Saturday, September 04, 2010

Labor Day Means A Lot of Things: Jerry Lewis, TV Guide and The New Fall TV Season

When I was growing up on the East side of Flint, Michigan – Labor Day weekend meant three things and none of them were associated with the real reason for Labor Day.  Labor Day weekend signaled the end of summer and that meant having to go back to school and all of the “fun” associated with that. 

Labor Day weekend also meant having to endure another Jerry Lewis Labor Day telethon – but back then there were actually real stars performing on the telethon.  It’s hard to get all excited about the Jerry Lewis telethon today when the talent is on par with a junior high school talent show – plus – anyone and everyone who watches the show today wonders how many more of these things Jerry can do before he takes the big dirt nap.  Hell, he’s barely on the show very much as it is – a few hour in the beginning…an hour or so in the middle….and an hour or so at the end.  (He’s got to be there at the end so we can see if he really blubbers it up during his rendition of “You Never Walk Alone”)  And let’s be honest with ourselves – is it really any fun watching the telethon these days without hearing Ed McMahon announcing some new numbers on the tote board?

And when I was growing up, the Labor Day weekend also signaled the beginning of a new television season and the most anticipated magazine of the year (before Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue and puberty arrived in my life) was TV Guide’s New Television Season Preview Guide.  The preview guide issues of TV Guide were the biggest issues of the year with synopsis of all of the new shows and pictures of all of the stars appearing in them and if you loved TV Guide – this was the issue that you were waiting for all year long.

The Summer Preview Issue also gave you your first look at what the local television stations in your area had planned for their viewers – such as what new syndicated shows they purchased and how they scheduled them.  I mean, when you’re a kid – nothing pisses you off more than to discover that your favorite show was no longer on the schedule of your local TV station --- “How dare they cancel ‘Star Trek’ reruns so that they can show Dinah Shore’s talk show in the afternoon!  Those bastards!!!”

If you only read TV Guide once a year – the old Summer Season Preview Issue was the issue to read and to imagine all of the information was compiled all together in one magazine that you could buy at your corner grocery store for fifteen cents!  What a bargain!  The Guide itself, in its digest-size was a thing of beauty – with its glossy pages filled with stories about TV and TV personalities and then there was the listings section with the black or white TV channel numbers, TV show title, type of program and program length….now that was TV Guide.  When they switched to using a grid to show the evening’s television schedule is when TV Guide lost me and then they switched the format to make TV Guide look more like a magazine and they have jacked the price up to $3.99 an issue…what are they thinking!? 

And much like TV Guide is a thing of the past – there was more news coming out concerning television, or should I say, the video industry that’s kind of sad.  It won’t be too much longer before Blockbuster video stores become a thing of the past with the announcement that they are going to be closing about eight hundred more stores as they reorganize their one billion dollar debt. 

In all of the years that Blockbuster video has been open – I probably rented one movie from them and I think that I bought one of their used previewed movies.  It’s not that I didn’t like Blockbuster, but I was a bit loyal to my friend, the late Jack Hood, who owned Rainbow Video in Flint.   I think it would be safe to say that Jack Hood owned one of the first video stores in the Flint area and one of the reasons that it was one of the best places to go to rent a movie was because Jack and co-owner Gene Krusewski loved the movies.  When you went to Blockbuster or any one of the other chain video stores – the people behind the counter were interchangeable from the local McDonalds with kids working there just to make a buck and they could care less about the movies.  Jack and Gene appreciated their customers and loved talking about the movies and were able to turn that love into a business.  But the type of store that they operated has become a thing of the past – much in the same way Blockbuster will be in the months ahead – victim to cable TV pay-per-view, the dollar video kiosks, Netflix and video downloads from your home computer. 

Dumb TV Alert: 

I can watch some pretty dumb shit on TV and feel no remorse about it – but there is one level of dumb TV that I will not lower myself to and that’s having to watch “Dancing With The Stars”.  The producers of this show could resurrect Jesus Christ and have him compete on “Dancing With The Stars” and I will not watch it.  For one thing – it’s ballroom dancing…and the other thing…who in the hell are they fooling – some of the stars on this show would have a hard time convincing people in their own homes of their star status. and what does it say about your star status if they do choose you to be on this show.   

The producers of DWTS announced who the stars that will be competing in this season’s show and what a list: 
  • Singer Michael Bolton (I don’t think he could sell one of his CDs today on QVC – which should give you some indication of how his career has been going)
  • Former LA Laker forward Rick Fox
  • Comedian Margaret Cho (who is in the cast of Lifetime’s “Drop Dead Diva”)
  • Florence Henderson of “The Brady Bunch” fame and has been hosting a senior citizens talk show on one of the cable networks.
  • Jennifer Grey (who played “Baby” in “Dirty Dancing” and who’s career has been pretty much off the radar ever since she had a nose job)
  • “The Situation” from MTV’s “Jersey Shore

But the “star” that really caught all of the attention was none other that Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol (named after the city where ESPN is located in Connecticut).  What is this kid’s claim to fame?  She’s Sarah Palin’s kid…you remember…the one who got knocked up and was going to marry the father, but decided against it…and then they got back together again…announced that they were going to get married….and decided against it again.  And you have Bristol trying to be the poster child to tell all young girls about not having sex before marriage and how rough it is to be an unwed mother…blah blah blah.  Yup, this was the kid whose mother chastised Barack Obama for being a part of the “celebrity culture”…yet it sure does look like she and her Mama are profiting pretty well from it.  I hear a season of being a star on DWTS is worth something like $250,000 and Mama Palin doesn’t open her mouth unless she’s paid for it.

I have rambled enough…I think I’ll just wrap this thing up.  Enjoy the Labor Day weekend and until we meet again…remember…it’s only TV.

No comments: