Monday, April 30, 2012

J-Speaks: The Passing of “America’s Oldest Teenager”

He was one of the finest people ever on the small screen. He was the one that turned a local television show in Philadelphia, PA into one of the finest, ground breaking shows in television history. He was one person that was always there for you on Dec. 31st ready to party whether you were in Times Square or watching on television. His young looks earned him the nickname “America’s Oldest Teenager.” With that being said he was one special businessman whose worth came to be close to $100 million dollars. Unfortunately with all of his youthful spirit and energy, father time did catch up with him and on Wednesday Apr. 18 he was gone.

Last Wednesday Rock ‘N’ Roll legend Dick Clark passed away from a massive heart attack. He was 82 years old. He is survived by his wife Kari Wigton and his three children Richard, Duane and Cindy. He had been married on two other occasions to Barbara Malley (1952-1961) and Loretta Martin (1962-1971).

In a statement The Walt Disney Company Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bog Igor said in a statement, “We’re proud that ABC was home to those programs and will always be part of his legacy. We send our sincere condolences to Dick’s family, as well as the three generations of fans who will miss him as much as we do.”

Clark was born Richard Wagstaff Clark on Nov. 30, 1929 in Mt. Vernon, NY, Clark graduated from his hometown high school and went to college at Syracuse University where he began his legendary career as a radio disc jockey, which he would eventually parlay into a $100 million dollar media empire that he built on a laid back persona that was first perfected on a local television show called, “American Bandstand.”

The show was gave the baby boomers a place to go and dance to the latest music as well as the place where some of the latest acts performed and some even turned those performances into the big break and shot them to stardom.

Among the acts that appeared on “American Bandstand” that are household names today include Madonna, who made her debut to the music world. Cher, Barry Manilow, the rock group KISS, Elvis, Billy Haley (“Rock Around the Clock”), David Bowe, Frankie Avalon and Nick Jagger just to name a few.

“We knew we had arrived when we did your show,” Cher said last Wednesday.

“You were so sweet to us and I was so terrified, but once we got there it was fun and it was great.”

“Dick Clark was involved in the earliest exposure of the band. His contribution to American music and to Rock ‘N’ Roll and bringing it into the homes of America is immeasurable. He is the one who did it. He‘s Dick Clark” Paul Stanley of KISS said.

The show gave Rock ‘N’ Roll music a place to build its audience and to persuade those that were skeptical that it was okay to listen to. Within a year of taking over the show at age 26 back in 1956 when it was just a local show in Philadelphia, it was syndicated nationally behind Clark’s clean cut image and sanitized Rock ’N’ Roll in a way that made it safe for parents to allow their teens to watch it on television

“I don’t think there’s anything really very mysterious about the younger generation,” Clark said one time on CBS’s “Person to Person” with Edward R. Morrow.

“for the very first time in their lives, they’ve been able to look in on their children having fun doing what they like to do. They finally got a common ground of understanding so they can talk to one another for a change.”

Manilow echoed those same feelings about the show when he said, “American Bandstand had the biggest impact on all of us kids because it gave a voice to teenagers that were always just being told to got to bed or go to your room and suddenly Bick cam on the air and gave us respect and treated us like people and we had a voice.”

He Clark’s show also introduce the world to African American musical talents like The Jackson Five, Chubby Checker and disco legend Donna Summer.

Checker who introduced America to “The Twist,” which went No. 1 twice said, “If Elvis was the king of Rock ‘N’ Roll then Dick Clark is the king of all disc jockeys. Before Chubby Checker came on ‘American Bandstand’ they did ‘The Swing.’ Chubby Checker came on ‘American Bandstand’ with ‘The Twist.’ ”

Music legend Stevie Wonder said about Dick Clark having African American acts on his show that it “bridged a color gap at a time when there should not have been one. Giving musical life to black artist that may not have had a chance. He gave music freedom equal opportunity.”

“It’s a sad day for the music industry and the world,” Disco legend Donna Summer said in a statement last Wednesday.

“He was a legend a true gentleman and most importantly a dear friend to me.”

At its peak “American Bandstand” played to 20 million viewers. The show was on from 1957-1989 on ABC. He gave us 10,000 performances by the all-time greatest artist that 20th century that got their first big break on the show.


At age 28 Clark’s show had a confined weekly audience of 50 million Americans at least and he received 50,000 letters a week from teenage fans, which earned him the title America’s “oldest teenager.”

“I have a terrible problem because people keep referring to me as America’s oldest living teenager,” Clark once said. “If you want to stay young looking, just pick your parents carefully. The minute you mentally atrophy and freeze in time, you are old.”

His ageless looks very often were a punch line from so many famous faces like George Burns who said, “I’ve been watching Dick Clark ever since I was a little kid.”

Behind those good looks and effervescent charm was a business man ahead of his time. He investment company Dick Clark Productions into game shows like the “$25,000 Pyramid,” “Rate-A-Record,” “Bloopers” and “This is Your Life” and he became a commercial pitch man for some major companies.

“Dick Clark had one of the most remarkable careers in television history. He defined pretty much what we know as reality programming,” Ron Simon of the Paley Center for Media said.

His production company is also responsible for putting together two of the greatest award shows that are a major part of the landscape now. “The Golden Globes” is the prelude to award shows like “The Academy Music Awards” and “The American Music Awards” are the prelude in the music world to “The Grammys.”

To show how big of a mark Dick Clark made on television, at one time he was on all three major network CBS, ABC and NBC seven nights a week. His media empire that he built when he passed last Wednesday was worth more than $100 million

“He wasn’t just the star of it. He was really the conceptualizer of it and he understood the market,” Fred Goodman, former writer for “Rolling Stone” magazine said.

“There were two Dick Clark’s. There was the Dick Clark who was the performer. The guy with the beautiful smile, those twinkly eyes and then there was Dick Clark the businessman,” said radio personality Cousin Brucie.

Clark’s biggest impact on American television came each and every Dec. 31 when he would bring in the New Year in Times Square in New York City as host of Dick Clark’s Rockin New Year’s Eve on ABC.

No matter if you were by yourself, with your significant other or just with family, he was always on the tube to bring in the New Year ever since the middle of the 1970’s.

His long streak came to an end eight years ago when he suffered a minor stroke on Dec. 8, 2004.

According to Clark’s spokesperson Amy Streibel, Clark was hospitalized, but was expected to be okay and he was.

Taking Clark’s place on Dec. 31, 2004 was hosted by Regis Philbin, who during the show sent his best wishes to Clark, who returned one year later and he brought along Ryan Seacrest and Hillary Duff as co-host.

Back in Aug. of 2005, it was announced that Seacrest, who is also the host of “American Idol” and is also a radio personality that he would take over as the sole host of the New Year’s Eve show on ABC, which he has done the past six years, should Clark decide to retire or be unable to continue.

“I remember as a kid I was allowed to stay up and watch Dick Clark with the head set and the microphone and the big ABC logo. I just thought it was the coolest thing in the world,” Seacrest said.

“I was always impressed with how he could make you feel so comfortable. You would watch at home and you would feel like you were part of the party. You felt like was just talking to you. I think that is one of his amazing talents.”

One year after making his return to our living rooms on New Year’s Eve, he made his return to the Emmy’s where he had many nights of victory, he came back a broadcast and Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Famer.

There are very few people who can have an impact in life, particularly in the music world without singing a tune or playing an instrument. That is the kind of impact Dick Clark had on the music industry and television. Along the way he made long lasting friendships and brought joy to those that watched him in person or on the small screen.

On Twitter many celebrities sent their condolences to Clark and their fondest memories.

Russell Simmons said, “Clark was eternally young. No matter what culturally phenomenon was happening, he always embraced it.”

Actress Melissa Joan Hart said on Twitter, “Thanks for entertaining my family for decades! New Year’s Eve won’t be the same ever again!

Singer Fergie said, “Dick Clark will be truly missed. We will carry on his legacy every New Year’s Eve.”

Rapper and actor Snoop Dogg, “REST IN PEACE to the Dick Clark !! U were pioneer n a good man!! Thank U Sir.”

We will definitely as Hart and Fergie said we will miss him on New Year’s Eve. He was always there to bring in the New Year with all us in North America from the middle of the 1970s to his last appearance in Dec. 31, 2011 giving a big kiss to his wife at the stroke of midnight.

One Dick Clark Rockin New Year’s Eve that stands out among all the rest is the one after Sept. 11, 2001, which is when he said before the stroke of midnight, “New Yorkers are resilient. They are strong.”

“For 40 years he has spent New Year’s Eve celebrating with us here in Time Square and he brought America with him. This is New Year’s Eve and he’s Mr. New Year’s Eve,” Lori Raimondo of the Times Square Alliance said to WABC Eyewitness News reporter Lauren Glassberg.

There are very few of us who know at an early age what we want to do with the rest of our lives. At age 13 Clark walked into a radio studio and he saw two guys do a radio and he said “Wow what a great way to make a living.”

He made a great living and built an empire that made millions of dollars, brought great entertainment to the masses, broke barriers along the way. He had a way of touching people and giving them confidence to be their best when that time came and they were. Above all he never forgot his routes, which made it even more amazing that he spent the last night of the year in an area he knows very well, especially future generations of those from his hometown.

“Having them feel a sense of pride in this community in the fact that they attend a school with such a rich tradition and rich history,” Mr. Vernon High School Principal Ronald Gonzalez said about its famous alum and Hall of Famer Dick Clark.

In his “Let Me Finish…” segment on his MSNBC show “Hardball” Philadelphia native Chris Matthews said last Wednesday, “I was thinking about my paper boy days back when I spent all those slow summer afternoons delivering The Philadelphia Bulletin along the boarder between Montgomery County, PA and Bucks County PA. It was a long lonely route about five miles and I had to ride my bike a mile just to get to it, but there was something ideal about it given all that’s happen since off course. I was thinking late today about that because I remember standing at the doorway of somebody on a Friday afternoon. That was collection day waiting for the customer to get me that $.30 for the week of newspapers and listening to Bandstand on the TV set. Bandstand was a big deal back then, especially for teenagers. It was a place each afternoon, our place where kids a little older than me became celebrities just for showing up after school to dance to the latest music. Celebrities with names like Mary, South Philly. The host of that show was off course Dick Clark, who died today. I wonder where all those kids were when they got the news. Probably over in Jersey most of them. Some of them still hanging on now in their 70s in the old narrow streets of South Philadelphia. Dick Clark had a wonderful way of connecting to those kids. Us kids. He cared about our music. About our fun. He actually cared about us. He was a little older, but not a day less hip. So tonight I want to say how much I share in all of this. We Philly people were very proud, really proud that ‘Bandstand’ started in our old neighborhoods and I say best to you Mr. Clark and also to Mary wherever you are who made South Philly such famous part of our great country. Long before Rocky. Long before even cheese steaks.”

Information and quotations are courtesy of 5/18/12 5 p.m. edition of WABC Eyewitness News with Diana Williams and Sade Baderinwa, who was substituted by David Navarro, reports from entertainment reporter Sandy Kenyon and reporter Lauren Glassberg; 5/18/12 7 p.m. edition of “The Insider” on WCBS with Brooke Anderson and Kevin Frazier; 5/18/12 6:30 p.m. edition of “CBS Evening News” with Scott Pelley, report from Anthony Mason;; 5/18/12 5 p.m. edition of MSNBC’s “Hardball” with Chris Matthews; 5/18/12 11 p.m. edition of WABC Eyewitness News with Bill Ritter and Sade Baderinwa, substituted by Liz Cho, reports from entertainment reporter Sandy Kenyon and reporter Jen Maxfield; 5/18/12 11:35 p.m. edition of ABC News “Nightline” with Bill Weir.

Friday, April 27, 2012

J-Speaks: “The Legendary Summitt Steps Down at Tennessee”

She won more basketball games than any men’s or women’s coach in NCAA Basketball history. She made players great both on and off the court. She set a standard for excellence that can never be duplicated or replicated. More than anything else, this proud lady put both the University, the team that she coached and women’s basketball on the map and everyone wanted a chance to see it on television or in person. On Wednesday Apr. 18 however that amazing journey to greatness came to an end.
On Wednesday, Tennessee Lady Volunteers basketball coach Pat Summitt stepped down after 38 seasons.
Back in August of this year, the 59-year-old Summitt was diagnosed with early onset dementia, a type of Alzheimer’s disease.
Former Lady Volunteer and assistant coach for 27 seasons at Tennessee Holly Warlick will take the place of Summitt who will stay on as head coach emeritus.
In her new role Summitt, according to NCAA rules, will be allowed to watch the Lady Volunteers practice and collaborate with the coaching staff on game plans. Summitt will also be allowed to sit behind the Tennessee bench during games, but she will not be allowed to actively coach the team.
In a statement, Summitt said, “I’ve loved being the head coach at Tennessee for 38 years, but I recognized that the time has come to move into the future and to step into a new role. I want to help ensure the stability of the program going forward. I would like to emphasize that I fully intend to continue working as head coach emeritus, mentoring and teaching life skills to our players and I will continue my active role as a spokesperson in the fight against Alzheimer’s through the Pat Summitt Foundation.”
Current ESPN Women’s College Basketball Analyst and former Purdue Lady Boilermakers head coach Carolyn Peck, who led them to the National title in 1999 said that Summitt “will be the icon that will be around that program. She is a great motivator. A fantastic teacher and she’s a great role model.”
The resume that Summitt put together at Tennessee speaks to why she was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame 12 years ago.
She garnered the most wins than any other men’s or women’s basketball head coach in NCAA Division I with 1098. Her record overall is 1,098 and 208. The Lady Volunteers under her leadership made it into the Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournament in each of its 31 seasons, the most in Division I history. Summitt’s’ teams reached the Final Four 18 times, a Division I record and won the National Championship eight of those times (1987, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2007, 2008), falling two short of the 10 that UCLA legendary head coach John Wooden won. The Lady Vols won 16 South Eastern Conference Championships (SEC) and 16 SEC Tournament titles under Summitt.
Individually, Summitt was named SEC Coach of the Year eight times (1983, 1995, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2011) and was named NCAA Coach of the Year seven times (1983, 1987, 1989, 1994, 1995, 1998, 2004).
“She’s just the legend that John Wooden is on the men’s side,” said Baylor Lady Bears head coach Kim Mulkey, whose team won their second Women’s National Title this past season and did something that the Lady Vols never did compiling a 40-0 record.
“Pat started coaching at a young age and one of us will ever pass her on anything that she has done.”
The style that has made Summitt a success as well as the team’s she has coach is a no nonsense make the most, respect and never take for granted the opportunity that you have. We are in this together win or lose. It is on you individually on the court as well as in the classroom.
A great example of this is from a story that Sports Illustrated writer Gary Smith did 14 years ago about Summitt and the Lady Vols when they lost a game in conference at the South Carolina Lady Gamecocks. When they returned to Knoxville, TN that night the players were ordered to report straight to the locker room and to suit up into the smelly uniforms that were in the trunk of a car that entire night. Summitt told her players, “Now you’re going to play the second half you didn’t play last night.”
It is those kinds of methods that Summitt would use to let her team understand that they are not just the standard of women’s college basketball, they are the, model. Every team that they play wants to defeat them. They have a target on their back and they can choose to accept the challenge and get better each day or fall by the wayside. 
It is something that former players like forward Chamique Holdsclaw and Kara Lawson learned, appreciated and respected about Summitt.
“When you talk about women’s basketball and when you talk about the top teams, people are going to put Tennessee and there automatically going to think of her,” said Holdsclaw, who won four titles at Christ The King Regional High School, three straight titles at Tennessee in four years (1995-99) , was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1999 WNBA Draft by the Washington Mystics and played 11 seasons.
“For us that had the opportunity to be around her and to be exposed to that environment is truly a blessing.”
Another former Lady Vol who feels very grateful for the chance she got at Tennessee and is very sad to see a great era come to an end is ESPN Women’s College Basketball analyst and current WNBA player for the Connecticut Sun Kara Lawson.
The former Lady Vol guard who played for the school from 1999-2003 says that Summitt’s exit as head coach at Tennessee brings to a conclusion the most impressive era in women’s college basketball history.
“This is a woman whose impact in her game will never be forgotten,” the nine-year pro and Olympic Gold Medalist said.
The same sentiments were echoed by former Vols men’s basketball head coach and good friend Bruce Pearl.
“When a young lady came to Tennessee, the difference she made in their life after basketball was what it was all about. You can get X’s and O’s from anybody, but you couldn’t get life lessons.”
The success that the Lady Vols had in terms of how they went about the task of winning both on and off the court gave other schools and example of what it takes.
The best example of this is the University of Connecticut Lady Huskies who under head coach Geno Auriemma have made the Final Four 12 times with it ending in a championship seven championships. They have also won 19 Big East regular season titles and 18 Big East Tournament crowns.
“Pat’s vision for the game of women’s basketball and her relentless drive pushed the game to a new level and made it possible for the rest of us to accomplish what we did,” Auriemma said.
“In her new role, I’m sure she will continue to make significant impacts to the University of Tennessee and to the game of women’s basketball as a whole.”
The success of Pat Summitt is measured in more than just victories and the championships. It is also measured in the fact that the ladies she has coached have taken stock in their own lives or have learned to do so. A big part in being in her program that is mandatory is that in your classes you are visible literally and figuratively. A major example is that you sit in front of the classroom and not behind. Some would say why? If you think about it by being in front of the classroom, you have no where to hide. By being in the front you are visible and as a result, you know that being prepared in the classroom will give you the best chance to succeed. Just like in practice, if you pay attention, when it comes time for the game you are not shocked by anything that is going to come at you. You have focus on the task at hand.
To Pat Summitt, being prepared and making a commitment to being great is something that she greatly values when you really look at it. To her when you truly care about being special and you are willing to pay the price and not leave any stone unturned that is the measure of being great. It also allows you to see yourself as more of yourself and a part of something.
That something is a large number of victories and while that may not be the only thing that matters, it is what makes the difference.
Back on Nov. 4, 2011 ABC News Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts asked Summitt, “Why she still wants to coach?”
Her answer, “I want to cut down nets. I might get up on a ladder again. Wouldn’t that be neat?”
While her Lady Vols won one more SEC regular season title and two more SEC Tournament crowns, they never won another overall championship, which makes you appreciate and respect the eight they did win as well as the other accomplishment that they were able to do.
“You saw those players have those traits and they loved the tame of basketball, but they had a passion to be so much better and her tank never ran out,” North Carolina men’s basketball coach Roy Williams said about Summitt.
“It’s all about doing things the right way. Sticking to core values that you believe in and really demonstrating them everyday and also living them out,” assistant coach Dean Lockwood said.
“It’s one thing to speak them, it’s another thing to live them out and Pat Summitt has been a person who’s lived out her core values.”
If there is one thing that Summitt has shown to the nation and the world from her excellence in coaching is what Title IX, the 1972 landmark legislation that was signed by then President Richard Nixon.
It said according to Section 181(A): “No person in the United States shall on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”
It is because of this law we have the likes of a Summitt, Mulkey and Rutgers Lady Scarlet Knights C. Vivian Stringer, just to name a few head coach on the sidelines leading their teams to greatness, just as well as the likes of Williams and Pearl.  
“Its just hurts me in my heart, it really does,” said Stringer, whose team lost to the Lady Vols in the NCAA title game five years ago.
“I feel so connected to Pat, as we’ve been together so long on the same journey as coaches and friends. This is really a sad day for me. I love Pat so much, but this isn’t the way her amazing career should end.”
This is not the way her career should end, but while this chapter of Summitt’s life is coming to a close, the lasting impact she has had on women’s basketball as a whole is remarkable. Above all, she made an impact on the lives of her assistants, her former players and the last group of seniors that played for her.
“I wouldn’t be the woman that I am today if it wasn’t for coach and I really appreciate her for the opportunity and the blessing that she’s been in my life and I love her so much and I’m gonna miss her,” senior guard Brianna Bass said.
“She’s life a place in all of our hearts, especially the seniors leaving,” senior forward Alicia Manning said.
“She’s such a wonderful person. She’s more than just a legendary basketball coach. She’s a legendary person.”    
She is a legendary coach and person and above all a trail blazer whose record, attention to detail and her relentless pursuit of greatness brought respect to college campus in Knoxville Tennessee and to a sport that is seen by many in person and on television.
“Pat understood the importance of being on campus and she made going to women’s college basketball fashionable and popular and that is one of the reasons the program developed because people were coming and then national television wanted to come look at women’s college basketball games because there were 10,000, 15,000, 20,000 people in the stands saying its important,” said Pearl.
Information, statistics and quotations are courtesy of 5/18/12 5:30 p.m. crawl report from ESPN’s Bottom Line during the show “Pardon the Interruption” with Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser; 5/19/12 2 a.m. edition of ESPN’s Sportscenter from Los Angles, CA with  Neil Everett and Stan Verrett; 4/22/12 10 a.m. edition of MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry with Melissa Harris Perry;; Auriemma;