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Frost Bytes 

TV in OT

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Not that Frost Bytes is an extension of one of my other columns, but I forgot to include my annual bitch session about the just-ended Television Critics Association’s summer press tour in True TV—you know, because I actually wrote about television shows you should watch/avoid this week instead of “reporting” on series that may or may not show on the tube in several months. Crash course: Big newspapers shell out thousands of dollars to send their TV critics to the twice-a-year TCA tour; said reporters either provide interesting info and insights or simply parrot press releases readily available to anyone with an Internet connection. We have prime examples of both in Salt Lake City’s dailies currently, but I’m far too petty to give props to the TV critic who’s actually doing his job. Why? True TV was nastily discouraged from applying to the TCA years ago for not being featured in a “real” newspaper—which is cool, because I can’t even convince City Weekly to chip in on my cable bill, much less expense a two-week vacation in Beverly Hills. I mean, glad to have a job …

… because one of the topics brought up at the summer TCA tour (see how easily I can find this stuff out?) was the downsizing trend of newspapers casting off their TV reviewers and plugging in generic national wire copy in the name of “going more local” (?)—and that’s not the only beat: “We’re seeing it in all the popular arts, with papers cutting back on movie and rock music critics,” the recently-dumped Gail Shister of The Philadelphia Inquirer told Variety. “It’s mind-boggling. In my experience, readers have a virtually insatiable appetite for any news about television. If there’s one beat that’s sacrosanct, it should be TV.” Word, sister!

Then again, some TV critics are utterly worthless and should be kicked to the curb—and replaced with True TV, totally available for syndication! Ahem. Anyway, Variety also conducted a poll among industry folk to determine their favorite/feared TV scribes—the results: USA Today’s Robert Bianco (pure crap, but ubiquitous), TV Guide’s Matt Roush (ditto), the Chicago Tribune’s Maureen Ryan (not bad), Time’s James Poniewozik (better), the Newark Star-Ledger’s Alan Sepinwall (better still) and the San Francisco Chronicle’s Tim Goodman (a genius—my hero).

According to at least one disappointed City Weekly reader, I will never ascend to such heights: “I usually depend on Bill Frost for information regarding pop culture, but he really let me down this week by neglecting to list The Monster Squad as a new DVD release,” Ryan Daley e-mailed last week. “He refused to mention the highly-anticipated DVD release of a much-beloved late-’80s film that has been inaccessible to the general public for the past 20 years. In one fell swoop, he has managed to alienate every 30-35-year-old horror-movie dork who happens to read City Weekly on a regular basis. Good luck with your comeback, Bill.” Thanks … dork.

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