All signs point to Michael Strahan as the new Live with Kelly co-host
– this prediction became even stronger when insiders reported the former NFLer put his Hermosa Beach, CA pad up for sale a few weeks ago.
He certainly has proven he really wants the job – using all of his assets to woo Executive Producer Gelman and the Live audience. This past July, Strahan even stripped down to his skivvies, performing a strip tease while Channing Tatum was on the show promoting “Magic Mike.”. If it is true, expect to see Strahan alongside Ripa on Tue, Sept 4. A solo Ripa will kick off the new season on Sept 3rd.
Photo Courtesy of NY Daily News
Are they morning news shows or dramas? The recent anchor swaps on NBC’s TODAY Show and ongoing ratings wars between TODAY and ABC’s Good Morning America (GMA) seem more like the latter in the last few weeks as the anchors become as big a story as the news they report on. TODAY had a tragic storyline that found a beautiful, kind leading lady taking the blame (poor Ann Curry) for driving people away, only to be abandoned by her family and driven to tears before millions of onlookers. Enter the heroine (Savannah Guthrie) to save the day. Did it work? Nielsen ratings say no – in fact, GMA has led TODAY since Guthrie took over as Matt Lauer’s partner and last week it bested Today by 357,000 viewers. This is the largest lead GMA has held over TODAY in more than 17 years.
So, does the TODAY show loss imply that audiences are impartial to Guthrie or even resent NBC for ousting Curry? Time will tell. NBC’s hope is that the Olympics will bolster its a.m. ratings. Expect them to pull out all the stops with their special correspondents: Meredith Vieira, (Matt Lauer according to insiders ‘begged’ her to stay last year when she left TODAY) will have a greater presence in the next month on TODAY as will golden boy Ryan Seacrest reporting overall for NBC and creating content for TODAY.
Let the games begin.
NBC’s “The New Normal” (Photo Credit- NBC)
On Monday, MMC’s Ronna Waldman and I joined 2,000 of my closest friends, including Mathew Perry (someone please find Chandler another hit show), Christina Aguilera (The Voice has become somewhat of a savior for NBC and will now anchor two nights), Ellen Barkin, Adam Levine and Anne Heche at Radio City Music Hall as NBC became the first network to officially announce its primetime fall line-up. The network, in dismal 4th place in ratings (behind ABC, CBS, and Fox), brought out its stars as it tries to stage a comeback in primetime. With an estimated $9 billion in advertising dollars up for grabs in network TV, do you blame them?
But wait, we are in PR; why do we care about the Upfronts – and what are they, anyway? The Upfronts occur each May, when the major networks (and cable affiliates) unveil their new shows in grand fashion for the upcoming TV season. This is when they sell 80-90 percent of their ad time inventory to advertisers “up front” – several months before the television season begins. This is also the time when advertisers leverage their total ad spend to negotiate branded integrations during the next TV season.
This is why we care.
When MMC develops Big Ideas for clients, we don’t just think about how to generate earned media or motivate consumers to visit a Facebook page; we think about communications holistically. That means we consider how to, among other things, generate authentic branded content that resonates with both media and consumers; as well as work on identifying the right voice (spokesperson) to communicate messages. Having our hand on the pulse of the next season’s lineup puts us at an advantage when we create branded integrations – an area our clients now rely heavily on us for as we make it feel “earned” versus “paid.”
And since new hit shows create big stars, this is the perfect place to be on the lookout for new brand spokespeople. Several years ago, after attending and reviewing the new shows, I put the following unknown names on a watch list – you’ve probably heard of them now: Melissa McCarthy, Sofia Vergara, Zooey Deschanel.
Here is our take on some of the shows we feel might make it or are teetering on the fence:
- Go On — Matthew Perry returns to NBC and teams up with the creators of Friends to create this dark comedy about a sportscaster who attends group therapy sessions to help him move on from a loss. He subsequently finds them to be a surprising support system. On the fence on this one; although NBC is airing it right after breakout hit The Voice in hopes of gaining traction – let’s see.
- New Normal — Created by Glee alumn Ryan Murphy, this is a tale of a young gay couple played by Andrew Rannells (Girls) and Justin Bartha (The Hangover), and the woman who is the surrogate mother to their expanding family (Georgia King, Skins). The single-camera comedy will also feature Ellen Barkin and NeNe Leaks as characters in recurring roles. This show has promise, although it is initially slated to air right after Go On – and if that show does not gain traction, this show could lose viewers.
- Guys with Kids – Exec produced by Jimmy Fallon, it’s a show that stars Anthony Anderson (Law & Order), Jesse Bradford (The West Wing) and Zach Cregger (Friends With Benefits) as three 30-something guys who appreciate the adventures of parenting although they haven’t grown up themselves. Rounding out the ensemble are Jamie-Lynn Sigler (The Sopranos), Sara Rue (Guidelines of Engagement) and Tempestt Bledsoe (The Cosby Demonstrate). Fallon is the golden child of NBC, so even if the show does not initially do well, NBC will move it around until it does as they have ordered a full season.
- Do No Harm – a mid-season show that Stars Steven Pasquale — who recently appeared on NBC’s freshman comedy Up All Night as Luke, Ava’s boss Yvonne’s right hand man — as a brain surgeon who struggles to control his dangerous alter-ego. Phylicia Rashad, of Cosby Show fame, is set to co-star in the drama. Interesting concept, has potential.
- The Following – being touted as the next 24, Kevin Bacon stars in this mid-season show where he plays a former FBI agent, who is now tracking a vast network of serial killers. The drama is from Kevin Williamson (Vampire Diaries, Dawson’s Creek). Yes, a good one.
- The Mindy Project — written and starring Mindy Kaling (The Office). Of note, NBC, the network where Kaling cut her comedic chops, took a pass on the project – so let’s see. Fox is giving it a good shot though, slating it in following breakout hit New Girl. Has potential.
- Partners — Michael Urie and David Krumholtz play friends and business partners — one gay, one straight — whose relationship becomes comically complicated when Krumholtz’s character proposes to his girlfriend. Created by Max Mutchnik from Will & Grace so gives them a good shot; plus in a good timeslot.
- Vegas – Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis star in this period piece set in the 1960s and centered around the true story of Ralph Lamb, a rodeo cowboy turned longtime sheriff of Las Vegas. Great cast, should do well if it can attract the right audience.
- The Job – unscripted reality series from Mark Burnett and Michael Davies. Enough said – Burnett is gold.
- 666 Park Ave — Based on the book series by Gabriella Pierce, at 666 Park Avenue. When Jane Van Veen (Rachael Taylor) and Henry Martin (Dave Annable), an idealistic young couple from the Midwest, are offered the opportunity to manage the historic building, they not only fall prey to the machinations of Doran and his mysterious wife, Olivia (Vanessa Williams), but unwittingly begin to experience the shadowy, supernatural forces. This is airing on Sunday and people have become used to seeing Williams here in Desperate Housewives, so people may tune in.
- Nashville– a family soap that follows two musicians — the star (Connie Britton) and the star-in-training (Hayden Panettiere) — through the country music scene. Also starring Eric Close, Powers Booth and Jonathan Jackson. Country is hot, could do well if the right audience tunes in.
- How to Live with Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life) — Polly (Sarah Chalke) is a single mom who’s been divorced for almost a year. The transition wasn’t easy for her, especially in this economy. So, like a lot of young people living in this new reality, she and her daughter, Natalie (Rachel Eggleston), have moved back home with her eccentric parents, Elaine (Elizabeth Perkins) and Max (Brad Garrett). Right cast, could do well.
- The Carrie Diaries — starring AnnaSophia Robb as the incomparable and iconic Carrie Bradshaw growing up in the 1980s, will follow in Gossip Girls stylish heels at 9:00-10:00 p.m. This show will likely do very well given continued interest in Sex and the City and the show’s timeslot.
So which shows do you think will do well this year. Check out each Network’s web site:
Somewhere in the midst of all the excitement at this week’s Emmy Awards, Sofia Vergara was tweeting away, letting her 771,000 followers know what the experience was like and how she had used some of her favorite cosmetics to get extra beautiful for the event … amongst them was our client, COVERGIRL.
Widely cited as one of the most beautiful women at the “must be seen” event, becoming a part of the bigger story was clearly a coup for COVERGIRL. But was it just serendipity? After all, before making Ms. Vergara one of the new faces of COVERGIRL, the brand knew the popular actress had a substantial social media graph – including many potential users of the brand – and was highly engaged in connecting with it. How it would factor in the relationship was an upfront consideration, not an afterthought.
There’s been a dramatic shift in the way that celebrity endorsers are activating their social networks on behalf of brands. Where once there was a reluctance to bring the two worlds together, celebrities now market their social graph as part of their overall assets. Conversely, brands are evaluating celebrities in terms of who’s following them and how valuable those fans are to expanding their influence.
We’ve witnessed the power of celebrities to enlist their networks behind a call-to-action and deliver immediate traction. From enlisting Khloe Kardashian to tweet about the U by Kotex “Declaration of Real Talk” campaign to social media momentum fueled by “Body of Proof” actress, Dana Delany, for our client Caltrate’s “Women Move the World” initiative. Delany’s targeted blog postings (and live tweets throughout the duration of the program as well as backstage at The View with Lady Gaga) drove consumer awareness and interest, contest entries and 1:1 brand interaction.
Social media has also changed the way celebrities and brands see their relationships. There’s no such thing as a one-off relationship any more. Comments, tweets, Facebook postings and the like, extend the celebrity’s relationship with the brand indefinitely. That is both a value for the brand and a potential liability. For the celebrity, it is another negotiating point which may raise their fee. Be ready.
Ms. Vergara’s visibility around this week’s festivities was a fantastic reminder that today the celebrity/brand relationship goes well beyond the media coverage it generates. Are we leading to a day in the not too distant future when the first question we ask a star or starlet is: “Who follows you?” I suspect they won’t be surprised when you ask.
First it was Oprah, deciding after 25 years to leave the show that made her a mega-star (the finale is May 25th and ad rates for the final week are expected to be $1 million per 30-second spot – nearly that of the Academy Awards). Then the unexpected announcement that Regis Philbin, a daytime fixture for 28 years, will “retire” from showbiz (a decision that may have been driven by a pay cut that his agent of nearly 30 years just could not negotiate around – he has since been fired). And just last week two highly respected anchors who broke the glass ceiling in network news announced they would vacate their seats – Meredith Vieira leaving TODAY in September and Katie Couric departing the CBS Evening News in June. Insiders say Katie won’t be absent for long with all of the major networks courting her for a possible talk show in 2012. And if you believe the rumors, she and Matt Lauer may team up again when his TODAY contract expires in 2012.
With so many viewers potentially up in the air now, there will certainly be a ratings grab. So what’s the face of TV going to look like this fall and beyond?
Here’s Haber’s hunches –
Anderson Cooper’s new syndicated Warner Brothers show “Anderson” is one to watch. WB is putting a lot of money into this “Oprah meets Dr. Phil” talk show format that launches this fall. Not all publicists are thrilled: at the recent WB upfront presentation, Anderson said he is not fond of commercial/product plugs. Let’s see how this plays out. Most major shows have to play the game as so many top celebs line their pockets as brand spokespeople. Not to mention the fact that the networks are pulling down big money through integrations. Plus, with Warner’s strong integrated team (Ellen, EXTRA), this is almost a given. Of note, Anderson will shoot out of the Time Warner Center.
Rosie O’Donnell’s new show on OWN is also one to watch – kind of like a train wreck? She may be Oprah’s network savior or a powder keg about to blow. Oprah’s struggling network, which has seen ratings lower than its previous tenant (Discovery Health), needs a face and a voice to firmly establish itself. We all know Rosie has the voice – but is it the right one? Oprah thinks so, and has handed over the keys to the Harpo kingdom in Chicago for her to tape out of. According to those in the executive suite, this also allows Oprah to keep a close eye on Rosie. Let’s see how that plays out as we have all seen how volatile Rosie can be whenever someone shares their input and opinions with her – even if it is her boss. Ask Barbara Walters how that went. Regardless, there will certainly be a lot of hype and buzz when she takes to the airwaves and at this point, any news will be good news for OWN.
Where are you Oprah? Rumors have it that once her network show wraps in May, Oprah will have more of a presence on OWN (and not just via Oprah TV show repeats). Whether that was planned or was in response to top advertisers pressuring her due to low ratings, the bottom line is, her name is on the network. So her face needs to be there too and in real-time. Expect her to shake things up – and maybe even create another Oprah fronted show for OWN – although a year ago, that was not even under consideration. Let’s see what the reigning Queen of daytime TV does and see if viewers will still tune in – that is, if they can find the channel. FYI, it’s CH 115 in NYC on Time Warner Cable.
LIVE with “?” & Kelly — this should get interesting. Next to Oprah, LIVE with Regis & Kelly is the top-rated talk show on TV. And everyone knows Regis is the ratings draw. The insider game plan seems to be that once Regis leaves late summer/early fall, they will begin ‘testing’ talent alongside Kelly. No one wants to make a quick decision as there is just too much at risk.
The Ellen DeGeneres Show — expect Warner Bros to push this show even harder – more promos, more surprises, and if all planets align, higher ratings. Many expect that Ellen will take the coveted 4pm Oprah timeslot in many major markets across the country, a critical time for the network affiliates as it is the lead-in for their local newscasts.
Dr. Drew Pinsky — another Warner Bros entry into daytime TV will be the famed Dr. to the stars (well, the rehabbed ones). He will enter this fall with a show that will touch on familiar topics like addiction and relationship problems, bringing in experts to weigh in on the issues. If done right – by adding some of the drama that has made Celebrity Rehab a success, this show has great potential.
Time will tell, so let’s see where the eyeballs land and who survives or who becomes a network footnote of what could have been (sorry, Nate Berkus).
Rumors have been swirling about who will replace NBC Today Show co-host Meredith Vieira following news that she is leaving the show when her contract expires in September. NBC was said to be courting Katie Couric to make a comeback as her CBS Evening News contract expires in June. That probably won’t happen because she has been discussing other talk show opportunities with ABC and NBC. News anchor Ann Curry appears to be the leading contender to replace Vieira. Other sources say Natalie Morales, Washington correspondent Savannah Guthrie and CNBC’s Erin Burnett are also in the running.
Vieira, who is leaving to spend more time with her husband, Richard Cohen, who has multiple sclerosis, will most likely keep her Who Wants to be a Millionnaire gig for now – but is considering other opportunities as well that will not be as time consuming.
Time will tell…
So did you know Oprah’s OWN Network officially launched? Right, neither did a LOT of people – one just needs to look at the dangerously low ratings, which are even dipping lower than the channel’s previous tenant, Discovery Health. So what’s a new Network to do after it just spent $10 million launching to big fanfare two months ago? REBOOT. What does that mean? Well, the message is directed to existing and potential advertisers – big advertisers that have invested record amounts of money in OWN (including client P&G, which put down $100 million for three years). OWN has already cut back the number of nights of original programming (from four to three), is putting a rush on its celebrity reality shows featuring Naomi and Wynonna Judd, Shania Twain and the Sarah Ferguson and not surprisingly, making Season 25: “Oprah Behind the Scenes” its anchor show.
No matter what they call it, the reality is, people tune in to see Oprah and if she does not have a strong presence on the Network and is not able to connect with viewers on a more frequent and personal level, rebooting may not give the Network the kick in the pants it needs to survive.