Five African-American men in tights entertained a hotel meeting room full of journalists and assorted NBC cable execs Monday as NBC-owned Bravo, Oxygen and Esquire Network gave a joint upfront presentation that was not the usual upfront presentation for advertisers, but a briefing for journalists where all three cable channels announced new, upcoming shows. The five entertainers were a troupe of dancers who call themselves the Prancing Elites, and they are the subject of an upcoming show on Oxygen called "The Prancing Elites Project," premiering April 22.
The Tuesday night comedies "New Girl" and "The Mindy Project" have been a problem for Fox, despite the affection showered on them by some critics and viewers. Among those not enamored with these two sitcoms are Fox affiliates. While they are happier about Fox prime-time programming this season than they were during the last few seasons, I have it on good authority that the weakness of these comedies still sticks in their collective craw. The reason is pretty simple: "New Girl" and especially "Mindy" are weak lead-ins for the affiliates' late newscasts, and the affiliates have let Fox know it.
Various channels in the Discovery Networks stable have long trafficked in the travails of the morbidly obese, but this "niche" community has been getting even more exposure lately, now that the recurring series called "My 600-lb Life" has settled into a prominent time slot on Discovery-owned TLC. In a crowded marketplace in which hundreds of TV shows are vying constantly for viewers' attention, TLC seems to be stepping up its reliance on shows whose imagery -- obese people, a bearded lady, a family of seven dwarfs -- appears to be designed to stop channel-grazers in their tracks.
April 9 figures to be a banner day in TV comedy. It's the day Louis C.K.'s comedy series "Louie" returns for its fifth season on FX -- but it will also mark the debut of a new comedy series, "The Comedians," starring Billy Crystal and Josh Gad. The two half-hour shows will comprise a single hour ("The Comedians" at 10 Eastern and "Louie" at 10:30) that will be the best hour of comedy on TV for however long this tandem lasts.
Embattled NBC News anchorman Brian Williams got some support last night from Bill O'Reilly, who blamed an accusatory culture -- whose aim, he said, is to "destroy" famous people -- for derailing Williams. The NBC newsman was suspended for six months after it was revealed in February that he exaggerated and/or lied about his experiences covering stories ranging from the Iraq War to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
Some very clever pre-produced bits enlivened James Corden's debut Monday night (March 23) as the new host of "The Late Late Show" on CBS. But Corden's amateur standing as a raw newcomer to late-night TV was all-too obvious when it came to the segments onstage where he was called upon to act as host-interviewer of two celebrity guests -- in this case, Mila Kunis and Tom Hanks.
The DVD came with a letter from the creator of "Mad Men," Matthew Weiner, requesting that we TV columnists refrain from revealing much, if anything, about the upcoming season premiere. "This is the last premiere of 'Mad Men' you will receive ever," said the Weiner letter that arrived a few weeks ago. "It is also the last infuriating letter from me asking you not to spoil the episode," he wrote. The DVD contained the first episode, of seven, that will usher in the final episodes of "Mad Men." This final half-season begins Sunday, April 5, at 10 p.m. Eastern on …
Another day, another story about a pending shakeup at MSNBC. This one comes to us compliments of Politico, which reported Thursday that MSNBC management has apparently taken a hard look at the network's falling ratings and are realizing they have a problem -- for the umpteenth time. It's easy to imagine that Pepto-Bismol is the most popular beverage at MSNBC, particularly when the ratings come out. To put it as simply as possible, in the three-way competition in cable news (the competitors being Fox News Channel and CNN), MSNBC is in freefall.
Only 45 nights remain until David Letterman calls it quits on May 20. And yet there has been near-zero buzz about this approaching milestone, and there seems to be no promotional push -- at least at the moment -- on the part of CBS to build excitement and drive viewership for the finale of Letterman's "Late Show," which will cap an astonishing 33 years in late-night TV, beginning Feb. 1, 1982, on NBC's "Late Night." It's a run whose longevity is not likely to be equaled either in the foreseeable future, or perhaps ever.
Earlier this week, TLC announced a new little-people series called "7 Little Johnstons," about a family of seven dwarfs. The 10-episode show is scheduled to premiere on TLC on March 31, when it will join a program lineup that already has two shows about little-people families -- "The Little Couple" and "Our Little Family."