A Full Plate (or "What a
Long, Strange Trip This Has Been!")
First of all, I would like
to thank all my new and old listeners who have picked up our podcast
through the link to the upper left, the Itunes feed, or the webpage at
www.blockpartypodcast.com. I would also like to thank the people who are
reading this column every week.
A few pieces of personal business first...I would like to wish my
condolences to the families of the people who have lost their lives in
the wicked tornadoes which touched down in the south this past week.
Union University in Tennessee was especially hard hit. That happens to
be the home of a good friend and fellow columnist, Professor Steve
Beverly. The university was very lucky to not lose any lives in the
student community, but most of the students lost their housing. Steve
was one of the people who I followed before I got into the world of
writing. We are now friendly competitors, but in this case, I just hope
that your school and your community can rebuild as quickly as possible.
Our thoughts are with you.
On a happier note, I would like to congratulate the New York football
Giants for defeating the Patriots 17-14 in Super Bowl 42 in Glendale,
Arizona. Jordin Sparks did a great job on the National Anthem, and that
set the tone for a great game. I am lucky enough to work right in the
path of the ticker tape parade
and let me tell you....that is a once in a lifetime event! I think a lot
of 18-1 chants will be starting up whenever the Patriots play the Jets
or the Giants don’t you think?
And finally, although she doesn’t really ask for it, I would like to
thank my recording engineer, Ivy Reisner for her help in making me sound
better than I do. She
really puts in a lot of effort and energy into this and the webpage, so
again, I thank her.
Now that we have that out of the way...onto the news of the week! The
question to start off the news portion of the program is... Are the WGA
and the AMPTP
close to sealing the deal and being in love with each other again? Or is
the relationship doomed to fail?
Well, it depends on who you ask. Over the weekend, reports were coming
at us fast and furious saying that “major breakthroughs” were reached
between the two warring sides and that an announcement of a tentative
deal would occur as soon as February 15. That is the date that came out
of the weekend reports.
According to the New York Post, WGA Negotiating committee chief John
Bowman told members in an e-mail late Monday afternoon , “Regardless of
what you hear or read, there are many significant points that have yet
to be worked out.”
Broadcasting and Cable reported that the WGA was being cautious. On
Sunday the WGA sent their membership a letter. “The facts: We are still
in talks and do not yet have a contract,” wrote WGA West president
Patric Verrone and WGA East president Michael Winship in the joint
letter. “When and if a tentative agreement is reached, the first thing
we will do is alert our membership with an e-mail message. Until then,
please disregard rumors about either the existence of an agreement or
its terms.” The letter also called for picketing to continue. “Until we
have reached an agreement with the AMPTP, it is essential that we
continue to show our resolve, solidarity, and strength. Picketing will
resume on Monday. Our leverage at the bargaining table is directly
affected by your commitment to our cause. Please continue to show your
support on the line.”
So, with a media blackout in place, what do I think is happening? I
think there is a two fold strategy going on. On the one hand, you still
have the WGA trying to
hold it’s position at the same time as negotiations are going on. I
believe there is a deal in place, they are just dotting the I's and
crossing the t’s. As I said two weeks ago with the Oscars in doubt, TV
to DVD sales in jeopardy and the fall upfronts deadline fast approaching
a deal has to get done.
I am going to revisit a
topic that I covered exactly one year ago. We are in the Valentine’s Day
season, and people are overpaying for flowers, cards, chocolates,
perfume, lingerie and jewelry which they could get much cheaper on
February 15. But I ask...why do most relationship/dating shows not
produce long term happy relationships? And why do these shows still stay
on the air?
The relationship success for TV based dating shows is rare. You do see a
few happy endings to the fairy tale. Rob and Amber from the Amazing
Race. Trista and Ryan are still married and just had a baby. But for
everyone of these successes, you have Tila Tequila, most of the
Bachelors (and the latest one...an English bloke...better actually pick
a girl this time), and others flame out.
The reason why you have so many reality dating shows on the air is that
for the most part, we as viewers are closet romantics. Everyone wants to
see love, or
in some cases lust, happen. Most of the dating shows on TV...going back
as far as the Dating Game to Love Connection, to the more recent
examples of “Shot of Love”, “Flavor of Love”, “Rock of Love” (sense a
theme here, folks?) give the fantasy that you can find true love through
a casting agency on TV. It rarely
happens, but it is the perception.
To answer the 1st question....a lot of the people who appear on dating
shows suffer from PPS...Pretty People Syndrome. The producers edit the
shows as a
competition instead of a organic relationship. Love is never easy, and
it really is hard when you force affections down people’s throat in
front of a 24-7 TV crew. I believe these shows make men and women look
very shallow and treat love as a sport.
I believe, and know from first hand experience that the “faux” love you
see on TV....isn’t. Love is what people experience every day when
cameras aren’t on the air. Relationships are hard work, and when you try
and find it on TV...it just won’t happen.
Someone who got no love this
past week is the 1st Survivor winner, Richard Hatch. In a 52 page
decision, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that his
2006 conviction of failing to pay income taxes on his $1,000,000 prize
Hatch claimed that there was a deal in place between him and CBS
Producers not to pay taxes because he caught show employees sneaking
food to other
contestants. If he shut up about it, CBS would pay his taxes...and of
course CBS has denied this.
In it’s decision, the Court ruled that Hatch had ample opportunity to
talk about the deal, but didn’t. Quoting from the decision, “The failure
of Hatch to present any evidence of such conversations when invited by
the court strongly suggested that no actual promises were made, and no
such ‘deal’ actually existed. It was not the court’s right, much less
duty, to put words in Hatch’s mouth.”
He is scheduled to be released in October 2009.
Here’s the deal. You didn’t pay your taxes and you got caught. If you
had the evidence of the so-called deal...you would have shown it by
now...and the show
would have been off the air. Mr. Hatch, take responsibility for your
actions and serve your time...quietly.
I have a ton of American
Idol news to cover for all of you. As you know by now, the Hollywood
phase of the competition is upon us. We have 164 contestants who have
gotten the golden ticket. What does it mean for us?
- There will be four cuts to get to the magic 24. A first cut will
happen when they sing in front of the judges. A 2nd will happen after a
group round, a 3rd will winnow the field further after they sing one
more time in front of the judges and then we will reach the Top 24.
- People who have had experience as singers will have a major advantage
over total rookies. They will probably be able to handle the pressure
which cranks up big time. But if the rookies can...watch out.
- Watch for people who stand out from the crowd. Talent only goes far in
this round and if you don’t make yourself noticeable in a good way, you
will be gone.
- The big change for this year is the use of musical instruments. Will
they help or hurt the contenders? It’s easy to just sing...but to play
and sing well takes talent.
- Maturity and work ethic will come into play. There will be some people
who have never been to a big city before hand, and being let loose in LA
may have an
effect on their goal. But if they can party and work...so be it.
- There will be drama...watch for the people who say things like “I
don’t do groups.” or they argue with the judges. They will be gone
- Finally, you will see 2 to three people in the top 24 that will make
you scratch your head. That is because the producers are going to try
and be diverse...you need to see rock, pop, country, R&B and other
musical styles in there. You might be seeing the next Kevin Covais and
Sanjaya in there...we can only hope not, but they will be there.
That is what to look for in the Hollywood Round. I will be back with the
top 24 and when the voting starts, I will be back with weekly
predictions and updates.
If you were not able to be
part of the 100,000+ who auditioned for Idol 7, and don’t think you can
make it to any of the regional auditions...Disney has got a deal for
you. Starting in Fall 2008, “American Idol” goes Disney. And this is
At Disney Hollywood Studios theme park (which was Disney-MGM), guests
will be able to perform in front of a live studio audience with a prize
of a “front-of-the-line” pass to a regional audition. It will work
something like this:
People will audition in front of a Disney casting producer. If they pass
that, they will appear in an Idol stage show with “judges’ (3 random
audience members). The top audience vote-getters will compete in the
grand finale of the day and the winner gets the fast pass. Jordin Sparks
used the fast pass by winning Arizona Idol, and she won the whole thing
last year. If the winner doesn’t fit into the Idol requirements, they
can transfer the pass to a friend or family member. They can not sell
I LOVE this idea. Disney is known for great park shows, and the fact
they cross-branded with Idol is a HUGE marketing move. I will bet you,
that you might just
see the next Idol from these shows. Who knows? But even so, this is fun
and a great use of the marketing brand.
To practice for the upcoming
Disney show, you might want to try Karaoke Revolution Presents: American
Idol Encore. Ok, this might not be the best way to practice, but I like
the fact the game has customizable song packs which you can download
through PS3 and XBOX Live online components.
The game looks like fun with Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Paula
Abdul lending their voice talents, and they can create their own
characters through clothing, hair, etc. No long line required.
Finally, Simon Cowell has
not pulled any punches in an interview with Extra. He skewers Idol 5
runner up, Katharine McPhee by saying "Didn't care much about
Katharine McPhee, I don't think she was a credible recording artist.
Katharine will end up on Broadway!" (Didn’t you predict her to be the
He said Taylor Hicks didn't deserve to take the top spot. "There's
always a place for someone like that on the show - until they win."
He said that Clay Aiken ended right where he should be...on Broadway.
"[He is] very at home," Simon huffed.
He even clears up the rumors that the show has planted ringers to make
sure they have another chart topper.
"Oh, give me a break!" he said. "Regardless of whether or not you got a
recording contract, they've all failed, which is why they turn up on
'American Idol.'" Me-owch!
Ok, enough Idol for one
podcast. Let’s talk about the man, the legend, Bob Barker. Barker has
been a champion of animal rights activism for years. And he
has put his money where his mouth is by donating millions of dollars to
college campuses all around the country to establish animal rights
curricula in law schools.
This week, he dropped a cool million to his alma-mater, Drury University
to establish an undergraduate animal-ethics program. "It's incredible
that I ever was able to go back to Springfield and give them a million
dollars, because when I was there, I didn't have 15 cents," Barker told
The Associated Press, adding that he graduated from the Missouri school
in 1947. "What I'm hoping is that this will become a model for other
Bob is one of the few people in Hollywood who actually says something
and means it. This is why Barker’s clout and power is so huge. He
doesn’t say one thing and do another. Great job, Mr. B. Keep up the good
work. And keep your pets spayed and neutered.
We had a few debuts this
week, as “Survivor: Micronesia” a/k/a Fans v. Favorites debuted. And it
was great to see Johnny Fairplay get his comeuppance.
My favorite line from the show was after Yau-Man tackled him into a boat
and grabbed an immunity idol. “He tackled me into a boat!” Uh,
Johnny...this is a
million bucks here!
It was great to see the fans see who they were playing against...and the
favorites lose immunity. This was Survivor at it’s best. The fans were
hungry and I
think Joel is going to give James a run for his money as strongest
man...he is a giant. Watch for him to be around late in the game.
Survivor was great. But the other debut had me a bit disappointed.
“Randy Jackson presents America’s Best Dance Crew” debuted Thursday
night on MTV. I gave the show a try, and although I liked the talent
portion of this program, two things bothered me.
Mario Lopez, who I normally like as a host, looked to me like he was
trying to force himself to be street. Secondly and more importantly,
although I understand
MTV is appealing to the 12-24 demographic, the camera work here was so
frenetic I was getting dizzy. When you are looking to see dancing, you
need to a) hold the camera in one position for more than 3 seconds and
b) have it at angles where you can see the dancing. I was so distracted
that it took away from what I think could be a great show.
If they cut down on the frenetic camera work, this show would be in my
guilty pleasure file. Right now,it’s just so-so.
Big Brother 9 debuts this
week, and we have the Pretty People Syndrome in overdrive here...one
person is over 40...and the rest are between 21-29...and all single. The
new twists is that people will be paired up as “soul mates” and live,
sleep, compete and be eliminated as pairs.
Again, normally this show would not be for me, but I understand the need
for programming...any new programming...but they are being very
the scheduling. They are putting it on against Idol on Wednesday
night....but I think it will do well in the Tuesday 9:00PM and Sunday
8:00PM hours. Will there be drama...will there be chaos...the question
is...will people care? I am not so sure this summer show will work
Finally, the long strange
trip that I referred to earlier is the fact that I turn 40 on
Valentine’s Day. I have seen a lot in this world, but what amuses me the
most is when I watch shows from the 1970's and 1980's on GSN and YouTube
and see what prizes they used to give away as totally cool and amazing.
I mean, who would think Pong at $149.99 in 1975 would be the king of the
crop, when we have the XBOX360 and PS3, right? Back then, big old
console TV’s were the thing...and now it’s the flat screen TV's. When
you saw big huge Cadillacs and Lincolns...and now it’s Vipers and
Corvettes. Think back to the consolationprizes...Rice A Roni...Turtle
Wax....ceramic Dalmatians...and companies that are no longer here.
It’s amazing to know that I have been a witness to all of it,
right? We are all witnesses to history. The game show as a form has been
around before I and all
of you were born, and hopefully will be around long after we are all
gone. But to see what I have seen, and to see all the classic shows,
producers, emcees and know that this industry wants new fans of old
shows...and fans of the new shows yet to come. I see this as a message
of hope...that as I enter my fifth decade of life...that the industry
will continue to support us and the shows we love.
That's all for this week. This is Jason Block saying, don't just play
fair...play to win.
run into Jason
Block, be sure to wish him a happy happy. E-mail him at