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Dateline: Events/Headlines - Week of March 15, 1981 In News, Pop Culture, Tech, Celebrity, Sports, Entertainment & Fascinating Facts



In The News

After 13 days of terror, three Pakistani hijackers surrender to Syrian authorities and release an estimated 102 hostages – the victims of the longest such aircraft kidnapping in history (so far).

In Chicago – a fire in a four-story residential hotel for transients kills 19 – with many trapped in their rooms.

The State Department links the Soviet Union with the hijacking of a Pakistani airliner, accusing the Russians of prolonging the incident and acting in complicity with the Pakistanis who seized the plane.

Cutting $2.3 billion more than President Reagan had proposed, the Senate Budget Committee approves a $36.4 billion spending reduction blueprint for the next fiscal year – the largest cutback in federal spending in U.S. history (so far).

Cape Canaveral - A worker is killed and a second critically inured after they blunder into a nitrogen-filled engine compartment of the space shuttle Columbia after a rehearsal for next month’s launching.  

 In Washington - President Reagan tells an audience of longtime conservative supporters that “our time is now, our moment has arrived. He thanked them for helping him win “a victory for a set of principles” that can change the balance of government.

A fund-raising drive by a group called the “Coalition for a New Beginning” is killed by the White House. The tax-exempt group was created in Washington recently to promote his budget and tax cut plans. They wanted to solicit $50,000 from corporations to underwrite a closed-circuit television hookup for Regan, where viewers would be asked for additional contributions to help push the Administration’s economic program.

The California Supreme Court, citing the right to privacy, rules that the state must pay for abortions sought by low-income women under the state’s Medi-Cal program.

Passing – Emmy Award-winning screenwriter Eleanor Perry (66), whose credits include “David and Lisa,” and “diary of a Mad Housewife.”

Jean Harris (57) is sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for the love-triangle slaying of Scarsdale diet author Herman Tarnower, the millionaire bachelor who jilted her for a younger woman. 


Fascinating Business news – March 15, 1981

Chase Manhattan and First National Bank of Chicago announce they are going cut their prime-lending rate back to 17 ½ % from 18%.

TWA says it is slashing most fares up to 70% during a five-week period April 20 through May 31.

The Rhode Island Commission of Human Rights orders the California-based “Sambo” chain to change the name of its four Rhode Island restaurants. The commission ruled the name, which is found offensive by some blacks because of the children’s book “Little Black Sambo,” “is an indirect way of denying public accommodations to black persons.” (Note: this is the beginning of the end, as all the restaurants would eventually change).  


Sports news – March 15, 1981

George Steinbrenner meets with Reggie Jackson to resolve some differences. A new contract for Jackson is pending. 

John McEnroe signs a five-year contract with the British Dunlop company. He’ll use the Maxply Fort racket under the agreement, worth $2.5 million. 


Best-selling books – March 15, 1981

Some best-selling books –

Answer As A Man – Taylor Caldwell

Brain – Robin Cook

The Covenant – James A. Michener

Rage of Angels – Sidney Sheldon

Masquerade – Kit Williams

Cosmos – Carl Sagan

Nice Girls Do – Irene Kassoria

Never-Say-Diet Book – Richard Simmons

You Can Negotiate Anything – Herb Cohen

Wealth and Poverty – George Gilder

William E. Donoghue’s Complete Money Market Guide


Radio news – March 15, 1981

Dr. Demento celebrates his 10th anniversary on station KMET-FM (Los Angeles this week. Look for interviews with Frank Zappa, Bette Medler, Tom Waits, George Carlin and others.

Fred Winston can now be heard mornings on WCFL. He comes from WFYR-FM. 

Ruth Meyer – who programmed WMCA New York to the top station in the nation during its “goodguy” 1960’s era, joins ABC as programming director for the entertainment Network. She had been v/p for programming at NBC Radio.  

Bree Bushaw, formerly with rocker KPRI-FM (106.5) moves to crosstown rival KGB-FM (101.5) – San Diego.

 The NBC Source radio network says it had a winner with its 90-minute Grateful Dead special last week. Almost 6.2 million listeners tuned (part of) the show in. 

WABC slowly going talk? The music station is taking steps towards talk programming with the installation of a sports talk show from 7p-9p. Art Rusk Jr., hired away from WMCA will do the show. But the station says music is still its game, even though it’s also added the New York Yankees. 

WABC is relying on its new morning team – Ross & Wilson from Z-93 (Atlanta). And the station just broadcast its first Yankees game this week. Ops director Jay Clark says the station just instituted call-out music research of 250 calls a week. The new WABC line-up is Ross & Wilson, Ron Lundy, Johnny Donavan, Dan Ingram (who succeeds Bob Cruz in afternoon), then into the sports show, then DJ Sturgis Griffin.

Bob Cruz, who had been working 4 to 8p is leaving to concentrate on his voice work for ABC-TV (he’s the announcer for 20/20). 


Entertainment/Celebrity/Hollywood news – March 15, 1981

Interviewed in the current issue of Ladies’ Home Journal – Joan Kennedy says she has found a new sense of self-esteem and calls herself “one of the most fascinating women in this country.” Her remarks were made just before she and her husband, Sen. Edward Kennedy announced they were divorcing. “I have talent; I know I’m smart, I got straight A’s in graduate school. I’ve still got my looks. There are a lot of women who don’t have the choices I have. But the most exciting thing is that I… can be and will be happy, whatever I choose to do.” Ms. Kennedy said she had never been in love with anyone but Ted and that as late as last year they had never discussed divorce.

Johnny Carson blasts “The National Enquirer” on his “Tonight Show” after they published an article predicting he and his third wife, Joanna, were near divorce. He called the article totally false and called the author a creep. 

The National Enquirer is in court with Carol Burnett on an article they published in 1976. She’s seeking $10 million in damages.


Playing in Las Vegas –

Frank Sinatra – Caesars Palace

Wayne Newton – Frontier

Mac Davis, Lonnie Shorr – Hilton

Melissa Manchester, Larry Gatling – Riviera

Flip Wilson, Frank Sinatra Jr. – Sahara

Bobby Vinton – Sands


Television news – March 15, 1981

The Mayor of Piscataway, NJ is peeved at “Saturday Night Live” and wants NBC to apologize for a skit portraying his township as the home of a polluting chemical industry. The recent skit featured Joe Piscopo playing a slow-witted Piscataway chemical worker bragging about his home which is shown as the center of New Jersey’s highway maze and chemical industry. The skit showed the actor eating a sandwich at the plant as chemical dust fell onto his food. 

WSM Inc., parent company of WSM AM/FM/TV and the Grand Ole Opry says it plans to launch a cable-TV channel. A spokesman says it will consist of musical programming “country and otherwise,” plus some semi-talk and celebrity interviews. Target date for launch is about a year and a half. (This will become The Nashville Network). 

It’s announced that Alpha Repertory Television Service (ARTS) a cable TV channel devoted to cultural fare, will debut April 12. ARTS is a joint venture of ABC Video Enterprises and Warner Amex Satellite Entertainment Co. The channel will offer three house of cultural programming nightly beginning at 9pm Eastern time on cable systems affiliated with Warner’s Nickelodeon children’s cable channel. 

Debuting on ABC-TV with a 2-hour premiere: “The Greatest American Hero.” Stars William Kat and Robert Kulp. With Michael Pare.

Declining contributions to the Cathedral of Tomorrow in Akron, causes pay evangelist Rex Humbard to cut his 60-minute weekly program to 30-minutes.                                                  


Monday night television listings/programs/TV guide – March 15, 1981

CBS – The White Shadow, MASH, House Calls, Lou Grant

NBC – Special (Donahue and the Kids), Movie, Tonight Show

ABC – That’s Incredible, Dynasty, Soap


Special – Donahue and the Kids – Phil Donahue talks with kids who have survived or are in remission from catastrophic illness.

On MASH – Hawkeye catches an allergy and Col. Potter turns the camp inside out to find a cause.

On Soap – Jessica, Chester and Mary relive some of their high school misadventures.

On The Tonight Show – Eydie Gorme, Steve Lawrence, Charlie Callas, Dudley Moore join Johnny Carson


Music news – March 15, 1981

Paul McCartney is now part of “Who’s Who” – the 2,800 page red book and the last word in British social circles.

 Eagles member Don Henley is fined $2,500 and placed on two years’ probation after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor back in November. Henley was arrested at his home near Hollywood after a nude 16-year-old girl was found there by police. 

Eric Clapton is listed in severe but stable condition after suffering from bleeding ulcers. He just finished a concert in Madison, WI.

A judge postpones a hearing until April on the alleged mismanagement and handling of the late Elvis Presley estate at the mutual request of attorneys for the estate and Presley’s 12-year-old daughter Lisa Marie… Also, bond is set for a second time for Dr. George Nichopoulos, Elvis’ personal medico, who was re-indicted by a special Grand Jury. He was initially indicted last year on charges of “over –prescribing drugs” to some close friends, including Presley.

New music channel for television - Warner Amex Satellite Entertainment’s new 24-hour music channel will be in four to six million homes within the next two years – so says the company. The new service debuts August 1 and will be the first of its kind. The company is calling it “MTV: The Music Channel” and it should mpact record sales. Programmer Robert Pittman says it’s too premature to detail specific programming for the Music channel, but that numerous negotiations with record labels and other video music suppliers are underway. Pittman does say that 80% of the initial programming will consist of videoclips of artists. A video deejay will appear two or three times an hour to give viewers information on artists and other pertinent info such as concert dates.


More About Music Televsion (MTV)

The rest of the programming will consist of music-oriented movies and documentaries as well as an occasional live concert simulcast. And the audio will be stereo.  Pittman says the channel could later produce its own documentaries and the like. The Music Channel will be advertiser supported and the cable operator will charge an extra dollar to his subscriber for attaching a link from a home television cable hookup to the hi-fi system for stereo sound. A home user will then adjust his FM receiver to a predetermined dormant position on the dial. 


Top Country Hit Music Singles – March 15, 1981  

Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground – Willie Nelson

Wandering Eyes – Ronnie McDowell

 Texas Women – Hank Williams Jr.

Drifter – Sylvia

Thirty Nine and Holding – Jerry Lee Lewis

Old Flame – Alabama

You’re The Reason God Made Oklahoma – David Frizzell & Shelly West

Guitar Man – Elvis Presley


Top albums this week in 1981 –

Paradise Theatre – Styx

Hi Infidelity – REO Speedwagon

Zenyatta Mondatta – Police

Jazz Singer – Neil Diamond

Captured – Journey

Moving Pictures – Rush

Crimes of Passion – Pat Benatar

Guilty – Barbra Streisand

Autoamerican – Blondie

Back in Black – AC/DC

Greatest Hits – Kenny Rogers

Horizon – Eddie Rabbitt

Hotter Than July – Steve Wonder

Celebrate – Kool & The Gang

Arc of a Diver – Steve Winwood


Pop music this week in 1981

Keep On Loving You – REO Speedwagon

Crying – Don McLean

Woman – John Lennon

9 To 5 – Dolly Parton

Rapture – Blondie

The Winner Takes It All – Abba

What Kind of Fool – Barbara Streisand & Barry Gibb

Hello Again – Neil Diamond

 Kiss On My List – Daryl Hall & John Oates

I Love A Rainy Night – Eddie Rabbitt

I Ain’t Gonna Stand For It – Stevie Wonder

A Little In Love – Cliff Richard

While You See A Chance – Steve Winwood

Precious To Me – Phil Seymour

Just The Two Of Us – Grover Washington Jr.

Treat Me Right – Pat Benatar

Hearts On Fire – Randy Meisner

Games People Play – Alan Parsons

Don’t Stand So Close To Me – Police

Fade Away – Bruce Springsteen


Top movies – March 15, 1981

The Howling

The Funhouse

Back Roads

American Pop

Nine to Five

Fort Apache the Bronx


The Devil & Max Devlin

All Night Long


The Competition

La Cage Aux Follies II



Stir Crazy

Altered States

Ordinary People


Private Eyes

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