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August 30, 2015


Don Hewitt dead at 86

by Bob Sassone, posted Aug 19th 2009 11:50AM
Don HewittNewsman and producer Don Hewitt has died at the age of 86.

Hewitt is probably best known for creating 60 Minutes and ushering in the genre of the TV news magazine show. He also produced The CBS Television News in the late 40s and later The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. He also directed various TV shows and specials, including See It Now (Grant Heslov played Hewitt in the 2005 movie Good Night, and Good Luck), Presidential Timber, and One Plane, One Bomb, and even produced the first Presidential debate on TV, Nixon vs. Kennedy.

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Political commentator Robert Novak dead at 78

by Danny Gallagher, posted Aug 18th 2009 2:10PM
Robert NovakThe TV talking head and former right side of CNN's political cluster#*$& Crossfire has passed away.

Robert Novak died Tuesday morning at the age of 78 from his bout with brain cancer.

The right-wing pundit was a journalist first as evidenced by his long stint in the ink stained world of newspaper reporting from his days as an Illinois sports stringer to his columns for the Chicago Sun-Times. But he's probably best remembered by audiences' eyeballs for his work as a TV pundit and his uncanny ability to make news as he reported it.

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Coke contributed to Billy Mays' death

by Allison Waldman, posted Aug 8th 2009 9:02AM
billy_mays_deathSo now we know why Billy Mays was so hyped in his commercials -- he used cocaine. The autopsy results for the TV pitchman confirm that he died of heart disease, but there were also traces of cocaine in Billy Mays' system from a few days prior to his demise.

There was a family history of heart disease, and cocaine can elevate blood pressure and contribute to coronary blockages. The coroner, Dr. Chrostowski, reported that "cocaine use caused or contributed to the development of Mays' heart disease and thereby contributed to his death."

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Canadian TV legend Les Lye dead at 84

by Danny Gallagher, posted Jul 24th 2009 8:01PM
Les Lye as Barth from Just when it seemed the wrath of the TV celebrity grim reaper finally decided to take his coffee break, the break room runs out of coffee.

Actor and comedian Les Lye passed away on Tuesday from unidentified causes. He was 84.

Of course, here in the States, we know Les as that old guy who played all of the adults on You Can't Do That On Television on Nickelodeon. That was just the tip of the poutine for TV's Ross Ewich.

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What if the Apollo 11 moon landing didn't happen under Cronkite's watch?

by Danny Gallagher, posted Jul 20th 2009 1:04PM
Walter Cronkite on the cover of TimeWalter Cronkite's passing didn't mark the end of an era in the TV news business. The era he helped produce and prolong died long before he did.

It's hard for me to ever imagine a time when people considered a major network news anchor as America's most trusted source for anything. Claims of bias and political persuasion being injected into every story with a meat syringe created a thick fog that made it very hard to cover anything with a modicum of honesty.

Cronkite, however, was the man people turned to when something blew up, exploded, imploded, launched, landed or any other number of descriptive verbs, because his goal wasn't to make news every time he stepped in front of a camera. His goal was just to report it.

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Walter Cronkite dead at 92

by Bob Sassone, posted Jul 17th 2009 8:45PM
Walter CronkiteOK, if you were to pick the weekend that Walter Cronkite died, you couldn't have picked a more ironic, odd weekend for it to happen.

Cronkite was a huge fan of the space program, and he was incredibly giddy during CBS news coverage of the first moon landing in 1969. And here we are on the 40th anniversary of that very mission. Reminds me of when Charles Schulz died, hours before the very last Peanuts cartoon ran.

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Pitchmen pays teary tribute to Billy Mays

by Joel Keller, posted Jul 10th 2009 3:03PM
Billy MaysI don't know how true this axiom is, since I just made it up out of thin air. But it seems to me that, in the world of reality TV, you can edit a nice person to look like a jerk, but it's much tougher to edit a jerk into looking like a nice person. It's just harder to fake being a good person than it is to fake being a jerk. And what I learned by the entire season of Pitchmen, including last night's tribute episode, was that Billy Mays was a good guy.

Sure, he had an ego. Sure, there are probably production staffs out there who think the guy was a jerk because he was having a bad day when he worked with them. But, the entire season of Pitchmen showed that Mays was a fun-loving guy that seemed to be a dedicated family man; he also seemed to be truly committed to helping people realize their dreams through their inventions. Considering how many different people teared up during the tribute episode last night, I could tell the guy was loved and admired.

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Brit viewers tell BBC to lay off the Jackson action

by John Scott Lewinski, posted Jul 9th 2009 9:07AM
BBC viewers told the network to back off the Michael Jackson memorial.I wasn't the only guy wishing Michael Jackson's friends and family would have shown a little more decorum and restraint in turning the singer's funeral into a bad impersonation of The People's Choice Awards.

The BBC reported 473 complaints about its coverage of the Jackson memorial service. The calls "expressed unhappiness" at the way the BBC dedicated two of its networks to the Los Angeles ceremony.

Obviously, considering the millions of TVs trained on the Jackson farewell all around the world, a few hundred moans with British accents don't qualify as an avalanche of negativity. But, the BBC admitted that 91 of the calls were specifically about the "excessive" coverage, and many griped about the maudlin tone of the reporting.

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Neverending Jackson memorial could move to London in August

by John Scott Lewinski, posted Jul 8th 2009 3:03PM
The next Michael Jackson memorial will descend on London's O2 Arena in August.The words "rest in peace" have never held less meaning than in the aftermath of Michael Jackson's death. Now, the endless profiteering and headline grabbing over the singer's death is spreading overseas.

Tuesday's occasionally genuine and moving memorial for Michael Jackson in Los Angeles is only the beginning. Reports say Jackson's minions aren't done milking the man's death just yet.

Plans are in the offing for a huge memorial concert at London's 02 Arena on what would have been Jackson's 51st birthday on Aug. 29. Jackson was supposed to kick off his comeback concert series at the 02 next week.

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CNN denies catching Michael Jackson's ghost on camera

by Danny Gallagher, posted Jul 8th 2009 10:05AM
Is this Michael Jackson's ghost at Neverland Ranch?The sheer volume of coverage surrounding Michael Jackson's untimely death has reached such a solid density that you can actually take a hammer to it (and believe me, I've tried).

The man's death was tragic and newsworthy, and the recent memorial was also deserving of some extreme attention, but some of the bits and pieces almost scream for the story to stick around. Mark my words, Michael Jackson will replace Jesus and the Virgin Mary as the holy face that some yahoo will see in their morning batch of French toast.

One of those stories reached such a fever pitch that the network that spawned it tried to put a stop to it. An overly vigilant CNN viewer spotted a shadowy figure walking across the camera during Larry King's visit to Neverland Ranch. The video found its way to YouTube where it garnered over 4 million hits and sparked a wave of news coverage not seen since, well, Michael Jackson's death.

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Remembering Mollie Sugden

by Michael Pascua, posted Jul 5th 2009 6:02PM
Mollie Sugden as Mrs. SlocombeI was a recent convert to watching BBC comedies on PBS. Although I love all the comedies that PBS offers, I was awed by the show Are You Being Served? The show went places with double entendres and physical comedy that you would never see in American television.

I found out that Mollie Sugden, who plays the infamous Mrs. Slocombe, died on the first of July at the age of 86.

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Media stoops to honor Wacko Jacko

by John Scott Lewinski, posted Jul 3rd 2009 3:03PM
Audiences hope to remember Michael Jackson for Thriller and not everything he's done since.If anyone in the press should ever ask you, "What were you doing when you heard the great Michael Jackson was dead?", be sure to answer with: "Reading one of your stories on what a lowlife you thought he was just prior to his death."

There are times when I'm ashamed to be a part of the media. The 48 hours after Michael Jackson's death was just such an epoch. I chose that last word carefully because the endless, maudlin, self-congratulatory coverage the major news networks wallowed in following Jackson's death was as long-winded as it was embarrassingly dramatic.

While that coverage is sure to continue throughout the memorial services, unavoidable custody and estate battles and forthcoming autopsy reports, none of that will compare in sickly sweet sensation to what CNN, Fox News and the others lowered themselves to just following the singer's death.

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Karl Malden dead at 97

by Bob Sassone, posted Jul 1st 2009 4:21PM
Karl MaldenThe celebrity death march continues.

Karl Malden has died at the age of 97. He was probably best known for his role as Lt. Mike Stone on the ABC series The Streets of San Francisco. Actually, he was probably equally well-known for his American Express "Don't Leave Home Without It" commercials that ran in the 70s and 80s.

He played the lead role in the short-lived NBC series Skag in 1980, but most of his roles were in movies, including Patton, On The Waterfront, A Streetcar Named Desire, Kiss of Death, How The West Was Won, Birdman of Alcatraz, Murderer's Row, and Meteor. One of my favorite Malden roles was in the 50s movie Fear Strikes Out, where he played the pushy father of Red Sox outfielder Jimmy Piersall. His last role was a first season episode of The West Wing.

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What You Missed Last Night: the worst moments in the Michael Jackson coverage

by Bob Sassone, posted Jul 1st 2009 1:33PM
There's been so much coverage of Michael Jackson's death that there's bound to be great stuff and ... well, not so great stuff. In fact, lots of not so great stuff. Last night The Daily Show gave awards to the worst moments. This is really funny. Did Geraldo really use a whiteboard like that, and did CNN actually have an animation of his heart? Amazing.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Rippy Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Obitutainment

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A Match Game fan remembers Fred Travalena

by Joel Keller, posted Jun 29th 2009 3:06PM
Fred TravalenaThe sad news just keeps on coming: comedian and impressionist Fred Travalena passed away yesterday, losing a battle with cancer at the age of 66. For those of you who have no idea who I'm talking about (and, believe me, those numbers are legion), Travalena was big on the talk show and game show circuit in the '70s, doing impressions of everyone from Robert De Niro to George Burns to Jimmy Carter.

As a nerdly kid who rarely left the house after school, however, Travalena is best known to me as a panelist during the latter years of my favorite game show, Match Game. After the jump is the only MG-related clip I could find with Travalena, where he does an impression of De Niro on the short-lived Match Game Hollywood Squares Hour in the early '80s. (Warning: you need to turn the volume up to hear it).

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