February 29, 2008

I’m normally not much of a TV watcher when there’s no baseball season to occupy my early night-time viewing, but this winter I’ve come across a show I consider my own little guilty pleasure and reward for my long work days, and that’s “Happy Hour” on – believe it or not – the FOX Business Channel. Now anyone who knows me well enough is well aware I know as much about finances and economics as your average 3-year old, but I have to admit I enjoy the show immensely and have made it my own little must-see viewing habit.

So what is “Happy Hour” like? In reviewing the show’s inaugural week last October, Market Watch’s Jon Friedman had this to say about the show:

Welcome to “Happy Hour,” a new breed of news show, where a younger version of “Regis and Kelly” meets “Cheers” with the breeziness of “Entourage.”

The closest thing I’ve seen to it on TV, in terms of combining a fast pace with conversations and information, has been ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” and “Cold Pizza” as well as Fox’s own “The Best Damned Sports Show Period.” These shows all have the same kind of freewheeling, informative style. (Interestingly, CNBC, FBN’s main rival, seemed to pluck parts of ESPN’s “SportsCenter” for its popular morning show “Squawk Box,” and now FBN is showing an ESPN influence, too.)

The idea, as Friedman quotes FOX’s senior VP of operations, Brian Jones, as saying, came to him while he was – surprise! – sitting at a bar having cocktails:

I noticed a lot of (business) conversations happen at a golf course or over drinks at a bar,” said Brian Jones, Fox’s senior vice president of operations, who conceived the idea for the show while he was sitting in an Upper West Side bar.

When Jones and Kevin Magee, Fox News’s executive vice president, couldn’t find a suitable venue in the Wall Street district, their colleague Valerie Alexander suggested the Bull and Bear [a bar at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel]. “They already had a ticker,” Jones said with a laugh, noting that Fox doesn’t pay a fee to its host.

The show is a central part of FBN’s daunting game plan: to make financial news fun for Main Street. Instead of reciting dry numbers in earnings reports, “Happy Hour” is more likely to explain what the news means to shareholders and the general public.

I think the show succeeds at doing exactly that. As much entertainment as it is informative (there are lots of interviews with Wall Street types and corporate big-wigs), the pace remains breezy and light throughout, making it a perfect option for people like me who don’t mind being informed as long as we don’t have to think a lot about things after a long, hard day at work. And a lot of the credit has to go to the FOX head honchos who paired up the delightful team of Cody Willard and Rebecca Gomez. I’ll admit, I’m a Cody Willard fan, and Gomez is, well, how you say, very easy on the eyes.

And the great thing is, here in AZ it starts at 9 PM, so that, even after the baseball season arrives I’ll still be able to enjoy “Happy Hour”.

If you haven’t seen it yet, consider it a Great White Shank pick to click.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:23 | Comments (0)
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