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The reality of airwaves


Last updated 7/13/2010 at Noon

I always hear doctors and nurses say Hollywood can’t get it right on medical dramas in movies and television shows; lawyers tell me the same thing.

I myself have noticed this over the years about the newspaper business.

So I’ve compiled this list concerning Tinseltown’s version of media outlets.

1. “Kolchak: The Night Stalker” – This show ran for a couple of years on ABC in the ‘70s. Carl Kolchak (Darren McGavin) hunted vampires, extraterrestrials, Louisiana bayou legends and even a secret government robot gone haywire.

• Similarities to real life: Kolchak had a grouchy editor; Carl dressed tacky and was often harassed by police.

• Way you can tell it’s a show: Reporters rarely hunt vampires unless they’re at a city council meeting, or work for the Bermuda Triangle Gazette or Bigfoot Express-News.

2. “Lou Grant” – Life at a big city paper starring Ed Asner.

• Similarities to real life: Photographer dressed in weird flack jacket to carry all his lenses; editorial staff had meetings each morning.

• Way to tell it’s a show: In real life nothing ever gets accomplished at editorial meetings; Lou never had to do circulation’s job for them because the entire department was incompetent.

3. “My Favorite Martian” – Ray Walston played a crazy guy from Mars always getting his “nephew” reporter Tim (Bill Bixby) in trouble. (Wouldn’t it have been cool if Kolchak and Uncle Martin had met up?)

• Similarities to real life: None, Tim never did any work and was rarely at his newspaper.

• Way you can tell it’s a show: Tim didn’t have to worry about downsizing.

4. ”All the President’s Men” – Woodward and Bernstein bring down Nixon.

• Similarities to real life: The typing looks very convincing.

• Way to tell it’s a show: Redford and Hoffman’s movie star looks; they never have to change a page for late ads coming in at 9 p.m., even though the ad department’s deadline was noon.

5. “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” – Asner first played Lou Grant as news director of WJM.

• Similarities to real life: Lou was grouchy; Ted the anchor stupid; humor often a part of newsroom banter; people always throw their caps in the air when happy; everyone except Ted gets fired on last episode when a new station manager takes over.

• Way you can tell it’s a show: The credits at the end – with that meowing cat.

[E-mail Robert Hankins at]


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