Fans Angry Over Cancellation Of Television Show
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ Devoted fans of a raucous television variety show vowed Tuesday to fight plans by New Jersey’s public TV network to cancel the program.
The 10-member board of the state Public Broadcasting Authority voted in June to cancel ″The Uncle Floyd Show,″ which features characters like Julia Stepchild, Ken Do and Flojo the Clown in song and dance acts, comedy skits and audience participation routines.
The last show will be in October.
″We had the No. 1-watched television show in the history of public television in New Jersey and they fired me,″ the show’s creator, Floyd Vivino, said between tapings at the network’s Newark studio. ″I have not been communicated with properly.″
Network spokesman Ray Nicosia said that it was the network’s policy not to reveal exact ratings but that only 6 percent of the contributors listed Uncle Floyd as their favorite show.
The president of the show’s international fan club, Ron Hutchinson, said that he had filed a complaint with the state’s public advocate and that a lawyer was preparing a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission.
Hutchinson said his club has 10,000 members in 33 states, Mexico and England. Viewers outside the broadcast area of the New Jersey Public Network watch taped episodes, he said.
Vivino, a 35-year-old nightclub performer, actor, comedian and musician from Paterson, brings his half-hour variety act each night to viewers in New Jersey and surrounding states.
Floyd, with his 4-inch bowtie, garish plaid jacket and squashed porkpie hat, has a cult following.
″It has very rough edges, which is really its appeal,″ Hutchinson said of the program. ″It’s wild, unscripted fun and has fans of all types.″
On cable for a decade before joining the network three years ago, Floyd puts together 240 shows on a yearly budget of $104,000.
All he tries to do, says the 19-year show business veteran, is make people laugh and forget their problems.
″No matter how bad a day you’ve had, you’ve forgotten it for a half- hour,″ said audience member Glenn Cutler of Edison.
Hutchinson, 34, of Piscataway, maintains that the decision was not made by the station manager but the politically appointed board and that viewers contributed $14,000 during a fund-raiser in which announcers appealed for money on the basis of keeping Floyd on the air.
Of New Jersey Network’s $12.3 million budget for the current fiscal year, $7.3 million comes from the state. The remainder is made up of contributions.
″For the upcoming season we have the opportunity to obtain many fine programs that are more in keeping with the purposes of public television, and therefore we had to make room,″ Nicosia said in a statement on the cancellation. He said the decision was irrevocable.