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Cheapskate NBC Drops Its Stone

May 22, 2007


stonex-large.jpgNBC, America’s (barely) number four TV network, announced Tuesday that it will not renew Stone Phillips’ contract when it expires this June.  Phillips has been co-anchor of ‘Dateline NBC’ (originally with Jane Pauley, currently with Ann Curry) since the show began in 1992.  Now that NBC can barely eke out more than one hit TV series per season the purse strings have tightened, leaving a trail of bloody corpses from its news division in its wake.

NBC released a statement quoting Phillips as saying “It’s been a wonderful 15 years, I’m profoundly appreciative of the many friends and colleagues, past and present, who have been a part of the `Dateline’ family. This is a great news division with a bright future. I wish the people of NBC News all the best.”

Last November NBC Universal announced that they were planning to slash expenses by $750 million and cut 700 jobs, about 5% of its workforce.  Like any big business they gave these cuts a lame name- the NBCU 2.0 initiative. Pinhead executives claimed it would help the TV and movie giant with its transition from traditional analog media to digital, including ventures on the Internet and cellphones.  Just what the internet needs, more crap that no one wants to watch.

Apparently NBC doesn’t understand that folks aren’t tuning in because they keep producing lame shows.  I’d rather look at the glowing keys on my home phone than 99% of the tripe I see on its schedule.  Why not get rid of Saturday Night Live?  All that show is these days is a bunch of camera mugging half-talents doing the same six sketches they have done all year (five of those six sketches involve talk shows.)  NBC did the right thing by pulling the plug on ‘Studio 60’ (the woefully unoriginal dramedy about an SNL-type variety show) now they should go the extra step and close up shop at the real SNL. 

What NBC really wants from its ‘news’ division is a bunch of robots willing to do more than one thing for the ever-sinking network.  That’s why ‘Dateline’s’ Ann Curry gets to stay put.  She reads the real news in between the puff pieces that occupy the three (soon to be four) hours ‘Today’ takes up in the morning.  They canned weekend news anchor John Seigenthaler a couple months ago in favor of ‘Weekend Today’ co-host Lester Holt, who now gets to do double duty as anchor of the weekend edition of ‘NBC Nightly News.’  Dateline’s staff was slashed from 300 to 150 employees around the time NBCU 2.0 was announced. 

orangeman-copy.jpgAround contract renegotiation time this year, uber-metrosexual Keith Olbermann turned his program ‘Countdown’ into a joke by covering a lot more ‘American Idol’ gossip and Paris Hilton updates while simultaneously toning down his (now) rarely seen ‘special comments.’  It must have worked because got to keep his job.  He also signed on to join NBC’s ‘Sunday Night Football’ as some kind of analyst even though he has never played a real sport in his life. I realize he helped make ESPN the homo erotic sports love-fest it is today, but he is nothing more than a sports geek.  Stone Phillips played  quarterback on the Yal football team.  Why wasn’t he offered a job as a football analyst?

Oh well, that’s ‘show-biness!’  Most likely Stone Phillips will have no problem finding a new job with a network that can actually pay him to report the news.  Let’s face it ‘Dateline NBC’ is way past its prime. The network just needs to turn the show over to reporter Chris Hansen and officially rename it ‘To Catch A Predator:The Series’ since that is the only thing it features these days.  And they wonder where the viewers have gone…  

Now that I think about it, I doubt Stone lost any sleep after this decision.

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