Bringing the Spirit of the Holidays to Los Angeles

Holiday Program in Progress | Photo Cathy Bower

This is another in a series of posts where Cathy Bower, KCET's Broadcast Operations Coordinator, looks back at some interesting moments and events during the station's 50 years on the air. Read more entries here.

Just as dependable as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west, KCET brings the residents of our city a chance to celebrate ourselves and spirit of the holidays each and every Christmas Eve. It is hard sometimes to get into a holiday spirit, when you live in a location that worships the sun and never really sees the snow, but every year, we do our best. It is called the Los Angeles County Holiday Celebration.

As a service to the residents of our city, KCET has been part of broadcasting the yearly concert that comes from Los Angeles County Arts Commission on behalf of our L.A. County Board of Supervisors. We were part of the deal made by the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and the Board of Supervisors to allow this concert. The broadcast makes it available to almost every home in Los Angeles via our signal. The concert, held yearly on Christmas Eve, has been a part of our community since December 24, 1959, and at the Dorothy Chandler since 1964. The concert is free to all and it gives residents of Los Angeles a chance to view live music, performed at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. I have spent eight Christmas Eves working the twelve-hour show during the 80s, and I can tell you that the beauty of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion is unparalleled. Nowadays, the concert has been reduced to just a short three hours, due to budget cuts over the years. In spite of that, you can still spend an afternoon enjoying to local music and dance groups that showcase the diversity of the many residents of our city.

If you have never experienced our broadcast, I heartily recommend you check it out. I personally find that I love to bake or cook while the concert is on my TV. It puts me and my household into the holiday spirit.

This Week on 'Visiting With Huell Howser' -- Idyllwild and Egg Collection

Find out what classic episodes of "Visiting" are airing on KCET this week! Read more about KCET's Huell-centric programming here and share your memories of Huell with other fans here.

Monday @ 7:30PM -- "Aerial L.A."

Have you ever wondered how news crews get such good shots from a helicopter? How they can zoom in on a backyard while flying in a machine that rattles your teeth? Well, Huell goes in the air with Helinet to see the latest in cutting edge helicopter mounted cameras. You'll be amazed at how close they really can get and you may never walk around in your underwear in your backyard again!

Watch a preview:

Tuesday @ 7:30PM -- "Ferguson's Shells"

Huell's off to Wilmington to visit Ferguson's Marine Specialties, which is owned and operated by Ralph Ferguson and his daughter, Lupe. Once inside, Huell is literally surrounded by beautiful seashells from all over the world. Ferguson's has a wonderful, authentic, old-time feel to it.

Watch a preview:

American Bandstand and KCET?

American Bandstand | Photo by Cathy Bower 1988

This is another in a series of posts where Cathy Bower, KCET's Broadcast Operations Coordinator, looks back at some interesting moments and events during the station's 50 years on the air. Read more entries here.

"American Bandstand" was not a KCET production, but since the staff of KCET had the honor to shoot its final season, it's worthy of a post.

Dick Clark needed a new home for "Bandstand" when ABC dropped him and he went into syndication back in the fall of 1987. He came to KCET with the proposition that we build his set on our huge Stage B at out Sunset Boulevard lot. The thing was massive, with three levels for the kids to dance on. We called it the jungle gym, and due to the fact that the Whittier quake had just recently occurred, we always worried about it. We especially were worried about the kids if another earthquake happened while they were dancing. Luckily, no earthquakes struck while we were taping the shows on those Saturdays.

Dick Clark and the Dancers - American Bandstand | Photo by Cathy Bower 1988

The shows were shot on one Saturday a month and we did four shows each time. We had a break at the halfway point for lunch and other than that, we pretty much worked non-stop (minus the union breaks, of course).

I workd two jobs for this show: I loaded the electronic graphics for the credit roll ahead of time and then, when taping time came, I pulled cable for the floor camera, who was usually Luis Fuerte of "California's Gold" fame. It was a difficult camera to handle, because the kids were all in the way, dancing their hearts out and totally oblivious to the cable that was attached to that camera that they wanted to get in front of.

Dick Clark was all over the place, as producer of the show and talent in front of the camera, and it showed. He would be putting out some fire, like the script not being right or the reset not going as fast as expected, and then he would suddenly have to be in front of the camera, a smile on his face. I did not envy his job. Dick Clark's wife, Kari, was a very nice person and a pleasure to work with. You could tell they were a good team, because she helped with whatever needed to be done, to keep things running smoothly.

This Week on 'Visiting With Huell Howser' -- Getty Villa, Stan's Donuts and Jacaranda Trees

Find out what classic episodes of "Visiting" are airing on KCET this week! Read more about KCET's Huell-centric programming here and share your memories of Huell with other fans here.

Monday @ 7:30PM -- "Getty Villa"

In 1945, J. Paul Getty acquired a Malibu retreat. Today, this spot includes a Romanesque gallery full of priceless art. Huell also tours the property's historically accurate ancient Roman crop garden.

Tuesday @ 7:30PM -- "Stan's Donuts"

For almost 40 years, Stan's Corner Donut Shop of Westwood, California, has baked the world's most gourmet donuts. From a Cinnamon Chocolate Cheese Danish to an Apple Fritter to a Reese's Peanut Butter Pocket with fresh banana. Stan's offers donuts you will find nowhere else in the world.

Finding California's Gold... in California Food

This is another in a series of posts where Cathy Bower, KCET's broadcast operations coordinator, looks back at some interesting moments and events during the station's 50 years on the air. Read more entries here.

I am a broadcaster.

Consequently, each April, I find myself crossing the desert, on my way to Las Vegas and the National Association of Broadcasters convention. This particular trip brought about a dilemma: Where to stop for food on our way back? Our usual go-to location, Bun Boy in Baker, had closed. Instead, what we decided to do is visit Peggy Sue's 50's Diner just north of Barstow at the Yermo Annex.

Peggy Sue's Menu | Photo Cathy Bower

I had been here years ago, and it was basically the same now: The food and the service were top-notch and the music and atmosphere is pure '50s. When I picked up the menu, I saw that there was a menu item called the "Huell Howser Hawaiian Honey Ham & Pineapple Cheeseburger." Intrigued, I decided to try it and I was pleased with my purchase. The waitress mentioned that the late Huell Howser, would stop by quite often in his travels and he even owned the infamous Volcano House in nearby Newberry Springs.

This chance encounter got me wondering what else is out there on restaurant menus that is named after Huell. Producing over 2,000 shows in a 27-year career, he saw and visited many locations -- and quite a few restaurants. What I have here is not an exhaustive list, but it is my best start at one. Feel free to mention some that you have seen, in the comment section below.

Pink's Hot Dogs

photo by flickr user aloha75, under a Creative Commons license

One of the most well known locations, is Pink's Hot Dogs. The "Huell Howser Dog" is a standard chili dog with two of their regular hot dogs on a single bun and it costs $5.80. It has been a menu item for over a decade and is one of their top-five best-sellers. He lived in this area of Los Angeles, and so it was his home turf.

Stan's Donuts

With Huell, it was all about the peanut butter. His favorite doughnut, "The Huell," has a peanut butter pocket in the center and chocolate on top. I contacted Stan's Doughnuts in Westwood and they said that he also liked the doughnut with peanut butter and banana, but noted that the doughnut does not carry his name. Prices vary, according to how many you buy, but a single doughnut is $3.

The Tallyrand

The Tallyrand in Burbank has a hot turkey sandwich menu item that has a note saying that it was Huell's favorite. I have seen many people choose this item, just to pay respect to the man. As a matter of fact, when we had a private toast to Huell after his passing, this is where we went. It's roasted turkey with herb dressing, homemade mashed potatoes and gravy. It sells for $9.95.

Broguiere's Dairy

Broguiere's Dairy in Montebello, produced a glass bottle that carried Huell's picture and says "Favorite Visitor - Huell Howser / 'California's Gold.'" I happen to own one and a quick check with Broguiere's revealed that the Huell bottles are still in circulation and still available to customers.

photo by flickr user jrmyst, under a creative commons license

I am glad that there are places that keep his memory alive.

New Series 'Father Brown' Kicks Off KCET's 'Whodunit Sundays'

Any longtime fan of public television will agree that if there must be murder, it should at least be solved by charming British people.

It's on that note that we're proud to present KCET's new Whodunit Sundays, which feature three British murder mystery shows back-to-back-to-back. New series "Father Brown" will be hopping into the 8 p.m. Sunday slot, taking the place of "Foyle's War," and it will be joined by "Inspector George Gently" and "Rosemary and Thyme." That's three rounds of classic detective work -- and enough British accents to satisfy even the biggest Anglophile among us.

The cast of 'Father Brown'

Starting this Sunday, April 13 at 8 p.m., look for the mystery series "Father Brown," starring Mark Williams ("Harry Potter," "The Indian Doctor") as a Catholic priest who also happens to have a particular talent for solving crimes. The world of "Father Brown" is quintessentially English: drawing rooms in large country houses, miles of countryside, village halls and secret gardens, as well as country fairs, railway stations and rural parish churches. Many years spent hearing his parishioners' confessions have given him an uncanny insight into the origins of evil and the workings of the criminal mind. But the stories are not concerned with judgment -- Father Brown is more interested in saving souls than in bringing the guilty to justice.

Starting on May 4, KCET favorite "Inspector George Gently" jumps into the 9 p.m. slot, replacing "Vera." We're starting from the top of season one of this show. And then stay tuned for "Rosemary and Thyme" at 10:30 p.m.

And as always, you can view all upcoming KCET shows on our schedule page.

This Week on 'Visiting With Huell Howser' -- Governor's Mansion and Ackermansion

HIREShuellpoppies630 (1).jpg

Find out what classic episodes of "Visiting" are airing on KCET this week! Read more about KCET's Huell-centric programming here and share your memories of Huell with other fans here.

Monday @ 7:30PM -- "Governor's Mansion"

Huell gets a behind-the-scenes look at the Governor's Mansion in Sacramento. We'll get a special tour from Kathleen Brown, who lived in the house as a teenager.

Tuesday @ 7:30PM -- "Ackermansion"

Huell takes a special tour of Forrest Ackerman's home, which is a shrine to and museum of sci-fi and horror memorabilia. The self-described inventor of the term "sci-fi," Dr. Ackula (as he liked to be called), boasted over 300,000 items from genre films, books and TV shows. He was also a literary agent, and editor of numerous fanzines. Best of all, he opened his house to the public. (Note: Ackerman passed away in 2008 and the museum is no longer operational.)

KCET -- A Proud History of News, Part Two

Hugh Hewitt, Patt Morrison, Rubén Martinez | Life & Times 1993

This is another in a series of posts where Cathy Bower, KCET's Broadcast Operations Coordinator, looks back at some interesting moments and events during the station's 50 years on the air. Read the first part of "A Proud History of News" here. And read more entries here.

In January of 1992, we launched "Life & Times." It ran for 15 straight years, through some of the most turbulent times in Los Angeles. The show was designed by Jim Kennedy, who was a wonderful man. I remember him presenting his idea for the show to us on staff. We would have news on Monday and Friday and taped pieces on Tuesday through Thursday. The original hosts for the "in studio" episodes were Hugh Hewitt, Patt Morrison and John Ochoa. Almost immediately, our new show went through its baptism of fire. The L.A. Riots started in April of 1992 and around that time, Rubén Martinez joined the team. I remember that the news show went live daily, trying to make sense of the chaos. It was a extremely hard time for our hosts and our new production team, but they kept plugging away. We had our own problems during those riots, because KCET's lot was located right across the street from the Circuit City that got looted. It was not easy staying on the air, or for that matter, having access to the lot itself. Like the City of L.A., we all managed to make it through that time.

With the addition of Rubén Martinez and later political consultant Kerman Maddox the "Life & Times" hosts hit their stride. With their widely divergent political viewpoints and philosophies, the hosts always had lively conversations and lots of information to share with viewers. They were a killer team. Eventually, Rubén left and Kerman took over as the full-time third member of the team.

'Borgen' Wins a Peabody Award

All those anxious Danish faces should have reason to look happy, because "Borgen" has won a Peabody Award! It was announced on Wednesday that the Danish-produced political drama, whose second season is currently airing in the U.S. on KCET and on Link TV, had won. Among other series lauded this year were "Breaking Bad," the Netflix remake of "House of Cards," "Orange Is the New Black," "Scandal," and "Orphan Black." See the full list of winners here.

Tune in to the next episode of "Borgen" on KCET on Monday at 10 p.m. And catch up with the previous two episodes on KCET.org here. Haven't started watching yet? Get up to speed with our recaps for the whole series.

And please, buck up, you melancholy Danes!

There, that's more like it. Congrats to the entire "Borgen" crew!

Everything You Need to Know About 'Stand Up Planet'

So what is this show about?

"Stand Up Planet" is a documentary TV show and digital series that showcases life in some of the toughest places on Earth through the lens and experiences of stand-up comics. Hollywood comedian Hasan Minhaj takes you to bustling Mumbai and India to meet up-and-coming comedians. Their humor helps you learn about their homelands in striking ways. It's equal parts reality TV, documentary and travelogue. Check out the trailer to see Minhaj and the other comedians in action:

How can I watch it?

The two-hour "Stand Up Planet" special premieres Wednesday, May 14 at 9 p.m. on KCET. (The first hour is the documentary following Minhaj as he travels abroad. The second hour is the comedy showcase, which Minjah hosts and which features a variety of comedians performing at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood.) You can also watch it on Link TV -- premiering 7 p.m. on May 14 -- and on Pivot -- premiering 10 p.m. on May 14,

Pivot, KCET and LinkTV.

(Check future broadcast times here.)

What comedians does "Stand Up Planet" feature?

In addition to Hasan Minhaj, you'll see two Indian comics (Aditi Mittal and Tanmay Bhat), three South African comics (Mpho Popps, Loyiso Gola and Kagiso Lediga). Also expect American stand-ups James Adomian, Nate Bargatze and Michelle Buteau as well as comedy legends Norman Lear, Bill Cosby and Carl Reiner.

'Stand Up Planet' cast, left to right: Norman Lear, James Adomian, Hassan Minhaj, Carl Reiner, Nate Bargatze, Michelle Buteau, Aditi Mittal and Mpho Popps

What kind of humor are we talking about?

Like any comedians in the U.S., comedians abroad make light of the stuff they encounter on a day-to-day basis. But what's interesting about "Stand Up Planet" is how it helps you understand what constitutes a part of everyday life in India or South Africa. Take Aditi Mittal's literal take on bathroom humor, for example. Did you know that 40 percent of the world's population doesn't have access to a toilet?


HIV and AIDS are widespread in South Africa. But did you know men can reduce their chance of contracting HIV by 60 perfect just by getting circumcised? That decision isn't so easy, of course. Listen to Mpho Popps' take on "going to the mountain."


So it's just a comedy show and special?

As Hasan embarks on an epic journey of discovery to find some of the funniest stand-up comics in the most unlikely places, he follows their jokes and personal experiences deep into the hard truths and the promise for change in some of the toughest global poverty issues of our time.

Aditi Mittal

Mpho Popps

From rural villages and urban communities in India to the streets of Soweto in South Africa, Stand Up Planet brings you the stories and perspectives of individuals and organizations on the frontlines of social change. Learn more about SUP's heroes and allies here. And get all the latest information about "Stand Up Planet" -- the broadcast show as well as the web-original content -- on the show's official website.

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