Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Darren Star thrown off his own show

Warning:  I'm feeling snarky and miscellaneous today. 

Darren Star has been banned from the set, writing room, and his office at the new ABC dramedy, GOOD CHRISTIAN BELLES. Despite taking full credit for the show, it seems there are actual showrunners and writers and they’re the ones in the trenches doing the actual work. A rift has occurred that has escalated to “him or us” status, and bless the studio or network or whoever made the call, but the people who are doing the work won out over the “name”. Darren will still give “notes” (but relayed through a studio person) and you can imagine how seriously those notes will be considered.

THE RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES – the story of the original rally monkey.

I really enjoyed the movie, but the fifteen trailers before it sucked. Plagues, haunted houses, remakes. And Daniel Craig in all of them.

The new TV development season is already underway and so far this year, comedy is king. Usually networks buy a lot of dramas early and dole out the comedy commitments the way you feed pigeons in the park. But this season it’s just the opposite. Either it means that comedy is having a true renaissance or when you put on shows with cops who see fairy tale characters you know there are no more drama premises out there.

The FCC has removed its long-ignored political “Fairness Doctrine”, which used to require that equal time be given to opposite points of view.   Equality -- what a horrible notion that is. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski justified the ruling by saying this – and I quote: “the Fairness Doctrine holds the potential to chill free speech and the free flow of ideas.” Huh??? Am I living in the bizarro world? It’s like if George Orwell ran Fox News.

Matt Holliday of the St. Louis Cardinals had to come out of last night’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers because a moth flew into his right ear.

First Sally ran away from Betty Draper and now Bobby… well, the latest Bobby. I think there have been three Bobbys (maybe five, I dunno, I can’t keep up). Anyway, Jared Gilmore (the latest Bobby) has bolted MAD MEN for ONCE UPON A TIME and taken a parting shot at TV mom, January Jones, saying everyone in the cast was really nice except her.  Ouch!  Heaven help the next Bobby.  I doubt Ms. Jones has concerned herself with trivial details like four different actors have played her son.  New Bobby's going to walk onto the set the first day and she's going to wash his mouth out with soap. 

Sitting with my daughter, Annie and her writing partner Jon -- we got into an interesting discussion. Who in ten years will have the biggest career – Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, or Rhianna? I say as long as there are productions of PHANTOM OF THE OPERA Lady Gaga will find work. What do you think?

Finally! There’s an iPhone App That Can Judge Watermelon Ripeness!

Wanna feel old? Robert Redford is 75. The Sundance fucking KID!!

NBC has a mid-season show called SMASH. It’s about making it on Broadway. The pilot is pretty good actually. I assume the height of “making it” is winning a Tony. But I bet SMASH won’t tell you what happens after you win a Tony. Because it’s a very tragic story. You go to Hollywood and get cast in a truly awful new fall network series. Just ask Laura Benanti (now in the laughable PLAYBOY CLUB) and Katie Finneran (co-star of the worst pilot I’ve seen so far – I HATE MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER). This is like original Monet paintings hanging in a Popeye’s Chicken.  The American Theater Wing should provide some counseling for these Tony winners. 

Whatever happened to Julian McMahon?

There was better attendance for three games of the Little League World Series last week than six home games for the Oakland A’s.

and finally.,..


I'll be better tomorrow... or at least a little better.


Anonymous said...

The Fairness Doctrine is a little bit more complicated and only worked for opposing parties in the first place.

When there are two parties, its fair that each get the same time to present its view.

But this quickly fails for scientific topic (and others as well) where there are facts and much more than just two interpretations of these facts. But an artificial equality between the mainstream and (just one) opposing view creates a very askiewed view on said topic. Most often as if "the truth" lies within choosing one of the presented parties.

If an entity is accused of something it should always have the right to present its view on the accusations. But this principle works hardly on other kinds of reporting.

Richard Y said...

Hey, don't apologize for being snarky. Makes for good blogs and one has to also get things off their chest at times.

MrCarlson said...

If they ever do decide to show what happens after the hits, the show will be called "AfterSmash"

Pat Reeder said...

Hate to disagree with you, Ken, but I've spent a lifetime in radio, and I heartily applaud the scrubbing of the horribly misnamed Fairness Doctrine from the books (incidentally,that's all it is; they stopped enforcing it back in 1987, when even the speech overlords and nipple police at the FCC realized it was hopelessly unconstitutional).

The "Fairness" Doctrine actually had the exact opposite effect of its stated purpose. Because time is money to broadcasters, nobody wanted to give it away free to every crackpot who had a differing opinion. So the real world effect of it was that instead of resulting in a variety of viewpoints, it insured that GMs of stations barred anyone from ever saying anything remotely controversial, so that nobody could ever demand equal time to reply. The result was radio pablum, the audio equivalent of nothing but "Father Knows Best" 24/7. Imagine how fast you'd take down the comments board and stop blogging if you had to pay cash for every differing opinion someone posted, no matter how inane.

It's also based on the archaic premise that there is limited bandwidth in which to express opinions, which digital technology has shattered. If you don't like Fox News, turn on MSNBC or go to the Internet, where you can find every variety of alternative view, from Marxist to Nazi to Furry.

I happily dance on the grave of the "Fairness" Doctrine. May it burn in Hell with any other government-sponsored attempt to regulate speech in any way, which I seem to recall is strictly forbidden in very plain language by the First Amendment.

Mary Stella said...

You gave us a warning disclaimer that you're feeling snarky? What brought that on? (The disclaimer, not the snark.)

Some people who bought your book also bought mine but I didn't see any of those titles about Tampons, Skanks, Vibrators and Lattes show up on my Amazon page.

If Lady Gaga wore her meat dress to the Oscar Awards, would Sylvester Stallone give her a few jabs?

Tom Quigley said...

RE: The Sundance Kid turning 75...

I remember a great line written by David Lloyd in the MTM "Chuckles Bites The Dust" episode, where following the funeral, everyone is back at Mary's apartment talking about how they'd want to be disposed of when their time comes, and Sue Anne Nivens muses "When I die, I'm going to have my ashes sprinkled on Robert Redford."... Wonder if anyone, either real or created for a TV show, would ever think that about James Franco?...

JazMac said...

Ummm... and who is Darren Star? I honestly have no idea.

Max Clarke said...

Speaking of snarky, the Air Force used to have a primitive cruise missile in its inventory, the Snark. Nothing compared to the current American weapons of terror. If you launched it at Moscow, the Snark had a decent chance of reaching Russia someplace.

RCP said...

Your readers come in all stripes, Ken: I bought your book, along with "Odes" by John Yeats, "David Copperfield" by Charles Dickens, and "Idylls of the King" by Alfred Lord Tennyson. Well not really, but your book is WAY better than Douchebag Roulette.

Thank you for yet another great post.

Yaron said...

I originally wanted to comment regarding the fairness doctrine, but, well, what the first Anonymous and what Pat Reeder said.

Regarding your eBook, how about selling it somewhere beside Amazon?

Amazon are generally great, but when it comes to eBooks they have a problem with taking what amounts to huge... international shipping charges, even though it's a downloaded file and no shipping is involved.
For most of the world outside the US your book won't be 2.99 but rather 4.99, for the privilege of being able to download the book over their local whispernet provider even if it doesn't exist, isn't wanted, or the books is for a Kindle device that physically doesn't support it anyway.
So I buy a lot of paperback books. And I buy eBooks. But I don't buy eBooks from Amazon.

By Ken Levine said...

I sell the book in all ebook formats. Click on the cover icon to the right. All ebook formats and paperback too. But you can get it at the Nook store and iTunes store as well.

emily said...

Maybe Darren Star, Andy Dick, George Lopez and Charlie Sheen can put together a boffo comedy show.


ChicagoJohn said...


I'm throwing in on what others have said about the fairness doctrine.

Freedom of the press never required Benjamin Franklin to balance out his opinion on his presses with the British regular's point of view.

Imagine if after Mash, CBS was required to have a show that advocated the positive aspects of war, using hippies as the punching bag in place of Frank Burns?

For that matter, imagine that you were required, during a baseball game, to root for both teams equally. Or have an announcer for each team, simultaneously, on the air?

In my opinion, the greatest aspect of our constitution is that it allows everyone to be heard, and us to decide. Whups... did I accidentally quote Fox there? Its okay. You'll be alright.

mike said...

The FD mandated views opposing EDITORIAL opinions broadcast by networks or individuals, so if a pro gun control piece aired, so too would an anti gun control piece. Thus the silly examples of broadcasting both sides of a ball game do not apply. It's no coincidence that the doctrine was dropped in the mid-80s, because it's difficult to maintain right-wing propaganda masquerading as news if those pesky opposing thoughts have to air. But, hey, we all know that, even if the doctrine were still in place, the 'liberal media' would eventually gotten tired of calling for exiting Iraq et al, and for the prosecution of war criminals in high places and for single payer health care and...oh, wait.

Yaron said...


Thanks for the response.

Sorry for not being clear enough. As a Kindle owner I need eBooks that are either:
1. In any format whatsoever, but without DRM (so I could convert them for it if needed).
2. In Amazon format (or possibly other with-DRM mobi or prc format files should work too).

Which rules out both B&N (pdb or prc, not sure specifically for yours, but DRM limited to their Nook devices only) and iTunes (ePubs which are DRM limited to their iWhatevers)

So for now it's on the to-get list in paperback, but I really would have loved an eBook if Amazon weren't so stupid about them (not much you can do about it) or if there was another relevant source.

Tom Quigley said...


You may not only be feeling snarky today but if you're working the Mariners game, you may possibly also be feeling the earth move. Just read an article online that said the earthquake that occurred shortly after 2:00 pm near Washington, DC, caused the press box at Jacobs Field to sway for about 30 seconds during the Mariners-Indians game.

Simon H. said...

In defense of Lady Gaga (again), I would like to point out beyond all the theatrics and crazy antics there's a damn good singer/musician underneath that meat dress. Here's her singing "The Edge of Glory" on the Howard Stern show of all things: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_GMgkcc2KM

10-20 years from now she'll still be relevant because she has the musical talent to back up her eccentricities.

Breadbaker said...

They not only had a missile called the snark, they had one called the Boojum. I can't imagine the military showing anywhere near that degree of humor today.

Anonymous said...

@ Breadbaker -

Really? Were they the exact same missile? For the Snark WAS a, well, you know.

Janet T said...

Snark City!

Are the Santa Ana winds blowing or something?

and my vote goes to Lady Gaga

Shelia said...

"This is like original Monet paintings hanging in a Popeye’s Chicken."

Love this. I am going to work this into as many conversations as I can.

Jon88 said...

"It’s like if George Orwell ran Fox News." You're blaming the writer? Sure, he created Big Brother, but ....

Bob Claster said...

Jared Gilmore was wonderful in his recurring role as "Li'l Bill O'Reilly" on "Talkshow with Spike Feresten." The kid was a total pro, and a joy to work with.

Anonymous said...

Of course Matt Holliday had to leave the game last night. Everyone has heard of the infield fly rule, but fewer are aware of its little know and rarely invoked codicil, the outfield moth rule.

But now that you've heard of it, you'll always remember it. It's not something that just goes in one ear and out the other.

You also know why I chose to remain anonymous. Think I could get
a job writing for Leno? Charlie Tuna?

Blair Ivey said...

Fifteen trailers, plus commercials, is why I rarely go to movies.

I once woke up with a palmetto bug in my ear. Yeah, it's strange seeing a bug's ass coming out of your head. Fortunately I'd read a story a few days prior about a woman who had the same problem, so I followed her doctor's remedy. I took the vacuum and sucked that sucker out.

An iPhome app that can judge watermelon ripeness? If our telecom system ever goes down (masive solar flare, nuclear airburst), the Western world will be nothing but a bunch of whiny ignoramuses. Wait...

George Orwell doesn't run Fox News, because he's too busy at The New York Times.

Pat Reeder said...

To Mike:

I've worked in radio, both local and syndicated, for 34 years. I assure you, nobody who actually had to deal with the "Fairness" Doctrine, whether they were to the left or right, had any use for the cursed thing. And the term "Editorial opinion" is vague and nebulous enough to mean that if a talk show host or DJ said anything someone could object to, it was assumed that some jackass might get the FCC to side with his equal time demand.

Nobody wanted to deal with federal intervention, lawsuits or license challenges, so "to be on the safe side," all on-air personnel were under strict orders not to say anything that might trigger it. The technicalities of the regulation didn't matter; all it took to chill speech was the fear that the government speech police would cast their bankrupting attention on you. Don't believe me? I once worked at a station that made a $5,000 coerced "donation" to a political pressure group that made a completely groundless complaint against us, just to make them go away. Funny how their offended sensibilities healed as soon as the check cleared.

So just to be clear, let me reiterate: I'm glad it's dead, I dance on its grave, and when I'm done, I might just take a good long piss there, too. Let the government find something more worthwhile to do with its time than refereeing free speech.

Cap'n Bob said...

Speaking of aptly-named aircraft, the Air Force had a plane with the prop in the rear of the fusilage and the wings angled forward. It's name? The Ascender.

Johnny Walker said...

Sad and shocking to hear the Fairness Doctrine has been scrapped. Hard to believe that any attempt to regulate bias in the news (liberal or conservative) could be seen as a bad thing.

Hard not to see it as another example of something that's good for companies and bad for people...

I'm glad we still have it here (and enforced) here in the UK. Yes, our TV news is boring, but at least it's not sensationalistic or biased, and doesn't pander to the lowest common denominator. (Our print news on the other hand...)

HogsAteMySister said...

How could they possibly know I also bought DATING MY VIBRATOR? So embarrassing.

Frank said...

I just hope 'The Sex Life of Cannibals' gets made into a movie as it was a very entertaining read.

-bee said...

Even if it was imperfect and various Justice Departments were uninterested in prosecuting the law, the Fairness Doctrine was at least some sort of vague attempt to give the less-rich and/or the less-powerful some sort of voice in this country.

I guess we Americans are just supposed to lie back and enjoy the fact that our government has thrown in the towel on the concept of our nation being a 'shining city on the hill'.

Sunshine Vitamin said...

Every time I glance at your blog heading I think it reads, "one of the 25 best blogs of all TIME!" (So true.)

Overheard: "You know that old song, 'Paradise By the Dashboard Light,' that part where the baseball announcer guy talks? I used to know all the words when I was a kid. Well -- I heard it again and just figured this out actually -- it's really not about baseball."

W.V.aphro: phar-out hair.

Huck Flener said...

Is watching a double-header an automatic 264 min. deduction, or is the lessening of a viewer's life-span based on the actual game times as recorded in the box scores? I wonder who's keeping stats up/over/down there.

When are you due back in the M's booth?

Unknown said...

Ken, the equality rules were a shill this way or the other. There are shows on TV that concern themselves with "Did Aliens build the Pryramid" or "Angels - were they actually Aliens from Outer Space?"

Equality also meant that in the past when the topic was vaccination you had to have people with actual brains on a panel, have them speak 5 minutes and being asked interrogating questions - and then have Jenny McCarthy speak her equal share, telling the viewer that mercury in vaccines causes children to get autism, with encouraging little questions sprinkled in.

I mean seriously, as if Fox News or Countdown with Keith Olberman ever doled out "equal time" to anybody.

By Ken Levine said...


I'm back in mid-September for the final road trip. The make-up game in Cleveland, three in Minnesota, and three in Texas. Thanks for listening.

Perry said...

There are plenty of good arguments against the truly awful "Fairness Doctrine" but it's important to note that the harms it did aren't conjectural. Both LBJ and Nixon found the Doctrine a useful stick with which to threaten TV and radio stations. Broadcasters who were too critical of the administration, or the party it represented, would suddenly find the FCC suggesting if they didn't get a whole lot nicer they might lose their license.

Unknown said...

Friday question:

One of the writers of the Conan movie shared his experience on bombing at the Box Office


What are your experiences with failure and what do you think about the guy's mentioning of the other draft he reworked?

Johnny Walker said...

That's a great post, Sebastian. Thanks for sharing it.

iain said...

So Ken, on the M's last trip to Cleveland, they brought torrential rains & now, an earthquake.

What else ya got?

A plague of smoked salmon would be nice.

Tallulah Morehead said...

Let us not forget the one good thing the "Fairness Doctrine" did: whenever rotton old Ronald Reagan ran for any office, they wouldn't run any of his movies on TV. Apparently Pat Brown or Jimmy Carter weren't in any old movies they could air to balance his.

jbryant said...

Gaga will have the longest career because, love her or hate her, she's a complete artist. Katy Perry is too, I suppose, but seems to be following trends rather than a muse. Rihanna has some great records, and should be fine as long as she has strong collaborators. But hey, it's pop music -- all three could be either legends or footnotes in a couple of years.

Johnny Walker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Johnny Walker said...

I'd bet that's a myth, much like Pat's insistence that the "Fairness Doctrine" meant that "equal time" had to be given to differing points of view. If people with 35 years of broadcast experience didn't understand it, it makes me wonder how many people actually did :(

Here's a great article explaining the Fairness Doctrine from the Washington Post in 1994:

Lots of myths that have been repeated here are debunked.

Perry said...

Sorry, Johnny Walker, but the essay you linked to just repeats the talking points of the pro-Fairness Doctrine side that can't wait to have government decide who can speak and how much. There's too much freedom of speech out there from people they disagree with, so they feel it's their duty to corral it and move it in the right direction.

Imagine if the government decided it could tell the New York Times (or Ken Levine, for that matter) if it's being fair or not on its editorial pages, and tell it what it has to print or it goes out of business. The New York Times would see the light--such "Fairness" is offensive to the First Amendment.

There's a long, sad, history where the Supreme Court has essentially made an exception to the First Amendment for broadcasting (and I'm referring to political discussion, not indecency, which is a separate issue). It's too complex to go into here, but the legal argument, mostly based on scarcity, never made much sense, but make no sense today in a world where there are so many outlets for opinions (while newspapers are getting scarcer--hey, maybe it's time to start regulating them after all).

The Fairness Doctrine has been out of use for a long time, so I have to ask, what is your complaint? Just who is saying things we shouldn't be hearing without a reply? Tell you what, you make your list of violations, I'll make mine. And they may be very different. If that's so, all I can say is you must be pretty confident that people who agree with me will never be in charge.

Johnny Walker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Johnny Walker said...

Perry, nothing you've said actually has anything to do with the Fairness Doctrine. If it did, of course I'd agree with you, but it doesn't and never did.

Quote: "Imagine if the government decided it could tell the New York Times (or Ken Levine, for that matter) if it's being fair or not on its editorial pages, and tell it what it has to print or it goes out of business. The New York Times would see the light--such "Fairness" is offensive to the First Amendment."

Let's look at it another way: A news corporation wants you to believe that "Important Issue A" is bad because it helps their business. So they use their might to push one side of the story, and exaggerate things, in order to get you on their side.

A public, who have been deliberately misinformed, then puts pressure on all-too-eager-to-please politicians, pushing something forward that only benefits the news corp and their shareholders. They then oblige, wanting to make voters happy.

It's astonishing to me that people seem to have been coerced into trusting companies (whose only interest is profit, and who the public have no control) over their own government, who answer to them directly, and who they do have control over (and who in turn regulate companies).

Who benefits in this situation, do you think?

The anti-FD argument on this page has been riddled with myths, hyperbole and emotion. It evens went so far as to suggest that ANY government-sponsored attempt to regulate speech should "burn in hell".

Such statements are so overwrought, it's difficult to know where to begin. I'd bet a fair sum that nobody here *actually* wants companies to be able to broadcast whatever they like without government regulation.

The bottom line is that supports of the Fairness Doctrine believe it helped free speech, not hindered it, and the Supreme Court unanimously agreed.

Little Miss Smoke and Mirrors said...

Isn't that basically exactly what happened to Darren Star on Sex and the City?

So funny that a 12-year-old took a swipe at January Jones Nobody likes her. NOBODY. Rumor has it she's about to give birth to a block of ice. Good luck to the next poor brow-beaten Bobby Draper.

jbryant said...

Maybe January Jones is standoffish with the new Bobby because she's creeped out by how he comes back from every hiatus looking like a different kid.