The MediaLog MediaFix: Local Cleveland Newscast from 1977

The three clips in this MediaFix, viewed in order (top to bottom), comprise the entire late-evening local newscast from Cleveland television station WJKW for September 2, 1977. Quite apart from its news content, the newscast is a fascinating example of how local news was presented in the late-1970s, sort of the media equivalent of a prehistoric insect preserved in amber.

From the hairstyles and clothing styles of the anchors (including a female weatherperson) and the chromakey backdrop for the news set to the vertically-sliding weather charts (in a pre-computer graphics era) and use of motion picture film for some of the news reports, the program seems quaint now but serves as a valuable example of the contemporary norms of local news and of the evolution that this kind of broadcast has gone through in the thirty years since. Interesting too is the report on gas prices which expresses relief that rates are back down around the 60 cents per gallon range (!) and the newscast-ending editorial, a kind of segment that is virtually never seen anymore, especially at the local level. With commercials not included, the entire length of the newscast runs about 22-23 minutes, and it's worth the time to get a glimpse of news presentation from this past era.

(Video source: YouTube)


O'Donnell Unlikely Host for "Price is Right"

Much has been made in the last week or so about Rosie O'Donnell, newly unemployed due to her hasty exit from "The View" in May, having interest--and longtime host Bob Barker's endorsement--in being the new host for "The Price is Right." James Poniewozik, "Time" magazine's TV critic, commented on O'Donnell's prospects today on his blog "Tuned In." "USA Today" also featured a short piece in today's edition on the possibility of O'Donnell hosting "Price." The "USA Today" piece offers quotes from O'Donnell's blog in which she claims to love the game show and from Barker in which he says O'Donnell's knowledge of the show would make her a good host.

With all due respect to the recently retired Barker, I beg to disagree. O'Donnell would be a horrible host for "Price." Whatever one thinks of O'Donnell (and my sense is that most people either love her or hate her, with little middle ground--although personally I am merely ambivalent), her personality type and public persona is entirely out of place for the hosting job of "Price is Right." Any show that O'Donnell has been a regular on has been all about her: her eponymous daytime talk show was certainly so, as was her brief stint moderating "The View." On these programs, her self-centeredness was both appropriate and a strength. For several years, she reigned as the "Queen of Nice" due to the engagement and quirkiness she demonstrated on her daytime talk show. More recently (and after her exit from the closet as a lesbian), her transformed, less-nice persona--which includes an easily riled contentiousness--was on view on "The View," where her one-year stint as moderator helped to carry the show through its post-Meredith Vieira transition.

These qualities that made her a great daytime talk show host and moderator would make her a horrible daytime game show host, especially for "The Price is Right." O'Donnell would be tempted to indulge in self-centered banter and misplaced commentary while hosting "Price," which requires a fast-paced job of emceeing and a host who subordinates his or herself to the pricing games at hand. If allowed to indulge in this way, O'Donnell would wreck the show's timing, and if restrained from such indulgences, she would likely get quickly bored and testy with the gig. Her pre-existing public persona and reputation can do nothing but damage "Price"; Bob Barker became so beloved as the game show's host because his identity as such was (almost) the only thing for which audiences knew him.

Finally, I think that the producers and network for "The Price is Right" have no intention of looking at O'Donnell seriously as "Price" host, for all of the reasons I have detailed. Her flirtation with the job is just that: her flirtation, one that is going to be disregarded by those making the decision on the next "Price is Right" host. And as for Barker's endorsement, James Poniewozik of "Time" succinctly summarizes how much import that holds by reminding us that David Letterman was Johnny Carson's choice of replacement when he retired from "The Tonight Show," and most people know what happened in that case.