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Friday, May 13, 2016

The Nature of the Talk Show Booking Order Beast.

I don't know how it is where you are,
but where I am I am bombarded with reruns
of The Johnny Carson show,
and The Dick Cavett show,
from when they originally aired.
I've noticed something unusual about both of them, compared to the way they do things today.
When you watch any of the talk shows today
whether its any one of the Jimmies,
or Stevens,
or James,
they all have something very much in common.
There is a pecking order to the guest list.
The biggest name for each show is invariably brought out first.
Or at least introduced first.
There must be nightly fist fights about who is the biggest star.
This is where agents make their money.
Back in the Carson/Cavett days, there was much more of a sense of randomness about it,
generally based on who the host thought would be the most entertaining.
The time allotment would be geared accordingly.
Orson Bean would get the first half hour.
Followed by someone huge like Burt Reynolds.
I had forgotten that that was the way things were.
I guess I had thought that they were also brought out based on the heft of their name.
There is a podcast on the Internet devoted to Johnny Carson where this young guy interviews all things Carson.
As a result he interviewed some of the talent bookers for Carson.
And they pretty much confirmed the notion that there was that element of randomness to it.
At least one time, though, there was a major exception.
On one particular evening on Johnny Carson, Dinah Shore was booked as the number one guest.
And Orson Welles was booked as the number two guest.
This did not sit well with Orson Welles, who, as it turns out, was prescient, way ahead of his time in terms of booking order.
And drank no wine before its time.
He told the booker in no uncertain terms that when he, Orson Welles, appeared on a talk show, he, Orson Welles, without exception, would be the number one guest.
So how would you, as the booker, like to be the one to tell Dinah Shore that she was being pushed back to number two in the guest booking order?
This booker passed the assignment over to the producer, Freddie de Cordova.
That's essentially what Freddie de Cordova was there for.
Dinah, of course, took it very graciously because she was a lady.
Imagine, if you will, if it was Yul Brynner rather than Dinah Shore.
Can you picture the fist fights that would have broken out?
The real irony here is that Yul Brynner and Orson Welles died on exactly the same day.
I wonder who got into heaven first, if, in fact, that is where they ended up?
That would have been too much for even Freddie de Cordova to handle.


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".
They are all compilations of blog entries that have since been removed from the blog.
So this is the only way you can find them.
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.



  1. invariably, nowadays the musical guest is saved for the very end. Back in Carson, Cavett and Griffin's day their appearance on the show was also very random.

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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."