50 YEARS AGO
Kevin Butler points out: "WPIX TV 11's Three Stooges Funhouse (hosted by 'Officer Joe' Bolton) was nominated for a New York City Emmy back in May of 1959.
"The NYC Emmys was held at the Zigfeild Theater on May 6th, these awards were given out to the TV programs that aired in the NYC area from January 1, 1958 to February 28, 1959. Three Stooges Funhouse lost out to WRCA TV 4's Hi Mom which was then hosted by the series first host/performer and instructor Shari Lewis. Ms. Lewis also won an emmy for 'Most Outstanding Female Personality.'
"The other NYC based kid's TV show that was nominated but lost out to Hi Mom was WCBS TV 2's Young Audiences. Ironically, Hi Mom was nominated for 'Most Outstanding Live Local Program' but lost out to WNTA Channel 13's Open End hosted by David Suskind."
TUESDAY STUFF Photographer Brad Elterman has posted some luscious photos taken at rock star parties in the 1970s and '80s. Click on the photos to get a behind the scenes story about the picture. Like the picture enough and you can buy a print. Groovy! (Thanks to Jay Blotcher.)
Mark Evanier is collecting comics - for Len Wein that is. The famed comic book scribe lost all of his possessions in a home fire so comic collectors from all over are donating their copies of Len's books to restore his collection.
NEW ZOO WHA...????
Thanks to Justin Kaplowitz for pointing this one out - remember the outtake of Freddy the Frog and Charley the Owl from The New Zoo Review having a sexual romp? If you don't here it is:
Think that's bad, look at a segment that actually aired. Ick!
TV OR NOT TV
Did you hear about Time Warner testing a draconian new internet pricing tier scheme? They backed down Thursday after encountering an uproar from customers down South but it sounds like a temporary victory as TW plans to "educate" their customers on how much bandwidth they actually use to assuage their fears about the inevitable measured use system of the future. Jerks.
Bob Huggins has good news for lovers of 1950's kid shows: "I was reading your page on the early science fiction series Johnny Jupiter and wanted to let you know that an episode from this rare-to-see series has surfaced on DVD. The episode is from the second incarnation of the series on ABC (with Wright King) and appears on Mill Creek Entertainment’s Sci-Fi TV: 150 episodes, a compilation of public domain science fiction shows and movie serials. This is really a fun collection and includes a number of rare shows and unsold pilots. The episode on this set includes appearances by Reta Shaw (The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and tons of television appearances) and Ross Martin in a false beard that would serve as a precursor of sorts to his 'man of many disguises' role as “Artemus Gordon” in The Wild Wild West. Star Wright King was about 30 years of age when he made this, but looks like he’s about 16. Commercials for M&M’s candies are included in this episode which runs over 29 minutes and looks to be complete."
NEW DVD REVIEW Lookoffers a unique frame of reference - the entire film was shot from the perspective of surveillance cameras, the point being we are captured hundreds of times on a daily basis by the ubiquitous eyes in the skies, those unnoticed silent watchers embedded in buildings.
What could have been just a neat gimmick becomes an extremely effective storytelling tool. Couple that with a robust, lean script and some incredibly naturalistic performances and you've got one hell of a film.
Writer / director Adam Rifkin exposes "unwitting exhibitionists" who, because they don't see the big picture the passive cameras capture, become unwitting pawns plunged into desperate circumstances by treacherous temptations and life's random events. It may take a while to get into the groove but once this joint gets underway it draws you along into its disturbing, voyeuristic odyssey.
It's not all heavy. Part Clerks, part No Country for Old Men, this is one of the most invigorating, engrossing movies I've seen in a long time - a devastating portrait of seriously flawed individuals caught seemingly unnoticed in their all too public malfeasance.
There's a damn good reason why this film racked up remarkable reviews from hard to please critics and walked away with numerous film festival awards. Look is a slow boiling pot right up until the abrupt ending - a harsh disconnect with an unconscionable lack of resolution. But then, that's life, eh?
This is one must see motion picture - the DVD offers a behind the scenes peak, an audio commentary with director Rifkin and others, deleted scenes, outtakes and more.
THE WAY IT WAS
A. Gray in Tullahoma, TN writes: "I just wanted to say what an absolute thrill it was running across your site. TV is just not what it used to be. In fact, I never even turn the set on anymore. With hundreds of channels to choose from and the network line-ups, it’s just all crap now. Too much serious natured or reality crap. Overly scripted and filmed to perfection with no evidence of human frailty. Very sterile. Overly edited and weak in material. Maybe it has just all been done now and we are grasping at straws.
"In the 1950’s the creative juices were flowing in an infant medium and there was a lot of testing of the waters to see what the public would go for. Basically a televised version of radio formats. But once the public could actually see the actors, a newer, more realistic venture started to take shape and by the mid 1960’s it was just red hot and everybody sat home at night to catch their favorite shows. Things were less overly scripted in those days and less serious. Especially the 1960’s. Gritty humor and variety hours dominated the airwaves and antennas hummed outside every house.
"America was weaning itself off the Pabulum and getting less hypocritical. You can say those things in your own home or to everyone you meet but by God you’d better not say it on TV! Real life topics were actually discussed and comedy was getting rawer. Still very innocent by today’s standards but rather shocking in those days, “Did they really say that? How did they get away with that?” But you just died laughing. I can remember hurrying home so you could watch certain shows. A family life was centered around the TV. For each family it was a different taste, but in our family it was always the comedy or variety shows. Especially Carol Burnett. We NEVER missed Carol Burnett or Ed Sullivan. Flip Wilson and Laugh-in. The world STOPPED for Laugh-in! The shows were funnier because they really didn’t over edit them. They were more loosely basted and allowed you to see bloopers or things not quite going as planned. The actors laughed along with the audience. That doesn’t happen now. An actor wouldn’t be caught dead airing a blooper. But that’s what made it so much fun! They were real people and you got to know them in your living room every week. They were family friends and not a “STAR” that couldn’t be touched. They were like your zany next door neighbor or crazy uncle.
"TV was truly in its prime by 1966. That lasted until and sort of died off in the late 1970’s. It got trite with tons of spin-offs and watered down hokey shows. Any time a certain format was really good, 8 different types of shows tried to cash in on the same format destroying the format all together – complete with the originating show. The 1980’s hold such a fascination with people and they remember those shows. That’s pretty sad because they were nothing like the shows of the 1960’s and early 1970’s.
"Once cable was introduced it really fell apart. When you had just the networks there was a drive and a passion, as well as competition, to make the shows bigger, bolder and better to attract the viewing audience. Now things can be as mediocre as necessary because there’s so much channel hopping. Of course if the president was on all 3 networks, your evening was ruined. LOL! I was a child in the 1960’s so I look back very fondly to those colorful presentations. Color……hmmmmm.
"My partner is 14 years younger than I so he really can’t grasp what it was like then. The old rerun shows I watch, the humor doesn’t have the shock value as today so he just doesn’t get it. The sensory is numbed by the blatant display available now that was only hinted at and slid by the sensors back then. Color was another thing. He was astounded to find out not all people owned color sets. They were expensive!! A lot of the shows were still in black and white. The “Spectaculars” or variety shows were in color. You didn’t have cable either. You had an antenna and it depended on the weather as to what reception you got. It wasn’t crystal clear like it is today. And if there were a thunder storm, you unplugged the TV all together and watched home movies on a projector or played board games that night. Lightening could strike the antenna. And it did at our neighbor’s house and caught their house on fire!
"I grew up in a very typical neighborhood straight out of the Monkees song “Pleasant Valley Sunday.” They were all 1950’s ranchers and looked a lot a like. Dad was taking care of the lawn and Mom was making dinner or Dad grilled out. The new innovation was that the antenna wires were ran in behind the walls in each room of the house. That’s the way the house was built. Each room had a wall outlet with 3 little prongs. You attached an antenna wire with a 3 prong plug to the TV and plugged it into the wall. The antenna wire ran up to the attic and out the gable vent and attached to the antenna. Basically during a thunderstorm you wanted to protect the TV from lightening blowing it out. One evening, lightening struck the neighbors antenna and it ran down the wires in behind the walls and caught the walls on fire. It was a direct hit.
"Our color set came into being due to the man landing on the moon. I remember that VERY well! There was much advertising and hoopla about it. Dad was all excited about it and just knew that since it was a spectacular event, it would be broadcast in color. We only had a black and white set. We would go to my Aunt’s house to watch the color programs as she had a color set. Dad found this to be frivolous. A color set was an unwarranted expense. Mother wanted one to watch her programs in color and he made fun of her because she wanted to watch sappy soap operas in color – NOTHING DOING! My how the tables turned in 1969! DAD wanted a color set. He could watch Monday Night Football in color. I remember very well the advertisements “In Living Color.” We never saw it.
"My mother wanted to surprise my father with a new color set and antenna for the moon landing. She went to the local TV store. They always had them displayed on the floor. She picked out the color set she wanted and had them deliver it. When it arrived, it arrived in 6 boxes – UNASSEMBLED!! Not the floor model but a “put it together yourself” type of deal. She had no clue. I remember there being a large cardboard box filled with vacuum tubes to install in the chassis. I remember Dad cussing her out, cussing me out and anybody else that got in his way while he was trying to put that together. Of course it lasted nearly 20 years before it finally died. After that, the lord grand “Poo-pah” depicted which shows would be watched in color. Mother and I were relegated to the bedroom to watch the old black and white set. Whatever DAD wanted to watch in color is what was watched on the color set. By God he paid for it and HE would decide what was watched on that color set! It was a very big deal in those days. Now, we can’t even imagine buying a black and white set. They just aren’t around at all. A lot of movies were still in black and white!
"Next was a MOTORIZED antenna! How cool! Of course you had to run power to the motor at the base of the antenna pole which was mounted on the roof. Again, more cussing as Dad installed a new wiring circuit. A large box with a round dial with North, East, South and West printed on it adorned the top of the TV. You would turn the dial and it would cause the motor to correspond on the roof and rotate the antenna. It really was helpful and did fine tune the broadcast. Before he got the motor hooked up on the night of the landing I can still hear him on top of the roof with my Mother sticking her head out of the window, “HOW ABOUT NOW SHIRL?” “NO!! IT’S STILL A LITTLE FUZZY!! MOVE IT TO THE LEFT!! – THAT’S IT!! HOLD IT!”
"A newly assembled color TV. A newly assembled and mounted antenna – it was broadcast in black and white! I thought Daddy was going to get a plane ticket and pay the president of the network a personal visit with boxing gloves on! OH that man was enraged! “BLACK AND WHITE!!? *$&#*) *%&*( *#@^@^&%^!!!!!!!!!!”
"Of course color now made Laugh-In fabulous! But, as a kid I was sent to my room for bed as soon as I heard that infamous opening, “Get ready America…..Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In!” “GO TO BED RIGHT NOW!!” I might see Goldie Hawn dancing in her bikini and that was trash, trash, trash for a young boy. The only time I got to watch Laugh-In was when my parents went to the movies or were at a cocktail party or something and I had a baby sitter. I didn’t really get to watch it in full episodes until I was grown. It was naughty! That show was for Mommies and Daddies only! The comedy skits were okay but their format was never the same. When they did the “Quickies” was usually when all the bikini dancing went on with all the painted stuff of their bodies. It never came in the same place in the show each week which is one of the things that made it a hit. It wasn’t consistent. So I was sent to bed so I didn’t see the naked bodies on screen. Like we didn’t see them on the beach in Florida! DUH!
"It was such a magical time with all of the world’s greatest performers. They originated their characters. Some in Vaudeville and had tramped through Vaudeville, radio and now TV. There will never be a bunch like that again. There will never be another innocent time like that again. Well… the 1960’s weren’t so innocent by the 1950’s standards of living but still very mild and tame by today’s standards. It was just a wonderful time. Thanks for keeping those memories alive."
They finally found Phil Spector guilty! He's pulled guns on more women than most guys have pulled dick on. "Spector's young wife, Rachelle, sobbed as the decision was announced." It's called crying all the way to the bank...
Showtime has renewed The Tudors for a fourth and final season - great news, what a show!
Everyone loves The Carol Burnett Show and what could be funnier than outtakes from that program? I've thrown this one up before but it's just too hilarious to watch Vicki Lawrence breaking up Carol in a Family sketch.
Watched Milk last night - great movie but not as good as the documentary The Times of Harvey Milk which did a remarkable job of reflecting that era, helped no doubt because it was made in 1983.
Speaking of outtakes here are some outrageous game show idiots.
SEE FOR YOURSELF
Bob Bergen - the voice of Porky Pig and other cartoon classics - has a one man show coming to New York April 22 & 23 at Don't Tell Mama and you're invited. This is not to be missed - from what I hear it's a very enjoyable evening.
Offered without comment:
I saw a funny editorial cartoon the other day - doctors are preparing to operate on a guy and one of the technicians whispers to the patient, "I hope he fails!"