Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Thank You, Bob Schieffer

According to various news outlets, CBS newsman Bob Schieffer, who has anchored Face the Nation since 1991, said Tuesday he plans to step down from the Sunday morning political talk show with the inauguration of a new president.

The start of a new administration next January provides a natural transition, he said.

"That's when I'll stop doing what I'm doing now," Schieffer, who turns 71 next month, told The Associated Press. "But I'll still have some relationship with CBS, at least I hope so."

Schieffer has talked retirement before. The bladder cancer survivor once planned to step down when he reached 70, but he spent a year and a half filling in as CBS Evening News anchor between the exit of Dan Rather and entrance of Katie Couric. He helped improve the ratings, got good reviews and enjoyed a chance at the top job that he never thought he'd have.

Since Couric's CBS debut in the fall of 2006, Schieffer has stopped commuting to New York and concentrated on the Nation. Also since Couric's debut on the CBS Evening News, the show has faltered terribly in the ratings.

In my view, and as I have stated several times in the past, it was a mistake for CBS to replace Schieffer with Couric. I tried to tell everybody that, but no one listened. Schieffer deftly contributed an old-school, professional style to the network news troph, and he was awesome; purely awesome. In his wake, Couric transferred her sarcastic, meanie-face post from NBC's Today Show - and brought it CBS prime-time.

She was the wrong choice from the get-go, and remains so. Though she is all the richer for it, we are none the wiser.

Moral of this news story?

It's the same moral for any story:

Know a good thing when you see it.

That said, good night and good luck, Mr. Schieffer. And thank you for everything. You are a credit to your profession and to everyone's humanity.

Ms. Couric and her CBS News cronie decision makers?

Not so much.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What If Woody Allen Ran The World?

If I were African-American would I vote for Obama? If I were a woman would I vote for Hillary? If I were an Republican Italian would I vote for Guiliani?

How about just voting for the right man or woman for the job?

What happened to that?

What happened to integrity? What happened to keeping your head while the world loses theirs? Or mature adults not resorting to name-calling? Obama and Hillary don't seem to know squat about any of that.

What do I look for in a leader? A president? A boss?

Someone stable. Someone who remains calm in the eye of the storm. Someone I could admire. Someone who doesn't place fear in my heart or in the conscience of my country or my planet. Someone who believes in uniting the world through diplomacy and not dividing it by war. Battles, be they between hemispheres or individuals solve nothing but falsely inflate failing economies that were initially destroyed by their leaders to suit and sustain personal needs or class-levels.

It's hard not to judge the personal lives of any candidate - just as easy it is to condemn the ignorance of say, Woody Allen, who wedded and continues to bed his step-daughter. Though I choose not to support his talent nor his art, and certainly do not condone his extremely poor choices for lovers, that does not make him a bad director. In fact, as a director and a writer - and to some extent, an actor - he's quite superior. Unfortunately, off the set, he's a mentally-challenged human being who clearly never received proper counseling.

At least we have one thing for which to be grateful:

Woody Allen is not running for president. Yet considering the alternatives, he might just as well be. In effect, Woody may do a better job of "directing" the country than the seemingly-sane, inter-outer-party-fighting, name-calling cry-babies and alleged "leaders" named Obama, Hillary and Guiliani.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Embrace The Elegant Aroma of "The Russell Girl"

Just when I think there's no hope for new TV, something comes along as brilliant, pristine and poignant like The Hallmark Hall of Fame's The Russell Girl, which aired on CBS last night.

Starring the now-young adult Amber Tamblyn (late of the great Joan of Arcadia, and the daughter of West Side Story's Russ Tamblyn), the Russell special plays like such a piece of real life, I thought it was holodecked right into my living room.

Tamblyn portrays Sarah Russell, a young buyer for a clothier with aspirations of medical school. Suddenly, however, she's stricken with lukemia - life-altering news that sends her packing for home, which doesn't necessarily hold the comfort and support one would require at such a time. No, at least not from the Russell's neighbors from across the street. There's a serious issue involving the Morrisey family, guided by solid parental performances from Meryle-Streep-look-a-like Jennifer Ehle and Henry Czerny. Rounding out the graceful cast is Tim DeKay and an extremely vibrant Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Tamblyn's parents.

Without giving too much away (the film goes to DVD on February 1st), young Sarah's past holds much trauma. When coupled with the present tragic news of her failing health, the situation is metted to maudlin on a whole new level. And yet, that's just it, The Russell Girl is far from maudlin. The dialogue is so sparse and crisp then when spoken there's no need for silly background music which, more times than not, accompanies every frame in what turns out to be sappy TV shows and movies (i.e. 7th Heaven).

No need for such sophmoric ploys here. Instead, The Russell Girl (and everyone associated with it, behind and in front of the camera) - comes out smelling like a rose.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Live Your A-Life - and Let Your Light SHINE!

Live not your life in mediocrity - live it to the fullest at whatever stage you be.

You want your own TV show? Then you should have it. Have a great idea for a new household product? Then you should develop it. Want to create your own field of dreams? Then you should build it.

But don't wait around for others to encourage you. Encourage yourself. Don't wait for investors to invest in your idea before you move forward. Invest in it yourself. The time has come for you to live your A-Life. If you want to teach, then teach. If you want to serve, then serve. If you want to sweep floors, then sweep - but make it a clean sweep - and teach with integrity and serve with dignity.

Do all you can do with the life skills that you were created with, and that which you developed since birth. Scold not others, nor sit in judgment of them. Allow the layers of weariness to fall off you, and melt to the wayside as you march on towards your path of self-fulfillment. Become a magnet of success, have everything you touch turn to gold - and then turn around and share your wealth, be it of mind, heart or pocketbook.

Become a Beacon of Light to which others run not walk. Open your soul, and be generous with your spirit. You will be blessed because of it - because you have chosen to live your A-Life and to let your Light shine.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Hidden Britney Signs of Heath Ledger

Heath Ledger's slow and yet sudden death was and remains tragic.

Britney Spears' downfall is salvagable, as long as she remains alive.

Britney's troubled signs are clear.

Heath's were not so clarified - at least not for the general public and media.

In my personal perspective, however, something never seemed right. His hair was always greasy-looking; he looked pale, ever anxious, sweaty. And the next time I notice such traits in a public figure, family member or friend, I'm calling them on it...doing so just may save their lives.

That's why I commend Dr. Phil for making the effort to communicate and serve as a liaison of light for the Spears family. A lot of people had issues with Dr. Phil's actions. But I didn't. He did what he thought was right. He stepped up to the plate - and he was crucified - which of course reminds us of how much Jesus the Christ suffered. Whether or not it was the Christians or the Jews who were responsible for his death, the point is: nobody stopped it from happening. At least Dr. Phil was attempting to prevent Britney's death. Nobody else seemed too concerned with doing that - even with the transparent signs of Britney's slow potential suicide.

But again, what about those like Heath Ledger? We had not heard anything about him on or Entertainment Tonight since last spring, really - when he split with actress Michelle Williams - the lovely mother of his child, and the co-star of the groundbreaking Brokeback Mountain. Other than his been cast as The Joker in the upcoming Batman feature film sequel, The Dark Knight, the Heath Ledger rumor mill was silent and calm. Until just a few days ago.

While we were all worried about Britney, Heath's life and death snuck up on us, and hit us hard. We expected the unfortunate demise of Britney - and I pray she leaves this world, at peace, way into her 90s.

But we didn't foresee Heath's passing - and if we did, would we have somehow prevented it?

I didn't - even after I sensed something was wrong.

That all said, Britney Spears is still alive - and so are a billion more of us on this planet.

Let's all work together in loving kindness and awareness to keep it that way.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Pleshette ("The Bob Newhart Show") Is Dead

Suzanne Pleshette, who portrayed Bob Newhart's ground-breaking, wise-cracking, raspy-voiced spouse on TV's classic Bob Newhart Show (CBS, 1972-77), succumbed to lung cancer on Saturday, January 19, at the much too-young an age of 70.

Pleshette's Emily Hartley was a hip and hot TV wife - much different from what say, Florenece Henderson's Carol Brady was or maybe wanted to be on The Brady Bunch (ABC, 1969-73).

A stage-trained New York thespian who made her feature film debut in the 1958 Jerry Lewis laugher The Geisha Boy, Suzanne appeared in movies like The Birds, Nevada Smith, Youngblood Hawke, A Rage to Live and Fate Is the Hunter. She also appeared with Troy Donahue, to whom she was wed for eight months in 1964, in the 1962 romantic drama Rome Adventure and the 1964 western A Distant Trumpet. On Broadway in 1961, Pleshette replaced Anne Bancroft as Annie Sullivan in The Miracle Worker," opposite Patty Duke as Helen Keller. On TV, she earned an Emmy Award nomination for the title role in the TV movie Leona Helmsley: The Queen of Mean. Her other credits, include the big screen's 40 Pounds of Trouble, If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium, Support Your Local Gunfighter, The Shaggy D.A., The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin, The Ugly Dachshund and Blackbeard's Ghost.

Pleshette, however, is best remembered for playing what New York Times critic Frank Rich once described as "the sensible yet woolly wife" on the Newhart, the star of which once appeared with her on The Tonight Show shortly before they were paired in the sitcom. A few of the Newhart producers had seen the segment and knew right away that they had found their Emily.

Pleshette earned her two Emmy nominations for the role and, according to a TV Guide article, Bob Newhart "was finding himself outtalked by Suzanne on the set about 12 to 1 but professed to be unperturbed by the phenomenon." "I don't tangle," the actor said, "with any lady who didn't give Johnny a chance to exercise his mouth - even to sneer - for 10 whole minutes."

When Bob returned to TV with yet another sitcom, this one simply titled, Newhart (CBS, 1982-90 - and which also starred Pleshette's then-yet-to-be-husband Tom Poston), he found a new small screen spouse in the guise of by Mary Frann (who passed away in 1998). But Pleshette made a memorable surprise guest shot in this Newhart's series finale - a motion that did not bode well with Frann.

Yet, somehow that all fit with Pleshette's gutzy persona.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Brady's Butcher Sam Passes Away

According to various reports in the media, character actor Allan Melvin, best known for playing Sam the Butcher on The Brady Bunch, has passsed way at the age of 84. As his wife of 64-years Amelia Melvin told The Associated Press, Allan succombed to cancer Thursday at his home in the Brentwood section of L.A.

The thespian made a career of playhing sidekicks, second bananas and lovable goofs, including Archie Bunker's friend Barney Hefner on All in the Family, and Sgt. Bilko's right-hand man Cpl. Henshaw on the The Phil Silvers Show. But his spot in pop-culture history is forever fixed as butcher and bowler Sam Franklin, the love interest of Brady family maid Alice Nelson, who was played by Ann B. Davis. Melvin played the role from 1970 to 1973.

Born in Kansas City, Mo., in 1923, Melvin grew up in New York and attended Columbia University. He was appearing on Broadway in Stalag 17 when he began his decades-long television career with the Silvers program, playing a role his wife said was always his favorite.

"He was proudest of that show," Amalia Melvin said. "I think the camaraderie of all those guys made it such a pleasant way to work. They were so relaxed."He saw steady employment as a voice actor from the early 1960s to the early 1990s, most famously providing the voice of Magilla Gorilla for the Hanna Barbera cartoon of the same name. His other credits include several guest appearances on The Andy Griffith Show, 'Gomer Pyle: USMC, and The Dick Van Dyke Show.

In addition to Amalia, Melvin, who unfortunately never made it into any of the Brady TV movies, sitcoms or feature film sequels to the original series, is survived by daughter Jennifer Hanson and grandson Jon Hanson Jr. A daughter, Mya, died in 1970.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

HJ Pilato @ the Henrietta Borders Books & Music On Saturday, January 19th

Please join me this Saturday,
January 19th
2 PM
@ Borders Books & Music
in Henrietta,
where I will be signing copies of

The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman Reconstructed


TV's First and Best Family Show of Challenge

Any questions, please contact:

Karen Zurbruegg
Sales Manager
1000 Hylan Drive
Rochester, NY 14623

Otherwise, see you then!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Herbie J Pilato @ Barnes & Noble In Greece

Please join me for a Book/DVD Signing and Discussion






The First Season TV DVDs of





(all on which I served as a consultant & on-screen commentator)

Saturday, January 12th
2 PM
The Mall at Greece Ridge
Greece, New York

Any questions, please contact:

Rebecca Budinger
Community Relations Manager
Barnes & Noble
330 Greece Ridge Center Drive
Greece, NY 14626

Thursday, January 10, 2008

An Entertaining Evening With Herbie J Pilato

I'll be performing tonight in a show at the Crimson Ridge facility in Greece, New York.

It's called An Entertaining Evening with Herbie J Pilato.

The performance starts 6:30 PM, and runs for an hour.

There'll be some media history, a few songs, some jokes - and hopefully a lot of joy.

For more information, feel free to contact me via email or by phone at: and/or 585.544.8094.

For more information about Crimson Ridge, please click on the link below.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

HJ Pilato's Media Arts & Performance Seminar at the Highlands at Pittsford

I will be offering one of my Master Key Media Seminars today at the beautiful senior community called The Highlands at Pittsford, in Pittsford, New York.

This particular seminar, entitled, The Media Arts & Performance Seminar, will take place tonight between 7 and 8:30 PM in the Highlands Music Room

As with all of my Master Key Media Seminars, this event will help to enhance self-esteem, positive thinking, and personal communications for all of the participants, and offers a self-help like pathway to success in every area of life. Participants will be introduced to the general concepts of what it requires to act in, write, produce and direct a television show, feature film and stage play.

For more information about my Master Key Media Seminars, please feel free to contact me via email or by phone at: and/or 585.544.8094.

For more information about The Highlands at Pittsford, please click on the link below.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Is HJ Pilato the Semi-Reincarnate of JH Pilates?

He was a dancer. I am a dancer.

His middle name is "Hubertus". My first formal name is "Herbert".

Though Hubertus died in 1967, and Herbie J was born in 1960, something, somehow must have carried over via the ethers.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Elizabeth's "Twitch" Upon A Star Is Cemented

As reported by various media outlets, Bewitched star Elizabeth Montgomery finally received her long-overdue star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Friday, January 4th.

Those in attendence of the ceremony included her former husband and Bewitched producer/director Bill Asher, her children Rebecca and Billy Asher, Jr., Bewitched stars Erin Murphy (Tabitha) and Bernard Fox (Dr. Bombay), good friend and actress Liz Sheridan (Mrs. Seinfeld on Seinfeld), and widower Robert Foxworth (Falcon Crest, Gene Roddenberry's Questor).

As Hollywood mayor Johnny Grant said during the festivities, it was a great tribute to Elizabeth that there were so many family, friends and fans who were in attendence.

For photos and video of the, please visit the link below (via Bewitched website

Friday, January 04, 2008

Herbie J @ Barnes & Noble and Borders in January

Please join me for Book/DVD Signings
The First Season TV DVDs of
(all on which I served as a consultant & on-screen commentator)
Saturday, January 12th
2 PM
(in Greece, New York)
Saturday, January 19th
2 PM
(in Henrietta, New York)

Any questions, please contact:
Rebecca Budinger
Community Relations Manager
Barnes & Noble
330 Greece Ridge Center Drive
Rochester, NY 14626
Ph: 585-227-1495
Fax: 585-227-4220
Karen Zurbruegg
Sales Manager
1000 Hylan DriveRochester, NY 14623
Ph: 585.292.5900
Fax: 585.292.1485
Meanwhile, too - check out these links:
HJP in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle