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TV Critics and Viewers Gain From Access Hollywood

Teri Hatcher

Cover of Teri Hatcher

This is what I’m thinking:
* On Sunday, one of my favorite cable series, CNN’s “Reliable Sources” with UB graduate Howard Kurtz, briefly dealt with one of my favorite organizations, the Television Critics Association.
In Los Angeles, Kurtz had a lengthy interview with Sharon Waxman, who is running an online media site, “The Wrap,” that covers Hollywood from all angles and prides itself on not getting too chummy with celebrities in front of and behind the camera.
At one point, Kurtz asked Waxman what she thought of the semi-annual meetings in which television critics go to Los Angeles and meet network executives who attempt to spin them.
“Aren’t they really getting spoon fed by industry executives?” asked Kurtz.
It would have been easy and self-serving for Waxman to agree with the common complaint that critics are being spun and buy everything told to them.
To her credit, Waxman said that the meetings give critics the opportunity to ask executives any questions they want, which isn’t something that happens in the movie industry.
She’s right. And the questions can get pretty contentious. The truth is the TCA meetings rarely turn into a lovefest and veteran critics are generally skeptical of just about everything executives say.
Near the end of my TCA experience in 2010, the advent of blogging during interview sessions had a disturbing side effect. Many of the younger and newer critics just sat in their seats instantly sending the latest news or what passes for news to their websites via the computer and relied on a handful of mostly veteran critics to ask questions. It made you fear the future when the veterans aren’t around to ask the tough questions.
* Speaking of the TCA, over the weekend the nation’s critics named “Friday Night Lights” as program of the year after its fifth and final season. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know I was cheering.
The TCA awards can be a little confusing since “Mad Men” (which isn’t expected to return until March of 2012) was named best drama instead of “FNL.” “Modern Family” repeated as best comedy. Jon Hamm of “Mad Men,” Ty Burrell of “Modern Family” and Nick Offerman of “Parks and Recreation” won individual awards. HBO’s “Game of Thrones” was named new program of the year, Oprah Winfrey won the career achievement award and “The Dick Van Dyke Show” won the Heritage Award. “DVD” is currently playing on WBBZ-TV locally.
* One of the 10 cuts in the engineering department at Channel 7 scheduled for Sept. 30 will be Bob Hellwitz, the vice president of the local NABET/CWA chapter. Hellwitz has been at the station for 29 years and he isn’t even the longest-tenured Channel 7 worker scheduled to lose his job to work outsourced to Atlanta. Sad.
* ABC finally made it official over the weekend – “Desperate Housewives” will be done after the coming season. I lost interest more than a year ago as the plots got more and more absurd, reducing the humor quotient. Eva Longoria, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross and Teri Hatcher stayed at the party a little too long.
* I only had two columns killed in my 28 years as the television critic of The Buffalo News. One of them was my response to what I believed to be unfair criticism by another writer for a minor publication. My boss at the time, Murray Light, told me it wasn’t a good idea to respond to someone who had such low circulation because it was bound to draw more attention to my critic. I didn’t like having the column killed because I thought my response was funny. But Light was right. It would have been a bad idea to run it and look so thin-skinned.
I thought of that killed column immediately when I read the end of a column Sunday by Buffalo News political writer Robert McCarthy in which he responded to some heavy criticism that wnymedia.net has thrown his way. I like McCarthy and respect the work he does. But he needed someone like Murray Light to tell him to kill the item. It lead to a lengthy response Sunday from Marc Odien of wnymedia.net . McCarthy should have known that he couldn’t win and his item would only lead to more criticism. But I don’t blame him. After all, I tried to do the same thing until I was saved by an editor smarter than I. Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.
* Speaking of the Buffalo News, Saturday’s front page headline shocked me. Over four columns, it read “Investors need to stay calm.” It seemed like an order from the newspaper, which is supposed to be reporting the news and not giving financial advice. That’s because the attribution came below in a one-column sub-head: “Experts say chaos shouldn’t inspire too much fear.” A better headline would have been “Experts to Investors: Stay Calm.” Then at least readers would immediately know where the advice was coming from.
* While we’re on the News, a writer claimed the “announcement story” about the change in call letters from WNGS to the new WBBZ was written by a News staffer. Actually, the WBBZ changes were announced in stilltalkintv several days before the paper finally got to it. Of course, that happens often. (The News isn’t the only media outlet that can pat itself on the back).
*Finally, it was interesting to read over the weekend in The News that there are three upperclassmen competing for the starting quarterback job for the University at Buffalo football team. But it would have been nice to know the Bulls’ plans for their prize freshman QB recruit, Joe Licata of Williamsville South. He wasn’t mentioned. At the very least, the paper could have explained if Bulls Coach Jeff Quinn wants to red-shirt him or if he will give Licata a chance to compete for the job with the upperclassmen. After all, Licata has a lot of fans in his hometown wondering what his status is.

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1 response to "TV Critics and Viewers Gain From Access Hollywood"

  1. Bob says:

    What was the other column that you had killed?

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