Friday, October 31, 2008

ION Television November Highlights; Fox Cancels King of the Hill, Renews American Dad!

Happy Halloween! Don't forget to tune in to the best Halloween marathon of the day in WGN America's Munsters marathon from 4pm-12am ET. Nick at Nite also has a Halloween marathon tonight with Halloween episodes of Home Improvement, George Lopez and Family Matters from 10pm-1am tonight. Be scared of laughs!

ION Television has announced its November 2008 schedule finally and ER is now officially off the line-up. ER hasn't aired since October 6, with ION making changes each week that it would not air...and now it is official, it is gone. Mondays at 10pm replacing ER will be another episode of NCIS, which will still also air Mondays and Tuesdays at 9pm. Replacing ER Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10pm will be more Boston Legal. Boston Legal will still also air Mon-Thurs 8pm and Wednesdays 9pm. It seems ER was a dud for ION in the ratings. In other changes, ION has added an additional airing for Warner Bros. movies, airing now also Fridays 5-7pm ET. in addition to Thursday in primetime. Warner movis for November are Casino, Antitrust, Young Guns II, and yet again Above the Law.
RHI Weekend movies include the premiere of Archangel tomorrow night from 8-11pm ET and the premiere of The Color of Magic on Sunday, November 23 from 7-11pm ET. RHI movie encores include recent movies such as Final Approach, Lone Rider, Prairie Fever, and two McBride movies.
On Sunday, November 9, in addition to its regular 6-7pm airing, M*A*S*H will also air 7-8pm leading into the encore of Archangel from 8-11pm. ION has not yet announced what they will do for the Thanksgiving week (November 24-30). If they are doing anything out of the ordinary, we will let you know.
For now view the ION Television November 2008 schedule and highlights.

Fox has canceled King of the Hill after thirteen production seasons. What do I mean by "production seasons?" Well, right now it is actually in its 13th season, but they are still airing episodes form the 12th season. These animated series produce episodes well in advance and all way far ahead in production. For example Fox still has a lot of episodes from the 12th cycle to air and could start some of the 13th cycle by the end of this season. The 13th cycle has 13 episodes, and so these will be the final 13 episodes. Most of these will air NEXT season (2009-2010), so while King of the Hill has been canceled, it still will have episodes airing next season, unless Fox decides not to air them for some reason (which I doubt). I guess it all depends on how the new mid-season animated comedies Sit Down, Shut Up and The Cleveland Show do.
Meanwhile, Fox has renewed American Dad! for a fifth production season. The series is currently airing episodes from late in its third production season (but it is in its fourth season). Episodes from the fourth production season start airing in early December, so they'll air most of the fourth production season this season. So American Dad! will be on the air until at least through the end of 2010. Good news for fans, as the series has not made head way in the ratings. Anything beyond the fifth production season all depends on how new mid-season animated comedies Sit Down, Shut Up and The Cleveland Show do.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

ABC's According to Jim Returns For Season Eight; Fox Dumps 'Til Death; RTN Coming to Jacksonville and Memphis

ABC is bringing back the Jim Belushi sitcom According to Jim for an eighth season this December. Starting Tuesday, December 2, 2008, According to Jim will air back-to-back new episodes for the entire month at 9:00pm & 9:30pm ET. On December 2, it will follow the holiday classic Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town, but it is unclear as of now what its lead-in will be for the rest of the month (likely to be holiday specials though). We will have more on all the network holiday specials at a later date on our annual network Christmas/holiday specials post. As for According to Jim, it was renewed for an eighth season pretty late and ABC has ordered 18 new episodes, including a Christmas episode! ABC will likely air them all in December and January. As of now, Scrubs and new animated comedy The Goode Family are slated to launch in the hour in January, but that could change. Scrubs promos already have started airing, saying "coming soon to ABC.

As for 'Til Death, Fox has pulled the comedy effective immediately and there are no signs of a return in November or December. Effective next Wednesday (Nov. 5), repeats of House will air in the slot in November. In December, Fox will launch new six hour reality-game show Secret Millionaire on Wednesday, December 3 from 8-10pm, before airing Wednesday (Dec. 10 and 17) at 8pm the following week, so Bones will move from 8 to 9pm. Secret Millionaire will also air Thursdays at 8pm on Dec. 11 & 18 followed by special Thursday airings of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? at 9pm, as Kitchen Nightmares will have its season finale on Dec. 4.
So no sign of a return for the low rated Brad Garrrett sitcom 'Til Death. We'll keep you up to date.

Newport Television's Fox affiliate WAWS Jacksonville, Florida and The CW affiliate WLMT Memphis, TN will offer Retro Television Network's programming lineup of classic TV shows on digital subchannels soon. RTN is a television network that provides each affiliate a customized feed with classic hit shows, in addition to local programming including news, weather and sports. RTN is specifically designed to go on a broadcast digital channel.
Shows currently on RTN include 21 Jump Street, Adam 12, Airwolf, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The A-Team, Kojak, Knight Rider, Leave it to Beaver, Jack Benny, Kate & Allie, Bachelor Father, Harry and the Hendersons, That's Incredible, McHale's Navy, Dragnet, and more!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

SitcomsOnline.com Exclusive: Interview with Lydia Cornell; And Lydia Unleashed

We have a very exciting interview for you today. We have an interview with Lydia Cornell...one of the stars on the '80s sitcom Too Close for Comfort and now she is on the radio dial on her talk show Basham and Cornell Radio Live. Catch Too Close for Comfort tonight at 8pm ET/5pm PT on WGN America! As always with our interviews, it is in Seven Questions form!

We had the pleasure to interview Lydia Cornell - actress, writer, author, producer and radio host. Is there anything this woman can't do? She co-starred as Ted Knight's daughter in the role of Sara Rush on the ABC television situation comedy Too Close for Comfort, where she won a People's Choice Award, and most recently appeared on HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm. Cornell was a Best Actress nominee at Method Fest, which honors outstanding acting performances, for her leading role in the AFI indie Miss Supreme Queen.

We thank Lydia for taking the time to answer some of the most interesting questions we have for her...and her responses were so amazing that we gave her more space on our blog at the end in "Lydia Unleashed." So it is time for another installment of SitcomsOnline's Seven Questions Series! We seriously STILL need a jingle. Any takers out there? How about a Too Close for Comfort style jingle?

"Seven Questions with Lydia Cornell"
Lydia in 2008 Lydia in 1980
SitcomsOnline: We thank you for your time and it is an honor to speak with you! You are of course most remembered by TV fans for your role as Sara Rush, the sexy & beautiful daughter of Ted Knight's Henry Rush on the ABC sitcom Too Close for Comfort. Can you share with us how you got the role?
Lydia Cornell: Thank you! It's great to speak with you, too. I really love SitcomsOnline. My audition for Too Close for Comfort was a comedy of errors. I was half an hour late; it had been raining, I had taken the wrong bus -- and by the time I got there the producers were ready to go home. They had seen 400 girls already for the part of Sara Rush (formerly called "Susan") and they were burned out. I was literally the last girl they saw.
When I walked into the office, the casting director told me I was too late -- that they had already picked four girls for the final callback the next day at the network. I was on the verge of tears when the producer Arne Sultan, came out, took one look at me and said, "What the hell, let her read!" He must have felt sorry for me -- bedraggled, soaking wet. I followed him into an office where there were two other executive producers, one of whom introduced himself as Tom Werner of ABC.
At the end of my reading, there was a direction in the script that said: "Sara gives dad a raspberry." So I picked up an imaginary raspberry and thrust it at Mr. Sultan who was reading lines with me. He looked at me like I was from outer space and said, "What the f--- are you handing me? What the hell is this?" I said, "It's a raspberry. I'm giving you a raspberry like it says in the script." He started cracking up, "Where are you from -- did you just fall off the turnip truck? Don't you know what a raspberry is in show business?" He proceeded to put his lips together, stick his tongue out and blow out the most obnoxious sound. "It's a Bronx cheer!" They all laughed and one of them said, "This girl is exactly what we're looking for. We want you to come into ABC tomorrow for the final callback."
The next day I went to the network wearing a very sweet, virginal-looking flowered dress. All the other girls were in extremely tight T-shirts with their nipples showing. When the casting director called me into the room, I was awestruck to see Ted Knight sitting on the couch, along with several network executives. I hadn't been around Hollywood long enough to realize how scary this was standing in front of a firing squad. Imagine several characters like "Ari" from Entourage sitting there judging you. Ted got up, introduced himself and said "Let's read together, shall we?" I don't remember how I got the lines out, but there were huge laughs at each line I read, at the end there was a burst of applause. Arne Sultan said, "Will you please wait outside." A few minutes later they ushered me back in and said, "It's not protocol to tell an actor without telling her agent first, but we want you to know you got the part!"

Lydia Reunited with the Cast of Too Close for Comfort
SitcomsOnline: Wow, what a story that was! Do you have good memories from the show and do you have a few favorite episodes that you can share? It seems that the cast still gets together and has fun as we saw on the DVD special features?
Lydia Cornell: I have great memories of the show and lots of hilarious ones. I used to have a crush on Jim Bullock and would go to work every day with butterflies in my stomach. (I heard it's okay to have butterflies in your stomach as long as they're flying in formation.) Laughter is my favorite drug and Jimmy made me laugh until I couldn't see straight. I was crushed when I found out he was gay, but then we became the best of friends.
Not long ago, I guest-starred on HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm with Seinfeld creator Larry David -- who made me laugh so hard I almost couldn't speak; he's a comic genius. So was Ted Knight, of course. He taught me wondrous things, like how to do a "spit-take" without drooling. It's similar to a double take, while holding a cup to your lips.
Deborah and I were very close from day one. I met her at the network audition. She told me she had worked in New York City for a certain shipping company. It turned out she had worked for my dad -- although we lived in Holland at the time. We were both blown away when we discovered that she had been working with my dad via telex in Holland on a daily basis. Out of all the millions of people and jobs in New York City! Of course there are no coincidences.
I recently wrote and produced a film called Venus Conspiracy with Deborah Van Valkenburgh starring as my abusive therapist sister. We got to finish fighting from the old days - with dialogue that was really juicy. Deb and I could not stop laughing; we have such great chemistry and she said the lines EXACTLY as I had imagined them. I want to make the feature film and a series based on this movie with both of us playing sisters again!
Even though we had a love-hate relationship, I really miss Ted, who died of prostate cancer in the last year of our show. At Ted's funeral I sat on the first row and sobbed uncontrollably as Mary Tyler Moore spoke. And I also miss John Ritter, who used to pop his head in and make us laugh between rehearsals for the Three's Company spin-off, Three's a Crowd. And then there was the legendary Audrey Meadows who played my grandmother. She had starred as Jackie Gleason's wife Alice in The Honeymooners. It's hard to believe all these great comedic actors are gone.
As for my favorite episodes, I love the one in which Jackie and Sara have a pizza fight. She scratches my records and I smear her dry cleaning with pizza. That was a great show because the we got to have several scenes without the grownups.
We heard that it worried Ted that we had so many big scenes without him. The producers were afraid we were developing our own following, which might lead the network to develop a "Jackie and Sara" show someday. They used us to raise the ratings with younger viewers. From then on, they tried to marginalize our roles. That's when they came up with a baby for Ted and Nancy. They also beefed up Jim Bullock's role - so the girls were expendable. Monroe was the perfect foil to Henry Rush. I always think that Ted enjoyed having Jim as the "idiot punching bag" as he been the same kind of punching bag as bumbling newscaster Ted Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. But I can't believe they didn't realize they could have built up a successful franchise with the Jackie and Sara characters.
I like the episode with the live lion. Monroe and I are making a movie in our house and we bring in animals. The cookie episode where we start a cookie business is another goodie. The one where I get a job as a waitress and have to wear lamb chop underwear with ruffles is another favorite. I hold a pillow over my skirt to hide from Ted. The one where I am the weathergirl and can't get my states right. I love the part when I popped someone on the head with a lint brush. I also loved the episode where Sara tries out for the newscaster job and has to comment about Middle East peace talks by saying: "We could have a war on our hands if these peace talks don't get started. And that is only going to drive up the price of bagels and gasoline."
And yes we do reunite often! Deb and I just went to the Too Close for Comfort reunion party hosted by Arne Sultan and Leonard Stern's long-time assistant Donna. Jim, Deb and I just got together for Jim's summer party in August. Pink Flamingos was the motif. He is as funny as ever. Just got an email from him -- he's in Kansas doing a play.

SitcomsOnline: It is too bad that the show is not in syndication anymore (however, you can watch four episodes TONIGHT on WGN America from 8-10pm ET/5-7pm PT) and the DVDs were halted after just two seasons, any reason why? Have you heard any new rumblings on at least when we can expect the DVDs to continue? I think you told me before that you guys had shot the extras for the next set or two?
Lydia Cornell: The truth is, I have no idea. It feels as if Don Taffner (DLT Entertainment) has deliberately stopped syndicating our show. It's from a more innocent time in history, which I think would be a nice change right now for younger kids. I mean Saved by the Bell is still on and it sure looks dated! I don't see why they won't syndicate our show on Nick at Nite or some other network.
I heard that Rhino, the division of Warner Home Media that produced our DVDs, folded and was absorbed into the parent company. But I wish they'd release the rest of the DVDs. Another theory is this: Maybe the Ted Knight estate owns such a large percentage of the show that it isn't profitable for Don Taffner or any DVD company to produce it anyway. Maybe the profit split would be unprofitable for them. It's always about money.
Deborah, Jim and I did commentary on Season 3 - which is my favorite season. It's odd that they didn't really promote our DVD release. But what I find odd is that Rhino was only interested in promoting Jim Bullock on all the postcards and giveaways. Deborah and I have been available to do PR and advertising. Here's what's going to happen: once my book comes out (more on this below in our "Lydia Unleashed" story), the movie is launched (Venus Conspiracy) and our show starts filming (based on the movie), Too Close for Comfort will come back.
In May of 2008, Paramount/Viacom called us to do a Too Close For Comfort Reunion Show for Entertainment Tonight. But then they suddenly cancelled the reunion.

Lydia with her Too Close for Comfort co-star Deborah Van Valkenburgh
SitcomsOnline: Last question on Too Close for Comfort...what was the deal that you and Deborah Van Valkenburgh were written out of the show for the last season when Henry and Muriel moved out of San Francisco to a newspaper in Marin County and was retitled The Ted Knight Show? If Monroe (Jim Bullock) got to go, why not you and Deborah? Unfortunately, Ted Knight passed away at the end of that season, do you remember your last memories of Ted and what your thoughts are of him in general?
Lydia Cornell: That was a horrible decision on the producers' part. First, Deb dropped out and didn't want to do a final year. She was always more interested in doing theater and darker roles. But I loved comedy and wanted to stay on. Then Arne Sultan died and new producers came on board whose sole purpose was to satisfy Ted - who had an ownership stake. Since the network never got to develop the Jackie and Sara characters, and our value had been diminished in the last couple of years - the new producers were simply resistant to upsetting Ted. And they didn't realize the value of the Sara character without Jackie. It was like willful ignorance. But to be honest, we had the hardest time ever feeling like they cared about "the girls" on that show. They were constantly trying to push us aside and make us feel expendable. I remember we had these amazing writers for one season - Jeff Reno and Ron Osbourne - who wrote great shows for Sara and Jackie. They were fired for being too talented! They went on to write and create Moonlighting. I have the greatest respect for writers. All the writers on the show were wonderful -- especially Earl Barret and Arne Sultan. Also we were honored to have the gifted and amazing duo of Rocky and Irma Kalish, they wrote Gilligan's Island, Bob Newhart, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis shows, Facts of Life, and tons of classic sitcoms. Irma was President of Writer's Guild America West and is one of the first women to become a producer of a TV show... a woman's activist. We also had Doug Arango and Phil Doran -- who had written All in the Family.
The funny thing is, I would have done the show for free - but my managers at the time were negotiating my contract for more money. I cringed over this, begging them to stop. The producers were so mad they started playing games and wrote me out of one episode - the one with Cousin April and guest star Robert Mandan, who played Ted's brother.
I think that once Arne died, Ted was free to design the show his way. Originally I was so hurt. I thought they decided to get rid of the girls because Ted Knight didn't particularly like us having any clout and a possible spin-off. Who knows? I have grown to forgive and love Ted, but I think the new producers made a mistake.

SitcomsOnline: During and after your stint on Too Close for Comfort you had some memorable guest starring roles on series like The A-Team and Knight Rider for an episode. And my were you stunning on those shows (who could forget that blue outfit on The A-Team!)! How was it being a sex symbol in the '80s? And you still are a sex symbol!
Lydia Cornell: Thank you so much! That is very sweet of you. I was so shy, it was difficult wearing those short-shorts and high heels. It's hard to be a woman in Hollywood unless you're lucky enough to thrive on humiliation. But laughing at myself and writing comedy kept me sane.
I really loved doing action shows. I wish Steven J. Cannell and Don Bellisario would clone themselves, come back and do more of these. I also played a race car owner in the Duke of Hazzard 2-hour CBS movie.
It's weird but David Hemmings, the iconic actor from films like Blow Up and Gladiator directed me in three action shows: A-Team, Hardball and the pilot for Quantum Leap. I was such a pushover I was talked into doing my own stunts on all these shows.
On A-Team Hemmings talked me letting the helicopter come so close to my head it was frightening. He said I didn't need a stuntwoman. Quantum Leap was a wild experience. When I got the part, no one told me we'd be staying out in Lancaster at Edwards Airforce Base for two weeks (where we hung out with the Blue Angels and got a sneak peak at the Stealth Bomber) so all I brought was my toothbrush. When the Teamsters van picked me up at Universal Studios at 5 AM, I wondered why everyone else had so much luggage. When we got there they took me shopping at Target for pajamas and stuff. I had dark hair at the time, long chocolate-colored hair down my back. The first day of shooting, Don Bellisario comes in the makeup trailer and says: "I need all the women to have short hair. This takes place in the 1950's and women didn't have long hair." None of us could believe he didn't mention this earlier - and none of us wanted to cut our hair off. So the hairstylist searched all over Lancaster for a wig shop. We finally found a short dark wig, which I wore in the film.
I also did Hunter -- where the director James Whitmore, Jr., talked me into doing my own stunts. I had to dive into icy Lake Malibu and swim up to the boat that Fred Dreyer and I would have our make-out scene on. What was really annoying was they forgot to put a ladder down so I could gracefully climb out of the water and into the boat. There was a camera on me from another boat, aimed right at my butt. As I swam up, my feet couldn't find any ladder so I got sucked under the boat, then had to grapple around, pull my body up and throw one leg onto the deck while wiggling on board - trying to appear attractive from behind! As I'm about to drown all I'm thinking about is how my ass looks!

SitcomsOnline: It has been known that you had a drinking problem but it is so good to hear that you are now a recovering alcoholic and had your last drink in 1994. How did this affect you personally and in your career having this drinking problem?
Lydia Cornell: I never drank when I was working (except during Christmas with David Hasselhoff when we were filming Knight Rider) but I had a few close calls on auditions. I actually fell down on top of a major director! Auditions made me so nervous.
My book will describe the crash, burn and surrender - and how I got to the other side. I had a catastrophic spiritual awakening and haven't had a drink or a craving to drink since September 11, 1994 - when I walked into a women's recovery group meeting. You will not believe the amazing thing that happened to me that day. It's hard to talk about this because it appears to exist in the realm of the magical - but this gave me concrete, tangible evidence of a loving force in the universe. And now I've finally figured out the key to activating these miracles, which are really natural laws.
I have now been sober for 14 years - the same age as my son. When I say sober, I mean "spiritually whole" in a way you cannot be when you try to just quit drinking by "white-knuckling" it, so to speak. The amazing thing is the gift of helping others stay sober too. We are all plagued by the "fame" drug.
It has been the best thing that ever happened to me. Now I am grateful for each day - and though the demons come back at times, I now have an unshakable higher power to lean on - the guiding principle of the universe.
I've never publicly spoken about this to anyone outside of recovery circles, but I've often stopped to wonder 'how did these seemingly miraculous events happen?' There was one common element: surrender. When I gave up fighting, the outside picture totally changed. But what is the metaphysics of surrender? How did an inner change affect an outer result? As Einstein said, "No problem can be solved at the same level it was created on." You can't fight fire with fire; you can't cure alcoholism with more alcohol or drugs - you have to go to a spiritual or diplomatic solution. Or as George Carlin put it, "Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity."

Basham and Cornell Radio Live
SitcomsOnline: Finally, I must say you have become very successful in your new career! The radio show Basham and Cornell Radio Live in Las Vegas is a success and shows off how smart you really are. It is big in Las Vegas and also nationwide on the Internet at BashamandCornell.com. How did you get involved with politics and this radio program? Do you see yourself doing this for the rest of your life and do you still plan on acting from time to time? And to everyone, Lydia has her own website and blog as well at LydiaCornell.com and also has written a novel, if you can share a bit on those as well.
Lydia Cornell: Thank you! Our show is amazing. We hope to have Richard Belzer on next week and Larry Charles soon. He directed Borat, Religulous and lots of Seinfeld episodes. Recent guests on our show include: CNN's Paul Begala, (Senior Clinton Advisor); MSNBC's Pat Buchanan (Former Reagan advisor) John Dean, Pulitzer Prize winner Charlie Savage, Senator Tom Daschle, Bill Press, NBC Bureau Chief in Tel Aviv Martin Fletcher, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, John & Elizabeth Edwards, Rep. Dennis & Elizabeth Kucinich, Congressman Charlie Rangel,Valerie Plame, Vincent Bugliosi, Christine Pelosi, Senator Mike Gravel; Senator Byron Dorgan; bestselling authors, celebrities and more.
Yes, I will continue to act! I was just up for a couple of roles on Entourage. I am writing a trilogy of funny books, a TV series and the big movie version of Venus Conspiracy. Like My Big Fat Greek Wedding's Nia Vardalos, I plan to play a role in this.
I also do standup and am co-starring in a new comedy show I wrote with Stephanie Hodge (Unhappily Ever After, Nurses) and Destiny (The Tonight Show, VH-1, MTV) called Pain is Inevitable, Sex Optional” We had our first stage show on Saturday night and it was great!
The novel is an historical thriller called The Sylvia Plan which has taken me several lifetimes to finish. It is about the Trotsky assassination, the Spanish Civil War and a love triangle. Right now it's on the back burner, but will definitely be out after the other books are published.

Our thanks to Lydia Cornell for her time and this opportunity. You can listen to her every weekday morning on Basham and Cornell Radio Live at 8am PT on KLAV or nationwide on http://www.bashamandcornell.com/, and check out Lydia's own website and blog at http://www.lydiacornell.com/.
And don't forget to watch Too Close for Comfort tonight on WGN America from 8-10pm ET (5-7pm PT). If you've never watched it, you are in for a treat...good writing, good comedy, and Lydia Cornell. Enough said! Stay tuned right here on the blog for continued news on Lydia and Too Close for Comfort!


Holy continuation, Batman! Lydia Cornell is not done yet! We have more from Lydia as she was very nice enough to share more stories and insight. So we're calling this "Lydia Unleashed." She is sharing some stories for the first time ever, so you will want to read more from Lydia! Holy exclusives! Time to get unleashed with Lydia Cornell. That is good thing! Unleash the hounds!

Lydia Cornell Unleashed
Lydia in Jeans!

Lydia on her relationship with Ted Knight...
I had grown up watching Ted Knight on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and I was star-struck by him. He was a comedy legend and I was blessed to have learned the ropes from him. But Ted was hostile toward me and I didn't know why at the time. During our dialogue scenes I was afraid to look him in the eyes, so I'd look at his forehead. He'd stand on his toes to get into my line of vision. I was so nervous I'd fidget and one time I scratched my nose on his punch line. He would yell to the director's booth, "Why is she moving on my line!" They had to stop taping. From then on whenever anybody spoke, I froze. The director became upset that I was too stiff and Ted started a rumor that they were going to replace me with a prop. The National Enquirer sent spies to the set. One time Ted was yelling that I was late to the set, but the truth was that Violet, our wonderful wardrobe designer, was trying to button the pearl buttons on my blouse and it was taking too long. In the tabloids the next week I was accused of holding up production on the set because I was "primping" when I was actually crying while she was buttoning me up!
I have a really funny Merv Griffin story when the whole cast was on his show. Deborah and I were so nervous being on our first talk show we got into a lot of trouble. Deb blurted out a weird secret about Ted and Merv exploded with his lascivious laugh, warning: "Stay tuned and we'll find out what Deborah means when Lydia Cornell, the youngest member of the Rush family comes out!" Then I came out and made it worse! Ted's jaw dropped open in horror and they had to stop taping. Sorry but you'll have to wait another day for the conclusion of this...

Lydia on going to Beirut on a USO tour...
Audrey Meadows is the one who convinced me to go to Beirut, Lebanon on a USO tour with Johnny Grant, the Mayor of Hollywood, during Christmas 1982. Bob Hope had eye trouble that year. This was the most amazing experience - flying into a war zone, being picked up by paratroopers during a blackout, driving through mine fields during a blackout, being choppered onto aircraft carriers and staying above the bombed out remains of the Beirut Carlton. I met Capt. Dale Dye and sang Christmas carols with all the sailors and Marines.
After we left the Middle East, a suicide bomber drove a truck into the Marine barracks and blew up 251 of the best and brightest of the 24th MAU. I received letters from the sons of these soldiers, and years later I got a letter that broke my heart. It was from a 13-year-old boy who had been a toddler when his dad died, and the boy himself was now dying of cancer. He thought I might have met his father before the bombing, and wanted any memories I might have. A disabled combat marine vet sent me his Purple Heart last year for writing that article about Ann Coulter. (More about this below.)

Lydia on the daily happenings on the Too Close for Comfort set...
First Season Cast Photo of Too Close for Comfort
There is something about seeing yourself on TV for the first time that makes you want to put a bag over your head and jump off a cliff. Contrary to what people believed, I never used drugs on the set, just Liquid Paper to whiten my teeth. This was before teeth whiteners. One day Ted Knight came into my dressing room and caught me blow-drying my teeth. This was the 80's, the era of giant shoulder pads and aircraft carrier hairdos. You could land a plane on my head. In fact, it looked like a 747 was permanently parked there, the wingspan was so huge.
I was supposed to be the blonde bombshell of our show, so I had to stay very thin. Backstage, as on every film and TV set, there was a huge buffet of food they kept replenishing. It was covered with bagels, donuts, cookies, coffee cake, popcorn, chips, ice cream and soft drinks - but I wasn't allowed to eat any of it. There were spies everywhere. One day I left the soundstage, ventured into the outside world and bought a burrito, a taco, and bag of M&M's. I was sneaking back to my dressing room when Arne Sultan appeared out of nowhere. He caught me with all the food and yelled, "Don't you know you're a sex symbol!? You can't eat starch!" (This was before the word 'carbs.') The food went flying into the air and landed all over both of us.
After the first episode aired, the producers took me aside and said my face looked chubby. To make it look thinner, for the second episode I used lift tape to pull up my cheeks until I looked practically Chinese. I think it lifted my vocal chords in the process because my voice got higher and higher until I sounded like Minnie Mouse. But maybe this was just nerves.
I am writing a book about all my humiliating adventures in Hollywood and on the show, and there are so many funny ones to choose from. We were all very immature (as most comic actors are) and we would goof around during rehearsals. One day Ted, Jim, Nancy, Deb and I got into a conversation about sex. I think John Ritter had come to visit that day. By the time we got around to discussing the sex lives of goats and sheep, we were laughing so hard we couldn't breathe. My stomach actually hurt from laughing, as if I'd done 300 situps. Then the director came in and we were all in trouble for not rehearsing. They couldn't leave us alone for one minute without all hell breaking loose.
On Wednesdays Ted would be all freaked out because the network would come down and watch the run-through with the producers. All of us hated being judged by the "suits." Usually they'd change the jokes and lines so we'd have new pages to memorize each day. We'd do two tapings on Fridays - one with a live audience.

Lydia on the publicity back then...
Lydia on the Pilot Episode of Too Close for Comfort
To bring in male viewers ABC promoted me as a sex symbol. They created posters and publicity shots in which I had to crawl on all fours in a sequined bathing suit. This was so embarrassing! Ted was anxious to have another hit series because after The Mary Tyler Moore Show he was typecast and every show he tried failed, including his own series, The Ted Knight Show (1978). This always happens after you have a hit show. Sometimes it takes years. But Ted felt that Too Close for Comfort was his last chance. So he went along with the network exploiting me in cheesecake bikini photos (anything to raise the ratings) until he saw a magazine on the newsstand one day - this magazine had my face taking up the entire cover with just a tiny photo of him in the right-hand corner. The implication was that I was the star of the show, and the headline was "Lydia is a Daddy's Girl" - in reference to the fact that he played my father. Ted brought the magazine to work and literally threw it at me, yelling "I'M the star of this show! And don't you ever forget it!" There was also a tiny picture of Princess Diana and Prince Charles in the upper left hand corner, announcing their engagement.
From that point on I shunned publicity and did everything in my power to lay low. All I wanted was Ted's approval - but the more I sought it, the more it eluded me. This was the beginning of a terrible time. It seemed there was a concerted effort to diminish my role and make me feel unimportant. At one point, the producers actually went so far as to hide my fan mail. They didn't want my head to get too big. Little did they know the depths of my low self-esteem.

Lydia on her feud with Ann Coulter...
In 2006, I had a public feud with Ann Coulter, America's preeminent hate-monger and "extermination speaker" - who said "the best way to speak to a Democrat is with a baseball bat," and who called for the assassination of Supreme Court Justice Stevens because he is pro-choice... and who helped bring down Bill Clinton with her book High Crimes and Misdemeanors. She also said he should be killed. She was the rock star of the conservative movement for awhile - and got paid $30,000 per speaking engagement at universities.
I was bewildered by her so-called "Christianity" which omits the Golden Rule. Right after she said Bush should "nuke" North Korea, she was the featured pro-life speaker at a Moral Reformation conference! I found this unbelievable. So after she called to revoke the right of women to vote, I sent her an e-mail asking her if she was just kidding or serious. I asked her for an interview, attaching my private home info and home number and asking for an interview. I assumed she was just using humor as a weapon and this was just her "schtick." But she never wrote me back.
Then my article "Death is Sexier than Sex to Ann Coulter" was published and I received 300,000 hits on my website and the publisher's site. Ann Coulter then published my home number and private info on her site and I began receiving death threats, hate mail and a stranger pounding on our door. My kids almost answered the door, and I had to grab them in the nick of time. We lived in mortal terror during Christmas. I did 27 radio shows in 2 weeks, one of which was Basham Radio in Vegas.
At the same time, I was receiving hundreds of love letters and several phone calls at home thanking me for speaking out against this bizarre war-loving, hatemongering form of "Christianity."
I was set to write a book about Coulter, a spiritual-progressive book, but decided I didn't need the negative attention. I wrote the book but there is such a wide cultural chasm in America now - I'd rather bring people together instead of being divisive. So I'm releasing my showbiz and humor books first. The Coulter saga doesn't end here. I have some highly classified details I can't reveal yet, which will come out soon. There is a lot more to this story, and it's pretty scary.

Lydia on raising children...
I interviewed Valerie Bertinelli on my radio show, and we were talking about our kids. I confided that I had been spying on my 14-year-old son's chat room and discovered he was talking about losing his virginity with a girl at school. Needless to say, I am completely freaked out. Valerie said she was nervous about her son Wolfie too. Neither of us can believe we are coping with things like this, since we both barely feel like grownups ourselves. She said that writing her book helped her "purge the shame" of her life. All the things she had been hiding and covering up were finally out in the light of day - and somehow this enabled her to get that lightness of being she was looking for. That's what I'm finally doing - not hiding anymore.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Nick at Nite November 2008 Highlights; CBS Removes Ex-List, More Network Notes

Nick at Nite has released its November 2008 highlights and schedule, and once again there are no changes to the line-up. We do have a stunt for Thanksgiving though. They will air a marathon of Thanksgiving episodes on "Thanksgiving Nite" from 9pm-12am ET/PT. Viewers will get to see how Nick at Nite's favorite families celebrate Thanksgiving. They invite neighbors, they go to a NFL game, they go away on vacation, they help homeless shelters, and they go to a massage parlor...huh? You'll see all that on Thanksgiving night as Nick at Nite presents Thanksgiving episodes of Home Improvement, George Lopez and Fresh Prince!
That's it...nothing else is out of the ordinary in November, so expect to see the regular line-up on other days in November. See the Nick at Nite November 2008 Schedule and Highlights.

Effective immediately CBS has removed first year Friday drama The Ex-List off the Friday line-up. This Friday, the first Friday of November sweeps, CBS will air a repeat of NCIS in the Ex-List timeslot of Friday at 9pm. The timeslot is very weak and at times Ex-List wins its slot in total viewers, but this past Friday the show was very weak in 18-49 losing to first place Supernanny on ABC.
Last night Game 5 of the World Series on Fox was suspended after 5 1/2 innings because of rain in Philadelphia with the score tied at two. The game was supposed to resume tonight at 8pm, but due to still bad weather conditions, the game won't resume until Wednesday night at 8:30pm. Wednesday night was supposed to be game 6 in Tampa Bay, but that will be moved to Thursday night, if it is necessary. If Philly wins the continuation of the suspended game, the series is over and they are the champs, winning 4 games to 1. If Tampa Bay can win the next two games, game 7 will likely be on Friday now. Stay tuned...
Also, ABC will not air the Obama Ad on Wednesday at 8pm. ABC was in discussion to air the ad, but now they are not going to. CBS, Fox, and NBC will air the ad. So, ABC will be the only network airing scripted programming in the half-hour with the very creative series Pushing Daisies...tune in!

Lost '80s Week continues tonight at 8pm ET (5pm PT) on WGN America with another Three's Company spin-off, this time ... The Ropers! See how Jeffrey Tambor got his start. Tomorrow night WGN America will air the '80s sitcom Too Close for Comfort, and we will have an interview with Lydia Cornell (Sarah on Too Close for Comfort) tomorrow right here on the blog! It will be of course in our Seven Questions format and she gave us so much, that we have an additional segment where Lydia talks about things for the first time! How was her working relationship with star Ted Knight? That's just SOME of the things you'll read tomorrow! You'll want to read this!

Monday, October 27, 2008

TV Land and NBC November Changes; Win Free Copy of Donna Reed Show Season 1 DVD!

TV Land has edited their primetime schedule a bit and added a few more stunts in November. First, TV Land has given 3rd Rock from the Sun a week-long TV Land PRIME marathon. It will air Monday, November 3 through Friday, November 7 from 9pm-12am ET/PT. Some slots will be preempted though, such as Wednesday at 10 and Friday at 10 for other TV Land PRIME programming. This change will lead into a new slot for 3rd Rock the following week, as TV Land swaps 3rd Rock and Scrubs. Scrubs will now move from 9-10pm to 10-11pm weeknights, as 3rd Rock goes from 10-11pm weeknights to 9-10pm weeknights starting November 10. Looks like 3rd Rock has surprised and done decent in the ratings. And finally, TV Land has added a weekend M*A*S*H Fan Favorites marathon the weekend of November 15 and 16 from 8pm-6am ET/PT both nights. You can catch memorable episodes, the series finale and the 30th anniversary reunion special!
Head on to our updated TV Land November 2008 schedule and highlights so you're all updated!

NBC has made changes to its schedule, that will alter Wednesdays and Fridays in the next week or two and later on Mondays get a little makeover. Effective Friday, October 31, Lipstick Jungle moves from Wednesdays at 10 to Fridays at 10 replacing Life. Life will be over to Wednesdays at 9pm starting November 5 replacing Deal or No Deal-Wed. Also that night NBC will launch the new season of Law & Order at 10pm. Lipstick Jungle was only at over 4 million for its latest episode, while NBC probably thinks Life is worth saving and trying back on Wednesdays. Also NBC has moved the series premiere of reality series Momma's Boys yet again...this is take three! The series will now launch on Tuesday, December 16 at 10pm following The Biggest Loser finale. Then it will air for five more weeks on Mondays at 9pm starting December 22. Heroes will be on a 5 week break at least as its fall finale is Dec. 15. NBC must not have much faith in Momma's Boys as it will be airing in the low rated holiday season, especially the first two Monday airings.

We have 5 copies of the classic sitcom The Donna Reed Show - The Complete First Season for giveaway thanks to the fine folks at Arts Alliance America. It arrives on DVD tomorrow (October 28, 2008). The contest begins today, Monday, October 27 and ends at the end of the day on Monday, November 10. So you have two weeks to enter! One entry per e-mail address and household. Multiple entries from the same IP address will be deleted...so no tricks, please. We'll know.
For the first time ever, the preeminent family television series from the 1960's will be brought back into America's homes. Amazingly, this series has never been on home video in any format. This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the show. Arts Alliance is pulling out the stops for this historic occasion. Arts Alliance has digitally re-mastered all 37 episodes of the first season. This 4-disc set will be available for the suggested retail price of $39.95. Working closely with Donna Reed's family, Arts Alliance America has acquired the priceless series that fans have been clamoring for.
Look for our full DVD review very soon, but please enter our Donna Reed Show DVD contest, but before you do...please make sure you read the FULL contest rules and eligibility details.

Don't forget this week it is "Lost '80s Week" on WGN America featuring Three's a Crowd, The Ropers, Too Close for Comfort and Check it Out! All week long from 8-10pm ET (5-7pm PT). Tonight's presentation will be four episodes of the John Ritter series, Three's a Crowd! Tune in and let's try to get these on the air as regulars, at least on weekends. As a special treat, we will interview Too Close for Comfort star Lydia Cornell this week just in time for Too Close for Comfort on WGN America! Come on back for that and tune in to WGN America this week!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Week 5 Numbers (First Four Nights); How the Sitcoms Did

Week 5 numbers (first three nights, Mon-Wed):
NOTE: Thursday is not in this week in our network averages once again (so sorry!), but we do have final program numbers for Thursday in the analysis below:

Households: CBS: 8.2/12.9; ABC: 6.9/10.9; Fox: 6.6/10.2; NBC: 4.5/7.1; The CW: 1.8/2.8; MNT: 0.8/1.2.
Total Viewers: CBS: 12.93 million; Fox: 10.6 million; ABC: 10.47 million; NBC: 7.17 million; The CW: 2.73 million; MNT: 1.18 million.
Adults 18-49: Fox: 3.9/10.1; CBS: 3.5/9.1; ABC: 2.7/7.0; NBC: 2.7/6.9; The CW: 1.3/3.4; MNT: 0.4/1.2.

Analysis: Week 5 saw everything airing back to normal as the debates have ended. I apologize for the third week in a row we only have final averages for the first three days (thru Wednesday). If this happens again, I don't know what I'll do now. But I do have Thursday final program numbers and network averages, just not four day averages. I don't have time to go through and recalculate so, I'll give you the final Thursday averages in HH: CBS 9.1/14, Fox 7.5/12, ABC 6.8/11, NBC 4.7/7, The CW 2.3/4, MNT 0.9/1, so you can determine yourself how things look after the first four days. So looking at those numbers and the first three days averages on the top, for the first four days, CBS has the lead in all categories, with Fox in second in all categories thanks to the World Series (but first in 18-49), ABC a close third in all categories, and NBC in fourth in all categories thanks to yet another bad week.
Last week, CBS won week 4 in all categories for the third straight week (ABC won the first week), ABC was second in all categories, NBC nipped by Fox this time for third across the board, so Fox was fourth.
Monday ABC was on top thanks to of course Dancing with the Stars. The 92-minute episode did 18.5 million and a 4.1/10 in 18-49...up from previous week, it will likely go up each week now until the finale. The sitcom Samantha Who followed and did 9.64 million, down nearly two million from its premiere the previous week...but it was on par with its episodes from last spring. A new Boston Legal followed with 8.14 million, up a bit from the previous week. Next up was CBS with its comedies and CSI: Miami. The Big Bang Theory did 9.33 million, on par from previous week as this show is the most consistent ratings I've seen this year and How I Met Your Mother followed with 9.45 million, up from the previous week but build on the lead-in in viewers finally after not doing it the previous few weeks. Two and a Half Men and new single-camera sitcom Worst Week followed with 14.63 and 9.88 million. Men was down a bit from previous week, while Worst Week was up a bit but still lost a lot from the lead-in in both viewers and 18-49. So wait they jumped 30 days later since the previous episode? I didn't like that. At 10pm a new CSI: Miami did 13.51 million, finally up a bit from previous week. NBC followed with its drama line-up. Chuck started it off with 6.87 million, up from previous week, Heroes followed with 8.51 million...down some from previous week. New series My Worst Own Enemy at 10pm did only 5.69 million...not a good sign as it dropped 1 1/2 million from the premiere. Fox was fourth with Sarah Connor only mustering 5.02 million and Prison Break doing 5.45 million. DVR ratings will benefit, but still these shows are not doing what they were before. The CW had its usual decent numbers with Gossip Girl doing a solid 3.03 million, but down from previous week and the resurgent One Tree Hill did 3.69 million, up week-to-week.
Tuesday it was CBS in viewers and Fox in 18-49. CBS had the always reliable NCIS opening the night off with 17.23 million, down though from previous week, new drama The Mentalist followed with a solid 15.28 million, up from previous week and Without a Trace did a decent 11.63 million, but seems low for this show but up a bit from previous week. ABC was next in viewers with a special one-hour recap of Monday's Dancing with the Stars doing a solid 9.04 million. Dancing with the Stars: The Results followed with 16.35 million...up a lot from previous week. Eli Stone with guest star Katie Holmes (Emmy nom coming?) followed and did 8.01 million, down a bit from the premiere the previous week. Have faith! Fox was next this week with House doing 13.08 million, down a bit week to week in viewers, followed by new drama Fringe at 8.91 million, also down a bit week to week. NBC was fourth with a two-hour The Biggest Loser doing 7.41 million, down a tad from previous week, followed by an all-new Law & Order: SVU at 9.50 million, on par from previous week. The CW aired a repeat of 90210 again doing 1.33 million, down week to week and a new episode of Privileged did 1.45 million. Why air it out of a repeat?
Wednesday saw CBS's crime dramas and the World Series battle. CBS started with sitcoms, Old Christine did 7.76 million, up a bit AGAIN from previous week and a season high AGAIN, followed by new sitcom Gary Unmarried at 7.56 million, also up a bit AGAIN from previous week and a series high AGAIN. These are slowly going up...do to lack of competition primarily. CBS aired Criminal Minds at9pm and it did a solid 15.01 million and CSI: NY did 14.39 million...they sure were missed the previous week with the debate on. Fox aired Game #1 of the World Series with the pregame at 8pm ET doing 9.73 million and the game following through 12:02am doing 14.63 million, but in primetime Fox averaged 13.89 million. ABC aired Pushing Daisies at 8pm and did 5.69 million, down week to week. Private Practice followed with a solid gain doing 7.98 million (3.0 18-49 rating) and Dirty Sexy Money did only 5.74 million...too bad, it is addictive and people should watch. NBC opened the night with the recently renewed due to the weak timeslot Knight Rider doing 7.23 million...down week to week, followed by Deal or No Deal Wednesday doing 7.61 million and the Friday bound Lipstick Jungle at just 4.31 million. Jungle moves to Fridays next week (where it will do worse), while Life moves to Wednesdays starting Nov. 5 with veteran Law & Order also coming back to its 10pm stomping ground. The CW had a new Top Model doing 4.44 million, up a lot from previous week's clip show...the premiere of Stylista followed with only 2.35 million, CW needs something over 3 million to make this night a solid night.
Thursday CBS won again. CBS opened with Survivor: Gabon at 13.31 million, up from previous week. A new CSI followed with 19.49 million, up a bit from previous week. The new Eleventh Hour followed and did 11.85 million, down a bit week to week. How?? I just don't get it. Fox had a way better Thursday than normal with Game 2 of the World Series doing 12.77 million, down from game one, with the pregame at 8pm doing 6.54 million. ABC opened the night with Ugly Betty with Lindsay Lohan doing 8.7 million, up from previous week. Grey's Anatomy followed with 14.45 million, down a bit week to week. At 10pm a new Life on Mars did 7.86 million, down from previous week. I don't understand it at all...such a good show, a cop show with a twist. NBC was fourth with a new My Name is Earl doing 6.39, down again from previous week, new sitcom Kath & Kim followed with only 4.99 million, ouch...down over a million from the second episode the previous week. The Office followed with a below normal 7.98 million, down from previous week. The third and final SNL Thursday Update special did 8.8 million, on par from previous week, can 30 Rock do anything close to that this week? My guess is no...look for 6 million or so only. ER benefited again from that higher lead-in and did 8.82 million, but down a bit from previous week. Smallville on The CW did 4.16 million, on par really from previous week, followed by Supernatural at a decent 3.25 million...up from previous week.
Now, final numbers for Friday and Saturday are not available, but CBS won Friday with their dramas, as Ghost Whisperer did very solid as usual but The Ex-List dropped more yet still lead at 9pm by a hair over NBC's disappointing Crusoe. NUMB3RS won 10pm but 20/20 tied it in 18-49.
Saturday numbers saw ABC win in the preliminaries overall and in 18-49 thanks to a great College Football game between #3 Penn State and #9 Ohio State. Fox's Game 3 of the World Series didn't start until late in night thanks to a rain delay, so Fox saw *gulp* 'Til Death repeats. NBC had terrible numbers again for America's Toughest Jobs on Saturday with a prelim 3.07 million, though up a bit week-to-week.
Tonight should be a victory for either Fox thanks to Game 4 of the World Series or ABC's regular Sunday (AFV, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Desperate Housewives, and Brothers & Sisters). CBS will be solid, but no NFL lead-in tonight to help them, and NBC will be in the dumpster since there is no SNF game tonight as a movie will air instead.
As for the week, CBS should hang on for the win in HH and viewers but Fox will take 18-49 likely thanks to the World Series. ABC will be at an uncharacteristic third across the board. Followed by NBC, CW and MNT. One thing that might hurt Fox is that the Saturday World Series game didn't start until late, so their line-up before that might have tanked badly and could cost them. What to watch for this week? Sweeps starts Thursday! Yes, we will start November sweeps already. The season is flying by and can't believe we will be in week 6 tomorrow.

Last Sunday Sitcoms (counts for week of October 13-19)

  • The Simpsons (Fox) 3 episodes - Two repeats in the 7pm hour opposite the CBS NFL game did just 3.06 and 5.14 million, but a nice jump. A new episode a 8pm did a decent 8.16 million.
  • King of the Hill (Fox) - A solid 7.4 million...seems above for this show of late.
  • Family Guy (Fox) - A solid 9.01 million...so this show has more ratings than The Office? 4.7 18-49 rating, too.
  • American Dad (Fox) - Just 6.63 million...this show better watch out because Cleveland Show could take this slot for good in the winter.

Monday Sitcoms

  • The Big Bang Theory (CBS) - 9.33 million for a new episode, down just a bit from previous week's 9.34. How consistent is this show this season? Every episode but one has been in the 9.3-9.4 million range with very little difference. Good!!! But repeat tomorrow might kill the momentum. I am not a fan of repeats this early.
  • How I Met Your Mother (CBS) - 9.45 million for a new episode, up week-to-week again, and this time it did build on the lead-in in viewers after not doing it the past few weeks.
  • Two and a Half Men (CBS) - 14.63 million...down a tad from previous week, but still besting any sitcom by a landslide.
  • Worst Week (CBS) - 9.88 million...still not good retention at all but for the second week in a row it went up a little from previous week. This is a good show! Is CBS trying to kill it though? They have scheduled a repeat of Gary Unmarried for tomorrow following repeats of the other sitcoms from 8-9:30.
  • Samantha Who? (ABC) - 9.64 million for a new episode, down from its season premiere the previous week. Should have done better.


Tuesday Sitcoms

  • None.

Wednesday Sitcoms

  • Old Christine (CBS) - 7.76 million for a new episode...up a bit yet again from previous week and a season high yet again. Still can't climb much, but good enough in this very weak slot.
  • Gary Unmarried (CBS) - 7.56 million, a series high again. Has gone up on all five airings.
  • 'Til Death (Fox) - Preempted again but Fox certainly is happy it was.
  • Under One Roof (MNT) - Repeat airing did 780,000 viewers...down a bit week to week, it aired after an all-new Tony Rock Project which did 1.04 million again.


Thursday Sitcoms

  • My Name is Earl (NBC) - 6.72 million for a new episode, down from previous week.
  • Kath & Kim (NBC) - 4.99 million for its third airing...down a lot from the premiere and more importantly the previous week too...cancelation eye is on.
  • The Office (NBC) - Weak lead-in might be hurting it as this show did a below normal 7.98 million.

Friday Sitcoms

  • Everybody Hates Chris (The CW) - Final numbers are not in yet...but the prelim numbers show 1.83 million. On par with every episode this year.
  • The Game (The CW) - Prelim numbers show just 1.74 million...not building this week from the lead-in.

Saturday Sitcoms

  • 'Til Death (Fox) Few episodes - Fox aired a few repeats of this sitcom (at least in E/C zones) because of rain delay for Game 3 of the World Series...no final numbers yet obviously.
  • The Office (NBC) - For some reason NBC aired a repeat at 10:30pm and it only did a prelim 2.13 million.

Airing tonight (Sunday) is another 10:30pm repeat of The Office on NBC.

Summing it up. Two and a Half Men, How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, The Office, were impressive for the week. Everything else was OK (such as Worst Week, Samantha Who?) or just plain old terrible (such as Kath & Kim, The Game).

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Blog DVD Reviews: Peanuts Deluxe Holiday Collection (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas) and You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown

It is Saturday, so that must mean it is time for the weekly Blog DVD Reviews. Today week we take a look at Warner Home Video's Peanuts Deluxe Holiday Collection (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas) and You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown Remastered Deluxe Edition. The holiday season is upon us and what better classic to celebrate Halloween, Election Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. This series always gave us classic holiday specials for just about every holiday. See my Blog DVD Reviews of Peanuts Deluxe Holiday Collection (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas) and You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown Remastered Deluxe Edition:

Peanuts Deluxe Holiday Collection - (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas) (Warner, $44.98) brings us the three most popular Charlie Brown holiday specials on DVD, but this time digitally remastered and excellent backstories behind them! Plus in addition to these three classics, on each set we get a bonus Charlie Brown special!
I think just about everyone in this country has seen the classic Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas specials at least once. They air on TV every year. In fact, the Halloween one is airing on ABC this Tuesday (October 28) at 8pm (along with the Election special) and the Thanksgiving special is slated for Tuesday, November 25 at 8pm. So, if you don't know what they are about by now...I don't know what to say, but here is a short synopsis of each: In the 1966 animated special It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, they celebrates Halloween, with Linus hoping that, finally, he will be visited by The Great Pumpkin, while Charlie Brown is invited to a Halloween party. In the 1973 special, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown wants to do something special for the gang. However the dinner he arranges is a disaster when the caterers, Snoopy and Woodstock, prepare toast and popcorn as the main dish. Humiliated, it will take all of Marcie's persuasive powers to salvage the holiday for Charlie Brown. In the classic 1965 special, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie Brown complains about the overwhelming materialism that he sees everywhere during the Christmas season. Lucy suggests that he become director of the school Christmas pageant, and Charlie Brown accepts, but it proves to be a frustrating struggle. When an attempt to restore the proper spirit with a forlorn little fir Christmas tree fails, Charlie Brown needs Linus' help to learn what the real meaning of Christmas is.
Each of these three classics are also available separately, if you don't want to buy them all in one deluxe set. The deluxe set is cheaper though, 44.98 for all three rather than 19.98 each. The deluxe set came out on September 23. Separate sets came out on other dates, with Halloween on Sept. 2 and Thanksgiving and Christmas on Oct. 7. As far as the packaging goes for the Deluxe set, we have a nice outer box that holds all three cases of each holiday special. The cases are the same as the separate released, but this set has no thin outer box, which is a good thing, because they don't make sense because it has the same front and back as the case. As for the deluxe set, the front has four different holiday shots (Linus with a pumpkin, Charlie Brown with a Christmas tree, Snoopy & Woodstock in Thanksgiving style hats watching the leaves fall, and Lucy skating on an ice rink.) In the middle we have a nice bow, so this set looks like a present! Nicely done! The back of this deluxe box has a nice red sky with snow falling and Charlie Brown, Woodstock and Linus watching Snoopy sit on top of his house that has Christmas lights. Also, each holiday set's cover is shown on the bottom. I'll quickly cover each holiday's packaging. For the Halloween one we have an orange background with lots of pumpkins and Charlie Brown, Linus and Snoopy. The back has info on the special and set along with a nice artwork of the gang in Halloween costumes. For the Thanksgiving one we have a beige (light yellow?) background with Charlie Brown, Woodstock and Snoopy with Thanksgiving food outside on a table. The back has info on the special and set along with a nice artwork of Charlie Brown, Woodstock, and Snoopy around a pile of leaves. For the Christmas one we have a dark blue (resembling a snow sky) background with Charlie Brown and Snoopy outside in the snow by a little (and pathetic looking) Christmas tree and you can also see Snoopy's little house with Christmas lights. The back has info on the special and set along with a nice artwork of the gang by a better looking Christmas tree singing Christmas carols. Now if you got these sets separately, you also got a thin outer box with the same artwork as the case. Inside each case there is no artwork or design, just plain black background. As for the disc artwork, Halloween has an orange background with Linus and a pumpkin. Thanksgiving disc has that beige (light yellow) background with Snoopy playing in the leaves, with Marci walking. The Christmas disc has that dark blue background with a nice Christmas tree and a shot of Snoopy. The Christmas set also has a six-song sampler disc, and it has a yellow background.
The menu screen has options of Features, Special Features, and Languages on all three sets. For Halloween, we get an orange background with artwork of Charlie Brown, Linus, and Snoopy around pumpkins and the theme song playing in the background. When we select something, we see a pumpkin as a selector. For Thanksgiving, we get a beige background with artwork of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Woodstock around a Thanksgiving meal and the theme song plays in the background. We have a leaf as a selector. For Christmas, we get a nice dark sky background with snow on the ground with artwork of Snoopy and Charlie Brown looking at a tree, and this time Christmas background music used in the special is playing in the background! For each set for Languages, we can have either English, Espanol, Japanese, or Portugues. For subtitles we have those and also Chinese, Korean, and Thai...wow! The Features section for all three sets has the two specials listed, we can also select Play All to play both back-to-back. Finally, Special Features for each special lists the extra (more on that below) and Trailers.
The video and audio is tremendous on all three sets. It has never looked better or sounded better ever. I am very impressed and Warner did a great job on this remastering. For the Halloween set, the classic 1966 special runs 25:12 and has five chapter stops. We also get the 1981 special It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown and that runs 24:14. For the Thanksgiving set, the classic 1973 special runs 25:16 with three chapter stops. We also get an episode from the 1988 TV series This is America, Charlie Brown titled "The Mayflower Voyagers," that runs 24:14 with six chapter stops. For the Christmas set, the classic 1965 special runs 25:25 with five chapter stops. We also get the 1992 Christmas special, It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown running 22:56 with six chapter positions.
As for special features, we get a nice featurette on the back story of each special on each set! For Halloween is titled "We Need a Blockbuster, Charlie Brown" and runs 13:56. It certainly was a blockbuster as this was the third special (after A Charlie Brown Christmas and Charlie Brown All-Stars)and it did a 49 share originally! The Thanksgiving featurette is called "Popcorn & Jellybeans: Making a Thanksgiving Classic" and it runs 12:25. This was the eleventh special for Peanuts and they wanted it to be different so they made the storyline of strange food during Thanksgiving dinner. For the Christmas featurette, it is called "A Christmas Miracle: The Making of A Charlie Brown Christmas." Obviously this was the very first special and they were not expecting much of an audience but yes, a Christmas miracle happened and this became a blockbuster that Christmas in 1965 and has been watched by millions each year since! Interviewed for these featurettes are Fred Silverman, Scott McGuire, Bill Melendez, Mark Evanier, Lee Mendelson (Producer), Todd Barbee, Chris DeFaria, Hilary Momberger, Phil Roman, Jeannie Schulz (Charles Schulz's wife), and Monte Schulz (Charles Schulz's son).
I highly do recommend this set for any Charlie Brown-Peanuts fan and classic animation in general. All three holiday specials are trademarks during their respective season. Warner really needs to remaster every special for this wonderful franchise and put it on DVD. First we got 3 specials on the Valentine's DVD and two more on the Easter DVD. Now we get two specials each on Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, although the second special on Thanksgiving is an episode from the This is America, Charlie Brown series. The Election special and another special on that set was also released (see review below). With the holiday season upon us, Halloween is next week and Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner, this is the perfect gift for you or anyone else! Go buy this set! Good grief!
-- Reviewed by Pavan
(4/5 stars)

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Amazon.com

If you want to buy each holiday separately for any reason see below:
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown Remastered Deluxe Edition- Halloween
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Remastered Deluxe Edition
A Charlie Brown Christmas Remastered Deluxe Edition

Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com Full DVD Reviews Page
Charlie Brown Official Page


You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown - Remastered Deluxe Edition (Warner, $19.98) brings us the classic 1972 Election-themed episode (ninth primetime special) on DVD once again, but this time digitally remastered...and it is really worth it! Plus in addition to the Election special, we also get He's a Bully, Charlie Brown, which is the last special made to date and it aired on ABC in 2006.
If you have never seen this Election special, it is about Linus who runs for the post of student body president with a vigorous and enthusiastic campaign which receives a setback when he spreads the message of the Great Pumpkin. We also get the most recent Peanuts special from 2006 He's a Bully, Charlie Brown. At home, Rerun van Pelt finds some old marbles his grandfather kept in the attic. He then decides at summer camp that he wants to be a marbles champ. Joe Agate, the bully, decides to play against Rerun on the false pretense of teaching him the game and quickly cheats him out of his marbles. Charlie Brown to the rescue?
Let's now move on to the packaging. We have a thin outer box that holds a very thin case, that is movie style. I never understood the reason for the thin box that holds a thin case...what's the point? Also, both the back and front of each is exactly the same, except the box is shinier. The cover art is blue in color, and has Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy watching Linus at the podium. The title of the election special is on the top, with a mention that this is a remastered deluxe edition! The bottom tells is we also get a bonus TV special (He's a Bully, Charlie Brown). To the back we go, we get a nice synopsis of the Election special, along with a list of the special features on blackboard. It is again blue in color with artwork of Charlie Brown, Sally, Snoopy and Linus. When we open the case, we get black background all over, very plain, but of course the disc is inside. The disc is in blue and has that blackboard and has artwork of Charlie Brown and Snoopy.
The menu screen has options of Features, Special Features, and Languages. We get that blue background again, with the theme song playing in the background. We also have artwork of Snoopy and Charlie Brown...Snoopy in that Joe Cool t-shirt! Anyway back to the menu, for Languages, we can have either English, Japanese, or Portugues. For subtitles we have those three again and also Chinese, Korean, and Thai...wow! But no Espanol for either? The Features section has the two specials listed, we can also select Play All to play both back-to-back. Finally, Special Features lists the extra (more on that below) and Trailers.
The video and audio is tremendous. It has never looked better or sounded better ever. I am very impressed. Warner continues to do a great job on this remastering of all these classic specials. Election special runs 25:13 and has 13 chapter stops, which you an use via your DVD remote. The Bully special runs 21:32 and has 5 chapter stops also. Both specials look amazing...the Bully one should as it is the newest one yet.
As for special features, we get a nice featurette! It is titled "The Polls Don't Lie: The Making of You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown" and runs 12:09. We find out lots of behind-the-scenes details and cool facts for the Election special from members of the Schulz family and more. Interviewed are Scott McGuire, Lee Mendelson (Producer), Mark Evanier, Jeannie Schulz (Charles Schulz's wife), Bill Melendez, Todd Barbee, Hilary Momberger, and Phil Roman.
I once again highly do recommend this set for any Charlie Brown-Peanuts fan and classic animation in general. Warner is doing a wonderful job with the remastering and the behind the scenes extras of each special. Let's hope they continue to release more Charlie Brown specials! So head to the polls this Election Day and think of Linus! You can catch this special on TV this Tuesday at 8:30pm ET on ABC following It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, if you want to preview it first if you've never seen it. Vote for Joe Cool not Joe the Plumber!
-- Reviewed by Pavan
(4/5 stars)

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Amazon.com

Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com Full DVD Reviews Page
Charlie Brown Official Page

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ron Howard Reprises His Opie and Richie Roles for Obama; Minor Changes for Hallmark, ION and CBS Monday

Opie Taylor and Richie Cunningham are both back! Ron Howard has reprised both of his classic TV roles for an ad supporting Barack Obama! It is a hilarious salute to those characters and shows, but also supports Obama and he urges Americans out there to vote and to change America. Ron is not the only one in the video either. Ron has reunited with Andy Griffith for his Opie/Andy segment and Henry Winkler for his Richie/Fonzie segment. These characters haven't been done in decades, so it is fun to see them reprise their roles! The Andy Griffith Show segment was even in black and white with Opie in his green/yellow striped t-shirt and fishing rod! The Happy Days segment had Henry Winkler's Fonzie in his trademark leather coat and Richie with his blue sweater outside of Arnold's. Ahyyyay!!! You even see Ron shave off his beard and trim his nose air for this video! He really does want Americans to vote and change this country. See the four-minute video for yourself! It's worth watching...whether you be a Democrat or Republican. Ron Howard has certainly found his "thrill on blueberry hill!"

Effective this weekend (Oct. 25-26), Cheers will not air on weekends anymore on The Hallmark Channel. It was airing Saturday nights 1-3am, Sunday mornings 10am-12pm, and Sunday nights from 1-3am. Cheers will only air weekdays from 4-5pm starting next week (Oct. 27).
Next week on ION Television, we will still not see any ER. ER's Mon-Wed at 10pm airings have been replaced for next week (Oct. 27-31) as well, on Monday we will see an extra NCIS and Tuesday & Wednesday we will see more Boston Legal. Did you know ER has not been seen since its Monday, Oct. 6 airing? ION's November schedule is still not out yet, and I'm sure they are trying to find a permanent replacement for the lower rated ER. As soon as their November schedule is in, I'll let you know. Right now only Nov. 1 and 2 is available, and that's a weekend. Speaking of ION, looks like the Warner Bros. movies are doing well, because they are having another movie marathon tonight from 4pm-11pm.
CBS has made a minor change for this coming Monday only. Wednesday sitcom Gary Unmarried (Pilot Repeat) will air Monday, October 27, 2008 at 9:30pm ET/PT replacing a repeat of Worst Week. The rest of the CBS comedies are also repeats the entire night on Oct. 27.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

TV Land December 2008 Includes 9th Annual Merrython and Lucy Farewell; Rita Rocks Solid in First Two Airings

I know it isn't even Halloween yet, and we are discussing TV Land December 2008 today! This December, TV Land will celebrate the holidays with three blocks of Christmas episodes labeled the 9th Annual Merrython and a holiday week of holiday episodes of feel good show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. But before that, take another spin down the catwalk with the lovely ladies from She's Got the Look -- TV Land's modeling competition series like no other. Relive the excitement as 10 finalists are chosen to compete against each other for a lucrative Wilhelmina modeling contract and a spread in Self magazine. The marathon airs Saturday, December 6 from 3pm-9pm ET/PT!
Then it is time to celebrate the holidays with classics and modern classic holiday episodes! This year's Merrython will be the best yet with many hours of holiday fun for all on December 7 (thirteen hours), December 21 (twelve hours) and December 25 (twenty hours)! TV Land is delivering the goods to the viewers with Christmas episodes from classics like Andy Griffith, All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Good Times, Sanford & Son, Beverly Hillbillies, Brady Bunch, Three's Company and Little House on the Prairie and modern Christmas favorites from The Cosby Show, Just Shoot Me, Night Court, Murphy Brown, 3rd Rock from the Sun and Scrubs. Grab the eggnog, tune in with loved ones, and warm up your Christmas spirit with TV Land!
That's not all for the holidays! Get ready for an Extreme Home Makeover holiday! Extreme Makeover: Home Edition kicks off prime each night at 9pm beginning Monday, December 8, so don't miss this exciting week-long marathon showcasing five of the most popular families from the series. Concluding the stunt on Saturday night is a two-hour special that revisits each of these fortunate families during the holidays. Watch the Extreme Home Makeover crew give these special folks the opportunity to "pay it forward" and share their good fortune with other deserving families. There'll be a lot of joy and warmth this holiday season as we bring you all the best that Ty and his gang of hardworking homebuilders have to offer.
TV Land also celebrates the 30th Anniversary of the Superman film starring the late Christopher Reeve by airing it at 12 noon on Sunday, December 14. TV Land Friday night movie premieres in the MovieLand block for December are Analyze This, Get Shorty, and Doc Hollywood! Encores include Sister Act II.
Finally, as we all know that I Love Lucy is headed for The Hallmark Channel this January, TV Land has to say goodbye. TV Land says "Bon Voyage" to 2008 and I Love Lucy as they countdown to the New Year with everybody's favorite classic sitcom, I Love Lucy, as the show leaves the network. Spend the day living vicariously through The Ricardos' and The Mertzes' antics, escapades and adventures as we countdown the all-time Top 25 I Love Lucy episodes--voted by you the fans. All throughout the month of December, TV Land gives fans the opportunity to vote which episodes they want to see during Lucy's New Year's Eve Countdown. Customized countdown flags and packaged I Love Lucy vignettes with color commentary will air throughout the stunt as it gains momentum and reaches its zenith with the I Love Lucy episode ranked #1 by the viewers. It was a year to remember and it'll be a TV Land send-off viewers will never forget. Goodbye Lucy! Obviously there will be a lot of changes to the January line-up since Lucy is leaving, but we don't know what yet...so we should know by next month and let you all know.
But for now View our complete TV Land December 2008 highlights for episode info for each stunt and more!

Lifetime TV's original sitcom Rita Rocks got off to a decent start on Monday when the show premiered to 1 million viewers. When comparing to Lifetime's last comedy series, Lovespring International, which launched in June 2006, Rita Rocks was up 38 percent among women 18-49 posting a 0.8 W18-49 rating. The show was also up 11 percent above the network's prior four-week time period average.
On Tuesday for episode two, the original sitcom did a 1.1 HH rating, up 37% from the premiere and 1.2 million viewers, up 200,000 viewers from the premiere. Rita Rocks also increased by 15 percent in key women 18-49 (0.83 rating) versus the prior four-week time period average. Wednesday numbers will be in later. Will it rise more?
Rita Rocks continues to air every night this week at 8:30 p.m. before assuming its regular weekly time slot on Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. starting next week. Rita certainly rocks, and not bad after airing out of Reba repeats.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

SitcomsOnline.com Exclusive: Interview with Chris Mann; We're Interviewed As Well on Retroality.TV!; Network Notes

We have a very exciting interview for you today. We have an interview with Chris Mann...author of the Three's Company book and now pop-culture guru on Retroality.TV! As always with our interviews, it is in Seven Questions form!

We had the pleasure to interview Chris Mann, author, writer, and my friend. Chris Mann is a freelance entertainment and lifestyle writer and behind-the-scenes TV book author. He is best known for his marvelous work on the tell-all book Come and Knock on Our Door: A Hers and Hers and His Guide to Three's Company. He's also founder and editor of the pop culture webzine Retroality.TV. A former magazine art director, he sometimes produces and art directs cover and feature shoots for his celebrity health and fitness profiles. He also served as consulting producer on NBC's behind-the-scenes movie about Three's Company, and he's helped produce and write TV documentaries and DVD featurettes about the show and its late star, John Ritter. Chris is currently developing multiple media projects, including an in-depth biography about Ritter.

We thank Chris for taking the time to answer some of the most interesting questions we have for him...and his responses were so amazing. So it is time for another installment of SitcomsOnline's Seven Questions Series! We seriously STILL need a jingle. Any takers out there?

"Seven Questions with Chris Mann"

SitcomsOnline: Hello Chris! We thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this interview with us! We sincerely appreciate it and are honored in talking to you. I've known you for years and I'm also a big Three's Company fan (as you of course know), but I don't think many people know how you got started on your Three's Company book, Come and Knock on Our Door - A Hers and Hers and His Guide to Three's Company. Can you share with us why you wanted to write the book and how it all got started?
Chris Mann: I'm honored to do this interview. The amazing energy and effort you and Todd put into Sitcoms Online and your other TV sites has truly encouraged me!
In the early to mid '90s, before the Internet exploded, I had only an inkling how many other people hungered for info about retro TV. Since age 5 or so, I'd had an unbounded love for Three's Company, along with deep admiration for John Ritter and a growing fascination with the show's emotional backstage break-ups. My behind-the-scenes curiosity grew in part out of my journalistic mind -- I guess I just couldn't take Three's Company at face value! While editing The University of Tulsa's student newspaper -- itself a huge undertaking, especially given my intensive class load -- I realized I needed a creative, escapist outlet beyond cracking jokes in class and at work and watching Company reruns in my dorm room.
I'd recently interviewed and met Suzanne Somers during her visit to Tulsa to share her uplifting story of surviving family alcoholism and abuse. After publishing the story in the student newspaper, I recrafted it and designed a Three's Company where-are-they-now fanzine around her Q&A. I sent "The Roomie Report" to all ten cast members, along with letters saying I hoped the fanzine would one day lead to a behind-the-scenes book about the show. Almost none of them responded -- except John Ritter.
Imagine at age 19 getting a call from John saying how "touched and flattered" he was by my efforts and my letter. I was elated and infinitely inspired. So I did three more "Roomie Reports" during my sophomore year at Tulsa University -- the second issue included an exclusive, extremely candid interview with John wherein he broke his silence about his bitter break-up with Suzanne. I retired the "Report" during my junior and senior years, but I kept in touch with John's office. The day after I finished college in '95, I moved to LA. A week later, I interviewed John in person for the book. Doors began opening, along with the casts' emotional floodgates. I knew I had a great story not only about the show but about the price of fame, fortune and ego.

SitcomsOnline: I got your book the second it came out back in 1998. You know I think your book really inspired me to do the Three's Company website (Jack's Bistro) back in 1998 and it is still going today. I wanted to thank you for the hard work on the book on behalf of all fans out there. Can you share with us some of your fondest memories shortly after the book was released to the world? Did fans come up to you and thank you? Did the entire cast embrace it?
Chris Mann: Thank you for your support! As you know, I've always loved your Three's Company site, so it's cool to know Come and Knock on Our Door in turn inspired you. 1998 was a whirlwind year. The book, along with Suzanne's accompanying biography After the Fall, led to heated interviews with Joyce DeWitt and Suzanne on Extra, Inside Edition, ET, The O'Reilly Factor, etc. Joyce promoted my book while disputing Suzanne's. What a hoot to get that kind of publicity -- and how weird to suddenly be in the middle of controversy. Suzanne formally thanked me for sending her the book -- and she told Inside Edition I was a "really nice" guy -- but the battle lines were again being drawn, and it was Suzanne vs. Three's Company Part II.
John also took the book onto a few shows, including Donny and Marie's talk show and a TV Guide Truth Behind the Sitcom Scandals special. He and Joyce offered resounding public support, which was unexpected and thrilling. Joyce, Don Knotts, Richard Kline, Norman Fell and even Priscilla Barnes (the only cast member who didn't interview) did book signings with me -- and we all went out to dinner and celebrated with a bottle of champagne John sent me. Fans expressed love and appreciation at the book signings. Howard Stern's show harassed Joyce about Suzanne at a couple of these media-frenzied events. Suddenly, my book had become part of the story. Saying this entire experience was surreal and exciting is a understatement.

SitcomsOnline: Being involved with this book has made you the Three's Company king. All of the entertainment shows on Three's Company and its stars like the E! True Hollywood Story and A&E Biography have interviewed you. Your book was turned into a TV movie by NBC. You also got to produce special features for the Three's Company DVDs. How cool is that! How did you like all of that, though? What was your favorite out of all this?
Chris Mann: The Three's Company king...that's funny! Most of this six-year journey was a joy, and all of it was enlightening. The E! True Hollywood Story was my favorite project, though, by far. In summer 1998, I pitched the documentary to E! as their first THS exclusively about the backstage story of a TV show. They bit. Not to be immodest, but my book, interview and extensive production work were the documentary's basis and backbone. The entire surviving cast participated and were asked questions to elicit the same responses they'd given for the first time ever in the book. The end product was a two-hour video version of Come and Knock on Our Door. My book was everywhere in the show. It seemed like the perfect promotional tool. The THS reran enough times to keep Three's Company in the pop culture consciousness for the next few years. And it helped established the THS brand and lead to behind-the-scenes TV movies about TV shows.
The Three's Company TV movie eventually followed. Though Entertainment Weekly had reported NBC was adapting my book for this movie, things beyond my control (and, at the time, beyond my awareness) transpired and my book didn't get a "based on" credit. I did, however, end up getting a Consulting Producer main title credit, and the book was mentioned in the end titles instead of the main credits. Ultimately, this was a victory for me. This telefilm was one of the highest-rated TV movies of the season. I've since met with one of the movie's executive producers, Stan Brooks. We had a very nice and illuminating conversation. I'm glad he and NBC experienced more success with subsequent Behind the Camera movies.
The A&E shows had excellent producers. And the DVD featurettes offered a bittersweet ending, as I interviewed surviving cast members (minus Suzanne) about John's passing, which deeply saddened us all. I applaud DLT Entertainment and Anchor Bay for giving John his due on these DVDs. But with this project, I felt I'd said everything I could about the show -- and John's death really did devastate me -- so it was definitely time for me to separate from the Company drama.

SitcomsOnline: So we obviously know you love Three's Company and that is your all-time favorite show but what other sitcoms/shows did you love and grow up with and what about of today's shows? I know you are fan of the game show The Price is Right and you're also working on a book on that series as well. What can we expect there and any tentative date on release?
Chris Mann: I loved Ellen (I always saw her as the female Jack Tripper), Roseanne and The Golden Girls. I also grew up watching Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, The Jeffersons, All in the Family, Alice, Facts of Life, Diff'rent Strokes and One Day at a Time.
I thought Nell Carter was hysterical in Gimme a Break! Recently, I've thoroughly enjoyed Lisa Kudrow's HBO dramedy The Comeback and I like 30 Rock (Tina Fey is a genius) and, because of Molly Shannon, Kath & Kim. If someone would give SNL's Cheri Oteri a sitcom, I'd simmer down now and watch in a heartbeat.
The Price is Right story is utterly fascinating. So much more happened backstage than the public knows. I've talked to the people who lived it and survived it -- producers, longtime Barker's Beauty models, production assistants who molded and shaped the show's formula (including its classic comedic moments) but who were erased from Price history in the recent "official" book about the show. Their stories are so compelling. Bob Barker's memoir will be published in April '09 -- under the banner of a publisher that salutes "traditional, wholesome entertainment" -- so his version of events will likely continue to reign for a while. He's an iconic host, so he deserves his accolades as a performer.
I think much of the audience still needs to believe that Bob, at almost 85, is the gift-bearing, grandfatherly/avuncular figure we grew up believing him to be for 35 years on Price. But he's so much more interesting than the one-dimensional showman his PR and legal machine has long portrayed him to be. In fact, his flaws and vulnerabilities, which probably won't emerge in his book, make his status as a legendary TV survivor even more remarkable. I may start to preview my book on Retroality.TV in 2009. I haven't really had time lately to do much with the book, so I look forward to telling that story when the time is right.

SitcomsOnline: Now your writing for quite a number of magazines and publications. You're such a good writer and you make me look tame compared to you. Can you share with us all some of the magazines and publications you write for and also what were you favorite stories for these?
Chris Mann: Thank you! I've had the good fortune to write stories for TV Guide, Emmy magazine, their web sites and Radar Online. Most of my freelance work this year has centered on celebrity health and fitness. I write and art direct/produce cover stories regularly for Muscle & Body, Get Active! and a newly-launched CVS magazine called Great Health. My favorite interviews have been Lynda Carter, Maureen McCormick, Dara Tores and Apolo Ohno. I'm looking forward to profiling Misty May-Treanor and Antonio Sabato Jr., too.

SitcomsOnline: As readers of our news blog know, you wrote the Three's Company book and you are now running the popular website Retroality.TV. We must ask how you came up with that idea and what made you think it would work? The stars you interview are astounding from Heather Thomas to Stacy Keibler to Olivia Newton-John. Do you have any favorites so far?
Chris Mann: I've wanted to do my own pop culture magazine for years. Retroality grew rather organically out of my passions for retro pop culture and celebreality TV, along with my recent focus on celeb health and fitness. I love survivor stories, and pop icons and retro stars who're still standing are certainly survivors. How have they survived? What have they overcome and learned? Why are they reinventing themselves at age 30, 40, 50, 60? What would they do differently now? Retroality is designed primarily to share these stories while promoting other pop culture enterprises -- such as Sitcoms Online -- that keep retro alive and well.
I want to do the stories that many lifestyle and entertainment magazines often overlook due to their obsession with teenagers, twigs and trainwrecks. Who over age 25 really cares if some 19-year-old CW star needs to eat a hamburger, or if Britney managed to fill her tank up with gas for the eighth time this week? I'd rather know how Lynda Carter found the inner strength and peace to conquer alcoholism, despite her image as Wonder Woman. Or why Heather Thomas uses her celebrity and money to influence politics, and how she's channeling her political fundraising experiences into a fun new novel. Or what breast cancer taught Olivia Newton-John, and how she's inspiring other women, including her daughter.
All of these celebs were once 19 years old, and some succumbed to addiction, eating disorders and other troubles. But they all made it to the other side and have fascinating stories to tell. Maureen McCormick is another example. Look how well her book's doing. I want Retroality to reflect the pop culture and sociopolitical interests of the vast majority of people who could care less about Miley Cyrus and (my nephew's gonna kill me) The O.C. or any of its derivatives.

SitcomsOnline: Finally, so what is coming up in the future for Chris Mann? We know Retroality.TV will be still going strong...any new stories or new features you'd like to tell everyone about the site? We also mentioned you're writing the Price is Right book and a book on the late legendary John Ritter. Can you share with us what you expect to do with the book on John?
Chris Mann: From your fingertips to God's ears! I'm excited about Retroality's future. I've got a few stories in the works for late '08 -- our current cover story interview is Jaclyn Smith, and we should have a very Brady tell-all soon -- and I plan to add multimedia in the months ahead. Our video interview with Joyce DeWitt really sets the stage for what's to come in '09. She opens up about her spirituality, her splintered relationship with Suzanne and her final, healing experiences with John Ritter.
I also expect my book on John to be on the front burner in 2009. To this day, he still inspires me (as I know he does you), and it means a great deal to me to get the chance to tell his story. He'd be 60 this year, and I have to wonder what great things he'd be doing if he were still with us. He lives on, though, through his kids, his wives, his brother, his friends and his work. Many would argue he lived far more in not quite 55 years than some live in 85. Sadly, he didn't live long enough to win Lifetime Achievement awards, receive Hall of Fame inductions, make a trillion dollars or write a self-congratulatory memoir. But I really think he left the world a better, more light-hearted, richer place, and in the end, those contributions are priceless.

Our thanks to to Chris Mann we wish him continued success! Now I must go and do Chris' "show" in return...kind of like how Jimmy Kimmel and Jay Leno appeared on each other's talk shows on the same night earlier this year! Yes, Chris interviewed Todd and I for his wonderful website as well! So head on over to his website to see that as well! I hope we are interesting like he is! More info on us being interviewed is below.
Our apologies to Matt Damon, we ran out of time. For more information on Chris Mann, continue to stay with us for info and don't forget to view his website http://www.retroality.tv. So, stay tuned right here on the blog for continued news on Chris!


Who would of thunk it, but can you believe we were interviewed?? Both Todd and I have been interviewed by Chris Mann for his website Retroality.TV, as I mentioned above! I would have never imagined I would be interviewed for anything, and I'm sure Todd feels the same way! Thanks to Chris for suggesting this and I thank him for doing our "show" in return! Chris asks both Todd and I some interesting stuff, so I hope you all enjoy the interview and do learn something you didn't know about SitcomsOnline and to a lesser extent, about us. I know we're not stars, but after this interview we sort of feel like stars...just a lil' bit! So, I hope you all get a chance to read our interview. It is a proud moment for SitcomsOnline celebrating the last 10 years and the years to come!

Lots of network notes lately, as it is common this time of year. We have a full season order news for ABC's Private Practice. ABC has picked up the back nine episodes of the show, giving it 22 episodes this season. It was only ordered for 13 episodes originally for its second season. All of the shows that came back from the strike that didn't come back last season have suffered a bit in the ratings, but this show has done modestly better. The show's season premiere on Oct. 1was only at 8.16 million but jumped to 9.22 million when the seven-day DVR numbers came in and jumped from a 3.3 18-49 rating to a 3.8 18-49 rating, on par with its live+same day numbers for its finale last December. Still 9.22 million is not as much as the over 11 million the show was averaging last fall, but even still, it is not as big of a drop when you see these DVR ratings. Numbers for its second episode of this year in seven-day DVR will be known next week. But it seems after seeing the jump, ABC is invested in bringing us a whole year of Private Practice!
In other news, CBS has given two extra scripts for new sitcom Worst Week. The show has began to stabilize a bit and has gone up in the ratings the past two weeks, but still it is losing quite a bit of its Two and a Half Men lead-in. It is quite a funny show, though, my only concern is what will happen when the week ends? It's like on day four already.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (October/November/December)

2 Broke Girls - The Complete Third Season Two and a Half Men - The Complete Eleventh Season WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete Series Hot in Cleveland - Season Five Sgt. Bilko - The Phil Silvers Show - The Complete Series
Family Ties - The Complete Series Happy Days - The Sixth Season The Jeffersons - The Complete Series Mister Ed - The Complete Series Mork & Mindy - The Complete Series

10/07 - The Dick Van Dyke Show - Classic Christmas Episodes
10/07 - The Flying Nun - The Complete First and Second Seasons (Mill Creek)
10/07 - The Middle - The Complete Fifth Season (Warner Archive)
10/07 - The Office - The Complete Series
10/07 - The Wonders Years - Season One
10/10 - The Wonder Years - The Complete Series - Read Our Review / The Signature Edition / Seasons 1-3
10/14 - 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Third Season
10/14 - Two and a Half Men - The Complete Eleventh Season
10/21 - Married with Children - Seasons 5 and 6 (Mill Crek)
10/21 - The Soul Man - The Complete Second Season
10/21 - Square Pegs - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
10/28 - WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete Series / Read Our Review
11/04 - The Exes - Seasons 1 & 2
11/04 - Hot in Cleveland - Season Five
11/04 - Napoleon Dynamite - The Complete Animated Series
11/04 - Sgt. Bilko (The Phil Silvers Show) - The Complete Series / Read Our Review
11/06 - Kenan & Kel - The Best of Seasons 3 & 4
11/11 - Dads - The Complete Series
11/11 - Dharma & Greg - The Complete Season 2
11/11 - Family Ties - The Complete Series
11/11 - My Favorite Martian - Best of Collection
11/11 - Taxi - The Complete Series
11/11 - Wings - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
11/18 - King of the Hill - The Complete Seventh Season / The Complete Eighth Season
11/25 - Better Off Ted - The Complete Second Season
12/02 - Broad City - Season 1
12/02 - Happy Days - The Sixth Season
12/02 - The Simpsons - The Seventeenth Season (Blu-ray)
12/09 - Barney Miller - The Complete Sixth Season
12/09 - Family Guy - Volume 13
12/09 - The Jeffersons - The Complete Series
12/09 - Mister Ed - The Complete Series
12/09 - Mork & Mindy - The Fourth Season / The Complete Series
12/16 - The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis - The Final (Fourth) Season
12/23 - My Favorite Martian - Season Two - Collector's Edition
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Sunday, December 21

Mulaney - "It's a Wonderful Home Alone" (Fox, 7:00PM ET/PT)
John’s resentment of actor Macaulay Calkin dampens his Christmas spirit. Meanwhile, Lou is worried when his rival, network host Jesse Tyler Munoz (guest star Nick Kroll), announces a competing holiday special, and Andre is mistaken for a puppet.

Bob's Burgers - "Father of the Bob" (Fox, 7:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
The family is invited to Bob’s dad’s Christmas party, and Bob is forced to step inside his father's diner for the first time in 20 years. In the basement, the kids compete for a “mistle-tony” – the award for best homemade gift.

The Simpsons - "I Won't Be Home for Christmas" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
After Moe convinces Homer to stay out drinking on Christmas Eve, Marge tells Homer not to come home. This leads to Homer’s sad trek through lonely Springfield, where he learns that the only place where one should truly get drunk on Christmas is home.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - "Christmas" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Holt receives death threats and Jake is put in charge of his security, a job he enjoys and abuses as much as he can. Meanwhile, Amy attempts to get the precinct to take a Christmas photo for Holt, but a lack of enthusiasm and Rosa’s refusal to smile defeats her efforts. Also, Terry gets his mojo back.

Family Guy - "The 2,000-Year-Old-Virgin" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
After running into Jesus at the mall, Peter enlists Quagmire and Cleveland’s help to throw him the best birthday ever, but is shocked at Jesus’ request to make the night special.

Bob's Burgers - "Christmas in the Car" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
After Linda accidentally kills the family tree, the Belchers must go out on Christmas day to find a new one. But when Bob cuts off a giant candy cane truck, they are forced to outrun the madman driver (Bobcat Goldthwait) and spend the entire holiday together in the car. Back at the Belcher home, Bob’s friend, Teddy, accidentally gets stuck in the kids’ Santa trap.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of December 22) (All times ET unless noted)

Monday, December 22

  • Steve Carell (The Office) - Watch Steve on a repeat of The Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Martin Short (Mulaney/The Martin Short Show) - Martin appears on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Kelly Ripa (Hope & Faith) - Kelly stops by Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Christine Baranski (Cybill/Welcome to New York) - Christine talks about Into the Woods on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am. She will also be on LIVE! with Kelly and Michael, so check your listings.
  • Jamie Foxx (The Jamie Foxx Show) - Jamie is a guest on a repeat of The Queen Latifah Show on your local station or at 3am on BET.
  • Donald Faison (The Exes/Scrubs) - Donald drops by The Better Show, so check your local listings.