I Asked For A Thumb. Instead, I Got A Middle Finger.

This should have been a piece that ran Friday, in advance of the premiere of CBS and Sony’s new game show RAID THE CAGE.  Well, actually, it’s only new in the U.S.   As The NEW YORK POST’s Michael Starr reminded, it’s already been established in plenty of other territories around the globe:

It’s based on the hit Israeli game show “Kluv Hazahav,” which premiered in 2013 and was adapted in over 15 countries including Vietnam, Brazil, Portugal, Turkey and Greece.

And Niko Rose of BLAVITV offered these “exclusive insights” in his write-up:

In Raid the Cage, success hinges on strategy, teamwork, and nerve. Two teams of two compete to snatch prizes from the cage before the clock runs out and the doors close. Correctly answering trivia questions earns them additional time to grab prizes, ranging from exciting trips to electronics and even a new car. After three rounds, the team with the highest total dollar value in prizes wins the game, keeps their loot and advances to the final round to attempt to “Beat the Cage” for the night’s grand prizes.

Nice press release rewrite, Niko.  At least the far more experienced Starr offered these candid quotes from emcee Damon Wayans, Jr.:

There are multiple rounds, so a team that does not do well early on has the chance to catch up … or vice versa.  “That’s what I like about it,” Wayans said. “In this game, you’re never really out until it’s over because each team has three rounds to catch up and people make mistakes. You can grab something you had no idea was worth however much it is, and it can put you back in the running.

Sounds like Wayans had his notes down pat.

Having seen the first episode, which is typically carefully selected among the batch taped to offer the most compelling reason to continue to watch on a recurring basis–which in the world of broadcast television is still the goal–I can intellectually observe that for a variety of reasons this episode fell miserably short of those goals.  All the attempts at building drama and tension, mostly egged on by the overcaffeinated and newly divorced co-host Jeannie Mai, fell flat, and the end results anticlimactic, including the end game.

I doubt I could engage in such a discussion with the show’s top executives: Jack Martin, showrunner and executive producer, and EPs Vas D’Elia and Heath Luman.  I have never met them, and my experience with many such executives has been frequently inflammatory.  No one likes their baby to be called anything but beautiful.  And my intention was never to offer a review.

Those of you who are familiar with how I write and observe, drawing from my decades of experience as an executive in my own right, know I love to offer my personal connections to those involved as a unique lens into how something comes to fruition.  At the beginning of this month, my musing on how my longtime friend Aaron Solomon helped get LOTERIA LOCA to CBS offered that.  And it just so happens that one of Sony’s top game show executives, who has put a quarter-century of game show experience and Ivy League education into seeing this to fruition, is another longtime friend.  I would have loved to have briefly shined the light on this person as they deserved, along with the respect that sight unseen the likes of Martin, D’Elia and Luman, not to mention several of my one-time Sony colleagues, deserved.

Except my friend is a company loyalist to the max, arguably to a fault, and he turned me over to a Sony publicist named Shannon Kerr–one of the many newbies who have joined since my departure.  I submitted my request via e-mail and via LinkedIn.  I was clear and concise and realistic.  I know I don’t have the reach of a NEW YORK POST, or its sister site DECIDER, where Joel Keller offered his “Stream It Or Skip It” take.  I might want to know how I stack up to BLAVITV.   I asked for a reply.  A simple yes or no to my request to include my friend’s name in my piece.  As Friday’s premiere drew closer, I modified my request to a simple “thumbs up”  You know, the kind that Instagram scrollers somehow find the time to offer in reaction to a cat video.

Shannon Kerr’s resume seems impressive.  Her self-written (I’d hope) LinkedIn bio seems to be right up there with mine in terms of diversity and confidence.

Passionate media and talent relations professional with 15+ years of experience leading domestic and international publicity initiatives for top-ranked television networks. Proven track record for executing strategic communications campaigns across trade and consumer media, and working closely with executives, agency partners and talent to best elevate brands and key corporate or show-driven messages. Possesses PR agency background representing domestic and international clientele spanning production, distribution, film, consumer products and non-profit. Demonstrated ability to motivate and lead successful bi-coastal and global teams.

She’s worked with a number of former colleagues and bosses of mine.  Some of them even liked me.  I was able to discern all of that about her in roughly 30 seconds.  Which is 30 seconds more attention than I got from Shannon Kerr.

So this piece is more about Shannon Kerr, and so many others, that have lost all sight of common decency and respect for even the simplest of acknowledgements.

Maybe it’s a generational thing.  When I served as head of programming for FOX’s stations my program directors all confided that they willingly accepted all phone calls from viewers and organizations, sometimes personally taking them, more often referring them to an assistant or an intern.  That was back in the day when people actually worked in offices.

I honestly don’t know if Shannon Kerr is working from home or not, but what I’ve experienced since so many others have is that the ability to simply get someone to offer a response or acknowledgement has diminished to the level of futility.  Shannon Kerr may not even have the level of staffing that her predescessors had; after all, Sony’s gone through a complete reorganization.  I know damn well those that did precede her were set up to offer such acknowledgement.  I had an office adjacent to that team and I regularly saw and heard them do that.

Am I being a petty, bitter old fart?  Some might think so.  Again, I know exactly what this space offers and doesn’t.  I’m a student of data.  I know my metrics.  No, I didn’t expect Shannon Kerr to race out of her ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT interview to sign off on my request.

But I did expect at least the courtesy of a thumbs up or a thumbs down.  Because if a cat video can warrant that, so can I.

Mind you, Shannon’s hardly alone.  The Sony phone system has apparently been disconnected for months, and, of course, her extension is nowhere to be found anywhere.  I get that with heavy remote work that’s been a moot point.  That’s why even this old fart has resigned himself to acknowledge that calling someone is sooooo 20th century.

HR executives seem to operate that way, too.  If you’ve been able to connect with one since 2020, more power to you.  Somehow, my “support system” and their useless links can’t even figure that out.  I’ve applied now for nearly 1000 jobs in the last three years and change, and have personally heard from less than 10 per cent.  And I’m still looking.

We live in times when communication has never been easier nor options more numerous.  I have text, Messenger, Telegram, Instagram and What’s App.  I have two e-mail addresses, including this platform.   I have video options on the social media sites as well as FaceTime and Zoom,   And yes, I have a working phone.  Not a landline.  I’m not that backwards.

(As an aside, if you ever get a request to continue a chat on What’s App, IT’S A SCAM.  Lately, the only interactions I seem to get are from cloned accounts, spam and hackers.  The other night, in a weak and groggy moment, I foolishly sent money I really don’t have to one such “person”.  Any time a text begins with the word “Am”, block it.  Just sayin’.).

I didn’t even get a request from a fake Shannon Kerr to chat on What’s App.

And let me tell you, that’s NOT a good feeling.

So I can’t reveal this executive’s name, at least here.  Because I’m still waiting for Shannon Kerr to apply some common decency to her job.

You might know who I’m talking about, for all I know, you may very well have seen the personal pictures that executive posted on their social media with Wayans and Mai.  You might have seen how that executive  tied a 25-year journey to this day into all of this, including a brief moment in the limelight where Vicki Lawrence successfully matched an answer on a short-lived version of MATCH GAME to win a whopping $5,000.

If you don’t, what a shame.  This person is awesome and respectful.

I wish more of that person’s colleagues could follow that lead.  I wish more people in general could.  I honestly am at a loss for words as to how far the infrastructure of treating other people with respect has fallen.

I’m even at a loss for e-mojis.  This one:

Not that one.

I guess we can all go back in our cages.

Until next time…



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