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Ziv Television and a brief history of syndicated television in America

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 8, 2014 03:52pm | Post a Comment
Ziv Productions logo

Due to the rise in quality television and the sad, hopefully-not-irreversible decline of Hollywood films, any unbiased viewer of both would have to agree that television is entirely capable of producing great art. Much of the credit goes to cable (e.g. Breaking Bad and Mad Men) and online television (e.g. Homestar Runner and House of Cards). Then there's syndicated television, which came into existence literally to provide television filler 65 years ago this month, when Ziv Television's first production aired.

Ziv advertisement 1955

For the most part syndicated television's reputation for providing chaff is deserved. Syndicated programs have long been dominated by cheap anthology shows, court shows, game shows, variety shows, talk shows, celebrity gossip "news" shows, and other low-budget, low-brow, fare that at its best is enjoyable as a time-killers and guilty pleasures. Sometimes due to their peripheral nature, they're amazingly watchable for all the wrong reasons -- in many ways a television equivalent of the grindhouse cinema.

Back in the old days, neither the big four radio networks (ABC, CBS, Mutual, and NBC), nor the big three US television networks (CBS, DuMont, and NBC) offered a full day's dose of programming. Then as now there were television stations not affiliated with any network -- but even they rarely could produce enough programming to fill the day. In radio, syndicated programing, produced by independent companies had been the solution at least since the 1930s. The first American television company to produce syndicated programs was Ziv Television Programs, whose first program, Fireside Theatre, began airing back on 5 April, 1949

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The Rural Upsurge -- A Brief History of Country Cool and Uncool

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 2, 2014 02:20pm | Post a Comment
Country Mouse and Town Mouse
Arthur Rackham illustration for The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse

Since the US's founding, Americans have steadily moved from the countryside to the city but the story of our pop culture has always been the product of a dialogue between the two worlds, with urban and rural fashions coming and going. While being country might not be cool again, it does seem that American television's landscape is once again overwhelmingly rural in character -- a world populated by catfish scammers, catfish hand-fishers, Sasquatch hunters, morbidly obese Mennonite mafioso, bootlegging bigamist Baptist beauty contestants, and other cryptozoological specimens. 43 years ago the television landscape was similarly dominated by rural caricatures when, at the end of March, the so-called "Rural Purge" resulted in a deliberate shift away from rural-themed shows to those set in cities.
 

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Americans have long generally migrated to the cities and their environs, including the suburbs, and today the percentage of America's population who live in the country is at an all time low -- about 16%. However, it wasn't until the 1910s that America's urban population overtook its rural. 

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Primavera Sound 2014 Line-Up Announced Via Unique Promotional Film

Posted by Billyjam, January 30, 2014 08:20am | Post a Comment
        

This week organizers at the big annual Primavera Sound Festival, that happens every late May/early June in Barcelona Spain, announced this year's line-up with some impressive headliners at the multi-stages event that is traditionally rock oriented with some dance and hip-hop with this year featuring a bit more than in past. 

Known for booking well-established longtime acts alongside newer acts Primavera's 2014 line-up does not disappoint with a list that includes Kendrick Lamar, Queens of the Stone Age, The National, Arcade Fire, Haïm, The Pixies, Foals, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Television (performing their classic 1977 album Marquee Moon in its entirety), Neutral Milk Hotel, Nine Inch NailsDrive-By Truckers, Laurent Garnier, Chvrches, and Slowdive who will reunite at the Barcelona festival to play their first gig together in over a decade.

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Amoeba on The Simpsons!

Posted by Amoebite, December 10, 2012 12:02pm | Post a Comment

We made it onto The Simpsons last night! Or rather, Protozoa Records did... :) So rad. Thanks Matt Groening & co!!

The episode was called "The Day The Earth Stood Cool" and featured The Decemberists (who also wrote and recorded original music for the episode), Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein, and Patton Oswalt. The A.V. Club posted a great review of the episode here.

Protozoa Records Amoeba Music Simpsons

 

Decemberists Simpsons

 

"I Like Big Bird" - Happy Birthday, PBS, and Happy Teachers' Day

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 5, 2012 04:30pm | Post a Comment

INTRODUCTION

Today is the birthday of PBS and also Teachers' Day. For any reader that might not know, PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) is a non-profit American public broadcasting television network headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. It was founded on this date (5 October, 1970), 42 years ago, in 1970, after the termination of its predecessor, National Educational Television (NET).

Watch 1969 Senate Hearings on PBS. See more from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

Many Americans share fond memories of watching children's programs like Sesame Street (which began on NET) and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (which debuted on CBC). If your parents weren't unhealthily preoccupied with celebrity culture or car chases, you may've suffered as they turned commandeered the TV to watch PBS Newshour with it's in-depth coverage of "hard news."

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