Category Archives: American Idol

Highlights and Lowlights: The Emotional Rollercoaster of the 2007 Emmy Awards

I won’t attempt to claim that I am any different than the myriad of television writers out there: I was never going to “like” the outcome of the Emmy Awards. My cynicism was front and center when it came to reacting to the winners, and even the more positive moments were passed off as exceptions to the rule, not a sign of changes to Emmy’s usual stagnation.

But even weighing this predisposed opinion regarding the validity of the ceremony, last night’s award show was perhaps the most emotionally manipulative in some time. By the end, it actually had us cynics doubting the most well-established prediction of the entire evening: The Sopranos winning Best Drama Series. Of course, David Chase’s departing HBO series won that Emmy, but I actually for a second doubted that.

And I don’t know if it’s good or bad: the emotional rollercoaster that the night represented hit so many inversions that anything seemed possible. Perhaps I am simply extremely malleable, but I was right along with them with my own emotional corkscrews and loop-to-loops. And, as such, I use those emotions to feature the highlights and lowlights of the 2007 Emmy Awards.

Disbelief FOX Pre-Show Uses Britney to Push Ratings

This rumour that Britney Spears would appear and apologize for the VMAs incident fascinated me. Not because I was interested in Britney, of course, but rather I was fascinated that anyone actually believed it. The fact that FOX would prey on that public misconception throughout the pre-show, as if they didn’t know whether she was present, shouldn’t surprise me…but that was the reaction it elicited. [Sidenote: Why was there no actual Countdown on the Countdown to the Emmys?]

Discomfort – Awkward and Inappropriate Jokes and Cuts

Early on, the Emmys hit a rather unfortunate stride: an awkwardly impersonal opening animation act from Brian and Stewie from Family Guy, a questionable cut from a joke about Isaiah Washington to T.R. Knight within said segment, and then Neil Patrick Harris’ unfortunate jailbait joke regarding Hayden Pannetiere – all within about fifteen minutes. It continued on into the rest of the night (Brad Garrett, anyone?), and even Seacrest had some borderline “humour” in his repetoire.

Nostalgia – Emmy Rewards People for the Past

Terry O’Quinn. Jaime Pressley. Katherine Heigl. Conan O’Brien. These four are, amongst others, representing a particular trend: deserving performers who really should have won their respective awards in previous years. O’Quinn was robbed for his turn on Lost’s first season, but remains deserving this year, and the same can be said for Pressley even if my heart was with Jenna Fischer. And Late Night with Conan O’Brien had never won a single Emmy, so its victory in Writing was a long-deserved one.

But Heigl, despite her radiance and grace on stage, really deserved to be recognized for last season’s arc with Denny, as opposed to this season’s whiny George/Izzie period. Her character became one-dimensional and one-note, and even if she remained strong I don’t see that as a worthy winner of this award.

Confusion – The Sopranos go Broadway

I am still trying to decipher just why we had a musical tribute to the Sopranos from the cast of Jersey Boys. The music didn’t particularly relate to the series, and it seemed like a simple video tribute (Maybe asking various stars their thoughts on The Sopranos) and then the curtain call would have been both shorter and more fitting. The theatrical and broad is not, although FOX may disagree, necessary in every single situation.

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Filed under 30 Rock, American Idol, Award Shows, Brothers & Sisters, Emmy Awards, FOX, Grey's Anatomy, Lost, My Name is Earl, Television, The Amazing Race, The Office, The Sopranos, Ugly Betty

Emmys 2007: The Creative Arts Winners Announced

Each year, a number of the awards in “lesser” categories are decided in an awards ceremony a week previous: it’s when those little boxes come up on the screen so that we can see names fly by that you’ve never heard before.

Complete List of Creative Arts Winners []

For the Emmys, however, there are always a few stories that justify the existence of these awards if only to recognize shows that got screwed over otherwise. Here’s the big story from the evening’s events:

Emmy-Award Winning ‘Battlestar Galactica’: For realz!

Perhaps I provided good fortune to the series with my blog post just yesterday, but the reality is that after consecutive nominations Battlestar Galactica finally picked up the Emmy for Visual Effects in a series. It’s deserved, as there was some great visual effects work in that episode, and the series has high-production values most of the time. Congrats, Battlestar!

Casting Gold: ‘Friday Night Lights‘ is Vindicated

None of their fantastic, awesome, stunning cast were nominated for an Emmy for their performances, but the show’s casting team was recognized with an award for Best Casting for a Drama Series. How, exactly, none of the brilliant casting led to a nomination remains beyond me, but at least they won’t be going home empty handed.

Guest Actress Trophies Go to Usual Suspects

Elaine Stritch’s performance as Jack’s mother on 30 Rock was fantastic, but her victory in the Guest Actress in a Comedy category isn’t exactly surprising: she’s won before, for Variety performer. And Leslie Caron defeated some stiff competition on the drama side of things, but she was on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a perennial favourite amongst Emmy voters in this category.

Dick in a Box wins Emmy; Hell freezes Over

Although it won’t be performed during the ceremony thanks to some issues over censorship, as expected Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg’s Saturday Night Live collaboration netted them an Emmy Award. This just goes to show you the sway YouTube has over some Awards: after OK GO won a Grammy for Best Video, and now this, the internet has basically made some integral decisions. If only that extended to the other major awards.

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Filed under 30 Rock, American Idol, Award Shows, Battlestar Galactica, Emmy Awards, Friday Night Lights, Television

Why Ryan Seacrest is hosting the Emmy Awards

Today, it was announced that Ryan Seacrest would be hosting the 59th Annual Emmy Awards to air in September on FOX. There are a variety of reasons why this is happening:

Corporate Synergy (The Emmys are airing on FOX, why give time to a non-FOX performer?), Idol Pity (American Idol may well become the most nominated show never to win an Emmy this year: FOX is making sure the show isn’t completely forgotten),  plus It’s the Cool Thing to Do (Seacrest just got announced as FOX’s host for the Super Bowl red carpet, so he is clearly the go-to guy on FOX’s call list.)

However, I’d say that the real reason that Seacrest is hosting the Emmys is that, well, FOX is just that darn uninspired in their choices to host the show. They’ve got an entire lineup full of options, and yet they turn to the most predictable one in the bunch. Let’s take a look at some of this options.

…ummm…well, you know there’s…uhhh…

See, there really isn’t another viable option from FOX’s perspective. They don’t have late night personalities to speak of, at least not ones important enough to run an Awards show, and they lack any sort of star power outside of their Idol juggernaut.

Because Seacrest wasn’t picked because he’s funny (he’s not) or particularly knowledgeable about television (Don’t really think he is). This is literally an example of a red carpet reporter moving into a position where he needs to carry a show. There won’t be Simon, Paula and Randy there to bail him out, and while he does a good job with Idol I think this is a slightly different beast altogether.

Regardless, we’ll see how he performs in just under a month’s time. In the meantime, stay tuned to Cultural Learnings for major Emmy coverage in the coming weeks.

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Filed under American Idol, Award Shows, Emmy Awards, FOX

Television Critics Pile on the Praise for the Shows I Like

The annual TCA awards are pretty much the exact opposite of the Emmy Awards.

Television Critics Association Nominations –

Television Critics are, for the most part, much better informed on the actual quality of network and cable television as opposed to being completely ignorant to various entertaining programs. As a result, these are awards that actually give us an indicator of who gave the best performances, not just who submitted the best episode. And, let me tell you: the result is an intense race that creates categories impossible to decide upon.

Program of the Year

“American Idol” (Fox)
“Friday Night Lights” (NBC)
“Heroes” (NBC)
“Planet Earth” (Discovery)
“The Wire” (HBO)
“When the Levees Broke” (HBO)

This is such a bizarre category, because it’s really more defined as programming from I guess a…I don’t even know what it means. Either way, you’ve got reality television, family drama, Sci-Fi drama, Nature Documentary, gritty HBO drama, and a Katrina documentary. That’s a diverse mix of shows right there. Are they looking for something new, something powerful…I don’t even know.

Comedy Series

“30 Rock” (NBC”)
“The Daily Show” (Comedy Central”)
“Entourage” (HBO”)
“The Office” (NBC”)
“Ugly Betty” (ABC”)

This category is just unfair, TCA. The Office against The Daily Show? Throw 30 Rock into the mix and you’ve got an impossible decision to make. I really have no idea how I’d decide on this one, and I for one support separate variety categories just to keep this conundrum from taking place.

Drama Series

“Friday Night Lights” (NBC”)
“Heroes” (NBC”)
“Lost” (ABC”)
“The Sopranos” (HBO”)
“The Wire” (HBO”)

We don’t know how much this will coincide with Emmy’s list, but I feel for certain that three of these shows will be named on July 19th. The Wire is one of those shows that has never garnered Emmy attention due to its lack of Network coverage, and without star power or pedigree it might have trouble breaking through at the Emmys. However, the amount of critical attention given to the series might make it something to catch up on this summer.

New Program

“30 Rock” (NBC”)
“Dexter” (Showtime”)
“Friday Night Lights” (NBC”)
“Heroes” (NBC”)
“Ugly Betty” (ABC”)

Umm, TCA? Are you following my viewing habits or something? I doubt they are, but these five shows are likely to make it onto my respective Drama/Comedy Emmy FYCs in July, and are probably my top 5 new shows of the season. I’m especially happy to see Dexter getting some love, it is most deserved.

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Filed under 30 Rock, American Idol, Award Shows, Battlestar Galactica, Dexter, Friday Night Lights, Heroes, House, Lost, NBC, Television, The Office, The Sopranos

The Results are In: Nielsen Ratings Data for 2006/2007 Season

This list is long. This list is extensive. And I really want to know what this list means. Nielsen (Via The Hollywood Reporter) has released their data for every single TV show that aired in America this past season. It tells us where our favourite shows ranked, where much maligned shows ranked, and how scripted drama did against reality programming.And, it raises a lot of questions about this data that I think Nielsen might not want to answer.

For instance, does this list include repeats in its viewers averages? Because that’s the only way CSI (#4) should be beating Grey’s Anatomy (#6) in total viewers by my calculations. If so, this gives a distinct advantage to shows without repeats (Reality Shows, Lost, Heroes, etc.) or those shows which repeat extremely well (House, CSIs, etc.)

The major thing to watch for in the list is the difference between 18-49 numbers and viewership rankings. It rises many shows into positions of being picked up, even with lacklustre performances in viewers. Some show, like 30 Rock, are in the doldrums in terms of total viewers but shoot up into the Top 75 with adults 18-49, which got it renewed for a second season.

After a few formatting errors, I’ve realized that getting it to highlight canceled shows would drive me crazy, so just refer to your memory. And, either way, some will seem a bit strange. However, remember that these are averages, and don’t reflect ratings dropoff in their later episodes.

This is the case for Jericho, which clearly performed better than many canceled shows. However, CBS did cancel the better rated Close to Home airing on Fridays, so it’s not as if Jericho was the only victim of CBS’ extremely highly place high bar. It might as well be a pole vault at this point.

With the 2006/2007 season over, the industry trades are going right for ratings as their barometer of success. Outside of this post, I’m unlikely to do so as I go into my own year in review season. For now, check out the ratings for all of the dirt, and stay tuned for less quantitative analysis at Cultural Learnings.

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Filed under 30 Rock, ABC, American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, Gilmore Girls, Grey's Anatomy, Heroes, House, Lost, NBC, Ratings, Reality TV, Scrubs, Television, The Amazing Race, The CW, The Office, Veronica Mars

Wednesday Night War: The Season Finales of ‘Lost’ and ‘American Idol’

Tonight, tens of millions of Americans will sit in front of their televisions in suspense for two very different reasons. For fans of American Idol, they will sit waiting for two hours while the show parades out its past contestants and waits until its final moment to reveal its winner. For fans of Lost, meanwhile, they will spend two hours waiting to see whether the much touted finale can live up to its hype. Will fans be satisfied with either conclusion? Only time will tell. But, who needs time when we’ve got meaningful speculation?

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Filed under ABC, American Idol, FOX, Lost, Television

‘Save Jericho’: Addressing the Hiatus Hernia, The Idol Factor and Promoting the Unpromotable

In an ongoing attempt to provide some analysis of the fall of Jericho and the subsequent rise of its fans, I’ve been fielding a wide range of questions, comments, criticisms, and attempting to provide a perspective for them. I’ve dealt with CBS’ logic for the cancellation, along with documenting the rise of the ‘Save Jericho’ campaign; however, as many have rightly pointed out, I have yet to properly address the claim very succinctly stated in a comment on this very blog by James Denison:

“Jericho was an excellent drama that suffered from the 3 month hiatus, going up against [American Idol], and poor promotion by CBS.”

In doing so, I might have to defend certain decisions CBS made, and I think that this is just: the network is not entirely at fault here. But, by investigating these issues further, I believe that was can increase CBS’s accountability for their own role in this problem. What I want to investigate are the following series of questions:

– Why do shows go on hiatus, and what other options are available?

– If CBS had shifted the show’s timeslot to avoid Idol, what would the effect have been?

– Is Jericho an easily promotable show?

In answering these questions, I believe that we can further understand the series of events that took place, and delve yet further into the questions of New Media, New Advertising, and just about everything in between.

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Filed under American Idol, Jericho, Ratings, Television

The Three Most Disturbing Trends of the 2007/2008 Upfronts

Each year, the Upfronts create a series of trends which show what the networks are really thinking for the following year. They take what was successful the year before, and they decide that they should just copy all of that into their own schedules. For example, Lost’s success led to three different sci-fi copycat shows the following season: Invasion (ABC), Surface (NBC), and Threshold (CBS). Similarly, after the success of Prison Break, networks switched to serial conspiracy/action dramas like Vanished (FOX), Kidnapped (NBC), and Smith (CBS). This season has seen a variety of different trends, and some of them actually seem quite good on the surface. However, I think that there is actually a number of bad precedents being set which we should all remain aware of as next season begins.

The Three Most Disturbing Trends of the 2007/2008 Upfronts

3. The Procedural Nature of Television Drama

I’ve expected it from CBS for many years, now: all of their dramas are unlikely to have any sort of serial aspect, choosing instead to stick to procedural structure. Law & Order really started it off, CSI picked up the ball and kept running, and there is surely to be a new franchise waiting in the wings with time. It’s a quality which the networks love, since it means people can just sit back and watch a single episode without getting too caught up in the previous week’s action. And, I like some of these dramas: they can be compelling and fun to watch, and they repeat well for the purpose of syndication. However, I don’t want to see all procedural and nothing but procedural dramas.

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Filed under ABC, American Idol, FOX, Grey's Anatomy, Heroes, House, My Name is Earl, NBC, New Amsterdam, Private Practice, Reality TV, Sarah Connor Chronicles, Survivor, Television, The Amazing Race, The Apprentice, The CW, The Office, Upfronts, Veronica Mars

Network Upfronts Extravaganza – ‘FOX’ 2007-2008 Schedule

FOX always needed to be different, and this year they’ve certainly accomplished that. It’s perhaps their most epic full-year schedule to date, with three of their pickups being held over until the Spring and being replaced by a glutton of new reality shows. What does this mean for holdovers like Bones or House? And what are these new shows all about? For all the details continue onto the epicness that is the FOX Full Year 2007/2008 Schedule.

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Filed under 'Til Death, American Idol, Bones, FOX, Reality TV, Sarah Connor Chronicles, Television, Upfronts

‘Lost’: Recap Show Tonight at 10pm EST, CTV Finale Scheduling

Although we’re still in the middle of Cultural Learnings’ Upfronts Extravaganza, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t other news to worry about. For example, today brings news regarding the upcoming finale of Lost that I figure people should be made aware of:

Lost: “The Answers” [10pm ABC]

– Tonight (May 17th) at 10pm on ABC, after the Grey’s Anatomy finale, ABC is going out of its way to try to pull back some viewers who have strayed from their other hit drama: Lost. In preparation for its finale next week, Lost airs a new recap show which will fill everyone in on what’s gone down in the island since they abandoned it in the Fall. For those who fall into this category: you’re in for a wild ride. There’s been only a few lukewarm hours since the show returned in February, and we’re heading towards a wild finale.

CTV Schedules the Lost Finale

For us Canadians, we’re often a bit spoiled with Lost. We usually get to see it two hours earlier than Americans thanks to CTV airing both it and American Idol. However, as much as we’ve enjoyed this in the past, it looks like we’re about to pay for it.

Thanks to NeoGAF user Olivier for alerting me to the fact that CTV is, for the Eastern and Western Time Zones, splitting the Lost finale into two halves and airing American Idol between them. Yes, that’s right: Lost begins at 7pm EST, American Idol airs from 8pm to 10pm, and then Lost returns to finish its finale. I swear, it’s right out of Alice in Wonderland, but “Through the Looking Glass” will be torn apart for its CTV airing in those timezones (And, therefore, in High Definition). For people in the Atlantic or Central Time Zones, the show will air uninterrupted (by other shows, anyways) from 7pm to 9pm.

This is an unsurprising move (Otherwise, it would have had to have been on at 6pm EST), but it’s still very frustrating because I’ll have to choose one of three options:

– Watch in Standard Def in Atlantic time zone.

– Watch in High-Definition split up

– Watch in High-Definition starting at 10 on ABC, and missing Idol’s 2nd hour to watch the unbroken version.

I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. For now, anticipation takes over.

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Filed under ABC, American Idol, CTV, Grey's Anatomy, Lost, Television