Friday, November 30, 2012

Ripped From Yesterday's Headlines

When I think of hard-hitting, gritty, relevant TV drama, I tend to think of shows in the 1980's. "Hill Street Blues" is often considered the police drama that blew away the conventions laid down by NBC's "Dragnet" back in 1949, and paved the way for the Law & Order, and CSI franchises. In fact, in the book Brought To You In Living Color by Marc Robinson, Hill Street creators Steven Bochco and Michael Kozoll put Fred Silverman, Brandon Tartikoff, and everyone else at the Peacock on notice that their new show would make "Dragnet" look like a nursery rhyme.

But what really made "Hill Street" and it's progeny break away was the addition of multiple story arcs among the various character. "Law & Order" actually marks a return to a more "Dragnet" simpler character arc format, as the soap opera usually takes a back seat to the procedural, and if things do get personal, it's usually the focus of one character per episode. Sure, "Hill Street" added stronger language and put some sexual tension in the squad room, but the blood and guts of police work was nothing all that new. And if you think hot-button issues didn't turn up on prime time until the 1980's, think again.

Let's go back to a simpler time and see what's on WIMA-TV in Lima, Ohio for Thursday August 14, 1969. All programs listed in the Toledo Blade on this date are in color unless otherwise noted. The Blade makes it a point to inform us that WIMA is on "UHF channel 35." And WBGU is on "UHF channel 70." Let's see what's on after the six o'clock news.

6:30 - The Huntley-Brinkely Report. NBC. This was the Big Daddy of evening network newscasts through the '60's, but on this date a change was in the wind. Walter Cronkite's knowledge and enthusiasm during the Apollo moon landing coverage had won over viewers who found CBS coverage more interesting. In few more years, Cronkite would become "The most trusted man in America," while NBC's John Chancellor would be that other guy and Huntley-Brinkley would be as outdated as a Studebaker Lark.
 7:00 - I Love Lucy (b/w) Syndication. Episode details are not listed, but I'm guessing it's the one where Lucy gets into trouble and Ricky says something in Spanish. WIMA master control is running a 16mm film that by now is starting to look rather beat.

7:30 - Daniel Boone - NBC. Fess Parker stars in one of the last of the frontier/westerns of the era. Episode details are not available, but The Blade runs a feature article on co-star Patricia Blair who says she likes being on the long-running show. Rosie Grier will join the cast in the next and final season.

8:30 - Ironside - NBC. Raymond Burr stars in the role of a detective in a wheelchair in the days when it assumed a wheelchair meant you were helpless. In tonight's episode, a female officer goes undercover as an unwed mother to catch people performing illegal abortions. The Blade features this episode in its reviews and notes it stays away from controversy. Still, just the mention of the word "abortion" in 1969 must've put some people on edge.

9:30 - Dragnet - NBC. Revived from the 1950's, this era of "Dragnet" is now in color, co-stars Harry Morgan as Friday's partner Gannon, includes the new Miranda warning with every arrest, and has a subtitle for the year of the show, thus the full title is actually "Dragnet, 1968" since this is a rerun of the latest season. Tonight, Friday and Gannon search for the mother of a baby found in a trash can. Good thing we put the kids to bed back when "Daniel Boone" went off.

10:00 - Golddiggers - NBC. Dean Martin's variety show was the number one show in America. Living the lifestyle Quagmire only dreams about, Dino surrounded himself with fly girls dubbed The Golddiggers. In this summer special, the girls host the show without Dino. Musical numbers, dance routines, and cornball sketches fill the hour.

Note that the network takes over at 7:30; the Prime Time Access rule wouldn't come along until the 70's, pushing network prime time back to 8:00 in the East. This rule actually only affected the top markets, but as New York City goes, so goes the rest of the affiliates. In fact, NBC's master control was channel 4 WNBC.

It is assumed that parents control the TV, and they will send the kids to bed at 8:30. This used to be called The Family Hour.

I can find no "Viewer Discretion Is Advised" warnings on the listings.

Two heavy-hitting dramas are followed by a burlesque show. This may seem weird, but the general thought of the day was that Mother goes to bed before Father, who stays up for the news and maybe Johnny Carson. Dean Martin's playboy club type atmosphere appealed more to men.

So there you have it. Sweet, innocent TV from the good old days. Stay tuned for "Laugh In."

Monday, November 26, 2012

R.I.P. Deborah Raffin

Over the weekend, we heard about the death of Larry Hagman, the actor best known for his role as J.R. Ewing in the prime time soap "Dallas," and beloved by a lot of kids my age as Captain Tony Nelson in "I Dream of Jeanie." Condolences go out to his family and Barbara Eden. Many others have written much about Hagman, and all the accolades are well deserved. Please click on the link to the right and scan for the "News From ME" blog to read Mark Evanier's wonderful story about Larry Hagman.

Hollywood lost another actor late last week that you may not have heard of. Deborah Raffin died at the age of 59 of blood cancer. She appeared in a number of movies and TV shows from the mid-70's through the 80's. Her most infamous role was as college student damsel in distress in the made-for-TV grind house epic "Nightmare in Badham County." (1976) See, these two girls are driving through some outtake from Deliverance when their car breaks down, and... Well, you get the idea.

The obits I have read overlook one of her better made-for-TV efforts. "Sparkling Cyanide" (1983) was an updated SoCal version of Agatha Christie's whodunit (also known as "Remembered Death" in the US) costarring the about-to-be former-MASH star Harry Morgan. One of the screenwriters on that project who gave Raffin a little more to do than just being helpless was Sue Grafton, who had just finished "A is for Alibi."

Raffin's real calling came about when her husband Micheal Viner won a backgammon game against novelist and "I Dream of Jeanie" creator Sidney Sheldon. (That silly show left quite a footprint.) Sheldon lost $8,000, proving he may have been a prolific writer, but a lousy gambler. Instead of taking his money, Viner worked a deal to produce audio books - then known as books on tape - of two of Shelden's bestsellers. From that was born Dove Books On Tape in 1985. The company was a leader in attaining well-known actors and personalities to narrate the books, some with actual previous voice acting experience such as William Conrad.

Raffin and Viner sold off Dove in 1997 after running afoul of controversy from publishing Faye Resnick's "Nicole Brown Simpson: The Diary of a Life Interrupted" (1994). Viner liked to push the envelope, but the timing was too soon, as Dove appeared to some to be capitalizing on the O.J. murder victims. Viner and Raffin divorced in 2005. Viner died of cancer in 2009.

So, whenever you enjoy a well-read audio book, you have at least in part Deborah Raffin to thank.

Welcome to Hell

It may coming on to Winter in the US, but south of the Equator, Summer is looming. Here is another demented TV commercial that would never get the nod in the states, this one for air conditioners in Argentina. Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dumb Ways to Die

In the United States, public service announcements (PSA's) are a necessary evil supposedly aired to fulfill FCC requirements, but more than likely simply a time filler for unsold weekend or late night local break slots. While there are exceptions mainly aimed at children, most PSA's in America get their messages across with all the subtlety of a tsunami. To call this technique Shock and Awe, a military term, isn't far off the mark, as American PSA's for TV share their roots with "Refer Madness," World War II newsreels, and 1950's Atomic Age instructional films. If you're a good American, you'll sit up straight, pay attention, and take this as seriously as you do sex.

In recent years, blasting the viewer out of his comfort zone with harsh imagery and stark soundtracks, whether he deserves it or not, is believed to be the only way to break through the clutter... never mind that a continual onslaught of these images eventually desensitizes viewers to the point where they laugh at these things or simply reach for the remote. And does anybody really want something like this coming at them during Craig Ferguson?

Which is why I find this twisted little gem from Australia to be a breath of fresh air. It has everything most American PSA's - or commercials, for that matter - lack in abundance: eye-pleasing and attention-holding visuals, a catchy tune, and a message that doesn't screech at the viewer like Sister Mary Francis after getting hit by a spitball. Too bad something like this would probably never get cleared on most American TV stations.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Bye-Bye, Ho-Hos

There's lots of wailing and moaning today about the demise of Hostess snack foods. It's a long, complicated road to bankruptcy that terminated in a labor union strike which has led to the usual outpouring of pro vs. con union arguments, and it's true that union relations between Hostess management and union officials was not exactly chummy. Unfortunately, this is a story that requires far too much detail, back story, and comprehension of financial terminology such as "hedge funds" for most television news anchors to handle. So the national conversation via the Big Three broadcast networks has been more about reminiscing about Hostess fruit pies on the lunchbox, and what's in those Twinkies anyway? Omygod! No more Twinkies? As Rush says, that's the Drive By Media reaction.

Here's a detailed chronicle of the Hostess demise courtesy of CNBC. As you can see, it's a story that involves thousands of people losing their jobs, a segment of the US economy taking a hit, and the loss of American icons tantamount to giving Tony the Tiger or Ronald McDonald the boot. This story demands a little more mental effort from the lens meat than simply giggling over the life span of a Twinkie.

(We used to have morning show radio DJ's to make Twinkie jokes. Nowadays, it's up to Matt Lauer.)

And, if you read deeper than just the punchlines, you'll see that what really killed Hostess wasn't so much poor vulture fund management, or labor union disputes. At the bottom of it all is that fact that Hostess sales were down. The products were outdated. It was junk food, pure and simple. We adults who ignored our doctors and partook of a Ding Dong once in a while - OK, maybe once a week - knew full well we were consuming a package of chemicals that, assembled in another form, might be used to construct a car bumper. Nowadays, we take our cholesterol meds and munch on carrot sticks or grapes, or anything that won't send me to the ER. And we found healthier alternatives for our children. If you must find a way to blame Democrats for this, point to Michelle Obama for insisting children eat healthy meals, although she's only picking up on a trend that began decades ago. Hostess management, AND the labor unions, had plenty of time to read the writing on the wall, but failed to respond to changing American eating habits and concerns for child nutrition. The demise of Hostess ultimately rests on the Free Market.

Free Market choice. That's something broadcast news organizations might want to keep in mind the next time they feel the urge to giggle at a major news event.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Is TV Newsworthy?

Here's a link to The Verge's interview with NBC's Chief Digital Officer Vivian Schiller that you might find interesting and thankfully low on industry buzzspeak. Schiller brings an impressive set of credentials to her position at the Peacock, so if you, like me, still tend to look at job titles like "Chief Digital Officer" with skepticism, she might change your mind about the level of validity this position holds.

For me, the key sentence that sums up the interview is:

Social media rewards live viewing as opposed to time-shifting. If you’re in the television business, that’s a really great thing.

That's true for the news division, as well as the entertainment side. Anyone who's realized you can't leave master control unmanned during prime time anymore, knows how the broadcast networks have revived live programming in the form of talent contests and Survival-like non-talent contests in order to create unpredictable and Tweetable drama. The only excuse I can find for watching even one installment of "Big Brother" is to Tweet or IM your friends "OMG! This is so lame. LMAO."

News is the ultimate reality show.

The interview touches on how the different platforms require different approaches, and scratches the surface on why you can't get the entire newscast streamed: basically, the best way to get Millineals and Late Boomers to click out is to keep those 2-minute pharmaceutical ads on the stream. It's still very hard to monetize the website, and I have no idea how anyone can show a profit margin from somebody sending Tweets. And if the author takes the easy way out and puts those default box ads on the site saying, "OHIO, mortgages are at an all-time low!" you ain't gonna make it with me anyhow.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Goodbye, Smurfette

A part of television history died last week. Lucille Bliss, the actress who is probably best known by folks near my age as the voice of Smurfette for nine seasons on "The Smurfs," died at the age of 96. Here's a link to Yowp's obit complete with a recent photo which I'll share here.

That's June Foray on the left, with Bliss seated on the right.

Here's another link, this one to the Cartoon Brew site with a more historic perspective.

In both cases, you'll find interesting video interviews, and the segment on how Bliss was almost the voice of Elroy Jetson reveals how the business of voice acting can be brutal at times.

In 1949, Bliss became the voice of the title character in "Crusader Rabbit," the first cartoon series produced expressly for television. (Despite what misters Hanna and Barbera may have wanted you to believe.) So, Lucille Bliss was not only the first female TV cartoon voice star, but the first TV cartoon voice star, period. OK, yeah, Crusader Rabbit is a male character, but in that era, female cartoon voices were rare, with the Warner Brothers and Disney stables being pretty much men's clubs. (Tweety is a boy, just to be clear on that.) Only Mae Questel as Olive Oyl was more ubiquitous until "The Flintstones."

After tracking the voice of the evil stepsister Anastasia in the Disney feature "Cinderella,"  Bliss moved to San Francisco and hosted "The Happy Birthday To You Show" on KRON through the 1950's, making Lucille Bliss a genuine children's television pioneer as well.

She would also perform in Disney's "Alice in Wonderland," and several theatrical short cartoons, including that annoying little Cockney mouse Tuffy in the Tom and Jerry outing "Robin Hoodwinked." ("And there's the bloomin' key!") She worked in Disney's "101 Dalmatians" (1961) and after that, things got a little lean, due in no small part to being suddenly replaced by Daws Butler as the voice of Elroy in "The Jetsons." (Daws was blameless for this incident, but uncomfortably caught in the middle) Hannah and Barbera made good... even if it did take a while. Eventually, Bliss was cast as the voice of Smurfette in 1980, and a legend was born. In more recent years, a new generation of viewers heard Bliss as the voice of Miss Bitters in Nickelodeon's "Invader Zim" series.

Lucille Bliss, a legendary voice actor, and television host. We'll miss you, Smurfette.

UPDATE: Check out this post by Mark Evanier for more insight on Lucille Bliss.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sporting News

I don't usually comment on sports because there are about a trillion other bloggers who can do it far better than me, but a number of issues have my brain wandering into the "what if?" territory.

Let's start with that debacle the NFL calls the Rams/49ers game. Mike Pereira has a good rundown on the Fox Sports site describing what led to the game ending in a 13-13 tie. OK, so the refs weren't paying attention to the game clock, and time bled while refs were moving footballs, checking with each other, and as usually basically just screwing off while a bunch of millionaires stand around not playing football. Now, I'm not one to start conspiracy theories, but here's a "what if?" question.

As the Rams/Niners game creeps through overtime, real clock time is nearing 8:20 Eastern Standard. According to the contract obligations between the NFL and NBC, no other NFL game is to be on the air at the kickoff and during the playing of the Sunday Night Football game. The official air time of "Sunday Night Football" on NBC is 8:20 EST. (With extended Veteran's Day pre-game anthem and saluting time, the actual kick-off was closer to 8:30.) WHAT IF the officials were more concerned with bringing this game in for a landing before the 8:20 EST cutoff? Think that's a wild conspiracy theory? Well, imagine the meltdown at the Fox network's switchboard, as well as here at a local Fox affiliate, had the network been forced to cut away during the last minutes of a 13-13 tie between the Rams and the 49ers. The last time that sort of thing happened was in 1968, and after the infamous "Heidi Game" there were some major changes in how long-running games are handled by the networks.

With more and more air time being whiled away while viewers wait for the officiating crew to get the down markers to achieve perfect feng shui, or whatever it is they're doing to drag things out, might we see some changes to broadcast contracts that reflect the new normal of games requiring a four-hour window? Of course, the better resolution would be to speed up the game and get refs out of the way, but if you own the stadium, and have a stake in the concessions, your ultimate goal may be the NFL game that takes all day. I, for one, wouldn't want to see that happen. Three hours of the Browns is about all anyone should be forced to endure.

You think I'm being overly sensitive to game delays? For exhibit A, I point to the the very beginning of this week's Giants/Bengals game. First possession, five plays, the Bengals score a touchdown... and that's exactly how far we got into the game before the refs had to slam on the brakes and review the play. You can pretty much assume each and every touchdown will be subject to a review, and while those reviews may take a minute or two of real time each, think about how much time that adds up to during the course of a game with four touchdowns per team. That's eight minutes MINIMUM to review each play - more likely 10 to 12 as slow as some of these reviews are. And add to that the stoppages to look at fumbles, close shave receptions, how many guys were on the field, and various other reasons somebody can find to do anything but play football, and you're looking at an estimated 20 MINUTES of down time while all the guys in the booth can do is tread water. Ugh! No wonder DVR usage is up. You can TiVo Tebow down to about 90 minutes of actual football play time if you're sharp with the remote.

Now for radio, or satellite radio to be exact. This week's Bengals broadcast was positioned on a Sirius channel named "Stars Too." I was not familiar with "Stars Too" before Sunday, and I'm not sure why anyone engineering at Sirius thought putting an NFL game for general audiences on this channel was a good idea. I've just looked up the channel description on the Sirius website. "Talk for Guys..." it says. It should say "Talk for Guys Just Out of Basic or On Death Row." After the play-by-play ended, Sirius cut back to the regular programming on "Stars Too" most unceremoniously, and with no warning that regular programming on this channel would make Howard Stern say, "Guys, reel it in." We cut directly from Dave Lapham talking about... whatever... straight to something that makes an Eddie Murphy stand up routine sound like a prayer meeting. In the span of a minute I heard several (simile for bovine excrement) and (vulgarity for fornication) and a few (slang for fecal matter) tossed around like I had just dialed in an uncut version of "The Sopranos." Hey, Sirius! I'm not a prude, but I left the frat house years ago. You might want to review your channel placement policy.

On another sport, here's a "what if" you might not have thought of... What if the NHL falls in the woods, and there's nobody around to hear it? At last check, about half the hockey season is toast while owners and players continue their dispute. I don't know what this work action is all about, but personally I'd say it's about trying to fine new and creative ways to make sure nobody ever watches hockey. Here's a more pressing dilemma for broadcasters: if we're not making money on hockey now - and very few markets actually do - what if the strike is settled today and the NHL tries to make up for lost time? Are NBC affiliates going to get saddled with hockey games all over the weekly schedule? Will regular programming - an endangered species as it is - be disrupted while local stations try to explain to their clients why "Revolution" can't get on the air? And if there's a Stanley Cup series, do NBC affiliates really want their skeds shredded for a series based on less than half a season that nobody watched to begin with? We'd be better off scheduling "Heidi."

Friday, November 9, 2012

Post Election Stuff

As you might imagine, this was a busy week in the TV biz, although things cooled down quite a bit after the elections. It wasn't quite the long night I expected, after weeks of dire forecasts of deadlocked vote counts, late provisional ballots, and a battleground state full of undecided voters. We got the word that Obama was the winner during the 11 newscast, which provided the ultimate breaking news announcement during a newscast. But apparently, not as exciting as watching Karl Rove on Fox News go into labor and deliver a nest of monkeys when he heard the news.

Actually, I don't blame the guy. It was a bit surprising. Obama took Ohio? What are the other networks saying? Obama wins on all four majors? Aw man, and I just ordered extra large pizzas for the newsroom.

The networks kept things relatively low-tech Tuesday, relying on pretty much the same technology they use on a daily basis to get the job done. NBC went full-on theater tech with the transformation of Rockefeller Square into Democracy Square by painting a map of the US into the ice rink and overlaying either red or blue state cut-outs as the votes came in. I liked it, even if it was a little cutesy. Even so, there's bound to be at least one technological break-out during election coverage, and in this case it comes during a video clip of a WABC reporter on a live shot. Up until that day, mic flags were innocent little pieces of plastic with the station's "brand" appearing on all four sides. On election day, that changed with the introduction of the electronic mic flag. Affixed to the mic was something like a mobile phone screen, displaying an ever-changing, spinning, whirling, dancing series of WABC, Channel 7, ABC propaganda. Unfortunately, the gee-whiz factor of this device was blown away by the fact that the reason the rest of the country has been seeing this video clip is because the reporter made an embarrassing gaffe during a live shot. All this proves once again that all the technical smoke and mirrors on the microphone can't make up for an airhead reporter holding the microphone.

At our station, we also learned that election day, with 300 kabillion people on social media, is a bad time to use Skype for a live interview.

The big buzz from election night is the controversy over whether or not Diane Sawyer was drunk on the air. Personally, I could've used a whiskey sour myself at around 9:00, so I can understand the urge to lubricate the vocal chords with a little gasoline before going on the air. But rest assured, Diane was not blotto. The combination of lack of sleep, and having a thing in her ear called an Interrupted Feed Back (IFB) earpiece with the voice of the director telling her things like "We don't have the live shot, stay on camera three!" or "Our power is out! We gotta stay in studio. Diane, keep talking!" would make anybody seem disoriented. As for slurred speaking, if you've ever tried to tell someone something important over the phone while your 3-year-old is babbling something about something... Yeah, you know what I mean.

Now, we at the station face the daunting task of searching for dozens of now out-dated political ads and unceremoniously hitting the delete button on each one, thus forever flushing them out of existence. Hey, there's a positive side to election day after all.

Monday, November 5, 2012

So Long, Happy

Mike L. Fry died in an Indianapolis hospital Sunday at the age of 51. He was suffering from an autoimmune disease and awaiting a liver transplant. He ran his own fortune cookie business since 1988, Fancy Fortune Cookies. But most people in these parts know him best as Happy the Hobo, the host of "Happy's Place."

Starting in 1982, "Happy's Place" was already an anachronism in television: a local program with local talent produced in front of a live audience of children a la "Howdy Doody" and "Bozo" but with the ThunderCats. The show originated at Fort Wayne's WFFT then known as Super 55, as cable "super stations" were the current rage in those pre-Internet days. Chicago's WGN, the home of Bozo the Clown, had a strong presence in Northern Indiana, so Fry had to take a different approach to his character to avoid becoming a mere imitation. His hobo clown makeup revealed an inspiration owing more to Emmet Kelly, and his overall tact with the children was decidedly casual.

The show was a money maker, so when Fry retired from "Happy" in 1990 in order to pursue his fortune cookie business full-time, WFFT gamely kept the show running with a new actor playing Happy. It's not clear to me whether Fry or WFFT owned the intellectual property, but the fact that Happy appeared in Fancy Cookie Company's imaging suggests Fry owned the character. If that's the case, then the TV station had to pay Fry to use his likeness on the air. That seems only fair, but an unusual programming expense for a local station in a small market. And if my wife's opinion is any indication, the fans knew the original Happy was the best. The show soldiered on until 1997, by which time the pull of Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network was too strong for "Happy's Place" to compete.

Today's children's programming is written by people with degrees in child psychology, supervised by consultants with PHD's in childhood development, and sanitized of any potentially harmful or insensitive content. Or, it's created by a toy company or comic book publisher in order to move merchandise. I think it's great how children can access quality content now through the various sources available anytime, anywhere. But I can't help but wonder if we're losing something wonderfully inappropriate and charmingly subversive without a local children's show and a Happy the Hobo.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Weekend Off!

I'm going to be a cold, dispassionate bastard this weekend. I'm going to watch DVD's of classic Bugs Bunny cartoons, Scooby Doo, "Space Ghost Coast to Coast," Abbot and Costello, the Marx Brothers, probably "Airplane," and the "Firefly" collection a friend lent me. Oh, and sports. Lots and lots of sports. Notre Dame will kick ass Saturday afternoon, but I'll watch any game I get in HD or grabs my attention on the satellite radio. College, pro, high school, hell I'll watch even watch bowling. Anything... except the news. No news. Nadda. No more hurricane coverage. The only Sandy I want to see this weekend is the squirrel in "SpongeBob."

And if you think I'm being an insensitive sonafabitch, what I'm doing is nothing compared to what media types are doing - if they can - this weekend in the greater New York Tri-State region, where after a 20-hour day of shooting burned out houses, flooded streets, and a devastated Jersey Shore, a videographer just climbed seven flights of stairs to his apartment, poured Makers Mark over his Captain Crunch, and fell asleep in front of "My Little Pony." Let him sleep. He'll have to spend the rest of the weekend on the phone trying to get an insurance adjuster to show up at his mother's house in Rockaway some time before the next arrival of Halley's comet.

You... you with your remote and your Netfilx and your DVR... YOU can turn it off. The moment the burnout, or news fatigue, Jersey Shore Overload, or whatever you want to call it starts to kick in, YOU can push a button, walk away, and "fergetaboudit." Me? I just put in a relatively normal 40 hour week and I feel like I've been living inside an episode of "Revolution." (Running that show in master control does not help.) I've been through tornadoes, blizzards, and whatever that thing was that blew 90mph winds all over the Midwest last June and killed our power for several days, and just staying on the air when something like that happens can be exhausting. And then there's 9-11. After being on the job for 16 hours, my wife and I put in a DVD of Scooby Doo and vegetated into a restless slumber until the alarm went off at 4am and we did it again. Even if it's only for five minutes, if you get a chance to turn it off, you turn it off. It helps to keep you from punching walls.

The people working in the media in New York must be worn to a frazzle. Sure, Brian Williams comes off cool and debonair on the air, but meet him in the men's room between shows and say "How's it going?" and he'll probably come back with something like, "Why don't you jump up[REMOVED BY BLOG ADMINISTRATOR]"

I just read where it took David Letterman an hour and a half by car to journey the 7 miles from the Ed Sullivan Theater in Midtown, to the taping of "Jimmy Kimmel Live" in Brooklyn. And I go [primate feces] if there's a line at the drive-thru window at Burger King. What am I getting excited about? Compared to Letterman, I got nothing.

So this weekend, if you are so inclined do to such a thing, take a moment to think about the working media in Greater New York and other areas devastated by extreme acts of nature. Pause to think about the guy lugging a 40 pound camera with enough battery packs to start a bus through flood water. Think about the reporter who hasn't seen her kids in two days because it takes hours just to get out to Breezy Point. And then there's all the people holed up in the station or network compiling, editing, directing, writing, and basically having to be exposed to hour after hour of Sandy coverage and somehow getting through it without losing it and shoving a flash drive up the news director's left nostril. To these fine people, a toast. I raise my bowl of Captain Crunch to them as I download "SuperFriends" on YouTube.

Hang tough.