Obit: Marcia Strassman

Actress Marcia Strassman has passed away after a lengthy battle with breast cancer.

Strassman guested on a number of classic TV shows including Ironside, The Love Boat, Marcus Welby M.D. and The Patty Duke Show. She had a recurring role as Nurse Margie Cutler on M*A*S*H, but is best known for playing Gabe Kaplan’s wife Julie on the 1975-79 sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter.

Strassman died Saturday in Sherman Oaks, California. She was 66 years old.

CBS, Weigel Team Up For Classic Diginet

The CBS Television Stations Group is pairing up with Weigel Broadcasting to launch a new classic TV digital broadcast network called Decades that will compete with the likes of Antenna TV, Cozi, MeTV and Retro TV.

The new network will draw on the vast CBS programming library, which includes such iconic series as Cheers, Happy Days, I Love Lucy and Star Trek. It will also utilize the archives of CBS News and Entertainment Tonight. Decades plans to air Decades Retrospectical, “an original daily one-hour program produced around the news events and cultural touchstones of a specific day, week or other time frame or theme.” Shows and movies presented each day will reflect that day’s theme or commemorative event.

Weigel is the undisputed leader in the classic TV and movie digital space. They own and operate classic TV diginet MeTV, teamed with MGM to launch movie network This TV and are currently partners with Fox Television Stations on the classic movie diginet Movies!

Decades is scheduled to launch in Spring 2015 on the 16 CBS owned-and-operated stations including WCBS New York, KCBS Los Angeles, WBBM Chicago and KYW Philadelphia. Weigel will handle distribution of the new network in other markets across the country.

Tuned In: Catching Up

It’s been awhile since my last post, so let’s get caught up on some classic TV news:

  • Weigel Broadcasting has launched a spinoff of its popular diginet MeTV Network. H&I (Heroes and Icons) showcases action, police and western programming, including Batman, Kung Fu, The Untouchables and The Wild Wild West. It is currently available on the digital subchannels of Weigel stations in Chicago, Milwaukee and South Bend IN.
  • Speaking of digital broadcast networks, Grit TV will soon increase its coverage to nearly 75% of United States TV households. Sinclair Broadcast Group is adding the male-focused diginet to 47 stations across the country, including stations in Seattle, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Nashville. Grit airs mostly action and adventure movies from such studios as Paramount, Sony and Warner Bros.
  • Classic TV diginet MeTV is adding 5 new affiliates to its network. They include WHIO Dayton OH, WJRT Flint MI, KEZI Eugene OR, KERO Bakersfield CA and WKTV Utica NY. The total number of MeTV affiliates is now 166, reaching 92% of the U.S.
  • CBS is now offering a subscription streaming service that includes most current programs and a number of classics from the CBS library. CBS All Access claims to offer over 6,500 episodes, including such classic shows as The Andy Griffith Show, The Brady Bunch, Hawaii Five-O, I Love Lucy, Mission: Impossible, Perry Mason, Star Trek, Taxi and The Twilight Zone. The service costs $5.99 a month.
  • We said goodbye to several classic TV friends within the past month. Actress Polly Bergen guested on such classic shows as Dr. Kildare, The Love Boat and Wagon Train. She was a panelist on the original version of To Tell The Truth and most recently had a recurring role on the ABC drama Desperate Housewives. Bergen is perhaps best known for her role as Gregory Peck’s wife in the 1962 film Cape Fear. Also passing away recently: writer Sam Hall (he wrote for ABC daytime dramas Dark Shadows and One Life to Live) and actor-director Geoffrey Holder. Holder guested on It Takes A Thief and Tarzan (starring Ron Ely), but many remember him for his role in a series of commercials for the soft drink 7UP.