News of the Week: Miss Universe, Miss Betty White, and The Most Uninteresting Story of the Week

There She Is … No Wait, THERE She Is …

You’ve probably seen the video of Miss Universe pageant host Steve Harvey mistakenly naming Miss Colombia as the winner of the crown instead of the real winner Miss Philippines. It’s cringe-inducing live television at its best, and it certainly livened up a show that a lot of people probably don’t care about anymore. Here’s the moment if you missed it:

The latest? There are people who actually think the whole thing was staged, for ratings and attention. I don’t doubt things like that happen — especially in this day of viral videos and hashtags — but I really don’t think that’s the case here.

What I would like to know is why did Harvey add that line about the audience not blaming the contestants? Why would anyone blame them for Harvey’s mistake? Sounds like he was trying to deflect blame a little there.

Donald Trump says that if he were still in charge of the pageant this wouldn’t have happened (because when he had the pageant he personally typed up the cards the host used, or something), and many say they should let both women share the title. I think that’s a terrible idea, but I think we can expect to see a TV commercial soon with one or both of the women spoofing what happened.

A Betty White Christmas

Betty White at The 2005 Writers Guild Awards, February 19, 2005 Everett Collection /
Betty White at The 2005 Writers Guild Awards, February 19, 2005
Everett Collection /

For the past week or so, the game show channel Buzzr has had a marathon of Betty White game show episodes, showing everything from black-and-white episodes of What’s My Line? in the ’50s to later shows like Match Game and Super Password. Today they’re doing a full-blown Betty White Christmas 24-hour marathon. Instead of watching basketball or that A Christmas Story marathon for the 9,000th time, how about teaching the kids about this incredible woman Betty White?

It’s amazing the longevity White has had, isn’t it? Someone who had her own TV show in 1952 is still on the air. Wow.

James Burrows Hits 1,000

Speaking of amazing TV achievements, director James Burrows just directed his 1,000th episode of television, an episode of NBC’s new sitcom Crowded. You may remember seeing Burrows’s name in the credits of many TV shows because he has directed, well, practically every TV show you could name. Besides directing almost every episode of Cheers, Taxi and Will & Grace and many episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Bob Newhart Show, he directed the pilot episodes of Friends and Newsradio and The Big Bang Theory and Mike and Molly and …

You know what? I could list all of the shows Burrows has directed but there’s not enough room on this site. Check out his IMDb page.

The Most Uninteresting Story of the Week

I think we’re all impressed that Star Wars: The Force Awakens has made so much money, breaking records left and right. It made $248 million in the U.S. opening weekend and $529 million worldwide. It also broke several single-day and preview-day records. But is this really an interesting story?

Is there anyone who predicted that the movie would fail or not break records? This is Star Wars we’re talking about, not Sisters or Alvin and the Chipmunks: Road Chip. We’re talking about a franchise that’s been massively popular for decades. Sure, pop culture websites and magazines have to report the news that the movie did so well, but the coverage has been so breathless and filled with exciting, over-the-top phrasing that they’re making it sound like this is a case of man-bites-dog instead of dog-bites-man. Now, if Star Wars: The Force Awakens had bombed at the box office or was universally panned, that would have justified 50,000 social media posts.

Here’s a prediction I’ll make a few years in advance and you can quote me: The next Star Wars movie is going to make a ton of money.

Sarah Palin’s Revenge

Tina Fey brought back her Sarah Palin impersonation on last week’s Saturday Night Live and now Palin has her revenge, starring in a 30 Rock spoof titled 31 Rock. She even got John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and 30 Rock’s Kevin Brown to appear in the fake trailer. It really is uncanny how Fey can play Palin and Palin can play Fey and you actually believe it for a few moments.

And while we’re posting SNL holiday clips, this sketch from last week made me laugh out loud (or LOL, as they say).

The Meaning of Words

My friend Ken Levine has a post on his blog about words and phrases we still use even though their use doesn’t make sense anymore. For example, people still use the phrase “don’t touch that dial!” even though your TV probably hasn’t had a dial in years.

Sometimes I wonder if younger people know what the hell people are talking about when they hear certain words and phrases. Do they know what “half-past the hour” means or even what “hands” are on an analog clock if they’re used to a digital readout on their computers and phones? I still use the word “tape” when I talk about recording a TV show, even though I now use a DVR instead of a VCR. I just can’t seem to make myself use the word “record.”

Can you think of any others? I agree with most of what he says, but I think kids do know what albums are because so many live disc jockeys still use them and so many ads still play that record album “scratchy” sound.

The Great American Novel Map

What novel is your state famous for? Check out the Great American Novel Map, a chart that lists several famous American novels and puts them inside a map of the United States so we can see it visually. This is one of those Web things that is equal parts “cool” and “irritating.” You know that people in New York are going to be upset that their favorite novel doesn’t represent their state. The same with California and Florida.

The map is incomplete. I mean, I’m from Massachusetts and could list other Massachusetts novels besides Moby Dick, but even beyond that, if you’re going to do a fun map like this and want everyone to be interested in it, wouldn’t you make sure every state is represented at least once? What, no classic novels have been set in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, the Dakotas, Montana, or Iowa?

Christmas Leftovers


You’re probably reading this on Christmas night or maybe even a day or two after Christmas. That’s okay. I know you’re busy and have things to do and places to go and things to eat. But by this time you probably have a lot of leftover turkey and you want to do something with it besides make the usual sandwich (though there’s nothing at all wrong with a good turkey sandwich). Here are a few different things you can try.

This Turkey Pumpkin Chili is probably something you never thought of making, and great for a winter’s night. Or how about a Turkey Noodle Casserole? I might make this Next Day Turkey Primavera, because I don’t make enough things with the word “primavera” in them.

Or maybe you’d like a turkey dessert? And I don’t mean a dessert that happens to be shaped like a turkey. This Thanksgiving Turkey Cake looks like a typical cake with frosting, but it’s actually made out of turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and gravy. Put it on the table next to the pumpkin pie and cookies and brownies and see if anyone freaks out.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from everyone here at The Saturday Evening Post.

Upcoming Events and Anniversaries

Radio City Music Hall opens (December 27, 1932)
There’s still time to see this year’s Radio City Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes (it ends on December 31).

President Woodrow Wilson born (December 28, 1856)
The 28th president brought back the spoken State of the Union Address in 1913. It had started as a speech in 1790 but between 1801 and 1912 it was written and delivered to Congress.

President Andrew Johnson born (December 29, 1808)
Johnson became the 17th President after President Lincoln’s assassination.

Roberto Clemente dies in plane crash (December 31, 1972)
The baseball great was on a small plane headed to Nicaragua to help with earthquake relief when the plane crashed into the water.

Ricky Nelson dies in plane crash (December 31, 1985)
The accident that killed the singer and five others was probably caused by a heater on board the plane.

New Year’s Eve (December 31)
If you’re like me and hate going out on New Year’s Eve, you can watch the ball drop in Times Square on ABC, NBC, or CBS. Or you can head on over to CNN to see how Kathy Griffin will embarrass Anderson Cooper this year.

Betty White Turns 90

Turning 90 is a wonderful thing, and being TV’s “It Girl” at age 90 is nothing short of amazing.

Those two achievements belong to none other than Betty White, whose 1995 book was appropriately called Here We Go Again. “The original idea,” Betty wrote, “was to visit the earliest days of television while I could still remember them.” White assumed, understandably, that her career was pretty much behind her—she was, after all, in her seventies.

In 2010, in an updated forward to the ’95 book, she wrote, “Who could have dreamed at the time, that, fifteen years later, I would still be hanging in there, busier than ever before?” Now at age 90, her star burns more brightly than ever before, as she appears in the hit TV show “Hot In Cleveland” and has been nominated for a Screen Actors Guild award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series. ( She was nominated for the same award for the first time in 2011, at the young age of 89—and won.)

Indeed, 2010 was a crazy year for Betty, and it began with a sassy Snickers commercial, then morphed into a Facebook campaign to make Betty the oldest guest host on “Saturday Night Live” and “somewhere in here I agree to do a guest stint on a pilot for a new series” with the stipulation that “it would be only a one-shot deal.” It starred Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves and Wendy Malick. An instant hit, there was an order for ten episodes. In spite of the agreement that she wouldn’t be involved, Betty ended up doing all ten, and then the series got picked up for twenty more episodes. “I have no business working this much at this age,” she said.

In the madcap year of 2010 she even showed up in the sitcom, “The Middle,” starring Patricia Heaton. She played a spiteful librarian who enjoyed making life hell for second-graders.

The Betty White Show, 1954

The Betty White Show, 1954

Born in Oak Park, Illinois in 1922, Betty was barely out of high school when she received her first big break—singing for an experimental LA television station. By 1953, she was starring in a series called “Life With Elizabeth” and she made regular appearances in the ’60s and ’70s on “Password,” hosted by her husband, Allen Ludden.

Her most famous roles were as the devious Sue Ann Nivens on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (1970–1977) and the hilariously ditzy Rose on “The Golden Girls” (1985-1992). But her list of credits even includes: “Mama’s Family,” “The Bold and the Beautiful,” and “Ugly Betty.”

Nabbing the popular actress isn’t enough; for some reason writers love putting her in unlikely situations—like throwing her in the slammer. They love having her say things you don’t expect to hear from a nice little old lady. The results are delightful.

Betty White and Mary Tyler Moore in a scene from "Hot in Cleveland." Photo Courtesy TV Land.
Betty White and Mary Tyler Moore in a scene from "Hot in Cleveland." Photo Courtesy TV Land.

“I’m in freaking jail here!” she yelled last year on “Hot in Cleveland.” Betty plays the widow of a Mafioso who absconds, faking his death, leaving her to take the heat for sitting on stolen loot. Oh, actually, she doesn’t technically play a widow—although “dead,” he showed up this season—played by Don Rickles, no less. In jail for a couple of hours, she starts singing “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” until her unseen cellmate tells her to knock it off. When the camera does show the snarling woman sharing the space, it’s none other than Mary Tyler Moore.

Leave it to Ms. White to make being a “senior citizen” fashionable. No doubt partly in deference to her age group, “Hot” has boasted a “Who’s Who” of guest stars, and many of them, like the beloved Moore, are older. What a treat to see Carl Reiner, Tim Conway, Orson Bean, Buck Henry, Hal Linden (“Barney Miller”) and John Mahoney (“Frasier”).

Betty White is not just about comedic timing. She’s just as famous for her passion for animals. She communes with elephants, giraffes and chimps, too, as trustee for the Los Angeles Zoo. She has tirelessly worked to raise funds for improvements to various areas of the Zoo, such as “the Red Ape Rainforest for our orangutans, followed by a great new home for our gorillas,” as she explains in her 2011 book, Betty & Friends—My Life at the Zoo.

It seems appropriate that Betty White, at the age of 90 has landed on the network “TVLand.” In spite of a wonderful film career, from “Time to Kill” in 1945 to “The Proposal” in 2009, the land of TV is where this always-delightful pioneer belongs.