Surfing Shark Swallowed by Big Fish Gemstar

(Istockphoto.com)

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By Lisa de Moraes
Thursday, June 22, 2006

Jump the Shark has jumped the shark.

TV Guide parent Gemstar -- 41 percent owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. -- has purchased the Web site Jumptheshark.com and related assets from Jump the Shark Inc.

For the uninitiated, the expression "jump the shark" comes from the episode of the '70s sitcom "Happy Days" in which Fonzie, on water skis, actually jumped over a shark. Fans believe the episode signaled creative bankruptcy on the part of the writers as well as the beginning of the end for the show.

On the Web site, TV fans debate whether various shows have "jumped the shark" and, if so, when.

For instance, the majority of participants believe the long-running prime-time soap "Dallas" jumped the shark when Bobby Ewing showed up in Pam's shower, meaning that his death -- and the entire 1985-86 season -- had been Pam's dream. You can see their point.

The majority of site fans also believe the 1980s ABC comedy "Moonlighting" jumped the shark when Maddie and David -- Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis -- had sex for the first time. Again, hard to argue.

More recently, there has been a raging debate as to whether "24" has jumped the shark and, among those who say yes, whether it happened at 3 p.m. on the First Day, when Teri got amnesia, or at 6 p.m. on the Second Day, when Kim encountered the Sherman Oaks mountain lion.

As part of the Gemstar deal, Jon Hein, founder of Jump the Shark Inc., will show up on TVGuide.com, TV Guide magazine and the TV Guide Channel.

"We believe Jump the Shark will be a valuable addition to our repertoire of entertainment content," Gemstar-TV Guide Senior VP Sanjay Reddy said in a statement. Hein did him one better with: "Gemstar-TV Guide was a natural fit for Jump the Shark and I'm excited to expand and enhance the brand with the leader on all things television."

Yup. Totally jumped the shark.

* * *

Anderson Cooper is the new Larry King.

A.C.'s "360°" program snagged 1.3 million viewers Tuesday night thanks to his celebrity-with-a-cause interview with Angelina Jolie.

It was Cooper's contribution to World Refugee Day at CNN; day-long programming on CNN and CNN International featured the global refugee crisis.

"It may seem strange that a glamorous actress like Angelina Jolie would devote so much of her time and money to help these displaced people," Cooper said at the top of his show about Jolie's role as goodwill ambassador for the U.N. Refugee Agency, which helps nearly 15 million displaced people around the world.

"But I think, in the next two hours, you will come to understand why she does it and how her mission and motherhood has changed her life."

The Jolie interview was considered quite the "get" for celebrity journalist Cooper. She and Brad Pitt had only recently returned from Namibia, where she had given birth to their baby girl, Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt.

Cooper's interview with Jolie, padded with other material to fill out the 10-to-midnight time slot, doubled his calendar-year average and beat all cable news competition in its two hours, including Fox News Channel's combination of Greta Van Susteren's "On the Record" and a repeat of "The O'Reilly Factor." (In its first play, at 8 p.m., "The O'Reilly Factor" had averaged about 2 million viewers.)

"360°" was CNN's most watched show Tuesday night; "Larry King Live" logged 973,000 viewers.


© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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