Remembering Dick Clark

Bill Ritter's daily take on the news.

April 18, 2012 1:41:07 PM PDT
He brought rock 'n roll into our living rooms. And in the process he introduced rock - and dancing - to kids who watched it on TV, not just heard it on the radio, or on record players. (That's what we called them back in the stone age.)

American Bandstand was must-see TV before the term was invented.

The early rockers - many of whom hailed from Philadelphia, where the show was - flocked to American Bandstand, broadcast on ABC. Dick Clark became to rock what Ed Sullivan was to comedians and jugglers.

AB, as the show was slugged, spawned a series of local, non-affiliated spin-offs. I was one of those teens who showed up, dancing with school friends on a show called 9th Street West in Los Angeles. It was fun - but in the back of all of our minds we knew - it wasn't American Bandstand.

And no matter how many years passed by, Clark seemed ageless. He let himself be billed as the world's oldest teenager. And the moniker stuck - until the mid 2000's when he suffered a stroke, and the avalanche of age suddenly seemed to take its toll.

He bravely - sometimes uncomfortably - stayed with his trademark "Rockin' Eve" celebrations on ABC, as Dec. 31 became Jan. 1 - but he wasn't the same.

Last night he entered a hospital in Los Angeles for an outpatient procedure, and had a heart attack. And he died, at 82.

Tonight at 11, we look back at Dick Clark's remarkable career - and the business empire he built.

There's a scene in "The Sting" where Robert Redford hooks up with a waitress. It seems like an innocent affair - until the next morning, when she tries to kill him.

Turns out the waitress was no waitress - she was a paid assassin for the mob, and their hook up was no accident.

It's not the first time romance has been a ruse for something sinister; it's a recurring narrative throughout history.

But I've been thinking of that Redford scene as the Secret Service scandal has been unfolding. You know the basics: Secret Service agents, in Colombia for the President's summit, and some military members, meet some prostitutes (the women insist they were escorts), consume a couple of bottles of vodka, then bring the women back to their hotel rooms. The next morning, the hotel rings up the rooms and reminds the prostitutes - er, sorry, escorts - that the rules of the hotel require that hookers leave the premises in the morning.

And that's when the fireworks started, because one agent, apparently not 100 percent pleased with his night, offers the woman the equivalent of $30 instead of the $800 she had asked for the night before. She gets angry, starts banging on doors, waking another agent and the escort he was with - and before you know it, she's making a federal case out of it.

Only no one knew these were feds. Not the hotel security guards who rush up, not the local cops who show up, not the escorts.

That secret stayed secret for a few hours. And then all hell broke loose.

It's a tremendous tabloid story. But far more importantly, it's a tremendous lack of judgment and breach of security by an agency that's supposed to put judgment and security above all else.

Many in the media like to say it's the most embarrassing episode in Secret Service history, but, as our avidly accurate viewer Martin Schwartz points out, that horrible distinction belongs to the assassination of JFK.

Nonetheless, the "what if?" parts of this story are never ending. And the agents who jeopardized so many things hopefully, in the end, didn't end up jeopardizing anything other than their careers. Which they most certainly have done.

We'll have the latest on the scandal, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, we'll take a closer look at a proposal to let livery cab drivers arm themselves. Really. What's your take on that notion?

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho (in for Sade Baderinwa) and me, tonight at 11.


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