Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Musical Interlude: Kiss & Tell (1987-8)

Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry scored a huge solo hit with "Kiss & Tell", which was originally released on his 1987 CD, "Bete Noire", then included on the soundtrack to "Bright Lights, Big City" the following year, one of three hits off the soundtrack (MARRS' "Pump Up The Volume" and New Order's "True Faith" also charted).

To me, it's still good soundtrack music for any tabloid magazine show.

Monday, July 28, 2014

TNA has one foot in the grave-----or do they?

The biggest story in pro wrestling today isn't in the WWE. Instead, it's in TNA.

Total Non-stop Action (TNA) Wrestling's contract with Spike TV is up at the end of September or early October, and word got out earlier today that the network would not renew the contract. Some sources cited the rehiring of former head writer Vince Russo, this time as a consultant, as a reason for the non-renewal, but that might not be the only reason.

Russo, an over-the-hill scribe who's also worked for WWE & WCW, was at his best when he had someone editing and filtering his ideas (i.e. Vince McMahon). However, when he left the then-World Wrestling Federation in the fall of 1999 to join his pal Jeff Jarrett in WCW, he got a big head and thought that his ideas could work there, unfiltered, uncensored. Instead, WCW went in the toilet in the ratings, and was bought out by McMahon less than 18 months after Russo arrived. He's on his fourth tour with TNA, the first without Jarrett being there to vouch for him, and you can bank on him joining Jarrett when the former champ's new promotion, Global Force Wrestling, debuts next year.

The other problem involves co-owner Dixie Carter, who became more of an on-camera character within the last year, morphing into an amalgam of Vince & Stephanie McMahon, another example of TNA's current creative team being bereft of new ideas, and that's only because Russo doesn't have anything new himself. He'd rather recycle old ideas or copy what WWE is doing. In an angle that is set to air next month, since television was taped weeks in advance in New York, Carter was plunged through a table by Bully Ray, and reportedly suffered some legit injuries to her back, despite Ray's best efforts to protect her from the impact (pun intended). Carter was written off television as a result. Carter's main problem is that she is and always has been a mark for the business, and repeatedly hired people off WWE's cut list, including Bully Ray (formerly Bubba Ray Dudley), Jeff Hardy, Kurt Angle, and Ken Anderson, relying on such name recognition to pop an extra rating point, having next to no faith in the talent that had been with the company virtually from day one (i.e. James Storm, Christopher Daniels). 

When Jarrett was helping run the show, he insisted on being put over as the NWA champion (TNA was part of the National Wrestling Alliance for the first few years), even though he didn't need to be. His act was stale, and never really changed, even with a couple of babyface runs. Now, he's developing another promotion, as noted above, and one hopes he's learned from his mistakes.

However, updated headlines as the day progressed have thrown cold water on fans' hopes that TNA would have one foot in the grave. It's being reported now that they're still negotiating with Spike TV, and it's rumored that it's for a lower rate, which won't help the promotion's bottom line. TMZ Sports made the initial report on Sunday, but we should've known a gossip site wouldn't have all the facts or details readily available. If TNA were to leave Spike, where would they go? Fox might not take them back. The Fox Sports Net regional networks were TNA's 1st TV home a decade ago, but a floating time slot meant low ratings, and after a brief stint of internet-only programming, they arrived on Spike in October 2005.

Times have changed at Spike, too. Sure, they're playing reruns of Cops into the ground (it's a Viacom channel, what did you expect?), just as they did the same with Star Trek: The Next Generation a decade ago. They don't know how to program effectively anymore. None of the MTV Networks do. The network needs a makeover, and there's a rumor that they would be willing to buy out TNA in order to keep it at the network. They bought the Bellator MMA promotion to keep that going, but would they be willing to take a chance on a ship that's already sinking?

If in fact TNA is gone from Spike come October, Bellator and another MMA promotion, Glory, can fill the void, or they can negotiate with Sinclair to bring Ring of Honor Wrestling to the network. For most discriminating fans, that would be a win for both sides in that case. NBC-Universal is not an option for TNA, not when they're home to the WWE. But what about, irony of ironies, a Time Warner channel, like TNT? Would they try to turn back the clock to 1995 again and restart the "Monday Night Wars"? I don't think so.

No, what I think will happen is that Spike will go ahead and non-renew TNA, and be done with it. They need to change their identity, and so does TNA, and it'd be better for both sides if they part. Period.

Musical Interlude: Here Comes the Rain Again (1983)

England's Eurythmics reached #8 on the Hot 100 with "Here Comes the Rain Again", the 1st single from the album, "Touch", the 2nd of two albums released in 1983. With heavy, heavy rain sweeping across the northeast the last couple of days, I thought this might be appropriate.......

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Modern Classic: Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1994)

The most successful graduate of Universal's ambitious Action Pack movie anthology series, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys transitioned into a 1 hour weekly series in January 1995. The series would last six seasons total, though the final season consisted of just six episodes.

Hercules (Kevin Sorbo), the son of a mortal woman and the Greek god Zeus, traveled with a number of companions, most notably Iaolus (Michael Hurst), who was initially killed off at the start of season 5, only to have an evil god take over his body before it was driven out by Hercules. Some episodes had Hercules meeting other heroes of myth, including Jason, in his travels. After a couple of appearances in season 1, Xena, Warrior Princess was spun off into her own equally successful series.

For some reason, some episodes in seasons 4 & 5 took the most extreme of tangents, as the producers took a light-hearted look at themselves, the idea being to either use past clips, or, in one instance, just to give Hercules a little, ah, vacation. Actor Bruce Campbell (Autolycus) directed at least one of these episodes, as well as a few others during the series. Campbell would also appear on Xena, and then landed his first headlining series in the short-lived Jack of All Trades.

In some cities, Hercules would air premiere episodes in primetime, then repeat them a week later in a much earlier time frame, usually between 1 & 3 pm (ET), giving fans additional chances to catch up. In all one episode could air as much as three times in the course of a week, since the series would replay on a Sunday morning after a Saturday evening premiere.

From season 3, here's "Doomsday":

The poster got the title wrong or mixed up.

Two feature film versions of "Hercules" this year haven't exactly been blockbusters, and Kevin Sorbo reportedly was a bit miffed that he wasn't even asked to make an appearance in the current film, starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, which I believe finished behind "Lucy" this week.

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys gets a B.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Celebrity Rock: Try To Remember (1979)

Long after Daniel Boone had ended, Ed Ames went back to his first vocation as a singer, and made the usual rounds, and some unusual ones.

One of those "unusual" rounds brought him to PBS' Over Easy for a broadcast that aired on New Year's Eve, 1979. After an interview conducted by host Hugh Downs (20/20, ex-Concentration, The Today Show), Ames performs "Try To Remember", from the Broadway show, "The Fantasticks".

Enough said.

What Might've Been: Then Came Bronson (1969)

Then Came Bronson lasted just 1 season, perhaps because it was a tad ahead of its time, but part of its concept seemed to have been borrowed from elsewhere.

Reporter Jim Bronson (Michael Parks) gives up his job after a friend (Martin Sheen) commits suicide. Bronson had sold a custom motorcycle to his bud, then buys it back from the widow after his pal passes. After that, Bronson goes off on the bike, wandering the country, helping people in need. In a way, this was Route 66 on 2 wheels instead of 4. Parks also recorded the show's closing theme, "Long Lonesome Highway", which was a huge hit, and two albums compiling music from the series were released.

Executive producer Herb Solow was a show-runner for Star Trek, and brought in producer Robert Justman after Trek had ended. The guest stars during the season included some familiar names, including Trek's James Doohan, Elsa Lanchester, Jack Klugman (one year before Odd Couple made him an icon), and Penny Marshall (ditto). MGM was hoping Bronson would be as big a hit for NBC as The Man From U.N.C.L.E. had been, but for some reason, perhaps being on the wrong night (Wednesdays), it just didn't work.

Following is a preview clip from NBC's fall preview for '69, which we previously posted, narrated by Hugh Downs.

No rating.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Videos of Summer: A Summer Song (1964)

Here's another summer song that was actually released well after summer had ended.

Chad & Jeremy released "A Summer Song" in the fall of 1964, but would parlay it into appearances on The Patty Duke Show & Batman, the latter of which came more than 2 years after "Summer" climbed the charts. The duo were central to a plot by Catwoman (Julie Newmar), who seemed to have a thing for pop music, considering in another storyline, singer Lesley Gore was her sidekick.

Anyway, from a weekday episode of American Bandstand, Dick Clark introduces "A Summer Song" & Chad & Jeremy: