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MYSTERY SOLVED
A while back Joseph E. Bresnan asked for information about a local Philly kid show that featured, "
a family of rabbits that were puppets and we would follow them down some steps to their rabbit den. Any idea?"

Kevin S. Butler has the answer: "The show he's thinking of featured a group of animal puppets that were not rabbits but some fanciful creatures known as "Tottles."

"Tottle was the creation of a talented,versatile and sweet gentleman named Marshall Izen. Marsh was the creator, host/performer and instructor of a show that dealt with the problems all kids have in their lives. Unlike Mr. Rogers, Marsh didn't make the show pabulum, he genuinely recreated the problems of children and made it all honest, warm and funny.

"He was also a talented singer, musician, songwriter, cartoonist, scriptwriter, puppeteer and storyteller and appeared at the start and end of the show with the puppets.

"Tottle was seen on WCAU TV 10 (then a CBS affiliate) in Philadelphia during the early 1960s. The series was also seen Sunday and Saturday mornings on WCBS TV 2 in NYC from 1962 to 1963.

"I was lucky enough to meet and to interview Marsh Izen and he was the nicest and most engaging person that I was lucky enough to deal with. Tottle was briefly revived on WBBM (the PBS affiliate) in Chicago during the 1970's as The Adventures of Coslo. Sadly, there are no surviving episodes of Tottle or The Adventures of Coslo."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 - 10:24am
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COMING TO A TV NEAR YOU
What will the networks be programming with the writers out on strike? Game shows. Besides a revival of Password with Regis Philbin, look for:

Do You Trust Me? - two strangers bet on how much they can trust each other in order to win over $1 million.

Amne$ia - contestants must remember certain events from their lives. As if we care.

Wanna Bet? - celebrities betting on stunts performed by contestants.

Duel - two contestants bluffing each other to win moolah.

Moment of Truth - contestants are strapped to a lie detector and asked personal questions. Again, as if we cared.

The good news is that FX has renewed Damages with Glenn Close and Ted Danson for two more seasons.

From a press release: The 50 Greatest TV Icons, a 2-hour special presented by TV Land and Entertainment Weekly, airs this Friday, November 16 at 8pm ET/PT. From Lucille Ball to Mary Tyler Moore to Alan Alda, the show honors the classic TV legends - as well as some contemporary ones - who have made a lasting mark on our popular culture.

In advance of the event, a list of the 51-100 greatest TV icons has just been released. You can check it out here and see which of the stars you grew up with made the cut.

Think there will be any surprises on that list? Me either...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 - 7:13am
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DOLLAR DVDs
Bob Huggins writes: I was in my local Target department store this weekend and in their little dollar store section, they have a new shipment of dollar DVDs. One of the DVDs is a short (under 1 hour) compilation of bloopers form "Laugh In," "Star Trek," and "McHale's Navy." The "Laugh In" and "Star Trek" bloopers have been making the rounds for years, but there were a number of bloopers on the "McHale's Navy" segment that I hadn't seen before. There were also a number of the usual public domain suspects ("The Andy Griffith Show," "Bonanza," "The Lone Ranger," "The Lucy Show," and "The Dick Van Dyke Show"), but I also managed to find a DVD with some classic game shows and a Christmas themed disc with a mix of comedy ("Burns and Allen" and "The Beverly Hillbillies") and drama ("Four Star Playhouse" and "Cavalcade of America"). Also found a six-episode DVD of "The Adventures of Long John Silver." Produced in 1955, this was Australia's first television production and was filmed in color.

Target also had three volumes of "Davey and Goliath," the children's claymation series that "Gumby" originator Art Clokey was involved with. Each volume was just a dollar and, unlike the other DVDs that I saw, these were fully licensed and not public domain.

Monday, November 12, 2007 - 11:43pm
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STRIKE WHILE THE IRONYS HOT!
There's talk that former President Clinton may step in to try and end the writer's strike but NBC is determined to bring The Tonight Show back in a week, on Nov. 19th, possibly with guest hosts.

Back in 1988 when the writers were on strike, CBS actually renewed a show they'd cancelled back in 1969 - The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. How were they able to do this? Writer performers are allowed to work as such. If you write and perform your own material, as the Smothers and their musical comedy regulars like Pat Paulsen and Gallagher did, you're exempt. Plus they had the benefit of material written for them 20 years earlier.

Will the Smothers Brothers be hosting The Tonight Show as they did once - brilliantly - back in the 1970s?

Sunday, November 11, 2007 - 11:36am
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NEW CONTEST
Wheel of Fortune contestYou may have noticed but we have a new contest running that's pretty exciting. The folks at People Magazine and Wheel of Fortune want you to know that celebrity week is coming up Monday on Wheel - that's tomorrow - and to help you remember they're giving away a fabulous prize pack to one lucky TVparty-er with worth $250.00 worth of cool stuff!

Look what you can get in this swag bag:
products from Kiehls (lotions, body wash), HP (digital camera), Macy’s ($50 gift card) & Umbra (photo album).

You've got just as good a shot at winning as anyone else, enter often but hurry - the contest ends on Friday, November 16th.

Celebs appearing next week:
* Kristan Cunningham (HGTV’s "Design on a Dime," "Rachael Ray")
* Paula Deen (Food Network’s "Paula’s Home Cooking")
* Robert Gossett ("The Closer")
* Neil Patrick Harris ("How I Met Your Mother")
* Paige Hemmis ("Extreme Makeover: Home Edition")
* Sandra Lee (Food Network’s "Semi-Home Made Cooking With Sandra Lee")
* Diane Neal ("Law and Order: SVU")
* Jeff Probst ("Survivor")
* Steve Schirripa ("The Sopranos")
* Sherri Shepherd ("The View")
* Robin Strasser ("One Life to Live")
* Alison Sweeney ("Days of Our Lives," "The Biggest Loser")
* Gina Tognoni ("Guiding Light")
* Montel Williams ("Montel")
* Jacob Young ("All My Children")

Sunday, November 11, 2007 - 9:02am
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SUNDAY YOU TUBING
One of my favorite Britcoms is One Foot In The Grave, the misadventures of sourpuss Victor Meldrew and his exasperated family and neighbors. I was thrilled to discover recently that the show is available in the USA on DVD. Here's the first third of an entire episode found on You Tube.

It's one of those shows that builds slowly to a rousing conclusion. One Foot In The Grave had one of the most shocking final episodes of any series ever when Victor's wife was killed in a horrible car accident, there was usually an unexpected bittersweet element to the show.

I just wish Gimme, Gimme Gimme would appear on DVD in America, I used to laugh myself silly over that one.

Sunday, November 11, 2007 - 8:49am
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ODDS 'N' ENDS
Kevin Butler writes in response to Rachel Newstead's query as to whether there is any surviving footage from the NYC Thanksgiving Day shows: "There is one partial kinescope film of the Second Annual Wonderama Christmas Cartoon Party that Herb Sheldon MC'd on WABD TV 5 on Wednesday, December 25, 1957. It's available at Video Resources Inc. 220 W. 71st St New York, N.Y.

"Aside from this rare print of the show, sadly, there are no other films and/or videotapes of the Wonderama Thanksgiving Day / Christmas Day Cartoon Parties."

I couldn't find Video Resources online. I'd like to see that 50 year old footage.

Ellen Degeneres is really taking a beating for crossing the picket lines and continuing to tape her talk show. People who have worked with her are 'coming out' with stories about how difficult she is to work with. Except for the part about having bodyguards follow her around the office, it sounds like standard Hollywood working conditions to me. Still, she goes to great lengths to appear so nice so it is a revelation if not a surprise.

Here's one quote: "Ellen is not a mean person. However she is incredibly demanding and has No patience. She doesn’t seem to acknowledge the hard work that the staff of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” does. Megan Mullally gave each one of her staff members a $500 american express gift card for christmas, out of her OWN pocket. Ellen gave her staff nothing. Ellen is out the door and on her way home before the audience is even finished un-loading from that days show…and the man who posted this article is right. The Ellen off camera is different than the one on camera. I was extremely let down when I became a staff member. She even has body guards that follow her around in the office, which is insulting to everyone that works for her, as if were going to try and stalk her. She just doesn’t care about the things and people she should care about. I wish she would, it makes a difference to those around you. Let me be clear though, she was NEVER mean. She just didn’t seem to care about who you are or how much you are busting your ass so that she will look good on camera. She’s one of many in this town that forget the little people."

Like that person said, she's one of many...

By the way, in case you're wondering, and it matters not a bit, but I fully support the striking writers, they only are asking for what's fair. In fact, I think they should be demanding more!

A couple of days ago I mentioned a contestant on the new Price Is Right that got up on stage only to ask if she could take a bathroom break. Wouldn't you know someone would have it posted on You Tube:

By the way, for the first time in its 36-year history, The Price Is Right has modified the rules so former contestants can now be chosen to appear on the show again.

Friday, November 9, 2007 - 8:47am
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WHAT I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS

TimeLife.com

Thursday, November 8, 2007 - 12:14pm
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LINKS
Eric at Just My Show has a new podcast devoted to Welcome Back, Kotter.

The guests are Bob Hegyes, who played Epstein and John Sebastian, who wrote and performed the Welcome Back, Kotter theme. (He's also in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his work with The Lovin' Spoonful.)

Meanwhile, Bobby Rivers from the Whoopi Goldberg morning radio program has reviews up for American Gangster and Martian Child, you should check them out.

Thursday, November 8, 2007 - 6:44am
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TV STUFF
Great news - Showtime has renewed Weeds for a 4th season of 13 new episodes. Look for them next summer.

Did you know that beginning January 1st there will be no more Court TV? The stalwart cable net will thereafter become TruTV. Their new slogan - "Not Reality. Actuality." Ok...

Entertainment Weekly quotes Heroes creator Tim Kring on the disappointing season 2: "We assumed the audience wanted season 1 — a buildup of intrigue about these characters and the discovery of their powers. We taught [them] to expect a certain kind of storytelling. They wanted adrenaline. We made a mistake." He promises to get the show back on track after the strike.

The best show on television, The Wire, will commence its 5th and last season on January 6th. Season four will be out on DVD December 4th.

You can see yours truly on Bravo tomorrow afternoon between 3:30 and 5:30pm ET on 100 Funniest Movie Moments.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007 - 9:50am
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HEARD THIS ONE?
Rachel Newstead writes: "After re-reading Kevin S. Butler's article on the Wonderama Christmas Party broadcasts, I started to wonder if any tapes or kinescopes of any of the three programs survive today. I'd give anything to see even part of one of them.

"There's another subject I've been meaning to discuss with you, one which I've probably written you about before, but I've acquired more information since then. What I'd like to see is a page on Georgia kids' shows, particularly one in Augista called 'Trooper Terry.' I remember that show only vaguely, as I was six when I last saw it. The host, Terry Sams, dressed as a state trooper, and I can remember confusing that outfit for a cowboy outfit. Hence, for years I never knew the host's actual name--I inexplicably referred to him as 'Cowboy Bob.' (Where I got that from I don't know). I guess he was supposed to be the southern Officer Joe Bolton. His cartoon library consisted mainly of the JOT cartoons you've written about on your site, as well as Tom and Jerry.

"My mother has a story about that show that screams "urban legend," but she swears it happened, and it's worth telling. She says one day while Terry was talking he heard two kids giggling in the corner--two black kids, strangely enough, which seems pretty unusual for a Georgia show at that time. (That is, the early to mid-sixties).

"Anyway, when he asked the kids what was so funny, one of them, in that slow Georgia drawl, said "Leroy farted...."

"According to Mom, Terry immediately picked up a guitar and started playing like mad trying to draw attention away from that conversation..

"You might want to send a message out to anybody who has any material related to that show to send it in. For one thing, I'd love to know if the above story actually happened.
"

That story has been told about every local kid show there ever was - well, except the part about the kids being black. That's not to say it didn't happen - heck, it could have easily happened on every kiddie program. Most of those shows were either live or taped as live with no edits so anything could happen and did.

Just a couple of weeks ago Drew Carey had a Price Is Right contestant who made it up to the stage only to say that she badly needed to go to the bathroom. She was playing Plinko and practically begging Drew to let her go pee.

And I wish someone would write in with info on Georgia kid shows as well.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007 - 11:00am
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DO YOU KNOW?
Joseph E. Bresnan asks for information: "I recall a TV show that ran in the 1960's and I cannot find information on it anywhere. I do not know if it was only shown locally (I am in the Philadelphia market). It was called Of Lands and Seas and it was nothing more than people showing their home movies from far flung locations, like Fiji. Do you have any info on such a show?

"Also, there was a kid show at about the same time that I barely recalled, but it was a family of rabbits that were puppets and we would follow them down some steps to their rabbit den. Any idea?"

Tuesday, November 6, 2007 - 8:36am
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CHECK IT OUT!
You've got to check out Dance Party: The Teenarama Story airing on PBS stations nationwide on Fri. Nov. 9, Sat. Nov. 10 and Sun. Nov. 11. This was a groundbreaking teen dance show from Washington, DC that broke the media's racial barrier in that community. And that was no small feat, you wouldn't believe the length stations would go to to keep blacks off of the set.

It all happened much the same as seen in the movie Hairspray - at first blacks in Washington were given their own day to dance on The Milt Grant Show, separate but hardly equal as whites had the other four days. Before long an entire program was launched for African-Americans called The Teenarama Dance Party on WOOK 14, the first station programming specifically for the "negro" audience.

This is a nicely produced special that touches on that time long ago when kids gathered at the television station to show off their dance moves, the type of show you found in almost every TV community back in the 1950s and '60s. There's a recreation of the show (shockingly, there is no surviving archival footage) and interviews with participants and dancers from the show, a hearty look at how television helped shape our views about race and brought people together just as the civil rights movement was gaining steam.

If you grew up in in the D.C. area you will especially love this hour-long documentary. Remember the Miles Long Sandwich Lady and host Bob King?

See website for nationwide broadcast schedules: dancepartytheteenaramastory.com. You can also order this show on DVD from that web site. Terrific for those who loved the old local dance shows that faded into oblivion decades ago.

Ed Golick writes: "My friend Grant D. Fairley is the author of a new book, Look Up!- Way Up! The Friendly Giant. Grant spent many hours interviewing Bob Homme at his home in Grafton, Ontario for this authorized biography.

"I am giving away three autographed copies of the book on my Detroit kid show website. Here's the link.

"There's also a secret link, exclusive to my website, where you can get $2.00 of the list price of $19.95."

Sounds like a great book, huh?

Monday, November 5, 2007 - 6:20am
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HOWDY GOULET
Jason Cronin writes about Robert Goulet and Howdy Doody: "Although Robert Goulet may have appeared on the Canadian version of “Howdy Doody” as an occasional fill-in host, Goulet never actually portrayed the character of “Timber Tom”. The Canadian show starred James Doohan (Scotty from “Star Trek”) and later Peter Mews as forest ranger Timber Tom who corresponded to Buffalo Bob in the U.S. version. It’s also noteworthy that a young William Shatner appeared occasionally as a fill-in host on the Canadian show as "Ranger Bill."

"You can view a full episode of the Canadian Howdy Doody with Peter Mews as host on Google Video here.

Sunday, November 4, 2007 - 7:25am
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R.I.P. WILLIE WHISTLE
The Boston area has lost a local TV legend and the ranks of surviving children's show host dwindles - Davis G. Droll, Jr. who played Willie Whistle in the mid-1960s passed away this morning at age 75. Here's his obituary which oddly doesn't mention the role, only that, "The mid-late 60's found him in television broadcasting in Boston and in Worcester."

The link takes you to the funeral home web site so you can add your condolences.

Saturday, November 3, 2007 - 10:52am
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THIS ' N' THAT
From the Huffington Post: Bob Barker famously closed each episode of "The Price Is Right" with a pitch to spay and neuter pets. His successor is taking a stand on a more controversial subject: marijuana. Drew Carey won't tout toking up on "Price," but he defends the use of medical marijuana in a video posted online Thursday on Reason.tv.

This won't hurt Drew - unless one of those Fox News bobbleheads decides to attack him over it.

From NBC: During last night's two-hour LIVE Halloween episode of NBC's "Phenomenon," a heated argument broke out between the show's judge/expert Criss Angel and contestant Jim Callahan. Callahan, who claimed to possess the spirit of author Raymond Hill during his demonstration, took offense to Angel's critique of his performance. Angel, who has gone on the record stating that he does not believe in psychic or paranormal abilities, offered one million dollars of his own money if Callahan could predict what was inside an envelope he was holding, igniting a heated argument. Host Tim Vincent ("Access Hollywood") was forced to step in and separate them.

I say they're both full of it.

From FOX: Jerry Seinfeld turns the tables on Spike Feresten and takes on host duties as Feresten sits in the guest chair on TALKSHOW WITH SPIKE FERESTEN Saturday, Nov. 3 (Midnight-12:30 AM ET/PT) on FOX.

Feresten's show is pretty good but not spectacular - it's no Daily Show but it is amusing. Patrick Warburton will also be on board.

From the press release: Heeere's Johnny: The Definitive DVD Collection From The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. This 12-disc collection doesn't even hit stores until November 6, 2007 and has already racked up over $3 million in pre-sales. The preeminent Johnny Carson collectible, Heeere’s Johnny contains four unique DVD sets highlighted by the never-before-released at retail, Timeless Moments, a 6-disc collection that was previously exclusive to Carson Club Members but is now available as part of this compilation and not sold separately. The box set also includes the 3-disc set of The Ultimate Johnny Carson Collection, the 2-disc set of Stand-Up Comedians and Carson Country. Each release includes audience favorites, numerous guest appearances and hilarious moments from the show. A dazzling DVD set, Heeere’s Johnny comes enclosed in high-end collectable gate-fold packaging designed as curtains to mimic the opening of the show.

I own The Ultimate Johnny Carson Collection which is faaaaaaaantastic - but it just left me wanting more. This new collection sounds incredible! Click here to order at 30% off with no sales tax and free shipping.

Friday, November 2, 2007 - 9:32am
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ROBERT GOULET
Kevin Butler writes, Robert Goulet had an extra TV credit to his resume. He was one of the hosts/performers of the CBC TV network version of Howdy Doody back in the 1950's.He appeared on the show not as "Buffalo Bob" but as (are you Ready for this?!) "Timber Tom". I don't know if "Timber Tom" was a Royal Canadian Mountie or a lumberjack.

Buffalo Bob Smith recalled, "playing golf at Wingfoot few years ago and I saw Bob Goulet playing a few par lanes away. So I shouted, 'Fore Timber Tom' and he said, 'Got to be Buffalo Bob.' He wanted to kill me!" Buffalo Bob told this story to the late Merv Griffin on his nationally syndicated talk/variety show.

Buffalo Bob was in Hollywood finishing his guest appearance on Happy Days and he manipulated "Howdy" on Mr. Griffin's show. It was the first and only time that he both manipulated and voiced "Howdy" on TV.

Thurday, November 1, 2007 - 8:09am
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