Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuesday's Forgotten TV-Movie: An American Christmas Carol

As I acknowledged yesterday, the holiday season is officially upon us, and this week's Tuesday's Forgotten is a reflection of that. Today I offer the 1979 TV-movie An American Christmas Carol.

Henry Winkler stars as Benedict Slade,  a stereotypical hard-hearted banker who is visited one Christmas Eve by three spirits who resemble people on whom he has foreclosed homes and possessions. During their visit, we see how he became the man he is and what his fate will be if he doesn't change his selfish ways.

Charles Dickins' A Christmas Carol has been performed and reimangined in countless ways since it was first published, but this version is unique in that it is set in Depression-era America, which provides a fresh look at the themes of the original story in a rich American historical context. Winkler's performance is a fine one, even if he does look odd covered in old man makeup.

Here is the entire film for your enjoyment. Thanks!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Holy Holidays Batman, It's Christmas Time!

Ho ho ho! I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving. With Turkey Day behind us, it's time to officially welcome the Christmas season! It's a time when even the most stoic and serious get giddy and spirited. Even Batman! Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving 2011

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I love the food, I love the time off, and I love the time well spent with family and friends. I also love to blog about the day, so enjoy some Thanksgiving appetizers right here!

First, the Swedish Chef shows you how to skewer a turkey.  Or rather, how to try to do it!

If turkey isn't your thing, perhaps you, or even better, your lady, would appreciate a "goose" instead. It worked for Benny Bell!

Finally, a reminder that the day is about being thankful, not gluttonous, from someone who excels at setting us straight at holiday time.

I hope you enjoyed these brief but fun clips. Be good, don't drink and drive, enjoy the food, enjoy your loved ones even more, and once again, Happy Thanksgiving!

But wait--what's this?


This is MY time of year! Great stuff is on the way! Stay tuned!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tuesday Forgotten Film: Home For The Holidays

In case you didn't know, Thanksgiving is this week! In previous years I've featured plenty of Thanksgiving-related fare here, but this year busy times have prevented me from doing so. Still, I have a couple of posts this week in honor of Turkey Day, the first being this week's Forgotten Film, Home for the Holidays.

The film revolves around the family of a career woman played by Holly Hunter, who is fired right before Thanksgiving. With this bad news in mind, she spends Thanksgiving with her wacky dysfunctional family (is there any other kind in Hollywood movies), including her gay brother played by Robert Downey Jr. and cranky father played by Charles Durning. The usual holiday hilarity ensues. There have been several of these types of films made over the years, but this is the only one directed by Jodie Foster, so there's that.

Here is the film's trailer. For more forgotten goodness, click here. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"Hot Hits 98" WCAU-FM Philadelphia

As I said in my post earlier this week regarding the Forgotten Film FM, I've been thinking a lot lately about radio, a medium I've always loved. The one station that is likely most responsible for that love is the late WCAU 98.1 FM and their "Hot Hits" format of the '80s.

This format was a form of Top 40 that focuses on high energy presentation, as little talk from the DJs as possible, avoidance of even the slightest moment of dead air, and heavy rotation of the biggest hit songs. In regards to DJ talk, it wasn't that the DJs shouldn't talk at all, but that the talk be concise, to the point, and to serve in the transition of programming, and WCAU-FM's DJs did that excellently.

This format was created by a consultant named Mike Joseph, who had also been instrumental in creating the Top 40 formats of legendary stations WABC-AM in New York and WFIL-AM in Philadelphia, among others. Joseph had refined his format into what he would term "Hot Hits," and the format debuted in 1977 in Hartford, Connecticut to ratings success.

In April 1981, Joseph met with the management of WCAU-FM in Philly to help the station and its struggling disco/dance format (disco being pretty much dead by 1981).  After a few months of testing and tooling behind the scenes, the Hot Hits format made its debut in September 1981.

It was an instant success.

The music, the jingles, and most importanly, the DJs, all hand-picked by Joseph, worked together to create a station that was energetic, fresh, and very very 80s. The best way to explain all this is through the sound of the station itself, and thanks to recent YouTube posters and aircheck collectors, I can do this for you now.

Here is early midday jock Rich Hawkins a mere day or two into the new format.

The most popular DJ at the station, and my favorite DJ of all time, was Terry Young, the "Motormouth." He was funny, strange, fast, and very popular, especially with younger listeners. Here he is in November 1981 during his 7 to midnight shift.

Here is a composite of several DJs and dayparts from February 1982.

Here is a whopping 16 minutes of 98's first major morning man and "shock jock" Barsky in February of 1983. He would be fired in 1985 but return to Philly in the '90s at several Philly stations for many years afterwards.

You can hear the station undergo changes here and there as the 80s progressed, especially in jingles. Here is Jefferson Ward from July of 1985.

As other stations started to erose ratings from the station here and there over the years, and with station owner CBS high on the oldies format that was very successful on their New York City station, WCAU's days as a Top 40 station were numbered. Here is the station from October 28, 1987, days before it would flip to the oldies format.

Two bits of irony about the station's flip to oldies: the station had been an oldies station through much of the 1970s already, and as the station today has included a good deal of 80s songs into their current classic hits format, they're starting to sound more like they did in the 80s.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Tuesday's Forgotten Film: FM

As much as I write here about TV and movies, I've never spent any time discussing another one of my favorite media, radio.  It is, after all, the namesake of my Internet handle "phillyradiogeek," and that's exactly what I am.  I love radio! I love the music, talk, jingles, production, everything. I especially love the radio of the era in which I grew up, the 70s and 80s. There was something very special about the way the best radio was produced during those decades, and I miss that kind of radio terribly.

I've been thinking of radio a lot lately, and that leads me to my pick for this week's Tuesday's Forgotten, the 1978 movie FM. FM is a comedy about the battle between the DJs and the bean counters at a fictional LA rock radio station.  When the station's sales manager signs an agreement to air corny plugs for the Army, the DJs, led by the program director/morning personality (Michael Brandon), stage an on-air protest and encourage the listeners to take their side.

There are colorful personalities, including Cleavon Little as the overnight jock and Martin Mull, making his big screen debut, as the wackiest DJ of all. There is also music from Linda Ronstadt, Jimmy Buffet, Tom Petty, Queen, and Steely Dan, who performs the movie's titular song.

Somewhere in my collection I have this film recorded on VHS tape off of cable (yes, I recorded on videotape in the 21st century; don't judge me).  I'll have to dig it out and give it a look.

The plot of the film sounds so similar to WKRP In Cincinnati that I thought for sure the show was inspired by the film, but as far as I can tell, the two projects emerged the same year (1978) coincidentally.  However, the characters of the program directors from both projects were inspired by the same real life person.

Here now for you is the film's trailer.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Tuesday's Forgotten TV: Tales of the Tinkerdee

 This week's Tuesday's Forgotten is, I admit, a bit of a cheat, as the TV program I'm showcasing this week never even aired.

Tales of the Tinkerdee was an unaired pilot created in 1962 by Jim Henson and starring the Muppets.  The show is set in the medieval land of Tinkerdee and involves the birthday party of the land's princess and a witch's plan to crash the party when she is uninvited.  The only Muppet character that is instantly recognizable is Kermit (not yet a frog and not going by that name here) appearing as a minstrel/Greek chorus, but the king and witch characters would be used in later Muppets TV specials.

Here, in glorious black and white, is Tales of the Tinkerdee.  Enjoy!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Comedian John Pinette at His Finest

Last month, my wife took me to see one of my favorite stand-up comedians, John Pinette, for my birthday. John never fails to make me laugh out loud.  Here are almost 15 minutes of some of his best bits. Enjoy! For more info on John, including upcoming tour dates, CDs, and DVDs, check out his Web site.  Thanks!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tuesday's Forgotten TV: The Pogo Special Birthday Special

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a fantastic Halloween last night, as well as a great time enjoying the Countdown to Halloween.  It's one of my favorite times to blog all year, and this year was no exception. I can't wait until next year so we can do it all over again.

However, as Charlie Brown would say, "Another Halloween has come and gone," and it's time to move on. And I move on by posting this week's Tuesday's Forgotten, and this week, it's the 1969 animated TV special The Pogo Special Birthday Special.

The special is, of course, based on the legendary comic strip set in the Okee Fenokee Swamp with Pogo the Possum and friends.  As much as I love comic strips, I confess I've never read Pogo (except for a bit of the brief revamp in the late 80s/early 90s), so this world is a new one for me. Creator Walt Kelly (who lends his voice to some of the characters in the special) was unhappy with the quality of this special, but it's an interesting project nonetheless. Enjoy!