Thursday, November 08, 2007

No deal between MSNBC and Rosie (Whew! That was close!)

The other day, I wrote about MSNBC and their talks with Rosie O'Donnell, about the possibility of adding her show to air after Keith Olbermann. Well, those flirtations didn't last long. It appears MSNBC backed out of the deal.

Some rumors claim that money was the dealbreaker, or that O'Donnell would not commit for more than one year. MSNBC wanted a long-term commitment. Still, one might speculate that possible media blowback from the negotiation rumors could have played a part.

On a blog post on her site, she claims that her "career as a pundit is over b4 it began." It was almost a done deal, but she attributes the collapse of the deal to comments she made publicly about it at a Miami book fair over the weekend. Obviously, spilling the beans didn't sit too cool with MSNBC brass. It appears they nixed the deal once and for all.

Why would they entertain signing her for her own news show? Well, she gets ratings. Believe it or not, The View did very well during her short stint, and fell off after she left. Plus, with the Writers Guild strike crippling the late night talk show landscape, NBC/Universal evidently needed a strike-proof Plan B. That's really the only possible explanation.

The killing of the deal is likely sad news for a possible rival, Bill O'Reilly of FOX Noise. His reaction to the possible signing? "Oh, it's on!" The constipated one started his show the other night exclaiming, "Huntley, Brinkley, Chancellor, Brokaw...and now, Rosie" under the headline "Far Left Merger." In other O'Reillyisms, he decried how NBC had "embraced the radical left agenda in pursuit of ratings" and adding his own suggested contributors ("It is not true that Sean Penn will be co-anchoring the NBC Nightly News...It is also not true that Hugo Chavez will become their chief foreign correspondent." Ho hum.

The irony is that O'Reilly was so delusional that he was trying to make as if she would be competing head-to-head with him. Ehh... not so fast, Bill-O. Your competitor is still and will always likely be Keith Olbermann. You know, the one who's name will not pass your lips? Who actually stands a legitimate chance of kicking your ass once and for all by this time next year? Yeah, that guy. But he's much more obsessed with Rosie, so in his weird little world, he's more comfortable bullying women than men.

But now we can all breathe a sigh of relief that it won't come to be. Or at least I can. And now, I can offer up my own personal opinion on the matter, which I neglected to do the other day.

Let's face it, O'Donnell would have been a terrible fit for MSNBC. Or any self-described news channel. She's a walking, talking train wreck, who seems to be more about making news herself than covering or talking about it. Her bombastic style is love-it-or-hate-it. She makes too much news herself, since the mainstream media is obsessed with the off-kilter antics of Hollywood celebrities. That's why we hear so much about Paris Hilton's criminal record and Britney Spears' divorce. And I certainly don't think either of them deserve news commentary shows on MSNBC.

We may have a few things in common politically, but I've never liked Rosie O'Donnell. Going back to her days on VH-1 in the early 90's, I thought she was one of the most obnoxious people I've ever seen on television. For a comedian, I never thought she was funny. Just irritating. I turned the channel whenever she came on. She went on to do movies that I made sure not to watch. Then there was that daytime talk show, but I don't watch daytime TV. And then The View, which I avoided like the plague anyway. If I want to watch people scream at each other, Jerry Springer is a more entertaining choice.

All in all, despite her outspoken political views, she would make a poor pundit. Sure, MSNBC would get a ton of press out of the deal. She gets that reaction out of the media. And I'm sure that's why the network teased the possibility of an O'Donnell deal, without really committing to it. But news commentators should talk about the news, not be the news. And giving her a show would absolutely kill their credibility.

There's talk about seeking out another pundit to host a show in that time slot. Some, such as Cenk Uygur of Air America's The Young Turks have their own suggestions. He offers up Air America hosts such as Rachel Maddow, who already does some work for MSNBC and would actually be a good move if MSNBC were to take a left turn, and even NBC's David Shuster, who actually would be a strong choice.

Currently, Dan Abrams' show seems to be a temporary thing, and while it is good, is not effectively holding on to the audience of red-hot lead-in Olbermann. Joe Scarborough couldn't do it before him either. And the rest of MSNBC's nightly lineup consists of prison documentaries and pedophile snaring.

But enough of the screaming pundit approach. That's played out, and it's bad enough that a channel called 'Headline News' airs Glenn Beck marathons all weekend. I have a novel solution to their quandry. How about a show featuring real news? You know, like CNN did when Ted Turner ran the joint. Or like we still see on BBC News, Nightline, the News Hour on PBS, occasionally on Anderson Cooper's CNN show, and other places? Likely, Olbermann can attribute his success to covering news stories not shown on other outlets. When has FOX Noise ever done an actual story on waterboarding? We're not talking about two pundits screaming at each other over it, we're talking about covering it as an actual story. MSNBC could tread where most cable outlets don't seem to go anymore, and most certainly not in the 9-10P ET hour with Larry King on CNN and Asshat and Doormat on FAUX. Sure, NBC might not have the global news coverage muscle that CNN and FOX have, but those guys squander it anyway, and MSNBC has more than enough to work with.

Some might say that doing real news is a ratings killer, that more people tune in to catch the latest exploits of Paris, Britney and Dog the Bounty Hunter. But the news channels need to constantly come up with new ideas. Because people will eventually tire of the TMZ approach to news, and with an important election on the horizon, and the growing woes of rising oil prices, environmental issues, international strife, shoddy health care, and a Congress that spends more time bickering with each other than getting shit done, people are going to want to find out what exactly is going on in the world. The exploits of Britney Spears, and even Rosie O'Donnell, will be the least of our concerns.


ltr said...

Unfortunately, while MSNBC is trying to forge a different path, CNN is still trying to suck up to FOX Nuisance viewers. They hired William Bennett as a commentator. Sheesh! Will they ever learn?

Jill said...

Rachel Maddow and David Shuster would be a terrific team. Throw in a rotating team of bloggers and you'd have a truly groundbreaking show that would keep Olbermann's audience. And if there was a role for Marc Maron -- some kind of regular commentary -- so much the better.

I too am relieved that it isn't going to be Rosie O'Donnell. That had Trojan Horse written all over it.

ctk said...

this is a purely selfish wish, but i would like to see max kellerman return to regular television with his own show. he was a part of msnbc as a panelist on "the situation with tucker carlson" (dunno if he still is on tucker's show because my GAWD he is absolutely horrid) but his ex-producer bill wolff is there filling in for willie geist.

if you can convince michael holley to get on board, i don't see why msnbc can't make it happen. they already have an ex-sports guy doing phenomenal in the ratings and i think max has the personality to carry an hour every night.

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