Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Paul Johnson

Southern California lost a pioneer in broadcasting when NBC4 Today in L.A. morning traffic reporter Paul Johnson died last night at the age of 75. The well-known and well-liked baritone-voiced Paul underwent brain surgery in January and remained off air while recovering.

Johnson has been a part of NBC4's on-air team since August 1988. During his tenure, he served as both a weather and traffic report contributor.

Before joining Metro Traffic in August 1982, Johnson spent more than eight years with Capital Cities, leaving a position as program director for WJR-FM in Detroit. He has also reported traffic conditions for several Los Angeles radio stations, including KNX, KZLA, KACE, KXEZ and KSRF.
Johnson's extensive broadcast career included positions at several local radio stations, including KZLA/KPOL from 1975 to 1983, KFAC in 1974 where he was a news reporter, KUTE from 1972 to 1973 and KIIS-FM from 1969 to 1972, where he was an on-air personality. In addition, Johnson appeared in the motion picture Paint Your Wagon, on stage in several opera productions, and in numerous television commercials.
He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in law from Glendale University and studied music and drama at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn.

To Quote Paul Johnson, "Buckle up, be careful out there".

Good Night Mr. Johnson.
I wish you Blue Skys and Green Lights.

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Monday, June 28, 2010

This week in Television History: June 2010 Part V

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.

June 28, 1975
Rod Serling dies at age 50 after open-heart surgery.
Born in 1924 in Syracuse, New York, Serling became one of early television's most successful writers, best known for the anthology series The Twilight Zone, which he created, wrote, and hosted.

In 1959, CBS aired the first episode of The Twilight Zone. Serling fought hard for creative control, hiring writers he respected (such as Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont) and launched himself into weekly television. He stated in an interview that the science fiction format would not be controversial and would escape censorship unlike the earlier Playhouse 90. In reality the show gave him the opportunity to communicate social messages in a more veiled context.
Serling drew on his own experiences for many episodes, with frequent stories about boxing, military life and aircraft pilots, which integrated his firsthand knowledge. The series also incorporated Serling's progressive social views on racial relations and the like, which were somewhat veiled by the science fiction and fantasy elements of the shows. Occasionally, however, Serling could be quite blunt, as in the episode "I Am The Night — Color Me Black", where racism and hatred causes a dark cloud to form in the American South before eventually spreading elsewhere. Serling was also progressive on matters of gender, with many stories featuring quick-thinking, resilient women, although he also wrote stories featuring shrewish, nagging wives.
The show lasted five seasons (four using a half-hour format, with one half-season using an hour-long format), winning awards and critical acclaim for Serling and his staff. While having a loyal fan base, the program never had huge ratings and was twice canceled, only to be revived. After five years and 156 episodes, 92 of them written by Serling himself, he wearied of the show. In 1964, he decided to let the third cancellation be final.
Serling sold his rights to the series to CBS. His wife later claimed that he did this partly because he believed the studio would never recoup the cost of the show, which frequently went over budget.
In 1969, NBC aired a Serling-penned pilot for a new series, Night Gallery. Set in a dimly lit museum which was open after hours, the pilot film featured Serling (as on-camera host) playing the part of curator introducing three tales of the macabre, unveiling canvases that would appear in the subsequent story segments (its brief first season rotated as one spoke of a four-series programming wheel titled Four in One), focused more on gothic horror and the occult than did The Twilight Zone. Serling, no longer wanting the burden of an executive position, sidestepped an offer to retain creative control of content—a decision he would come to regret. Although discontented with some of producer Jack Laird's script and creative choices, Serling maintained a stream of creative submissions and ultimately wrote over a third of the series' scripts. By season three however, Serling began to see many of his script contributions rejected. With his complaints ignored, the disgruntled host dismissed the show as "Mannix in a cemetery". Night Gallery lasted until 1973.
Subsequent to The Twilight Zone, Serling moved onto cinema screens and continued to write for television. In 1964, he scripted Carol for Another Christmas, a television adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. It was telecast only once, December 28, 1964, on ABC. On May 25, 1962, Serling guest starred in the episode "The Celebrity" of the CBS sitcom Ichabod and Me with Robert Sterling and George Chandler.
He wrote a number of screenplays with a political focus, including Seven Days in May (1964) about an attempted military coup against the President of the United States; Planet of the Apes (1968); and The Man (1972) about the first African American President.

July 1, 1952
Daniel Edward "Dan" Aykroyd, the Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winning Canadian-American comedian, actor, screenwriter, musician, winemaker and ufologist is born.

He was an original cast member of Saturday Night Live, an originator of The Blues Brothers (with John Belushi) and Ghostbusters and has had a long career as a film actor and screenwriter.
July 2, 1947
Lawrence "Larry" Gene David the American actor, writer, comedian, producer, and film director is born. David is the co-creator and producer of two successful television comedies, Seinfeld (1989-1998) and Curb Your Enthusiasm (1999-present).

In 1989, he teamed up with Jerry Seinfeld to co-create the television series Seinfeld, where he also acted as head writer and executive producer. David's work won him a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series in 1993. In 1999, he created the HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm, a mostly improvised sitcom in which he stars as a fictionalized version of himself.
Formerly a standup comedian, David went into television comedy, writing and starring in ABC's Fridays, as well as writing briefly for Saturday Night Live.

July 2, 1955
The long-running musical-variety program The Lawrence Welk Show debuts on ABC.

Welk, a bandleader from North Dakota known for light dance music, had launched his own show in 1951 on KTLA in Los Angeles. The show remained a network hit for some 16 years, then became a syndicated series. Welk retired in 1982 and died in 1992.

July 3, 1950
TV game show Pantomime Quiz Show debuts as a network series on CBS.

The program, a variation of charades, ran for 13 years, although it changed networks several times. The show began as a local program in Los Angeles in 1947. In 1949, the show was one of TV's first programs to win an Emmy, first awarded by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences that year.

Jul 4, 1927
Playwright and screenwriter Neil Simon born in the Bronx section of New York City.

In one of his earliest jobs, in the 1950s, Simon wrote for Sid Caesar’s live comedy television program Your Show of Shows, alongside other future greats such as Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner. As Simon went on to write for the stage and big screen, humor would continue to play a major role in his work. Simon’s first Broadway play, Come Blow Your Horn, opened in 1961. He went on to write over 30 plays, including Barefoot in the Park (1963), The Odd Couple (1965), The Last of the Red Hot Lovers (1969), The Sunshine Boys (1972), Chapter Two (1977), the autobiographical trilogy of Brighton Beach Memoirs (1983), Biloxi Blues (1985) and Broadway Bound (1986), Lost in Yonkers (1991) and The Goodbye Girl (1993).
Simon wrote the screenplay for many of his stage productions that were adapted for the big screen. In 1967, Robert Redford and Jane Fonda starred in a cinematic version of Barefoot in the Park, about a young newlywed couple in Manhattan. Redford had also appeared in the original Broadway cast. In 1968, Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau starred in a film version of The Odd Couple, about the mismatched roommates Felix Ungar, a neurotic neat freak, and Oscar Madison, a slob. Matthau also played Oscar Madison in the original Broadway production. The Odd Couple later became a popular TV sitcom that aired from 1970 to 1975 and starred Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. In 1998, Lemmon and Matthau reunited for The Odd Couple II. (The pair appeared in a number of comedic films together, starting with 1966’s The Fortune Cookie and including 1993’s Grumpy Old Men and its 1995 sequel.)
Simon has received four Academy Award nominations for Best Screenplay: for The Odd Couple, The Sunshine Boys (1975), which starred Matthau and George Burns, The Goodbye Girl (1977), which starred Richard Dreyfuss and Marsha Mason (whom Simon was married to from 1973 to 1981) and California Suite (1978), which featured Jane Fonda, Alan Alda, Michael Caine and Richard Pryor.

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

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Actors Nicholas Hammond and Joan Benedict Steiger will be our special guests on the next edition of TV CONFIDENTIAL

Actors Nicholas Hammond and Joan Benedict Steiger will be our special guests on the next edition of TV CONFIDENTIAL, premiering Monday, June 28 at 9pm ET, 6pm PT on Shokus Internet Radio, with rebroadcasts Friday, July 2 at 7pm ET and PT on Share-a-Vision Radio,, as well as throughout the week on

After making his screen debut in 1963 at age ten, playing one of the schoolboy castaways in the original film adaptation of William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies, Nicholas Hammond was later cast as Friedrich von Trapp, the eldest of the von Trapp children in the 1965 Oscar-winning film The Sound of Music. The first actor to play Spider-Man and Peter Parker on film and television, he is also remembered among Baby Boomers for playing Doug Simpson, the big man on campus in "The Subject Was Noses," the famous "Oh, my nose!" episode of The Brady Bunch that also introduced the phrase "Something suddenly came up" into the pop culture lexicon. Nicholas Hammond is scheduled to join us in our second hour. Scheduled to join us in our first hour is Joan Benedict Steiger, whose show business career dates back to the early days of television, when she made notable appearances on such shows as The Steve Allen Show and the original Candid Camera. The widow of Oscar-winning actor Rod Steiger, Joan has also appeared in dozens of films and television series, including the long-running daytime series General Hospital and Days of Our Lives, as well as numerous stage productions, ranging from the classics to modern comedies to her acclaimed solo shows Leona (about Leona Helmsley) and the autobiographical The Loves of My Life. If you want to be part of our conversation, be sure to join us for our live broadcast on Monday, June 28, beginning at 9pm ET, 6pm PT on Phone number, as always, is (888) SHOKUS-5 (888-746-5875). If you wish to email questions in advance, the address is

TV CONFIDENTIAL with Ed Robertson and Frankie Montiforte
Every night at 9pm ET, 6pm PT Shokus Internet Radio Fridays 7pm ET and PT Share-a-Vision Radio, KSAV.org available as a podcast via iTunes and FeedBurner

Saturday, June 26, 2010

TV Confidential Archives: June 14, 2010

First hour: Ed and Frankie pay tribute to actors Rue McClanahan and Jimmy Dean, cinematographer William Fraker (Bullitt) and producer Robert Radnitz (Sounder), while Tony Figueroa remembers George Reeves, George Carlin and Farrah Fawcett during This Week in TV History. Also in this hour: a brief look at the upcoming Leave It to Beaver complete series DVD box set, plus David Krell's commentary on Andy Griffith's and Lucille Ball's respective returns to television in 1986.

Second hour: HBO programming executive Andrew Goldman joins Ed, Frankie and guest co-host David Krell for a look at the upcoming network television lineups, including the highly anticipated update of Hawaii Five-O, as well as a discussion of programming strategy on cable and broadcast television.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Your Mental Sorbet: To Happy Days

Here is another "Mental Sorbet" that we could use to momentarily forget about those things that leave a bad taste in our mouths.

From the Happy Days series finale, which originally aired as a one-hour episode. Special guest stars: Ron Howard, Al Molinaro, Ellen Travolta, Cathy Silvers, and Lynda Goodfriend.

At the beginning of his speech, Howard (Tom Bosley) mentions that "Both of our children are married now."
Howard ends his speech as well as the episode (and thus the series) by "breaking the fourth wall", looking directly at the camera and thanking viewers "for being part of our family" before offering a toast "to happy days".

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Monday, June 21, 2010

This week in Television History: June 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.

Jun 22, 2008
Stand-up comedian, writer and actor George Carlin dies of heart failure at the age of 71.
Born in New York City, Carlin dropped out of high school and joined the Air Force. While stationed in Shreveport, Louisiana, he got a job as a radio disc jockey; after his discharge, he worked as a radio announcer and disc jockey in Boston and Fort Worth, Texas. Carlin and his early radio colleague, Jack Burns, formed a moderately successful stand-up comedy duo, appearing in nightclubs and on The Tonight Show with Jack Paar. They soon parted ways, and Carlin made his first solo appearance on The Tonight Show in 1962. Three years later, he began a string of performances on The Merv Griffin Show and was later hired as a regular on Away We Go, 1967’s summer replacement for The Jackie Gleason Show. Carlin cemented his early career success with the release of his debut comedy album, the well-reviewed Take-Offs and Put-Downs, that same year.
During the late 1960s, Carlin had a recurring role on the sitcom That Girl, starring Marlo Thomas, and made numerous TV appearances on shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show and Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. Seeking to make a leap into big-time stardom, the relatively clean-cut, conventional comic reinvented himself around 1970 as an eccentric, biting social critic and commentator. In his new incarnation, Carlin began appealing to a younger, hipper audience, particularly college students. He began dressing in a stereotypically “hippie” style, with a beard, long hair and jeans, and his new routines were punctuated by pointed jokes about religion and politics and frequent references to drugs.
Released in 1972, Carlin’s second album, FM/AM, won a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Recording. A routine from his third hit album, Class Clown (also 1972) grew into the comic’s now-famous profanity-laced routine “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.” When it was first broadcast on New York radio, a complaint led the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to ban the broadcast as “indecent.” The U.S. Supreme Court later upheld the order, which remains in effect today. The routine made Carlin a hero to his fans and got him in trouble with radio brass as well as with law enforcement; he was even arrested several times, once during an appearance in Milwaukee, for violating obscenity laws.

More popular than ever as a countercultural hero, Carlin was asked to be the first guest host of a new sketch comedy show, Saturday Night Live, in 1975. Two years later, he starred in the first of what would be 14 comedy specials on the cable television station HBO (the last one aired in March 2008). Carlin had a certain degree of success on the big screen as well, including a supporting role in Outrageous Fortune (1987), a memorable appearance in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989) and a fine supporting turn in the drama The Prince of Tides (1991). More recently, he played a Roman Catholic cardinal in Kevin Smith’s satirical comedy Dogma (1999).
Though a 1994 Fox sitcom, The George Carlin Show, lasted only one season, Carlin continued to perform his HBO specials and his live comedy gigs into the early 21st century. He also wrote best-selling books based on his comedy routines, including Brain Droppings (1997), Napalm & Silly Putty (2001) and When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? (2004). According to his obituary in the New York Times, Carlin gave his last live comedy show in Las Vegas just weeks before his death.

June 24, 1987
Jackie Gleason dies.

Raised by a single mother who worked at a subway token booth in New York, Gleason dropped out of high school and began performing on the vaudeville circuit in his teens. Signed to a movie contract by the time he was 24 years old, Gleason played character roles in a handful of movies in 1941 and 1942, but found much more success in television. He became one of TV's most popular stars in a number of shows, including The Jackie Gleason Show, which ran throughout most of the 1950s and '60s. On the show, he created the character of Ralph Kramden, a bus driver who became the beloved star of the spin-off television show The Honeymooners.

June 25, 1993
Last night of Late Night with David Letterman. On this day in 1993, Late Night with David Letterman airs its last episode. Offbeat comic Letterman, passed over by NBC for the host seat on The Tonight Show after Johnny Carson's retirement, left the network to launch a rival show on CBS.

David Letterman was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1947. From an early age, he aspired to host his own talk show. He became a stand-up comic and a wacky weatherman on a local TV station. After years on the stand-up comedy circuit, he made his first appearance on The Tonight Show in 1978 and served as the program's guest host 50 times. In 1980, Letterman had a short-lived morning variety show, The David Letterman Show, which won two Emmys.
He launched his popular late-night TV show in 1982. His offbeat humor and goofy stunts spoofed traditional talk shows. Antics like wearing a Velcro suit and throwing himself at a wall or tossing eggs into a giant electric fan, Letterman gained a large following, especially among college students. Regular features included his "Top Ten List," "Stupid Pet Tricks," and tours of the neighborhood. He also frequently wandered with his camera into other NBC shows in progress. Over more than 11 years, the show won five Emmys and 35 nominations.
When Carson announced his retirement in 1992, Letterman and rival comic Jay Leno engaged in a heated battle for the coveted host slot. When Letterman was passed over, he left NBC for CBS, where his new program, Late Show, outperformed Leno's show almost every week in its first year. However, Leno pulled ahead the following year and maintained a strong lead. Letterman underwent emergency heart surgery in 2000 and was off the show for five weeks. In recent years, Leno's lead over Letterman in viewership has slimmed.

June 25, 2009
“King of Pop” Michael Jackson dies at age 50 after suffering from cardiac arrest caused by a fatal combination of drugs given to him by his personal doctor.
Michael Joseph Jackson was born on August 29, 1958, in Gary, Indiana, the seventh of Katherine and Joe Jackson’s nine children. At the age of 5, Jackson began performing with his older brothers in a music group coached by their steelworker father. In 1968, Motown Records signed the group, which became known as the Jackson 5, and Michael Jackson, a natural showman, emerged as the lead singer and star. The Jackson 5’s first album, released in 1969, featured the hit "I Want Back," and the group’s brand of pop-soul-R&B music made them an immediate success. Their musical popularity even led to their starring in their own TV cartoon series in the early 1970s.
Jackson released his first solo album, "Got to Be There," in 1972, while continuing to sing with his brothers. Six years later, in 1978, he made his big-screen debut as the Scarecrow in "The Wiz," an adaptation of the Broadway musical of the same name. Directed by Quincy Jones, the film starred an all-black cast that included singer Diana Ross as Dorothy. Jones collaborated with Jackson on his 1979 album “Off the Wall,” which sold some 7 million copies worldwide. The pair teamed up again for Jackson’s now-iconic 1982 album, "Thriller," which went on to sell 50 million copies around the globe, making it the best-selling studio album of all time. "Thriller" is credited with jump-starting the era of music videos and playing a key role in the rise of then-fledging cable TV network MTV, which launched in 1981.
In 1983, Jackson created a massive sensation on a live Motown anniversary TV special when he performed his now-signature Moonwalk dance step while wearing a black fedora and a single white glove covered with rhinestones. According to The Los Angeles Times critic Robert Hillburn, the performance served as Jackson’s "unofficial coronation as the King of Pop. Within months, he changed the way people would hear and see pop music, unleashing an influence that rivaled that of Elvis Presley and the Beatles."
Jackson’s next solo effort, "Bad," debuted in 1987. It sold 8 million copies and featured a music video from acclaimed movie director Martin Scorsese. By this time, however, Jackson had paid a high price for his massive success. According to The Los Angeles Times: "He became so accustomed to bodyguards and assistants that he once admitted that he trembled if he had to open his own front door."
By the 1990s, Jackson’s life was near-constant tabloid fodder. In 1993, he was accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy who had been a sleepover guest at his home. Jackson denied the allegations and the criminal investigation was dropped; however, the singer later settled a civil lawsuit with the boy’s family for a reported $20 million. In 2003, Jackson was accused of molesting another boy. Following a highly publicized trial in 2005, he was acquitted of all charges. During these years, Jackson also faced intense media scrutiny over his radically altered physical appearance, which included an ever-lighter complexion (which he attributed to a skin condition) and multiple plastic surgeries. Although Jackson himself was mostly close-mouthed on the topic, media sources alleged that Jackson developed an obsession with cosmetic surgery, in part, following an accident he suffered in January 1984 while shooting a Pepsi commercial. During filming, a pyrotechnics mishap set the singer’s hair on fire, and he suffered burns on his head and face that required reconstructive surgery. In the aftermath of the surgery, Jackson reportedly suffered from an addiction to prescription painkillers.
Jackson also made headlines with his brief marriage (1994-1994) to Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of singer Elvis Presley. From 1996 to 1999, he was wed to Debbie Rowe, the former assistant of his dermatologist and the mother of two of his three children. (Jackson’s youngest child, a boy, was reportedly born via a surrogate.)

On June 25, 2009, Jackson, who after a lengthy time away from the public spotlight was preparing for a series of summer concerts in London, was discovered unconscious in his Los Angeles mansion. The Los Angeles coroner’s officer later ruled the pop star’s death a homicide after lethal levels of the powerful sedative propofol, as well other drugs, were found in his system. Jackson’s personal physician, who was at the singer’s home when he died, had been giving him propofol as a sleep aid for a period of weeks.
On July 7, 2009, more than 20,000 fans attended a public memorial for Jackson at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Over 30 million viewers tuned in watch the event on cable TV, while millions more viewed it online.

June 27, 1945
FCC allocates TV channels. On this day in 1945, the FCC allocates airwaves for 13 TV stations. Before World War II, a few experimental TV shows had been broadcast in New York, but the war postponed the development of commercial television.
With the allocation of airwaves, commercial TV began to spread. The first regularly scheduled network series appeared in 1946, and many Americans viewed television for the first time in 1947, when NBC broadcast the World Series. Since privately owned television sets were still rare, most of the series' estimated 3.9 million viewers watched the games from a bar.

June 27, 1975
Sonny and Cher divorce.
In 1971 Sonny and Cher starred in their first television special, The Nitty Gritty Hour. A mixture of slapstick comedy, skits and live music, the appearance was a critical success, which led to numerous guest spots on other television shows. Sonny and Cher caught the eye of CBS head of programming Fred Silverman who offered the duo their own variety show. The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour debuted in 1971 as a summer replacement series. The show returned to prime time later that year and was an immediate hit, quickly reaching the Top 10. The show received 15 Emmy Award nominations during its run, winning one for direction, throughout its initial four seasons on CBS.

Sonny and Cher's dialogues were patterned after the successful nightclub routines of Louis Prima and Keely Smith: the happy-go-lucky husband squelched by a tart remark from the unamused wife. The show featured a stock company of zany comedians, including Freeman King, Ted Ziegler, and Murray Langston (later The Unknown Comic on The Gong Show). By the third season of the Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, the marriage of Sonny and Cher was falling apart; the duo separated later that year. The show imploded, while still in the top 10 of the ratings. What followed was a nasty, very public divorce. Cher won a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy for The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour in 1974.
Bono launched his own show, The Sonny Comedy Revue, in the fall of 1974, retaining the "Sonny and Cher" troupe of comedians and writers. Cher also announced plans to star in a new variety series of her own. Critics, surprisingly, predicted that Bono would be the big winner with a solo comedy vehicle, and didn't hold much hope for Cher's more musical showcase. After only six weeks, however, Bono's show was abruptly cancelled. The Cher show debuted as an elaborate, all-star television special on February 16, 1975 featuring Flip Wilson, Bette Midler and special guest Elton John. The first season ranked in the Top 25 of the year-end ratings.
As a result of the divorce, Sonny and Cher went their separate ways until Cher attended the opening of one of Bono's restaurants in something of a reconciliation. The Sonny & Cher Show returned in 1976, even though they were no longer married (the duo "reunited" with a humorous handshake). After struggling with low ratings through 1977, Sonny and Cher finally parted ways for good. Cher went on to a successful film career, winning the Best Actress Oscar for Moonstruck (1987). Sonny Bono later became a politician, serving as mayor of Palm Springs and as a U.S. congressman. He was killed in a skiing accident in 1998.

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

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Friday, June 18, 2010

Your Mental Sorbet: Dr. Sausage on "The Redd Foxx Show"

Here is another "Mental Sorbet" that we could use to momentarily forget about those things that leave a bad taste in our mouths.

Dr. Sausage ( Redd Foxx), Rip Taylor and Raymond J. Johnson Jr. (Bill Saluga) in a talent contest skit that was a regular bit on The Redd Foxx Show. Recorded in 1977.
Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Monday, June 14, 2010

This week in Television History: June 2010 Part III

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.

June 15, 1969
TV country-western variety show Hee Haw debuts.

Hee Haw started on CBS as a summer 1969 replacement for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Although the program ran for only two years, it was a hit with audiences and was in the Top 20 when CBS dropped it, deciding the show's hick country focus wasn't appropriate for the network's image. Hosted by country singers Roy Clark and Buck Owens, the program featured top country musicians and wacky stunts, jokes, and hijinks. The show went into syndication after the network dropped it, becoming highly successful and running until 1992. The show was inspired by Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, the major difference being that Hee Haw was far less topical, and was centered around country music. The show was equally well-known for its voluptuous, scantily-clad women in stereotypical farmer's daughter outfits.

June 16, 1959
George Reeves Dies.

George Reeves (January 5, 1914 – June 16, 1959) was best known for his role as Superman in the 1950s television program Adventures of Superman. According to the Los Angeles Police Department report, between approximately 1:30 and 2:00 a.m. on June 16, 1959, George Reeves died of a gunshot wound to the head in the upstairs bedroom of his Benedict Canyon home. He was 45 years old.
Police arrived within the hour. Present in the house at the time of death were Leonore Lemmon, William Bliss, writer Robert Condon, and Carol Van Ronkel, who lived a few blocks away with her husband, screenwriter Rip Van Ronkel.
According to all the witnesses, Lemmon and Reeves had been dining and drinking earlier in the evening in the company of writer Condon, who was ghostwriting an autobiography of prizefighter Archie Moore. Reeves and Lemmon argued at the restaurant, and the trio returned home. However, Lemmon stated in interviews with Reeves's biographer Jim Beaver that she and Reeves had not accompanied friends dining and drinking, but rather to wrestling matches. Contemporary news items indicate that Reeves's friend Gene LeBell was wrestling that night—yet LeBell's own recollections are that he did not see Reeves after a workout session earlier in the day. In any event Reeves went to bed, but some time near midnight an impromptu party began when Bliss and Carol Van Ronkel arrived. Reeves angrily came downstairs and complained about the noise. After blowing off steam, he stayed with the guests for a while, had a drink, and then retired upstairs again in a bad mood.
The house guests later heard a single gunshot. Bliss ran into Reeves's bedroom and found George Reeves dead, lying across his bed, naked and face up, his feet on the floor. This position has been attributed to his sitting on the edge of the bed when he shot himself, after which his body fell back on the bed and the 9mm Luger pistol fell between his feet.
Statements made to police and the press essentially agree. Neither Lemmon nor the other witnesses made any apology for their delay in calling the police after hearing the gunshot, but the shock of the death, the lateness of the hour, and their state of intoxication were given as reasons for the delay. Police said that all of the witnesses present were extremely inebriated, and that their coherent stories were very difficult to obtain.
In contemporary news articles, Lemmon attributed Reeves's apparent suicide to depression caused by his "failed career" and inability to find more work. The police report states, "[Reeves was]... depressed because he couldn't get the sort of parts he wanted." Newspapers and wire-service reports frequently misquoted LAPD Sergeant V.A. Peterson as saying: "Miss Lemmon blurted, 'He's probably going to go shoot himself.' A noise was heard upstairs. She continued, 'He's opening a drawer to get the gun.' A shot was heard. 'See, I told you so.'"' However, this statement may have been embellished by journalists. Lemmon and her friends were downstairs at the time of the shot with music playing. It would be nearly impossible to hear a drawer opening in the upstairs bedroom. Lemmon later claimed that she'd never said anything so specific but rather had made an offhand remark along the lines of "Oh, he'll probably go shoot himself now."
Witness statements and examination of the crime scene led to the conclusion that the death was self-inflicted. A more extensive official inquiry concluded that the death was indeed suicide. Reeves's will, dated 1956, bequeathed his entire estate to Toni Mannix, much to Lemmon's surprise and devastation. Her statement to the press read, "Toni got a house for charity, and I got a broken heart", referring to the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation.
A popular urban legend states that Reeves died because he believed that he had acquired Superman's powers and killed himself trying to fly. He is interred at Mountain View Cemetery and Mausoleum in Altadena, California.

Jun 18, 1942
Film critic Roger Ebert born in Urbana, Illinois.

While a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the 1960s, Ebert was the editor of the school newspaper, the Daily Illini. He began his professional career in 1966, as a reporter and feature writer at the Chicago Sun-Times, where his interest in movies led him to visit the set of Camelot, the 1967 film starring Richard Harris as King Arthur and Vanessa Redgrave as Queen Guinevere. In the spring of 1967, after the Sun-Times movie critic Eleanor Keane left the paper, Ebert was given the job. Ebert’s first review as critic was of the French New Wave film Galia (1966).
In 1975, Ebert became the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize. That same year, he teamed with another critic, Gene Siskel, on a monthly show on local television called Opening Soon at a Theater Near You. By the time the show later moved to PBS and was renamed Sneak Previews, Siskel and Ebert had established their now-famous format: two men sitting in theater seats discussing the newest movies and giving each of them a positive--”thumbs up”--or negative--”thumbs down”--review. In 1982, the show began a nationwide syndicated broadcast as At the Movies; four years later, the title changed to Siskel & Ebert, which it would keep for the next 20 years.
Siskel and Ebert’s colorful criticism--and their good-natured disagreements--turned their show into a long-running hit, and made them well-known personalities in their own right. Their run lasted until early 1999, when Siskel died at the age of 53, from complications of surgery to remove a brain tumor. Ebert co-hosted with a series of guests until mid-2000, when Richard Roeper of the Sun-Times became his permanent co-host. Ebert & Roeper aired through the summer of 2006, when Ebert underwent surgery to remove cancer in his jaw. Ebert kept fans in the loop about his condition and recovery with written updates on his Sun-Times Web site.
In July 2008, the show’s owner, Buena Vista, decided to pull the plug on Ebert & Roeper, which Roeper had been continuing with guest critics. Ebert had remained active behind the scenes, but had not been able to appear on air because of his illness.

June 20, 1948
Toast of the Town premieres.
Although later known simply as The Ed Sullivan Show, the series debuts as Toast of the Town. Among the many performers who made their TV debuts on the show were Bob Hope, Lena Horne, the Beatles, and Walt Disney.

Elvis Presley also made several high-profile performances on the show, in 1956 and 1957. The show ran until 1971.

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

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Andrew Goldman of HBO: Next on TV CONFIDENTIAL

HBO programming executive Andrew Goldman will be our special guest on the next edition of TV CONFIDENTIAL, which premieres Monday, June 14 at 9pm ET, 6pm PT on Shokus Internet Radio, with rebroadcasts Friday, June 18 at 7pm ET and PT on Share-a-Vision Radio,, as well as throughout the week on As vice president of program planning and scheduling for HBO/Cinemax, Andrew Goldman is responsible for the strategic planning, acquisition and scheduling of programs for HBO and its sister channels. We'll talk about your favorite shows on HBO (and whether they're coming back), some of the recent premieres such as Treme, The Pacific, How to Make It in America and The Ricky Gervais Show, as well as weigh in on recent developments in broadcast and cable television. This is a rare opportunity to talk to a leading television executive, so we hope you'll join us when Andrew Goldman joins us in our second hour.

If you want to be part of our conversation, be sure to join us for our live broadcast on Monday, June 14 beginning at 9pm ET, 6pm PT on If you wish to email questions in advance, the address, as always, is
TV CONFIDENTIAL with Ed Robertson and Frankie MontiforteEvery night at 9pm ET, 6pm PT Shokus Internet Radio Fridays 7pm ET and PT Share-a-Vision Radio, KSAV.orgwww.tvconfidential.netblog.tvconfidential.netAlso available as a podcast via iTunes and FeedBurner

Friday, June 11, 2010

Your Mental Sorbet: Carroll O'Connor Sings Ending Theme Song of "All in the Family"!

Here is another "Mental Sorbet" that we could use to momentarily forget about those things that leave a bad taste in our mouths.

From 1971, here is an appearance by Carroll O'Connor, tux and all, singing the ending theme song of "All in the Family".

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

TV Confidential Archives May 31, 2010

First hour: Ed, Frankie and guest co-host Tony Figueroa welcome animator Gene Hamm (The Dream Hat, Hell Toupee) as they pay tribute to Gumby creator and stop-motion animation pioneer Art Clokey. Also in this hour: comments on the recent passings of Art Linkletter, Dennis Hopper and Gary Coleman, plus David Krell remembers television programs inspired by the "space craze" of the 1960s.

Second hour: NPR television critic David Bianculli joins Ed, Frankie and Tony for a discussion of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, its impact on prime time television in the late 1960s and the turbulent battles with CBS executives over censorship issues that led to the abrupt end of the program in April 1969. David is the author of the author of Dangerously Funny, a comprehensive look at the careers of Tom and Dick Smothers and the legacy of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

Monday, June 07, 2010

This week in Television History: June 2010 Part II

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.

June 7, 1955
$64,000 Question premieres.

The show was a spin-off of radio game show The $64 Question and spun off The $64,000 Challenge. The show started with contestants answering a question worth $64, with each subsequent question worth double the amount of the previous one. The show was an instant hit, knocking I Love Lucy out of first place in the ratings. Rumors of rigging plagued this and other big-money game shows in the mid-1950s causing The $64,000 Question and The $64,000 Challenge to be yanked off the air within three months of the quiz show scandal's eruption. Challenge went first, in September 1958, with Question – once the emperor of Tuesday night television – taking its Sunday night time slot, until it was killed in November, 1958.

Jun 10, 2007
Last episode of The Sopranos airs.
Almost 12 million people tune in for the series finale of HBO’s critically acclaimed, multi-award-winning Mob-family drama.
The mastermind behind The Sopranos was David Chase, a longtime writer, producer and director for TV series such as The Rockford Files, I’ll Fly Away and Northern Exposure. Chase drew inspiration for his latest series from his Italian-American childhood growing up in New Jersey, when he was fascinated by William Wellman’s great 1931 gangster film The Public Enemy, starring Jimmy Cagney. The Sopranos was an immediate hit with critics when it premiered in January 1999. At its center was the New Jersey Mafia boss Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), whose attacks of anxiety early in the series send him into the office of a therapist, Dr. Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco). It soon becomes clear that Tony has a stressful life managing his family--including his vindictive mother (Nancy Marchand) and uncle (Dominic Chianese), his materialistic but good-hearted wife Carmela (Edie Falco) and his two teenage children, Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) and Anthony Jr., or A.J. (Robert Iler)--as well as his crew of lieutenants, notably Paulie Walnuts (Tony Sirico), Silvio Dante (Steve Van Zandt) and Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli).
The Sopranos brought to television a complex, compassionate vision of Mafia life similar to those previously portrayed on the big screen by directors like Francis Ford Coppola (the three Godfather movies) and Martin Scorsese (Mean Streets, Goodfellas). Both The Godfather and Goodfellas were touchstones for Chase (and his characters) throughout the series, as was The Public Enemy, which Tony memorably watches after his mother’s death in the show’s third season.
According to Alessandra Stanley, writing in the New York Times during the final season of The Sopranos: “The series lowered the bar on permissible violence, sex and profanity at the same time that it elevated viewers’ taste, cultivating an appetite for complexity, wit and cinematic stylishness on a serial drama in which psychological themes flickered and built and faded and reappeared. The best episodes had equal amounts of high and low appeal, an alchemy of artistry and gutter-level blood and gore, all of it leavened with humor.” As Stanley recounts, critics and pop-culture observers were often hyperbolic in their praise for the show, calling it Dickensian or Shakespearian; the author Norman Mailer, for one, called The Sopranos the closest thing to the Great American Novel in today’s culture. Fans loved it as well: The show’s audience reached a peak of some 18 million viewers during its fourth season. The show’s breakout success, along with that of the comedy series Sex and the City (which debuted six months before The Sopranos), established HBO’s reputation as the home of some of TV’s most popular original programming.
In the final season of The Sopranos, Tony survives a near-fatal shooting and begins to contemplate his own aging and mortality. Meanwhile, it appears that a full-scale war is brewing between the crime families of New York and New Jersey, as the hated Phil Leotardo (Frank Vincent) takes control of New York after former boss Johnny Sack (Vincent Curatola) dies in prison. When Phil goes after Tony and his crew, they react in turn, and the bodies stack up. In the closing scene of the open-ended finale, Tony meets Carmela, Meadow and A.J. in a diner for dinner. As soon as the screen went black, fans immediately began debating what actually happened, and mourning the end of a show that many had considered the best in the history of television.

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

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Friday, June 04, 2010

Your Mental Sorbet: McDonald's France gay ad Come As You Are

Here is another "Mental Sorbet" that we could use to momentarily forget about those things that leave a bad taste in our mouths.

McDonald's France has released a new gay ad campaign entitled "Come As You Are" which promotes McDonald's being a place where people can feel free to be themselves.

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Rue McClanahan (February 21, 1934 – June 3, 2010)

Rue McClanahan, the actress best known for her roles as Vivian Cavender Harmon on Maude, Fran Crowley on Mama's Family, and Blanche Devereaux on The Golden Girls died today at 1 a.m. of a stroke. She was 76.

She was born Eddi-Rue McClanahan in Healdton, Oklahoma, the daughter of Dreda Rheua-Nell (née Medaris), a beautician, and William Edwin McClanahan, a building contractor. She began acting on Off-Broadway in New York City in 1957, but did not make her Broadway debut until 1969 when she portrayed Sally Weber in the original production of John Sebastian and Murray Schisgal's musical, Jimmy Shine, with Dustin Hoffman in the title role.

Her role as Caroline Johnson on Another World (from July 1970 - September 1971) brought her notoriety. On the show, while taking care of twins Michael and Marianne Randolph, Caroline fell in love with their father, John, and began poisoning their mother, Pat. The short-term role was extended to more than a year before Caroline was finally brought to justice after kidnapping the twins. Once her role on Another World ended, Rue joined the cast of the CBS soap Where the Heart Is, in which she played Margaret Jardin.

In Maude, broadcast from 1972 to 1978, McClanahan played Maude's (Bea Arthur) best friend, Vivian Harmon (Later Findlay). Vivian had been Maude's best friend since they both attended college together. Vivian began dating Dr. Arthur Harmon (played by Conrad Bain) at the beginning of the second season and were married during the middle of it.

From 1983 to 1984 she played Fran Crowley,Thelma Harper's younger, uptight spinster sister on the sitcom Mama's Family. Fran worked as a newspaper reporter and free-lance writer. She later died by choking on a toothpick at The Bigger Jigger.

In The Golden Girls, broadcast from 1985 until 1992 and in The Golden Palace for one year afterwards, McClanahan portrayed man-crazed Southern belle Blanche Devereaux. Devereaux was the owner of a house inhabited by three roommates: herself, Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur), Rose Nylund (Betty White), and Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty). She received an Emmy Award in 1987 for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on The Golden Girls.

In cinema, McClanahan starred in 1961's The Rotten Apple, as well as Walk the Angry Beach in 1968. In 1971 she played a vicious fag hag in the film Some of My Best Friends Are... which was set in a gay bar. On May 31 2005, McClanahan took over the role of Madame Morrible in the hit Broadway musical Wicked, for which she received mixed reviews. She did, however, receive a positive notice from the New York Times:

She also appeared as a leader of Al-Anon in a 1970's informational video called "Slight Drinking Problem," in which Patty Duke played the enabling and eventually self-empowered wife of an alcoholic. An animal welfare advocate and vegetarian, McClanahan was one of the first celebrity supporters of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

In 2003 she appeared in the musical romantic comedy film The Fighting Temptations as Nancy Stringer, which co-starred Cuba Gooding Jr., Beyonce Knowles, Mike Epps and Steve Harvey. She replaced Carole Shelley as Madame Morrible in the musical Wicked on May 31, 2005. She played the role for eight months and departed the cast on January 8, 2006. She was replaced by Carol Kane on January 10, 2006.

Her autobiography, My First Five Husbands, was released nationwide in 2007. In June 2008, The Golden Girls was awarded the 'Pop Culture' award at the Sixth Annual TV Land Awards. Rue accepted the award with co-stars Bea Arthur and Betty White. McClanahan's last acting role was in the cable series Sordid Lives on the Logo network, which premiered July 23, 2008, playing Peggy Ingram, the older sister of Sissy Hickey and mother of Latrelle, LaVonda and Earl "Brother Boy".

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 1997, from which she completely recovered. On November 14, 2009, she was to be honored for her lifetime achievements at an event "Golden: A Gala Tribute To Rue McClanahan" at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, California.[5] The event was postponed due to McClanahan's hospitalization. She had triple bypass surgery on November 4. It was announced on January 14, 2010 by Entertainment Tonight that while recovering from surgery she had suffered a minor stroke. In March 2010, Betty White reported on The Ellen DeGeneres Show that McClanahan was doing well, and that her speech had returned to normal.

To Quotes Rue McClanahan, "Cruelty is one fashion statement we can all do without".

Good Night Ms. McClanahan

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa