(Television History and Trivia)




Victor Edward Swanson,


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- - - T.H.A.T., Edition No. 56 - - -

    In T.H.A.T. #54, I asked a trivia question about a made-for-TV movie, and, certainly at least a few persons were hoping for an answer to the trivia question in T.H.A.T. #55, but the few persons did not find the answer there.  I did not put the answer in T.H.A.T. #55, because I decided to postpone the fun.  Incidentally, since the late 1960s, people, especially children, have become conditioned to believing that learning has to be fun, fun, fun, but real learning often is not fun, fun, fun, like that which a person might expect from Sesame Street, which is the television show that has run on PBS-affiliated television stations since 1969.  Here, I now have the answer to the trivia question, which was about a TV-movie that had "sex" in the title.  The 1974 movie (originally airing on September 17, 1974, on ABC-TV) was entitled The Sex Symbol.

    This edition of T.H.A.T. focuses on many issues that I have delayed talking about because I had more important matters to cover (in the previous edition of T.H.A.T.) and focuses on some new matters.

    In past editions of T.H.A.T., I have talked about digital-to-analog converter boxes.  On November 10, 2008--early, early, early--I posted T.H.A.T. #55 on the Internet, and, then, later in the day, I saw the front page of the Detroit Free Press, which had an article about digital-to-analog converter boxes (Laitner, Bill.  "Many get coupon, but no TV box."  Detroit Free Press, 10 November 10, 2008, pp. 1A and 10A.).  The article noted how people who got coupons from the federal government to get a discount on the price of buying converter boxes have coupons that have expired, and one reason that they have coupons that have expired is stores did not have converter boxes available for purchase on their shelves so that the people with the coupons could buy converter boxes.  I knew the "expiration-date" feature was going to be a problem, and it is (and I say that it was government failure and failure to think).

    To learn more about the digital-to-analog coverter box, if you know nothing about it, see T.H.A.T. #50 (which can be reached by hitting this link: T.H.A.T. #50) and T.H.A.T. #52 (which can be reached by hitting this link: T.H.A.T. #52), and if you read them, you will also learn about low-power broadcast television stations.

   I now have updated information about digital channels that are available to people in, for example, the Huron Beach area of Presque Isle County of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan.  On November 28, 2008, I connected up a digital-to-analog converter box to see what channels were now available to me at the place where I had done testing a few months previously (in July 2008).  These are the channels that were available and are now available: 4-1 (which is WTOM-DT, which is the NBC-TV affiliate available in the area); 6-2 (which is WCML-SD, which is a subchannel of WCML-DT and which is a PBS-affiliated channel); 6-3 (WCML-SD, which is a subchannel of WCML-DT and which has the "Create" network programming); 10-1 (which is WWUP-HD, which is a CBS-TV affiliate); and 10-2 (which is WWUP-SD, which has Fox TV programming related to a station in the area known as "Fox 33").  So, four more digital channels are available clearly now (in July 2008, I had only one good channel).  On November 28, 2008, I still was unable to get an ABC-TV-affiliated digital station or channel, but such a channel should show up soon, and I have information that some of the channels that I can pick up today will switch "RF" channel positions (not channel-number locations on a digital-to-analog converter box) soon (such as around February 18, 2009), so people will have to run the scan feature of their digital-to-analog converter boxes again to detect digital channels after at least February 17, 2009.  Actually, after February 17, 2009, it is very likely a person will have to run the scan feature from time to time, because new subchannel feeds could or should show up (generally speaking, each television station can have one main channel and up to two subchannels).

    Here is a "for-the-record" statement: On a day in early November 2008, I was watching a talk show on Channel 33 (WHPR-TV, a low-power television station in the Detroit area), and one of the hosts of the show--a woman, whose name I did not learn--noted that one problem in Detroit is younger people just do not want to do work, and she noted that her generation did work and did do things.

    On October 21, 2008, WXYZ-TV, Channel 7, Detroit, aired three special television programs, and this edition of T.H.A.T. provides notes about the three programs.
   In the morning, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., the station aired a special entitled Best of Kelly & Company, which gave information and video clips related to a television series entitled Kelly & Company, which was really two series--one that ran on Channel 7 from July 17, 1972, to December 29, 1972 (version one) and one that ran from September 6, 1977, to September 4, 1992 (version two)--and it was the second version that was really the topic of the special.  The second version of the show called Kelly & Company was a weekday show that was hosted by John Kelly and Marilyn Turner (a husband-and-wife couple), and they hosted the special.  Generally speaking, the series was a morning talk show that covered topics from cooking to fashion and that had celebrity guests.  Some of the people shown in clips from Kelly & Company were Phil Donahue, Erma Bombeck, Ken Nicholson, Jaclyn Smith, Kirk Douglas, Marie Osmond, Sam Donaldson, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Rosemary Curb, Bob Jenni, Joan Rivers, David Brenner, Red Skelton, Lily Tomlin, and Tim Reid.  One segment covered John Kelly and Marilyn Turner's visit to the set of All My Children (an ABC-TV soap opera) and the set of General Hospital (an ABC-TV soap opera), and the special showed clips of their appearances on the two shows.  (Yea!  The special had clips of Emma Samms from General Hospital.)  One problem with the special is it was not made clear when John Kelly and Marilyn Turner did guest-shot on-air work for All My Childeren andGeneral Hospital (I only know they made the appearances in the 1980s).  Another problem with the special is it was not made clear who were secondary regulars on Kelly & Company, and yet another problem with the special is, when the clips of past guests were shown, the special used "pop-up menus" (made for the special) to give information about the guests.  The special had few pop-ups that gave information about Kelly & Company, such as those that would give facts about secondary regulars.  At the end of the special, there were no ending credits.
    At 7:00 p.m., WXYZ-TV aired a special Action News at 7 newscast, using three persons who had been regular newscasters for the station in the past--Bill Bonds, John Kelly, and Marilyn Turner.  Bill Bonds and John Kelly did anchoring work for the special newscast, and Marilyn Turner did weather duties.  Some current reporters did work for the newscast, and they were Mary Conway and Cheryl Chodun, both of whom were seen on camera, and Anu Precash, who only did voice work.
    In the evening, from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., the station aired the special entitled From the Heart: 60 Years WXYZ-TV/DT Detroit (which is how I intrepreted the title), and the show was a highlights-history show about WXYZ-TV, which celebrated the sixty years of WXYZ-TV.  The host was Erik Smith, who still does work for the station on a regular basis, and some of the people who were seen in clips were Johnny Ginger (who hosted shows for children in the 1950s and 1960s), Jim Herrington (a former reporter), Bill Bonds (a former news anchor), Phil Nye (a  former news director), John Kelly, Marilyn Turner, and Tim Kiska (a television historian).  In addition, some of the current staffers of the station who did clips for the special were Diana Lewis, Don Shane, Robbie Timmons, Jerry Hodak, and Bob Sliva.  Some of the behind-the-scenes people who worked on the special were Sandy McPhee and Erik Smith (who were the producers), Paveen Sitaraman (who was the editor), and Chris Allen (who was the director of operations).  Unlike Best of Kelly & Company, From the Heart: 60 Years WXYZ-TV/DT Detroit did not use pop-ups to provide notes, such as notes about past on-air performers and hosts, and the special did not show as many off the past performers and hosts as it should have (some of the people that were mentioned were Pat Tobin and Johnny Slagle, Edithe Fern Melrose, George Pierrot, Van Patrick, Fred Wolf, Dee Parker, Soupy Sales, Johnny Ginger, and Rita Bell).

    Recently, a famous hotel in Detroit reopened, after having been renovated, and a grand opening celebration was held on Saturday, October 25, 2008, and the event was covered by WDIV-TV, Channel 4 (the NBC-TV affiliate in Detroit), through a show entitled Book Cadillac: The Next Chapter.  The show was hosted by Guy Gordon and Karen Drew, and the two on-duty reporters were Paula Tutman and Hank Winchester (news anchors Carmen Harland and Devin Scillian were guests at the event, and, for a few moments, Devin Scillian played a piano).  The Book-Cadillac Hotel (officially known now as the Westin Book-Cadillac Hotel) was open from 1924 to 1984, and I have found in my researching of Detroit TV history that it was used as a place for election coverage during the early days of Detroit television.  Incidentally, the musical guest for the special was Michael McDonald (once a "Doobie Brother" of the musical group called "The Doobie Brothers").

    It was Halloween on Friday, October 31, 2008, and, on that day, WALD-TV, Channel 38, aired a special entitled Scary Encounters (which may have aired at other times).  The program started running at 11:30 p.m. and ran for thirty minutes (or so, of course).  The host was Dr. Rogelio Mills, who also received a "narrator" credit, an "executive producer" credit, a "series created by" credit, and a "pneumatology consultant" credit.  Some of the other persons who took part were Anthony Wichowski (who, for one, was the director of the program) and Alisa Hannah (who played the "Snake Goddess" and the "Lady in White").  The program was designed to show some ghosts to viewers, and, for instance, the host went to Belle Isle (of Detroit, Michigan) to find ghosts and such.  "For the record," I note that the program was "padded," and, for instance, the host did long, drawn-out, slow talking segments before the camera a number of times, and that made the program drag, and, ultimately, the program was not a spooky program.

    And, "for the record," I note that I am aware that John Smyntek has left his post of writing for the Detroit Free Press.  His last work was to write the Names & Faces column, which, for example, sometimes had information about local television and local radio, such as news about someone starting to work at a station.  Officially, his last column was published on Sunday, October 26, 2008, though the column was not a regular column with new information--the column was sort of a review (his final real column had been presented the day before).  John Smyntek was at the newspaper for about 37 years, and now the Names & Faces column is written or "compiled" by B.J. Hammerstein.

    I have some notes from a magazine entitled Broadcasting & Cable, which happens to be one of those weekly magazines that has been doing less and less from year to year over the last ten years (at least).  The edition for October 27, 2008 (page 15) noted that "This TV," a network of MGM-related movies and programs that is designed for subchannel distribution (of television stations), was scheduled to be launched in some markets on November 1, 2008.  And the edition of the magazine for October 20, 2007 (page 59) noted that 8.4% of the homes in the U.S. are not ready for "digital" television (I wonder if that information takes into account the many second, third, fourth, et cetera analog television sets that people have, and I think, really, a lot of people have analog sets that are not ready for "digital" television, and so I do not find the "8.4%" fact as something that tells a useful story--a lot of sets are not ready for the "digital" days).

    Now, let me talk about a weekly program called Rosie Live, particularly the debut episode, which showed up on NBC-TV on Wednesday, November 25, 2008.  I have read thousands (countless numbers) of television reviews in weekly Variety over the years (actually, the years of  articles goes from the 1940s to today), and one thing that I have learned about variety shows is the host has to be likeable (or at least that was the rule in, for example, the 1950s and 1960s, when people wanted likeable people to show up in their homes from week to week to entertain them), and, overall, Rosie Live and the host--Rosie O'Donnell--were unlikeable.  In fact, right from the start, Rosie O'Donnell turned off some viewers by making a big cheer for Barack Obama, and during the show, Rosie O'Donnell's voice was often shrill, and the singing numbers having Rosie O'Donnell and celebrities often had bad notes or did not gel.  Much of the show looked like a name-dropping show, since people just seemed to come on and do not much.  Some of the name-talents that appeared were Harry Connick, Jr., Gloria Estefan, Jane Krakowski, Liza Minnelli, Clay Aiken, Conan O'Brien, and Alec Baldwin, and there was a dance duo, and there were some acrobatic-type (sort of) performers, and Alanis Morissette did another one of her depressing songs (despressing songs or unlikeable songs or angry songs (like many rap songs) have been commonplace for pop music since the early 1990s it seems to me), and the show offered what was deemed by the producers to be comedy, such as "fat jokes" about Rosie O'Donnell (which, really, were not funny).  The show did not come off as something that a regular person would want to see from week to week.  By the way, the audience surely did scream wildly and overly during the Jane Krakowski bit (the screaming seemed fake).  All flash and no substance with an unlikeable host can kill a variety show, and so goes television (and more about unlikableness will be covered in T.H.A.T. #57).  (By the way, what happened to that series called Do Not Disturb, which I talked about in T.H.A.T. #54, that, for one, had the unlikeable penis joke?)

    Oh, hold it!  Maybe, you missed out on seeing Rosie Live.  For example, for people in the East, the show was run at 8:00 p.m., but TV Guide--for the day--had had the show listed for 9:00 p.m.  Oh, well.  (TV Guide as a company or thing is up for purchase, and when it is sold--if it is sold--it should be interesting to see if the magazine evolves into even more flash and no substance.)

    Let me cleanse the eyes.  Forget Rosie O'Donnell as something to see.  Instead, I present a "cutie" for real guys (not the wimpy guys that America seems to be producing more and more each day, such as those who are not up to showing up "crappy" people and politicians, fearing they might offend someone).  JoAnna Garcia is a current regular on a series entitled Privileged that airs on The CW on a weekly basis (the series might bug you--the idea of "privileged" stuff), and she was a regular on Reba, which, for instance, Lifetime is running in repeat form.  JoAnna Garcia is a cutie, especially with dark hair (she looks good in a photograph presented on page 47 of TV Guide for December 8-14, 2008).  So, for example, if you are playing pool in the basement and relaxing and Privileged is on, tune in to see JoAnna Garcia (you can always have the sound down, not wanting to hear what is going on).

   I started out this edition of T.H.A.T. with information about a TV-movie that has "sex" in the title (the triva-question thing), and I end with another TV-movie that has "sex" in the title (finally getting around to noting it).  Lifetime aired Sex and Lies in Sin City: The Ted Binion Scandal on October 25, 2008.  Matthew Modine played Ted Binion, and some of other performers were Mena Suvari (who played a stripper), and Marcia Gay Harden..

Stay well!


P.S. 1: ABC-TV, CBS-TV, Fox TV, and NBC-TV have yet to present at least a one-hour special  about the ecomonic crisis of 2008, such as dealing with the underlying reason for the fall, which would have to focus on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the managers and former managers related to those two federal-government related entities and on federal-government laws affecting the issuing of mortgage loans (see T.H.A.T. #54 for a talk about some specials that the networks did offer).  Oh, have you come to understand what triggered the economic crisis yet?  Can you explain the answer to someone else and explain the answer correctly?  If you cannot expain it correctly to someone else, you do not know the answer, and that is bad for you and for everyone.

P.S. 2: In T.H.A.T. #53 and T.H.A.T. #55, I talked about the television news industry in the United States of America, and one reason that I did that was to help new people in the country, and through what is offered in those two editions of T.H.AT., a person can learn, for example, how bad the American public was informed about the nature of presidental candidates for the 2008 election.  Part of the reason that the American public can be called dumb is television does a poor job of presenting news about political candidates and political ideas, and another reason is newspapers do a poor job, too.  Take the thought that follows in the next six sentences and keep it in your head.  A man named Rex Burgess of Clay, Michigan, submitted a short opinion piece to the Detroit Free Press, and the Detroit Free Press published it, and the opening line of the piece was "The Republican legislators responsible for the worst financial management in history are now chastising Detroit for not foreseeing the total meltdown of the American ecomony and having responded to it several years before it happened...." (Burgess, Rex.  "Congress should declare bankruptcy."  Detroit Free Press, 26 November 2008, p. 11D.).  There are a couple problems with the quoted material, but the big one is the "Republican legislators" part.  It has been the Democrats who have had control on the Congress for a couple years, and Democrats were responsible for the financial crisis (as can be seen through my document entitled THOUGHTS AND PIECES OF LOGIC for the individual woman and the individual man), and the Democrats will have even more control of the Congress when the recently elected people take office in January 2009).  So, Rex Burgess right from the start of his piece passes along wrong information and keeps readers stupid.  In addition, if the Detroit Free Press were a better newspaper, it would have used parentheses around some text (underneath the piece submitted by Rex Burgess) to note something like: "Editor's note: The Democrats have had control of the Congress for the past couple years."  I can argue well that ignorance is abundant in the United States of America, though it is the twenty-first century, and ignorance is perpuated by many entities of the television news industry (such as the news units of the main broadcast networks) and by some newspapers today.

    P.S. 3: So, did you hear the one about the two guys--Eitan Gorin and Dan Mirvish--who were on a quest to get a television show so they invented a guy named "Martin Eisenstad" (he was a fake guy) and made the guy associated with something call the "Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy" and spread the rumor--false information--through "blog" material over the Internet that Sarah Palin (a candidate for the vice president of the United States of America and a Republican) did not know Africa was not a country? (Smerconish, Michael.  "There's a price to pay for downsizing newsrooms."  Detroit Free Press, 20 November 2008, p. 3C.) (Topcik, Joel, with John Eggerton.  "Media Duped by 'Martin Eisenstadt' Show."  Broadcasting & Cable, 17 November 2008, p. 8.)

    And now it is trivia-question time!  What television show debuted on ABC-TV in prime time on September 23, 1962, and dealt with life in the twenty-first century?  Think about a company that produced sprockets.

copyright c. 2008
Date published: December 10, 2008

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