Tuesday, October 25, 2016

THE BOOK OF LIFE - THE 'WHY BOTHER" EDITION

I added five more shows (they're in red) to The Book of Life. Two of them will make it to next year's Kol Nidre service not that they are performing well, it's more that nothing will perform better in the time period so....why bother? 

I have to believe that, somewhere on this blog, I discussed the magic number 2 1/2. That's the number of new hours that a network can put on before they are better off sticking with what's currently on their schedule. Most networks (CBS being the exception) generally go beyond this limit because "we can do better"....they cannot. What then compounds the problem is making too many changes when the current shows are not working. Good rule: You want to see a time period circle the drain quicker....change the programming.

There are so many factors which account for the decline of network ratings but there are self-inflicted wounds. that's why it's good to see networks sticking with what brought them to the dance. NOTORIOUS was the one show I felt needed to be offed because of its important place on ABC's big Shonda night. Yesterday they snipped the order but beyond that most shows are being allowed to run their course and I added two shows for a total of seven shows that I expect to be back for a second season.

One of the two shows that will be at next year's Kol Nidre service is FREQUENCY because the CW renews almost everything. NO TOMORROW was an attempt to replicate the creative success of two of my faves JANE THE VIRGIN and CRAZY EX GIRLFRIEND......nope. I don't expect it to last beyond its B'nai Mitzvah...but.....why bother.

Happy Simchat Torah everyone.  

BUY THE DELI PLATTER AND PAY A SHIVA CALL (stick a fork in it, it's done)
NOTORIOUS


WILL CELEBRATE THEIR B'NAI MITZVAH (will get to 13 on the air)
SON OF ZORN
McGYVER
PITCH
CONVICTION
NO TOMOROW

LET'S GO TO A BRIS (the order will be snipped)
THE EXORCIST

SET A PLACE AT THE SEDER TABLE (should finish full the season)
DESIGNATED SURVIVOR
TIMELESS

SEE YOU AT NEXT YEAR'S KOL NIDRE SERVICE (there's a second season)
KEVIN CAN WAIT
THE GOOD PLACE
LETHAL WEAPON
THIS IS US
SPEECHLESS
BULL
FREQUENCY

Thursday, October 13, 2016

That Time Bob Dylan told me to "Fuck Off"

I woke up this morning to the news that Bob Dylan had won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Big up to him. Several of my good friends have heard this story but, in honor of this award, I thought I would share it with all of you. It's about the time that Mr. Dylan told me to "fuck off".....he really did.

While playing the role of a powerful network executive I had the opportunity to meet several celebrities and powerful people. After a while you get sort of numb to it. Some of them impress you (Jack Welsh, Rupert Murdoch, George Clooney) and some of them are fucking idiots and you just wonder.

At FOX I was often asked by casting to sit in on meetings with professional wrestlers. I had a chance to meet Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H and Chyna and Jeff Jarrett. I also got to meet Vince McMahon along with his kids Shane and Stephanie when they were shopping Smackdown to the broadcast networks.

I met John McCain of the set of 24 and the entire Masked Family had their picture taken with the Clintons when Bill was President. We actually used it as our Holiday card one year. The card said "The B------s and the Clintons wish you Happy Holidays" We received calls from several friends asking us how we photoshopped the picture. Several thought I was joking when I said it was real.

Funny story about that. Before we headed to DC for "Christmas in Washington" my daughter broke her wrist so she was wearing a cast at the taping. My wife tried to make her feel better by promising that we would ask the President to sign his cast. My good friend in NBC Sales got us on the list to have our picture taken with the Clintons. After the picture was shot, as we were walking away, I heard my wife say "Mr. President would you sign my daughter's cast?" Bill said "Do You have a Sharpie?" of course she did and we have my daughter's autographed cast to this day.

But I digress.....

....So it's late 1988 or early 1989. I'm in Research at NBC and still living in New York. I was coming back from a business trip to LA. This was a time when you could still smoke on a plane and it was also a time when executives like me could travel First Class. It so happened that on the day I was returning to NYC The Traveling Wilburys was nominated for a Grammy. At some point early in the flight a man in a hoodie gets up to use the restroom. On the way back to his seat I noticed that it was Bob Dylan. He was sitting across the aisle and a few rows back from me.

My relatively new boss at NBC was a huge Bob Dylan fan and legend had it that, when Dylan was on SNL, my boss went down to the dress rehearsal with Dylan's picture in a frame and a knife to cut it out of the frame. He was jumped by security and never got the autograph that he was seeking. I thought to myself "Wouldn't it be cool if I could get my boss Dylan's autograph". As I said at the top you get numb to meeting celebrities BUT THIS WAS BOB FUCKING DYLAN!!!!!! This was different. This was like approaching a God.

I took out a pad and a pen and spent the whole flight working up the nerve to ask him for his signature. In my mind I went through every possible line I could use.I was terrified. Finally, about twenty minutes before landing, I got up crossed the aisle and stood at his seat. Dylan was smoking a cigarette and was talking intensely with his travelling companion. So there I am holding a pen and a pad. His companion looks up at me and shakes her head like---don't do this. Dylan sees her reaction and turns around to look at me. Here's what came out of my mouth: "You can tell me to fuck off". Dylan looked at me and said as only he can "Fuck off". I walked back to my seat with no autograph and with my heart beating quite rapidly.

When we landed I immediately called my boss. "You won't believe who told me to fuck off on the flight back to New York....BOB DYLAN!!!!". I told him the story and we both agreed that being told to fuck off by BobDylan trumped getting his autograph.

So congrats on the Nobel Prize Bob and thank you for giving me one of the peak experiences of my life.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

THE BOOK OF LIFE: ONE IS THE LONELIEST NUMBER

Tonight is Yom Kippur so it's time to turn the page and begin entering the new 2016-17 series in the Book of Life. I generally wait for three numbers before determining the fate of a show. I made one exception because the ratings are so strong that, even when the gimmick wears off, there's enough there to merit another season. I'm assuming five of the eleven shows below will return for a second season which is a pretty good success rate. Each network has something to feel good about. As I said last spring the broadcast networks decided to act like broadcasters and they are being rewarded.

I think that there is only one major casualty so far and that is Notorious. It is suffering from the triple whammy of low ratings, little critical/social support and inhabiting a "Must Succeed" time period hammocked between the two Shonda shows. ABC is going to have to do something to prevent this important night from slipping away while they wait for the return of Scandal, so expect something if Notorious dips below a 1 this week. I feel bad because a good friend of mine is the Executive Producer here.

There are other shows hovering at a 1 rating but they will probably not suffer the ignominious fate of Notorious. Pitch will hang in for 13 and not go beyond that this season. FOX is into these short orders. It is holding up relative to its leadin and has the critical/social respect to support it. Also the dude who does This Is Us did this and I don't think FOX wants to piss him off right now. If I were to bet it's 13 and out for Pitch       
                                                                                    McGyver is not showing a very good trend and is down near a 1. CBS (whom I have a lot of respect for) if the king of the "My Shit Doesn't Stink" philosophy of programming so they will ride it out for 13. Also CBS generally gets the largest audiences for their shows so that 1 for McGyver includes a lot more viewers than we see for Pitch. 

I don't know what FOX was thinking with The Exorcist. In addition to being a bad pilot I have to believe that there was resistance to this show from their Sales group. I don't see how they can hang in there for all 13.

The one head scratcher for me is Designated Survivor. The next number will be interesting. I couldn't get myself to buy it tickets for next year's Kol Nidre service. It was the winner of the MASKY for best new Fall hour but, having watched the three episodes, it does have the whiff of coming off the rails. The family stuff is terrible and every few minutes I hear myself saying "Now wait a second"....this show requires just too much suspension of disbelief. I'm also waiting for Kiefer to go all Jack Bauer and when it doesn't happen I feel let down. I think it will last the season and the delayed viewing is large but I'll withhold judgement for now.

I'll be back with a few more shows real soon. Meanwhile here is the list so far.


BUY THE DELI PLATTER AND PAY A SHIVA CALL (stick a fork in it, it's done)
NOTORIOUS


WILL CELEBRATE THEIR B'NAI MITZVAH (will get to 13 on the air)
SON OF ZORN
McGYVER
PITCH

LET'S GO TO A BRIS (the order will be snipped)
THE EXORCIST

SET A PLACE AT THE SEDER TABLE (should finish full the season)
DESIGNATED SURVIVOR

SEE YOU AT NEXT YEAR'S KOL NIDRE SERVICE (there's a second season)
KEVIN CAN WAIT
THE GOOD PLACE
LETHAL WEAPON
THIS IS US
SPEECHLESS