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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Match Game.

About a month ago, in connection with Polly Bergen's death, I wrote an article about Goodson and Todman, the game show producers who turned out "To Tell The Truth", where Polly shined as a panelist.
I implied at the time that I would be writing more about the Goodson-Todman output.
But I got sidetracked by other things.
One of their shows that I had planned to write about was "The Match Game".
With Gene Rayburn as the host.
Not the sleazy, double-entendre Charles Nelson Reilly vs. Brett Somers version from the 70's, where Gene Rayburn was the host.
No. The far more interesting, conservative version from the 60's.
With Gene Rayburn as the host.
That was a completely different and better game.
It was on NBC, Monday through Friday, at 4pm.
It had two celebrities, the same ones, on all week.
Each celebrity was flanked by two civilians, and they all, quite civilly tried to make matches to blanks that needed to be filled in.
Just like the 70s sleazy version.
Except it wasn't sleazy.
There was one week that provided what I thought at the time, was about the funniest thing I'd ever seen.
The guest celebrities were Robert Culp and Bill Cosby, who were at the height of their "I Spy"" fame.
It was a major coup for NBC to get them.
Culp and Cosby, at the time, the two coolest guys on the planet, decided to have their own peculiar brand of fun with the proceedings.
They played the game quite straight, but spent literally the whole week, from beginning to end, each placing an elbow on the table in front of them, and having it collapse out from under them.
This is better known as the "elbow take".
They spent the entire week doing elbow takes.
And it got progressively funnier each time they did it.
You'd think it would be diminishing returns, but it was quite the opposite.
It was done with considerable aplomb.
Until very recently, it made me laugh just thinking about it.
Now, it doesn't.

I have been reluctant to write about this whole Cosby thing because my point of view has continued to shift.
When that first woman came out and told her story, it seemed full of holes.
This was not her first drink of the evening.
She woke up to find Cosby taking off her underwear.
Why didn't she tell him to stop?
Why did she agree to see him again subsequently?
But then, other counties started to be heard from.
And still other.
And still other.
And more and more, they matched each other's stories.
So maybe the first one was less equipped to tell her story well.
But it still matched the others.
So I have joined the consensus.
I've been looking for the closest comp to Cosby in terms of potential Fall From Grace, career-wise.
First, I thought of Fatty Arbuckle, the biggest star of his time.
Then, he faced a rape and murder rap.
He went to trial, and was acquitted and apologized to by the court, but his career and his life was still toast.
He never had any sustained career.
He was only 46 when he died.
Then, I looked towards O.J.
It seemed to be a better fit.
There still seem to be pockets of people here and there who think O.J. is innocent.
At the time of the verdict, it was the entire black population.
But Cosby has had more than fifty years, making it all the way to age 77 unsullied, or as he might perhaps put it, "unscuttled"
This is unprecedented.
But I think the boat has sailed on him.
I know that nobody has ever gone broke underestimating the American public.
This will certainly put them to a test like they have never faced.

Anyway, they still come out.
More and more accusations.
Same modus operandi.
They all match.
I can't imagine that there can be any serious recovery for Cosby.
Down to the most minute level.
I have a line in one of my plays.
It takes place in the 1980's.
It's a throwaway line: It's only a quarter to eight. Cosby isn't even on yet."
Well, that throwaway line now has to be thrown away.
I'm changing it to "Who's The Boss?"
Because I don't want the audience to be distracted, even for a moment.
I don't want them to stop thinking about the characters on stage, and start thinking about Cosby, whatever it conjures up.
And the accusers still come out.
More and more accusations every day.
Same modus operandi.
They all match.
The same blanks are repetitively filled.
And no amount of elbow takes can put an end to it.
I don't think he can elbow his way out of this one.


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 and 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 and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube, and my 4-hour interview at the Television Academy's Emmy TV Legends Website.
Here's the link:



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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."