Once upon a time, at a journalism school far, far away, I absorbed various basic lessons about the news business. One of them was: When no other lead story makes itself apparent, lead with the weather. Weather stories, I recall being told, are of near-universal interest to your readers, viewers and listeners. Because no matter what a person's age, religion, profession, ethnicity or national origin, the weather is always important. Cut to this past Sunday's series finale of "The Newsroom" on HBO, and one veteran newsman was chastising another one for a weather story.
Please allow me to take this opportunity (since I rarely, if ever, post replies to reader comments on the blog) to thank each and every one of you who has taken the time to leave a comment (sometimes more than one) here on my various blog posts. Whether you agree or disagree with the opinions and/or attitudes expressed in these posts, I am grateful for your readership, your input and your advice.
Fox throws the concept of good taste out the window and under the bus with its ad campaign for a new detective series starring Rainn Wilson. Surprised that a TV network would resort to off-color slang to promote a new TV show? If you're surprised by that, then you've been living under a rock. In the last few years, various TV networks have not hesitated (or maybe they have hesitated, then did it anyway) to promote their shows with words and phrases that were once verboten.
CBS finally announced the date yesterday, slotting Letterman's last "Late Show" on the final night of the 2014-15 season. It's a significant milestone in TV as well as the "popular" culture because longevity like Letterman's is so rare. Letterman's exit represents the end of an era -- when Letterman and Jay Leno had the field to themselves for the most part. When Letterman leaves, the generational shift in late night that has been underway in one way or another ever since Leno left "The Tonight Show" for the first time in 2009 will be complete.
Although I am well aware of the importance of this season to the bottom line of the nation's retailers, and the inevitability of the onslaught of retail advertising, there is something about the volume of it this year that has surprised even me. This year, for reasons I cannot quite explain, the ads seem especially unseemly -- and where steep price reductions weren't really offered or advertised until after Christmas in years past, now everything seems to be on sale before Christmas -- which makes this season's retail advertising come across as desperate, as if retailers are literally begging for …
President Obama sure seemed to enjoy himself last night on "The Colbert Report" on Comedy Central. So did Colbert's audience of young people who crowded into an auditorium at George Washington University for this special show originating from Washington. Amid all the merriment, I couldn't help thinking about the mess the world is in and wondering: Is it appropriate for the President of the United States to be cavorting on a late-night comedy show?
If you really stopped and thought about it, you would have concluded long before Discovery's "Eaten Alive" special aired last night that there was no way this naturalist would be "eaten alive" by a 27-foot anaconda. I hinted as much in a blog post last week about this show, which Discovery "sold" as if this guy was really going to be consumed whole by this snake. Millions believed this guy might actually be eaten alive on TV, and tuned in to watch. This did not happen, and viewers took to social media to complain that they'd been had.
In the months leading up to last night's "Peter Pan Live!" telecast, I was puzzled by NBC's expectation that people would tune in, and stay tuned in, in sufficient numbers for this telecast to make financial sense. Despite the modern technology that no doubt contributed to the wizardry of its production, for me, this live musical just seemed corny and old-fashioned -- like a relic of some distant TV past that couldn't possibly work today.
A snake maven named Paul Rosolie is now the latest in a long line of naturalists who have decided that the best way to call attention to the plight of endangered species is to disturb their peace. In Rosolie's case, the species in question is the giant green anaconda, which lives deep in the Amazonian jungle and is considered to be the largest, strongest predatory serpent on Earth. So for the snake's own good, Rosolie supposedly allowed himself to be "swallowed" by one of these gape-mouthed creatures for a TV special airing this weekend called "Eaten Alive."
Spoiler alert: Beth Greene was not a real person. But plenty of people are mourning her death as if she was -- a testament to the kind of connection people are making to fictional characters on TV these days. Beth was a young woman seen on "The Walking Dead" who was shot to death by a policewoman last Sunday on the show. Ever since her demise, a national wave of mourning has set in on social media.