Thursday, January 28, 2010

TV News & Notes/American Idol Recap

The last season of Lost kicks off with a two-hour season premier on Tuesday, February 2. A recap hour airs at 7 p.m. on ABC, followed by the premiere. If you need a quick refresher,
Rob Owen of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sets the stage for the final season:

• What became of Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell) when she used a rock to pound on a bomb after getting dragged, tangled in chains, into a pit?

• Presuming the bomb detonated -- the screen did go white -- did the explosion do what Jack (Matthew Fox) said it would: Re-set time and prevent Oceanic 815 from crashing on the island in the first place?

• John Locke (Terry O'Quinn) turned out not to be Locke, who died and evidently was not resurrected. Instead it was some sort of unnamed island entity (the smoke monster's cousin, perhaps?), previously seen as The Man in Black (Titus Welliver), who took the form of Locke.

• Ben (Michael Emerson) stabbed Jacob (Mark Pellegrino), angry at him for allowing faux Locke to meet Jacob the first time he asked, even though Ben was on the island asking to see Jacob for decades.

Well... not exactly. According to “Just days after NBC sealed its $33 million exit deal with Conan O'Brien, the Peacock has greenlighted a drama pilot from O'Brien's Conaco shingle. Untitled drama -- previously known as Justice-- from scribe John Eisendrath, revolves around a former Supreme Court Justice who bails from the Court in order to start his own legal practice. As part of O'Brien's departure last week, Conaco remains set up right now at Universal Media Studios, where it still has a year and a half left on its deal. Other Conaco projects in development include a sitcom starring Paul Rust; a buddy laffer from Steve Tompkins; a dating sitcom from Stephen Engel; a show set in a coffeehouse, from Kevin Cecil and Andy Riley; and a sci-fi comedy from Brian Kelley and Paul Simms.”

From “Forest Whitaker is in final negotiations to headline the Criminal Minds spin-off, has confirmed. The Oscar winner will play Cooper, the head agent of a group of profilers who work outside the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit. The mysterious Cooper has been off the grid for the last eight years. CBS could not confirm the casting. The new team will be introduced in a spring episode of Criminal Minds. Minds executive producer and writer Chris Mundy wrote the spin-off, which is based on a story by him and executive producer and showrunner Ed Bernero. Whitaker is no stranger to television, having appeared on The Shield as Vic Mackey's nemesis Lt. Jon Kavanaugh, and as a stroke victim on ER, for which he earned an Emmy nomination.”

Remember back in the old days, when we would have to wait until the network upfronts in May to find out if How I Met Your Mother would survive the chopping block? Well, not anymore! CBS announced this week that the series has already been picked up for a sixth season. Meanwhile, the Eye network has also given HIMYM co-creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas a pilot order on their new sitcom, Livin on a Prayer. The new comedy will focus on a young dating couple who are figuring out the next phase of their relationship in Pittsburgh. So basically Marshall and Lilly in Pittsburgh. While there have been plenty of examples of creators leaving a show to go start a new one, Bays and Thomas have remained very involved with HIMYM throughout the first five seasons, so it will be interesting to see where how this new development will affect Ted and the gang in New York City.

American Idol was delayed in the Denver area last night due to President Obama's State of the Union Address and then the Republican Party response by new Virginia Governor, Bob McDonnell (from the it's a small world department: I apparently went to preschool with Governor McDonnell's son). With the 40 billion cable news stations in the world today, it drives me crazy when politics interferes with my regularly scheduled programming.

We gotta have some priorities, people!

I wasn't crazy about the Los Angeles auditions on Tuesday night at all, but the Dallas show last night more than made up for it.

As much as I like the idea of the celebrity guest judges for each of the audition shows, the execution has come up a little short as most of them have failed to make any impact or even an impression on the proceedings (did Joe Jonas say anything more than "yes" to every contestant that passed through?). That being said, with the recent announcement that this is Simon's final season, I'm ready to pass the torch of resident meanie to Neil Patrick Harris based on his stint last night - as long as it doesn't interfere with his day job as Barney Stinson on HIMYM. At times it felt like Neil was running the show and wasn't afraid of stepping on any toes, especially Simon's. In fact, is it too late to replace Ellen?

On to the contestants:

From L.A., Jim Ranger (the worship minister) and Andrew Garcia (sang the Maroon 5 song) were they only two that blipped on my radar, but Dallas provided more than just a couple legit contenders in my book.

1. Todrick Hall - He sang the cutesy song about the audition process and I still really liked him despite that. He's one of the first contestants so far that seems to already have a radio-ready voice.

2. Dave Pittman - the guy from Arkansas that has turrets syndrome. I think America could get behind him and he had a good voice, good vibe, and good look. All very important.

3. Christian Spears - she's the cancer survivor that's only 16 years old, but if everything breaks right I could totally see her going on a Jordin Sparks type run.

4. Kimberly Carver - Simon and NPH were split on this girl's jazzy stylings. I don't know how far she could go, but I liked her style and I liked her.

5. Lloyd Thomas - I don't think the dock working father of two has any chance of winning the whole thing but he has a great personality and I wouldn't mind if he stuck around for a while.

What did you think? Did I leave any of your favorites out? Let me know your thoughts below and don't forget that the auditions that took place here in Denver airs this coming Tuesday night! Can't wait to see what kind of talent (or lack thereof) our city has to offer.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Ticket Master

Maybe it’s just me, but lately it seems like ordering event tickets online is getting more difficult than ever before.

I remember when you used to have to either purchase by phone or go stand in line at a physical location; so when websites like started popping up, being able to
see your favorite team or band became a lot easier and more convenient.

Now, buying tickets online is about as convenient as a root canal.

I understand that these sites have to take necessary security measures because there are too many crazy people out there and identity theft is a serious issue, but after a recent incident, standing in a line… for hours on end… in the rain, doesn’t seem like such a bad idea anymore.

Since my poor Wife has been putting up with so much glorious playoff football recently, I wanted to do something nice and take her to a concert downtown. I went to online to order the tickets without a single inkling that I was about to embark on a spiraling decent toward madness.

Everything started off nice and easy as I found the concert event page and selected two tickets in the section we wanted to sit in.

So far, so good.

Then everything began to fall apart when I was asked for my login name and password. Two immediate problems with this request: (1) I set up my account with this particular ticket site when I was in college (the first time I was enrolled, over 10 years ago) so forgive me for being a little fuzzy on that information. (2) There is a little ticking clock at the bottom of the screen serving as a constant reminder that you only have two minutes to complete your order.

So now I feel like MacGyver trying to disarm a bomb while at the same time combing the recesses of my brain for my password info.

It should also be noted that I now have so many online accounts that I’ve actually started a written list to help me remember what password goes to what website. Of course you can’t have the same password for every account because some require five letters, some require six, and some require five to six letters with a number included.

You know, for your convenience.

After I had tried every password I could think of, I finally conceded and hit the dreaded “forgot password?” link. This took me to another page where I had to enter my e-mail address for them to send me a new, generic password since I am apparently too dumb to remember my own.

This meant that I had to open a new web page, go to my e-mail account, login, and keep hitting refresh until I finally received the new password. Naturally the clock on my original page ran out, so I had to go back to the home page and start over because you get the “warning, page expired” notice if you just try to hit the back button.

I learned that one the hard way.

Once I had reselected my seats and successfully logged in with my new idiot-proof password, I was greeted by my new favorite security device, the word verification tool.

It’s the little word box that pops up before you can proceed to your desired page that presents you with some odd combination of letters or words that have been distorted and you have to retype them correctly to move forward.

And the word phrases never make sense. It’s always something like:

aardvark rain


tulsa indigo


immortal goat cheese

I was almost home free but I remembered that I was going to pay for our tickets with a brand new credit card instead of the card that was already listed on the account. You would think that were would be a simple “add another credit card” option, but my laptop legitimately began laughing out loud at the very thought of something so accommodating.

Nope, I had to go to the “edit account settings” link and add the new card information and I was just about done when the clock ran out again.

At this point, there were so many tears in my eyes, I could barely see the screen anymore.

I went back to the home page, found my event, selected my seats, logged in my password, typed in the word verification phrase, clicked the check-out button, accepted the $14 worth of “convenience” charges, and finally bought my tickets.

The whole process took a half hour out of my day and probably a few minutes off my life but after what I just went through, I can guarantee that I am going to enjoy every minute of that concert.

It may be the last one I ever attend.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

TV News & Notes/American Idol Recap

Hope for Haiti Telethon
From “Bruce Springsteen, Jay-Z, Bono and The Edge, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, Keith Urban, Jennifer Hudson, and Alicia Keys are among the heavy hitters participating in Friday's 'Hope for Haiti' telethon. Performances from the telethon, which will be broadcast from New York, Los Angeles, London and Haiti, will also be available on iTunes for 99 cents each starting Saturday, and all proceeds will go to Haitian relief. The two-hour, commercial-free special — starting at 8/7c on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CNN, BET, the CW, HBO, MTV, VH1 and CMT — will be headlined by George Clooney in Los Angeles, Wyclef Jean in New York and Anderson Cooper in Haiti.

Neil Patrick Harris to Guest Star on Glee

Also from “Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog director, Joss Whedon, and Neil Patrick Harris may be making sweet music together yet again. The How I Met Your Mother Star is nearing a deal to appear in the May sweeps episode of Glee that will be directed by Whedon, Entertainment Weekly reports. Ryan Murphy, creator of the Golden Globe-winning freshman series, would create a role especially for Harris, which would entail a fair share of singing and dancing. Zachary Woodlee, who choreographed the musical number in HIMYM's 100th episode, would also take part.”

The Latest on the NBC Late Night Saga
From “The decision to let O’Brien walk apparently came down to who was cheaper to let go. Leno has an ironclad, 'brilliantly written' agreement that guarantees his production company a staggering $150 million if NBC Universal axes his flailing primetime show, an insider said.”

ALSO, "FX Networks president John Landgraf said he would jump at the chance to get Conan O’Brien to host a late night show for FX “in a heartbeat” if Conan made himself available to basic cable."

While Conan would definitely be able to get more money and (initial) exposure on a major network like Fox, I personally believe that a move to a cable network like FX could prove to be more beneficial in the long run. He could get back to being himself and within ten years, I think there will be some cable channels that will be regularly bringing in higher ratings that the traditional networks (i.e. NBC). No matter where Coco goes, he's going to lose to Jay (and maybe even Dave) for the first couple of years if he airs at 11:35 p.m. His team has to ride it out and think long term. Cable may not be the worst place to do it.

American Idol Recap
Sorry I wasn't able to post the recap from Tuesday night's show yesterday. The Chicago auditions didn't do too much for me (maybe I'm just still stuck on all the talent from Atlanta), although I did enjoy Shania Twain as the guest judge.

Only three really stood out - in a good way - from ChiTown:

1. Katelyn Epperly - she led off the night and was there despite going through some family problems. I'm naturally drawn to people that have a unique, original vibe and it seems like Katelyn certainly does. Can't wait to see her if she can stand out in the Hollywood setting.

2. Paige Dechausse - Simon didn't care for her as much as the other judges, and I do agree she does need to turn down the self-indulgence in her singing. If she does, she could do well.

3. Charity Vance - Her parents run a hair salon from their home and Charity sings for the customers. I could easily see her getting swallowed up by Hollywood, but she was definitely good enough to make it to the next round

We got a lot more of the same last night in Orlando:

1. Jermaine Purifoy - put a fresh twist on Tony Bennett's classic standard "Smile"

2. Matthew Lawrence - he was the one who spent "four birthdays" in prison but Idol is a great place for redemption stories.

3. Shelby Dressel - she was the girl that has the underdeveloped cranial nerve that causes a slight facial deformity. I was actually really impressed with the tone of her voice despite her obvious nervousness which led to her forgetting the words of Norah Jones' "Turn Me On".

4. Jarrold Norrell - because any good audition should end with you getting escorted out of the building in handcuffs.

Who were your favorites over the past couple nights? Did I miss anyone? Let me know below!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Trivia Wars Bonus Material

This column started as a 1,300 word short story and there was a lot of stuff that landed on the cutting room floor. Fortunately I was smart enough to think of this Bonus Feature idea so I can include some of it in this space.

> I was going to start the column with the following about Ben Affleck but other than cranking out a few good jokes, it really didn't add anything to the story I was trying to tell. It took me a long time to finally cut it because I really liked it but at least I can include it here:

What have I ever done to Ben Affleck?

I apparently must have committed some kind of egregious offense against the movie star, because he keeps ruining my life.

First of all, he will occasionally make a decent film to lure me back in, only to follow it up with a string of bombs that are so bad, he might as well take my money at gunpoint and save me the trouble of wasting the time. For every Good Will Hunting and Dogma, there have been ten Giglis and Daredevils.

Contributing to the delinquency of moviegoers is one thing, but now Affleck is attacking me in my everyday life.

> The other thing that was really hard to leave out was referencing the college football game a couple of years ago between Kentucky and LSU. The Wildcats took a late lead and were so excited about upsetting the Tigers that some of the Kentucky players even dumped the Gatorade all over their coach only to witness LSU win on a miracle pass on the last play of the game. The Bull and I couldn't help but make the comparison at the bar after we had lost the other night. You should have seen the way we prematurely celebrated the win only to have Moe pull the rug out from under us.

Here are the video highlights of that Kentucky-LSU game (including the Gatorade bath):

> And finally, as bad as this experience was, nothing will ever top my Frasier trivia disaster back in Virginia. I wanted to reference this one too, but again, it didn't add anything to this particular story.

I still have a hard time reliving this nightmare but here it is in case you do:


I will never forgive myself for what I did last night. There is no punishment or shame that anyone could heap upon me that could be worse than the mental torture that I'm still putting myself through a day later.

It all started innocently enough... it always does.

I was hanging out with my buddy Paul at the Monarch Sports Grille in downtown Norfolk at Old Dominion University (PS. this is my new favorite place in the world. It's the nicest, cleanest sports bar in town and even though it's on the ODU campus, it's part of the new Marriott hotel so it's upscale enough to keep out the cheap, noisy college riff-raff).

The Monarch is right around the corner from my Girlfriend's new apartment, so I've been stopping in regularly to catch a few innings of a Phillies game or just hang out for a while - and by "stopping in regularly", I mean that the entire wait staff knows me by name now, knows my drink of choice without me asking anymore, and they've even started turning the channel to the Phillies games as I walk in the door without me asking. Now if I can only get them all to shout out "Josh!" in unison as I walk in like the gang did for Norm Peterson on "Cheers", I'd be set.

All that to say, that I've been hanging out at the Monarch enough to know that they hold a Trivia Night on Wednesdays and my team has come in second place the last two weeks. The first time we played, I was there with my Girlfriend and some of her friends and I thought the trivia was fun but was paying more attention to the TV than the questions. It wasn't until we won a $25 gift certificate to the Monarch (that covered our tab that night) that I was hooked and have now made it part of my regular weekly routine.

The girls couldn't make it last night so it was just me and Paul and a nice guy we met, Don, that was staying in the hotel on business (my Girlfriend made it for the bonus round, but more on that in a minute).

Here's how Trivia Night works at the Monarch: there are four rounds with four questions in each round. The guy who runs the game asks a question over the microphone and you have like three minutes to write your answer down on a piece of paper they give you and then turn it in. Each question in the first round is worth 10 points, each is worth 20 in the second, and so on.

Then comes the crucial bonus round.

There are only four questions in the bonus round. The first one is worth 20 points, the second is worth 40, the third is worth 60 and the fourth is worth 80. The catch to the bonus round is that if you answer a question incorrectly, those point values are deducted from your score, so you gotta play it safe and skip a question if you just don't know it.

Then there's a final jeopardy round where you can wager your points based on the final category and then you have three minutes to answer the final question.

So, we were plugging along and were tied for second going into the bonus round. There was one group of guys who were answering EVERYTHING correct and were way ahead so we knew we had to make up some ground and be aggressive in the bonus round.

We got the first one right, skipped on the second, and then my Girlfriend showed up just as we were trying to answer the third (what are the only two Great Lakes that only border one U.S. state). We had Ontario but she swooped in and reminded us of Huron, so we got that one right and then were treated to a gimmie with the fourth bonus question (what actress has won the most Best Lead Actress Oscar awards - Katherine Hepburn, thank you very much).

With getting three out of four in the bonus round, we had moved up to 300 total points and were all alone in second place behind the group who now had 460 points. We knew we had to swing for the fences on the final jeopardy question, but it would all come down to how much we would wager on the category.

Two weeks ago, the category was "Inventors" and last week the category was "Geography", so I was prepared to be cautious, but starting doing a victory dance when the guy announced our final category was "Television".


The ONE thing I know more about than anything else on the planet.

I couldn't believe it. Paul and I wanted to wager it all and even though my Girlfriend trusted me, she wanted to play it safe and just leave a little in case of the worst.

I was so excited, I proceeded to give her some incoherent, rousing speech on how I would carry us and if there was ever a category, NAY, a moment to go all in on something, this was it. She finally conceded and I turned in our wager of 300 points and then we waited for the final question.

The thing that I will always take from what happened next is how simple the question was and how SURE I was of the answer.

"What television series holds the record of winning 37 primetime Emmy awards?"

That was it.

Instantly, my Girlfriend and Paul looked at me and said "Frasier!!"

My Girlfriend was so excited because this was a slam-dunk question about my favorite show of all time.

"No." I said calmly as I began to write two little letters on the sheet of paper:

"E" and "R".

"Really?" My Girlfriend said. "I thought 'Frasier' won the most Emmys," Paul added.

"Frasier holds the record for most Outstanding Comedy Series wins with five," I said astutely in all of my vast wisdom and knowledge. "'ER' has the most awards."

Some people around the bar were mentioning "Seinfeld" and "M*A*S*H*" ran through my head for a moment, but the more I thought about it, the more convinced I was that it was "ER".

Here was my thinking: "ER" has been on FOREVER. It's had so many guest directors and guest stars, not to mention a brand new cast every other year. I just thought there were too many opportunities for nominations and awards and I just COULDN'T THINK of how "Frasier" would be at 37 total awards. I knew it had won the five Outstanding Comedy Series Emmys, I knew it had won a couple of writing and guest star awards, and I knew Kelsey Grammar and David Hyde Pierce had won a couple acting statues; but in my brain I just couldn't get the total past 20-25, AT THE MOST.

At this point, I was supremely confident and we turned in our slip of paper and waited.

I actually stood up as he made the announcement.

And then, everything went silent.

It was like getting shot in the heart by an arrow from a bow. Instant, overwhelming pain and then nothing. I actually got woozy and almost missed my seat as I fell backwards.


My favorite show of all time.


The show I would actually die defending as the greatest scripted series ever.


The REASON why I love sitcoms and why I am writing a post on a pop culture website RIGHT NOW.


I still can't believe it - but sure enough, it's true (Click here for all of "Frasier's" nominations and awards).


I looked it all up when I got home and in my defense, "ER" has been NOMINATED for the most Emmys ever (122) so I guess I heard that somewhere and the wires in my brain got crossed.

But how did I not know that about "Frasier"? I'm the guy that can tell you every episode from every season (almost in order) but I don't know that they've won the most Emmys of all-time?? That would be like if you were a life-long Yankees fan and didn't know that they have the most World Series titles or something.

Grossly unacceptable.

The team that was way ahead got the answer right (of course) and won going away. Fortunately for us, everyone else got the answer wrong as well and there was a three-way tie for second place.

I kinda redeemed myself with winning the tie-breaker question (Which of the following was NOT an actual G.I. Joe character: Beachhead, Hummer, Snow Job - the answer of course, would be Hummer) so we maintained our second place title for yet another week.

Even though we wouldn't have won even if we had gotten the answer correct, I HAVE to get that one... right? Should my rights as a "Frasier" fan be suspended indefinitely? Should I not be able to watch reruns for a specified probation period?

I honestly didn't know what to do next.

Dejected and defeated, I couldn't stop thinking about it when I got home. After searching for all of this information online, I was still restless so I threw in a season five episode on my DVD player. It took a while but I finally relaxed because of the simple knowledge that in my mind, and in the record books, "Frasier" will always be the best.

Trivia Wars: The Clown Show Strikes Again

Competing in bar trivia has become one of my new favorite hobbies over the past couple years. I had no idea that bar trivia was even an actual, orgainzed activity, but I quickly got hooked because it serves as the perfect outlet for all of the useless information I’ve mentally acquired over the past 29 years.

There is a group of us that are now Thursday night regulars at a sports bar right down the street from our apartment (it’s purely coincidental that my Wife and I will be moving into a new place across the street from the bar in a couple of weeks. I promise).

The thing I like about the trivia at this bar is that the same teams come out to play every week, so we’ve gotten to know our competition and have developed a little history over the months. But there’s one team that has legitimately become our archrivals. We hate them so much. We hate them the way that you are supposed to hate people that are cruel to animals or the Devil or NBC.

They are the evil empire of our bar trivia.

They are The No Talent A-- Clowns.

(Beyond just hating them for always winning, we hate that they have a great team name, which of course comes from the classic line from Office Space.)

Our team, Suit Up!, has had multiple second and third place finishes and we’re always in the game going into the final round; but we’ve never won it all because The Clown Show (as I’ve started calling them) ALWAYS wins. I’m sure I’m exaggerating. I’m almost positive that Slow Children Playing or The Sandlot have won a couple rounds along the way, but I’m usually comatose by the time the winner is crowned after another failed attempt at taking down the Clown.

I can’t see this past Thursday night getting topped, though. I’m positive that our most recent defeat will go down in bar trivia history as one of the most epic collapses of all time.

The fundamental problem with our team is that we’re just too young. At almost 30 years old, I’m one of the oldest members of the squad so we’re in trouble with any questions about events that happened before 1980.

And apparently a lot of stuff happened before then.

Getting desperate, we decided to bring in a couple of ringers. We have a brother/sister combo on our team (Greg and Laura) and their well-educated parents that have lived all over the globe were in town so we convinced them to come to trivia this past week and help us out. For the first three rounds our planned worked like a charm. Greg and Laura’s folks were answering questions we normally wouldn’t have had a prayer of getting correct. They got a Lichtenstein answer, something about the Sea of Japan, and something else about the Warsaw Pact.

I just sat back and enjoyed the ride as we cruised into the final question in first place. This was new territory for us as we’ve never been in first place at this point before.

The final question was a four-parter about the prestigious acting career of Mr. Ben Affleck and broke down like this: (1) name Ben Affleck’s brother that is also an actor – easy, Casey. (2) What was Ben’s two letter name from Armageddon – super easy, A.J. (3) Which female actress starred with Ben in Forces of Nature – super duper easy, Sandra Bullock. (4) What was Ben Affleck’s first credited film –



There was no way we had come this far just to lose. We had to figure it out. After several moments of racking our brains, I thought we were done for until our team member Heather blurted out Dazed and Confused.

That was it. That was the answer.

I knew in that moment we had won and taken down The Clown Show.

Still, I couldn’t help but pace the floor as all the final answers were collected by Moe, the bar D.J. who runs trivia night. Moe knew the stakes and what was on the line. He even drew out the drama a bit to let the tension run a little higher than usual.

First answer: correct. Second answer: correct. Third answer: correct.

We were almost home.

For the final part, Moe read the question again and then let the silence sit for a few seconds. Then he said the magical words "Dazed". "And". "Confused".

Our table erupted.

I was speechless. We had done it.

I was on the brink of euphoria until the world started moving in slow motion and I saw my buddy Greg trying to calm everyone at the table down. I knew exactly what had happened. In our moment of premature celebration we had forgotten about one of Moe’s favorite things to do.

Dazed and Confused…” He paused, “Is the wrong answer!”

(The correct answer is School Ties which apparently lauched Brendan Fraser's career. No wonder I've blocked it out of my memory.)

Not only had we lost, we now looked like fools in the process. I stood paralyzed as the final results flashed up on the big screen at the bar.

Second Place: Suit Up!

First Place (once again and forever more): The No Talent A-- Clowns.

That was our best chance. We threw our best punch and still came up short. We probably should just give up and accept that fate has destined us to perpetually finish behind The Clown Show.

Until we try again this week.

*Click here for Trivia Wars Bonus Material

Thursday, January 14, 2010

TV News & Notes

Getting Political
Whether you're a democrat or a republican, we can all get behind Tonight Show host Conan O'Brien in the ongoing NBC late night saga. Los Angeles based designer Mike Mitchell has recently created an Internet buzz with his new "I'm with Coco" politically styled image of the (current) Tonight Show anchor. In case you're wondering where I personally stand on the issue, just last night I uploaded the Coco image as my new Facebook profile picture - and you can join the fan page

Not the Only One Going to Fox
While rumors and speculation still swirl that O'Brien will be moving over to Fox, another comedian with Saturday Night Live roots will be creating a new series for the network. According to Variety, "Dana Carvey is plotting a TV comeback, partnering with scribe-turned-TV host Spike Feresten to develop and star in a new sketch comedy series for Fox. Fox has picked up a half-hour pilot presentation for the as-yet unnamed Carvey/Feresten project, which will shoot next month." Well, isn't that special?

Thanks for Playing
I have to give The Bachelor producers credit. As much as I hate the premise of the show and am losing respect for myself for watching the premiere last week AND the new episode this past Monday, at least they are giving someone like me some plot lines to get interested in. In the premiere, it was so fascinating to watch Michelle's mental breakdown (and that's going to be a fun ongoing plot line as long as she sticks around). On Monday's episode, bachelorette Rozlyn was dismissed from the premises because of an inappropriate relationship she entered into with one of show's producers. The awkwardness of Chris Harrison's confrontation with Rozlyn was The Office worthy and always makes for great television. Here's hoping for more of that throughout the rest of the season because I'm going to lose interest quick if the focus shifts back to desperate people trying to find genuine love in front of TV cameras.

Golden Globes this Sunday Night
I'm typically not a big fan of the Golden Globes award show , but I will definitely be tuning in this coming Sunday night (NBC, 7 p.m. MST) with underrated comedian Ricky Gervais (creator and star of the the original The Office and Extras) taking on hosting duties. If you do happen to care about the nominated films, shows, and actors, visit the Golden Globes official website here.

American Idol Night Two Recap: Hotlanta!
I couldn't help but notice that the second night of American Idol's season nine premiere made the Tuesday night offering from Boston seem generic. Atlanta has always proved to be a hotbed for talented contestants (Clay Aiken and Jennifer Hudson, to name a couple, first auditioned there) and Georgia's capital city did not disappoint this time around.

Here's a quick rundown of the contestants that really stood out:

1.Jermaine Sellers - He is the church singer that takes care of his ailing mother, but more importantly he is the first contestant the stood out to me with that "superstar" quality. It's annoying when someone covers a song that either sounds too similar or to different from the original. His rendition of Joan Osborne's One of Us felt fresh but still maintained the integrity of the song we know. Great first impression.

2. Vanessa Wolfe - Like Kara said, I always respect and am intrigued by authentic people. This small town girl from Tennessee is very raw and may not be totally ready for the American Idol monster (as Simon alluded to) but for me, that's what the show is supposed to be about. You can sense her determination to make a better life for herself. Hopefully her voice can lead the way.

3. Skii Bo Ski - When I woke up yesterday morning, I had no idea what a "Skii Bo Si" was but now, that combination of letters actually means something (I'm not sure what) to me today. I thought for sure he was just another clown show but you could see the "uh oh" crash across the judges' faces when they realized he actually has a decent voice. Gotta give the judges credit for acknowledging talent despite the craziness and if Mr. Bo Ski can tune down the insanity a bit, he could do very well in Hollywood (frighteningly enough).

4. Mallorie Haley - as soon as she walked out, my Wife huffed, "there's your sex kitten to enjoy for the season!" Well, If you insist. Some bloggers are already drawing comparisons to Carrie Underwood and while I'm not willing to go that far quite yet, there does seem to be some potential there.

What did you think of night two in Hotlanta? Did I miss any of your favorites?

Let me know!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

American Idol Recap: Season Premiere

The ninth season of American Idol started off a little different than we’re typically used to last night. First, this was the first episode without judge Paula Abdul (it was strange for a moment but then I had forgotten all about her by the end of the night) and then secondly, we found out on Monday that this will be Simon Cowell’s last season as an Idol judge. Simon will certainly be a greater loss than Paula - as he has become the face of the show - but if last night proved anything, it’s that the American Idol machine is going to keep on rolling no matter who is on board this year.

One of the big reasons I’ve always enjoyed the show is that is broken up into three completely different parts. I like that it goes from the audition process to the Hollywood week to the actual competition, and through that we get to see certain contestants evolve as the rest of the field gets weeded out.

The auditions kicked off in Boston and on the whole it was everything we’ve come to expect from this portion of the series. We got a good sampling of the good, the bad, and the crazy, and as I tweeted last night, I always forget how much I enjoy the delusional contestants until I see them again. Good to have you back, crazies! For some people, it’s like watching a train wreck, but it goes beyond that for me. It’s like a fascinating sociological observation that’s focused on subjects with absolutely no self awareness.

I just don’t know how you can go through life thinking you are so talented at something when there’s obvious evidence to the contrary (and p
lease refrain from the "then why are you writing?" jokes).

In my opinion the singers that stood out the most and could make a legitimate run if everything breaks right for them were, in the following order:

1. Tyler Grady – the drummer that broke both of his hands falling out of a tree. I really liked his Jim Morrison/classic rock vibe and his personality in general (despite the fact that he fell out of a tree and broke both of his hands).

2. Ashley Curtis – Simon said she has “it” and he knows better than most of us, so let’s keep an eye on her.

3. Maddy Curtis – the 16 year old girl that has three brothers with Down’s Syndrome. I think she just caught me off guard because I had no expectations for her going in. I need to see her again in the Hollywood setting to get a better read.

4. Justin Williams – good looking guy + great voice + cancer survivor = a winning American Idol formula. He has potential to go very deep on this show.

5. Katie Stevens – another young girl that has the grandmother suffering from Alzheimer’s. She had that Jordan Sparks quality about her but, like Maddy, I want to see a little more from her in a more pressure filled situation.

What did you think of the Idol premiere? Who were your favorites and who were your favorite crazies? And what did you think of the show going sans Paula and Victoria Beckham’s stint as a guest judge?

I’ll be back tomorrow with the new TV News & Notes Feature and a quick recap of tonight’s Idol. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Conan Says No Deal to NBC!

This development in the NBC late night saga was so big, it warranted its own post. Current Tonight Show host Conan O'Brien has officially said "no thanks" to NBC's proposal of moving Jay Leno to O'Brien's current 11:35 p.m. (EST) timeslot, pushing The Tonight Show to 12:05 a.m. and Jimmy Fallon's show to 1:05 a.m.

O'Brien issued a surprising statement this afternoon (below) and as a Conan fan, I was impressed with his class and ability to stick to his convictions in a situation where no one would blame him for compromising.

NBC announced that there will be a new Tonight Show tonight and I can't wait to tune in and see what happens.

Details to follow...

People of Earth:

In the last few days, I’ve been getting a lot of sympathy calls, and I want to start by making it clear that no one should waste a second feeling sorry for me. For 17 years, I’ve been getting paid to do what I love most and, in a world with real problems, I’ve been absurdly lucky. That said, I’ve been suddenly put in a very public predicament and my bosses are demanding an immediate decision.

Six years ago, I signed a contract with NBC to take over The Tonight Show in June of 2009. Like a lot of us, I grew up watching Johnny Carson every night and the chance to one day sit in that chair has meant everything to me. I worked long and hard to get that opportunity, passed up far more lucrative offers, and since 2004 I have spent literally hundreds of hours thinking of ways to extend the franchise long into the future. It was my mistaken belief that, like my predecessor, I would have the benefit of some time and, just as important, some degree of ratings support from the prime-time schedule. Building a lasting audience at 11:30 is impossible without both.

But sadly, we were never given that chance. After only seven months, with my Tonight Show in its infancy, NBC has decided to react to their terrible difficulties in prime-time by making a change in their long-established late night schedule.

Last Thursday, NBC executives told me they intended to move the Tonight Show to 12:05 to accommodate the Jay Leno Show at 11:35. For 60 years the Tonight Show has aired immediately following the late local news. I sincerely believe that delaying the Tonight Show into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn’t the Tonight Show. Also, if I accept this move I will be knocking the Late Night show, which I inherited from David Letterman and passed on to Jimmy Fallon, out of its long-held time slot. That would hurt the other NBC franchise that I love, and it would be unfair to Jimmy.

So it has come to this: I cannot express in words how much I enjoy hosting this program and what an enormous personal disappointment it is for me to consider losing it. My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of The Tonight Show. But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction. Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the Internet a time slot doesn’t matter. But with the Tonight Show, I believe nothing could matter more.

There has been speculation about my going to another network but, to set the record straight, I currently have no other offer and honestly have no idea what happens next. My hope is that NBC and I can resolve this quickly so that my staff, crew, and I can do a show we can be proud of, for a company that values our work.

Have a great day and, for the record, I am truly sorry about my hair; it’s always been that way.



Nothing Suits Me Like a Suit

If it is ever revealed that How I Met Your Mother has been playing possum over the last season and a half just to set up last night's epic 100th episode, I would actually be OK with that. Beyond seeing Ted step foot into his future wife's apartment for the first time, Barney's story line of having to choose between a hot girl and his suits was brilliant.

Here are the lines from Barney's musical number (below) that killed me:

"To score a ten would be just fine, but I'd rather be dressed to the nines"

"A wingman I can wear"

"A perfect way to snare a girl with daddy issues"

"My Sunday Best are my best friends, send Casual Friday down the laundry shoot"

Monday, January 11, 2010

Forget Jay vs. Conan, It's NBC vs. Me Bonus Material

The NBC-Jay Leno-Conan O'Brien saga has been unfolding so quickly, it's been difficult to keep up with all of the developments. I will be regularly updating all the new breaking news on this post, starting with these latest posts from around the Internet, so keep checking in.


- Jay and Conan Rip NBC (from

- Did NBC Bumble Into Brilliance? (from

- NBC Unveils Six More Dramas (from

- NBC Pres: There Is No Tension With Conan (from

- All Eyes Turn To Conan: Will He Stay or Will He Go? (from

- It's Official: Leno Exiting Primetime (from

- What Will Replace Leno at 10? (from

- Conan Can Turn to Fox (from

- CBS exec: NBC's Leno experiment didn't work (from

- Who's Really to Blame for NBC's Late Night Mess (from

Forget Jay vs. Conan, it's NBC vs. Me

Forgive me for not submitting a traditional Monday slice of life column. I had a couple of ideas in the works, but then NBC pushed me a little too far this past Friday and I haven't been able to concentrate on anything since.

I've written about this a lot during the past year, but to quickly catch up any new readers: NBC used to be my favorite network in the 90's, but a string of bad decisions has driven the once gold standard of television into a struggling wasteland. The one recent NBC bright spot for me was when late night talk show host Jay Leno finally decided to retire and the Peacock promoted my favorite host, Conan O'Brien, to The Tonight Show at 11:35 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time). But when Leno realized he was so easy to replace and wanted back on the airwaves. In what will go down as one of the worst broadcasting decisions of all time, the Peacock panicked at the thought of Leno going to a competitor so they scrapped their entire 10 p.m. programming block and handed over five hours a week of prime real estate to Leno. Naturally it hasn't worked and Jay's new show is regularly beaten by whatever ABC and CBS throw up against it (including reruns).

So that leads us to this past week when rumors started swirling that Leno's 10 p.m. show would be cancelled all together and I was pleased to see that NBC might finally be coming to their senses.

Until I saw this headline on Friday, "NBC to Conan: Move To Midnight Or Take A Walk"

Basically what they're trying to do now is move Leno back to 11:35 for a half hour show, Conan would air from midnight to 1:05 a.m. and then poor Jimmy Fallon would be pushed to 1:05-2:05 a.m. But if Conan doesn't want to comply with that adjustment, then NBC would be willing to let him out of his contract so that he could go to another network (If Conan leaves, then Leno would air for an hour from 11:35 p.m. to 12:35 a.m. and Fallon would stay in his spot at 12:35).

If I was Conan, I couldn't get out of there fast enough.

It's so rare that you get a free pass off of a sinking ship and this is the perfect opportunity for him to do just that and move to a more stable (and ultimately more beneficial) situation.

I realize that most every talk show host dreams of anchoring the prestigious Tonight Show, but is it really that prestigious anymore? The Allen to Paar to Carson legacy is amazing and worth reverence, but it seems it's been living off of the legacy aspect over being an actual quality product for almost 20 years.

So what if Conan has to limp away with a slightly bruised ego? Dave Letterman suffered through the exact same situation back in the early 90's and I think he's OK with how everything worked out (PS - it's unbelievable to me that Dave and Conan will have both been screwed by NBC over Leno 18 years apart).

Fox has already expressed interest and I can't imagine a better landing spot for him. It's a thriving network that has connected with the highly coveted 18-49 year old demographic.

In fairness, I think even Conan fans can admit that his jump to 11:35 might have been a little premature. Even he regularly jokes that the older generation just doesn't get his comedy, but the catch is that the younger generation does. If Conan goes to Fox, he can just let Leno run his course for a few more years and then he'd be set up to dominate for the next ten, maybe twenty years with an established, built-in audience at a place that fits with his comedic style and is happy to have him.

Feels like a no-brainer to me.

I just don't know if Conan's pride is going to get in the way and force him to stay at the Peacock for the next time that Leno retires.

I know that NBC doesn't care about my opinion, but this whole situation has just rubbed me the wrong way. As if running a pristine company into the ground wasn't bad enough, now they're directly taking aim at my viewing habits (as I've gotten older, not having to keep myself awake for Conan's later show has been beyond convenient, especially now that I live in the Mountain time zone and his show comes on at 10).

I'm going to wait to hear how it all sorts out before I make any grand proclamations, but a boycott of NBC for at least the rest of this season is not out of the question at this point (and as a huge fan of The Office, that would be extremely difficult to endure).

Growing up, I never understood why people wasted their time with boycotts because you rarely see any positive resutls, but now I'm starting to get it. You just get to a certain point in life where you're tired of annoying decisions being made that affect you but you don't agree with. You know that nothing is going to be done about it and that these conglomerate powerhouses could care less, but sometimes you just have to take a stand to feel a lit bit better about yourself.

I'm getting close to that point with the Peacock.

Besides, as we've seen the network deteriorate over the past decade I really wouldn't be missing that much.

I'm sure I'll be updating any new developments throughout the week and especially on Thursday in the TV News & Notes feature; and don't forget that I'll be starting an American Idol recap on Wednesday morning after the season premiere of the singing competition show on Tuesday night.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

TV News & Notes

Josh Mahler is keeping you updated with what’s going on in television universe

If you haven’t heard already, the ESPN and Discovery cable networks have announced that they will each be launching their own 3-D channels in the near future (ESPN’s will debut this coming summer and Discovery will be taking us to the third dimension sometime in 2011) and I’m personally torn on this issue. The thought of 85 live sporting events in 3-D over the next year (including next year’s college football BCS championship game) is very cool, but I’m nervous about everything going that direction. For me, 3D is fun as something different or a change of pace; I’m not so sure that I want to wear special glasses every time I turn on the TV. What are your thoughts? It’s early enough that I can still be easily swayed to either camp.

Did you happen to catch the mini Friends reunion on Cougar Town last night as Lisa Kudrow dropped by the freshman Courtney Cox series? Even though the show is run by one of my favorites in Bill Lawrence (Spin City, Scrubs), I just haven’t been able to get into it yet this season but had to check this episode out as a Friends fan. I always feel bad for TV actors, because as an audience we just want them to be the characters that we remember them for and it just wasn’t Monica and Phoebe. The other thing that weirds me out about Cougar Town is that I never know which show I’m actually watching because I remember most of the cast from somewhere else. Ian Gomez and Scott Foley came from Felicity (a weekly favorite of an old flame a lifetime ago), Christa Miller and Scott Foley came from Scrubs, and then last night we had Cox and Kudrow from Friends. It was like a bizarre Past Their Prime all-star show.

In other casting news, singer Carrie Underwood is set to make her acting debut on How I Met Your Mother this spring (we’re not going to count that so-called “Christmas” special she did last month). And actresses Mischa Barton - from O.C. fame - and Sharon Stone have each agreed to make separate appearances on the king stunt casting show, Law & Order: SVU, this spring as well. Barton will play a prostitute and Stone will appear an assistant district attorney (no word on any potential interrogation scenes). Ahh, so many jokes, so little time. Moving on!

And finally, Jon Cryer from Two and a Half Men is reportedly saying that co-star Charlie Sheen is adjusting well to being back on the show’s set after his Christmas arrest where he allegedly threatened his wife with a knife. “He’s been incredibly professional, always, but especially in times of personal crisis,” Cyer told People. “He is solid as a rock [and] today was no different… Thankfully a good script can get everybody through awkward moments.”

Makes you wonder what other show that script was from.

Sorry, just couldn’t resist.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Watching The Bachelor with My Bride

Last night I was relaxing in my recliner watching the beginning of the Fiesta Bowl between Boise St. and TCU when my Wife and her friend commandeered the remote and flipped the channel over to ABC for the season premiere of The Bachelor .

I could have easily gotten up and gone into the other room to watch the game on our smaller television set but I’ve become such a HD snob, I was actually willing to suffer through the Bachelor and record the game to watch afterwards (and I'm still clinging to the misguided belief that this was a good way to stretch myself as a television reporter).

Besides, The Bachelor couldn’t be THAT bad.

Could it??

I think my Wife and her friend got a small kick out of watching one of their favorite shows with a fresh perspective through my eyes. Every aspect of the show confounded my entire basis of thinking and reasoning. I’m now interested to know if this is how women feel when they watch something geared specifically towards the masculine demographic, because my brain could not fully process what my eyes were taking in.

Here are a couple quick thoughts that came to me during the two hour torture session:

- This season’s bachelor (“Jake”) is a pilot so the full title of this season is The Bachelor: On the Wings of Love and, yes, the 80’s song of the same name is a brutal one to get stuck in your head.

- By my count, in the first episode alone there were 8,642 pilot/co-pilot references, puns, play on words and one very inappropriate (and disturbing) landing strip joke.

- Jake is already giving Matthew McConaughey a run for his money for the Most Scenes Without Wearing a Shirt award.

- Oh and was Jake nervous? Because he failed to mention it if he was.

- I know the girls want to stand out on their first meeting with the bachelor, but lame jokes and (I can’t even believe I’m typing this) props never make for a good first impression.

- On the flip side, the blondes vs. brunettes pickup football game was not the worst thing in the world.

- Even I have to admit that watching Michelle mentally derail was entertaining. Glad Jake kept her around (despite the fact that she was the ONE person his friends told him to cut loose).

- I know that the producers (heavily) influence who the Bachelor keeps, but this was ridiculous. If he thinks he’s going to be able to find “true love” out of the clown show leftovers he chose then they won’t even be able to find the black box from the emotional plane crash he’s headed for (see, I can do it too!).

- To further prove this point, did you see yesterday where it was released that one of the contestants winds up having a little tryst with a producer of the show? Ouch. I don’t want to say that looks bad on Jake, but… buddy, c’mon! Then again, it might be the first actual relationship the reality series has ever produced (man, I’m on fire!).

I’m going to quit while I’m ahead. But I’m interested in what all the ladies (and other guys that were forced to watch) thought about the premiere – my Wife loved it by the way. I have an uneasy feeling that The Bachelor might sneak his way into our regular Monday night TV Group while we kill time between How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory since half of our group is of the feminine persuasion.


I miss Monday Night Football already.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Updating the Facebook Status Quo Bonus Material

If you're ever feeling bad about yourself or just down in the dumps, then be sure to check out which takes the absolute best (or I guess it's actually the worst) updates, pictures, and replies from Facebook.

The site is updated daily and you can either scroll through all of the additions on the homepage or search by specific categories (state your status, parents/family, TMI, and TypOHs! just to name a few).

I will caution you to not read for too long because you will start to feel sad for humanity and get concerned that some of these people are allowed to participate in political elections and operate motor vehicles. But for a quick pick-me-up, it's the best place to visit!

Kinda like Jersey Shore on demand.

Here are some classic examples:

Updating the Facebook Status Quo

A buddy of mine has been dating a girl for a few months now but I couldn’t help but notice that just last week he finally updated his status to state that they were “In a Relationship”. The next time I saw him I asked what took so long to announce their affiliation with one another and he responded with, “You have to be certain that it’s for real, because once it’s on Facebook it’s for real.”

It was in that moment that I realized how completely social networking has taken over our lives.

Just over 10 years ago, Meg Ryan explained the rush of getting an e-mail from Tom Hanks: “I turn on my computer. I wait impatiently as it connects. I go online, and my breath catches in my chest until I hear three little words: You've got mail.”

A decade later, that’s almost as ancient of a concept as regular mail.

What relevance is left in the phrase: “wait impatiently as it connects”? I’m not going to get on the computer to communicate with someone else instantly. That’s what texting is for!

Websites like Facebook and Twitter are a narcissist’s dream (read: my dream) because unlike e-mail – where you have to communicate with another person directly – now you simply post what you are doing, who you are with and to what degree, what you like and dislike and then just wait for everyone else to come to you.

At first I was reluctant to jump on the Facebook tidal wave. (1) Because I was already on MySpace and one social network was enough and (2) as I have pointed out ad nauseam, I shudder at the thought of being associated with anything that’s too popular.

But I’m terrible with keeping up with people via traditional corresponding outlets (i.e. phone and e-mail) and a lot of my friends that had moved away were Facebooking, so I figured I may as well also (and especially now that I’m one of those that have moved away).

I hate to admit it but I love the Facebook and Twitter setup of posting whatever I’m doing (no matter how mundane) or what I happen to think about a certain subject because it’s designed for people to believe that everyone else will read it, care about it, and feel more complete as a human being.

There are some negatives though.

If you have anything short of a Master’s good luck with Facebook’s functionality (that includes me). I have to call up Will Hunting anytime I want to post some pictures or delete an errant status update.

And I’m tired of all the FarmVille animals and Mafia games clogging up my home page. I’ve posted important thoughts and observations and I can’t have the latest addition to your YoVille house distracting anyone from my genius.

Beyond trying to maneuver around the site, employers are now checking employee’s sites and have been making hiring and firing decisions based upon status updates and pictures. I personally know of an instance where an employee was fired based on inappropriate pictures on his profile page and there was one instance where a girl bragged about skipping work on her Facebook status only to be terminated by her boss in a comment reply on her page.

Thanks for playing

Even with all of that, we still feel the need to be on these sites so that we can be heard.

So that we can matter.

I asked my Wife (an avid Facebooker) why she thinks it’s such a big deal when someone updates their relationship status through these social networks and I was impressed with her answer.

“All of your friends already know when you’re dating someone,” she said, “but when you post it on Facebook, you’re announcing it to the world. You’re letting all of you acquaintances and family know. You’re letting your exes and the one that got away know. It becomes official.”

Works for me.

Conversely, you are given the power to publicly “unfriend” another user on Facebook and “unfollow” or even block someone on Twitter. How does that work if the two of you ever run into each other at a party? Does social etiquette allow you to even speak to the person that unfriended you? Or do you have to leave the premises?

This is a whole new level of social rejection that I’m just not prepared to handle.

I had to catch myself questioning the importance of the Facebook status update because I was recently in that spot a few months ago. I remember the day after my Wife and I got married, we logged on to update our status from “engaged” to “married” and my Wife made the monumental step of changing her last name to mine.

According to the all of the legal authorities, that had already taken place, but even I have to concede that there was something about changing it on Facebook that made the whole thing feel more certified.

To further prove my… Oh, wait. What’s this? I’ve just been alerted that someone has retweeted one of my brilliant tweets on Twitter. Sorry, but I have to run check it! After that, I will get on Facebook so that I can update my status letting everyone know that I’ve written a column about Facebook.

I know everyone’s holding their breath, just waiting for me.

*Check out a new column every Monday morning here and at