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SUNDAY STUFF
Mitchell Hadley of Our Word & Welcome To It alerts us to this: "Just wanted to note the passing a couple of weeks ago of Kirk Browning at age 86, one of the legendary behind-the-scenes figures from the Golden Age of Television. Browning started in TV in in 1947 and never retired, working on PBS' "Live From Lincoln Center" right up to his death on February 10.

"He was a chicken farmer when one of his customers, NBC executive Sam Chotzinoff, helped get him a job at the network. He was the director of the legendary 1951 telecast of "Amahl and the Night Visitors," and countless classical musical telecasts at NBC. He worked with stars from Arturo Toscanini to Frank Sinatra to Arthur Godfrey. He directed 185 telecasts of "Live From Lincoln Center," and was preparing for a March 20 broadcast at the time of his death. He won 10 Emmys for "Live," and three for other productions, as well as a Peabody award. A link to the New York Times obit can be found here."

CNN producer Chez Pazienza was fired because he has a blog. He also has an interesting story to tell about that and the current state of TV news: "I watched the media in general do anything within reason to scare the hell out of the American public -- to convince people that they were about to be infected by the bird flu, poisoned by the food supply, or eaten by sharks. I marveled at our elevation of the death of Anna Nicole Smith to near-mythic status and our willingness to let the airwaves be taken hostage by every permutation of opportunistic degenerate from a crying judge to a Hollywood hanger-on with an emo haircut. I watched qualified, passionate people worked nearly to death while mindless talking heads were coddled. I listened to Lou Dobbs play the loud-mouthed fascist demagogue, Nancy Grace fake ratings-baiting indignation, and Glenn Beck essentially do nightly stand-up -- and that's not even taking into account the 24/7 Vaudeville act over at Fox News. I watched The Daily Show laugh not at our mistakes but at our intentional absurdity." Read the rest here.

Depending on your perspective, this clip from the BBC documentary Baby Bible Bashers (bashers being here word for thumpers, I suppose) will be one of the most charming - or disturbing - things you'll see in a while.

Mad props to comic Lee Camp who was on Fox & Friends Saturday morning and had this to say:

Camp: Can I just ask a question?
H: Sure.
Camp: What is FOX News—it’s just a parade of propaganda isn’t it? It’s just a festival of ignorance. A million people are dead in Iraq. Come on this is ridiculous...

I hope we see more of this type of thing.

Sunday, February 24, 2008 - 7:37am
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MORE RANDOMNESS
In response to a post about ABC's Sunday kid's shows of the 1970s Eric Pleasant writes: "I really have no idea what the network execs consider to be suitable programming for children. I am certain that they have given up on them in favor of the targeted 18-45 year olds and don't care about anyone else.

"I do remember MAKE A WISH and the Hal Linden hosted ANIMALS series, and before that the DOUBLE DECKERS, i remember them being all very worthwhile and ponder over the mentality of what passes for kid programs or if the networks really care anymore. Even the so-called kids networks like DISNEY, Nickelodeon and others seem to be more interested in the 18 to 45s rather then those under those age groups-for that matter those older."

"Observers say Castro will either be replaced by his brother Raul, or by his idiot son, Fidel W. Castro." - David Letterman

Here's something weird. I have a My Space page but hardly ever check with it. I just don't get My Space, don't see the point, and have, a couple of times, accidentally deleted a list of people who wanted to be friends. Bet that pissed them off!

One of my (very few) friends on My Space is a guy named Casey and I have no idea why he's there. I don't know the guy and just now clicked over to see his story - and boy is it a story! Turns out he's semi-famous and currently incarcerated. Casey (aka Timothy Richards) started one of those live-web-cam-in-a-house reality projects back in 1999. He's in prison now with no release date. He claims he was framed, for having child porn on a web site he somehow became involved with. There are so many disturbing aspects to his story, not the least of which is that he dated a 14 year old boy when he was 18. Casey swears he's innocent of the crime but I dunno, the promo film on his site goes to great pains to make this a civil rights case and that's usually the last refuge of a scoundrel. Still, I have a spot in my heart for underdogs and if what he's contending is true, he was a naive kid who got a raw deal. He certainly wouldn't be the first guy railroaded by our justice system, did you see that HBO documentary Paradise Lost on the West Memphis Seven? That was one of the most devastating things I've ever watched - and those kids are still in prison, although there is hope on the horizon.

Check it out for yourself - here's Casey's My Space page and there's also more at freecasey.com.

Saturday, February 23, 2008 - 8:21am
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THIS 'N' THAT
It's a hit! Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles on Fox is earning strong ratings, coming in at #26 last week, #13 in the 18-49 demographic. Fox has another possible winner coming in March, Canterbury's Law, I'll tell you more about it soon, it's from the producers of Rescue Me.

Looks like the fall TV season is going the way of the Do Do bird. NBC announced they will now program an "endless season," a year-round prime-time programming schedule, airing shows when they are ready and not waiting until fall. No doubt, Fox has enjoyed great success with its year round schedule, especially this season.

ABC announced the post-strike return dates for its prime-time series (number of new episodes in parenthesis):
Samantha Who?: Monday, April 7, 9:30 p.m. ET (6)
Boston Legal: Tuesday, April 8, 10 p.m. ET (6)
Desperate Housewives: Sunday, April 13, 9 p.m. ET (5 one-hour and a two-hour finale)
Brothers & Sisters: Sunday, April 20, 10 p.m. ET (4)
Ugly Betty: Thursday, April 24, 8 p.m. ET (5)
Grey's Anatomy: Thursday, April 24, 9 p.m. ET (5)
Lost: moves to a new time slot, 10 p.m. Thursday, April 24. (13)
Pushing Daisies, Private Practice and Dirty Sexy Money will return in the fall.

I was going through some old stuff and ran across this ad illustrated by the legendary comic artist Neal Adams. He did a number of these clever ads for Popov in the mid-1970s. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

Neal Adams Popov ad

I remember one day I was working at Seiniger Advertising in West Hollywood when an announcement came over the intercom - "Neal Adams, please call reception." I was floored! Neal Adams was here? I was a huge fan of his work growing up. Sure enough, there he was upstairs at a desk, drawing away for some movie poster idea or another.

I spoke with him briefly, the set about to school the art directors on just who Neal Adams was. He re-invented Batman, upended the entire comic book industry, Green Lantern / Green Arrow, National Lampoon comic parodies, on and on.

A couple of days later, he had a ton of work from our agency and was back working from his studio, with assistants. I remember he did some mind-blowing color sketches for Star Trek 5 - I am kicking myself for not keeping copies of those small, beautiful works of art. As I recall someone swiped the originals or they were lost, hopefully the artist got them back.

But here's another amazing thing, take a look at this ad on the other side of the page:

You could actually get a full lunch for 99 cents in 1975! A rib eye lunch for $1.99? Talk about inflation... and as I recall, the food was pretty good at the Ponderosa.

Thursday, February 21, 2008 - 9:33am
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UnhitchedUNHITCHED
Fox has a number of scripted shows to roll out in March that they've been holding back, no doubt to stretch out a season interrupted by the you know what.

The long anticipated Farrelly brothers (Something About Mary, Shallow Hal) project Unhitched is an off-beat, bawdy comedy that starts out with one of the main characters getting ass raped by a chimp and descends into a series of chaotic but funny situations involving a prostitute, the boss' daughter, and the Boston Celtics.

Craig Bierko, Rashida Jones (The Office), Shaun Majumder (Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle) and Johnny Sneed star as four shallow friends that hang out - well, like the guys did on Friends.

Revolving around the dating life of these hapless singles, Unhitched is a pleasing diversion that should fit well with Fox's powerhouse Sunday night line-up. I got quite a few laughs out of this new show. While the show goes too often for easy laughs - heck, they almost always go for the quick laughs - at least there are some chuckles.

The lead characters possess enough charm to push the thing along, it's at least as funny as the Farrelly's feature film efforts. For what that's worth, I'm not much of a Farrelly fan, in my opinion Shallow Hal would have worked much better at a half an hour.

You'll be pleased to know the second episode is even better than the first, Unhitched looks like a winner to me.

Unhitched debuts Sunday, March 2nd at 9:30 EST/PT.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008 - 8:05am
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SAD PASSING
Kevin S. Butler writes: Local kids TV has suffered another sad loss. Former San Francisco, Cal. based radio/TV host Harry Martin, who was the second and last to play space hero "Captain Sao," has died. Mr. Martin lost his battle with cancer on Sunday, February 17, 2008. He was 81.

Born Harry Martin Uhlenberg, he began his broadcasting career at
KCCC TV 40 in Sacramento as a director and announcer in 1951. When KCCC TV went off the air in 1957 he moved to KCRA in Frisco where he served as the station's entertainment editor, interviewing many well known performers and personalities on his talk show. In 1963 he became Captain Satco when the series' first host/ performer Harry Wade left the program.

Set against the backdrop of a hidden underground lab, Captain Satco
and Dr. Xavier (the name of the performer who played Dr. Xavier is unknown) would go after evildoers and engage their viewers in games, stories, craft making, hobbies, informational segments and interviews with guest personalities between the reruns of Bugs Bunny movie cartoons.

Mr. Martin continued to host the show until the 1970's. In 1973 he became a news anchor at KCRA and he remained in that capacity for many years. He would later retired with his wife Polly and they divided their
time between two homes, one in Sacramento the other in Maine. Mrs. Polly Martin also succumbed to cancer last summer.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008 - 10:55am
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THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL
Lewis Black - The Root of All EvilComedy Central has launched so many hit shows in the last few years one could understand they might have a 'we can do no wrong' confidence. That may explain the shortcomings behind their latest entry, The Root of All Evil.

Stand up comic, author and Daily Show regular Lewis Black is the star of a new half-hour series that comes across like Bullshit! with Penn & Teller meets Judge Joe Brown. Yeah, I know...

The idea is that Black invites 2 guest comics (Greg Giraldo, Andy Kindler, Patton Oswalt and Paul F. Tompkins appear early on) to run down the supposed atrocities surrounding 2 pop culture subjects. For instance, on episode 1 it's the Catholic Church vs Oprah Winfrey, on episode 2 Donald Trump vs Viagra. Future episode tackle Beer vs Weed, Paris Hilton vs Dick Cheney, and You Tube vs Porn.

As standup lawyers, the comics make their case as to which of the two is more evil. At the end of the show Lewis Black renders his decision and wraps everything up.

Unfortunately, this unsatisfying program is overwritten and heavy handed, lacking the satirical bite and mounds of useful, obscure information that makes Bullshit! so compelling. The writers aren't finding the humor from the truth so much as ridiculing events and people, at least on the first couple of episodes. Truth, as Comedy Central has learned, is often more entertaining that joke setups; as a result, this program lacks the relevancy and immediacy of The Daily Show.

The producers are alumni of Real Time with Bill Maher and The Simpsons but The Root of All Evil comes off like a low rent knock off. The premise is too forced and limiting, the production is much sillier than the Daily / Colbert shows, that's for sure.

In fact, I'm surprised a comedian as hot as Lewis Black would sign on to such a seriously flawed concept. I'm a big fan, he's easily up to the task of helming his own hit series, I'm just not sure this one is it.

That said, there are laughs to be had (like some funny and revealing interviews outside an inner city school on show 1) so perhaps the production just needs time to grow into whatever it's going to become.

Monday, February 18, 2008 - 6:58am
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MAKE A WISH
During the 1970s ABC aired a couple of hours of kid programming on Sunday morning including Make A Wish where a different subject was explored every week with host Tom Chapin, brother of Harry Chapin. You Tube has the opening and closing of the show:

Another perennial on ABC Sunday mornings in the early-seventies was The Adventures of Bullwinkle & Rocky. I remember we would get home from church just in time to catch Bullwinkle.

Sunday, February 17, 2008 - 10:51am
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NEW ON TVPARTY!
classic tv showsBe sure and check out L. Wayne Hicks' brand new interview with Sherwood Schwartz, it's packed with fascinating stories about TV's golden age and the creation of Gilligan's Island, The Brady Bunch, It's About Time, Red Skelton Show and more. There are lots of stories here I haven't heard before. And what does the legendary writer/producer think of the current cop of sitcoms? You'll love it!

Friday, February 15, 2008 - 11:41am
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SEE TO BELIEVE
OK all you parents out there - here's how to raise your young daughter, these guys let their child do anything she wants! Have a barf bag nearby...

Friday, February 15, 2008 - 7:36am
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ANOTHER PASSING
Here's a shocker - David Groh, who was horribly miscast in 1974 as Rhoda's husband, is dead at 68. Here's the obit from the LA Times.

Thursday, February 14, 2008 - 3:08pm
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RETURNING SHOWS
The networks are looking ahead and announcing some returning show dates. On CBS: "How I Met Your Mother," "Two and a Half Men" and "The Big Bang Theory" will return March 17. Each will have nine new episodes before the season ends.
"CSI: Miami" and "Cold Case" return in late March, "CSI" on April 3. Shark has an order for four additional episodes, Rules of Engagement will return with six new shows.

ABC plans to produce five new episodes of Lost, bringing the total this season to 13.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008 - 12:08pm
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COMING SOON
Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, on the end of the WGA strike:
"I'm told the agreement was met with some controversy, but I believe that the overwhelming majority of the guild is relieved to stop striking and getting back to being out of work."

Fox has a number of scripted shows to roll out in March and April that they've been holding back, no doubt to stretch out a season truncated by the you know what. I'll have some reviews soon. In the meantime, here are some clips from two new sitcoms coming to a TV near you.

First up the Farrelly brother's (Something About Mary, Shallow Hal) quirky comedy Unhitched:

Next, The Return of Jezebel James:

Decide for yourself if they look good.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008 - 9:32am
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ONE TOKE INDEED
Dan Wingate send along this hilarious moment from The Lawrence Welk Show - as he pointed out, these folks clearly had no idea what they were singing about.

On another note, I just saw one of my best friends from college on TV - unfortunately, he was being arrested for having sex with a 17 year old girl at the school where he works as a coach. Bummer!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - 7:21am
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THE STRIKE
This is a fine article about the end of the writer's strike. The key paragraph:

Dramas and comedies like Fox’s "24" and "Back to You" are likely to take weeks to get back in production. Weaker shows might not return at all, and shake-ups in network planning might delay the return of others.

It will be very interesting to see what the ratings will be like for the returning network programs.

Sunday, February 10, 2008 - 11:11am
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OLD ON DVD
In case you haven't heard, Shout! Factory is releasing what looks like a fabulous collection of 1950's Saturday morning shows, programs like Winky Dink & You, Sky King, Kukla Fran & Ollie, Howdy Doody, Ding Dong School, Paul Winchell Show, Roy Rogers, Juvenile Jury, Time For Beany, Super Circus, and about a dozen others. It comes out in early-May.

In that spirit, lets watch Leonard Maltin's Entertainment Tonight feature on Sky King.

Here's an entire episode of the wonderful Kukla, Fran & Ollie.

Sunday, February 10, 2008 - 8:10am
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AFTERNOON DELIGHT
I used to love the afternoon talk shows of the 1970s, Merv, Mike and Dinah. So lets take a trip back 30 years, first with a clip from The Mike Douglas Show with guest co-host Cher who "Side by Side" with Mike, followed by an interview.

From Dinah & Friends, a re-tooling of the Dinah show from 1979 with Ann Miller, Robert Klein and Charles Nelson Reilly. This program was filmed at Tavern On The Green in Central Park.

By the 1980s these talk shows were struggling to stay relevant. Here's the opening to a 1982 Merv Show with the cast of Star Trek II.

Saturday, February 9, 2008 - 8:17am
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TULSA LOCALS
Mike Ransom of the fabulous Tulsa TV Memories site has some added info on some shows mentioned in this Blog. First is a message from Lee Woodward regarding Spanky McFarland's Tulsa kiddie show:
Spanky Little Rascals picture"In response to the Spanky McFarland mention: I was asked to sit in as 'host' on the Spanky set until he could arrive in town. I think he was about a week late.

"An amusing sidebar was that after two or three days on the show, sitting on the front porch of his make believe house, some viewers called in suggesting that Spanky avail himself of a jock strap! It was apparent that Spanky was no longer a little kid! (Although I must say he still looked like one except for the heavy beard.)"

Lee himself is one of the all-time Tulsa TV legends. Here is his main page on my site. Lee's brother Morgan Woodward is a veteran TV character actor and guest-starred in a couple of classic Star Treks: "Dagger of the Mind" and "Omega Glory". He logged the most guest appearances of any actor on "Gunsmoke". Oh, yes, and he was the boss man wearing mirror shades in "Cool Hand Luke", a role for which he received an Oscar nomination.

On my Romper Room page, I have a 1956 Life magazine article about the Tulsa host, Miss Nancy. Nate Wilcox said:
"Someone asked for memories of Romper Room. I worked on the floor crew at KTUL-TV when Romper Room first started on the station in early 1957. The first Romper Room teacher/host was very nearsighted but wouldn't wear glasses on camera.

"In one segment she was showing pictures the children had drawn and making comments about them. She had thumb tacked them to a cork board. On one picture she pointed out what a nice sun the child had drawn. The director cut to a close-up and it was a yellow thumbtack that she had used to put up the picture. We had huge cue cards we would use so she could see them from a distance. Contact lenses were not so common in those days but they would have dramatically helped her performance."

Thanks for those great stories, Mike!

Thursday, February 7, 2008 - 7:12am
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ANOTHER PASSING
Manuel PadillaManuel Padilla, best known for his role as the kid (Jai) on the Tarzan TV series of the mid-1960s, died on Januuary 29th. He was 51. Padilla was also seen on The Flying Nun and as Carlos in American Grafitti and More American Graffiti. According to imdb.com he hadn't worked in movies or TV for 25 years. Thanks to Jay Blotcher for the catch.

Classic TV is hot on cable - TV Land's January ratings were up 18 percent from January 2007, up 29% in the core 40-54 demographic.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008 - 8:32am
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R.I.P. BARRY MORSE
Barry MorseBob Huggins writes: "I’m sad to report the passing of another icon from television’s classic age, Barry Morse, who was best known in the U.S. for his recurring role as Lt. Gerard in “The Fugitive” (which will see the second half of season 1 released on DVD later this month). L.A. Times obituary here."

Wednesday, February 5, 2008 - 11:26am
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FUNNY GAME SHOW MOMENTS
Here are some more of those stupid game show answers. I could watch this stuff all day, and you can at sgsa.gameshowvideos.com but better catch it now - Sony will have those clips pulled. I know, I had outtakes from The Newlywed Game on TVparty but they made me take them down. From You Tube:

Here's my favorite from The Newlywed Game: "How long will your husband say his inseam is?" "7 inches?"

Wednesday, February 5, 2008 - 6:56am
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Football bookNOW ON AMAZON
Here's a book I doubt will make it to the best-sellers list - 19-0: The Historic Championship Season of New England's Unbeatable Patriots. It prolly seemed like a good idea at the time...

Tuesday, February 4, 2008 - 12:38pm
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Romper Room HawaiiANOTHER ROMPER ROOM LADY FOUND
A.J. McWhorter has tracked down the Romper Room lady for Honolulu, 'Miss Robin' Mann, who continues to teach but now her students are a bit more mature than they were back in the 1970s. It's an inspiring story, click over and read it.

Tuesday, February 4, 2008 - 8:11am
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MUSIC MONDAY
If you perused the punk rock section of this site you would have read about the groundbreaking post-punk group Red Wedding. Michael Ely & James 'Spider' Taylor were the core of that group, they now record under the name Smoke & Mirrors. Michael Ely writes: "We're in a movie! I can't tell you how surreal it is for us to be seeing advertisements on MySpace for "Step Up 2 The Streets" and knowing that our music is somewhere in that film! Okay, we're not included on the CD soundtrack, and it's a hip hop dance movie featuring white kids dancing, and our music is probably just background music for a few seconds in the film, but hey, it's a Touchstone Pictures release and it's our first entry into a real movie.

"For all of our friends who know how many years we struggled in L.A. alternative rock back in the 80's without much success and for all of our friends who know that for the past six years how hard we've struggled trying to get our little toe into the door of the film industry, you gotta know what a thrill this is for us, a tiny bit of vindication.

"Ya know, we create music first because we love music. It's never been about people fussing over us or the money (what money?!!!). It's always been about the act of creating and hoping to bring people aural joy, and this is something new and exciting for us. I don't know if this will lead us to any sort of real success, but for this brief moment, it feels good (like we've accomplished something) and we are happy, and we just wanted to thank all of our friends who have believed in us and supported us. Now, does anyone know of a good music manager out there? We need one!"

If you know of a good person who can get their moody, ethereal, critically-acclaimed music into movies and TV shows let me know and I'll pass it on.

Neil Strawbridge tells us: "I maintain a website that hosts TV theme midi files… many of which I’ve done myself.  At any rate, I wanted to offer you a note of thanks, as the information on your website was instrumental in my ability to put together my latest midi file: The theme from The Movie of the Week.
 
"I’ve always loved this piece!  Even before I found your site and the capture of the opening credits… after all these years, I still remembered the melody.  Some of ‘em just stick with you, don’t they?
 
"If you’d like to have a listen, it’s available right up front on my website tvsgreatesthits.com.  As far as I know, aside from your capture, it’s the only recording of the arrangement by Harry Betts for television.
"

Monday, February 4, 2008 - 7:36am
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1 / 07

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'Every decade expresses its kooky collective unconscious on the tube, celebrated affectionately at Billy Ingram's TVparty. Ingram provides a hilarious glimpse into the American pop psyche.'
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