Idol may have reached its zenith
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CASE DISMISSED: Court TV, the US crime and law-themed channel founded by lawyer Steven Brill, is re-branding itself over the course of this year, building up to a change of name, logo and look at the beginning of 2008, according to a story in Broadcasting & Cable magazine. The move is part of a strategy by owner Time-Warner, who bought out co-owner Liberty Media last year, meant to target a “psychographic” the network calls “Real Engagers” – really, it’s right there in the article – who apparently prefer reality shows with a lot of action. (And probably like to imagine that they’re secret agents being tailed by terrorists when they go the store for milk and Doritos.)
The channel began by programming what you’d expect – actual courtroom trials analyzed by anchors – before starting to mix in new and talk shows, then reality programs and syndicated procedurals like NYPD Blues, Law & Order: Trial By Jury and Body Of Evidence into the mix. As part of the new programming profile, Nancy Grace’s talk show will shrink to one hour to make room for a new daytime chat show hosted by Star Jones, and new reality shows based around police interrogations, con artists and security experts will debut.
The Smoking Gun website, purchased by Court TV in 2000, will develop quarterly specials such as The Dumbest Criminals In The World, currently in production. “We were in a unique situation where the programming outgrew the brand, and now we are creating a brand that reflects our already successful programming," Court TV General Manager Marc Juris told B&C magazine. Whether Court TV Canada, the CHUM-owned Canadian offshoot of the network, will mirror these changes remains to be seen – this is where I pause and wait for their local PR person to e-mail me my update, so I can avoid making the phone call and string this story out into another column.
IDOL CHATTER: Jonathan Storm, the Philadelphia Inquirer TV critic with the awesome superhero name, had an interesting article in yesterday’s paper about the apparent slow bleed of teen viewers from Idol, a signal, he suggests, that the “Death Star” of prime time might have reached its high water mark.
The change in demographics – or “psychographics,” my new favorite word – is subtle, Storm admits (his muscles rippling in the setting sun as he adjusts his cape – sorry, I can’t resist), but is it terribly surprising in a show that was won last season by a guy who looked like a substitute teacher, singing songs that their parents know the words to? “Teens turned it on. Moms joined them. Siblings wandered into the room, and Dad arrived for the recap,” according to Henry Jenkins, an Idol expert and DeFlorz Professor of Humanities and director at the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program. (Now I’ve got your attention, right?) As more parents tune in, the show becomes less appealing for younger people; rebellious teens tune out first, followed by the younger siblings who copy them, and in a few years Idol will the 21st century equivalent of the Lawrence Welk Show. You heard it here first.