Saturday, February 25, 2006

"Are You Nervous?"... "No!"

My first remembrance of comedian Don Knotts was on the old Steve Allen Variety Show. Don played one of Allen’s “man in the street” sidekicks. The basic premise of Knott’s character was an extremely anxious interviewee who always responded to the inevitable question “Are you nervous?” with a resounding “No!”
Don’s big break in TV came when his friend Andy Griffith from a play and movie they both appeared in named “No Time for Sergeants” called up and offered him a job on Andy’s new Mayberry series. This was where Knotts established himself as one of America’s premier comic actors with the genius in which he played Deputy Barney Fife.
My mom watches two comedy shows on a daily basis. The old Andy Griffith Show and Seinfeld. Recently I’d taken to pointing out to mom that when Jerry Seinfeld himself is at his funniest on his show he is often using “recycled Don Knotts bits”. While I can’t put my finger on one at the moment if you watch when the script calls for Jerry to be funny as an actor he often uses Knott’s schtict that set a comedy standard 40 years before.
Don died last night in Los Angeles of pulmonary and respiratory complications. Reportedly his old friend Andy was at his bedside at the end.
Not being a “Three’s Company” fan I missed Don’s partial reinvention of himself in the early 80’s as the landlord character Ralph Furley. He also appeared on Andy Griffith’s “Matlock” show from time to time. His movie career spanned a half of a century starring in “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken”, “The Incredible Mr. Limpet”, “The Reluctant Astronaut”, “The Love God” , “The Shakiest Gun in the West”, and “The Apple Dumpling Gang” with Tim Conway. He also appeared in my favorite comedy movie “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World”, and “Pleasantville”.
Don was raised in nearby Morgantown, West Virginia where they named a street after him in 1998. He was 81.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Old Guy Hunting...

It just might be time for the Vice-President of the United States to put away his firearms and stop trying to project his first hunter persona.
About once every three months Dick Cheney shows up in a different region of the country and goes on one of those LBJ style hunting outings where various birds of a feather are pre-stocked in advance of his party and basically a shotgun intensive slaughter takes place. Whether or not the unfortunate fowl are collected and shipped back to the Blair House freezers is not known but the VP’s prowess with a shotgun is always noted.
Saturday, unfortunately Mr. Cheney hit more than the quail that were the bird of the month. Mr. Harry Whittington 78, an Austin attorney and longtime Republican Contributor was hit in the face, neck and chest by shotgun pellets from the VP’s gun when Cheney thought he was firing at a covey of quail that arose suddenly behind him. Mr. Whittington is reportedly doing fine in a Corpus Christi area hospital. Described as a friend of the VP Whittington evidently had come up unannounced behind the hunting party and may have been partially responsible for disturbing the quail which Cheney suddenly swung around 180 degrees to shoot at.
Ironically Whittington was once appointed by then Texas Governor George W. Bush to the Texas Funeral Commission.
Whether a cover up of the accident was intended is not known but the VP’s office did not report the incident until after 24 hours had passed. The public began to learn of the accident on the Corpus Christi Caller-Times website after one of their reporters noticed Whittington’s name on a hospital admittance report.
Cheney reportedly had been at Whittington's bedside Sunday afternoon.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Michaels Traded for Cartoon Rabbit...

In perhaps one of the most unusual trades in sports history it was announced today by NBC that it had acquired Al Michaels from ESPN for pre Mickey Disney Cartoon Character "Oswald the Lucky Rabbit".
I’m not making this up.
Al is associated with two momentous events in the history of broadcasting, the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" and the 1989 World Series where he happened to be behind the mike at Candlestick Park when an earthquake struck San Francisco.
Michaels was signed to a $ multi-million 4 year contract with Disney affiliate company ESPN last June to do play by play on ESPN’s new Monday Night Football. Yesterday it was announced that Michaels had opted out of the Monday Night booth and Mike Tirico was chosen to take his place. Behind the scenes ESPN and NBC were negotiating to bring Michaels to NBC’s Sunday Night booth reuniting him with John Madden his broadcast partner from MNF who had previously signed with NBC.
As compensation for Michael's contract Disney/ESPN wanted intellectual property rights held by NBC. These included the opportunity to telecast Friday night coverage of the next four Ryder Cups, expanded highlight coverage of the Olympics and the rights to Oswald the Rabbit.
Oswald was Uncle Walt’s first public cartoon character starring in 26 silent cartoons between 1927 and 1935 and served as a prototype for Mickey Mouse. The rights to the silent rabbit became lost to Universal Studios in 1928 and eventually found their way into NBC’s vault.
NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol in making the announcement said he had been trying to make the deal with Disney/ESPN since last summer.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Mr. Tony MNF!

It was announced today that Washington Post columnist and sports commentator Tony Kornheiser has been chosen to join the new ESPN Monday Night Football broadcast booth along with Mike Tirico and Joe Theismann.
I am a big “Mr. Tony” fan. Most people know Tony from appearing with Michael Wilbon on the Emmy winning ESPN show “Pardon the Interruption”. Those in the Washington D.C. area know him not only for his sports columns but also for the “humor” columns he did for many years in the Sunday “Style” section of the Post.
Tony has also done a sports radio talk show in Washington for about 16 years, several of which were nationally syndicated by ESPN. I listen to his 2 hour show M-F on “Sportstalk 980's" internet site.
There is speculation now that Tony will have to give up the radio show because he doesn’t like to fly and will have to spend a lot of time traveling to the various Monday Night Football venues next year.
I’m fairly certain that Tony will make both a positive and humorous contribution to MNF..

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