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SUNDAY, February 22, 2009

Human Resource Reduction

The Real McCoys, produced by Danny Thomas, aired on ABC Television from 1957 to 1963. The show, one of the most successful early sitcoms, starred Walter Brennan as Grampa, Richard Crenna as his son, Luke, and Kathy Nolan as Luke's wife, Kate. They had two kids, Hassie and Little Luke and a handyman named Pepino.

Many of the scripts for The Real McCoys were written by my friend, the late Everett Greenbaum and his partner Jim Fritzell. In his delightful autobiography The Goldenberg Who Couldn't Dance (Harcourt Brace Janovich 1980), Ev wrote this passage which, I think, sums up the ephemeral quality of success in Hollywood:

The audience watching a successful TV show in one evening is larger than the total audience for the entire run of most movies. An actor appearing weekly in a series receives overwhelming fame and adulation. If he appears in a public place, mobbing is possible. New friends come out of the woodwork. Hangers-on tell him that he alone is responsible for the popularity of the show; never mind the writers, the other actors, the director, producer and film editors.

Now, since he is well known, he gets offers to appear in motion pictures and plays, the things he has always wanted to do. But instead, he is a prisoner in a dark, drafty TV sound stage for 60 hours a week.His agents and business managers step in. The actor is unhappy. More money is demanded and granted. The unhappiness persists. New demands! A lush dressing room. More time off. And so forth. This is the injustice syndrome.

On The Real McCoys, Kathy Nolan, who played Kate, had it bad. After several years on the show, she refused to renew her contract unless she got even more money, script approval, and the opportunity to direct. Irving Pincus [the Pincus brothers, Norman and Irving, produced the show] called us in.“

"Boys," he said, "at the opening of the next show, Grampa and Luke have just returned from Kate's funeral. Go home and write it as fast as you can."”As we went out the door, he stopped us. “As long as you're at it, let's drop the kids. Little Luke can be away in the Army and Hassie's off to college."

I'll never forget the opening line we wrote for the next script. Grampa and Luke come in the front door. “"I just don't understand it, Grampa," Luke says. "It all happened so fast!”
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KBLG 7 Action News

From the KBLG Newsroom in Los Angeles, here is anchor, Blitz Wolfman…

(UP ON BLITZ AT ANCHOR DESK)

BLITZ

Hello. I’m Blitz Wolfman and this is the news… President Barack Obama made his first official state visit to a foreign country on Thursday, but not before asking his new attorney general for a legal ruling that Canada is, indeed, a foreign country. Convinced that it is, Obama boarded Air Force One and flew to Ottawa for a seven-hour visit, during which he engaged in high level talks with Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper at Parliament Hill. The two leaders discussed the North American Free Trade Agreement, the war in Afghanistan and Canada’s vast oil reserves before Obama delivered an official apology for the eight years of George W. Bush. According to aides, he plans to do the same during all future visits to U.S. allies, apologizing to Mexico for Dick Cheney, England for Donald Rumsfeld and France for Condoleezza Rice. If he ever gets to Ethiopia, they’ll get one for Karl Rove. The president hopes it will become a tradition that will extend far beyond his two terms… In a show of reciprocal good will, Harper awarded Canada’s coveted Nelson Eddy Cup to Alex Trebek. Surrounded by a double line of Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Obama laid a wreath at the Tomb of Peter Jennings before boarding Air Force One for the flight home… In a report to the president delivered yesterday, the Pentagon has concluded that the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay meets the standards for humane treatment established by the Geneva Convention accords. The report, signed by Admiral Patrick M. Walsh, assures Obama that all water-boarding is strictly carried out by guards using pure, bottled water --- never, or almost never, with water obtained from the tap which has been determined by Cuban Public Health officials to contain harmful bacteria. Moreover, the report contends, any fingernails extracted during interrogations are cleaned, buffed and polished by a Pentagon-approved manicurist prior to being returned to the detainee. However, human rights activists say this directly contradicts charges lodged last month with the International Red Cross by detainee Muhammad Abdul “Stubby” Ali-Baba… Secretary of State Hillary Clinton concluded a week-long tour of Asia with a stop in Beijing. She reportedly asked several high-ranking Chinese officials if they are satisfied with Barack Obama’s conduct so far as he attempts to extricate his Chinese-owned country from imminent financial ruin. The officials appeared to be cordial and ready to defer payment on billions of outstanding loans currently being used to keep the U.S. afloat. They continue to insist that they will allow American leaders to manage their own international affairs although they will, according to a UN interpreter, “voice suggestions from time to time regarding the conduct of the government.” When Clinton raised the topic of China’s treatment of Tibet, she was reminded of the record of Texas with regard to execution rates. The discussion apparently concluded in a stalemate. And now, here’s Biff Ridgely with sports…
(CUT TO BIFF)
BIFF
Thank you, Blitz. Good news for Michael Phelps. After being dropped as an official spokesman for Kellogg, he got news today that the bong he was pictured smoking pot in was sold on e-bay for $368,244 and, under his endorsement deal with Recreational Thongs ‘n’ Bongs of North America, Inc., he’ll receive one-third of the proceeds. On Friday, Bill Maher said in his opening monologue on HBO that “ Michael’s pot smoking wasn’t nearly as harmful as the chlorine he’s been marinating in his whole swimming career.” Good point, Bill. Now A-Rod is demanding equal time and Michael Vick hopes Bill is a dog-owner… Manager Joe Torre blames his “naiveté” for not noticing Alex Rodriguez‘s long-running steroid use. The Velcro strip installed on A-Rod’s ball cap to allow it to be enlarged three inches per season was, according to Joe, “something I should have noticed -- especially when the bat boy started using the brim for shade.”… NASCAR’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. insists that he didn’t intend to “wreck all them cars” at last weekend’s Daytona 500 and denied persistent rumors that he’ll soon promote dental health south of the Mason-Dixon Line with a new sponsor, “1-800-DENTIST” and that he’ll rename his car “The Joy of Novocain.” Meanwhile, Matt Kenseth’s crew chief, Earl-Billy Fester, denied he was fined by NASCAR officials for failing to wear shoes in the pits, a clear violation of the rules. He also denied reports that he may leave Kenseth for Brian Vickers’ Team White Trash. That’s KBLG sports to the hour. Back to you, Blitz…
(CUT TO BLITZ)
BLITZ
Thanks, Biff. And here are some stories we’re working on for the eleven… Price-Waterhouse is denying charges that they tampered with Academy Award votes and that the actual winner for “Best Picture” on Sunday’s telecast was Paul Blart Mall Cop… Barbara Walters is wearing a neck brace she claims is the result of a hammerlock Mickey Rourke threw on her following her Sunday night interview of the Oscar nominee. Film at eleven right here on KBLG Action News!
(FADE TO COMMERCIAL)
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DOLORES HOPE MEDLEY

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BOB HOPE'S 1983 U.S. COLLEGE CAMPUS TOUR: Your Alma Mater Here?

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