Wednesday, June 17, 2015



I have had season tickets to the Geffen for the past two years, and only two of their productions in TWO YEARS were worth seeing---COUNTRY HOUSE starring Blythe Danner, and Bette Midler in the Sue Mengers play.

You know how sometimes in rock concerts you see people holding their ears because it's so loud that it hurts? WELL, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE, I SAW AUDIENCE MEMBERS HOLDING THEIR EARS IN A PLAY. The actress, Molly Ephraim, has the most grating voice I have ever heard. It was so painful to listen to her shrieking, that I had to hold my ears, too. The director, Matt Shakman, comes from the "louder and faster sit-com school." Very, very hard to take. Please save yourselves. Do not go. I have also not renewed my Geffen subscription.

And, by the way, The Audrey, the smaller theatre at the Geffen usually has far more interesting programming. I will go back there. I loved "Switzerland."


Once Meredith Viera left TODAY it headed downhill. Putting the stiff, bland Ann Curry in there was a mistake. Matt Lauer, who has turned off viewers for years with his personal life, totally destroyed whatever was left of the show when he had Ann fired and then humiliated her on air and made her cry.

What people overlooked in all that controversy was that TODAY had grown stale---boring sets, sleepy music, hosts talking as if they were at a funeral.  DEAD SHOW WALKING.

Along came GMA, a re-tooled show with Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulous. Robin's spirit, humor and heart exploded on camera. People loved it. They loved Newbie George's "dear in the headlights look" in a new venue. GMA was funny, peppy; the cast genuinely got along and it was a pleasure to invite them into your home in the morning. They were a family. Filled out with anchor Josh Elliott (immediately likeable) and weather man Sam Champion (handsome and fun)--the show was great.

The original family

When Robin got sick, we were still part of the most important family on television. I think if the viewers could have visited in the hospital en masse, we would have. Then, in 2014, Josh Elliott left. That was a HUGE loss. He had the goods. But, that loss was almost totally ameliorated by the addition of Amy Robach, a smart newscaster who is very likeable. Ok, so far. Then Sam Champion left. Very bad news.. They replaced him with the non-descript Ginger Zee. Yawn. Robin and George couldn't carry the whole thing on their backs. ABC panicked and added Michael Strahan from KELLY AND MICHAEL. From his first day, it didn't work. He looked like he didn't want to be there; he was extremely uncomfortable. It wasn't a goo d fit. ABC needed a friendly guy and they went to Michael. I'm sure it made sense on paper. He's great on KELLY AND MICHAEL. There's nothing to say about Lara Spencer. She's cotton candy and is irrelevant to the show's successes or problems.

But ABC made a big mistake. They were so confident in their GMA "family," they didn't realize the "family" was gone. They continued to book guests who weren't that relevant or interesting. Look at GMA on any given day and you'll see a guest line-up of second or third leads in a TV show, a chef, an occasional big star or political interview. Turn on TODAY now and a typical line-up for one show would be Robert DeNiro, Nicole Kidman, Martha Stewart and Nancy Pelosi. GMA got lazy and has rested on its laurels too long. They are losing viewers.

TODAY has copied everything that was good about GMA. All their folks are in new sets, they are joking with each other; the music cues are hip. They are simply doing it better these days. I still loathe Matt Lauer, however.

Interestingly enough (at least to me), is that I am hardly watching either one of them anymore. I like CBS Morning News with Charlie Rose, Gayle King and Norah O'Donnell. They like each other; they smile; their news is intelligent and focused, and they rarely have on a stupid celebrity guest. It's a pleasure.

I don't want to see GMA sink to second. I love Robin, George, and Amy. ABC---please start doing your job correctly.

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