In live television, a lot of things happened just on the other side of the set walls. Here at Television City, a door opens to a quick change space where actors could make a change on the set. More often than not, there was no time to make it to a dressing room and back before they had to hit their marks.
This photo is from a ‘Playhouse 90’ production…one of television’s most cherished and respected anthology series. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
A Rare Color Photo of CBS Television City Studio 33
Perhaps the most famous of the TVC studios is 33. This is the only one left that has the side wings and the built in theater seating. Here is a shot from behind the lighting directors console from around 1953.
As mentioned in the post just before this, the dynamics of production changed as with this much space, you could have horizontal production with the cameras and crew moving from side to side on stage instead of operating in a maze of set walls as was necessary in most NYC productions. I think this set is either ‘My Friend Irma’ or ‘My Favorite Husband’.
You can’t see the wings, but you can see how far the center ramp comes out into the audience. Studio 31 was originally a mirror image of 33…the only difference was that in 31, the lighting board was on the other side of the control room which we see the corner of at the far right in this photo. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
This NYC shot is a stark contrast to the way live production changed once bigger studios, like the ones at Television City, allowed horizontal staging…sets, all in a row that allowed crews and cameras to move side to side on the stage.
This photo could possibly be from the newly converted CBS Studio 50, which is now home to David Letterman. It was converted from radio to television in 1950 and this shot from the catwalk shows three RCA TK10s within 6 feet of each other ready to shoot three different scenes on this maze like set. The production is the 1950 “Studio One’ presentation of ‘The Scarlet Letter’. In 1950, ‘Studio One’ won an Emmy for Best Kinescope.
Notice the low camera in the top left is shooting into the rear of a fireplace opening and soon, will give us an image of one of the characters putting wood on the fire from inside the fireplace, but first the camera on the other side of the wall has to move. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
Before there was video tape, tele transcription was done via the kinescope process. Inside the cabinet, behind the panel door there is a cathode ray, or picture tube pointing up so the image can be seen via the mirror box. The image is then recorded by a small film camera as seen here with the film magazine above it. The operator can adjust the picture quality and audio with the oscilloscope and control panels shown here.
Don Hewitt, who created ’60 Minutes’ produced and directed this event and even though other debates were broadcast on NBC and ABC, Hewitt was hired to help produce them all and brought along some of the hardware as well. Click on the link and you’ll see some of what he came up with…things that we still use. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
Short But Sweet…NBC NY & Burbank Quick Shots, Early 70s
Thanks to our friend John Schipp, we are able to see a little over a minute’s worth of rare footage inside 30 Rock and Burbank.
This is from a behind the scenes episode of NBC’s ‘The Go Show’ which aired briefly around 1973. It was a unique show, shot mostly in the field with RCA TK 76 ENG cameras and recorded on Ampex VR-3000 VTRs, a portable 2-inch quad machine.
With a little help from NBC’s Dennis Degan, here’s what we are seeing. “The first two shots look like Studio 5H Control Room, originally built in 1954. The TCR-100 (tape cartridge machine) shown in the clip was Machine #31, the one furthest to the left in a line of six TCR-100’s at NBC-NY. My maintenance shop was on the other side of the wall seen in the shot. The clip jumps to Burbank and Studio 4’s elephant doors, then home to ‘The Flip WIlson Show’ and ‘Midnight Special’. You can also get a glimpse of the set for ‘Sanford & Son’ which I think was in Studio 3. Then we flip back to NY for a shot of Frank Blair at his news desk, most likely Studio 3K and I think the closing moments are in Studio 4 again. I believe the clip was probably made in 1973. The TCR’s were first brought to market no earlier than 1972.” Comment, enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee[fb_vid id=”732580183446200″]
September 23, 1962…’The Jetsons’ Debuts As First Color For ABC
This video clip is quite good as Bill Hanna and Joseph Barbera reminisce about the show.
Here’s a little known fact…at the time ABC did not have any color equipment, but NBC did, and that’s how ‘The Jetsons’ got on the air. Each week, ABC took a 35 and 16MM copy (master and safety) to NBC Burbank on Sunday afternoons. NBC would rack both and play them simultaneously (in case the film broke) down two AT&T lines to ABC New York for the east coast and do the same four hours later when the fed the signal to ABC Hollywood.
‘The Flintstones’ was produced in color and preceded this show by two years, but those first couple of years were broadcast in black and white. Even if they had been broadcast in color, most ABC affiliates were not equipped to handle color yet and only about 30% of the ABC stations were able to broadcast ‘The Jetsons’ in color.
I think ABC’s first color ability came in 1963 when they installed an RCA color film chain in Hollywood at the Prospect lot. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
September 24, 1968…’60 Minutes’ Debuts On CBS
Forty six years ago, television history was made when CBS debuted ’60 Minutes’. Below, we see the slate for that first broadcast and at the link above, we have a great farewell to Mike Wallace.
At the two minute mark, we enter the ’60 Minutes’ studio which looks almost the same now as is did back in 2006. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
CLASSIC! RCA TK41s In Action…NBC Brooklyn Studios…1967
I never get tired of seeing this…one of the only video clips of the RCA TK41 color cameras in action. The date was March 13, 1966 and the production was ‘The Bell Telephone Hour’. That episode was ‘The Music Of The Movies’ and in the clip you’ll see (Oz scarecrow) Ray Bolger and a young Peter Marshall.
I think that’s Don Mulvaney on the crane camera. We get about three minutes in the studio and control room, but come back for the broadcast at 23:35. I’m pretty sure the show was on tape, so this AT&T presentation is taking a little artistic license, but that’s OK as long as they give us a little more of the studio action. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
http://youtu.be/ZAJpionUxJ8?t=12m56s For more from the AT&T Archives, visit http://techchannel.att.com/archives This film focuses on the integrity and reliability of the entire Bell System netwo…
This topic came up in one of the posts yesterday, so here’s the very odd story of Arthur Jones and his 35 RCA cameras and 95 video tape machines.
This will start at the 4:56 mark where the television facility is described. As the creator of the line of Nautilus Fitness Equipment, Jones is a multi millionaire, but a very opinionated and cantankerous character. This all happened in the early 80s in a tiny town in Florida and it all went away almost as quickly as it was created. By the way, the studio cameras are RCA TK46s. I think they also had some RCA TKP 45 and 46 portable cameras. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
‘Price Is Right’…Best Ever Behind The Scenes…1 Hour In Studio 33
This is a fantastic trip behind the scenes of this legendary show and covers everything! Notice the cameras are wireless! Yes, there is a cable from the camera head to the yellow and white car batteries on the pedestals, but no floor cables. You can see the transmitters and antenna on top of the lens and mounted on the right side of the cameras.
The Steadicam operator is Hector Ramirez…the most nominated Emmy winner ever. With these multi screens, we get to see more than you could even if you were there. Thanks to Howie Zeidman for the clip. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
In the video post just before this, we saw Bob on TPIR set, but this is him in 1970 on the ‘Truth Or Consequences’ set at Metromedia Studios with a Norelco PC70. I would love to have one of these old “captains wheel” Zoom demand controls (that Bob has his hand on) for one of my Norelcos. This style demand was original equipment. Anyone happen to have one? If so, please let me know…these are hard to find. Thanks, enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
This is 10 years into Bob Barker’s reign as host and 3 years before the passing of Johnny Olson. Before seeing this, I had never thought of Johnny as a disco dancer…after seeing it, I still don’t but you have to give him an A for effort.
Interestingly, there is a stop tape occurrence in this piece as one of the game board displays peters out. The cameras in Studio 33 look to be the single cabled Norelco PC70s. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
http://youtu.be/TYaHPm4fZx0This is from a talk show “2 On The Town,” in 1982. Includes an interview with Johnny Olson and his audience warm ups, contestant selection, and pricing games.
Executive producer-director Brooke Kennedy and her team of directors smoothly manage to find the sly humor and elegant look of The Good Wife. That’s what makes it more than just another legal drama.
ABC’s Circle 7 Logo…Which Came First, Chicken Or Egg?
ABC’s first corporate phone number was Circle 7 – 5700 and their first offices were at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Remember, ABC came into existence when NBC was forced to sell off the Blue Network, which was more than just radio.
1944, Edward Nobles bought the entire NBC Blue Network for a price of $8 million. This package included leases on land lines, three pending television licenses (WJZ-TV in New York, KGO-TV in San Francisco and WENR-TV in Chicago, all eventually established on Channel 7), sixty affiliates, four facilities (in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C.), contracts with actors, and the brand associated with the Blue Network.
Thanks to Steve Finkelmeyer (for the rare letterhead), and to John Schipp (for the 1962 San Francisco Chronicle article on the KGO Circle 7 logo), we have a conundrum. Was the circle around the 7 just a cool looking visual flourish with no relationship to the company history? Could be, but it’s an interesting coincidence isn’t it? Anyone know more? Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
‘The Polly Bergen Show’…Guest Star: Johnny Carson, 1958
With the recent passing of Polly Bergen, here is something quite rare and fun in her memory. Till today, I had never seen this and suspect you haven’t either, but this is a rare look at Johnny as a comedian and impressionist. Thanks to television historian David Schwartz for sharing this with us.
The Carson segments are at 2:43 and 13:00. This show was done live from the Century Theater in 1958 and may have been videotaped in Burbank for delayed playback in the west, but this is a kinescope.
Carson’s impression of Edward R. Murrow is dead on and his Ed Sullivan and Steve Allen is pretty good too. At the time, he was the host of ABC’s ‘Who Do You Trust’.
Polly is about as smooth as the come too and there are three huge song of the era here…’All The Way’, ‘Temptation’ and ‘Just In Time’. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
The ESPN/Chapman Dualie…Last Night In New York
In case you’ve never seen this, here is the coolest sideline ride in the business. This two level configuration is around four years old…the original version had both cameras mounted on a T bar and debuted around six years ago. The Metlife photo is from our friend Teddy Flandreau at last nights Bears – Jets game. Final score, Chicago 27, Jets 19. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
The First ‘I Love Lucy’ Episode Filmed…With Schedule
When ‘I Love Lucy’ debuted October 15, 1951, the first episode to air was “The Girls Want To Go To A Nightclub”, but the first episode to be filmed was “Lucy Thinks Ricky Is Trying To Murder Her” which was filmed on September 8, 1951. It aired as the fourth episode on November 5th. Above is the link to the complete show.
This rare schedule shows the rehearsals and shooting times at The General Services Studios location, which is where the show was done for the first three seasons. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
Been There, Done That, Seen It ALL! 62 Years Of CBS Makeup…
With the Roddy McDowall post earlier this morning, this story came to mind which was shared with us by our friend Andy Rose.
Riccie Johnson started with CBS in 1950 doing make up on game shows and soap operas…she made up The Beatles for their Ed Sullivan debut as well as Murrow, Cronkite and all of 60 Minutes since the beginning and MUCH MORE. It’s all here. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
WOW! Roddy McDowall’s Home Movies…’Planet Of The Apes’
Thanks to Mike Clark for sending this amazing link to us. The first 8 minutes show Roddy being transformed into “Cornelius” in the makeup trailer at 20th Century Fox, but then he takes a helicopter to the set which gives us a great look at the Fox studios.
Mike points out that at 9:20, you can see the full-sized ‘Lost In Space’ Jupiter II mockup from the 3rd season episode “Visit to a Hostile Planet.” At the oceanfront set, we almost all of the principals, including Charlton Heston. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
A Rare Look At The First Ikegami Color Studio Camera…The TK 301
It’s good thing our Australian pals had a few too many pints one night in the early 70s, otherwise, we would not have had what I think is only the second video sighting of the first Ikegami color studio camera.
This is a “love story” between an Ikegami HL 77 and the TK 301. This was shot at the GLV8 studios and the only other surviving video of an Ikegami TK 301 also comes from there on a studio tour video that I have posted here in the past. The TK 301 and TK 355 were the only two TK models made by Ikegami before they changed to the HK prefix.
By the way, HL is short for their portable “Handy Looky” line and HK is short for “Handy Kamera”. The RCA TK prefix is thought to stand for “Television Kamera”…Kamera is the Russian spelling of camera and is thought to have come from Vladimir Zworykin. Thanks to Steve Bradford for the clip. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
‘Squidbillies’…Season 8 Debuts On Adult Swim Tonight At 11:45
This is my show! I am the voice of Sheriff on ‘Squidbilles’…television’s fourth most watched animated series. That’s a pretty good trick considering the other three are on Fox tonight in primetime!
Since our demo is mostly men 18 to 34, most of you have not seen the show, but millions of fans worldwide have. No matter your age, it’s still funny. By the way, Adult Swim is actually The Cartoon Channel after about 9PM. As the name Adult Swim implies, our shows are for adults only and have a lot of adult language and topics as you’ll see and hear.
I can not begin to tell you how much fun I have had playing this role. Since 2006, without fail, every single recording session has had at least one “laugh so hard you cry” moment and usually more. There is well over three hours of me just laughing uncontrollably in the archives. I love Sheriff…he is me and I am him in many ways, and I am honored to be us.
Directing Football…1939 Till Now! GREAT DGA ARTICLE!
With the mention of Director Chet Forte in the ‘ABC Monday Night Football’ post just before this, I could not resist adding this gem to the conversation. This is the history of football on television as told by some of the greatest ever producers and directors including Chet Forte, Roone Arledge, Ted Nathanson, Drew Esocoff, Tony Verna, Doug Wilson, Joe Acenti, Bob Fishman and Mike Arnold.
This is a must read article written by David Davis for The Director’s Guild Of America’s “DGA Quarterly” Magazine, and covers the topic from A to Z and then some, with things we never knew about how it was all done including the first instant replays and much more. Enjoy and SHARE! -Bobby Ellerbee
September 21, 1970…’ABC Monday Night Football’ Debuts
Most think this was a marriage made in heaven, but infact, it was really more like a shotgun wedding.
During the early 1960s, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle envisioned the possibility of playing at least one game weekly during prime time for a greater TV audience. While the NFL had scheduled Saturday night games on the DuMont network in 1953-1954, poor ratings and the dissolution of DuMont led to the series being eliminated by the time CBS took over the rights in 1956.
An early bid in 1964 to play on Friday nights was soundly defeated, with critics charging that such telecasts would damage the attendance at high school games. Undaunted, Rozelle decided to experiment with the concept of playing on Monday night, scheduling the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions for a game on September 28, 1964. While the game was not televised, it drew a sellout crowd of 59,203 to Tiger Stadium, the largest crowd ever to watch a professional football game in Detroit up to that point.
Two years later, Rozelle would build on this success as the NFL began a four-year experiment of playing on Monday night, scheduling one game in primetime on CBS during the 1966 and 1967 seasons, and two contests during each of the next two years. NBC followed suit in 1968 and 1969 with games involving American Football League teams.
During subsequent negotiations on a new television contract that would begin in 1970 (coinciding with a merger between the NFL and AFL), Rozelle concentrated on signing a weekly Monday night deal with one of the three major networks. After sensing reluctance from both NBC and CBS in disturbing their regular programming schedules, Rozelle spoke with ABC.
Despite the network’s status as the lowest-rated network, ABC was also reluctant to enter the risky venture. Only after Rozelle used the threat of signing with the independent Hughes Sports Network which was owned by reclusive businessman Howard Hughes, did ABC sign a contract for the scheduled games. Speculation was that had Rozelle signed with Hughes, many ABC affiliates would have preempted the network’s Monday lineup in favor of the games, severely damaging potential ratings.
ABC’s Roone Arledge had the job of making lemonade out of the lemons, and after the final contract for Monday Night Football was signed, he began to see the possibilities for the new show. Setting out to create an entertainment “spectacle” as much as a simple sports broadcast, Arledge hired Chet Forte, who would serve as director of the program for over 22 years. Arledge also ordered twice the usual number of cameras to cover the game, expanded the regular two-man broadcasting booth to three and used extensive graphic design within the show as well as instant replay.
Looking for a lightning rod to garner attention, Arledge hired controversial New York sportscaster Howard Cosell as a commentator, along with veteran football play-by-play man Keith Jackson. Arledge had tried to lure Curt Gowdy and then Vin Scully to ABC for the MNF play-by-play role, but settled for Jackson after they proved unable to break existing contracts with NBC Sports and the Los Angeles Dodgers, respectively.
Arledge’s original choice for the third member of the trio, Frank Gifford, was unavailable since he was still under contract to CBS Sports. However, Gifford suggested former Dallas Cowboy quarterback Don Meredith, setting the stage for years of fireworks between the often-pompous Cosell and the laidback Meredith.
Monday Night Football first aired on ABC on September 21, 1970, with a game between the New York Jets and the Browns in Cleveland and all that’s left of that video is posted below.
Advertisers were charged $65,000 per minute by ABC during the clash, a cost that proved to be a bargain when the contest collected 33 percent of the viewing audience. The Browns defeated the Jets, 31-21 in a game which featured a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by the Browns’ Homer Jones and was punctuated when Billy Andrews intercepted Joe Namath late in the fourth quarter and returned it 25 yards for the clinching touchdown. However, Cleveland viewers saw different programming on WEWS-TV, because of the NFL’s blackout rules of the time which would apply for all games through the end of the 1972 season. Beginning in 1973, home games could be televised if they sold out 72 hours before kickoff.
I have three rare videos to share with you on ‘Perry Mason’.
The first one (linked above) is Raymond Burr’s screentest for the lead role. This looks like a video tape, but could be a kinescope which was most likely shot at the CBS Television City.
Next up is a rare interview with Raymond Burr on the set, conducted by the well known Scottish born, Canadian journalist Jack Webster in 1963 when the show was in it’s seventh season. The original series would run for nine seasons and ended in 1966 after 271 episodes…one of which was shot in color. “Tale Of The Twice Told Twist” was the color episode and aired near the last of the final season in February of 1966. I think CBS ordered it as it considered extending the show for another few seasons.
To this day, ‘Perry Mason’ is still one of my alltime favorite shows. It was smart and well done. To me, the only thing that dates the show is the lack of cell phones…how many times could Perry and Paul have saved the day earlier by not having to stop at pay phone or call Della for messages? Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
Seemingly born to play ‘Perry Mason’, Raymond Burr did have to test for the role. The woman playing ‘Della Street’ is a bit too provocative for the character…
September 21, 1948…Berle Named Permanent Host, ‘Texaco Star Theater’
On June 8, 1948, there were two major debuts at NBC’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza and they both happened in the same place at the same time as ‘The Texaco Star Theater’ was broadcast live from Studio 6B. This was the first broadcast from 6B after it’s conversion from radio to television studio.
On the first television broadcast of the ‘Texaco Star Theater’, Milton Berle was the host, but not the permanent host…there were rotating hosts in that June to September block of Tuesday night television including George Price, Morey Amsterdam, Peter Donald and Jack Carter.
66 years ago today, Milton Berle was named the permanent host of the show. When the show made its television debut in June of ’48, Berle was the host of the radio version which had been on the air since October of 1938 with Ed Wynn as host and star. In 1940, Fred Allan took over and after he left in ’44, succeeding hosts were James Melton, Tony Martin, Gordon MacRae, Jack Carter and Milton.
As Ed Wynn’s hit, the show became bankable, but as Fred Allen’s radio hit, ‘Texaco Star Theater’ was one of the most cleverly cerebral comedy-variety shows of its time. When it moved to television with Milton Berle, it proved a groundbreaker for two decades’ worth of television variety programming and, in the genius of Berle, gave the medium the first star it could call its own.
The television version allowed him the full spread of his visual and verbal talent, uniting them toward a height he couldn’t have achieved even in his legendary vaudeville and silent-screen days. Berle’s fame and stardom was quick and huge but…once television’s biggest single star, he also became the first TV personality to suffer from over-exposure and burnout.
At the link below, Milton Berle talks about the shows most memorable bloopers…and poopers as it turns out. These are great stories from the masters lips about the “doody bears” and how Red Buttons wound up stark naked on live TV! Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
It’s taken over a year, but it’s finally on the air in syndication. The only way I can see it in the Atlanta market is to DVR it…it comes on at 2:30 AM here on WSB, an ABC affiliate. Oddly, WSB runs two episodes of ‘Dr. Phil’ each afternoon but they are the most profitable TV station in the nation, so I guess they know what they are doing.
6A was home to David Letterman, Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Fallon with Fallon the only late show to come from 6B until the ‘Tonight’ show returned this year. Before Fallon took over ‘Tonight’, Dr. Oz was taping in 6A. After Oz left, the show moved to 6A so 6B and 8G could be totally redone. Oz has moved to ABC and has taken over the studio where Katie Couric’s show done.
Looks like there are two ped cameras, a jib and a hand held (covered up on the stand) and having seen the show, I can tell you there are at least three other fixed and rail cameras around. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
Home Of ‘Queen For A Day’…Moulin Rouge, 6230 W. Sunset Blvd
You can see the main room of The Moulin Rouge in the first few seconds of this video. NBC carried the show weekday afternoons at 1:30 from 1956 till 1960 when it moved to ABC and stayed on till ’64.
‘Queen for a Day’ began on the Mutual Radio Network on April 30, 1945 in New York City before moving to Los Angeles a few months later. Believe it or not, this series is considered a forerunner of modern-day “reality television”. The show became popular enough that NBC increased its running time from 30 to 45 minutes to sell more commercials, at a then-premium rate of $4,000 per minute.
The venue was originally The Earl Carroll Theater and opened
December 26, 1938 for lavish Earl Carroll musical comedy revues. The exterior featured a 20-foot high neon silhouette of Beryl Wallace, one of the Earl Carroll girls. Over the entrance doors it said: “Through these portals pass the most beautiful girls in the world.”
The theater was sold following the deaths of Earl Carroll and Beryl Wallace in an airplane crash. In 1953 it re-opened as the Moulin Rouge nightclub. Martin & Lewis, Red Skelton and many of the top performers of the 40s and 50s performed here as it was the largest nightclub in Los Angeles and on any given night, you could find a who’s who of movie stars there.
The club has had many names since, but below is a link to a video clip from 1966 announcing the opening of the Hullabaloo Club…I think you’ll find the names and faces familiar! Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee