So CW flack Paul McGuire just wrote a Letter to the Editor to LA Weekly snarking about my recent column Screwing The TV Viewers: The CW network is the bastard child of The WB and UPN. What’s bizarre is that he doesn’t dispute even once my reporting that Les Moonves kidnapped The CW, won a negotiating advantage over Warner Bros. and seized sole custody of the netlet for business decisions and programming, or anything to do with this update: Moonves Manhandles “Reba”. In fact, McGuire doesn’t deny anything within my column or find a single inaccuracy. Cuz he can’t. Actually, I heard the suits went on a witchhunt trying to figure out who sang like canaries to me. Meanwhile, I’ve received so many emails saying “thank you, thank you, thank you” for telling the truth about behind-the-scenes there. As for you, Mr. Senior Vice President, Network Communications for The CW, I have a feeling this is the start of yet another beautiful friendship between myself and a PR person. Anyway, I’ve inserted my comments (italics):
McGuire: 1) “Execs at CBS and Time Warner greedily expect The CW to be profitable in its first year.” An American business expecting to make money?! As David Johansen would say, “The Nerve!”
Me: You’re clearly trying to look hip’n’happening here with the Johansen quote. That’s from, what, two decades ago? You’re not denying my assertion: you just don’t like my adverb.
McGuire: 2) It is correct that The CW will program “merely 13 hours of primetime,” just as The WB does [FYI: FOX “merely” programs 15 hours of primetime television], and The CW will also schedule ten additional hours of daytime programming and five hours of children’s programming, including one hour of Educational/Informational content on Saturday mornings, in an aggressive effort to address federally-mandated stipulations.
Me: You admit what I reported was correct. Who cares about the rest of the schedule? Dead air.
McGuire: 3) “Everything on UPN will have first shot at coming back,” quoth The Raven, Ms. Finke’s winged source (with apologies to EA Poe and JJ Burnel), a ludicrous assertion given scheduling meetings for The CW’s inceptive 2006-07 schedule have yet to convene. Nothing like an unnamed source! And a psychic at that! I’m sure this is what Bob Woodward had in mind when he was freezing his tootsies off in that parking garage.
Me: You’ve read Poe? Or was that just the coverage? Again, I note your lame attempt to seem cool with the Burnel reference. If no 2006-2007 meetings have taken place yet, then how come CW acknowledged to the NYT the other day what shows are certain to be returning? Gosh, can’t you guys keep your stories straight? Or maybe you don’t need no stinkin’ meetings since Les is making up the schedule singlehandedly. (LOL) Also, about that Woodward remark: I’m the last person to think covering the bizarro world of Hollywood, even the business of it, matters. Though I do deserve combat pay for sitting through 15 minutes of Pepper Dennis.
McGuire: 4) [The CW] “hampers competition and harms consumers.” Uh, how? Glad to see Ms. Finke embrace the credo, “Facts are stupid things.”
Me: How amusing that you quote phrases of my column out of context, because I spend the entire article explaining this: “In the end, the unexpected but not surprising merger of the two hobbled netlets begs the question ‘Why can cable television support 500 channels, yet network TV not even six?’ As with most everything related to Hollywood, it’s a conundrum of money and ego complicated by the FCC’s unwillingness to police a Big Media consolidation that hampers competition and harms consumers.” I note that “viewers of The CW won’t get to see UPN’s two separate nights of African-American-oriented programming (because that’s been halved) or The WB’s many family-friendly prime-time shows (because they’ve been axed). So two underserved network audiences who embraced the netlet duo will soon be served even less.” I notice how you don’t answer any of these charges.
McGuire: 5) Vis a vis “pork rinds”– referring to WB/UPN TV stations who did not affiliate with The CW–I’m fairly certain 20th Century Fox Television’s My Network TV would dispute this chopped characterization, as they have aggressively touted their incipient alliance with said stations.
Me: I can’t believe you actually wasted your time thinking up a response to my “pork rinds” ribbing. I wrote, “Also dispiriting is the way that The CW cherry-picked the two netlets’ affiliates in major and minor TV markets around the country. That leaves those orphaned WB and UPN stations to subsist on syndicated shows, which are programming’s nutritional equivalent of pork rinds.” Aw, gee, I’m sorry I hurt Fox’s feelings. I doubt they’ll notice since they’re too busy over there counting their American Idol ad cash.
McGuire: 6) “The WB was a dumping ground for Warner Bros. TV pilots and series not picked up by major networks.” A simple phone call to the producers and studios associated with such fan favorites as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Dawson’s Creek, Felicity and 7th Heaven, among other programs, would refute this noxious theorem.
Me: Now, Paul, it’s not kosher for you to change my words and therefore their meaning. What I wrote is: “In the beginning back in 1995, the WB was planned as a dumping ground for Warner TV pilots and series that didn’t get picked up by the major networks.” Big difference. Huge. Plus, if I were you, I wouldn’t boast how The WB spent huge bucks paying for programming made by rival studios.
McGuire: 7) The Family Friendly Programming Forum, an esteemed organization that contributed seed money for the initial pilot scripts for a number of fine television projects, did not “develop”–a risky, multi-million dollar proposition left to profiteering conglomerates like Warner Bros. and CBS–“Gilmore Girls” or any other television program.
Me: You’re kidding, right? Or are you trying to parse the term “develop”? Just see this recent Broadcasting & Cable article, and hundreds like it: “The Family Friendly Programming Forum launched in 1998 with a fairly straightforward goal: to persuade the broadcast networks to put on more prime time programs that are suitable for advertisers with brands geared to families. Eight years later, and the FFPF is still at it but without much notoriety, helping to fund pilot scripts this season for ABC’s Commander in Chief , UPN’s Everybody Hates Chris and The WB’s Related in addition to the long-running Gilmore Girls.”
McGuire: 8) As millions of fans will tell you, including every WB employee and/or executive ever associated with the eternally classy Reba, her last name is McEntire. Ah, fact checking . . . a lost art.
Me: This “Reba” item was posted here on my website, not written in my column. But, wow, you really got me. Yes, for 15 minutes on the Internet, I spelled Reba’s last name wrong. Bring on the whips and chains. Come to think of it, Paul, how do you look all dressed in leather?
McGuire’s Final Comment: I could go on, but “Nausea” is on the turntable and requires immediate volume elevation to eleven. Thank you for your interest in The CW, Ms. Finke!
My final comment: Turntable?