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January 13

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Inaugurating a New Season of Idol
January 27

Also available as a podcast. Click to listen!

The Big News this week is that Michael Davies is a very happy and rich man. According to the Hollywood Reporter...Sony Pictures TV has purchased Michael Davies' company Embassy Row.

The deal, which had been in the works for about an year, comes on the heels of Davies' three-year overall pact at SPT that recently came to an end. It brings Davies -- who started off working for game show pioneer Merv Griffin, whose company had been acquired by Sony -- back on the studio payroll. It also marks a return to the studio system for Davies, who made his mark at Disney/ABC, where he launched Who Wants to Be a Millionaire in 1999 before leaving to become an independent producer.

SPT president Steve Mosko called the Embassy Row buy "the perfect acquisition at the perfect time."

"Michael is an incredibly savvy producer who was an architect of the alternative series business," Mosko said. "He has a unique understanding of the formats and how to make these shows work in network, cable and syndication."

A lot of aspects of Embassy Row's relationship with SPT won't change -- the company will continue to bring international formats to the U.S., create formats to distribute globally and mine the Sony library.

What is different is that "I have a much bigger company behind me with more resources to tap," Davies said. He continued, ""Sony is the only company in the format business that is also a technology company, and I can't think of a better brand to go and take these programs through multiplatform distribution than Sony."

This is HUGE. Combined with the purchase of 2waytraffic, this makes Sony and Endemol the 2 big gorillas in the Game show/Reality Show production business. This is going to be a win win for Sony and Embassy Row.

And of course, we have had the return of Idol on Fox. But, after watching two weeks of audition tapes they have made some subtle changes that I think has helped the show be a better show overall.

–The proportion of good/bad auditions have been repurposed so that we see more potential Top 36 auditions. And that is a good thing.

–Kara DioGuardi is more Simon than Paula....again a good thing.

–We get to see more packages and we get to see what these people do before they audition. I like that change.

I don’t think I have seen the winner yet, but this season is starting off so far to be pretty good.

Next we have a couple of capsule reviews:

–TOOL ACADEMY (VH1) – This show is an absolute pile of excrement. Take 9 guys who think they are going on a pageant called "Mr. Awesome" -- a search for America's ultimate Alpha Male. In fact they are going on a show called Tool Academy where these "sexist pigs" need to be trained in things like romance and humility

Everything about this shows screams FAKE. The host and therapist, Jordan Murphy and Trina Dolenz...are fake. There were so many setups and scenarios that screamed FAKE. I don’t even believe the people in the academy are real. They scream SAG members. I want my hour back. F.

–SHOW US YOUR WITS (Playboy TV) – Now, this review is in total game show journalistic integrity. The naked women in this show had NOTHING to do with this.

Former Playboy Playmate Daphnee Duplaix hosts this show in the Palomino Club in Las Vegas. Unsuspecting customers in the Champagne Room are asked "Do You Like Games?" by the stripper in question. Once they say yes, they get to play the game.

They start with $100. They get a very naked, very distracting lap dance and are asked questions. Every question right they get $100 more. If they goes back to $100. At the end of 2 minutes, the money they have can be doubled in the Double or Nothing round (with two strippers, one question and 30 seconds)...or they can leave.

Now, as a game, the concept is Cash Cab meets boobies and strippers. But, you know works. The questions are well balanced between levels and subjects. The distraction is well distracting. And Daphnee Duplaix is competent as host.

Is this the best game show ever? No. Is this the most original? No. But does it do the job for what it is...a half-hour of naked game show fun? Yes. My grade. B.

This next story gets me really excited. ABC is considering bringing "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" back to its airwaves in the summer. Discussions about the revival -- which would coincide with the 10th anniversary of its American debut in August 1999 -- are still underway, but TV Week reports that it would likely air as a "multiple-night event" over a couple of weeks.

The show became a monster hit for then-struggling ABC in 1999-2000, which eventually led to ABC scheduling it as much as four nights a week. When "Millionaire's" popularity waned in 2002, the network was left with a weakened schedule from which it took a couple of years to recover. ABC also wants Regis Philbin to return as host. He's currently working on another game show, CBS' "Million Dollar Password," so it's unclear if he'd be able to resume his "Millionaire" duties.

The proposed summer run for "Millionaire" wouldn't be the show's first revival on ABC. Philbin hosted a couple of "Super Millionaire" events -- with a top prize of $10 million -- in 2004. The syndicated version of the show, hosted by Meredith Vieira, has enjoyed a successful run for several seasons.

I say...YES YES YES. And with me as an expert. Make Regis the host, and bring back the fastest finger and the phone game. Done. Simple.

I love this next story. A TV station has been fined $1500 after the presenter on a live phone in quiz show threw a fit after no viewers called in.

Busty presenter Adela Lupse started screaming at the camera, smashed the phone on the ground and then jumped up and down on it before grinding the phone under her foot.

At the same time she screamed repeatedly at the camera "I want the phone to ring now. Now. Call me now."

Angry TV bosses fired her after the outburst on Romanian TV station National TV.

But Lupse, who has been the show's presenter for three years, said: "Maybe I was a bit over the top but I wanted to get people to call - there is a lot of pressure to get people to call in with the correct answer. It was a bad day."

But Romanian TV watchdog the National Audiovisual Council of Romania failed to see the funny side and fined the station for the outburst that showed "unjustified violence".

It also ruled that the show be slapped with an X rating and only broadcast after 10pm when children are in bed.

Random Newsbit Time...

–Condolences go out to the families of Don Galloway and Ricardo Montalban, who passed away recently.

–The Big Spin, California’s Long Running TV Lottery show is gone, and "Make Me A Millionaire" is in. The new show is produced by JD Roth and 3 Ball Productions.

–The new cast of Celebrity Apprentice 2 was announced, and as expected they are: Clint Black, Andrew Dice Clay, Tom Green, Scott Hamilton, Jesse James, Brian McKnight, Dennis Rodman, and Herschel Walker. Annie Duke, Natalie Gulbis, Claudia Jordan, Khloe Kardashian, Joan Rivers, Melissa Rivers, Brande Roderick and Tionne Watkins.

–People’s Choice Award winners that are related to our neck of the woods include: "Deal or No Deal" in the Favorite Game Show category, "Dancing with the Stars" in the Favorite Competition/Reality Show category, Carrie Underwood in the Favorite Female Artist category.

and Jordin Sparks in the Favorite Combined Forces category.

–The 2009 Version of "Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader" and "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" hits the Iphone.

–Drew Carey is offered a managerial job at Chili’s–by the president of Chili’s after he mentioned the chain in an interview with the Washington Post. He said if his acting career panned out, he would be a Chili’s manager.

–Who Wants To Be A Millionaire ports to UK DS’s.

–WCG Ultimate Gamer comes to Sci-Fi.

–Cash Cab comes back for a 5th Season on Discovery.

–A Contestant on Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister plans to sue the CBC for being thrown off the show due to her running before.

–Fantasia Barrino’s house get saved from the chopping block.

--Jeff Stelling and Rachel Riley officially take the reins on Countdown.

–"RuPaul’s Drag Race" debuts February 2 on Logo.

–"Chopping Block" debuts on March 4.

–The rumors are strong that "Trivial Pursuit" America Plays may not make a second season.

–Alison Sweeney of the Biggest Loser is now a mom of a baby girl...Megan Hope Sanov. Another reason to celebrate...Biggest Loser is already renewed for 2009-2010.

–Jennifer Hudson will sing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl.

–Kimberly Caldwell and David Cook are no longer an item.

–Kara DioGuardi, the new judge on Idol is now engaged.

--The Bob Barker Animal Rights Program at UVA, was established with a $1M gift from the man himself. And Barker is going to go on "Price" in the Spring to promote "Priceless memories"–his autobiography.

–BBC Three, the home of Britain Missing Top Model, is searching for Britain’s Next Top Butcher.

–Get Well Wishes go out to Howie Mandel, as he was hospitalzed for an irregular heartbeat while filming "Howie Do It!"

–The New Survivor Cast is released before its debut on Feb. 12.

–Wheel Super Deluxe comes to the Mac.

-- Jeopardy host Alex Trebek is returning to Canada to host the CBC show Canada's next great prime Minister on March 18. Trebek will lead four young candidates as they attempt to prove they are prime ministerial material in front of a panel of people who've held the job, including Paul Martin, Brian Mulroney, Kim Campbell and Joe Clark."I'm honored to take part in a show of this caliber and share the stage with this esteemed panel of prime ministers and young leaders in the making," said Trebek in a news release. The winner of the show receives a $50,000 cash prize and a six-month paid internship with Magna International, the Dominion Institute and the Canada U.S. Fulbright program.

–Emeril Lagasse is going to appear on the Season Finale of Top Chef New York.

Jason Block think he's New York's Next Mayoral Butcher. E-mail him at