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

EDITOR'S UPDATE:  Norman Lear died of natural causes on December 5, 2023 at his home in Los Angeles.  He was 101 years old at the time of his death.

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

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Pat Sajak's record for longest career as host of the same game show

Regular readers of TV Banter know that my favourite game show is Jeopardy!  Alex Trebek hosted the popular quiz show for 37 seasons, from its revival in 1984 until his death from pancreatic cancer in 2020.

Alex Trebek

Bob Barker hosted The Price is Right from 1972 until his retirement in 2007, a total of 35 years.  (By the way, Bob Barker was born on December 12, 1923.  He will turn 100 this year).  

Bob Barker

Pat Sajak recently announced that he will be retire as host of Wheel of Fortune, the show inspired by the game of  hangman.  The original host of Wheel of Fortune was Chuck Woolery, from 1975 to 1981.  Pat hosted the daytime edition from 1981 to 1989.  He has hosted the syndicated version of the show since 1983.(Merv Griffin created Wheel of Fortune, as well as Jeopardy! As a child, Merv played hangman with his brother during to pass the time on car trips).

Since March 22, 2019, Pat Sajak has held the Guinness World Record for having the "longest career as game show host for the same show."  In December 28, 2021. Pat tweeted "W/hen I started hosting Wheel (with Susan Stafford) on this date 40 years ago, the top 10 TV shows included Dallas, Three's Company, The Jeffersons and The Dukes of Hazard.  Ronald Reagan was in his first year as president.  Number 1 song: Olivia Newton-John;s "Physical."

Pat Sajak is 76 years old.  He will turn 77 on October 26, 2023.  In June, Pat stated that he would retire as host of Wheel of Fortune in 2024, at the end of the show's 41st season.  Soon after, media personality Ryan Seacrest was announced as his successor.

Vanna White joined Wheel of Fortune in 1982 as co-host.  She is responsible for uncovering the letters on the shows large puzzle board.  Vanna, 66, began her career as a model and student of fashion.  After Susan Stafford left Wheel of Fortune in October of 1981, she was eventually replaced by Vanna. The first show featuring Pat Sajak as host aired on December 28, 1981.  On December 13, 1982, less than a a year later, Vanna became the show's regular co-host.  

After Pat and Vanna celebrated Wheel of Fortune's 7,000 episode, Vanna joked with USA Today.  When asked how she felt when she was originally cast on the serries, she replied, "I thought, 'Well, this is gonna be fun, but I can't imagine lasting that long.'"

Vanna and Pat
There are reports that Vanna White is asking for a sizeable pay increase and that she has drawn a line in the sand.  According to TMZ, Vanna is demanding half of what Pat makes, which is thought to be $15 million a year,  Stay tuned. Stay updated with breaking celebrity news, old and current television shows or old television shows news by reading TV Banter Blogs.

- Joanne