The future for WGN-TV, The CW, and My Network TV

Screenshot of WGN-TV's logo and slogan from the 1980's. (YouTube)

Screenshot of WGN-TV’s logo and slogan from the 1980’s. (YouTube)

After Monday’s announcement of The CW shifting to WPWR, where does these channels stand?

Back in 2008, WGN-TV aired a retrospective of its 60th year in broadcasting. Hosted by Jim Belushi, the special looked back on the station’s local programming such as Garfield Goose, Ray Rayner, and Bozo. Airing on a Sunday night, the special did better in the ratings than The CW fare it pre-empted and pulled in far more revenue.

Hint, hint.

Eight years later, Tribune’s WGN and The CW are ending their association with each other after a decade. Surprised? Maybe. But the relationship was like pairing up Karen Carpenter with Alice Cooper, an uneven match from the start. CW and WGN never were really compatible to begin with, more people associating long-gone shows like those mentioned above with the station, than with any CW program WGN has aired. In fact, the same can be said when WGN was affiliated with predecessor TheWB, though a few WB shows (notably 7th Heaven and Buffy) drew great numbers for them.

So WGN is returning to its roots as a true independent, which it was known for 39 years. The station already has a strong news presence, making up nearly half of its daily schedule (with a weekend expansion in the works) and has rights to the Cubs, White Sox, Bulls, and Blackhawks – in an era where most non-NFL sporting events are on cable. WGN will be fine without the CW, thank you very much (and sorry Baby Boomers, Bozo is NOT coming back, nor it should.)

Boston is also getting an independent in 2017, as WHDH loses its NBC affiliation to WMEU, a station NBC owns and is currently a Telemundo outlet.

The CW now heads to WPWR, marking the first time a Fox-owned station had an affiliation of the network, part-owned by CBS and Time Warner. CW’s ratings are expected to take a hit, but not without precedence: when CBS lost key affiliates to Fox in the epic New World deal in 1994, ratings for the network declined due to the move to several UHF stations (not to mention the loss of NFL football.) It would take years for CBS to bounce back, though some CBS stations involved in the switch (Detroit, Atlanta, etc.) are still struggling.

While the affiliation immediately raises the profile of WPWR, there are challenges: according to the Los Angeles Times, WPWR is only averaging a scant 0.3 rating and 1 share in total-day household ratings – a far cry from May 1994 when as an independent, WPWR was pulling an 8 share – its highest number ever, thanks to Roseanne reruns and Star Trek: The Next Generation, which aired its series finale that month. Its alliance with the Chris-Craft/United station group (owners of WWOR in New York and KCOP in Los Angeles)  led to major program purchases such as Baywatch and Warner Bros’ Primetime Entertainment Network, home of Babylon 5 and Kung Fu: The Legend Continues. Along with Chris-Craft, WPWR joined the newly-launched UPN network in 1995.

WPWR was a success story under program director Neal Sabin, who turned the station from a little-watched outlet to a major moneymaker and continued to be successful even after he left to run WCIU when it became a general-market independent station. When the FCC loosened the ownership rules, Chris-Craft was swallowed by Fox and so was WPWR, sold for $425 million – the highest amount ever paid for a UHF station. WPWR now was a sister station to WFLD – an outlet it used to often beat in the ratings. Fox cut costs at WPWR, canceling public-affairs shows and a local children’s program. Fox began using WPWR to dump programming it didn’t want anymore, such as Jerry Springer and reruns of King Of The Hill and The Office.

The MNT era of WPWR-TV.

The MNT era of WPWR-TV.

When UPN merged with The WB in 2006, it left WPWR and many former UPN affiliates with My Network TV – created by Fox as a replacement. The first programming attempt – English-language telenovelas such as Desire and Fashion House, were both critical and ratings disasters. Nearly a year later came low-budget, second-rate programming. In 2009, MNT threw in the towel and became a programming service, airing off-network drama repeats. With little original programming, WPWR’s profile cratered further.

Despite Fox failing to invest in “My50” after all these years, give them credit – they did convince Mancow Mueller to put his radio morning show on its air for two years although the program was a critical and ratings failure.

As of May 2016, the only “A-product” first-run program on WPWR is Family Feud. Yes indeed, the station has a lot of work to do. Fox acquiring better product for WPWR – and not just second and third runs of programming already on WFLD would be a nice start. Having Feud in prime access (6 p.m.) is a plus.

So, where does this leave fans of Mentalist and Walking Dead reruns? It is unlikely Fox would move My Network TV programming to another station, so those reruns will likely wind up in late-night – which is already the case at KCOP, where they shifted MNT programming out of primetime since last September and is airing from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Other markets where MNT programming is being delayed to late-night include Seattle (KZJO, from 1-3 a.m.); Cleveland (WUAB, 11 p.m- 1 a.m.); Portland,Ore. (KPDX, 10 a.m.-midnight); Sacramento (KQCA, midnight-2 a.m.); Evansville, Ind. (WEVV/DT-2 from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.); Alexandria, La. ; Springfield, Mass.; and Lima, Oh.

Is this is indeed a blow to My Network TV? Perhaps. If it does fold, we could see the rise of the independent station once more – after all, finding programming (albeit non-sports) for primetime isn’t as hard as it looks. Moreover, it could give producers a chance to develop programming for primetime again, like it did in the ’80’s and ’90’s. It’s a long shot, but it’s a thought.

The Independents Club: Here is a selected list of true independent stations and the programs they are currently airing in prime-time. Weekend programming (Saturday and Sunday) is not included.

WCIU, Chicago.  Airs a local newscast from WLS-TV at 7 p.m.; sitcom reruns of Rules of Engagement, Family Guy, and 2 Broke Girls

WCUU. Chicago. A sister station to WCIU (known as The U Too, available on Channel 26.2), this station airs Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Hot in Cleveland. Has rights to Chicago Wolves hockey and the WNBA’s Chicago Sky, plus a few high-school football/basketball games and ACC contests.

KCAL, Los Angeles. In March 1990, the station became the first in the country to airs an all-news block in primetime; still does today.

KDOC, Los Angeles/Anaheim. Has Law & Order: Criminal Intent, double runs of Everybody Loves Raymond, and Family Guy.

KTXA, Dallas. Owned by CBS, the station double runs Rules, 2 Broke Girls, and Mike and Molly. Former UPN affiliate. Airs Mavericks games on occasion.

KOFY, San Francisco. Airs The Office and Cougar Town, an hour-long newscast produced by KGO-TV, and Corrupt Crimes and Just For Laughs. A former WB affiliate.

KICU, San Francisco. Now re-branded as “KTVU Plus” (Fox owns both KTVU and KICU), they double run three shows: Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory, and Seinfeld.

WPCH, Atlanta. Branded as “Peachtree TV”, the former WTBS Superstation now airs movies followed by Seinfeld

KTVK, Phoenix. An hour of Hot In Cleveland; 90 minutes of local news, followed by Entertainment Tonight. Former ABC affiliate.

WADL, Detroit. A local newscast sandwiched between Law & Order: Criminal Intent

WMOR, Tampa. Reruns of Anger Management, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and The Office. Was a WB affiliate until 1999 when Sinclair’s WTTA acquired the affiliation.

KUSI, San Diego. TMZ, Extra, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and a newscast.

KJZZ, Salt Lake City. Airs Jeopardy!, Millionaire, Steve Harvey, and a double-run of Friends. Formerly aired Utah Jazz games (hence the call letters.) Currently owned by Larry H. Miller Communications (who also owns the Jazz), a sale is pending to Sinclair, owner of CBS affiliate KUTV. Former UPN and My Network TV affiliate.

Joining this list soon: WGN, Chicago, WHDH, Boston.

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The Upfronts Post-Game Show


Give me your Hamiltons: James Corden with the cast of “Hamiltons”

What we learned from television’s most rockin’ week

Now that the parties have been held, the red carpet has been rolled up, and the song and dance routines have been performed, it’s time to get to serious business: sell suckers… er… I mean advertisers on the 42 new television shows scheduled to debut in the 2016-17 season. Yours truly’s thoughts on the overall health of network prime-time TV:

– More laughs this year than last. While NBC and Fox are downplaying yuks this year (and CW continues to ignore it altogether,) CBS and ABC have invested more in the genre, with the Tiffany network restoring a comedy block on Monday nights and ABC doing likewise on Tuesdays. However, the style of sitcom among each network is different: CBS is adding more multi-cams, while ABC is investing in single-camera comedies.

ABC will have ten comedies on its fall schedule- the most in several years. Despite what you’ve read elsewhere, the move to have ten comedies on ABC’s fall schedule is NOT unprecedented. In 1989, ABC had a whopping sixteen sitcoms on its fall schedule. By January 1990, the number dropped to twelve – notably the cancellation of Sunday night sitcoms Free Spirit and Homeroom, replaced by short-lived drama Elvis and – America’s Funniest Home Videos.

– Dramas still dominate. Despite comedy’s inroads, dramas still dominate network schedules: the genre takes up over half of the shows in primetime with eleven of them debuting this fall.

– Reboots, remakes still in demand. Love ’em or hate them, reboots and remakes are still around and three are on the schedule this season. Last season saw the successful revival of The X-Files on Fox and Full House on Netflix, and the forgettable reboot of Heroes, which was an already forgettable show to begin with.

– Unusual concepts we haven’t seen in a long time are being tried out. Give the networks credit for trying something different concepts this year – ABC with Downward Dog (with the story told from the dog’s point-of-view – in color, I hope)  and Fox with Son of Zorn. But this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this on television – in 1991, ABC had Baby Talk with events narrated from the baby’s POV – just like in the film Look Who’s Talking. The series was critically derided and lasted one season and a half. In 1968, NBC had a Sunday evening series titled The New Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn, blending live-action with animation (from Hanna-Barbera), although it was the three kids who were the humans against an animated backdrop and avoiding an animated character named “Injun Joe” every week (I’m not making this up.) The series was later rerun as part of the Banana Splits syndication package.

– Upfront presentations were nasty this year. And boy, were they ever. Fox taking potshots at CBS (with a bald Les Moonves), CBS firing back, and Jimmy Kimmel targeting almost everybody at ABC’s upfronts. Were these shows produced by Randy Michaels? Many online commenters were unhappy with the tone of some of the upfront presentations, which were more concerned about making viral-video and Instagram moments than pitching the crowd on why they should buy their networks. Yours truly doesn’t mind the rivalries – after all, its what makes the business great. But leave the Morning Zoo antics in radio.

Advertising, Television

The CW exchanges WGN-TV for WPWR

cwWGN-TV to drop CW affiliation in September; moves to Fox-owned WPWR

Tribune Broadcasting renews agreement to carry CW programming in twelve markets

Tribune Broadcasting finally renewed its CW affiliations this weekend. But in a surprise move, it didn’t renew its affiliation with WGN-TV in Chicago.

Where The CW affiliation wound up is a even bigger surprise.

As first reported by Robert Feder, WGN-TV declined to renew its affiliation with The CW – in a surprise move, the network is moving to Fox-owned WPWR-TV, currently a My Network TV affiliate and a former UPN affiliate.

The move comes as Tribune Media has finally renewed its affiliation agreements after months of haggling – but only with twelve of its thirteen stations. The long-term renewals include Tribune stations WPIX in New York, KTLA in Los Angeles and KDAF in Dallas.

Terms were not disclosed. The switch is expected to take place sometime around Sept. 1.

CW was formed in 2006 from a merger between Time Warner’s The WB and CBS-owned UPN, giving Time Warner and CBS Corp. each a 50 percent stake.

The CW deal with WPWR marks the first time Fox has a relationship with the network. The development of My Network TV actually came about when Fox’s UPN affiliates were snubbed by CW to make deals with competing stations. After three unsuccessful years, My Network TV became a programming service airing mostly off-network drama repeats.

The announcement comes as CW unveiled its 2016-17 slate at its upfront presentation last week in New York, with fifteen original programs.

With CW programming airing in primetime, there is no word on if My Network TV’s drama repeats would continue to air on WPWR in another daypart, or another station. WPWR’s current syndicated lineup currently consts of Family Feud, The Simpsons, and The Big Bang Theory.

WPWR also gets CW’s five hour One Magnificent Morning E/I block for Saturday mornings, produced by Litton Entertainment. WPWR would also get Bill Cunningham’s daytime talk show if it returns this fall.

Say so long to "C More 50", or what ever the hell this was.

Say so long to “C More 50”, or what ever the hell this was.

Affiliation switches are rare in Chicago. A network swap between Spanish-networks took place here in January 1989 after then-Univision affiliate WSNS snatched Telemundo away from WCIU. With no other options, Univision signed an affiliation deal with WCIU which at the time, only broadcast Spanish programming on a part-time basis. This would become an issue when Univision bought then-English-language independent WGBO-TV in 1994, pulling its affiliation from WCIU. The Univision swap took place the same year Rupert Murdoch and Fox pulled off the biggest affiliation coup in history, nabbing twelve New World-owned Big three stations, many of them CBS affiliates (22 years ago to this very day.)

Recently, Raleigh-Durham’s WRAL and WNCN swapped affiliations, from CBS to NBC and vice versa.

Meanwhile, WGN is returning to its independent station status for the first time in 21 years. It was one for 39 years before joining The WB network; prior, WGN was affiliated with the now long-defunct Dumont network, and a part-time affiliation with CBS before the latter bought WBBM-TV in 1953.

WGN plans to air sports, syndicated programming and local news to fill the vacant CW hours. It was frequent sports premptions as one of the reasons CW and WGN broke up, often delaying weeknight CW programming into the weekend or late-night hours.

WGN carries Chicago Cubs, White Sox, Bulls, and Blackhawks games. Excluding the latter, WGN had farmed out games to WCIU and later WPWR in order to avoid conflicts with CW programming. WGN can also now bid for Bears games when they appear on ESPN’s Monday Night Football.

Granted, the move in a win-win for Chicago television viewers. For WPWR, first-run, younger-skewing programming such as Arrow, Supergirl,  Flash, and Jane the Virgin is a huge upgrade from the older-skewing airing now in prime-time – and now run in pattern. Meanwhile, Chicago viewers will be treated to more sports over WGN in prime-time, which generally draw more ratings and revenue than the programming it is replacing.


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Fox announces 2016-17 lineup (Updated)

Fox-Network-logo-008Four new series in fall; the rest in midseason.

Editor’s Note: Fox made an important schedule change after the Upfronts took place, involving Pitch, Bones, and Prison Break. This article is being rewritten to reflect the changes. I also have some thoughts about Pitch. -T.H.

Fox released its 2016-17 programming schedule Monday morning in advance of its upfront presentation the following afternoon. Following a similar path NBC is taking, Fox is only premiering four series in fall and the rest in midseason.

Adaption is the key word for many of Fox’s new dramas: 24: Legacy, a Prison Break revival, Lethal Weapon and The Exorcist, the latter two debuting this fall and Legacy debuting right after the Super Bowl – the first time a new show is launching after the big game in several years.

Also debuting this fall is Pitch, about the first woman pitcher in the Major Leagues. This move was made on Friday after the upfront presentations took place, pushing Bones until midseason.

New midseason shows include Mick, APB, Kicking and Screaming, Prison Break, Shots Fired, and Star, a new drama from Empire creator Lee Daniels.

The Prison Break revival debuts on Tuesday nights next spring.

Last week, Fox canceled all of its freshman comedies, and at the last minute also canceled Houdini & Doyle. This is also the first season Fox is without American Idol.

Fall schedule: Tuesday night’s comedy block is being cut back to one hour with Brooklyn Nine-Nine leading off the evening, followed by long-in-the-tooth New Girl and the second season of Scream Queens. Wednesdays has the new Lethal Weapon leading into Empire, while Thursdays has Rosewood on a new day leading into new drama Pitch at a new time. Friday has the pairing of Hell’s Kitchen and the new Exorcist, based on the 1973 box-office smash of the same name. Sundays has a new animated/live-action series sandwiched between The Simpsons and Family Guy called Son of Zorn, as an animated character heads to suburbia.

Mondays and Saturdays (college football and MLB) remain unchanged.

The planned midseason schedule is too complex to explain; it contains many shows coming and going and others switching time slots. To see the midseason (and fall) schedules, click here. (Editor’s Note: will replace with another updated link when able.)

Fox officially announced its schedule at its upfront presentation, which was a show in itself. Fox took no prisoners, taking shots at CBS with Homer Simpson  joining in on the fun. There was even a photo of CBS head Les Moonves altered to make him look like Lex Luthor (or more appropriately, former CBS President Larry Tisch.)

The crowd of ad buyers (mostly in their 20s and 30s) cheered when 24: Legacy was announced, and the trailers for Son of Zorn and Pitch also had a positive reaction from the crowd. The cast of midseason entry Star performed, as did a few cast members of Empire.

The 2016-17 lineup is somewhat of a disappointment, though moving Pitch in for Bones at the last minute is a good move. Despite their much ballyhooed upfront presentation, Fox really doesn’t have much to brag about.

For one, those waiting for another season of The X-Files will have to wait until the 2017-18 season, as the principals behind the show are too busy with other projects, according to officials. This past season, X-Files was ranked second behind Empire in adults 18-49.

Keeping Empire in its Wednesday time slot is fine by yours truly, as moving it an hour earlier would cause concern given its content (in other words, it keeps the Parents Television Council quiet.) Star fills in during Empire’s hiatus – similar to what Agent Carter did when Agents Of Shield went on winter hiatus. How did that work out?

Pitch’s quick move to Thursday is positive – but keep in mind Baseball-themed series have struck out in the past – notably sitcoms Ball Four (1976) and Hardball (1994). Fox is counting on promotion during the MLB postseason (and a Cubs appearance) to boost Pitch – a move that makes sense.

Fridays have similar title premises – Hell’s Kitchen and The Exorcist, though you wouldn’t blame anyone if they were mistaken for show in the same genre.

Perhaps the most interesting show (the only one, actually) is midseason entry Shots Fired, whose premise – a racially motivated police shooting – is quite controversial. But tough topics are seldom ratings winners.

To see all of Fox’s new series trailers, click here.

This post originally appeared on May 17, 2016 before Fox made schedule adjustments on May 20.



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CW picks up “Supergirl” for 2016-17

The-CW-300x258The CW announces fifteen original shows; affiliation deal with Tribune Broadcasting is close

As you know by now, Supergirl is flying to a new network this fall – The CW.

The move highlighted CW’s 2016-17 schedule, its eleventh in existence. CW renewed (almost) all of its existing programming, save midseason entry Containment. However, some of those returning shows are being pushed to midseason as CW adds two new series: No Tomorrow and Frequency.

Same time, different channel: Supergirl switches from CBS to CW in the lead-off position on Mondays, and is also expected to crossover with other CW series in the DC Universe, noting the successful stunt earlier this year with The Flash. Supergirl leads into season three of Jane The Virgin.

Tuesdays features The Flash and No Tomorrow; Wednesdays has Arrow and Frequency; Thrusday has DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow paired with long-running Supernatural, on a new night. Finally, CW closes the week on Friday with The Vampire Diaries and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, airing on a new night and time.


Flying to the CW from CBS this fall.

New midseason enteries include Riverdale, a far darker series than portrayed in the Archie comics (for the extra mile, they could have set the series in the struggling south suburb of the same name);  other series slated for midseason include iZombie, The Originals, The 100, and Reign.


To see the complete 2016-17 schedule, click here. 

The CW upfront presentation started with a musical performance from some band I’ve never heard of, then a number from Girlfriend’s Rachel Bloom and Virgin’s Gina Rodriguez, introducing CW head Mark Pedowitz. Wasting little time, he introduced the stars of the network, including new arrival Marissa Benoist and says a major “crossover event” will take place in December involving all four DC shows. Trailers for No Tomorrow and Frequency were well-received, but the audience was stunned when the trailer for Riverdale was played. Holy moly.

As for the schedule, there is a concern from some quarters by adding Supergirl, CW would become “the superhero network” – a moniker CBS had in the late 1970’s when it had Incredible Hulk and Spider-Man on its schedule. But adding Supergirl is a smart move and keep in mind – DC has a lot going on when it comes to TV right now than arch-rival Marvel. CW has a lot of buzzed-about and critically-acclaimed shows on its schedule – something it didn’t have when the network debuted ten years ago. But ratings need to improve for a few shows (notably Jane The Virigin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.)

The CW’s upfront presentation preceded despite no reports of a new affiliation deal between the network and Tribune Broadcasting, its largest affiliate group and airs CW programming in the top three markets of New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. There didn’t seem to be a concern Thursday with ad buyers or CW execs. In fact, Deadline on Friday reported a deal between the two parties is near.

A poster on CRM’s message board stated Chicago CW affiliate WGN-TV did announce the new and returning shows on CW for next season on its morning newscast and Dean Richards spoke with two stars from a CW show.

Based on this information, there is reason to believe Tribune and CW would have a new deal or an extension of the old one likely be done by summer. Either way, CW is prepared to move ahead – with or without Tribune.


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CBS trots out 2016-17 schedule


It’s back to basics as CBS restores Monday comedy block

Last season, CBS did the unthinkable: the network axed its Monday night comedy block for three action-adventure series. On a night where Jackie Gleason, Lucille Ball, Gilligan,Amzing A M*A*S*H, Murphy Brown, Raymond, and Charlie Sheen once reigned, CBS was without a regularly scheduled sitcom on the night for the first time since 1949. In fact, NO comedy was scheduled on Monday on any network.

Next season, the laughs are back on CBS Mondays – with a vengeance.

The network revealed its 2016-17 schedule, and it showed some major changes on many nights of the week. CBS brings Kevin James back to its airwaves after a decade, and also adding Matt LeBlanc to its roster of stars. CBS is also rebooting former 1985-92 ABC drama McGyver.

Gone from the schedule is Supergirl – the Monday drama is now moving to The CW on the same night. Also gone is Rush Hour and Limitless, although there is a possibility the program may be picked up by another network. The Good Wife also ended its run but a spin-off of the show starring Christine Baranski is being picked up by CBS All-Access (more on All Access later.)

Also not on the fall schedule is The Amazing Race and Undercover Boss; both reality/competition series are slated to return in midseason.

CBS’ upfront presentation began with a performance based on the musical Hamilton by late-night host James Corden, followed by head honcho Les Moonves, who announced the Good Wife spin-off and new Star Trek series for CBS All Access. Kevin James, LeBlanc, and the cast of The Big Bang Theory were on stage, followed by Stephen Colbert. CBS’ newest late night talker didn’t waste time taking on Donald Trump (“The Amazing Racist”) and noted “2016 is a big year for comedy. And if trump wins, 2017 will be an even bigger year for tragedy.” Great Outdoors star Joel McHale made zingers of his own, regarding his time at NBC: “I can’t believe I am part of the CBS family now. It seem like only yesterday I would be [looking at] the ratings on ‘Community’ and the rest of afternoon [sending] death threats to the cast of The Big Bang Theory” and “It’s wonderful to be on a broadcast network that will advertise the show that I’m in.” Easy, Truth Squad Tad.

The 2016-17 schedule: Comedy is back on Monday with The Big Bang Theory paired up with Kevin Can Wait for the first few weeks of the season, then moves to Bang’s slot when Sheldon & Co. head back to Thursday in late October. When that happens, Man With a Plan with Matt LeBlanc debuts. The night is rounded out with 2 Broke Girls, Odd Couple, and Scorpion.

Tuesdays has NCIS, new series Bull, and NCIS: New Orleans in a new time period. Wednesdays feature Survivor with a Millennial vs. Gen X theme, followed by Criminal Minds and Code Block.

Thursdays has football for the first few weeks of the season, then is occupied by Big Bang, McHale’s new Great Outdoors sitcom, then Mom and Life in Pieces, and closing out with new drama Pure Genius.

Fridays has MacGyver, followed by the returning Hawaii Five-O and Blue Bloods. Sundays has 60 Minutes, with new time periods for NCIS: Los Angeles and Madam SecretaryElementary closes out the evening.

To see the complete 2016-17 season CBS lineup with midseason entries, click here. 

There is no doubt CBS wants to keep its position at the top of the throne – and what didn’t fit with the network is out. Restoring comedies on Mondays is a great move – never mess with tradition, even if the comedies aren’t as memorable as the classics I mentioned earlier. CBS’ Dramas are likely to continue to draw viewers, although its not the 18-49 crowd.

One notable trend missing from CBS this season they tried last year – superhero shows and single-cam comedies. No new programming from either genre is on CBS’ fall schedule with Life In Pieces the only single-cam left. Pieces and Odd Couple are creative weak links on the schedule, for sure – though critics will likely point out a few more.

As for McGyver… if Patty and Selma are happy with the revival, then there should be no problem – unless Sideshow Bob sneaks in and turns on the gas after the show.

Other parts of the schedule have been tweaked with several new shows helming new time periods – so, there is no reason to believe CBS would falter this season. Despite the ribbing from rivals, they are still “America’s Most Watched Network”. Although critics sometime wish it was another network .


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ABC overhauls lineup

abc_banner_bgrndThey’re no fools, ABC retools; ten new shows highlight 2016-17 schedule

As expected, ABC has overhauled its schedule for 2016-17, the first under new ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey.

Unlike NBC and Fox, who are introducing just three new shows onto their fall schedules and saving the rest for midseason, ABC is going full throttle, adding five new shows to their lineup. The biggest note is their commitment to comedy, restoring a full two-hour sitcom block on Tuesdays it abandoned years ago.

ABC Tuesday lineup featured some of television’s most popular and well-remembered shows, including Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Three’s Company, Taxi, Who’s The Boss, Roseanne, Home improvement, and Full House.

Mondays starts off with Dancing With The Stars as usual, followed by the new Hayley Atwell drama Conviction, about a political family. Tuesdays sees The Middle relocated from its longtime home and leads into Jenna Elfman’s new American Housewife. Fresh Off The Boat moves an hour later, followed by midseason entry The Real O’Neils, with Marvel’s Agents of Shield to cap off the night.

Wednesdays has The Goldbergs a half-hour earlier, paired up with new comedy Speechless, leading-in to Modern Family and Black-ish. The night is capped off with new Kiefer Sutherland drama Designated Survivor, which is already getting a lot of buzz.

Thursdays has Notorious sandwiched between a still potent Grey’s Anatomy and How To Get Away With Murder, with Scandal returning in midseason. With Fridays and Saturdays unchanged, Sundays shows Secrets And Lies in-between Once Upon A Time and Quantico, replaced in midseason with Time After Time.

Click here to see the 2016-17 fall schedule.

This is the first lineup under Channing Dugney’s watch, replacing Paul Lee as ABC Entertainment President last March. ABC is taking an aggressive tack by introducing several new shows and making schedule changes, addressing weak spots.

During the upfront presentation, there was a lot of boogin’ down with a Priyanka Chopra dance number and Jimmy Kimmel doing stand up. Kimmel, who recently inked a three-year renewal for his late-night talk show with ABC, rightfully poked fun at rival CBS, noting “CBS objects to the term ‘live’ because so many of their viewers aren’t.” (CBS seems to have a dead guy named Larry Tisch still running the network from the grave.)

On Twitter Tuesday, yours truly suggested Shield should move to Friday, giving its low ratings. However, Last Man Standing and Dr. Ken actually draw more viewers than Shield, so…yeah, that idea was dumb. Tuesday at 10 p.m. (9 p.m.CT) was the only other place to put Shield. Just be grateful I don’t program your network.

Also love the idea of ABC re-establishing a comedy block on Tuesday to go with its existing Wednesday one – similar to what it had in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s (in addition to TGIF.)

For ABC, there is nowhere to go but up for the network’s prime-time schedule. This is an encouraging start.

And for those of your wondering ABC having ten sitcoms on its schedule is NOT a record. In 1989, ABC had as many as 16 sitcoms on its fall schedule.




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NBC unveils 2016-17 schedule

NBC Olympics logoOnly three new shows on fall schedule; Thursday Night Football to give another big boost

NBC released its new 2016-17 schedule to the public Sunday morning and to advertisers at its upfront presentation Monday.

Much like last year, the network is withholding the bulk of its new series until midseason, despite having an advantage of the Summer Olympics in Rio in August, barring a major catastrophe taking place (maybe not a well-thought out venue.) Fifteen series are scheduled to debut next season, but only three shows premiere this fall – two dramas, and only one comedy.

Mondays feature a new drama airing after The Voice called Timeless from Eric Kripke and Shawn Ryan, which has a criminal stealing a time machine so he can go back in time and alter events. Tuesdays features another new drama, This is Us, sandwiched between The Voice and Chicago Fire.

Wednesdays starts off with a relocated Blindspot, followed by the ageless Law & Order: SVU, and Chicago P.D.

Comedy returns to Thursday with the second season of Superstore and new comedy The Good Place, featuring the return of Ted Danson to NBC after Cheers exited over 20 years ago. Chicago Med relocates here as the lead-in to The Blacklist. Keep in mind the Thursday night schedule is going to be interrupted for football late into the fall.

Friday nights’ schedule consists of Caught On Camera With Nick Cannon, Grimm, and Dateline NBC.

Sundays remains unchanged, of course with Sunday Night Football. Off-season Sunday programming will be announced at a later date, although it’s a good bet Little Big Shots will be back.

To see the entire schedule and read complete program descriptions, click here. 

NBC is keeping the status quo, making minimal changes as the network finally hit its stride after several years in the ratings basement in the Jeff Zucker era. Some people would say NBC scheduling only three series this fall is lazy; it is actually smart when nothing really needs fixing.

As for the new shows this fall, Timeless is a show facing a major burnout similar to Revolution – the premise seems limited to say the least. If you’re into family dramas, This is Us is for you. NBC not only has two new comedies on its fall schedule, it has only two comedies period, signaling NBC may not be the place for laughs this year. Many of its new comedies are midseason replacements, mere afterthoughts basically. One signal of this is the renewal of The Carmichael Show – after haggling with the studio who produces it, NBC renewed the multi-cam sitcom for only thirteen episodes for a third season – a far cry from the days when four seasons would get you 22-26 episodes each and 100 episodes for syndication afterward. It goes to show you how far the sitcom has fallen in stature.

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Bubble Bustin’ Friday: NBC Cancels shows

Six NBC shows to end.

It seems the TV Gods were more kind on Friday than they were in Thursday: only five shows canceled – all from one network, as the news centered more on pilot pickups and renewals than cancellations.

NBC picked up pilots-to-order from Marlon Wayans (with a show loosely based on his life) and Tina Fey’s new comedy Great News, featuring a woman who joins her daughter at the TV station she works.

In addition to This is Us and Chicago Justice (made Thursday), other pickups include dramas Midnight, Texas; and Timeless, about…what else, time-traveling?

Meanwhile, NBC on Friday gave pink slips to Crowded, Game Of Silence, Heartbeat, Telenovela and Undateable. Excluding Undateable, these were mid-season series.

NBC also canceled The Mysteries Of Laura on Saturday after two seasons.

At other networks meanwhile, Fox renewed Sleepy Hollow for a fourth season, despite co-star Nicole Beharie quitting the show. To no one’s surprise, ABC renewed Last Man Standing for a sixth season given its Friday night companion show (Dr. Ken) was also picked up.

NBC will release its fall schedule on Sunday ahead of its upfront presentation on Monday; the other networks follow suit in the coming days.

* On another note, I would like to take issue with many TV reporters and bloggers using the terms “Carnage”, “bloodbath”, and “bloodshed” when describing the number of canceled TV shows on Thursday. The terms seem insensitive given how many parts of Chicago are plagued with gun violence and those who are affected by it. Remember – these are TV shows, not human beings. No real lives are lost.

Back in 2008, yours truly used a similar headline to describe layoffs at a local radio station, forgetting there was a mass shooting at Northern Illinois University two weeks earlier. The headline was changed.

On the same day ten shows were canceled, a principal figure of CNN’s low-rated and much-criticized documentary Chicagoland – a graduate from Fenger High School, was shot to death in the Far South Side’s West Pullman neighborhood. While there’s always a possibility any of these shows can be “rebooted”, there is no “reboot” for this person, or many others who lost their lives on the streets of Chicago. While it was a tough day for some television people, it doesn’t compare to the loss of life we are seeing in Chicago on a daily basis.

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Bubble Bustin’ Thursday – nets cancel shows

bubble burst

Networks pull plug on underperforming shows.

Ten shows axed; Supergirl changes networks

For the last several years, the major networks have made decisions on “bubble shows” on the Thursday and Friday before the upfronts – thus, “Bubble Bustin’ Thursday” and “Bubble Bustin’ Friday”.

These two days are brutal for the prime-time TV business; decisions are made on what pilots are picked up and what shows are canceled with a lot of jobs on the line.

And this year is no exception.

Thursday afternoon saw the first show axed, the ill-fated CSI: Cyber after two seasons (read my review here.)

And despite renewing all of their freshman shows for next season, CW did cut mid-season entry Containment.

But the biggest story of the day is the relocation of Supergirl from CBS to CW.

As speculated, Supergirl is moving as the producers are looking to cut costs. With the network move, CBS gives up its stake in the series, with Warner Bros. gaining full production rights. Also, the show is expected to relocate to Vancouver from Los Angeles as showrunner Greg Berlanti already has several shows in production in the Canadian city – the most since Stephen J. Cannell did in his heyday.

With Supergirl heading off of CBS’ Monday night lineup, look for the network to reinstate comedies. When Supergirl was slotted on Monday nights, it marked the first time a drama lead off the night since 1985.

Meanwhile, ABC canceled five shows: Castle (after eight seasons); Nashville (after four); Agent Carter (after two), Gavalant (after two)and freshman entry The Muppets (a T Dog TV Hall Of Shame inductee.)

ABC also opted not to pick up Marvel’s Most Wanted, a spin-off of Agents of SHIELD – no surprise given its parent show continues to be a ratings, if not creative disappointment.

Over at Fox, the network plucked all of its freshman comedies: Grandfathered, Grinder, Barrett Cooper, and Bordertown, an animated series yours truly has never seen any network promotion of.

For every show getting canceled, there were several series pickups.

The news wasn’t all that bad for former Carter star Hayley Atwell as she gets to star in new drama Conviction from ABC. The network also picked up Pittsburgh-shot pilot Downward Dog, drama Time After Time from Dawson’s Creek producer Kevin Williamson, and comedy Notorious featuring Jenna Elfman. ABC renewed The Real O’Neals, The Catch, Dr. Ken, and American Crime for another season.

NBC gave a firm go to Dick Wolf’s fourth Chicago series, Chicago Justice to bow this fall. At this point, Wolf might became our town’s biggest employer. NBC also ordered drama This Is Us to series.

And CW picked up Riverdale to series; it’s an re-imaging of Archie and the gang’s hometown (and not the struggling south suburb of the same name.)


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The 2015-16 season in a nutshell

"Mr. Robot". (USA)

“Mr. Robot”. (USA)

With the upfronts a week away, it’s time to take a look at what was hot and what was not in the 2015-16 television season.

This roundup not only is about primetime broadcast TV, but other programming as well from local news to local sports.

These are not listed in any particular order.


– Cable dramas. While the news has been about cutting cords, cable dramas Mr. Robot (USA) and American Crime Story: O.J. Simpson (FX) have rewritten the rules an introduced a new way of storytelling, making them the most acclaimed shows of the season. Hope the Primetime Emmy voters are watching.

– Cubs. (and White Sox, too!) As if the networks have enough to worry about: the Chicago Cubs hot start and continued success could drain viewers from the broadcast and cable networks’ summer programming in Chicago, the nation’s third largest market. On the other hand, the Cubs’ TV (and radio) partners will be benefiting all season long. And who has the second-best record in baseball after the Cubs? The Chicago White Sox, whose ratings are almost certain to go up from last year, which weren’t much. Also credit a major revamp of their TV broadcasts, with home-game announcer Jason Benetti a HUGE upgrade over Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, baseball announcing’s answer to The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper. Or more appropriately, Urkel.

– Coverage of the LaQuan McDonald case. Led by Carol Marin, WMAQ-TV won a Peabody Award for their investigation into the LaQuan McDonald case, where a black teenager was shot and killed by Chicago Police in October 2014, with video of the incident not being released to the public until November 2015. Marin and her team uncovered information the city and Mayor Rahm Emanuel were trying to hide. The fallout from the video – centered on race, politics, policing, protests, and economic disparity, created drama no scripted or reality program could match.

– Live With Kelly And Michael. Speaking of drama, Michael Strahan’s decision to leave his namesake show for work full-time for ABC’s Good Morning America, took everyone by surprise – even co-host Kelly Ripa, which touched off a debate on how women are treated in the workplace and how “synergy” between entities of the same company doesn’t always come off smoothly. Ratings as you might have guessed, have gone through the roof.

– Daredevil and Jessica Jones. From Marvel and Netflix, two completely original dramas freed from the constraints of broadcast and even cable TV. As far as Jessica Jones is concerned, Krysten Ritter’s portrayal of the title character is spot-on excellent and certainly Emmy worthy. Move over cable: you no longer have a monopoly on quality dramas.


– The broadcast networks’ primetime schedules. The 2015-16 season was absolutely one to forget for the major networks. No major hits this year, and ratings are down for most shows – especially among millennials.

– The CW and Tribune. With one week to go before the upfronts, there is still NO affiliation renewal deal between the Tribune Broadcasting (owners of WGN-TV in Chicago) and CW. At this point, even the Illinois budget impasse between Gov. Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan could be resolved sooner.

– Empire. Last year, yours truly couldn’t wait to watch the latest episode of Empire, which seemed at the top of its game. Now, yours truly isn’t really eager to watch, wondering if I’ll make it through the whole season as Empire hasn’t really been Must-See TV lately. And we’re still waiting to see who pushed whom down the stairs. Did Tim Kring suddenly become showrunner or something?

– Vinyl. Mick Jagger pitched a show about a record company based in the 1970’s to HBO, featuring drug use, swearing, yelling, screaming, throwing things, more drug use, more yelling and screaming, and bland musical performances out of nowhere. It’s not TV. It’s an unwatchable mess.

– The Bulls and Blackhawks. Those “hot winter nights” never materialized as the defending Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks hobbled into the playoffs only to get ousted by the St. Louis Blues in the first-round while the Chicago Bulls hobbled all season and failed to make the playoffs. As a result, ratings were down for both from a year ago.

– The return of The X-Files. While yours truly generally liked the revival, others… didn’t. And I mean really didn’t. Don’t spinoff Truth Squad with Tad O’ Malley just yet. Oh, it has a website? A REAL Website? Good Grief.

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T Dog’s Media Notepad: “Supergirl” could fly to CW

supg_thm_16.9_1920x1080With the upfronts a little over a week away, reports are surfacing on not if Supergirl is coming back next season but where: The Wrap is reporting Warner Bros. Television is discussing a plan to move the freshman drama from CBS to The CW next year, where CBS and Warner Bros. have a 50/50 interest. There are concerns if the deal goes through, there would be severe budget cuts – CBS paid $3 million per episode for Supergirl this season, and The CW isn’t known for big-budget dramas, though the  show would be a perfect fit with Arrow and The Flash, the former crossed over with Supergirl earlier this season. No

Another factor is room: CW renewed all of its shows for next season, and finding room for Supergirl could be tough. And no matter what network (or platform) the show lands, Supergirl may relocate production from Los Angeles to Vancouver in a budget-cutting move.

And you also have to consider CW and Tribune have yet to agree on an affiliation deal – the current pact expires in three months.

Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, CBS announced it has renewed Criminal Minds for a twelfth season and Fox has picked up Family Guy for another year as part of an overall deal with its creator Seth MacFarlane, who is planning to create, write, and star in a untitled sci-fi dramedy scheduled to launch in the 2017-18 season. Not part of that deal however, is animated sitcom Bordertown, which is likely to end after one season.

Chicago_BlackhawksAt least the Blackhawks won something…. Game 7 of the first-round playoff between Chicago and the St. Louis Blues broke a viewership record for CSN Chicago on April 26, drawing a whopping 19 household live-plus- same day rating, peaking at a 23.9 at 10:00 p.m., when Chicago’s local stations are airing their local newscasts. In the adults 25-54 demo, the game drew a 15.8 rating.

The numbers gave CSN a first-place finish for the entire evening, topping prime-time programming on the big five broadcast networks and even topped dominant game shows Wheel Of Fortune and Jeopardy.

The game also scored nationally, drawing 1.35 million for NBCSN, the most viewers for a first-round playoff game in the network’s history, peaking at 2 million viewers at 11 p.m.ET (NBCSN’s coverage was blacked out in Chicago and St. Louis, where the game aired on Fox Sports Midwest. The game in St. Louis drew a 19.6 rating.)

Regardless of whether the Blackhawks won or lost, all playoff games from the second-round forward are exclusive to NBC and/or NBCSN. Unfortunately for them, one of the NHL’s strongest draws is now out of the playoffs with the Game 7 loss.

Tribune-publishing-logoThe ongoing saga at Tribune Publishing and its pretend mogul Michael Ferro continues: Tribune Publishing has rejected an offer by Gannett to buy the company as the Trib’s shareholders voted down the plan. Instead, Ferro is envisioning a plan to became a megabrand on the west coast, where in addition to the Chicago Tribune, Ferro also controls the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune. Ferro also wants to open seven international news bureaus, which sounds expensive at a time when newspaper companies are losing money.

Through his ownership of Merrick Media, the former owner of the Sun-Times bought a controlling stake in Tribune Publishing, owners of the Chicago Tribune. Since his arrival, Ferro transferred his Splash Magazine from the Sun-Times to the Tribune.

Second largest-shareholder OakTree Capital is urging Ferro to at least meet with Gannett over the offer, and he be wise to do so. But one thinks it’ll be a matter of time before Ferro

Remember the T Dog Media TV Hall Of Shame? It’s been awhile since it’s been updated – December 2014 to be exact. But we have some new shows to induct! And they are:

The Millers (CBS, 2013-15) Hapless sitcom with Will Arnett as a newscaster who deals with his now-divorced parents who drive him crazy. Cue the laugh track.

FABLife (Syndicated, 2015-16) Tyra Banks in a panel daytime talk show who, among others included Chrissy Teigen and a “YouTube star”. Seeing this was a bad idea from the start, Banks left the show two months into its run.

First Take (ESPN 2, 2007-). Since 2012, this pathetic daytime talk show featured sports “columnists” Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith yelling at one another and making idiotic comments.

SexBox (We, 2015). Um, WTF is this? A couple bang each other in a “box” on stage and tell about their “experience” to a psychologist in front of a studio audience in hopes to improve their “relationship”? Are you kidding me? Perhaps the most odious concept ever developed for TV, SexBox lasted just five episodes, five more than necessary.

Truth Be Told (NBC, 2015). Truth be told: this sitcom sucked.

Wicked City (ABC, 2015). A serial killer prays upon women in Los Angeles in 1982. The concept was dated and stamped in 1969, telling you how stale this crap is.

To see the complete list of horrid, stenchable television, click here.




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Think Tank Express: Lucas with the lid off: Lakefront plan derails


Special interest group hijacks and derails plan – a situation we’re all too familiar with in the media business

The Lakefront project Star Wars creator George Lucas wanted to build has been zapped by something more sinister than Darth Vader: An organization who claims they serve the “public interest”.

On Tuesday, Lucas was dealt a blow to build his new Lucas Museum of Narrative Art on the Lakefront after Friends Of The Parks, an organization dedicated to protecting land on Chicago’s lakefront, said they would oppose any kind of attempt to build Lucas’ museum on it – even if it’s the land now occupied by McCormick Place East, which opened in 1971 after the original burned down four years prior. The original plan to build the museum South of Soldier Field – in a parking lot – was sacked by Parks and upheld in a recent federal lawsuit.

The Lucas museum – which would contain art, drawings, memorabilia, and other artifacts, would have provided millions of dollars of revenue for the City, over 1,000 new jobs, and restore much-needed prestige for Chicago. The museum had the support of Chicago community leaders, including the Rev. Michael Pflager and Rev. Jesse Jackson. But with Parks’ strong opposition, Lucas now may move the project to another city.

Chicago native Mellody Hobson, who is married to Lucas and is chairman of Ariel Investments, blasted the Parks stance, stating “Friends of the Parks has proven itself to be no friend of Chicago” according to the Chicago Tribune. “As an African-American who has spent my entire life in this city I love, it saddens me that young black and brown children will be denied the chance to benefit from what this museum will offer.”

Reaction to the news on social media was mostly negative, with most blaming Friends Of The Parks.

For TV fans, the meddling from these type of organizations are all too familiar. Doesn’t this remind you of the antics of the Parents Television Council? This group came to prominence after the “wardrobe malfunction” at halftime of Super Bowl XXXVIII. , leading the FCC to increase the fine for indecent content ten-fold. Last year, the commission fined CBS affiliate WDBJ in Roanoke, Va. $325,000 for a news report about a porn star wanting to join a volunteer fire department in a nearby suburb. The station accidentally aired a video clip of a website showing someone “doing the stroke”. The PTC completely missed the point of the story, in the name of “protecting children”. How many children do you know even watch local news? Local stations would now be afraid to touch a story of a similar nature, fueling the spectre of censorship.

The PTC has also sparred with “Sons of Anarchy” creator Kurt Sutter, Seth MacFarlane, and other figures in front of and behind the camera in the name of saying the airwaves “belong to the public” – exactly the same kind of rhetoric Friends Of The Parks is using.

So what really belongs to the public? The Lakefront? The airwaves? Both of these organizations act like they own them, under the guise of “public interest”.

As for Frauds Of The Parks, they get what they wanted: instead of a museum that would generate jobs for young people and give Chicago serious arts cred, the luscious “parkland” they claim to be protecting can continue to be an empty parcel of land where kids can hang out and smoke weed all day. I guess that was the intent of the lawsuit, right?

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San Diego Comic-Con gears up

be652db1-cchq-3d-logo-rgb-finaltmyellow_07804z07804z000000SyFy to broadcast from Comic-Con; new SVOD platform with Lionsgate ramps up

The last few years, television coverage from San Diego’s Comic-Con has been hard to come by. But this year, that’s going to change.

Recently, SyFy announced it would be broadcasting live from the 47th annual pop culture celebration, which runs from July 21-24. The cable net coverage titled Syfy presents live from Comic-Con begins July 21 at 8 p.m./ET (7 p.m. CT) for three consecutive nights, through the 23rd. Broadcast straight from the convention, SyFy’s coverage plans to bring viewers breaking news, celebrity guests, exclusive clips from upcoming movies, audience interaction and a lot more (and hopefully, no Wil Wheaton.)

With SyFy airing coverage of the pop-culture extravaganza, there is no doubt there will be several tie-ins to Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens. The latest flick in the tired franchise is due to premiere July 31 a week after Comic-Con concludes (yes, get used to seeing a lot of Tara Reid.)

This marks a return of television coverage to the event in a few years. G4’s Attack Of The Show broadcast live from Comic-Con in the late 2000’s, but coverage was later scaled back and eliminated.

SyFy also plans to celebrate Comic-Con with a Seven Days of Comic-Con celebration, across its linear, online, and social media platforms, starting on July 17.

Both SyFy and G4 are owned by NBCUniversal; Attack Of The Show was canceled in early 2013; G4 suspended operations at the end of 2014.

But what’s that? You need more? Well, Comic-Con International and Lionsgaate have a deal for you. Both are teaming up to launch a rather ambitious new subscription video on-demand service (SVOD) called Comic-Con HQ.

The service plans to offer original scripted and unscripted programming; a library of genre-specific film and off-network programming; and new and archived convention panels. Kevin Perierra of Attack Of The Show has been tapped to develop a nightly magazine show devoted to pop culture similar to Attack and a late-night talk show strip. Adam Sessler (another G4 alum) is developing and producing programs based on science, gaming, and comics, including a new interview series.

One show in development is a weekly roundtable show on movies, a format pioneered by Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert through their various TV shows. The genre has been missing from television since PBS’ Ebert Presents At The Movies (hosted by Christy Lemire and Igor Vishnevetsky) ended production at the end of 2011, entering a hiatus it would never come out of. Ebert died in 2013.

There are also plans to stream some programming from San Diego Comic-Con, although it is unlikely they’ll live stream panels. However, archived panels are being offered, and Comic-Con also plans to stream the Masquerade and Will Eisner awards for the first time.

Comic-Con HQ test-launches as a free beta on May 7 with a full launch sometime in June. Pricing of the new service has not been set. The service plans to be available through browsers and iOS/Android devices and soon roll out on Roku, Apple TV, XBox One, and PS4 machines.

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T Dog’s Think Tank: Rodents in the Mouse House



Disney’s “Live” blunder the latest in management woes

To understand the brouhaha over Kelly Ripa, Michael Strahan, and ABC executives’ handling of this Live crisis, you have to go back 20 years.

In 1995, the financial interest and syndication rules – or fin-syn as it was called – expired after 25 years, once again letting the major broadcast networks – ABC, CBS, and NBC, back into the syndication business. In 1970, the FCC came up with the rules to bar the three networks from syndicating their own shows and profiting off them – 90 percent of the network programming on television at the time were controlled by the Big Three.

In 1996 – a year after the rules expired, The Walt Disney Co. bought Capital Cities Communications, who owned ABC, ESPN, and other properties.

Live distributor Buena Vista Television and ABC-owned WABC-TV, who produced the show – then known as Live With Regis & Kathie Lee – suddenly became corporate cousins. And it wasn’t long before ABC brass took over the distributor, changing the name to Disney-ABC Domestic Television. Soon, network executives were running the syndication company – something they absolutely knew nothing about. If you followed the business like I have over the years, Disney executives mishandling a crisis isn’t new.

In 2008, Disney fired At The Movies co-host Richard Roeper and failed to reach a contract renewal with Roger Ebert, who was sidelined with illness for two years prior (Ebert died in 2013.) Ebert, along with the late Gene Siskel, have hosted their movie-review show for Buena Vista since 1986. At an attempt to revamp the show with a more “Hollywood” focus, Disney replaced Ebert and Roeper with two “Bens”: Ben Mankiewicz and Ben Lyons. The move dismayed fans and ratings dropped, and the next season, brought back Ebert fill-in host Michael Phillips and hired A.O. Scott to take their place. Continued low ratings and a changing weekend programming marketplace sacked At The Movies in 2010.

And of course, who could forget all the money Disney-ABC threw at Katie Couric to host a syndicated talk show strip. In a rather unusual move, ABC gave back the 3 p.m. (ET) slot time slot to the affiliates so they can run Katie, with the thinking the network would make more money if it were syndicated rather than cleared on the network.

Ratings were disappointing, and Katie was mercifully canceled after two years. To make room for Katie, ABC shook up its daytime lineup and canceled long-running soap operas All My Children and One Life To Live, angering its long-time fans.

Recently, Disney-ABC launched daytime talkshow The FABLife, with Tyra Banks as host and executive producer. But Banks quit the critically-panned show two months into its run and FABLife was canceled after four months.

And so it comes as no surprise Disney execs would try to screw up the success of their only successful first-run syndicated strip they have on the air, Live With Kelly and Michael. Ratings for Good Morning America were slipping against NBC’s Today, so they decided to make Strahan’s part-time gig at ABC permanent, with Live as the sacrificial lamb. And this shows you how little respect first-run syndication gets – despite Live’s successful 28-year track record.

Certainly, if Live is a priority for Disney as their executives told Ripa it was, then they’re not showing it.

So what does this mean? Yet another on-air search for Kelly Ripa’s co-host. And really, you can’t blame Ripa for being upset. You’ve heard of The Chicago Way, right? Welcome to The Disney Way.

And the ineptitude is not limited to the Mouse House. Since the rules expired, NBC merged with Universal, and later being bought by Comcast. After being spun-off some 28 years earlier by CBS, a much bulked-up Viacom bought the Tiffany network in 1999 (though both split in December 2005.) The expiration of the rules set the stage for media consolidation in the industry from syndicators to studios to station groups amid increasing choices for viewers. In the process, people with passion for television were replaced with clueless dipshit bean counters who are among the dumbest people on the planet.

As a result, we’ve seen more and more odious managerial decisions. And by trying to pull one over Kelly Ripa, do you think these execs care about the viewers – older female viewers, especially?

And yet, Ripa outsmarted them by taking a week off and laying low. Can we get her to run for mayor of Chicago in 2019? If she can deal successfully with these guys, just think what she can do with Illinois politicians, who are cut from the same cloth.

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