Sports Talk with Team Coco and the Chin

Conan, Leno, and NBC. This is the entertainment debacle spotlighted in the news. No Lindsey Lohan weight loss watch or Disney teen actress sex scandal can bump this story off the “lite” news cycle. It has been examined from every angle – the straight forward news angle, the industry angle, and the fan angle- and whenever something becomes the subject of this much analysis it invariably eventually falls into sports metaphors, a nice, concise way to explain the most complicated situations in terms of something a good number of Americans know better than the constitution or basic nutrition.

NBC is like the Detroit Lions

NBC has fallen into last place among the major networks overall. The last round of television ratings from Neilson, released on Zap 2 It, has just three NBC programs in the Top 20. Three is a terrible number and that situation gets even worse when it is revealed that the three programs were all NFL Playoffs related. The television season numbers are just as bad, with football carrying the load (what happens once football is over?).

The Detroit Lions are just as bad in sports terms. They are in the last place in the NFC North and only have a glimmer of hope. Football experts are as fond of Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson, just as television critics are of the NBC Thursday night comedy lineup, but this high praise is not going to pull this network out of the gutter any time soon.

To make things worse, the Jay Leno experiment has failed at the 10:00 p.m. spot, failing to beat the CBS CSI dramas. This is a blow as damaging as a busted first round draft pick in the NFL. Now the network has to rebuild and re-strategize. They have to find five more hours of television to put on the air after the 2010 Winter Olympics (which has reportedly already lost $200 million).

Unfortunately, there is no draft to help this network out. Sure Jeff Zucker can try and recruit some talented television writers and show writers, but who wants to work for a guy worried more about the bottom line than the quality of the content? This network has almost no hope of ending their last place finishes and seems to be well on its way to another 0-16 season.

Jeff Zucker is like a General Manager with no foresight

Many people know Jeff Zucker as the President and CEO of NBC Universal, but not many people know his background. He began as a researcher for NBC in 1986 and became a field producer for the Today Show in 1989. By 1992 he was an executive producer of the Today Show, which dominated early morning news programming during his tenure. In 2000, after the success with the Today Show, he became the NBC Entertainment president.

This is where Zucker’s troubles begin. The Wikipedia page for Jeff Zucker hails him as a hero, keeping NBC “ahead of the pack.” There is a little box above that section noting that this section’s neutrality has been disputed. The reason is simple. He brought in reality television, kept shows like Friends going into the tenth season, and ordered more versions of Law and Order, an already hit franchise.

These moves kept NBC on top of the ratings until 2003, when the bottom of the boat fell out. He kept old television franchises and replaced scripted shows with cheaper reality shows. Once the franchises ended and the reality shows lost there appeal the network had nothing ready in the wings to fill the gap. There were holes throughout the lineup and the solution was “supersized” hit shows that extended the 30-minute format.

The network, as a team, did not have the talent and was asking too much of the stars they did have. Suddenly, the network that once dominated the ratings and the 18-49 market fell to last place once Zucker was promoted to President of NBC Entertainment’s News & Cable Group in 2003.

From there Zucker became the President of NBC Television Group in 2004, and then the CEO of NBC in 2005. His last promotion elevated him to the position of President and CEO of NBC Universal in 2007. All these promotions came as the network continued to struggle in the ratings. He has continued to try and find cheap ways to compete, but has failed to do so. His Jay Leno experiment is perhaps the last greatest example of this failure.

I’d compare him to the New York Yankees, but they manage to continue winning while sacrificing the farm system. At this time I am at a loss for a comparable GM or team. Most teams that go for broke and fail try and start over by throwing money at the problem. They try and win again since the best way to make money is to put a good team on the floor and win. The best example here would have to a team that just came out of a great era and then suddenly tried to clean house to lower the bottom line to sell the team.

The question is who would want to buy a team that just sacrificed years of being competitive for short term business? The answer is Comcast.

Conan O’Brien is like the San Diego Chargers

Let us travel back to February 2009. Fans of the Late Night with Conan O’Brien were lamenting that Conan’s move to the Tonight Show would be an end to the kind of comedy that made him so popular. They, or we since I am a Conan fan, were afraid that he would stop taking the risks that made us enjoy his show so much.

For those who did not watch Conan, he took risks often. Random characters and skits would succeed, like the masturbating bear or “In the Year 2000”, but many bits have failed and have since been completely forgotten. His show and his brand of late night comedy were basically hit or miss, much like the San Diego Chargers down field passing offense.

Once he moved to the Tonight Show we saw some skits and he took a few chances, but he dialed his comedy down and became something that was not himself. The fear is that his style would not play with Middle America, which is actually a weird way of saying that his comedy would not play with Middle-Aged America. Once he began playing more conservatively his ratings dropped. He, like the Chargers, struggles to play conservatively. It is simply not his game.

Now, as he plays out his last few shows with the Tonight Show, he has returned to his manic, self deprecating comedic form. Conan is willing to try just about any bit he thinks is funny. This return to his comedy roots and the attention fueled by controversy has given him a huge 50-percent ratings bump, according to MSNBC.

The point is that Conan is like the Chargers. They take big chances down the field and are out their best when they play this way. The Chargers recently lost in the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs, and this may be an unintended apt description of the Conan in late night prime time. Perhaps he can never win this way. Perhaps he is not going to be first in the ratings at the 11:35 p.m. ET time spot because he cannot play a conservative game.

Then again, the Indianapolis Colts played the same way offensively and they won the Super Bowl in 2005. (In this case the difference is the defense and in this contrived metaphor Conan’s lawyers are like the Chargers defense, leaving a huge hole in the contract that did not guarantee the time spot and giving NBC an in to take his show away from him.).

Jay Leno’s Tonight Show is like the San Antonio Spurs

I am not a fan of Jay Leno, but I cannot argue with his success. This makes him like the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs consistently put together winning teams that have won at least 60 percent of their regular season games since the 1997-98 season.

The biggest difference between these two teams is that Leno’s version of winning is dominating the television ratings as host of the Tonight Show. The Spurs remain one of the least watched NBA champions of the 21st century.

There is no other way this needs to be spun or explained. He remained at the top of the late night ratings game for nearly all of his 17 years as host of the Tonight Show. This means the show remained consistent in its purpose- ratings- no matter what criticism or praise the show received from a comedy perspective.

The Tonight Show Conflict is like…

The whole conflict is like any major sports strike or salary cap disaster. It has been mishandled by every side and the result is disaster. The ultimate loser will be the network, which has lost so much prestige I would put it on par with Fox in the 1990s.

The only good news is that there is a chance the network can come back. MLB baseball came back from the baseball strike in 1994. That comeback was fueled by something as dastardly as steroids though. The NBA and the NHL have failed to come back as strong as MLB, and this could very well be the reality for a network trying to come back in the competitive age of Cable, the Internet, Tivo, and Hulu.

David Beckham in New Underwear Ad…Need I Say More???

I will admit this is not exactly gossip but why not start your morning out with a bit of almost naked David Beckham in his new Emporio Armani Underwear ad? In the photos I have included you can check out the before and after or rather dressed and undressed picture of the guy. I mean really…is that body for real??? You can catch the real thing hanging at the Selfridges department store on Oxford Street in London. You can also catch Beckham and other stars in the new controversial Addidas TV commercial. David, along with Katy Perry and Missy Elliot are in this commercial that people feel is “condoning antisocial behavior”. Some parts are a man inhaling on the nozzle of a leaf blower, painting graffiti, riding a scooter in a crazy manner and someone smashing a light. Adiddas says the ad promoted “social activities and inclusion and that the celebrities’ and ordinary people were celebrating together throughout the ad in a safe, respectful and inspirational way.” You can watch it and judge for yourself. For now the commercial has been cleared to air although it will stay away from children’s programs.

So do you think David Letterman went too far this week when he made a joke about Sarah Palin’s younger daughter? Letterman is not a big Palin fan and he seemed to make that perfectly clear at all the jabs he took at her this week during her visit to New York. The joke in question that has Sarah and her husband and others upset went like this….In his monologue on Tuesdays show he joked that while “visiting Yankee Stadium and sitting in far far right field with Rudy Giuliani, they had a wonderful time. The toughest part of her visit was keeping Eliot Spitzer away from her daughter.” If you remember he was the New York Governor that was caught with the hooker, so you can imagine as parents the Palin’s were none too pleased about the “joke”. In fact the couple posted this comment on Facebook…”Any jokes about raping my 14 year old are despicable. Alaskans know it and I believe the rest of the world knows it too.” Palin was also in Dave’s Top 10 list on Monday which was listed as “Top Ten Highlights of Sarah Plains Trip to New York”. It was pretty harsh (although funny). #7 was “Keyed Tina Fey’s car”, #2 was “bought makeup from Bloomingdales to update her slutty flight attendant look” and #1 “Especially enjoyed NOT appearing on Letterman”. Other “Late Night with David Letterman” controversy this week was when Howard Stern showed up for a visit. He is a big Dave Letterman fan but whoa…look out Jay Leno and even Conan O’Brien. Stern slammed Leno on several occasions during the interview even seemingly enough to make Dave squirm a bit. It was a great interview though! Dave who currently earns $30 million a year is in negotiations to extend his contract for 2 more years through 2012.

If you can’t get enough of 65 year old Joy Behar from “The View” during the morning….good news…you will be able to see her nightly in her own cable show titled “The Joy Behar Show” on the HIL network. The show is scheduled to air this fall and Joy says it will be “topical and fun”. I am sure it will be with the very opinionated Behar at the helm giving us her own view on things.

Sad news for a CW actor…Johnny Palermo, 27 and his girlfriend were killed in a car accident on June 8th.  Although his career started recently just in 2004 he has been in more than 30 TV shows in that time and was a real up and coming actor. You may have seen him in “Everybody Hates Chris”, “How I Met Your Mother” or even “CSI Miami”. He even had an Indie film coming out this fall called “Pizza with Bullets.”    

Casting News for “The Hills”

Its official – Lauren Conrad from the hit reality show, “The Hills”, will not be returning for season 6. However fear not, that doesn’t mean there will be any less drama, especially since Kristin Cavallari will be joining the show and bringing plenty of drama with her. Cavallari is responsible for introducing Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag and look where they are now. It should be an interesting season since Cavallari told Ryan Seacrest on his KIIS FM radio show that she is “on the manhunt, and that her focus will be drinking, fighting, and hooking up”, so let the filming begin. Wow, is it me or is that just quality TV programming in the making?

There is tragic news for the former boxing champ Mike Tyson. His 4 year old daughter somehow got her neck caught in the cable of their home treadmill. Tyson’s 7 year old son found her there, got the mother, who untangled her and called 911. It seems that the cable acted like a noose and the little girl could not get it off herself. She is currently on life support. Mike Tyson was in Las Vegas at the time of the accident and of course immediately returned home upon hearing of the accident. In some other sad news, the sister of Natalie Cole passed away after losing her fight with lung cancer. The ironic part of her death is that she died while her sister Natalie Cole was undergoing surgery to receive her new kidney. Natalie Cole has been released from the hospital and will spend about 3 – 4 months recuperating and getting back her strength.

And here is a little baby news for you this morning. Beach volleyball, gold medalist, Kerri Walsh and her husband Casey Jennings, also a volley ball player, welcomed a son Joseph Michael Jennings. Both mom and baby are doing great. And baby number eight is on the way for Mel Gibson. Gibson shared the news officially with Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show” as he made his 21st guest appearance. Mel looked handsome and relaxed as he talked about the news of his new baby on the way with 39 year old girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva. Since it will be baby number eight for the superstar, he joked with Jay and said he could call him “Octo – Mel.” This is Jay’s final week as “The Tonight Show” host and his final guest on Friday will be Conan O’Brien, who takes over the show starting June 1st. Jay will start his new primetime gig on the network in the fall.

And last but now least, I watched it and it was painful. The “Jon and Kate Plus 8” season premiere was brutal to watch and not even the least bit enjoyable. Kate just seemed sad and Jon just seemed checked out. The couple did most of the couch interviews apart and when they were together it was just awkward and painful to watch this couple going through this rough time right in front of our eyes. In this first episode Jon was actually away for the weekend, leaving Kate to plan the sextuplet’s 5th birthday party all by herself. When Jon did finally show up in the episode at the party, he drove by himself and had very little contact with Kate. Although only the first episode, repairing their relationship looks a long way off.   

New Fall TV Lineups Announced

 The fall TV schedules are starting to surface and there are some old favorites that will be missing plus several many shows with some of your old favorite celebrities resurfacing. Over at ABC, Christina Applegate and her show “Samantha Who” will not be returning, along with “According to Jim”, “The Unusuals” and big surprise “Cupid”. Coming back to TV are Kelsey Grammar, new mom Rebecca Romijn, Patricia Heaton, and one of my favorites, Courtney Cox. ABC tops the new show charts with 11 new shows, 4 of which are comedies and 6 will be dramas and only 1 will be a reality show from by Mark Burnett. The show is called “Shark Tank” and will have people trying to get millionaires to choose their ideas to fund. Cox will be playing a cougar in her new comedy “Cougar Town”, where she will be back in the dating world as a single mother. Patricia Heaton will also be in a comedy called “The Middle” where she will be living in Indiana as an average middle class family…I can feel the laughs already. “Eastwick” is one of the new dramas starring Rebecca Romijn, Lindsay Price and Jamie Ray Newman who are women with unique powers that are brought together by a man who helps them realize those powers. And remember, “V” the miniseries back from the 80’s (I do), this is being remade and updated. “V” stands for visitors so it will be sci-fi and stars Elizabeth Mitchell from “Lost” who should feel right at home in that series.

 CBS will be staring the new season with 4 dramas, 1 new comedy and thankfully just 1 new reality show. Some favorite celebrities joining CBS will be Julianne Margulies, LL Cool J, Chris O’Donnell, and Jenna Elfman (remember her from “Dharma and Greg”?). Margulies will be staring in “The Good Wife” where she plays a wife of a politician who also works as a defense attorney. “Three Rivers” will be CBS’s medical drama which will focus on organ transplants and “Miami Trauma” their other medical show which follows trauma surgeons working in you guessed it Miami. Chris O’Donnell and LL cool J will be teamed together in an “NCIS” spin off and Jenna Elfman will star in the comedy “Accidentally on Purpose” where her one night stand with a man much younger then herself, gets her pregnant.

 NBC will add 4 new dramas to their lineup with two of those being medical related. They will be trying to hold on to their ER audience that is for sure. They are bringing back Peter Berg, Michelle Trachtenberg, Maura Tierney, Craig T. Nelson (remember him from “Coach” – that seems like ages ago),Dax  Shepard, Bonnie Bedelia, Monica Potter. Plus one of my favorites from the E! Network, Joel McHale, from “The Soup”, will be testing his acting abilities in none other than a comedy of course called “Community” which is about a group of college misfits. McHale will star along with Chevy Chase. Ron Howard and Brian Grazer will be teaming up for their new show “Parenthood”, based on the movie “Parenthood. It will be about parenting and hopefully with these two funny guys at the helm this show will be hilarious. “Trauma” one of the medical shows will follow a group of paramedics in San Francisco while “Mercy” will be hospital based but the difference with this hospital show is that it will be through the eyes of the nurses. And then of course Jay Leno will be taking up a big chunk of prime time programming with his new talk show time slot every night at 10:00 (ET/PT). Shows that were renewed were “30 Rock”, “The Office”, “Celebrity Apprentice”, Law and Order: Special Victims Units “, “Friday Night Lights”, “Medium”, “Heroes” along with the new comers “Parks and Recreation”, and “Southland”. Bummer I guess “Lipstick Jungle” really isn’t coming back. I am still bitter about that one.

Fox is adding 3 new shows. One is actually an animated show from the producers of “Family Guy” which is called “”The Cleveland Show”. Another new once is called “Glee” and “Brothers” about an NFL player who returns home to his family only to realize how much he has changed while he has been away. That will star Michael Strahan who used to play for the Giants. Fox will also have a few news shows come mid season, called “Son of Tucson” and “Human Target”. And new mom, Wanda Sykes will have her own one hour comedy show on Saturday nights, so that should be a funny one. “So You Think You Can Dance” received good news when it found out that it was moving off the summer schedule and being bumped up to the prime time fall schedule. Although “Terminator” will not be back, “Dollhouse”, “Bones”, “Cops”, “Family Guy”, “America’s Most Wanted”, “Kitchen Nightmares”, ”Hell’s Kitchen””Lie TO Me”, ”Til Death”, “The Simpsons” “American Idol”,  “Fringe”, and  “24” will all be back.
Those are just some of the highlights you can expect to look forward to after a long showless summer season.

Octo Mom and Lindsay Lohan in the News

I have not talked about her for weeks but this cannot go without mention. It is absurd and shocking and I will try to just tell you the story without my soap box. Nadya Suleman is contemplating a new pet…possibly a small PIG!!! Really…does she really need one more mouth do feed or excuse me…but more poop to clean up??? She says that if she did indeed decide on a pig is would live outside and wear a diaper. A pig????  Another possibility is a teacup Pomeranian or some other little dog. Like taking care of 8 newborns plus 6 other children is not enough…but the kids have been asking for a pet for awhile she says.  Have you heard the saying…Just Say NO!!!! Nadya has been busy looking for someone to give her a reality show as well as trying to trademark the name, Octo – mom. Nuff said!

Here are few odds and end stories. Jay Leno was admitted to the hospital for undisclosed reasons on Thursday and has been admitted for observation. He had to cancel “The Tonight Show” for Thursday but is expected back to work on Monday. Jay’s people say he is doing ok and has been joking around with the doctors and nurses. And since we can never have enough Lindsay Lohan scoop… it seems that Lindsay and ex girlfriend Samantha Ronson spent about 6 hours together yesterday. Maybe Samantha caught Lindsay on The Ellen show, telling the world that she still loves Samantha. Ronson has actually even changed her Face book status to “complicated”…interesting. Stay tuned – I am sure this will not be the last we hear of these two.   Bruce Springsteen’s wife, Patti Scialfa, was not with him at his Wednesday night concert because she fell off her horse. She is bruised up but luckily that is all. She is at home recuperating.  Have you seen Susan Boyle recently…she is hardly recognizable. Check her and her new makeover out. She looks 20 years younger – which brings her to her age and not a grandmother. She really does look great. Amazing what a good hair cut and color can do for a woman. So the overnight success named Susan Boyle looks like a million bucks!

And how about those Brits? Two famous British celebrities have decided to donate their brains to help Parkinson’s research and are asking others to do the same. Wows…talk about using your star power for good. Jeremy Paxman is a TV host and Jane Asher is an actress as well as the president of the British Parkinson’s Disease society. Already 1000 people have agreed to do the same. Two of our famous celebrities here in the US suffering from the disease are Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali.  Let’s end on a lighter note this Friday afternoon…. It has just been announced the Taylor Swift will be performing at the CMT Awards on June 17th in Nashville.  Also performing will be Toby Keith, Rascal Flatts and new daddy, Brad Paisley.   

Kelly Osbourne Out of Rehab.

 Kelly Osbourne says she “has never been clean until now”. Kelly was just released from a month long rehab. program has been out for three weeks. She says she has been addicted to painkiller since she got her tonsils removed when she was 13 years old.  Although she has been in rehab 2 times previously this time she is really clean. She said that she went into rehab because “she knew if I didn’t get help I would die.” Kelly is back with her family and has reunited with them for their new Fox show called the “Osbournes Reloaded.” Keep it clean this time Kelly

Poor Obama, he offended quite a few people during his appearance on The Tonight Show in Los Angeles on Thursday night. He made an off the cuff comment about his bowling abilities and compared them to the Special Olympics.  Well you can imagine the people that were up in arms. Come on people, give the man a break. He says himself that he in “no way intended to disparage the Special Olympics, and that he thinks it is a wonderful program”. Of course he does who doesn’t?  I understand that it wasn’t the nicest thing, but people say things and it is just reality. I am sure he will be more careful and does deeply regret the comment. You can be sure that Sarah Palin jumped right on this. She says that, “This was a degrading remark about our world’s most precious and unique people, coming from the most powerful position in the world.” You know she couldn’t wait to give her comments against Obama.
Ellen DeGeneres can say…mission accomplished. For weeks she has been campaigning to be on the cover of Oprah’s O magazine. Ellen has called Harpo studios, she has been talking about it on her show and even made several mock ups of her and Oprah on the cover. On Friday, Oprah made a surprise satellite visit to share the good news with Ellen and told her that she loved the idea and wished she had thought of it herself.  Ellen has big plans for her cover magazine and told Oprah that she wants her issue to be the biggest selling issue the magazine has ever had. For some reason I think she will accomplish that goal as well.

Chris Brown and Rihanna Take a Break

Finally some good news in the Chris Brown and Rihanna story. The two have decided to take a break. They have not officially broken up by Rihanna has decided to take some time and focus on herself and her career. It sounds like she is finally coming to her senses. Rihanna is back in LA after spending some time with her good friends Beyonce, Jay – Z, Brandy and her manager. Maybe all the input from friends, as well as Oprah, who talked to the couple on her show and has also been focusing on domestic violence, finally got through to her. Whatever, it is a good start to getting her life back on track.

Justin Timberlake has something to celebrate as well as something to celebrate with. He is launching a brand new brand of tequila called 901, which just happens to be his old area code from where he grew up in Memphis.  The project has been in the works for more than 2 years and will be available in select markets in May.  The lucky markets are St. Louis, New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Justin is keeping his plate full; he also has his fashion line as well.

Make sure you turn into The Tonight Show tonight to catch President Barrack Obama chat it up with Jay Leno. This will be Obama’s first live talk show appearance since he became President. HE plans on making a grand entrance and will of course talk about the economy and his economic plan.

I am still so saddened and shocked as we all are about the death of Natasha Richardson. Every time I see a picture of her it just does not seem real.  The autopsy has come back and shows the cause of death was an “epidural hematoma, due to blunt impact to the head, which led to profound bleeding between the skull and the brain’s covering”. My heart just goes out to her family and the people who knew her. It makes you realize how precious every day needs to be.

Jay Leno Doing His Part

I just heard this feel good story and I wanted to share. Jay Leno has just announced that he is going to be doing a free concert in Detroit. He will be performing at The Palace of Auburn Hills on April 7th. Why Detroit you ask? He picked it because currently Detroit has the highest unemployment rate in the country at 11.6% and this is his way of giving back. He says he was actually inspired by President Obama, who says, in these difficult times we all have to do our part. Tickets will be handed out on an honor system and Jay really wants the tickets to go to people who are unemployed. He wants these people who are down on their luck right now to come and have some fun and not worry about costs.  Pepsi is sponsoring the show and  and even the parking will be free. Leno is even considering bringing the show to other cities if it is a success. I would bet he probably needs to start working on an itinerary. I hope more stars start giving back and doing the right thing to help support their country and their fans.

Grab your kids and share the news, The Jonas Brothers have just announced dates for their 2009 World Tour. The boys will travel to 3 continents and will kick off the tour in Dallas on June 20th.  The boys are so excited because they feel they have put together a tour that their fans will never forget. They will be playing new music as well as using some of the newest coolest technology for the show. They are going to have a huge stage, which is actually more than 140 feet. Of course there will be stellar laser lighting effects and giant video screens plus a unique, one of a kind, circular water screen. The Jonas Brothers say there will be a lot of surprises in store and they really want to get up close and personal with the fans and provide them with a very interactive concert. Joining the boys will be “American Idol” winner, Jordin Sparks.

One final good deed to share. E! Entertainment news donated $250,000 to Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s charity called The Jolie- Pitt Foundation. The foundation gives a large portion of the money goes to help in New Orleans, as well as the UN to help in Darfur, and money also goes to Cambodia to aid in children’s causes.  I hope we continue to see more stories like the ones I have mentioned today.