Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dec. 3: Sniglets On Salahis, NBC, PBS, PGA and Bobby Bowden

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Of course Tareq and Michaele Salahi don't want to testify in front of Congress. After all, the House Homeland Security Committee won't pay them to do so.

The committee should go ahead with a subpeona, and show the gate-crashing Salahis what a true reality show is.


Aside from the fact that the United States Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission may have a few things to say about Comcast's purchase of a controlling stake of NBC Universal, the other disturbing part about the deal is that Comcast is keeping CEO Jeff Zucker.

One wonders whether Zucker knows the skeletons in the closets of those he works for, because it certainly isn't the quality of NBC programming that keeps him in his job.

The feathers have just about all fallen off the once-proud Peacock. The network that gave us Bob Hope, Bill Cosby and Must-See TV has turned into an almost complete wasteland, with only Brian Williams' newscast and the pandering Today show breaking the bleak word on ratings.

The gamble of Jay Leno at 10 p.m. is not working so far, and the same is true of an uncomfortable Conan O'Brien in the Tonight Show spot where Allen, Paar, Carson and Leno ruled.

Otherwise, the prime-time lineup consists of a combination of a couple of shows, including "30 Rock," that appeal to critics and the coasts but not Middle America; leftovers like the "Law & Order" programs - and garbage, otherwise known as reality shows.

It's worse than during the late 1970s and early 1980s, when NBC drew snickers for shows like "Manimal."

Where have you gone, Bill Cosby and Steven Bochco?

Jeff Zucker, unfortunately, is still there. He shouldn't be.


While NBC sinks lower and lower, PBS, normally an oasis of quality, sinks to its pledge drive level - dark and dreary during the holiday season. Is an Ed Sullivan retrospective on rock and rollers the best they can do?

How much would it cost PBS to mine its rich, more than 40-year-old treasure trove of programs, including "Upstairs, Downstairs," classic editions of "Live From Lincoln Center/Live From the Met," "Dance In America" and "Masterpiece Theater" (not to mention Ken Burns' past series) to raise money? It would be a lot better than those self-help infomercials they wouldn't be caught dead running in their normal schedule.

PBS' calls for help need help.


A cautionary note for the Professional Golfers Association as its leaders scratch their heads over what's been going on with Tiger Woods: Remember Tonya and Nancy.

Figure skater Tonya Harding's enlistment of her bodyguard to attack fellow skater Nancy Kerrigan just before the 1994 United States Figure Skating Championships created a scandal and gave the sport a collection of rubbernecking followers for a while - a fallout that artificially boosted figure skating's popularity. When the rubberneckers inevitably drifted away, that, combined with the 2002 Olympic judging scandal, plunged the sport into a commercial abyss in the United States from which it has yet to dig itself out.

The PGA should not rely on scandal to make its money. In the end, it will only hurt.


Finally, so long to Bobby Bowden after 33 years as head coach of the Florida State Seminoles' football team.

Most of his tenure was storybook: Two national championships, multiple honors as Coach of the Year and lots of stars sent to the National Football League.

In recent years, though, the headlines have not been so kind. There was scrutiny of his salary, the highest among State of Florida employees. A cheating scandal may cost FSU 14 wins. Recent seasons were mediocre. Finally, FSU boosters and trustees started making noise that Bowden had to go.

He does go - and deserves to - with his head held high nonetheless.

But it's still impossible for this daughter of a UM alumnus to resist two words: Wide Right.

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