On `Letterman,' if it's stupid, it's golden

TV: David Letterman's crew will be in Hagerstown Saturday to find the funniest, silliest, dumbest tricks people and their pets can do

Radio and Television

February 03, 1999|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

If your dog plays soccer, please, don't go to Hagerstown on Saturday to try to have Fido featured on David Letterman's Stupid Pet Tricks.

"Dogs that play soccer, that's like my worst nightmare," says Bill Langworth, stupid pet and human trick coordinator (now there's a job title!) for "The Late Show with David Letterman."

"I mean, it might be amusing for you at home, but on the show, everything's got to have a beginning, a middle and an end. How long can you watch a dog kick a ball around the stage?"

Letterman's folks will be at the Valley Mall in Hagerstown from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

If you think your pet has a trick that's a sure ticket to fame and fortune, or if you've perfected an odd stunt yourself (they're looking for Stupid Human Tricks, too), call the stupid-trick hot line at 888-PET-TRIK (888-738-8745) and leave a description of your trick, along with name and phone number.

If they're interested, they'll get back to you and make an appointment; if you simply show up at the mall, you won't get a tryout.

"We usually get between 200 and 500 calls, and we'll see as many as 50," says Langworth. "Out of those, maybe one will get on the show."

Most often, the pets who do the best stupid tricks are dogs; the only cat Langworth can recall getting on the show was one that said "yum yum" while it ate.

"Dogs are the easiest to train, the most loyal and the most eager to please," Langworth suggests. "And they're smart."

Smart enough to bowl, retrieve tennis balls from a tank of water, sit on a thin piece of wood stretched between two men, snarl at vacuum cleaners -- feats that have revolutionized American entertainment like nothing since Francis, the Talking Mule (who would be perfect, were he still around).

"The tricks are always better when they show off natural behavior," Langworth says, "as opposed to something you've taught your dog to do."

As for the stupid human tricks, pretty much anything odd goes: Previous exhibitionists have turned themselves into human bowling balls, squirted milk out of their eyes and had toilet plungers land on their head.

Of course, there are limits. They don't want anything that puts you or your pets in danger. And there are even boundaries of good taste.

"This one guy had a fake eye, and his trick was that he'd put a toothpick in his ocular cavity," Langworth says. "Judging by the audience reaction, we could see that wouldn't work onstage."

Is it Waynesday already?

Hold it right there, pilgrim

John Wayne fans need to pencil in Wednesdays through April to check out AMC, as the vintage movie station features "John Waynesdays."

The gunplay begins tonight at 8 with "McQ."

Next Wednesday, it's "Angel and the Badman," followed by "Blood Alley" on Feb. 17 and "Reap the Wild Wind" on Feb. 24.

In March, prepare yourselves for "Shepherd of the Hills" (March 3), "Pittsburgh" (March 10), "Trouble Along the Way" (March 17), "North to Alaska" (March 24) and "The Fighting Kentuckian" (March 31).

April's line-up has "Flying Tigers" (April 7), "Big Jim McClain" (April 14), "The Green Berets" (April 21) and "The Dark Command" (April 28).

Black History Month

Here's a look at some of what Baltimore television stations have on tap for this month's Black History Month celebration.

The winner of the 17th annual black playwrights competition, Donald Dankwa Brooks' "Love, Rhythm & Blues," is slated for 7 p.m. Feb. 27 on WMAR, Channel 2.

WMAR also has on hand a series of 15 vignettes, airing throughout the month, that spotlight African-American inventors responsible for such items as the golf tee and heating ductwork.

"I'm really proud of those," says WMAR head honcho Steve Gigliotti. "Every one of them is an `I didn't know that.' "

Among the offerings on WBAL, Channel 11, is the world broadcast premiere of "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: A Historical Perspective" (1: 30 p.m. Feb 14). At 1 a.m. Feb. 20, the station airs an adaptation of August Wilson's "The Piano Lesson," starring Baltimore's Charles Dutton.

At WJZ, Channel 13, a series of vignettes on African-American history and achievements will air at various times throughout the month, as part of the station's ongoing Salute to Heritage program.

In addition, WJZ has slated its annual oratory contest for 2 p.m. Feb. 21 (snow date March 7) at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Students who applied before the Jan. 18 deadline were asked to prepare speeches using as their inspiration one of five quotations from such famous African-Americans as Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglass, gymnast Dominique Dawes and NBA coach Lenny Wilkens.

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