Friday, January 31, 2014

Your Mental Sorbet: Pete Seeger - If I Had A Hammer (The Hammer Song) (Live at Farm Aid 2013)

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

Pete Seeger performs "If I Had A Hammer (The Hammer Song)" after being introduced by John Mellencamp at the Farm Aid concert in Saratoga Springs, NY on September 21, 2013.

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Edie Adams and The Paley Center: Next on TVC

DVD producer Josh Mills and Paley Center curator Ron Simon will join us on the next edition of TV CONFIDENTIAL, airing Jan. 29-Feb. 4 at the following times and venues:

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Edie Adams was much more than the pretty pitch woman for Muriel Cigars and longtime singer/sidekick of Ernie Kovacs. She was also an accomplished actress, artist, designer, producer, and nightclub performer, not to mention a true pioneer when it came to preserving television. Edie also took an innovative approach to Here’s Edie (ABC, 1962-1964), her groundbreaking musical variety series that provides an unique capsule of the various changes in 1960s entertainment culture while also reflecting her own eclectic musical tastes.

We’ll remember Edie Adams this week along with Edie’s son, Josh Mills, owner of Ediad Productions and the official archivist of both the Edie Adams estate and the estate of Ernie Kovacs. Josh is also the executive producer of Here's Edie: The Edie Adams Television Collection, a new box set from MVD Visual that features 21 episodes of Here’s Edie, featuring such guest stars as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Sammy Davis Jr., Bobby Darin, Johnny Mathis, Bob Hope, Rowan & Martin, Buddy Hackett, Soupy Sales, Andre Previn, Peter Falk, Allan Sherman and Zsa Zsa Gabor, plus such extra features as her classic TV ads for Muriel Cigars, plus rarely seen Edie Adams musical numbers from the various Ernie Kovacs shows. Here’s Edie was never rebroadcast after its original ABC run, so this is a real opportunity to see a true TV gem. Josh Mills will join us in our second hour.

For our listeners in Southern California, The Cinefamily will honor the life and career of Edie Adams on Tuesday, Feb. 4 with an evening that will include a screening of The Apartment, the classic 1960 film directed by Billy Wilder that also marked Edie’s motion picture debut, plus a panel discussion about Edie’s life with Ernie Kovacs, and a selection of clips from Here’s Edie. For tickets and more information, go to

And speaking of long lost TV treasures, Ron Simon will join us in our first hour as we go behind the scenes of The Paley Center for Media. A longtime curator with the Paley Center in New York, Ron is also one of the first true television archaeologists, Ron discovered such lost programs as the live Honeymooners and the only video performance of the Rat Pack, plus he has curated such exhibitions as The Television of Dennis Potter; Witness to History; Jack Benny: The Television and Radio Work; and Worlds Without End: The Art and History of the Soap Opera. We’ll ask Ron how he first became involved with The Paley Center, as well as take a look at some of the upcoming events at The Paley Center, including the upcoming PaleyFests in Los Angeles and New York.

The Paley Center will also celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of th... with screenings of two essential programs for the Beatles fan: the documentary What’s Happening: The Beatles in the USA and the famous Feb. 9, 1964 edition of The Ed Sullivan Show that marked the first official appearance of the Beatles on American television. The screenings will take place on Saturday, Feb. 8 and Sunday, Feb. 9 at the Paley Center in New York, 25 West 52nd Street in New York City, as well as at the Paley Center in Los Angleles, 465 N. Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills. For more information, go to

TV CONFIDENTIAL: A radio talk show about television
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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Remembering Pete Seeger

I love my country very dearly, and I greatly resent the implication that some of the places that I have sung and some of the people that I have known, and some of my opinions, whether they are religious or philosophical, make me less of an American. 
- Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger died yesterday at the age of 94. His grandson, Kitama Cahill-Jackson, said his grandfather died peacefully in his sleep around 9:30 p.m. at New York's Presbyterian Hospital, where he had been for six days. Family members were with him at the time of his death.

Waist Deep in the Big Muddy
Seeger often performed the song at concerts and rallies, and in late 1967 he was invited to perform on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Seeger chose to perform "Big Muddy," and sang the song on the taping of the CBS show in September, 1967 but CBS management objected to its political tone, and censored the song prior to broadcast. Following the strong support from the show's hosts, CBS later relented, and allowed Seeger to come back and sing the song on the Brothers' February 25, 1968, show. Ironically, at the time, Seeger was under contract to Columbia Records, which was owned by CBS, and had just recorded the song in an album titled Waist Deep in the Big Muddy and Other Love Songs. This broadcast is included on the DVD The Best of the Smothers Brothers.

Garbage Garbage Garbage

From Pete Seeger's 90th Birthday Concert (Clearwater Concert), Madison Square Garden, 5/3/09. Featuring: Tom Chapin, Michael Mask, Oscar the Grouch.

This Land is Your Land

Pete Seeger performs "This Land is Your Land" with Farm Aid board artists John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews and Neil Young live at the Farm Aid concert in Saratoga Springs, NY on September 21, 2013. Farm Aid was started by Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp in 1985 to keep family farmers on the land and has worked since then to make sure everyone has access to good food from family farmers. Dave Matthews joined Farm Aid's board of directors in 2001.

Good Night Mr. Seeger

Monday, January 27, 2014

This Week in Television History: January 2014 PART IV

Listen to me on TV CONFIDENTIAL:
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.

January 28, 1984
The first season of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer began on CBS. 
Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer, with Stacy Keach in the title role, is a television series that originally aired on CBS from January 28, 1984 to January 12, 1985. The series was 24 sixty minute episodes. The show follows the adventures of Mike Hammer, the fictitious private detective created by crime novelist Mickey Spillane, as he hunts down criminals on the mean streets of New York City. While firmly situated in the 1980s, the tone of the show also incorporated elements of classic film noir detective films, such as The Maltese Falcon. For example, each show featured the protagonist's narrative voice-over and, much like the archetypal hard-boiled detectives of years gone by, Hammer would rarely be seen without his wrinkled suit, fedora and trench coat. While his get-up made a particularly awkward fashion statement for the time, the juxtaposition of old and new was a central theme in the show. Indeed, Keach's Mike Hammer left the viewer with the impression that this detective had been somehow transported from a 1940s film set to 1980s New York City. The show's theme song "Harlem Nocturne" by Earle Hagen, a jazz tune featuring a deeply melancholy saxophone, set a gritty tone for each episode. The song proved to be one of the most popular elements of the program. Prior to the show's debut, Keach starred as Mike Hammer in two made-for-TV movies Murder Me, Murder You (April 9, 1983) and More Than Murder (January 26, 1984). Like the syndicated series, these two-hour movies were executed under the guidance of acclaimed Executive Producer Jay Bernstein. Other actors who played prominent roles in Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer include Don Stroud as Captain Pat Chambers, Lindsay Bloom as Hammer's secretary Velda, Kent Williams as Assistant District Attorney Lawrence D. Barrington, Danny Goldman as "Ozzie the Answer", and Donna Denton as "The Face"—a beautiful and mysterious woman who Hammer would see briefly in each episode but would then vanish before he had a chance to meet her.

Production of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer was interrupted near the end of the season when Keach was arrested in England for smuggling 1¼ ounces of cocaine. He was in the country filming Mistral's Daughter, a television miniseries based on a novel by Judith Krantz. Keach found himself sentenced to nine months in Reading Prison, but he was released after six months with time off for good behaviour.

January 31, 1949
These Are My Children, the first daytime soap opera, debuts on NBC. The show, only 15 minutes long, aired weekdays at 5 p.m. in January and February 1949.

February 1, 1954
Charles William "Bill" Mumy, Jr. is born.

Actor, musician, pitchman, instrumentalist, voice-over artist and a figure in the science-fiction community. He is known primarily for his roles in movies and television, character-type roles, and who also works in television production.

The red-headed Mumy came to prominence in the 1960s as a child actor, most notably as Will Robinson, the youngest of the three children of Prof. John and Dr. Maureen Robinson (played Guy Williams and June Lockhart respectively) and friend of the nefarious and pompous Dr. Zachary Smith (played by Jonathan Harris), in the cult 1960s CBS sci-fi television series Lost in Space.
He later appeared as a lonely teenager, Sterling North, in the 1969 Disney movie, Rascal, and as Teft in the 1971 film Bless the Beasts and Children. In the 1990s, he had the role of Lennier in the syndicated sci-fi TV series Babylon 5, and he also served as narrator of A&E Network's Emmy Award-winning series, Biography. He is also notable for his musical career, as a solo artist and as half of the duo Barnes & Barnes.

February 1, 2004
Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy.
Super Bowl XXXVIII, which was broadcast live on from Houston, Texas on the CBS television network in the United States, was noted for a controversial halftime show in which Janet Jackson's breast, adorned with a nipple shield, was exposed by Justin Timberlake for about half a second, in what was later referred to as a "wardrobe malfunction". The incident, sometimes referred to as Nipplegate, was widely discussed. Along with the rest of the halftime show, it led to an immediate crackdown and widespread debate on perceived indecency in broadcasting. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) fined CBS a record $550,000 which was fought in Supreme Court, but that fine was appealed and ultimately voided by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2011 ruling, and a case to reinstate the fine was refused in 2012.
The incident was ridiculed both abroad and within the United States, with some American commentators seeing the incident as a sign of decreasing morality in the national culture; others considered the incident harmless and felt that it received an undue amount of attention and backlash. The increased regulation of broadcasting raised concerns regarding censorship and free speech in the United States, and the FCC increased the fine per indecency violation from $27,500 to $325,000 shortly after the event.[13] The show was produced by MTV and was themed around the network's Rock the Vote campaign due to the event occurring during an election year. Following the wardrobe incident, the NFL announced that MTV, which also produced the halftime show for Super Bowl XXXV, would never be involved in another halftime show. The exposure was broadcast to an audience of 143.6 million viewers in total.
According to YouTube creator Jawed Karim, Janet's Super Bowl incident led to the creation of YouTube.[16] The launch of Facebook commenced within three days of the incident to capitalize on its controversy through social networking. The incident also made "Janet Jackson" the most searched term, event and image in Internet history, as well as the most searched person and term of the year 2004 and also for the following year. The incident also broke the record for "most searched event over one day". Jackson was later listed in the 2007 edition of Guinness World Records as "Most Searched in Internet History" and the "Most Searched for News Item". It became the most watched, recorded and replayed television moment in TiVo history and "enticed an estimated 35,000 new [TiVo] subscribers to sign up". The incident also coined the phrase "wardrobe malfunction", which was later added to the dictionary.
Following the incident, media conglomerates involved with the broadcast who were fined by the FCC, including Viacom and CBS, and subsidiaries MTV, Clear Channel Communications, and Infinity Broadcasting, enforced a blacklist of Jackson's singles and music videos on many radio formats and music channels worldwide. The blacklisting and denouncement of Jackson was considered to be "one of the saddest things in pop music over the last decade". In January 2014, former FCC chairman Michael Powell stated the controversy, fines, and reaction to the incident were overblown, and also said Jackson did not deserve the harsh treatment and blacklisting she had received in the media. Powell also considered it "unfair" that Timberlake did not receive the same effect and backlash that Jackson had endured.

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

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa