Mark Schwed

A hoax at KROQ

The history of radio is full of hoaxes. The most famous, Orson Welles’ 1938 War of the Worlds broadcast, set off nationwide panic. But while Welles and CBS Radio got off with a slap on the wrist from the Federal Communications Commission, the latest big prank — a shocker at Los Angeles’ rocking KROQ — has a station’s license hanging in the balance. Last June KROQ morning jocks Kevin Ryder and Gene ”Bean” Baxter staged a murder confession during their call-in show, Confess Your Crime.

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A clash at ''In Living Color''

Fox’s nine-month old In Living Color has become a solid hit, but not everyone associated with Keenen Ivory Wayans’ skit-comedy series is smiling. First, actress Kim Coles left the show amid rumors of a soured relationship with the producer-star. Now comic Franklyn Ajaye, who wrote for the series in its first season, has attacked Color for ”glorifying the ghetto” in such sketches as the Homeboy Shopping Network, which features two black street hoods selling stolen goods out of the back of a truck. Some of those who’ve stayed call Ajaye’s attitude sour grapes.

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The Universal Studios blacklot fire

That backlot blaze at Universal Studios ironically may prove a boon for Disney, which was in the process of filming two movies there when the fire roared through earlier this month. The flames destroyed Universal’s famed multimillion-dollar New York Street set, where Disney’s Oscar, a slapstick comedy directed by John Landis and starring Sly Stallone, was filming. The blaze also set back production on another Disney feature, Newsies, which was to have been shot on the same set.

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Jane Fonda's fitness tapes

”We do this because we want our guys to find us attractive,” says Jane Fonda, explaining her fanatical affinity for fitness. ”I mean, I love it when my boyfriend says to me, ‘I can’t believe what good shape you’re in,”’ admits Fonda, who lately has been spending a lot of time on the arm of cable magnate Ted Turner. ”It’s kind of fun for women to be, at least in one area, faster or stronger than their boyfriends or husbands.”

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How Jay Leno writes his monologues

As the electric gate guarding Jay Leno’s Southern California home swings open just after midnight, the caravan carrying what could be called Team Leno quickly pulls in and parks. There is serious business to be done and, besides, the ice cream is melting.

This is no time for rookies. Later that day — a Tuesday — Leno must stand alone in Studio One at NBC Burbank and deliver a seven-minute monologue to about 7 million Americans. The Tonight Show is the wrong place to bomb. Leno and three comedian pals must polish at least 25 one-liners before sunup.

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The history of a joke

Some jokes make it. Some don’t. Jay Leno writes most of his own, and he employs writers to do more. Aspiring joke writers from far-flung places fax jokes to his home; friends submit the rest. As a ”gag bonus,” Leno pays pals $50 for each joke that makes it to the air. This is the story of one of those, dubbed the Joke of Doom, written by Team Leno leader Jim Brogan.

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''In Living Color'' bursts onto the scene

The woman playing Robin Givens is on a ”Love Connection” set describing her first date with Mike Tyson: ”We went to this lovely little jewelry store where I allowed Michael to purchase me a very lovely ruby, diamond, and sapphire collection and a matching car!”

”Did you give Mike anything?” the host asks.


In Living Color — on which this parody is set to appear — is, it seems safe to say, the first urban, hip-hop, ethnically diverse, comedy sketch-dance series to show up on television.

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