Sunday, November 22, 2015

Rat Pack Christmas Specials!

For the Christmas outing of The Frank Sinatra Show in 1957 Bing Crosby joined Ol' Blue Eyes for a half-hour of the most popular holiday songs of that era. This was the rare 1950s program shot in color. Although Frank's series failed to catch on, this Christmas celebration remains one of the finest, in terms of music, that the medium ever produced.

A decade later - the December 21, 1967 Christmas episode of The Dean Martin Show with guest star Frank Sinatra hit another high note.

Here are two performers that really enjoyed performing together. Dean was used to working with a partner (Jerry Lewis) but Frank wasn't - this led to some very funny ad-libbed moments. Everything Frank and Dean did together had a spontaneous feel; they didn't need rehearsals... so they didn't. With decades performing before live audiences they were prepared for anything. Sammy Davis Jr. makes a surprise appearance as well—doing his Amos 'n' Andy impression which, in hindsight, isn't terribly PC.

Also a part of this family show are Frank's kids Nancy, Tina, and Frank Jr. along with Dean's offspring Claudia, Craig, Dean Jr, Deana, Gail, Gina, Ricci, and Mrs. Martin. The highlights are tunes crooned by Dean and Frank, separately and together.

I Almost Bought Cher's Gown, Wish I Had

A storefront opened on Santa Monica Blvd in 1981 (I think) that purported to sell outfits once worn by stars and sure enough I recognized a number of outfits from TV shows and specials dating back to the 1960s, but it was all women's clothing.

There were a half dozen dresses I immediately remembered Cher wearing on the Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, a Bob Mackie creation with loads of glitter caught my eye, one of the iconic gowns from the show, similar to this photo (if not the actual). It was maybe $200.

It came out in the news that most of the clothes had been stolen by household staff, after that the shop closed, it was open only a few weeks. I passed on buying anything, couldn't see myself wearing those dresses, but wish I had now... because imagine what it would be worth!

Also, in a thrift shop on Third Street, I saw Helen Reddy's gold record for 'I Am Woman' up on the wall for about $500. Her husband had run through her entire fortune and she lost everything at auction, this was around 1984.

For more on Cher on TV

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Racist Batman Sketch With Green Hornet & Kato

Milton Berle was the hottest thing on the tube in the early fifties but TV audiences cooled to him quickly. Fortunately, he had negotiated a 'pay or play' contract with NBC for one million dollars a year; an exclusive, unprecedented 30-year deal.

In 1966 rival network ABC gave the comic an hour in primetime for one stinkeroo of a variety show. Problem was, no one thought Berle was a funny as Berle thought he was. So he lazily fell back on outlandish costumes and blatant stereotypes for laughs - as he does in this lame skit with guests Adam West (Batman), Van Williams (Green Hornet) and Bruce Lee (Kato).

Milton Berle had been previously seen with the Dynamic Duo on the ABC Fall Preview Show in 1966 and would later appear as a villain on Batman, Louie the Lilac.

Classic TV at TVparty!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Behind the Scenes : 1970s Sitcom Writer / Producers

Here's a collection of interviews that will take you back to the creation of some seminal 1970s sitcoms, arguably the finest period for the genre. These are writer/producers that threw off the old 'I Dream of Jeannie / Gidget' mindset to forge half-hour comedies that stand the test of time.

Carl Reiner was a comedy guy for Sid Caesar before creating The Dick Van Dyke Show. He discusses the producer's job, working with other writers and also touches on his process for writing and re-writing.

James L. Brooks talks about writing for the groundbreaking drama-comedy Room 222, one of the first TV series to feature a predominantly black and brown cast. Brooks went on to create and/or co-create The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Bob Newhart Show, Taxi, The Simpsons - should I go on?!? Not to mention his movies, Terms of Endearment, Soap, Broadcast News - should I go on?!?

Allan Burns was partnered with Brooks in 1969 for a good period of time at CBS where they were responsible for some of the funniest sitcom episodes of all time for MTM.

Garry Marshall had his first writer / producer success with The Odd Couple in the late 1960s, first of the post Dick Van Dyke, adult oriented comedies to come. Then he begat Happy Days, LaVerne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy. He begins with stories about breaking into television out of the nightclubs in the late-1950s in New York.

He's had one of the most erratic but storied careers in TV and movies. Buck Henry is considered best of the best with scripts for The Graduate, directing Heaven Can Wait, and co-creating the hit series Get Smart. He started out in the trenches of weekly TV, writing for Gary Moore's variety show, one of the most clever musical comedies in TV history.

 Classic TV at TVparty!