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

Mr. Coogan returns to IP TV after a holiday hiatus and talks about MTV, HBO, NBC, FOX and even the WB!

LOOK AT THIS”¦”¦

** In case you missed it, Britney Spears’ little sister is starting to make her mark on the entertainment industry. God help us all”¦

** Just what we needed!! A made-for-TV movie based on Amber Frey’s new book! YES!!!

** Did you know Desperate Housewives‘s Nicolette Sheridan is 41? That struck me as more surprising and disappointing than the announcement of her engagement.

** In an effort to focus at least part of this column on hard television news, let me provide a link to this AP article about the departure of Tucker Carlson from CNN and the likely demise of the political show, Crossfire, which has actually been part of the all news network’s schedule since 1982. See”¦this column can be educational too!

THE OPENING CREDITS: Mr. Coogan returns to praise the work of his fellow IP TV staffers

** In case you missed it before I went on my holiday hiatus across the northeastern United States, I revealed my Top 10 series of 2004 and eloquently explained why they were totally awesome, dude.

** It looks like I’m not the only IP TV staffer that’s taking a break for the holidays as the celebrity columns have been dormant for the last few weeks. Nonetheless, if you’re interested, the celebrities’ columns are still up and available for viewing in the archive.

** Cheri makes a convincing argument about the validity of the Fox show Who’s Your Daddy? but I’m not buying it. Not because it trivialized adoption but because it felt like a reality dating show and it was immensely weird.

** Diane “Didey” Falconi is back with IP TV and back commenting on a myriad of different series out there.

** The Sarah Quigley quote of the week comes from her The Amazing Race commentary and is near and dear to me:

My mother, bless her, has never been especially skilled at the fine art of time management and hence, I was constantly late to my appointments and extracurriculars. I was the kid who always tried to sneak into side row of woodwinds with a look of flushed humiliation on my face and took countless hits of grief from others who had been blessed with parents who actually paid attention to their watches.

Why? I think chronic lateness is a Coogan family trait and I have to wonder aloud if we’re not related in some way. Don’t believe me? Keep in mind that several friends nicknamed my horrible sense of time, “Coogan Time.” Hey Mark, think we should copyright that? I feel like it could be worthwhile some day.

** After mistaking himself for former Major League Baseball pitcher, Jack Armstrong, Mark Polishuk lists his “winners” and “losers” for the year and makes some “predictions” for 2005. Oh boy”¦

** In a bold move, Matt Romanada made a list of New Yea’s resolutions the broadcast networks should try to keep for 2005. That’s confidence, baby.

** Speaking of New Yea’s resolutions, Mike Lawrence makes some resolutions of his own. Specifically, get more into television drama so he’s not just the cartoon and sitcom guy. Hey. It couldn’t hurt.

** Here’s a shout out to one of my biggest vocal supporters Mathan and his column, Remote Destination. He tackles a variety of topics and does so in a wildly entertaining fashion every week.

** It’s non-TV related, but since it has TV stuff in it, I’d like to give Mathew Michael a shout out for his 100 random pieces of news/events from pop culture in 2004. It was a team effort to put it together and it was cool to see it posted on InsidePulse.com!

TV NEWS

Why do I even bother talking about the Fox TV schedule? It’s not like it won’t change in 2 weeks or anything”¦

Here we go again”¦just when we thought Fox might actually commit to the same schedule for more than 14 consecutive days, they go and change it one more time.

So, would you like the good news first or the bad news? Let’s go with the good news”¦

** The good news: N. Paul Todd, out. Peter Griffin, in. – In what could be considered a scheduling coup, the network is tossing My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss in the trash before its conclusion and instead will fill the Sunday 9 p.m. timeslot with repeats of everyone’s favorite politically incorrect animated sitcom, Family Guy. This will occur until Feb. 6 when the National Football League and Fox present its annual New England Patriots invitational”¦er, I mean Super Bowl”¦

After the Super Bowl, Fox will rearrange the Sunday schedule yet again (hopefully until after May sweeps) with old reliable King of the Hill airing at 7 p.m., new offering Kelsey Grammer Presents: The Sketch Show from the former Frasier star at 7:30. The Simpsons will stay in its customary 8 p.m. timeslot followed by Malcolm in the Middle (moving from the 7 p.m. hour), Arrested Development (in what could be a bad move up against Desperate Housewives), and Seth McFarlane’s new animated comedy, American Dad at 9:30.

It’s hard not to love Fox ditching a bad (and mean) reality show in favor of additional repeats of a terrific cult comedy that is still very popular. However, the post Super Bowl lineup puts the already ratings challenged Arrested Development in a bad spot at 9 p.m. instead of allowing it to be a nice 8:30 companion to The Simpsons, especially since Arrested Development and Desperate Housewives probably secure fairly similar demographic audiences. And let’s be honest”¦I highly doubt the same people that watch Malcolm in the Middle and will watch American Dad are not the same people that watch Desperate Housewives.

And since I know you were all worried, please keep in mind that Fox is going to arrange a way for all the Obnoxious Boss fans out there to find out how the show ended”¦Phew”¦

** The bad news: More American Idol – I’m certainly speaking to the audience of InsidePulse.com when I say that’s “bad news.” After all, to the 20something million people are watching the show every week, this is great news, not bad news. Nonetheless, the news is more Idol.

According a Zap2it.com article, American Idol will, as already announced, first expand the number of television hours devoted to the audition process from six in 2004 to 10 in 2005. That will include six for the actual auditions and four the final eliminations in Hollywood and it will take a whopping five weeks to get to the finalists.

The format of the competition has also been changed significantly once the finalists are chosen. First, instead of 32 finalists that compete in sets of 8 with a wild card round to get to the final 12, the competition will only feature 24 contestants, 12 men and 12 women. But even though the number is cut, starting Monday, Feb. 21, Fox is arranging the schedule in a way that allows the men to perform Mondays at 8 p.m, the women to perform Tuesdays at 8 p.m. and a results show to eliminate two members of each gender on Wednesdays at 9 p.m until it gets cut to 12 people total. So, for three weeks, American Idol will be on for three hours per week. Normal people might consider this overkill, but Idol fans and Fox television executives will likely jump all over the change (and then complain that there’s nothing worthwhile to watch on television anymore).

Once the competition is boiled down to 12 contestants, the show will (regrettably for Fox) return to airing just two shows per week, one for performing and one for eliminating.

I have to openly wonder why Fox even bothers making a schedule to begin with. Even though they (still) only offer two hours of primetime programming every day, the schedule never stays the same for more than a few weeks at a time. And with the new summer schedule that produces new content specifically for the summer months, it doesn’t appear that’s going to change any time soon.

I suppose that would be an issue for them, but aside from American Idol, The Simpsons, Arrested Development, 24 and Cops, what else on that network is worth watching anyway?

(Hey! I can make a joke every now and then, can’t I?)

* * * * * *

** Let the tawdry fantasies begin – In a great move for ABC, Buffy the Vampire Slayer co-star and American Pie veteran, Alyson Hannigan has opted to return to television in a co-starring role on Jennifer Love Hewitt’s new ABC sitcom, In the Game, which will debut later this year.

The show features Hewitt playing a character who “accidentally” becomes an on-air talent after being a sports television producer previously. Married”¦with Children‘s Ed O’Neill also co-stars as Hewitt’s characte’s boss. Hannigan will act in a supporting role and play Hewitt’s “best friend.”

Hannigan taking this particular job might be considered a bit surprising since she signed a development deal with NBC to headline a sitcom. However, after taping the pilot, it never found a place on the network’s schedule. She also finished a stage run of When Harry Met Sally in London last year. Going from the London stage to a supporting role on an ABC sitcom? I don’t know”¦.since she’s not taking a role on Desperate Housewives, I find the move to be curious.

But at least boys and men everywhere can have their fantasies fulfilled when they see Jennifer Love Hewitt and Alyson Hannigan on screen together. It almost makes you think the networks really ARE thinking when they put these shows together!

* * * * * *

Fun with ratings

** How many people watched Medium?!? Are you sure? – In what was apparently a response to the dearth of new programming during the last three weeks of December, viewers flocked to the new NBC paranormal drama, Medium on Monday night, as it secured a whopping 16.1 million viewers.

In the series, Patricia Arquette plays Allison DuBois, a mother of three kids/housewife/law school intern who uses the special powers she has and visions she experiences to solve crimes that appear unsolvable.

According to a Zap2it.com article, the 16.1 million viewers more than doubles any other program on in the 10 p.m. timeslot this season and is the most number of viewers to watch an NBC drama premiere since Ed debuted in 2000.

Zap2it.com also reported that Steve Coogan is still in shock, four days later after hearing the reports of this news. Maybe he just didn’t watch it correctly the first time it was on.

** I guess the audience decided Who’s Your Daddy? was about as captivating as the similarly themed episodes of Maury“¦ – Despite loads of free publicity from the media that decided to debate its merits, viewers largely stayed away from Fox’s Monday special Who’s Your Daddy? attracting only an average of 6.3 million viewers for the 90 minute special. And that number was spiked in the final segment when viewership increased all the way to 7.6 million.

The show featured a young woman telling the story of her life of being an adopted child and then picking among eight men who could be her father in a grossly similar to the way contestants on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette pick their suitors. Since she narrowed it down correctly in a series of “elimination rounds,” she won $100,000 for her participation.

I’d just like to send a big hearty THANK YOU to the American public for realizing that this was a positively rotten idea that in its execution made it just plain creepy.

Now that I think of it, I should probably say THANK YOU the Fox affiliate in Raleigh-Durham, N.C. too since they didn’t bother to air the show to begin with. Normally, I don’t support affiliates going loco and blowing off national network programming, but this is one instance where more should have followed this station’s lead”¦

** A Commitment to 10 million viewers – OK”¦NBC’s new sitcom, Commitment actually managed to draw 10.1 million viewers for its premiere episode on Tuesday (1/4), despite the NCAA college football championship game between the University of Southern California and the University of Oklahoma attracting a Desperate Housewives-esque type audience. I say this happened for one of two reasons:

1) The viewing audience was still angry about being subjected to repeats, ridiculous holiday programs and worthless college football games for most of December and decided that Commitment was better than HBO’s 740th airing of Boogie Nights on HBO in the last month and yet another Law & Order marathon on TNT.

2) In an ironic twist of fate, people who were motivated enough to sit down to watch Commitment‘s lead in, The Biggest Loser, in order to get motivated for their own exercise programs were not motivated enough to change the channel once it was over.

I can’t think of any other reasons to watch a lame Dharma & Greg-esque comedy whose lone bright spot is the legendary Tom Poston playing a “dying clown.” Can you? Well, 10.1 million viewers found a reason. I wonder how long that will keep up”¦

* * * * * *

** The infamous Untitled John Stamos Project beefs up – It’s not every day that a show fills most of its cast before getting a name, but when it comes to the crazy John Stamos, it’s no holds barred baby.

The show has been floating around purgatory for several months now since ABC decided to pick it up but debut it this “mid-season,” which is about as vague as walking into a deli and saying “I’d like a sandwich please.”

But, ABC must be at least somewhat serious about pushing the project to the air since it was finally given a name. The show, which will feature Stamos playing a womanizing publicist to the stars who’s also trying to find that special someone named Jake Philips, will be titled Jake in Progress. How novel.

It was also announced that Julie Bowen (Ed, Happy Gilmore) would be joining the cast as one of the female leads and one of the few women that manages to turn Stamos’s character down.

Zap2it.com reports the cast also is comprised of accomplished actors Ian Gomez (Felicity) as Jake’s long-time friend Aidan, Wendie Malick (Just Shoot Me, Dream On) as Naomi, his pregnant boss and Rick Hoffman (Philly The $treet) as Patrick, a very needy performance artist who latches on to Jake after Jake dates an old flame of Patrick’s. Madchen Amick (Twin Peaks) will guest star in the first couple of episodes and play Stamos’s characte’s ex-love interest.

* * * * * *

** HBO goes traditional? This can’t be! – In a somewhat surprising move, HBO has ordered a pilot written by comedian Louis C.K. that will be a traditional studio taped show with four cameras and an audience. Thankfully, this will be closer to a traditional HBO show as opposed to another According to Jim clone as the show will feature more “adult” themes and “adult” language according to Zap2it.com. The series will feature C.K. as a middle American father, his middle American family and, hopefully, oodles of cursing.

In that respect, the show will almost be a spoof or a parody of the traditional sitcom, though no one associated with HBO or Zap2it.com has substantiated my wild accusations. Though, if we think about it a second, it makes perfect sense. Would a Joey or Everybody Loves Raymond script ever consider using curse words or frankly talk about “adult situations?” In that respect, since HBO deviates from the traditional sitcom formats in its comedies (Sex and the City, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage), it will be interesting to see a more “traditional” show on the network.

However, I must say alas”¦simply because while HBO has ordered a pilot, that doesn’t guarantee the new show a place on its schedule any time in the near future. Hopefully, HBO will reward the Emmy winning writer/comedian Louis C.K. a chance to finally shine on his own show. It’s not like he’s been trying for years or anything”¦

* * * * * *

** David E. Kelley and the WB team up for the first time – The WB and writer/producer extraordinaire David E. Kelley (The Practice, Ally McBeal, Boston Legal) have announced a collaboration that will likely result in the new show Halley’s Comet to hit the airwaves some time in 2005.

Comet was written by Andrew Kreisberg (Hope & Faith, The Simpsons and the short-lived WB animated series Mission Hill) and picked up by Kelley’s production company and the upstart broadcast network. Zap2it.com reports the licensing fee for the show is quite high and if the network decides not to put it on its schedule, the penalty fees are high as well.

What does that mean? Probably that this “light drama” about a first year medical student who overcame cancer and who is trying to get her “life in order” will end up on the WB at some point in ’05.

But here’s a question”¦is it me or does this seem like it’s Felicity but our protagonist has beaten cancer and is entering medical school? Maybe if we’re lucky, the main character will be sent to work at Sacred Heart Hospital with the cast of Scrubs.

THE CLOSING CREDITS: The return of The Real World odds.

Just a couple of weeks after announcing that Austin, Tex. would be the destination of MTV’s The Real World‘s 16th season, several entertainment news outlets are reporting that the cable network has reached an agreement with Bunim/Murray Productions to keep the show on the air (at least) through 2008. (Some news outlets are reporting 2008, some 2010). Either way, the show is slated to go on through its mindboggling 20th season once the contract ends.

In celebration of this news and the fact that I correctly predicted where the newest season of the reality series would end up (No, seriously”¦look!), I figured this would be a good time to bring up my Top 15 future destinations The Real World will end up with accompanying odds.

Many of the places are the same, but, for the most part, the odds have improved or worsened and include new content that go with them, proving that I didn’t just cut and paste this part of the column from something I did in September when MTV was having problems with the city of Philadelphia.

My top pick for Season 17: Toronto. Though, I wouldn’t be surprised if I was wrong. After all, the reason why I was right about Austin was because information leaked out about Bunim/Murray productions meeting with representatives of the city”¦Well, I’ll take what I can get”¦

Anyway”¦

1. Toronto – 2:1 – It’s a beautiful city, especially during the summer, there is a lot to do, and it’s a bustling area for various industries. Besides, I bet MTV and Bunim/Murray productions will love the Canadian exchange rate there. And who wouldn’t love the constant contact with people who say “eh” frequently? (down from 3:1).

2. Baltimore/Washington D.C. – 4:1 – Some might perceive the Baltimore docks and our nation’s capital to be boring, but it’s really a beautiful area with a lot going on and would be a great situation for MTV and The Real World. Plus, there is a smokin’ bar scene in both cities. And maybe they can intern on Capitol Hill? Or even better, on the Baltimore docks???? (down from 6:1).

3. Tampa – 6:1 – So, several months ago, I was watching the preview episode of the The Real World: Philadelphia and the past cast members interviewed made reference to the crazy girls from Tampa. If that’s the case, what are MTV and Bunim/Murray Productions waiting for? (down from 12:1).

4. Denver – 8:1 – This would be a good city at any time of the year. It’s nice in Colorado in the spring and summer and the crew could work at a ski resort during the winter. Then they could whine about how cold it is there (holding steady).

5. Atlanta – 10:1 – The weather is nice all-year-round, there is a lot of industry there, the southern culture is very much present and CNN is based down there. I am sure the cast members could do SOMETHING at the network. Maybe get Lou Dobbs a cup of coffee (black)? It could be a little too “southern” for MTV’s liking though. I know the first time I see the “stars and bars,” I’ll likely vomit. (up from 5:1).

6. Vancouver – 15:1 – See my description for Toronto. Except, this is lower on the list because MTV produced that ridiculous spoof movie based on The Real World: Vancouver (holding steady).

7. Any “Spring Break” destination – 20:1 – Daytona Beach, Florida? South Padre, Texas? Cancun? Aruba? I used to think that MTV and Bunim/Murray would never consider an “exotic” destination for this show simply because that would further kill the idea of what “the real world” is like. But then I realized that idea went out the window about the time Dan and Flora were raising hell in Miami all those years ago. So, why not send a group of young people to an exotic resort to “work” and to hook up with a series of young tikes spending mommy and daddy’s hard earned money? (new to the list).

8. Phoenix – 25:1 – I think it would be funny to see the cast members bitching about the heat the whole five months they are there. Plus, I hear that the people are beautiful out there. That could be reason enough to keep it on the list (up from 20:1).

9. Orlando – 35:1 – It’s a nice, fun city drawn to tourists of all ages and I’m sure a group of twenty-somethings could get themselves in enough trouble with the people down there. I’d like to see them work at Disney World, then watch several of them get caught having sex in the “happiest ladies room in the world.” Then again, I don’t see Disney working together with Viacom on something like this. That knocks it down real low simply for that reason (up from 10:1).

10. Nashville – 40:1 – Maybe MTV could bring a little country flavor to its most famous reality show? Well… ..maybe not…(up from 25:1).

11. Sydney – 50:1 – It’s bound to happen at some point since Australia is beautiful and has an interesting culture. It seems like a logistical nightmare to me though (up from 40:1).

12. Tokyo – 75:1 – Speaking of logistical nightmares, I feel like if MTV moved a camera crew and “seven strangers” into a Tokyo apartment, the city would collapse on itself due to overpopulation. Then again, do you think MTV could even get the space there? Anyway, this place intrigues me primarily because Japanese people are about as, if not more, nutty about popular culture than us wacky Americans that watch MTV and VH-1 all day. I’d love to see some young Americans live life over there for five months (up from 50:1).

13. Detroit – 150:1 – Isn’t it funny that I would put cities on separate CONTIENTS ahead of Detroit? Are there any redeeming qualities about Detroit? Anyone want to answer that? Will the cast members work for the Ford Motor Company or for one of the professional sports teams? (up from 100:1).

14. A luxury cruise ship — 200:1 – It would be just like The Love Boat, right down to the staff wearing the white suits! Sadly, this doesn’t seem a likely possibility (new to the list).

15. Salt Lake City – 500:1 – I hear it’s nice there, but… uh… kind of… boring too. But there’s always the added bonus of possibly seeing some polygamy, so it HAS to make the list somewhere, right? (up from 150:1).

Have a good weekend and a great 2005!

— Coogan

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