Monday, March 18, 2019

This Week in Television History: March 2019 PART III

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.
Donna Allen-Figueroa


March 18, 1981
The Greatest American Hero first aired.
The series that aired for three seasons from1981 to 1983 on ABC. Created by producer Stephen J. Cannell, it premiered as a two-hour pilot movie on March 18, 1981. The series features William Katt as teacher Ralph Hinkley ("Hanley" for the latter part of the first season), Robert Culp as FBI agent Bill Maxwell, and Connie Sellecca as lawyer Pam Davidson.
The series chronicles Ralph's adventures after a group of aliens gives him a red suit that grants him superhumanabilities. Unfortunately for Ralph, who hates wearing the suit, he immediately loses its instruction booklet, and thus has to learn how to use its powers by trial and error, often with comical results.
The main character's name was originally Ralph Hinkley, but after the assassination attempt of Ronald Reagan by John Hinckley, Jr. on March 30, 1981, the character's last name was changed to "Hanley". For the rest of the first season, he was either "Ralph" or "Mister H". In the episode where Ralph is given a promotion and his own office space, we see the name "Ralph Hanley" on the door plaque. At the start of season two, the name had changed back to Hinkley. In the season three episode "Live At Eleven", Ralph is given a name tag at a political rally with his last name spelled "Hunkley" and Ralph gives up saying "it's close enough for politics".

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


Stay Tuned


Tony Figueroa

Friday, March 15, 2019

Your Mental Sorbet: Chuck Todd Highlights a Full House Episode with Lori Loughlin


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

A clip from Full House highlighted by MSNBC's Chuck Todd.

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Monday, March 11, 2019

This Week in Television History: March 2019 PART II

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.
Donna Allen-Figueroa


March 11, 1989
COPS debuts on Fox. 
The hit reality-based television show COPS premieres on the Fox television network, and audiences hear the reggae beat of its distinctive theme song, Inner Circle's "Bad Boys," for the very first time.
Created by the producing team of John Langley and Malcolm Barbour, COPS placed cameras and production crews in the car with real patrol officers around the country as they went on raids and did whatever was necessary to catch the perpetrators of various drug-related crimes. The pilot episode, like the rest of that debut season, was based in Broward County, Florida, and followed members of the Broward County Sheriff's Office. The actor Burt Lancaster provided the voice-over for the pilot episode, but the rest of the show, shot documentary-style, was not accompanied by any narration.
At the time, Fox was only a fledgling television network, having launched in October 1986. The network took a chance on COPS after other major networks passed on it, leaping on Langley and Barbour's idea in the middle of a five-month-long strike by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) during the summer of 1988. A reality-based show was ideal for the network at the time, as it would require no writers and was relatively inexpensive to produce.
COPS surprised the industry by becoming a hit; it is now one of the longest-running TV shows in history, with more than 700 episodes airing between 1989 and 2008. Its success spawned an entire new genre of reality programming that would gain traction during the 1990s and become a major cultural phenomenon by the next decade. Like any touchstone of popular culture, COPS has inspired numerous imitators--including the John Langley-produced series Jail and Street Patrol--and has been parodied extensively, most notably by the Comedy Central series Reno 911!
In February 2008, producers released a special two-disc DVD set to celebrate the 20th anniversary of COPS.

March 12, 1974
Wonder Woman debuted on ABC-TV. 
The show later went to CBS-TV.
Wonder Woman's first broadcast appearance in live-action television was a television movie made in 1974 for ABC. Written by John D. F. Black, the TV movie resembles the Wonder Woman of the "I Ching" period. Wonder Woman (Cathy Lee Crosby) did not wear the comic-book uniform, demonstrated no apparent super-human powers, had a "secret identity" of Diana Prince that was not all that secret, and she was also depicted as blonde (differing from the brunette image established in the comic books). This 1974 film follows Wonder Woman, assistant to government agent Steve Trevor (Kaz Garas) as she pursues a villain named Abner Smith (Ricardo Montalban) who has stolen a set of code books containing classified information about U.S. government field agents. Along the way, she has to outwit Smith's chief assistants: the handsome yet dangerous George (Andrew Prine) and a rogue Amazon, Angela (Anitra Ford), who Smith has taken on as a bodyguard; a brief duel between Wonder Woman and Angela is the film's only significant action sequence, which occurs during the final third of the story.

March 16, 1949
Henry Enrique "Erik" Estrada is born. 
Actor and reserve police officer, known for his co-starring lead role in the 1977–1983 United States police television series CHiPs. He later became known for his work in Spanish language telenovelas, and in more recent years, his appearances in reality television shows and infomercials and as a regular voice on the Adult Swim series Sealab 2021.

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


Stay Tuned


Tony Figueroa

Friday, March 08, 2019

Your Mental Sorbet: Jan Michael Vincent interview

I never thought about being the highest paid.
I just wanted to be someone that people cared about watching,
and I feel I'm a good actor.
Jan-Michael Vincent


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


Jan Michael Vincent interviewed by Paul Rodriguez on The Late Show in 1987. The Late Show talk show aired on FOX, but I found no mention of Rodriquez being a permanent host.
Cheech Marin is also here. All three are in the film BORN in EAST L.A.. Everyone is having a great time during the interview and toward the end Jan-Michael Vincent joins the band, plays bass and sings NYQUIL BLUES.

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Your Mental Sorbet: Luke Perry on Letterman

I always felt like something of an outsider.
But I identified with people up on the screen.
That made me feel like I wanted to be up on the screen too.
I felt like eventually I would get there.
Luke Perry
Coy Luther Perry III
October 11, 1966 – March 4, 2019

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



Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Monday, March 04, 2019

This Week in Television History: March 2019 PART I

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.
Donna Allen-Figueroa


March 4, 1994
John Candy dies. 
The larger-than-life comedic star John Candy dies suddenly of a heart attack on this day in 1994, at the age of 43. At the time of his death, he was living near Durango, Mexico, while filming Wagons East, a Western comedy co-starring the comedian Richard Lewis.
Born in 1950, Candy's first professional acting work was in children's theater in his native Canada. In 1972, he was accepted into the prestigious Second City comedy troupe in Toronto, where he would become a regular writer and performer for the group's television program, SCTV, alongside other rising comics like Eugene Levy (later Candy's co-star in Splash) and Harold Ramis (Ghostbusters). When SCTV moved to network television in 1981, Candy moved with it; that year and the next, he won Emmy Awards for writing for the show. Candy's recurring (and most famous) SCTV persona was Yosh Shmenge, a clarinet player in a polka band. He would reprise the character in a mock documentary, The Last Polka, on HBO in 1985 and would also play a polka musician in the smash hit Home Alone (1990).
Candy made his big break into movies with Splash (1984), in which he stole most of his scenes as the idle, high-living brother of the main character, played by Tom Hanks. The film, directed by Ron Howard, was a smash hit, jump-starting the careers of Candy, Hanks, Darryl Hannah and Levy. In one particularly memorable scene, Candy throws himself with abandon around a racquetball court, using his hefty frame to full comedic effect. Six-foot-three and weighing as much as 275 pounds, he struggled with dieting over the years, but his heft undoubtedly contributed to his success as a comic performer.
After Splash, Candy was in high demand as a lovable oaf. He starred in a number of box-office hits over the next 10 years, including Spaceballs (1987), and collaborations with the writer, producer and director John Hughes in Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987), The Great Outdoors (1988) and Uncle Buck (1989). A devoted sports fan and co-owner of the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League, he was also part owner of House of Blues, with the actors Dan Aykroyd and Jim Belushi. In 1993, Candy won praise for his role as the sensitive coach of an unlikely Jamaican bobsled team in Cool Runnings (1993).
At the time of his death, Candy had just completed his directorial debut, the Fox Television movie comedy Hostage for a Day. He had performed two-thirds of his scenes in Wagons East, which was finished after the filmmakers' insurance company paid a reported $15 million settlement. Another recently wrapped movie, Canadian Bacon, was released in 1995. Candy was survived by his wife, Rosemary, and their two children, Jennifer and Christopher.


March 8th, 1974
The last episode ofThe Brady Bunch aired
"The Hair-Brained Scheme"

Bobby is convinced he can get rich by selling Neat & Natural Hair Tonic. Bobby sells Greg a container which turns Greg's hair bright orange on the eve of his high school commencement. Greg is forced to go to the beauty parlor and dye his hair back before going to graduation.

Note: Robert Reed does not appear in this episode, due to dispute over the story involving the non-FDA approved bottle of hair tonic, which he thought was inane slapstick. After Reed wrote a large memo to the staff and Paramount, Sherwood Schwartz wrote him out of the episode.

March 9, 1954
Edward R. Murrow See it Now
"A Report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy"
Edward R. Murrow may not have scored the first blow against Joseph McCarthy, but he landed a decisive one. For that, he always will be linked inextricably with the Wisconsin senator, and remembered by Americans as a champion of liberty and democracy. As early as 1950, Murrow observed on the air that "the weight of the public testimony has tended to show that so far, Senator McCarthy's charges [againstsuspected communist subversives] are unproven." On March 9, 1954, Murrow, then the most respected journalist in America, engaged in a tough exposé of the senator and his tactics; the last paragraphs of his presentation are indelibly etched into our history as is the rhetoric of McCarthy himself. In the interest of the “fairness doctrine,” McCarthy was given an equal amount of time for a rebuttal, which he delivered in his classic acerbic style on April 6, 1954. This was the beginning of McCarthy’s downfall.

March 9, 1959
The International Toy Fair in New York premiered Barbie. 
That event was followed by 50 years of Barbie commercials during Saturday morning cartoons. 

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


Stay Tuned


Tony Figueroa

Friday, March 01, 2019

Katherine Helmond

I was very lucky with 'Soap' and 'Who's the Boss,' which was great fun, and then went on 'Coach' and 'Everybody Loves Raymond.' I've been truly blessed, and the work has all been fun and a joy.
Katherine Helmond
Katherine Marie Helmond
1929 – 2019 
Katherine Helmond died February 23, 2019 from complications of Alzheimer's disease at her home in Los Angeles.



After her stage debut in As You Like It, she began working in New York in 1955. She later ran a summer theatre in the Catskills for three seasons and taught acting in university theatre programs. She made her television debut in 1962, but would not achieve fame until the 1970s. She also acted on stage, earning a Tony nomination for her performance on Broadway in Eugene O'Neill's The Great God Brown (1973). Other Broadway productions include Private LivesDon Juan and Mixed Emotions.
Helmond appeared in such feature films as Family Plot (1976) and Brazil (1985), in which she played the mother of Jonathan Pryce's character. In 1983, she studied at the American Film Institute's Directing Workshop. She went on to direct four episodes of the television series Benson as well as one episode of Who's the Boss?(1984). 


She picked up Emmy nominations for her role as Mona Robinson in Who's the Boss and as Lois Whelan in Everybody Loves Raymond. She has continued working, receiving acclaim for her stage performance in Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues.

Helmond appeared in The Legend of Lizzie Borden (1975) as Emma Borden, the title character's sister. She appeared in an episode of the short-lived 1976 CBS adventure series, Spencer's Pilots, starring Gene Evans. Helmond gained prominence as Jessica Tate, the ditzy matriarch of the Tate family in Soap (1977–1981) on ABC




From 1984 to 1992, she played the role of Mona Robinson on the ABC sitcom Who's the Boss?. The show was a ratings success, running for eight seasons and finishing in the Nielsen 'Top 10' four straight years. In 1993, she appeared in one episode of the British version of Who's the Boss?The Upper Hand.


From 1995 to 1997, she starred in the ABC sitcom Coach as Doris Sherman, eccentric owner of the fictional Orlando Breakers professional football team. From 1996 to 2004, she had a recurring role on Everybody Loves Raymond as Lois Whelan (Ray Barone's mother-in-law). On July 25, 2010, she guest-starred on A&E's The Glades. She also guest starred as Caroline Bellefleur on HBO's True Blood.


Good Night Ms. Helmond 


Stay Tuned 

Tony Figueroa

Monday, February 25, 2019

This Week in Television History: February 2019 PART IV

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.
Donna Allen-Figueroa


March 1, 1954
Ronald William "Ron" Howard is born. 
Film director, producer and actor.
He came to prominence playing Opie Taylor in the sitcom The Andy Griffith Show for eight years, and later the teenaged Richie Cunningham in the sitcom Happy Days for six years. He appeared in the films The Music Man in 1962, American Graffiti in 1973, and The Shootist in 1976, the latter during his run on Happy Days.
Howard made his directorial debut with the 1977 comedy Grand Theft Auto, and left Happy Days in 1980 to focus on directing. His films include Cocoon, Apollo 13, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and A Beautiful Mind, which earned Howard the Academy Award for Best Director. In 2002, Howard conceived the idea for the Fox/Netflix series Arrested Development, on which he also serves as producer and narrator, and plays a semi-fictionalized version of himself.

March 2, 1904
Dr. Seuss born.
Theodor Geisel, better known to the world as Dr. Seuss, the author and illustrator of such beloved children's books as "The Cat in the Hat" and "Green Eggs and Ham," is born in Springfield, Massachusetts. Geisel, who used his middle name (which was also his mother's maiden name) as his pen name, wrote 48 books--including some for adults--that have sold well over 200 million copies and been translated into multiple languages. Dr. Seuss books are known for their whimsical rhymes and quirky characters, which have names like the Lorax and the Sneetches and live in places like Whoville.

Geisel, who was born on March 2, 1904, in Springfield, Massachusetts, graduated from Dartmouth College, where he was editor of the school's humor magazine, and studied at Oxford University. There he met Helen Palmer, his first wife and the person who encouraged him to become a professional illustrator. Back in America, Geisel worked as a cartoonist for a variety of magazines and in advertising.

The first children's book that Geisel wrote and illustrated, "And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street," was rejected by over two dozen publishers before making it into print in 1937. Geisel's first bestseller, "The Cat in the Hat," was published in 1957. The story of a mischievous cat in a tall striped hat came about after his publisher asked him to produce a book using 220 new-reader vocabulary words that could serve as an entertaining alternative to the school reading primers children found boring.

Other Dr. Seuss classics include "Yertle the Turtle," "If I Ran the Circus," "Fox in Socks" and "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish."

Some Dr. Seuss books tackled serious themes. "The Butter Battle Book" (1984) was about the arms buildup and nuclear war threat during Ronald Reagan's presidency. "Lorax" (1971) dealt with the environment.

Many Dr. Seuss books have been adapted for television and film, including "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" and "Horton Hears a Who!" In 1990, Geisel published a book for adults titled "Oh, the Places You'll Go" that became a hugely popular graduation gift for high school and college students.

Geisel, who lived and worked in an old observatory in La Jolla, California, known as "The Tower," died September 24, 1991, at age 87.

March 2, 1944
For the first time, the Academy Awards are presented as part of a televised variety show. 
Jack Benny served as master of ceremonies for the event, which was held at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Los Angeles. Due to lack of network interest, the show was only broadcast locally, on two Los Angeles TV stations. Winners included Best Film Going My Way, whose male lead, Bing Crosby, won Best Actor. Ingrid Bergman won Best Actress for her performance in Gaslight.

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


Stay Tuned


Tony Figueroa

Friday, February 22, 2019

Your Mental Sorbet: The Monkees - One Man Shy and Fairy Tale

Peter Halsten Thorkelson
February 13, 1942 – February 21, 2019

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


Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa