Monday, January 26, 2009

"A Shot In The Dark"

If they ever decide to make new Inspector cartoons, this version should be the theme. It's the Naked City Plus featuring John Zorn on alto sax.

Monday, January 19, 2009

And In Other Radio News...

Big format change at WHTG went down today. No longer "G Rock Radio", it's now "Hits Now". I knew something was up when I heard them playing a Miley Cyrus record.

I was at WHTG at the dawn of their rock format (late 1984), and am a little sad to see it go after almost 25 years on the air.

From Inauguration To Inauguration: Four Years At Y107

January 21, 1985 was my first day at work at Y107 radio in Long Branch, New Jersey. The two things I remember about that day was that it was the beginning of Ronald Reagan's second term of office (the inauguration being moved from Sunday to Monday), and that the general manager sent everyone home early that day because there was no heat in the building.

January 19, 1989 - twenty years ago today - was my last day of work at Y107 radio in Long Branch, New Jersey. The station's new ownership had brought a security guard into the station shortly after midnight the next day, shut off the transmitter, and asked the only employee working at the time, "TJ The DJ", to leave the premises. This was in response to a plea by our afternoon disk jockey (who I think was still Willobee at the time) to have hordes of people come to the station on Friday morning and protest possible format changes being installed by the new ownership. We sat at a seashore bar - specially opened in the offseason to serve employees who wanted to drink to excess, myself included - and watched George H.W. Bush take the oath of office. My Y107 tenure lasted exactly four years, with all but two station employees being hired after me. At 27, I was one of the grizzled old vets.

What happened in between would make for one hell of a book, as Y107 was perhaps the most fun I ever had when I worked in broadcasting - and at the same time, made for some of the most stressful moments of my life. I value the experiences I had, and in the days to come, I will be sharing with you examples of the work I did while at Y107 as an air personality. Yes, I did save one aircheck tape. I may have others which are actually right now in Robair's possession, as he has the majority of my cassettes.

Here's Another Hero

Mark Evanier on the woman who saved Pat McCormick's life... and that ain't the end of it!

Super Bowl XLIII Ad Review Pre Game Show

One of the more fun things I do as proprietor of this weblog is to have a commentary on the Super Bowl advertising strategy. This usually goes up an hour or two after the game. This year, we're going to do it a little different: we are going to comment on the ads AS THEY HAPPEN. At the end of each break (or "pod", as they're sometimes called), we'll recap each of the commercials in that pod and discuss notable features of the ads, whether or not they were funny, whether or not they were intended to be funny, and like that. Now, to just familiarize you all with the ground rules:

1. This is my biggest pet peeve. Any commercial that shows an imposskible stunt with a big disclaimer DO NOT ATTEMPT on the screen will be given an immediate F without further discussion. Ad agencies make commercials, not lawyers.

2. Movie creative will not be considered for letter grades, as there is a set formula to movie ads, and we consider them to be a breed apart. We will miss the tobacco-soaked voice of Don LaFontaine this year.

The NBC traffic department as of a week ago had stated that the 67 30-second avails are at 90% sellout. The spots this year are going for as much as $3 million dollars for each of those avails. Imagine that scheduling headache! Even with my decade plus of experience doing radio and television traffic, I don't think I could do it.

Who's in and who's out: According to various press reports...

IN: Anheuser-Busch InBev (of course) with up to five minutes of creative for Bud Light, Budweiser (more Clydesdale spots), Bud Light Lime and Budweiser American Ale; Audi (:60 1Q, vehicle TBD); Bridgestone (also sponsoring the halftime performance by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band); CareerBuilder (:30 2Q and :30 3Q, this time, without the monkeys); (:60 2Q); Coca-Cola (multiple); Denny's (:30 3Q); DreamWorks Animation (:60 end 2Q for "Monsters vs. Aliens"); E-Trade (:30 TBD with the talking baby); Frito-Lay/Doritos (:30 TBD with homemade ads being solicited; prize of $1,000,000 to be awarded if this ad ranks #1 on the USA Today Ad Meter); GE (one spot TBD); GoDaddy (:30 TBD and perhaps maybe another, featuring Danica Patrick); H&R Block (:30 2H, part of the "You've Got People" campaign, first Supes ad for the company in 5 years); Hyundai (two spots for the Genesis coupe); Monster (:30); The NFL (:60 halftime to be directed by ad legend Joe Pytka); Pedigree (:30, first Supes appearance for the pet food maker); Pepsi (various); SoBe (:30 end 2Q to be podded with the DreamWorks ad); Teleflora (:30 2Q); Universal (TBD)

OUT: FedEx, General Motors.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Mighty Mouse's Triumphant Return

When Gene Deitch took over the day to day operations of Terrytoons in the mid-1950's, one of his radical decisions was to discontinue the studio's long-running characters like Mighty Mouse and Heckle and Jeckle. While many enjoyed the new concepts and ideas Deitch was trying out, 20th Century-Fox wanted cartoon stars for its releases. That's perhaps one of the reasons that Gene Deitch was let go, and Bill Weiss put in his place. The first thing Weiss did was order Mighty Mouse and Heckle and Jeckle back into production. The first result of this was the 1959 Mighty Mouse cartoon "Outer Space Visitor", which we present to you now, through the good offices of Robair who is starting to go through my old tapes and get this stuff up on YouTube.

This cartoon was directed (and probably also animated) by Dave Tendlar, who had just recently joined the Terrytoons staff after spending most of his career up to that point at Fleischer Studios and Famous Studios/Paramount Cartoons. Tendlar had been a valued animator and a gifted character designer, and most of the animators in his unit were top draftsmen.

Tendlar would soon be joined at Terrytoons by one of his lead animators, Martin Taras, who would help resurrect Heckle and Jeckle. The Heckle and Jeckle revival was significantly more successful than Mighty Mouse's, which only lasted for three films- this one, "Cat Alarm" and "The Mysterious Package". There were perhaps a dozen Heckle and Jeckle films made in the 1960's, with most of them being produced in the 1960-1961 time frame, with the last one, "Messed Up Movie Makers", being released in 1966, a project of longtime studio animators George Bakes and Al Chiarito.

After Terrytoons, Dave Tendlar would freelance for many other studios, including Ken Snyder, Filmation, Hanna-Barbera and Hal Seeger. He retired in the early 80's and died in 1993.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ricardo Montalban dies

What was your favorite role? Mr. Roarke? Khan? For me, it was the car pitchman who always warned us about the soft Corinthian leather....

Monday, January 12, 2009

More Computer Woes!

My HP notebook is in for service. Three months after I bought the thing, it has trouble booting up and likes to crash when moved. This isn't good, so hopefully the geniuses at the store I bought it from will have it working again.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

A Totally 80's Clip

Here is a brief sequence from the 1989 Chabad Telethon. Soleil Moon Frye and Mayim Bialik, then both teen actresses headlining their own shows ("Punky Brewster" and "Blossom"), talk about anti-drug programs of Chabad. Briefly seen in the clip is the perennial host of the telethon, the late Jan Murray.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Weight Loss Update

Hi there. I'm speaking to you almost 60 pounds lighter! My weight this morning was 191. I've got bus drivers at my schools telling me how great I'm looking these days. I'm pretty much down to one chin now.

What's my motivation? Looking at the "Millionaire" I did almost two years ago and vowing that the next time I go on television, I won't be an embarrassment. I look at it now and say "who's that fat guy pretending to be me?"

Sunday, January 04, 2009

R.I.P., Animania

The HD network Animania, part of the VOOM suite of cable networks, is going dark on January 20. This network could have been a viable contender to Cartoon Network and Boomerang, but was not as aggressive as it could have been in acquiring classic product. At the end, Animania was running one hour of classic cartoons per day (several times), consisting of DePatie-Freleng cartoons (mostly Pink Panther, with some Inspector thrown in) and elements from "Totally Tooned In", a series devised by Jerry Beck using the Columbia color cartoon library.

Will I miss it? No, because I haven't watched in months. But I feel the network deserves a decent Viking funeral.

Putting the MAC in MACkey

Our family's Dell desktop computer has decided on being a cranky senior citizen, so we've scuttled it in favor of a new iMac. We got the 20 inch model with the 320GB hard drive. Right now the elves (me) are feverishly working on reinstalling many of our favorite applications. So far so good with the new computer. We got hooked on Macs when we saw one behaving quite nicely at Tracy's sister's house.

Now, the only Windows computer in the house is my recently-purchased HP notebook. All the Macs are getting along quite well so far.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy 2009

I started 2009 at about 9:00 a.m. this morning, spending a few hours packing Christmas away and getting all our mid-winter/early spring (optimism rears its head) stuff out.

I am not watching the Looney Tunes thing on CN this afternoon. You think I'd be happy about this, but at 8:00 p.m. they start running "Mobile Monkey Suit" or "My Gym Partner Is A Teletubbie" or whatever it is they show in between episodes of "Family Guy". I tuned in during "Baseball Bugs", watched about a minute of the crappy print, then turned the cable box off and ran for my DVD set of beautifully restored specimens of the greatest cartoons ever made.

Watched the ABC New Year's show. Dick Clark is getting better with each year as he picks up more of his faculties lost in his stroke almost five years ago. The cameramen are starting to go more for closeups, and Dick had a lot of his usual spunk and charm and humor. Lots of laughter from the Dickmeister this year. He could probably be back hosting something again, if not for his thick, less-than-glib speech. But Dick, God bless him, soldiers on for another year, counts down the New Year (didn't miss a number this year), and gets his kiss from wife Kari.

Hope your 2009 is as happy as mine is starting out to be.