Monday, August 10, 2015

BIG WEEK ON AMERICAN TV

It was a huge week on American Television and I feel a blog coming on. Cagney & Lacey got a very nice ... if not totally accurate... break in the Huffington Post, Fox News and its founder Roger Ailes have proven themselves to be even bigger (and more important) than anyone really thought they were, and Jon Stewart exited the stage at Comedy Central.
I totally get Stewart's desire to get out while on top. But I now also better empathize with all those fans of Cagney & Lacey and The Trials of Rosie O'Neill who were disappointed at my decision to leave town at 58 years of age. Even so, "disappointed" doesn't nearly describe my sense of loss at Stewart's leaving The Daily Show. What an icon he is. What a fabulous career he has had. He literally redefined on-air genius in the performance category and was (perhaps) even greater as a producer of the show that has forever made its imprimatur on America and most of those who watched it over the past 16 years. Ave, Caesar, Morituri te Salutant.
Ailes and Fox News may take a little more time to explain. First of all, they totally obliterated the primary function of a major political party, which is to select the candidate to be its standard bearer. The Republican National Committee surrendered that prerogative (some might say duty) to a cable news channel and stepped aside while Roger Ailes and his minions all but arbitrarily set up rules of just who might be one of the two major candidates for the office of President of the United States and then didn't even adhere to those. That is only part of the tale. They then went on to produce a pretty good show(s) in the form of two separate (and unequal) debates, fed the candidates plenty of red meat for the right wing base of the party, and then (post show) proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that it's standard bearers (namely Megyn Kelly) have more support than any that were on that Fox Stage, including the acknowledged front runner-by far, none other than Donald Trump. Trump had gotten away with insulting a war hero in John McCain, the Governor of Texas and the US Senator from South Carolina ("Got away" did I say? It made him even more popular... Give 'em hell, Donald, seemed to be the cry). But then The Donald went a bridge too far. Insult Obama? No one cared... in fact they loved it. Hillary? They loved that even more. But Trump misplayed a hot hand. He thought he could trump Roger Ailes, Fox News and Ms Kelly and get away with it. Mistake. Megyn Kelly has been feeding the far right the Ailes substitute for sustenance for years. She is to the far right what Mother Teresa was to Catholics.... only prettier. Ailes set the stage by having his minions ask for a show of hands. Who would NOT pledge to support whomever was the official Republican nominee and assure the rest that he would not start a third party run for the White House? No one asked that question at the lesser debate that took place on the same Fox Network two hours earlier and why should they? No one cared about those folks and why tip off The Donald as to what he was in for? Right off the bat, that was question number one and the right wingers in the audience at the auditorium squirmed when it was asked, but booed when Trump gave his answer by being the only one to raise his hand. The We Shall Over Comb candidate never fully recovered, but some might say more or less held his own for the remainder of the two hours... almost. Not good enough for Donald Trump. He started tweeting in the wee hours of the morning... something right out of the Cagney & Lacey villains handbook: "Her time of the month or what?" That was the line that got even the CBS censors outraged and that was 1980. Holy smoke... Trump crossed that line of political ineptitude 35 years later and he has yet to fully get the impact of what hit him. Like I said... Big week in American Television.






9 comments:

Paul K. Bisson said...

Hearing of Trump's comment was a bit surreal for me as I had, just minutes earlier, passed that moment in your book (which I'm absolutely loving). 100% agree with you on Stewart's departure.

Lauren said...

Literal spit-take on "The We Shall Over Comb" comment. I'm glad I spent the money on a keyboard cover. ;)

K. said...

Well said Barney! He can try to back track...BUT...the implication was clearly there.

Sheryl Rosenfield said...

I am not sure that Trump was referring to her time of the month--however, mentioning Rosie was totally inappropriate during a Presidential Debate! The fact that he is even taken seriously by voters is of more concern. It's one thing to be disgusted with the lack of integrity and smarts in the nation's capital but another to be enthused about a blow hard who has no experience and who has no filter when he speaks. We have enough problems with many other heads of state to have a president who speaks off the top of his head and shoots from the hip. If people want to shake up the federal government, which needs to be shaken up--they need to change more than the president. But a Trump ticket from the Republicans won't surprise me as this is the party that might do anything to get in the White House! Let's not forget who they ran with John McCain!

Barney Rosenzweig said...

I am going to continue the "debate" not because I think politics is the province of this site, but because stuff about Trump really does fall under the general heading of my blog's title about it being a big week on American TV. In my view, Trump is not a candidate as we have come to understand that term over a lifetime of following this sort of thing... but rather he is a complete creature of the medium of television and we all need (mostly the TV news stations need) to take a deep breath and realize that with a 20% approval rating by the Republican Voters that translates to about 8% of the voting age population of the United States of America... or, to be even more succinct,... fewer Americans than the number who believe in the tooth fairy.

Patty casal said...

Barney, I hope you and Sharon are doing well. I was in my mid 20s when Cagney and Lacey aired, I was an independent woman with an exciting job and just fell in love with Sharon and Tyne. The show was also a favorite for my Dad and we watched together when I was home visiting. My 55 year old Dad had such a crush on Sharon, he would never fail to comment on her beauty. The fact is that I also had a little crush on her. My dad died suddenly and a few months later the episode Turn, turn turn aired. I can't remember ever crying so hard. Sharon's performance was unbelievable, Her anger, her sadness was overwhelming for me. I have never seen such a powerful performance that touched me to the core. Her complete surrender to her partner, the most important person in her life, was stunning. These two actors had such magic together. I am re watching the shows on Hulu and those old feelings are coming back. I am married with grown children now, not the youngster I was so I watch with wiser eyes. I believe that Tyne and Sharon portrayed the most profound love story ever shown on TV or film. All,of you should be so proud of creating a masterpiece that held up, that is still relevant and shows what acting is all about. Thank you.

Barney Rosenzweig said...

Patty: We used to get quite a few letter like yours back (as they say) "in the day." Not so much anymore, so thank you for remembering us and for your very touching letter. I am none too sure how good a job HULU is doing showing our stuff, so just in case you are interested in an alternative (and, I have to believe, BETTER) way of viewing the old shows... check out getting the entire show (all 125 episodes and five movies) plus other features by buying the complete set on DVD. The site should show you how to do that in the most economic way or, simply contact Amazon for a prompt delivery of all the work. Last pitch... because there is nothing more I like that a true fan who has been impacted in a very real way by the show... read my book. I think you will thank me once you have. It is a good read and might be especially meaningful to you as both your Dad and I had crushes on Sharon at just about the same time. Barney Rosenzweig

Patty casal said...

Barney, thank you so much for your kind reply. I read your book and it was wonderful. I appreciated your honesty in talking about your leading ladies.

I spent 12 years working at the White House and I dealt with numerous television and film actors. I was always interested in their preparation, motivation etc. The truth is most were shallow and uninspiring. Since Turn, Turn, Turn was so impactful to my life, I really would like to know how Ms. Gless was able to dig down deep and display these emotions. I remember asking my then fiancé how she knew what that kind of sudden loss felt like? How did she know that anger would trump sadness? I am dying to know how she gave that performance. Also tell her that all the talent that visited the White House while I was there couldn't hold a candle to her.

Patty

Barney Rosenzweig said...

Will be sure to forward your lovely post to Sharon Gless. Please be patient for her reply.
Thank you.
The Web Squad