Wednesday, Aug. 9
Remember the splashy, journalism-themed reality-TV series that ABC announced last spring–the one in which actual, real-life New York reporters would be filmed as they cranked out an actual, real-life New York magazine for the Web? A lot of places (including this newspaper) made a gigantic fuss about the Disney project, figuring that, at long last, New York hacks were going to get their prime-time close-up. Casting was set to begin in May, and producers were planning to scout Manhattan locations soon after.
Well, what happened? It’s August, and no New York casting session has occurred as of yet, no set has been picked–and though producers are still taking applications, it’s been a while since any info has trickled out about the much-hyped, as-yet-untitled ink-stained version of The Real World.
So is it … dead? “It’s not dead,” said Drew Hoegl, a producer with Bunim-Murray productions, creators of The Real World and Road Rules , which is working with ABC on the New York Web ‘zine project. “It is certainly still in the works.”
Mr. Hoegl attributed the hold-up to the standard sort of network delays. Apparently, ABC and its GO Web network still have to work out the Internet component of the show and other infrastructure details. “My experience in television is that it takes a long time for all the t’s to be crossed and all the i’s to be dotted at the network level to actually go into production,” Mr. Hoegl said.
Mr. Hoegl insisted that this spring’s tech-stock downturn hasn’t soured anyone on the prospect of doing a dot-com series on prime-time television, adding that there had already been some tumbles in the tech market when the show was first announced. “I don’t think it [the stock market] has a lot of bearing on whether the show goes or not,” he said.
Meanwhile, all you wannabe reality-TV journos, they’re still taking applications! Mr. Hoegl estimated that Bunim-Murray productions has received 1,000 applications since April. And there’s still a plan to do some on-site casting here in New York, though there isn’t a firm date. As for the probability of the show sticking to its winter 2001 on-air launch, Mr. Hoegl said, “That’s what we’re hoping for!”
Aren’t we all? Meanwhile, get yourself a temp magazine freelancing job, max your credit cards, subsist on fro-yo and tune into ABC for tonight’s episode of Norm . Bonus: It’s the Christmas episode! [WABC, 7, 8:30 p.m.]
Thursday, Aug. 10
Dick Wolf knows that nothing goes better with a hot New York summer day than a little bit of Ice-T. The Law & Order über -producer signed up the ponytailed West Coast hip-hop artist-actor to star in his L&O spinoff, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit . Ice-T will play a detective and will be partnered with Homicide vet Richard Belzer.
This isn’t Ice-T’s first go-round with Mr. Wolf. The author of such seminal hip-hop anthems as “Colors” and “Girls, Let’s Get Butt-Naked And …” first hooked up with Mr. Wolf for a couple of guest spots on the now-defunct New York Undercover , and even briefly had his own Wolf-produced series, Players, on NBC.
NYTV caught up with Ice-T during a break in shooting at Law & Order: Special Victims Unit ‘s New Jersey set. Originally from Jersey, but now an adopted son of Lala-land, Ice-T sounded thrilled to be back in the East. “New York is one of the only cities in the United States, as far as I’m concerned, that has a nightlife,” Ice-T said. “New York, Vegas and Miami. I’m from Los Angeles, and Los Angeles shuts down at two.”
Good thing to keep in mind for the upcoming convention week! Ice-T was asked what he thought about all those Democrats invading his hometown. “It will be interesting to me what the protesters do,” said the rapper, who was protested a bit himself for his song “Cop Killer,” which earned him the wrath of Patrolmen’s Benevolent Associations nationwide. “I say what I have to say on the records. I’ve never been somebody who actually gets out on the streets and does the hard-core protesting … Without anyone getting hurt or anything, I think [the protesting] is good. People got to stand up and move. I don’t think people should just be like lambs.”
But what about the L.A. people? Are they going to be into convention week? Ice-T laughed. “L.A. is an interesting place,” he said. “L.A. is more or less like, ‘As long as I’ve got my swimming pool and I’m doing okay,’ people don’t tend to care. It’s not like in New York, where people are pushed up against each other. It’s kind of like, ‘I’ve got a gate, I’ve got a wall, I’ve got a gardener, my rent’s paid and I’m okay. Politics cannot get over my wall.’”
Ice-T laughed again. “It’s different.”
Tonight on NBC, Third Rock from the Sun , a repeat which beat opening-night coverage from the Republican Convention on ABC and CBS. Shocking? No. Sad? Yes. [WNBC, 4, 8:30 p.m.]
Friday, Aug. 11
What if you thought you had used your computer to unravel the pop-culture secret of the decade–the kind of discovery that would make you the envy of your computer-geek friends, get your mug on the cover of Wired magazine and land you a fabulous job making fabulous money?
But what if it turned out that, instead of being right, you were buck-naked wrong–and none of that fabulous stuff you thought might happen ended up happening?
Well, then, you would be Corrie Sloot. The 22-year-old computer science and physics major from Brock University in St. Catherine’s, Ontario, was at the center of a media maelstrom a couple of weeks back, when he claimed to have figured out the $1 million winner on the hit CBS series Survivor by analyzing the programming code for CBS.com’s Survivor Web site. You may recall Mr. Sloot, a.k.a. Caplock, discovered that a single cast member–Gervase–didn’t have a red X attached to his photo. Thus, Mr. Sloot deducted, Gervase must be the winner.
Good-natured Gervase got booted off Pulau Tiga on the Aug. 2 episode, so Mr. Sloot has endured a little bit of egg-on-face. So did the hundred or so news outlets, including Good Morning America and, uh, NYTV, that ran with Mr. Sloot’s prediction. Making matters worse, CBS and ever-humble Survivor producer Mark Burnett are now claiming that they planted the Gervase curveball on the Web site, hoping this very thing would happen.
Mr. Sloot seemed to be taking it all in stride.
“I think I got enough publicity,” Mr. Sloot wrote in an e-mail interview with NYTV. “It was a fun 15 minutes, and I’m glad that it is over. Now I can get back to my life.”
Oh, c’mon–you didn’t expect anything?
“I was hoping for a job out of all of this,” Mr. Sloot acknowledged, “but so far [I] have only received one offer, [from an employer that] I do not think is interested anymore.”
Shucks. By the way, Corrie Sloot, who wins Big Brother ?
Tonight on CBS, Jints at Jax on NFL Football , featuring the CBS sports guys decked in new threads from designer Joseph Abboud. Sports announcers have come a long way from looking like stiffs in Century 21 blazers, huh? NYTV asked Mr. Abboud if he could have worked his sartorial magic on the late Howard Cosell. “Howard was such a personality, I don’t think it would have mattered what he was wearing,” Mr. Abboud said. “But I suppose we could have given him a little touch-up.” [WCBS, 2, 8 p.m.]
Saturday, Aug. 12
Tonight on NBC, Macaulay Culkin stars in Richie Rich . Hope that lil’ Richie signed himself a prenup. [WNBC, 4, 8 p.m.]
Sunday, Aug. 13
It was the last night of the Republican National Convention, and Bob Schieffer was talking about the good old days. Like a lot of veteran political reporters, the CBS News Washington correspondent and Face the Nation host was pretty much bored silly by Philly, where the G.O.P. choreographed the convention news more tightly than a Britney Spears dance routine.
“The first politician I can remember was in 1948,” Mr. Schieffer said during a break inside the CBS News skybox. “I was about 10 years old, and Lyndon Johnson was running for Senate in that famous campaign …
“Out of the sky came this helicopter–we’d never seen a helicopter–and then this big voice came down: ‘THIS IS YOUR CANDIDATE FOR THE UNITED STATES SENATE–LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON. I’LL BE DOWN TO SEE YOU.’ He was on a bullhorn. He came down there and got out of the helicopter, and while I don’t remember exactly what he said, it must have made an enormous impression on me, because I can still remember it. And at the end of [the speech], he takes off his hat and throws it into the crowd, and gets back on the helicopter.
“Well, I was telling this story one day to Jake Pickle, who was a Congressman from Austin for many, many years, and he said, ‘Oh yeah, I was the guy who caught the hat! That was my job. I’d get in front of the crowd, and when Lyndon would throw the hat out, I’d catch it, and then I’d run around to the back of the helicopter, give it to him, and he’d go on to the next stop!’”
Mr. Schieffer laughed. “You know, politics was fun, it was spontaneous, and I think it was better.”
Mr. Schieffer has covered every convention since 1968. Many of them he covered from the floor, the political equivalent of a mosh pit. He said he has seen people pass out, even die, on the floor.
“The floor used to get so crowded in those early days that you wanted a couple of burly technicians who could block the other guys from getting in there and getting your interviews,” Mr. Schieffer recalled. “We really used to have fights down there on the floor. I remember one year I literally nearly got into a fistfight with Chris Wallace, who I guess was working for NBC at the time, and it probably wouldn’t have been such a good thing because at that time, his stepfather, Bill Leonard, was my boss at CBS News. Obviously we [Chris and I] were friends–we are friends–but it was just one of those things that cropped up. It used to get really fierce down there.”
Not any more. Once, Mr. Scheiffer recalled, CBS News dispatched as many as eight correspondents to the convention floor. “Now we have one–Ed Bradley down there all by himself,” he said.
In fact, Mr. Schieffer and his veteran CBS News colleagues think this may be the swan song for prime-time convention coverage. “It’s just that the political world is changing,” he said softly.
At least Mr. Schieffer has his convention memories. And not all of them are work-related, apparently.
“My daughter Susan was born exactly nine months to the day after the convention in 1968,” Mr. Schieffer said, a twinkle in his eye. “She loves to embarrass her mother by saying, ‘See–it wasn’t all just fighting in the streets!’”
Mr. Schieffer roared. You are hereby warned: If you see that CBS News skybox a-rockin’ in L.A., don’t come a-knockin’! Tonight on CBS, 60 Minutes. [WCBS, 2, 7 p.m.]
Monday, Aug. 14
Bespectacled Nixon-and-Ford-speechwriter-turned-TV-personality Ben Stein was among the Republican celebrities at this year’s G.O.P. convention–and one of the few who could claim to be an actual “working man,” given that he has two TV shows on Comedy Central, Win Ben Stein’s Money and a quirky new talk show, Turn Ben Stein On , which bowed this summer.
Is he working harder than Regis?
“Oh God!” Mr. Stein exclaimed. “Regis doesn’t work! Regis just gets money for being there.”
Tonight, Win Ben Stein’s Money on Comedy Central. If you win, tweak Mr. Stein by donating to Ralph Nader. [COM, 45, 11:30 p.m.]
Tuesday, Aug. 15
Tonight, Vice Presidential nominee and pop-culture critic Joe Lieberman tunes to Dateline NBC to watch an expose about kids who … sneak … into … R-rated movies ! The horror! A better idea: Deport anyone who paid $9 to see Coyote Ugly . [WNBC, 4, 10 p.m.]