We get letters. . . .
This batch responds to last Wednesday's column on some of the tricks of TV news ("A Loud Assault on TV Phoniness") and last Monday's rave review of the Emmy telecast on Fox (" 'Sunday Night Live' from Downtown Pasadena").
Your knocking Judd McIlvain, the Channel 2 "Troubleshooter," is a puzzle. He does good, as you can see. He's a poor man's ombudsman. What's wrong with dramatic investigative reporting that also serves to be entertaining? "60 Minutes" does it. Tell us why this kind of reporting for McIlvain is unethical, but ethical for Harry Reasoner, Ed Bradley, Mike Wallace and yourself?
I think the anchors and newspeople should be addressing me and not each other. I always thought that it was an ego trip that they have to mention each other's names again and again. The cuteness sickens me.
Think how much real news there would be if the anchors cut out the cute jokes, chitchat and asides. Not many of them impress me with having the intelligence to do anything more than read their scripts.
A once honorable profession has turned into a sickening occupation, if there ever was one. Apparently most of the participants are frustrated movie aspirants.
GEORGE W. FRENCH
How can I get past the personalities ???
If Keith Morrison ever gets any more laid back than he is, someone is going to have to pick him up from the floor. I always have a feeling while watching Linda Alvarez and her Stanislavsky pen that at any moment, she will break into an aria from "Carmen."
When George Fischbeck puts his face into the camera, I feel the same sort of grossness that made me leave the theater when Joel Grey did the same thing in "Cabaret." Angela Black and her sing-song one-note delivery drive me to another channel immediately. Fritz Coleman makes it evident that he's only putting in time doing weather while waiting to replace David Letterman.
There are four professionals in the Los Angeles-area TV market: Kirstie Wilde, who is being wasted at Channel 11; Christopher Nance, who is excellent at his job; Yolanda Nava, who is good at anything she tries; and, of course, Jess Marlow, who is the best of the best!
JEAN M. BATTERSBY
Here are a series of gripes I've had bottled up for years:
--The interruption in a prime-time program announcing in dire tones, "Ten thousand Eskimos are committing suicide! News at 11." My, my, that sounds scary. So I'm hooked. I tune in at 10, and 10:20 and at 10:25 and at 10:40, and finally the awaited report comes on. It's 30 seconds to the effect that certain fish in the ocean continue to show some evidence of DDT or whatever, and people who eat fish may well get sick.
--The interruption during the 5 o'clock news to tell me what I'm going to be thrilled to see on the 6 o'clock news.
--"Coming up! Fire on the Santa Monica freeway!" "Coming up"--that's TV-ese for: "We'll get to it sometime before the hour ends." Spare me, please!
CHARLES D. SMITH
I was surprised to read your praise of the Emmy Awards show. I expected the opposite. I almost turned off the show during the long, dull and very out-of-tune opening. It was an act that made me actually wish for Chuck Barris to come out with a gong--and wishing for Chuck Barris to appear is an extreme proposition in my mind.
Although Robin Williams is a talented comedian, his injection was hardly, as you wrote, "inspired." I think you should be more discerning than that. These hours of mediocrity made me wonder if the writers' strike is really over. We should expect more from these people who are supposed to be the best the industry has to offer. Maybe these people were from industry rather than industry people.
The Emmy Awards show was the most tedious 3 1/2 hours I have ever sat through. You loved it, and you also loved "The Cavanaughs," which turned out be awful--148th in the ratings. So you aren't God!