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Remembering Lyrics Among the Dregs of Summer TV; CBS and Katie Still Don't Get It



You know you're in the doldrums of summer TV when the question at hand is this:

Does the world really need TWO reality/game shows based on remembering song lyrics?

Beedancers But here we are, faced with the debut tonight of NBC's The Singing Bee, one night before the bow of Fox's Don't Forget the Lyrics!

As usual, we got here thanks to the industry's habit of ripping itself off; Fox rushed its show to development after news of NBC's series surfaced, and the Peacock Network decided to rush its own series on air rather than let Fox steal their thunder the same way Trading Spouses and Nanny 911 ripped off ABC's vastly superior Wife Swap and Supernanny (which is, I admit, a little like being the tallest little person in the room).

I have seen a preview DVD of Bee; far as I know, Fox hasn't let critics see an advance of Lyrics! (never a good sign). Bee feels mostly like all the things you hate about karaoke: folks who think they sing a lot better than they do, mangled words, embarrassingly excited stage hogs and average folks doing something that's probably a lot more fun to participate in than to watch.Beefatone

Host and former N'Sync member Joey Fatone gamely tries to add some freewheeling fun a charm to the proceedings -- mostly it looks like he's trying way too hard. There's even a cadre of skimpily-dressed yellow and black-clad dancers -- dubbed, of course, the Honeybees -- who gyrate away while a crack band plays snippets of songs for which contestants must remember the lyrics. Sigh.

If it wasn't for The Closer, Rescue Me, The 4400 and Dirty Jobs, I'd be clawing my face off right now...

New York Interview Provides Proof: CBS And Katie Still Don't Get It

Couricnewyorkcover I was surprised to see Katie Couric sitting down with the same New York writer who Charlie Gibson accused of misquoting him last year, but Joe Hagan  has uncorked an interesting examination of the Couric CBS anchor train wreck which is notable as a sprawling attempt by all involved to deflect blame somewhere else.

Couric mostly blames viewers for not getting the new stuff she tried: "“I think the one thing that I realized, looking back at it and analyzing it, is people are very unforgiving and very resistant to change,” says Couric. “The biggest mistake we made is we tried new things.” Didn't she do a highly publicized listening tour just to find out what people wanted?

One of Couric's former producers, an interview booker and close friend fired by the network when theyCouricnewyork scaled down her interviews, blamed CBS -- a network which plastered the anchor's face over buses for weeks before her debut -- for  not supporting it's star enough: "“They do more to protect the old guard than they do to promote the new face of the network,” says Nicolla Hewitt. “And it’s completely wrong.”

Couricles CBS president Les Moonves seems sure of just one thing -- HE'S not to blame, either for promising too much too soon for Couric or for changing the evening news into a show that alienated its old audience without developing a new one. Quoting Hagan: "Moonves, a TV executive with a barrel-chested confidence in his gut for good TV, says he bears no responsibility for how the show has failed: “Nope. I really don’t.”

Okaay. But Hagan's most telling quote comes near the end -- not the overblown "Oh god, what did I do?" which seems the kind of unfair twisting of words most people hate journalists for -- when Couric admits she, even now, does not understand the evening news viewer at all.

Hagan noted: "At Today, she looked into the camera and imagined her average viewer as a 32-year-old lawyer with a toddler who was preparing to prosecute a case that day, or a stay-at-home mom who would “hopefully get some things about raising kids or the environment.” On the CBS Evening News, she couldn’t see anyone in the camera lens. “I’m not sure,” Couric says drily. “My parents. I know they’re watching.”

“People who are interested in the world and want to stay connected,” Couric finally manages with a sigh. “But truth be told, I don’t know if those people are in front of the television at 6:30 at night. I hope those that are will find our program compelling. But I don’t quite have them in my mind’s eye.”

Katies_crusade_time_cover_31300 The rest of this stuff she's enduring -- catty comments about her wardrobe and dating life, unflattering leaks from pissed off CBS colleagues -- is only extra baggage. Couric's biggest problem has always been that he and her bosses at CBS never understood the evening news viewer or how to create a newscast which appeals to them.

And with the deluge of bad press continuing, you must wonder: How long before CBS does what they did with their last high-profile celebrity hire, Bryant Gumbel, asking Couric to preside over yet-another attempt to revive their flagging morning show?     

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:39pm]


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