Ryan Seacrest’s “Knock Knock Live” Fails To Ignite

FOX TV’s Knock Knock Live Show Review

knock knock liveAt 9PM on July 21 2015, Ryan Seacrest’s new TV show Knock Knock Live beamed out , live, over the Fox broadcast airways for the very first time and now it all seems a blur. Knock Knock Live is Seacrest’s bid to remain on the broadcast air long after American Idol has died and gone to heaven, which will be in early 2016. The format of the show is basically a feel-good, let’s give away lots of sponsors prizes to people who are deserving by knocking on their doors and surprising them. The show roped in a couple of stars like the rapper Common and soccer star David Beckham. Kellie Pickler (from American Idol fame) co-hosted. The show consisted of hearing back stories of deserving families and then showing them being surprised by one of the celebrities with a easy challenge and then a big prize. Some of the people who nominated the families also got prizes. In a bid to keep the in-studio audience entertained, one of the families in the TV studio was also surprised.

Sponsors Galore

Knock Knock Live had an amazing slew of major sponsors that included Ford, Sprint and Meineke who gave away cars, iPhones and buses for teachers to pick up their students. The show often felt akin to when Oprah gave out all those cars (but later turned out that it was Chevy the gave away the cars). The same format played off here, with Seacrest giving away over half a million dollars worth of prizes of OPM (other peoples money). One such money giveaway was hilarious with Seacrest’s team spraying money into the street using a fan out the back of a truck and having the winner get on their hands and knees in the street to pick up the money in the dirt and grime and whatever else was there. The use of an armored truck is also hysterical, especially when the cash amount is only $25,000. Homeowners all over America will now be using armored trucks to take them to their condo closings as their bank checks are worth way more than $25k

ryan seacrest at knock knock liveTwitter Sphere Reacts

Twitter sphere was quick to react to the show with claims that all the “surprised” fans at home were all remarkably well dressed. Each man had on a shirt and tie and the women were wearing their Sunday best with full makeup – not one person was in their boxer shirts or covered with paint or sweat, indicating that all the families were tipped-off in some way prior to the “surprise”. Fox probably didn’t want anything to go wrong on the debut of a live show. With the sheen off the surprise, the show lacked any genuine surprises and many questionable moments appeared in the show. One obvious fake surprise came when one of the hosts came to the door of the neighbor who nominated someone else. That neighbor acted totally surprised, yet a veritable riot had been happening outside their house for the last thirty minutes with over 50 TV crew, 100 neighbors, four TV trucks and an armored truck. Even the other neighbors down the street had seen the show on TV and came out, how did the nominated neighbor not know anything? Clearly they did.

Seacrest is Charming Host But Lacks Comedic Skills

Ryan Seacrest is no stranger to fake-ality TV shows, especially given his mastermind of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Knock Knock Live may have landed in that genre given its less-than-honest surprises. There were many moments in the show that a more talented host could have used to comedic effect, but Seacrest is just not-that-kind-of-host and the show often came over as bland, if not banal. Kellie Pickler shone brightly in this show that gave her an outlet for her upbeat and winning personality. It was clear to all that while this show may not last, she just passed the interview for something bigger and better. Pickler had talked about doing The View with Whoopi Goldberg, but that seems a step down for this bright and talented star on the rise.

In-Studio Audience Experience

The In-Studio audience did not have much fun on this show as anticipated as all the action was either pre-recorded or shown live on the giant screens in the studio. Only Seacrest was in the TV studio with the audience, and he is not exactly an electric personality. The audience members described the experience as only slightly better than America’s Funniest Home Video’s, but at least each audience member was paid $40 for their six hour experience on the show debut. Audience was gathered by OnSet productions, who are considering raising the pay rate for the audience, as it was a stretch to get five hundred people to come to this show, where very little live-action happens. Even with the extra money, they do not anticipate on making the show any more interesting for the in-studio audience.

Back Story Format Lifted From American Idol

david beckhamThe “feel good” format of the show is unlikely to sustain good viewership over time as there was very little raw entertainment in the show, just one family back story after another – with each family getting a bunch of money at the end. The back story format grew and grew on American Idol and many feel that is what ultimately did it in. NBC made the same mistake with their TV show AGT (America’s Got Talent) and their Olympics coverage, too much back-story makes the whole subject matter slow-paced and bland. During the initial TV show pitch meeting, it is reported that Fox executives often heard the terms “low brow bonanza” and ” feel good format” and they thoroughly bought into the concept. If the plan was to aim the show at individuals who think that “investing in your future” means buying a lottery ticket, then they hit that demographic perfectly. The problem is that advertisers do not necessarily want that demographic and once the sheen is off this show, they will depart, especially given that Neil Patrick Harris’s similar TV show, Best Time Ever is just around the corner and that is being produced by the masters in this genre,  ITV America.

Simon Cowell’s Suggestions Ignored

Simon Cowell had been asked for his informal input on the show and had been vocal about significant changes that would need to be made to make this show a long-term success. An insider indicated that Cowell stated that Seacrest just wants to be Mr Nice Guy, which after a little while, becomes boring and not edgy or interesting in any way. Cowell suggested that an additional character be introduced (perhaps he was referring to himself) who would arbitrarily decide whether or not the family could keep the money they just won. The reality would be that they would get the money anyway, but on TV they would be denied just to see the reaction in some macabre They Shoot Horses Don’t They kind of way. “Seacrest needs a bad guy to counter his Mr Nice Guy personality, otherwise he is a bit boring” Cowell is quoted as saying.
Where is Brian Dunkelman when you need him.

New York TV Show Pilots On The Rise

Hollywood loves to add its own level of fanfare to its latest TV shows that are in the Pilot stage, but in the New York area, TV production companies like to keep the new TV shows in pilot-stage on the down-low. Sometimes the reasoning for the secrecy is because they do not want to the show to go off half-cocked if the show is picked up. Other times it is because the celebrity is doing something that is off-contract, or may be embarrassing (or damage) their e-score rating if it flops. It seems that well known celebrities do not like to advertise what projects they are working on when on the East Coast, but the second they are in LA, their PR people cannot wait to tell the world via their social media accounts.

THE AL ROKER SHOW

al roker in black and white suit on red carpetAl Roker has been uber-busy. He has been working on a new show for NBC Universal, in between the gig he has at NBC on Today and the Wake Up With Al show, Roker has been developing The Al Roker Show that has filmed a number of episodes in the Stamford Media Center at 307 Atlantic Street in Stamford, CT. Al Roker’s self-titled new TV show uses a game show format and is similar to the likes of The Newlywed Game, The Pyramid Game  and Clue (All Born back in the 1970’s in Hollywood) in which couples ask questions and test their spouses knowledge about each other. Al Roker and his PR group has been tight lipped about the show that is under development but it is being exec-produced by Terence Gray (The creator of the New York Television Festival) The PR is being handled by Jon Harris at Jon Harris and Associates and the show producer is Tiffany Trigg. Audience management was provided by the LA based OnSet productions, that have scant New York TV shows to their credit. They had to resort to pay $60 to each audience member to make them go out to the Connecticut studios to watch them tape the show. Lord knows how cheap it is to tape a show in Stamford, CT – but when you have to bus-in a paid audience, all the economical value goes out of the window. Also the quality of a paid audience shifts the dynamic of the show. Now they are being paid to laugh, which, everyone knows, comes over the TV tube as closer to canned laughter than natural audience reaction.

Roker first made his name as a weather anchor in 1974, working for a CBS affiliate WHEN-TV in Syracuse, New York. Since 1996, he has been the weekday weather forecaster on NBC’s The Today Show, and since 2009 he has hosted an early morning show every weekday on The Weather Channel called Wake Up With Al. Al is beloved for his creative approaches to forecasting the weather, often done outside the studio, as well as his success as an actor and as book author.

KNOCK KNOCK LIVE and BEST TIME EVER

knock knock liveLike a modern-day version of the Mad TV vs SNL ratings war in the 1990’s, Ryan Seacrest’s Knock Knock Live, currently in production in LA appears to be a straight copy of Neil Patrick Harris’s, yet to be shot, Best Time Ever on NBCSeacrest’s Knock Knock Live show debuts on Fox on July 21, 2015. This TV show dodged the whole pilot phase and went straight into production, beating Patrick-Harris and NBC by a solid eight weeks, which, in TV terms, can be an eternity. It is not clear how Fox got to use the trademark format owned by ITV productions for its British show Saturday Night Takeaway, but if the initial Knock Knock Live tapings are anything to go by, it uses exactly the same formula including the “live from your living room” format to surprise viewers at home. At this point it will be a surprise for some, but after a while, as both shows become established, the surprise may wear off and one of the shows will ultimately fail. With Seacrest lacking any on-stage talent other than show hosting and losing his American Idol gig in 2016, he will be desperate to make this work as he cannot live off Keeping Up With The Kardashian’s money (a show where he is the exec producer) for very long. Patrick Harris, on the other hand, may be coming to the party rather late, but he brings tremendous talent to his show, but with NBC calling the shots, they may over-produce the show and sabotage him with the content constraints they have put on other shows (Americas Got Talent being a great example of how they mess things up). If the NBC execs can keep their hands off the show, they may well have an SNL style winner. best time ever with neil patrick harrisFox’s TV ratings will be boosted tomorrow night by the amount of ITV and NBC executives who will be tuning in to see how good the show is and how many bits have been lifted from Patrick Harris’s show. It remains to be seen if anyone else will watch in the notoriously soft summer of viewership. Lacking creative originality, Seacrest has used some of the household names he helped create on the American Idol show namely Kellie Pickler and Adrienne Bailon, as co-hosts. Seacrest gets to be first on TV, Patrick Harris brings his stage talent later.TV viewers may tire quickly if Seacrest’s show just gives  Let the battle royale commence.

Knock Knock Live is produced by Dick Clark Productions and Simon Fuller’s XIX Entertainment. Seacrest, Fuller, Michael Herwick, Allen Shapiro, Mike Mahan, Mark Bracco, Stijn Bakkers and Nicolle Yaron serve as executive producers. The new show series will premiere on Tuesday, July 21 at 9:00 p.m. on Fox and will be broadcast on the same night each week. Best Time Ever is produced by ITV Studios America and NBC Entertainment. Executive Producers on the show are Neil Patrick Harris, Orly Adelson, Siobhan Greene, Anthony McPartlin, Declan Donnelly and David A. Hurwitz. The latter three individuals are all producers of the British version of the show: Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.Glenn Weiss is directing the show.

ABC’s The View in Slow Motion Crash

Rosie Perez and Nicolle Wallace to Step Down

the view cohostsIn the eighteenth season of The View on ABC, the original creator and co-host Barbara Walters had stepped down, and it was new territory to test whether the remaining co-hosts would bring in as high ratings and overall support from audiences and the network. Along with Walters’ departure, her co executive producer and co-creator Bill Geddie also stepped down, and he was replaced with Bill Wolff, the former executive producer of The Rachel Maddow Show and vice president of primetime programming at MSNBC. In addition, Season 18 had a new filming location, now taking place at the former studios of the now cancelled talk show Katie, which is located in the ABC Broadcast Center in New York City. As for the most interesting personnel on the show for the majority of audiences, the co-host positions also underwent significant transitions in the eighteenth season. The lone incumbent was Whoopi Goldberg, who was joined by former co-host Rosie O’Donnell. In addition, actress Rosie Perez and former Republic correspondent Nicolle Wallace were the remaining co-hosts. However, O’Donnell cited health reasons in announcing she would not return for the 19th season of The View. In addition, both Perez and Wallace will be stepping down. Therefore, for the 19th season, which will commence in mid-September 2015, Whoopi Goldberg will be joined by an additional group of co-hosts.

Wallace Asked to Resign, Raven-Symoné and Michelle Collins Will Joinrosie perez nicolle wallace

For the 19th Season of The View, Rosie Perez chose to step down in order to pursue acting opportunities. Nicolle Wallace, on the other hand, was asked to step down. She was offered the position of rotating co-host for a contributor slot, and she is currently thinking that over. However, she was reportedly offended to be refused the permanent co-host slot on the new season. As for the new co-hosts, it has been announced that former child star Raven-Symoné (from the Disney Channel’s That’s So Raven) will be joining the panel. This is sure to rile up the discussion topics, as Raven has already caused some controversy. During a guest host appearance, Raven contributed to a discussion on politicians feeling obliged to take selfies by saying that she gets a cramp in her hand now when she tries to sign autographs. Nicolle Wallace responded with a rare burst of aggressiveness by quickly asking if she was that famous. However, the ratings must have shown more of an appreciation for Raven’s self interested-ness than with Wallace’s witty instincts because Wallace has been axed, whereas Raven has been offered a permanent position. In addition, comedian Michelle Collins has been offered a co-hosting position for the 19th season. Collins has appeared as a guest host on several occasions, and is excited to join the permanent panel.

“The View” in Slow Motion Crash

Since Barbara Walters retired from The View in May 2014, the ratings have taken a significant dip. In the second quarter of 2015, the ratings were down 16% from last year, reaching 2.48 million viewers. As for the key demographic of women aged 18 to 49, the ratings were down 18% to only 386,000 women viewers. With the relative failure of the 18th season, the producers are aiming for a five co-host format again in the 19th season. This will include Whoopi Goldberg, Raven-Symoné, Michelle Collins, and two co-hosts to be announced. One of these will possibly be a rotating co-host slot, and it remains to be seen whether Nicolle Wallace will accept the offer to be an occasional rotating co-host in this slot. The show cannot seem to decide whether if it wants to focus on news-worthy items or just cover the frivolous pieces, like who has the best looking pooch. Without Walters and Geddie, the show now appears rudderless, but instead of running in small circles, The View is running like a full speed, out of control, speedboat with an imminent crash in sight as soon as it hits land. Expect more firings to come until they can turn it around.

Silvercup Studios to Open New Bronx Location

New Hub for New York Based Television Shows and Films

silvercupSilvercup Studios, the largest film and television production center in New York City, has been based in Long Island City, Queens since 1983, when it took over from the former Silvercup Bakery in the building. Founded by brothers Stuart and Alan Suna, Silvercup was originally used primarily as a site to film music videos and commercials, but it has become much more predominantly used for television production in recent years. For example, Silvercup is famously the site where HBO’s Sex and the City filmed their six seasons, as well as the primary site for ABC’s Hope & Faith as well as FX’s Rescue Me. Other television shows to use the space over the years include Girls, Madam Secretary, 30 Rock, Gossip Girl, Big Lake, Elementary, Fringe, Mad Men, The Michael J. Fox Show, Person of Interest, The Sopranos, and Ugly Betty. With this storied history, the complex is looking to expand and has found its new site in the South Bronx, in the Port Morris area of the borough. The new facility will be 115,000 square feet in size, and operate as a full service studio complex. The warehouse is located at 295 Locust Ave., nearby the Bruckner Expressway as well as the Bronx Brewery. This new facility will be known as Silvercup North, and will open its doors in 2016.

Bronx Revitalization and New York Tax Incentives

silvercup

The new Bronx site

The project is slated to cost $35 million in order to build the new production studios with 50 foot ceilings as well as offices and shops. These facilities will be able to encompasses two-story high sets, and will have the highest ceilings of any facility in New York City. The South Bronx, which has long been a troubled area, is finally entering a period of long-expected gentrification. In 2014 alone, real estate investors put $2.39 billion into the borough, which is 39% higher than 2013 and 55% higher than 2012. This will create many new jobs for New York City, with a lot of temporary construction work, as well as hundreds of additional jobs in the production industry. The Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. is supportive of the new studio, eager both for the economic development as well as the helpful branding of the Bronx image. One of the reasons it is worthwhile for Silvercup to build a new studio is that production tax incentives in New York State are generous at the moment. Though this can change from year to year, New York currently offers producers 30% of their budget in refundable tax credits, up to $420 million allocated for below-the-line expenditures, and $7 million allocated for post-production. This is as long as the production follows all the detailed rules to qualify, including shooting 75% of production in state.

Television Shows Moving to the New Site

Time will tell which shows begin to film in the new Bronx site, but chances are that many will move not just from Silvercup’s Studios in Long Island City, but also from other locations including out of state. Many television shows, including some from NBC, are currently filmed in Stamford, Connecticut, where the present tax incentive offering is 30% in transferable tax credit for spends over $1 million, with up to 50% of production days in the state of Connecticut. Provided that Mayor DiBlasio and Governor Cuomo uphold matching the benefits that these shows currently get in Connecticut, chances are that the new Silvercup North facility will bring back some shows to New York.

Fall Gears Up for Slew of New NYC TV Shows

Neil Patrick Harris’ “Best Time Ever” Premieres Sept 15th on NBC

neil patrick harris best time everIn fall 2015, a lot of changes are afoot on network television. Neil Patrick Harris, the beloved star of stage and screen from such shows as Broadway’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch and CBS’ How I Met Your Mother, has a new variety show coming to NBC. The name of this show has been announced: Best Time Ever. The variety show will be based off of the British program on ITV called Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway. A teaser was shown during this year’s Super Bowl, which thoroughly excited Harris’ huge fan base, but the name and premiere date were only announced recently. This past week, NBC set its fall premiere dates and Best Time Ever is set to begin a week before the rest of the shows. Best Time Ever will launch on Tuesday, September 15th at 10:00pm, after the finale of America’s Got Talent. For the majority of its run, however, it will be at the 8:00pm slot on Tuesdays. The variety show includes a mixture of comedy, musical numbers, performances, sketches, and celebrity guests, and therefore is suitable for an early evening demographic. The rest of the NBC new programming will start the following week.

“Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and “Daily Show with Trevor Noah”late show stephen colbert

As for late night television, two programs are launching their new hosts this fall. Stephen Colbert, who has been on leave from late night since wrapping up The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, will premiere his new part as host of the Late Show on September 8, 2015 on CBS. This also marks a summer break for Late Show, as David Letterman hosted his final episode of Late Show with David Letterman on May 20, 2015. Over the summer, the network opted to air reruns of sitcoms rather than reruns of Late Show, so that fans will be eager for the new host after having been without any episodes for the summer. Colbert’s first hosts have not yet been disclosed, but he has launched a podcast and website while his writing team is busy conceiving the new show, as well as the Colbert demeanor without the faux daily show with trevor noahconservative Colbert character from The Colbert Report. In addition, the Daily Show on Comedy Central will be undergoing a shift in leadership. Jon Stewart steps down with his final episode airing August 6, 2015. After a short break, Trevor Noah will step into his shoes, with the first show airing September 28, 2015. Trevor Noah was a controversial choice for the Daily Show replacement, as he is a 31 year-old relatively inexperienced comedian from South Africa. After the announcement was made, there was a bit of a backlash on social media with some fans declaring him a racist and anti-Semite. However, this is likely a resistance to anyone replacing the beloved Jon Stewart, and Comedy Central stands behind their choice of Trevor Noah as a new face on their network.

Dr. Phil to Launch New TV Show in Fall 2016dr phil

Looking ahead to the following fall, Dr. Phil McGraw, best known just as Dr. Phil, has partnered with DailyMail.com to launch a new syndicated television show. Like much of the content currently on the site, this show will focus on celebrity news. It is not yet clear whether Dr. Phil will be a regular on-camera presence on the show, only that he will appear if the Daily Mail wants to run interviews he has done for his own show, Dr. Phil. The producers of this new show will be Dr. Phil, his son Jay, and Carla Pennington, who is the executive producer of Dr. Phil. The show will most likely be based in New York, although there are plans to have studios in New York, Los Angeles, London, and Sydney. The new DailyMail show will be distributed by CBS, which also distributes Dr. Phil. Dr. Phil declared that he saw an opportunity to create something utterly unique, unlike anything else on TV. Further details are yet to come to describe exactly what this will be.

Howard Stern to Leave “America’s Got Talent”

Announcement Made Wednesday on His Radio Show

AMERICA'S GOT TALENT -- Pictured: Howard SternThe extremely successful radio personality and actor Howard Stern has been on the judging panel of America’s Got Talent since 2011, when he took over the position from Piers Morgan in the show’s seventh season. He has continued to sit on the judge’s panel for the eighth, ninth, and tenth season. Presently, he judges alongside Mel B from the Spice Girls, Heidi Klum from Project Runway, and Howie Mandel from Deal or No Deal. Stern is best known for hosting his own radio show on Sirius XM radio since 2006, before which he hosted his show since 1986 on national syndication. He is also well known for the film Private Parts and his television show The Howard Stern Show. He has made mutterings before about wanting to depart from America’s Got Talent due to his overcommitted schedule, but this time he seems serious. He is also known as an extremely well compensated television star; he appeared in Forbes magazine alongside America’s Got Talent executive producer Simon Cowell as first place on the list of America’s highest paid television personalities. The article stated that Stern earned $95 million between June 2012 and June 2013. Nevertheless, there comes a point when money doesn’t mean much anymore, and Stern has announced that he is reassessing his career priorities, and that this is his last season.

The Impact on “America’s Got Talent”AMERICA'S GOT TALENT -- Pictured: Howard Stern

America’s Got Talent had made some sacrifices to accommodate Stern’s busy schedule, in light of his strong pull with a wide range of market demographics. Specifically, the show relocated from Los Angeles to New York City’s Radio Music Hall, so that Stern could be across the street from his radio studio where he records his Sirius XM show. With Stern gone, the show may very choose to relocate back to Los Angeles. As for who might replace him, Stern was quick to suggest his best option: Simon Cowell. He said that Simon wants the job, anyway. However, as much as Stern is known as a man who tells it like it is, he did not reveal that an agreement had officially been made with the network. He said that he was too f—ing busy, and that he is undergoing his own career evaluation. It was reported that Stern was given until July 4th to decide if he will be renewing his contract. Every year so far, he has ultimately decided to re-up his season to season contract, persuaded by the large paycheck he is being offered. He claimed he really did struggle with the decision to sign on this year. Nevertheless, the press has interpreted Stern’s recent comment on his radio show as sounding more serious than ever before. We may therefore see a different face at the judge’s table next season.

America’s Got Talent

America’s Got Talent has been running on NBC since 2006. The show is executive produced by Simon Cowell, the man behind many other reality shows including Britain’s Got Talent, Pop Idol, The X Factor, and American Idol. America’s Got Talent differs from some of these other shows as the contestants can perform a range of activities, not just singing. In addition to vocal performance, the huge range of acts includes dancers, comedians, magicians, ventriloquists, technology-based performance, and anything that demonstrates a unique and magnficient talent.

“Late Show with Stephen Colbert” Debuts Podcast

Gearing Up for September 8th Premiere on CBS

stephen colbertWhen Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report aired its last show on December 18, 2014, Stephen Colbert had played his conservative Colbert character for 1,447 episodes. On Wednesday, May 20, 2015, David Letterman said goodbye to late night television, airing his last episode of Late Show with David Letterman. Over the summer before the Late Show with Stephen Colbert’s September 8th premiere, CBS has filled the vacant slot with reruns of a range of CBS dramas, awaiting the moment when Stephen Colbert steps into Letterman’s very worthy shoes. Meanwhile, Stephen Colbert has also been preparing. Since he took a leave from television at the end of 2014, he has been doing many things, one of which was growing a beard. Since being discovered by fans, the beard has fondly been called “the Colbeard.” However, CBS made Colbert shave the beard prior to appearing back on television. Rather than doing this quietly, Colbert took the opportunity to make a funny video, shaving his salt and pepper facial hair in segments, mocking the various stages of unconventional facial hair that he could choose to rock. However, he inevitably ends up with a clean shaven face, but he gives us lots of laughs in the meantime. This video debuted on his new website ColbertLateShow.com, and he also launched an app called Colbr and a podcast, all meant to whet fans’ appetites during the summer break.

The Late Show Podcastcolbert letterman

In taking over Letterman’s slot, Colbert is doing more than sitting in the seat where Letterman once sat. The Ed Sullivan Theatre is getting a complete makeover, including widening the seats for “American asses” as Colbert jokes. Beyond this, the Late Show team is embracing online outlets more than ever before. Colbert now has a new website, ColbertLateShow.com, where fans can catch videos, podcasts, photos, and news. The podcast is a particularly fun addition to his slate. He reported that the internet is overrun with many comedy podcasts, so his podcast is in part an effort to curate these podcasts. The first few episodes of the podcast have dealt with the process of writing the comedy show. This is a way for the show’s writers and producers, many of whom Colbert brought over from The Colbert Report, to keep on top of their game during the summer hiatus. It is also a way for Colbert to shine a spotlight on some of comedy’s greatest talents, allowing a greater pool of fans to access their brilliance. Still, the podcast is not the only way the show’s writers are staying active. Colbert reports that they are writing all summer, even if the news on which they are reporting will not be relevant three months from now. In this way, they are shouting jokes into a sock, but Colbert deems this necessary for his writers to stay sharp.

Colbert without the Colbert Character?

As the first few episodes of the Late Show with Colbert podcast are making clear, Colbert is a comedic genius, with or without the shroud of his mock-conservative Colbert character made famous on The Colbert Report. Many devotees of the now retired Comedy Central show are skeptical that Colbert will be as hilarious without this device, but Colbert is determined to prove them wrong. His team of writers is figuring out how this will work as much as his fans are waiting to see how it will work. Still, one thing that is becoming clear is that Colbert’s “character” had many qualities such as bone dry irony and surreal humor that will transfer to the more “straight” Colbert himself, just without the layer of conservative pretending. In this way, America will get to know the “real” Colbert, and CBS is resolute to demonstrate that this Colbert is the same man we have grown to love.

David Letterman Retires from “Late Show” with Final Episode

Final Show Airs May 20, 2015 on CBS

david lettermanFor 22 years, David Letterman has been the host of the Late Show with David Letterman, airing five late nights a week on CBS. Including his previous tenure on a late night talk show on NBC, this represents the end of 32 year career for David Letterman as the king of late night. At age 68, he finally feels ready to step down and pass the mantle. On May 20, 2015, the final episode of the Late Show with David Letterman airs on CBS. He will be succeeded by Stephen Colbert, whose The Colbert Report has gained immense acclaim with American viewers, but the Late Show with Stephen Colbert will not begin until September 8, 2015, allowing a summer break for viewers to get accustomed to Letterman’s departure and become eager for the new premiere. David Letterman has influenced generations of comedians, setting the tone for an entire era of comedy that was way ahead of his time. Unlike Johnny Carson who preceded him on the late night landscape, Letterman was not afraid to point out artifice around him, bringing an anarchic quirkiness to television that has undoubtedly paved the way for Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, and Craig Ferguson.

Tom Hanks and Bill Murray Among Final Week Guestsdavid letterman bill murray

Among the guests to appear on the final week of the Late Show with David Letterman, Tom Hanks made his 60th appearance on a show hosted by Letterman. His first time appearing with David Letterman took place on April 4, 1984. For Monday night’s show, Tom Hanks sat on the couch one final time. Also on that show, Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam performed, backed by Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra. For Tuesday night’s show, Bill Murray made his 44th appearance on a show hosted by Letterman. He was also a guest on the first ever Late Night in 1982, getting Letterman off to an excellent start with the undeniable chemistry between the duo. In a hilariously memorable moment, Murray walked on the stage in 1982 proclaiming that he had missed the beginning of the show, and asked what happened, and if it had been going well. In addition, for this penultimate episode, Bob Dylan was the musical guest. At age 73, Dylan hasn’t performed on a Letterman show in 22 years. The last time was in 1993, which was the first season the show played on CBS. As for the final show on May 20, the guests will be a slew of surprises, including a final Top Ten.

Changing the Landscape of Late Night Forever

With the departure of Letterman, late night viewers are awaiting the fall when Stephen Colbert will transition into this more serious role, a departure from his farcical portrayal as the faux conservative character he has played on The Colbert Report. This is not the only change taking late night by storm. In addition, Craig Ferguson completes his tenure on The Late Late Show also on CBS in December 2015. His replacement, the British comedian James Corden who starred on Broadway in One Man, Two Guvnors, will not begin until March 2016. It is unclear if there will be guest hosts in the interim between Letterman and Colbert, although CBS has announced that there will be guest hosts for The Late Late Show between Ferguson and Corden. In any case, the set for the Late Show with David Letterman will be torn down at the Ed Sullivan Theatre, making the way for Stephen Colbert to do his best to step into those very worthy shoes.

Neil Patrick Harris to Host New NBC Variety Show

Eyeing a Fall 2015 Premiere on NBC

Hedwig Neil Patrick Harris Black TieOn October 27, 2014, it was announced that Neil Patrick Harris would be hosting a new variety TV show to premiere on NBC, in the style of the British show Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, which is produced by ITV. ITV has agreed to make a ten episode season to air on NBC, with Harris as host. Harris was reportedly drawn to this format in particular, believing that it best suits his strengths. The previous May, Harris had turned down an offer from CBS to replace David Letterman as host of The Late Show upon his departure, a position that has been given to Stephen Colbert. At the time, he told Rolling Stone Magazine that he would get bored in the traditional late night format, and that he would rather take on a variety show project. The fact that he was offered the position must have given him confidence that he had the star power to find a way to live that dream. This opportunity came in the form of a partnership with ITV, after finding their Saturday Night Takeaway show to be hilarious and perfect for him as a performer. The show will be filmed in front of a live studio audience by ITV Studios America.

Upsetting the Writers Guild

Though Harris and ITV vehemently deny the accusations, the Writers Guild of America East has called out ITV for not employing union writers for their shows, a trend they may expect to continue with this extremely high profile variety show project with Neil Patrick Harris. The WGA has been in a long standing battle with ITV over efforts to unionize the company, and now over 175 unionized writers in the comedy and variety genre have signed a petition urging the organization to enter into a collective bargaining agreement. Nevertheless, Neil Patrick Harris told the press that a WGA contract was planned for his show, and an ITV spokesperson also explained that the accusations were in error, as a separate and binding agreement was underway regarding that series in particular. Regarding the claims that the company is generally at fault for their hiring activities, the spokesperson also said that they are working on resolving the majority of issues. Still, this is a big money game – Ant and Dec, the creators of ITV’s Saturday Night Takeaway, reportedly pocketed 15 million pounds for the rights to their concept, given that it has become an international hot commodity with Harris in the host position.

Neil Patrick Harris: A Versatile Performerneil patrick harris

The variety show format appeals to Harris as it will allow him to flex his muscles. It will include a combination of comedy sketches, musical performances, celebrity pranks, game activities, and A-list guests. Guests are said to include Lady Gaga, One Direction, and Katie Perry, and many more yet to be announced. Harris was most recently in the public spotlight as host of the 87th Annual Academy Awards on February 22, 2015. He has twice hosted the Primetime Emmy Awards (2009 and 2013), in addition to being nominated for 9 Primetime Emmys, winning 5. Of these 5 Emmy wins, 4 were for hosting the Tony Awards. Therefore, he has proven his chops as an awards show host, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. He recently debuted the role of Hedwig in the Broadway premiere of Hedwig and the Angry Inch by John Cameron Mitchell, winning the Tony Award for Best Lead Actor in a Musical. He is also very well known for his role as Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother, as well as his teenage role as Doogie Howser, M.D.

America Got Talent AGT Begins Audition Shows in NJPAC

America’s Got Talent Audition Show At NJPAC Review

It is the tenth season of America’s Got Talent (AGT) TV show and to celebrate they taped two audition shows NJPAC in newark New Jerseya day for the entire week beginning March 2nd, 2015 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) located in Newark, New Jersey. The ten taped shows were then edited/spliced together and broadcast as four single shows in June 2015, to kick off AGT’s season. This is the only time that AGT will be at this location this season and they intend to resume their confusing changes of location in the regular season to Pier 92, MSG Theater and Radio City Music Hall for the in-season shows. Many of the audition acts that are taped get deleted in the editing stage, so anyone at the taping may have seen something that will never air.

The Perfect Demographic To See The Show

Howie Mandel at America's Got Talent

Each show at the NJPAC is a four-hour taping marathon and seeing it being taped live, in person, can be a poor experience for many people. But, If you are an older person, or have a young family, this show is perfect for you as you are already a good match for the sweet spot of the actual TV viewing demographic.

The only problem is that the advertisers do not want you. They want the single 18-35 demographic and there are very few of those people actually at the taping or even watching it on TV.

Seeing the show taping live, in-person, feels like it was lifted from a non-descriptive, washed-up theme park somewhere in the mid-west. Other parts of show feel like you are on a Carnival Cruise, watching a second rate production that is rocking back and forth. The corny warm-up guy, the cheesy set and the over-the-top reactions of everyone in the production could be just the ticket at ClevelandWorld or Universal Ohio, but this taping actually feels depressing. With the older audience members going to the bathroom every five minutes and young children standing on their chairs screaming, many middle-aged theatregoers would be horrified with the audience antics. When the warm-up guy, Tom Kelly (who loves to keep promoting the Tom Kelly Show, whatever that is), works the crowd for the biggest fan scream, you know you are in trouble. It never ceases to amaze what people will do for a free tee-shirt at this show. Its a tee-shirt and it costs nothing, but its about the only thing that NBC is giving away for free.

The Show Gets Off To A Rocky Start

Standing outside the theater, the first experience of the show is the confusion caused by the audience management team about which line of people was first. It ends up with all the people who arrived first, going in last, at the back of the orchestra seats, behind everyone else, which causes a great deal of ill-will from the get-go. When everyone was finally loaded into the theater, the NJPAC is only about one-third full and the audience management team moved everyone to one side of the theater, to make it appear that the theater is actually much fuller than it is. They also put a few people on the mezzanine to make things look fuller to the camera, but it is clear there are still hundreds of seats free in the back of the orchestra, which are actually closer to the stage and have a better view, but producers care more about how it looks on TV than the actual experience for an audience member.

There are no large TV screens in the theater to help people who are far away to see better, so anyone not in the front rows will not have the ability to see an act clearly, especially their facial expressions, which is something you would normally see at home. For some of the acts, many of the audience members start booing well before the act has even got underway because they are unable to see the subtle nuance of what is actually going on stage.

TTom Kelly at comedy clubom Kelly, The Warm Up Comedian Fails To Ignite The Crowd

This TV show, much like other TV shows in New York City has a warm-up guy to get the crowd going. In this case it is Tom Kelly, who has worked on many other New York TV shows. It might be the fact that he is doing two shows a day that is killing him, but Kelly was not funny and often just annoying – especially after dedicating a full thirty minutes (yes, thirty minutes) on a how-to-clap part that killed any natural audience reaction during the show. In the first half of the show there were over forty six forced standing ovations. By the end of the show it was over eighty.

The acts were good, but not that good. Kelly tried to fill in the gaps between taping with some clever banter, but was only able to make jokes at the expense of some orthodox Jews, some old people and some young black men. His multiple Fifty Shades of Grey references were way too inappropriate for the children at the show and he should know better. His failing grade at this show underlines NBC’s selfish interest to deliver good TV and treat the studio audience like idiots.

Nick Cannon Does Not Host The Live Show

Contrary to popular belief, although Nick Cannon does appear briefly on stage at the theater, Cannon is not the show host at the theater and gets very little stage time. He does, however, become the show host on TV, as he is always on the side of the stage talking to to the camera, which the theater audience is not privy to. Audience members at the theater do not get to see him until the TV editing is complete and he is added back into the process and then broadcast.

The Acts On The Show

The show consists of twenty audition acts, wrapped into the four hours of taping. The long hours of taping wear thin on the judges who have been banging out two shows all week long. On a couple of occasions, Howard Stern indicates that an act is “actually making me depressed”, but it was not the act that was causing his unhappiness, it may have been the show itself.bored-judges-618x254

Each half of this show was two hours long with ten acts per half. Many of the acts in the show were quite interesting, especially during the audition phase, where anything could pop up, especially the “possibly oedipal” mother and son ballet dancers, but the taping process is so long and drawn out that any natural enjoyment of the show is fully diluted. The audience gets restless, if not bored, by Tom Kelly’s repetitious lines of “who wants to be on TV” and “let’s give another round of applause to..” uttered over a mind numbing fifty times. Watching this TV show in person is perfect for those that want an afternoon out with the kids at no cost, but for anyone with a brain, it may be better to watch paint dry and wait for the edited versions of the show to be broadcast on TV where you do not have to undergo mindless hours of delay, repetition and boredom during the taping.

NBC and the AGT producers are not really interested in improving the audience experience at this live show event and are mainly focused on just making a good TV show for the camera. This being said, the live audience at this show is often an after-thought and they are mainly used as a prop, rather than the human beings that they actually are. Tickets to the audition shows are available on the day of the show and on their website and they are often desperate for audience members, because seeing this show live is just not that popular, despite its ratings according to Nielsen.