AS I SEE IT - 2/15/2001
Ever get tired of being told you're "just a wrestling fan"... and
That happened to all of us again this week...twice.
Lorne Michaels, executive producer of Saturday Night Live is reported to have thrown a tantrum after his lead-in, the second Saturday night broadcast of the XFL ran over due to the game going into overtime (as well as a power outage in LA and a player breaking his foot) then the broadcast in many Eastern markets of the 11:00 pm news.
Michaels was said to be so upset by the network's "failure to protect the 11:30 pm starting time of his program that he considered telling the network to replace it with a rerun". All this, because the guest star was the heavily promoted Jennifer Lopez, and because February is sweeps month.
Lopez's appearance had been expected to reach a peak for the season, possibly as high as a 10 rating. Instead, the show peaked at a 6.3 rating, lower than the previous week's show.
Jeff Zucker, president of NBC Entertainment stated: "This was an unfortunate series of events that delayed SNL and everyone is aware of what needs to be done so that it doesn't happen again."
NBC executives promised to make "changes in the XFL", including speeding up the clock between plays.
Now think about this. When sports programming such as the Buick Invitational or (in the past) NFL football runs over, do CBS cut them off to go to the acclaimed and highly-rated 60 Minutes? No.
Then why is NBC ready to make the sun dance in the sky for a comedy series that has been sub-par in recent years, and only this years has returned to its ratings prominence?
Guess who co-owns the XFL with NBC?
We all know who.
Do you think that if Donald Trump or Rupert Murdoch owned the XFL that these actions would have been taken?
Or that the following comments would have been made in the New York Times by NBC Entertainment president Jeff Zucker as saying, "We are not absolutely not abandoning the XFL. We are absolutely committed to it for the full season." This, when a 2 year commitment to the XFL has been made by NBC, and when ratings despite the widely reported "50 percent drop" are exactly where they were predicted to be.
Of course, they wouldn't have.
Did NBC engage in such behavior back in the 1960s during the days they broadcast the American Football League?
Of course, they didn't.
During much of that time, NBC aired the highly-rated children's program "Wonderful World of Disney". As for the football, the games of the AFL were similar to the XFL in actual content, but lacked the manner of hype used by the XFL. They also were viewed as "not really professional football" by the owners of the NFL and many sportswriters.
How quickly Lorne Michaels forgets the ratings achieved by the SNL with Rocky Maivia at a point less than a year ago when the ratings of SNL weren't what they've been this season. Yet NBC panicked when a football game ran overtime.
But remember, folks, the XFL is "just owned by the WWF". It's "just wrestling". Remember that NBC apparently doesn't think that wrestling fans (or fans of the professional football league co-owned by the major wrestling promotion in North America) will complain.
Now, if that doesn't annoy you as a wrestling fans, we have Don Imus's recent disgusting spectacle aired on his show, broadcast daily on MSNBC, as well as syndicated nationally on radio from New York's WFAN.
Don Imus engages in disgusting tirade against the WWF's Jim Ross referring to him as a "drunk with a cowboy hat, and if he wasn't drunk that he looked like it." It seems Don Imus doesn't like the XFL.
The latter was no doubt a reference to Ross's Bell's Palsy. These comments are ironic, coming from a man like Don Imus who has been publicly known for, (and has admitted) his own considerable drug and alcohol abuse during his years as a high-profile DJ with WNBC in New York.
Even though Imus is known for a totally irreverent style and goes after everyone; you have to wonder if he went after ESPN's sportscaster Gary Miller a couple years ago, when Miller was arrested during an incident where he was accused of certain alcohol-induced behavior at a bar.
Nope....and let's guess why. Could it be because Gary Miller works for a "legitimate" sports network?
Remember, there are still all too many people who assume that you and I fit the traditional stereotype of wrestling fans as some sort of low IQ, slobbering knuckle-dragging inbreds from trailer parks. They forget that, if that were ever true; it damned sure isn't true today.
The Don Imuses and network executives of the world feel that wrestling fans never complain, because we aren't smart enough to, or don't care enough to do so.
If they were aware of what hundreds of fans have done against the efforts of the Parents Television Council, who also counted on that stereotype to be true...perhaps they'd have thought again. Perhaps not.
I remember back at SMW Fanweek 1993 at the Q&A that we did with Jim Cornette, when someone asked Corny what do when ridiculed for being a wrestling fan. Cornette's reaction was to basically ignore then, but when he was pressed, suggested that you go after something that the person ridiculing you likes.
Well, instead of ridiculing them....I prefer something more to the point. Let's show Don Imus and NBC that we're tired of putting up with being treated like some stereotype.
If someone doesn't like the XFL, fine. It's a free country.
If someone doesn't like Jim Ross, same thing.
But don't dislike, or be ready to ridicule a handicap just because of an association with a particular form of entertainment.
If you'd like to let WFAN know what you think of the comments of Don Imus toward Jim Ross, you can do so at: email@example.com. Please list on the subject line "Subject: Imus".
You can also let MSNBC know what you think about these comments at Imus@msnbc.com
As for the Saturday Night Live situation, if you'd like to let NBC know what you think, go here, then to the dropdown menu and select Saturday Night Live. Let NBC know that you're tired of this kind of reaction.
Until next time...
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org)