Guessing the cover: EW Fall TV Preview 2009

Entertainment Weekly is the only magazine that I still buy with some semi-regular basis, mostly because it’s the only import general entertainment magazine we can get here in Brazil. They used to take 2-3 weeks to arrive, but lately they’ve been arriving with only a week gap from the US release of each issue.

From Wikipedia:

Entertainment Weekly (sometimes abbreviated as EW) is an American magazine, published by the Time division of Time Warner, that covers film, television, music, Broadway theatre, books and popular culture. Unlike celebrity-focused publications US Weekly, People, and In Touch Weekly, EW’s primary concentration is on entertainment media and critical reviews. Unlike Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, which are aimed at industry insiders, EW targets a more-general audience.

The magazine exists since 1990, which is about 10 years before I ever bought my first issue. I think the 1st issue I ever bought of the magazin was back in the year 2000, which featured Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis on the cover,  for the promotion of M. Night Shyamalan’s second movie, Unbreakable.

In midst of this EW stopped offering international subscription (a friend of mine tells me she used to get a subscription to the magazine here in Brazil) and there was a failed attempt to force people to buy the magazine so they can access the online content in the website. Glad that changed. EW is possibly one of the first in print magazines that learned really fast how to deal with online media, and the spread of Social Media.

Since then, probably from 2005 on, I’ve been steadily buying certain thematic issues, besides the one of the other cover story that might interest me.  The thematic issues, are always the seasonal previews for movies and tv. Some sort of a weird trend following I started in the last couple of years is trying to guess what will be featured in the cover, mostly for the Summer Movie, Fall Movie and Fall TV preview issues.

As I tweeted yesterday, I was finally able to grab myself of a copy of the latest Fall Movie preview issue, which once again, like tenth time already this year, is a Twilight themed cover. As it seems it really sells magazines. Wouldn’t mind it if happened only once in a while, but it’s getting too much (bet there will be another cover, around the time of the movie release in November). Complaints aside, the next EW issue I’m looking forward to is the Fall TV preview issue, and it’s been fun trying to guess what will be the show featured on the cover.

I have a few guesses that I’ll list further on, but then I decided to check the history of the Fall TV Preview issues. At first it was supposed to be a look back of 10 years, but then it built up to the whole publishing history of the magazine.  So I’ll be doing both in this post. The interesting part is there a few curious trends in the shows chosen for the cover. Then follow me through almost 20 years, then for my guesses for 2009:

1990: Fall TV Preview Cover: Twin Peaks (ABC),,ewTax:31,00.html

1991:Fall TV Preview Cover: Married… with Children (FOX),,ewTax:83,00.html

1992: Fall TV PReview Cover: Seinfeld (NBC),,ewTax:135,00.html

1993: Fall TV Preview Cover: Melrose Place (FOX),,ewTax:188,00.html

1994: Fall TV Preview Cover: Melrose Place (FOX),,ewTax:240,00.html

1995: Fall TV Preview Cover: Friends (NBC),,ewTax:292,00.html

1996: Fall TV Preview Cover: Suddenly Susan (NBC),,ewTax:345,00.html

1997 – Fall TV Preview Cover: Veronica’s Closet (NBC),,ewTax:396,00.html

1998 – Fall TV Preview Cover: Dawson’s Creek (WB),,ewTax:449,00.html

1999 – Fall TV Preview Cover: Time of Your Life (FOX),,ewTax:502,00.html

2000 – Fall TV Preview Cover: Titans (NBC),,ewTax:561,00.html

2001 – Fall TV Preview Cover: Buffy, the Vampire Slayer (UPN),,ewTax:612613,00.html

2002 – Fall TV Preview Cover: Alias (ABC),,ewTax:671672,00.html

2003 – Fall TV Preview Cover: Miss Match(NBC),,ewTax:727728,00.html

2004 – Fall TV Preview Cover: Joey (NBC),,ewTax:782783,00.html

2005 – Fall TV Preview Cover: Lost (ABC),,ewTax:838839,00.html

2006 – Fall TV Preview Cover: Greys Anatomy (ABC),,ewTax:895896,00.html (For some reason this issue does not appear in the EW website, but this should be the link if they fix it. Will update the cover if I find a larger size.)

2007 – Fall TV Preview Cover: Private Practice (ABC),,ewTax:953954,00.html

2008 – Fall TV Preview Cover: Gossip Girl (The CW),,ewTax:1010,00.html (It was actually a issue with 3 variant covers, each featuring a different couple from that young cast – The one above features Penn Badgley and Blake Lively. The other two featured Ed Westwick and Leighton Meester in one, and Chase Crawford and Jessica Szohr in the another one.)

A few interesting data:

– Yes, Melrose Place (original mint) was featured two years in a row (1993-1994), yet the the series that originated it, which I assumed were also a massive success Beverly Hills 90210, was never featured in the Fall TV Preview covers.

– It rarely features new shows, but did happen in a few occasions: Veronica’s Closet (1997), Titans (2000), Miss Match (2003) – All from NBC, but Titans is possibly the most weird cover feature of the bunch.  Veronica’s Closet and Miss Match were quite understandable as featured former movie starlets Kirstie Alley and Alicia Silverstones in heading shows on tv.

– For some reason they really liked to feature spin off debuts (and I’m not counting the multiple outing of Melrose Place mentioned above, which were returning seasons): Time of Your Life (1999), Joey (2004) and Private Practice (2007). Duly noted is that both Friends and Grey’s Anatomy have been featured before, but just like in Melrose Place’s case, Party of Five was never featured.

– From the new millenium on (2001 – ), the preview issue started to be billed as double issues, starting with nothing less than Buffy.

– The covers usually featured only 1 actor per show, even if it’s an essemble show, some exceptions were:  Kyle Mclachlan and Sherilyn Fenn Madchen Amick (Twin Peaks – 1990), James Van Der Beak, Katie Holmes, Joshua Jackson and Michelle Williams (Dawson’s Creek – 1998),  Matt LeBalnc and Drea De Matteo (Joey – 2004) and the variant Gossip Girls covers from 2008.

– ABC despite being the first network with a show featured, wouldn’t reappear until mid 2000s, thanks for the efforts of a certain mr.  JJ Abrams (Alias and Lost) and a ms. Shonda Rhymes (Greys Anatomy and Private Practice).

– Fox (3)  and NBC (5) basically dominated the 90s. ABC (4)  has been dominating the 2000’s so far. And Fox has yet to appear in this millenium at all.

– The WB and UPN networks were only founded in 1995, and their merge in form of The CW was realized in 2006, and have been featured in the cover once each. Although UPN was mostly a technicality, from all the Buffy network struggles from 2001, as it was not an really original new programming from them, rather a transfer from The WB. Yet, CBS one of major networks was never featured in the fall tv preview covers.

– Here’s the Network Tally:

A total of 19 covers so far

ABC: 5 (Twin Peaks, Alias, Lost, Greys Anatomy and Private Practice)

CBS: 0 – a big zero.

FOX: 4 (Married with Children, Melrose Place [2x] and Time of Your Life)

NBC: 7 (Seinfeld, Friends, Suddenly Susan, Veronica’s Closet, Titans, Miss Match and Joey)

WB: 1 (Dawson’s Creek)

UPN: 1 (Buffy, the Vampire Slayer)

The CW: 1 (Gossip Girl)


Now it’s  the fun part of guessing. Last year I guessed that they’d be featuring 90210 on the cover, as it was bringing back some of the old cast and I was just slightly off mark. Instead they had a feature story about the return of Jennie Garth and Shannen Doherty the week before the Fall TV Preview issue.

I’ll list my possible 5 guesses for the cover below, with pros and cons. Won’t add odds, because I suck at that assessment.

1) How I Met Your Mother – CBS

Pros: It be finally a first for CBS, after almost 20 years. A name: Neil Patrick Harris, who hosted this year’s Tony Awards, is hosting the Emmys, and have just been confirmed as a guest judge for the Audition round at the next cycle of American Idol and we should never forget about Dr. Horrible Sing-Along Blog. And the show finally received its first Emmy nod this year.

Cons: Higher rated and more buzzed shows from the network filled with procedurals were never featured. Either the CSI franchise or even high rated comedies: Two and a Half Men or very much buzzed The Big Bang Theory. Comedies are less featured than dramas: Only 6 times out of 20 covers (Married with Children, Seinfeld, Friends, Suddenly Susan, Veronica’s Closet and Joey).

2) Melrose Place – THE CW

Pros: Simple, the magazine already did feature it twice in a row before, and might want to give notice of the new and refreshed version. Returning cast members from the original show.

Cons: It be the second CW feature cover in a row. They rarely feature a show debuting in the season.Also in the returning cast part, they could do the same as they did with 90210 and do separate cover feature. Also they’re starting early, I don’t expect to see the issue released until at least next week.

3) Cougar Town – ABC

Pros: Courtney Cox back on network tv and they did feature her in the Friends cover. Aparentelly the EW of the 2000s love ABC (4 out of 9 covers).

Cons: New show and not exactly that much buzz about it. And considering that last year they featured Gossip Girl and having publshing Twilight covers every three weeks or so, we might assume they’re targetting a younger audience, not really the Cougars.

4) Glee – Fox

Pros: Lots of Buzz, and it’s not starting from zero, as the premiere was shown back in may.  Fox has yet to be featured in a cover in the 2000’s, and they were much loved back in the 90s.

Cons: Not exactly a well-known or headliner stars for now, and if you consider its essemble nature, the fall tv covers rarely feature more than two people (Dawon’s Creek’s being an exception).

5) Medium – CBS

Pros: Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, was also featured on the cover, when it switched to another network, and the network reasons I pointed with How I Met Your Mother, plus is an hour-long drama.

Cons: Not that much buzz. Supernatural and Smallvile have more following than Medium.

I do think that the guesses #1 and #2 are the most likely, but guess we’ll only know when the cover is revealed.

ETA: Whedonverse

And, if by any chance some EW guy (could be an intern) stumbled to my humble post.

After all these guesses what I’d really want to see is something in line with the following mock-up which was linked at Whedonesque last week. That’s a cover I want to see on the magazine.

But hey if my first guess is correct, and Neil Patrick Harris is featured, definitely a first step improvament.

Won’t be Binging anytime soon.

I just read the brief but interesting Mashable article on “Microsoft’s Plan to Win the Search War“.

Made me think about how there’s a a general sense of geeks setting the new trends, but at the same time there’s a generalization of geeks. At least in the circles I run with the separation is not as clear, and it does make a hell lot of difference, especially for brands.  Won’t be addressing anything directly from the points given in the post, will however reflect on a few things that the post made m,e think about.

What lead me to this? The article made me think about how likely I’d be switching to Bing as my default search engine, and that’s very unlikely. (Hey, Microsoft, at least you made me talk about it, that must be for something, right?)

I think there are at least two very major types of geeks that must be considered, especially for brands. As usual the classifications below will go into some stereotypical simplification, but try to get the essense of what I’m pointing at.

– There is the Pioneer, this is the person who always on the edge of things. These are the people, that before Ashton Kutcher and Oprah made Twitter the new cool thing, even before it was widespread among their peers were already using it back in 2006. For them it is already old news, such old news, that they might already have given up on it, and are testing or trying out something else. Generally when something becomes cool for the general public, it’s already uncool among them like 10 minutes ago. They are the main characters in the eternal struggle of the “Early Adopters Vs. the New Users”. What this means for brands? Forget brand loyalty, they’re the ones who ‘ll move on for the next best thing without hesitation, and they won’t stick with the “new thing” because it’s the newest thing, but it has to be a good new thing. Does this help Bing? I don’t know, but microsoft move of making it friendly for third party apps, will definitely help.

– Then there is the Fan, this is the person who already has the latest Iphone, but you’ll probably see him/she in line when Apple releases the next iteration. Yes, as a fan you might also find this person in fan gatherings, such as Harry Potter fans, Lost fans, or in my case Joss Whedon fans. Those fans can be overlapping or have no relation at all. They’re not necessaily the people on the edge of things like the Pioneers, but they’re always ready to get into the newest creation from their favorite series or creator. They’ll fight for the things they’re fan of: you know the eternal struggle between Star Wars and Star Trek fans, and there are people who are fan of boths. What this means for brands? Brand loyalty all the way. You’ll have a really hard time to convince this geek to change, if it means a big change to another brand. Unless their favorite brand screw ups really big, you won’t seem this person changing. This person might even try out the new stuff from another brand, but if it’s mostly the same as the one they can get from their favorite brand, they’ll just shift back without any regrets.

What type I am? I’m a fan. Not just because I might be the first line of defense for anything Joss Whedon, for that we can discuss it in the Whedonesque threads.

As I reflected on other things that I use or have or consume,  I can easily conclude that I am a very brand loyal person. Brands matter to me. A google brand with a new product does reflect as endorsement in my opinion. I’ve only been wearing Timberland boots for over ten years, and plan to buy another one in a few months time. Been using the same brands of toothpaste for years. Bought Listerine’s PocketMist for the first time in 2007, because that brand means something for me. Not that I won’t try anything new, but while choosing similar things, I tend to side with the one I trust the most.

At the same time that I still consider Guaraná Antartica the bestof it’s kind in the market and will not order any other brand unless it’s unavailable, but currently I’m really digging Kuat Eko, which is a spin off from Coca Cola Guaraná drinks, which combines guaraná extract with green tea. I will drink Kuat Eko whenever I can, but for the normal type of guarana soft drink, I will still go for Guaraná Anatartica.

Note for the reader: Guaraná- Brazilian soft drink produced from the extract of the namesake fruit. Sales are close or even surpasses of the Cola softdrinks. Wikipedia entry can be found here.

As Ben puts it well in his analysis, Microsoft has a long road ahead. I know the final goal is to claim who is the leader in the field, but just like my thoughts onto the Twitter Vs. Facebook subject, I hope they can co-exist, as they find a proper role for each. I still prefer Twitter over Facebook, but that just reflects on how I use and explore the tools, not in the sense of which one is better. Maybe that could be a solution fo Bing, make it different from Google, not just another search engine, but something that can do some of the same things, but at the same time is somewhat different. Maybe then, I’ll try Binging something.