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Thursday, July 10, 2014

"Entertainment" Tonight?

For this week's edition of Tube Talk Thursday, I decided that I would take a different approach.  Normally in this blog, I would talk about television programs that were a part of my growing up experiences, or shows that I enjoy, or if I really wanted to challenge myself, shows that I had never seen before until I decided to do a blog entry on them. 

But today I've decided to do a blog entry on a television program that I absolutely despise.  It's a show that I think is saturated with stupidity, celebrates the classless, and puts unwanted attention on those who least deserve it.

So, I suppose you must be asking yourself "if you hate this show so badly, then why would you even do a blog entry on it in the first place?"

Fair point.  A television show that I have no respect for should be a show that I shouldn't watch at all (and believe me, I stopped watching it a long time ago).  But the reason why I want to do a blog on this television show anyway is because at one time it used to be a wonderful program.  Truth is, it was one of the shows that sort of cultivated my love of all things pop culture.  For the first few years of the show's life, it was an informative entertainment news program that focused on the making of films, introducing brand new actors and actresses, and showing some behind the scenes trivia about your favourite stars.  To now see this show descend into a trashy tabloid show with the perky hosts and hostesses smiling with glee as they report half-truths and scandals that could potentially destroy people's's incredibly sad to see. 

This is the blog about "Entertainment Tonight" - a show that I feel does more harm than good.  And I warn all of you ahead of time...I will be harsh in this blog.  I'll cut out the swears, of course...but I'm not going to be kind.

Of course, before we get into the main reasons why I cannot stand this show, we must take a look at what the show was like before it turned into the anything but entertaining mess it currently is now.

The idea behind "Entertainment Tonight" was hatched by Alfred Masini, who was also responsible for the successful program "Solid Gold".  He had the idea to create a half-hour television program that would focus on the hottest news coming out of Hollywood, by interviewing celebrities on the red carpet, on film sets, and on soundstages where television shows taped.  The whole premise of the show would allow viewers at home to get to know their favourite stars better, as well as explain to them just how difficult it could be to film stunts, churn out a new episode of a television show, and some of the mechanics behind how certain scenes were shot.

And certainly when the show debuted on September 14, 1981, it certainly did have a lot of experienced staff on its payroll.  Andy Friendly was the show's first producer but only lasted about six weeks on the job before John E. Goldhammer took over.  However, both of these men influenced how the program was presented for years to come.  Goldhammer was responsible for the look of the show, and how the show's reporters interacted with their interview subjects.  And Friendly made sure that the majority of the crew of the show came from diverse backgrounds, hiring field reporters to concert roadies.  I have to admit that it was a brilliant move doing that because it allowed the producers of "Entertainment Tonight" to have a pool of resources at their disposal for almost anything that the show wanted to cover.

Of course, there's nobody who has hosted the show during the entire 33-year-run of the program.  Certainly this show went through a lot of "casting changes" as a lot of television shows do the longer that they stay on the air.  When the show debuted, the original anchors were Ron Hendren, Tom Hallick, Marjorie Wallace, and Dixie Whatley.  But all four of those people were gone by '84 (three of them leaving after the first season alone), and the following people then became co-hosts...

Mary Hart (1982-2011)
Leeza Gibbons (1984-1995)
Robb Weller (1984-1986)
John Tesh (1986-1996)
Bob Goen (1993-2004)
Jann Carl (1995-2008)
Mark Steines (1995-2012)
Kevin Frazier (2004-2011)
Thea Andrews (2006-2009)
Samantha Harris (2010-2012)

Other correspondents of the program included Robin Leach, Maria Menounos, Chris Wragge, Julie Moran, Lisa Canning, Roshumba Williams, and Vanessa Minnillo.

Currently, the program is hosted by Nancy O'Dell and Rob Marciano, with Brooke Anderson, Rocsi Diaz, and Joe Zee as correspondents.

Now, again, back in the days in which Mary Hart co-hosted the show with John Tesh was when I liked watching the show the most.  Not that I really cared for either host, but the format of the show was still quite good.  I loved watching reports on behind-the-scenes stories from the set.  I was into celebrity interviews that were at that time very professional.  And, heck, I even liked seeing Leonard Maltin appear on the show with his film reviews and choices for some of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters.  Mind you, most of the time, I disagreed with his thoughts (I always seemed to take Siskel & Ebert more seriously), but I appreciated that Maltin did do a segment on movies.

I don't know when it was that I started to see a change in "Entertainment Tonight".  I think it may have been when I was in my teens, right around the time of the O.J. Simpson trial that things just seemed more scandalous.  For instance, the prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson case, Marcia Clark, soon became a temporary correspondent...which I thought was an odd choice.  Even odder was the show's sudden interest in those silly "Dancing Itos" that were all the talk in 1995 (For those of you who don't know, Lance Ito was the judge in the case, and Jay Leno introduced them on "The Tonight Show").

Then there was the reports of George Clooney staging a boycott against "Entertainment Tonight" and other entertainment programs because of his claim that "Hard Copy" (a sister show of "Entertainment Tonight") purposely did an expose about Clooney's love life without his knowledge or consent.  Though Clooney has since dropped that boycott, it certainly sparked a debate about how much of a celebrity's private life stays private.  Mind you, I never watched "Hard Copy" because I despise shows that focus on scandal and tabloid...but it's interesting to note that when "Hard Copy" ceased production in the late 1990s that a large chunk of the show's crew joined "Entertainment Tonight".  Because I think it was the late 1990s that "Entertainment Tonight" stopped becoming entertaining.

For instance, why "Entertainment Tonight" would choose to feature interviews with public figures who were more famous for bad behaviour and claim that it is "entertaining" is beyond my comprehension.  Tonya Harding helped plan the attack on her rival Nancy Kerrigan at the 1994 Winter Olympics.  Why was she worthy of camera time on an entertainment program?  I could understand her telling her side of the story on news programs like "20/20" or "Dateline NBC", but I didn't want to see it on "Entertainment Tonight". 

Same deal with Amy Fisher.  Um, hello...she served jail time for shooting the wife of the man she was having an affair with!  To then group all three of them together in a joint "exclusive" interview makes me want to puke.  How much money did that show pay each of them to be interviewed?  And why did they think that we cared at all about these people?

Or, how about the show's constant pimpage of ridiculous fads months and months on end?  We get it.  You guys love Twitter.  But do you really have to insert footage of Hollywood experts typing away on their smartphones and iPhones while they're doing their interviews?  Congratulations, ET.  You've just succeeded in giving off the stereotype that all Hollywood people are self-absorbed twits who can't spare five minutes away from their phones to have actual conversations with real people.  Mind you, I know a lot of people who ARE like this, but not everyone is.

And, seriously, "Entertainment Tonight".  Anna Nicole Smith has been dead for seven years now.  Her daughter Dannielynn is with a father she adores.  Leave them alone and focus on more pressing issues. 

(And by pressing issues, I don't mean the Kardashians, Kanye West, Miley Cyrus' twerking, or celebrity scandals.  Seriously.  I don't care.)

I want to know where the celebrity birthday segments are.  I want to know where the trivia segments are.  I want to know where the feel-good stories are.  I mean, even when celebrities die (many of them working their entire lives and appearing in career-defining performances), it almost seems like a footnote so that they can present a half-hour filled with fluff.  It's almost like this...

"(Insert celebrity name here) passed away at their home early this morning...but first, KIM KARDASHIAN HAS HEMMORHOIDS!!!  WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE KARDASHIAN EMPIRE?  WE HAVE INTERVIEWS FROM SEVEN EXPERTS WHO WILL REVEAL ALL!!! this what passes as "entertainment" these days?  If so, I'm glad to be considered a "square" who dabbles in boring things like reading, writing, and watching television that isn't trash.

"Entertainment Tonight"...I quit you.  You've changed way too much to be considered relevant.  At one time, you were the premiere source for entertainment news, and I suppose that if the ratings are any indication, you still are to some people.  But I can't sit by and watch a show that I used to love become tainted with self-absorption, dumbed down personalities, and people whose fifteen minutes ended years ago.  Not when it used to be so good.

And, yes...I am aware that the show does change based on target audience...and ET has always been a show for the 18-49 crowd.  But the thing is that even though I'm still in that demographic, I can't help but notice the quality decline to the point that not even seven years olds would find the show entertaining.

But again, it's only an opinion.  I just shared mine.

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