March 8, 2002 · 12:30 PM PST ·
SPEAKING OF comic character figurines — as we often do 'round these parts — here's a pic of the prototype of the
forthcoming Groo figure. This will be part of the PVC set coming out in May from Dark Horse, which features not only Groo and Rufferto but also
statues of Sage and Mulch (together), Arba and Dakarba (separate), Minstrel, Taranto and Chakaal. They're about four inches tall and cute as
all get out and, like I said, this is a prototype. His jersey is actually more of a yellow-orange than it may appear in this pic and Sergio has
asked to give this guy a bit more of a scowl. Still, didn't the sculptors — who are somewhere in China, I believe — do a great
job? And how'd you like to have to paint all them spots on the dog? 2002 marks the 20th anniversary of our idiot barbarian, of whom it
was once said, "This comic will never last." We have a few Groo special projects for which we'll try and soak you before the year is out,
including a special book of rarely-seen Groo stories and sketches. Happy Groo Year to you all.
WE'RE STICKING with our prediction that David Letterman will keep his show at CBS. Actually, everybody who's predicting
seems to be sticking with that prediction, so it probably won't happen. Nevertheless, we also have a prediction as to who CBS will go after for
the slot if they lose Dave, which they won't unless they do. Matt Drudge is reporting that Howard Stern is at the top of a short list, so
that's probably not true. Jon Stewart's name has been mentioned but, though I think Stewart is brilliant, I can't believe anyone thinks he
could survive a three-way race against Dave and Jay. He's out of the same school of comedy and the other two guys have already carved up that
audience and developed loyal followings. So my guess is that Stewart would be a little ways down on that list and Stern would be even
What CBS would want there is someone young and capable of doing an entertainment show but whose style and audience didn't overlap so
much with Leno and Letterman. And if he's going to attract advertisers and big stars, the host would have to be enough of a star himself that
he would instantly be accepted as a contender.
I haven't seen his name mentioned anywhere for this and I have no idea if he'd do it. But if it comes down to CBS having to offer
the 11:35 time slot to someone else — which it won't, unless it does — I suspect the first call would be to whoever represents Chris
March 7, 2002 · 8:00 PM PST ·
IN 1971, Jack Kirby was writing and drawing a new creation, The Forever People, for
DC. As is not uncommon among writers, Jack based just about everything he did on either people and events in his own life or those he saw on
the news. At times, the connections were obvious. At other times, his reference points were so disguised that, even when he told me what
he thought he was writing about, I could see no trace of it in the finished product. He also did composites. The master villain of
Forever People (and its allied titles, New Gods, Mister Miracle and, for a time, Jimmy Olsen) was Darkseid — who was not
based on then-President Nixon but a number of Nixon's traits, speeches and actions did inform the character.
A lesser villain who toiled in the service of Darkseid was inspired more directly by evangelist Billy Graham, who was then rather
difficult to avoid on TV. Kirby was appalled at some of Graham's apocalyptic sermons which — to Jack — were more calculated to
instill fear than faith, and to stampede people into service of Graham's causes. Jack called the foe Glorious Godfrey, the name being a
Kirbyesque pun. The comic book evangelist was "god-free" and also had some of the traits of TV pitchman Arthur Godfrey, though the main
reference and the visual came from Billy Graham. Not evident in on the pages he drew was Jack's belief — which he expressed on several
occasions — that Graham and the president he counseled were both virulent anti-Semites.
A year or two ago in some interview or article, I mentioned that Jack based Glorious Godfrey on Billy Graham, and I mentioned it over
in our Jack F.A.Q. section, as well. This disclosure prompted a number of e-mails and letters from folks
who said they had great respect for Rev. Graham and were shocked that Jack Kirby did not. I explained to them that Graham's current style is
quite different from the fire-and-brimstone doomsday preaching he did in the early seventies...and that while Jack might appreciate how the act has
been toned down, I believe he would stand by his opinion of Billy Graham, circa 1971.
I was therefore fascinated — though perhaps unsurprised — at recent revelations from the fabled Nixon tapes. As you
can read here, Graham can be heard on several newly-released
recordings from the first six months of 1972. In them, he and Nixon are discussing their mutual distrust of Jews in high places, especially in
the media. It is exactly the kind of thing Kirby believed of the two men. His view of them was, like his view of just about everyone and
everything, right on target.
By the way: I've never quite understood the claim that the Jews control the media. I'm Jewish and I can just barely control my
March 7, 2002 · 1:30 AM PST ·
HERE'S A a one-line summary of last evening's Salute to Fred Allen at the Museum of Television and Radio. Nine very witty
men got together to watch clips and to discuss another very witty man named Fred Allen. The nine gents were Stuart Canin, Dick Cavett, Norman
Corwin, Larry Gelbart, Stuart Hample, Hal Kanter, Norman Lear, Dick Martin and Herman Wouk. A few knew Fred and had the honor of working with
him. Others were just fans from afar. All had good stories and insights and historical information and (especially) quotes of clever
Allen remarks. Wouk is, of course, best known as the author of serious, award-winning dramatic novels. Hard to believe — but true
— that he was once a comedy writer for Fred Allen.
Stuart Hample is an author-cartoonist who compiled All the Sincerity in Hollywood: Selections From The Writing of Fred
Allen, a fine book you can purchase by clicking on its name here. The other folks, you probably know of...though Canin's name may be
unfamiliar. As you may be aware, Fred Allen enjoyed a very famous fake feud with Jack Benny that commenced one evening in 1936 when Allen had a
10-year-old violinist on his program. The young man played a stirring rendition of "The Bee," and then the host commented, "Jack Benny oughta
be ashamed of himself." Well, Stuart Canin — now an important concertmaster — was that 10-year-old boy.
He told of his experiences, Lear, Kanter and Gelbart talked about their encounters with Allen, Cavett spoke of listening to the shows
in Nebraska and then, when he first came to New York, exchanging but a few words with the man outside a What's My Line? broadcast. There
were a lot of very funny Allen quotes, many of them almost poetic in their beauty, some so familiar to us from repetition that they seem like
clichés until you realize that, when Fred first said them, they were fresh. Here are a couple of my faves...
You can take all the sincerity in Hollywood, place it in the navel of a fruit fly and still have room enough for three caraway seeds
and a producer's heart.
A molehill man is a pseudo-busy executive who comes to work at 9 AM and finds a molehill on his desk. He has until 5 PM to
make this molehill into a mountain. An accomplished molehill man will often have his mountain finished before lunch.
Fred Allen was one of the cleverest men ever on radio but he never quite found a niche on television, which was a shame. When he
died, Groucho was quoted as saying there were only two wits on TV — Fred Allen and Steve Allen and now, with Fred gone, television was
half-witted. Steve's gone now, and the joke still applies.
I DON'T KNOW how many of you noticed it but it was on the news that actress Shirley Jones has filed for divorce from her husband
of 25 years, Marty Ingels. Asked what had prompted the action, Ms. Jones replied, "I woke up one morning and realized that I was married to
March 6, 2002 · 2:00 PM PST ·
OKAY, WE'RE PLUGGING a book here...a very lovely, wordless collection of sketches by my pal Michael Paraskevas. Mickey (as
we call him) is a brilliant cartoonist and illustrator whose work has been featured in dozens of fine books, most of them written by his mother
Betty, ostensibly for children. I'd recommend them all to you — especially Junior Kroll — but right now, I'm suggesting
L.A. Times, a new paperback collection of doodles from his frequent trips to Los Angeles. His style is unique and his "eye" for capturing
the essence of all the purveys is uncanny. Like many artists, he carried around one of the bound books of drawing paper and captures whatever
catches his attention. This self-published volume is a faithful reproduction of a sketchbook I saw him filling up on his visits out here, and
it's great to have a copy of it I can call my own. Click here to order a copy.
(If you're in L.A., you can see a lot of Mickey's work exhibited over at the Storyopolis Gallery over on Robertson Blvd.) If you
click on the picture, you and your credit card will be whisked over to Amazon where you can buy this splendid book — or anything else they have
there — warmed by the knowledge that a teensy percentage of your purchase is going to
www.POVonline.com. That's us.
I KNOW WHAT you've been waiting for with baited breath. And I'm pleased to announce that I've just noticed that www.irwincorey.com is open for business. The World's Foremost Authority has a whole website full
of photos and routines and silly stuff — and it's surprisingly coherent, even if he isn't. It also tells us that he's appearing Sunday
nights at a comedy club in New York and, if he's still doing that when next I go East, I intend to go see him. I recall him being very funny on
talk shows and even funny in movies where no one else was funny. I suspect though he's way too spontaneous for what passes for a talk show
GOT AN E-MAIL from someone who wishes I'd write more about comic books on this site. I will when I have something to say
about them, I promise. In the meantime, my longtime friend Tony Isabella has not one Internet Presence but two. You can read his remarks
about the industry — and I highly recommend that you do — over at
www.perpetualcomics.com. And you can find even more of them at
www.wfcomics.com/tony. I've also been enjoying the new message boards over at
www.comicbookresources.com, which Tony has nothing to do with but Scott Shaw!, Steven Grant and other fine folks do.
March 5, 2002 · 12:00 PM PST ·
HOW WE LOVE a tale of apparent network screw-ups. I always felt that too much was made of seeming incompetence in the
Letterman/Leno nastiness that formed the basis of the book and movie, The Late Shift. Soon after the latter came out, I was at a party
where a network guy — someone who'd had zero to do with it — started in on how inept NBC had been in the handling of the
changeover. On and on he went until someone asked, "Okay, what would you have done?"
And then it got a little messy because I knew the story pretty well and, every time the network guy said what he'd have done, I
corrected the details. He'd say, "Well, I would have told Dave this..." and I'd jump in and remind him, "But at that point, Johnny was
saying this." To which he'd respond, "Oh. Well, then I would have had Jay do that" and I'd say, "But at that point, Jay's
contract said this." And on and on. The gent couldn't come up with any concrete action he would have taken, other than what was
actually done, without rearranging the reality of the situation.
After about 20 minutes, he finally said, "Well, I would have treated everyone better," which of course meant that he couldn't even
quarterback on Monday morning. Even with hindsight — knowing that which the players did not know at the time — he couldn't come up
with a workable Plan B.
I dunno how the current Letterman/Koppel scuffle is going to play out. My guess right this minute is that Dave stays at CBS,
Koppel limps along at ABC for a time while they look for a replacement and a more graceful way to ease him out of the timeslot, and Bill Maher goes
elsewhere for a much better deal. But regardless of the outcome, this dust-up strikes me as a clearer example of TV executives bungling
negotiations. It probably won't spawn a book or a movie with a guy in a bad wig playing Dave...but this one seems sillier because it was so
unnecessary. There had to be an eventual war over who'd replace Johnny because, sooner or later, Johnny had to leave. But trying to bring
in Letterman to replace Koppel now is just a matter of greed. Nightline is, despite what some anonymous person claimed to The New
York Times, profitable. It's not as profitable as Letterman would probably be in that position but you can't lose money with a news show
that comes in second in its time slot.
Someone oughta remind the boys at Disney that this mistake was made before in ABC late night. Back when Dick Cavett was opposite
Johnny Carson, he put on an award-winning, well-respected show that did a lot to counter the schlock image of so much else the company was then
airing. It also finished a respectable second to Johnny and made money. Somehow, this was not enough for the folks then in charge of the
alphabet network. They reduced Cavett from every night to one week a month, folding him into a rotating format that included specials and the
second coming of Jack Paar. They called it ABC's Wide World of Entertainment but they might as well have named it The Golden
Goose because they slaughtered a profitable enterprise and wound up with bupkis. Paar bombed, Cavett was destroyed, the specials
flopped. Their whole late night franchise collapsed and for years they derived neither cash nor prestige after 11:30 until, at long last, they
garnered some of each by handing the timeslot over to — wait for it — Ted Koppel.
History will not repeat itself precisely, especially if Letterman does go to ABC. He'd probably do as well there as he has on
CBS, especially if CBS doesn't come up with a strong replacement. (The primary benefit to his ratings would not come from demographics or
lead-ins. It would come from the elimination of Nightline. I don't think Letterman would even be considering the move if he
thought CBS had a promising option for his slot.) But the more likely scenario is that he'll stay where he is and the whole negotiation will
merely have forced ABC to frag Koppel and Maher before they were ready. That strikes me as a lot dumber than anything surrounding the sturm
und drang of who'd get to sit behind Johnny's desk.
WHAT DOES your first name mean? Find out here.
AS I WRITE THIS, we are an hour or so from going over 100,000 distinct hits since this website went up. I still don't know
quite how this is tallied. If you log in twice in the same day, you're still one hit. And of course, if you stay here for hours reading
things, you're one hit but if you surf through and leave in two seconds because there's no porn, you're one hit. Whatever, it's nice that we
have an audience and I thank those of you who've visited and helped publicize this silly, non-profitable concern. I'll be putting up more
content beyond this page in a week or three when I get past some flaming deadlines. Bye now.
Click here to read the previous NEWS FROM ME