Posts Tagged ‘television’

Though Kathy Bates had been working regularly on film since at least 1977, and I undoubtedly had seen her in some of those shows and movies, the first place I really recognized her was in the 1990 movie Misery.

“I’m your biggest fan” undoubtedly affected readers of the Stephen King novel, but to see her Annie Wilkes interact with Paul Sheldon (James Caan)… let’s put it this way; I haven’t seen that movie since I viewed in the cinema, and it STILL makes me shudder. She captured the Best Actress Oscar and a Golden Globe.

My favorite scene of hers, though, was in Fried Green Tomatoes (1991), the bit in a parking lot here or here, when Evelyn Couch got tired of being treated like an old davenport. The vicarious pleasure I felt was surprisingly strong.

From IMBD: “Kathleen Doyle Bates was… raised in Memphis, Tennessee. She is the youngest of three girls… One of her ancestors, an Irish emigrant to New Orleans, once served as President Andrew Jackson’s doctor.

“By the mid-to-late 1970s, Kathy was treading the boards frequently as a rising young actress of the New York and regional theater scene… She took her first Broadway curtain call in 1980’s ‘Goodbye Fidel,’ which lasted only six performances. She then went directly into replacement mode when she joined the cast of the already-established and highly successful ‘Fifth of July’ in 1981.

I have enjoyed her work in several other TV shows and films, including:

* a prostitute in Woody Allen’s Shadows and Fog (1991)
* the unsinkable Molly Brown in Titanic (1997)
* the villainous Miss Hannigan in a Disney version of Annie (1999)
* quirky, liberal mom Roberta Hertzel in About Schmidt (2002), for which she received a Best
Supporting Actress nomination
* well-to-do Jo Bennett in the latter stages of the US version of The Office (2010-2011)
* Gertrude Stein in Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011)

Kathy Bates turns 70 on June 28, 2018, and by the look of her upcoming credits does not appear to be retiring any time soon, despite living with lymphedema. She has been the national spokesperson for the Lymphatic Education & Research Network.

Early in this blog, I tried to make the case that people generally ought to use cursing/”foul language” sparingly, lest it come back to bite them. I gave up the fight, as I was told, repeatedly, “it’s the way everyone talks.” I do not believe that to be true, but that was the standard response.

I was surprised by the Roseanne Barr situation. Oh, I wasn’t taken aback by a racist tweet, only that it was that particular message that got her in trouble, having seen other vile stuff from her.

And not just recently. Writer Ken Levine, who unwittingly got into a feud with her has noted how toxic she could be to her writers one her earlier show and had predicted her downfall.

Writer Mark Evanier noted: “The speed with which the decision was made as well as the star’s reputation for… I’ll be polite and say ‘instability.’ Deciding to ax one of your most popular shows is not an action taken on impulse. It’s the kind of thing you run past a lot of people including lawyers to determine any unforeseen legal complications.”

Then I finally got around to watching Samantha Bee did a great six-minute piece on her show Full Frontal about the regime’s untenable treatment of separating parents from children as young as 13 months, even for families that have entered the country legally.

And it’s all but forgotten because she chose to use the word feckless, followed by a word I’m fairly sure I’ve never used in this blog. “Feckless twit” would have been accurate description of the First Daughter – feckless means “lacking initiative or strength of character; irresponsible” – and wouldn’t have totally underminded Bee’s message.

So people write: “First Roseanne Barr then Samantha Bee. Do people no longer have any self control?” They talk about double standards. I suppose the difference is that Roseanne is a multiple repeat offender.

While I’m on the topic, I thought Michelle Wolf’s profanity at the White House Corespondents’ Dinner this spring also lessened its impact. The comments, especially about the press’ too-cozy relationship with the regime was dead on, but some selective words became the story, not the underlying message.

I’m not trying to be a prude here, merely pragmatic. If you want to speak truth to power, make sure the type of words you’re using don’t negate the message.

After reading that Joseph Campanella died at the age of 93 recently, I realized that I had absolutely seen him in various television programs for nearly 50 years. You might not have known his name, but he was definitely, “Oh, THAT guy.”

The list of his TV credits is massive. I’m only going to mention programs I actually watched.

Before I knew who he was, I saw him on such shows as Route 66 (1962-1963), where he played two different characters, and The Fugitive (1964-1967), where he played four separate folks in three years, including in the momentous penultimate episode.

In fact, he portrayed multiple characters in series a lot: The Virginian; Night Gallery; Marcus Welby, M.D.; Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law; The F.B.I.; Gunsmoke; Ironside; Medical Center; Quincy M.E.; and Murder, She Wrote.

In the first season of Mannix (1967-1968), the private detective (Mike Connors) worked for Lew Wickersham (Campenella) at Intertect, before Mannix went off on his own. Campanella was nominated for a Primetime Emmy as Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Drama in 1968, but did not win.

The Bold Ones: The Lawyers (1969-1972) was a rotating series. Walter Nichols (Burl Ives), an experienced lawyer, served as a mentor to two attorney brothers (Campanella, James Farentino). I watched all the law shows in those days.

On One Day at a Time (1976-1982), Campenella appeared eight times as Ed Cooper, the ex-husband of Ann Romano (Bonnie Franklin) and father to Julie (Mackenzie Phillips) and Barbara (Valerie Bertinelli). In his first episode, Ann is “excited about her new job until she learns” that Ed is getting remarried. In his last, Ed is present for Barbara’s wedding.

He was in three episodes of Beauty and the Beast (1988-1990) as Dr. Peter Alcott.

I started watching the soap opera Days of Our Lives in 1990. Joseph Campenella was in his second run (1987-1988, 1990-1992) as the villain Harper Deveraux. In 1989, he was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award as Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, but lost.

He was the voice of Dr. Curt Connors / Lizard in the animated Spider-Man (1994-1997) series.

Having been a lawyer in so many series, he was appropriately cast five times as Judge Joseph Camp in The Practice (1998-2001).

Finally, in terms of my viewing, Campanella played Joe in 11 of the 36 episodes of the 2000-2001 series That’s Life with Heather Dubrow, Ellen Burstyn, Kevin Dillon and Paul Sorvino, a program no one I know ever saw, other than my wife.

And I didn’t mention the wealth of his one-shot appearances, or shows I never viewed, such as The Bold and the Beautiful or The Colbys.

Joseph Campanella was always a solid performer, and was the backdrop of most of my television viewing life.

It occurred to me that I haven’t seen The Last Jedi, the 8th (VIIIth?) Star Wars film or Rogue One, which, I gather, fits between III and IV? But it wasn’t a specific disdain for VII, The Force Awakens, but rather a meh attitude.

Whereas I pretty much hated the first prequel, The Phantom Menace, for reasons besides Jar Jar. So I never saw II or III, possibly to my eternal detriment, I am told. Whatever.

As someone who used to collect comic books for about a quarter of a century, I know a little about the completist mentality. When I bought Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1 (1972) and forward, I had to pick up the Amazing Spider-Man #123, which featured the character.

The I discovered AS-M #122 was still on the newsstand – the death of Gwen Stacy! – and I eventually started getting all the Spider-Man books: Spectacular Spider-Man, Marvel Team-Up, even Marvel Tales, which reprinted early AS-M issues.

Then Todd McFarlane started doing Spider-Man (1990), a comic fanboy’s dream. I hated it. I bought three or four issues, decided that whoever was under the mask was NOT the Peter Parker I cared about, and dropped it.

When I picked up Sub-Mariner #50 (also 1972), not only did I get the new issues, including The Defenders, I got all the back issues, including, as it turns out Tales to Astonish #70-101, and Iron Man and Sun-Mariner #1, and only.

(Hey, it’s Free Comic Book Day tomorrow! Yes, I’ll go.)

I tend to be lyal that way about TV shows. I watched a show called The Closer (2005-2012), and when it evolved into Major Crimes (2012-2018), I stayed with until the end.

Grey’s Anatomy is now the darling of the binge-watchers. I’ve just viewed it every week since 2005. It has jumped the shark twice (thrice?) but has managed to right the ship, with recent interesting story lines involving immigration and #MeToo without being (too) preachy.

But it’s difficult for me to start watching a new series. There’s a LOT of TV out there, and, I am told, a great deal of it is excellent. I’m like Ado Annie from the musical Oklahoma; it’s All Er Nuthin’.

As I get older, recognizing a finite amount of time, nuthin’ seems to be winning.

Liz Bishop, near the lower right, in front of the CBS 6 logo

When I was growing up, occasionally there would be an editorial produced by the general manager of a television station to discuss a vital issue of the day, such as whether to build a new bridge.

The words he said – it was virtually always a he – came from that local broadcaster, someone who lived in your community, not NYC or LA or DC, and had greater potential for trust and accountability. The editorial was well labeled and set apart in the local news broadcast, usually at the very end.

The Federal Communications Commission was very concerned about any one company having too much dominance in any local marketplace or nationally, and it had strict limits on radio and television station acquisition.

That was then. In August 2017, The Guardian ran a story This is Sinclair, ‘the most dangerous US company you’ve never heard of’. Michael Copps, the George W Bush-appointed former chairman of the FCC, said those words.

So did John Oliver, host of HBO’s weekly satirical show Last Week Tonight, when he introduced an 18-minute segment on Sinclair in July 2017, as he noted the dreadful “must carry” requirement the company has been imposing on its 173 local news stations across the country to “parrot right-wing propaganda” and unsubstantiated conspiracy theories.

The current regime’s FCC has aided Sinclair’s expansion. Jared Kushner, son-in-law-in-chief, said back in December 2016, “We struck deal with Sinclair for straighter coverage.”

Now, the broadcast group’s proposed merger with Tribune Media is in the spotlight. If this unprecedented-in-size agreement is approved, it will have control of local TV stations reaching 72% of the country, including New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, the nation’s three largest media markets. “The FCC chair Ajit Pai — who single-highhandedly has sought to kill Net Neutrality — is under investigation by the FCC’s inspector general for greasing the wheels for Sinclair.

What has caught the nation’s attention recently is this viral video put together by Deadspin “showing news anchors all over the country forced by Sinclair to parrot the same canned scripts attacking their own profession.”

It was heartbreaking to see Liz Bishop, the longtime anchor of WRGB, Channel 6 in Schenectady, NY, one of the oldest stations in the country, on the Deadspin video. It appears that their contracts make it too expensive to quit. It is difficult for staff to fight their overlords.

What to do? Write to the FCC and members of Congress, opposing the Sinclair/Tribune merger. Write to your local Sinclair stations and let them and their advertisers know that you are boycotting both as long as the “must-carry” material appears on their news broadcasts. Lessee, what else?

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