On this edition of Parallax Views, few people have lived the kind of life that John Barbour has managed in his 87 years and still going strong life. He became a successful stand-up comic under the guidance of the legendary Redd Foxx in the Civil Rights-era of the 1960s; revolutionized the talk show with a program that featured non-canned, free-flowing conversations about controversial topics like the Vietnam War, American protesters, and labor rights with guests like Jane Fonda, Ronald Reagan, Muhammad Ali, and Cesar Chavez that not only treated the audience as intelligent enough to listen in on the discussions but also opened up the phone lines to allow them to ask the questions; invented reality TV with the show “Real People” under the philosophy of telling the interesting stories of people from all walks of life without judgment; served as a private writer for Frank Sinatra; and produced two separate, controversial documentaries on the assassination of John F. Kennedy and New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison’s investigation into Clay. And he did it all as a self-described “Canadian Dropout” as detailed in 700+ page memoir Your Mother’s Not A Virgin: The Bumpy Life and Times of the Canadian Dropout Who Changed the Face of American TV!
Simply put, John Barbour has led an extraordinary life. And, I think most importantly, he gave a voice to many people, especially through Real People and his talk show, who otherwise would not have been heard. John’s career is one of being uncompromising and seeking to promote understanding and truth. That is an accomplishment in itself.
John returns to Parallax Views to tell some great stories from his fascinating life including:
– Filming a scene with Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner, for the 70s TV movie Pray for the Wildcats.
– Being taken to court by a movie producer over his negative review of the Charlton Heston-starring dystopian sci-fi flick Soylent Green in case that went all the way to the Supreme Court!
– The hustle of Hollywood, the late night talk show host Jack Paar, and John’s experience with Johnny Carson after the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy
– How his talk show AM Los Angeles came about because of latino protests; being the first show in the Los Angeles talk show world to take phone calls
– John’s thoughts on the Fairness Doctrine; butting heads with TV station managers; some talk about the FCC
– John’s experience interviewing Ronald Reagan, during his days as a California governor before becoming U.S. President, and his impression of Reagan as an empty suit; the tough question John asked Reagan and how Reagan got away with interviewing Reagan despite refusing Reagan’s demand of being given pre-planned questions
– Interviewing labor leader Cesar Chavez and how Chavez helped John get back at his station manager
– The story of when John interviewed Jane Fonda at the height of her antiwar activism during the Vietnam conflict; how John and Jane became friends after a very interesting pre-show conversation where John, who was sympathetic to her antiwar views, tried to demonstrate that perhaps the actress should try a different approach to convincing the American public to question the Vietnam War