American culture used to be much more unified than it is today. There were only three significant TV networks. One “Hit Parade” of popular music. Everyone had read, or at least heard of, Catch 22, Portnoy’s Complaint, and To Kill a Mockingbird. It was the same with movies, sports – even folk music and songs from Broadway musicals. There were significant exceptions, of course, but not like the present time.
Hugely successful shows, performers, books, and films may be totally unknown outside of one segment of the population. When I was working at Sleep No More, I found that people over 40 probably hadn’t heard of it – and that included people who worked in show business. I played major roles in music videos for groups that I hadn’t heard of myself, not to mention most of the people I knew – Lumineers, Born of Osiris, Fabulous Thunderbirds.
Recently I taped a scene with Bruno Mars and his band – and I hadn’t been sure who he was. It’s for a special that will be on CBS November 29. I have found that he is very widely known, even among people who surprised me by knowing a lot about him and his music. He’s one of the few entertainers in a long time likely to have universal appeal.
I’ll watch the special November 29 – to see if the scene I’m in is in the version broadcast. It will be the only program on a major network that I’ll have seen in many years.