Once upon a time, say, thirty or so years ago, cable television, or as it was known in industry speak, CATV, was toted as television’s second coming. It was a method where people (or actually, regular TV watchers), would have more choices in their television viewing. For the first time since TV came to be in the late 1940’s, folks would have the opportunity to have access to some 30+ channels to see programs for all tastes, from movies, sporting events, news and information, kid’s shows, and other types of entertainment that the “big three” (i.e. the over the air TV networks), couldn’t or didn’t provide.
Unlike getting access to those “big three”, that is collectively, ABC, CBS, and NBC, having a cable TV subscription became available for a fee, while the over the air networks were free. Many of the local cable companies that were wiring communities toted their services where one can get thirty to forty channels of various CATV networks for a monthly charge, usually around $15.00 to $25.00 per month, depending on the number of channels offered and the company providing such services. Of course, those monthly fees were just for “basic” service. If one wanted to receive those pay TV channels, such as Home Box Office aka HBO, Showtimes, The Movie Channel, or other sources, one would have to pay an extra $12.00 to $15.00 per month. Unlike basic service channels made available, such as The Arts & Entertainment Network (“A&E”), the USA Network, WTBS, ESPN, and a host of others, the pay services would offer recent movies (released at late as one year prior), and a few original programing choices that was uncut and uncensored. Now one can see those recent movies with all of the violence, cussing, and nudity intact! One could see original programs that also featured the said cussing and violence. Of course, all of these pay services offered family friendly programs as well. HBO has a contract with The Jim Henson Company to provide hour long titles that featured The Muppet characters. Showtime would also provide shows suitable for all ages, and all of the pay channels offered movies (their “bread and butter” programming) that were aimed for kids. And unlike basic service, there were no commercial interruptions, meaning that an original hour long show ran 58 minutes, thirty seconds, and movies ran their original lengths.
But that was back in the 1980’s when television was limited to standard analog signals running at 525 lines (NTSC standard). Stereo sound was its latest improvement, and VCRs were all the rage. And at the time, TV’s most profound advancement since its beginnings were color transmissions. SInce those thirty or so years, TV has grown in leaps or bounds. Cable TV is still around, but takes upon a different meaning. Many of those CATV companies around back then have either been bought out, merged, or pulled out of the business altogether. The choice of channels have increased from 35 to 200 plus. The amount for a subscription skyrocketed to $70.00 a month. (Never mind the fact that new subscribers can receive so much for less that $50.00 a month. It’s only good for one year where the regular fee kicks in starting at year two!) And although the pay channels are still available for an additional fee, original programming is promptly featured, while movies, the one time “bread and butter”, is now programmed as an afterthought.
However, the number of cable (or even satellite) subscribers has fallen through the recent years. There are many reasons given why people no longer want their CATV and/or satellite services is the cost factor. Paying $50.00 and up per month for receiving channels that are never watched no longer serves as practical, since a good number of CATV subscribers tend to tune in about eight to ten channels on a regular basis.
What is also killing CATV is what’s known as “streaming”, where one receives moving imagery content through an internet based connection. Instead of limited themselves on viewing through a traditional TV device, one can watch contend through any electronic gadget that sports a video screen, be it a laptop, an electronic pad, or even a phone. Granted, one will receive the maximum audio/video quality through a traditional TV, but it’s still quite possible to catch whatever one wants wherever the viewer is located, assuming that a wifi connection exists. Perhaps the two major advantages of streaming is the fact that one can view content whenever the viewer feel like it, and its monthly service is a whole lot cheaper, less than $10.00 per month in many cases.
But all is not lost for the once mighty CATV channels, as they too, offer streaming services of much of their content, from movies or original shows. And a lot of this content is also uncut and uncensored, too! Yep, there is also lots of family friendly material as well! So go ahead and bring the kids along!
This year (2017) will make the 70th anniversary of the slow-yet-steady start of regular TV programming on a wider scale. Next year will note the 70th year of standard programming available on a regular basis seven days a week! Viewers have come a long way since those early days when Milton Berle became TV’s first real star, and rooftops started to post those TV antennas. Uncle Miltie is long gone, but those TV aerials still can be used to receive those HiDef signals. It’s not wifi, but still works!
NEWS AND REVIEWS
Performing at the Lounge Theatre in Hollywood is David Lindsay-Abaire’s RABBIT HOLE, a melodrama about a couple coping over the recent loss of their child due to circumstance, and the people that maneuver within their lives.
Much of the drama takes place at the home of Becca and Howie Corbett. (Jordana Oberman and Michael Yurchak), located in a well-to-do bedroom community in New York State. They also had a young son who had perished from an accidental death. Although Becca and Howie had accepted the fact that their son is gone, their relationship they once had begins to falter. And in spite of the fact that they are surrounded by supportive people such as Becca’s sibling Izzy (Toni Christopher), as well as her mother Nat (Darcy Shean), it’s just not enough to keep emotions in line. But one person returns back to the fold. Jason (Rocky Collins), an adolescent who will soon embark into adulthood and beyond, was the person responsible in the family’s tragic event. He seeks for honest forgiveness from the couple, but receives more that his desire. This is a bittersweet tale of acceptance, loss, recovery, and the notion of the realism of substance.
The play, winner of the the coveted Pulitzer Prize for 2007, is a stage work that presents an even blend of humor and temperateness without relying upon one or the other. Within this specific stage product, the cast of five players perform their roles down to a point where one may actually know of an genuine person in so-called “real life” that is depicted on stage. Eric Hunicutt directs this production as intense drama that isn’t too heavy, but effortful enough. The creative work of Lilly Bartenstein scenic and lighting design of the Corbett home: A comfortable homestead fit for the postmodern era. along with Serena Duffin costuming adds to the realism depicted.
Although the theme of this piece deals in tragic affairs, RABBIT HOLE isn’t a “downer” play per se, but has a story line that speaks for emotional high and low points with the theory that one can rise to the occasion, not matter what that occasion may be.
RABBIT HOLE, presented by JTK Productions, and performs at the Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd. (one block east of Vine Street at El Centro), Hollywood, until May 14th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday evenings at 7:00 PM. For reservations and information, call (917) 407-3346, or online at http://www.plays411.com/RabbitHole
The Santa Monica Playhouse presents for a limited run, Barbara Minkus starring in I’M NOT FAMOUS, a performance with music where Barbara tells her life story on how she became (almost) famous.
Barbara emotes her yarn for her humble beginnings in Chicago where she was first exposed in performing songs in front of her family as well as at her elementary school. Inspired from catching the stage shows at the Chicago Theatre on State Street, she embarked on a rather long clime to stardom. She did over time eventually make it out to Broadway, and well as heading toward “the other coast” i.e. “Hollywood” a.k.a. Los Angeles to appear in a few gigs both both on stage as well as on Television. But in spite of gaining some kind of stardom, she became inspired to lead another life that had nothing to do with show biz. Through her narrative, she has an opportunity to sing a few songs that enhances her saga from one chapter to the next.
This show is far different that a standard solo show where one tells their life story (or a part of their life story) within a ninety minute or so running time. As described above, this showcase features some tunes lifted from Barbara’s personal soundtrack of her life. Many of the songs performed are from the “standards” variety as this is Barbara’s forte. WIth Ron Barnett on the keyboards, she is as her best singing as she is emoting. Within this ninety minute timeframe, she shifts the tale between her professional life to her personal side, from meeting the man that would become her spouse, the desire of starting a family, as well as creating a real “day job”. Although she does touch upon a few darker sides of her life, most of the performance places an emphasis on her brighter moments as she had more of the latter than the former!
Susan Morgenstern directs this program that is funny, charming, witty, with just a touch of sadness added for good measure. There are a few visuals projected within the stage backdrop as provided by visual projectionist and set designer James Cooper. These images just illustrate some of the stories that Barbara tells her audience that make this showpiece a source with the information that gives all the important facts about a person that isn’t famous!
In spite of what the title of this presentation may suggest, Barbara is indeed famous in her own right! Granted, she may not be a household name per se, but this writer knew of her from many years before when yours truly would be seated in front of a Zenith tuning in every Friday night (chomping down a bag of Jay’s potato chips) as well as the next morning while downing a bowl of Froot Loops and/or Lucky Charms. (Tuning in on the same TV network!) I didn’t necessarily know her name, but I knew her look! And for somebody of her vintage (21+), she still has what it takes, having a sense of real talent than let’s say, somebody “famous” through self performed antics uploaded on YouTube. (That’s for another story, and for another stage show playing somewhere performed by somebody else that’s “famous”!)
I”M NOT FAMOUS-A MUSICAL JOURNEY WITH BARBARA MINKUS is presented by and performed at The Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 4th Street (off Wilshire Blvd.), Santa Monica, until May 28th. Showtimes are Sunday evenings at 7:00 PM. For ticket reservations, call (310) 394-9779 ext. 1, or online at
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