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It’s Show Time for Wallenda and Showtime

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 15:  Actresses Cla...

Claire Danes (L) and Morena Baccarin of Showtime's "Homeland"


I awoke this morning at 7, just in time to hear “Good Morning America’s” Robin Roberts proclaim “we have a beautiful rainbow over Niagara Falls” and then see ABC’s cameras capture it.

 The morning program spent a considerable amount of time in the first hour hyping daredevil Nik Wallenda’s hire-wire walk over Niagara Falls. The hype included this classic line proclaiming the event being televised starting at 8 tonight “as the largest media spectacle the likes of which the world has never seen.”

Wow. That’s saying something.

There was much speculation in this morning’s Buffalo News that Wallenda might ditch the safety harness that tethers him to the wire. ABC wouldn’t be happy about that, but what could it do?

Well, it could dump out of the walk, thereby risking angering those in the national audience that might have spent more than two hours waiting for a walk that isn’t expected to start until after 10 p.m. Or it could start carrying the walk on a long tape delay, giving it time to drop the walk if disaster strikes. (For all I know, the walk may be on a brief tape delay anyway.)

Of course, the media has been hyping or overhyping this event for days now. My sister has been visiting for the past week or so and is stunned – and even a little annoyed — by all the attention it has been getting on local news. It is tough to say if her “who cares attitude” reflects that of the majority of national viewers. We’ll find out when the ratings come in. However, I can’t see the first two hours before the walk getting a huge rating.

The most interesting story I have seen on the Wallenda Walk was on Wednesday’s edition of CBC’s “The National.” It wasn’t the kind of story that ABC would use in its promotions. The lengthy story included an interview with Mario Wallenda, who was paralyzed in a stunt 40 years ago that claimed the lives of two other family members. Mario was very dismissive of the safely harness, essentially saying it made the whole stunt next to meaningless.

I believe the same story (I was in the hospital for the night so I wasn’t taking notes) included an interview with Nik Wallenda in which he lamented the lack of financial support he received from commercial enterprises on both sides of the border that stand to financially benefit. That also wasn’t going to make it in ABC’s promotional campaign.

As a Buffalo News subscriber, I received an email this morning from Buffalo News President Warren Colville that filled in some details that were missing from News editor’s Margaret Sullivan’s front-page column today announcing that the newspaper will be offering digital subscriptions this fall that won’t cost print subscribers like me anything.

Colville gave the dates that the changes will premiere. He wrote that print subscribers will get access to the new, improved digital content on a “newly enhanced BuffaloNew.com website” on Sept. 1.

He added that on Oct. 1 The News will offer “premium digital content on all platforms” to people who don’t get the paper for $2.77 a week, with the cost lower by 28 cents to $2.49 if paid automatically by credit card. Sounds like a huge bargain to me.

The plan also fits with News owner Warren Buffett’s much-publicized newspaper belief that it isn’t a good business model to give content away for free online that print subscribers have to pay for. (However, Sullivan did write that there will be free website access to about 10 stories a month, all breaking news and some other things).

Interestingly, The News is offering a digital subscription and home delivery of the Sunday paper for $1.99 or 50 cents less than you would pay without the paper. That seems to be an obvious bid to enhance sales of the Sunday paper, which has the most advertising and is undoubtedly by far the week’s biggest money maker for the newspaper..

Speaking of free digital content, here’s a reminder: This is the Showtime Free Preview weekend on Time Warner Cable. While Showtime has a fraction of the subscribers that HBO has, it has more shows that are critically-acclaimed. Among the shows that will be available to be sampled are “Homeland” with Claire Danes(which is expected to get multiple Emmy nominations), “Nurse Jackie” with Edie Falco, “Dexter,” “House of Lies,” “The Big C,” “Shameless” and “The Borgias.” The Movie Channel also is part of the free preview.

ABC and ESPN’s Doris Burke gets a lot of praise for her post-game interviews during the NBA playoffs. But after Miami’s 100-96 win over Oklahoma City Thursday night she failed to ask Miami’s LeBron James the one question that probably was on the mind of viewers: Did he think he fouled OKC’s Kevin Durant on a potential game-tying basket in the final seconds before James sealed the game with two free throws? Play-by-play man Mike Breen, analyst Jeff Van Gundy and just about every post-game analyst (including me) thought Durant was clearly fouled. But he could have made the shot anyway.




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1 response to "It’s Show Time for Wallenda and Showtime"

  1. gary says:

    I too am annoyed with all the Wallenda hype.

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