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REVISITING THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS
I've been a fan of the Smothers Brothers since I first saw them in the sixties as a young lad. Something about the absurdist nature of their comedy gets to me, even now. Their Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour 20th Reunion Special in 1988 was probably the best revival of a TV show ever, largely because almost the entire cast and writers returned for the production. Watch the opening routine from the 1988 CBS special, it's one of their best.

That 1988 special was so good it led to a new series for the duo later that year. That wasn't the first time the series was revived, it happened twice in the 1970s, once on ABC and once on NBC. After the 1988 series was dropped it was picked back up by CBS in 1989 for another short run.

Twenty years later in 2008 The Smothers Brothers hosted the Pollstar Awards, here's part of their opening monologue and you can see they're still very funny.

Thursday, May 27, 2010 - 7:10am
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BOOK REVIEW
TV Blog / Lucky Strike TV Show bookIn the world of books about classic television there aren't a lot of original ideas. Profile some shows and try to provide some fresh insight, that's pretty much the standard.

But a book I'm reading now - The Lucky Strike Papers - is truly unique. It's Andrew Lee Fielding's archeological dig into the career of his mother, Sue Bennett, a popular singer on early TV programs like Your Hit Parade, The Freddie Martin Show, and Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge.

The author delves deep into TV obscura to focus on what life and television were like in the not-so-nifty fifties, into how blacklisting affected these shows and others, the haphazard nature of the new, unreliable technology, and what it meant to be part of one of the most revolutionary upheavals in American history.

It's a loving journey back to an era when television was a mystery to everyone involved, when charm and talent were prerequisites for appearing in people's homes. Imagine that.

One of the more fascinating aspects of this book to me were the chapters related to Kay Kyser's TV program, an hour-long, live variety and game show combined. An under appreciated musical genius Kyser walked away from show business - and his hit TV show - in 1950 when he retired to Chapel Hill, North Carolina at age 45.

I actually got to know Kyser's daughter Kimberly in the 1990s and had the pleasure to meet her mom Georgia Carroll Kyser (a vocalist and a model many called the most beautiful woman in America) at her lovely home in the heart of the city, practically on the UNC campus. This was when I was working on a web site for a proposed documentary on the man that I'm still shocked didn't get funded.

It's not a tightly told story, meandering and going off on tangents, but that's one of the aspects I liked about the book. The Lucky Strike Papers vividly recreates the sophomoric excitement behind the blurry, flickering pictures that came to define that piece of furniture that changed our lives.

If you even know who Ishkabibble or Snooky Lanson are you're in for a treat. There are lots of pictures and screen captures to illustrate the story, this would be a terrific book to take on vacation.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010 - 12:36pm
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FUNNY STUFF
Pundits are starting to ask - if the response to McGruder will mean the end of SNL movies? I hope so. Was there ever a good one? Wayne's World came close but the sequel really stunk up the theaters. The Blues Brothers holds up very well but it's mildly entertaining at best. I didn't even realize there was a sequel called Blues Brothers 2000.

To celebrate the fifth anniversary of YouTube, Conan O'Brien introduces his 5 favorite YouTube videos. Here's one of them, you've prolly seen it, a spot for a local animal shelter goes horribly wrong when the sweet little kitty up for adoption went insane.

Speaking of funny videos, here are some outtakes from a fishing show that are pretty hilarious.

Prank phone calls have found a new home on the web. This kid calls for his friend James but the woman answering the phone thinks it's her son. He toys with her and she freaks out. I pity parents today - in the past the worst that could happen would be humiliating yourself in front of the neighbors, now the whole world can laugh at you.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010 - 7:23am
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TV NEWS
The actor who played Mr. Eko on Lost - Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje - was offered a guest spot in last night's finale but he wanted five times the amount that was offered for the role so they passed.

Here's a preview of the new William Shatner comedy Sh*t My Father Says coming to CBS this fall. Looks like your typical CBS sitcom to me.

Monday, May 24, 2010 - 10:49am
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