Saturday, April 2, 2005


Following on the heels of the news that - as a Vatican spokesman said yesterday, - "Christ has opened the door for John Paul II", here is a story from last November about the TV movie that was being produced on the life of Karol Wojtyla, who would become John Paul II........

Actor Who Will Play John Paul II Gets Papal Advice
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 17, 2004 (

- John Paul II had some lighthearted advice for the Polish actor who will portray him in the TV miniseries "Karol Wojtyla: Story of a Man Who Became Pope."

"You are crazy to make a film about me," the Holy Father reportedly said when he received Piotr Adamczyk in audience.

The account of the meeting between the Pope and Adamczyk, as well as with the producer of the television series, appeared today in Italy, complete with 10 pages of photographs, in the magazine Sorrisi e Canzoni.

Adamczyk, a well-known actor in Poland, revealed details of his meeting with the Pope.

"When I learned that I would be meeting with the Pope, I was overwhelmed, but at the same time I was somewhat worried: What could I say to him?" the actor recalled.

"I must interpret his role and I had dozens of questions to ask him," Adamczyk said. "But when the moment came and his secretary introduced me with the words: 'Holy Father, this is the man who will interpret Karol Wojtyla,' for the first time in my life I forgot the text."

In the end, the only thing the actor was able to say was: "I am very happy, I am really very happy."

Nevertheless, Adamczyk was discreet about revealing details of the meeting. The film's producer, Pietro Valsecchi, is somewhat more explicit: "The Holy Father looked straight in Piotr's eyes and said: 'You are crazy to make a film about me. But, what have I done?'"

The film, which has a budget of more than 10 million euros ($12.9 million), is being produced by Taodue Film, and will be broadcasted on Channel 5 in Italy this spring. The producer hopes to sell the television rights to channels worldwide.

Valsecchi said that he is already planning new episodes in addition to the two he is filming.

The television series includes some of the best-known Italian actors, such as Raoul Bova, Ennio Fantastichini and Violante Placido. The director is Giacomo Battiato. For some scenes, more than 12,000 extras were used.
Piotr Adamczyk acknowledges that playing the part of the Pope is difficult.

The "fact that he is a real person, especially contemporary, is a problem for an actor, especially if he is Polish," he said.

"To try to imitate his gestures and words might prove a pitfall," Adamczyk added. "It must be clear that the film is not a documentary but fiction, with which we try to offer the climate and atmosphere of those times, narrating as a novel the life and works of a person who has influenced history."

Scenes for the film are now being shot in Krakow.


Frank Perdue, 84, Chicken Merchant, Dies
Published: April 2, 2005
The New York Times

Frank Perdue, a Maryland farm boy who became a household word, face and voice in folksy ads for his brand of fresh chickens, died on Thursday at his home in Salisbury, Md. He was 84.

He died after a brief illness, his company said, but it did not announce a cause.

In the 1970's, Mr. Perdue started the ad campaigns that would make him famous. He appeared in 200 different ads from 1971 to 1994.

It helped that he looked like a chicken. And Ross Perot. And Edward I. Koch, the mayor of New York. His bald head, droopy-eyed expression and prominent nose made people smile and feel comfortable with him. They tended to trust him more than they did slick-looking announcers.

It helped, too, that he had a nasal twang that contrasted with the unctuous tones of the usual pitchmen.

"It takes a tough man to raise a tender chicken," he said in his most familiar line. It made him believable - a hard-nosed yet likable American businessman who knew what he was talking about, who knew how to be tender and how to be tough.

"My chickens eat better than you do," he told his audience. "A chicken is what it eats. If you want to start eating as good as my chickens, take a tip from me - eat my chickens."

"Freeze my chickens? I'd rather eat beef!" was another line. He told his viewers that if they were not completely satisfied, they should write him directly and he would give them their money back. Do not write the government, he said: "The president of the United States? What does he know about chickens?"

Mr. Perdue's ads had an enormous effect on the company's business. According to a Perdue Farms survey taken in early 1972, brand recognition in New York, where most of the ads first appeared, rose to 51 percent in several months. The ads transformed Perdue into the first nationally recognized brand of chicken.

Friday, April 1, 2005


It's April Fool's Day!

I'd pull a prank on you, but you're reading the blog so I figure you've suffered enough.

When it comes to the TV Crossover Hall of Fame, we celebrate April Fool's Day by inducting TV characters who've made us smile over the years; not just the because they're clownish, oafish, buffoonish and just plain foolish.

So among those we've inducted over the years during April are Detective John Munch and Commander Montgomery Scott and Lucille Ball, as well as the usual suspects Homer Simpson, Luther Van Dam, and Gilligan.

And the great thing about the TV Universe is that there's practically no end to the list of fools who qualify......

This year, as I celebrate my 50th birthday, there is one rule of thumb for the Hall of Fame: What I say, goes. The requirement of three different credits attributed to a character's list of crossovers usually still applies; but we go pretty far out on a limb to justify some of them.

And so it is with our inductee for April 2005, one year shy of the 20th anniversary memorial for the actor who portrayed him. And when it comes to TV fools, it could be successfully argued that this man set the gold standard.

Fool's gold, that is.


The popularity of Ted Baxter in the early seventies established a template for all the sitcoms to follow - that there should be one dim bulb in the array of lights that made up the ensemble. Those who followed had their own variations - some were innocents; others were absent-minded; a few were eccentrics. But they all owed their existence to Ted Baxter:
Howard Borden - 'The Bob Newhart Show'
Johnny Danko - 'The Associates'
Herb Tarlek - 'WKRP In Cincinnati'
Eldin Bernicky - 'Murphy Brown'

'Taxi' divided up the qualities amongst Latka Gravas, Tony Banta, and Reverend Jim Ignatowski. But it was 'Newhart' that actually created a trinity who will one day enter the Crossover Hall of Fame together: Larry, Darryl, and Darryl.

Officially, Ted Baxter stepped out of the WJM studio environs only once, so that he could attend Rhoda's wedding on her own spin-off.

But there are two other shows that can be accredited to him, so long as we liberally apply Toobworldian philosophy.

Zen toobism, if you will......

After 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' ended, Ms. Moore applied her talents to an hour-long variety show. It was a career misstep, as the death knells for the variety were being tolled. And her repertory of players, while all talented and some of them even considered geniuses, - none of them could carry off the song and dance as well as the comedy.

All that was missing were the Ed Asner Dancers.

But for the purposes of this induction ceremony, we're only interested in one sketch from the three shows that aired. In it, David Letterman played an announcer at the WJM studios in Minneapolis.

Now, the premise of the 'MTM' finale was that everybody behind the cameras at WJM Channel 12 who struggled to make Ted Baxter look good in front of the camera had been fired - and Ted was allowed to stay.

So that means that - even though we never saw him, - somewhere in the building Ted Baxter was klutzing about while Letterman's character worked as an announcer.

Yes, it is a stretch. That's the whole point this year, isn't it? But we always said that in Toobworld, Life goes on even if we can't see it. And that doesn't apply just to commercial breaks and series cancellations.

But if you don't like that one, maybe this theory will suit your fancies:

Ted Baxter appeared in the TV Universe about four years before 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' premiered!

Back in 1966, USMC Sgt. Vincent Carter of Camp Henderson in California, foiled a robbery. But because he had reasons to keep his involvement a secret, (I think it involved a woman... actually, two women!), he let Private Gomer Pyle take the credit instead.

As a result, 'Gomer Pyle, USMC' was hailed as a "Would-be Hero" and interviewed by a radio reporter who was played by none other than Ted Knight.

Ted Knight, of course, was the actor who played Ted Baxter on 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show'.

And the name of that reporter was.....

(wait for it......)


(At this point, I'd like to give credit to my brother Bill for pointing out a solution to the discrepancy. If you don't like it, then he's the one to blame as well.)

I don't know if it still holds true, but radio personalities often would take on stage names with each new market where they worked: Tony Pigg, The Greaseman, Wolfman Jack....

And Toobworld itself provides two examples: Dr. Johnny Fever (Johnny Caravella) and Venus Flytrap (Gordon Simms).

We know that while at WJM in Minneapolis, close to where he grew up, Ted Baxter went by his real name. We can verify this by the visit of his brother Hal Baxter.

So Don Mills must be the alias.

And this is what really makes us excited by the idea of Ted Baxter being Don Mills - Ted's career, as he often stated, began as a 5000 watt radio station in Fresno, California.

So that means we can situate Camp Henderson not just in California, but more specifically near Fresno.

And just by location alone, we have a link to the comedy mini-series 'Fresno'. (And that's not to mention all of the connections through 'The Andy Griffith Show'!)

Like I stated at the beginning: what I say, goes. And that's why, despite the flimsy evidence presented, we are inducting Ted Baxter into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame.

And I pity da fool who objects.


Thursday, March 31, 2005


On the most recent episode of 'House', Dr. Foreman revealed that as a kid, he was known as "Rerun", from the TV show.

We're supposed to be able to make the connection that he was referring to Fred Berry's portrayal of the character on 'What's Happenin'?'

But since the show wasn't mentioned, and we want to avoid poking yet another hole in the integrity of the TV Universe, I suggest we just assume there was another TV show in which there was a character named "Rerun".

There's always the cartoons based on the comic strip "Peanuts". Rerun was the younger brother to Lucy and Linus.....
As revealed in this past episode of 'Blind Justice', Detective Jim Dunbar's former partner was working out of the 77th Precinct. In the Real World, that precinct gained some notoriety a few years back for illegal activities. Most of the officers at that time were reassigned or forced out in disgrace.
There's always the chance we may one day meet the parents of private investigator Harlan Judd on the new ABC series 'Eyes'. So I won't go too far out on a limb of that family tree with the suggestion that perhaps Harlan Judd is a nephew to Texas defense attorney Clinton Judd, once seen in his own show 'Judd For The Defense'. (As well as in a crossover with 'Felony Squad'.)

I'm not sure if it was teen queen Mallory or Schuyler, (Quite frankly, I couldn't tell them apart.), but one of them appeared on the Howard Stern radio show and all he wanted to talk about was her ass.
('Jake In Progress')

Also on the same series, Jake Phillips hired Neil Sedaka to serenade the girl he was trying to win back, although it was Jon Secada that she was really into. The ploy still worked, however, and all Sedaka wanted in return was one last Rolling Stone cover.

Two new TV series grace the airwaves and can be seen on any TV set provided you live in the TV Universe:
'Forensic Team International' which starred Ryan Henderson until he rashly quit to make movies just as
'Forensic Team Underwater' was about to hit the air and make the first series even more popular.
('Jake In Progress')




Arguably America's most famous criminal lawyer, Johnnie Cochran Jr., died Tuesday. The attorney, best known for defending O.J. Simpson against double murder charges, was 67. MSNBC reported Cochran's death early Tuesday afternoon.

"He had had a brain tumor and he had gone through a long process of dealing with it," attorney Rikki Klieman, legal analyst for NBC's Today show and wife of Los Angeles police Chief William Bratton, told the cable network.

Cochran had been ill for years with a rare brain disorder that caused his tumor, per reports. He died at his home in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles of the inoperable brain tumor, according to his brother-in-law, Bill Baker.

During the early morning hours Tuesday before his death was announced, Lifetime showed an old episode of 'The Nanny' in which Milton Berle appeared as Fran's Uncle Manny, a lawyer. He was supposed to be defending her in a court case, during which he pointed out that her dress appeared to be too "snug".

"There you have it, Your Honor," Uncle Manny said to the judge. "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit."

After making such a splash with the televised proceedings at the OJ Simpson murder trial, Cochran went on to make an impression on the fictional side of Toobworld as well.

Here are a list of his credits in which he portrayed himself:
Pete Rose on Trial (2003) (TV) .... Defense attorney
Jim Brown All American (2002) .... Himself (Attorney)
CHiPs '99 (1998) (TV) .... Himself
The Trial of O.J. Simpson (1995) (TV) (as Johnnie Cochran) .... Himself
"First Monday" playing "Himself" (as Johnnie Cochran) in episode: "The Price of Liberty" (episode # 1.3) 25 January 2002
"JAG" playing "Himself" in episode: "JAG TV" (episode # 6.5) 31 October 2000
"The Hughleys" playing "Himself" (as Johnnie Cochran) in episode: "The Truth Shall Set Me Free" (episode # 3.5) 9 October 2000
"The Hughleys" playing "Himself" (as Johnnie Cochran) in episode: "Dog Eat Dog" (episode # 1.16) 9 February 1999
"Arli$$" playing "Himself" (as Johnnie Cochran) in episode: "His Name Is Arliss Michaels" (episode # 3.13) 30 August 1998
"Family Matters" playing "Himself" in episode: "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" (episode # 9.13) 16 January 1998

In addition, he also was portrayed at least once in at TV movie:
Ving Rhames (Johnnie Cochran)
. . . American Tragedy (2000) (TV)

[I'm not sure if comedy sketches on variety shows count, but the Reverend Al Sharpton played Cochran on 'Saturday Night Live' in which he rode a roller coaster with Michael Jackson as they discussed the singer's child molestation case.]

There was also a short film regarding the troubled life of Todd Bridges, but this may have been a theatrical release:
Shashawnee Hall (Johnnie Cochran)
. . . Building Bridges (2000)

In just a decade, Cochran certainly made a deep impact on Toobworld, between his appearances as himself in TV shows and the countless variations on his most famous quote:

"If it doesn't fit, you must acquit."

And without Johnny Cochran to lead the way, we never would have had TV Crossover Hall of Fame contender Jackie Childs, from 'Seinfeld' and Honda commercials.

As a member of the League of Themselves, Johnny Cochran will one day be inducted into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame himself.....


Last week's 'Blind Justice' exemplified why Toobworld is basically the Real World, but with TV flourishes like talking horses, reincarnated automobiles, and food that can sing and dance.

The murder suspect threatened to go to Commissioner Kelly and have him come down hard on the cops doing the interrogation. This means that the police commissioner for NYC in Toobworld is the same as it is here in our world, Raymond W. Kelly.

[That is, unless some other show with better tele-credentials - like 'Law & Order' perhaps? - comes along and proclaims some fictional character to be the NYPD commissioner.]

Whenever possible, Toobworld should hew closely to the real events and personalities of our world. If George W. Bush is the President of the United States in the Real World, then he's the POTUS for shows like 'Whoopi!', TV movies like 'DC 9/11: Time of Crisis', and even for his own sitcom ('That's My Bush!'). This means that shows like 'The West Wing' and '24' must be relegated to alternate TV dimensions.

'NYPD Blue', the predecessor for the 'Blind Justice' timeslot, followed the same line of thinking when it came to the police commissioner. In fact, Howard Safir, who was commissioner at one time, even made an appearance on the show, playing himself.

[Raymond W. Kelly appeared as himself in a special about 'NYPD Blue' and its tenth anniversary on the air. Since that's basically a Zonk!, we'd rather disregard it.]

Darryl F. Gates, the former police commissioner, portrayed himself on several episodes of 'Hunter'. But in Toobworld, at least one of his predecessors in the job was fictional, and a murderer to boot - Mark Halperin on an episode of 'Columbo'.

I'm not sure if the NYC police commissioner has ever been mentioned, let alone portrayed, on 'Law & Order' or any of its franchise spinoffs. But as a matter of necessity, they do have to use a fictional District Attorney rather than the Real World's Robert Morgenthau. At least with the first DA, Adam Schiff, the show acknowledged the fact that Morgenthau is older than dirt by having Schiff be the same.

And now for something completely different, during the last few years the latest DA is a conservative red-stater from the South, Arthur Branch. But the show may also have anticipated the outcome of this year's election by having a woman as the interim DA, Nora Lewin. [It's possible Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder may beat Robert Morgenthau for the job come November. And then he can go on TV as well - either playing himself on some show, or as Pruneface in a revival of 'Dick Tracy'......]

The last two Real World mayors of New York City have made appearances on 'Law & Order' as themselves: Rudy Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg. And yet the producers fictionalized the governor of Connecticut to blend the troubles of former Ct. governor John Rowland with those of former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey for a storyline.*

They did so at a time when both Real World governors had plenty of face time on the TV and should have been accepted as part of Toobworld [if only for their "Come to our state!" promos when they were in office].

The producers had to bring in a governor from another state for the storyline set in New York City. God forbid they instead fictionalized NY's governor! Don't want to insult Borin' George Pataki and rile him up enough to make it.... uncomfortable to film in the City......

They should have made the state Delaware. When was the last time any political figure from that state gained national awareness?


*Long time readers of this blog might remember how much I hated that 'Law & Order' episode, "Gov Luv". It bothered me so much that I finally decided that it should be banished from Toobworld entirely and stand alone as an example of what the show must be like in the evil mirror universe. Because that sure as hell wasn't the Jack McCoy I'd want in Earth Prime-Time.....


Alan Young, who played straight man to the talking horse on the classic TV series 'Mister Ed', told SCI FI Wire that a film version of the classic comedy series is in the works. "There are some plans being made about a 'Return to Mister Ed', in which I will probably play a grandfather," Young said in an interview. "It's planned as a feature."
Two members of the 'Law & Order' franchise will do a full crossover during the May Sweeps. (Of course!)
Most likely, 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit' will begin the case on a Tuesday night and it will go to court on a Friday night during 'Law & Order: Trial By Jury'.

And an added bonus is that Angela Lansbury will be appearing in the episode.

You don't know how closely I came to tripping up and typing in the name "Jessica Fletcher" instead. Now that would have been a fun crossover event! After all, Mrs. Fletcher probably still teaches at that Manhattan University, even though she is fast approaching her 80th year, God bless her.

[Of course it'll never happen, what with 'Murder, She Wrote' being so closely identified still with CBS. But as always, the Inner Toob isn't concerned with practicalities, just the basic utopian philosophy of the TV Universe.......]
Rock veterans Status Quo are to make a cameo appearance in long-running soap Coronation Street, at the wedding reception of Les Battersby. The band will appear in "more than one" episode of the show in the autumn. Actor Bruce Jones, 52, who plays Battersby in the ITV1 soap, is known to be a fan of the band, which is also popular with his on-screen character. The band will play at Battersby's wedding to barmaid Cilla Brown.
Sir Ian McKellan will play author Mel Hutchwright, who is invited to address Weatherfield's book club. Sir Ian will appear for 10 episodes in May. "I am nervous but raring to go," he said. Last year, the 65-year-old said his only remaining ambition was to appear in the soap - after fulfilling his other aim, to play a pantomime dame.

The actor once turned down a role as Elsie Tanner's long-lost nephew because he was intimidated by the prospect of appearing with Coronation Street's regular cast.

He added: "I don't know yet what Mel will look nor sound like, but I'm already studying his lines, as rehearsal time is scarce for the five-times-a-week show."

His character's steamy bodice-ripper, "Hard Grinding", has already featured on the soap. [Look for it on the shelves at the upcoming sitcom bookstore, 'Stacked'.]
Following up on last year's "Summer" campaign -- which featured a series of narrative spots about a group of skateboarders -- Coca-Cola and Berlin Cameron/Red Cell, N.Y., have just released "Girl Band," a docu-style campaign about an all-girl teenage rock group. Like "Summer," the new campaign is a fast-paced, voiceover-driven cruise through the lives of the bandmembers as they write songs, get a gig, shop for clothes, shoot a video and try to let a roadie/admirer down easy.

The effort, directed by Park Pictures' Lance Acord, stars an actual high school rock trio from Ithaca, N.Y., called Kievan Rus. As their site explains, they were still called Kiev during the commercial shoot, but it turns out that name was taken. The track from the spots, "Love is Pain," is an adaptation of a song called "Crushing on Anna" -- a tribute to a former member of the band -- with "Anna" changed to "Danny" and another chorus thrown in. The version in the commercial can be downloaded from Coke's site.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005



When Detective Jim Dunbar brought home flowers for his wife in last week's episode of 'Blind Justice', she was initially suspicious. Christie Dunbar figured the flowers were left in the squad room and now her husband was "re-gifting".

Re-gifting - it's a word that either was coined specifically for an episode of 'Seinfeld', or it gained its popularity from that show. Last year it was used in an episode of 'Two And A Half Men', and in both cases the word was given enough of an inflection as to suggest "Guess where we got this from?"

But within the "inner reality" of Toobworld we can't accept that, because 'Seinfeld' and 'Blind Justice' both take place in the same universe.

But we do have a splainin.

Christie Dunbar works for a publishing company. At some point in her career, she either worked with Elaine Benes or their paths would cross often enough in the business circles. They must have become friends, and eventually Elaine must have told her about her own re-gifting experience.

And Elaine probably was privy to Christie's opinion as to whether Jim was sponge-worthy or not.


Tuesday, March 29, 2005



My tele-buddy Hugh Davis contacted me with this TV in-joke:

There was a joke in last week's 'Crossing Jordan' where they were going to a conference on forensics and announcing "We're gonna beat Miami this time."
I assume this was an acknowledgement of the ratings war.

That's the way I would read it as well. But I also think it works as a missing link between 'Crossing Jordan' and 'CSI: Miami'. I'm not sure who made the comment, but I'll bet Garrett Macy has had a long-time competition going with Horatio Caine down there in Florida. (Maybe even since their college days together?)

And the idea of a forensics convention is a very general link to an episode of 'Homicide: Life On The Street' in which Dr. Cox attended one and where she related a case that was an urban legend brought to life.

So to speak, considering......



The Who's Roger Daltrey has come aboard the WB Network's untitled mermaid drama pilot. The pilot stars Nathalie Kelley as a mermaid who tries life on land in Miami. Daltrey will play the antagonist on the show.

Oh, that's easy! cried Sir Galahad.....

The 'Charmed' Ones of San Francisco, the three Halliwell Sisters, should make a trip to Miami for some kind of adventure on their show and meet this mermaid. And then the plotline can wrap up on the new series.

None of the other offerings on the WB would work. Easy enough to get the 'Everwood' gang back to New York, but to Miami, and to swim around with a mermaid? Hard enough to picture Roger Daltrey acting with Treat Willliams!

Still and all, I can't shake the image of Dawson standing in his rowboat when the mermaid suddenly flops into the boat.......


Monday, March 28, 2005


Actually this is a missed opportunity at a merger between shows, but I just couldn't resist the pun....

'Grey's Anatomy' premiered last night on ABC. Although set in Seattle, I wasn't expecting an in-joke link to 'Frasier' in any way, at least not right out of the starting gate. After all, the first episode was going to deal with the first forty-eight hour shift for the interns and they weren't going to find any time to be listening to KACL talk radio during that period.

But perhaps in some future episode they might make mention of the radio station's call letters. It's such a little thing to ask for.....

However, they did have a chance to make an in-joke connection to another TV series and they let it slide. The other residents were talking about Dr. Meredith Grey and that her mother was the living legend of heart surgeons, Ellis Grey. Among her accomplishments, Dr. Ellis Grey won the Harper Avery Award. Twice.

Fine. But why couldn't she have won it once, and the Cushing Left Anterior Descending Artery Award as well?

The Cushing Left Anterior Descending Artery Award is a prominent national award and we know of two surgeons who've received it.

Dr. Mark Craig of St. Eligius won the award during the 1980s run of 'St. Elsewhere'. And at 'Chicago Hope' Hospital, Dr. Kathryn Austin also was a recipient of the honor during the 1990s.

So it would have been an easy matter for the writer of 'Grey's Anatomy' to have slipped in a reference to the award at this point. It's not like the fact that it was on a competing network should have been a barrier. After all, 'St. Eligius' was on NBC and 'Chicago Hope' was on CBS.

Unlike the attendants and residents on this show, I'll cut the interns some slack. This time. 'Grey's Anatomy' is just starting out and I think it holds lots of promise. I like each of the core members of the cast.

And the finale was a kicker that brought a lump to my throat. (Which was not hard to do as I'm a fan of Kate Burton.)

So, there's hope that in the future we might yet get mention of the Cushing Left Anterior Descending Artery Award on this show. And even better yet, why not mentions of St. Eligius and Chicago Hope as well?

And All Soul's, Manhattan General, Kingdom Hospital, etc etc etc.....



Sometimes, a pilot is proposed for which I don't want to suggest a crossover. And in the following case, I'm only going to banish it to Earth Prime-Time Delay anyway, where most remakes of old TV shows end up.

ABC is bringing back "Kolchak: The Night Stalker," the '70s series about a Chicago crime reporter who investigates supernatural phenomena. Stuart Townsend ("The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen") will take the lead. And Gabrielle Union (who stars opposite Cedric the Entertainer in the upcoming "Honeymooners" movie) will play Townsend's sidekick and fellow ink-stained wretch.The original series was spun off from the successful TV movie "The Night Stalker." But it lasted only one season on ABC.

Lazy fat bastard that I am, here is a modified reprint of what I posted a week or so ago to Lee Goldberg's blog:

I've seen it reported that Stuart Townsend has been cast as the new Kolchak.

Hoo boy.

After his pretty boy turns in 'The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' (the whole movie a criminal offense against the comic book series) and in 'Queen Of The Damned', I would have cast him instead as Janos Skorzeny.

But he probably would have turned that down as being too much of "Been There, Done Lestat".

Kolchak should have a rumpled, everyman charm and humor about him; a man not afraid to show his fear in the face of danger and still plow ahead in search of the story.

Years ago, McGavin suggested that since he was "too old and fat" to play the part again, perhaps Nick Nolte might be a good choice. Now, it could be Nolte's too old and frazzled a choice.

But I had two suggestions. Unfortunately, they may both be tied up in other TV projects right now, although the fate for at least one of them might be up in the air.

My picks to play Carl Kolchak?

Either Dennis Leary or Ron Eldard.

Both of them can handle the blend of drama, adventure, and humor and could easily toss off the sarcastic retorts to the authorities blocking his access to a big scoop.

And I could easily buy into either one of them as the bottom-feeding investigative reporter living on the outskirts with a passion for the story. Townsend? Not a chance.

Ah well. I can still dream, and there are always the Darrin McGavin originals still in circulation.....


Posted to Lee Goldberg's blog by:
Toby O'Brien March 23, 2005 08:22 AM

Sunday, March 27, 2005



I don't kid myself about TV crossovers. I know that at heart their existence can't be attributed to business decisions, not some fantastical vision of a greater TV Universe. Crossovers are made to boost the ratings of at least one of the participants.

In the case of this week's crossover, it was the older show hoping to ride the coat-tails of the newer, more popular series.

And it was a mix of genres, a sitcom linked to a "reality" show. It's been done before: 'Yes, Dear'/'Big Brother', 'Hope & Faith'/'Wife Swap', and 'Good Morning, Miami'/'Queer Eye For The Straight Guy'.

Now, 'Less Than Perfect' has hosted three of the Do-Overlords from 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition'.
Claude Casey won a charity raffle grand prize of a free apartment makeover by Tracy Hutson, Michael Moloney and Paul DiMeo (guest starring as themselves). They were hindered more than helped by Claude's friend Owen Kronsky.

The apartment makeover came to represent Claude's concerns that she was losing the qualities in her personality (like innocence and optimism) that kept her from becoming yet another hardened, cynical New Yorker. If the show needed an episode to bow out with as a finale, this could have been the one.

And it may be that this crossover wasn't going to be enough to save the series for another season. Entertainment Weekly has done some sitcom scrying and they think the chances for 'Less Than Perfect' to survive in Toobworld are, well, you know......

I like Sara Rue, but I couldn't make the commitment to this show; too many others on the show are unlikable for me, but it also had very strong competition for my taping time. However, I've heard she's already looking around for a new series, so I'm hoping I'll be able to give that next project more of my attention.

As for 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition'? Ugh, no thanks. Not my cuppa. I never would have been so intrigued by the other half of the crossover equation to check out their show. (Not that they needed my eyeballs glued to the tube - it's one of ABC's hottest shows.)

But in this case, it's more than just my general dislike for these so-called "reality" shows. In my Real World life, I had to deal with several of the people connected to the show. And one in particular, one of the three who appeared in this crossover, was a real jerk. The experience left me unable to separate it from the fantasy of Toobworld and so it made the crossover less than perfect for me.

Come on! You know I couldn't resist a second time from using the phrase! I'm only human!




The proposed sitcom of 'Early Bird' for NBC, which is set in a Florida retirement community, put me in mind this week of the passing of Barney Martin, best known in Toobworld for his portrayal of Morty Seinfeld, Jerry's father on 'Seinfeld'. Morty Seinfeld used to be the president of his Florida retirement community until he was forced to resign.

I first saw Barney Martin as one of the onstage Nazis in 'The Producers'. But I really started to take notice of him with his role as Jack Terwilliger, the court clerk in Judge Walter Franklin's Philadelphia courtroom on 'The Tony Randall Show'.

He also did a great imitation of a coffee pot in a classic Maxwell House retromercial. And had Michael Landon's health had not deteriorated and his last project had gone to series, I would have watched it for Martin. (He was playing Landon's dad.)

As Red Skelton would sign off, "Good night and may God bless."




Bill Macy and Larry Hankin have been tapped to play retirees in NBC's comedy pilot "Early Bird." The pilot stars Timm Sharp as a twentysomething who moves into a retirement community.

For this show's crossover possibilities, NBC might be better off bringing back classic characters from their Florida-based sitcoms of old.

'The Golden Girls', for example. I understand Estelle Getty is not doing well in regards to her health, but I'd bet a quick cameo by Dorothy, Blanche, and/or Rose might be feasible.

The daughters of the late Dr. Harry Weston might also pop in for a visit, perhaps keeping in touch with former patients of their dad. Or they could even mention that they were just visiting him, if the Powers That Be wanted to maintain the illusion that the character was still alive, even though Richard Mulligan has passed away.

And NBC could always thumb their network noses at their critics and have constant references to the TV station which was featured prominently in the much-lambasted 'Good Morning, Miami'.

Otherwise they might have to pull out the old stand-by of having one of the 'Early Bird' characters be related to some character from another series. Maybe Larry Hankin's character is the grandfather to Jack on 'Will & Grace'. Or perhaps Clown can leave 'Committed' long enough to visit the retirement community as a possible new home; perhaps even run into his old clown college buddy Binky there.

If they do intend to have a crossover with 'Committed', they better do it soon. That sitcom is on life support and NBC is probably ready to pull the plug.

Strange how that imagery came to mind when talking about a Florida sitcom.....

But as this sitcom sounds like it skews way too old demographically anyway, no matter how young the main character, the advertisers might never go for it.