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.


BBC3 last week launched a new beauty talent search with a twist – BRITAIN’S MISSING TOP MODEL. Eight spunky girls, each with a disability, battle it out to become England’s next top model. The show’s first episode premiered well, delivering 30% above the broadcaster’s average. It certainly appears that having a limb missing doesn’t affect a contestant’s ability to bitch and moan. The first few minutes preview the entire series. Is it empowering to watch imperfect women getting photographed in underwear or nude? Will we be inspired by watching them roll down the catwalk? And how did they find a wheelchair accessible penthouse for the girls to share??

Wipeout is the latest show from Endemol that’s being rolled out around the world. The idea behind it was to come up with a show that would create hugely popular clips for YouTube. Obviously they couldn’t get away with anything too sexy and there was no format that lent itself to cute animal montages. So, this cross between It’s a Knockout and Gladiators is their new lawsuit waiting to happen. Similarly to how multiple versions of Survivor are made, the Wipeout set is located in Argentina and will be used by all other territories that want to make a local version of the show. It’s hard to say whether the cheap production costs in South America or the lack of OHS laws were the prime motivation for this move.

If you can’t wait, the entire first episode is already online, so mission accomplished. The US series which has done frighteningly well in the states will be screened on Ch 9 starting next Tuesday at 7.30pm. This will be closely followed by a call for Aussie contestants who are willing to travel to Argentina after signing a comprehensive waiver. Here’s a little something to get you in the mood…

Paying the Price

April 24, 2008

Today in the USA it’s the first day of May Sweeps – a time when things in TV land get crazy as networks desperately bid for viewer’s eyeballs and recall.

Unlike our local system, US ratings are gathered in two ways – via people metres each evening and by analysing data entered into paper diaries that are distributed four times a year. For some reason, even as the US gallops toward phasing out analogue television, this dated method of recording viewing habits is given incredible kudos. So, when the diaries are sent out, every network pulls out its big guns so that when members of a household put pen to paper, its their logo or programs that come to mind. Even though those who get a ratings book are paid for their opinions, you can be certain that US$30 doesn’t change the fact that they’re filled out the night before they’re due for collection.

It’s the May Sweeps that have inspired the newest incarnation of the world’s longest running gameshow Price Is Right. In the primetime Million Dollar Spectacular version that will start appearing next Wednesday night at 8pm, Drew Carey presents games we know and love but offers huge payoffs for guessing the retail value of familiar items. In calculating the cost of running a gameshow and paying for cash or prize giveaways, production companies utilise the expertise of academic statisiticians. These masters of mathematics are brought in to assure everyone that big money will only ever be given away when the show can afford it. Variables like the difficulty of the game, the number of times it’s been played and the likelihood of choosing an intelligent contestant are all taken into account.

However, even with the best equations, anomolies occur. On paper, it shouldn’t have taken 5 years for the first Australian to fulfill the promise of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and certainly the boffins wouldn’t have foreseen this outcome.

The position of television programmer is not generally spoken of with any degree of desire. There’s no reality show offering it as a prize and little kids don’t ever use it as a dress up character. And no wonder. Who would want a position that’s a cross between an Idol Judge (NEXT!), an insurance assessor (zero risk = a well-loved host + a popular format that hit in foreign country) and a D-grade celebrity (you’re here with who?)?

Surely the least wanted job right now is network head at Channel 9. If it wasn’t for popping in a tape of Gordon Ramsay whenever possible, there’d be very little keeping 9 in the ratings war. There may be a slight sigh of relief since Canal Road broke the magic million last night, but it’s early days and one hour a week cannot revive an entire network.

Last week the programmers of the world spent the week in Cannes for MIP TV, the little sister of MIPCOM, which is considered the high point of the TV junket calendar. 13,000 delegates gathered – imagine all the handshaking and bad suits hitting the French Riviera. Deals were done, decisions made, backs were slapped. Unfortunately, still smarting from Monster House, Power of Ten, and the local version of Moment of Truth , Ch 9 went shopping. It’s a pity that two major purchases they made – royal drama The Palace and reality series Ladette to Lady – have already been axed in their local territory. Ouch.

One of the toughest things about holding the top network job is that your work is constantly under the scrutiny of the nation and can be severely impacted by the general public, the lawmakers and several governing bodies. Consider the fallout for Underbelly. Or the amazing story that came out of Venezuala last week where the country’s tv authorities dropped The Simpsons from morning TV after judging the cartoon as unsuitable for children and replaced it with the very wholesome Baywatch.

When things start going wrong people get desperate. Last time a network was in this much trouble was when Ch 7 commissioned Temptation Island. Oh yeah, here we go again.

The story goes that Britney personally called the producers of How I Met Your Mother and begged to appear alognside ex-Doogie Howser. She thought this’d be a great way to re-brand herself and get back in the spotlight for all the right reasons and it seems NBC news agrees. Check it out for yourself here.

You can also buy yourself a piece of her comeback by bidding for the clothes she wore on the show. Everything up for sale resembles something worn by a character on Little House on The Prarie and I’m more than disappointed that there are no underpants listed, but this may be the only time us normal chicks can be seen in something worn by the pop princess.

Sabotage via Sunrise?

March 18, 2008

The rumour is that this ‘attack’ on Mel and Kochie was set up by Channel 9. You’d think they would have come up with a protest message that was immediately understandable.

Maybe the Aussie Temptation Island contestants are chasing their pay cheques. Piaf, is that you?