Thursday, 11 September 2008

The Brioux deal

Bill Brioux, former Toronto Sun TV critic, responds to our Thumbs down posting:

"Ten years ago, right before I started at the Sun, I shot a pilot with Claire Bickley to do a Siskel & Ebert-style show about television.

We reviewed new shows, giving our thumbs up with an old TV tube tester ("good" or "bad").

We got Peter Mansbridge, Mike Bullard and Steve Smith ("Red Green") to all appear in the pilot, sometimes reviewing our reviews.

The pilot was shopped around the various Canadian networks. The feedback was very positive - as in, they were all positive they wouldn't touch it.

"That was fantastic - I'd never buy that show," was basically the message.

No network wanted to let two critics dare say some show they just paid $200,000 a week to import into Canada wasn't as funny as it used to be.

There was no safe haven for this kind of a show, not even on Newsworld. Nobody wanted to let critics - or any independent voice - do anything but endorse their product.

Programmers today want cheerleaders (see eTalk, Entertainment Tonight Canada, etc). They don't want criticism. They don't even want people suggesting there might be something else on another channel.

It's the same with movie review shows. Movies are made today by conglomerates that also control other media, including television. There's Universal/NBC, CBS/Paramount, Disney/ABC. They "conglom" because they want to control the entire message, not be subject to independent, consumer reviews.

In short, there is no way in hell Siskel & Ebert would ever be launched today. It is grandfathered in and tolerated because, as a Disney-owned syndicated TV show, it still makes money.

But the door is slammed shut on anything else like it.

Although, dammit, I think Doyle and I could kick some ass with such a deal."

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