February 3, 2003 · 12:30 AM PST ·
AS YOU CAN SEE, I have posted a picture of a can of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup. This is the traditional Internet
symbol indicating that the proprietor of the weblog is too busy with pressing deadlines to update his site. Whenever you see it, you know that
though he's swamped, he'll be back in a day or three — or sooner, if events warrant — and that he'll resume posting, just as soon as he
gets his work schedule under control. And come to think of it, wouldn't a hot, steaming bowl of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup just hit the
spot right about now? Mmm, good.
February 1, 2003 · 9:00 PM PST ·
I STILL HAVE nothing but the obvious to say about the Shuttle Disaster, except that — after 9/11 — I wonder if we
aren't getting numb to this kind of thing. Or maybe (better) we're more conscious of our own resiliency and so are less inclined to see
catastrophes through that "nothing will ever be the same again" mindset.
WE'VE BEEN PUSHING the Time-Life videos of The Dick Van Dyke Show on this site. Five volumes are presently
available on DVD or VHS, each containing four of the best episodes of the show, plus a number of special features. The DVDs have great picture
quality and the shows are well-chosen, and the only negative, as I noted earlier, was that some of us would really like the complete run of the show
in chronological order. That, alas, is not currently available. But it may be in the not-too-distant future, to those of us who have $800
to spend. The place to visit, if you're interested, is www.dickvandykeshow.com, an
enterprise run by Doug Denoff, son of Sam Denoff.
Sam, of course, was one of the show's key writer-producers. As detailed over there, they are prepping but have been delayed in
offering "The Ottoman Edition," which will be the complete run of The Dick Van Dyke Show, in sequence, and with some different special
features included. There's no release date yet, and Denoff doesn't expect us to wait for it. So I bought (and will continue to purchase)
the Time-Life releases until his comes along. This is one of the things on video I don't mind buying twice.
AT LONG LAST, Amazon has Mad Art available with 24 hour shipping. Availability
seems to be helping its sales, which is a relief. I was expecting a massive drop in orders once people found out they could actually get
INTERVIEW with comic book legend Joe Kubert. Right here.
THE RATINGS for Jimmy Kimmel Live! got screwed-up last night somehow. Once they're all straightened out, ABC should
have something they can spin as demonstrating night-to-night growth, though he seems to have gotten a pretty consistent 6-7 share every night.
If that doesn't drop when he's up against new Letterman episodes — as opposed to reruns the past week — Jimmy might stick around long
enough to develop into a first-rate host, and find something to do on his show that every talk show in history hasn't run into the ground. I
thought the last few nights were much, much better, at least in terms of him looking like he wasn't embarrassed by his own program. They are,
however, resorting to the stock talk show staples — a cooking demo, an audience quiz where the audience member can't possibly know any of the
answers, pre-tapes that send someone to an inappropriate place (Snoop Dogg to a garage sale, Jimmy's uncle to a Def Jam party), etc. And I love
"Super" Dave Osborne but his appearance the other night, doing the exact same bit that Leno and Letterman long since stopped wanting from him,
confirmed reports that the Kimmel show is pretty desperate for guests.
February 1, 2003 · 1:00 PM PST ·
NOT MUCH TO SAY about this morn's Space Shuttle explosion that isn't being said more eloquently by others. I especially
identified with the simple sentiments expressed here by Joshua
About all I can add is that around 10:00 AM, when I sat down at my computer and saw the awful news, I made a quick tour of major news
sites, and then of some of the political message boards and weblogs. I was pleased to see that the latter were not filled with attempts to spin
the tragedy as a failing of George W. Bush or William J. Clinton, or of either of their parties, or of a particular political philosophy.
Everyone I saw had risen above trying to exploit this tragedy to advance their personal causes.
About 90 minutes later, I surfed through all those sites again, and it was starting.
February 1, 2003 · 3:00 AM PST ·
I'M A BIG FAN of the works of Betty Comden, Adolph Green, and Cy Coleman but somehow, their 1978 musical On The Twentieth
Century had slipped under my radar. Fortunately, Los Angeles has the Reprise! series, which resurrects classic musicals and stages them for
limited runs of scaled-down productions. Actually, the only skimping for this show is in the sets. The costumes are grand, and the
orchestra is at full strength because some anonymous donor kicked in to pay for extra musicians. The cast, even with minimal rehearsal, could
scarcely be better.
The story takes place on the famous Chicago-to-New York train known as The Twentieth Century. As it makes that 17-hour journey, a
failed Broadway producer (played brilliantly by Bob Gunton) attempts to salvage his life and career. Also aboard the liner is an actress
(played likewise by Carolee Carmello) who was once his discovery and paramour, but who left him for stardom in Hollywood. The producer and his
two aides (Dan Butler and Robert Picardo) try to get her to sign on for their next show while her leading man (Damon Kirsche) tries to keep her in
the movies and a religious fanatic (Mimi Hines) roams the train. I'd single out more outstanding performances but this is one of those rare
shows where everyone is terrific. The dialogue is rapid-fire and very clever, and the actors handle every wisecrack with style and aplomb.
The show's there 'til Sunday so the odds are you won't get to see it. But I came home so impressed that I had to write about
it. We theatergoers go to a lot of poor shows waiting for an evening like this.
RECENTLY, I mentioned the DC Comics Message
Board. I should have mentioned that those of you who are interested in DC's splendid Archive series may want to check out the section of
the board devoted to those books. The crowd there discusses what's coming up and what they'd like to see come up, and every so often Bob
Greenberger pops in and addresses their queries. Bob is the Senior Editor of such publications up at DC Comics and they couldn't have a better,
nicer guy in that position. I was thoughtless in not mentioning him by name in the earlier item so I wanted to make up for it.
I ALWAYS THINK people take "10 best" or "100 best" lists way too seriously. Too often, instead of treating the list as
just the opinions of one person or one group, it's like, "How dare someone compile a list that would differ from mine?" When folks begin
debating those lists, they not only seem to act like there's only one possible set of right answers, but that everyone is applying the same
criteria. That's not usually the case, either. (I keep stumbling across lists that purport to itemize "the ten most influential comic
artists" and it's obvious that no two people have the same definition of "influential," or even of "comic artists." )
With all that in mind, I direct your attention to this
list of someone's "Hundred Favorite Moments in Television." I'm not sure what definition of "favorite" leads to these selections but it's
an interesting list. It'll remind you of some of your favorite moments, no matter how you define "favorite."
January 31, 2003 · 10:30 AM PST ·
I JUST HAVE a few moments before I have to start going door-to-door in my gorilla suit. (Yeah, I know. You've all
been out in yours for hours. Well, I overslept.) Anyway, I felt I should mention that I thought last night's Jimmy Kimmel Live!
showed a solid glimmer of progress. He still doesn't look like a talk show host to me but at least he doesn't look like a deer caught in
someone's headlights. If they can get some decent guests, and a co-host with something to say, this crate might fly. Ratings were up a
bit last night, too. I'll bet ABC's wishing they'd hired Kimmel while Politically Incorrect was still on, and let him get the bugs out
in the time slot following Bill Maher.
THE ROCKIES have crumbled, Gibraltar just tumbled (They're only made of clay) and Amazon.Com now lists Mad Art as more-or-less in stock. It usually ships
in "2-3 days," they say, which is a big step up from not coming out until some time in the distant past. So rush over and order hundreds of
BY THE WAY, I had a great time last night chatting and plugging said book with Garry Lee Wright on WGN radio out of
Chicago. Thanks, Garry!
January 31, 2003 · 9:45 AM PST ·
January 31, 2003 · 12:00 AM PST ·
MAKE THIS PICTURE BIGGER
AN AWFUL LOT of Stan Freberg fans visit this site, and here's something they'll like.
The above photo is from November 2, 1960. It was taken at the East Los Angeles Junior College football stadium. The 22,000 seat arena was
jammed, and another 15,000 people were turned away from the event as a bevy of Hollywood stars rallied support for Democratic nominee John F.
Kennedy. From left to right, the celebrities are actress Janet Leigh, singer Jo Stafford, musician Louis Prima, comedian Milton Berle, and
The other day on the phone, I asked Stan what he remembered of that evening. He recalled Berle repeatedly trying to get his cigar
lit as Senator Kennedy was speaking. After a few tries, Uncle Miltie announced — just loud enough for all to hear — "This lighter
won't work. It's just like my brother-in-law." J.F.K. gave him a quick glance, then returned to his speech.
That's right. Berle was trying to upstage the man who, six days later, would be elected the 35th President of the United
SPEAKING OF MILTON BERLE: Next Monday evening, the E! Entertainment Network is rerunning the 1979
installment of Saturday Night Live hosted by that gent. This is one of two episodes in the original five year run which Lorne Michaels
thought was so dreadful that for a long time, it was absent from the rerun package. The other was one hosted by Louise Lasser, who was
reportedly going through some "personal problems" (I'm being polite) and she was rambling and occasionally incoherent.
"Mr. Television" was at least coherent but — they way they tell it — way too determined to make funny faces and interject
old bits. At one point, he insisted on singing "September Song" and interjecting a syrupy philosophical discourse, along with plugs for his
autobiography. At its close, a friend he'd planted in the audience leaped to his feet to lead a "spontaneous" standing ovation.
Long unseen, the Berle episode finally turned up in a 30-minute cutdown in one of the SNL syndication packages. That
version, as I recall, pretty much cut Mr. Television down to about half a monologue. E! is running an hour-long version and it will be
interesting to see if whoever performed the edit (from the original 90-minute airing) will preserve or trim the parts Michaels found so
unbearable. If it were me, I'd leave it in. That's what made this one famous.
SEVERAL FOLKS — most notably, Fred Hembeck — have written to say that the Dragnet 1966 TV-Movie/pilot was
made then but that it didn't air until '69. I've read that in the official histories, and I guess it didn't stick because that's not the way I
remember it. I'm not sure I'm right about this one, but I'm not sure I'm wrong, either. I'm also not sure it matters much.
ENLARGE THIS PHOTO
Fred also reminds me that Jack Webb made his final appearance in the role of Sgt. Joe Friday on Jack Benny's final TV special. It
was called Jack Benny's Second Farewell Special and it ran in early '74. (Benny's previous special was his First Farewell
Special; the premise was that he was going to do Farewell Specials, ad infinitum. Unfortunately, he passed away during the
preparations for what would have been #3.) Since I happen to have a photo from that special, I thought I'd run it here.
The extremely clever Hembeck, I should mention again, has a website that comic book fans will especially enjoy. It's www.hembeck.com, and the best part is his weblog, which he calls "Fred Sez." Here's a direct link to that page.
January 30, 2003 · 10:00 AM PST ·
THE EDITOR has revealed it over on the DC Comics
Message Board, so I might as well mention it here: DC will be bringing out two volumes reprinting the Jack Kirby issues of Superman's Pal,
Jimmy Olsen. Yes, they'll be in color. No, the Superman and Jimmy Olsen heads — redrawn by others in their original printings
— will not be restored or retouched to Kirby's version. (That's really not technically possible.) I dunno when they'll be out but I
turned in the foreword for the first volume a few months ago. And I've just finished the intro for the first of two volumes that will reprint
Jack's work on Challengers of the Unknown. If you've never read either of these series, you're in for a real treat. If you have,
then you'll want copies all the more.
WEBLOGS LIKE THIS are great for venting at the frustrations of dealing with companies. As I'm writing this, I'm on the
phone — on "hold," waiting for the Next Available Representative at the McAfee Customer Service Department. I switched from McAfee's
virus protection program to Norton, and the McAfee folks don't seem to want to turn loose of me. Their subscriptions work off automatic
renewals, meaning that if I do nothing, they charge my credit card each year. They make it very difficult to stop them from doing this.
Their website is full of all sorts of wonderful Customer Service options, all designed to let you control your account online and to minimize the
chance that you'll need to speak to an actual human being on their staff. You can do just about anything over there except to cancel your
account or turn off the automatic renewal option.
That, for obvious but odious reasons, they make difficult. They tell you to "Contact Customer Service," which I have done
repeatedly by e-mail to no apparent effect. Fortunately, I have a secret weapon: The credit card I gave them when I signed up has since
expired. They keep trying to charge it to no avail. If it hadn't expired, they would have long since charged it for a service I no longer
want, and — assuming I realized that — I'd now be fighting them for a refund instead of what I'm doing, which is to get them to just
cancel the account and not keep sending me e-mail that there's something wrong with my credit card and
Hold on. Someone just came on the line.
Okay. A nice lady just cancelled my account. According to the timer on my phone, I was on "hold" for 19 minutes.
Remember that the next time you sign up for any service that does automatic renewals.
There. I've vented and I feel better.
January 29, 2003 · 2:15 PM PST ·
GO READ Michael Kinsley. There's the Iraq problem in a
THE WORD from inside ABC is that Jimmy Kimmel Live! should be renamed Begging For Guests. A friend predicts
they will dump the "live" aspect, partly because it makes the network nervous and partially because taping earlier may make it a bit easier to get
stars to come in and sit on the couch. (Some time in the eighties, Mr. Carson announced that he would start doing The Tonight Show live
every evening. He never did. Too many of the guests they wanted were available in the late afternoon but busy in the evening, either with
premieres or local performances.) Network worries about the "live" part of Mr. Kimmel's show seem to be less about censorship than they are
about the show just looking sloppy, tech screw-ups, etc.
January 29, 2003 · 9:45 AM PST ·
HEY, WHEN Al Gore proposed eliminating oil-burning internal combustion engines, Republicans called him "Ozone Man" and a kook,
and claimed that he wanted to take away everyone's car and make us all bicycle to work. So what's this with George W. proposing
hydrogen-powered automobiles? I'm sure the same folks will rush to denounce him as an environmental wacko, right?
LAST NIGHT, Jimmy Kimmel Live! was up a hair, possibly because Nightline was up, which was probably because of the
State of the Union address.
I JUST FIXED a few typos in earlier news items, including the frequency of the station Gary Owens is on. (It's 570, not
540. Thanks, Craig!)
January 29, 2003 · 12:15 AM PST ·
THE INTERNET is an amazing resource for gathering trivial info. I posted the question below at 11:30 PM, my time. At
11:54, Tom Stewart sent me this link to a
matchbook for Al Lewis's restaurant. It was Grampa's Belle Gente at 252 Bleecker Street. This is a much more important use of the World
Wide Web than discussing the State of the Union address.
January 28, 2003 · 11:30 PM PST ·
INCREDIBLY MEANINGLESS QUESTION: "Grandpa" Al Lewis — best known for his roles on The Munsters and Car 54, Where
Are You? — used to have a restaurant in Greenwich Village in New York. It was called either Grandpa's or Grampa's and it's not there
anymore. But which was its name and what was its address? I was by there once and I think it was on Bleecker, but for reasons too boring
to explain, I'm trying to find its exact location for someone.
January 28, 2003 · 10:00 AM PST ·
JOR-EL HAS PASSED. Actor Robert Rockwell has died at the age of 82. The newspaper obits (like this one) are noting that he was the
second member of the cast of Our Miss Brooks to leave us in as many weeks, after Richard Crenna. Rockwell played Mr. Boynton on that
show, and performed countless other roles on other shows and on the stage. But a lot of us remember that he was Superman's father, Jor-El, in
the 1952 origin episode of the Superman TV show starring George Reeves. It was probably only a forgotten day's work to an actor with
such a prolific career. But some of us will never forget it.
THE OVERNIGHT RATINGS for the first airing of Jimmy Kimmel Live! in its regular time slot did not give ABC much cause to
party. See for yourself...
Someone will probably be out spinning this as a good start, noting that many affiliates didn't clear the show, and saying the network
has great confidence and will give it time to grow. And some of that's probably true. But Kimmel's show had every ounce of hype the
network could muster and it got about the same numbers that Politically Incorrect received in that slot with none.
By the by: Don't bother coming back here tomorrow to check on tonight's numbers because I won't be posting a chart every day or maybe
even ever again. But I thought just this once was worth the effort.
ANGELENOS will be happy to know that the dulcet tones of Gary Owens can once again be heard on L.A. radio. For
twenty-some-odd years (some of which were very odd), Gary was the top-rated afternoon personality in town, holding court and his ear over on KMPC,
710 AM. Now, he's on KLAC, 570 AM where the playlist spans Frank Sinatra to Rod Stewart, and he's on from 1 to 4 weekday afternoons. This
is enormously good news, as Gary is the best at what he does, and a helluva nice guy as well.
January 28, 2003 · 1:30 AM PST ·
AMERICAN MOVIE CLASSICS used to be a great channel, filled as it was with vintage movies — including many rare treasures
— aired uncut and with loving annotations by true film buffs. Then something happened. I don't know what but something. They
now have a much more limited library and the films air with commercial interruptions. Someone there also doesn't seem to know much about the
movies they're running, either. This month, they're advertising the 1987 motion picture version of Dragnet. They announced it,
they put it in all the TV listings and today, their announcer said to stay tuned for "Dragnet, starring Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks." But
instead, they showed the 1966 Dragnet with Jack Webb and Harry Morgan.
It's interesting, but it's hardly an "American Movie Classic." It's the TV-Movie/pilot that led into the 1967 series
revival. You might find it worth a look, especially if you like that odd delivery that star-producer Webb insisted on for all his actors.
(He wouldn't allow them to see a script in advance or memorize lines. He wanted everyone reading off the TelePrompter so he could keep speeding
it up after each take, thereby speeding up the actor.) The TV-Movie also had a slightly higher budget than the series, which often looked like
they were trying to see how little they could spend on a half-hour of network television. Mr. Webb was said to be very happy when his profits
At least, the AMC website knew which version they were airing, though they list the
film as Dragnet 1966 and then give its date as 1969. That's not wholly their mistake. Most sources seem to have it wrong despite
the fact that the real date is right there in the title. We just want the facts, ma'am.
ENLARGE THIS PICTURE
NEW YORK Magazine picks Mad Art as a "best bet" in its new issue and on its
website. Just thought I'd mention it.
YOU CAN NOW reach this page via a new address. If you want to peruse or recommend the splendors of the entire website, www.POVonline.com is still the URL you want to use. But if you want to come directly to the current version
of this page, the address is...www.newsfromme.com. The old routes will still work, at least for a few
months. But if you're in the mood to change your bookmark, change to that. Thenk yew.
is available at any comic book shop with a lick of sense. This scintillating collection of Evanier's POV columns features amusing
pictures by Sergio Aragonés and bizarre articles about the history of comics and the world of comic book fandom. If your store is
senseless, you can order a copy over at the website for TwoMorrows Publishing or
from Amazon.Com. You'll be glad you
did...or, at the very least, I will be.
Click here to read the previous NEWS FROM ME