"The new phone books are here! The new phone books are here!"
-Navin R. Johnson, as played by Steve Martin, in "The Jerk"
like steve martin's jerk, I get way too excited about the release of new media products. (They don't call me "Media Guy"-and, come to think of it, "jerk"-for nothing.) Some thoughts on fall's media launches:
I watched the first few episodes of Martha Stewart's new daytime cooking/crafting/gardening show and while I love Martha and like her vast new set, there's sort of a discomfiting self-satirizing aspect to it in that she won't shut up about her prison past. Most of her time with guest David Spade, for instance, was spent cheerfully answering his sassy questions about life in the clink. And, sheesh, it was "Poncho Day." (Martha and her entire studio audience wore variations on her famous prison-made poncho.) But without her prison anecdotes, Martha probably wouldn't have all that much to talk about that's "relatable."
Prospects: The full hour already feels padded out. Watch for an early-2006 revamp to the brisk half-hour format Martha used to do so well.
Strike a Pose
Since I'm affiliated with a competing title (I'm a contributing editor at Details), I'll graciously refrain from joining in on the beat-down of Men's Vogue (e.g., Peter Carlson of The Washington Post: "drivel"), but I will worry out loud about who the hell Men's Vogue is going to put on the cover now that they've done George Clooney. There just aren't that many sophisticated, rakishly handsome male stars that are worthy of the Vogue brand. In fact, I can think of exactly one: George Clooney. Hollywood clearly can't be bothered to drum up much Men's Vogue-ready male glamour, which makes me wonder how much demand there really is for the Men's Vogue archetypal lifestyle.
Prospects: When I was in Milan this spring, the entire fashion industry was abuzz about The Coming of Men's Vogue. Now that it's here, it's clearly advertiser-friendly enough to make fashionistas feel amply rewarded for their support. Regardless of actual reader demand (see also: Cargo), it will thrive as an ad-packed quarterly.
CBS's new PublicEye blog states that its "most fundamental mission is to bring unprecedented transparency to the editorial operations of CBS News." No, please, make it stop! Can we all agree that from now on, no more journalistic resources will be devoted to second-guessing journalism? I'm really starting to worry that this sort of thing will start spreading to more professions. Like, any minute now, I'm expecting my neighborhood deli to start a public-interest blog. ("Yes, the sliced turkey earlier this week was not so fresh. We lapsed in failing to adhere to our high standards of sandwich-making. Also, Akbar, our kitchen-prep guy, is fighting a really bad cold, and perhaps hasn't been washing his hands as scrupulously as he should have been...")
Prospects: In early 2006, after the price of the $26 cobb salad at Manhattan media bistro Michael's is raised, regulars Les Moonves (CBS president) and Gil Schwartz (the head flack)-confer (over $5.50 espressos) and make the difficult decision to kill off Public Eye for "budgetary reasons." Then they order the white-chocolate cheesecake with raspberry sorbet and raspberry sauce ($10)-with two forks.
Yo! AP Raps
The Associated Press this week kicks off "Asap," its "younger-audience service," complete with multimedia, blog, and wireless elements for readers 18 to 34. OK, remember when, on "The Simpsons," the character Poochie was added to "The Itchy & Scratchy Show" to shore up sagging ratings? He was a beagle with attitude-a Ray-Ban-wearing pup with a surfboard who could skateboard and play basketball at the same time, and he said stuff like, "Catch you on the flip side, dude-meisters!" Young people hated him.
Prospects: In mid-2007, AP Asap gets quietly put down, la Poochie.
"The Apprentice: Martha Stewart," the Motorola ROKR, The Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition, and more!
What do you love and hate about the fall media season, and why? E-mail me and I'll enter you into my drawing for the "Family Guy" straight-to-DVD movie "Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story."
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