Thursday, March 24, 2005

Another message to "The Parents Television Council". RE: Crossing Jordan

CHILD OF TELEVISION: My message to "The Parents Television Council".

When I started writing this column, it wasn’t to be an anti "Parents Television Council" forum, but as I said in my Pre-ramble "I live in Hollywood, California and am tired of members of my community being described as amoral and trying to undermine the fabric of the American family". In fact I sincerely hope that some day we will find ourselves on the same side. In your mission statement you state, "The PTC's primary mission is to promote and restore responsibility and decency to the entertainment industry in answer to America's demand for positive, family-oriented television programming. The PTC does this by fostering changes in TV programming to make the early hours of prime time family-friendly and suitable for viewers of all ages. We serve as the conscience of the entertainment industry and corporate advertisers who sponsor broadcast content." FAQs About the Parents Television Council. In my opinion, your intentions are noble, but your execution is flawed.
A few weeks ago I was on the Parents Television Council web site researching for another article and I saw that an episode of the medical drama "CROSSING JORDAN" titled "MURDER IN THE RUE MORGUE" was voted the "Worst TV Show of the Week". Crossing Jordan - Worst Family TV Shows of the Week. I had seen that episode and enjoyed it. I had to read further.
Aubree Bowling mentions, on your site, the name of the show, the episode title, the date the episode aired (January 9), the network the show aired on (NBC) and even some of the stars. What was not mentioned was it’s TV rating (TV-14) or it’s time slot (10pm-9pm central) not "the early hours of prime time" that’s mentioned in your mission statement. If you look at the shows listings on the NBC web site NBC.com > > Episode Guide you will see the show's ratings, it's time slot and a synopsis that gives enough detail on the episode with out revealing the mystery that is playing out. In my opinion, parents were sufficiently warned as to what they were about to see. If you are a parent who lets your small child see this show (on a "School Night"), then shame on you. In my opinion, the PTC won’t admonish parents for watching inappropriate programs because that could cause them to loose members and support.
Aubree Bowling also wrote, "But to involve innocent child actors in the dramatic process not only creates an extra-disturbing episode; it also can negatively affect the young actors and actresses." I didn't know that the PTC was also a child actor advocacy group. I did not see any mention of the show on the "A Minor Consideration" web site A Minor Consideration Website. Many times when you see children in "an extra-disturbing episode" it's really a baby faced adult (kind of like the cops on "21 Jump Street"). Casting breakdowns will read, "18 to play younger". Also looking out for the child's interest on the set are Social Workers, Network Standards and Practices Representatives, Studio Teachers (The studio teacher may refuse to allow the engagement of a minor on a set or location and may remove the minor therefrom, if in the studio teacher's judgment, conditions are such as to present a danger to the health, safety and morals of the minor.) SAG 24/7: Screen Actors Guild - YoungPerformersDB and the child's parents.
In my opinion there are bigger threats to children than a TV show. The Internet for example exposes children to imagery that they would never see even on cable. Sexual predators use the Internet to prey on children as depicted in many TV crime dramas. NBC (the network that brings you Crossing Jordan) does a series of public service announcements "The More You Know" where they discuss a variety of issues including Internet safety NBC.com > The More You Know In my opinion the PTC does want to address Internet related issues because that may force parents to confess their computer illiteracy. The same way parents have to admit that their kids mastered the V chip before they could. CHILD OF TELEVISION: "V" is for Chip. That admission could cause them to loose members and support.
In my opinion the PTC would rather ride the wave of a popular TV show thus being able to condemn the show while hitting the talk show circuit. I find this behavior similar to a serial killer that goes after celebrities in order to take their fame. This whorish behavior is no better than someone who is willing to eat an animal part that the butcher would normally throw out, just to be on TV. In my opinion the Parents Television Council lacks the moral high ground to judge people who work in television. On the bright side, being The Parents Television Council’s "Worst TV Show of the Week" may be the new "Banned in Boston", and be the best free publicity for the show. Kring crosses into new deal at NBC Uni TV
To quote Dennis Miller, "Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong."
Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

PS: If you’re a "Crossing Jordan" fan check out Nigel's Blog.

1 comment:

Richard Rosenblatt said...

Tony--

Great piece!

These people have stuck in my craw for freakin' ever. I just fired off my own diatribe about this stuff to someone else recently-- about the same bunch of self-righteous jerks who always complain that Hollywood makes no Family Films. Like so many of Americans who seem to think they know everything (especially when Jesus tells them), they seem to have missed that it's "show BUSINESS" and not "show RESPONSIBILITY TO TODAY'S YOUTH". And while I understand that the makers of entertainment should show discretion, the fact is that when they don't it's only because studio execs have no freaking idea what sells. None. They put their efforts into formulae that have worked in the past and are happy to do a big ad campaign and assume the best. This is especially true of the TV execs who are in constant in fear of losing their jobs--meaning ALL of them. So what happens is that these brain trusts always follow the money trail. And the fact is that if these Red State yahoos would open their wallets and bring their friends and family to actually SEE family movies, then these spineless studios jerks would actually MAKE family movies.

I remember when "Iron Giant" came out. Great film and very family friendly. But no one went to see it. In part, that's because Warners had no clue how to market it, let alone release it. But that said, it got a national release. And no one came. It was on the top and every critic's top-ten list, they did a brief re-release...and NO ONE CAME! Where were the good people of the family-friendly entertainment councils then? I suspect they were out gathering up the kids up to see that week's blood-bath action/"comedy" with whateverstandupcomictheythinkcansellticketsasanactionhero-of-the-week. And then they're shocked--shocked!--when those evil Lefties in backwards California keep making this crap, and the letter writing campaigns begin.

I would love to see a day when film and television studios are really interested in *content* and that content's effect on something other than their bottom lines. But that ain't gonna happen until the general publc become more discerning. And that will happen around the same time they stop confusing movie stars for politicians, or when they stop confusing their TVs for babysitters. I am told, actually, that ticket sales to family pictures is up currently, but if this is indeed true, I give it to the Summer. Sceptical?

Damn straight.