Francke Passes Column Baton to Grennan

Wrapping Up Six Decades

If column-writing was a relay, I’d be passing the Cold Cream baton to Bill Grennan and wishing him as long a run as I’ve had—roughly six decades and countless other columns, long before this one.

Few in the theater community need to be told about Bill’s credentials: drama degrees from both Creighton and the University of Nebraska at Omaha plus praised performances on their stages and most of the others in the metro area.

Bill recently passed up the lead role in boom at the Omaha Community Playhouse to take a paid role in Florida and earn his Equity card. He’s immersed in theater here and armed with plenty of expertise. His only problem? The same one any theater writer faces, but multiplied by his many connections: not letting friendships overly influence his observations.

He inherits Cold Cream, a column named before I began writing it a few years ago. I named the first column I wrote in 1953-54—“Lets Talk Lynx.” It wasn’t about wildlife, though in memory that senior h.s. year writing about the Abraham Lincoln Lynx seemed wild enough.

Before long, I was writing a column at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, progressing through Zen Buddhist and Beatnik phases. Later columns appeared in the Council Bluffs Nonpareil, the Sun Newspapers of Omaha (working for “the other Warren,” as Mr. Buffett is known in my family) and various weekly predecessors of the Reader.

For five or six years, I doubled the pleasure by doing media columns in print while commenting on local journalism for WOWT-TV. It was called “Watching the Watchdogs,” and under Steve Murphy, then Channel 6 news director, I won the rare freedom to praise rival stations and criticize his station.

I was only censored once by a morning producer and Murphy quickly put a stop to that and aired my commentary on the five o’clock newscast.

John Heaston, as publisher and editor of the Reader, has been a comparably generous host of Cold Cream. I’ve promised to keep writing a few theater features and reviews, but begged off the weekly column to free more time for larger projects.

At age 76, it’s about time to get cracking on work that runs longer than 400 words. One more note to Bill Grennan: the last time I turned a column over to another writer, it was the late great Bob Reilly, who filled in while I was teaching in Europe. So, young William, you’re in good company with another Creighton man.


Cold Cream looks at theater in the metro area. Email information to



posted at 04:45 pm
on Thursday, December 27th, 2012


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