- Happy birthday, Robbie Robertson! Known primarily for his work with The Band, Robertson is a musician, songwriter, film composer, actor and author. He is responsible for writing some of rock’s all-time greats, including “The Weight”, “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and my personal favorite, “Up on Cripple Creek”. Robertson has also collaborated with Martin Scorsese on a number of films, composing and producing scores for films like Raging Bull, The Color of Money, The Departed and The Wolf of Wall Street. Last year, I made a playlist inspired by Robertson’s birthday; I think it’s worth a listen again.
- Seinfeld premiered on NBC on this date in 1989 with an episode titled “Good News, Bad News”. Michael Richards’ character was named Kessler, not Kramer, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Elaine Benes was nowhere to be seen. Though the show was well-liked among most of the NBC execs, one notable exception was then-president of the network Brandon Tartikoff, who thought the show was “too New York, too Jewish”. To complicate matters, test audiences hated it. Tartikoff agreed to air the show as a one-off but refused to pick up the series, greenlighting Ann Jillian’s eponymous sitcom instead. Critics loved the show, then titled The Seinfeld Chronicles, and criticized NBC’s decision not to pick it up. And this time, the audience loved it: its Nielsen rating was good and it was the week’s 21st most-watched show (it did, however, lose its time slot to CBS’s Jake and the Fat Man). Fast forward to winter, Ann Jillian was placed on hiatus, and the show’s most ardent fan at NBC, executive vice president Rick Ludwin, agreed to put up his personal budget to pay for four more episodes of Seinfeld. The pilot was re-aired on June 28, 1990, to kick off the show’s mini-season. Seinfeld would remain on the air for nine seasons and 173 episodes.
- On this day in 1993, Björk released her first solo album, Debut, following the dissolution of her band The Sugarcubes. An eclectic mix of alternative, electronic and trip-hop, Debut was a bigger success in Europe than here in the US, but it was a hit on the dance and modern rock charts. It is a stunning debut, and is widely regarded as one of the decade’s best albums.
- The season finale of Top Chef aired Thursday night, and once the victor was crowned, the controversy began. Rumors began swirling about Gabe Erales’ firing from Comedar, the Austin Mexican restaurant where he was executive chef. The firing happened in December, after the season was filmed but before it aired. Host Padma Lakshmi took to Twitter to address the controversy:
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- Nick Offerman has joined the cast of Amazon’s A League of Their Own reboot as Rockford Peaches coach Casey “Dove” Porter, who apparently got his nickname because he killed a dove with a forkball while pitching for the Cubs. The series, billed as a “reimagining” of the classic 1992 film, was developed by Broad City‘s Abbi Jacobson, who will co-star as well. No word yet on a release date, but the show is expected to air sometime later this year.