TruTV—it was, until this month, Court TV—just unceremoniously canceled (or they "mutually agreed to cease production" of) noted lawyer and former View co-host Star Jones Reynolds' show (called, apparently, the Star Jones program). Last episode is tomorrow! The email from Tru TV's GM to Tru TV staff is attached.
Ashleigh Banfield, who used to be a "real" TV journalist and has even probably won some awards, would like you to know that she still cares very much what former professional football player and acquitted wife-murderer OJ Simpson does with his time. Simpson is currently in a Las Vegas jail for reasons unknown. Banfield was fired by MSNBC in 2004 for criticizing Fox News back when Keith Olbermann's ratings were terrible. [HuffPo]
We always hear about layoffs in production departments, or foreign bureaus, or "a little bit of everywhere," in the case of MTV—but it's rare these days that you get to see an outfit chop up its web staff. But that's what Court TV is doing right this second—with fellow Time Warner company CNN.com going big on plans for CNN.com/crime, Court TV (soon to be called truTV) no longer needs 16 of the staffers at their website. 15 will remain.
Every time we attempted to watch more than 30 seconds of Dog the Bounty Hunter, we always found ourselves wishing that someone would replace the pro-wrestler-looking guy with the ass-length mullet with a bunch of
chicks who would occasionally type on laptops, roundhouse-kick heavy bags, and say things like, "We're gonna have to Tazer this guy!" or "I'm gonna bring him out with my big, sexy, luuurrring ways." A thank you, then, is owed to Court TV for so thoroughly meeting all our bounty hunting show needs, as demonstrated in this Today clip. We might finally have something else to check out on the network after we're done watching freakishly thin Star Jones learn to live with the decreased capacity of her walnut-sized stomach.
From the first moment we laid eyes upon a Lilliputian, love-advice-dispensing Star Jones, we knew in our hearts that the stifling format of The View wasn't doing nearly enough to showcase everything this wise former D.A. had to offer her viewers. Kudos, then, to Court TV, who has scooped up the deposed daytime monarch to host her very own entertainment/law show. Sporting a brand new makeover (short hair + glasses + pantsuit + a face you can trust = instant credibility!), Jones offers TVGuide.com some thoughts on her journey away from The View's hysterics and back into our hearts:
Broadcasting & Cable says Court TV is "rebranding" and changing its name in an attempt to woo a different "psychographic," one that is full of dudes who like watch reality-based action shows. No word yet on the new name, but we understand that the top four contenders are The 24-Hour Larry Seidlin Channel, America's Violentest Interrogations Network, Parent's Basement Television, and Spike. Also: "Star Jones Is A Lawyer!" (Uh, her show will appeal to men... how?) Sadly, "We're Not Thrilled About Being Associated With Nancy Grace Either, But Ratings Are Ratings TV" was nixed for being too lengthy to fit on any of the eight million branded products the network sends out for publicity. Former network head Henry Schleiff must be kissing his framed copy of Steven Brill's picture and thanking the Lord that he headed over to Hallmark.
Fret not, Star Jones's legions of fans: The Daytime Talk Show Gods have heard your hungry cries for a return to a time when we could all rely on a regular dose of Starry-eyed wisdom to help get us through the day. The former Brooklyn D.A. has been hired back by the very network that helped launch her now-legendary famewhoring career:
A prophecy was foretold in Star Jones Reynolds' Christmas letter. Forsooth: "This is a time of brand new chapters and wonderful beginnings. It is my intention to return to my roots of straight, smart "user-friendly" projects that convey my commitment to family, the community, and the law by providing programming that both entertains and informs." And now, a mere four months later, the seeds bear fruit: Page Six hints, and B&C confirms, that Star will host an hourlong daytime talk show on Court TV starting later this year. "My goal is to inform, empower, educate and entertain viewers. And Court TV is the perfect place to accomplish that mission." Informing and entertaining, and maybe even doing something about that scary cleavage-furrow! That's our Star: on message.
To push its new author-narrated crime show Murder by the Book, Court TV is installing narrow-band "audiobeam" sound projectors in bookstores that focus whispery monologues at individual customers. " "Hey you, over here. Don't turn around. Can you hear me? Do you ever think about murder, committing the ultimate crime?" intones the voice to you, and you alone, or anyone else who walks into the beam. Just in case you scream "Yes! Oh yes!" and attack your fellow book-browsers with joyful homicidal abandon, nearby posters warn that the "mystery whisperer" (gag) is all part of this innocuous effort at "experiential marketing" (double gag). Supposedly, the devices have been installed in Time Warner Center, so enjoy that on your lunch break for this rainy day. The technology involved comes mainly from military use, so it has no chance of accidentally boiling your brains out or anything.
We're more than happy to welcome today's banner ads for Court TV's reality show Parco P.I. After all, the show features a bald man, and you know how we like that look. But more to the point, we're compelled to wonder if our reluctant saturation coverage and dead-horse-beating parodies of the "Emily & Steven" billboards — a viral ad campaign for Parco P.I. — somehow led to this ad buy. If that's the case, we're not sure who gets congratulated and who feels ashamed, but we like wallowing in a little of both. Just the sort of pleasure-pain alloy we particularly enjoy.
TV Week reports that Court TV executive VP Charlie Collier "is leaving the network amid another round of layoffs at the network, which was acquired by Time Warner in May for $735 million. About a dozen staffers were affected in his round of layoffs, including senior managers in the network's human resources and legal departments."
When Time Warner, which had long owned 50 percent of Court TV, acquired the other half last month, everyone was sure that layoffs would be coming soon. Today they finally arrived. Reports a Court TV source:
The Da Vinci Code is causing all sorts of controversy — over the portrayal of the Catholic Church, over how bad Opie's movie is — but CourtTV has found a whole new controversy: Albino blackface (whiteface?)! On the CourtTV website, writer (and blogger) Susie Felber interviews Victor Varnado, the New Yorker who is, it seems, the country's leading albino actor, and he's pissed the bad-guy role of the albino monk went to — be sure you're sitting down — a non-albino. There's also some discussion of the fact that albinos are always bad guys in movies, which we probably ought to get into, and we were going to make a reference to the quasi-analogous Jonathan Pryce/Miss Saigon Equity contretemps. But instead we think we'll just go rent Foul Play.
There are many reasons for homelessness. Many are sad, some tragic, and a few eminently understandable. A there-but-for-the-grace-of- God woman appeared in night court last night; unable to afford her apartment after she lost her job, she'd been arrested and charged with trespassing for sleeping on a Gramercy Park roof.
• CBS Radio sues Howard Stern for using their air to promote his new Sirius show. So why didn't they just kick him off the air back then? "I'm the one who kept you on the air and I knew I could sue you afterwards," Stern says Les Moonves told him, presumably with an enormous, blindingly white smile. [NYT]
• Boston Globe in talks to print, distribute New York Post in Massachusetts. And finally New Englanders will have their hoped-for chance to play Post Poker. [BG]
• You know Nancy Grace, the crusading anchorwoman on CourtTV and Headline News? Yeah, well, she's kind of full of shit. [NYO]
• Bode Miller was Jim Kelly's second-worst cover decision, the Time editor, whose hindsight checks in at an amazing 20/15, tells Jon Friedman. [MW]
• NYT's Elisabeth Bumiller to write Condi bio; NYT's Steven Weisman, Bumiller's hubby, to get kicked off State Department beat. Such are the compromises of married life. [NYO]