This Was Me At 5 Years Old

image

Advertisements

Please Make it Happen People!

Father Dougal McGuire for Pope!!

image

This Day in History (February 12)

Feb 12, 2008: Writers’ strike ends after 100 days

History.com

Hollywood’s longest work stoppage since 1988 ends on this day in 2008, when members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) vote by a margin of more than 90 percent to go back to work after a walkout that began the previous November 5.

The writers’ strike began during the negotiation of the WGA’s latest contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents over 300 production companies. Negotiations stalled after WGA members demanded a share of the revenues generated by movies, television shows and other works distributed on the Internet and viewed on computers, cell phones and other new-media devices.

Heavily covered by the press, the walkout proved to be much more damaging to the entertainment industry than expected. More than 60 TV shows had to be shut down, causing a drop in ratings and the loss of tens of millions of dollars in ad revenue for the networks. By the end, the strike was estimated to have cost the local L.A. economy more than $3 billion, taking into account lost wages for writers and crew members, lost business for service industries such as catering and equipment rental and reduced consumer spending. For the duration of the strike, TV viewers at home were forced to go without new episodes of their favorite shows, as networks dealt with the shutdown of production by loading the schedule with reruns and increased amounts of reality programming (such as a revamped version of the 1990s hit American Gladiators).

Negotiators reached a tentative agreement on February 8, and both the East Coast and West Coast branches of the WGA ratified the deal on February 10. Two days later, the writers themselves approved the truce, and a new contract with the AMPTP was signed February 25. Based in part on a deal signed the previous month between production companies and the Directors Guild of America, the new contract gave WGA members residual payments for programs streamed online (at a much higher rate than that paid for DVDs) and formalized union jurisdiction over programming created for the Web. Writers would be paid for shows streamed on advertising-supported Web sites and WGA members hired to write original content for the Web would be covered under a union contract.

Though labor experts and WGA supporters heralded the outcome as an important victory for the striking writers, the contract included several key concessions. Studios could hire non-union writers to work on low-budget Internet shows, for example, and no residuals would be paid to writers for repeat shows viewed online within a few weeks after the original show aired on television. The strike also failed to win the union jurisdiction over the ever-more-important realms of reality programming and animation.

Still, in an email message to East and West Coast writers groups quoted in the New York Times, Patric M. Verrone, president of the West Coast guild, and Michael Winship, his East Coast counterpart, stressed the positive ending to the 2007-08 writers’ strike: “Much has been achieved, and while this agreement is neither perfect nor perhaps all that we deserve for the countless hours of hard work and sacrifice, our strike has been a success.”

This Day in History (January 3)

Jan 3, 1952: Dragnet TV show debuts

History.com

“Just the facts, ma’am.” On this day in 1952, Sergeant Joe Friday’s famous catchphrase enters American homes via a new entertainment device: the television. A popular radio series since 1949, the police drama Dragnet became one of the first TV series filmed in Hollywood, instead of New York. It also began a long, nearly unbroken line of popular crime and police TV dramas, continuing into the present day with the ubiquitous Law & Order and CSI (and their seemingly endless spin-offs).

The driving creative force behind Dragnet was its producer, director and star, Jack Webb, who portrayed a laconic Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) sergeant, Joe Friday. After playing a small role in the 1948 film noir He Walked By Night, Webb created a radio series for the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) network that, like the film, was based on actual LAPD cases. As the narrator of the show, Webb provided a matter-of-fact commentary on how the police department worked and how detectives went about solving the specific cases.

When the hit radio series moved to NBC Television’s Thursday night schedule, Webb and the actor who played Friday’s partner, Barton Yarborough, moved with it, though Yarborough died of a heart attack shortly after the pilot aired. He was replaced by a series of actors over the years, including Barney Phillips, Herb Ellis, Ben Alexander and Harry Morgan. The TV show was an instant success, locking down a spot in the Top 10 through 1956 and spawning numerous imitators, not to mention a hit record based on the distinctive four-note opening of its theme song. Its formula was simple and consistent: After a prologue (“The story you are about to hear is true; the names have been changed to protect the innocent”) and a fade-in on a shot of Los Angeles, each show unfolded almost like a documentary, following the sometimes mundane workings of the police detectives as the case moved towards its inevitable conclusion–the capture of the guilty perpetrator and a voice-over description of his or her fate.

Based on the show’s success–by the mid-1950s, Dragnet was watched by more than half of American households–Warner Brothers released a film version in 1954. The series reached the end of its initial run in 1959, but was revived in 1967 and ran for three more years. By the late 1960s, Friday had begun to more openly voice the conservative views of the show’s creators, issuing lectures on the importance of God and patriotism that were meant as a warning to the growing hippie counterculture of Vietnam-era America. In the years to come, despite a 1980s revival after Webb’s death, Dragnet would be eclipsed by the popularity of such crime-themed dramas as The Mod Squad, Hawaii Five-O, Hill Street Blues and the reality series COPS and America’s Most Wanted.

Later incarnations of Sergeant Joe Friday include Dan Aykroyd, co-star (alongside Tom Hanks) of the hit 1987 comedy version of Dragnet, which was more a parody than a remake. In 2003, Law & Order producer Dick Wolf launched a Dragnet series on ABC, starring Ed O’Neill as Friday. It was canceled shortly after the start of its second season.

This Day in History (December 29)

Dec 29, 1947: Cheers star Ted Danson born

History.com

On this day in 1947, the actor Ted Danson, who will become best known for his role as bar owner Sam Malone on the mega-hit TV sitcom Cheers, which originally aired from 1982 to 1983, is born in San Diego, California.

After graduating from Carnegie Mellon University, where he studied drama, Danson appeared on the 1970s soap opera Somerset and starred in TV commercials, most notably for the men’s fragrance Aramis. Danson catapulted to Hollywood stardom with his role as Sam Malone, a former professional baseball player and ladies man who runs a Boston-based bar called Cheers in the sitcom of the same name. The show, which premiered on NBC on September 30, 1982, and opened with the now-classic theme song “Where Everybody Knows Your Name,” centers around a group of regulars who hang out at Cheers, including lovable but dim-witted bartender Woody Boyd (Woody Harrelson), know-it-all mailman Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger), frequently unemployed Norm Peterson (George Wendt), feisty waitress Carla (Rhea Perlman) and snooty psychiatrist Fraser Crane (Kelsey Grammer). (Crane later got his own long-running sitcom, Frasier, which originally aired from 1993 to 2004). Among the main storylines on Cheers were Sam Malone’s lengthy on-again, off-again romantic relationships with waitress-grad student Diane Chambers (Shelley Long, who was a Cheers cast member from 1982-1987) and businesswoman Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley, a regular from 1987-1993). During its 11-season run, Cheers featured guest appearances by a number of celebrities and public figures, including Johnny Carson, then-Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill and Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek.

Created by James Burrows and brothers Glen and Les Charles, Cheers was almost cancelled due to poor ratings during its first season; it hung on, however, and eventually became a massive hit with audiences. The show was nominated for a total of more than 100 Emmy Awards, and it won 28. The final episode of Cheers aired on May 20, 1993, and attracted more than 80 million viewers, making it one of the top-rated finales in TV history. (The all-time record holder, the 1983 M*A*S*H finale, was seen by some 106 million people, while more than 76 million viewers tuned in to the 1998 finale of Seinfeld.)

Following Cheers, Danson starred as a cranky doctor in the TV sitcom Becker, which aired on CBS from 1998 to 2004. Among his more recent TV credits are recurring roles on Curb Your Enthusiasm and Damages. Danson has also appeared in a number of movies, including 1979’s The Onion Field, which marked his big-screen debut; 1981’s Body Heat, featuring Kathleen Turner and William Hurt; the 1987 hit comedy Three Men and a Baby, with Tom Selleck and Steve Guttenberg; Made in America (1993), which co-starred Danson’s then-paramour Whoopi Goldberg; and Saving Private Ryan (1998). Danson has been married to his third wife, the actress Mary Steenburgen (Melvin and Howard, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Elf) since 1995.

This Day in History (December 13)

Dec 13, 1925: Dick Van Dyke born

History.com

On this day in 1925, Dick Van Dyke, the quintessential “nice guy” actor who would become known for his performances in such movie classics as Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, as well as the popular 1960s TV sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show, is born in West Plains, Missouri.

Van Dyke, who was raised in Danville, Illinois, served in the military during World War II and in the 1950s took various acting jobs and hosted a series of TV game shows. In 1960, he starred on Broadway in Bye Bye Birdie, a role which earned him a Tony Award. The following year, he signed on to play comedy writer Rob Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show. The show was the brainchild of the writer-director-producer Carl Reiner, who reportedly based the sitcom on his own experiences working as a comedy writer for Sid Caesar. The Dick Van Dyke Show featured a strong ensemble cast that included Mary Tyler Moore as Rob’s wife Laura, Morey Amsterdam and Rose Marie as Rob’s colleagues Buddy and Sally and Larry Matthews as the Petries’ son, Ritchie. In the show’s opening credits, Van Dyke was famously seen tripping over an ottoman in the family’s home in New Rochelle, New York, where, in keeping with the conservative broadcasting standards of the time, Rob and Laura Petrie slept in separate beds. After The Dick Van Dyke Show went off the air in 1966, Mary Tyler Moore starred in her own successful TV sitcom, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which originally aired from 1970 to 1977.

In addition to his TV success in the 1960s, Van Dyke appeared in a string of movies, including the 1963 big-screen adaptation of Bye Bye Birdie, which co-starred Ann-Margret and Janet Leigh. The following year, he appeared as the charming chimney sweep Bert in Walt Disney’s movie musical Mary Poppins, which featured Julie Andrews, in her feature film debut, as the umbrella-toting super nanny. The film, now a beloved cinematic classic, earned 13 Academy Award nominations and took home five Oscars, including Best Actress for Andrews. Though Van Dyke received positive reviews for his singing and dancing, critics skewered him for his bad English accent. In 1968, Van Dyke had another hit movie musical with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, in which he plays the eccentric inventor Caratacus Potts, who develops a magic car. The film’s screenplay was co-written by Roald Dahl, the best-selling author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

From 1971 to 1974, Van Dyke starred in The New Dick Van Dyke Show, playing a Phoenix TV talk show host. The actor, who in the 1970s went public with his struggle with alcoholism, was featured in a series of made-for-TV movies and did guest appearances on various TV shows before he was cast in another successful series, the medical crime drama Diagnosis Murder. The show, which originally aired from 1993 to 2001, also featured Van Dyke’s son Barry Van Dyke.

After half a century in show business, Van Dyke continues to act. Among his recent movie credits are Curious George (2006) and Night at the Museum (2007).

This Day in History (November 30)

Nov 30, 2004: Jeopardy! contestant’s record winning streak ends

History.com

On this day in 2004, after winning 74 straight games and more than $2.5 million–a record for U.S. game shows–Jeopardy! contestant Ken Jennings loses. Jennings’ extended winning streak gave the game show a huge ratings boost and turned the software engineer from Salt Lake City, Utah into a TV hero and household name, at least temporarily. Barbara Walters named him one of the 10 most fascinating people of the year (along with Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Republican operative Karl Rove and hotel heiress-socialite Paris Hilton, among others) and Jennings appeared on such shows as Late Night with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and even Sesame Street.

Jennings, who was born in 1974, outside of Seattle, Washington, graduated from Brigham Young University in 2000, where he headed the school’s national quiz bowl team. Having grown up watching Jeopardy!, he made his first appearance on the show in June 2004. After a record-setting six-month run, Jennings lost on a show that aired November 30, 2004, when he was stumped by the answer: “Most of this firm’s 70,000 seasonal white-collar employees work only four months a year.” The correct response was the tax preparation company H&R Block. Propelled by his Jeopardy! fame, Jennings went on to become a pitchman for various products and write several books.

At the time of Jennings’ appearance, Jeopardy! was well-established as one of the top-rated game shows in American history. Created by TV talk-show host and entertainment mogul Merv Griffin (1925-2007), Jeopardy! debuted in 1964 on NBC, with Art Fleming serving as host. Griffin (who went on to create another hugely popular, long-running game show, Wheel of Fortune, which premiered in 1975) suggested a format in which contestants were given trivia answers in a variety of categories and then required to come up with the questions. Cancelled in 1975, Jeopardy! returned briefly, airing from 1978 through 1979. In September 1984, a syndicated version of Jeopardy! launched with Alex Trebek as host and Johnny Gilbert as the announcer.

Trebek, who was born in 1940 in Sudbury, Ontario, began his broadcast career in Canada and moved to America in the early 1970s, where he hosted such game shows as High Rollers and Battlestars. In 1991, he became the first person ever to host three game shows at one time, when he served as master of ceremonies for Jeopardy! along with Classic Concentration and To Tell the Truth. After more than two decades on Jeopardy!, Trebek has become a pop-culture icon and has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The erudite, articulate host is also a favorite parody target on Saturday Night Live and other shows.