Friday, November 25, 2005

Arnold, It’s time to lock up.

Noriyuki "Pat" Morita
To a generation he was Mr. Miyagi, Daniel-san’s (Ralph Macchio) mentor in the The Karate Kid movies, but to me he will always be Arnold from Happy Days.

As a child Morita suffered from spinal tuberculosis and was told that he would never walk again. Thanks to an operation to fuse four vertebrae he was on his feet only to be sent with his family to a Japanese internment camp in Arizona during World War II. After all this hardship and suffering Pat Morita dedicated his life to making people laugh. After years of stand-up comedy in the early '60s known as "The Hip Nip" and roles in film and television Morita landed his breakthrough role as the 50's drive-in owner Matsuo "Arnold" Takahashi.

I was trying to think of an Arnold quote, but Arnold’s best lines were either in Japanese or sound effects. To quote Pat Morita, "Only in America could you get away with the kind of comedy I did".

Good Night Mr. Morita. I will always remember you as a source of laughter and inspiration.

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Good Luck Ted

Ted Koppel

"Trust me, the transition from one anchor to another is not that big a deal," said Koppel. "[Walter] Cronkite begat [Dan] Rather, [John] Chancellor begat [Tom] Brokaw, [Frank] Reynolds begat [Peter] Jennings. And each of them did a pretty fair job in his own right.
"You've always been very nice to me, so give this new anchor team for 'Nightline' a fair break. If you don't, I promise you, the network will just put another comedy show in this time slot,"

Ted Koppel
November 22, 2005

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Ralph Edwards, "This Is Your Life"

Ralph Edwards

Long before people got Punk'd there was Truth or Consequences. Before there was Entertainment Tonight or Biography there was This Is Your Life. These shows were created and hosted (originally for radio) by broadcasting pioneer Ralph Edwards. Ralph Edwards also earned a special place in broadcasting history in 1950 when as a publicity stunt he offered nationwide publicity to any city that would change its name to "Truth or Consequences" In a vote, a majority of the citizens of Hot Springs New Mexico changed their name. Mr. Edwards was also well-known for his extensive charitable and philanthropic activities as well as being one of TV's most prolific producers. On a personal note, my wife Donna had the pleasure of working for Mr. Edwards on The New Truth and Consequences and found him to be a class act.

Good Night Mr. Edwards and enjoy your gala reception in the Blossom Room of the Roosevelt hotel.

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Today in TV History

On November 13th Felix Unger was asked to remove himself from his place of residence.
That request came from his wife.

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Friday, November 11, 2005

The West Wing LIVE (Click PODCAST)

I hate being sick. A few days ago I caught a bug that left me bedridden for a few days. There were times when I barely had the strength to change the channel. Then I would find something interesting to watch like a documentary on the History Channel and I would fall fast asleep. Most of the weekend was spent watching the What's Happening!! marathon on TV Land. So you can imagine I was in need of some intelligent television.

Last Sunday at 8 PM The West Wing aired a live episode. This was a big deal. My wife Donna and I love the excitement of a live TV broadcast. Could something go wrong, be it a human or technical error? At one time all TV was live. I remember seeing live plays being broadcast on network TV. ER did a live show a few years ago, the sitcom Roc did a whole season of live episodes. Today many reality shows like to have live finales.

I have been a fan of The West Wing since the show first aired. I know that my top ten list of reasons why I love the show are the same reasons why other people hate the show. Even with changes in front of and behind the camera the show continues to set a standard of TV excellence. These past two seasons have brought more changes. New characters are coming in and familiar faces will soon be leaving. With the election story line either Congressman Matthew Santos (Jimmy Smits) or Senator Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda) will be the new president (I'm hoping for Santos).

When a show is done well I am willing suspend disbelief. A pro-life Republican candidate? A debate where the candidates throw the rules out the window? Maybe this is something we'd like to see in real world politics.

Vinick: When the greatest hero in the history of my party, Abraham Lincoln, debated, he didn't need any rules, we could junk the rules.

Santos: OK, let's have a real debate.

While Ellen DeGeneres was trying to get me to ruin my credit rating by getting me to sign up for the new American Express One card. I told my wife that I love to see intelligent dialogue over car crashes. She pointed out that other people would be turned off by the show for the same reason. I hope that viewers who share my opinion are in the majority and I think they are. After the fictional election is over and a new fictional president is sworn in, I hope that viewers stay tuned and in a few years we will debate who was the better West Wing president Bartlet (Martin Sheen) or TBD? At the end of the day The West Wing’s greatest legacy will not be it’s Emmys or SAG Awards, but the fact that the show got real people talking about real politics.

I'd like to see The West Wing do another live show soon. Perhaps an election eve show that also features Tim Russert with his dry erase boards.

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Happy Anniversary Days of our Lives (Click PODCAST)

My mom was concerned by what she considered an obsession in the way I devoured the TV Guide fall preview issue (This was before TV Guide was an entertainment magazine). Now if I went through the TV Guide with a highlighter, that would be obsessive. But I did my best to see all the new shows every fall and see if they were worth watching. I was firm but fair in my evaluation. I knew better than to judge a show by it's pilot. Even though there were only three networks, this was not an easy thing to do since there were no VCRs. If you were not home when your program was on you missed it. We couldn't go online to find out what happened or pay $1.99 to have the episode downloaded on our iPod. Just like if the phone rang and no one was home, the call went unanswered. Archaic! Mom saw my relationship with TV as an addiction, but did she help me? Did she find a 12-step program? The Betty Ruble Center? No, she exploited what she saw as my addiction.

It’s the summer of 1983, I was home from school but Mom was doing some volunteer work in the afternoons, meaning she would be missing Days of our Lives. So she asked me to watch the show for her, then tell her what happened. Remember there were no VCRs. It seemed simple enough. She’d come home and I’d say, " The guy with the beard has the hots for that girl with the big boobs. Everyone is wondering if this guy I think his name is "Cirano?" is really dead even though he was cremated. Soon it became, "Bo (Peter Reckell) expressed his feelings to Hope (Kristian Alfonso) and Stefano (Joseph Mascolo) faked his death by having some John Doe in the morgue cremated in his place". By the time summer was over and Mom was done with her volunteer work, I was hooked on Days of our Lives.

I never felt insecure in my manhood being a Soap Opera fan because Los Angeles Dodger's manager Tommy Lasorta confessed that he hated away games because it caused him to miss Days of our Lives.

In college I bought my first VCR before I bought my first textbook so I wouldn’t miss the show. While working as a Universal Studios Tour guide I met a coworker who had a recurring part on the show as a nurse. I used the show as an icebreaker. Long story short, I married her. It's a mixed marriage, she's an All My Children fan. Every Wednesday I attend a story telling group in Los Angeles called STORY SALON. One of the storytellers there is an actress named Marsha Clark, who also plays the no nonsense judge, Karen Fitzpatrick on DAYS. I started to talk to her about the show's serial killer story line where half the town was murdered by Dr. Marlena Evens (Deidre Hall). She must have thought this guy is nuts, don’t make eye contact.

It’s 22 years later, Bo still loves Hope and everyone is sure that Stefano is really dead this time. I know better.

When all else fails, blame Mom.

To quote Macdonald Carey (Dr. Tom Horton), "Like sands through the hourglass... so are the Days of our Lives".

Happy 40th, have you had work done?

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa