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What a Blast: Two Blasts from My Distant Past Check Back In
October 12, 2009  | By David Bianculli


When I teach my film and TV courses at Rowan University, I tell my students that I started writing, as a TV critic for a daily newspaper, when I was about their age. This weekend, I heard from the newspaper editor who gave me that opportunity -- as well as from a college professor who made me want to be one myself...

The editor is Ed Johnson, who ran Florida's Gainesville Sun when I was a college senior at the University of Florida, majoring in journalism. During an Applied Journalism course just before I got my degree, I was assigned to the features department, where I was allowed (thanks, Diane Chun!) to write a review of a brand-new NBC series aimed at college kids: Saturday Night Live.


After the review ran (see visual proof above), Ed called me into his office (a first for me, and just about the only time, over my career, that a summons to the editor's office meant good news) and made me an offer. Would I be interested in writing four more reviews, as a tryout, at $5 a pop? I said yes instantly, and not only because of the whopping payday. That was my "in" -- and I've been a TV critic ever since.

So when Ed posted this note to TV WORTH WATCHING last week, I was thrilled:

"While searching Amazon for a copy of The Bianculli Name in History ($29.95), I ran across reference to Dangerously Funny. The description sounded so much like the book you claimed to have been working on since the last century I was compelled to order a copy, hoping it is that effort's result. Surely it must be so, and I offer congratulations. Also, best wishes for happy and prosperous holidays. -- Good Old Ed"

So thanks, Ed. Send me your address, and I'll send you a book. You can give the copy you ordered to someone else. Call me!

And speaking of calls, this weekend I got a call from Mickie Edwardson, who taught one of my absolute favorite courses at UF, when I stuck around to get a Masters (while still writing a TV column for the Sun, as did Mickie: She was the film critic, while I covered TV). It was an advanced scriptwriting course, and those of us in the class learned so much and enjoyed it so much, we kept it going unofficially afterward by meeting occasionally at Mickie's house.

This is a woman who was respected and feared in equal measure by most students -- she had a similar reputation to that of John Houseman's Professor Kingsfield from The Paper Chase -- but I adored her instantly, and still do. I couldn't have smiled any more widely when she told me, over the phone, she still remembered one of the things I said in one of her classes. "Today," she said to open the session, "we're going to talk about redundancy." I shouted out, "Again?"

Great to hear from you, too, Mickie. You taught me to write more crisply, to analyze scripts for flaws, and generally to be a better critic. Good luck on YOUR book -- and if you can finagle a way to get me down to UF for a guest-lecture appearance somewhere, go to it.

Dinner, with you and Ed, is on me.




Ed Quigley said:

Go Gators!

Comment posted on October 12, 2009 1:06 PM

Tom Henel said:

David, I would love to read your review of SNL that you did when you first started out, but it's unreadable as presented on the site here...could you post the review?
[Actually, you can read it in the MORGUE section of this very website! Just click the MORGUE button on the navigation bar, scroll down to the SNL review, and click on READ MORE. It'll pop up, or should, in a readable .pdf file. -- David B.]

Comment posted on October 16, 2009 2:29 PM

WillnPL said:

So agree with Tom, would love to read that first review! [Click on MORGUE in the nav bar, find the Saturday Night Live entry, and you can. Not sure it's worth the effort, though. -- David B.]

Comment posted on October 28, 2009 6:22 PM
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