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Show Business with Dr. Mike Lano

2014

2012 Archive

 

December 2013

My pick for 2013's best reality show is FXX's Being: Mike Tyson. Mike may have been a polarizing figure, but he's grown and become both a sensitive, highly-educative person and tv/film/stage entertainer. Besides prominent movie roles like The Hangover, he continues interesting Hollywood to continually make documentaries and reality shows about him.

I attended both pre- and post-Spike Lee directed versions of Undisputed Truth, Mike's one-man Broadway show that's touring North America, and talked with him and his wonderful wife Kiki in the dressing room after his Oakland Fox Theatre event, before an array of celebrities and boxing greats held court with The Champ. Mike made sure to take pictures with everyone who wanted them as well as with his fans hours after that. "Who would've thought I'd be at the Tony Awards this year, singing and dancing on-stage?" And doing stand-up with Jeff Ross, who's one of the best comics out there. I've gotten more comfortable with who I am now in showbiz."

His Undisputed Truth-filmed special debuts on HBO and shows his rangesta. From crushingly not really knowing his mother's true history amidst abject poverty growing up to stealing and getting into trouble. That is until kindly but crusty legendary boxing trainer Cus D'Amato pointed Mike in the right direction in amateur and pro sports, besides adopting him. Cus died just as Mike was going global "and that loss just crushed me. I was never the same and it just haunted me. I later acted out and did bad things but since meeting my current wife and having her help me remain sober while becoming a better person, I know I'm on the right road now."

Mike is sensitive enough to be beware of hangers-on and those who just want to absorb some of his star aura. "Boxing promoter Don King and others just used me like they did others. And caused so much pain and heartache."

"I don't want people thinking they might know me if all they know is the Iron Mike from my old matches or the media that enswirled me as a young kid. I'm different now, more in tune with the world and sensitive to everyone else on the planet. More in touch with who I am now and want to become. It's a struggle every day but I've really come a long way. This is who I am and who I want people to know. I'm Michael Gerard Tyson the person, not ‘Iron Mike the pop-culture character.' I continue being a work in progress, but I'm at peace and really appreciating what's most important: my family."

Doctor Kiki really cares about Mike and their children and I've seen it at other private events. She's truly been a positive, loving influence for him and has no desire to be in the spotlight. "The spotlight I enjoy now is hopefully entertaining people, but more importantly making them think about becoming better, kinder people. I'm doing it to support my family, but my most cherished times are with them at home, no cameras around."

 

November 2013

This truly is the modern Golden-Age-of-Television we're all thankful for this Thanksgiving. Many returning talented stars from Broadway and film include Michael J Fox, Robin Williams, Andie MacDowell, Rebel Wilson, Toni Collette, James Caan and more. Wow!

Honorary Oscars next February will go to Steve Martin and Angela Lansbury for their respective bodies of work plus to Angelina Jolie for her global humanitarian efforts. Martin began selling magic tricks and playing banjo at Disneyland before going on to write for CBS' Smothers Brothers show. I photographed his first comedy gig at L.A.'s Troubadour the same year Elton John packed this famous club. Martin the past five years has unselfishly given $50,000 and Letterman show appearance to the top new banjo undiscovered talent and he and Edie Brickell were the top musical act at San Francisco's annual Hardly, Strictly Bluegrass Festival I cover. Totally free event as were views of the America's Cup race along our Embarcadero. A thrilling win for Larry Ellison's Oracle/Team USA that got huge ratings after a slow month that saw America's team not only busted and fined for alleged cheating, but that incredible come-from-behind series. The funny thing is all but two of Team USA's crew are from New Zealand, which was the team we played and who should've beaten us before our comeback.

E's Total Divas reality show about WWE lady wrestlers remains ratings gold. WWE men's champ Daniel Bryan and Divas star Brie-Bella recently became engaged and they're a major story arc on both scripted RAW(Mondays, USA) besides Divas. The grappling groom said "we're getting married next spring and yep, cameras will be there for it. Not everything though!" WWE's opposition, TNA Impact (Thursdays, Spike) has a great talent roster too from former Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle to flying females and speedy junior-heavyweights. Fox-Sports-One and FXX still air new, incredible MMA shows.

TVLand recently aired a 1965 episode of Sally Field's Gidget featuring her friends Bonnie Franklin, Barbara Hershey and Katherine Ross! Major star-power!

 

October 2013

Not only did Joy Behar leave ABC's The View, but the following week her daily show on Current Network ended when Al Jazeera America took over the channel originally founded by Al Gore. AJA says "we wanted to clean house and start with a fresh slate of mostly international news programs." Many had hoped they'd retain some of Current's better news/talk shows like Joy's, but they appear to have eliminated all that was "Current."

"I wanted to take a rest because doing two shows daily really became exhausting. I'm no Giuliana Rancic. Just how many shows is that girl juggling on E!? Seriously, it was thrilling especially having President Obama on The View twice, but exhausting. Now I'll have more time for family and stand-up writing, plus I'll be back, maybe on Telemundo!," she said. Barbara Walters (also leaving The View next year) admitted that Regis Philbin had first recommended Joy for The View after seeing her improv show.

The fall season always brings new talkers with this year's newbie crop from Queen Latifah, Arsenio Hall and Bethenny Frankel; but no new ensemble shows like The Talk or Doctors. All three have had better starts than summer trials Kris (Jenner) and The Real which to date weren't renewed. Keith "bridgeburner" Olbermann debuted on ESPN2, on what's supposed to be a nightly sports talker, but so far he's primarily talked about himself, "Keith-Week" and previous flameouts at ESPN, Sunday Night Football, Fox, MSNBC, and most recently Current. He remains a colorful and entertaining braggart, and his audience would love him to eventually mix in his politics with the sports reporting he's supposed to focus on.

Katie Couric's ABC syndie is reportedly again being "revitalized and retooled" as her first year seemed to revolve around too much fluff and ent-news (leave that to GMA) from the once groundbreaking female who was the first solo news anchor when she left The Today Show for CBS News.

Reader Ed Garea asked about "showrunners" which is the person responsible for a tv series day-to-day operations. They might traditionally also be the Executive Producer and/or head writer providing continued focus and direction. And unlike movies, they hold clout over the director, firmly leaving their creative stamp.

September 2013

DirecTV's new Dog Channel is fun viewing even if you're not 4-legged!

Rewatched 1946 Courage of Lassie that my grandfather Lionel Houser wrote the screenplay for, expertly revisited by Robert Osbourne on TCM and it's still great. The lengthy opening depicting Lassie helping various forest animals is devoid of dialogue but still tells a great story until 12 year old Elizabeth Taylor utters the film's first words. Lionel also wrote Christmas in Connecticut for Barbara Stanwyke. He was signed to RKO in 1935 and soon after wrote Girl From Mexico launching their profitable "Mexican Spitfire" series. He later worked for MGM(Lassie), Republic and Warner Brothers studios(Christmas). He was born two days before my own birthday on April 16th, 1908 and we lost him 11/12/49 at only 41. My grandmother Barbara also drafted screenplays but had to submit them under a male name(Bob) because those were different times and women just weren't in that many power positions.

Someone in a major position of power is former WCW/WWE wrestler and formerly "the next Mrs George Clooney" in leggy Stacy Kiebler. Stacy's new Lifetime reality show Supermarket Superstar is a ratings hit. It's about aspiring food entrepreneurs pitching ideas to food industry professionals hoping to move their products onto store shelves. They should get legendary sports announcer, Jim Ross and his tremendous BBQ product line on. Stacy told me by phone "this is a dream come true hosting something I love and support. Wait until you see some of the people we have on and their amazing stories!"

I say leggy because she was recently on E!s fun Fashion Police and told Joan Rivers that from hip to toe she measures four feet! And "those legs" are reportedly insured by Lloyds of London. To think she started her tv career as the on-air girlfriend of Ric Flair's wrestling son David. Now she's on every red carpet including the last two Academy Awards. Fox also rolled out the red carpet to it's new 24-hour FoxSports1 channel taking on ESPN in a battle for viewers. It offers tons of great UFC programming like Ultimate Fighter, Nascar, MLB games plus the "SportsCenter-like" FoxSportsLive show.

To answer reader Beth Jang, a Demo/Show Reel is the filmed equivalent of an actor's portfolio, submitted to hopefully land a role or job and usually shows their best work.

 

June 2013

It's time for more industry terms.

UPFRONT: the annual meeting hosted by tv network executives for the press and advertisers. Both get introduced to new and returning shows, and the latter buy tv ad time "up front" before the traditional September "season" begins. Commercial-less HBO, Showtime and other channels have radically rocked that old timed concept, with original programming all year long.

NATPE: is the annual tv syndicators convention where big deals are made for shows. In the 80's and 90's glory days, we had access to Oprah, Siskel and Ebert, Joan Rivers, Andrew Dice Clay, Regis and Kathy, and even the Seinfeld cast. I Interviewed Michael Richards and Larry David about their early tv days on ABC's Fridays show which was similar to SNL but edgier. Besides Andy Kaufman's wild antics, musical guest Wendy O. Williams and her band The Plasmatics set a car on fire and destroyed most of the set. Larry's recurring spoof skit("The Golden Boys") on cheating pro wrestlers was "one of my proudest tv moments before Seinfeld, " he told me in 1993.

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Now is the time to check out new network shows. America's Got Talent was first introduced as a summer test, and it quickly became a ratings monster. Lots of celeb judge-shifting and cast changes amongst the competition reality shows as they look to respark audience share.

Major European bands Daft Punk and Sigur Ros will be all over tv this month, besides promoting their intense new cd's. Punk's new hit song "Get Lucky" is said to be THE summer song of 2013 and is crossing over genre charts. The robotic duo collaborated with 70's legends Georgio Moroder and Paul Williams and hope you'll give a listen. Song and musician exposure is one reason variety shows should make a comeback; since Colbert Show, Ellen, GMA and The Today Show along with music award shows are basically today's primary venues. Also the always awesome Palladia and Audience Networks on DirecTV.

NBC saved Community for another season, but ABC nixed Happy Endings. If you loved HE, shout on public forums for your voice to be heard. TBS is reportedly interested. Possibly.

 

May 2013

TV insiders are still talking about NBC's alleged planned ouster of Jay Leno next year, replacing him with Late Night host Jimmy Fallon and moving The Tonight Show from L.A. back to New York where it began. One NBC former exec joked "in case things don't work out with Jimmy, they could pitch to Letterman just down the street from the new Tonight Show studio since Dave was Johnny Carson's succession choice in the first place!"

While Steve Allen was the first Tonight Show host, many forget the many times from 1956-on that Allen's rival, Ernie Kovacs also hosted the show. Ernie was indeed TV's original pioneering genius and he's in all media halls of fame with many documentaries made about his life. Historians say his show was far more creative than anything Allen or even Milton Berle did at the same time and that Allen admitted lifting many longtime Kovacs bits like "Man-On-The-Street"(now called "Jay-Walking" on Leno's version of the show). He brilliantly experimented with the media, treating tv like his art canvas and synchronizing all sorts of sounds with wild images. NBC, CBS, ABC and even Dumont Network Brass(Ernie worked for them all) never quite figured out how to market him properly before he died in a car crash in 1962. I first interviewed his legendary widow Edie Adams in 1988 and she said "in 1957, they gave him a hellish 27-minute slot opposite Sullivan besides a Jerry Lewis solo special. Critics applauded Ernie's "Silent Show" inventiveness and it surprisingly trounced everyone else ratings-wise while winning Emmys." Jackie Gleason, Bob Hope and Jack Benny had long put Ernie over as amazing and he was Jack Lemmon's best friend who often was Ernie's lead Tonight guest. Laugh-In and SNL have admitted Ernie's fifties skits and adlibbing inspired their own shows. Showtime is supposed to replay their 1982 documentary on him and it's must-watch. Ernie loved New York and especially being Steve Allen's summer hiatus replacement often drawing higher ratings. So he'd love Tonight's move back home.
 
ABC won't the only network beginning partnerships with long-standing Hispanic channels to present original U.S. programming in English and Spanish. Don't forget to check your DirecTV messages as they often point to new channels, quizzes and more! In that spirit, a special prize will go to the first to email me(wrealano@aol.com) the correct answer to which legendary MLB Fox announcer recently retirement after 34 years.

 

April 2013

With Tax Day around the corner most stars and tv folks are doing the stress dance with their accountants. The same could be said for ABC censors.

Seven second delays were reportedly not in effect (initially) on Dancing With The Stars for wild and unpredictable contestant Andy Dick. World Wrestling Entertainment suplexed a page from DWTS in having a bad guy ("heel") alleged champion dancer character named "Fandango" debut when DWTS returned on ABC. Independent grappler Johnny Curtis plays the role and said he's "actually been a real dancer and this is an exaggeration of my real persona to make it more realistic." Longtime Vince McMahon Jr friend Donald Trump gets inducted into their "Hall of Fame" this month before WrestleMania at Madison Square Garden which has been the apex of major televised sports and events. That public announcement was perfectly timed, just days before Trump's Celebrity Apprentice returned to NBC garnering extra publicity. "It's a win/win for Vince and myself," Trump told me. Was on a teleconference call with him and LaToya Jackson and whether one loathes or likes his persona and views, he's pretty charming. Just don't ask him about HBO Real Time host Bill Maher.

Speaking of reality tv, it's quietly been taking a small ratings hit overall in favor of scripted programs. For example, surveyed viewers prefer DWTS newbies rather than last season's all-star returnees.Loved E!'s recurring spoof of The Bachelor (Burning Love) with some name stars like Kristen Bell portraying fake female contestants. Comedy Central's Jeff Ross vehicle, The Burn returns for a third great season, although at press time E! isn't sure about Whitney Cummings Love You, Mean It. Last time I interviewed her, she said "juggling three tv shows all at the same time is insane!" Kudos for her non-stop work ethic while saluting her mentor Chelsea Handler.

Former SNL star Andy Samberg gets busy this month filming his next comedy. He got engaged to folk singer/harpest Joanna Newsom recently. They've not done any musical-comedy together yet, but things look encouraging since her star turn on IFC's Portlandia.

Most everyone in entertainment remains sad about 108 year-old Hollywood Daily Variety magazine (the trade bible) ceasing publication, although the weekly version continues. My great uncles John and Merv Houser wrote for it in the forties and fifties.

 

March 2013

An update from last month: it's now just The Artie Lange Show, but he's beefed up the comics on the show, like with my pal, the hilarious Rev. Bob Levy. Both he and Artie were long-timers on The Howard Stern show.

Ultra-HD TV was one of the highlights at the recent Consumer Electronics Show. Some manufacturers claim their resolution will be four or more times clearer than current 1080p sets, especially for larger screen sizes like LG's 84", $20,000, Ultra-HD TV. As with most TV technology, prices will decrease quickly with time. The big question is whether people will adopt it widely or treat it similarly to the incredible 3D-TV movement which still needs a larger audience to be more than a novelty. Many say four to eight times resolution looks great at any distance and gives the effect of 3D anyway but without the glasses. With more than eight million pixels, these TVs really deliver amazing images of bodies of water, blades of grass, even individual snowflakes. As with 3D, unless you have DirecTV there's not enough content out there yet, but Ultra-HD sets can convert what you're already watching. By the way, some 50" 3D -TVs are now selling for less than $900, a third of their original price. And with free glasses that don't need to be charged! DirecTV 3D content I've viewed includes extreme snow sports, animals and basketball.

Amongst the other 19,999 products launched at CES are several voice-command-integrated TVs. Samsung's new F8000LED "understands" and responds to vocal search requests like "find a movie about the making of television". LG's 55" GA7900 Google TV may cost as little as $1500 USD.

Here's hoping MMA in 3D is next. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson was upset that cameras cut his farewell-to-UFC speech after possibly his last fight for the organization (which has great programming on Fox, FX and Fuel Nets). Competitor Bellator is on Spike with the newest recruit in the colorful and talented King Mo who originally worked for Zuffa/UFC's Strikeforce. Mo will be doing double-duty also in wrestling rings for TNA Impact (Thursdays on Spike). Since Rampage grew up on Jerry "The King" Lawler and classic Memphis Wrestling (the number one show in that entire market for decades on Saturdays), maybe he'll join that other "king" there too!

Get well wishes to UFC boss Dana White after major surgery.

 

February 2013

My wife couldn't wait until Downton Abbey's third season returned January 6th. Academy Award winner Shirley MacLaine joined Julian Fellowes' all-star cast (topped by Maggie Smith, who has won nearly every award out there). Director Brian Percival said that "BBC TV was a bit of an adjustment and struggle for MacLaine. She worked super hard each evening memorizing her lines and fleshing out her character. She loved the show and got along great with everyone, which translates on-camera. When her character first came down and was greeted by everyone, it was hard to remember this was not the legend Shirley MacLaine, but the character she plays, Martha Levinson. I think our American audiences will really enjoy the new season in the New Year."

Recently interviewed Mad About You star Paul Reiser who remains proud of his long-time co-star Helen Hunt and her work in The Sessions, which might bring her an Academy Award. "I started doing stand-up again just because I enjoy doing it so much again after not having done it in years. I was asked to do a recent charity event and had so much fun, I called some clubs in California and Florida and got myself booked." Reiser took time off from TV to enjoy his family and ended up writing another great book about it, Familyhood.

Audience Network (239) has been airing the syndicated Nick & Artie Show Friday nights. First-class comics Nick DiPaolo (a regular on FX's Louie) and Artie Lange (MADtv, The Howard Stern Show and NY Times best-selling author) broadcast their wild national radio show, skewing sports and pop-culture news from arguably the greatest studio ever created by Man Cave and NFL star Tony Siragusa. Maxim girls and celeb pals round out this amazing wild ride. Parental discretion advised!

 

January 2013, Satellite Direct 1st Annual DeeTeeVee Awards

In no particular order:

Louie, Homeland, Later...with Jools Holland, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Modern Family, South Park, The Simpsons, Walking Dead, Extreme Couponers, The Colbert Report, The Daily Show, Bill Maher, RAW, Boardwalk Empire, Anderson Cooper 360, Joy Behar: Say Anything, 30 Rock, Rock Center, The Big C, Ricky Gervais' An Idiot Abroad and Life's Too Short; PBS' Nature, Ed Sullivan specials and Jacques Pépin shows; World Series coverage over on Fox, HBO and Showtime boxing, Ultimate Fighter, and the sadly cancelled Treme and Boss.

What else are we leaving out? Good Wife or Chelsea Lately anyone? Hallmark, Lifetime and Ion worked overtime in delivering tons of great holiday movies last month and get New Year's thanks. Sorry Weeds, not this year.

A long time outstanding favorite remains the classic CBS Sunday Morning, which has the best mix of vignettes, important stories and "Moments of Nature."

2012's best show of 2011: Curb Your Enthusiasm

 

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