On Thanksgiving Day, CNBC will air a one-hour program called "Watch and Make Money: A User's Guide to CNBC." In it, host Alex Trebek will "examine the best ways to use the network to monitor investments and achieve profits," the network says. It'll include interviews with CNBC on-air talent and testimonials from happy CNBC "winners" who have used the network and "reaped the financial rewards," CNBC says.
Sound like an infomercial to you? Sounds like an infomercial to me.
Trebek begs to differ.
"I don't think it's an infomercial--it's an information-mercial," Trebek told The Washington Post's Beth Berselli, speaking by phone from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange where he had been interviewing CNBC anchors for the program.
"It's designed to help people understand the market and how CNBC can help them understand the market," he explained.
"It's self-publicity for CNBC; they have a great lineup of experts who work the show every day," Trebek added.
But it's definitely not an infomercial.
Who cares if it's real. Not the record 4.1 million homes that tuned in to the season finale of MTV's "The Real World" last week. That's about 80 percent more than last year's season finale.
The one-hour wrap to season No. 8 was a fitting end to the show's most-watched season ever, in which it averaged about 3.4 million homes each week--2 1/2 times the audience during the first season and up about 40 percent compared with last year.
Small wonder. This year's main attraction was Ruthie Alcaide, a 21-year-old Rutgers University student with a major drinking problem. On just her second night at the Hawaii beach house that was home all season, she guzzled so much she had to have her stomach pumped, compliments of the local hospital. Later, when she got behind the wheel of a car while snockered, the production crew kept filming as she drove off. Her "roomies" finally got her to seek therapy--which also made for some Must-See TV.
MTV milked viewers' interest in the alcohol-soaked Real Worldie right up to the end, holding a "Real World" Garage Sale on its Web site to sell off the set and then donating the proceeds to Recording Artists, Actors and Athletes Against Drunk Driving.
Maybe next year they'll get real lucky and land a pregnant junkie.
It's the November sweeps; time for another of Barbara Walters's "Most Fascinating People" chat-fests. This one's airing on Nov. 30, and Walters apparently thinks there's still some life left in the Monica Lewinsky story--or at least interest in seeing La Lewinsky minus 60 pounds. That's how much she's shed since her exclusive two-hour sit-down with Walters last March.
ABC has bought six episodes of a new Disney-produced doctor drama from Paul Attanasio, based on the nonfiction book "The Measure of Our Days" by Jerome Groopman, about the ways patients handle serious illness.
A former Washington Post film critic, Attanasio was one of the creators of the NBC drama "Homicide: Life on the Street." In addition to snagging screenwriting Oscar noms for "Quiz Show" and "Donnie Brasco," he also adapted Michael Crichton's bestseller "Disclosure" for the big screen.
The Sci-Fi Channel has a new idea for talk show guests--dead people. The cable channel has hired "medium" John Edward, who says he can see the dearly departed, to host the series, with guests who want to contact a deceased someone.
A pilot for the show will be shot next month and, if all goes well, it will be rushed onto the network's lineup.
Author of the book "One Last Time," Edward himself has been a frequent talk show guest, showing up on "The Roseanne Show," "The Maury Povich Show" and "Larry King Live."
ABC is making some changes to its sitcom slate, to take hold as soon as the November sweeps race has wrapped up. Starting Tuesday, Dec. 7, "Oh Grow Up" moves to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays, following "Spin City." "It's like, you know . . .," which had been airing on Tuesdays, will move to 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays on Dec. 8. "Norm," which moved to 9:30 p.m. Wednesdays last week, has been permanently shifted into that post-"Drew Carey Show" slot.
NBC, home of Gary David Goldberg's '80s hit "Family Ties," is back in business with the producer after picking up six episodes of his new sitcom called "Battery Park" for later this season.
Elizabeth Perkins will play a tough detective in New York's Battery Park who works with a ragtag bunch of cops. Here's where things get strange. She's replacing Charlie Sheen; he was supposed to star in a suspiciously similar-sounding New York-based cop sitcom from Goldberg called "Sugar Hill." That project was developed last spring for ABC, put on the fast track, but ultimately not picked up for the season.
NBC also has cut a check for a comedy pilot to be written by "Big Daddy" screenwriter Steve Franks.
"Those Who Can't" is about a young guy who works as a substitute teacher. It's being produced by the guy who used to head NBC's program development division, Warren Littlefield.