Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Too Many Protest Singers, Not Enough Protest Songs

Has Top Gear run out of gas? Executive Producer Andy Wilman has suggested that it could be in danger of becoming 'a cartoon.' It was Wilman who, along with Jeremy Clarkson, devised the new Top Gear format and changed it from a show for a generation of petrol heads only into a genuine crossover international entertainment hit. According to the Sun he said: 'It's fair to say that this incarnation of Top Gear is nearer the end than the beginning and our job is to land this plane with its dignity still intact. But that doesn't mean we won't be trying new things to the last, even if they screw up because it means you never stopped trying.' He added: 'There is a grumble and a rumble in the air from some of our regulars that we have lost the plot, we've disappeared up our arses and we're predictable.' Wilman said he feared hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May were playing their cartoon characters a bit too much - 'Jezza the walking nuclear bomb, Richard the daft Norman Wisdom and James the bumbling professor.' He continued: 'I like those characters but I, too, would like to see more of them as they were. I miss those three mates who mooch along.'" Yeah. Not without an element of truth in that although, again, it should be noted the current incarnation of Top Gear is now into its fourteenth series having done getting on for one hundred and fifty shows. If it is starting to get repetitive and obvious then it's had a bloody good run of not being repetitive and obvious before it's got to this stage!

The X Factor final may be staged a week earlier next year to avoid another battle for the Christmas number one, according to reports. Show producers are reportedly considering an earlier final to allow the winning song a better chance of making it to the top of the charts. ]This year's winner, Joe McElderry, reached number two with his single 'The Climb', losing out to Rage Against The Machine's 'Killing In The Name', which was the subject of a Facebook campaign specifically designed to stop The X Factor winner getting to the top during Christmas week. 'If a show that gets nineteen million viewers can't muster enough support to beat an online campaign of music snobs, then maybe there is no point aiming for a Christmas number one next year,' a source told the Sun. Music snobs? Nice example of winning friends and influencing people there. Do you not think that maybe, just maybe, if you all didn't come off like a bunch of smug bullies who know so much better than everyone else what the public want you might, just, sell some more singles a bit less badly liked by pretty much everyone? Because, as widely noted, if thirty seven thirty eighths of the people who watched the finale of your extremely successful television show can't even be bothered to buy the record or the download in its first week of release then maybe the problem here isn't so much with 'music snobs', per se, it's with you. Just something to drop into Simon Cowell's toaster and see if it pops up brown, there.

Comics artist John Cassaday has spoken about his directorial debut on an episode of Dollhouse. Cassaday was invited to direct The Attic by the show's creator Joss Whedon, with whom he worked on Marvel comics Astonishing X-Men. 'It was about the span of a year between him asking me to do it and actually getting the green light,' Cassaday told CBR. 'The big stumbling block was [the series] just getting renewed. Once that happened, it was up to Joss to work his magic and get me through the right doors. I truly didn't get too worked up over it until I was completely approved and given shooting dates. 'Every day was a learning curve. There was no rhyme or rhythm to the shoot. One day would be the best - I'd be on top of the world and felt in control and great, and then the next day would be like running underwater. We just couldn't get ahead. Lots of tough days, but the good ones made it all worth it. And I'm happy with the footage we got every single day.'

Alesha Dixon has scheduled an operation for after Christmas, reports claim. The Strictly Come Dancing judge, who won the show in 2007, apparently needs to go into hospital to have a mystery foot problem fixed. A friend told the Sun: 'She's done loads of glamorous photoshoots over the past few months. Obviously she couldn't have done them with a massive plaster on her foot. So after Christmas she is going to hospital to get it fixed and has taken the whole of January off to put her feet up - literally.'

Coronation Street star Kym Marsh has denied that she and her long-term boyfriend Jamie Lomas are planning a permanent move to Los Angeles. Former Hollyoaks actor Lomas recently returned from a work trip to the US, but it has emerged that the couple will not be moving away from the UK. 'Well, he couldn't live there because he's got his little boy, Billy,' Marsh told New. 'There are all these things saying he's moving to LA, but he can't, and I've got David and Emily.' Oh, I'm sure something could have been worked out, Kym love. I mean, the Denny's that I regularly eat in whenever I'm in Los Angeles is always on the lookout for staff.

Sky has criticised the BBC Trust's provisional approval for the BBC to remain involved in IPTV joint venture Project Canvas. After first launching its review in February, the Trust yesterday approved the Canvas proposal, but with conditions attached related to industry engagement and costs. However, Sky has been highly critical of the project on grounds of a perceived bias towards public service broadcasters and the potential use of public money to distort the nascent IPTV market. In response to the Trust's ruling, Sky's group director of corporate affairs Graham McWilliam said that the BBC's involvement remains 'the key concern' about Canvas. McWilliam claimed that there is simply no pressing need for public money to be used in replicating what will soon be produced in the commercial IPTV marketplace. He instead called on the BBC to focus on producing high-quality programmes (which, actually, it does anyway Graham) and then making them widely available across the emerging TV platforms. 'Internet-based TV is already developing fast and, even without Canvas, the industry is working on shared standards to help it grow even further. There is no need for public money to be spent on replicating what's set to be delivered through commercial investment,' McWilliam said. 'In the longer term, consumers will not benefit if the BBC's role in Canvas prevents other innovative services from emerging, as the Trust acknowledges it will. The BBC Trust should have concluded that the licence fee would be better spent on making programmes and distributing them without discrimination across all platforms. Yet again, this is nothing short of BBC mission creep and anyone with an interest in the long-term health of the commercial media industry should be very concerned.'

Sir Bob Phillis, a former deputy director general of the BBC and chief executive of the Guardian Media Group, has died at the age of sixty four. He began his career in the printing industry and went on to become managing director of the TV Times, Central TV and Carlton Communications. He was chief executive of ITN before joining the BBC in 1993. He left in 1997 to work for the Guardian. Sir Bob retired in 2006 after being diagnosed with early-stage bone marrow cancer in 2005. He was the current president of the Royal Television Society.

Doctor Who attracted its highest ever prime time ratings in the US last weekend. Waters of Mars was the first of three specials to air on BBC America and marked the finale to David Tennant's era as the Tenth Doctor. Over one million viewers watched the programme on Saturday, ranking thirteenth in the US among advert-supported cable networks catering for demographics aged twenty five-fifty four. 'The final specials starring David Tennant have opened the door for new audiences to this iconic series while taking long-time fans on an incredible journey,' said Richard De Croce, senior vice president of BBC America. 'Tennant's remaining two specials The End of Time Part One and Part Two are the most-anticipated episodes in the history of the series, which is why we're airing them just a day after their UK premiere.'

Paris Hilton has claimed that she will never be seen on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!, despite receiving lucrative offers from show executives. The socialite told Hello magazine that there is absolutely no way she will enter the jungle to compete on the reality show. 'They've asked me to do that show so many times. I wouldn't want to do that, I couldn't eat bugs and do all those crazy challenges. I might do it for fun, on a camping trip with friends but not on national TV,' she said. The series has enjoyed a long history in the UK and made its US debut this summer. Contestants included The Hills' Spencer and Heidi Pratt, who endured an extended stay in the jungles of Borneo.

And, as a final treat for his rapidly growing fanbase, the artist formerly (and, indeed, still) known as yer Keith Telly Topping presents the following from his previously hidden under a bushel studio portfolio. A small offering from his scattergun impressionist-phase entitled Munch Housing, By Proxy (2004):