How Did Jon Polito Getting Angry Get His Character Killed on Homicide: Life on the Street?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: Jon Polito’s public complaints about the direction of Homicide: Life on the Street got his character killed off in an ignominious manner.

Homicide: Life on the Street debuted in 1993. Based on David Simon’s non-fiction book of roughly the same name (Simon’s book was called Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, as he followed the Baltimore Homicide Department around for a year), the series was a critical smash hit. It is still remarkable the high level of quality that the show (particularly writers Tom Fontana and James Yoshimura and producer Barry Levinson in those early days) were able to achieve with Homicide on network television in the mid-1990s. Homicide would not look out of place on HBO in 2016, that’s how ahead of its time was (okay, the 1990s fashion would probably need to be updated a bit).

One area where the show was very faithful initially was in the cops who worked in Homicide. In real life, the mix tended to be older male white detectives and younger male black detectives. That’s what they did on the show, with Ned Beatty and Jon Polito playing two of the older cops on the show, Stan “Big Man” Bolander (based on one of the major characters in the Simon book) and Steve Crosetti, respectively…

The problem, however, was that NBC was not exactly a fan of this approach…
Continue reading “How Did Jon Polito Getting Angry Get His Character Killed on Homicide: Life on the Street?”

Was a Contestant on Fear Factor Killed?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: An episode of Fear Factor never aired because a contestant died during the filming.

One of the most common questions that I get answered involves the popular reality series, Fear Factor, which aired on NBC for six seasons between 2001 and 2006 (plus a short-lived revival from 2011-2012).

The show, hosted by Joe Rogan, involved contestants competing with one another in a series of stunts that were either physically taxing or psychologically taxing. Like, for instance, seeing how long contestants can remain in a cylinder filled with snakes…

Now, some of the action-oriented stunts, like the Sky See Saw, could look pretty darn dangerous…

Obviously, everyone is decked out in advanced safety harnesses, but it is not like those things have never gone wrong. People die on “safe” amusement park rides every once in a while, as well. So what people keep asking me is whether a contestant ever died competing on Fear Factor (people also wanted to know the same thing about MTV’s reality series, Fear). A couple of people asked if that was why the show was canceled the first time around.

Read on for the answer!
Continue reading “Was a Contestant on Fear Factor Killed?”

Did David Sarnoff Work a Telegraph Three Days Straight Covering the Titanic Sinking?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends related to radio and the people “behind the microphone,” so to speak, and whether they are true or false.

RADIO URBAN LEGEND: David Sarnoff stayed on the telegraph for three days straight getting the first details of the Titanic sinking.

As horrific of a tragedy the sinking of the Titanic was, it turned out to be a major boon for the future of radio.

At the time of the Titanic sinking, wireless communication was only just beginning to become a major tool, particularly for naval vessels, who could use telegraphs to communicate with people at great distances.

That any of the passengers of the Titanic survived the sinking was due entirely to the fact that the ocean liner Carpathia picked up the wireless transmissions of the Titanic’s two Wireless Operators (who continued transmitting until they literally could not do it any longer).

This, coupled with the fact that the ship closest to the Titanic, the Californian, did not stop to help because their Wireless Operators were asleep and their wireless station shut down, was a major success, of sorts, for the American division of the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company.

It proved the impressive utility of wireless communication, and it did so in a massive news story with the whole world paying attention.

While surely the radio industry would have eventually started ANYways, this definitely gave it a jump start.

One person that this ALSO gave a jump start to was a young Marconi Wireless worker named David Sarnoff.
Continue reading “Did David Sarnoff Work a Telegraph Three Days Straight Covering the Titanic Sinking?”