T Dog’s Media Notebook: HBO cancels “Vinyl”

Vinyl_IntertitleWhat the Good Lord giveth, can also taketh: In a reversal, HBO has canceled freshman drama Vinyl – despite renewing it for a second season four days after it premiered. Despite a stellar cast in front the camera and behind the scenes, the series never gained traction with viewers or critics (though it seemed Vinyl only registered with the elitist of TV viewers.)

There is precedent is reversing second-season renewals: not long ago, CBS Television Distribution renewed Arsenio Hall’s late-night revival for a second season (they even had Jay Leno come out and make the announcement on his show) only to be canceled several weeks later. Other examples include HBO’s Luck and El Rey’s Matador.

Vinyl underwent some creative turmoil after the first season with the dismissal of co-Creator Terence Winter as showrunner and was replaced by Scott Z. Burns. Then HBO President Michael Lombardo left, leaving the show in the lurch. Therefore, it was easier for new HBO head Casey Bloys to drop the show since he wants to put his own stamp on the network.

Premiering on Feb. 14, Vinyl drew an average of around 600,000 viewers in its Sunday time slot, far below what Game of Thrones usually earns in the same time period. Yours truly tuned out after a few episodes when it became clear the writers’ emphasis were more on people snorting coke up their nose and having fits rather than character development.

The CW and Tribune Media announced this week the hiring of television personality Robert Irvine to replace Bill Cunningham as host of the network’s only daytime strip. Levine’s background includes celebrity chef, fitness guru, and advocate. The program plans to have the same conflict talk format CunnIngham had, but Irvine is expected to give guests “tough love’, or whatever that means.

Two weeks ago, Cunningham told Tribune execs he decided to call it a TV talk show career, and remain in radio, where he hosts a popular Cincinnati show over WLW-AM.

Even though Tribune is producing the show and owns WGN-TV here, Irvine is landing on new CW affiliate WPWR in September. As part of Tribune’s new five-year deal with CW, WGN cut ties with the network and is returning to independent station status, which means Irvine will not be carried by good ol’ Channel 9. Irvine is being produced by John Irwin Entertainment and Robert Irvine Productions in association with Tribune Media.

tribune-company-new-logoAs you know by now, Tribune Publishing became tronc last week, a name widely ridiculed by just about everyone. Now we get some “employee video”, explaining now the culture at tronc works.

Yours truly was a business major in college and even I don’t know what the hell are they talking about. In the 2 minute and 30 second video, tronc’s “Chief Technology Officer” and “Chief Digital Officer” (is there any difference between the two?) They talk about… well, “funneling this” and “funneling that” into some funnel so content can spread around the world, or something. Also, there was this big X in the middle connecting photo and video with high engagement.

Clearly, the video sticks viewers in some do-it-yourself college course. See it for yourself if you haven’t already:


But wait: there’s more: the tronc HR people released a video talking about “talent mobility”. Yes, more buzzwords and corporate speak. (Click here to watch – though this may be taken down any second.)

Yes, nothing says “fabulous” and “exciting” than a low wage position with little to no benefits. If tronc owned a restaurant, they would be touting customers’ “high engagement” with their chicken sandwiches and praising their Head Burger Flipper for creating “content” customers can “consume”. Not satisfied with your drink? Take it up with our Chief Beverage Officer.

Now, where do I go to apply for the Head Receiving Paper Sorter position (“mail clerk”)? I can’t apply for the Head Bullshitter one because apparently, that’s been filled already.

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