Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Like esteemed entertainment blogger Mark Evanier, I don't want my blog to turn into an obit a week. But, I've actually met the late Stephen Cannell, so it's natural for me to write about it here. Without Evanier, by the way, many in the comics world would pass anonymously, so kudos to him.
From 2001-2005 I worked for ICN6, a local origination (L.O.) cable television station. L.O. stations create programs of local interest produced by the cable operator. They are often mistaken for Public Access channels, where cable operators provide facilities for the public citizens to produce their own shows. ICN6 was operated by Insight Communications in Northern Kentucky and our longest-running show was "Northern Kentucky Magazine." It was a chat show, mostly with local guests, with the occasional celebrity who was in town on a book, music or theater tour.
One of the nicest of these celebrities was Stephen Cannell, who I recollect visited twice while I was there, and had been before. He had a nice rapport with the host, Dick Von Hoene, as evidenced in this video. Cannell posed for the picture above with me after his segment, and signed an A-Team toy that I had brought in.
I was never a big Cannell watcher. I've only seen one episode apiece of his biggest hits - "The Rockford Files" and "The A-Team." Maybe I was too young to even show interest in shows like "Hardcastle & McCormick" and "Hunter", neither of which I've ever seen. He did have two shows I was a prime target for - "The Greatest American Hero" and "21 Jump Street." "Greatest American Hero" hit my nascent comic collecting buttons. But was it the tales of a teacher turned superhero that grabbed me, or my crush on Connie Sellecca? "21 Jump Street" debuted when I was high school age. It was a fresh show on a brand new network, and definitely delivered on the hype and buzz. Most of the public remembers it, of course, because it debuted breakout star Peter DeLuise.
So, a fond farewell to Stephen J Cannell, a classy, charming and amiable guy. You can read more about his life and accomplishments at his own site, including his second successful career as a novelist. Though I didn't watch many of his shows, I always liked his production company tag (presented here in the 1981 and 1999 versions):