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Monday, August 19, 2013

Another Game Show Day On The OTN.

I've been looking at some DVDs of some old game shows, and found two of them that are worthy of OTN status.
One of them is timeless, and the other is very much of its time.
The first is "Masquerade Party"
I remember going to an airing of an episode of "Masquerade Party" when it was in its heyday.
The late fifties.
I remember afterwards asking for and getting Johnny Olsen's autograph.
He was "Masquerade Party's announcer.
He was everybody's announcer.
He was very nice.
"Masquerade Party" had all the earmarks of a Goodson-Todman production.
It had four celebrity panelists.
It had a game that was almost clever.
It had Johnny Olsen.
But it was not a Goodson-Todman production.
A celebrity was made up in a rubber mask and a costume, and the panel, with the help of rather subtle clues, had to guess who the Mystery Celebrity was.
It gave the celebrity a chance to stretch, and put on accents.
It was always very entertaining.
They revived it in the 1970's with Richard Dawson as host.
Again, it was not a Goodson-Todman production.
It was out of the same stable that gave us "Let's Make A Deal", Heatter-Quigley.
This time around, it was in color.
And the game was exactly the same, and exactly as good.
There is no reason why it can't be done today.
Just as entertainingly, and just as successfully.

The other OTN entry is "The Movie Game"
It was on in the late 60's.
Larry Blyden was the host.
Another Johnny, in this instance Johnny Gilbert, better known as the announcer on "Jeopardy", and for pronouncing the word "dollars" as "dolluz", was the announcer here.
Although there were far fewer dolluz at stake.
They had real movie stars as panelists.
They usually asked rather esoteric questions about old movies.
And I always knew the answers.
This is all why they can't do this show today.
Either they'd do it the same way, and I'd know all the answers, or they'd contemporize it and a younger audience would know all the answers, and I wouldn't know anything.
My movie mind turned off somewhere in the early nineties.
And now, there are certainly a lot more of them.
To this day, I can't tell Johnny Depp, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, or Brad Pitt apart from one another.
And there would be no legitimate movie stars who would be willing to be panelists.
Certainly none of the above-mentioned.
But the original version was very entertaining, and made me feel like a genius.
Particularly when I knew more than the movie stars themselves.
They once had Shirley Jones on as a panelist.
The gimmick was that they showed miniature versions of sets from famous movies.
They showed an exterior western street.
They even had a miniature Wells Fargo Wagon.
Larry Blyden even referred to it, with other clues.
With all of this help, Shirley Jones could not identify it as the set from "The Music Man"
You know.
The movie she starred in?

I live for such moments.

Mark Rothman, CEO of the OTN.


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  1. Heatter-Quigley didn't produce the '70s version of MASQUERADE PARTY.

    It was Hatos-Hall - Hall as in Monty.

    I didn't get to see this one, because no station in Chicago bought it.

    I do remember the original from the'50s-'60s.
    I have some tapes/DVDs of the '50s show, one of whose regular panelists was Ogden Nash.
    I'd like to find some of the last two seasons from the turn of the '60s, when MASQUERADE was produced by Allan Sherman, who'd just been kicked to the curb by Goodson-Todman.
    Sherman described the experience in his autobiography - how he was so humiliated to be working for Ed Wolf Associates that he didn't want his name on the credits, and how he came to like his new co-workers so much that by the end of the run he demanded credit.
    I remember a contest that MP had in its last season: for four weeks, a celebrity would appear in a different disguise, and give a clue top his identity; viewers would send in entries guessing who he was. On the fifth week, the celebrity would reveal his true self, and then choose an entry to win a big prize. Think that might work today?

    Running out of time here. More tomorrow (maybe) ...

  2. Mike, I just watched a color episode of "Masquerade Party", and on the end credits, with Kenny Williams announcing, as he did on all such occasions,
    he said, and they said "A Heatter-Quigley Production"
    I know that Heatter-Quigley were pretty much in bed with Monty Hall, something I would not care to fathom for anyone, although for what it's worth,
    it did provide us with Joanna Gleason.

  3. What I recall most about the MOVIE GAME was the day Buddy Hackett echoed my sentiments. MOVIE GAME had a big contest at one time in which if the celebrity panel scored 250 points, someone at home would win hundreds of thousands of dollars in prizes. Even as a little kid I realized that, in that incarnation of the game, it was only physically possible to attain a score of 240 (basically a blitz of the other team). I still can't believe I saw this and that it was actually aired, but Buddy Hackett on the celebrity panel said, "How can someone at home get the big prize when the highest possible score is 240?" I sat with mouth agape. Oh, to find a copy of that episode!!!!

  4. I wrote that comment late yesterday, just before I went home.

    When I got home, just to be sure, I checked "The Encyclopedia Of Game shows", by Fred Westbrock (I think), which is as detailed and definitive as anything on my reference shel.
    According to this book, '70s MASQUERADE PARTY was a Hatos-Hall Production, executive produced by Stefan Hatos and Monty Hall.
    Today, back in the office, I checked IMDb and Wikipedia; they both say Hatos-Hall.
    Then I went to YouTube .
    Very little of the '70s MP is in there, just clips of little more than a few minutes length.
    BUT ...
    One of those clips is the show's opening, with a disguised celeb all got up as a zany judge.
    And the voice doing the announcing is unmistakably Jay Stewart, who was to Monty Hall as Kenny Williams was to Heatter-Quigley.

    The only real connection between Monty Hall and Heatter-Quigley was VIDEO VILLAGE, whioh Hall hosted for H-Q before he went independent with YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION (which is another entry for another time ...).

    And just to tie this up even more ...
    ...before he hosted VIDEO VILLAGE, Monty Hall was the original host of another show I mentioned a while back, KEEP TALKING - which was produced by Ed Wolf, the producer of the original MASQUERADE PARTY back in the '50s (and it seems that loads more of those MASQUERADEs have survived on YouTube).

    I have no explanation for your MP/HQ experience, save possibly that it's a corporate replay of Vic Tayback/Carmine Caridi from a few weeks back ...
    ... and one more thing: I happened to watch THE CHEAP DETECTIVE a few days ago, and who do you suppose turned up side by side as cops in that picture?

    This is what happens when you get me going, Mark.
    Wanna try again?

  5. Monty's first game show, BINGO AT HOME. A piece of it is on You Tube. Monty told me that the show lost it's shirt - they had no idea that there would be so many winners. The concept was ill-conceived.

  6. Mike, who am I supposed to believe? You, or my lyin' eyes?
    Maybe a shift happened along the way.
    As they say in the trade, "shift happens"

  7. Permit me to backtrack to the original run of MASQUERADE PARTY, specifically to the last two seasons it was on, 1958-60.
    As I mentioned above, Allan Sherman, having been decommissioned by Goodson-Todman, had been brought in by Ed Wolf, to produce the show for whta was going to be a summer run.
    Unexpectedly, he found that MP would going on in the fall, and decided to buckle and actively try things that hadn't been done before.
    The "maquerades" were turned into small-scaleproductions, with sets and sometimes music accompanying , and the host (Bert Parks at that point) and panelists were sometimes called on to participate in the bits.
    A couple that I still remember after all these years:
    - Buster Keaton as an old-maid librarian, sitting under a sign reading SILENCE (get it?). After the game, Keaton performed a pantomime bit of a guy sitting at home, trying to do simple things like playing solitaire and having a sandwich and making a mess. This was at the tail of a live broadcast and Keaton's bit ran over, which almost made it funnier.
    - Paul Winchell and Edgar Bergen as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; one would take a quaff of potion and duck behind the set,and the other would emerge in an even uglier mask.
    This was the first time Winchell and Bergen had ever appeared together professionally. After the game, Jerry Mahoney and Charlie McCarthy appeared side by side to recite a Halloween poem (I was 9 at the time, and duly impressed).
    - Elsa Lanchester as Anne Boleyn, with 'er 'ead tucked underneath 'er arm. This was a live show, and some of the things Mrs. Laughton did with that head ... well, suffice to say that this is one show that I wish had survived.
    Elsa, as I recall, did sing a bit of the Anne Boleyn sond quoted before.
    - Ivy Baker Priest, then Treasurer of the United States, in a chef's outfit with a tray of cookies for the panel.
    After the game Mrs. Priest signed some dollar bills, using Bert Parks's back as a desk.
    - And of course, there was that contest I mentioned before, with four clues leading to the ID of the Secret Celebrity Masquerader. I can only recall two of the clues:
    In one, the SCM was the Devil, who announced "No more shall I descend where once I prospered!"
    This referred to the SCM having once "worked underground" like the Devil (unaware that in the future he would indeed "descend" once more - that's a clue of my own).
    -In another clue, the SCM was a jailbird in an open cell, with snow swirling all around him, and definitely feeling the effects.
    I've forgotten the other two clues, but my father only needed these two to identify the Secret Celebrity Masquerader as -
    - well, everybody, based on these two clues, who do you think it was?
    Answer next time (if I feel like it).

    And since I forgot to mention it last time -
    - Heatter and Quigley had nothing to do with LET'S MAKE A DEAL.
    (I never let up.)

  8. Two memorable moments from the Richard Dawson version:

    -- One of the celebrities was disguised as Gepetto the Woodcarver and Bill Bixby referred to him as "Giaccopo." To this day, this is what we call Gepetto.

    -- Another celebrity was disguised as a golfer and Lee Meriwether asked him if his name was "Slice." Richard Dawson picked up on it and it was a very funny moment. From that point, when we saw Ms. Meriwether, we would recall "Mr. Slice."

    Funny what sticks in your mind. Actually my mind.

  9. Perhaps even funnier is what didn't stick in Greg's mind:

    The identities of those two celeb masqueraders.
    Or maybe he wants us to play too.

    Since apparently no one wanted to take me up on my "challenge" ...

    ... that frozen jailbird ...
    ... that icy prisoner ...
    ... that CHILLY CON ...

    ... Art Carney, of course.

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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."