Category: Television/Streaming

It’s odd to remember “The Daily Show” having to be defended

It’s odd to remember “The Daily Show” having to be defended

I searched site traffic this morning to see popular blog posts here on Johnny Fonts.. Someone ventured to an old blog post I did in 2006 where I ranted in defense or The Daily Show. I also got reminded by way of that post that I had written a letter-to-the-editor at in defense of The Daily Show.

Seeing the St. Pete Times (now Tampa Bay Times) archives are no longer public, I’m going to quote my letter in full. Mind you, I can’t link to the Op-Ed that drew my reaction. It is likely online, but where? I’m not sure:

‘Daily Show’ is not a detriment

Re: Is “The Daily Show” bad for democracy?

What’s this now? Jon Stewart and his crew of reporters are turning off youth with their irony, cynicism and sarcasm concerning the antics of our elected officials?

I find it hilarious that the article in question thinks so little of the youth of America. We’re a generation of people whom elected officials tend to ignore and brush off. We’re a generation of Americans who have grown up through scandal after scandal (Iran-Contra, the S&L fallout, Whitewater, Monica Lewinsky, 9/11 failings, Valerie Plame, etc.) and the article in question thinks that a TV show with a humorous take on the sorry state of affairs in this country is detrimental to democracy?

No, sir. What’s detrimental to democracy is how little the older generations – especially the one in control – inspire the rest of us. It’s detrimental that the Daily Show, which bills itself as “fake news,” has been more biting and investigative than the mainstream media for the past six years.
— John Fontana, Palm Harbor

Letter to the Editor, St. Pete Times
Published June 28, 2006

In my opinion, there’s a lot more I should have said. More accountability was pointed toward government by the humor of Jon Stewar5, Stephen Colvert, Samantha Bee, and others ton the show. It seems funny — and stupid — a show with the intellectual weight that Stewart pulled off would draw criticism like the non-preference-linked column pulled off.

Stewart and crew didn’t dissuade. If they had, this blogger never would have written anything of a politically driven piece.

It’s January 1 and this is 2020

It’s January 1 and this is 2020

Appropriate and fitting. Happy New Year!

In search of Andy Hardy’s “Casablanca” parody-clip with Head Coach Sam Wyche

In search of Andy Hardy’s “Casablanca” parody-clip with Head Coach Sam Wyche

The late Andy Hardy was Sports Director at WTVT Channel 13 for longer than I know. In his last years in his role, the latest futility of Tampa Bay Buccaneers football was overseen by head coach Sam Wyche (we’re talking 1992 through 1995).

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Wishful thinking: Parody, Politics, and the Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time-Players

Here we are, Early October is when the Not-Ready-For-Prime-Tim-Players tend to kick off. Yes, folks, the next season of the long-run, late-night, skit-comedy series Saturday Night Live, will be kicking off a new, shall-we-make-you-laugh-your-ass-off? season shortly.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Administration of Donald J. Trump keeps playing like skit-comedy in its revealed words, choices, actions, and deeds. Sadly, with how politics reach and what they do to society, it’s not a laughing matter to mess up, screw up, or use shady tactics to try to solidify power while gaining personally at great cost to the public.

It’s ripe for parody, though. Alec Baldwin can tell you that. The veteran actor has been inspired (in the worst way possible) to play President Trump on SNL a countless number of times the past two seasons.

This season of Saturday Night Live coincides with the 30th anniversary of a movie that Baldwin co-starred in that mixed action and drama with politics and espionage of the Cold War. The Hunt for Red October is one of my personal favorite films and the only Tom Clancey novel-turned-film that I liked. I never took to Harrison Ford as Dr. John “Jack” Ryan in the two sequels, but that’s just me… I liked Baldwin’s Ryan (“I’m just an analyst!”) better than a typical action/thriller movie star like Ford taking up the role.

I keep having Red October pop into my head as scandals play out in the news. How one notable name in the current political dramatic climate rhymes so well with the name of the “phantom Russian submarine” that the film involves and its name is based on.

Red October. Robert Mueller.

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In search of the vocal group who performed in Busch Gardens Tampa commercials

This isn’t a hiring/performance question, this is more a who the hell was this? inquiry.

During the late-late 1980’s and early 1990”s, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay had commercials — more than two, but two in memory — with an acapella group singing. Unless it can be proven otherwise, I’m pretty certain it wasn’t Rockapella (who I had been exposed to on Where in the World Is Carmen San Diego telecasts). The tone of vocals (in memory) is just too different and there was a bit of an accent.

One of the commercials (and while I can’t remember imagery, I can tell you it was all stuff from in the theme park) starts out with, “My father said..” before going into the true performance, where the lead singer would sing how “only elephants […]”, “only tigers {…}”, “only birds can…” (sit in the trees or kick in breeze; can’t remember), “But only you can dream dreams”

The other song I remember even more vaguely with “celebrate the day” and “let your soul play” is what I recall (and also key lyrics).

These guys did have recorded music; my 6th-grade science teacher played an album during class to try to chill us out. It wasn’t as catchy as what the commercials came off like.

These commercials don’t seem to be online, I can’t find out the Who? behind them either. I just know that by the 1992 opening of the roller coaster known as Kumba, these guys were no longer included in commercials (or were they?) and I can’t find anything out about them now. I’ve asked friends, I’ve done web searches… I ask the general public – who am I talking about with these Busch Gardens Tampa Bay commercials?

Wishful thinking: Rebooting a classic piece of TV without the cheesy comedy

Right now, a modern retelling of a 1960’s television show is on my mind and yet modern retelling limits it unless it’s done right and framed properly. That, in itself, is a tough task.

Before I move to that and the show on my mind, let me touch on a show that was going to have a “modern” retelling 20 years after its airing in the 1960’s: Batman. Warner Brothers wanted to do a cinematic version of the caped-crusader show from the 60’s and from one of the original casting plans tells you everything about original intent on the movie: Bill Murray as Bruce Wayne/Batman. That should not be taken as “could you imagine how dark Tim Burton’s film would have been if…?” as so much “Bill Murray vs. Adam West, who wins in a Batusi dance-off?” The film that Burton made (and set the stage for modern comic book movies) was intended by the company to go campy-comedic a-la the original series on screen.

There’s another show that was exposed to the masses over the decades by way of original airings on network television and syndication in later decades after the original series ended. It’s had television-movie continuations of the series and parodies in other television shows over the decades. It was campy, it was comedic, and it was the tale of chance.

Gilligan’s Island is only known for ha-ha-ha. An idiotic-but-lucky first mate, his father-like/older brother-like Skipper, and the five passengers who were fellow castaways when the S.S. Minnow wrecked on an uncharted desert island. Read More

A missed opportunity to “Make It So” with Commander Data at the Tampa Bay Comic Con

I’m at a loss.

I know one thing about the Star Trek universe, at least for the original series’ (plural – as the true- prime universe has had many impactful shows): They draw fans and draw media attention for when they’re out and about in a public event.

With the news of Sir Patrick Stewart once again taking on the role of Jean-Luc Picard in a Star Trek television series that is forthcoming, you would think that the media would jump at cast-members of Star Trek: The Next Generation if they were in a public position in their media market.

Not in Tampa, Florida. Not this past weekend (August 3 – 5) with the Tampa Bay Comic Con.

Brent Spiner, who made a name for himself in the series as Commander Data – the artificially intelligent android who lacked emotions or natural senses until the series moved into the cinematic universe – was a participant in the Comic Con at the Tampa Convention Center on August 4th and 5th. There’s no noted coverage that I can find of it though. A web search returns announcements that Spiner would be participating. A news search simply returns more announcements about the event happening. Not actual reports from the floor of the event or direct interviews with those participating.

The TBCC is an event that can be criticized – it’s the follow-up comic convention event to the marquee San Diego Comic Con. It can’t compare to that level of a spectacle. The news on Stewart and the Trek universe did open an opportunity for things to go up a notch with remarks from Spiner (or at least reporting on the attempt to get remarks).

Nothing. Zip. Zero. Bupkus. Didldly-squat. Unless there’s an online report that doesn’t show on web searches on Google and Lycos, the media (and perhaps the Tampa Bay blogosphere) dropped the ball on a national-attention opportunity in pop culture… Something much more positive than the attention the market drew for Donald Trump’s visit to the city a few days earlier.

So, the Trekkies are left without a potential reaction quote from Spiner, or LeVar Burton, or Michael Dorn, or Gates McFadden or any other member of The Next Generation crew regulars (or those who acted with Stewart in the Marvel Universe for that matter). In the mean time, what you will get to close this post is something from a year ago. Brent Spiner does one hell of a Patrick Stewart impression:

UPDATE Monday, August 6 @ 9:52 PM EDT: With thanks to a friend, I was given an article with a wide variety of reactions from Star Trek cast members. It doesn’t undo the Tampa Bay media failure to capitalize on an opportunity, but it does fill in curious members of the Trek fanbase.

Poll: Are broadcasts of the NHL on NHC Sports patial?

This poll (via Twitter) will be running until Saturday, May 12th.

This Labor Day Weekend, in memory of Jerry Lewis, let’s fight MD

My reaction to the news of comedic legend Jerry Lewis’ passing two weeks ago was to urge friend son Facebook to make a donation to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the organization Jerry work for with his annual Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon which aired from Sunday night of Labor Day weekend until Monday evening on Labor Day.

It’s short notice and I would imagine more people are having a weekend than on the web reading blog entries from someone like me (“Who the hell is this  guy?” ). But I think we, the American public, should act this weekend for Jerry and for those stricken with Muscular Dystrophy.

I posted this on my personal Facebook account, aimed at friends. I post it here:

I’m not playing on this, ladies and gents: Starting tomorrow around 7 or 8 PM EDT (or was it 9? I forget) we may want to make donations to the Muscular Dystrophy Association (and press the idea until Monday night with friends and others we have contact with).

It’s in honor and memory of Jerry Lewis.

The idea of a time-to-do-the-deed is simply there for viral sake. As was already noted, the annual rite that was the MDA telethon’s hours of broadcast was from Sunday night until Monday evening.

It’s in honor of Mr. Lewis, ladies and gentlemen. It is out of sympathy and support of those battling MD. The time is not exactly prime for an effort like this, as the damage and suffering in Houston caused by Hurricane Harvey has already drawn generosity from America and the world…

Just consider the donation. the battle with MD goes on with or without national focus. It’s just going to be a dimmer battle without Lewis at the helm.

The MDA donation page can be found here.


A profound message in the age of grand divide

“You know, if every person watching this show — I don’t want to get too serious, but there are millions and millions of people watching right now — and if every one of you took a minute to reach out to one person you disagree with, someone you like, and have a positive, considerate conversation — not as liberals or conservatives, as Americans — if we could all do that, we can make America great again. We really could. It starts with us.”
Jimmy Kimmel in his monologue to start the 2017 Academy Awards

If Jimmy wrote this or someone else, he hit it out of the park in my humble opinion. The American populous has been greater than political rhetoric and intollerance before. It can do it again… But that’s up to us – the general American population – to do it.

To be socially parted by partisanship, by race, creed, color, gender, sexual preference, religious beliefs… That’s not America. We may all want the country to go down another route but the most important path for all is down the middle.

The Late Shift Two

Dear Jay Leno:

You knew for FIVE years you were losing your late-night gig. Then you pushed anyway to remain on TV in a later-evening fashion. I do not buy into the “not my fault” “everyone’s angry” bullshit coming from you. I buy into you being happy being paid, and no matter who gets hurt, Jay comes out on top.

For the record, I stand with Conan O’Brien. Where he goes, what he does — I’ll support him.

And as for Jay Leno? His humor has never worked for me – stand up, or as a variety show host. NBC shot themselves in the foot keeping him out of fear about what he’d do with a rival. They ruined their own late night schedule because of it.

The Stand and the hyper-sensationalism of Swine Flu

I’ve had “Don’t Fear the Reaper” in my mind lately, with the song wailing and images of the corpses throughout that military installation where the made-for-TV version of Stephen King’s epic, The Stand, starts.

That had nothing to do with the news that has been buzzing around lately. Odd coincidence, though…

I guess it was when a friend on Facebook posted this status that I really woke up to it:

looks like captain tripps does exist!!! awesome!!!

Ah yes, “Captain Tripps” — the nickname for King’s super-flu from The Stand. What’s next? Corin Nemec joining Fox News coverage, staking out the Center for Disease control and trying to insinuate this is all the Democratic Party’s fault? (Corin Nemec, for those who don’t understand the reference, played Harold Lauder: outcast-nerd-turned-turncoat; in the miniseries. He also used to be Parker Lewis. “Not a problem. ?”)

Anyway, forget The Stand for a minute and let’s just go back to the sensationalism of the coverage of the Flu. From what reports would have you believe, death-rates are high (like 10%+) and we’re all screwed. Joe Biden didn’t help things this morning by stating public caution.

But really, I wish people would just stop watching TV coverage of this and just become aware of the facts and just go about their lives. The flu sucks and is known to be deadly… But unless people start showing severe symptoms and start dropping dead in mass in New York instead of showing only mild symptoms… Well, it’s a panic that seems straight out of a work of fiction.

…And to be honest, King’s work of fiction was a lot better than the news coverage we are seeing in reality.

Let me point to it again — read the articles here. If you only want to spend time reading a single article, read the fourth in that series. And calm the hell down!

A fifth of “Entourage”

(editors note, a lot of the questions that I have still remain unanswered from last season. I gotta wonder if they will be covered this time around. Some of those questions are re-hashed here)

Lets Blog it Out! went ahead and reported several weeks ago (to much rejoicing from this writer) that Entourage, season Five, kicks off on September 7th. With that in mind, I gotta wonder just what is in store for the Boys this time around?

Season 4 and 1/2 didn’t exactly wow me from the start to the end — the faux documentary a-la The Office that chronicled the filming of Medellin just seemed blah. The whole Anna Faris thing was just too out-there (even though Eric having a career is important). But here we are with Season #5 and let me throw out some questions going into the new season:

  1. Is Johnny Drama still tied to his French connection? — Going at it on the Riviera at Cannes was manifique! for the most hard-luck member of the group. My question is, was it really love and how will it play out in season Five? Or was it just another promiscuous-yet-embellished encounter for Mr. John Chase?
  2. What will partake in the war over the Medellin edit? — So Harvey now owns Medellin after purchasing it for a buck… I would think that the edit will cause warfare between director Billy Walsh, the cast (Vinny, Johnny particularly), the producer (Eric), Harvey and the guy that oversees and contributes to all the anarchy: Ari Gold. This is the most obvious driving force going into Season Five…
  3. Eric’s relationship status: will the sap stud again? — Eric and Sloan are kaput as we learned post-Medellin (and I am not going to be surprised when Seth Green ends up revealed as Sloan’s new beau). The question is, will the serious man hook up in a relationship again? One of my questions from last season still stands as well with Eric: Will Tori come into play again?
  4. What’s the deal with Vincent Chase’s career? — Vinny has had one big hit. One. His passion project (Queens Boulevard) was buried, his creative lsut (Medellin) tanked at Canes and he is hurting financially without a payday. He’s living in Johnny’s condo last time we saw him and though he has another project lined up — he may have lost it after everyone saw how much of a dud Medellin’s current version is.
  5. Will Turtle get back in the music Biz? — I keep overlooking Turtle. Where Turtle goes, so goes the group… If he doesn’t have a story line besides the “Day f—ers” again this time around, fans are in trouble)
  6. Will they unveil Mrs. Ari’s name? Or Turtle’s? — Technically, Mrs. Ari’s name has already been revealed in a previous episode (Terrance addressed her by a name in season 3) but the name “Mrs. Ari” persisted, making the issue still in doubt. Unless they are going to bring her up by the name Terrance (Malcom McDowell’s character) used, they might as well throw us a curve ball and have her named something ridiculous — thus ensuing the nickname game. Meanwhile, Turtle and more backstory is still missing. Big chance to cover that (huge!) in relation to the revelation of his name.

So many questions, so little time (these HBO seasons just don’t last that long). Will we get some answers or do we have to wait even longer?

Badda Boom; “The Sopranos” swan-song

OK, just HOW is “The Soprano’s” going to end? Steve Silver offers a few ideas…

Hat tip to Eric at Off Wing

Another day, another rant: Defending “The Daily Show”

There was an editorial story about the Daily Show with Jon Stewart that was published in the St. Petersburg Times on Monday. In this little article they suggested the Daily Show was actually hurting the country because of it’s cynism was discouraging America’s youth and convincing us that we shouldn’t vote.


Everyone I know — young and old — make the Daily Show with Jon Stewart part of their daily regimen (or at least catch it as often as they can). Are they turned off to voting? Hell no. Are they turned off to politics? Hell no.

The Daily Show isn’t enlightening, but in it’s cynical and ironic takes on the news, it does something that the major media outlets fail to do — it asks questions and shows the obvious flaws of those in control of the country (and sometimes the colorful nature of the country itself). It also shows the gullibility of our leadership and the failings of those in power to reach out to America’s youth as well as inspire us.

Johnny got pissed off so Johnny wrote a letter to the Editor. It was published today.

Daily Show’ is not a detriment’

Re: Is “The Daily Show” bad for democracy?

What’s this now? Jon Stewart and his crew of reporters are turning off youth with their irony, cynicism and sarcasm concerning the antics of our elected officials?

I find it hilarious that the article in question thinks so little of the youth of America. We’re a generation of people whom elected officials tend to ignore and brush off. We’re a generation of Americans who have grown up through scandal after scandal (Iran-Contra, the S&L fallout, Whitewater, Monica Lewinsky, 9/11 failings, Valerie Plame, etc.) and the article in question thinks that a TV show with a humorous take on the sorry state of affairs in this country is detrimental to democracy?

No, sir. What’s detrimental to democracy is how little the older generations – especially the one in control – inspire the rest of us. It’s detrimental that the Daily Show, which bills itself as “fake news,” has been more biting and investigative than the mainstream media for the past six years.

John Fontana, Palm Harbor

Jon Stewart, Rob Corddry, Samantha Bee, Ed Helms and Jason Jones would have a field day with this letter — not one zinger, not one barb and not one instance of inserting the out-of-place-question-for-the-sake-of-humor that the Daily Show does so well.

The Many Sides of Nathan Fillion

I’m watching the Joss Whedon TV Series Firefly on DVD at current… This was after having to plain give up on the Serenity movie after 7 minutes of confusion while watching it. Serenity definitely needs to be watched only by those who have some clue about the Television show and the characters involved.

That being said, I’ve also been trying to grapple with all of the characters and people Nathan Fillion‘s captain Malcom Reynolds reminds me of while I watch.

When you first watch the series and see that it’s a space opera, this is a sarcastic, treacherous scoundrel who is living and flying job-to-job… You think of what any Sci-Fi fan would think and find Reynolds to be Han Solo‘s reincarnations….

But hold the phone, folks… There’s the earth-bound loyalty, no-holds-barred “we gotta get through this situation” type aura to Reynolds as well. He can be witty while relentless, he’s a soldier and a schemer in the same breath… But that loyalty to his crew – however pissed off he is at them or not – reminds me squarely of Tommy Lee Jones portrayal of Deputy Samuel Gerard in The Fugitive and US Marshalls.

Then there is Fillion himself. He’s joked about being given roles time and again to play a man of the cloth but the actor he reminds me most of in his mannerisms is Dennis Quaid — or Captain Tuck Pendelton from Innerspace to be more exact.

Pretty well rounded character if you ask me. Just don’t ask me to comment on “Animal Mother IN Space / Jayne Cobb” played by Adam Baldwin.