Thursday, May 30, 2013

Media Musings: Larry King Joins Russian TV Network, Robin Roberts Gets Her Own Daytime Talk Show?

Larry King is heading to RT, an English-language cable news network owned by the Russian government. His online-based celebrity talk show known as "Larry King Now" will be aired on the network 4 times a week and he will be producing and hosting a new show known as "Politics with Larry King" which will be seen on Hulu, and exclusively on television on RT.

Alot of people have panned King for making this move because the network is owned by the Russian government (which isn't an enemy of the US but not really an ally either). But in my opinion, every network has it's flaws in terms of it's ability to be fair. 

U.S. based news networks may not be owned by the government but there is definitely an unwritten fine line between what can and can't be broadcast on CNN, Fox and MSNBC in terms of criticisms of the government. These networks are also held to a standard by the sponsors who pay them and by the political parties or lobbyists who hold influence in the companies. In my opinion, foriegn news networks are more open about their influences.

And even if you feel like RT may hold a bias towards Russia for obvious reasons, it's better to have more than one perspective rather than always listening to the same talking points which are regurgitated on the big 3 cable news nets. It will be interesting to see if King is willing to be critical of Russia especially when he has been openly favorable to Vladimir Putin and served on the board of a Russian-owned TV network in the country of Georgia, which is Russia's fiercest rival.

It's going to be up to King to ask the tough questions to Russian representatives who come on his shows when for example, the topic of Syria comes up and Russians have to defend giving weapons to a regime which is killing it's own people. If he can't be held to that task then his legacy will be far lower than it was when he was at CNN.

But for now, let's wait and see how it goes. We should be excited that another perspective is opening up to the masses. I would have rather seen him go to Al-Jazeera America but RT arguably has been the voice to the voiceless giving extreme leftists, extreme rightys, independents, conspiracy theorists, pro-Russian voices and college professors a voice. Unlike MSNBC or Fox, you can't really hold RT to a certain ideology which is something which all TV should be like (even if the voices that RT has are pretty weird).

Another defense for King is that the king of interviews is simply using RT's studios and getting distribution on their TV network, it doesn't look like RT themselves will be involved in editing and production details which means that King's shows won't suddenly have a hammer and sickel as his backdrop. This gives King better reach and a return to TV and RT gets another voice/perspective and someone who is a legend and can bring a new audience unfamiliar with the network. Don't judge a book before you've read the whole thing!

Rumor has it that ABC is trying to extend the GMA brand and possibly give Robin Roberts her own show in the daytime which is very Oprah-esque and interview-based according to Broadcasting & Cable. The new show would replace Katie Couric's new show which is not doing bad in the ratings but not doing good in the ratings either despite ABC investing millions and millions of dollars into the product, talent and producers.

I think it's a great idea for ABC but I doubt it's going to happen. ABC has already tried to extend GMA by giving it a 15-minute post show on every morning after the show ends at 9am known as "GMA Live" and when it canceled "One Life to Live" to make some room for Katie Couric, it launched a temporary filler show known as "Good Afternoon America" with it's new shining star Josh Elliott and perky lifestyle anchor Lara Spencer, who have been credited for bringing GMA to #1.

The reasoning behind making this happen is that GMA has shown a lot of stability without Robin being there all the time. At first, many viewers fell in love with Robin and watched because of her because she was the leader of the crew but as viewers got attached to the other cast members it wasn't necessary for Robin to always be there. Because of the viewers being used to the other cast members, ABC can have Robin anchor the 7am hour and then leave at 8am and come back for a possible 3pm extension of GMA without being worried that the 8am hour's ratings would drop or that the new extension of GMA at 3pm wouldn't have good ratings (which it would because it would be with a familiar face who is a ratings winner).

The other reason behind this possible move is because Robin is known for being an interviewer who is relatable to guests and to viewers at home. That relatability factor is perfect for the daytime slot which is how Oprah was able to be so successful. When you make a viewer feel like they know you, (like how people feel like they've gone the bone marrow struggle together with her) they begin to support you even more.

But the biggest reason why this will never happen is because of Robin's health. The earliest this could happen is 2014, when Couric's contract expires. Even though Roberts is slowly but surely coming back, it would be a big mistake to give her a heavy work load when her health is still very volatile. Let her come back to working 5 days a week on GMA and then you can discuss giving her 5 million other jobs just like they're doing with George Stephanapolous (host of "This Week", breaking news anchor, substitute anchor on "WNT", political chief, blogger on, host of "Power Players" on Yahoo)

SIDENOTE on giving 1 talent 5 different jobs: I think it's a good strategy to give viewers at different timeslots a peek at what they're missing if they're not watching George on GMA and it's something NBC should do with Matt Lauer, who is never seen on "Today" after 9am and seems to only work 2 hours a day, but they might need to cut George some slack. A human can only do so much.

So if Katie's show does get cancelled eventually, where does Katie go? Since ABC is paying her so much money, they might as well have her replace Barbara Walters on "The View" and give her all the same interview specials which Barbara had because that's Katie's specialty. Also have her file reports once in a while for ABC News and their new cable network Fusion.

But what if Barbara has an ego about replacing her own alpha female attitude with another alpha female who has the capability of being better than her? The motto is always to replace yourself with someone who is better than you but in reality you never want someone to do your job better than you after you leave and because Barbs will still hold clout at ABC, being the exec producer of "The View", she could go against the network placing Couric at her spot so where does that leave Couric?

Obviously back to's almost as if Couric will make a full 360 in her career before it's over (she started at ABC, then went to CNN, then went to NBC, then CBS and then back to ABC). Her good friend Jeff Zucker will be there, as well as many of the producers who were part of her syndicated talk show who left for CNN.

This industry is a copy-cat industry and I could see Couric starting her own version of "The View" on CNN (just as CBS has done with "The Talk") which dabbles into current events but mainly focuses on trending topics, fitting Zucker's agenda to broaden the definition of news. She might also replace Piers Morgan (who is definitely gone in 2014 to either Fox News or some entertainment network) or do an interview show once a week. BUT.....these are just predictions.

Legendary Entertainment logo

Legendary Entertainment, makers of "The Hangover" and "Inception", just signed a deal with China Film Company, which is a state-run film enterprise in China according to it's Wikipedia page. The deal, according to the AP, "calls for the companies to fund development and production of multiple films over three years. Their first collaborations will be announced in the coming months. Legendary said each is planned as a US-China co-production. That means they can get around China's import restrictions that limit the number of foreign movies shown on the country's 12,000 screens to 34 each year."

In my opinion, this is a great deal for Legendary because it provides them with a new source of funding for movies, which is very scarce and rare in this economy and it also opens up it's movies to a new market with billions of people (China) without any restrictions. I'm not sure if the movies have to be made in China or be related to Chinese culture but I hope not because there's only so many "Karate Kid" movies you can make.

If Legendary wanted to make a Hangover 4 movie for example, they could team up with China Film Co., and make it a co-production even if the movie is totally based in the U.S. and they can make more money by exposing it to the Chinese market. In my opinion, it's a good deal.

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