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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Sunday, April 20, 2014

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In Movies & TV Commentary

Betty White promoted her "SNL" appearance on NBC's "Today" this week.

In Movies & TV Commentary

Betty White guest-starred on ABC's "The Middle" in March.

In Movies & TV Commentary

"Fish Fry Night Milwaukee" will air again next month.

OnMedia: It's Betty White-mania


You have to admit that the current obsession with Betty White is a little odd.

Yes, she's responsible for one of the best supporting sitcom characters ever. Yes, she's on TV daily in the endless run of "Golden Girls" on cable.

She's a lovable old gal, just naughty enough -- avoiding Cloris Leachman's descent into unpleasant caricature.

But she's hardly the queen of TV comedy. Carol Burnett and Mary Tyler Moore still walk among us. Lucille Ball, of course, pioneered the sitcom.

Betty White, however, is still working steadily.

From the Snicker's commercial that ran during the Super Bowl and helped kick off the White-a-palooza that climaxes with this weekend's "Saturday Night Live" to the big screen's "The Proposal," she seems to be working non-stop.

That, alone, is an achievement for an 88-year-old performer.

NBC's clearly expecting White to be a ratings magnet. The network has been promoting her Mother's Day Eve hosting of "Saturday Night Live" for weeks. And it's likely to work.

As is often the case, TV buzz spawns more TV -- especially of the cable variety. Here are some of the Betty White-related programming coming up:

  • GSN has a "Best of Betty White 'Match Game' marathon from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
  • WE Network has an "It's Saturday Night with Betty White! 'Golden Girls' Marathon from 5 p.m. to midnight Saturday.
  • Biography Channel airs a "Biography" of Betty White at 9 p.m. Tuesday. It's preceded at 7 p.m. by a "Biography" of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."

"The Mary Tyler Moore Show," -- which airs at 11 p.m. Sundays on Me-TV (Channel 49.1 over the air and Channel 19 on Time Warner and Charter Cable -- gave us Betty White's best role, as the man-hungry TV host Sue Ann Nivens.

Here's a sample:

But her TV career hit its first peaks in the 1950s, with a couple of her own shows. Her first TV credit comes from 1949, from a show called "Hollywood on Television.

So you have this as the culmination of a TV career that spans the medium's history.

It is pretty amazing, but what's odd about it is that it's so rare that Americans honor their living treasures.

Let's hope it's the beginning of a trend.

On TV: Why doesn't Harry Connick Jr. have his own show? After his sizable role on Wednesday's "American Idol" it's a question that a lot of people have to be asking. In addition to his singing, he showed an edgy, funny personality that doesn't get enough exposure.

  • Jimmy Kimmel is the latest funny guy to join Twitter. Baby's first tweet: "Yo quiero hacer el amor con Justin Bieber."
  • Craig Kilborn, the first host of "The Daily Show" and the predecessor of Craig Ferguson in the post-David Letterman slot, is launching a half-hour syndicated comedy talk show.
  • Time Warner Cable dropped Mark Cuban's HDNet from its high-def lineup a while ago, and until now there didn't seem like a good reason to start a campaign to get it back. Now that HDNet is planning a "reality" show called "Girls Gone Wild Presents: Search for the Hottest Girl" it's time to start the campaign.

Another serving of "Fish Fry": Milwaukee Public TV has scheduled a second airing of the entertaining "Fish Fry Night Milwaukee" at 9 p.m. June 3 on Channel 10.

You may recall that I campaigned for a second helping of Ron Faiola's look at an intrinsic part of Milwaukee's culture.

The one-hour will be airing as part of a pledge drive, so if you want more programs like that airing, it would be a good time to make your voice heard with a donation.

You can also order a DVD at fishfrynight.com.


Talkbacks

Broner | May 6, 2010 at 3:14 p.m. (report)

If you're referring to Cloris Leachman's role in Beerfest as part of her "descent into unpleasant caricature", I have to disagree with you. She was hilarious in that movie.

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Gene Rayburn | May 6, 2010 at 2:27 p.m. (report)

The driver here might be that Betty White has persevered and comes across as pretty genuine while Lucy, Carol & MTM always seemed pretty snooty & full of themselves. Yes, Harry Connick is an amazing all-around talent, but is loaded, has a hot wife and pretty much does whatever the hell he wants.

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devidia | May 6, 2010 at 12:53 p.m. (report)

And an American treasure she certainly is. It's just kind of sad that we can't find any new American treasures of the stage and screen to pass the torch to. We seem to only have "flavors of the moment".

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