TV Really Does Matter

February 16, 2009

It’s been way too long since my last post, but between developing Triple Zero Heroes to pilot stage and relocating to London, I lost sight of what was important. Today, this story from regional Australia made it all clear. This is legit and really is more than I ever thought I would achieve in my life – in or outside of the media. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but I knew I had to blog again.

I promise more updates and to continue to use my powers for good and not evil.


Britney’s on the fast track

November 26, 2008

Summer programming used to mean repeats of old sitcoms squeezed between cricket matches.  But with the glut of shows and the knee jerk reaction of network heads pulling shows off air prematurely, we look set to enjoy a flood of riches during the months when the sun traditionally shines.


One such gem is set to air Tuesday, December 2 at 7.30pm on Channel 10.  Britney: For the Record is a documentary made by MTV that combines first person interviews with behind the scenes footage of her comeback, ending on a high at this years’ VMA Awards.  Love or loathe the pop princess, you’ve gotta admire anyone who can return to the place where they shamed themselves, doped up in their underwear the year previous. 


For The Record is screening on in the US on November 30th, so it can almost legitimately be promoted as being fast tracked Down Under.  In a bonus, Dec 2nd is also Britney’s 27th birthday.


The trailer suggests it’ll be a little bit Monica in Black & White meets Madonna’s Truth or Dare.  It could be too early to call it the must-see over summer, but it’s sure to be hot viewing.


Is he no longer a Survivor?

October 28, 2008

In the wake of MIPCOM, television’s buying and selling junket held on the beaches at Cannes each year, networks around the world have been revealing what they hope to be the big hits of 2009.  Although there was talk of economic downturn the world over, there’s still a thirst for gameshows, crime drama and anything with the word interactive in the pitch. 


Then there’s Mark Burnett, super-producer.  The name behind Survivor, The Apprentice and Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader has revealed his latest offering to the tv world.  Live Like You’re Dying is being piloted by CBS.  It’s a reality show that grants terminally ill people a final wish (and the opportunity for them to share that with the viewing public).  Tears are guaranteed as we share time with a perfectly cast dying person embracing what is literally a once in a lifetime opportunity.  However, whether they choose to cruise the Nile or beat up Sylvester Stallone, it is hard to believe that we’ll find the proper empathy for anyone who would choose to spend their final days with a camera in their face and a producer saying ‘can you put that thing you said about fearing death into a proper sentence?’.

Martin Sheen for President

September 25, 2008

With Bill Clinton saturating the talk show circuit promoting his global do-good charity, it’s hard not to fantasise about other people who could fill the office that Bush is deserting and McCain and Obama are fighting over. Naturally, the best candidate ever was the one created by Aaron Sorkin, West Wing’s Jed Bartlet. Week after week Americans tuned in to watch Jed and his team of big-hearted, hard working and extremely good looking politicians.

In the countdown to the election, New York Times writer Maureen Dowd wrote to Sorkin to find out how his president would be feeling right now. This is the genuine response she got:

BARACK OBAMA knocks on the front door of a 300-year-old New Hampshire farmhouse while his Secret Service detail waits in the driveway. The door opens and OBAMA is standing face to face with former President JED BARTLET.

BARTLET Senator.

OBAMA Mr. President.

BARTLET You seem startled.

OBAMA I didn’t expect you to answer the door yourself.

BARTLET I didn’t expect you to be getting beat by John McCain and a Lancôme rep who thinks “The Flintstones” was based on a true story, so let’s call it even.

OBAMA Yes, sir.

BARTLET Come on in.

BARTLET leads OBAMA into his study.

BARTLET That was a hell of a convention.

OBAMA Thank you, I was proud of it.

BARTLET I meant the Republicans. The Us versus Them-a-thon. As a Democrat I was surprised to learn that I don’t like small towns, God, people with jobs or America. I’ve been a little out of touch but is there a mandate that the vice president be skilled at field dressing a moose —

OBAMA Look —

BARTLET — and selling Air Force Two on eBay?

OBAMA Joke all you want, Mr. President, but it worked.

BARTLET Imagine my surprise. What can I do for you, kid?

OBAMA I’m interested in your advice.

BARTLET I can’t give it to you.

OBAMA Why not?

BARTLET I’m supporting McCain.


BARTLET He’s promised to eradicate evil and that was always on my “to do” list.


BARTLET And he’s surrounded himself, I think, with the best possible team to get us out of an economic crisis. Why, Sarah Palin just said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had “gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers.” Can you spot the error in that statement?

OBAMA Yes, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac aren’t funded by taxpayers.

BARTLET Well, at least they are now. Kind of reminds you of the time Bush said that Social Security wasn’t a government program. He was only off by a little — Social Security is the largest government program.

OBAMA I appreciate your sense of humor, sir, but I really could use your advice.

BARTLET Well, it seems to me your problem is a lot like the problem I had twice.

OBAMA Which was?

BARTLET A huge number of Americans thought I thought I was superior to them.



OBAMA I mean, how did you overcome that?

BARTLET I won’t lie to you, being fictional was a big advantage.

OBAMA What do you mean?

BARTLET I’m a fictional president. You’re dreaming right now, Senator.

OBAMA I’m asleep?

BARTLET Yes, and you’re losing a ton of white women.

OBAMA Yes, sir.

BARTLET I mean tons.

OBAMA I understand.

BARTLET I didn’t even think there were that many white women.

OBAMA I see the numbers, sir. What do they want from me?

BARTLET I’ve been married to a white woman for 40 years and I still don’t know what she wants from me.

OBAMA How did you do it?

BARTLET Well, I say I’m sorry a lot.

OBAMA I don’t mean your marriage, sir. I mean how did you get America on your side?

BARTLET There again, I didn’t have to be president of America, I just had to be president of the people who watched “The West Wing.”

OBAMA That would make it easier.

BARTLET You’d do very well on NBC. Thursday nights in the old “ER” time slot with “30 Rock” as your lead-in, you’d get seven, seven-five in the demo with a 20, 22 share — you’d be selling $450,000 minutes.

OBAMA What the hell does that mean?

BARTLET TV talk. I thought you’d be interested.

OBAMA I’m not. They pivoted off the argument that I was inexperienced to the criticism that I’m — wait for it — the Messiah, who, by the way, was a community organizer. When I speak I try to lead with inspiration and aptitude. How is that a liability?

BARTLET Because the idea of American exceptionalism doesn’t extend to Americans being exceptional. If you excelled academically and are able to casually use 690 SAT words then you might as well have the press shoot video of you giving the finger to the Statue of Liberty while the Dixie Chicks sing the University of the Taliban fight song. The people who want English to be the official language of the United States are uncomfortable with their leaders being fluent in it.

OBAMA You’re saying race doesn’t have anything to do with it?

BARTLET I wouldn’t go that far. Brains made me look arrogant but they make you look uppity. Plus, if you had a black daughter —

OBAMA I have two.

BARTLET — who was 17 and pregnant and unmarried and the father was a teenager hoping to launch a rap career with “Thug Life” inked across his chest, you’d come in fifth behind Bob Barr, Ralph Nader and a ficus.

OBAMA You’re not cheering me up.

BARTLET Is that what you came here for?

OBAMA No, but it wouldn’t kill you.

BARTLET Have you tried doing a two-hour special or a really good Christmas show?


BARTLET Hang on. Home run. Right here. Is there any chance you could get Michelle pregnant before the fall sweeps?

OBAMA The problem is we can’t appear angry. Bush called us the angry left. Did you see anyone in Denver who was angry?

BARTLET Well … let me think. …We went to war against the wrong country, Osama bin Laden just celebrated his seventh anniversary of not being caught either dead or alive, my family’s less safe than it was eight years ago, we’ve lost trillions of dollars, millions of jobs, thousands of lives and we lost an entire city due to bad weather. So, you know … I’m a little angry.

OBAMA What would you do?

BARTLET GET ANGRIER! Call them liars, because that’s what they are. Sarah Palin didn’t say “thanks but no thanks” to the Bridge to Nowhere. She just said “Thanks.” You were raised by a single mother on food stamps — where does a guy with eight houses who was legacied into Annapolis get off calling you an elitist? And by the way, if you do nothing else, take that word back. Elite is a good word, it means well above average. I’d ask them what their problem is with excellence. While you’re at it, I want the word “patriot” back. McCain can say that the transcendent issue of our time is the spread of Islamic fanaticism or he can choose a running mate who doesn’t know the Bush doctrine from the Monroe Doctrine, but he can’t do both at the same time and call it patriotic. They have to lie — the truth isn’t their friend right now. Get angry. Mock them mercilessly; they’ve earned it. McCain decried agents of intolerance, then chose a running mate who had to ask if she was allowed to ban books from a public library. It’s not bad enough she thinks the planet Earth was created in six days 6,000 years ago complete with a man, a woman and a talking snake, she wants schools to teach the rest of our kids to deny geology, anthropology, archaeology and common sense too? It’s not bad enough she’s forcing her own daughter into a loveless marriage to a teenage hood, she wants the rest of us to guide our daughters in that direction too? It’s not enough that a woman shouldn’t have the right to choose, it should be the law of the land that she has to carry and deliver her rapist’s baby too? I don’t know whether or not Governor Palin has the tenacity of a pit bull, but I know for sure she’s got the qualifications of one. And you’re worried about seeming angry? You could eat their lunch, make them cry and tell their mamas about it and God himself would call it restrained. There are times when you are simply required to be impolite. There are times when condescension is called for!

OBAMA Good to get that off your chest?

BARTLET Am I keeping you from something?

OBAMA Well, it’s not as if I didn’t know all of that and it took you like 20 minutes to say.

BARTLET I know, I have a problem, but admitting it is the first step.

OBAMA What’s the second step?

BARTLET I don’t care.

OBAMA So what about hope? Chuck it for outrage and put-downs?

BARTLET No. You’re elite, you can do both. Four weeks ago you had the best week of your campaign, followed — granted, inexplicably — by the worst week of your campaign. And you’re still in a statistical dead heat. You’re a 47-year-old black man with a foreign-sounding name who went to Harvard and thinks devotion to your country and lapel pins aren’t the same thing and you’re in a statistical tie with a war hero and a Cinemax heroine. To these aged eyes, Senator, that’s what progress looks like. You guys got four debates. Get out of my house and go back to work.

OBAMA Wait, what is it you always used to say? When you hit a bump on the show and your people were down and frustrated? You’d give them a pep talk and then you’d always end it with something. What was it …?

BARTLET “Break’s over.”

Kramer, George, Elaine and Jerry were our favourite unlikeable friends for 9 consecutive seasons. We couldn’t get enough of the cynical New Yorkers and their show about nothing. The final over-hyped episode delivered the last great ratings that any of them would ever get. Julia-Louis Dreyfuss has barely held onto her dignity in The New Adventures of Old Christine. Jason Alexander has looked uncomfortable on any other set and Michael Richards permanently removed himself from mainstream television via one racial slur and the power of Youtube.

Apart from Bee Movie, the show’s creator Jerry Seinfeld has managed to limit the damage, simply by avoiding all on-air commitments. Then Bill Gates came calling with a cheque for $10 million and a chance to be cooler than the Mac Guy. Instead, it seems that Jerry has now become the final victim of his former successful sitcom’s fate. Only two weeks after running the first commercial, Microsoft have pulled Jerry’s 90 second performances from air. Described as ‘too obscure’ the ads didn’t make the impact they were meant to. Perhaps the main problem is that, like many Apple lovers contend, the Microsoft commercial is a poor second cousin to the original. And, that when Jerry isn’t supported by incredible actors, he’s just a skinny, awkward guy with an overly large head and no fashion sense whose 15 minutes have definitely passed.

Acting like you care

September 16, 2008

When Sarah Palin turned up as John McCain’s running, mate one question immediately sprung to mind – will it be Tina Fey or Julia Louis-Dreyfuss who get called back to work?  Well, Saturday Night Live’s season opener answered the question when Tina donned a red suit and sharp spectacles in a cold opener that attracted the show’s highest ratings in 7 years.

The likeness is uncanny – see the full clip here.

One of the best features of the LONG US campaign trail is celebrity involvement. Oprah’s been busy publicly endorsing Obama. John McCain attracted Lacy Chabert and Jerry Bruckheimer to a major fundraiser. But the most surprising statement from an A-Lister comes from Matt Damon. The Bourne Identity star is questioning Palin’s lack of experience in going from Governer of Alaska to the White House. Kind of like Ben Affleck’s ability to go from (allegedly) co-creating an oscar winning script to becoming a Hollywood success.

Can you ever go back?

September 5, 2008

It is with great anticipation that I am awaiting the allegedly fast-tracked Aussie premiere of the 2008 version of 90210.  Last Tuesday the new series set at that old address debuted in the States.  To the relief of sweaty-palmed execs, itwas the most watched premiere in the CW’s history.  More people tuned in to see a new pair of fish-out-of-water teens than first watched Dawson’s Creek or Buffy and most stayed glued to the set for the full 120 minutes.


They say there’s no such thing as a new idea, but from the talk online, this is literally an attempt to fuse the nostalgic appeal of Brenda Walsh with Gossip Girl gloss.  Once again a family from the sticks moves to the big smoke and are overwhelmed by the sassy-ness of the city kids.   The modern twist is that the brother is adopted (made nice and obvious in the opening scene by his skin colour) and I predict a moment of sibling sexual tension down the track. 


In the 2-hour premiere neither Jenny Garth nor Shannen Doherty appear until the second half, but it’s sure to be worth the wait.  However, from the 5 minutes I managed to grab off youtube yesterday, the most masterful casting is Jessica Walters as the newcomers grandmother.  You’ll recognise her from her role as the Bluth matriarch in Arrested Development and we can only hope to see her boozier and brassier in this prestigious zip code.