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Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

Jon Robin Baitz was already a successful playwright when he went to Hollywood to create ABC’s Brother’s and Sisters. The show was a hit for Baitz, but turns out, the city was anything but: “It was a nightmare.  Just the fact that I came from New York and wrote sort of serious-ish plays, before I opened my mouth, there was a kind of trope going around the network already: ‘We can’t have any of the Baitzian angst.'”

After a lot of angst, Baitz got a one-way ticket back to New York where he wrote his new play “Other Desert Cities” (now playing at New York City’s Lincoln Center to great praise). It’s the story of Brooke, a writer who comes home for Christmas and reveals to her family that she’s publishing a tell-all memoir — about them.

But Baitz admitted to Kurt that breaking up with TV was messy:

You can hear more of Kurt’s conversation with Jon Robin Baitz on this weekend’s show.

– Dory Carr-Harris

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This week, Matt Damon stops by the studio to talk about his career in movies – from his role as the windbag LaBeouf in “True Grit” to his impressive improvised monologue in “Saving Private Ryan.”  But one of our favorite appearances has to be his recent foray on NBC’s “30 Rock.” He plays Liz Lemon’s insecure pilot boyfriend who yearns to settle down for true love.

Damon told Kurt how he got the gig.

Damon’s full conversation with Kurt airs this weekend — listen online here.

– Julia Botero

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(photo by Michael Lamont)

About a year ago, Carrie Fisher (script doctor, memoirist, recovering Princess) took to Broadway a one-woman show called “Wishful Drinking” – an account of her struggles with alcoholism, failed romances, and brushes with death that proved Fisher had a knack for stand-up.  A filmed version of her stage show airs this weekend on HBO.

Fisher has long been outspoken about her problems, but seeing is believing.  When she came to Studio 360 to talk with Kurt late in the afternoon, a couple hours before showtime, she arrived in dark glasses, and yawning.  “To me there’s Carrie and there’s Carrie Fisher,” she explained, “and Carrie has to make sure Carrie Fisher gets enough sleep so Carrie Fisher can do her show, [because] Carrie wants to go shopping.”

You can hear their full conversation here:

– Jenny Lawton

About a year ago, Carrie Fisher (script doctor, memoirist, recovering Princess) took to Broadway a one-woman show called “Wishful Drinking” – an account of her struggles with alcoholism, failed romances, and brushes with death that proved Fisher had a knack for stand-up.  A filmed version of her stage show airs this weekend on HBO.

Fisher has long been outspoken about her problems, but seeing is believing.  When she came to Studio 360 to talk with Kurt late in the afternoon, a couple hours before showtime, she arrived in dark glasses, and yawning.  “To me there’s Carrie and there’s Carrie Fisher,” she explained, “and Carrie has to make sure Carrie Fisher gets enough sleep so Carrie Fisher can do her show, [because] Carrie wants to go shopping.”

– JL

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For our next American Icon, Studio 360 is headed to Southfork Ranch…via Estonia!

After the premiere of nine new stories this fall, our second series of American Icons episodes is nearly complete.  There’s just one more show left to make – yours!  Throughout the broadcasts, we’ve been asking listeners to nominate their own Icons.  We got some great ideas, but none impressed us more than Laura Detre’s suggestion of the television series Dallas, which ran from 1979 – 1991 on CBS.

The original cast of Dallas.

Laura says Dallas presented an alluring, glamorous vision of capitalism that may have had an even larger impact abroad than here at home.  Especially in the old Eastern Bloc.

Movie still from "Disco and Atomic War" - courtesy of Icarus Films

How much impact could one American soap opera have?  A lot, according to Jaak Kilmi a film director who grew up behind the Iron Curtain in Tallinn, Estonia in the 1970s and 80s.  At one point during the Cold War, Tallinn began receiving Western television programs from a giant transmitter in nearby Finland.  Kilmi told us no television program was more loved or influential than Dallas:  “It was a substitute for a nice life that we didn’t have.  We wanted to believe that people live in skyscrapers and have beautiful cars.”

Jaak had even more to say about Dallas and the fall of Communism.  We’ll share that when our American Icons story is broadcast in the spring.  In the meantime, Jaak’s movie about American soft power in Soviet Estonia (including David Hasselhoff’s modest contribution)  is out now in limited release.  It’s called Disco and Atomic War, and it recently won Best Documentary prize at the Warsaw International Film Festival.

-Michael Guerriero

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What do Lucille Ball and Malcolm X have in common?

They’re both part of Studio 360 American Icons series.  This fall, we’ve traced the impact of The Autobiography of Malcolm X on race relations and glimpsed the dawn of the American sitcom with I Love Lucy.  Last week we visited Monticello – Thomas Jefferson’s home in Virginia – and in wandering the building and the grounds, confronted some lingering questions about the country and its founding.

Monticello (photo by Geoff Kilmer / Monticello)

Now we’re turning to you for a little “listener support.”  No, it’s not a pledge drive (though we encourage you to support your local station…).

Tell us what we’ve missed. We’ve produced nine new Icons — we want you to decide the tenth.  If your pick is selected, we’ll make a radio story about it — and you could be a guest on an episode of Studio 360.

We put out the call a few weeks ago, and our listeners have already come up with some surprising and impressive ideas. They range wide across America’s cultural landscape: from My Antonia and The Sound and the Fury to Bugs Bunny, from the Airstream Trailer to Apollo 11.  Daniel Leathersich, of Kutztown, Pennsylvania, suggested Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road” because it’s a “quintessential song of the dreams of youth, the wonder of escape, and what people become from their memories.”

We need to hear from you.  Tell us your ideas…and listen for our tenth American Icon!

– Michael Guerriero

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Feeling adventurous this fall season? Well National Geographic has you covered with this zebra-printed Great Migrations reusable accessory. If you’re in need of a new handbag, tote bag, grocery bag, or Mary Poppins bag (you know, the ones you just throw a lot of junk in and call it a purse), this is your lucky day.

This bit of swag promotes the episode “Zebra on the Move” from the new series Great Migrations, premiering November 7th.

There’s also a beautiful book of photos that goes along with the series.

We also got a blue super air blaster from co-sign collective (a group of independent business owners and contractors within the entertainment industry) — but this has us scratching our heads. How do you use it?

Air Blaster anyone?

When you find out let us know!

– Georgette Pierre

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On Monday, we started our Week of Lucy with a pop quiz. Here are the answers:

Question #1: Which was not in the contract for the cast members?

A. Desi Arnaz could only perform a song when it was deemed by the writers to be essential to the plot.

B. Bill Frawley was allowed to miss performances if the Yankees were in the World Series.

C. Vivian Vance’s weight had to exceed Lucille Ball’s by 10 to 15 pounds for the entire run.

D. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were given 100% ownership to the rights of I Love Lucy.

Answer: C

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It has long been rumored that Lucille Ball contractually required Vivian Vance to weigh more than her, but it’s not true. In 1975, during an appearance on a daytime talk show, Vance poked a little fun at this persistent piece of gossip by reading from her supposed employment contract. This is a snippet of what she read:

  1. Party of the First Part [Vance] must promise to never dye her hair within five shades either way of the Party of the Second Part [Ball], also known as the lovable natural red head
  1. Party of the First Part must also agree to put on an additional five pounds per month for the next year and retain her rotundity.
  1. Party of the First Part must strive against all odds to never garner more laughs in any given situation w/in the structure of the Lucy show. There is, incidentally, a penalty if this occurs.

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Question #2: Which notorious dictator had reels and reels of old I Love Lucys?

A. Pol Pot

B. Idi Amin

C. Kim Il-sung

D. Robert Mugabe

Answer: B

When fleeing Uganda, Idi Amin left behind his stash of several racing cars and loads of old film reels of I Love Lucy and “Tom and Jerry” cartoons.

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Question #3: Upon seeing the I Love Lucy pilot, what cultural luminary said, “Keep the redhead. Ditch the Cuban. No one will understand him.”

A. Oscar Hammerstein

B. Truman Capote

C. Dorothy Parker

D. Carmen Miranda

Answer: A

Oscar Hammerstein was good friends with Milton Biow, the ad man who helped I Love Lucy find its sponsor, Philip Morris. When Biow explained that the Cuban came with the redhead as a package deal, Hammerstein said they shouldn’t let him sing. As a result, it went into the contract that any performance by Desi had to be essential to the plot. (As the show became a huge hit, Arnaz did as much singing as he pleased.)

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Question #4: What did William Frawley not do on the set of I Love Lucy?

A. Pause rehearsals in order to place a bet on a horse race.

B. Rip out his pages from the script, so that he’d know his lines and nothing more.

C. Get in a fistfight with cameramen who he thought were shooting him at  unflattering angles.

D. Nap.

Answer: C

William Frawley played the curmudgeonly landlord Fred Mertz.  Frawley was an old vaudevillian, a gambler, and a drinker – a good time guy, not a particularly diligent worker, and certainly not worried about looking pretty for the camera. Sometimes, when Frawley would be napping on the set, Desi Arnaz would give him a “hot foot,” a kind of old timey prank when you set someone’s shoelaces on fire (watch out, Kurt). The writers of I Love Lucy knew that if they wrote too many lines of dialogue for him, Frawley would pull them aside and give them a talking to. Number one hit show be damned, he needed time to play the ponies.

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Question #5: During the second season of I Love Lucy, Lucille Ball was pregnant, and so was her character on the show.  Which of the following is not true:

A. The word pregnant was never used during on the show.

B. The twin beds of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo were pushed further apart.

C. A priest, a rabbi, and a minister vetted the scripts.

D. Philip Morris dropped sponsorship during the pregnancy.

Answer: D

Philip Morris did not drop its sponsorship during the episodes of I Love Lucy in which Lucy was pregnant. But Lucy Ricardo did cut back on her smoking while she was carrying.

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Question #6: Who played Little Ricky on I Love Lucy?

A. Richard Keith

B. Keith Richards

C. Desi Arnaz Jr.

D. Keith Thibodeaux

Answer: A or D

Most people assume that Desi Arnaz Jr. played Little Ricky on I Love Lucy, something that bothers Desi Jr. Little Ricky was actually played by Keith Thibodeaux, a child actor who could play the heck out of a conga drum. In the credits of I Love Lucy Thibodeaux is listed as either “Little Ricky” or “Richard Keith.” And at one time, he was even listed in an encyclopedia of TV as Keith Richards. (That’s a show we’d like to see.) Thibodeaux left acting and later co-founded Ballet Magnificat!, an arts organization “dedicated to presenting the good news of Jesus Christ to the whole world.”

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This weekend’s episode of “Studio 360” is dedicated to singing the praises of the latest American Icon in our series, I Love Lucylisten to the show HERE.

– Chloe Plaunt

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