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 Pitch Perfect

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by Josh Rottenberg in Entertainment Weekly

Sid & Marty Krofft
he 1970s were a halcyon time to be a kid with unrestricted TV access, especially on Saturday mornings -- and much of the credit goes to brothers Sid and Marty Krofft, who blended puppetry, comedy, fantasy, and their own bizarro sensibility to create some of the trippiest children's entertainment ever. With a big-budget adaptation of Land of the Lost in theaters this summer, Sid, 79, and Marty, 72, look back at a few of their greatest hits. Gen-Xers, get ready to hum some theme songs.

H.R. PufnstufH.R. Pufnstuf (1969) The Kroffts' breakthrough -- about a boy who travels to a magical island -- became a cult hit among college students and hipsters (including the Beatles) thanks to its surreal, psychedelic look and alleged drug references. "When the show went on, all the people we knew who were druggies said, 'How'd you get away with this?' says Marty. In fact, Sid insists, "the title came from 'Puff, the Magic Dragon,' which was a big song then."

LidsvilleLidsville (1973) One of the Kroffts' oddest creations -- and one of the weirdest kids' shows in history -- centered on a boy trapped in a land of talking hats, where he's menaced by an evil magician. "I was lying in my van one day after a run and I had about 20 hats in there, and I said, 'Damn, every kind of hat has a different personality!" Sid remembers. Again, the title was widely seen as a coded reference to "lids" of marijuana. "A lid is a hat!" Sid protests.

Sigmund and the Sea MonstersSigmund and the Sea Monsters (1973) The Kroffts' series about two brothers who discover a strange but lovable sea creature and hide him in their clubhouse was inspired by a moment of reverie on a Southern California beach. "Sid was down in La Jolla and he saw this tremendous seaweed in the ocean," says Marty. "He brought the seaweed back to the office, and that was Sigmund." Notes Sid, "It was the same kind of concept as E.T., but way before."

Land of the LostLand of the Lost (1974) A father and his two kids hurled into a mysterious world of rampaging dinosaurs -- with hairy sidekick Cha-Ka (Chaka in the current film) and sinister, lizardlike Sleestaks thrown in for good measure -- made the Kroffts' biggest Saturday-morning hit a favorite for many a child of the '70s. "Oddly enough, the first title the show had was Lost," Sid recalls "We said, 'What does that mean? It needs a place.' That's how it wound up being Land of the Lost."  





 Walter Cronkite - In His Own Words

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by Benjamin Svetkey in Entertainment Weekly

Walter Cronkite in the 1960sHe looked like a small-town reporter, but as anchor of the CBS Evening News from 1962 to 1981, Cronkite was essentially the voice of God for many Americans. He died July 17 at the age of 92, but he left behind a memoir. Here's an excerpt about a day in 1963 when he led a nation in mourning.

t is an interesting thing about us newspeople. We are much like doctors and nurses and firemen and police. In the midst of tragedy, our professional drive takes over and dominates our emotions. We move almost like automatons to get the job done. The time for an emotional reaction must wait.


THE WAY
HE WAS

YouTube clips show how Cronkite became "the most trusted man in America"

Walter Cronkite

JFK ASSASSINATION

Walter Cronkite

VIETNAM

Eric Sevareid

MOON LANDING


I was doing fine in the department until it was necessary to pronounce the words: "From Dallas, Texas, the flash -- apparently official. President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time -- a half hour ago [pause]..."

The words stuck in my throat. A sob wanted to replace them. A gulp or two quashed the sob, which metamorphosed into tears forming in the corners of my eyes. I fought back the emotion and regained my professionalism, but it was touch and go there for a few seconds before I could continue: "Vice President Johnson has left the hospital in Dallas, but we do not know where he had proceeded. Presumably, he will be taking the oath of office shortly, and become the thirty-sixth President of the United States."

I was on the air for six hours when our producer, Don Hewitt, said Charles Collingwood was there to relieve me briefly. As I got up from my chair, I realized...that I was still in my shirtsleeves...far more informal than I would normally appear on the air...

'A Reporter's Life' - Walter CronkiteI went into my glass-walled office off the newsroom intending to call [my wife] Betsy. I needed an intimate moment to share emotions. Millions of Americans were doing the same. All afternoon I had been reporting that telephone lines were jammed and switchboards clogged across the nation. I had not thought that this would create a problem for me, but on my desk all twelve of my incoming lines were lit.

As I stared, one of them blinked dark and I grabbed it hoping to get an outside line. Instead there was somebody already there...

"Hello, hello, hello. Is this CBS?"

I confirmed that it was.

"Well," she said, "I'd like to speak to someone in charge of the news."

I reported that she had reached our newsroom.

"I want to complain," she complained, "of your having that Walter Cronkite on the air at a time like this, crying his crocodile tears when we all know he hated Jack Kennedy."

I was in no mood to listen to such unfair and distorted reasoning. I asked the lady's name and it was, as her accent indicated it might be, hyphenated. Something like Mrs. Constance Llewellyn-Arbuthnot. She also threw in her Park Avenue address for full measure of her importance.

With all the outraged dignity I could muster, I told her: "Mrs. Llewellyn-Arbuthnot, you are speaking to Walter Cronkite, and you, madam, are a damned idiot."


From 'A Reporter's Life' by Walter Cronkite. Published by Knopf in 1996.  

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