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

Look at this”¦

** Did you see who is going to be hosting the Oscars telecast next year? No Steve Martin or Billy Crystal? Times”¦they are-a-changin! More on this one next week!

** Prediction #1: “Team America: World Police” will earn $50 million in its opening weekend.

**Prediction #2: Creators and directors, Trey Parker and Matt Stone may ACTUALLY be humbled by the movie’s success”¦Or, they may act like it anyway”¦

THE OPENING CREDITS: IP TV Creativity

** Look”¦ I emptied my brain into a column!

** I like this quote from Nick Warnock’s latest recap of “The Apprentice 2:”

Stacy – To put this in terms you can understand, perhaps it is something clinical and I am sensitive to that, but you are annoying. And no matter how they are utilized, your skill sets suck. In fact the only thing I have seen you do successfully thus far is rally your girlfriends into ganging up on someone else. That said, you did play it smart in the boardroom again and that is why you are still here. I think you will manage to stick around until you are actually called to lead and Mr. Trump gets a clear look at how useless you are.

** I think “Survivo’s” Jessie Camacho was emptying her brain too”¦Fun story though”¦

** Jake picks up where Jessie left off and provides his “Survivor” analysis.

** Helen is angry about the guy she liked getting kicked off the island, but like a real trooper, she gets over it quickly and moves on.

** We do a pretty good job keeping up on assorted television spoilers”¦ if you’re interested in that kind of thing.

** Cheri does her best “Ken Tucker from Entertainment Weekly” impression as she reviews two different shows with fairly similar themes and types of characters. And it appears Jeff Probst is out and she’s got a new crush”¦.Check it out.

** The Sarah Quigley quote of the week:

Maybe ABC realizes the error of trying to marry off a recent divorcee (who was very reluctant to even do the show in the first place) and a 25-year-old bitch magnet. Their solution? Put a 40-year-old on the show. He’ll commit.

** Ms. Didey blogs it baby”¦

** Bob Reiss brings up a very good point about television writing. Does it need to be “realistic?” Should actors playing doctors and lawyers spend time in hospitals and court rooms “researching” their roles? Should everything follow the form as it would appear in a real life situation? I don’t think it’s as cut and dry as Bob makes it out to be, but at the same time, he’s right. I don’t need anyone telling me when a doctor on a show makes a “wrong diagnosis.” Only doctors know that and chances are 0.05% of the audience watching are actually doctors and would know the difference.

** Mathan kind of follows the “Didey” format and also goes nuts about BET’s “Uncut.” I’d say it’s either this or the “Girls Gone Wild” infomercials.

TV NEWS: short form style”¦

Sometimes it’s easy to take a series of television news stories and provide significant, relevant analysis that allows me to look at the business of the television industry, storytelling conventions or anything about television that might make you think a little bit differently about something you may see reported on “Entertainment Tonight” or the “Life” section of the USA Today.

However, in other weeks, like this one, the news just doesn’t lend to any significant analysis that may require “thinking out of the box.” To prove my point: as I’m writing this, the top story on one of my favorite television news Web sites is:

“Lohan Makes Boob Tube Cameo on ‘That ’70s Show'”

Sure, Lindsay Lohan is an A-List star and Fox is probably psyched to get her but there’s nothing else of real consequence that can be talked about? (And don’t worry”¦I’ll get to this later”¦)

This week, I feel like a lot of the news out there to talk about are more headlines like “Charles Nelson Reilly to guest star on UPN comedy” than news bits like “More evidence the sit-com is a dying form of television story telling.” Sometimes that’s going to happen, but at the same time, it’s also hard to pretend that these type of headlines warrant significant analysis.

Instead, they deserve to be reported with snarky, sarcastic comments attached to them.

I’m there for you babe”¦

**You mean a copycat of “The Apprentice” didn’t do well? – Hey man — I love resident billionaire and NBA Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban like every other crazy sports fan out there. However, even the format of his new ABC show “The Benefactor” is largely different from “The Apprentice” it boils down to the same one sentence description as the Trump vehicle:

A multi-billionaire starts with a large group of people who engage in a series of competitions and narrows it down until he picks a winner he likes.

Zap2it.com dutifully notes that timeslot of the show turned out to be less desirable too: Monday nights as a companion to “Monday Night Football.” Initially, I thought it would be a good thing for the show. However, the article notes that in half the country (the east) the show is on before the game of the night and on the west coast, the show is on after the game. Inconsistent timeslots combined with a copycat formula led to the obvious:

A reduction in episodes.

The final episode will air on Oct. 25, a week earlier than planned. This combined with the “20/20″ tribute to Christopher Reeve that caused “The Benefactor” preemption will reduce the number of episodes to six instead of 8. The Nov.1 timeslot will be replaced with a behind-the-scenes edition of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” Sorry Mark”¦looks like your timing was off all around”¦

** BET yanks Eninem video mocking Jackson; “King of Pop” urges others to follow – According to various media outlets, BET has decided to pull all future airings of Eminem’s new video to his song “Just Lose It” after Michael Jackson publicly took offense to content he felt was demeaning to him and his family.

The rappe’s video makes fun of Jackson’s child molestation charges and mocks the singe’s physical appearance, making special reference to the pop singe’s apparently rapid shrinking nose.

In an interview on a Los Angeles based radio show earlier this week, Jackson told Steve Harvey:

I’ve admired Eminem as an artist, and was shocked by this. The video was inappropriate and disrespectful to me, my children, my family, and the community at large. It is my hope that the other networks will take BET’s lead and pull it.

BET’s reaction in network released statement on Oct. 12:

BET has pulled the Eminem video out of rotation effective immediately. We did so out of respect for our long-standing relationship with Michael Jackson that dates back more than a decade, including Michael’s induction as the first BET Walk of Fame honoree in 1995. This action was a collective management decision by BET executives.

It’s kind of interesting that despite Eminem being a mega star making boat loads of money doing what he loves, he doesn’t seem to have the same clout that an aging, formerly successful pop star like Michael Jackson still seems to have, at least at BET.

Here’s an captivating pop culture related question: Will MTV and VH-1 follow suit? Or will they allow the people who primarily watch those two networks (they kind of skew to a younger audience over all I’d say”¦) to determine what they like. And let’s be honest: The kids like Eminem a lot better than they like Michael these days. Pretty telling, isn’t it?

** “Lohan Makes Boob Tube Cameo on ‘That ’70s Show'” – That was Zap2it.com’s subtle headline leading to a story written about Lindsay Lohan’s cameo appearance on Fox’s “That ‘70s Show.” Real smooth”¦young boys everywhere clicked over in hopes to see the 18-year-old’s phenomenal breasts.

Lohan will play Danielle who meets Fez (her real life boyfriend, Wilmer Valderrama) at the salon that recently started working at in a Nov. 17 episode of the hit sitcom. Naturally, the over-sexed Fez will make a play on Danielle, but Kelso (Ashton Kutcher) may get in the way of poor Fez’s sputtering love life. That’s a pretty good sweeps stunt, don’t you think?

** This is either an interesting concept or just another copycat show”¦I haven’t decided which yet”¦ – Wayne Newton is worried about the status of Las Vegas entertainment.

So, he’s going to do what any other famous singer would do to remedy that problem:

Create an “American Idol” type show to find some talent.

So, Newton will work with E! Entertainment Television to put on “The Entertainer,” a ten-week series that will pit 10 different Las Vegas type “acts” against each other in “grueling performance challenges,” and other assorted tasks specifically designed to teach them the ins and outs of show business, Las Vegas style. The acts aren’t just limited to singing. Magicians, comedians, and any other potentially wild and wacky acts will be included as well.

The show is different because Newton and the show’s (other) producers will expose viewers to what it’s like to be a Las Vegas performer and talk about aspects of the business that most people would probably never be aware of. However, now that “American Idol” has taken off, it has spawned copycats like “Nashville Star,” Mark Burnett’s search for a rock n’ roll lead singer, which will debut next year, and Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne’s new series looking for a rock band to take on next yea’s OZZfest tour, Newton’s show looks like just another copycat from an idea that that was new and exciting 2 ½ years ago.

Nonetheless, it’s going to be quite a party starting in January when the show debuts on E!. I just wouldn’t count on it being a highly rated party.

** We’ll be able to see the “Last Comic Standing” finale after all – Comedy Central is the winner of the booming, burgeoning “Last Comic Standing” third season finale sweepstakes. The lost season finale will air on Comedy Central on Sat., Oct. 16 at 8:00 p.m. EST.

This isn’t a huge surprise since the network has been picking up same week repeats of the show up to this point. However, critics, insiders (and fans who read the reports from the critics and the insiders) wondered aloud why NBC would even bother pulling the last show and causing this mess to begin with. I know it’s been a rough time for the peacock at the beginning of this season and all (both CBS and ABC are beating them in the ratings these days), but does pulling a show and getting all this questionable publicity really make a big dent in the ratings?

Nonetheless, viewers can find out once and for all which of the four remaining contestants (Rich Vos and Dave Mordal from Season One and John Heffron and Alonzo Bodden from Season Two) will win the grand prize of $250,000. Way to go Comedy Central. You saved the day.

(You can go to NBC.com if you’re interested in finding out the winner now.)

** It’s an “American Idol” Christmas”¦in November”¦ – It really should be some sort of law that stores can’t sell Christmas themed merchandise before Nov. 1 and it DEFINITELY should be a law that no sort of Christmas themed programming or advertising should appear on television before Thanksgiving.

Yet, here we are again and Fox is going to air the one-hour special “Kelly, Ruben & Fantasia: Home for Christmas” Wed. Nov. 24 (the day before Thanksgiving). The show will feature performances from each of the first three winners of “American Idol,” Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard and Fantasia Barrino. But the show isn’t airing anywhere close to Christmas and it’s not a live show so it’s going to feature these people going home for Christmas at the beginning of November? Sometimes you really can see how wacky the television industry can be”¦

** An example of a statement that isn’t a surprise: Jerry Bruckheimer Television will develop a new family comedy for CBS.

Sure, Bruckheimer is more adept at developing dramas (“CSI,” “Cold Case”) and reality shows (“The Amazing Race”), but he’s been gold for CBS and has already received four pilot commitments for this development season, and as a series commitment from NBC. He seems to know what he’s doing.

Marsh McCall (“Just Shoot Me”) will write the pilot of an untitled show about three estranged siblings who have to become close again when they become guardians of their professor father according to The Hollywood Reporter.

** An example of a statement that is a mild surprise: WB is bringing back “High School Reunion” for a third season starting Tuesday, Dec. 7.

The reality show that brings various people from different classes at a high school together for a reunion of sorts that promises to get people all riled up in one way or another either because old flames will be rekindled or because producers make sure to bring people to hated each other in high school.

I consider this a mild surprise because the second season only attracted three million viewers per episode. But, then again, considering the WB doesn’t want to run multiple repeats of “One Tree Hill” post-November sweeps, then it isn’t that much of a surprise after all.

** An example of a statement that is a complete surprise: Chris Elliott is getting another Fox sitcom.

Elliott has done a fabulous job over the years playing the real creepy, weird (yet really funny) guy in movies (“Groundhog Day,” “There’s Something About Mary” and “Cabin Boy”) and television (“Everybody Loves Raymond” and his famous paper boy comedy, “Get a Life”). However, he seems best in small doses and centering an entire sit com on him is a strange decision in my book.

According to Zap2it.com, the new show will be a family comedy and feature Elliott as a father of two girls, one of them who wants to be a pop star. Elliott will co-write the pilot with “King of the Hill” Executive Producers, John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky.

THE CLOSING CREDITS: One Washington Post column, two separate thoughts going through my head

Lisa de Moraes of The Washington Post wrote what appeared to be a column (though it could be classified as a news article) about a new NBC show that appears to be getting prepared to get rushed into development. Why? It’s going to be modeled slightly after ABC’s new smash show “Desperate Housewives.”

According to de Moraes and a story she sites in The Hollywood Reporter, the new NBC show will be titled “Five Houses” and was originally written in 1997 by Todd Holland and John Riggi, former scribes of HBO’s “The Larry Sanders Show.” The show as originally about a gay couple moving into a suburban paradise and (evidently) screwing up everyone’s domestic harmony.

Seven years later, after Holland and Riggi left the script for dead, it’s being revived and NBC is definitely interested. However, the script has been re-worked and will instead be about a couple from Oklahoma moving into Los Angeles and getting used to their surroundings. It sounds eerily like the initial plot of “Beverly Hills, 90210″ but without the dopey high school drama.

Nonetheless, the show could be ordered and go into development soon. As I read this, I thought of two things:

1. Where did all the creativity go? – When writers and producers come up with a new idea for a show that ends up becoming successful like “Desperate Housewives” or “Lost” or even something I mentioned before like “American Idol,” television executives always feel the need to copy the idea and make something similar enough where it supports the format enough where it may be successful, but make it different enough where it could be defended as “something different.”

Understandably, this is done primarily for a network to secure ratings so they can secure more advertising revenue so they can fill their vault up and swim in the money pool they have. Also, this isn’t exactly a new practice. Shows have been getting copied or spun off into new series with the same characters for decades and the trend probably won’t go away any time soon.

I suppose I’m just wondering when those executives are going to get the hint that while imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it doesn’t necessarily make for a really successful show. In fact, developing a copycat show makes it more likely that it will get torn apart by critics and shunned by viewers. After all, look at “Chicago Hope.” It was modeled fairly closely after “ER” and was canceled after several seasons of mediocre ratings. And remember when Fox came out with “Greed” and NBC came out with “The Weakest Link” after ABC hit the ratings jackpot with “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” They didn’t work out very well, did they? Hell, all three of those shows died a quick prime time death.

But I suppose television executives will continue to go with this foolish model because it’s not like television viewers appreciate watching different kinds of shows that are well-produced and well-written or anything. We’re just mindless drones.

2. Why write about TV if you don’t like the medium? – From what I understand, Lisa de Moraes writes many of her columns in a mean, spiteful, unpleasant manner that essentially trivializes and demeans the television industry instead of embracing it and making it seem important, even if you don’t necessarily agree with that sentiment.

People read a television column because they like and appreciate television enough that they are interested in reading about it IN ADDITION to watching it. Is it really necessary to write every column as if you aren’t interested in the subject at hand? As if you don’t care if every television on the planet got blown up tomorrow? As if you’re too good for this “simplistic medium.”

Any TV critic or reporter who thinks that way and shows that in their columns needs to get a grip. The television is largely a passive medium and isn’t the haven of creativity that other art forms can be. However, the television is one of the most influential technological human advancement ever and really can display what human creativity can yield in the form of story telling.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read a book though”¦Dig that!

— Coogan