Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Glenn Beck, the next Ted Turner?

I always enjoy the story told by WWE owner Vince McMahon concerning a conversation he had with Ted Turner in the 80’s. As the story goes, McMahon received a phone call from Turner to which Turner was obnoxiously saying “Well Vince I did it, I’m in the ‘wrassling’ business.” A very forward talking McMahon answers “well good for you Ted, but I’m in the ‘Entertainment’ business.”

Both men are entertainment visionaries from all aspects of the business. McMahon’s business prowess from taking a regional wrestling company, swindling the other regional owners into giving up their regions to him and created an Entertainment giant. Wrestlemania is as much an American event as the Super Bowl. Sometimes the vision is far strung, such as McMahon’s plans for the XFL, Extreme Football League. The idea was ideal; you win, you get paid. The quality of player was good, but it was the production that destroyed the XFL.

Turner’s vision is equal to that of McMahon. Turner’s idea of owning his own TV station to air his baseball and basketball teams was ahead of its time. And a 24 hour news cycle was laughable when it debuted, many telling Turner it wouldn’t last 6 months and yet now there are more forms of the 24 hour news cycle then anyone could’ve imagined.

Sure Turner eventually bowed and sold the rights to his WCW product to McMahon’s WWE, after a decade of TV ratings battles. Turner’s big mistake was sizeable contracts, giving out the large money contracts with little incentive while McMahon prefers the mid-range contracts but loaded with merchandizing incentives.
What does this have to do with political TV? Well quite a lot when it comes to creating viewable political commentary and a viable news corporation.

Without Turner’s vision of CNN, there wouldn’t be a FOX News or even MSNBC. It took these two some time, but eventually CNN lost its identity and has been trying to find its voice again. However, slowly FOX News and MSNBC are seeing their stars leave for brighter and (hopefully) greener pastures.

When MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann left, the opinionating media flipped. Where would he go? How could they let him leave? It didn’t take long for Olbermann to find a gig where he can be free to do as he pleases. His ultra left views found their way to Al Gore’s struggling Current TV channel. Honestly, I’ve look on the TV guide to see what is being shown and I have no clue what Al is trying to do. I truly believe it’s just a tax write off for globetrotting Al.

Now rumors have been flying that Glenn Beck is about to leave FOX News this December. What would Glenn Beck be without FOX News?

Well Beck has slowly built his own Media empirical monster at Mercury Radio Arts with books, online magazine, pay-per-view webcam, etc. Beck employees some 100 employees and his product is growing. Yes, his ratings have been dropping on both radio and TV. His radio broadcast was dropped by New York City’s WOR, NYC’s 2nd largest station, and by Philadelphia’s WPHT, the very place that gave Beck a second chance in the business.

But these rumors of Beck’s possible departure have many looking into the Magic 8 Ball for an answer, but I think I have an idea, “RightNetwork.”

RightNetwork is the brainchild of Kelsey Grammer. Yes, the very man that gave us Dr. Frazier Crane for decades to enjoy on our televisions. Grammer is of conservative mind and has been trying to get the larger cable providers to carry his product. Now, wouldn’t it be interesting if Grammer and Beck joined together and sell this product. Seriously think about it. Conservatives could have two channels vying for their sofa viewing.

There are many conservatives in Hollywood, more than anyone would guess because unlike their liberal counterpart, they do not feel the need to distribute their political view whenever a camera is nearby. I think Alec Baldwin has finally learned when to speak politically, now if Janine Garofalo could do the same.
Both Grammer and Beck have a feel for the business of Entertainment and the resources to back the vision. Beck’s whole television idea would be given a larger freedom on a higher cable channel. Both know opinonators, both know talkers, both know talent to get their vision across.

Even though Beck still loves to say “I’m an Independent voice” in politics, is a bogus mantra, for his words speak for themselves. I am not knocking Beck for being something that he believes he is not; I’m just saying that he is blinded by not believing he crossed the political mindfield.

There’s one more aspect I forgot to mention in this idea for Beck and Grammer. That’s Tucker Carlson and his Daily Caller site. Why Carlson you may ask? Well after all, Carlson did bring Rachel Maddow to his failed MSNBC show as a liberal voice to counter his conservative view. Maddow gives Olbermann too much credit for her success, yet it was Carlson who deserves the credit. It was apparent on Carlson’s show, he missed counterpart James Carville, for the chemistry between Carlson and Maddow just didn’t match up.

Bring these three to the table and build upon the idea. They may not challenge FOX News, MSNBC or even CNN in the ratings, but their product will have a successful following, much more successful then Air America could’ve ever dreamed of producing. Air America didn’t work for they let too many celebrities run the airwaves. Talent was minimal on the political spectrum.

Build around what you know and that’s political theatre. Build it, it can thrive, but do not try and copy a “Right” version of Stewart or Colbert. Still boggles my mind that people actually think the character “Stephen Colbert” is the actual Stephen Colbert… It’s a comedic interpretation of Bill O’Reilly you @SSclowns (WWE reference)!

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