Tuesday, August 2, 2005

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Who wants their Gore TV?

Fourteen months ago, Al Gore announced his plans to create a new cable tv channel. That channel -- called Current TV -- launched yesterday. Salon's Heather Havrilesky sums up what Gore is after:

The programming is broken down into short segments, or "pods," generally less than 10 minutes long, which focus on everything from style to newlywed experiences to money management to profiles of inspiring individuals. As each pod progresses, an indicator (like the one you see in QuickTime or iTunes) demonstrates how much time is left in the segment. If you've never seen your TV imitate your laptop before, that's just the beginning: The network hopes to receive a lot of its content from viewers, who are encouraged to shoot short pieces on video and upload them to the Current TV Web site. Viewers will vote on the best segments, and first-time contributors will make $250, while regular contributors will make around $1,000 per pod.

At the press conference for his new cable network, Gore explained in earnest yet detached terms just how revolutionary he intends his venture to be: "I personally believe that when this medium is connected to the grass-roots storytellers that are out there, it will have an impact on the kinds of things that are discussed and the way they are discussed."

Well, Mo Ryan is certainly discussing Current TV in the Chicago Tribune -- and it sounds like Ted Turner and Rupert Murdoch can rest easy for now:

For a channel that is supposed to be aimed squarely at 18 to 34 year olds and reflect their views and concerns, Current's remarkably clueless and elitist. And a fair amount of the content could be found just about anywhere else.

We meet a couple of newlyweds who drive a Lexus and fight over whether to get a $1,200 icemaker (the expensive ones, you see, make clear ice, not cloudy ice). Young couples in New York City -- news flash! -- find the real-estate market daunting. We meet a couple who's just had a baby. Baby poop is, apparently, very smelly.

Thanks, Current, for blowing my mind.

Havrilesky dumps on the on-air talent:

[T]he Current hosts are too sexy for their cable network. And not only do they introduce each segment with inane, bubbly comments that make it sound far more fluffy and empty than it is, but they reappear after each segment to sum up their feelings about what happened. This is why we know that watching a pod about dating in Iran makes former Miss USA Shauntay Hinton realize "how lucky I am to be free to do what the hell I wanna do! Yeah!" and watching a segment on suicide in Japan "pretty much took the wind right out of my [host Johnny Bell's] sail." Bell adds, "Not much more to say, but it's tragic." As a result, tuning in to Current TV sometimes feels like going to see a moving documentary with a semiliterate preteen who insists on recasting the entire story in the shallowest of terms the second the credits start to roll.

Hmmm.... this almost makes the hosts sound like.... bloggers. And yes, the channel has its own blog.

In the interest of providing greater depth than the semiliterate preteen, check out Chip Crews in the Washington Post if you want a somewhat more charitable view of their first day.

And, if they manage to hang around for more than a decade, you just know that someone is going to write a TV column that begins, "Remember when Current TV used to run pods?"

posted by Dan on 08.02.05 at 04:57 PM


>We meet a couple of newlyweds
who drive a Lexus and fight over
whether to get a $1,200 icemaker...

Hmmm...This show just might work after all...

posted by: James on 08.02.05 at 04:57 PM [permalink]

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