Charles Lane – Trust Me, You’ll Know Him By Sight

As character actors go, he had quite a career. He was always the stiff, stern company man or governmental hack – the guy who had a ready “no” for anything you needed.

Charles Lane’s resume on IMDB is as long as your arm. There are 300+ entries, many of them for multiple appearances on the same TV series. On Bewitched alone he was Mr. Roland, Mr. Cushman, Mr. Jameson, Mr. Harmon and Mr. Mr. Meikeljohn.

Like most character actors, he wasn’t well known by name. If you’re too well known, your value as a ‘character’ diminishes. The ratio of those who knew him to those who knew his name had to be 100:1, maybe more.

From the LA Times: “His roles were so numerous that he told TV Guide in 1965 that he would occasionally see himself in movies on TV and have no memory of having played that role.”

I most remember Charles Lane as Homer Bedloe, president of the railroad (the CF&RW) that employed Floyd and Charlie and ran the Cannonball between Hooterville and Pixley with that stop at Petticoat Junction’s “Shady Rest Hotel.”

Mr. Bedloe was out to get Kate Bradley, while Kate’s Uncle Joe tried to get Bedloe. Kate was always victorious. By definition, everyone on Petticoat Junction prevailed against Uncle Joe! Homer Bedloe never got more than a Pyrrhic victory.

It wasn’t until I read about him in Wikipedia and saw his ‘original’ name (Charles Gerstle Levison) that I realized he was Jewish. They had Jews in San Fransisco in 1905? Who knew?

Charles Lane was 102 when he died on Monday in Southern California. He was one of my all-time favorite mean people.

A documentary on his life is in production. I’d like to see “You Know the Face” when it’s released. Meanwhile, the clip below is from Nickelodeon on the occasion of his 100th birthday.

Making News – Texas Style Has Got Me Worried

A friend emailed me the ad you see on the left. It’s for a new reality program on the TV Guide Channel, “Making News – Texas Style”.

Yeah, it surprised me too. I thought they only ran character generated listings.

The ad scared me. Some people already look upon us TV types as shallow or trivial. This won’t help.

“Meet Jay, the station’s future anchorman and “Star of West Texas”; Bill, the longtime anchorman who worries about his recent demotion to reporter; Melissa, the reporter with a sense of humor, who’s out to prove she’s great at her job; Kara, the feisty young reporter who’s always up for a challenge; Tatum, the anchor and former Miss Texas who balances family and her career; and Jose, the news director pushing hard for his team to be #1. This news team will do anything to get their stories on the air and beat the competition.

That ad represents everything superficial TV news can be with none of the substance. I’m not saying we’re teaching college level courses on-the-air, but there really is more than pageant winners and cat fighting in the newsroom.

Actually, I can’t guarantee the ad’s copywriter saw the show, because “Making News – Texas Style” was a lot closer to this reserved blurb in a TV Guide press release.

The network is making an especially big bet on original content this year. On June 13, it will debut Making News: Texas Style, a 13-episode reality series about a TV station