Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

Obit watch: regular edition, November 1, 2017.

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

Jack Bannon passed away last week.

He was one of those knock-around actors: he had credits on “Love Boat”, “Kojak”, “Mannix”, “Petticoat Junction”, “Beverly Hillbillies”, and lots of other television shows.

But he was best known to me as “Art Donovan” on “Lou Grant”.

Nostalgia is a moron, but I loved that show when I was in high school, and the DVDs are on my Amazon wish list. Memory tells me that there was less eyeball bleeding liberalism in the series than you’d expect from a show starring Ed Asner, but it was a long time ago…

Obit watch: October 25, 2017.

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

Robert Guillaume.

Man, what a career.

He landed his part in “Soap” in 1977 after a Tony-nominated run as Nathan Detroit in an all-black Broadway revival of “Guys and Dolls.”

I’d love to see that. I’m sure it exists…in an archive…somewhere in New York City…

Mr. Guillaume said Benson’s sharp tongue and dignified mien had allowed him to transcend his station while getting laughs. “What made the humor was that he didn’t care what people thought about him,” he said of the character in an interview for this obituary in 2011. “He wasn’t trying to be mean; he was just trying to be his own man.”

TMQ Watch: October 3, 2017.

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

We’ve got nothing clever to start off with this week. This is the kind of week that sucks all the clever out of our strategic clever reserves. Let’s just get into it.

After the jump, about 5,000 words of this week’s TMQ…

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Obit watch: October 2, 2017.

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

Monty Hall.

“Let’s Make a Deal” became such a pop-culture phenomenon that it gave birth to a well-known brain-twister in probability, called “the Monty Hall Problem.” This thought experiment involves three doors, two goats and a coveted prize and leads to a counterintuitive solution.

I’m not so sure about the “two goats” thing. But I also think that part of the problem with the “Monty Hall problem” is that people aren’t precise in stating the terms of the problem, and that leads to “counterintuitive solutions” based on what people think the terms are.

See also.

S.I. Newhouse, magazine publisher.

Obit watch: September 16, 2017.

Saturday, September 16th, 2017

The great Harry Dean Stanton.

He was in everything. Even “Cockfighter”.

He played Molly Ringwald’s underemployed father in the teenage romance “Pretty in Pink” (1986), the apostle Paul in Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ” (1988), a private eye in David Lynch’s “Wild at Heart” (1990), a judge in Terry Gilliam’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” (1998), the hero’s ailing brother in Mr. Lynch’s “The Straight Story” (1999), a veteran inmate cheerfully testing the electrocution equipment in “The Green Mile” (1999) and Charlie Sheen’s father in “The Big Bounce” (2004).

Also: who is killing the cast of “The Godfather: Part II”?

Obit watch: September 11, 2017.

Monday, September 11th, 2017

Don Ohlmeyer, legendary “Monday Night Football” producer, and later NBC executive.

In 1998, Mr. Ohlmeyer feuded with Norm Macdonald, the sardonic comedian and anchor of the “Weekend Update” news segment on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.” Mr. Ohlmeyer called Mr. Macdonald increasingly unfunny and ordered Lorne Michaels, the executive producer of the series, to remove him from the segment immediately.

“The Last Tycoon”, Amazon’s series based on the unfinished novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Interestingly, a few days ago Amazon also cancelled “Z: The Beginning of Everything”, a series based on the life of Zelda Fitzgerald. “Z” had actually already been renewed and was apparently in pre-production for the second season when Amazon pulled the plug.

Is there just not a great demand for Scott Fitzgerald any longer? Or were these just not very good series?

Quick random notes: September 2, 2017.

Saturday, September 2nd, 2017

Obit watch: Shelley Berman, noted stand-up comic.

Performing in upscale nightclubs and on concert stages, including Carnegie Hall at the height of his fame, he found humor in places where his borscht belt predecessors had never thought to look: ‘‘If you’ve never met a student from the University of Chicago, I’ll describe him to you. If you give him a glass of water, he says: ‘This is a glass of water. But is it a glass of water? And if it is a glass of water, why is it a glass of water?’ And eventually he dies of thirst.”
“Sometimes,” Mr. Berman told The New York Times in 1970, “I’m so oblique, even I don’t know what I’m talking about.”

(I’m going to have to start using “Were you very fond of that cat?” in conversation.)

Guess who’s coming to dinner?

Before you answer that: the dinner is actually a testimonial being put on by an association of retired NYPD detectives. There will be two honorees:
John Russo, “who investigated the murder of Karina Vetrano, who was killed while jogging in Howard Beach, Queens, last year.”

And the other one? Retired detective Louis Scarcella.

Mr. Hynes eventually helped to overturn the guilty verdict of David Ranta, partly blaming Mr. Scarcella for botching the murder case. When Mr. Thompson became the district attorney in 2014, he began a broad investigation — still ongoing — of what was ultimately more than 70 of Mr. Scarcella’s old cases. So far, prosecutors have reversed the convictions in eight of those cases, and judges have overturned another few, but the district attorney’s office has repeatedly maintained that Mr. Scarcella has not committed any punishable conduct or broken the law.

The event’s sponsor is aware that Mr. Scarcella is a polarizing figure. John Wilde, the retired detective who organized the evening, claimed he chose to honor the detective not in spite of the controversy, but because of it.
Mr. Scarcella did not prosecute the defendants who ended up in prison; he investigated and arrested them, Mr. Wilde said. Many people had a hand in the convictions that went wrong, but at least so far, Mr. Wilde added, only Mr. Scarcella has gotten any blame for the cases, and the ordeal has taken a toll.

Just as a reminder:

Detective Scarcella and his partner, Stephen Chmil, according to investigators and legal documents, broke rule after rule. They kept few written records, coached a witness and took Mr. Ranta’s confession under what a judge described as highly dubious circumstances. They allowed two dangerous criminals, an investigator said, to leave jail, smoke crack cocaine and visit with prostitutes in exchange for incriminating Mr. Ranta.

Obit watch: September 1, 2017.

Friday, September 1st, 2017

Richard Anderson.

Yes, yes, we all remember him as Oscar Goldman. But he knocked around in a whole bunch of other stuff before “Six Million Dollar Man” and “Bionic Woman”. Every now and then, we’ll be watching something at Lawrence’s and say, “Hey, wait, is that…yes, it’s Oscar Goldman!” (Yes, he was in “Tora! Tora! Tora!”, just like everyone else in Hollywood.) He did guest spots on “Mannix”, “Mission: Impossible”, the good “Hawaii 5-0”, “T.H.E. Cat”, and he was a regular on “Perry Mason”. He was in “Kitten With a Whip”. And Chief Quinn in “Forbidden Planet”.

I hate to reduce the man to one role, no matter how famous it was. But I do think this is one of the great TV show openings of all time.

TMQ Watch: August 22, 2017.

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

“The Year Without A Tuesday Morning Quarterback” was one of Rankin-Bass’s lesser holiday specials.

Then a year ago this time, I took a year off to complete my next book.

Oh. Is that what it was? (By the way, Gregg Easterbrook has a new book coming out.)

But now, he’s back. And so is the editorial “we”. Not to be confused with the editorial wee, though we plan to purchase one or more of those really nice Toto smart toilets when we win the lottery.

Welcome back to TMQ Watch. After the jump, this week’s TMQ

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Obit watch: August 21, 2017.

Monday, August 21st, 2017

I didn’t post the Jerry Lewis obits yesterday because I wanted to give those some time to shake out. For the record: NYT. LAT. WP. (Edited to add: Lawrence.) (Edited to add 2: Reason.)

This was well covered over the weekend, but for the historical record: Dick Gregory.

I, for one, welcome our New World Order overlords.

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

See, I knew the NWO was good for something.

“We were chanting, ‘Death to the New World Order’ about 10 years ago after watching all of your documentaries, and then about a week later, we were no longer on television and haven’t had a consistent TV gig since then,” Pratt said. “So if the New World Order is watching, you know, we still will not accept chips, but, you know, we will take a gig in the established media because we have a baby and we have some bills to pay so, you know, New World Order, we’re available.”

Obit watch: July 27, 2017.

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

June Foray, one of the greatest voice talents ever. (Edited to add 7/28: NYT obit.)

I’ll quote at length the A/V Club obit just to give you some idea of the scope of her work:

…it would probably be easier to list the beloved animated series she didn’t appear on: Her versatile voice showed up in The Flintstones, Peter Pan, Mister Magoo, dozens of Looney Tunes shorts—with director Chuck Jones supposedly once noting that “June Foray is not the female Mel Blanc, Mel Blanc was the male June Foray”—The Twilight Zone (where she voiced murderous doll Talky Tina), Woody Woodpecker, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Get Smart, Curious George, Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends, Alvin & The Chipmunks, The Smurfs, DuckTales, The Real Ghostbusters, Tiny Toon Adventures, Gummi Bears, Garfield And Friends, Rugrats, Felix The Cat, Mulan, Family Guy, The Powerpuff Girls, and, of course, Rocky And His Friends (and its 2000 film version).

She was 99. What a life.

This isn’t quite an obit, but I want to put it up anyway:

The baby is Angelina Liu. She’s the daughter of Sanny Liu and Officer Wenjian Liu of the NYPD.

Officer Liu and his partner, Rafael Ramos, were ambushed and killed in their patrol car on December 20, 2014. The suspect later committed suicide. The Liu’s had been married for three months: Mrs. Liu asked the doctors to harvest and preserve her husband’s sperm so that she could have his child.

Awful lot of dust in the air, you know? F’ing allergies or something.