Author Mathew Klickstein looks back on Nickelodeon’s ‘Golden Age’

Budnick (Danny Cooksey), Donkey Lips (Michael Bower) and Dina (Heidi Lucas) pal around on "Salute Your Shorts," a show that almost never was. Courtesy Heidi Lucas
Budnick (Danny Cooksey), Donkey Lips (Michael Bower) and Dina (Heidi Lucas) pal around on “Salute Your Shorts,” a show that almost never was.
Courtesy Heidi Lucas

Most kids watch Nickelodeon strictly for entertainment. But Mathew Klickstein wasn’t most kids.

“I was just always very engaged in what was going on behind the scenes,” says the author of the new SLIMED: An Oral History of Nickelodeon’s Golden Age. “I was almost custom made to do this book.”

Growing up, Klickstein was glued to his TV for now-cult-classics like “Hey Dude” and “Salute Your Shorts.” His passion for what he calls the “golden age of Nickelodeon” — roughly 1983-1995 — inspired him to “jump through a lot of hoops” to score interviews with some of his favorite TV stars of yore. Now, he even counts many of them, like Marc Summers, friends.

Ironically, Klickstein doesn’t watch any television these days, as he thinks the quality has gone downhill since his favorite Nick shows were on.

“You could tell immediately that you were watching Nick,” he says. “[Their shows] looked different. They were doing something they just can’t do now.”

But not all of his feelings about TV have changed.

“I’ve given up in trying to pretend: My favorite shows were ‘Pete and Pete’ and ‘Ren and Stimpy’ then, and they’re ‘Pete and Pete’ and ‘Ren and Stimpy’ now.”

 

5 things you didn’t know about your favorite Nick shows

 

There wasn’t much hooking up behind the scenes

“At the end of the day,” Klickstein says, “A: They were just kids who were all being very monitored, and B: Most of these shows were only on for a couple seasons — they were just rerun over and over again in syndication. The Midnight Society [from “Are You Afraid of the Dark”] did all those intros in a couple weeks, and then they were done. They weren’t with each other long enough and they were always being broken up by adults.”

Kenan & Kel no longer speak

“Kel was originally Kenan,” Klickstein says, in the sense that Kel was originally the more successful of the duo. “Kel sort of shot forward and became a bit of a diva, and suddenly Kenan gets in with Bill Cosby and does ‘Fat Albert,’ now he’s on ‘SNL,’ so he’s the successful one. Kel’s doing gospel Christian music now.”

Melissa Joan Hart has a stage mom

“Melissa Joan Hart was great — she has the sexiest laugh of anybody I’ve ever talked to in my life,” Klickstein muses. “She and her mom are also very smart in that they own the property to ‘Sabrina [the Teenage Witch’] so when they sold that they got ‘Seinfeld’-type money. That’s why she’s doing well — she’s able to keep producing because she and mom have a lot of money. Everyone across the board had stories about Melissa Joan Hart’s mom Paula — terrible stories. Her name came up so often, she just was a handful for everyone, and a very strange character.”

There almost wasn’t a ‘Salute Your Shorts’

The camp show was deemed “cookie cutter” and “stereotypical” when the first pilot was written. “The original script was so bad that the VP of production, Geoffrey Darby, held it in front of the producer at the time, and said, ‘You know what I think about this?’ And threw it in the trash. … And basically they were like ‘Please give us another shot.’ And so Geoffrey Darby worked with them to completely rework the script.”

No one really liked ‘Hey Dude’

“[Geoffrey Darby] claimed that the only reason ‘Hey Dude’ got sold was because the person running Viacom at the time just really liked the title. A lot of people had a lot of complaints. People just didn’t think that the acting was that great, except for Christine Taylor. The people who developed it and created it completely forgot to bring in a level of diversity, and they were like, ‘oh, obviously we need to have a Native American kid because it’s out on the ranch.’ So they basically created the character of Danny and they went out to all these reservations to try to find a kid who could play that role, and the best they could do was find, like, a Mexican-American kid. He was pretty much the only person I couldn’t get in touch with. No one knows where he is.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Dogs are capable of feeling jealousy - U.S.…

By Curtis Skinner(Reuters) - Dogs are a man's best friend, and research released on Wednesday says canines want to keep it that way.Dogs are capable…

Local

G train riders brace for five-week shutdown

G train service will be suspended between Brooklyn and Queens between Friday, July 25, and Tuesday, Sept. 2.

International

Peaches Geldof's death was drugs-related, coroner rules

LONDON (Reuters) - The death of Peaches Geldof, the daughter of musician and Band Aid founder Bob Geldof, was drugs-related, a coroner ruled on Wednesday.The…

Local

Family, supporters gather in Brooklyn for Eric Garner…

Family members gathered on Wednesday for the funeral of Eric Garner, who died shortly after police put him in a banned chokehold as they arrested him.

Going Out

Where to go drinking on National Tequila Day…

Thursday is just close enough to the end of the week to make you envision yourself already sunning on a beach towel or lounging by…

Going Out

Things to do in NYC this week: July…

Performing arts A 70’s Summer Night Friday, 6:30 p.m. The Green Building 452 Union St., Gowanus $35, 347-529-6473 Party like it’s summer in the 1970s…

Going Out

5 must-try dishes at Edible Manhattan's Good Beer

Rooting out the exotic amid the New York City bar scene is noble quest. But if you’d like to have it all come to you,…

Books

Art imitates life (almost) in David Shapiro's new…

David Shapiro talks about his book, "You're Not Much Use To Anyone."

NFL

Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.

MLB

Brandon McCarthy finds his calling on Twitter

Yankees starter Brandon McCarthy joined Twitter three year ago for the same reason many people do: to get news quickly.

Sports

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Fantasy football: Johnny Manziel could give your running…

Fantasy football: Johnny Manziel could give your running game a boost

Food

Recharge with a post-workout smoothie from Nicky Hilton

Some people can roll out of bed right as their alarm goes off. And that alarm isn’t set for 20 minutes before they have to…

Education

Colleges are increasingly embracing the concept of gender-neutral…

  Northwestern University recently made headlines after announcing that it would be installing two gender-neutral bathrooms in the university's student center. “These are two gender-open…

Career

How to prepare to interview for your dream…

    Congratulations! You landed a job interview at your dream company! A lot of hard work has gone into determining which companies to apply…

Style

The shirtdress is a summer must-have

  We love throwing on our boyfriend’s shirt and a pair of jeans (no matter how much he grumbles that it’s his turn to wear the…