This week, TV business journalists have their annual game to see who can break stories with all the new shows, cancelled shows, and exact fall schedules right before the networks are ready to announced them. The game begins today - but already things have started on the wrong foot.
Fox took the bold step last summer to launch five scripted series in the space of few weeks - an effort that yielded mediocre ratings and cancelled shows. This summer will be a more cautious story -- maybe TV advertising activity will tell the real tale.
This isn't how one-year marriages are supposed to celebrate. NBC Universal should be crowning its one-year union as something big, long lasting, and perfectly successful. Instead, the merger has resulted in what a young marriage sometimes becomes -- a good partnership, a good honeymoon, but in a leaky and cold, one-bedroom apartment.
U.S. viewers are now a week away from continuing to be subjected to the great modern-day TV disappointment - the lack of a good network sitcom. The fall season network schedules will be released next week - and odds are there won't be a hit sitcom. The biggest network hits continue to be reality shows ("American Idol," "The Apprentice," and "Survivor") and dramas ("Desperate Housewives" and "CSI.")
Branded entertainment has a new mutation - brands that don't appear in or anyway near a TV show, even though there is a brand/TV deal. The Sundance Channel has such a deal. It will start a six-part series called the "Iconoclasts," which is being co-produced by Grey Goose Entertainment, the TV production arm of Bacardi's Grey Goose Vodka. Focusing on the creative process, the show will examine two creative innovators from the fields of film, television, architecture, design, fashion, food, music, and sports.
The TV network race is down to the wire - with Fox and CBS neck and neck looking for the big win. While both networks have claimed sweep wins here and there in the adults 18 to 49 race, it's been a long time since CBS won an entire season; Fox has never done it. That finally means by the end of this month, a new TV champ will raise what amounts to the Nielsen trophy.
So what have we learned about "American Idol" in the last several days? That no matter what dirt is revealed, nothing can seemingly derail the highest-rated TV show in the land. On Wednesday night, the big Fox show produced its standard high ratings, a crushing 25.4 million viewers and 10.8 rating in the adult 18 to 49 demo. As expected, ABC's "Primetime Live" hit some high notes of its own; a healthy 13.7 million viewers tuned in with a 6.1 rating in the demo for its special "Fallen Idol" segment about the "American Idol" show.
Finally the indecency debate has come to its senses - a new, mostly liberal-minded political group on the issue is calling itself a favorite name of ours, TV Watch.
With fewer creative minds left to develop TV shows, television programmers have finally given up - they are now entertaining the thought of using advertising agencies as TV producers.
"The Insider" host Pat O'Brien is only doing what many fallen TV talent has done in the past - examine their own downfall through the vehicle of another TV show. The host of the syndicated magazine show who left a rehabilitation clinic last week will be interviewed by Dr. Phil McGraw (who has his own syndicated show, "Dr. Phil") on a special primetime CBS show, "Behind the Headlines," to air this Wednesday. The focus of the show will be on alcohol abuse.