Tag Archives: television

Fabulous Fridays: #52lists Project

This week’s list: List your favorite characters from books, movies, television, etc…

  • Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With the Wind
  • Rose DuWitt Bukater from Titanic
  • Darcy Rhone of Something Borrowed/Something Blue
  • Margaret Simon from Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
  • Farley Drexel Hatcher (aka “Fudge”) from Tales of A Fourth Grade Nothing, Superfudge, Fudge-a-mania, and Double Fudge.
  • Jo Polniaczek from The Facts of Life
  • Blair Warner from The Facts of Life
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder (Specifically Melissa Gilbert’s version) from Little House on the Prairie.

Take Action: Find a common personality trait between all of your favorite characters. What is one character trait you admire?

I’d never really thought about it before until now because they sort of seem like a diverse group in my head. Still, when it comes right down to it all of them (except for maybe Fudge) are more than what they appear to be. At first glance, they seem stereotypical, but when you really get to know the characters, they are a lot deeper, stronger, and opinionated when you first meet them. They may be debutantes, superficial or classic tomboys, but there is always more to them than meets the eye and there is a part of me that has something in common with each one of them.


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Fabulous Fridays: Catching up with Dean Butler

Dean_Butler     Although it’s been over 30 years since Dean Butler played Almanzo Wilder on NBC’s mega hit Little House on the Prairie, he still remembers the impact his presence made on female viewers of the series. From the moment he arrived at the Walnut Grove School in his buckboard to pick up his sister Eliza Jane, his dashing figure could not only cause a prairie girl’s heart to skip a beat, but a few of ours as well.

I spoke with Butler recently to celebrate the re-release of Season Six of Little House (his first season on the show), find out what it was like to work on the wildly popular series and play the love interest of not only an iconic character, but America’s Sweetheart, Melissa Gilbert.


Q: When you were cast on Little House in the spring of 1979 it was already a very successful show with a solid following. Did you feel a huge sense of responsibility coming into it knowing you would be the guy to “court” and marry Laura Ingalls?


A: “Because I hadn’t read the books at the time, I wasn’t imbued with the underlying literature and didn’t know what was going to happen. Melissa Gilbert was America’s Sweetheart at the time and when you introduce this type of character there is definitely a huge level of responsibility to it. I credit Michael Landon’s casting instincts because he knew what he wanted visually and tonally from the character. I’d been cast in this kind of light before as well and I think that helped.”


Q: Were you the recipient of a lot of fan mail from female admirers?


A: “Yes. It really has been a tremendous to have women of all ages give me this gift of acceptance, affection, crushes or whatever you want to call it. It’s all been so positive. Little girls, grandmothers they all had a reaction to this character and I was blessed to be that guy.”


dean1     Q: It’s no secret that during your first season on the show, you were 23 while Melissa Gilbert was 15. Did that make for awkward situations, especially as the relationship between Laura and Almanzo progressed?


A: “Melissa was very gutsy in the way that she stepped into this. She put all of her anxiety aside and she had enormous faith in Michael Landon and that he would never put her in a compromising situation. It was a very large age gap but we were always very careful when approaching that aspect of the Laura/Almanzo relationship. We always wanted the audience to feel like Laura was in control of the situation. It was a lot to put on Melissa, but she did an exceptional job with it.”


Q: Do you have a favorite episode?


A: “’Sweet Sixteen’ is one of those episodes in the series where the direction changed big time. It is the book These Happy Golden Years all wrapped up into one episode and it changes the dynamic of the show. Until then, the Pa/Laura relationship had been so central, but now Laura is a young woman and she’s falling in love and it forced Michael to go into other directions. Another episode I like is ‘Days of Sunshine/Days of Shadow’ because I got to do so much as an actor. “


Q: Lastly, what is the correct pronunciation of Almanzo’s name?


A: “This is a bit of a controversy because it was Lucy Lee Flippen, who played Eliza Jane, who said ‘Al-mahn-zo’ when she’s introducing me to Laura and Michael never said anything about it…but right away we heard from book aficionados who were quick to tell me we were saying it wrong. Eventually I heard a brief recording of the real Laura talking and she referred to him as ‘Al-man-zo’ so that ended the debate for me.


Follow Dean Butler on Twitter @callmemanly and @deanmbutler

On Facebook at www.facebook.com/callmemanly

On the Web: http://www.legacydocumentaries.co


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Fabulous Fridays: 19 Kids and all kinds of problems?

dfamily     In case you haven’t heard about this latest reality TV debacle..let me clue you in: According to a Washington Post article, on the heals of the cancellation of TLC’s “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” approximately 100,000 people have signed a petition to have  “19 Kids and Counting” removed from the network as well due to the anti-gay statements made by members of the Duggar family.

In the article, matriarch Michelle Duggar is under fire for her position on an anti-discrimination ordinance in Arkansas which prohibits businesses and public accommodations from discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Exercising her right to free speech, Michelle recorded a message in which she felt that this ordinance was tantamount to allowing male predators access to women’s and girls’ restrooms putting females at risk. (I’m paraphrasing for brevity)

I’ll admit that this assessment may be extreme, but then again I’m not sure how I would feel about a “guy” barging into the Ladies’ room. I guess if he looked like a woman I wouldn’t know and therefore it wouldn’t be an issue, but if he looked like a dude and was just in touch with his feminine side…it might creep me out. Then again, I might think he was drunk and read the sign wrong. Of course if I was the individual in question, I think I would plan to empty my bladder before leaving the house if for no other reason than to avoid this kind of quandary in the first place. (Honestly…I have NEVER giving this any consideration before so I guess I have Michelle Duggar to thank for bringing it to my attention and encouraging me to think about it. Who knew she was so progressive?)

Potty petitions aside, folks are also up in arms over oldest son Josh Duggar’s employment with the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. because they are known for their traditional stance on marriage and of course when the family encouraged other married couples to post “kissing” pictures to their social media page,  everyone was shocked when a gay couple (who are fans of the show) posted their pic, which was promptly removed from the site. (The poster was also banned.)

All of this begs the question: Is THIS the Duggar family scandal we’ve been waiting for?

Dear God, I hope not. I mean seriously people! Show of hands as to how many of us are genuinely surprised by the mega-family’s position on any of this? From the very get-go they have said that they have “very conservative values” (seriously, it was part of the show’s opening) they don’t believe in girls wearing pants, boys not having a collared shirt, traditional dating rituals, holding hands prior to engagement, or kissing before the wedding ceremony. In what parallel universe does it even make sense that they would “support” the LGBT platform? This is not a scandal, this is a bunch of people being shocked by the obvious!

I personally was banking on something far more risqué out of the clan. Personally, I wanted to see one of their own children come out of the closet in order to force a “put up or shut up” situation Either we will watch some child be shunned, or they will have no choice than to do an about face. My gaydar is notoriously flawed so I won’t venture a guess as to who it might be, but statistically speaking, with that many  people in one family…one of them has to be. I also had visions of tattoos, piercings and Jackson running off to join a heavy metal band, but that’s just me. I have fantasies that sooner or later one of them will write a best-selling tell all which will make headlines globally…and I truly do hope that Jinger gets her chance to live in the big city someday.

Don’t misunderstand me…I like the Duggars and I like their show. It’s refreshing to see a show where every other word isn’t bleeped, where they are unwilling to compromise their religious values, where the children respect their parents and there isn’t a lot of drama. But what do I know? I liked the “Brady Bunch” and “Eight is Enough” as well. The Duggars may not be the Bradys or the Bradfords, but they have never hidden what they are. They have never been judgmental on their show (even when producers have tried to corner them) and they have not used media outlets to spout their personal convictions. I don’t think it is fair to expect them to suspend their beliefs indefinitely and even if I don’t agree with everything that they stand for, I believe that they have the right to do it and I don’t act all shocked when the obvious emerges.

My father always taught me that there are moments when you have to pick your battles and this isn’t the right one, people. I guess the old adage is true, the most uncommon thing is common sense. If you don’t agree with the family’s values, don’t watch the show…but I guarantee that no petition in the world is going to make those people change their minds or apologize for what they believe in and why should they? Are they not as entitled to their beliefs as much as the next person? Why not find a loving gay couple with a passel of children and give them a show as well? I would totally watch that!

But for heaven’s sake…don’t cancel the Duggars…at least not until one of them goes rogue!




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Naptown Nostalgia: Don’t touch that dial!

cbs-logo-wide       If you have ever wondered how to seriously screw with the people of Indianapolis, tell them that you are changing the way in which they watch TV. Trust me on this, you will need to get out the riot gear.

While no one is a big fan of change, the people of Naptown seem inordinately averse to it. Sometimes I think the city motto should be “We’ve never done it that way before (and we certainly aren’t going to start now!)” The other day, my entire equilibrium was rocked with the announcement that the CBS affiliate was changing stations. Instead of watching CBS programming on Channel 8 as I have all my life (save for the three years that I lived in North Carolina) I will now have to watch it on Channel 4.

I’m going to be honest…I don’t think I can do this.

I’m a person who tends to be set in her ways. When things switch around on me, I don’t handle it well. I remember years ago when, for reasons that remain a mystery to me, the NBC and ABC affiliates “traded” with each other and really screwed with my head. I was so little at the time that I literally have friends who do not remember this causing me to wonder if I imagined it myself. Thankfully in light of this recent news, those who recall this earth shattering event have come forward proving (at least for the time being) that I am not crazy and that moving things around the dial is problematic for some people. I do remember when Channel 13 was ABC and I watched Donny & Marie on Friday nights. Suddenly they were on Channel 6 and it took me forever to find them. I also remember when, in the early cable era, all of the local affiliates were on their appropriate channel numbers (except for Channel 59 because the cable box didn’t go that high) then all of a sudden, someone in a cubicle somewhere had to completely mess up the system and make Channel 13 show up on Channel 12, Channel 6 is on Channel 5 and Channel 8 is on Channel 7. Seriously, do these people subscribe to the George Lucas method of doing math?

When my son was little, he was a big fan of Sesame Street…no problem. We have a PBS affiliate. Once upon a time we called it Channel 20 and it was on the UHF dial in its appropriate spot between Channel 19 and Channel 21. Now if you ask me “how to get to Sesame Street” I am going to tell you that despite the fact that WFYI is called Channel 20, it is actually located on channel 3. (Don’t judge me, people, I suspect Count Von Count sympathizes with my issue here.)  We have the Christian channel WHMB-TV 40 that, last time I checked, is Channel 9 and as I recall at one point we had a Channel 42 which appeared on Channel 10 before disappearing completely or being swallowed whole by Channel 4. I really do not know what happened to it, but I am begging you…DON’T TOUCH THAT DIAL!!!!

And now…we have this. CBS is moving to channel 4. At the moment, no one knows what is going to happen to the people working at the CBS affiliate. Perhaps they will find another affiliation and continue, but unless I am crazy (and the jury is still out on that) I think all of the major networks are accounted for. I have no clue as to what happens to the shows that were previously on channel 4 such as The Carrie Diaries, Arrow, etc…there are rumors that they are being moved to WTTV’s sub-channel 4.2 (seriously? Now we are using decimals?) but that will only help out people who have an antennae. Those of us who simply have cable may be out of luck and have to turn to our apps to see current episodes. and NO one has addressed what will happen to Sammy Terry’s Halloween special when all of this occurs…believe me, heads will ROLL if we do not get to see our favorite ghoul on October 31 on Channel 4. That would be a change we CAN’T live with.

I’m telling you we have already suffered enough this year. We had to contend ourselves with the fact that Jim Neighbors won’t sing at the 500 anymore. I don’t think we can take anything else..give us another 60 years and we’ll discuss another major break with tradition, but for now, I’m begging you. Leave the TV alone.

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March Article for Glo Magazine

IMG_8023          It’s official. I am getting older. There is no other way to rationalize the strange phenomenon that has altered my television viewing practices of late. One night, I went to bed hopped up on 30-minute sitcoms and the occasional reality train wreck and the next day, I woke up with an inexplicable desire to watch hour-long, commercial-free shows heavily laced with British accents.

There is only one logical explanation for this: I’ve reached some mystical age when PBS suddenly becomes cool.

This is unsettling for someone who all but boycotted the network as a child. Oh sure, I was a long-time “neighbor” of Mister Rogers, but I had a problem with any organization whose programs were suspiciously educational. Sesame Street was a little too concerned with things like letters and numbers; The Electric Company was some kind of phonetic utility firm, and Reading Rainbow? Please…I knew a literacy lesson when I saw it. Only Mister Rogers Neighborhood and his Neighborhood of Make Believe appeared to lack pedagogical value (and of course became my favorite PBS show!)

I also had a monumental issue with any station that required the bottom dial of our prehistoric television set. (If you understand that reference, then you are at least as old as I am.) If PBS couldn’t hang on the same dial as ABC, CBS, NBC and the local independent outfit, I didn’t need to tune in. (Lest you think I am biased, I had the same opinion of the religious affiliate that showed a block of Tennessee Tuxedo cartoons in the afternoon before starting their daily Lester Sumrall marathon.)

I spent the better part of my life believing that PBS was for old people like my father who routinely pre-empted my Saturday morning cartoons to watch This Old House, The New Yankee Workshop, and The Woodwright Shop. He had a special affection for PBS staples such as Cosmos and Nova not to mention every in-depth study of the Number Seven the network could come up with. He even went so far as to donate money during Pledge Week.

In my young opinion, Pledge Week was proof positive that PBS was a ruse. Let’s face it, the only time PBS broadcast anything worthwhile was during Pledge Week. For seven days, the network offered programs never seen throughout the year while talking heads at the phone banks begged for money and promised more high-quality programming like the show one was currently watching. They may have guilted my father into making a donation with their plea, but they weren’t fooling me! I knew that when the lights went out and the phone lines closed, they packed up their Suze Orman lectures and Ed Sullivan retrospectives, leaving with the same shows we had before.

This makes the current turn of events even more disconcerting. Either I’m getting older, PBS programming suddenly resonates with me or they finally got that windfall they were looking for because the lineup has radically improved. I’ve caught myself tuning into Masters, the American Experience and BBC imports such as Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife, and Paradise at an unhealthy rate. I downloaded their app as part of my conversion to “quality” programming and have spent hours online watching documentaries on everything from the Kennedys to that guy in the Philippines who became the lead singer of Journey. Good times, I tell you.

My family is worried that prolonged PBS viewing could lead to Matlock and Murder, She Wrote marathons. They have begun to keep track of the number of times I tune into, mention or recap some show I have recently watched on the local affiliate and I suspect an intervention is on the horizon. Maybe they will lock me in a room with loud rock music until I come to my senses.

That’s fine by me. I hear PBS recently did a documentary on Jimi Hendrix. Maybe I can stream it!

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October Column for MHH- Until Further Notice

Family           It’s the last thing anyone wants to see in the wee hours of the morning when they tiptoe into the house: a lone figure sitting in the middle of the sofa, wearing a scowl and tapping her foot demanding to know one’s whereabouts.

“Do you know what time it is?” She asks the unlikely party animals who are undoubtedly aware of the hour hence why they are creeping around in the first place.

My parents started at me with a mixture of bewilderment and disbelief. Was this their daughter accosting them like they were a couple of teenagers who broke curfew?

clock            Few nights in my life stand out as much in my mind as that Friday in October 1985 when I grounded my parents. It started out to be such a festive occasion. My homebody parents announced that they were meeting some friends for a late dinner, dancing and drinks at a nearby restaurant and I was thrilled. At 13, I was content to have the house to myself where I could blast music on my stereo, eat pizza, pop popcorn in the microwave and, if they stayed out late enough, catch the entire Top 20 Video Countdown on MTV.

Then something went wrong. I went to bed around 11 o’clock and had just fallen asleep when I heard the phone ring in the dining room. It was my mother telling me that some other friends joined them and that they would be home “after a while.”

“When?” I asked.

“Oh I don’t know, after a while,” she replied. “You’re not scared to be alone are you?”

poltergeist-original            Well I wasn’t until she brought it up, but not two seconds after I hung up the phone, the house starting rocking and moaning…making those noises houses NEVER make in the daytime. I willed myself to go to sleep, but I was distracted by the things that go bump in the night. I got up to watch some TV but cable decided to have a glitch in their system and I was left with nothing but a static-filled screen. They’re Heeeeere, I thought to myself.

Midnight rolled into one o’clock with no sign of my parents anywhere and my imagination running wild. At 2 a.m., I was standing at the kitchen window staring down the street when I saw familiar headlights swing into view. I bolted over to the couch to take my place, determined to bust them both when they came inside.

“Julie, what are you still doing up?” My father asked in surprise.

“Don’t turn this around on me,” I shot back defensively. “I’m not the one who stayed out all night.”

“But we called,” my mother reasoned. “You never mentioned that you were scared.”

“Oh, I wasn’t scared, just worried about you, that’s all,” I clarified, crossing my fingers behind my back.

My parents hid knowing grins and apologized contritely for their behavior. Satisfied that they would never stay out so late again, I sent them to bed and told them we’d talk about it in the morning. “However, consider yourselves grounded until further notice.”



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Fabulous Fridays-Why I can never go on a reality show

Not that I am being pursued by the networks or anything, but I’ve been thinking about this and I have come to the conclusion that I can never go on a reality-based competition show. I spent half of my summer following the antics inside the Big Brother house (hours out of my life I can NEVER get back, by the way) and with each passing week, I found myself adding to my list of reasons as to why I would not make a good contestant.

survivor_cover   1. I’m not much of a competitor. This piece of news may come as a big shock to some, particularly my sons who I take pride in beating at every game we play, but I’m really not into to cut throat, do-or-die battles. There’s too much pressure and if I’m competing for basic necessities such as a bed to sleep in, food to eat and hot water to wash in…I’ll pass.



Big-Brother-slop-2    2. I’m too picky, especially when it comes to food. In every reality competition I have ever seen, it always seems that contestants are expected to eat some kind of weird concoction of food. Yeah…not so much. I remember when the penalty food on Big Brother used to be Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches, which didn’t sound too bad to me, but when they moved to the “slop” I knew this girl would not be auditioning for that show any time soon. If I ever had to eat a bug, ice cream and relish mixed together or any other gastronomical equivalent to Chernobyl, it’s not worth it.

survivor-heroes-vs-villians-final   3. I may not be a “people person” after all.  I enjoy meeting new people as much as the next person and I really applaud folks who are willing to live with a bunch of strangers in the bush, on an island, race around the world with them, etc…but I can’t see myself being flexible enough to adapt my living habits to suit several personality types all living in a unique setting and do what I would have to do in order to get along with the group. Ask anyone who knows me, I’m rather set in my ways, am not always pleasant to be around and have a tendency not to “play nice” with the other kids.

Big_Brother_8_Cast    4. I lack the personality that these shows tend to attract. Seriously, where do they FIND these people? While some contestants admit that their behavior is all an “act” I can’t help thinking that for some of them, this is EXACTLY who they are and that’s just a bit disturbing to me. (For the record, I LOVED Evel Dick of BB8, but something tells me that sooner or later I would do something to tick him off and I have a feeling that his bad side is not the place I would want to be.)

reality_tv_collage    5. It’s just not my thing. I am amazed by the amount of people who regularly audition for reality shows like it is a profession, but have no desire to put myself out there like that. If I want to get rich, I guess I will do it the old fashioned way, through hard work, discipline and setting attainable goals-not by backstabbing people and talking smack in hopes that the American public will find me irresistible and reward me for my tolerance.

I probably would be on a reality show if it was based on my family, though we hardly create enough drama to be interesting and we aren’t big on throwing each other under the bus. Still I doubt any network would find a show about three people who love and care about each other nearly as impressive as a bunch of lying, scheming people ready to kill for $1 million.  There is always hope though that someone will realize that Vincent could carry a half hour situation comedy all by himself and make us an offer we can’t refuse, but until then I will remain happily on my own island with no one watching me.

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Buy It, Borrow It, or Bag It- The Wilder Life By Wendy McClure

Little House        I’d been wanting to read this book for a while now and due to a happy coincidence, I was finally able to. I wasn’t sure exactly what I might find between the pages, but what I ended up with was a cathartic look into my childhood and an epiphany about how some elements of my life all fit together (even if I never realized it before.)

This book is for anyone who either grew up reading the “Little House” books or who (like me) was obsessed with the TV show. (I learned that there is a great deal of division between the “book” people and the “TV” people…just sayin’) It’s not that I didn’t read the books as well, but it paled in comparison to seeing it come to life every Monday on NBC. The author, who is more of a “book” person, went on quite a journey to “find” Laura Ingalls Wilder, not only visiting many of the locations affiliated with the stories, but attempting to make many of the recipes and life “The Wilder Life.” She makes connections between the generation that dreamed of “being Laura” and our obsession with the American Girl series (Whose first character was, not surprisingly, a pioneer girl) and how even one of the more recent historic characters (Julie) is a fan of the Wilder books…it’s all symbiotic how the generations are connected through this nine-volume series that has become a beloved classic.

The book is not a look into the sociology of literary obsession, but a very humorous and loving tribute to a literary character that so many admire. I highly recommend this book to anyone who watched the series or loved the books…you will find yourself saying, “Me too!!!!”

Buy It if you are a LHOTP fan and share with your friends!

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