A double-dose of diversity in latenight talk/variety programs was launched two years ago almost to the week, when TBS announced Lopez Tonight and BET greenlighted a weeknight excursion headlined by Oscar-winning actress/comedian/specials host Monique. Last week, Lopez Tonight signed off for good at TBS, and the final Monique Show episode surfaces before Labor Day on BET. The common factor behind both cancellations: low viewership.
There’s a lot of unhappy people over this turn of affairs, and you can understand why. They had high hopes of a glass ceiling breaking for good with the coming of these shows 24 months ago, coming 15 years-plus after Arsenio Hall, the first major latenight talk/variety host of color, brought his series to an end. If you survey the commentary spaces on Facebook and other places, they can’t believe TBS and BET wielded the ax to can their respective efforts within days of each other.
To this crowd, remember three things. First, Lopez and Monique had two years to get and grow an audience, far more time than many series receive in any daypart to establish a following. Second, both programs received generous marketing, promotion and publicity. These series didn’t get thrown into the latenight stew without backup.
Third, the fact that both programs ran two years suggests that the void just opened in latenight diversity will not be open for long. Someone will step up and come in. We won’t have to wait a decade and a half for the next Arsenio Hall. Let’s see.
Tyler Perry is back in the thick of notables wanting to launch their own television network. He first made rumbles about jumping in three years ago, but recession and a tough advertising market impacted the actor/writer/director’s ambitions. Thanks to Lionsgate, distributor of Perry’s films and syndicator of his TBS sitcoms, there’s a possibility the net will happen. Sure, Lionsgate stops short of confirming published reports they’ll go forward, but management there doesn’t hide the fact that they want in when Perry makes his move. He will in 2012–and going back to observation one, you can see Perry holding latenight court on-camera when his channel starts.
CNBC, please reverse your format change to Squawk On The Street following the death of co-anchor Mark Haines. The best thing about Squawk was the whip-around “Rundown” segment shortly after the program’s start (9 a.m. Eastern time), when CNBC correspondents debriefed you on what’s happening at the NY Stock Exchange, NASDAQ, commodity pits and the Chicago bond/dollar markets. That’s been trashed in favor of extended cross-talk between new anchor team Karl Quintanilla and Melissa Lee with Mad Money host Jim Cramer. Love Cramer, and he’s getting way too much commentary time in that first half-hour at the expense of those timely/solid correspondent reports from Bob Pisani, Sharon Epperson, Rick Santelli, Scott Wapner, etc. Cut Cramer down, bring back the “Rundown” while keeping Quintanilla and Lee, and you have the perfect pre-market open half-hour Fox Business Network and Bloomberg can’t beat. Don’t return to the way things were before, and risk them beating you.
Until the next time, stay well and stay tuned!