Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Quick Hits For November 11, 2009, or "Beauties and The Greek"

Phyllis George

1. Did you ever use the self checkout at supermarkets or discount store, and get into an argument with the disembodied Voice that's "instructing" you what to do next? It happened to me this afternoon- and I lost. I really thought The Voice was being condescending and I sent an email to the store manager. I just hope there's a Voice with a better attitude next time I use that self scanner.

2. I don't care if its on ESPN. Poker is NOT a sport.

3. And neither are dog shows.

4. However...speaking of ESPN and poker...kudos to ESPN and their 30 for 30 series of sports documentaries. They never cease to impress. This week's entry was The Legend of Jimmy the Greek. I feel sorry for those who are too young to remember or had never seen or heard legendary members of the sports landscape like Howard Cosell or Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder. Jimmy was an oddsmaker who's appearances on the 1970's and '80's iconic version of CBS's The NFL Today took sports betting out of the back room and gave it a sort of legitimacy in America's living rooms. He was a larger than life figure, who's rise and sad downfall are chronicled in this film by director Fritz Mitchell.

The film has remembrances by cohorts Brent Musburger, Phyllis George, and Irv Cross, as well as friends like Miami radio and TV personality Hank Goldberg. The Greek was from Steubenville, Ohio, where one of his boyhood neighbors was one young Dino Crocetti, better known as Dean Martin.

(An Update 11/12/09- I was checking out some of the search queries and some people wanted to know more about the Dean Martin-Jimmy The Greek connection. They indeed did know each other back in Steubenville from childhood. WFAN radio's Mike Francesa, who used to work for Jimmy on THE NFL TODAY, took it a step further. On his radio show Mike told his audience that Jimmy once told him that young Dino used to beat up the even younger Jimmy on a regular basis when they were kids. If that was the case you could say they knew each other- intimately. And if it was an embellishment by The Greek, its still a helluva good story.)

And the poker connection? Jimmy emceed the very first WORLD SERIES OF POKER on TV.....way back in the early 1970's!

5. More on Jimmy The Greek. Here's an audio podcast from WFAN's Mike Francesa in New York talking to former NFL TODAY producer George Veras about life with Jimmy. Mike worked for Jimmy the Greek in the early days of the NFL TODAY, and was kind of a go'fer for The Greek when he was a kid. A GREAT listen. Give it a few minutes, its very revealing. You think Indian casinos are a recent phenomenon? Jimmy was on to it years before it happened.

6. Still more on The Greek, and original NFL Today on CBS. On ESPN"s Monday Night Countdown the old CBS crew of Brent Musburger, Phyllis George, and Irv Cross made a return in a remarkable recreation of the old show's opening moments. Joining them are current co-hosts Chris Berman and Tom Jackson.

7. And just to prove the theory of SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION- even in an obscure part of the blogesphere of which I am The Lord and Master- did I mention that the aforementioned Phyllis George was Miss America, 1971, and was at one time the First Lady of Kentucky? Well, youngin' you know. Which leads us (drumroll please!) to a former Miss West Virginia.

Kim Parrish, former QVCer, HSNer, and current fashion designer and children's author moves on to ShopNBC on Friday the 13th (11/13 7-9 PM EST) with her latest creations from The Kim Parrish Collection. I don't think the rumor that this Renaissance woman has taken up ice sculpture is true- being that she will now be working in the Twin Cities- but its early. I'll check with Linda the Homeshoppingista...she'll know.

And throwing in this little "reminder" gives me the excuse to post that incredible head shot.

8. And speaking of ShopNBC's corporate sister NBC, the latest skinny is that the ratings for the Jay Leno Show are sinking faster than a rock. It looks like this "great experiment' might be failing- big time. NBC didn't want to lose Leno to a rival network, and thought it could save money over ordering scripted series by giving Jay the 10-11 PM block Monday thru Friday....but it seems to be a concept that wasn't really well thought out by all involved. There have been rumors that local affiliates aren't happy with the situation, and are seeing ratings for their 11PM news hurt by a poor lead in from Leno.

Personally, I was trying to think about when the last time I watched NBC for anything other than SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL. And that was probably the ER finale last spring. The once formidable Thursday night juggernaut that lasted for close to two decades is long gone, the LAW and ORDER franchise jumped the shark when (pick one) Jerry Orbach or Jesse L. Martin left the show, and the reality program they have is less than real.

That's one fading peacock they've got there.

9. The "joy" of living in New Jersey. Just when you think its safe to put the TV back on because the election for governor in New Jersey is all over and there won't be any political ads for awhile, guess again. New York's governor David Patterson has started his ad campaign last week. If the CIA needs something to get the Al Qaeda detainees to talk, just let watch the political ads we're bombarded with nonstop. They'll flip....and probably give up Mom and Dad as well.

10. In's a "thank you" shout out to all veterans past and present. If you haven't done anything yet to show your appreciation to our men and women in uniform, please do so. They like to hear it (trust me, many moons ago I was one of them)....and they deserve it.

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