CBS’ ‘Murphy Brown’ is back, ready to ‘make some noise’
By LYNN ELBER
AP Television Writer
Tuesday, September 25
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Last season’s short-lived “Roseanne” revival blew an air kiss to President Donald Trump in its debut episode before it reverted to finding laughs in family and working-class woes, not politics. Expect “Murphy Brown,” another reborn 20th-century sitcom, to be consistently faithful to its own roots.
Washington tumult, social issues and the role of journalism will be central when the sitcom starring Candice Bergen as a tough TV reporter returns 9:30 p.m. EDT Thursday on CBS, said creator and executive producer Diane English.
The series is “here to make some noise,” English said in an interview, sketching out a few of topics to be featured in the season’s 13 episodes: “We’re doing an immigration episode, we’re doing a midterm-elections episode. We’re doing a Me Too episode,” she said.
The debut half-hour is “so ambitious and so fearless,” Bergen told a TV critics’ news conference. “During the taping, I turned to Joe (Regalbuto, her co-star) at one point and I said, ‘This show has no fear of anyone.’”
In the revival, former network reporter Murphy is now on cable with the frothily titled “Murphy in the Morning.” Along for the ride at the fictitious CNC news channel are her old “FYI” news magazine colleagues, including Regalbuto’s Frank Fontana, Faith Ford’s Corky Sherwood and Grant Shaud’s Miles Silverberg.
Murphy and her colleagues “are trying to present the facts in a straight down the middle way,” English said. “Their show is issue-oriented and facts, with no personal opinion.”
Jake McDorman (“Shameless”) joins the cast as Murphy’s son, Avery, a reporter at the competing and conservative Wolf — ahem — news channel. He’s liberal, but his work outside of the Washington beltway “bubble” has given him an appreciation for different views, English said.
“He has paid attention to the people who feel that they were passed over and he’s their voice, to some degree. The way he creates his own show gives a voice to people that are the forgotten and the people who the elites, in quotes, call ‘the flyovers,’” she said.
An advantage the new series has over the 1988-98 original comes courtesy of technology, with digital recording allowing references to real-world news to be updated close to air, an impossibility in the old era of film.
The original “Murphy Brown” wasn’t shy about intersecting with reality, most notably after the 1992 presidential campaign in which Dan Quayle, vice president to George H.W. Bush, lambasted the unmarried Murphy’s pregnancy as a mockery of fatherhood and a Hollywood raspberry to American morality.
The top-rated, Emmy-winning series fired back in an ongoing tiff that generated headlines and fierce debate — this before the advent of social media and its incendiary effect on anything and everything, and before public distrust of journalism became more entrenched.
English, herself a sparing user of online platforms (she enjoys Instagram and finds it largely friendly, but has harsh words for Facebook) said she’s prepared for backlash.
“I am very aware of the fact that we’re in a different world. But as in the old days, we never really censored ourselves in terms of the kinds of stories we would tell and the positions that we would have characters take,” she said. “So, yeah, we’re in a very divisive climate right now, but we’re still going to be the show that we always were.”
That means topical, funny and, importantly, “no vitriol in the scripts. That’s something I want to keep my antenna up about. And, hopefully, through humor shed some light on some things that any reasonable person, whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or an independent, can find interesting,” she said.
The Louisiana-born Sherwood said she reminds her politically “middle-ish” family back home that the joke is frequently on the show’s imperfect characters.
“We are all flawed as human beings … we all make fun of ourselves, and so the whole point of it is to make people laugh at whatever is going on right now,” Sherwood said.
English, with credits including a 2008 version of Clare Booth Luce’s play (and 1939 film) “The Women,” initially hesitated when Warner Bros. studio executives approach her about bringing it back amid other successful revivals — which included “Roseanne,” until star Roseanne Barr’s racist tweet killed it. (ABC is rolling the dice this season on its spinoff, “The Conners,” minus Barr.)
“When you’ve been on the air for 10 years and people call you an iconic series, do you want to go back and take that risk that you might ruin it or it wouldn’t be as good as it was at one time?” English said.
Watching “Will & Grace” manage a successful comeback piqued her interest, but it was the aftermath of the 2016 election that made the difference.
“I started really thinking seriously about it as things in our country got worse and worse,” she said. “And I thought, ‘You know, all these shows are coming back but ours is the one that has the real reason to come back.’ We are about the press. We always were a politically and culturally relevant show.”
Lynn Elber can be reached at lelberap.org and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber.
Families Pledge to Close Accounts At CHASE and WELLS FARGO For Financing Private Immigrant Detention Facilities
National – On Wednesday, September 26th, moms and children with songs, bubbles, and artwork and will deliver thousands of petitions from around the country to JP Morgan Chase Bank’s corporate headquarters in Columbus, Ohio and New York City, and at the Wells Fargo headquarters in San Francisco. The protests are part of a National Day of Action to call on the banks to stop financing two large for-profit private prison corporations, CoreCivic and GEO Group, which operate immigration detention centers where separated families are being held. Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase are leading financiers of CoreCivic and GEO Group.
In advance of this day of action, families will lead neighborhood #MoveYourMoneyPlaydates at various Chase and Wells Fargo branches throughout the country. Children will accompany their parents delivering pledges to close their accounts unless the banks divest immediately from CoreCivic and GEO Group. They will also sing songs and draw pictures with supportive messages to immigrant children.
The September 26th national day of action with the Families Belong Together coalition is the pinnacle of a weeks-long, nationwide campaign that has seen ordinary citizens planning protests and account closures at their local branches.
“We have to do something,” says Tara Polansky, a mother of 3-year old daughter Alena and a co-organizer of the Columbus action. “I can’t imagine being separated from my daughter. I can’t be silent as this country dehumanizes and cages human beings.”
Protest organizers say that cutting off the debt financing from banks would make it harder for CoreCivic and GEO Group to conduct day-to-day business operations, finance new facilities, and acquire smaller companies, all of which hurt immigrant families. An analysis of U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings over the past ten years shows that Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase have played a leading role in financing these debts. JPMorgan Chase is the single largest financier to GEO Group and CoreCivic, holding 62 percent more debt than the second biggest lender to these two corporations.
The action comes on the heels of the news that the Trump administration has overspent its budget for detention by millions, including $10 million designated for FEMA.
CAPA presents I’M WITH HER
Monday, November 5, 7:30 pm
Southern Theatre (21 E. Main St.)
A band of extraordinary chemistry and exquisite musicianship, I’m With Her features Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan. Collectively, the multi-Grammy Award winners have released seven solo efforts, co-founded two seminal bands (Nickel Creek and Crooked Still), and contributed to critically acclaimed albums from a host of esteemed artists. Now touring in support of their full-length debut album, the emotionally raw and intricate See You Around, I’m With Her builds an ineffable magic from their fine-spun narratives and breathtaking harmonies. Tickets are $35 and $40 at the CAPA Ticket Center (39 E. State St.), all Ticketmaster outlets, and www.ticketmaster.com. To purchase tickets by phone, please call (614) 469-0939 or (800) 745-3000. www.capa.com
Have children? Here’s how kids ruin your romantic relationship
May 5, 2016
Matthew D. Johnson
Chair & Professor of Psychology and Director of the Marriage and Family Studies Laboratory, Binghamton University, State University of New York
Matthew D. Johnson has received funding from the Research Foundation of the State University of New York, the Fahs-Beck Fund for Research and Experimentation, and the American Psychological Association.
Binghamton University, State University of New York provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.
Lots of women look forward to motherhood – getting to know a tiny baby, raising a growing child, developing a relationship with a maturing son or daughter. All over the world, people believe that parenting is the most rewarding part of life. And it’s good that so many mothers treasure that bond with their child, because the transition to parenthood causes profound changes in a woman’s marriage and her overall happiness… and not for the better.
Families usually welcome a baby to the mix with great expectations. But as a mother’s bond with a child grows, it’s likely that her other relationships are deteriorating. I surveyed decades of studies on the psychological effects of having a child to write my book “Great Myths of Intimate Relationships: Dating, Sex, and Marriage,” and here’s what the research literature shows.
Nowhere to go but down?
When people marry, they’re usually in love and happy to be tying the knot. But after that, things tend to change. On average, couples’ satisfaction with their marriage declines during the first years of marriage and, if the decline is particularly steep, divorce may follow. The course of true love runs downhill. And that’s before you factor in what happens when it’s time to start buying a carseat and diapers.
For around 30 years, researchers have studied how having children affects a marriage, and the results are conclusive: the relationship between spouses suffers once kids come along. Comparing couples with and without children, researchers found that the rate of the decline in relationship satisfaction is nearly twice as steep for couples who have children than for childless couples. In the event that a pregnancy is unplanned, the parents experience even greater negative impacts on their relationship.
The irony is that even as the marital satisfaction of new parents declines, the likelihood of them divorcing also declines. So, having children may make you miserable, but you’ll be miserable together.
Worse still, this decrease in marital satisfaction likely leads to a change in general happiness, because the biggest predictor of overall life satisfaction is one’s satisfaction with their spouse.
While the negative marital impact of becoming parents is familiar to fathers and mothers, it is especially insidious because so many young couples think that having children will bring them closer together or at least will not lead to marital distress. Yet, this belief, that having children will improve one’s marriage, is a tenacious and persistent myth among those who are young and in love.
Lovers morph into parents
It seems obvious that adding a baby to a household is going to change its dynamics. And indeed, the arrival of children changes how couples interact. Parents often become more distant and businesslike with each other as they attend to the details of parenting. Mundane basics like keeping kids fed, bathed and clothed take energy, time and resolve. In the effort to keep the family running smoothly, parents discuss carpool pickups and grocery runs, instead of sharing the latest gossip or their thoughts on presidential elections. Questions about one’s day are replaced with questions about whether this diaper looks full.
These changes can be profound. Fundamental identities may shift – from wife to mother, or, at a more intimate level, from lovers to parents. Even in same-sex couples, the arrival of children predicts less relationship satisfaction and sex. Beyond sexual intimacy, new parents tend to stop saying and doing the little things that please their spouses. Flirty texts are replaced with messages that read like a grocery receipt.
With nearly half of all births being to unmarried couples, some parents may think they have gamed the system by skipping the wedding. Not so. The relationship burden of having children is present regardless of marital status, gender orientation or level of income. In addition, the adverse impact of becoming a parent is found in other countries, including those with greater rates of nonmarital parenting and more generous family policies.
Moms bear the brunt
Not surprisingly, it is mothers, not fathers, who bear the heaviest cost of becoming parents. Even when both parents work outside the home and even in marriages in which both spouses describe themselves as sharing the burden of household chores, most parents slide toward gender-stereotypical ways of parenting. Women are more likely to become the “on call” parent, the one who gets up in the night to bring a child a tissue or who’s called by the school nurse.
As part of this pattern, new mothers tend to cut their hours in outside work, which often leads fathers to feel more of the burden of financial responsibility. A common pattern emerges in which dads start spending more time and energy on outside work and moms start doing an increasing percentage of the childcare and housework. Cue the feelings of frustration, guilt and distress for both parents.
New mothers often talk about their social isolation, becoming disconnected from friends and colleagues and how their world feels like it’s shrinking. All of these changes lead to fundamental and long-lasting effects on new mothers’ circle of support, including with their spouses.
The consequences of the relationship strain can be serious. Marital stress is associated with many serious physical health problems as well as symptoms of depression and other mental health problems. The link between psychological and marital problems is strong enough that researchers have found that couples therapy is one of the most effective ways of treating depression and some other mental illnesses.
A light at the end of the tunnel?
If the arrival of children is hard on marriages, is the departure of children good for marriages? Some marriages do improve once the children leave the nest. In other cases, the successful launch of the children leads spouses to discover they have few shared interests and there’s nothing keeping them together.
These downsides to having children may partly explain why more and more women in the United States and around the world are choosing not to procreate. According to the U.S. Census, the percent of childless American women (ages 15-44) increased a staggering amount in just two generations: from 35 percent in 1976 to 47 percent in 2010.
Despite the dismal picture of motherhood painted by researchers like me (sorry Mom), most mothers (and fathers) rate parenting as their greatest joy. Much like childbirth, where nearly all mothers believe the pain and suffering was worth it, most mothers believe the rewards of watching their children grow up is worth the cost to their romantic relationships.
American Medical Association warns of health and safety problems from ‘white’ LED streetlights
June 17, 2016
Richard G. “Bugs” Stevens
Professor, School of Medicine, University of Connecticut
Richard G. “Bugs” Stevens does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
University of Connecticut provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
The American Medical Association (AMA) has just adopted an official policy statement about street lighting: cool it and dim it.
The statement, adopted unanimously at the AMA’s annual meeting in Chicago on June 14, comes in response to the rise of new LED street lighting sweeping the country. An AMA committee issued guidelines on how communities can choose LED streetlights to “minimize potential harmful human health and environmental effects.”
Municipalities are replacing existing streetlights with efficient and long-lasting LEDs to save money on energy and maintenance. Although the streetlights are delivering these benefits, the AMA’s stance reflects how important proper design of new technologies is and the close connection between light and human health.
The AMA’s statement recommends that outdoor lighting at night, particularly street lighting, should have a color temperature of no greater than 3000 Kelvin (K). Color temperature (CT) is a measure of the spectral content of light from a source; how much blue, green, yellow and red there is in it. A higher CT rating generally means greater blue content, and the whiter the light appears.
A white LED at CT 4000K or 5000K contains a high level of short-wavelength blue light; this has been the choice for a number of cities that have recently retrofitted their street lighting such as Seattle and New York.
But in the wake of these installations have been complaints about the harshness of these lights. An extreme example is the city of Davis, California, where the residents demanded a complete replacement of these high color temperature LED street lights.
Can communities have more efficient lighting without causing health and safety problems?
Two problems with LED street lighting
An incandescent bulb has a color temperature of 2400K, which means it contains far less blue and far more yellow and red wavelengths. Before electric light, we burned wood and candles at night; this artificial light has a CT of about 1800K, quite yellow/red and almost no blue. What we have now is very different.
The new “white” LED street lighting which is rapidly being retrofitted in cities throughout the country has two problems, according to the AMA. The first is discomfort and glare. Because LED light is so concentrated and has high blue content, it can cause severe glare, resulting in pupillary constriction in the eyes. Blue light scatters more in the human eye than the longer wavelengths of yellow and red, and sufficient levels can damage the retina. This can cause problems seeing clearly for safe driving or walking at night.
You can sense this easily if you look directly into one of the control lights on your new washing machine or other appliance: it is very difficult to do because it hurts. Street lighting can have this same effect, especially if its blue content is high and there is not appropriate shielding.
The other issue addressed by the AMA statement is the impact on human circadian rhythmicity.
Color temperature reliably predicts spectral content of light – that is, how much of each wavelength is present. It’s designed specifically for light that comes off the tungsten filament of an incandescent bulb.
However, the CT rating does not reliably measure color from fluorescent and LED lights.
Another system for measuring light color for these sources is called correlated color temperature (CCT). It adjusts the spectral content of the light source to the color sensitivity of human vision. Using this rating, two different 3000K light sources could have fairly large differences in blue light content.
Therefore, the AMA’s recommendation for CCT below 3000K is not quite enough to be sure that blue light is minimized. The actual spectral irradiance of the LED – the relative amounts of each of the colors produced – should be considered, as well.
The reason lighting matters
The AMA policy statement is particularly timely because the new World Atlas of Artificial Night Sky Brightness just appeared last week, and street lighting is an important component of light pollution. According to the AMA statement, one of the considerations of lighting the night is its impact on human health.
In previous articles for The Conversation, I have described how lighting affects our normal circadian physiology, how this could lead to some serious health consequences and most recently how lighting the night affects sleep.
In the case of white LED light, it is estimated to be five times more effective at suppressing melatonin at night than the high pressure sodium lamps (given the same light output) which have been the mainstay of street lighting for decades. Melatonin suppression is a marker of circadian disruption, which includes disrupted sleep.
Bright electric lighting can also adversely affect wildlife by, for example, disturbing migratory patterns of birds and some aquatic animals which nest on shore.
Street lighting and human health
The AMA has made three recommendations in its new policy statement:
First, the AMA supports a “proper conversion to community based Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting, which reduces energy consumption and decreases the use of fossil fuels.”
Second, the AMA “encourage[s] minimizing and controlling blue-rich environmental lighting by using the lowest emission of blue light possible to reduce glare.”
Third, the AMA “encourage[s] the use of 3000K or lower lighting for outdoor installations such as roadways. All LED lighting should be properly shielded to minimize glare and detrimental human and environmental effects, and consideration should be given to utilize the ability of LED lighting to be dimmed for off-peak time periods.”
There is almost never a completely satisfactory solution to a complex problem. We must have lighting at night, not only in our homes and businesses, but also outdoors on our streets. The need for energy efficiency is serious, but so too is minimizing human risk from bad lighting, both due to glare and to circadian disruption. LED technology can optimize both when properly designed.