Media Life:FOX40 waxes nostalgic as it reaches 40 air years

Auburn city employee feted for film work; Kinkade returns to Hangtown hometown
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Expect a nostalgia fest filled with references to “Big-Time Wrestling” and “Cap’n Mitch” on Sunday as “FOX40 at 40” airs right after the Phillies-Rays World Series game. It’s a one-hour special to celebrate the 40th anniversary of KTXL’s emergence on the airwaves as the Sacramento Valley’s first independent television station back on Oct. 26, 1968. The show will take viewers from the station’s early days as an indie powerhouse to its current incarnation as Northern California’s most popular FOX affiliate. Along the way, fictional intern “Anna Prentice” learns on her first day of work about the history of KTXL from station personalities, including 24-year veteran Jim Crandell, Donna Cordova (onboard since 1994) and newcomer Paul Robins. Segments will zero in on vintage TV commercials and promos, station bloopers, rare footage of early newscasts, and a tribute to former Channel 40 anchorman Pete Wilson. Wilson helmed the nightly news from 1979 to 1983. He died last year. For viewers who were there in the beginning, KTXL provided a steady stream of old and new movies during those early days. It took chances, airing the controversial movie “The Deer Hunter” uncut and in its entirety in 1981. When the classic “Speed Racer” cartoon came on the scene, the station aired it with its treasure chest of Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes shorts. And then there were old favorites like “Cap’n Mitch,” who kept kids enthralled from the 1960s to the 1980s from his fictional Valley Queen, at a time when local children’s shows were still an important part of a station’s programming. He ruled the airwaves in the 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. slot on weekdays for at least a generation of local children. “We want to showcase the history and importance of everything that has happened since KTXL became a TV station in 1968, and just as important, keep the audience entertained,” producer Mike Mechanick said. MOVIE MAGIC MAN First an Emmy for local brothers Doug and Todd Stanley for their work on “Deadliest Catch,” and now Auburn Community Development Director Will Wong has emerged with some hardware of his own from Tinseltown. Wong journeyed to the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey for the 14th annual California On Location Awards and hoisted top prize in the “city public employee” category this past weekend. Hosted by glib funnyman Fred Willard, the awards ceremony honors production pros for their sometimes-superhuman efforts to keep on-location shoots in California, on course and filming smoothly. One of three finalists, Wong was singled out for his quality assistance over more than a decade to a variety of movie and TV productions. Nominator Beverly Lewis, director of the Placer-Lake Tahoe Film Office, lauded Wong for finding solutions to difficult problems – including “working magic” to allow a chimpanzee to skateboard on city stairs and sidewalks in a “no skateboard” zone for a Japanese TV show. Two other Lewis nominees also struck awards ceremony paydirt. Wilson Wu and Tim Wilson won in the production company award for their work with Anonymous Content on a Sony Blu-Ray commercial that utilized snowbound Alpine Meadows in Placer County. Anonymous Content is one of the top commercial companies in the business and required video shoots on remote ice cliffs, snow-covered mountain slopes and a skating rink in the middle of nowhere, Lewis said. As a bonus, Wong got a mention in both the Hollywood Reporter and Variety. KINKADE COMING HOME Forever linked to Auburn by the painting of Old Town he made in 1988 that now is displayed at the Placer County Courthouse, “Painter of Light” Thomas Kinkade is returning to his home town of Placerville Nov. 15 for the first time in three years for a public event. Elsie Katich, gallery director at the Placerville Thomas Kinkade Gallery, said the popular painter left Hangtown 14 years ago for coastal climes but kept up yearly appearances for signings in the El Dorado County community until 2005. Kinkade will be at the Placerville Fairgrounds’ Forni Building from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on that Saturday. He’ll debut his new limited edition “Hometown Christmas Memories” painting and be available for autographing purchased works. No outside purchases will be signed, however, Katich warned. The Placerville gallery will hold on to works sold in the next couple of weeks to be signed at the fairgrounds, she added. The Auburn painting is valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Not bad for a painting that cost $22,000 when it was commissioned for the city’s centennial. At the time, Kinkade was still a relative unknown. Today, a framed 24 in. by 36 in. print of his recent “Fenway Park” painting sells for $1,840. Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at