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Jim Lehrer, Longtime PBS News Anchor, Is Dead at 85

Filed under: Television, News, Radio Today, Bob Edwards Archives — Charlie Summers @ 1:07 am

From the New York Times: Jim Lehrer, Longtime PBS News Anchor, Is Dead at 85

Yes, I know, I am terribly late at posting this; I have a lot of reasons, but no excuses.

The first time Jim Lehrer visited The Bob Edwards Show, he was joined by long-time partner Robert MacNeil - this interview was frequently repeated on the program over the years. But that wasn’t the only time he was on the program…he visited twice more to discuss his books Oh, Johnny on 04/14/2009, and Top Down: A Novel of the Kennedy Assassination on 11/22/2013.

I’ve included both these complete programs below, along with the script/roadmaps for the programs.

icon for podpress  The Bob Edwards Show Script for Tuesday, April 14th, 2009: Download

icon for podpress  The Bob Edwards Show for Tuesday, April 14th, 2009 [59:15m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

icon for podpress  The Bob Edwards Show Script for Friday, November 22nd, 2013: Download

icon for podpress  The Bob Edwards Show for Friday, November 22nd, 2013 [59:30m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Happy Birthday, Alton Brown!

Filed under: Television, Radio Today, Bob Edwards Archives — Charlie Summers @ 1:49 pm

To celebrate the birthday of a good friend I have never met, listen to this episode of The Bob Edwards Show from July 28th, 2006. Oh, c’mon…everyone who has enjoyed Good Eats considers Alton Brown a good friend, someone with whom you’d expect to enjoy a self-crafted beer, laughing about the mistakes you made leading up to the awesomeness you are now drinking.

Mr. Brown visited the program to promote his then-new program Feasting on Asphalt, where he traveled across the country enjoying true road food - no fast-food joints for this trip, all great food, some unusual. As Bob said in his introduction:

For most people, road food is nothing more than a number 3 combo ordered through a loud speaker. Alton Brown thinks that’s a shame. So, the trained chef and popular host of the show “Good Eats” on the Food Network, hit the back roads of America to sample authentic road food -from burgers to barbeque to pickled pigs feet to authentic Indian Curry. He rolled his cameras too, creating a special documentary series he’s calling “Feasting on Asphalt.” The first episode airs this Saturday on the Food Network. Brown decided to cross the country on his motorcycle. He says there’s no better way to experience the road.

This program begins with Washington Post reporter Thomas Ricks on his book Fiasco, and ends with author Jeff Goodell talking about his book, Big Coal, but like the peanut butter and jelly between two slices of fine bread, Alton Brown entertains in the middle of this show.

Script/Roadmap included; note there is prep material for two of the interviews. Also, this program aired the day before the program’s very first documentary. Truly a team effort, this program was directed by Geoffrey Redick, and produced by Jim Rosenberg, Steve Lickteig, and Andy Danyo Kubis.

icon for podpress  The Bob Edwards Show Script for Thursday, July 27th, 2006: Download

icon for podpress  The Bob Edwards Show for Thursday, July 27th, 2006 [59:15m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Rebecca Skloot and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Filed under: Television, Films and Video, Bob Edwards Archives — Charlie Summers @ 10:54 pm

Over 60 years ago, doctors took cells from a cancer patient in Baltimore. She died soon afterward, forgotten to everyone except her family. But her cells became immortal and famous – known as HeLa. HeLa cells were the first to grow reliably in a laboratory, and they’re still the most widely used today. They’re responsible for everything from the Polio vaccine to gene mapping. They’ve ridden into space and into oblivion on atomic weapons.

The Oprah Winfrey-lead film The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks premiers in a few days on HBO…but in 2010, Bob Edwards spent an hour with the author of the book on which this film is based, Rebecca Skloot, hearing the story of the woman from whom HeLa cells were taken without permission, and what happened to her family after she died. From the program introduction:

For sixty years, scientists all over the world have conducted research using Hela cells. They’re called Hela cells because they came from a woman named Henrietta Lacks. The scientists know the story of the cells, but not many have bothered to ask about Henrietta’s story. Well Rebecca Skloot did-and she spent ten years researching the life of a 30-year old African American mother of five who died of cervical cancer in the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore in 1951. It would be another 25 years before Henrietta’s children learned about the involuntary contribution their mother left to medical science—a legacy that continues today.

Script/Roadmap also included below.

icon for podpress  The Bob Edwards Show Script for Monday February 8th, 2010: Download

icon for podpress  The Bob Edwards Show for Monday February 8th, 2010 [59:30m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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So then this happened…

Filed under: General, Television — Charlie Summers @ 11:21 pm

Meant every word, BTW…it’s tough to find for those of us south of the (Canadian) border, but well worth the effort. Snappy dialog, lead actors willing to commit to the scene no matter how intense or silly, and at the center of it all, some real heart. Not to mention an awesome supporting cast, and guest stars like Natalie Lisinska (InSecurity, a favorite sitcom), Ennis Esmer (The Listener), and Nicholas Campbell (I know you think I’ll go with Da Vinci’s Inquest, but nope, my fave is 1987’s Diamonds, which shows I watch a lot of Canadian television). Honest, you won’t be sorry if you track down episodes of Private Eyes and spend some quality time with these people…

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Quantum Leap Story Guidelines

Filed under: Television — Charlie Summers @ 12:18 am

“Theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator…

“…and vanished…”

Ok, before I get back to Quantum Leap, I need to tell you a story about my own lifetime, and do it in such a way as to not tell you everything, to protect others involved.

A long time ago in an apartment not that far away, I was young (or younger, anyway), and one of the then relatively few people involved with computers - I bought my first computer in the early 1980’s. By the late ’80s I had started a business consulting on computer issues to businesses and individuals, but also spent a lot of time helping out my friends for nothing but the joy it gave me (hum, that hasn’t changed much, come to think of it). One of my friends worked for a large entertainment network (I won’t mention the name, but it shouldn’t be hard to figure from the various series I’ll be mentioning). I helped this person with an occasional computer problem, and this person thought they owed me for it, and so I started to receive all kinds of things…scripts, dailies, even production company gifts! Of course, I felt I owed this friend, so I did more work, so there was more fascinating stuff sent my way, and so…well, you can see where this vicious cycle went.

At any rate, I am trying slowly to catch up on the past fifty-something years of my life, and so I started going through some of this stuff. I was a little surprised to find things I don’t remember receiving (the 50th episode script of Sisters, for example, has an amazing cover!), and while I have a bunch of other things I need to get done, I want to slowly catalog this stuff, and make some of it available. Getting back to Quantum Leap, hopefully I can add a little to the history of the program (a written ending to Mirror Image really was shot), maybe fill in a few gaps with script revisions (some episodes had considerable revisions, each on a different color paper), show some shot-but-never-used footage (Scott Bakula with a Magnum P.I ’stash and shirt!) and if nothing else show you how tedious the making of television is by watching dedicated actors perform the same scenes over and over and over and over…

First up, The Quantum Leap Story Guideline, last revised April 11th of 1991. I’m assuming as an historical document this won’t be a copyright violation, but if anyone from Universal or Belisarius Productions has a problem with this posting, just let me know and I’ll take it down without a takedown, if you know what I mean. Until then, just hit the Download link there below to take along a PDF copy. (It would be really cool if y’all, when you pass this around, would mention from whence it came, thanks.)

icon for podpress  Quantum Leap Story Guideline, Rev. April 11, 1991: Download

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Peg Lynch - A Video Tribute

Filed under: Old-Time Radio, Television — Charlie Summers @ 4:06 pm

We spent Tuesday afternoon laughing.

Kate and I have been looking at video footage of Peg Lynch, performing, chatting, and otherwise entertaining from various conventions around the country. I come away from this with the realization that the woman doesn’t appear to be able to tell a bad story, or a story badly. Indeed, I’m going to be hard-pressed to choose what we’re going to run on next week’s SummersTime to honor her…we watched the footage and laughed most of the afternoon. Kate was even able to find the performance recording of Ethel and Albert with Bob Dryden as Albert from the 1995 Friends of Old Time Radio Convention, as well as video with Jess Cain and Arthur Anderson performing Albert.

Here, from the final Cincinnati Old-Time Radio and Nostalgia Convention in 2012, with our thanks to Chairman Bob Burchett, is Peg Lynch; first telling a story about receiving an interesting letter from a fan, and then performing one of her classic Ethel and Albert scripts with Bob Hastings as Albert.

Thank you, Peg.

icon for podpress  Peg Lynch at the 2012 Cincinnati Convention: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Peg Lynch, Writer and Star of Early Situation Comedy, Dies at 98

Filed under: Old-Time Radio, Television — Charlie Summers @ 3:52 pm

From The New York Times: Peg Lynch, Writer and Star of Early Situation Comedy, Dies at 98

Thank heavens Kate got to meet this amazing woman. I will be posting a tribute later this week with some video and such, as soon as I get a few permissions and the clips together.

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RIP Joe Franklin

Filed under: Old-Time Radio, Television, Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 3:09 pm
At the FOTR microphones in 2007: Will Jordan and Joe Franklin

Everyone who met Joe Franklin, who passed away yesterday, has a story about him to tell. This is mine, although it’s probably valid for hundreds if not thousands of other people, too.

I spent a lot of years volunteering at the Friends of Old-Time Radio Convention in Newark, NJ. One of the things I did was act as assistant to Fred Berney, he of Satellite Media Production, who videotaped the convention for posterity. Since the videographer “ran the room,” it was their responsibility to make sure everything was working and the dais was prepared for each panel throughout the day. In that role, I frequently spoke with Joe, who brought The Joe Franklin Show to the convention each year. (It is thanks to Joe that I can honestly say, “I shot Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara,” every time I see one of them on television.)

At every meeting, I would say something clever like, “Hello, Mr. Franklin, great to have you with us again this year,” to which he would inevitably respond with, in his lightening-fast delivery and unabashed New York accent, something like, “Hey, hiya Charlie, haven’t seen you in a while…how’ya been, Charlie?”

Now look, I’m not an idiot. I know he was grabbing my name from a quick glance at my convention name tag. I understand intellectually that he didn’t know me from Adam, and was just doing a schick he performed countless times every day.

And I didn’t care. For a moment, the great man knew me. And I was on top of the world.

Now if the guy could take a nobody like me and make him feel that important, imagine what he could do to someone who actually mattered. That is exactly how Joe Franklin became Joe Franklin…how he managed to have the great and the small show up in his studio and spend some time chatting and trading quips.

Joe is one of the many things I desperately miss with the end of the FOTR convention. And now, we’ll all miss Joe. But thanks, Mr. Franklin, for making me feel so d*mned special.

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Leno Removed from Tonight Show…Redux

Filed under: Television — Charlie Summers @ 1:07 am

If this whole kerfuffle has felt to you a little bit like deja vu all over again, you aren’t alone. NBC has, for the second time this century, fired the host from its only successful daypart (late-night), replacing said host with a younger, blander version. So for a minute, let’s look at some of the myths that seem to be making the rounds about the last time and this newest transition…

NBC Needs Younger Late-Night Viewers

There aren’t younger late-night viewers. Conan’s run at The Tonight Show tanked because for all the vocal nonsense from the “Team Conan” crowd, they weren’t actually watching the show when it aired. That coveted 18-34 doesn’t spend time watching late-night television, at least no more than they can pick up the next day at work on YouTube. Conan is getting peanuts for ratings at TBS now, but considering TBS doesn’t get much for ratings any time of the day, they don’t care.

And remember, these late-night shows (please don’t call them “variety shows,” they aren’t as anyone who remembers the real “variety shows” can attest) are dirt-cheap to make. Talent gets scale for appearances, fewer and fewer staff is requires as cameras and sound become more and more computerized, and even the headliner doesn’t get paid near what hosts did in the halcyon days of Johnny Carson. The idea is that anyone can make a profit at 11:30pm or later…lord, networks are now running poker games overnight, and if there’s anything more boring than golf to watch, it’s poker.

NBC Needs a Change

No argument here, but changing management would be a better move. Consider that everything NBC has changed in the last decade has been an unmitigated disaster. Late-night ratings suffered irrecoverably after the 2004 Tonight Show succession debacle, yet Leno still managed to maintain first place in the smaller viewer pool available. NBC’s prime-time lineup is a disaster (seriously, name one NBC prime-time show you religiously watch), and their ham-handed mucking with the Today show killed their previously-unassailable lead in the morning day-part. So since late-night was their one profitable number-one time of day, they decided to shoot themselves in the chest and screw around with that one, too.

Like I said the last time this happened, change the management already.

Leno’s Prime-Time Program Was a Disaster

The media in this newest transition harps that Leno’s prime-time show “failed,” that it, “brought dismal ratings,” that it was a complete disaster for NBC.

Er…no, at least not as it was planed. NBC actually expected to lose ratings share, making up for it with the less-expensive nature of The Jay Leno Show and actually expected to increase its profit margins on that hour. And for its entire existence, the show met or beat NBC’s own ratings projections. By the initial projections set up by NBC, the program was actually wildly successful!

The real disaster was NBC not anticipating what those expected lower ratings were going to do to the local station’s lead-in to the local news, which is the “cash cow” of the network affiliate. But blaming Leno for meeting or exceeding NBC’s own projections is wildly unfair. The Jay Leno Show was as profitable for the network as the network expected it to be…it was just a massive failure for the locals, who the NBC execs didn’t consider at all in their initial projections. Blame the chuckleheads at NBC for not seeing the obvious effect a cheap prime-time show at 10:00pm would have on its affiliates. (Had they run the show nightly at 8:00pm instead, they would have reaped the perceived and projected benefits they anticipated without killing their affiliates. But they would have hurt their own 9:00 shows, so of course they didn’t dream of making that move…)

But then, The Jay Leno Show wasn’t the “experiment” they pretended it to be, either…it was nothing more than a violent over-reaction to their own terror that Leno, then on-top and unassailable at The Tonight Show, would jump to another network’s late-night slot and crush them the day his contract expired. Having fired the guy, they decided to try anything to keep him tied to the Peacock network, no matter how silly. People who blame Leno for ousting O’Brein don’t understand the way television works…O’Brein was promoted by NBC who fired Leno, then the execs got cold feet and came up with a “Hail Mary” pass to try desperately to keep both - Leno at 10:00pm, Conan at 11:35pm. When things blew up in the 10-o’clock hour, they then made a simple yet cold monetary calculation and decided they were better off with Leno at the head of late-night and so removed O’Brein whose Tonight Show ratings were dropping fast. The execs, and their inability to make and stand on a decision, is why Conan became a wealthy man and Leno is still at The Tonight Show. Blaming Leno is a cheap joke for comedians, but is simply not fair to the guy.

Back to this year’s firing/hiring, I actually like Jimmy Fallon (unlike Seth Myers, who may be a fair writer but is a terrible performer), but I’m confidently predicting his late-night numbers will fall from Leno’s just as Conan’s did, and will shortly settle to only a little higher than his existing Late Nite ratings. Having the show in New York will limit the talent pool a bit, but there won’t be a lot of people to actually notice. And this time, those of us who do occasionally watch late night television won’t even have our Jay Leno Show recordings up play at 11:35pm…gotta admit, with that system it was hard to realize Jay had moved at all.

Truth is, late-night network television is becoming as irrelevant as any other network daypart. In this house, we time-shift practically everything, and stream much of our viewing from the Internet…local stations, even cable networks, are becoming less and less relevant with each passing day. Maybe it’s time we all accepted the plain fact that the old metrics just don’t apply any more, and that late-night television is pretty much as dead as the rest of the network’s lineup. Give the youtube kiddies a few laugh lines, and quit worrying about it.

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2012’s Best and Worst Television

Filed under: Television — Charlie Summers @ 4:38 pm

Now that we’re passed the end of another year, it’s time for yet another insipid list of the best and worst. These are my personal choices, tongue-generally-in-cheek, so don’t take any of this too seriously…

  • Worst Television Program Premiering in 2012: Wow, with all the possibilities, it’s hard to choose finalists in this category let alone a clear winner. The yet-another-Sherlock-Holmes-in-the-present series seems a reasonable choice (especially with the lovely Lucy Lu trying to act like the kid she was in Ally McBeal instead of the woman she’s become), but then there’s the poorly-executed knockoff of ITV’s Primeval, the oddly-structured successor to The Closer, the almost creepy “comedy” Partners, and the dumbest idea for a program I’ve heard in a while, Last Resort, so how can one pick the epitome of bad? Oh, right…Animal Practice. What moron even thought that show would be a good idea? When your costar is a primate, you know you’re in serious trouble.

  • Best Television Program Premiering in 2012: Now we have a quandary of a different sort, since there hasn’t exactly been a surplus of originality in television shows - not that that is unique to this year, but it seems to be getting worse. I like Go On, but frankly liked the canceled Mr. Sunshine better. Revolution is ok, but it doesn’t really get me to worry whether I’m weeks behind or not. For best, I have to go with HBO’s The Newsroom - yeah, I know Aaron Sorkin gets preachy, but no one on the planet writes solid snappy dialog like this guy does. Each episode unfolds a real news story and looks at how they should be covered and how they are covered. The entire news industry should be forced to watch this show over and over until they get a clue.

  • Guiltiest Television Program Pleasure in 2012: The Neighbors. I still haven’t decided whether I’m laughing with the show or at the show, but I frequently laugh, which is more than I can say for The Partners or Guys with Kids. Still, don’t tell anyone, since I’m a little embarrassed about it.

  • Best “Reboot” of 2012: I hate reboots…they never really work, and even those that have reluctantly grown on me would have been better off being a sequel. Which is why I think Dallas is the best for the year, even if I haven’t had the time to watch all of last season (it has to do with waiting for hot turnovers and ice cream, which is a story onto itself). This is a sequel that honors the past series, and doesn’t attempt to replace it with a bunch of kids holding the same character names as those we remember and cherish. And it has Brenda Strong, one of my personal favorites (known of her for a long time, but it was her recurring role in Sports Night that really got my attention), so how bad can it be? I mean, geez, Patrick Duffy has had one helluva career, screen-romancing Victoria Principal and Ms. Strong. Of course, the loss of J.R. will be devastating to the show…without evil, how can we judge good? Still, I look forward to watching Larry Hagman’s final work, just as I’ve watched with Katie the first episode of I Dream of Jeanie, his early breakout role.

  • Worst Exit in 2012: This one’s easy; The Closer. Brenda Leigh Johnson just got into an elevator and disappeared. It was a tremendous letdown, driven more by the production company’s determination to create an unsatisfying sequel to the show than any loyalty to the character. Brenda Leigh deserved more, and so did the viewers. But one more time, to the amazing Kyra Sedgwick who wore Brenda Leigh’s strengths and weaknesses on her sleeve for all to see, and with the thickest of southern drawl, “Thank-eue…”

Now, onward to see what 2013 holds in store for us!

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I tried to like Primeval New World, but just can’t…

Filed under: Television — Charlie Summers @ 4:09 pm

The New World team.

First, let me note I know Primeval New World isn’t yet available in the United States; don’t know when we get it officially, but right now it is only airing in Canada. Fortunately, I have friends in Canada (all over the world, actually) who “smuggle” me copies of programs I normally wouldn’t be able to see (like the excellent and now canceled Insecurity, or the strange yet interesting Continuum), so I’m a little ahead of most folks here. And even though the last few series of the British Primeval weren’t its finest, I still enjoyed it enough to look forward to Canada’s “sequel.”

Problem is, it just isn’t very good.

Let’s look at the overall concept, created by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, names I vaguely remember from some forgettable Star Trek novels. They have apparently decided to get as far away from the premise of the original Primeval as possible, managing to make Canada look pretty silly in the process. Where in England there is an entire governmental agency to handle the anomalies and the travelers through them, in Canada the government is blissfully ignorant, leaving it to a rich dot-commer and his rag-tag bunch to handle these time-portals. It’s as if Canada’s government is collectively the most stupid bunch of politicians on the planet, worse even than America’s Congress. Yipe.

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Actor William Windom dies at 88

Filed under: Television, News — Charlie Summers @ 1:03 pm

From the BBC: Actor William Windom dies at 88

Most people remember him from Murder She Wrote, but I can’t forget My World and Welcome To It.

The title screen to the series.
Mr. Windom as cartoonist John Monroe.
Mr. Windom as Ulysses S. Grant, with Marvin Kaplin and Royal Dano.

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TV Deaths; Kathryn Joosten, Richard Dawson

Filed under: Television, News — Charlie Summers @ 11:33 am

From the BBC: Desperate Housewives actress Kathryn Joosten dies

From the article: “US TV actress Kathryn Joosten, best known for her roles in Desperate Housewives and The West Wing, has died. Joosten, who was 72, died in California of lung cancer, 11 years after she was first diagnosed with the disease.”

Goodnight, Mrs. Landingham.

From ABC News: Richard Dawson Dies: ‘Family Feud’ Host Was 79

From the article: “Richard Dawson known best for hosting the ‘Family Feud’ and starring in ‘Hogan’s Heroes’ has died, ABC News has confirmed…Dawson hosted several incarnations of the popular game show the ‘Family Feud’ after it debuted in 1976.”

You’ll be missed, Cpl. Newkirk.

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Finally I can tell WHY Alex O’Loughlin Became My Hero

Filed under: Television — Charlie Summers @ 12:09 pm

A few weeks ago, I made a strange tweet…I mean, strange even by my own somewhat…odd…standards. I mentioned that Alex O’Loughlin, the star of the current CBS series Hawaii Five-0 was my hero. That didn’t come as out-of-the-blue as it clearly appeared based on some comments I’ve received, but I couldn’t discuss how or why until today - today is, by the way and not coincidentally, my daughter Katie’s fourteenth birthday.

The backstory you need to know is that when Katie was maybe nine, we saw a commercial for a show coming in the fall named Moonlight - she was immediately captivated by the handsome young actor portraying the vampire of the story, and decreed we must watch the show. We did, of course, each week, reruns included, and she became more smitten by this man with each episode…he was the first male to whom the adjective “cute” was applied by her, and the mere mention of his name could cause her to blush. She was crushed when she found out the program was canceled. When later the series Three Rivers premiered, we watched that show weekly, until it, too was canceled with the same disappointment that she couldn’t see this man…er…I mean this show, again. Now that Hawaii Five-0 is a hit, we no longer have the disappointment of cancellation, but even at thirteen we are still following Mr. O’Loughlin’s show weekly (DVR-shifted to avoid issues with schoolwork and bedtime, of course).

Last February, I took a chance. I found an address for the show’s production offices and sent a letter with a pair of photos of the vampire Mick St. James that she first became enthralled by, asking the actor if he would please choose his favorite and inscribe it to her. Months passed, I didn’t hear anything; I assumed the guy was busy, and eventually forgot about it.

Earlier this month, my wife stopped at the business box and brought home a priority mail envelope that appeared to have my own handwriting on the front…seemed a bit odd, until slowly the realization dawned and I carefully, hopefully, opened the envelope and discovered he had signed both photos to her.

I am no different than any other parent on the planet - perform a kindness for my child, and I am in your debt.

We gave the photos to her this morning, telling her this particular gift wasn’t really just from us, but from someone else very special. She opened the gift, immediately started to blush, and then looked at them again with her jaw slowly dropping. She started to say, over and over, “this is so COOL…” while I told her the story I’m telling you now. I’m thinking perhaps she forgave me some of the teasing I’ve done over the years…

I had offered to make a donation to any charity Mr. O’Loughlin might choose (I am somewhat uncomfortable asking “something for nothing”), and while there was no preference noted, a little research showed he has supported Donate Life, an organization dedicated to increasing the number of life-saving organs available for transplant. I hope he approves of this choice, and would suggest you take a look at their work should you be looking for an organization to support.

But I am in his debt. And yes, especially after seeing my daughter’s face this morning, he is indeed my hero.

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The West Wing Reunion on Funny or Die

Filed under: Television — Charlie Summers @ 2:11 pm

Look, I don’t spend a whole lot of time watching videos on-line…I admit it, most of them are a massive waste of time and I don’t have enough time left in my life to waste it that way, so Google’s Tube site isn’t one of my bookmarks. But this, folks, is not only legitimately funny, but services a great cause while getting together (or at least mostly together, as I suspect Sheen’s scenes were shot separately) a whole passel of peeps from one of my favorite series (at least the first few seasons before John Wells tanked the show). The first time I watched C.J. exasperate, “Oh, lord…” I almost wet myself.

Go ahead. Waste two-and-a-half minutes of your life watching this reunion video. Trust me…it’s worth it.

And before you ask, no, I don’t walk that much…lately I’ve only been walking a half-hour four times a week, not five. Gotta get on that…

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Jonathan Frid, actor in “Dark Shadows”, dies at 87

Filed under: General, Television — Charlie Summers @ 8:37 pm

From the Associated Press: Jonathan Frid, actor in “Dark Shadows”, dies at 87

From the article: “Frid died Friday of natural causes in a hospital in his home town of Hamilton, Ontario, said Jim Pierson, a friend and spokesman for Dan Curtis Productions, the creator of ‘Dark Shadows.’”

I met Mr. Frid once, many years ago; he was unassuming and kind, polite to a fault. He was gracious enough to sign the poster from my Dark Shadows soundtrack album, something I treasure. I truly despise the idea of Johnny Depp spitting on this show, just as he has already decimated Willy Wonka and will soon destruct The Lone Ranger; for all its many faults, it was one helluva soap opera. And while Mr. Frid is gone, with television reruns, DVDs, and whatever future media will exist, he will be almost as immortal as his character.

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Danger Mouse co-creator Mark Hall dies

Filed under: Television, News — Charlie Summers @ 2:14 pm

From BBC News: Danger Mouse co-creator Mark Hall dies

From the article: “Animator Mark Hall, co-founder of Cosgrove Hall, responsible for Chorlton and the Wheelies, Danger Mouse and The Wind in the Willows, has died of cancer at the age of 75.”

I simply love Danger Mouse. I know it’s stupid, I know the jokes are stupid, I know it’s nothing but a few minutes of silliness, but still, I love the show. Enough that when my wife calls my cell phone, the ringtone I use for her is the theme from Danger Mouse (before you ask, when Katie calls me my phone plays the theme from Police Squad). If you haven’t seen DM, find an episode (surely there’s one on Google’s Tube-thingie), sit back, and just let the goofiness wash over you like a cleansing rain.

“Caw! Crumbs, Chief!”

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To TV, or Not Two TVs…

Filed under: General, Television — Charlie Summers @ 3:27 pm

A while back, our living room rear-projector TV burned out a bulb; since the replacement bulb didn’t work, I’m assuming the bulb ballast board died, a non-trivial repair best left to a time when I’m not rushed dealing with other domestic and business stuff. So we’ve been watching on a largish 28″ tube set; at least when there’s electricity here at Chez Charlie. Until yesterday that is, when it started to flash on-and-off like some damaged neon sign.

No problem, thought I, and entered the black hole I laughingly refer to as a basement, arising with an old 19″ that has spent decades down there waiting for a time of need. As I turned it on and tuned it to the media player, I laughed with my daughter that if the screen sizes kept getting smaller, we’d soon be watching television on her netbook.

Laughing, that is, until a flutter, darkness, and the smell of ozone combined with burning insulation…

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University of Wisconsin–Stout has lost it’s collective mind

Filed under: Television, News — Charlie Summers @ 11:47 pm

Here’s an odd story; a drama professor at the University of Wisconsin–Stout tapes a poster of Firefly on his door, with Mal Reynolds looking tough, and the line from the pilot episode, “You don’t know me, son, so let me explain this to you once: If I ever kill you, you’ll be awake. You’ll be facing me. And you’ll be armed.” The “Chief of Police” (not a “real” one, understand, just the head of campus security with an ego-inflating title) rips the poster down because its implied violence is a threat to hearth and home,, and she threatens the professor with criminal charges (Huh?) if he replaces it. The drama professor decides to stick his metaphorical tongue out at the system by replacing it with a poster that says, “Warning: Fascism” and includes a cartoon image of a silhouetted police officer striking a civilian and the text, “Fascism can cause blunt head trauma and/or violent death. Keep fascism away from children and pets.”

So naturally the boss of the campus police-wannabe’s makes things worse by over-reacting again, and activating the, “threat assessment team” (Wisconsin a hotbed of terrorist threats requiring an assessment team? Really?) and again threatening the professor.

So the campus looks like it’s run by the Keystone Kops.

I urge you to read the entire sordid story at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education website. And here are my personal comments to University Chancellor Charles Sorensen; I hope he takes them to heart:

Look, I know I’m supposed to include the carefully-crafted form letter here, but let’s cut to the chase: do you realize how truly ridiculous your university looks to those of us outside it? I mean, I have known people from Wisconsin, and none of them have been over-reactive nincompoops as your “Chief of Police” clearly is. I mean, seriously, what’s next; removing any “Hang in there baby, Friday’s Coming!” posters because they promote cruelty to felines?

You really only have two choices; end this now by reigning in your chief campus cop, or back her and allow this idiotic incident to continue making it appear the University of Wisconsin–Stout is operated by a bunch of incompetents who have never heard of either the Constitution or educational freedom of thought and expression.

Seriously, give the guy back his poster and see if you can find something constructive for Ms. Walter to do with her time in the future, something better than ripping down posters of canceled television programs.

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“Ozzie and Harriet’s” David Nelson dies

Filed under: Old-Time Radio, Television — Charlie Summers @ 12:57 am

From Variety: ‘Ozzie and Harriet’s’ David Nelson

The article says, “Nelson was the last surviving member of the Nelsons TV family: actor-bandleader Ozzie; his singing wife, Harriet Hilliard; and his teen-idol younger brother, Rick. The show, which originated on radio in 1952 as ‘Here Come the Nelsons,’ ran for 320 episodes from 1952 to 1966 as ‘The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet’ on ABC. On the radio show, the boys were portrayed by pros, but they persuaded their parents to allow them to play themselves for the smallscreen.”

Is that last true? Were the boys never on the radio program?

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