Stuff To Hear: The *Original* Soundtrack To’The Winner’

Well in today’s mail I received what I presumed might be a mythical object. Luckily this object is actually 100% real and I now have a copy in my hands (which will be joining others of its kind very soon).

Behold the CD soundtrack to ‘The Winner’ as Director Alex Cox intended it to be:

The story behind my “relentless” search for this CD is that many months ago I learned from Alex Cox, the director of ‘The Winner’ via an answer to an email of mine, that the way ‘The Winner’ was released in most every region is a butchered up, badly edited and incorrectly scored film. In fact if you look at Alex Cox’s website entry for ‘The Winner’:

http://www.alexcox.com/dir_winner.htm

you will see that Alex Cox doesn’t really count it as a film he directed because of just how bad a job the film’s producers did in reediting ‘The Winner’ and changing it’s score behind Cox’s back.

Luckily the Japanese had the good sense to let Cox try to reedit the film and put back Dan Wool, Pray For Rain and Zander Schloss’s soundtrack and gave the film a special theatrical run as the Japanese flyer (chirashi) here shows:

Anyway after much searching and following a cryptic clue on Pray For Rain’s website (where unfortunately Dan Wool and Pray For Rain do not have any mp3 files from ‘The Winner’ available for listening), I finally located what I presumed was something that didn’t exist, a commercially available release of the correct music for ‘The Winner’

The full soundtrack (Toho/Coeur Records CR-0011 if you feel inclined to order a copy for yourself from Japan) is available for your listening enjoyment is here

http://www.musicwebtown.com/vdovault/59419

But you know me, I can’t help posting highlights in my blog entries

Lights Of Las Vegas

Relentless (Main Title)

Phillip Meets Joey

$10,000 De Recompensa

Finally this makes some sense of something that’s always intrigued me about the trailer for ‘The Winner’ (a version of which you can see over at VideoDetective.com)

http://www.videodetective.com/titledetails.aspx?publishedid=8282

This CD explains why the trailer actually has good music (Cox’s intended humorous good music was used) and the film’s music is just awful (the producers put in a cheap crappy substitute soundtrack).

Oh and if I were Cox I’d disassociate myself from what was released everywhere but in Japan…the soundtrack to ‘The Winner’ as the rest of the world has experienced it is only outdone in awfulness by the soundtrack for ‘It Don’t Pay To Be An Honest Citizen’. Frankly a lot of ‘It Don’t Pay’s’ problem is that the sound mix is bad; the soundtrack drowns out a lot of important dialogue which I presume is a problem of the film having such an extremely low budget that the director couldn’t afford to fix the sound problems in post-production. With ‘The Winner’ the problem is apparently artistically challenged interfering producers with zero sense of irony or humor.

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Stuff To Collect: It’s Richard Belzer’s Fault or How I Got Into An Expensive Collecting Habit

Mood music ‘Someone To Talk To’ by The Police

Well in between gathering articles to do some blog posts on the renewal of CI and it’s move to USA (and whether or not VDO will be back next season…given his Herculean effort to deal with the fangurl aria of a script that was the basis of the CI ‘Endgame’ (and briefly stated I think the CI writers should stop catering to fangurl tastes and getting their script ideas from fangurl forums, actually *watch* a LOT more old episodes of CI and then follow their own instincts in writing next season’s scripts), I’ve been doing some fun stuff like talking via email to other cool people with equally cool blogs, such as Carey Henderson’s Speakeasy(x)

This post from Carey entitled Does Any of This Even Make Sense? really struck me as clever and hillarious, especially this part:

“Every Sunday night, Bravo runs Law & Order: Criminal Intent all evening. If you’ve been around me long enough to know that I pretty much only wear black shirts, then you’ve been around me long enough to know that I am a Vincent D’Onofrio fan. Very much so.

He’s sort of a strange cat—private, prone to his principles and not given to jumping into any particular role unless it somehow gives him an opportunity to stretch his acting legs. When you’re pretty and Johnny Depp, Hollywood loves you for that. When you’re average-looking and not Johnny Depp, Hollywood looks at you sideways. So, unless you’re damned good at what you do (as D’Onofrio is), the roles are usually less than forthcoming.

Back to that in a moment.

Watching Bravo is like seeing the goings on of another species on another planet unfold. There are more bratty, strange, spoiled, eccentric, gay, grandstanding, flamboyant people on that network than at a Truman Capote reading by way of Elton John concert. I’d like to think that those particular personality traits don’t lump together and spell out any particular subset of society, yet Bravo seems intent on making folks like me who work for a living and generally have rather placid decorating and fashion sense believe that this is the case. A few times watching the network and the average straight man might begin to think that three or four times a week gay men gather on the couch, nab the razor shears and French architecture magazines and bitch for three hours about straight people and their lack of any sort of sense beyond the innate ability to make everything dull and misunderstand women.

I doubt this is true. But from watching Bravo, as the old Mighty Mighty Bosstones song stated, that’s the impression that I get.

At any rate, Dick Wolf has to be getting close to Aaron Spelling status, as far as the amount of television shows he currently has running that are sometimes indistinguishable from one another. To the unfamiliar eye, the Law & Order franchise must seem a lot like fast food burgers. There’s the original, SVU, CI and Trial by Jury. Most of the roles are filled by attractive people doing attractive things; some saying excellent lines (not all to the credit of the staff writers. Orbach ad-libbed some of the best lines on television during his best days on the original series). The subtleties of the shows are there, and after a few veiwings of each become clear. Yet, on the outset, it seems the format is too close to call.

There’s the familiar Law & Order gavel sound (CLANK-CLANK!), then the black screen,

[black screen with caption ‘Apartment of George Killeddead
South Bronx’]

and, apparently, every fourth apartment in any complex throughout the entirety of New York contains a dead body. The dumpsters contains sexual crimes victims once every other Thursday. If you do watch the shows with any regularity, then you also know a few things: Det. Eliot Stabler is always pissed, Capt. Cragen is going to get in Stabler’s face any second now, Jerry Orbach could deliver a sarcastic quip about the deceased’s religious misgivings at a Catholic funeral that would make the Pope chuckle and Det. Goren is going to solve the case; probably by applying a generous mixture of reverse psychology and library card prowess.

Despite all of the predictability of these shows (and you can nearly set your watch by it), there are subtleties that make almost every franchise worth watching. Trial by Jury isn’t much, but watching Fred Dalton Thompson drawl and stand his ground with unequivocally stereotyped Southern sayings (“Well, she wanted me to jump down, turn around, pick a bail of cotton”) is almost worth watching the show in and of itself. Almost.

To be honest, I watch Criminal Intent for similar reasons, that is to say: D’Onofrio. The writing for his partner, Eames, is rather dull, with the occasional one-liner to redeem her. I often wonder if she’s not written this way purposely to showcase Det. Goren. (Late in the series, sometime last year, Goren and Eames left the show, another set of detectives coming on. They resurrected Detective Mike Logan, played by Chris Noth. Not a particularly exciting move. The series took on the dull luster of flat latex sprayed atop Kilz.)

Goren is always thinking, always plotting the next move. For him, the entire hunt for the criminal is a mind game, his impressive memory and library card his weapons. I love the character, with his quirks and moods, though I always am brought back to the realization that no one is that informed in that many areas.”

Well Carey and I have been emailing each other back and forth, and in between the emails, I have been reading his blog and laughing out loud at the humor in his posts, nodding along when I read his dead on the money observations about life. He’s blessed with a far better sense of humor than mine and brevity. And his writing’s good, damned good if you ask me. Plus the dude has a lizard named after Peter Frampton (which appeals to me as my own 2 cats are named for a couple of musicians as well) and he writes and plays his own music on the guitar (there’s some great tunage at his site you should give a listen to). Oh and did I mention his photography…he can take a mean picture when the spirit moves him or his witty and insightful horror film reviews?

Anyhoo our email exchange has been fast, friendly and furious and he was more than kind enough to link to the blog here so I figured I’d give him a plug in this post as well. He’s a VDO fan I can easily talk to, maybe because he’s got so many interests besides VDO.

So today’s lazy Sunday afternoon post is dedicated to Carey and also lets me get into a topic on how I went from the small time to the big time of collecting…all apologies to him if this post isn’t as fun and interesting and well-written as I hope Carey (and others) will find it.

Carey writes in a post entitled Law and Order and Whatnot

“In the end, I’m fairly afraid that Goren might be gone from television. Oh, perhaps they’ll keep him in the back of their minds, maybe resurrect the character three years from now on the next installment of whatever Dick Wolf manages to come up with in order to bring the franchise back to life. Or maybe Homicide: Life On the Street will come back and Goren will bug the hell out of Munch as his partner. One can only hope not.

And I don’t know if D’Onofrio would even show up for that.”

Oh goody…now that Carey’s brought up Homicide: Life On The Street and Detective John Munch that leads me right into the discussion of this object with which I am obsessed, known simply as ‘The Chair’:

Sometime back in April of 2001, well before Law & Order Criminal Intent began airing I found the bedraggled looking item above listed on FeeBay. The picture of it was far grainer than mine and frankly by that time most people didn’t give a flaming one about H:LOTS anymore. But I was intrigued by this description:

“Here is Richard Belzer’s chair from the entire time he was on Homicide Life on the Street. He sat in his chair more than any other actor…drinking room temp water….reading the Post….. NOW YOU CAN !!! You’ll never be as funny but now you can sit in the same Telescope, highboy (36″ to seat) solid dark wood, director’s chair and read 6 newspapers every morning just like MUNCH did… Munch, John: (Richard Belzer) [Regular: 1-7] Witty, sardonic detective. Divorced three times (and a fourth time after Homicide’s last episode.) Grew up in Pikesville, where he was in love with his neighbor Helen Rosenthal. Graduated around 1961, making him about 54 at the start of season six. Why did [I] drag this chair on the streets of Baltimore eveyday for 6 years? I was the Prop Master on Homicide for six years (91 episodes) and will send a ***NEW IMPROVED***CERTIFICATE OF AUTHENTICITY. Want other rare, one of a kind film, movie, and TV props go to IMDB and look at my resume… We have a web [site] coming soon! GOOD LUCK!!”

Okay so there’s a good reason this chair was in rough shape…it was used (and abused) in the making of seven great years of TV. It had a low opening bid (you couldn’t have bought a new highboy style director’s chair for what it was initially listed for) and it was being sold by the show’s prop master (who clearly wasn’t a master photographer) on his own initiative . But it sure was intriguing…

So I put in a bid in that was in line with the cost of a new highboy-styled directors chair plus maybe a hundred dollar premium for the chair’s ‘history’. And little did I know that I would win the beast (my first time spending three figures in front of the decimal place for an item of entertainment memorabilia), nor was its ‘premium’ as a bit of entertainment memorabilia all that large. Despite some very fuzzy pictures, my instincts told me I had gotten a great bargain and a unique item.

In the process of figuring out how to get The Chair shipped to me, the prop master and I struck up quite a pleasant conversation of how (at that time) things were humming along very nicely on ebaY and how the great Homicide sale of 2000 in Baltimore (when H:LOTS wrapped production, most of the items used in the making of the show were sold in an open to the public sale held in Baltimore on the show’s Fells Point sets) had proceeded and what had been sold there. He graciously offered to send along many extra materials including a prop business card for Detective Munch to me to further verify The Chair’s authenticity.

When The Chair arrived in it’s cleverly homemade box (skillfully fashioned out of several of the post office’s free smaller Priority Mail cartons and their free Priority Mail tape) I was beside myself with elation. Sure The Chair’s frame has a broken hinge, a missing castor, scratches, dings and dents in its wood frame, a fabric seat bottom whose stitches are loosening, a slightly schmutzy seat back…but for heaven’s sake it is 100% the real deal. Over seven years, Da Belz *actually* sat in it, learned lines in it, joked with the cast and crew from it. It was a holy relic of TV production if you happened to be into good if culty and obscure TV shows. And it was mine. M-I-N-E mine.

In talking to other H:LOTS fans online, I was able to locate more material to authenticate The Chair including these 2 pictures:

Two of my favorite people and one of my favorite objects: Richard Belzer seated in ‘The Chair’ next to Homicide:Life On The Street writer extraordinaire Jim ‘Yosh’ Yoshimura (who apparently is sitting in someone else’s chair) somewhere on location in Baltimore.

Richard Belzer seated in ‘The Chair’ next to Callie Thorne somewhere on location in Baltimore.

Then not even 2 weeks after the conclusion of the auction for ‘The Chair’ something happened on ebaY which made me forever believe the online auction site had ‘jumped the shark’ and was on the road to becoming FeeBay, a place hostile to small sellers with authentic items and the collectors looking for the ‘real deal’.

Behold ‘The Anti-Chair’ (and feel free to boo and hiss)

Here is a brand new lowboy director’s chair that has the Law & Order Special Victims Unit name on its seat back and the signatures of Richard Belzer, Dann Florek, Mariska Hargitay, Michelle Hurd, Ice-T, Stephanie March and Christopher Meloni. This chair was auctioned off on behalf of the Today Show and some charity trying to cure colorectal cancer but as a bit of entertainment memorabilia it is an attractively fabricated and photographed fraud.

You see while you might get seven actor’s autographs on a nice new chair, what you don’t get is the sense that this chair ever had any more contact with any of them including Richard Belzer than the amount of time it took for each of them to sign a piece of fabric with a silver Sharpie/fabric pen and then go on about their main business of acting. And other than the signing period, I doubt the entire Anti Chair ever saw the inside of an SVU set or any outdoor SVU shooting location…for one thing that low frame makes it impractical for use on a set.

Seeing this chair with no history sell for more than twice what I paid for The Chair made me extremely glad I got my chair but sad that the buyer of The Anti Chair basically bought themselves a fake. Oh sure some worthy charity got more than $500 (I’m assuming that 100% of the sale price of the chair actually went to the charity, but these days you never know), but frankly that winner would have been better off just writing out the check to the charity and going to the NBC store to buy some cheaper SVU themed thing. Sure The Anti Chair was all over TV on the Today program for a week or two, but did its winner get to know someone on the crew who was willing to swap stories about his experiences in making great TV for what little I knew then about how people buy and sell on ebaY, much less make a friend who sent along some nice extras? That’s doubtful.

Yes the biggest problem I have with FeeBay today is its willingness to jump through the hoops that Corporate America places before it in order to gain the mega-powerful’s business and it’s soulless, utterly devoid of character merchandise and all at the expense of the smaller ‘just folks’ sellers with interesting things to sell and smaller but more fascinating stories.

Sure I occasionally browse FeeBay (it’s perpetually screwed up search engine makes that an extremely frustrating experience). And on a rare occasion I find a truly unique item worthy of being fought for, won and added to a collection. But mostly today it’s a poorly run crapfest that dupes those who don’t know any better into overpaying for fakes. And that’s depressing given how personal and fun it used to be before the shareholders became more important that the users. I am sad to report that the big thrills to be had at ebaY are mostly gone.

But for entertainment I can always go sit in The Chair and read a book or just cogitate on what it was like to make ‘the best damned show on TV’. I’m so glad that VDO got to be a part of that legacy (even if it was only one guest appearance).

Oh and you can blame Belzer for my expensive collecting tastes…there *really* is nothing like owning a production used item.

Richard Belzer Head Shot

The Negotiations Renewal Saga: The NBC Schedule Is Revealed

I am working on a blog post that goes into a lot of depth on what exactly the ‘renewals’ of the mothership (which is staying on NBC) and CI (which will be first airing on USA and later airing in repurposed or ‘bounce’ repeats on NBC) really mean…first to post is not always best and frankly there is a lot still unanswered (especially since the actual upfronts have not occurred yet).

But here is the hotter news…NBC’s schedule courtesy of Variety with minimal commenting

Appropriate music ‘Prime Time’ by The Alan Parsons Project’

Variety Article on NBC’s 2007-2008 Line Up

“NBC announces schedule, shows
‘Heroes’ gets second series
By MICHAEL SCHNEIDER

While the focus this spring centered on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy”spin-off, NBC was quietly developing one of their own – and announced this morning that “Heroes” has spawned a second series of its own.

“Heroes: Origins” will air in “Heroes'” Monday night time slot when that smash hit takes a hiatus. The net has ordered six segs of “Origins,” which, combined with “Heroes,” makes for 30 hours altogether.

“Heroes: Origins” will center on characters not yet seen on the original show. Peacock has also added an interactive element to the show: Viewers will be asked to pick their favorite character from “Origins,” who will then join the cast of the full-blown “Heroes” skein the following year.

The initiative to keep the “Heroes” franchise in originals for as long as possible harkens back to the golden age of TV, when series aired 39 weeks worth of originals, then took a break.

With repeats dipping to record lows on all five nets, those reruns are fast becoming a thing of the past. Besides the 30-seg “Heroes” and “Heroes: Origins” stretch, Peacock is also picking up 30 eps of “The Office” – including five hour-longs (Daily Variety, May 14) – and 25 segs of “My Name is Earl.”

NBC is also waiting until January to launch the 18th season of “Law & Order,” as well as the return of “Medium” – both of which will bow on Sunday nights after “Sunday Night Football” completes its run (allowing the two skeins to remain in originals for the full stretch).

Meanwhile, the net announced that it has also pacted with Peacock alum Jerry Seinfeld and DreamWorks to air 20 “minisodes” featuring the comedian recounting his experience voicing the upcoming ani feature “Bee Movie.” The shorts will air as interstitials on the network.

Peacock’s new 2007-08 season so far includes five new dramas, one new laffer, a new game show and one new reality competish.

“Last year we promised a return to the NBC legacy of quality, and in terms of awards, buzz and critical acclaim, that’s just what we delivered,” NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly said. “We’ve got the class and next season we’re ready to add some mass, with new shows that build on the creative accomplishments of last season and are as broad as they are good. Combine the energy of these new programs with the bulked-up strength of our existing NBC hits and you’ve got a lineup that’s poised to take us to the next level.”

Despite speculation that “Heroes” and Thursday staple “ER” might move, net opted for stability and kept those shows in their regular homes. Also, as anticipated, critical fave (and narrowly renewed) drama “Friday Night Lights” will move to high school football night – and Peacock marketers can breathe a sigh of relief (“‘Friday Night Lights,’ finally on Friday,” the blurbmeisters are probably already prepping).

Also, as expected, “The Office” will move into the key Thursday 9 p.m. tentpole slot, with “30 Rock” behind “My Name is Earl” and “Scrubs” behind “The Office.” Because “The Office” will expand to an hour on five ocassions, the Peacock had only ordered 18 segs of “Scrubs.”

Meanwhile, net stayed true to its word, and stuck with mostly reality and unscripted in the 8 p.m. slot, other than Thursday.

Toughest night for the Peacock? Wednesday, where the net will attempt two new shows “Bionic Woman” and “Life.” NBC clearly believes there’s an opening on the night, now that ABC has said that “Lost” won’t return until January.

On Fridays, the net is promoting a “Game Night” at 8 p.m., with “1 vs. 100” airing for six weeks, followed by new gamer “The Singing Bee.”

New shows include the dramas “Journeyman,” “Chuck,” “Bionic Woman” and “Life,” with “Lipstick Jungle” prepped for midseason. Comedy “The IT Crowd” is also on the bench for midseason. New unscripted entires include “The Spelling Bee” and is “World Moves.” Talent competish comes from “American Idol” judge Randy Jackson and follows dance teams competing for a touring contract.”

The surprises here (besides a Heroes spinoff) are

1) The mothership gets the very early 8pm Sunday night time slot (and in the past Wolf always lobbied for 10pm time slots for all 3 L&Os) and

2) CI *specifically* is not listed on the schedule, instead is a 2 hour block from 9-10pm on Saturday scheduled for “drama repeats”. Hopefully, when it is aired by NBC, CI will get the preferred later 10pm slot but I doubt that.

So Dick Wolf gave up some stuff here to get the mothership renewed…interesting. And if you don’t get cable, you can bank on your ‘new episode’ CI fix getting a lot trickier

The Negotiations Renewal Saga: Will Some Other Channel Intervene on Behalf Of CI?

Well yesterday the net became chock full of stories saying essentially that TNT, home of current reruns of the original Law & Order series may intervene to save the mothership

The latest in this saga comes from Variety

“TNT howling at Wolf’s door
Cable network offers to take ‘L&O’ into custody
By JOHN DEMPSEY, MICHAEL SCHNEIDER

TNT has offered NBC Universal TV to take over the original “Law & Order” franchise and keep it in production if NBC decides not to renew the series this month.

It’s considered a longshot. Dick Wolf would have to dramatically reduce the costs and license fee on “L&O” to make it fiscally viable for TNT, which would likely pick up 13 episodes (rather than the standard broadcast 22).

Nonetheless, a TNT play for “L&O” isn’t out of the question. NBC is said to be interested in renewing just one of the two “L&O” shows (the mothership and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent”) , with most of the buzz surrounding the return of the younger “CI” edition (Daily Variety, April 19).

What’s more, Wolf has already been aggressively looking at cuts on the show to make a pickup more economically possible. Broadcasting & Cable first broke word of the TNT offer Tuesday morning.

“Negotiations are ongoing regarding ‘Law & Order’ and ‘Law & Order: Criminal Intent’ and, as always, we do not comment on negotiations,” Wolf said, through a spokeswoman.

It’s not the first time TNT has made a serious play for a “Law & Order” original. Late in 2005, TNT made an offer to NBC U to uproot the third “L&O” spinoff “Trial by Jury,” which was not pulling enough viewers on the Peacock in its rookie season, and transfer it to TNT.

TNT hoped a second season of “Trial by Jury” would complement the “L&O” reruns that had helped to propel TNT to No. 1 among all cable networks from 2003 through 2005.

But NBC finally nixed handing “Trial by Jury” off to TNT, unwilling to entrust the firstrun production of a Dick Wolf franchise to a competitor.

Fast-forward to May 2007: The ratings of reruns of “Law & Order” have softened in their last 18 months on TNT, which has lost its No. 1 spot in the Nielsens to USA and would love to revitalize those off-net “L&O” runs with highly promotable new episodes.

A rival cable exec said TNT’s attempts to score “Law & Order” make sense for the channel, particularly as it looks to expand its roster of originals beyond its hit “The Closer.” ”

While this may or may not be good news for the mothership, there is not one single story save this one that implies that NBC is really all that excited about saving CI. In fact I see a lot of signs that say the opposite.

From the article above we have seen that NBC killed off TNT’s ability to keep ‘Trial By Jury’ alive last year. So if NBC’s contracts with Wolf for CI and the mothership are similiarly structured, they could easily nix any other network’s willingness to keep CI and/or the mothership alive and in production.

I also note that both shows are already expensive to produce…while I don’t think CI costs quite as much to produce per episode as the mothership does, I’m going to have to revise my figures to reflect that CI may cost more like $3 million plus per episode to produce rather than the $2-3 I had guesstimated before. Sources like this New York Times article underscore just how costly the mothership is (and what a great deal Wolf has with NBC…for now).

Also I learned from this L.A. Times article that CI’s ratings are down 18% and the mothership’s 20%

“‘Law & Order’ may move to cable
The long-running cops-and-laywers show may appear on TNT in the fall.
By Matea Gold, Times Staff Writer
May 9, 2007

NEW YORK — “Law & Order,” the crime procedural that has been a fixture of NBC’s schedule for 17 seasons, may move to cable next fall in an effort to stretch out the run of the ratings-poor but profitable show.

TNT, which already airs repeats of the drama, is in negotiations with NBC Universal Television Studio to broadcast new episodes of “Law & Order” if NBC decides not to renew it for another season, according to sources familiar with the discussions.

The cable network and studio declined to comment, as did Dick Wolf, the show’s creator and executive producer.

The move would help extend the life of Wolf’s iconic program, which spawned several spin-offs and is close to matching “Gunsmoke’s” 20-year record as the longest-running drama in prime time. Sales of “Law & Order” reruns to TNT and foreign markets generate about $40 million in profit a year for NBC Universal.

But the program has faltered since its shift from Wednesday to Friday nights this season, shedding about one-fifth of its audience to an average of 9 million viewers.

In the last few months, NBC executives have been contemplating whether to renew “Law & Order” and its “Criminal Intent” spin-off, which is down 18% compared with last season. (“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” the most popular of the three, has been guaranteed a place on next season’s schedule.)

Shifting the drama to TNT would be a natural fit, as the basic cable channel already offers a steady stream of “Law & Order” repeats, sometimes as many as eight a day. But the move could require Wolf to dramatically scale back production costs to meet a cable budget.”

That’s a lot of money and effort to put forth for another network to get shows whose ratings are slipping not skyrocketing.

As it is, NBC still believes in dramas, but it’s looking for newer cheaper shows and some value for its money According to this Hollywood Reporter article there are 4-7 candidates that look good to NBC in terms of getting decent ratings for not so much money as all the old Wolf series. And NBC already has a new Wolf series in the wings (which I’m sure because of its newness is cheaper)

The truly interesting thing to note for CI fans is that there may not be an angel network that will swoop in to pick up production because the show has already been sold into syndication for next year to 97% of the Fox affiliates and will air 5 days a week on your local Fox station. The only likely buyers for CI would be USA and Bravo who already air CI reruns and they’re all subsidiaries of the GE/NBC Universal company so that doesn’t make much sense for one division of a company to buy out the other division’s expensive product, especially not when you would be competing with yet other outlets for the same product.

So it looks like Wolf might possibly have found a way to keep the quest for the Gunsmoke record alive, but I wouldn’t bet on NBC blessing a move to TNT without TNT and/or Wolf ponying up a lot of money for the privilege…my prediction is that the same thing that happened with ‘Trial By Jury’ will happen again and Wolf will have to sacrifice all kinds of stuff to keep the mothership alive (including possibly sacrificing CI)

I’ll do a separate ratings post for last night’s episode in a few minutes…there was enough show publicity on it that it merits separate coverage.

Oh Happy Day! Film Butchers Rye By Post Are In Receivership

Well I just got this bit of *excellent* news from one of the many collector/preservationist discussion boards I hang out at.

Apparently some aspects of the made-up movie and TV memorabilia business are not as profitable as they are cracked up to be…the UK’s Rye By Post which takes *reprint* photos and *butchered* bits of film which they call ‘filmcells’, a couple of metal plaques and some glassed in picture frames and matting and make the whole lot up into ‘movie memorabilia’ to sell at grossly inflated prices is *bankrupt* and has been taken over by receivers as of today!

Hallelujah! Amen…overpriced home-made collectibles aren’t worth what Rye By Post thought they were and the market has voted with its complete and utter apathy! I *love* it!

The spin Rye By Post puts on this in an ebaY ‘guide’ (and these guides are supposed to help collectors not serve as press releases or crappy advertising so no way am I reproducing their link for you, they don’t deserve the free recommendation) is absolutely priceless (the typos and misspellings are all theirs):

“Ryebypost is in administration !

Ryeby post makers of filmcells also known as film cells cels cells or film media are now out of business, this is a huge shock to the memorabillia world. Ryebypost ceased trading on the 07 05 07 when the admistrators were called in to sort the companies finance. Ryebypost held licences to produce film cells like spiderman 3 the wizard of oz and Scarface, many of the orders placed by distributors have not been fulfilled.

We have many items still in stock but these are now HIGHLY COLLECTABLE as they will NEVER BE REMADE.

There are literally thousands of website advertisements for items that will simply not be delivered, many companies now have to go through databases to remove the much saught after stock.”

This is great news for those of us who collect originals…I will be glad to see them stop reprinting photos and butchering up classic movies (‘Full Metal Jacket’, ‘Ed Wood’, ‘Men In Black’ and ‘The Cell’ are the only VDO movies of which I am aware have received this treatment, but it wouldn’t surprise me to hear of others being cut up in the name of commerce). It makes me want to strangle the idiots who think nothing of cutting up perfectly good prints of my favorite films like ‘Chariots Of Fire’ or ‘Blade Runner’ or even silent films like Lon Chaney’s ‘The Phantom Of The Opera’ just to make a buck. People who prostitute my and millions of other people’s happy moviegoing memories in this fashion deserve a lot worse than to lose all their money.

Oh and I’ll bet that a lot of their music and sports memorabilia is bogus too…won’t it be fun when this crapfest of faux collectibles hits FeeBay at low low prices?

Not.

(Music: ‘I Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You’ The Alan Parsons Project)

The Negotiations Renewal Saga: The Overnight Ratings For CI Part 1

Well the overnight ratings for last night’s CI episode “Rocketman’ with VDO are in and frankly they’re an embarassment to NBC and Dick Wolf.

NBC came in fourth, dead last, behind Fox, ABC and the CW. Ouch!

According to Variety ‘Idol,’ ‘House’ roll again

CI pulled a 2.2/5 in 18-49, 7.3 million viewers overall.

At least SVU pulled a 4.0/11 in 18-49, 11.3 million viewers overall

Still those numbers are pathetic and while they will be finalized in a few days, usually ratings go down not up with revision.

So if you all want CI back, I guess it’s up to Noth’s fans and VDO’s fans to watch CI on May 8th…they had better pull better numbers than what VDO’s fans did last night.

Oh and yes I watched last night and as I predicted the ‘Rocketman’ episode did not outdo my low expectations.

PEC here I come….less than 48 hours to its debut.

Appropriate music ‘Murder By Numbers’ by The Police

The Renewal Negotiations Saga: Here Come The TV Critics

Yesterday in checking into the French fan forum at lawandorder-fr.com, I was treated to a discussion thread reminding me that the French celebrate May 1st as a holiday. One of the male members of the forum left all of the women a photo of lillies of the valley — my all time favorite flower — as a sort of virtual present. I appreciated the inherent class and thoughtfulness of the gesture and the discussion thread reminded me that the lillies of the valley in my back yard ought to be in bloom, so this morning I went out and gathered a bunch of them. They are beautiful to look at, they smell fantastic, and they are deserving of the Victorian symbolism assigned to them: the ‘return of happiness’.

While how I think GE/NBC and Wolf are using the media in their negotiations posturing stinks to high heaven, a little searching for the latest news brought this pretty little bouquet of an editorial by David Blum of the NY Sun that indeed makes a little happiness return to my thoughts.

Ripped From the Airwaves Commentary

“Ripped From the Airwaves
Commentary
By DAVID BLUM
May 2, 2007

“Creative people come up with creative solutions,” Dick Wolf recently told the New York Times in a story about the dwindling prospects for keeping “Law & Order” on television next year. Who am I to quibble with the genius who devised “Law & Order” back in 1990 and got millions of us hooked on its endlessly adaptable formula? But now Mr. Wolf needs an equally creative inspiration if he wants to save his show and its spin-offs from cancellation later this month. Yelling at NBC executives isn’t it.

The creator of “Law & Order” and its progeny faces the distinct possibility that at least two “Law & Order” shows will be cancelled at the end of this season. As always, he’s furious. NBC argues that the shows’ ratings have plummeted — at least those of “Law & Order,” the flagship, and its latest surviving spinoff, “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” — and has hinted broadly that both face the ax when the 2007–08 fall schedules are announced this month. To Mr. Wolf, it’s outrageous that NBC’s attention to its bottom-line interferes with his plan to outlast “Gunsmoke” on the air. Only three more seasons and he would achieve that distinction in the record books, as though that’s reason enough to keep it around.

Bad time slots! No promotion! Don’t worry, I’ll re-cast! Those rank among Mr. Wolf’s most dependable rants in response to low ratings, and he has spilled them to the press in recent weeks, hoping, in vain, for loyal viewers to take to the streets in protest over the prospect of cancellation. Mr. Wolf would rather wrangle with executives than spend time contemplating the creative failures that have left his once-addictive show without a loyal audience. Only one of his spin-offs, “Law & Order: SVU,” has found ratings success in recent years, and that’s because it traffics in the sort of sex-abuse cases that resemble ratings hits like “CSI.”

Anyone who once loved the dramatic tension of a great “Law & Order” episode from the 1990s has acknowledged the show’s failure to sustain its premise for 17 seasons. Stories once twisted and turned with the cleverness of Hitchcock and Highsmith; true fans can remember classic episodes like the one in which the comedian Larry Miller murdered his wife and got away with it — only to be caught seasons later when he killed wife no. 2. Intricate story lines and great New York actors doing memorable star turns (among them Philip Bosco, Bruce Altman, and Edie Falco) enhanced the show’s cast of regulars, a gifted ensemble that included Steven Hill, Carey Lowell, and Sam Waterston.

But in recent seasons, the show has fallen back on the tired “ripped from the headlines” motif that has all too often made it feel predictable and lame. “Law & Order” never quite recovered from the death of Jerry Orbach or the departure of Benjamin Bratt, the best one-two detective punch it ever offered. Its latest lineup of cops and prosecutors (mostly cast from the Wolf playbook of brunette hotties) look like they’re reading off cue cards. When you start longing for the days when Angie Harmon was an assistant district attorney, you know the show has reached a tragic state of disrepair.

The desperation for a new audience has crept into the scripts; this season, all three “Law & Order” series have violated a stated vow to avoid character backstory. Last Friday’s “Law & Order” episode ended with the surprise appearance of Mr. Waterston’s character’s daughter, and a two-part “SVU” with Mariska Hargitay investigating whether her mother was raped. We’ve also recently spent time with Vincent D’Onofrio’s mother and brother on “Criminal Intent,” and we’re none the wiser for it.

Whatever happened to pure, simple crime-solving? I’ve even started to miss the crazy jigsawpuzzle openings of “Criminal Intent” from its early years, the ones that made no sense until you went back afterward to re-watch. Maybe they gave you a headache, but two extra-strength Tylenols seemed a small price to pay for a decent hour of television.

It’s not about quality anymore for Mr. Wolf, or even his antagonists at NBC. It’s about money, and how to squeeze profits from the diminishing revenue streams of network television. “I don’t know where the money is,” Mr. Wolf admitted to the Times in April. His only prospect is having sold the “format rights” to foreign countries, where local actors perform episodes of “SVU” and “Criminal Intent.” Isn’t that basically like selling the rights to “Our Town” to community theaters? Even Mr. Wolf admits that it amounts to nothing more than a “trickle” of revenue. He has no other answers, and no other ideas. It’s time to stop blaming the messenger for the deserved death of his firstborn, and let “Law & Order” drift peacefully into the endless afterlife of syndication.”