July 11, 2007
STUNT PROGRAMMING ISN'T BRANDING:
Hoping for a masterstroke: As audience dwindles, PBS readies a makeover for venerable series (Joanna Weiss, July 11, 2007, Boston Globe)
It could be argued that the heroines of Jane Austen's novels are the precursors to "Desperate Housewives" -- or even the ladies of "Sex and the City." So if anyone can convince TV viewers that PBS's "Masterpiece Theatre" is relevant and modern, it might be a British woman who has been dead for nearly two centuries.
Of course, a new, living host could help, too.
Both will be enlisted as "Masterpiece Theatre," the iconic series produced by WGBH, prepares for an unprecedented makeover. At a conference for TV critics in Beverly Hills today , producers will outline a four-month Austen festival to launch the new season in January, including dramatizations (old and new) of all six Austen novels and a new biopic, "Miss Austen Regrets."
The Austen push is part of a much larger effort to rebrand the series as a whole, drawing in viewers who left long ago for flashier TV fare. Producers have a sense that with this new image, the future of the series is at stake. But with no major changes planned in the direction of programming, critics are already questioning whether new window dressing will make "Masterpiece," or PBS, feel relevant today.
Okay, so one night a week for a few weeks a year they'll return to cl;assy programming--how will that change the fact that they've reduced their brand to reunion concerts and self-help gurus for yuppies?
Posted by Orrin Judd at July 11, 2007 9:58 AM