When I saw that actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died, it was a post on social media that alerted me. Which – as I’d call myself a pretty traditional media consumer – was something a little out of the normal routine.
But it was not a huge deal.
What was a huge deal, for my OnMilwaukee.com colleague, were the posts he saw surrounding the character actor’s passing. Jim Owczarski blogged about the dead pool.
Now, in my world, dead pool could be two things.
First, it is a character in Marvel comic books, usually involved in mutant and X-Men comic story lines. Actor Ryan Reynolds played the character in the 2009 film "X-Men Origins: Wolverine."
The other dead pool is much more dark, and some people take it to an extreme. Owczarski mentioned the way in which people may gamble on who may die. The person gains more points for the younger famous person that may be on the list.
When I worked in a traditional newsroom, for daily newspapers, television and radio news, we had a dead pool, too.
It wasn’t meant for betting, but it was for taking the time to be organized, gathering the assets needed to cover the passing of someone important or notable in the community. When I was on the copy desk or the sports staff at a couple of newspapers earlier in my career – mind you, this was before the internet – I had to keep records, photos and other items to run with the obituary story. The area in one of the multiple filing cabinets was called the dead pool.
In the media business, as a reporter or editor or producer, you often cover people at their worst. It is in some small way the same way in which police deal with people – they are usually the furthest from their personal best.
Because of that, a sense of humor comes in handy to push the dark reality off. Hence the dead pools in area newsrooms are very common.
My colleagues and myself would have to decide which actors, politicians, singers and athletes needed to have a file. My major files were Bob Hope, Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, Liz Taylor and my wild card was Robert Downey Jr.
I’m now out of the dead pool filing business and I’m glad at least the Downey file is still active in some storage area of a newspaper basement to this day. I hope my pictures and notes there won’t have to be used for many more years to come.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Steve Kabelowsky
Published Dec. 19, 2014
Time Warner Cable customers who do a lot of travel - especially by way of General Mitchell airport here in the city - may want to check out the new roaming Internet access service.
Published Dec. 18, 2014
When "Maleficent" had its box office run, this live action adaptation re-imagined for the big screen brought in more than $700 million worldwide.
Published Dec. 17, 2014
One program that has been successful, stayed true to reality TV and centers around projects is "Treehouse Masters" on Animal Planet. The third season will start on Jan. 9 at 9 p.m.
Published Dec. 16, 2014
When I think of a true Disney movie, I think of "Sleeping Beauty." It is a pinnacle achievement from the animation studio's golden era.
Published Dec. 15, 2014
As the holidays tend to take us away from the TV screen, the major networks put regular series on pause. It means that most serial programs will end with a mid-season finale and come back in the new year with more episodes in spring.
Published Dec. 14, 2014
"Guardians of the Galaxy," taking the same comic book universe of "The Avengers" to the stars, was a gamble for Marvel and Disney, but was one that was worth the effort as proven by its huge international box office take.
Published Dec. 12, 2014
Time Warner Cable SportsChannel has been covering high school sports at different levels of competition around Milwaukee for years. This winter sports season is no different as teams from both the Green Bay and Milwaukee markets will be featured.
Published Dec. 10, 2014
For the second year, many of the groups from the TV show will go out on the national "The Sing-Off Live! Tour." Already booked are VoicePlay from season four and Street Corner Symphony from season two. The March 28 show at the Riverside is one of 55 stops the TV show tour will make in 2015.
Published Dec. 8, 2014
Last year, Carrie Underwood led a cast of musical theater performers in a production of the "Sound of Music Live!," that not only delivered a change in the normal programming, but it also drew in a large audience. NBC attempted to recapture the magic with "Peter Pan Live!" last week, and despite all the fairy dust in the world, it barely got off the ground.
Published Dec. 5, 2014
It's a loaded question as most people have their own sense of what "talent" means. The producers of "America's Got Talent" want to see whatever it means ... and want people from the Milwaukee market to take them up on the opportunity to win a slot on the show.