News of the Week: Gibson Fired, Gawker Bought, and Gale Ducky Comes Home

Last week saw bad news for Criminal Minds, The Nightly Show, Gawker, and 100 Macy’s stores; and good news for a well-traveled duck. This and more in Bob Sassone’s “News of the Week.”

Rubber Duck Family on the beach

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Please Don’t Kick The Writers

There’s an old saying in Hollywood: “Never kick a writer.”

Okay, I made that up, but it should be a saying in Hollywood (actually, not kicking anyone anywhere should be your default position). It’s something Criminal Minds star Thomas Gibson is thinking about today. He was fired from the show for kicking writer Virgil Williams during a disagreement while filming an episode of the show that Gibson was directing. Gibson had been on the show since its 2005 debut.

According to The Wrap, this isn’t the first time that Gibson displayed bad behavior on the set. This was only the last straw.

By the way, please note that Gibson was not the guy on Will & Grace. That was Eric McCormack. Gibson was on Dharma & Greg. A friend of mine confused the two recently.

Univision Buys, Shutters Gawker

I won’t link to the site because I don’t want to give them any more publicity and traffic than they already get, but it’s worth noting that Gawker was bought this week by Univision. The site was put up for sale after they lost a court case to Hulk Hogan and were ordered to pay $140 million to the former wrestler. Univision is buying Gawker for a reported $135 million, and I don’t know if it’s a coincidence that the amount is very close to that legal judgment.

According to The New York Times, the only other bidder for Gawker was Ziff-Davis. will cease operations next week. RIP Gawker. Well, maybe not the P part of that.

RIP Kenny Baker, John McLaughlin, Arthur Hiller, and Fyvush Finkel

I don’t know if Kenny Baker is a “household name,” as one TV anchor put it this week, but the character he played certainly is. Baker played R2-D2 in six Star Wars films, as well as in the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special in 1977 and on The Muppet Show. He also appeared in many movies, including The Elephant Man, Amadeus, Flash Gordon, and Time Bandits.

Baker died at the age of 81.

WRONG! That’s how many people will remember veteran talk show host John McLaughlin, from his own use of that word on The McLaughlin Group and from the very, very funny Saturday Night Live sketch in which Dana Carvey said it and McLaughlin’s other famous phrase, “Bye-bye!”


McLaughlin passed away from cancer on Tuesday. He was 89.

I watched The McLaughlin Group last Friday night, and it was the first time he had missed a taping of the show in 34 years. He provided a voiceover for the stories, but you could tell he was very ill (they had to use subtitles so you could understand what he was saying). Did you know he was once a Jesuit priest?

Arthur Hiller passed away Wednesday. He had a rather interesting career as a director, helming the massive hit Love Story in 1970 as well as Silver Streak, The Americanization of Emily, The Out of Towners, Plaza Suite, The In-Laws, and Author! Author!, part of which was filmed about a block from where I’m typing this in my hometown. His last film was something called Pucked, starring Jon Bon Jovi, which he made in 2006.

He also directed several TV shows in the ’50s and ’60s, including Gunsmoke, Playhouse 90, Climax!, Wagon Train, Thriller, Perry Mason, The Rifleman, Naked City, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents; and he was president of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 1993 to 1997.

Hiller passed away Wednesday at the age of 92.

Fyvush Finkel — what a great name! — passed away this week, too, at the age of 93. He appeared in movies like Brighton Beach Memoirs and Nixon, but you probably remember him from is role as Douglas Wambaugh on the TV show Picket Fences, for which he won an Emmy.

One thing I didn’t know: Finkel co-starred in the 1998 reboot of Fantasy Island, playing one of the travel agents (along with Sylvia Sidney) who brought people to the island for Malcolm McDowell’s Mr. Roarke character. Wow, I don’t remember that role at all, and the reboot itself is something I only vaguely recall.

Bye-Bye! The Nightly Show

Comedy Central seems to be falling apart since Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert left. No one seems to quote The Daily Show anymore since Trevor Noah took over (I have to admit, I think I’ve watched it twice since Stewart left), and no one seemed to watch the replacement for The Colbert Report either.

Which is probably why, this week, the network canceled The Nightly Show with Larry Willmore. It’s odd that the show will be canceled immediately (the final show aired last night), right in the middle of an election season. You’d think they’d want to keep it on the air at least until November, but maybe they think The Daily Show is enough for now.

Bye-Bye! 100 Macy’s Stores

I still shop at Macy’s, so I hope the store near me isn’t on the list of the 100 Macy’s stores that are going to close.

What’s going on? Is everybody buying their clothing at discount stores and online now? Apparently, many see the closings as a good thing. Motley Fool calls it “brilliant,” and after the closings were announced, Macy’s stock was up 16%.

Hello Again Gale Ducky!

This is my favorite story of the week.

The Troiano family of Hampton, New Hampshire, used to have a large rubber duck in their yard that would sometimes float in puddles and attract the attention of people going by. That was until five years ago, when someone stole the duck.

Here’s where the story takes a turn. A few months after the duck was taken, the family started to get not only postcards from the duck but also photographs of the duck in famous places around the world, including Austria, Kuwait City, Panama, and in planes, on trains, and even on many famous beaches. Someone even set up a Facebook page so the family and others could follow the adventures of Gale Ducky.

The plot took another turn this week when … well, I’ll let you watch this video from WMUR that explains what happened next:

Now that’s one story that deserves to go viral.

Today Is National Hot and Spicy Food Day, For Some Reason

Sure, this seems like a good idea, having National Hot and Spicy Food Day in the middle of August, when it’s 89 degrees and humid in many places. That would be like having National Strawberry Ice Cream Day in the middle of January.

Actually, I just checked — National Strawberry Ice Cream Day is in the middle of January. Never mind.

If you can stand the heat and don’t want to get out of the kitchen, here’s a recipe for Baked Barbecue Chicken — Spicy Southern Style. Here’s one for a spicy Shredded Chicken Salad, and if you really want to deny that it’s still August, here’s one for chili from Emeril Lagasse.

And you can wash it all down with some cool Red Tea Lemonade, because hey, it really is still summer.

Upcoming Events and Anniversaries

Olympics closing ceremonies (August 21)

It airs on NBC at 8 p.m. ET. Here’s where the medal count stands.

Sacco and Vanzetti executed (August 23, 1927)

The March 1927 issue of The Atlantic had an intriguing look at the murder and robbery case.

Mount Vesuvius erupts (August 24, 79)

Scientists still don’t know exactly how many people died when the volcano erupted.

Leonard Bernstein born (August 25, 1918)

The composer and conductor’s official site has a ton of great information.

Charles Lindbergh dies (August 26, 1974)

From The Saturday Evening Post a couple of years ago, a re-examination of the famed aviator’s life.


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  1. Thanks Bob, that group has always been my favorite also. After that it was never the same. Over the past 20+ years it’s success has strictly been just being ‘SNL’ and nothing more; not unlike a teacher with tenure LOOOONG past the time he or she should have retired. In this case that would be cancelled.

    In re-reading my comments (I’m my own toughest critic) I really meant to mention ‘Washington Week in Review’ as the boring analysis of every generic weeks goings on in Washington. At least though, that show was/is professional and in control. To me ‘The McLaughlin Group’ was dramatic theater, often with the panel screaming and fighting which I tune out. The SNL skits may have exaggerated it, but unfortunately not as much as you might think. Still, I have to give it credit for it’s longevity. I have a feeling it’s not going away.

    Paragraph 6 correction: Macy’s closing down 100 stores due to online shopping and the various discount chains is too bad. The ‘If’ should not be there!

  2. I liked the Phil Hartman/Dana Carvey era too. A lot of fans will say that SNL was the best when it started, with Belushi et al but I like the late 80s/early 90s cast.

  3. It’s too bad about Thomas Gibson’s firing from ‘Criminal Minds’. I read the article from your link and was rather shocked and surprised by his behavior. The show was, and remains, and excellent one otherwise.

    My Dad watched ‘The McLaughlin Group’ religiously up until he passed away (at 92) in 2008. Politics and the Catholic church were his two main interests. In the case of the former I generally found the week to week summation of the political scene a total bore except for the weeks leading up to the elections every 4 years.

    A lifelong Democrat, he was not happy his son is an Independent and attends church at a spiritual center where the Reverends are a married couple: he a former atheist, and she a Russian-American Christian Jew. Dad NEVER liked Nixon, felt he was the worst President (and Vice-President before that) we ever had, and Watergate the worst crime in American political history. Seriously.

    No doubt he would have been unhappy with the positive comments I’ve made on the POST website (more than once) on Nixon if he could have known about them. This is literally the reason my first name is not Richard which my Mom wanted for me. Ironically, I get called Richard anyway (and Paul or David) when people get my first name wrong. Strange but true.

    Anyway, the ‘McLaughlin’ spoofs SNL did in the excellent 1986-’93 generation featuring Dana Carvey as John, were among the best skits (of many) from those years.

    If Macy’s is closing down 100 stores due to online shopping and the various discount chains is too bad. At least the stores aren’t going away all together like most of the new book bookstore chains.

    One contributing factor NOT mentioned is that for the last several years, Macy’s has consistently run way too many tacky, loud, abrasive TV ads (especially around the Holidays) that frankly reek of desperation; not what I’d expect from what is supposed to be a classy department store. If Macy’s PRICES were more low rent like Ross, Target and Walmart, it might be a different story except they’re not—not at all.


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