NEW YORK (AP) — It’s been a wild and wearying year in the world of TV, with memorable moments by the dozens. Here are nine signal moments (though a few of them are perhaps best forgotten):
Before ascending to the presidency early last January, Donald Trump played TV critic by berating his successor as host of “The New Celebrity Apprentice.” Mocking Arnold Schwarzenegger for his puny ratings, Trump tweeted, “So much for being a movie star,” which sparked a Twitter sparring session as Schwarzenegger fired back expressing hope that Trump would work as aggressively as president as he had as a ratings-hungry TV celebrity. In February, Trump tweeted that Schwarzenegger was an even worse TV host than California governor. By March, Schwarzenegger said he had had enough, declaring that Trump’s “baggage” was what killed his ratings and that, even if invited, he wouldn’t be available for a new season.
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FAKE MEDIA BRIEFING
Melissa McCarthy lampooned then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer in a January edition of a “Saturday Night Live” sketch where the actress taunted reporters as “losers,” fired a water gun at the press corps and used the lectern to ram a (fake) Wall Street Journal reporter. “I want to begin tonight by apologizing on behalf of YOU to ME for how you have treated me these last two weeks,” McCarthy said in opening the mock press briefing. “And that apology is NOT accepted.”
Jeffrey Dean Morgan maintained his hitting streak as “The Walking Dead” returned in February with him back as arch-villain Negan, a grinning, swaggering brute whose non-regulation barbed-wire-wrapped baseball bat named Lucille scored one hit after another against Rick Grimes (series star Andrew Lincoln) and the good guys he led. The first half of Season 7 in fall 2016, however, proved too brutal even for some fans, and viewership of the perennially popular AMC show waned when the series came last winter, maybe as a result.
Host Jimmy Kimmel voiced the question of the night at the 2017 Academy Awards — “Warren, what did you DO?” — when, in February, a confused Warren Beatty and co-presenter Faye Dunaway shared the night’s booby prize by announcing “La La Land” as best picture. The acceptance speech was interrupted midway when audience members and viewers learned the winner was actually “Moonlight.” This was the sort of envelope mix-up even the post office could never equal.
A DRIVE FOR ACCEPTANCE
Folks on Sesame Street have a way of making everyone feel accepted. That certainly goes for Julia, a Muppet youngster with blazing red hair, bright green eyes — and autism. Rather than being treated like an outsider, Julia was welcomed as one of the gang on a “Sesame Street” episode in April. “She does things just a little differently, in a Julia sort of way,” her new Muppet chum Abby explained to the show’s young viewers.
ILLNESS ISN’T PARTISAN
The video of a 13-minute monologue by Jimmy Kimmel was viewed by tens of millions after its May airing on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” as this father of a newborn son emotionally told how the infant had successfully had surgery for a life-threatening birth defect. He did so to illustrate that this was the sort of medical treatment that could become unavailable to many parents as politicians battle over health care. “If your baby is going to die and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make,” Kimmel declared. “Whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or something else, we all agree on that, right?” On Monday, he brought his son onstage to discuss funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
HEAD OF STATE
A video by comedian Kathy Griffin created a storm within hours of its posting on social media in June, sparking outcry from the White House, energizing Republican fundraisers, fueling harsh coverage over several news cycles, and losing her TV and standup gigs and even an endorsement deal for the Squatty Potty. Griffin’s video, which depicted her holding a likeness of the president’s severed, bloody head, was meant as a joke, she insisted. But few observers were laughing. At a televised press conference, Griffin tearfully predicted her career was over and said the Trumps were “trying to ruin my life forever.”
CNN TAKES A HIT
Trump tweeted his own provocative video in July, depicting himself beating up a humanoid CNN figure. The video showed Trump running toward a wrestling ring and tackling a man with a CNN logo for a head, punching him repeatedly in the face. Predictably, reaction to the video varied according to each viewer’s attitude toward Trump.
Actors and other public figures began vanishing from the TV screen (and elsewhere) in October as scores of allegations of sexual misconduct targeted one prominent man after another. Fox News Channel’s fired Bill O’Reilly had led the way in April, but in the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s disgrace, Kevin Spacey was removed from the final season of Netflix’s “House of Cards.” Louis C.K. lost a Netflix comedy special and other TV projects. Charlie Rose was removed from “CBS This Morning” and his own public television interview show was cancelled. Then, a week later, it was “Today” show host Matt Lauer who was fired.