The Weekly Pulse: Mr. Coogan's Groove Tube Update

I don’t care what anyone says, Jennifer C. DESERVED to go after the restaurant task on “The Apprentice 2.” I guess that makes this news story all the more pointless and worthless, huh?

THE OPENING CREDITS: The Dearth of Inside Pulse TV Content

** Some guy named Steve Coogan wrote an uplifting “promotional statement” for a little NBC show called “American Dreams.” By the way Mathan, Steve Coogan thanks you for your comment about his article”¦

** I liked this quote from Nick Warnock’s column this week:

Jennifer C.- It is pronounced Piat-sa not Pia-za. If you are going to fawn over the man at least get his name right.

He’s got a point.

Anyway, his position on the female contestants on “The Apprentice 2″ coincides with mine, so I definitely feel comfortable telling you to read his column. Definitely.

** I thought last week was an aberration, but apparently Chris from “The Amazing Race” really is this bitter about the state of reality television. But hot damn, his HTML tags are plentiful and spotless”¦

** Great job on your column, Jake!

** You too Helen. Glad to have you aboard!

** I don’t care what anyone says, I don’t know any other television related site that provides as much “Survivor” coverage as we do here at Inside Pulse TV. Sarah Quigley, Carlos, Dan Wentzel, and Patrick Gilchriest all have commentaries you can check out”¦here“¦

** If I don’t include a link to something Murtz wrote or did, I get ten lashings on the bottom, so please read and enjoy this. And if you can”¦listen too”¦

** Hey Bob“¦do you like “Veronica Mars” or not? Your review sucked me in primarily because I couldn’t tell if you loved it or hated it”¦

** Didey”¦I mean “Diane Falconi” loves the WB and isn’t afraid to show it.

** I LOVED Cheri’s latest column that was primarily about the Top 15 reality “celebrities” that have actually parlayed reality “fame” into somewhat of a successful career in the entertainment industry. I actually didn’t realize Kyle from the Chicago season of “The Real World” was on “Days of Our Lives” now. That is impressive”¦Did you know he did a Right Guard commercial too? Is it sad that I know that and actually recognized him?

** Mark Polishuk makes a suggestion for a new “Saturday Night Live” game and talks AT LENGTH about “Survivor.”

** The immortal Scott Keith recaps a spin-off of one of the most overrated TV shows ever. Yeah, I said it”¦

** Hey Murrey — could you write more than one column per month please? Thanks…

TV NEWS

The late night TV landscape will change considerably”¦in 2009

And the torch will be passed”¦

“The Tonight Show” host Jay Leno made the announcement that will shake up the late night television setting during his show aired Monday (9/27). Leno signed his most recent five-year contract that will run until 2009 and revealed that it will be his last for “The Tonight Show.” At that time, he will pass the torch of the long running show to current “Late Night” host, Conan O’Brien finishing a short rant by saying “Conan, it’s all yours buddy.”

The entertainment media jumped on this story like wildfire this week despite the move not taking place for more than five years and as Leno put it “more than 1,200 shows” from now. This was probably done for several reasons. Here are some of the ideas that have been thrown out:

** Leno’s being forced out – Everyone knows Jay Leno as a “work-a-holic” of sorts. In addition to his full-time job at NBC that keeps him busy, he performs a couple of hundred stand-up comedy sets per year at various clubs across Los Angeles and the west coast (working in frequent trips to Las Vegas as well). In fact, he’s reportedly said that he hasn’t spent ANY of his earnings from “The Tonight Show” (more than $20 million annually) and can live his lavish life strictly off his appearance fees at the clubs in the area.

So, if he works this hard consistently, why in the hell would he want to retire in five years and leave the business at a relatively young 59? Maybe he really does want to move onto other projects or do some kind of comedy tour instead of being confined to Burbank, Ca. for the rest of his working life. However, the more popular opinion is that he’s being forced out strictly to keep Conan a part of the NBC team for the long haul.

Remarkably, Leno is being very gracious about the move publicly and is welcoming of the fact that he’s keeping his seat warm for the lanky, Harvard grad. I can only imagine what he’s really thinking and what he thinks his next move is going to be. It’s fairly rare to see a high profile Hollywood personality want to work as much as he does, so I’m looking forward to see what he has coming up the pike.

** NBC wants Conan forever – OK, maybe that’s a bit of a harsh statement. NBC also doesn’t want to lose the popular “Late Night” host to CBS, ABC, or even”¦GASP”¦Fox as has been rumored since Conan’s NBC contract was due to expire in the very near future. NBC (and to some degree, Leno too) certainly didn’t want another fiasco similar to the one that went down when Johnny Carson retired in 1993 and the network offered the slot to Leno instead of the guy holding down the “Late Night” slot at that time, David Letterman. The Leno vs. Letterman feud has been widely publicized and HBO even made a movie about it. I think all parties involved wanted to avoid all bad blood in that regard.

So, NBC had to make the long term offer to Conan and Leno had to gracefully step aside (from a public perspective anyway) so the network could keep Conan and Leno could save face. It sounds like everyone’s done a pretty good job to this point. Although, I’m waiting for the “tell all” book where Leno trashes everyone involved privately and it “mistakenly” gets leaked to the public.

Some people have publicly wondered who’s next in line for Conan’s job. Are you kidding me? Why are we talking about this now? Sure, Jon Stewart may be a good choice, but do we really know if he’s going to stay at Comedy Central for another five years? Do we really know NBC won’t already have someone else in mind (like”¦say”¦Carson Daly who already works at the network”¦)? Hell, NBC may be watching the “Late, Late Show” “auditions” on CBS very closely to see who might be a good person to approach in a few years time.

The bottom line is that while speculation makes a decent story as it makes people wonder, guess, and predict, we might as well try to figure out who the winner of Super Bowl XLII will be in 2008. There’s too much that could happen between now and then.

Hey Comedy Central, could you take a joke please?

OK”¦everyone here needs to calm down and go back to their respective corners. Comedy Central and Bill O’Reilly of the Fox News Channel are fighting and, frankly, the whole reason they are fighting is nothing short of ridiculous”¦

Earlier this month, Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central’s satirical news program “The Daily Show” was on O’Reilly’s nightly show “The O’Reilly Factor.” During the interview/conversation/attack on the guest, O’Reilly said that viewers of “The Daily Show” were a bunch of “stoned slackers” in an apparent attempt to ruin any sort of satiric (and even journalistic) credibility the show might actually have.

Comedy Central could have walked away with their heads relatively high simply by doing what it does best”¦making jokes”¦and it could have done so constantly and relentlessly. Instead, they did the kind of thing that CBS or CNN would have done: hire an outside research firm to try and prove what O’Reilly said isn’t true”¦

This week, Comedy Central announced that they commissioned Nielsen Media Research to tell them that viewers of “The Daily Show” are more likely to have completed four year degrees than viewers of “The O’Reilly Factor.”

OK, let’s trash this on two different levels:

First, as I eluded to already, Comedy Central looks like the whining, complaining dopes their network and the shows on it often make fun of. They should have just brushed it off and made approximately two dozen jokes about Bill O’Reilly over the course of the next few weeks and left it at that. People tune in to Comedy Central to laugh and to watch off-beat coverage of today’s issues, not to actually be informed. If they have a bunch of “stoned slackers” watching their programming, what does it matter? Hell, they’re probably more susceptible to be fascinated by the advertising they see. What’s wrong with that?

Second, the announced findings of the research don’t mean anything. Incorporating “completing four years of college” to the opposite of “stoned slacker” is like incorporating “Major League Baseball player” as the opposite of “steroid user.” Does Comedy Central realize how many “stoned slackers” have made it through four years of college? Hell, some make it through, get decent jobs and still smoke joints on their lunch breaks and on their way to the summer concert series at their local music venue. If the network was going to embarrass itself with this pointless display of various numbers and statistics, it could have at least had Nielsen actually get respondents to talk about the frequency of their marijuana use instead of assuming that “college” is not synonymous with “stoned slacker.”

“Joe Schmo 3″ starring William Shatner?

Former “Star Trek” and current “Boston Legal” star William Shatner has worked with Spike TV and “Joe Schmo Show” creators Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick to create “Invasion Iowa,” another elaborate hoax show in the same vein as “The Joe Schmo Show.”

According to Zap2it.com, Shatner was in Riverside, Ia (Population: 978) in September filming the show. “Invasion Iowa” will tell the story of a fake film production in the town of Riverside, which, consistent with “Star Trek” lore, is the birthplace of Shatner’s character, Capt./Adm. James T. Kirk. The production spent 10 days in town, hiring locals as actors and crew members, before revealing the joke.

Shatner played an embellished version of himself who was supposed to be in town to act as a writer-director-producer-star of an independent sci-fi film he was supposedly working on. The idea of the show is that Shatner played himself as a high maintenance Hollywood celebrity and basically showed how dumb the excesses of the entertainment industry are.

After revealing the joke to the people of Riverside, Shatner was “nice” enough to offer the town a check of $100,000 for particular projects the town decided to work. That’s a small price to pay for several hundred people that were embarrassed through this process, don’t you think? Especially when Shatner and Spike TV stand to make a lot more money than that”¦

If the reality television model could split off into “sub-genres” of sort, the “hoax show” is definitely emerging as another type of show being developed to get people to tune in. What’s most interesting about this one is that the producers got a fairly substantial celebrity to be involved with this show unlike “My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance” and “The Joe Schmo Show” which didn’t exactly rely on any high profile personalities to succeed. Of course, these type of shows are going to be harder and harder to produce because everyone is going to be looking over their shoulders. Ingrid Wiese’s constant questioning and eventual addition to the cast of “Joe Schmo 2″ showed the dangers of shows like this. However, there are more than 260 million people who live in the United States, producers just may have to look harder to find people they can fool. But the more of these shows that crop up, then the harder they will be to provide that drama and ultimate payoff: revealing the hoax. It will be interesting to see if more of these type shows develop.

We don’t just steal shows from England, we take them from Columbia too!

According to multiple sources, including Zap2it.com, ABC has given a script commitment to an adaptation of the wildly popular Colombian telenovela “Betty La Fea” and it will be Executive Produced by Oscar nominee Salma Hayek.

The show that is being adapted for the United States will be a version of a soap opera that aired every weeknight on Colombian television during its 1999-2001 run. The show was about an unattractive fashion assistant who falls for her handsome boss. Resented by her more attractive co-workers, the main character still managed to be efficient and semi-successful.

What most interested me about this news was that it goes a little deeper than just ABC requesting a script or that Salma Hayek will act as a producer, it’s that this isn’t the first time the networks tried to adapt this little show. First, in 2001, NBC attempted to rework the show for American audiences, but never got to the script phases.

More importantly, while ABC hasn’t admitted this, the general format of “Less Than Perfect” (it stars Sarah Rue, but more people probably know it as the show with Andy Dick) is very similar to “Betty La Fea” but the main character works at a television network instead of as a fashion assistant. While I’ve never seen the Columbian show, it does appear that the industry people that have made that observation appear to be right on target. Unfortunately, this could be marked as an example of creativity in the television industry sorely lacking.

Then, it goes further with ABC almost adapting the Columbian show to make it MORE like the original instead of less. The Zap2it.com article reported that the show will follow that format but will be an hour long drama with a comedic tint to it. While it’s significant to work with other countries to bring some of their art to this country, I just wish we could do it in a way that didn’t copy”¦I mean “adapt” something that was already written and produced. It just lacks creativity.

Melissa Etheridge comes to network television

What do you get when you mix “Reba,” “Will & Grace” and a dash of rock n’ roll?

An ABC sitcom starring Melissa Etheridge as a gay woman, living with a straight man and raising a kid together.

The network has signed a deal with 20th Century Fox Television and Brad Grey TV to debut sort of an “inverted ‘Will & Grace'” type show where Etheridge will play a gay music teacher living with her straight male best friend and raising a child together. It is unclear if the child will be biologically connected to the straight friend or another third party.

Apparently, the networks were bidding very heavily over who would secure the rights to this particular idea and star. Part of me was surprised that ABC won. After all, NBC is more likely to take bigger risks with the comedies they produce. However, ABC generally makes more room for 30-minute sit-coms than the peacock does. So, in that respect it isn’t that surprising after all.

The show is only in script phase right now and a pilot hasn’t been ordered. However, if it actually gets to that point, I do think it compares two shows that work pretty well: “Reba” (because it stars a charismatic musician making the cross over to television in the form of a family comedy of sorts) and “Will & Grace” (the whole gay person living with a straight person being funny) thing. Etheridge is known as a great person who’s very emotional and passionate. She could definitely perform well in a television setting. It will be interesting to see how that works out.

When television goes wild”¦

With their recent announcement of two new shows to debut, Spike TV has done a marvelous job of demeaning the television industry and reducing men to blubbering idiots that only like to see stuff blown up.

First, there is the new show “Boom” which according to Dario Spina, Spike TV’s vice president of marketing and promotions, who told The Hollywood Reporter is “shot in high def, and it features five demolition experts who unite and take on a weekly assignment of blowing s*** up,”. “That’s the only description I have for it.”

Terrific”¦sounds like mesmerizing television”¦.

Second, Spike TV has announced the creation of “Carpocalypse,” a slightly more creative show which is described as “the future of smashup derby.” In that series, teams of mechanics will prepare various vehicles for different new events such as automotive soccer and school bus figure-eight racing.

“Carpocalypse” at least sounds fairly different and entertaining primarily because it involves doing something that isn’t on television now and might be passable for those who watch the Discovery Channel. Then again, it’s just people destroying cars.

“Boom” is just the epitome of bad television. I know guys like to blow stuff up and all, but is it really necessary to develop a hi-definition television show around that concept? It’s not good, creative television and it assumes that all men are just like Beavis and Butthead. Believe it or not, we’re not”¦

The rest of the news in 500 words or less”¦

** Kelly Preston will do”¦I guess”¦ – According to TVGuide.com, Kelly Preston has been signed to do a two-episode arc on “Joey” this coming November during sweeps. The publication also reported that she wasn’t exactly the producers’ first choice and that they really wanted an Academy Award winning actress. Not a first choice? Sorry Kelly, but that’s an understatement. Thank God you still have your husband”¦

** Comedy Central is a “Tough Crowd.” – Zap2it.com reported that Comedy Central has put the Colin Quinn hosted comedy/current events roundtable show, “Tough Crowd” on hiatus as of November. Considering the way shows begin and end seasons these days, that isn’t overly unusual that a show’s season would end randomly in November. However, some “sources” have said that once the show goes on hiatus, it won’t return at all. This is news because not only is the status of the show remarkably shady, but it puts the talented Quinn out of work again. He deserves to be working. Hey Colin! Want to write a comedy pilot together? I might contribute a joke or two!

** The enigma that is Geena Davis could be back on TV soon”¦ – According to Zap2it.com, CBS has signed former Oscar winner Geena Davis to a development deal that could (or will) get her on the air next season. At this point, it is unclear whether she will star in a comedy or drama, but something will be developed for her and she’s set to appear next year. She hasn’t been regularly seen on a network television series since 2000’s “The Geena Davis Show.” That’s probably because there wasn’t a huge demand for her.

** Well, she’s nice to look at anyway”¦ – In a move to apparently try and secure loads of straight males to a talk show that isn’t hosted by Jerry Springer, Tyra Banks has signed a deal with Warner Bros. to host her own talk show beginning next year. Maybe she’ll use this opportunity to model some of Victoria’s Secret’s new products.

** An example of a statement that isn’t a surprise: NBC is picking up the Matt LeBlanc and Drea de Matteo led series, “Joey” for a full season.

** An example of a statement that is a mild surprise: The WB is picking up the under achieving drama “Jack & Bobby” for a full season.

** An example of a statement that is a complete surprise: CBS not only garnered higher overall ratings than NBC, but it beat the Peacock in the cherished 18-49 demographic as well.

Remember when CBS only developed TV for old people? Now, it’s “CSI” and TV for old people”¦

THE CLOSING CREDITS: Major League Baseball

As of the time when this gets column gets posted, it will be Friday, Oct. 1. This will mark the final weekend that the Major League Baseball regular season is in session until April, 2004. Once Monday, Oct. 4 comes, eight teams from all over the country will begin battling it out for an appearance in the World Series. From there, this is where a new world champion will be crowned and live in infamy in the history of American team sports.

And Fox is going to be there every step of the way broadcasting every relevant moment of the major games. Commentator names like “Joe Buck” and “Tim McCarver” will become part of the network’s landscape temporarily replacing names of actors in current shows like “Shannen Doherty” and “Ashton Kutcher.” If you’re used to getting your news an hour early from your local Fox affiliate, October is the month you either have to stay up an hour or two later or find your news from another outlet. If you’re waiting for new shows like “House” or “The Rebel Billionaire” or the new season of “The O.C.” you’re stuck waiting until some time in November. Fox’s deal with Major League Baseball created an entirely new set up for the month of October and the way the network programmed their network for the entire year.

When Fox set up their new “year-round” or “12-month” programming schedule, that was kind of a lie because that statement doesn’t take into consideration that the Major League Baseball playoffs monopolizes Fox’s prime-time schedule in October, especially the second half of the month when the American and National League Championship Series and the World Series are played strictly in prime time and for 3-4 hours at a time.

And Fox’s schedule for the entire year is based strictly on what happens in October. You don’t believe me? Well, maybe you can tell me where all the series and season premieres are right now. Sure, some quick fix reality shows like “The Next Great Champ” and “The Complex” debuted in September but the more high profile shows like “The O.C.,” “24,” “The Swan 2″ and “American Idol” aren’t debuting until after October or early the following year. The same applies to some of these high profile new shows like Seth McFarlane’s “American Dad,” “House” or “The Rebel Billionaire.” There isn’t much sense in debuting these new shows in September only to put them on hiatus for 3-4 weeks, so Fox chooses not to. Instead, according to this new “year round” scheduling, most of their show debuts will come in November, January, and again in May or June for the summer. Then, once October comes, it’s all baseball, all the time.

What’s the point of all this? I guess the point is it impresses me that baseball still has this kind of pull on a network and how it programs for the year. In the age of the quick fix of reality television, football becoming the “national past time” and sports experts whining about the fact that baseball playoff games rarely take place before 5:00 p.m. anymore, I appreciate what Fox does. As a baseball lover, I think it’s great that a major broadcast network programs around the same game that Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio dominated more than 60 years ago.

Sure, baseball has its share of problems. Bud Selig is still commissioner; no one is sure which players were or are taking steroids and the Boston Red Sox have a bloated payroll that happens to be $60 million less than that of the New York Yankees.

While this is true, I can forget all that and just watch the games being played on a series of chilly, fall nights where 162 games played over more than six months can boil down to just one game, one inning, or even one batter if you’re a Red Sox or Yankees fan. Baseball may have slipped into “second place” among the American sports media and fan base, but it’s still number one to me. And it’s great to see that Fox is willing to program around that realizing there are millions of fans who still want as much baseball as the league can possibly provide.

So, as the regular season ends and the playoffs begin, I’ll be happy to get my annual fill of the highly annoying Tim McCarver mastering the obvious statement by saying things like “The Red Sox are going to have to score runs to win.”

Tim, you’re right”¦and hopefully that bold analysis will come to fruition.

PLAY BALL!!!

— Coogan