Category Archives: Television

R.I.P. Rue McClanahan: February 21, 1934 – June 3, 2010

This has been a horrible year for ’80s stars. Golden Girls star, Rue McClanahan has died at the age of 76. She passed away at 1 AM this morning from a massive stroke.

Rue McClanahan was born Eddi-Rue McClanahan in Healdton, Oklahoma. She began acting on Off-Broadway in New York City in 1957, and made it to Broadway in 1969.

She got her television break when she played Maude’s (Bea Arthur) best friend, Vivian Harmon in the show Maude, which aired from 1972-1978.
In 1983-1984 McClanahan played Fran Harper, who was Thelma’s (or Mama’s) younger uptight sister.
Then she played her most popular character, the man crazy Blanche Devereaux on The Golden Girls from 1985 until 1992 and in The Golden Palace for one year after. Devereaux was the owner of a house which was lived in by three other roommates: Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur), Rose Nylund (Betty White), and Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty). She received an Emmy Award in 1987 for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on The Golden Girls. When speaking about her character, she said that Blanche, “is in love with life and she loves men. I think she has an attitude toward women that’s competitive. She is friends with Dorothy and Rose, but if she has enough provocation she becomes competitive with them. I think basically she’s insecure. It’s the other side of the Don Juan syndrome.”

McClanahan was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 1997, from which she completely recovered.

On November 14, 2009, she was to be honored for her lifetime achievements at an event “Golden: A Gala Tribute To Rue McClanahan” at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, California. The event was postponed due to McClanahan’s hospitalization. She had triple bypass surgery on November 4. It was announced on January 14, 2010, by Entertainment Tonight that while recovering from surgery she had suffered a minor stroke. In March 2010, Betty White reported on The Ellen DeGeneres Show that McClanahan was doing well and that her speech had returned to normal.

McClanahan was married six times: Tom Bish, with whom she had a son, Mark Bish; actor Norman Hartweg; Peter D’Maio; Gus Fisher; and Tom Keel. She married husband Morrow Wilson on Christmas Day in 1997.

She called her 2007 memoir “My First Five Husbands … And the Ones Who Got Away.”

With Rue McClanahan’s death, Betty White is the last remaining “Golden Girl”

Here is a Blanche tribute video:

The ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ winner is…

The following is from the Associated Press:

Bret Michaels made it to the finish line Sunday of “The Celebrity Apprentice” despite life-threatening illness and was rewarded with victory and $250,000 for charity.

“You’ve done an amazing job in every single way,” Donald Trump said before announcing his choice on a live segment of NBC’s reality show. “A little flaky, but that’s OK. … You’ve also proven … to be very brave. I appreciate that.”

The other finalist, actress Holly Robinson Peete, has been “amazing,” Trump said, and then rendered his decision.

“Holly, I have to tell you, we all love you. And Brett, I have to tell you — you’re hired,” Trump pronounced, drawing a lusty “whoop” from Michaels.

Michaels’ appearance on the finale, which included live and taped segments, had been in question after he suffered a brain hemorrhage in April and was hospitalized again recently after suffering what doctors called a warning stroke. He faces surgery for a hole in his heart.

Trump didn’t downplay the drama involving Michaels’ health, asking the 47-year-old rock star of Poison fame if he was risking his life by coming on the finale against his doctors’ advice.

“Lately it seems like me just standing me up is risking my life,” Michaels replied, lightly, adding that it was worth the risk and he “came to win.” He walked haltingly and with a slight limp.

His presence brought a moment of honest reality to a carefully constructed TV genre.

Robinson Peete, 45, said she and Michaels had become close during the series and there would be none of last season’s animosity — a reference to finale fireworks between winner Joan Rivers and runner-up Annie Duke.

Robinson Peete teared up when she and Michaels took the stage before a studio audience in New York.

“Holly, that’s so beautiful. You’re crying,” Trump observed.

“Well, I mean, who in America isn’t?” she replied. Trump said that he’d never cried for his opponent.

“My 5-year-old son woke up this morning and said, ‘Mom, I love you, but I’m kinda pulling for Bret.’ How do you beat that?” Robinson Peete responded.

Both celebrities, who were playing to raise money for their favored causes, came out on top. Michaels, who as a child was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, claimed the winner’s prize for the American Diabetes Association, and Peete learned that her charitable group would receive a matching amount.

Trump said the maker of Snapple beverages had agreed to give a matching $250,000 to HollyRod Foundation, whose mission is to support families who have a loved one with a serious medical condition. The actress has a son diagnosed as autistic.

The final challenge for “The Celebrity Apprentice” had required Michaels and Robinson Peete to each create a new flavor of Snapple and a marketing campaign for the soft drinks. Their versions are being sold for a limited period and highlight work their causes.

This season of “Celebrity Apprentice” began airing in March with 14 contestants, each competing in business-oriented tasks around Manhattan to raise money for and publicize their favorite causes.

The following is from Bret Michaels’ Facebook page:

Celebrity Apprentice winner Bret Michaels will be appearing on the following TV shows this week. Be sure & tune in or set your DVR to record. Check local listings for exact time & channel in you area.

Monday 5/24
‘Today Show’
‘LIVE with Regis & Kelly’

Tuesday 5/25
‘Tonight Show’ with Jay Leno

In addition, due to Bret’s recent recovery period, the release date for his upcoming album ‘Custom Built’ has been moved to July 6th.

Samples of tracks from the album, as well as preorder information can be found by visiting:

www.BRETMICHAELS.com

Your support is greatly appreciated.

May 20, 1993: Cheers finale airs

Cheers, one of the highest rated sitcoms throughout the ’80s, aired its final episode this day in 1993. The show started in 1982, and lasted 11 seasons. It was almost canceled after the first season due to low ratings. But the show went on to become a top 10 hit in 8 of its 11 seasons. It was part of NBC’s “Must See TV” Thursday night lineup. The show was set in a Boston bar (influenced by the Bull & Finch Pub in Boston) owned by retired baseball player, Sam “Mayday” Malone, played by Ted Danson. There was a great cast of characters that backed him up:

Coach – Coach Ernie Pantusso was played by Nicholas Colasanto. Coach was the bartender and former coach of Sam Malone. Coach was a bit slow and forgetful, but lovable. Who can forget “Albania, Albania. You border on the Adriatic”:

After Nicholas died in real life, he was replaced by:
Woody – Woody Boyd was played by Woody Harrelson. In the first episode of the fourth season, Woody Boyd comes to Cheers in search of Coach, explaining that they were pen pals (exchanging pens rather than letters). Sam is forced to explain that Coach died some months ago. Boyd replaces Coach, who had sponsored him in a correspondence course in bartending. He had a lot of the same character traits as Coach.

Diane Chambers – Played by Shelley Long. In the first epeisode, her fiancé leaves her waiting at the bar while he goes back to recover his wedding ring from his ex-wife. When he never returns, she realizes she’s been jilted and takes a job waitressing at Cheers to try to rebuild her life. Diane was a pretentious snob, and was the exact opposite of Sam. But, as they say, opposites attract:

After she left the show, she was replaced by:

Rebecca Howe – Played by Kirstie Alley. Rebecca Howe entered Cheers as the manager assigned by the bar’s new corporate owner. She started off as a tough, no-nonsense corporate type. As the series went on, she became more neurotic and clumsy. Rebecca constantly throws herself at the feet of rich men, first Evan Drake and then Robin Colcord, but she eventually sleeps with Sam when the two of them decide to conceive a child together. In the penultimate episode, Rebecca meets a plumber named Don Santry (played by Tom Berenger), whom she marries in the series finale.

Carla Tortelli – Played by Rhea Perlman. Carla grew up in the Federal Hill section of Providence, RI. Her father’s name was “Benito” and her mother’s maiden name was “Mussolini”. By the time the show ended, she was the mother of eight children: Anthony, Serafina, Gino, Anne Marie, Lucinda (all fathered by Nick Tortelli), Ludlow (with Dr. Bennett Ludlow), and twins Elvis and Jesse (fathered by Eddie Lebec). Carla was known for being both feisty and also highly superstitious.

Cliff Clavin – Played by John Ratzenberger. Cliff was a know-it-all mailman. He annoyed everybody by acting as if he knew everything about everything.

Norm! Peterson – Played by George Wendt. He was a regular customer with his own seat at the bar. He was also best friends with Cliff. He also had a wife Vera, who was never seen by the audience. This is the closest we came (at the 4:40 mark):

Everytime Norm walked into the bar, everybody shouted “Norm!” Then whoever was bartending would ask Norm a question, and he would come up with a funny remark. Here are some quotes:

“How’s a beer sound, Norm?”
“I dunno. I usually finish them before they get a word in.”

“What’s shaking, Norm?”
“All four cheeks and a couple of chins.”

“What would you say to a nice beer, Normie?”
“Going Down?”

What would you say to a beer, Normie?”
“Daddy wuvs you.”

“What’d you like, Normie?”
“A reason to live. Give me another beer.”

“What’ll you have, Normie?”
“Well, I’m in a gambling mood Sammy. I’ll take a glass of whatever comes out of that tap.”
“Looks like beer, Norm.”
“Call me Mister Lucky.”

(Coming in from the rain)
“Evening everybody.”
Everybody: “Norm!”
“Still pouring, Norm?”
“That’s funny, I was about to ask you the same thing.”

“Whaddya say, Norm?”
“Well, I never met a beer I didn’t drink.”

“Hey Norm, how’s the world been treating you?”
“Like a baby treats a diaper.”

“Can I pour you a beer, Mr. Peterson?”
“A little early isn’t it, Woody?”
“For a beer?”
“No, for stupid questions

The theme song is #1 on my list of top sitcom theme songs.

NBC dedicated a whole night to the final episode of Cheers, following the one-hour season finale of Seinfeld (which was its lead-in). The show began with a “pregame” show hosted by Bob Costas, followed by the final 98-minute episode itself. NBC affiliates then aired tributes to Cheers during their local newscasts, and the night concluded with a special Tonight Show broadcast live from the Bull & Finch Pub.

In the last scene of the show, after telling a late arriving customer that the bar was closed, Sam walks to the back of the bar. On his way, he pauses to straighten a framed photograph of Geronimo. This picture belonged to Nicholas Colasanto and was hung in the bar after his death in his honor.

Sitcom Theme Songs of the ’80s

Remember when television sitcom theme songs were more than a few seconds? They used to show the premise of the show and introduce the starring characters. Sure, some of them may have been corny, but the opening theme was just about as good as the show itself.

Here are some of my favorites from the ’80s:

10. Happy Days
The original song was Bill Haley’s “Rock Around The Clock”. Then from 1976 through 1984 the show had its own original song written by television theme writers Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox, who also wrote the themes for Wonder Woman, Laverne and Shirley, and Love Boat. The song was sung by Jerry McClain and Truett Pratt, who were also known as Brother Love.

9. Golden Girls

This song was “Thank You for Being a Friend”, and was written by written by Andrew Gold. It was actually a #25 hit on the Billboard charts in 1978. You can see him perform it here.
The television theme version was recorded by Cynthia Fee (who is also known for her 1984 duet with Kenny Rogers, “I Don’t Want To Know Why”).

8. The Facts of Life

“The Facts of Life” theme was written by Growing Pains dad Alan Thicke, Days of Our Lives star Gloria Loring and Al Burton, and was sung by Gloria Loring.

7. Silver Spoons

The show’s theme song titled “Together” was written by Rik Howard and Bob Wirth. It was sung by The Archies’ alumni Ron Dante.

6. Punky Brewster

This theme song is “Every Time I Turn Around”, and was written by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo and sung by Portnoy. Here is the version from seasons 3 and 4. To see the first season version, check out the Punk Brewster article from May 6 .

5. Charles in Charge

There were 2 versions of this song, even though the lyrics were the same. They are both good.

Season 1:

The rest of the seasons:

4. The Jeffersons

This song is “Movin’ on Up” and was written by Jeff Barry and Ja’net Dubois, and performed by Dubois. I dare to not move your hands or feet to this song!

3. Diff’rent Strokes

Like it’s spin-off, The Facts of Life, this song was written by Alan Thicke, Gloria Loring and Al Burton. This was sung by Alan Thicke.

2. Growing Pains

This song is “As Long As We Got Each Other,” sung by B.J. Thomas and Jennifer Warnes, and was written by Steve Dorff and John Bettis.
B.J. Thomas had hit songs such as “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” and “Whatever Happened to Old-Fashioned Love”. Jennifer Warnes was a very successful duet singer as she had hits with “Up Where We Belong” (with Joe Cocker, from the 1982 film An Officer and a Gentleman) and “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” (with Bill Medley from the 1987 film Dirty Dancing).

1. Cheers

This is “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”, and was written by Gary Portnoy (who also wrote and performed the Punky Brewster theme) and Judy Hart Angelo and performed by Portnoy. I like the long version. The short version usually gets played for the reruns now.

Does anybody else have any favorites? Three’s Company? Laverne and Shirley? Perfect Strangers? Family Ties?

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April 16, 1981 – The final episode of “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century” aired on NBC

Today in 1981, the final episode of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century is aired.
The series ran for two seasons between 1979 – 1981, and the pilot was released in theaters a few months before the series aired. Much like the original Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers was inspired by the success of Star Wars. The title character, Captain William Anthony “Buck” Rogers, was played by Gil Gerard. He was a NASA pilot who commanded Ranger 3, a space shuttle that is launched in May 1987. Because of a life support malfunction, Buck is accidentally frozen for 504 years before the derelict spacecraft is discovered in the year 2491. He was revived, and found out that civilization on Earth was rebuilt after a nuclear war. The series followed him as he tried to fit into 25th-Century culture. Due to his pilot and combat skills, he was able to help defend Earth against evil. Rogers is aided in his adventures by his friend and semi-romantic interest, Colonel Wilma Deering, played by Erin Gray (who would later appear in Silver Spoons), and his comic sidekick robot, Twiki. Twiki was voiced by Bugs Bunny’s Mel Blanc. Ratings dropped significantly after the second season premiere. NBC cancelled the series at the end of an eleven-episode strike-abbreviated season.

MTV Drops ‘Music Television’ From Its Logo


MTV redesigned its logo by removing “Music Television”.

The new look was revealed on-air yesterday. It features the original 3-D large “M” with the small, graffiti-style “tv” on the right side. But the new design is expanded, so that photos of MTV “talent”, including the cast of “Jersey Shore,” “The Buried Life” and “My Life as Liz,” can be seen through it.

This has probably been a long time coming since I can’t remember the last time I actually saw a music video on that channel.

New MTV logo

Gary Coleman pleads guilty in Utah court

Gary Coleman plead guilty, on February 8, to a misdemeanor criminal mischief charge related to a domestic violence incident last April.
Coleman entered a guilty plea in a deal with the prosecutor in Santaquin Justice Court on his 42nd (!) birthday. No details of the April 18 incident are detailed in court documents, but defense attorney Randy Kester told The Associated Press that Coleman and his wife, Shannon Price, had an argument which got out of hand.

Judge Sharla Williams sentenced Coleman to 31 1/2 days in jail. The Diff’rent Strokes star will serve the time only if he fails to complete a domestic violence course and pay a $595 fine.

Coleman was arrested Jan. 24 at home on a warrant for failing to appear in court. He spent a night in jail before a fan paid his $1,725 bail. Kester said Coleman missed the court appearance because he was in the hospital.