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Where Have All The Good Hosts Gone?

TV - Mike Douglas, James Earl Jones, Ray Charles - 19740204

Does anyone remember Mike Douglas? Not Kirk’s son, but the singer, or more to the point the talk show host. If you’re old enough to know what the dial is in “don’t touch that dial” you remember talk shows. There were the urbane slightly sexy late-night variety, that is still offered, though diluted, today. Mike and his contemporaries; Dinah Shore and Merv Griffin were on during the daytime hours. They had each been singers during the big band era and were all incredibly affable.

Each weekday, Mike, Dinah and Merv would host guests, sing a little tune and perhaps perform in an iffy sketch. But it was the guests one really tuned in for. The known and unknown would flock to the couches (and chairs) to chat. Maybe they would perform a bit, but mostly they were there to chat. There was nothing being sold or pitched or positioned. The host (whether M, D or M) would engage the guest (as a good host does) and entertain us with their conversation. The guests were incredibly varied and included political and controversial figures (they also included dancing dogs.) Many of the guests were boldfaced names of Broadway and Hollywood. Others were simply great conversationalists. Some guests were clearly friends of M, D or M, some just dropped by while passing through town. The guests would not then reappear spouting the exact same quips on the couch of the remaining M, D or M. There wasn’t a circuit being run guided by handlers.

Daytime television has changed much over the decades. The popular rhetoric is that people are not home during the day to watch television. But of course this does nothing to explain the spate of news-lite talk shows. For at least a decade the networks, and others, have filled their morning programming with chattering, relatively unscripted talk shows. There are usually a gaggle of hosts sitting around drinking out of large mugs and perhaps a guest drops by to sell his/her wares. There are a small handful of afternoon talk shows built around a host. Every pilot season a new “oh is that what happened to him/her?” celebrity is packaged and (hopefully) sold as a talk show host. Some find their groove some do not. It hardly matters for the guests are exactly the same on each and every show. The questions asked are the same (as written and contracted by handlers) the answers and ‘ad libs’ are the same. The movie, book, show, image, is pitched, the host fawns and everyone goes home happy. You could spend a week clicking the remote and see and hear the exact same thing on each and every show. There is no longer a place for Tiny Tim (look him up), Norman Mailler, a yogi, Martin Luther King Jr., Liberace, Truman Capote or Spiro Agnew (look him up) on the couch, unless of course they were selling their reality show.

Is memory rose colored? One would desperately hope. Who wants to spend their later years remembering anything but hazy romantic perfectly lit moments? But even if the memories are completely faulty and that of a child, even if Minnie Pearl was in fact selling a line of hats, wouldn’t it be grand to have Mike, Dinah and Merv back on the air? How much more entertaining would it be to hear extended conversations without being sold anything besides soap and canned soup? Wouldn’t it be fun to see stars of yesteryear and the yet undiscovered side by side? How interesting would it be to hear from actual writers and artists and even politicians? And to have all of it delivered with a thousand watt smile and a song? Don’t touch that dial.

Merv Griffin Show Theme Song

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2013 in Cultural Critique, Media/Marketing

 

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Dressed In Holiday Cheer

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.   There is so much festivity that only the Grinchiest of us can not find something to enjoy.  Sidewalks scented with cut evergreens, lobbies festooned in live floral and greenery, twinkling lights and flickering candles; it’s simply mood altering.  It is no wonder that holiday parties abound.  Whether your invitation has arrived on embossed linen stationery or as an email blast, the result is the same: what to wear?!

Special occasion dressing is at its core, creating the very best version of one’s self.  Holiday dressing is no different, but comes with a few (easily avoided) pitfalls.

Sparkle, shine, shimmer are the order of the day.  Fear not, a strategic approach will prevent you from looking like a female impersonator on a farewell tour.  If you are heading out to purchase a new tog, tread slowly and lightly.  There are party clothes being sold which are designed for a very small segment of the population.  It is an unfortunate fact of life, that on most of us a gold lame smoking jacket only conjures Liberace.  Head to toe glitz should be avoided at all cost.  With glam, a little goes a long way.  If you choose to bedazzle your torso, keep shoes, jewelry and bags in matte.  A sparkly top with a black pant or jeans can be paired with a more glitzy shoe.  Be careful with your jewelry however, or that sparkly top may start to resemble a tree topper.  It’s all about balance.  Just as you wouldn’t show excessive leg with decolletage, your sparkly mustn’t upstage your shine.  Be equally judicious with nail lacquer and hair accessories.  It is easy to get caught up in the occasion with results similar to a gingerbread house in the hands of a kid with a frosting bag.  All admonition aside, have fun.  This is a great time to take a small step outside one’s comfort zone.  Is there a jewel tone silk blouse in the back of your closet, yearning to breathe free?  Have you been ogling a pair of tuxedo pants?  Is there a shoe so impractical it should be outlawed?  Have at it!  “Tis the season.

For business parties (keeping in mind that “business” always trumps “party”) a workplace outfit can be easily festooned.  Slip on a sparkly or shiny pair of heels, perhaps a patent leather pump in a kicky color.  Stash your necessities in a pretty impractical clutch.  Choose one glitzy jewel (sparkly earrings OR necklace OR pin.)  Holiday parties are a great time to justify those vintage brooches.  You are ready for the office party where you will drink sparingly and be your most charming self, and do nothing to cause regret or employment uncertainty.

Because one should never assume, the following are ironclad Don’ts: Thou shall never adorn oneself with a theme sweater as it saddens Santa.  Thou shall never don a chapeau similar to that of Santa’s for that is an abomination.  Thou shall not reference reindeer in any manner; including the wearing of antlers.  I can shoot straight, if I don’t have to shoot too far.*   Happy Holidays!

* – Scarlett O’Hara

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2011 in Holiday, Style

 

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