The Meredith Effect - October 19
Numbers Game time. And for the second time in so
many columns, I'm asking for viewer help. More as you read on, but right now,
let's play. And with all the major stuff that you're hearing all over the place,
we start with something that may have slipped under your radar.
What a difference "Today" makes indeed.
Turns out the best thing that would ever happen
to the daytime edition of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" would be for Meredith
Vieira to not allow herself to be pigeon-holed as an Emmy-award-winning
journalist-game-show-host-working-mother. And now the increased Meredith
exposure is resulting in a blip being registered on the "Millionaire" show that
we honestly haven't seen in a while...
This week, the show scored a 3.1, up from the
usual upper 2s it was scoring over the summer, AND it's up 11 percent from last
Now think about this, all the other shows in the
genre were either down or flat, this is TV Week saying. I'm guessing Family Feud
was flat, because let's keep it real here. The Feud was flat for the last three
years. But this isn't about guessing, it's about numbers, and at the moment,
they're favoring "Millionaire", and the fact that there is so much buzz being
generated about Meredith's status on the show this week with high ratings and
guests hosting... Those are all facets that can't really be ignored.
I mean, I haven't heard this sort of thing since
Jim Peck was filling in for Jack Barry on the Joker's Wild... and this was the
early 80s, when I was all but 3 years old. So you can think about the role of
consistency in the gamespace of the 21st Century.
Then again, there was the whole thing about Pat
and Alex switching places one sunny April Fool's Day. So you think about that as
I'm asking you to think a lot this week, aren't
I? Well, here's why. I'd like to propose a challenge to YOU, the loyal friends
and true. Simple question. Who would you want to see occupy Meredith's seat on
Millionaire while she's away? E-mail your responses to me,
I'll put them in a future column.
For now, though, congrats Meredith on yet another
chapter in your great success story.
Now onto darker, more sinister things... if you
happen to be NBC.
1 vs. 700.
Now for the numbers you hear less about in this
column, but are still very much important. Those would be the "presidential
flash cards." Citing the story from the Toronto Sun this week...
"NBC's announcement (that) it will cut 700
jobs to remain profitable is jarring enough. But there's also its TV chief Jeff
Zucker's news that NBC will cut all scripted series from 8 to 9 p.m. in an
additional effort to save money. NBC sources say it's part of an effort to save
$750 million (U.S.) and reinvest the money in digital media.
"Zucker told the Wall Street Journal that advertising interest isn't high enough
to justify the expense of scripted series. For example NBC's game show Deal Or
No Deal costs $1.1 million to air, compared with $2.6 million for an episode of
Friday Night Lights."
And then newbies Jericho and Ugly Betty come in
and completely decimate his argument, but that's another argument for another
In the eyes of NBC, it makes a little bit of
sense. Two of NBC's big his this season have been "Deal or No Deal" and "1 vs.
100." Then there are the critical raves "Friday Night Lights" and "Studio 60 on
the Sunset Strip" that may end this season two more case files in the cabinet of
"Brilliant but Cancelled." If you think about the $1.1 million it costs to
create one episode of "Deal or No Deal" (eight hour tape days notwithstanding),
even less to create "1 vs. 100", and the $2.6 million to make one episode of
"Friday Night Lights". Deal or No Deal can drum up an audience of 15 million on
Mondays, while "Friday Night Lights" can only muster about forty percent of
that, with 6.67 million viewers this week alone.
It all goes back to that old credo: need money
fast? Put on a game show. NBC is taking heed, transforming the 8p family hour
into something that could accurately be called "GSN on NBC". Not official, so
don't hold me to that. After all, we have two big hits for the network, one
time-slot building "Biggest Loser" (7.39 million this week), and one rumored
project in the offing, it could very well turn into summer time all the time.
NBC wants to see this is returning to the golden
age of variety shows and the occasional primetime quizzer. On the other hand,
scripted producers and TV observers from the LA Times to the San Francisco Gate
are saying that this is NBC basically throwing in the towel.
We'll see if this turns out to be a winning
strategy. One thing is for sure. That whole "media blowing things out of
proportion" spin machine is on at NBC, as evidenced by NBC Entertainment
president Kevin Reilly's rebuttal from Variety...
"You can't be exclusive with reality at
8. You have to be in the scripted business. It's not an absolute."
So fans of "My Name is Earl" and "The Office" (myself included) need not worry.
The Weekly Rant, or Kenny Gameshow loses...
Let's do a little math here. On his latest show,
"Bachelor" Lorenzo Borghese drummed up 9.85 million. The "Black-chelor" Flavor
Flav drummed up 7.5 million. Yet "Flavor of Love" is the more entertaining of
the two shows. And arguably, the most talked about, if only for a) the drama,
and b) the man behind the drama... and no, I'm not talking about Big Rick.
Another thing to think about.
After all, "The Bachelor" franchise has purported
from the very beginning that the titular character, whoever he or she may be,
was looking for true love. Even so, of the 12 or so seasons that have aired thus
far, only one resulted in a lasting meaningful relationship.
So far as I know, "Flavor of Love" didn't really
make THAT concrete of a promise. So far as I know, Flav just wanted someone he
could relate to and that he could hit on the side. He didn't find it once, so
he's going about it again. It'll be a matter of time before we hear ANYTHING on
a "Strange Love 2" featuring Flav and Deelishis, but hey, why not give them the
benefit of the doubt.
I mean, any relationship that can survive the
onslaught of New York can pretty much survive anything, right? RIGHT?!
So who do you want to see host "Millionaire"?
E-mail Chico with your picks at email@example.com.