TV Rants & Raves: Aug. 2

The good, bad and the ugly on the tube this past week:


Alexander’s finger lickin’ good

Ex-Seinfeld star Jason Alexander appeared Sunday in the first of a series of new commercials for fast-food restaurant KFC. Good for him. While Alexander‘s raking in the bucks for the new national campaign–and starring in his own new sitcom, ABC’s Bob Patterson, in the fall–his former Seinfeld cohorts seem to have vanished from the tube altogether.

Michael Richards made a half-hearted attempt last fall with his own new sitcom, but it appears he’s taken the cancellation of that show to heart, lying low. Julia Louis-Dreyfus has been planning a sitcom of her own, but can’t seem to get it off the ground. Good ol’ Jerry shows up now and then for talk show interviews–and has been toying with the idea of a new sitcom, as well-but just don’t expect to see him on the small screen anytime soon.

At least Alexander‘s got his head on straight: even if his sitcom fails, as Richards‘ did in 2000, he’s got a steady paycheck from the Colonel in his pocket.


The “Becker” bailout

So there’s a new trend on the sets of TV’s most-watched shows. Nope, it’s not this “reality” business. It’s not this gameshow craze either. It’s a revolution among supporting cast members, and it’s getting out of hand. On Wednesday, five supporting actors on CBS’ hit show Becker were curiously absent from the first script read-through of the fall season, claiming they were all sick. The actors–Hattie Winston, Terry Farrell, Alex Desert, Shawnee Smith and Saverio Guerra–appeared to be protesting their contracts with Paramount TV, demanding a drastic pay hike, according to the actors’ reps.

This tactic was used to perfection earlier this summer by four members of NBC’s The West Wing. Four Emmy-nominated actors: Allison Janney, Richard Schiff, John Spencer and Bradley Whitford. Each more than doubled their salaries. However, the Becker five are not Emmy nominees. They are not recognizable. I could have spelled his or her names incorrectly and nobody would know the difference. Wise up, guys. Go to work.


A hipper Charlie Rose?

You hear the words Charlie Rose and instantly an image pops into your head. Nice suits, nice hair, a dramatic black backdrop, a dramatic politician sitting across the table. But Charlie‘s not as stiff as you’d think these days. On Tuesday, while interviewing talk show host/comedian Bill Maher, Rose passionately argued in favor of the Internet and all of its uses, while the usually hip Maher admitted he has no use for the Web at all–and doesn’t even know how to use it. So the next time you see a fairly liberal Democrat in your next chatroom, well, ya just never know….


Special F/X

There was a time when watching a syndicated show on F/X meant you were watching Aaron Spelling drivel. Not anymore. The network recently announced that it has secured exclusive cable runs of three of TV’s biggest shows: The Practice, Ally McBeal and Buffy. Score one for the little guys. The three shows begin running on Sept. 24.


New timeslot for “Big Brother II”

CBS will change timeslots for its struggling series Big Brother II: from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. EST on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Eye Network execs attributed the move to the show’s controversial content–including a knife-wielding incident that got one houseguest booted off the show–in an effort to keep younger viewers from seeing such occurrences. Very compassionate. However, earlier this year, when Survivor was airing (at 8 p.m., mind you), we saw pigs slaughtered, babes in bikinis and heard the word bitch about 80 times an episode. Is CBS really that concerned that Big Brother II‘s corrupting the minds of youngsters–or is this a last-ditch effort to attempt to better the show’s flaccid ratings?


MTV’s 20th

Wednesday night, the scent of aerosol filled the skies above New York City. The ’80s had returned. As MTV celebrated its 20th anniversary on the tube, rockers such as Billy Idol and Bon Jovi cranked out their old-school hits to an adoring crowd. When’s the last time you saw a group of fortysomethings chanting the lyrics to “Rebel Yell” and “You Give Love A Bad Name”? By Thursday morning, these audience members likely returned to their law offices and accountants’ cubicles, but for a couple hours, they shed two decades of aging and adulthood. It was surreal, but strangely poignant.