Mark Harmon is on the cover of TV Guide, illustrating their story on the "turmoil" behind-the-scenes on NCIS. The article is tepid, out-of-date and hopelessly vague…and laughable to anybody in the TV business. It just goes to show completely out-of-touch and irrelevant the reporting on the entertainment industry is in the mainstream media and even in the trade publications like Daily Variety and the Hollywood Reporter. Most of entertainment industry reporting, and I used the term "reporting" lightly, is driven by press releases. There is no actual reporting going on any more…much less anything approaching "investigative" journalism. This week’s TV Guide story about NCIS is just the latest, obvious example. The fact is that the "turmoil" on NCIS is hardly anything new and has been common knowledge in the TV industry since the show’s first season. Just about every writer/producer but me, it seems, has been on – and quickly off – the show at one time or another. For the last few years, stories about the script woes and costly production problems on the show could be heard at just about any casual gathering of TV writer/producers. Did any of it creep into the press? Nope. And by the time the showdown between Harmon and series creator/showrunner Donald Belisario was reported by the press in a very watered-down form, it was old news and irrelevant to everybody in the TV business. The real story is why CBS allowed the ugly and expensive situation at NCIS to continue for as long as it did…but nobody is going to report that story. It would be too interesting and informative…and embarrassing for the studio and the network. There are several other shows that have had, or are presently experiencing, more turmoil than NCIS was…and we aren’t hearing about it in the press. And we probably won’t.
I’ve been slogging through the four months worth of issues of Daily Variety that accumulated while I was shooting FAST TRACK in Berlin and am shocked by how little useful information there is. I can get the same information – maybe even more – by just browsing the web each day. I am seriously considering dropping my Daily Variety subscription…and I’ve been a subscriber since I was nine years old.