Also: CBS/Viacom merger dead; Hairspray Live! earns decent reviews and ratings; Alan Thicke dies
Remember the message Jonathon Brandmeier put up on his website back two months ago when he said ” [We’ll] continue on the air until it’s officially over – or until they literally pull the plug?” Well, they just did. Cumulus and Westwood One abruptly pulled the plug on Brandmeier’s lame-duck show Monday, after announcing in October it was ending the program in early 2017. The three-hour program aired on WLS-AM only from 9 to 11 a.m. each weekday.
Brandmeier posted on the show’s Facebook page a message about the decision to pull the plug.
No word on what would replace Brandmeier at WLS – but don’t look for him to return on the station on a local basis. Brandmeier’s “showgram” actually drew lower ratings than the program it replaced.
This comes as WLS-AM and 32 other Cumulus stations announced Wednesday a three-year renewal for Rush Limbaugh’s radio show and announcing Thursday night it was not renewing Michael Savage’s evening show.
Shari Redstone announced Monday the proposed second reunification between CBS and Viacom is off – for now. Ms. Redstone – the daughter of National Amusements Chairman Sumner Redstone – took over the company from him given his ill health. Investors and Wall Street were hoping for a return as Viacom has struggled with stock price over the last several years, as its channels have seen ratings declines and more and more consumers are cutting the cord, or dropping cable.
Viacom ousted its longtime CEO (Phillippe Dauman) earlier this year. A few weeks ago, Viacom appointed Bob Bakish as its newest CEO.
A merger between the two could have left current CBS CEO Les Moonves in charge. National Amusements has 80 percent voting stock in both companies.
The Viacom conglomerate split in December 2005, becoming two separate companies – CBS Corp. and Viacom. Because of the then-financial interest and syndication rules, CBS was forced to spin-off its syndication companies to its stockholders in 1971 and named the company Viacom. The company ranked in millions of dollars from selling syndicated reruns of old CBS shows – as well as first-run syndicated programs throughout the 1970’s, 1980’s, and 1990’s. The company later bought MTV, several TV and radio stations (including WLAK/WLIT in Chicago), and launched Nickelodeon and VH1. After buying Paramount Pictures in 1994, Viacom and CBS re-merged in 1999.
December 7 saw the fourth live musical production NBC has aired in recent years, Hairspray Live! Based on the 1988 film of the same name – and the musical based on the movie – and the movie based on the musical – and the syndicated TV series based on the movie (OK, I made the last one up), the presentation drew a 2.3 adults 18-49 rating, down a full point from last year’s The Wiz Live!, which drew a 3.4 rating and 11.5 million viewers. Last year’s presentation aired on a Thursday; this year’s on Wednesday because NBC aired a football game the following night.
As for competition, Fox’s Empire eked out a win with a 2.5 rating. But the number is a far cry from what it drew two seasons ago. The show did jump a full ratings point from its Lethal Weapon lead-in. This past Wednesday night, Fox’s new drama Star premiered and takes over Empire’s slot on Jan. 4 for two months.
The live special was OK – Jennifer Hudson saved the show, as expected. Yours truly didn’t care for the behind-the-scenes stuff, especially as they raced and changed between acts. And the camera often shook during some scenes, giving the impression Baltimore in the 1960’s had a lot of earthquakes.
The next live presentation for NBC next December is Bye Bye Birdie, with Jennifer Lopez.
On a sad note, Canadian-born television personality Alan Thicke passed away on Tuesday at the age of 69 from complications of a heart attack. Thicke was best known to American audiences as Jason Seaver, stay-at-home psychiatrist on ABC’s hit sitcom Growing Pains, which ran from 1985 to 1992. Earlier in his career, Thicke hosted a successful daytime talk show in Canada.
Eyed by Fred Silverman, Thicke was given his own ninety-minute, late-night talk show in September 1983 titled Thicke Of The Night from MGM/UA and Metromedia, whose station group (now part of Fox Television Stations, including Chicago’s WFLD-TV) produced the show. Thicke of The Night was touted as a younger alternative to NBC’s Tonight Show With Johnny Carson, but was a ratings and critical failure, ending in September 1984. After finding success on Pains, Thicke appeared on several other series, including Hope & Gloria, How I Met Your Mother, and most recently, Fuller House.
He and his ex-wife Gloria Loring, wrote the theme songs to NBC sitcoms Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts Of Life. His son Robin is a musical superstar in his own right, with Blurred Lines one of the biggest hits of 2013. Thicke is also survived by his sons Brennan and Carter and current wife Tanya Callau.