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Robin Williams and "The Crazy Ones" co-star Sarah Michelle Gellar appear at the CBS 2013 Summer Stars Party in Beverly Hills. (PHOTO: shutterstock.com)

Williams' death puts depression, mental illness in spotlight


On Monday and Tuesday, television broadcast outlets scrambled to cover the life and death of Robin Williams, the 63-year-old comic who died on Monday after an apparent suicide.

Those who knew Williams joined a number of talk news shows to talk about the man, whose decades of work reached millions across the globe. Some people knew of the cocaine and other addictions of his past, and the present depression he was fighting.

After years away from the small screen, Williams returned to television with "The Crazy Ones" on CBS. Even though the show received critical acclaim, including a Critic's Choice nomination, the viewership wasn't enough for the network. The show wasn't picked up for a second season.

Chances are the TV specials, like the one ABC aired on Tuesday evening, brought in more viewers for one evening than "The Crazy Ones" did last year.

Williams's death has done a couple of things in the last 72 hours, including taking a deeper look at his work on television, in film and on the stand-up state. But it also put a spotlight on depression and mental illness.

Some very dumb and ill-informed comments have been made by talking heads, including some show hosts at Fox News – keeping the continued mockery of what is called news television going.

The hard truth is that unless you've dealt with these issues yourself, or by way of a close friend or family member, it is difficult to put into perspective the personal loss of a well-known comic. Also, it is difficult to keep the proper perspective on the loss of countless others that have ended their lives due to illness – many we've never heard of or paid attention to because they were not well known.

At this point, we may tear up and mourn the loss of a performer loved by many, but let us all take the time to listen for the cries of help that people closer to us need us to hear before it is too late.

TV TRIVIA AT IRISH FEST: Quizmaster has teamed up with Milwaukee Irish Fest to present three-days-worth of trivia on the grounds, including a "Game of Thrones" event on Sunday at 1 p.m.

The other two trivia events will be at 7 p.m. on Friday and 1 p.m. on Saturday.

The trivia shows will take place at the Irish Sports Pub on the north end of the grounds. Prizes will include vouchers for Irish Fest vendors, along with a special award for the best "Irish-themed" team name.

HUSHED ANNOUNCING: More than 30 million viewers turned to CBS to watch the 2014 PGA Championships, a 30 percent increase for the same event last year.

That growth is significant in terms of audience and advertising dollars and speaks well for professional golf overall. Wisconsin has an invested interest in this as the 2015 PGA Championships will be held at Whistling Straits in Kohler.

SCHOOL SUPPORT: WISN-TV Ch. 12 worked with the Salvation Army and WMYX-FM 99.1 The Mix to collect donations for school supplies for Milwaukee Public Schools students.

Phone banks on television and collection efforts on the air with WMYX set out to help as many students as possible with the Class Act School Supply Drive.

"Last year, the Class Act Phone Bank raised more than $50,000. This year, the need is greater than ever and we want to exceed that goal," said Jan Wade, president and general manager of WISN 12. "Our viewers are extraordinarily generous and have proven time and again how much they care about the students in our community."

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