The Newbury Park Sound

The Neighbourhood

The Neighbourhood.

It’s been said that most of us stop listening to new music — especially by new bands — when we turn 25.  And by the time we’re 40 we are hopelessly behind the Zeitgeist when it comes to the Latest Thing. So, how about a quick tutorial to make you cool with your kids on one of the hottest new sounds on the pop charts —  courtesy of my son, Tad?

Where Did the TV Audience Go?


shutterstock_173796380On this week’s GLoP Podcast, co-host John Podhoretz noted that last weekend’s Emmy Awards drew the worst ratings of all time. Despite the program being a well-run affair, the broadcast garnered less than 12 million viewers while the key 18-49 demo fell by 14 percent.

Fox foolishly ran the awards opposite “Sunday Night Football” in which my beloved Green Bay Packers trounced the perfidious Seattle Seahawks (you can tell which program I watched). Also, CBS offered a new “Big Brother” episode while AMC had “Fear the Walking Dead.” Was the competition to blame for the lowest ratings in history?

Rob Long had a different explanation for why the Emmys tanked. “Because nobody’s seen the shows,” he said. “The Emmy Awards was an awards show for people who like small shows …  the vast majority of the broadcast audience isn’t watching.”

“Automatic for (Some of) the People” by R.E.M.


Thousands attended a rally today in front of the United States Capital against the Iran Deal. Of the many speakers — including Mark Levin, Glenn Beck, Representative Louie Gohmert, Sarah Palin, and Senator Ted Cruz — the biggest name, and the reason why so many television cameras were on hand, was Donald Trump. Courtesy of CSPAN, here is how he came onto the stage:

Martin Milner, Pete Malloy of “Adam-12,” R.I.P.


Martin Milner, Kent McCord in Adam-12 1970” by Universal Television. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Actor Martin Milner died Sunday at the age of 83. According to his IMDB page, he had 112 acting credits in film and television, a notable accomplishment in a field where so many consider themselves fortunate to earn even one. If I may speak for a generation of police officers — especially those who, like me, joined the LAPD in the 1980s — Milner will always be best known for his portrayal of Officer Pete Malloy on the television series Adam-12.

When Adam-12 first aired in 1968, Pete Malloy was the seasoned LAPD training officer for rookie officer Jim Reed, played by Kent McCord. Malloy was the tutor every young cop yearns to work with and aspires to become: patient, wise, and resourceful. The show ran until 1975 and, unlike the way things actually work in the LAPD, the two remained partners for the entire run of the show. I quickly learned that, on the real streets of Los Angeles, things didn’t always turn out as neatly as they did on Adam-12. Still, the show presented an ideal that most of us tried to achieve even as we often fell short of it.

Colin Quinn Skewers Political Correctness


Colin-Quinn-UnconstitutionalIf you know comedy, you know Colin Quinn. The Brooklyn native began his career on MTV’s “Remote Control” (alongside Adam Sandler), which led to a gig on “Saturday Night Live” (alongside Adam Sandler). Then, in the early ’00s, he hosted the vastly underrated “Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn” on Comedy Central, broadcast nightly after “The Daily Show.”

“Tough Crowd” was set up as yet another cable panel show, but everyone was a comedian, most were friends, and the political viewpoints were all over the place. Guests ranged from the far left to the far right to utterly unclassifiable. One common topic was political correctness since, even then, comics found audiences growing increasingly censorious.

When “Tough Crowd” comics left or right spouted cliched talking points in a joke format (i.e., the “clapper humor” popularized by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert), Quinn would heckle the crowd and ridicule the lazy comic. The guest would usually throw it back at the host and the segment would end with laughter. Nevertheless, the message was reinforced that comedy isn’t just another vehicle for social signaling; it’s about making people laugh and sometimes squirm.

Words of Wisdom from the Movies


“As a lawyer, I’ve had to learn that people aren’t just good or bad. People are many things.”

jimmy stewartThis line is spoken by Paul Beigler, a fictional small-town lawyer brilliantly played by Jimmy Stewart in the courtroom drama Anatomy of a Murder. I don’t want to have to summarize the whole movie (if you haven’t seen it, though, please make sure to do so; it’s a great flick and also features George C. Scott in what I believe was his film debut), so I’m going to oversimplify the context of the scene.

“America Hates Dark”


Fantastic_Four_2015_posterOne of the most successful network executives ever laid down this maxim to a producer who insisted that a new cop show be “dark” and “real:” “America,” he said, “hates dark.” He’s right, of course. When audiences sit down to watch something, they rarely want to be depressed. Gripped, thrilled, grabbed, amused, scared, any or all of those things (and more) are okay … but plunged into a depressing and dark vision of the world? Not so much.

Sure, yes, a few “Dark Knights” may achieve escape velocity and make some real money at the box office, but — for day-in-day-out television viewing — it’s hard to make money that way. And it’s getting harder to make money in the movie theater that way, too. I write a bit about this in my column for The National, the English-language newspaper of Abu Dhabi:

There’s more than enough dark and depressing content on the front page of the newspaper, and audiences – at least in the United States – are expressing their bad-news-fatigue by changing the channel.

Sesame Street Moving to HBO. A Nail in the Coffin for PBS?


Bert_and_ErnieFor the next five seasons, new episodes of Sesame Street will run first on HBO (and its online partners), then on PBS nine months later. As part of the deal, PBS gets the show for free.

So, is this 1) simply a creative funding arrangement for PBS; 2) a nail in the coffin for PBS’ very existence; or 3) best yet  — and my personal opinion — yet more proof that PBS does not need federal subsidies to stay alive and stay “public”?

For those of you still scratching your head over this partnership, it makes perfect sense from a business perspective. Though Sesame Street received funding from PBS, that money amounted to less than 10 percent of the funding needed to produce the series. The remaining cash was procured through licensing revenue from DVD and merchandise sales. However, as more and more people turn to streaming and VOD services, fewer and fewer people are purchasing the physical media which used to be Sesame Workshop’s bread and butter. According to The New York Times, approximately two-thirds of children who currently watch Sesame Street do so on demand rather than watching on PBS. Naturally, if we want more Oscar the Grouch in our lives, Sesame Workshop had to find alternate ways of financing his high-rolling, trash-dwelling lifestyle.

The Daily Show, RIP


yoo_torture-and-stewartBoth conservative and liberal commentators are marking the passing of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, the premier liberal talk show on television. My appearance in January 2010 has been offered as one of the few examples where a conservative beat Stewart at his own game (which Stewart conceded on his show the following day). Conservatives praise the appearance (see Dorothy Rabinowitz in today’s Wall Street Journal and Gerard Alexander in the New York Times), while liberals feel I got off too easy (see Time’s website).

I’m bemused that, of the thousands of episodes that Stewart has done with probably just as many guests, my amateur appearance has taken on such mythic status. I enjoy thinking of the all the hate mail that Stewart received from lefties who accused him of taking a dive in our mano-a-mano cage match. There are some lessons here for conservatives who have to respond to a hostile media:

1. Know your material. It is no idle boast to say that I knew the issues about interrogation, Gitmo, drones, and the War on Terror better than Stewart. He could ask questions that young producers prepared, but he didn’t have the time or interest to study up. A host may want to use the opportunity to score with a snarky comment, but you have the chance to deflate them by laying out your arguments with sweet reason.

Fox News’ GOP Debate: Ratings Magnate


AilesMurdochAn audience of 24 million watched last night’s Republican Presidential Debate on Fox News, according to figures released this afternoon by Nielsen. That’s more viewers than any non-sports event in the history of cable television. Included are 7.9 million in the Adults 25-54 demographic sought by advertisers in the news demo.

Past primary debates with high ratings typically happened closer to the actual voting, an audience of 7.63 million in Iowa on December 12, 2011, and 7.53 million on January 5, 2008 in Manchester, N.H., both on ABC.

More than tripling the best audience of a broadcast competitor, and doing so in the normally low-rated midsummer season is a major triumph for Fox News and CEO Roger Ailes. Over-delivery against probable ad agency estimates makes FNC look like a great bargain for advertisers and media buyers alike, and bodes well for pricing of the network in the upcoming campaign season. Expect much back-slapping among agency media buyers who put their clients in the broadcast.

Film Review: Best of Enemies


BestOfEnemies“Say again, Mr. Vidal? I thought I just heard you call me a ‘pro- or crypto-Nazi.’ Could you please repeat your words clearly for the jury in my forthcoming slander suit?” Alas, you won’t hear words to that effect in Best of Enemies, the engaging documentary about ABC’s ten televised debates between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley before the 1968 Presidential Election. Unfortunately, Buckley took the bait and called Mr. Vidal a “queer,” and compounded the slur by threatening physical violence.

The man we know as WFB had the decency to later repent. In contrast, we learn that Vidal, in his dotage, would replay the video of that moment to guests in his Italian villa. Lacking footage of these private screenings, filmmakers Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon instead treat us to a clip of Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard. I’m not sure how the author of Myra Breckinridge would react to that, but it serves to illustrate the filmmakers’ view of where Vidal wound up.

Movies for Every Mood


imageSeeing a movie in a theater can be an amazing experience — something I hope we don’t lose due to either economics or (misplaced) safety concerns — but it’s generally impractical to see a film repeatedly in theaters, especially one that strikes your particular mood. For that, the home is infinitely superior.

We’ve talked many times about what the best movies are — either artistically or in terms of values — but I’d also like to explore what movies members enjoy under different circumstances. Don’t worry so much about whether a given film is actually the best or even the best-suited to a given circumstance, and feel free either to use my categories or invent your own.

Happiness: The Gods Must Be Crazy

A Ricochet Challenge


I’m torn. On the one hand, I think we should all pause from our busy schedules to consider the most salacious and astonishing tabloid scandal in British history since the Profumo affair. We could surely use the comic relief.

On the other hand, the entire story violates our Code of Conduct.

Listen to Nearly 100 Hours of Shakespeare Free


olivier2Need some cheap entertainment this weekend, but are all caught up with your DVRed episodes of “Naked Amish Tattoo Removers” and “Say Yes to the Transgendered Storage Auction?” Elevate your entertainment by firing up the audio app Spotify for nearly 100 hours of free and fabulous Shakespeare.

The Bard’s plays and poems are meant to be heard, not read, so Spotify user Ulysses Stone collected more than four days worth of the finest actors performing his works.

The actors represented – Sirs Gielgud, Olivier, and McKellen, Derek Jacobi, Edith Evans – are mostly English stage royalty, but we also have Welsh poet Dylan Thomas and actor Richard Burton, and Americans Paul Robeson, Rosalind Russell, and Orson Welles. The value of such a collection is inestimable…

Murder and the Breach of Trust


shutterstock_141495676As you’ve likely heard, some monster in Lafayette, Louisiana went into a movie theater last night, murdered two people, and injured eight more before killing himself.

Much has been written — deservedly so, I think — of the sacrilege and perversity of the way Dylann Roof abused the welcome and hospitality offered by the Bible study group in Charleston before he murdered them. That evil is, of course, mere flourish on the crime of taking eight lives — and attempting to adjudicate it is a waste of time — but it’s significant and real nonetheless.

But, as Alyssa Rosenberg writes in today’s Washington Post, what happened last night also involves a huge violation of trust on top of the murder:

Gawker’s Death Rattle


GawkerMediaThe only remaining question about the demise of Gawker Media is not whether it will die, but, rather, whether its inevitable death will come via a prolonged suicide, or, remarkably, at the hands of Hulk Hogan.

It’s looking more and more like the former scenario will win the race, and not just due to the potential defects in Hogan’s legal argument.

I won’t rehash the details of last week’s Gawker saga, except to say that the decision to remove the reprehensible article about David Geithner was not a popular one among Gawker Media’s newly-unionized editorial and writing workforce.

Bill Cosby, Revisited


tumblr_lzzdgaX7QX1qlw12eo1_500I suspect that I am not alone in being horrified by the unmasking of Bill Cosby. I admired the man. I enjoyed his television show. I thought it salutary. It held up a functional African-American family for admiration. I liked his humor as well. I once had the privilege – and a privilege it was – of being a guest at a table (paid for by Lehmann Brothers) at a charity event where he performed, and I can tell you that there was a sweetness about his performance that, even today, I remember with great pleasure. Moreover, when he spoke about the misconduct evidenced by all too many young African-Americans, he told the unvarnished truth.

So, when I learned that he has not lived his life in accord with what he preached (directly or indirectly) via that television show, in his performances as a comedian, and in his speeches, I was not just shocked. I was deeply saddened – and, I feared, not without reason — that the good he had done with the show, his performances, and his speeches would come to naught. Which is precisely what the left liberals want.

If you want to see the evidence, read William McGurn’s column in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal. It is memorable. It says something that I had meant to say myself, and it says it better and with fuller evidence than I could have done: