Arlo and Janis, Gilligan, and Newton Minow – A Vast Wasteland Factoid

As was mentioned regarding Mike’s column today Arlo and Janis heard a little-known factoid the other day.

© UFS, Inc

Obituaries for Newton Minow, who passed away last month, mentioned that the boat from the Gilligan’s Island TV show was named after the former FCC Chairman as a sly dig.

From Reuters:

Television producer Sherwood Schwartz still did not like Minow’s criticism and named the ill-fated boat in his low-brow sitcom “Gilligan’s Island” the S.S. Minnow in a mock tribute that Minow said actually thrilled him.

“Sit right back and you’ll hear a tale” from various trivia sites such as Outsider:

Sherwood Schwartz, who created Gilligan’s Island, named the boat in honor of his least favorite bureaucrat. Schwartz wrote in his book Inside Gilligan’s Island that he named the boat to mock Newton Minow.

Schwartz wrote: “The shocking aftermath of that designation of responsibility by Mr. Minow and the FCC gave ABC, CBS, and NBC absolute authority over everything that comes into your living room on network television.”

And though Newton Minow himself repeated the story none of the news articles then or obituaries now get a quote from Inside Gilligan’s Island showing Schwartz writing that Minnow equals Minow.

The Washington Post obit added the adverb “reputedly” while relating the tale:

Sherwood Schwartz, creator of the lowbrow 1960s sitcom “Gilligan’s Island,” reputedly named the marooned S.S. Minnow

So it looks as if the television reporter in Arlo and Janis is relating more factoid than fact.

See Ignatz’s reply in the comments below.

In other relevant Newton Minow news – he was a collector of the many editorial cartoons about him.

A photo from The Chicago Tribune obituary:

Portrait of Newton Minow in his Lake Shore Drive residence in Chicago on Thursday, January 12, 2017. (Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune)

From an earlier ChiTrib article not long after Minow was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom:

This room, in the back of his home, is dark. History touches every inch. The walls are covered with photographs of the people he knew and people he worked for and friends he made — Ken Burns and Bob Hope and John Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy…

The only wall without photographs is the wall across from his desk: On that wall are several dozen editorial cartoons, many framed, some original drawings, each a reminder of Minow’s outsize influence, using his name as shorthand for snobbishness or discernment.

A TV crew guy hits his thumb with a hammer and shouts “Newton Minow!” as a curse.

A bookstore hangs a banner across its storefront: “Thank You Newton Minow!”

A New Yorker cartoon features a husband and wife sitting in front of a television and the husband asking: “What’ll it be? Channel 13? Or shall we wallow in the vast wasteland?”

Cartoon by Frank Modell © The New Yorker/Condé Nast

6 thoughts on “Arlo and Janis, Gilligan, and Newton Minow – A Vast Wasteland Factoid

  1. Another factoid on Gilligan’s Island…it debuted on Feb. 22, 1963. Pretty sure I don’t need to explain the significance of that date.

    1. What, it was also the birthdate of Pebbles Flintstone? Is there another significance to the date? Also, my understanding is that Gilligan’s Island first aired on September 26, 1964, at least according to Wikipedia.

      1. Sorry. Brain fart there. Gilligan’s Island was scheduled to debut on 11-22-1963, but events delayed it. And I hope you’re not serious about not knowing what happened on that day.

      2. Wiley, it seems John was replying to the significance of Feb. 22, 1963 – i.e., Pebbles’ birthday. If you’d first asked about 11/22/63, there likely wouldn’t have been any confusion.

  2. Sorry, Wiley, but GILLIGAN’S pilot was being filmed in November of 1963 (Schwartz explained that they were shooting just after Kennedy’s death, which is why the flag is at half mast in the opening credits, which is what you’re probably remembering). That version of the pilot, in fact, didn’t air until the ’90s in syndication, since it featured other actors playing Ginger, the Professor and Mary Ann. It was not bought by CBS until the following February, and, like, all series in those days, was scheduled to debut in (or around) September. No series began in November until decades later, and then, only because of early cancellations or strikes.

Comments are closed.