Saturday, September 23, 2023

Y&R Report (September 23, 2023): The Latest on The Young and the Restless

Hey Y&R fans, every second Saturday TV Banter discusses the latest happenings and provides commentary on your favourite daytime drama. Note to U.S. readers - SPOILER ALERT: Here in Canada, I watch the show on Global TV, which is one episode ahead of CBS.  I will inevitably refer to incidents you haven't seen yet.  Read at your own risk.  If you are the curious type, though, you may prefer to discover some things in advance.

Hi fans,  
I am back and raring to go with my comments and information on The Young and the Restless.  I hope you have had a great summer.  There is a lot to talk about.  So, let's begin by discussing the recent happenings on Y&R.  
Tucker McCall is a snake-in-the-grass.  I didn't expect that his ill-fated marriage to Ashely Abbott would last long, but they didn't even make it past their honeymoon.  What a disaster!  Tucker is such a scoundrel.  Soap marriages don't last long, but that might be a record.  I think the writers took liberties with Ashley's character for the sake of a storyline.  Ashley is too smart  and savvy to have been deceived by Tucker again.  She never would have married him.  Actually, I think Tucker and Audra make a good pair.  They are both devious and overly ambitious.  They are both cut from the same cloth.  They have a history of being partners in crime.
Speaking of Audra, she really took Kyle for a ride.  The Heartbreak Kid is getting a taste of his own medicine.  You will recall that he dumped Summer for Lola and then he turned around and dumped Lola for Summer.  Kyle has a  terrible record with women.  However, I doubt Summer would do much better with Chance.  He doesn't have a great track record with women either.  
This time the shoe will be on the other foot for Kyle Abbott.  He'll probably try to reunite with Summer, but she'll tell him it's too late, baby, I've moved on.  Hasta la vista!
Neither Diane nor Phyllis are angels.  They just can't stop meddling.  Yet whenever they come across each other, Diane provokes Phyllis.  It isn't necessary because Diane has everything she wants now.  She is married to Jack and she is the Lady of the Abbott Manor.  In their last encounter, Diane tried to persuade Phyllis to help get Kyle and Summer together again.  


THUMS DOWN: Y&R used to have summer barbecues and swimming parties, hosted by the Newmans and the Abbotts.  There did not appear to be any summer fun this year.  I also remember when Y&R had summer teen storylines.  The show can't seem to come up with any youth-oriented storylines to attract younger viewers.  Daniel's daughter, Lucy, has made appeared on and off, but she hasn't had a storyline.  There doesn't seem to be any character her age to interact with.  That leaves her with just trying to reunite her parents, Daniel and Heather.

THUMBS UP:  I love the way Eric Braeden is in the spotlight right now as he takes control of Newman Enterprises again.  I never thought I'd see that infernal picture of him in the office again.  It was quite a moment when Victoria's portrait was taken down and replaced by Victor's.  Victor is in his element and Eric Braeden seems to be really enjoying himself.  Melody Thomas Scott is also centre stage in her tole as Nikki.

THUMBS DOWN:  I enjoy corporate intrigue, but Y&R has become too much of it lately.  All the companies, who's in charge of what, and the name changes have been a bit difficult to keep track of.  Some comic relief is needed.

Billy Miller dead at 43

Some sad news indeed.  As most of you know, Billy Miller, ex-Billy Abbott on Y&R, died in Austin, Texas on September 15t, 2023, just two days before his 44th birthday.  His mother, Patricia Miller sent the following statement to Soap Opera Digest.

I would like to share the following thoughts. I want to personally thank the many fans and personal friends for the overwhelming amount of love, prayers, and condolences sent to me and my family on the devastating death of my beautiful son, BJ ­ Billy Miller. He fought a long, hard valiant battle with bipolar depression. For years, he did everything he could to control the disease. He loved his family, his friends, and his fans, but in the end, the disease won the fight and he surrendered his life. The other causes of death being told or not true. I wish they were, but they just aren't we all loved him so much. And are trying desperately to deal with our loss. I will have nothing further to say thanks for the love and support - --Patricia Miller.

Billy Miller was raised in Grand Prairie, Texas,  He got his start in 2007 on All My Children.  From 2008 to 2014, he portrayed Billy Abbott on The Young and the Restless.  His portrayal of the spoiled rich boy was immensely popular with fans because he was impishly charming.  Billy received two Daytime Emmy Awards for his Y&R role, two for Supporting Actor in a Drama Series and one for Outstanding Lead actor in a Drama Series.  Billy became a member of the cast of General Hospital,  He portrayed Jason Morgan from 2016 to 2017, as well as Morgan's twin, Drew Cain, until his departure from General Hospital in 2019.

On the Thursday, September 21st episode of Y&R, CBS aired a touching tribute to Billy.  In a segment at the end of the episode  There was a montage which began with a title card that read "In Loving Memory"  It featured scenes from Billy's time on the show

Michael Damien returning as Danny Romalotti for extended storyline

Michael Damien is retuning again.  The singer/actor is getting ready for yet another stint on Y&R this fall.  Michael originally joined the cast of Y&R in 1981.  His most recent appearance occurred just a few months ago when Dany appeared at a memorial service for Phyllis, who was very much alive.  Danny still seems to carry a torch for Christie the Cricketmeister.  Now that she has broken up with Paul, will she reunite with the rock star.  (I don't expect Doug Davidson to ever return as Paul Williams.  I don't think fans would like someone else in the role.  So it seems as though Chance is the new Genoa City Chief of Police.  Chance is no Paul Williams.  That's for sure).

Irish Wish, Michael Damien's second film with Lindsay Lohan premieres on Netflix in early 2024.  Michael has also produced and directed the upcoming film Paris Christmas Waltz, which recently finished production in Paris.

Veronica Redd to reprise her role as Mamie Johnson for multiple episodes
Veronica Redd will reprise her role as Mamie Johnson later this month.  Mamie is the former Abbott housekeeper, and great aunt to Lily, Devon and Nate.  Apparently she has some unfinished business in Genoa City.  She had an ongoing feud with Jill.  I wonder how she'll get along with Diane.
Veronica played the role of Mamie Johnson from 1919 to 1995 and from 1990 to 2004.  She reappeared briefly as Mamie during Genoa City's bicentennial celebration.

Hayley Erin cast in a new Y&R role

From 2008 to 2010, Hayley Ern played a young Abby Newman.  She will be returning to the show, but never fear Melissa Ordway fans, she will not be playing Abby this time.  Erin's new character, Claire Grace will be involved with the action at Newman Media.

Allison Lanier

Conner Floyd

Sharon Case

It seems as if we have a triangle with Sharon (Sharon Case), Chance (Conner Floyd) and Summer (Allison Lanier). What do you think, fans?  Should Summer have a romance with Chance or get back together with Kyle?  Do you prefer Chance with Sharon or would you prefer that she reunites with Nick Newman?  Respond to the poll below and let me know.

Do you like Sharon and Chance together?


I really need your feedback.  If you have any comments on Y&R, please email them to me with "Viewer Forum" in the subject line. I will be happy to publish your comments and reply to them  You do not have to use your real name.  I really need your input.  I really need to hear your opinion.  I want to know if you agree or disagree with me. 

My email address: 
That's all for now.  Don't forget that the next edition of Y&R Report will appear in this space on Saturday, October 7, 2023.

Take care,


Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Update on Jimmy McNichol

 You wanted to know . . . if there is any update on the status of Jimmy McNichol's marriage

A reader asked for an update "on the status of Jimmy McNichol's marriage."  Jimmy hasn't been in the spotlight for a while and he has kept his life fairly private.  He is not separated or divorced, and to the best of my knowledge, he is living a quiet life with his family.

James Vincent McNichol, known professionally as Jimmy McNichol, was born on July 2, 1961 in Los Angeles, California,, the son of James McNichol, a carpenter, and his wife, Carolyn.  The eldest of three siblings, Jimmy has a sister, Kristy (born 1962) and a brother, Tommy (Born 1965).  Kristy won an Emmy for her portrayal teenaged daughter Letitia "Buddy" Lawrence in the television drama Family.  

Jimmy's parents divorced and Carolyn raised her children as a single parent.  She supported the family and became the business manager for Jimmy and Kristy.  Jimmy and Kristy began their modelling and acting careers together,  Tommy was raised separately by a grandparent in Burbank, California.  He studied computer science.

In 1978, Jimmy and Kristy recorded a disco album together titled Kristy and Jimmy McNichol, which included the single "He's So Fine," a cover of the Chiffons' 1963 hit.  Jimmy and Kristy's version of the song reached number 70 on the Billboard chart.  The siblings also hosted several ABC specials and Saturday morning previews.  Kristy achieved success in her acting career, but she suffered from bipolar disorder.  She quit acting at only 24 years of age. 

Jimmy is now 62 years old.  In 1997, he married Renee Nash.  They have two children, a son named Nash (born late 1997), and a daughter, Ellis (born late 1998).  Jimmy and Renee's son, Nash, attended Fort Lewis College and launched his own business called Tech-Nichol.  He repairs cellphones and electronics.  Ellis graduated Animas High School in Colorado in June of 2017.  She then enrolled in Lewis and Clark University to pursue a degree in sociology and human services.

Jimmy also has another daughter, Kellee Maize, from a past relationship.  He wasn't aware of his other daughter.  He had no idea about her until they met in 2010.  Kellee was born in Pennsylvania.  She was adopted and raised by Terry and Christine Maize.  She is a singer, rapper and songwriter.

Kellee Maize

According to her website, Kellee was born in the 1980s.  Other sources list her birthdate as January 18, 1980.  According to a 2022 Closer Weekly article, Kellee has two children, a daughter named Soraya and a son, Mateo, with her husband, Joey Rahimi, making Jimmy McNichol a grandfather.  Kellee's adoptive father, Terry, has passed away, and Kellee refers to Jimmy as "Pops."

"Adoption is truly a gift, and I would never change  my journey in any way as I love my mom and dad with  ALL of my heart and to the the end of the earth . . . but to then also receive a gift of my unimaginably supportive and loving Pop and his family, (especially since my dad passed away 10 years ago and I miss him every day), has meant the world to me," Kellee wrote on Instagram after the McNichol clan got together in Colorado for the holidays in 2019.
Jimmy began his career as a child actor, and he appeared in numerous TV commercials.  He later became a teen the late 1970s. and early 1980s.  He starred in TV shows such as The  Fitzpatricks (1977-1978) and the mini-series California Fever (1979).  In 1980, he appeared in the TV movie Blinded by the Light.  From 1984 to 1985, Jimmy portrayed Josh Clayton in 26 episodes of the soap opera General Hospital.

Jimmy McNichol retired from acting in the 1990s, at the age of 30, although he did appear as Dracula's son in five 2017 episodes of the TV series Decker.  Since leaving acting, he has been active in environmental causes.  He is also a real estate investor and home renovator.  In 2018, Jimmy co-founded an entertainment production company called Playground TV.  Playground TV is a multilingual streaming platform.  It is powered my 18 children's channels and 140 animated shows.  Its mission is to educate and entertain kids worldwide.

In 2006, Jimmy and his family relocated from Santa Barbara, California to Durango, Colorado, where he still resides.

SOURCES: Closer Weekly, "Teen Idol Jimmy McNichol Became a Dad of 3 After Finding Fame! Meet His Kid Kellee, Nash and Ellis," by Samantha Agate, March 23, 2022; Wikipedia; Internet Movie Database (IMDb)

- Joanne

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Whatever happened to Denise Nicholas of Room 222?

Denise Nicholas is best known for her portrayal of guidance counsellor Liz McIntyre on ABC's groundbreaking series Room 222 from 1969 to 1974.  She also played City Councilwoman Harriet DeLong, alongside Carroll O'Conner, in 69 episodes of In the Heat of the Night, from 1989 to 1995.  In addition, she has enjoyed a second career as a successful author.

Denise Donna Nicholas (some sources say Donna Denise Nicholas) was born in Detroit, Michigan on July 12, 1944, the middle child of the three children of Louise and Otto Nicholas.  She had an older brother, Otto Jr, and a younger sister, Michele.  Denise grew up in Milan, Michigan, just south of Ann Arbor.  After graduating from Milan High Scholl, she attended the University of Michigan.

In 1964, at the age of 19, Denise dropped out of the University of Michigan and joined the Free Southern Theater in New Orleans.  She interrupted her pre-law studies to travel to the Deep South to become involved in the American Civil Rights Movement.  It was "Freedom Summer" and Denise had connected with the fledgling Free Southern Theater in order to read and critique plays.  

Denise Nicholas began her television career with an appearance in a 1968 episode of the adventure crime series It Takes a Thief., starring Robert Wagner.  The episode is entitled "To Catch a Roaring Lion" (Season 2, Episode 12, Air Date: December 31, 1968.  She then guest-starred on episodes of The F.B.I. (1969), and six episodes of the police drama N.Y.P.D. from 1967 to 1969.

After her stint with the Free Southern Theater, Denise moved to New York and worked off-Broadway.  She earned a spot in the groundbreaking Negro Ensemble Company.  During a performance with them at St. Mark's Playhouse, Denise was noticed by TV executives and was called to a edition for a new television show called Room 222.  She eventually landed the starring role of guidance counsellor Liz McIntyre and moved to California in 1969.  

On Room 222, Denise's Liz McIntyre character was the love interest of American history teacher Pete Dixon, who was portrayed by the late :Lloyd Haynes.  The show was set in Los Angeles at the fictional Walt Whitman High, an integrated school with an integrated faculty.  Denise appeared in all 113 episodes of Room 222 from 1969 until 1974.  In 1970, 1971 and 1972, she received Golden Globe nominations for Best TV Actress in a Drama for her role as Liz McIntyre in the series.

Below is a photo of the main cast members on Room 222.  In the front row are Michael Constantine, who portrayed principal Seymour. Kaufman.  To his right is Lloyd Haynes.  In the back row are Denise and Karen Valentine, who played English teacher Alice Johnson.

After Room 22 finished its run, Denise guest-starred in episodes of such TV series as Police Stary (1975), Rhoda (1975) and Marcus Welby, M.D, (1975).  From 1977 to 1978, Denise played the role of Olivia Ellis in 13 episodes of the short-lived CBS comedy Baby. . .I'm Back!   Her co-star in was  Demond Wilson of Sanford and Son fame.  He portrayed Olivia's wayward husband, Raymond Ellis, who returns home to Olivia and their two children after years of abandonment.  Complications arise because Raymond has been declared legally dead and Olivia has become engaged to someone else.

Denise and Demond Wilson

In February of 1980, Denise suffered a tragedy when her younger sister, Michele Burgen, a 26-year-old editor for Ebony magazine was shot to death.  Michele's body was discovered in a locked rental car at LaGuardia Airport in New York City.  Although Denise and her older brother, Otto, searched thoroughly, no suspect was ever brought to trial.

In the early 1980s, Denise worked on stage, and was featured in Voices of Our People: In Celebration of Black Poetry, which aired on PBS.  In the 1980s, she made guest appearances on episodes of such TV shows as Benson (1980), Diff'rent Strokes (1980), One Day at a Time (1983), Magnum, P.I. (1984), Hotel (1987),  Amen (1988) and The Cosby Show (1989).  She also played the role of Leddy Hutch in the 1987 television movie The Rockford Files: Shoot-Out at the Golden Pagoda, starring James Garner.

In 1985, Denise enrolled in USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.  In 1987, she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Drama from the University of Southern California.  In 1989, she began appearing as In the Heat of the Night, a crime drama about the adventures of the police forces in and around Sparta, Mississippi.  It is loosely based based on the 1967 movie and the 1965 novel of the same name.  

It wasn't until the show's third season that Denise began appearing as a recurring character - Sparta city Councilwoman Harriet DeLong.  Harriet eventually became a central character and the love interest of police chief Bill Gillespie (Carroll O'Connor). With the encouragement of O'Connor, Denise wrote six episodes of In the Heat of the Night,  She had approached Carroll, expressing her concern about he lack of black writers and directors on the show.  She told  him, "Carroll, you can't have all these black people on the show ad no black writers or directors ever."

Nicholas and O'Connor in In the Heat of the Night

When In The Heat of the Night was cancelled in 1995, Denise Nicholas decided to pursue a second career as a professional writer.  Denise enrolled in the Professional Writing Program at the University of Southern California.  She eventually joined the Journeyman's Writing Workshop where she studied for five years under the guidance of author Janet Finch.  

"Moving to writing from Acting was a natural progression for me," Denise told USC News in 2016.  "I always loved reading and books and really absorbed the fantasy of being a writer.  It's very romantic to want to be a writer, especially when you've never written anything.  But I had always wanted to write."

Denise's first novel,, Freshwater Road, was published in 2005/  It was critically acclaimed.  New York Newsday called it "perhaps the best work of fiction about the Civil Rights Movement."  It is a coming pf age story set in Mississippi during the Freedom Summer of 1964.

According to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), Denise's last TV acting role was in a 2002 episode of the sitcom My Wife and Kids.

Denise has been married three times.  In May1964, she married stage actor and civil rights activist Gilbert Moses, who founded the Free Southern Theater.  The couple wed at the American Theater in New York and moved to Jackson, Mississippi.  Denise joined Moses' Free Southern Theater.  With a small troupe of actors, the group performed plays for rural African-American audiences, many of whom had never witnessed live theatre before.  They performed Ossie Davis' Purlie Victorious and Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot.  Their production of In White America toured in New York City, as well as in Mississippi and Louisiana.  In 1965, the Free Southern Theater moved its base of operation to New Orleans, Louisiana.  Denise separated from Gilbert Moses and moved to New York City.

Gilbert Moses

On January 17, 1973, Denise married her second husband, soul singer Bill Withers, of  "Lean on Me" and "Ain't No Sunshine" fame.  It was reportedly a tumultuous marriage.  Denise filed for divorce in April of 1974 and the divorce became final in December of 1974.

Bill Withers in 1976

In June 0f 1980, while grieving the loss of her sister, Denise met sports anchor Jim Hill at a party in Sacramento, California.  Jim, a former NFL player, married Denise on Valentine's Day, February 14, 1981.  In October 1981, the couple separated, but soon reconciled.  However, Denise filed for divorce again in 1984.  The divorce became final in 1987.  In 1990, Denise told People magazine that she was at a low point in her life after her break-up with Hill in 1984.  She said, "'Dark Shadow' was my middle name.  I was really at ground zero.  The marriage was over, my career was in the toilet, and I was adrift."

Jim Hill


* Denise's first husband, Gilbert Moses, award-winning stage and TV director and producer, died of multiple myeloma on April 15, 1995.  He died in New York at the age of 52 .  He was known for his work on the ABC After School Specials and Roots.

 Denise's second husband, Bill Withers, passed away on March 30. 2020 at the age of 81.  The singer-songwriter died of heart complications in a Los Angeles hospital.

Jim Hill, Denise's third husband, is currently a sports anchor and sports director for KCBS-TV in Los Angeles.

* Denise's co-star on Room 222, Lloyd Haynes, died of lung cancer on January 1. 1987.  He was 52 years old at the time of his passing.  Her other Room 222 co-star, Michael Constantine, died on August 31, 2021 at 94 years of age. 

* Denise appeared on the cover of Jet magazine ten times.

* Denise's film credits include Biacula (1972), Let's Do It Again( 1975), A Piece of the Action (1977) and Ghost Dad (1990).

SOURCES: USC Dornsife ,"Actress and novelist Denise Nicholas draws from her experience in the civil rights movement," by Laura Paisley, March 25, 2016;  Los Angeles Times, "'In the Heat of the Night's Denise Nicholas finds the positive in past and present," by N.F. Mendoza, January 16, 1994; The HistoryMakers: The Digital Repository for the Black Experience,  Denise Nicholas Biographym Wikipedia; Internet Movie Database (IMDb)

- Joanne

Friday, August 11, 2023

Celebrating the 17th Season of Heartland

 breaking celebrity news

"Heartland entering the 17th season in an industry where a series is lucky to get a second or a third season is hard to wrap your head around. I attribute the longevity of Heartland to a perfect alchemy of all the most important elements in television. We have a good story engine and great chemistry between the different actors on the set. We have a stunning and unique setting, a little piece of southern Alberta known as the Foothills. We have many knowledgeable local cowboys and cowgirls to guide the show and keep it authentically grounded in the western world. But the most important element is that it is a multi-generational show that anyone in the family can watch and enjoy." 

- Michelle Morgan (Samantha Louise "Lou" Fleming)

Okay, Heartland fans, put on your cowboy hats!  Not only will  CBC be airing the 17th season of Heartland, but the first episode this season will mark the 250th episode since the series began in October of 2007.  Production of  the show's new season began on May 8, 2023.  Amber Marshall, who plays the widowed Amy Fleming, Lou's sister, had this to say about Heartland's 250th episode: "It's hard to believe I have been part of 250 Heartland episodes.  When I look back and do the math, I've spent over 1700 day on set which is roughly 20,400 hours.  I really can't imagine a better group of people to create something so special.  We are all so proud of this show."

old and current television shows
Michelle Morgan

old telivision shows news
Amber Marshall

Michelle and Amber do not resemble each other at all.  Michelle (Lou} has dark hair and Amber (Amy) is more fair-haired.  Their characters also have completely different personalities.  Amy is a down-home horse whisperer, while Lou is more of a sophisticated businesswoman.  Amy is very comfortable around the ranch, while Lou seems better suited to big city life.  I have often wondered why they were cast as sisters.  Yet, somehow the family dynamic works.

I began watching Heartland about 10 years ago.  I've caught up on the earlier seasons that I missed.  Like many fans of the show, I was disappointed that Ty Borden (Graham Wardle) was killed off.  Ty and Amy made such a great couple, but Graham felt he needed to move on.  He currently hosts a podcast called Time Has Come, which "explores the personal journeys of his guests and how they have stepped beyond the familiar into the unknown."

It's uncertain as to what direction the character of Amy will go this season.  At one point, it seemed that she might have a romantic relationship with Finn Cotter, played by Canadian actor Robert Cormier.  Finn's father was a nemesis of Jack Bartlett Amy's grandfather, which created some tension between him and Amy.

Whatever plans the writers had for Amy and Finn, had to be abandoned.  Tragically, Robert Cormier died on September 23, 2022 of injuries he sustained in a fall.  He was only 33 years old and his loss was deeply felt by the cast and crew of Heartlandbreaking celebrity news

This season promises a showdown between Lou Fleming, who is mayor of Hudson, the fictional Alberta town where Heartland is set, and her Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Rick Adderly.  Lou is up for re-election and it appears that Rick intends to run against her.   old and current television shows

Aldan Moreno is the English actor who portrays Rick, the first LGBT character on the long-running Canadian drama.  Lou and Rick had a rocky relationship at first because Lou resented him telling her how things should be done.  The two gradually became friends, as well as colleagues, so Lou will obviously feel upset that Adderly is challenging her. old television shows

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Aldan Moreno as Rick

No release date has been announced yet for Heartland's 17th season.  However, the press release on the season 17 renewal stated that the new season "will premiere exclusively in Canada on CBC and CBC Gem this fall,"  Those who watch the show through Netflix will have to wait longer. Stay updated with breaking celebrity news, old and current television shows or old television shows news by reading Tv Banter Blogs

- Joanne,

Monday, July 31, 2023

Jeopardy! affected by Hollywood strikes

breaking celebrity news

 As regular readers of TV Banter know, I am a huge fan of Jeopardy!  As a fan, I am concerned about the fate of the popular quiz show.  It is facing setbacks and postponements due to the ongoing strikes by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA).  

Let me be clear.  I strongly support the writers and actors.  However, I am also concerned  about Jeopardy!'s future.  The show has recently confirmed that it would be delaying the Tournament of Champions until the strikes are resolved.  On last Friday's show, host Ken Jennings announced that the venerable game show had completed its 39th season and that there would be reruns for the reminder of the summer.  The producers have confirmed plans to" deliver first-run episodes this fall" using the "best of our WGA written material."  Understandably, this does not sit well with both competitors and fans.  It certainly doesn't sit well with me.  I think it would be an enormous mistake and that it would be detrimental to the show.

In May, Jeopardy! host, Mayim Byalik, who is an actor, decided not to continue her hosting duties on Season 39 in sympathy with the strikers.  Her final episodes didn't air until July of 2023, after which she was replaced by Ken Jennings.  No one knows how long the strikes will last.  They could drag on into the fall and even into the winter and beyond.  As of this writing, there is no end in sight.  My hope is that Jeopardy! will not suffer any lasting effects from the strikes and that things will return to normal when the labour disputes are resolved.

 Stay updated with breaking celebrity news, old and current television shows or old television shows news by reading Tv Banter Blogs

- Joanne

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Norman Lear celebrates his 101st birthday

"At close to 99, I can tell you that I've never lived alone.   I've never laughed alone.  And that has as much to do with my being here today as anything else I know."

- Norman Lear in a 2021 speech after he receiving the Carol Burnett Award at the Golden Globes

"I get the kind of care at this age that I see children getting, toddlers getting.  So I'm now a 101-year-old toddler and I'm thinking of two little words that we don't think of often enough or pay attention to: over and next."

- Norman Lear In a video he posted on Instagram today as part of his "#breakfastthoughts" series,

For better or worse, Norman Lear changed the face of American television.  In doing so, he made an indelible mark on social mores and popular culture.  Norman turns 101 years old today, and it can be said without hesitation that has lived a long and fruitful life. Norman is a remarkable screenwriter and producer  He is the man who developed or created such influential sitcoms of the 1970s, such as All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Maude, Good Times, Sanford and Son and One Day at a Time and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.  He is also an outspoken social and political activist.

Norman Milton Lear was born in New Haven, Connecticut on July 27, 1922, the eldest child of Jeanette (née) Seicol and Hyman (Herman) Lear, a travelling salesman.  Norman was raised in a Jewish home and had a Bar Mitzvah ceremony.  His mother was a native of Ukraine and his father's family was from Russia.  Norman spent the earliest days of his childhood in Connecticut, and he had a younger sister, Claire Lear Brown (1925-2015).

By the time Norman was nine years of age, his family had moved to Chelsea, Massachusetts.  His father was sent to prison for selling counterfeit bonds. Norman described his father as a "rascal."  He said that the character of Archie Bunker, a white Protestant on  All in the Family, was partly based on him, while the character of Edith Bunker was partially inspired by his mother.

In 1942, Norman dropped out of Emerson College in Boston and he enlisted in the United States Army Airforces.  After World War II, he moved to California with the intention of becoming a press agent.  Throughout the 1950s, however, he worked with his cousin's husband, Ed Simmons. Simmons and Norman created comedy sketches for the television appearances of such performers and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, and Dan Rowan and Dick Martin.

Norman wrote the screenplay and produced the 1967 film Divorce, American Style, starring Dick Van Dyke and Debbie Reynolds,  The film was directed by Bud Yorkin.  Yorkin became Norman's longtime producing partner, and the duo went on to produce All in the Family, Sanford and Son, What's Happening!!, Maude and The Jeffersons.

In the late 1960s, Norman tried to pitch the concept of a sitcom based on a blue-collar American family to ABC.  ABC rejected his idea, but the sitcom was eventually picked up by CBS.  All in the Family premiered on January 12, 1971.  The show was loosely based on the British comedy Till Death Us Do Part, about a hot-tempered working-class Tory and his socialist son-in-law.  All in the Family's initial ratings were disappointing, but by the 1971-1972 season, it was top-rated.  

Prior to the groundbreaking All in the Family, CBS's schedule was full of rural comedies such as The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres and Petticoat Junction.  All in the Family changed all that.  It had an urban setting (New York City) and it brought the political and social issues of the day into the living rooms of America.  Norman's politics are decidedly of the liberal persuasion.  However, on All in the Family, Archie's son-in-law, Mike "Meathead" Stivic's liberal attitude was also held up to scrutiny, and  Archie's wife, Edith (Jean Stapleton), was the voice of reason.

Norman has often sparked controversy due to his liberal views and his staunch support for First Amendment and progressive causes.  He is a longtime critic of the politics of the radical Religious Right.  In 1981, he founded People for the American Way (PFAW), a nonprofit organization dedicated to defending the First Amendment.  

At the age of 100, Norman told USA Today that he had no plans to retire.  "I don't consider retirement," he said, "not so long as there's something I want to do when I wake up in the morning.  And there always is.  Some people run.  I don't run.  I wake up and do the things that please me.  That's my present to myself.  That's my prayer.  That's everything."

Norman Lear has been married three times.  He has six children from his three marriages  He wed his first wife, Charlotte Rosen, in 1943,  Norman and Charlotte had a daughter, Ellen (born 1947).  In 1990, the Los Angeles Times reported that Ellen was "divorced" and that she worked "as a sex therapist" in New York.

In 1956, Norman married Frances Loeb in Las Vegas,  They divorced in 1985, after 28 years of marriage.  Norman and Frances had two daughters, Kate (born 1957) and Maggie (born 1959).

Lear married his current wife, producer Lyn Davis on September 5, 1987.  They had three children.  Their son is Benjamin "Ben" Lear. (born 1988).  Ben studied music at New York University and then directed his first film, They Call us Monsters, a documentary about juvenile offenders.  He also wrote directed a 2017 comedy short entitled Bad For The Boats.  Norman and Lyn are also the parents of twin daughters, Madelaine Rose and Brianna Elizabeth Lear (born 1994).  At the time of the twin's birth, Norman was 72 and Lyn was 47.


* Norman Lear's memoir, Even This I Get To Experience, was published in 2014.  

* Most of Norman's sitcoms were shot on videotape before a live studio audience.

* In 1987, Norman became one of the first seven television pioneers to be inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.

* Norman's second wife, Frances, died of breast cancer on September 30, 1996.  She was 73 years old at the time of her passing.  Frances is generally acknowledged. and she herself claimed to be, the inspiration for the title character of the sitcom Maude, a feisty, liberal feminist played by Beatrice Arthur.  Frances invested some $25 million her divorce settlement from Norman into starting a new magazine called Lear's, aimed at women like herself.  The magazine began publication in 1988 and ceased publication in 1994.

* In 2019, at the age of 97, Norman Lear became the oldest person to win a Creative Arts Emmy.

SOURCES Hollywood Life, "Norman Lear's Kids: Meet The Legendary TV Producer's 6 Grown Children," by Jason Brow, September 22, 2022; ABC News, "Norman Lear celebrate 101st birthday with video about living second childhood,"" by Angeline Jane Bernabe; The New York Times, "Frances Lear, a Mercurial Figure of the Media and a Magazine Founder, Dead at 73," by Enid Nemy, October 1, 1996; Wikipedia; Internet Movie Database (IMDb. Stay updated with breaking celebrity news, old and current television shows or old television shows news by reading TV Banter Blogs.

- Joanne

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Keeping Up with Lindsay Wagner, The Bionic Woman

I actually wanted to be a psychologist. The human potential and emotional thing has always fascinated me. I was very dyslexic when I was young, and they didn’t know anything about it. I tried to go to college, but it was very difficult, so I gave it up and got on with my life. I could read things on my own at my own pace, which I did. I had quite an appetite for learning about that stuff, so I did it on my own.

I was a survivor of domestic violence when I was younger. Our culture back then was very much into, “That’s the way people are.” I didn’t believe that. That was not my experience, so I studied. I’m still studying the mind and spirit and how all that stuff works together, even studying different cultures.

- Lindsay Wagner
2016 interview with Smashing Interviews Magazine

Although Lindsay Wagner never became a  psychologist, she has enjoyed a lengthy and successful acting career, She has also served as a model, a singer, an acting coach, an author and an activist.  She is best known for her role aa  the "Bionic Woman," the female counterpart of Lee Major's "Six Million Dollar Man."  The Six Million Dollar Man aired from 1974 to 1978, while The Bionic Woman ran from 1976 to 1978.  

Lindsay Jean Wagner was born on June 22, 1949 in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of Marilyn Louise ((née Thrasher), a building contractor, and William Nowels Waagner, a professional photographer.  Lindsay's parents divorced when she was seven years old and she moved to the northeast Los Angeles area of Eagle Rock with her mother.  

Lindsay relocated yet again when her mother remarried.  She and her mother and stepfather, Ted Ball, moved to Portland, Oregon.  Lindsay attended David Douglas High School in Portland, where she appeared in several school plays.  At the suggestion of a family friend (James Best of Dukes of Hazard fame), she joined an acting class to deal with the domestic abuse she experienced growing up.  In a recent AmoMama article, Lindsay is quoted as saying "Acting class was a place where I could express my emotions in a safe environment.  It helped me realize that I had nothing to be ashamed of.  Domestic violence can be very isolating.  I was only 12, and it really helped."

After attending the University of Oregon for one year, Lindsay dropped out because her dyslexia made her studies too difficult.  In 1968, at the age of 19, Lindsay became the  lead singer of a rock band for a brief time before returning to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career.  In L.A, she found work as a model and appeared in a number of TV commercials.  In 1971, she signed as a contract player with Universal Studios.  That same year, she made her TV debut as Jenny Carson  in an episode of the police drama Adam-12 entitled "Million Dollar Buff" (Season 4, Episode 2, Air Date: September 22, 1971).

Lindsay's first prominent acting  role was as Susan Fields in the well-received 1973 film The Paper Chase.  She then appeared in two Season 1 episodes of the popular TV series The Rockford Files,  in 1974 and 1975.  She also guest-starred in five episodes of Marcus Welby, M.D. from 1971 to 1975.  It was television that made Lindsay Wagner a household name in the role of Jaime Sommers on The Bionic Woman.  

Ironically, Lindsay's rise to stardom began in 1975 when Universal Studios decided to drop her as a contract player.  As luck would have it, her final assignment for the studio was to appear in an episode of The Six Million Dollar Man, starring Lee Majors.  Lindsay struck a chord with viewers when she began playing Jaime, a tennis pro, and high school sweetheart of Colonel Steve Austin (Majors),in nine episodes of the series.  She first appeared during the second season of the show in a special two-part 1975 episode entitled "The Bionic Woman" Part I (Season 2, Episode 19, Air Date: March 16, 1975) and "The Bionic Woman" Part II (Season 2, Episode 20, Air Date: March 23, 1975).  In the episode, Lindsay's character is critically injured in a skydiving accident.  Her life is saved with surgical bionic implants, similar to those of Colonel Austin's.

Jaime's body, however, rejects her bionic implants, and she supposedly dies on an operating table.  As it turned out, Lindsay's character proved to be so popular with fans that ABC asked the writers to find a way to bring her back.  In the first episode of the next season of The Six Million Dollar Man, it is revealed that Jamie hadn't really died, but was cryogenically frozen until a cure for her ailments could be found.  In 1976, a spin-off called The Bionic Woman was launched, starring Lindsay Wagner.  The Bionic Woman ran for three seasons, the first two season on the ABC network, and then on the NBC network for its final season.

Below is a 1977 photo of a scene from The Bionic Woman with Lindsay and guest star Evel Knievel.

After the cancellation of The Bionic Woman in 1978, Lindsay continued to perform in television miniseries and in numerous TV movies such as Windows, Door and Keyholes (1978) , The Incredible Journey of Meg Laurel (1979), The Two Worlds of Jennie Logan (1979), Callie & Son (1981), Memories Newer Die (1982), I Want to Live (1983), Two Kinds of Love (1983), Passions (1984) The Other Lover (1985), This Child is Mine (1985), Child's Cry (1986), Convicted (1986), Stranger in My Bed (1987), Student Exchange (1987), Evil in Clear River (1988), The Taking of Flight 847: The Uli Derickson Story (1988), Police Story Burnout (1988), From the Dead of Night (1989), Voice of the Heart (1989), Shattered Dreams (1990), Sins of Silence (1996), Voyage of Terror (1998), The Thanksgiving House (2013) and Change of Heart (2016)

Many of Lindsay's TV movies have tackled social and health issues such as child abuse, family violence and breast cancer. She told Simply Interviews that she this was by choice.  "When I went into this business and decided to go into it professionally, it wasn't until I was twenty[two.  I found it such a wonderful opportunity to talk about social issues.  Having become so popular and having so much powers in the business with the popularity of The Bionic Women, I was able to get a project done that they really didn't want me to do back then.  There were issues that they were afraid to talk about in entertainment because programs were sourced by companies that were advertising products.  That's how television worked."

Lindsay has amassed over 90 acting credits.  The prolific actor has appeared in more than 40 TV movies, five miniseries and 12 feature films.  She is a veteran of Hallmark TV movies such as Mingle All The Way (2018) and Eat, Play, Love.(2017) in which she appeared with Lee Majors.  She has not slowed down in recent years.  In 2022, she appeared in an episode of the CBS adventure series Blood & Treasure. From 2018 to 2019, Lindsay guest-starred as Helen Karev in four episodes of Season 15 of Grey's Anatomy..  In 2015, she played Barbara Bishop in an episode of NICS.  From 2010 to 2014, she had a recuring role as Dr. Vanessa Calder on the science fiction mystery drama Warehouse 13.

Lindsay Wagner has been married and divorced four times.  She is currently single.  According to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), Lindsay married Allan Richard Rider, a music publisher, on September 28, 1971.  They divorced in 1974.  Her second husband was actor Michael Brandon, known for his role in the 1980 film A Change of Seasons.  Lindsay wed Brandon in 1976 and they divorced in 1979.  

On May 16, 1981, Lindsay wed Hollywood stuntman and actor Henry Kingi, whom she met on the set of The Bionic Woman.  Kingi, born in L.A. to a Nigerian father and a Japanese mother, married Lindsay in a ceremony at Lake Tahoe, Nevada.  The bride and groom recited an Indian blessing to devote their lives to God and each other, but their marriage ended in divorce in 1984.  The couple had two sons: Dorian Kingi (born September 25, 1982 in Los Angeles) and Alex Kingi, (born September 7, 1986 in Los Angeles).  Their sons also became stuntmen and actors.

Dorian Kingi

Alex Kingi

Lindsay's fourth husband was to actor-film producer Lawrence Mororff.  They marred on May 6, 1990 and divorced in 1993.


* During the first season of The Bionic Woman, Lindsay Wagner and her then-boyfriend, actor Michael Brandon were involved in a serious car accident.  Lindsay was the driver of the vehicle and Michael was in the passenger seat.  He almost lost an eye and Lindsay suffered a severe cut on her upper lip.  She was left with a small but permanent scar.  Due to the accident product of The Bionic Woman was delayed for weeks.

* In 1977, Lindsay received a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her role in The Bionic Woman.

* Lindsay appeared in the three reunion movies that featured most of the original actors from the 1970s bionic series: The Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman (1987), Bionic Showdown: The Six Million  Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman (1989) and Bionic Ever After? (1994).  Bionic Ever After?, the third and final movie of the franchise, marks Lindsay's last appearance as Jaime Sommers.  It aired on CBS on November 29, 1994. In the film, Jaime's long-overdue wedding to Steve Austin (Lee Majors) is cast in doubt when Jaime's bionic systems begin to fail and Steve is involved in a hostage situation.

* Lindsay is a longtime vegan and an advocate of holistic medicine. In the late 1980s, she became a writer and xo-author of books on health and beauty, including a bestselling vegetarian cookbook entitled The High Road to Heath (1990), 30-Day Natural Facelift Program (1988) and Lindsay Wagner's new Beauty: The Acupressure Facelift (1987).  She has also released a meditation CD entitled Open to Oneness.

* Lindsay is a social activist.  In 1993, she joined the board of directors of Teen Talking Circles, a nonprofit group that supports the positive mental health of young people as they grow into adulthood.  In 2004, Lindsay co-founded the Peacemakers, an organization devoted to preventing domestic violence.  

SOURCES: AmoMama (, "Lindsay Wagner Looks Timeless at 73 with Gray Hair - She Turned into Spirituality for the Sake of Her 2 Kids," by Dorcus Osongo, March 26, 2023; Biography (, ""Lindsay Wagner Biography;" by Editors, originally published 2014, updated 2019; Smashing Interviews, "Lindsay Wagner Interview: The Human Potential and Emotional Thing Has Always Fascinated Me," by Melissa Parker, February13, 2016;  Wikipedia; Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Stay updated with breaking celebrity news, old and current television shows or old television shows news by reading TV Banter Blogs.     

- Joanne        

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Update on Jeopardy!

 Jennings and Bialik both nominated for Primetime Emmy

Congratulations to Jeopardy! hosts Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik.  Both have been nominated for a 2023 Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Game Show Host.  They will be competing against Steve Harvey of Family Feud, Keke Palmer of Password and Pat Sajak of Wheel of Fortune.  Outstanding Game Show Host is a new category for the Primetime Emmy Awards,  Until now, the  category has been a part of the Daytime Emmys.

This is first time Ken Jennings, a former Jeopardy! champion, has been nominated for an Emmy. He is renowned for being the highest-earning contestant on the popular quiz show.  Mayim Bialik has already received four nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her performance as Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory.  However, she has never won the award.  Since July 2022, Jennings and Bialik the two have shared hosting duties on Jeopardy!

Ken Jennings

Mayim Bialik

The 75th Emmys are scheduled to be broadcast live on September 18th at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.  However, the ceremonies may have to be postponed due to the ongoing Hollywood writers' strike.  The Daytime Emmys have already been postponed until the strike is resolved.  As of this writing, the situation doesn't look too promising.

Mayim Bialik walked off the set of Jeopardy! in support of the Writers' Guild of America (WGA when it went on strike in early May. (Ken Jennings, who is not an actor,  has been the sole host since Mayim walked off0.

Talks between the SAG-ACTRA actors union and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMTP) reached an impasse on Wednesday night when an agreement on a new contract could not be reached. SAG-ACTRA announced that its negotiators had unanimously recommended a strike after the breakdown of labour talks with the Hollywood studios.  SAG-AFTRA will meet today to formerly vote on a strike.  If a strike is approved, then actors will  join writers on the picket line.  This would mark the first time since 1960 that both the writers and actors have been on strike simultaneously.  It is interesting to note that 63 years ago, former U.S. president Ronald Reagan led the Screen Actors Guild.(SAG). Stay updated with breaking celebrity news, old and current television shows or old television shows news by reading TV Banter Blogs.

- Joanne