Saturday, March 28, 2015

MIKE ON KCRW: Discussing Empire, James Corden and SXSW on "Press Play"

On Monday's Press Play with Madeleine Brand, NPR's Linda Holmes and I discussed the "Empire" finale and more:
Empire has wrapped up its first season. Were fans satisfied with the finale, and can the show keep it fresh for season two? Also, pasty English comedian James Corden will host his first episode of The Late Late Show tonight, taking over from Craig Ferguson. We talk about that and more in our weekly television roundup.

Listen below:


On the March 16 edition of Press Play with Madeleine Brand, I called in from SXSW to talk about TV at the Austin festival and more:
The Jinx is obviously the biggest topic in TV today, but there’s a lot more going on in the land of the small screen. There are new shows premiering this week on television and at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, including the new season of Community in its new home on Yahoo. The interactive part of South by Southwest kicked off Friday -- and these days “interactive” includes online content and streaming as well as TV. We catch up on it all in our weekly television roundup.

Listen below:


Friday, March 27, 2015

Scenes from a Valley Cic-LA-Via


Back in November The Great Los Angeles Walk took on the Valley, walking Ventura east from Topanga Canyon all the way up Lankershim to North Hollywood. On Sunday, Cic-LA-via followed the tail end of that course, picking up from Coldwater Canyon. I brought along the Blogger Kid, and together we biked the entire route, 6 miles each way. As usual, it was a blast, and we had a chance to revisit some of the things we spied on foot back on the Walk. Some pics from the day:

The Cic-LA-via bus

A brass band joins in

Even E.T. and Elliott joined in!

Free books from the LA Public Library on this book bike (bookcycle?).

The Blogger Kid and I discussed the merits of this NoHo sign. I still find it gaudy, but he points out it's at least not boring.

No cars were being washed on Sunday!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

RIP, "Dr. George" Fischbeck, L.A.'s Colorful Weatherman

Dr. George
Dr. George

Rough year for local L.A. TV legends. First KTLA's Stan Chambers passed away, and now famed weatherman "Dr. George" Fischbeck, seen on KABC-Channel 7 for years, has died at 92.
Dr. George was such a household name in Southern California that, as you see above, by 1987 KABC wasn't even including his last name in his identification. In 2008, the L.A. Times caught up with Fischbeck, and he was still going strong as a docent at the L.A. Zoo and in other volunteer work. (Read it here.)

More from the L.A. Times:

George Fischbeck, a science teacher turned weatherman who joined KABC-TV in 1972 and spent nearly two decades exuberantly delivering the local forecast, has died. He was 92.

Fischbeck, who was known as "Dr. George," died of natural causes early Wednesday morning at the Motion Picture & Television Fund retirement home in Woodland Hills, his daughter, Nancy Fischbeck, said.

A trained meteorologist, George Fischbeck was so enthusiastic about his subject that he sometimes forgot to talk about the next day's weather.

"I must begin with an apology," Fischbeck said on a 1978 broadcast. "Last Friday we got carried away again and we got everything in but the forecast."

When the rare inclement weather threatened Los Angeles, his newscast's ratings went up as viewers tuned in to see a seemingly real-life Mr. Wizard — complete with thick black-rimmed glasses, animated mustache and signature bow tie — race around the set.

Some people considered Fischbeck's weathercasts "madcap performances," according to a 1978 Times profile with the headline "Blue Skies for Dr. George." The "doctor" referred to an honorary degree from the University of Albuquerque.

"I'm Channel 7's father image," Fischbeck said in 1978 while insisting that he was not its comedian because he refused to do jokes. "I am not a phony. I am not manufactured or contrived."

He did, however, once call attention to the beginning of March by hauling a lion and a lamb into the TV studio.

The cult of personality that prevailed on local television in the 1970s "seemed to have reached a zenith" at KABC by 1979 when Fischbeck began receiving even wider play on the local news to exploit his huge following, former TV columnist Howard Rosenberg wrote in The Times.

In a 1981 report, People magazine compared Fischbeck to "a caged lion" who "stalks the weather map, prowls the sound stage ... and explodes into a frenzy of animation while delivering his forecasts. He candidly admits that cameramen should get hazard pay for trying to keep up with him."

Watch a Fischbeck weathercast here:

And check out this five-part feature from Dr. George and KABC on how the TV news is made:

Monday, March 23, 2015

From the Archives of TV Guide Magazine: The 1995 Launch of "The Late Late Show"

James Corden

For TV Guide Magazine I recently spoke with James Corden, the new host of CBS' "The Late Late Show." We had a fun chat in his Television City office, and of course, his charm offensive worked beautifully. Self-effacing, quick-witted and a seemingly nice bloke, you can't help but root for the guy. Read my Q&A with him at TV Insider here.

Meanwhile, from the pages of TV Guide Magazine, here's how we covered the January 9, 1995 launch of the original "The Late Late Show," hosted by Tom Snyder:

Late Late Show

Late Late Show

MIKE ON KCRW: Interviewing Author Michael Connelly for "The Business"

Michael Connelly

On last week's episode of KCRW's The Business, I interviewed author Michael Connelly, whose book series about L.A. homicide detective Harry Bosch has been turned into the Amazon series "Bosch." Amazon just ordered season 2:
Detective Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch first started solving crimes for the LAPD Hollywood Division in the 1992 novel The Black Echo.

Twenty three years later, author Michael Connelly is still dispatching Bosch to LA's darkest corners. He's working on his 18th Harry Bosch novel as we speak.

In all that time, there's never been a Bosch movie. Connelly sold the rights to Paramount in 1995, and while several scripts were written, the film ultimately never got made.

Two other Connelly novels, Blood Work and The Lincoln Lawyer, were made into movies, but Connelly didn't have much involvement with those adaptations.

But now, Connelly has his rights back and the detective finally has his on-screen debut with the new Amazon series Bosch. The show draws on storylines from three of the novels in the series and has the busy, tormented detective tracking down a serial killer while dealing with a lawsuit against him for killing a suspect in another case.

Connelly is very involved with the show. He's an executive producer who's hands-on and on set. He was even the one who suggested Titus Welliver play the title role. Connelly sat down with TV Guide's Michael Schneider, host of KCRW's The Spin-off, to talk about how his most famous character finally found a home at Amazon, the blessing and curse of not knowing ratings, and the awkward moment of making a show with a company that is also feuding with your book publisher.

Listen by clicking below!

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