Wednesday, March 25, 2015

RIP, "Dr. George" Fischbeck, L.A.'s Colorful Weatherman

Dr. George
Dr. George

Rough year for local L.A. TV legends. First KTLA's Stan Chambers passed away, and now famed weatherman "Dr. George" Fischbeck, seen on KABC-Channel 7 for years, has died at 92.
Dr. George was such a household name in Southern California that, as you see above, by 1987 KABC wasn't even including his last name in his identification. In 2008, the L.A. Times caught up with Fischbeck, and he was still going strong as a docent at the L.A. Zoo and in other volunteer work. (Read it here.)

More from the L.A. Times:

George Fischbeck, a science teacher turned weatherman who joined KABC-TV in 1972 and spent nearly two decades exuberantly delivering the local forecast, has died. He was 92.

Fischbeck, who was known as "Dr. George," died of natural causes early Wednesday morning at the Motion Picture & Television Fund retirement home in Woodland Hills, his daughter, Nancy Fischbeck, said.

A trained meteorologist, George Fischbeck was so enthusiastic about his subject that he sometimes forgot to talk about the next day's weather.

"I must begin with an apology," Fischbeck said on a 1978 broadcast. "Last Friday we got carried away again and we got everything in but the forecast."

When the rare inclement weather threatened Los Angeles, his newscast's ratings went up as viewers tuned in to see a seemingly real-life Mr. Wizard — complete with thick black-rimmed glasses, animated mustache and signature bow tie — race around the set.

Some people considered Fischbeck's weathercasts "madcap performances," according to a 1978 Times profile with the headline "Blue Skies for Dr. George." The "doctor" referred to an honorary degree from the University of Albuquerque.

"I'm Channel 7's father image," Fischbeck said in 1978 while insisting that he was not its comedian because he refused to do jokes. "I am not a phony. I am not manufactured or contrived."

He did, however, once call attention to the beginning of March by hauling a lion and a lamb into the TV studio.

The cult of personality that prevailed on local television in the 1970s "seemed to have reached a zenith" at KABC by 1979 when Fischbeck began receiving even wider play on the local news to exploit his huge following, former TV columnist Howard Rosenberg wrote in The Times.

In a 1981 report, People magazine compared Fischbeck to "a caged lion" who "stalks the weather map, prowls the sound stage ... and explodes into a frenzy of animation while delivering his forecasts. He candidly admits that cameramen should get hazard pay for trying to keep up with him."

Watch a Fischbeck weathercast here:

And check out this five-part feature from Dr. George and KABC on how the TV news is made:

Monday, March 23, 2015

From the Archives of TV Guide Magazine: The 1995 Launch of "The Late Late Show"

James Corden

For TV Guide Magazine I recently spoke with James Corden, the new host of CBS' "The Late Late Show." We had a fun chat in his Television City office, and of course, his charm offensive worked beautifully. Self-effacing, quick-witted and a seemingly nice bloke, you can't help but root for the guy. Read my Q&A with him at TV Insider here.

Meanwhile, from the pages of TV Guide Magazine, here's how we covered the January 9, 1995 launch of the original "The Late Late Show," hosted by Tom Snyder:

Late Late Show

Late Late Show

MIKE ON KCRW: Interviewing Author Michael Connelly for "The Business"

Michael Connelly

On last week's episode of KCRW's The Business, I interviewed author Michael Connelly, whose book series about L.A. homicide detective Harry Bosch has been turned into the Amazon series "Bosch." Amazon just ordered season 2:
Detective Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch first started solving crimes for the LAPD Hollywood Division in the 1992 novel The Black Echo.

Twenty three years later, author Michael Connelly is still dispatching Bosch to LA's darkest corners. He's working on his 18th Harry Bosch novel as we speak.

In all that time, there's never been a Bosch movie. Connelly sold the rights to Paramount in 1995, and while several scripts were written, the film ultimately never got made.

Two other Connelly novels, Blood Work and The Lincoln Lawyer, were made into movies, but Connelly didn't have much involvement with those adaptations.

But now, Connelly has his rights back and the detective finally has his on-screen debut with the new Amazon series Bosch. The show draws on storylines from three of the novels in the series and has the busy, tormented detective tracking down a serial killer while dealing with a lawsuit against him for killing a suspect in another case.

Connelly is very involved with the show. He's an executive producer who's hands-on and on set. He was even the one who suggested Titus Welliver play the title role. Connelly sat down with TV Guide's Michael Schneider, host of KCRW's The Spin-off, to talk about how his most famous character finally found a home at Amazon, the blessing and curse of not knowing ratings, and the awkward moment of making a show with a company that is also feuding with your book publisher.

Listen by clicking below!


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Scenes from Austin and SXSW: Kwik-E-Mart, Roaming Squirrels, "Angie Tribeca," Reggie Watts, "Community" and BBQ

Another year at SXSW! It was a quick trip, and this year my main focus was moderating a panel for the premiere of TBS' quirky new comedy "Angie Tribeca," plus attending a celebration for the launch of "Community" on Yahoo. But the other exciting element: Maria and I took our first trip sans kids since the days pre-kids. Above, on our way to Austin, via the Long Beach Airport. ("Are we really doing this? We're doing this!")

Mobile Kwik-E-Mart, in honor of The Simpsons' convenience store's 25th anniversary. We tried a Squishy -- "sweet" is an understatement. "Coma-inducing," maybe better. Details:
This weekend, the first ever “Kwik-E-Truck” was unveiled during SXSW Interactive to celebrate the Kwik-E-Mart’s inaugural appearance on THE SIMPSONS 25 years ago. Throughout the weekend, the “Kwik-E-Truck” served over 3,400 free iconic Kwik-E-Mart Squishees to hot festival goers at a rate of 2.6 Squishees per minute! With flavors including SO VERY CHERRY and GIVE ‘EM THE RAZZ, people were seen carrying the must-have frozen beverage all throughout Austin.

In addition to Squishees, the truck offered branded iPads with the all-new “Simpsons World” digital platform featuring every THE SIMPSONS episode ever, a sneak peek at THE SIMPSONS Kwik-E-Mart LEGO® set, interactive photo experiences and more. The #KwikETruck hashtag was trending in Austin throughout the weekend as fans waited in the baking Texas heat to get their very own taste of Springfield!

El Barto's tag on the Kwik_E-Mart truck.

With Squishy in hand, Maria gives Apu his voice.

The much-anticipated Lego Kwik-E-Mart (retail $199) on display.

Inside the Lego Kwik-E-Mart.

Overhead view of the Lego Kwik-E-Mart.

With Cookie Monster at PBS' lounge at the Austin Convention Center

I moderated a panel for TBS' "Angie Tribeca"; here I am with stars Rashida Jones and Hayes MacArthur.

These squirrels are definitely Keeping Austin Weird.

BBQ sauce at Lambert's. Sad story. I've been dreaming about Lambert's sliced brisket sandwich since last year. I'd been talking up the sandwich for days with Maria. I couldn't wait for her to try what I'd been thinking about all year. We got to Lambert's... and it wasn't on the menu. Devastated. It took me hours to get out of a funk after that. Luckily, had a delicious sliced brisket sandwich from Black's BBQ later that evening.

Instead, I had the chopped brisket sandwich. Which just wasn't the same. You broke my heart, Lambert's!

An elaborate re-creation of Bates Motel, complete with working plumbing!

The Bates Motel shower works! Don't mind the blood stain.

Oh, why not, let's check in.

The Hootsuite Owl, also making Austin weird.

Reggie Watts, of "Comedy! Bang! Bang!" fame, and now the bandleader for "The Late Late Show with James Corden," performs at a party for Jash.

Outside Austin's Driskell Hotel.

Austin's downtown streets start to fill up.

The Texas capitol building

This stuffed wolf looks lost.

At the premiere party for "Community" at the Yahoo! space.

On the convention floor. Not sure what a "Talkable Vegetable" does.

Dinosaur podcast!

Dan Harmon moderates a "Community" panel with Joel McHale, Alison Brie and Gillian Jacobs.

The entire cast joins in (except Danny Pudi).

I imagine the cabs of Austin have to enforce the $100 policy quite a bit on the weekends. Yuck.

One final taste of BBQ, at the airport outpost of The Salt Lick. Until next time, Austin!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

February Los Angeles Radio Ratings: With No Big Boy at Power 106, Rivals See Gains

Power 106 is feeling the effects of losing Big Boy: In the February 2015 ratings book, among adults 18-34 KPWR-FM dropped from 2nd place (in January, with a 6.2 share) to 5th place (in February, with a 5.0 share) during morning drive, according to Nielsen Audio ratings.

That's the lowest Power's morning drive has ranked in its key demo for perhaps years. Big Boy, of course, exited Power last month and is now expected to show up shortly on the new "Real 92.3." Power owner Emmis is suing Big Boy, claiming it had a right to match a rival's offer, but that the personality refused.

The Big Boy void was good for both of L.A.'s top 40 stations, KIIS-FM and KAMP "Amp Radio." Ryan Seacrest on KIIS skyrocketed in the 18-34 demo, moving from a 7.7 share to a 9.0 share (first place). And Amp's Carson Daly jumped from a 3.8 to a 5.7 (second place). That could very well be Carson Daly's best-ever ranking in the young adult demo.

Across town, the changes at KROQ's Kevin & Bean (Lisa May and Doc on the Roq exits) didn't have much of an impact on ratings. The show was up in total viewers, adults 18-34 and adults 25-54.

At KSWD "The Sound," the arrival of Mark Thompson (formerly of Mark & Brian) in the mornings attracted more overall listeners, giving the station its best morning share in perhaps ever (4.0) among listeners 12+. But the station's 18-34 share dropped, which means most new listeners were on the older side.

In morning drive, here are the top shows among listeners 12+:

1. KRTH "K-Earth" (4.9 share)
2. KIIS (4.8)
TIE. KLVE (4.8)
4. KFI (4.6)
5. KNX (4.0)
TIE. KSWD "The Sound" (4.0)
7. KROQ (3.9)
TIE. KBIG "My FM" (3.9)
9. KOST (3.8)
10. KAMP "Amp Radio" (3.6)


1. KIIS (9.0)
2. KROQ (5.2)
3. KLVE (5.2)
4. KBIG (4.0)
TIE. KOST (4.0)

In full-day ratings, sorry Art Laboe fans. IHeartMedia's flip of old school "Hot 92.3" (KHHT) to hip-hop "Real 92.3" (KRRL) seems to be working out. The new format is up big time in persons 18-34 (1.9 share to 3.2 share) and was steady in other demos.

The impact of Big Boy leaving KPWR seems to have also benefited KIIS -- which has its best 18-34 share (7.9) since last April, and KAMP, which also has its best 18-34 share (6.1) in at least a year.

Here are the top stations among listeners 12+:

1. KRTH (5.2 share)
TIE. KOST (5.2)
3. KIIS (5.0)
4. KBIG (4.9)
5. KAMP "Amp Radio" (4.0)
6. KLVE (3.9)
7. KSWD "The Sound" (3.8)
TIE. KCBS "Jack FM" (3.8)
9. KFI (3.5)
TIE. KPWR "Power 106" (3.5)


1. KIIS (5.4)
2. KOST (5.3)
3. KBIG "My FM" (5.2)
4. KRTH "K-Earth" (4.7)
5. KCBS "Jack FM" (4.6)
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