Ted Turner helped shape who I am
Yes, that Ted Turner and no I've never met the man and I don't know the man personally.
A couple of days ago I was thinking about who I am as a person. I’m normal, yet strange. I feel like I am a fair mix of both of my parents, with a dash of my grandparents and a few quirks of my own. If I sat down and described myself to you, I would do so with a list of my favorite things.
I would say, my name is Nikki and here is a short list of my all-time favorite things (not including my family and friends and all the dogs in the world), classic movies, baseball, the Three Stooges, Saved by the Bell, Paul Simon, and Robert Redford. There is so much more to me, but this is the list I would give. I feel this list of random things says a lot about who I am as a person. As a classic film lover, I would say that I am ‘old school’ and ‘classic.’ I think baseball says that I’m romantic and low maintenance, give me a hot dog, and a game and I’m set for hours. My love of all things Larry, Curly and Moe, says that I have a sense of humor-maybe, not sophisticated humor, but I love to laugh. Finally, my love of Saved by the Bell would tell you that I am corny. I’m sure there are a thousand different ways of looking at how each of these random insignificant things shapes me as a person, but they did.
When I think of who I am now and compare it to how I grew up, there is one significant connection, and that connection is a 78-year-old man from Ohio.
Ted Turner, ‘Terrible Ted,’ ‘The Mouth of the South,’ or that guy who started CNN, has had more of an influence on my life than I could have ever imagined. Up until recently, I knew very little about the man. I remember him being married to Jane Fonda and I knew he is the all mighty Turner in Turner Classic Movies, but other than that I knew very little.
During a CNN series about the 1980’s, I learned more about Turner and all of the things he dabbles in. In 1976 Turner Broadcasting Systems (TBS) became the nation’s first ‘superstation’ using satellite technology to go nationwide. In the early 90’s TBS, channel five to those who had it in Dawson around that time played babysitter to two little girls.
At 4:00 p.m. every weekday, TBS played a good two hours of Saved by the Bell. The stupid, yet loveable show of my youth could always be found on any station. Zach Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) was my first huge crush. Until the day I got married, I was confident I would someday marry Zack Morris. I learned several life lessons from the thousands of hours of watching this show. I learned not to drink and drive, not to try to hire an actor to trick my school principal, and most importantly, I learned not to give up on someone you love. All such cheesy life lessons that I laugh about today, but back then-it was intense stuff. Saved by the Bell was my religion and for years nothing else mattered. The evil Ted Turner would often interrupt my religion with baseball.
The Atlanta Braves are the first baseball team I can remember watching. My intense hate slowly turned to love as I couldn’t look away from their outfielder David Justice. Let’s face it, the man isn’t Bo Jackson or Derek Jeter, but he was good enough to hold my attention. I understood baseball and what he was doing. I loved Dan Marino and Troy Aikman, but I didn’t and still don’t quite understand their sport. My wild love affair with baseball began and stuck thanks to that evil Ted Turner interrupting my show.
My favorite thing about TBS was the 24-hour marathons they would often have. Saved by the Bell and The Three Stooges were the often the subject of those marathons. My sister and I would try to stay up to watch all night as we used the VCR to tape our shows to watch again day after day. We had no Three Stooges collection, just our treasured TBS marathon tapes. My grandpa Alexander usually played host to these events and would join us for as much Three Stooges as he could handle. My love for Larry, Curly and Moe runs as deep as my love for classic movies. It reminds me of my sister, grandpa and I curled up on the couch laughing until we cried.
In 1980 Turner launched CNN, the first 24-hour news network. It isn’t listed in my favorite things, but I love the news, especially during an election year. CNN and I go way back to the 2000 election when my beloved Al Gore ran against President George Bush. I spent hours, days and weeks attached to CNN. That was during a rough period of my adolescence, so it was a good distraction for me. Again, Turner pulls through for this girl.
In 1985 Ted Turner acquired MGM-UA Entertainment, including its library of thousands of classic films. Nearly ten years later Turner Classic Movies is launched. What can I say about my biggest love? The people who I have met because of the films are shown on this network have changed my life for the better. When I first started getting deeper into black and white films, I would go and search the internet for my favorite films or stars. That led me to groups devoted to specific movies or actors, which led me to the people. I have had so much fun with these people. They have encouraged me to come out of my shell a bit. I have been invited to write for magazines, blogs, and other publications, as well as do radio interviews about certain topics and panel discussions. I have also met several people in our area who share my love and who come visit me to talk about it. I would say that people who devote so much of their time to old movies are a bit guarded and quiet, I know I am, but when we get around each other, you can’t shut us up. I am again preparing for another trip to Hollywood for the TCM Film Festival. It is something that I look so forward to. It’s not the just films, but the people, my people. I wouldn’t trade the amount of time I have spent watching and learning about old movies for anything. It’s a love, a passion that runs deep-it’s a big part of who I am.
In 1992 The Cartoon Network went on air and, my grandpa spent hours with my sister and I watching the classics. Back then they showed ‘The Flintstone’s,’ ‘Top Cat,’ ‘The Jetson’s,’ and ‘Wait till Your Father Gets Home.’
Who would have thought that so much of what I love has been made so easily accessible thanks to a billionaire philanthropist? Thanks for everything Ted, even Ted’s Montana Grill and especially for bailing on the plan to colorize old black and white movie-you almost lost me there.