After getting back to a certain level of normalcy a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, there is one thing more certain now than ever for broadcast networks: April TV ratings bring May cancellations and last-minute renewals, too. But in the “new normal” that the coronavirus has delivered us over the 2020-2021 season, there’s more uncertainty about which broadcast shows will stay and which will go than in years past.
Fox, CBS, ABC, NBC and The CW all still have several decisions to make before their upfront presentations to advertisers later this month, events that will once again be virtual, and some networks have many more tough calls to make than others. And the comedies and dramas that are real coin-flips at this point are considered “bubble shows.”
Setting aside the pandemic’s effects on broadcast network’s 2021-2022 slate choices for a moment, these bubble shows’ fates come down to lots of hard-to-quantify factors: momentum, reviews, how much they cost to make, how much money the people who watch them make, syndication situations, diversity and what networks have to replace them. And then there are executives’ personal tastes. It’s part science, part crapshoot.
They think that FOX will renew CALL ME KAT but the jury is out on THE RESIDENT and PRODIGAL SON. On ABC, they think CALL YOUR MOTHER will be cancelled and that depresses the hell out of me. At CBS, they say THE UNICORN is on the bubble and could go either way. I thik THE UNICORN is the worst show on broadcast TV currently.
At some point in the near future, the networks are going to do their upfronts where they offer up what the fall schedule will be. At that time, we're probably all going to be disappointed when one of our favorite shows is being cancelled.
Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Thursday, May 6, 2021. IAVA has an upcoming event, Robert Pether remains in an Iraqi prison and remains a testimony to how ineffective and pathetic the Australian government is, a former member of the US military is convicted for threats of armed violence, some outlets falsely reporting the man was an Iraq War veteran lead to a long aside on the late and great Aretha Franklin, and much more.
Memorial Day is this month (May 31st). It's a national holiday in the US and its intent is to remember those who died serving in the US military. IAVA is a US organization, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the leading organization for veterans of today's (ongoing) wars. They have an action that they do each Memorial Day:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 3, 2021
New York, NY – Today, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) kicks off their annual #GoSilent Memorial Day campaign to honor the veterans of the U.S. Armed forces who have lost their lives.
A decade-long tradition, IAVA continues to promote this annual moment of silence every Memorial Day. The organization calls on all Americans to join in the national moment of remembrance on May 31 at 3pm local time and take the pledge to honor the brave servicemembers who gave their lives for our great nation.
“This Memorial Day, we encourage all Americans to #GoSilent in honor of those we have lost. We hope you will stand with us to honor the brave members of our military who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” said Jeremy Butler, CEO of IAVA. “But we must remember that the fight for our nation’s heroes isn’t limited to just one day. Through this annual campaign, we also aim to raise awareness about the sacrifices that our servicemembers make and to educate the public on how they can support veterans all year round.”
As part of its #GoSilent campaign, IAVA is urging participants to help spread the word and “go silent” to uplift and remember the lives of those lost in the U.S. Armed Services. A #GoSilent social media toolkit for Memorial Day is available at: iava.org/go-silent/#resources.
IAVA is the voice for the post-9/11 veteran generation. With over 400,000 veterans and allies nationwide, IAVA is the leader in non-partisan veteran advocacy and public awareness. We drive historic impacts for veterans and IAVA’s programs are second to none. Any veteran or family member in need can reach out to IAVA’s Quick Reaction Force at quickreactionforce.org or 855-91RAPID (855-917-2743) to be connected promptly with a veteran care manager who will assist. IAVA’s The Vote Hub is a free tool to register to vote and find polling information. IAVA’s membership is always growing. Join the movement at iava.org/membership.
In Iraq? Robert Pether continues to be held in a prison. The government of Australia continues to do nothing. The Australian government has done nothing to protect their citizen Julian Assange who remains imprisoned -- for what crime? Oh, that's right, so he can be persecuted for the crime of informing the public of what the US government was actually doing. Robert Pether's crime? Apparently it was conducting business in Iraq. And that's fine with them. Let the whole world register that it's open hunting season on any Australian citizen because their shameful and inept government is too cowardly and craven to protect its own citizens.
A father locked in a Baghdad prison has sent an emotional message to his son to wish him well in his Leaving Cert next month.
Roscommon-based consultant engineer Robert Pether, who has spent the last 26 days in a Baghdad prison because of a contract dispute, called from prison yesterday to wish his son, Flynn, the best of luck.
[. . .]
His voice quivering with emotion, Mr Pether told 17-year-old Flynn: ‘I love you. I’m sorry I can’t be there at the moment but I am so proud of you. You just do your best in those exams and hopefully I will get to talk to you soon. If not, I will see you as soon as I’m released after I’ve come home.
‘At the moment, I don’t know when that will be but we are working on it. Love you buddy. Talk to you soon.’
Mr Pether’s wife, Desree, held back tears as she explained that her husband will not be home for Flynn’s birthday on June 2 or for the 16th birthday of his other son, Oscar, on June 10.
Desree is a citizen of Ireland and the Irish press and elected officials in Ireland than have their Australian counterparts. Marese McDonagh (IRISH TIMES) notes:
Mr Pether is being detained with an Egyptian colleague who was arrested with him on April 7th, when they both turned up for a purported meeting in Baghdad with the governor of the Central Bank of Iraq.
“There was no meeting. There were no pleasantries. They were met by 12 security officers and arrested and marched to a compound,” said Ms Pether who is an Irish citizen. She said her husband was forced to hand over his phone, laptop and hard drive and had no idea if his family knew what had become of him. He spent two weeks in the suit he had worn to the meeting and “doesn’t even have a toothbrush”. However, she said her husband had reassured her that he was not being ill treated.
Ms Pether said the two men were “pawns in a game of chess” and were caught up in a dispute between their company and its client, the central bank. Mr Pether had been overseeing the construction of a new headquarters for the central bank in Baghdad, a project which is ongoing for four years.
“The governor himself of the Central Bank of Iraq contacted Rob and said everything’s been resolved, can you please come over to Iraq from Dubai to fix the final issues so that we can move forward,” Ms Pether said.
Her husband also called the Australian embassy in Iraq, who told him he was not at risk of being detained if he went, according to Ms Pether.
But when he and his Egyptian colleague arrived for the meeting, they were immediately arrested.
“It was a trap to get them back in the country,” Ms Pether said.
“I had hoped there would be compassion and due process would be completed and common sense would have prevailed ... but no, the fabrications continue and he’s still a pawn in the game of chess.”
And the Australian government does nothing. Turning to the US government where a former service member has been convicted. From The United States Attorney's Office Northern Florida:
Tallahassee Man Convicted For Communicating Threats Of Violence
TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA – This afternoon a federal jury convicted Daniel Alan Baker, 33, of Tallahassee on two counts of transmitting a communication in interstate commerce containing a threat to kidnap or injure another person. The conviction, which followed a two-day trial that began Tuesday morning, was announced by Jason R. Coody, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
Baker was arrested by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation on January 15, 2021, after he issued a “Call to Arms” for like-minded individuals to violently confront protestors that may gather at the Florida Capitol in the wake of the January 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol. He specifically called for others to join him in encircling any protestors and confining them at the state Capitol complex using firearms. Baker posted two such threatening communications on January 12 and 14, 2021.
“The free exercise of speech is central to our democracy,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Coody. “However, the defendant’s threats of armed violence to inhibit expression of political views different than his own are both unlawful and dangerous. This office and our law enforcement partners are committed to protecting public safety, and the jury’s verdict today has ensured that the defendant will be held accountable for his actions.”
At trial, evidence was presented showing that both threatening communications were true threats. The evidence included Baker’s foreign and domestic military training, his experience with firearms and explosives, as well as his social media posts that threatened the use violence and calls to war against those of different ideologies. Jurors observed social media posts in which Baker proclaimed himself as an anarchist, relayed his desire to slay his enemies, and boasted about assaulting law enforcement officers at protests in addition to his capabilities as a trained sniper. The evidence also included three firearms, a loaded shotgun and handgun depicted in many of his posts which were seized from Baker at the time of his arrest, and a third firearm, an AK-47 style rifle purchased by Baker days before transmission of his “Call to Arms.”
Baker’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for August 16, 2021, at 3:30 pm, at the United States Courthouse in Tallahassee before the Honorable Allen Winsor. Baker faces a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and three years’ supervised release on each count.
"This case proves that the FBI will not tolerate those who seek to wreak havoc in our communities," said Rachel L. Rojas, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Jacksonville Division. "Violence designed to intimidate citizens and influence government is what the FBI's counterterrorism team was designed to combat, and our team remains laser focused on identifying, investigating, and disrupting individuals who cross the line from expressing beliefs to violating federal law by inciting violence or engaging in criminal activity. The communities of North Florida deserve nothing less than our full commitment to aggressively pursue these cases, and we will continue to work alongside our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners. We are especially grateful for the work of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Leon County Sheriff’s Office and Tallahassee Police Department in this case."
This conviction was the result of a collaborative investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Leon County Sheriff’s Office, and the Tallahassee Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Stephen Kunz and Lazaro Fields prosecuted this case.
The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General. To access public court documents online, please visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida website. For more information about the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/fln/index.html.
Some outlets are calling Daniel Alan Baker an Iraq War veteran. He is no such thing. We'll be kind and not link to those outlets embarrassing themselves. Yes, Baker was a member of the US military. Yes, he was ordered to go to Iraq. No, he did not go. He checked out, went AWOL. He was kicked out of the military as a result (in 2007). Which makes his promoting his 'event' to kill Donald Trump even more weird/hypocritical, since he wrote on FACEBOOK, "If you are afraid to die fighting the enemy, then stay in bed and live. Call all of your friends and Rise Up!"
The stupidity reminds me of some of the reviews of Aretha Franklin's last studio album released before she died, ARETHA FRANKLIN SINGS THE GREAT DIVA CLASSICS. It was ten songs Aretha sang to salute the female peers she'd blazed a trail with. In covering Adelle's "Rolling in the Deep" (which was Aretha's last charting hit -- number 47 on the R&B charts and number 1 on the dance charts), she brought in "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." And all the fools and idiots rushed to pimp Marvin Gaye. Marvin didn't write the damn song, Ashford & Simpson did. Marvin (with Tammi Terrell) didn't have the big hit with it, Diana Ross did. Marvin and Tami made it to number 3 on the R&B charts and number nineteen on the pop charts. Diana? She took the song to number one on both of those charts.
Diana also took the song into the top forty in other countries and Marvin (and Tammi) didn't. They failed. They didn't even chart in obvious markets like Canada and the UK. It wasn't even Marvin and Tammi's biggest hit on the charts. There biggest charting single was Ashford & Simpson's "Your Precious Love." After that, "You're All I Need To Get By" and "Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing" ("ANLTR" would be their first charting single in Canada and their first top forty single in the UK). Even the mostly forgotten "If I Could Build My World Around You" was a bigger hit for the duo than "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." That last one ("IICBMWAY") was not written by Ashford & Simpson but the rest mentioned were. I'll note them because they are legends and they rarely get the credit they deserve and because Valerie Simpson is a friend (and Nickolas was until he passed)
There's this myth that's built up -- a lot of lies -- of how great and wonderful Marvin Gaye is. He wasn't. He was trash, that's really the only word for him and I say that as a friend of Anna Gordy. I don't defend him. I don't defend him having an affair with his 16 year-old niece while married to Anna (who would go on to adopt the child). A 27-year-old married man sleeping with his 16-year-old niece? That's the kind of man Marvin was. An artist? At stealing credit for song writing when others did the actual writing.
I'm not a f**king idiot so don't mistake for Carly Simon. I know Carly, we're sort of friends -- she hates my opinion of Mia Farrow. And she's a dumb and stupid bitch for going around giggling about being assaulted by Marvin Gaye. She giggles about it and looks like an airhead. But the fact that he rammed his tongue down her mouth is 'cute' and let's her pretend she's sexy which, let's face it, has been the most important part of her career as evidenced by those album covers and the need to pose nude in so many of the sessions for them -- not just BOYS IN THE TREES although it may hold a record as being the only songbook ever published to feature topless photos of the female artist. Yes, Carly, you were a sexy thing. But you need to grasp that this was not two artists meeting. You were a nobody to Marvin and he did that with every low level woman, it was a power play and it was assault. Many women were humiliated by the action that you want to giggle over. Shame on you. He did that over and over and he also abused women who slept with him, to be in a relationship with Marvin was to be beaten. So I'm really not into all the nonsense of 'Hail Marvin" that's cropped up recently despite the supposed #MeToo 'movement.' He assaulted women, he harassed them on the job -- Carly, for example, was part of the technical staff of a TV show when Marvin was introduced to her and immediately grabbed her and stuck his tongue down her throat. Carly, you're being a dumb bitch. You think it's a funny and cute story but it wasn't then and it isn't now. Women are fighting for their rights and we don't need you giggling over being assaulted. It's times like these that I'm glad Chrissie Hynde chocked you at the Joni Mitchell concert.
Aretha, who I also knew very well, was saluting Diana and stated to me that she was saluting Diana with two songs. She laughed and said she didn't even do one song saluting Dionne Warwick (Aretha loathed Dionne), Aretha had long performed "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" in concert and it was the Diana Ross version* every time. If you need proof, check out ARETHA FRANKLIN (LIVE IN PARIS, track nine. Aretha did a great thing with her final studio album, she saluted other great female singers but read the reviews from the idiots and note how they repeatedly brought a man -- Marvin Gaye -- into the reviews because heaven forbid that women ever get the focus, heaven forbid.
*Diana Ross version? The song was written by Ashford & Simpson. They did not produce that gooey mess that was released by Marvin and Tammi. That turned the song into candy -- but not popular candy. Had Dusty Springfield recorded it first, it might have had some lasting value. Ashford & Simpson got to produce the song when they worked with Diana on her solo debut album (1970's DIANA ROSS). They did a radical reworking, ditching the goo for artistry. They slow the tempo of the song, they turn verses that had been sung on the original into spoken lines and they add that great chorus behind Diana. It remains one of the great number ones of the 1970s. And the attempt to set it aside is an attempt to erase the artistry of Ashford & Simpson. The Diana Ross version should be properly credited as The Ashford and Simpson and Diana Ross version -- in that order. The song was such a huge step away from the original that it actually bothered a number of people in real time including Berry Gordy who thought it was too long to be a single and didn't really get it. And he'll tell you that himself.
Don't you love my asides. (Note this snapshot would have gone up sooner but the person I dictated it to said he was holding it for 30 minutes in case I changed my mind about calling Carly out. If you're reading this, I didn't change my mind.)
Winding down, Brookings has an upcoming event:
As President Joe Biden completes the first 100 days of his presidency, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi nears his one-year anniversary in office. Iraq and the United States held their first strategic dialogue under the Biden administration in early April, discussing bilateral security cooperation, economic development in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and protection of democracy and freedom of speech, among other topics. These two new administrations will now have to set the course for the future of Iraqi-U.S. relations.
On May 10, the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings will host Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Joey Hood for keynote remarks on Iraqi-U.S. relations. A panel discussion will follow.
Viewers can submit questions by emailing email@example.com or by joining the conversation on Twitter with #USIraq.
The following sites updated: