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 Post subject: Ernie Kovacs quote
PostPosted: Wed Feb 26, 2003 5:29 pm 
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I am finding it impossible to find a source for this quip:

Television - a medium. So called because it is neither rare nor well-done.
~attributed to Ernie Kovacs
http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes.ph ... e%20Kovacs

also seen as:

"Television is often called a medium because it's so rarely well done."
~attributed to Ernie Kovacs
http://users.rcn.com/manaben/kovacs.html

Kovacs did not appear to be critical of television. Even this webpage of fairly well-sourced quotations says the Kovacs quote is [source unknown]
http://www.terramedia.co.uk/quotations/Quotes_K.htm
In fact, this webpage states:
"attributed to both Fred Allen and Ernie Kovacs"
http://www.khm.de/~davidl/blalab/d3/db506t90.htm

Kovacs said this in an interview:

I do not say that because what is done in television - it can be done in the theater or on the stage is wrong. I say that my particular affinity for the medium is to make it an electronic one and to use this particular medium for its own intrinsic value and approach. But I don't put it above-nor do I put it below-other forms of comedy. This happens to be mine.
~Ernie Kovacs, in "Interview with Ernie Kovacs"
"The Lively Arts" CBC-TV (Canada) airdate 10-31-61
interviewer is Bill Bellman
http://users.rcn.com/manaben/Kovacs/CBC.html

Even though this quote is widely attributed to Kovacs, I'm having my doubts that he originated it, or even ever said it at all. But, if someone knows a source for it, I'd be happy to be wrong about it.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 26, 2003 11:06 pm 
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This is a pretty early one in my collection. This means (a) I don't have a record of where I got it, and (b) there's a good chance 90% of the web pages out there copied it from this site.

I'll mark it (attributed) for now and see if I can find out where it came from...

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2003 5:33 pm 
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Well, I've made up my mind that it is Fred Allen's line and not Kovacs.
I know all I have is the Internet as a resource, but my digging reveals that Allen resisted the advent of Television and was critical of it, and that Kovacs embraced the medium and was supportive of it.
And then I found this citing for it:

Television is a new medium. It's called a medium because nothing is well-done.
~Fred Allen on the American radio programme, The Big Show, December 17th 1950
http://www.bvws.org.uk/405alive/info/quotes.html

When Fred Allen was asked what he thought of television, he said he didn't like furniture that talked. He also said television was called a medium because "nothing on it is ever well done." Allen dismissed TV as permitting "people who haven't anything to do to watch people who can't do anything."
~ Clayland H. Waite
http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/A/htm ... enfred.htm

Television is a medium because anything well done is rare.
~Fred Allen
http://www.tienneti.com/archivio.asp?page=29


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2003 10:59 pm 
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OK, corrected. I can't find any confirmation but it sounds more like Fred Allen to me...

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2003 12:18 pm 
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Great. It's funny how I just get all over a quote sometimes.
I forgot to mention another attribution for the line:

Jane and I got mixed up with a television show--or as we call it back east
here: TV--a clever contraction derived from the words Terrible Vaudeville.
However, it is our latest medium--we call it a medium because nothing's
well done. It was discovered, I suppose you've heard, by a man named
Fulton Berle, and it has already revolutionized social grace by cutting
down parlour conversation to two sentences: "What's on television?" and
"Good night."
~ Goodman Ace (1899-1982) Letter to Groucho Marx (1954), quoted in The Groucho Letters (1967) p. 114

But I still believe that Fred Allen is the originator.


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