MTV's Scaly 'Skins' Sheds Sponsors; Olbermann Napalms MSNBC Bridge

Wednesday, 26 Jan 2011 01:18 PM

By James Hirsen

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The Left Coast Report: A Political Look at Hollywood

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Real-Life Exorcist Blesses ‘The Rite’
2. ‘American Idol’ Totters on Ratings Pedestal
3. Sponsors Shed MTV’s Scaly ‘Skins’
4. Police Search for ‘Obama Robber’
5. Why Keith Olbermann Left MSNBC

 

1. Real-Life Exorcist Blesses ‘The Rite’

A new movie asserts the existence of supernatural evil to delve into the power of faith.

In “The Rite,” Academy Award winner Anthony Hopkins stars as a priest who regularly performs exorcisms and Colin O’Donoghue plays a doubting seminarian apprentice.

Interestingly, Hopkins is a Christian in real life, and O'Donoghue serves as a lector at his Catholic parish in Dublin.

The film is adapted from “The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist,” by Matt Baglio. Baglio’s book follows the actual experiences of Fr. Gary Thomas, a priest who studied the art of exorcism in Rome.

Fr. Thomas, now the pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Saratoga, Calif., acted as a consultant for the filmmakers.

“The environment of that movie set was very reverential towards the Church,” Fr. Thomas told the Catholic News Agency. “The producer and the director and the cast whom I worked with at the time were very open.”

Fr. Thomas characterized the movie as accurate and praised it because “the human side of the priesthood is very well developed.”

But most importantly, the pastor said, “This is a movie about faith,” adding that “people are going to be very surprised.”

“The Rite” opens Jan 28.


2. ‘American Idol’ Totters on Ratings Pedestal

Nothing boosts the bottom line of a television network like a No. 1 rated show.

Fox has garnered the largest amount of advertising revenue of any series in TV history with the cultural phenomenon “American Idol.”

The show has created its own enterprise, driving record sales and digital downloads with a string of music superstars such as Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, and Chris Daughtry.

However, with Simon Cowell’s departure, “Idol” has gone through a total remake, with new judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler joining original judge Randy Jackson. This has created a degree of uncertainty about the show’s ratings prospects.

Executives at the Fox network indicated that when combining the two nights of the new-look show last week, “American Idol” audiences were down just 12 percent from last year's opening.

But “Idol” has lost about 6 million viewers since 2006. Album sales of recent winners have also dropped precipitously.

Last Thursday’s episode fell 16 percent from the previous year among the 18-to-49-year-old demographic, the population that advertisers covet most.

The second night of the show’s new season experienced a loss of 4 million viewers, ending up with 22.9 million total.

“Idol’s” competition held up better than in the past. CBS’ “Big Bang Theory” brought in a respectable 13.6 million watchers.


3. Sponsors Shed MTV’s Scaly ‘Skins’

Here’s the bad news: MTV executives have gone ahead with most despicable television program ever to air on a non-premium cable network.

The good news: Thanks to the voices of a concerned public, the show is losing sponsors in droves.

MTV’s “Skins,” adapted from a British hit, is paired with “Jersey Shore” in the lineup. The scripted drama teems with teens indulging in alcohol and drugs and engaging in various kinds of sexual activity.

The Los Angeles Times called it “an R-rated teen soap minus any truly resonant characters.”

“Skins” recently gained notoriety from a report that Viacom executives had ordered subsidiary MTV to “tone down some of the most explicit content,” including a nude 17-year-old's backside. According to the New York Times, the brass were concerned about child pornography laws.

Predictably, the show’s debut pulled in 3.3 million viewers.

Fortunately, concerned parents and activist groups such as the Parents Television Council (PTC) spoke out, and Taco Bell, H&R Block, GM, and Wrigley responded by pulling their ads.

Taco Bell, the first to react, determined that “Skins” was “not a fit” for its brand.

Legally speaking, the problem for MTV is that unlike many of its current shows geared toward teens, where the actors are actually legal adults, “Skins” cast members are as young as 15 years old.

PTC has requested that the Department of Justice and U.S. Senate and House Judiciary Committees open an investigation into whether the network has broken laws involving the exploitation of children.


4. Police Search for ‘Obama Robber’

Heist movies occasionally have bank robbers donning presidential masks, and now life is imitating art with a thief disguised as President Barack Obama.

Police in Austria are looking for a man dubbed the “Obama Robber.” He’s wanted for six bank holdups going back to 2008, the same year Obama was elected.

The “Obama Robber” struck as recently as last week in the town of Handenberg, where he made off with an undisclosed amount after threatening bank employees with a gun.

A police official, Markus Mitloehner, told The Associated Press that the suspect is believed to be a local because he speaks with the dialect of the region.

There is no truth to the rumor that the robber’s accomplice was wearing a Joe Biden mask.


5. Why Keith Olbermann Left MSNBC

Keith Olbermann recently gave his audience a shock by announcing that his show was over.

After eight years, MSNBC's top-rated anchor was suddenly done.

The network issued a brief statement during the host’s sign-off saying that MSNBC and Olbermann had “ended their contract” and the cable network wished him “well in his future endeavors.”

Olbermann had two years left on his four-year, $30 million contract.

Even MSNBC staffers were apparently caught off guard as promos for Olbermann’s show continued to air after his departure announcement.

Asked about Olbermann’s abrupt exit during HBO's “Real Time with Bill Maher,” another MSNBC uber-liberal, Rachel Maddow, said all she knew was that “he and the company made a mutual decision that 'Countdown' is done.”

Maher’s reply was “that's always bull---t.”

So why did Olbermann’s tenure with MSNBC end at this particular point in time?

It’s no secret that Olbermann’s on-air style irks certain NBC personalities, including longtime news anchors Tom Brokaw and Andrea Mitchell.

According to the New York Times, NBC executives even considered changing the name of the news website, MSNBC.com, to distance it from the Peacock.

The darling-of-the-left host has quite a reputation for giving his employers a hard time. His career is actually riddled with sudden departures.

Olbermann was suspended by ESPN when he made an unauthorized appearance on then-host Craig Kilborn's “Daily Show” to promote a book. It didn’t help his relationship with the network when, during the segment, Olbermann referred to ESPN's hometown of Bristol., Conn., as a “godforsaken place.”

A former ESPN colleague told the New Yorker that when Olbermann left “he didn't burn bridges here — he napalmed them.”

Olbermann quit MSNBC once before in the 1990s over the coverage of the Monica Lewinsky affair, claiming the reporting gave him the “dry heaves.”

He even worked for two years at Fox Sports. Rupert Murdoch said Olbermann was fired because he was “crazy.”

In November 2010, Olbermann got an indefinite suspension for donating money to the campaigns of two Democratic candidates.

The timing of Olbermann’s farewell, coinciding as it does with government approval of the NBC Universal-Comcast merger, is raising a lot of eyebrows.

Thanks to the merger, Olbermann lost his strongest executive ally, NBC head Jeff Zucker.

Sources told the New York Times that for the last several weeks Olbermann has been negotiating a buyout of his contract.

It’s possible that he may have sensed that his position was in jeopardy and tried to test the management via a renegotiation.

According to TMZ, talks started out with Olbermann's agent telling NBC that the "Countdown" host should be paid more than his current $7 million-plus per year contract. NBC turned that request down.

His buyout agreement was completed on the same day Olbermann made the announcement. The deal sets time limitations on when Olbermann can anchor another show or give interviews. However, he can return to sports broadcasting.

So where will Olbermann ultimately end up?

He will be all over the left-of-center Internet for sure.

But I can see him hopping on over to a network that has reportedly expressed interest in him before: CNN. Taking over the ratings-challenged “Parker Spitzer” might be just the Olbermann ticket.

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