The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio on September 29, 1991 · Page 64
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September 29, 1991

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The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio · Page 64

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Cincinnati, Ohio
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Sunday, September 29, 1991
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Page 64
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EDITOR: SARA PEARCE, 369-1011 THE QNQNNAT1 ENQUIRER SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 1991 SECTION F " "o) 1 rAlnl U S) (si """1 c,i,f Pop music f I tf - - - lV W v . . r. . S )c There was plenty of pathos as Jane Purvis, above, of Hamilton was reunited with two children she hadn't seen in 35 years. SPRINGER 1 A :; MS SPE t i Country music lost its soul by going pop Country has grown cold and gone corporate. In pursuit of a buffed-up image, a fancy new audience and bigger bucks, the once rough-and-tumble music has cleaned up its act. The new country embraces beauty queens and clean-shaven cowboys with good-guy grins while grizzled cowpokes ride off into the sunset and honky-tonk angels switch to diet colas. Along the way, the music has gone straight to . . . corporate heaven. Sales are up and country's gone pop. Garth Brooks' new album, Ropin' With The Wind, made history by lassoing the top spot of Billboard's 200 Top Albums chart for Sept. 28. With 2.6 million copies shipped in its initial eight days on sale, Ropin' is the first country recording to be No. 1 on the pop-dominated list. Brooks' position reflects country's new-found selling power and ... its freshly lost soul. Sales up Country record sales for 1990 were up 33 over 1989's figures when the music of soft hearts and steel guitars accounted for 6.8 of the $6.4 billion worth of records sold. This increase carries a hefty price tag. Country sold its soul to sell records. Look at the list of nominees for Wednesday night's 25th Annual Country Music Association Awards. There's not a hell-raiser or a hell-raising record among the contenders for Entertainer and Song of the Year. Politico, commentator on world events, news anchor . . . Cincinnati's Jerry Springer goes nationwide, taking his microphone into the audience for his newest career BY JOHN KIESEWETTER The Cincinnati Enquirer 1 W i 4, Si eventually introduced to her son, who had stood up in the audience and asked a question: "Do you have any idea what your son looks like? Hi, Mom!" Then they hugged on stage, and Springer said: "Well, it's time to go to the Kleenex. We're going to take a break. We'll be right back." An hour later, the top-rated news anchor and former "boy mayor" talked about his own feelings as he prepares for a third career at age 47. The man who turned to television after losing the 1982 primary for Ohio governor is about to enter the crowded daytime TV talk-show field, where contenders outnumber the Democratic Party's presidential candidates. A day to remember "How many rushes in a life can a person have? I felt today like the day I was sworn in to be mayor (1977), or the day I did my first commentary (1982) or newscast (1984)," says Springer, who will keep his nightly anchor desk job. "I'm lucky. I'm really lucky." Talk some more, Jerry. What's going on in your head? "I've never done this before. You can practice the physical stuff, the running up and down the aisles, and how you hold the mike. But there is no way for you to rehearse for this until you stand out there. It isn't like you've got to memorize your lines. There are no lines. "But this is amazing. It's like The Entertainer of the Year ballot sports Clint Black, Garth Brooks, Vince Gill, Reba McEntire and George Strait. That last name says it The Cincinnati EnquirerMichael E. Keating Garth Brooks Before stepping onto the stage, Jerry Springer was busy working the room, as any good politician or news anchor would. Standing off in the wings, behind the Jerry Springer audience entrance, was his television running mate, Norma Rashid. "There's Norma!" Springer shouted, and the 150 people squeezed into folding chairs in the WLWT studio for the premiere taping applauded thunderously. "Normally when I screw up on the news, I just say, 'Norma!' " said Springer, whose daily syndicated TV talk show debuts Monday in Cincinnati (10 a.m., Channel 5), Los Angeles and four other cities. "But people in LA will say, 'Norma?!? What?!? " Minutes later, Springer was doing a stiff Phil Donahue imitation, bounding around inside the gray-and-rust studio walls of Channel 5's fifth-floor studio, once the TV home of Bob Braun, Ruth Lyons and Paul Dixon. He'd stick a microphone into the faces of studio guests with questions for his first TV panel Jane Purvis of Hamilton and the two children she had not seen for 35 years or stand with arms folded across chest, politely strip-mining for emotional gems. 'Talk some more' "Talk some more," he implored. "What's going on in your head now!" The tearful Purvis, seated on stage clutching the hand of her daughter, Sandy Mrasak, was so overwrought she could hardly speak. Many people in the studio audience were dabbing their eyes as Purvis recalled how she was shot six times by her husband, who then fatally shot himself in 1956; and how a Georgia court took away her children, ages 4 years and 4 months, because she was seriously ill with no income. They gasped when she was all. This is a Top: Diana Casebolt, mother of two young children, burst into tears while asking Jane Purvis how she could endure 35 years without seeing her children. She was one of many people in the audience moved to tears. Right: Springer goes over his closing comments with executive producer Burt Dubrow, standing, and Michael Holt, a prompter operator. you're in a room with 150 people, and you're working a lounge. If they gave me a band, I could sing! "All I've got to worry about is handling a nice one hour of a human relationship. All the other people will handle the TV show." Yes, Jerry Springer is going big time. Going solo. And going soft, some will say. That stately nightly news commentator, the anchorman who organized medical relief for Ethiopia, will be seen on TV (Please see SPRINGER, Page F-4) -x SI I 'Wff -. fVvj- strait-laced bunch. McEntire is so straight and so safe, she's hosting the CMA Awards show. Gill's music sounds as he looks, like an amiable TV news anchor with hair spray head. With their chiseled jaws jutting out from under their cowboy hats, Black and Strait sing country music that's been sanitized for your protection. Despite the controversy surrounding the violent video to his wife-cheating, husband-beating song, "The Thunder Rolls," Brooks writes and sings with both hands tied behind his back. For Song of the Year, the nominees are just as tepid. "Don't Rock The Jukebox," "Friends In Low Places," "Here In The Real World," "The Dance" and "When I Call Your Name" are a staid bunch. Of that pack, only Brooks' hit "Friends In Low Places" gives a hint of hell-raising. But Brooks' friends are nothing like Hank Williams Jr.'s in the 1985 hit, "All My Rowdy Friends Are Comin' Over Tonight." Brooks' pals are friendly folks. Have them over for a beer, and they might get a little loud. But they'll keep a lid on it as Brooks does when he sings. They won't hoot and holler after midnight. Don't want to upset the neighbors. Somebody might call the cops. Image needs overhaul Williams' friends are a rowdy bunch. Where Brooks' buddies are quick to break into a grin, Williams' live to bend elbows and bust up the joint. Now, I'm not advocating that country music return to its old ways and become a home for wayward boozers. But, the music needs to lighten up. Its squeaky-clean, conservative ways are just too corporate and too incongruous. They're based on a look that consists of 10-gallon hats only a drugstore cowboy would wear and pretty faces fit for GQ. This goes against the grain of the music's earthy roots and stunts its current crop of tunes. Duded up country musicians with fashion-model faces produce bloodless music that's all posturing and no passion. In this line of work, when you sing about a broken heart, it helps to sound like you have one to break. 'Carmen Sandiego' hopes kids are game to learn geography V&jzi? 0 in if jLi mi mi-'"-!-'" Control and Nickelodeon children's shows. Taylor is not concerned about the national promotion that could boost computer game sales. "We haven't taken a doll or a breakfast cereal and made it into a television show. We've taken what we see as a positive piece of education that's been well respected among educators and in schools," she says. The goal is for young viewers to have "positive associations" about geography and PBS. After all, PBS was the first network most children watched, for Sesame Street and Mister Rogers. "If geography were a subject that was being well-taught in the schools," Taylor says, "then we in public television would go off and do a show about something else. We picked geography because there's a need out there." If kids catch on to Carmen Sandiego, the fast-paced series may do for geography what Wheel Of Fortune did for Vanna White make it a household word. Carmen Sandiego could put geography on the map. PBS"'Showcase Week," Page F-5. duced WonderWorks, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and Anne Of Green Gables lor PBS. For $3 million, PBS received 65 shows (13 weeks) of Carmen Sandiego. In TV, that's a bargain. Each show is packed with "70 bits" of geography information aimed at viewers ages 8 to 13, some delivered by guest stars ranging from Walter Cronkite to rapper Kool Moe Dee. Kids at home can play along as three studio contestants try to nab Patty Larceny, Robocrook and other villains. Clues come in all shapes and sizes from puppets, cartoon characters, host Greg Lee (from Nickelodeon's Total Panic), the detective agency "Chief Lynne Thigpen and members of Rockapella, the house vocal group (which sang Taco Bell's recent "rock art cup" campaign). Taylor selected Carmen Sandiego because the personal computer games five titles in all were popular with her children, and their neighborhood pals. Teachers and hundreds of school children advised producers on how to convert Carmen into PC to TV, says the third co-executive producer, Howard Blumen-thal, who helped develop MTV's fiemofe BY JOHN KIESEWETTER The Cincinnati Enquirer Where in the world is Carmen Sandie-gol It's on public television the last place you'd look for a game show. The Public Broadcasting Service enters the game show business this week with a hip geography quiz show based on popular geography computer software, another clue that stuffy PBS is continuing to change its image. It's so important that Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego? will air three times Monday in its new daytime slot (5 p.m., Channels 48, 16) and in a one-hour, prime-time preview (8 p.m., Channels 48, 16, 54) as PBS promotes its fall lineup in "Showcase Week." (Last year, "Showcase Week" and The Civil War increased PBS' fall ratings by 7.) Why in the world a game show? It's fun. It's cool. It's inexpensive. And it's what kids watch anyway. "Research shows that kids adore game shows. They love Jeopardy! They love Wheel Of Fortune," says co-executive producer Kate Taylor, whose PBS credits include Degrassi High and Long Ago & Far Away. Greg Lee of Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?, a hip geography quiz show. "We did not want ... a program that was specifically teachy or preachy," she says. "We wanted a show that was fun." Co-executive producer Jay Rayvid agrees. "There is a really important feeling about creating a new and forceful concept of programming for public broadcasting that will create some new energy, and also create a cost-effective new way to reach kids," says Rayvid, who has pro The 25th Annual Country Music Association Awards airs 9 p.m. Wednesday on Channels 9, 7. New country releases, Page F-2. n

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