Friday, July 06, 2012
First You Say You Will, Then You Say You Won't
HBO was said to be picking up an option on an unflattering biography of Roger Ailes, the man who put Fox News on the map. Gabriel Sherman already made his name as an Ailes nemesis with "The Elephant In The Green Room". HBO's special was said to be based on a biography that Mr. Sherman was writing, to be published by Random House (not owned by Rupert Murdoch. Yet).
Then words trickled out about the project, about who was producing, about their current employer being MSNBC. And then HBO said they wouldn't be making that HBO special about Mr. Ailes after all.
It didn't help HBO that they're affiliated with CNN, which is losing badly in the 24-hour news ratings.
Critics would be quick to dismiss the Ailes event as highly partisan and largely fictitious, a product of jealousy and liberal bias from producers Joe Scarborough and Mike Brzezinski. Critics on Fox News, which has the largest audience, would certainly make a great deal of who was behind the program, and that wouldn't do much to bring in an audience.
Who would want to sign up for HBO with their cable provider, just to get a show that's been lambasted and mocked? Given the current state of the economy, HBO wouldn't much want the more conservative customers cancelling their subscriptions, either.
According to reports from those who were trying to put the deal together with HBO, the cable movie channel was doing its best to keep things quiet. Then they could spring this program on the public at just the right time in the election cycle, and make people think that Fox News isn't all that so turn your dial to MSNBC or CNN.
Some have suggested that HBO pulled the plug without first telling the MSNBC-affiliated producers who thought they had a brilliant plan to undermine their chief competitor.
It's all about the money, and HBO would have carried on if they could have scored a ratings winner and turned a nice profit.
Think Boardwalk Empire, but news instead of booze.
Instead, the Ailes bash started looking like a potential fiasco that would have lost money, a bad deal, and that's the end of it.
Given that MSNBC is on a tighter budget than HBO, it's not likely that they'd produce the biopic.
Maybe someone at Cinemax would take it on? If the writers can put in a little more skin, maybe? How about Showtime, anyone there up for a movie treatment that's already gotten some negative publicity?