Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Watcher Has Left The Building - Nov. 1, 2008



That's a wrap!

After 12 years at the
helm of TVtimes,
it’s time for The Watcher
to pack up and move on.
But first, a few parting words …

By Eric Kohanik

Cancellation can often come swiftly and without warning in the TV world.

And so, it’s somehow fitting that The Watcher’s exit from TVtimes not have much advance notice.

For more than a decade, I’ve had the privilege of telling countless stories and spewing all sorts of opinions about television on the pages of Canada’s largest TV publication. Of course, that has been only part of the job of being the editor of TVtimes for 12 years. The other parts of the job? Well, they’re way too unexciting to write about here.

What has been exciting, though, has been the opportunity to keep tabs on the most fascinating medium in the world – and the colourful individuals who populate it.

Television has been my professional preoccupation since the 1980s – part-time since1981 and full-time since 1986. The focus has been local, national and international.

It has often meant attending big press tours in Los Angeles – 40 of them, in fact! – to get up close with some of Hollywood’s top stars, everyone from such legends as Lucille Ball, Bob Hope and Carol Burnett to contemporary stars Jerry Seinfeld, Oprah Winfrey and George Clooney.

Those TV press tours are overseen by the Television Critics Association, an organization that represents more than 200 TV critics in the U.S. and Canada.

Several years ago, I even had the honour of being part of the TCA’s administration: two years as secretary, two years as vice-president and, to cap it off, two years as president – the first and still only time a Canadian has held that post.

As for TV stars, American or Canadian, there have been many stories to tell about them over the years. Many have been told in print; many more have simply made for party conversation or chatter around the office.

There was the time Tom Hanks confessed to me over dinner how he regularly watched CFL games, via satellite, at Martin Short’s house. And there was the time I actually got to hang with George Clooney at a party during his early days on ER.

“They give you all this free booze!” Clooney exclaimed to me that night. “And they drive you home afterward. Perfect!”

Of course, things aren’t always perfect in L.A. “This town is friggin’ hard on you,” one Canadian actress lamented to me on a Hollywood set in the mid-1990s. “If you’re not related to it, married to it or having sex with it, it’s hard to find work.”

Although that fact of TV life hasn’t changed much over the years, many others have. And, alas, some of those facts have affected the publications that cover the medium.

In recent years, an explosion of channels, declines in advertising revenue, increases in paper and printing costs and the rise of the Internet have altered how TV is covered.

And so, it’s a wrap for me at TVtimes. It’s been a fun ride. Thanks for reading.