E! Entertainment Television

Cable network devoted to round-the-clock entertainment coverage, often determined by the promotional agendas of its subjects. E! was originally founded in 1987 as “Movietime,” a channel sinking under heavy rotation movie trailers and stale infotainment segments; in 1989, the network was sold to a cooperative including HBO, Warner Communications, and United Artists (Disney/ABC and cable operator Comcast bought majority control in January, 1997).

Lee Masters, creator of such MTV successes as Remote Control and The Week in Rock, was appointed to mastermind the restructuring of the network; his dedication included frequent donning of a mohawk wig shaped like the E! logo.

The channel relaunched in 1990, rolling out new long-form programming, much of it produced on the cheap, including the talk-show round-up Talk Soup and a video syndication of print columnists calledThe Gossip Show. E!’s big draws are its televised version of Howard Stern’s radio show, and its reruns of… Continue reading

Dinah Shore Golf Classic

From the Dinah Shore Golf Classic webpage

Palm Springs golf tournament named after the late talk-show host (and former paramour of supermacho actor Burt Reynolds) that occasions the “biggest lesbian party of the year.”

Every March thousands of gay women converge on the town for a series of dances and balls loosely associated with the Nabisco-sponsored event.

Palm Springs itself is something of a gay tourist mecca: in the official visitors’ guide, the Greek letter lambda identifies dozens of gay accommodations in the town.

Number of View :1272

Court TV

Legal-eagle cable TV channel that melds the American appetite for judicial drama, celebrity spectacle, and remote-control democracy. Court TV was formed in 1991 by Steven Brill (b. 1950), a former journalist and founder of American Lawyer magazine.

Brill ignored focus group recommendations that a network devoted to live court coverage would fail, but a spate of sensational trials in the network’s early years confounded naysayers, as millions of armchair barristers ingested this meatier variety of daytime drama, following with intense scrutiny the legal theater of Rodney King, the Menendez Brothers, Lorena Bobbitt, Jeffrey Dahmer, and of course, O.J. Simpson.

The latter provided the largest audiences (136,000 homes) and, later, a new host in defense lawyer Johnnie Cochran.     While some legal commentators have criticized Court TV for highlighting tabloid subjects, the network insists that only a small percentage is devoted to the splashy stuff.

Available in 32… Continue reading

Children’s Television Act of 1990

Law passed by a Democratic Congress attempting to reverse Reagan-era deregulation; the Act ordered the FCC to require educational programming for children as part of the public-service component of all TV station licenses.

Gray areas remained–within weeks of the law’s passage the Bush-appointed FCC ruled that toy-based shows such as G.I. Joe, Smurfs, and Thundercats did not constitute “program-length commercials” that would run afoul of the CTA’s limit on twelve minutes of advertising per hour of children’s programming.

In 1993 the Clinton FCC tried to stiffen the law’s enforcement of the law after advocacy groups caught local stations claiming, in an echo of the ’80s “ketchup-is-a-vegetable” school lunch argument, that reruns of The Jetsons teach children about life in the 21st Century.

When the CTA’s authority continued to languish in 1996, however, still more explicit regulations were put in place: licensed broadcasters in 1997 would have to air at least… Continue reading

The ’60s, baby boomers

American citizens born in the post-World War II baby boom, usually defined as 1946-60. Having largely invented youth culture as we know it in the ’60s, baby boomers are now characterized by an inability to relinquish their grip on it-thus their tendency to institutionalize the culture of their youth, as in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The peak of the boomers’ power as culture makers came in the ’80s, when their middle-aged economic clout made them an attractive audience  films like The Big Chill (1983) and TV series like The Wonder Years (1988) and thirtysomething (1987) profitably echoed the clash of nostalgia with their adult concerns.

The baby boomers’ idyll was brought to an abrupt halt with the advent of so-called Generation X. It was supposedly an article of faith among this new group to hate boomers for their economically cushioned passage through youth and their insistence… Continue reading