I know he just died, but if he hadn't, it probably wouldn't have triggered my memory the way it has.
David Frost made many, many positive contributions to television.
His Nixon interviews alone puts him on a pedestal in the Hall of Fame.
So obviously, this is not about the Nixon interviews.
He really snookered Nixon, who really deserved snookering.
And he did it in a way that took advantage of one of Frost's foremost characteristics: fawning over his guest.
With Nixon, he turned fawning into an art form.
By fawning over Nixon, he softened him up to the point that he got Nixon to admit to things no one else would have gotten him to admit.
On many other occasions, he turned fawning into a "paint-by-numbers" form.
On the absolute worst of these occasions, he provided one of the most embarrassing, and avoidable, ninety minutes of television by pure fawning.
This took place some time between 1969 and 1971.
David Frost had a nightly syndicated talk show, that also had variety show elements.
It had to deal with the usual problems that talk shows encounter---who to book, who was available to book, whether a particular guest was worth booking, and usually most prevalent, the pecking order of which guest is perceived as most important.
Who is first billed?
Who is the first guest introduced, appearing in the first guest segment?
How many segments does each guest get?
Is there a danger of bumping one of the latter, less-important guests?
If so, how big a danger of offending that guest is it?
Does it matter?
These can be very tricky questions.
If you were a regular viewer of "The Larry Sanders Show", this kind of stuff came up all the time.
Well, there was one night between 1969 and 1971, on the David Frost Show, where all of these questions were tossed out the window.
There was only one guest booked.
This is how Dick Cavett solved this problem on several occasions.
He'd book Katharine Hepburn, or Bette Davis, or some similar giant of the business like that, and settle in for 90 uninterrupted minutes.
Not only did it solve the problems, but it usually made for pretty great television.
So during this above-mentioned era, David Frost followed suit.
He booked only one guest.
And upon introducing him, he was totally effusive in his praise.
Who was this solo guest?
I'm hearing a resounding ""Who???"
That response was probably even more resounding when it happened than it is now.
Yet it is entirely appropriate now.
When one thinks of classic low points of television, one usually thinks of "My Mother, The Car", which actually was worse than it sounded, or anything involving the Kardashians, or Geraldo Rivera opening Al Capone's vault.
Sammy Shore's solo appearance on the David Frost Show ranks right up there with them.
The difference is that I may be the only one who remembers it.
At the time, I had heard of Sammy Shore.
But I had never seen him work.
He was and is a comic.
He was and is never a headliner.
His main claim to fame was that he was Elvis's opening act in Las Vegas.
That was it.
He came on, and did some of the unfunniest standup I'd ever witnessed.
For about fifteen minutes.
It was very low-key.
As if he wasn't even trying.
Maybe trying would have even been more trying.
So he got done with his stand-up, and sat down, one-on-one, with David Frost, who then spent the next hour and fifteen minutes fawning over this lounge act that was Sammy Shore.
And Sammy helped by being absolutely uninteresting.
He couldn't really talk about his son Pauly, who went on to become a "star" of sorts, because at the time, Pauly was only two or three years old.
He had no way of knowing.
Sammy Shore became a little more noteworthy a couple of years later, when he opened "The Comedy Store", a now legendary nightclub in L.A., and then lost it to his ex-wife in the divorce.
So he couldn't talk about that either.
It was excruciating.
For ninety minutes.
Made far worse by Frost's totally inappropriate fawning.
Why does something like this happen?
Obviously, three other guests were booked, and they all fell out at the last minute.
Maybe because of a billing squabble.
Sammy Shore would have been thrilled to come on fourth.
Hell, he would have been thrilled to be bumped.
But I guess Frost's ego took over.
And he said to himself "Who needs them? I'm such a good interviewer that I can do ninety minutes with Sammy friggin' Shore! Hell, maybe even turn him into a star!"
It didn't work out that way.
If Sammy Shore is remembered at all these days, it's as Pauly Shore's father.
And who wants that?
Or as Mitzi Shore's ex-husband.
Mitzi Shore is now regarded as THE major power wielding Comedy Goddess in L.A., because she determines who gets to go on stage at the Comedy Store.
All because of the divorce.
So every comic in town kisses Mitzi's ass.
Nobody kisses Sammy's ass.
Perhaps he is grateful for this dubious pleasure.
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 available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings remaining, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one.
If you'd like one, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne & Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.
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- mark rothman
- 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 email@example.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."