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In which I agree with Kirk Dillard

Tuesday, Jan 21, 2014

* More from the Tribune’s coverage of yesterday’s WTTW GOP candidate forum

A generation gap was on display. Asked by the teens what TV show or character inspired them, Brady cited “Bonanza,” which stopped airing first-run shows in 1973. Rutherford said “Sea Hunt,” which ran first-run episodes until 1961. Dillard kissed up to the hosts, listing Ch. 11’s “Chicago Tonight.”

Dillard’s response was his usual “tell your audience what they want to hear” goofiness, but I actually agree with him. I wanted to be on that show so badly when I was young. You knew you’d made it if you were on the show. I was a total devotee.

So after I started my company and the call finally came in the 1990s, I eagerly jumped at the chance. That was in the old days, when the sainted John Callaway was still hosting and the show had a big enough budget to fly me to Meigs Field and pick up my car fare to the studio.

When I moved to Chicago, Phil Ponce kept me coming back on the show as a semi-regular. I never got over the thrill of walking into that studio, even when I grew a bit tired of being used whenever they needed somebody to whack George Ryan. Whatever. I felt like I was near the center of the Chicago political universe.

* And I learned a lot of “tricks” along the way, mainly by forcing myself to watch my appearances over and over again. It wasn’t a pleasant experience at first, but I figured out some stuff that helped improve my future performances.

The first thing to keep in mind is that everything moves fast so you have to jump in whenever you possibly can or the show will be over before you know it. I was on the program during Dan Rutherford’s first ever appearance, and we went out to dinner in Korea Town afterwards where he marveled at how 20 minutes (or whatever it was) just flew by.

And, between us, here’s a little secret I told Rutherford back then: The director will almost always cut to a shot of you if you react to somebody else’s comment. So a shake of the head, a smirk, a little chuckle, a frown, a smile, or whatever seems appropriate can slyly undermine an opponent’s argument, and they won’t even know what hit them unless they watch the show later.


* I used to need all that stuff. And I mean need it. At one point, the station put up a photo of myself and my buddy Carlos Hernandez Gomez in the main lobby and the two of us were beyond ecstatic. I eventually found myself becoming upset if I didn’t get the call to discuss a hot topic. I had totally bought in to the hype.

Eventually, I realized I shouldn’t let that effect me so much, and then I finally realized that I could leave Chicago and not worry about such things any more.

But, I gotta tell ya, sometimes I really miss walking into that studio.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:28 am:

    I would have rather been on “Bonanza.” They filmed a lot at Lake Tahoe and that’s some of the most beautiful country in the Lower 48.

  2. - Toure's Latte - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:33 am:

    The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

  3. - Whatever - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:35 am:

    Agreed, Rich. Chicago Tonight is a great show. However, to use your word, Dillard’s answer was just more “goofiness” from a candidate who stop pandering.

  4. - Nonplussed - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:41 am:

    What did Rauner say? Larry Kudlow on CNBC?

  5. - dupage dan - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:46 am:

    Sea Hunt was cool. I loved the whole narration gimmick by Lloyd Bridges. Film noir meets Flipper.

  6. - Wensicia - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:47 am:

    I don’t watch TV too much anymore, just to catch the news most days. But, WTTW is where I spend most of my viewing time. Chicago Tonight, The Week in Review, and PBS Newshour Weekend are all excellent!

    My favorite TV show, “Star Trek”, the original.

  7. - JeffingingChicago - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:47 am:

    If they are not watching Orange is the New Black, I am not voting for any of them

  8. - Levois - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:53 am:

    If you want to talk about old TV Hawaii Five-O with Jack Lord and I never watched an episode when it was in production because it was a bit ahead of my time. Then for now it’s Star Trek & Doctor Who. Also can’t beat Chgo Tonight for political coverage. ;)

  9. - John A Logan - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:56 am:

    It’s a Republican Primary. The only right answer is “The Outdoorsman with Buck McNeely”

  10. - Lakeview Native - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:57 am:

    I’m 35 and have never even heard of any of those shows. Let’s face it; politicians dont have real jobs, some of them never have and dont know their constituents unless its election time.

  11. - Grandson of Man - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:58 am:

    “Phil Ponce”

    Ponce nailed Brady when Brady said he was in favor of voter ID. Mr. Ponce was correct when he said that voter fraud [of this type] is miniscule. The purpose of voter ID is to make it unnecessarily harder for people to vote, which affects poorer voters who tend to vote Democratic.

  12. - Excessively Rabid - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:58 am:

    Breaking Bad. But I wouldn’t let it “effect” me.

  13. - Siriusly - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 12:03 pm:

    ALmost any answer would have been better than those three. American Idol, Fox News, Mike & Molly really anything would have been better. Those are the worst answers ever.

    Dan Rutherford said Sea Hunt? He looks pretty good for a guy in his 70s.

  14. - Drallid - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 12:08 pm:

    I don’t get why you are always “gigging” Dillard? What is your interest in his campaign? I think you should play it straight with Dillard and quit saying what you think he should and shouldn’t do. Given you have no real life campaign experience Rich, and Dillard has decades, don’t you think that he understands voters better than you do? Just asking?

  15. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 12:15 pm:

    Drallid, you should be thankful Dillard is getting any coverage anywhere. It’s his lifeline at this point.

    You’re not doing your guy any favors with your complaints. Excessive whining is blood in the water in politics.

    Once they stop covering you, you know you’re done.

  16. - Joan P. - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 12:19 pm:

    The Avengers. I wanted to be Emma Peel, but I look lousy in leather jumpsuits.

  17. - Chavez-respecting Obamist - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 12:19 pm:

    What did Rauner say?


  18. - A guy... - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 12:28 pm:

    Can’t go wrong with answering M*A*S*H. Even any character would do.

  19. - Upon Further Review - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 12:34 pm:

    When John Callaway was the host “Chicago Tonight” was “must see” programming. Now, it is not nearly as important.

  20. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 12:35 pm:

    When I was a very, very young child, I wanted our family to move to “Bonanza,” which is also where I believed Lassie lived on a neighboring ranch along with Flipper.

    I don’t seem to remember anything called “Sea Hunt,” but then I never liked Lloyd Bridges.

  21. - Drallid - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 12:49 pm:


    I still don’t get Rich’s daily obsession with Kirk Dillard. Is Rich secretly rooting for Dillard, or trying to run his campaign? Rather than file off daily rants against Dillard, why not play it straight Rich?

  22. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 12:53 pm:

    ===Rather than file off daily rants against Dillard===

    Poor little darling got his feefees hurt?

    Grow up.

  23. - MrJM - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 12:57 pm:

    “Chicago Tonight” will always have a special place in my heart because that’s where I first saw Rich Miller. I didn’t know what a “Capitol Fax” was but I could tell that this guy really knew his stuff.

    Imagine my disappointment when, after several subsequent appearances, I finally learned that Rich wasn’t actually a public television Muppet.

    – MrJM

  24. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 1:04 pm:

    Drallid, cut your losses. You make your guy look bad.

    What’s the headline on the thread say? That’s the best press Dillard has gotten anywhere in months.

    Did you see the beating he took in the Trib today? In the Sun-Times over the weekend?

  25. - circularfiringsquad - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 1:43 pm:

    Post Calloway Chicago Tonight isdon’t see TV
    How about a wbcast with Capt Fax and Oscar the Puppy?
    Maybe we could get BlueRoomers to pump it out to see who will use it
    Btw the question was dumber than the answers

  26. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 2:04 pm:

    === That was in the old days, when the sainted John Callaway was still hosting ===

    Must have been an incredible experience. And then they put your pic up in the lobby? Talk about an ego boost, lol.

  27. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 2:07 pm:

    Now you just need to break out the old highlight reel and some popcorn.

    “See Oscar? This is when dad used to…”

  28. - Think About It - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 2:44 pm:

    If Rauner attended all these forums the way the other candidates do, you’d learn the truth about who he really is. No guts, no glory. At least the other three are willing to put it out there. That’s what candidates do. They don’t run and hide behind overpaid consultants.

  29. - walker - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 2:54 pm:

    Have Gun Will Travel. and Sky King

  30. - Wensicia - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 3:13 pm:

    ==The Avengers. I wanted to be Emma Peel==

    I think almost every woman of my generation wanted to be Emma Peel back when “The Avengers” was on TV.

  31. - MrJM - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 4:04 pm:

    I think almost every woman of my generation wanted to be Emma Peel back when “The Avengers” was on TV.

    And a not-insignificant number of dudes.

    – MrJM

  32. - Chavez-respecting Obamist - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 5:41 pm:

    Chicago Tonight with whathisname, the disc jockey, I’m completely blanking on his name–Bob Sirrot. That was JuskSkipTV. Ponce and the current contributors brought excellence back.

  33. - Just The Way It Is One - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 7:40 pm:

    It was really a Great Debate. I thoroughly enjoyed each ONE of the Candidates at one point or another and the Teens’ Questions were pertinent and insightful. They, as our Future, made me proud to be an Illinoisan again!

    Oh, yeah, but…oops. One LARGE piece of the pie was sadly and wrongly missing. Again–it’s just pathetic that You Know Who always seems to have a “conflict in his schedule.” That kind of GARbage of an excuse is just SO lame–and was an outright AFFRONT to our Illinois Youth his Ads CLAIM to care so much about. The “proof’s in the PUDding, Pal,” as the Old Saying goes, and you, Brucie, didn’t even bother to submit any pudding for consideration…pfff! Just really feeble.

  34. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 8:57 pm:

    I just had the chance to watch the whole thing. Rauner may have won by not showing up. The teen questioners definitely outpointed D-Lard, Brady was uneven but better, and Rut was good but looked like he hadn’t slept for a week.

    Funny moments: Rutherford shouting out his Tweeter name twice in answering a question about social media, (and his other favorite TV show was Tarzan) Brady being tossed a lifeline by Ponce when he awkwardly misused the word “minority” (he meant as it relates to age but it didn’t come out like that) and Dillard encouraging the kids to go read up on his economic plan.

  35. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 9:53 pm:

    ==The Avengers. I wanted to be Emma Peel==

    I’ve always liked that show and Mrs. Peel’s wardrobe. And the cars, and the “eerie” story lines. I never wanted to be her, though.

    Did you ever notice that everyone who was being either investigated by–or Emma and Steed were supposed to save, was or wound up dead?

    British (Intelligence) humor, I suppose. ;)

  36. - Chicago Tonight Employee - Wednesday, Jan 22, 14 @ 4:02 pm:

    Hey Rich,
    Thanks for your reflection. When you’re in town, we still want you in this studio! Don’t hesitate to notify us.
    anonymous chicago tonight staffer

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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