Posts in Category: Broadcast History

Rare Jack Paar Images…A Camera In A Limo? Yep, And MORE!

Rare Jack Paar Images…A Camera In A Limo? Yep, And MORE!

On this 59th Anniversary of Jack’s ascendance to host of the “Tonight” show, here are a few real pictorial rarities. There is more on each photo, but we have a couple of shots of the show still at The Hudson Theater, his walk off from a monitor shot and one from the early days in NBC’s Studio 6B. I know you are dying to click the limo shot so go ahead and I’ll explain on that page. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee





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Backstage With Jack Paar..”Tonight”, December 7, 1958

Backstage With Jack Paar..”Tonight”, December 7, 1958

Today is the 59th Anniversary of Paar’s debut as host of the show and to help celebrate, here is a rare treat is in the form of a “New York Times” article by John Shanley gives us a look behind the scenes of “Tonight” with Paar as host. That I know of, there is no online kene footage of Paar hosting the show from The Hudson Theater, and there are very few photos from the Hudson years.

Below left is the full article, but that is hard to read, so I cut the article into two pieces which makes it easier to read.

On January 12, 1959, the show began being videotaped for playback the same day. In January of 1960, the show moved from The Hudson to NBC Studio 6B and color broadcasts began September 19, 1960. Thanks to Paul Jacobs for the article. Enjoy! -Bobby Ellerbee



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July 29, 1957…The Jack Paar Era Of “Tonight” Begins

July 29, 1957…The Jack Paar Era Of “Tonight” Begins

Location wise, the “Tonight” show with Jack Paar started where Steve Allen left off…in the Hudson Theater, but the final show from there came the week the 1950s ended.

The first week of January 1960, the show’s new home would be NBC’s Studio 6B. The show went color September 19, 1960, but on January 12, 1959, while still at The Hudson, the show had begun being videotaped. For the first few months of taping, Paar did the Thursday night show live for some reason, but before long that ended and over the years, the taping time moved from 8 PM till 6:30 PM.

Steve Allen hosted his final episode of Tonight on January 25, 1957. The following Monday, NBC debuted a new multi-hosted, magazine show in the time slot…”Tonight: America After Dark”. It was an instant flop and they hurriedly began searching for someone who could do a new version, that was more like the old version.
The logical choice might have been Ernie Kovacs, who’d hosted two nights a week during the final months of Allen’s run, but Kovacs had moved west and was appearing in movies. Instead, they picked Jack Paar, who had hosted an array of short-lived programs for all the networks in the preceding years.

Paar got his first tastes of television in the early 1950s, appearing as a comic on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and hosting two game shows, “Up To Paar” (NBC) in 1952, and “Bank on the Stars” (CBS) in 1953, before hosting “The Morning Show” in 1954 on CBS.

Paar took over NBC’s late night time slot on July 29, 1957, and the early Paar “Tonight” program was a mess. At one point before its debut, someone at NBC got the brilliant idea that it should consist of three separate game shows. Each night, the contestant who won the first would move on to appear on the second…and so forth. This notion was discarded, in part because “America After Dark” was sinking fast, and there wasn’t the time to develop three new game shows.

So, they went with the idea of conversation/chat show but even then, NBC wanted to save a tiny amount of money by booking guests a week at a time — the same people for five nights in a row. This too was discarded but for the initial weeks, Paar struggled to make conversation with eccentric guests in whom he had no interest. Further souring the proceedings was the man selected as Paar’s sidekick, veteran comic actor Franklin Pangborn. Pangborn had been funny in scripted film parts but on a live, ad-lib show he was a disaster.

For several months, Paar teetered on the brink of cancellation but then everything miraculously came together. Pangborn was eliminated and eventually, the show’s announcer, Hugh Downs, expanded his role to full sidekick status, and Paar found his style and the right kind of guest to have on. He soon had a whole stock company of recurring visitors that included Alexander King, Oscar Levant, Dody Goodman, Jonathan Winters, Peter Ustinov, Hans Conried, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Elsa Maxwell, Cliff “Charlie Weaver” Arquette and Peggy Cass, and others.

When network censors cut a joke about a “water closet” (the British term for a toilet), on February 11, 1960, he made history by walking off the show. Between a conversation with Jonathan Winters, urging him to come back, and a network apology, he returned on March 7 to thunderous applause. Here is the departure, and return. https://youtu.be/LGU0QAG_9VI?t=55s

Paar’s emotional nature made the everyday routine of putting together a 105-minute program difficult to continue for more than five years. As a TV Guide item put it, he was “bone tired” of the grind. He signed off the show for the last time on Friday, March 30, 1962. The following six months were filled by numerous guest hosts as NBC awaited the expiration of the “no compete” part of Johnny Carson’s ABC contract.

Because NBC did not want to lose Paar to another network, they offered him a Friday prime-time hour, giving him carte blanche on content and format. Paar agreed, deciding on a variation of his late-night format and titling his show, which first aired in the fall of 1962, “The Jack Paar Program”…that ran until 1965.

At the link, Paar’s one of a kind intellect and curiosity on display as he interview’s Presidential Candidate John Kennedy, in June of 1960. Enjoy! -Bobby Ellerbee
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIkZK-Z21Pw



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Jack Paar…Master Of Words – Storyteller Supreme


Jack Paar…Master Of Words – Storyteller Supreme

Earlier today, I posted an article celebrating the 59th Anniversary of Jack Paar’s debut as host of the “Tonight” show, on July 29, 1959. To celebrate his unique ability as a communicator, I thought you may want to hear special something I found a couple of years ago.

This is a very rare audio recording made by Jack Paar about a day in Hollywood, he spent with the great Judy Garland. Paar is a legendary storyteller and this is the best example of that ability, I have ever heard.

This is a bitter-sweet story which in a way, makes it all that much harder to tell, and although his touch is gentle, his intentions pure, and his heart is in the right place, some sad truths about Mrs. Garland come to light here.

I’ve wondered whether to post this or not, but given the quality of the tale, I have decided to go ahead with the following notes. First, Bless Her Heart! Judy Garland is without a doubt, one of the most talented people in the entire history of entertainment, which dates back to the Greek tragedies of 534 BC. Ironically, her life mirrored the joy and pain of those ancient productions almost to a tee.

For most of her life, she was not just a star, but a superstar, and that comes with an unbelievable burden, and a lot of insecurity. I think the only thing that was ever real to her was her children, as certainly everything else was surreal in the best and worst of ways.
God Bless You Judy! Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D31747Wy2YY

DISCLAIMER: Although we believe that Jack Paar was sincere in his intentions, he is factually off base on several points, and sensationalizes others. The gen…

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Remembering The Lost Art Of Studio Dolly Operators…


Remembering The Lost Art Of Studio Dolly Operators…

By the 1970s, most of the Houston Fearless, and Vinton versions of the great Panoram Dolly had “left the building”, but in television’s golden age…they were a mainstay. It took some doing to be, not only proficient in operating them smoothly, but there was an art to it too, as you will see here.

The camera operators had to be part mountain goat to climb around on dolly’s, and there were many aching backs and tired feet after a long day aboard, but take a look at this polished technique.

Notice the pusher has the high-low control wheel that takes the boom arm up and down, and the hand signals from the cameraman help him know what to do. At the right hand, or right foot of the cameraman is the wheel that moves the turntable turret left and right, and this guy has some great foot action.

The Radio Canada cameras appear to me Marconi Mark II models, but the Mark I looked almost identical. The odd shaped bulge on the right lower camera door is an exhaust hood that hides the fan noise which is blowing through vents under it. Thanks to ICI-Radio Canada’s Pierre Seguin for sharing this with us. -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqTxdDUPVso

Archive personnelle de Normand Daoust FAN #1 de TVA Allez visiter mon site à l`adresse http://pages.infinit.net/souvenir/

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The Best TV Book I Have Ever Read!

The BEST Television History Book I Have Ever Read!

The book is, “The Origins Of Television News In America”, by our friend Mike Conway.

In TV news lingo, “unpacking” is what a reporter does when he or she lays out the facts and timeline of their story. Although I have read the book twice, back-to-back, I am still “unpacking” this detail rich book, and go back to it almost daily.

The main narrative focuses on the little known story of how television news started at CBS. That is the center line on this highway, but there is not another TV history highway I have seen that goes more places than Mike Conway’s book!

All the networks, both radio and television, and all the historic events in the prewar, war, and postwar years are covered here in the greatest depth, and with more new information, than I have ever seen anywhere.

CBS legend Bob Schieffer says “Masterful research and a pleasure to read”. So say I, and to Mike Conway, I say…thank you for your years of dedicated research, and the huge effort it took to sort and present this information. You have given us new perspective on an amazing array of previously unrealized, domino-like occurrences in broadcast history. -Bobby Ellerbee

Some of my other favorites include “The Box” by Jeff Kisseloff, “The Best Seat In The House” by NBC’s Pat Weaver, “Beating The Odds” by ABC’s Leonard Goldenson, and “This Is CBS”, by Ron Slater.

http://newsinfo.iu.edu/news-archive/11723.html

IU professor’s new book reveals a lost first chapter in the history of television news: IU News Room: Indiana University

An IU professor has discovered and reconstructed a lost first chapter in the history of television. In a new book, Mike Conway tells the stories of a mostly unknown group of CBS employees who worked in obscurity to develop a new way to deliver the news.

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Naked Pictures…Big Movies, Without Their CGI Wardrobe


Naked Pictures…Big Movies, Without Their CGI Wardrobe

Are we to the point where you really can’t even believe your own eyes anymore? Computer Generated Imaging is just amazing now, and just for fun, take a look at this second video that animates still images from 1931. https://vimeo.com/160024074
Enjoy! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoQyFrqePz8

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CBS NY Master Studio List, New And Updated…1937- Present

CBS NY Master Studio List, New And Updated…1937- Present

First compiled by David Schwartz in April 1999, here is the updated list with some new revisions on July 26, 2016. Enjoy, comment, share and SAVE! -Bobby Ellerbee
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CBS Studios 1937 – 1964

Radio Studios, 485 Madison Ave. The original radio studios were number 1 through 6. Soon after, Studios 7, 8 and 9 were added with Studio 9 becoming the network’s major news studio. Eventually the studios in the building were numbered 1-20. Studios 31, 32 and 33 were also at 485 Madison, but were shortwave studios built to receive reports from overseas. The last radio broadcast from 485 Madison was July 25, 1964, and radio operations were moved to the new CBS Broadcast Center the next day.

Radio Studios, CBS Radio Building, 49 East 52nd Street. Just around the corner from the 485 headquarters building, at 49 East 52nd, CBS had a second radio building which had more studios that were numbered 21 through 29. Studio 21 was in the basement, 22 on the second floor, with 23 and 24 on the third floor. 25 and 26 were on the fourth floor and 27, 28 and 29 were on the fifth floor.

Studio 31 & 32 485 Madison Ave., Shortwave radio studios converted to TV Studios 1948-1964. This is where ‘Douglas Edwards With The News’ originally began, then moved to Leiderkranz Hall and later Studio 41.

Studio 41 to 44 Grand Central Studios, 15 Vanderbilt Avenue (3rd floor) used from the 1937 to 1964. Only 41 and 42 were production studios…43 and 44 were “control studios” used for switching, telecine and video tape.

Studio 50 (Ed Sullivan Theater) 1697 Broadway. CBS leased this for radio in 1936, and it was called Radio Playhouse #3. First radio show was “Major Bowes Amateur Hour”. First TV show was “Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts”, December 6, 1948.

Studio 51 (Maxine Elliott Theater) 109 West 39th Street. Used by CBS 1944-1959 This was CBS’s first conversion of a theater from radio use to television use. Ed Sullivan’s “Toast Of The Town” was the debut show on June 20,1948.

Studio 52 (New Yorker Theater) 254 West 54th Street. Used by CBS from 1949 until 1975. Later became “Studio 54” nightclub.

Studios 53 to 56 Leiderkranz Hall, 111 East 58th Street. Used from 1950 to 1964.

Studio 57 (Peace Theater) 1280 Fifth Avenue

Studio 58 (Town Theater) 851 Ninth Avenue

Studio 59 (Mansfield Theater) 256 West 47th Street

Studio 60 (Lincoln Square) 1947 Broadway

Studio 61 (Monroe Theater) 1456 First Avenue CBS-Edge of Night (1956)

Studio 62 (Biltmore Theater) 261 West 47th Street

Studio 63-64 205 East 67th Street (DuMont /Metromedia Channel 5 studios 1 and 5) CBS. Shows from here were ‘First Hundred Years’ (1948), ‘Bilko’ (1955-56), ‘Edge of Night’ (1956 -1960) Wrestling show (studio 5) (Dumont, 1955),

Studio 65 (Hi Brown Studios) 221 West 26th Street

Studio 71 (Radio Studio 1) 485 Madison Ave.

Studio 72 (RKO 81st Street Theater) 2248 Broadway
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CBS TV Studios-1964 to mid 70’s

Studio 41-46 Broadcast Center. Began operation in 1964, radio on July 26; TV in August or September.

Studio 50 (Ed Sullivan) 1697 Broadway

Studio 51/54 (Hi Brown Studios) 221 West 26th Street

Studio 52 (New Yorker Theater) 254 West 54th Street. Used until 1975.

Studio 53 (Monroe Theater) 1456 First Ave

Studio 54 (Cort Theater). Used for the late night Merv Griffin show.
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CBS TV Studios Mid 70’s-present

Studio 41-46 Broadcast Center

Studio 50 Ed Sullivan Theater

Studio 51 New York Production Center, 222 East 44th Street (MPO, later EUE/Screen Gems)

Studio 52/53 Hi Brown Studios (also called Studio 51/54) unknown when numbering changed.

Studio 54 was originally a film studio. Patty Duke Show (ABC,1963-5) Bilko (CBS ,1956-9)

Studio 52 402 East 76th Street (used in the 1980’s)
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CBS Radio Playhouses
CBS Radio Playhouse #1 242 West 45th Street
CBS Radio Playhouse #2 251 West 45th Street
CBS Radio Playhouse #3 1697 Broadway (became Studio 50)
CBS Radio Playhouse #4 254 West 54th Street (became Studio 52)
CBS Radio Playhouse #5 109 West 39th Street (became Studio 51)

Notes:

CBS Studio 51 from the 1970s aka “The New York Production Center” at 222 East 44th Street, is EUE/Screen Gems (1973 to Present) Prior to 1973—it was used by MPO productions (as film stage, though it was used sporadically for videotape work). EUE/Screen Gems purchased the studio from MPO, and installed Fernseh KCU-40 video camera chains early 1970s, and it has been used for video since then.

CBS and ABC studios located at 205 East 67th Street, were actually the Dumont (Metromedia) studios.

CBS studio based at 2248 Broadway ultimately became Teletape “Stage 2” early 1970s (Sesame Street, Electric Company).
Himan Brown Studios (W. 26th St.) was used for both film and video production at various times, the Patty Duke Show (ABC, 1963-5) was filmed there as well as Bilko (CBS, 1955-59-second season). Currently owned by All Mobile Video.

Biograph Studio NY (807 East 175th St, The Bronx) Studio had been abandoned, but was revived around 1967. Car 54 (NBC, 1961-3), East Side/West Side (CBS, 1963-4), and Naked City (ABC, 1958-63)—all are filmed shows. This studio was also known as “Gold Medal Studios” in the late 1950s. Studio was abandoned in the 1970s, and burned in 1980.

Filmways Studios NY (246 E. 127th St.–built in a former MTA transit garage building in the late1950s.) The Defenders (CBS, 1961-5), and The Doctors and the Nurses (CBS, 1962-5), Hawk (ABC 1966), and Trials of O’Brien (CBS 1965-6) (All filmed productions). Films shot there include Butterfield 8, The Godfather, The Wiz. Studio was demolished in the 1980s.

Fox Movietone studios (460 W. 54th St at 10th Ave.) Two sound stages—the large one with a cyclorama and swimming pool under the deck. Three small scoring stages. UPI Movietone News operated in upstairs offices into the 1980s. Stages on ground floor operated as Fox until 1964, Manhattan Sound Studios until about 1968. Operated by F&B/CECO and Camera Mart (film equipment rental companies) in the 1970s and 1980s. Norby (NBC,1955), (strangely, shot on color film. Kodak was a sponsor) Adams Chronicles (PBS, 1976, recorded by EUE Video Services), Best of Families (PBS, 1977, recorded by Reeves Teletape). Later Sony Music Studios, demolished 2008. The original ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’ was shot there in 1999 (at the time, ABC was contemplating purchasing the building). Notable films shot there: The Exorcist (1972), Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), Starting Over (1979), Sophie’s Choice (1982).

The Town Theatre at (either 840 or 851) 9th Ave was converted to a television stage and used by CBS, WNET-13 in the 1970s, and Teletape in the 1980s, Later Unitel. It was demolished and replaced by the Alvin Ailey Citigroup theater a few years ago.

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Happy Birthday….CBS Broadcast Center, Born July 26, 1964

Happy Birthday….CBS Broadcast Center, Born July 26, 1964

52 years ago today, the first broadcast finally originated from a building CBS had owned since 1952. From ’52, until that first top-of-hour CBS Radio newscast, the facility had been designated the CBS Production Center, and was mostly used to store and build scenery, and provide office space for shows that worked from CBS theaters like Ed Sullivan’s.

Below is the CBS Press Release that introduces the Broadcast Center in great detail. It took some time for television to get set up there, and the first network offering is believed to be use of the new Studio 41 (old 41 and 42 were at Grand Central) for election night coverage in November of ’64, in black and white. Color came the next year.

Today’s second post is an updated list of the CBS New York Studios, so watch for that…it is something you may want to copy and paste.
-Bobby Ellerbee

CBS Press Release: November 25, 1964
CBS BROADCAST CENTER OPENS NEW ERA IN TELEVISION PRODUCTION; CONSOLIDATED FACILITY IS MOST ADVANCED IN THE WORLD

Electronic Wonderland Features Six Large “Floating” Studios and Computer-Controlled Technical Operations

A new era in the history of broadcasting has begun at the CBS Broadcast Center in New York, the most modern and the most efficient production facility of its kind in the world. Built around a core of six large studios with the industry’s most advanced technical support facilities, the Broadcast Center incorporates the latest achievements in technology for producing superior programs.

It implements designs and procedures formulated after years of world-wide research and development by CBS teams in every aspect of television broadcasting. A versatile, multi-purpose electronic wonderland where broad casts ranging from a news bulletin to a dramatic play to a gala musical comedy can be developed from first idea to finished program, the Broadcast Center contains a total of 495,628 square feet of floor space — more than the combined size of 10 standard football fields, goal line to goal line.

Situated on 11th Avenue between 56th and 57th Streets, the new CBS facility offers a tremendously increased potential for television programming originating in New York City. Each floor of the production area alone covers more than 100,000 square feet, an area 25% larger than the city block on which The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel is located. The opening of the Broadcast Center consolidates CBS studios and support facilities and services which previously had been dispersed in some 14 different locations in New York City.
Two off-premise studios — large theaters located at Broadway and 53rd Street and at Broadway and 54th Street (Studios 50 and 52), each with a seating capacity of close to 700 people — are still being retained to meet the needs of audience shows. Now located at the Broadcast Center are units of the CBS Television Network, CBS Owned television station WCBS-TV in New York City, the CBS Radio Network, the CBS News Division, and various central staff services.

Consistent with the broadcast Center’s announced goal of providing the highest quality of television, its six large studios — all situated on a single floor — are modern miracles of design. The floor of each studio is a concrete slab, which together with the walls is supported by coil springs and neoprene pads. Thus, each studio is, in effect, a separate “floating” structure. This feature plus buffer corridor areas around each studio in addition to ingenious soundproofing insure acoustical isolation. Another innovation in the design of the studios is a lighting grid structure which allows lights to be hung and adjusted from over head walkways without disturbing activity on the floor.

Adjacent to each studio is a control room containing the latest related technical advances of the electronic medium. While the six studios in the CBS Broadcast Center vary in size, each of the six control rooms is the same. Specially designed to assist and enhance the creative activity in the studio which it services, the control room is so arranged that the entire production team maintains continual visual contact with the program director. In a departure from common practices, the control room does not have a window opening overlooking the studio. Each control room incorporates a highly advantageous concept in functional design for broadcasting by providing separate picture, sound and production control areas, plus easy access to the studio itself. These areas can be separated from one another by sliding glass panels, yet all are within line-of-sight with the program director.

All technical equipment in addition to telecine and videotape machines, whose physical presence is not actually required in the control room, has been removed to a central maintenance area. Yet, by remote control techniques, each member of the production team retains full control over those technical elements of the production for which he is responsible. Directly below the floor where the studios are located in the Broadcast Center is the extensive Central Technical Area.

Here is housed the vast amount of highly complex and sophisticated technical equipment needed to bring the broadcast program to the homes of viewers across the nation and, with the aid of space satellite relays, to viewers in other parts of the world. Notable among this array of technical equipment are the Broadcast Center’s computers and the switching systems of unprecedented magnitude, complexity and efficiency in broadcasting. These systems provide the capability to store information on the scheduled use of facilities and the details of the broadcast schedule, and the capability to route all audio and video signals and communication circuits to their proper destination.

Additionally, the systems provide the means, where needed, to start and stop videotape machines and film and slide projectors. From one technical viewpoint, television broadcasting is a continual process of accurate scheduling, precision timing and error- free coordination of the separate elements that make up a program: film, tape, live pickup, commercials, announcements and many other elements.

At the Broadcast Center, this basic broadcast process is now controlled by computers assigned to the program continuity studios where pre-recorded network and local programs and local station breaks are originated. Two computers have been installed. Each has the capacity to store every bit of program scheduling information needed for the en tire broadcast day and, at the precise moment, automatically to select correctly the program element to go out on the air. Still another use of the computers is to record the studio lighting levels worked out during rehearsal for identical repositioning of the lighting controls during the broadcast of the program. Each computer, by itself, can handle all the basic network and local station broadcast schedules. The installation of two units provides backup protection should the need arise, especially since there is a continuing automatic interchange of information between the two computers.

As now constituted, the Broadcast Center comprises three inter connected structures. The first is an eight-story structure. It houses the Music and Record Library, offices of WCBS-TV News, offices of CBS Films Inc., CBS Data Processing, and CBS News production and administrative offices and reference library. The second structure is six stories. It contains offices of the CBS Television Network Operations Department, the CBS Radio Network Operations Department offices and one of the Broadcast Center’s five radio studios, WCBS-TV Program Department, CBS Television Network show units and accounting offices, four film screening rooms, WCBS-TV film editing facilities and the CBS Television Network sound effects department. Also contained in this structure are the cafeteria and stationery shop.

Central to the third structure are the six television studios, the largest of which has an area of 8,45O square feet and the smallest 3,260 square feet, plus their complete support facilities. In this building, too, are the CBS News newsroom, correspondents’ and executive offices, and film editing and viewing facilities. Immediately adjacent to the newsroom are four radio news studios and the television Flash Facility where bulletins are originated. Also In the building are the Television General Technical Area; storage, staging and maintenance area for equipment used in remote pickups; film distribution; scenic design area and construction shops and storage facilities; dressing rooms, wardrobe and makeup rooms; rehearsal halls; film and videotape storage rooms, and emergency power plant. Geared to serve most efficiently the needs of current production of the CBS Television Network, the Broadcast Center was designed with a flexibility factor so that it will have the capacity to meet future expanded physical and technical requirements.

Also, the Broadcast Center is designed for both black-and-white and color program requirements. The original building of the Broadcast Center, ideally located in midtown Manhattan but out of the city’s congested traffic pattern, was acquired by CBS in l952 with the thought of ultimate conversion to a centralized broadcast plant. It was utilized at once for rehearsal halls, scenery construction and storage, and production and administrative offices. A series of studies was undertaken as to the feasibility of such a plan and, after every aspect of the evolved master plan had been fully investigated and reported on by experts, the go-ahead signal was given by top management.

Among these features were massive truck ramps connecting the original floors to a loading dock on the street level. The ramps were retained to provide access to the studios on which scenery and props from the shops and storage areas could be hauled with ease by trailers and battery-powered tractors. Moreover, the extra-sturdy steel and concrete construction of the original building proved to be well suited for reinforcement to support the new, higher roof which was built over the studios.

Also, by careful scheduling to take advantage of available space in the original structure, interior reconstruction was able to precede with minimal interference to the CBS operations already underway in the “Production Center,” as the building was known at the time. When plans for converting the 57th Street property into an integrated television complex were first announced, CBS envisioned that the completed Broadcast Center would provide the CBS Television Network with “by far the finest television facilities in the world.” That vision has now become reality.

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July 25, 1964…CBS Radio Bids Farewell To 485 Madison Avenue

July 25, 1964…CBS Radio Bids Farewell To 485 Madison Avenue

On September 18, 1927, the CBS Radio Network, with 18 affiliates went on the air from their studios in The Steinway Building near Carnegie Hall on West 57th Street.

Exactly two years later, CBS Radio moved into the new 485 Madison Avenue building on September 18, 1929.

On July 25, 1964, the last broadcast from the heart of CBS Radio News…Studio 9, was a hosted by Steve Rowan, and the next day, Rowan was the first to broadcast from the new CBS Broadcast Center. At this link is the 2 page CBS press release. http://donswaim.com/cbs-radio-moves-1964.pdf

That last show from 485 Madison, “Farewell To Studio 9” was historic in every way, and included clips from the many world shaping newscasts, and the most iconic newscasters this country
has known, including Edward R. Murrow, and many more that you can hear at this link to that last show.
http://www.oldtimeradiodownloads.com/historical/farewell-to-studio-9/farewell-to-studio-9-19xx-xx-xx

Some Interesting History: When 485 Madison Avenue was first built, CBS occupied only the upper floors. As need grew, CBS expanded throughout the building. Originally, there were six studios.

Studios 1, 2, and 6 were on the 22nd floor. Studio 1 was reached by a staircase as its floor was higher in order to accommodate the higher ceilings of Studios 3 and 5 which were directly underneath.
Studios 3, 5, and 4 were located on the 21st floor. Master Control and the upper part of Studio 1 occupied the 23rd floor.

Studios 1 to 6 were remodeled in the mid 30s reflecting acoustic enhancements unknown when first built. Suspended light fixtures became recessed, sound insulation, wooden panels, and rubberized flooring were among the improvements. Also in the mid 30s, Studios 7 and 8 were constructed on the 3rd floor of 485 Madison Avenue.

Studio 9, which was the news studio and the news department were located on the 17th floor. CBS also had radio studios at 49 East 52nd Street, just around the corner from 485 Madison.

CBS television studios were also in the process of moving to the Broadcast Center including 41 through 44 at Grand Central. Studios 53 to 56 at Liederkrantz Hall, 111 East 58th Street were also moving to the Broadcast Center. The corporate offices later moved from 485 to Black Rock which opened in 1965 at 51 West 52nd Street. Happy Birthday to the CBS Broadcast Center! -Bobby Ellerbee






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July 25, 1959…Nixon-Khrushchev “Kitchen Debate” Tape Airs In US

July 25, 1959…Nixon-Khrushchev “KItchen Debate” Tape Airs In US

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-CvQOuNecy4
The Kitchen Debate was a series of impromptu exchanges (through interpreters) between then U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon, and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in the “kitchen of a modern American home” on display at the opening of the American National Exhibition at Sokolniki Park in Moscow on July 24, 1959.

Using an RCA TK41 color camera, the debate was recorded on Ampex color videotape, a new technology recently pioneered in the U.S., and Nixon made reference to this fact. The exchange was subsequently rebroadcast in both countries. Khrushchev was skeptical of Nixon’s promise that his part in the debate would be translated into English and broadcast in the U.S., but it was.

In the United States, three major television networks broadcast the kitchen debate on July 25. The Soviets subsequently protested, as Nixon and Khrushchev had agreed that the debate should be broadcast simultaneously in America and the Soviet Union, with the Soviets even threatening to withhold the tape until they were ready to broadcast. The American networks, however, had felt that waiting would cause the news to lose its immediacy. Two days later, on July 27, the debate was broadcast on Moscow television, albeit late at night and with Nixon’s remarks only partially translated.

Below, Ampex president Phil Grundy, Khrushchev and Nixon watch the playback of the just recorded remarks. Khrushchev was shown how to operate the controls of the recorder, rewound the tape and played it back.

Nixon persuaded him to let it be seen in the United States, but Khrushchev insisted that it be translated in full and played unedited. To make sure that it got out of the Soviet Union, Ampex president Philip Gundy rushed back to his hotel with the tape, wrapped it in a dirty shirt and booked the first flight home.

By the time it was broadcast the following day, American newspapers had reported the event as an exchange acrimonious enough to start World War III. What viewers actually saw, though, was the two leaders in earnest and sometimes animated discussion, but by no means ready to launch missiles. The tape has been hailed as a milestone in communication as well as an historical document in its own right. The link above is to one of the few versions with captions. Enjoy! -Bobby Ellerbee

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June 1940….Television’s 1st Convention & 1st Network Broadcast

June 1940….Television’s 1st Convention & 1st Network Broadcast

76 years ago, in a spirit of cooperation, competitors RCA, GE and Philco teamed with AT&T to televise the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia. It was a television first in more ways that one. Not only was this the first time TV had covered a political convention – this was also the first ever network to cover 3 cities at once.

RCA’s W2XBS in New York City had sent broadcasts of “Meet The Wife” to General Electric’s W2XB in Schenectady, in January of 1940, which was in essence, the first network. RCA had also sent separate broadcasts to Philco’s W2XE Philadelphia, but this event, now included all 3 stations. Many historians call this the first real television network, as it endured though the WW II television black-out, and began again in April 1944 with the broadcast of “The Voice Of Firestone Televues”.

The NYC-Schenectady leg was handled by existing AT&T equipment, but to get the intact images to NYC from Philadelphia required AT&T adding amplifiers every 5 miles of the 108 mile route, so a lot of time was spent in manholes in early June.

In Philly, there were only about 100 receivers in use, and most of those belonged to Philco and their executives, but it is reported that up to 2,000 a day watched the coverage on 60 sets RCA had installed at a museum next to the convention hall.

Were it not for a dark horse candidate winning the nomination, the convention may not have made many memories, but Wendell Wilkie came out of nowhere to defeat former President Herbert Hoover, Senator Robert Taft, Thomas Dewey and two others to win the nomination at 2 AM, on the 6th ballot.

The legendary Worthington Minor, who was just starting his TV career, watched and said unlike the radio coverage, TV captured the tension on the delegates faces as they voted.

That year, FDR was nominated for his 3rd term in office, but television could not take us there, as the convention was in Chicago, and at the time, there was no coaxial connection between the midwest and NYC. On election night, both NBC’s and Dumont’s stations broadcast election results locally. -Bobby Ellerbee





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July 23, 1962…First World Wide Television Broadcast Via Telstar


July 23, 1962…First World Wide Television Broadcast Via Telstar

On Monday afternoon on this date, 54 years ago, CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite entered NBC’s studios at 30 Rockefeller Plaza to co-host this historic broadcast with NBC’s Chet Huntley. ABC’s Howard K. Smith was at the UN Building. The twenty minute broadcast from the US to Europe was slated to start at 3 PM eastern, but the Telstar signal was acquired a few minutes early so they started then.

Aside from the historic transmission event, the sight of Cronkite and Hunley working together is nothing less than extraordinary and you will love the sign off at 40:23 which made everyone laugh!

This is the only version of the entire US portion of the broadcast I can find and is queued to the start of the network coverage. As you will see, there are shots fed into NBC from all across the country including Cubs baseball from Chicago, President Kennedy in Washington, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Mt. Rushmore, the Statue Of Liberty, buffalos on the planes, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir from Utah and much more.

In Europe and Canada, 100 million viewers tuned in and it seems that the baseball game was their favorite part. A few hours later, the tables would turn and Europe would broadcast live to the US with Howard K. Smith joining Cronkite and Huntley at NBC, and all three networks would air this live, simultaneously. -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IX7vC4Ts_A&feature=youtu.be&t=9m58s

With behind the scenes stories from Bill Turner

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1936 & 2016…Convention Coverage Eerily Similar For NBC & CBS

1936 & 2016…Convention Coverage Eerily Similar For NBC & CBS

Believe it or not, the Republicans held their convention in Cleveland in mid June of 1936, and the Democrats held theirs in Philadelphia in late July. Sound familiar?

http://fadedsignals.com/post/147634247368/from-1936-the-nbc-radio-facilities-at-the
In Cleveland, Alf Landon was the GOP candidate selected, and Franklin Roosevelt was the democrats choice in Philly. At the link is a very nice image of NBC Radio’s operational lay out of the 53 microphone setup in Cleveland for their Red and Blue Networks. Be sure to click on the image for a bigger-better look.

Below is a soon to be legend in reporting, Robert Trout, in Cleveland with a new CBS portable microwave unit with the antenna in the cane, and a wrist watch microphone.

As a side note, FDR won in the biggest landslide vote in US history. Wonder how it will play out this time around? Thanks to NBC’s Brian Durr for the link and story idea. -Bobby Ellerbee

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The last VCR will be manufactured this month

Remembering The VCR…RIP, The End Is Near

The last VCR will be manufactured this month

R.I.P., VCR. Funai Electric, the world’s last known VCR manufacturer, will cease production of video-cassette recorders this month.

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Rare Color Film…5 “Colgate Comedy Hour” Stars At El Capitan

Rare Color Film…5 “Colgate Comedy Hour” Stars At El Capitan

At the link, you will see Eddie Cantor, Bud Abbott & Lou Costello and Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis arriving at NBC’s El Capitan Theater in Hollywood in 1953. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7Frk8Z1vEw

This is a short, but sweet color home movie shot on the south side of the theater, as they arrive for rehearsal. Because the hosts rotated on a weekly basis, it would be rare for all of them to be there at the same time, but I looks like that may have been the case.

In the film, you can see the stairs pictured below. If the building looks familiar, in ’63, ABC took over the lease and called this, The Hollywood Palace.

The El Capitan is at 1735 North Vine Street, just a couple of blocks north of where NBC’s Radio City West was located, and was NBC’s first “spill-over” location for television once AT&T linked the coast with the rest of the country in 1951.

On April 1, 1951 the El Capitan Theatre was leased to NBC for fifteen years at a cost of $30,500 per year. On Sunday, September 30, 1951, “The Colgate Comedy Hour” became NBC’s first regularly scheduled west-to-east television broadcast, and it came from The El Capitan, on a bi-weekly basis, with the other weeks done in New York. Thanks to our friend Rick Scheckman for sharing this clip. Enjoy! -Bobby Ellerbee

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You Mean They Used Color Cameras For B/W Broadcasts?

You Mean They Used Color Cameras For B/W Broadcasts?

Yes, they did and WICU was not alone…so did WSB in Atlanta, and many other local stations in the mid ’60s.

This photo is one I recently found, and it reminded me of a the disbelief many young people had on an article I did here, a year or so back on the conundrum that the ’65 network color conversions had caused at the local level.

From ’65 till about ’67, RCA’s booth at the NAB had the TK60 B/W camera next to their TK42 color camera, and lot of local stations were struggling to decide how to handle local color.

Many had just plopped down a hefty sum for a new color transmitter and support equipment, but what was next? How long could they hedge their bets on local B/W?

To add to the problem, the TK42 was not as good a camera as the TK41, and most knew it, but RCA didn’t have a fix yet. They had discontinued the TK41 in 1964, and the TK44 didn’t come till ’68. On top of that, Norelco’s PC60 came to the market in ’65, and CBS was all over that, and ordered them by the dozens, crowding out local orders.

Back then, sometime the best idea was to buy a color camera and use it without the colorburst on two + camera shows. I know it is hard to believe, but believe your eyes…it happened. -Bobby Ellerbee

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July 19, 1946…A Star Is Born! Goodbye Norma Jean, Hello Marilyn

July 19, 1946…A Star Is Born! Goodbye Norma Jean, Hello Marilyn

This is Marilyn Monroe, in her first screen test, July 19, 1946 at 20th Century Fox. Her successful magazine modeling career brought her to the attention of Ben Lyon, a 20th Century Fox executive, who arranged a screen test for her.

Lyon was impressed and commented, “It’s Jean Harlow all over again.” She was offered a standard six-month contract with a starting salary of $125 per week. Lyon did not like the name Norma Jeane and chose “Carole Lind” as a stage name, after Carole Lombard and Jenny Lind, but he soon decided it was not an appropriate choice.

Monroe was invited to spend the weekend with Lyon and his wife Bebe Daniels at their home. It was there that they decided to find her a new name. Following her idol Jean Harlow, she decided to choose her mother’s maiden name of Monroe.

Several variations such as Norma Jeane Monroe and Norma Monroe were tried and initially Jeane Monroe was chosen, but Lyon decided Jeane and variants were too common, and he decided on a more alliterative sounding name.

He suggested Marilyn, commenting that she reminded him of Marilyn Miller. Monroe was initially hesitant because Marilyn was the contraction of the name Mary Lynn, a name she did not like. Lyon, however, felt that the name “Marilyn Monroe” was sexy, had a “nice flow”, and would be “lucky” due to the double “M”. -Bobby Ellerbee

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Exclusive! Soupy Sales Returns To WXYZ, Detroit For A Visit!


Exclusive! Soupy Sales Returns To WXYZ, Detroit For A Visit!

Thanks to Barry Mitchell, here is a 1982 video of Soupy returning to where it all started…WXYZ TV in Detroit. Good tales from old timers and some of the tricks they pulled on each other, plus a few pies in the face. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee[fb_vid id=”827852363918981″]

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July 17, 1955…Behind The Scenes With ABC At Disneyland Opening


July 17, 1955…Behind The Scenes With ABC At Disneyland Opening

This is the only place you can see this rare 14 minute video of ABC’s preparations for the 29 camera live remote, of the 90 minute opening ceremony show at Disneyland. Please share it with your friends, and read the second part of this post below as there, you will find more info, and a link to the show that was broadcast 61 years ago today. Enjoy! -Bobby Ellerbee[fb_vid id=”703773192993566″]July 17, 1955…Disneyland Opens: Behind The Scenes Video

61 years ago today, what was then television’s largest remote took place at the Disneyland Grand Opening. Here is the ultra rare, 14 minute, behind the scenes film produced by ABC to commemorate the massive 29 camera, live broadcast.

This video ends with the narrator saying “And here’s the show”. At this link is the full 90 minutes program, hosted by Art Linkletter, Walt Disney and many more famous faces.

Since this embedded video is not available on the internet anywhere but here, please share this so your friends can see it. Enjoy! -Bobby Ellerbee

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20 Years Ago…MSNBC Launched On Cable & Internet


20 Years Ago…MSNBC Launched On Cable & Internet

This video may, or may not start at 1:24, which is the first few minutes of the debut, but if not, the three promos for the new network before it are worth a watch too. The stories and events they will be covering are remarkably similar to the ones we are watching today…the political conventions, the upcoming Atlanta Olympics, Russia’s president, and more, as reported from some very young looking “old friends”.

MSNBC launched July 15, 1996 on the already existing NBC owned cable channel, America’s Talking, using space at CNBC’s Ft. Lee facility. They later got their own building in Secaucus, but have been in Studio 3A at 30 Rock since October 2007, with several new set renovations this year. One of those was the addition of Brian Williams breaking news desk, and here’s link to a site that has this, and several other stories on NBC studio makeovers. http://www.newscaststudio.com/2015/09/24/brian-williams-breaking-news-desk-debuts-on-msnbc/

One of the fist MSNBC series is one that I love, and wish someone would bring back…”Time And Again”. Using NBC archival footage, that show is one of the best historical retrospective series I’ve seen.
Click this link to see some of the people, shows and subjects they covered and see for yourself. Happy Birthday MSNBC! -Bobby Ellerbee
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=time+and+again%2C+msnbc

https://youtu.be/WSS2s-4PrNQ?t=1m24sAnd so it began. On 15 July 1996, the U.S. gained a new 24 hour news channel which was then a joint venture between NBC News and Microsoft. For some hours le…

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See Anyone You Know? 1984 Pool Cameramen Shoot Each Other


See Anyone You Know? 1984 Pool Cameramen Shoot Each Other

With the Republican National Convention coming next week, here’s a look back at the very end of the 1984 version, when Thomson cameras were in vogue at CBS. At 3:35, I see our friend Charlie Huntley. This video came from producer Phil Savenick, who has a great collection of early television memorabilia, including rare tubes once owned by Philo Farnsworth. Thanks for sharing Phil. Enjoy! -Bobby Ellerbee

Here are the cameramen from the 1984 Repubican convention photographing each other as the pool video ran out. A nice document of TV history.

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July 14, 1933…Popeye Comes To The Silver Screen


July 14, 1933…Popeye Comes To The Silver Screen

This is the first of 109 cartoons Popeye starred in from 1933 until 1942. Newspaper cartoonist E. C. Segar is the man who created Popeye, but before he came along, Olive Oyl had been the star of his “Thimble Theater” comic strip, and had been since the strip debuted December 19, 1919…10 years before Popeye was created on January 17, 1929. The sailor man was an instant hit and Segar’s creation character became one of the top funny paper characters in the country.

When Popeye came to the silver screen, he needed a voice and for the first two years, that was done by Billy Costello, but he was replaced in 1935 by Jack Mercer. Olive Oyl was originally voiced by none other than the voice of Betty Boop, May Questel, but when producer Max Fleischer moved operations to Miami from New York in 1938, Questel didn’t want to move, so Margie Hines took over. In 1943, Paramount moved the operation back to New York and May Questel once again became the voice of Olive.

William Pennell was the original voice of Bluto, but he too declined to move to Florida, but when Paramount moved the operation back to NYC, he took over again. While they were in Miami, Gus Wickie was the voice of Bluto.

Thanks to the animated shorts, Popeye became even more of a sensation than he had been in comic strips. As Betty Boop gradually declined in quality as a result of Hays Code (movie sex police) enforcement in 1934, Popeye became the studio’s star character. By 1936, Popeye began to sell more tickets and became the most popular cartoon character in the country in the 1930s…beating Mickey Mouse. Well blow me down! -Bobby Ellerbee
https://youtu.be/GJCTTba4S0EPopeye the Sailor — Fleisher Studios This is the first of the 109 cartoons that starred Popeye the Sailor, produced from 1933 to 1942 by Fleischer Studios f…

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Forgotten Gem! Steve Martin’s “The Great Flydini” Sketch…CLASSIC!


Forgotten Gem! Steve Martin’s “The Great Flydini” Sketch…CLASSIC!

That “wild and crazy guy”, Steve Martin, has done so much great work, for so long, it’s easy to have missed some of his sketches. Even though I am a big fan, I had not seen this till recently. This is one of the best pieces of comedy I’ve ever seen, and I hope you’ll enjoy this as much as I do. -Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.thebeamreport.com

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RCA TCR-100 Videotape Cartridge System, Sales Reel

July 1970…The RCA TCR 100 Video Cart System Debuted

Some loved it, some hated it, but this was a real innovation, and came a full 2 years before the Ampex ACR 25. Thanks to Barry Mitchell for the reminder. -Bobby Ellerbee

RCA TCR-100 Videotape Cartridge System, Sales Reel

From the original 2″ quad sales reel – converted to PAL, advertising the new RCA TCR-100 cartridge system to networks in Australia.

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‘Squidbillies’ Is Still Blazing a Caustic, Backwoods Trail

My Show…”Squidbillies” Season 10 Debuts Tonight!

For those of you that don’t know, I am the voice of The Sheriff on the “Squidbillies” which has been the top rated show on Adult Swim since we started in 2006. (FYI: at night, Cartoon Network becomes Adult Swim).

It is rare for my character to not be in an episode, but tonight, Sheriff and I will be at my house watching the wild, and crazy shenanigans the New York Times attributes to us, with great pride.

It’ll be fun night in Dougal County, Georgia ya’ll. Congratulations to all my fellow voice mates, our producers, artists and sound engineers on 10 great years, and thanks for inviting me on this trip!
-Bobby Ellerbee

‘Squidbillies’ Is Still Blazing a Caustic, Backwoods Trail

The Adult Swim series returns for a 10th season, and lipstick will never be the same, while “Duck Dynasty,” on A&E, lacks spontaneity.

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July 10, 1950…The Original, TV Music Countdown Show Debuts “Your Hit Parade”…

July 10, 1950…The Original, TV Music Countdown Show Debuts

“Your Hit Parade” was television’s first ever Top Ten type music show, and radio’s too. It started on the NBC Red Network on April 20, 1935 and ran there till 1955. The television version started on NBC on this day in 1950 and ran there till ’58 when it went to CBS for a year.

In the great photo below, we see one of the show’s biggest stars, Dorothy Collins singing before the cameras at NBC’s Ziegfeld Theater, in color. The show started July 10, 1950 in NBC’s brand new Studio 6A which was converted from radio to TV on May 29, 1950.

The show needed more floor space for the 10 song scene sets, and the next year it moved to NBC’s brand new 8H which was converted to television on January 30, 1950. The show was done in color occasionally from The Colonial Theater, but went all color in 1956 when it moved to Perry Como’s new home at the Ziegfeld Theater. As a side note, the 4 RCA TK41s at the Zeigfeld were sent to Studio 8H when that beacame the “Peacock Studio” in 1963.

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TeleTales: “Film At 11″… WPIX Coined The Phrase In 1948

TeleTales: “Film At 11″… WPIX Coined The Phrase In 1948

“First on the scene. First on the screen”. That was the motto for NYC’s newest television station, WPIX, which went on the air June 15, 1948. It was owned by the New York Daily News, which was famous for their pictures, thus the name PIX, and the video arm was just as determined to be a leader in their film and visuals.

At the time, WCBS, WNBT and WABD all ran their newscasts in the early evenings, and all signed off before 11 PM. In order to add some extra time for viewers to catch the news, and (aha!) have their set tuned to WPIX the next day, when it was turned on, they ran their WPIX Telepix Newsreel program at 7:30 PM and again at 11 PM.

Two days later, a United DC 6 passenger plane went down in Mt. Carmel PA. The NYDN had a plane, and WPIX film cameras went along to get the first footage and pictures for the late edition of the paper, and the 11 o’clock newscast.

That evening, June 17, 1948, WPIX announcers reminded the viewing public that soon, they would see the first images of the incident, and ended each mention with “film at 11”. This also added punch to the fact the WPIX was Channel 11.

For years, WPIX was the only NYC station to run an 11 o’clock news cast, and was the first TV station in the US to do this. There can be no doubt that “film at 11” was born then and there. Below is the NYDN front page from sign on day. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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Mystery Photo Reveals…THE FIRST WNBC TV Was NOT In New York!?!

Mystery Photo Reveals…THE FIRST WNBC TV Was NOT In New York!?!

Believe it or not, there was another WNBC TV, before there was WNBC New York!

Yesterday, our friend Barry Mitchell sent this to me and I was as bewildered as he was, so I started digging. How could these famous call letters be on the side of this TK11 with a Channel 30 designation? WNBC New York is Channel 4.

Well, as it turns out, before NBC’s flagship station took the WNBC calls in 1960, the network bought its first, and only UHF station in New Britain, Connecticut and named it…WNBC. Who knew?

That was 1956, and at the time New York was WRCA (’54-’60), and of course, had started as WNBT (’41-’54). Today, that first WNBC TV is WVIT, but when NBC bought it, it was WKNB, which went on the air in 1954 on UHF Channel 30.

UFH was barely receivable back then, but with RCA as a maker of all things television, I suppose they bought it more to play with and test than anything else, but it was not a very successful venture. NBC was out by 1959, and fortunately, took these glorious calls with them and plugged them in the next year in the Big Apple.

I had no idea this had ever happened, and you never know where opportunities to find out these kind of things will pop up. If you have some mystery photos like this, share them with us and let’s see what we can find out. Below is a link to more on the WVIT history. Thanks Barry! Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WVIT

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July 5, 1982…”NBC News Overnight” Debuts


July 5, 1982…”NBC News Overnight” Debuts

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFTw6LFuclE Video 1
#t=37″ target=”_blank”>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKBMuyZFmhQ #t=37 Video 2
Many have called this “the best written, best executed news program ever produced”. I agree…I watched it every night. Before I get too far along, at the first link above, Linda Ellerbee talks about Overnight in the same style that endeared her to so many. The second video is the last few minutes on the air and the full 60+ staff and crew credits with video of all of them! You may see some familiar faces!

‘NBC News Overnight’, a live one-hour news program, aired from 1:30 till 2:30 AM for about seventeen months starting on July 5, 1982. Its debut coincided with a lunar eclipse, and despite science reporter Robert Bizel’s disappearance during the live broadcast (he went for some coffee), it was a success from the first night.

It never talked down to its viewers because, from day one, it never assumed that the lowest common denominator was the way to go. Entirely the opposite, in fact. The writing was crisp, witty, and smart. Overnight closed its doors in the first week of December 1983, after NBC management dropped it because of low ratings.

The first co-anchors, co-writers, and co-editors for Overnight were Linda Ellerbee and Lloyd Dobyns, who had, a few years previously, co-written and co-hosted Weekend, an offbeat weekly magazine for NBC.

After about six months of helping to shape Overnight, Dobyns left to do other work for NBC. Bill Schechner ably took his place as co-anchor and co-writer until ‘Overnight’ went off the air.

Overnight featured literary quotations, subtitled reports from overseas news programs for a new perspective, the best features (or sometimes just the silliest) from local affiliates, and a whole grab bag of things never before seen on national news programs. As Bill Schechner said on the final program, it proved that there is more than one way to deliver and to receive the news. Overnight must have been puzzling to some, though, because it had an unexpected mix of both seriousness about important issues and irreverence for nonsense.

As with any live broadcast, goofs occurred from time to time on the program. However, the anchors always made the best of it. They would chuckle instead of becoming mortified and simply corrected their mistakes, often injecting a bit of humor. Ellerbee once said this on the program after one such mistake:

“Live TV is a great time saver. It allows you to make a fool of yourself in front of large groups of people instead of one at a time.”
Shortly after Dobyns left, an NBC News executive suggested to Ellerbee that she take Lloyd’s seat now that she was the senior anchor. Ellerbee said she felt no need for that, but agreed to give it a try. Some nights later, she returned to her old spot. During that broadcast, she explained, after showing a tape of her position changes:

“Lately, you may have noticed a bit of musical chairs being played on this program. But in three nights, I have spilled three cups of coffee because the coffee was where it should be, but I was not. So I have moved back. And if the executives don’t like it, they may jolly well come and do the show and spill their own coffee.”

A year and a half after its birth, NBC decided to cancel Overnight in November 1983, due to low late night ratings and corresponding lack of ad revenue. In the following days and weeks, thousands of viewers (ten thousand, to be exact) called and wrote letters or telegrams of protest to NBC management. Some even sent checks and cash to defray the costs of producing the program (all the money was returned).

NBC’s news release on the program’s cancellation said the program remained “the model of a one-hour news program,” but it was being canceled because “being the best is not enough”. And so it goes!

By the way, Linda is a distant cousin of mine through marriage. Even if she wasn’t related, I would still think she’s still one of the best and most unique in the business! Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

See the full interview at http://www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/linda-ellerbee

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