Friday, May 27, 2005

Weekend Tube

A slow weekend for TV with all the BBQ's lit up, but the highlight comes via HBO's two-part Empire Falls (Saturday & Sunday, 8p), starring Ed Harris. I'll watch since Dennis Farina is in it.

Other high(low?)lights:

Nascar Coca-Cola 600 (5p Sunday, Fox)
For those that enjoy those constant left turns.

"National Memorial Day Concert"
Starring Vanessa Williams and Gary Sinise
(8p Sunday, PBS)
As long as Loo-tenant Dan doesn't break out into "The Stars and Stripes Forever," I'll watch.

NBA Playoffs: Eastern Conference Finals (8p Sunday, TNT)
For those die-hard Miami Heat fans nationwide.

"Laugh Whore" with Mario Cantone (9p Saturday, Showtime)
Everyone's favorite gay wedding stylist from "Sex in the City" takes on stand-up comedy.

NBC to Trump - "You're No Joey"

Is the Donald worth $2 million per episode?

He sure thinks he is, but NBC Execs (wisely?) refused his request of "Friends-type money" for Mr. Trump's appearances on "The Apprentice" each week.

With ratings likely to tank for Apprentice 4 and 5, and with Martha Stewart on-deck to take the Apprentice brand off in other directions - probably a smart move.

And yet this TV Geek shudders to think that Matt LeBlanc ("Joey Tribiani") actually made that much money on Friends .

Eddie Albert Passes Away

Eddie Albert, better known as city-slicker-turned-country-bumpkin Oliver Douglas on the forever-ago TV show Green Acres, passed away today at age 99 (!!).

Green Pastures is now the place for him. So long, Eddie.

Geek Vacations

The Geek-in-chief himself has taken a few days to pursue his lifelong dream of auditioning for "Yes: The 6-hour Reality TV Programme," and has thrown me the keys. God help him. He'll return next week. (Well, actually, he's enjoying a well deserved vacation, but he WISHES he could jam with Rick Wakeman.)

Wednesday Night Traffic

More than 50 million viewers tuned in for the final night of May sweeps- one of the biggest nights of the year.

29 million viewers tuned in for the American Idol finale (second lowest rated ever), and 20 million more simultaneously watched Lost (its highest rating so far). Add in cable and the other networks, and nearly two-thirds of the 110 million homes in the U.S. were glued to the tube.

Fear Factor: Home Edition

When it finally gets on the fall schedule, NBC's Fear Factor is planning to change things up by shooting 22 "home invasion" stunts this summer.

Now, contestii can enjoy the covenience of eating eel ass and getting genital electroshocks right from the comfort of own living rooms. How thoughtful! Thanks, NBC.

The Friday "Eff Off!" The Tony Danza Show

Giving a talk show to an Italian is like giving Star Jones a cooking show.

Being Calabrese, I can say that.

So it should be no surprise to see that Tony Danza dominates the conversation in his show. He pummels guests with long-winded questions that he is clearly reading from a card situated right next to him. But, he doesn't wait around for the answer before injecting his own pithy personal anecdotes at a rapid fire pace. He's doesn't seem interested, why should we be?

Talk shows are a dime a dozen. Danza does very little to separate himself.

The Tony Danza Show is syndicated. Check local listings.

Every week, Uncle Buster reviews shows he refuses to watch- in 99 words- in The Friday Eff Off.

Aching News: Must See TV: The Toughest Thing You Will Ever Watch

My hate this week is actually directed toward myself. Well, I am getting ready to get mad at myself…again. Here’s why.

This Monday, Ted Koppel will once again air a program called, “The Fallen.” If you aren’t familiar with what this program is all about, well, it’s exactly what you think it is. Koppel simply reads a list of the names of every American serviceman who has lost his or her life in Afghanistan and Iraq. When each name is read, an accompanying picture is shown when available. Usually one is. And for the sickest of cynics out there, myself guilty as charged, this program isn’t a sweeps stunt. Sweeps ends today.

I saw the first incarnation of this program last year, and I found myself riddled with guilt. I could barely contain my sadness, but more so, I became angry with myself. What the hell have I done? What am I doing to better the world? I’m not even talking about military service, I’m talking about life.

When you look at all of the pictures, all of the faces, for some reason, people who have not lost loved ones in the war begin to understand what these other families must go through.

So often, special TV news stories are made to “inspire,” us and make us feel “thankful,” that we weren’t raised on the streets of Lima, Peru, selling our kidney just to get a bed to sleep on. The problem is, the media produces so many of these stories of sorrow, that most of them fall flat. “The Fallen,” gets it right, by doing things as simply and impartially as possible. No music, no fancy graphics, just names.

In “The Fallen,” Koppel’s detached, monotone delivery is put to perfect use. While he reads name after name, after name, hopefully you, like I, will really take a look at yourself, and what you are doing with your life, because you are still here, and they are not.

As John McCain often says, Americas need to be “inspired to commit themselves to a cause greater than their self interest.” If that doesn’t ring true on Memorial Day, then watch “The Fallen,” and it will, and I’m not even a Republican.

On this Memorial Day, why don’t we all try and strive for something a little better in ourselves.

Until next week, pour yourself a tall glass of “get off your ass,” and do something.