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
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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

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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

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

Statement: Spice girl's marital problems insoluble

Charlie Brown, Pogo and me

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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

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"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

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

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

Trump mulls travel plans, from altar to White House

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Brad Pitt gracious about character assassination

Director insists Harrison Ford is not a brainless hulk

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Literary mud wrestling, featuring Geri and The Spice Girls

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She married a monster from outer space

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Spurned by Pitt, Redford pays court to Damon

Celebrity coyness is bustin' out all over

"Detroit Rock City": Kiss of death

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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

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Grande Dame Eyes MGM Grand Gig

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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

June 19, 2000

How the Korean 'War came to TV land 20 years late

By ROGER ANDERSON Scripps Howard News Service

When it comes to entertainment, the Korean War was nothing like World War II.

The Big One wasn't even over before Hollywood started inundating the public with war-related film "product."

Never mind "over" - a WWII movie like "Casablanca" was actually filmed before the United States had even entered the war.

WWII movies appeared on screens all during the time the conflict was raging, and following VE and VJ days they kept coming in a stream that hasn't abated yet, although it has ebbed and flowed.

Not so Korea and Vietnam - traumas that raised far more ambivalent, difficult feelings than the War against Hitler.

No movies or dramatic TV shows were made about Vietnam till the conflict was over, with the sole exception of "The Green Berets," starring John Wayne, and that says it all.

Officially, what transpired in Korea wasn't even a "war," so perhaps it's small wonder that Hollywood - so quick to batten on anything unequivocal, so perplexed by anything else, couldn't figure out what to do with the material, although a small handful of mostly unremarkable Korea-themed movies did find their way to theaters in the'5Os.

But it wasn't until 1969, 16 years after the cessation of hostilities, that a former combat surgeon writing under the pseudonym Richard D. Hooker published a wartime satirical novel titled "M*A*S*H," patently inspired by the wild goings-on in Joseph Heller's "Catch 22," a WWII novel that was really about the McCarthyite '5Os.

Entertainment history was made when Robert Altman got the assignment to turn the Korean War story of "M*A*S*H" - an acronym for "Mobile Army Surgical Hospital" - into a movie that, as it turned out, was really about Vietnam, complete with hirsute, hedonistic heroes.

The film - rambunctious and anarchic in the extreme - was an unlooked-for success, making the next step inevitable: a
"M*A*S*H" TV series.

To anyone familiar with the series who hasn't seen the movie it was based on, Altman's film may come as a shock.

In the series, the protagonists are anti-authoritarian but decent guys who are fond of women and gin martinis but are chiefly motivated by a desire to do the right thing. As the series continued, becoming ever more successful and beloved, the characters became ever more humane and lovable.

In the movie, the same characters are outright destructive drunks who leave mayhem and confusion in their wake, just barely managing to help out the less fortunate almost as an afterthought and meting out truly sadistic treatment to the Frank Burns and Margaret Houlihan characters.

Altman's angry outburst against the reality of Vietnam was thus transformed by TV producers into a liberal reflection on war's inhumanity tricked out with adorable characters, all suitable for living-room companionship and top ratings.

A major irony is that the series ran for 11 years, while the war it supposedly was based on was over in three.

An even bigger irony is that the series wasn't, after all, really about Korea. It was about Vietnam, a war that ended in 1975, while "M*A*S*H" was topping the Nielsens, and wouldn't get its own TV series until "China Beach" went on the air - in 1987.

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

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