The Rise and Fall (and Rise?) of Craig Kilborn

Not to slam on local TV station Fox 56, but the actions it took last year — actions perfectly within its right and power — are now keeping most of us in the Poconos from seeing the new Craig Kilborn talk show, The Kilborn File.

I’m just not whether to thank them or not.

The show is being broadcast on the Philly and NYC Fox stations — which formerly were available in Monroe and/or Carbon counties — but that’s it. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre affiliate Fox 56 hasn’t picked it up yet for its launch next week. It’s not alone — only six markets in the country have picked the show up.

if this was the snl sketch with spade as the receptionist, hey would definitely be getting a "and you are ..."

if this was the snl sketch with spade as the receptionist, hey would definitely be getting a "and you are ..."

No one would blame you if you’ve already forgotten about Kilborn— “Craiggers” if you’re nasty. The late-night talk show host gave up his Late Late Show gig on CBS six years ago, and his cameos in Old Schooland Benchwarmers is pretty much all he has to show for it. It’s a fascinating 20-year career roller coaster from pre-Internet underground craze with a rabid fan base to an arrogant, forgotten, failed star.

Like most men in their late teens and early 20s, Craiggers was a big part of my life back in the mid 90s. In college, my friends and I routinely stayed up for the 2:30 a.m. SportsCenter on ESPN because that’s the one he hosted. That, and because the Internet and constant ticker hadn’t been invented yet and we routinely had 20-timers running on West Coast games (neither here nor there). His This is SportsCenter commercialswere the reason why those things got so popular in the first place. “Just play the game, Plumber Boy!” was one of the most quoted lines I can remember of pick-up basketball when someone called a ticky-tack foul.

The news that Kilborn was leaving ESPN and starting some new talk show at a station I couldn’t even get at the time — some rinky-dink outfit called Comdy Central, pre-South Park — made my blood boil. Then my college cable company added Comedy Central, and any fears I had were gone after the first week of this new Daily Show thing-a-ma-bob he was hosting. I was a religious watcher of Daily Show, not just for Craiggers but for the whole thing. Lewis Black. Brian Unger. Beth Littleford. Stephen Colbert. Moment of Zen. Five Questions. The “joke’s on you” humor in the news pieces was the kind of laughs I always wanted to see on TV, and what I wanted to do as a profession. For a portion of time, I was convinced Daily show was the funniest show on TV — because it was.

Then Craiggers had go and p!ss it all away(a strongly suggested Onion link for Kilborn fans there). He dumped Daily Show, although luckily leaving in the able hands of Jon Stewart. I actually saw a taping of the Daily Show in NYC just a couple weeks after Stewart started. Problem was, my girlfriend at the time scored the tickets six months in advance thinking we were going to see Kilborn, one of my heroes. The one thing I remember from the taping was Stewart with his head down on the news desk as the stage manager started counting down from 10 to go on the air. At about three, Stewart lifted his head up for a second with a vacant look on his face and said, “I’m so stoned right now.” Then he went right into the taping without missing a beat. At that point, I knew Daily Show would be OK. More than 10 years later, yeah, it’s doing just fine, thanks.

the good news -- the daily show stayed funny

the good news -- the daily show stayed funny

Kilborn is another story. He took his act to CBS’s Late Late Show to replace Tom Snyder before the old host started leaking embalming fluid. From the second he got there, it felt stale. Remember how drastically stale Conan felt on The Tonight Show versus his former Late Night? Compared to the Kilborn differential from Daily Show to the Late Late Show, Conan on the Tonight Show was somewhere between “raucously fresh” and “consistently hysterical.”

Whether it was the requisite mainstream network dumb-down or just the complete lack of humor on his new writing staff, we’ll never know. Unless you knew Kilborn’s former work, you’ll never know what a complete creative disaster his stint on CBS was. He was approximately 5,839 percent less funny. It went far beyond disappointing — it was pitiful. I used to watch and feel terrible for him that his Daily Show writers were probably watching and laughing their butts off at how unfunny he was being exposed as. It’s too depressing to even think about what a pathetic sham Five Questions turned into.

So he left in 2004. Never said why, just left. He tried to pursue acting, and it was a joke. Now he’s back in the format that made him famous, even bringing back Five Questions. And nope, we don’t get to watch.

Whether that’s a good thing or not, we don’t know yet. Maybe the less witnesses Craiggers has to the final nail in his TV coffin, the better.

coming ... again

coming ... again

Late-arriving concert announcement — Furthur is coming to the Sherman Theater on July 5, and tickets go on sale tomorrow. It’s so last-minute and breaking, it’s not even up on the Sherman’s website yet (as of 10:30 am). So if you couldn’t get tickets to the Bob Weir-Phil Lesh led group at Penn’s Peak on Tuesday — it’s sold out — now you have a second chance to see them in the Poconos. I’m not going to bother you with my “all we get are jam bands in the Poconos” crybaby act this morning. You’ve heard it too many times.

The last time Tom Cruise had so much riding one one movie, it was called Taps. Knight and Day is supposed to be his ticket back to the big time, but it’s not looking very good. It got hammered by Toy Story 3 on its opening day — it only made about 30 percent of what TS3 made Wednesday — and was nearly caught by the Karate Kid. That apparently means Mission: Impossible 4 could be in jeopardy of having a severely reduced budget or being scrapped altogether. It’s already been moved from its Memorial Day 2011 release date, blinking in the potential wake of Hangover 2. Knight and Day going DOA is probably justice since its been changed so much since its original incarnation. It’s hard to see it beating out Grown Ups now at the box office this weekend.

And speaking of changing the original vision, Jonah Hex has learned the hard way what happens if you do that. Not that it would have been successful on the original incarnation — but at least it would have went down without changing the character around. Tons of lessons to be learned from Jonah Hex, not the least of which is to keep Megan Fox away from whatever movie you make. That’s becoming rule #1 of Hollywood.

This 80s revival thing just isn’t stopping, so get comfortable. The latest entrant into the Reliving Their Youth Sweepstakes is Major League, supposedly with all of the original cast members attached. I find it really, really hard to believe Rene Russo would touch this thing with a 50-foot-pole, but I’m guessing Wesley Snipes and Corbin Bernsen are thoroughly available. Unless Bernsen is going to be tied up with The Dentist III or something. As cheesy as this scene is, it still gives me chills. The only thing that’s come close to it in real life is Trevor Hoffman’s Hell’s Bells (San Diego version):

As much as I hate Pixar movies more than I would loathe a 24-hour American Idol marathon, you gotta give due — no one can make bank like that studio. It’s become a brand, whose name above the title of a movie guarantees a gazillion dollars. It used to be that actors guaranteed success, but that’s become a crapshoot (right Tom Cruise?). Hollywood will look for anything to make money, and Pixar’s unprecedented success means it will stay in business for a long, long time. 11-for-11 is crazy, just crazy. You might as well guarantee 12-for-12 right now when Cars 2 comes out next year.

still how i'd like to remember him. i just can't.

still how i'd like to remember him. i just can't.

Wow, it’s really been a year since Michael Jackson died? One thing is for sure — we’ve pretty much established the three stages of Internet celebrity grief, the distant cousin of the normal five stages of human grief mastered so perfectly by Lowell Mather. Every website and blogger follows these three stages when a celebrity dies, and Jackson’s death last year was the most telling example. Stage 1: Honoring him and putting him in his historical place. This lasts two days, max. Usually only one. Stage 2: Analysis. The initial shock has worn off, so now the snide comments start, and you’re allowed to delve seriously into the past. For Jackson, under the penalty of blogger death, you barely heard a peep about the child abuse stuff until this stage. For the first day or so, it was Thriller and nothing else. Stage 3: Boredom and forgetfulness. After about a week or so, it’s back to normal. The guy is gone, and something else is more interesting. Like in life, Jackson was the exception in death. He somehow managed to drag things out for two weeks before the memorial at Staples Center. And until this morning, I didn’t realize it was the year anniversary and haven’t thought about him for months. It’s too bad it’s so hard to remember him like this:

I probably could have written about 2,000 words on this new Mad Men poster, but resisted the urge. And when I say resisted, I mean my bosses tied my hands together and put me in Chinese finger cuffs to make sure I didn’t. You’re welcome.

This entry was posted in Movies, Music, Pop Culture, The Local Scene, TV and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form.