Posts Tagged ‘television’

Collection Spotlight: Phil Johnson Editorials Collection

A television broadcasting legend in New Orleans, Phil Johnson worked for nearly 40 years at the city’s top-ranked CBS affiliate, WWL-TV. During his career, he served as promotion director, documentary producer, news directors, assistant general manager, and editorialist. Johnson retired from WWL-TV in 1999.

A graduate of New Orleans’ Jesuit High School (1946) and Loyola University (1950), Johnson began his journalism career at the now defunct Item newspaper. His print experience also included a brief stint in print journalism in Chicago, and a prestigious Neiman Fellowship at Harvard University in 1959. He would return home, at the dawn of the local television era, taking a position as promotion director at WWL-TV in 1960, just three years after the station signed on the air.

As a professional communicator Johnson received countless honors and awards. His writing and narration of television documentaries earned him an Emmy and three George Foster Peabody Awards: in 1970, for a documentary called “Israel: The New Frontier;” in 1972, for “China ’72: A Hole in the Bamboo Curtain,” which featured footage filmed by the first non-network American news team allowed into the Communist nation in almost 25 years; and in 1982, for “The Search for Alexander.” Johnson also served as a war correspondent, reporting for the station from Vietnam, Beirut and Israel.

New Orleans viewers may know him best for the 10,000 broadcast editorials he produced throughout his tenure as editorialist at WWL-TV, presenting the station’s editorial opinion on local, state and national topics from 1962 to 1999.

In 1997, Johnson was named to the New Orleans Broadcasting Hall of Fame and merited a Lifetime Achievement Award from his peers in the Press Club of New Orleans.

In 1999, Johnson’s alma mater, Loyola University New Orleans, awarded him its Integritas Vitae Award, the university’s highest honor for an individual “with a high moral character in a lifetime of unselfish service without exception of material award or public recognition.”

The editorials in this collection were authored by Phil Johnson during his long career at WWL-TV and aired on the station as a regular nightly presentation from March, 1962 through July, 1999. Following his retirement Johnson returned to deliver infrequent editorials at Christmas, and on the occasion of a colleague’s death.

WWL-TV was established by Loyola University New Orleans in 1957 and owned by the university until 1990.

The collection chronicles the 36-year political history of New Orleans and Louisiana from 1962-1999. All editorials were written and delivered by Johnson unless otherwise noted in the index. Please refer to the index key of designations.


Special Collections and Archives, located on the third floor of Monroe Library, is open for research and quiet study Monday-Friday, 9:00-4:30.


Found in the Archives is a recurring series of crazy cool stuff found in the Monroe Library’s Special Collections & Archives.


Twin Peaks Definitive gold box collection

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

I have the great capacity to be a TV junkie. We got rid of cable at my house in large part because no matter how embarrassingly degrading a show was, I could get sucked into the menial drama in no time. My most embarrassing moment in TV viewing might have been the short-lived reality show “Dating in the Dark,” in which contestants—you guessed it!—dated each other in the dark and then had to decide whether their feelings were real once they saw the person through a two-way mirror. I’m not a big believer in “guilty pleasures” but this was a real low point.

So now that we don’t have cable, my TV show viewing is limited to shows on Netflix or on DVD. Since it’s so easy for me to get sucked into a new show, I love having the option to watch the entire run of a series without having to wait for the next episode. And the show that has so far sucked me in the most, that I managed to watch over the course of about a week (30 episodes in 9 days!), is the early 90s cult classic “Twin Peaks.”

I’ve desperately tried to love David Lynch but to me his movies almost always fall flat somewhere along the way. While “Twin Peaks” isn’t perfect (wait until the second season subplot involving James and the manipulative housewife Evelyn), I think this is the best Lynch gets. “Twin Peaks” starts off as a murder mystery when the titular Washington town’s homecoming queen turns up dead. But in true Lynchian fashion things are not always what they seem, and what started off as a simple stranger-comes-to-town crime solver devolves into a supernatural head trip. The ensemble cast includes some of the decade’s up-and-comers (Lynch favorite Kyle MacLachlan, Lara Flynn Boyle, Heather Graham) and surprising appearances by seasoned actors (Piper Laurie, the mom from Carrie; Peggy Lipton, former star of the “Mod Squad” and ex-wife of Quincy Jones; Richard Beymer and Russ Tamblyn, both stars of the film version of West Side Story). MacLachlan’s Dale Cooper is one of the greatest characters in TV history. The images the viewer takes away from the show are lasting and haunting. Someday I want my bathroom to look like the “Red Room.”

“Twin Peaks” made such an impression on me that I was truly sad when it was over. Over for me, anyway, since it’s actually been off the air since 1991. I watched the show for the first time last summer. I rewatched it in its entirety this winter. This time I think it took about 14 days to watch the whole thing, but that’s because the DVD has some pretty great extras. And the cult of “Twin Peaks” lives on, which I realize now that I understand references to the show. The Log Ladies are a New Orleans band saluting their namesake’s memorable character; “Twin Peaks” festivals occur around the world; and the show’s stars still pop up all over the place (Leland Palmer on “Mad Men?” Awesome!).

The Monroe Library has the full series on DVD with all the excellent extras. There’s also a prequel film called Fire Walk With Me. I’m not a fan, but it’s worth seeing if only to round out your “Twin Peaks” experience. If you’re like me, you’re going to finish watching the series and then jump in your car to come back to the library 10 minutes before closing time to check out the movie. The spooky town of Twin Peaks just has that effect on some of us.

-Elizabeth Kelly, Instruction and Special Collections Librarian