#Newspapers ain’t dead yet

In my first piece for Investopedia, I note that stock of newspaper publishers have been doing surprisingly well even though the fundamentals for the industry remain horrible.  From the story:

Indeed, the sector that every investing pundit loves to hate has been beaten to a bloody pulp over the last few years is starting to show signs of life, faint though they may be. Some investors, such as Warren Buffett see value here. Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, the soon-to-be-owner of the Washington Post, seems to as well as does Southeastern Asset Management, a hedge fund that recently disclosed a 12% stake in the new News Corp. (NYSE:NWS), Rupert Murdoch’s print holdings such as the Wall Street Journal.

Just to be clear, I am not saying that good times are near just less godawful ones.   Publishers are diversifying into faster-growing businesses such as television.   Some papers such as the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times are benefiting from paywalls. The Washington Post didn’t start charging to access its website until this year, a huge blunder.

Attention #BarneyMiller fans: I need your help

Few people know that getting “Barney Miller”, one of the most popular and groundbreaking television programs of the 1970s and 1980s, on the air was nothing short of a miracle.   This is a largely unknown story that I want to tell in a book I am planning to write.l

Executive Producer Danny Arnold, a largely unknown sitcom pioneer, who pushed “Barney Miller” to address many hot-button political issues including gay rights, one of the first shows to do so. He clashed with ABC, which aired the show for 8 seasons and even threatened to pull the show from the network if he didn’t get his way.

Arnold’s story is a complex one. On the one hand, he could be charming and generous, lavishing extravagant gifts such as an Aston Martin on people who worked for him. But many found him to be intimidating. He was known to have unpredictable, volcanic mood swings. Few were spared his wrath, even people who he otherwise liked. Arnold had a low opinion of the human race and often said that smiling was a sign of stupidity.

A perfectionist who demanded so many changes to scripts at the last minute that they were never completed before an episode was filmed, Arnold drove the cast and crew crazy, He also snuck off the watch the races at Santa Anita when otherwise should have been working. To top it off, Arnold had to cope with feuds among the cast and a decade-long legal fight over the show’s ownership with co-creator Theodore J. Flicker which he lost at a cost of millions. He died in 1995.

As an award-winning journalist who has written about the media for more than a decade, I am qualified to tell the “Barney Miller” story. My book will offer the first comprehensive account of the “Barney Miller” story, which has been told so far on a piecemeal basis in anthologies. have interviewed members of the cast and crew along with scholars who will help me put the show in its proper historical context.

I want to hear from “Barney Miller” fans.  What   What have you always want to know about the show?  What are your favorite episodes?  What were the qualities about the show you especially liked?

By the way, Abe Vigoda is alive, at least he was when I spoke with him a few months ago.   The clip I put in this post is from the classic “Hash Brownies” episode, one of the many “Barney Miller” classics.  Enjoy.

Why NBC’s `Million Second Quiz’ is the `Biggest Loser’

If you haven’t been caught up in the excitement over NBC’s “Million Second Quiz”,  you aren’t alone.

As I noted on MSN moneyNow, “total viewership fell to 3 million on Saturday, down from the 6.5 million who watched its debut Monday.”   MSQ, as it calls itself, has got to be one of the most confusing game shows in history.  I have watched it a few times and I don’t get it.

For those wondering if there is such a thing as too much Ryan Seacrest, the answer seems to be a million times yes.

One Parkie’s opinion about Linda Ronstadt

Can the newest celebrity Parkie (that’s how we Parkinson’s sufferers identify ourselves) Linda Ronstadt ever sing again?   According to experts, perhaps.

“Twenty years ago, speech therapy didn’t work for Parkinson’s patients. But now we know that voice treatment does work, but it has to be a specific kind,”Samantha Elandary, founder and CEO of the nonprofit therapy group Parkinson Voice Project in Dallas, told AARP.

Another expert quoted by the group’s website,  Dr. Zoltan Mari, interim director of the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center at Johns Hopkins University,  pointed out that vocal therapy can be effective though it is not clear if it could help a singer of Ronstadt’s caliber.

Ronstadt owes it to herself and her millions of fans to at least give these therapies a try. The singer, who made many hearts flutter during her heyday in the 1970s, seems to have been in denial about her condition for years.  it’s a shame. One of the reasons why she wrote her memoir “Simple Dreams” is that she’s broke because she can’t earn a living.

The question people with Parkinson’s, or any other chronic medical condition have to ask themselves is whether they will let it define them. Of course, it will to an extent. When people see me they always want to do know how I am feeling.  That’s perfectly natural and I don’t mind telling them that I have my good days and bad days.

But fighting Parinson’s is a battle, a marathon one.  I think myself as a mythic knight  doing battle with a dragon. My battlefield is the kickboxing gym.  Occasionally, it’s the weight room or the roads near my house.  The point is that I try really hard to keep the disease at bay by keeping my body moving.  I probably should exercise even more.

If I could sing like Linda Ronstadt (which I can’t), I would move heaven and earth to try to regain my voice if Parkinson’s took it from me. I hope she can find the strength to fight for what’s important to her.  Even if all she can manage is “Happy Birthday”, it will be worth the effort.