Television tidbits from around the Dial
Green With Envy?--Immigrants rights groups are protesting the new TV series “Gana La Verde” (“Win the Green”), a “Fear Factor”-inspired reality show contest which claims to give out free green cards to Mexican immigrants wishing to enter the United States. Actually, the show only offers a year's worth of free legal advice to each weekly winner. Still, the groups feel that having contestants sleep with snakes, fend off deadly guard dogs and jump between speeding semis presents a “false impression of how the immigration process works.” Despite (or more likely because of) the controversy, the show is currently ranked number two among 19 to 49-year-olds. The show only airs on Spanish language stations in Los Angeles, San Diego, Dallas and Houston. Twenty episodes have aired so far, and several contestants are described by the show's producers as “close” to getting their green cards.
Kilby Bye-bye?--Craig Kilborn is talking about exiting his job as host of CBS' “The Late, Late Show.” Kilborn's five-year contract is up for renewal later this year and, according to several trade publications, the former “Daily Show” host simply wants out of the talk show biz. The split is reportedly amicable. CBS is happy with the shows ratings (behind “The Late Show with Conan O'Brien,” but ahead of “Jimmy Kimmel Live”) and Kilborn isn't holding out for a bigger salary. The most interesting scenario discussed has CBS trying to lure Conan O'Brien away from NBC. O'Brien has made no secret of wanting to take over an earlier timeslot. NBC's Jay Leno is contracted through 2009. CBS' David Letterman, on the other hand, may be retiring sooner. The move would give O'Brien the right of succession to Letterman's current throne (and put him in direct competition with current network leader Leno).
Double Fault--Speaking of talk shows, former tennis ace John McEnroe is seeing no love at all for his new late night talk show on CNBC. “McEnroe” debuted on July 7 to a meager 0.3 rating, translating to slightly more than 250,000 viewers. Since then, the show has slipped to (I kid you not) a 0.0 rating. McEnroe is currently pulling in an average cable access channel-worthy 30,000 viewers a night. Amazingly, CNBC is sticking by McEnroe. Right now, the network is airing Olympics footage, but is plugging the show heavily and will return with new episodes in a week or two.
“But Wearing a Swimsuit is a Talent!”--ABC has backed off earlier claims that it would be jettisoning the talent competition portion of the annual “Miss America Pageant," set to air on the network on Saturday, Sept. 18. The network had made the statement after announcing that last year's record low viewership had prompted the network to slice the broadcast to a lean two hours. Protests from former beauty contest winners ... sorry, “talent-based scholarship pageant winners” forced ABC into a compromise. Now, the top two ladies will be allowed to show off their “talents.” Here's hoping they're both baton twirlers.