is hands down the best site on the Web for classic TV.'
Past TV Blog Entries:
The REAL Francis Bavier (Aunt Bee) / Walter Cronkite Highlights / Joan Crawford on TV / Gas Prices and the Presidential Elections / Recasting Roles in 60s Sitcoms / Walter Murphy / Will Ferrell Old Milwaukee Beer Commercials / Classic TV Promos / Ed Wynn / Silent Star Marion Mack / Rudy Ray Moore / Natalie Wood Mystery / What I'm Watching / Auditioning For Game Shows / Louie / George Reeves Suicide / Dark Shadows / Jack Benny / Groucho / Night Gallery / TV Remakes / Little Rascals Silent Shorts / Natalie Wood's Death / Fanny Brice / Tommy Bond / Discovered George Carlin Routine / John Wayne Loved America / Kenneth Williams / Dating Game / Sunday Morning TV / 1950's The Big Show / Saturday Morning TV Memories/ Batman TV Show / Rusty Warren / LaWanda Page / Brother Dave Gardner & Jerry Clower / Nipsey Russell / Sonny & Cher Outakes / Chuck McAnn / Jackson TV Show / 1970's TV Game Show Fails / Remembering Vivian Vance / Star Trek Bloopers /William Shatner Sings on Daytime TV in the 1970s / The Great Timmie Rogers
OTHER COOL TV BLOGS:
a TV history website... its links to Amazon.com help sell TV DVDs."
the coolest, strangest, most absurd shows and peculiar tube trends ever
-- they're all part of the wallow that is TVparty!"
Five Sites! Interviews and articles... are must reads.'
too good to be true. Put together by Billy Ingram, TVparty.com has gossip,
scandal, sex, singing, dancing, action, drama and celebrities with their
'An ingenious tribute that elevates the TV past to artlike proportions.
Site guru Billy Ingram has compiled features both over-the-top and museum
worthy, blissful nostalgia for those born in the '40s or the '80s. A+
'Every decade expresses its kooky collective unconscious on the tube,
celebrated affectionately at Billy Ingram's TVparty. Ingram provides a
hilarious glimpse into the American pop psyche.'
inside scoop on all your favorite classic TV shows at TVParty.'
trends and traumas of TV's past."
After being an almost daily interaction in my life, especially since Christmas, it's a bit disconcerting but I am getting back into the groove... after also losing my computer last week. I'm working on a novel I started two years ago and I'm anxious to get back to TVparty!, mostly through the blog that I'm determined to update more often. So again, thank you for checking in, I felt I owed you an explanation.
Watch this treat from 1970, Jack Benny's 20th Anniversary Special on NBC (he had been on NBC radio until he moved to CBS in 1949 then back to NBC in 1964), Frank Sinatra is one of the guests as is Dinah Shore, who's voice went flat sometime in the sixties. On her talk show in the seventies she'd sing and my mom would cringe, she couldn't believe that someone wouldn't tell her she can't sing anymore. This is hardly the funniest Jack Benny hour but then this was the era of 'Here's Lucy' and 'Bewitched'.
Saturday, May 18, 2013 10:39am
Robert Downey Jr's haul for the first Avengers movie is tied to box office gross, as is Iron Man 3. Between the two films he's expected to net over $130 million.
The break even point for the first Avengers was 1.1 BILLION, to re-assemble the cast for a sequel that number will have to get a lot bigger. That's why Marvel is trying to get the stars back on the cheap; if they don't take drastically less than what would be expected under these circumstances the studio has threatened to re-cast roles. That's just peachy as far as Chris Hemsworth, who pays Thor, is concerned. He's not all that jazzed on the role any longer (the Thor sequel debuts in November), it's too much hassle to get into that kind of peak physical shape when he has other offers, movies where he can keep his shirt on.
In an ensemble film you can not recast characters that have been established in earlier blockbusters. Ok, Bruce Banner burned through three actors, and all them were fine, but it's The Hulk that really matters. Still, replacing Mark Ruffalo would be a mistake, he was so wonderful it didn't matter that he was a new face (and Edward Norton was a hard act to follow). Another actor playing Captain America, Iron Man or Thor? Marvel would have to re-establish the character in another stand alone film first.
No, Avengers 2 is in real trouble whether Marvel / Disney recognizes it or not. Unless they can swallow half a billion dollars (or more) in salaries alone... or they could wait four years until the actor's careers cool down and are more open to a $5 million payday.
Monday, May 13, 2013 10:09am
THERE ARE MONSTERS!
AMC's "The Walking Dead" outperformed every scripted program on television this season, including shows on CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox. That is a sea change in the business that has programmers at the legacy networks quaking.
It's official, 24 is returning to Fox in the fall for 13 episodes.
ABC is rolling out an app this fall (naturally) that will allow live streaming of their shows, that will be a first. Anne Sweeney of Disney/ABC says, "This announcement represents a defining moment in technology and distribution, as well as for our advertising and affiliate partners, as we ensure that our high-quality content is available to viewers on a variety of devices." Now create some shows I want to watch and I'll get excited.
Over at tvparty.com I have a lengthy rant (I think I was still too nice) about the so-called psychic Sylvia Browne and her monstrous behavior on TV. What kind of grief ghoul tells a person, clearly in distress, with unwielding certainty that their loved one is dead if she doesn't know that for sure? It starts out like this: For a year or two, I got bored listening to college radio and turned on afternoon TV shows to keep me company while I worked. 'Montel', 'Maury', 'Judge Judy, that kind of thing'. The television was behind me so I wasn't really watching, except when Maury got the tests back or revealed his undercover backstage stings on cheating husbands. Otherwise it was just background noise; but those times when 'psychic' Sylvia Browne appeared on 'The Montel Williams Show' I would find myself staring at the set in disbelief. She was so transparently phony I couldn't believe any credible person would lower himself to play along, but Montel did so with tremendous enthusiasm. (In all fairness he did produce some important hours on controversial subjects that other talk shows were ignoring, not that I can remember any, but still). Read the rest...
Let's go back 40 years (no, let's do!) and watch these commercials from 1973.
Sunday, May 12, 2013 11:39am
John Oliver will be taking over hosting duties on The Daily Show all summer.
The Monkees - Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork - are going out on tour this July.
Before hosting Match Game '73 Gene Rayburn was the emcee of a neat little hidden camera game show called The Amateur's Guide to Love. It only lasted a few months in 1973 but someone has posted the opening on You Tube.
Thursday, May 9, 2013 9:32am
Did you know Fawlty Towers, surely one of the funniest shows ever on either side of the pond - was remade here as a vehicle for Bea Arthur (Maude) in 1983? It was called Amanda's and it may have been a reasonable idea in theory - if you had to remake the show I suppose Bea Arthur at her peak could probably pull off a Basil Fawlty type - the result was horrible. Some of the best moments in Fawlty Towers were the hilarious battles between Basil and his shrewish wife; Amanda had no henpecked husband but instead a son and daughter-in-law. Not the same, even John Cleese noted that a female Basil defeated the entire purpose of the series. Here's what John Cleese had to say in an interview with Digital Spy: "I remember at a party I met these chaps from Viacom, who said they were working on a new Fawlty Towers. My ears pricked up at the sound of cash registers and said, 'That's wonderful, are you going to change anything?'. They said, 'Well we have changed one thing, we've written Basil out'. And that's absolutely true, they took Basil and Sybil's lines and gave them all to Bea Arthur. I always thought Peter Boyle could have played Basil well, but sadly he is no longer with us."
Nothing on the Tube from Amanda's but this brief glimpse of 2 mid-season ABC flops.
Amanda's wasn't the first time ABC tried remaking Fawlty Towers. There was a even worse attempt in 1978 - a pilot called Snavely starring Harvey Korman with Betty White as his wife. I remember seeing it and it was as awful as it sounds, the stars just didn't get it. ABC lured Korman away from The Carol Burnett Show in 1977 with the promise of a hit sitcom but audiences weren't interested in seeing the comic playing the same character week after week when The Harvey Korman Show debuted in 1978 and Snavely cemented his sitcom doom despite a few more attempts.
Don't mention the war.
There were even a few American shows that inspired UK knockoffs. For instance, our Match Game became the long-running popular game show Blankety Blanks, right down to the host's weird wand like microphone.
Thursday, May 2, 2013 9:12am
Yesterday I received a copy of an absolutely wonderful book called 'Genius Illustrated, The Life and Art of Alex Toth'. It's a miracle of a book really, an oversized tome that reprints original art pages from Toth's most exciting comic book work at something close to the actual size of the originals. How the authors, Dean Mullaney & Bruce Canwell, were able to produce such a lavish book for a retail price of $49.99 I have no idea but you can get a copy from Amazon for around $30.00.
I truly could go on and on about how magnificent this project is but what I found mildly troubling were the two instances in the book where I intersected with the story and in both cases it's told entirely wrong.
On page 297 there's a picture of myself and John Hitchcock, who I have known since what they used to call Junior High School, looking over some pages from Alex's portfolio. The caption reads: "Hitchcock and Billy Ingram surveying Alex's original art for sale during the convention." No. I never went to a comic convention with Alex, we were in his home. Here's the story, what I remember. John was visiting LA and asked me if I wanted to meet Alex Toth and I was anxious to do so. Toth had been a major influence on me as a youngster, his stories and art could not be surpassed in my estimation. I bought anything and everything where he left his mark, a single illustration in a fanzine would be enough for me to purchase it. I called Alex from a pay phone (remember those?) to get directions to his Hollywood Hills home, I was careful to write down what he said and we trundled up the hill. Alex told me where to park, and to walk to the right to find his house. But his house wasn't on the right as we soon discovered, it was to the left. When we arrived a few minutes late Alex looked me right in the eye and said something to the effect, "Young people today don't listen and can't follow simple directions." Now, again, I wrote down the directions he gave me and, at that time, I was doing artwork for the motion picture industry where a person didn't make mistakes on penalty of... I don't know, death it seemed like. So I was sure he purposely gave me the wrong directions, for whatever reason. My instinct was to say "fuck you" and walk away but I was there with John and his friend, and this was Alex Toth... and I was no stranger to temperamental artists so I let it go.
And I'm glad I did, for the couple of hours we were treated to a tour through the artist's portfolio containing many pages from some of his most seminal comic book work. What happened was, John asked if we could look through his portfolio, Alex agreed only if John could put everything back so it fit, the thing was practically bursting at the seams. So the photo in the book shouldn't have any reference to a convention or art for sale, there was nothing he was selling. After visiting in his home Alex took us to lunch at one of the restaurants across from the Warner studio in Burbank, I think it was a Mexican place, that he really enjoyed. I understand Toth didn't get out of his house much but he certainly enjoyed himself that day and it was a genuine pleasure to tell him how much his work meant to me.
Even more inaccurate was the description in the book of Alex's last project, the book 'Dear John: The Alex Toth Doodle Book.' 'Genius Illustrated' seems to indicate that John Hitchcock single handedly put the 'Doodle Book' together and nothing could be further from the truth. First off, there's no mention of Jeff Parker, without whom the book would never have been published in the first place. Or of the fact that I spent 6 months working on the project, or the contribution made by James Counts. The book had been languishing for years before we took it on, through no fault of John Hitchcock.
I actually wrote the story behind the book in 2007 after it was nominated for an Eisner Award:
In June of 2006, I agreed to take on a project that (I think) three others had supposedly started but never got very far with. My friend John Hitchcock had a huge collection of letters, postcards and sketches he'd received from Alex Toth, one of the comic and animation industry's towering talents. He and Alex had been friends for decades and often talked about compiling the sketches from those mailings into a book.
No big deal, but I did want to set the record straight. It was very unfortunate that Alex died before he had the finished book in his hands. I have no idea what he would have thought of James Counts' contribution to the project... God knows I wrestled with it, Toth being the master of simplicity that he was. But I know he was tremendously excited to see it "aborning" as he put it.
It was also unfortunate that some bad feelings between Jim Amash and John Hitchcock (that I literally know nothing about) meant that the 'Doodle Book' went unmentioned in the 'Alter Ego' magazine tribute to Toth. It seemed like a glaring omission, it was the artist's last major project and all, and maybe we could have sold some more books.
Over at Classic TV! I have a quote from Erwin Knoll that reads: “Everything you read in newspapers is absolutely true, except for that rare story of which you happen to have first-hand knowledge.” As marvelous as 'Genius Illustrated' is, I have to wonder about the veracity of the other stories in the book if the only two things I'm privy to weren't as accurate as they could have been. Still, I can't recommend this book highly enough, it's one of the most impressive I've ever seen, in every aspect... just sayin'.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
A remake of 'Weird Science' is in the works.
A 'Big Bang' rerun beat 'American Idol' in the 18-49 demo... that phenomenon is over.
Diana Ross, Gladys Knight and Smokey Robinson all attended the premiere of 'Motown, The Musical' on Broadway. Ross was quoted on the red carpet as saying: "This is not a fictional story. This is a real story." As opposed to 'Dreamgirls' I'm guessing (Miss Ross was not a fan). The Hollywood Reporter was not as kind in their review: "You can’t hurry love, but apparently you can hurtle through 25 years of pop history without depth or complexity if Motown: The Musical is any indication. With its narrowly self-serving perspective and simplistic connect-the-dots plotting, Berry Gordy’s book makes Jersey Boys look like Eugene O’Neill. And Charles Randolph-Wright’s direction struggles to get a fluid handle on the music empire founder’s superficial chronicle of his legendary Detroit hit factory. But there’s no denying the power and energy of the show’s arsenal of killer tunes."
Ringo on McCartney: "We’re the only two remaining Beatles, although he likes to think he’s the only one."
How in the hell did this guy get this job?!? He clearly can't speak extemporaneously or read copy very well, and then starts his first live broadcast with the words "Fucking shit."
Monday, April 22, 2013
Here's something I didn't know existed, thanks to Kevin Butler- Our Gang on an LP singing?
Leave it to Beaver actor Frank Bank has died, he played Clarence "Lumpy" Rutherford. What a wonderful performance that was, that show was a big part of my young life and Bank's performance was key in the series working so well.
Cast members of The Sopranos are reuniting in a Nickelodeon TV movie called 'Nicky Deuce,' based on a book written by the film's star, Steve Schirripa (who played Bobby Bacala). James Gandolfini (Tony Soprano), Michael Imperioli (Christopher), Vincent Curatola (Johnny Sac) and Tony Sirico (Pauly Walnuts) are all on hand to portray a mob family in the film. Looks like fun.
Richard LeParmentier, the soldier who was 'Force-choked' in the first Star Wars movie, is dead. LeParmentier originally read for the role of Han Solo, his character got his own action figure in 2000.
Here's the just released trailer for Man of Steel. Not much to go on really so I'll hope for the best. There hasn't been a great Superman movie since Superman II, the Richard Donner version.
This is an oddity. One of my fave albums of all time, I still love it, is Meat Loaf's first album, the epic 'Bat Out of Hell'. Here's an unreleased demo of the song 'Heaven Can Wait', performed by, of all people, Bette Midler. I'm guessing this is before Bette recorded her first album but I could be wrong. Maybe it's the early photo the poster used on the video. She was in the cast of Fiddler on the Roof for three years before her meteoric rise to fame in 1972.
Friday, April 19, 2013
older TV Blog entries!
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