Remembering Andy Griffith and American regionalism with Evan Smith Rakoff:
The evening of September 23, 2012, during the “In Memoriam” section of the Primetime Emmy Awards telecast, we witnessed an industrial acknowledgement of the importance of Andy Griffith, who passed away less than three months prior. In the planning of the broadcast, there was contention over how many seconds of screen time to dedicate to the actor, with dozens of other well-respected recently dead to celebrate, including Harry Morgan, Dick Clark, Don Cornelius, Phyllis Diller, Sherman Hemsley, Celeste Holm, Ben Gazzara, Ernest Borgnine, Mike Wallace, and Andy Rooney, among others. In a tightly run awards show — banter, description, winning announcements, 13-pound statues of metal placed in the hands of the living — these things demand attention. The clock is ticking. The Andy Griffith Show opening animated on the giant screen above center stage. Ron Howard walked slowly from upstage surrounded by giant electronic displays of Andy Griffith, approached the microphone, and spoke for a full one minute and 27 seconds, over 120 words…
My coworker and friend, Evan Smith Rakoff, wrote a killer piece for LARB about Andy Griffith, grief, class, small towns in North Carolina.