TV Surf Report: Branding In Television — Who’s Succeeding and Who’s Failing in 2017


Santa Monica, CA — These days, it’s All About Your Brand. For Networks, this is a challenge to define itself to not only its audience, but also to advertisers seeking to reach a specific audience and to creatives who seek to do business with the network.

Also, are your viewers engaged on Social Media and talking about your series? That’s important in today’s crowded landscape:

Buzz. Word of Mouth. Free Advertising.

Some Networks, Cable Channels, and Streaming Services are better than others when it comes to Branding. There are brain trusts at each company desperately trying to solve this Marketing/Advertising Puzzle which sometimes seems more like the Riddle of the Sphinx:

Dear God, What’s Our Effing Brand?????

Here’s a look at The Players, Their Signature Series, Demos and level of Social Media Engagement:

  The Broadcast Networks

(ranked in order of Most Successful Brand):

  1. The CW
  2. CBS
  3. NBC
  4. FOX
  5. ABC


ABC boasts the top-rated new drama series of the season: The Good Doctor in addition to its diverse lineup of half-hour comedies (Black-ish, Fresh Off the Boat, Modern Family), reality programming (DWTS, Shark Tank) and its aging TGIT Shonda Rhimes franchise that includes veteran Grey’s Anatomy, the series finale season of Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder.  What is its Brand though? Am guessing it’s We Love Diverse Family Programming!  Problematic because I am unsure.

  • Demo: 18–49
  • Social Engagement via Twitter: 456k (should be stronger). The Good Doctor has 34.6k followers while Grey’s Anatomy has 4.18 million!
  • Signature Series:  Modern Family, Grey’s Anatomy, Shark Tank
  • Notable Development: A reboot of American Idol looks solid, but a questionable re-boot of Roseanne evokes strong feelings of anxiety. Larry Wilmore has a  Super Hero Middle Eastern Family Comedy Mash Up , which seems to hit a lot of boxes, Brand-wise. We shall see! Meanwhile, Shonda Rhimes has a Firefighting spinoff of Grey’s Anatomy in production. She is very engaged on Social Media and is one of many Creators who live-tweet during episodes.



CBS markets itself as America’s Most Watched Network.  That’s a Brand, or is it? From shows like The Big Bang Theory to spinoff Sheldon, Mom, Criminal Minds, Madam Secretary, 60 Minutes, and Football, CBS has everyone covered. It’s demo audience is traditionally older-skewing so the challenge is to create programming that will draw in younger viewers. CBS’ audience is also more rural.

  • Demo: 18-Dead;
  • Signature Series:  The Big Bang Theory, 60 Minutes, Survivor
  • Social Engagement via Twitter: 940k. The Big Bang Theory 4.71m followers while 60 Minutes has only 926k. Star Trek: Discovery which airs on CBS All Access has a mere 73.1k followers.
  • Notable Development: A re-boot of Magnum, P.I. and a remake of L.A. Confidential



NBC is desperately trying to reclaim its once uber-successful Must-See TV brand by taking a gamble by re-booting Will & Grace, once a Thursday night staple.  The gamble paid off, and now The Peacock has something else to sqawk about besides its Emmy nominated monster hit drama, This Is Us. Now, if it could only launch another successful comedy.

  • Demo: 18-49
  • Social Engagement via Twitter: 1.74 million; Interestingly, NBC has the largest following on Twitter among the Big Four (edging FOX and nearly double of CBS) This Is Us has 240k while The Voice boasts 5.2m followers.
  • Signature Series: The Voice, This Is Us, Saturday Night Live keep NBC relevant and popular amongst younger, urban viewers.
  • Notable Development: An ill-advised reboot of The Munsters and Miami Vice; and, a remake of Blue Crush, which could work. Girls Surf!



FOX is a network that used to have an Edgy Brand (younger, raunchy comedies and young adult dramas that appealed to the 18-34 demo), but now it’s grown into an older netlet that’s happy with 18-49 aged viewers who have yet to tire of The Simpsons or The X-Files.  Throw in Empire for some diversity.  Fox still has a “We’re younger than The Big Three” kinda aura about it, but it’s not really true.  The Gifted is this season’s biggest gamble trying to ride the Marvel Studio and X-Men gravy train.

  • Demo: 18-49
  • Signature Series: The Simpsons, The X-Files, Empire
  • Social Engagement via Twitter: 1.23m; The Simpsons has 929k followers while The X-Files has only 276k. Meanwhile, Empire 1.48 million followers. Meanwhile, The Gifted has a mere 26.7k followers. Not a good sign.
  • Notable Development: The Passage adaptation; a reboot of Kung Fu and a remake of True Lies. Ho hum.



The CW has The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.

Super Heroes. DC Comics.

This netlet very much has a Brand of Youth Appeal. Toss in Riverdale, Jane the Virgin, and My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and it’s clear The CW also has some Edge, as well. Supernatural has to end at some point. Dynasty looks like a big Miss, though. Advertisers know who they are pitching to, which is quite valuable, Brand-wise.

  • Demo: 12-34 male and female.
  • Social Engagement via Twitter: 857k (strong). The Flash boasts 1.64 million, Arrow has 2.11 million followers, and Riverdale has 660k.
  • Notable Development: Black Lightning, a black Super Hero series from DC. A re-boot of Roswell with a notable Immigration Theme; a Sabrina the Teenage Witch spinoff from RiverdaleThe Wayward Sisters, a spinoff from Supernatural; and, It’s The End of the World As We Know It adaptation with Rob Thomas (I-Zombie) exec producing. Alien Invasion Dramas, always worth a shot, yes? The CW Has Aliens On Its Mind


N E X T   U P:

Pay Cable and Basic Cable.


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TV Surf Report: All Hail The Return of The Spinoff


Santa Monica, CA — Blame uber-producer Norman Lear for TV’s current trend of taking a successful series and creating a spin-off of that show.  In the ’70s, Lear created All in the Family for CBS which successfully spun off Maude, Good Times, and The Jeffersons.

Spinoffs Work.

CBS has reached back into its ’70s playbook with the premieres of two big Spinoffs: The first, Young Sheldon, is a spin-off of The Big Bang Theory, the number one comedy on broadcast TV. Iain Armitage from Big Little Lies stars as the younger version of Jim Parsons, who serves as both narrator and EP. The network gave a full-season pickup to this spinoff after the first episode premiered to big numbers.

The second, Star Trek: Discovery, is of course the latest in a long line of spinoffs of NBC’s Star Trek which is produced for CBS All Access by Paramount TV, a sister company of CBS in the Viacom empire. Jason Isaacs and Michelle Yeoh lead a very diversely cast ensemble crew in this prequel series which hinges on battles with The Klingons.


Aside from the glut of DC spinoffs on The CW, here are some notable Spinoffs in development and/or production:

  • House of Cards at Netflix. Multiple spinoffs in the works as series concludes in 2018.
  • Sabrina, The Teenage Witch at The CW. A darker contemporary version from the Riverdale universe.
  • Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists at Freeform. A few Liars move on to a college town, continue to lie and continue to get caught up in murder.  I. Marlene King adapts Sara Shepard’s best-selling book and EPs. Sasha Pietese and Janel Parrish star.
  • Suits at USA.  Gina Torres’ lawyer character gets her own series set in Chicago.
  • How I Met Your Father at 20th (and presumably CBS). Spin-off of How I Met Your Mother which made a cool $1b for 21st Century Fox, so why not.
  • Supernatural at The CW. Now in its 12th season, the women of Supernatural get their own show, The Wayward Sisters, where naturally, they will battle monsters.


  • Game of Thrones at HBO.  The pay cabler is developing no less than five spinoffs, prequels, successors of the mega-hit adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s Song of Fire & Ice series.  Max Borenstein (Kong: Skull Island) and Jane Goldman (Kingsman) are two of the scripters. Bryan Cogman, who has been with GOT since its beginning, pens #5 much to the delight of Martin. Bodes well for fans of Westeros. Brian Hegeland and Carly Wray are two others. Meanwhile, I am still waiting for Martin to finally publish Book 7, entitled, The Winds of Winter.
  • Mayans MC at FX.  Sons of Anarchy begets a new chapter.  I trust the creative brain trust at FX to get this right.
  • College-ish at Freeform. In another very synergistic move, ABC’s Black-ish spin-off is laid off at sister network, Freeform. Eldest daughter goes to college.  Sounds like A Different World, the collegiate spin-off from The Cosby Show. Could work…again.
  • Seattle Fire at ABC.  Shonda Rhimes spins off a firehouse drama from Grey’s Anatomy.  Series order. Stacy McKee scripts this ensemble drama. Gonna be hot.
  • The New Pope at HBO. Paolo Sorrentino begins a new chapter following the success of limited series The Young Pope starring Jude Law. One Pope too many?


Am sure there are more Spinoffs to come.  Some will work. Some will fail. For every Young Sheldon, there’s always an After-MASH.

Hey, that’s Show Business.

N E X T   U P:

My 53,000-mile TuneUp. An Unaffordable Care Act.


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TV Surf Report: Ye, God(s) — Religion & Faith are Trending and Make For Topical, Compelling & Entertaining Storytelling


Santa Monica, CA — Anyone else notice that God is trending in TV right now? If you like a little Irreverence with your Reverence, then dear Reader, you are in Luck as series dealing with Religion, Faith, Mythology, and Historical Fiction are available for your viewing pleasure.

There are a lot of religious-themed shows across All Platforms (Pay Cable, Basic Cable, Broadcast, Streaming), and they encompass many Genres.

What’s the buzz, tell me what’s happening?

Religion, like Television, is a Worship Game:

Whomever Has The Most Followers … Wins.

That’s a butchered quote from a scene in S1 of American Gods, but hopefully, you get the point: God is Hot right now!

Starz’ glorious adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s brilliant novel enjoyed a stellar first season  and nabbed a coupla Emmy nominations (technical) along the way.  Full credit goes to Exec Producers Bryan Fuller and Michael Green for their super smart expansion of Gaiman’s meditation on Religious Darwinism and Cultural Worship.

Old Gods have awakened to the threat of New Gods in a fascinating battle played out across America via Social Media making for very Topical Television.


A shout-out to my former boss (casting director) Margery Simkin for her stellar work:  Ricky Whittle, Bruce Langley, Yetide Badaki, Crispin Glover along with Bryan Fuller favorites Gillian Anderson (Hannibal) and Kristin Chenoweth (Pushing Daisies) make for a terrific cast.

American Gods may be one of the most diverse series on Television right now.  It’s a really wonderful intersection of Mythology and Religious Studies and perfect viewing for wannabe Seminarians like me.


Meanwhile, The Young Pope has made a Believer out of me.  Just in the nick of time, too, as my Southern Baptist upbringing was in danger of wearing off completely.

HBO’s terrific limited run series demands a lot from the Viewer as Jude Law’s character questions God’s existence which I found to be very compelling Television:  Who better to have a Crisis of Faith than The Pope?!

Another Emmy contender here with Paolo Sorrentino’s original storytelling so wonderfully humanizing a world leader at a time when the World is questioning everything.  Just terrific.

And the supporting cast is just wonderful, both American and especially, the Italians. Silvio Orlando is my new favorite actor. Bravo to Diane Keaton, as well. Their characters pray for forgiveness for exercising their Free Will to take matters into their own hands (and presumably, out of God’s).

HBO plans a sequel, entitled, The New Pope. (Spoiler Alert!)


And, Preacher on AMC is kicking butt in its second season.  This is so not Touched By An Angel, but that does not mean the storytelling is not equally as moving as the Roma Downey series.

(Speaking of Roma Downey, she and husband Mark Burnett have set up a limited series at Netflix, called, Messiah, with Michael Petroni (Chronicles of Narnia) scripting. )

Dominic Cooper is fantastic as a small-town Texas minister, the only person on the planet who can contain the God Force in this adaptation of a graphic novel. It’s very violent, but there is a cool twisted sense of humor to the violence reminiscent of Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill.

Another fantastic supporting cast here led by Graham McTavish (Outlander).


HBO just concluded its fantastic religious-themed series, The Leftovers, which also takes place in a small Texas town (and is also an Adaptation). There is so much tension in this series that, at times, I found it difficult to watch, anticipating some horrible act about to happen. Justin Theroux stars as the town sheriff, a man who seemingly cannot die. He is surrounded by a town full of zealots awaiting the Rapture. A fascinating drama, to be sure. There is a lot to discuss here, theologically speaking. Paging a Theologian!


One of the most buzzed-about new series of 2017 is The Handmaid’s Tale, starring Emmy-winner Elizabeth Moss, in this chilling adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s brilliant novel about the Patriarchy denying women not only religious freedom but also controlling their reproductive rights.

This Emmy-winning drama series has become a cultural influencer and put Hulu front and center as a destination for Creatives in Hollywood.  The feature film starring Natasha Richardson seems all but forgotten.

Greenleaf is now in S3 on OWN. Craig Wright’s soapy drama, starring Lynn Whitfield, about a Southern mega-church and the behind-the-pulpit machinations demonstrates that God can handle just about any backdrop:  Science Fiction & Fantasy to Historical Fiction to Horror to Soap Opera.


Outcast on Cinemax and Wynonna Earp on SyFy also dabble in Religion and Faith especially when it comes to Hell, always a popular fictional talking point for storytellers dating back to Dante.

I fully expect Showtime to tackle Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles which include popular books like The Vampire Lestat and Memnoch The Devil.  In the latter, Lestat travels to Hell in an adventure with The Devil.  Rice masterfully meditates on Christian mythology, but the content is too adult for broadcast television.

Premium pay cable (HBO, Starz, Cinemax) and Basic Cable (AMC, OWN, SyFy) and Streaming (Hulu) can handle complex ruminations on Religion, so why doesn’t Broadcast?

It’s been years since Touched By An Angel anchored Sunday nights on CBS.  Roma Downey has produced several Jesus-centric miniseries for NBC in the intervening years, and her production company (with husband Mark Burnett) has developed several pilots based on Biblical stories.


BBC One is adapting Sir Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman’s dark comic Good Omens which features David Tennant and Michael Sheen as an Angel and a Demon who share a flat in London.  Six episodes have been ordered.

ABC has the upcoming new drama series Kevin (Probably) Saves The World which stars Jason Ritter as a guy who is met by a messenger from God.  The writers behind Agent Carter present this fun take which feels Capra-esque.  Here is the Trailer for the Pilot

Meanwhile, CBS tries with By The Book, a comedy starring Ian Gomez, that used to be titled Living Biblically, about a guy living according to the rules of The Bible.  Johnny Galecki  (TBBT)  produces this adaptation of the popular book.


Hold up, though! There’s The Exorcist and Lucifer on Fox.

One is a TV remake of a feature film, and the other is an adaptation of a DC Comic.

Horror and Comedic drama can take on God, too. Or rather, God transcends all Genres!

More importantly, they appeal to an international audience.  Religion and religious mythology play pivotal roles in both series where God is the unseen Antagonist, if you will.

Both series appeal to a that much desired demographic: Young Adults.


And come April 1, 2018 — look to NBC for a live musical update of Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice’s rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar.

My mind is clearer now…at last, all too well, I can see where we all soon will be.

Craig Zadan & Neil Meron produce along with Marc Platt (LaLa Land).  Event Programming is alive and well, and JCS: Live! is timed not un-coincidentally right before Easter. Last year, Fox broadcast Tyler Perry’s production of The Passion. Expect bigger ratings and an international audience plus DVD sales for JCS.

Full Disclosure:  I know this soundtrack by heart. The film was one of my most memorable movie-going experiences as a child. And, I may have acted in a production (or two).

Prepare Ye: It’s only a matter of time before someone reboots GODSPELL

Cue DishwallaAll Your Thoughts On God

And lastly, Whoopi Goldberg reunited the cast of Sister Act to celebrate its 25th Anniversary on The View.  Just watching these Nuns sing one song from that film make me feel a moment of Joy, and that’s missing from broadcast TV right now.  Heads Up, ABC and Disney: There is a TV remake ripe for the producing here: Whoopi Directs “I Will Follow Him”


N E X T   U P:


Unaffordable Care Acts.



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TV Surf Report: Creative Remakes And Nostalgic Reboots Continue To Trend In Hopes of Breaking Through The Clutter


Santa Monica, CA — Nostalgia. Escapism. Feel Good TV.

What’s Old Is New Again. And Again.

Hollywood wants to soothe The Viewer with Old Chestnuts, with new takes on familiar titles and with tales of the Future in which Mankind survives this century’s political turmoil and threat of nuclear war as well as Climate Change.

In the Age of Reality Stars As World Leaders, Hollywood thinks The Viewer needs to Escape (Lost in Space, anyone?) or to laugh (The Munsters, The Jetsons).

Broadcast, Cable and Streaming also have a marketing problem. Remakes and Reboots are one answer to the problem of breaking through the Glut of Programming and reaching The Viewer:

Consume This!

You Liked It Before Even Though You May Be Too Young To Remember It!

See Twin Peaks: The Return on Showtime.

Also, in the Age of Vertical Integration, Networks that are sister companies to Studios with vast Libraries of Content are financially bound to raid the pantry, as it were: Fargo, Hawaii Five-0, and Battlestar Galactica are good examples.

One problem I foresee is that Baby Boomers are the Programmers and are the only people who remember these titles, and yet, they are programming for Millennials, who do not know most of these series or films, returning yet again:


  • Galaxy Quest at Amazon. Paul Scheer scripts this “continuation” of the feature. No original cast members set yet. Am surprised Paramount let this go to Amazon vs. its own emerging cable network.
  • Deadwood on HBO. Ian MacShane and Timothy Olyphant are set to return in HBO’s Western famous for its salty language.
  • The Twilight Zone at CBS All Access. Jordan Peele is set to revive the classic anthology series. This feels like a winning combination of Right Time for Right Show with the Right Writer. Looking forward.
  • Blue Crush at NBC. Hawaii. Surfing. Blue Skies.  Now, this is a remake I can fully support.  The 2002 John Stockwell film starring Kate Bosworth gets made over for TV.
  • Magnum, P.I. at CBS. Really? No one under the age of 50 knows this series, so why re-boot? Jeez, CBS! Pretty lame. Blue Skies. Hawaii. Replacement for the aging Hawaii Five-O re-boot, most likely.
  • Roswell at The CW.  Aliens Among Us in New Mexico: Now With Immigrants! Thanks, Amblin TV. Ugh. Possibly compatible with the Riverdale, I suppose. Ugh.
  • Amazing Stories at Apple TV.  Bryan Fuller (American Gods) and Amblin reboot Spielberg’s anthology series for a new player in Streaming.
  • Stargate: Origins at MGM Digital. Prequel series featuring 10-minute episodes. It’s a brand new world of programming out there!
  • Black Widows at ABC.  Leonardo DiCaprio EPs this US remake of a Finnish drama about three women in a mountain town, all of whom lose their husbands in a boating accident.  Drama and intrigue ensue.
  • First Wives Club at Paramount Network. The hit film gets re-made as a half-hour show about female friendship and revenge. Tracy Oliver, the screenwriter of Girls Trip, scripts. Let’s re-make every Bette Midler film, shall we?
  • Hocus Pocus at Disney Channel. Sorry, but the original stars (Midler, Najimy, Parker) and the director (Ortega) are not involved in this re-boot/re-make. This title has more steam as a Feature, I would think, but hey, it’s a new world out there.
  • Kung Fu at Fox. Gender flip lead character gets a pilot commitment with uber-producer Greg Berlanti showrunning. Not optimistic.
  • Get Christie Love at ABC. Vin Diesel godfathers this revival of a one-season detective show from the ’70s.
  • Underworld at TBD.  Len Wiseman’s successful film franchise about Vampires versus Werewolves moves to television after wearing out its welcome in The Movies.  20th Century Fox and Sony TV are targeting premium cable/digital to broadcast/stream.
  • Das Boot at Sky. The Wolfgang Peterson film gets re-imagined for television with the update starring Lizzy Caplan, Vincent Kartheiser, and James D’Arcy. No USA broadcast partner yet.
  • True Lies at Fox. Corporate Synergy is alive and well as the network remakes a popular title from the film studio library.  James Cameron is on board to EP.  I have a good feeling about this one. Right Film. Right Network. Right Timing.
  • L.A. Confidential at CBS. Curtis Hanson’s Oscar-winning period noir detective yarn gets a TV remake. Moody and female-centric. I have a good feeling about this one. Not the first try at adapting this book/film for TV.
  • Greatest American Hero at ABC. Gender flip. Pilot commitment.
  • Perry Mason at HBO. Robert Downey Jr. stars in this reboot of the classic legal drama which starred Raymond Burr. Rolin Jones (Weeds) and Ron Fitzgerald (Friday Night Lights) script. Am hoping Downey does away with his trademark snark.
  • Starsky & Hutch at Amazon. James Gunn (GOTG) can do pretty much whatever he wants in TV, so Sony is going with the flow and re-booting this buddy cop series from the ’70s and hopefully not the Ben Stiller/Owen Wilson feature.
  • Jumper at TBD. Actor Jamie Bell and writer Julian Simpson (Doctor Who) are looking to adapt this 2008 feature which co-starred Bell (and Hayden Christiansen) as teens who teleport and who are being pursued by malevolent folk intent on their  destruction. I liked the movie.  Good idea that’s perfect for The CW or Starz.  Lionsgate produces, so I’d bet on Starz. Film is an adaptation of a series of novels by Steven Gould. The third novel, Impulse, is in development at YouTube Red with Doug Liman attached to produce/direct.
  • Your Honor at TBD. This Israeli drama, about a judge involved in a hit and run, gets a US remake. Peter Moffat (The Night Of) and Robert & Michelle King (The Good Wife) exec produce. Expect premium cable or CBS All Access to be the buyer.
  • The Jetsons at ABC.  This seems like a Hail Mary! attempt as the network will ride the Nostalgia Wave by giving Robert Zemeckis a Pilot commitment to transform the well-loved animated classic into a live-action multi-camera sitcom.  Oy vey!
  • The Birds at BBC. I am looking forward to seeing what the Brits do with this Alfred Hitchcock horror classic film.


  • The Munsters at NBC. Oh, I don’t think this was the best of Ideas, Bob Greenblatt. No one under the age of 50 knows this title.  It is the definition of an old chestnut.
  • The Karate Kid at You Tube Red.  Ralph Macchio returns in this sequel series to the successful film franchise he and Pat Morita launched several decades ago!
  • Miami Vice at NBC.  Vin Diesel scores a big title with his overall deal with Universal, so expect NBC or USA to be the first stops for this re-boot.
  • The L Word at Showtime. Original cast members eyeing a return to a Sequel rather than a re-boot of the popular and groundbreaking Lesbian drama series.
  • Teen Wolf at MTV.  All new cast. All new wolves.
  • Tales of the City at Netflix.  Hey, this series re-boot also qualifies as an adaptation thanks to author Armisted Maupin’s newspaper columns and books, but more likely, it’s a re-boot of the successful miniseries that ran on PBS and later on Showtime.  Lead actors Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis are back for more drama at 28 Barbary Lane. Update is contemporary, so I am guessing it’s Mrs. Madrigal’s swan song.
  • Tremors at SyFy. So much for re-branding. Kevin Bacon reprises his role from the 1990 cult favorite featuring giant Graboid worms out for blood! UCP and Blumhouse produce. Hope they make it fun and not take themselves seriously. Vincenzo Natali to direct. Molto Bene!
  • Herbie The Love Bug at Disney XD.  Okay, this could be fun.  Miss you, Dean Jones.  Michele Lee, are you in on it?
  • The Good Doctor  at ABC.  A re-make of a South Korean show brought to ABC Studios by Daniel Dae Kim (Hawaii Five-0).  Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel) stars as a brilliant young doctor with a handicap. Here’s the Preview Trailer
  • S.W.A. T.  at CBS. Shemar Moore stars in the TV version of the 2003 Neil Moritz film, which was a feature version of a ’70s TV series.  Justin Lin, Shawn Ryan EP with a hundred other guys, it seems. Just what audiences need:  Another cop show. Yawn.


  • Snowpiercer at TNT.  Daveed Diggs (Black-ish, Hamilton) to star. Scott Derrickson (Doctor Strange) directs the TV version of Boon Joon Ho’s futuristic film about a train filled with humanity’s survivors circling the globe. Josh Friedman (Sarah Conner Chronicles) is the showrunner. Pilot order. Sign me up!
  • Charmed at TBD. The CW developed a re-boot. Netflix may have it now. So far, this way-too-soon re-boot continues to be up in the air.  Oy! Thumbs down.  The creative auspices for The CW version are from Jane the Virgin, so we shall see if this moves forward off-cycle there or at Netflix.
  • What About Bob? at NBC. Gender flip. Sounds terrible. Yet it’s the familiar title that the network (and its studio, Universal) covet. Script order.
  • Dynasty at The CW. Grant Show (Melrose Place) is the new Blake Carrington. Krystle is Latina. Fallon is ….Fallon. Series order.
  • Lost in Space at Netflix.  Series order.  Danger, Will Robinson! Am hoping for a complete re-imagining of this beloved campy classic.
  • Will & Grace at NBC.  Now, NBC has a winner of an Event Series on its hands (or Peacock feathers, if you will) here.  I predict the 10+ episodes will premiere big and ratings will diminish considerably after that…just like the original series! Remarkably, NBC has ordered a S2.  The political humor will be quite timely. The gay jokes will be tiresome. More Grace, Less Will. Here’s the Teaser for the Re-Boot
  • The X-Files at Fox.  Mulder and Scully are coming back for 10 more episodes.  You’ll have to wait until 2018, though.  Meanwhile, check out Gillian Anderson in her fantastic turn as Media on Starz’ terrific American Gods which has been picked up for S2.  Great news for fans of the book.
  • Roseanne at ABC.  I have a very bad feeling about this one.  The entire cast is on board for a revival, though, even both Beckys.
  • She’s Gotta Have It at Netflix.  Spike Lee directs all 10 episodes of the contemporary update of his feature.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess at NBC. Now, this is truly a head-scratcher. The network has killed the script written by Javier Grillo-Marxuach and put aside rebooting this beloved action series.  One would think the Peacock would take advantage of the recent success of Wonder Woman and hop on the female action train while it’s in motion. They remain open to a new take, but this should be on the fast track.


N E X T   U P:
My 53,000-mile Tune Up: An Unaffordable Care Act.



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TV Surf Report: Praise Be! Hollywood Continues to Adapt Books, Graphic Novels and Podcasts


Santa Monica, CAOh, we never take the book, a high-profile literary agent told me recently in a meeting about shopping best-selling books and their prospective TV adaptations.

This year, Hulu hit a creative home run (and marketing tool for Social Protest) with its buzzyworthy adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and Starz also clobbered it with Bryan Fuller and Michael Green’s breathtaking re-working of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

Television is where great books go to thrive.

HBO scored record ratings for its season premiere of its little-known and under-the-radar adaptation, Game of Thrones, however, the Emmys gave lots of Love to the pay cabler’s supposed limited series, Big Little Lies which is based on Liane Moriarty’s novel.

S2 of Big Little Lies starts production in 2018 even though a second book does not exist. That’s how well-received the limited series, starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman, was.  Who needs a second book? David. E. Kelley has written all seven episodes. Here’s a great Interview & Podcast with Reese Witherspoon from The Hollywood Reporter, wherein, the actor/producer details the script-to-screen process. More carpool!


Praise Be! Hollywood Producers, Development Executives and Agents are reading books, graphic novels and listening to podcasts in search of that fantastic Intellectual Property (IP) that can be adapted for Television.

AMC just ordered Dietland to series.  Starz has given the go-ahead to Rook from Stephanie Meyer Amazon has ordered two seasons of Homecoming with Julia Roberts.

Personal Anecdote Alert:  When I was VP, Development for SyFy, the cabler was interested in a sequel to its original miniseries Dune based on Frank Herbert’s first novel. I recall being in New York and buying the next two books in the prolific series and reading them very quickly, proclaiming them extremely worthy of a miniseries.

SyFy pushed the button based on my recommendation and a script was ordered. Important Note:  No one above me in SyFy’s executive ranks bothered to read the books. Try explaining the plot of Dune to a room full of business affairs executives! There’s this Planet…Spice…Giant Worms…Witches…Blue Eyes…House Atreides…


I offer this story to illustrate a point: The folks at Paramount probably did not read all 11 Vampire Lestat novels by Anne Rice when it made that big option earlier this year. That’s not everyone’s job.  But, someone at Anonymous Content probably did, and that person is lucky because her books are wonderful.

Lots to read and to listen to while we wait for author George R. R. Martin to finally publish the next book in his Song of Ice and Fire series for GOT, entitled, The Winds of Winter.

Meanwhile, Anne Rice and Anonymous Content via Paramount are working on The Vampire Chronicles with no broadcaster announced yet. Showtime and BBC One would make a good fit, I think.

Rice, who is very active on Social Media, has been binge-watching Penny Dreadful, John Logan’s brilliant re-telling of horror classics that include Dracula, Frankenstein, The Bride, and Dorian Grey. Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley are not credited, however, with having their work adapted.  Such is Television and properties that exist in the public domain.

Hope the execs at Showtime follow Rice on Facebook. There is a synergistic fit here as Paramount, the studio producing The Vampire Chronicles, is a sister company within the Viacom empire.


Meanwhile, here’s a list of IP currently in either Development or Production.  This list is by no means a comprehensive one of everything out there, just what has caught my attention, so let me know if I have not included your favorite:

  • Welcome to Night Vale at FX. A fictitious radio show covering the supernatural news in the Southwest USA. The popular podcast gets adapted by Sony TV.
  • Wolverine: The Podcast via Stitcher. Now, this is interesting. Marvel Studios is launching a 10-episode podcast murder mystery with Logan as the primary suspect based on The Long Night storyline. Richard Armitage voices Logan.
  • Les Miserables at BBC. Victor Hugo’s novel about Jean Valjean, a man sent to prison for stealing a loaf of bread, gets adapted (again).
  • Catch-22 at Paramount Network (formerly Spike). George Clooney to star and to direct a 6-episode adaptation of Joseph Heller’s book.
  • Crimetown at FX. Another Podcast gets adapted. This one is from the creators of The Jinx. Organized crime and city corruption in Rhode Island take center stage.
  • Inside The Church of Chili’s at NBC.  Inspired by an article in GQ Magazine, this ensemble comedy centers on Super Trainers who travel across the country opening new franchises of a successful restaurant chain. Conde Nast partners with Sony TV.
  • The Lord of the Rings at Amazon. Warner Bros. TV is producing a prequel series adaptation of the J.R.R. Tolkien classic set in Middle Earth. Rotten Tomatoes Predicts Possible Storylines for LOTR Series  This high price-tag fantasy adventure has a multiple-season commitment.  To Gondor!
  • I Know This Much Is True at HBO.  Mark Ruffalo stars in and EPs this 8-hour miniseries adaptation of the Wally Lamb best-selling novel, playing dual roles (Loved It!).  Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine) writes and directs. High hopes for this one.
  • Nancy Drew at NBC.  The teenage sleuth and her best friend get an update (again) after CBS passed on a previous incarnation.  Ah, The Secret Is In The Clock!
  • The Name of the Rose at TBD.  John Turturro and Rupert Everett topline this 8-hour miniseries adaptation of the Umberto Eco best-selling novel.
  • Eligible at ABC. Modern version of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice finds prodigal daughter Liz Bennett returning home to a crazy household that includes her four younger sisters. Jennifer Levin & Sherry Cooper-Landsman script. I. Marlene King exec produces.
  • Happy at Showtime. Chris Meloni (L&O: SVU) stars in this adaptation of Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson’s graphic novel about a corrupt ex-cop turned hitman who has an imaginary blue-winged horse for a friend. Sounds wild.
  • Fahrenheit 451 at HBO. Ray Bradbury’s classic science fiction thriller gets remade with Michael Shannon, Michael B. Jordon, and Martin Donovan starring.
  • The Blinds at TBD. Neil Sternberg’s novel was just published August 1st and was scooped up by Sony TV three weeks later. Story centers on a Texas town, wherein, all the residents or either former criminals or victims of crimes. The Twist is everyone has had their memories erased and has a new chance to begin again. A Thriller.
  • The Haunting of Hill House at Netflix.  Timothy Hutton is to star for Paramount TV and Amblin in this adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s classic novel.  Ten episodes have been ordered straight to series. Mike Flanagan directs.
  • Black Samurai at STARZ. An update of Marc Olden’s novels and a 1977 film courtesy of Jerry Bruckheimer, this is an action-drama about an American soldier who trains with a Samurai master. Common stars and also EPs.
  • A Discovery of Witches at SKY.  Matthew Goode and Teresa Palmer topline this adaptation of Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy.  US Broadcast partner is TBD. It was only a matter of time before Witches got hot again! Oxford locations! I’m in.
  • Things You Should Already Know at CBS. Millennial dating ensemble comedy based on Ben Schwartz and Laura Moses’ book about disposable romance. Sounds a lot like Friends 2017. Will Ferrell exec produces through his Gary Sanchez production company.
  • The Valiant at The CW.  Female Celtic gladiator story based on novel by Lesley Livingston.  Sounds like young Xena to me.
  • Good Omens at Amazon. Limited series produced by BBC Studios based on the book by Neil Gaiman & Sir Terry Pratchett about the Earth’s final days. Hour-long comedy.
  • The Changling at Annapurna.  No buyer yet for a TV version of Victor LaValle’s novel about a newborn and his parents.
  • Ascendant at Starz.  Veronica Roth’s last entry in the popular YA Divergent series gets a TV adaptation following a lukewarm last feature film. Smart move.
  • Dietland at AMC. Marti Noxon’s adaptation of Sarai Walker’s novel has been ordered to series. Juliana Margulies set to star.
  • The Vampire Chronicles at TBD. Christopher Rice writes and EPs this series which seems destined for premium cable. Stay tuned. The Rices post the latest developments on this Vampire Chronicles Facebook Page
  • The Rook at Starz. Stephanie Meyer (Twilight) sold this project to the BBC last year, and now Lionsgate is on board to produce for Starz. Turnaround!
  • Homecoming at Amazon. Julia Roberts stars in this political thriller based on a podcast about government conspiracy. Two seasons ordered! Anonymous Content and Universal Cable produce. Sam Esmail (Mr. Robot) scripts.
  • Today Will Be Different at HBO. More Julia Roberts! JR is attached to star in this miniseries version of Maria Semple’s novel.
  • The Nix at HBO. Nathan Hill’s fun novel gets Meryl Streep as its matriarchal lead.
  • Watchmen at HBO. The graphic novel, not the film. Damon Lindelof (The Leftovers) picks up where Zack Snyder left off…well, not exactly.
  • Little Women at PBS/Masterpiece.  Angela Lansbury is the latest actor to portray Aunt March, so what’s not to like! Looks like a 3-parter.  Oh, Beth.
  • The Passage at Fox. Justin Cronin’s very dark alternate future where a vampiric plague has drastically changed the United States still haunts me.
  • The Underground Railroad at Amazon. Oscar-winner Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) adapts Colson Whitehead’s novel as a limited series.
  • The Alienist at TNT. Luke Evans stars in this adaptation of Caleb Carr’s novel. Now shooting in Budapest.
  • Tales of the City at Netflix.  Unclear if this latest adaptation is based on Armisted Maupin’s columns and books or the successful Showtime re-boot of the PBS Masterpiece original adaptation. Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis are set to return to Barbary Lane in San Francisco.
  • The Witcher at Netflix. A group of young people hunt demons in this series based on Polish novelist Andrzej Sapkowski’s books.  Sean Daniel (The Mummy) produces.  Buffy 2.0 anyone?
  • Rise at NBC. Josh Radnor stars as an inspirational high school drama teacher in this network adaptation of Michael Sokolove’s story. Great auspices:  Hamilton!
  • Patrick Melrose at Showtime. Benedict Cumberbatch. Enough said. However, if you need more, there’s Hugo Weaving, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Blythe Danner starring in this 5-parter based on Edward St. Aubyn’s semi-autobiographical novels.
  • Jack Ryan at Amazon. Tom Clancy’s most famous hero returns, and John Krazinski plays him in what is sure to be a spy thriller.  Watch out, The Americans and Berlin Station, you have competition.
  • Wild Cards at USA.  Another lesser known novel by George R. R. Martin gets set up.
  • NightFlyers at SyFy.  George R. R. Martin could sell his grocery list at this point.
  • Agatha Christie Mysteries at BBC One and Amazon.  Ordeal By Innocence is the latest of these evergreen properties that are getting re-made following recent updates to And Then There Were None (which Lifetime broadcast) and Witness for the Prosecution (Acorn).

Not all adaptations work (i.e., Girl Boss on Netflix lasted just one season while Midnight, Texas on NBC looks like a dud), so why do the networks and streaming services still aggressively pursue IP?

The answer is that it is easier to commit financially to a well-known property with a built-in audience to which a studio and network can market their new show.  The Vampire Chronicles doesn’t even have a network attached yet, but the fans of Rice’s books are waiting with baited breath (and bared fang).

HBO is actively developing multiple prequels to Game of Thrones even though those books have not been written. The audience is that into Westeros and the World of Winterfell and direwolves and sand snakes. It’s the GOT Universe that sells.


Outlander on Starz is such a creative success and its international fan base is incredibly active promoting it on Social Media.  So much so that tourism for locations depicted in the series (both real and imagined) is booming in Scotland.  S3 premieres in September, and S4 has already been ordered.

Sherlock has been made, re-made, re-imagined so so many times. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is probably shouting from his grave If only I had maintained Intellectual Property Rights in perpetuity!

You can bet J.K. Rowling sure has. Tolkien did. So did Christie.

Lastly, here’s an author who so deserves some attention from Hollywood:  Octavia Butler. Look her up. So good.

(Post Script Note: Ava Duvernay just optioned Butler’s novel, Dawn, however, there is no buyer attached yet. Based on her Queen Sugar series, I expect OWN to be the broadcaster.)

N E X T   U P:

My 53,000-mile Tune Up. An Unaffordable Care Act.


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Style Surf Report: Wimbledon And Roger Federer Just Go Together Like Strawberries & Cream


Santa Monica, CA — Who’s ready for Wimbledon, the granddaddy of tennis tournaments:  Roger Federer.  He’s reached the Final this year without dropping a set.  Wow!

Also, Me.  I love The Championships. I get up early, check the scores over Peets Coffee. Watch a match or two, then hit the surf.

Strawberries & Cream. Pimm’s Cups. Oreo McFlurrys. (Wait for it!)

The world’s most marketable sports star is once again on a roll having just won a premier grass-court tune-up tournament in Halle, Germany … for the 9th time in his career.

For 2017, Federer’s record is 30-2, winning four big titles (Aus Open, Indian Wells, Miami Open, and Halle).  He’s pocketed over $5m in prize money, and has well surpassed $100m in career prize money.

Were I a betting man, I would bet on Federer to win Wimbledon for the 8th time.  Initially, I was looking for either Rafael Nadal  or Andy Murray to be across the net in the final broadcast in the US on E S P N and Tennis Channel.  However, Nadal bowed out in the 4th Round, and Murray’s hip gave out in the QFs to Santa Monica’s Sam Querrey.

In fact, here are My Picks For Wimbledon courtesy of Tennis Channel’s Racquet Bracket online pool challenge.  As is tradition, my brother Will and I compete against one another for not only IntraFamily Eternal Glory but also for an Oreo McFlurry from McDonalds .  For the season, Will is up 2-0, so I am hoping for a win for Team Steve!

I did not pick Marin Cilic to reach the final, though.  Congrats, Will.



For Federer, he can add to his 18 grand slam titles and 1,100 match wins in addition to millions of Euros in not only prize money but also in endorsements, where he is The King.  He’s already among Forbes’ Magazine’s Highest Paid Athletes in the world, coming in at No. 4 with over $60m in 2017, most of which comes from lucrative endorsement deals.

For Nike, Wilson, etc., The Championships represents a two-week commercial to advertise the latest Federer gear: White Shirts, Shorts, Headbands, Pullovers, etc. And Wimbledon, would love to sell you that Commemorative Towel Federer uses to wipe the little bit of perspiration from his magnificently calm brow.

What other sports change their clothes as often, I ask you?  Baseball, Basketball, Football — it’s either Home or Away change of gear, yes?

Tennis is lucrative. Tennis is global. Tennis is branded out the wazoo! And Television is the mechanism to market all the clothes, racquets and gear to a worldwide audience.


In January, Federer won his fifth  wearing a Black & White Nike shirt and Black Nike Shorts.  For the North American hard court swing, Federer switched to a Green version of the Henley shirt, which was a best-seller.

For the fashionable Federer fan around the world, one shirt is simply not enough. Point. Click. Purchase.  In 48 hours, you can be decked out in Roger’s championship clothes.

Remarkably, Federer won the Sunshine Double hoisting the trophy at both Indian Wells (d. Wawrinka) and Miami (d. Nadal)… at the advanced age of 35.

You can bet Nike had a clay-court ensemble ready to debut in April, however, Federer skipped the entire Spring season (Monte Carlo, Madrid, Rome, Roland Garros) to rest up for the grass.  He debuted a new blue ensemble in Stuttgart and Halle.

Predictably, I want that shirt, those shorts, those socks and those shoes.  And I can have them too, but it’s gonna cost me.  Ah, the Power of Television, of Subliminal Marketing!


During the 11-month Tennis Season, surfaces change from Hardcourt to Clay to Grass then back to Hardcourt then to Indoor Carpet. So, your Shoes change with the surface, as well.  On Clay, ya gotta slide. On grass, you need not to slip. On hardcourts, you need shoes that breathe.

So, here’s the rundown on Federer Wear, courtesy of Tennis Warehouse.  It’s not inexpensive, but the good news is that Shipping will be free if ya go for the entire Fed Kit.  Just look out for the price-tag for his Rolex watch, though. Yikes!

Tennis Warehouse – Wimbledon White Collection:

  • $249.00  RACKET:  Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autograph (No Strings or stencil)
  • $140.00  SHOES:  Nike Zoom Vapor 9.5 Flyknit
  • $100.00  SHIRT:  Nike Henley (Gotta be All White for Wimbledon!)
  • $  28.00  HAT:  RF Classic
  • $  85.00  SHORTS:  Nike Men’s Summer Flex Ace7
  • $  17.00  HEADBAND:  Nike
  • $  12.00  WRISTBAND (x2): Nike
  • $150.00  JACKET: Nike Men’s Spring Premier RF N98 (It rains in London!)
  • $  25.00  T-SHIRT:  Nike
  • $  13.50  SOCKS: Nike (3-pak!)
  • $150.00  RACKET BAG:  Nike
  • $9,100.00 WATCH: Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust II or the BATMAN GMT (optional as Federer doesn’t wear it during the match, only afterward during trophy presentations)

Sub-total (excluding Rolex):  $1,000 to dress for success.



If Federer’s gear is too pricey for ya, I do have a terrific alternative:  Check out Athletes Collective a Toronto-based company that has some very cool shirts and shorts that work well on and off the court. It’s unbranded, high quality apparel:  Perfect for someone such as myself, who plays 1-2/week on public courts using one racquet and one can of balls with no coach or paparazzi in sight.

I need one good shirt and one good pair of shorts.  These fit the bill nicely.



N E X T   U P:

Subliminal Marketing in Blog Posts: Too Much or Too Little?

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TV Surf Report: Live from Beautiful Downtown Burbank, Surf’s Up at ScriptFest 2017


Santa Monica, CA — Emerging Writers from all over the world converge on beautiful downtown Burbank each year in June for LA’s premiere screenwriting conference, Script Fest, aka, The Pitch Fest.

And I was there.

To consult. To brainstorm. To participate in a panel discussion imparting words of filmmaking wisdom.

Surfing Hollywood Goes to Burbank!

The highlight, of course, is meeting these writers, all eager to hone their pitches to prospective managers and agents, to get feedback on their ideas from production companies, and to learn about the Business of Show from folks like Me:

A theatre producer from Atlanta. A Canadian Jack Of All Trades from Alberta. A writer from Dallas. A psychic from Denver. A musician from Albuquerque.

I sat down with writers and asked So where are you from?  What are you here to do? Who do want to meet? What’s your Story?  And we go from there… The best advice I can give these writers is to pitch their idea back to them using a lot fewer words.  This interchange helps them hone their concept and focus on what their story means to them.  It’s a lot of fun.

Steven James, a best-selling novelist from Eastern Tennessee, moderated a lunchtime Panel Discussion, entitled, Words of Filmmaking Wisdom, which featured screenwriters Chad Hayes & Carey Hayes  (New Mutants, San Andreas, The Conjuring), development guru Danny Manus, and Yours Truly.

The best feedback I received from this panel was from a writer who pulled me aside to whisper, You spoke the least yet said the most.

Fantastic. And much appreciated.

The conversation included lively discussions about Creating Characters, Engaging The Reader, and Pitching Your Story.

Do characters reveal themselves or do they change, and which is most important in a screenplay? Prioritizing one over the other seems silly as it depends on your Story.

Take The X-Files for example: Over the course of 9 seasons plus last year’s re-boot, Mulder’s character is revealed while Scully changes from skeptic to less skeptical. They are the Holmes & Watson of government conspiracy stories.

And then there are the Trends not to chase: Super Heroes. Adaptations. True Crime.


Meanwhile, Steven James can plot a murder mystery and not know who the killer is until he gets to the end of the story, which amazed everyone in the room and on the panel. Such a revelation just goes to show you that not all writers think alike nor do they need to think alike, follow the same rules of Structure, etc.  But Structure is there for a reason, as Danny Manus wisely illustrated with his knowledge of having read and given notes on 3,000+ scripts.

The Hayes Bros. encouraged the assembled writers not to be afraid to break some rules, to have the courage of their convictions, and to know the difference between a Sales Draft (which they call their Flower Draft) and a Shooting Script.

I really enjoyed hearing about how they write as a team (holidays are work days) and how they write action sequences which are intended to put the reader in the car as it flips and crashes down a mountain.  Terrific stuff. Flowery.


Writer Cons like Script Fest are valuable tools for an emerging writer looking to make connections, to hone your ideas, and best of all, to find your Tribe.

A tip of the hat to event producers Signe Olynyk and Bob Schultz who really know how to make a good event great.  Well done.


N E X T   U P:

Roger Federer Dresses For Success At Wimbledon



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Surf Report: My First Job As The Weekend DJ for the Local Radio Station in Hodgenville, Kentucky — Radio Days, Indeed


Santa Monica, CA — Little known fact:  When I was 16 years old, my first job was working as the Weekend DJ at the local radio station in my hometown of Hodgenville, KY (pop. 2,500).  As it turns out, my first job was an important one in my career path.

I am sure I was just terrible:  Squeaky teenage voice. Southern accent. Not much personality.

And yet, I know for a fact that I had a lot of fun.  What a great first job!

Radio Days, indeed.

The year was 1979, and back then, the station, WLCB Radio 1430 AM, was located on the town square, and the DJ booth had windows that faced both the square and the major thoroughfare, Lincoln Boulevard. You had a birds-eye view of the town in two directions (and vice versa).


Rural Americana was personified on Lincoln Square back then: Burba’s Hardware Store, Middleton & Marcum’s Clothing Store, the Five & Dime Store, My Dad’s Insurance Agency, The Local Eye Doctor’s Office, The Bank, The Car Dealership — Donohue Ferrill Motor Co., The Pool Hall, A Gas Station, Western Auto Bike Shop … and WLCB Radio, aka, Lincoln Broadcasting Co.

(Note: My hometown, Hodgenville, is the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, so many businesses adopt his name for their own.)

As teenagers were wont to do back then, my friends would be out riding around and would inevitably swing by the square and honk their car horns as they passed by the station, seeing me in the window, headphones on, microphone suspended in air, turntables spinning.

The Request Line was always open, so they’d call in and request their favorite songs. I recall Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall album was very popular, and Rock With You was everyone’s favorite anthem.  Also, I played a lot of Journey, Styxx, Kansas, KC & the Sunshine Band, etc. The format was most definitely Top 40.  I loved it.


The station manager, Ed Cundiff, was a bit hard of hearing, so he spoke very loudly. It was not uncommon for Ed to call in on the spur of the moment from wherever he was to let me know he was listening and to yell at me for playing a song two times in a row!

You could do that back then:  Play a song you loved so much that you just had to listen to it again (and again). So, I did.

Why Ed hired me, I do not know. It was the less important weekend shift, which meant afternoons on Saturday and all day on Sunday. I was a junior in high school.  Maybe, it was a marketing ploy on Ed’s part: Hire a high-schooler in order to get everyone in high school to listen.

It wasn’t just my friends that listened to WLCB though.  All the local businesses who ran ads dutifully played the station throughout the town. The Friday night football games were broadcast live as were a few local church services on Sunday morning.

On Sundays, I would ride my bike from home to the station at seven in the morning, about a mile, open up, fire up the generator, turn on the news teletype machines (yes, I know how old this makes me sound, but that was the technology back then), and brew some Folgers in the Mr. Coffee.

Church services and gospel music gave way to Top 40, and I remember Sunday afternoons were just the best.  Even my mother, God Bless Her, listened from home in our Sitting Room, where she was probably crocheting something.  She loved Lou Rawl’s You’ll Never Find (Another Love Like Mine).


The highlight of my radio career was a very sad day for my town: A beloved state trooper had been shot and killed, and his funeral procession was a very big deal and came right through town.  I filed a news report that was picked up by radio stations all across the state:

Reporting live from the square in Hodgenville, this is Steve La Rue for WLCB Radio.

It was my first hit of Broadcast Journalism, and I was hooked. Again, I am sure I was terrible. Squeaky teenage voice. Southern accent. Very very little training.

Whatever is the opposite of Gravitas, well I had that.

Today, I came across a Music Video which took me back to those fun-filled days at WLCB Radio 1430 AM.  It’s ON HOLD by The xx, a tune favored by KCRW, my local radio station here in Santa Monica.

The story within the video is a snapshot of small-town life for teenagers in Marfa, Texas: Hanging out. Football Practice. Cheerleaders. Crushes. Just timeless. Marfa represents Any Town in America, including my own hometown of Hodgenville.

So on this Saturday afternoon, this one goes out to all my friends in Hodgenville and Parts Elsewhere.  Thanks for listening!

With On Hold, Here’s The XX…

ON HOLD — The xx


Post Script:

The radio station, WLCB, is no longer a local radio station nor is it on the town square along with Burba’s Hardware, Western Auto, Donohue Ferrill Motor Co., Dr. Sawyer’s Optometry, Middleton & Marcum, the gas station, all of which closed at one point or another when a by-pass was built, so traffic no longer flowed through town.

Kind of a bummer.  Yet, I recall these Radio Days oh so fondly. (WLCB would not be my last job in Radio, though.) Good Music sure can take ya back.

N E X T    U P:

Reporting Live from Script Fest in beautiful downtown Burbank!


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TV Surf Report: True Crime Trending Despite Salacious Stories That Make For Less-Than-Compelling Entertainment


Santa Monica, CATrue Crime Is Not My Genre.

For some reason, I actively shy away from these dramas especially when I lived through the years involving the court case or the television coverage of the murder, crime or scandal (i.e., The People Vs OJ Simpson; Jon Benet Ramsey). In many cases, the victims and their families are still alive and are still in pain.

These stories just do not appeal to me.  I don’t find them entertaining, but apparently, lots of other people do. So get ready, fans of Joe Paterno, Princess Diana and Monica Lewinsky: This TV Is For You.


Here’s what’s in development and/or production:

  • Crimetown at FX. From the creators of The Jinx on HBO, here’s another adaptation of a Podcast, and this one’s about organized crime in Rhode Island.
  • Unsolved at USA. Josh Duhamel stars in this drama investigating the murders of two famous Rappers (Tupac, Notorious B.I.G.).  Here’s theTrailer
  • Waco at Paramount Network (formerly, Spike). Taylor Kitsch stars as cult leader David Koresh in this 6-hour miniseries about the harrowing standoff between the FBI and the Branch Davidians in Texas.  Michael Shannon and Andrea Riseborough also star.  Here is the TRAILER.
  • The Murder of  Laci Peterson at A&E. Her husband, Scott, is in prison for murdering his pregnant wife. Her poor parents.
  • Untitled Joe Paterno Story at HBO with Al Pacino starring as Joe Paterno, the legendary Penn State football coach.  Barry Levinson directs this sordid tale about college football players, coaches, and Pedophilia in the locker room showers. Paterno looked the other way when one of his coaches got way out of line with his players. The scandal is a dark mark on his legacy.
  • Linda and Monica at Amazon. Ugh. Flint Wainess’ Black List Script based on the Clinton-Lewinsky Scandal is probably a good script, but whether this a good story is up for debate. The story of a stained blue dress and best friends. Heartwarming.
  • Law & Order:  True Crime – The Menendez Brothers at NBC.  Two sons of privilege in Beverly Hills murder their parents and go to prison for their crime. An 8-episode series starring Edie Falco, Anthony Edwards, Julianne Nicholson, Constance Marie, Miles Gaston Villanueva and Gus Halp. Heather Graham and Elizabeth Reaser have also joined the growing cast roster. The audience has spoken here and declared this production A FAIL.
  • American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace at FX.  Edgar Ramirez, Ricky Martin, Penelope Cruz and Darren Criss star in the story about the brutal murder of Gianni Versace on the front steps of his own home in Miami’s South Beach.  A manhunt ensued for his killer (Criss).  BBC One just picked this splashy production up for the UK.  Here is the TRAILER.


  • Murder on the Appalachian Trail. Geoff Hood and Molly LaRue (probably a distant relation) were a couple hiking the AT and were brutally murdered by a drifter. Adaptation of Earl Swift’s moving article in Outside Magazine.
  • Diana & I at BBC Two.  Story follows four ordinary people following the week of Diana’s fatal car crash in Paris.  Peter Cattaneo directs.
  • Trust at FX.  The true story of the infamous Getty kidnapping.  Brendan Fraser stars as the investigator.  True Crime and Anthology.
  • Escape at Clinton Correctional at Showtime. Benicio Del Toro and Patricia Arquette star in the limited series about two guys who escape from prison with the help of a female admirer. Ben Stiller executive produces.
  • Fever at BBC America.  Elizabeth Moss stars as Typhoid Mary, a immigrant imprisoned for spreading the disease among wealthy New England families. Based on Mary Beth Keane’s novel.  Megan Ellison and Sue Naegle of Annapurna Films executive produce.
  • A Very English Scandal for BBC One. Hugh Grant stars as a disgraced Prime Minister who was accused and acquitted of murdering his ex-lover. Stephen Frears directs.



Want more True Crime? More on this Trend can be found at SH – More True Crime Series


N E X T   U P:

Event Television Is Alive And Well

As Jesus Christ Superstar and RENT are heading to NBC and Fox




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Style Surf Report: Rafael Nadal Rocks Fashion (And Business) Both On And Off The Court — Vamos!


Santa Monica, CA — This week, the tennis world slides into Paris and the terre battue of Roland Garros, aka, The French Open.  And as you know, dear Readers, when I’m not surfing, I am most likely playing Tennis.

Rafael Nadal, a 9-time champion, is heavily favored to win a 10th RG title (and 15th grand slam title overall, passing Pete Sampras) at the ripe old age of 31.  Seriously, this is kinda old for men’s professional tennis or at least, it used to be.

The top 5 players are all 30+ (Andy Murray is 30, Novak Djokovic is 30, Stan Wawrinka is 32, Nadal, and the evergreen Roger Federer is 35).

Full Disclosure:  The resurgent Nadal is my pick to win not only Roland Garros but also my online pool at Tennis Channel Racket Bracket. My brother Will and I compete against each other for Eternal IntraFamily Glory and also, for a delicious Oreo McFlurry from McDonalds. Nadal, btw, wins millions.

The Spaniard rivals Federer in the Style Department in addition to their tennis: Both prominently represent Nike, a blue chip endorsement in the sports world. Off-court, Nadal has a fashion brand endorsement with men’s clothier Tommy Hilfiger:

GQ Magazine – UK Feature Story


And unlike Federer, Nadal has his very own Tennis Academy in his hometown of Manacor in Mallorca, Spain.  I really really want to visit this picturesque island.

Since Federer is skipping Roland Garros and the entire clay court season to rest up and prepare for the Grass Court season and Wimbledon, let’s check out Nadal at The French Open, which is my favorite Grand Slam tournament (Paris, slow red clay, great tennis, French cuisine, and a smaller more intimate stadium that is truly beautiful).

In order to dress like Nadal when he walks onto Court Philippe Chatrier, we’ll need to start a Tab at Tennis Warehouse and get Nadal’s gear. I suspect we’ll be able to qualify for Free Shipping. Here’s the clothing Drop Shot:


  • Racket(s): Am thinking we should have at least 6 (one to play with, five to break in frustration). Babolat Play Aero Drive ($349.00/each; $2,094)
  • String:  You thought those rackets came pre-strung? Think again, Amigo.  We’ll need Babolat RPM Blast 15 String at $17.95 each = $107.70
  • Shoes:  This is clay, a surface that demands sliding, so we’ll need Nike Lunar Ballistec 1.5 ($200.00)  At Wimbledon, we’ll need new shoes for the grass. FYI.
  • Shirt: Gotta get the Nike Rafa Crew ($100.00)
  • Shorts: Thankfully, Nadal has stopped wearing those Capri Pants and now favors the Nike Men’s Summer Flex Ace 7 ($85.00)
  • Hat: Nadal favors headbands, but sometimes dons a Nike Men’s Summer Rafa Heritage Hat ($28.00)
  • HeadbandNike Men’s Summer Head Tie Vivid Purple ($17.00)
  • Wrist Bands: Nike Premier Summer Doublewide  Blk/GhostGreen ($12.00)
  • Socks: On Sale! 3-pak for $13.50 (normally $18.00) Black Nike Dri-Fit Cushion Crew
  • Racket Bag: Babolat Pure French Open 12-Pak ($109.95) Twelve rackets seem like overkill at this level.  I mean, really!
  • Misc. Items like Overgrips and Abrasion Tape will run ya another $20 or so.  Nadal gets lots of blisters and his fingers are always taped.  Go figure!

Okay, we’re all set.  Charge it to MasterCard:  $2,767.15.  Ay Carumba! Muy expensivo, Amigo. I could probably make do with just one racket which knocks down the cost of my Cart to around $1,100. Damn!

Hey, that’s Tennis in 2017.


Meanwhile, let’s talk some logistics.  Now that we’ve decked ourselves out in Nadal’s gear, shouldn’t we spend a few days at his Tennis Academy in Mallorca? Vamos! Airfare on American Airlines from LA to Manacor will run ya $2,000 roundtrip.

At  Rafael Nadal Tennis Academy, Adult Weekly Tennis Camp programs run Monday to Sunday.  The facility, completed in 2016, looks muy fantastico to me.  I’m in.  Who’s with me? A weekly package will run us $1,300 US.  That actually sounds pretty reasonable to me. Uncle Toni, here I come. Carlos Moya, please have some Sangria on hand. Gracias!

After a week in Mallorca, my tennis partner Ted won’t know what hit him. Worth it!


 N E X T   U P:

Surf Trips. Television. And a Friend Trains for the 2018 Winter Olympics!

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