KUTV news came in for quite a bit of criticism recently for the unlikeliest of reasons - it was accused of being too pro-Mormon.
Ch. 2's series on the LDS Church in the Soviet Union prompted more than 200 viewers to call in and complain. But those callers weren't Mormons upset about the coverage, they were non-Mormons upset because the LDS Church was receiving what they perceived as favorable publicity. The station was accused of pandering to the state's large LDS population with a non-story.The series created such a controversy that KUTV devoted Sunday night's "Take Two" program to it.
For the record, the series - from KUTV reporter Vaughn Roche - was a legitimate news story that was handled well. And while the promos concentrated almost exclusively on the LDS Church in Russia (the hook to draw viewers in), the series was well balanced and well done, looking at the entire issue of the return of religion to the USSR.
Callers to "Take Two" wanted to know if the LDS Church helped fund the series and why Ch. 2 was helping to spread LDS doctrine (it wasn't). One caller stated that the series belonged on Ch. 5 - and that Ch. 4 was now the only non-Mormon station in town.
Apparently, these people watched little if any of the series. While there's often good reason to criticize news organizations, this wasn't one of them.
My only criticism would be of Roche's disingenuous statement on "Take Two" that the timing of the series had nothing to do with ratings, something even station executives readily admit was not true. This is a sweeps period, and Ch. 2 wanted to get the greatest return possible for the investment it made in the trip to the Soviet Union - but there's certainly nothing wrong with that.
As Roche said repeatedly Sunday night, the LDS angle was just a vehicle for the overall story. And, believe it or not, stations across the country do the same sort of thing. In areas where another church is dominant - for example the Catholic Church in Boston or the Baptist Church in the South - they would have been used as the vehicle.
Those criticizing KUTV are guilty of the same myopic outlook that they often accuse Mormons of having.`LOVE, LIES AND MURDER' POSTSCRIPT: For those of you who watched NBC's excellent "Love, Lies and Murder," here's a bit of an update on the real-life people on which the miniseries was based:
- Patti Bailey, now 23, is still in a California Corrections facility, where she expects to be held until she's 25.
- Cinnamon Brown, 21, was recently denied parole and may be held until she's 25.
- David Brown still writes to Patti Bailey, urging her to "tell the truth" so he'll be freed.
- Patti's daughter is living with her sister-in-law.
- Linda Brown's child is still with David's parents.
There were also a few interesting developments that never made it into the screenplay because of lack of time:
- David Brown was married six times - including two different marriages to Linda.
- David convinced the girls that an alien from outer space had given him money to get a computer degree because he was "special." He used to take Patti and Cinnamon out looking for the alien.
- The "hit man" who informed on David's plan to kill the district attorneys revealed during the trial that he has AIDS - and apparently his relationship with David may have been more than was portrayed in the miniseries.`CLASSIC' THOUGHTS: A few random thoughts on CBS' "Classic Weekend," which just concluded . . .
There has never been a series like "All In the Family" that could make you laugh, cry and think all at the same time . . .
Norman Lear finally got to end "Family" the way he wanted to - with Mike and Gloria moving to California and Archie and Edith staying behind. (This was originally conceived as the finale for the series, but it lived on afterward.) . . .
It's amazing to look at who Ed Sullivan brought to TV - and unfortunate there's no similar forum on the tube these days . . .
I miss the gang at WJM-TV - and I never appreciated Ted Knight's contribution to the "Mary Tyler Moore Show" . . . A MODEST PROPOSAL: One-time co-stars Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler have suffered similar TV fates - after starring in self-titled sitcoms that became television classics, neither has been able to recreate that success.
Here's the proposal: Why not bring Dick and Mary back together as Rob and Laura Petrie 25 years later?
Sure, a lot has changed in those 25 years. And I'm sure Laura Petrie would be a lot more like Mary Richards than she was in the early '60s.
But there are tons of possibilities for these characters - jobs, locales, grandparenthood.
The biggest problem would be the title - "The Dick Van Dyke & Mary Tyler Moore Show" is a bit unwieldy.