December 31st, 2009
05:03 PM ET

Another cable channel losing its niche?

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Every few years or so, GSN (formerly known as Game Show Network) tries to stray away from its original model of being the home for classic and new game shows.  Occasionally, those moves into uncharted territory have worked, such as the Sunday night staple "High Stakes Poker."

But, more often than not, GSN's efforts to tackle "reality" shows and the like have failed.   Anyone remember the horse racing-themed "American Dream Derby" or the Chuck Woolery-centric "Naturally Stoned"?  Neither lasted long.

Now, GSN is stepping out of its traditional realm once again.  Next month, the channel will premiere a "reality" show chronicling the life of "Newlywed Game" host Carnie Wilson, as well as a "hidden camera" comedy game called "Hidden Agenda."  The game show Web site BuzzerBlog is also reporting that GSN is also considering a "reality" show about women who play the dice game Bunco, as well as weight loss show.

What makes GSN unique is that, despite its flaws, it is generally a cable channel targeting a specific market - fans of game shows and games in general.  And it's one of the last of the true "niche" cable networks.

Years ago, many cable channels were like that.  Bravo and A&E used to be tailored to fans of fine arts, while TLC was home to educational fare.  MTV, VH1 and CMT were your homes for all things music, primarily videos.

Now, they all seem to be going after the same audience, broadcasting the same obnoxious "reality" shows and other "in your face" pop culture fare.  If it weren't for the network branding on the corner of the TV screen, I couldn't tell the stations apart.

I can understand why cable channels turn this way - it attracts the eyes of the demographics that advertisers crave, and leads to higher ad rates for the channels.  But shouldn't there also be room for entertainment channels that target those outside the demo?

Perhaps GSN will learn that lesson and stay true to its original calling when this experiment comes to an end.  Then again, I could see it following the leader and become just another channel.

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Filed under: television
December 31st, 2009
04:49 PM ET

Interview magazine picks decade's most beautiful

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We in the media continue to gorge ourselves on year and decade end lists of the best and the worst of just about everything. Interview magazine joined the fray this week with their picks for the 20 most beautiful people of the past decade.

Among the pretty picks are Zac Efron, Colin Farrell, Chace Crawford and Natalie Portman.

Ashley Greene and Robert Pattinson both made the list, though Kristen Stewart was noticeably absent (pouting isn't cute?). FULL POST

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Filed under: Angelina Jolie • Brad Pitt • movies • Zac Efron
December 31st, 2009
02:20 PM ET

First look at 'Saturday Night Live' 2010 lineup

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"Saturday Night Live" has announced its first two celebrity hosts and musical guests for next year.

On January 9, basketball great Charles Barkley will host with Alicia Keys performing. This will be Barkley's second time hosting.

The following week, "Avatar's" Sigourney Weaver will take over, with musical guest The Ting Tings.

It's been a rough season so far for "SNL." In September, the show announced it was canning cast members Michaela Watkins and Casey Wilson. FULL POST


Filed under: Taylor Swift • television
December 31st, 2009
01:12 PM ET

Peter Jackson knighted in his native New Zealand

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Just call him Sir Peter. The Oscar-winning writer and director of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, Peter Jackson, has been named a knight in his home country of New Zealand.

"I didn't think anything would surpass the 2004 Academy Awards, but I was wrong," Jackson said in a statement.

This is the first time knighthood has been conferred in the country since 2000 when it was abolished by former Prime Minister Helen Clark. FULL POST

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Filed under: Celebrities • movies
December 31st, 2009
12:45 PM ET

2009: Hey, remember when ...

It's been a tough year for many people, and with a new year looming, it's natural to want to put the past behind us.  But let's end 2009 on a positive note.  What are your favorite entertainment memories from the past 12 months?  Movies that moved you, music that touched you, TV shows that delighted you, books that changed your life?

No need to slag other people's choices if you don't like them – just add your own.

Oh, OK ... if you simply must have an "arbitrary" list of faves to criticize, here are a few of my favorite things from 2009:

Movies: "Star Trek," "Up In The Air," "Pirate Radio," "Up" (I still have some movies to see!)

TV: "NCIS," "Numb3ers," "Men of a Certain Age," "Eureka" and "Warehouse 13" on SyFy (please, change the network name back!), the Kennedy Center Honors (especially the tributes to Springsteen and Brubeck)

Books: "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell; "Age Is Just A Number" by Dara Torres with Elizabeth Weil; "Agent to the Stars" by John Scalzi; "It's Good To Be The King: The Seriously Funny Life of Mel Brooks" by James Robert Parish; "Anansi Boys" by Neil Gaiman; "Green Metropolis" by David Owen; "Soon I Will Be Invincible" by Austin Grossman; "Invisible Lines of Connection" by Lawrence Kusher.  (Obviously, some of these weren't published this year, but I read them this year, so they're part of my 2009.)

Live Performances: magician Jason Latimer at the Magic Castle in Hollywood; the Troubadour Theater Company in Toluca Lake, California.

May 2010 bring us all entertainment that brightens our lives, gladdens our hearts, challenges our minds, and sparks our imaginations.

December 31st, 2009
11:19 AM ET

Gordon Ramsay launching cooking show for beginners

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Kitchen meanie Gordon Ramsay is looking for amateur chefs for his new Fox show, expected to be called “Master Chef.”

This one is just for newbies. Chefs who have spent time in a professional kitchen will not be considered. Ramsay wants folks who love to cook for themselves and their family, but no one with professional training. Think of it as an “American Idol,” but for foodies.

Producers are staging auditions in 12 cities around the country, starting in early January. Interested contenders are required to appear at the auditions with a prepared dish. They will be given five minutes to heat up and plate the dish for the judges. FULL POST

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Filed under: television
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