Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Decade in Los Angeles: One in a Series

Next week I'll hit ten years in Los Angeles. Ten years. I'm an Air Force brat, and had never lived any place in my life more than five years. Not only have I lived the longest in L.A., I've spent twice as much time here as any place else. And now I've got roots here -- wife, home, child. I'm an Angeleno.

I moved here right after Memorial Day, 1996. I was 22, barely out of college, and headed to L.A. to cover the network TV beat for a trade magazine. My first day on the job, I was already covering a WB affiliates meeting. This was pre-"Dawson's Creek," pre-"Buffy," pre="Felicity" WB. Its biggest claim to fame at that point was schlocky comedies like "Unhappily Ever After" -- and the soap opera "Savannah." And the big news at the meeting? Steve Harvey, still bitter over the cancelation of his short-lived ABC comedy, was coming to the Frog network. The network also had some peculiar things in the hopper -- some vampire show called "Slayer." And a cutesy family drama called "7th Heaven."

"Slayer" thankfully changed its title back to the movie it was semi-based on, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." And "7th Heaven," well, holy crap, it's still on the air. But ten years later, the WB is folding.

My first day in Los Angeles, after finally finding my hotel, I popped on the TV and watched the news. The lead story? The suicide death of former "Family Feud" host Ray Combs.

If life were a cliche, I would have taken some big lesson out of my first moments in Los Angeles: I'm moving to a town that turns even mild-mannered game show hosts to suicide.

But life isn't always a cliche, although my first impressions were just as valuable: I'm moving to a town that leads its local newscasts with news of a mostly unknown ex-game show host offing himself.

When it comes to first impressions, I can't say our local news operations ever really redeemed themselves in the decade that followed.

More decade musings to come...

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