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John Kiesewetter on the world of local and national TV

Senior Entertainment Reporter John Kiesewetter has been covering TV and media issues for 20 years. After joining the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1975 as a summer intern, he worked as a county government and suburban reporter; assistant city editor and suburban editor; and features editor supervising the Life section. He has a B.S. in journalism from Ohio University.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

What a sad weekend

What a sad weekend, with the passing of Don Knotts, Dennis Weaver (“McCloud,” “Gunsmoke”) and Gavin MacLeod (“A Christmas Story,” “Kolchak: The Night Stalker”).
My favorite memory of Knotts is when he attended a TV writers press conference with Andy Griffith to promote “The Andy Griffith Show” moving from Nick at Nite to TV Land in the late 1990s. The press conference was cut short after 20 minutes, for another session. When Knotts and Griffith left the room, so did about a dozen TV writers. We tracked them down in the green room and chatted with them for another half-hour (much to the dismay of the Nickelodeon/MTV officials who wanted us back in the ballroom for the other sessions). They were so naturally funny together 30-some years later.
Griffith recalled how, when they were starting the series in 1960, he was supposed to be the funny guy. But after seeing Don Knotts at work, he decided to play it straight and let Knotts be the nutty one. They had met on the Broadway play, “No Time for Sergeants” in the 1950s.
A couple of things about Don Knotts: So often we complain that the Emmy Awards are screwed up, and the wrong person wins. Well, that can be said about Andy Griffith, but not Don Knotts. He was instantly recognized for his work on “Andy Griffith,” winning best supporting comedy actor five times in six years (1961-67) for Barney Fife.
And Griffith? He never won an Emmy for the show – because he was never nominated! (He won one in 1981 for a TV movie.)
I’ve also got to give credit to "Tonight Show" creator Steve Allen. He gave Knotts his first TV gig in 1956, when viewers first saw his “nervous man” routine during Allen’s “man on the street” interviews. He was one of many future stars showcased by Allen – Tom Poston (“Newhart”), Pat Harrington Jr. (“One Day At A Time”), Buck Henry, Bill Dana (Jose Jimenez), Smothers Brothers, Tim Conway, Louis Nye. What a cast!

Fife Wear Started here
For 10 years, Greg Akers, co-owner of Toon Art/Hometown TV in Forest Park, has been merchandising “Andy Griffith Show” products and memorabilia. He met Knotts many times while developing a popular line of Barney Fife T-shirts, magnets, ties, boxer shorts and autographed lithographs.
Akers says a portion of sales from remaining autographed lithos will be donated to Abrahamson Pediatric Eye Institute of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Knotts in recent years had consulted Dr. Richard Abrahamson, wife of Toon Art/Hometown TV co-owner Mendy Abrahamson.
Check out the Fife, “Andy Griffith Show” and other TV merchandise – and cartoon art – at, or visit the office at 581 Northland Blvd., Forest Park. (513) 851-2357.

Dancing into a big career break
Won't it be interesting to see where Drew Lachey's revived career will go from his "Dancing with the Stars" reality show? I'm glad he won the trophy – and he’s right, it is ugly – but the real loser was Stacy Kiebler. She should have finished second -- a very close second to Lachey – not Jerry Rice. Expect her cash in on her new success too.


at 2/28/2006 2:32 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was Darren McGavin who passed away this weekend...Gavin MacLeod is still out there, capitalizing on being the Love Boat captain!

at 2/28/2006 2:34 PM Blogger BMurdock said...

As Gary Burbank is alwasy quick to point out - these things come in 3's...

Jerry Rice should have left the show before Lisa Rinna. Stacy was great but her last (freestyle) dance was pretty simple. Like the judges said she set the bar pretty high for herself. I read somewhere that she'd been getting a various acting offers. It wouldn't surprise me to see her leave the WWE to pursue other options.

Speaking of the Dancing judges. Why do I have a feeling in a few years VH1 will be having a heyday poking fun at all of these talent shows.

at 2/28/2006 2:36 PM Blogger BMurdock said...

Good call - I couldn't see mentioning Gavin McLoud without mentioning Love Boat...

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