Left Coast Bias: My Advice for Peter Rice
B&C Editor-In-Chief Ben Grossman offers three specific tips for the new Fox Broadcasting chief
By Ben Grossman -- Broadcasting & Cable, 4/13/2009 2:00:00 AM
New Fox television honcho Peter Rice is probably on input overload right now. But the best thing he could do to cement his expected ascension to Rupert Murdoch's right-hand man would be to take some advice from yours truly.
Clearly, I am prescient in many ways. For example, my March Madness bracket placed me behind only 4,115,609 other people in ESPN's contest. And in our internal pool, I only got edged out by basically everyone in my company, including our resident Brit Claire Atkinson, who I think picked Manchester United to win the whole thing.
And to prove my connection with mainstream America and peerless taste, I apparently was the only one in the country who thought the visually-impaired dude's rendition of the Survivor ballad on American Idol last week was kind of money—that brutal run at the end aside.
So with that ringing endorsement for my sheer brilliance, here are three specific tips for Rice on his new gig:
Let Mike Darnell be Mike Darnell
Your reality chief has a history of plane crash and O.J. ideas that are a tad edgy, shall we say. And said ideas have had a tendency to piss people off, and that absolutely includes both people inside your building and the general public, as you probably know after last week and the reaction to Someone's Gotta Go.
But don't hold Darnell back, because he's the kind of risk-taker that network TV desperately needs. If you put out an idea like a reality show about layoffs and everyone revolts, just yank the idea. So you have egg on your face for one day and then everyone moves on. Big deal.
Hold 'Glee' until next January
Fox is actually airing a single episode of a new high school musical show, Glee, next month just so it can preview one episode after Idol and then debut it in the fall.
And that's a mistake. I liked the Ryan Murphy pilot about a quirky high school singing group, but it should definitely flow out of Idol when it launches, because it might be kind of an acquired taste. If you air the pilot and it tanks, it might feel D.O.A. next season. If you air it and it works, the audience has to wait ages to see more. So Fox should hold the show until next January and slot it permanently out of Idol for awhile. Then, if it has legs, move it.
'Idol': Tweak but don't panic
People at rival networks love to quietly prep obits for Idol. But the show is still huge, so don't do anything silly to put your stamp on it.
That said—since everyone in the country is an expert on this show—here are two changes I would make tomorrow. First, dump the fourth judge: It's one too many, and the reason why last week's show went long and ticked off anyone who DVR'd it. So get rid of Kara, who has literally brought absolutely nothing new to the table. And (finally) get rid of Randy Jackson and replace him with someone who has anything whatsoever to offer.
Secondly, jettison that dumb element where the judges confer about whether to save the last place contestant. It reeks of the humiliation-reality shows that America has already voted off the island. Flo Rida's lyrics during last week's performance aside, Idol wins because it stays, um, above the belt.
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