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NIPSEY
Nipsey Russell was one of those comedians that I don't think was truly appreciated by the TV audience. He was popular in the 1970s when the daytime TV landscape was dotted with talk shows and game shows because he was attractive and genuinely funny; a sharp, quick wit who earned the title of the poet laureate of television. He was a second banana on the short-lived CBS sitcom Barefoot in the Park in 1970 and a semi-regular on Car 54 Where Are You? a decade earlier.

Here's Nipsey and the infamous Mantan Moreland in a comedy bit from a 1955 film.

Nipsey appeared on The Hollywood Palace in 1968 when host Sammy Davis. Jr. introduced him as the guy who wrote many of his early jokes.

Finally a bit from Dick Clark Live, a Wednesday night variety hour that lasted a short time in 1978.

A rhyme from Nipsey to start or close your day.

Monday, August 30, 2010 - 9:11am
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ON A HAPPIER NOTE
Here's a peppy 1978 commercial for Alka Seltzer with Timmie Rogers & Sammy Davis, Jr.

Kevin Butler adds this about an upcoming convention: Also slated to appear at The Friends Of Old Time Radio Convention in Newark this coming October are - Former Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeer Lonnie Burr; Frank Buxton the co-host of ABC and Jules Powers' kid's newsmagazine Discovery; Will Hutchins (TV's Sugarfoot and Dagwood Bumstead); Cartoonist Irwin Hasen (the co-creator of the Dondi comic strips); Dick Heatherton, actor/singer/ bandleader/radio & TV announcer and the son of 'The Merry Mailman' Ray Heatherton; Bill Britten, actor/circus clown/kid's TV host & performer (Jolly Gene & His Fun Machine, Time For Fun / The Johnny Jellybean Show, Wonderama, and WPIX TV 11's Bozo The Clown).

Saturday, August 28, 2010 - 11:17am
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NEW SITE
Diane Werts writes: TVWorthWatching.com has relaunched!
There's now a lot more content -- more than a dozen columnists, embedded video, links to tons of other TV fun. And it's redesigned with a cleaner look and improved navigation. With the expansion, I'm now serving as managing editor, as David Bianculli and I continue to build TVWorthWatching.com into the web's premier home for lovers of not just TV, but -- well, you know . . . TV worth watching. (In other words, "Jersey Shore"-free zone!) Take a look, tell your friends, and let us know what you think.

Werts & Bianculli are two of my very favorite pop culture writers so you should definitely bookmark their new site!

This is something unusual - a tribute at the first agent to win an Emmy, Norman Brokaw, with a video montage of programs he was responsible for bringing to the screen. Look how gorgeous these titles look.

Thursday, August 26, 2010 - 8:00am
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DIGGING INTO THE PAST
In this You Tube video a fellow has restored a 1957 television set, the first with a "practical" remote control, using technology that was still the standard in the 1980s. This video lets you watch a bit from The Honeymooners on that gorgeous 1957 set. Wish I had one, I wonder how many of these 1950's TV sets are still in use?

Speaking of Gleason, here's "The Great One" in an interview for 60 Minutes in 1984.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - 8:41am
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ANOTHER LOSS
Kevin Butler writes: Kid's TV and music history has suffered another loss. Edward Kean, former head comedy writer and songwriter of NBC TV, Roger Muir and "Buffalo Bob" Smith's Howdy Doody Show, died on Friday August 13, 2010 from complications from Emphysema. He was 85 years old and living in a nursing facility outside of West Bloomfield, Mi, a suburb of Detroit.

Kean had worked on the landmark kid's comedy/variety puppet show on NBC TV from the early 1950s until his abrupt departure in 1953. He wrote the scripts that helped to develop and shape the characters on the series. He also wrote many of the show's tunes including "Kowabonga" (based upon a expression that was exclaimed by the program's Native American tribal leader "Chief Thunderthud" played by comic/character actor/mimic/singer and puppeteer Bill Lecornec).

Kean would also collaborate on the creation of a tune with one of the show's regular performers, the late Allen Swift - together they penned "Freddie The Mistreated Teddy Bear." He was dismissed from the show in 1953 and the show's producers Roger Muir and Martin Stone hired freelance scriptwriters to create new stories and songs for the program.

The freelance writers scripts and tunes were unacceptable for the program and Howdy's ratings began to falter until Allen Swift took over as the show's second head comedy writer. (Swift would also be fired from the show in the spring of 1956 and he was replaced by Willie Gilbert and Jack Weinstock as the show's last songwriting/ comedy writing team.)

Kean would go onto other projects including working as a lounge pianist for a Detroit nightclub. I was lucky enough to correspond with Ed Kean back in the 1980s and he was kind to this young, unknown writer.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - 8:21am
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CONVENTION NEWS
Wow, I'm exhausted from working on a new project but I've finally gotten a break!

There are a couple of conventions coming up that will surely please classic TV and old time radio fans. From the press releases:

The 35th Annual Friends of Old Time Radio Convention (www.fotr.net) will take place October 21-24 2010 at the Ramada Plaza hotel in Newark, NJ. the four day event features live recreations of classic old time radio programs with all-star casts as well as memorabilia, music, panel discussions, autographs and historical presentations. The convention is a great way to meet and show appreciation for the veterans who made old time radio great as well as get to know some of the younger actors who are working to keep the tradition alive.

The invited guest list looks great so far. I know everyone will enjoy seeing the great Simon Jones ("Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy") again. Shirley Mitchell (Lelia Ransom on Gildersleeve), New York area television host Chuck McCann, WXYZ veteran Elaine Hyman ("The Lone Ranger"), ABC announcer Bill Owen and Gloria McMillan (Harriet Conklin on Our Miss Brooks) are also back for more. Local New York talk show legend Joe “Nostalgia King” Franklin will recreate his show live on stage, bringing his own surprises guests along. Another great returning guest is Ivan Curry, star of “Bobby Benson and the B-Bar B Riders” on old time radio. The guest list changes frequently, so keep checking the website for updates.

Thursday - Sunday programs include an afternoon program that consists of a recreation, panel discussions and dealer rooms. The evening program features a buffet dinner in which there is at least one special guest at each table and all-star recreations. It's a great way to socialize with the stars as well as see them perform. On Sunday, there is a buffet breakfast and panel with remaining guests.

Shows scheduled for recreation this year include The Great Gildersleeve, The Adventures of Sam Spade, The First Nighter, Fibber McGee & Molly, Columbia Workshop, Screen Guild Theater and The Adventures of Superman.

Full information on the convention including room rates (historically low right now at $75/AAA) and registration information for the convention itself is available at www.fotr.net.

Please contact Sean Dougherty, publicity coordinator, at 201-739-2541 or SeanDD@optonline.net <mailto:SeanDD@optonline.net> or @doughertysean on Twitter, or The Friends of Old Time Radio Convention on Facebook for more information.

And then there's this:

Hey kids! What time is it? It's time for the 5th Annual Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention! This year's dates are September 23 - 25, 2010

IMPORTANT: If you are planning to stay the night or multiple nights, the hotel sold out of hotel rooms at the convention rate. After a meeting with the hotel staff, they were able to add additional rooms at the discounted convention rate. But they are VERY limited so if you have not booked your room yet, do so now.

This year's celebrity guests include:
VAN WILLIAMS (Surfside 6, The Green Hornet)
ROY THINNES (The Invaders)
DAWN WELLS (Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island)
MARK GODDARD (Johnny Ringo, Lost in Space)
GERI REISCHL (Jan Brady on The Brady Bunch Hour)
ED NELSON (Peyton Place and tons of TV and Roger Corman films)
WILL HUTCHINS (Sugarfoot, Hey, Landlord, Blondie)
MARSHA HUNT (Rare appearance of Hollywood actress
of motion pictures and television!)
This will be the first autographing appearance for Van Williams and Roy Thinnes in twenty years! This will be a convention exclusive and we highly doubt they will be appearing at any other conventions in the nearby future!

PANELS AND PRESENTATIONS
World premiere screening of original documentaries!
"The History of The Lone Ranger" hosted by Fran Striker, Jr.
A Retrospective Look at The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Old Time Radio Recreation on Stage!
The Screen Career of Harry Langdon
The History of Astounding Science Fiction Magazine (1930-1960)
A History of the Enchanted Forest
I'll Take My Buster Keaton Rare, Please
A Look Back at Vox Pop
Charity Auction to Benefit the St. Jude Children's Hospital
Drive-In Movie Theater on Friday Night (starts at sunset)
Restoring Motion Pictures from Archival Prints

ON DISPLAY!
The original 1966 Chrysler Imperial Black Beauty from the Green Hornet TV series! There were only two made and one of them resides in a museum in California. The other is owned by a private collector who fully restored the vehicle and will have it on display at the convention. (This is not a replica!) The new Green Hornet movie due for release this December will be using a similar car (also a 1966 Chrysler Imperial) so check out the car that was inspired for the major motion picture!

MOVIE ROOM RUNS 24 HOURS A DAY
1956 Bob Hope Christmas Special with Mickey Mantle
The unseen version of Parson Us (1931) with Laurel and Hardy
Unaired TV Pilots
The City That Never Sleeps (rare 1953 film noir)
plus many other rare films!

HOUSE OF WAX (1953)
Will be screened in 3-D! Glasses will be provided.

Sounds like fun, huh?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - 6:36am
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I'M STILL ON DEADLINE SO A RERUN
Here's another in my series of conversations with show biz folks, this time with musical director Tim Fowlar. In this excerpt from a phone call for a project I'm working on, Tim talks about Jackie Vernon and Tiny Tim when they were on tour in the mid-1970s with the Roy Radin Vaudeville Review - or as Tiny Tim called it, "the cavalcade of has-beens."

Radin, a notorious promoter who cobbled together stars like Milton Berle, Donald O'Connor, Frank Fontaine and Georgie Jessel, poured their drunken carcasses on to a bus, and put on shows in VFW halls and school auditoriums all over the northeast.

Let's listen in...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010 - 7:40am
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