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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Students Day On The OTN.

On the last post, there was a comment offering up "Mr. Novak" as a potential candidate for the OTN.
Coincidentally enough, I was going to offer it up myself today.
So I will.
"Mr. Novak" was a very well done dramatic series about a high school teacher.
Sort of a serious "Mister Peepers"
But then, the sixties were a much more serious time than the fifties.
It ran for almost three seasons, beginning in 1963.
Mr. Novak was portrayed very sincerely and rather interestingly by James Franciscus.
The principal, Mr. Vane, was played by Dean Jagger, who, with his stuttering style, managed to steal every scene that he was in.
The two of them had a sort of Doctor Kildare-Doctor Gillespie relationship, similar to the way Richard Chamberlain and Raymond Massey played them.
The show was very intelligent, and very well written.
Two things stand out: One, I was going to High School at the time, and all the actors and actresses playing students seemed to be about five years older than me.
Two, was Mr. Novak's car.
He had what I think was a 1963 Dodge Lancer station wagon.
The Lancer was a compact car.
This was the only version of its station wagon that I have ever seen.
It served two purposes: It showed how little Mr. Novak cared about appearing "cool", unlike all of his students.
It also gave insight on just how little income High School teachers were making.
Where has the show been, and why can't we see it now?

The other series for Students Day ran in 1962 and 1963.
It was called "Fair Exchange"
About two families, one British and one American, who swapped daughters so they could be exchange students in each others countries.
The two fathers were war buddies, and they worked it out.
It may have been the only one-hour sitcom on record.
I was quite taken with it.
It had quality writing, it had Eddie Foy Jr., who was hilarious as the american father (and everything else he ever tried his hand at), and it had two young ladies as the exchange students who were the cutest things going, at the height of their cuteness.
The British girl was Judy Carne, who set my heart and my loins aflutter.
This was before she married Burt Reynolds, and got into legal troubles, and did other things to knock the bloom off the rose.
The American girl was Lynn Loring, precisely as adorable, who went on to become a major executive at one of the major studios.
I remember passing her office on the studio lot where she worked, sticking my head in the door, seeing her, and saying "I loved you on "Fair Exchange"
She, of course, looked at me as if I had three heads.
Perhaps she didn't want to be reminded of her past.
I did, and still do.
There was a bit of a kerfuffle when it was cancelled after only one season.
But it was kerfuffle enough by its cult following to get it renewed for a second season.
Sometimes we do have power.

Until 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.



  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I remember "Mr. Novak" as being a kind of daily double with "Dr. Kildare", from MGM-TV.
    If I recall correctly, James Franciscus was a finalist for "Kildare", losing out to Richard Chamberlain; "Novak" was kind of a consolation prize.
    "Novak" only ran two seasons, from '63 to '65. Midway through the second season, Dean Jagger fell ill and had to leave; Burgess Meredith was the emergency replacement - this may or may not have figured in the cancellation.
    Why isn't "Novak" available now? You'd have to ask the Turner interests, who control all MGM properties.
    Maybe it's the Curse of Black&White.
    Good luck with the Fire Commithioner.

    "Fair Exchange" has a strange history.
    It came on the fall of '62 as an hour-long show, and was cancelled in mid-season.
    There were protests, as you said, but the one that counted came from the show's self-proclaimed "biggest fan" - Lucille Ball.
    "Fair Exchange" was a Desilu show, which of course counted for a lot with CBS.
    Lucy (or as Parkyakarkus called her, "Louise Balls") twisted some arms, and "Fair Exchange" came back in the spring of'63 as a half-hour. Lucy herself did the promos (" ... my favorite show ..."), to little avail.
    This split-season made syndication sales problematic, and the show was left to drift in the wind.
    I was 12 when "Fair Exchange" was on, and I and my one-year-older brother liked it fine.
    Especially the English 12-year-old son, played by Dennis Waterman; he was a smartass (as we were).
    Today Dennis Waterman is a major star of British TV crime shows, and has been for years.
    Currently he's in a show called "New Tricks", playing the Cockney cop character that he's had a patent on since the late '70s. (Many PBS stations carry this series in off-hours, and you can get it on DVD.)

    "More Than You Wanted To Know" will return.

  3. I wanted to take a moment to thank Mark for his book I'm Not Garbo.
    It was an absolute joy to read. I read it in one sitting. The writing is so clever you just can't put it down. You know from his writing here on the blog that he has a great way of telling a story. Well, the same is true of the book. It has a wonderful flow to it. Every turn was a surprise. Just amazing, original work.
    Thanks, Mark.


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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."