California Live premiered recently on the NBC affiliates in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. It’s a half hour lifestyle show airing at 11:30AM, showcasing all the benefits of living on the California coast. Full disclosure: I interviewed for the position of Executive Producer for California Live late last year, but the guys at KNBC, where the show is produced, went with someone else. No worries. It wasn’t meant to be – and I remain a fan of KNBC General Manager Steve Carlston. Continue reading CALIFORNIA GOES LIVE
Two television treasures here from the golden age of local TV. I found these films just the other day and couldn’t wait to get them on-line for you to check out. I’ve never seen either presentation before but both films highlight independent station KTLA as a true forerunner in early television production from back in the day when owned by Paramount Studios. These are priceless portraits of local TV’s “coming of age” and the pioneers who put it all together. Continue reading A PRICELESS PORTRAIT OF TV’S PAST
The greatest morning show on the planet – is no more. For some ten years, the Australian Today show was awesome! A brilliant eyeopener! Karl Stefanovic, Lisa Wilkinson and Georgie Gardner were the very definition of “on-air chemistry”. Continue reading END OF G’DAYS DOWN UNDER
These two need to be heard. Have you watched them? More importantly, have you heard them? I’m making it my life’s mission to get them heard.
A year or so ago, I released a book about a TV producing experience that dramatically altered the direction of my life. It involves a woman who has become a very good friend of mine, British medium/clairvoyant Lisa Williams. I discovered Lisa quite by accident when I was searching for characters for reality shows I was producing. It is an understatement to say that Lisa “blew my mind”. Along with her jaw-dropping psychic abilities, she was a made-for-TV talent. Breathtaking on screen. When I shot her pilot in Manhattan, she’d never done any on-camera work before, but her warmth and genuine authenticity grabbed viewers through the camera and didn’t let them go. Continue reading MY LIFE-ALTERING SHOOT
Every TV producer has pondered the idea of airing “live” executions as a reality series. While a few films have explored the possibilities – from Witness to the Execution to The Hunger Games, no one really expects executions to someday be televised. But in China, they’ve been doing the next best thing for years… they’ve been airing a weekly “talk” show called Interviews Before Execution. It’s a long-time hit, with TV host Ding Yu interviewing the condemned, often just moments before they are put to death. China puts more of its citizens to death in one year than every other country combined – about 10,000 – women, men, anyone 18 or older. There are nearly 60 offenses in China that result in the death penalty. The culture also requires the family of the accused to pay the family of the victim exorbitant amounts of cash to “be forgiven” by victim’s family. Only when a victim’s family has forgiven the accused can there be a possibility, a small one, but a possibility that the death sentence will be commuted. Continue reading A CHILLING CHAT SHOW
One of the greatest complements of my career came from Hollywood’s most prolific prime-time producer, Aaron Spelling. Aaron visited The KTLA Morning News in 1996 to promote his book, A Prime-Time Life. As a child of the ’70’s, much of my life was television – and much of what was on television was produced by Aaron Spelling. Favorites of mine include Charlie’s Angeles, Family, Hart To Hart, Melrose Place, and of course, The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. Continue reading S-P-E-L-L-I-N-G SUCCESS!
In the early days of television, what I call “warmth”, they referred to as “charm”. It’s a magical, mesmerizing quality you can’t quite define – that jumps from the screen and enraptures you in a blanket of utter delight. OK, that might be a tad over the top, but you can’t overstate the value of warmth in a morning TV host. There’s one television treasure, a true personality pioneer, whom few modern day producers or TV talent have ever heard of. She hosted a live morning show back in the ‘50’s, before Today or Good Morning America were ever dreamed up. She was the Oprah of her day, when viewers had the choice of only three programs to watch at any given time. When 11AM came around, everyone was watching Miss Arlene Francis.
Occasionally as news reporters or special projects producers, we set out to right a wrong. Perhaps a young mother abandons her autistic daughter because the government will no longer provide special daycare services – and the child is a danger to the woman’s other children. We interview the mother and perceive her and her daughter to be the victims. We interview state or federal mental health care bureaucrats only to discover their hands are tied. We interview the dedicated workers at the special daycare center to find they are understaffed and can’t keep up with the growing demand for their services. We come back to the newsroom and what he we got? What do we put together for the 6? Continue reading STORYTELLING AT ITS FINEST
The mid-eighties were the best years of the three major network’s annual fall preview promotions. It was a big deal. Every summer, viewers were bombarded with up-tempo, catchy theme songs cut to fast-paced video of network stars dancing down New York streets encouraging bystanders to “Come On Along”. Just starting out in TV then at an NBC affiliate, I was bombarded with many incarnations of “Be There” promos which I’ve yet to get out of my head! But ABC, by far, had the best campaigns. I want to show you my all-time favorite promo campaign theme song – “That Special Feeling” from ABC’s 1983-1984 Fall Preview Campaign. Continue reading “THAT SPECIAL FEELING” REMEMBERED
(Originally posted 11/14/2011)
I’m going to confront, head-on, a subject that has divided America’s newsrooms since its birth in 1996. The Fox News Channel. My statement, which you can quote, tweet and forward to social media sites, comes with a whole bunch of addendums, codicils, riders and supplements, so don’t judge me until you’ve read them all – or you’ll miss the true measure of a really right “Right Brain” network.
“Fox News is genius – a brilliant TV format.”
When I go through the process of looking for talent, I begin by requesting audition reels from all the agents I know and have a working relationship with. I prefer to view every link myself. I don’t want an assistant “weeding out” the good from the bad before I view them because I’m always afraid they’re going to miss something that I see. I also don’t like to watch audition reels with other people in the room. Weird, I know, but I don’t want their one-liner comments or thoughts to distract me from what I’m seeing. I also go through my own “Rolodex” of talent I keep on file, people I’ve seen on other shows or elsewhere who spark my interest. Who knows? Some day I may be able to hire them on a show I’m doing. Continue reading HIRING “CLOUD-EE-AH”
My favorite show of all time… don’t judge me!… The Sonny And Cher Comedy Hour. Even now, 40 years after it first aired, it is mesmerizing to watch. And the reason it is? Because the show is nothing but the sum of all its parts. None of those parts could stand alone (and they tried in later years). Cher was OK at best. Sonny was just plain sad – but his lack of talent didn’t stop him from having his own prime time variety show! Continue reading SONNY THOUGHTS TO CHER