Crossing The 'Finish Line' In Fickle TV Times: A BLT, No Curry
Sure you do well at work. But are you carrying the ball "across the finish line"? Only your superiors know for sure. That went double for NBC's Ann Curry.
Curry, former short-tenured co-host of NBC’s "Today,” said as much while being shown the door -- that she didn't carry it "across the finish line.”
That doesn't give us much about why the crack team at NBC let her go. Ratings for “Today” were getting softer, for sure - and ABC's "Good Morning America" had been nipping at its heels. But "Today" still generally kept its lead.
Focus groups tell network executives plenty. But this stuff is usually only directional. Is someone "trustworthy," "likable," "entertaining,", "too emphatic" (as in Curry’s case, according to reports), or perhaps just "replaceable"? Maybe these aren't the personality attributes you are looking for -- at least today, anyway.
Even as top gun of a major media company, Les Moonves, president and chief executive officer of CBS, has always had a keen eye on casting. He might tell you that is a major reason for the network's success. But even the best can make mistakes. CBS mis-"cast” Katie Couric as a network news anchor, according to analysts,.
Some would argue that, with more fractionalization of TV shows, the right name and right personality means even more than the right show and right writing. Just take a look at "Anger Management," with everyone's favorite bad boy Charlie Sheen. Its debut rang up a record 5.5 million viewers for cable’s FX (still, certainly not in "Two and a Half Men" rating territory).
Reality series producers use the word "casting" -- which still worries me a bit. To what other genres does this apply? Most adult viewers know what they are getting into when turning on "Housewives Storage and Lobster Wars." If those "casted" are interesting enough --in an unscripted-semi-real-life way -- that may be enough to get a show over the goal line.
There are those who would say Ann Curry did some great journalistic work on "Today." But we all know that isn't the whole package of what plays on television. With competing morning shows breathing down "Today"'s neck, you can imagine that NBC executives were turning over every rock to find a number of discerning points and/or trends.
People wonder whether NBC has learned anything after its psychotic gyrations involving Conan O'Brien and Jay Leno a couple of years ago.
To them, I say this isn't about making the perfect hamburger or creating the best shampoo -- it's about gauging the fickleness of consumers in a 24/7 digital entertainment world and how TV executives are always looking to micro-adjust expectations by taking second-by-second temperatures.
Someone hands us a a guacamole-English farmhouse cheddar Mahi-Mahi burger and we wonder: How come no one thought about this before? Then five minutes later we return to the luncheonette BLT from whence we came.