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February 8, 2011 6:22 PM   Subscribe

Current TV has been pretty low on the media radar since it's founding by a forward-thinking former Vice President. As a network based around documentary-style journalism and viewer-generated content, Current has struggled to find both an audience and a solid direction, with it's largest headlines generated by a run-in with North Korea. This may change with the announcement that former MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann (previously) has been hired as Chief News Officer and host of a new prime-time news program.
posted by billypilgrim (36 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I have no comment on any of this.
posted by CNNInternational at 6:28 PM on February 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's founding what?
posted by saturday_morning at 6:29 PM on February 8, 2011


I have new pranks to plan for al gore (legal)
posted by clavdivs at 6:30 PM on February 8, 2011


The line-up

7:30/6:30c
'World's Biggest Gangs'

9:00/8:00c
'Kill It, Cook It, Eat It'
Nuggets

10:00/9:00c
'Kill It, Cook It, Eat It'
Offal Feast

11:00/10:00c
'Cooking in the Danger Zone'
Venezuela


MY GOD IT"S FULL OF DANGEROUS FOOD PREPARATION!
posted by clavdivs at 6:37 PM on February 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I liked Current better before Al Gore bought it, when it was still News World International and it just showed Engligh-langauage news programs from various countries around the world. Not that I don't appreciate what Current TV has been trying to do with its "Hey Kids! It's the News! We're hip to all your Web 2.0 stuff!" approach at times. Now it's going to become an MSNBC clone.
posted by KingEdRa at 6:38 PM on February 8, 2011


I really miss Current's original format. 2-5 minute "pods" which were basically youtube videos, but with actual production values, and usually with either a culture spotlight, social commentary or a documentary slant. It was great to turn on when you had 10-15 minutes to kill, and catch new, interesting things every time. All the videos were also available on the channel's website as well, which made sharing and talking about the stuff you saw very easy. This is all it was, twenty four hours a day*.

Vanguard, a documentary journalism series, came along and that was ALSO pretty great.

Unfortunately, as time went by, they stopped getting new pods, for some reason; every time I turned the channel on there was a better-than-even chance I'd be seeing a repeat.

Then the stuff with Ling happened. A really fantastic Vanguard piece on animal cruelty in China got scrubbed from the site, all records removed, as well as a doc piece on industrial waste recycling, also in China. Neither were flattering of the Chinese government, so while I can understand why it was removed, it's still unfortunate, especially as last I checked those videos hadn't been restored.

Between that and an apparent disinterest in or inability to get new amateur/viewer videos to run, they started slowly turning to blocks of related videos; again, all old, or near to it. There'd be a "surfing" block or an "African block" or whathaveyou. Then weekly shows popped up: Max & Jason, Infomania, then Rotten Tomatoes.

And, as EVERY niche/hook channel seems to have done, they decided to start doing the reality TV shows to fill out the programming blocks.

I miss you Current TV. You were damned interesting once upon a time.

*I can't remember if they had informercials in the early hours, but I don't think so.
posted by curious nu at 7:01 PM on February 8, 2011 [11 favorites]


I liked the old Current show Vanguard. My current cable system doesn't have it and its twitter feed retweeted the PR group's statement that they're not adding it any time soon. Then again, I'm considering ditching cable TV altogether. I'd love to get Al Jazeera English, BBC World Service or even CNN International but there's no room for stuff like that when there's Sarah Palin's Alaska, shows about pawn shops and repo men.

Good night and good luck with your new venture though, Mr. Olbermann.
posted by birdherder at 7:11 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, hopefully it won't suck. Because right now I was under the impression that current kind of sucked.
posted by delmoi at 7:18 PM on February 8, 2011


I do not feel that any discussion of Current is complete without this Viral Video Film School segment about bears.
posted by NoraReed at 7:19 PM on February 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


The format it had when it was founded was pretty fascinating, but the submitted-content concept definitely seemed like a sink or swim idea. I'd watched it off and on for the first year or so but tuned out almost completely until this announcement, so at the very least they have my attention again. Hopefully they can recapture their initial innovative spirit with Olbermann on board and not just become MSNBC's pointy-headed cousin.
posted by billypilgrim at 7:22 PM on February 8, 2011


Show of hands. Does anyone actually like Olberman's dramatic, editorializing style?

I feel like if I want to watch a TV editorial, Maddow does it better (I swing to the left, so I guess that rules out the Fox hosts, although I find them quite obnoxious even separated from their message). And for real news, I prefer a more clinical approach, like PBS or BBC, rather than the American "moderate" "Let's give both extremes equal airtime, giving the impression they're both equally valid" or Fox News' strategy of spinning the news to fit a narrative, which I think MSNBC might try to do sometimes, but not nearly as well.

Also, I really liked Target Women.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:22 PM on February 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Al Gore! First he invented global warming, then he invented the internet, and now he and fellow traveler Keith Olbermann are going to invent tv!

Sorry--I was listening to talk radio on the way over.
posted by box at 7:26 PM on February 8, 2011


I dismiss this development because Al Gore is fat. And he had an affair.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:26 PM on February 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Man, they killed infoMania. First, Sarah Haskins left. Then they got rid of the funny (and last movie review show standing, until Ebert's project came out) Rotten Tomatoes Show and tried to fold it into infoMania. Then they tried infoMania with a studio audience. Then Conor left, they added a desk and a bunch of Ikea Furniture. And it is just horrible now.
posted by ALongDecember at 7:36 PM on February 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I came in here to snark about Olbermann disappearing forever on a shitty channel. I thought he must be different than beloved Conan O'Brian because Conan went to a network with quality programing, which I then verified on wiki:

According to Jim (2009–present)
American Dad! (2010–present)[1]
Everybody Loves Raymond (2004–present)
Family Guy (2003–present)
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1996–2003, 2007–present)
Friends (2001–present)
The King of Queens (2006–present)
Married... with Children (2008–present)
My Name Is Earl (2008–present)
The Office (2007–present)
Saved by the Bell (1992–present)
Saved by the Bell: The College Years (1994–present)
Seinfeld (2002–present)
The Steve Harvey Show (2003–present)
Conan (2010–present)
Glory Daze (2010–present)
Lopez Tonight (2009–present)
Neighbors from Hell (2010–present)
Tyler Perry's House of Payne (2007–present)
Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns (2009–present)

Good god I was wrong. That is a lot of shitty programming (with exceptions of course). If Conan can have a good career on TBS, then Olbermann may not be whisked off to his deserved obscurity quite like I had hoped.
posted by munchingzombie at 7:46 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I still likes me Current TV, yeah it's changed from it's old web-like presentation, but this is generally a feature for me, although I often wonder if the bar for submissions has been raised too high. It does seem a little less public-accessy these days.

This is interesting this thing with Olbermann, whom I like a great deal. Good lord, I would like to see an intelligent community driven cable news network as a counterpoint to Fox.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:25 PM on February 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I just miss Target Women. And I'm not even a woman.
posted by Zephyrial at 8:45 PM on February 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


This is cool for current and for Keith. Props to all. My special wish is that Jesse Thorn and olbermann start palling around in the current studio and end up running for president together.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:56 PM on February 8, 2011


Current, for better or worse, has lately become like every other lower-tier cable network -- on purpose. They weren't making any money with their naive but kinda brave user-generated content plan -- it was devised while Web 1.0 hadn't yet jelled, and it just didn't work: TV and the internet are still two different things. So now, they've gone and hired generic mid-level executives from the cable TV merry-go-round and acquired programming from other networks' back catalogue, in the hopes of becoming another Vh1/BET/MTV/Lifetime/E!/Style/G4/Whatever.

The un-funnying of Infomania, a show that had a ton of potential to give the Daily Show a run for its money, is a shame.* But mediocrity is a survival strategy in cable, where small but consistent numbers will get you your Olive Garden and Pantene ads. By adding Olbermann, they boost the overall numbers, plus the lead-ins and -outs. A brilliant strategy, even though it just means more boring TV.

(* It wasn't that funny with Conor, btw, and Brett is a star. But bad writing will kill you every time. Also: Ben Hoffman = funny, even when he's neutered.)
posted by turducken at 9:07 PM on February 8, 2011


I love Vanguard, but I really miss the old Current format.
posted by legion at 9:21 PM on February 8, 2011


it's founding by a forward-thinking former Vice President.

Who is not Dan Quayle.
posted by three blind mice at 10:41 PM on February 8, 2011


This convo is so full of wrong information that it makes me sad to be a MeFite.
posted by JLovebomb at 10:45 PM on February 8, 2011


Corrections are welcome...
posted by rouftop at 3:57 AM on February 9, 2011


Yeah, I'm guessing Olberman thinks he can do for Current what Conan did for TBS. But TBS was at least on everyone's cable already. I was kind of hoping that he would do something for the web. An online video news program specifically in that format could be pretty cool. For example, you could break things up into clips that could be easily shared.
posted by delmoi at 4:42 AM on February 9, 2011


This convo is so full of wrong information that it makes me sad to be a MeFite.

Care to elaborate?
posted by billypilgrim at 4:59 AM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do they have any shows about midgets? Or cakes? I like cakes.
posted by rocket88 at 6:50 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


If they gave Olberman somebody to debate, that'd be pretty cool. Ideally, an old-school conservative (like Christopher Buckley, although he endorsed Obama so the Tea Party aren't entirely sure they like him any more), or maybe a libertarian (Not a Tea Partier, but somebody who legitimately believes in personal freedoms, IE less government spying on the people, ease restrictions guns and drugs). I just feel like a legitimate, modern-conservative Tea Partier would be so far out of bounds on the facts and reality that the debates just wouldn't work. If you refuse to believe the bailouts were paid back with interest, or that Reagan committed atrocities in South America, or that Obama is a muslim despite all evidence otherwise, how can you expect to carry out a debate? It'd just turn into absurdism at worst, and a shouting match at best.

I generally agree with Olberman on most issues and generally don't believe in libertarianism or conservatism (I mean, sure legalize the drugs and a good amount of the guns, and quit the Patriot Act, but keep the safety nets around), but just hearing one side of the story without another viewpoint's reasoning strikes me as a bit close-minded.

I'm just thinking that this is an opportunity for Current to do something more than just giving an opinionated person a soapbox like we get in all other cable news channels. Rather than reinforcing people's political beliefs, can't we strive to make them think for themselves?

And unlike Crossfire, this show would have a decent amount of moderation, either onscreen (more accountable but less watchable) or behind-the-scenes (more entertaining). Best would probably be broadcasting the version minus visible moderation, and then showing it unedited with moderation online. Ideally, they'd also have some intern furiously Googling facts to keep it accurate, because it just ruins the debate if people are allowed to make up facts as they go.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:57 AM on February 9, 2011


PUT YOUR HEAD IN MY MOUTH

Another nail in the coffin for Infomania was when they stopped streaming full episodes online. Dear Current Head Honchos: Your network isn't available everywhere. Put your shit on the web and jam pack it with commercials. I will then watch it, and you'll get views and revenues from me you otherwise cannot get. I will not click on 7 segments and watch them when they fail to give me the full content of the episode. I would think that Current, more than most, would understand this.

Though, by the sound of it, I'm not missing much anymore.
posted by SpiffyRob at 6:58 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd have to spend more for a premium tier in order to get Current. Guess I'll live without Olbemann.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:33 AM on February 9, 2011


Man, they killed infoMania. First, Sarah Haskins left. Then they got rid of the funny (and last movie review show standing, until Ebert's project came out) Rotten Tomatoes Show and tried to fold it into infoMania. Then they tried infoMania with a studio audience. Then Conor left, they added a desk and a bunch of Ikea Furniture. And it is just horrible now.

This ENTIRELY (only I'll add in that I hate Sergio's "Interventions" - the White Hot Top 5 were better). For a long time Current was our number one channel, we had it on constantly. It was a fantastic blend of funny smart snark, and serious world concerns. And then they started all of the changes mentioned above, and we felt that as early viewers, we'd been alienated. I admit, I'm not a fan of change, but once Sarah left, it just went downhill. And they're completely wasting Ellen Fox now that they canned Rotten Tomatoes. And that breaks my heart, because I truly think they had the capablity to be one of the smartest and funniest channels around.
posted by librarianamy at 7:47 AM on February 9, 2011


Does anyone actually like Olberman's dramatic, editorializing style?

Yes, I do, but it isn't suited to "straight" news. Off and on, I've watched Olbermann since his Sports Center days and he's always been smart, funny, passionate and absolutely maddening because he won't subordinate his own talents to just telling the story. He's a great ham, but too much of a ham for conventional journalism. But it's kind of a shame that Stephen Colbert is Stephen Colbert, because some similar kind of role would be ideal for Olbermann.

Sadly, I don't get Current TV.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:57 AM on February 9, 2011


I hope someone will FPP when Sarah Haskins does something new.
posted by ersatz at 8:32 AM on February 9, 2011


KingEdRa wrote: "I liked Current better before Al Gore bought it, when it was still News World International and it just showed Engligh-langauage news programs from various countries around the world. Not that I don't appreciate what Current TV has been trying to do with its "Hey Kids! It's the News! We're hip to all your Web 2.0 stuff!" approach at times. Now it's going to become an MSNBC clone"

Yes, as much as I like the new "journalism" (it oftenusually isn't journalism, kids, but it's still nice to have), I liked NWI better. It was, after all, the only place on television I could get news from a wide range of global perspectives, aside from my local PBS station irregularly showing DWTV's English newscast. Oh, and the subtitled religious newscasts on some of the local church channels.

Maybe if Current could replicate Special Assignment, I'd have more interest in it.
posted by wierdo at 8:47 AM on February 9, 2011


I hope someone will FPP when Sarah Haskins does something new.

Not an FPP, but Haskins did this short film. Medium funny, and she was definitely the best thing about it.
posted by turducken at 10:21 AM on February 9, 2011


I'm still mad at Current for wiping out NWI, too. We got a much better perspective on the world from the Canadian news show that used to be on every night. (Note: I am not Canadian.)
posted by vickyverky at 11:25 AM on February 9, 2011


I hope someone will FPP when Sarah Haskins does something new.

She did get preggo and then made a baby! Such a womanly thing to do.
posted by Zephyrial at 8:04 PM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


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