Monthly Archives: December 2007

Ox Notes: December 13, 2007

The Golden Globe nominations were announced today, as were the Writers Guild Award nominees for television. I think Transformers may be the only non-Bollywood film I’ve see this year, and it didn’t get nominated for anything. I would’ve liked to see a Best Actor list that read: "George Clooney, Denzel Washington, Optimus Prime…"

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the Writers Guild strike could save the networks money if they abandon the traditional pilot season and adopt the year-round development plan that cable networks use.

Thanks to her drama-filled tenure on Dancing with the Stars, Marie Osmond will get her own talk show in 2008. Her dolls will cohost.

TV Guide has Jeff Probst’s assessment of the remaining contestants’ chances of winning Survivor: China’s $1 million prize at Sunday night’s finale. And the most recent Survivor eliminated, Erik, told TV Guide that while he was starving in the Chinese wilderness, he kept thinking of "Oreos crumbled on peanut butter with chocolate syrup and Nutella with a cherry on top."

Tonight’s episode of Supernatural, which happens to be the last new episode of 2007 (same goes for tonight’s Smallville), is a "very gory" Christmas special.

MOIB reader TortoiseHill posted in the comments thread of Monday’s Ox Notes about the experience of attending a live taping of the new American Gladiators. The LAist features another account of a live Gladiators taping, and the author of this post was so frustrated that he walked out of the taping after 90 minutes.

If any of you are like me, you just realized that you haven’t purchased Christmas presents for anyone yet. This is probably a good time to visit to see what nostalgic bits of TV gold have been released on DVD. The first season of The Fall Guy for my dad? Check. But it looks as if my brother will have to go another year without Manimal.

Ox Notes: December 12, 2007

ABC, because the network just can’t help itself, has expanded the January 7 premiere of Dance War to two hours. Can’t we have one dance competition show that’s only an hour long?

NBC elected not to renew Journeyman, although it will air all 13 completed episodes of the show.

Masterpiece Theater returns to PBS on January 13, only it’s been renamed Masterpiece Classic and features a new host: Agent Scully from The X-Files.

TV Guide has an interview with Chris, the most recent designer booted from Project Runway.

Golden Globe nominees will be announced tomorrow, but will any of them risk alienating the Writers Guild and show up to the awards ceremony on January 13?

Joss Whedon and cast members from his shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly marched in the picket lines on Friday. Sarah Michelle Gellar brought the donuts.

Network ad revenues have been negatively affected not only by the strike but also by the slumping US economy.

Even when the strike ends and writers go back to work, Ray Richmond of The Hollywood Reporter speculates that many viewers may not return. He might be on to something, since viewers seem to be content spending primetime watching NBA games on TV or renting DVDs.

Finally, TV Guide has a list of the Top 5 Things We Love About Gossip Girl. I share their appreciation for "Leighton Meester’s broken-doll sadness" as Blair. Tonight, Gossip Girl will be preempted by Crowned: The Mother of All Pageants, so use this week to catch up on the show at iTunes if you’ve not yet fallen under its spell.

Ox Notes: December 11, 2007

Helio Castroneves didn’t get to attend the official Dancing with the Stars wrap party the night of the finale, so he threw his own DwtS reunion bash over the weekend. HollyScoop has pictures from the event.

MOIB readers Jamie and Lucy pointed out a news story in which Maksim Chmerkovskiy says he will return for the next season of Dancing with the Stars if he’s asked. He cited fatigue as the reason behind his earlier statements that he was done with the show.

Rachel Hunter, who finished in fourth place on the first season of Dancing with the Stars, is reportedly taking another crack at dance floor glory on the New Zealand version of DwtS.

Project Runway’s Tim Gunn is offering to give fashion-challenged Oscar winner Meryl Streep a makeover.

In other Project Runway news, Season 4 contestant Jack Mackenroth is doing his own crossover programming by dating Top Chef 3’s Dale Levitski.

The TV writers strike has forced the cancellation of the winter press tour, where new shows are presented to TV critics, since the only new programs in development are reality shows.

And NBC is performing so far below expectations this season that it’s refunding advertisers an average of $500,000 for failing to meet ratings goals.

Speaking of goals, I’ll be spending the afternoon on the couch watching Liverpool vs. Marseille in the UEFA Champions League on ESPN 2. How I love working from home.


Ox Notes: December 10, 2007

On Saturday night, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. retained his welterweight championship by knocking out Ricky Hatton. Floyd was accompanied to the ring at the start of the match by his fellow Dancing with the Stars contestants, Helio Castroneves and Wayne Newton.

Strike talks came to a halt on Friday, with both parties becoming more publicly vocal about their frustrations with the pace of negotiations.

The strike has already rendered as effectively meaningless network ratings numbers for the season. Late night talk shows seem to be suffering the most, with viewership of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno down by 40%.

TV Guide’s Matt Roush is concerned about enduring a winter with little new to watch, apart from reality shows.

I’m a little more optimistic, now that I know that The Amazing Race will be back for a thirteenth season. And, since I’m a sucker for obstacle courses, I’m looking forward to ABC’s Wipeout, which the network describes as "Fear Factor with none of the gross."

TAR 12: Episode 6

The Amazing Race 12 was turned on its head in Croatia, as two favorites were sent home and an unlikely powerhouse duo finished in first.

The finish order for this leg of the race was decided largely in airports, as teams tried to book flights to Dubrovnik, Croatia, from Vilnius International Airport.

TK & Rachel and Nick & Don got on the first flight out, but they missed their connecting flight in Prague. There, they caught alternative flights to Croatia, though they’d be delayed several hours.

Back in Vilnius, Azaria was so busy haranguing Hendekea that neither of them noticed that their ticket agent had booked them in business class — violating one of the rules of TAR — until they tried to board the plane with the other three teams.

Azaria & Hendekea ran back to the ticket agent, but they weren’t able to switch tickets in time. They wound up on the last flight scheduled to arrive in Dubrovnik.

Meanwhile, Ronald & Christina, Nate & Jen and Kynt & Vyxsin played it safe — and smart — catching a flight that arrived quickly and allowed them plenty of time to make their connection in Warsaw. Ron & Christine managed to stay stay calm after arriving in Croatia, and they finished a rock-stacking Roadblock before the other teams had even found the first clue.

The father-daughter duo was rowing a boat through the harbor as part of the Detour when Nate & Jen made a move to catch up. But their haste only caused friction between the dating couple, prompting Jen to tell Nate as they rowed, "I hate you with a passion."

Both pairs emerged from the sea at nearly the same time, but Nate & Jen’s clothes were wet and no taxis would drive them to the location of the Pit Stop. Ronald & Christina and their dry clothes zipped by Nate & Jen in a taxi, leaving Jen crying and ranting along the roadside, blaming everything that had gone wrong that day on Nate.

Ronald & Christina ran up some stairs flanked by costumed soldiers holding muskets on their way to the finish mat. When they reached the top stair, one of the soldiers fired his musket, prompting both team members to shriek and duck. The musket was fired every time a team approached the mat, always with the same results.

Ronald & Christina finished in first place, winning a 12-foot catamaran that’s probably already available for purchase on Ebay.

Rather than waiting for their clothes to dry, Nate & Jen asked a friendly driver if he would take them to the nearby Pit Stop, even though he wasn’t officially a cabbie. They ignored a rule in the clue that stated that they must reach the Pit Stop by taxi.

They reached the mat in second place, only to be told by host Phil Keoghan that they needed to go back to the clue box and find a cab to bring them back up to the Pit Stop.

When they reached the mat the second time, Nate & Jen learned that Kynt & Vxysin had checked in while they were redoing the task, and that they were now in third place. Instead of hugging, Jen shook Nate’s hand in congratulations, which was a pretty clear signal that the two had not made up from their earlier fight.

TK & Rachel arrived in Croatia next, and they finished in fourth place. They were followed by Nick & Don, and Azaria & Hendekea. While the brother and sister were in sight of the Nick & Don during the rowing part of the Detour, they weren’t able to close the gap.

Nick & Don finished in fifth place, and Azaria & Hendekea were eliminated. They may not be $1 million richer, but at least the siblings can enjoy those romantic vacations they won together.

The Amazing Race will be off next week due to the Survivor: China finale.

Survivor China: Episode 11

In this week’s Reward Challenge, the contestants’ loved ones came to visit — and participate. Each Survivor and his or her sibling/spouse/parent had to navigate a maze while blindfolded. The winning team would be the pair that first found one another in the center of the maze.

Though Amanda and her sister seemed to be doing well — making various bird calls to echolocate each other — it was ultimately Denise and her husband who won the challenge.

For the victory, Denise and her hubby earned a feast on a touring boat. Denise was also given the power to choose two other Survivors (and their partners) to partake. After Peih-Gee had invited Denise on the cool Shaolin temple reward last episode, she and her father seemed like a lock to be invited. But, instead, Denise picked Todd, Amanda, and their respective sisters.

A spurned Peih-Gee focused her rage into action at the Immunity Challenge, which integrated a muddy obstacle course and Chinese trivia. Though Todd was fastest to navigate the course, he screwed up one of his trivia questions, and Peih-Gee won the Challenge. Before the merge, Peih-Gee’s tribe never won anything. But she’s been on a tear lately, winning an Immunity or Reward Challenge in each of the last three weeks.

After the challenge, Erik and Peih-Gee tried to convince Denise that, since she seemed destined for fourth place in her current alliance (with Todd, Amanda, and Courtney), her best bet was to join the two of them in a new three person alliance. Instead of the inevitability of Erik being voted out at Tribal Council, the trio could force a 3-3 tie.

The plan made sense, but Denise stuck with her initial alliance, and Erik was sent home. Enjoy fourth place, Denise. Fifth, if Peih-Gee wins Immunity again next week.

Ox Notes: December 5, 2007

Zap2It explains some of the revenue sharing proposals being negotiated in the current round of talks aimed at ending the strike, which just claimed the staff of Jimmy Kimmel Live as its latest casualties. Fans of Guillermo the Parking Attendant needn’t worry: Jimmy is picking up the tab for his staff’s salaries.

As scripted programming runs thin, CBS may turn to its sister channel, Showtime, for help. The network is considering running episodes of the cable hits Dexter and The Tudors in its empty time slots.

The Hollywood Reporter has a list of products Donald Trump will be hawking on his celebrity edition of The Apprentice. One of the products is Dial Yogurt Body Wash, which sounds thoroughly unappetizing.

To help promote the new season of The Wire, HBO released three short prequels to provide backstory on some of the major characters.

Jen, one of the blonde pals recently eliminated from The Amazing Race, is throwing her name out as an aspiring Dancing with the Stars contestant. You’re a dozen Bachelors short and four seasons too late for that, Jen.

For anyone interested in how a pilot makes it from page to screen, Kathy Lyford of Variety recommends the 2006 comedy The TV Set. According to the industry folk Lyford watched it with, the movie is surprisingly accurate about the process, while still being funny. Plus, it stars David Duchovny.

Greg and I are taking the rest of the week off to visit our niece and nephew (and their parents) in Seattle. See you next week!

Ox Notes: December 4, 2007

Dancing with the Stars 5 winners Helio Castroneves & Julianne Hough will join the DwtS Tour for several dates, presumably in the southeastern United States.

In an interview with TV Guide, Maksim Chmerkovskiy confirmed that he will not be back for DwtS 6.

CBS announced its winter premiere schedule, which includes reality staples like Survivor and Big Brother, set to debut February 7 and February 12, respectively.

NBC also announced the January premiere dates for Law & Order and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. I might have to start watching Law & Order again, now that Jeremy Sisto has joined the cast.

Shows produced by NBC Universal, which include Heroes and Battlestar Galactica, have been yanked from iTunes, after the contract between the two companies expired this weekend. NBC U wasn’t happy that iTunes was firm on its $1.99 per episode policy, but if they’d prefer me to download episodes for free from unsanctioned websites, I’m all for it.

If the writers strike lasts through February, as some fear it will, it will derail pilot season, where networks sell ad space on new fall shows. I’m sure there will be more details as to how that would affect viewers closer to that February deadline.

Conan O’Brien offered support to the striking writers via a video posted at Late Night Underground. It’s worth watching just to see the sparse "strike beard" Conan’s managed to grow in the month since the strike began. It’s certainly no Oreo Pizza Beard:

Ox Notes: December 3, 2007

Over the weekend, Jay Leno was shamed into paying the salaries of his non-writing staff, who were fired the same day that NBC fired Conan O’Brien’s staff. O’Brien said immediately that he’d pay his staff members’ salaries through the holidays, and staff members of CBS’s two late night talk shows are being paid by their production company, Worldwide Pants.

Leno will pay his staff on a week-to-week basis in the hopes that the strike will be resolved soon. But that seems pretty optimistic, given that some insiders are predicting that the strike will drag on until March.

Variety’s Scribe Vibe blog has a list of studios where the writers will be picketing this week.

With reality shows in vogue now thanks to the strike, NBC has ordered three new documentary-style reality shows from the company that produces Ice Road Truckers and The Deadliest Catch.

HBO announced that the final season of The Wire will debut on January 6 at 9 ET. I just hope they release it on DVD in a more timely fashion than they have previous seasons.

Reality Blurred checked up on three of the restaurants featured on Kitchen Nightmares to see how they’ve fared after their Gordon Ramsey makeovers.

TV Guide has an interview with Barry Manilow, who’s promoting a new PBS special which debuts tonight in some areas (Tuesday night on Chicago’s WTTW). I have a new respect for Barry because of the way he responds when he’s walking through the airport and is mistaken for Rod Stewart: "I talk in a gruff voice and sign his autograph."

The Spice Girls tour, which kicked off last night in Vancouver, is getting kudos for its entertainment value, if not for the quality of its singing.

For fantastic entertainment that’s cheaper than the cost of a Spice Girls ticket, go see the latest Bollywood release, Aaja Nachle. If you’ve watched Dirty Dancing, Strictly Ballroom, or any other dance movie more than once, you will love this film. lists theaters in the US that show Bollywood films (thanks for the link, JennyK).

TAR 12: Episode 5

Blonde buddies Shana & Jennifer had a falling out that caused their team to fall apart on the fifth leg of The Amazing Race 12.

Teams made their way from Burkina Faso to Lithuania, via Paris and one of three other European cities. A fickle travel agent told Nick & Don that the earliest flight was closed, and then booked Nathan & Jennifer on that same flight, once the grandpa and grandson left. Perhaps Don should’ve done more research on flights at the "Internet buffet" he’d visited before heading to the ticket counter.

All of the teams arrived in Vilnius, Lithuania within an hour of each other. Any advantage held by the earliest teams evened out as almost everyone had trouble driving through the confusing streets of the city, which dates back to the medieval period.

At one point, Jennifer attempted to turn her team’s vehicle around by backing out into the street in front of an oncoming bus, much to backseat passenger Shana’s horror. The near miss only exacerbated the tension between the pair, who were still feuding over Shana’s decision to use the U-Turn on the Jason & Lorena during the last leg.

A "good listener" from each team participated in a Roadblock that required them to remember verbal instructions given to them by several local people. Nick & Don, who’d arrived at the clue box in front of St. Anne’s Church first, lost ground as Nick futilely asked women for the location of an apparently unpopular hair salon.

Dreadlocked hippie TK got some help from a Lithuanian counterpart, who’d presumably just finished up a game of hacky sack on the quad at Vilnius University. The assist helped TK & Rachel complete the task in second place, behind goths Kynt & Vyxsin (who’ve quietly been doing a great job throughout the Race).

Teams then drove to the Open Air Museum of Lithuania for their Detour, where they chose between counting pickets in a fence or walking on stilts. The tasks were difficult because they had to be completed while surrounded by costumed revelers enjoying a traditional midsummer festival. The locals delighted in bugging the racers as they tried to concentrate.

Kynt & Vxysin failed to master the stilts and moved on the counting pickets. TK & Rachel, the second team to arrive at the museum, had an easier time with the stilts. They finished just minutes before the goths, and won a trip to Japan for finishing in first place.

Ronald and Christina, despite having landed last in Lithuania, finished in third place. And Azaria & Hendekea placed fourth.

Nathan & Jennifer had been nearly as contentious as the blondes all day, and the couple’s problems boiled over as they tried to count pickets. Jennifer kept screwing up her count — "88, 89, 100" — and then interrupted Nate yelling hints like, "Don’t let anyone distract you!" as he tried to count.

Finally, when Jennifer interrupted Nate because she felt he was counting too slowly, he retorted, "Bitch. What are you doing?" They both got fed up with the task and moved on to the stilts, where Jennifer had a brief meltdown that seemed more directed at Nate than the stilts.

The dating couple finished in fifth place, followed by Nick & Don and, finally, Shana & Jennifer. The blondes were eliminated, though hopefully their friendship was saved as a result.

Next week, Azaria loses his patience with Hendekea, and Nathan & Jennifer have another meltdown, this time in a boat.