Stories and insight in the world of showbiz and beyond.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


As I told you many times, my morning routine rarely changes. Up at about 6 AM, I pour myself a cup of coffee, pop a Tart into my 70-year-old toaster (that's a another story), and completely devour the Los Angeles Times, front page to back. One of my favorite columnists is Steve Lopez. In this morning's article he ended his story on the presidential races with the same signature I always use, "Stay tuned."

Most people who were around in the 60s have been asked this question, "Where were you when John F. Kennedy was assassinated?" And, most people can recall it in full detail. On that fateful November 22, 1963 day, I not only remember where I was, but I remember exactly what I said, "Stay tuned."

There are actually two things that bring that day to mind. Besides me saying, "Stay tuned," the word "BINGO" comes to mind. It's quite a story and you know I'm going to tell it.

In 1963 I was staff announcer at KCOP in Los Angeles. At the time I was also producing and hosting The Lloyd Thaxton Show. I had been doing both because I refused to quit my "day job." Even though I had a local hit show on my hands, one never knows. It wasn't until 1964, when my show went into syndication across the country, that I had the nerve to give it up. For over a year I wrote the show in the announce booth, located in a windowed room looking down on one of KCOP's TV studios.

KCOP had recently given the order telling the staff announcer on duty to check the news wires constantly. If the announcer found a news item deemed worthy of broadcasting, he should go to the booth and inform the staff director on duty that he had a "special announcement." The director would then interrupt the program that was playing at the moment and the staff announcer would cut in with "We interrupt this program to bring you this special news bulletin."

Now 99 out of a 100 of these "special news bulletins" were not very special at all and many were just plain stupid. However on that November 22 morning while scanning the news machine I came up with this.


The first part of the bulletin was mistyped and garbled. But, the words "SERIOUSLY WOUNDED IN DOWNTOWN DALLAS TODAY...PERHAPS FATALLY," came through in chilling detail. I stood there breathlessly as I waited for more. Who was it that was "PERHAPS FATALLY" wounded? And then, after waiting through several minutes of agonizing silence from the news teletype machine, I watched as the following words were oh-so slowly typed out.


Note that the obviously distraught typist still blew the first word by adding a Z. Wouldn't you, if you had to type out that message?

There was no one else in the halls at KCOP as I made my way back up to the announce booth. When I got there I flipped the switch putting my mike in contact with the director ("UP" to the director. "DOWN" on-the-air). The director said, "Lloyd, this better be a good one. We are interrupting a live show, you know." I looked down from my booth window into the studio below. There was a live Bingo game going on in front of a small audience. I said to the director, "Trust me. This is the one."

And then I pushed the switch down and said, "We interrupt this program to bring you a special news bulletin." I read the bulletin and ended with, "Stay tuned to KCOP for further information." There it was: "STAY TUNED." At the time it was a wasted phrase. I knew right then and there that every set that was watching KCOP at the time would switch to a network station for the latest news and for the next week or so we would be a non-watched station.

The Bingo show had to go on anyway because it had nowhere else to go. There was no KCOP news "Department" at the time, and our regularly scheduled programing had to continue. The last thing I heard as I was picking up the phone to call our local news "person" to ask for instructions was, "The next letter is a 'G.'" I never heard anyone yell "BINGO!" The game was over (in more ways then one).

Where were you on November 22, 1963?

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008



That was the headline in a Los Angeles Times news story written by Andrew Blankstein. Kiefer Sutherland, according to the article, "walked out of jail early Monday, January 21st, "mostly to a collective shrug of tabloid indifference."

Frank Griffin, co-owner of Bauer-Griffin photo agency and a veteran paparazzo, was more blunt, "He's not one of those faces that does much," Griffin said of Sutherland (the 41 year old actor). He's no Lindsay Lohan."

I would guess you could substitute Lindsay Lohan in that statement with Britney Spears or Paris Hilton or any one of the other young starlets who feed the appetite of "celebrity magazines and the ever-growing ranks of Hollywood-related gossip blogs and websites."

My immediate rebuttal to all this BS is: "Lindsay Lohan is no Kiefer Sutherland."

Maybe that is because I am prejudiced. I don't think of Kiefer Sutherland as being Kiefer Sutherland. To me his name is Jack Bauer (note that the photo agency mentioned is "Bauer-Griffin." Jack Bauer would be a great paparazzo). My wife, Barbara's, and my favorite show on TV is "24." We don't watch it weekly. Couldn't stand to have to wait a week to see the next episode. We rent the DVD from Netflix and watch all 24 shows in about three days. A total submission into terror, torture and mayhem (and some damn good writing and directing).

When I read that they considered Sutherland a "yawn," I went into CNN to see some pictures of his release. I couldn't find any. And, there was only one story on Kiefer Sutherland. However, there was a headline touting the fact that CNN had "ONE HUNDRED STORIES ON BRITNEY SPEARS."

100 to 1. It is my opinion that Kiefer's problem is that he thinks he is Kiefer Sutherland. He is not Kiefer Sutherland. HE IS JACK BAUER!!

I went in to take a look at the headlines for the 100 Britney Spears stories. They were really dull. I'm going to list a few of the titles and then compare the headlines to what they would be if the same story was about Jack Bauer. I'm sure that you might have a few to add.


If it were Jack Bauer, it would read:


Do you get it now? Here's some more ...





Don't you see now how much more interesting Kiefer Sutherland would be if he would just drop the Kiefer bit and go all out for Jack?

If so, there would never be headlines like this again.



They say that "Youth controls the market." Take a look at this line up. Which one do you find more interesting. 41 year old Jack Bauer - or - any one of these young whipersnappers?


Be honest.

Stay Tuned

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Just a quick note and then you can go back down to "1968." I just discovered that The Movieland Directory, which tracks where Hollywood stars are living today, has added my name, address, and route to their, "Maps to the Stars."

Though overjoyed to find my name in their book of star locations, I was somewhat dismayed to find that the address they give is the one I moved into when I first arrived in LA 51 years ago. I moved out of this location 50 years ago. Obviously, no one in Hollywood noticed that fact.

I called some of my former neighbors to apologize for the hordes of paparazzi who were most likely staking out and terrorizing their wives, children and pets, only to find that NO ONE new has shown up except for a recently hired meter checker from the gas company (who had no idea who Lloyd Thaxton is).

Not believing this, I drove to the site myself, only to find one Dalmatian (out of a possible 101) sitting on the lawn. I was told that he had a spotted past and wasn't to be trusted with a camera. Besides, this dog was a mamarazzi and didn't have the balls for such an outrageous occupation (her name was Britney, by the way).

I called the people at "The Movieland Directory" to complain, but was told that I should be thankful I was included at all.

Yahoo, indeed. My ego has gotten up and gone.

Do you think I should move back?

Stay tuned.

Monday, January 14, 2008


In 1948, George Orwell wrote “1984.” It was a depiction of a frightening year, not unlike what was happening behind Russia's iron curtain in 1948, and predicted that the same thing would be happening by 1984, all over the world. As the 1984 date grew closer, many people were getting anxious as to whether Orwell’s novel was truly precognitive.

Fortunately the date came and went without the sky falling in and few people remembered anything at all unusual about the year 1984. That is, if they remember the date at all.

But everyone who was around in 1968 remembers that year quite well.


In an LA Times article, January 5, 2008, Todd Gitlin, professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University, wrote:

“The coming year (2008) will be chock full of 1968 commemorations.

“It was, after all, the year of the Tet offensive in Vietnam, the My Lai massacre, Columbia University's uprising, President Johnson's decision not to run for a second full term, Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, scores of subsequent riots, Robert F. Kennedy's assassination, the Chicago Democratic Convention riots, the Miss America protest in Atlantic City, Richard Nixon's "Southern Strategy" and election, -- not to mention Prague Spring, the French student uprising, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, and, in Mexico City, the massacre of protesting students and the black power salutes of Olympic athletes John Carlos and Tommie Smith.”

Now add to that, 1960 to 1968, which included: The assassination of President John F. Kennedy (1963), massive student demonstrations beginning in 1964 against the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement and riots (The Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964), the Watt’s Riots (1965), the riots on the Sunset Strip (1965), and, don't leave out, The Lloyd Thaxton Show (1961-1967).

Forget 1984, 1968 was, as Todd Gitlin put it, “the pivotal year in which the convulsions of a decade converged and the country slouched over the edge of a precipice.” Whoa Nellie!

There is no way one could forget where they were and what they were doing in 1968.

I was hosting the TV show Showcase ’68. It was a summer replacement for The Jerry Lewis Show on NBC.

The show came pretty close to causing a 1968 event all by itself; “The Showcase ’68 Berkley Riots.” Showcase ‘68 was a traveling talent show, somewhat like American Idol. During the summer it visited ten cities searching for and presenting new young professional talent. There were also special guest stars like Neil Diamond, Tammy Wynett, Bobby Vinton, Bobby Goldsboro, and Della Reese, who appeared throughout the 10-show series. The contestants included, among many others, Sly & The Family Stone and The Chambers Brothers.


The first show we did was at The University of California at Berkeley. California in “The Greek,” Berkley’s cavernous outdoor amphitheater. Remember this was the 60s, and this was BERKELEY. During the pre-show set-up and rehearsal, the student audience started filing in. Berkley was the home of the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) and their members chose to sit in the front rows right up against the stage. There was a hint of cannabis in the air and everyone was having a high time.

Just before the show was to start taping, the leader of the SDS suddenly stood up and said that NBC was exploiting the students. It seems like one of the flyers distributed before the event in order to get an audience, listed one of the contestants on the show, The Chambers Brothers. They had just released their first giant hit, “Time Has Come Today," and the students were under the impression that they were there to watch a concert featuring The Chamber Brothers.

When they found out it was a TV show and the Chambers Brothers were only contestants in a contest, they (sort of) rioted (more of a "hissy fit). They grabbed and tore up all the show's cue cards (I was speechless), stood and chanted "No show. No show!," and would not let the show continue unless NBC donated $1000 to the student union and that, after the TV show was finished taping, the Chambers Brothers would give a one hour concert just for them.

After much deliberation between NBC and the SDS, the producer of the show agreed to the $1000 donation and The Chambers Brothers to the concert and the show went on.

The Chambers Brothers won the contest at Berkley, but, as karma would have it, in the finals held in Columbus Ohio, they were beat out by none other than Sly and the Family Stone.


It was a very interesting summer.

But, what I REALLY remembered about 1968 is that it was on Showcase ’68 that I first met and dated my beautiful future wife, Barbara.


In 1968, THAT was the date to remember.

And ... we lived happily ever after.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


As I write this, it is January 1, 2008. HAPPY NEW YEAR! My day started out no different than all the days of 2007. I got up, popped a pop-tart in the toaster, poured myself a cup of coffee, and sat down to read the Los Angeles Times front to back. I still check CNN on the computer to get up to date on what happened during the last few hours, but my newspaper is my main man, not only for the news, but the story behind the news. I couldn't start my day without it (It doesn’t matter if I spill my coffee on the paper).

Today I discovered three articles that I just had to mention. Though they were completely unrelated, each one had to be written with the same state of mind. They just HAD to.

Article #1 was actually an editorial titled, "How Cliché." The hope of the editorial, as explained by the writer, was to "perform a public service by calling attention to a few "cringe-worthy turns of phrase that have been cluttering up the language in recent years." It was very cleverly written and one of the many clichés listed jumped right out at me, "THE YouTube GENERATION." The writer is tired of this cliché and suggests it be changed to, "Young People." File that one away as we go to ...

Article #2: In the same LA Times issue, there was the story, "The Reel Geezers," written by Patrick Goldstein.

The "Reel Geezers" are Marcia Nasatir and Lorenzo Semple, who have a popular movie revue show on YouTube.

Lorenzo was one of Hollywood's top screenwriters in the 1970s. He helped write movies for virtually every star of the day, notably Warren Beatty ("The Parallax View"), Robert Redford ("Three Days of the Condor"), Steve McQueen ("Papillon") and Paul Newman ("The Drowning Pool").

Marcia, is no slouch either. She was a longtime agent, pioneering woman production executive, and producer of such films as "The Big Chill" and "Hamburger Hill."

Now digest this: Lorenzo is 84 years old and Marcia is 81. So, what about the suggestion that the cliché, " YouTube Generation" be changed to "Young People?" If it's the exception that makes the rule, the "YouTube Generation" is not just "Young People" anymore.

Article #3 was about the pardoning and recent release of 77 year-old Sara Jane Moore. If you remember, Moore was given a life sentence in the 1975 attempted assassination of President Gerald R. Ford.

OK, here's the tie in between the presidential attempted assassination article, the Reel Geezers and the cliché, "YouTube Generation." James Hewitt, the now-retired federal public defender who handled Moore's case, said, "The public should not be alarmed by her release from prison. She is pretty close to becoming an old lady. She is probably too old to cause any damage."


A native of Charleston, W. Va., Moore was an on-again, off-again FBI informant who became enmeshed in radical politics after moving to the Bay Area. A peripheral player rather than a leader, she volunteered to help the Symbionese Liberation Army, the extreme leftist band that kidnapped newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst.


Put all three of these articles together and you have a very strong case to get rid of the most cringe-worthy cliché that has been really cluttering up the language in recent years …


I was never so proud the day President Ronald Reagan stood at the Berlin wall and proclaimed, "Ich bin ein Geezer."

Stay tuned.