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Thursday, February 28, 2013

And They Want Money For This.

Why I hate my local PBS station THIS month:

A couple of weeks ago, around 8:45 pm, I had to take my wife to the Emergency Room.
It turned out to be nothing serious. She was just feeling faint, and she's all right now.
The ER was just a couple of miles from my house.
There was a TV in the waiting room.
I asked the receptionist if I could have the remote to change the channel, so I could put on Rachel Maddow.
I couldn't find Rachel Maddow, but I did find a special on PBS: "Live From Lincoln
Center---"Ring Them Bells", a salute to Kander and Ebb"
You know. The guys who wrote "Cabaret" and "Chicago"
Great songwriters. It was hosted by Audra McDonald.
I started watching the first ten minutes, it was wonderful, and the usual questions entered my head.
This was NOT the same PBS station as I get in my house.
I have my Tivo set to get every episode of "Live From Lincoln Center", but as usual, I had no idea whether MY PBS station, the biggest one in the Detroit area, was showing it.
I hadn't checked ahead before leaving the house.
My wife was released, and we left, with my thinking that it was at least likely that the first ten minutes was all I was going to see.
We get home, and sure enough, MY PBS station is NOT showing Kander and Ebb.
They are showing a rerun of "The Spirit of St. Louis".
The biopic of Charles Lindbergh, with Jimmy Stewart.
You know.
The one that shows up on Turner Classic Movies at the drop of a hat.
'Cause they didn't want to spring for the dough for Kander and Ebb.
So once again, I was screwed.
And it wasn't scheduled for any other time.
But there seemed to be a silver lining.
I checked the Tivo guide, and right after "Spirit of St. Louis", there was an hour long Carl Reiner-Mel Brooks special about the inventing of the 2000 year-old man.
I knew that I had not seen this special, so this was somewhat of a sop.
I set the Tivo for that.
The next day, I attempt to watch the 2000 Year-Old Man special.
The first twenty-five minutes were taken up by the last twenty-five minutes of
"The Spirit of St. Louis"
So guess what I didn't have the last twenty-five minutes of?

Last week, my friend and great blogster Mark Evanier wrote about what looked like a great documentary called "Troupers".
It was about actors in their 80's who still have thriving careers.
It was airing on the local PBS station in Los Angeles.
Guess where it didn't and won't be airing?

They're going to get another earful from me during pledge week.


My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel,"Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not
e-books. But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one. If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at

And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne & Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.



  1. I agree with your frustration. Here in LA/OC/Inland Empire market our three PBS stations either show the same crap over and over and over again, or retirement/investment/what ever health issue or diet is the fad of the moment shows that only show up when they want money. I can only guess that they don't get good numbers, but the people who watch them pony up money for the over priced books and DVDs. I do have one correction to add to your post; KCET is no longer a PBS station. They decided that they could still operate as a member supported station without PBS programming a couple of years ago.They had to sell their studio and don't have any marque shows any more, but they are still hanging on. Troopers was shown on one of their local documentary programs.

  2. Greetings from Chicago, home of three (3) PBS stations whose scheduling practices can best be characterized as ...
    ... capricious?
    ... haphazard?
    ... idiosycratic?
    ... or maybe just STONE STICK STOOPID?

    The thing you have to remember here is that the Public Broadcasting Service is not really a television network, at least not in the sense that you and I grew up understanding the term.

    PBS is actually a loose (very loose) confederation of what used to be called "educational television" stations all over the country.
    The oldest established of these ststions all started out as completely independent operations; they either created and produced their own programming, or exchanged it with other stations in other cities, usually for "barter".
    When you operate this way, with no real national organization in back of you, the idea of "independence" takes on a particular meaning: "Nobody tells us what to do - or when to do it."

    Over the years, Channel 11 (the main PBS station in Chicago) is where we get the marquee shows, but not always at the time or day that the national ads say.
    Channel 20 carries mostly instuctional shows in the daytime, and a hodgepodge of imported British comedies and mysteries (mostly not on the regular PBS menu) at night.
    Channel 56 is sorta like ch20, with fewer Brit shows and more public domain movies.
    And ALL THREE STATIONS will scrap the regular schedule at any time for marathonns of Beg Week Specials of the sort you wrote about here some time back - the ones that were produced some years ago, featuring stars who have since passed on , coming back from the Afterlife to urge us all to give to this ststion or that and help keep their ghosts employed.

    That's the Chicago situation - and it's ben in effect for as long as PBS has been in existence.
    And from what I've read it's far from unique to our own cities.

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About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."