The Watchman: MeTV Lands Castaway, CNN Goes Full Nelson

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale about a guy getting to speak with a woman he—along with thousands of other kids—may have had a wee crush on as a boy. 

Yes, Dawn Wells, forever Gilligan’s Island’s perkily pulchritudinous Mary Ann in The Watchman’s mind, was talking about her new role as brand ambassador for classic hits network MeTV. 

“I surf the channels a lot, and there’s an awful lot of programing you don’t want your kids to see,” she said. “I really believe in MeTV.” 

Its lineup includes Bonanza, Cheers and, yes, Gilligan’s Island. Wells will tour the country, meeting with affiliates and chatting up MeTV at events. 

Her viewing tastes include The Good Wife, Game of Thrones and football. “The Rams are back!” she gushed, mentioning the time then-Rams QB Roman Gabriel played a head-hunting native on Gilligan. “We [Los Angeles] almost got the Raiders. We almost got San Diego. But we got the Rams, and that tickles me.” 

The classically trained actress doesn’t have a favorite Gilligan episode (uh, what about that one where they nearly got off the island, until Gilligan mucked up the plan?), but liked it any time the show slipped into dream sequences and let her play other characters. “The plots were pretty ridiculous,” Wells conceded. “But so was The Three Stooges.” 

Speaking of dream sequences, who remembers when wisecracking alien ALF dreamed he was on Gilligan’s Island, and asked Mary Ann to whip him up a coconut cream pie? 

ALF’s catchphrase on the NBC comedy was, of course, “Hey Willie!” and—steering this TV time machine back to present day—that’s the title of a new program on CNN digital channel Great Big Story. CNN President Jeff Zucker called the Willie Nelson series “a collection of life advice dispensed by one of the greatest storytellers alive.” 

Walking with a cane due to recent knee surgery, JZ described Great Big Story’s yarns as, “the awesome, the untold, the flat-out amazing.” 

Pretty flat-out amazing were those s’mores at its upfront shindig, before they sent us on our way with handmade marshmallows and tiny bottles of small-batch bourbon. Toss in a couple coconuts, and Mary Ann can whip us up something tasty. 

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.