New Year, Old Stuff
of all, I want to wish all my readers a happy 2008. And with the New
Year, the Block Party is taking it to the next level. This is the
inaugural audio podcast of the Block Party, so if you are hearing my
voice for the first time, I apologize. Kidding, folks. For those are
still reading along with me, thank you very much. This podcast will be
put up on Itunes, as well as Feedburner, so any RSS feeds can catch my
latest columns. There is now a dedicated website at http://www.blockpartypodcast.com
where you directly download the audio version.
So, let's get to it shall we. 2008 brings us another month of strike
related news. As we have seen, the nightly talk shows are back...sort
of. Awards shows have been affected...as recently as this week, we have
seen the cancellation of the traditional Golden Globes format, eschewing
the normal celebrity love fest for a
news conference. The People's Choice Awards bombed in the ratings.
So why is it that the strike seems to have no end in sight? Because, you
dear readers, are being fooled. No one has really felt the pain yet.
Let's remember the
time line....October 31 was when the WGA (Writers Guild of America)
struck the AMPTP (American Motion Picture and Television Producers).
November was sweeps month. December is holiday time, and we are now in
January. The networks knew this was coming and in a very smart play,
have stockpiled episodes of dramatic shows, and have been debuting new
shows such as "Celebrity Apprentice", "American Gladiators", "How Much
is Enough", and others.
Entertainment Weekly previewed shows that will debut as far in advance
as April. And NBC is playing up the "all-new episode" tag to the hilt.
But the translation
is "All-New Episodes....that we held back on to pad our schedule so that
you won't notice everything is missing."
Game show fans aren't feeling it either-yet. Over the Christmas holiday,
a telling clue may have been shown--albeit accidentally. The Wheel of
page usually lists the schedule of shows through the end of the season.
The week before New Year's-they were only listing 5 weeks ahead. Last
week, the web
site corrected that, and is listing the correct schedule through June
2008. Was this a clue, or just an error due to holiday cheer?
But have we gotten to a point, where the WGA is useless? Has the
landscape changed to the point where writers have become obsolete? I am
not sure, but let
me tell you this...if a one billion loss to the writers won't stop them,
then I don't think anything will until the perfect storm happens...and
that is the potential June 2008 directors and actors strike. If that
happens and Hollywood shuts down completely, then reality and game shows
will be the forefront of TV, not just a side show.
Speaking of side shows, it's
time for the circus of American Idol to rear it's ugly head once again.
American Idol 7 debuts on the 15th of January, and it is coming off it's
worst season in a bit. And when you have the fact that two former
winners, Taylor Hicks and Ruben Studdard, as well as Season 5 runner up
Katherine McPhee being dropped from your record label...that doesn't
bode well for this season. And yes, I flushed this bad boy in my
prediction of how
bad this show is going to suck.
But for those who do watch, and who haven't watched before this is the
Block Party's Guide to American Idol. This is phase 1 of the three parts
American Idol cycle. This is the audition cycle, where for the next few
weeks, we get to see between 40-50 audition candidate per show. Here are
some things to look out for:
- Look for people with talent who move on to the Hollywood round being
spotlighted. These could be the people in your top 24 (which has been
or is about to be decided as we speak.
- Look for people who THINK they can sing, but can't and try to argue
their way into the next round. Fun to watch and count the bleeps.
- The third and final group are the attention seekers, and
unfortunately...this is why this part of Idol succeeds as much as it
does. I can't stand it, because it drives me up a tree to see and hear
horrifically bad singers (usually in costume) who are sought out by the
producers so that they can be embarrassed on national TV (and they
usually aren't), or be made into national superstars like William Hung.
I know people get schadenfreude over this, but my ears bleed. It's all
part of the "everyone is now famous" mantra...but I just think it's
So that's what you look for in this round. When the Hollywood round pops
up, I will come back with a guide for that.
Finally, to steal a line from my pal Chico Alexander, this was the day
that shook my game show world. January 4, 2000. I was taking care of my
and was dying to be on a little game show called "Who Wants to Be a
Millionaire.". They had just announced that the show, which had two
successful short event runs (and a Millionaire by the name of John
Carpenter), was going three nights a week in prime time. I knew I had
the shot to do this, as I qualified on
the phone game (remember that?) 8 times to no avail the November before.
So January 3, I took the test again and passed. January 4 I got the call
to be in the
phone playoff. I passed and on January 10 and 11th, 2000 I won $125,000.
Doesn't hurt that it was (and still is) the highest rated non-Celebrity
in the history of ABC, with 33.6 Million Viewers. Eight years have
passed, and I have accomplished things I would have never accomplished
without that shot in the arm. Press interviews, a radio gig with WPLJ-FM,
Game Show Congress, the ability to write and speak in this very column,
becoming a part-time wrestling announcer, interviewing Pat and Vanna
this past October, and making friends I would have never met without the
world of game show introducing me to them.
I am truly blessed by all of it and I thank you for this little trip
down memory lane.
Until next time, this is
Jason Block saying, "Don't just play fair, play to win."
Block is driven up a tree easily. E-mail him at