November 24th, 2009
02:41 PM ET

Giving thanks to TV

It’s Thanksgiving week - the time to consider what we are thankful for. As someone who frequently writes about all things television, for me it means writing about what on TV I’m thankful for.

I am thankful for “Jon and Kate Plus 8” (apparently) coming to an end, and I’m hopeful that the Duggars (TLC’s “18 Kids and Counting”), the Masches (WE’s “Raising Sextuplets”) and the Hayes family (TLC’s “Table for 12”) will do the same.

I am thankful that Fox gave “King of the Hill” a proper sendoff after 13 seasons and more than 250 episodes. The show always seemed to be on the brink of cancellation the last few years, and I feared it would not get the “final episode” treatment that long-running shows deserve.  Thankfully, Fox came through with a two-episode finale in September.

I am thankful that ABC gave “According to Jim” the boot after eight seasons.  For some critics, that was about seven seasons too many.
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Filed under: television
November 24th, 2009
12:33 PM ET

Oprah gives a peek into the future of 'OWN'

If anyone knows the art of the hustle, it’s Oprah. The talk show host, who announced last week that she will end her 25-year reign over daytime television in September, 2011, is already trying to bring fans to her new network, the Oprah Winfrey Network, or OWN, 13 months before it is set to launch.

In an email newsletter sent out to Oprah’s mailing list on Monday night, Oprah took the opportunity to introduce OWN.

“Fifteen years ago, I wrote in my journal that one day I would create a television network, as I always felt my show was just the beginning of what the future could hold. For me, the launch of OWN is an evolution of the work I’ve been doing on television all these years and a natural extension of my show,” Oprah wrote in the email.

Potential viewers are informed that OWN will be taking the place of Discovery Health Channel come January 11, and urged to discuss options for securing the network with their cable providers.

The email directs readers to an advertisement for the network, which seems to try to equate Oprah’s new journey with the personal journey of the viewer, asking the question, “What’s next for you?” Oprah’s only appearance in the ad is a screen shot where she offers and encouraging smile.  But the rest of the ad is filled with smiling, self-assured folks, puppies, ribbons, bows and happy things. The message is that OWN is all about you, the viewer.

The ad offers no real sense of what OWN’s programming will consist of except for the implicit promise that watching it will be a transformative experience.

The message is a good one. It is a very Oprah one, what remains to be seen is how Oprah and OWN will maintain this momentum over the next 13 months. But knowing Oprah, she definitely has a plan.

November 24th, 2009
11:16 AM ET

Will Donny Osmond win 'DWTS?'


Will Donny Osmond pull off an upset tonight on this season’s finale of “Dancing With the Stars?”

It seems possible after an intense evening of competition Monday that ended with the singer receiving his first perfect scores only a week after it looked like he might be kicked off the hit series.

Osmond and his professional dancing partner Kym Johnson and the other two couples left in the show had to dance three routines last night, including two individual numbers and a group “mega mix challenge.”

Kelly Osbourne and her partner Louis Van Amstel first did a kicky, intense Argentine tango. (Those are fun to watch, though whenever I see this tango performed I always feel like the dancers will accidentally kick themselves or each other while doing the flirty leg moves.)

The couple received praise from the judges, though Bruno Tonioli said he wanted more “ripe sensuality.”

Singer Mya and her dancing partner Dmitry Chaplin seemed to solidify their lead after performing a Paso Doble to “We Will Rock You” – a routine that the judges described as flamboyant and amazing and one that received perfect scores.

Osmond and his professional dancing partner Kym Johnson did a nice Cha Cha that earned them three nines. But it was their freestyle dance that had the judges unanimously flashing their “10” paddles. Len Goodman called the Broadway routine an “absolute show stopper,” while Carrie Ann Inaba exclaimed, “Welcome to the hall of fame of the freestyle.”

Mya, on the other hand, disappointed with her “Hairspray” routine, which Inaba called “not outstanding.” Goodman said “it never went anywhere” and Tonioli confessed that he expected something more spectacular.

Osbourne had the crowd on its feet for her freestyle routine set to “I Will Survive,” but the dance seemed to lack some energy and received the lowest score of the three couples.

So, point-wise, Mya is still in the lead, followed by Osmond and Osbourne. But viewer votes could make this a very close one.

Who do you think will win the mirror ball trophy tonight?

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Filed under: Dancing With The Stars • television
November 24th, 2009
08:54 AM ET

A glitch with 'Glee's' Jane Lynch

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Just writing this is difficult. But in re-telling this story, it brings me closer to purging it from my memory banks.

When Jane Lynch walked onto the stage for our interview, I didn't expect her to be taller than 6 feet. She is.

She was friendly and soft-spoken, nothing like the acerbic coach Sue Sylvester she wickedly embodies in primetime's musical joyride "Glee." She granted us an interview prior to her performance in Nora and Delia "Ephron's Love Loss And What I Wore," an off Broadway show she is starring in here in New York.

We didn't have the luxury of time since the theater doors would be opening shortly. So getting through the interview quickly but not rushing was the goal. As my cameraman adjusted his shot we asked Miss Lynch to say a few words so that we could check her microphone level. She smiled and readied herself for my first question.

She uttered the words "This Is CNN." My cameraman said "Speed," letting me know he was rolling. That was my cue to begin the interview.

All was going well - I started off with a few questions about the production. She told me about being in New York for the duration of her run. Then I began to ask her about the massive success of "Glee" and why the American public just seemed ready for a program like it. I was nearing the end of what I thought was a good interview with coach Sue Sylvester, uh Jane Lynch, when suddenly I heard my cameraman say something.

He didn't gently tap me on the shoulder, he didn't whisper something in my ear - he spoke in a tone intended to stop the interview. And it sounded vaguely like: "You're gonna kill me."
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