Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The 10 Biggest Blunders in TV - 21st century edition

The Hollywood Reporter ( is running a series called "Ranks for the Memories" - a look at the highs and lows of the past decade.

Its Top 10 list of TV industry blunders include overleveraging promising shows, taking stupid chances on untried execs, and a $6-billion bad call.

Here's the Blunderful TV Top 10:

10. Fox canceling "Family Guy" (now its second-highest-rated scripted series).

9. NBC hiring Ben Silverman: fine agent, bad exec (he masterminded American Gladiator and the remake of "Knight Rider")

8. ABC's overload on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" (seriously, four times a week? ABC's ratings took years to recover.)

7. The casting of Ryan Jenkins on a VH1 dating show (He was later charged with the murder of his spouse and took his own life.)

6. Dumping Jay Leno from NBC's "Tonight Show" (Jay dominated late-night; now he's flailing in prime time).

5. Election Night coverage in 2000 (Remember how Florida ended up being called for Gore, then Bush, then "too close to call"?)

4. MyNetworkTV (The UPN and WB stations that didn't merge into The CW were regrouped by Fox Entertainment Group into a network called MyNetworkTV. Inexplicably, its plan to run all low-cost telenovelas flopped.)

3. Janet Jackson's Super Bowl nipple slip (The infamous "wardrobe malfunction" led to pre-emptive editing of risque content and more vigilance on live telecasts.)

2. ABC passing on "CSI" (The franchise has since generated $6 billion for CBS.)

1. The 2007-08 Writers' Strike (An avoidable, mutually destructive act at exactly the wrong time. A season was lost, and nobody won.)

Why are stupid people paid so much?

Friday, December 18, 2009

It's not just businesses that screw things up

I enjoyed the lead paragraph on this CBC news story today.

U.S. reaches climate deal with 4 countries
Last Updated: Friday, December 18, 2009 4:49 PM ET
CBC News
The United States, China, India, Brazil and South Africa have reached a "meaningful" climate change agreement, although nothing large enough in scope to truly combat global warming, a senior U.S. official says.

Keep on leading, o fearless leaders.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dear Bell Canada:

Please stop calling me.

I always know it’s you calling, because there’s a huge long gap between when I pick up the phone and say “Hello,” and when someone actually responds. It is very annoying. It’s a much longer lag than I get when the lawn-care companies call, so if you are not sure what kind of telephone solicitation systems to use, maybe you could call and ask The Weed Man.

Secondly: Please don't call me with people who can barely speak English. It reflects badly upon you.

And please, don't tell me my name has been randomly drawn to receive a great offer. I already knew it’s a sale pitch. But now I know you also think I’m stupid.

Oh, and don't say it’s a courtesy call when you're just trying to sell me stuff. That goes beyond incompetence to hypocrisy. And it’s bad manners.

And finally, when I say, very politely, that I'm not interested in this great offer, train your people what to say. Don't let them respond, “Oh, ok, goodbye.” Showing that little confidence in their product tells me that they are bad salespeople, and that you hire bad salespeople.

I would really like to believe that the company that supplies my telephone services is good at something.

Yours Sincerely
A Loyal Customer

Monday, December 7, 2009

A story out of the Dark Ages

This a true story. Names and places have been obscured to protect the innocent.

In an unnamed American city on the weekend, I was sitting with my family members at a fast-food restaurant. We got to talking to the waiter and he admitted he was off his game that night. Seems his nephew had gone missing that day.

We of course expressed shock, and asked what he was doing here, at work. Surely his place that night was helping out his family?

Yes, he agreed. But when he called in to say he wanted to stay home, his boss said he needed him to work. The boss apparently said, "If you want to stay home, you have to bring in a note saying your nephew is missing. Or there won't be a job to come back to."

Circumstances being what they are today in the Land of the Free, he came in. And provided exemplary service, I might add. We gave him a big tip and wished him all the best.

Sounds like a story out of the Dark Ages.

Those who have achieved a modicum of success and autonomy in their working lives often need to be reminded that not everyone has it so good. Scrooge ("Are there no workhouses?") is alive and well, especially in the current economy when even low-paying positions are so essential to so many - giving bad bosses too much power.

My heart goes out to all employees who are still subject to the whims and arbitrary decisions of flint-hearted bosses and inflexible organizations. Enlightened management welcome.