The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 17, 1998 · Page 13
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 13

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Salina, Kansas
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Sunday, May 17, 1998
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Page 13
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THE SALIfsl^JOURNAL Life ENGAGEMENTS / B4 CROSSWORD / B6 MONEY / B8 B Ga&t. '. Hbotietlbr By DAN ENGLAND The Salina Journal Dwayne sits in a bar in the middle of the afternoon, and the television is loud enough to overpower a Kiss concert. Dwayne laughs. He's laughing at two girls on the television who apparently don't like each other. It's easy to draw this conclusion because their fists are in each other's hair, and they are pulling at it as if it were crabgrass. Two huge guys who look like failed football linemen quickly break them up, but it doesn't take long for the females to start clawing at each other again. The squawking, most of it coming out in a flurry of bleeps, threatens to crack the glass that holds Dwayne's beverage. Dwayne, a Salinan, is a fan of the "Jerry Springer Show." "I like to watch how the other half lives," he said. "This is trailer-trash living, I guess. It's a lifestyle I wouldn't know anything about. I just like the whole controversy thing, and a few cat fights don't hurt." Dwayne didn't want his last name used, and that's not a surprise. See, the thing is, most fans won't defend the Jerry Springer show. But they will watch it. They might apologize for it, but they will watch it. "It's.not like I'm planning my life around the show," Dwayne said. "But if I happen to be at home, or at a bar, there you go." Nationally it ranks number Salina fans of Jerry Springer's talk show adm'rt they can't stop watching the program one among talk shows, including Oprah Winfrey's, and in Salina, Jerry has hooked a number of fans who watch the program almost religiously. It's a hot show. So hot that show staff couldn't return a phone call from a mid-sized newspaper that covers central Kansas. The talk show, shown daily at 3 p.m. on ABC (Salina cable 9) and 1 a.m. on Fox (Salina cable 4), features guests who come to air their grievances. But the guests, and what those guests do, separate the Springer show from the glut of other hour-long talk shows competing for daytime air time. The guests are sisters who are pregnant by their brothers, lesbians in love triangles and men who find out that their girlfriends actually are transvestites. And they always fight. Vickie Withee of Salina watches it every day for that very reason. "I watch it to see a good fight," she said. "I was bored one day, and I turned the TV to a fight, and I watched it to see what the next couple would do." There has been some controversy lately about Springer's show. According to a recent As- Chrls Strenkert holds his 17-month-old son, Zack, as mom, Laurie, and talk show host Jerry Springer look on during an Aug. 19, 1996, taping of the "Jerry Springer Show" In Chicago. The show, popular for its treatment of bizarre subject matter, arranged for Zack, who weighed 70 pounds, to be treated by a genetic specialist In an attempt to find a cause and a cure for his obesity. sociated Press article, a Catholic priest in Chicago is leading a boycott of the show after decrying the "nudity, the degradation of women, the obscenity." Also, a recent "Rolling Stone" article claimed the fights either might be staged or the guests might be coached into fighting. But Withee could care less. "I think everything is staged," she said. "The shows are stupid, but the fights are good." In an apparent response to criticism, Springer's producer- distributor agreed two weeks ago to eliminate the physical violence. Yet, Springer retorted that he wasn't going to tone down the show. "I don't know why they issued that statement," Springer said. "That's absurd.... I don't want to tone it down." The show recently did film its first show without fighting, to air in the first week of June, but that may be because of its subject matter: People who want to marry their pets. They feel their pain The show is popular because the average American can identify, in one way or another, with the show's guests, said Frank Chorba, professor of mass media at Washburn University who teaches courses on television. "It's a way of saying 'You know darn well I've been feeling this way myself,' " Chorba said. "It's a catharsis. You have people who work all day, and they have their frustrations, such as neighbors who they can't stand, and they wouldn't dare think of going on television. But this gives them a chance to get on the playing field and kick somebody around." See SPRINGER, Page B6 THE BIO JERRY SPRINGER Born: 1944, London, England. Immigrated to New York City with his parents at age 5. Education: Bachelor's in political science from Tulane University, 1965. Law degree from Northwestern University, 1968. Political career: Elected Cincinnati's Council-at-Large in 1971, serving five years. Elected Mayor of Cincinnati at the age of 33. Broadcasting: Political reporter and commentator at WLWT-TV in Cincinnati. In 1984, Springer became anchor and managing editor. Awards: Seven Emmy awards for nightly news commentaries. Voted "Best Anchor" by "Cincinnati Magazine" five consecutive years. Jerry Springer Show: The daily, one-hour talk show premiered on Sept. 30,1991. Other talents: Springer has written the title cut of his new File photo country music CD "Dr. Talk". When scheduling allows, he now is opening for country singer Billy Ray Cyrus. COMMENT Weak-kneed need not apply for Rockette holiday show There aren't many places where you can still say, "Nice legs," and have it taken as a compliment instead of a form of harassment, but I spent a ^ recent Saturday morning at one. Nice legs were a given at an audition for the Radio City Rockettes, though. What was more important was what the 43 * women who showed up at a dance studio at Arizona State University could do with them. If-they stepped, kicked, tapped and spun on them well enough, they could get BILL GOODYKOONTZ The Arizona Republic within one cut of landing a part in the 1998 Radio City Christmas Spectacular, which will play in New York, Chicago, Detroit, Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Branson, Mo., in December. (The final selections will be made in June from finalists in Phoenix and nine other cities.) Before the audition, the women gathered in the studio to stretch. Limber? Uh, yes, in the same way Bill Gates is rich. Doing a split was a given; they did them casually, without thinking, the way a pianist might crack his knuckles before attacking Bach. A voice called from the hallway: "Has everyone been measured?" Each dancer must be between 5 feet 5V» inches and 5 feet 9 inches tall. "You're 5 feet 10, but don't let that stop you from auditioning," one dancer was told. Linda Haberman, the Rockette choreographer, said she was looking mostly for a basic set of skills, a certain level of technical ability. Precision is key to the Rock- ettes. Only after wading through several cuts would more subjective attributes, such as energy and personality, become more important. Dennis Callahan, the assistant director of choreography, and Becky Downing, a real-live Rockette, led the hopefuls through a dance routine so complicated I don't know how to describe it — maybe like trying to play chess while in the middle of an advanced aerobics class. After running through the basics, the women were split into groups of three for the actual audition. Haberman took notes on each group. When all were done, she called out 12 names — those who made the first cut. Those 12 were taught a tap step, then performed it in groups of three. Then another cut was made, to seven. That bunch was taught the high-kicking steps you think of when you think of the Rockettes. Another routine followed. Then, as the seven gathered and paced about nervous- ly, looking a little like a pack of frightened animals at the zoo, the announcement came: No more cuts. Whew. It was an especially big relief for Michelle Hames of Tyler, Texas. This was her fourth audition. She tried out in New York, San Francisco and Dallas before Phoenix; she had tickets to Los Angeles and Las Vegas booked, just in case. "I'm very persistent," she said. But would any of these dancers make the final cut in June? "I think there are some possibilities," Haberman said. She wouldn't say more, so it's hard to know if any one dancer had a, well, leg up on the competition. SUGGESTIONS? CALL BECKY FITZGERALD, LIFE EDITOR, AT (785) 823-6363 OR 1-800-827-6363 OR E-MAIL AT sjbfitzgerald@sallournal.com

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