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Jewish World Review Nov. 9, 2001 / 23 Mar-Cheshvan, 5762

Steve Young

Steve Young
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Consumer Reports

Networks at war! -- IT'S finally come to this. And during the Emmys yet. The TV industry's precious gift to...the TV industry.

With Fox firing the first salvo by presenting a running update of Emmy winners during the World Series seventh game, the other networks, and UPN, have promised to turn up the heat.

CBS head honcho, Les Moonves, pulled no punches. "Murdoch and his bunch are the worst kind of evil-doers. He's soiled our great tradition of having the West Coast be the last place to see who wins the coveted awards that are taking place on the West Coast. He's ruined the enjoyment of millions of American west coasters who were blind-sided by the Fox cowardly attack. They might as well have told America what color underwear Joan Rivers was wearing (don't read any further if you are was a trick question...she wasn't wearing any). We will retaliate and do so forcibly."

In a taped response sent to Bill O'Reilly's No Spin area, Murdoch, standing in front of his 30 million dollar cave and yacht gave no credence to Moonves' claims. "Come on. This is a guy who wants to do a sitcom about the World Trade Center disaster. Who you gonna believe, him or the guy who beat the cr-p out of him in the ratings?"

With vitriol only seen perhaps one time before, during the famous 1952-54 Hundred Show War between the Dupont Network and Milton Berle, where Dupont had given away the fact that the ugly woman on the Texaco Comedy Hour was actually Uncle Miltie.

This new brand of hostilities seems to signal a heightened sense competition between the television networks. Television critics believe this has been building for a long time. With the plethora of viewing options for the public, each Neilson point has become more valuable than ever.

Studios already have plans to sabotage competition by broadcasting intercepted network notes detailing series cancellations, prior to the actual cancellation. Leaked reports say opposition networks will run bulletins citing cancellations of shows like Emeril, Bob Patterson and According To Jim. Most critics feel that these types of subversive activities shows make have little or no affect as, in fact, the viewers aren't viewing these shows anyway.

Some of the threatened give aways include informing viewers of the winner of Survivor, the identity of The Mole, who the next pregnant Friend is and who did it to her, Who the Weakest Link is, Who wants to be a millionaire and where head of ABC, Stuart Bloomberg, will hide the afikoman during the network Passover festivities at Disneyland.

HBO's President of New Programming, Chris Albrecht, doesn't see this new warfare between the free networks really affecting pay cable. "For crissakes, we're still getting boffo ratings on reruns of The Sopranos first season. Who gives a flying f*** what the network's do to each other. No one's watching ‘em anyway."

JWR contributor Steve Young, contributing editor of the Writers Guild Of America's "Written By" magazine, is a Prism Award winner and Humanitas nominee for his writing on the accurate depiction alcohol use and addiction in a television comedy episode. Comment by clicking here.

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10/01/01: Playlands, burgers, and family sanity
09/25/01: Dissent is walking on red, white and blue egg shells
09/21/01: OPEN LETTER THE MOST HIGH (RE: Falwell and Robertson comments)
09/17/01: Gary, we miss ya
09/10/01: Smelling out a real hero
09/04/01: Don't give up on that dream!
08/24/01: Pitch day at the Mouse
08/21/01: It Depends On What Your Definition Of "Unlimited" Is


© 2001, Steve Young