May 28

The six lies of Henry VIII

May 28 - the-tudors Catharine 'Goose' Cody and I have been captivated by the plot twists and turns of the second season of the Showtime series, 'The Tudors.' The Goose is quite the fan of all things 'Ennnery' and somehow manages to find a new book on the subject on an almost weekly basis.

That said, the show's historical inaccuracies are enough to make us want to behead our remote control (or at least banish a battery or two).

To begin with, there's Jonathan Rhys Myers, who plays Henry. He's a fine actor and, says Catharine who likes to use Elizabethian prose at every opportunity, 'quite fetching.' Now, that was fine when Rhys Myers was portraying the youthful, 'rock star' Henry who bounced from Catherine of Aragon to Anne Boleyn to Jane Seymour faster than one can say 'The Reformation.' But, we're deep into the saga now and, despite a nagging leg wound, the Rhys Myers' version of Henry Tudor still looks like an up-and-coming bantamweight boxer. As everyone with a wit of historical knowledge knows, though, the historical Henry aged rapidly and, by the time, he'd dumped Anne of Cleeves in favor of the young tart, Catherine Howard, looked more like a pale version of Notorious B.I.G. than Snoop Dog.

The other characters' physical appearance also strains credulity. The actress portraying the notoriously unattractive Anne of Cleeves is a real looker who, in fact, bears a passing resemblance to the young Ingrid Bergman (who stole the hearts of Bogie and about 40 million other red-blooded American men when the film debuted in 1942).

Every actor sports perfect, pearly white teeth, neatly coiffed hair and immaculate wardrobes. This at a time, mind you, when personal hygiene was virtually nonexistent. The average Tudor subject bathed once or twice annually. Oral hygiene was unknown. And pigs, cows, sheep and other animals wandered London's streets mixing their filth with the human refuse. In short, it wasn't pretty.

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May 02

What’s next? “To Catch a Cleaning Lady?”

Having exhausted the various permutations of their long-running ‘To Catch a Predator’ series, NBC is nowTomandjerrytomstrapomatic2
launching a new one called, ‘To Catch a Contractor.’

The promo heralds a show that will uncover all sorts of sleazy, diabolical and even criminal practices being perpetrated by those always perplexing, always behind schedule and always over budget contractors. Fair enough. Who hasn’t had a bad experience with a contractor? In fact, it’s almost a rite of passage to be a homeowner.

But, I draw the line with NBC’s tactics. I never liked ‘Predator’ because I thought it crossed over into entrapment. And, something tells me the same will be true with contractors.

I can just imagine the various ways in which NBC and some ‘social justice’ group will ensnare some unsuspecting, but altogether sleazy, contractor. We’ll hear an NBC ‘plant,’ posing as a sultry, seductive housewife call out: ‘The door’s open, c’mon in. I’m just folding some wash in the nude. I made some brownies and iced tea. Put your tape measure down and have some.’

In my opinion, the whole thing stinks.

And, where will this mindless content end? Will we see future shows aimed at ‘catching’ cleaning ladies? How about the mailman? The FedEx delivery guy? You know a country’s moral fiber is scraping the bottom when we sit around at night watching one strata of society entrap another. Get a life, America.

Apr 24

Before Oprah, Ellen and all the others, there was Edward R. Murrow

I’m in the midst of watching a fascinating DVD compilation of Edward R. Murrow’s landmark televisionEdwardmurrow
series ‘Person to person.’

Broadcast on CBS between 1953 and ’59, the series featured one-on-one interviews between the uber journalist become talk show host and celebrities from all walks of life. There’s John F. Kennedy, speaking from his Boston apartment just one month after marrying Jacqueline Bouvier in 1953. Another segment shows Norman Rockwell discussing his painting techniques from his Stockbridge, Massachusetts, art studio. A third follows Eleanor Roosevelt around her Manhattan apartment in 1954.

There’s also Liberace, Marilyn Monroe, Sammy Davis, Jr., and so many other legends.

Murrow’s ‘technique’ was to sit in his New York studio and, via newly-developed technology, speak to the celebrities directly from their homes.

Person to person is a fascinating snapshot into a long gone America. It was a simpler time and Murrow served up simpler questions. There’s no antagonism, no hints of scandal or intrigue, and no discussion of anything other than blue skies and happy times. That said, the interviews are anything but bland.

Murrow and his guests are direct, to the point and, dare I say it, humble. The watchwords of Person to person are civility, urbanity and compassion; three words that are nearly absent from any contemporary talk show.

It may have been superficial in content, but Person to person reflects Murrow’s impeccable image of truth and honesty. Compared to the Jerry Springer’s, Howard Stern’s and others on our airwaves today, Edward R. Murrow is a breath of fresh air (despite his omnipresent cigarette).

Jan 11

Promotional Darwinism Emerges from Writers Strike

Guest blog written by Laura Mills.

I am annoyed by this writers strike.  Like many, I want my “Grey’s Anatomy.”  I want my “Office.”  And IHershey
really want my new season of “24.”  Instead, we’re stuck watching reruns and increasingly mindless reality television (“American Gladiators,” anyone?), while contemplating the rapid depreciation of TiVo…

This week, Reuters reports that NBC is offering to refund some Golden Globe Awards marketers after scrapping the traditional telecast.  Disappointing news for a bored America, but let’s be honest.  As the Reuters story shows, the strike by the Writer’s Guild of America isn’t just our issue.  It’s putting marketers in a very unique situation.  As we follow coverage of the strike with hopeful anticipation, other news outlets report the increasing potential for an economic recession.  I think marketers are secretly over the moon to have a reason to cut back on broadcast spending, harboring an attitude of “let’s store the harvest and get ready for a chilly winter.”  Everyone knows that in the face of recession, marketing budgets are the first to be trimmed.  But alternately, I think the writers strike also provides a great opportunity. 

With the promise of hours of reality television in primetime, branded sponsorships are inevitable.  For example, a recent episode of Bravo’s “Project Runway” featured a design challenge sponsored by Hershey’s.  Models and sample sizes generally aren’t associated with Reese’s Pieces and Twizzlers, but they made it work.  Hershey’s allowed the designers to run loose in their Times Square store and pillage as much candy and merchandise as they could for use as materials in their garments.  It was brilliant, and even I’ll admit to craving a Kit Kat at the show’s conclusion.  If we’re going to see more of these types of promotions, I would hope for more out of the box thinking like Hershey’s and “Project Runway.”  In fact, here are some unexpected sponsorships that I would like to see:

• “The Apprentice” and the NCAA (Imagine Tim Tebow in the board room)

• “Dancing with the Stars” and Playstation (Think: Dance, Dance Revolutions)

• “Survivor” and Band-Aid

Joking aside, I expect to witness savvy brands distinguishing themselves from their competitors as they leverage the current broadcast landscape.  In many ways, it is its own sort of reality show.  Will you be watching?