Archive for the ‘Joan Rivers’ Category

TCM ‘Brand’ Slam: This Week’s MediaPost Blogs

September 4, 2015
This week's MediaPost TV blog: TCM launches brand-awareness campaign, Kanye and Kim at the MTV Video Music Awards, the late-night wars heat up, here come the campaign commercials and Joan Rivers, a year after her death. Links below.

This week’s topics: TCM launches brand-awareness campaign, Kanye and Kim at the MTV Video Music Awards, the late-night wars heat up, here come the campaign commercials, and Joan Rivers, a year after her death. Links below.

NEW YORK, Sept. 4, 2015 — Variety was the order of the day (if not the week) in this week’s TV blogs.

The week started with a mostly thumbs-down interpretation of a new brand-awareness campaign created by Turner Classic Movies that turned the word “movie,” a noun, into a verb. The week ended with a commentary about Joan Rivers’ show “Fashion Police” on the one-year anniversary of her death.

In between, Tuesday’s blog looked at the social-media numbers from Sunday’s Video Music Awards on MTV, Wednesday’s blog previewed next week’s renewal of the late-night wars, and Thursday’s blog welcomed the pending arrival of mud-slinging political commercials.

Read all five of this week’s MediaPost blogs, by Adam Buckman, with these links, below:

Monday, Aug. 31: TCM Creates Tagline That Turns ‘Movie’ Into A Verb

Tuesday, Sept. 1: Kanye For President? Crunching The VMA Social Media Numbers

Wednesday, Sept. 2: New Late-Night War Heats Up With Trump, Biden Bookings

Thursday, Sept. 3: Bring On The Political Commercials – And The Dirtier The Better

Friday, Sept. 4: ‘Fashion’ Forward: Year After Joan Rivers’ Death, Her Show Goes On

— Adam Buckman

Contact Adam Buckman: adambuckman14@gmail.com

Still howlin’ and blogging daily on MediaPost.com

October 15, 2014

BRINGING YOU THE CONSTANT VARIETY OF TELEVISION …

All this and more: Please click on the pictures to visit my growing archive of daily blog posts on MediaPost.com / Television News Daily, including recent columns on these topics, and more!

All this and more: Please click on any of the pictures above to visit my growing archive of daily blog posts on MediaPost.com / Television News Daily, including recent columns on these topics, and more.

NEW YORK, Oct. 15, 2014 — Looking for something new to read on TVHowl.com?  I am now writing the daily TV blog for Television News Daily / MediaPost.com.

All are invited to visit my growing archive of MediaPost.com columns, covering all the topics pictured above — “The Walking Dead,” “Homeland,” “Ray Donovan,” “Gotham,” Joan Rivers, “Project Runway” and much more. Visit my archive right HERE. Thank you for visiting TVHowl.com.

— Adam Buckman

Contact Adam Buckman: adambuckman14@gmail.com

‘Appalling’ comments once made me bail on Joan

September 5, 2014
Joan Rivers in 2012.

Joan Rivers in 2012.

WITH RIVERS, YOU ACCEPTED THE GOOD WITH THE BAD

By ADAM BUCKMAN

NEW YORK, Sept. 5, 2014 — I once bailed on a radio interview with Joan Rivers because the comments I heard her making on the air while I awaited our interview were so appalling.

Her remarks had nothing do with me.  I was scheduled to do a phone interview with her from my desk at the New York Post.  As is customary for such things, I was placed on hold by a producer for a few minutes before Joan would get around to announcing me and then beginning our interview.  While I was on hold, I could hear Joan talking.

This was back in the 1990s, on an early evening talk show that Joan hosted on WOR-AM in New York, starting in 1997.  I was invited to come on the show to talk about some TV-related topic that was then in the news, but I have no idea today what the topic was.

All I remember is, I was on hold at around 7:45 in the evening, listening in while Joan and someone else (possibly a producer or some other sort of sidekick) riffed on some other forgotten subject.  At some point, their free-wheeling exchange led to Joan vividly describing a scenario in which — sorry about this — bloody fetuses were being thrown off a cruise ship.

I was not then, nor now, particularly prudish about such things, but on that particular evening, I guess I just wasn’t in the mood.  Moreover, I was struck by the juxtaposition I was about to experience as Joan would shortly segue to me, following this graphic diatribe she had just issued.  So, not wishing to be the act that followed this particular material, I then did something that surprised even me, because I had never done this before (nor ever done it since):  I took the phone receiver from my ear, stared at it for a few seconds, and then gently hung up.

A few seconds later, the phone rang but I didn’t pick it up.  It was Joan’s producer, who left a voice-mail message mentioning something about our having been cut off, and then asking if I would please call back since our scheduled interview was seconds away.  Instead of calling back, I locked up my desk drawers and went home, leaving Joan and her producer to wonder what had happened to me.  I heard later that Joan was miffed, or at least mystified, by my sudden withdrawal, which left her having to fill airtime lasting about five minutes or so.

I remembered this incident the other day, while we all awaited the news on her condition, which unfortunately ended in her death yesterday.

I was vaguely acquainted with Joan Rivers because when one spends 30 years on the TV beat, you inevitably come into contact with her.  She was adept (if not obsessive) at maintaining a very visible public profile, which meant that, as a journalist, you could get her on the phone for an interview at the drop of a hat.  And since this cannot be said for many celebrities, Joan’s availability had the effect of endearing her to you, her occasional appalling comments on the radio notwithstanding.

Joan Rivers was the subject of the first bylined story I ever wrote about television — the first of more than 6,000.  It was in July 1983, and the reporter who would have ordinarily conducted this interview with Joan must have been on vacation because it was suddenly assigned to me.  I was then the radio reporter for this particular publication (the long defunct Broadcast Week).

The occasion was the announcement that day that Joan had signed a contract to be Johnny Carson’s sole guest host on the evenings he took off from “The Tonight Show” during the upcoming 1983-84 TV season.

So I found myself on the phone with Joan Rivers.   “How has your career benefited from television?” I asked her.

“It’s given me my whole career,” she answered.  “After my first appearance on ‘The Tonight Show’ in 1965, Johnny turned to me and said on the air, ‘You’re going to be a star.’  And suddenly I was.  I found myself booked into all the top spots in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles.  It literally changed my life.  Before that, nobody cared.”

Some time in the 1990s, I saw her perform for the first and only time.  She was touring with Don Rickles (billed as “Rivers and Rickles”) and we caught up with them on Long Island, at the Westbury Music Fair.  She opened for Rickles and put on a performance that had to be seen to be believed.  It was a theater-in-the-round and she worked that stage like a whirling dervish, always in motion, wearing a gown and teetering on high heels, and cradling a small dog in the crook of one elbow while holding a microphone in her other hand.

Her act was so electrifying that it was more like performance art than a stand-up act.  Afterwards, we went backstage to meet her and she was understandably tired — so much so that she seemed dazed, though she gamely chatted with us, along with other well-wishers who had been allowed into her dressing room.

I last interviewed Joan Rivers in 2010, about “Fashion Police,” her TV show on E!; and the documentary titled “A Piece of Work” that had come out that year about her life.  (Read the interview here: http://xfin.tv/1ptVliM.)

“Do you consider yourself particularly fashionable?” I asked her.

“No, I consider myself very smart,” she said.  “I do it all with jackets and jewelry.”

“What are your criteria?” I pressed on.  “What are you looking for when you pass judgment on what other people are wearing?”

You should wear the dress, the dress shouldn’t wear you,” she answered.

“Well, explain this to us: How does it get to the point where a celebrity shows up at an event [wearing something that is so inappropriate that they get ridiculed for it]?”

Answered Rivers: “Six gay friends said, ‘You look good!’ ”

Contact Adam Buckman: adambuckman14@gmail.com

Good riddance, 2013: My TV year in review

December 11, 2013
With highlights like this, who needs to remember 2013? Bill Maher compared Donald Trump to an orangutan and the feud Maher ignited lasted most of the year.

With highlights like this, who needs to remember 2013? Bill Maher compared Donald Trump to an orangutan and the feud Maher ignited lasted most of the year.

By ADAM BUCKMAN

NEW YORK, Dec. 11, 2013 — It was one of the strangest years in my long personal history on the TV beat.

Looking back in search of the year’s highlights, I find mostly lowlights.

With a few notable exceptions, the TV stories I covered that drew our attention in 2013 were either contentious and crude or irrelevant and trivial.

Falling into the former category: Alec Baldwin becoming embroiled in at least three controversies over slurs (two homophobic and one racial) he probably uttered (and then denied) in confrontations with reporters and photographers who doorstepped him outside his New York apartment house.

Plus, at least two incidents in which TV personalities flipped each other the bird on TV: David Letterman flourishing his middle digit at guest Rob Lowe in October, and Savannah Guthrie doing the same to Matt Lauer when he made some stupid comment about her unfamiliarity with a vacuum cleaner on “The Today Show.”

Here’s a request: Hey, you television people, how about dialing down the crass behavior in 2014?  Yeah, like that’ll ever happen.

Monkey see, monkey do: Justin Bieber and capuchin monkey (inset).

Monkey see, monkey do: Justin Bieber and capuchin monkey (inset).

On the trivial side: The late-night hosts joked for the better part of a week about Justin Bieber having his monkey confiscated in Germany; they spent a month (or more) doing jokes about twerking and Miley Cyrus; and the entire year joking about Chris Christie’s weight.

Sharon Osbourne revealed she had a fling long ago with Jay Leno; rotund comic Louie Anderson was somehow persuaded to participate in the ABC diving-competition show called “Splash”; Hollywood heavyweight Jeff Garlin went after some guy’s Mercedes in an L.A. parking dispute; and the year’s most talked-about TV movie was “Sharknado.”

Everyone lied about Steve Carell returning for the series finale of “The Office” (they said he wouldn’t, and then he did).  Barbara Walters lied (seemingly) about her retirement (she said she wouldn’t, but then she announced she would) and about Elisabeth Hasselbeck leaving “The View” (Walters said Elisabeth wouldn’t be leaving and then Elisabeth left).

My favorite story of the year? Probably the feud Bill Maher ignited with Donald Trump when Maher comedically likened Trump’s orange hair to the fur of an orangutan.   The “feud” continued through at least three-quarters of the year, and I got five stories out of it stretching from January to September — here, here, here, here and here.

It was a year of sad news: Cory Monteith of “Glee” fatally overdosing at age 31, and James Gandolfini suddenly dying too, at age 51 — not that I ever met or knew either of them.

Casey Kasem

Casey Kasem

I am, or was, acquainted with Casey Kasem, and the stories emanating from his household this year about his relatives fighting over access to him while he suffers from what seems like a grave illness were also sad.  Though it’s been years since I last talked to him, I have always thought of him as one of the finest people I have ever come across in the broadcasting business.

The biggest ongoing story of 2013 was one that will be continued this coming February: The changes in late-night TV.  The ball got rolling last January when Jimmy Kimmel moved to 11:35 p.m. on ABC, followed by the announcement later in the year that Jay Leno would relinquish “The Tonight Show” to Jimmy Fallon.

Prediction: Fallon will do about as well as Conan O’Brien (if he’s lucky), although it’s not as likely that Jay Leno will come back this time.

A&E cancelled “Hoarders.”  And “Breaking Bad” had a series finale that everyone knew deep down was wholly implausible, and yet the “critics” gushed about it anyway.

I wrote slightly more than 600 stories in 2013, appeared on TV three times, and did six radio interviews — all on WOR in New York and five of them on “The Joan Hamburg Show,” which next year will be banished to weekends.  Alas.

I made two appearances in public, moderating seminars put on by the Center for Communication in New York.  Our panel of reality-TV execs from four cable channels last March was enlivened when a female questioner from our audience stepped up to the microphone we set up near the seats and, without hesitation, removed her shirt.  It was another first for me …

I met few celebrities and interviewed even fewer in 2013.  One exception was Lena Dunham, who was focused, intelligent and shrewd — a very good interview subject — when I met her at HBO last January.  I still don’t think I’ve ever watched an entire episode of “Girls,” however.

In July, I came to the realization that I have spent 30 years on the TV beat when I came across my first bylined TV story, a Q&A by phone with Joan Rivers, published on July 25, 1983, in the now-defunct trade newspaper called Broadcast Week.

I still cannot decide if this was a milestone worth celebrating.

Contact Adam Buckman: adambuckman14@gmail.com

Joan Rivers’ own tragic history on ‘The Simpsons’

December 5, 2011

Krusty the Clown and agent Annie Dubinsky (Joan Rivers) in last Sunday’s episode of “The Simpsons” on Fox (Photos: Fox)

By ADAM BUCKMAN

NEW YORK, Dec. 5, 2011 — “The Simpsons” crammed a ton of TV history into that new episode seen this past Sunday night on Fox — not only spoofing Ralph Kramden and “The Honeymooners” and other iconic shows — but also featuring a storyline for guest-star Joan Rivers that cut close to the bone.

It was a story about a top comedy talent headlining a network TV show and the show’s headstrong producer, with whom the comedian has a close personal relationship.  In the episode, the producer — played by Rivers — threw her weight around so much on the set that network execs ordered the comedian, Krusty the Clown, to fire her, or else they would.

The story, no doubt devised with Rivers’ approval and possibly with her input, mirrored her own personal history — with Fox, no less — back in 1987.  That’s when she starred in a late-night show on the then-fledgling network — “The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers” — while her husband, Edgar Rosenberg, acted as executive producer.  When Fox execs ordered her to fire Edgar, she refused and they were both canned.  Three months later, he committed suicide — the worst tragedy of Rivers’ life.

And yet, there she was on “The Simpsons” spoofing her own tragic history — something only a comedian of her stature and experience would attempt.

In the episode, Krusty’s kids show got cancelled because he was so sadly behind the times (even referring in a meeting with network executives to “Percy Dovetonsils,” a character not seen on TV since the late Ernie Kovacs played him in the 1950s).  So Krusty linked up with Annie Dubinsky (Rivers), who was once his agent and girlfriend in the 1960s until he dumped her.  This past Sunday, she engineered his comeback after the cancellation.  But then, he had to fire her.

The whole episode dealt with the history of television, starting out with a Simpson family outing to the Springfield Museum of Television, which was closing and holding a memorabilia fire sale because no one apparently cared anymore about the early history of TV.  And, as Homer lamented, you don’t need to visit a museum anymore to see clips of old shows when you have the Internet.

At the museum, the family encountered an exhibit devoted to an old — and fictional — black-and-white show from the ’50s called “Fatso Flanagan,” which bore more than a resemblance to the old “Honeymooners.”  Homer and Marge even mimicked the famed “Baby, you’re the greatest!” scenes from “The Honeymooners” as Homer described how almost every comedy ever made for TV was based somehow on “The Honeymooners.”

It was an incredibly rich episode, and one that ought to put to rest, at least for now, rumblings from some critics lately that “The Simpsons” ought to be put out to pasture.  All we can say to that is this: Not yet, Fox — not yet.

Contact Adam Buckman: adambuckman14@gmail.com


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