Friday, May 13, 2005

Dennis Miller Cancelled?

My lone source of information about TV culture, Ann Althouse, reports that the Dennis Miller show is scheduled to be cancelled by CNBC:

His show never got to be as good as it could have been because -- I'm guessing -- Miller never got the support from CNBC he needed. And he deserved it. His past work on HBO was great, but the CNBC show was struggling on the edge all along. I suppose Miller never should have risked his reputation by venturing into that unsupported environment. There was a limit to how much he could do on sheer wits alone. And it was often painful to watch him sweating it out on camera.

He needed great writers and supporting actors and a sharp audience -- what Jon Stewart has on "The Daily Show." Now, he's the one stuck looking like a failure. And I blame CNBC for doing that to him.
This sounds like a bad deal for the reasons that Althouse gives, but also because Dennis Miller is one of the few independent thinkers on the TV talkshow circuit. I suspect that may be part (even unconsciously) of the reason that Miller did not get the support Althouse mentions.

But further reading in the CNN piece that Althouse links to reveals that this is not the whole story:
The network will also replace "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" with a new business show at 7 p.m. that will debut in the third quarter.

Both moves are part of a repositioning of CNBC's primetime back to the network's focus on financial news and away from failed attempts at entertainment, according to the report.
Whenever TV moves away from entertainment in order to focus on providing actual information that would be a Good Thing. (Unless the "information" turns out to be political analysis by some Jim Lehrer clone, but I doubt that will be the case with financial shows.)

One of the problems with my policy of not watching TV is that I can't join in the sort of boycott Ms. Althouse describes (it would be like a vegetarian giving up meat for Lent). But on the whole, this may not be a particularly bad move for CNBC and Dennis Miller is good enough that he should find another venue without too much trouble. At least I hope so.

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