Monday, February 22, 2010

This week in Television History: February 2010 Part IV

Listen to me on TV CONFIDENTIAL with Ed Robertson and Frankie Montiforte Broadcast LIVE every other Monday at 9pm ET, 6pm PT (immediately following STU'S SHOW) on Shokus Internet Radio. The program will then be repeated Tuesday thru Sunday at the same time (9pm ET, 6pm PT)on Shokus Radio for the next two weeks, and then will be posted on line at our archives page at We are also on Share-a-Vision Radio ( Friday at 7pm PT and ET, either before or after the DUSTY RECORDS show, depending on where you live.

As always, the further we go back in Hollywood history, the more that fact and legend become intertwined. It's hard to say where the truth really lies.

February 23, 1997
Schindler's List is shown on NBC, the first network to broadcast a movie without commercial interruption. Ford Motor Company, which sponsored the broadcast, showed one commercial before and after the film.

The 1993 film about German factory owner Oskar Schindler, who saved the lives of Jewish workers in his factory during World War II, was Spielberg's most ambitious movie to date. The picture, filmed in black and white, won Spielberg his first Academy Award as Best Director, and it also garnered Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay awards. The film's screenplay, by Thomas Keneally and Steven Zallian, was adapted from Keneally's novel, Schindler's Ark, published in 1982.
Spielberg started making amateur films in his teens, and by the late 1970s he had become heavily involved in production and scriptwriting. He gained fame early in his career for directing such blockbusters as Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., Poltergeist, and a string of other phenomenal successes. He established his own independent production company, Amblin' Entertainment, in 1984, where he produced Gremlins, Back to the Future, Arachnophobia, Cape Fear, and more. In 1994, he formed DreamWorks SKG with Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen, and the following year the trio announced a partnership with Microsoft Corporation, called DreamWorks Interactive, which produced interactive games and teaching tools. Just months before he released Schindler's List, Spielberg released Jurassic Park, which featured computer-generated dinosaurs that took the world by storm. He won his second Academy Award for Best Director in 1999 for Saving Private Ryan. Virtually all of Spielberg's films have been box office smashes.

February 24, 1980
The U.S. Hockey Team won its “Do you believe in miracles?” gold medal during the
1980 Olympic Winter Games beating Finland (4-2) in their final medal round game. The Soviet Union took the Silver Medal by beating Sweden in their final game. Sweden took home the Bronze Medal, with Finland finishing fourth.

Two days prior on February 22, 1980 was the "Miracle on Ice". The U.S. men's
ice hockey team, led by coach Herb Brooks, defeated the Soviet Union team, 4 - 3. The Soviet Union team, who were considered to be the best international hockey team in the world, they entered the Olympic tournament as heavy favorites, having won every ice hockey gold medal since 1964, and all but one gold medal since 1956. On February 9, the American and Soviet teams met for an exhibition match at Madison Square Garden in order to practice for the upcoming competition. The Soviet Union won (10-3) so the odds were in favor of the Russians.

The day before the match, columnist
Dave Anderson wrote in the New York Times, "Unless the ice melts, or unless the United States team or another team performs a miracle, as did the American squad in 1960, the Russians are expected to easily win the Olympic gold medal for the sixth time in the last seven tournaments."

The game ended with Al Michaels delivering the most famous call in Hockey history, "Eleven seconds, you've got ten seconds, the countdown going on right now! Morrow, up to Silk...five seconds left in the game... Do you believe in miracles? YES!!!"

Though the Olympic Games are supposed to be an arena free of politics the Soviet and American teams were long time rivals due to the
Cold War.
President Jimmy Carter was considering a U.S. boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics, to bheld in Moscow out of protest to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. President Carter eventually confirmed the boycott on March 21, 1980.

At the same time there was another international drama playing out. Despite President Carter’s initial refusal to admit the Shah of Iran into the United States, on October 22, 1979, he finally granted the Shah entry and temporary
asylum for the duration of his cancer treatment. In response to the Shah's entry into the U.S., Iranian militants seized the American embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage for 444 days from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981.
The "Miracle on Ice" was a shot in the country’s morale during a time of great uncertainty.

February 25, 1928
The Federal Radio Commission issues the first television license.
The license went to the Charles Francis Jenkins Laboratories for a television broadcast station on Connecticut Avenue in Washington, D.C. The station later moved to Maryland and operated until 1932.
Government regulation of broadcasting has been in existence almost as long as the broadcast industry itself. The Wireless Act of 1910 required American ships to carry a broadcasting transmitter and qualified radio operator on all sea voyages. In the early 1920s, laws were passed governing transmission power, use of frequencies, station identification, and advertising. The Radio Act of 1927 shifted regulatory powers from the Department of Commerce to the new Federal Radio Commission, which became the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1934.
Today, the FCC still regulates broadcasting and communications. The U.S. president appoints its five commissioners with the Senate's consent. The commission licenses and regulates radio and TV broadcasters as well as other communications mediums, such as telephone and cable television. It assigns frequencies and call signs to radio stations and is responsible for ensuring rapid, efficient telephone and telegraph service. The FCC also operates the Emergency Broadcast System, which provides a vehicle for authorities to communicate with the public and disseminate critical information immediately when national disaster strikes (though the system can also be used to broadcast weather warnings and local emergencies).
More expansive policy issues under the purview of the commission include deciding how much sex and violence is permissible on television. Deregulation of the industry in the 1980s reduced the FCC's size from seven to five commissioners and increased the term of radio and television station licenses. In the 1990s, the FCC developed a television rating system, much like the one used in movies, which helps people decide which shows are appropriate for the viewers in their household.

February 25, 1950
Comedy program Your Show of Shows, hosted by Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca, first airs. Although the show lasted only four seasons, it became a classic of television's golden era, featuring comedy by future stars Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Woody Allen, and others. The series was one of television's Top 20 hits for three of its four years.

February 27, 2003
Children’s Television Host Fred Rogers succumbs to stomach cancer at 74. The talented writer and puppeteer, known to generations of children simply as “Mr. Rogers,” hosted Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood on public television for more than 30 years.
A native of Latrobe, Pennsylvania, Rogers filmed the famed show in Pittsburgh, 30 miles east of his hometown. He studied early childhood development at the University of Pittsburgh and, in 1962, was ordained as Presbyterian minister with a mission to work with children and families through television. Beginning in 1954, he worked as a puppeteer on a show called The Children’s Corner, before beginning work on his own show, which first aired in 1968.
Singing his well-known theme song, “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” Rogers would enter his living-room-like set at the beginning of each episode, changing his shoes and sweater. He would then take his viewers on a magical trolley ride to the “Neighborhood of Make-Believe,” where he introduced them to characters such as King Friday XIII, his wife Queen Sara Saturday, Curious X the Owl, and Henrietta Pussycat. Even in an era of slick packaging and new technology in children’s programming, Rogers found continued success by sticking to his original message—that children should love each other and themselves. He aimed to help children deal with troubling emotions, like fear and anger, as well as everyday problems, like visiting the dentist.
Rogers composed most of his show’s songs and did much of the puppeteering and voices himself. Despite countless awards and honors, including four Emmys® and a George Foster Peabody Award, Rogers once remarked, “I have never really considered myself a TV star. I always thought I was neighbor who just came in for a visit.” He taped his last show in December 2000, but came out of retirement briefly to film public service announcements helping parents and children deal with the September 11th tragedy. One of Rogers’ trademark red sweaters now hangs in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

February 28, 1983
Last episode of M*A*S*H airs. M*A*S*H, the cynical situation comedy about doctors behind the front lines of the Korean War, airs its final episode after 11 seasons.

The last episode drew 77 percent of the television viewing audience, the largest audience ever to watch a single TV show up to that time.

To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was".

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa
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