BLASTS FROM THE PAST
This is my favorite TV blog - Ken Levine's. He offers a great suggestion to the networks - test your pilots online.
Burger King is dumping that grotesque King character they have. I always questioned whether that was a winning campaign or not.
Doris Day has released her first album in 20 years, 'My Heart'. Ms. Day is rather reclusive and there were rumors of ill health earlier so this has to be good news. Plus I love her music.
Saturday, August 20, 2011 - 10:37am
OUR COURSENING SOCIETY THANKS TO TV
There's no better peek into that era than the syndicated game show Love Connection, a cheeky program that purposely went after the lamest possible contestants to pair up for crass, kiss-and-tell dates.
I can say that because I actually auditioned for this show as a lark in the mid-'80s. A friend of mine in LA wanted to get on a game show so I went with her and we tried out for a bunch of shows all in one day - Joker's Wild, Card Sharks, Jeopardy, one I can't remember but they wanted me to come back - and Love Connection. Would you believe it, they gave us exams for each show and the one for Joker's Wild was the most difficult - but the questions on that show were the dumbest, celebrity trivia type. Weird, the SAT test was easier.
It was clear to me from the start that Love Connection was looking for people to make fools of themselves, they were especially fond of out of work (or never worked) actors, the bilge water of LA's entertainment industry. In the era before reality TV humiliating people on the air was still a fairly new concept. Sure, games as far back as You Bet Your Life, Candid Camera and Truth or Consequences were after contestants that could make the home audience laugh, but they weren't looking for someone to publicly self-immolate or viciously attack someone else.
Love Connection changed that. They got away with it largely because host Chuck Woolery was such a affable, congenial guy, he could gently coax the contestants back to sanity. Or to battle, whichever was needed. He was frequently at a loss for words, genuinely I suspect, at some of the heated verbal exchanges even though he was / is one of the fastest wits in the game show biz. Here's a pretty good example, start this clip in the middle for the battle royale.
After Love Connection it was just a hop, skip and a jump to Cheaters.
Thursday, August 18, 2011 - 10:37am
THIS 'N' THAT
Kevin Butler writes: Wednesday September 7, 2011 will mark the 50th anniversary of the debut of the UPA Dick Tracy TV cartoon show on WPIX TV in NYC. It was on Thursday evening channel 11 aired "The Dick Tracy Cartoon Show" (or "The Dick Tracy Show") weekday evenings from 5:00 to 5:30 P.m. EST. Joe Bolton, who had already finished his stint as "Officer Joe" on "The Three Stooges Funhouse" the previous evening, was promoted to the rank of "Police Chief" and he would entertain and inform visitors to his police station with games, songs, stories, craftmaking, hobbies, informational segments and interviews with guest performers and personalities - between reruns of the Dick Tracy films. Read more about this anniversary here!
Monday, August 15, 2011 - 11:37am
BLOG RERUN: JUDGE FOR YOURSELF
Here's a 1945 Fred Allen radio broadcast from the end of World War II (with a young Frank Sinatra as guest, imagining what his career will be like in 1995) that includes a prime example of the Jack Benny - Fred Allen feud that was a highpoint of both of their careers.
A lot of ink has been spilled over the decades to try to explain Fred Allen's inability to translate to the box but I'm not sure there ever was a definitive reason. He had health problems in the fifties, that was one major factor, then there's the fickle public. Who knows, if he had lived longer than 1956 maybe he might have found the right format.
He initially tried bringing his popular radio format Allen's Alley to the tube but that was a no go. Here's part of one of Allen's TV forays called Judge For Yourself, a game show that allowed the witty host to verbally spar with the contestants. It worked for Groucho but then Groucho had that unmistakable leer that made all of his quips sound like double entendres even in the rare instances when they weren't. Then again, Judge For Yourself gets bogged down by a needlessly clumsy format.
A subsequent show, Fred Allen's Sketchbook, also fizzled so Fred Allen settled into a regular slot on the game show What's My Line in 1954 where, presumably, he could have stayed for a decade or two had he not died of a heart attack two years later.
But Fred Allen got the last word on television, "You know, television is called a new medium, and I have discovered why they call it a medium — because nothing is well done." He was vociferous in his view that TV was for, "people who haven't anything to do to watch people who can't do anything." I believe he also originally quipped what I've been saying for years: "Television isn't for watching it's for appearing on." Touche.
Sunday, August 14, 2011 - 8:32am
I don't know if there was ever a funnier TV show than You Bet Your Life - here are some outtakes from the series, a blooper reel was edited together each year. Groucho even funnier!
David Cassidy is the latest classic TV star to ask, "Where's the money?" The Partridge Family star says he only received $5,000 for all the merchandising that series generated. He was supposed to get a 15% cut. Those of us who were around back then know just how ubiquitous his face was for 5 years or more. If true, he's owed millions!
Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - 11:54am
CLASSIC TV AND OTHER STUFF
Ed Golick on Facebook noted that Etta James was rumored to be dead but is, in fact, alive.
Kevin Butler writes about the loss of another local TV legend: Sadly Chicago, Ill. kid's TV has suffered another loss. Former WGN TV Ch. 9 musical director Bob Trendler, better known to "Windy City" kids as Mr. Bob, who along with his studio band provided the music for WGN's Bozo Show, has died. Trendler spent his last years at a hospice in Ellenton, Fl. He was 99 years old.
Mr. Trendler joined WGN Radio in 1935 performing with a band. He continued working for WGN Radio until he became the musical director of WGN TV when the station first went on the air in 1948.
Trendler and the studio orchestra provided musical accompaniment for many TV shows at Ch. 9. In 1961, he began his long stint with "Bozo's Circus" performing with the studio orchestra under the name of Mr. Bob. He continued in his capacity as the show's bandleader until he retired in 1975.
Trendler would return to WGN TV in 1986 for The Bozo Show's 25th anniversary tribute which was broadcast live before a live audience at Chicago's "Medinah Temple" and WGN TV's 40th anniversary tribute which aired two years later.
USA Today has an article on what a financial behemoth Batman has become. I love the super hero movies but passed on Thor, Green Lantern, Captain America and X-Men. Do want to see Captain America tho.
Actual headline: IRS: Over 1,400 Millionaires Paid No Income Taxes In 2009. Geez, I paid a fortune and I'm dead poor!
One of my fave shows of the 1970s was The Gong Show. There was something nutty and weird about this ersatz game show, but for me it only worked because it came on at noon. The nighttime version of The Gong Show just didn't make it with me. Heck, the show was so popular at one point there was even a movie made that stiffed at the box office and has rarely been seen since. But for a sweet summer of my youth, away from home for the first time working, sitting around with my friends having lunch, laughing at The Gong Show, was a nice moment in time. I mean, what were we supposed to make of something like this?!?
Friday, August 5, 2011 - 7:44am
Unfortunately You Tube doesn't have any of those later sounds but here's Louis, Sam Butera and The Witnesses with Gia Maione from The Dean Martin Show in 1967.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011 - 8:34am
Remember the Happy Days lawsuit? This from today's news: Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on "The Dukes of Hazzard" — also known as character actor James Best of Hickory, N.C. — filed suit this week seeking back payments from Time Warner for using his image on merchandise ranging from Christmas ornaments to trash cans. Best says he supplied a dog from the pound that joined the cast in the third season and he wants 50% of the dog's royalties as well. You have to wonder how much Dukes of Hazzard merch there is out there now.
Battleship, based on the Milton Bradley game, coming to a theater near you. Hollywood really has run out of ideas. Really and truly.
One of the better cartoons of the 1980s Thunder Cats has returned on Cartoon Network with new animated adventures and the early reviews are good.
The Smurfs movie earned $36 million over the weekend.
Monday, August 1, 2011 - 9:00am
Poor Dave Chapelle is getting press for bombing on stage the other night. Funny what constitutes news these days. I wonder if he misses that 50 million dollar deal he walked away from? Turns out maybe he does - rumor is he's shopping a proposal for a new series.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011 - 11:49am
Here's something else I'll be posting on Facebook. Some time ago I shared excerpts from interviews for the book, mostly stuff I couldn't use but found interesting anyway. Here's a bit from a talk with musician extraordinary Tim Fowlar who conducted for Donald O'Connor and Robert Goulet for years and years. In 1976 and 1977 Tim and The Golddiggers spent 6 weeks touring the East coast in the crazy Roy Radin Vaudeville revue. In this clip he reminisces about "the girls" (meaning Maria & Linda and The Golddiggers), Frank Fontaine aka Crazy Guggenheim, and Ronny Spector. I swear if this book is considered to be any good I'm going to Tim to do his story. Fascinating guy!
Original cast members of the Batman TV series Adam West, Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar reunited at Comic Con in San Diego. What the heck, they have nothing else to do. I met Adam West at a professional function once. He was a bit weird. More fun was meeting George Barris next to the Batmobile he designed for the show, what a lovely gentleman he is. You can see the groovy vehicles he designed at his web site - that's ART to me!
Sunday, July 24, 2011 - 7:19am
RAT PACK GOLDDIGGERS?
Here are some of the highlights from BEYOND OUR WILDEST DREAMS:
The unusual way these young Italian-Hungarian gals from Philadelphia grew up - no milk, no meat, no sugar, no bread. Ever.
Barely out of High School, despite having been out on only a date or two, these devout Catholics joined Dean Martin's Golddiggers
What was Dean REALLY like? Was he the drunken womanizer he played on TV?
Filming the Dean Martin shows and Roasts with all the stellar guest stars - Orson Welles, Gene Kelley, Loretta Lynn, Dom DeLuise, Ronald & Nancy Reagan, Jonathan Winters, Nipsey Russell, Shirley Jones and many more.
Appearing with Dean in Las Vegas during the booming 1970s, opening night at the MGM Grand.
Working with the legendary Louis Prima on his last tour.
In Vegas and on tour they appeared with Jerry Vale, Bobby Goldsboro, Red Skelton, Steve & Eydie and others.
Missing by a few weeks being the victims of the deadliest mob hit in history.
On the road with Milton Berle, Donald O'Connor and dirty old man George Jessel in the Roy Radin Vaudeville Revue (Roy Radin was the victim in the notorious Cotton Club Murder - he was born on Friday the thirteenth, went missing on Friday the thirteenth, his body was found on Friday the thirteenth with thirteen bullet holes in him. He was also head of the Church of Satan, nothing of which the girls knew at the time, of course!).
A near death experience with Bob Hope.
And, of course, working with Frank Sinatra and Dean together for the last time they got together for more than a night or two - including dates at the Sabre Room in Chicago, The Latin Casino in Cherry Hill, NJ, and the mobbed up Westchester Premier Theatre in New York.
Excerpt coming soon!
Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - 11:59am
GREAT 1960's TV WATCHING
50th Anniversary Edition
Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - 8:29am
CLASSIC TELEVISION BLOG
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