Thursday, November 25, 2010

In closing, a few links

This blog has, obviously, gone dormant -- I've been working on a couple of new projects lately, and especially in our post-Conan/Jaypocalypse world, there is plenty of late night news & analysis out there from reporters covering the TV beat full time (and getting paid to do so). A few of my fave sites:

Tuned In:'s James Poniewozik has the best TV blog on the 'net, in my opinion -- despite the fact that a cover story he wrote notoriously called "The Jay Leno Show" "the future of TV." (He explained later that the short-lived program "was a dramatic example of how TV was changing in a time of fragmentation and decline," with the big networks "becoming more like cable, looking for ways to program cheaply." OK, I'll buy it.) Follow him on Twitter, too.

The Live Feed: If it's TV news, it'll show up on this Hollywood Reporter site. Great for breaking news and overnight ratings.

TV By the Numbers' late night ratings page: All the network spin, along with occasional analysis.

Television Without Pity's talk show forum: The best place to discuss talk shows, and many members of the community there post news and links. The "Daily Show" and "Conan" forums are particularly active; lots of posters have been participating in the TWoP boards for many years, and moderation ensures that everybody stays on topic.

Late night lineups page: It's still around.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Jimmy Fallon: Praise for the host in Emmy review round-up

"Late Night" host Jimmy Fallon won praise from most critics after his biggest hosting gig yet (Fallon helmed both the video and movie awards shows on MTV), though perhaps his army of Twitter followers is not yet ready for prime time.'s Daniel Fienberg called Fallon one of the evening's "winners." "In his biggest hosting gig to date, Jimmy Fallon acquitted himself well... Fallon seemed at least somewhat aware of when he was wanted and when he was supposed to just get out of the way. Very few hosts can say the same."

The Los Angeles Times' He played to his own strengths... the art of the wide-eyed amiable jab, some wicked guitar-accompanied transitions and a surprisingly good Green Day." (I thought his Elton John was even better.)

"As a white-tuxedoed, wandering minstrel," McNamara continued, "Fallon played perfect host in the traditional sense of the compliment—he did not dominate so much as facilitate, making the category transitions lightly and cleanly, introducing presenters with humor and an insider's ease, and remaining infectiously happy to be there without drawing too much attention to himself."'s James Poniewozik wrote that the "welcoming, eager-to-please Fallon was a success." The Hollywood Reporter's Andrew Wallenstein disagreed, stating that while Fallon started strong, the host "lost the freshness as he relied too much on recurring bits that just weren't funny, including reciting Twitter suggestions to introduce award presenters and toting an acoustic guitar into the audience."

The Washington Post's Hank Steuver wrote that Fallon "put his nervous, insouciant glee to work, and for once, it worked as well as it does on his late-night talk show. Armed with his acoustic guitar, a big bag of shtick, some obligatory Conan/Jay/10 p.m. jabs at his employers at NBC ('NBC asking a host of "Late Night" to come to Los Angeles and host a different show -- what could possibly go wrong?'). Fallon made it look easier than expected." 

Steuver added, "An attempt to involve viewers' Twitter tweets to Fallon as a way of introducing celebrity presenters fell flat, and should be a reminder to us all: The people who write television should be the ones writing it."

Sunday, August 29, 2010

"The Daily Show" triumphs again at Emmys

When "The Amazing Race" failed to win its eighth consecutive best reality competition Emmy, falling to "Top Chef," I thought perhaps it was a sign, and that "The Daily Show"'s own long, long winning streak would end tonight as well. But no, the Comedy Central half-hour managed to win its eighth trophy in the Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy Series category, despite the fact that "some industry insiders and Team Coco fans were itching for O'Brien's short-lived tenure hosting NBC's 'Tonight Show' to score," as blogger James Hibberd put it. Conan will have to try again next year.

Strangely enough, Jon Stewart was nowhere to be seen. Exec producer Rory Albanese accepted on behalf of the show.

"The Colbert Report" triumphed in the Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Series, beating "TDS" and Coco as well as Bill Maher and "Saturday Night Live"'s much-heralded Betty White episode.

Emmy host Jimmy Fallon's NBC show picked up a trophy in the Outstanding Short-Form Picture Editing category for its "Glee" parody "6-Bee."

How did Fallon fare as host? I thought he was fine, though all of the musical numbers made me wonder if his true ambition is hosting the Grammys. Also, the idea of soliciting funny remarks from Twitter users just go to show why professional comedy writers earn the big bucks. The opening number, featuring Fallon and a grab bag of celebs (everyone from Kate Gosselin to Joel McHale), is destined to be a YouTube smash. Check back in tomorrow for a rundown of reviews of Jimmy's performance.

Friday, August 20, 2010

More "Last Call" from NBC and Carson Daly

NBC has renewed "Last Call with Carson Daly" for a tenth year of performances by obscure bands and interview segments that seem to have been edited by a chimp with ADD.

"Under Daly, 'Last Call' has gone through more format changes than a crappy FM station," writes's Aaron Barnhart. Currently the show, which used to be a regular guy-at-desk-in-studio program like every other late night talker, is "shot in hotel lobbies and other shows’ soundstages in the TMZ."

"I really feel that 'Last Call' has hit its stride. It took 10 years -- but it feels brand new and great," Daly said in an NBC press release, which adds that the show "will continue with the mantra 'no desk, no ties, no rules.'"

According to Variety's Stuart Levine, the show, which airs at 1:35 AM in most markets, averages 971,000 viewers. "While that aud may seem relatively small, the numbers are misleading: Many viewers are sleeping during the broadcast but record the show on their DVRs. Numbers substantially increase when live+7 figures are added."

Barnhart points out that "In the 18-49 demographic, 'Last Call's' 0.4 rating in the demo is often competitive with ... of all shows ... 'Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.' This despite the fact that Ferguson gets twice the audience of 'Last Call' and enjoys the advantage of an earlier time slot."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Here's Johnny - online!

The New York Times reports that has gotten an upgrade, and will feature an archive of the 3,500 hours of "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" that have recently been digitized.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of that content won't be accessible to the general public -- it is "intended only for media companies that plan to use the clips for commercial purposes," writes the Times' Dave Itzkoff. Web surfers will be able to choose from a selection of clips that "will be updated to reflect current events."

Judging from the initial mix of clips, the site may prove more frustrating than funny to most visitors. There's a snippet of Jay Leno's third appearance on the show -- Johnny announces that the bushy-haired young comedian is about to become a regular on "The Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. Show" -- but there's less than a minute of comedy, a few quick gags about killer bees. A 50-second clip from 1973 stars professional horseshoe pitcher Putt Mossman, who tosses his steel projectiles toward a stake planted between the visibly nervous Carson's legs.

Viewers who want a bigger Carson fix will have to pay for it -- there are dozens of DVDs for sale on the site, ranging from "Johnny's Animal Hijinks" to "Carson Country," which features appearances by "Johnny's favorite country stars."

The man behind is Carson Entertainment president Jeff Sotzing, a former "Tonight Show" producer who also happens to be Carson’s nephew.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Lopez ratings down; will Conan bring broadcast-sized bucks to TBS?

Brad Adgate of Horizon Media just Tweeted about "Lopez Tonight"'s declining ratings: "Lopez viewers on TBS (in mill)-Nov 1.398; Dec 1.274; Jan 1.069, Feb 0.948, Mar 0.955, Apr 0.910 May 0.737, Jun 0.779 & Jul 0.751- down, down."

I couldn't find anything else online about Lopez's ratings, but if it's true, TBS must be eager for November to come -- that's when Conan O'Brien's new show will debut on the cable network. According to the Los Angeles Times, "advertising sales for [Coco's new] show are brisk." Parent company Time Warner chief exec Jeff Bewkes said in a conference call, "'We saw strong demand for Conan O’Brien,' adding that the late-night host's upcoming show was drawing an ad rate per thousand viewers similar to what he attracted on NBC."

Adgate told The Hollywood Reporter's James Hibberd that the high ad rates are "surprising."

"Sports and kids' shows are more likely to get network-like pricing on cable," he told Hibberd, adding that "he still doubts though that O'Brien will draw the same number of viewers on TBS that he used to get on NBC."

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ratings: Viewers prefer gossip to Craig's "Kilborn File"

Looks like Fox's experiment with "late-night style comedy before dinner" may be coming to an end soon. Five weeks into its six-week test run, Craig Kilborn's "Kilborn File" hasn't been discovered by many summertime TV viewers.

According to Broadcasting & Cable, the comedy program "is averaging a 0.9 rating/2 share weighted metered market average, according to Nielsen Media Research, across Fox-owned stations in seven markets. That's down 53% from the show's 1.9/4 average lead-in and 47% compared to last summer's 1.7/4 average in the time slots."

Most channels were airing sitcom reruns, including "The Simpsons" and "Seinfeld," in the slot prior to the debut of "The Kilborn File."

Craiggers' weakest markets are L.A. and Boston. On KTTV Los Angeles, where the show airs at 6:30 PM, "the show averaged a 0.6/1, a 54% drop from its 1.3/3 lead-in and a 65% decline from last summer's 1.7/4." On WFXT Boston at 7 PM, "the show averaged a 0.6/1, down 50% from its 1.2/3 lead-in and 60% from last summer's 1.5/3." In both markets, Kilborn's lead-in is gossip show "TMZ."

His strongest performance came in Detroit, where the show airs at 7:30 and "had by far its best lead-in" -- you guessed it, "TMZ" again. Apparently they really like gossip in Motown. "Kilborn averaged a 1.4/3. Similarly to the other markets, that's a 52% loss from its 2.9/6 lead-in and a 39% difference from last summer's 2.3/5."