* You know your morning is off to a great start when you make the mistake of answering a phone call from the outside world and the guy on the other end is totally crackers. Some guy starts rambling about how he thinks someone is “setting fires in white neighborhoods.” Thanks for the tip, spaz.
97% of people who call a newsroom in the middle of the night are high on meth. That’s not an exaggeration, that’s a fact. We have one guy who calls nearly every single night to verify the anchor lineup the previous day. This guy must be sitting in his Y2K shelter with a big binder of graph paper, and he’s watching every newscast intently, marking each anchor’s schedule. What a weirdo.
This is why I dismiss almost all incoming correspondence. How often do you write your favorite restaurant to tell them how great their meals are? Never? Okay. How often do you write to a restaurant that treats you awfully and serves up a hot plate of garbage? More than never? And that’s my point. We have hundreds (thousands?) of people who love the show and would never think to write in.
To elicit a response from a viewer, we either need to be so over-the-top outstanding that they are moved to write us… or we just need to offend their delicate sensibilities. (And people get offended at anything and everything.)
We spent more than a week working up all our gimmicks for Halloween and we got just three e-mails, each one a varying degree of negative. Should we listen to them? No.
I listen to my bosses and my ratings. But even more than them, I listen to my inner conviction of what makes good television. And that’s why ratings have gone up (or at least held steady) for every show I’ve ever produced.
When I wrote opinion columns for my college newspaper, I got loads of letters (honest-to-God, pen-to-paper letters!). Most of them blasted my articles. I got at least one death threat. I framed it. But I also got a note from the former university president, telling me to ignore a professor who’d ripped me in a letter.
The only thing a viewer letter/e-mail means is… “I’m watching.” And we’re in the business of grabbing eyeballs.
If I changed course every time I got a negative comment, I would be hiding in fear after a bunch of lunatic Parrotheads blasted the blog for hammering Jimmy Buffett. But you know what? His music still sucks. And that blog entry is my 3rd most-viewed of all time. I win.
Besides, we’re on at 4:30 in the bleedin’ morning. Four hours before my show airs, Conan is bringing out “the masturbating bear” on this same network. Chill, viewers.
* My home state of Michigan is falling apart at the seams. There’s no money for anything. One east side school is charging its teachers if they want to run any appliances in their classrooms. In my script on this story, I suggested they could save even more money on their heating bills by burning books. And then some whiny viewer wrote to Zoraida and she got scared.
* Another struggling school in California is making ends meet by selling sponsorship for tests. Sponsorship! This failing grade is brought to you by… Cool Ranch Doritos!
* Does anybody watch “The Shield”? Amazing series. Fantastic second-to-last episode. Cannot wait for the big finale next Tuesday. It’s supposed to be a bloodbath.
* I sleep as soon as I get home, usually until the late afternoon. But the past three days, I’ve been awoken by a construction crew jackhammering the sidewalk immediately outside my building at high noon. And when I leave my apartment to come to work, I hear jackhammering of a different sort coming from the apartment across the hall. Apartment 1811 is quite the love nest. Although their dog seems to be flipping out during the deed. Not sure if he’s involved or not.
* Fact: You stand a better chance at getting away with shooting a guy if you don’t confess to it in that rap song you wrote.
* “Change we can believe in” involves… hiring lots of people from a prior administration.
* Tip o’ the cap to the Huffington Post for this story: “Obama’s Use of Complete Sentences Stirs Controversy”
* Time Magazine tells us we’ll only have to put up with those godawful “Saved by Zero” ads through the end of the month. Portion your rage out equally during then next ten days. You won’t need it come December.
* TV news intern flips out, swears at her executive producer and kicks out a window. Jeez, girl. At least wait until you’re on the payroll to do that.
* Highlander Producer Carol: “Ben, you’ve got a lot of things, but I don’t know about ‘the moral high ground.'”
* Florida (where all elections go to die) released this list of write-in candidates for president. Hillary got more votes than Jesus.
* The perfect phone call should last 9 minutes and 36 seconds. Unless you’re calling NBC5 to complain. In that case, the call should last long enough for you to punch yourself in the face.