The Case for Primetime

I'm not prone to blogging about anything other television other than KCET and PBS programs becuase I believe what we offer stands apart and above the rest. I'm proud to say so.

Okay okay. I'm not a snob. I've learned lots about cooking techniques from Alton Brown over at HGTV, enjoy a number of British series I only get on BBC America (like Torchwood), and have spent enough time at the Weather Channel to appreciate the incredible weather that is California.

There's one series on NBC, however, I've admired for years and watch religiously: Law & Order. It's rare to find the consistent high level of writing, acting and producing that are hallmarks of the series created by Dick Wolf.  Mr. Wolf has created a number of successful spinoff series including Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

This Wednesday, January 6 at 9:00 PM, I'll be tuned to NBC to see the season premiere with guest star Jack Larson. Several months ago, Jack phoned me about this episode. He was anxious and nervous because even though he has been an actor most of his adult life, he admitted this was different. This was, after all, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Given Jack Larson enormous accomplishments I was surprised by his candor. This is the same Jack Larson who will forever be remember for his performance as Jimmy Olson on the original Superman series. This is the same Jack Larson who produced (with director Jim Bridges, his lifelong partner) major Hollywood films like The Paper Chase, Urban Cowboy, Mike's Murder and Bright Lights, Big City.

Jack Larson Fine Cut KCET 2009

(L to R: KCET Chief Content Officer Mary Mazur; Jamie Rigler; Jack Larson; Bohdan Zachary)

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In the episode title "Quickie" on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Jack Larson plays the grandfather of a young man (played by Brian Geraghty from the film "The Hurt Locker") who may possibly be infecting women with HIV. Jack loved the experience of shooting the episode and praised executive producer Dr. Neal Baer for the fine script. I look forward to seeing the episode even though Jack told me the plotline, which is the reason I suggest you have tissues at your side.

There's one other thing about Jack Larson. He has a long standing commitment to nurturing the directors of tomorrow. Through the Bridges/Larson Foundation, Jack makes grants to leading film and television schools in southern California. Jack believes it's important to teach budding directors that acting, scriptwriting and smart ideas are as important as the technological advances that are rapidly changing the industry. That's the reason why Jack came up with an idea 12 years ago that has become part of KCET's landscape. The annual series is called Fine Cut and over four weeks we spotlight some of the best filmmakers from leading film and televisoin schools in southern California, which include: University of Southern California; UCLA; Loyola Marymount; Art Center College of Design; and California Institute for the Arts. I'll write more about this year's series which will air on KCET during May. In the meantime, if you'd like to see some of the winning shorts from previous years, head to the Fine Cut website.

I'll leave you for now with a photo of a beaming Jack Larson surrounded by winning directors from Fine Cut 2009. Bohdan

Jack Larson and filmmakers

About the Author

Bohdan is Senior Vice President, Broadcast, Syndication, and Program Development for KCETLink.
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