Tag Archives: FOX

TV Shows and Sensitivity: How Should Television Address Difficult Topics?

In our divisive political world, television production teams are trying more and more to send their message and address controversial topics. Because, when done right, TV shows can get people talking, spark positive cultural change, and boost ratings. As with anything, there is a right and wrong way to tackle sensitive issues. If done wrong, this can lead to television shows receiving criticism, poor ratings, or possibly being pulled off the air or canceled.

TV Shows Different types of television networks have different levels of content regulation. The most regulated of the types of networks is the broadcast networks. These include channels such as ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox. Most of these networks’ shows, while they may address serious topics, still maintain the lighter tone that their networks establish.

Basic Cable channels are a step above broadcast networks, and they have a little more free range when it comes to dealing with more sensitive topics. Channels under this category include FX and AMC, which include more content for adults, compared to the content found on broadcast channels. Paid Cable networks and Streaming are the least regulated of the networks. These include cable channels like HBO and Showtime, and Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.

In early 2018, Paramount Network, a basic cable network, planned to air a television remake of the 1989 cult classic film “Heathers.” The movie’s plot revolves around Veronica Sawyer, her love interest, Jason Dean (JD), and her so-called friend group “the Heathers.” The story involves Veronica and JD plotting the deaths of popular students at their school, depicting gun violence amongst students and bullying. While this sort of satire worked in the 1980s in a pre-Columbine world, taking on a story of this magnitude should be done so with caution. On top of the subject matter, Paramount cast the main antagonists (the Heathers) and minorities, including Heather Chandler as plus-sized, Heather Duke as gender-queer, and Heather Macnamara as black, which many interpreted as the producers villainizing these types of people. After months of delay due to several school shootings in 2018, Paramount decided to air nine episodes of “Heathers” on their network over the course of five days in October.

Netflix is a powerhouse when it comes to their original content. With executive producer Selena Gomez and based on a popular novel, “Thirteen Reasons Why” fit what makes Netflix Originals successful. After the initial release of the series, it received mixed reviews. Some said the show brought awareness to the affects of bullying and argued it was thought-provoking and would change how people think about their actions. Others felt it glorified suicide with the idea of creating these “tapes” for people that made life bad for them as a sort of revenge and punishment. The idea of leaving these tapes also sparked a meme in the online community, which did not help their cause. While season one was based on the book, season two, and the recently green-lit season three, are both original and continue where the first leaves off in a post-Hannah Baker world.

TV Shows

ABC is known for their more family-friendly content, as their parent company is media powerhouse Disney. “Black-ish” follows a successful black man in the suburbs and his middle-class family. The story portrays the life of a group of people that up until recently, was not portrayed on television. The show is considered a comedy, but does not shy away from sensitive topics, especially those relating to the black community, such as police brutality. The show also addressed the results of the 2016 election, which shocked many. Despite addressing divisive political topics, the ratings have remained good and this fall, the show entered its fifth season.

In all, it is not the severity of the topics that a television show chooses to talk about. Different shows may depict the same issue, one may do a good job and approach the topic from all angles and with sensitivity. Others, if done incorrectly, may result in controversy over their television show, which could result in various consequences, such as poor ratings, boycotts, or being canceled by the network. It is important to use common sense and do research before addressing a divisive issue. While it is great to get people talking about these important issues, if television series are going to use their voices to bring important ideas to the table, they need to do it the right way. How should television networks bring sensitive topics to light without offending audiences? Should television avoid tackling divisive topics all together? Do you think there are certain topics that should remain off-limits?

-Gabby Leitner

…And We are Back with Avatar: Here Come the Sequels!

After achieving the status as the highest grossing movie of all time, Avatar is coming back with four new movies to be released over the next few years. The second movie began production on September 25th of this year. Many have wondered what the next movie will be like. Will it take place directly after the first one, or will it fast forward, since it will have been eleven years after the original film came out?

AvatarThese questions have been answered with the addition of children who have been added to the cast. The word is that these new children will be playing children in the clan. Some are also supposed to be Sully and Neytiri’s children as well.

Along with the new cast, Cameron has revealed some new information about what the new movies may contain. In an interview, James Cameron said that the new movie is supposed to take place with Sully and Neytiri controlling the clan. He continued by saying that the clan will leave the forest and find new environments, including underwater and volcanic environments. The producers plan on focusing less on Sully and Neytiri, and put more emphasis on the children. In an odd comment, Cameron promised that this movie will make “you s**t yourself, with your mouth wide open.”

With the first Avatar movie raking in over $2.8 billion in the box office alone. Cameron and Fox have high hopes for the next four movies. Cameron originally only had a contract with Fox for two more, but after him and his team overwrote, Fox was more than willing to create two more.

The combined production for the four movies will be $1 billion. If each movie plans on being roughly $250 million each, then they are only spending roughly $13 million more than the first movie for each of the sequels. Cameron believes that the first movie was so successful due to its story. Most fans, however, liked the movie due to special effects at the time, and they thought the story was average or nothing special. It will be interesting to see how the new stories turn out. Will they be better than the first?

The next Avatar movie is expected to be released around Christmas 2020. Release dates for the other upcoming movies, are tentative.

-Joey Linder

Can Eric Shanks and Fox Sports Meet the World Cup Standards?

In 2014, the World Cup set a United States television record as over 26 million viewers watched the final match between Germany and Argentina. But that was on ESPN. A month before ESPN handled their final World Cup, for at least the next 12 years, Fox Sports and FIFA announced that they had made a $425 million deal for the rights to all FIFA events.

Fox Sports SoccerNow, having just been awarded the rights for the 2026 World Cup as well, many loyal soccer fans around the country and world have been left wondering if Eric Shanks and Fox Sports can handle an event that ESPN has been so successful with over the years.

The President, COO and Executive Producer at Fox Sports, Eric Shanks, has been pivotal in Fox’s acquisition of the World Cup rights for the coming years. Shanks said in an interview around the time that Fox acquired the rights that “The time is now (for soccer). This country, if you kick a ball your ratings are up 25 percent to 50 percent… (there’s) a lot of reasons for it. Access to great international competitions, the growth of our domestic league, the success of the U.S. team.”

Soccer fans around the world are wondering if Fox Sports can broadcast the World Cup in ways that appeal to all fans of the game, not just fans of the United States team.

Fox Sports will have a chance to showcase their soccer coverage later in the year when they take on the 2015 Women’s World Cup. As you can see in the commercial below, Fox has already taken the U.S. first approach to this momentous event. However, with the U.S. Women’s team coming off an Olympic gold medal in 2012, the hype and extra coverage of that team may be justified.

Christopher Harris at World Soccer Talk expressed his and fellow soccer fans’ concerns in an article released the Wednesday after ESPN wrapped up their 2014 World Cup coverage. Having produced multiple UEFA Champions League matches, soccer fans have experienced what Fox Sports has in store for the future.

“The level of confidence among soccer fans and critics regarding FOX’s soccer coverage is at an all-time low,” Harris said. “Fox Sports continues to ignore soccer fans, treats viewers with a lack of respect and employs talent who are not qualified to be on the airwaves.”

Fox Sports and Shanks handed the play-by-play broadcasting reins to former NCAA tournament announcer Gus Johnson in 2013. But after hearing fans voice their concerns about Johnson’s inexperience with the game of soccer, Shanks announced in 2014 that Johnson would be stepping down as their top soccer commentator to focus on college football and basketball.

But with top commentators Martin Tyler and Ian Darke over at ESPN, Shanks is still in the process of finding and securing top talent for the 2018 World Cup. Soccer fans are concerned that Fox Sports will put too much emphasis on the U.S. team and not highlight the World’s top teams as well as they should.

Despite the concern from soccer fans about the lack of quality talent at Fox Sports as well as too much coverage of the U.S. teams, Shanks has experience with coming up with new and innovative ways to broadcast sporting events. Shanks helped develop FOXTrax, a way to help viewers to follow the puck during hockey games, as well as the yellow first-down line that fans have become accustomed to seeing during football games.

But what types of advancements can Shanks come up with for soccer coverage at Fox without ruining the classic feel of the game that soccer fans crave? Do you think Fox Sports can secure enough quality talent for their World Cup coverage? Can Shanks come up with innovative broadcasting techniques that can help separate Fox Sports from ESPN in terms of soccer broadcasting?

Leave your comments below or your suggestions of who Fox Sports should get to enhance their coverage of one of the World’s largest sporting events.

Riley Ubben

Not So Fast, Fox Sports

There has been a lot of hype around the new Fox Sports 1 station being the second best sports broadcasting company lately, but are people overlooking other sports broadcasting companies? CBS Sports would be the first to say that people are jumping on the Fox Sports bandwagon too soon.

CBS Facts

CBS broadcasts more than 25 men’s and women’s collegiate sports. They broadcast more than 400 live sporting events in a calendar year. CBS Sports is focused on collegiate athletics, as it will broadcast over 50 college football games and over 200 college basketball games this season.

CBS Sports Radio

CBS Sports RadioJust a little over a year ago, CBS created the largest major market sports radio network in the nation. The station debuted on January 2nd of this year.

“In this era of growing multimedia platforms, the addition of a national radio network to CBS Sports’ broadcast, cable and digital properties allows us to extend the storied CBS Sports brand to radio listeners across the country,” said Sean McManus, Chairman, CBS Sports. “We are pleased CBS Sports Radio will allow fans to consume CBS Sports content on a different platform from some of the most recognizable and respected broadcasters in the industry.” To read more about this, click here.

CBS Strategy

CBS has a very different strategy than that of its competitors, and that will not change with the launching of Fox Sports 1. “We’re not directly responding to what they’re doing by changing or altering our strategy,” Said McManus.

CBS is taking a very different route, instead of putting in hundreds of millions of dollars towards sports rights. CBS is playing it a little more conservative and not taking the big risks that Fox is. “We are trying to build our company more slowly and more strategically,” said McManus.

Let’s Compare the Two

FOX-Sports-1-LogoCBS has the advantage when it comes to college football as they have a contract with the SEC, which has won the last seven national championships and is known as the powerhouse conference.

FOX has the advantage when it comes to MLB, NASCAR, and UFC, as CBS doesn’t have live coverage of those sports. CBS has the advantage in Golf and Tennis as FOX doesn’t have coverage of that, until 2015 when they will cover the US Open.

CBS has a huge advantage in college basketball. They have a partnership with Turner Sports (TNT, TBS) for March Madness. CBS hosts the Final Four every year and that brings in a lot of viewership and boosts their ratings.

The two are essentially equal when it comes to NFL as FOX covers the NFC and CBS covers the AFC. They alternate the Super Bowl between each other. Here is a video of Chairman, Sean McManus, talking about the preparations of and details of covering a Superbowl.

So…Who’s Better?

Fox Sports has definitely done the most lately to make it seem like they are the apparent leader of the two, but I think it depends on the person and their taste of sports. I like the way that CBS has taken the lower route and played it slow. They already have a lock down on College Basketball and Golf. They’re equal when it comes to NFL, so it’s all up for debate.

What does the ‘Fox’ say to that? And what do you think—is CBS a contender?

Acie Glassford

Titanic: Romance and Tragedy in 3D

The epic romance and disaster film Titanic, directed by James Cameron and starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, was first released in theaters on December 19, 1997. At the time, Titanic was the most expensive feature film, with a production budget of $200 million. The film grossed $600 million domestically and over $1.8 billion worldwide. It also swept awards including Best Film and Best Director of the 70th Academy Awards and the 55th Golden Globe Awards in 1998. To memorialize the 100th anniversary of the real ship’s tragedy, Titanicwill come back to theater in 2D, 3D and IMAX versions on April 4th.

    1997            2012

In October of last year, Titanic’s domestic distributor, Paramount Pictures, showed eighteen minutes of 3D film footage in special screenings in Hollywood. Paramount also held free Valentine’s Day screenings in 44 selected cities. Recently, it even moved up its release date from April 6th to April 4th in order to launch ahead than its competitors.

Are people excited about the re-release in 3D? Perhaps less so, since they are converting the film from 2D to 3D, as with the Lion King, Beauty and The Beast, and Star Wars. What do converted 3D films really sell to the audience?

Director James Cameron had claimed in the past that he didn’t like the idea of 3D conversion, and that if the technology had been developed earlier he would have definitely shot Titanic in 3D. In order to have the best outcome, therefore he and 300 artists spent 60 weeks and $18 million on the converting process, without editing a single frame of the original cut. Viewers of the special 18 minutes footage made complimentary comments about the 3D conversion process. Even so, Cameron still maintains that the re-release of Titanic is in 2.99D instead of real 3D.

In a short featurette, available on the official Titanic re-release website, James Cameron discusses the conversion process and the profound meaning of Titanic. Cameron notes that the conversion not only changed the film into 3D, but that “3D definitely enhances small human interactions,” intensifying the intimate moments, making them more compelling to audience. “Titanic always has something for you, not matter what’s your age,” says Cameron. For those who saw Titanic before, there will be an element of nostalgia, but in 3D. For those who have never seen the film, it will be a moving and powerful new experience.

Sheng Zhang

The Simpsons’ 500th Episode—More to Come?

Fox’s favorite animated family, The Simpsons, has been making audiences laugh for more than twenty years.  Over the last two decades, The Simpsons has taken us through an unbelievable number of story arcs—and a South Park episode makes fun of this very fact, in an episode titled “Simpsons Already Did It.”  Homer has bowled a perfect game, toured with the Smashing Pumpkins, prevented two nuclear meltdowns, won a Grammy, won a Pulitzer prize, owned the Denver Broncos, solved an ancient Egyptianpuzzle, and been to outer space (TV Guide News).

We have seen hundreds of celebrity voice appearances on the show, including Larry King, Ringo Starr, and Buzz Aldrin.  The Simpsons franchise has spread from TV into video games, board games, albums, clothing, memorabilia, and a full-length film.  The Simpsons is now the longest running American scripted television series, and just hit the milestone of five hundred episodes on February 19, in the middle of it’s twenty-third season.

The 500th episode began, as all Simpsons do, with the typical intro followed by the “couch gag.”  For the special occasion though, viewers were treated with a conglomeration of every “couch gag” used in the shows run.  The plot follows the Simpson family as they are banished from Springfield because the town is going broke trying to pay for the damage from Homer’s drunken antics and Bart’s boyish pranks.

Although the episode does have jokes for its long time viewers, it is a prime example of the current state of the show.  Any fan can tell you that The Simpsons is past its prime.  Its highest rated episode, “Bart Gets an F,” ran in 1990.  Although the ratings have dropped over the past two decades, the loyalty of fans has stayed strong.  The Simpsons became a part of American culture in the 1990s, and paved the way for animated series like South Park.  Fans continue to watch in the millions, but some now view the show with a bittersweet taste.  The creators of The Simpsons are aware of this current attitude, and decided to end this special episode with a message to their fans that read, “Thanks for 500 shows.  All we ask is that you go out and get some fresh air before logging on the Internet and saying how much this sucked.”

So, what does the future hold for The Simpsons?  There will be seven more episodes in the twenty-third season, but beyond that, the future is shrouded in mystery.  Although the 500th episode garnered a 30 per cent increase in viewers of the 18-24 demographic, this may be the final season for the series.  Negotiations between executives of 20th Century Fox TV and the voice actors are not going well after the studio asked the voice actors to take a 45 per cent pay cut.  The absolutely irreplaceable voice actors responded with a proposal for a 30 per cent pay cut if they received a percentage of the massive memorabilia revenue.  Negotiations are still under way, but 20th Century Fox TV released a statement saying, “… We believe this brilliant series can and should continue, but we cannot produce future seasons under its current financial model” (Inside TV).

Personally, I can’t see this being the end of The Simpsons.  However, the people at Fox are notorious for canceling good programs, and I have a gut wrenching feeling that some of our favorite Simpsons characters may sound less familiar next season.

-Nathan Mitchell

A Serious Case of the Mondays

On Monday, October 3, 2011,  ESPN decided to pull the Monday Night Football Intro, as performed by country singer Hank Williams, Jr. (HuffingtonPost).  This decision was made after Williams made comments on a Fox News morning show, where he compared President Barack Obama with Adolf Hitler, and called Obama and Vice President Biden “the enemy.”  Williams performance was replaced by the national anthem.  On Thursday October 6, ESPN announced that Williams will no longer be make openers for Monday Night Football (ESPN).  Williams had been creating Intros for Monday Night Football since 1991, and was famous for the line “Are you ready for some Football!”

Hank Williams Jr.

Some people (including Williams) would argue that the First Amendment has been violated.  Williams has political views and simply felt like he needed express them. While it is true that everyone is entitled to their opinion, and everyone else “should” respect this freedom,  is also true that nobody is free from the consequences of their opinions.  It’s not uncommon for celebrities or entertainers to voice their political ideas, but it is always suggested that they wait until they are in a good position to do so.  Former pro wrestler Jesse Ventura became the Governor Minnesota, but he wasn’t making huge public political statements while he and “Macho Man” Randy Savage were fighting for the Tag Team Championship.  Some may also say that Williams was making comments in line with the views of Fox News and its audience and he got too comfortable.  This could be true, but being on ESPN for 20 years and being in the music industry for even longer, he must of known where the line was.

I don’t believe Williams being fired was a bad thing however.  This was a good reminder that Williams has been doing Monday Night Football intro’s for a while and it was time for some fresh ideas. The songs he was doing every week were starting to get gimmicky and people will probably miss them as much as they miss “Steve” for the Dell computer commercials. There is a decent chance he felt this way too. Also it’s worth noting that he went out with a bang. Plenty of people (including myself) has been fired from jobs without getting the chance to tell the man how we really feel. But he had a good run, and football fans, musicians, and television producers everywhere respect him for that.  As Monday Nights roll along, and the greetings to our football games change, his legacy will always be remembered.

Williams stated in the Fox News interview that he is considering running for Senator for the state of Tennessee.  This is a great time for him to focus on that and move on to the next stage of his life, but he probably won’t be getting my vote anytime soon. Nobody ever loves the government all the time, but comparing respected government officials to mass murdering dictators is never a good idea. If he wants his political career to be as successful as his music/television career he better get ready to read some books and articles instead of blurting out ignorant analogy.

-Kazi Smith