Journalists love to trash everyone’s ideas and performances, but seldom suggest fixes, which ticked me off when I was a PR person and still ticks me off as a journalist. So with that, here are three things I would do to fix HBO’s new show Joe Buck Live, which debuted to all the controversy Monday night.
Don’t make it live
Doing a show is hard enough when you are out of your natural element as Buck is, so why make it live? It absolutely does not add enough to the product to offset the gains from editing the show into a nice, tight presentation. Few shows go live, especially talk shows with experienced talk show hosts. There is a reason. And this has nothing to do with Artie Lange’s language. This is about putting the best product possible on air. And yes, you’d have to change the name of the show. Who cares?
Drop the theme idea
The first episode had a theme of sports and celebrity. Drop trying to do a themed show altogether, and just put together the best show possible. Trying to do an episode around a theme just gets in the way. Book great guests (like Brett Favre, which was a massive booking in the sports world) and go from there, don’t try to slam square pegs into round holes. No one cares about a theme, they just want to be entertained.
Book Artie Lange for the second episode
Seriously. Have some fun with this. Promote it as Buck vs. Lange II (HBO knows a thing or two about fight promotion) and then bring him back in some form. Open the show with a sketch of Lange trying to sneak onto the set, and getting busted by Ross Greenburg, or something fun like that. However you do it, have Artie Lange a part of the second show. And promote the hell out of it.
As I wrote in my column a couple weeks ago, Joe Buck was always screwed with this show because it’s impossible as a talk show host to be great in your first show, and his second show isn’t for another three months. Yes, he was nervous. And the producers could have helped him out a bit more in certain ways. But for a guy new to the game doing a show every three months – that’s tough to succeed.
But make these three changes, and I guarantee episode two will be a lot better for it.