Ivan's Blog

Featuring Ivan Trembow's Self-Important, Random Rants on Mixed Martial Arts, Video Games, Pro Wrestling, Television, Politics, Sports, and High-Quality Wool Socks

Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Pro Wrestling--- With the off-camera relationship between Adam Copeland (Edge) and Amy Dumas (Lita) now being turned into an on-air storyline by WWE, it's worth taking a look at the corresponding real-life situation that caused an innocent person to be fired from his job at WWE for no good reason.

The storyline that WWE is now presenting on the air is that Lita was cheating on her storyline husband, Kane, and has now left Kane to be with Edge. Dumas and Copeland are being paired up together in on-air storylines, months after they decided to pair up together behind the scenes.

Fellow WWE wrestler Matt Hardy and Amy Dumas had been a real-life couple for years, while Adam Copeland had been a close friend of both Hardy and Dumas for years. Copeland was also just married, for the second time, last October to a woman named Lisa. By all accounts, Matt Hardy had previously remained faithful to Amy Dumas when she was off the road for 18 months with a neck injury.

With Matt Hardy out of action, off WWE TV, and off the road for several months due to surgery for a torn ACL in his knee, Amy Dumas and Adam Copeland apparently began having an affair at some point, meaning that Copeland was cheating on his new bride and Dumas was cheating on her long-time loyal boyfriend. When initially confronted by Lisa Copeland, who has never been involved in the pro wrestling business other than marrying a wrestler, Adam Copeland denied the affair, as did Amy Dumas when confronted by Matt Hardy. Nothing was admitted until Adam Copeland and Amy Dumas, aka Edge and Lita, were caught red-handed with voice-mails and messages that they had sent one another.

The previous paragraph is the basic story about the situation that leaked out on the Internet via friends of the people involved, and was later confirmed by Hardy himself in a post on his official web site. Given that Hardy is not on good terms with Copeland or Dumas for obvious reasons, the solution to this problem should have been very simple for WWE management: Move Hardy to the Smackdown roster so that he doesn't have to work with, interact with, or even see Copeland or Dumas, who are on the Raw roster.

Instead, WWE chose the option that made the least sense, not to mention being morally reprehensible. Feeling that Copeland is a bigger star than Hardy, and feeling that Hardy should not have talked about or confirmed any real life, behind-the-scenes activity on the Internet, WWE released Matt Hardy. That's right... Matt Hardy was fired for being cheated on. Hardy's release included a no-compete clause, and you can expect him to show up in TNA, Ring of Honor, and other pro wrestling promotions when his no-compete clause expires in July.

As you might imagine, the outrage within the pro wrestling community has been overwhelmingly negative towards Adam Copeland and Amy Dumas. If there's one code of honor among pro wrestlers, it's that you don't sleep with another wrestler's girlfriend, fiance, or wife. The fact that Copeland and Dumas had an affair while Hardy was off TV recovering from an injury caused the majority of the WWE locker room to be upset, and that sentiment turned to outrage when Hardy was inexplicably fired.

There have been a lot of people who have written a lot of things about the Hardy-Dumas-Copeland situation, but perhaps none were more poignant than the following letter to the editor that was published by the Wrestling Observer. The name of the letter's author was withheld by request, but it was confirmed by Observer editor Dave Meltzer to be an active wrestler, and it's believed that the wrestler works for NWA-TNA. Here's what the letter said (notes in brackets have been added by me for clarification purposes as needed)...

"I've been involved in the world of professional wrestling for almost twelve years now. I've seen things and heard stories that have made my eyes pop out of my head. Today, I was overwhelmed with disgust after reading the headline of the day - Matt Hardy released from WWE, most likely due to his personal situation with Amy Dumas and Adam Copeland, and I couldn't help but write a letter for the first time. This one topped Andrew Martin's release just after surgery [Andrew "Test" Martin was released by WWE shortly after he had major spinal surgery to correct an injury that was suffered on the job]. I have several friends that work for WWE, so I am choosing to remain anonymous.

What did Matt Hardy do for this release? Sacrifice his body for the fans' entertainment? Remain over with fans even though the "writers" buried his character most of the time? No. Matt Hardy, the human being, spoke about a personal situation going on in his life. Not unlike anything you read about in celebrity-type magazines or television shows. The love he remained faithful to when she hurt her neck didn't return the favor and she betrayed him with one of his best friends. His other true love, the wrestling business, was something he couldn't be a part of due to an injury.

One can imagine the hell he must have gone through being laid up and finding out about this betrayal. He's a HUMAN BEING. I guess when you sign a contract with WWE, you lose that right. You seem lose the right to have independent thought, even though you're an "independent contractor," wink wink. You lose the right to voice your opinion once you're on the payroll, being paid one of the smallest percentages off the gross of any form of entertainment in the country.

There are two sides to every story, or maybe three in this story. Wrestling does funny things to people. Maybe Matt wasn't nice to Lita. Maybe Edge took up an interest in stray dogs and they fell in love. Maybe she's just a slut, who knows? But if WWE is going to take action against Matt Hardy, maybe they should take a closer look at the "action" that led to his internet writings. Then again, after some of the tales of the McMahon's infamous romps, what do you expect? [Vince McMahon has admitted in the past to cheating on his wife dozens of times.]

That's just the personal side. From a business standpoint, WWE makes yet another foolish move. They released multiple quality talents over the course of a few days at a time when their weekly television shows remain boring, predictable, and repetitive. They need as many fresh faces as they can get or their problems will just get worse. No matter what WWE's "writers" chose to do with Matt Hardy, he remained popular. He just as easily could have been sent to Smackdown and work a program to get a good match out of John Cena.

It wouldn't make sense storyline-wise, but what would he have gone back to on Raw? Kane, the guy who on WWE TV has tombstoned Linda McMahon, buried his brother alive, sold for Shane-o Mac, raped Lita, and caused Matt's injury in the storyline is now a babyface hero again in the storyline. If they wanted to be creative, they could have injected Rhyno into the Lita-Kane storyline in Matt Hardy's absence. It would have given a storyline to a guy that had a chance to get over with a decent, consistent push, and the matches would have been a lot better than the Kane-Snitsky classics. I guess looking at the forty pounds of back acne and not knowing how to sell is supposed to be entertaining.

Rhyno was wasted in that company right off the bat. Stories say he's having a tough time right now, between a bitter divorce, thoughts of his young daughter moving to another country, and having a group of people that know nothing about professional wrestling ruin his career. That's enough to get to anyone, but it's multiplied in a wrestling environment. Would anyone be surprised to hear stories that someone in the same situation as Rhyno became a heavy drug addict as a result of this? He made a fool out of himself with the incident at the post-show WrestleMania party, but why not get the man some help instead of tossing him out of a job like trash?

More good talent has been released that will be replaced by cheaper, greener versions that aren't ready for the spot yet. More faceless, nameless divas will come in to pop the teenage demo. To hell with morals or employee morale. To hell with caring about human beings' real life situations.

Let the boys have no consequences for what they do on the road. Let one of our top superstars sexually harass every diva on the roster and run a few out of the company [this is a reference to Randy Orton's behavior behind the scenes]. This was a company that let ring boy molestation run wild long before Hulkamania [this is a reference to the "TitanGate" scandals of the early 90's]. Who cares about health when you can get up and get down and make the next shot? If you don't look Hollywood enough, take a "subtle" hint and get on the sauce. It's entertainment! Don't you "Get It?" Yeah, just don't talk about it on the Internet.

It's days like this when I question how I can even be involved with a business that has such little class. And to show just how odd of a business this is, I'd take a job with WWE in a second if I was offered one..."


Saturday, May 28, 2005
Mixed Martial Arts--- It's Saturday and there are no boxing or MMA events scheduled to be televised tonight, which is the first time that has happened in a long time. And no, I'm not counting the $40 boxing pay-per-view with Julio Cesar Chavez in the main event, which I would imagine is only going to be purchased by approximately six people other than die-hard Chavez fans. With no big boxing or MMA events this weekend, it's the perfect time for an MMA News Round-Up...

Two More Fights Added to Pride Line-Up
Pride has announced two more fights that will take place at "Pride: Critical Countdown 2005" on June 26th. The #2 heavyweight fighter in the world, Brazil's Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, will face Poland's Pawel Natsula, who is an Olympic Gold Medalist in judo. Also, the young heavyweight star from Russia, Sergei Kharitonov, will face UFC veteran Pedro Rizzo, who is making his Pride debut.

These two heavyweight fights are in addition to the four quarter-final match-ups in the 205-pound Pride Grand Prix. Those match-ups will be Vanderlei Silva vs. Kazuhiro Nakamura, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Ricardo Arona vs. Kazushi Sakuraba, and Igor Vovchanchyn vs. Alistair Overeem.

The much-anticipated Pride Heavyweight Title fight between Emelianenko Fedor and Mirko Cro Cop will not be taking place at the June 26th due to a broken bone in Fedor's hand. Also, Pride made the mistake once again of scheduling one of its events on the same day as a WWE pay-per-view, so the Critical Countdown show will not be broadcast in the United States on Sunday, June 26th. Instead, it will be broadcast on a five-day tape delay on Friday, July 1st.

K-1 Las Vegas Attendance Better Than Usual
The K-1 USA event that was recently held at the Bellagio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas drew a higher attendance than K-1 normally draws in the United States. The total attendance was 4,879, with a total of 3,119 paid tickets and 1,760 free "comp" tickets. The total live gate was $256,250.

This is a drastic difference from K-1's previous Las Vegas events, which have normally had 70 to 80 percent of their tickets given away as free comp tickets in order to fill the building and make it look good on TV. In the case of this particular event, it still had 35 percent of its tickets given away as comps, but that's much better than 70 or 80 percent.

For the purposes of comparison, UFC 52 in Las Vegas had 12,643 paid tickets and 1,631 comp tickets, for a total attendance of 14,274 and a total live gate of $2,575,450. (Click here for more details on the UFC 52 business figures.)

At the same time, it's all a matter of perspective. K-1 is far more successful in its home country of Japan than the UFC is in the United States, mainly because MMA and kickboxing are accepted mainstream sports in Japan. It was considered a huge success in the American cable television industry for the UFC to draw a 1.9 overall rating for its April 9th live event on Spike TV, while in Japan it's not uncommon for MMA events to draw ratings of 20.0 or even 30.0. Nothing on American television reaches that level of viewership other than the Super Bowl. Mixed martial arts still has a long way to go before it's as accepted and mainstream in the United States as it is in Japan.

Plans for The Ultimate Fighter's Middleweight Finalists
It's expected that before he fights again, Diego Sanchez will undergo the hip surgery that he has needed for quite some time, which was briefly talked about in one of The Ultimate Fighter's season one episodes. In addition, Sanchez flat-out said after winning The Ultimate Fighter's middleweight competition that he was dropping down to welterweight for his future UFC fights.

As for the other TUF middleweight finalist, Kenny Florian said in a post on the Underground Forum that he does have a contract to fight again in the UFC, but it's not the three-year, $350,000 contract that the winners got. Florian also said that his future fights in the UFC would be in the welterweight division, which is closer to his natural weight.

Final UFC 53 Line-Up
Here's the full line-up for UFC 53, which will be taking place next Saturday, June 4th. The co-main events will feature UFC Interim Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski facing off with Justin Eilers, while UFC Middleweight Champion Evan Tanner defends his title against Rich Franklin. It's expected that Matt Lindland will be the #1 contender who eventually faces the winner of the Tanner-Franklin bout.

As for the heavyweight title picture, the rumored return date for UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir is October. Mir is still recovering from a broken leg suffered in a motorcycle accident last year. It's expected that Mir will face whoever the Interim Heavyweight Champion is at the time of his return, which would be the winner of the Arlovski-Eilers fight.

Also on the UFC 53 card:

-The Ultimate Fighter's light-heavyweight winner Forrest Griffin will be going against Canadian heavy hitter Bill Mahood

-Another TUF contestant, middleweight Nate Quarry, will be facing the returning UFC veteran Shonie Carter

-Rising heavyweight star Paul Buentello will try to continue his winning ways against Kevin Jordan, who has a 10-3 MMA record and is making his UFC debut

-Young welterweight star Karo Parisyan will face off with Matt Serra, who is moving up from lightweight

-Another young welterweight star, Nick Diaz, will face Koji Oishi, who is being sent from Japan as a representative of the Pancrase MMA organization

-David Loiseau, fresh off a UFC victory in February, will face the debuting Charles McCarthy, who has an 8-2 MMA record and could be a future star at middleweight

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Friday, May 27, 2005
Video Games--- I recently wrote an article about Nintendo's unveiling of its next-generation video game system, and how the company still doesn't seem to "get it." There was a time, prior to the start of the most recent generation of the console wars, when Nintendo faced many of the same issues that it faces today.

There are certain steps that Nintendo has to take if it ever wants to be a serious player in the video game industry again, and until it takes those steps, it will always be relegated to the third-place system of any hardware generation.

Looking back into the archives of my video game web site, Master Gamer, I wrote an article in May 2000 called, "How to Turn Around Nintendo." Many of the issues that I wrote about back then still apply to the company today. Please note that the "Dolphin" was the code-name for the system that would eventually come to be known as the Nintendo GameCube.

How to Turn Around Nintendo
Originally Published in May 2000 on Master Gamer

In the past decade, Nintendo has gone from the undisputed leader of the video game industry to a shell of its former self. While it's too late for the N64 to have a chance of catching up with the PlayStation's installed base, Nintendo can still come out on top in the next-generation system race if they play their cards right (and by "cards," I mean their business strategies, not the Pokemon Trading Card Game).

In order for the Dolphin to end up being more successful than the Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, and Xbox, Nintendo needs to take at least a few of the following suggestions to heart. Some of these are fairly obvious things that Nintendo might already be thinking about doing, and some of them are bolder ideas that I doubt they have the cahones to do.

Sell the Dolphin for $99
Former Nintendo of America president Howard Lincoln already hinted at this in an interview that was conducted last year before he retired. It would surprise me to see the Dolphin launch at anything more than $150, but there's a big difference between $150 and $99 in the eyes of the mainstream consumer.

Nintendo needs to take advantage of the low-cost manufacturing process it has set up with IBM and sell the Dolphin at a mass-market $99, even if it means losing money on the hardware like Sony is doing with the PlayStation 2. Nintendo can afford to do this thanks to billions of dollars in cash reserves. Nintendo's annual net profit fell from $800 million to $500 million last year, but $500 million is still nothing to sneeze at.

Reach out to Third-Party Developers
There are three ways in which Nintendo needs to reach out to third-party publishers and developers. The first is to stop being such a tight-ass with royalties and licensing fees (this one is pretty much self-explanatory). The second is to make it clear to third-party companies that Nintendo's ultimate goal is to end up back on top of the video game industry, and the company is not content to sit back twiddling its thumbs and raking in millions of dollars off the Pokemon franchise.

Finally, Nintendo needs to make the Dolphin extremely easy to develop for. This would seem to be an obvious objective in the development of any video game system, but it seems that some companies have under-estimated the importance of making a system easy for third-party developers to work with. Despite the fact that the N64 is more powerful than the PlayStation, it's a pain in the ass to make an N64 game, so the PlayStation has always had much more third-party support (and third-party support ultimately makes or breaks every video game system).

Now it seems that history is repeating itself with the Xbox being much easier to work with than the PlayStation 2, only this time the system that's easier to work with is actually much more powerful, too. Regardless of anything else that Nintendo does, the Dolphin has no chance of winning the next-generation system war if doesn't have great third-party support, and it's not going to have great third-party support if it's hard to work with. Nintendo should think twice about pulling a Sony and sacrificing ease of development for raw power. Sometime before the N64 was released, Nintendo said to itself, "To hell with third-party developers." I hope Nintendo doesn't make the same mistake twice.

Create a Separate Brand for Kids Products
It's a simple idea, but creating a separate brand called "Nintendo Kids" would increase Nintendo's standing with hardcore gamers considerably. It's one thing if Nintendo wants to continue to pump out kiddie-oriented crap like Mario Party for the sake of profit, but it's slap to the face of hardcore gamers everywhere when games like Mario Party are mixed in with the rest of a system's lineup, indistinguishable from real games like Perfect Dark from a branding standpoint.

Nintendo should encourage retailers to have two sub-sections for Dolphin products: One for games that are in the Nintendo Kids line, and one for games that aren't in the Nintendo Kids line. This would make it easy for hardcore gamers to look in one place for games that are targeted at them rather than hordes of six-year-olds, and it would also make it easier for parents to pick out "appropriate" games when they're shopping for their kids.

Give Shigeru Miyamoto Some Focus
Nintendo's famed designer Shigeru Miyamoto recently told Famistu magazine that the wait for the first Zelda game on the Dolphin will be "only one year and a little bit... recently we came up with a technique to make the game in two years." Of course, this statement doesn't mean any more than any of Miyamoto's previous statements to the same effect over the years. It has been a very long time since Miyamoto developed a game in under three years, and there's no real reason to think that this is going to change anytime soon.

If Miyamoto is to have a chance to develop a game in under three years, he needs to spend more time developing games and less time supervising the development of games. Miyamoto should develop one or maybe two games at a time rather than supervising the development of a dozen. Miyamoto himself said in an interview last year that he wants to cut back on the number of projects in which he has "creative input."

Miyamoto wants to focus on less projects, and it's in the best interests of the company for Miyamoto to focus on less projects. Somehow, these two facts have not passed through the thick skull of Nintendo's principal owner Hiroshi Yamauchi. (If you think it's brash of me to say that Yamauchi has a thick skull, consider this: Yamauchi recently told Famistu that the Game Boy Advance will have performance similar to that of the Sega Dreamcast, despite the fact that the GBA can't even handle basic polygons.)

Never, Ever Delay a Game for Market Reasons
Nintendo and Rare have enough problems with delays for the sole reason that they're two of the slowest-working companies in the world, but it makes me sick to hear about Nintendo delaying games for "market reasons." You know, like when some executive decided, "I don't want Perfect Dark to ship in 1999 because it might cut into Donkey Kong 64 sales," or "I don't want StarCraft 64 to ship in 1999 because it might cut into Command & Conquer 64 sales," or "I don't want the Game Boy Advance to ship in 2000 because it might cut into Game Boy Color sales."

If a product is ready to ship to retailers right now, then for the love of God, ship it! Every company has to draw a line somewhere between maximizing profits and serving the needs of consumers. Nintendo has made it clear that they are more interested in squeezing every last possible dollar out of all their products than they are with pleasing their loyal customers.

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem that this is going to change anytime soon. Nintendo of America's head honchos Minoru Arakawa and Peter Main recently said in an interview with Games Business that if the Game Boy Color continues to sell well, the Game Boy Advance might not be released until 2002.

"When It's Done"
If Nintendo can't meet their own conservative release deadlines, they should stop announcing release dates all together. Adopt Id Software's strategy and give every Nintendo and Rare game a release date of "when it's done." This would be a bold strategy that would probably face bitter opposition from the marketing department, but it would be worth it.

It would finally put an end to the seemingly never-ending cycle of every single game from Nintendo and Rare being delayed at least once, and usually two-to-four times. Granted, it would be harder for the marketing department to come up with advertising schedules, but Id Software never seems to have a problem selling their games...

Stop Lying to Consumers
This is the most important suggestion of all, and the one that Nintendo is least likely to listen to. If Nintendo isn't willing to adopt a "when it's done" release date strategy, they could at least stop lying to consumers. Whether any Nintendo employee wants to admit it or not, the fact of the matter is that Nintendo has made a habit out of blatantly lying to consumers over the years.

It must have been embarrassing for Nintendo when Rare said that the Game Boy Camera functions in Perfect Dark were "fully operational" and "removed for political reasons" less than one week after Nintendo claimed the features were being taken out of the game because "they weren't working properly." Would you guys like a napkin to wipe the egg off your face?

When Nintendo originally announced that the Nintendo 64 was going to be released in the fall of 1995, do you really think they believed that? Or do you think they wanted to convince as many gullible people as possible to hold off on buying a PlayStation or Saturn because the N64 was "just a few months away"? Do you really think there was ever the slightest chance that the Dolphin would be released in the fall of 2000 in either the US or Japan, or was Nintendo just thinking about cutting into Dreamcast and PlayStation 2 sales?

Even now, the Dolphin is officially scheduled to be released in the spring of 2001, despite the fact that a fall 2001 release date is much more likely. Rare was scheduled to release four games for the Nintendo 64 this fall: Conker's Bad Fur Day, Banjo-Tooie, Dinosaur Planet, and Mickey's Speedway USA (yes, Mickey's Speedway USA). Surprise, surprise! None of these games are going to be released this year! All four games are now scheduled to be released in January or February of 2001, and even these new release dates are very questionable. These games are much more likely to be released in mid-to-late 2001 than January or February, especially the nowhere-near-finished Dinosaur Planet.

I'm not saying that Nintendo should announce a release date for a game and then stick to it no matter what. As much as I am annoyed and angered by Nintendo's constant delays, I still prefer delays over games that are released in unfinished form.

What I am proposing is that if a particular product is, realistically, not going to be released until the fall of 2001, the release date that Nintendo should announce is "the fall of 2001." It's not rocket science. It's simply telling consumers the truth, something that appears to be a foreign concept to Nintendo.


Thursday, May 26, 2005
Mixed Martial Arts--- Chuck Liddell Signs Huge Endorsement Deal; Pride Goes After UFC Heavyweight Fighter

by Ivan Trembow for MMAWeekly.com

The Observer Newsletter is reporting that Chuck Liddell has signed a new endorsement deal with the supplement company Xyience with "money figures that have people stunned." Though the Observer article did not say exactly how much money Liddell will make under the new deal, it did refer to the deal as "a giant breakthrough for MMA athletes."

Other news items courtesy of the Observer Newsletter...

Pride is close to signing heavyweight fighter Mike Kyle away from the UFC. To give you an idea of what Pride considers an attractive offer to a heavyweight free agent who they are trying to take away from their biggest competitor, Kyle was offered a three-fight contract with the following financial terms. The first fight on the deal is for $15,000 to fight and $15,000 more to win. A win would raise Kyle's pay to $25,000 for fighting and $25,000 for winning, while a second win in Pride would raise his pay to $75,000 for fighting and $75,000 for winning. Kyle is 2-1 in the UFC, with knockout wins over Wes Sims and James Irvin, along with a knockout loss to Justin Eilers. Kyle is currently recovering from a broken hand suffered in his victory over James Irvin.

Tito Ortiz is out of the Abu Dhabi submission grappling tournament. The Observer reports that Ortiz' people "asked for a spot and were offered a spot, but he never got back to the promotion." This is news that first broke on MMAWeekly Radio and was later picked up by the Observer.

Finally, the Observer also reports that K-1 has tentatively scheduled a match in Hiroshima, Japan on June 14 between former pro wrestler Sean O'Haire (who is 0-2 in K-1) and the 7-foot-6-inch South Korean giant, Hong-Man Choi.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Assorted Topics--- Today, we've got word on the continuation of the "Semi-Annual Sopranos Renewal Con-Game," the creator of Alias letting it slip that Jennifer Garner is indeed pregnant, Jimmy Kimmel's portrayal of Jay Leno in the "E Presentation of the Michael Jackson Trial," and Shannen Doherty already getting herself fired from her new sitcom before it even hits the air.

Media Pretends to be Surprised about Another Season of The Sopranos
It is always nice to watch the entertainment media hilariously try to pretend that they're surprised when the con-game of The Sopranos getting renewed indefinitely continues season after season. I could understand someone not noticing a pattern until it happened a few times, but at this point it's just ridiculous. To catch you up if you're new to the "Semi-Annual Sopranos Renewal Con-Game," The Sopranos' sixth and "final" season is currently in production, and will start airing on HBO sometime in 2006. However, to the shock of absolutely no one, Sopranos creator David Chase has now said that "maybe, just maybe," he could be convinced to bring the show back for a seventh season. The media is now acting like this is news, when in fact it was already a foregone conclusion.

You see, back when The Sopranos was producing its third season, that was supposedly going to be the end of it. There was a small chance that there would be a fourth season if the public demanded it, or if HBO increased the amount it pays the show's producers in rights fees, but it was unlikely. Lo and behold, it was soon announced that there would be a fourth and final season. Later, when it came time to produce the fourth and supposedly final season, the same exact scenario played out with the announcement of a fifth season, which aired in early 2004. That was supposed to be the final season, but surprise, surprise! A sixth season was eventually announced, although by the time it hits the airwaves in 2006, a whopping two years will have passed since the premiere of the previous season, thus stretching the process out even further.

So now with the "sixth and final season" in production, why on earth would anyone be surprised to hear that it won't really be the final season, and that a seventh season will also be coming eventually? I love the actual show of The Sopranos as much as anyone, but this insincere "final season" nonsense has been going on since the second freakin' season and can no longer be considered anything more than an embarrassment to anyone associated with the show. At this rate, The Sopranos' actual final season will be its 15th season, which will air in 2026...

Alias Creator Lets it Slip that Jennifer Garner is Indeed Pregnant
In the, "Oops, I didn't know we were still supposed to be lying about that to the media" department, Alias creator J.J. Abrams has let it slip that Alias star Jennifer Garner is pregnant. When discussing the next season of Alias, Abrams said that Garner's "pregnancy will affect" the filming of the next season, and he jokingly added that every spy Garner portrays "will just be a pregnant person," and, "I'm sure kickboxing scenes are probably out." Abrams said that he would find a way to incorporate Garner's pregnancy into the the show.

There's just one problem. Neither Jennifer Garner, nor her fiance Ben Affleck, have officially confirmed to any media outlet anywhere that she is indeed pregnant. The official PR position is supposed to be that it's still "just a rumor." By confirming Garner's pregnancy in interviews, J.J. Abrams has made himself the first person to acknowledge on-the-record that she is indeed pregnant. Oops!

In any case, Jennifer Garner's pregnancy is probably the least of the Alias producers' worries. Even with mega-hit Lost as its lead-in, Alias' ratings tanked in its most recent season, dropping from the strong 10.0 season premiere rating to as low as 6.3 over the course of the season. And in a move that could end up being suicidal, the show is being moved this fall to Thursdays at 8:00 PM, which will easily be the most competitive timeslot on television with Alias having to compete with Survivor, Joey, Will & Grace, Smallville, and the new Chris Rock sitcom.

Jimmy Kimmel Does Jay Leno Doing Michael Jackson
I think the E News headline says it all. Not only did Jay Leno testify yesterday at Michael Jackson's child molestation trial, but he helped lighten the mood of the trial a little bit by injecting some humor into his testimony. When both sides said, "No further questions" and the judge said, "You may step down," Leno actually leaned into the court microphone and said, "We've got Renee Zellweger on the show tonight!" (By the way, I can't be the only one to have noticed that Zellweger is now completely unable to open her eyes without squinting, thanks to her latest over-the-top cheek implant surgery.)

To top it all off, The E Network had to get someone to portray Leno in its daily Michael Jackson Trial Re-Enactments, and who better to portray Leno than fellow latenight talk show host Jimmy Kimmel? You'd expect the production team to make Kimmel look like Leno, which they did, but the surprising thing is that Kimmel actually did an excellent impersonation of Leno. Kimmel had the Leno impersonation down pat, from the lisp to the changing voice pitch to the bobbing head, in a way that was realistic and not over-the-top.

Shannen Doherty Gets Fired Yet Again
On the final day of the 2004-2005 television season, with such high-profile face-offs as the two-hour season finale of American Idol going head-to-head with the two-hour season finale of Lost, the news came out today that one of this fall's highest-profile new comedies has lost its lead star. Just last week at the annual upfront presentations, one of the comedies with the most hype thrown behind it was UPN's Love, Inc., in which Doherty would play a matchmaker. Now, Doherty has been fired for being "difficult to work with" for what seems like the 354th time.

It's not known if any specific incident sparked Doherty's firing, but it must have been bad for UPN to abruptly terminate her just one week after trotting her out at the upfront presentations and making a big deal out of her new fall series. It has been well documented over the years that Doherty has been notoriously moody and difficult to work with on just about everything she has ever done in Hollywood, including her infamous behavior on the set of "Charmed" that ultimately got her fired from that job as well. So, the news that Doherty has been fired from her new show isn't particularly shocking, but that won't make it any easier for UPN as the network scrambles to find a last-minute replacement to be the star of the series.


Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Convicted murderer Lionel Tate, who viciously stomped and beat a six-year-old girl to death in 1999, is back in prison after allegedly pulling a gun on a pizza delivery man and threatening to shoot if the delivery man didn't hand over the pizza boxes. Tate is also alleged to have assaulted a 13-year-old boy shortly before the armed robbery took place. As you may already be thinking, the biggest question in a case like this is: "Why on earth would a convicted murderer be out on the street in the first place?"

The sick, but true answer is that if you're under 18 years old here in the United States and also in much of the world, you can get away with just about anything. If you want to brutally beat a little girl until she dies from a wide variety of internal injuries, the message that the justice system has sent is: Go right ahead! If you're tried and found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison, "human rights activists" ranging from the ACLU to the United Nations to even the Vatican will cry about how you shouldn't be punished, and how surely nobody under 18 is conscious of or responsible for what they're doing. Never mind about the rights of the six-year-old girl who Tate beat to death; what's important in the eyes of these activists are the rights of the murderer. Eventually, you'll be set free and you will have gotten away with murder.

That's what happened to convicted murderer Lionel Tate after serving three years (three years!) for the murder of Tiffany Eunick, and he has now been arrested for the second time since being let go from prison. Prior to being arrested for armed robbery this week, Tate had also been arrested in late 2004 for carrying a knife late at night on the streets of his neighborhood after he had gotten into an argument with someone, which was a weapons-related violation of his probation that still didn't result in a prison sentence. Now Tate has been charged with armed robbery, as well as assaulting a 13-year-old boy.

Tate is now 18 years old and legally an adult. If Tate had committed armed robbery and assault a few months ago when he was still 17, there would be people crying right now that he's a "victim," and that he should not have to face any kind of significant punishment for armed robbery or any other crime that he commits.

Even now, bleeding-heart fools like Katherine Federle of the "Justice for Children Project" (that's apparently justice for children who commit murder, not children who are murdered) are wailing about "saving Lionel" and "rescuing Lionel." In fact, Federle took it a step further and said that the only reason Tate can't be "rescued" now is because the justice system was too hard on him previously (you know, for making him serve three years in prison instead of no prison time for murdering Tiffany Eunick). I'm all for counseling and psychological treatment in cases like this, but only in the context of the murderer still being behind bars--- not out on the street where he or she could do who-knows-what to anyone at any time.

It's not known what defense Tate's lawyers will use this time around, but it probably won't be, "Pro wrestling made me do it!" Despite the fact that it was only the position of Tate's lawyers for a few months, and it never amounted to anything other than a desperate defense tactic in court, and it was later acknowledged as a fabricated claim, to this day many in the mainstream media still use the term "the pro wrestling murder" whenever Lionel Tate's name is in the news.

You see, the first ridiculously flimsy defense offered by Tate's lawyers after he murdered six-year-old Tiffany Eunick was that he was just imitating pro wrestling. They even wanted to turn the case into a full-fledged circus by calling Hulk Hogan and The Rock to testify (about what, who knows?). After that didn't pass the muster in court, the "pro wrestling defense" was retracted, but not before the murder was forever branded by the media as "the pro wrestling murder."

World Wrestling Entertainment would later sue the fraudulent Parents Television Council (PTC) for, among other things, using the Lionel Tate case as the centerpiece of its anti-WWE campaign, even after Tate's new lawyers admitted that the "pro wrestling defense" had been a fabrication, according to a public apology issued by the PTC. (Click here to read the PTC's full "retraction" statement.)

The second ridiculously flimsy defense offered by Tate's lawyers, and the one that they ultimately stuck with, was that he leaped from a staircase and accidentally landed on Tiffany Eunick, causing her to hit her head, but he didn't mean to hurt her. That defense had no validity and was proven in court to be false by the fact that an autopsy showed Eunick didn't just have head injuries (a fractured skull and a severely swollen brain, to be exact)... she also had a punctured lung, severely bruised kidneys, a broken rib, internal bleeding, cuts and deep bruises all over her body, and a liver area that was beaten so extensively that a piece of her liver had actually become detached during the beating.

Forensic experts testified that Tate may have had to beat on Eunick for over fifteen continuous minutes in order to produce the huge variety and severity of injuries that she suffered. After the jury convicted Tate of first-degree murder, the judge ruled during the trial's sentencing phase that the murder of Tiffany Eunick was particularly "cold, callous, and indescribably cruel."

Tate was sentenced to life in prison, but later set free and put on ten years of probation when it was ruled that because he was under 18 years old, he "couldn't understand" the gravity of the charges against him during his trial. Keep in mind, this is not someone who is mentally handicapped or has a learning disorder or anything like that, nor have his lawyers ever tried to claim anything of the sort... he simply "couldn't understand" the gravity of the charges because he was under 18 years old.

We live in a world now where gangs regularly go out of their way to use juvenile gang members when there's a murder that the gang wants to be carried out, because they know full well that the worst-case scenario is that the under-age murderer might have to go away for a few years. Is that a surprise to anyone, given the example set by cases like the brutal beating death of Tiffany Eunick? If you can get away with maliciously beating a little girl to death just because you're under 18, what can't you get away with?

According to the terms of his probation, which he has now violated for a second time, Lionel Tate is technically supposed to be returned to his former status as someone who is serving a life sentence in prison. That's what should happen according to the rules of his probation and the rules of common sense, but I can't honestly say I expect that to happen. After all, Tate's case is now in the hands of the same system that failed to serve justice for the murder of Tiffany Eunick in the first place.


Sunday, May 22, 2005
Mixed Martial Arts--- UFC Signs a Huge Deal with Spike TV

by Ivan Trembow for MMAWeekly.com

I recently wrote an article called The Future of the UFC on Cable Television, and now that future has been realized. Recently, the announcement came that MMA fans have been waiting years to hear: The UFC has signed a long-term deal to air live fight events on cable television on a regular basis. Not all of the details on the UFC's new deal with Spike TV were included in the press release, so here is the rest of the information that we've been able to obtain. This is essentially a three-component deal, with three different parts that are all complement each other but are still separate.

Component #1: The Reality Series
The first component of the deal is that the hit reality series "The Ultimate Fighter" has not only been renewed for a second season, but also for a third season. The second season's filming is scheduled to begin in June, and the season premiere will be on Monday, August 22nd at 11:05 PM after WWE Raw. That much information was already known. What wasn't known was how WWE's exit from Spike TV would affect UFC programming.

When WWE programming leaves Spike TV and heads back to USA Network in late September, original episodes of The Ultimate Fighter will no longer air on Monday nights and will instead begin to air on Saturday nights. Though the replay schedules for each week's new episode of The Ultimate Fighter have not yet been disclosed, the debut airing of the first five episodes will be on Monday night at 11:05 PM. The next seven episodes of the series will debut in a new Saturday night timeslot that has not been decided, but will likely be 9:00 PM. The 13th and final episode of the second season will air as a live fight special on a Saturday night, just as the first season finale did.

The third season of The Ultimate Fighter will hit the airwaves sometimes in 2006, and it will also have 12 pre-taped episodes and a live season finale with live fights. It is expected to have the same Saturday night timeslot that the second season will eventually settle into, although there remains a small chance that the show could be moved to a different night for its third season.

Component #2: Live Fight Specials on Spike TV
In addition to the reality series and its live season finales, the UFC will also produce live fight specials that will air on Spike TV with original UFC fights. Two live fight specials are scheduled to air on Spike TV before the end of 2005, one of which is expected to be the live season finale of The Ultimate Fighter's second season in early December. The other live fight special of 2005 is tentatively scheduled to be on Saturday, August 20th, in order to promote the season premiere of The Ultimate Fighter two days later.

Four additional live fight specials are scheduled to air on Spike TV in 2006. All of these live fight specials are scheduled to air on Saturday night, although no exact timeslot has been announced.

Component #3: Pre-Taped "Best of UFC" Shows on Spike TV
The deal also calls for the UFC to produce 26 different "Best of UFC" shows, with twelve years of fights dating back to UFC 1 that the UFC can use as material to fill these shows. The wording of the press release left the possibility open that some of the content on these shows might be highlights of past fights, in addition to showing complete fights from the past. A final name for the shows has not yet been decided.

The tentative plan for the Saturday timeslot is to have one of the "Best of UFC" shows air at 8:00 PM, then a new episode of The Ultimate Fighter at 9:00 PM, and then another one of the "Best of UFC" shows at 10:00 PM.

On any given week, one of those two "Best of UFC" shows would be a repeat of a previously aired "Best of UFC" special, while the other one would be a "Best of UFC" special that has not aired before. It has not yet been decided which would air at 8:00 PM and which would air at 10:00 PM, but in any case, each new episode of The Ultimate Fighter would be surrounded by a pair of "Best of UFC" shows.

In addition to all of the UFC programming that will air on Spike TV, Fox Sports Net will continue to air pre-taped "Best of UFC" shows, which have been among the most-watched shows on all of FSN in recent months.

The Saturday Night Factor, and a Look Ahead
Other than the first five episodes of The Ultimate Fighter's second season, all of the programming that the UFC is producing for Spike TV will debut on Saturday night. This has its advantages and its disadvantages. The advantage is that Saturday night is already established in much of the American public's mind as "fight night," with UFC and boxing pay-per-views almost always airing on Saturday nights.

The obvious disadvantage is that on the whole, Saturday night is the least-watched night of television by far every single week. However, the first season finale of The Ultimate Fighter on April 9th was still able to draw a strong 2.6 million viewers, despite this disadvantage, and it was the most-watched show on any channel (broadcast or cable) in the key demographic of 18 to 34 year old males.

It's also interesting to note that Spike TV wanted to have a Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar rematch live on Spike TV on June 4th right before the UFC 53 pay-per-view went on the air, but the UFC didn't want to give away the Griffin-Bonnar rematch on free television due to the belief that Griffin vs. Bonnar II has the potential to draw pay-per-view buys when it happens.

All three components of the deal between the UFC and Spike TV run from now until the end of 2006, at which point the UFC will either A) Get renewed with a huge increase in rights fees in the best-case scenario, B) Get cancelled in the worst-case scenario, or C) Possibly have other cable networks bid on UFC programming if it proves to be successful on Spike TV over the next year and a half. In any case, the sport of mixed martial arts will receive more mainstream exposure in 2005 and 2006 than it has received in every year of the past decade combined.

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Saturday, May 21, 2005
Mixed Martial Arts--- In a previous article, I wrote that due to his 3-5 record in the UFC, Phil Baroni did not deserve to be signed to a new contract in Pride without proving himself on smaller shows like anyone else would be required to do. I also wrote that it showed a lack of class for Baroni to refer to an Asian fighter as "Pork Fried Rice" while doing color commentary on a recent Pride event. In response to my article, the always full-of-class Baroni made a post on the Underground Forum (a popular MMA message board) that simply said, "Yo Ivan Trembow--- You're a [expletive]."

Numerous members of the message board responded to Baroni's post before I saw it, most of them saying that I didn't write anything about Baroni that wasn't true. A few people disagreed with my point that Baroni didn't deserve his new Pride contract, and InsideFighting editor Michael DiSanto disagreed with my assertion that it was wrong for Baroni to refer to an Asian fighter as "Pork Fried Rice." I responded to all of the posts on the topic with the following message:

"I stand by every word I wrote about Phil Baroni. I didn't say anything outlandish or outrageous in the article, and I'm not going to get into a name-calling session. The fact of the matter is that Phil Baroni has lost his last four UFC fights, and his UFC record is 3-5, which I think is a worse win percentage than Tank Abbott. Based on that, even with his promo-cutting ability, I didn't believe and still don't believe all of that warrants a new contract in Pride. I have nothing against him personally, but I certainly don't believe Pride should be in the business of signing up fighters with losing UFC records. If Baroni beats Minowa and that ends up being the beginning of when Baroni got his MMA career back on track, then hey, more power to him.

Also, I respect Michael DiSanto as a journalist but I disagree with him in this particular case. Michael wrote, 'Pride is a Japanese organization and Yoon Dong Sik is Korean, not Japanese. They're not the same nationality, and it wasn't on the Japanese broadcast. It's like Lee Murray (England) insulting a guy from Ireland and claiming all Europeans would be offended. You can't group them together as European. Americans may group all Asians together, but I'm quite sure all countries in Asia don't see themselves as one group.'

In response to what Michael wrote: Some Americans may group all Asians together... really, you think? Do you think that might be how an American fighter on a Japanese fighting event would end up using the name of a Chinese food dish to refer to a Korean fighter? I think you just made my point for me. Everyone is going to have a different reaction to someone making a comment like that, as far as whether they're offended or not. I don't think Baroni is racist and he seemed to legitimately be having trouble pronouncing Yoon Dong Sik's name and just ad-libbed. Nonetheless, the fact remains that it was the complete opposite of showing class, which is what I wrote in the article. Again, I stand by everything I wrote."

After I made that post, one of a vocal and ignorant minority of MMA message board visitors asked the question they always ask, which was, "Would you stand by your article to Phil Baroni's face?" In response to that all-too-common question, I made my final post on the subject with the following message:

"First of all, the answer is yes, and second of all, that is a ridiculous question and I always find it funny when I see people saying things like that on MMA message boards. As a journalist, it's my job to ask the tough questions and to criticize people where I feel criticism is due. If I didn't do that, I wouldn't be doing my job.

It makes MMA look so bad when you've got all these other professions with their own specialized press and nobody ever asks, 'I wonder if he'd say that to the Yahoo CEO's face, or if he would be afraid that he'd get punched out!' and yet people constantly say, 'I wonder if he'd say that to the MMA fighter's face, or if he would be afraid that he'd get punched out!' Sure, mixed martial artists fight for a living, but I think MMA fighters are professional enough that they're not savages who start swinging if you ask a question they don't like.

Some people on message boards need to get past the elementary-school logic of, 'Person A could beat up Person B, therefore Person B's opinions are invalid.' I think it's insulting to the sport of MMA for people to have that attitude."

Moving on from the Phil Baroni topic, tonight is the HBO replay of Winky Wright vs. Felix Trinidad, otherwise known as, "Wright Imposes His Will and Dominates for Twelve Rounds." Also on tonight's broadcast will be a live fight between Andrew Golota and Lamon Brewster. Hopefully Golota and Brewster will deliver an exciting fight, which the heavyweight division desperately needs after recent events. The most boring fighter in the world, John Ruiz, finally lost his WBA Heavyweight Title and decided to retire... but then the fighter who beat him, James Toney, tested positive for steroids, prompting Ruiz to decide to come out of retirement and re-claim his belt.

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Friday, May 20, 2005
Television--- With all of the TV network's fall schedules having been officially unveiled, the top questions have now become, "Which of the cancelled series have episodes that never aired, which shows are going to be burned off this summer, which shows are never going to see the light of the day again, and which shows are returning this summer?" This post will answer all of those questions on a network-by-network basis.

-The Bachelorette is one of the few series whose status has legitimately not been decided yet. ABC said at its upfront presentation earlier this week that it believes the reason for The Bachelor's slipping ratings is that the show is over-exposed with three cycles of the show in any given TV season. In an attempt to revitalize the struggling franchise, ABC will be cutting back to a "one or two cycles per year" format. ABC's decision on The Bachelorette's future will likely depend on how The Bachelor fares in the ratings when it returns to the schedule in January 2006.

If The Bachelor's ratings go back up to where they used to be, ABC could order new seasons of both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. If The Bachelor still draws low ratings even with the "freshness" of only one cycle per year, it's likely that ABC would cancel both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. It hasn't helped the long-term viewership of either show that 90% of the couples who "end up together" at the end of each season actually break up shortly thereafter.

-It was considered so likely that the little-watched sitcom Jake in Progress would be cancelled by ABC that the series' star, John Stamos, was already in negotiations to join the cast of NBC's ER next season as a doctor. Those plans are off now that Jake in Progress has gotten a surprising renewal.

-Blind Justice was cancelled with eleven of its thirteen episodes having aired, and ABC does plan to air the remaining two episodes. Those episodes will air in the Tuesdays at 10:00 PM timeslot on May 31 and June 7, before the show leaves the airwaves for good.

-The non-home edition of Extreme Makeover has one previously unaired episode, which ABC plans to air on Thursday, June 30 at 9:00 PM. ABC would not rule out the possibility of bringing the show back from time to time as a special, but it definitely won't be airing as a regular series anymore.

-Extreme Makeover: Home Edition: How'd They Do That? is scheduled to air the final episode of its fifteen-episode order this coming Monday, May 23. The American public seems to be very interested in seeing home makeovers, as evidenced by the monster ratings for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, but the public did not seem to be interested in seeing the answer to the question, "How'd They Do That?"

-Four episodes of the cancelled ABC comedy Complete Savages have never aired, and ABC plans to air those episodes in the Fridays at 8:30 PM timeslot starting next Friday, May 27.

-The freshman drama Eyes was put on hiatus before May sweeps began, with only five of the show's thirteen episodes ever having aired. ABC may or may not burn off the series' eight remaining episodes over the summer.

-ABC's failed teen drama Life As We Know was put on hiatus way back in January, with two of its episodes having never aired. Those two episodes are unlikely to ever air on ABC, but the complete series will be released in DVD form on August 23 for the approximately four people who were fans of the show...

-ABC only aired five of the six episodes that were produced for Life of Luxury's second season, and there are no plans to broadcast the remaining episode.

-A second season of The Biggest Loser is listed on the NBC fall schedule that was released this week, but the show is actually scheduled as a summer series that runs into the fall. The season premiere is scheduled for August 9, and the season finale is scheduled for late September or early October. The Biggest Loser will be airing in the Tuesdays at 8:00 PM timeslot, and it's rumored that once the show's season is over in that timeslot, Fear Factor could take its place on the schedule. As of right now, there is no officially scheduled return date for Fear Factor; it is simply listed as a "midseason replacement show" on NBC's schedule.

-The reality series Average Joe is returning to NBC's line-up, but only as a summer series and only with a six-episode season. The season premiere is scheduled for Tuesday, June 28 at 8:00 PM.

-Thirteen episodes of Law & Order: Trial by Jury were produced, but NBC decided to make the 12th episode the season finale. This decision was apparently made because the 13th episode had a cliffhanger ending that would make viewers want to tune in next season, and since there isn't going to be a next season for this series, NBC decided not to air the episode at all.

-Revelations was planned as a six-part mini-series on NBC, not a regular series. All six episodes of the show aired, and NBC has no plans to turn it into a regular series.

-The failed Heather Locklear drama LAX has been cancelled by NBC, but the show did air all thirteen of its episodes before it was pulled from the schedule.

-NBC pulled the freshman drama Hawaii from the schedule last October with seven of the series' eight episodes having aired. There are no plans to air the last remaining episode.

-NBC aired eleven original episodes of the animated comedy Father of the Pride before pulling the show from the schedule last December due to very poor ratings. The remaining two unaired episodes of the series are very unlikely to ever see the light of day.

-After ordering a dozen new series in each of the last several summers, Fox is only going to be debuting four new series this summer, as it places more of an emphasis on a traditional fall line-up instead of a "year-round schedule." The Inside is a new drama that will be airing in the Wednesdays at 9:00 PM timeslot starting on June 8, and the other three debuting series for Fox this summer are all reality series. To briefly run down those shows, Hell's Kitchen will air in the Mondays at 9:00 PM timeslot starting on May 30, So You Think You Can Dance will air in the Wednesdays at 8:00 PM timeslot starting on July 20, and the Princes of Malibu (which only has a six-episode order) will be airing in the Sundays at 8:30 PM timeslot starting on July 10. Fox has scheduled all of its new reality series for the summer and has zero new reality series on its fall schedule.

-Renovate My Family will be returning to the Fox line-up as a summer series in the Thursdays at 9:00 PM timeslot starting on June 30.

-Five episodes of the Fox flop Jonny Zero remain unaired, but it was considered shocking that Fox kept airing the series for as long as it did (eight weeks), so the five unaired episodes are unlikely to ever see the light of day.

-Only eight of Point Pleasant's thirteen episodes ever aired, but it's considered unlikely that the other five episodes will ever air.

-Fox pulled Tru Calling from the schedule just one week before its scheduled series finale, leaving that final episode just floating out there in space. That could very well have been done intentionally to drum up DVD sales for the second season of the show. There is no scheduled release date at this point for the second season on DVD, but you better believe it's coming at some point.

-The controversial Fox reality series, "Who's Your Daddy?" was actually a regular series with six episodes produced, not a one-time special. It was just turned into a special and quickly cancelled because of the outrage over how tasteless it was, and also the fact that the one episode that did air wasn't able to draw a decent rating. With Fox pushing at the upfront presentations that all of its reality shows are going to be "advertiser-friendly," this is exactly the kind of trashy reality show that Fox is trying to avoid in the future. As a result, the chances are almost zero that the five remaining episodes of "Who's Your Daddy?" will ever air.

-Kelsey Grammer's The Sketch Show got a six-episode order from Fox, but only four episodes aired before Fox cancelled the show. The remaining two episodes are unlikely to ever be aired.

-Only five of Life on a Stick's thirteen episodes ever aired. The plan as recently as a few weeks ago was for the eight remaining episodes to be burned off in the Wednesdays at 8:30 PM timeslot starting on June 1, but now it appears that Fox has decided to simply air an extra half-hour of That 70's Show repeats in that timeslot over the summer. There are currently no plans to air the eight remaining episodes of Life on a Stick, but that could change between now and the end of the summer.

-Sixteen episodes of the failed reality show My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss were ordered and produced, but only eleven of them aired. The other five episodes will never be aired, but Fox did make those episodes available for download on its web site.

UPN and The WB
-All of UPN's cancelled series had all of their episodes aired before they were pulled from the schedule.

-Five episodes of the cancelled WB series Summerland remain unaired, and The WB plans to air those episodes in the Tuesdays at 9:00 PM timeslot starting on June 7.

-Drew Carey's first foray into network television since the cancellation of ABC's The Drew Carey Show did not go well. The WB ordered thirteen episodes of his new series, Drew Carey's Green Screen, but only five episodes aired before the show was pulled from the schedule. There are currently no plans to air the remaining eight episodes, but The WB could certainly burn them off over the summer if they wanted to fill some space.

-Seven episodes of the reality show The Will were produced for CBS, each of them one hour long, but the network decided at the last minute to have the first two episodes re-edited into a 90-minute season premiere. That 90-minute season premiere did so horribly in the ratings that CBS amazingly cancelled the series after just one episode. There are no plans to air the other five hours of the show.

-Center of the Universe, the freshman comedy starring John Goodman, was pulled ten episodes into its fifteen-episode run and was later officially cancelled, despite the fact that it was drawing decent ratings. There are currently no plans to air the remaining five episodes.

-One of the biggest flops of the season was the CBS drama Clubhouse. After getting hyped up by CBS at last year's upfront presentation, the show ended up getting pulled from the airwaves after only five episodes, and there are no plans to air the other six episodes that were produced. This fall's version of Clubhouse could very well be Ghost Whisperers starring Jennifer Love Hewitt.

-Another flop for CBS was the Rob Lowe drama Dr. Vegas, which was also pulled after five episodes. There is very little chance that the show's five unaired episodes will ever be broadcast.

-Another Viacom-owned network, Comedy Central, recently placed the "post-South Park timeslot" show Con on hiatus after six of its eight original episodes had aired. There is no word on when or if the remaining two episodes will air, but repeats of the show are continuing to air in latenight timeslots. This past week, Comedy Central plugged a repeat of Drawn Together into the Wednesdays at 10:30 PM timeslot where Con would normally air.

-The 2004-2005 TV season officially ends this coming Wednesday (May 25), so at some point after that I will have a "Season in Review and Look Ahead to Next Season" for each of the six broadcast networks.


Thursday, May 19, 2005
Television--- The television industry's annual "Upfront Week" came to a close earlier today with Fox and UPN unveiling their fall schedules. Ivan's Blog has been covering the network's upfront presentations all week, with coverage of the presentations from CBS, ABC, NBC, and The WB on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

-With less than a week to go in the 2004-2005 television season, Fox is on the verge of picking up its first ever #1 finish in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49 year-old demographic. As a result, Fox announced a more traditional line-up at its upfront presentation earlier today, with a lot of comedies and dramas on the line-up and not a single new reality series on the fall schedule.

-Fox will not be waiting until after the baseball season to launch its new fall line-up, as it has done in past years. Instead, many shows will have their premieres in late August or early September. The baseball playoffs will then dominate the Fox schedule as always in October, and then the schedule will pick up right where it left off in November.

-Fox has officially cancelled Quintuplets, The Sketch Show, Life on a Stick, North Shore, Point Pleasant, Tru Calling, The Swan, The World's Craziest Videos, and Totally Outrageous Behavior.

-What's more surprising than the list of cancelled shows is the list of shows that were not cancelled, most notably The Bernie Mac Show. Bernie Mac has been renewed despite horrible ratings and will continue to air Friday nights at 8:00 PM. Part of Fox's decision to renew Bernie Mac may be rooted in the fact that the show was a favorite of former network president Gail Berman, who left the company two months ago. New president Peter Liguori, who was just brought over from FX, may not have wanted to shake things up too much or alienate employees who were close to Berman.

-As recently as a week ago, the rumors about Arrested Development were that even if Fox did renew the show, it would only order 13 episodes or it would bring the show back with a reduced cast. As it turns out, Fox has renewed the show for a full season of 22 episodes and will be keeping the same big cast, but it will be moving the show to the Mondays at 8:00 PM timeslot, where it will serve as the lead-in for the new comedy Kitchen Confidential. Kitchen Confidential is not to be confused with another Fox series, Hell's Kitchen, which is a new reality series that will be airing on Fox over the summer.

-Family Guy and American Dad have both been renewed for an additional season beyond the ones that they just started airing on May 1. So, Family Guy will finish its current season of 22 episodes over the summer and then return in the fall as a regular series, while American Dad will finish its current season of 19 episodes over the summer and then return in the fall as a regular series.

-The critically acclaimed drama 24 has been renewed for two new seasons after a brief dispute over licensing fees between Fox and the show's producers was resolved (but not before NBC tried to take advantage of the situation and sign the show away from Fox). Fox will continue with the strategy that worked so well for 24 this year, as it will hold off the season premiere until January so that the show can air its entire season with no pre-emptions or repeats from January through May.

-The old stand-bys of Fox's schedule will not be changing, as Cops and America's Most Wanted will continue to air on Saturday nights, and American Idol will still air on Tuesday nights at 8:00 PM and Wednesday nights at 9:00 PM starting in January.

-The highly coveted post-American Idol timeslot, which made a star out of House this past season, will be going to the new drama Bones this season. Bones will actually start airing in the fall in the Tuesdays at 8:00 PM timeslot, but once American Idol takes over that timeslot again in January 2006, Bones will be moved back an hour to 9:00 PM on Tuesdays.

-House has been renewed for a full season and will air on Tuesdays at 9:00 PM this fall, but then in January 2006 it will move to Mondays at 8:00 PM.

-Malcolm in the Middle was renewed for another season despite bad ratings this past season, thanks largely to all of its critical acclaim. However, the show is getting moved to the not-so-friendly timeslot of Fridays at 8:30 PM. Given that it has been many, many years since Fox has had a hit show on Friday night, this could end up being Malcolm's final season.

-A rotation of various animated show repeats will air in the Sundays at 7:00 PM timeslot. King of the Hill drew horrible ratings in that timeslot this past season, but was renewed anyway and will now be moved to Sundays at 7:30 PM. Due to King of the Hill's struggling ratings, it is considered very likely that this will be the show's last season.

-The post-Simpsons timeslot of Sundays at 8:30 PM, which has not really produced a ratings hit in several years, will be going to the new live-action (as in not animated) comedy, The War at Home.

-The OC will continue to air on Thursday nights at 8:00 PM in what will soon be the most competitive timeslot on all of television. Fox has failed horribly with three different shows in the post-OC timeslot, mainly because CSI airs from 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM and crushes everything in the ratings. Fox will try again this fall in the post-OC timeslot with the ambitious new drama Reunion, which chronicles the lives of six friends over a 20-year period, with each episode covering one year of their lives.

-That 70's Show has been renewed despite the fact that it no longer draws good ratings. It will continue to air on Wednesday nights at 8:00 PM this fall in what is officially scheduled to be the show's final season.

-The Pamela Anderson comedy Stacked was renewed despite mediocre ratings and horrible reviews. It will air on Wednesday nights at 8:30 PM, without the benefit of American Idol as a lead-in.

-Reality shows Nanny 911 and Trading Spouses have both been renewed, but are not on the fall schedule. Instead, both shows will be used as midseason replacement shows when some of the new fall series inevitably fail.

-Fox announced that The Simple Life will be returning for a fourth season despite the fact that ratings were down significantly in its third season. However, the show is not on the fall schedule and it's not known exactly when it will return. What is known is that Nicole Richie will not be back for the fourth season due to a personal falling out between Richie and her co-star Paris Hilton (the most specific thing Hilton has said about the reason for the falling out is, "Nicole knows what she did"). Fox has not officially announced a replacement for Richie on the show, but it's rumored to be Rod Stewart's daughter, Kimberly, who meets the description of "physically attractive and mentally dense" that is required for the role.

-In addition to the previously announced cancellation of Star Trek Enterprise, UPN has also cancelled Kevin Hill, Second Time Around, and The Road to Stardom.

-Veronica Mars and Kevin Hill both had a decent amount of critical acclaim, and both also had very low ratings. As part of its new female-focused strategy, UPN chose to renew Veronica Mars while cancelling Kevin Hill.

-UPN is going after the female audience and is willing to risk alienating male viewers as a result, with the new slogan for this fall, "Where the Girls Are."

-In a move that caught everyone by surprising (including WWE), UPN is demoting WWE Smackdown from Thursdays to Fridays. For many years, Smackdown was the #1 show on UPN, and its high ratings actually kept UPN in business at a time when it was on the verge of being shut down by Viacom. Smackdown is currently the #2 highest-rated show on UPN, second only to America's Next Top Model, which is what makes it so shocking that UPN would move the show to the wasteland of Friday night, which has traditionally been a throwaway movie night for the network. Smackdown is expected to continue airing on Thursday nights until the new season starts this fall, at which point it will move to Fridays.

-UPN spent a large percentage of its upfront presentation hyping up Everybody Hates Chris, a new comedy produced and narrated by Chris Rock, which will air on Thursday nights at 8:00 PM. UPN made a lot of bold statements about the show, saying that it will be a break-out hit for UPN like The Simpsons was for Fox and Survivor was for CBS, and saying that it will be this generation's Cosby Show. The president of UPN even took a verbal shot at NBC's Joey by saying that hopefully Everybody Hates Chris will fill TV's comedy void in the Thursdays at 8:00 PM timeslot.

-Everybody Hates Chris will be the start of a four-show comedy block on UPN's Thursday night line-up. Following the 8:00 PM timeslot of Everybody Hates Chris will be Eve at 8:30 PM (which is moving over from Tuesday nights), Cuts at 9:00 PM (which is moving over from Monday nights), and Love, Inc. at 9:30 PM (which is a new comedy starring Shannen Doherty as a matchmaker, and we all know how well matchmaker comedies do).

-America's Next Top Model will actually be broadcast two nights per week, with new episodes premiering on Wednesday nights at 8:00 PM and then replaying the following Tuesday at 8:00 PM.

-UPN will try to use America's Next Top Model to create two new hits. The Top Model repeats on Tuesday nights will lead into the new drama Sex, Lies, and Secrets starring Denise Richards. The new episodes of Top Model on Wednesday nights will lead into Veronica Mars on its new night and time. The timeslot right after Top Model is considered the best timeslot on UPN, so the ratings expectations will be much higher for Veronica Mars next season. Unfortunately for UPN, putting Veronica Mars in the Wednesdays at 9:00 PM timeslot means that it will be going head-to-head with ABC's smash hit Lost.

-UPN's all-comedy Monday line-up will stay largely intact with One on One at 8:00 PM, Girlfriends an hour later at 9:00 PM, and Half & Half at 9:30 PM. To fill the Mondays at 8:30 PM timeslot, All of Us will be moving over from Tuesday nights. All of Us was expected to be cancelled as recently as yesterday, but it got a last-minute renewal from UPN.

-I'll be back tomorrow evening with a rundown of which shows are scheduled to return this summer, which cancelled shows are scheduled to be burned off this summer, and which cancelled shows have unaired episodes that will probably never see the light of day.


Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Television--- It was CBS' turn earlier today to make its annual upfront presentation to advertisers, as dozens of TV shows were either renewed or cancelled. NBC, ABC, and The WB have already made their upfront presentations, as detailed in my coverage of the events on Monday and Tuesday.

-CBS had one of its best TV seasons in recent memory, and unlike ABC with its massive schedule changes for this fall, CBS is not going to try to fix something that isn't broken. There were plenty of changes to the schedule announced, but not the kind of drastic changes announced by the resurgent ABC or the struggling NBC. As the TV network with the highest ratings on all of television, CBS has less areas that it needs to change or improve, but it also has a lower tolerance for low ratings and will not hesitate to cancel a show if it's not meeting the network's expectations.

-The biggest news from CBS is that after six and a half years on the air, 60 Minutes Wednesday has been cancelled, not coincidentally in its first renewal cycle after the Dan Rather "Memo-Gate" scandal during last year's election season. CBS president Les Moonves said that it was a ratings decision and not a content decision to cancel the show, but that's ignoring the fact that the show's ratings started to fall off after the Memo-Gate scandal. New episodes of 60 Minutes Wednesday are expected to continue airing through the end of the summer. Dan Rather will get to save face by appearing as a correspondent on 60 Minutes Sunday, although Moonves did say that Rather will not be given "co-editor" status, as other 60 Minutes correspondents are given. Rather's contract with CBS expires in 2006, at which point he will either renew his contract or leave the network entirely.

-As reported yesterday on Ivan's Blog, it was looking more and more likely that Listen Up, Judging Amy, and Joan of Arcadia would all get cancelled, and that's exactly what happened. The most surprising of these cancellations has to be Judging Amy, because nobody in the TV industry would have believed you a few months ago if you told them that Judging Amy would get cancelled. In its sixth season, the show was drawing very good ratings even by CBS' high standards, but its ratings weren't as impressive in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49 year-old demographic, and that is very likely what led to the show's demise.

-Joan of Arcadia's cancellation was expected, and the term "from buzz to bust" has been used to describe the show a lot in recent days. The show did well in its first season, but fell off dramatically in its second season and will not be returning for a third.

-Listen Up, a comedy based on the life of Pardon the Interruption co-host and Washington Post columnist Tony Kornheiser, was also cancelled in a close call that could have gone either way. The show's ratings started off as a moderate hit by CBS ratings standards before eventually slipping to being a mild disappointment by CBS ratings standards, and CBS doesn't have to tolerate mild disappointments with as many hit shows as it has. It's worth noting that the "mildly disappointing" ratings in the 6.5 range that Listen Up was drawing towards the end of its run would be considered a hit on any other network on television, but not on CBS.

-Wickedly Perfect will not be brought back for a second season, and it was considered merciful and highly unusual for CBS to let the show play out its entire ten-episode first season given its horrible ratings. It was demoted to Saturday nights, but normally if a show draws ratings this bad, it gets yanked immediately. As an example, the reality show The Will produced extremely low ratings for CBS on a Saturday night ONE TIME earlier this season and was never seen or heard from again.

-Center of the Universe, the freshman comedy starring John Goodman, will not be returning for a second season. The show was put on hiatus way back in January and has now been officially cancelled, despite the fact that it was drawing decent ratings. Five episodes of the series remain unaired, and it remains possible that CBS could air those five episodes sometime this summer.

-The newsmagazine 48 Hours Mystery has been renewed by CBS despite fairly low ratings, but it airs on Saturday night and it has much lower ratings standards to meet as a result. Also, with the cancellation of 60 Minutes Wednesday, CBS didn't want to cancel two of its three newsmagazines in one fell swoop. Starting this fall, CBS, ABC, and NBC will all have two hours of newsmagazines on the schedule per week (CBS with 60 Minutes Sunday and 48 Hours Mystery, ABC with Primetime Live and 20/20, and NBC with Dateline Friday and Dateline Sunday).

-CSI New York could have easily been moved to a less competitive, but CBS is not backing down an inch from going after the original Law & Order franchise in the Wednesdays at 10:00 PM timeslot. CSI New York is the only CSI franchise that doesn't automatically crush everything in its path in the ratings, but it's still a huge step for it to challenge Law & Order in the ratings the way it has in just its first season. Repeats of CSI New York will start airing on Spike TV in September.

-CBS is also not backing down from the new threat it has faced in the Sundays at 8:00 PM timeslot from ABC's breakout hit Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, as CBS' own hit show Cold Case will continue to air in that timeslot rather than being moved to a different night or time.

-As previously reported, the huge hit comedy Two and a Half Men will indeed inherit the Mondays at 9:00 PM timeslot left behind by Everybody Loves Raymond.

-King of Queens and Still Standing have both been renewed and will be swapping nights. After two years on Wednesday nights with mixed results in the ratings, King of Queens will be returning to its old Mondays at 8:00 PM timeslot. Still Standing, which has been in the Mondays at 8:00 PM timeslot for the past two seasons, will be moved to Wednesdays at 8:00 PM.

-Yes Dear was relegated to being "just a midseason replacement show" this past season and was considered likely to be cancelled, but its ratings upon returning to the schedule were higher than CBS expected, thus earning the show a renewal for another season. Yes Dear will air this fall on Wednesday nights at 8:30 PM, thus reuniting the show with its old lead-in, Still Standing.

-NCIS and The Amazing Race have both been renewed and will continue to air on Tuesday nights at 8:00 PM and 9:00 PM, respectively. The NCIS renewal is mildly surprising given the fact that while the show draws strong overall ratings, it has never done well in the 18-to-49 year old demographic, which is what got Judging Amy cancelled.

-The highest-profile new series on CBS' fall schedule is Ghost Whisperers, which will air on Friday nights at 8:00 PM. The show is very similar to NBC's Medium in concept, only with Jennifer Love Hewitt as the star. So the show is basically being pitched by CBS as, "Jennifer Love Hewitt's breast implants communicate with the dead..."

-The freshman drama Numbers has been renewed, despite a big drop-off from its initial ratings to where its ratings ended up, and it will stay in the Fridays at 10:00 PM timeslot.

-The ridiculous over-exposure of Survivor will continue this fall in the Thursdays at 8:00 PM timeslot with Survivor: Guatemala, which seems like the 751st season of show.

-The highest-rated two-hour block of programming from any single TV network will remain intact, as CSI and Without a Trace will continue to air on Thursday nights from 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM.

-Big Brother is returning for another season, but only as a summer series at this point. The new season of the show will premiere on July 7, and CBS will then decide whether or not to pick up the series for any additional seasons based on its ratings performance this summer.

-I'll be back with a report tomorrow evening from the final day of upfront presentations, with Fox and UPN set to unveil their fall schedules.


Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Video Games--- At the official unveiling of the Nintendo Revolution video game console earlier today in Los Angeles, Nintendo confirmed what most industry insiders have known for the past five years: Nintendo is not interested in competing on the same level as Sony and Microsoft. Nintendo is simply interested in releasing new systems that appeal to its core demographic (eight-to-thirteen year-old males), and that it can sell cheaply as the "budget brand" while still making the company a tidy profit.

Before I get into what Nintendo did reveal at E3 regarding its next game console, let's get into what the company didn't reveal. There is no release date window other than "2006," which is believed to be Nintendo's way of saying "mid-to-late 2006." There is no price other than "cheaper than the other two systems," which is a given for reasons explained later in this article. There was no controller shown, no technical specs, no games other than tech demos. The Revolution is clearly nowhere near as far along in development as the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, as Nintendo is operating in its own little world. Nintendo spent more time at its press conference talking about yet another re-release of the Game Boy Advance (another new look on the outside, same exact technology on the inside) than it did talking about the Revolution.

Hardware Power
In many ways, it's still the case that Nintendo simply doesn't get it, and never was this more evident than at the company's E3 press conference earlier today. The most glaring example of this fact is how remarkably underpowered the Revolution will be. As I wrote yesterday when comparing the Xbox 360 with the PlayStation 3, if you're going to release a video game console six months or a year after your competitors, you'd better make damn sure that it's significantly more powerful than the previously released systems.

In its own little world, detached from marketplace realities, Nintendo is simply thumbing its nose at this accepted reality of the video game industry. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 will be anywhere from ten to thirty-five times more powerful than their predecessors--- it's hard to pinpoint an exact figure, but it's clear they will both be giant leaps over the original Xbox and PS2.

On the other hand, Nintendo has come right out and said that the Revolution will only be "two or three" times more powerful than the GameCube, which was an underpowered system in its own right With its nose in the air, Nintendo actually said at the press conference, "It's not all about having the turbo power, it's what you do with it." While that statement is true, it also completely misses the common-sense point, which is that your competitors are going to be able to do a heck of a lot more with their systems if they're in a completely different (and higher) technological ballpark.

DVD Movie Playback
So, on the proverbial list of ways in which Nintendo simply doesn't get it, number one is the fact that the Nintendo Revolution will be ridiculously under-powered. Number two is not a huge deal in and of itself, but it serves an example of how out of touch with reality Nintendo is. The Revolution will be able to play DVD movies... if and only if you buy an optional add-on that Nintendo described as "an internal attachment." That's right, the Revolution will be released SIX years after the PlayStation 2 hit the market and offered DVD movie playback right out of the box, but it still won't offer DVD movie playback out of the box. There's no justification for that. In 2006, that's just silly.

Hardware and Controller Design
Another disappointment is the hardware design of the Nintendo Revolution. Again, not a huge deal in and of itself, but it's just another example of how Nintendo simply doesn't get it. The Revolution system (picture available here) is literally the size of three DVD movie cases stacked together, and the person's hand in the picture is almost as big as the system. The Nintendo Revolution looks more like a cable modem or a carrying case than a video game system.

The system's controller was not shown at E3, but it's heavily rumored to use the same kind of touch-screen as the Nintendo DS handheld system. Having a touch-screen is a gimmick that's amusing for about five minutes on a handheld system... it's not something you want on your next-generation video game console.

Third-Party Support
Nintendo was keen to point out at its press conference that it will be easy for developers to make Revolution games, and I would certainly hope so given that it's almost a current-generation system being released in the next-generation marketplace. While Nintendo announced that every first-party franchise you'd expect will eventually be released on the Revolution (Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Super Smash Bros), E3 is also an occasion where you're supposed to show up with a boat-load of third-party support and say, "Look at the huge amount of developers who are making games for our system!" Sony and Microsoft did that yesterday, but there was no specific third-party support for the Revolution mentioned in Nintendo's press conference. That doesn't mean that the Revolution won't have third-party support, but it does likely mean that it won't have as much third-party support as its competition, which was also the case with the GameCube and Nintendo 64.

On the (Sort of) Bright Side
On the bright side, the feature that sounds the coolest on the surface is the ability to download old NES and SNES games to play on the Revolution for an undisclosed fee. That's a great feature, but do you really want your new system's most impressive feature to be the fact that it lets you download games from your company's "glory days," before the company became an industry joke? The Nintendo Revolution will also be backwards-compatible with the Nintendo GameCube software library (such as it is...), and it will finally support online gameplay in some form, though Nintendo has still offered no specifics when it comes to a centralized online gaming service for the Revolution.

Nintendo is even further behind than Sony when it comes to a centralized online gameplay network, and if you want to know what Nintendo's core beliefs are when it comes to online gameplay, you can look at years' worth of quotes just like this one. This quote is from Nintendo head Satoru Iwata at the Japan Economic Foundation just last year: "Connection procedures to the Internet are still not easy... customers do not want online games." Iwata then said he could "prove his point" by comparing the sales of an online golf game for the PlayStation 2 to the sales of an offline golf game.

That kind of thinking serves as yet another example of the fact that Nintendo is years behind both Sony and Microsoft when it comes to understanding the video game industry that it once dominated. So far, there has been no indication that the Nintendo Revolution will be a departure from this trend.


Television--- As detailed in yesterday's live updates from the television industry's annual upfront presentations, this is the week of the year in which all of the TV networks reveal their fall line-ups and drop the axe on numerous cancelled shows.

Yesterday, the NBC line-up was officially revealed, along with some surprising cancellations, and today it's time for ABC and The WB to give their upfront presenations. CBS is scheduled to make its presentation tomorrow, followed by Fox and UPN on Thursday.

First Post at 5:04 PM:
-As previously reported on Ivan's Blog, ABC has indeed cancelled Eight Simple Rules and My Wife & Kids, making it official that the two veteran comedies will not be returning despite still delivering decent ratings...

-Less Than Perfect has been renewed by ABC despite fairly low ratings, but it will serve as a midseason replacement show and is not on the fall schedule...

-The Bachelor has been renewed by ABC despite slipping ratings, and it will air on Monday nights starting in January 2006 after Monday Night Football's season is over...

-The status of The Bachelorette is still very much up the air after the most recent season failed to peak in the ratings as it normally does, and the series may or may not return at some point as a midseason replacement show...

-As previously announced, this upcoming season of Monday Night Football will be the last season for the show on ABC, as starting in the fall of 2006, the series will air on ESPN... despite high ratings, the series was a big money-loser for ABC due to high rights fees and advertising rates that are lower than what you'd expect...

UPDATE at 5:25 PM:
-ABC officially confirms that it is renewing the little-watched comedy Jake in Progress, some of the show's stars had actually starting the casting process for the next season of pilot series, which is normally an indication that a show is a sure goner... the show will air on Mondays at 9:30 PM starting in January 2006 when the Monday Night Football season ends...

-ABC renews its smash hit Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and keeps it in the same Sundays at 8:00 PM timeslot, but cancels the show's two poorly-rated cousins... Extreme Makeover: Home Edition: How'd They Do That? has been given the axe because the American public apparently wasn't all that interested in seeing "how they did that," while the original Extreme Makeover is also cancelled, as for whatever reason the public has been far more receptive to seeing homes get makeovers than seeing people get makeovers...

-The previously rumored cancellations of Eyes, Complete Savages, and Blind Justice have been officially confirmed by ABC...

-The WB will have to find a new co-star for its midseason comedy Modern Men, as Wendie Malick of Just Shoot Me fame had been cast in the lead female role with the expectation that Jake in Progress was dead in the water... with Jake in Progress renewed and Malick still obligated to appear in her role on that show, WB is now scrambling to find a last-minute replacement to play Malick's role in Modern Men...

UPDATE at 5:41 PM:
-Much of the talk of the TV industry has been Fox's announcement that it has renewed Arrested Development for a full third season of 22 episodes, as the new president of Fox TV is getting major kudos for sticking with a critically acclaimed show despite its low ratings, what's not known is whether the series will keep its Sunday night timeslot or get bumped to a different night...

-The hot rumor about Fox's Thursday presentation is that the network will announce that it has reached a renewal agreement for not one, but two new seasons of the crtitically acclaimed series 24, this comes amid talk that NBC had been trying to steal 24 from Fox during a licensing dispute between Fox and 24's producers...

-Word is finally starting to leak out from CBS about what will and won't be renewed, as it appears likely that Still Standing, Yes Dear, and Numbers will be renewed...

-Listen Up and Judging Amy are on the bubble and may or may not be renewed despite the fact that both shows draw fairly high ratings...

-It's looking more and more likely that Joan of Arcadia will get the axe from CBS, as the show's ratings have tanked in the past year and CBS does not normally tolerate sharp ratings decreases...

UPDATE at 5:59 PM:
-The big news from ABC is that almost every show in the line-up is getting a new night or time, including Lost, Alias, Boston Legal, George Lopez, Super Nanny, Wife Swap, The Bachelor, and According to Jim... many of the changes seem nice individually, but the question remains whether viewers will be confused by the fact that the vast majority of shows on the network have a new night or time, with Sunday being the only unchanged night...

-Other than the Sunday night line-up and newsmagazines 20/20 and Primetime Live, there is only one show on the entire ABC line-up that will be back next year on the same exact night and time, and that is Hope & Faith in the Fridays at 9:00 PM timeslot...

-Lost will stay on Wednesdays but will be moved from 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM, which ABC hopes will push the show's already huge ratings over the top even more, but it's also a very big risk because the second half of the season will be going head to head with the Wednesday American Idol shows...

-Alias is being moved to Thursdays at 8:00 PM with new episodes starting this fall in a move that appears on the surface to be "taking on the big powerhouses of NBC and CBS on Thursdays," but is in fact a concession of defeat from ABC after Alias' ratings tanked over the course of the past season...

-Boston Legal, which had been airing on Sundays at 10:00 PM after Desperate Housewives until Grey's Anatomy debuted, will not be getting its old timeslot back, as it's being moved to Tuesdays at 10:00 PM...

-The George Lopez Show has been officially renewed, despite the fact that its ratings were no better than its timeslot neighbor My Wife & Kids, which got cancelled... Lopez will be moving from its current Tuesday timeslot to the old Lost timeslot on Wednesdays at 8:00 PM...

-ABC officially renews Wife Swap and will air the show during the football season at 8:00 PM before Monday Night Football on the East Coast, and at 10:00 PM after Monday Night Football on the West Coast, this is the same timeslot in which Mark Cuban's The Benefactor failed so miserably last season...

-Super Nanny gets renewed by ABC and given the new timeslot of Fridays at 8:00 PM, this marks the second time ABC has re-launched and then abandoned its "TGIF" all-comedy line-up on Fridays...

-Even According to Jim is getting a new timeslot, as it moves from Tuesdays at 9:00 PM to Tuesdays at 8:00 PM, while Rodney has been officially renewed and will follow According to Jim on Tuesday nights at 8:30 PM... ABC is throwing Jim and Rodney under the bus with the belief that they will manage to hold up in the ratings despite the fact that they will be going head to head with the American Idol juggernaut starting in early 2006...

UPDATE at 6:23 PM:
-The big announcement from The WB's upfront presentation is that the network is going against the big networks head-on by moving Smallville and Everwood to Thursday nights... while Everwood's ratings will surely be crushed in the Thursdays at 9:00 PM timeslot, Smallville won't necessarily see drastic ratings decreases in the Thursdays at 8:00 PM timeslot because of the overrated and relatively weak competition it will have in that timeslot (Joey, Will & Grace, Alias)...

-The WB has officially cancelled Jack & Bobby, Steve Harvey's Big Time Challenge, Grounded for Life, The Mountain, and Drew Carey's Green Screen... Jack & Bobby and Steve Harvey were both considered borderline shows, and neither of them made the cut...

-One Tree Hill and Charmed have both been renewed despite mediocre ratings... Charmed will stay in the Sundays at 8:00 PM timeslot, while One Tree Hill will be moved to Wednesdays at 8:00 PM...

-7th Heaven is staying on Mondays at 8:00 PM and Gilmore Girls is staying on Tuesdays at 8:00 PM, both shows will used as strong lead-ins to launch new dramas in the 9:00 PM timeslot on Mondays and Tuesdays...

-What I Like About You, whose status was unknown as recently as yesterday, has been officially renewed by The WB and will be in the Fridays at 8:00 PM timeslot...

-As detailed yesterday on Ivan's Blog, WB executives settled a huge dispute with the producers of Reba at the last minute and were able to renew the series, which will continue to air Friday nights at 9:00 PM...

UPDATE at 6:40 PM:
-The WB has officially renewed Blue Collar TV, which has been a hit based on The WB's ratings standards, but the nework is throwing Blue Collar TV under the bus by moving it to the Sundays at 9:00 PM timeslot, where it will be head-to-head with the Desperate Housewives juggernaut...

-One might think that there's not much of a connection between Desperate Housewives viewership and a male-oriented show on The WB, but the now-cancelled Steve Harvey's ratings fell off dramatically as soon as the show starting going head-to-head with Desperate Housewives...

-A cancellation from The WB that was not mentioned before was The Starlet, which has also been officially cancelled...

-The status of Trading Spouses on Fox was still up the air as of yesterday, but now it is believed that Fox will announce on Thursday that it is renewing the series...

UPDATE at 7:06 PM:
-Summerland has also been cancelled by The WB and will burn off its five still-unaired episodes, ironically enough, this summer...

-Regarding Fear Factor, which has been renewed by NBC but is being held off from the fall schedule and is instead going to be used as a midseason replacement show, word is that when the show returns it will be moving from its current Monday night timeslot to Tuesdays at 9:00 PM after The Biggest Loser finishes its season in that timeslot, this would put the show head-to-head with American Idol...

-Life As We Know It has also been officially cancelled by ABC, although that has been long assumed, it's interesting because Life As We Know It was a drama in the Thursdays at 8:00 PM timeslot, and it failed miserably, so what does ABC do? It puts Alias in that timeslot starting this fall...

-Even though ABC has cancelled Extreme Makeover (non-Home Edition) as a regular series, it still reserves the right to air occasional Extreme Makeover specials in which people gets makeovers... the only version of the series that is a big hit is Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, which will continue to air on Sundays at 8:00 PM...

-Regarding The Bachelor and its decreasing ratings, ABC said during its upfront presentation that it feels the show has aired too many seasons in too short of a time period (you think?), and that the network hopes to breathe new life into The Bachelor by only airing one or two cycles of the series per season...

UPDATE at 7:35 PM:
-The talk of the TV industry right now is that ABC has tinkered far too much with something that was not broken... the network just had its best season of ratings in many, many years, and it have responded by rolling out a 2005-2006 schedule that will see ONE non-Sunday TV show keep its same day and time... the network has literally changed almost its entire schedule, which could come back to bite it in the ass...

-With My Wife & Kids having been cancelled by ABC, tonight's season finale of the show will also be the series finale...

-More info leaking out of CBS prior to tomorrow's upfront presentation... It is looking more and more likely that Listen Up, Joan of Arcadia, and Judging Amy will all be cancelled at CBS' presentation tomorrow... Joan is considered almost a sure goner, and Listen Up and Judging Amy each probably have about a 40% chance of being renewed at this point...

-There is surprising talk that CBS might cancel 60 Minutes Wednesday due to its low ratings compared to 60 Minutes Sunday, and the credibility problems that last year's election-season report from Dan Rather gave the network...

-On-the-bubble drama NCIS (not to be confused with the CSI franchise, which it has nothing to do with) looks like it will be renewed, the show always draws strong overall ratings, but very poor ratings in the key 18-to-49 year-old demographic

-King of Queens appears to be safe and headed for a renewal, although it might be moved back to Monday nights because it has not performed well on Wednesday nights head-to-head with American Idol...

-The likely heir to the Everybody Loves Raymond throne in the Mondays at 9:00 PM timeslot is Two and a Half Men, which drew excellent ratings this past season that were almost as good as Raymond's ratings...

-More updates from the upfront presentations to come tomorrow...