LEFT COAST BIAS: Making 'Em Sweat

Oct. 16 Is TV's National Squirm Day
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Tuesday is National Boss Day. In the TV industry, however, it is unofficially National Squirm Day. It may turn out to be one of those rare days when fans of the media will have too much to talk about, with most of the buzz focusing on events as uncomfortable as an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. For the rest of us, watching it should be, as Larry David might say, “Pretty, pretty good.”

The premier discomfort event that day will be the Hollywood Radio & Television Society's annual Network Chiefs Summit in Beverly Hills.

In this corner on the dais, we'll have NBC Universal's Ben Silverman; in the far corner, the man he effectively replaced, Fox's Kevin Reilly.

Also on stage will be Reilly's bosom buddy, ABC Entertainment president Steve McPherson. You may remember it was McPherson who ripped Silverman back in July for how he handled media inquiries about the transition.

ROYAL RUMBLE

So with all that in mind, rumors out of Hollywood Radio and Television Society headquarters are that president Chris Silbermann contracted World Wrestling Entertainment chief Vince McMahon to run the annual panel luncheon.

And according to sources, instead of having the participants on a stage in front of the crowd as usual, this year's lunch will be in the round, a la the Emmys. But forget Ryan Seacrest -- the centerpiece will be a wrestling ring surrounded by a steel cage.

Reilly and McPherson will come to the ring as a tag team, and both are expected to wear T-shirts that say “Be a Man” in reference to what McPherson said about Silverman last summer.

Not to be at a disadvantage in the two-on-one handicap match, Silverman will no doubt be hiding a foreign object in his designer wrestling trunks: a set of those heavy NBC chimes.

According to the scripted ending, CBS' Nina Tassler and The CW's Dawn Ostroff would then run out, clobber all three with TiVos that have already digitally recorded every episode of Reaper and Cane, and be declared the winners.

If that event is not enough to satisfy your appetite for discomfort, Tuesday is also the day we finally get back the “C3” numbers for premiere eeek. Yes, as in from three weeks ago.

The C3 numbers, a big part of the new metrics, are the commercial ratings for live plus the next three days' viewings, on which most advertising buys were made. So network executives have had to wait a painstaking three weeks to see how their shows actually did.

“I haven't been this scared waiting three weeks for a batch of results since that STD test after a college spring break trip to Cancun,” said one network president.

OK, no one said that, but you get the idea.

Tuesday will also be big for the sports world, as Turner execs hope they will be looking at a few more games of the National League Championship Series.

In the first year of a seven-year deal, the MLB Division Series brought record ratings to TBS -- this despite three series sweeps, leaving the network with only 13 of a possible 20 games.

Ratings tend to get higher later in a series, and at about $75,000 per 30-second spot and with roughly 60 avails per game, that's a lot of dough left in the batter's box.

This is potentially good news for Turner Sports president David Levy, who knows that, like his much-maligned studio analyst, Blue Jays slugger Frank Thomas, things can still get better.

But there's hardly a guarantee. “Over the life of the deal, we'll hopefully average the 15-16 games we thought we would,” he said. But will the Diamondbacks and Rockies make for a ratings-happy story line? Turner just hopes it goes six or seven games.

It's enough stress to drive anyone to distraction, which is probably why Tuesday is about when I will remember that my fifth wedding anniversary was last Friday. Luckily, I have the perfect gift picked out for the wife: tickets to the HRTS luncheon. 

Send comments to Ben.Grossman@reedbusiness.com.

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