T Dog’s Media Notepad: B’s rule

Jonathan Toews greet fans before Thursday’s game at the United Center. (NHL.com)

News on Blackhawks; Bob’s Burgers, and Bethenny Frankel. Oh, and the soda tax is dead.

Are you ready for some hockey? Chicagoans sure are. Thursday night’s home opener against the Stanley Cup-defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins drew a eye-opening 5.1 Nielsen household rating for the newly renamed NBC Sports Chicago channel (formerly CSN Chicago). The number is impressive given the amount of competition in the Chicago market Thursday, with football on CBS, Will & Grace on NBC, Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy on ABC and playoff baseball on FS1 (Yankees-Indians.)

The game capped off a full day of coverage for the NBC-owned regional sports network, which included a red carpet ceremony outside of the United Center, an extensive pre-game and postgame show. In addition, a “Breakfast With The Blackhawks” event was streamed by the channel on Facebook Live.

And the final you ask? The Hawks thrashed the Penguins 10-1 to the delight of 20,000+ happy humans (as sidelined Hawks TV commentator Eddie Olczyk would say) at the United Center and the viewers at home. The real test comes as several Hawks games will be up against Cubs postseason games.

As for the rest of the competition nationally, Will & Grace slipped week-to-week to a 2.0 adults 18-49 rating, but remained the top entertainment program of the evening, while Scandal fell hard for ABC (1.4) and The Orville slid even further to a 0.9. The Patriots-Buccaneers game on CBS won the night in total viewers and 18-49.

With the repeal of the Cook County Soda tax all but a certainty, those annoying ads – both pro and con – are finally being taken off the air much to the delight of Chicago television viewers and radio listeners everywhere. The momentum shift came when Cook County commissioner John Daley changed his position on the tax, and several others followed. Set for repeal on Tuesday, the unpopular tax hurt businesses in Cook County and sent people out to collar counties (such as Will or DuPage) or Indiana to do their shopping. The tax was even a point of contention for WFLD-TV GM Dennis Welsh, who did an editorial on it.

The campaign – fueled by outside interests on both sides – filled Chicago airwaves for weeks – unusual for a non-election year. The pro-tax side certainly bought more airtime – more than $4 million fueled by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg according to reports.

The ads – especially those funded by Bloomberg – appeared mainly on local news and some syndicated programming. But in the last few days, the commercials popped up in more venues, including sporting events, Empire, YouTube, Hulu, and even online – in one case along a Chicago Tribune story about the soda tax.

The saturation proves the system is broken – thanks to the Supreme Court ruling a few years back, lifting caps off political advertising. All this money for these campaigns could have gone to help victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico (more on that below.) Instead, the pro-soda tax campaign – only meant to raise revenue for Cook County in the guise of “saving children” – and the anti-tax one went to fill local media outlets’ coffers – many of them already receiving loads of money from cable and satellite companies in the form of retransmission consent.

As I said before, stations are more than happy to take the cash from these special interest groups, even if it means driving viewers away – especially younger ones – to alternative platforms such as streaming and DVR use. That’s what we call “cutting off your nose in spite of your face.”

Grab those bunny ears because Bob’s Burgers is finally headed to the big screen: 21st Century Fox announced this week the quirky animated comedy is headed to a movie theater near you on July 17, 2020. No storyline or plot has been announced.

Show creator Loren Bouchard said: “We’re thrilled to be invited to bring “Bob’s Burgers” to the big screen. We know the movie has to scratch every itch the fans of the show have ever had, but it also has to work for all the good people who’ve never seen the show. We also know it has to fill every inch of the screen with the colors and the sounds and the ever so slightly greasy texture of the world of Bob’s – but most of all it has to take our characters on an epic adventure. In other words, it has to be the best movie ever made. But no pressure, right?!”

Assuming the series continues on Fox (a given since ratings are stable – the program’s season premiere earned a 1.3 adult 18-49 ratings) – and excluding kids fare, Bob’s Burgers would join The Simpsons, The X-Files, South Park, and Aqua Teen Hunger Force as active TV shows at the same time a full-length theatrical was released. The Flintstones had a theatrical release in 1966 with The Man Called Flintstone, but came only after the series concluded its run on ABC.

Bob’s Burgers premiered on January 9, 2011 and became a cult hit and a reliable performer for Adult Swim and in weekend syndication (rights are held locally by WCIU, who airs it Saturdays at 10 p.m.) The cast had a live touring show, stopping at the Chicago Theater in 2015 (a show yours truly attended.)

Recently, Bob’s Burgers won an Emmy for Outstanding Animated Series.

Courtesy Margie Arbizo, Angel Arroyo JR and Nicole Duston (Us Magazine)

Finally, a tip of the top hat to former Real Housewives star, Skinnygirl creator, and talk show host Bethenny Frankel on her efforts to aid citizens of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria slammed into the U.S. territory recently, leaving the island with no food, no water, and no electricity – creating a huge humanitarian crisis. Get this: Frankel charted four planes of supplies to help with relief. In addition, her organization raised hundred of thousands of dollars for hurricane relief through her charity. Private entities and individual citizens have stepped up efforts while the Trump administration has failed to do so as the “President” was more interested in sparring with the mayor of San Juan and criticizing citizens for “their lack of effort”.

Other celebs stepping up efforts include Jennifer Lopez, Rosie Perez (both of Puerto Rican decent), Chicago’s Chance The Rapper, Pitbull, Jay-Z, and Dallas Mavericks owner and Shark Tank star Mark Cuban. Other efforts included one by CBS Chicago, who held a telethon Thursday with proceeds going to the Red Cross, raising more than $4 million for hurricane relief.

Yes, the failure of her talk show has been documented on this blog (rather cruelly)  sometime back. But give credit where credit is due for Frankel and others stepping up where others.. i.e. the White House – have failed. Also notable is she has stepped up – as a former talk show host – more so than another former talk show host, one who used to call Chicago her home and has even more resources than Frankel does.

So how about it, Oprah?