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Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 23 May 2017
Tuesday, 23 May 2017 20:15

Tim Allen's Hit Gets Canceled

 
In January, ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey told a Television Critics Association session in Hollywood that she wanted to retool ABC programming to include more shows for Trump-voting segments of the population: men, rural America and working-class families.
 
"If we're talking about diversity and inclusion, I want to make sure we're inclusive of everyone," she declared. "When you think about the name, we're the American Broadcasting Company."
 
We've seen this movie before. The commitment to wholesome values is perhaps the emptiest statement in Hollywood.
 
This month, she broke that campaign promise like a politician by canceling the Tim Allen sitcom "Last Man Standing," a show appealing directly to that Trump electorate. A Change.com petition protesting the move has nearly 300,000 signatures. Allen tweeted that he was "stunned and blindsided" by the bad news.
 
Why was Allen fired?
 
The show didn't have a ratings problem -- it averaged 6.4 million viewers this season, and that should be graded upward on a curve, since the show aired on Friday and the overall Friday audience is typically smaller than other weeknights. Dungey said the job of a programming executive was "managing failure," but this wasn't a failure. "It was a steady performer," she admitted. However, she added, "Once we made the decision not to continue with comedy on Friday, it was just kind of that's where we landed."
 
Instead, they're moving in the drama "Once Upon a Time," which averaged 3.2 million viewers this year, or half of Allen's number. In the second hour, ABC is eventually placing its show "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," which this season averaged 2.3 million viewers.
 
What about Saturday to Thursday? Apparently, there wasn't a slot on ABC prime time for Allen's show.
 
What constitutes a success at ABC? Dungey declared herself "optimistic and excited" about a third season of "Quantico," which, according to creator Joshua Safran, is opposed to "Trumpian instincts." The series just concluded with a plot that the Trump-like president wanted to merge the FBI and CIA into one giant agency and was exposed as a tool of the Russians. And the ratings? This cartoonish liberal claptrap averaged 2.7 million viewers this season, just over a third of Allen's total. It was renewed.
 
These surviving shows with mediocre ratings are owned by ABC. That means there are business reasons for Allen's show to be dismissed, since it's owned by 20th Century Fox. But it's the second-highest-rated ABC sitcom behind "Modern Family," which is also owned by Fox. (This season, it was ABC's third most watched scripted series behind "Modern Family" and "Grey's Anatomy.") But ABC is keeping Fox-owned "Fresh Off the Boat," which on Tuesday night drew less than 4 million viewers. Pro "diversity" ABC wasn't going to cancel an Asian-American sitcom -- one with an episode last November during which a character proclaimed, "This country was founded by illegal immigrants," meaning the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock.
 
ABC also claims it is renewing these less-popular shows due to "critical acclaim," and that's one way Hollywood liberals can cite liberal TV critics in defense of their decisions. Tim Allen is not a critic's darling. They dismissed this show as retreading his 1990s ABC smash "Home Improvement."
 
So if Tim Allen's hit show is produced by Fox, why can't Fox pick it up? Deadline reported that Fox isn't airing traditional multicamera sitcoms anymore and is leaning toward "edgy" comedies to try to attract younger viewers. Fox only had two weeknight sitcoms this season, both of which struggled: the beyond crass "The Mick" (2.9 million average viewers) and "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" (2.1 million average viewers). Both were renewed.
 
Looking at all this, you can see why Tim Allen is stunned ... and why it's easy to think that a pro-Trump TV star is suddenly out of fashion largely for reasons that have nothing to do with ratings or business.
 
L. Brent Bozell III 
and Tim Graham
 
Published in National
Tuesday, 23 May 2017 20:03

No Bonus for Vets

 
I'm guessing there's something floating around on the internet giving veterans false hope that they are due some kind of extra Social Security benefits for serving in the military. Vets around the country are marching into their local Social Security office with their DD-214 (military discharge papers) demanding that this hyped up bonus be added to their Social Security checks. Or they are sending me emails asking me to help them get the extra money. 
 
As is so often the case with these online rumors, there is a tiny kernel of truth to the story. But then exaggerated claims and false information take over and things get blown way out of proportion. 
 
Here are the facts in a nutshell: If you were in the military anytime up until 2001, the government may add a small amount of additional earnings to your Social Security record. And here is the good news: Those earnings are added automatically. There is nothing you need to do to get the extra credits. But here is the bad news: The extra credits are relatively minimal and usually will have little or no impact on the eventual amount of your Social Security check. Now here are the details. 
 
If you served on active duty or active duty training in the military service any time after 1956, you paid Social Security taxes on your earnings just like anyone else working at a job covered by Social Security. And since 1988, inactive duty in the armed forces reserves, such as weekend drills, has also been covered by Social Security. That's the simple part.
 
What leads to all the confusion is that Congress decided to add extra earnings credits to the Social Security records of military personnel. And the amount of those credits varies depending on the time served.
 
If you were in the military between 1957 and 1977, the government adds $300 to your Social Security records for each calendar quarter in which you received active duty basic pay.
 
From 1978 through 2001, the government adds an extra $100 to your Social Security account for each $300 you earned in basic pay, up to a maximum of $1,200 per year. There are times when these extra credits aren't granted. For example, if you enlisted after Sept. 7, 1980 and didn't complete your full tour of duty, you won't get the extra credits. Check with the Social Security Administration for more exceptions.
 
Beginning in 2002, the government stopped adding extra credits to Social Security records for military service.
 
As I said above, if you are due extra credits, you usually don't need
 to do anything to get them added to your record. If you served from 1968 through 2001, those credits are automatically added to your Social Security account. If you served from 1957 through 1967, the credits will be added at the time you file for benefits. In some cases, you may be asked to provide your DD-214 (discharge papers) to verify your military service.
 
The story is a little different for older vets. If you served in the armed forces between 1940 and 1956, Social Security taxes were not deducted from your military paychecks. But in most cases, the government did add $160 per month in earnings to your Social Security account for the time you served. These credits were automatically added at the time you applied for Social Security benefits. 
 
So that's the story. There are no big Social Security bonuses for vets. You don't need to go to your Social Security office waving your DD-214 and expect to get a big pile of cash. (Although, as I pointed out above, folks who served between 1957 and 1967 may need to show their discharge papers at the time they file for benefits to get those extra earnings added to their Social Security account.)
 
And finally, it's important that I repeat this message: Those extra earnings you get for your military service aren't going to make you rich. Because Social Security retirement benefits are figured using a 35-year base of earnings, a few hundred dollars sprinkled here and there into your Social Security account will have little if any impact on your eventual Social Security benefit.
 
 
Tom Margenau
Published in Politics

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