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Strike Is Over
February 19

Also available as a podcast. Click to listen!

Welcome to the "The Strike is Over" edition of the Block Party for the week of February 19, 2008. This is Jason Block and I would like to thank each and
everyone of you for downloading this audio podcast from the link at the upper left, through the Itunes feed, or the webpage at 1. Also, I thank each and everyone of my readers. You guys rock.

As everyone knows by now, the WGA strike against the AMPTP has ended. Voting took place on Tuesday and members voted 3,492 to 283 to end the strike. The new three-year contract now has to be ratified by members. Voting will end on the 25th of February. Most shows are ramping up production and the first shows to feel the impact are the daily talk shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Late Night with Conan O'Brien", "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report." TV shows and comedies are trying to get new episodes on as quickly as possible.

But one quote from WGA West president Patric Verrone really irked me. He apologized to TV fans by saying, "Thank you for suffering through three months of
reruns and reality TV." Really, Mr. Verrone? Reality TV was considered suffering?

Ok, I will admit that not all reality TV was as high quality as the last season of the "Amazing Race", but that quote says a lot about what the WGA thinks of
you, the reality/game show/game competition show fans, as well as the people he was trying to protect.

Remember, this was the man who led protests against "Temptation" and "America's Next Top Model" to try to get them unionized...and failed. As part of the deal he just struck with the AMPTP, he had to take the unionization of reality show writers and animation writers off the table. So, he is talking out of both sides of his mouth here.

And with all due respect to Mr. Verrone...reality TV not only saved the industry that you are now coming back to, quality reality TV was proven to be a force to be reckoned with and hopefully now shown to be a viable alternative to scripted dramatic and comedic television.

In the final analysis, I believe mistakes were made. I did side with the writers union and hopefully in the long run writers seem to have gotten more money for internet residuals. But, I think major mistakes were a) thinking that without scripted dramas and comedies people would run from the TV screens in protests straight out of "Network". That didn't happen as, lo and behold, the ratings didn't drop as far as they would have hoped. And reality TV (sorry, Mr. Verrone) kept fans interest during a period where TV viewership usually drops anyway-the December holiday ratings slump after sweeps month.

The biggest mistake was when they struck. October 31 was a bad time, and as stated earlier in this column, no one felt pain. And, I hope the writers saw that,
reality TV not only was was necessary to keep TV on the air.

But everyone shouldn't relax just yet. June is just around the corner...and the Screen Actors Guild isn't ready to start negotiating. Just warning you isn't over yet.

What is over is the American Idol Hollywood week, and we have our top 24. I have to admit, when American Idol said they would change the game...they did. And I liked what I saw.

They did hit us over the head with the fact that they allowed musical instruments to be played, and for the most part it exposed a lot of weaknesses in contenders who didn't have the chops. And it helped those who had them.

The new format went like this for those who didn't see it. Of the 164 who got the golden ticket, everyone sang in front of the judges. 48 got unanimous yeses, and made it to the final round. 116 didn't, but got a second chance. If they didn't make it in the 2nd chance, they didn't make it to the final day. And in the final day, we saw it narrowed to the top 50. And on Wednesday night, the longest walk in Idol happened when 50 were cut to 24.

So what did we see...we saw the semi-good talent get cut. Most of the people spotlighted in the packages from the audition rounds got canned. But a few have
made it to the top 24.

And after the Top 24, we have seen one thing. This class is the anti-Sanjaya. Kyle Ensley and Josiah Leming...out. This could be the most talented Top 24 ever. And to all the message board posters who feel sympathy about Josiah Leming's plight, know this. He wasn't that good. He showed immaturity and emotional instability that wouldn't have done him well in this competition. And he isn't coming back, no matter how hard you beg and plead.

And experience showed. All the people who had experience in bands, previous record or previous talent shows made the Top 24. My personal favorites are David Archuleta, Danny Noriega and Michael Johns for the guys and Kristy Lee Cook for the females.

Now, it's up to you guys. So what happens in this round...on Tuesday nights, it's the guys turn to sing (12 of them) and Wednesday-it's the ladies (another 12), and on Thursday night...2 people from each group get eliminated until we have the top 12.

What do you have to do to get to the top 12...and make it as the next American Idol?

- You HAVE to make yourself noticeable. When you go from 24 to 20 to 16 to 12, you have to stand out from the crowd. Sing well, or some cases sing badly. If you are so bad...two things can happen, you can have one bad performance and be saved...or you can be so bad you are gone.

- When you sing well, have that story to tell. David Archuleta, in my opinion, is a lock for the top 12. He is 16 years old, very appealing to the eye, and has the story of the paralyzed vocal cords...and with a voice like

- You can't not assume to be safe...ever. You have to take calculated risks...and sing you're a-game every time. If you don't you are done.

- Don't argue with the judges. Big mistake. It shows you can't handle the criticism and you can't handle the pressure.

- If you have skeletons in your out because people will find them. Antonella Barba got unwanted national attention when explicit photos of her appeared on the net.

- And finally... "Don't Forget The Lyrics." This round has been brutal to people who have.

A few random items to finish the podcast with this week:

- First, I am really looking forward to the premiere of "Ultimate Recipe Showdown" on the Food Network. Guy Fieri, the winner of the 2nd "Next Food Network Star" and a find in his own right, co-hosts with Marc Summers, host and producer extraordinaire. Combine The Pillsbury Bake-Off with Iron Chef America and this is what you get. The pedigree on this one looks real good.

- In the "If at first you don't succeed, try try again" department. GSN is trying again with the interactive game format with GSN Live, debuting February 25. This
three hour block of games with Fred Roggin and Heidi Bohay looks promising. We have a toll free number (YES!) as well as online play. We have a new car, high end prizes and Wink Martindale on it's debut week. I like the potential of the segments of "The Bonus Round" (where past game show winners reflect on their experiences...hint hint...I am available.) and "Behind the Curtain" (which shows how game shows are made. If this sounds reminiscent of "Club A.M".... that's good. Because if that's how they do this, we are in for a good time. If it's more like the bad times of out. I really hope that they do this right.

- Next, we have a "Too Little, Too Late" file. In New York, the NBC Affiliate is moving Crosswords from the 4PM slot, where it was getting crushed by Oprah and Judge the 11AM slot starting February 25, where it's going to get crushed by The Price isRight and The View. Ellen is going back to the 4PM get crushed by Oprah and Judge Judy. This sounds like switching deck chairs on the Titanic. Crosswords needs to find a slot to grow on it's own. Don't know if it will happen here in NY anytime soon.

- Finally, do you think CBS is trying harder to give away $1,000,000 when Drew Carey hosts the first of 6 "Million Dollar Spectaculars" on February 22? First off, they are going to designate a game as "the Million Dollar Game" where a million could be won, and if a contestant bids within $1,000 of the showcase they win both showcases and a cool mil. Now, I think they are doing this because during all the times of the Barker MDS, all you had to do was hit the dollar on your bonus spin. I think they are trying to give more chances and make it a tad easier to do. I am intrigued.

That's all for this time...this is Jason Block saying...don't just play to win.

Jason Block still hasn't made his million yet, but he's trying. E-mail him at