SO MUCH television, so little time:
* It doesn't take much of an eye anymore to spot product placements, those commercials masquerading as entertainment that hide in plain sight in more and more shows.
When Tim Gunn talks about hair, makeup or accessories on Bravo's "Project Runway," inserting the name of a sponsor into each and every reference, we all know someone's getting paid.
(Yes, this is called "making it work.")
When Tina Fey's Liz Lemon capped a lively discussion with her boss (Alec Baldwin's Jack Donaghy) about the merits of a certain wireless phone on NBC's "30 Rock" a few weeks ago by breaking the fourth wall to demand, "Can we have our money now?" we can assume that they got it.
Still, jaded as I am, a recent episode of ABC's "Men in Trees" floored me when it delivered a big wet kiss for a four-wheel-drive vehicle whose massive sunroof was demonstrated - because nothing says Alaska like a massive sunroof - before two of the show's characters drove off in it.
Most product placement's subtler than these: a phone or laptop here, a well-known soft drink there.
Truth is, I'm not sure which I prefer: insidious or in-your-face.
One sneaks in and makes me want something I don't need, while the other takes me completely out of the story.
Though in the case of "30 Rock," I have to say I howled.
* Speaking of "Project Runway" - which, no, isn't paying me to mention it twice - I wanted to slap Heidi Klum last week (not that I'm tall enough to reach her face) after she complained that she wouldn't have let her husband out of the house in one of the attempts at menswear that had just gone down the runway.
Not only were most of the contestants new to men's tailoring, but they had less than two days to complete a challenge that was clearly more about triggering a meltdown than finding something for Tiki Barber (or Klum's husband, Seal) to wear.
A day or two longer, and that challenge might actually have produced interesting results.
In the meantime, I'd settle for an episode in which we discover whether Klum herself can even sew.
* As the writers strike enters its fifth week, there's not much good to say about it, other than that more of YouTube's content is being produced by professionals rather than merely stolen from them.
They're still not getting paid, of course.
But just in case TV fans get an early Christmas present in the form of a settlement that sends everyone back to their day (and late night) jobs, fans of CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman" might first want to check out what I (and Deadline Hollywood Daily's Nikke Finke, who's the go-to blogger for All Things Strike) consider the funniest of the writers' blogs, LateShowWritersonStrike.com.
Yesterday, Letterman head writer Bill Scheft's "Strike-Related Dave-Type Monologue of the Day" was:
"This is a classic labor struggle over compensation for content on the new media. The writers have the overwhelming support of the public and the Democratic presidential candidates, while the producers have the backing of that cat who keeps flushing the toilet on YouTube."
Which is strange, because I'm pretty sure the cat wasn't paid, either. *
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