News of the Week: Summer Olympics, Stephen Colbert, and Sackings on Sesame Street

Keep Your Mouth Shut

There are many things I simply refuse to care about — who Taylor Swift is dating, the latest Snapchat features, the fact that I can get a great price on English muffins if I buy nine packages of them are on sale at the supermarket. And I guess I’d have to add to that list the Olympics. Sorry! I just can’t get into them, and even if I did, the coverage is all over the place and often hard to follow. I’m afraid the only reason I would watch them this year is to see which swimmers, sailors, and windsurfers get sick from the water because they didn’t keep their mouths closed.

But hey, if you like the Olympics, I can keep my mouth shut. The opening ceremonies are tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC. Over the next two weeks you’ll be able to watch events on other NBC stations as well, including USA, CNBC, Bravo, and NBC Sports Network.

Stephen Colbert Cant Be Stephen Colbert Anymore

Here’s my problem with The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: I don’t think Colbert knows how to host the show.

This is what I mean. I still think he’s having a problem separating himself from the “Stephen Colbert” persona he had for so many years on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report. You can hear it in his cadence and tone and delivery and see it in his body language and arched eyebrow. He’s still doing that ironic character even as he sits there as the real Colbert. He does a lot of political humor at his desk, and you really can’t differentiate the real Colbert from the old “Colbert.”

A new executive producer took over a few months ago, and it looks like they want to make it more Colbert Report-ish. But I don’t know if that’s what an 11:35 p.m. CBS show should be. If they want to do The Colbert Report, they should just jump in and do it 100 percent. I don’t think that’s a good idea, but at least it’s an idea. Either that or do a regular talk show. I never had a problem figuring out the “real” David Letterman or Jimmy Fallon or Jimmy Kimmel or Seth Meyers, and I’d really like to see Colbert give us the real Colbert.

When he left Comedy Central, I even suggested he stop using the fake name Colbert (with a silent “t”) and go back to his real name, Colbert (with a hard “t”), to really get away from the old character, but I guess that’s never going to happen.

This week lawyers told Colbert and CBS that he could no longer use the “Stephen Colbert” character or certain bits he used to use on Comedy Central because they’re the intellectual property of that network. Colbert had brought back the character while doing live episodes during the Republican and Democratic conventions.

I think that Stephen Colbert not being able to be “Stephen Colbert” any longer is a great thing, even if Colbert doesn’t know that. But Colbert has already gotten around the legal maneuver with a fancy maneuver of his own. He’s now portraying “Stephen Colbert’s” identical cousin “Stephen Colbert” (They’re cousins! Identical cousins!), and instead of the regular segment “The Word,” he’ll be doing “The Werd.”

I still think it’s a mistake. I don’t want The Late Show to become The Colbert Report, even if I did like The Colbert Report.

Jon Stewarts New HBO Show

There’s news about “Colbert’s” former Comedy Central cohort, too. At the Television Critics Association tour, HBO announced what exactly Jon Stewart’s new show will be about. Not surprisingly, it’s about the news, but this one will be animated.

The new show doesn’t have a title, but it will be a parody of cable news. The HBO show will probably be seen weekly, and Stewart is also producing additional video for the show that can only be seen on the show’s website. The plan is to have it out before Election Day this November. It must be killing Stewart not to have been able to comment on this election on a regular basis.

As far as we know, attorneys will allow Stewart to use his own name on the new show.

You Might as Well Jump (Jump!)

I watched this live on Fox last weekend. At first I thought it was going to be one of those TV specials that was one hour of build-up that leads up to three minutes of nothing, but this lived up to the hype. Skydiver Luke Aikins jumping out of an airplane and landing in a net. It’s just crazy:

Guinness confirms that Aikins set a new world record for the highest skydive without a parachute: 25,000 feet.


Alas, not all live stunts went as smoothly this week. This happened on NBC’s Americas Got Talent. Don’t worry, he’s okay:

RIP Gloria DeHaven and David Huddleston

The actress and singer starred in several musicals and dramas, including Thousands Cheer, Three Little Words, Summer Stock, Two Girls and a Sailor, Summer Holiday, and Step Lively. She actually made her screen debut in Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times. She later had regular roles on Nakia and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, and appeared on Touched by an Angel, The Love Boat, Ryans Hope, Falcon Crest, Police Story, Mannix, Gunsmoke, three episodes of Murder, She Wrote, and many other shows.

DeHaven died on Saturday in Las Vegas after suffering a stroke three months ago. She was 91.

David Huddleston passed away this week, too. He was the man who played The Big Lebowski, but he was in many other movies, including Blazing Saddles, Santa Claus: The Movie, Capricorn One, and Rio Lobo, as well as a ton of TV shows like The West Wing, Magnum, P.I., Bewitched, The Waltons, Bonanza, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Rockford Files, Gilmore Girls, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. And that’s just a partial list.

Huddleston died Tuesday of heart and kidney disease in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He was 85.

Can You Tell Me How to Get, How to Get to the Unemployment Office?

I learned so much from Sesame Street, which is probably why I eat too many cookies and live in a garbage can. We found out this week that three veteran members of the show, Bob McGrath, Emilio Delgado, and Roscoe Orman, have been let go. McGrath has been on the show since it debuted in 1969. Now there’s only one original member left, Loretta Long.

But wait! Yesterday, word came that maybe the three stars won’t be leaving the show after all. In a statement posted on Facebook, Sesame Workshop CEO Jeff Dunn said this:

Of course, it’s still not clear if the three will be seen as much as they used to be, but it’s good to see that the show intends to keep them on in some way.

National Root Beer Float Day

Tomorrow is National Root Beer Float Day. I love root beer but haven’t had a root beer float since I was a kid and I’d get one while picking up the latest Superman comics. Here’s a recipe from Rachael Ray. The ingredients are pretty simple: just root beer and vanilla ice cream. You can also try some of the variations, which use grape soda, lemon-lime soda, and ginger ale.

If you’re not a fan of beer in the root variety, you can wait a day and celebrate International Beer Day, which is Sunday.

Upcoming Events and Anniversaries

Nagasaki bombed (August 9, 1945)

This was the second atomic bomb dropped by the U.S. on Japan. The first came three days earlier at Hiroshima.

President Nixon resigns (August 9, 1974)

Here’s an interesting letter from Nixon that The Saturday Evening Post published in the fall of 1972, where he says how happy he is that there is a full record — even tape! — of his administration.

Son of Sam arrested (August 10, 1977)

Here’s Time on how the New York serial killer was caught.

Riots begin in Watts area of L.A. (August 11, 1965)

The week-long series of arson and looting incidents started when a black motorist was arrested for drunk driving.

Cecil B. DeMille born (August 12, 1881)

Here’s a site devoted to the massive set that the director built for his 1923 silent film, The Ten Commandments. The set was buried after filming but unearthed in 1983.

News of the Week: Black Friday, Cyber Sunday, and National French Toast Day

Black Friday and Cyber … Sunday??

Online shopper
(Hurst Photo/Shutterstock)

Hopefully you’re reading this in the comfort of your home and not on your smartphone, in line at the mall because there’s a really great deal on a toaster today.

It’s Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when people line up for hours before the mall opens, and then proceed to run over each other to get to something great before someone else gets to it. It’s an annual tradition. It’s such a tradition that more and more stores are now opening on Thanksgiving , for people who just can’t stand being with their families for another hour. But I am happy to see that some stores decided, “You know what? Thanksgiving is for visits with family and friends and eating pecan pie and not going to the mall.”

Besides, it’s 2015, and you can get deals online every day of the year, and you don’t have to worry about anyone punching you to click on a sale first (well, I don’t know who you live with, but I assume they won’t do that). And for online shopping we have Cyber Monday, three days after Black Friday when online sales go through the roof.

Wait, did I say Cyber Monday? Silly me, I meant Cyber Sunday!

RIP, Jim Perry

Remember when game shows ruled the networks? Most of them were replaced by talk shows where people yell at each other, nine hours of Today, and soap operas (and even the number of soap operas has dropped dramatically, another sad development). Now we just have a couple of game shows on in the daytime, CBS’s Let’s Make a Deal and The Price Is Right. One of the best hosts was the likable and funny Jim Perry. He hosted several game shows over the years and is probably best known for Card Sharks and Sale of the Century. Perry passed away from cancer at his home in Oregon at the age of 82.

On a related note, there’s a new game show network that’s not The Game Show Network. It’s called Buzzr. I found it by accident the other night while surfing the upper channel numbers of my cable system. They show a lot of older game shows, from black-and-white classics like What’s My Line? and I’ve Got a Secret to shows from the ’70s and ’80s like Double Dare (hosted by Alex Trebek) and the aforementioned Sale of the Century.

You’re So Vain, You Probably Think This Section About “You’re So Vain” Is About You

For years, one of the biggest pop culture questions has been whom Carly Simon’s song “You’re So Vain” is about. Turns out it’s about whom everyone thought it was about: Warren Beatty.

Simon herself has revealed that some of the song, though not all, is about Beatty, though other parts of the song are about other men she has known. People that other sections of the song might be about include Mick Jagger, Kris Kristofferson, and former Vice President Spiro Agnew.

Okay, I made that last one up.

Dorothy’s Dress

The blue-and-white dress that Judy Garland wore in the classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz went for $1.5 million at an auction put on by Bonhams and Turner Classic Movies. Ten dresses were made for the film but most were rejected, and this dress is rumored to be one of the very few that still exist.

But wait: Is the dress actually blue and white? Let’s start a new controversy!

The Way Americans Used to Talk

You ever watch movies from the ’30s and ’40s and realize that people are talking in a way you’ve never heard before? It’s not British, exactly, it’s sort of a British-fied American accent. It’s called the Mid-Atlantic (or Transatlantic) accent and BrainStuff has a fun video that explains where exactly it came from and why people don’t talk that way anymore:

Robot Pets: The Perfect Gift!

I feel bad about making fun of this product, but not bad enough to not make fun of it.

Have you ever thought that it would be great for your grandparent to have a pet, but you’re not sure if it’s a good idea to buy them a real one? Now there’s a solution: Buy them a fake one! It’s the Joy For All Companion Pet from Hasbro!

It’s a fake cat that moves a little bit and purrs. The more you scratch or rub it the more it does. It’s just like a real cat, except for … well, all the ways that it’s not a real cat. It’s $99.99 and is supposed to give “comfort, companionship, and joy,” but I’m not convinced that it’s really for anyone except a certain small group of people. It seems more like a novelty gift than a replacement for a real cat. The upside? No hairs all over the place and no litter box to deal with.

I’m not sure why you wouldn’t just buy a stuffed animal for the senior citizen in your life. They’re cheaper and they don’t have that disturbing “some day we’re going take over the world” vibe.

Robot pets. A great way to say to your grandparents, “We love you but we don’t really trust you.”

Updates: Christopher Kimball and Stephen Colbert

Last week I told you that Christopher Kimball had left Boston Common Press and would no longer host the PBS cooking shows America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country. This week we found out that Kimball will be staying on as host of the companion podcast for America’s Test Kitchen. This is terrific news. You can’t see his bow tie when you’re listening to the podcast, but you can imagine it.

Also last week we had video of Stephen Colbert’s interview with Bill Maher on The Late Show. The show has fallen to third place in not only overall ratings but also in key demos, with The Tonight Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live in first and second place. Is it because Colbert is too liberal and alienating half of the country?

Saturday Is National French Toast Day

French toast
SunnySideUp / Shutterstock

Did you see Clash of the Grandmas last weekend? It’s a new entry in the seemingly endless supply of cooking competition shows on Food Network, though thankfully not a weekly show but a one-time holiday special. But this one was actually good, with a group of grandmas competing against each other to see who could make the best Thanksgiving dishes for a $10,000 prize. The winner, Anne, was really funny and said whatever was on her mind (her grandkids even sent a special video to her during the show, wishing her luck and telling her not to say anything she’ll regret later) and should probably have her own show on the channel. Somehow she won without having made a pie in her life and not having eaten pumpkin in over 50 years.

One of the other ladies made a bread pudding, but instead of using a plain bread she used cinnamon raisin toast. That’s a great idea, because the spices are already inside and probably gave the dish more depth. Now tomorrow is National French Toast Day, and I don’t see any reason why you can’t use this tactic for French toast too (we used to use Anadama bread when I worked at a restaurant several years ago). I found a recipe for Cinnamon Raisin Swirl French Toast at The Comfort of Cooking.

And by sheer coincidence, it’s also National Raisin Bread Month. So it’s like the stars have aligned, and you have to make it this way.

Upcoming Events and Anniversaries

50th Anniversary special for A Charlie Brown Christmas (November 30)

ABC will air a one-hour special at 8 p.m. on the 50th anniversary of the Christmas classic, followed by the special itself.

Mark Twain born (November 30, 1835)

Read some memories of Twain in the Post archives.

Winston Churchill born (November 30, 1874)

The Saturday Evening Post Archives Director Jeff Nilsson writes about Britain’s entry into World War II and three simple words: “Winston is back.”

Henry Ford introduces first car assembly line (December 1, 1913)

Neon sign
Sorbis / Shutterstock

Why did Ford double his minimum wage in 1914?

Neon lighting makes public debut (December 3, 1910)

The technology we now see everywhere was introduced at the Paris Motor Show.

The end of Prohibition (December 5, 1933)

Grab a drink, and read Dorothy Parker’s classic short story “As the Spirit Moves,” originally published in The Saturday Evening Post.

News of the Week: Stephen Colbert, Stonehenge, and the Spud Shake

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Actor George Clooney chats with Stephen on the premiere of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Sept. 8, 2015.  (JEFFREY R. STAAB/CBS)
Actor George Clooney chats with Stephen on the premiere of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Sept. 8, 2015.

Only three episodes of Stephen Colbert’s new talk show have aired, so it’s way too early to give a review. Since the show will probably look remarkably different six months from now, it seems unfair to judge a show like this so early. But I can say that while Colbert fans were probably happy to see a lot of his Comedy Central antics make it over to CBS, I’m sure there were a lot of people watching who weren’t familiar with Colbert’s Comedy Central persona and wondered what the hell was going on. Here are the latest episodes.

I like the show so far, don’t love it (boy, did that part with the evil ancient amulet and the Sabra hummus drag on), but as I said we have to give it time. I do wish we saw more of the real Stephen Colbert though. Sure, he’s not wearing his conservative news guy persona anymore, but he’s still playing sort of a character. When he was downing that bag of Oreos while showing news clips of Donald Trump, that was a character he was playing. In those moments it’s like The Colbert Report all over again, and while that was obviously great on the old show, I want to see him play it 100 percent straight. I want to see Stephen Colbert, not “Stephen Colbert.” I want to see, well, a traditional talk show. Right now it’s an odd mix, and I’m not sure Colbert knows who he wants to be.

Whenever a new TV show/film/album/news event happens, publications take the opportunity to do a list to tie into it. Everybody loves lists! But if you needed anymore proof that lists are really overdone now (when everyone is doing a list, then no list can be the authority), take a look at Vulture’s list of the 32 Greatest Talk Show Hosts Ever. Actually, don’t. I can save you the trouble. It will only irritate you. Why? Not only did they put Howard Stern at #1, they didn’t list Steve Allen at all.

That’s like listing the 32 greatest baseball players ever and not including Babe Ruth.

Allen pretty much invented late night television and would be in the top 5 of any normal list. I guess that’s what you get when you have people of a certain age and/or mindset do a pop culture overview. Though oddly they did list Jack Paar.

Stonehenge II

They’ve found a second Stonehenge, just two miles away from the original Stonehenge. Now, you’re probably wondering, how could they miss another Stonehenge that was so close, and after so many years?

Turns out it’s underground. Researchers from the University of Bradford used remote sensor technology to discover 100 stones that make up a monument, near Durrington Walls, under a bank. They think it was built around 4,500 years ago, while Stonehenge was created 3,500 years ago. It’s a major discovery.

They’re calling it “archaeology on steroids.” Oh, sure, it’s fine for archaeologists to use steroids but not baseball players?

RIP, Martin Milner and Judy Carne

Last Sunday night, for some random reason, I was wondering what Adam-12 and Route 66 star Martin Milner was still alive. I found out online that he was, but then came the news the next morning that he had passed away on Sunday. He was 83.

The Los Angeles Police Department tweeted a tribute to Milner and his Adam-12 character, Pete Malloy:

Judy Carne will probably be best remembered as the “Sock it to me!” girl on the wild ’60s variety show Laugh-In. She passed away in Northamptonshire, England, at the age of 76. She was once married to Burt Reynolds.

Milner and Carne weren’t the only celebrities who passed away this month. We also lost actor Dean Jones, Our Gang child actress Jean Darling, and Warren Murphy, creator of The Destroyer (Remo Williams) series and screenwriter of movies like The Eiger Sanction.

It’s Not the Heat, it’s the Humidity … Actually It’s Both

Last year at this time I remember mentioning the tennis players that were dropping out of the U.S. Open because of the humidity and cramping. And it was only a few people. This year’s tournament, currently going on in Flushing Meadow, New York, has seen over a dozen people withdrawing. During some day matches the on-court temperatures can reach 140 degrees! American Jack Sock was so wiped out that he actually had to be helped off the court. And he was ahead in the match.

Eugenie Bouchard, the 25th seed, withdrew because of an injury, but not one she suffered on court. The Canadian fell in the locker room and got a concussion after hitting her head.

September Is National Potato Month


Do you take vegetables for granted? If you do, it’s probably the potato. It’s always there, in its many forms, and while we deeply love it, we take it for granted. Most potatoes aren’t colorful, and they’re certainly not as hip as kale. But name another vegetable that’s as versatile as the potato. Seriously, name one. Think about it and come back to this column in a few hours.

Hello again. Hope you spent the past few hours wisely. Now let’s get to some potato recipes. Country Living has 18 simple ideas for cooking potatoes. Allrecipes has some great potato side dishes. And since it seems like the heat and humidity is never going away, how about you make a Spud Shake? It’s a refreshing milkshake made from (yes) potatoes.

Notice I said you make, because it’s certainly not something I’m going to try.

Upcoming Events and Anniversaries

Luna 2 crashes into moon (September 14, 1959)
The Soviet space probe was the first object from Earth to reach another celestial body, and it concerned the U.S. so much that we ramped up our own space program.

Grace Kelly dies (September 14, 1982)
Here is the last interview with the movie star and Princess of Monaco, two months before her death.

First photocopier debuts (September 16, 1959)
It was called the Xerox 914, and its debut aired on live television.

The Battle of Antietam (September 17, 1862)
The Saturday Evening Post has been around so long that we had a report from the battle in our September 27, 1862 issue.

The first space shuttle Enterprise debuts (September 17, 1976)
And who was there to mark the occasion? The cast of Star Trek, of course.

President Garfield dies (September 19, 1881)
The 20th President of the United States died from infection and blood poisoning after being shot by Charles Guiteau on July 2. Some historians believe the president would have lived if doctors had treated him better.