Friday, October 30, 2009

rockabilly bob

When Jeff Joslin showed us a rough cut of "Fish Bait" during a break from our reshoots in May, I was concerned about my performance. As I mentioned in one of the DVD extras, it sounded like I was using my "outside voice" during the scenes inside a car. Fortunately for me, most of those scenes were reshot.

I was relieved when I saw the movie last week. The editing and soundtrack music made a big difference. I got an email from a woman who attended the screening on Friday night at Patrick Sullivan's with her visiting sisters. They didn't buy a DVD at the bar but now want to get one. Jeff Joslin has set up a PayPal account and a page on the "Fish Bait" site where they (and you) can purchase one now, should you be so inclined.

In addition to the "Fish Bait" theme by Jeffrey Joslin, the soundtrack features two songs from Billy Bob Thornton and The Boxmasters. I first learned of Billy Bob's musical ability while I was working at KLOS. He would appear regularly on the Mark & Brian show in the late '90s to promote his movies. He was on the show one day and heard that rockabilly legend Carl Perkins would be interviewed an hour or two later. Billy Bob asked if he could stick around and see Carl. He did and ended up playing snare drum as Carl sang "Matchbox." We used the performance as a track on the "You Had to Be There!" CD, which hit stores only two months before Carl died.

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Sunday, August 09, 2009

down by the schoolyard

It was a Julie, Julie and Julia weekend for my wife and me. On Saturday night we laughed a lot at the very funny Julie Scoggins. She performed at Side Splitters Comedy Club. It would be well worth your time to see her show the next time she's in town.

On Sunday, we saw the terrific new movie "Julie & Julia." I really enjoy watching Amy Adams in just about anything. One of my family's favorite films is her first, "Drop Dead Gorgeous." The real Julie Powell's blog is still online. If you had the time, you could go back to the beginning and read the whole thing.

Once again, it was loads of fun to hear Meryl Streep's voice. Certain syllables rang especially true. The only thing missing for me was the John Morris theme song I remember from later episodes of "The French Chef." The theme music used in the movie was the same as in a black and white 1964 episode that PBS has posted online. They had time for Dan Aykroyd's memorable "Saturday Night Live" parody but not the music I wanted to hear.

Julia Child came to KLOS once. Around that time, we had a string of food experts on as guests on the Mark & Brian show and I was looking for ways to set their segments apart. When Debbi Fields came in, I had her book publicist send along a food stylist who set up little Pyrex dishes with various ingredients. While she was being interviewed, Mrs. Fields mixed together a batch of cookie dough. Emeril Lagasse was also promoting a book. I arranged with a nearby IHOP for all of us to show up and have Emeril surprise some patrons. He added some "Bam" to their breakfasts while broadcasting live.

Before Julia Child's visit, I thought about what would be the most intimidating thing when meeting a famous chef. She would be promoting a new "Baking with Julia" cookbook. I challenged Mark and Brian to each choose a page at random. They had to prepare the dishes at home and serve them to Julia the next morning. Either the food tasted good or Julia played along. She was nothing but gracious to us all.

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

dittohead drive

The address in the phone book seemed like a joke. I was looking up the number of some fellow All Saints parishioners in a new mini phone book that arrived in our mailbox the other day. The listing said the family lived on Rush Limbaugh Lane in Knoxville. Obviously I would have to ask them about it.

They told me that they did, in fact, live on Rush Limbaugh Lane but that they usually drop the Rush when giving their address. For example, the church directory has them listed on "Limbaugh Lane." Apparently the developer was a big fan of El Rushbo. So was one of their neighbors who tried to get the talk radio superstar to do a remote broadcast from the street. Another neighbor was not so enthused. He had the builder put his house facing sideways on the lot so his front door would be on the cross street instead. No, the cross street is not Sean Hannity Circle.

Are there more streets named after radio personalities? There ought to be. Before I worked with them, Mark & Brian had a parade down the very short Mark & Brian Parkway in Santa Ana. A neighborhood in Lakewood called Radio Park named streets after Amos & Andy, Gene Autry, Hedda Hopper and a few others back in 1941 when they were radio stars.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

me gotta go

There was no "Underdog" moment for me in last night's Dogwood Arts Festival parade but I still enjoyed myself for the most part. The parade remained completely stopped for a long time while some performances were taking place for the lone working camera from WVLT. I later learned that a high school group did a scene from their production of "Guys and Dolls." You would think that the young thespians would then walk or ride down the rest of the parade route. They didn't. For those of us a block or two down the street, it was just awkward.

The parade feature two character balloons and two dogwood flower balloons. My wife thought they had too many petals to be true dogwoods, as did a blog reader last year. The colorful dragon might explain why I was craving Chinese food on the way home. My wife and I got some take-out from the new China Lee on Middlebrook Pike. It was very good.

While the dragon made it past us okay, the Garfield balloon got a flat tire. It appears to be the same one I saw two years ago and is starting to show its age.

The annual parade is obviously a kid-friendly event. The crowd went "ooh" to the flaming-baton twirler on Gay Street and "aah" to the cute little cowgirl with an amusing costumed horse.

WVLT anchor Lauren Davis rode past in the Channel 8 mobile. She was also at the secret Miley Cyrus event earlier this month. I didn't get a good look at the driver of the convertible but I thought it might have been Bob Yarbrough, who was at the goodbye party for Stacy McCloud.

Barney Fife impersonator Sammy Sawyer was being followed by a high def video camera. It made me wonder if they were making a reality show or documentary about him. Wouldn't you watch it?

It's not a Knoxville parade without Marshal Andy. Earlier this week he wished me well in "Star 102.1's Dancing with the Knoxville Stars" competition. He said that he and his wife used to regularly win shag dancing contests in the Carolinas.

The Grand Marshal of the parade was Mary Costa from "Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty." Tired of waiting for the parade to come to me, I walked up the street. Mary's coach was stopped as young dancers performed to "Once Upon a Dream" while mouse-eared volunteers (or as they called them in Burbank, VoluntEARS) held flags and "Sleeping Beauty" signage celebrating the 50th anniversary of the film.

The Dogwood Arts Festival is 49 years old. Instead of their regular uniforms, the Powell High Panther Band wore 1950s attire like white t-shirts and jeans or poodle skirts. Three different high school bands each played "Louie Louie," a song technically from the '50s but made famous in 1963. Hearing it reminded me of the time I arranged for a marching band play that song accompanied by rock guitarist Slash in the KLOS parking lot.

My favorite float in this year's parade was from Laurel High School. It took me a moment to recognize the Sunsphere due to either the rat tail or graduation tassel hanging off the back.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

the homecoming queen's got a gun

George Mason University's homecoming game was televised last Saturday. I watched it, in high definition no less, on Comcast SportsNet MidAtlantic. So why has it taken almost a full week for me to find out that this year's homecoming queen is a dude? There was no mention of it during the telecast. The Washington Post finally had the story today. WTTG-TV and WRC-TV aired reports last night. I got all three links this morning when my daily Google Alert for GMU arrived. I suspect that the mainstream media got their news from Broadside, the weekly student paper.

Reann Ballslee, the queen in question, has previous royalty experience as a drag performer at Freddie's Beach Bar. When not in character, Reann is a popular student named Ryan Allen.

Oddly enough, this is not the first time I've mentioned GMU and drag queens in the same blog post. Please see the last paragraph of my May 18, 2006 entry. It tells you that I knew of the Queen Mary but not that I've also been backstage. The Queen Mary is the same club that Tobias Fünke referenced on the "Arrested Development" rerun I watched yesterday on HDNet.

Tobias would be jealous to know that Maximilliana had me hold his falsies as he dressed as a she. Max has posted video from that night on YouTube. It was part of the infamous Mark & Brian Show football bet punishments.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

serious name dropping

The History Channel has been running presidential-themed programming all day. Earlier I watched a segment about James Madison on a show called "The Presidents." Tonight I was completely drawn in by a show called "Secret Access: Air Force One." As nice as the plane is, the couch that converts into the president's bed made me think that the customized 747 is actually the world's fanciest R.V.

Air Force One delayed my flight in April, 2005. President Bush was supposed to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park for Earth Day. Bad weather kept him at McGhee Tyson Airport instead. While he was here, I was waiting to go to the Washington, D.C. area via the late great Independence Air, which I still miss.

In all the years I lived in the D.C. suburbs, I only had two presidential encounters. Jimmy Carter waved at the box office staff when I worked at Wolf Trap Farm Park for the Performing Arts. I later met Mr. Carter a couple of times when I booked him as a guest on KLOS. He came in at least twice to promote books he had written.

I've already written about the time my friend Bean and I broadcast from the White House lawn for a Redskins victory celebration. We saw Ronald Reagan throw a pass to Ricky Sanders. Yes kids, there was a time when the Redskins were that good.

I shook hands with George H.W. Bush, but not while he was president and not while in D.C. He made a campaign stop at Villanova University. I foolishly spent two semesters there as a math major and soon realized that I fit in better at the student newspaper and student radio station. Mr. Bush had a luncheon with student leaders in the Connelly Center as many of us looked on from an upper level. He made some remarks and acknowledged the people he was with, including Villanovan editor Marianne Lavelle. I started a chant of "Marianne, Marianne," which prompted Mr. Bush to call her to his side for a hug. Cameras flashed and a big picture of the two of them was splashed above the fold on the front page of The Philadelphia Inquirer the next day. That's when Marianne told me that her family members were leaders in the local Democratic party and that she now had a lot of explaining to do.

Bill Clinton came to Los Angeles after his term to speak at the Radio & Records convention. I was working at the convention for my friend Pam Baker. She assigned me to be the liaison for "Access Hollywood" anchors Nancy O'Dell and Pat O'Brien. I had known Pat for years from his frequent guest appearances on KROQ. He felt comfortable telling me that he really wanted to be introduced to Mr. Clinton, which wasn't on the official agenda. I was aware of the path that the former president would take through the kitchen to the ballroom so I positioned Pat and Nancy in the corridor until the time was right. As Mr. Clinton was chatting with some people in his entourage, I saw my opening and took it. "Mr. Clinton, I'd like you to meet Nancy O'Dell and Pat O'Brien," I said. He quickly turned to greet them, as I thought he would, especially since Nancy is gorgeous.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

sing in exultation

The piece of music that makes it feel like Christmas for me is the "Christmas Festival Overture" by Leroy Anderson. The composer took several popular Christmas carols and songs and arranged them in a medley. The best parts of it were clearly influenced by Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture." My favorite segment is a mashup of "Jingle Bells" and "O Come All Ye Faithful." There's a new BBC recording of Anderson's holiday works that includes the overture. I literally got goosebumps when I heard the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra perform the opus on Saturday night.

The SLSO's home is the beautiful Powell Symphony Hall, a former vaudeville and movie house. Prior to the concert, they projected messages on a screen reminding the audience that photography was prohibited and that ushers would provide cough drops before the show started. Coughing must be prohibited too. I was impressed that at one of the refreshment stands they sold slices of cake and pie, egg nog (spiked and regular) and hot cocoa. Meanwhile on stage, soloist Doug LaBrecque put the broad in Broadway as he sang to the rafters. He thanked his arranger Wayne Barker for working up some nice orchestrations to include the excellent St. Louis Children’s Choirs on "Do You Hear What I Hear?"

All the songs we heard at the concert and the songs we heard on the weekend's long car trip got me thinking about the good, the bad and the ugly of Christmas music. Relient K's version of "Sleigh Ride" is a favorite this year. I also still enjoy The Blenders singing "The First Noel" and the Brian Setzer Orchestra doing "Angels We Have Heard On High," which is downloadable for free for a limited time on Look up pop perfection and you should get "All I Want for Christmas Is You" by Mariah Carey. It is flawless both as a song and as a record. Ask the Grammys if you don’t know the difference between the two.

I've come to realize that "Baby It’s Cold Outside" is really a woman’s song. I don’t like versions in which the female part is a throwaway, for example when Dean Martin sings it with some anonymous chorus girls (sorry, Bean.) I loved the version on the Mark & Brian Christmas album, not because of Barry Manilow but because of the great voice of listener Pamela Holt. Even better is the cover of the song on the "Elf" soundtrack, sung by Zooey Deschanel and Leon Redbone. When Zooey sings the line "my sister might get suspicious," how can you not think of Bones?

My daughter left a comment on Bean's Christmas Music Everyday blog. He posted a song called "Christmas Eve in Washington" that seems to be disliked by everyone I know. As far as I know, it only gets airplay in D.C. That reminds me. Let me air a gripe about all the radio stations that play only Christmas music for the month prior to the holiday. I've already written about the uneven ratio of sacred to secular songs. Now I want to know why you cut us off cold turkey at 11:59 p.m. on the 25th? When you go back to playing the best mix of yesterday's favorites and today's whatever, I'll be listening to Christmas music for a few more days. I think you should leave some Christmas songs on the playlist through New Year's Eve. Oh and one more thing, when you play an instrumental version of "Sleigh Ride," keep in mind that Leroy Anderson was the composer of the piece. You often make it sound like he played all the instruments on the recording by the Boston Pops or another symphony orchestra.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

see's the moment

The smell of chocolate would often fill my nostrils as I got out of the car and walked into the building at KLOS. The studios were just up the street from a See's Candies plant on La Cienega Boulevard.

See's has stores in most California shopping malls and kiosks at many of the gates at LAX and other airports. For the past few years they've also put kiosks in malls all over the country prior to Christmas. The kiosks sell prepackaged candy only. If you want to get a custom assortment, with extra Scotchmallows for example, you have to order it. We get the See's catalogs in the mail several times a year and I still like to read them cover to cover.

Dave, the guy working at the West Town Mall kiosk, has a slight resemblance to my old friend Loo Katz. He told me that he and his wife used to live in Glendale, California. They moved to Maine before becoming full-time RVers. Now they travel the country, usually staying at campgrounds where they do some work in lieu of paying a site fee. At one of these sites they met a guy from See's who suggested that they had the right personality to work for the company too.

Just the other day I talked with an evolutionary evangelist who also travels the country rather than keep a permanent home. I do want to get to all 50 states but I'm not sure that I'm willing to give up the comforts of home for a life on the road. Besides, I wouldn't want to end up like the characters in "Lost in America."

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Friday, November 14, 2008

classic roq

A former colleague from KROQ recently emailed me to say that he was digging through some old stuff for his Facebook page and found an archived copy of on a floppy disc. Can you imagine an entire radio station website fitting on a floppy disc nowadays?

Gary Cohen was the computer whiz kid in the KROQ engineering department. He's gone on to bigger and better things, of course. You can read more about him at LinkedIn and IMDB. Gary put much of the old KROQ site on his own server. Clicking through it brought me back to the early days of the World Wide Web.

Gary wanted me to see a photo on one of the Kevin & Bean pages. It shows the late Calvert DeForest posing with Kevin & Bean and Jimmy Kimmel and me.

I remember being present when most of the other pictures were taken too. I was the one holding the camera for some of them. The photo of Air Supply reminded me of the story I told here about the concert they did for us. I submitted this same picture to the trades with the caption: "Kevin & Bean with either '80s pop icons Air Supply or Mark & Brian, we're not sure which."

I wish I could remember exactly why we needed to make a video of Kevin & Bean on the beach with Jenny McCarthy and Ed McMahon. It might have been for an awards ceremony that they couldn't attend, perhaps at a radio convention or a Starlight Foundation banquet. Because nothing says helping the kids like Jenny McCarthy in a bikini.

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Friday, October 31, 2008

one trick, three treats

It would have been cool to celebrate Halloween by posting a copy of "The War of the Worlds," as requested by my friend Bean. I unsuccessfully dug through several drawers full of old CDs hoping that I might have the version we did on KLOS. Unfortunately the fan sites and Rare Footage Vault didn't have it either. Instead I found a CD of the 1938 version, which I was enjoying in the car as I drove around today.

Last weekend I saw something that would be great at a Halloween party. Here are some college students using liquid nitrogen to make ice cream. It makes a mess.

Last night I judged a dessert cook-off that you'll be reading more about later. One of the contestants put Oreo Balls on a Halloween tray with some holiday sprinkles. They were similar to the Oreo Truffles my wife makes, except these had white chocolate (yuck) on the outside. I much prefer the dark chocolate coating.

Of all the Halloween costumes I saw tonight, only one made me reach for the camera. Here's a human Marshmallow Peep.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

in a world

Movies were on my mind this morning even before I heard the sad news about Don LaFontaine's death. Don was, of course, the ultimate movie trailer voiceover announcer. YouTube has some great footage including a short documentary about "the voice" and routine by comedian Pablo Francisco. I especially enjoyed seeing "5 Guys in a Limo," which featured Don and four other voiceover guys in a skit for an industry function.

I was lucky enough to get Don to appear in one of the live radio dramas I directed at KLOS. As you would expect, he was the consummate professional, eagerly taking direction from me and waiting for me to point at him before he delivered his lines. It's no accident that I chose to stand next to Don in the cast photo.

A Christmas Carol radio play - December 11, 1998 - (left to right): Frank Murphy, Don LaFontaine, Christine Cavanaugh, Jess Harnell, Jenna Elfman, Mark Hamill, Brian Phelps, Roxann Dawson, Robert Urich, Henry Winkler, Mark Thompson

My original plan for today's entry was to gripe about the summer box office reports. With Don's passing, I've lost some of my vitriol on the topic. Hollywood touts the amount of money movies bring in but rarely mentions the number of tickets sold. A news story I heard on ABC this morning said that the movies collected $4.2 billion this summer, up slightly from last year's $4.18 billion. This came despite a four percent drop in attendance. The increase was due to higher ticket prices. I just want to hear the Hollywood studios publicly acknowledge that attendance is down because ticket prices are up. Every time they raise prices, they increase the divide between the blockbusters and the bombs. If tickets cost less, the average person would be willing to take a risk on seeing more movies in the theater rather than waiting for them to turn up on DVD or HBO. Don't even get me started on the concessions.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

lucky number eight

WVLT held a local version of a network upfront presentation this afternoon at the Tennessee Theatre. I called Dino Cartwright and got myself invited. Alan Williams served as emcee for the event, which was targeted to advertisers.

Actor David Keith was there to plug his upcoming appearance on "CSI: Miami." I spoke to him briefly, choosing to tell him that when we met about ten years ago at KLOS, it was the first time I had ever heard anyone talk about Vols football. David responded by saying that he had been in Mark Thompson's first film. It was definitely a better choice than bringing up the time we met again three years ago.

In addition to Keith, I saw and spoke with Chef Walter, Gary Loe, Rick Russo and Bob Kesling. Russo and Kesling took the stage to talk about the Vols for a little while. Most of the time was devoted to watching previews of the new shows coming to CBS this fall:
  • The pilot episode of "Worst Week" looks funny. But can they maintain that frenetic pace in episode two or three or four etc?
  • I'll take a look at Jay Mohr's show, "Gary Unmarried," because I like his guest appearances on KROQ. Will the sitcom writing be up to the level of his standup? He looks like he's taken up weightlifting or something.
  • Of the dramas, "The Mentalist" intrigues me enough to record a few episodes. It airs on Tuesday nights, while I'm out improvising.
  • They said that "Eleventh Hour" got the best grades from test audiences. The short preview I saw didn't convince me to commit to it. I'll probably watch the first episode, just to be nice.

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

ain't ashamed to tell ya

To say that I was bummed by the death of Bernie Mac would be an extreme understatement. My daughter knows that I am a fan and called to tell me about Bernie's passing. That's how I found out. When I told some co-workers, they hoped that it was some sort of false rumor. A check of the headlines on their cell phones confirmed the sad news.

The first I ever heard of Bernie was when I saw "The Original Kings of Comedy." Two of the film's other stars, Steve Harvey and D.L. Hughley had made multiple guest appearances on the Mark & Brian show in the time I worked at KLOS. They were enough of a draw for me to want to see the movie.

My wife and I were just about the only white people in movie theater that day. Harvey, Hughley and Cedric the Entertainer were all funny but Bernie Mac stole the show. I started watching for him in other movies and on TV. A year or so later, I set up a Season Pass on my TiVo when "The Bernie Mac Show" debuted. Since 2000, I've seen at least eight of Bernie's movies, including the underrated "Pride" and "Mr. 3000."

The best remembrance of Bernie that I read today is by Alan Sepinwall in the Newark Star-Ledger. He reprinted his 2002 interview with the comedian. Meanwhile, my friend Bean spotted a mistake that the Chicago Tribune certainly must regret. You can read the corrected version of their obituary online as well as a better article that came later. When it was first posted, they had not yet inserted some anecdotes about Mac's early years:
Life changed dramatically for Mac when he was 32. He won the Miller Lite comedy search that year and that performance took him to the standup stage, which ultimately led to regular performances on popular shows like HBO's "Def Comedy Jam."

In a few short years, he was able to put a stamp on this tell-it-like-it-is brand of comedy that audiences had come to know him for. He was a hit on the stage, delivering sordid tales of his early life growing up on Chicago's South Side. Would be great to get a couple examples here

His work hit home to the African American audience -- his aggressive, brash comedy had a down home feel to it, tackling everything from family life to black romantic relationships -- yet Mac was able to cross it over, connecting with a majority entertainment scene.
The obituaries aren't enough. I'm going to look for some videos and watch Bernie Mac at his best.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

why I oughta...

Preparations are in full swing for my upcoming road trip to Branson, Hot Springs and Memphis. The first person I thought of in Branson was Little Timmy Padilla, who used to play accordion for us at KLOS before getting a job at the Lawrence Welk Resort Theatre. I was hoping we could catch Timmy in a matinée before seeing Jim Stafford at night. According to his website, Tim has moved back to Studio City. He will be in Branson for a week but unfortunately it's not while I'm there.

My wife and I went to AAA to get maps and TourBooks. We got there an hour before closing, which left no time for them to make us a TripTik. Not to worry, they said they would mail it to us. Meanwhile, I've been sifting through the TourBooks looking for restaurants in Branson. I also emailed Comedy World co-founder Kent Emmons who has connections there. He wrote back with several fine dining options.

Something else in the AAA TourBook is too weird not to mention. Here's the exact quote: "One of the flashiest shows in town is at the Shoji Tabuchi Theatre on Shepherd of the Hills Expressway. Tabuchi -- who has a Moe Stooge pudding bowl haircut..."

Wait just a minute here. Who is "Moe Stooge?" I don't know who should be more insulted, Moe Howard, all Three Stooges fans or Shoji Tabuchi himself. By the way I talked with someone over the weekend who believes that it is Yo-Yo Ma who has a theatre in Branson.

The AAA writer continues: "If nothing else, you must see this show just to experience the ladies' powder room or gentlemen's lounge; the rich wood paneling, potted palms, chandeliers, beveled glass wall tiles, onyx sinks, fresh orchids and hand-carved mahogany billiard table are all the last word in lavish." Too bad their stage is dark this month.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

winz, losses and ties

Nicole Sandler and I know a lot of the same people. We were competitors when I was at KROQ and she was at KLOS. A couple of years later, I got Nicole's old job with Mark & Brian. Despite our common acquaintances, we had never met or spoken until today. Nicole emailed to see if she could call me on her Miami radio show to talk briefly about the tragic church shooting in Knoxville. A podcast of the show is available. I'm on at the end of hour 3.

The accused killer had books by Bill O'Reilly, Michael Savage and Sean Hannity in his home. I said that I had heard Catherine Howell on WNOX wondering if the suspect was one of their listeners. Nicole supports a return to the Fairness Doctrine so that people like the shooter might be exposed to other points of view. I countered by telling how we talked about tolerance and freedom of religion on Monday morning on Star 102.1. I told the Miami listeners that East Tennessee is not all gun racks and confederate flags. We have many different houses of worship along Kingston Pike and plenty of well-educated people at UT and ORNL.

It was nice of Nicole to call. I'm not sure why she thought of me but my best guess would be that she saw one of the links I submitted to Perry Simon's Talk Topics column at All Access. When I find a local story that might interest Perry (like this one), I send it along. I've been doing that since he and I worked in neighboring trailers at the Comedy World Radio Network.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

prey for Cas Walker

The dream of almost everyone who has done a commercial voiceover is to become a cartoon character. I've always been a fan of the voices behind the drawings. When I was casting the radio dramas we did at KLOS, I would be sure to get some talented voice actors to work alongside the more well-known celebrities. Jess Harnell was in all of my productions. At other times we had Nancy Cartwright, Christine Cavanaugh and the legendary June Foray. Mark Hamill was in several of our productions. He is known for his on-camera performance in "Star Wars" but truly shines for his voiceover work as the Joker in "Batman: The Animated Series" and other roles.

The topic of voiceovers came to mind when my friend Sandy Weaver Carman left a comment on my blog entry about downloading a Mark Twain audiobook. DC radio fans will certainly remember Sandy as one of the best deejays to ever grace the market with her work at Q107 and WAVA. She recently launched her own voiceover business and a blog that will help push her name to the top of the search results.

Sandy's blog inspired me to add some newer samples on my own voiceover page. I recently did a couple of radio commercials using character voices. Although I have yet to become the voice of an animated cartoon character, publicist Zane Hagy asked me to create a voice for Ronnie Raccoon, the spokesplushy for Saving Little Hearts, a charity for kids with congenital heart defects.

One day last week, there was a slight advertising emergency at the radio station. A local used car dealer wanted someone to do a superhero voice for their new commercial. The others who had tried it weren't "whitebread" enough. Strangely, I was asked to give it a try. Because of the circumstances, there was a rush to get it done. On my way to the studio, I saw that the script called for three voices. I thought it might be funny if I did all of them myself. If it didn't sound right, they could still get somebody else to be the announcer or the woman in distress. Gene Wooten added some reverb and the perfect music. Bottom line: the client loved the spot and wants to do more. Former radio PD Gishelle Diva Gish called the request line on Sunday to tell me that she too thought the spot was good. Click here to take a listen for yourself. C'mon it's only 30 seconds!

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

surprise at the pearly gates

George Carlin seemed younger than 71. Maybe not in appearance but certainly in attitude. If someone asked you last week, could you have guessed that he was born in the 1930s? Yesterday morning I awoke to the startling news that Carlin had died. Although he was only a couple of years younger than my parents, he didn't behave like a member of their generation.

The 28-year-old Carlin was virtually unrecognizable in some footage from a 1965 episode of "The Merv Griffin Show." He was clean-cut and doing a more standard form of shtick reminiscent of Rodney Dangerfield. By the time he hosted the first "Saturday Night Live" in 1975, he had reinvented himself into the comedian we all knew. That could explain why he seemed younger than he was.

When asked for a reaction, Jay Leno told ABC News, "If there was ever a comedian who was a voice of their generation it was George Carlin." Leno's quote for USA Today was "He was a student of Lenny Bruce, and, like him, he spoke directly to his generation." Uh, Jay? Please see paragraphs one and two above.

I remember first listening to one of Carlin's comedy albums while visiting some second cousins in Baltimore. They let me use headphones so as not to disturb the grown-ups. And by grown-ups, I mean the people in the house who were closest to Carlin's age.

George Carlin was one of the many celebrities to appear on KLOS while I worked there. I think he was promoting a book at the time. Or maybe an HBO special. Or possibly both. Carlin was nothing short of prolific. I may not agree with all his beliefs, but I am glad to have met him. I think I may have had him sign a book. If I did, it would be packed away in in box in the basement.

Yesterday I flipped over to NPR as part of my resolution to listen to it more often. They were rerunning an interview with George Carlin from 2004. In the segment I heard, the interviewer asked George about his philosophy of life. In her question, she aptly described it as a mix of narcissism and mysticism. Then she asked about his heart attacks and his thoughts on death. He talked about how he would be sad to know that his life was ending whether he had a minute, a month or a year's notice that his time was up. I wonder what was going through the interviewer's mind as she asked the questions. Was she thinking ahead to the day the interview would eventually be replayed?

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Friday, June 20, 2008

one down, nineteen to go

At the urging of my friend Tim, I tried listening to some NPR this week. Today I heard a show that was so good, I'm kicking myself for not knowing about it sooner. Fortunately all twenty past episodes of Radiolab are available online. They produce five episodes per season.

The episode that got me hooked was about the famous 1938 broadcast of "War of the Worlds." I downloaded the mp3 so I can hear the parts I missed while out of the car. People who posted comments on the show's blog loved it as much as I did.

Every Halloween some radio stations would rerun the old Mercury Theatre show. I used to hear it as a kid in New York on WOR. In L.A. it was on KNX. While I was at KLOS, I produced and directed a version of "War of the Worlds" at the Museum of Television & Radio, as it was known back then. We paid some old guy for the rights and used the same script.

In our production, Paul Sorvino played the Orson Welles part. I cast Paul Moyer and Colleen Williams from KNBC and Leonard Maltin from "Entertainment Tonight" in the roles of the newscasters who "interrupt" the program. They were all great but it was William Shatner who stole the show. He played Carl Phillips, the reporter who (spoiler alert) gets burned up by the Martians. Shatner got a well-deserved standing ovation during our first commercial break.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

to pry or not to pry

John Charles Carter died yesterday. The world knew him as Charlton Heston, the star of two of my favorite movies, "Planet of the Apes" and "The Ten Commandments." I had the pleasure of meeting him twice.

Mr. Heston visited KLOS a couple of times to promote his books. It is unusual for a movie star of his magnitude to do a radio interview. He came because the publishing business has a better appreciation for the power of radio than the movie industry. I was there when he came in to plug "To Be a Man: Letters to My Grandson." On another occasion we needed to bring the show to him. I can't remember exactly why. I made a few calls to his house and spoke with Mrs. Heston to make plans for the broadcast. On the appointed day, we took the Mark & Brian Mobile up Coldwater Canyon Drive to the Heston home. The entire interview was conducted in the driveway, near his grandson's sandbox.

The broadcast from Heston's driveway was similar to our on-air visits to the exteriors of the homes of Peter Falk and John Travolta. We didn't presume to set foot in their houses either.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

who doesn't?

When they said the Osmonds would be on stage tonight, they really meant it. By the end of their concert, the stage was completely packed with Osmonds, performing and otherwise. They were the headline entertainment at the Children's Miracle Awards, part of the Children's Miracle Network Celebration going on this week at Walt Disney World.

My wife and I wanted to see the performance but we wanted to skip the black-tie dinner that preceded it for two reasons. First, we didn't bring any formal wear with us to Florida. Second, the entrée was filet mignon on a Lenten Friday. Instead we went to Epcot to get fish for dinner. And by fish, I mean sushi at Tokyo Dining.

After dinner we tried to hurry back to the Coronado Springs Resort. Because it took us a long time to find a bus going from the hotel to Epcot before dinner, we thought it might be faster to make our return trip via Monorail from Epcot to the Magic Kingdom and then by bus back to the hotel. It wasn't. We worried that we might miss the Osmonds. Instead that fortunate mistake put us in the right place at the right time to have our pictures taken with Donny Osmond, who was crossing the hallway outside the ballroom about half an hour before showtime.

We used our ticket to the formal dinner to slip in to the back of the ballroom where we found a lone empty table just waiting for us. The award ceremony was almost over. Before long, the Osmonds (including Alan) came on and sang shortened versions of their hits. To mark their 50th anniversary in show business, the four original Osmond Brothers sang an old barbershop song about an auction. Donny & Marie came on to sing a medley of their most famous songs including "Little Bit Country / Rock and Roll," "Soldier of Love," "Paper Roses" and "Puppy Love." Marie stepped aside to let her brothers sing a medley. The only song of theirs that I recognized was "One Bad Apple." They had an odd song about horses and some loud pyrotechnics that took the crowd by surprise.

For their finale, the performing Osmonds brought on their two oldest brothers who are deaf. Jimmy was given the task of explaining how the performing Osmond Brothers got their start as a way to raise money for the education of the two deaf brothers. The serious mood was broken by a series of Wayne's corny jokes (wear two pair of pants when golfing in case you get a hole-in-one). Marie got choked up and got the crowd feeling the same way as she talked about what it must be like to be born deaf into a musical family. Then Donny invited all the other Osmonds in the audience to join them as they sang "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother." The two eldest signed as the others sang.

I had a chance to chat separately with Donny and Marie during my remote broadcast on Star 102.1 this morning. It's been about four and a half years since I last saw Donny at a Morning Show Bootcamp convention and about ten years since I booked him as a guest on KLOS. Every time I see him, Donny remembers me from when he would visit the Don & Mike show at WAVA. We were one of the first stations to play "Soldier of Love." One memorable morning we had Donny ride through DC in a limo while standing in the sunroof opening and shouting to passersby "I'm Donny Osmond, don't you wish you were me?"

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

please, please, please don't go away

The TV in our living room stayed tuned to WATE all evening for "Lost" and the new show that followed. "Eli Stone" was pretty good and worth watching again next week. One of the stars is Natasha Henstridge, who first became famous in the movie "Species." I remember when she visited KLOS to promote "Species II." As I recall, she was pregnant at the time. A few months before I started my blog, I saw Natasha at the 2005 "American Idol" finale party. I would have liked to have had my picture taken with her but the opportunity didn't present itself. Instead I took a picture of Natasha posing with a fellow partygoer because she looked a bit like my Aunt Kitty McArdle. Not Natasha, the other lady. I've been hanging on to the picture all this time in case I ever had reason to write about either Natasha or Aunt Kitty even though she wasn't really a relative but a close family friend.

The 11 o'clock news on WATE had another story about the unusual advertising campaign for "Lost." My grandmother will probably be interested to know that Knoxville has one of only a very few Oceanic Air billboards. Maybe the placement of that billboard means Sawyer is one of the "Oceanic Six." I'll have to ask Grandma if she started watching "Lost" again. She had thought about giving up the show when it became too much about the Others.

Speaking of WATE, I will miss their noon newscast. Terry Morrow reports that the station will drop the broadcast after tomorrow. I was one of the people who watched it almost every day. Other stations owned by the same company have been canceling newscasts and making staff cutbacks. I was glad to see in Terry's report that Lori Tucker is staying put.

There's still one more show on WATE for me tonight. I will record "Jimmy Kimmel Live," as I always do and watch it later. Tonight he celebrates five years on the air. Happy anniversary Jimmy!

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

oodles of noodles

Unlike some viewers, I am not suffering from "TiVorexia" because of the writers strike. There are still plenty of shows for me to watch on my assorted DVRs. Here's my advice for those people with nothing to watch: lower your standards. I've started recording some movies on HBO, Cinemax and Starz now that they are broadcast in HD. I haven't watched them yet because I haven't run out of regular shows.

In addition to a backlog of shows like "Smallville" and "Reaper" recorded this fall, I can once again choose to watch every new "Jimmy Kimmel Live" show. The other night Jay Thomas was the guest. I will always be thankful to Jay for casting me as an extra on one episode of his sitcom, "Love & War." He started the segment by saying that he and Jimmy had never met before. It was a little surreal for me. I mean it's not everyday that you see co-workers from two different jobs having a conversation on national television about a third person you know. I worked with Jay at KPWR and with Jimmy at KROQ. Most of the segment centered on Jay's story about going "noodling" for catfish in Oklahoma with my friend Rodney Lee Conover. Rodney now works with Jay at Sirius and also worked at KPWR when I was there.

Jimmy got Jay to name all the cities where he had worked in radio. Knoxville was on the list. I either didn't know or had forgotten that Jay passed through here. I knew that Mark Thompson, a co-worker of mine from KLOS, had Knoxville on his résumé. I think Mark was on the air at WRJZ. Anybody know what station Jay Thomas was on? Sounds like a good question for Knoxville Radio History 101.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

if ever he would leave us

The great Robert Goulet has died of pulmonary fibrosis. He was always one of my favorite radio guests. He never broke character but still seemed to understand the inherent campiness of his appearance on the morning shows I produced back then. At WAVA, Don & Mike would pre-promote the next appearance of "Goulet on the Zoo" more than most other guest bookings. Each year the largest and best Christmas card I received was postmarked in Las Vegas and bore a return address that said "ROGO & ROVE." The card always had a new photo of Robert and his wife Vera on the front.

During my time at KLOS, we would put on old-fashioned radio plays. At first it was just "A Christmas Carol." Later we expanded it to "The War of the Worlds" one Halloween and two episodes of "The Witch's Tale" the next year. Our most ambitious effort was probably the production of "The Wizard of Oz" we did one Easter. Dwight Yoakam was the first celebrity to sign up. He knew right away that he wanted to play the Cowardly Lion. Mark & Brian wanted to play the Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow but neither wanted to sing, especially since they would be compared to Dwight. I had the idea to get them a stunt double, somebody who was a consummate professional yet would get the joke. We didn't tell the audience about it in advance. The listeners were expecting to hear Brian sing "If I Only Had a Brain" and Mark sing "If I Only Had a Heart" but instead they heard the robust voice of Robert Goulet both times. You can see Mr. Goulet in the center of the cast photo below.

The Wizard of Oz radio play - April 17, 1998 - (left to right): Mary Oppermann, Tom Mazur, Lisa Boisse, Jess Harnell, Alan Young, Sandra Gould, Robert Goulet, Dwight Yoakam, Peter Scolari, Brian Phelps, Sheena Easton, Mark Thompson, Frank Murphy

I still hear Robert Goulet's voice every night singing the theme song to "Jimmy Kimmel Live." My deepest sympathy goes to Vera and the rest of his family.

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

eighth wonder of the world

Rather than sit in weekend traffic through Sevierville and Pigeon Forge, I opted to take a more scenic route from Morristown to Gatlinburg today. I drove south on I-81 to I-40 and headed east, where I picked up U.S. Route 321 in Cocke County. I was only passing through and did not see anything unusual. It was probably a greater distance than if I had taken exit 407 but I got to keep moving and see a less developed side of the Smokies. Along the way, I enjoyed some hyper-local radio. One AM station had some great cheesy jingles and frequent weather reports between their moldy oldies. A local FM station was in the middle of a four-hour remote from a client. Both reminded me a little of my favorite station, WLNG in Sag Harbor, New York.

My wife and I had been invited to a wedding and reception in Gatlinburg. The wedding was at St. Mary Catholic Church and the reception was at Lineberger's Seafood Company. The bride is a fourth grade teacher. During the reception, she read aloud from some essays her students had written on the topic "How to Be a Good Husband." One young girl wrote, "if your wife ever wants anything, buy it for her."

As I looked out from the restaurant balcony at the crowded sidewalks and shops below, I was reminded of a recent Metro Pulse article by an intern making her first trip to Pigeon Forge. A new tourist attraction is being built next door to the restaurant. It's the third location of the Hollywood Wax Museum. They also have one in Branson and one in Hollywood. I went into the museum in Hollywood when my friend Pam Baker and I were scouting possible locations for Mark & Brian's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. As it turned out, their star was placed right by the museum. The new Gatlinburg wax museum has a gigantic likeness of King Kong to grab the attention of visitors. During the wedding reception, I tried to surreptitiously take a photo of the bride and groom with King Kong in the background. Ultimately it was just easier to ask them to pose for the blog.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

putting the MT in CMT

"Have you seen the new Alison Kraus music video?" asked my friend Mary. Truthfully, I hadn't seen any Alison Kraus videos, new or old. Because I knew Mary to be a fan of the rock music when she and I worked together at KLOS and at the Comedy World Radio Network, she felt that she had to explain. Mary said it was her husband, not she, who was watching CMT when the video came on.

Tonight I flipped over to PBS hoping to catch one of my favorite bands, Buckwheat Zydeco on the tribute to Paul Simon. Several famous artists did cover versions of Paul Simon songs. As fate would have it, I missed Buckwheat but saw Alison Kraus. The show repeats tomorrow afternoon. I'll have more to say about cover songs tomorrow too.

Regardless of who is responsible, Mary and her husband noticed that Mark Thompson (of Mark & Brian fame) is in the Alison Kraus video playing the part of a sound engineer. The action takes place in a recording studio as Alison and John Waite sing a duet version of his 1984 hit "Missing You." Mark has been doing a lot of acting and screen writing lately. Mary will get to display some of her fancy flute playing on the soundtrack to Mark's next film, "Two: Thirteen."

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

paley in comparison

One of my favorite places has a new name. The Museum of Television & Radio is now known as the Paley Center for Media. The museum and I go way back. I used to go there when I was in high school and the museum was still known as the Museum of Broadcasting. At some point they decided that the word "broadcasting" wasn't broad enough for the scope of their collection. They had started to include shows that were made for cable and hadn't been broadcast over the air.

When I worked at KROQ, I arranged for the morning show to broadcast from the museum in New York while we were there to cover the MTV Video Music Awards. When I worked at KLOS, I arranged for the morning show to broadcast from the museum in Beverly Hills so that we could put on old time radio plays in their John H. Mitchell Theater.

I once sent an email to "The View" to complain about the way Barbara Walters always referred to the museum. I think she called it the Museum of Television & Broadcasting. My complaint was that she omitted radio. Now she can just call it the Pawey Centaw.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

a comedy tragedy

Sometimes a death can bring people together. At every funeral I've been to, somebody says that it's great to see you again but that they're sorry it has to be under these circumstances. Somebody else will say that the only time we ever get together anymore is at funerals and weddings. I hadn't talked with my friend Charlie Reinke in a long time. The sad news of Richard Jeni's death prompted me to call Charlie today.

Charlie is a comedy writer in Burbank. We met because our daughters went to grammar school together. As our families became good friends, our wives would often make plans for the four of us. Charlie and I would occasionally go to TV show tapings using tickets that either he or I had gotten through a business contact. I've mentioned before that Charlie's wife, Anja, is running for city council.

I called Charlie to talk about Richard Jeni. We had taken our wives to see Richard perform at the Ice House and had gone backstage to say hi. Charlie and I were in the audience for a taping of Richard's UPN sitcom, "Platypus Man." Charlie told me tonight how Richard would sometimes make a guest appearance in the comedy writing class that Charlie took when he was getting started in the business. Two of the first three jokes he sold were to a TV show called "Caroline's Comedy Hour" and were delivered by Richard Jeni.

I am a fan of Richard's comedy. I've watched his HBO specials and I booked him to appear on KLOS several times. The program director once asked me to find a comedian to entertain between sets at a classic rock concert the station was hosting at the Glen Helen Pavilion in San Bernardino. I arranged for Richard Jeni to do it but it didn't go well. The road crew for the next band refused to stop soundchecking the drums during Jeni's performance. As Richard valiantly tried to get laughs, you could hear the roadie slowly pounding on each drum in the kit and monotonously saying "one, one, one" then "two, two, two" and so on into a microphone.

Charlie hopes to go to memorial service for Richard. He suggested that I check a blog entry from the wife of comedy writer T. Sean Shannon on her MySpace page. On "The View" this morning, the women mentioned a blog posting about Richard written by Elayne Boosler. It will be the last thing I read before bed tonight.

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