Getting Dirty

What Everyone Is Talking About

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NEW YORK ( -- Halfway through last week's series premiere of "Dirt" on FX, Courteney Cox Arquette's bitch-on-heels tabloid editor refers to herself as a "journalist," much to the derision of her co-workers. Any media hound worth their weight in Us Weeklys would recognize this as a jab at Bonnie Fuller, but most of the premiere's 3.4 million viewers likely tuned in to see if the former "Friend" was going to act less like Monica and more like Gale Weathers, her tabloid TV reporter in the "Scream" movies. But once they realize that Cox is not running from a serial killer but instead running a magazine, will they stop watching? Watercooler thinks they will. And we were in the camp that really, really wanted to like it.
Courteney Cox Arquette stars as an, um, journalist in FX's 'Dirt.'
Courteney Cox Arquette stars as an, um, journalist in FX's 'Dirt.'

Cox isn't the only "Friend" suffering this malady. Her former co-star Matthew Perry is learning about just how much audience interest -- or lack thereof -- there is in inside-media shows with NBC's hanging-by-a-thread "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." The hour-long drama has suffered in ratings all season but continues to attract the network's coveted "upscale" viewership. It's likely that the majority, if not all, of the 4 million "upscale" viewers are media professionals or Hollywood types, seemingly the only demo that's tuning in to this kind of programming.

NBC's similarly themed half-hour comedy "30 Rock" continues to pull in middling ratings despite a move to Thursdays, while HBO's choir-preaching "Extras" and "The Comeback" (which starred another "Friends" alum, Lisa Kudrow) both had Tinseltown-heavy premises and underwhelming first seasons on HBO, with only the former getting picked up for a second.

The only exceptions to Hollywood's misguided love affair with itself -- ABC's "Ugly Betty" and HBO's "Entourage" -- are the shows that have found a middle ground between relatable characters and behind-the-scenes minutiae. "Sex and the City" happened to have a columnist and publicist as its main characters, but they were also sex-starved, pun-prone and best friends in New York City, thus equaling a hit.

For "Dirt" to overcome the Hollywood curse and survive for a second season, FX may be wise to tone down the raunch and portray Cox in a less harsh, more "Devil Wears Prada"-esque light. Monica Priestley, anyone?
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