Baltimore area connects with 'The West' Television: You are watching, aren't you? Goucher professor is quoted. Director's mother operates Fells Point B&B.

On the Air

September 22, 1996|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

To those of you who haven't kept up with PBS' "The West," which continues tonight on MPT, shame on you!

Sure, the series has its problems, including the indiscriminate use of photographs that don't truly depict the people or events being described. But really, that's a minor point. This is 12 1/2 hours of fascinating television, full of interesting people and good stories, well told.

So maybe 12 1/2 hours is a lot of time to devote to TV. Would it help to know the series displays a handful of local connections?

Most visible, although you wouldn't know it to look at the credits, is Goucher College professor Julie Jeffrey, who relates the story of Narcissa Whitman, an Easterner who traveled to Indian territory to try to convert the tribes to Christianity.

She didn't do very well, converting pretty much no one, but her story -- complete with her good, if misguided, intentions -- typifies the lives of so many white settlers who thought they could best help the natives by changing them.

Jeffrey was interviewed by director Stephen Ives, who was so impressed by Whitman's story, and Jeffrey's passion for it, that he decided to make it a key part of Episode 2, "Empire Upon the Trails."

Ives has a local connection as well. His mother, Celie, is a Baltimore native who operates Celie's Waterfront Bed & Breakfast in Fells Point.

"I am absolutely thrilled for him," says Celie Ives, who has avoided watching advance copies of the series so she can watch it unfold with the rest of us. "I just couldn't believe it was such a humongous job, and that it would turn out as well as it did."

Celie Ives, whose maiden name was Celie van Holland, grew up in Govans before moving to Lincoln, Mass., where she and David Ives raised two sons. David Ives is vice chairman of WGBH, Boston's public television station.

The Iveses divorced in 1978; five years later, Celie Ives returned to Baltimore. She opened the bed and breakfast in 1990.

Her son, who lives in New York, spent five years putting "The West" together, she says.

But the result, apparently, has been worth it. "It's absolutely thrilling," Mom says. "The tough part was keeping up his morale and keeping momentum going for five years. He says he'll never do another one."

Another proud parent, this one living in Pikesville, is Murray Hankin, whose son, Richard, was the editor for episodes 1, 2 (which aired last week) and 7 (which airs at 8 p.m. tomorrow).

"I think it's great," Murray Hankin says of his son's handiwork. "I'm very proud of him. It's a great feeling to see his name on the screen, even if just for a couple seconds."

Murray Hankin owns an insurance agency here in town. His son, a Milford Mill High School graduate, became involved with film after attending the University of California at Berkeley and Columbia Film School in New York.

Murray Hankin has already seen the three episodes his son helped put together, but he's not taking any chances. He's been taping the entire series, every night, in case he has to run outside while it's on.

Celie Ives has taken pains not to miss the show, either. But things don't always work out the way one plans.

"We couldn't get PBS on our television [at the B&B] Tuesday night," she says, noting that several customers wanted to watch the show. "I've never been so embarrassed."

Blub, blub, blub

What some guys won't do to get attention

Bob Lopez, one-third of the Byrd, Mark and Lopez morning team at WIYY-FM (97.9) is spending the weekend broadcasting live from inside a 10,000-gallon water tank at the Eastpoint Mall.

Assuming everything went as planned, Lopez began his underwater odyssey at 4 p.m. Friday, pledging to remain submerged until 98-Rock listeners filled two 48-foot tractor-trailers with donations for the Maryland Food Bank. He's challenged listeners to fill those trucks within 48 hours meaning he may still be sitting underwater as you read this Sunday morning.

Last year, Byrd had himself encased within a 2,000-pound block of ice to raise money for the drive -- and challenged Lopez to top him this year.

One shudders to think what's in store for Mark next year.

Here's the skinny

Some events are a lot more fun listening to on the radio than actually participating in, I suspect.

Here's a perfect example: Friday, Don Geronimo and Mike O'Meara, of WJFK-AM (1300), will broadcast live from White Tail Park in Virginia, site of the "1st Annual Don & Mike Nude Olympics."

Athletes, all in the buff, will compete in such events the 100-yard dash, basketball, horseshoes, the long jump and the hammer throw (using real hammers).

I have one word: Ouch.

'Leopard Son'

Worth noting on TV tonight: The Bethesda-based Discovery Channel will air "The Making of 'The Leopard Son,' " a documentary about the filming of the company's first theatrical-release film, at 9 p.m. and 1 a.m.

The wildlife film, a chronicle of a young leopard coming of age on the African plain, opens next weekend in the Washington area. Its success there will determine whether it goes into larger release and perhaps plays in Baltimore.

Pub Date: 9/22/96

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