By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Jun 06, 2011 at 11:00 AM

There are shows that mean summer to me. "Mad Men" had filled that bill, usually launching late in the season.

There's no word when it'll be back on AMC, but it's definitely not going to be this summer.

Still, there's the seasonal escapism of HBO's "Entourage," due to start its final run next month. There's also the cringe-inducing genius of Larry David and his "Curb Your Enthusiasm," which comes back next month, as well.

And then there's "Food Network Star." For me, it's a show that's as much about how TV works, as it is about TV chefs.

It launched for the season on Sunday night, with a two-hour episode that revealed 15 finalists who mostly are a little too interested in the "star" aspect of the show.

The hopefuls are being trained in how to be a TV presenter, a skill that transcends the kitchen. The cooking aspect of the show is almost secondary, and "Star" offers entertaining insights into personality-driven television.

It also shows a group of people who frequently think they know more than the professionals trying to mentor them, providing the comedy in the show.

Among the 15 finalists (cut to 14 with the dismissal Sunday of a radio host who admitted he was weak in the cooking department) is 31-year-old Jyll Everman. Although she's identified as living in Glendora, Calif., she revealed on Sunday's show that she was a "good Wisconsin girl" as she added cheese to a dish she was preparing.

Her audition video at the "Food Network Star" site has her explaining that she's originally from Wisconsin, and that she turned to cooking after breaking up with the chef boyfriend.

Everman, by the way, was in the bottom three on Sunday night, but hung on.

The season premiere repeats at 8 p.m. Wednesday. New episodes air at 7 p.m. Sundays.

A goodbye from a TV legend: Last week's death of  "Gunsmoke" star James Arness was followed by the posting of a letter from the artist known as Matt Dillon on his website, something he'd planned before his passing:

Wrote Arness: "I had a wonderful life and was blessed with some many loving people and great friends. The best part of my life was my family, especially my wife Janet. Many of you met her at Dodge City so you understand what a special person she is.

"I wanted to take this time to thank all of you for the many years of being a fan of Gunsmoke, The Thing, How the West Was Won and all the other fun projects I was lucky enough to have been allowed to be a part of. I had the privilege of working with so many great actors over the years."

The 88-year-old Arness noted in the letter that he had fought at Anzio in Italy during World War II, "and it makes you realize how very precious life is."

"Gunsmoke," which ran for 20 seasons, airs today at 11 a.m. and noon on TV Land, as well as Tuesday and Wednesday at noon.

On TV: It's not official, but Mediaite and other sources are saying Glenn Beck's Fox News Channel show will wrap up June 30. Expect tears.

  • Katie Couric's new deal for a talk show syndicated by ABC could be announced as early as today.
  • MTV says the fourth season of "Jersey Shore," this one from Florence, Italy, will start Aug. 4. And there will be a fifth season, no matter what you say.
  • Spike TV's "Guy's Choice Awards," airing Friday night at 8 will feature a reunion of the cast of "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." Sadly, Jennifer Jason Lee and Phoebe Cates won't be there.
  • Anderson Cooper has a launched a website for his new syndicated talk show, which debuts in September. It's scheduled to air here on Channel 6, but the time hasn't been announced.

A resource for old-time radio fans: For nearly four decades, Chuck Schaden's "Those Were the Days" radio show kept old radio shows alive on suburban Chicago station. Schaden has retired – although the show continues – but he's launched a website that features a number of interviews he did with the big names of a long-gone era.

There's also a bit of video, like this 10-minute bit of Schaden, himself:


Speaking Of Radio from Todd on Vimeo.

Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist

Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.

A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.

In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at

When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.