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Tuning in to TV
Emmy-winning character actor Harry Morgan, whose portrayal of the fatherly Col. Sherman Potter on television’s “M*A*S*H” highlighted a show business career that included nine other TV series, 50 films and the Broadway stage, died Wednesday. He was 96.
His daughter-in-law, Beth Morgan, told the Associated Press that the actor died at his home in Brentwood, Calif., after having pneumonia.
“He was sidesplittingly funny,” Mrs. Morgan said. “He was very humble about having such a successful career.”
Morgan appeared in mostly supporting roles on the big screen, playing opposite such stars as Henry Fonda, John Wayne, James Garner, Elvis Presley and Dan Aykroyd.
On television, he was more the comedic co-star, including roles on “December Bride,” its spin-off “Pete and Gladys,” as Sgt. Joe Friday’s loyal partner in later “Dragnet” episodes and on CBS-TV’s long-running “M*A*S*H” series, for which he earned an Emmy award in 1980.
‘MythBusters’ stunt sends cannonball through house
A stunt for the TV show “MythBusters” sent an errant cannonball through a California family’s house and into a parked minivan a few hundred feet away, the Associated Press reports.
Producers for the Discovery Channel show said the cannonball Tuesday was fired at the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department bomb range behind the Santa Rita Jail when it misfired.
Sheriff’s spokesman J.D. Nelson told the Contra Costa Times that no one was injured and the home’s residents didn’t even wake up until the dust settled — literally on top of them.
Mr. Nelson, who is also a consultant for the show, said producers have used the cannon that they built at the range more than 50 times without incident.
The cannonball was supposed to go through a few water-filled barrels and a concrete wall. Instead, it passed over the barrels, through the wall, and then took a “very unfortunate bounce that sent the ball skyward,” Mr. Nelson said.
About 700 feet away, it bounced in front of the home, then tore through the front door and out a wall on the back of the house. The projectile then bounced at least once more and crossed the road before smashing the window and dashboard of the minivan, where it came to rest.
“We had some tremendous bad luck and some tremendous good luck” in that no one was hurt, Mr. Nelson said.
Jasbir Gill, who owns the minivan, said he and his children had just gotten home.
“It’s scary,” Mr. Gill said. “I was in the van five minutes before this happened.”
Mr. Nelson said he did not know the exact size, speed or weight of the cannonball.
Cellphone game gets Baldwin kicked off plane
American Airlines used social media to explain its actions Wednesday after Alec Baldwin said he was booted from a flight for playing a word game on his cellphone as the plane was about to depart from Los Angeles.
Without naming the “30 Rock” actor, the airline said on its Facebook page that an “extremely vocal customer” declined to turn off his phone when asked to do so by a flight attendant.
The company said the customer stood up and took his phone into the lavatory, slamming the door so loudly the pilots heard it.
On Twitter, American Airlines said its flight attendants followed federal safety regulations regarding electronic devices.
Mr. Baldwin boarded another American Airlines flight to New York after Tuesday’s incident, but said he wouldn’t fly with the airline again.
Before being booted from the first flight, the actor was playing a game called “Words with Friends” while the plane idled at a gate at Los Angeles International Airport, said Mr. Baldwin’s spokesman, Matthew Hiltzik.
“He loves ‘Words with Friends’ so much that he was willing to leave a plane for it,” Mr. Hiltzik said.
Mr. Baldwin, a prolific Twitter user, took to the social media site to vent, saying a “flight attendant on American reamed me out 4 playing Words With Friends while we sat at the gate, not moving.”
Mr. Baldwin tweeted that it would be his last flight with American, despite the fact that they show “30 Rock” for in-flight entertainment.
Netflix CEO believes his Internet service will prevail
To hear Netflix CEO Reed Hastings tell it, the boneheaded decisions that have dragged down the Internet’s leading video subscription service during the past five months eventually will be forgotten like a bad movie made by a great film director.
Shaking off the stigma of a massive flop won’t be easy, a challenge Mr. Hastings acknowledged late Tuesday when he spoke at a UBS investor conference in New York. After his host mentioned the mystique surrounding Mr. Hastings as Netflix’s fortunes soared a year ago, Mr. Hastings quipped: “Now, it’s just pity.”
The self-deprecating humor prefaced a 45-minute treatise on why Mr. Hastings believes Netflix will overcome its recent adversity and remain at the forefront of a shift that increasingly will turn watching Internet-distributed video into one of the world’s most popular pastimes.
His long-term vision calls for Netflix to be selling Internet video subscriptions at prices starting at $8 per month in most markets outside of China.
“If you fundamentally believe Internet video will change the world in 20 years, we are the leading play on that basis,” Mr. Hastings boasted. He quickly added a caveat: “As long as we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot anymore.”
Mr. Hastings sounded as if he intends to stick around to lead the way, despite questions about recent moves that triggered a customer backlash and a staggering decline in Netflix’s stock price that has wiped out three-fourths, or about $12.5 billion, of the company’s market value in five months. Netflix Inc. shares closed Tuesday at $68.14, down from a peak of nearly $305 in July when the company infuriated its U.S. subscribers by announcing plans to raise its prices by as much as 60 percent.
Mr. Hastings said his biggest mistake was trying to phase out Netflix’s once-trailblazing DVD-by-mail rental service more quickly than millions of customers wanted.
• Compiled from Web and wire service reports.
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