Scott D. Pierce: MyNetworkTV will try Plan B

Published: Tuesday, March 27 2007 12:09 a.m. MDT

As it turns out, the folks at KJZZ were smart to be cautious about the ridiculously named "MyNetworkTV."

Not that there was anything wrong with aligning the station last fall with the new, ahem, "network" (and I use that term loosely).

Ch. 14 had been networkless since its nasty breakup with UPN way back in 2001, and there really wasn't a downside for the station to sign on with MyNetworkTV. After all, it's a sister network to Fox. And Fox has succeeded rather nicely despite enormous skepticism and huge missteps.

None huger than the first few months of MyNetworkTV's existence, which have been nothing short of disastrous. Plan A was to program English-language telenovelas — soap operas — six nights a week. The hope was that they'd experience the same success that Spanish-language telenovelas have had on Spanish-language networks. (America's No. 5 network does not telecast in English, by the way. Univision, which ranks behind CBS, Fox, ABC and NBC, is seen by more viewers than The CW.)

At the risk of piling on, the MyNetworkTV plan was, well, stupid. I thought it was stupid when it was announced; it turned out to be even more stupid than I imagined.

According to Nielsen Media Research, only about 781,000 people, on average, tuned in to watch MyNetworkTV's telenovelas. That's less than a third of the population of Utah watching what's supposed to be a national network.

That's bad. That's really bad.

And you could just see it coming, couldn't you? Who was going to devote five hours a week of prime-time viewing to over-the-top prime-time soaps that were so poorly produced they made "Dynasty" and "Melrose Place" look like "Masterpiece Theatre"? (Well, other than those 781,000 people who tuned in to see shows like "Desire," "Fashion House," "Watch Over Me" and "Wicked, Wicked Games.")

Now we'll be seeing International Fight League competitions — teams that compete in mixed martial arts. (Yes, it has a lot in common with Spike's ultimate-fighting competitions, but the folks at Fox have never seen an idea they couldn't steal.)

In markets where the MyNetworkTV schedule runs in prime time, IFL will now be seen on Mondays and some Saturdays. Male-oriented movies will air on Thursdays and Fridays. And two-hour blocks of the current telenovelas — "American Heiress" and "Saints & Sinners" — will air on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Given that KJZZ doesn't air MyNetworkTV programming until midnight, those shows will be seen a day later. (Monday's programming airs at midnight on Tuesday, and so on.)

As I suggested way back in September, airing this stuff in the middle of the night is entirely appropriate. (Actually, KJZZ moved it back an hour quite some time ago ... and nobody complained.)

Maybe MyNetworkTV will amount to something some day. And then Ch. 14 can think about airing its programming in more watchable time slots.

But it doesn't look like that's going to happen anytime soon.

WHEN I FIRST glanced at the cover of last week's edition of TV Guide, I thought it was a parody. Or a joke.

But, no, the magazine and its cover subject were both serious. And there was "American Idol" judge Paula Abdul saying, "My integrity and reputation are at stake! Simon — you've got to stop this, please."

The story inside was an old one about how fellow "Idol" judge Simon Cowell tripped her up and made her look foolish (crazy?) on the air.

But it's all ridiculous. Abdul's reputation and integrity are not at stake because she has no reputation to protect and no integrity to fall back on.

Remember, even Fox's phony "internal investigation" did not clear Abdul of charges she slept with a contestant in 2003. It just determined (big laugh here) that the sexual relationship didn't influence the outcome of the show.

Paula, dear, your reputation has been ruined already. And maybe you ought to look up the definition of "integrity" so you can stop claiming to have any.


E-mail: pierce@desnews.com