IF ANYONE could bridge the gap between the golden age of television comedy and today’s reality shows, it’s probably Norman Lear.
But who would have thought that he could get young Americans dancing to the polls?
That’s exactly what happened last week when producer Nigel Lythgoe, a judge on Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance,” urged viewers to visit Lear’s DeclareYourself.com website, where they could register to vote in this November’s presidential election.
Lythgoe and Mike Darnell, head of Fox’s reality show division, were so impressed by Lear’s nonpartisan effort that they decided to mention the website on the show last Wednesday.
Lear was traveling when the show aired. But it didn’t take him long to find out about it.
Ater returning Thursday to his family’s rented beach house in Malibu, the legendary producer and his wife, Lyn, dropped into the popular branch of Nobu where they ran into Darnell. He told Lear about the program (and that Lythgoe even wore the group’s T-shirt sporting the message “VOTE”) and suggested that Lear take a look.
By the time the Lears returned home, their teenage twin daughters had already found the show on TiVo and played it back for their very impressed dad.
Lear being Lear, he immediately got in his car, drove back to Nobu and thanked Darnell in person. Because of the show, Lear said, Declare Yourself has been flooded with new visitors.
Even if they can’t dance, people can vote.
Learn to survive like a politician
Among the current wave of books instructing a nervous public on how to survive everything from the black death to a comet impact comes the “Worst-Case Scenario Almanac” edition for (who else?) politicians.
“The Worst-Case Scenario Almanac: Politics,” published by Chronicle Books, is full of useful information, like how to escape assassination by a ninja (use a briefcase or duck behind the podium) or how to work a hostile room (note areas where you might be struck by tomatoes, eggs, pies or other thrown objects).
The final pages are devoted to important practical information, like how to drive a tank. (Guide the tank as you would a bicycle, snowmobile or motorcycle by rotating the handlebar left and right.)
And when in doubt, always remember “music calms the savage beast.” The authors -- David Borgenicht and Turk Regan -- note that supporters of Philippine president Corazon Aquino quelled rebels in 1987 by blasting Paul Anka’s song "(I’m Just a) Lonely Boy” over and over outside their Manila compound. After three days, the rebels laid down their arms and surrendered.
As the almanac explains: “Political lesson: Don’t throw away those old vinyl records.”