TV critics fear pledge-drive programming; they hate pledge-drive programming. They also have never spent any TV Press Tour time with pledge-drive programming.
PBS decided that they would bring pledge-drive programming to TV critics at Summer TV Press Tour 2011. TV critics would get to know the producer, the host, realize how much they have in common, at the end of which they would hold hands and sing “We are the World,” or maybe something by Peter, Paul, and Mary.
TV critics were filled with fear and loathing when they saw that PBS’s weekend press tour schedule included a little something called “60s Pop Rock: My Music” hosted by The Monkees’ Davy Jones. They protested to Kerger:
“I know my affiliate would testify to the fundraising power of an instrument like the ‘60s nostalgia music show that you’re presenting here this time,” said one critic, speaking for many.
“But does its presence here, and the spotlight you’re giving it, say anything about your fundraising situation, including the recent public fundraising crisis? For a long time, it was sort of an unspoken thing that these were important programs to the affiliate and the network, but it really wasn’t a topic of discussion at an event like this.”
And then, to their surprise, Kerger told them in no uncertain terms, that PBS is done apologizing to them at Press Tour for its fundraising programming.
“What we’re hoping to do is to really not have sort of two categories of programs -- there’s the pledge programs, and then there’s the rest of the schedule -- and really look at it holistically as work that we’re doing together.
From here on out, she said, the Davy Jones’s of the world will come to the Press Tour with their nostalgic feel-good sing-along music specials and TV critics will like it. “60s Pop Rock: My Music” now fits perfectly into PBS’s wheelhouse. It’s “work that…isn’t seen in many other places,” Kerger said, and “one of the reasons it’s popular is that there are not a lot of places frankly, there are not a lot of places for a wide range of music on television.
“So being able to highlight that, here, is something that we’re really happy to be doing,” she concluded sweetly.
A few hours later, Davy Jones was brought out on stage to face the critics.
It was His Moment.
He started talking – and never looked back:
“Hey, hello. Actually I’m Davy’s dad. Davy will be out here in a minute.”
“I work with Peter [Noone] all the time…now he’s singing “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Walker.” You know what I’m saying?
“]Women] used to throw knickers and now they’re throwing Depends. What can I say?”
“]This show] is a breakthrough too. It is the first time that PBS has released a [fundraising] program that’s going national...usually it’s regional. People willy-nilly do it whenever they want. Hopefully the president [of PBS] is not here -- I don’t mean to say ‘willy-nilly in front of her.”
“I got into my car and I drove across the country to my house, to my farm in Pennsylvania where I keep and train racehorses…this is my 50th year in show business.”
“I wouldn’t let my kids watch some of the [TV] programs, or my grandkids. I do watch them myself, like “SpongeBob” or a few “Scooby-Doo Meets Davy Jones,” you know? What’s next for me? Shakespeare? Who knows?
“ ‘Hey, hey we’re the Monkees’ – it ruined my acting career, basically. All right? But that’s up to me to change that…maybe there was a phone call a couple days ago to go on ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ you know? If they would have called me three years ago I would have said ‘yes,’ you know? What am I dancing against – a boxer and a baseball player? Do you know what I mean? I’m a song and dance man, you know?
“Can I ask this quickly?” one critic asked. She was one of few critics to get a word in edgewise for the next forty minutes.