- The Washington Times - Monday, February 21, 2005

‘Time’ capsule

The long-running “One Day at a Time” can’t be seen on Nick at Nite or any other cable outlet. Nor are any of its eight seasons available on DVD.

Still, that doesn’t stop complete strangers from approaching one of its stars, Valerie Bertinelli, about the show.

“It always shocks me. We’ve been off the air for 20 years,” Miss Bertinelli told reporters during a recent phone conference to promote her show’s reunion special.

Miss Bertinelli and former “One Day at a Time” cast mates Bonnie Franklin, MacKenzie Phillips and Pat Harrington revisit their sitcom days tonight at 9 on CBS.

Fans can expect the usual crush of highlights (and backstage gossip) from the show some saw as years ahead of its time.

“One Day at a Time” followed Ann Romano (Miss Franklin), a newly divorced mother of two young women (Miss Bertinelli and Miss Phillips) who routinely dealt with issues that television wasn’t always eager to tackle in 1975.

Back then, just showcasing a divorced ” not widowed ” mother on TV was considered a daring foray into realism.

Miss Bertinelli, who played the book smart Barbara Cooper, says the show still resonates for the same reason as an old chart-topping song.

“When you think of a song you listened to growing up, it brings you back to that time in your life,” says the actress, who was 15 when the show began.

Miss Bertinelli said she couldn’t think of a current show that’s comparable to “Time” because these days she rarely watches TV.

“I grew up on television and I don’t know what’s on TV,” she laughed.

Bathroom expose

The District’s public school system often gets low marks for student grades.

Now, “Inside Edition” is taking the system to task for what it calls “deplorable” conditions in several District high school buildings in a report airing today.

The syndicated news magazine, seen weekdays at 4:30 p.m. on WUSA 9, finds many D.C. school restrooms either out of order, clogged beyond use or missing toilet paper, soap and stall doors.

Today’s broadcast, which also targeted schools in Miami, prompted the D.C. Public Schools to promise an action plan which will address the concerns, the show reports.

Critics chide ABC

ABC News executives are reeling from the criticism over a Thursday night special on Michael Jackson that featured interviews with some people who were paid for their participation.

The program, “Michael Jackson’s Secret World,” contained interviews conducted for a British documentary on Mr. Jackson that aired in that country earlier this year. ABC paid for the U.S. rights to the film, and the British producers paid for some of the interviews, Associated Press reports.

Two disclaimers proclaiming that “some of the individuals who appeared in that documentary received compensation for their participation” appeared during the ABC broadcast.

Network officials felt the disclaimer would protect them from brickbats.

“All of the information that we presented meets the standards of ABC News. And we were able to make those determinations based on extensive additional reporting and extensive vetting,” Jeffrey Schneider, executive vice president of ABC News, told Reuters.

Mr. Schneider added that it’s common practice for broadcast news outlets in Britain to pay their interview subjects. The Jackson special included footage from a British documentary.

Still, the network’s defense hasn’t assuaged some media critics.

Bryce Nelson, a journalism professor at the University of Southern California, said ABC deserved credit for running a disclaimer. But, he adds, that didn’t negate the rationale for refusing paid interviews.

“The reason ABC… has a policy of not paying (for interviews) is they think it changes the content of the material,” Mr. Nelson said. “If people are being paid, there’s always the incentive to exaggerate to make it a better story, or to make it more clear than it actually is.”

Some observers suggested that ABC was trying to have it both ways ” by assuring the public that it adheres to the more stringent standards of American journalism, while making use of interviews paid for by others.

“Michael Jackson’s Secret World” chronicled his history of friendships with young boys, one of which led to criminal charges of child molestation being leveled against the pop star.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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