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Act One: 29

This American Life contributor David Rakoff, who swore off TV in college, returns to it in dramatic fashion: He attempts to watch the same amount of television as the average American—29 hours in one week. David is author, most recently, of the book Don't Get Too Comfortable.

Act One: Take My Break, Please

Charlie Brill and Mitzi McCall were a comedy duo back in the mid-1960s, playing clubs around Los Angeles, when their agent called to tell them he'd landed them the gig of a lifetime: They were going to be on The Ed Sullivan Show. The only problem was that their performance was a total fiasco, for a bunch of reasons, including one they never saw coming.

Act Three: Girls In Need Of A Safer Time

Robin Epstein talks about her old job, as producer and chief question writer on a game show for teen-age girls called Plugged In. It was one of the first shows to air on the Oxygen network, the TV channel for women created by Oprah Winfrey. Robin had hoped that the show could serve as a role model for young women, showing smart teen girls answering tough questions.

Prologue

David Iserson tried to lay low in junior high, staying out of sight to keep from getting teased and bullied. But then he starred in a local TV commercial for his father's furniture store, and all of a sudden everyone knew about him...in a bad way.

Act One: Thinking Inside The Box

David Wilcox tells the story of how his mother, who was dying of lung cancer, made a short videotape for his sister, who is severely developmentally disabled. She hoped the tape would become a daily part of her daughter's life, like the other music and movies she liked to play, that she would watch it and remember her mother.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks to Anthony Swofford, a former marine sniper and author of the Gulf War memoir Jarhead. He explains what he's seeing when he watches this new war with Iraq on television.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks with Jane Espenson—who's written for the TV shows Battlestar Galactica and Gilmore Girls—and with J.J. Abrams—one of the creators of the hit shows Lost, Alias, and Felicity—about how we might be in the midst of another Golden Age of television.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks with Bennett Miller and Matt Futterman about a campaign for student government that changed the way student elections were done in Mamaroneck High School back in 1985. Futterman, in the waning days of his campaign, tried a radical tactic: A TV ad.

Act One: I, Danny

In this special half-hour story produced by Jay Allison as part of his Life Stories series, Dan Gediman tracks down the original Zoom cast members to find out what his life would've been like if he had achieved his childhood dream of being on Zoom.

Act One

Allison Silverman reports on This Is Your Life, a show from the 1950s where unsuspecting—and often famous—audience members would have their biographies created on the spot for 40 million viewers. But is that really a present you'd want to receive? Allison is an Emmy Award-winning writer who has worked on The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and Late Night with Conan O'Brien.