Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, July 19, 2021

Three years ago, when TV Guide bought the television-enthusiast website Jump The Shark, I questioned the value of the acquisition:

I guess this demonstrates how much quantity is valued over quality when it comes to Internet meda outlets. I mean, [JumpTheShark.com] may have started out around a clever concept, but look at where it’s at now: Pages and pages of junky, message-board like crap where rabid “Friends” lovers and haters trade empty insults. Pretty much a dime a dozen, and far astray from the site’s purported mission.

It’s certainly got plenty of regulars, but does this add up to a worthwhile media property? I’m skeptical.

Turns out that it didn’t add up. TV Guide, which itself was purchased by movie/TV studio Lionsgate since adding JTS, recently did away with the archived content and stripped the Jump The Shark brand down to a gossip blog. In fact, I don’t think it’s even much of a blog — the old JumpTheShark.com address not only redirects to tvguide.com/jumptheshark, but the posts themselves are rather bland, with just clumsy keyword tags (and their remnant definitions) signifying the original pop-cultural aesthetic behind the name.

I stick by my original assessment of the original site: It wasn’t all that precious an archive to preserve, because it was 99 percent fanboy junk postings. But why TV Guide saw fit to unceremoniously dump material that clearly had a community following behind it is baffling. Even going with the premise that they bought the JTS brandname instead of the site’s content, the way they’re currently utilizing that brandname doesn’t seem particularly effective.

In any case, it’s safe to declare Jump The Shark plowed under and dead. The phrase has established itself as a hip descriptor for something past its prime, with the added irony that it now applies to its former online home. But that home is now, effectively, gone.

In its place, Bone The Fish is picking up the baton. The new site has managed to reconstruct the original JTS content, including votes and comments for distinct categories of TV show decline (including, of course, the Ted McGinley Syndrome). Will “bone the fish” supplant “jump the shark” in popular lexicon? I don’t see it, but it’s a nice try.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/19/2009 07:44pm
Category: Internet, Pop Culture, TV, Wordsmithing
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We all watched “The Cosby Show” back in the ’80s, and we all admired the Huxtables as a wholesome American family. Clair and Cliff Huxtable were everybody’s favorite TV mom and dad, and they had five kids to show off as the results of their level-headed parenting chops.

But if you watch the latter-day episodes in the series, when the “Cosby Kids” were all grown up to full or near adulthood, you have to ask: What went wrong? Because far from turning out exemplary citizens, it seems like Cliff and Clair raised some pretty dysfunctional individuals. Running down the list:

- Eldest child Sondra winds up marrying Elvin, who not only is a mealy-mouthed male chauvinist, but who also dissuades her from a potentially lucrative career as a lawyer in favor of a hand-to-mouth existence that culminates in the couple moving back into her parents’ house;

- Second-oldest daughter Denise drops out of college, goes to Africa to marry some guy in the Navy, comes back to Brooklyn with husband and new stepdaughter Olivia, then promptly dumps that stepdaughter on the step-grandparents while she traipses off to Singapore;

- Son Theo parlays a lackadaisical high-school career into a lackadaisical college career, mooching off his parents well after moving out of their house, and generally embarking upon a slacker Gen-X lifestyle;

- Third daughter Vanessa shows promise by enrolling in college a year early, but then winds up getting engaged to Dabnis, a janitor and all-around schmuck who seems like another version of Elvin — thus hinting at a repeat of older sister Sondra’s travails;

- Finally, youngest child Rudy doesn’t display any particularly outstanding characteristics by the time she edges into her teen years by series’ end (probably due to Olivia’s usurpation of Rudy’s former role as the baby of the family).

I’m not even going to bother with Cousin Pam and other irrelevant add-on characters that the show added during its dying days (which I never watched anyway, having abandoned the show by 1989). The five Huxtable children that made up the nuclear family are proof enough of the parental shortcomings. It might have been a fun-filled household in Brooklyn, but Cliff and Clair’s status as super-parents is largely undeserved.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/19/2009 04:58pm
Category: Pop Culture, TV
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Saturday, July 18, 2021

I was walking up Lafayette Street when I saw it: A giant billboard for E! Network’s “Chelsea Lately”, starring the eponymous Chelsea Handler.

Hard to tell from the above cameraphone photo (even in embiggened Flickrized mode), but it’s actually a two-piece billboard: Handler’s head and shoulders are placed on the smaller top board, while the rest of her body accompanies the show title, broadcast time, and that “The Sharpest Tongue In Late Night” tagline on the larger board below. There’s a noticeable gap between the two sections, which gives her a disembodied look, which I guess is why I looked for longer than 5 seconds.

Then, as I kept walking and looking up, I noticed the parked van in the foreground, directly in my line of sight. The URL on the van’s back door is for Chelsea Rental, a local truck rental company.

Coincidental juxtaposition: Chelsea up above, and Chelsea down on street level. So I had to take the picture. And maybe there’s a gag in it somewhere — is it possible to rent Chelsea Handler?

And the kicker is that neither of these “Chelsea” visuals were anywhere near the actual Chelsea neighborhood, but rather, clear across town in NoHo. The van, I guess, will eventually find its way back to the West Side. The billboard stays perched above Lafayette, for now.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 07/18/2009 03:55pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Celebrity, New Yorkin', Photography, TV
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do the shuffle
This was bound to happen. Ever since I set the above photo of “Entourage” cast members playing dress-up The Bee Gees as the wallpaper on my iTouch, I’ve been regularly blasting “Stayin’ Alive” on my earbuds. When I see it on that little screen, it’s like a visual cue to break out of the usual track-shuffle and fire up the disco.

For all the sock-placement controversy this picture generated, affecting my everyday music listening is perhaps the cruelest cut of all.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 07/18/2009 02:30pm
Category: Pop Culture, TV, iPod
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Sunday, July 12, 2021

stayin' alive
As much fun as the boys of “Entourage” had in dressing up as The Bee Gees for a photo shoot, Adrian Grenier (posing in the center as lead Gee, Barry Gibb) decided to up the ante, disco-style:

[Co-star Kevin Connolly] told Conan O’Brien, “Adrian put a sock [in his pants]… When he was doing it, I said ‘What are you doing?’ and he said ‘It’s what they did in the ’70s.” I didn’t know that. And the photographer’s like ‘Adrian, we’ve got to lose one of the socks.’ And all of sudden when the photo came out I’m getting calls from girlfriends of mine, like ‘So, Adrian…’ And I didn’t want to throw him under the bus with the individual girls. I figured I’d wait until I got here on The Tonight Show.”

In keeping with the tone of the show, this sounds like something Grenier’s TV brother, Kevin Dillon, would pull while in Johnny “Drama” Chase character. Not the least because Drama is probably old enough to have seen the Bee Gees live in concert, and thus have experienced that rampant ’70s sock-bulging enhancement firsthand…

For the record, remember that the antiquated assassination-associated word “sockdologizing” means “manipulative”. Fits this episode.

P.S. - Yeah, I recognize a manufactured “outing” when I see one, all in aid of the premiere of the new season of “Entourage” this week. Therefore, I’m also being sockdologized, albeit willingly. At least there’s no sock-stuffing going on in my pants…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/12/2021 09:21pm
Category: Celebrity, Pop Culture, TV
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Tuesday, July 07, 2021

At least one good thing is coming out of this gobbledygook rebranding of Sci Fi Channel to Syfy: We’re getting free wireless Internet access!

Syfy will also be providing public Wi-Fi for a year in Rockefeller Plaza and, starting later this summer, in Union Square and other pedestrian hubs in Manhattan. While the service stresses Syfy’s civic-mindedness, says [network president Dave] Howe, it offers the additional upside of directing the million projected users to a Syfy-branded login page.

Solid. Good to know of some reliable hotspots around town, ideal for quick iTouch checks. I’ll endure the Syfy imagery; doubtful that it’ll spur me to actually tune into the channel, which is effectively non-existent to me now, regardless of the i/y substitution.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 07/07/2021 05:20pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., New Yorkin', TV, Wi-Fi
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Saturday, June 20, 2021

huh huh huh
Despite being well outside the demographic sweet-spot of the MTV generation, it didn’t take me long to discover “DJ & The Fro”, the network’s new animated comedy that debuted this week:

Deep in the soul-crushing cubicle maze of Oppercon Industries sit DJ & The Fro, two 20-something slackers who spend their days blowing off work while they find and mock the sickest and most hilarious videos ever to grace the Internet.

What Beavis and Butt-Head were to the music video generation, DJ & The Fro are to the YouTube generation. They find the best web videos and make jokes about them so you don’t have to.

Yeah, the bloodlines between the original idiots-watching-the-idiot-box show and this effort are highlighted by the shared MTV packaging. If you compress the timeframe from the early ’90s to today, you could almost imagine this as Beavis and Butt-Head all grown up, with the ratty couch being replaced by crappy office chairs.

Unfortunately, from what little I’ve seen so far, “DJ & The Fro” doesn’t really do it for me. It’s mildly amusing, but doesn’t really click. The Web video watching/mocking, which should be the highlight of the humor for me, actually comes off as slightly distractive, with the wisecracking commentary from the characters being rather weak. That could be because the show’s creators actually seem to resent that aspect of the show:

And if it turns out there’s market saturation of viral video snark shows, then [Dave] Jeser and [Matt] Silverstein hope that the rest of DJ and The Fro’s world — including character designs from Israeli animator Roy Iddan, whose work they discovered online — will be entertaining and funny enough to survive without the YouTube crutch.

“Hopefully, maybe season three or four, we can get rid of the clips,” says Jeser.

High hopes, because I don’t see anything that distinguishes this show from the flood of other Adult Swim-type crudely-drawn and -scripted fare, aside from the Web video. Take that out, and it’s just a couple of whiney-voiced office rats.

Why is the art of onscreen snark-commentary so undervalued, anyway? Like I said, the segments of “Beavis and Butt-Head” where they riffed on music videos was, to me, the best part of that show, far superior to the surrounding storylines. Same deal with “Mystery Science Theater 3000″. Yet I may be in the minority. I’ve talked with others who think that such comedic material doesn’t work unless it’s couched within a larger narrative — and preferably, dominated by such. I guess that’s the mentality that considers those comedic aside to be a “crutch”, to be minimized or cast aside altogether.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 06/20/2009 06:10pm
Category: Comedy, Internet, TV
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Tuesday, June 16, 2021

Your National Hockey League is on a real roll right now: On the heels of a court victory affirming its control over franchise ownership and relocation vis-à-vis the Coyotes and Jim Balsillie, it got confirmation that the just-completed Stanley Cup playoffs this year featured some of the highest television ratings in 36 years.

NBC’s Game 7 broadcast of the Stanley Cup final between the Penguins and the Red Wings on Friday night drew an average of 8 million viewers, the biggest American television audience for any N.H.L. game since the 9.4 million who watched the Game 6 Cup finale between Montreal and Chicago in 1973…

The size of the Pens-Wings audience is even more impressive, Variety reports, because Friday is customarily the lightest viewing night of the week.

And of course, some head-to-head context with the NHL’s sister league:

Sunday night’s ABC broadcast of Game 5 of the N.B.A. finals, in which the Los Angeles Lakers won the title against the Orlando Magic, attracted an average of 14 million viewers. That means the N.H.L. telecast drew an audience 57 percent the size of the N.B.A.’s. Traditionally in the U.S., N.H.L. games draw from 25 percent to 33 percent of the audience that watches N.B.A. games.

Yup, hockey fans can take pride in the idea that their sport is half as popular as pro hoops! But good news on the TV front is rare enough that this counts as a resounding victory. The Friday night result gives a nice boost to the final average viewership of 5.6 million for the five NBC-broadcasted games.

So how can the league and the network sustain this strong showing into next year? Some of the ingredients from this year can’t be pre-determined:

- Detroit in the Finals, which always pulls in eyeballs;
- Star-player power in the form of Sidney Crosby;
- The year-over-year rematch;
- Game 7 suspense;
- An unusually unchallenged programming night, with not only reruns on the other channels but also a night off for the NBA Finals;

But one key decision from Stanley Cup 2009 can be preserved going forward: The series-opening ratings juice that came from playing Games 1 and 2 on back-to-back weekend nights. You can debate how successful that would have been for NBC had it been, say, Columbus versus Florida. But I’m convinced that it’s the right way to kick off the showcase series of the playoffs: No opening-night pomp, followed by a day or two off for casual viewers to promptly forget about the whole thing. Saturday night served as the lead-in for a returning audience on Sunday, and the ratings momentum remained sustained from there, right through to Game 7’s breakthrough. So that two-game opener schedule will remain in place next year (and beyond).

I’d like to think that this Detroit-Pittsburgh showing will defuse the constant fretting over “large market” versus “small market” in championship TV ratings. Neither city can be truly considered “large market”, so you’d think that the raw viewer numbers wouldn’t measure up. Then again, they never do, unless you have the ideal population-intense New York-Los Angeles matchup, so it’s a pointless concern. These two cities are recognized as storied hockey towns, which probably helped sell the series; the challenge is to apply that pitch to non-traditional teams that might reach the Finals next year.

Finally, it’s refreshing to not hear about how hockey in June allegedly doesn’t work for a national audience. Summertime pucks seems to have found fans this time around.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 06/16/2009 11:41am
Category: Basketball, Hockey, SportsBiz, TV
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Sunday, June 14, 2021

i keed
I’m not even a little bit interested in this weekend’s Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, which looks like just one more merchandising platform in an already-oversaturated concert landscape.

But I am interested in seeing Triumph the Insult Comic Dog soon on “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien”, when he’ll be throwing down on the Bonnaroo-er scene.

Sounds like it’s easy pickings for the cigar-chompin’ puppy-puppet:

He offered pithy observations about the festival like: “They’ve got more stages than syphilis.” About one Bonnaroo act, the now middle-aged Beastie Boys, he said: “They’re a little more like the Pep Boys logo.”…

And Phish fans at Bonnaroo (where the band was playing two headlining sets) make for nearly as good material as the similarly devoted “Star Wars” fans Triumph memorably skewered in a sketch.

Rural Tennessee may never be the same again.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 06/14/2009 10:53am
Category: Comedy, Pop Culture, TV
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Friday, June 12, 2021

By way of a eulogy for today’s official death of analog-signal television in the U.S., here’s a sight that we’ll presumably not see again: The dreaded white-noise TV screen.

Who can hear and see that hateful electronic crackling and not cringe? As bad as the skull-piercing morning alarm clock. It triggers a reflex action in me: I have to shut it down ASAP.

The blue screen of death that now signifies digital TV outage just doesn’t inspire the same raw emotion. It just sits there, blithely displaying a lack of activity. At least the old small-screen snowstorm had activity to it, coming at you like some doomsday beast, or the entryway to the gates of hell — “hell” being a protracted timespan with (gasp) nothing to watch.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 06/12/2021 01:34pm
Category: TV, Tech
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Thursday, June 04, 2021

I’ll admit, I took notice of that squiggly-lined blue backdrop on the new “Tonight Show” set. It’s visible only during Conan O’Brien’s opening monologue, but since that’s a mostly-static bloc of several minutes, it’s hard not to zoom in on that visual.

I didn’t make the connection with Nintendo’s oldschool “Super Mario Bros.”, but Serious Lunch did, and created the above animated GIF to illustrate the findings. And I’m glad for it.

No, the mash-up of various pixelated elements does not represent an actual Super Mario screenshot. But that doesn’t mean the outlines weren’t inspired directly by the videogame. It’s not like those mushroom blocks, clouds, etc. needed to be shoehorned into the Conan outlines — they fit perfectly. I’m fairly convinced that NBC’s designers took their cue from the game.

Nintendo of America agrees, and endorses the borrow. Heck, I’d have thought some conspiracy theory would have sprouted from this, i.e. that it’s subliminal late-night product placement, designed to juice Wii sales to sleep-deprived consumers.

In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if that premise is used for the upcoming in-show skit reacting to this development. Expect Conan to stick a fake black mustache under his lip and do a Mario schtick (with Andy Richter doing likewise for his Luigi impression).

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 06/04/2021 10:25pm
Category: Creative, TV, Videogames
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Tuesday, June 02, 2021

For all the hand-wringing over the unconventional back-to-back gamenights start to this year’s Stanley Cup Finals, the strong Nielsen numbers from this past weekend indicate that the format is probably now a permanent feature:

The NBC telecast [of Sunday's 8PM airing of Game 2] drew a 3.4 rating and a 6 share. That’s up from the 2.6 rating and 5 share of Saturday’s Game 1. Detroit beat Pittsburgh 3-1 in Sunday night’s game to take a 2-0 lead in the series.

And those numbers are, indeed, a great showing, even compared to last year.

The stated intent in scheduling the start of the series with back-to-backs was to seamlessly sustain momentum, instead of playing a Game 1 and then taking a night off before following into the second match. The unstated intent: NBC doesn’t want to air hockey during the rarefied weekday primetime hours, so a Saturday-Sunday bloc was the only way to get the broadcast network coverage.

But whatever the machinations behind the scenes, it worked: A build-up in ratings points to the first game being an effective lead-in to draw more viewers the following night. For what it’s worth, Game 2 went head-to-head against this year’s MTV Movie Awards, which presumably would have drained away some of that coveted 18-34 year-old audience; despite that, the NHL increased the number of eyeballs.

Anything that kicks up the ratings isn’t going to be abandoned, so expect this formula to stay in place next year. Let’s just hope the league and the network don’t go hog-wild and extend the logic into unworkable illogic: Back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back for the entire seven-game series, hoping that the Nielsens increase each night.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 06/02/2021 11:52am
Category: Hockey, SportsBiz, TV
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Since I’m still too bleary-eyed this morning from staying up late to watch Conan O’Brien’s “Tonight Show” debut, I’ll appropriate Tom Shales’ deft prose in way of assessment:

By the time he finally appeared, many viewers may already have had their fills of O’Brien, who has gone from being the proprietor of an endearingly zany curiosity shop — “Late Night,” airing at 12:35 — to being the impresario at the center of a gleaming circus maximus, resplendent on a gorgeous new set in a huge refurbished studio on the Universal lot in Los Angeles.

I definitely felt there was too much Conan-centric content, particularly with those prolonged taped segements. Probably because of that, there was too little interaction with his supporting cast, namely Andy Richter and Max Weinberg, both of whom provided solid comedic contributions on the 12:30 slot. Overall, there seemed to be too much emulation of the previous Leno regime’s style.

But then again, this is to be expected. One show isn’t enough to pass judgment, and especially not the premiere, when it makes sense to overemphasize the new guy in charge. I don’t expect O’Brien and company to hit their stride until after this week’s overblown rollout concludes. After that, the show will settle into a regular pace that hopefully reintroduces elements from “Late Night”.

Oh, and as for the picture above these words: A leftover from last year’s WGA strike effort. Just happens to be the only photo of O’Brien I have stored, but aside from that, I like it. And I still think he looks like a guest-starring warlock from “Bewitched”, and should play off that in a skit (provided he ever goes back to that playoff-beard look).

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 06/02/2021 10:59am
Category: Celebrity, Comedy, TV
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Sunday, May 31, 2021

There was a moment during the final episode of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” that’s really bugged me, and confirms what a douchebag Leno really is:

In the final minutes, as he was doing the customary thank-yous to everyone involved in his 17-year run on the show, Leno mentioned all the camera operators, production workers, and other behind-the-scene workers. He then put special emphasis on how all those folks are union employees, and that “Tonight” was a union-produced show, and that he was “very proud of that”.

Strange hearing that, considering that Leno prominently disregarded the picket lines during 2008’s Writers Guild of America television and film industry strike by performing scripted material on his show. As a WGA member, he was expressly forbidden from doing that, and the fact that the other late-night talkshow hosts (including his successor, Conan O’Brien) adhered to the strike rules made Leno’s actions that much more objectionable. No two ways about it, he was a scab.

So basically, Leno supports a union shop — except as it might apply to him personally.

Like I said, a douchebag, and a hypocritical one at that. Either his memory is short, or he assumes the audience’s is. I guess everyone else’s recall is just that short-term, because I’ve seen no one else call out Leno on this. All the media reports on his 11:30 swansong have focused on the schmaltzy sendoff he gave himself, including that cloyingly-sweet group picture with a bunch of children at the end.

Appropriate actually, because it really emphasizes how predictably lowest-common-denominator Leno’s schtick is, and how exploitative he really is. He can rot on his new 10PM gig.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 05/31/2009 06:18pm
Category: Business, Celebrity, TV
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Monday, May 25, 2021

Celebrity stalking, 140 characters at a time? That seems to be the premise behind a planned Twitter-based television show:

The social-networking service has teamed with Reveille productions and Brillstein Entertainment to develop an unscripted series based on the site, which invites brief, 140-character postings from members all over the world.

The show would harness Twitter to put players on the trail of celebrities in a competitive format.

The producers call their planned series the first to bring the immediacy of Twitter to the TV screen.

“Competitive format” tweeting? Sounds a bit shaky to me. And I’m sure it’ll piss off the hardcore Twitterati by deflecting focus away from regular folks, in favor of the likes of @THE_REAL_SHAQ, @oprah, and @britneyspears.

If this TMZ-patterned concept tanks, maybe they can repurpose it by selling it to C-SPAN as a Congressional online reality show.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/25/2009 01:05pm
Category: Celebrity, Politics, Social Media Online, TV
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Saturday, May 23, 2021

Even though it has previously applied the trademarked “Take The Train To The Game” tagline to all the area’s major-league sports venues, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has noticeably ramped up that promotion for the just-completed Metro North Railroad Yankees-E. 153rd Street Station stop.

“Take The Train To The Game” is a catchy little turn of the phrase. Catchier still if you’re a New York child of the ’70s and still remember — no, make that “can’t possibly forget” — the similar “Take The Train To The Plane” jingle in the old JFK Express television commercials.

So why not leverage that old campaign now? The MTA should collaborate with the Yankees to cook up a nostalgic ad or two that repurposes that brain-burrowing two-verse ditty:

A mock-nostalgic sarcastic tone would work well. An inside joke to those of us old enough to get it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 05/23/2009 10:50am
Category: Advert./Mktg., Baseball, History, New Yorkin', TV
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Monday, May 18, 2021

If you’re the type that still clings to a TV news anchorman as some sort of authoritative voice to deliver you the news, then the idea of that same talking-head grooving as a music blogger is probably jarring. But that’s the incongruity you’re stuck with, should you come across BriTunes or Amplified, the pop-culture side projects of the two frontmen at NBC News and ABC News:

[ABC's Dan] Harris, 37, anchors ABC’s “World News” on Sundays and is a general assignment reporter who spent six months in Iraq. He has a “Nightline” piece coming this week on children in the Congo being accused of witchcraft and subjected to abusive exorcisms. [NBC's Brian] Williams, who turned 50 last month, is a news traditionalist with such a formal manner on “Nightly News” that his bosses once worried that viewers would have a hard time relating to him.

Their musical credentials were met with some suspicion in the rock world. “There is sort of a feeling of ‘What are these interlopers doing in our special little space?’” Harris said.

If the hard news business ever goes soft, I suppose Harris and Williams could apply for jobs at Pitchfork

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/18/2009 11:07am
Category: Bloggin', Celebrity, Pop Culture, TV
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Saturday, May 16, 2021

Whenever an old episode of “Good Times” pops up that includes the bit character Lenny, I can’t help but wonder whatever happened to Dap Sugar Willie. Who, as you can see from the album cover above, was from north Philadelphia.

The online record is pretty thin. While he made a handful of movie and TV appearances in the ’70s and ’80s, his bigger claim to fame was as a local standup comic who released a couple of Redd Foxx-style adults-only comedy albums. In fact, it appears that he and Foxx were compatriots, which led to Willie’s first television gigs on “Sanford and Son”. But there’s scant information about Willie after his heyday. There’s an unconfirmed report of his death a few years back; if he is still alive, he’s dropped well out of sight.

Not that Willie was a remarkable onscreen presence. But there was something about him that was memorable: The cadence in the way he delivered his lines, that weird longhair-moustache facial combo, and especially that handbrush he would pull out to brush himself off after getting dissed. One of a kind, if nothing else.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 05/16/2009 07:10pm
Category: Celebrity, Comedy, TV
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Friday, May 15, 2021

If you need any more convincing that “The Simpsons” is running on the fumes of fumes by now, here it is: The focus is now on maximizing the merchandisability of the show and its characters, making it an “evergreen” intellectual property (i.e., having timeless appeal ala other pop-cultural icons).

Silly me, I thought they had this monetization down pat years ago, when Simpsons t-shirts and trinkets (remember “Do The Bartman”?) flooded the market and practically typified TV licensing. But it turns out that they were doing it wrong back then:

After The Simpsons’ premiere in 1990, Fox was unprepared for its instant popularity and improvised, not always successfully.

“They had too many products, and they didn’t do a good job of controlling the knockoffs,” says Gary Caplan, who runs an independent licensing consulting firm. “That probably slowed (the franchise) down a little bit.”

The folks at Fox also were stymied because they didn’t know how the characters would develop.

“A lot of licensees took the limited art (that Fox had) and put it on the front of a T-shirt or backpack or whatever,” recalls former Fox merchandising chief Al Ovadia, now an independent consultant. “In the early days, you didn’t know enough about it.”

Glad to see it took them only 20 years to hone the pimpery.

I haven’t watched a first-run episode of “The Simpsons” in years. I’d heard that it had undergone a rejuvenation at one point, but I’m not going to bother checking — it had gotten so hokey circa 2000 that I couldn’t bear to watch more than 10 minutes before turning it off in disgust. It’s that much worse because of how superb a satire the show was during the mid-90s, when Conan O’Brien was producing episodes — the inevitable comparison actually makes it painful for me to watch what its devolved into.

Just this week, the local FOX affiliate decided to start showing late-night reruns of the show from the very first season. Those first couple of years were fairly rough; it would take a couple of years before the show really hit its wickedly-funny stride. But again, watching the way the show used to be makes it that much harder to take the cash-cow it’s now become.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 05/15/2009 10:52am
Category: Advert./Mktg., Pop Culture, TV
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Wednesday, May 13, 2021

I actually cooked last night: A steak dinner. And while it’s not the first time I’ve ever grilled a slab of beef, it’s been a good while. Plus, the marinading/tenderizing took most of the day, and even though I didn’t have to do anything but stick it in the fridge for several hours prior to the fire, the process felt preoccupationally-intensive.

All of which is probably what brought to mind the following moldy-oldie comedic essay about a man, his steak, and the philosophy between them. It’s by Michael J. Nelson, alum from the dearly-departed “Mystery Science Theater 3000″. This was a post-MST3K work by Nelson, for a short-lived comedy website called timmybighands.com (in existence in 2001, now long since de-funked). I managed to save a copy for myself; there’s a small handful of replications around the Web, so consider this a minor attempt at further spreading the quirky word. Enjoy.

Socratic Dialogue
….with a Steak
by Michael J. Nelson

Mike Nelson: Steak, why is there you?

Steak: I simply exist. There is no why.

Mike Nelson: Steak? Think back to 20 years ago, why do you think you existed then?

Steak: I can’t remember back to 20 years ago.

Mike Nelson: What do you think that might mean?

Steak: I didn’t exist 20 years ago?

Mike Nelson: Very good, Steak. If you didn’t exist then, and you do exist now, how is it you came to exist?

Steak: You bought me.

Mike Nelson: Could I have bought you if you didn’t exist?

Steak: No.

Mike Nelson: Then who made you?

Steak: The man in the white hat?

Mike Nelson: And how did he make you?

Steak: He formed me from the Mother Steak.

Mike Nelson: What is the Mother Steak?

Steak: The source of all Steak. All my friends in the counter, they came from the Mother Steak, except the pork chops.

Mike Nelson: And who made the Mother Steak?

Steak: I… I don’t know.

Mike Nelson: Think.

Steak: A weed…

Mike Nelson: Are you green like a weed?

Steak: No. I am red.

Mike Nelson: What else is red?

Steak: Other steaks.

Mike Nelson: Think harder, Steak.

Steak: The bricks where the man in the white hat is.

Mike Nelson: Are you hard like a brick?

Steak: No.

Mike Nelson: What else is red, but not hard like a brick?

Steak: A dog?

Mike Nelson: Steak.

Steak: A hat?

Mike Nelson: Steak!

Steak: A shoe…

Mike Nelson: Steak, is the inside of a cow red but not hard like a brick?

Steak: Yes… (pause) The Mother Steak is the inside of a cow?

Mike Nelson: Yes, and…

Steak: And I am the inside of a cow!

Mike Nelson: Yes. And what do I do with the inside of a cow?

Steak: Sprinkle it with salt and pepper, perhaps a little olive oil, then throw it on a very hot fire?

Mike Nelson: No. I let it go, back to the Mother Steak.

Steak: Really?

Mike Nelson: No. Just kidding. Good-bye Steak.

Steak: (screams and sizzles)

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 05/13/2009 11:10am
Category: Comedy, Creative, Food, Internet, Pop Culture, TV
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Sunday, May 10, 2021

Nothing puts an avant-garde Euro-snobby accent on today’s Mother’s Day observance quite like a screening of Pedro Almodóvar’s All About My Mother, which Sundance Channel is doing right now.

Of course I’m watching it. For probably the dozenth time, but first ever on this holiday. Thinking of you, mom.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 05/10/2021 11:40pm
Category: Creative, Movies, TV, Women
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