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Archives: June 2009

CBS Launches “Project L.E.N.O.” for Affiliates to Counter Jay

Jay Leno An acronym-centric story from Broadcasting & Cable
CBS sees opportunity when the 10 p.m. The Jay Leno Show debuts on NBC in the fall, and is looking to maximize it with what it calls “an aggressive, multi-tiered local market campaign” to boost its affiliates’ performance at 10-and in late news.

“Project L.E.N.O. (Late Prime Enhanced News Opportunity)” is a “tool kit” of materials CBS is offering stations, including “sponsorable broadcast spots and behind-the-scenes vignettes, sponsorable web banners and tagable radio spots.” CBS says the package also includes an “affiliate swap spot” to promote 10 p.m. Full article…

Digital Casting, Poised for a Role Beyond Hollywood

Digital Audition The New York Times reports on digital services for compiling and sharing reels and audition tapes, something that certainly resonates in the world of broadcast journalism…
The entertainment industrys trickiest compilation remains the actors list. Coming up with six or a dozen candidates for every role in every movie and television show is so complex that it has spawned an entire profession: that of the casting director.

Recently, the art of list building among those who cast roles has been altered by a little-noticed technological revolution that should have even those of us who dont know stage left from stage right paying attention.

The change involves using digital techniques to compile, swap and assess lists of actors techniques that have the potential to be used more generally when people apply (or audition) for jobs. Full article…

Conan O’Brien Slips to No. 2 In Late-Night Race

Conan O'Brien From the Wall Street Journal…
Conan O’Brien, NBC’s new “Tonight Show” host, has slipped sharply among older viewers but is attracting younger ones, as the network tries to expand its late-night lineup.

Last week, Mr. O’Brien averaged 3.3 million viewers, pushing the show’s weekly average behind CBS’s “The Late Show With David Letterman” for the first time in more than three years, according to Nielsen Co. data released Thursday afternoon. But Mr. O’Brien retained a big margin among the coveted viewers between 18 and 49, and also bested predecessor Jay Leno’s performance with that group last June. Full Article…

Times Co. May Include 2nd Paper in Globe Sale

The New York Times reports...
The New York Times Company hopes to sell a newspaper in central Massachusetts along with The Boston Globe and wants the buyer of the papers to take on $59 million in pension liabilities. It intends to make a deal quite quickly, according to a letter sent to potential bidders.

NY Times Co Logo The Goldman Sachs letter begins by referring to a transaction involving the Times Companys New England Media Group, which includes both The Globe and The Worcester Telegram & Gazette, which the company bought in 2000, along with their Web sites.

It has been widely assumed that a buyer would have to assume some pension liabilities, which are fleshed out by the Goldman letter. It cites plans that a new owner would take over, for employees at the two papers, that have $123 million in assets and $182 million in obligations, for a net liability of $59 million. More…

Direct Response Pitchman Billy Mays is Found Dead

Billy Mays Over the past several months, the public has seen an influx of direct response advertising as the recession has caused typical advertisers to cut their budgets and left television stations looking to alternative buyers–enter the Snuggie, the ShamWow, and Cash4Gold. As well as the slew of products that ubiquitous pitchman Billy Mays enthusiastically promoted.

Mays was found dead Sunday morning in his Tampa, FL home. WTVT, Tampa’s Fox affiliate, conducted what is believed to be Mays’s last interview…
Billy Mays’ Final TV Interview

As well, here’s a recent profile that WTVT did of “master salesman”…
You literally see him on virtually every TV and cable channel selling everything. Billy Mays hawks with no fear. “Whatever product I’m selling, it’s like putting on Superman’s cape,” he says. “I become Billy Mays, the ultimate pitchman. And that’s who I am. And I’m proud to be that.” Full article and video… (Al Tompkins, Poynter Institute)

Back in May, WNYC’s “On the Media” profiled the veteran pitchman and new reality TV star. “Pitch Perfect” story from NPR…

Google Thought Michael Jackson Traffic Was Attack

Graph Google Traffic
According to CNET…
Google has confirmed that the surge of Michael Jackson-related searches on Google News Thursday was first interpreted as an attack on its service.

Google News was inaccessible for some people Thursday afternoon right as rumors of Jackson’s death began to circulate, replaced by an error message reading “We’re sorry, but your query looks similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application. To protect our users, we can’t process your request right now.”

Of course, those queries were quite legitimate, as millions around the world searched for accurate information regarding Jackson following reports that he had suffered cardiac arrest. The spike in queries began at about 2:45 p.m. PDT Thursday, and Google thought the traffic was an attack for about 25 minutes before realizing what was going on. Full article…

Fox L.A. Stations Consider Layoffs

KTTV-TV/KCOP-TV Logos From The Hollywood Reporter
In response to the tough ad market, which has hit local TV stations particularly hard, Fox’s Los Angeles KTTV-TV/KCOP-TV duopoly on Friday took a step toward possible companywide layoffs. A spokeswoman for the stations confirmed that 95 staffers on Friday were given 60-day layoff notices.

The notices may or may not be followed by layoffs, depending on whether the economic climate will improve in the next couple of months. The notices are said to affect most of the departments, with engineering and creative services among the hardest hit. There were no anchors among the recipients.More…

Story of Michael Jackson’s Death Not Going Away Anytime Soon

Al Sharpton at Apollo Celebration Throughout his life, Michael Jackson was a consistently rich source of news stories. His record-breaking popularity as a musician and the controversies and court cases that marred his later life made him a recurring presence in tabloids and on newscasts. Several recent developments surrounding his death appear to set his story up for being a continued fixture on the news…

From Reuters
Jackson’s Family Seeks Second Autopsy
Michael Jackson’s family gathered at his parents’ suburban Los Angeles home on Saturday to make funeral arrangements for the troubled King of Pop amid reports that they are seeking a second, independent autopsy. More…

From E! Online
Former Jackson Nanny Alleges Drug Abuse
The Times of London has published a revealing and question-raising interview with the star’s former nanny, an employee of nearly 17 years, Grace Rwaramba. When asked about Jackson’s rumored prescription drug abuse, the Times article quotes Rwaramba as saying, “He always ate too little and mixed too much. I had to pump his stomach many times . . . He always mixed so much of it.” More…

From the New York Daily News
Rev. Al Sharpton vows to fight for Michael Jackson and his family
Still reeling from news of Michael Jackson’s death, the Rev. Al Sharpton is headed to Los Angeles today to help the Jackson family plan funeral arrangements.
“Mr. Jackson seemed very sad. He did not seem like himself,” he said of the pop legend’s father. “Mrs. Jackson couldn’t even come to the phone, she was devastated. Jermaine and Jackie are devastated too, yet they are determined. They want to see their brother treated right. They told me ‘You’ve gotta keep out there and defend Michael.’” More

From Billboard
Michael Jackson Poised To Make Billboard Chart History, Again
Next week, Michael Jackson will once again make music history as many of his albums are poised to shake up the Billboard charts with incredible sales increases. More…

CBS, CNN Win in Coverage of the Death of Michael Jackson

CBS Michael Jackson Special From the New York Times
CBSs Life and Death of Michael Jackson garnered the most viewers of the three network specials about the singer, drawing 7.6 million at 10 p.m., according to Nielsens estimates. That compared with 5.7 million for ABCs 20/20 special about Mr. Jackson an hour earlier at 9 and 5.5 million for NBCs two-hour Dateline special, which looked back at the lives of both Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett from 9 to 11.

From TVNewser
Showing it still has the power to draw cable viewers in times of breaking news, CNN came in first last night during the 6pm ET hour when the news broke that Michael Jackson had died.
CNN 3.10M Total Viewers
FNC 2.82M Total Viewers
MSNBC 1.25M Total Viewers

David Axelrod Defends the Nico Pitney Question on “Meet the Press”

David Axelrod on "Meet the Press"
David Axelrod, Senior Advisor to President Obama, was a guest on “Meet the Press” yesterday. It is likely that Axelrod was expecting questions from host David Gregory on health care, the situation in Iran, and even about the death of Michael Jackson. He was probably not expecting questions about the National Editor of the Huffington Post.

Here’s an excerpt from the transcript of the show…

MR. GREGORY: Well, why is it appropriate to coordinate with a reporter about what’s asked at a time when we’re championing democracy around the world?
MR. AXELROD: No, no, David, you miss…
MR. GREGORY: Is that, is that what you should do at a press conference?
MR. AXELROD: You’re not, you’re not listening to what I said. We didn’t coordinate with, with him about what was asked.

MR. GREGORY: Right. So you would, so you’d do it again?
MR. AXELROD: Yeah, I have no problem with what was done. We want to foment dialogue around the world. And if we can get quotations from within Iran asked, whatever those questions may be–and as I said, that one was a tough one–I think we’re, we’re doing something positive.

Full video of the episode…