TV Gold to Lift the Spirits

During the pandemic I found two new shows that helped kept my spirits up during the turbulent spring weather that often kept me locked inside.  The first I discovered was a special 20th anniversary edition of “Who Wants to be A Millionaire” hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, the late night talk show host. Kimmel gleefully asks the questions and jokes with celebrity contestants, with  winnings going to the charity of their choice.

I’ve seen two shows with Eric Stonestreet and Nikki Glaser so far – and it reminded me of the original with Regis Philbin, which I used to watch for awhile in California when it originally launched in the mid-90s.  It is not scheduled to run much longer, but in a statement Kimmel said Philbin “came to him in a dream” and asked him to do the show with the promise of his own necktie collection.  “I had little choice but to say yes,” Kimmel told the media. I’m glad he did. Check ABC for local broadcasts in May.

The second series that lifted my spirits was “The Last Dance,” a documentary on the legendary Chicago Bulls basketball star, Michael Jordan.
The 10-part series was initially scheduled to air in June during the NBA Finals, but ESPN moved up its release after fans begged for it on social media amid the cancellation of the rest of the NBA season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Those fans, all of them hungry for substantive athlete-focused entertainment and some of them basketball legends themselves, were very satisfied, according to NBC.  I was too!

The Network writes that “The Last Dance” is partially a product of film dating back to 1997, when Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf and head coach Phil Jackson agreed to let an NBA Entertainment film crew follow the team for the season. It features archival footage of the entire span of Jordan’s youth and college career, alongside new interviews with his former teammates, high school and college coaches and former President Barack Obama, whose start in politics in Chicago overlapped with Jordan’s time with the Bulls.

For a few years in the ’90s I worked closely with a Chicago news broadcaster who had moved with her husband to California and continued following her hometown team, introducing me to the power of Jordan’s dominance in basketball. I will never forget it – thanks Sydney Weisman and David Hamlin.  Check ESPN for future listings on May 10 and 17.

I recommend that lovers of great game shows or historic basketball documentaries tune in to both shows this month – it’s a special treat about to disappear!