Fresh, hot TV madness! Fall television preview

More fall TV madness! Best returning TV showsWhat they'll be wearing: Prime time fashion GOSSIP GIRL CW, Wed., 9 p.m. They drink, they get high, they wear top fashion designers and, well, they ruffle bedsheets with abandon. "Desperate Housewives"? No, "Gossip Girl," the new young-adult drama from the folks at the CW. Based on a teen book series of the same name, the show follows a group of attractive, out-for-trouble prep-school teens from Manhattan's Upper East Side. And, yes, they wander Central Park smoking pot and get served martinis in hot spots. The show is backed by Josh Schwartz, the guy who made a group of good-looking people from Orange County, Calif., all the rave on Fox's "The O.C." "Gossip Girl" centers on beauty Serena (Blake Lively), who suddenly returns to New York after disappearing a year earlier. But what links all the characters is an unidentified blogger (voiced by Kristen Bell) who dishes dirt on who's sleeping with whom. While the show may make parents squirm, it's sure to be a hit with teens for whom the foibles of Paris and Lindsay serve as modern-day parables.Premiered Sept. 19 LIFE IS WILD CW, Sunday, 8 p.m.For viewers missing shows like "7th Heaven" or "Everwood," this great-looking program may fit the bill, perhaps becoming one of those old standbys that appeal to the whole family and live a long life on the small screen."Life Is Wild" follows a Manhattan-based blended family that picks up and moves to a broken-down lodge in South Africa so the patriarch (Brett Cullen) can work as a veterinarian.The family's eldest daughter, of course, doesn't dig the change (she'd probably rather be on "Gossip Girl"), but the family settles in and learns to love the natural world. Born free, indeed.Premieres Oct. 7 VIVA LAUGHLIN CBS, Sunday, 8 p.m.This genre-bender may be one of the biggest longshots of the season, but it's one worth checking out.Here's the concept, which is plucked from the British series "Viva Continue Reading

Television honors its own with the 2007 Emmys

LOS ANGELES — "The Sopranos" turned its cut-to-black final season into Emmy gold Sunday, winning the best drama series award, and newcomer "30 Rock" was named best comedy series. The mob saga's victory was nearly unprecedented, with only one other drama series, 1977's "Upstairs, Downstairs," having claimed the top trophy after leaving the air. "In essence, this is a story about a gangster," said "The Sopranos" creator David Chase. "And gangsters are out there taking their kids to college, and taking their kids to school, and putting food on their table. "And, hell, let's face it, if the world and this nation was run by gangsters" — Chase paused and shrugged, as everyone laughed — "maybe it is." "Sopranos" stars James Gandolfini and Edie Falco didn't fare as well. James Spader was named best drama series actor for "Boston Legal," stealing the thunder of fellow nominee Gandolfini. "Oh my goodness, I feel like I just stole a pile of money from the mob. And they're all sitting over there," Spader said, acknowledging him and the rest of "The Sopranos" cast in the Shrine Auditorium audience. Sally Field was honored as best actress in a drama for "Brothers & Sisters." Falco was among her competitors. "How can that be? These wonderful actors," Field said. Cleary flustered, she lost her train of thought at one point, shouting at the audience to stop applauding while she struggled to finish her acceptance speech. America Fererra of the campy "Ugly Betty" was named best actress in a comedy series. "This is such an amazing, wonderful achievement. The award is to be able to get up and go to work tomorrow," Ferrera said. The biggest laugh of the night was earned by presenters Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, after they announced that Ricky Gervais of "Extras" had won the award for best comedy series actor. "Ricky Gervais could not be here tonight. Instead we're going to give this to our friend, Steve Carell," Stewart said. Carell, a Continue Reading

ABC’s ‘Dirty Sexy Money’ is all the rage on AOL Television

The deliciously preposterous excess of ABC's "Dirty Sexy Money" seems to have made it the favorite new series among viewers of AOL Television. In a two-week poll that ended Monday and drew about 2.5 million votes, "Dirty Sexy Money" scored a double victory in an unlikely pair of categories. It won "Which new show are you getting hooked on?" with 27% of the vote, edging out ABC's "Pushing Daisies" at 23%. It also won "biggest guilty pleasure" with 43% of the vote, well ahead of Fox's "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" at 33%. Among returning shows, Fox's "House" won with 29%, beating ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" at 24% and CBS' "CSI" at 23%. Trailing in that category were ABC's "Ugly Betty" with 17% and NBC's "30 Rock" with 6% - underscoring the fact this was not a comprehensive poll, since each question gave five or six specific choices for answers. "House" was also the only one of three returning shows where more than half the voters thought it was as good as or better than last year. Conversely, more than half the voters declared NBC's "Heroes" and ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" to be "not as good" or "gone stale." ABC's "Cavemen" and CW's "Gossip Girl" found few fans, though Blake Lively of "Gossip Girl" edged out Michelle Ryan of NBC's "Bionic Woman" as "this season's breakout babe." Chuck from NBC's "Chuck," who's played by Zachary Levi, was voted hottest TV geek, and Christina Applegate of ABC's "Samantha Who?" topped Kelsey Grammer of Fox's "Back to You" as favorite returning star. AOL TV voters were less keen on "reality shows," with 44% saying they watch "none." Another 30% said they watch "just a few faves," 22% said they watch "about the same as last year" and only 4% said they watch "more than ever." Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Local television news is a hazard to your health

Recently, one of our local TV news shows in Miami did a special investigative report on - I swear - brassiere sizes. The station promoted this report relentlessly for several days. Every few minutes, you would hear an announcer's voice saying, with an urgency appropriate for imminent nuclear attack: "ARE YOU WEARING THE WRONG BRA SIZE?" I was becoming genuinely concerned about this problem, despite the fact that, except on very special occasions involving schnapps, I don't even "wear" a brassiere. Unfortunately, although I saw dozens of promotions for this special investigative report, I never saw the report itself. I assumed that the message would be: "Wear the right size brassiere!" My editor Tom Shroder, who has a keen interest in the issues, did watch the report, and he told me that it explored the troubling question of "women wearing brassieres that were tragically about 10 sizes too small for their breasts, which left said breasts with no other choice but to spill, tragically, out of the brassiere cups into the camera lens." But my point here is not directly related to brassieres, although it is a lot of fun to use the word "brassiere" in a newspaper column, brassiere brassiere brassiere.My point is that, pound for pound, the most dramatic and entertaining programming on television is your local TV news shows. Their only serious competition is the cable channel that, 24 hours a day, features the TV Evangelists with Hairdos the Size of Adult Yaks.If you don't receive the Big-Haired Evangelists channel, you need to march right down to your cable company and throw rocks through the windows until you get it, because these people are way more entertaining than any space alien you will ever see on "Star Trek." My favorite is a woman with a gigantic mound of hair colored exactly the same designer shade as Bazooka bubble gum. Perhaps this fact explains why, almost every time I tune in, this woman is weeping. Her tear ducts must be as big as volleyballs. Using the Continue Reading

‘Today Show’ still king of morning television

"Today" executive producer Jim Bell shuns making long-term predictions about the success of the top-rated morning show. The show last week notched its' 616th consecutive weekly win in the Nielsen department, but Bell knows well, the media world is changing dramatically. "I'm not in the prognostication game," Bell says. "I think we've got a pretty consistent track record here. What you've seen, across the television landscape, one would be foolish to make long-range predictions. And by long-range, I mean six weeks." But Bell's not sweating it either. Jim Murphy, Bell's counterpart at chief rival "Good Morning America" suggests Bell & Co. should not get too comfortable in the top spot. "I think there's a very good chance that we're going to pass them," Murphy says. "I'm not going to guarantee it, I'm not an idiot. But, I think we have a good chance." Whether that happens or not, NBC's run in the mornings cannot be overlooked. It has been No. 1 since December 1995. In recent years, the NBC breakfast show has survived changes in anchors - a year ago Katie Couric left and was replaced by Meredith Vieira - and it has undergone producer changes. Earlier, the show survived the exit of Bryant Gumbel, who was replaced by Matt Lauer. It has remained a strong spot on a network that has struggled in prime time, where, presumably, promos help drive morning viewing.Fact is, when Bell, an Emmy-winning NBC Sports veteran took over in April 2005, the gap between "Today" and "GMA" was razor thin and it appeared "GMA" would zoom by "Today.""When I came in, it was all but decided they were going to pass us, and that didn't happen," said Bell, a father of four. "The summer when Katie left, people thought we were vulnerable. A lot of smart people thought it was a fait accompli : it hasn't happened yet."Bell attributes the success to consistency in the program and the folks on air - Matt Lauer, Vieira, Al Roker and Ann Curry."The program was the first and really Continue Reading

TELEVISION WITHOUT PITY. ’30 Rock’ and ‘Studio 60’ make a big production of behind-the-scenes craziness. But are they clicking with audiences?

Shows about doctors, cops and lawyers have long been the meat and potatoes of network television. But currently, nothing seems to fascinate Hollywood as much as a show about ... itself. This season, "30 Rock" and "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" - one a madcap comedy, the other a seriously earnest drama - are the latest exercises in Hollywood self-love. Yet here's the catch: Do we care about how TV gets made or about the people who make it?. Both programs - different takes on the craziness surrounding a weekly, "Saturday Night Live"-like comedy variety show - had been the recipients of preseason buzz and anticipation both in network corridors and around office watercoolers. But defection from "Studio 60" has been steady since the show premiered a month ago: More than 13 million people watched the first episode, according to Nielsen Media Research, and last week the number dropped to less than 8 million. (On Oct. 30, "Studio 60's" high-profile Monday night spot will be filled - for one week only, according to NBC - by newcomer "Friday Night Lights. ") "30 Rock" debuted Oct. 11 with just over 8 million viewers. By last week's second episode, it had sunk like a stone, attracting less than 6 million viewers. Tina Fey, the creator and star of "30 Rock," has said that her show is simply "a workplace comedy. " And since she was the head writer on "SNL" for nine years (and the face of its "Weekend Update"), her point of reference is self-evident (the show is also executive produced by "SNL" creator Lorne Michaels). "Studio 60" creator Aaron Sorkin also created "The West Wing" and "Sports Night," so he, too, has a well-informed vantage point from which to fire shots at the people who make decisions about what we watch. "Studio 60," Sorkin told reporters last summer, examines nothing short of the "culture wars" raging in America. "Certainly TV in general, and a sketch comedy show like this one, would have a front-row seat for that," Sorkin said. But Continue Reading

City teachers union launches television ad campaign targeting Andrew Cuomo’s ‘damaging education agenda’

The latest salvo in the battle between Gov. Cuomo and the teachers unions was launched Tuesday when the educators kicked-off a multi-million dollar television ad campaign ripping the governor’s “damaging education agenda.” The hard-charging, 30-second spot titled “History” slams Cuomo for wanting to “pile on high stakes testing. Privatize classrooms. And divert money away from public schools by giving huge tax breaks to the wealthy.” City teachers union President Michael Mulgrew said the ad was created to counter a wave of pro-Cuomo education commercials currently flooding the airwaves. Many of the pro-Cuomo ads were funded by StudentsFirstNY, a pro-charter school group. The unions and Cuomo have clashed over charter schools, which are mostly not unionized. “We see the Governor is trying to rewrite history with the help of his hedge fund pals,” Mulgrew told the Daily News. “Those ads are misleading. We want to set the record straight.” RELATED: STATE EXAMS SEE 3,100 NYC KIDS OPT OUT Mulgrew would not say how much the union is paying for the ad, which started airing Tuesday in New York City and will run statewide starting Wednesday. He said the New York State United Teachers is picking up the tab for airtime outside of the city. The anti-Cuomo ad will run for at least a week and possibly longer, Mulgrew said. It will air during popular shows such as “Scandal,” the season finale of “The Americans,” “American Crime,” “The Blacklist,” “Mad Men,” and “The Daily Show,” as well as Yankees and Mets baseball games. Advertising experts said the unions’ new television campaign must have cost a pretty penny. “These are some of the most expensive shows to purchase on TV,” said Brad Adgate, an analyst at Horizon Media, a media buying agency. “They were selected carefully for an Continue Reading

Jon Stewart on his program that helps war veterans find work in television business: ‘Please steal our idea’

Jon Stewart might not have been a proponent of the Iraq War, but he is all in favor of helping the war's veterans. The TV host has developed a “five-week industry boot camp” that helps veterans find work in television, including his own show. Stewart told the New York Times that even though he's been developing the program for the past three years, he decided to publicize it now because he is leaving “The Daily Show” in August and wants to encourage other shows to create similar programs to help veterans find employment in the industry. “This is ready to franchise. Please steal our idea,” he said. “It isn’t charity. To be good in this business you have to bring in different voices from different places, and we have this wealth of experience that just wasn’t being tapped.” Though the 52-year-old famously railed against the Iraq War on "The Daily Show," he said that "because I had very strong opinions about what we were doing over there ... I wanted to visit the individuals who were part of the effort to gain a perspective on it." Stewart got the idea for his program in 2013 after he was contacted by the nonprofit mentoring group American Corporate Partners to help a veteran find a job in the industry. Rather than just make a few phone calls for one person, the Emmy winner said he wanted to develop an intensive “crash course” for veterans who wanted to learn about the TV business. Developed by "The Daily Show" staff, the immersive program gives veterans a look at behind-the-scenes careers in fields such as editing and talent booking. Stewart said the program is crucial because “there are well-worn channels into this industry that are closed off to veterans.” “You get into the television industry generally by going to certain colleges known for having good television programs, Continue Reading

CBS plans ‘David Letterman: A Life on Television’ primetime tribute hosted by Ray Romano to air May 4

Now that he's retiring, David Letterman has finally made it to prime time. CBS will salute the retiring host of "The Late Show With David Letterman" with a retrospective and tribute show May 4, 9:30-11 p.m. Hosted by Ray Romano, the salute is titled "David Letterman: A Life on Television." It will go back to his days as an Indiana weatherman and feature extensive clips from his archives, including memorable interviews and features like Stupid Pet Tricks. It will also note serious moments, including the clip from his first show when he returned tothe air after Sept. 11. Letterman, who turned 68 last week, will retire on May 20. By then he will have hosted 6,028 late shows. There has been considerable speculation about who will be his last guest or guests. His successor in the late show chair will be Stephen Colbert. Continue Reading

CARIBBEAT: ‘Taste the Islands’ Jamaican-produced food show is coming to American television

The consistently mouth-watering and entertaining “Taste the Islands” food show, a popular, Jamaican-produced TV program is coming to public television stations in the U.S. in a big way, starting in April. Hosted by culinary consultant Hugh (Chef Irie), Caribbean cuisine, culture and celebrities will be featured in the seven-part series on more than 130 PBS stations around the country. The Jamaica Tourist Board is providing major funding for the program. Chef Irie, joined regularly by his on-air foodie companion Nicole Hylton and periodically by international superstars such as British reggae performer Maxi Priest, NBC sports analyst and former Trinidad Olympian Ato Boldon, veteran Jamaican reggae band Inner Circle, “Turn Me On” singer Kevin Lyttle from St. Vincent and the Grenadines and other special guests. “Cooking is one of the most popular genres on public TV and we expect audiences will respond enthusiastically to the new series,” said Christopher Funkhouser, vice president of Exchange Programming and Multicast Services at American Public Television, which is distributing the program. The series is being presented by South Florida’s WPBT2 and produced by Calibe Thompson’s Blondie Ras Productions. For recipes and other information on the show, visit Working for the weekend Are passport renewals and other consular services available on weekends? Yes, thorough a new program from the Antigua and Barbuda Consulate and New York-based Antigua and Barbuda Progressive Society. Starting April 18, the Mobile Consular Services initiative will make passport processing, emergency travel documents and other services available to nationals at the historic, 81-year-old Antigua and Barbuda House at 12 W. 122nd St. (between Fifth and Sixth Aves.), from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sessions of this pilot program will be held the third Saturday every month, making these necessary Continue Reading