Archive for the ‘Television’ Category

Mario “Le Magnifique” Lemieux, Pittsburgh Penguins hockey legend and the team’s current owner, is often quoted as saying, “It’s a great day for hockey.” But it was actually former coach “Badger” Bob Johnson who coined the phrase. Either way you slice it, for Pittsburgh, it truly is. In just three years, the Penguins (or Pens to the typical fan) have managed to turn around from a dying hockey club into a champion, almost tasting champagne from Lord Stanley’s Cup last year for the first time since 1992.

There are many tangibles that have factored into the Pens’ good fortune as of late and it all started with drafting Sidney Crosby, first line center and the youngest captain in the NHL, with the 1st-overall pick in the 2005 Entry Draft. He was hailed as “The Next One,” joining the likes of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (1st overall, 2003 Entry Draft) and forward Evgeni Malkin (2nd overall, 2004 Entry Draft), who jumped ship in 2006 from his Russian team to play for the Pens. Forward Jordan Staal (2nd overall, 2006 Entry Draft) made the big league last season in his first year turned pro and hasn’t looked back. Add some veteran grit to a talented, young roster and a strict disciplinarian coach in Michel Therrien, and you have the makings of a winning hockey club.

This year’s campaign, “A Great Day for Hockey,” is fitting when considering the past of the Pens and the immediate future during which Pittsburgh will say goodbye to its beloved Igloo (Mellon Arena) and welcome a new, yet-to-be-named facility currently under construction – a move that ensures the Pens presence in Pittsburgh for years to come. What I love most about the commercial is that it not only highlights what the Pens do on the ice, but also what they do off it and the thousands of dedicated fans who cramp into the Igloo or brave the cold to see their beloved Pens play (and hopefully win). Pittsburgh-based rock band, The Clarks, provide the vocals behind the action with their rendition of Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World” in a fitting homage to all things Pittsburgh.

Here’s the official link to the video: A Great Day for Hockey

You can also follow the Pens on Twitter @pghpenguins.


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Nearly a month ago, this is how things were looking for Tina Fey

During the recent election, NBC’s “Saturday Night Live enjoyed a ratings boost from its clever political spoofs. There were the typical portrayals, as you’d expect, of both candidates. Yet, it was the introduction of a hockey mom from a small town in Alaska that proved to be a ratings gold mine. Tina Fey practically knocked it out of the park with her portrayal of Sarah Palin, for who she was a dead ringer.

Every week, millions of people laughed along at the sheer absurdity of each sketch with the real Palin even making a cameo in an effort to poke fun at herself. Fey, the show’s former head writer (the show’s first-ever female head writer at that), inferred that someone needed to make sure Palin didn’t get into office because she was tired of playing the role. Well, she got her wish when the nation decided to elect Barack Obama on Tuesday as President.

Interestingly enough, Fey’s Palin impression for the last month or so helped boost SNL’s ratings well over 70% from the previous year. Now that it’s over, where will SNL go from here? The NY Daily News gave a few suggestions as to how the show might continue the ratings drive.

Either way, the staff is going to have to come up with some hard-hitting sketches. Aside from the occasional funny sketch or two and the political humor, the show’s content has been rather lackluster in recent years. I’m curious to see how the show comes out of the gate post-election. That race begins tonight next week.

Watch the SNL Palin videos here.

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I wasn’t really planning to do another ad review for a week or so, but given the spirit that we’re coming off another football-filled weekend, I thought, “What the hell?”

You’ve probably seen this commercial by now, which follows the lives of NFL superstars LaDainian Tomlinson and Troy Polamalu. Often, we don’t think about the back stories of a professional athlete unless we’re real diehards who have followed his or her career since high school. David Fincher brings life to Tomlinson and Polamalu’s individual stories from birth through adulthood. Two players whose paths, although similar, have never crossed find their fates intertwined on the gridiron in one single moment.

An absolutely brilliant commercial, I’d rate it as one of the best I’ve ever seen. Fans of each player, as you’d expect, look favorably upon it as well.

While visiting Nike Football, I found a pretty neat tool that allows you to compare your own football statistics against Polamalu, Tomlinson and Carson Palmer. It’s not just limited to their professional statistics – you can also compare how you stack(ed) up against them in high school and college. If you’re still in high school or college, you can search and import an opponent’s stats as well. Well, I’ve never played football except for those times in gym class flag football, so it doesn’t necessarily apply to me. Furthermore, my lack of gym class FF stats would make for a rather embarrassing measure against, say, Polamalu. In any case, I like the concept. Good stuff.

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You probably know the Michael Phelps story now, so there’s no real need for me to rehash all the details. In case you’ve been living under a rock, however, here’s a quick rundown: Phelps had one goal in mind at the 2008 Beijing Olympics – to win eight gold medals. While medaling in all eight events may seem impossible improbable, Phelps made it look easy as he captured the coveted gold in each race. His quest, however, wasn’t without its snarls and near-misses.

While Phelps had a comfortable lead in most races, he almost came up short several times. Nevertheless, Lady Luck seemed to smile down on him and his teammates with big pearly whites. From Jason Lezak’s dazzling surge toward the end of the 4x100m free relay to Phelps’ photograph finish (literally) against Milorad Cavic in the 100-meter butterfly, the odds shifted significantly in his favor.

Phelps eight-for-eight rally has meant so many things to the professional sporting world. First, he managed to win without the use of performance-enhancing drugs, a problem that has dogged athletes (especially those in the Olympic Games) for quite some time. Second, he shattered swimming legend Mark Spitz’ previous world record of seven gold medals in one Olympic bout and now ranks second all-time (16 medals) behind Ukrainian gymnast Larissa Latynina (she has 18) in total career Olympic medals. What’s even more refreshing is that he has managed to accomplish his quest with nary an egotistical hair on his head, instead flashing a crooked smile and embodying an “Aw, shucks” attitude, while also heaping the praise on his teammates and opponents.

Now, it’s been a whirlwind tour for the swimming phenom who has been traveling the globe extensively since his last race. Call it Michael Phelps Mania, if you will. He’s slated to release a new book in time for the holidays, which should fare better than his prior release, “Michael Phelps: Beneath the Surface.” (Apparently, it did not sell many copies). He’s even been tapped to host the Sept. 13 season premiere of “Saturday Night Live.” If these ESPN SportsCenter commercials (one & two) are any indication, the kid just might have a shot at doing a decent job and/or being funny.

Whether it’s hawking Frosted Flakes, Visa credit cards, or some other product, Phelps has the potential to earn up to $50 million or more through endorsements, according to The Wall Street Journal. NBC, which has the rights to the Olympics, is also cashing in on the Phelps Phenomenon. According to CNN, NBC’s coverage of the swimming competitions saw an average of 30 million viewers a night, thanks in part to Phelps’ dominance in the pool. The network has become so enthralled by this, that it nabbed the rights to the 2009 World Swimming Championship. Let’s face it, televised swimming doesn’t particularly capture a huge market share. Yet, NBC is taking a gamble now and hoping that people will still be wrapped up in the post-Olympics Phelps buzz.

Beyond all the immediate attention, how does Phelps plan to stay relevant? Phelps is the “it” boy for now, but let’s remember that the Olympics come only once every four years and (again) televised swimming isn’t a normal “Sunday ritual” like football or any other sport. In addition, some people just don’t find him all that interesting. Phelps has pledged to swim in the 2012 London Olympics and will hang up his Speedo thereafter. What is his long-range vision until then? After? And no, the obvious answer shouldn’t be to just get some high-profile celebrity girlfriend to keep his name in the newspapers. (He’s already been linked with Carrie Underwood, fellow swimmer Amanda Beard, and Lindsay Lohan).

To keep himself newsworthy, Phelps should concentrate on more positive (and less shallow) pursuits. He is already actively involved with several charities and makes the rounds in the Baltimore-area school system. It’s time to step that up a notch by harnessing his new money and endorsements in the creation of his own charity. Whether it raises awareness of an issue dear to his heart or helps children like him find an outlet through swimming, he’s sure to score gold out of the water.

In addition, Phelps has the opportunity to use his prior DUI charge for good. As part of his 2004 probation, Phelps was required to give speeches to three schools about making choices. Now that he has even more Olympic gold around his neck, it’s high-time for him to urge youth that making the wrong choices could mean not realizing dreams, a reality Phelps himself almost faced.

“There’s nowhere to go, but up,” as the saying goes, but only time will tell just how bright Phelps truly wants his star to shine.

Photo credit: The Baltimore Sun

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Update (8/27/08) – Woah, so apparently, the “Man Men” Twitter accounts are NOT the work of AMC’s PR team, but fans of the show. I should have known when I saw @bud_melman. A great idea by the fans, but the transparency was definitely lost in the mix. Not good.

Read the PRWeek article here: “AMC Responds to Twittering ‘Mad Men’ Characters”

Now the question is, will AMC ask to take over these accounts or let these “Mad Men” continue on as they were? I think there’s potential here for AMC to throw their support behind these fans and their alter egos. Yet, only time will tell.

Original post:

A big kudos to the person (or team?) behind the appearance of “Mad Men” characters on Twitter.

It’s really neat to see them interacting not only with each other “in character,” but also with the rest of the Twittersphere. Judging by the amount of chatter I see in my own Twitter time line, I’d say that my fellow Tweeps are enjoying the interaction as well.

What a cool, edgy spin on a show that’s “set” in the 1960s.

If you’re a fan of the show, I definitely recommend checking them out.









If you’ve yet to catch an episode, AMC has you covered: Mad Men

Photo Credit: AMC

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Just saw that Merv Griffin passed away. What a shame.

It’s so amazing to me how simple concepts and ideas can just forever change the course of entertainment and television. That’s what Griffin managed to do when he created two of his most famous shows (and definitely my favorites as a kid), “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune.” To see them still successful after all these years when most game shows have long since passed is nothing short of amazing.

I mean really, if it weren’t for Griffin, who knows what would would have become of early primetime television. Would America be so enamoured with the game shows of today? Who knows. And yes, there certainly wouldn’t have been “Celebrity Jeopardy,” either.  

So, here’s to you Merv. Giving the wheel a final spin, you got the best prize of all: a long-term trip to paradise.

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Ten more days until the debut of “The Kill Point.”

 A page is now up with images and video. Yay, Pittsburgh!

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