Rich Heldenfels
Beacon Journal popular culture writer

Art Cullison, the “amusement writer” for the Beacon Journal from 1950 to 1959, died Thursday in a nursing home in Erlanger, Ky. The graduate of Garfield High School and the University of Akron was 92.

Cullison, who filled a variety of other posts during his 36 years at this newspaper, wrote about entertainment when TV was new and the beat was wide. Besides television, he told me once, “I was doing movies and legitimate theater, and I would drop in on the nightclubs.”

He was also witness to a growing new medium — he came to the Beacon Journal in 1949, two years after Northeast Ohio got its first television station — and covered local broadcasting events like telecasts of the Indians’ World Series run in 1954 and the first telecast of golf in Akron, the old Rubber City Open tournament that same year.

Cullison was at times skeptical of TV’s potential. With the Rubber City Open, he said, “You wouldn’t think golf would lend itself to TV. The cameras must remain in one spot and wait for the golfers to come to them. There are long intervals when players are walking down the fairway.”

But some of his comments echo across the years. When writing about the World Series, he complained that “announcers Jack Brickhouse and Russ Hodges haven’t measured up to the technical crew, mostly because they have the affliction that hits sportscasters who have grown used to describing contests on the radio — running-off-at-the-mouth disease. They talk too much, apparently under the assumption that some of their viewers can’t see the TV screen.”

As is sometimes still the case.

Calling hours will be from 1 to 2 p.m. Aug. 4 at Billow Funeral Home on North Miller Road in Fairlawn. A service will follow. Memorial contributions can be made to United Way of Summit County or Legal Aid of the Bluegrass, 104 E. Seventh St., Covington, Ky., 41011.

Goodbye, ONN. Cable’s Ohio News Network will end telecasts on Aug. 31. The Dispatch Printing Co., its owner, said that “changing news consumer habits is the primary contributor to us making this most difficult decision.”

Former Cleveland broadcaster Tom Griesdorn, general manager of ONN and of Columbus TV station WBNS, told the Columbus Dispatch that “we have been exploring options for many, many months, but finally came to the conclusion that there is no viable business model moving forward.” ONN began in 1997 but had trouble getting traction with viewers, not least because of a long struggle to get seen on Time Warner Cable systems in Ohio. Time Warner contended there was limited interest; it was also exploring doing its own news for its Ohio cities at the time.

In 1999, the Dispatch threatened to yank WBNS from Time Warner if the cable company did not put ONN in its standard cable tier. When the smoke cleared, Time Warner agreed to carry ONN — but only in its digital tier, which is not available to all subscribers. At the time, a little more than half of Time Warner’s subscribers could get digital, and a smaller fraction paid for it.

ONN trumpeted its addition to Time Warner’s Akron area system late in 2000 with a week of locally tied stories, but most subscribers did not see them; the operation was on Channel 119. More recently, it has been on Channel 362, clustered with other news channels.

CBS shake-up. Norah O’Donnell, chief White House correspondent for CBS News, is leaving that beat to become co-host of CBS This Morning in the fall. She will join Charlie Rose and Gayle King, while Erica Hill is moved out to make room for O’Donnell. Hill was reportedly the last holdover from CBS’ previous morning effort, The Early Show.

You may also know O’Donnell as “principal substitute anchor” on CBS’ Face the Nation, or from an earlier stint at NBC News, including work for MSNBC and the Today show.

Colorado and pop culture. As was mentioned in the wake of the Colorado shootings, Warner Bros. pulled a trailer for the movie Gangster Squad that included a scene of shootings in a movie theater. Now the movie itself has been postponed from a Sept. 7 premiere until January 2013, according to the Warner website. The movie will also be reworked, according to EW.com and the Hollywood Reporter online. The question is how to change it, and how to reassemble the cast (including Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin and Sean Penn) for any new scenes.

At the same time, DC Comics has asked retailers to postpone the official release of the latest issue of Batman Incorporated from this week until Aug. 22 (although posters on DC’s website indicated that some stores and customers were able to get the issue before the postponement). TMZ.com reported that DC thought some content, including panels of a teacher pointing a gun at students, would seem insensitive in the wake of Colorado.

Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including in the HeldenFiles Online blog, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Twitter (@rheldenfels) and Facebook. You can reach him at 330-996-3582 or rheldenfels@thebeaconjournal.com.