Posts in Category: Broadcast History

ABC’s Legendary ‘General Hospital’…The Production History

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ABC’s Legendary ‘General Hospital’…The Production History

There is more detail on these rare photos from our friend Brett Henry, so please click on them individually, as I don’t want that to get lost in this article from 1989. This is a detailed look back at the whens and wheres ‘General Hospital’ was done over the years and focuses on the newly rebuilt Studio TV 54 at the Prospect Lot. Enjoy and share!

For a show that spends approximately 50 weeks a year taping, the cast and crew of ABC’s daytime drama ‘General Hospital’ received the ultimate gift in 1989: a brand new sound stage.

After 26 years of toiling at three different locations around Los Angeles, General Hospital’s cast and crew returned to the ABC Television Center (a.k.a.the Lot) as the newest residents of Studio 54 on December 15, 1989.

General Hospital was taped at Studio A/54 when it premiered on the ABC Television Network in April 1963. “Back then it was a simple 30-minute, three-camera show, with a small cast and very limited space.” recalls Jack Neitlich, vice president and general manager, Broadcast Operations and Engineering, who joined the company that year. “Since then the show has grown tremendously. The cast has, on occasion, numbered as many as 100 actors and actresses. We needed a place that could accommodate the growth of the show.”

The process of moving General Hospital back to the Lot actually began three years earlier. Roger Lund, vice president, Administration, West Coast, picks up the story: “In 1986, as part of a company-wide program of facilities consolidation, the decision was made to sell Sunset-Gower and relocate General Hospital. Coupled with an earlier decision to sell the 1313 N. Vine Street building, we were faced with the added pressure of having to relocate and house the entire On-Air Promotion Department.

Many ideas were discussed and rejected, including the possibility of consolidating two studios into one. But that would have meant a decrease in the number of facilities available for other shows. The final solution proved the most cost efficient, and Lund credits William J. Murphy, manager of construction with the ultimate solution.

Noting that the control rooms were actually detached from the studio, and had been completely renovated for the 1984 Summer Olympics, Murphy suggested that perhaps the best route to take would be the demolition of the old Studio 54 and its replacement with a new structure. This meant that a new control room wouldn’t be necessary even if the sound stage was built anew. Looking out on the structure, Murphy believes the company made the right choice. “Part of our job is to live with what we have, in addition to what we design and build her., says Murphy. “It’s a beautifully-constructed building, and I’m proud to have a part of the process.”

Employees of the Lot watched the five story, 76,000 square foot edifice go up beam by beam, block by block. It took just 18 months to complete and by December the facility was ready for its new occupants. Studio 54 sits on more than half an acre, and the actual stage portion is a massive 200 by 100-foot room that is 46 feet high to the grid, allowing plenty of room for lights and other equipment. It is actually 76 feet to the top of the studio portion.

While most situation comedies are taped on 10,000 square feet of stage, General Hospital now has a stage double that size. The lower level boasts 40 dressing rooms, a tutorial classroom, state-of-the-art makeup and wardroom rooms and offices for the On-Air Promotion producers. The upper level houses the GH production offices, as well as administrative offices for most of the On-Air Promotion staff.

More unique is the fact that the fifth floor floats on 467 specifically-placed rubber shock absorbers, making the floor independent of the building and thus eliminating the noise level down on the stage. No one was more pleased with this feature than Executive Producer Wes Kenney who had a voice in the design of the facility. “It’s a compliment to the longevity, success and popularity of General Hospital that we were consulted in the planning of this magnificent building,” he says. “While the Gower Studio suited our needs, our intention was not only to duplicate what we had at Gower, but also to improve on it.”

In addition to the technical crew, the cast is also looking forward to settling in at the Lot. But none are more nostalgic about the return than Rachel Ames and John Beradino, both of whom have been with the show since its debut.

Ames, who plays “Audrey Handy,” smiles warmly when remembering the early days of the daytime drama. “I joined General Hospital when it was 10-months-old. There was only one dressing room for the men and one for the women. We were a small family and it worked extremely well — we wore our own clothes, did our own hair!” She also recalls how they improvised when something was missing: “There were no windows in the rehearsal room or the dressing rooms, so Roy Thinnes painted large windows on the wall for us; it’s so grand having a real window in my dressing room!”

John Beradino (“Steve Hardy”) also has fond memories of his days on the Lot and says, “It’s great getting back to where my roots are. I don’t think we ever had the friends at Gower that we had at the Lot. It’s good to be home!”

“It was tough in the beginning,” says Beradino. “We were just a half-hour show and I’d get real frustrated by the lack of time to do things right.” Beradino developed a reputation for venting his frustration on his dressing room door. “They were made of plywood, so they always broke,” he recalls with a laugh. “I did it so many times they finally smartened up and put in a real oak door. I didn’t notice that, and broke two fingers once when I punched the damn thing!”

The final show at the Sunset-Gower studio was done on December 16, and the move began as soon as the curtain rang down on that taping. Moving a show as large as General Hospital is not an easy task — just ask Manager of Plant Services Gerry Routt — this was the third time he’s handled the giant chore. “We moved from Studio 51 here at the Lot to the Cahuenga Studios in October 1977, then to Sunset-Gower in November of 1978 and now back here to the Lot.” says Routt.

Though millions of fans won’t be able to detect a difference, it’s change will shine through the contented looks of cast and crew. “It ain’t easy folks, doing an hour-long show, five days a week., 12 to 15 hours a day,” adds Balme, “but working in this place will sure help.”




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Remember This? Carson Crashes Rickles…

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Remember This?

This was the night Johnny went from his set in Studio 1, across the hall to Studio 3 where Don Rickles was taping. The cameras are RCA TK44Bs. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mj2S2n64DeQ

Johnny Carson tracks down Don Rickles on the set of “C.P.O. Sharkey” to see if Don broke Johnny’s cigarette box on “The Tonight Show” in 1976. MORE JOHNNY CA…
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SNL Backstage: St. Vincent Set Time-Lapse | NBC

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NBC’s Studio 8H…New Time Lapse Video

Before I get to the video, I wanted to clear up a little news from yesterday on 8H. As you can see here, the floor’s paint job gets a workout and every year or so they repaint it…that’s what they are doing now. I said yesterday they were “redoing” the floor, and with the recent total floor replacements in 8G and 6B, some thought they were doing the same here.

Also, the home base set is intact, but the musical guest bandstand area is getting a makeover. Part of the existing set is gone, but the homebase/bandstand part is still there. My guess is that the remodeling of this stage is to be able to accommodate even more lighting effects, big screens and electronics into it.

With the guest band stage top of mind, here’s a look at how it is transformed week after week to accommodate each new act. This is the setup for the St. Vincent appearance on May 18th of this year. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/backstage/video/1727491

SNL Backstage: St. Vincent Set Time-Lapse | NBC

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Life After ‘Letterman’: Paul Shaffer on Show’s Final Music and What’s Next

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Life After Letterman…What’s Next For Paul Shaffer?

Dave and Paul have been together since day one, and although there is no earth shaking news here, there are some hints that after that party ends there will me more to come from both of them.

Life After ‘Letterman’: Paul Shaffer on Show’s Final Music and What’s Next

Paul Shaffer tells us about his post-Letterman plan and says the ‘Late Show’ host won’t “stay home with his feet up” after leaving.
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First Radio Commercial Hit Airwaves 90 Years Ago

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August 28, 1922…The First Radio Commercial Airs On WEAF

Would you believe that AT&T invented radio advertising? It’s true, and their first and only involvement with broadcast radio left a lasting legacy.

It’s only fitting that the story be told here by radio, and this five minute NPR piece tells it in detail using what radio is most famous for…theater of the mind. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.npr.org/2012/08/29/160265990/first-radio-commercial-hit-airwaves-90-years-ago

First Radio Commercial Hit Airwaves 90 Years Ago

Reporter John McDonough reports how AT&T ran the first-ever radio commercial on its station WEAF in New York 90 years ago this week. It changed the way broadcast was economically structured.
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The Birth Of Video Assisted Movie Making…Jerry’s Noisy Toy

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The Birth Of Video Assisted Movie Making…Jerry’s Noisy Toy

This video clip is cued to start at our first look at Jerry Lewis with his custom built video assist equipment…a long rack called Jerry’s Noisy Toy.

This is from a 4 minute film featurette for 1966 movie audiences, but Lewis had been using this, or a similar configuration of these elements, since around 1960. As a director, producer and talent, he needed a way to be in three places at once and this was his solution.

With a small RCA camera mounted on the movie camera (seen in first minute of the video), he could see how a shot was framed in the monitor. With video and audio tape, he could instantly play back scenes and not have to wait for the film to be developed to see if he got his shots.

Lewis was the first director-actor to make use of a “closed circuit television preview system” (now commonly referred to as video assist) with his 1960 film “The Bellboy.”

http://youtu.be/eGyntfAGkME?t=2m52sJerry Lewis Janet Leigh 1966 behind the scenes featurette “Man in Motion”
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The Final Days Of ‘Tonight’ With Johnny Carson…

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The Final Days Of ‘Tonight’ With Johnny Carson…

This clip ran in Johnny’s last week on the air. I have seen a version of this from the show and in his intro, he said what we all know to be true…that he allowed very little coverage of the backstage elements of the show, which makes this one of those rare times. The studio is Burbank’s Studio 1.

I think this ran on May 19th, just four days before the last broadcast on May 22, 1992. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDB_mE5uN7k

Now THIS is what it means to be in show business!
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A Tribute To ‘Captain Kangaroo’ You’ll Want To Read, HEAR

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A Tribute To ‘Captain Kangaroo’ You’ll Want To Read, HEAR And Share!

Today is the first time I ever knew the name of this show’s famous theme song, much less, heard the full 2:43 version of “Puffin Billy”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtGUaScpSbg
At this link is the original full version. The ‘Captain Kangaroo’ theme we heard on television was an edited version that repeated the first two verses over and over, but never allowed us to hear the bridge and nice half step up into the final verses that come around 1:08.

“Puffin Billy” was an instrumental, written by Edward G. White in 1934. The track was from a British stock music production library known as the Chappell Recorded Music Library which was sold through a New York agency called Emil Ascher. The tune’s original title referred to a British steam locomotive which is now on display in Melbourne, Australia.

You’ll never guess who the man in the photo is…even if I told you his name…Cosmo Allegretti. He was on the show every day, but we never saw him. Cosmo was the puppet master of the show! He did Bunny Rabbit, Grandfather Clock, Dancing Bear and more.

By the way, I just read yesterday that before videotape came along, Bob Keeshan and company did this two hour show live twice in a row, six days a week with only a :40 second break between the live east coast broadcast and the live west coast broadcast. There was no time for a Kinescope and they did this for three years from 1955 till 1958. Amazing! Enjoy and SHARE THIS! – Bobby Ellerbee


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A Two Minute Tour Of ABC’s New ‘General Hospital’ Stage…1989

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A Two Minute Tour Of ABC’s New ‘General Hospital’ Stage…1989

I hope the ABC vets will chime in here, but I think the old TV 54 studio was torn down so they could build this new TV 54 studio. I think 54 was always the largest studio on the Prospect lot in Hollywood and had been the home of many of ABC’s biggest productions including ‘The Lawrence Welk Show’ and ‘American Bandstand’, just to name a few.

This clip from ‘AM LA’ is set to play at the start of the tour. All the rest is interviews with the GH cast. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee

http://youtu.be/eKXkNhhcang?t=1m14s In early 1989, “General Hospital” opened its new studio on “AM LA.” The cast members interviewed were John Beradino (Steve), Rachel Ames (Audrey), Jackie Zem…
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August 26, 1939…Major League Baseball Comes To Television

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August 26, 1939…Major League Baseball Comes To Television

75 years ago today, the first professional baseball game was televised over NBC’s W2XBS in New York City. The game was between the Cincinnati Red and the Brooklyn Dodgers…the announcer was Red Barber.

Here’s an interesting side note. Realizing the significance of the broadcast, Barber asked NBC to memorialize the event with some sort of memento. A week later, NBC sent Barber a beautiful silver cigarette case with the date and event inscribed on the front. They also sent him the bill for $22.19.

In the photos, we see Barber doing the first ever pre game interview with Dodgers manager Leo Durocher. There were two cameras there. the one you see here on the third base side and one in the press box on the first base side. Barber called the game from the stands sitting by the this camera so he could get instructions from the truck via the cameraman.

Earlier In 1939, RCA designed and built the first mobile television production units ever. There were two telemobile trucks…one contained standard rack-mounted equipment for two cameras and the other housed a 159 megacycle, 300W transmitter with a hinged antenna mast on top of the unit.

Each unit was about the size and shape of a 25-passenger bus and weighed 10 tons. The total power required to operate both units was approximately 20KW. The signal was sent to the transmitter in the Empire State Building.

It must have been a challenge for the sports camera operator to frame a shot. RCA had three Iconoscope camera models…one for studio use and two for the field. The field cameras didn’t have viewfinders. The camera we see here looks like it may have a small eyepiece that would have probably been a metal tube from the front to the back of the unit. The other field model (with a rounded back) had a foldout wire frame viewfinder on the left side of the camera, similar to still photography cameras of the time.

Intercom equipment was new as well. The mic was a contraption that had a small curved horn for a mouthpiece and was worn on the chest which was borrowed from the telephone company. The headsets were borrowed from radio and it really was appropriate to call them “cans” because the round metal earpieces didn’t begin to approach the quality of today’s headsets. By the way, the Reds won that day.
Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee




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Apollo Missions Television…The On Board Camera Systems

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Apollo Missions Television…The On Board Camera Systems

This is a remarkable 45 page article packed with photos many of us have never seen. This is the most in depth report on all of the television apparatus used on the Apollo Moon missions that you will find anywhere. I was fortunate to stumble across this while researching the RCA Astro Electronics camera.

Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/ApolloTV-Acrobat5.pdf

www.hq.nasa.gov

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Correction…Apologies to RCA! This WAS Their Camera…Sort Of

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Correction…Apologies to RCA! This WAS Their Camera…Sort Of

Although not a product of the RCA Broadcast Electronics Division, this portable color mini camera, as it turns out, was developed by RCA’s Astro Electronics Division.

The Astro Electronics Division of RCA was formed in 1958 and was responsible for building SCORE…the world’s first communications satellite, five years before Telstar. Project SCORE (Signal Communications by Orbiting Relay Equipment) was launched on December 18, 1958, and placed the United States at an even technological par with the Soviet Union as a highly functional response to the Sputnik satellites.

It captured world attention by broadcasting a Christmas message via shortwave radio from President Dwight D. Eisenhower through an on-board tape recorder.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibVj97TIjtk
At the link above you can hear the message on a WBAI Radio newscast. The first transmitted message from space to Earth was:
“This is the President of the United States speaking. Through the marvels of scientific advance, my voice is coming to you from a satellite circling in outer space. My message is a simple one… through this unique means I convey to you and to all mankind, America’s wish for peace on Earth and goodwill toward men everywhere.”

This camera was developed in 1967 for use on the moon missions. It used three 25 mm vidicon tubes, the same electrostatic types used in the RCA TK-27 film chain cameras to reduce power consumption.

This caption, and the text blocks below are from a 1967
“RCA Engineer” magazine article. The photo caption reads: “An engineer at the RCA Astro-Electronics Division, Princeton N.J., exits from a space simulation chamber carrying the smallest compatible color television camera ever developed. Designed by RCA for use in space exploration and related aerospace ground support activities.”

Thanks to our friend Jay Ballard for pointing us in the right direction.
Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee




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August 26 – August 29, 1968…Chicago Convention Riots

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August 26 – August 29, 1968…Chicago Convention Riots (3 Video Clips)

To go a bit deeper into a story I posted here earlier today on the NBC color mini cameras…here are some of the unforgettable images from that gathering 46 years ago this week. I watched this all live as a 17 year old. Where were you?

At the clip liked below, you can see Dan Rather’s manhandling as it was broadcast on CBS, but first let me comment on the embedded clip from NBC.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyUCZ0t4dug

We start with John Chancellor on the floor reporting on the ejection of a delegate and at times, you can see Dan Rather on the right side of the screen trying to get to the action. At 3:30, things get more intense at uniformed police are brought in. At 4:30 we can see a CBS Norelco PCP 70 on the scene. At 5:00, Chancellor is joined by Edwin Newman and at 6:40 we can see the NBC color camera shooting them. At 7:00 we go outside the hall to the riots in the streets. All three networks were using Norelco PC 60s and 70s as stationary cameras.

By the way, this was not the first time television newsmen were in peril at the political conventions. John Chancellor was arrested in 1964 at the Republican conventions for blocking the aisle with an interview. At the 1:55 mark on this NBC tribute to him, you can see that footage. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TI1RW_9G7Q

Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee

Coverage from inside and outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
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Ultra Rare! NBC’s Very First Mini Camera…1950

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Ultra Rare! NBC’s Very First Mini Camera…1950

As we saw in today’s earlier post on the first NBC color mini camera, their engineers were years ahead of RCA’s, but as we are about to see…this was not the first time.

Although RCA did have a mini camera in development at the time, NBC had one too. The NBC version was the round one you see below and the RCA was the square one. I think both used Vidicon tubes. The first known use of the RCA “Walkie Looky” was at the 1952 political conventions.

NBC’s engineers also beat RCA to the punch with the first Image Orthicon turret camera…the NBC ND 8G cameras. Below you see Milton Berle staring into the lens of one. These were built in late 1945 and were the first cameras used in Studio 8G as early as May 9, 1946…several months before the first RCA TK30s arrived.

In fairness, RCA did have more developmental hoops to jump through, but in retrospect. I think there were a lot of things they could have done faster and better. Ampex ate their lunch on videotape, the TK60s and TK42s were a mess and Norelco and Ikegami were light years ahead with their color portable cameras. Even Marconi had a tiltable viewfinder on their version of the TK41. What took so long?
Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee




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It’s Alive! This RCA TK30 Is Making Pictures Again!

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It’s Alive! This RCA TK30 Is Making Pictures Again!

I’d heard that Ralph Sargent in Los Angeles had been working on restoring a TK30 and finally we have pictures and the story from Ralph as he told it on the Videokarma site. Thanks to our friend John Bolin for sending this along. Here’s what Ralph wrote….

“As some of you may know, I have been working on a “secret” project since February. The project is now pretty much complete and it’s time to let you in on it. Project: The resuscitation and restoration of a 1946-47 image orthicon camera.

Here are the 1st pictures of TK-30A, serial #101 making TV pictures for the first time since the end of 1966! These were taken in my office today and I haven’t retouched anything. What you see is what I saw. (The slightly greenish cast is from the florescent lamps in the workspace.)

The turret has on it 2 – 135mm lenses and 1 – 90mm. The black hole is actually black masking tape so I can cap the tube in that I don’t have a legit cap. I think I’ve gotten the alignment fairly close and the results are starting to look pretty sharp.

The camera was owned by CBS-NY and had the usual Stanton-decreed, “Get those RCA insignia and so forth off my cameras and paint ’em all grey!” Fact was that when I got the cameras they were painted a sort of bilious green which I had to strip off of everything and repaint. Same was true of the CCU and PS.

The pictures are from my office windows looking across the street at a new condominium being built there.

The reason for the 8 inch modern monitor on the top of the CCU is that the CCU CRT has pretty severe linearity problems that I have yet to figure out. I’ve got to poke into this next week.

Notice the digital meter to the extreme left of the CCU in picture #5. This gives me instant numbers for the AC voltage and current. Was handy for starting this up for the first time and knowing that it wasn’t about to blowup. Helps build confidence. (Notice this gear is pulling about 8.5 Amps @ 116 vac. Less than I thought it would be!)

As far as the number of components replaced: I replaced all of the caps with the exception of a few micas. Overall this was a rather expensive project given that the .05 mfd/ 7kv caps cost about $80 each and the oil 0.5 mfd/1500v was $148.00. I’ve replaced very few resistors except the bleeder chain in the viewfinder which had gone skyward with age. Surprisingly, practically every resistor in this chain is 5% or better and have held their values remarkably well. I’ve ditched a great number of the electrolytic cans as part of the recap to try to improve the airflow throughout the camera. Also, all of the HV wire in the camera had to be replaced because the insulation had rotted. I used the super flexible Alpha wire that John Folsom uses on his CT-100 vertical transformers, but had to buy 100 foot spool at $2.00 a foot!”




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ABC’s Sacrificial Lambs…GE PC 7 Made Into First ABC Mini Cam

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ABC’s Sacrificial Lambs…GE PC 7 Made Into First ABC Mini Cam

I was digging through some old photos this morning and came across this and it reminded me to set the record straight on ABC’s first homemade mini cameras that we see in use here on ‘Wide World Of Sports’

A while back I had mentioned that they were made from RCA TK30s, but I had forgotten about this picture from ABC veteran cameraman Don ‘Peaches’ Langford. ABC New York had sent a couple of GE PC 7s to LA, but they had no use for them. The man with the big PC7s is Jim Angel and I’m not sure, but it may have been Angel that built the ABC mini cams using parts from these two GE PC7s.

By the way, Don is the one with the bald wig goofing with the mini cam and doing his impersonation of the cameras regular operator who was “follicly challenged”. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee




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The NBC Portable Cameras…

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The NBC Mini Cameras…

Earlier in the week, I posted a video that showed rare footage of ABC’s and CBS’s first self designed, black and white portable cameras.

Here are a couple of NBC’s self designed cameras. The photo in front of the Democratic Convention sign is from 1964 and shows a small camera head with the operator wearing the viewfinder and backpack. That same arrangement carried over into another configuration with a larger, triangular shaped camera.

I don’t know which of these came first as there are no dates on the use of the triangular version, but I think they may have been in use at the same time. Does anyone know?

By the way, the cameraman in two of these shots is Don Mulvaney and the picture with the Iowa placard in the background show Don with RCA’s first portable in 1952. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee




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An Important First And Last Event…

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An Important FIrst And Last Event…

Below is a photo of the first television drama to be done in color…it is also the last experimental colorcast.

“To Live In Peace” was the episode title of the December 16, 1953 production of ‘The Kraft Television Theater’ and starred Anne Bancroft. It was done in color from NBC’s Colonial Theater…the night before the FCC announced the approval of the RCA pioneered version of compatible color.

At 5:31 PM, December 17, NBC was the first to broadcast a compatible color signal which was a still shot of the NBC Chimes logo using NTSC standards.

The camera here is one of the original “first four” RCA TK40s. They were hand built and delivered to The Colonial in late October of 1952. Assembly line production did not start till a year later after the the cameras were tested. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee


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Television’s First Zoom Lens…

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Television’s First Zoom Lens…

This is the Walker Electra Zoom lens and is believed to be one of the first Joseph Walker made by hand in the late 1940s. Walker worked as a cinematographer with Frank Capra on over twenty films and held almost as many patents on optical and film related inventions.

Over a span of some 40 years, he designed and made special lenses to be used specifically on over 50 of Hollywood’s leading ladies. He had dabbled with this zoom technology in the late 1920s but set it aside until electric motor technology began to catch up.

He sold his invention to RCA and Zeiss around 1949 and RCA kept the name Electra Zoom when they brought it to television. Due to the dominance of Frank Back’s Zoomar lens, Walker’s role in the history of the television zoom lens has been rather overlooked – but there’s little doubt that the Electra Zoom was a significant production tool during the early days of postwar television.

Thanks to Steve Raymer at The Pavek Museum in St Louis Park, MN for sharing the photos of this lens which is on display there at his museum. The lens worked electronically and had a push/pull rod as well for manual operation, much like the Zoomar. You can see that rod in the Hugh Downs photo. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee

By the way, the RCA catalog listing is in the Comments section below.




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On Closer Examination…Something We All Missed Is Here!

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On Closer Examination…Something We All Missed Is Here!

Last month, some collector friends and I were trying to put a date on the introduction of the Houston Fearless TD 3 pedestal. We all thought 1954 was probably the year the new lead counterweight pedestal debuted, but low and behold…look at this!

Just this morning, I was looking for photos of the RCA Electra Zoom lens for the next article I’m posting today, but look what I found. At least one TD 3 is in use here on the debut of ‘Today’ on January 14, 1952!

I think this is the prototype in a field test and where better to put it through it’s paces than this new morning show. Notice a silver band just under the lock ring…that’s where the access doors join to the column cover. That was never there on the production models.

We can see the TD 3 in two of these photos and in the third one, we see what the other cameras were mounted on…the old TD 1 crank up model. While you click through these, take a close look at the zoom lens and I’ll have more on that next, and look at that teleprompter. I think that may have been an RCA prototype too. I’ve never seen that anywhere else but here on ‘Today’, have you?




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Eyes Of A Generation Camera Collection…

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Eyes Of A Generation Camera Collection…Part 1 Of 3

A few have recently asked to see my camera collection again, so here are 13 of the 16 cameras I have up and on display here at my home. This is the Camera Room with 3 more spilling into the Florida Room which are not seen here. The 3 you don’t see are in Part 3 and include my RCA TK30 on it’s HF Panoram Dolly. a working Sony BVP 360 camera and chain and a Sony BVP 900. More details on the photos. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee

Oh yeah, to see the detailed history on most of these, go here.

http://www.eyesofageneration.com/bobby_collections_landing.php


A few have recently asked to see my camera collection again, so here are 13 of the 16 cameras I have up and on display here at my home. This is the main camera room with 3 more spilling into the Florida room which are not seen here. The 3 you don’t see are include my RCA TK30 on it’s HF Panoram Dolly. a working Sony BVP 360 camera and chain and a Sony BVP 900. More details on the photos. Enjoy!

Oh yeah, to see the detailed history on most of these, go here.

http://www.eyesofageneration.com/bobby_collections_landing.php
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The Story Of ‘The Hallmark Hall Of Fame’…

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The Story Of ‘The Hallmark Hall Of Fame’…

If you want a story told right, let ‘CBS Sunday Morning’ tell it. From a few years back, here is their look back at one of television’s most watched and awarded programs ever. Did you know that over 25% of all of the Academy Award winners have appeared on Hallmark?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mCi0c68Mus

For nearly 60 years, the Hallmark Hall of Fame has entertained viewers with award-winning programming. Correspondent Cynthia Bowers takes a look at why its b…
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The Most Awesome “Ballet” In All Of Television! SLN Timelapse

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The Most Awesome “Ballet” In All Of Television!

Here’s a fantastic 2 minute time lapse look at ‘Saturday Night Live’. This was shot a on April 5 of this year and features Pharrell Williams singing “Happy” and Anna Kendrick as the host. Remember that?

I was there a month later on May 3rd. My seat was on the floor, front row left as you look at this. I can’t even begin to tell you what a joy it was to watch these pros at work! Honest to God, it’s a ballet!

5 pedestal cameras, the Chapman Electra crane and two sound booms all have to move in unison from one end of 8H to the other as the sketches move from stage to stage. All the while, there are 30 or so stagehands striking and setting up scenery all around you. Plus, there are cast members, PAs, Q card and utility men and floor directors in constant motion!

To the crew, the cast and everyone associated with ‘SNL’ I only have 4 words…YOU ROCK! THANK YOU! – Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i72I9NNTTM0

Watch Studio 8H transform during an episode of Saturday Night Live hosted Anna Kendrick with musical guest Pharrell Williams on April 5, 2014. Get more SNL: …
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Marilyn Monroe….’Person To Person’ April 8, 1955

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Marilyn Monroe….’Person To Person’ April 8, 1955

http://youtu.be/L05TYBXwU3A?t=4m12s
At the clip above, we start with photographer Milton Green walking through the living room we see in the photos. While he’s walking toward the kitchen where Marilyn is waiting, he is talking live with Edward R. Murrow via the new Shur “Vagabond” wireless microphone.

The Vagabond was the first broadcast quality wireless mic and you can see Marilyn holding the unit in her hand before the CBS technician helps her put hide it under her clothes. What a great gig!

In the second photo, we see a truly rare sight. As she poses with the ‘Person To Person’ crew, there are two new RCA TK11/31s behind them. The rarity is the striped banding around the top. Usually, this was only done with the TK10 and TK30.

In case you don’t know, the banding is actually a very clever grayscale camera chart. Early on, the settings on the black and white cameras tended to drift and some “on the fly” adjustments were needed, but that required a test pattern or grayscale chart. As a quick fix, the CBS NY engineering department came up with these grey and white alternating bands and put them on all their cameras so that all you had to do for a quick alignment was shoot the camera next to you.

This worked well on the TK10s and TK30s because they didn’t have handles like the TK11/31. With the handles in the way, the shot was blocked and effectiveness of this arrangement was diminished. When the new TK11s arrived, they put the banding on but after a few months, stopped adding it, so only a few of the new TK11s were banded and actually, with the new updates onboard, drifting was not as much of a problem as it had been with the older TK10s and 30s.
Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee



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Audrey Meadows…Her Television Debut With ‘Bob & Ray’

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Audrey Meadows…Her Television Debut With ‘Bob & Ray’

http://youtu.be/G3qTIZ9ZFPc?t=3m11s
After appearing on the Broadway stage with Phil Silvers in ‘Top Banana’, Audrey and her friend Cloris Leachman each got a casting on NBC’s ‘Bob And Ray’ television show in 1951. At the link above, you’ll see her as Linda Lovely…a recurring role she played on the popular weekly show.

On September 20, 1952, ‘The Jackie Gleason Show’ debuted from CBS Studio 50, or what is now known as The Ed Sullivan Theater. Although Gleason had been doing Honeymooners sketches since late ’51 on Dumont’s ‘Cavalcade Of Stars’ show, Pert Kelton, who had played the part of Alice Kramden, was not a part of the show when it moved to CBS.

Kelton’s husband had been labeled a communist and, by association, she too had wound up on the dreaded “Black List”. A new Alice had to be found, and Meadows went for an audition. Gleason had seen her as Linda Lovely and thought she was good, but too glamorous. Meadows heard about this and a few days later auditioned again under another name but this time, with no makeup and a dressed down look. The rest, as they say, is history.

In this photo below, the production crew at Studio 50 runs over some basics with Meadows a few days before the CBS debut. Among those basics…which lens to look at. The taking lens on the RCA TK30 was the top center. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee


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‘I’ve Got A Secret’…The 1976 Primetime Fiasco

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‘I’ve Got A Secret’…The 1976 Primetime Fiasco

In 1976, CBS decided to revive this perennial favorite as a summer replacement in their primetime lineup, and if it did well, they would consider it for a longer run. Unfortunately, it was up against ABC’s wildly popular ‘Happy Days’, and only four episodes aired from June 15 till July 6, 1976. Not even a dead cat bounce in the ratings.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYCxePElUjw
At the link is one of two pilot episodes shot 9 months before the June debut. Both pilots aired and only two other newer episodes were taped in Studio 43 at the CBS Broadcast Center in NY, which we see in this rare photo.

The host was Bill Cullen, who was a long time panelist on the show, and on the new panel was another veteran, Henry Morgan. Richard Dawson, Elaine Joyce and Pat Collins rounded out the rest of the panel. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee


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On Set Communications 1922 Style

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On Set Communications 101…

Long before the were intercoms and walkie talkies, there were DBMs…Damn Big Megaphones.

The year is 1922 and the man in the center is Douglas Fairbanks. He is the star of the film being shot here, which is ‘Robin Hood’. The man about to speak into the DBM is Allan Dwan and this is the only way directors could give last minute instructions to casts and crews on this kind of huge outside set. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee


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Behind The Scenes Of ’30 Rock’ With Tina Fey…

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Behind The Scenes Of ’30 Rock’ With Tina Fey…

Tina gives an awesome tour of all the sets of ’30 Rock’ at the Silvercup Studios in Long Island City. This clip will start as she enters Studio 1, which is dressed to give us the feel of NBC’s 8H.

Until now, I had always wondered what the prop cameras on the set were, but as you’ll see, they are Hitachi SK F750s. If you want to see the offices, go back to the start. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee

http://youtu.be/r9F-b_TDPS8?t=8m32sTina Fey gives a special tour of the 30 Rock set (from the season 7 DVD).
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Inside NBC Studio 8H…’SNL’ Promo Shoot

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Inside NBC Studio 8H…’SNL’ Promo Shoot

On May 5, 2012, Eli Manning was the guest host of the show. Here’s a couple minutes of his first day on the set recording promos. This is mostly shot from the balcony seats and gives us a good look at the studio and the process. At the link below are over a dozen still photos from that week that show us the writers room, the green room and more. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/photos/day-in-the-life-of-snl-eli-manning-rihanna/121626

http://youtu.be/__zA_e-7tlw?t=21sSNL with Eli Manning – Behind the scenes Courtesy of Giants.com
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On The Road To The Final Four…CBS Sports, 1985

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On The Road To The Final Four…CBS Sports, 1985

Here’s a short but sweet look at how CBS covered NCAA basketball back in 1985. This was the era of the Thomson cameras on the sports trucks and we’ll get a good look at everything. About half way in, one of the cameramen talks about his dad being a cameraman on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’…anyone know who that is? Enjoy and share!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qf1F_YLtp4c

From CBS, the sports segment of a film for affiliates showing behind the scenes of the CBS Television Network. You see the heads of the divisions, talent and…
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