Friday, November 21, 2014

Twas the Night Before Christmas

My first promotional video for Father Knows Nothing is a parody poem I wrote. It's in the book's Christmas chapter. Thanks to Vince Argento for recording and producing the audio, and Tommy Kaempfer for creating the video.

Amy Landecker

According to this article in the Wall Street Journal, a site which tabulates ALL reviews of television shows across the country has listed "Transparent" as the best show on television. That's not just one critic saying that. It's all critics.

John's daughter Amy Landecker is one of the stars of that show, which airs on amazon.

Super happy for Amy. She's good people.

This is about how well trained my dog is

WGN Pulls the Plug on WGN FM and The Game

Robert Feder has the details. Sounds like a whole lot of people have lost or will be losing their jobs. Among them; Jonathon Brandmeier and Garry Meier. I worked with both of those guys at the Loop in the late 80s and early 90s when they were radio superstars. Over the last year both of them had been relegated to a platform that made it much more difficult to attract an audience. I'm not sure anyone could have succeeded in that situation.

Those aren't the guys I feel bad for--They've both made a fortune during their radio careers, and have cemented their places in radio history. I'm more concerned for the others who are being cut loose. Some of them took big gambles by joining The Game, leaving stable radio stations for the promise of something new. I hope they haven't burned their bridges.

According to the Chicagolandradio & Media website, the employees didn't know about this decision before it became public in the press. Here's the way Larz from CRM describes how it went down...

WGWG-LP staffers were not told in advance of the station's demise. Most found out as the Tribune's report spread via social media. WGWG-LP midday host Ben Finfer was clearly angry and upset on the air today.

Unfortunately, it's not really that unusual in the media business to find out you lost your job in the press.

One time I was actually sitting right next to someone when she found out by reading it in the newspaper. "Hmmmm," she said, reading the news of a new hire aloud. A new hire for her job. "I'm guessing I have an unscheduled meeting later today."

Another friend of mine started getting e-mails of sympathy while he was waiting outside his general manager's office for a hastily scheduled meeting. "It didn't take a genius to figure out what the meeting was going to be about," he told me later.

At least they got meetings.

When Stan Lawrence and I were doing Ebony & Ivory, we found out the show had been canceled via memo, the day of the show. The memo said, and I kid you not: "Gents, it's not working out."

That's all it said. Nothing else.

Have I mentioned recently that I don't miss the business?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Father Knows Nothing--The Homestretch

Here it is. Front and Back cover. Going to press today. Will have the proof tomorrow. First promo video should also be ready to go tomorrow. Did my first print interview already. First radio interview tomorrow. First podcast next week. First TV interview the following week. Two book signings scheduled (details very soon). The book ships right after Thanksgiving. (You can pre-order already at this link.) Thanks for all your support! I'm really proud of this project. I think it's the best thing I've ever written.

Father_Knows_Nothing_BOOK-3D (1)

Back Cover--FKN

Here Comes Larry

Stephen Colbert is stepping down from his Comedy Central show soon, and will be taking over for David Letterman at CBS.

Colbert's replacement at Comedy Central will be Daily Show correspondent Larry Wilmore. According to this New York Times piece, here's what we can expect from Larry...

Mr. Wilmore said “The Nightly Show” would regularly feature a panel discussion: a scripted comedy version of what is seen on Sunday-morning talk. He said he would probably start each show with a comedy take on something in the news, delivered in all likelihood from a seat at a desk, the way Mr. Stewart and Mr. Colbert have long opened their shows.

The cast will consist of those who are called players rather than correspondents, but they may do a comedy report as “The Daily Show” does and then be interviewed by Mr. Wilmore before joining the panel. He said unscripted interviews with people connected to the news are also being discussed, though he will not rely on a roster of the usual suspects who turn up on Sunday-morning shows.

It's time to skewer those Sunday morning shows. They really have become almost a parody of themselves. I'm on board to least give this show a chance.

RIP Mike Nichols

Mike Nichols passed away at the age of 83.

He was one of the greats. A winner of an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony. Very few people can say that.

And of course, he became famous right here in Chicago. First with the comedy group that became Second City. And then as half of Nichols and May. Here's an example of those two in action. Very smart, very snappy comedy. You may not know the issues they are talking about (in this case the Quiz show scandal), but the comedy is still somehow timeless.

Of course Nichols went on to become a great film director. I loved several of his movies, but this one for me, is his masterpiece. I saw it for the first time when I was 11. I've seen it many times since, and it's a different movie every time because it speaks to multiple generations.

I didn't even realize he directed so many great films, including "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf", "Taming of the Shrew" (with Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton), "Catch 22", "Carnal Knowledge", "Silkwood", "Working Girl", "The Birdcage", "Primary Colors" and "Charlie Wilson's War". Pretty darn impressive.

The last few years he was known as Diane Sawyer's husband.

He was clearly much more than that.

NBC Drops Cosby

They were in the process of creating a new family sitcom starring Cosby. As you probably suspected, that is now dead.

TV Land has pulled his show too.

He is still doing comedy gigs for the time being. I suspect those will be canceled soon too.

Don't feel bad for Cosby. If these charges are true, he's been living a lie for forty years. When you have 15 accusers, one or two may be exaggerating or making it up for profit. Highly unlikely that all 15 are.

LATE UPDATE: The AP has released the following video of Cosby being asked about this. Very interesting. I've conducted interviews like this, when after the interview is over, the interview subject asks something be removed. Tough spot for the journalist--because he knows where the news is.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Father Knows Nothing

Today's Father Knows Nothing tease: I don't want to say that my boys fight a lot, but this invention "The little brother protector" was invented by my youngest son Sean to fend off his brothers. There's an entire chapter of the most entertaining examples of "brotherly love" in the book. Chapter 6 is entitled: "Put up your dukes!"

We made the final changes on Father Knows Nothing last night, and will be going to press in the next day or two. Thanks for all the pre-orders. I'm a bit overwhelmed by the response


You may have heard Brian Noonan on WGN Radio. You may have seen the nice blurb he provided for "Father Knows Nothing".

But did you know he lost 144 pounds? The man's an inspiration.

I've hung out with him a few times since he dropped the weight. He looks good, and his attitude is tremendous. The link is to a great Huffington Post piece about him.

Charles Manson Getting Married

I thought this was a pretty funny take on it. Thanks to "KK" for pointing it out...

Apologizing Via Twitter

I watched the HBO show "The Newsroom" last night (missed it on Sunday) and one of the story lines was about someone who sent an irresponsible tweet and had to apologize. Pretty timely.

Just ask the folks at Uber. One of their executives said something that was pretty horrible (he was going to spend a million to smear anyone who wrote something negative about him). His boss, the CEO of the company, responded by apologizing via Twitter. You can see all 14 tweets here.

He did the right thing by apologizing, but he must know by now that the Twittersphere does not accept apologies. They keep going until someone is fired.

Looks Like I've Got Some Traveling To Do

This list of the top 50 cities to see was published in the Huffington Post.

I consider myself a pretty well-traveled person. But I've only visited 17 of the 50. I have a feeling I'll never make it to most of them, but I did get a few good ideas.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Bill Cosby

This Bill Cosby story doesn't seem to be going away.

There are stories going all the way back to the late 60s about Cosby allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting women. He settled a case out of court back in 2006, but there are two new stories that emerged recently--one from 1969 and one from the 80s at the height of his popularity.

Now his megadeal with NBC is probably in jeopardy. He was slated to come back with another family comedy. Writers had already been working on it. But here's the little footnote on that story. If they choose not to do the show (and they'd be idiots to go ahead with it under the circumstances), Cosby is still going to be paid. A lot.

Variety has the details.

Mitch Rosen Gets A Promotion

Mitch Rosen had been the operations manager of the Score. I interviewed him a few years ago about that job.

Now, he's been given added responsibilities. He'll also be doing that job for WXRT.

Robert Feder has the details.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Father Knows Nothing

Lookee here. One step closer to publication. We'll be going to press very soon. Getting very excited. (Pre-order your copy today!)

Cubs trade

Kind of scratching my head on this trade the Cubs made over the weekend. They traded Arodys Vizcaino for another infielder--a 25-year-old second baseman from the Braves. Vizcaino was one of their most-hyped minor league arms. They got him from Atlanta a few years ago in the trade that sent Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson to Atlanta.

And they got another infielder for him?

Are they about to make another move? Sure sounds like it to me.

Details are here.

Jon Hansen

Jon Hansen has just been added to WGN Newscasts, via I just featured Jon in my recent piece at Illinois Entertainer about WPGU alums. He's a bright young talent, and now you'll be able to hear him every day during the WGN 8am and 3pm newscasts.

Robert Feder has the details.

Scott Miller

I met this youngster when he was 12 years old. He was a groupie of Oldies 104.3--particularly Dick Biondi's show. He went into radio himself. Always happy to see him do well. From today's RAMP Newsletter...

Some well-deserved congratulations go out to Scott Miller, Executive Producer and co-host of The Pete McMurray Show on Tribune's WGN/Chicago, who has been rewarded with a lot more responsibility -- in addition to his current duties, Miller is now also the newly named Supervising Producer in charge of overall booking at WGN Radio and its subsidiaries. So there's that. "The last 14 months at WGN Radio have been incredible," said Miller (luxurious mustache sold separately). "I am honored to now be the Supervising Producer under Jimmy de Castro and Todd Manley's leadership. I have received interest in my talents from markets larger than Chicago, but I so believe in what is happening and what will be happening at WGN Radio and all of its platforms."