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Your host: Billy Ingram

BITS AND PIECES
"A society in which it's easier to become famous for killing people than for doing something useful or constructive is one remarkable place in which to live." - Harry Shearer

DVD News: I teased you with the news of the upcoming DVD release of This Is Tom Jones. I got a pre-release screener and it is fantastic! An amazing collection of performances I'll tell you about in more detail later from the Tommy-era Who, The Moody Blues, Joe Cocker, Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and others. I made a comment about the difficulty in getting music rights for certain tunes and that it's a miracle a show like This Is Tom Jones could make it out on DVD at all.

Turns out one of the episodes in the set will have to be replaced at the last minute, causing the release date to be bumped up to June 25th. Because of music licensing issues, Crosby Still Nash & Young are out and Little Richard is in.

From the mailbag: "I thought you might be interested in seeing the Finnish version of Romper Room. I've posted about it on my blog: chawedrosin.wordpress.com/. You can find a clip from the show at the Finnish Radio and Television Archives website." Cheers, Lola Rogers

Hmmmm: Do you know where TVparty is most popular, per capita? It's the Philippines according to Alexa's Traffic Rankings. TVparty is the 6,566 most popular, that's out of - how many web Sites are out there, a billion or more? (In internet parlance being in the top 100,000 is golden, in the top 300,000 respectable. In the United States, TVparty is at 40,807.)

I'm not sure why TVparty is huge in the Philippines but that's really cool. I thought maybe due the military base there? But look where else the Site is big - we're at 18,713 in Macedonia and the 27,276 most popular destination in Uruguay. On the other hand, TVparty is apparently despised in China (663,488) and France (508,419). What does that tell you? In every other country the Site is in the top 300,00 including, surprisingly, Singapore (92,521), Peru (70,215) and India (71,096).

New Video: There are a few new video clips that were added to the site recently.

The closing to Pinky Lee's Gumby Show from 1955. This one's been posted before but now it's in a larger size. This is a really rare clip. The show was only saved because Michael Bitterman, who was celebrating his birthday on the show, got a copy of the film that day and preserved it for fifty years!

Sing Along With Mitch, 1961. A few minutes of the American Idol of the early-sixties. OK, that's a stretch - it was a sing along at home show where the words to the tunes were displayed at the bottom of the screen. The beginning of Karaoke in America.

From the seventies, the closing of the third episode of The Manhattan Transfer variety show from August of 1975. This was one of two series that filled in for the Cher show after her first season and it's a blast, a natural for DVD. Bob Marley and the Wailers were musical guests on this show. Thanks to A.J. for this clip.

Saturday, April 21, 2007 - 7:39am
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TV stars on ABC

Was this the biggest collection of celebrities ever assembled for one TV show? Dozens of super (and less than super) stars gathered to celebrate ABC's 25th Anniversary for a special that aired in 1978. See for yourself:

Quicktime / Real Player

As Toni Tennille twists the Rocky theme with new lyrics that extolled the network's virtues (like "Feelin' free is as easy as ABC") we see a pantheon of mighty luminaries that lit up the nights for ABC, from Lola Falana to Cesar Romero, Paul Lynde to Ricky Nelson. They gathered on the stage in an orgy of celebrity corporate goodwill, even John Wayne got in the spirit of things by singing along. And is that Billie Hayes (Witchiepoo) palling around with Chuck Connors?

Friday, April 20, 2007 - 1:09am
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ALEX TOTH BOOK

Wow. You could knock me over with a feather. A book that I (along with James Counts) produced - Dear John: The Alex Toth Doodle Book - was just nominated for an Eisner Award for Best Comics-Related Book. That's a very prestigious honor in the comic book / graphic novel field. I have to be honest, I'm a bit taken aback. Let me tell you the story of how this came to be.

In June of 2006, I agreed to take on a project that (I think) three others had supposedly started but never got very far with. My friend (from all the way back to Junior High) John Hitchcock had a huge collection of letters, postcards and sketches he'd received from Alex Toth, one of the comic and animation industry's towering talents. He and Alex had been friends for decades and often talked about compiling the sketches from those mailings into a book.

Jeff Parker, one of the comic industry's top talents, agreed to publish such a book under his Octopus Press imprint once it was print ready.

I told John I'd pull the book together if there was no one else available. To be honest I was really busy at that point and there was little potential money involved. John made it clear from the beginning that Alex would receive the lion's share of proceeds from the book (as it should be) and a small print run was assured.

If I was going to do it, my heart and soul would go into it and I knew how much time that would take. Editing, writing the back pages notes, scanning, cleaning up images, design, layout, selecting examples of Toth's past work and prepping everything for the printer - every facet of the project I would be responsible for. Still, I love to tackle unwieldy projects like this; to hopefully create an environment that will carry the reader along on a journey of some sort.

Basically, I was doing it for Alex Toth. He had such a huge influence on my life and work. John Hitchcock and I were reverent fans as youngsters and my admiration for his work never waned. I can still remember my first introduction to his work - Hot Wheels comics number one. After Hot Wheels number five I searched for anything with his signature.

I agreed to do the book but saw the project differently. I wanted it to be not a collection of sketches but a book of correspondence, with the potential to reach out to Toth fans and anyone else who might be interested in eavesdropping on an ongoing, 25 year conversation about art, aging, animation, professionalism, the good old days and whatever else was on the master artist's mind.

John wasn't so keen on that concept. It was supposed to be the 'Alex Toth Doodle Book' after all, a book of sketches. So I told him to wait and see what I came up with (my rule is always - if there's no money up front, I do it my way.) I told John if he hated it, I'd do the straight sketchbook, no problem. Fortunately he liked the result and suggested we also include some so-called director's commentaries that Alex had written for him over the years, a great addition. I asked John to write a piece on his meetings with the artist and Jeff Parker contributed a terrific essay that helped explain the Toth's appeal, tying everything together nicely.

The first set of preliminary proofs was shipped to Alex in December, almost exactly 6 months after I started the project.

Funny thing happened, though. While the proofs were en route to Alex, a post card arrived at John's comic book store. Alex was royally pissed off about the length of time the Doodle Book was taking; he was extolling John to do it already or forget it.

You see, from Alex's perspective, this was something that had been 'in the works' for almost 7 years; he had written the introduction in 2001. From my point of view, I said I'd be done in 6 months and was. (Obviously I understood Alex's perspective - and we just had to include that angry postcard as one of the last in the book. And he didn't object!)

Sadly, Alex was hospitalized when he received the first proofs but apparently liked what he saw. He offered suggestions that were incorporated into a revised, completed set of proofs which went out a few weeks later. He was on the mend at home when he approved the book for publication but not long after, before we could go to press, Alex passed away.

According to his correspondence with John, Alex was excited about this project and very anxious to see it printed and bound. I suspect it gave him something to look forward to at the end of his life. It's his book after all, 95% of it scribbled from his own hand. I merely tried to get out of the way and let his wisdom, his insight, his sometimes crusty personality and friendship he forged with John Hitchcock to shine through.

I was thrilled that James Counts jumped in near the end of the project as a designer and gave everything an extra zing, making sure all the levels and resolutions were right and providing the final documents that went out to the printers. Boy, did we fight about some of the design choices he made! But if it were not for James the book wouldn't look half as good as it does.

Chris Ferguson provided some much needed proofreading, he did an amazing job. We avoided some embarrassing gaffes thanks to him.

I still have no idea whether we succeeded in making this the book I envisioned when I adopted this orphan. To hear that this labor of love was recognized by a nomination for an Eisner Award makes all that work worthwhile.

YOU CAN ORDER A COPY HERE.

Thursday, April 19, 2007 - 12:58pm
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LINKLETTER
Kevin S. Butler corrects an earlier post: "You stated in the TV Blog that Mr. Art Linkletter never did another TV series after Life With Linkletter on NBC in the 1970's. With all due respect, that is not true. He attempted a comeback in the 1980's with an advice program on cable TV with tips to help seniors live better. The show was not successful and went off the air after a brief period.

"Mr. Linkletter also occasionally appeared on Kids Say The Darndest Things with Bill Cosby on CBS in the 1990's. The show featured Mr. Cosby interviewing little kids but unfortunately, Cosby's conversations were not funny, he used the kids as props for his unfunny, staged monologues. Art Linkletter would oft times appear on the show (usually at the end of the program) to host reruns of his Kids Say The Darndest Things segments from his House Party / Linkletter Shows.

"Mr. Linkletter's segments with the kids were much more interesting and fun since he never tried to upstage the kids or force unreal or staged dialogue. The conversations were real, the kids said what was really on their minds and Mr. Linkletter reacted honestly to the kid's words."

Wednesday, April 18, 2007 - 9:10am
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LINKAGE
I've found a TV related blog I like a lot, the best movie and TV reviews I've read since Cyclops, The Phil Nugent Experience. I was going to pull a quote or two to show you how clever the guy is but there are just so many gems it would be like scooping up sand at the beach. When Ebert goes (God forbid) Phil Nugent should take his place - unless he's got Tourettes or something.

Covers from the Silver Age of Marvel Comics. As a young collector, I probably had 85% of these comics at one time and a comparable DC collection. They'd be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars now.

Did you read where Dave Chappelle performed for over 6 hours at the Laugh Factory in LA? Can you think of any other living comedians who could do that? I'd like to see --- try.

I can't take anymore of the Blacksburg story and I'm just reading online about it for the most part. No more TV! But this photo montage of the victims was riveting and should be shared, a reminder that there truly is E-V-I-L in the world.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007 - 9:04am
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HEARTBREAKING
I feel awful about what happened at Virginia Tech. My brother works there and it's an absolutely beautiful campus. The city of Blacksburg seems like a wonderful, almost idyllic place. I've often thought that it might make a great place to live should I decide to fold up tent.

I notice that the usual online pundits aren't addressing this massacre yet. Was this a terrorist act? By any definition it should be considered one but the media hasn't yet burped the word. Does there have to be a political agenda to be considered an act of terror? A muslim involved?

I watched the press conference yesterday with school officials and the campus police chief and it struck me that they were dancing around too much. If it turns out they didn't have solid credible evidence that they REALLY thought the first shooting was a domestic incident then they are cooked. A campus that had seen one killing already that school year and received bomb threats over the last week should have had police, security or anyone they could get posted outside of every building as quickly as possible after the first shots. Or cancelled classes.

I can understand that there would be confusion. No one should second guess what's done as long as reasonable caution was employed but I think there will be a firestorm on VT officials in the next few days if it turns out they didn't move cautiously enough and were trying to contain the situation.

On the other hand, if it turns out to be a domestic violence situation gone haywire, I think they could be forgiven for assuming the danger had passed. Anything short of that and the lawsuits are going to fly, crippling the school's growth; I don't see how the culture of the school will ever be the same.

There will be the inevitable conflict over whether more or less guns on campus are called for. Here's a paragraph from a CBS News report: "Ironically, the school specifically banned the possession of firearms in dormitories or classrooms - the exact locations of today's unthinkable violence." What some might see as a 'ironic' others will see as the reason the second massacre was allowed to happen. If there had been armed students in the dorms could lives have been saved? Would the gunman have thought twice if he knew the students in that building were potentially armed? Of course, I find the idea of readily available guns and college students a recipe for disaster. One thing's for sure - parents will think more than twice before sending their kids to VT whoever wins the guns in the dorms debate.

On the other hand, I'm sure we'll hear stories of amazing courage because so many fine people live in Virginia. It's one of the reasons I live down south. For instance, this from an AOL News report: "Calhoun said that the two students behind him were shot, but that he believed they survived. Just before he climbed out the window, Calhoun said, he turned to look at the professor, who had stayed behind, perhaps to block the door. The instructor was killed, he said." It's hearbreaking.

I remember a few years ago I was talking with some friends who are big G. W. Bush supporters. They lamented that the kids today are into sex, especially oral sex, at such a young age and they felt it was a result of Clinton's behavior in the White House. I thought that was kind of a stretch - do young kids pay attention to what goes on in Washington? I told them, if that's true, in the next few years we'll see a huge uptick of violence in our young people as a result of Bush's policies. No, that's not me saying, "It's Bush's fault." Just something I've thought about over the last couple of years, especially when reading about the recent spate of attacks by teens on the homeless.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 - 4:16am
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SUNDAY YOU TUBING
I've been busy lately with parties, deadlines (writing liner notes for TV on DVD releases) and taxes thus unable to blog. The bright spot of my weekend - receiving an advanced look at the This Is Tom Jones TV series on DVD. Boy, is it a knockout! I'll probably watch this bad boy four times around before I'm done, it is absolutely one of the greatest TV to DVD sets to date for music lovers. I'll tell you more about it in a day or three. In the meantime...

FROM THE 1950s: The wonderful Martha Raye ("the big mouth") sings and clowns as only she could.

FROM THE 1960s: This is an alternate opening to the first episode of Land of the Giants. The final version cut the character development in favor of crashing the ship sooner. Land of the Giants comes to DVD in a 2 season set this summer.

FROM THE 1970s: Roscoe Lee Browne passed away Wednesday, he of so many memorable TV guest starring roles. Here he is on an episode of All in the Family.

FROM THE 1980s: Does anyone remember when they combined Hollywood Squares and Match Game into a one hour program in the 1980s? You may not, it was a complete disaster. See for yourself why...

Sunday, April 15, 2007 - 9:19am
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NEW COMEDY SPECIAL
Comedy Central is the home to some of the funniest shows on TV, from South Park to the Colbert Report they rarely hit a sour note.
Well, there's Mind of Mencia, the broadcast equivalent of stepping in dog shit. I'm personally sick of that type of childish race based humor.

If that wasn't bad enough, comedians have been complaining for some time that Mencia rips off their routines. There are up and coming comics who allegedly won't take the stage if he's in the audience for fear they'll later hear their jokes on Mind of Mencia. And if there's anything less humorous that Mencia's skits I haven't seen it.

Hold on a sec, that's not what I was going to talk about - Comedy Central has a new stand-up special starring Rodney Carrington and it's a hour of amusing redneck humor, if that's your cup of tea (I enjoy it quite a bit). This was my first exposure to the guy but he's been an audience favorite for a decade now with best-selling albums to his credit and he starred in the short-lived ABC series Rodney - so some of this material will be familiar to many of you. Fans will be pleased that Carrington performs a sampling of his hilarious tunes, like his flat out funny country ballad to his penis.

Have you noticed southern humorists don't have a lot to say about race but almost every other category of stand up comedian does? Southerners can only ridicule themselves. And make fun of women of course, that's always safe. Especially overweight women.

But when it comes to race, forget it. There's no shortage of black comics calling out whites for being uncool or unable to dance, but you sure wouldn't hear Jeff Foxworthy or any of those guys saying word one about black folks and how they might not measure up in some way. Correct me if I'm wrong (I don't watch that much TV, I'm on a DVD diet).

Am I complaining? Hell no! Unless someone comes up with some new variation, I'm sick of racial humor. I'm just saying we haven't come that far yet. Or regressed that far, I'm not sure.

Rodney Carrington: Live at the Majestic airs Saturday, April 14 at 11:00pm ET/PT. The DVD will be released April 24th.

Thursday, April 12, 2007 - 7:36am
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Alex Toth Book
TVparty's Billy Ingram and James Counts produced a new book that animation and comic book fans will want to own - 'Dear John: The Alex Toth Doodle Book.'

It's a bit different - a collection of correspondence and sketches from the reclusive master artist Alex Toth's last 25 years.

Click here for more info about the book. There are very few copies left and I haven't heard any serious talk of a second printing; it was released only through comic book stores in August of 2006.

 

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