I enjoyed reading the story of Tom Dreesen and Tim Reid, who met at a Jaycees meeting outside Chicago in 1968 and struggled to break through as a black-and-white comedy team. They played in some truly awful clubs and didn't hit it big until each went their own way — Reid into acting (notably as Venus Flytrap on "WKRP in Cincinnati") and directing, Dreesen to be a regular on "The Tonight Show" and David Letterman and years as the opener for Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra. The book was written by Ron Rapoport, the longtime L.A. and Chicago sports columnist. He lives here now but is featured in a piece in this week's Chicago Reader. "Back then you couldn’t have a black man and a white man onstage without going through all these stages—physical violence to racial heckling to liberals being uncomfortable. It was too weird," Rapoport says of Tim and Tom, as the act was known.
Add Rapoport: In the Reader story by Michael Miner, Rapoport tries to explain to Chicago why Angelenos are driven nutso by the mumblings of Sam Zell and his so-called innovation guide, Lee Abrams:
“The [L.A.] Times has a different relationship with the community than the Chicago papers do,” he says. The Times “is considered to be really a part of the political and cultural fabric of the city in a way I don’t think the Trib is. It occupies a higher place. There isn’t much that unifies Los Angeles the way the Cubs and Bears do in Chicago. Los Angeles is more amorphous, it’s bigger, it’s harder to get around in, the various parts don’t relate—that’s a big difference. One of the things that does unify Los Angeles is the Times. One of the things that does reach into all areas is the Times. And people are taking its downsizing, its degrading, what they perceive as a lessening of its commitment, very hard.
“And the swaggering attitude of Zell and Abrams is just not going over well here.”
The story also goes into the panel discussion on the Times that I was part of last month at the Central Library's Aloud series.