500 channels and nothin’ but the same two guys on

It made my heart so happy  (in a fake Kelly Ripa way) that Kelly Ripa decided to replace one overexposed co-host (looking at you, Michael Strahan) with another overexposed co-host (Seacrest…in).

[Sidebar topic: Kelly Ripa is the black widow of TV hosts – discuss amongst yourselves.]

Seriously, are Strahan and Seacrest on a not-so-secret mission to take over every airwave that exists? Michael Strahan is a host on Good Morning America, and an analyst for FOX NFL games, and hosted the reboot of $100,000 Pyramid. Before he got the heave-ho from Kelly, he was basically on the air about 12 hours of every day. And Seacrest covered the other 12, with American Idol, E! News, all those E! red carpet shows, the annual New Years Rockin’ Eve… in addition to his daily four hour radio show and the weekly American Top 40 countdown. I hope they own stock in 5-hour Energy.

Actually, I kinda hope they get laryngitis.

I’m not a regular viewer/listener to any of the shows listed above — in fact I barely watch any TV at all — but even I can’t escape the two-headed host-beast named Stracrest.

All that on-air time must be cutting into their prep time:

The Boss was right.

 

 

 

Remember when May 4th was just a regular day?

I miss those times. (Sigh)

May 4 has nothing to do with Star Wars, other than sounding like the start of a famous line from the movie… if Obi-Wan Kenobi and friends had just had some dental work done, perhaps.

Or did I miss the sequel that starred Mike Tyson and/or Sylvester the Cat?

But now “May the Fourth” is a thing, apparently, complete with its very own novelty t-shirt.

I have only seen the first Star Wars (I know, it’s Episode 4, back off nerds) so excuse me while I go to sleep.

But please wake me in time for Cinco de Mayo.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Earth Day to You

Hey, it’s Earth Day, the one day out of 365 (or 366) that we actually give a damn about the planet we all share. Each year is the hottest on record. Smog is getting smoggier. Rains are turning to floods. Earthquakes are a fracking nightmare. A 94-year-old engineer may be our last hope.

OK, maybe I’m being overly dramatic. But I’m also being overly Dramarama…

What Are We Gonna Do? – Dramarama from Damian John Spooner – Upton on Vimeo.

What are we gonna do? Here are some ideas.

Happy Birthday, Planet Earth!

Dog days

You know that:

A. You’re of a certain age AND

B. you watched too much Saturday morning TV

If every time you see a German Shepherd dog, you think of Run, Joe, Run.

RJR (as we true fans call it), was a live-action Saturday morning show that ran from ’74 until ’76. The premise was… interesting…

[opening narration] WANTED: Male German Shepherd, Black And Tan. Answers to the name of Joe. Accused of attacking his trainer, Sgt. Will Corey. A crime he did not commit. Only Corey can prove him innocent, but he must find Joe before his pursuers track him down.

So basically the show was The Fugitive as played by a dog. (Fun fact: the narrator was Paul Frees, a voice actor who also played Boris Badenov, Burgermeister Meisterburger and The Pillsbury Doughboy.)

Thank goodness the description told us the German Shepherd’s colors, “black and tan” or else we would’ve wasted a lot of time tracking down all those purple German Shepherds.

Poor Joe was misunderstood, and always got in trouble when he was just trying to help. Like in this episode with Kristy McNichol. He gives a toddler  her milk bottle and chases a fox out of the chicken cage, and gets nothing but grief for it. (Also worth noting that Sgt. Will Corey had a car phone waaay before anyone else did.)

You’d think a single dog was OJ Simpson in a White Bronco the way he was chased by so many authorities. Guess that $200 bounty went a lot further in the 70s.

Read more about RJR here.

 

Where’s the funny?

I recently watched the new Amy Schumer stand-up comedy special on Netflix.

I was completely underwhelmed. A lot of empty calories, and very few laughs, or even giggles or smiles. Netflix really should change the summary to “Amy Schumer riffs on sex and bodily functions” because that was 99% of her routine. I’m sure some folks will find that amusing, but it certainly isn’t very creative.

I loved Richard Pryor, and he could be filthy, but a lot of his bits were both profane AND profound. Listen to this less-than-two-minute clip of Pryor’s bit on black males and cops… it’s from 1974 but it could have been written yesterday (sadly). There are more laughs in that bit than in the entire hour-long Schumer special.

Guess I should’ve watched the Mystery Science Theater 3000 reboot instead. Or perhaps not.

Going, going… Gong!

Chuck Barris, the creator and host of one of my favorite childhood shows, The Gong Show, passed away a couple of weeks ago. The Gong Show was unlike anything else on TV back then, and I loved the complete wackiness of the entire thing. It was like a sideshow version of America’s Got Talent. Amateurs would perform all sorts of weird vaudeville-style acts (or “stuff” as Chuck would call it), and three celebrity judges (a roster that included Jaye P. Morgan, Rex Reed, Rip Taylor, Jamie Farr, Arte Johnson and David Letterman) could either hit a giant gong to end the awfulness, or give the acts a score if they liked them.

  

Chuck didn’t fit the mold of a classic game show host – he wore wacky hats, cracked up instead of staying in character, brought out stagehands to dance… he was in on the joke and brought us along for the ride.

Barris’ original idea had been to create a show that featured fine performers, but in his search for talent, he frequently encountered awful acts. “I came back and said, ‘Let’s change the show, have all bad acts and one or two good ones, and people can make a judgment,’ ” he said in a 2010 interview with The Archive of American Television.

“Everybody could relate to somebody wearing a lampshade and dancing around,” Barris said. “Bad acts are inherent in everyone.”

[from this obit in The Hollywood Reporter – well worth a read]

Chuck also boosted the careers of folks like composer Danny Elfman (as part of Oingo Boingo), Paul “Pee Wee Herman” Reubens and The Unknown Comic.

 

Chuck seemed a bit crazy, and he probably was (later he wrote a book Confessions of a Dangerous Mind where he claimed to be a CIA assassin). But he was crazy like a fox. He wrote a hit song in 1962, “Palisades Park” (a now-defunct amusement park that was close to my birthplace of Jersey City, NJ).

He was the creator of two other classic game shows, The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game. He wrote two bestselling books, and was a pioneer of first-run syndication, selling The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game to TV stations after ABC cancelled them. In 1986 he sold his shares in Chuck Barris Productions for a cool $86 million. So he was dancing all the way to the bank.

So long, Chuck, and thanks for all the great stuff!

 

 

 

 

Rock & Roll Never Forgets… or does it?

Here’s a great article on NPR about Bob Seger’s presence (or lack thereof) in the age of digital music.

His influence appears to be diminishing (along with his sales and airplay) and his legacy is losing a bit of luster because you can’t find many of his albums and/or songs on digital and streaming platforms. So he’s missing out on a chance to gain new fans.

I found the article fascinating… and I was also fascinated by the fact that it was written by Tim Quirk, who was the lead singer of the band Too Much Joy, a group I remember from my early 90s days at 97X, mostly for their fun (and funny) songs like “Long Haired Guys from England” and “That’s a Lie.”

Check out the article. Then check your dad’s record collection for some vintage Seger.

 

 

 

 

X Marches On!

My beloved Xavier Musketeers pulled off another upset last night (actually one a.m. this morning for most of us), rallying from 8 down in the second half to knock off #2 seed Arizona, 73-71.

Speaking of Bill Murray, his son Luke is an assistant coach for XU, and Bill has attended every tourney game, cheering on the Muskies. After they won last night, Bill celebrated by giving a good-natured “noogie” to the elderly woman in front of him…

That woman happens to be a nun – Sister Rose Ann Fleming, who as the longtime academic advisor to Xavier athletes, has as much to do with their success in the classroom as the coaches have to do with their success on the court.

Xavier has graduated every senior men’s b-ball player since 1986. (That’s the year I graduated… concidence? I think not!)

After the game, Bill Murray summed up how the game played out very well.

Beating Arizona in the Sweet 16 was pretty sweet too. Their coach, Sean Miller, left Xavier for Arizona several seasons ago. He was, and still is, a fantastic coach, and I have a ton of respect for him. Xavier coach Chris Mack was an assistant under Miller and they are great friends. Mack was less than thrilled about having to face his mentor for the 2nd time in 3 years:

But there’s one comment Sean Miller made that sticks in the craw of many XU fans. After he left Xavier for Arizona, he told a recruit it was like going from a Buick to a Lexus. Grandma has a message for him:

Now Xavier plays Gonzaga in the Elite 8. Two small Jesuit schools that have had great basketball programs for the past couple of decades… and one of them will finally reach the Final Four for the first time. So either way, I’ll be happy, but I’ll be happier if X marks the spot.

 

I don’t know why they call it “March Madness”

Taking two days off work and setting up 4 TVs (and a laptop) in your living room to binge watch college basketball games for 12 hours straight each day sounds perfectly sane to me.

Just remember to root for the team favored by award-winning actors everywhere:

So far, so good…

 

 

And the Oscar goes to… the typography guy

Yes, there was a colossal screw-up at the Academy Awards last Sunday. And the main reason was the fact that Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were given the wrong envelope. But a gentleman named Benjamin Bannister pointed out that a change in typography might’ve helped prevent the snafu. You can read his entire “Why Typography Matters–Especially at the Oscars” column here.

Simply by rearranging the words on the card to create a better “priority of communication” and giving more visual weight to the key words, it would’ve been much more clear that Beatty and Dunaway had the wrong card.

You could tell that Warren Beatty knew something wasn’t quite right, but with “best actress” buried at the bottom in tiny type, it was certainly an honest mistake for Faye Dunaway to call “La La Land” up to the stage.

I think Benjamin Bannister deserves a lifetime achievement award… and the old typography should only show up in next year’s Academy Awards show in the “In Memoriam” segment.