The deaths of two respected and well-liked figures from the world of television might seem like a maudlin manner in which to lead off this week’s Top Five.
But with these two — Dick Clark and Mike Wallace — we mourn their deaths, but at the same time, we celebrate their lives and what they meant to ours.
1) Richard Wagstaff Clark (1929-2012): What can one say about a guy like this? All week, we’ve been hearing tributes to him from scores of Hollywood figures from all parts of the entertainment business. The sheer variety of them was a testament to the influence Dick Clark had in television, in movies, in music. He was a perfectionist and a workaholic, but he was also a politician, in the sense that he knew how to build and maintain relationships with a wide variety of people. Among other things, various people testified to the thank-you notes he was known for writing, and the consideration he showed them in business meetings by listening to their ideas and taking them into account. As for those of us who knew him only as an omnipresent TV personality for most of our lives, Dick Clark’s death leaves a giant void.
2) Myron Leon Wallace (1918-2012): Mike Wallace died a week earlier, but the legendary news show he made famous paid tribute to him with an hour-long special this past Sunday. That show was, of course, “60 Minutes,” and Wallace was the show’s undisputed king, a towering figure who stood at the intersection of news and entertainment, and gave us both. Last Sunday’s tribute — an overview of his domineering, pioneering work — showed us why he will never be equalled.
3) Do you smoke pot? What if a camera crew approached you on the street and asked you this question? What on earth would you say? Well, you could say yes, and hope you’re parents don’t watch “Jimmy Kimmel Live” because that’s what the “Kimmel” show did this week. A camera crew went out on Hollywood Boulevard and asked unsuspecting passersby that question. As you can imagine, their reactions were interesting, to say the least.
4) “Smash” hit: No, this isn’t an item about “Smash” on NBC. It’s about Gaius Charles, who gained fame as brash running back “Smash” Williams in “Friday Night Lights,” the acclaimed series about Texas football. Charles guest-starred this past week on “NCIS” on CBS in an episode that drew more than 18 million viewers (it’ll probably be the week’s top-rated show). And, as usual, we have TV’s No. 1 show available right here.
5) And now, another commentary about NBC’s Thursday night woes: What’s the occasion? It’s really to mark the return, after a hiatus of several weeks, of “Parks and Recreation” this past week (you can watch the episode below). We were delighted to see “Parks and Rec” back again (with an episode featuring guest-star Bradley Whitford), but when we took a look at Thursday’s ratings, we once again couldn’t really believe our eyes. “Community,” the comedy series that everybody thinks has one of the most loyal audiences in all of television, had only 2.9 million viewers, “30 Rock” had 3.1 million, “The Office” 4.3 million (!), and “Parks and Rec” 3.5 million. Can these sitcoms survive? We’ll find out in about a month.