Monthly Archives: January 2012

Today's Video Link

This is the big "group" number from ABC's 25th Anniversary Special back in 1978. It's great if you want to see a big mob of ABC stars who didn't particularly want to participate in this…or if you want to see John Wayne trying to sing. (Why is John Wayne there? Because some of his movies ran on ABC at some point, I suppose. Ed McMahon also participated, I guess because he was the announcer on Johnny Carson's ABC series eighteen years earlier.)

Nice to see folks I worked with on Krofft shows…like Debby Clinger, Louise DuArt and Billie Hayes. For some reason, Billie seems to be working a double act with Chuck Connors.

Anyway, give it a look. Few of the stars look like they're happy to be there…though I suspect they'd have been less happy not to be invited…

Holllywood Labor News

Ballots are going out to members of SAG (Screen Actors Guild) and AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) about a proposed merger of the two unions. Nearly everyone seems to think this is a good idea if not a necessity. Not everyone is convinced that the terms of the merger are good ones. You have two groups here with very different health plans and pension funds and dues structures and if you merge those, health insurance and pension plans change…and not everyone's will change for the better. Entrance requirements and dues will also change, going up for some and down for others.

There are solid reasons for the merger. Both unions used to negotiate in tandem but in the last strike, that pact crumbled and they separated. The result has been that AFTRA now undercuts SAG in almost every way, which displeases members of both unions. Something has to be done. I have no opinion on the terms of the merger; just that something of the sort needs to happen. My friends in SAG are grumbling a lot about what will happen to their health and pension plans as well as a few other things…but I think they're going to go along with it. To hang separately in the next contract negotiation would be worse.

Claim That Tune!

Newt Gingrich has received a cease-and-desist order regarding his usage of the song "How You Like Me Now?" He uses it in campaign appearances and may even be using it in commercials, and its publishers and composers object. The song was a big hit in '09 by a British band called The Heavy.

Is it my imagination or does this happen every single time a politician uses a recent hit song this way? Seems to me they never get the permission of the publisher or composer and the publisher and composer always object. Then the politician has to stop using the song because even if they have some legal "fair use" right, they don't want to be playing that tune while the composer is out there saying, "This guy is ripping us off and we hate him."

You'd think by now campaign managers would know enough to get permission. Or maybe they just plain don't care.

Great Photos of Stan Laurel and/or Oliver Hardy

Number one hundred and thirty-four in a series…

Recommended Reading

Who is Harry Kellerman Saul Alinsky and why is Newt Gingrich saying such terrible things about him? Frank Mankiewicz can answer that question.

Getting Clean

Folks who try to read this site via Google Reader are still encountering problems doing so as new entries I post here are not accessible there. In case anyone cares, here's what the problem is…

I had, you might recall, a spam/virus/mess here. Someone broke into my site last year and unbeknownst to me, installed two "hidden" websites in its bowels. One sold drugs to make one's sexual organs firmer. The other sold bogus Prada and Louis Vuitton purses. I was unaware either was present but Google's "spiders" crawled this site, found them and decided was a vendor of such illegalities. We were dropped from that all-powerful search engine.

I cleansed the site of the blight and installed new software and safeguards. I believe this site is spam-free…and parts of the vast Google empire concur and have relisted it. But other parts of Google haven't updated so they think the boner pill ads are still here when they aren't and won't let Google Reader read me. A fine friend named Glenn Hauman and I are attempting to solve this. Until we do, the problem will persist. If it persists for longer than four hours, call your doctor.

Where They Make The Comics

For most of the sixties, the offices of DC Comics were located at 575 Lexington Avenue in New York…and oh, how I recall that address from putting it on so many letters-to-the-editor I dispatched. I never visited that building. The first time I went to DC was in July of 1970 and by then, they'd moved to larger quarters at 909 Third Avenue. This relocation apparently occurred around the end of 1968 and had to do with not only a need for more space but the corporate acquisition and staff changes around that time.

Todd Klein never set foot in 575 Lexington either. Todd is, of course, the award-winning letterer. In fact, Todd's kind of the Meryl Streep of comic book letterers when it comes to snagging trophies. Anyway, on his blog, Todd has been compiling the memories of others about visiting DC back then and based on what I know, all the reminiscences sound valid except that given the number of editors and other staffers, I suspect the "from memory" floor plans are missing some rooms.

Wanna read this? It's in three parts. Here's a link to Part One, here's a link to Part Two and because I'm a generous guy, I'll even toss in a link to Part Three. Don't say I never gave you anything.

Today's Video Link

So…what would it feel like to be a piece of luggage flying Delta? The last time I flew Delta, I was treated like one but forget that for now. Let's watch a video of a flight from the POV of a suitcase…

Live! From Slate

Slate collects some great anecdotes and comments about Saturday Night Live over the years…and one or two are sad. Just about everything I read about Victoria Jackson is sad to me because I was friends with her once, back when she didn't think folks with my political views were the Tools of Satan or whatever we are to her now. She was a lovely, sweet talented lady back then.

Briefly Noted…

Earlier today, Albert Brooks tweeted…

Why the F are 911 calls public? Peoples worst moments of their lives should be their own.

I agree.

Great Photos of Stan Laurel and/or Oliver Hardy

Number one hundred and thirty-three in a series…

Tonight's Political Musing

Back when the O.J. Simpson murder case began to dominate the news, I made what turned out to be a smart decision. I make plenty of the other kind but I don't like to talk about them too often. In this case, I made one of the smart ones. I said to myself, "Self, this matter is going to go on for a long time. There will be books and specials and non-stop news coverage and they may even televise the trial and that could last a couple of months. If you start following it, you'll get hooked and you'll waste hundreds of hours of your life on it."

And I was right: I did waste a lot of hours of my life on it because I did find it fascinating and I did start watching specials and reading books…but I didn't waste as many as I could have. The smart thing I did was to join the proceedings late. I just didn't pay attention to the first few months of it. I was like a friend of mine who loves basketball but doesn't start watching most games until at least after Half-Time because, as he puts it, "That's a perfectly fine place to start watching."

I may not have enough sense to actually do this but I'm starting to feel this way about the presidential election.

Election day isn't until November 6. That's 284 days from now. I don't know about you but I can't take 284 days of this…and we aren't even to the point where I have a Republican ticket to root against. There have been years when there was a G.O.P. ticket that might have gotten my vote. In '88 if that George Bush had ditched Dan Quayle and the racist and dishonest "Willie Horton" ads, I might have gone that way. This year, I don't see any such possibilities on the horizon so for me, the decision process is effectively over.

But nine more months and ten days of this? Gingrich and Romney are throwing feces at each other — and if they'll do that to other Republicans, you can just imagine what they'll hurl at Obama when they have their entire party unified behind them and Fox News isn't still wondering who to take to the prom.

To unseat an incumbent, it's never enough to say, "I'd do a better job." It has to be, "If we don't get rid of him, the world will explode." No matter how much the economy and foreign relations might improve, we have to be told that Armageddon is at hand. Even if I had a dead-on, never-wrong crystal ball right now that could show me an Obama triumph, I'm not sure I can listen to the doom 'n' gloom forecasts 'til 11/6/12.

I'm also not sure it's humanly possible to ignore the circus when it comes to town — and it's here, defecating elephants and all.

Anyway, that's how I'm feeling about it tonight. Tomorrow, I may find myself enjoying the show. I just sometimes wish my TiVo had a "Skip ahead four months" button on it.

The Real Divine Ms. M


Here's an article about Mary Tyler Moore, who's about to receive the big award from the Screen Actors Guild. As I've mentioned here before, I had one of my first crushes as a lad on Ms. Moore. I still recall and tremble a bit at that first moment I saw her in person when I went to see The Dick Van Dyke Show being filmed. It wasn't just that she was there, right in front of me less than six feet away. It was the first time I saw her in color.

I've only met her once and in the grand tradition of Rob Petrie, I managed to be quite awkward and to actually step on her foot. I actually did that. Remember how in the flashback to how Rob and Laura first met and Rob stepped on her foot and broke it? Well, I stepped on Mary Tyler Moore's foot — though thankfully not enough to do any harm. It was at an in-house screening of a project I worked on for her company, MTM — an attempt to turn the character from Rhoda, Carlton the Doorman, into an animated superstar. When I tried to get a seat in the screening room, I had to squeeze past her to get to an empty one and — whoops! — right on her foot. I apologized for about the next ninety minutes, then I felt the need to apologize for apologizing so much.

Her body of work speaks for itself, of course, as does her wisdom in making (for the most part) pretty sound career choices. The Mary Tyler Moore Show worked in large part because Mary was willing to play straight for others on the show. She let Ted Knight be the funny one. She let Ed Asner be the funny one. She let Valerie Harper and Cloris Leachman be the funny ones and so on. I would guess that of shows that fail which have the star's name or character name in the title, a good 75% have crashed and burned because the star wanted to be the whole show. Some of them do this even when they know in their heads that it's wrong. You point out to them that Jack Benny let his supporting players shine, as did Andy Griffith and Mary Tyler Moore. No one was ever more successful than Jack Benny, Andy Griffith and Mary Tyler Moore. They acknowledge the truth of that, then they point to the script and ask, "How come this guy has more funny lines than me?" The few times Mary's ever failed — her variety show, for instance — I think the problem was that she or her managers forgot that.

I'm long over my crush on her. I think it ended around half past Julie Newmar. But I still have great admiration for Mary Tyler Moore. I would have told her that that day at the screening room if I hadn't stepped on her foot. (Thanks to Anand Kandaswamy for telling me about the article.)

Today's Video Link

Two weeks ago, we brought you a video of the wonderful Christine Pedi as Liza Minnelli. Here's the sequel…

Recommended Reading

Fred Kaplan, who may be the only person in America who actually reads our defense budget, says that the proposed cuts do not go far enough. When do they ever?