Sunday, August 21, 2016

TV: Poor sports and strip teases

"Check the Academy," Joan Crawford intoned.


We were reminded of the late film actress over and over this month.

For example, when viewing the highly over praised and extremely disappointing Olympics.

Since 2000, NBC has butchered the Olympics.  That was the year they went with Katie Couric 'intimate portraits' of competitors and had serious problems airing a live event "live."

NBC's well earned reputation for disappointing on the Olympics probably impacted the ratings.

From the opening night (which NBC did not broadcast live), the network was setting records -- all the wrong kind -- as the broadcast became the lowest Olympic broadcast opening since 1992.

How bad was it?

Frank Pallotta (CNN) observed, "The network may even have to compensate advertisers for lower-than-expected viewership by giving them free ads later."

The industry bible VARIETY spun madly trying to hide the ratings failure by ignoring the huge ratings drop and instead noting that -- in a summer of repeats and cheap programming -- the Olympics ruled US ratings -- as though being on top of a garbage heap made up for the fact that you were . . . part of a garbage heap to begin with.

False hopes that the ratings would improve as the games processed quickly vanished.

Soon Gerry Smith (BLOOMBERG) was pointing out, "Prime-time broadcast viewership has been down about 17 percent compared to the London games four years ago.  And in the 18-to-49-year-old age group coveted by advertisers, it's been even worse.  That audience has been 25 percent smaller, according to Bloomberg Intelligence."

It was one disappointment after another.

Take the judo match.

The winner, Or Sasson (Israel), attempted to shake hands with his losing opponent Islam El Shehaby (Egypt) who refused.

It recalled another poor sport moment of the month -- when former CIA operative Gloria Steinem sat down with Katie Couric -- now far from the Olympics, in exile on YAHOO NEWS.

The sit down followed the announcement that Kellyanne Conway would be Donald Trump's new campaign manager and, in the process, become the first woman to run a Republican presidential campaign.

Instead of feeling the love, the elderly and balding Gloria whined in that annoyingly nasal way, "It's like seeing an anti-semitic candidate being managed by a Jewish person. It's not heartening at all.  I can't imagine why she's doing it."

As Cher might say, what a ___.

Feminism is about choices.

Kellyanne's choice is her choice.

It's a valid choice.

Congratulations to her.

Gloria would rather tear the woman down.

It's so interesting that Gloria feels she can rip a woman apart.

This would be the same attention-seeking Gloria who raved to WOMEN'S WEAR DAILY in September of 1971, "Henry's the only interesting person in the whole Nixon Administration and he's not afraid of hostile reporters.  I enjoy talking with him.  He's the only person on the Nixon team who can talk."

That's War Criminal Henry Kissinger that Gloria's breathlessly slobbering over.

At the height of his War Crimes.

And Gloria also dated him.

Yeah, she did.

She denies it -- the same way she lies about her part in spying on and exposing 'reds' for the CIA -- but others remember it.  For example, when she turned 80 a few years back, her friend George Mitrovich shared some memories at HUFFINGTON POST including "Dr Kissinger and Gloria were then seeing one another" in the early seventies.

She also dated Stanley Pottinger in her time as a feminist.  When Orlando Letelier was killed by a DC bombing, Pottinger would be accused of helping to cover up the terrorist attack.  (Letelier was the Chilean Ambassador to the US when Salvador Allende was President of Chile.)  Pottinger would also be accused of attempting to thwart investigations in the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

There was also Gloria's four year affair with Republican and racist Mortimer B. Zuckerman. The relationship was serious enough for Mort to loan MS. (then headed by Gloria) $700,000 to stay afloat and to give it and the foundation $406,151 (a gift, not a loan, and never repaid because it was a gift).

Despite that and so much more, she's going to slime another woman for her choices?

Neither Gloria Steinem nor Islam El Shehaby know what competition or good sport means.

Rude manners was the least of the Olympics problems this go round.

Russia's Yuliya Efimova won two silver medals in swim competitions but had to endure being "booed by spectators" and having a US swimmer, Lilly King, sniff that Yuliya and her teammates shouldn't have been allowed at the Olympics.

The antidote to the Glorias, Islams and Lillys?  Nikki Hamblin (New Zealand) and Abbey D'Agostino (US) after colliding during a race.

But if there was a theme to the Rio games, it would have to be: Take it off!!!

There were the Mongolian wrestling coaches who took the stage and began stripping in protest when their wrestler Ganzorig Mandakhnaran lost.

There was American gymnist Danell Leyva who, in the middle of his routine, "starts gyrating provocatively," "took the top part of his leotard off"  and goes on "to put on a strip show on the parallel bars."  PEOPLE observed, "It appeared Leyva started a trend too, Ukraine's Oleg Verniaiev followed his lead, removing his shirt during his high-flying routine at the gala later."

There was Ukraine's synchronized swimmer Anna Voloshyna doing her own strip tease before competing.

In fact, Susannah Guthrie (Australia's NEW DAILY) observed as the games started:

Olympic athletes are showing off their perfectly honed physiques in an effort to entice people to watch them compete in Rio.
This year’s Games have seen an amped-up fascination with the physiques of the competitors, as fans fawn over rippling abs and athletes share scantily clad selfies.
The trend kicked off after the Opening Ceremony on Saturday (AEST) with Tonga’s oiled-up flag bearer, taekwondo star Pita Nikolas Taufatofua, stealing the show and putting his small island nation in the global spotlight.

But it started even before that.

And not with the US male gymnastic team floating rumors that they'd be competing shirtless or Australia's hurdle champ Michelle Jenneke "revealing photos on Instagram."

It started before the games or even opening ceremonies as England's rugby players Danielle Waterman, Amy Wilson-Hardy, Heather Fisher, Claire Allen and Michaela Staniford stripped down for a photo for WOMEN'S HEALTH to promote body confidence.

There were other baring moments.

Such as when Great Britain's tennis champ Andy Murray bared his knowledge of the sport by correcting BBC reporter John Inverdale who said Andy was the first to win two Olympic gold medals in the sport.  Responded Andy, "I think Venus and Serena [Williams] have won about four each."

The US female soccer team's Hope Solo bared a different side: rude and ugly.  After losing to the Swedish team, Solo declared, ". . . I also think we played a bunch of cowards.  The best team did not win today."

Bad sports were topped by liars.

US swimmer Ryan Lochte detracted more from the Olympics than anyone else with his "over-exaggerated" claims following interaction with security guards.

But should he have been so much the focus?

Lia Timson (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD) reported, "Brazilian police have arrested Patrick Hickey, an Irish member of the International Olympic Committee, in connection with a Rio 2016 ticketing scam embroiling an Irish ticketing company and international hospitality conglomerate associated with previous Olympics."  Rebecca R. Ruiz (NEW YORK TIMES) added, "Europe's top Olympic official, arrested at an oceanside hotel here this week for scalping tickets to the Rio Games, has denied bail and sent to Rio's Bangu Penitentiary Complex, a maximum-security jail."

Seems to us that's a bit more important than drama queen Lochte's false claims.

And while you could run from the Olympics, running from Lochte's story was harder due to Lochte actually being a name and discussed at length beyond the sports circles.

Those trying to watch TV beyond the Olympics should have realized what a huge and disappointing wasteland the whole thing had become.


The Independent Film Channel?

Pioneering weak and cowardly programming with a block of such 'independent' films as ROCKY (I) through ROCKY V.


JOE DIRT and other non-laugh films flooded the non-choices.

Robert Redford's SUNDANCE CHANNEL became SUNDANCE TV and, in the process, became one more sad slate of bad programming.


That 50s western taking up so much weekend air time?

Are they unaware that METV turns Saturdays over to westerns (and Monday through Friday during the day)?  That SONY's GET TV turns Saturdays over to westerns?  That NBC's COZY TV turns Saturdays over to westerns?

There's actually a glut of western programming on TV.

How very sad that Redford's dream has metastasized into a network showing THE RIFLEMAN and films like EL DORADO, PALE RIDER and BIG JAKE.

How sad for all the so-called choices we have.


If you want DR. WHO marathons and MATRIX films,  that was the channel for you this summer.


No worries, Gail Anne Hurd's revenge porn of zombies is returning shortly with all new episodes and tons more violence.

You might trying fleeing to TCM.

But there's so little class on TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES.

This August, they've made each day about one film star -- people like Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift . . . .

But to get to those good films, you've had to listen to so much inane chatter.

The lead in to KEY LARGO, for example, featured the vapid claim that the best performance in this film -- starring Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Lionel Barrymore and Edward G. Robinson -- was by Claire Trevor.

The basis for this claim?

Only Claire won an Academy Award for the film.

How this supporting win means best performance in the film went unaddressed (as did the mediocre competition Trevor faced for the award).

Even more irritating was Ben Mankiewicz.

Why wear a suit and tie when you look like a schlub?

Why not get it pressed?

And, more importantly, cleaned?

But best of all, why not know what you're talking about?

Did you know Bette Davis was nominated 11 times for Best Actress by the Academy Awards?


It never happened.

Bette frequently claimed -- as Ben did on TCM over the weekend -- that she was nominated for OF HUMAN BONDAGE.

Joan Crawford told journalist Shaun Considine in 1973, "She was not nominated as Best Actress for OF HUMAN BONDAGE.  Miss Davis keeps perpetuating that myth.  It's incorrect.  Check the Academy."

Crawford was correct.

But if TV couldn't broadcast false claims, what would they be left with?

The Olympics drew viewers.

Not enough, but some.

Not enough to miss being this century's worst showing.

People kept arguing that the numbers would improve as the games progressed.

That never happened.

By the end?

Rick Porter (TV BY THE NUMBERS) pointed out, "The final night of competition in the 2016 Summer Olympics was not a good one in terms of TV ratings.  NBC's coverage posted a 3.5 rating in adults 18-49 and 14.55 million viewers, the lowest of the games by a pretty wide margin."

It was a bust and ended as such.

Like the opening, the closing ceremonies weren't aired live.

They also weren't  worth watching.

Unless you enjoy seeing a graceless group of 'dancers' either sitting on their ass 'rhythmically' or rolling rectangles.

What's worse than that?

Why putting them in skorts.

So, of course, they were put in skorts.

It was a long promotion for the Summer Olympics moving to Tokyo next.

In the end, the whole thing was as creepy as the new McDonald's ad featuring a bad male version of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" while a young girl is either courted by her father or a pedophile -- viewers are never sure which.

Creeping and confusing -- that would be the lasting images of 2016's Summer Olympics.

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