Tuesday, January 25, 2011

First Drew's Day: Guest Column

It's not first Drew's Day till next week, but I asked Robert Anthony Jones, who played Drew, if he wanted to comment on his experience of making the show, lo' those many years ago.  Take it away, Drew.. eh, I mean Robert:

Drew's Famous Magical Jukebox was some of the most fun I ever had performing! Mostly a stage actor, this was my first venture into the tv world. To say I was excited and scared would be an understatement. But, being a young and cheeky buck back then, I threw myself in head first and had a ball. 

Jory Rosen and David Levin were so kind and the whole experience was like being a kid again!! They were so approachable with any ideas I came to with them, and there's some bits I did during rehearsal that actually made the final cut! 

The best part of this entire process is that now I have something to share with my family forever. My mom still gives Drew's Magical Jukebox as gifts! And I get such a kick out of looking back and seeing all the silly fun we had.

And also, Stacey Harris, Miss Stacey on the Dance A Long DVD, has become a dear friend of mine, and we met once upon a time at Drew's Magical Jukebox.

So, thanks to David, Jory, Stacey and all the other friends I made on the set for making this experience such a memorable one!

Thanks, Robert!  See you next Tuesday for another exciting episode of Drew's Magical Jukebox!

Monday, January 24, 2011

MTV's 30th Birthday: 10 MTV Shows From Back in the Day

I've been posting recently about MTV's 30th anniversary.  

What a blast from the past!  Great to see all those classic (or old, depending on your tolerance for nostalgia or navel gazing) shows all in one place.

Thanks for telling me about the site, Anna.  Looking forward to seeing more.

Beavis and Butt-head - The Mike Judge Collection, Vol. 1  Beavis and Butt-head - The Mike Judge Collection, Vol .2  Beavis and Butt-head - The Mike Judge Collection, Vol. 3  Beavis and Butt-Head - The Mike Judge Collection (Vols. 1-3 + Beavis and Butt-head Do America - Special Collector's Edition)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Comic-Kozzy: This Island Bradman Part 5

It occurred to me, as I was re-reading one of the earlier pages, that I forgot to mention a little piece of dialogue I'd slipped in, to see if anyone was really paying attention:

"According to the aliens, we're an example of a typical earth family!"

Yep.  They're aliens all right.  

If they consider a jewish British multi-billionaire real estate magnate living on an estate with horses, rabbits chickens who gives out custom Superman comics starring his son and his son's best friend to be "typical", they MUST be aliens.

I'm just saying, is all.  

Superman: The Complete History  The Superman Story

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Rutgers TV: The Perfect Couple #2

Well, it's the 20th of the month, again, and that means it's time to set the wayback machine to the halcyon days of 1979, when college television was in black and white, bell-bottoms were still showing up, hair was out to here and Rutgers University's Knight Time Productions was showing the first run of their first game show, "The Perfect Couple".

And a couple of weird promos thrown in for good measure.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Promo Life: Wish I Could've Retired at 35

One of my favorite clients over the past several years has been TV Land.  I created TV LAND CONFIDENTIAL for the channel, produced a pilot for a series which didn't get picked up (darn) did a special about Fat Albert which starred Bill Cosby and Keenan Thompson and another special which promoted the third season of She's Got The Look.

The people over there are some of the best in the industry.  Now that the network is in the business of CREATING sitcoms, not just rerunning them, they've had tremendous success with HOT IN CLEVELAND.

Tonight, following the season premiere of HOT IN CLEVELAND, TV Land welcomes aboard a NEW show:  RETIRED AT 35.

(Frankly, for a while, I got the two titles confused and kept almost saying HOT AT 35 and RETIRED IN CLEVELAND.)

The pilot for RETIRED AT 35 was shot last year, and starred George Segal (Just Shoot Me) and Jessica Walter (Arrested Development).  The show has a different feel than HOT, but still very hilarious.

I got to go behind the scenes and interview just about everyone involved with the show WHILE they were rehearsing and shooting the pilot.  It was chaotic, fun and VERY organized.

And, as John McClain (the young star of the show) so aptly put it:  the bagels were to die for.

Seriously.  Amazing craft service.

That's my take-away.

The craft service in Hollywood is just outstanding.

I'd be a blimp if I ever got a Hollywood series.

But watch the show.  It's really good.   It starts tonight on TV Land.

Bring your own bagels.

And bacon.  By the end of the show you'll really be in the mood for bacon.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Just Shoot Me - Seasons One and Two  Arrested Development - The Complete Series (Seasons 1, 2, 3)    Hot in Cleveland: Season One

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Promo Life: Hot In Cleveland Returns

One of my favorite shows currently on the air (is it called that when it's on cable?) is an enjoyable sitcom called HOT IN CLEVELAND that airs on TV Land.  The show was created by Suzanne Martin (she wrote on Fraiser), starring Valerie Bertinelli, Wendie Mallick, Jane Leeves and, of course, the inimitable Betty White.

I got a sneak peek of the show months before it aired when I had the pleasure of directing and producing this little promo piece for TV Land.  I got to interview the three younger stars. Then got to see the dress rehearsal for the pilot.

Once the show was green lit by the great people at TV Land, the show took off as TV Land's biggest series ever.  Well-deserved.  It's a wonderful show, with guest stars like Tim Conway, Carl Reiner, Jonathan Schneider and others.

The second season of this very funny show begins tomorrow night on TV Land, along with the first episode of a NEW show, RETIRED AT 35.  I'll be here tomorrow to talk about THAT one.


Hot in Cleveland: Season One

Friday, January 14, 2011

Comic-Kozzy: This Island Bradman More Next week!

Hey, all - sorry for the lack of posts this week.

Next week, I'll pick up the continuing saga of This Island Bradman!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Comic-Kozzy: How to Bag and Board Your Comics

Pulp Secret, alas, is no more.
But many of my favorite pieces still live on.
Here's a ridiculous little piece we put together about bagging and boarding your comics.
It was written by and stars the famous Pete LePage, with Alex Zalben doing VO. Those guys are currently the stars of ComicBookClub. You should check them out.
Oh, and that's me at the end, playing Pete's boss... which I was at the time.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


What follows is the never-published introduction I wrote for the 2001 coffee-table book MTV UNCENSORED.  No permission is needed to post it because no one ever used it... until now.

"You'll never look at TV the same way again."

When VJ Mark Goodman first said those words, in the very first segment in the very first minute on the very first day of MTV, no one knew that it wasn't just hype.  That ultimately, television would, indeed, change forever.

If you're under the age of 25, it is probably hard to imagine a world without MTV.  That big blocky M with the graffiti TV added almost as an afterthought is known internationally - once voted among the top ten logos ever - along with the CBS eye, the swastika, the Star of David and the Cross.

But until MTV launched on August 1st, 1981, just a handful of people knew what it was - and even THEY didn't quite agree on what it should be - or even what it should be called.  That small group spent the next few years creating and recreating a television channel unlike anything that had come before:  24 hours a day - unheard of! - devoted to (of all things) rock music - more like a radio station than a TV station.

Music.  Television.  MTV.

Absurd.  And yet it worked.

Younger viewers embraced the fledgling network.  They quickly caught on to the fast-paced cutting, the sexy visuals, the vivid colors, the hard-thumping early 80's techno music.  And why not?  This was a generation that had grown up on the fast-paced cutting, vivid colors and rocking music of Sesame Street. 

MTV was the next logical step.

For all of the revolutionary television and music video techniques that emerged and were credited to MTV in the early 80's, they had their roots in films like HELP!, A HARD DAY'S NIGHT and television shows like the MONKEES, PARTRIDGE FAMILY and yes, Sesame Street.  Is it really that great a leap of logic to get from Big Bird to Jesse Camp?

In turn, the MTV "look" during the 80's influenced movies, commercials, television and design.

For the young professionals who worked at MTV back then, those were heady days.  A time to learn their craft, stretch creative muscles and try doing television in a way no one had imagined.  Without the sky-high budgets of most network television at the time, producers, directors and the hundred of people who put the shows together learned to fend for themselves, using creativity and ingenuity to solve problems rather than money.

Many of the people who toiled behind the scenes at MTV in the early days have gone on to even greater success:  as producers, feature film directors, network executives - even as stars of music, film and television.

But even for those who did not go on to fame, pretty much ANYone who has worked at MTV for even a week has a tale to tell:  a celebrity encounter, a trip to an exotic location gone wrong, an on-air mishap that became legendary in the retelling.  Some of those stories were shared with friends and family and insiders at MTV.  Few were told outside the MTV offices.

Until recently.

In the summer of 1998, to promote the channels upcoming VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS show, MTV commissioned a two-hour show that would take a behind-the-scenes look back at past VMA's.  It was simply seen as another way to repurpose highlights from past shows, and perhaps give viewers an inside glimpse into the makings and untold stories of the annual event.

Various titles were bandied about:  Behind the VMA's, VMA's Exposed, Inside the VMA's.  All the traditional sorts of titles.  Eventually, with a little smirk, writer-producer Stu Cohn tossed his contribution to the brainstorming session:  VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS UNCENSORED.

A bit of nodding.  Not bad.  Better than the others.  It sounded kind of... sexy.  Kind of forbidden.  Kind of like the stuff we're not supposed to be telling.

The show was an unexpected hit.  VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS UNCENSORED didn't just tell dry, behind-the-scenes stories - it evolved an attitude.  This wasn't MTV patting itself on the back - it was MTV shooting itself in the foot - telling stories which had NEVER been publicly told.  An odd mixture of inside anecdotes and irreverent tattle telling told by MTV personalities and insiders.  The ratings, for cable, were impressive.  And UNCENSORED became the industry talk at that year's Video Music Awards.

At MTV, as at most television networks, when something garners ratings, there's only one course of action:  do it again.

A sequel was commissioned- this time a look back at MTV's SPRING BREAK UNCENSORED.

Sprinkled with a few celebrities like Jerry Springer and former VJ's Ed Lover and Dr. Dre, the nudity, debauchery and untold stories in THAT show grabbed even HIGHER ratings.

A weekend phone call from MTV News and Production executive VP, Dave Sirulnick to producer David Levin put the next special into the works.  Little did they know.

"We want to do a bigger one - a two-hour show.  MTV UNCENSORED.  18 years of the best untold stories.  The anecdotes you wouldn't have known - unless you were there.  It's not the HISTORY of MTV.  It's not a "making of" show.  It's just a bunch of great stories presented for the first time.  With a sense of humor.  A little self-deprecating.  It is not for us to tell the historical significance of MTV.  Or the impact.  Or the influence.  Others can do that.  This is the story of MTV as only we can tell it.  From the inside."

It was an inspiring idea.

Of course, though, everyone knew what that really meant:  endless nights and weekends, screening thousands of hours of video-tapes, finding the footage, the stories, the sound-bites from eighteen years (18 YEARS!!) of MTV archives.  Talking to endless MTV veterans.  A half dozen segment producers, interns, writers, editors, a coordinating producer - even a librarian to keep track of all the tapes - conducting new interviews, researching, screening, logging and editing until their eyeballs were bleeding.

Some higher ups at MTV didn't even want the show to be done.  MTV should not be about looking back.  It should be about looking forward - about the next trend, not the last one.  Literally, some of these were stories that even MTV didn't want told!  What if we offend a star?  What if we give away the mystery?  What if nobody ever wants to speak to us again?  How do we do it in a way that would give a sense of the scope?  How do we show people what it is REALLY like to work at MTV?

In the end, UNCENSORED went on to become one of MTV's popular on-air franchises, even garnering four Emmy nominations (which, appropriately enough, lost to NBC's annual Thanksgiving Day broadcast hosted by the TODAY show crew).

But people love to tell their stories, and audiences seem insatiable about hearing them.  Even stars have come out to spill their guts.  Cindy Crawford, Will Smith, Jim Carrey, Robin Williams, Dennis MIller, Janeane Garofalo, Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Fred Durst, Kid Rock, Jon Stewart and many more have all appeared on UNCENSORED.

UNCENSORED has covered the MTV Movie Awards, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, Jim Carrey, Choose or Lose and even aired on sister-network, CBS, to reveal the inside stories of Superbowl Uncensored.

Nearly two-hundred interviews have been done for UNCENSORED in the past two and a half years.  Huge chunks of these interviews, though, never made it on-air - usually cut for time.  Which means that there are still hundreds of great MTV stories still untold.

Until now.

When it came time to do a book commemorating the 20th anniversary of MTV, many ideas were bandied about, again.  The book would be a celebration, not a pat on the back.  Something that would be an irreverent look back, but not necessarily a definitive history.  Something that would give readers and inside glimpse at the channel, what it's like to work at MTV, how things happened, as seen by the people who were there.

Uncensored seemed to be the right format.

This book is a collection of anecdotes culled from the outtakes of hundreds of interviews which were done for the original Uncensored series.  A few new interviews were compiled for the sake of scope.  Each person we've spoken to has led to another and another.  And for every person we spoke to, there are dozens more who have been, unfortunately, left out.

Because EVERYONE has their story.  It should also be noted that these are personal remembrances.  Some may not even be remembered accurately.  Anecdotes and legends tend to grow with time.  Your mileage may vary.

Thus, no attempt has been made to be a complete history of MTV.  Someone else can take on THAT massive job.  Having grown up in the MTV environment we prefer to think non-linearly, and keep looking forward.

Except when we remember that one time when...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

MTV's 30th Birthday

Hard to believe, but this year MTV will turn 30.   Most of the people who watch MTV today weren't even born yet when the channel launched... in fact, it's probable that THEIR parents were the original MTV generation.

Ten years ago, when we were all a lot younger (and more innocent-9/11 was still months in our future) MTV celebrated with a series of MTV20 specials, a bunch of MTV UNCENSOREDS, a big honkin' LIVE AND ALMOST LEGAL special and... a big, colorful coffee-table book:  MTV UNCENSORED, which I suggested and helped put together.

At the time, I wrote an introduction for the book that ultimately got dropped from the final copy.  They decided they wanted more pictures and less words.

So, my intro:  Never before seen or published.  But hey... this is my blog, so I'm going to publish it here.


It's long, so I'll post it tomorrow.

And as the year goes on, leading up to the August 1st anniversary, I'll see what I can dig up from my files to post here to celebrate...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

First Drew's Day: Yummy Yummy Yummy

Happy New Year - and welcome to the first FIRST DREW'S DAY of 2011.  

It's time to wake the kids and hide grandma - but you might want to grab a snack for this one - you'll be hungry by the end (if you don't actually lose your appetite first)

Drew and his friends return from their undersea adventure and they're a little hungry.  So there's just time for a trip to the candy shop.  The incredibly talented Robert Anthony Jones plays Drew.  

And take a look at the Candy Man (Jeff Stockberger) ... he'll be back in a few months... or not... kind of.  You'll understand later.  We liked him so much, by the way, when he came in to audition for the part of Drew, that after we couldn't give him the lead, we wrote him into another part.

See you next month with another exciting episode of First Drew's Day!  Next up, Drew gets his hiccups cured by the WITCH DOCTOR!  

(Ooh ee ooh ah ah)