New Rules?

Now, where were we?

When I chose to take a break a bit more than a month ago, I was arguably at a low point even by my modest standards, and in hindsight it showed at every level.  Even when people were doing something that had the chance to be right, more often that not I chose a path of snarking, bitching and moaning.  Sure, others do that, sometimes almost exclusively.  But those that do tend to have two things that I don’t.  Enough money and enough of a support system of fans and family.  I’m fairly certain those with platforms and megaphones that substantial haven’t spent as many nights of late crying themselves to sleep as I have.

But what did become apparent to me during this hiatus–surprisingly–was the amount of support I did receive, even if it was only a trickle.  Some of you do actually care to offer encouragement.  Some even enough to offer needed advice.  One particularly important kernel was delivered by someone who’s been in this game a lot longer than I have and had indeed delivered one of the final blows of harsh feedback that drove me to throw in the towel.  Simply put, this person urged me to seek out what’s right as often as possible and offer more positivity when warranted.

Bill Maher, whose attitude about calling out what’s wrong no matter what side of the aisle they are on is one I admire and aspire to, has already taken ownership of the phrase “new rules”.  So call this my “new leaf”, or “new attitude”, or, frankly, whatever you choose.  I’ve been given a challenge, and so I’m gonna try my damndest to live up to it–first and foremost by admitting when I was wrong about successful executives’ game plans.  Not that they cared per se, but enough people in their orbit did to point out how misguided and underinformed I may have been about their current circumstances.

So, Amy Reisenbach, FWIW, I was wrong to call you out about your decision to minimize program testing for your CBS series.  Your post-Super Bowl rollout has been, on a numbers basis, an unquestionable success.  TRACKER has found an audience even without a Super Bowl lead-in. GHOSTS has proven itself worthy of a renewal that will actually allow Lionsgate to potentially sell it into syndication.  FIRE COUNTRY has also earned a renewal, and will likely be the fulcrum for a Friday night that will lose SWAT by fall and BLUE BLOODS by next winter, but continues to attract a large audience that eschews sports.  And you’ve done this having been handed as unstable a corporate environment as anyone who has held your job in recent years.

And John Landgraf, forgive me for thinking a reboot of a miniseries that last was attempted more than 40 years ago was a misstep for FX.  Indeed, anything but, now that I’ve seen enough of it to appreciate the nuances and the modern execution of the James Clavell classic.  The only thing this version of SHOGUN has in common with the 1980 NBC version was the success and reassurance it gave to an audience desperate for scripted entertainment in the wake of a lengthy strike that left schedules bereft with unscripted series and reruns–this time around, even a few second window attempts to expose linear viewers to streaming originals.  The numbers are indisuptable.  9 million viewers globally is a yardstick and a reach FX has never achieved, and cements its presence as one of the few truly strong performers in the Disney arsenal at a time when they’re in desperate need of something resembling success.  So take your victory lap–take two, in fact.

But I’d be far more disingeneous than not if I didn’t voice concern, if not disdain, when I do see something brewing that bodes to be a disaster.  I have deep reservations about whether the sports streaming venture of Disney, Warner Brothers Discovery and FOX will ever see the light of day, and if enough people will find it worthy of their attention if it does.   But I’ll let others in far more significant and secure positions weigh in with those.  They have the chops and the backbone to do so.  And who knows, they might be proven wrong.  Some of them are already wrong by giving it the nickname “Spulu”, a snarky reference to the similar venture Disney, FOX and NBC launched way back in the oughts.  I can share I know for fact that is NOT the working title.  And they’ve managed to recruit a very competent executive, Apple and Hulu veteran Pete Distad, to head it.  And he might have some thoughts of his own, including rethinking that working title that is NOT SPULU.  But that’s why’s getting the big bucks–way more than even the most successful journo-snarkers could ever hope to make.

Yet a lot of them will continue to write their opinions, some of which I may even concur with, when they see some WTF moments.  Fair warning–there’s something abuzz at CBS which has me quizzical and others downright scoffing which I plan to focus on in the coming days.  What I can assure you is that I won’t insult the executives that are spinning their version of truth publicly.  If anything, I’ll merely point out others that do, let alone those that are more positive.

It’s what Maher at least tries to do, especially when he puts guests at polar political opposites side by side on REAL TIME.  There are uncomfortable moments, to be sure.  But it’s great television, and not all that expensive, either.  REAL TIME just got a two-year renewal and a second window on corporate cousin CNN.  That’s a success story anyone would aspire to.

So I vow to accentuate the positive, but I won’t necessarily eliminate the negative. I’ll just ascribe it to those who are in a better position in life to offer it up.  And you can feel free to judge them, too.

Let’s see how it goes, shall we?

Until next time…

Leave a Comment