Posts in Category: Broadcast History

Three Things I Never Knew About MTM Till NOW! This Is A Shocker!

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Three Things I Never Knew Till NOW! This Is A Shocker!

First, I never knew Mary Tyler Moore had a flop. Second, that flop included David Letterman! Third, David Letterman can sing and dance! WHO KNEW?

This is the only video clip of a show called ‘Mary’ that ran on CBS for three weeks. It aired on Sunday night at 8 from September 24 till October 8, 1978. It was a dud.

After starring in two huge success, ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’ and ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’, Mary tried unsuccessfully to launch this comedy/variety show which relied mostly on a group of repertory players, and what a group it was!

David Letterman, Michael Keaton, Dick Shawn, Swoosie Kurtz, Judy Kahan and James Hampton. The show was produced by her husband, Grant Tinker.

In 1985, ‘Mary’ took another swing and a miss, but this time Moore’s show was a sitcom and a return to the newsroom. In this incarnation, her employer was a sleazy tabloid newspaper. Her boss was played by James Farentino and John Austin was cast as a pompous theater critic. This version of ‘Mary’ debted December 11,1985 and ended three months later on April 8, 1986. Enjoy and share!
– Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-T11erq_kI

From Mary’s 1978 variety show.
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Television City’s Face Light Experiment…1958

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Television City’s Face Light Experiment…1958

At first glance, it looks like these RCA TK11s have 10 lenses, but appearances can fool you. Actually what you see here is an ingenious way to add face lighting to talent to take away the nose, brow and chin shadows on close ups.

This is the only photo I’ve ever seen of this arrangement which may indicate that the low intensity lights didn’t yield the desired results, but you have to at least give them an A for effort. I think the need for these was rooted in a request from Art Linkletter…not for his show, but for use on ‘Playhouse 90’. Seems that Art mentioned that he was occasionally distracted by face shadows when he watched. Soon after, this experiment started.

Each camera is adorned with 6 rim lights…2 left, 2 bottom and 2 right. The guys in the shop at TVC were no slouches…they built a lot of custom stuff there including the viewfinder hoods you see on these cameras as well as the more complex adjustable hoods.


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‘The Larry Sanders Show’…The Great “Garden Weasel” Spot

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‘The Larry Sanders Show’…August 15, 1992 – May 31, 1998

It’s hard to believe that it was 22 years ago this week that HBO debuted ‘The Larry Sanders Show’, but it was.

Out of the box, they knew they had a hit with Garry Shandling’s new show that took us behind the scenes of late night television in a way no one ever has, before or since. With sidekick Jeffrey Tambor as Hank Kingsley and Rip Torn as the show’s producer as the key cast members, the list of guest stars that came to the show was a who’s who that rivaled the real late night shows.

The show was done at CBS Studio Center on Radford Avenue in Los Angeles and won more awards than you can shake a stick at! There were Writers Guild, Directors Guild, Golden Globes, Emmys, Cable Ace, Peabody, Critics awards and more given in this country and even more from the UK and international committees. During its six-year run, The Larry Sanders Show won 24 awards including three Emmy awards.

After the show ended, it came to be considered one of the finest TV shows of all time. The biggest honor it received was a spot on Time Magazine’s 100 Greatest Shows of All Time. In 2008, Entertainment Weekly ranked The Larry Sanders Show the 28th Greatest Show of the past 25 years. TV Guide named it the 38th Greatest Show of All Time, and this is the only HBO comedy to make it to the list.

Below is a clip from Season 1, Episode 1 called “The Garden Weasel”. In re release, the name of this debut episode was changed to “What Have You Done For Me Lately”. Enjoy and share!
– Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9dT-S4RyQI

Clips of Larry Sanders reluctantly doing in-show advertisements for the Garden Weasel taken from the first episode of The Larry Sanders Show starring Garry S…
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More Fun And A HUGE Surprise Ending!

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More Fun And A HUGE Surprise Ending!

I was instantly hooked on this video as the first 20 seconds give us a look at the ‘Tonight’ set in NBC’s Studio 6B, and the first 60 seconds all happens backstage there. The cameraman at the start of the clip is our friend Kurt Decker on Camera 1. I recognize the big bald guy as one of the show’s security men and some of you will recognize others…including the writers in Part 2. http://youtu.be/Sq796gj4_eo

This is Fallon doing his best Kevin Spacey imitation as ‘Tonight’ spoofs the Netflix political drama ‘House Of Cards’. There is a HUGE surprise at the end of Part 2, so sit back and enjoy! – Bobby Ellerbee

http://youtu.be/Sq796gj4_eoIn the latest Tonight Show Digital Original, Jimmy Fallon shows how the world of the Tonight Show is not that different from “House of Cards.” Part 1 of 2. S…
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The Amazing Center Theater…Gone But Not Forgotten

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The Amazing Center Theater…Gone But Not Forgotten

The Center Theater was Radio City Music Hall’s little sister and when it was converted by NBC for television in August of 1950, it became “the world’s largest television studio”. It’s big sister seated 6,000, and while the Center seated 3,000, it was just as opulent and a block away at 1230 Sixth Avenue. It is the only original Rockefeller Plaza structure ever demolished, which happened in 1954 to make way for the US Rubber office tower.

Before it’s conversion, the Center had built what was called The Sonja Henie Ice Stage which was used in a one year run of her live ice show there. It was a massive undertaking in every way including financially.

When NBC took over, they kept the stage intact and here is that unique frozen stage in action on a 1954 episode of ‘The Colgate Comedy Hour’ with non other than Sonja Henie as the guest star. I think this was one of the last episodes of Colgate, or any show, to come from the Center Theater before it was closed for demolition. By the way, it even had a huge revolving turntable and I’ll add a photo in the comments section that shows that. – Bobby Ellerbee

https://archive.org/details/theColgateComedyHour-21February1954An episode of The Colgate Comedy Hour with host Gene Wesson, and special guests Sonja Henie, Abbott & Costello, and a bunch of other people. Contains the…
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RerunCentury: Free Videos and 20th Century TV

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A Link To Copy And Save! http://www.reruncentury.com/

Television historian David Schwartz shared this with me the other day and I’m sharing it with you. There are thousands of episodes of hundreds of old shows here as well as network listings that go back to 1948 showing what was on and when. There’s a lot of information here. Enjoy and SHARE!

RerunCentury: Free Videos and 20th Century TV

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August 13, 1899…The Master Of Suspense Was Born In London

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August 13, 1899…The Master Of Suspense Was Born In London

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9kiLlJujgI
Like you, I loved his movies, but his television show, ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents’ is my favorite of all his creations.

On October 2, 1955, ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents’ debuted on CBS. This was the half hour show that aired weekly at 9:30 on Sunday nights from 1955 to 1960, The show moved to NBC and to Tuesday at 8:30 from 1960 to 1962.

As you would expect, the ratings were good and sponsors wanted more which brought about ‘The Alfred Hitchcock Hour’, which lasted for three more seasons, from September 1962 to June 1965, adding another 93 episodes to the 268 already produced for ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents’.

Below we see Hitch on the set of ‘Rear Window’. By the way, in case you have ever wondered what the music was that always played in the famous opening title shot of the drawing and silhouette, it was Charles Gounod’s “Funeral March of a Marionette”. You can see that at the head of Season 1, Episode 13 at the link above. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee


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The Untold Story Behind SNL’s Edgiest Ever Sketch…

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The Untold Story Behind SNL’s Edgiest Ever Sketch…

The long version of this fascinating story is in the Salon Magazine article linked at the bottom of this post, but this is the short version with two tracks…the video delay and the Chase/Prior sketch.

On December 13, 1975 Richard Pryor was to become the seventh person to guest host the brand new ‘Saturday Night Live’ show on NBC. Producer Lorne Michaels had jumped through a lot of hoops to get Pryor on the show, but that was on Pryor’s end…the bigger hoops would come on NBC’s end.

NBC was bound and determined to not let Pryor anywhere near a live camera and demanded a 10 second delay in case the wildly unpredictable comedian took of on a rant filled with “the seven forbidden words”. Lorne knew Pryor would never go for it but managed to get both sides to settle for a 5 second delay.

As an aside, this story came to me via SNL crew member Louis Delli Paoli, but by coincidence, just yesterday in a conversation with NBC veteran John Schipp, some details of this video delay blowup came to light.

John was in the 5th floor tape room early in this week and noticed all kinds of brass from RCA and NBC engineering. It seems the dozens of big quad videotape recorders in the room were built into the wall and there was a huge effort afoot to get a couple of them out on the floor where it could be determined just how far apart the two delay machines had to be to get the desired 5 second delay between the record head on unit one and the playback head on unit 2.

This was a massive effort and the interesting thing is, no one knows if the show even had a delay that night. They tested and tested but given the physical circumstances, this was hard to do but the only way to do it in 1975. Sometimes the loop worked, sometimes it didn’t.

Now, back to the Chase – Pryor word association sketch. One of the hoops Pryor had put Michaels through was adding Paul Mooney to the writing staff for this show. NBC didn’t want him in the mix and even gave him a “job interview” type interrogation which both Mooney and Pryor resented deeply.

Mooney had written sketches for Richard and several other cast members but Chase was not in any of them. As one of the top talents in the cast, pressure built on Mooney to come up with a sketch for Chevy and Richard and the job interview Mooney had endured came to life as one of the most memorable moments in television. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.salon.com/2013/11/03/saturday_night_live_and_richard_pryor_the_untold_story_behind_snls_edgiest_sketch_ever/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

https://screen.yahoo.com/word-association-000000441.html

Word Association | Saturday Night Live – Yahoo Screen

Richard Pryor’s cutting-edge racial satire from 1975
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Remembering Lauren Bacall…Her Television Debut

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Remembering Lauren Bacall…Her Television Debut

This photo of Bacall, Fonda and Bogart was taken at NBC Burbank on May 30, 1955 during the dress rehearsal of a ‘Producer’s Showcase’ presentation of “Petrified Forest”…this was Lauren Bacall’s first appearance in a live television drama.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riylfh_9ir8
At the link is a rare kinescope of that performance. This, the only known copy, was given to The Paley Center For Media by Bacall herself in 1990.

‘Producer’s Showcase’ was NBC’s vehicle for their celebrated 90 minute color “spectaculars” which included 37 productions from 1954 till 1957. The most famous of these would be ‘Peter Pan’. This was the eleventh edition of this monthly series and may have been the first one done from the west coast.

It was directed by Delbert Mann and starred Bacall, Henry Fonda and Humphrey Bogart in what would also be his first appearance in a live television drama. Jack Klugman, Richard Jaeckel, and Jack Warden played supporting roles.

If you’ve ever seen “Key Largo”, you’ll instantly recognize the similarity of the story lines of escaped convicts taking over, in this case, a dessert dinner as opposed to a Florida Keys hotel. Enjoy and share. – Bobby Ellerbee


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Captain, My Captain…Robin Williams On ‘Saturday Night Live’

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Captain, My Captain…Robin Williams On ‘Saturday Night Live’

https://tv.yahoo.com/blogs/tv-news/robin-williams-snl-highlights-042018579.html

At this link above, you’ll find video clips of 6 of Robin’s SNL appearances over the years. In the photo below, we see Robin with the SNL crew gathered around the Chapman Electra Crane which is driven by our friend Phil Pernice. Thanks to Phil for sharing this picture from 2006. Enjoy and share!


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August 12, 1968…The Last TV Performance Of “Over The Rainbow”

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August 12, 1968…The Last TV Performance Of “Over The Rainbow”

46 years ago today, Judy Garland appeared on ‘The Mike Douglas Show’. At the start of this clip, you can see Mike and Judy reminiscing over some rare photos of her, but this is set to start where Douglas asks her to sing one of the greatest songs of all time.

Although she would perform “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” at a few more live concerts, this was the last time she sang it on television. Enjoy and share!

http://youtu.be/WjQuzn1jWzA?t=2m58sFrom The Mike Douglas Show, aired in August of 1968. (Part 4 of 4) In the final part of the interview Judy talks about some of her movies, her children’s rea…
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The Masters Together…Winters And Williams On ’60 Minutes’

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The Masters Together…Winters And Williams On ’60 Minutes’

Ed Bradley must have had the time of his life with these two back in 1986. Since I was old enough to laugh, Jonathan Winters has been my all time favorite comedian. It’s nice to know that Robin shared that opinion. Enjoy and share!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDJjq0Pd0RM

1986: Jonathan Winters and Robin Williams improvise

Comedians Jonathan Winters and Robin Williams put on an impromptu show for Ed Bradley and the 60 Minutes crew in 1986. Winters, who Bradley described as “the…
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From “Kolac” To “Mork’…The ‘Happy Days’ Incarnation

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From “Kolac” To “Mork’…The ‘Happy Days’ Incarnation

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46cG2foNwiU Mork On ‘Happy Days’
(You’ll have to click on the link because for some reason, it doesn’t load like most videos. Must be a Facebook misfire of some sort.)

As we learned in today’s first article, Mork’s lineage goes back to an alien character named Kolac (played by Danny Thomas) that was created by Carl Reiner on ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’. The alien character was reincarnated by director Jerry Paris in a 1978 episode of ‘Happy Days’ in which Richie Cunningham has almost the same dream Rob Petrie had in 1962.

Mork appeared in the ‘Happy Days’ Season 5 episode 22, “My Favorite Orkan”, which first aired in February 1978. Although born out of the Van Dyke script, ‘Mork And Mindy’ took a lot of cues from the 1960s sitcom ‘My Favorite Martian’.

Williams appearance as Mork was wildly successful and ‘Mork And Mindy’ debuted on ABC September 14, 1978. Robin appeared again on ‘Happy Days’ in March of 1979, in Season 6, Episode 24 called “Mork Returns”.

In ’78, the only television Robin Williams had ever done was a stint in the cast of the short lived ‘Richard Pryor Show’ on NBC. In 1973 Williams was one of only 20 students accepted into the freshman class at Juilliard and one of only two students to be accepted by John Houseman into the Advanced Program at the school that year; the other was Christopher Reeve. Williams left Juilliard in 1976

In ’78, Robin was still relatively unknown, but impressed ‘Happy Days’ producer Garry Marshall with his quirky comedic ability as soon as they met. When Williams was asked to take a seat at the audition, he immediately sat on his head in the chair next to Marshall, who is reported to have cast him on the spot. He later wryly commented that Williams was the only alien who auditioned for the role.

In the ‘Happy Days’ clip, Mork attempts to take Richie Cunningham back to his planet (Ork) as a human specimen, but his plan is foiled by Fonzie. Thumbs up! Enjoy and share!
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‘Mork And Mindy’…It All Started On ‘ The Dick Van Dyke Show’

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‘Mork And Mindy’…It All Started On ‘ The Dick Van Dyke Show’

In tribute to Robin Williams, today we’ll take a look at some little known history that relates to his extraordinary career. He was one of the world’s most brilliant comics and he, like his hero Jonathan Winters, will be missed for years to come.

In the second season of ‘Happy Days’, Jerry Paris took over as director. If you remember, Paris had also directed ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’ and it was there that a script from Carl Reiner gave birth to the idea of an alien visit.

Paris had told the ‘Happy Days’ writers about this shortly after producer Gary Marshall’s son asked what if an alien landed at Arnold’s…a few weeks later, there was a script. There will be more on this in the next post, but for now…back to February 6, 1963.

It was in Season 2, Episode 20 called “It May Look Like A Walnut” that “Rob Petrie” was introduced to a walnut eating alien named “Kolac” played by Danny Thomas, who had come to earth to steal the thumbs and sense of humor from earthlings. Was it a dream or was it real? Turns out, we’ll ask the same question on “Mork’s” debut on ‘Happy Days’!

In this video clip, Thomas enters at 2:20. Enjoy and share!

 

 

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Disney’s New Camera Tech Splices Together Footage So Editors Don’t Have To

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Soon, We’ll ALL Be Obsolete!

When videotape came to television in the late 50s, about 40% of network employees were let go because now, a set could be erected once and a weeks worth of shows could be shot in one day. Back then, that was called “time shifting” and the daily routine of erecting and striking sets for “live” shows faded away.

Today, you can shoot a cannon through a local television studio and not hit a single camera operator as they are mostly all robotic now. Here is yet one more example of the encroachment of machine over man. By the way, when is the last time you saw a switchboard operator anywhere? Please be sure and visit the Eyes Of A Generation Facebook page…chances are you are not seeing all of the many daily posts. – Bobby Ellerbee

Disney’s New Camera Tech Splices Together Footage So Editors Don’t Have To

Say “so-long” to long hours in the video editing room. Maybe.
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Classic! ‘Rebel Without A Cause’

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Classic! ‘Rebel Without A Cause’

Here’s Natalie Wood and James Dean in his iconic red jacket on the set with director Nicholas Ray. The movie was initially slated to be shot in black and white, and some scenes were already in the can when Warner Brothers ordered the production to switch to color. When that happened, Dean’s character not only went from a drab brown jacket to a cool red jacket, but Dean also got rid of the glasses he wore in those B/W scenes in which he played the character as more of a nerd.

Paul Newman was considered for the lead, but when Elizabeth Taylor got pregnant, it pushed production of ‘Giant’ back a year and gave Dean the chance to star in Rebel. Dean started shooting ‘Giant’ just after principal photography was done on Rebel, but he died a month before Rebel debuted on October 27, 1955.

When Dean was killed on September 30th, Nick Adams was called in to film some of the few remaining Dean scenes for ‘Giant’. They were shot from the back and Adams did some of the overdubbing of Dean’s voice in a couple of places. Enjoy and share!


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A Prime Example Of Field Innovation…Can You Spot It?

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A Prime Example Of Field Innovation…Can You Spot It?

Is it the well made cardboard viewfinder hood? No.
Is it the plastic over the cable connector? No agian. Look closer.

It’s the heating pad taped to the underside of the lens to keep the grease in the lens fluid. When you set up cameras that have to sit overnight in freezing weather, they are left on and have a cover over them, but when it’s really cold, you have to go the extra mile. By the way, the dual focus demands are rare on studio cameras but not uncommon at the time on long lens remote cameras. One is for back focus.

Thanks to Kathy Jenks Worster for this photo of Steve Cimino behind one of NBC’s 35 Norelco mobile cameras which were a huge embarrassment to RCA, but a godsend to viewers. Steve Cimino is now the Technical Director on ‘Saturday Night Live’, and his son Mike Cimino is a cameraman on ‘Tonight’. I had the pleasure of meeting them both while I was there earlier this year. Enjoy and share!


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August 1957…’Home’ With Arlene Francis Ends Three Year Run

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August 1957…’Home’ With Arlene Francis Ends Three Year Run

NBC’s ‘Home’ show debuted March 1, 1954 at 11 AM from their 67th Street Studios which were built just a few years earlier by WOR. The concept came from a show NBC President Pat Weaver had originally titled ‘Shopping’ and was designed for the upscale female demo. Weaver’s other creations ‘Today’ and ‘Tonight’ are alive and well, but ‘Home’, the third of the triad, ended with the 893rd and final episode on August 9, 1957.

When Arlene Francis was chosen as the host, Weaver changed the name to ‘Home’ and broadened the scope of the show to add more entertainment and interviews, but each show did have a twelve minute segment on shopping and new products that ranged from food and furniture to clothes and cosmetics.

Instead of trying to present the show on a household type set, NBC spent $200,000 on a circular set that made it clear to viewers that it was done on in a modern television studio. As you can see it was shot “in the round”, but the set also rotated on a huge turntable and was one of the most versatile sets ever.

As you can see In the photo with the girls with umbrellas, there were often special effects and there was even special plumbing on the set to make and drain rain as well as operate the kitchen sinks.

In the third year of the show, it was moved to the 10 o’clock hour as CBS was doing their best to counter program with Lucy reruns at 11. Although critics loved the show, it’s aim at the upper class female demo was too narrow and the ratings continued to drop forcing NBC to cancel the show. Still under contract for another year, NBC replaced ‘Home’ with ‘The Arlene Francis Show’, which was much livelier and had more entertainment. – Bobby Ellerbee




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A New Perspective! NBC, CBS And ABC Hollywood…Neighbors All!

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A New Perspective! NBC, CBS And ABC Hollywood…Neighbors All!

When you read about the early NBC, CBS and ABC studio locations in Hollywood, it seems they are all spread out, but take a close look at these photos….they were all virtually across the street from each other. Be sure and click on each photo to have a good look. I had seen the photos of NBC with ABC across the street but never knew CBS was right there too till I saw this daytime photo.

In the daytime photo, you see NBC Radio City West on the corner of Sunset and Vine with CBS’s Columbia Square just a block down Sunset Blvd. In the nighttime photo, we are looking up Vine Street with NBC at the corner of Sunset Blvd and ABC is on the left. I think this was the KECA Radio building that ABC bought as it’s west coast network operations center. I don’t think KECA TV (now KABC) was ever at this location as it was always at ABC’s Prospect Studios. Enjoy and share.



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‘Welcome Back Kotter’…The Behind The Scenes Story

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‘Welcome Back Kotter’…The Behind The Scenes Story

Here is Beur Lehman putting the Ikegami HK 312s to bed in ABC’s TV 57 in Hollywood after taping an episode of Kotter.

Below are links to a good 11 minute look how the show exploded in popularity and ended in rubble. Enjoy and share!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_P5bUQ0OgYM Part 1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0KjZ_OFaFQ Part 2


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August 9, 1936…Jesse Owens Won His 4th Gold Medal In Berlin

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August 9, 1936…Jesse Owens Won His 4th Gold Medal In Berlin

The first live television coverage of a sports event in world history occurred during the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany. These games were televised by two German firms, Telefunken and Fernseh.

Telefunken’s two large stationary cameras were based on RCA technology and the single, smaller Fernseh “roving” camera was based on Philo Farnsworth’s system.

Below, the dark camera is the Fernseh camera and was a bit smaller than the big white Telefunken cameras. Both systems broadcast at 180 lines and 25 frames per second. Four different areas were telecast using three cameras. In total, 72 hours of live transmission went over the airwaves to special viewing booths, called “Public Television Offices” in Berlin and Potsdam.

The cameraman looking into the viewfinder on the Telefunken is Walter Bruch who later went on to develop the Phase Alternation Line System or PAL that was initially adopted by more than thirty countries and eventually, more than one hundred. When interviewed by German talk show host Hans Rosenthal on why he had named it the “PAL system”, Bruch replied that certainly no German would want to have a “Bruch-System” because Bruch in German is synonymous with “broken”.

By the way, these were basically Iconoscope cameras. The Telefunkens appear to have zoom lenses, but they’re not. There were several fixed focal length lens options that could be changed out and we can see an example of that in the telephoto lens shot. They have placed the focus mechanism on the outside of the camera instead of inside and are already using cradle heads instead of friction heads. Enjoy and share!




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“Scared to death”: CBS cameraman covered Nixon’s resignation speech

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In Case You Missed It #2…CBS Crewman At Nixon Resignation

The 7 minutes of conversation Nixon had with the people in the Oval Office the night he gave his resignation speech is just fascinating, but if you were there, like George Christian, it was kind of creepy and a bit scarey.

Here is a recent interview with George done by CBS newsman Chip Reed for the ‘CBS Evening News’. Thanks to Bruce Ferrell for bringing this clip to our attention. Enjoy and share!

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/scared-to-death-cbs-cameraman-recalls-the-night-nixon-resigned/

“Scared to death”: CBS cameraman covered Nixon’s resignation speech

CBS News veteran George Christian, just 27 years old in 1974, was one of the only people in the Oval Office to witness historic moment
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What Do ‘Bonanza’, The Beatles And Bozo Have In Common?

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What Do ‘Bonanza’, The Beatles And Bozo Have In Common?

The amazing Alan Livingston…that what!

Livingston was best-known for his years as president of Capitol Records during the 1960s, when he signed The Beatles, but he also created Bozo The Clown and as an NBC executive, was responsible for ‘Bonanza’ coming to the screen.

As Capitol’s president, he signed artists like The Beach Boys, Steve Miller and The Band. His most famous signing, however, took longer than might be expected.

Livingston first heard about the Beatles in 1963 when he read about the group in the English music press. The Beatles’ records were being released in the United Kingdom by EMI. And because EMI was Capitol’s major stockholder, Capitol had the right of first refusal on the Beatles in America. But Capitol rejected the Beatles’ early hit singles as unsuitable for the American market.

Livingston finally received a call from the Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, from London wanting to know why there was no interest in the group. When Livingston said he hadn’t even heard the Beatles sing, Epstein told him to listen to one of their records and call him back.

Livingston did, and the Beatles signed with Capitol, which agreed on a $40,000 budget to promote their first single. In February 1964, the Beatles made their first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” and Beatlemania in America was in full swing.

While growing up, he took saxophone and clarinet lessons, and his brother, Jay, studied piano. Jay later teamed with fellow songwriter Ray Evans, and they shared Oscars for writing “Buttons and Bows,” “Mona Lisa” and “Que Sera, Sera.” Jay Livingston died in 2001.

While at the University of Pennsylvania, Livingston and his brother paid expenses by forming an orchestra that played at fraternity dances and school events. After serving in the Army as a second lieutenant during World War II, Livingston was hired by Capitol Records in Hollywood in 1946 as a writer and producer of storytelling record albums with illustrated read-along books for children.

He called the new concept a “record-reader.”

After writing “Bozo at the Circus,” Livingston worked with an artist to create the clown narrator — a composite design of Livingston’s based on various clown pictures — and he hired former clown and cartoon voice-over artist Pinto Colvig to supply Bozo’s voice.

“Bozo at the Circus,” with music produced by Billy May, was a big hit, with the series reportedly selling more than 8 million copies over the next several years and spawning Bozo merchandise and Bozo-hosted TV shows.

Other Livingston-written and produced children’s recordings followed, featuring Woody Woodpecker and various Disney and Warner Bros. cartoon characters.

In the early ’50s, after becoming vice president in charge of creative operations at Capitol Records, Livingston signed Frank Sinatra, then at a low point in his career, and teamed him up with arranger Nelson Riddle — a pairing that launched Sinatra’s comeback on the charts.

Livingston, who was married for several years to actress Betty Hutton, left Capitol in the late ’50s. He became vice president of NBC network television programming, during which he supervised the pilot for the western series “Bonanza.”

Livingston returned to Capitol Records as president in the early ’60s and became chairman of the board before leaving again in 1968. He later formed his own company, Mediarts, which was involved in movies, records and music publishing.

From 1976 to 1980, he was group president for 20th Century Fox Film Corp.’s television production, records, music and film processing operations.

He then became president of Atalanta Investment Co., a position he resigned in 1987. He also wrote a novel, “Ronnie Finkelhoff, Superstar.”

Now THAT’s one hell of a carrier! Gone but not forgotten…Alan W. Livingston left us March 13, 2009. Thanks to Glenn Mack for recommending some research into Mr. Livingston. Enjoy and share!

In the photo, we see Livingston presenting The Beatles with their first, of many, gold records from Capitol.


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CBS Broadcast Center…50th Anniversary Special Report

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CBS Broadcast Center…50th Anniversary Special Report

You’ll want to save a link to this or copy and paste this as it is a one of a kind presentation. This is, to the best of our knowledge, the most complete list of Daytime shows and their originating studios on CBS in the fall of 1964.

When television operations moved from Grand Central to the Broadcast Center in August of ’64, so did a lot of shows that CBS had produced in the many theater properties they had in New York like the very busy Liederkranz Hall, with four studios and of course all the activity in GC studios 41-44.

In the fall of 1964, the CBS daytime lineup was as follows…
(please send me any corrections or additions)

8am Captain Kangaroo (Broadcast Center; Studio 45)
10am CBS Morning News With Mike Wallace (?)
10:30 I Love Lucy (film repeats)
11:00 Andy of Mayberry (film repeats)
11:30 The Real McCoys (film repeats)
12pm Love of Life (Broadcast Center, Studio 44)
12:25 News (New Room Studio,33)
12:30 Search for Tomorrow (Broadcast Center; studio 43)
12:45 The Guiding Light (Broadcast Center; studio 45)
1pm Sunrise Semester (Studio 46, BC)
1:30 As the World Turns (Studio 65, Hi Brown Theater)
2pm Password (Studio 52)
2:30 Art Linkletter’s House Party (Studio 41,Television City)
3pm To Tell the Truth (Studio 52)
3:25 News (?)
3:30 The Edge of Night (Studio 61, Monroe Theater)
4pm The Secret Storm (Broadcast Center; Studio 46)
4:30 Jack Benny (film repeats)

Evening CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite (News Room Studio 33, BC)

Thanks to Game Show Network historian David Schwartz and others for their help with this list. Save, enjoy and share!


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CBS Studio 52…A Surprise, With Studio 50 & 51 History Expanded

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CBS Studio 52…A Surprise, With Studio 50 & 51 History Expanded

Here is a ticket from July 14, 1949 for ‘The 54th Street Revue’ television show from Studio 52. Thanks to author and television historian David Schwartz in Los Angeles who sent this, we now have proof that Studio 52 was in television service two years earlier than we thought.

Thanks to David, we also now know that CBS Studio 51, The Maxine Elliot Theater at 109 West 39th Street, was the first CBS television theater property. It was probably converted, from legitimate theater to television, in anticipation of the start of Ed Sullivan’s ‘Toast Of The Town’ show which debuted from there on June 20, 1948.

Remember, before this, all the CBS television originations were from their studios in the Grand Central Terminal Building at 15 Vanderbilt Avenue and one or two small studios at the headquarters building at 485 Madison Avenue.

The second conversion was CBS Studio 50 which came only a few months after 51’s conversion. I think Studio 50, which CBS used as a huge radio studio, was up and running by January of 1949 and with work completed there, the engineers went around the corner to Studio 52 and began work.

‘The 54th Street Revue’ debuted on Thursday night, May 5,1949 from Studio 52 and this may have been the first ever television series produced there. The host was Jack Sterling with the Harry Sosnik Orchestra and guests on the first show were Cliff Edwards,
a comedian, singer and cartoon voice who you may best remember in the role of Jiminy Cricket in Walt Disney’s ‘Pinocchio’. Edwards’s rendition of “When You Wish Upon A Star” is probably his most familiar recorded legacy. Other debut guests included the dance team of Bob Fosse and his wife Mary Ann Niles and singer Carol Bruce.

As I learned when I created the 40 part History Of NBC’s New York Studios earlier in the year, many times old tickets can tell us things that are absent in other records. Thanks to David for his help. Enjoy and share!


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ULTRA RARE! Nixon Jokes With Crew Minutes Before Resigning

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ULTRA RARE! Nixon Jokes With Crew Minutes Before Resigning

Forty years ago today, President Nixon announced his resignation to the nation from the Oval Office of The White House. The first seven minutes of this video capture his pre broadcast remarks which, under the circumstances, are truly remarkable.

The CBS crews handled the pool coverage the night of August 8, 1974 with two Norelco PC70s…one as primary and one as a backup. It seems that Nixon’s grandiosity was on display as he asked if one was an NBC camera in case the CBS camera had problems. Sensing a historic moment, a smart network tape operator started recording even before Nixon entered the office.

A lot of his personality is revealed here as he admonishes White House photographer Oliver (Ollie) Atkins for doing his job and wants everyone out of the room except the CBS crew…even the Secret Service is asked to leave, but I think they were required to stay.

At the 7 minute mark, his speech starts and the whole thing is here. Thanks to Kevin Vahey for reminding me of this historic video. Enjoy and share.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLHc8NR_v-8&feature=youtu.be

Help us caption and translate this video on Amara.org: http://www.amara.org/en/v/B1oT/ Moments before he goes on-air to resign as President of the United Sta…
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We’d Like To Welcome You To Munchkinland!

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We’d Like To Welcome You To Munchkinland!

This month marks the 75th Anniversary of the release of ‘The Wizard Of Oz’. This is a long shot of the Munchkinland set, the most intricate of the many huge sets used in the production. Enjoy and share!


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The Life Of Lucy…A Mini Bio

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‘I Love Lucy’…The Final Episode

The 180th, and final episode of the original half hour ‘I Love Lucy’ series aired on Monday night, May 6, 1957. “The Ricardos Dedicate A Statue” was shot on April 4, 1957 and in the photo we see Lucy and Desi on the set, in costume. The full episode is at this link. Thank you Lucy! Enjoy and share!

http://www.tv.com/shows/i-love-lucy/watch/the-ricardos-dedicate-a-statue-17277/


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Radio’s First Ever Soap Opera…’Clara, Lu And Em’

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Radio’s First Ever Soap Opera…’Clara, Lu And Em’

Yesterday I posted a story on ‘The First Hundred Years’…television’s first soap opera which drew an interesting note from our friend John Holt. In the linked article below by John, you’ll see that he has family ties to the first ever radio soap opera which began June 16, 1930 over WGN-AM Chicago, Illinois.

It continued through the 1930s and early 1940s on the NBC Blue Network and CBS, finally airing as a syndicated series in 1945. The program became the first network daytime radio serial when it was moved from its original evening time slot to days.

Here’s John’s write up complete with a link to rare audio of the show near the end of the article. Enjoy and share!

http://www.radioworld.com/article/muggs-bobbie-‘n-jo/23492


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CBS Studio 52, Floor Plan And Specs

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CBS Studio 52, Floor Plan And Specs

From the CBS Engineering files here is a layout and description of the theater as it was in 1960. Thanks to Gady Reinhold for these rare pages. Enjoy and share!




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