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Rating Improv-A-Ganza games; the ratings May 25, 2011

Posted by Mike C. in Comedy, Commentary, Game Shows, Media, Personal, Radio, Theatre, TV.
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I have been a fan of improv comedy since I discovered reruns of the British version of Whose Line is it Anyway? on Comedy Central 14 years ago.  The American version with Drew Carey and much of the American performers from the British version brought the Whose Line franchise and improv to the stratosphere.  My love for Whose Line carried over to Drew Carey’s Green Screen Show, which unfortunately didn’t last long.  But I had the good fortune to conduct phone interviews with Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood while I was at WCWP.  Here’s how those interviews went:

Brad Sherwood Interview (May 25, 2005)
Colin Mochrie Interview (September 14, 2005)
Brad Sherwood Interview II (November 10, 2006)

(More interviews can be heard here and here.)

Four years into Drew Carey’s run as host of The Price is Right, along came Drew Carey’s Improv-A-Ganza on GSN.  With a month and a half of the show under viewers’ belts, I’ve decided to choose my favorite, least favorite, and so-so games from the show:
(NOTE: Ratings are subject to change and vary by the episode in which the games are performed.)


  • Fairy Tale
  • First Date
  • Forward/Reverse
  • Freeze Tag
  • Kick It!
  • Options
  • Playbook
  • Question This!
  • Sentences
  • Two-Headed [Expert]


  • Sound Effects – I’m a perfectionist.  With the exception of Rich Fields and Steve Kamer, audiences members’ attempts at sound effects are tough to watch.
  • Moving People/Bodies – This is also tough to watch.
  • Mousetraps – All I can say is ouch!  I feel for whatever two performers have to participate.


  • Bob’s Call – When Bob Derkach hears a line that songs like a song, he’ll improvise a song and the two performers in the scene have to do the same.
  • Compilation Album
  • New Choice
  • Song for a Lady

I’m hoping there will be more Improv-A-Ganza in the weeks, months, and perhaps years ahead.  But unfortunately, it may not be around much longer, either, as it is suffering from low ratings.  I got so caught up in watching each episode and savoring every moment, I didn’t consider looking up the ratings.  Since the show’s competition includes cable news opinion shows, I’m not surprised.  The ratings would probably be higher if DVRs were factored in.  I’m one of those DVRers, if that is a word.  I watch my Improv-A-Ganza recording later while watching Fox News Channel’s The O’Reilly Factor as it airs.

I convert each episode to my MiniDV camcorder then capture those episodes to my computer as AVI video files.  The final step is normalizing audio and inserting fades or crossfades then rendering as MPG files and deleting the AVIs to save hard drive space.  Unfortunately, the recordings are in SD (standard definition) because Cablevision hasn’t added GSN’s HD feed.  Improv-A-Ganza airs in HD.

If Improv-A-Ganza is in its last days, then there is an upside: there will be more episodes of this show than the Green Screen Show.

5/25 UPDATE: Last night’s episode featured those so-so rated games Bob’s Call and Compilation Album.  I liked them both.  Moving Bodies was all right.

5/26 UPDATE: I have a theory about some of the Improv-A-Ganza ratings analysis.  The show is not a traditional game show, yet it’s on GSN.  Therefore, if its ratings can be negatively spun, perhaps that will hasten its cancellation.  It’s similar to the Fox Business Network (FBN): highlight the channel’s low ratings and root for its demise.

I’m probably wrong.  It is, after all, just a theory from a fan of Drew Carey’s improv franchise, from the American Whose Line to Improv-A-Ganza.

5/27 UPDATE: Look at this post on the MGM Grand Las Vegas Facebook page (h/t Improv-A-Ganza Facebook fan page):

Stand-up comic, producer, writer and host of “The Price is Right,” Drew Carey, will return to the Hollywood Theatre at MGM Grand with his Drew Carey’s Improv-A-Ganza. Audience members may appear in an original, primetime GSN (Game Show Network) television series being shot during these special live performances!

Improv-A-Ganza is alive!

6/3 UPDATE: Or is it?  Tonight’s show was the season finale.  Let’s hope it wasn’t the series finale.

Not watching The Price is Right; but instead… May 19, 2011

Posted by Mike C. in Comedy, Game Shows, Media, Personal, Theatre, TV.
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This season, The Price is Right went in a direction that I did not like: they decided to go with guest announcers that had little or no announcing experience.  The guest announcer they felt was best was made permanent.  The result is a stilted delivery with caricatured announcer emphasis.  I don’t want to name the announcer because if I decide to watch regularly again, he may grow on me.  In that case, I will update this post with the good news.  Until then, I watch three shows with professional announcers:

  • Jeopardy! with Johnny Gilbert
  • Wheel of Fortune with a series of guest announcers trying to fill the late Charlie O’Donnell’s shoes; as I type, Jim Thornton is guest announcing for the third week in a row
  • Drew Carey’s Improv-A-Ganza with former TPiR announcer, the last pro, Rich Fields

In the case of Improv-A-Ganza, it appears Drew has finally found a successful successor to Whose Line is it Anyway?  I love nearly every second of the show.  The best game so far was Forward/Reverse on last Monday’s episode.  Jonathan Mangum, part of the Improv-A-Ganza performer rotation, is a good announcer/sidekick to Wayne Brady on Let’s Make a Deal, a show I watched (despite not airing in HD) until I could no longer take poor decisions by contestants.  Wayne has appeared as a special guest in select Improv-A-Ganza episodes.

With Wheel, it helps if there are as little dud letters called and as little Bankrupts and Lose-A-Turns spun as possible.  A successful bonus round solve doesn’t hurt either.

Jeopardy! is at its best when the two rounds are completed without the annoying bip-bip-bip-bip indicating time has run out and clues will remain hidden.

Michael Rothbard passes away November 1, 2009

Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Music, News, Pets, Theatre.

11/4 UPDATE: Michael’s dog Cleo passed away today.  IMAC’s statement is at the bottom of this post.

Early Friday evening, I had been alerted that Michael Rothbard, Executive Director of IMAC (Inter-Media Art Center) in Huntington, New York, had passed away in the morning.  It was a shocking, sudden, and sad loss.

The following was posted on the IMAC website:

Executive Director and guiding light Michael Rothbard passes away
Oct 30 2009

It is with the heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of IMAC Theater’s Executive Director and guiding light Michael Rothbard.

*Service Information*
Please join us for a celebration of the life of Michael Rothbard on:
Monday November 2nd, 2009
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Huntington (UUFH)
109 Browns Rd.
Huntington NY 11743

(631) 427-9547

Internment will follow immediately at Huntington Rural Cemetery
555 New York Ave
Huntington, NY 11743-4215

In lieu of flowers & gifts, Kathie [Bodily] wishes donations to be made:
The Michael Rothbard Young Musicians Scholarship
Checks  & money-orders made payable to:
32 Crescent Drive
Huntington, NY 11743

If you would like to pay your condolences to Kathie & the family, please feel free to stop by:
Tuesday November 3rd   2-4pm, 7-9pm
Wednesday November 4th  2-4pm, 7-9pm
Thursday November 5th  2-4pm, 7-9pm
32 Crescent Drive, Huntington, NY 11743

Michael Rothbard, co-founder of the Inter Media Art Center (IMAC) in 1974 with Kathie Bodily and a dynamic force in the cultural life of Long Island for the past 34 years, passed away suddenly this morning (Oct. 30th) at Huntington Hospital.

Born in Brooklyn in 1946, Michael was an independent video producer before pursuing his vision of establishing a space where artists in all media could create and showcase their work. This vision evolved from a small media access center in the basement of a home in Halesite to an abandoned movie theater on New York Avenue in Huntington Village that became the premiere concert venue on Long Island.

Before closing its doors this past June, IMAC had inspired many imitators, but none could reproduce the spirit that made IMAC so special. That spirit was Michael, whose enthusiasm, generosity, ingenuity and indomitable energy embraced IMAC’s crew, audience, performers and especially Kathie, his loving partner.

Michael is survived by his perfect mate, Kathie Bodily, Cleo, their Golden Retriever, his sister, Lynn Carr and his niece, Melody Carr.

I’ll miss Michael very much.  I know everyone else that knew him feels the same way.

11/4 UPDATE, also posted on IMAC website:

“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”
(Will Rogers)

On November 4th, 2009 beloved dog of Michael Rothbard and Kathie Bodily, Cleo, joined Michael in the loving embrace of the cosmos. She lived a full life, in her last days surrounded by family and friends- a joy to the end. She will rest in peace with Michael…faithful companions on a journey together.

1/26/11 UPDATE: If anyone reading this post knows where Kathie can be contacted, please pass that information along in the comment thread below.  Thank you.

IMAC closing…for now? July 3, 2009

Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Media, Music, Theatre.
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An exterior shot of IMAC that I took in July 2006 following a David Benoit concert.

I’m late in posting this, but here goes.  The IMAC (Inter-Media Art Center) is leaving its location of 26 years in Huntington, New York.  IMAC’s future is unknown, but as a semi-regular there for four years, I hope very much that it is reborn at another address.  We’ll see.

IMAC executive director Michael Rothbard released this statement:

IMAC leaves the Huntington Theater

First, Kathie, our staff, Cleo and I want to thank the many patrons who have enjoyed so many of their favorite artists at the IMAC Theater over the years.

An old, decaying building with too many flaws to continue to manage, exponentially raising costs and declining support have brought us to the conclusion that it is time to move out of the building that have been renting for 26 years and pursue a new mission.

IMAC has been a pioneering organization since its inception 36 years ago when we became one of the 13 original Media Art Centers. Our mission was to establish a professional video production facility to serve Artists, non-profit organizations and independent producers from Long Island in an attempt to facilitate a whole new range of television productions that never existed before.

In 1983, IMAC was the first on Long Island to turn an abandoned theater into a non-profit performing arts center whose mission was to present a wide range of music not normally found on Long Island. In the last few years, a number of townships have revitalized their abandoned theater “eye-sores” into successful venues and a number of universities are regularly presenting programming echoing the IMAC model. Now the music and artists that we first brought to Long Island can be found at many of the new venues and we feel we are not pioneering any longer.

IMAC has decided to broaden its mission and return to its pioneering roots in a number of ways. One of our new directions will involve using electronic media to better connect audiences with venues in ways that will help increase revenues to venues and connect patrons to venues in new and easy ways. Additionally, IMAC will be available for a wide variety of arts consulting projects.

Huntington has been revered as a cultural Mecca for well over two hundred years. It’s obvious that a world class town like Huntington, being the “Little Apple”, needs a world class theater. Toward that end IMAC and the Huntington Town Supervisor, Frank Petrone will explore the possibilities of bringing back a state of the art performing arts center to Huntington.

Please stay in touch. Visit our site from time to time to see what’s going on and feel free to email us at info@imactheater.org.

Musically yours,
Michael, Kathie, Cleo and the staff

Further reading:
Newsday: Influential music hall closes in Huntington
Newsday op-ed: IMAC’s closing marks the end of the mom-and-pop music hall era
Newsday column: What’s next for Inter-Media Art Center’s founders?
Long Island Press: Exit Stage Left
Times Beacon Record: Curtain down on a quarter century

Jackie Mason’s last show ever! July 18, 2008

Posted by Mike C. in Personal, Theatre.
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Courtesy JackieMason.com

Sunday afternoon, I will be attending the very last show for “Jackie Mason: The Ultimate Jew” at New World Stages’ Stage 1 in New York City (Manhattan, anyway), a short train ride from Wantagh.

This is Jackie’s final one-man comedy show of his illustrious multi-decade career.  I feel honored to be a part of history and I’m looking forward to going.  I think I’ll only be a few rows from the stage.

7/21 UPDATE: The show was excellent, hilarious!

7/28 UPDATE: CDs or DVDs of that last show can be purchased here.

11/9/09 UPDATE: This turned out not to be his last show ever.  Last night, I went to see Jackie Mason: No Holds Barred at the Tilles Center.