Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Where Do You Get Your News?

So I was watching the Desperate Housewives - Grey's Anatomy double dip on Sunday night... (and Grey’s Anatomy is now the better show both in quality and ratings) and just after the Grey’s scene with the crazy tree climbing stalker woman, the local news tease came on,..."Tonight Channel 7 Remembers Bill Beutel"... Oh yeah... Bill Beutel.. I remember him... and then I saw the little graphic saying 1930-2006 and I realized why young whippersnapper Charles Perez was even mentioning the former Channel 7 anchorman.

Beutel's death actually reminded me of something long forgotten in the deep recesses of my mind. Back in the old days, I used to watch Channel 7 Eyewitness News. But, since the late ‘80s, I have been flip flopping between Channel 2 and 4... usually based on Warner Wolf's employment status at Channel 2. When Warner was on.. I watched 2.. if not.. it was Chuck and Sue... But way back when.. in the 80s... I actually did watch Channel 7... As did my mother.. and I can prove it. Here is a clip from a home movie where she gets breaking news about President Clinton from my friend Mike Roth, and Channel 7, as she was packing to move from her old house in Roselle. Click play to see the video.. in letterbox format! Check out Roz Abrams before her stunning Channel 2 makeover!

As I recall, Bill Beutel used to anchor the 6 pm news with the late Roger Grimsby... Grimsby was this old curmudgeon with a sarcastic dry wit who used to make wisecracks during the broadcast... while Beutel was the handsome older gentleman who was supposed to be the picture of class...(I’m sure Peter Jennings was inspired by Beutel when he molded his own on air persona.).. Back then Spencer Christian used to do the sports at 6 (but he would do the weather on the 5pm cast while regular weatherman Storm Field anchored the news with spell check stumper Roseanne Scamardella). Eyewitness News was the home of happy talk news.. yet it amazed me that Roger never ever ever spoke directly to Spencer Christian. Not even a thank you for his fine sports repot... nothing.. gornisht... Sports was over... Roger went to the next news story...usually a feature with Milton Lewis.. (remember him?) Grimsby stayed on until the late 80s, and Beutel just retired a few years ago.

This is how news works. Newspapers and TV stations prepare obituaries in advance so when someone famous dies.. they are ready to roll instantly with a nice tribute package. That’s how it went with Beutel. Bill Ritter, Beutel's successor on Eyewitness News, pre recorded a piece... However, I found one aspect of their Beutel tribute to be very bizarre. All of the interviews are prerecorded in the past tense... with the intent to use it after the person's death.... Well., Channel 7 interviewed the late Peter Jennings some time back.. and here is Jennings talking about Beutel in the past tense! It was very creepy... Did Jennings record obit pieces for other news people before his own death? Actually the sharp viewer (not to be confused with another late ABC News Roger... Roger Sharp) would notice that the piece was recorded for Beutel's retirement a few years ago, and it just so happened that in the sound bite Jennings referred to Bill Beutel in the past tense.

I’ll miss Bill. He was a class act and looked good for his age. And this raises the question.. Where do people get their news? Do people read blogs to catch up with what’s going on in the world? That brings me to today's commentary on stuff that has been going on that grinds my gears.

Tom Cruise... why is this man famous?? What a moron! He exercised his free speech with comments last year that blasted Brooke Shields for post- partum depression, his criticism of the mental health field (I’m married to a social worker and my dad was a shrink), and his ridiculous debate on The Today Show with Matt Lauer... .why oh why do we pay attention to this no-talent? All the gay people think he is gay.. yet if people try to out him he goes ballistic. And it’s all because of this crazy L Ron Hubbard cult he belongs to that harshly criticizes the mental health field. Of course it does.. its members go for therapy and the therapist tells them... "Hey you’re in a cult.. get out of it!". That’s why the Jews for Jesus cult’s “constitution” rejects the rabbinical teachings of Orthodox Judaism… Jews joining that logic defying organization make as much sense as a vegetarian in a hot dog eating contest.

Well the fine folks at South Park decided to exercise their free speech just like Cruise did with his absurd ramblings,... by doing an episode making fun of Cruise's cult. And what happens? No more repeats of that episode.. Ol' Tom didn’t like it... so he allegedly told his movie company (which owns Comedy Central the network of South Park) that he won't do any publicity for his upcoming movie if they allow the show to be rebroadcast.

I guess Freedom of Speech only applies to certain people. In Hollywood, if you have the right credentials you can get away with anything. Remember the actor Cliff Robertson? His career was blacklisted because of a bad check scandal.. except Robertson was the victim of a check written to him by Columbia big shot David Begelman, which Begelman then cashed by forging Cliff’s signature. The Hollywood Powers that Be decided that Robertson should be blacklisted for having the audacity to be the victim of a crime by the beloved Begelman. Imagine that.

Or how about the recent World Baseball Classic? WBC runner-up Cuba was playing a road game and one of the fans unfurled a banner criticizing Fidel Castro. The Cuban bigshot at the game ran up furiously to berate the banner holder only to be stopped by stadium security which promptly reminded the Cuban that that part of South America allows democracy and free speech… unlike Cruise and his cult world.

Hollywood is not the only place with a bizarre double standard. NJ's new Governor Jon Corzine got a call one night from Trenton lobbyist Karen Golding that she was in jail and needed some bail money. Okie dokie said the fabulously rich Corzine.. here are some shekels... and a get out of jail free card... Was it bail out now and ask questions later? It turns out that Golding was accused to stalking Union County Assemblyman Joseph Cryan and was caught red handed breaking into his car!

Cryan himself recently became the head of the State Democratic Party.. but not before he was cleared of accusations of receiving an illegal campaign donation. The accuser was a fellow who was screwed over in Union by our old favorite… eminent domain. This guy bought some land in Union and was about to hire a developer to build some townhouses when lo and behold, the big shots in Union decided to take the land back through eminent domain and let a differently politically connected local developer do the job instead. The aforementioned developer was actively involved in fundraisers for Mr. Cryan. Was Ms. Golding breaking into the car in a Watergate-esque conspiracy to find the smoking gun in this coincidence? Or was she a bit coo coo and had the hots for Mr. Cryan like the looney toon stalker who fell out of the tree in Sunday nights episode of Grey's Anatomy?

Golding is not the only stalker in the news. Some poor shlub named Ronald Martin was just convicted last week of stalking WABC talk show host and wacky yet hot conservative Monica Crowley. Martin was convicted of sending her a ton of emails and trying to give her flowers at a subway stop. Martin upon his arrest did not call the governor as far as I know,... and if so, he probably would not have gotten through. The poor guy is apparently homeless and has spent a large part of the last year and a half in mental hospitals.. Obviously his medicine hasn't been kicking in… or he decided to follow the teaching of the L Ron Hubbard cult and refused to take them. Obviously he’s not well if he likes Monica Crowley.. . .. even though she’s hot, her politics cancel out her good looks... and so what if he bought her flowers? Maybe Crowley should give the guy a shot. maybe a nice candlelight dinner at a local hot dog stand.

And what about that ABC jinx? Crowley is on WABC... Morning man Curtis Sliwa is worried about his life after his cohost Ron Kuby's testimony helped lead to the hung jury of the man he accused of shooting him.. Channel 7 just lost Bill Beutel and ABC's Evening News anchor Bob Woodruff was mortally wounded in Iraq just months after the death of Peter Jennings.

And where do I get my news?

I’m definitely avoiding the jinxed ABC entities. Maybe I’ll start listening to WOR instead. They just added Donna Hanover and some new traffic guy. Or maybe I’ll just read The Star Ledger which had a picture of an old college pal on the front page of Monday's paper. Although it annoys me that their TV critics spend so much time talking about The Sopranos and then act like it’s better than 24. I mean c’mon… Audrey Raines, Jack Bauer’s paramour working with terrorists? That beats watching a man in a coma!

Or…maybe Ill just sit in a tree and watch Grey‘s Anatomy and the Charles Perez news teases on my Ipod...


Dangerspouse said...

The new traffic guy on 'OR stinks. Switch to 1010WINS - their new traffic guy (who replaced the woefully inadequate Rick Forest) is a REAL pro.

Hey Natey, your dad was a shrink? So...what happened to YOU, that he couldn't fix it?

Y'know, for a guy in the media I sure have a lousy background in my field. Other than Peter Jennings and Tom Cruise, I don't think I recognised any other name in your otherwise splendid diatribe. (And I only know of Mr. Jennings because his recent death was trumpetted throughout the land. I still couldn't pick him out of a lineup.) Interesting about his taped eulogy for Bill B, though!

Nostalgic Pump said...

Another nice post, Nate!

I get my daily dose of information from natekean.blogspot.com, as well as a variety of newspaper websites, cable broadcasts at the gym, and yes, NPR (my favorite reporter: Korva (she's not a kurva!) Coleman!). I've never been a fan of the neurotic "all news, all the time" AM radio stations, although I've always been drawn to radio (since a distant cousin of my father's was married to radio personality Jack Spector. My favorite story about him: one Yom Kippur, a listener phoned up Jack on the air and asked, "Jack, what are you doing working on Yom Kippur"? Jack responded "I'm not live, I'm on tape!") And one memory of radio news that remains with me from the mid-80s was a dramatic moment from Imus in the morning, when WNBC radio's traffic reporter Jane Dornacker was killed in a helicopter crash.

But like you, Nate, I also have some fond memories of network TV news. Throughout the '70s and '80s, my parents were dedicated viewers of John Roland's broadcasts on WNEW-Channel 5 ("It's 10pm. Do you know where your children are?"). Forever burned upon my brain is a grizzly expose piece (I think it was on a NYC mental institution) where a Channel 5 reporter and cameraman entered a room, and an emaciated naked guy was sitting on the floor, and fecal matter was spread ALL over the walls like paint. How's that for a vivid memory!

But for sports, mom and dad would tune in to WNBC to watch their former Lincoln High School classmate, Marv Albert (Lincoln H.S. was a goldmine for rockin' Jewish talent, such as Neil Sedaka, Carol King, and Neil Diamond, and not to mention both of my parents... neither of whom can carry a tune in a handbasket).

Then at 11:00, it was reruns of M*A*S*H*, and Johnny Carson at 11:30. Those were the days....

Nate said...

I remember Jack Spector... he used to end every broadcast with "Look out street.... here I come!" I didnt know he was a relative..

I was more of an 11 o'clock news guy.... and I think my loyalty to Channel 2 started to wane as Michele Marsh started getting older. Boy was she a hottie in her day. Homina Homina!

One correction though... Jane Dornacker was killed during Joey Reynolds show on 10-22-86. This was actually mentioned in a blog from early January.

I saw Imus yesterday on Larry King with his wife Deirdre. She is quite an interesting character... (if you saw the show, you will know what I mean...)

Also.. it is great to hear from Danger Spouse again! Keep up those butt kicking traffic reports...

Still pumping said...

One correction though... Jane Dornacker was killed during Joey Reynolds show on 10-22-86. This was actually mentioned in a blog from early January.

No kidding? I suppose I should turn to "Nate's World of Words" more often for my daily dose of trivial gab! (*shameless plug*)

Titus Family said...

Wow, I haven't had a chance to read your blog in a while. How are you guys doing? I don't get much TV time these days which is sad because we just installed a beautiful 50" HDTV plasma TV on the wall above our fireplace. Want to come out here an help us break it in?? Sadly, I have never even seen Desperate Housewives or Gray's Anatomy (although I do remember Bill Beutel, now I very feel old). I think you guys need to come out to California and help us figure out which shows are worth watching :)

Anonymous said...

Hey Nate: I'm surpised that you haven't defended our former colleague, Rick Forest (known by another name to us). Or did the two of you have a falling out?

Nate said...

Defend Rick Forest? That dirty rotten scoundrel? Our colleague?? Could this be a posting from a former co-worker from my radio days? Wink Wink.. click on the link from Dangerspouse's comment ripping into Mr. Forest and it will answer some of your questions my young Jedi trainee.