Television


Anne Mroczkowski and Laura DiBattista Out at Citytv

city tvLate last year, Jim McKenny was shown the door at Citytv. He had been doing sports for Citytv since 1984. Prior to that, Rogers had purged several other Citytv institutions, for better or worse. These included the NewMusic, Ed the Sock, Amber Mac, Silverman Helps and Speakers Corner.

Similar to Jim McKenny, Anne Mroczkowski has been serving up CityPulse and CityNews news at Citytv for what seems like forever. Here she is co-hosting CityPulse Tonight with Gord Martineau in 1985.

This morning there's been a lot of noise about big personnel changes at Citytv, including the release of Anne Mroczkowski and long-time correspondent Laura DiBattista. I try not to post these items based solely on rumours, so I've waited until at least one reliable source went on the record. That would be @stephaniesmyth who just tweeted the following:

Anne Mroczkowski, Laura DiBattista reportedly both gone from CITY TV, along with writers/producers/editors/camera people.

Mroczkowski will be missed. She always delivered the news with class, even when being berated by colleagues. Here's hoping everyone who's part of this latest Rogers purge of Citytv staples lands on their feet.

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No Leafs = No Eyeballs

TVDuring hockey season, I have a Pavlovian response to Saturday nights. Around 7pm I instinctively seek a comfy seat and a television so I can watch my Toronto Maple Leafs on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada. It's an important tradition in my house.

This past Saturday night, as the clock approached 7, I felt those familiar tingles. It was time for hockey featuring the blue and white, only there was no Leaf game to be found. Instead it was the Habs vs. Sens and the Leafs had the night off.

In his column today, Chris Zelkovich explains why a Saturday night without the Leafs is a ratings disaster for the CBC.

While stories hit the news from time to time telling us that interest in the Toronto Maple Leafs is dropping faster than, well, the Leafs' playoff chances, the fact is the Blue-and-White still drive ratings no matter how bad they are.

Further proof came Saturday night in one of those rare instances when the Leafs are not the main attraction on Hockey Night In Canada. In fact, this Saturday they weren't even playing. Instead, the nation got the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators -- an all-Canadian matchup featuring one team with deep roots across the country.

It was a pretty good game, too.

The result? The lowest Game 1 rating on CBC this season. It drew 300,000 fewer viewers than the previously ratings dog and drew only 130,000 more than a Detroit-Toronto pre-season game.

It was almost beaten out by the Pittsburgh-Vancouver late game and finished behind three NFL playoff games. Actually, it was four because the 1,040,000 who watched Sunday's Jets-Chargers game included only those who tuned in to TSN. The game was on CBS, too.

Here's an idea for the NHL schedule makers. Let's ensure the Leafs play each and every Saturday night. It's good for me, it's good for the CBC and it just makes good sense.

Besides, it's the way it should be. You don't mess with the natural order of things.

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I'm With Coco

coco

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If You Like Lost, You've Already Seen This

tvThis is everything you need to know about Lost in 8:15.

It's a smart refresher before we start season six.

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How Conan O'Brien Lost His Way

ConanThere's a whole bunch of chatter about Jay Leno's 10pm show getting chopped and Leno going back to 11:30 once the Olympics are over. That slot currently belongs to Conan O'Brien. I'm not sure what that move would mean for Conan.

Here's something I wrote six years ago about Conan O'Brien.

I have nothing but positive feelings about Conan O'Brien. I knew him first as a writer and producer of some of the funniest Simpsons episodes ever. He wrote Homer Goes to College and Marge vs. the Monorail, two of my personal favourites. As a late night talk show host, he's certainly one of the best. My brother Steve and I made it a point to stay up and watch Conan during his first few seasons. This was a time when it was perfectly reasonable for me to go to bed at 1:30 in the morning. Conan O'Brien is directly responsible for a great deal of the laughter I have expunged throughout the past decade.

The next year, my brother Steve and I watched Conan tape his show at the Elgin Theatre. You might remember that infamous episode as the one in which Triumph the Comic Insult Dog took a poop on French Canadians. Good times...

When Conan moved to 11:30, I decided to record each episode in an attempt to recapture some of that funny I remember from Conan and Andy. After about 20 episodes I stopped watching. Conan seemed to lose something when he went to 11:30. He lost that quality that made him so much funnier than Jay Leno. It wasn't the same show I once loved.

By watering things down for an 11:30 Leno loving audience, Conan lost his way. He no longer appealed to those like me, and he was still too out there for those who wanted Jay Leno. Now he's in limbo.

I wish they'd move him back to 12:30 so I can reset my PVR and enjoy Conan and Andy as I remember them.

February 12, 2004 - Conan O'Brien

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The Lost Supper

TVLost is the only network drama I follow. We're about to begin the sixth and final season and I'm pretty psyched about it.

As per FCC regulations, the cast of Lost has appeared in The Last Supper positioning. Here's that great new promo.

lost

Click image above to see it super sized.

Of course, The Last Supper was originally painted by Leonardo da Vinci. You can see that original 15th century mural painting below.

star-wars-last-supper

The final season premieres on Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at 9PM.

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TV Advertisers Take Note: The PVR Has Made You Invisible

tvI'm still a newcomer to the PVR (or is it a DVR?), having only taken the plunge in March 2009.

As you all predicted, it has radically changed the way I watch television. In fact, I don't watch anything in real-time anymore, unless it's a live sporting event. Appointment viewing for all other programming has completely disappeared.

There are two primary reasons for this switch: convenience and ad avoidance. I decide when I'm going to watch The Simpsons or Lost or 30 Rock. We press play when we're ready, and we fast forward all commercials. If it's something we want to watch close to real-time, like the Academy Awards, we start it about an hour after it starts so we can ignore everything television advertisers throw at us.

Some shows we'll watch On Demand with Rogers on channel 309. We're currently going through Jason Schwartzman's Bored to Death that way, but we can pause, fast forward, etc. There are other programs we deem "time sensitive", like Saturday Night Live and 60 Minutes. We try to get to those within 48 hours of airing, whereas I've still got Family Guy episodes from November to watch.

If it's not sports, I don't see the ads. Because I don't see as many TV ads as I used to, I find I'm less tolerant of them. The Pepsi Cheer Nation ads, for example, have me infuriated, and I'm in full Pepsi-attack mode. We'll see if the Star prints the article I submitted.

The PVR must be the worst invention as far as broadcasters are concerned. Their revenue comes from advertisement sales, and the PVR has made ads invisible.

It's just too bad my only defence against that insulting and sickening Pepsi campaign is the mute button.

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Jim McKenny Quits CityTV

city tvIf there's a face that symbolizes the Toronto sports scene, it's Jim McKenny's. I don't remember a time when Jim McKenny wasn't doing sports for CityTV. You can see him in this promo for CityTV's CityPulse sports back in 1984.

Jim McKenny, a.k.a. Howie, spent ten years in the NHL as a defenceman and winger with the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Minnesota North Stars before joining Citytv in 1984 as Sports Anchor/Reporter on "CityNews Tonight" and he's been there ever since.

I've been told Jim McKenny closed his Sunday night's broadcast with an announcement that it would be his last broadcast with CityTV. He said he'll be moving on to different opportunities.

25 years at the same gig is a pretty amazing run for a sports broadcaster in this city. You couldn't help but like Jim McKenny - I wish him well in his next venture.

jim_mckenny_signed

Jim McKenny joins the NewMusic, Ed the Sock, Amber Mac, Silverman Helps and Speakers Corner in the Rogers CITY-TV graveyard.

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No Hulu in Canada? Pity...

tvI'm bumping into embedded Hulu clips more often in the blogosphere. Hulu is a website that offers ad-supported streaming video of TV shows and movies from NBC, FOX and many other networks and studios. The quality is great, and because it's a legal channel, you never have to worry that the SNL skit you embedded in your blog might be pulled by the end of the day thanks to a copyright claim by NBC.

When Brittany Murphy died yesterday, several American bloggers posted a recent parody of her that aired on Saturday Night Live. Here in Canada, this is what we see:

hulu

That's right, Hulu isn't available in Canada. Apparently, the licensing issues were so complex they couldn't get a deal done. So we're out of the loop.

I see ad-supported high quality tv show and news streaming as the future of television. Hulu seems to be getting it right. I just wish I could see what all the fuss is about.

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Last Bride Standing

tvItem #15 of the Bloggers Code is the following: "When friends make TV shows, free promotion is mandatory".

My good friend Humble Howard, along with the gang at Redfish Entertainment Studios, have a new 13-episode docu-reality show entitled "Last Bride Standing". And this one actually airs on a station you probably get! It all starts tonight at 6:30PM on SunTV.

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