Believe it or not, there are already post-mortems for "The Jay Leno Show."
NBC's experiment with an hour of earlier late-night TV at 9 p.m. weeknights is less than two months old, but a pointed critique from Ad Age's Simon Dumenco (a former Milwaukee Magazine staffer) suggests the network could be committing "brand suicide" with the programming decision.
Key to the decision to put Leno in the 9 p.m. hour was that it was cheaper to produce than scripted dramas. But Dumenco suggests that the audience sees it as a cheap alternative.
"The Leno show feels so cheap that it's actually repelling viewers" he writes. "Fancy new set aside, the writing's not sharp enough, the pacing's all off and the bits too often fall flat." Critical success is virtually insignificant in determining success in the TV. Remember, this is show business, not art.
Far more ominous is the alarm coming from some NBC affiliates worried about how many eyeballs Leno is delivering to their late newscasts. In markets like Baltimore and Kansas City, late news ratings are noticeably off.
Milwaukee is a Leno town, and things are better here for NBC. But last week, Channel 6's 9 p.m. newscast was the top show in that hour twice, Monday and Wednesday, according to Nielsen Media Research number.
The finish was tight on Monday night, Oct. 19. But on Wednesday night, Leno averaged some 55,000 southeast Wisconsin homes, 10 percent of TVs on at the time. Channel 6's news had 70,000 homes, a 12 percent share of available homes.
The November ratings sweeps, which start Thursday night, will be crucial for NBC.
In four weeks' time, we may learn whether the obituaries are premature.
On TV: In the best awards show news in a while, NBC says Ricky Gervais will host the Golden Globe Awards airing Jan. 17. One of the best award presenters around, the British creator of "The Office" is likely to skewer the whole meaningless (though potentially entertaining) awardcast.
- TV Land is moving another step away from just being the home for classic TV shows. It's had its own "reality" shows, and now it's ordering two of its own sitcoms: "Hot in Cleveland," about three L.A. women "of a certain age" who end up in Cleveland, and "Retired at 35" about a sucessful guy who drops out and moves into his retired parents' Florida home.
- There's plenty of talk out there, including this from Perez Hilton, that NBC is trying desperately to get Kanye West to drop by "Saturday Night Live" this weekend, when Taylor Swift hosts.
- No, there isn't a TV series called "CSI: Milwaukee," but Discovery World is playing off the "CSI" success with a short-term exhibit that uses the name. It'll feature a mock crime scene with guests asked to help solve the mystery. "CSI: Milwaukee" runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday. In addition to the $16.95 admission fee for adults and $12.95 for children, there's an extra fee for the forensics lab: $5 for non-members and $4 for members.
DirecTV resurrects Chris Farley: In one of the most distasteful ads I've seen in a while, DirecTV has cut together video of the late Chris Farley and the still-alive David Spade to sell the satellite TV service.
The clip of Madison boy and Marquette grad Farley, who died in 1997 of a drug overdose, comes from his big-screen flick "Tommy Boy," which came out two years earlier.
The 30-second spot follows below. Are you as bothered by it as I am?
Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for OnMilwaukee.com. He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.
A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.
In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at OnMilwaukee.com.
When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.