• Defiant To The End, 'The Newsroom' Returns To HBO
    Two-and-a-half years ago when "The Newsroom" premiered, I found this show's long sermons about journalism to be nearly impossible to sit through. Today, however, I have to respect creator/producer Aaron Sorkin (who is chiefly responsible for writing this show) for his defiance in the face of the criticism this show has received. Most notably, critics have long decried the obvious way this show puts its points across -- using a verbal bludgeoning technique to find fault with the way news is gathered and disseminated today at the intersection of TV and social media.
  • It's Neil Patrick Harris' World, And We Just Live In It
    The other day I came across a story that was high on Yahoo's "trending" list, about how Neil Patrick Harris and his family celebrated Halloween. And I thought: When did the life of Neil Patrick Harris become so interesting that no day seems to go by without a story about him?
  • Watchdog Group's Gripe About 'Charlie Brown' And 'Scandal' Is A Lost Cause
    Pity the poor Parents Television Council. While you're at it, you can thank them too -- because we should always take pity on those who undertake lost causes, and keep on undertaking them, despite the long odds against their efforts making any difference. Take the PTC's most recent gripe concerning the manner in which ABC programmed last Thursday's prime-time lineup. The Los Angeles-based watchdog group, which monitors the airwaves for content it deems extreme, is complaining about the way a kiddie Halloween special segued abruptly into a sex scene that opened last week's episode of "Scandal."
  • Discovery's Live Tightrope Telecast Was A High-Level Feat
    Nik Wallenda's live tightrope walk over the Chicago River Sunday night on Discovery was a bravura performance -- by Wallenda himself certainly, but also by the production team that put this telecast together.
  • Child's Play: Fallon Is Winning Late-Night Wars With Kiddie Games
    Not only is Fallon firmly in first place in the late-night ratings wars, but the games he plays with his guests play well in the coveted "after-market" of late-night TV shows -- the Internet. With strong ratings and YouTube views, it's no wonder that Fallon is encouraged to continue engaging in these childish games with his guests -- who, incidentally, are aiding and abetting him by agreeing to participate in the first place. Perhaps they and their handlers feel their willingness to put themselves in situations in which they look foolish will enhance their images, particularly among the younger viewers ...
  • Project Nunway: Introducing The Newest Trend In Habit-Forming TV
    I hereby declare myself the first to recognize the arrival of a new programming trend. In a word: Nuns. The first and most solid evidence that TV has identified the world of nuns as a new realm ripe for programming picking was the announcement I received this week from Lifetime Television about a nun reality show.
  • CBS Finds Formula For Producing Hits That Confound Critics
    In the absence of football, CBS will reconstitute its Thursday lineup starting this week. "The McCarthys" will likely make itself right at home -- not because it's anything special but because it isn't, which is precisely what the CBS formula for churning out hit shows is all about.
  • The Live, Televised Tightrope Walk That Almost No One Is Talking About
    The TV industry's zeal for live events will be put to the test this Sunday on the Discovery Channel when Nik Wallenda attempts to walk a tightrope strung between tall buildings in the windiest city in America. Millions are expected to tune in to see if Wallenda, the 35-year-old self-proclaimed King of the Tightrope, makes it across or -- let's be honest -- goes splat. The show -- titled "Skyscraper Live with Nik Wallenda" -- will be Wallenda's third high-profile tightrope walk to be seen live on TV.
  • Canceled Before Its Time: There Goes Honey Boo Boo
    At least we now know the limits of what's tolerable on reality TV now that TLC has canceled "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" after it came to light that Mama June was consorting with a convicted child molester. It was a very unusual cancellation -- the entire new season had apparently been filmed and was ready to go. The statement raises (but does not answer) the question of how canceling the show supports the "health and welfare" of Alana and her siblings or demonstrates TLC's commitment "to the children's ongoing comfort and well-being."
  • Liberal Viewers Prove Elusive For Left-Leaning MSNBC
    As a TV columnist and long-time writer on the subject of both television and radio, I have made this observation: Right-leaning people tend to flock to right-leaning television and radio personalities in much greater numbers than liberals flock to their own like-minded hosts. And that means MSNBC might be facing an obstacle that is possibly insurmountable. This observation is the linchpin -- the "secret sauce," if you will -- for the success of a slew of right-leaning media entities, the best examples being Fox News Channel and Rush Limbaugh.
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