During his years with ABC, Roone Arledge revolutionized the way people looked at professional sports, allowed Howard Cosell to capture the hearts and minds and anger of fans, brought his network out of the ratings doldrums and won seven Emmy Awards while doing it. Now the network says that Arledge has died of complications from cancer. During his later years, he moved from sports to news and became director of that operation for ABC. His legacy includes "ABC's Wide World of Sports," with its unforgettable "agony of defeat" statement, and "Monday Night Football," which has become an American institution and the life-blood of a million sports bars and restaurants. He embraced instant replay earlier than most others and used it to bring ABC sports to a higher level of excellence. But, from the standpoint of this journalist, his great contribution came during the tragedy at the Munich Olympics. Suddenly, when Jewish athletes were being attacked, Arledge directed his reporters on the scene to instantly switch gears and become newsmen. His "sports" crew provided some of the most accurate and complete reports on the massacre and showed us that people such as Jim McKay are great reporters and journalists, even though the events they usually describe are sporting ones. The fast-paced look of today's network news is, in large part, the result of Roone's innovative touches. When the history of broadcast news is written, major chapters will be devoted to Roone Arledge. He was 71.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MR. SENATOR
Wow. Sen. Strom Thurmond made it, turning 100 this week. And Capitol Hill threw a huge party. The fun-loving, eye-for-a-pretty-girl member of Congress is the longest-serving legislator in history. He once ran for president and captured 30 electoral votes. That was back in 1948. He came to Capitol Hill in 1954, first as a segregationist Democrat, then switched his party affiliations. A veteran of World War II, Thurmond was among the brave boys who parachuted behind enemy lines to support the D-Day invasion. He won 18 medals and saw action in every major battle in Europe. He'll leave the Senate at the end of the current session. By the way, as violent as were his feelings against racial integration early in his career, the South Carolina public servant would eventually become the first senator from Dixie to hire a black person as his personal aide. In many ways, he bridged the gap between the "Old South and the New South." Many more, Mr. Senator.
KEITH DEFENDS LYRICS OF JINGOISTIC SONG
The presence of a certain phrase regarding the backside of the human anatomy might have deprived Toby Keith the right to perform on a network Fourth of July broadcast, but it didn't prevent the song from rising to the top of the country charts. Some months ago, amid all the debate over the decorum of the lyrics, a member of the Dixie Chicks -- Natalie Maines -- criticized the song, saying that it perpetuated a negative stereotype of the "ugly American" and pandered to the lowest common denominator. Now Keith is getting a chance for rebuttal. The CMT Network will soon air a two-part interview with Keith, covering a large area of his personal and public life and dealing with the controversial song, "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)." CMT plans to broadcast the segments next week to coincide with Keith's induction into the fold at the Grand Ole Opry.
HOLLYWOOD STARS SHOWING MORE SKIN
It's one thing for a Hollywood star -- or more usually starlet -- to bare it all on a movie set, but what happens when that star starts having second thoughts? People magazine has prepared a major treatise on the issue of nudity in the movies. It says that some stars, including Selma Blair, thought nothing of doing a nude scene (in Blair's case for "Storytelling") but then later wondered what would happen if his or her mothers went to see the film. The bottom line is and has always been that "sex sells." When TV came into its own in the 1950s and people stayed home to watch and movie houses went bust by the thousands, Hollywood fought back, doing things that could not be done on TV at the time ... Cinerama, 3-D and sex. But Elayne Blythe, the president of the Hollywood-based Film Advisory Board, told People that in the old days many of the stars were sexier with their clothes on than today's stars are in the buff. Take Bogart and Bacall for example. The magazine says that even though you'll see more actresses in full-frontal nude shots, don't look to see many male stars walking nude toward the camera. It's a male-dominated society.
WHAT A WEEK FOR TIM MCGRAW
Talk about people grabbing your latest CD off the shelves in record numbers. Billboard magazine is reporting that the newest album by Tim McGraw, "Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors," sold more than 600,000 copies in its first week in stores. The CD hit the charts at No. 2. Shania Twain's two-CD, two-themed effort "Up!" retained the No. 1 spot. By the way, Mrs. McGraw, popular Faith Hill, kept the No. 7 spot on the Billboard album charts with her latest effort, "Cry." Oh, and those three albums are not in the top spots in the country album roster, they are on the mainstream Billboard 200 list. The news provider country.com notes for its readers that fans of country music should be proud of themselves.
PROBATION AND FINES FOR WINONA
Thirty-six months of probation and $11,000 in fines ... that was the judgment meted out by a Los Angeles court Friday morning for actress Winona Ryder. United Press International has learned that Superior Court Judge Eldon Fox also ordered Ryder to perform 480 hours of community service and to get drug and psychological counseling. In closing the case, the judge told Ryder that if she ever stole again, she would "go to jail." Ryder noted that she understood the warning. The much-watched case against the actress had been brought by a Los Angeles Saks Fifth Avenue store that claimed a tape from its video cameras proved that Ryder was guilty. The defense claimed that she had been set up by the store, looking for a high-profile anti-shoplifting case just prior to the holidays, the highest shoplifting season.
UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTION NO. 475
Today, in light of the 100th birthday this week of Sen. Strom Thurmond, we are asking: "Would you like to live to be 100 years old?" Put 100 in the subject line and send to firstname.lastname@example.org via the Internet.
RESULTS OF QUESTION NO 470 (STARS)
In reporting the death last week of much-loved actor Parley Baer, we mentioned that he had been on a list of 10 personalities who -- when they were gone -- left a huge void in American entertainment. At that time, we asked you what two stars you most dreaded seeing leave the scene. From a random sampling of the inbox, here are the results in order of popularity:
NEXT: Shop 'til you drop.
THANKS FOR YOUR INPUT ...
We continue to get your nominations for our holiday "good guy" project. During the upcoming Twelve Days of Christmas we're going to honor "local heroes." We'll pick eight of your honorees and mention them in this column. There will be eight people honored, since only eight of the 12 days fall on days in which this column is printed. So, think of someone in your community who is an unsung hero. Tell us about that person. We'll only use the name of the person with their approval, so you should add a contact number for them. If none is provided, we'll simply tell the story of the person. Put HONOR in the subject line and send to comments@upi. via the Internet.