Mr. Coogans Weekend Groove Tube Update: 1/31/04

I heard a great point about the Super Bowl over the last few days on Fox Sports Radio. A listener called into the weekday evening show and wished the hosts of the show a “Happy Super Bowl Weekend.” The hosts, of course, loved this and immediately jumped on the bandwagon of wishing everyone a “Happy Super Bowl Weekend.” After all, the game has morphed into such a phenomenon, that it feels like a holiday just as Thanksgiving or Christmas are.

I know I’ve caught myself on several occasions asking the question: “So, what are you doing for the Super Bowl?” the same way I’ve asked “So, what are you doing for Christmas?”

Then, the same way I am shocked to hear “nothing” as a response when a friend or acquaintance tells me what they are doing for Christmas, I am equally shocked to hear that response when I ask what he/she is doing for the Super Bowl.

It’s become a day to embrace and enjoy sports, pizza, football, hot buffalo wings, laziness, Doritos, and other assorted vices that probably anger Richard Simmons or the master of Tae-Bo, Billy Blanks, to no end.

Is that a problem? I don’t know. I guess it depends if you consider our American society as one attempting to move towards healthy habits with the Atkins and Subway diets and assorted exercise programs leading the way. If you think that, then one day enjoying those vices isn’t going to be a problem, just a vacation.

However, if you think that America is still completely unaware of exactly what “healthy eating” is with super sized french fries, mozzarella sticks, and large combo pizzas comprising of a person’s diet, then this is probably just another significant loss in the ongoing “battle of the bulge.”

It’s interesting to consider, but I’ll be watching the football game.

Happy Super Bowl Weekend!

Go Pats!

Opening Credits: The Osbournes, “Karen Sisco”, Regis Philbin, and a “Mini”-series

As one Osbourne leaves the air, another jumps on board

According to TV Guide.com, Warner Bros. has canceled Sharon Osbourne’s syndicated talk show “The Sharon Osbourne Show” primarily due to meek ratings.

This isn’t an overwhelming surprise considering the low ratings, but apparently, Osbourne has had problems with Warner Bros. since the show began airing in the Fall of 2003. During the season premiere of the MTV reality series “The Osbournes,” (taped in October of 2003), Sharon expressed displeasure and concern that the “head guy” was grilling her and telling her that she needed to work harder at making a good show.

In addition, in December of 2003, Osbourne told USA Today that she asked out of her contract to be with her rocker husband, Ozzy, after ATV incident that left him critically injured. So, the Osbourne/Warner Bros. marriage appears to have been rocky from the very beginning. Sharon is probably better off managing her family’s careers (that’s her primary gig) and not being forced to work a regular Monday-Friday job anyway.

In the mean time, while Sharon is saying good-bye to a TV gig, it looks like daughter Kelly has signed on to take part in the ABC pilot, “Doing It.”

The show, based on the controversial novel by British author Melvin Burgess, is a “coming-of-age story that focuses on three teenage boys, with an emphasis on their sexual explorations.” In the series, Burgess’ 16-year-old characters — Dino, Jonathan, and Ben will be played by Sean Farris, Chris Lowell, and Jon Foster respectively.

According to multiple sources, Osbourne will play a love interest to Jonathan (Lowell). The reports did not say if this would be permanent or a guest star role, though it does appear to be permanent.

I wonder if she can act

Maybe it’s best not to think about it

Mr. and Mrs. Lachey now BOTH have deals with ABC

This week, the Hollywood Reporter published a story saying Nick Lachey, who with wife Jessica Simpson make up MTV’s two new best friends, has also just signed a development deal with ABC and its sister studio Touchstone TV. The agreement states that Lachey will star in a comedy or drama pilot. The arrangement also includes prime-time special that he and his wife (Simpson) will do for the network.

Lachey joins his wife Jessica in securing his own development deal. Her sitcom will be written by Gayle Abrams (“Frasier,”) and executive produced by former ABC and NBC executive Ted Harbert and Simpson’s father, Joe. Jessica’s deal came after “Newlyweds” scored strong ratings in its first season on MTV.

If this isn’t an example of jumping on the hottest thing available, I don’t know what is. Neither husband nor wife have any extensive acting experience signaling that both shows could be disasters once they air on the network. Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe they could have natural comedic acting skills.

I don’t think I’m wrong though

I hate obvious jokes but I have to use it: Fox is launching a “mini” series.

Several sources, including Zap2it, reported that Fox is set to debut a new reality show entitled “The Littlest Groom.” The show will resemble “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” in its (apparent) honesty and sincerity but will have twists similar to NBC’s “Average Joe.”

The premise of the new offering is that Glen, a 4-foot-5, 23-year-old tech support representative for a cellular company, is looking for love. He will have 12 women who could be designated as “little people” to choose from initially. However, the game will change significantly when several women of average height are thrown into the mix making it more of a tenuous decision.

The New York Post published a quote from the lucky bachelor:

This show fit with what my life was all about – I was completely looking for true love. Sure, this has a little twist because it’s people of short stature, but I think the average-sized person will look into the glass and see what it’s like to be a little person.

It’s not every day you see a little person – let alone get to know their personal lives. All I know is that I had a great time doing this show and never for a second felt exploited.

If someone is going to be close-minded, then they don’t know what reality is themselves. This is the world we live in – people need to get over themselves.

It should be quite interesting to see if this particular show catches on with the viewing audience the same way many of the other relationship reality shows have. Are the viewers really interested in looking into the personal lives of little people? Or is it similar to the analogy Zap2it made comparing this to P.T. Barnum’s 19th century circus show of “freaks” where people will be interested to see a group of people that vary so much from “the norm” and how they interact with each other?
I think the timeslot will be a key factor in determining whether this catches on. I think the audience will be much more willing to check it out if it isn’t up against strict, heavy competition (i.e. keep it away from Sunday and Thursday nights).

Regis is BACK BABY!

Several sources, including E! Online and Zap2it, have reported “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” is going to be coming back to ABC prime time for a limited run during February sweeps.

Kind of

This new installment will be known as “Super Millionaire.” Instead of the previous prime-time version (and current syndicated edition hosted by “The View’s” Meredith Vieira) which feature(d) $100 questions and a $1 million grand prize, the more elaborate “Super Millionaire” contestants win $1,000 if they get one question right and $10 million if they get all 15 questions correct.

The reports indicated that while the format will largely be the same, there will be some new wrinkles including some different lifelines.

And of course, the true symbol of the American franchise, the loud and lovable New Yorker, Regis Philbin will be back hosting the show and pounding contestants with insanely hard questions of trivia.

According to the reports, the show will premiere Sunday, February 22nd and air five episodes during that week.

In a statement, ABC Chairman Lloyd Braun said:

For months, we have been carefully monitoring the environment to determine if the time is right for a new, totally amped up version of “Millionaire”– broadcast in its original, event-like form. We think this is the time.

Well

I think the television viewing public has had time to live life without “Millionaire” being shoved down their throats five nights per week. I also think Regis will help bring more of an identity back to the show. Finally, I also think the larger prizes and rule changes will add some intrigue to the game.

HOWEVER, the wonderful aspect of “Millionaire” the first time it aired was that it was new, different, and exciting. After being aired too much, too often and then being shipped off into syndication, that’s not really the case anymore. There’s a certain “been there, done that” feel to it as far as I am concerned. So, I am not sure how much success this new version will have. I will say that as of now, ABC executives have the right idea by airing a few episodes and then (possibly) leaving the audience clamoring for more. We’ll just see if they actually are clamoring or not.

Ba Ba Wa Wa has had enough with 20/20.

Multiple sources including the New York Post and the Associated Press reported that Barbara Walters has had enough with the ABC Friday night weekly news magazine show, “20/20” and as of September of this year will leave the show. Instead, she will focus on her prime-time news specials and her dual Executive Producer/co-host role with the daytime gabfest, “The View.”

The New York Post noted that industry insiders were “shocked and surprised” by the mid-season announcement. There is some speculation that not only was she unhappy with the preparation required for a weekly newsmagazine show, but she was angry that she secured a plum interview with Democratic Presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and his wife but was forced to hand it off to her ABC News colleague, Diane Sawyer.

However, in a statement, ABC News President David Westin had nothing but kind things to say about Walters and appears to be welcoming this change. He said:

Barbara Walters has been an essential part of ’20/20,’ and therefore, part of the lives of millions of Americans for a quarter-century. All of us will miss her strength, her grace and her presence on Friday nights. But as much as we will miss her as anchor of “20/20,” we are just as delighted that we will see her in more primetime specials, where she will continue to contribute to television history.

I think that’s code for: “Thank God we didn’t lose her to NBC. I couldn’t imagine her and Katie Couric teaming up for any news specials ”

Quick Hits

RIP – Jack Paar, the man responsible for turning “The Tonight Show” that the establishment that it is today in 2004, passed away at his home in Greenwich, CT. He was 85.

In 1957, Paar moved over to NBC from CBS in an attempt to revive the poorly rated “Tonight” hosted by another television pioneer, Steve Allen. Paar was responsible for changing the format from more of a variety show that Allen was hosting to the more modern talk show format complete with the desk separating “host” and celebrity “guest.” That same gimmick is still used today on NBC’s “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno and many other shows including those hosted by David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Jon Stewart, and Jimmy Kimmel.

Paar was also the last man to host “The Tonight Show” before the invaluable Johnny Carson took over as host in 1962 When Carson heard of the passing, he said he was “very saddened to hear of his passing.”

In a statement, Carson also said:

He was a unique personality who brought a new dimension to late night television.

Mr. Paar deserves a tremendous amount of credit for his contributions to the television industry.

ABC f***s up. – In a somewhat surprising move, ABC has officially put its action/adventure drama, “Karen Sisco” to sleep. Based on the movie, Out of Sight, starring George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez, “Sisco” aired during the Fall of 2003 and was put on hiatus approximately midway through the season.

The network did announce that it would bring the show back for the second half of the season but apparently changed its mind because executives didn’t like the direction the show was going in the constructed scripts.

The critically acclaimed “Sisco” gets the ax and meanwhile, “Threat Matrix” continues to ruin the network’s Thursday night. Does this make sense?

The party (in the back) can now continue – Normally, when a network announces that one of their shows has been put on “hiatus” that is pretty kills any sort of future the show may have. Executives use that language primarily to save stars and key players the embarrassment from having their show “canceled.” Also, if something happens down the line, and the network decides to revive it, they aren’t bringing back a canceled show; it’s merely a show on “hiatus.” It sounds much better. However, “hiatus” usually means “end.”

Until now

UPN has decided to revive the critically panned in the front and loads of fun in the back show, “The Mullets” for Round 2. Beginning March 10th, “The Mullets” will air on Wednesdays at 8:30 PM right after a new computer animated series, “Game Over.” “Star Trek Enterprise” will move back to the 9:00 PM slot it held previously.

“The Mullets” will continue to star Loni Anderson, John Anderson (“Seinfeld”) and a bunch of guys wearing mullet wigs.

I hope this gets past the f***ing censors.– According to the New York Post‘s Michael Starr, the Fox network is considering implementing a five-minute delay on all live broadcasts to avoid assorted curse/swear words that may slip past network producers and censors.

Fox is rethinking their policy after failing to catch “The Simple Life’s” Nicole Ritchie saying this doozy of a statement at the Billboard Music Awards:

“They call it the simple life? Have you ever tried to get cow-s**t out of a Prada purse? It’s not so f***ing simple.”

To this day, I still don’t see what the f***ing big deal is about using assorted “curse words” like f*** and s***. They’re just f***ing words. Gimme a f***ing break

Whoops

What’s the deal with Ray? – Finally, It seems as if “Everybody Loves Raymond” except the two guys who will determine whether or not the show will return for the 2004-05 season. For those interested, you can get your “Raymond” news fix here.

Some quick words about “The Golden Globes

Sure, the Golden Globes were almost a week ago now, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have any comments about the proceedings. After all, the night provided entertainment industry insiders and followers some memories that will last us a couple of days.

— By the end of the night, any time a television category with an “Angels in America” actor or actress came up, it became painfully obvious that no matter who was nominated, that person was going to win. I’m not sure if that’s sad because it probably won on reputation alone or a real testament to how amazing the Mike Nichols directed HBO miniseries was. I’ll let you make that decision for yourself.

— Speaking of “Angels in America,” I loved Mary Louise Parker’s comment during her awards acceptance speech. She basically said that a fellow cast member bet her $1,000 that she wouldn’t have the gall to thank her newborn son for her boobs looking as good in the dress she wearing as they did. Classy

— I’m angry that “The Office” and Ricky Gervais won their respective categories. That isn’t to say I think the show was bad or didn’t deserve it because it is a BBC show. I’m just angry that I was never able to see a show nominated for one of the top awards in the television industry! Every time I check my local BBC America listings, it’s never on! Couldn’t they at least show the repeats?? They owe us THAT MUCH. Don’t they?

— Interestingly, just as “Angels in America” won everything in sight, “Will & Grace” lost everything in sight again. Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Sean Hayes, Megan Mullally, and the show itself all were nominated for awards and came up empty. Even the actors all noted in jest they never win the awards they are nominated for. When is that going to change? They all deserve at least ONE damn trophy!

— This isn’t television related, but I love this quote from Bill Murray after winning the lead actor in a comedy or musical award for Lost in Translation:

I would thank the people at Universal or Focus except there are so many trying to take credit for this, I wouldn’t know where to begin.

Touché

— The candidates in the best television drama category were “24,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “Nip/Tuck,” “The West Wing,” and “Six Feet Under.” I took a step back and thought about that a second. Those really are some great dramas that were nominated for the award and they all deserved to win Of course, “24” won though.

— Though he didn’t win, I liked that the Hollywood Foreign Press nominated James Brolin in the best actor in a miniseries category. This was despite all the controversy the miniseries “The Reagans” generated from conservative groups bent out of shape about the way Reagan was portrayed. It looks like the critics weren’t concerned about that in the slightest. Very interesting

— Is it me or does the television industry kind of the red-headed stepchild when it comes to the Golden Globes? Not only are there more awards devoted to movies, but the last 30 minutes of the telecast were devoted exclusively to movies awards. Can someone explain this to me without using the sentence: “Movies are more glamorous and therefore, should get more attention.”?

Closing Credits: Mr. Coogan looks at the Super Bowl his way

HBO Sports has produced a great series of sports specials for its network. In addition, to broadcasting the well-known series “Inside the NFL” and “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” the network has also produced several great news specials looking at significant sports moments. Some of these include the 1980 Winter Olympics United States gold medal hockey team and the controversy surrounding the 1972 Summer Olympics basketball gold medal game between the United States and the Soviet Union.

In the last couple of weeks, HBO debuted their latest sports special diving into the stories surrounding Super Bowl I, the January 1967 game between the National Football League (NFL) champion Green Bay Packers and the American Football League (AFL) champion, Kansas City Chiefs.

As I watched this special, a detailed, interesting, and well-scripted analysis of the football landscape at the time, I realized that the circumstances surrounding the game were completely different than those encompassing the game 37 years later.

First and foremost, when considering the history of the game, very little consideration is given to the fact that the NFL and the AFL had a very heated rivalry and the senior, more established league (the NFL) had a strong HATRED towards the junior, upstart league (the AFL) and very badly wanted to beat the tar out of the other league. Therefore, it became the NFL Champion’s (Packers) JOB to dismantle the AFL Champion (Chiefs) in that first game. Everyone associated with the NFL felt they had the better product and tradition and was genuinely offended that a league less than ten years old and known for crazy, silly gimmicks was considering itself in the same class of football. In addition, the upstart league secured its own television contract with NBC and began stealing the NFL’s players when they were being played more.

Overall, there was a general disdain the two leagues had for each other and that is completely different than what exists today, in 2004. After Super Bowl IV, the NFL officially absorbed the AFL and it became one larger league. At that point, the NFL became one large league with two separate conferences, the American Football Conference (AFC) and National Football Conference (NFC). The NFL won the football wars of the 1960s (and early 1970s) but progressively, the rivalry that existed between the two leagues dissipated and became significantly less important.

After all, consider this: During this two-week build up, has any player or coach from either the New England Patriots (the AFC representative) and the Carolina Panthers (the NFC representative) talked about how important it is to win so they can represent the conference that they are coming from? More often than not, players and coaches will talk about how winning the conference championship game is fine, but they will often use cliché terms like “the mission isn’t complete until we win one more game.” As time has gone on, everyone affiliated with the league has lost the idea of the league vs. league or conference vs. conference rivalry and has focused on merely doing their best to become world champions, which means winning the Super Bowl.

Second, the HBO special looking at Super Bowl I noted that the media coverage of that first big game was sparse at best. During the show, one old AFL public relations representative noted that on a bus designated for the media, two people were on the bus: one Associated Press reporter and the guy representing the AFL. The special also noted that when Green Bay Packers’ Head Coach Vince Lombardi had open media sessions, maybe five reporters would saunter up to his office and see if the coach had anything interesting to say about the game.

Compare that with the more than 2,000 media people who showed up to this week’s vaunted Super Bowl “Media Day,” a chance for the media to corner the players and ask them whatever they wanted. Not only were the normal American sports reporters there, but sports reporters from other countries were there, and reporters from places like MTV were also present. All of these media people came ready to ask the players and coaches the most ludicrous questions as possible partially for fun, partially to get a mention on one of the other media sources there trying to find a story on an event where media sources are there to find a story.

The week before the Super Bowl has become a convention of sorts where media, players, coaches (many who aren’t involved with the game), and even fans get to go to the Super Bowl site and soak in all sorts of promotional events and in the case of the media, try to drum material for their newspapers, magazines, or television stories. I bet the guys in taking part in Super Bowl I didn’t see that coming in the slightest.

Also, keep this staggering fact in mind: The first Super Bowl didn’t sell out the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, a stadium that often sold out when the Los Angeles Rams played there. In fact, there was somewhere between 25 and 30,000 EMPTY seats in the stadium that day. During the HBO special, several people interviewed mentioned that they bought cheap seats and were able to move down and towards the middle of the field since 1/3 of the stadium was empty.

In addition, part of the reason why the stadium was only 2/3 full had to do with the price of tickets. Apparently, $10.00 and $12.50 were too much to pay for the football championship of the world and several people noted that. Sure, that was almost 40 years ago but considering tickets for Super Bowl XXXVIII probably average somewhere between $500 and $1,000 has inflation and demand increased that much? Well, inflation, no. Demand, yes. That’s what is different about today’s Super Bowl from the game 37 years ago. No one cared in 1967 and in 2004 it is not only the premiere sporting events of the year, it’s one of the premiere SOCIAL events of the year. That would be considered preposterous at the time of that first big game.

While there are many other differences between 1967’s game and 2004’s game, I think there is one other difference worth pointing out. As the HBO special pointed out, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozell desperately WANTED Super Bowl I to be that superior football, sporting, and social event that it is today. It could be argued that Mr. Rozell was a little ahead of his time with his vision of the big game. Considering the fan and media participation in aspects of the game in 1967, he’d probably consider the event to be a mammoth failure. Thankfully, Rozell and the NFL remained patient and stayed with the idea as one that would work and catch on with the public.

What’s the point of all this analysis? The bottom line is to not only show how important of an event the Super Bowl is, but to also show how far the event has come in 37 years.

Oh yeah, and the HBO special did a pretty good job of helping us realize that too.

Since the Super Bowl is this weekend, I’ll wish everyone a “Happy Super Bowl Weekend!” and by the way

Enjoy the show!

— Coogan