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Local show kicks off third season


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From The Indiana Daily Student
Tuesday, September 20, 1994

Funny guys Joe Nickell and Barton P. Everson return to Bloomington Cable Access with "ROX" tonight. This is their third season exposing life and humor In a Midwest college town. It's a new name, but the same idea as their popular "J&B on the Rocks."

Local show kicks off third season

By Kevin Seal

In a television week of tedious season premires, it's refreshing to find one premiere that is far from ordinary. Tonight at ll p.m., a famillar show begins its third season with a new name. "ROX" formerly "J&B on the Rocks," will hit the microwave dish for a third season on Bloomington Cable Public Access (BCAT).

The renamed show is still produced by the same old J&B, who are IU grads Joe Nickell, an anthropology and English major, and Barton "Bart" P. Everson, a general studies grad. But this year those same hosts decided to remove their initials from the show's title.

"We took J&B out of the name of the show because the show's not really about the two of us, it's about the community," Nickell said.

Stylistically though, tonight's premiere doesn't make much of a departure for bartender J (Joe Nickell) and editor B (Barton P. Everson). Each half-hour episode of "ROX" is based around a theme and follows the antics and observations of J and B. Real college town folk appear as guests.

"'ROX' is a show which focuses on a community in a small town in the Midwest -- Bloomington," Nickell said. "We attempt to hold a mirror up to the community. We call it reality-based because it's based on people's lives."

Added this year to the format will be regular weekly features, such as an animation piece by Eric White and the first installment of "The Anarchist Diary" by T. Brown [sic] which will be aired.

"Tonight's show, our 61st, is all about moving; we (Nickell, Everson, and the show's Ramen Chef XY) all used to live in a house together, and now we're in different places," Nickell said.

Although he says that "ROX" is a comedy-based program about community life, he feels the show's purpose is also to address serious issues.

"TV should uplift and not simply depress people. If we address depressing subjects, we try to provide a positive viewpoint in some way. But we tend to mostly focus on subject matter that is festive," Nickell said.

One of last seasons "seriously funny" episodes got national attention for the show. "J&B Get Baked," centered around Nickell and Everson smoking marijuana. New York shock-jock Howard Stern played a sound bite from the episode, and an MTV executive heard it, he then contacted BCAT for a copy of the tape. Last month, a piece of that show was featured in MTV's "The Straight Dope," a news special dealing with illicit drug use and the debate surrounding the legalization of marijuana.

"(The Straight Dope") was very well done, especially considering it was on MTV," Nickell said, who is currently pursuing graduate work at IU in the department of education.

"MTV has to cater to its advertisers, and that was pretty bold of them to broadcast a program that brought into light the question of drug legalization. It's not something you hear about all the time in the media," he said.

XY, who is married to Editor B, is a frequent guest on "ROX." She was an intern at MTV this summer, the result of the work she did on one of last year's episodes.

"I did a segment last year called 'Dumpster Diving' that I entered in the American College Video Contest," Paxson said. "I won Honorable Mention, which led to the internship."

This year, the contest is much bigger: The grand prize shot up from $500 to $5,000.

Nickell and Everson also got into the MTV act; they produced the video introduction to that contest.

New to the show this year is a real budget. Nickell and Everson have invoked the support of Daisybrain Productions, the facility where post-production is done on the show.

"We recently quit our day jobs, which makes for a big difference," Everson said. "Now 'ROX' is our full-time occupation."

With the budget taken care of for now, J and B feel the next hurdle could be becoming more accessible to the viewers. They feel stymied that their show cannot be seen by many of their kin, IU students.

"Most of the students won't be able to see tonight's 'ROX,' because the campus cable system doesn't offer BCAT. That makes no sense to me whatsoever. If (university officials) want to foster better town-campus relations, they should let the students see community television," Everson said.

For those who are 21 and can attend tonight's launch party at the Blubird, it is hosted by comedian-emcee Eloid. Local bands El Nino and Chiba Dowa will perform. The season premiere of "ROX" will be shown between sets.

"Chiba Dowa is known for their wild stage act," Nickell said. "They've been known to empty out boxes full of crickets into the audience. They're definitely one of our favorite bands in town; perfect to go along with our show."

Season premiere party for "ROX," starts 9:30 p.m. tonight at The Bluebird, 216 N. Walnut with complimentary pizza.

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