Oct 31, 2011

Prairie Home Companion sound-effects guru Tom Keith dies at 64

Tom Keith, who created the sound effects for Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion radio show for decades, died Sunday (Oct. 30) after collapsing at his Woodbury, Minn., home. He was 64. The cause of death has not been determined, a spokesperson for the show told Minnesota Public Radio.

"The Minnesota Public Radio family is shocked and saddened by the sudden loss of our friend and colleague, Tom Keith," APHC producer MPR said in a statement. "Tom was beloved by everyone who had the pleasure of knowing and working with him. We will sorely miss his humor, his amazing talents and his friendship."

Keith, a native of St. Paul, had worked with Keillor since 1976. Keith last appeared on APHC on Oct. 22 from the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, with guest headliner John Lithgow.

The Documentary Group produces PBS "Primetime" series as well as its similar underwriting spots

America in Primetime, which premiered on PBS Sunday night (Oct. 30) carries underwriting spots for Unilever's Dove brand produced by the Documentary Group, the team that created the program, and are shot in a style similar to the content, reports the New York Times. "Such crossover producing is increasingly common in commercial television," the newspaper noted.

Creators, writers and actors behind primetime television shows are interviewed in the series, which examines how character archetypes have evolved through the years. Unnamed Dove marketing and public relations executives are interviewed in the 30-second underwriting spots, discussing how the brand strives to relate to changing consumers.

Tom Yellin, president and executive producer of the Documentary Group, approached Unilever with the idea, calling it a “natural opportunity” for a program about the creation of commercial primetime television to feature underwriting from a longtime primetime advertiser. He added that in the program, interviewees talk directly to the camera; in the spots, the executives are shot from the side. “We didn’t want there to be any confusion,” he said.

The Documentary Group was founded by former colleagues of Peter Jennings, the late ABC News anchor. It has produced several pubTV projects, including working with WETA on Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience, an interpretation of soldiers’ combat travails that aired in April 2007 as part of PBS’s America at a Crossroads series on the post-9/11 world.

Redding's KIXE-TV partnering with AM radio show for home improvement program

KIXE-TV in Redding, Calif., is launching a television version of the On The House home-improvement AM radio call-in show. KIXE General Manager Mike Quinn tells the local Record Searchlight that the new show, set to debut in January, likened the project to a West Coast version of This Old House, originally produced by WGBH in Boston. Heard on around 200 stations, On The House offers advice from the Carey Brothers, James and Morris, experts in home building and renovation. Their first projects for the KIXE television version will be a remodel of the station's Redding studio and construction of its new satellite studio in Oroville, Calif.

James Carey says the regional difference is important. "If you watch This Old House, you see a lot about basements, a lot about oil-burning furnaces, snow and issues that surround snow." He believes viewers in KIXE's 10-county Northern California area will want to hear about issues dealing with crawl spaces, forced-air furnaces and traditional water heaters.

Carey says he foresees the TV version of On The House going into syndication for pickup by other PBS member stations.