A Year in TV Guide: May 20th, 1989

A Year in TV Guide: 1989 is a year-long project to review all 52 issues of TV Guide magazine published during 1989. Every week, I’ll share my thoughts about the issue of TV Guide published exactly 30 years earlier. My goal is to examine what was written about television three decades ago while highlighting the short-lived and forgotten TV shows on network television during 1989.

Week #20
May 20th, 1989
Vol. 37, No. 20, Issue #1886
Dayton Edition

On the Cover: Roseanne Barr, by Timothy White

  • Scan of the front cover to the May 20th, 1989 issue of TV Guide magazine
    Cover to the May 20th, 1989 issue of TV Guide | Copyright 1989 Triangle Publications, Inc.

The Magazine


This week’s issue includes seven articles:

  • Behind Roseanne’s Backstage Battles
  • Roxana Zal, by Josh Greenfeld
  • My Son was Kidnapped for Seven Years, by Kay Stayner as told to Jane Marion
  • What Happens When Child Actors Return to School, by Robert Waldron
  • This Week: “The Thin Blue Line” by Doug Hill
  • Is TV news Guilty of Japan Bashing? by Edwin Diamond and Katryna O’Neill
  • After Becoming Miss Universe, by Jeannine Kerwin Tree

Perhaps the most intriguing thing about the cover article discussing Roseanne Barr’s troubles on the set of Roseanne is the simple fact that there’s no byline. No author is listed in the table of contents or anywhere in the article. Barr refused to comment, as did several others mentioned in the article. A few members of the crew went on the record while a handful of unnamed “insiders” provide quotes or details about Barr walking off set and her confrontations with Matt Williams, who created the show and served as executive producer until leaving halfway through the first season. Director Ellen Falcon also departed and the changes reportedly made for a happier, calmer set.

The article about child actors having problems when they return to school is interesting. It can’t be easy for teenagers to transition from television to school and back again. “You’re used to being treated like an adult on the set,” David Faustino explains, “so when you go back to school, it’s hard being treated like a kid again. You’re not used to teachers telling you what to do.” Other issues include threats of violence, trying to figure out which friends are true friends, and not being able to play sports due to lack of time.

Although I read the article about how TV news covers Japan, it didn’t make much of an impact on me. I imagine readers in 1989, having watched network and cable news during the 1980s, were able to judge for themselves how coverage of Emperor Hirohito’s funeral in January 1989 compared to earlier reporting on Japan.

I skipped the articles about Steven Stayner and Randall Dale Adams, timed to coincide with an NBC made-for-TV movie and a PBS documentary, respectively. There’s also a profile of Roxana Zal and a half-page article about how life turned out for several Miss Universe winners.


Robert MacKenzie reviews B.L. Stryker, which he considers a smart career move for Burt Reynolds. “Stryker is the same likeable rogue Reynolds has always played,” he explains, “but with a few more aches in the back and stones in the heart. He still wisecracks, but now with melancholy overtones. This is all smart thinking on somebody’s part; Reynold’s gift is for being natural on camera.” The show is not perfect, however. MacKenzie points out plot holes and “murky photography” not suitable for TV screens. He does love the theme song, however.

TV Guide Insider

[TV Guide Insider includes the following features: Grapevine, Soaps, Sports View, Video Cassette Report, and Cheers ‘n’ Jeers.]

Lawrence Eisenberg’s Grapevine includes tidbits about Dixie Carter’s plans to become more eccentric with age, Dana Carvey’s messy office, Brian Keith’s irascibility, and more. Alan Carter shares stories about Lauren Koslow, Shelley Curtis, and Nada Rowand in Soaps. Mel Durslag’s Sports View tackles Hubie Brown’s plan to win the NBA championship.

Prices from the Video Cassette Report for movies on VHS: Butterfield 8 ($29.95), Coming to America (N/A), Dominick and Eugene ($89.98), Halloween 4 ($89.98), I’ll Cry Tomorrow ($29.95), The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold ($14.95), Pumpkinhead ($89.95), Through Naked Eyes ($79.95). Cheers ‘n’ Jeers praises game show replacement hosts Ray Combs, Paul Rodriquez and Rolf Benirschke, laments the cancellation of game shows Card Sharks and Super Password, criticizes the opening credits to thirtysomething for being out of sync, and applauds Nickelodeon’s new comedy series On The Television.

The Program Section

[The Program Section includes the following features: TV Guide Plus, This Week, This Week’s Movies, Four-Star Movies, This Week’s Sports, Channel Directory, Pay-TV Movie Guide, TV Crossword Puzzle, Letters, and Horoscope.]

TV Guide Plus

[TV Guide Plus includes the following categories: In The News, On The Grapevine, and Soap Opera Guide.]

There are three In the News reports this week. The first is long report about House Speaker Jim Wright avoiding the television spotlight, the second reveals how ABC is trying to sign Roger Moore for The ABC Mystery Movie, and the third discusses the unexpected dismissal of NBC Sports executive producer Mike Weisman.

On the Grapevine contains two reports, one about Bruce Greenwood playing characters who undergo plastic surgery and another about the next season of Murphy Brown.

The Ratings Race disappears this week, likely due to the conclusion of the regular 1988-1989 TV season.


[Although TV Guide published the first and last names of those who wrote letters, for privacy reasons I will only be sharing the first name and the first letter of the last name.]

Two of the eight letters respond to David Handler’s article about the state of cable television, published in the April 8th issue. Here they are:

David Handler’s “Is Cable Now Worth the Money?” [April 8] described viewers “who like to tape movies off their sets.” Wrong! VCRs do not tape off of TV sets. VCRs only record signals off of antennae, coaxial cables, dubbing cables or video cameras. TV receivers and monitors are entirely peripheral to this function, which is why a TV set can be off, broken, or tuned to another channel while a VCR is recording. Curbing this popular misconception relieves countless viewers of confusion when hooking up and using entertainment centers.
Chris R.

It’s not possible to evaluate cable TV without looking at the specialty channels that Mr. Handler set aside. Cable TV without specialty channels would be like a shopping center that had only mass merchandisers.
Glenn H.
Greenbelt, Md.

Channel Directory

See my review of the March 4th, 1989 issue for the Channel Directory to the Dayton Edition.

The Listings

Close Ups

  • The Preakness (ABC, Saturday at 4:30PM)
  • [Cable Close Up] Movie: Three Men and a Baby
  • [Cable Close Up] Frank, Liza & Sammy (Showtime, Saturday at 10PM)
  • Women’s Golf: The LPGA Championship (NBC, Saturday at 2PM/Sunday at 1PM)
  • Movie: Everybody’s Baby: The Rescue of Jessica McClure (ABC, Sunday at 9PM)
  • [Cable Close Up] Neville Brothers (Cinemax, Sunday at 10PM)
  • Kate & Allie, “It’s a Wonderful Episode” (CBS, Monday at 10:30PM)
  • Garfield, “Babes and Bullets” (CBS, Tuesday at 8PM)
  • Miss Universe Pageant (CBS, Tuesday at 9PM)
  • Frontline, “Remember My Lai” (PBS, Tuesday at 9PM)
  • Bob Hope, “A Soiree in the City of Light” (NBC, Wednesday at 8PM)
  • Movie: The Thin Blue Line (PBS, Wednesday at 9PM)

Do You Remember…?

Saturday, May 20th, 1989
8:30PM NBC (4) (5) (22) ONE OF THE BOYS (CC)–Comedy
With Maria Conchita (Maria Conchita Alonso) moving in, “we all have to make adjustments,” which don’t come easily for Luke (Michael DeLuise), who decides the house isn’t big enough for both of them.
[Last scheduled show. Next week, “Amen” airs at this time.

9PM CBS (7) (9) (10) JESSE HAWKES (CC); 60 min.
A lawyer who feels guilty because he got a serial strangler off hires Jesse (Robert Conrad) to stop the killer before he kills again.

10PM CBS (7) (9) (10) WEST 57TH (CC); 60 min.
Scheduled: A segment on Venice, Italy. Also: a rejuvenation clinic in Switzerland. Correspondents: Selina Scott and John Ferrugia.

Monday, May 22nd, 1989
8PM CBS (7) (9) (10) LIVE-IN (CC)–Comedy
While Danny (Chris Young) hopes for the best on a camping trip with Lisa (Lisa Patrick), Sarah (Kimberly Farr) fears the worst when it appears her visiting father (Ray Walston) is hiding something.

8:30PM CBS (7) (9) (10) HEARTLAND (CC)–Comedy
Tom (Richard Gilliland) meets with the bankers as Johnny (Jason Kristofer) goofs off after minor surgery and B.L. (Brian Keith) acts as the not-so-perfect escort for Kim’s trip to New York.

9PM ABC (2) (6) (12) GIDEON OLIVER (CC); 2 hrs.
A clash of interests between agribusiness and a religious commune sets the scene for a double murder–and a possible lynching of the sect leader’s son.

Wednesday, May 24th, 1989
10PM CBS (7) (9) (10) SMOTHERS BROTHERS; 60 min.
Guests include comedians Paul Rodriguez, Bill Dana, Lotus Weinstock, Jim Stafford and Victoria Jackson; and the music group Palm Springs Yacht Club. Pat Paulsen, Barry Lather Dancers, Larry Cansler orchestra.

Final Thoughts

Now that the 1988-1989 regular TV season is over, I’m curious to discover whether the networks introduced any scripted shows during the summer repeat season. We’ll find out over the course of the next few weeks.

That’s it for this issue. Check back next week for my review of the May 27th, 1989 issue of TV Guide. As always, hit the comments with any thoughts or reactions.

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7 Replies to “A Year in TV Guide: May 20th, 1989”

  1. Regarding the article on child actors — in 1990 Paul Peterson (who’d been a child actor on The Donna Reed Show from 1958 -1966) was so upset over the suicide of Rusty Hamer (child actor on Make Room for Daddy) that he became an activist. He started A Minor Consideration, a child-actor support group.
    Even though there is legislation requiring 15% of a child actor’s earning be put into a trust fund, often that is not done, and entertainers who earned millions during their youth often discover that all their money has been spent by others, and they have no transferable job skills. There is a high rate of drug addiction and suicide amongst former child actors, and little support is given them outside of A Minor Consideration, which has numerous former child volunteering to help younger actors going through a rough transition.

    1. I’ve heard that only money earned from a contract, such as a regular series role, had to be put in a trust fund. Income from the likes of guest appearances did not have to be saved. I’ve also heard that some child actors’ parents preferred pursuing the guest appearance route so that money does not have to be saved in trust.

  2. May 25, 1989 fell on Thursday, not Wednesday. I don’t recall that version of THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS SHOW, but it was likely less controversial than the 1967-69 series, and they were back on their original network, CBS, here.

    I’d like to read the article about the Stayner kidnapping sometime. I probably read it back in 1989, and I may have taped the miniseries. What scares me about it is that Steven Stayner was my age, so the threat of kidnapping & molestation was out there for kids my age even back then. Steven Stayner was killed in a motorcycle accident just months after this miniseries aired, and an older brother of his became a serial killer years later, so that family’s had & caused more than its share of misery over the years.

    1. I seem to recall the Smothers Brothers revival. It’s not that it was less controversial, it’s just that you could say and do more on TV by that time. In fact the “controversial” stuff, especially the political stuff, was pretty mild by the time of the revival. SNL had already been doing those jokes for at least a decade.

      1. The 1988-1989 version of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour outgrew from a well-received and highly rated 20th anniversary special which aired on CBS in early 1988. Over the spring/summer, a writers’ strike was going on, which threatened to last into the fall and would require “stop-gap” programming. As the brothers and their writers/guests were all performers in their own right, they were allowed to perform their own material, which allowed CBS to bring back the Comedy Hour as a short-run series that season, with a number of episodes airing after the strike had concluded!

  3. Re: that ad for Lifeplanning… Guessing this was shortly before Mick Hubert left Dayton to become the voice of the Florida Gators (still there today, albeit with considerably less hair).

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