Become a digitalPLUS subscriber. 99¢ for 4 weeks.
Z on TV
Critic David Zurawik writes about the business and culture of TV
The problem with Bill Cosby's new media strategy

I joined Howie Kurtz on "Media Buzz" Sunday to take a look at Team Crosby's new media strategy, which involves lawyers for the embattled comedian calling out CNN and others for what they say is bad journalism.

 Will it work?

 I say it will work almost as well as Cosby's previous strategy of lecturing reporters on how they should behanve and then having his publicist call their bosses and try to get stories about rapoe allegations killed.

 Check out the video from Media Buzz.


Read more
CBS delivers a winning telecast in Ravens' 25-13 loss to Texans

Watching the Ravens lose, 25-13, to the Houston Texans was brutal if you are a Baltimore fan. But blame the team, not CBS Sports, for the misery this time. The network delivered a first-rate telecast.

I admit wondering earlier in the season why CBS was going with two analysts on this crew in Steve Tasker and Steve Beuerlein joining play-by-play announcer Andrew Catalon in the booth. And maybe the fact is that they got better as the year wore on. But whatever the case, the trio was smooth, informed, engaged and energized pretty much from beginning to end Sunday.

And the direction was just as good, with quick, crisp replays on the field and focused crowd shots that captured the noise and enthusiasm in the stands.

The coordination between the folks in the production truck and the guys in the booth was as good as it gets in a regional telecast. It culminated in some outstanding close-up images late in the game of defensive lineman J.J. Watt’s bloody face between plays. He personally...

Read more
'The Affair,' the best TV dramas of the year and 'The Great American Novel'

I was never one of those critics who measured television against literature, theater, film or any of the other forms of entertainment and art that have traditionally been considered more serious or elevated.

In fact, for decades, I have been arguing about the importance of television in its own right as an enormous cultural force: the principal storyteller of American life, even in its silliest and most debased genres (like reality shows).

But as I joyously wallowed in the wealth of great TV drama this year, one thought kept flashing across the scoreboard of my brain: This is absolutely the stuff of the the Great American Novel that all those English department professors were talking about back in the late 1960s and early ’70s when I was studying literature.

The idea of the novel migrating to TV is not a new one. “The Wire,” to name one series, has been there and gone.

But I have never seen such complicated and profound aspects of American life so consistently, wisely and engagingly...

Read more
A brilliant byproduct of Sarah Koenig's storytelling in 'Serial'

Earlier today I wrote about my frustration and annoyance with the final episode of Sarah Koenig's "Serial." (Read that here.)

She promised journalism and instead ended the podcast series tap dancing like someone on methamphetamines - telling us first how she would feel about the young man convicted of the crime if she were a juror, then how she would feel about him as a "human being walking down the street next week" - whatever that might mean. But not as a journalist.

OK, fine. The series was still a triumph, as I said, in the way it made a moribund medium, the podcast, red hot - reminding us that great content is great content in any delivery platform or system.

For those who haven't been following, you should know that the weekly, non-fiction account of a Baltimore murder involving students at Woodlawn High School is the media hit of the fall. At the center of the series are Hae Min Lee, who went missing in 1999 and whose body was found a few weeks later in Leakin Park, and her...

Read more
In the end, 'Serial' leaves me frustrated, even annoyed

I love the energy and even excitement that Sarah Koenig pumped into the podcast genre and radio storytelling with "Serial," a 12-part series on a Baltimore murder from 1999.

But as I listened to the final segment today, I couldn't help but feel frustrated and even annoyed by the ending.

For those who haven't been following, the weekly, non-fiction account of a Baltimore murder involving students at Woodlawn High School is the media hit of the fall. At the center of "Serial" are Hae Min Lee, who went missing in 1999 and whose body was found a few weeks later in Leakin Park, and her former boyfriend Adnan Syed, who was convicted of murder, sentenced to life plus 30 years in prison.

Sarah Koenig, a former Sun reporter, is host and executive producer of the series, from the producers of public radio’s “This American Life.”

Down the home stretch of the 12th episode, which became available today, Koenig said the magic words I have been waiting to hear for weeks, "What do we know? Not, 'What...

Read more
Army-Navy TV ratings up 7 percent over last year

The TV ratings for Saturday's Army-Navy game in Baltimore were up 7 percent over last year, according to CBS, which televised the game.

CBS said it was the highest-rated Army-Navy game in 15 years.

Nationally, the game drew a rating of 4.5 and share of 10, compared with a rating of 4.2 and 9 share last year.

In the Baltimore market, the game drew a 9.5 rating and 20 share, according to CBS. 

Navy won the game by a score of 17-10.

Read more
Loading