News From Terre Haute, Indiana


June 25, 2013

LIZ CIANCONE: TV reality shows have a colorful history

We rarely turn on our television set until time for the evening news, and sometimes we turn it off at the end of that half hour. If I were a male, I would be a curmudgeon.

I especially dislike the so-called “reality shows.” The “stars” may be out in the boondocks, dirty and disheveled, but bet your last dollar there will be a herd of television crewmen and any number of producers and directors within a stone’s throw. If you really wanted off that island, or out of that jungle, there would be no problem.

And then there are the talent-search shows. I was scornful of shrieking vocalists and low-talent performers and then I remembered the talent-search biggie of my youth. Today may have “America’s Got Talent,” but we had “Major Bowes and the Original Amateur Hour.” Of course, the Major had no celebrity panel sitting in judgment of the talent. He alone was the judge and he alone gave the would-be star “the gong,” thereby ending high hopes of a professional career.

In fairness, Frank Sinatra got his start as a winner on the Original Amateur Hour and could be very funny on the experience. The audience was asked to judge his trio (or was it a quartet?) and they won. Then, at the Major’s request, they came back week after week with only a name change. Who knew? We couldn’t actually see them and a week’s hiatus dimmed memory of the voices.

The rest is history when it comes to Sinatra.

I may snicker at modern television, but for really off-the-wall entertainment, few things equal a show out of Chicago some years ago. It starred a piano player and a room full of canaries. The announcer would proclaim, “Live from warehouse 39, it’s Don Artiste and the Hartz Mountain canaries.” How could I make this up?

Don would tinkle the keys of one of the warehoused pianos — for sale — and the birds would twitter along. Some birds seemed to have no sense of timing because they twittered whether or not Don was tinkling. As I recall the program lasted about 30 minutes.

Mom liked to listen because she was convinced that our canary, Mr. Watson, enjoyed the show and liked to sing along.

I might have enjoyed watching that on television — or maybe not.

Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Send email to


Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News Poll
AP Video
Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Airstrike Shatters Fragile Calm in Gaza Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Fox Dons 'Bondage Strap' Skirt at Comic-Con 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma Video Shows Smiling American Bomber in Syria Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites
NDN Video
'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010