Friday, August 29, 2008
The former X-Files star seemed relaxed and laid back throughout the press conference, which took place on the show's non-descript sound stage hidden far from the usual L.A. studios. He got downright playful when asked about all the nude scenes in the series, suggesting being naked in front of the cameras embarrassed him and that "sex is ridiculous looking behaviour," or, at least, "when I do it, it's funny looking."
Apparently that didn't prevent him from doing it.
When Duchovny was asked this past July at press tour if he considered his marriage to Tea Leoni to be some kind of role model for Hollywood unions (the two have been married 11 years, which is around 40 in human years) he seemed to wince. He basically waved off the suggestion, saying he wasn't an expert in that area.
He also pointed out that what he liked about his Californication character, Hank Moody, was that, despite all the bed hopping, he was really monogamous. The guy was loyal to his ex-Karen, when he was with Karen.
I honestly remember thinking at the time that Duchovny was probably downplaying any suggestion that he was an ideal husband because, sooner or later, some scandal or affair would surely emerge and he didn't want to look like a hypocrite. He's David Duchovny, for Pete's sake--what chick doesn't want to sleep with Mulder.
That he couldn't always resist temptation makes him as big and ugly as the rest of us. That he is secure enough to go public with his addiction now takes guts. (Think of the "Californication Star Can't Stop Fornicating" headlines that will surround every cash register in North America by Monday).
Hopefully the treatment will be effective and he can repair the relationships that matter the most to him. His buddy Gary Shandling has probably already called to ask for Duchovny's little black book now that he won't be needing it anymore. Hopefully he came up with something funnier.
Duchovny probably can use the laughs right now. Seeking treatment could cost him. One editor at a family friendly magazine I write for just emailed today to tell me they had to yank my Duchovny piece out of their October issue.
The 48-year-old actor talks of how he admires Hank Moody's ability to not care about what other people think, to be a "bowling ball that knocks things down." In the weeks to come, he'll need a little of that moxie.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Rogers, which acquired City-TV in the fallout of the CRTC decision to allow CTV to purchase CHUM, just doesn't think Ed fits with their brand. Truth is, he probably scares the crap out of the folks at Rogers, who seem intent on re-branding feisty little City into bland Omni 3.
Love him or hate him, you just never know what is going to come flying out of Ed's mouth, which is why fans love him and network executives fear him. There's just no way to muzzle the sock.
I've known Ed since he was a little bootie. He started out over 20 years ago as a goofy invention of Steve Kerzner, way back when Steve was the Doogie Howser of Newton Cable, a teen Tartikoff of Toronto community programming.
All these years later and here are the facts: Ed's Night Party, in its various incarnations, is the longest-running weekly comedy series and longest-running late night show in Canadian TV history.
Kerzner called the other day to bring me up to date on the Ed front. Sounds like there are lots of opportunities ahead, although Kerzner was off the record on most of it, waiting for deals to be signed, official announcements to be made, etc. But know this: Ed will be back, on radio, on TV and on the Internet.
In the old days Kerzner would have burned City-TV to the ground behind him. Older and wiser, he made a smart exit, telling reporters the split was mutual and there were no hard feelings. Truth was even Kerzner will admit that the wank tank and other Ed excesses needed to be scrubbed.
In the Toronto market on a Friday night, a parade of porn stars had driven Ed beyond established network hits like The Tonight Show. Kerzner knew what reeled the young male demo in, but also yearned for the days Ed could rip pretentious videos to bits as a MuchMusic sock star. He's missed there, and should get that old Fromage year-ender gig back.
A big draw in recent years on Ed & Red is Red, a.k.a. Mrs. Kerzner, Liana K, Ed's curvy co-star. Ed's had a lot of co-hosts over the years but Liana had the sass (not to mention sex appeal) to stick. Kerzner says his Missus is as much in demand as he is and will work sockless in an upcoming reality show on Ripe-TV, an on-demand enterprise Kerzner likens to the early, maverick days at City.
Kerzner will also finally get to leave the sock behind as he ventures over to CFRB radio for a "Steve & Liana" talk show. Other broadcasters, some pretty surprising, are also in talks for future projects.
So, bottom line, change is good, for people and socks. Here's to Ed--long may he run.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
The No. 1 show the past two summers in Toronto wasn't on CTV, Global or CBC--it was Hell's Kitchen, the chef Gordon Ramsey cooking and yelling reality series which airs on now Rogers-owned City-TV.
Hell's Kitchen even outdrew CBC's Stanley Cup finals (No. 2) in Toronto last spring. It outdrew reruns of House and new episodes of Big Brother on Global. It creamed Canadian Idol, whose results show did not even make the Toronto top 20 this summer. (The Idol audition show average limped in at No. 14.)
Last summer, Hell's Kitchen ranked first ahead of the Stanley Cup finals (2), House (3) and three episodes of Big Brother (4-6). Two episodes of So You Think You Can Dance followed. (All data EMA ratings from BBM Neilsen Media Research, 18-49, last weekend in May through the second week of August).
Torontonians also seem to split their viewing pretty evenly between CTV and Global in the summer. While Global has no summer shows in the Top 5, they have nine out of the next 15, including House (7), Big Brother (8 and t10) and surprisingly resilient Sunday Fox comedies Family Guy (9) and The Simpsons (11). Summer pickup Wipeout earned a tie for 17th spot. Global also got strong rerun play from Bones (t15) and cartoon comedies King of the Hill (t17) and American Dad (21).
CTV, on the other hand, only got a summer bounce from one of their strong rest-of-season performers--CSI: NY (t13). CSI: Miami, on the list last summer, has slipped off the Top 20 radar. With two airings of So You Think You Can Dance (both tied for third spot) and just renewed for a second season Flashpoint (No. 5) they did grab five of the Top 20 spots, plus one A Channel pickup (America's Got Talent at 17).
City has three, Hell's Kitchen plus a double pump of The Bachelorette (t10 and 15). CBC has three, including this summer's Olympic Prime coverage (No. 6), although that only counted the first four nights of The Games. CBC's Olympic numbers went up in the second week when Canada won all those medals.
Still, it is doubtful even CBC's full Olympic coverage will topple Hell's Kitchen from its gold medal run this summer in Toronto. The conclusion? Hogtown loves Brit chefs who yell at people on TV. Guess it makes us feel better about dining out so often.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
The night before, Curtis' 1959 classic Some Like It Hot played to a packed street on a giant outdoor screen at the festival. He was also in town to promote another Festival screening, The Jill & Tony Curtis Story, a new documentary about the May-Dec. love affair of Curtis and his wife Jill Vandenberg, a six foot blonde who is 42 years his junior and who has involved the screen legend in her campaign to save horses.
Curtis had been at press tour earlier this summer as a guest of TCM (where he can often be heard in those between-movie vignettes paying homage to one of his idols, Cary Grant). After concentrating on painting in recent years (some Curtis canvas' sell for 25 grand), he seems, with a new autobiography on the horizon, anxious to remind folks of his movie star past.
He certainly still knows how to make an entrance. About 50 or 60 people, press and citizens, mainly older folks, had gathered in front of the Festival platform where Curtis was to appear. As he emerged with a small party from an elevator, he came rolling up from behind and made a B-line to two older fans who had parked their wheelchairs at the back of the session. Curtis shook their hands, made a fuss over them, posed for photos and just generally bonded with his wheel buddies at the back. It was one of the most touching, classiest, sweetest acts I've ever witnessed in decades of chasing stars. It was a real mensch moment.
The press session was anticlimactic. Once on stage Curtis rose to his feet just to show he could still stand and then sat down again. The festival spokesperson at his right barely introduced him before throwing to questions. Curtis answered every one, sitting patiently while everything was translated into French. "I don't speak French," said Curtis, "but I'll answer anything you like."
He was asked, for the umpteenth time, about working with Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot. Curtis discreetly told how he and Monroe had dated as Hollywood newcomers, he 22, she 20, and then met years later when she was a big star on their film together. He very diplomatically explained how some actresses cannot handle stardom and that Monroe was crushed by her fame. He stated there was no way she was murdered, as some have speculated, it was all just more than she could handle.
Unfortunately, time constraints forced me to bail before asking my question: Did Curtis really once say that kissing Monroe in Some Like it Hot was "like kissing Hitler"? It would have seemed a bit churlish to bring it up at such a love-in but who knows when I'll have a chance to ask him again. If he said it, Curtis was likely referring to the difficulty Monroe had at that point of her life in just getting to the set on time and how she forced all her co-stars to wait until director Billy Wilder (or her various acting coaches) could pull a performance out of her.
Curtis went on to say that he had once shot a film in Montreal but couldn't remember the name of it. It was probably in the '60s, he thought, and he might have played a boxer. He did recall ordering two suits while in the city and that he dated two lovely young women from Montreal (probably at the same time).
He also singled out co-star Jack Lemmon as one of his favorite actors, along with Grant, Errol Flynn and surprise choice Stewart Granger, who Curtis remembered as someone with incredible sensitivity. "If something was bothering him in his personal life at the time, you could always see it in his perform ace," said Curtis.
My son, Daniel, who is 15 and who has been forced to watch (over and over again) my 16mm print of 40 Pounds of Trouble (starring Curtis and directed by Norman Jewison), was by far the youngest person at the 0pen-to-the-public press conference. He thought it was pretty cool to see a real live movie star, but he thought it was even cooler that Curtis was so kind to the strangers at the back. They don't make them like that any more.
The Festival Des Films Du Monde Montreal runs until Sept. 1; for more info check out http://www.ffm-montreal.org/.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
What is she studying? What else--communications. The apple doesn't fall far from the crab apple tree. Please donate to her college fund here.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
The Games have drawn an average audience of about 30 million a night on NBC itself, millions more on NBC’s cable channels, 30 million unique visitors to NBC’s Olympics Web site, 6.3 million shared videos from the coverage streamed on the site and an ultimate profit that network executives project will surpass $100 million.
Carter concludes The Games, nimbly hosted by Bob Costas, have been worth every penny of the $894 million NBC Universal paid to get them. No kidding--as the NBC publicity department has been shouting, the Peacock network hasn't had audiences like this in over 20 years. The headline yesterday declared last week's NBC victory "the most dominant primetime week in people meter history."
NBC Universal chief executive Jeff Zucker declared the huge ratings "proves the pipes still work" in terms of network TV's ability to draw a major audience--something that has been called into question in recent years with big ticket items like the Oscars, Emmys and even American Idol shedding viewers. CBS CEO Les Moonves also saw NBC's Olympic haul as a good sign for TV, telling the Times, "Anybody who doubts the viability of network television after this is nuts.”
Well, as Quick Draw McGraw used to say, hold on there, Baba Looey. As The Hollywood Reporter's James Hibberd points out in his blog, it was also the lowest week ever for NBC's network competitors, ABC, CBS and Fox.
From the ratings week ending Aug. 17, ABC, CBS and Fox each had their lowest-rated and least-watched week in recorded People Meter history (which almost certainly means their all-time lowest; People Meters were rolled out in 1987 and broadcast averages have eroded significantly since then). Fox's 3.2 million average marks the lowest-ever turnout for a major network; ABC's 1.1 rating represents the lowest rated in the adult demo.
NBC's big Olympic win is great for NBC and the Olympics but the real medals will be earned in September when NBC's fall schedule kicks in. Will all those Olympic promos for Knight Rider and that new Christian Slater series My Own Worst Enemy drive those rookies into the winner's circle? Or will viewers shrug and walk back downstairs in front of their computer screens once the Olympics are over?
As Carter points out, NBC stacked the deck at these games, with Sports head Dick Ebersol arm twisting the Chinese into scheduling Michael Phelps dramatic swim events in the morning so that they could be seen live in U.S. prime.
In Canada, CBC's Olympic numbers stumbled out of the gate but have picked up as Canada started winning medals. The spectacular opening ceremonies, hosted by unflappable Ron MacLean, failed to crack a million viewers or the Canadian Top 10 for the week. As Chris Zelkovich reports in Tuesdays Toronto Star, however, "There's nothing like a flood of medals to get the blood flowing, the national pride surging and the television ratings soaring." Viewership peaked over the 2.5 million mark over the weekend, with CBC's prime time average up over 1.3 million, ahead of both the 2004 Games in Athens and the 2000 Games in Sydney.
Still, if NBC can draw as many as 30 million, the Canadian broadcaster could reasonably expect to draw 3 million. CBC is not even close. If the message is that the Olympics are still the magnet that pulls viewers back to TV, what's wrong with CBC's magnet? One problem, of course, is that Canadian viewers can choose to watch their local NBC affiliates coverage of the games, and many Canadians have become just as invested in the American stories. NBC does a good job of hooking viewers with personal stories, with all those close ups of teary-eyed gymnasts. CBC's coverage is more international, perhaps more in the spirit of the Games, but when it comes to viewers, apparently you can't beat being on that podium and waving that flag.
The big winner could be CTV, which has the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games and should see a simulcast, same time zone bonanza like no other Games coverage. They'll also benefit from a much stronger Canadian performance on the snow and ice. We're better in winter sports, eh?
My own observation of these Games is that they are made for HDTV. The venues and vistas have been stunning and the camerawork intimate and amazing. It all looks awesome on hi-def and on the wider 16:9 ratio. More people have hi-def now, and apparently they're all tuned to The Games.
Olympic talk make up part of today's conversation with CHML's Scott Thompson, who also gets into this whole CRTC approving a new Canadian porn license thing. Canadian actors getting into porn? Does this mean we're going to see Brent Butt's butt? Ignore that joke if you can and listen in here. Let the porn games begin.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Krupnick covered TV longer than most, starting in the early '50s and lasting until his retirement in 1998. He was the guy asking the questions when it was Lucy and Desi and Gleason and Carney and Berle and Bonanza (Sepinwall has a great Lucy story in the obit), and he was still at it when Fox and HBO started changing the game in the '90s.
By the time I started attending the semi-annual TCA press tours in the mid-'80s he was like the Pope of press tour. You didn't have to kiss his ring, but plenty of network publicists seemed prepared to kiss his ass. His wife of 58 years, Phyllis, was a fixture in the press room, often working the phones like the place was her own private office. (She would have hated this last press tour; the networks finally pulled the free phones out of that room for good.) Mrs. Krupnick also took more than a few meals with critics, as I recall, and was not shy about collecting a second hat or T-shirts or any of the other trinkets the networks used to heap on scribes back in the day. Network publicists would routinely prep two of everything for the duo. They were a package deal, the Paul and Linda McCartney of the press tour, and nobody was going to tell the guy from Jersey his wife didn't belong in the room.
This was mainly out of respect for Krupnick, who earned his advantage. He had that edgy, Jersey, son-of-a-gun thing going for him; he looked like a veteran corner man at a prize fight.
Whenever he asked a question during a session, it usually brought a bracing slap of common sense to the proceedings. Krupnick had a terrific bullshit detector and wasn't afraid to use it. He was old school, pre-Watergate, just good old fashioned adversarial. He may have had bags full of network goodies in both hands, but he put them down long enough to punch out a show.
There are few voices like his left in the room. Tom Jicha, from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, has the strongest one today. Jicha can still size up a panel and take them down with one question like nobody else. This past July, while the CNN panel was busy patting themselves on their backs over their presidential election coverage, he asked this Hall of Fame question: "Why did it take a skit on Saturday Night Live to change the tone of the Democratic primary Coverage?"
The panel stumbled and handed off and ducked and denied and a full transcript page later Jicha and the rest of the room had their answer. It was the kind of a question you could build a whole Saturday theme piece around. It was the kind of a hard ball Krupnick used to deliver. Condolences to his wife, three sons and five grandchildren.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
TV critics rarely get gooey or sentimental. Something to do with having to review too many stupid summer shows involving Japanese obstacle courses, has-been celebrities in "Big Brother"-style homes or, say, another season of "Gossip Girl."
But when the Smothers Brothers took the stage at last month's Television Critics Association Awards in Los Angeles, it was as close to a TV love-in as you can get.
For many of us in the room, the Smothers were a reminder of why we got into the TV review business in the first place. They were the ones who first showed us that TV could be entertaining for the whole family, and still be courageous and outspoken.
They were also the ones who paid for it. As critic David Bianculli - currently writing a book about the Smothers -said while introducing them at the awards, they were never cancelled, they were fired. They were the tiger CBS had by the tail in the late '60s, when their variety series dared to be what no other entertainment show was during that turbulent time - relevant.
You can read the full Smothers Brothers post here, except for the following few lines which got cut. (CP tends to cut anything to0 "me-me-me," which generally I agree with, but occasionally, well, hell, I guess this is why blogs were invented. In any event, the CP story goes on to talk about the Smothers' stand against the Vietnam War and the U.S. government on their late-'60s variety hour and how that cost them their TV show (although they later sued CBS for wrongful dismissal--and won millions in a settlement).
The CP story ends with the line: “Everybody has a time to stand up and that was our time,” says Tommy.
What was cut:
For me, as a viewer, it was a time to stay up; as a 10, 11-year-old, seeing the Smothers on a Sunday night meant extending bedtime for an hour beyond “The Ed Sullivan Show.” But even as a kid I knew something special was happening, something captured like a time capsule on this DVD box set. “It was an event,” agreed Tommy, “because something could be said that wasn’t being said. And that was cool.”
The DVD comes out at the end of the month but Time/Life are taking pre-orders now. You can order it here and thank me later.
Both Tom and Dick stayed long past last month's TCA Awards and shared many stories about the bad old days, including Tommy's account of that infamous John & Yoko bed-in in Montreal in 1969 where he would up singing and playing on "Give Peace A Chance." More on that in an upcoming post.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
GABE SACHS: I haven't heard that. I don't think anything happened. She was exhausted from having the baby. And again, I've said, you know, before we were E-mailing and brainstorming on stuff, you know, on her character and I think that when she's up for it, she'll be in. That's my understanding.
QUESTION: So you have a contract with her? Is she actually on the show?
GABE SACHS: Where are those people (looking in audience)? Yeah. We have a --
JEFF JUDAH: Yeah. We have a deal.
Insiders tell me that Tori was hired to reprise her role as fashion boutique owner Donna Martin for just "$10,000-$20,000" per episode. But then Jennie Garth and Shannen Doherty were signed for "$35,000-$50,000" a show. When Tori found out her former co-stars were getting paid way more than she was, she got pissed and demanded equal pay. But the network suits have refused. So now my sources tell me that Tori has pulled out of the series...
Monday, August 11, 2008
Friday, August 8, 2008
Mind you, the blond bombshell was 4,000 or so kilometres away.
Anderson was in a Vancouver hotel room doing interviews to promote her new TV series Pam: Girl on the Loose (airing Sunday evenings on E). I was sitting in the shade at a picnic table at a cottage on Ontario's Bruce Peninsula, frantically jotting down the broken conversation while struggling to get clear cellphone reception.
Not being able to see Anderson during an interview is just plain wrong. Barely being able to hear her is perhaps less tragic but also wrong when her words are why you are being assigned to write the story in the first place.
Plus - and this didn't surprise me because I have spoken with her in the past - she's a great interview.
Read all about it here.