Not. Done.

In acknowledgement of the strong viewership they have attracted, the widening array of issues being discussed, and the rife cross-promotional synergies, may I present the remaining calendar:

VH1’s Divas Live! Debate

January 7, 2012

Hollis, NH

In this penultimate debate before the New Hampshire primary, the GOP candidates reiterate that strong, confident, independent women do not have a right to choose. Michele Bachmann deftly parlays one of her answers into an on-key verse from “I’m Every Woman.” To compensate, the men spout off about their wives, while claiming they clearly came out ahead of everyone else in the Iowa caucuses, even though they all basically ended up coming in a tie there. Read the rest of this entry »

All Guts, No Glory.

In Television on December 13, 2011 at 4:36 pm

This is ostensibly a blog about media and politics, but it gets pulled in the political direction a bit more often. I think that’s because the daily developments of that world feel more consequential (even if that is illusory) and spark a more pointed and immediate reaction.

However, as a voracious follower of television, and occasionally gracious sharer of the remote control, I have plenty to say on the topic. So, when I read that NBC was bringing back Fear Factor, I cringed. And upon seeing an ad for it in which it appears men and women are bobbing for apples in a pool of blood, I also reacquainted with my gag reflex. Indeed, LA Times, indeed: “Horse rectum for everyone!”

We know you’re struggling, NBC, but this smacks of desperation. What happened to the NBC execs of a few years ago who were lamenting their network being reduced to showing frat guys eating bugs in primetime in the mid-aughts? I don’t know if it’s a result of their new Comcast overlords, but this is a step backwards over a lesson it seemed was already learned.

When a viewer files a lawsuit (eventually dismissed) saying your show made him vomit prolific piles of protein, what makes you sit down with your team and say, “I think we had something here. Let’s bring it back.”

Variety reports (subscription required) that Fear Factor re-opened well. In the ratings on Monday night it was seventh overall, with 8.5 million viewers, and fourth in the 18-49 demographic. (To put that another way, 8.5 million people watched five scorpions get eaten alive by some girl. Despair.)

Read the rest of this entry »

OutFront, Top-Down.

In Media, Television on October 4, 2011 at 12:44 am

I watched Erin Burnett’s debut on CNN tonight, in her new program OutFront, and have some thoughts on the first broadcast.

Unlike the world of scripted TV dramas and sitcoms, first shows don’t portend success or failure in news, or variety programs, for that matter. I remember watching the first Colbert Report and thinking it was never going to last, for instance.

OutFront conveyed a seriousness about the news of the day coupled with conversational frankness, though it’s unclear whether it (or anything) can stand out in a cable news landscape where the graphics all look so similar that it’s hard to know when one show ends and another begins. After all, to the average channel clicker, isn’t Erin Burnett just (recent CNN anchor) Campbell Brown 10 years younger?

No disrespect to Ms. Brown, but I’d argue no. Burnett has proven she has chops in interviews with CEOs and guts in travels to hotspots around the globe, including Cairo’s Tahrir Square earlier this year.

I’m a longtime fan of Erin’s from her work at CNBC, chiefly on Squawk on the Street (where I know her former producer) and Street Signs. She could also hold her own on Meet the Press. Read the rest of this entry »

A Cents Of Entitlement.

In Economy, Government, Television on January 25, 2011 at 8:04 pm

The State of the Union address is less than an hour away and there have been hints and suggestions from the president as to what major themes and issues he will highlight. Republicans have been laying down the sand and salt to contain any new spending proposals slipped in by Obama tonight.

I’m taking a year off from live-blogging the event, because I haven’t yet mastered how to juggle that task while engaging in a rigorous drinking game, rife with sips and gulps on buzzwords like “bipartisan” and “competitiveness,” and selected prepositions like “by” and “on.”

Undoubtedly, the horrific shootings in Tucson will be referenced in the speech. Job growth and American perseverance will be a key component, with the unemployment rate stubbornly in the 9%-range, and China, brimming with production, on the brink of becoming a full-fledged global rival.

Other topics that will likely be broached are Social Security, Medicare, the national deficit, and tax policy. The debate around these subjects has increased in the last few months, not only with the November elections, but with the plan unveiled by a bipartisan panel on addressing the debt, commissioned by the White House.

The panel released an extensive set of recommendations to bring our maxed out credit card into balance. I wonder if anyone on it considered redeeming our Membership Rewards points to do this. We must have enough now to at least pay for the flight to China, so that we can then bust open the main cabin door and hose them down with all their gobs of money. If they did mull this one over, they didn’t opt for it. Read the rest of this entry »

What’s All The Hub(bub)?

In Television on December 12, 2010 at 10:08 pm

Oh my God, I love The Hub. It’s only two months old, but it’s already a fixture of my TV diet.

What is The Hub?  It’s a new cable channel that plays all these shows from back in the day.

If you’re like me, you probably didn’t even realize you were longing for Doogie Howser and Wonder Years reruns, but you were. Or Fraggle Rock! Man, that Muppet-derived funfest takes me back. Seriously, has Fraggle Rock even been on American TV since it aired on HBO in the 80s? And, in the premiere of Doogie, Neil Patrick Harris throws his driving test to speed to the scene of an accident, push a cop away, and fix some dude’s leg. You can’t make this stuff up, though I guess Steven Bochco and David E. Kelley did in 1989.

What else? Family Ties, which New York magazine also noticed. (Seriously, the writers of their Approval Matrix and I have algorithmically similar tastes in cultural consumption.) There are also a few shows from before my time like Laverne & Shirley, the original 60s “Pow! Kaboom!” Batman, and Happy Days. Then again, who doesn’t know the Fonz?

Sure, some of this stuff may be on Hulu or iTunes, but you are less likely to know it’s there and seek it out than stumble on it on TV. Read the rest of this entry »

Carson Daly: Not A Douchebag?

In Television on October 1, 2010 at 9:21 am

I have an admission to make. I do this at great personal risk and I fully expect friends to disown me. Okay, here goes.

I’ve written before about how I’ve been up late some nights. In that vein, I’ve recently caught pieces of Last Call, Carson Daly’s half-hour show, on after Jimmy Fallon’s incarnation of Late Night. And I have to say, it’s not bad. In fact, it’s pretty good. There’s more, and please don’t banish me from the Internet after I say it: underneath it all, I’ve actually always thought that Daly was a cool guy.

There, I said it. Before you renounce me, give me a chance to make my case.

Read the rest of this entry »