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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Voices Of The OTN.

I indicated when we started this that it would be a cooperative effort.
The Comment section has been so loaded, and colorful, and full of good ideas, and funny the past two times, that I thought it would be a good idea to at least share the highlights of it with you in Prime Time.
The Comment section is usually ignored around here, for good reason.
There are usually so few of them.
But not for the last two posts.
You've really gotten into the swing of things.
So, without further ado, the Comments:

Lee Markham: April 27, 2013 at 1:33 PM
I enjoy tuning in to some of the old anthology series, a genre apparently too expensive for today's production budgets. Some compelling stories came out of that era, and some of my favorites were Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Twilight Zone, and, long before Michael Jackson made a song out of the title, Thriller. Of course, all of these now show up now on those alternative broadcast networks like MeTV, for which I'm grateful. You can even see some of this stuff on YouTube.

Kirk: April 27, 2013 at 4:54 PM
After he left All in the Family, Rob Reiner starred in a very short-lived show called Free Country, in which he played a turn-of-the-last-century immigrant right off the boat from Ellis Island. I think it was a summer replacement show in 1977. I was 16 at the time and found it very funny. I don't know if I'd find it funny now. Only the opening credits are on YouTube.

mark rothman: April 27, 2013 at 6:39 PM
Free Country was a very good show.
I'd certainly like to see it again.

Stef: April 28, 2013 at 10:13 AM
I would love to see "The Rogues" (1964-65) again. It starred David Niven, Charles Boyer, and Gig Young as a trio of retired con men who still pulled the occasional heist. From week to week they rotated in the lead, ala Maverick, abetted by a wonderful support cast including Robert Coote and Gladys Cooper. Impressive guest start list, too. It was a kind of predecessor to today's "Leverage".

mark rothman: April 28, 2013 at 6:01 PM
"The Rogues" was fun, and is definitely a candidate. The only problem I had with it is that as the run proceeded, Gig Young had the lead roughly three out of four times. Kind of like if Jack Kelly had the lead three out of four times on "Maverick"
By the way, all these deleted comments were spam, directing you to their websites. It's nothing editorial.

Mark Murphy: April 28, 2013 at 7:15 PM
The OTN -- what a great idea!

A few suggestions:

"The Practice," which marked the only time I ever found Danny Thomas to be funny, and created by Steve Gordon, who, of course, did "Arthur." I'd be curious to see whether I'd still find Thomas -- and the show -- funny.

"Trials of O'Brien," with Peter Falk. This was one of those tantalizing shows from when I was a kid -- meaning that I somehow sensed that it was a very good show, though I was too young to understand it. I do remember one episode about (I think) a murder among vaudevillians, called "Dead End on Flugel Street." I think it featured Milton Berle. And wasn't Elaine Stritch a regular? I'd be curious to know your opinion.

Maybe "The Law and Mr. Jones," with James Whitmore. I barely remember this, but Whitmore usually made anything worthwhile. (OK, maybe not "Temperatures Rising"....) He also co-starred in a short-lived show called "My Friend Tony," which I remember liking at the time.

Dick Powell's anthology series, which one cable channel did show some years ago. (As I recall, you share my enthusiasm for this, too.)

I hope I'm not overloading your program schedule....

mark rothman: April 28, 2013 at 9:51 PM
Mark, You've brought up 3 out of 4 shows that I was going to bring up.
I've seen, and written about "The Law and Mr. Jones", which had an extensive run on the Nostalgia Channel when it existed.
It held up very well.
"The Practice" and Danny Thomas were VERY funny.
Danien did no spit-takes in this one.
Elaine Stritch played Peter Falk's secretary, and "O'Brien" was wonderful.

Anonymous: April 29, 2013 at 5:41 AM
"Meet McGraw" a one-named detective played by two-named Frank Lovejoy.

Mike Doran: April 29, 2013 at 10:32 AM
Ahhhh ...
I'm home.

First off, THE ROGUES is part of the MeTV inventory.
It was airing in the Sat-Sun overnights for while, before giving way to BURKE'S LAW (V.O.), which has the spot now (and since they're now running the crap spy shows that killed it, that spot should be opening up shortly).
I believe the problem you mentioned stemmed from David Niven not wanting to do much heavy lifting at that point.
Thus, Gig Young took up some slack, and they were in the process of breaking in Larry Hagman as a backstop.

TRIALS OF O'BRIEN is an all-time favorite; kind of the flip side of PERRY MASON.
What I remember mainly is how Peter Falk's typecast was back in the '60s.
Falk was the Joe Pesci of that time: fast-talking, loud, in-your-face.
Remember O'BRIEN's teaser title? Falk's hands in close-up, gesticulating furiously, followed by his face, in several degrees of lawyerly concern(?).
Not only Elaine Stritch as his secretary, but also David Burns as his legman, and even Joanna Barnes as his ex-wife, and for that matter Ilka Chase as his mother-in-law (who was on his side).
I recall one review: "Falk is irresistable - you sit back and root for him."
Just not enough of us, I guess.
The moral is clear: don't kick off your great series opposite GET SMART.

Many series are kept off the market because of ownership issues: who owns the rights, the words, the films (not always the same people).
Back then, nobody believed that TV shows would have any kind of shelf life beyond their original airing.
The very idea that anybody would be willing to watch a filmed show (or even a live or taped one, comes to that) as much as a second time ... preposterous.
So live shows weren't preserved, and kinescopes got dumped, and early videotapes got taped over or wiped, and films were left in vaults to deteriorate.
That last is what's happening to THE DEFENDERS (who owns that one?).

There's something called the "collector-to-collector" marketplace (C2C to its inhabitants), wher copies of "lost" series and specials can be found in varying stages of decrepitude - watchable, but often just barely.
In my DVD/VHS wall at home, I've got scads of ancient (and sometimes not-so-ancient) TV, more than enough to start my own OTN.
I may soon start plaguing you with some of these.
Consider yourself warned.

mark rothman: April 29, 2013 at 2:53 PM
I hope by "plaguing" me, it means sending me some.

Guy: April 29, 2013 at 4:13 PM
I know this would be second or third hand but I'd be curious if you had any stories from those writers about working with Keefe Brasselle. I recently learned about his existence from Kliph Nesteroff's Classicshowbizblogspot and am fascinated to hear anything I can about him.
Thanks

Mike Doran: April 29, 2013 at 5:05 PM
I don't know if you're familiar with a book titled "The Box" by Jeff Kisseloff.
It's an oral history of American TV, a bunch of interview excerpts strung together into a loose narrative.
In a section about TV variety, "The Keefe Brasselle Show" is covered in some detail, much of it from its producer, Greg Garrison.
One story has to do with Garrison trying to get Brasselle to stop delaying his appearance onstage (" ...you don't make your audience wait ...").
Brasselle finally went on - but not before putting out a hit on Garrison.
Garrison got this news from Rocky Graziano, who was a regular on the show, and who expressed displeasure at Brasselle's action ( "... crazy fuckin' wop ..." was his exact characterization).
Garrison spent that night at Graziano's apartment, while Rocky spent several hours on the phone, "squaring" the matter with various people who were in the position to do so.

That is a representative story, not only about Brasselle, but also of Garrison's many experiences over years of TV. It made me regret that Greg Garrison never got around to doing his own book.

"The Box", the Kisseloff book I stole this story from, is worth tracking down.

I can also send you to a blog called "Mystery*File", where I often contribute comments about ancient and semi-modern TV, mainly in the mystery/crime/detective genres; I expect that there will be a certain amount of crossover between here and there in coming days.

mark rothman: April 29, 2013 at 7:04 PM
Mike, I have read "The Box" It is a very good book.
I have often referred to my late friend and colleague, the legendary Harry Crane, who was the head writer on the Dean Martin Show, which Greg Garrison produced. He told me that Greg and Dean were very much alike.
Both of them were lazy and didn't want to work too hard.
I think it showed.
One of my eccentricities was that I was able to rattle off all of the first names of all the original Gold-diggers.
I had the opportunity to perform this parlor trick in a social situation to one of the actual Gold-diggers.
She, of course, then spent the rest of the night on the other side of the room, as far away from me as she could get.
Speaking of hit-men, I am reminded of a great monologue joke that Letterman did when Sinatra was still alive.
Sinatra was going into the mens neckwear business. This was true. According to Letterman, "They're planning to call it
"Alleged Mob Ties"

Mark Murphy: April 29, 2013 at 8:54 PM
Ah, Keefe Brasselle. I remember when he wrote "The CanniBalS." A while back I found a clip on YouTube of him on the Colgate Comedy Hour. It's still there. And still jaw-droppingly awful, I'm sure. (I can't work up the nerve to watch it again.)

I never saw "The Reporter" -- I was too young to be allowed to stay up for it. But it looked interesting and now, having spent 30 years in the newspaper business before bailing, I'd be interested in seeing it.

I do remember "The Baileys of Balboa" and Cara Williams' show.

My family kind of liked "Baileys" -- it featured Paul Ford, Sterling Holloway and, as their nemesis, the great John Dehner (who also did a good job of playing Paladin on the radio, not to mention his guest roles on "Gunsmoke"). Perhaps the material was weak, but these pros were fun to watch.

We liked the Cara Williams show less, and I've been wondering lately how it was that Frank Aletter managed to co-star in practically every sitcom that was on the air when I was a kid. Or at least it seemed that way.

But there was one small, saving grace about the Williams show: a secondary character, a dippy jazz musician named Fletcher Kincaid, played by the great Jack Sheldon, who (I was later to learn) was (and still is) a real and really good musician. There's a recent documentary about him that I hope to see at some point.

mark rothman: April 29, 2013 at 10:19 PM
I have that whole "Colgate Comedy Hour" on videotape.
The more you watch of it, the more you hate it.
I understand that Cara Williams was one of the great impossible people to work with, a la Keefe Brasselle.
I wrote a post about Jack Sheldon.
I think it's still on the blog.
He's had a stroke.
I don't know if he's recovered well enough to play the horn again.
The documentary was great.

*****

More entries next time.

Mark Rothman, CEO of the OTN.



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******

7 comments:

  1. Phil In PhoenixMay 1, 2013 at 4:14 PM

    This may be a first; a flashback/best-of episode on a rerun network. Or maybe this is OTN's first reality show:)

    And I'd like to nominate "Get A Life" to be added to the lineup. It was Chris Elliot's quirky, bizarre, very original sit-com. It also featured Bob Elliot as Chris's father(typecasting) and Brian Doyle-Murray. A warped and very entertaining show.

    ReplyDelete
  2. A couple of quickies before I go home ... :

    - Jim Aubrey's CBS reign actually dates back to 1958.
    TV GUIDE ran a profile of him at that time, just as he'd been lured away from ABC.
    In those days, it took time to pile up points at the net, with which you could put away those who displeased you.
    Aubrey's hsitory at CBS was mainly about playing the brass off against each other (news vs. entertainment, business vs. politics, etc.), always keeping himself above (or beside) it. Eventually the power went to his head, and he lost everything.

    - Anthology: My favorite "lost" show is 'WAY OUT, a taped spook show from New York, hosted by a pre-WILLY WONKA Roald Dahl. By far the creepiest series of its kind ever.
    'WAY OUT was thrown together in a hurry to replace Jackie Gleason's ad hoc talk show (the one he threw together in the wake of YOU'RE IN THE PICTURE).
    I understand that David Susskind saved the whole series and donated them to the Paley Center in NYC.
    All I have are some scratchy bootleg VHSs, with original L&M commercials by the Limeliters.

    - Out of time and memory for now.
    More tomorrow (maybe ...)

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  3. For Phil in Phoenix: To paraphrase the late Sammy Cahn, "Reruns is our business, reruns is what we sell"

    ReplyDelete
  4. I would like to see The Great Adventure again. It was a CBS show from around 1964. It was an anthology series about historic events produced by John Houseman and had a great theme song. Dennis Morgan

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  5. The ol' memory bank just disgorged another one ...

    Around 1958, ther was a panel game called KEEP TALKING.

    Over two seasons, it went through several hosts and two networks.

    The host I remember was Carl Reiner; there were two teams of three celebrities, two men and a lady each.

    The game: Reiner would call out one celeb from each team - say, Morey Amsterdam and Paul Winchell.
    Reiner would give each of them a gag phrase, sent in by a home audience member.
    Reiner would then start a story, going for about 30 seconds; then a buzzer would go off, and Amsterdam would pick up where Reiner left off; 30 more seconds, the buzzer would sound again,and Winchell would pick up and go for the next 30; back and forth for about three minutes total.
    Amsterdam and Winchell would each have to work in the gag phrase they'd been given; After they'd finished, their teammates would have to guess what the gag phrases were. Whatever success they had in the guessing determined how much money the viewers who'd sent in the gag phrases would win.
    The other celebs that I remember were Joey Bishop, Pat Carroll, Peggy Cass, Danny Dayton, and occasionally Orson Bean.
    KEEP TALKING ran one season on CBS, then another season on ABC, then gone.
    I can't find it on YouTube or anywhere else, and most reference books get the details of the game wrong.
    Hell, maybe I got them wrong too; I'm going mainly from memory.
    I do remember that my brother and I (9 and 10 at the time) loved this show, and always wished it would come back.

    More hit-and-miss memories as they happen, here on OTN!

    ReplyDelete
  6. You could be qualified for a complimentary Apple iPhone 7.

    ReplyDelete
  7. You might be qualified for a complimentary $1,000 Amazon Gift Card.

    ReplyDelete

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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 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."