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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Rothman's Take On The Emmy Nominations. Part Three.

Finally,  back to the Emmy nominations:

Supporting Actor, Comedy Series
Andre Braugher, "Brookiyn Nine-Nine"
Adam Driver, "Girls"
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, "Modern Family"
Ty Burrell, "Modern Family"
Fred Armisen, "Portlandia"
Tony Hale, "Veep"
 
Only saw a couple of episodes of "Portlandia"
It had that Lorne Michaels "We're just kidding around" stamp all over it.
I hated it.
Hated Armisen too.
The rest of it I didn't watch.
My opinion here is worthless.
 
Supporting Actress, Comedy Series
Mayim Bialik, "The Big Bang Theory"
Julie Bowen, "Modern Family"
Allison Janney, "Mom"
Kate Mulgrew, "Orange Is the New Black"
Kate McKinnon, "Saturday Night Live"
Anna Chlumsky, "Veep"
 
Love Bialik and Janney.
Didn't even recognize Mulgrew for the first few shows.
She was first-rate.
The girl from SNL was really good the few times I saw her.
It wasn't enough to keep me coming. 
I guess I'd give it to Janney, for displaying comedy chops I didn't know she had.

Best Actress in a Comedy Series
Lena Dunham, "Girls"
Edie Falco, "Nurse Jackie"
Julia Louis Dreyfus, "Veep"
Melissa McCarthy, "Mike & Molly"
Amy Poehler, "Parks & Recreation"
Taylor Schilling, "Orange Is the New Black"
 
Not much to choose from here.
Not a fan of Louis-Dreyfuss or Poehler.
Didn't catch "Girls"
"Nurse Jackie and "Orange" are not comedies.
I like McCarthy, but she's not nearly the best part of that show.
Still, she wins by default.
 
Best Actor in a Comedy Series
Jim Parsons, "The Big Bang Theory"
Ricky Gervais, "Derek"
Matt LeBlanc, "Episodes"
Don Cheadle, "House of Lies"
Louis C.K., "Louie"
William H. Macy, "Shameless"
 
This category is loaded.
Parsons walks away with that show, and has already been amply rewarded for it, much to the chagrin of Johnny Galecki.
Gervais is doing stunning work on "Derek"
It certainly took balls for Matt LeBlanc to portray himself as a completely self-indulgent asshole, which he might actually be, on "Episodes".  And why isn't THAT show even nominated?
Didn't see Cheadle or Macy.
But Louis C.K. is in an entirely other league.
He's the best thing currently on television.
He owns my vote.

We'll continue on next time.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not
e-books. But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one. If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube, and my 4-hour interview at the Television Academy's Emmy TV Legends Website.
Here's the link: www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/mark-rothman

*****

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thank God For James Garner. Part Two.

It was the early 1980s.
In 1979, my former writing partner had broken up with me.
As he got the credit for everything we did as a team, I ended up being smelly fish in Hollywood.
At least for a while.
I had no idea how long this was going to last.
L.A. is a terrible place to be when you're not working.
So to avoid stinking up the town any further, I took my family and moved to the Midwest.
While we were together, my writing partner and I co-created "Laverne and Shirley" for Paramount TV.
We expected to get fairly rich from this, as we were given profit participation as part of our deal to produce it.
But we kept hearing stories about how the studios were regularly screwing stars and creators out of any profits.
Or out of most of the profits.
So my visions of sugar plums were tarnished with these fears that the same thing would happen to me.
I knew that I wouldn't see a nickel until "Laverne and Shirley" had ended it's network run.
That was a given.
From 1979 to 1982, I was only making a relatively modest income writing a handful of TV episodes.
And it was not keeping up with our expenses.
We were dipping deep into our savings.
My wife at the time even went to law school to eventually create a career for herself.
That lasted one day.
We considering selling our profit participation back to Paramount.
They were happy to buy it back.
At roughly ten cents on the dollar.
We refused their kind offer.
But even the fact that they were willing to offer us anything was a good sign.
It indicated that they would eventually have to pay us something.
But how much, and when, was something we were still in the dark about.
So we were still in the world of considering selling our house, taking out a loan, and even moving in with my wife's folks until the smoke cleared.
Then, all of a sudden, out of the blue, rumors started to float that James Garner was going to sue Universal Studios for the profits he never received on "The Rockford Files"
This gave us more than a glimmer of hope.
Enough so that we stuck to our guns, and attempted to ride it out.
Then, he actually filed suit against Universal.
It made the news.
This gave us more than more of a glimmer.
Soon, we learned that he made an out-of-court settlement with Universal.
And part of the conditions of the settlement was that he couldn't reveal the terms of it.
Which meant that he had them over a barrel, and they knew it.
And that he got paid off handsomely.
Pretty ballsy of him to do that in Hollywood, where the phrase "You'll never work in this town again!" is emblazoned over every studio gate.
But he did it, and he won.
And "The Rockford Files" was never nearly the big hit that "Laverne and Shirley" was.
So from that point on, I pretty much knew I didn't have anything to worry about.
And I wouldn't have to move in with my in-laws.
And pretty soon, almost like clockwork, I began receiving these huge profit participation checks from Paramount for "Laverne and Shirley".
But what if Garner had never made waves?
Or what if he sued, and lost?
What would that have meant for me?
But James Garner stepped up to the plate and did make waves, and he sued and essentially won, and that set the table for me, and gave me financial security for the rest of my life.
And that's why I thank God for James Garner.
And as I said before, he was a pretty swell actor.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not
e-books. But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one. If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube, and my 4-hour interview at the Television Academy's Emmy TV Legends Website.
Here's the link: www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/mark-rothman

*****











Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Thank God For James Garner.

I contend that James Garner was perhaps the most underrated actor we've ever had.
I contend that he was the American Cary Grant, also one of the most underrated actors we've ever had.
Think about it.
Virtually any part that was right for Cary Grant, unless it was intrinsically British, like "Gunga Din", could have been carried off at least as well by Garner.
Both disarmingly handsome, disarmingly funny, totally likeable.
Can you imagine "North By Northwest" if it was Garner instead of Grant?
I think it would have been better.
But it doesn't work the other way.
Grant couldn't have played Maverick or Rockford.
The other difference is that Grant had to work at being Cary Grant.
It didn't come naturally.
Garner was who you saw.
Grant could have done "The Americanization of Emily".
But it wouldn't have been as good as Garner.
Witnessing Garner chew on Paddy Chayefsky's glorious dialogue in "Emily" was a feast on the eyes and the ears.
Thank God he got that part, and it's there to be seen.
Over and over again.
Garner was a trailblazer.
He was the first TV star to make the transition from series television to become a full-fledged movie star.
He broke the mold.
And he was not afraid to go back to TV.
And it didn't hurt his movie career when he did.
He just didn't seem to give a crap.
He just wanted to do good work.
And he didn't care what size screen it was on.
Maybe he realized that movies ended up on the small screen anyway, so it really didn't matter.
This made him smarter than most.
But none of this is why I personally thank God for James Garner.
I have my reasons, and I'll share them with you next time.
And at some point, I'll get back to the Emmy nominations, I swear.
There is just too much breaking news these days.....

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not
e-books. But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one. If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube, and my 4-hour interview at the Television Academy's Emmy TV Legends Website.
Here's the link: www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/mark-rothman

*****

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Original Trixie Norton.

I was going to write more today about the Emmy nominations, but that will have to wait.
Elaine Stritch only gets one day to die, and attention must be paid.
I've been trying to think about what I can add to the discussion.
So much has already been expressed.
Mostly by her.
Just last week, I watched the recent documentary about her, "Shoot Me".
And she pretty much said it all.
What I can add to the discussion is that she was the first actress to play Trixie Norton on "The Honeymooners".
I think it was only one episode, and then Gleason canned her.
She had the bad taste to try to be funny with it.
I saw it.
She was funny.
No clip from that episode made it to the documentary.
You can say a lot of things about Elaine Stritch, but "ordinary" is not one of them.
"Compelling" is one of them.
Whenever she was on stage, she owned it.
Even if you'd already bought a ticket, you still felt obliged to pay her some rent.
Kind of like landing on Indiana Avenue with three houses on it.
I saw her on Broadway four times.
""Company", "A Delicate Balance", "Showboat" and " Little Night Music"
Great, great, great, and forgetful..
In "A Little Night Music", she kept forgetting her lines, and the stage manager kept calling them out.
She was only forgetful in that sense.
Otherwise, she was great there too.
Her attitude was "So I forgot my lines.  Fuck 'em!"
This was a sentiment she actually expressed in her act at the Carlyle, when she blew the lyrics of one of her songs.
And the audience cheered.
She was somebody you probably didn't want to mess with.
But you sure wanted her to mess with you.
Another thing she was, was "Over the top".
Occasionally.
She performed her songs and shouted them for the most part.
Not the best pipes in the world.
But for the  most part, it worked.
In some ways, she was an enigma.
I can't imagine she was anyone's version of a raving beauty.
On the TV series "My Sister Eileen", she played the plain-looking older sister.
And it was good casting.
Yet, she had torrid love affairs with Hollywood's most handsome leading men.
Ben Gazzara, Gig Young......
Go figure.
Even JFK wanted to get into her pants.
She was a magnet for audiences, and I guess for men.
She died here in Michigan.
Not far from where I live.
If it's not a private service, or a private wake, I'm going to make every effort to find out where they are going to be held, and attempt to attend.
I can't imagine it would be dull.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not
e-books. But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one. If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube, and my 4-hour interview at the Television Academy's Emmy TV Legends Website.
Here's the link:  www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/mark-rothman

*****

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Rothman's Take On The Emmy Nominations. Part Two.

I'm skipping past the reality shows, because they are all shit.
I'm ignoring children's programming, because once again, they have ignored Pinky Lee.
So today, we'll begin with.....

Variety Series
"The Colbert Report"
"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart"
"Jimmy Kimmel Live"
"Real Time with Bill Maher"
"Saturday Night Live"
"The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon"
 
I'm not a fan of the Colbert Report.  He's very talented, but it's a one-joke premise that's worn way too thin on me.  I'm looking forward to see what he does with Letterman's time slot, though.
 
I love the first ten minutes of the Daily Show, then they usually settle in to sketches that I find unwatchable.   The rest depends on who the guest is..
 
Jimmy Kimmel is way too hit and miss.
 
Real Time With Bill Maher is the class of the field.
 
SNL, the less said, the better.
 
Fallon is too peppy and eager too please for my taste.  But I'll watch if there is a good guest.
 
A firm vote for Bill Maher.
Just glad that Letterman isn't on the ballot.
How the mighty have fallen.  (And in his case, Fallon.)

I've got nothing to say about the minseries categories.
I saw none of them

 Supporting Actor, Drama Series
Aaron Paul, "Breaking Bad"
Jim Carter, "Downton Abbey"
Peter Dinklage, "Game of Thrones"
Josh Charles, "The Good Wife"
Mandy Patinkin, "Homeland"
Jon Voight, "Ray Donovan"

Aaron Paul was great on "Breaking Bad", but this was as much of a lead role as Cranston's.
Of the others I've seen, I've always liked Josh Charles, and he has been a major asset to "The Good Wife".
But Jon Voight was something else completely.  What a commanding presence! What a display of versatility!
I'm in his pocket. 
 
 
Supporting Actress, Drama Series
Anna Gunn, "Breaking Bad"
Maggie Smith, "Downton Abbey"
Lena Headey, "Game of Thrones"
Christine Baranski, "The Good Wife"
Christina Hendricks, "Mad Men"
Joanne Froggatt, "Downton Abbey"

Loved Anna Gunn on "Breaking Bad".
Liked Christine Baranski and Christina Hendricks on their shows
Didn't see the rest.
Loved is better than liked.
Gotta go with Anna.

More next time.
 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not
e-books. But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one. If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube, and my 4-hour interview at the Television Academy's Emmy TV Legends Website.
Here's the link:  www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/mark-rothman

*****

Friday, July 11, 2014

Rothman's Take On The Emmy Nominations.

Since the Emmy TV Legends website has officially designated me as one, I feel entitled to put my two cents in about the nominations.
It won't be like my Oscar picks, where I saw just about everything nominated.
There are many things here that I haven't seen.
So it will be more like a commentary about what I watch, and what I don't.
We'll start with the back-burner categories, and work our way up.

Outstanding Guest Actor in Drama
Paul Giamatti as Harold Levinson in "Downton Abbey"
Dylan Baker as Colin Sweeney in "The Good Wife"
Reg E. Cathey as Freddy in "House Of Cards"
Robert Morse as Bertram Cooper in "Mad Men"
Beau Bridges as Barton Scully in "Masters of Sex"
Joe Morton as Rowan Pope in "Scandal"
 
I love Giammatti's work in general, but have never seen "Downton Abbey"
Dylan Baker plays this recurring creepy character on "The Good Wife", and does it to a turn.
Reg. E. Cathey in "House of Cards" was ,to me, one of the most unnoticed characters.
Robert Morse in "Madmen' was quite effective.  But he was a regular.  Not a guest.
Bridges and Morton are below my radar, as I've never seen their shows.

My ballot is going to be left blank for this  one.
 
Outstanding Guest Actress In A Drama Series
Margo Martindale as Claudia in "The Americans"
Diana Rigg as Lady Olenna Tyrell in "Game of Thrones"
Kate Mara as Zoe Barnes in "House of Cards"
Allison Janney as Margaret Scully in "Masters of Sex"
Jane Fonda as Leona Lansing in "The Newsroom"
Kate Burton as Sally Langston in "Scandal"

The only one I saw was Fonda on "The Newsroom"
She was great, so she wins by default.
 
Outstanding Guest Actor In A Comedy Series
Bob Newhart as Arthur in "The Big Bang Theory"
Nathan Lane as Pepper Saltzman in "Modern Family"
Steve Buscemi as Marty in "Portlandia"
Jimmy Fallon as Host in "SNL"
Louis C.K. as Host in "SNL"
Gary Cole as Kent Davison in "Veep"

Don't watch "SNL", hate "Veep" and "Portlandia".
Never saw "Modern Family".  My bad.
Bob Newhart was FANTASTIC on "The Big Bang Theory".
He's got my vote.
 
Outstanding Guest Actress In A Comedy Series
Natasha Lyonne as Nicky Nichols in "Orange is the New Black"
Uzo Aduba as Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren in "Orange is the New Black"
Laverne Cox as Sophia Burset in "Orange is the New Black"
Tina Fey as Host in "SNL"
Melissa McCarthy as Host in "SNL"
Joan Cusack as Sheila Jackson in "Shameless"

Watched a season and a half of "Orange is the New Black"
Started to find it unwatchable.  Gave up on it.
Really?  A Comedy Series?
The rest was unseen by me.
I got nothin'.

More categories next time.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not
e-books. But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one. If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube, and my 4-hour interview at the Television Academy's Emmy TV Legends Website.
Here's the link:  www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/mark-rothman

*****

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

We Have Last Week's, And We have Next Week's...

I have previously expressed that this is the Golden Age of Television.
And it is, in so many ways.
With the advent of YouTube, and DVDs, and Tivo, we are no longer at the mercy of the concept of "Least objectionable programming".
We can watch what we want, when we want.
We can stop the picture to go to the bathroom.
We never have to hold it in anymore.
So what's missing?
For me, it's the TV Guide.
I know that you can still find it at the checkout in the supermarket, but since it went Life Magazine size, rather than Reader's Digest size, all it is now is a glorified tabloid, with too much difficult to find information.
The old TV Guide had character.
Style.
And as I was growing up, it became more and more the highlight of my week.
Anticipating it's appearance, and receiving it.
And I'd read it cover to cover.
All the way from the first yellow page, called "New York Teletype", to the last yellow page, called "Hollywood Report"
If you subscribed to it, it would arrive in Wednesday's mail, for shows that would begin that Saturday.
My mother subscribed to it.
Because it was cheaper than if you paid retail for it in the supermarket or at newsstands.
I beckoned, yea pleaded for her to drop the subscription.
Because you could pick it up at the supermarket or at newsstands on Tuesday.
Or even Monday.
This would satisfy my Jones for it, and give me extra time to plot out my programming choices for the week.
The way it was laid out made it very easy to do that.
It also gave me more time, in our one-TV home, to plead my case for watching "Checkmate" instead of "Hazel".
With my mother's innate fondness for "Hazel", this was usually an exercise in futility.
But the TV Guide would occasionally provide me with the information that the coming week's episode of "Hazel" was a rerun.
I thought that might give me a fighting chance.
Nah.
It was "Hazel".
Rerun or not, it was her show of choice.
I was invariably screwed.
It also helped me plot my pleas to stay up past my bedtime I there was something I could convince my mother was worth it.
This occasionally worked.
She finally relented and dropped the subscription, leading me to my Monday hunts.
The TV Guide was still a great navigational device.
And it provided some wonderful stories and reportage.
It also provided a great ongoing discussion in my house.
See, once the week was up, and the current TV Guide became obsolete, nobody rushed to toss it into the garbage.
So early in most weeks, we usually had three TV Guides on the premises.
And the following conversation would usually take place:
My Father: (Picking up one of them) Is this the TV Guide?
Me: No.  That's last week's.
My Father: (Picking up another one)  What about this one?
Me:  That's next week's.
My Father: (Frustration mounting)  Okay.  We have last week's and we have next weeks.  Where's THIS week's??!!
This is what I miss most about the TV Guide.
I don't know if anyone else ever had that conversation.
But we had it constantly.
And I miss it.   

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not
e-books. But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one. If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube, and my 4-hour interview at the Television Academy's Emmy TV Legends Website.
Here's the link:  www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/mark-rothman

*****

Friday, July 4, 2014

G'Bye Dere. Part Four.

There have been some really terrible comedy teams.
Olsen and Johnson, for instance.
At one time, in 1938, they had the longest running show ever on Broadway at that time.
Hellzapoppin'.
I was too young to ever see it.
But it was supposedly a laff riot.
They made a movie out of it.
It was Godawful.
And I think it gave me a measure of what Olsen and Johnson were.
They were totally corny, laughed at their own jokes, and Abbott and Costello left them in the dust, skill-wise.
Ed Sullivan foisted Wayne and Shuster upon us way too often.
And gave them extended amounts of time when he booked them.
Like about 25 minutes a pop.
I think this might have been the result of  Ed losing an election bet.
Wayne and Shuster, "From Canader", were never ever funny.
There's nothing prejudicial from me about Canadians.
All of the SCTV talent were from Canada.
I love them.
But Wayne and Shuster were relentlessly dreary.

Those aside, there were also some wonderful comedy teams.
Another pair fostered by Ed Sullivan were Stiller and Meara.
They were essentially actors who found a good hook for doing sketches together in a standup format.
They were funny individually and together.
I don't know if an act like theirs would fly today.
It seemed to be very much of it's time.
Transcending them on all levels were Mike Nichols and Elaine May.
They did the most intelligent, intellectual, and gut-busting funny material of all time.
They were brilliant performers.
If they had never existed and just now showed up, show business would certainly make way for them in a big way.
It's no surprise that they both went on to become substantial film and stage directors.
You got to catch glimpses of Burns and Allen's vaudeville routines on their sitcom.
And you can understand why it was so successful.
Burns tried to replicate the formula after Gracie retired, with Carol Channing and Connie Stevens.
And the formula worked.
Burns and Schreiber worked in the Stiller and Meara/ Nichols and May tradition, and were very funny.
Avery Schreiber died way too young.
Don't know what would have become of them.
Bob and Ray came out of radio, and virtually all of their routines were in the form of radio or TV interviews among their fictional characters.
I was fortunate enough to see them live on Broadway, and experienced a most unusual audience reaction.
The laughs didn't come on punch-lines, but rather in waves based on the overall premise of the routine.
I found it astounding.
Probably the funniest comedy duo of all time were Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks doing "The 2000 year old man.
Primarily because it found a framework to unleash Mel Brooks upon the public at large.
That still works any time that they choose to do it.
The only ones that I'm aware of that actively still pursue the form are the Smothers Brothers, who are still great, and we will probably never see their likes again.
For whatever reasons, comedy duos have gone the way of shock-jocks like Opie and Anthony and their like.
This can't be good for anyone involved.
That's it.
I've mopped up this subject matter.
Next time, something else.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not
e-books. But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one. If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube, and my 4-hour interview at the Television Academy's Emmy TV Legends Website.
Here's the link:  www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/mark-rothman

*****

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

G'Bye Dere. Part Three.

Laurel and Hardy were great artists, much in the way that Chaplin and Keaton were great artists.
The only difference was that there were two of them.
We must be grateful that they have been preserved at all on film.
It hasn't been made easy, considering that they did their most classic work for Hal Roach, who used the cheapest film stock available, and had them share stock music cues with the Our Gang comedies.
Laurel and Hardy made the easiest transition from silents to talkies.
They were equally adept at both.
Chaplin and Keaton were both really hamstringed by talkies.
But pretty much everybody remembers Chaplin and Keaton.
The saddest thing about Laurel and Hardy is that nobody knows who they are anymore.
I was attempting to cast a movie in which the two young male leads had a running bit where they did an impression of Laurel and Hardy.
I couldn't find any young actors in their twenties who had any idea who  Laurel and Hardy were.
I had to resort to showing them clips of them on YouTube.
The reactions ranged from "Oh, those guys!" to blank stares.
Even after they watched the YouTube clips, they remained unfamiliar.
Needless to say, this was distressing.

Abbott and Costello were not great artists.
They were two guys who were rather adept at doing stock burlesque routines.
They could never have made it in silent pictures.
They were all about verbal spins.
Any two modestly talented comics could have just as easily been Abbott and Costello.
It just turned out to be them.
Laurel and Hardy worked at a slow and deliberate pace.
Abbott and Costello, sometimes doing a variation of the same material, worked at a very rapid pace.
Both were funny.
Only one was art.
I didn't like Abbott and Costello's movies.
They slowed down their pace for their movies.
The only thing that made some of their movies bearable was that they contained the Andrews Sisters.
But when Abbott and Costello turned to TV, the pace was usually first rate, and showed them off very well.
Unlike Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello are remembered very well by all generations.
And it all  boils down to one piece of material they did.
Class?
That's right.
"Who's on First?"
One of the most idiotic premises for a routine ever conceived.
You've got to give them Brownie Points for pulling it off as well as they did.
When my daughter was about six, I'm talking thirty years ago, they ran Abbott and Costello movies on Sunday morning on one of the local stations.
One Sunday, after watching them, she approached me and said ""Daddy, I just saw the funniest thing I've ever seen.  You know Abbott and Costello?  They do this thing called "Who's on First?"
I said "Really?  I'll have to catch up with it at some point."
Every Sunday morning, somewhere, "Abbott and Costello movies are still being run, and every Sunday morning, new six year olds are discovering "Who's On First?"
So Abbott and Costello have immortality, and Laurel and Hardy have been consigned to oblivion.

Who was it who said that life was fair?

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not
e-books. But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one. If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube, and my 4-hour interview at the Television Academy's Emmy TV Legends Website.
Here's the link:  www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/mark-rothman

*****

Friday, June 27, 2014

G'Bye Dere. Part Two.

Today, we will say "G'bye dere" to comedy duos, and try to determine why they have, by and large, vanished.

The most staggeringly successful of it's time was Martin and Lewis.
Allen and Rossi probably used Martin and Lewis as their business model.
Similar skyrocketing.
But they probably knew that they were both far inferior to Martin and Lewis.
It's commonly known that there was a lot of bad blood between Martin and Lewis towards the end of their partnership.
Ever since Dean's death, Jerry has been making the Grand Tour of "We always loved each other".
I've seen a film of their entire Copa act.
Hilarious.
Very similar to what they did on "The Colgate Comedy Hour".
I don't think that their movies really captured the dynamic that made them hilarious.
Although who am I to argue with the fortunes that each one made?
I will anyway.
The movies, or at least the man responsible for what Dean and Jerry did in their movies, Hal Wallis, didn't quite know what to do with Dean.
They usually turned his character into a somewhat shady villain, ready if not eager to exploit Jerry's good and loving nature.
And they always gave him those really crummy songs to sing to women.
The kind designed to drive their paying customers, mostly little boys, myself included, to high-tail it to the concession stands to get more popcorn.
During one of the "We always loved each other." tours, I've heard Jerry say that he specifically commissioned the writing of "That's Amore", so that it could be stuck into their film, "The Caddy".
And that this would provide Dean with the hit record he so desperately needed so he could keep up with Jerry's success.
This begs the question "How did he know that "That's Amore"" would be any kind of a hit?
Nobody knows what's going to be a hit.
No songwriter.
No singer.
No comedian who isn't a songwriter or a singer.
Jerry claims that he knew.
If "That's Amore" turned out to not be a hit, would Jerry have kept commissioning songs for Dean to  get him that elusive hit?
And why, after "That's Amore" became the huge hit that it was, did Dean then go back to singing four more years worth of crappy songs to women in their movies?
This one doesn't pass the smell test.
But they ended up both being huge, huge stars.
And deserved to be.
Their legacy, apart from their talent, was that they spurred rip-offs of themselves.
I've covered Duke Mitchell and Sammy Petrillo, who literally wanted to make you think that they WERE Martin and Lewis.
Allen and Rossi were cut very much from the same mold.
As were Rowan and Martin.
They were two minor leaguers who became bigger than they had any right to be because of "Laugh-In".
I was in on the ground floor of thinking that "Laugh-In" was shit.
From day one.
There were comparisons to Ernie Kovacs by the critics when "Laugh-In" first hit the airwaves.
But the main difference was that Ernie Kovacs was subtle.
When Ernie Kovacs did blackouts, they were accompanied musically by some guy singing "Mack The Knife" in the original German.
When "Laugh-In" did blackouts, they were accompanied by what I refer to as "Diddly Music".
And I'm not referring to Bo Diddly.
Rather to music that kind of diddles along in it's relentlessly upbeat way, with the lead instrument invariably being the xylophone.
Music that screams out, saying "This is supposed to be funny, folks!"
In later years, once their was a "Laverne and Shirley", I would refer to "Laverne and Shirley" and "Laugh-In" as polar opposites.
"Laverne and Shirley" was a left-wing show dressed up in right-wing trappings.
Just about everyone involved in it regarded themselves as hipper than the show they were working on.
But the music was written by they guys who wrote the music for "Love, American Style".
And it sounded like it.
The first time I heard the theme music and the music cues, I was nauseous for a week.
But it probably helped contribute to it's success.
"Laugh-In", on the other hand, was a right-wing show dressed up in left-wing trappings.
All that body paint on girls wearing bikinis, and sly references to marijuana, with jokes supervised by a head-writer who was a staunch Republican who also wrote jokes for Nixon.
Rowan and Martin's legacy, and "Laugh-In" 's legacy were equally non-existent.

We'll continue this exploration next time.  

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not
e-books. But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one. If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube, and my 4-hour interview at the Television Academy's Emmy TV Legends Website.
Here's the link:  www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/mark-rothman

*****

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

G'Bye Dere.

So Steve Rossi died the other day.
How is one to react to this?
Well, did you think that "Allen and Rossi" was a funny comedy team?
If so, did you think that Steve Rossi was vital to it's success?
My answers to these two questions are, first "Sort of", and second, not at all.
The only thing that was funny about "Allen and Rossi" was Marty Allen.
And in the low-browest way possible.
He looked funny.
He sounded funny.
The material they did was lousy, but he made it sound funny anyway.
He was the act.
And he proved it by successfully flying solo after he and Rossi broke up.
Rossi was the straightman.
Rossi was merely an Italian goombah singer whose ambition, probably, was to become Jerry Vale.
Until Marty Allen entered his life.
And together, they skyrocketed for a while in the sixties.
He probably thought of himself as a star.
I'll give Rossi credit for one thing:  Marty Allen was never as successful as when he was teamed with him.
During their breakups, Rossi made somewhat desperate attempts to team up with other comics as their straightman.
It was all very gimmicky.
And pretty sleazy.
He teamed up with Joe E. (Ooh! Ooh!) Ross, probably for the express purpose of being able to be billed as "Ross and Rossi".
And also because, as most of us know, Joe E. was a delight to be around.
Rossi later teamed up with black comedian Slappy White, so they could exploit being one of the first, if not THE first, interracial comedy teams.
Then, even more exploitatively, he teamed up with a comedian named Bernie Allen, so he could try to fool the audiences that they were once again getting "Allen and Rossi".
The common thread here is that he needed these other comics more than they needed him.
They each had been, and were capable of being, single acts.
None of them needed to be teamed up.
Also, none of these new "teams" lasted very long.
None of them really needed straightmen.
So it wasn't long before each of them said "G'bye dere" to Steve.
Rossi was a pretty good singer, and he tried to make a go of it concentrating on the singing.
But, as most singers like him had already discovered, a dime could buy a dozen of him.
So that didn't really pan out too well either.
No hit records.
No major gigs.
The original Allen and Rossi made a couple of movies in the sixties that were, by all reports, horrible.
And it probably signaled the beginning of their fade into relative obscurity.
This all got me to thinking about the fading into total obscurity of the comedy team in general.
It has become practically a lost art form.
I hesitate using the term "art form" and "Allen and Rossi" in the same sentence.
But I waited too long to hesitate.
So there it is.
But there are practically none left.
Next time I'll start talking about the "comedy team" phenomenon, and why it has taken the path that it has, and how those many teams impacted our culture, and me personally. 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not
e-books. But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one. If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube, and my 4-hour interview at the Television Academy's Emmy TV Legends Website.
Here's the link:  www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/mark-rothman

*****

Friday, June 20, 2014

A Nice Guy.

I just finished watching "An All-Star Salute To Don Rickles", which I had Tivoed a couple of weeks ago, and, in all honesty, had rather dreaded watching.
I've mentioned here on a couple of occasions in the past that I'm not really a fan of Mr. Rickles' current work.
His act now consists of this very old stooped-over major star, singing a piece of special material for the first twenty minutes or so called "I'm a Nice Guy", in a very embarrassing fashion, then segueing into picking on poor defenseless tourists for the next two hours.
It seems longer.
In the early days with Rickles, when he worked the lounge at the Sahara, he was undoubtedly very funny picking on drunks his own size.
And on TV, he has always been hilarious picking on the Talk Show hosts, or with Dean Martin, where he'd pick on the likes of Jimmy Stewart or John Wayne.
So why did I Tivo this show?
And why did I watch this show?
Because appearing on it were some really great comedians, led by Jerry Seinfeld, who hosted, also Jon Stewart, and David Letterman, who closed the show.
I sort of knew what to expect, and I got what I expected, so I should have known better.
They all laid down and played dead for him, treating him like a living legend and an unmatched comedy icon.
These comedians genuinely seem to think that Rickles is that great.
And that offstage, he's one of the sweetest human beings who ever walked the planet.
A genuinely nice guy.
Maybe if they had witnessed what I had witnessed, that latter element might have disintegrated for them.
I was in Las Vegas, staying at the MGM Grand, high-rolling enough to get comped for meals and shows.
Rickles was headlining there.
I had seen him twice before and was severely disappointed in what I saw.
And thrilled that I wasn't sitting close enough to the stage to be turned into a target for him.
Much was made by the comedians at this "Salute" about how people feel "honored" to be insulted by him.
I always felt relieved that I wasn't.
He would also call people up on stage to humiliate them on an extended basis.
That's usually when I walked out.
Free or not.
But I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, and go again, figuring that maybe the third time would be the charm.
After all, it was still free.
So I go.
The lights go down.
Drumroll.
We hear an announcer's voice---"Ladies and gentlemen, the MGM Grand is proud to present, Miss Lorna Luft".
I am simultaneously delighted and confused at the same time.
There had been no indication that there would be an opening act of any kind, much less one of Ms. Luft's stature and talent.
Nothing on the marquee.
Nothing on the signs near the ticket windows.
Nothing.
I'm sure that's the way she wanted it.
Aren't you?
And she did about forty-five minutes, and was great.
Already, I was ahead of the game.
But questions filled my head.
Why weren't we informed that Ms. Luft was opening for Rickles?
This was bad show business.
And when Rickles came on, he made no acknowledgment that Ms. Luft had been on the premises, much less that she was wonderful.
It's hard enough being Judy Garland's daughter and Liza Minnelli's sister without Rickles slapping her in the face in public like that.
So, "Nice Guy"?
A myth.
And then, he came on and did his usual hockey puck crap, and I left earlier than even I had scheduled.  

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not
e-books. But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one. If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube, and my 4-hour interview at the Television Academy's Emmy TV Legends Website.
Here's the link:  www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/mark-rothman

*****

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Anti-Tony Gwynns.

Everyone who knew him seemed to think that Tony Gwynn was not only an exemplary baseball player but also an exemplary human being.
His only major flaw proved to be his downfall: an addiction to chewing tobacco.
And even there, he led crusades to prevent kids from taking up the habit.
And of course, he died way too young.
This might have been his only flaw.
But it was a beaut.
Today, I'm going to tell you a story that I know to be true.
About the less exemplary side of some other major league baseball players.
I got this one from the horse's mouth.
From someone who was very much on the scene when it happened.
Phil Foster, who played Laverne's father on "Laverne and Shirley" was the source.
1969 was the year of the Amazin' Mets.
The year that they came from nowhere to win the World Series, and create pandemonium in New York City, and in the baseball world in general.
Some promotional genius decided to take advantage of this by booking four members of the Mets, Cleon Jones, Tommie Agee, Ed Kranepool, and Ron Swoboda, all heroes of the series in one way or another, into a three week engagement as headliners at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas.
What they were to do on stage was not quite certain.
Catch fly balls?
Hit fungoes?
Anyway, this chore was left to Phil Foster, who, along with designing the act, would emcee it, and serve as chaperone, or perhaps wrangler, if needed.
It was needed.
After the second night of their appearance, Cleon Jones and Tommie Agee were enraged.
Along with sharing a room, they also had shared two hookers.
And their plaint to Phil was that said hookers had rolled them.
They had stolen their wallets.
AFTER they had already paid them for their services.
So they were each out roughly an extra three hundred dollars.
They demanded swift retribution.
Phil had to quickly educate them in the ways of the world, and inform them that said retribution would most-likely not be forthcoming.
Cleon and Tommie stewed their way to the bar, where they proceeded to get sloshed in preparation for that evening's performance.
Like that would make a difference.
Theoretically, anyway.
But as it has been said in it's parlance, the show must go on.
So there it is, the third night of their engagement.
Phil is putting these non-performers through their paces onstage, before a packed house.
Cleon, looking out among the crowd, suddenly shouts "Tommie! Look!"
Cleon had spotted the two hookers sitting in the third row with this evening's Johns.
Cleon and Tommie, as of one mind, suddenly leap from the stage, bolting towards the hookers, both yelling versions of "Gimme back my wallet, and the money!"
The Johns were not in a chivalrous mood, and did not get involved.
Cleon and Tommie then proceeded to chase the hookers around the showroom, and both being pretty fleet afoot, grabbed the hookers and their purses, shook out the contents within, and retrieved their stolen property.
So after exacting their physical pounds of flesh from these women, they were now exacting additional metaphorical pounds of flesh from them.
All of this in front of a stunned audience, who just came to hear a few choruses of "Meet the Mets".
I suppose that sometimes swift retribution is possible.
But this is their legacy, and Tony Gwynn has his.
I think I'd prefer Tony's.

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My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not
e-books. But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one. If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube, and my 4-hour interview at the Television Academy's Emmy TV Legends Website.
Here's the link:  www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/mark-rothman

*****

Friday, June 13, 2014

Hummers.

Okay.
Last time out, I took a crap on "Petticoat Junction".
Do I think it was the worst show ever to grace the airwaves?
Hardly.
It's said that nobody starts out to make a bad sitcom.
I think that this is true.
What's also true is that a whole lotta times, people start out intending to not necessarily make a good sitcom.
It's more a matter of indifference.
Or perhaps questionable taste.
Or lack of inspiration.
I think that this was the case with "Petticoat Junction".
It also applies to such shows as:

Family Affair
My Three Sons
Petticoat Junction
Green Acres
The Doris Day Show
The Brady Bunch
The Donna Reed Show
Gilligans Island
Bridget Loves Bernie
Courtship of Eddie's Father
Mister Ed
My Favorite Martian
The Flying Nun
and countless others.
Mel Brooks has referred to these types of shows as "Hummers"
There's a noise in the living room.
A humming noise.
Somebody asks ""What's that humming noise?"
He then notices that the TV set is turned on, tuned to one of these shows.
He goes to the TV set, turns it off, and says "There.  That's better."
What "hummers" have in common is that they don't require your attention.
All they have to be is on.
What they all have in common is that they're all single-camera sitcoms.
And back in the day, they all had laugh tracks.
I don't think that laugh tracks exist any more.
I could be wrong.
If you did pay attention to them, you might notice that they were all pretty much bad shows.
But there was a high end for hummers:
The Andy Griffith Show.
Ozzie and Harriet.
Father Knows Best.
They all qualify.
The main problem is that many people actually prefer hummers to any other form of TV.
One of the most dismaying afternoons I ever spent was when we took a couple of episodes of "She's The Sheriff" to the Preview House to be tested and focus-grouped before we aired any of them.
In the focus group, one man piped up with "You know why I don't like this show?  Because you have to pay attention to it.  You can't just sit there and do a crossword puzzle or read the paper while it's on."
I don't think that this has changed.
If anything, it has gotten worse.
This is why I now prefer to write plays.
Even movies can be watched like TV.
But you have to sit in the dark to watch a play.
No crossword puzzles.
No Sudoku.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not
e-books. But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one. If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube, and my 4-hour interview at the Television Academy's Emmy TV Legends Website.
Here's the link:  www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/mark-rothman

*****

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Hooterville Conundrum *.

When I was a teenager, growing up in Queens, New York, "Petticoat Junction" was a staple of our TV viewing.
Actually, it was a staple of my mother's TV viewing.
But, as we only had one TV set, it was also absorbed into my consciousness.
I can't actually say that I had more than one eye on it at any one time.
But when my mother was watching "Petticoat Junction", it was accurate to say that all was right in the world.
Or at least, in her world.
I left, or more accurately, escaped, this home environment at about the time that Bea Benaderet passed away, and "Petticoat Junction" made whatever changes were deemed necessary to accommodate this sad event.
I knew that they schlepped in June Lockhart.
This seemed like a good fit.
At least to the untrained eye.
But once I had evacuated the premises, I never looked back as far as "Petticoat Junction" was concerned.
Imagine my horror, then, when, a few days ago, after watching a Tivoed episode of "Make Room For Daddy", it then bled into the opening credits of a post-Bea Benaderet episode of "Petticoat Junction".
The music and singing sounded similar.
But then, it "went off the track".
You had to pay close attention.
Something I never thought I'd ever say about this show.
Edgar Buchanan now received top billing.
And not only was there no indication in the lyric that his "Uncle Joe" was movin' even remotely kinda slow, but we were informed that the Shady Rest was now "run by Joe".
"Run by Joe"?
So what was it?
Did he have a hip replacement?
And who the hell was he to be runnin ' a hotel?
Conrad Hilton?
They didn't shlep in June Lockhart to replace Bea Benaderet to run the place.
According to the lyric, she was "A lady M.D. who was pretty as can be".
It doesn't seem to me that the Shady Rest needed any kind of M.D. when Bea was doing the cooking.
So was Joe not only runnin' the place but apparently also doing the cooking.
Lockhart may have been needed to handle the many cases of ptomaine poisoning that must have ensued.
On the shot of Edgar Buchanan, under his credit, he actually got up from his chair, headed for the door, and slyly beckoned you to check in at the Shady Rest.
And with the look on his face, you had the feeling that you could rent a room by the hour if you wanted to. 
No questions asked.
And that all transactions would be handled off the books.
The place had no doubt gone to seed.
And the girls in the water tower?
They no longer received billing.
How was one to keep track of the many cast replacements for these parts?
How must they have felt?
I was distressed.
I was outraged.
Imagine how my mother felt.
All things could not have been right in the world any longer for her.
Not being a woman of particularly good taste, I became aware of the extremely good taste my mother had shown in not subsequently sharing her undoubted rancor with me.
She deserved better than that.

* This one is dedicated to the memory of the great Charles Lane.

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My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not
e-books. But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one. If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube, and my 4-hour interview at the Television Academy's Emmy TV Legends Website.
Here's the link:  www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/mark-rothman

*****

Thursday, June 5, 2014

To Me, She'll Always Be Charmaine Schultz, Part Two.

I'm doing this one pretty much for myself, and a select few.
It's very much like playing to the band.
It interests me, and maybe not many others.
So, stick with me if you care to.
I knew that Ann B. Davis had won two Emmys for "The Bob Cummings Show".
But I never knew who her competition was.
Because it was something that interested me, I decided to investigate.
It was all there in Wikipedia.
All the various colors and markings are their doing.
The goal here is to determine who I think should have won all five years Ann B. Davis was nominated, and whether she was ever deserving of winning.  
The award was for Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series.
So what's the best criteria to determine this?
Well, being outstanding, for one.
Funny counts for a lot with me.
Talent and versatility are major considerations.
She must truly provide support.
And it must be a comedy series.
Those last two actually sometimes become an issue.
So I will go year by year, and dope it out.
The winner for each year is the top one listed, and tanned out, color-wise.   

1955-1956:
Nanette FabrayCaesar's HourVarious CharactersNBC
Ann B. DavisThe Bob Cummings ShowCharmaine SchultzCBS
Jean HagenMake Room for DaddyMargaret WilliamsABC
Audrey MeadowsThe HoneymoonersAlice KramdenCBS
Thelma Ritter The Catered AffairAggie HurleyNBC
19561957
(9th)
[note 1]
Pat CarrollCaesar's HourVarious CharactersNBC
Ann B. DavisThe Bob Cummings ShowCharmaine SchultzCBS
Audrey MeadowsThe Jackie Gleason ShowAlice Kramden
Mildred Natwick Blithe SpiritMadame Arcati
Vivian VanceI Love LucyEthel Mertz
19571958
(10th)
[note 1]
Ann B. DavisThe Bob Cummings ShowCharmaine SchultzCBS
Pat CarrollCaesar's HourVarious CharactersNBC
Verna FeltonDecember BrideHilda CrockerCBS
Marion LorneSallyMyrtle Banford
Vivian VanceI Love LucyEthel Mertz
19581959
(11th)
Ann B. DavisThe Bob Cummings ShowCharmaine SchultzCBS
Rosemary DeCampThe Bob Cummings ShowMargaret MacDonaldNBC
Elinor DonahueFather Knows BestBettyCBS, NBC
Verna FeltonDecember BrideHilda CrockerCBS
Kathleen NolanThe Real McCoysKate McCoyABC
Zasu PittsThe Gale Storm ShowElvira NugentCBS

1955-1956:    Nanette Fabray was easily the class of the field, in all respects.
                      She filled Imogene Coca's shoes admirably, and was every bit as funny, going toe to     
                      toe with Sid Caesar.
                     
                      Ann B. Davis broke in Schultzy, and charmed the pants off America.
                      She certainly deserved the nomination, but as she later proved, was limited in what she
                      could play, and really wasn't a laugh riot.

                      Jean Hagen, as the first Mrs. Danny Thomas, either chose to, or was forced to, not be
                       funny on this show.  And if you saw "Singin' In The Rain", you certainly know that
                       she was hilarious.  Marjorie Lord, as the second Mrs. Danny Thomas, was much
                       funnier.
 
                       Audrey Meadows was great as Alice Kramden, going at it with Gleason,  Hilarious.
                      Great timing.  She was the best of three Alice Kramdens.  She was the more talented
                      of the Meadows sisters.  But I don't recall her being even remotely funny in anything
                      else.

                      Thelma Ritter was one of the greats.  And one of the funniest.  But "A Catered Affair"
                      was a play.  A very good play.  And I'll bet she was great in it.  But it's not a comedy.
                      And it wasn't a series.  I don't know what she's doing here.

Nanette Fabray.  No contest.

1956-1957:  For pure talent and funny, nobody can beat Pat Carroll.  I worked on three series with
                     her. I wouldn't deny her anything.  She was used so sporadically on Caesar's Hour that it
                     really didn't show her off well.  I think the nomination was nothing more than a slap in
                     the face to Janet Blair, who couldn't fill Coca's or Fabray's or anybody's shoes.

                    Ann B. Davis:  Nothing either improved or got worse from the previous year.

                    Audrey Meadows:  Ditto.

                    Mildred Natwick:  What I said about Thelma Ritter essentially applies here, except I
                    never liked her work as much as Ritter's, and Blithe Spirit, though a one-shot play, was,
                    in fact, a comedy.

                    Vivian Vance:  Was always a hoot, and always made Lucy look better.  Desi knew what
                    was doing when he cast her.

Vivian Vance.  I'd have stuffed the ballot box myself.

1957-1958:  Ann B. Davis---Schultzy's first win.  I think there were better options.

                    Pat Carroll: Same issue as the previous year.

                    Verna Felton:  Played Spring Byington's best friend on "December Bride"  A walking
                    punchline.  Nobody could deliver snappers like her.  You might also remember her as
                    Dennis Day's mother on the Jack Benny Show.  Just as funny there.

                    Marion Lorne:  Given the opportunity, I would have voted for her earlier, when she was
                    nominated for Mr. Peepers, doing the same dithering act as on The Garry Moore Show
                    and Bewitched.  I think I only saw "Sally" a few times.  It wasn't good, and she couldn't
                    save it.

                    Vivian Vance:  Still Ethel, and still great.  This one's  a very close call.

I tossed a coin, and it came up Verna Felton.

1958-1959:  Ann B. Davis:  Schultzy wins again, against a considerably weaker field
                     Still doesn't get my vote.

                    Rosemary DeCamp:  Never made me laugh.

                    Elinor Donahue:  Much as I've loved her personally, folks, let's face it.  "Father Knows
                    Best" was not a comedy.

                    Verna Felton:  Another year older and just as funny.

                    Kathleen Nolan:  Never made ANYBODY laugh.

                    Zasu Pitts:  Had this Olive Oyl shtick that she did that was pretty funny, and
                    was the only thing that made "The Gale Storm Show" watchable.     


  It's once again Verna Felton.  Good thing she was in the race, or I might have had to vote for  Zasu.

So no, I suppose I don't think Ann B. Davis deserved her Emmys.
But she certainly didn't  deserve her ignominious death either.
It was very sad to hear how she went.                

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not
e-books. But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one. If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube, and my 4-hour interview at the Television Academy's Emmy TV Legends Website.
Here's the link:  www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/mark-rothman

*****

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

To Me, She'll Always Be Charmaine Schultz. Part One.

The TV news reports following the death of Ann B. Davis went pretty much as I thought they would.
Lots of attention, befitting a TV icon.
Centering almost exclusively on her work as the maid on "The Brady Bunch".
Her character name was Alice.
This was news to me.
As I only watched "The Brady Bunch" once, and realized I'd never go back, thus I never retained the name "Alice".
The TV reports all expressed mild shock that she had received two Emmy Awards.
But not for "The Brady Bunch"
Rather for a relic from the Stone Age of TV Sitcom: "The Bob Cummings Show".
That show ran for five years, from 1955 through 1959.
It had an extended life in syndication, where it was known as "Love That Bob".
For our purposes, let's refer to it that way.
The writing muscle for "The Brady Bunch" was Sherwood Schwartz.
The writing muscle for "Love That Bob" was Paul Henning.
They were both cut from the same piece of cloth.
They were both very talented writers, who both worked on very respectable shows.
Schwartz worked for Bob Hope, Ozzie and Harriet, and Red Skelton.
Henning did extensive work for Burns and Allen.
"Burns and Allen"was a very difficult show for a writer.
He'd have to keep coming up with double-entendre straight lines for the other characters to deliver to Gracie, so she could choose the wrong entendre.
And Schwartz and Henning both descended into the world of utter crap in their later careers.
Henning with   "The Beverly Hillbillies", Petticoat Junction", and "Green Acres".
Schwartz with "Gilligan's Island" and "The  Brady  Bunch"
"Love That Bob" was a MUCH better show than "The Brady Bunch".
But that's not really saying much.
"Love That Bob" was pretty funny.
And Henning was still flexing his writing chops.
And it starred a wonderful light comedian, Bob Cummings.
The dialogue was excellent.
It was hardball comedy.
And it was probably the first sitcom to equally use the home environment and the office environment.
"The Dick Van Dyke Show" is usually given credit for that, but "Love That Bob" preceded it by about five years.
But there was an underlying problem with "Love That Bob".
The premise was unredeemingly dopey.
Dopey along the lines of "If the Professor can come up with all these inventions, why can't he build a raft to get them all off the island?"
Cummings played a glamor boy Hollywood Photographer.
Your standard wolf.
He lived in a house with his sister (Rosemary DeCamp), and her son, (Dwayne Hickman).
It was never established whose house it was.
Bob and his sister were constantly arguing about something.
Usually about how Bob's womanizing was a bad influence on her son.
Or about how his sister's constant meddling in his life was untenable.
This led to a lot of plots that involved scheming.
A lower form of comedy.
And it all begged the question "Why did they all live in the same house?
If it was her house, why didn't he just live somewhere else?
If it was his house, why didn't he just have them leave?
This was the major question we dealt with on "The Odd Couple"
If they drove each other that crazy, why did they stay together?
We all resolved it by calling attention to the fact that deep-down, they loved each other.
There seemed to be no love in the Cummings household.  Only scheming.
It was a shallow sitcom.
Ann B. Davis was an oasis on this show, playing Bob's hopelessly smitten secretary at his studio.
Smitten with Bob, and all men in general.
She was totally charming.
Perhaps more charming than funny.
But funny nonetheless.
It's just the kind of character that wouldn't fly today because of the brazenness of her man-chasing.
And it didn't help that she wasn't particularly attractive.
It was the same dynamic that existed in those MGM musicals where Betty Garrett chased after Frank Sinatra when he was smitten with Esther Williams.
But the curse was somewhat taken off because Betty Garrett was attractive in her own right.
No Esther Williams, but still attractive.
And she'd always end up with him.
Ann B. Davis's character's name on "Love That Bob" was "Schultzy", short for "Charmaine Schultz"
When I was in my early twenties, and people still remembered "Schultzy", I would stump my colleagues with the question "What was "Schultzy"'s first name?"
I was the only one who knew it was "Charmaine".
And now, I seem to be the only one who remembers that she played "Schultzy"

She was nominated for the Emmy for all five years that "Love That Bob" was on.
She won for the last two.
Next time, I'm going to go down the list of nominees for that award for those years to offer up my thoughts on who should have won..

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not
e-books. But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one. If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube, and my 4-hour interview at the Television Academy's Emmy TV Legends Website.
Here's the link:  www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/mark-rothman

*****

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Return Of Dr. Rothman, Tune Detective.

The song "Blue Moon" had a quite checkered career.
It ended up being a standard, and an enormous hit.
But not without a lot of bumps and bruises along the way.
It was written by Rodgers and Hart.
Rodgers was apparently totally in love with the melody.
But Hart kept churning out new lyrics for it to suit the occasion.
The occasion usually being that the old ones kept getting rejected, and cut out of the movies they were written for.
Rodgers was quite protective of Hart.
Apparently far more than Hart was protective of himself.
The song was first written for an MGM movie called "Hollywood Party", to be sung by Jean Harlow.
with lyric that began....
'Oh Lord, if you're not busy up there,
I ask for help with a prayer
So please don't give me the air . . ."
It was cut from the film. 
The song was not even recorded and MGM Song #225 "Prayer (Oh Lord, make me a movie star)" dated June 14, 1933, was registered for copyright as an unpublished work on July 10, 1933.
Undaunted, Lorenz Hart wrote new lyrics for the tune to create a title song for the 1934 film "Manhattan Melodrama"----
"Act One:
You gulp your coffee and run
Into the subway you crowd
Don’t breathe, it isn’t allowed".
The song, which was also titled "It's Just That Kind of Play", was cut from the film before release, and registered for copyright as an unpublished work on March 30, 1934. The studio then asked for a nightclub number for the film. Rodgers still liked the melody so Hart wrote a third lyric: "The Bad in Every Man":
"Oh, Lord . . .
I could be good to a lover
But then I always discover
The bad in ev’ry man"-----
It was sung by Shirley Ross
The song, which was also released as sheet music, was not a hit.
Some publicist suggested that more romantic lyrics would turn it into a hit, and Hart went bacj to the typewriter and came up with what we now know as "Blue Moon".

It began:

Blue moon
You saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love on my own
Blue moon
You knew just what I was there for
You heard me saying a prayer for
Someone I really could care for....

This is where the bumps and bruises really began.
In 1949, Mel Torme recorded "Blue Moon"
A pretty great recording.
But he took a very minor liberty with the lyrics.
He thought "prayer for" and "care for" was a false rhyme.
So he recorded it as:
You heard me saying a prayer....
For someone I really could care for.
He thought that this leant authenticity to it.
So do I.
Not so Richard Rodgers.
He sent off a nasty missive to Torme, berating him for tampering with Hart's perfection.
I told you he was quite protective of Hart.
And this was six years after Hart was dead.
I don't know if Hart would have given a shit.
But the message was clear: "Don't mess with my songs!!"

Cut to:  About eight years later.  A group of one-hit wonders named The Shepherd Sisters come out with an early Doo-Wop recording called "Alone, Why Must I Be Alone"
Big hit.
It was "Blue Moon" speeded up and Doo-Wopped up, sideways.
Just barely recognizable as "Blue Moon".
Four years after that, a legitimate Doo-Wop group, The Marcels, had a much bigger hit by verticalizing it, and, in the same style, did it as "Blue Moon"
They pulled absolutely no punches with it.
Theirs was the version that started with:
Bom ba ba bom ba bom ba bom bom ba ba bom ba ba bom ba ba dang a dang dang
Ba ba ding a dong ding Blue moon moon blue moon dip di dip di dip
Moo Moo Moo Blue moon dip di dip di dip Moo Moo Moo Blue moon dip di dip di dip
Bom ba ba bom ba bom ba bom bom ba ba bom ba ba bom ba ba dang a dang dang
Ba ba ding a dong ding......
I would love to have been a fly on the wall the day that Richard Rodgers heard this rendition for the first, and probably only time.

P.S.---I recently listened to a wonderful CD called "Two of a Kind", featuring duets by Bobby Darin and Johnny Mercer.
The songs were mostly ones that Mercer had written.
Among them was "If I Had My 'Druthers", which Mercer wrote, with Gene DePaul, for the Broadway Musical "Li'l Abner", in 1956.
It occurred to me that about five years later, America began hearing a tune that was essentially "If I Had My 'Druthers", slightly bouncier and a little jazzier, on a weekly basis.
It was the theme of The Dick Van Dyke Show.
Written by someone other than Mercer and DePaul.
Coincidence?
Perhaps.
I'm not here to judge.
Just to report.
 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not
e-books. But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one. If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube, and my 4-hour interview at the Television Academy's Emmy TV Legends Website.
Here's the link:  www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/mark-rothman

*****

Followers

About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at macchus999@aol.com. Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."