These Folks We Lost in 2013 Will Also Be Missed

Clockwise, from top left: entertainer Eydie Gorme, USA Today founder Al Neuharth,, medical researcher Dr. Janet Rowley, a division of the Tuskegee Airmen, La Quinta Inn founder Sam Barshop, and Mother Antonia Brenner.

Clockwise, from top left: entertainer Eydie Gorme, USA Today founder Al Neuharth, medical researcher Dr. Janet Rowley, a division of the Tuskegee Airmen, La Quinta Inn founder Sam Barshop, and Mother Antonia Brenner.

Humanitarian Nelson Mandela. Actor Peter O’Toole. Novelist Tom Clancy. Interviewer David Frost. Actress Julie Harris. Senator Harry Byrd Jr.

They are among the very famous who left us in 2013. But we also owe goodbyes to many others whose passing might have escaped our attention.

Sam Barshop had an idea for a mid-priced hotel that would combine the styling of a country inn with the facilities of an urban establishment — the kind that would be emulated by Comfort Inn and Hampton Inn, among others. He built his first hotel in San Antonio in 1968 and now La Quinta Inns number over 700. Barshop was 84.

Harvey Littleton grew up near the glass factory in Corning, N.Y. His dad was director of research there, but Harvey saw glass as an art form. One of the world’s most renowned glass sculptors, his pieces are displayed in museums worldwide. He was 91.

Dr. Janet Rowley was a pioneer in medical research. Her work at the University of Chicago led to targeted drug treatment for leukemia, saving tens of thousands of lives. Rowley succumbed to ovarian cancer at age 88.

In 1956 Richard Heffner created a public-TV series called “Open Mind” and served as its host until his death. As talented a listener as he was an interviewer, Heffner was 88.

When Chicago radio station WLS switched to rock ‘n roll in 1960 it had no use for the numerous farm magazines that arrived each week. Larry Lujack began reading from the journals in what came to be known as hilarious “Animal Stories.” The self-described Superjock was 73.

Author Barbara Park created the irrepressible kindergartner Junie B. Jones, who appeared in 29 books that together sold over 55 million copies. Park was 66.

When Dick Van Dyke found he’d have to dance in “Mary Poppins,” he requested Marc Breaux as choreographer. Breaux created such terrific dance numbers that he was hired for “The Sound of Music” and other memorable films. Breaux was 89.

Don Daily never finished high school, but he taught himself to program computers. In the 1980s he began creating chess software and Komodo was the most successful. When Komodo 6 came out in October Daily told fans he was dying of leukemia. He was 57.

MIT librarian Ann Wolpert helped create one of the earliest open access programs for online learning. Then, in 2009 she developed the Open Access Mandate under which more than 150 universities provide access to research documents. She was 70.

Joseph Gomer was one of the last surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen, the elite squad of black fighter pilots in World War II. Gomer, who flew 68 combat missions, was 93.

In the book about her life she’s known as “The Prison Angel.” Mother Antonia Brenner was an American nun who chose to care for inmates at the notorious maximum-security La Mesa Prison in Mexico. She was 86.

Nowadays she’s well known to viewers of the Showtime hit “Masters of Sex.” Virginia Johnson and her partner William Masters pioneered research into human sexuality. She was 88.

By the time New Yorker Evelyn Kozak died in August she had been declared the oldest Jewish person in history. She was 113.

As a boy, Joseph Unanue’s special skill was bottling olives. The family business became Goya Foods, the nation’s largest Hispanic-owned food purveyor. Unanue, given the Bronze Star for bravery in World War II, was 88.

David Kern graduated from the Brooklyn College of Pharmacy and years later used that training to invent Orajel, the medication that relieves gum pain. He was 103.

Kenneth Batteile was hairdresser to the stars. He created Jackie Kennedy’s bouffant and hairdos for Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe. Known professionally as simply Kenneth, he was 86.

Jane Henson met Jim when they were freshmen at the University of Maryland. They became puppeteers and together invented the Muppets. Jane Henson was 78.

His 1982 creation was mocked and dubbed “McPaper.” But Al Neuharth’s USA Today helped redefine print journalism in its transition to the digital age. He was 89.

Eydie Gorme met Steve Lawrence in 1953 on the “Tonight Show” and they married a few years later. They charmed audiences as a sweetheart vocal team, with hits such as “Blame It on the Bossa Nova.” Steve was at her side when she died at 84.

The year ends, but the legacies live on.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Peter Funt

Peter FuntIn print and on television, Peter Funt continues the Funt Family tradition of making people smile – while examining the human condition.

After 15 years hosting the landmark TV series “Candid Camera,” Peter writes frequent op-eds for The Boston Globe and The Wall Street Journal as well as his weekly column distributed by the Cagle Cartoon Syndicate. His writing contains the same pointed social observations that have made “Candid Camera” so popular since its invention by Peter’s dad, Allen, back in 1947. His new book, "Cautiously Optimistic," takes America's temperature in six-dozen essays, guaranteed to make readers think and smile. It's available at Amazon.com and through CandidCamera.com.

Peter Funt actually made his first appearance on “Candid Camera” when he and the legendary series were each just three years old. Peter posed as a shoeshine boy who charged $10 per shoe! Since that time he has appeared in hundreds of “Candid Camera” sequences, hosted over 200 network episodes.

In addition to his hidden-camera work, Peter Funt has produced and hosted TV specials on the Arts & Entertainment and Lifetime cable networks. He also spent five years as an editor and reporter with ABC News in New York.

Earlier in his career, Peter wrote dozens of articles for The New York Times and TV Guide about television and film. He was editor and publisher of the television magazine On Cable. And he authored the book "Gotcha!" for Grosset & Dunlap on the lost art of practical joking.

Peter’s essay on the evolution of television is included in “The Story of American Business,” published in 2009 by Harvard Business Press.

Peter also follows in his father's footsteps as President of Laughter Therapy Foundation, a non-profit organization started by Allen Funt in 1982. Drawing from the Candid Camera library, Laughter Therapy sends special videos, at no charge, to critically ill people throughout the U.S.

Peter Funt received his degree in journalism from the University of Denver. In 2010 he returned to the Denver campus to be honored as a Master Scholar in Arts and Humanities.

He is a past winner of the annual Silurian's Award for radio news reporting, for his ABC News coverage of racial disturbances in Asbury Park, NJ.

More Posts - Website

In Shadow of Navy Yard Shooting, Maryland Shows Courage

concealed-handgun

Photo courtesy of Publik16 / Flickr

Photo courtesy of Publik16 / Flickr

There’s a certain type of bravery taking place in the nation’s 19th most populous state, whose border is about two miles from the Washington Navy Yard, scene of a horrifying mass gun attack.

A tough new gun law takes effect in Maryland Oct. 1. It’s not lip-service tough. Not politically-measured tough. This law is tough in a way that confirms the bravery of the state legislators who voted for it and Gov. Martin O’Malley who signed it.

The law should be a blueprint for the nation. Here’s what it says:

If you want to buy a handgun, you must be fingerprinted, take a safety test and get a $50 license. Even then, you may only purchase one such gun every 30 days.

If you want to buy an AK-47, AR-15 or any of 45 other semi-automatics and copycats, forget it. You can’t.

You also can’t buy a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds, and you can’t own the type of “cop-killer” bullets that have led to the deaths of at least 35 officers in the last decade.

There’s a lot more: a uniform procedure by which dealers and state police register firearms; a ban on those with criminal records or mental health problems from owning guns and all types of ammunition, and a new requirement for state police to shut down rogue dealers whose guns show up in a disproportionate number of crimes.

It’s tough. You know that because the NRA and a lot of its supporters here hate it.

And you know it has teeth because for the last month or so there’s been a run on handguns and automatic weapons at shops like Realco Guns here in District Heights. Statewide, gun sales in September have been about seven times the levels of a year ago.

That’s an unfortunate byproduct of the new law. Even more unfortunate is that until other states pass similar laws, and until the federal government deals more aggressively with Internet guns sales, Maryland’s efforts will only be partially effective.

“Our tears are not enough,” President Obama declared after 12 people were shot by a gunman at the DC Navy Yard. But the president’s own gun legislation has been blocked in Congress and has no chance in this session.

Also troubling is that firearms manufacturers remain exempted from the type of product-liability laws that govern so many other products. Indeed, since 2005 federal law has moved in the opposite direction by offering specific protection to gun makers in lawsuits and other claims.

Violent crime here in Maryland has already reached an historic low according to state figures. But Gov. O’Malley notes, “Just one life lost to senseless violence is one too many.” He correctly labeled the new law “a common sense approach” to dealing with the nation’s gun nightmare that has extended from Aurora, to Newtown, to the Washington Navy Yard — with many horrifying stops between.

Colorado’s lawmakers have also addressed the gun plague bravely, with new laws that expand the state’s background-check system to include private sales; keep guns out of the hands of criminals; limit ammunition magazines to 15 rounds, and prohibit domestic abusers from buying or keeping guns.

Which state’s lawmakers will be the next to show enough gumption to implement similar laws?

Here in Maryland, the man behind the counter at Realco Guns was struggling to serve a crowd of customers on a weekday morning, just a few days before the new law was to take effect. “We don’t give out information, we don’t do interviews, and we don’t answer questions,” he said.

Then, taking a quick step back, he added, “Unless you want to buy a gun.”

Enhanced by Zemanta

Peter Funt

Peter FuntIn print and on television, Peter Funt continues the Funt Family tradition of making people smile – while examining the human condition.

After 15 years hosting the landmark TV series “Candid Camera,” Peter writes frequent op-eds for The Boston Globe and The Wall Street Journal as well as his weekly column distributed by the Cagle Cartoon Syndicate. His writing contains the same pointed social observations that have made “Candid Camera” so popular since its invention by Peter’s dad, Allen, back in 1947. His new book, "Cautiously Optimistic," takes America's temperature in six-dozen essays, guaranteed to make readers think and smile. It's available at Amazon.com and through CandidCamera.com.

Peter Funt actually made his first appearance on “Candid Camera” when he and the legendary series were each just three years old. Peter posed as a shoeshine boy who charged $10 per shoe! Since that time he has appeared in hundreds of “Candid Camera” sequences, hosted over 200 network episodes.

In addition to his hidden-camera work, Peter Funt has produced and hosted TV specials on the Arts & Entertainment and Lifetime cable networks. He also spent five years as an editor and reporter with ABC News in New York.

Earlier in his career, Peter wrote dozens of articles for The New York Times and TV Guide about television and film. He was editor and publisher of the television magazine On Cable. And he authored the book "Gotcha!" for Grosset & Dunlap on the lost art of practical joking.

Peter’s essay on the evolution of television is included in “The Story of American Business,” published in 2009 by Harvard Business Press.

Peter also follows in his father's footsteps as President of Laughter Therapy Foundation, a non-profit organization started by Allen Funt in 1982. Drawing from the Candid Camera library, Laughter Therapy sends special videos, at no charge, to critically ill people throughout the U.S.

Peter Funt received his degree in journalism from the University of Denver. In 2010 he returned to the Denver campus to be honored as a Master Scholar in Arts and Humanities.

He is a past winner of the annual Silurian's Award for radio news reporting, for his ABC News coverage of racial disturbances in Asbury Park, NJ.

More Posts - Website

Keeping the Status Quo in This Year’s Election

Photo courtesy of Imagined Reality

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama were more gracious and eloquent after the election than during the long campaign. They each sent the right signals Tuesday night, but will anything change?

The real news of the ’12 election is that the nation is more sharply divided than ever.

“At a time like this,” Romney told his Boston audience, “we can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing.” He said things in America are at a “critical point,” and he appealed to citizens as well as politicians to “rise to the occasion.”

For once, it didn’t sound like political-speak. It was the conclusion of a man who loves his country and had just lost an election despite winning the male vote, the white vote, the married vote, and the vote of people over age 45.

In Chicago, President Obama told an enthusiastic crowd, “What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth.” Obama won a remarkable 93 percent of the black vote, plus over 70 percent of the Hispanic and Asian vote. He won among females, unmarried people, and those earning less than $50,000 a year.

In truth, Obama and Romney were each victorious — among the distinctly different segments of our population for which each party’s platform was designed. Voters, for the most part, were over-informed. Rich folks knew that Obama wanted to raise their taxes; poor people knew that Romney hoped to cut their government assistance. And so forth and so on, through a long and contentious list of issues from reproductive rights, to gay rights; from energy to environment.

Perhaps the clearest sign of how sharply divided the nation is on economic and social issues is that war — usually a flashpoint in presidential elections, especially when we’re in the middle of one — seemed to matter very little. Indeed, the candidates were hard pressed in their final debate on foreign affairs to find points on which they disagreed.

“The recognition that we have common hopes and dreams won’t end all the gridlock,” the president said, “or solve all our problems or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus and making the difficult compromises needed to move this country forward.”

Hours later there was a slight hint at progress, as House Speaker John Boehner said Republicans are now willing to “accept new revenue” as a means to avoid the “fiscal cliff.”

Sen. Olympia Snowe, the moderate Republican from Maine who is stepping down, cautions, “Our leaders must understand that there is not only strength in compromise, courage in conciliation and honor in consensus-building — but also a political reward for following these tenets.” Alas, Snowe believes things won’t change in the foreseeable future.

The nation entered the 2012 election with only a handful of “battleground” states not clearly defined as red or blue. Based on Tuesday’s results there will be even fewer such battlegrounds in the years ahead.

The encouraging news for Democrats is that the population continues to expand in their direction. The frustration for Republicans is that no amount of campaign spending or sophisticated marketing will change people’s minds about certain core beliefs. Thus, the GOP can’t broaden its base without fundamentally altering some of its positions.

When all was said and done, the nation decided to pretty much leave things exactly where they’ve been.

To borrow an old cliche from the legal profession, President Obama seems to have won the equivalent of a pie-eating contest, in which the prize is more pie.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Peter Funt

Peter FuntIn print and on television, Peter Funt continues the Funt Family tradition of making people smile – while examining the human condition.

After 15 years hosting the landmark TV series “Candid Camera,” Peter writes frequent op-eds for The Boston Globe and The Wall Street Journal as well as his weekly column distributed by the Cagle Cartoon Syndicate. His writing contains the same pointed social observations that have made “Candid Camera” so popular since its invention by Peter’s dad, Allen, back in 1947. His new book, "Cautiously Optimistic," takes America's temperature in six-dozen essays, guaranteed to make readers think and smile. It's available at Amazon.com and through CandidCamera.com.

Peter Funt actually made his first appearance on “Candid Camera” when he and the legendary series were each just three years old. Peter posed as a shoeshine boy who charged $10 per shoe! Since that time he has appeared in hundreds of “Candid Camera” sequences, hosted over 200 network episodes.

In addition to his hidden-camera work, Peter Funt has produced and hosted TV specials on the Arts & Entertainment and Lifetime cable networks. He also spent five years as an editor and reporter with ABC News in New York.

Earlier in his career, Peter wrote dozens of articles for The New York Times and TV Guide about television and film. He was editor and publisher of the television magazine On Cable. And he authored the book "Gotcha!" for Grosset & Dunlap on the lost art of practical joking.

Peter’s essay on the evolution of television is included in “The Story of American Business,” published in 2009 by Harvard Business Press.

Peter also follows in his father's footsteps as President of Laughter Therapy Foundation, a non-profit organization started by Allen Funt in 1982. Drawing from the Candid Camera library, Laughter Therapy sends special videos, at no charge, to critically ill people throughout the U.S.

Peter Funt received his degree in journalism from the University of Denver. In 2010 he returned to the Denver campus to be honored as a Master Scholar in Arts and Humanities.

He is a past winner of the annual Silurian's Award for radio news reporting, for his ABC News coverage of racial disturbances in Asbury Park, NJ.

More Posts - Website

Tampa Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Photo courtesy of PBS Newshour

The Republican convention raised two key questions for swing voters. Does form trump substance? Is fiction more compelling than fact?

Compressed into three nights, the GOP event was the most carefully staged and artfully executed political gathering in U.S. history. Every touch — from the dynamic lighting that made each speaker look younger and healthier, to the emergence of future conservative stars like New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, to the glorious singing of BeBe Winans — made for compelling viewing. Free of distractions, such as arguing over nominees or writing a platform, the event was a brilliant execution of the type of marathon marketing presentation that political conventions have become.

It’s too bad that more viewers didn’t choose to watch on C-SPAN, where the coverage was uninterrupted and unfiltered. The over-spun and commercial-laden versions on Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNN were insufferable.

Seen in its nearly 18-hour entirety, the convention used engaging themes — “We built it,” “We can change it” and “We believe in America” — to anchor each evening. Most of the speakers stayed on point, citing apparent failures of the Obama Administration, reminiscing about the bootstrap-tugging days in their past, and seeking above all to paint a fuller picture of Mitt Romney‘s life-long dedication to faith, family and business.

There was plenty of sizzle and very little steak. That’s neither surprising nor unacceptable in light of what conventions have become. But the event was also a test of just how far political operatives can go in the era of modern communications when it comes to falsifying facts and distorting arguments.

For example, both Romney and running mate Paul Ryan were determined to push the notion that the Obama Administration siphoned $716 billion from Medicare to “pay for” Obamacare. That’s seriously misleading; moreover, it fails to mention that it is almost identical to the approach advocated by Ryan himself.

Then, too, Ryan blasted the president for failing to adopt the economic recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles commission without mentioning that Ryan was a member of the panel, and voted against its findings.

Romney maintained that he had rooted for Obama to succeed in his first term. Yet he never disavowed the strategy by his colleagues, such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, to do whatever they could from day one to thwart the president’s efforts. Ryan zinged Obama for a downgrade of the nation’s credit rating, without so much as acknowledging the role Republican brinksmanship played during the lengthy debt-ceiling debate. And so it went.

But as theater, the GOP convention was a boffo hit. That’s why it was particularly disappointing that the event’s renowned showbiz representative, Clint Eastwood, struck such a sour note. Clint and his family are acquaintances of mine, and I have deep respect for much of what he has achieved in films, business, and his many charitable endeavors.

Clint and I differ in our political views, but so what? He’s entitled to his opinion and he could have been a commanding presence at the GOP convention. Instead, he tried a risky adlib gimmick of “interviewing” an empty chair and the result was uneven, unsettling and, at one point, unacceptably crude.

Overall, however, the Romney campaign is certain to get a boost from this well staged event. Democrats will face a stiff challenge in mounting an equally entertaining convention in Charlotte.

But if the Obama forces skip the Roman columns, resist the temptation to rely heavily on their own roster of Hollywood heavyweights, and remain fair with the facts, they have a solid opportunity to gain the upper hand. While most Americans enjoy a good show, they also know that the urgency of the moment requires more than smoke and mirrors — or, for that matter, empty promises and an empty chair.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Peter Funt

Peter FuntIn print and on television, Peter Funt continues the Funt Family tradition of making people smile – while examining the human condition.

After 15 years hosting the landmark TV series “Candid Camera,” Peter writes frequent op-eds for The Boston Globe and The Wall Street Journal as well as his weekly column distributed by the Cagle Cartoon Syndicate. His writing contains the same pointed social observations that have made “Candid Camera” so popular since its invention by Peter’s dad, Allen, back in 1947. His new book, "Cautiously Optimistic," takes America's temperature in six-dozen essays, guaranteed to make readers think and smile. It's available at Amazon.com and through CandidCamera.com.

Peter Funt actually made his first appearance on “Candid Camera” when he and the legendary series were each just three years old. Peter posed as a shoeshine boy who charged $10 per shoe! Since that time he has appeared in hundreds of “Candid Camera” sequences, hosted over 200 network episodes.

In addition to his hidden-camera work, Peter Funt has produced and hosted TV specials on the Arts & Entertainment and Lifetime cable networks. He also spent five years as an editor and reporter with ABC News in New York.

Earlier in his career, Peter wrote dozens of articles for The New York Times and TV Guide about television and film. He was editor and publisher of the television magazine On Cable. And he authored the book "Gotcha!" for Grosset & Dunlap on the lost art of practical joking.

Peter’s essay on the evolution of television is included in “The Story of American Business,” published in 2009 by Harvard Business Press.

Peter also follows in his father's footsteps as President of Laughter Therapy Foundation, a non-profit organization started by Allen Funt in 1982. Drawing from the Candid Camera library, Laughter Therapy sends special videos, at no charge, to critically ill people throughout the U.S.

Peter Funt received his degree in journalism from the University of Denver. In 2010 he returned to the Denver campus to be honored as a Master Scholar in Arts and Humanities.

He is a past winner of the annual Silurian's Award for radio news reporting, for his ABC News coverage of racial disturbances in Asbury Park, NJ.

More Posts - Website

Nothing to Crow About

Photo courtesy of Brian Auer

Two crows were in the road. The older bird was dead; the younger, we’ll call him Frankie, was standing guard and wouldn’t budge.

I moved the dead bird off the pavement hoping the little guy would follow. But Frankie, about three or four weeks old and unable to fly, held his ground. So I took him home, and soon found myself rethinking my view about charities � specifically those dedicated to helping animals rather than humans.

Here’s the backstory: A few months ago I wrote a column in USA Today about people who donate to good causes � the school volleyball team, the animal shelter, etc. � while so many Americans are hungry. We give roughly $300 billion to charities each year, but only 10 percent goes directly to social and human services.

I wasn’t criticizing the well-intentioned efforts of any particular charity, but suggested that donors should apply a triage system at this time of profound human need.

I put Frankie in a large box, and Googled “caring for young crows and ravens.”

Seems these birds make good pets, provided they are introduced to people before being “imprinted” in the wild. I also learned that they’re quite messy, often moody, and will eat just about anything. One site said for youngsters you must “place a glob of food on your finger and push it down the crow’s throat.” I wish I had video of my failed attempts at doing this for Frankie.

My wife Amy suggested I phone the ASPCA, sending me into immediate panic. What if someone there had read my column and labeled me a non-believer? What if Frankie wound up being euthanized in a dingy back room, where I envisioned all the “lesser” critters went eventually?

Jessica, in the Wildlife Department, was surprisingly sympathetic. She said one of her colleagues was only a few miles from my house and could be over in a few minutes. She’d come to me? In a few minutes? Good luck getting such service from a plumber.

Jen arrived in a very official-looking truck and put on surgical gloves. She gave Frankie a thorough exam and pronounced him fit, but too underfed to be returned to the wild.

So Jen took Frankie to the ASPCA, where he’ll be eating a mixture of cat food and raw vegetables. When stronger, he’ll be brought back to the woods near my house.

I was feeling embarrassed about my earlier column, and mumbled something to Jen about sending a donation, which she politely said wasn’t necessary.

In the column I asked, “If you encountered a starving child holding a starving puppy, would your first step be to offer food to the dog? Obviously not.” I still agree with that � as would Jen and Jessica, I imagine.

But maybe it’s not so simple. All living things deserve our sympathetic attention, especially those who, by chance, are placed in our paths.

Years ago I was driving up Madison Avenue in New York when a scrawny kitten ran under my car. I stopped and got out, blocking the busy intersection at rush hour. The crowd quickly divided into two camps: those who yelled, “Get moving!” and those who screamed, “It’s right under your car!”

That cat � named Dasher because during the hourlong drive that followed managed to crawl behind the dashboard, requiring the services of an auto mechanic to free him � racked up $1,300 in vet bills. A ridiculous expenditure, I suppose. But that’s something else about “lesser” creatures in our lives: once you reach out to them, their problems become yours.

The ASPCA, founded in 1866, operates under the belief that “animals are entitled to kind and respectful treatment at the hands of humans.” While I wait for Jen and Frankie to return, I’m sending a modest donation.

The columnist in me wants to say I was forced to eat crow, but the creature-lover in me would rather not.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Peter Funt

Peter FuntIn print and on television, Peter Funt continues the Funt Family tradition of making people smile – while examining the human condition.

After 15 years hosting the landmark TV series “Candid Camera,” Peter writes frequent op-eds for The Boston Globe and The Wall Street Journal as well as his weekly column distributed by the Cagle Cartoon Syndicate. His writing contains the same pointed social observations that have made “Candid Camera” so popular since its invention by Peter’s dad, Allen, back in 1947. His new book, "Cautiously Optimistic," takes America's temperature in six-dozen essays, guaranteed to make readers think and smile. It's available at Amazon.com and through CandidCamera.com.

Peter Funt actually made his first appearance on “Candid Camera” when he and the legendary series were each just three years old. Peter posed as a shoeshine boy who charged $10 per shoe! Since that time he has appeared in hundreds of “Candid Camera” sequences, hosted over 200 network episodes.

In addition to his hidden-camera work, Peter Funt has produced and hosted TV specials on the Arts & Entertainment and Lifetime cable networks. He also spent five years as an editor and reporter with ABC News in New York.

Earlier in his career, Peter wrote dozens of articles for The New York Times and TV Guide about television and film. He was editor and publisher of the television magazine On Cable. And he authored the book "Gotcha!" for Grosset & Dunlap on the lost art of practical joking.

Peter’s essay on the evolution of television is included in “The Story of American Business,” published in 2009 by Harvard Business Press.

Peter also follows in his father's footsteps as President of Laughter Therapy Foundation, a non-profit organization started by Allen Funt in 1982. Drawing from the Candid Camera library, Laughter Therapy sends special videos, at no charge, to critically ill people throughout the U.S.

Peter Funt received his degree in journalism from the University of Denver. In 2010 he returned to the Denver campus to be honored as a Master Scholar in Arts and Humanities.

He is a past winner of the annual Silurian's Award for radio news reporting, for his ABC News coverage of racial disturbances in Asbury Park, NJ.

More Posts - Website

Undecided? About what?

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto

Presidential campaigns have become obscenely expensive, last far too long, and seem to bring out the worst in cable-TV hosts. But the real shame is that the next president will be chosen by relatively few citizens who are arguably the least informed.

Pundits and pollsters call them “independents,” “undecideds,” or “swing voters.” To the rest of us they are, to put it gently, seriously naive.

The vast majority of Americans know very well whom they’re voting for in November. They don’t need $2 billion worth of campaign ads to decide, because they’re aware that when it comes to the presidency we’re electing a political philosophy, not a person.

In primaries it’s fine to focus on shades of policy differences and even minutia like whether jeans trump sweater vests. But that’s over.

If you’re still unsure how you feel about health care, taxes and the debt — to name just three of myriad issues on which the two parties differ sharply — then nothing in a stump speech is going to help. Undecideds are the Justice Anthony Kennedys of presidential politics, and like him they seem to revel in their role.

Ask members of the GOP base why they vote as they do and you hear things like, “smaller government and lower taxes; people need to fend for themselves.” Ask Democrats and it’s, “compassionate government and fair taxes; we must help those who cannot help themselves.” Ask an undecided, as the networks manage to do almost every evening, and it’s, “I need to know more about where the candidates stand; I’m not hearing any details, what are their plans?”

Really? Both parties have outlined their plans in such voluminous detail that few people are able to wade through it. In fact, as members of both bases know, it’s not that the positions are mysterious, it’s that they’re so painfully clear.

Take gay marriage: Obama’s for it; Romney’s opposed. The issue may rouse passion but it’s insignificant when it comes to picking a president. Yet, Mr. Obama’s recent disclosure about his position produced headlines like this one in the San Francisco Chronicle: “President gives voters reason to choose sides.”

No! It doesn’t give any knowledgeable voter a reason to choose sides. The marriage thing is, and will continue to be, handled by the states. The president’s views are symbolically important, but anyone whose vote would swing on gay rights is bastardizing the electoral process — at least under our current system.

Undecideds represent somewhere between 6 and 8 percent of the total electorate; however, they can only affect the results in fewer than a dozen “battleground” states. So, when you boil it down, there are about 3 million voters in the U.S. who actually pick the president. The campaigns will combine to spend about $650 on each of these votes by people who should know better.

According to the Gallup organization‘s records from 2008, most undecideds dawdled until deep into September. Then, as summarized by Susan Page of USA Today, “By Election Day, the number of uncommitted voters nearly disappeared.”

Nearly disappeared? Does that mean some undecideds will still be on the fence come Nov. 6? What will finally sway them? Michelle Obama‘s outfit when she casts her vote that morning?

If Newt Gingrich is sticking to his assertion that Mitt Romney is a liar, yet now supports him, that should provide a clue that this is about party not personality.

One of the nation’s most articulate liberals, former Sen. Bill Bradley, when asked on CBS what would help swing voters make up their minds, said: “How people feel about the two candidates once they get to know them better.”

Please. Barack Obama has been in office for three years; Mitt Romney has been running for president for much of his adult life. Getting to know them better — and paying less attention to critical policy differences — won’t help anything.

Unless the day comes when we have more than two viable parties, or if Republicans and Democrats decide to stop treating governing as an all-or-nothing proposition, then we’re stuck with red or blue. The purple people are driving the rest of us crazy.

Peter Funt is a writer and speaker and can be reached at www.CandidCamera.com. 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Peter Funt

Peter FuntIn print and on television, Peter Funt continues the Funt Family tradition of making people smile – while examining the human condition.

After 15 years hosting the landmark TV series “Candid Camera,” Peter writes frequent op-eds for The Boston Globe and The Wall Street Journal as well as his weekly column distributed by the Cagle Cartoon Syndicate. His writing contains the same pointed social observations that have made “Candid Camera” so popular since its invention by Peter’s dad, Allen, back in 1947. His new book, "Cautiously Optimistic," takes America's temperature in six-dozen essays, guaranteed to make readers think and smile. It's available at Amazon.com and through CandidCamera.com.

Peter Funt actually made his first appearance on “Candid Camera” when he and the legendary series were each just three years old. Peter posed as a shoeshine boy who charged $10 per shoe! Since that time he has appeared in hundreds of “Candid Camera” sequences, hosted over 200 network episodes.

In addition to his hidden-camera work, Peter Funt has produced and hosted TV specials on the Arts & Entertainment and Lifetime cable networks. He also spent five years as an editor and reporter with ABC News in New York.

Earlier in his career, Peter wrote dozens of articles for The New York Times and TV Guide about television and film. He was editor and publisher of the television magazine On Cable. And he authored the book "Gotcha!" for Grosset & Dunlap on the lost art of practical joking.

Peter’s essay on the evolution of television is included in “The Story of American Business,” published in 2009 by Harvard Business Press.

Peter also follows in his father's footsteps as President of Laughter Therapy Foundation, a non-profit organization started by Allen Funt in 1982. Drawing from the Candid Camera library, Laughter Therapy sends special videos, at no charge, to critically ill people throughout the U.S.

Peter Funt received his degree in journalism from the University of Denver. In 2010 he returned to the Denver campus to be honored as a Master Scholar in Arts and Humanities.

He is a past winner of the annual Silurian's Award for radio news reporting, for his ABC News coverage of racial disturbances in Asbury Park, NJ.

More Posts - Website

Hillary Speculation Won’t Die

Photo courtesy of Marc Nozell

If Julia Louis-Dreyfus can be “Veep,” then why not Hillary Clinton?

The notion has been kicked around in the media for more than a year, and pooh-poohed by both the secretary of state herself and the Obama campaign, but as the 2012 race heats up the possibility of an Obama-Clinton ticket is likely to be given renewed consideration.

Mrs. Clinton looks refreshed these days, with a new hairstyle and bounce in her step � so perhaps she’s studying the polls that show the president in a neck-and-neck race with Mitt Romney. She’s also aware of her standing as the most admired woman in America. According to Gallup, no other woman has been so named for as many years (16), and her approval rating of 66 percent makes her among the nation’s most popular politicians.

For the record, Clinton has said she intends to leave government after this year. She has also stated repeatedly that she has no further plans to seek elective office, telling CNN, “I think Joe Biden, who’s a dear friend of ours, has served our country and served the president very well. And so I’m out of politics, but I’m very supportive of the team that we have in the White House going forward.”

Spoken like a good soldier. But doth she protest too much?

The last wave of Obama-Clinton speculation came in January, spurred by Bill Keller’s column in The New York Times arguing that placing Sec. Clinton on the ticket “does more to guarantee Obama’s re-election than anything else the Democrats can do.” That was back when the GOP field was crowded with pretenders, and Romney seemed incapable of sounding presidential.

It was also before Biden ruffled feathers by upstaging the boss on the matter of gay marriage.

The Obama campaign has a tough row to hoe and all that really matters is which running mate offers the best chance for victory, Biden or Clinton? Other considerations � dropping Biden would look panicky; the Clintons don’t really like Obama, etc. � are irrelevant.

An online poll by U.S. News and World Report shows respondents favoring Clinton over Biden by about 4 to 1.

Replacing Biden, who has served the administration well, would have to be carefully choreographed. But six previous presidents replaced their running mates while seeking a second term, the last being Gerald Ford in 1976 when he dumped Nelson Rockefeller in favor of Bob Dole.

Although Biden’s name is on the ticket, a recent day’s home page of the Obama campaign’s Website showed dozens of photos and stories, but not a word about Joe Biden. If President Obama asked Biden to step aside and asked Clinton to step in � each for the good of the nation and the party � would either say no? Not likely.

The reason Obama-Clinton has not percolated beyond the punditry stage is that it didn’t seem necessary. The Republicans were in disarray and the anyone-but-Romney bandwagon appeared to be rolling. Amazing how quickly things change. Romney looks stronger, and if he makes an aggressive choice for vice president, such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, then the importance of the second slot will grow dramatically.

In 2008 hope, change and electing the nation’s first black president were magic. In 2012, the prospect of a female vice president might rekindle Democrats’ excitement.

It’s a long shot. But if we’ve learned anything about politics in recent years, it’s that life is often much stranger than HBO.

Peter Funt is a writer and speaker and can be reached at www.CandidCamera.com. 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Peter Funt

Peter FuntIn print and on television, Peter Funt continues the Funt Family tradition of making people smile – while examining the human condition.

After 15 years hosting the landmark TV series “Candid Camera,” Peter writes frequent op-eds for The Boston Globe and The Wall Street Journal as well as his weekly column distributed by the Cagle Cartoon Syndicate. His writing contains the same pointed social observations that have made “Candid Camera” so popular since its invention by Peter’s dad, Allen, back in 1947. His new book, "Cautiously Optimistic," takes America's temperature in six-dozen essays, guaranteed to make readers think and smile. It's available at Amazon.com and through CandidCamera.com.

Peter Funt actually made his first appearance on “Candid Camera” when he and the legendary series were each just three years old. Peter posed as a shoeshine boy who charged $10 per shoe! Since that time he has appeared in hundreds of “Candid Camera” sequences, hosted over 200 network episodes.

In addition to his hidden-camera work, Peter Funt has produced and hosted TV specials on the Arts & Entertainment and Lifetime cable networks. He also spent five years as an editor and reporter with ABC News in New York.

Earlier in his career, Peter wrote dozens of articles for The New York Times and TV Guide about television and film. He was editor and publisher of the television magazine On Cable. And he authored the book "Gotcha!" for Grosset & Dunlap on the lost art of practical joking.

Peter’s essay on the evolution of television is included in “The Story of American Business,” published in 2009 by Harvard Business Press.

Peter also follows in his father's footsteps as President of Laughter Therapy Foundation, a non-profit organization started by Allen Funt in 1982. Drawing from the Candid Camera library, Laughter Therapy sends special videos, at no charge, to critically ill people throughout the U.S.

Peter Funt received his degree in journalism from the University of Denver. In 2010 he returned to the Denver campus to be honored as a Master Scholar in Arts and Humanities.

He is a past winner of the annual Silurian's Award for radio news reporting, for his ABC News coverage of racial disturbances in Asbury Park, NJ.

More Posts - Website

Do These Numbers Mean Anything Any More?

Photo Courtesy of Treasure Tia

For most Americans, a penny at the gas pump has vivid significance but billions of dollars create a meaningless blur. Increasingly, we are unable to fathom the really big numbers in our modern world, a condition known as innumeracy.

In a recent 24-hour period, Facebook paid $1 billion for the photo-sharing service Instagram — a firm with 12 employees that most people had never heard of, and that a week earlier was valued at $500,000; Microsoft gave AOL more than $1 billion for some patents, and Sony said its annual loss was $6.4 billion.

Do these numbers mean anything anymore?

Not long ago people used the term “billion” so infrequently that, for clarity, they spelled the first letter: “That’s billion, with a B.” Today, according to Forbes, there are 1,226 billionaires.

Congress spends billions here, billions there and, as the late Sen. Everett Dirksen famously concluded, “pretty soon you’re talking about real money.”

During the height of Mega Millions fever, NBC News asked ticket buyers what they’d do with $650 million if they won. One woman said, with apparent sincerity, that she would purchase a lifetime supply of Oreo cookies.

That’s classic innumeracy. If the woman lives 60 more years, and is willing to eat 150 Oreos every week, her tab would be roughly $70,000. It’s a lot of money, but as a percentage of $650 million it’s so small — about one-hundredth of one percent — that, for all intents and purposes she could have her Oreos and $650 million.

Try getting a grip numbers like these: Google’s revenue is $20 billion a year! Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants makes $3,000 per pitch! The U.S. government spends $1.5 million per minute!

Big numbers, right? Well, the real figures are actually double: Google is taking in $40 billion; Cain earns $6,000 every time he throws the ball, and the government’s outflow is $3 million per minute. So what?

The mathematician and scholar Douglas Hofstadter coined the term innumeracy some 30 years ago, back when the National Debt was under $2 trillion. It’s currently $15.6 trillion, but the numbers are so large that a 680% increase has basically no meaning for average Americans, except that we know it’s a lot of money.

According to one estimate, just counting to a trillion takes over 190,000 years. If we paid off the debt at the rate of a dollar per second, we would get the job done in roughly half a million years — without interest.

Many of our elected leaders seem to suffer from what might be called poli-innumeracy — the inability to control the numbers that control us. That’s how we get bridges to nowhere and the military’s infamous thousand-dollar toilet seats.

It’s only a matter of time before U.S. politicians start talking about a sextillion of this (21 zeros) or a vigintillion of that (63 zeros).

Travelers used to find it amusing to deal with foreign currencies that required, say, 10,000 whatevers for a cup of coffee. I remember visiting Brazil in the ’80s when taxi drivers needed a daily printout to determine how many thousand Cruzeiros to collect per mile.

These were “new” Cruzeiros which differed from the “old” Cruzeiros in that the Brazilian government chopped off a few zeros so that one of the new was worth 1,000 of the old. A few years later they did it again, declaring that 1,000 new Cruzeiros would be worth one Cruzado. Soon they had to drop away three more zeros and Brazilians were given the “new” Cruzados. In 1990, these Cruzados Novos were retired, and the Cruzeiros were back; in 1993, the Cruzeiros lost another three zeros and were turned into “real” Cruzeiros. The numbers ceased to have meaning, although the value of the service or product remained clear.

What divides Americans nowadays is not just that a few people have a lot of money while many have much less, it’s that some people understand the really big numbers — or so we assume — but most of us do not. Yet, as our innumeracy worsens, we don’t trust bureaucrats who claim to understand huge sums if at the same time they appear clueless about the price of an Oreo.

Peter Funt is a writer and speaker and can be reached at www.CandidCamera.com

Enhanced by Zemanta

Peter Funt

Peter FuntIn print and on television, Peter Funt continues the Funt Family tradition of making people smile – while examining the human condition.

After 15 years hosting the landmark TV series “Candid Camera,” Peter writes frequent op-eds for The Boston Globe and The Wall Street Journal as well as his weekly column distributed by the Cagle Cartoon Syndicate. His writing contains the same pointed social observations that have made “Candid Camera” so popular since its invention by Peter’s dad, Allen, back in 1947. His new book, "Cautiously Optimistic," takes America's temperature in six-dozen essays, guaranteed to make readers think and smile. It's available at Amazon.com and through CandidCamera.com.

Peter Funt actually made his first appearance on “Candid Camera” when he and the legendary series were each just three years old. Peter posed as a shoeshine boy who charged $10 per shoe! Since that time he has appeared in hundreds of “Candid Camera” sequences, hosted over 200 network episodes.

In addition to his hidden-camera work, Peter Funt has produced and hosted TV specials on the Arts & Entertainment and Lifetime cable networks. He also spent five years as an editor and reporter with ABC News in New York.

Earlier in his career, Peter wrote dozens of articles for The New York Times and TV Guide about television and film. He was editor and publisher of the television magazine On Cable. And he authored the book "Gotcha!" for Grosset & Dunlap on the lost art of practical joking.

Peter’s essay on the evolution of television is included in “The Story of American Business,” published in 2009 by Harvard Business Press.

Peter also follows in his father's footsteps as President of Laughter Therapy Foundation, a non-profit organization started by Allen Funt in 1982. Drawing from the Candid Camera library, Laughter Therapy sends special videos, at no charge, to critically ill people throughout the U.S.

Peter Funt received his degree in journalism from the University of Denver. In 2010 he returned to the Denver campus to be honored as a Master Scholar in Arts and Humanities.

He is a past winner of the annual Silurian's Award for radio news reporting, for his ABC News coverage of racial disturbances in Asbury Park, NJ.

More Posts - Website

Defunding or Defanging?

 

Photo courtesy of HeyRocker

There was plenty of passionate poppycock on the House floor Thursday, as members debated the Republicans‘ “emergency” bill to eliminate funding for National Public Radio.

Although the bill passed, as did a proposal last month to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, neither measure will advance beyond the House chamber. And while most of the arguments from both sides tap-danced around the issues, a level-headed reassessment of federal spending for public TV and radio is overdue.

Republicans rushed to judgment to take advantage of NPR’s recent spate of bad publicity – the latest incident involving nasty cracks about conservatives by NPR’s chief fundraiser, Ron Schiller, recorded in a hidden-camera sting. Schiller was appropriately asked to leave NPR, as was his boss.

But the secret video proves nothing about NPR as an organization, nor does Schiller’s behavior qualify as grounds to defund an operation that serves some 27 million listeners a week.

The real issues regarding NPR are straightforward. Republicans don’t like spending taxpayer money on what many perceive as a liberal-leaning network, when the “private sector” is doing such a smashing job of promoting conservative views on commercial radio. Democrats believe the money is well spent, considering the pounding they are taking from Fox News and conservative broadcasters like Rush Limbaugh. As Democrats see it, NPR need not be liberal; the absence of overt conservatism is sufficient.

Thursday’s floor show in the House was risible. Republican Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee said with a straight face that defunding NPR would encourage more hiring by forcing rural stations to create new local programming. She went so far as to list 17 different jobs needed to produce a single radio show – staffing levels that didn’t exist even in radio’s heyday decades ago.

Democrat Anthony Weiner of New York spent an embarrassing two minutes delivering a standup comedy routine about how Republicans hoped to solve the economic crisis by destroying the NPR series “Car Talk” – as if that was the point, which it clearly wasn’t.

Republican Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia inched closer to the truth, as he sees it, by charging NPR with “advocating one ideology” and “veering far from what people want to (hear).” That’s not true about NPR or the public – with 69 percent of Americans favoring federal funding of public radio.

Across the aisle, Steve Israel, head of the Democrats’ Congressional Campaign Committee, wrote, “If the Republicans had their way, we’d only be left with the likes of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin to dominate the airwaves.” That’s horribly misguided, because it suggests that NPR’s mission is to defuse the message of conservative broadcasters, or to present the “other side” of political controversies, which it is not.

The real question, perhaps better left for a time when a semblance of bipartisanship returns to Capitol Hill, is whether the public is best served by federal involvement in broadcasting. When the Corporation for Public Broadcasting was created by Congress in 1967, the media landscape was dramatically different. Back then, a better case could be made for providing quality government-supported radio and TV, especially in rural areas. In the digital age, that’s not really necessary.

It’s worth noting that C-SPAN, an arm of the cable-TV industry that receives no taxpayer funds, provides the most fair and well-produced coverage of government imaginable. The explosive growth of the Internet, along with cable and satellite systems, make the need for public TV and radio less clear cut.

Media operate best without government meddling and, in this day and age, without taxpayer money.

Although the latest attempt to defund NPR will not succeed, the House debate alone will apply unreasonable pressure to the workings of the network that, at most, gets only 10 percent of its revenue from taxpayers. Is it worth it? Even disgraced NPR fund raiser Ron Schiller conceded, “it is very clear that we would be better off in the long run without federal funding.’

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Peter Funt

Peter FuntIn print and on television, Peter Funt continues the Funt Family tradition of making people smile – while examining the human condition.

After 15 years hosting the landmark TV series “Candid Camera,” Peter writes frequent op-eds for The Boston Globe and The Wall Street Journal as well as his weekly column distributed by the Cagle Cartoon Syndicate. His writing contains the same pointed social observations that have made “Candid Camera” so popular since its invention by Peter’s dad, Allen, back in 1947. His new book, "Cautiously Optimistic," takes America's temperature in six-dozen essays, guaranteed to make readers think and smile. It's available at Amazon.com and through CandidCamera.com.

Peter Funt actually made his first appearance on “Candid Camera” when he and the legendary series were each just three years old. Peter posed as a shoeshine boy who charged $10 per shoe! Since that time he has appeared in hundreds of “Candid Camera” sequences, hosted over 200 network episodes.

In addition to his hidden-camera work, Peter Funt has produced and hosted TV specials on the Arts & Entertainment and Lifetime cable networks. He also spent five years as an editor and reporter with ABC News in New York.

Earlier in his career, Peter wrote dozens of articles for The New York Times and TV Guide about television and film. He was editor and publisher of the television magazine On Cable. And he authored the book "Gotcha!" for Grosset & Dunlap on the lost art of practical joking.

Peter’s essay on the evolution of television is included in “The Story of American Business,” published in 2009 by Harvard Business Press.

Peter also follows in his father's footsteps as President of Laughter Therapy Foundation, a non-profit organization started by Allen Funt in 1982. Drawing from the Candid Camera library, Laughter Therapy sends special videos, at no charge, to critically ill people throughout the U.S.

Peter Funt received his degree in journalism from the University of Denver. In 2010 he returned to the Denver campus to be honored as a Master Scholar in Arts and Humanities.

He is a past winner of the annual Silurian's Award for radio news reporting, for his ABC News coverage of racial disturbances in Asbury Park, NJ.

More Posts - Website

Spring Training

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A 30-mile zone around Phoenix is fast becoming the epicenter of spring baseball, with gorgeous landscape, ideal weather, numerous tourist services and, as of this year, 15 Major League teams all within a long fly ball of each other.

More than a million and a half fans will pay for tickets this month to share the Cactus League experience. The watchwords are “pay” and “experience” — because with each new season, true fans who love the pure simplicity of spring training are paying more while experiencing less.

What used to be a laid back time during which players slowly got into shape, fans rubbed shoulders with their heroes, and team owners treated the process as a necessary expense, is now big business. The most dramatic example is the lavish Salt River Fields, with its state-of-the-art video board, which opened a few weeks ago at the Talking Stick Indian reservation in Scottsdale. Home of the Diamondbacks and Rockies, it is part of a complex that includes the Pima-Maricopa Indians’ hotel and casino.

The marketing spiel for Salt River Fields is that it “feels” like a Major League facility. Certainly the $25 box seats and the $7 ice cream qualify as Big League, but fans might wonder if that’s what spring training is supposed to be about.

In the past 20 years eight new stadiums have been built near here, at a cost of over $500 million. Just 14 years ago I attended opening day at the Cubs’ stadium in Mesa, with its 12,500 seats and what was arguably the most lavish spring training experience. Now, the Cubs and their partners are building a replacement in Mesa, complete with a shopping complex to be known as Wrigleyville West. Ironic, isn’t it, that Wrigley Field in Chicago has endured since 1914 and is a palace for baseball purists, while the Mesa facility didn’t last two decades.

As World Champs, the Giants are the big draw this spring at their stadium in central Scottsdale. Seating on the grass beyond the outfield fence is going for as much as $26, as the Giants try to squeeze whatever they can out of their fall accomplishment. The Dodgers and White Sox, who moved here from Florida last spring, charge $47 for the top ticket at the stadium they share at Camelback Ranch. Sales of the best spring tickets on StubHub are going for $100 and more.

It’s hard to fault the clubs for trying to maximize their business opportunities and to make fans pay whatever the traffic will bear. The communities clustered near Phoenix are also engaged in understandable pursuit of tourist dollars which during spring training now total more than $350 million.

Robert Johnson, a top executive in Cactus League promotions, recently told the Arizona Republic newspaper, “Perhaps we should start treating the Cactus League like the economic and entertainment force that it has become.” He cites promotion of football’s Super Bowl as a model, with its glitz and vast peripheral marketing.

Is that the future for baseball games that don’t even count in the standings?

More owners should follow the lead of the Angels’ Arte Moreno, who sees to it that fans are never taken for granted. At spring training Moreno doesn’t care for $26 seats on the grass; he charges $4 at the Angels park in Tempe.

Pre-season baseball is still a wonderful experience — both here in Arizona and in Florida. It’s a time of rebirth for the land, the players and even the fans, not proximity to casinos, giant video screens, or overpriced merchandise.

If owners and municipal leaders kept their eyes on the ball they’d recognize that.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Peter Funt

Peter FuntIn print and on television, Peter Funt continues the Funt Family tradition of making people smile – while examining the human condition.

After 15 years hosting the landmark TV series “Candid Camera,” Peter writes frequent op-eds for The Boston Globe and The Wall Street Journal as well as his weekly column distributed by the Cagle Cartoon Syndicate. His writing contains the same pointed social observations that have made “Candid Camera” so popular since its invention by Peter’s dad, Allen, back in 1947. His new book, "Cautiously Optimistic," takes America's temperature in six-dozen essays, guaranteed to make readers think and smile. It's available at Amazon.com and through CandidCamera.com.

Peter Funt actually made his first appearance on “Candid Camera” when he and the legendary series were each just three years old. Peter posed as a shoeshine boy who charged $10 per shoe! Since that time he has appeared in hundreds of “Candid Camera” sequences, hosted over 200 network episodes.

In addition to his hidden-camera work, Peter Funt has produced and hosted TV specials on the Arts & Entertainment and Lifetime cable networks. He also spent five years as an editor and reporter with ABC News in New York.

Earlier in his career, Peter wrote dozens of articles for The New York Times and TV Guide about television and film. He was editor and publisher of the television magazine On Cable. And he authored the book "Gotcha!" for Grosset & Dunlap on the lost art of practical joking.

Peter’s essay on the evolution of television is included in “The Story of American Business,” published in 2009 by Harvard Business Press.

Peter also follows in his father's footsteps as President of Laughter Therapy Foundation, a non-profit organization started by Allen Funt in 1982. Drawing from the Candid Camera library, Laughter Therapy sends special videos, at no charge, to critically ill people throughout the U.S.

Peter Funt received his degree in journalism from the University of Denver. In 2010 he returned to the Denver campus to be honored as a Master Scholar in Arts and Humanities.

He is a past winner of the annual Silurian's Award for radio news reporting, for his ABC News coverage of racial disturbances in Asbury Park, NJ.

More Posts - Website