Film and TV

The Week in TV: Bye-Bye Beckie

It's July 4th -- what are you doing reading this? You should be blowing things up to celebrate your freedom. This was the week in TV Land:

• Fire up the Boyz II Men and get ready for one last dance: Glenn Beck has ended his Fox News show two and a half years after it began. His self-titled cable show actually debuted on Headline News in January 2006, airing there through October 2008 before jumping to Fox News in January 2009. Beck's final show was devoted to setting the record straight and apologizing for years of fear and paranoia wrapped in a hateful brand of patriotism and a loathsome brand of religion. Kidding! He talked for an hour and made fun of Jon Stewart. He seemed irked that Stewart had a team of writers and only did 22 minutes a night including guests, compared with Beck's 42 minutes that's all him and composed with almost no input. Yes, in the battle of talking more, Beck is certainly the winner. And we all know that the smartest person is always the one who says more. Of course, Stewart just knocked off Jay Leno in the latest quarterly demo race, so he's probably not sweating the threats of a retiring demagogue.

• Stephen Colbert is great at his job for one reason above all others: Commitment. It's not enough for him to merely mock the media and politicians that feed on ignorance and fear; he's smart and gutsy enough to actually get into the action and mess with the system. He initially dubbed his 2008 presidential run the "Hail to the Cheese: Stephen Colbert's Nacho Cheese Doritos 2008 Presidential Campaign," and when he was told that moneys kicked in by the chip maker could only be used to fund his show's coverage of said campaign, he merely added the word "Coverage" to the mix. The goal of these stunts is to highlight the inherent consumerism in politics, and to become the very ideal of the sponsored candidate that he so eloquently mocks with his actions.

His latest move: forming a super PAC. Dubbed "Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow," the PAC will let him raise unlimited funds corporations, unions and anyone who wants to cut him a check. His PAC made headlines the other day when Colbert appeared before the Federal Election Commission to seek permission to mention the PAC on The Colbert Report, since there were potentially hairy issues involving Viacom and airtime and financial disclosures hanging over the entire thing. But Colbert got the OK from the FEC in a 5-1 vote, meaning he can use his show to promote his PAC. What's he gonna do with the money he raises? Good question. Maybe a charity. Or maybe he just keeps it.

• NBC knows what they like: In addition to bringing back Fear Factor, they're also roping in old host Joe Rogan to make mildly aggressive jokes and push people into eating bugs or cow anuses or whatever else the producers feel like serving. Rogan told TV Guide that returning to the show feels "like some sort of bizarro dream world," which is actually how the rest of us feel as well. The show could be back as early as this fall.

• Salt Lake City residents worried about missing out on the PG-13 cleavage and inevitable cancellation of NBC's The Playboy Club can take heart: after the city's NBC affiliate refused to air the program, MyNetworkTV stepped up and offered to carry the show on its KMYU. (This isn't the first time Salt Lake's KSL has turned down an NBC show, either. They also decline to air Saturday Night Live, which airs in that city on the CW.) MyNetworkTV is a catch-all channel specializing in reruns of things like Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? and Law & Order: Criminal Intent, so it's a minor get for them to land a show like this one. If it turns out to be a modest hit, expect the NBC affiliate to think about changing its mind.

• NBC's Chris Hansen, who hosts To Catch a Predator and has made a career out of busting creeps using hidden cameras, was himself busted with a hidden camera recently. He was apparently caught cheating on his wife by the National Enquirer. The jokes pretty much write themselves here; feel free to leave your own in the comments.

• Nick Kroll is getting his own sketch series on Comedy Central. The Nick Kroll Show will revolve around the stable of characters Kroll has trotted out in his live shows and in viral videos, including Bobby Bottleservice and the Rich Dicks. On one hand, good for Kroll. He's a funny guy who deserves a shot (and who's reliably good on FX's The League). On the other, Comedy Central series tend to have a short half-life unless they become pop-culture juggernauts or unlikely ratings bonanzas (South Park, Tosh.0, the Stewart-Colbert double-header), so Kroll's got his work cut out for him if he wants to stick around.

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Daniel Carlson
Contact: Daniel Carlson