CBS News will not cover Ron Reagan's prime-time speech at the Democratic National Convention live and in its entirety because it won't have enough words.
"We discussed [airing] it, but we don't plan to do it as of now," CBS News President Andrew Heyward told TV critics Monday. "It's about an eight-minute speech."
None of the broadcast networks plans to carry the speech live. Heyward acknowledged that the very fact the son of a Republican president and GOP icon was going to give a speech at the Democratic convention was newsworthy. But, he said, he thinks it is sufficient for CBS to handle it on "The Early Show" and the evening news.
"To take another hour of coverage for an eight-minute speech, I don't think is justified," he said.
Asked if it was possible to cover an eight-minute speech in under an hour, Heyward responded, "You mean to break in for eight minutes and come out again? The problem with that is you open yourself up to almost unmanageable sets of debates.
"In other words, to say, 'We're interrupting now, here's a bulletin, so listen to the eight minutes,' I just don't feel it's justified," he continued, noting there are "so many places where people can hear Ron Reagan in his entirety."
John Goodman's new CBS sitcom, "Center of the Universe," is DOA.
We know this because of the Jay Bobbin Seven Questions Rule.
During the semiannual TV Press Tour here, networks take turns conducting Q&A sessions about new prime-time series, and over the years TV critics have noticed that any time Tribune Media Services senior feature writer Jay Bobbin gets in seven questions in one session, it spells death for the show.
This is no reflection on Bobbin, one of the more intrepid members of the media to attend the tour. Even at sessions for the worst show ever made -- and Goodman's new sitcom is definitely a contender -- Bobbin asks his questions with vim and volume. But he is no microphone hog. If he gets in seven questions at a session, it's usually because the other critics have already written off the series and, while there in body, are mulling more important matters, like what's for lunch and will CBS let them bring their girlfriends to the party that night at Dodger Stadium.
Some network publicists know about the Jay Bobbin Seven Questions Rule and, because people are naturally superstitious in an industry in which no one really understands what separates hits from flops and hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake, they will cut off a Q&A session after Bobbin's sixth question. "We're painfully aware of the rule," one network rep confided.
Bobbin is tenacious and a credit to his profession, but this is apparently lost on the handful of critics who were unhappy to learn that The TV Column was going to write about the Bobbin Rule. Maybe they were afraid it would hurt Bobbin's feelings to learn about their Jay Bobbin Seven Questions Rule. One critic begged, as a personal favor, that we kill this item because "we need Bobbin and if he dries up, those sessions will become even more dull."
And yes, being at press tour with the Television Critics Association is a lot like being in junior high. So, though we'd love to tell you which critics tried to talk us out of revealing the Bobbin Rule, if we did that no one would sit with us at the lunch table, and just forget about being asked to the dance.
Bobbin, who's been covering press tours for 22 years, was surprised when we told him about the Bobbin Rule. "Until right now I was not aware of it," he told The TV Column. At which point those critics who objected to our writing about the rule came over to monitor the conversation and, patting Bobbin on the arm, assured him the critics all think very highly of him and hope he will not clam up now that the cat's out of the bag.
"That will never happen," Bobbin said with a smile.
On the other hand, you have to hand it to the Television Critics Association for naming Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show" the year's best news and information program. That happened during the 20th annual TCA Awards ceremony over the weekend.
We think Stewart was given the TCA Award because his Comedy Central show was the only one early on to ask the tough questions about the decision to invade Iraq. Of course, it was for humorous effect, but at least they were asking. Additionally, Stewart is the only person headlining a "news and information" show whose head still fits into the state of Rhode Island, which is reason enough to give him the trophy.
Stewart was somewhat baffled by the award -- his show won a TCA award last year for best comedy program. In his taped acceptance speech, he pointed out that his newscast is "fake," " illegitimate" and "unprofessional." Stewart insisted it must be some sort of mistake and said that if his show had an actual fact-checking apparatus, like an real news program, they would check it out.
Speaking of mistakes, the trophy Stewart will receive has the word "television" misspelled "televsion" on it. All of them do; likewise all of the special glossy 44-page commemorative programs that were handed out for the ceremony, which was held at the Westin Century Plaza hotel, site of Summer TV Press Tour 2004.
This was the last straw for some critics, who were furious about the commemorative programs, brainchild of TCA President Kay McFadden, TV columnist for the Seattle Times, and TCA board member Bill Brioux, the TV critic for the Toronto Sun.
To pay for the programs, they hired an outside firm to hit up the networks and studios that the television critics cover to buy ads in the program, unbeknown to the other board members or the general TCA membership of more than 200. This information came to light to some of the other board members only in late May and to the rest of the pack just days before the press tour convened. For those TCA members who are McFadden detractors and think of her as a sort of Greer Garson-meets-Nurse Ratched, the secrecy with which the ad sales campaign was conducted was inexcusable. During their semiannual meeting last Saturday, TCA members in a 42 to 30 vote passed a resolution declaring the campaign an "ethical lapse." They instructed the TCA leadership to apologize to all organizations that had been hit up for an ad buy.
During that meeting, McFadden acknowledged that she had erred in not discussing the campaign with other board members; however, she voted against the resolution. After that the TCA members attending the meeting voted McFadden, who ran unopposed, president for another year.
Monday the Los Angeles Times reported that during the ad sales campaign, McFadden personally e-mailed one industry executive who had not bought an ad to inform him that his competitors had. McFadden told the Times she didn't think that was soliciting an ad buy, just a "friendly heads-up."
She told The TV Column on Monday that she had sent an e-mail to ABC's Kevin Brockman to discuss the network's press tour dates, in the course of which she let him know that the other broadcast networks had all purchased ads, because, she said, she knew that was something that Brockman "would want to know." McFadden said that in the e-mail she told Brockman it made no difference to the TCA whether ABC purchased an ad.
We attended the session for the new CBS sitcom based on the Washington Post Style section columns of Tony Kornheiser, because we think Kornheiser is fabulous and, besides, we're not stupid.
Asked how he felt about having a sitcom based on the columns, which he grievously ended in 2001, The Fabulous Tony Kornheiser informed critics that he got paid to write the columns, paid again to collect them into a book and was now getting paid a third time to use them as the basis of "Listen Up."
"I feel it's working out for me -- how about you?" asked TFTK, appearing before the critics as a giant head via satellite.
Inevitably, Jason Alexander, who plays TFTK (only his name is Tony Klineman in the series), was asked the "Seinfeld" Curse question. You know: How do you live with the knowledge that your first post-"Seinfeld" sitcom failed, as did Michael Richards's first post-"Seinfeld" sitcom and Julia Louis-Dreyfus's first post-"Seinfeld" sitcom?
" 'Seinfeld' was not a TV show, it was a phenomenon . . . and a once-in-a-lifetime thing," Alexander responded, adding that he had no illusions that any series he does after "Seinfeld" will be as big. Still, he added graciously, he is grateful that co-starring in the NBC comedy has given him the opportunity to do other things, including this new sitcom, which he said "I am also grateful for."