This Is Only An Exhibition. This is Not A Competition. Please, No Wagering

When Dave took a few questions from the audience, Helaine asked about his makeup.

“My boyfriend is a weatherman in Buffalo…”

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After 33 years on nighttime TV, David Letterman calls it quits tonight. He’s pretty much admitted to no longer being contemporary in this era of YouTube clips and Twitter memes. Sad.

I was a Letterman fan from Day One, back when he was a young stand-up comedian appearing on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. He was edgy and vital, always willing to bite the hand that fed him.

I was in Buffalo when Dave started in late night. It was a show we, an NBC affiliate, didn’t carry. Vicky Gregorian, our program director, heard my pleas to clear “Late Night” nearly every day.

It took time, but we did finally air him. My kvetching probably had little to do with it in the long run.

David Letterman autographed photoThe photo on the left was an early 80s gift from my girlfriend, Helaine. It’s an autographed Happy Birthday greeting from Dave, standing on 5th Avenue across from St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

David Letterman was so strong at one point I forced myself to stop watching! I was inadvertently doing my Letterman impression on-the-air.

Helaine and I first visited the show in 1982. Andrea Martin was a guest. Maybe July 11?

We’d gotten tickets through a friend, were brought in early, sat up front and schmoozed with Biff Henderson. When Dave took a few questions from the audience, Helaine asked about his makeup.

“My boyfriend is a weatherman in Buffalo…”

geoff-at-ed-sullivan-theaterLetterman answered her question, started the show, then referred back to his conversation with Helaine.

“Sir, Where are you a weatherman?” Letterman asked coast-to-coast.

“Buffalo,” I shouted in my network debut (voice only).

I’ve been back to see Dave a few times since. The latest was when Matt Scott invited me to the Christmas show with Darlene Love. Dream fulfilled.

I rooted for Dave when Carson decided to retire. Dave was shafted. Everyone knew it. Alas, the revenge we all hoped for, Dave beating Jay Leno, never came.

Dave was the cutting edge. No more. That’s the saddest part for me. He had it, but let it slip away. As a performer I work hard every day making sure my flame is always lit, my passion always there. Dave seemed to have given up.

Though I no longer watch as often, I will miss knowing Letterman is there. Like his hero, Johnny Carson, Dave will probably fade into the woodwork out-of-the public eye.

Dave is my hero.

I Almost Fell For It!

If you fell for this, here’s what happened. Your Google password is owned. You’ve installed software that probably also controls your computer and owns your other passwords.

I don’t want to hurt myself patting my own back, but I’m pretty good at sniffing out scams. Today I came perilously close to falling for one. Bravo to the scammers. You’re getting better.

It started with an email from a friend I haven’t spoken to in a long time. Actually, the email said I had a message from her via Whats App. I have Whats App installed, but don’t use it.

So far, plausible.

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I clicked the green “Play” button and was asked to sign in to my Gmail account. Again, this is something that happens… but I don’t give up my password easily. I looked closely and noticed the password page didn’t have a green lock next to it.

Bad sign!

Gmail (and Facebook and Twitter) always have a green lock. The green lock assures you the connection is secure and from the company listed.

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I continued to log in but with a phony password. I wanted to see where this led.

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Next screen was an install page for Flash. If the flashing red lights weren’t already going off, this would do it!

If you fell for this, here’s what happened. Your Google password is owned. You’ve installed software that probably also controls your computer and owns your other passwords.

I opened up the web pages. They’re reasonably well written code. All the images are served from their rightful owners websites. In other words, Google, Twitter and Whats App (among others) are paying for the bandwidth to run this scam!

How the hell did this get past Gmail’s filters? At least it didn’t get past mine.

Bill O’Reilly And The Truth

It’s not like O’Reilly made this stuff up out of whole cloth. He almost did those things he’s claimed… almost.

bill o reilly   Google Search

I have been trying to avoid the Bill O’Reilly story. It’s tough to keep away. It’s compelling. He’s compelling.

I don’t think he’s been telling the truth.

Let accept one fact first: On-the-air O’Reilly is masterful.

There are few, maybe none, who do what he does better. It disappoints me we’re usually on the opposite side of his political arguments, but that doesn’t take away his TV talents.

Did O’Reilly lie or strongly exaggerate when he talked about his experience in the Falklands War? Yes. I have no doubt.

Did he stretch the truth when in his book “Killing Kennedy” he claimed:

As the reporter knocked on the door of de Mohrenschildt’s daughter’s home, he heard the shotgun blast that marked the suicide of the Russian, assuring that his relationship with Lee Harvey Oswald would never be fully understood.

By the way, that reporter’s name is Bill O’Reilly.

Again. the evidence indicates Bill’s version doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

Should he be punished? Brian Williams certainly was for his exaggerations and self inflating fiction.

I wish the O’Reilly answer was a resounding yes, but I’m not so sure. As someone who was harshly punished, I know it doesn’t always fit the crime.

Don’t we all inflate our resume just a little? Have you ever embellished a story to make it better? It’s not like O’Reilly made this stuff up out of whole cloth. He almost did those things he’s claimed… almost.

If O’Reilly does get smacked around it will be because he pushed back too hard. Instead of apologizing or backtracking he mounted attacks against the original reporter of the story and a New York Times reporter later trying to advance it.

During a phone conversation, he told a reporter for The New York Times that there would be repercussions if he felt any of the reporter’s coverage was inappropriate. “I am coming after you with everything I have,” Mr. O’Reilly said. “You can take it as a threat.”

That’s pretty low.

Bill O’Reilly was once sued for sexual harassment. He claimed, as he does now, to be innocent. He said he would fight the charges. In the end he quietly settled for millions.

I’ll be interested to see this play out.

Jon Stewart And Brian Williams

Today’s outcome for both Jon Stewart and Brian Williams saddens me. And, in the end, shouldn’t it be all about the viewer?

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A real one-two punch today. Brian Williams suspended for six months, then Jon Stewart announcing he’s leaving The Daily Show. I’ll start with Stewart.

Shocked!

There was no way I saw this coming. It would be different if Rosewood, his directorial debut, had gotten rave reviews. He is walking away from the goose tha lays the golden egg!

Today Jon Stewart is a powerful political force. Attention from The Daily Show can swing public opinion.

He undoubtedly understands the powerful voice he commands doesn’t leave the show with him. Just ask Glenn Beck, Howard Stern or Oprah. They left over-the-air broadcasting for positions with less visibility and influence.

Fifteen years is a long time. Stewart, especially after the movie, doesn’t seem as passionate. There are more movie star interviews and fewer examples of Stewart as TVs only interviewer who actually read the book. Better to quit before that lack of drive becomes too obvious?

I will miss The Daily Show. It’s the only show I watch even if I can’t fast forward through the ads.

Selfishly, I’ll be sad.

Brian Williams situation is a little more complex. NBC says he’s suspended for six months without pay. He’s a union employee. Suspensions only happen like this if negotiated with Williams’ full agreement and everyone signs off.

I’ve never met Brian Williams, but I know folks who’ve worked with him. I’ve never heard a bad word–and I would have. He’s always been cited as the kind of guy you want in your newsroom.

We all fall victim to puffery. Everyone inflates their resume a little. This is more than most. Maybe it is an actionable offense?

However, Brian Williams deserves to have his transgressions weighed against the total of his professional life. There’s a little Geoff self pity in that last sentence.

Should Brian Williams’ penalty be a life sentence? I don’t think so, but not strongly enough that my opinion might not change over time.

Today’s outcome for both Jon Stewart and Brian Williams saddens me. And, in the end, shouldn’t it be all about the viewer?

When TV Asks For Your Help

Would viewers have supported CBS had they known this is how their support would be used? Did CBS have an obligation to tell the viewers this was their agenda?

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​With carriage battles between TV stations/networks and cable/satellite distributors becoming more vicious, viewers are being called upon to help save their favorite stations/networks.

In the abstract that seems fine. However, after CBS enlisted their viewers help against DISH, they then negotiated a partial neutering of Dish’s Hopper feature. Hopper allows viewers who record shows to skip the commercials.

From the NY Times December 6: ​”​As part of the agreement, people will not be able to skip commercials with the Hopper service for CBS-owned network stations and affiliates for the first seven days after a program is televised. Television networks have been pushing advertisers to buy commercial time based on ratings from that seven-day period.​”​

Would viewers have supported CBS had they known this is how their support would be used? Did CBS have an obligation to tell the viewers this was their agenda?

Fox is currently in a similar dispute with DISH. During this weekend’s NFL playoffs I watched Megyn Kelly and Bill O’Reilly asking for support for Fox News Channel, accusing DISH of “censoring​” FNC.

My (rhetorical) question to them is, are you ​too ​asking your viewers to help you achieve something that’s not in those viewers best interests?​ Will your viewers support cost those same viewers cash, convenience or access to technology?

Is censorship really the sticking point in this business dispute?

A Captioned World

IMAG1977The TV’s on. So is the captioning. For my dad it’s a godsend. He reads a lot better than he hears.

For me it’s a bit of a distraction. A worthy distraction, but a distraction.

Live captions follow live speech by five seconds or more. It removes the dialog from the action. You watch the touchdown and the replay before you read about it.

When it’s live, words are misspelled or a similarly sounding word is substituted for the correct on. Watching captions isn’t like listening. Context is missing.

The Tender Trap is on TCM at the moment. TCMs captions are great. Nicely formatted. In sync with the on-screen dialog. Out of the way at the very bottom of the screen.

When captions are on it’s hard not to look at them instead of the film. I find myself having to consciously move my eyes back to the actors.

All this is small peanuts. For my dad, for whom hearing is difficult, captions work.