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Summary

Even Okefenokee can't swamp Jean
Airdate: Sunday - April 28, 1985


Last Update: 03-16-2018

Show Description
What was Jean Shepherd doing at 2 a.m. silting in a rowboat in the Okefenokee Swamp talking about typical Shepherd things like primal ooze, Pogo's Albert the Alligator, Moon Pies and RC Cola? Making another edition of Jean Shepherd's America, that's what. Some people will do anything to get on television, you might say. With Shepherd, that isn't the case. Television wanted him back after more than a decade to continue the original America series which premiered back in 1971-72 and was repeated three times after that on PBS. "They made me an offer I couldn't refuse," said Shepherd in a recent telephone interview, modestly not mentioning the fact that Shepherd and film have been getting along very nicely lately, thank you. Earlier this season, American Playhouse aired an absolute gem in The Star Crossed Romance of Josephine Cosnowski, vintage Shepherd based on his adolescent romantic fantasies in Hammond, Ind. Then there was A Christmas Story, the theatrical feature which delighted critics and moviegoers alike. That reference to Hammond brings up a point Shepherd is always being misidentified as being from Gary. He doesn't quite know why. "I was silting in a club in New York next to Meredith Wilson, the man who wrote Music Man, the humorist put in. "I asked him, 'Have you ever been in Gary? . . . It's the exact opposite of your song.'" To get back to America and the Okefenokee Swamp, Shepherd is in the middle of the 10-new-episode and-3-repeat series which Channel 20 is airing on Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. The series started with Shepherd in the swamp, essaying a mood piece as delicate as dragonfly wings. Then the inl~ traveler went on to ''the folk music of our time, beer commercials, and coming up next is Filthy Rich at Last in which the humorist finds a lifestyle he can become accustomed to. Along the way as the series unfolds, he will turn up at the Speedway, driving a 1924 Dusenberg in a race with retired 500-Mile Race driver Dennis "Duke" Nalon at the wheel of a 1935 Packard. The sequence filmed last September will see the intrepid racers get up to all of 75 to 80 miles an hour, not bad for two old autos valued at a cool million apiece, according to Shepherd. When the humorist was growing up, Indianapolis always meant the "500." Now coming back later, he found the town changed. "lt's come alive ... There are good restaurants. since that football team came to town," he said glowingly. Assessing the country after seeing a good portion of it, Shepherd found the national mood to be upbeat. "I haven't seen America in such a good mood since I was a kid," he declared. "Personally I was amazed by it . . . The food's 500 percent better. America used to be the land of ketchup and mustard; now it's the land of quiche." Other America episodes will find Shepherd in Alaska where A Bunch of Boys Were Whooping It up in the Malamute Saloon, and again among the lovelorn aboard a cruise ship. Death Valley, Louisiana bayous, winter in the Old West and then the series will go on to - where else? - Chicago, Chicago, That Toddlin' Town. The finale? Guam in a bit of puckish Shepherd humor. Why? "Well, it's part of America," replied Shepherd. "Anybody can go to San Francisco. Not even Hugh Downs goes to Guam. They've got the largest McDonald's in the world. They just love quarter pounders."
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