Whenever director Robert Trachtenberg tells people he's made a film about Bing Crosby, he says, "The overwhelming response is, 'He's the guy who hit his kids.'" The actor-crooner's Daddy Dearest image was shaped by the 1983 tell-all memoir from son Gary. But Trachtenberg believes Bing Crosby: Rediscovered, his latest project for American Masters (Tuesday at 8/7c on PBS), will remind viewers that despite his flaws, Crosby is one of the 20th century's most influential pop culture figures.
Newscatcher: A Memoir by John Palmer
If you were anywhere near a TV set on Jan. 28, 1986 when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, chances are you learned the news of the tragedy from NBC News correspondent John Palmer. With NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw temporarily unavailable that afternoon, it was Palmer, the newsreader for Today, who broke in with a special report and stayed with the story for hours as it unfolded.
Zsa Zsa Gabor and Merv Griffin
Merv Griffin died in 2007, but he lives on in TV history thanks to having created the remarkably durable game shows Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. He even composed the iconic Jeopardy theme song. But for baby boomers, Griffin will always be remembered for his talk show that ran in several incarnations from 1962 to 1986. Thanks to a hilarious impersonation by SCTV's Rick Moranis, Griffin developed a reputation for being an obsequious lightweight who ooh-ed and ahh-ed at every word his guests said.
Every innovative producer benefiting from the creative surge in TV should offer a tip of the pork pie hat to Norman Lear. At 92, the trailblazing producer (All In the Family, The Jeffersons, Maude and many others), entrepreneur and activist looks back on his life and career in the new memoir Even This I Get to Experience (Penguin Press). We had the experience of recently chatting with the TV industry legend...
After an eight-season run on the Discovery Channel with Dirty Jobs, Mike Rowe is cleaning up his act and heading to CNN with a new series, Somebody's Gotta Do It (premiering Wednesday at 9/8c). On each episode, Rowe seeks out regular folks to explore why they're passionately committed to unusual jobs, avocations or causes — dirty or otherwise. His first hour takes him to Las Vegas where he suits up for an aquatic show and then to Independence, Missouri, to meet the curator of a hair museum...
Fox paid big money for its Batman-prequel series Gotham and touted its September 22 premiere all summer via billboards, transit posters, and on-air promotional spots. According to research that measures viewer interest in the new fall shows, the effort is going to pay off. Research firm Ipsos MediaCT surveys viewers each week throughout the summer and asks if they are familiar with the name of a new show and whether they plan to watch it. The results of the company's TV Dailies Study from the period of Sept. 1—7 were provided to TV Guide Magazine and show Gotham with the highest awareness score of any new show and the second highest score in the intent to view category.
On Sunday, NBC News political director Chuck Todd takes over as moderator of television's longest running franchise, Meet the Press. His arrival — which will feature an interview with President Obama — comes after a year of turmoil on Sunday roundtable program.
It's hard to say no to Meredith Vieira. While putting together her new daytime show, NBCUniversal executives let the host pick her executive producer, sidekick, band — even the furniture on her set (a tatty, pet-ravaged couch from her Westchester, New York, home). Perhaps the "suits" — as Vieira calls them — are aware that she is one of the rare TV talents who is not afraid to walk away from it all.
After becoming, at age 35 in 1989, the youngest correspondent ever hired by 60 Minutes, she left the prestigious CBS newsmagazine two years later to have her second child when then-executive producer Don Hewitt refused her request to work part-time. Her very public decision sparked a national conversation on the challenges for women who balance motherhood and career. After an Emmy award-winning stint on the ABC newsmagazine Turning Point, she changed course, becoming a founding panelist on the daytime coffee klatch The View in 1997.
Five years ago, David Muir arrived at Los Angeles International Airport, where a crew from TMZ greeted him. "How does it feel to be the Brad Pitt of network news?" someone asked off camera. Muir wisely smiled, said, "Nice to see you," and moved on. "My apologies to Brad Pitt," the new anchor of ABC World News now says when asked about the encounter.
Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander
Twenty-five years ago, two dozen NBC executives gathered in a screening room in Burbank to watch a new sitcom pilot starring Jerry Seinfeld. Then called The Seinfeld Chronicles, it was a 23-minute mix of the comic's stand-up routines and idiosyncratic, conversational scenes dealing with such mundane topics as doing laundry, securing the top button of one's shirt, and deciphering the intent of a woman who was spending the night in Jerry's apartment....