Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Thumbs down

It's thumbs down for ABC's new At The Movies gabfest unveiled on the weekend.

Hosts Ben Lyons and Ben Manikiewicz, along with a new three-person panel format, make it all too gabby and hyper compared to Siskel and Ebert and Ebert and Roeper after Gene Siskel died in 1999.

So we were thinking, Toronto has four major daily newspapers and a number of movie and television critics with credentials. How about pairing two of them for a weekly movie and/or TV critic face-off series?

With cable productions drawing big numbers and numerous awards, movie and television are intertwined on movie/DVD review programs.

So egos aside, who would have the perfect chemistry for a TV duo?

The Sun's Jim Slotek and the Star's Linda Barnard?

The Sun's Bruce Kirkland and the Globe's John Doyle?

The Sun's Bill Harris and the Star's Rob Salem?

The Sun's Liz Braun and the Post's Bob Thompson?

Or mix and match.

Siskel and Ebert, employed by competing Chicago dailies, were a movie theatre balcony combo that raised the bar.

But Toronto, home of a world class film festival, surely has two qualified print media movie critics who could fill the bill and keep movie fans entertained for 30 minutes.

Ditto for objective TV analysis.

1 comment:

  1. 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 conglomorates 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.