Happy Father's Day guys! It's going to be a June sports bonanza on DirecTV as always. Sports are one of the few programming categories that just don't lend themselves to delayed or binge-watching. We just have to see these events live! And it really does have it all: thrills, heroes, drama, jubilation, comedy and sex, at times running the entire gamut of human emotions. Plus, sports fans really feel like they can make a difference in the outcome, which no one knows about in advance. Unless it's wrestling or roller derby! But hopefully in no other sports.
Mandalay Entertainment CEO Peter Guber is also a co-owner of the NBA Golden State Warriors and L.A. Dodgers. He told me "hopefully my extensive background in film allows me to overcome the constant fear of failure or the unknowing, the always unpredictable in trying new things. There's always that fear of failing in any new sports venture. We'd been trying our best to move the Warriors from Oakland back to San Francisco while building a state-of-the-art arena there near the waterfront." The Warriors, once relocated, will revert back to their original name of the San Francisco Warriors. Guber and his associates locally faced heated opposition to building yet another SF venue on the water at their first choice location at Piers 30-32 near ATT Park (SF Giants park) to a less desirable inland spot. Still a great venue site that now won't meet local government or voter resistance to having citizen ocean views compromised. "Problem averted," he said. And why would basketball fans, there for competitive excitement, have any need to also take in an ocean view from their seats or boxes anyway? The focus should always be on the court or field.
My City By The Bay is stoked that a Paul McCartney heavily symbolic concert will be the very last event of any kind occurring at windy Candlestick Park before it's demolished next spring. The Beatles in 1966 played their last true concert there ending with songs Long Tall Sally and Rock & Roll Music (written in 1957 by Chuck Berry). Not sure why the lads were still playing early-day covers when they had a treasure trove of newer classics they'd written and scored with like "Help." Plus the concert (just $4 to attend) was only 47 minutes long. No one could hear above all the girls screaming besides the poor amplification systems at the time which was why McCartney later said they decided to stop touring. I'll be amongst the 48,000+ there this August. Paul's taken in major East Coast MLB, NFL, NHL and NBA games this past year, as he lives a portion of the year in NYC. Also heard he's a fan of UFC champ Jon Jones! Ringo "still fancies European football. That's Liverpool soccer."
The NFL hired WWE Exec of Global Digital Media Perkins Miller away as their new Chief Digital Officer. Miller was instrumental in helping create WWE's new Network. He reported directly to Stephanie McMahon when she was still Exec VP of Creative (she's now Chief Brand Officer). Miller was named amongst Sports Business Journal's Top 20 Most Influential in Digital Sports. Former WWE lead announcing legend Jim Ross is working currently for Fox Sports (while still quietly part of WWE's family) and hosts his one man "Evening With J.R." events all over the country at major venues. He wowed a SRO crowd in New Orleans where he cut his teeth for Bill Watt's MidSouth/UWF group recently and can call collegiate and pro football with the very best.
Meg Ryan will do the off-camera narration for the new CBS sitcom "How I Met Your Dad." Ryan once ruled the film box office as "America's Sweetheart." "I'll assume the role Bob Saget had in the original series (How I Met Your Mother) that this is sort of being spun off. I also hope to be back on Showtime's Web Therapy soon too."
Sofia Vergara said she's "been engaged for two years now but we don't have a set date yet. I'm just too busy with my tv show, movies and everything. I liked working with John Turturro and Woody Allen in Fading Gigolo. John had me really turn it down and play subtle in the film. Women and men will love it!" Responding to our Mike Marin, I had Joan Rivers back on my radio show recently where she confirmed that her outrageous quips on E!'s Fashion Police have usually always been concocted by writers before they even start taping. "They keep me up on anything I may not be aware of at my age in pop-culture. You don't really think I know who Nas is sleeping with do you?!" Her usual retort to critics, especially when she regularly causes a stir "is to tell them to just grow up. Remind these people this has always been a comedy show!"
INDUSTRY Q & A
Q: Why do so many programs start doing contests in February and May?
A: In the TV business landscape, those are still termed "Sweeps Months", where traction and more eyeballs are every bit as important as social media likes. Typically syndicated shows from Jeopardy to Wendy Williams, Extra and even Ellen have them.
Great movie set designers often don't get the credit they deserve. Not even at last month's Academy Awards. They're responsible for finding and providing the director with set furnishings, wall coverings, artwork, cars, aircraft and more to help make the film complete and believable. Especially with period pieces from The Bible to American Hustle. One of last year's best was Her's clever rosy-red lampshades and walls illustrating that Joaquin Phoenix was living life through rose-colored glasses. For one of TV's best, TNT's third season of Dallas has award-winning set designers Richard Berg and Cynthia Cidre. Like Trekies, Dallas' fans call themselves Forkies (after Southfork ranch). Series star Linda Grey wants everyone to know she personally writes her own Tweets. Disclosure-time: I had a non-speaking role in the last original Dallas CBS season as an emergency hospital doctor and love this new, darker film-noir version.
It's Not In The Hole
George Lucas' planned Presidio Museum at the famous vacated military site along the San Fran Pacific Ocean (oft used in Hitchcock classics) was rebuffed by elected area officials. However, he can propose it for a nearby location and already has offices there. Another area semi-scandal is AT&T's Annual Metro Classic (formerly Bing Crosby's Clambake Golf Tournament paring pros with entertainers) disinviting comic George Lopez recently with everyone in an uproar. The San Francisco Chronicle says former Carmel, CA mayor Clint Eastwood "Dirty Harry'd him", allegedly for using foul language at the Wednesday night dinner show for the tourney's many volunteers which skews to a conservative crowd. The Chron also reports the same fate occurred a few years back to rockers Neil Young and Glenn Frey. The "Crosby" was once loaded with Bing's pals like Bob Hope and Phil Harris and still needs comic relief with even regular Bill "it's in the hole" Murray cancelling this year stating he was doing national press with producer George Clooney for Monuments Men. Murray wows the crowds every year with his clowning and wild outfits while Lopez has been quiet but said "I hope to return since I always have fun there." Tournament director Steve John told me "it'll get fixed. We usually rotate people anyway. George'll be back. We'll have him back."
WWE Hall-of-Famer Jim Ross is now announcing for Fox Sports while Hulk Hogan and Undertaker have returned to WWE in time for Wrestlemania this month on pay-per-view. Undefeated Ronda Roussey remains one of UFC's top global media draws.
Comic actor JB Smoove has a great new show (Four Courses) on MSG Network where he has dinner with comics, actors and athletes while discussing current affairs. Jim Norton and Judah Freidlander (30 Rock) have been his funniest guests so far. Recently interviewed Golden State Warriors superstar Steph Curry who's birth name is Wardell. "Now you see why I changed it! We're no longer going to be that Cinderella team, that's all in the past. We're going to prove that we're credible contenders every year." Not so credible was Robin Thicke jokingly blaming "getting Twerked on MTV" as the reason for the break-up of his eight year marriage.
INDUSTRY Q & A
Q: What's a Location Scouts role in TV, commercials and movies? - Curt McDonald, Los Angeles
A: Similar to set designers, they "scout" relevant locations to film at well before a project even begins shooting and then recommend them. They typically try to find the best spots in keeping with the story being told and hopefully close to the principle filming areas (whether it's a scenic beach, a church, cemetery, carnival or state fair, etc). In the last few years, Location Scouts have even recommended stand-in, less-costly "outsourced" places to film principle filming overall (like shooting in a beautiful Canadian town) that look like where the story is supposed to be set (a classically quaint U.S. suburb).
As of this writing, the Academy Awards haven't aired yet but those spectacular nominated films have been incredible (12 Years a Slave, Gravity, her, Nebraska, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Philomena and The Wolf Of Wall Street are all radically different from each other).
The March 2nd telecast seems to alternate between edgy hosts (Seth MacFarlane, Chris Rock, Jon Stewart) and gentler ones like Ellen DeGeneres who oversees this year. Many readers emailed they're back to missing Billy Crystal who became a semi-permanent host just like Bob Hope and Johnny Carson once were. And just how much is an Oscar or even an Oscar nomination worth? Often, an awful lot. Many movies see a huge increase in gross revenue right after the AA's air, even if they'd won no awards because many viewers finally are truly aware of them. The ton of non-stop public press especially in that seven-week-stretch between nominations and the awards themselves, also really packs a box-office punch. People become curious and flock to theatres and so far in 2014, we've had record attendances. Of course you can always kick back and wait for your favorites to appear on DirecTV. It might just be safer after several major incidents in theatres over cell-phone-use disturbances.
So far, no Jay Leno movement with CNN on a possible new show yet. Leno said he wouldn't tackle another late-nighter after he left The Tonight Show last month. "My 22-year run was fantastic. I couldn't recreate any of that with another show, but I do want to keep working. I'll stay busy with stand-up for now and try something new later. Maybe," he told CBS. "Joy Behar lost both her Current show and left The View and she's busier than ever with her comedy dates, so I hope to do that too."
Walking Dead's Emily Kinney just released a studio version of Tom Waits' "Hold On" used regularly on the show. "I sang in church growing up in Nebraska, little local shows and theater," she said. "In 2008, I moved to New York to play Anna in the musical Spring Awakening, and was told I should both sing and act. WD was a blessing and I also just played a role on The Following. And written more songs to record like "Last Chance" which is appropriate for my main tv series!"
The 21-year-old founder of Oculus Rift gaming headset was the hit at the annual Consumer Electronics Show winning all top "Best In Show" awards for his virtual-reality head-mounted display. Palmer Luckey said "I'm the luckiest kid nerd here! Putting on my goggles makes you feel like you're part of any gaming world you choose. It's like you're actually immersed in the game with a full 360-view." Comic great Kevin Hart got ABC's green light for an autobiographical sitcom pilot about his trying to stay friends with his ex-wife while raising their kids. Former Community exec producers Garrett Donovan and Neil Goldman will oversee.
Q: When did the first television ad occur?
A: The very first TV ad by Bulova Watches cost only $9 in airtime for the 10-second spot with voiceover under a still image of, what else, a watch. It aired before a 1941 baseball game broadcast. Last month during the Super Bowl, a 30-second spot cost $4 Million in addition to massive production costs.
Q: How long was the very first Academy Awards broadcast?
A: Less than fifteen minutes in 1929 and was totally an experiment with the winners already having been announced months in advance. It was held in Hollywood and primarily a party atmosphere for industry colleagues to celebrate each other's work. Names were just read quickly during the banquet and there were no dance numbers or skits. The first televised AAs occurred in 1953 and now run an average of 3.7 hours.
When NBC's always excellent Winter Olympics coverage ends, it will usher in a new late night television era. The Tonight Show has been the granddaddy of all talk shows since TV pioneering geniuses Steve Allen and Ernie Kovacs were the first hosts back in 1954. That was when stars weren't on simply to pitch product like a new movie or autobiography (now called "furthering their brand").
Retiring-against-his-will host Jay Leno is still allegedly negotiating with former boss Jeff Zuckerberg to possibly do a show on CNN (which dumped Larry King). It would be something if a new Leno show began at 11:30 pm weeknights!
Not only is Jimmy Fallon succeeding Leno on 2/17 as host of The Tonight Show (we've heard that one before) but it's moving back to New York after Johnny Carson brought it to Burbank, California in 1972 to be closer to where the stars lived and worked. Saturday Night Live's creator Lorne Michaels now becomes one of entertainment's most powerful men, controlling not just Saturday Nights, but all of late night NBC programming as SNL's head writer Seth Meyers takes over Fallon's Late Show. Seth will reportedly pop-up on SNL's news segments when Michaels needs him. There's no problem in getting A-listers for the new Tonight Show as Fallon was surrounded by Paul McCartney, Madonna, Barry Gibb, Chris Rock and others on-stage recently. Speaking of Sir Paul, he may highlight the very last event of any kind at the soon-to-be-demolished legendary Candles Stick Park in San Francisco. The Beatles played their last official public gig there in 1966 (a few songs recorded live for Abbey Road on top of a London rooftop was not considered an actual "concert").
Betheny and Arsenio Hall's new talkers aren't drawing rave ratings and reportedly may be on "the bubble" if things don't improve. Rachael Ray's show has been demoted to "less-desirable channels and time-slots" in several markets like San Francisco.
All of WWE's shows are up for renewal with NBC-Universal on the 15th after it "quietly lined-up rights to expire simultaneously in an effort to secure higher fees." Whatever the eventual outcome (if NBC accepts what should be WWE's higher monetary requests), all shows will stay on the current network until October. If another network enters the picture, all shows would move. They're again hinting they might do their Smackdown show live Fridays, dependent upon how much additional revenue they might get in deals. WWE currently gets $139 million/year in tv licensing fees but they now want "NASCAR money." NASCAR airs 154 races (1.38 average rating and a whopping $820 million/year in their current 10 year deal). WWE broadcasts 156 episodes/year (2.2 rating) for far less money. I covered their Wrestlemania 2015 press conference in Santa Clara, CA (Silicone Valley) where they promised that will be the most "wired" event in history. WWE owner Vince McMahon and his daughter Stephanie (married to wrestler Paul "HHH" Levesque) spared no expense bringing in many top performers/wrestlers but would not confirm what everyone already knew: that Dallas had already "won" as the site for Wrestlemania 32 the following year and that their dedicated WWE "cable channel" will reportedly only be a streaming site and not an actual channel or Video On Demand for-pay product like their old WWE 24/7 aka Classics On Demand.
Q: Who was the very first Tonight Show announcer?
A: Game show legend Gene Rayburn.
Q: When was the Tonight Show first aired in color?
A: On September 19, 1960 before most of North America even had heard of color tv.
Q: Who was the first-ever sitting president on the Tonight Show?
A: President Obama was the first late-night guest on March 19, 2009 although former presidents Carter, Bush and Clinton had appeared before that.
Happy 2014 everyone! Superbowl 48 is coming up. Per-second ad-sales rates will be at record highs and advertisers promise more ground-breaking, state-of-the-art commercials than ever. Odds have Seattle facing Denver for the first SB in 38 years played outdoors in predicted cold weather (MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey), but it's anyone's guess at this writing. Hope your team is in it.
Dame Judi Dench has won nearly every tv and movie award possible and her classic BBC-produced As Time Goes By remains the stuff of legend on most PBS American affiliates stations. "When I'm not doing films or tv, I like keeping myself busy on-stage. I can't wait for America to see our new season of Downton Abbey. I hope our friends will be riveted as I am by it. I also plan to continue acting until they put me away in an old wooden box or I drop on-set."
WWE superstar and Harvard law grad David Otunga says he's been away enjoying family time supporting fiancé Jennifer Hudson. "Our son David Jr and I were so proud of her getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame recently. Really mind-blowing. Don't worry, I'll be back on RAW soon." David's been on the cover of several body-building magazines and avidly watches E's Divas reality show (Sundays). The fighting Bella Twins are engaged to top wrestlers John Cena and Daniel Brian (Bryan Danielson) and their exposed personal lives have been every bit as entertaining as the scripted stuff in WWE. Over in TNA Impact Wrestling, they've been elevating farm system talents to the main roster.
CES and NATPE have Vegas conventions this month important to television content and the business overall. CES last year drew more than 30,000 tv/movie professionals including execs from Disney/ABC, Fox, Universal Studios, DirecTV and more. Extra's Maria Menounos is this year's Ambassador and said "if you want to know what you'll be watching from satellite tv on your tv and smart devices, you have to come see all the revolutionary things at both. We're always on the go and thank goodness we can catch up on our smart devices."
Next month has always been known as February "Sweeps" with all new show episodes and specials designed to boost industry ratings but with viewers the ultimate winners. We'll have lots of Sochi Winter Olympics skinny and thoughts from our interview with downhill skiing champ Lindsey Vonn who currently "is still iffy with my re-blown right knee and partially-torn ACL." If she can compete, Tiger Woods will be there for her. And what an array of DirecTV sports of all sorts including some amazing UFC and boxing bouts. Will this be the year that Mayweather finally fights Pacquiao while both are approaching the twilight of their fight careers? Negotiations first began in 2008 for the potentially highest-grossing fight in history but remain at a standstill even with the latter having lost two of his last three fights. This may be it for fans clamoring for that high-caliber matchup of ring royalty artists. The last time I spoke with Sugar Ray Leonard, he said he'd "still love to see those two fight."
Q: What can I do if I wanted to watch something on a certain channel, but forgot to turn my DirecTV DVR on?
A: The beauty and salvation of DirecTV's DVR has always been that it's always on even when it's "off!" If you turn it on, you can rewind it, on average, ninety minutes back to pick up something you wanted to watch. This is a great help if you're stuck in traffic or away from home but you do have to have the DVR on that specific channel the last time you had it on.