Jon Reed Goes Off On... October 2006
Tuesday, October, 31 2006
Song Whoring Update with The Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Wonder, Playtex and Friends
Musicians and their creepy caretakers continue to sell songs that matter at a soul-crushing rate. My ability to track the whoring will be limited until I am able to hire a full time representative to wade through the carnage. But in the meantime, let's take a sleazy trip through some of the most bone-headed song sales in recent months. The Stones, needless to say, fare prominently. "You Can't Always Get What You Want," perhaps the most important song of the 60s, was somehow deemed an especially good fit for Coca Cola products (strange, I always thought of Diet Pepsi when I heard that song). "Thank You (Falettin Me Be Mice Elf Agin)," that Sly and the Family Stone chestnut, turns out to have something to do with Playtex tampons. Queen's "We Are the Champions" has some connection to rock hard erections (Viagra), whereas Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain" is evidently a perfect symbol of Merrill Lynch's fierce loyalty to its financial services customers. Merrill Lynch's massive corporate transaction volumes are most accurately portrayed by scenes of bulls running free across the plains. Stevie Wonder held off on selling "Superstitious" until he got an offer from Levi's Jeans, the product he had in mind when he originally wrote the song. In an irony that surely put a smile on Mick Jagger's money-grubbing face, "Time is On My Side" went to Revlon. That song is about nothing if it's not about maintaining your beauty through cosmetic products. There's a few untouchable songs that are still untouched. We'd be advised to consider them all endangered, as those responsible for musical legacies have no apparent interest other than lining fat wallets. In this case, time is surely not on our side.
Tuesday, October, 10 2006
ESPN Dumbs Down NFL Primetime
ESPN landed Monday Night Football and proceeded to lay programming eggs, starting with the mutation of "NFL Primetime." Chris Berman's shtick has solidified into granite, but even the accumulated weight of his bad verbal ideas couldn't ruin Primetime. For 19 years, the pared-down "just give me the highlights" action on NFL Primetime was THE way to wind down the football weekend. Of course, Sunday "Primetime" is no more, supplanted by a ridonkulous four-man NBC highlight show with Sterling Sharpe to jazz it up with his special brand of analyst performance art while three other stiffs peer out from behind fantasy geek stats. Yes, the ghost of Primetime can be found in the Berman-Jackson "Blitz" embedded in SportsCenter. But watching SportsCenter these days is not much better than watching that ladder infomercial. It doesn't help that ESPN has thirty-four different programs all called "The Blitz."
Officially, the death of Primetime was not all ESPN's fault. It was the result of NBC signing an exclusive to do a highlight show before midnight on Sunday. For reasons known only in the bowels of ESPN, they chose not to fight NBC for the Sunday highlight package or air Primetime at midnight as they should have done. Now, "Primetime" airs on Monday, hosted by hot air manufacturer Stuart "Dream Job" Scott. The MNF fallout goes further: Sunday evening, ESPNews used to team up Sean Salisbury and Mike Ditka for some no-prisoners NFL recaps. It was another substantial recap show. Now, ESPNews Sunday is yet another "Blitz," with one analyst allowed on the set at a time, likely the result of NBC holding the Sunday night highlight cards. Monday ESPN coverage has also been compromised by Monday Night Football hype. Monday used to be ESPN's "rehash the weekend" day, full of opportunities to catch good analysis.
On "Mike and Mike in the Morning," Mike Ditka used to sit in with the other Mikes for a solid hour of Sunday look-backs, with Ditka throwing barbs while the other Mikes enthusiastically agreed with him. Then, Ditka would switch to ESPNews and team up with Eric Allen for an afternoon of news conferences and analysis. But all that's gone now. Ditka usually swings by the MNF promo shows later Monday, but even he can't stop Stuart and Pals from doing whatever it is they do so badly. We all know the score: sports is about ratings and Monday is about ESPN catering to casual fans. ESPN knows hardcore fans are stuck with them. Oh well, at least Kenny Mayne is tied up with horseracing. Maybe ESPN's decisions make financial sense, maybe not. But there's no harm in throwing the red replay flag on ESPN's decision to dumb down its football coverage.