Chris Michael

About Chris Michael

Chris handles play-by-play for RCN sports events, including baseball, football & basketball games and produces/hosts the station’s 60-minute live call-in show. Among Chris’s other responsibilities include reporting on local news & sports stories, conducting “Take 5” interviews with community and political leaders, producing commercials, voiceovers and promos; and generating blog entries and videos on the internet. Click here to listen to the weekly Sports Talk podcast.

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: Paulette Goddard

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.   Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows, key names in the “Golden Age” of entertainment history and legendary cinematic performances. 

Paulette Goddard is remembered by many as the third wife of cinematic legend Charlie Chaplin.

But it would be a mistake to dismiss her acting career and contributions to filmmaking throughout her life, both before and after Chaplin entered her “picture.”

Born in Queens, New York, the future actress was born Marion Levy. Or Marion Paula Levy. Or Pauline Marion Levy or Marion Goddard Levy — depending on what source you use.

Another of the many disputed claims of Paula’s life includes her birth year. According to biographer Julie Gilbert, she was born in 1910 while various legal documents and passports listed her birth year as either 1905, 1908, 1910 or 1914. In an interview in “Life” magazine years later, she clearly states she was born in 1915.

Contrary to some opinions, Goddard appeared in pictures well before she ever met Charlie Chaplin.

She appeared in two films in 1929 before MGM signed her to her first film contract, appearing in six movies within the first 18 months before a conflict with producers slowed her working opportunities.  While under contract she began dating Chaplin, who starred her in his 1936 classic, Modern Times.

The pair was married that same year and Chaplin reportedly had planned other films featuring his wife, but by this time in his career, the Little Tramp’s method of producing films had slowed to the point where several years went by between his pictures.  Fearing the lack of acting appearances would hurt her career, Goddard signed her next contract with David O. Selznick, who immediately cast her in three films in 1938 and early 1939, including an all-female cast in 1939’s The Women.

Another hotly debated topic about Paula’s life is her potential role as “Scarlett” in the 1939 Academy award-winning film, Gone with the Wind.

Some sources say producers preferred her to Vivien Leigh, the actress who eventually won the role.  Others said that she would have needed “acting training” in order to be seriously considered for that role.  Still another outlet said Goddard was a finalist for the role with Leigh listed as being a “dark horse.”

In the 1992 cinematic biopic, Chaplin, Paulette (as played by Diane Lane) says that she passed the first round of auditions but laughed it off as it was clear the producers wanted Katherine Hepburn for the role.  The film, Chaplin, was largely based on accurate accounts from both Chaplin’s primary biographer and from Chaplin himself. However, it is clear that, in some instances, dramatic license was used.

She appeared in various films throughout the 1940s and early 1950s, including Chaplin’s The Great DictatorShe also appeared with many elite Hollywood actors like Fred Astaire, Lawrence Oliver, Bob Hope, Fred MacMurray, John Wayne, James Stewart, Olivia de Havilland, Charles Boyer and Burgess Meredith, whom she later married following her divorce from Chaplin.  Goddard received an Oscar nomination as best supporting actress in 1943’s So Proudly We Hail.

She also formed her own production company with John Steinbeck, Monterey Pictures. After marrying her fourth husband, Erich Remarque, in 1957, she moved to Switzerland…the same country Chaplin had moved to following his exile from the United States four years before… and, in fact, lived within a few miles of her former husband’s estate.

She only appeared in a handful of films the rest of her life and passed away from heart failure on April 23, 1990.  Her obituary listed her age at 79 at the time of her death.

Tune in or set your DVRs to see one of Paulette Goddard’s best reviewed roles in Second Chorus, airing this Monday at 1:00 p.m. and next Thursday at 9:00 a.m. on RCN-TV.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.

 

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: David Niven’s Later Years

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.   Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

Last week, we looked at early life and performances of the talented David Niven…today, a look at the second half of his career.

After having nearly a perfect run of film roles as a leading man for two years, David Niven left Hollywood to serve in the British Army fighting for the Allies in World War II .

Unlike many “A list” actors, Niven didn’t struggle to find quality leading roles in pictures immediately upon his return.

One of his first films was the traditional holiday classic, The Bishop’s Wife.  Initially he was cast as Dudley, the angel, but co-star Cary Grant decided he would be better suited to play that role…Niven obliged and was given the role of “The Bishop.”

He also found success by performing in radio productions throughout the decade, appearing in both dramatic and comedic roles on the nation’s top rated shows like the Lux Radio Theatre, Kraft Music Hall and the Screen Guild Players.

David closed out the 1940s by starring in other, more mediocre films like Magnificent Doll with Ginger Rogers, The Other Love, co-starring Barbara Stanwyck, and The Perfect Marriage with Loretta Young. Niven appeared in several other films that failed miserably at the box office and, in low spirits, left Hollywood to return to England.

It would be almost a decade before Niven had consistent success again in America, with hits like 55 Days at Peking (with Charlton Heston), Please Don’t Eat The Daisies (with Doris Day), The Pink Panther (starring Peter Sellers) and his Academy Award-winning performance in Separate Tables (he was hosting the Oscar’s ceremony that year and remains the only person ever to win a “Best Actor” award the same year he hosted the show).

James Bond novelist Ian Fleming had Niven in mind when he penned his novels and wanted him to star as the titular character when 007 was about to make his big screen debut, but Niven declined the role.  Ironically, Niven would play Bond in the 1967 parody of the Bond film series, entitled Casino Royale.

David would continue in starring and supporting roles through the 1970s and into the early 1980s–his last major part was in Better Late Than Never with Art Carney and Maggie Smith (Nevin’s role was offered to fellow movie icon William Holden, who refused the role due to a salary issue).

While contemplating retirement, Niven was persuaded to recreate his sinister character, Sir Charles Lytton, in the controversial Trail Of The Pink Panther and its sequel, Curse of the Pink Panther. Both films were shot concurrently under the watchful eye of original “Panther” director Blake Edwards.

The British actor came back to be part of these films that were supposedly made as a tribute to Peter Sellers, who had passed away in 1980. “Trail” used clips of Sellers from earlier movies and scenes that had previously ended up deleted from earlier films.  The Sellers’ estate would later take exception to the use of the late actor in the film and sued (and won its case against) United Artists for using Sellers’ likeness without permission.

Unbeknownst to Edwards, Niven was suffering from ALS.  It became evident early in the production that Niven was in poor health as they could barely hear the actor say his lines.  When the dailies revealed that all of Niven’s audio was completely unusable, legendary impressionist Rich Little was brought in to overdub all of David’s lines while they were still shooting the films.

Niven did not know this was taking place and only learned that his lines were overdubbed when he read a report in a newspaper after production had wrapped.  He vowed never to work with a movie production company again.

After refusing medical attention, Niven passed away on July 29, 1983. He was 73.

Be on the lookout for classic films featuring David Niven on RCN-TV.  To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.

 

BASKETBALL’S “LOST IN TRANSITION”

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

I have been holding off on writing this week’s blog topic for some time now.

It was not an easy entry to write and one that I frankly didn’t enjoy writing.  I also know full-well that some people might take offense to it.

But, for people who REALLY care about our kids, its’ time has come.

*******

I have been around basketball a long time.

I grew up watching local legendary head coach Dick Tracy teaching the game… which included a close-up view of his state championship winning team (somewhere in my parents basement, I still have their title win’s T-shirt).

I spent my college and early career years having the privilege of seeing another legend, John Chaney, work his magic during his famed early morning workouts at Temple University.

When I covered the Philadelphia 76ers for Sportsradio WIP, I had the opportunity to witness shootarounds under the watchful eye of Hall of Famer Larry Brown.

I currently have the good fortune of being around some of the best high school and college coaches every winter and summer…and I’ve spent a good amount of time listening to all of them.

For several years now, I have heard coaches at higher levels comment on the problems they have with the way the game is being played.  The three most fundamental issues that I hear these coaches say are…

Kids don’t like to play defense

Kids “fall in love with” and shoot too many “three-s”

Kids don’t utilize the bounce pass

In full disclosure, I was not a great athlete and never played varsity basketball myself, but I do listen to people.  Based on the individuals I have been and am around on a regular basis, my experience does tell me that you won’t get many tried-and-true basketball minds ANYWHERE to disagree with any of these three statements.

I have also spent a good amount of time in recent years watching youth basketball.  Again, based on my experiences being around the game and by listening to many coaches, officials and other knowledgeable people who watch our youth basketball in Eastern Pennsylvania, I constantly hear the following three statements more than anything else…

Kids don’t like to play defense

Kids shoot too many “threes”

Kids hate making bounce passes

See any similarities?

I’ve been expressing these sentiments to a lot of people this past winter and I have gotten very interesting responses and some great ideas. One suggestion made by RCN-TV’s own statistician, Jack Ebner, was to eliminate the “three point shot” all the way up to the ninth grade level.  That way, kids can actually learn to play the game from inside the arc and not rely on just shooting long-range jumpers.

The response to that idea (and other, similar suggestions) from the youth coaches and organizers I spoke with the last several months? “Oh, the kids will NEVER go for that.”

Now, I want to make it clear that coaching youth programs is not an easy position.  There are many great local youth coaches that put in more time, energy and quality teaching strategies than others.

Many (including myself) are not paid for their services.  Also, parents paying money for their kids to play at youth programs hold a great deal of weight and influence into a program’s execution.  Most youth coaches don’t have a lot of support to stand their ground when dealing with these “paying customers.”

But there seems to be a growing disconnect (and it’s getting worse every year) between learning the game in youth leagues and properly executing it at higher levels.  There’s increasingly less coaching and more coddling going on in youth sports — and, in the long run, it’s not good for the kids’ benefit.

At some point, if you want young people to learn the game of basketball, you have to TEACH the right way to play it.  Just because it’s “not something they want to hear” doesn’t mean it’s not something you tell them.

The game that Coach Tracy, Coach Chaney and many, many great basketball minds loved and cherished has truly evolved…our society now dictates that if you (or your kids) don’t like what one coach says or does, you just go find someone who does–or at least one who will tolerate an ignorance for the game.  And the more athletically blessed you are, the less you need to listen…and the “higher” the level you can do this at.

Is this really the message you want young people to learn?  Shouldn’t youth sports really be about teaching the way the game should be played?  Don’t you want kids learning how to develop good listening and application skills and having coaches stress things like fundamentals and teamwork?

Unfortunately, I think we all know the answer to these questions.

BML Baseball Update 2021

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Coming up this week on “RCN SportsTalk,” it’s our annual chat with members of the Blue Mountain League, along with a friendly reminder that you can check out our “BML Game of the Week” every Tuesday evening in July on RCN-TV.

Scheduled to appear on this week’s program are BML President Bob Varju, Vice-President Ted Plessl, Secretary/Treasurer/Media Relations Liaison Tim Fisher, along with new team managers Nate Kester (Northampton Giants) and Joey Troxell (Hellertown Royals).

In addition to taking a look at the first two-and-a-half months of this summer’s baseball action, there are a number of topics we will focus on.  These include:

  • The personal history of Giants’ Nate Kester–he started in the league in 2010, ironically with current VP Ted Plessl (who was then manager of the now defunct Bethlehem Hawks). He started his BML career as a senior in high school and played with that team through 2014.  He then changed teams to Northampton after the Hawks folded, and struck up an amazing, close relationship with then Giants manager and longtime BML player Ed Wandler.  Kester describes Ed as a “father” to him and offered him the managerial job this past year when Wandler had to retire due to health issues.
  • “Change of Scheduling”
    Over the last year, they have changed the way they compile the regular season schedules.  It’s now based largely on avoiding traffic/congestion issues and also working around community ballparks’ priorities (the BML use to have first dibs, but now are sometimes second or third in priority for getting fields, so the BML now has to work around other leagues’ schedules).
  • To that end, the BML now starts with a Sunday/Tuesday/Thursday plan, then adjustments are made and Saturdays are left open for rain/rescheduled games…or allowing for a family day if a team wants to avoid playing on that day–if possible. More scheduling issues and changes for this season will be discussed.
  • They have added roster spots to allow for more players on each team, combined with a deadline that “freezes” the roster (which just occurred this past weekend) for the playoffs.

Regarding the almost annual issue of “losing daylight” for their championship series (which usually takes place in mid-August, when the sunset time moves in front of 8pm), a proposal is made every year to have the finals at Limeport Stadium (which has lights)…only to be rejected.  We’ll learn more about this idea and discuss why this suggestion is NOT employed to avoid having games being called “on account of darkness.”

There’s many more issues we will discuss, along with some general thoughts on baseball overall, the top teams and players will be identified, and much more!  If you like local baseball and want to learn more about the BML…tune in this Thursday at 7pm on RCN-TV, set your DVRs and/or watch the show through RCN On-Demand!

 

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: Cary Grant’s Later Years

 For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

In celebration of the birthday anniversary of Cary Grant we continue last week’s examination of the legendary actor’s career.

Following his own personal dissatisfaction with The Philadelphia Story, Grant appeared in the first of four movies under the direction of Alfred Hitchcock in 1941’s Suspicion.  Like the former flick, Grant did not get along well with his co-star Joan Fontaine and would never work with her again.  Hitchcock was also critical of Grant, citing it was a mistake to cast him in the role.  Ironically enough, Hitchcock would later criticize James Stewart with the same offense 17 years later and referred to Stewart as “no Cary Grant.”

That same year, Grant received his first Oscar nomination for Penny Serenade.

According to Turner Classic Movies, Grant also benefited largely from the film industry’s production code for the 1944 dark comedy Arsenic And Old LaceThe movie was based largely on the stage play but the film code would not allow for certain scenes to be shown.  In its place, Director Frank Capra would substitute loosely scripted exchanges where Grant would just have to go “over the top” and playup a made-shift scene instead.  

The biggest example of this is at the film’s climax.  The film code (in the 1940s) would never allows for murderers to get away without punishment in a comedic film, so the scene in which the “old ladies” are given poisonous wine to the police was replaced with Grant kissing his finance, running around the house exuberantly and running out into the street yelling “Charge!” (a humorous reference to a recurring joke throughout the film).

According to the Graham McCann autobiography Cary Grant: A Class Apart, Grant would later say “Arsenic” was the worst performance of his career and he hated the dark subject matter (his character’s family was all insane).  This might be because his real life mother was also institutionalized early in Grant’s childhood.  His father also left him on his own as a teenager when he found a higher paying job in another city.

Two of Grant’s most memorable roles occurred in 1946’s Notorious (co-starring Ingrid Bergman and directed by Hitchcock) and 1947’s The Bishop’s Wife (with Loretta Young and David Niven).  The following year Grant was named the fourth highest box office draw in the world, but his failure in films like Monkey Business and Dream Wife led to the idea that his days as a leading man were over. Cary then left the film industry and didn’t work at all for several years.

His fortunes changed in 1955 when Alfred Hitchcock complained about Stewart’s performance (for the first of two times) in the rebooting of his own film, The Man Who Knew Too Much.  Grant would star in two Hitchcock-directed film classics, playing his usual suave, leading man persona, in To Catch A Thief and North by Northwest.

Ian Fleming then approached Cary Grant about playing James Bond in 007’s film debut, Dr. No, ironically after Grant’s former co-star, David Niven turned down the role. But Fleming had to withdraw his offer when Grant said he would only portray the super spy in one film and would not commit to a lengthy film series.

After starring in Charade and Father Goose, he had become increasingly disillusioned with cinema in the 1960s, rarely finding a script which he approved of. He remarked: “I could have gone on acting and playing a grandfather or a bum, but I discovered more important things in life” and dedicated his time to his daughter and grandchildren.  According to Gary Morecambe and Martin Sterling’s book, Cary Grant: In Name Only, they would go on to say that Grant knew after he had made Charade that the “Golden Age” of Hollywood was over.

Twenty-three years later, just hours before he was scheduled to appear on stage talking about his life, he suffered a stroke.  Despite medical personnel on the site, Grant refused any treatment and died a few hours later.  He was 82.

Grant is regarded as one of the greatest Hollywood actors ever. To this day, he frequently is positioned in the top two or three spots in various film critics and media outlets “all-time” greatest actors’ listings.

Be sure to check out some of Cary Grant’s legendary performances in Charade, His Girl Friday, and other classic films on RCN-TV.  To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

The Sports Talk Shop: Summer Hoops – July 2021

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

We continue to keep you posted on the local summer high school basketball leagues in the RCN viewing area.

On the one hand, a few of the regular league and tournaments have been held–some with the same number of teams as usual, others with dramatically lower turnouts.

The Holy Name girls tourney was held recently (a month later than “normal”) and Jim Thorpe came into the Lehigh Valley and surprised some very good teams by bringing home the championship.  Nazareth, Easton and hosting Allentown Central Catholic were the local contributors that played very well.

The Nazareth boys basketball team has come on strong of late and captured the “JamFest” title in Allentown the previous weekend.  The Blue Eagles had a very young team last winter and those underclassmen might just be hitting their stride.  Keep an eye on Nazareth this winter — they should be fun to watch once this upcoming season gets underway.

Also, the summer league in Forks Township had a good month.  Notre-Dame, Wilson, Lehigh Christian Academy and Bangor have been some of the top teams that I have seen so far.

Meanwhile, areas like Catasauqua, the Slate Belt, Stiles and other regions continue to struggle this summer–either having issues fielding teams and/or conducting their regular tournaments.

TOC Director Eric Snyder was just on RCN SportsTalk last week to provide an update on the struggles many squads are having this summer.  Eric, the longtime head basketball coach at Catasauqua High School, chose our program to announce some significant breaking and exclusive news concerning his career — along with sharing some controversial opinions on some key local basketball and baseball topics.

If you missed last week’s show, be sure to check it out (free for RCN customers) through our On-Demand services!

Also, checking back next month for our final update on the scholastic summer basketball scene!

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: Cary Grant’s Early Years

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.   Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

As we approach the birthday anniversary of one of cinema’s classic actors, we salute the talented career of Cary Grant.

Cary Grant was born Archibald Alec Leach, on January 18, 1904 in Bristol, England.

Unlike other actors who sometimes toiled in other occupations or had other interests before pursuing roles in the entertainment industry, Grant knew at an early age that he was destined for acting.  In the Graham McCann autobiography, Cary Grant: A Class Apart, Grant’s mother would teach him song-and-dance numbers at the age of four and he would frequently go to the theatre to see many great performers, including a very young Charlie Chaplin.

Grant would be befriended by the Pender theatrical performers in England who trained him to be a stilt walker and later asked him to join their touring production.  He was seen on Broadway performing with them in America as early as nine years old.  Back in England he continued to work as a lighting technician behind the stage. He seemingly forced his school to expel him at the age of 14 by constantly breaking school rules (he’d frequently be found in the girls’ lavatory).  Three days after his expulsion, Grant rejoined the Pender touring group.  

According to Cary Grant: A Celebration by Richard Schickel, Grant boarded the same ship that Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford were taking for their honeymoon. Grant played shuffleboard with Fairbanks and used him as a role model going forward.  After arriving in New York City from that trip he performed (at the age of 16) at what was then the largest theater in the world, the New York Hippodrome.

He performed on the stage and in pictures throughout the 1920s and early 1930s.  In 1927 he signed a film contract with Paramount Pictures, which demanded Archibald begin using a stage name–both parties mutually agreed on “Cary Grant.”  One of his big early films, She Done Him Wrong, (starring Mae West), reportedly saved Paramount from bankruptcy and gave Grant a significant pay increase.

While 1935’s Sylvia Scarlett was a box office bomb, it was an important film for Grant in that it was his first leading role and a performance which earned him rave reviews.  It also formed a successful partnership with Katherine Hepburn–a pairing the two would repeat several times over the next decade.

When his next film, Wedding Present, turned out to be a major success, Grant did not renew his Paramount contract and became the first “freelance” movie actor in Hollywood.  It was unheard of in this time period for a major actor to not “belong” to a specific film production company.  Grant changed his mind over the next 18 months as several of his movies were not successful and he signed a contract with Columbia Pictures in 1937.

While his films for the next two years had largely mixed reviews, Grant’s performances seemed to be always praised by critics and movie goers alike.  Grant reunited with Heburn for what would be, by far, the pair’s most successful movie (critically and financially) — the Academy Award winning, The Philadelphia Story.

When up-and-coming actor Jimmy Stewart stole the spotlight from Hepburn and Grant in the film and won an Oscar for his performance, it formed a rift between the three actors.  Grant never wanted to work with either performer again.

Grant would not be disappointed for very long as one of his next job offers came from a then, still somewhat obscure (to American audiences anyway) British director by the name of Alfred Hitchcock…we’ll examine those and other experiences next week here at The Showplace.

In the meantime, you can see Grant in one of his early classics, His Girl Friday, this Sunday at 4:00 p.m. on RCN-TV.  To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.

CATCHING UP & GIVING BACK

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

I’ve always said, I’ve been very fortunate to meet some amazing people in my life.

From the time I first broke into the broadcasting business until now, I remain just as lucky to stay in very close contact with some wonderful people and consider many of them close friends … even when we don’t see each other in person very often or as much as we used to.

Their generosity in sharing their time and advice to me has been the main driving force behind me continuing to speak to students at local school districts and making myself available to young aspiring broadcasting students.  I’ve never hesitated to give people my email (which is chris.michael@rcn.net) to give advice or answer any questions about the communications industry. I’m proud to say that there’s a long line of former students with whom I worked or gave advice to, who have gone on to achieve some wonderful accomplishments in this business.

I am also not alone in being a big fan of “giving back.”

I had the opportunity to check-in with a number of “old friends” recently.

A few include…

I frequently would cross paths with long-time Pittsburgh Pirates play-by-play announcer Lanny Frattare when I covered the Phillies in the early 2000s.  Lanny was one of a number of extremely classy and generous Major League Baseball broadcasters–nearly all of them were always congenial, friendly and very helpful to a (then) young announcer who was looking for tips on advancing in his career.

Frattare has used his vast knowledge of the communications industry along with his ability to work well with young people by working as an assistant professor for Waynesburg University for over ten years now.  In addition to being a great instructor, he’s constantly staying in touch with his former students and is very quick to reach out to alums with potential job opportunities for them.

When I covered the NFL and other pro sports teams for CBS Radio in New York City, a frequent colleague in the press box and on practice fields was Michael Longo.  Mike was not only a wonderful person and a great help to me in my earlier years (and still was in good shape when I saw him at a Phillies game two years ago) but was part of a dynamic broadcasting partnership.

His wife was Donna McQuillian, who may have been THE nicest person to me on my first professional sports reporting gigs.  McQuillian was, like me, a Temple University broadcast alum and immediately took me under her wing in showing me the “ropes.”  McQuillian was an early pioneer–she was the ONLY woman covering Philly pro sports teams for many years and was a true professional in the locker rooms and during live reports.  Both Michael and Donna were extremely giving of their knowledge and worked with young people throughout their careers.  Sadly, we lost Donna a few years ago to cancer, but Mike continues to work with aspiring broadcasters for a trade school in New Jersey.

Former colleague and frequent “SportsTalk” guest Jon Marks has also kept busy.  In addition to hosting the afternoon drive time show for Sportsradio WIP in Philadelphia, he splits his “spare” time hosting a national sports show on the weekend and teaching broadcasting students at a couple schools in the Delaware Valley area.

Even though he and his wife have been extra busy the last few years — they have two adorable and highly energetic kids — Jon continues to work with up-and-coming on-air personalities.  He’s actually one of three of my former co-workers at my old stomping grounds in Philly who teaches communication courses.

Giving back is something everyone can do and there are many ways to accomplish this.  I am extremely grateful to have so many quality role-models…both for my career and for myself as a person.  I consider myself very fortunate to have learned their valuable lessons and still have the opportunity to chat with many of these classy individuals to this day.

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: The “Funny Side” of Leslie Nielsen

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.  Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

This week, we continue our look at the life and career of Leslie Nielsen. Prior to 1980 and for the previous 30 years, Nielsen was largely typecast as a serious dramatic actor.  When Jim Abrahams and David and Jerry Zucker came up with their idea for the movie, Airplane!, they wanted to create a grand spoof of the Airport film serials and the other “tragedy films” that were popular in 1970s theaters. To do so, they wanted to find dramatic actors and non-traditional comedic personalities that you would never think of to star in a comedy film.

Their idea worked to perfection…but even the producers were surprised how well things worked.

By casting the “dramatic” acting of Nielsen in a role keying upon delivery of dead-pan comedic lines (some of the funniest in film history), the producers were astonished at how well the “serious” Nielsen dished out his comedic lines flawlessly.  The film — and Nielsen & #39’s delivery — was not a fluke.  Leslie would go on to have overwhelming success as a comedic actor for the next 30 years.

Due to the success of the movie, Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker were given the green light to create their own situation comedy and, no surprise, penned it with Leslie in mind as the main character.

Even though this series only lasted six episodes, the Police Squad series, which was reportedly cancelled by ABC because they “didn’t get the humor,” would go on to become one of the best comedy series of the early 1990s.

The man known in the industry for his dramatic performances was now one of the most sought-after comedy actors on the planet.

In addition to the Naked Gun/Files of Police Squad movies, Nielsen would star in successful spoofs like Spy Hard (picking apart films like the Die Hard, the James Bond film series and others) as well as ripping on classic horror films in Mel Brooks’ Dracula: Dead and Loving It.  He also became the logical choice when Walt Disney decided to make a live-action version of the popular cartoon character, Mr. Magoo.

Even as he began to slow down as an actor at the age of 81, Nielsen would frequently steal scenes in his appearances as The President in the Scary Movie film series, as “Uncle Ben” in Superhero Movie and even in his last role as a cross-dressing bar owner in the horror-film spoof, Stan Helsing, starring Diora Baird and Keenan Thompson.

Leslie’s career spanned 60 years, appearing in more than 100 films and 150 television programs and portraying more than 220 characters Nielsen died in his sleep after complications from pneumonia in 2010. He was 84.
You can see many of Nielsen’s acting performances in films like Project: Kill as well as guest starring appearances on Bonanza and other classic television programs on RCN TV.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.

SPRING ALL-STARS 2021: ROUND 2

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Recently here at the “SportsTalk Shop,” we started recognizing the student-athletes from the RCN viewing area who were honored by their leagues and districts for the annual “All-Star” honors from the past year.

Today, we continue our salute to these award winners by highlighting Lehigh Valley girls lacrosse players and the standout wrestlers during the last school year.

First, here are the Easton All-EPC representatives, courtesy of the Red Rovers lacrosse squad.

1st teamers:

Lindsey Geiger, Sr., Midfielder (league MVP)

Lea Kreigher, Jr., Midfielder

Kylee Hager, Jr., Goalie

Alicia Rodriquez, Sr. Low Defense

2nd teamers:

Ava Milia, Jr. Low Attack

Eran Gleason, Jr., Low Defense

Reese Kreigher, So, Midfielder

Meghan Vizian, Jr., Utility

We’ll have more on the local girls lacrosse scene by having both the league and district champions on our July 8th edition of “RCN SportsTalk.”

Also, here are the top scholar-athlete representatives in the sport of wrestling from each school district in the District XI region. 

SCHOOL NAME  SCHOLAR ATHLETE
Bethlehem Catholic High School  Evan Gleason
E. Stroudsburg Area South High School  Ajay Hiller
Easton Area High School  Dominic Falcone
Freedom High School  Thaddeus Howland
Lehighton Area High School  Michael Yeakel
Liberty High School  Jackson Marcantonio
Louis E. Dieruff High School  Jerry Villanueva
Nazareth Area High School  Drew Clearie
North Schuylkill High School  Danny Grigas
Northampton Area High School  Jagger Condomitti
Northern Lehigh High School  Brenden Smay
Northwestern Lehigh High School  Benjamin Griffith
Notre Dame- Green Pond High School  Brett Ungar
Palisades High School  Gavin Kreschellok
Parkland High School  Luke Yatcilla
Pen Argyl Area High School  Tyler Taylor
Pocono Mountain West High School  Charlie Maloy
Pottsville Area High School  Sam Sterns
Saucon Valley High School  Sophia Riehl
Stroudsburg High School  Joshua Jasionowicz
Tamaqua Area High School  Nathan Wickersham


If you have some post-season honors or haven’t seen your favorite team or sport listed in our spring “all-star” listings recently, please encourage your respective league or district chairs to pass those lists to me at
chris.michael@rcn.net over the next few days.  We’ll be making our “last call” and posting our final edition of honoring this year’s student-athletes very soon here at “The Shop!”