Monday, May 31, 2010

This week in Television History: June 2010 Part I

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.

May 31, 1930
Clint Eastwood is born in San Francisco, California.
With his father, Eastwood wandered the West Coast as a boy during the Depression. Then, after four years in the Army Special Services, Eastwood went to Hollywood, where he got his start in a string of B-movies.

For eight years, Eastwood played Rowdy Yates in the popular TV Western series Rawhide, before emerging as a leading man in a string of low-budget “spaghetti” Westerns directed by Sergio Leone: Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). All three were successful, but Eastwood made his real breakthrough with 1971’s smash hit Dirty Harry, directed by Don Siegel. Though he was not the first choice to play the film’s title role--Frank Sinatra, Steve McQueen and Paul Newman all reportedly declined the part--Eastwood made it his own, turning the blunt, cynical Dirty Harry into an iconic figure in American film.
Also in 1971, Eastwood moved behind the camera, making his directorial debut with the thriller Play Misty for Me, the first offering from his production company, Malpaso. Over the next two decades, he turned in solid performances in films such as The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), Every Which Way But Loose (1978), Escape From Alcatraz (1979) and Honkytonk Man (1982), but seemed to be losing his star power for lack of a truly great film. By the end of the 1980s, after four Dirty Harry sequels, released from 1973 to 1988, Eastwood was poised to escape the character’s shadow and emerge as one of Hollywood’s most successful actor-turned-directors. In 1992, he hit the jackpot when he starred in, directed and produced the darkly unconventional Western Unforgiven. The film won four Oscars, including Best Supporting Actor (Gene Hackman), Best Film Editing, Best Director and Best Picture, both for Eastwood. He also found box-office success as a late-in-life action and romantic hero, in In the Line of Fire (1993) and The Bridges of Madison County (1995), respectively.
As a director, Eastwood worked steadily over the next decade, making such films as Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997), Absolute Power (1997) and, most notably, the crime drama Mystic River (2003), for which he was again nominated for the Best Director Oscar. The following year, he hit a grand slam with Million Dollar Baby, in which he also starred as the curmudgeonly coach of a determined young female boxer (Hilary Swank, in her second Oscar-winning performance). In addition to Swank’s Academy Award for Best Actress, the film won Oscars for Best Supporting Actor (Morgan Freeman) and Eastwood’s second set of statuettes for Best Director and Best Picture.
In 2006, Eastwood became only the 31st filmmaker in 70 years to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Directors Guild of America (DGA). That year, he directed a pair of World War II-themed movies, Flags of Our Fathers (2006) and Letters from Iwo Jima (2006). The latter film, which featured an almost exclusively Japanese cast, earned an Oscar nomination for Best Picture and a fourth Best Director nomination for Eastwood (his 10th nomination overall).
Off-screen, Eastwood has pursued an interest in politics, serving as mayor of Carmel, California, from 1986 to 1988. He was married to Maggie Johnson in 1953, and the couple had two children, Kyle and Alison (who co-starred in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil), before separating in 1978 and divorcing in 1984. Eastwood also had long-term relationships with the actresses Sondra Locke and Frances Fisher (with whom he had a daughter, Francesca). He married his second wife, Dina Ruiz Eastwood, in 1996. Their daughter, Morgan, was born that same year.

Jun 1, 1980
CNN (Cable News Network), the world's first 24-hour television news network, makes its debut.

The network signed on at 6 p.m. EST from its headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, with a lead story about the attempted assassination of civil rights leader Vernon Jordan. CNN went on to change the notion that news could only be reported at fixed times throughout the day. At the time of CNN's launch, TV news was dominated by three major networks--ABC, CBS and NBC--and their nightly 30-minute broadcasts. Initially available in less than two million U.S. homes, today CNN is seen in more than 89 million American households and over 160 million homes internationally.
CNN was the brainchild of Robert "Ted" Turner, a colorful, outspoken businessman dubbed the "Mouth of the South." Turner was born on November 19, 1938, in Cincinnati, Ohio, and as a child moved with his family to Georgia, where his father ran a successful billboard advertising company. After his father committed suicide in 1963, Turner took over the business and expanded it. In 1970, he bought a failing Atlanta TV station that broadcast old movies and network reruns and within a few years Turner had transformed it into a "superstation," a concept he pioneered, in which the station was beamed by satellite into homes across the country. Turner later bought the Atlanta Braves baseball team and the Atlanta Hawks basketball team and aired their games on his network, TBS (Turner Broadcasting System). In 1977, Turner gained international fame when he sailed his yacht to victory in the prestigious America's Cup race.
In its first years of operation, CNN lost money and was ridiculed as the Chicken Noodle Network. However, Turner continued to invest in building up the network's news bureaus around the world and in 1983, he bought Satellite News Channel, owned in part by ABC, and thereby eliminated CNN's main competitor. CNN eventually came to be known for covering live events around the world as they happened, often beating the major networks to the punch. The network gained significant traction with its live coverage of the Persian Gulf War in 1991 and the network's audience grew along with the increasing popularity of cable television during the 1990s.
In 1996, CNN merged with Time Warner, which merged with America Online four years later. Today, Ted Turner is an environmentalist and peace activist whose philanthropic efforts include a 1997 gift of $1 billion to the United Nations.

June 5, 1954
Your Show of Shows final episode.

The comic variety show featuring Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca launched in 1950. Other featured performers were Carl Reiner, Howard Morris, Nanette Fabray, Bill Hayes, Judy Johnson, The Hamilton Trio and the soprano Marguerite Piazza. The show was created by Sylvester Weaver and directed by Max Liebman. Writers for the show included Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Danny Simon, Larry Gelbart, Mel Tolkin, and Carl Reiner. For three of its four years, it ranked as one of the Top 20 most highly rated shows. In 1952, the program won the Best Show Emmy Award.

Jun 6, 1998
Sex and the City premieres on HBO.

The show’s creator, Darren Star, was best known at the time for producing the long-running Fox TV series Beverly Hills, 90210, and its spin-off, Melrose Place. For Sex and the City, Star switched coasts, loosely adapting a book by the same name by Candace Bushnell, compiled from a number of her columns for The New York Observer. In the pilot, Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), who authors a similar newspaper column for the fictional New York City Star, and her three friends--Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon)--discuss the issue of whether women are capable of having sex like men. Carrie also has an embarrassing first run-in with Mr. Big (Chris Noth), with whom she will begin a tumultuous relationship that will last the length of the series.
Sex and the City didn’t really break out with fans until the second season, when the format of the show changed a bit: Carrie stopped addressing the camera directly, and simply provided a voice-over narration, and the man-on-the-street-type testimonials by different characters were largely omitted. The main premise--that each episode provides fodder for one of Carrie’s columns, each of which features a different question about sex, love and relationships--remained constant throughout the show, as did the unusually frank discussion and portrayal of sex that became the show’s hallmark.
At the Emmy Awards, Sex and the City was nominated in the category of Outstanding Comedy Series in each of its six seasons; it won the award in 2001. In 2004, Parker collected an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, while Cynthia Nixon triumphed in the supporting category. To win, Nixon beat out co-stars Davis and Cattrall, who had been nominated in five out of the six seasons of the show’s run. Cattrall and Parker both took home Golden Globe Awards for their performances as well, and the show received three Globes for Best TV Series - Musical or Comedy.
As soon as the series wrapped up in 2004, buzz began about a possible big-screen adaptation. Though the project stalled due to questions over money and Cattrall’s reported reluctance to sign on to the project, the plans finally came to fruition in late May 2008, when Sex and the City: The Movie was released to mixed reviews but great box-office success, including a $55.7 million opening weekend haul. As with the series, Parker served as an executive producer for the movie, which was written and directed by Michael Patrick King.

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

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

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