Monday, March 27, 2006

Short Takes - March 27, 2006

Okay, I've been fiddling around with this idea for a while now but haven't actually been motivated to do anything about it. I'm still not but I'm forced to admit that if I waited until I was actually motivated to do this thing it'd never get done because I'm extremely hard to motivate.

Basically Short Takes is going to be a roundup of news about TV that I find interesting. Not interesting enough to write a big post about mind you but just something that I could crank out a paragraph or two on. Assuming of course that I remember to write them down or otherwise record the thing that interests me. So without further ado about nothing let's go to press with two items.

1. MTV Canada Debuts With No Music: Viewers Shocked
I can't see why. Does MTV in the States actually show music? But seriously folks, anyone who expected there to be music videos on the new MTV Canada hasn't been paying attention. The original MTV Canada and its sister digital channel MTV2 were owned by Craig Media of Calgary Alberta, but they sold out most of their broadcasting interests in 2004 to CHUM Limited of Toronto which owns MuchMusic, MuchMoreMusic and three other digital specialty music stations (as well as a lot of other stuff). CHUM dumped the MTV name as soon as possible. Meanwhile CTV had a station wasting bandwidth called TalkTV which was entirely programmed with repeats of talk shows from Canada and the US after their one attempt at original programming - The Chatroom - was cancelled (I liked The Chatroom in case anyone is interested, particularly when they were talking about TV and other media). The network wasn't picked up by a lot of cable providers and was frequently put in the digital tier before the roll out of the main digital channels. CTV decided to convert TalkTV into the new MTV Canada, but the new MTV Canada is operating under the CRTC license issued to TalkTV. That license had two restrictions: "an emphasis on talk programming" and "at least 68% of total programming must be Canadian content". This would also include a restriction not just on music programming but other forms of fictional entertainment shows. That's why there's no music on MTV Canada.

2. Phil Hellmuth To Replace Phil Gordon As Host Of Celebrity Poker Showdown: Poker Fans Shocked
For me this is bigger than the MTV Canada thing. I was aware that Phil Gordon had left the show, apparently with some mutual animosity between him and NBC (which owns Bravo, the network that shows Celebrity Poker Showdown) since he wasn't invited to participate in NBC's National Heads-up Poker Championship. I'm sad to see him leave because Gordon had a tremendous amount of chemistry with the show's host Dave Foley. They worked off of each other well. A bigger surprise for fans of Poker was the choice of his replacement, Poker's answer to John McEnroe but without McEnroe's charm, Phil Hellmuth. "Hell Mouth's" volatile temper and tendency to act out when he gets beaten probably won't be an issue. He proudly owns up to being a "Poker Brat" who sometimes behaves like an infant who has had he favourite rattle taken away from him when he busts out of a tournament. The problem is going to be Hellmuth's enormous ego which I'm afraid might turn the show into the "Phil Hellmuth Program". Phil Gordon was amazingly self-effacing as well as being instructive in his commentary on the play. He was also a good straight man for Dave Foley. I can't see Hellmuth working well in any of these roles. More to the point I, and just about any serious fan of the game, can easily think of a half dozen or more professional players who would be a better fit for the job. We haven't seen his first season of the show, which will be Series 8, but I for one have low expectations.

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