Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy New Year: What's on TV?

Not everyone wants to be out celebrating on New Year's Eve. Don't worry; there's plenty to watch if you're staying in.

NBC: No "Jay Leno Show"; it's pre-empted for Carson Daly's annual extravaganza. Daly, usually seen in the wee hours of the morning, will get a chunk of prime time, kicking off at 10 PM, taking a half-hour break for local news, and then resuming at 11:30 PM. He'll feature musical guests Rihanna, Jay-Z and Green Day, as well as a performance from the cast of the Broadway musical "Hair."

ABC: "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest" will ring in the New Year with a massive three-hour show with Jennifer Lopez, Daughtry, the Black Eyed Peas, Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, Keri Hilson, Colbie Caillat, Orianthi and Robin Thicke. "Dancing with the Stars" finalist Melissa Rycroft will report live from Times Square, while Black Eyed Pea Fergie is the Las Vegas correspondent. The program kicks off at 10 PM, with a break at 11 PM for the nightly news. And, yes, Clark himself will be on hand for the midnight ball drop.

CBS: As usual, the Eye Network skips the festivities. Catch a David Letterman rerun from November with Robert Pattinson, stupid human tricks and musical guest Ray Davies, followed by a rebroadcast of Craig Ferguson with Morgan Freeman and Overtone.

FOX: If you're counting the days 'til "American Idol" returns in January, you'll want to join Kris Allen and Allison Iraheta for "Billboard New Year's Eve Live," starting at 11 PM. They'll be joined by Sean Kingston and Carmen Electra.

PBS: What's with all of this newfangled "rock music"? Turn it down! And, kids, get off my lawn!!! Public TV offers a "Live from Lincoln Center" special, "New York Philharmonic New Year's Eve: Hampson, Gershwin, Copland & Broadway," with baritone Thomas Hampson, from 10 PM-midnight.

E!: "Chelsea Lately" offers a new program with guest Snoop Dogg and panelists Josh Wolf, Chris Franjola and Arden Myrin.

CNN: Despite, or maybe because of, the scandal she caused last year, Kathy Griffin will be back on the air this year with Anderson Cooper. (If you want to relive the magic of 2008, Bravo will rebroadcast the episode of Griffin's "My Life on the D List" that features the incident, along with a slew of Griffin stand-up specials.)

FOX News Channel: It's a red state New Year's Eve with country singer Lee Greenwood, U.K. pop star turned Vegas crooner Matt Goss, and the usual FOX suspects, including Bill O'Reilly, Shepard Smith, Glenn Beck and Greta Van Susteren.

MTV: After broadcasting a live show starring Miley Cyrus last year, MTV is skipping the festivities this time around and will show a "Top 9 of '09" countdown at 11 PM, featuring "the year's biggest stories." My guess: heavy on the Michael Jackson and "Twilight," not so much on Afghanistan and health care reform efforts. Over on VH1, Chris Jericho will host "100 Most Shocking Music Moments."

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas from Talk Show News: it's Conan's yule log and Paul Shaffer as Cher!

Conan O'Brien and I would like to wish you a merry Christmas... and it'll be a very creepy Christmas if you spend too much time watching this:

And while Alec Baldwin was hilarious on last night's show, it was so very disappointing that we didn't get to see Paul Shaffer doing his impression of Cher singing "O Holy Night," because it just isn't Christmas without that bit. Turns out it was trimmed from the broadcast, but it is available on CBS.com as a web exclusive:

And here is a YouTube clip featuring actual footage of the Sonny & Cher Christmas special! (If you want to hear Cher singing the carol, there's a recording here.)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Fun Time: 10 best talk show appearances of the decade

Movieline has made its choices for the top 10 talk show moments of the past decade, including expected faves like Joaquin Phoenix and post-prison Paris Hilton on "Letterman," and a few surprises (who knew the critically reviled Jay Leno would be responsible for three of the top clips?).

I would have to agree with the choice of Warren Zevon's final "Letterman" appearance -- that was truly an unforgettable show -- but in terms of moments that didn't make the list, I'd say Jimmy Kimmel and ex-girlfriend Sarah Silverman produced a best-of-the-decade-worthy bit with "I'm F*@#ing Matt Damon," part of the ABC host's ongoing feud with the "Bourne" star. You know you wanna watch it again:

Do you have a favorite talk show moment from the past decade? Nominate it in the comments.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Jay Leno: Worst show of 2009?

Good thing Jay Leno doesn't care what the critics say, because it looks like his "Jay Leno Show" is becoming a staple of "Worst of the Year" lists. Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker chooses his program as the very worst of 2009, behind even Glenn Beck (he's at #2). "By any measure — comedy, interviews, ratings — this prime-time experiment has failed," writes Tucker. "There's an odd listlessness to Leno's performance these days, as though he's tired of being the public face of NBC's 10 p.m. audience shrinker."

The Washington Post's Hank Stuever also declares Leno the worst of 2009: "10 o'clock's bold experiment? Phhhfffft. Our bedtime isn't that early, after all."

While most critics list five or 10 shows as the worst of the year, Tom Maurstad of the Dallas Morning News doesn't even bother -- he names one show, and you guessed it, it's Leno: "'The Jay Leno Show' is train-wreck TV that just keeps going and going. Its ratings are dismal and it's obliterated what had been the time slot for some of the most beloved and important shows in TV history. "

Time writer and blogger James Poniewozik puts Leno on his list along with other worst-list staples like "Jersey Shore" and "Osbournes: Reloaded." "Didn't some idiot newsmagazine call this 'the future of TV'? Well, yes, and it remains so, as a sign of the cost-cutting and product-placement-ization of the declining big-network medium. But we did not necessarily mean this as a compliment."

TV Squad's Allison Waldman also disses Leno, calling his show "retro in a bad way."

Better luck in 2010, Jay.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Talk Show News Book Club: Paul Shaffer, "We'll Be Here for the Rest of Our Lives"

photoA few years ago, I got a job transcribing tapes for an author who had been hired to ghostwrite the autobiography of a former teen idol and movie star. As I worked on the seemingly endless hours of recordings, I realized that the job of a ghostwriter is to convince readers that if the performer could write as well as he can act and sing, this is the book he would have produced. Of course, it's highly unlikely that Paul Shaffer can craft a sentence as well as he can play a Hammond B3 organ, but co-writer David Ritz has done an excellent job of channeling Shaffer's voice for this smooth-as-silk memoir.

If you sat down to recount your life story, chances are you wouldn't tell it all the way through in perfect chronological order -- there would be digressions and anecdotes told out of order. That's captured in We'll Be Here For the Rest of Our Lives: A Swingin' Show-biz Saga, as, for instance, Paul interrupts a narrative of his college years to talk about his obsession "with the marvelous yearly telethons put on by Mr. Jerry Lewis." A reminiscence about the first time he heard James Brown turns into a story about how he bought "a number of choice items" from the late singer's estate in 2008. Shaffer's early infatuation with soul man Wayne Cochran leads to a story about "the first time I met David Letterman," who, it turns out, was also a fan.

Most of the chapters are short, making the book hard to put down ("just one more chapter!"). You'll read about Paul's boyhood in Thunder Bay, Ontario; his friendships with future stars like Gilda Radner and Martin Short in Toronto; his experiences on "Saturday Night Live" and working with Belushi & Aykroyd on "The Blues Brothers"; and, of course, his years on "Late Night" and "Late Show." The book is stuffed with celebrity anecdotes about everyone from Britney Spears to Don Ho.

Refreshingly, Shaffer isn't afraid to tell it like it is. He talks about times in his life that he goofed, recounting some embarrassing moments with Eric Clapton and Sammy Davis Jr., and shares an anecdote about how his temper got the best of him after a Christmas "Late Show" taping -- unbeknownst to him, his tantrum went out over a live microphone to the audience. Paul comes across as a pretty humble guy, someone who is happy to be a sideman and Letterman's foil. "I'm happy to be the guy who backs up the singers, the strippers, the rockers, and the rollers," he writes. If you've been watching this most swingin' of cats on TV for all these years, his autobiography will be a groovy treat.

If you've read the book, feel free to share your opinions in the comments.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Stephen Colbert gives Sports Illustrated the Colbert Bump

stephen colbert sports illustrated magazine coverHow cool is this -- Stephen Colbert is on the cover of Sports Illustrated! The caption promises "a truthy tale of a sport getting the Colbert Bump," referring to Stephen's campaign to have his "nation" of loyal viewers sponsor the U.S. Speedskating team. (Thanks to No Fact Zone for the cover pic.) According to the Associated Press, fans have donated over $250,000 so far. Talk Show News chipped in 25 bucks -- have you ponied up some cash for our Lycra-clad heroes yet? If not, you can click on the "Donate" link at ColbertNation.com.

The magazine is due to hit newsstands on Wednesday, Dec. 16.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sarah Palin to appear on "Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" tonight

The New York Times is reporting that a certain rogue will be appearing with Conan O'Brien tonight: Sarah Palin will make "a surprise walk-on appearance," writes TV reporter Bill Carter. (Oops -- guess Carter spoiled the surprise.) No word yet on what Palin will be doing on the show. Also due to be guests tonight: Zach Braff, Bear Grylls and Tony Bennett.

Here are a few of O'Brien's best Palin gags, from About.com Political Humor:

"According to a new poll, 42% of Americans say they would vote for Sarah Palin for president in 2012. They also said they'd support her decision to step down in 2013."

"In Sarah Palin's new book, she says when she first laid eyes on her future husband, she said out loud, 'Thank you, God,' which is the same thing the Democrats said when they first laid eyes on Sarah Palin."

"In a recent study, the United States was ranked the 114th happiest country in the world. Then Sarah Palin stepped down. Now we're at 17."

And don't forget William Shatner's hilarious reading of Palin's resignation speech.

Update: Shatner figured in last night's sketch, too; here's a link in case you missed it.

Jimmy Fallon's Christmas sweater giveaway

In the Battle of the Jimmys, I'll admit that I choose Kimmel over Fallon every time -- I find the name of the NBC host's Twitter feed, latenightjimmy, is something of a provocation since there are in fact two late night Jimmys (yeah, I realize it's the name of Fallon's show) -- but I must give props to Fallon's Christmas countdown featuring horrifyingly ugly holiday sweaters. Seeing men put on too-small bedazzled sweaters is always good for a laugh, and as a lover of Christmas kitsch, from lousy music to insanely over-the-top lighting displays, I'm enjoying the unveiling of this dirty dozen of dreadful garments.

Jay Leno: Three months, 1,000+ product placements

Time.com reporter and blogger James Poniewozik writes that Nielsen has released its year-end list of TV's top shows -- for product placement. In first place? Jay Leno, whose show was conceived to be "advertiser friendly." According to Nielsen, there have been 1,015 plugs since the show launched in September.

By the way, that number refers to paid product placements -- such as the frequent shout-outs to Ford (used in the Green Car Challenge) -- as well as unpaid plugs for movies and the like; Nielsen doesn't distinguish.

There were no other talk shows in the top 10. Following Jay were "WWE Monday Night Raw" (with 787 sponsor mentions), "The Biggest Loser" (704), "American Idol" (553), and "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (483).

David Letterman, Craig Ferguson and other late night stars say goodbye to Diane Sawyer

Signing off after over a decade on the popular AM show, Diane Sawyer said goodbye today to "Good Morning America." Offering their best wishes were five late night TV hosts: David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon (who invited Diane over for "Scattergories and Sambuca at my house"), Stephen Colbert and Craig Ferguson. Watch the segment here.

Sawyer is leaving "GMA" to replace Charles Gibson as the anchor of ABC's "World News." She'll begin her new early-evening gig on Dec. 21. George Stephanopoulos will replace Sawyer starting Monday on "GMA."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Craig Ferguson: His 1,000th show is coming up!

On Tuesday, Dec. 15, "Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" will celebrate its 1,000th telecast with a special lineup of guests -- and puppets. Here's who will be partying with Craig that night:

The show will be hosted by Wavy the puppet. Joining the alligator are humans Kristen Bell, Maria Bello, Jason Schwartzman, and L.A. pop band the Broken West. And from the movie "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," Jason Segel will appear along with his puppet Dracula.

Ferguson became the third "Late Late Show" host on Jan. 3, 2005. The program was previously hosted by Tom Snyder, who presided over 777 shows between 1995-1999, and Craig Kilborn, who holds the record with his 1,190 broadcasts between 1999-2004.

David Letterman: A Christmas tradition

There's nothing better during the holidays than tradition, is there? For fans of "Late Show with David Letterman," one of the most beloved traditions is the annual Christmas appearance of Jay Thomas and Darlene Love, so I just wanted to reassure Dave fans that they are scheduled to be guests on the Dec. 23 episode. Also on that night: actress Maggie Gyllenhaal, promoting her new film "Crazy Heart." (Edited 12/16 to add that Maggie will now be appearing on Monday's show, and Alec Baldwin is due to take her place on Wednesday.)

Here's a 1995 clip of Love performing "Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home") on "Late Show":

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Colbert's new nemesis: How do you pronounce "DeSeve"?

On last night's "Colbert Report," Stephen featured a "Who's Attacking Me Now?" segment which took to task White House advisor G. Edward DeSeve. While poking fun at the administration's Recovery.gov web site, Colbert singled out Recovery Act Coordinator G. Edward DeSeve as particularly untrustworthy, pronouncing his last name as "Deceive."

A few days ago, DeSeve struck back, referring to the Comedy Central host as "Stefan Colburt." "Not only did he call me out, but he perverted the pronunciation of my name," said DeSeve, perverting the pronunciation of Colbert's name.

"You're just steamed because I nailed you hot and hard, and neither Stephen Colbert or Stefan Colburt back down," the faux pundit fired back. But how do you pronounce DeSeve? It took some Internet searching, but I finally found a 2002 interview with DeSeve, then a professor at the University of Maryland, from NPR's "Talk of the Nation." Host Neal Conan introduced "Ed DeSeve," pronouncing "Seve" in such a way that it rhymes with the first syllable of "heaven" or "Kevin" -- or like "seven" without the "n."

You're welcome, G.E.D.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Bonnie Hunt: Saying goodbye to her talk show?

Just a couple hours ago, my husband and I were watching a TiVo'd episode of "The Bonnie Hunt Show" -- we're not regular viewers, but recorded it today because one of our favorite comedians, Patton Oswalt, was on. "This show is really cheap-looking, like something on public access," said my spouse. (It didn't help that Oswalt was promoting a movie, "Big Fan," which currently exists in something of a netherworld -- no longer in theaters, not yet out on DVD.) Hunt herself is a reliably good talk show guest and has a pleasant personality, but the program never seemed to catch on. Another likable blonde, Ellen DeGeneres, gets all the daytime buzz.

And now, TV blogger Josef Adalian is reporting that "The Bonnie Hunt Show" will finish out its second season, but after that, it's bye-bye Bonnie. "Bonnie Hunt has told her staffers that her daytime talk show will end its two-season run in September," he reports. "Indeed, many syndicated insiders have considered 'Bonnie' a dead show walking since the middle of last season, when it became clear that the show's ratings weren't improving." In addition, stations airing "Bonnie" must pay a licensing fee to producer Warner Bros., instead of the more desirable barter fee (stations would rather not pay up front for a show, especially one like "Bonnie" that draws middling ratings; with the barter system, they split ad revenues with the syndicator).

Adalian states that the show's ratings haven't improved -- "Bonnie" has averaged around a 0.9 rating this fall, the same as last year. By comparison, "Ellen" scored a 2.3 in the same period, according to Broadcasting & Cable.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Jimmy Kimmel: Costco cover boy

jimmy kimmelTalk Show News always likes to spotlight the latest magazine covers featuring late night stars. So far, we've seen hosts on the covers of publications like Playboy, Entertainment Weekly and Time. Maybe membership warehouse store Costco's magazine, The Costco Connection, doesn't have the same prestige, but Jimmy Kimmel is a self-described Costco fanatic and had even expressed the desire on his show to have his mug on the cover.

The article, which is available online for non-members, features Kimmel's shopping tips and musings on his love for the store. "This is my Disneyland," Jimmy told reporter Steve Fisher. "This is where I realize it's great to be an American, when I walk through Costco." Kimmel, a member since 1994, reveals that he bought his ex-wife's engagement ring at the store, and says his last wish is to be buried in a Costco casket.

Conan's feeling Comcastic

Earworm of the day: listen to Conan O'Brien's musical salute to Comcast's acquisition of NBC, and just try to get it out of your head. It's "Com-com-com-Comcastic!"

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Jimmy Kimmel: Adam Lambert uninvited from his show

"American Idol" runner-up Adam Lambert had been scheduled to appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on Dec. 17 to perform songs from his new album For Your Entertainment. However, following his controversial performance on ABC's "American Music Awards," it's obvious that someone at the network doesn't want to give the singer any more air time. Along with the nixed "Kimmel" spot, he has also been removed from the lineup of "Dick Clark's New Years Rockin' Eve."

However, NBC is more than happy to give the star a place on its airwaves. The Twitter feed for "The Jay Leno Show" announced earlier today that Lambert will be appearing on that program on Dec. 21, and the publicist for "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" just sent out a new set of listings which included the "Idol" favorite on Dec. 14.

And Lambert hasn't been completely banned from the Alphabet Network -- Barbara Walters will be interviewing him for her "Most Fascinating People" special, to air Dec. 9 at 10 PM, along with fellow pop provocateur Lady Gaga.

Jay Leno: Move him to 8 PM?

Now that Comcast has acquired NBC Universal from the Sheinhardt Wig Company -- uh, I mean General Electric -- TV writers are pondering what it could mean for the suffering Peacock Network. Of course, the deal could take 18 months to finalize thanks to regulatory hurdles, but why not speculate?

Last month, I suggested that a slimmed-down "Jay Leno Show" could work at 11 PM. Now, Josef Adalian of TV MoJoe comes up with another idea: put Jay on at 8 and move "serious, groundbreaking drama" back to the 10 o'clock hour. Apparently, NBC initially suggested this to Leno, who vetoed the plan, but Adalian says, "If Leno objects, NBC should simply break up with him." Jay's sagging ratings at 10 "are clearly hurting local newscasts and, worse, deny [Conan] O'Brien any chance at success (CBS' 10 p.m. shows give David Letterman three times as many viewers as a lead-in and promotional base)."

Of course, it's not like NBC has any "groundbreaking" dramas in its pipeline, so it would take a while to get that plan up and running.

Monday night's overnight ratings brought more bad news for Jay: a new broadcast came in third, after reruns of "Castle" and "CSI: Miami," with an anemic 1.3 rating in the 18-49 demographic.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Get well soon, Reege!

Who doesn't love Regis Philbin? The 78-year-old talk show host, who holds the Guinness World Record for having logged more hours than any other TV personality, had a successful hip surgery and should be back on the air early next year. In the meantime, Kelly Ripa will co-host with a variety of substitutes, from frequent Reege replacements Anderson Cooper and Jeff Probst to her hubby Mark Consuelos and, on Friday's show, actor Christian Slater.

In case you missed it last week, here's Regis taking over "Jimmy Kimmel Live":