Friday, August 31, 2012

WB calls Confederate flag removal reports 'inaccurate'

In a seeming reversal of an earlier decision to remove the Confederate flag from the General Lee on future toys and other items (such as a rumored new TV series), a Warner Bros. spokesperson told NBC's "Today" show yesterday, "We were not, and are not, planning to change the design of the General Lee on merchandise.  All reports to the contrary have been inaccurate."

In the meantime, of course, since the news broke a few days ago, thousands of fans of "The Dukes of Hazzard" have spoken out, all across the Internet, about the (apparent) earlier decision to remove the flag. It seems the root of this "news" came from a post on the message board, apparently from a toy company spokesman. But as you dig into the details, you have to wonder ... was this all just rumor? Or maybe where there's smoke, there's fire? We'll let y'all decide that for yourselves!

Ben ("Cooter Davenport") Jones, who spoke out about the news a couple days ago (see the full, unedited text of his statement in our Wednesday post), is claiming victory for the Hazzard Nation. "This is not only a victory for those who love the show," he told fans in an email blast early this morning, "but a victory for the voice of the people, and in my opinion, a victory for mutual respect among people of different ethnicities and backgrounds. We should now be gracious and thank the folks at Warner Bros. for changing this misguided policy. Perhaps they will listen to the fans when they produce 'Dukes, The Next Generation'! Wouldn’t that be great?"

Indeed. Jones shared that idea of his with BRBTV in an interview for our reference guide "Them Dukes! Them Dukes!", an idea he pitched to WB years ago. With the reboot and next-generation approach of "Dallas" now so successful, perhaps WB is taking note ...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ben Jones speaks out on WB's decision to remove the Confederate flag from the General Lee

Ben ("Cooter Davenport") Jones of "The Dukes of Hazzard" has never been afraid to speak his mind over the years about issues pertaining to the TV show that made him a star. And with his subsequent political career, it only makes sense that he voice an opinion about political issues. The latest is the decision by Warner Bros. to remove the Confederate flag from the roof of the beloved General Lee car, which, as he argues, is basically the most famous TV car there is. The decision pertains to future usage of the car, such as in toys, not retro stuff (not the episodes themselves, evidently!).

Many fans have already weighed in at the above link. In an email blast sent out to fans early this morning with the subject line "DUKES OF HAZZARD’S “COOTER” BLASTS 'P.C. IDIOCY' AT WARNER BROS. TV," Jones says this ...


Since 1978, when filming started for “The Dukes of Hazzard” television series, Warner Bros. Television and its licensees have earned hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, of dollars from the ongoing success and enduring popularity of this old fashioned family show. The show’s timeless look and charm continues to find a new audience as youngsters discover the show’s good clean fun and their parents appreciate the wholesome values the show espouses. The good guys win, the bad guys get their comeuppance, nobody gets hurt, and a good time is had by all. And by “all”, I mean “all”, regardless of race, color, religion, or ethnicity. Hazzard County is a “hate-free” zone.

Now, over 33 years since the show premiered on CBS-TV on Friday nights, Warner Bros. has issued a new and terribly insulting attack on the South, a region and a culture which Hollywood has trashed for decades.

“With stupidity,” said Friedrich Schiller, “the Gods themselves struggle in vain.” He must have been talking about the decision makers at WB. In a fit of political correctness, the company has dictated that no longer will the “General Lee” have a Confederate Flag on its roof. (For the culturally deprived, the “General Lee” is a 1969 Dodge Charger, perhaps the most popular car in the history of entertainment.) Some unnamed genius at the company feels that the flag is “offensive to some” and therefore it has no business on a classic t.v. comedy about a bunch of good ol’ boys and girls in the Southern mountains. This is a new level of “P.C.” idiocy. I don’t know about you, but I am tired of being insulted by morons.

Now, here is “the flaw in that slaw”, as Rosco P. Coltrane used to say. First of all, because of seven seasons on prime-time and through countless reruns, syndication, hit cable runs, VHS sets, video games, reunion movies, a feature film, tivo, international viewings, youtube, websites, and a very popular DVD series, the General is always going to have a flag on its top. Tens of millions of earthlings have seen it repeatedly for decades. And when it isn’t there, the obvious question will be “where is it?”, followed by, “that’s not the General!”

Secondly, the presumption that the show’s millions of minority viewers are put off by the flag belies the fact that African Americans, especially in the South, watched (and still watch) the show faithfully. As a producer of Dukes fan events, I can assure you that this is so.

Thirdly, the timing of this announcement is mind boggling. We are now in the Sesquicentennial Commemoration of the American Civil War. It is a time for reflection and reassessment, and I have seen descendants of both sides of that struggle reverently honor the effort and sacrifice of both armies. To insult the lasting symbol of the Southern soldier is itself a divisive and, well, bigoted act. This is not “offensive to some”. It is “offensive to many”, myself included.

I made a decision when I was a kid that I “would live and die in Dixie” and do what I could to end segregation, discrimination, and “white supremacy”. In that effort, I was shot at, sucker punched, threatened repeatedly, and jailed several times. But, just like in the “Dukes of Hazzard”, the good guys won.  Dr. King was a proud Southerner, and he believed that the most important bridge to be built was between working black folks and the working white folks who opposed them. That South is slowly evolving, but it won’t fully become reality as long as corporate types, caving to political pressure, gratuitously insult the descendants of the Confederacy, who are as patriotic as Americans can be.

Symbols have different meanings for different people at different times. Whenever a group of organized bigots get together, mostly up North, they always seem to desecrate the Confederate St. Andrews Cross, the Christian Cross, and Old Glory. They are a pitiful handful of life’s losers, who seem, however, to attract every network camera within miles. Those creeps even give bed sheets a bad name. And as a proud Member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, I am not going to let their actions destroy the reputation of my ancestors. And for the record, I am also an Honorary Life Member of the N.A.A.C.P.

Ben Jones
Washington, VA


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Star Wars Celebration VI: Droids, Darths and other delights

Another Star Wars Celebration is over, and it was four days jam-packed with all kinds of intergalactic goodies at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. BRBTV offers another photographic glimpse to follow up Thursday's post.

Temuera Morrison, who portrayed Janga Fett (father of Boba Fett) in the prequel trilogy, spoke with fans during a Q&A session on Friday.

The English-born Anthony Daniels played protocol droid C-3PO throughout all six movies, as well as in other "Star Wars" incarnations such as video games and the "Clone Wars" animated TV show. Daniels spent time with fans on Friday afternoon, even inviting a few on-stage to answer audience questions about "Star Wars." He had a little extra fun with a fan named Danny in a C-3PO costume.

Steve Sansweet has an amazing collection of "Star Wars" memorabilia, a slice of which was part of a special display at Celebration VI. His Rancho Obi-Wan is open to tour.

A costume masquerade on Saturday afternoon featured Savage Opress, above, Mother Tousand, below, and a ton of other "SW" characters, all competing for awards and many whose costumes reflected months or even years of work.

BRB's friend Andrea Melchiori of Kalamazoo, Michigan, entered the contest as the Fem Vader! Look for video of the Fem Vader, as well as Anthony Daniels and other sights and sounds of the event, on the BRBTV YouTube channel soon.


Look out -- there's that Fem Vader again, this time menacing an AT-AT Imperial Walker. Andrea says it took about a year to piece her costume together. Her inspiration for it? "I wanted to do a Darth Vader costume, but I didn't have my costume tweaked enough that I could join the local garrison (501st Legion). A garrison member suggested I do a Fem Vader. That was about a month before last year's DragonCon in Atlanta." Celebration VI marks the second time she's worn the costume at an event, and she's got a few more tweaks she's going to make to it.

Photos by Billie Rae Bates / BRBTV
Copying with credit is OK; a link would be grand

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The view from Star Wars Celebration IV

The sixth Star Wars Celebration is happening this weekend in Orlando, Florida, and BRBTV is there, media pass in hand (well, really, on neck) and happily drinking in the sights and sounds. How about some photo coverage of Day 1! Well, sure ...

R2-D2 and all his friends, R4 included, were out in full force, and one room at the Orange County Convention Center was even devoted to the astromech droids and those who build them.

Jedi training for "younglings" happens several times a day throughout the weekend!

We even got a glimpse of one of the stars of the TV shows covered by BRBTV ... well, at least an action figure of one! Check out the latest figure of Lando Calrissian, as played by Billy Dee Williams, our own Brady Lloyd of "Dynasty." Below, another slice of the memorabilia to be had on the vast convention floor, which you just can't cover in one day. Fans can even behold -- and purchase -- props used in the production of the six movies.

BRB's fave "Star Wars" characters are Anakin Skywalker and Darth Maul, but her favorite "things" or creatures, if you will are the Boga lizard and the At-At Walker, above. Sheer delight!

Almost thawed out, she is, from that snowy encounter with the At-At. And below, another chance encounter, this time with her delicious Darth Maul ...

Actor Ian McDiarmid, whom "Star Wars" fans know so well as Senator Palpatine / the Emperor, appeared this evening to an immensely packed house in one of the venue's theaters. He talked about some of the scenes in the movies, such as the opera scene with Hayden Christensen (and what influenced the particular way he was talking in that scene!), and he told the story of first meeting George Lucas and how Lucas' compliment of "nice nose" came to mean so much!

On to Day 2 tomorrow! Look for video coverage of the event on the BRBTV YouTube channel soon.

Photos by Billie Rae Bates / BRBTV
Copying with credit is OK; a link would be grand

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Steve Geppi talks with BRB about his business and his life's work on an upcoming episode of "Fantastic Forum"

BRBTV founder Billie Rae Bates continues her work for the Washington, D.C.-based "Fantastic Forum" TV show, and the show's producer, Ulysses Campbell, keeps giving her clips she can be proud of. Below is the latest of her interviews for the show, with Steve Geppi, owner of Diamond Distributors, an interview we gave you the heads-up on in our July 22 post.

In this interview, which will be featured in an upcoming episode of the show, Geppi talks about how he built up his companies, how he compiled that amazing pop-cultural memorabilia collection on display at Geppi's Entertainment Museum, and what fascinates him so much about his hometown of Baltimore.

Keep your eye on the "Fantastic Forum" website for more goodies, and remember you can catch the show in all kinds of places:

  • Washington, D.C., on DCTV Comcast channels 95 and 96 and RCN channels 10 and 11 and Verizon FIOS 10.
  • Montgomery County, MD, on Montgomery Community Media (MCM-TV) Comcast channel 21.
  • Fairfax County, VA, on Fairfax Cable Access (FPA-TV) Cox channel 10.
  • Arlington County, VA, on Arlington Independent Media (AIM) on Comcast channel 69 and Verizon FIOS 38.
  • Prince George's County, MD, on Prince George's Community Television (CTV) Comcast channel 76 and Verizon FIOS 42.
  • Baltimore City, MD, on Community Media of Baltimore (CMBC) Comcast channel 75. 
  • YouTube, NCC1727 channel
  • Vimeo, Ulysses Campbell's channel
  • And the episodes are now even featured on Daily Motion!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hazzard Homecoming finishes well

The dust has settled, and it's back to the reality of the workweek for most of us. But we've got some fond memories of this past weekend's Hazzard Homecoming at the Ben Venue Racecourse in Washington, Virginia (or Amissville, depending on how ya look at it!). The event, hosted by Ben Jones of "The Dukes of Hazzard" and his wife, Alma Viator, featured the core cast, as we showed you on Saturday, as well as a heapin' helpin' of live country and bluegrass music, games for the kids, fattening festival food (ask us about the deep-fried Oreos that were rather divine despite about a 45-minute wait to get 'em!), BMX stunts, General Lee jumps, a car display, live pro wrestling in the ring, and more.

Here are a few additional images to remember the weekend by, including a real money shot of the cast posing for some photos behind the stage after performing on Sunday evening (they were still looking for Sonny Shroyer, though) ...

From left: Ben ("Cooter Davenport") Jones, Tom ("Luke Duke") Wopat, Catherine ("Daisy Duke") Bach, John ("Bo Duke") Schneider, James ("Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane") Best, Rick ("Deputy Cletus Hogg") Hurst.

We've got a whole big mess of video we shot from the weekend with the new BRBTV HD camera; watch this blog and our YouTube channel for that ...

Photos by Billie Rae Bates / BRBTV
Copy only with credit, please

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Hazzard Homecoming: How about a yeeeeee-haaaaaa for Day 1

It was certainly sunny. And it was hot -- though there was a cool breeze blowing through now and then and not a drop of rain all day. But more than that, at the Ben Venue Racecourse in Washington, Virginia, it was a testament to the fact that when Ben and Miss Alma throw a party, people show up. Just as many as the jam-packed first Hazzard Homecoming in 2011, by our accounts.

The second Hazzard Homecoming, moving its location from last year's venue a few miles down the road, boasted a rousing success for its first day today, as thousands of fans flowed in from all over, waiting in looooooonnnng lines for items signed by the cast members, listening to good ole country music on the stage, eating a funnel cake or two, beholding a bunch of General Lees and other beautiful cars, and just all-around taking in the awesome sights.

BRBTV was there, as you see here! Billie Rae Bates and Will ("The Voice Man") Rodgers strolled the grounds (and Will even made it up to the stage for a minute to do a "Dukes" voice or two) and had a fab time. Will was particularly impressed at the dedication of the cast, who made sure fans knew they were appreciated. Indeed, BRB witnessed Tom Wopat's particularly tender spirit with the kids of all varieties who made the trek through his line, and Will saw Catherine Bach wait until every fan was served, even while the stunt show was going on across the field.

"I don't know of many stars who will do that," Will says. "They were willing to stay and make sure that every fan that waited in  line to see them was taken care of, regardless of how tired they were at the end."

The event, hosted by Ben ("Cooter Davenport") Jones and his wife Alma Viator, was a grand reunion of the core cast, with this first half of the weekend punctuated in the evening by their appearance on-stage, performing (you guessed it) the "Dukes of Hazzard" theme song and other faves. Look for video of all that great stuff on the BRBTV YouTube channel soon.

Besides the star power, the event showed some muscle in its cars, the stage acts it served up, and other fun stuff you just have to walk around to see (we wanted to get those Civil War guys shooting off the muskets -- maybe tomorrow!).

Photos by Billie Rae Bates / BRBTV 
Copying with credit is OK; a link would be grand

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Byron Cherry has some movie projects in the works

Our buddy Byron ("Coy Duke") Cherry has got his star shining brightly lately, out and about at events like the Louisiana "Dukes of Hazzard" reunion we mentioned earlier this week, and being featured in places like PowerBlock TV / magazine and Mopar Muscle magazine. Now he's got some screen stuff going on, too.

According to his official website, Cherry will be appearing in the movie "Ring of the Fallen," starring Anthony Hopkins, Bruce Willis, Danny Glover, and The Rock! Byron is cast as Deputy Ralley. Also look for Byron in a new film called "Dragon Child," which was scheduled to shoot this year.

By the way, Cherry is donating his personal General Lee to the Tim Welborne Muscle Car Museum; see the video at

By the way, we're heading to the Hazzard Homecoming this weekend, so look for our standard fun-filled coverage of the event on this blog next week!

Monday, August 06, 2012

Louisiana "Dukes" event plans to serve up the full surviving cast

Any year with a big "Dukes of Hazzard" event like this weekend's Hazzard Homecoming is a good "Dukes" year, we know. And we do have the benefit of the episodes currently being on the air again, on CMT, after all. But throw in the Galax event a few weeks back, plus another blockbuster event with cast members showing up, and it's a really big "Dukes" year.

In fact, the Dukes of Hazzard Family Reunion and Car Show in Livingston Parish, Louisiana, in September has a whole lot of reason to boast. They're not just featuring cast members -- they're offering up the complete surviving cast. BRBTV has nothing but a robust round of applause for show organizers who have the respect to invite all of the cast (as, we might add, John Schneider was gracious enough to do with his Dukesfest in Atlanta a few years back). So here it is, the glorious roundup:
John Schneider (Bo Duke)
Catherine Bach (Daisy Duke)
Tom Wopat (Luke Duke)
Byron Cherry (Coy Duke)
James Best (Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane)
Sonny Shroyer (Deputy Enos Strate)
Don Pedro Colley (Sheriff Ed Little)
Ben Jones (Cooter Davenport)
Rick Hurst (Deputy Cletus Hogg)

And it's a free event? Wow. This truly is Hazzard County. And if that wasn't enough to convince you, one of the show organizers is Jim Hogg.

The event takes place on Saturday, September 29, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Henderson Auctions on Highway190 west of Livingston, Louisiana. Keep an eye on it at this Facebook page.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Announcing the BRBTV Report on "Justice League"

We did a report on "Batman: The Animated Series." Then we did a report on "The New Batman Adventures." Then it was "Batman Beyond," then even "Superman: The Animated Series." Bruce Timm, Alan Burnett, Glen Murakami, James Tucker and crew didn't stop making these shows, so you didn't expect us to stop watching 'em and reporting on 'em, now didya?

Brand new from BRBTV is the "Justice League" report, covering all five seasons of this fabulous animated series, from its 2001 debut through its evolution to "Justice League Unlimited." Talented writer Will Rodgers steps in again for this one, bringing his keen grasp of detail and offering comprehensive analysis and commentary you won't find anywhere else. Rodgers has the credentials: Take his "Ultimate Super Friends" site, for instance. He lends that expertise on these various assembled DC superheroes to the new "JL" Report, giving a full background of the creation of the show as well as a (long!) synopsis and commentary on each and every episode. This Kindle document is a whopper -- the equivalent of 300 letter-sized pages, and our biggest in the BRBTV Reports series so far!!!!

"Justice League: A BRBTV Report (BRBTV Reports)" is No. 12 in our series of BRBTV Reports, and it's part of a four-product-release year. So stay tuned ... the other three aren't too far behind ... and one's even going to be a new installment in our print book series ...