Saturday, February 12, 2005


There was a bit of a scandal over the airing of's commercial during the Super Bowl - enough of one to get the second airing of the spot near the two-minute warning (as well as a "Brought to you by..." voice-over) yanked.

In the ad, an actress named Nikki Capelli was testifying in front of a censorship panel when suddenly the strap on her halter top broke, nearly causing a wardrobe malfuntion. But it did draw attention to the URL printed across her chest:

The Super Bowl producers and the NFL (who allegedly demanded that the commercial be pulled, although they deny it) may have prevented a second showing, but the damage had already been done. Nikki Capelli and her own version of the Goodyear blimps were now a part of the TV Universe.

(Why were the Powers That Be so afraid of a repeat performance? Did they think that the next time the outcome would change? I don't think Sam Beckett ('Quantum Leap') or Frank Parker ('7 Days') would have leapt or back-stepped in order to make sure we got an eyeful of Ms. Cappelli's attributes.

The Super Bowl producers tried to prevent two other ads from appearing; one by Airborne featuring Mickey Rooney and his naked butt, and the other for Budweiser with a behind-the-scenes look at what really caused Janet Jackson's own wardrobe malfunction.

But even though they succeeded in keeping us from learning the truth or from seeing Rooney's booty, they still found their way into the world of the Cathode Ray. Both ads found exposure in news programs and even the morning shows. (Although Rooney's booty was now more pixilated than dimpled.) So for all intents and purposes the Super Bowl Star Chamber failed in squelching it entirely.

And so the producers of all three commercials got what they wanted in the first place - exposure for their ads and thus their products. They may have sounded the trumpets of indignation in their cries against censorship, but the news coverage was free publicity.

It all reminds me of Susan Lucci's "shame" - seventeen years without winning an Emmy for her work on 'All My Children'. And yet each year, people came away remembering Susan Lucci and never remembering who actually won for Best Actress. And she got several TV movie deals and a chance to host 'Saturday Night Live'.

But once she won? Where else has she been besides in Corinth?

So the best way to get the most for your blipvert buck when it comes to the Super Bowl? Produce a horrible commercial that you know will never get airplay, cry "Censorship!" when it is rejected, and make sure the evening news show the ad often.

Max Bialystock would be proud.


Wednesday, February 9, 2005


It's not enough that Donald Trump has managed enough appearances in fictional settings as himself to guarantee himself a plush slot in the TV Crossover Hall of Fame; now he'll be fictionalized totally and played by an actor in a TV movie.

ABC has given the go-ahead to an unauthorized movie about the real estate mogul, who is enjoying something of a career and popularity resurgence in his role as host of NBC's hit series "The Apprentice."

"Donald Trump is the American version of royalty," said Quinn Taylor, senior vp movies and miniseries at ABC. "He's probably one of the most fascinating and intriguing men certainly of my generation who has continually kept himself at the top of his game. That he was able to do it is worth exploring."

Trump will not be involved in the as-yet-untitled project, which is based on Gwenda Blair's business-oriented book "The Trumps: Three Generations That Built an Empire."

Taylor added that the movie will cover the past 25 years or so in Trump's life, but will not include details on "Apprentice," which does air on a competing network.

So much for Television Without Borders. Oh, well. It would have been fun to see a fictional version of Omarosa!

Casting will begin immediately, and the project could go into production as early as March, Taylor said, adding that no airdate has been set.



Months ago I wrote an essay here called "Boston Commonality", in which I hoped that some of the other Boston-based shows might one day link to 'Boston Legal'.

My wish was granted........

Chi McBride will reprise his role of Steven Harper from "Boston Public" in an upcoming controversial episode of "Boston Legal," it's been announced.

McBride will play the school principal who bans certain network news coverage on school grounds. The episode, entitled "Let Sales Ring," will air on SUNDAY, MARCH 13 (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network.

McBride also played the role on the 'Boston Legal' predecessor, 'The Practice'. So of course that means he'll now be eligible for inclusion in the TV Crossover Hall of Fame!

Maybe I should do a whole year's worth of DEK characters with Kelley inducted as well!

You stinker!




The prodigal son is returning to the fold on a regular basis... in a way.

This news story just came in Tuesday night:

LOS ANGELES - Chris Noth's guest appearance this weekend on "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" is the start of something "big".

Noth, who left the original "Law & Order" 10 years ago, will become a regular on the spinoff beginning next season, series spokeswoman Pam Ruben Golum said Tuesday.

He will split duties with current series lead Vincent D'Onofrio, who's continuing as police Detective Robert Goren. Each actor will appear in 11 episodes for the fifth season. The NBC series airs at 9 p.m. EST Sunday.

Noth's casting will ease the work load for D'Onofrio, who was hospitalized briefly last year for exhaustion. "The hardest job in show business is being a single lead on an hour drama series," said "Law & Order" creator and executive producer Dick Wolf. "Vincent has done an unbelievable job for the last four seasons, but after 3 1/2 years, the grueling pace finally took its toll."

He called Noth's addition to the show an "ideal solution." Noth, who was Sarah Jessica Parker's love interest, Mr. Big, on HBO's "Sex and the City," will again play police Detective Mike Logan, his character from 1990-95 on "Law & Order."

My thanks to Yahoo! news for that story.


Tuesday, February 8, 2005


Although I was specifically looking for crossovers in the Super Bowl commercials, some of them struck me for their potential or just hit me funny.

The blipvert for the Ford Mustang 2005 convertible - This had the spooky aura of an opening sequence for 'The X-Files'. The cop approaches a car at a stop light in the middle of nowhere during an hellacious snowstorm.

The guy at the wheel is dressed for a Beach Boys video, not for the movie "Fargo". And he's frozen solid; his skin is like glazed porcelain.The voiceover warns that this is why convertibles are not introduced in the winter.

But was it the frigid temperatures that did the guy in? Maybe it was an alien attack or an experiment by the government gone wrong.

I saw the commercial several times over and it still creeped me out.

The one that I found to be gut-wrenchingly funny was for Ameriquest, who do something with mortgages.

A guy is making dinner before his wife gets home, but while he's chopping the scallions, their white fluffy cat spills the spaghetti sauce all over the floor and then gets itself smeared in it.

The guy picks up the cat by the scruff of the neck with one hand (now getting the sauce all over the front of his white shirt) while holding the big knife in the other.

And that's when the Missus comes home.

The moral: "Don't judge too quickly. We don't."

It didn't serve its intended purpose to get me to learn more about the company (I've got nothing to mortgage anyway - soul? What soul?), but it certainly went straight to my level of funny business.



Back when I was still running my Tubeworld Dynamic website, (thank you, thank you), I did a spoof report on the new version of 'The Weber Show', which would be all about the alien invasion of Dalek-like robots who lived among us disguised as barbeque grills.

Even had a few nice shots from TV sitcoms with those evil red round jobs lurking in the background.

So it was a kick in the head to see that Dunkin' Donuts splurged with their advertising bucks to carry that idea further. They were introducing their new grilled steak breakfast sandwich with the proposal that we should all have those sandwiches in the morning and let our grills have the day off.

Even though it's the middle of winter, the blipvert was geared to summery images of grills enjoying their new-found freedom. They were out fishing, hanging by the pool, water-skiing, swinging on tire swings, and lolling in hammocks.

But if any of them were plotting the eventual overthrow and subjugation of humanity, we weren't privy to their diabolical plans......

I think we've got the basis for Jack Bauer's next '24' hour cycle!



Kyle Thompson and Dawn Carpenter had a son on Feb. 4, 2004, a couple of months after the UPN science fiction show 'Jake 2.0' was canceled after less than four months on the air. They liked the name of the series and so they named their baby boy Jake Matthew Thompson 2.0.

"He's like an upgrade of us, the better version," Thompson said. The state birth certificate, however, reads "Jake Matthew Thompson Two Point Zero".

Carpenter, a housekeeper at a convalescent home and an aspiring actress, said some co-workers have told her that when her son reaches school age, classmates will make fun of his name, "but I don't worry about it. They made fun of me because my nose is small. They make fun of you no matter what you do."

This seems to be a growing trend. Over the last year, a handful of couples have been naming their children after the sports network ESPN... usually as a middle name. And there have been a few baby girls who've been named after the networks award - the Espy.

Well, this is nothing new. And my second cousin would tell Mrs. Puny Nose not to worry about what they call her son in the playground. He says that the kid will weather it just fine.

And if anybody can vouch for that, it's Meat-head Dabkowski.



With so much focus on the commercials that aired during Sunday's Super Bowl, I thought I might focus on commercials in Toobworld for the coming week.

And why not start with a barn-burner?

Daddy is reading "Little Red Riding Hood" to his daughter. Providing the commentary and atmosphere for the tale are such PBS stalwarts as Jim Lehrer and Charlie Rose, and luminaries like Josh Bell and Bernadette Peters. Even kids' fave Arthur gets involved.

Susan Savage provides the PBS mantra: "There's more than one side to a story and you deserve to hear them all."

It's a great commercial for its crossover potential. It's also heart-warming, inspiring, and patently false.

If PBS truly believed that we as its audience deserves to hear all sides of a story, they would have stood up to that Puritanical witch who's in charge of the Department of Education. She complained about an episode of 'Postcards From Buster' in which Buster Bunny visited a family on a Vermont farm, where he learned all about collecting sap from maple trees and how to transform it into syrup.

What problem did Witchie-Poopoo have with the episode?

The family Buster visited had two mommies. No daddy.

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings denounced an episode of children's TV series "Postcards from Buster" in which its rabbit star Buster Baxter is shown visiting a lesbian couple and their children.

"Many parents would not want their young children exposed to the lifestyles portrayed in this episode," Spellings wrote to the president of PBS, shortly after her appointment. The secretary was previously an adviser to the White House.

Never mind that the kids in that family, and families like theirs all across the country, must feel as if had no worth in the eyes of their own government.

And then, like an ayatollah who would charge the families of those executed for the bullets, the Wicked Witch of the West Wing demanded that PBS pay back the money used to underwrite this episode.

The PBS logo shows a humanized letter "P".... It should be shown bending over and ready to take one for the President up the backside. PBS had no problem becoming Bush's bitch - even before the witch complained, Public TV pulled the episode. (But they did offer it to any station that requested it.)

This was just the opening salvo, tele-folks; just to see if they could get away with it. Ultimately I'm sure they'll put more pressure on PBS to censor other programs not to the likings of the far right hard-line whack jobs intent on forcing their narrow-minded fundamentalist views on everybody.

What I'm hoping for is that the people involved in this commercial will speak out against this campaign by the Bushies. Let's hear Jim Lehrer and Charlie Rose speak up for the diversity of America before some functionary in the Bush Junta comes after them.

Or have they already spoken out, but the press didn't cover it because it wasn't as "newsworthy" as the original story? Is it already too late? Will Norm Abram be rebuilding prisons for the PBS revolutionaries?

Am I too much of an alarmist over a cartoon bunny show?

It's only the beginning, pal. Stay tuned; it ain't th-th-th-that's all, folks!.


PS - If they're so concerned over the decline of "moral values" when it comes to Buster Bunny, then how come they never demanded that Donald Duck should put on pants???

Monday, February 7, 2005


I got this from Zap2It's TV Gal, so you know it's the goods:

"There's always a crossover episode during sweeps. This time it is between 'Third Watch' and 'Medical Investigations' on Friday, Feb. 18."

This brings 'Medical Investigations' into the blend with 'ER' as they did a crossover with 'Third Watch' a few years back.

There are plenty of other connections to be made, due to in-jokes and appearances by people as themselves, but this is really the only major, official, one.



When James Franciscus appeared as 'Longstreet' thirty years ago, I had no problem in accepting him as a blind investigator for an insurance company. I could buy into the idea that he was able to defend himself, thanks to the martial arts training he was receiving from Bruce Lee's character. It seems to me (and I'm the most sedentary guy you can imagine, so I'm not about to test this theory out myself!) that all he needed was contact with an opponent to fully visualize his location, his balance, and thus gain the upper hand in vanquishing him.

It's now about thirty years later, and we're about to get a new blind investigator in 'Blind Justice', which will be taking over the 'NYPD Blue' time slot. Ron Eldard will be playing Detective Jim Dunbar who was blinded in the line of duty but still comes back to work as a police investigator.

So far, I can buy the concept. Even if every cop I know in New York would definitely take the pension and the disability and get out. (Trust me - I polled all of the ones I know.)

The great thing about the TV Universe is that there is that willing suspension of disbelief on the part of the audience. We can buy the concept of FBI agents investigating the paranormal and finding aliens under our beds; witches married to mortals in suburban Connecticut; talking horses, talking cars, talking toasters.

The only problem is that most times, the premise is not supported by the follow-up of good writing.

It's going to take a couple of Pulitzer Prize winning novelists and Shakespeare reincarnated to pull off one of the concepts in 'Blind Justice' - that not only is Detective Dunbar back on the force despite being blind, but that he's allowed to carry a gun.

And he actually USES the gun in the line of duty!

And according to Eldard, the actual street cops - who know authenticity in this milieu - had a universal reaction to the notion of him having a gun: "F____ing ridiculous!"

But Eldard, being the good foot soldier that he is as the face for the production, sticks up for the idea that his character might be carrying a gun. "Bottom line, I could never be out there with a gun. There's no way a blind guy could draw the gun. But you know there's so many great pieces of art that are... completely unrealistic."

First off, the jury hasn't weighed in yet with an opinion on this being a work of art. But even so, it doesn't matter how unrealistic a show gets, so long as it remains grounded in a basic believability. And this idea pops that balloon.

The show premieres March 8th, and there are probably a handful of episodes already produced and ready to go. But it's still not too late to scuttle the idea of Dunbar carrying a gun and thus salvage the believability of the show.

Even though he's no longer a detective, Adrian 'Monk' still solves crimes for the San Francisco Police Department. And he gets along pretty well in handling those cases without one. Of course, considering his OCD, "pretty well" is a relative term. But the show in general has no problem in having a main character exist without the need to hold a firearm.

Maybe it's some kind of sub-conscious penis substitute that either Dunbar or Eldard needs to keep in hand.



All of these so-called "reality" shows last a lot longer than fifteen minutes, and yet the people who appear on them refuse to leave the spotlight when their fame should have already flamed out.

One of the latest examples is that of John Willenborg, who was a contestant on the second edition of 'The Apprentice'. And although the man with the alien hair follicles atop his head sent him scurrying from the boardroom, Willenborg has found new on-air life as a field reporter for 'NASCAR Nation' on the Speed Channel.

Better to stick with a non-fictional setting, at least; he can't harm too many tele-folks there. Let these "reality" personalities infeSt their own corner of the TV Universe; I'm not keen on seeing them showing up as fictional versions of themselves in the many sitcoms and dramas around the dial.

But as Dennis Miller used to say, that's my opinion. I may be wrong.


Sunday, February 6, 2005


Probably the most famous Super Bowl commercial of all would be that Coca-Cola spot from 1979. It showed a hobbled Mean Joe Greene of the Pittsburgh Steelers rebuffing the adoration of a kid in the tunnels leading back to the locker rooms. The kid offers Mean Joe his Coke and in appreciation, the linebacker gives the kid his grimy, dirty, sweaty jersey.

"Thanks, Mean Joe!"

It made such an impact by tugging on the heart-strings of America that three years later a TV movie was filmed to expand the storyline. This 1982 made-for-TV movie 'The Steeler and the Pittsburgh Kid' was the first feature film based on a commercial.

The commercial starred Tommy Okun with Mean Joe Greene, but it was Henry Thomas - soon to become more famous for "E.T." and also seen in "Legends Of The Fall" and "The Gangs Of New York", - who portrayed the Pittsburgh Kid in the tele-flick.

Therefore, by the powers vested in me by... well, me, I declare that the Coca-Cola commercial took place in Earth Prime-Time. But 'The Steeler And The Pittsburgh Kid' must be relegated to Earth Prime-Time Delayed due to the recasting.

Will any commercial from this year's game have that kind of impact to inspire a movie? We'll just have to wait and view.