Category Archives: entertainment news

Et tu, Dr. Huxtable?

This cannot be happening to one of America’s most iconic entertainers.

Then again …

Bill Cosby has been accused by at least three women of sexual assault. His lawyer denies the allegations. Meanwhile, one television network, NBC, and an online entertainment provider, Netflix, have cancelled planned projects involving Cosby.

What in the name of all that is holy is going on here?

I believe we are seeing a case of the backlash hurting at least as much as the initial slap.

The allegations need to be proven and Cosby is entitled to the presumption of innocence. NBC and Netflix have been quick to distance themselves from the one-time Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, a character Cosby portrayed on the acclaimed series “The Cosby Show.”

In that show, Dr. Huxtable became the standard bearer for family men across the nation, rearing a boisterous family along with his equally successful wife, portrayed by Phylicia Rashad. More to the point, Cosby’s character became an important role model for African-American men, many of whom forsake their fatherly duties once they learn that a child is on his or her way.

I do hope these allegations lead to nowhere. However, hope by itself won’t make it so.

My fears are leading me to suspect something else might be about to transpire.


Three cheers for public television!

Public television deserves a serious shout-out.

So I’m going to give it one today. There will be more to come as situations arise.

I’ve just watched a magnificent 14-hour documentary special broadcast on Panhandle PBS, the Texas Panhandle’s public television affiliate. It was titled “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History.” It is available online at — and I encourage readers of this blog to look at it if they didn’t watch it when it aired this past week.

(In the interest full disclosure, I must mention that I blogged daily on the “The Roosevelts” for Panhandle PBS. The blog, “A Public View,” can be found at — but hey, I digress. Back to the subject at hand.)

Why the shout-out?

Well, public TV occasionally surfaces as a target of political conservatives who have this idea that public money need not fund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, or the Public Broadcasting Service. They see PBS as some kind of propaganda tool — which it most assuredly is not!

“The Roosevelts” special was produced by Ken Burns, arguably the nation’s foremost documentary filmmaker. His list of acclaimed specials is getting too long to mention here. I’ll bring up one: “The Dust Bowl.” It aired in 2013 and told the story of humanity’s worst manmade ecological disaster. What’s more, it was centered right here, in the Panhandle and in the Oklahoma Panhandle. Burns’s special hit this region right in the gut, as many now-elderly residents recalled the terrible events of that era.

Burns delivered the goods once again with “The Roosevelts.” It told in intimate detail the struggles of this remarkable political family, centering on Theodore Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt. They were all kin to each other, even though Franklin and Eleanor were husband and wife as well.

This is the kind of programming that the public needs to fund with public money.

You want educational television devoid of tacky commercials? That’s what public television provides us.

It’s also why the opposition to public television funding is ridiculous on its face.

Give me more of it.

'Role model' definition needs some work

There once was a time when I disagreed completely with Charles Barkley’s assertion that “I am not a role model.”

The events of the past few weeks involving some high-profile professional athletes are making me put that comment in an entirely new perspective. Role models? Probably not. Ambassadors? Yes.

The pro football players who have been caught up in cases involving domestic violence and child abuse are facing criminal charges. Barkley, to the best of my recollection, never got ensnared in criminal activity while he was playing professional basketball. He said some strange things and behaved a bit boorishly at times. He could play a great game of basketball, for which he was compensated handsomely.

The activity under scrutiny these days is quite different. It involves the law and whether highly paid professional athletes have broken certain laws that prohibit the abuse of children or committing acts of violence on another human being.

As I re-watched Barkley’s video, he said something that rings so true. The real “role models” in children’s lives are their parents. “Just because I can dunk a basketball,” Barkley said, “doesn’t mean I can raise your kids.”

I cannot pretend to know what kind of childhood the men involved in these recent cases of alleged criminal activity had. One of the pro football players, Ray Rice, apologized for hitting his then-fiancée by saying he was raised by his single mother and that his behavior wasn’t the kind of thing his mom taught him to do.

I’ll accept that.

However, what about the role that these athletes play as ambassadors for the organizations that pay them these huge sums of money? Or the communities they represent when they wear the athletic uniforms that carry the names of the teams?

The role of ambassador should mean something to these guys, their employers and the governing body — in this case the National Football League — that oversees everyone’s conduct.

Rivers was funny, but …

Heresy alert: I’m about to say something that isn’t gushing with praise for the late comedian Joan Rivers.

Rivers could be funny at times. She made fun of herself and her obsession with plastic surgery. She lampooned people mercilessly, a la Don Rickles. She was known to be generous with her time and her show biz wisdom, which she reportedly shared with up-and-coming performers.

But for the life of me I am having difficulty understanding all the adulation that’s being heaped on her in the wake of her death.

She was 81. Rivers had some throat surgery performed and went into cardiac arrest, or so I understand. She was put on life support, then sent home from ICU. And then she died.

I’m said she’s gone. I’m sorry for her daughter and I am sorry for those who idolized her.

But I’m not going to lament the passing of a “comedic legend” or a “genius.” I don’t consider her a particularly innovative comic talent.

Robin Williams? Now there was a genius of the first order.

Well, I’ll get through all these tributes that the broadcast and cable networks are going to air on television. They’ll be heartfelt, I’m sure.

For my money, though, show business still has many more comic geniuses who are still among us.

As for Rivers’s standing among female comedic geniuses, well I’ll just say she will remain a distant second to Carol Burnett.

Rest in peace, Joan Rivers.