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Friday, May 10, 2013

Back To The OTN.

I'm offering up two more nominees for the OTN today.
Two medical shows.
Both class acts.
First, "The Nurses"
Later to be known as "The Doctors and the Nurses"
CBS's answer to Casey and Kildare.
But it was shot in New York, exec produced by Herbert Brodkin, who was exec producer for "The Defenders"
The dialogue and storytelling were first rate.
It had a much grittier feel to it than Casey and Kildare.
It was kind of the predecessor to "East Side/West Side" in that regard.
The performances were uniformly excellent.
The leads were Shirl Conway and Zina Bethune.
I had only seen Shirl Conway before this on her frequent appearances on one of the Sid Caesar Shows.
Zina Bethune, as the young, cute student nurse, was completely unknown to me at the time.
I found her to be just barely cute.
In life, she was also a dancer.
She had later experienced many crippling physical injuries.
In life, I didn't find her to be cute at all.

I was spared a very awkward situation involving Zina Bethune.
I was on the set of "Laverne and Shirley", and there was Zina Bethune sitting in the bleachers.
I didn't know why.
But she quickly cornered me.
She knew I was casting a regular for my series "Busting Loose"
It was the part that I wanted Loni Anderson for, and we had just signed Barbara Rhoades for it.
It required the character to be a glamor-puss.
Something Loni Anderson and Barbara Rhoades both were, and something Zina Bethune decidedly was not.
She asked if she could audition for it.
Rather than having to dance around the fact that she wasn't attractive enough for it, I was able to say to her with total accuracy that the boat had sailed, and she was not on it.
Barbara Rhoades was.
Anyway, I'd really like to see this series again.

The other series I'm placing in nomination is "St. Elsewhere"
When it was on, it was my favorite show.
Utterly inventive, particularly for its time.
When it was on, if anyone asked me what the funniest show on television was, I invariably said "St Elsewhere"
Because unlike, say "Cheers", where you could feel the actors nervousness if they didn't get a laugh every eleven seconds, "St. Elsewhere was totally steeped in its dramatic story line.
And it usually took one attempt per episode to blindside the audience to laugh really hard.
And with me, they always succeeded.
And that was a far more gut level bellylaugh than anything they ever attempted in any 22 minute segment of "Cheers"
It had one of the most bizarre endings of any series, in which, in a variation of "Rosebud" from "Citizen Kane", the entire series took place in the imagination of an autistic child.
Maybe this has diminished its rerun value.
But not for me.
Every series comes from SOMEONE's imagination.
Whether an autistic child's, or merely a neurotic adult writer's.
It had a particular affinity and fondness for casting comedians.
Almost every cast member of the old Steve Allen Show, including Steve and Jayne, made appearances on "St. Elsewhere".
A case could be made that it was a comedy disguised as a drama.
It was quite effective, and I miss it terribly.

We'll continue next time.

Mark Rothman, CEO of the OTN.


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 & 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
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne & Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.




    For years, the Conventional Wisdumb has been that the "Rosebud" ending is the reason for ST.E's lack of success in syndie.
    The rules for syndie selling have been in constant flux for some time.
    Current CW holds that only sitcoms can be successfully stripped (5-a-week); Dramas demand too much commitment to hold old viewers and attract new ones in weeknight primetime.
    Some stations run dramas on weekends in late fringe; these tend to be crime shows (some of which are still in network first-run).
    This changeover came about only in the last 20 years. I remember ST. ELSEWHERE and LOU GRANT having brief post-network runs here in Chicago on Ch9 (I don't think it was a superstation yet).
    This situation won't change any time soon.
    The ad men who set the "rules" are governed wholly by whatever's "hot" at the moment.

    A similar situation is brewing at MeTV and its imitators (like Antenna, Cozi, and a few others).
    They're all drawing from the same pool of shows, endlessly copying and repeating each other.
    The more unusual shows (like the ones we're talking about here) are becoming more marginalized into fringier timeslots.
    Thus hidden away, they draw lesser audiences than the better-known "classics" that seem to be on all the channels at once (or twice or three times).
    Someone once wrote that there ought to be a TCM for TV - a station that dug up and ran some of the real oldies IN PRIME TIME (sorry, but you don't have italics here).
    OK,that's never gonna happen, but we can always hope ...

  2. "A case could be made that it was a comedy disguised as a drama"

    Had ST ELSEWHERE been an out-and-out undisguised comedy, maybe people wouldn't have cared about the whole series being imaginary. Look at how NEWHART ended.

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  5. Loved St. Elsewhere. My nomination for the OTN is Shane. 1966. David Carradine and Jill Ireland. Good potential, but it only lasted one season.

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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 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."