By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Jun 15, 2010 at 11:00 AM
Watch Tim Cuprisin's On Media on Time Warner Cable's Wisconsin on Demand Channel 411, with new episodes posted Fridays.

Expect your television viewing to be disrupted tonight at 7 when the president speaks from the Oval Office about the unending gusher of oil in the Gulf of Mexico.

The White House says the speech will take 10 or 15 minutes, and the networks are now scheduling a 15-minute delay in the start of prime-time programming. If you're recording a show tonight on CBS, NBC or Fox, figure in that delay (and add a few minutes).

Beyond the effect on tonight's viewing schedule, this is a rare intrusion of the environmental disaster on prime-time network TV.

While nightmarish images of oil-soaked wildlife and stories of fishermen whose livelihood has been hit hard are common on newscasts, this hasn't been a prime-time network story, other than the cable news channels.

At the very least, Barack Obama is finally bringing this story into American homes.

While the story is already nearly two months old, there's no end in sight. The oil hasn't stopped flowing, the damage is continuing and clean-up activities could be monumental.

TV seems uncomfortable telling continuing stories without a clear conclusion -- unless they deal with missing young women.

On TV: Ugh. The White House-crashing Michaele Salahi will indeed be part of Bravo's "Real Housewives of D.C." when it launches on Aug. 5. 

  • Double ugh. The New York Post says 16-year-old sailor Abby Sunderland's dad has a contract for a "reality" show about his wacky family. Any cost for rescuing the girl from the Indian Ocean should come out of daddy's check.
  • HBO confirms that Ricky Gervais has been signed to appear in an episode of Larry David's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" late in the next season, according to the Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed."
  • Ed "Lou Grant" Asner will be returning to TV in a comedy with Tom Arnold if Arnold's sitcom pilot is picked up by CMT.
  • Time Warner Cable in Wisconsin has a new vice president of communications, Marci Pelzer. The Marquette grad has  operated her own public affairs consulting firm, and most recently was global communications manager for Manpower Inc. 
  • "Breaking Bad" has been picked up for a fourth season, just as its third season ended.

A political ad or a comedy bit? I saw this on Keith Olbermann's "Countdown" on MSNBC last night, and, of course, the usual commenters are going to rip on this as some liberal plot.

But just step back from partisan politics and check out this one-minute campaign spot for a candidate in the July 13 Republican runoff in the Alabama Senate race.

It looks like candidate Rick Barber is in a drunken dream in which he rants and shouts at George Washington, Sam Adams and Ben Franklin to join him in some new revolution. It's hilarious TV, although I think it might scare some actual voters.


Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist

Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for 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

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.