Thursday, October 18, 2012

Weasels of the Week: Executives at Cartoon Network & Fox

When I was a senior in high school, one of my teachers had a pet phrase that would illustrate her frustration over her students' lack of attention on a particular day.

"Stupidity runs rampant!"

Never has this been more apparent than in the television industry, and especially in the last five days.

Our first stop is Atlanta, home of Cartoon Network, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary with an elaborate programming stunt this month. On October 13, CN programmers felt it necessary to bump aside the mid-morning DC Nation block in favor of reruns of Riders of Berk, a spinoff from the movie "How To Train Your Dragon". The key components of DC Nation, those being Green Lantern & Young Justice, had just started their fall seasons two weeks prior. There was, predictably, no advance warning, no explanation forthcoming.

The backlash was immediate & intense. With DC maintaining a presence at the New York City Comic-Con, there was bound to be some bombardment of questions regarding the fate of the the two series (DC Nation fills some of the commercial time with short bumper pieces) that had already been established. Still, nary a peep out of CN suits, and the only rational explanation available was that something had to be put aside for the 20th anniversary party, and, unfortunately for superhero fans, DC Nation drew the short straw. Before the end of the weekend, it was learned that CN has placed DC Nation on hiatus until at least January 2013. Then again, we've heard promises before from CN about certain of their other shows, such as Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated, which began its 2nd season---finally---over the summer, but the first 13 episodes were burned off in a weekday afternoon berth over a 2 1/2 week period, with no room on the evening schedule for replays. Promises never kept are always broken.

It wasn't until Tuesday that I ran across a discussion thread at Toon Zone's DC Animation Forum. There, I'd learned that social media outlets were exploding over this issue. I weighed in, and offered this.......

[CN has contracts not only with DC/Warner Bros. Animation, but with Dreamworks. Let's say that Dreamworks' deal calls for Riders of Berk to air every Saturday, regardless of what promotion is in effect, such as the 20th anniversary celebration---and let's face it, if CN suits had any sense, they'd have done that starting at the beginning of 2012 and made it a year long thing----and WBA/DC doesn't, then Dreamworks gets priority. That's just the way it works out. It on the surface doesn't seem fair, but that apparently is the way the Snyder-Sorcher administration chooses to do business. Rob Peter to pay Paul, if you will.]

Stuart Snyder and his chief lieutenant, Rob Sorcher, are Public Enemies #'s 1 & 2 with fans because of their insistence on including live-action programming, some of it not having anything to do with cartoons at all, on the CN roster, and Snyder has been a previous "winner" of the Weasel ears. They are cited for not properly planning out the anniversary celebration and  also not accounting for DC Comics' fanbase and their loyal support of DC animated series. Yeah, Snyder also gets the tail since he's a repeat offender.

Now, we move west to Los Angeles, with a pit stop in St. Louis. Fox has the National League Championship Series, and game 3 between St. Louis & San Francisco was scheduled to run beginning at 4:00 (ET). Rain was in the forecast, and Fox had their primetime schedule filled with The X-Factor. By the 7th inning, the rain came pouring down in St. Louis, and play was suspended for more than 3 1/2 hours. Rather than go to X-Factor as scheduled at 8 (ET), Fox made a bonehead play of their own and subbed other programming they could plug in just in case they had to cut away for an update from St. Louis, which they did.

According to Yahoo!, X-Factor judge & producer Simon Cowell was said to be furious. This is X-Factor's 2nd season on Fox, and for the second straight year, an episode has been pushed aside because Fox & MLB can't figure out a contingency plan for rain delays during the playoffs. X-Factor has been rescheduled for Tuesday at 7 (ET), bumping local syndicated programming as a result. Hey, you can't have everything.

The correct decision in this case would've been to suspend play for the night and pick it up the next day before playing game 4, as if you were doing something like this in the regular season. However, the playoffs mean extra ratings points for Fox, which to them is the bottom line, ahead of player safety.

I don't really know who the appropriate party at Fox would be in this case, so we'll attach a baseball and a cap to the Weasel ears. I think they'll get the message. Then again........


magicdog said...

I've been reading all about the DC Nation debacle and the theories keep pouring in. I checked TZ's DC forum and it seems the latest scuttleb ut is that Greg Weisman may have been offered to create another season (either of YJ or perhaps yet a different series) and due to legal reasons cannot speak of it yet in detail. The deal being that he wait and air the remaining eps of YJ in January then have something prepared to go later on for CN.

I definitely think that lawyers are involved whatever the reason. There can be no other reason for programming to be pulled so suddenly.

hobbyfan said...

One of the more popular theories is that since DC has lost the license to the Milestone Media characters (i.e. Static), some of whom appeared on Young Justice, DC may need to put some episodes into turnaround and rewrite, but we don't know for sure.

Sounds to me like Weisman is not the only one who can't discuss the matter due to legal issues. If CN/WB/DC can't disclose any info to the fanbase, it seems to me that they too have to deal with legal ramnifications. I just wish CN would at least be up front and give us a few heads-ups.

magicdog said...

How could DC lose the license to Milestone? With all the time it takes to prepare a series which already contains two of them (Icon & Rocket) and preparing to introduce Static in Invasion, you'd think they'd have a tight rein on this.

hobbyfan said...

Contracts expire, certain personnel involved in such matters are lax in due diligence---coupled with a lawsuit filed by the estate of the late Dwayne McDuffie, from what I've been reading----it usually adds up to something slipping through the cracks that no one notices until it's too late to do something about it.