Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Top 14 Game Show Hosts of All Time

Last month GSN celebrated its 12th birthday.. And as it approaches its Bar Mitzvah.. it continues to try to find its identity.. For the last year or so, it has distanced itself from reality shows and gone back to its original format of the good ol’ game shows…. The network has also started to air “documentaries” E/VH1 style.. covering topics such as Match Game.. Chuck Barris.. and the guy who “cheated” on Press Your Luck by figuring out the pattern on the electronic board so he would avoid the dreaded Whammy. Recently as part of their Sunday Night documentary series, GSN ran a special about its list of the Top 10 Game Show Hosts of All Time.. However, as you can see by my Top 14 List.. the GSN special may have been a bit of a clunker, Their List, while not as exciting as the one on the 24-beating-Heroes.. goes as follows:

1. Bob Barker; 2. Gene Rayburn; 3. Alex Trebek; 4. Monty Hall; 5. Richard Dawson; 6. Regis; 7. Bill Cullen; 8. Chuck Woolery; 9.Pat Sajak; 10. Bob Eubanks.

However, my Top 14 is not just 4 names pasted on to the bottom of their Top 10 list although that would have been a lot easier to write. When all was said and done, I totally dropped 1 host and kept 2 others on the list although I label them as list “bottom feeders“ . I agreed with 4 of their picks.. I guess that’s not that bad,.. But the rest of their rankings are pretty far out in left field.. just like Cliff Floyd in Wrigley Field…. Also feel free to check out the archives from last February to see my list of the Top 14 Game Shows. Here we go with my Hosts list.

THE HOST WHO SHOULDN’T BE ON THE GSN LIST - Regis - Yeah, his hosting of Millionaire boosted it to No. 8 on last February’s Top 14 Game Show list.. but as you will see by the other hosts who inhabit my list, they have almost all accumulated a large body of work as a host. Aside from a few forgettable clunkers in the 70s.. Reege really only hosted this program. Granted the show was a ratings phenomenon that has since disappeared from the network airwaves, but it still lives on in syndication with Meredith Viera and has inspired 1 vs. 100 which has players competing against other contestants as they climb up the money ladder. I predict.. And remember that a year ago I predicted Dave Price would host The Price is Right… I predict that with some fine tuning, 1 vs. 100 actually has the potential to become more successful than Millionaire.

HONORABLE MENTION Here is my disclaimer.. Due to my “youth“, my memory goes only as far back as the mid 70s… so a lot of hosts in the early days of TV get short shrift on my list although 3 slots on this list go to hosts from “The Early Days” whose careers went beyond the 50s and 60s.. Groucho Marx was a legend and his You Bet Your Life deserves an honorable mention. I should put him at No. 14, but my pick there is a person who has made the top of everyone else’s list but just barely makes mine due to the fact that I didn’t like his show.

Bottom Feeder 1 - #14 - Monty Hall - A nice Jewish boy from Canada.. Why was this show so popular? People got dressed in stupid costumes for the show that popularized the term “Do you want what is behind Curtain No. 1?”. Oddly enough Deal or No Deal is sorta like LMAD because we find contestants swept up in the heat of the moment and egged on by a host and a wacky studio audience to make dopey odds defying choices… Maybe that is why DoND is such a hit,.. because the players on that show don’t understand statistics and take risks that really are stupid gambles. Chuck Woolery also used to tempt Greed contestants with a little cash if they would “quit while they were ahead” in that odd game.. but he wasn’t quite the salesman like Monty.

Bottom Feeder 2 - #13 - Pat Sajak - Why is this show So Popular Part II?? I don’t get it.. It’s just Hangman… yet the show continues to bring in huge ratings.. It airs in most markets right after Jeopardy, even though it doesn’t appear that any Jeopardy fans actually watch WOF. You gotta give Sajak credit for longevity.. He took over the original NBC version of the show after Chuck Woolery left in the early 80s. Back in the day when there were network game shows, other hosts unsuccessfully tried to host the now defunct network version such as Bob Goen and former NFL player Rolf Bernirschke, but nobody has achieved the popularity and longevity of Sajak.

12. Jim Lange - All those dating shows owe a debt of gratitude to The Dating Game and although a lot of people credit Chuck Barris for its success.. Lange deserves some credit for presiding over the festivities with such a straight face.. just like Sajak deserves credit for WOF’s long run. Unlike Sajak, Lange also hosted a few other shows over the years such as Name That Tune and Million Dollar Chance of a Lifetime.. But it was his presiding over the sparks that ignited many a love affair that gets him on the list at No. 12.

11- Peter Tomarken - Press Your Luck seemed like a complicated show to host since it moved so fast.. but Tomarken was able to keep the pace moving and the excitement level quite high.. Was anything more nerve wracking than avoiding a whammy on a passed spin?. When a contestant would land on a “prize”, Tomarken would need to quickly announce the players prize money total to keep up the pace and excitement…. Back in the old days on WOF, Sajak and Woolery also quickly calculated balances when contestants used to pick out prizes after they would win a round.. I liked The Family Guy episode where Peter Griffin goes on the old WOF to pick his prizes…..… "Uh… can I have the guy whose face is in the circle?"

10 Bob Eubanks - Like Lange, he hosted a legendary show in the Barris Empire.. plus added quite a few others to his resume such as Card Sharks. His hosting of The Newlywed Game spanned so many generations that the younger set knows him from the infamous “In the Butt Bob” episode.. an incident that took place so long ago in a more “innocent” time that at the time Eubanks didn’t even realize what the contestant was talking about.

9. Richard Dawson - Mainly known for Family Feud, he did a few shows before that such as Masquerade Party… Ol’ Dickie Dawson rode his post Hogan’s Heroes Match Game run into his own show when they decided to spin off a show out of the Audience Match. Dawson ended up with a lengthy career kissing hot babes.. and old ladies too. He also was notorious for having a huge ego and ticked a lot of people off during his later years as a Match Game regular. In 1987 he displayed some incredible acting talents when he played Damon Killian in “The Running Man”… the greatest acting performance ever by a game show host or possibly anyone for that matter! Dawson returned to The Feud in 1994 after the late Ray Combs wrapped up his hosting stint.. But this version of Dawson was not the wild kisser from the 70s and 80s.. but instead was much older and spent a lot of time chatting about his young daughter whose mom had been a contestant on the original FF!

8. Chuck Woolery - Survived his Wally Pipp esque run on WOF by hosting among others Love Connection, Greed, 2 NBC versions of Scrabble and GSN’s apparent sole hit - Lingo. He also tried hosting a talk show which bombed like Sajaks. Woolery is now 65 and trademarked his “2 and 2” throw to a commercial break that would last 2 minutes and 2 seconds. Good thing he trademarked that phrase before the pornographers got a hold of it!

7. Bill Cullen - Now we get to the real legends…Cullen was a relic from the good ol’ days.. He is one of three hosts on this list who held court during that era of the 50s 60s and 70s,…Since I can only remember back to the mid 70s, Cullen gets a spot even though I only witnessed the tail end of his career. Back then, it seemed like networks would create a game show concept, and then hire Bill Cullen or a Bill Cullen wannabe as a host.. He hosted the original Price is Right in the 60s which had an interesting multi round bidding format that actually is better than the one used on the Barker version. Cullen also had a leg problem that caused him to limp so producers would shoot the programs in such a way so Cullen would never have to walk on camera..

6. Dick Clark -Its absolutely incredible, but 3 of my top 6 were left off the GSN list!. Like Tomarken, America’s Oldest Teenager gets points for being smooooth, presiding over The Pyramid during its lengthy run. He also knew how to build the excitement as contestants went to the winners circle and had to climb the Pyramid while those loud nerve wracking seconds ticked off… His presence was greatly missed when remakes with John Davidson and Donny Osmond fell short of the quality that Dick brought to the show. Its too bad that some of the very young whippersnappers only know Clark from his post stroke appearances on ABC’s New Years Eve show since he was one of the best hosts to grace a stage.

5. Allen Ludden - Graphite - Pencil! Aristophanes - Ridiculous! Mr. Betty White cracks the list for the same reason as Cullen… Ludden presided over Password and was a legend from back in the early days of game shows stretching into the late 70s and early 80s. He was excellent as the host of PW… a show that nobody has remade in some 20 something years for some bizarre reason.. Fans of Diner will also recall he hosted a Jeopardy like show called GE College Bowl. Ludden is another host who was inexplicably left off the GSN list. In 2001 TV Guide named him the Best Game Show Host of All Time.. At least that’s what Wikipedia says and as far as I know, Microsoft didn’t hire anyone to verify that story.

4. Alex Trebek - Not only for his excellent long run on Jeopardy.. but he had a whole career before that as a big mustached bushy haired host of shows from the 70s and 80s such as High Rollers, Battlestars, Classic Concentration and To Tell The Truth. At one point, Trebek hosted 3 different shows at the same time that aired back to back. He could have just gotten up at the end of one show and strolled over to the set for the next show. Younger fans who have never seen the other shows might find him a bit arrogant as the Jeopardy host with his oh so proper pronunciations, but thanks to You Tube, you can see that he was once an ordinary Joe as evidenced by the other less snooty shows he used to host.

3. Peter Marshall - I don’t know what GSN was thinking.. but its inexcusable that he wasn’t on the list… he was the anti-Trebek and was never afraid to mispronounce something as you can see from this clip. After the amusing Paul Lynde wisecrack… check out the 2nd question he asks Wally Cox..

Marshall played the straight man to his panel, and kept the show running for 17 years filled with wacky wisecracks and contestants who forgot how to play Tic Tac Toe. If a player looking for a block or a win picked the wrong square.. Marshall would kindly point out.. “Well I would have picked George Gobel… but this might work out for you“…..Marshall maintained control over some truly hysterical panelists and big names… The remakes hosted by John Davidson and Tom Bergeron didn’t quite get the quality panelists like the original and even though both of those hosts did admirable jobs in their versions.. neither Davidson nor Bergeron were anywhere near as good at the job as Marshall. After HS, he actually hosted some other shows such as All Star Blitz.. and Yahtzee which I recently saw on You Tube, and definitely wasn’t one of Peter‘s finest shows.

2. Gene Rayburn - Hosted the best show ever.. it ran about 9 years.. and Gene took a little bit of Marshall with him by playing straight man to his panelists… Gene was in a tough spot because producers wanted a “serious” show... but Gene admitted in many interviews that the format was weak and needed wisenheimers like Brett Somers and Charles Nelson Reilly to liven things up. After taking a month of so to find its footing, the show took off and maintained an incredible pace for about 9 years. Subsequent remakes without Gene weren’t as good.. . The panelists were lacking.. But those shows also lacked a ringmaster to keep things under.. or out of control. Even though he did a great job.. Gene finishes a very distant 2nd to the obviously unanimous number one choice!

1. Bob Barker - The Legend..

He is Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky and Johnny Carson rolled into one! 50 years on daily Television.. 35 on The Price is Right.. The ONLY network daytime game show.. And he did the ol' Hoochie McScoochie with Dian Parkinson! Barker’s popularity spans the little old ladies who are younger than him all the way to the hot looking college girls that the lingering camera sometimes catch Bob checking out.

Most incredibly he is the host of THE ONLY network game show.. The last time a network aired a game show other than TPIR was in the early 1990s… And these daytime audiences are an odd bunch who are absolute creatures of habit based on the lack of changes in daytime network schedules.… Despite its aging audience being replaced by young mommies.. nothing ever changes on the network daytime lineups! Now its only soap operas and one game show.. And with NBC canceling Passions… only one current daytime show has premiered since The Young and the Restless came on the air in the early 1970s! (The Bold and the Beautiful) Suffice it to say.. The daytime audience is a tough nut to crack and Barker has turned a fun little game into a huge million dollar industry. Dave Price or whoever replaces him has huge shoes to fill… but hey.. If Jay Leno still gets ratings 15 years after replacing Johnny Carson.. I guess anything is possible!

And even though Bob is signing off later this year… he could still be a big moneymaker… hes made a ton o’ cash for CBS over the years. If GSN can somehow secure the rerun rights to the old TPIR episodes.. which they haven’t been allowed to show for several years… it could be a ratings bonanza after Bob signs off later this year….

Now time for the Clip of the Week.. Tom Kennedy is a likeable fellow, but did not make the list.. But this clip from Password Plus shows how hard it was for Kennedy while he was filling in for Allen Ludden. Keep an eye out as Dick Martin tries to get a little sneaky with his clues, and how Tom has no control over the show. Also quite amusing is the poor woman who doesn’t know the word that Betty White gives as a clue!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

How Does a Cixelsyd Spell Radar? - A Movie Club Column

Wow…Has this past week been wild and crazy or what???. 4 hours of the Gong Showesque American Idol tryouts on Fox featuring Josh the tearful rocker’s renditions of Dancing Queen and Copacabana, plus Jonathan singing God Bless American on the second night….4 nail biting football games.. And of course 4 excruciatingly stressful hours of 24! Can you top that? The only Manning to survive the weekend was Peyton after Jack Bauer shockingly gunned down Curtis!! Between Saturday Nights football game and the back to back nights of 24 and then American Idol, Fox has been getting monster ratings.

As for 24 - holy bananas! They go after the wrong terrorist and then a nuclear war and poor Curtis.. I don’t even know what to make of that! And Kumar of H and K Go to White Castle fame is a terrorist and gets killed off on Monday’s 24 and then on Tuesdays Law and Order SVU also! (And is it me or didn’t the actor who played “Kumar’s” dad on L and O bear an uncanny resemblance to Christopher Meloni?) Unfortunately, I missed the 1st 90 minutes of the 24 premiere so I figured I’d go to to watch it. No dice, they didn’t post it. Then I decided to go to iTunes and watch it there. I plunked down my 1.99 and slowly waited for it to download into my 4 year old virtually obsolete eMachines Computer. Finally, showtime! I watched the first episode.. But then I started to realize that my old comp has a problem synching the audio and video, and due to skipped video frames the tracks were not quite matching up. I think I’m gonna buy a Japanese movie on iTunes to see if the lips actually stop moving when the dialogue stops. Finally, it was Blockbuster to the rescue! Fox released a dvd of the 1st 4 hours, this week, and luckily for me I was able to rent the last copy so now I can finally catch up on what I missed… plus the first segment of next weeks episode.. (Nope, my lips are sealed.. You gotta wait till Monday.)

In honor of Jack Bauer’s alter ego Kiefer Sutherland , I decided it was time to move from The Godfather trilogy (with Robert Duvall) to the next part of the movie club reviews by watching the 1st of our four Robert Altman films - M*A*S*H starring his father Donald Sutherland….with Robert Duvall. Just to recap the weekend… I went from Don Corleone movies to watching Donald Sutherland, heard Don Criqui’s radio broadcast of the Chicago-Seattle game and watched a young afro-ed bearded Donny Deutsch win 5000 bucks on a 26 year old Match Game rerun that aired Sunday morning on GSN. I also got a kick out of how the late Debralee Scott was so blatantly hitting on Deutsch, yet he continuously ignored her.

Before the MASH review…. Here is my disclaimer - I never really liked the show… I rarely watched it,… I did see the last episode and maybe saw one episode since then… the one with George Wendt. I am familiar with the characters such as Hawkeye, Trapper John (I actually liked the Trapper John MD show that aired Sunday Nights at 10 on CBS), the future seeing Radar, and Hot Lips Houlihan. Radar is the only regular character to be played by the same actor in both the movie and TV show. Gary Burghoff continued the role and from what I have read got his acting and comedy training from last weekends birthday boy Charles Nelson Reilly.

Even though I didn’t like the show.. I decided to give the film a fair shot. The movie starts out just like the TV show… with footage of a medical helicopter landing and the song “Suicide is Painless”, except in the movie, you actually hear the words to the song and I must admit.. despite the morbid title, it is quite a catchy tune. It was written by Altman’s son and legend has it he made more money on royalties than his dad made for directing the film. I was actually hoping I would get to hear it again in the closing credits…however Altman came up with a different yet brilliant way to integrate the credits into the movie.

The song does reappear during the movie when Painless the Quagmire-esque Casanova dentist (John Schuck pre- MacMillan and Wife) announces that he wants to commit suicide because his sudden impotence leads him to believe he is gay.. (Radar must have told him that Rock Hudson might try hitting on him later in the Macmillan portion of his career). Hawkeye and Trapper John hold a farewell dinner for Painless, modeled right out of the infamous “Last Supper” with Jesus. As Painless is given a “suicide pill” and lays down in a coffin, a “disciple” starts to sing the tune. As it turns out Painless just falls asleep, but thanks to a very amusing twist involving JoAnn Pflug’s character (who married Chuck Woolery 2 years later) he wakes up the next morning, and all is well with the world.

The movie which really has no plot, tells the stories of Hawkeye Pierce played by Sutherland who at the time was younger than Kiefer is on 24, and his time with the MASH unit in Korea.. which is only identified in the opening credits as taking place there… Altman wanted the story to take place in Vietnam, which was quite the controversial war at that time, but the producers insisted that it be identified as Korea.. I’m surprised we don’t have a remake taking place in Iraq. The story is broken up into a few distinct chapters.. mainly the arrival of Hot Lips Houlihan, and her subsequent harassment, the Painless crisis and a football game between our boys and another unit that starts out as a friendly bet when a General comes to the 4077 on the premise of investigating the complaints filed by the straight laced Houlihan. This football game predates the similar theme in The Longest Yard which was directed by the similarly named Robert Aldrich.

Even though there is no main plot to this movie, the mini plots are filled with humor and in my opinion a lot more watchable than the TV show. The pure nonchalance towards Painless and his desire to off himself is very amusing.. if you like dry humor. The storyline involving Hot Lips is quite hysterical especially involving scenes where she decides to get intimate with Burns while the rest of the gang “listens” in.. That type of crazy voyeurism is still going on in movies today… such as the live web hook up scene in “American Pie“. But this appears to be where it all started. Burghoff is also quite amusing as Radar who thanks to his ability to predict things repeats his orders seconds before his superior says them.. It’s a little strange to listen to at first, but Burghoff has excellent comedic timing. The football game wasn’t all that great but there were some very funny moments including the first apparent mainstream movie use of the F word (not firetruck) by Fearless. The political incorrectness is quite apparent.. (this was right around the time Archie Bunker was created) as the expected football team ringer is referred to as a Negro and carries the nickname Spear Chucker. Maybe they won’t be able to remake this movie now that I think of it.

Speaking of Political Correctness, now I see there is more hullaballoo because a guy on Grey’s Anatomy called a castmate by a “slur” for a gay man. Of course if the gay guy called the other guy an “n” word,. All hell would break loose too. Yet why is it that these words are slurs and Donald Trump can call Rosie O’Donnell fat, and then threaten her with a lawsuit if she says something about him?

The dvd offers some very interesting insights to how the movie was made and ended up so successful.. The studio was producing 2 other very expensive war movies at the same time so they weren’t paying too much attention to what was going on at the MASH shooting. Altman basically ripped up the Ring Lardner screenplay and told the actors to wing it. Lardner won the only Oscar for the movie by the way.. But some of the scenes such as Father Mulcahy blessing a Jeep were just made up on the spot. Another fact was that Altman realized that he needed something to keep the film moving along since there was really no plot to speak of. That’s how the wisecracks on the PA system worked their way into the movie… sort of as an afterthought.. But they are quite amusing.. (one is a verbatim reading of a studio memo banning pics of pin up women at people’s work stations!).

Because of the film’s relatively low budget, they hired a bunch of no name actors to co star with the established stars Sutherland and Elliott Gould.. Many of the actors were making their film debut, and luckily this turned out to be an All Star cast.. kind of like the no names in Diner who all became big names. Some of the actors being “introduced” in the movie were Pflug, Shuck and Bud Cort… shortly before his appearance in the incredibly bizarre “Harold and Maude”. Rene Auberjonois who played Father Mulcahy is now on Boston Legal… One other very very creepy coincidence… the actors who played Colonel Blake… Roger Bowen in the movie and the very amusing McLean Stevenson from the TV show, died on consecutive days in February of 1996.

Keep in mind how important it is to have a good support staff for the heroes on the battle front. While the boys are out there on the battle fields its always very important to have a good crew to provide meals and clothing and other important things needed in day to day life in a battle. Of course, having a good medical crew and talented nurses is important and is driven home in this movie… especially when Trapper John gets into a fight with Frank Burns after he was nasty to Bud Cort‘s character… he threw a nice punch his way and poor Burns ended up falling into ….. a big stack of Tampax boxes… an important product when you have a hospital staffed with young nurses!! I can only imagine the commercials if Tampax had hired Sally Kellerman or Loretta Swit as their spokeswoman instead of Brenda Vaccaro!!

Overall I must admit I really liked this movie… and even though there is no plot to speak of.. Altman successfully weaves together all the sub plots into a very entertaining film. On a scale of 1 to 4 bladders meaning how less likely you would be to leave in the middle to go to the bathroom… MASH gets 3 bladders. Next up in the Altman 4 pack - Nashville… assuming I can find it somewhere!

Now Time for The Clip of the Week:

Since New Years.. 4 friends of ours have had babies! In honor of that… check out this old Family Feud clip showing Richard Dawson totally cracking up after an incredibly odd answer to a question relating to what month a pregnant woman starts to show…

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Will 2007 Be The Year of The Giant?

Now that we are about a week and a half into the new year….here are some things in the news during the early part of the year that may or may not be trends of what will be relevant for 2007.... It makes me wonder if this will be the year of the… (yo ho ho) Giant.

1. The Giant Ego - of Donald Trump

Even though Newsday says its a done deal that Dave Price will take over as host of The Price is Right, .. What’s all this hullaballoo about Rosie O'Donnell possibly taking over? Assuming this is not all one big publicity stunt,. she apparently got quite angry with Barbara Walters when Donald Trump told numerous interviewers that Babs cant stand her! Walters has denied it.. and now Trump says Walters is lying. Now who are you gonna believe.. a legendary journalist like Walters, or Trump who had to dosie do around all his creditors when they came knocking on his door demanding repayment on their loans when his business was tanking in the 90s? And Ivana must be smart too,... because this daughter of hers Ivanka comes off as being very bright on what little I saw of Apprentice... Heck they fired a guy because he wanted to interrupt a chat with The Donald because he had to take a pish. Don’t you think Donald would stop taping if one hair on that wacky pompadour was out of place during his ego maniacal boardroom firing sessions?

Now lets say Rosie and Barbara really are feuding? Wouldn’t it be a great ratings grabber for CBS if Rosie leaves The View and heads over to its 11 o’clock competitor The Price Is Right? I just hope all 3 are really all in it together as a publicity stunt, because if it isn’t… I think Donald Trump is mentally ill when he keeps saying all these nasty fat comments about Rosie and then threatens to sue her when she criticizes him.. As Barbara Walters would say.. “What a Poor Pathetic Man!”

2. The Giant Football Team -

Both Giants and Jets never lost playoff games on the same day before, and it was only the 2nd time that they both appeared in playoff games on the same day.. (The Giants won and the Jets lost the last time this happened).. Nonetheless, the Jets fans are thrilled with the season, while the Giants fans were calling for Coach Coughlin’s head, although the team will allow him back for next season. Granted, the Jets were vastly improved this season, but if you take a look at the schedule they played (based on their hideous performance in 2005).. it was quite soft.

On the other hand, The Giants played a brutal schedule especially during the early part of the season. Yet they got off to a 6-2 start that included big comebacks against The Eagles and The Falcons. However, everyone seems to have forgotten since they fizzled down the stretch to finish 8-8 (including a tough game against the division rival Redskins who wanted nothing more than to knock NY out of the playoffs). Now all these Giants/Eli Manning critics who are soooo eager to point out the poor 2nd half during the soft part of the schedule claim that the latter part of the season is most important.. If that’s the case, why don’t they give Eli credit for his late TD drive in the 4th quarter Sunday during a drive that included a 1st and 30? After tying the game at 20, the Giants defense couldn’t keep the Eagles from eating the clock and kicking a game winning field goal as time expired. Yet for some reason, my fellow Giant fans wants to blame the QB! Now the Ledger says that Bill Parcells was turned down when he made overtures to take over the vacant GM position. I guess they don’t love the Tuna.

3. The Giant Sandwich.

The Giant brass may not love the tuna.. but I do.. The sub that is…

My love affair with the sub goes back to my childhood. When I was a little pisher, the first time I was allowed to cross busy Raritan Road coincided with the Grand Opening of a nearby sub shop. I crossed at the Roselle Shopping Center where the Consumers Distributing store used to be... an oddball store where people paged through catalogs and filled out forms that they then brought to the front of the store.. kind of the model for the shopping carts on internet websites. From there I strolled past the old closed Pantry Pride, passed Sobin’s drugstore and waved at Mario and Angelo through the window while they were dolinig out haircuts at the Barber Shop. From there I jogged past the City Federal Savings Bank, past the gift shop and the cleaners and the mysterious tavern that never seemed to have women going in.. (I was a little pisher just crossing a street.. how did I know it was a gay bar?).

As I turned the corner to Wood Avenue.. there it was... a sub shop holding a Grand Opening.. .(Or to paraphrase Adam Sandler.. was it a hoagie/grinder/sloppy joe?) I stepped up to the counter, standing at attention as if I was ordering a minestrone from The Soup Nazi and ordered my first tuna sub.. a limited menu for me because due to my revisionist Kosher observance, I wouldn’t eat meat outside the home. (This is not a forum to debate if tuna at a sub place is kosher or not.. so hold your comments). After ordering my sub. I scampered home to watch Password at 12 noon... and of course I looked both ways before I crossed Raritan Road.

After that initial introduction the sub... it carried over with the arrival of Subway franchises. And they're the best.. all the stores look the same. they are pretty clean... and I really miss the round sandwiches they used to sell in the early 1990s.. Unfortunately, the only sub I have really ever had has been tuna.. but boy is it yummy. Subway became comfort food headquarters when we had a house in Bradley Beach in the summer of 1990. After a night of partying and getting shot down by drunk babes, me and my homies would head over to Subway for a late night sub that would get chowed down on our little summer home's porch... . Our ability to wolf down the tuna subs in virtually one bite created the phrase... "That sub never had a chance...". When I moved to Woodbridge ten years ago, the subway on St. George Avenue in Rahway at the Old Miller Pontiac location was my sub headquarters.. especially when they used to have the West Coast video store right next door. Now they even have a drive through Subway on Stelton Road in Piscataway! Apparently its the only one in the USA.

Fast forward to last weekend. Trophy Wife and I took a trip to Flatbush for a family event, (I'd link to the website, but I don’t think these relatives want to be associated with a shaygitz tuna sub eating goofball like myself) and afterwards we were kind of hungry. We decided to see if there was a pizza place to satisfy our late night munchies because who the heck knows what is gonna be open at midnight on a Saturday Night. And there we saw it on Avenue J!.. A brand new Subway... And it’s kosher!! I almost fell out of my car I was so thrilled.. and for a moment I thought I had died and gone to heaven!

We got out of the car, looked both ways, and crossed the street… following the light to the store.. and there it was.... Kosher Subs at a Subway Franchise! I spoke to the guy in charge there and he told me that they were recently awarded the franchise and had just opened the store right after New Years! Welcome to 2007, and my early nominee for Time Magazine Person of the year.. the Kosher Subway franchisee!!... Of course, they can't offer a lot of the stuff on the regular Subway menu... but we did manage to order a half a chicken teriyaki and a half a pastrami beef fry.. What do you think, I’m gonna order tuna after eating nothing but tuna for the last 30 years??

The subs are awesome, and now I have a new place to go when I’m in Brooklyn! This is only the 2nd kosher subway in the USA.. . the only other one is in Cleveland at a Jewish Community Center! The Brooklyn one also apparently has to show the standard menu, but the non kosher items are left blank in the price column, and taped over since they are not sold at that location. Nonetheless, they still have a pretty decent variety of choices there.

By the way there is a very bizarre parallel between my tuna sub Roselle to Rahway odyssey and a notorious criminal from the 50s and 60s. I guess we can go from sub to unsub.... You may have heard the story of Robert Zarinsky... one of the more fascinating criminal stories to come out of New Jersey. He had accumulated a pretty large bank account because his mom's will left him a lot of money while his sister ended up with very little. Several years ago, while he was still serving time in prison for killing a teenage girl in the 1960s, his sister told police that he had also killed a cop in the late 1950s. It turns out the sister had been caught red handed stealing about 100k from her imprisoned brother's hefty bank account and “made a deal” that if they dropped the charges against her, she would testify against him because he was the culprit in an unsolved cop killing back in the late 50s.

Ultimately, 40 years later Zarinsky went on trial for the cop killing.. but he was acquitted. Some jurors felt he did it, but didn’t feel prosecutors proved their case. The officer's widow then filed a civil suit against him, sort of like the Goldman family filed against OJ Simpson… Zarinsky had trouble finding a lawyer and ended up representing himself at that trial and lost the case.. As a result of losing the case, he had to fork over all of his remaining money to the cop's widow. But there's more.. another court overturned the civil case, but the widow said all of the money was gone. Just this past year a court ruled that the widow would not have to repay the money back to Zarinsky... Talk about having your money mismanaged.. Thanks to his sister he went from being wealthy to flat broke… even though he wasn’t convicted in the cop killing. Incidentally, the sister told police she realized he killed the missing teenage girl when he failed to return to pick her up from a pre family wedding beauty salon appointment the same day the girl disappeared after working at Sobins drug store.. Both the salon and drug store were in the,.... Roselle Shopping Center.. and the cop was killed at the Old Miller Pontiac showroom.... which is now... Subway! It later turned out the sister was wrong about that accusation… the girl had disappeared 2 days before the infamous beauty parlor appointment.

As for the original Sub Shop… I haven’t been in Roselle in awhile, but as far as I know the sub shop is still there, along with the Barber shop... The gay bar is long closed, but late one night in the early 90s, I accidentally locked myself out of the house, and had to go to the payphone across from the gay bar to wake my mom at 1 am to open the front door for me... As I departed the phone, a gentleman in his car drove up and asked me directions to the Parkway, and then after telling him he just had to go straight.. (no pun intended) I walked back home.. As I cut through the parking lot of the Consumers (now the Sears) the aforementioned gentleman drove up again and asked me if I had just left his favorite bar.. I then realized that this guy was not looking for the parkway.. he was looking for studly Nate.. “No, I was not at the bar, sir” I replied.. and kept walking.. The little horndog got a bit belligerent.. C'mon... I saw you there.. "No" I replied... "I was NOT there… I used the payphone at the Gulf Station across the street because I got locked out of my WIFES PARENTS house!"

I then hurriedly covered my Charles Nelson Reilly t shirt and ran home..

Now time for this The Clip of the Week…

This week features 2 different clips with the legendary William Shatner from a 70s appearance on The $20,000 Pyramid. Here is Part I

And here is Part II of Shatner Follies… He's nuttier than Donald Trump...

Friday, January 05, 2007

Thoughts For 2007 About Game Shows, Walmart and Panici

Happy 2007 everybody and welcome to another year of fun and games here at NWOW!

It didn’t take long for me to make a buffoon of myself this year!.. I was at a New Years Party Sunday Night…. watching Dick Clark, and in an attempt to be hip pointed out the musical talent with comments such as… “Which one of those guys is Panici?”. and paraphrasing A Christmas Story - “Panici.. It Must Be Italian!” At that point one of the party guests attempted to avoid any further embarrassment by bellowing out… “Hey Nate.. I think you misread the graphics… the group is actually called Panic! At the Disco.. Dumbass.. Not panici…It’s an exclamation point… not an I!

Good to get the New Year off to such a great start!

Last week we presented Pumpstradamus and his annual predictions.. However, THE best prediction last year here at NWOW came by me early in the year when I called it that Dave Price would take over as host as “The Price Is Right”. Its not official yet.. but those in the know say an announcement could be forthcoming shortly.

So without much further ado… here are 3 Game Show Predictions for the New Year…

1. The long early morning hours at “The Today Show” will take its toll on Meredith Viera, and she will step down as host of Millionaire and be replaced by - Regis

2. I thought Rosie would be a good choice for Millionaire too, but her little tiff with that nut Donald Trump and Trump’s obsession with his ratings superiority over similar Apprentice reality shows got me thinking… Rosie will host her own reality show….. And the show will get higher ratings than Donald Trump’s Apprentice!

3. And here is a real longshot… A new name will become part of a game show - Michael Airington who does an incredibly uncanny impression of Paul Lynde good enough that he does a one man Paul Lynde show.. - hey since you can't have the real one.. why not this guy? Maybe he’ll hook up with the new Spanish version - The Mexico City Squares.

There are other things that I see happening in 2007...

New Years Weekend was probably the best local football weekend in recent memory… Rutgers won its first bowl and both The Giants and Jets made the playoffs. The only disturbing aspect of the Giant win was when a buddy who was watching the game with me informed me that he had just bought himself a new TV at ugh.. Walmart. I’ll get to that in just a minute.

You don’t have to be a psychic to realize that 2 events are going to cause headaches not only in 2007 but for years to come. The first is the Supreme Court's puzzling decision to allow Eminent Domain and the 2nd is Former President Clinton's signing of an import export treaty with China that seems to have backfired.

When it comes to developers - the old saying now takes on a new meaning.. If you cant beat 'em.. beat 'em harder. I see that Edison mayor Jun Choi will mark his one year anniversary in office with a recall petition launched by a developer who is also an attorney! Politicians are growing increasingly tired of developers swallowing up innocent people's homes through eminent domain only to see developers get incredibly rich. The politicians do get political donations to help win elections - but then they have to deal with the headaches caused by these eminent domain developers.

This lawyer/developer is an interesting character by the way.. He once sued a law school that booted out his client… saying that the school knew, or should have known in advance that his client was not smart enough to make it through the difficult curriculum! Reminds me of the old joke.. What do you call the guy who finishes last in his graduating class at Med School? - Doctor!

This lawyer/developer is using a different tactic. If a Mayor like Choi doesn’t like what the developer wants to do - just smack him in the head with a recall petition.. that is until the people vote into office a person who will allow the developer to get what he wants. Choi has already shown some guts by fighting a proposal to open yet another Walmart.. this time in Edison.. just a 10 minute drive from the hideous one that is currently in Piscataway.

Walmart is another one that grinds my gears. ..I was bored the other day and actually accidentally watched PBS.. They had a documentary on about Walmart.. so I figured .. hey this should be pretty interesting.. especially if its critical of this horrific monstrosity of a store..

After watching the very entertaining documentary… here is my idea.. just like food products have nutritional information.. I think all Wal Mart products should have manufacturing information posted on the outside of each box... And that information should state the following - where the product was manufactured.. and the salaries of the workers who assembled the product. When Clinton signed his treaty with China.. did anyone realize that most of the stuff would be sent here and not much would be sent there?. According to this PBS show, the raw materials are exported to China, and cheap labor builds the stuff that graces the aisles of Wal-mart!

Lets say you have an American business... Coincidentally,..they used an American TV manufacturer as an example. And this is so ironic since my buddy got his TV at Walmart - Anyway, here is what happened to the American TV manufacturer… The price of his raw supplies suddenly shoot up.... and the American TV manufacturer told Wal Mart that he would have to raise his prices. Wal Mart then tells 'em tough noogies.... because they have connections with Asian exporters who will still do the same job at the original lower price. What does that do to American businesses? And what does that say about Wal Mart?

I have another idea.. besides including the information on each box.. I think that all the Wal Mart workers' name tags should include info about how much health coverage the mighty Wal Mart empire is providing for them. Then we can compare that poor harried cashier to the info on the big shot PR flack who smiled through the interview talking about what the Disney-esque Wonderful World of Walmart…

I betcha a lot of American companies would jump at the opportunity to manufacture such a label... and twice as many Asian companies would do the same job for half the price.

We’re done with the weekly football picks.. We finished at -13 (same record as Expert Picker Joel Magaraci in the Ledger) and Pumpstradamus was 10-6-1. This week we present a new gimmick for 2007 - The Video of the Week. This week in memory of President Ford.. Here is a clip from an old Channel 4 Newscast involving a seldom discussed news story involving former President Richard Nixon and his wife Pat….