Bill Hader, who played James Carville and many others on Saturday Night Live, appeared in his final episode Saturday.
No James Carville. No Barack Obama. No Joe Biden. No unctuous game show host leading a bizarro competition, like “What's My Name?” ($10 million to provide the name of your apartment building doorman.)
Still, Saturday Night Live’s presumed farewells to three of its most prominent players did manage to be touching in an odd way, offering backhanded goodbyes to guys who have been on the show since the Bush administration.Full Story
Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar star in new fall CBS series, The Crazy Ones.
We Are Men
Tony Shaloub, Kal Penn and Jerry O'Connell are among the guys in an apartment complex filled with divorcing or divorced guys.
The Crazy Ones
Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar are a father/daughter team running an advertising firm in Chicago; Ally McBeal creator David E. Kelley is one of the producers.
Lost alum Josh Holloway is a CIA agent who gets an chip implanted in his head allowing him to access the Internet and information networks. St. Petersburg native Rene Echevarria is among the executive producers.
Dylan McDermott is an FBI agent who takes a physician's family hostage to force her into killing the president. Toni Collette is the surgeon.
Arrested Development's Will Arnett is a divorced TV reporter whose split encourages parents Beau Bridges and Margo Martindale to divorce, too.
Anna Faris is a single mother just out of rehab with a supremely dysfunctional Allison Janney as her mother. Two and Half Men creator Chuck Lorre is executive producer.
Michael C. Hall plays serial killer Dexter Morgan in Showtime's Dexter, beginning its final season June 30.
Showtime has finally released an official trailer for the final season of its groundbreaking drama Dexter, due back at 9 p.m. June 30, much earlier than usual.
The premium cable channel has moved Dexter’s final season out of the crosshairs of fall, when all the broadcast networks and AMC’s popular The Walking Dead are all competing for viewers.
It’s an interesting move, because Dexter was one of the first cable shows to buck the trend of avoiding network TV in the fall, moving its start of new episodes to the end of September. Moving back to summer feels like a full circle turn, along with an acknowledgement of how the series’ popularity may have slipped.
In the clip, we see Michael C. Hall's serial killer Dexter Morgan watch as his police officer sister Deb unravels following the climax of last season, where she killed a fellow cop who had discovered her brother’s secret.
Will she finally turn him in and stop the madness? The trailer sure makes it look that way.
CBS offers a miniseries version of Stephen King's Under the Dome June 24.
Whenever it comes to television, I've grown used to Stephen King breaking my heart.
Time and again, he's brought adaptations of interesting and compelling novels to TV, only to wind up with stuff that is too uninspired (Steven Weber trying to outdo Nicholson in a remake of The Shining?) too boring (Pierce Brosnan moping through a limp redintion of Bag of Bones) or too dumb (The Langoliers. 'Nuff said.)
Still, I have high hopes for the latest attempt to turn King's quality pages into quality television, CBS' Under the Dome.
Not only does it have TV's greatest character actor, Breaking Bad's Dean Norris, playing the story's narcissist bad guy, the extended first look the network just released looks awesome. And by putting such a seemingly well-done miniseries on in summer -- it debuts June 24 -- CBS can send an important signal about trying to compete year-round. (colleague Josh Gillin reminds me that 1993's The Stand was pretty good, giving us Gary Sinise and Jamey Sheridan in amazing performances. ABC's Storm of the Century was okay, with Colm Feore in a typically compelling performance.)
So, I'm hoping Uncle Stevie does me right this time. Check out the trailer below and see what you think.
TV star Michael J. Fox leads roster of new shows coming to NBC this fall
There could not be a more precarious time for network TV outlets, especially NBC.
Competition from cable and online providers has never been fiercer. And broadcasters are still locked into a cycle of shoving their best shows on in a rush during the fall and going mostly dormant during summer that cable has used to its advantage.
So when NBC announced its new schedule Sunday, analysts were looking for clues that the former 800-pound gorilla of the network TV business would be ready to reinvent itself at a time when such innovation was needed most.
Instead, with a raft of new shows featuring Michael J. Fox, X-Files alum Gillian Anderson, former ‘80s heartthrob James Spader, ex-L.A.Law star Blair Underwood and Will & Grace alum Sean Hayes, NBC seems to be counting on old school TV stars to rescue a network which plunged from first to worst in a single season.Full Story
Jan Gentry, Mikayla Wingle and Monica Culpepper (left to right) are the only Tampa residents ever to compete on CBS-TV's long-running reality TV competition, Survivor.
They seem, at first glance, to be the oddest trio you could find to take up space together in one room.
At age 64, Jan Gentry is a wiry, good-natured firecracker, partial to wearing overalls and full of enthusiasm for the first graders she teaches at McKitrick Elementary School in Lutz. Next to her, Monica Culpepper, 42, sits like a well-sculpted version of the perfect soccer mom, directing the conversation with an earnest energy while sprinkling anecdotes about her kids and NFL player-turned lawyer husband.
Across from Culpepper at Gentry’s right hand, 23-year-old Mikayla Wingle is a statuesque beauty who towers over her two new friends; a model and lingerie football player who also tends bar at a local watering hole.
But when these three ladies finally met for the first time at the Tampa Bay Times’ Tampa offices, the conversation flowed easily, as if they had known each other for years.
That’s because these three Tampa Bay area residents have all accomplished something few others have managed.
Before I viewed the new episode, I spoke with the show’s executive producer, who chalked most of the negative reaction to his Breaking Amish and Amish Mafia series to insular figures in the religion who didn’t like his young stars choosing to live outside the communities.
But it only take a few minutes of Brave New World to see that this show echoes some of the worst qualities of what I like to call reality TV’s “whitexploitation” or “hicksploitation” shows. These are programs which stereotype and misrepresent poor white subcultures as badly or worse than people of color are sometimes treated in media.
NPR aired my commentary on the subject this morning, noting how shows such as Buckwild and My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding show oversexed, undereducated young white folks getting drunk, hooking up and making loads of bad choices in circumstances scripted to look like a real-life drama series.
Brave New World follows in that grand tradition, with the five stars of Breaking Amish inexplicably deciding to pile into an RV and trundle down to Pinecraft, after complaining steadily about how the Amish in Pennsylvania have rejected them after they chose not to return to their sheltered, devout Amish communities.
The key figure here is Jeremiah Raber, a lightning rod for drama in the series’ first season. He currently lives in Sarasota and is shown on camera making the pitch to his other buddies to drive down.
But he’s also been shown to be manipulative, untrustworthy, unfaithful to girlfriends and unwilling to take responsibility for his own drama (online sites link to documents indicating her was previously married and divorced, indicating he left the Amish faith a while ago). One of the big conflicts toward the end of the first season, for instance, involved Raber hiring a stripper for friend Abe’s pre-wedding party, despite being told that was off limits.
In a non-reality TV universe, most of his friends -- especially Amish girl-turned-New York model Kate – would never pile in an RV with such a skeevy dude. But because they’re likely bound by contract, they each mumble something about “going to Florida to get away and think things over,” as Abe brings new wife Rebecca and his sister to hang with horndog Jeremiah and two other people for a trip to the Sunshine State.
This crew gives away when they’re reading lines fed by the producers, taping “confessional” segments facing the camera which couldn’t look more scripted if they held the pages in front of them while talking. The whole production – a growing pile of bad decisions, impulsive behavior and outright deceptiveness – just leaves the indelible impression that you’re watching a group of dimwitted losers going through the motions for their next reality TV paycheck.
I couldn't even watch long enough to see if the first episode had any real footage of Florida. My I.Q. points are too precious to me.
Anyway, click here to read my story of how many in Pinecraft recoiled at the thought of such a show in their midst. And look below to see my NPR commentary on the whitexploitation trend.
Charles Ramsey tells his story to news media in Cleveland, Ohio.
As news media rushes to tell the story of Charles Ramsey -- the guy who says he dropped his Big Mac to help rescue Amanda Berry from her 10-year imprisonment in an Ohio home -- I wrote a story for Poynter.org asking an uncomfortable question.
Should news media be moving a little slower to lionize the guy one news outlet called "the Internet hero we've been waiting for?"
And there's the troubling sign of how Ramsey fits the stereotypes of the "hilarious black crime witness"; is one reason there's autotune videos, loads of tweets and blog posts about him the fact that he so resembles the oddball crime witness we've seen highlighted in so many local TV news stories?
I'm not down with those who immediately say Ramsey's viral fame is mostly about prejudice or stereotypes. But it references them enough to make me significantly uncomfortable.
What struck me on first seeing Ramsey -- promising Anderson Cooper earlier this week "you gonna love this; I'm fixin' to tell it all" -- was that he seemed so ready to tell his story to the endless line of TV cameras. It's something I saw in the coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing and the Texas refinery explosion; we've seen so many news stories where bystanders or good samaritans or relatives of victims tell their stories to TV crews, average people know the role they're expected to play.
As the closest person to the rescue most willing to tell his story openly, Ramsey seemed to be re-enacting a scenario we've seen many times in news coverage -- and as a gifted natural storyteller, he knew what was required.
My Poynter piece talks a bit about what all this means for news media; check it out by clicking here.
Now it’s moved ahead with plans to put WDAE on the FM dial as well, with a signal that reached St. Petersburg. Both changes are a relatively quick way to get Clear Channel’s AM talk stations on the FM dial without the expense and risk of converting an existing FM station to a talk format.
Indeed, when I asked last year about Clear Channel’s translators, Doug Hamand, the company’s Tampa area vice president of programming, made the same point a different way. "All my FMs are making money," Hamand said then of a stable which includes WFLZ-FM (93.3), WXTB-FM (98 Rock) and WBTP-FM (95.7 the Beat), WMTX-FM (Mix 100.7) and WFUS-FM (US 103). "I don't have one I can flip."
Rival Cox Radio has seen tremendous success converting WHPT-FM (The Bone 102.5) into an all-talk format (they celebrated the year anniversary of the format change just a couple of weeks ago). So it makes sense Clear Channel might try to compete by bringing its own talk formats to FM, trying to duplicate their success on he AM dial.
WDAE’s move also increases competition for another rival, CBS Radio’s Sportsradio 98.7 the Fan, a station which has seen a series of staff changes since debuting last August. Full Story
The Society of Professional Journalists announced winners of its Green Eyeshade Awards today.
At the risk of criticism for tooting my own horn, I want to note this blog just won a Green Eyeshade Award for Best Blog from the Society of Professional Journalists.
The SPJ touts the Green Eyeshades as the country’s largest and oldest regional journalism competition, focused on news outlets across the south and southeastern U.S. Since 1950, it’s been open to journalists from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
In all, the Tampa Bay Times won 13 awards in this contest, including a first place award for Jeff Klinkenberg in non-deadline reporting, a first place award for Janet Keeler in travel writing, a first place award for public service in online journalism for the fact-checking site PolitiFact and a first place award for politics reporting to the staff of PolitiFact Florida.
The Green Eyeshades also include six categories for television; Tampa ABC affiliate WFTS-Ch. 28 won first place awards for best newscast, breaking news coverage and documentaries (the documentary, "If I Die Young," was a collaboration with the Tampa Bay Times that included Times photographer John Pendygraft).
The best TV shows, the worst shows, TV news, media issues and debates ... it's all here at the Feed, a blog on TV, media and modern life by Tampa Bay Times TV/media critic Eric Deggans. Possibly the most critical guy at the Times, he has served as music, media and TV critic at various times over his career here.