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October 24, 2007



Hi Ken,I have some footage of Clete Roberts covering the 1956 Newton fire, which burned parts of Corral Canyon. It's an amazing piece of film. In it, Roberts interviews a young man who helped his family evacuate their home. In a low voice, he talks to the teenager as a father would, counseling him to leave the area until the danger passes.In another scene, Roberts is running down a fire road, waving his cameraman on, as flames jump along the side of the road. He looked like a kid at an amusement park. You could tell how much he loved his work.Then there's a shot of Clete helping a family haul furniture out of their fire threatened home -- talk about reporter involvement!Clete was an original. For years he wore a trenchcoat -- even when the weather was warm. The big pockets came in handy for carrying extra cans of film.

D. McEwan

In the immortal words of Boris Karloff: "Fire bad."But the important news, at least according to Billy Bush, is that Marie Osmond is okay, and will be up and voting for Mit Romney in no time. Meanwhile, EXTRA and ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT continue to bring us the fast-breaking updates on which celebrities have had to evacuate to their other houses. Over on BRAVO, QUEER EYE FOR THE STRAIGHT DISASTER's Carson is providing emergency information on what colors to wear with an orange sky. And Geraldo Rivera hasn't slept in days. He's at 36 hours of asking people in shock stupid questions. My favorite: "How did you feel watching everything you own destroyed?" But nothing yet on the real victims, the soap opera fans who now have to stay up all night, because DAYS OF OUR LIVES is running at 2 AM. They're sleep deprived and punchy.Oh, if only we had the pot fields of Marin County in Los Angeles, all this smoky air might be more enjoyable.Meanwhile, all agree, this is the biggest disaster since VIVA LAUGHLIN.

Rory L. Aronsky

I forget which channel he's on, since I spend more time joking with my sister about the TV reporters covering this fire (if some of these women are reporters, then I'm a multi-million-dollar football player), than noticing which channel I've stopped at, but I swear that Dave Lopez looks like a latino Buddy Hackett.


There's a former Real World member (Seattle) who has been covering the San Diego pilgrimage live, and... well, she seemed confused, to put it mildly.On the other hand, there seem to be a fair number of reporters who refuse to leave the scene in a reasonable amount of time, which must piss off the firemen to no end. I'm not sure why journalists have to get their truck singed (or completely engulfed which happened a few years ago) in order to prove their commitment to the story.


Ken,Nice of you to mention our coverage of the fires. As you know we've had seven to nine reporters on the ground and as many as three flying reporters at one time around the clock from Canyon Country to San Diego. They do the hard stuff. My job is basically just to tell the time and introduce people. Still, it's nice to have KNX noticed and acknowledged.


A Clete Roberts story...When I was a student at UCLA, I worked as a weekend gopher in the news department at the CBS TV station in L.A. Clete was the weekend anchor. After running scripts, I'd hang out in the studio, put on a headset and watch the show.One night, the director called a :90 second spot break, so Clete walked over to chat with the crew. No big head, he. The director made a mistake. The spot break turned out to be a :60. When the break was over, "Take One" revealed an empty podium. Clete was on the opposite side of the room!The director screamed. The FD was madly waving his hands to get Clete's attention.When Clete noticed the situation, he slooooowly walked to the podium, confidently entered the shot and commenced reading from the teleprompter, as if this were planned.Clint Eastwood acts cool. Clete Roberts WAS cool.Clete was a gentlemen who treated everyone with respect and dignity, which is a more valuable lesson than any other I may have remembered from college.


Please note you did this post right after one entitled "Barbeque of Death." I will say no more. love,your sick daughter

Tom Quigley

Glad to hear you and your family are OK, Ken... I think it was a year ago this week that we had coffee at Jerry's... My years in LA consist of a lot of memories of earthquakes and wildfires, (not to mention the Rodney King incident, trial and subequent riots, OJ, El Niño, Malibu mudslides, etc. -- God, what a decade the 90's was!) Probably the best reporting I remember was KTLA's coverage of the 1993 Topanga/Malibu fire... I recall Jennifer York at one point doing an 18-hour stint in her chopper covering the situation, for which I think, she won a local news Emmy...On another issue -- Ken, I hope you're not going to let your blog become a dumping ground for bad CHEERS specs (otherwise you might get a few of mine -- just kidding!)...


And then there's channel 4. Before the commercial break, a big graphic fills the screen that reads KNBC.COM - and INSIDE the letters there's a blazing fire! Nice going, Paul and Colleen.

Michael Zand

Oh my God, Ken. Eric is a friend of mine. Thanks for the heads up. I'll check in on him today.


Glad to hear you're okay, and my condolences for those affected, but . . .Are you kidding me? Younger families moving farther and farther away? The fires started in Malibu. Younger families looking for cheap homes don't move to Malibu or "remote canyons". Not unless they win the lottery.And did you honestly imply that nothing could have prevented these fires? How about rich people not building in areas where development is dangerous? As long as these morons keep building mansions in delicate wildlife areas like the hills of Malibu, consequences will arise.It's a shame these fires spread and affected people elsewhere, but I have no sympathy for the selfish toads who keep squeezing more homes into environmentally dangerous areas. They reap what they sow.


Ken--where you gonna go? Why Phoenix, of course. Never a hurricane, the monsoon rains are generally benign and do not require evacuation, no tornados, no floods now that the government has dammed up all the rivers, forest fires are always a few hours outside town, and earthquakes? Once in a while, the pool water sloshes, letting us know you have had one. And the heat? Well it's a dry heat, LOL. As long as there is electricity, and A/C or swamp cooling, no problem.Of course the downside: every time something happens in California, builders throw up more subdivisions along I-10 and more Californians buy homes.I could make the same argument for Albuquerque or Tucson, except Tucson floods at times and both cities get snow.


The place I live only has pollution and bees. Other parts of the country have floods every year tho, and every year they go on tv saying "we have 8 children, we lost everything", and I always point at them and laugh. It's like those guys who run in front of the bulls every year.


This is one of the few things I don't miss about living in SoCal. In fact, if we had stayed in Santa Clarita before moving to Maryland, we would have evacuated. Oh, and our home wasn't built in a place where...how did that sympathetic soul put it? "the selfish toads who keep squeezing more homes into environmentally dangerous areas."It is good to see that FEMA seems to have learned their lesson from Katrina, at least.


“Largest Peacetime Movement of Americans since the Civil War.” Doesn't the Civil War not count, since it was, you know, a war?I wonder what was the movement of Americans, non-war related, that he meant to say.


Well, it wasn't Hurricane Katrina because everybody there just sat on their butts waiting for somebody to save them--up until the water levels reached their nostrils -- and some even then.What could he possibly mean? In the spring of 1864, probably 3,000 civilians remained in Atlanta when the Confederate army was forced out on September 1. Days later, Sherman ordered almost all noncombatants to leave town. Angels’ Stadium holds approx. 45,000 which disperses into Orange County on a regular basis.Hey, Brian, when’s your contract up?

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    Ken Levine is an Emmy winning writer/director/producer/major league baseball announcer. In a career that has spanned over 30 years Ken has worked on MASH, CHEERS, FRASIER, THE SIMPSONS, WINGS, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, BECKER, DHARMA & GREG, and has co-created his own series including ALMOST PERFECT starring Nancy Travis. He and his partner wrote the feature VOLUNTEERS. Ken has also been the radio/TV play-by-play voice of the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres.
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