This weekend’s TV reads in Weekly Variety

:: Stu Levine and Cynthia Littleton chronicle the rise of the celebrity showrunner:

These days television is delivering a new breed of star — the
celebrity showrunner — which is changing the way networks tubthump
their shows and deepening the way fans connect with shows.

In some
cases, such showrunners are becoming as well-known to fans as the
shows’ thesps. Think J. J. Abrams, Seth MacFarlane, Matthew Weiner, Joss
Whedon, Alan Ball, Ronald D. Moore, Shawn Ryan and Shonda Rhimes.
Up-and-comers in this realm include “Glee’s” Ryan Murphy; Kurt Sutter,
leader of “Sons of Anarchy”; Jason Katims, steward of “Parenthood” and
“Friday Night Lights”; Bryan Fuller, of the now-departed “Pushing
Daisies”; and “Modern Family” co-creator Steve Levitan.

:: Michael Schneider on what promises to be a very different midseason 2011:

As they eyeball the 2010-2011 TV season, network execs are already
looking at next midseason in a different light.

Two of the winter
months’ top broadcast tentpoles — “Lost” and “24” — won’t be
making their usual splashy January launches next year. And a third,
“American Idol,” will no longer have its top asset, cranky judge Simon

According to webheads, the lack of these three staples
presents some challenges, but also opportunity.

:: Stu Levine also looks at cable’s crop of young female-targeted fare:

Screaming matches over boyfriends. Bitchy mothers. Tables turned over in
restaurants. As it turns out, femme dysfunction is pure gold.

In the
last few months, Oxygen (whose fourth season of “The Bad Girls Club” was
its highest-rated to date) and E! (where “Keeping Up With the
Kardashians” achieved highs in its fourth season as well) have seen
significant spikes among women under 35 that enabled them to shoot up
the first-quarter cable rankings.

:: Brian Lowry notes that the Tea Party’s “I want my country back” chants sound a lot like the anti-TV culture warriors:

“I want my country back,” has become a frequent rallying cry among Tea
Party protesters — the anti-government, anti-taxation political
movement that has emerged in the U.S.

Their rhetoric and complaints,
however, sound strangely familiar, mirroring increasingly futile
attempts to arrest changes and recapture simpler times in television —
an ongoing Tea Party on the tube.

Those stories and more in the April 4, 2010 edition of Weekly Variety.

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