Detroit: 'Come Quick, I Think It's Dad On TV!'

Comcast Cable in Detroit is revamping its provocative "Johns TV" in an attempt to boost ratings and ad revenue when the show returns to the lineup this fall. Apparently, auto ad bookings for the moderately rated show, featuring the names and faces of metro area men convicted of soliciting prostitutes in Detroit, plummeted when senior executives from large automakers showed up in the perp walk.

"Although we try to support the community, this is not the kind of programming environment in which we want to feature our valuable brands," said the top legal executive, at one of the Big 3 automakers. "Besides, my guys were only asking for directions."

The spokesperson of another said: " Directions...I like that. Yeah, my guys were asking for directions too."

A European-based competitor demanded: "What is it with you Americans and prostitution? As Martha herself said: 'It is a small personal matter.' In this case, between a man far from his beloved Rhineland and a women. Beside, he was only asking for directions."



Although similar shows in other cities, like Denver, have helped cut prostitution solicitation by 40 percent, Comcast is encouraging Wayne County Prosecutor Clem Kadiddlehopper to make substantial changes to "Johns TV" to broaden its audience appeal and attract more advertising.

"We had pretty good demos among women 35 to 50, " said an anonymous Comcast representative, adding: "With housewives expecting to spot their n'er-do-well husbands, they tuned in every week and built a loyal audience for bail bondsmen, real estate brokers, moving companies, divorce lawyers, and a solid schedule from American media. With more than half of the prostitute clientele in Detroit coming from the suburbs, we were showing up well in Grosse Point, Birmingham, Royal Oak, and Franklin Village. But automotive was our best category, and when the Big 3 pulled the plug, we had to rethink our approach."

Early indications are that the show hopes to expand its format with segments on crime fighting and quality of life. "There would be some of the same subject matter of "Johns TV," Kadiddlehopper told the Detroit Free Press. "But it could also focus on other issues."

Among the "quality of life issues" under discussion are videotapes of people who fail to curb their dogs, drivers who honk when there is no apparent danger, men who don't wash their hands after using the restroom because they think they are alone, drivers who pick their noses as if their windshields were made out of that one-way glass they use in police interrogation rooms, audios of people singing along with iPods, photos of women who can't pass a mirror without stopping for a checkup, and agency creatives who still think ponytails and black clothes are cool. Also, anyone caught saying "sweet!;" "in the day;" or anything-"centric."

"We figure that ought to cover about everybody in town," said Kadiddlehopper, "so everyone will want to tune in and see if their neighbor or loved one is a lawbreaker. It will be the ultimate reality show." Fox is said to be keeping a close eye on the show's creative progress, and is rumored to have already wiretapped the phones of key production executives. A call to the Fox PR department for comment resulted in (sigh) another blacklisting, and a demand that we return our "I Love Paris in the Primetime" tee shirt.

The ACLU is filing a suit on behalf of Detroit hookers who say that loss of airtime in a reformatted show will result in a "diminution of their primary marketing and promotion vehicle" and will have a "negative impact on their future revenue potential."

A beleaguered spokesman for Nielsen//NetRatings begged: "Oh God, please don't drag us into this one." So we didn't.

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