Monday, April 21, 2014

The Replacements - Alex Chilton - at Coachella 2014

If you watch just one YouTube video from Coachella 2014, make sure it's this one of the reunited Replacements performing Alex Chilton with the help of Billie Joe Armstrong on guitar. It is the definition of pop rock and, as one commenter said, it sounds like they actually rehearsed which they did -- for months.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Aereo vs. Television Networks

The case of Aereo vs. The Big Four Television Networks is complicated if you don't know the story behind the ongoing legal battle. If you know even the tiniest amount about Aereo, the tech company which essentially allows customers to rent tiny antennas and, in turn, receive live online streams of their local broadcast stations, the argument in favor of Aereo seems rather strong.

Aereo's tiny internet-streaming antennas are rented by customers for a small monthly fee along with a limited amount of DVR storage time (20 hours). The fact that Aereo makes a recurring profit off of this service without paying a retransmission fee to local broadcast affiliates (like cable and satellite companies do) is what the big four television networks are angry about. They want their cut. They ALWAYS want their cut. But is Aereo any different than cable television providers were in their infancy?

It wasn't until 1992 that congress mandated cable television providers to seek approval to retransmit local broadcast television signals over their systems and that also opened the door for local broadcasters to seek retransmission fees from cable providers. Cable television essentially had a free run of fifteen years before local network television affiliates realized that cable television was an area that they, too, could profit from.

The unfortunate part, though, is that local broadcasters are treating Aereo and their innovative format for consumers to bypass bloated cable television packages like it is an established company which has a history of immense profitability and wide adoption rates. In reality Aereo is just the opposite. It is a relatively new start-up which is still expanding into major metropolitan areas. In an era where cable television providers are trying to find ways to keep their customers tied to their services (television AND internet service), Aereo is seen as a disruption.

Are the major broadcast television networks rallying their lawyers in an effort to file lawsuits against the manufacturers of rofotop television antennas? Why aren't they? Those manufacturers allow consumers to view thier television signals for free after the cost of purchase -- somewhat in line with Aereo's business model. Sure, Aereo is an ongoing subscription service but the basic idea of receiving over the air local network affiliates is the same, only the technology has changed.

In short, Aereo is being challenged by network television's lawyers because they are a viable company with a legitimate future. Let Aereo get a foothold and see where it leads. It is unlikely in this age of hundreds of channels that Aereo would ever pose a huge threat to the gobs of cash paid by cable companies to broadcasters in the form of retransmission fees but if it does come to that then the boradcasters have a legitimate argument and can rightfully demand some sort of retransmission fee from Aereo as well.

The one marked difference here is that while Aereo's service allows consumers in selected cities to cut the cord from cable television, they still need internet service which is no longer a luxury item and should be considered as an almost essential utility service. Aereo's potential growth almost insures that cable providers will not only continue to provide internet service at the same price to customers but that their need for increased speeds will increase. And with the reluctance of the near monopolistic cable televisoon providers to seriously increase speeds at realistic prices, their profit margins will remain healthy for the forseeable future.

In short, let an interesting start-up gain a foothold with the disclaimer that the boradcasters will be revisiting the topic of retransmission fees if/when subscriber penetration reaches a pre-determined threshold.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Who will replace David Letterman?

After longtime Late Show host David Letterman publicly announced his plans to retire in 2015 during the taping of last night's show in New York City, there has been rampant speculation regarding who his replacement will be.

The general rules of succession, if the were to ever apply, clearly state that current Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson would inherit the Late Show hosting duties. The only problem is that Ferguson has cultivated a very unique brand of oddball humor for his later time slot and while there is no doubt in my mind that he could adapt to an earlier time and appeal to a wider audience, the general consensus is that he is extremely happy right where he is.

The next logical guess in Jon Stewart, current host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central. Viacom and CBS used to be corporate siblings so the familial ties are sort of there. Stewart is a phenomenal interviewer and has shown through the years that he is equally comfortable interviewing politicians, athletes and movie stars. He is definitely a strong contender but a Jon Stewart helmed Late Show at CBS would be a virtual carbon copy of what Letterman has cultivated. That's not a bad thing at all but the face of late night television is changing. Jimmy Fallon has brought the wacky to The Tonight Show with skits and games involving his guests. I can't see Jon Stewart bringing anything close to that to the table. And maybe that's a good thing. Not every show needs to be a carbon copy of the others. With that being said, consider Jon Stewart the front runner.

Another interesting name being tossed about is Louis C.K.. On the last season of Louie on FX, the stand-up comedian even went as afar as to pen a multi-part episode in which he was asked to audition to be the replacement for David Letterman in a surreal series of events which included David Lynch directing him and taping the audition. In classic Louie fashion it was awkward as hell and of course the powers at CBS were playing him against Letterman all to be able to get Letterman to agree to a bit less money. Yet another scenario in which Louie came out in the end as the loser. Expect real life to, again, play out like his life on the TV series. Louis C.K. would be an interesting choice and he has the chops to do an amazing monologue (as he proved once again during his second time hosting SNL) but to the best of my knowledge he has never interviewed another celebrity, a politician or an average Joe. Louis C.K. gets placed in the longshot category.

This brings us to another television actor and comedian, Tina Fey. If CBS were to go in the direction of the lovably awkward Tina Fey, it would be a landmark choice. First off, Fey would be the first female late night host and it would also be following somewhat in the footsteps of Letterman in that her career, as well, truly took off at NBC with her role on SNL then her starring role on 30 Rock as well as producing sitcoms at the peacock network. Fey, again, is unproven as an interviewer but is hugely familiar with a live environment from her days behind the Weekend Update desk at SNL and her recent co-hosting gigs on The Golden Globes. I doubt, though, that Fey would go head-to-head against her former counterparts (Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers) as these guys are her friends but a cross-network competition between friends could be far more interesting that the back-biting of days gone by was between Letterman and Jay Leno. One big lovefest is better than a biter rivalry. I'll put Tina Fey in the middle of the pack of contenders.

Next up is Stephen Colbert. His name as a possible successor to David Letterman is a somewhat fresh addition to the list of contenders. Colbert cut his teeth at a satirist under the tutelage of Jon Stewart at The Daily Show and now has his own made up persona at The Colbert Report on Comedy Central. He has a satirical and somewhat dry wit, he can interview, he has had experience with the traditional musical guests that would be an integral part of any network televised late night program and Viacom-owned Comedy Central was once affiliated with CBS. Stephen Colbert may  be less polarizing than Jon Stewart when it comes to political guests as a potential Late Night host because anyone with any common sense realizes that Colbert is playing a character on his current series. It is widely known that he has liberal leanings but I feel that Colbert is capable of asking tough questions when needed as well as doing the typical schmoozing that the job demands. Colbert is a definite front-runner.

We can't forget about Chelsea Handler. She is leaving behind her rather lucrative gig at E! (which she called something along the lines of a cess-pool and a horrible place to work which sort of serves as a way to sever ties with the entire Comcast television universe including NBC). She has hosted Chelsea Lately on E! for seven years with a contract ending in 2015. Her choice, too, would be a landmark move with a female late night host on network television. There are drawbacks, too. Handler is brash and her comedy style can be a bit abrasive to say the least. On the flip side, though, having a brash and unapologetic late night host on network television would be a huge departure from the norm as everyone else seems to be in the business of kissing ass rather than being honest. Chelsea Handler's sometimes profanity-laced comedy would be an interesting companion to that of Late late Show host Craig Ferguson who routinely gets edited and/or bleeped by the CBS censors. Hell, he almost makes a game out of it and I have a feeling that Handler would as well but she has a temper and would likely fail to accept it meaning that she would butt heads with CBS management frequently and her existence would be stressful and her time spent at CBS would probably be short because of her temper. Chelsea Handler is a definite dark horse as a replacement for David Letterman.

A number of other possibilities are being tossed around including Jerry Seinfeld (too rich), Jon Oliver (too green), Neil Patrick Harris (an actual middle of the road contender with strong hosting skills and an existing CBS presence), Ricky Gervais (too abrasive and British), Joel McHale (doubtful unless taping of the sixth season of Community is its last and contingent on the length of his contract at E! - the bonus is that he does stand-up comedy) and then there's Craig Ferguson who stands to win no matter what happens. He gets a $5 million payday if he gets passed over as Letterman's replacement but he likes the low expectations of his later time slot. Ferguson's brand of comedy fits the time period he is currently in and if moved an hour earlier he would likely suffer the same fate as Conan O'Brien did at NBC. However, Ferguson is already in Los Angeles and would beat out NBC who has both of their  late night programs based in New York City.

Truly, the Letterman replacement race boils down to Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Neil Patrick Harris. The next year or so should be very interesting.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Walking Dead season 4 finale

About 15,000,000 million people each week watch AMC's The Walking Dead. That number, coincidentally, is dangerously close to the number of theories swirling around various corners of the internet related to the Season 4 finale of the post-apocalyptic zombie series centered on the lives of a dozen or so Georgians as they struggle to survive and build a steady life with death, the undead and danger around every turn.

The latest twist, "Terminus", hinted at throughout the second half of season 4 of The Walking Dead and unveiled at the end of Sunday's episode, seems to have brought the likes of Glenn, Maggie, Bob and Sasha to the self-proclaimed safe haven only to be welcomed by Mary (pictured at right) who happens to bear an eerie resemblance to a painting uncovered by katana-wielding Michonne earlier in the second half of The Walking Dead's fourth season. The painting, coupled with the lack of other survivors, unlocked gates, inward-facing barbed wire, a huge grill with no signs of animals nearby, a complete lack of walkers and the uber-creepy name of "Terminus" seems to be screaming out to us that Daryl, Rick, Carl, Michonne, Carol, Tyreese and the rest of the gang will be fighting for their own survival once again during Sunday's finale.

Whether Mary and the rest of the unseen residents of Terminus are part of some sort of religious cult (often speculated after someone kidnapped Beth Greene in a previous episode) or a group of cannibalistic survivors (a plot point brought up in The Walking Dead comic books), this Sunday's season finale promises to be action-packed and it's a given that a "major" character or two will be killed off in some fashion.

The truth is that the characters most likely to be killed are Michonne, Carol, Maggie or Glenn. Also likely to die once they meet Rick Grimes' reunited group are most of the members of the group of marauders which Daryl has found himself part of for the past couple episodes. While I doubt that Beth Greene, Maggie's younger blond sister, will be killed in The Walking Dead season finale, I am fairly certain that she will be in great peril at what will be one of the greatest cliffhangers shown during the entirety of the zombie apocalypse series.

How I Met Your Mother's Cobie Smulders photos

After nine seasons of How I Met Your Mother we know that Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders) isn't "The Mother". Hell, that was established in the early seasons of the long and rambling series but that doesn't mean that we can't all enjoy the eye candy that is the smoldering Cobie Smulders. Maybe it's because I have the dark-haired beauty on my "list" or maybe it's because Cobie Smulders is not only talented but also an excellent specimen of eye candy. Check out the sexy and racy photos of Cobie Smulders below:

cobie smulders - robin from how i met your mother - in a see-thru shirt

cobie smulders from how i met your mother showing her brand and panties

cobie smulders showing her bare chest and back in sexy clothing from how i met your mother

cobie smulders from how i met your mother shows off her sexy smooth legs

All images via Esquire