Pop Culture
Pop Culture: Articles for the Scripps Howard News Service & "Seen, Heard, Said"

Why the top-365-songs list isn't a stupid idea

Actors sink their teeth into vampire roles

Gregory Corso: My encounter with a Beat legend

Golden Globes: Sleazy and proud of it

In the offing, Clinton continent looms

"NYPD Blue" opener: The misery continues

 New movie genre: Reclusive authors anonymous

"West Wing," "Ally," et al.: Words, words, words

When TV shows outstay their welcome

Film critics dig their own graves with "Angels" review

Great Robert Altman films you never
heard of

Famous folk, next week in the arts, show business briefs

"Time regained": Proust in the multiplex

Glitterati is dead, long live Popfocus

Carl Barks: The man who put the ducks in Duckburg

"Almost Famous": Lester Bangs rises from the dead

Liz Hurley wins in war of words with Jane mag

Douglas poses with Zeta-Jones, and baby-makes three

Weddings that aren't: Douglas, Zeta-Jones, Madonna, Ritchie

The Emmy War: A half-century of coast-to-coast feuding

Jennifer Love Hewitt plays the Iglesias odds

It's raining books by and about Trumps

What's in a mane? Blond woman in the news

Liz Hurley denies dissing ex-beau

Rock Hall of Infamy: Anti-heroes from Elvis to Eminem

Barbra tix bankrupt fans

Laurels for Kathie Lee to rest on

Hillary "In bed" with De Niro, Cruise, Kidman

How "Sopranos," "West Wing" will divvy up awards

This just in: Donald Trump is not a dope

Walter Matthau: A rumpled old dog in the heart of the city

Sampras to take a stroke at wedding bells

Who wants to host "Monday Night Football"?

Queen rewards Tina Brown for demoralizing American readers

How the Korean War cane to TV land 20 years late

Ivanka Trump: From catwalk to commencement line

Lester Bangs: The troublesome punk who wouldn't die

Rags clash over Ted Turner "romance"

With straight face, Trump deems Marla's move "tacky"

"Friends" re-up for another season of top ratings, top money

Madonna in denial, and rightly so

"Suburbia": The continental subdivide

Howard Stern, Sly Stallone in bizarre, apocryphal triangle

Easter video viewing: "Spartacus" to "Harvey"

Billy’s in the news: Bob, Joel in love but not with other

"Charles's Angels" movie: Dispiriting news for old-time fans

Innovative career move for 'NYPD Blue' co-star

Top model: Why I gave oldish rocker husband the heave-ho

Unpleasantville: The awful truth about old-time TV families

Tina Brown held captive in desert by demanding children

Anybody's Oscar: Unusually suspenseful awards show looms

Oscar telecast: Looking for a few good hosts

"Lambs," "Beauty": Oscar's love affair with unacceptable behavior

Brad Pitt, Oscar to be in same room at same time

Letterman bites guest-host bullet: Andrew "Dice" Clay, call your agent

Seinfeld eyes East Hampton manse: Where's the welcome wagon?

"Mod Squad" Immortal dishes couple du jour

Brad Pitt's second thoughts about Oscar

Mike McCurry praises "West Wing": It's not entirely demeaning,,,"

Memo to "Hannibal" producers: Get Najimy while the getting's good

Don't Invite Gwyneth and Oscar to the same party

True or false: Douglas, Zeta-Jones don't even know each other

Ex-Clinton honcho linked to ex-"Cheers" costar

Third party cited in Trump-Knauss breakup

 Gossip queen goes to bat for Talk mag

20th century's No. 1 hit: "Satisfaction" hits the spot

Statement: Spice girl's marital problems insoluble

Charlie Brown, Pogo and me

From Howdy to Charlie Brown, we hate to say goodbye

The Beatle George: While his guitar gently weeps

Jodie Foster's people in mild tiff with CBS

A Peanuts trivia Q&A

Publicist: Boyle still joined at hip

There's video in your future and future in your video

"The future is now": Hit rewind

Whitney Houston presides over confluence of talent

Jim Carrey's flack earns A "D," Cher's A "B-minus"

Geraldo: bye-bye, doghouse

Michael Douglas does nothing much, reporters go wild

Ricky Martin on Menudo: Look back in anger

How to outsmart Halloween crowds at the video store

Tom Cruise puts himself in harm's way, only not really

1800-1900: Steaming towards revolution

1700-1800: Liberty, equality and bloodshed

1600-1700: The earth moves; North America is settled

Trump mulls travel plans, from altar to White House

"Faces of Impressionism" Time machine made of canvas, paint

Major quakes aren't personal unless they happen to you

Brad Pitt gracious about character assassination

Director insists Harrison Ford is not a brainless hulk

Costner, Willis, Douglas. Branagh, Sting_ in that order

Streisand: Color her ready to plug her new album

Julia and Benjamin's rings devoid of significance, flack says

Literary mud wrestling, featuring Geri and The Spice Girls

Urgent news: Ford to replace Gibson on "GMA" eventually

She married a monster from outer space

Never mind Godzilla VS. Mothra, Here's Trump VS. Cronkite

Spurned by Pitt, Redford pays court to Damon

Celebrity coyness is bustin' out all over

"Detroit Rock City": Kiss of death

Talk is cheap? Not with Tina Brown at the helm

The Beats: Remembered, Lionized and Unread

Real estate beat, starring Woody Allen and Donald Trump

Mood Music, or how we learned to stop worrying

Sex in the cinema: From "Last Tango" to "Eyes Wide Shut"

Two easy steps to looking exactly like Ricky Martin

Close encounters of the Muppet kind

Upcoming Brad Pitt movie not garbage, insiders say

Kathie Lee's eyewear excites Islanders' ire

Back to the future, continued

"Wild Wild West": Buck Rogers in the 19th century

Sculptures by Roy Lichtenstein: Fun, Fun, Fun

An expert's verdict:" Austin Powers" is pretty neat

Click here for pointless celebrity gossip

P. Dempsey Tabler of the jungle: The many faces of Tarzan

Kirk Douglas' Ex tells all about Errol Flynn fling

New twist in TV programming: Ax profitable shows

Private jet fees spell the end for another celebrity union

Killer serials: "Flash," "Buck" and a boy named George Lucas

Top nonfiction books: A message from two old men

Celebrity Dream dreams: Monica, Donald, Barbara, Georgette

Two divas, publicist form bizarre show-biz triangle

Johnny Cash tribute: Ring of fire, ring of friends

Streisand employee really upset about rumors

Grande Dame Eyes MGM Grand Gig

Secretive celebs? Not by a long shot

NBC honcho bristles at notion that Brokaw is not a saint

Barbara Walters not keen on daily dose of Monica

"Seen, Heard, Said"

David Letterman, Donald Trump, Eddie Murphy, Elton John

Madonna, Frank Sinatra, Prince Charles, Maj, Ronald Ferguson, Fergie, Miranda Richardson, Brad Pitt, Juliette Lewis, Axl Rose, Stephanie Seymour

December 31, 1999


By ROGER ANDERSON Scripps Howard News Service

In American popular culture, all good things come to an end. Or do they?

Actually, more often than not, they don't. Most comic strips fizzle out, and most TV shows get cancelled without anyone paying much attention.

Even great and much-beloved comic strips like "Blondie," "Dick Tracy," "Gasoline Alley," "Snuffy Smith" and scores of others don't end with either a big "Peanuts"-type bang OR with a whimper - they get passed on to a new generation of artists and writers, and their characters live forever.

Or a wildly popular strip like "Bloom County" will be transmuted by its creator, Berkeley Breathed, into a Sunday-only color outing called "Outland," with some of the same characters, obviating the need for tearful farewells. Or an irreplaceable TV show like "All in the Family" will go through a series of changes to become "Archie Bunker's Place."

But when a popular strip or a show has a definitive conclusion - as when Charles Schulz determined that Charlie Brown and the gang would retire with him, rather than being passed along to any team of creative pretenders (the last daily "Peanuts" strip appears Monday) - it's a gigantically big deal. Here's a look at some memorable examples.

- THE HOWDY DOODY SHOW, 1960: After 11 highly successful and lucrative seasons on the air, "Buffalo" Bob Smith's marionette and human pals bade farewell to their devoted Peanut Gallery public (whence the title, by the way, of the Schulz strip), with Clarabelle the mute clown closing the show by actually speaking for the first time: “Goodbye, kids."

- THE FUGITIVE, 1967: It's not so much that "The Fugitive," with David Janssen as a physician on the lam after being wrongly accused of murdering his wife, was "beloved" in the way that Howdy and Charlie Brown are. But it was a popular show, and the producers capitalized on the suspense element of the ongoing plot - who was "the one-armed man," and would he ever be brought to justice as the true killer of Mrs. Fugitive? - by resolving it in the last act, which won an unprecedented 72 share of the TV audience.

- THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, 1977: She could, and did, turn the world on with her smile for seven glorious seasons in one of the best-loved sitcoms in TV history. In the last episode, Mary Richards and all her pals at the Twin Cities TV station where they worked got fired by new owners. Before going their separate ways, they made the "group hug" an indelible part of American culture by putting their arms around one another and then tearfully moving en masse across the newsroom so Mary could get a Kleenex.

- MASH, 1983: Hawkeye, BJ, Radar, Hot Lips and the others all returned from Korea to the States without anyone ever explaining how they managed to age 11 years during a war that lasted three.

- NEWHART, 1990: Bob Newhart's second successful sitcom wasn't nearly as beloved as his first, "The Bob Newhart Show," which had brilliantly cast him as a Chicago psychologist equipped with the most unforgettable encounter group in history. Now "Bob" was a self-help author running a bed-and-breakfast in picturesque Vermont. During the show's run, semi-enthusiastic critics couldn't help pointing out at every opportunity that the new show was pretty much the same as the old one, with a different location and occupation. So the final "Newhart" episode had Bob the self-help author waking up to realize that he was really Bob the Chicago psychologist whose life in Vermont was only a dream.

- CALVIN AND HOBBES, 1996: Bill Watterson is the only latter-day comic-strip artist who could compete with Schulz at his own game - presenting the adventures of a boy and his quasi-imaginary pet tiger in a manner that was at once hilarious and heart-warming. Wearied with the huge pressures of turning out a daily strip and disillusioned by shrinking space for creative cartoonery in the nation's newspapers, he ended the strip on Jan. 1, 1996, with Calvin and Hobbes sledding off into a winter wonderland with the words: "Let's go exploring ... "

- SEINFELD, 1998: The most beloved of totally unlovable television sitcoms, "Seinfeld" was like a TV version of "Peanuts" in which all the characters were modeled on Lucy. The final episode was one of the most touted events in broadcast history, landing the characters in prison for breaking a "good Samaritan" law.

- PEANUTS, 2000: Just a few short breaths shy of a full half-century, Charles Schulz calls his little rascals in for hot cocoa and a long nap.

Roger Anderson is arts and entertainment editor at Scripps Howard News Service.

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