Mr. Coogans Monday Groove Tube Update 06.21.04

Questions I considered while writing this latest Groove Tube Update:

** Another network airing “Family Guy” repeats? Is this a good thing? Or too much of a good thing?

** When can we classify Jenny McCarthy as a “has been?” Apparently, not just yet .

** Why is TBS airing edited repeats of “Sex in the City”? As outstanding and well-written as the show was, part of the reason it worked so well is because of the SEX!

If you want your “Buffy” craving fixed, this may help

As reported in the new issue of TV Guide magazine the animated “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” series is back on the drawing board with Sarah Michelle Gellar erased from the cast.

According to sources close to the magazine, the Chosen One opted not to reprise her title role, leading creator Joss Whedon to recruit Giselle Loren (the video-game voice of Buffy) to “mouth off” alongside original cast members Alyson Hannigan, Nicholas Brendon and Anthony Stewart Head in the pilot. It is expected to be released some time in July for potential distributors.

For those interested, pictures are available exclusively in the latest TV Guide magazine.

Could a show like this do well if it’s picked up by one of the networks? I’m sure hardcore Buffy fans and those interested in animated shows based on comic books will turn out in droves for something like this, no matter who picks it up. However, I think that’s where the appeal ends. If a live action “Buffy” with beautiful, young people and outstanding story telling couldn’t attract 10 million viewers per week, it seems doubtful that an animated version would fare that much better. Nonetheless, the WB, UPN or one of the cable channels would probably love to jump on a show like this and I’m sure that’s what will happen.

How is Fox doing with their summer lineup after Week One?

Interestingly, the answer to that question is “pretty good.”

While it’s extremely doubtful that any of Fox’s new shows are going to dominate the ratings like “American Idol” routinely does or even achieve the critical acclaim and buzz that “The O.C.” did last summer, it appears that Fox’s decision to debut a slew of new original shows for this summer is paying off in the ratings.

Most notably, the first two episodes of the Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie led “The Simple Life 2” where the two socialites and wannabe actresses attempt to complete a road trip from Florida to southern California with no cash, credit cards, or cell phones to guide them along the way, just the truck they’re driving and the tiny trailer they are dragging from behind. Since they don’t have any money, they have to take a series of menial jobs to get some quick cash to help them pay for the little things they need along the way like food, gas for the truck, and make up for their faces. The first episode secured 8.1 million viewers and the second episode got an audience of 9.8 million bringing the average for the night to just under nine million viewers.

Here’s a question though Will future ratings be affected after young Paris made her long awaited appearance on “The Late Show” with David Letterman? If you missed it, she basically said she’s playing a character that people want to see and that she isn’t as stupid as the show might portray her. I’m sure some people will be a little upset by the revelation seeing as it’s supposed to be “reality television” and part of the charm of the show is the fact these girls appear to be completely clueless in real life situations. However, considering her ridiculously coddled upbringing that involved maids, servants, and a life that was never less than first-class, I’m sure she’s flying by the seat of her pants much more than she leads on. She’s done more work on her two seasons of “The Simple Life” than she did in the rest of her life outside the shows combined. She definitely has no idea what she’s going 75% of the time. She may play up to the camera (as just about anyone would in that situation), but she’s definitely not as smart as she leads on either at least when it comes to cleaning toilets and babysitting children

Nonetheless, the popularity of the show will likely carry on and that’s outstanding news for the two other risky comedies that Fox picked up: “Quintuplets” starring Andy Richter and “Method and Red” starring rappers Method Man and Redman. The dreadfully formulaic and not particularly funny “Quintuplets” secured a surprising 7.1 million viewers in its debut episode and “Method & Red” obtained eight million in its own right. Are the surprising numbers due to the popularity of “The Simple Life” lead-ins? Is it due to just curiosity of the viewers wishing to try something new? Or is it more likely that the stars and the content alone are carrying the shows to those surprising numbers? Personally, I think it’s a combination of the first two rather than saying the shows are great and could stand alone by themselves. “Quintuplets” isn’t very funny and horribly predictable while “Method & Red” achieves laughs strictly from tired ghetto rapper and uptight WASP stereotypes that are probably better suited for a “Saturday Night Live” skit rather than a weekly half-hour comedy series.

Then there is the new Monday lineup which features prime time soap opera, “North Shore” at 8:00 and another Mark Burnett reality creation, “The Casino” at 9:00. Their subsequent first airing on Monday, June 14th averaged about 5.9 million viewers with “North Shore” slightly more viewers than the reality show set in Las Vegas. Apparently, that’s right inline with Fox’s projections. “North Shore” seems more likely of the two shows to survive because of the soap opera type of storylines could develop into some intriguing television. “The Casino” could morph into a much better show than its sister show, “The Restaurant.” That’s primarily because the two former Internet millionaires seem much more likable, and for the sake of interest, much more clueless of exactly what they’re getting into than Rocco DiSpirito, the obnoxious restaurant owner in the NBC reality series that was pulled off the air earlier this year

Finally, Fox’s newest legal drama, “The Jury,” brought to the air by famed production duo, Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana has struggled in its first several original airings. Fox isn’t terribly surprised by the lack of turn out considering the show was competing against a highly competitive NBA Finals series between the Detroit Pistons and Los Angeles Lakers. Considering the Finals was the highest rated series in several years, Fox may have a point in not giving up on the show as of yet. However, if the show continues to only average 4.2 million viewers per episode, it may not live to see the rest of the summer.

Overall, has Fox done a good thing here? If the network keeps its expectations moderately low, they could be pleasantly surprised with the results of their new aggressive summer programming strategy. The jury is certainly out though (no pun intended that time ). It’s probably best to put this aside until about Labor Day or so to see how many of these new shows have survived the season

Well, I guess this wasn’t that much of a secret after all

Last week, I talked about Mark Burnett’s latest reality project, “Rock Star,” an “American Idol” type talent show devoted to the rock genre of music instead of the saccharin pop music that the Fox show forces people to endure. However, unlike “Idol” instead of getting a solo recording contract, the grand prize winner will become the lead singer of a leading, well-known rock group whose name was not released initially and it was a huge secret. Well, that all changed shortly after I discussed the news as Burnett told several media sources that the group looking for a lead singer is none other than: INXS.

Apparently, the remaining members of the band actually approached Burnett about the project and the famed producer was more than happy to work his magic and sign on for what could be a very interesting show.

After a hugely successful run in the 80s and early 90s, the group has largely floundered since its lead singer, Michael Hutchence committed suicide in 1997. The group sang with Terrence Trent D’Arby on several occasions and toured with Jon Stevens, former frontman for fellow Aussie band Noiseworks, as its lead singer. However, all this was done with very little fanfare and nothing matching the glory they experienced at the height of their success. The hope appears to be that working with Burnett and his production company, they can get back on the music industry and popular culture radar screens again.

As I said last week, I think it’s a fantastic idea unless Burnett thinks he’s so good, he would want whatever network picking up the talent contest/reality show to compete for eyeballs with juggernaut “American Idol.” This would serve much better as a summer or fall show as it would likely generate some of its own hype instead of having to share it with the elephant in the room. Whether you think that’s Simon’s ego, Randy’s waistline, or Paula’s penchant for being nice to everyone is entirely up to you.

And the cast has been set it truly is a “Surreal Life “

“The Surreal Life” is switching networks, but it’s coming back for Round 3 of D and E List celebrity fun.

VH-1 is taking the show off the WB’s hands but is bringing back six more people that I suppose could be considered as celebrities, or maybe celebrity has been’s. Either way, this is the roster of who will be in the house for season three, set to debut September 5th.

**Jordan Knight – Former New Kid on the Block heartthrob who’s using “The Surreal Life” as a huge PR stunt to set up his latest solo tour that will commence later this year.

**Flavor Flav – Public Enemy rapper and pretty much the mortal enemy in the late 1980s and early 1990s to Jordan Knight and his group. Those two “playing nice” will be fun to watch

**Dave Coulier – Former Nickelodeon star in the 1980s before moving to a long run as Joey Gladstone on ABC’s family friendly “Full House.”

**Brigette Nielsen – In addition to starring in Red Sonja and Beverly Hills Cop II, this blonde beauty also briefly was Mrs. Sylvester Stallone during the mid-1980s and Mrs. Ivan Drago in Rocky IV.

**Charo – The Spanish actress who’s known for her many appearances on “Love Boat” and her “cuchi-cuchi” hip-shaking.

**Ryan Starr – According to “Surreal Life” form, producers always choose a contestant/participant from another old reality show and this one is no different. Ryan Starr is a reject from the first season of “American Idol” who couldn’t decide if her name was “Ryan Star” or “Ryan Starr.” It appears she’s officially chosen.

This certainly looks like one hell of a cast. I’m not sure if anything can top porn star Ron Jeremy’s interactions with well just about anyone from Season 2 of “The Surreal Life” but I’m sure this crew will make their own memories. And the best part? Since it’s on VH-1, it will be on at least 12 times per week!

The latest “Bachelor” becomes a bachelor again

OK this is getting ridiculous. “Bachelor” #5 and current New York Giants Quarterback, Jesse Palmer, and Jessica Bowlin, the 22-year-old law student he picked out of 25 single women on ABC’s “The Bachelor,” have already broken up less than two months after the final episode aired nationally.

According to multiple sources, including syndicated entertainment program, “Extra”, the two split amicably and will continue to remain friends as they pursue their interests on opposite sides of the country (him playing with the New York Giants and her attending law school in California). Palmer said the following:

Jessica and I shared an incredible romantic journey on the show that began with a friendship that remains strong today. We simply realized that, individually, our next steps take us in different directions.

So, if you’re keeping track at home, all five “Bachelors” that have been on the ABC reality show have broken up with the women they chose at the end of each seasons. Sure, the network and show producers can’t force the participants to stay together and live happily ever after if that’s not destined to happen. That’s more than understandable, it’s expected. However, it may get to the point that people may end up losing interest in the show because they may think “Why should I invest my time in this show and the stories being told about the people involved if they aren’t going to live ‘happily ever after?'” I suppose it wouldn’t make that much of a difference if the show was scripted and all the people involved merely played imaginary characters. On the other hand, the show is positioned as in the “reality” genre. While I’m sure real feelings are involved in this process, the more of these shows that go on where the happy final couple break up, the more people are going to be able to look at this show as merely a fairy tale type story that ends well when the cameras are on, but ends poorly when the cameras are off. If they aren’t going to follow the couple through the duration of their relationship, it doesn’t fully define a “reality show.” The two people breaking up is more “reality” than the two getting together, especially considering the exotic dates the network springs for to add a romantic effect. Maybe the network should reclassify the show in a new genre of show: “The fairytale.”

Ironically, both Trista Rehn and Meredith Phillips are still with the men they picked from the two seasons of “The Bachelorette.” In fact, Rehn and her beau, Ryan Sutter, had their marriage broadcast on national television and Rehn has since moved to Sutter’s hometown of Aspen, CO to allow him to carry on with his life, while she pursues other business opportunities there. THAT’S how “happily ever after” is defined. If ABC is interested in protecting the integrity of the reality genre, maybe they should seriously consider more seasons of “The Bachelorette” instead of “The Bachelor.” After all, the women seem to do a much better job picking men than the men of the women.

Just an observation

In a surprise to no one, the revamped “Man Show” is done

Here’s a little story

In the Spring of 1999, I was interning in the PR department at Comedy Central. It was an interesting and fun time for me as I got to meet some famous comedians, attend some show tapings, take part in some cool projects, and work with some real nice people. In what was one of the more interesting tasks, I watched the pilot of a little program called “The Man Show” starring the sidekick on MTV’s “Loveline” (Adam Carolla) and the sidekick on Comedy Central’s “Win Ben Stein’s Money” (Jimmy Kimmel), who apparently have a history together in Los Angeles. I thought the show was pretty funny, but the first thing I immediately thought was “How in the hell are the people involved going to continue put together testosterone related comedy for an entire season or beyond?” It was rude, crude, and not exactly 100% respectful of women as people, but it was in good fun and ambitious of the network to put a different kind of show on the air. I didn’t think it would last, but I gave credit where credit was due

Well, it took almost five years and a major casting change, but I guess you could kind of say I was right it didn’t last.

According to Zap2it, Comedy Central told Stone and Stanley (also producers of “The Joe Schmo Show”) that the network would not be picking up a sixth season of “The Man Show” and that making additional episodes was not necessary. Essentially, the basic cable network said: You’re canceled.

My initial prediction obviously didn’t pay off though because when Adam Carolla and Jimmy Kimmel were hosting the show and doing much of the writing, the show succeeded and remained popular for four solid seasons. However, after Season 4, Jimmy Kimmel entered the competitive world of late night television for ABC and Adam Carolla moved onto “other projects,” an unfortunate vague term that hasn’t translated into anything substantial for the annoying, yet remarkably funny, comic. From there, producers hired relative unknown, Doug Stanhope and “Fear Factor” host, Joe Rogan to take over for the high profile hosts for a fifth season. It was a noble attempt, but one that probably should have been more thought out. Sure, the concept helped make it as successful as it was, but the Carolla/ Kimmel combination was what really made it a homerun for Comedy Central. Without replacing them with similar, well-known, well-established talent, the show didn’t stand much of a chance. That’s where we are today, remembering the history of the show instead of looking forward a sixth, seventh or even eighth season of it.

411wrestling’s Chris Biscuiti told me to write about this and wanted me to tell everyone how hard he marked out over the news

If the biggest inside joke in the television industry in years could be pulled off in a television drama dealing with murders in prison, Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana have done so with flying colors in an episode of their new Fox drama, “The Jury.”

The producing duo, who are responsible for the long running HBO prison drama, “OZ,” are reuniting 12 former cast members and guest stars of the critically acclaimed show to act as “The Jury” as they deliberate a case, fittingly, against a jailed convict accused of committing murder in a prison brawl. The episode is set to air June 29th.

The 12 guest stars formerly of “OZ” will include five high profile, deeply involved cast members George Morfogen (Bob Rebadow) Eamonn Walker (Kareem Said) J.K. Simmons (Vern Schillinger) Scott Winters (Cyril O’Reily), and muMs (Poet). In addition, the rest of the cast of that episode will include semi regulars who appeared through out the series such as Jenna Lamia (Carrie Schillinger) and Betty Buckley (Suzanne Fitzgerald) and others that had shorter runs including Jon Seda (Dino Ortolani), Stephanie Pope (Kina Spaite/Det. Nancy Mears), Elain Graham (Lenore Hughes), Natascia A. Diaz (Margarita), and Carlo Alban.

Is this necessarily a significant television event? Probably not for most people, especially considering “OZ,” while a remarkably riveting show, didn’t have the gross effect on popular culture the same way other HBO shows like “Sex in the City” and “The Sopranos” has. I don’t even think Fox will market the show as a “return to ‘OZ.'” Nonetheless, loyal and faithful fans of Levinson, Fontana, and “OZ” will certainly get a kick out of seeing the cast members reunite in completely different manner, playing different characters, yet slyly dealing with the same issues that the characters they played between 1997-2003 dealt with.

TV News as it relates to Kevin Smith!

I don’t normally comment on television advertising campaigns. However, I subscribe to Kevin Smith’s View Askew Productions mailing list and his most recent email included the following news bit about what Kevin is up to:

KEVIN SHOOTS ‘DECLARE YOURSELF’ PSA’S

So all this week, I’ve been working on Public Service Announcements (aka commercials) for this organization called Declare Yourself. It’s a non-partisan group founded by Norman Lear (the man who responsible for “All in the Family”, “Maude”, “Good Times”, “The Jeffersons” and so many other legendary TV shows) that, like “Rock the Vote” encourages people to register and be heard. Declare Yourself and Comedy Central have teamed up to produce a series of ads that are so simple even I could direct them.

So that’s what I did.

The concept is, essentially, “In the time it’s taken you to watch this, you could’ve been online, finding out how to register to vote.” Those helping us convey this message have been Zach Braff, Ray Romano, Adam Brody, Wanda Sykes, Larry David, Jeff Garlin, and Sarah Silverman. Today, we shoot Ben Affleck, Eliza Dushku, and a pair of stoners who’re coming out of semi-retirement for the cause. Then, I fly to NYC and shoot Amy
Poehler, Chris Rock, Chris Walken and David Cross.

They start airing in July. Pretty funny stuff. Keep an eye out for ’em.

To me, of all these comedy (and general acting) stars, one particular name is missing: George Carlin. This reminds me of something he has often said in his comedy (I’ll paraphrase): he doesn’t vote because if he does, then he has no right to complain about the assholes that get elected and constantly f*ck up in office.

It’s obvious that the comedians taking part in this campaign don’t exactly feel the same way that Mr. Carlin does or they wouldn’t be so willing to jump on the “Register to vote, you assholes!” bandwagon. Either that is the case, or some of the high profile comedians like Chris Rock and Wanda Sykes are simply trying to make themselves look good by telling all the nice people out in TV land to vote while still trashing whoever takes office. It does sound a little hypocritical, doesn’t it? I suppose it’s one thing if a comedian does vote and it’s for the guy who doesn’t win. Then, it’s even MORE FUN (and justified) to destroy the guy you didn’t vote for. However, wouldn’t you feel like a moron if your stand up act revolved around a guy that YOU voted for?

Anyway, even though I wish this talented group of people was devoting an ad campaign to curing Cancer, AIDS, or Diabetes, it’s still nice to see them get together for a cause I’m sure all the unique performers will come up with something great

Meanwhile, my time is up

* * * * I was around to get a column done this week, but I’ll definitely be out of town next week and most likely until after the Independence Day holiday I’m working on getting something together with another 411mania.com staffer for next Monday, but if it doesn’t work out, I’ll be sure to come back with another “Groove Tube Update” and “Q & A” right after the holiday! * * * *

And as always

Enjoy the show!

— Coogan