20180821

SUPER-FRIENDS

In the 1978 episode of 'Super-Friends' - 'Conquerers of the Future', the Legion of Doom, which dedicated to a single objective: the conquest of the universe, left the 20th century and traveled into the future to the year 3984. It was understood 39 represented the year of the start of World War II (1939) and 84 represented George Orwell's vision of the future in the book, 'Nineteen Eighty-Four'. 

In the year 3984, the leaders of earth were Yerba and Zemora. They lived in the ruling chamber of the gated domed city. Outside the domed city lived the barbarian-like Barlocks, who were cavepeople. At that time, the earth civilization was gone. Lex Luthor decided to join forces with the Barlocks to take over the domed city in his quest to conquer earth. 

Following the takeover, Sinestro smirked, "An entire planet at our feet and all the comfort of the 40th century." Toyman added, "And no Super-Friends." Black Manta chuckled, "Gold! Jewels! Statues erected in our honor!" However Lex Luthor countered, "I say it's not enough! Why be satisfied with the earth when the power at our disposal we could rule the galaxy? With the Barlocks under our command we could conquer every planet within the milky way!" Grodd guffawed, "Why stop there? Before long we could control the entire universe." 

To do so, Lex Luthor launched an attack on the ruling planet of sector 13 as well as the ice planet. In order to stop the Legion of Doom, the Super-Friends penetrated the time barrier to travel 10,000 years into the future where Superman found the Book of Revelation (also known as 'A History of Earth from the Year 2000 to 7000'). The Super-Friends successfully returned the earth back to its rightful rulers and returned the Legion of Doom back to the 20th century. 

The question remained, "Is time travel possible?" Dr Marc from NASA explained, "The great 20th century scientist Albert Einstein developed a theory called Special Relativity. The ideas of Special Relativity are very hard to imagine because they aren't about what we experience in everyday life, but scientists have confirmed them. This theory says that space and time are really aspects of the same thing - space-time. 

"There's a speed limit of 300,000 kilometers per second (or 186,000 miles per second) for anything that travels through space-time, and light always travels the speed limit through empty space. Special Relativity also says that a surprising thing happens when you move through space-time, especially when your speed relative to other objects is close to the speed of light. Time goes slower for you than for the people you left behind. You won't notice this effect until you return to those stationary people. 

"Say you were 15 years old when you left Earth in a spacecraft traveling at about 99.5% of the speed of light (which is much faster than we can achieve now), and celebrated only five birthdays during your space voyage. When you get home at the age of 20, you would find that all your classmates were 65 years old, retired, and enjoying their grandchildren! 

"Because time passed more slowly for you, you will have experienced only five years of life, while your classmates will have experienced a full 50 years. So, if your journey began in 2003, it would have taken you only 5 years to travel to the year 2053, whereas it would have taken all of your friends 50 years. In a sense, this means you have been time traveling. This is a way of going to the future at a rate faster than 1 hour per hour. 

"Time travel of a sort also occurs for objects in gravitational fields. Einstein had another remarkable theory called General Relativity, which predicts that time passes more slowly for objects in gravitational fields (like here on Earth) than for objects far from such fields. So there are all kinds of space and time distortions near black holes, where the gravity can be very intense."

Astrophysicist Paul Sutter at space.com informed, "Special relativity teaches us that the three dimensions of space and the solitary dimension of time are woven together like a fabric. It's impossible to think of them as separate entities, only a singular unified entity - space-time. We can't think of motion through space without being mindful of motion through time, and vice versa. Left-right, up-down, back-forth and past-future are all on equal footing. And yet, time does seem a little different. 

"We have complete freedom of movement within space, but we cannot avoid our future. Time seems to have an 'arrow', whereas the spatial dimensions are ambidextrous. Given the unity between time and space, it leads to the obvious question: Is time travel, of any sort, possible? Under any circumstances? At all? Many science fiction stories explore humanity's desire to travel back in time. Is such a thing really possible in our universe? 

"Oddly enough, the answer is yes! We cannot avoid moving into our futures, but we can control the rate that we move through time. This is a consequence of another lesson from relativity: Not all clocks are the same. The speed at which you move through space determines the speed at which you move through time. In the succinct phrase: Moving clocks run slow. If you could build a big enough rocket to provide a constant acceleration of 1g (9.8 meters per second per second; the same acceleration as provided by the Earth's gravity at its surface), you could reach the center of the Milky Way galaxy — a healthy 20,000 light-years away — in just a couple decades of your personal time."

20180820

STAY

Speaking to the UK 'Uncut' magazine in 2013, Jackson Browne told Bud Scoppa, "Music has an impact because a lot of people experience it at the same time, and that can’t happen exactly the same way again. But people want to hear that artist do that thing over and over. It’s great when an artist can continually grow, and the audience accepts that … In my songs, the subjects pick me; and I try to represent them." 

Michael Gallucci from the Ultimate Classic Rock website reported in 2012, "More than any of his peers, contemporaries, musical ancestors and followers, Jackson Browne was the consummate 1970s Los Angeles singer-songwriter. He was sensitive, boyish-looking and wrote incredibly melodic songs about the politics of the heart. Plus, he filled his records with L.A.'s greatest studio musicians. 

"As the '70s wound down and Browne started to explore issues outside of his own head and heart, his albums reflected this shift, as they became increasingly more political, and less melodic, throughout the '80s. 'Running on Empty' is one of the most revolutionary live concept albums ever made. Fittingly, most of the songs are about touring. What better way to end it than with this two-song medley ('The Load-Out'/'Stay') that pays tribute to the roadies and fans?"

In 1985, Jackson Browne and Clarence Clemons did a duet with the song, 'You're A Friend Of Mine' written by Jeffrey Cohen and Narada Michael Walden (who also produced the track). The song spent 19 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at No. 18 in January 1986. Daryl Hannah provided backing vocals. Jackson Browne told 'Rolling Stone' magazine in 2011, "Doing 'You're A Friend Of Mine' was such a thrill for me to be asked. It probably wasn't a song that was appropriate to have Bruce (Springsteen) on. Maybe that would've been too obvious. But I was happy to be on that record."

In an interview with 'The UK Telegraph' in 2014, Jackson Browne, then 66, told Martin Chilton, "It's not surprising that political issues find their way into songs. I think that is true of every singer and every band, because everyone has got something that they feel that strongly about. Bruce Cockburn, who is one of my favorite singers, is able to condense ideas and get to the heart of a political question in a song, but it is not easy. There is a limited audience for that compared to more universal or general subjects such as love.

"And I try to write about everything that goes on in life. Music can immerse you in a subject or it can, like the blues, provide a form of expressing resilience. And music is also a good way to escape … I don't think I was able to get what I wanted to say politically into a song until I was about 30 or 35 and it is not an easy thing to do. It's daunting given that the audience is not clamouring for political songs. The first time I wrote a political song, I woke up the next day and looked at what I had been writing and thought, 'Oh no, I can't be singing about politics, this is what I read about and what I am interested in but how can I expect it to come out in songs?"

Of his 1975 song, 'The Pretender', Jackson Browne explained, "I’m a big fan of ambiguity and its bountiful rewards, and ‘The Pretender’ is two things at once. It’s that person in all of us that has a higher ideal, and the part that has settled for compromise – like Truffaut (French film director Fran├žois Roland Truffaut) says, there’s the movie you set out to make, and there’s the one you settle for.

"But in a more serious way, 'The Pretender' is about '60s idealism, the idea of life being about love and brotherhood, justice, social change and enlightenment, those concepts we were flooded with as our generation hit its stride; and how, later, we settled for something quite different. So when I say 'Say a prayer for The Pretender', I'm talking about those people who are trying to convince themselves that there really was nothing to that idealism."

In an interview with 'Rolling Stone' magazine in August 1980 to promote his sixth album in eight years, 'Hold Out', Jackson Browne made the point to Paul Nelson, "It’s very difficult for me to do this (interview) because I’d love to tell you what I think. But I believe that it’s wrong for me to explain my songs. It’s unnecessary and it’s also dogmatic in that it limits another person’s interpretation. And I really don’t think that the songs need to be explained. I believe that, given enough time and listening, they’ll mean what they’re supposed to mean."

Jackson Browne's fifth album was performed live (recorded onstage, in various motel rooms and "on a bus somewhere in New Jersey"). Released in 1977, 'Running On Empty' remained his best-selling album, peaking at No. 3 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart. In the album, the double-sided hit 'The Load Out'/'Stay', spent 15 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and peaked at No. 20 in August 1978.

'The Load-Out' described the life of a touring musician in considerable detail which then shifted to a cover of 'Stay' which referred to the crowd remaining while the band played a final song. Jackson Browne told 'Uncut', "That album was about a shared common experience that we all had touring, that we all knew pretty well. Most of those ideas came from us touring with different people. Stagehands to this day (in 2013) come up and say, 'The Load-Out is our anthem.'"

As noted, "The phrase 'Oh won't you stay, just a little bit longer' is reprised three times, while each successive time it is sung in a higher pitch. The first time it is sung by Jackson Browne, the second by Rosemary Butler, and the third time guitarist David Lindley sings it in falsetto. Clearly, this medley would be a terrific way to end a concert."

'Stay' was originally written by Maurice Williams in 1953. The song which talked about dating in those days, topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1960. As reported, "In 1987, the song received another bump in sales, after it was featured on the soundtrack of the 'Dirty Dancing' movie. In fact, after the release of 'Dirty Dancing', the song sold more records than during its original release. Over time, 'Stay' has sold more than 9 million records."

As mentioned, "Over the years 'Stay' was a Top 20 hit for the Four Seasons, Rufus & Chaka Khan, the Hollies, and it's still sung regularly on Friday nights by many thousands of drunken fraternity boys on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line." The lyrics of Jackson Browne's 'Stay' opened with, "People stay just a little bit longer; We want to play just a little bit longer; Now the promoter don’t mind; And the union don’t mind; If we take a little time; And we leave it all behind and sing; One more song; I want you stay just a little bit longer; Please, please, please; Say you will, say you will."  


20180818

I KNEW YOU WERE WAITING

The song 'I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)' by Aretha Franklin and George Michael topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in April 1987. 

'I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)' was written by Simon Climie and Dennis Morgan. In 'The Billboard Book of Number One Hits', Dennis Morgan recounted, "That was one of those songs that came out of mid air – a gift from above, if you will." Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou maintained, "I still believe that music is one of the greatest gifts that God gave to man."

'I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)' won the Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal at the Grammy Awards in 1987. The song reached No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart as well and made Narada Michael Walden the 8th producer in the Rock Era to score back-to-back No. 1 hits. 'I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)' was also the last of Aretha Franklin's 18 Top 10 hits in the Billboard Hot 100.

In his biography 'Bare', George Michael made known, "I was nervous. I knew that Aretha would get the melody and then take it all over the place, which sounds great, but the thing also needed tying down. Nobody can emulate Aretha Franklin. It's stupid to try. I just tried to stay in character, keep it simple. It was very understated in comparison to what she did."

Speaking to 'Entertainment Weekly' in 2017, Aretha Franklin remembered the one-off project, "The first time I heard George was with Wham! and I liked it then. He had a very unique sound, very different from anything that was out there. When Clive (Davis) suggested we get together for 'I Knew You Were Waiting,' I was all ready. It reminded me of Jerry Wexler. We'd go in the studio and cut songs. If we were happy with what we recorded, Jerry would say, 'Let's wait until tomorrow. If we feel the same way that we do now, maybe we have a hit.' 'I Knew You Were Waiting' had that. Musically, it does not grow old."

In the interview with the BBC, George Michael told Kirsty Young, "I was too nervous to produce her or write the song, so we did someone else's song and Nerada Michael Walden produced. He's a lovely man. We sang (the choruses) together, which was phenomenal. She wanted to do it that way, but we sang them either side of the mic, the way they always pretend to in the videos. Can you imagine? I'm standing there, just freaking out, I'm singing the other side of a mic with Aretha Franklin and she's treating me like an equal, you know? Obviously, I'm not – but she was treating me with such respect."

As noted, "'I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)' is one of the 1980s most memorable songs and duets." At a concert in Charleston, South Carolina in 2017, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill performed the song. Cillea Houghton reported, "On their 2017 Soul2Soul Tour, the country couple delivered a duet from two of music's other biggest superstars: Aretha Franklin and George Michael.

"'I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)' is a perfect fit for the country singers, who do the legendary duo justice with their strong harmonies and enthusiastic delivery. Hill, dressed in a sheer, glittering dress, and McGraw, who looks sharp as always in an all-black outfit and his signature cowboy hat, demonstrate their unique passion throughout the performance, which concluded with thunderous applause from the crowd."

Sieraaj Ahmed of 'Huffington Post' shared with readers in 2017, "Funny, the way music affects us all in different ways; how one song can take on so many meanings to so many very different people. I was ten years old when Aretha Franklin and George Michael's 'I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)' came out, in January 1987. George Michael had been a household name since around 1984, and with each single my little already-music-geeked brain would explode anew, thinking, 'This! This. Is. The. Best. Song. I Have Ever Heard!!!!'

"When 'I Knew You Were Waiting' came out, it quickly replaced 'Careless Whisper', which had replaced eight-year-old me's choice of 'Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go' as my Best Song Ever Recorded. At the time, in Apartheid South Africa in the aftermath of the tumultuous 'State of Emergency' years of 1985/86 – years in which the simmering tensions simmered so high that the country teetered just on the edge of full-blown civil war – there was something delightfully transgressive about loving this song.

"Thirty years later, when I hear that heavenly chorus, my strongest association is not to a longed-for love in the form of a person. Instead I find myself remembering what the long-awaited arrival of 27 April 1994 felt like to my by then 17-year-old heart. My heart leaps unstoppably to the still-fresh memory of what freedom felt like when it finally arrived for the South Africans who’d lived to see the day: 'When the river was deep, I didn't falter. When the mountain was high, I still believed. When the valley was low, it didn’t stop me ... No, No: I knew you were waiting for me.'

"I don’t know if George Michael and Aretha Franklin realized the song might give hope to people in all sorts of situations – and not just those pining for romantic love – but, regardless, it did. To me this song was a promise sung from their hearts and injected into my ten-year-old brain; a promise that something better waited beyond the mess of what South Africa looked like in 1987."

20180811

MR. TAMBOURINE MAN

The Bob Dylan's song, 'Mr. Tambourine Man', performed by The Byrds, topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in June 1965 and "changed the face of rock music". It marked the start of the folk-rock revolution. Lead singer Roger McGuinn told 'Let It Rock' in 1975, "To get that sound, that hit sound, that 'Mr. Tambourine Man' sound, we just ran it through the electronics which were available to us at that time, which were mainly compression devices and tape delay, tape-sustain. That's how we got it, by equalizing it properly and aiming at a specific frequency." 

In 'Bob Dylan - Performing Artist: The Early Years', David Crosby recounted, "He (Bob Dylan) came to hear us in the studio when we were building The Byrds (previously known as the Jet Set). After the word got out that we gonna do 'Mr. Tambourine Man' and we were probably gonna be good, he came there and he heard us playing his song electric, and you could see the gears grinding in his head. It was plain as day. It was like watching a slow-motion lightning bolt." 

Bob Dylan remembered, "Bruce (folk guitarist Bruce Langhorne) was playing with me on a bunch of early records (around Greenwich Village). On one session, (producer) Tom Wilson had asked him to play tambourine. And he had this gigantic tambourine. It was, like, really big. It was as big as a wagon wheel. He was playing and this vision of him playing just stuck in my mind." 

As understood, when The Byrds recorded 'Mr. Tambourine Man', the group took some lyrics out and added a 12-string guitar lead. Roger McGuinn elaborated, "I was shooting for a vocal that was very calculated between John Lennon and Bob Dylan. I was trying to cut some middle ground between those two voices … Underneath the lyrics to 'Mr. Tambourine Man,' regardless of what Dylan meant, I was turning it into a prayer. I was singing to God and I was saying that God was the Tambourine Man and I was saying to him, 'Hey God, take me for a trip and I'll follow you.'" 

'History' website noted, "In just a few months, the Byrds had become a household name, with a No. 1 single and a smash-hit album that married the ringing guitars and backbeat of the British Invasion with the harmonies and lyrical depth of folk to create an entirely new sound. Perhaps someone else could have listened to the bright guitar lines of the Beatles' 'Ticket To Ride' and to Bob Dylan's original 'Mr. Tambourine Man' and had the idea of somehow combining the two, but neither of those recordings existed when the Byrds' Roger McGuinn devised his group's new sound. 

"Aiming consciously for a vocal style in between Dylan’s and Lennon’s, McGuinn sang lead, with Gene Clark and David Crosby providing the complex harmony that would, along with McGuinn's jangly electric 12-string Rickenbacker guitar, form the basis of the Byrds' trademark sound. That sound, which would influence countless groups from Big Star to the Bangles in decades to come, had an immediate and profound impact on the Byrds' contemporaries, and even on the artists who’d inspired it in the first place."

Richard Clayton of the 'Financial Times' reported in July 2016, "'Mr. Tambourine Man' is one of the signature songs of the 1960s, the moment when the 'voice of a generation' broke free of the strictures of folky protest to find himself in surrealistic poetry … 'Mr. Tambourine Man's' most important legacy is that it threw open the possibilities of what pop, and specifically pop lyrics, could be. 

"That it was covered almost immediately by The Byrds - in a rockier version as influential as Dylan's acoustic original - only redoubles its impact. 'Mr. Tambourine Man' would eventually open the acoustic side of 'Bringing It All Back Home', the 1965 release that launched Dylan's 'electric' period and triggered an arms race of creativity with The Beatles and The Beach Boys.

"On January 25, 1965 (ten days after Dylan had cut his album version), McGuinn nailed his vocal and played the introduction on his 12-string Rickenbacker guitar. The heady sound kicked off the folk-rock boom. With abridged lyrics, and harmonies from McGuinn, Crosby and Gene Clark, these three minutes translated into a number one on both sides of the pond."

20180810

1988

In 1988, 'I Should Be So Lucky' by Kylie Minogue was the No. 1 Australian song. According to Australia's official music chart, ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) Charts, 'I Should Be So Lucky' finished the year ranked No. 5 behind '(I've Had) The Time Of My Life'; 'Simply Irresistible'; 'The Flame' and 'Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car'.

Nick Evershed of 'The Guardian' reported in 2015, "An analysis of the top singles charts for Australia since 1988 suggests rock and conventional band music generally are declining in popularity and that pop songs are getting shorter. I have analyzed the ARIA singles charts from 1988 to 2014 to get a sense of how our popular music is changing. Dance music genres such as house and trance (as well as the generic 'dance' genre) are enjoying a resurgence in recent years after peaks in the '90s and early 2000s."

In August 1980, Lindy and Michael Chamberlain found their 9-week-old child, Azaria, being taken by a dingo, the Australian coyote-like wild dog, on the campsite not far from the famous Uluru landmark. In 1988, Fred Schepisi directed the picture 'A Cry In The Dark' starring Meryl Streep as Lindy Chamberlain. 'The Guardian' observed, "Lindy and Michael are just ordinary people trapped in horrible circumstances."

'The UK Telegraph' noted in 2011, "Lindy Chamberlain's plight, depicted by Meryl Streep in the 1988 film, divided the nation." 'The New York Times' added, "The death of Azaria and the arrest and conviction of her mother became an international saga with the making of the 1988 movie 'A Cry In The Dark', in which Meryl Streep played Ms. Chamberlain."

In his review of the movie in 1988, Vincent Canby remarked, "'A Cry In The Dark' has much of the manner of a television docudrama, ultimately being a rather comforting celebration of personal triumph over travails so dread and so particular that they have no truly disturbing, larger application. Yet 'A Cry In The Dark' is better than that, mostly because of another stunning performance by Meryl Streep, who plays Lindy Chamberlain with the kind of virtuosity that seems to redefine the possibilities of screen acting.

"If there have been times when Miss Streep's extraordinary work has looked to be too technical, as in the screen version of 'Plenty', also directed by Mr. Schepisi, it is because the material (windy and impossibly pretentious in 'Plenty') has left her apparently performing in a vacuum. The screenplay for 'A Cry In The Dark', adapted by Robert Caswell and Mr. Schepisi from a book by John Bryson, isn't perfect, but it provides Miss Streep with the kind of raw material that allows her to create a character who, while being perfectly ordinary, is always unexpectedly special. 

"Wearing what appears to be a not-great black wig, which fits her head like a shower cap, and speaking with a New Zealand accent overlaid with a strong layer of Australian, Miss Streep's Lindy Chamberlain is just reticent and stubborn enough to deflect easy sentimentality. There also seems to be something a little arrogant about her, which is the way most of us react to people with strongly held beliefs we don't share.

"There is wit, which is not to be confused with humor, in everything she does, from the remarkable accent to the physical mannerisms. Unlike most screen actresses, Miss Streep works on two levels at once. There is, on the surface, the character she is creating within the context of the script. Underneath that, there is the sometimes breathtaking pleasure in watching an actress exercise her talent as she reaches for, and achieves, the high notes.

"This is not an especially popular form of screen acting. It has the effect of calling attention to itself, which goes against the grain of realist cinema in which verisimilitude is all. Being able to see and to enjoy an actress act, much as one attends to a diva such as Joan Sutherland, is not something moviegoers take to - unless, like Bette Davis, the actress more or less announces what she's doing with gestures that have become familiar with time. Miss Streep is an original for our own era."

In 1988, after defeating Chris Evert at the Australian Open to win the women's singles championship, Steffi Graf, nicknamed "Fraulein Forehand" for her trademark shot, became the 5th tennis player to win the Grand Slam also known as "The Big 4" (comprised the Australian, French and U.S. Opens and Wimbledon) in a calendar year. Pavel Slozil pointed out, "To win a Grand Slam is a major achievement. There have been so many players with plenty of ability who failed to do it. Bjorn Borg came so close to winning a Grand Slam but never made it. He was probably the best player of all time and yet there were so many hurdles in his way."

Jana Novotna conceded, "In my generation, I don't think there's anybody except Steffi who can play under no matter what circumstances. The worse the score is, the better she can get. I guess that's what champions are all about." In describing Steffi, her coach recognized, "I guess it's a combination of athletic ability she was born with and amazing willpower. She seems to be able to dig deep, when she has to."

In Australia in 1988, as Australians joined Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales to celebrate Australia Day by watching coverage of the Australian Bicentennial including witnessing the arrival of the re-enacted First Fleet voyage to Botany Bay, Sydney, channel Nine launched a revival of 'A Current Affair' (some 10 years after the program last went on air) with '60 Minutes' reporter Jana Wendt as host.

Speaking to the Australian 'Daily Telegraph' in 2015, former '60 Minutes' reporter Ray Martin told Cassandra Briedis, "In the golden days, if you didn’t work at channel Nine you worked in the bush and everyone knew it. It was a place that worked hard and played hard. The reason there's been two books on channel Nine written by Gerald Stone is because you wouldn’t sell books about (channel) Seven or Ten.

"It was a real cultural heartland of Australia and that's beyond the stars - there were legends like Frank and Kerry Packer, David Leckie and on-camera, where do you start ... Mike Walsh, Brian Henderson, Paul Hogan. In 1988, Jana Wendt, Clive James and I hosted a four-hour bicentenary special live. We crossed to all these correspondents and Americans couldn’t believe we did this live. The potential for disasters is enormous - you can make mistakes and defamation costs a lot of money but it was just what channel Nine did."

Of the network's Willoughby studios in Sydney, "Everybody from Frank Sinatra to Bob Dylan went through the doors. Orchestras, dance troupes, elephants and circuses would come in and do a performance - you name it."

In promoting its leading hour of news and current affairs in 1988, radio host John Laws told viewers, "Your competitors desperately seek the perfection you've insisted on all your life. Three decades (since 1956) of dedication set you apart from all the others. Style that is unique; colored; depth; flair; bold; compassionate; you're one of a kind."

Jana Wendt spoke to 'Fairfax Media' in 2010, "Many trees have been felled on the topic of what's going on in television, but even a part-time observer can see that (current affairs) television has shifted in style. It's certainly true that when I started, it was something I fitted into well, and that later I fitted into it less well. Times change, things evolve."

Stephen Rice who was a producer with 'A Current Affair' at the time made known in 1998, "The most traumatic time of the day for any executive producer isn't that frantic 'where-are-the-bloody-scripts?' period just before the show goes on air. It comes at about 10 past 9 the next morning, in front of your computer, when A.C. Nielsen squirts the ratings figures down the line … These are the figures by which a television producer lives and dies and you can start to respond to them as if they’re some sort of Holy Grail."

As reported in September 1989, "Once again, underpinning channel Nine’s domination were 'National Nine News', peaking at a remarkable 38, and 'A Current Affair', peaking at an equally remarkable 35. They are figures that networks once hoped to attract only with major mini-series, and now rarely do." Jana made the observation at the time, "There could have been a total viewer revolt. They could have said, you know, blow this for a joke. We don't like this chick. Or we don't like components of the program any more, good night. But they don't appear to have said that, thus far."

20180807

JANA WENDT

In July 2018, the Australian '60 Minutes' program was inducted into the TV Week Logie Awards Hall of Fame. Jana Wendt remarked, "Survival in the obstacle course of television and, in particular, television journalism, is hard and getting harder. Forty years (1979-2018) is no small achievement." Jana Wendt had been described as the "peripatetic daughter of Australian current affairs". 

'Women's Weekly' noted in 2005, "The truth is that Jana’s life has been as extraordinary as those she has documented, a life rich with experiences that most people can only dream about." As Australia reached 200 years in 1988, channel Nine presented Jana Wendt in 'A Current Affair'. "To be in journalism a natural curiosity has to drive you. I have developed a lot more (in 1990) since the early days. I was pretty lazy then. The effort you thought you had to put in to get a decent story was far short of the mark." 

'Entertainment Weekly' reported in June 1994, "Industry observers, such as network media buyer Paul Schulman, believe the (American) '60 Minutes' appeal transcends time — and changing lead-ins. Schulman points out that the show, which finished No. 2 for the 1993-94 season, averaged a slightly higher share last year after the football season.

"The show is acknowledged to be TV’s best newsmagazine, but how long can a staff whose average age is 62 stay on top? Don Hewitt, 71, does say that the show is looking for fresh faces; he's very high on Jana Wendt, 38, an Australian TV reporter who started contributing to the program in March (1994). In the end, Hewitt believes the show will survive not in spite of its age and tradition, but because of it." 

'Fairfax Media' reported in 2010, "Perhaps surprisingly for someone who became the prime-time face of a generation, Wendt says she blundered into journalism. When she arrived at network Ten in Melbourne in 1978 as a 22-year-old university graduate and asked for a job, she only vaguely knew she wanted to do something involving ideas.

"It was, she says now (in 2010), 'completely naive, stuff.' The only child of Czech refugees, Wendt says that, if anything, she was emulating her father, who was a part-time journalist for a dissident Czech newspaper." Speaking to Lauren Quaintance, Jana made the comment, "People almost literally have 10-year plans now (in 2010). That was the furthest thing from my mind ... I just lived in hope that after I did a degree something might happen."

After leaving television, Jana Wendt said, "I'm a very happy writer. So I freelance write and write a bit of fiction as well. I just enjoy it a great deal." In 2008, the book 'A Matter of Principle' was published. In the book, Jana Wendt mentioned, "But aside from the meat (or froth, as the case may be) of the interviews, I was always interested in the way that the people to whom I spoke conducted themselves in the often exalted positions they held.

"How the United States' first female Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, bore the weight of her responsibility as I watched her in the power-rich ozone of the State Department in 1998 interested me almost as much as what she was telling me about US foreign policy. Similarly, Henry Kissinger's fascinatingly bloodless analyses of world affairs were made even more absorbing by the way he carried his stats and influence at the time that we met."

In 1998, the ABC "outsourced" the 'Uncensored' program from independent producers, Beyond Productions. The 10-part 30-minute series which costed less than $1 million attracted controversy because of the network's editorial policy which forbade the outsourcing of news and current affairs. "'Uncensored' effectively strayed into current affairs in its interview with the US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright," it was reported.

However, Jana Wendt insisted at the time, "The program's interview with the US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, followed the brief set down for the program: to talk to our guests about the system of values that underpins their public acts. We first placed our request for this interview in December 1997, long before there were any plans for her to visit Australia. The fact that she chose to talk to 'Uncensored' before ABC news and current affairs is beyond our control.

"But let's be honest: this fact lies at the heart of much of the bile spilling out about 'Uncensored'. Would news programs have asked Albright about the relationship between principle and policy and the moral dilemmas she faces? And having been offered the interview, should I then have ignored the fact that she was coming to Australia to discuss regional issues?"

Then ABC managing director, Brian Johns, was diplomatic, stating 'Uncensored' was "a credit to the ABC." As reported, "Wendt and 'Uncensored' are 'becoming a symbol of the things the broadcaster might do if the Government has its way and outsources everything.'" David Salter reasoned, "It's nothing to do with her. The staff's concerns are about management doing this deal. We can understand our managers might want her as an on-screen personality so why not hire her for 'The 7.30 Report' or 'Four Corners'! Instead we have a separate system where she's bundled into a package from an outside company."

By 2011, former '60 Minutes' reporter Ray Martin complained of the lack of serious political coverage on commercial networks. In the 1980s and 1990s, channel Nine presentation of news was unequaled for audience interest and reaction. The network vowed to continue a total commitment to the best coverage on any given event and issue; setting the agenda, seting the standard day by day, hour by hour.

Speaking to 'The Sunday Telegraph', Ray Martin lamented, "There was a time ... in which channel Nine was the network Australians turned to in crisis. We did an interview (on 'A Current Affair') every night. You have to accept the fact that you may do some things that turn people off if you're going to be a credible news organization. It doesn't earn you a lot of money but it pulls a lot of cred. They've abandoned that to their own loss."

In 1990, the Australian television industry replaced the AGB McNair Anderson diary system with the A.C. Nielsen electronic people meters to measure audience. Under the log-book style, the 52-week ratings period was divided into 36-week ratings (from February to November each year) and 16-week non-ratings (between November one year and February the next).

Ray Martin continued, "People would always forget (what they watched) and they'd say, 'We watch Nine news, and we watch Mike Willesee, and we watch 'Four Corners' even if they didn't watch 'Four Corners'. So Willesee or Jana, could do 12 minutes with the Prime Minister and get away with it. When minute-by-minute ratings came along, we would find we'd lost 100,000 viewers in Sydney and 90,000 in Melbourne the moment the PM came on, whether it was (Paul) Keating or (John) Howard.

"If you're only winning by 10,000 against the other mob (rival programs), you can't afford to lose 200,000 viewers. (Former Immigration minister Philip) Ruddock was the worst. If you put Ruddock on, they'd go in droves. While every commercial television isn't offering any balance to (politics), I think they're dangerous. Those who are most successful tend to be conservative - and those who have a small-L liberal bent, they usually lose the ratings. Phillip Adams couldn't be anywhere else than Radio National. Why don't we have any moderates?"

At a seminar conducted by the Australian Institute of Management in Sydney on June 2, 2008, Jana told the audience her experience as a journalist showed her just how rich individual lives could be and how people navigated them. Advising "don’t take over the show", Jana made the point that journalists were frequently interviewing people who had a lifetime of experience in their subject matter, whether it was politics, law, management, sport or entertainment. The journalist was not the expert, that he or she would be required to learn enough to conduct the interview, but shouldn't try to compete over expertise.

20180804

DYNASTY

'This Is The Time' peaked at No. 18 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1987. In the song, Billy Joel sung, "This is the time to remember; Cause it will not last forever; These are the days; To hold on to; Cause we won't; Although we'll want to; This is the time; But time is gonna change; Some day we will both look back; And have to laugh; We lived through a lifetime; And the aftermath." 

In 2011, Karlyn Bowman and Andrew Rugg of the American Enterprise Institute informed 'The Los Angeles Times' readers, "Baby boomers who came of age during the social and political upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s tended to call themselves Democrats, and as time passed, that identification strengthened … Starting in the 1980s, attitudes of the baby boomers began changing. Polls found them becoming more family oriented and, over time, more conservative.

"Although characterized as rebellious, the vast majority of boomers were not actually radical during the 1960s and '70s … When the '60s generation was asked in the 1980s to look back to its supposedly tumultuous youth, the recollections were more tame than many had expected." The rise of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s paved the way for the New Right in American politics.

During the Reagan years, 'Dallas' and 'Dynasty' both tried to create "competing visions of wealth on TV". In its attempt to reach the segment of the baby boom generation that had "made it", 'Dynasty' showed what the "good life" should be like. Leonard Goldberg believed Aaron Spelling had "a very good instinct for popular TV, as well as a very good promoter." Aaron Spelling insisted, "I don't think the networks are giving the people what they want. They need escapism. That's what 'Love Boat,' 'Fantasy Island' and 'Dynasty' gave - escape from the harshness of day-to-day life."

Speaking to the 'Telegram & Gazette' in 2016, John James remembered, "'Dynasty' is an iconic television show. I used to call it the 'Rocky Horror Picture Show' of television because everything was bigger than life. And everything was shot in ultra-rich Panavision. My gosh, we used to go blind because they had so many lights to get so deep, rich colors."

Kevin Phillips of 'The New York Times' made the point in 1990, "The definition of who's rich - and who's no longer rich - changed as radically during the Reagan Era as it did during the great nouveaux-riches eras of the late 19th century and the 1920s, periods whose excesses preceded the great reformist upheavals of the Progressive Era and the New Deal. But while money, greed and luxury became the stuff of popular culture, few people asked why such great wealth had concentrated at the top and whether this was the result of public policy.

"The previous gilded ages occurred when America was on the economic rise in the world. The 1980s, on the other hand, turned into an era of paper entrepreneurialism, reflecting a nation consuming, rearranging and borrowing more than it built. For the next generation of populists who would like to rearrange American wealth, the bad news is that a large amount of it has already been redistributed - to Japan, (then) West Germany and to the other countries that took Reagan-era I.O.U.'s and credit slips."

The sitcom, 'Family Ties' ran between 1982 and 1989. 'The New York Times' reported in 1987, "Over the years since it was created in 1980 by Gary David Goldberg, NBC's 'Family Ties' has evolved from a series about a once ultra-liberal couple coping with the demands of a middle-class marriage to a show about their brash yuppie son celebrating the joys of making money. It helps enormously, of course, that young Alex P. Keaton is played by Michael J. Fox, an ingratiating 25-year-old actor who, between TV seasons, has won deserved attention in films like 'Back To The Future'."

'Esquire' added, "The early 1980s - more so than now (in 2013), perhaps - was a time of apparently unbridgeable political division. Gary David Goldberg's greatest achievement was 'Family Ties', the 1980s sitcom that remains one of the best TV comedies ever made. 'Family Ties' cast a young Michael J. Fox as Alex P. Keaton, a money-obsessed, ultra-conservative kid born to devotedly liberal parents - a miniature Gordon Gekko in a middle-class commune.

"This was the show's punch line. Alex didn't fit in. He wore monogrammed sweaters and swore allegiance to Ronald Reagan (reportedly a big fan of the show). 'Family Ties' first came to American screens in 1982, a year after Reagan became President, a time when the liberalism of the 1960s and '70s had finally imploded. Alex represented the new wave. He was young, brash, unwavering in his self-belief. His ex-hippie parents - well-meaning, peripheral - represented what was being left behind.

"In this sense, the show was a reflection of the American political landscape of the time - in all but one important detail … No matter how much we sympathized with the parents, it was Alex we loved." In one scene, Steven asked Elyse, "Do you think maybe he (Alex) was switched at birth and the Rockefellers have our kid?" In another scene, Alex told Steven, "The '60s are over, Dad." Steven replied, "Thanks for the tip (son)."

By 1987, Associated Press reported the television's pendulum had taken another swing with 'Dynasty' losing 20% of its audience and situation comedies, led by NBC's 'The Cosby Show' regained their old popularity. At the time, Esther Shapiro offered, "I think, too, as the Reagan years slipped away there was less interest in pomp and glitz … People love the characters particularly when they're playing as the audience expects them to be.

"But too many characters made it hard to emphasize the stories you want for your major characters. We brought the focus back to our three main stars and to stories of romance. I think 'The Cosby Show' proves that people want to see stories about people who like each other. We had love in conflict, then got away from it and now we're back to it. Conflict between people who love each other. We'll keep doing the show as long as the audience likes it. And as long as we have stories to tell."

In creating the character of Jeff Colby, John James stated in 2016, "Krystle was the sweetest thing that ever walked the earth. Alexis was the most evil. Blake was firm and pigeon-headed pig-headed. Adam was always out for Adam. Fallon was the rich (expletive). So I said, I'll be the nice guy. You have to have conflict for there to be drama. So I figured out what's my conflict."

'Dynasty II: The Colbys' sought to explore "America's most powerful family taking on the world." Barbara Holsople reported, "For the record, the Colbys have $1.2 billion in 'personal wealth' and another $42 billion in gross assets spread around such stuff as real estate, aerospace labs, petroleum, timber and 'more shipping tonnage than the Six Fleet.'"

John James recounted, "Charlton Heston actually requested that we rehearse our first scene together at Paramount. And I remember I walked in and all the lights were off on the set because we had not started shooting. And I see this hulking guy standing, facing a window with his back to me. And I said, 'My God, there's Ben Hur.'"

Blog Archive