Posts in Category: Broadcast History

Even The Energizer Bunny Needs A Break Now And Then…

Even The Energizer Bunny Needs A Break Now And Then…

Just a short post tonight…I’m exhausted. The day started at The Paley Center For Media and then moved to the CBS Broadcast Center. It just ended at the The David Letterman Show. On the left, me taking one of the 182 photos I shot today. On the right…well, I’ll show what was on the other side of the door soon! More in the morning. Right now, I’m going to have another Carnegie Deli corned beef sandwich…the worlds best! Good Night All! Bobby


Source

My ABC Tour And NBC 8G Tour & Taping On The Seth Meyers Set

My ABC Tour And NBC 8G Tour & Taping On The Seth Meyers Set

On the left, me at Diane Sawyer’s desk at ‘ABC World News Tonight’ in ABC TV 3. The same studio the Peter Jennings reported from. When this was taken, ‘Good Morning America’ was still on, as you can see in the monitors behind me. The desk is L shaped and the long part of the L is on my right, but this is the usual reporting view.

As I was getting up from the desk, Howie Mandel happened to walk by. Glad to report that he too is a Squidbillies fan! Speaking of Squidbillies, I just left ‘Late Night With Seth Meyers’. The warm up comedian, Ryan Riess, walked up into the audience and happened to speak to my guest…Ron Simon, Curator of The Paley Center For Media. He noticed my ‘Squidbillies’ jacket and asked about it. I told him I was the voice of Sheriff and he had me stand up and take a bow! There were a lot of ‘Squidbillies’ fans there tonight!

I was in the elevator with Steve Higgins today, announcer for ‘Tonight’ and he too is has been known to watch ‘Squidbillies’ “now and then”.

In the middle, below is a shot of me with an brand new Ikegami on the set of ‘The Chew’ which had just ended. This is in ABC TV 2 and in a different building that the news set. TV 1 and TV 2 have a collapsible wall between them and were used together when Regis Philbin debuted ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’? Katie Couric’s show ‘Katie’ is done in TV 1 just after ‘The Chew’ finishes and on the right is a shot of ‘Katie’, just before just two minutes before the show started, as the warm up was ending.

I have many more pictures to share, but will have to wait till I get home to post them and do justice to the details…my schedule is just too packed here. ABC’s Bob Franklin was my host today and I’m thrilled that he took three hours of his time to show me around. You could not ask for a better guide…he’s a rare gem and has been at ABC since 1975, which makes him one of the few veteran broadcasters left in the building. Bob knows where all the bodies are buried! He buried them!

I felt very at home at ABC as many of our Eyes Of A Generation friends were there and I got to meet them. Walking down the hall at NBC this afternoon, I ran into our friend Alan Coffield who I had thought of earlier in the day and wondered if I would see him.

At 2 today, I had the pleasure of spending an hour with the busiest man at 30 Rock…Ian Tremboly. He is NBC Executive Vice President of Television Operations, Production & Engineering and for him, 18 hour days have been the norm for the past couple of years.

With ‘Tonight’ moving to NYC, renovations to the sixth floor studios A and B, and preparing 8G for Seth Meyers have been major tasks. There are also new control rooms being built on the seventh floor that will be on line in a year or so. Meredith Vieira’s show will be done from 6A which will soon be renovated soon.

One of the things I was most impressed with, is Ian’s personal interest in NBC’s grand history, and his desire to preserve it and have it reflected in the very place that this unique history was made…even in the new facilities there. 30 Rockefeller Plaza IS television’s living history! I think you will all agree that his efforts have been wildly successful. 6B and 8G looks fantastic, sound incredible and feels very warm and welcoming. This is truly state of the art television…and then some!

At 3 today, I went to meet Bob Friend in Studio 8G, where Bob has been the chief electrician since 1992, but he’s been with NBC a lot longer. No one ever had a last name that fit them better! I got to see everything you could possibly want to see, AND MORE! Believe it or not, there are German swastikas on some of the old, original plumbing. RCA’s builder bought a lot of the metal piping from a manufacturer in Munich which is where the Nazi party was very strong and the owner of the plant included a swastika into the raised metal letters on the piping made in 1933.

Bob also showed me where famous NBC Orchestra conductor Arturo Toscanini’s elevator was. The private, one person elevator is gone, but the call button and the plate with lit up and down arrows remains beside where it used to be in what is now a small maintenance office. He conducted in 8H, which was known for many years as “the Auditorium Studio”. Ian Trembly told me that he had seen the original blueprints for 8H and in that first set of plans from the late 1920s, it was then being designed as a live theatrical space…much like a broadway theater stage.

Again, I felt right at home and was treated like a friend of the family at NBC and am most grateful for the warm reception and incredible hospitality of the many I met today. My thanks also to those at ABC who extended their kindness at every turn. New York hospitality is alive and well!

In closing tonight, I’ll give you the answer to a question that I had wondered about. Most of you know that among other things, the floors in 6B and 8H were jack hammered up and the old suspended floors replaced with new suspended floors. I wondered how, in a skyscraper in the middle of NYC, do you do that? How did they get the thousands of feet of old concrete out and the new concrete poured? The answer…with an army of men with wheelbarrows! Can you imagine the cost? I was afraid to ask!

Tomorrow I’m at The Paley Center in the morning with Ron Simon. At 1, I’m with Gady Reinhold for a three hour tour of the CBS Broadcast Center and then it’s time for ‘The Late Show With David Letterman’ at The Ed Sullivan Theater! I’m drinking from a fire hose, but loving every drop!

One last thing. My hotel is incredible. A friend recommended it and it is one of the most elegant places you have ever seen. Right behind it is The Ziegfeld Theater…home of Perry Como. A block over is Carnegie Hall. Best of all…the world famous Carnegie Deli, with NYC’s greatest corned beef sandwiches, is a half a block away! Can it get any better? Stay tuned…it’s only Wednesday!!!

Till tomorrow! Bobby Ellerbee



Source

My Day At ‘Tonight’ And NBC Studio 6BYep! That’s me at Jimmy Fallon’s Desk

My Day At ‘Tonight’ And NBC Studio 6B

Yep! That’s me at Jimmy Fallon’s Desk and behind Camera 1 on the set of ‘The Tonight Show’!

This morning, I told you I was on a “special mission” and that there would me more later. Well…it’s later and frankly, I am having a bit of difficulty putting into words what this day has been like! It is without question, one of the greatest days I have EVER spent anywhere, doing anything!

I told you that I had tickets for ‘Tonight’, but what I didn’t tell you was that I had been invited to spend the day on the ‘Tonight’ set. I arrived at NBC, my first time there, at 11:30 as the guest of Kurt Decker, who is behind Camera 1. He took me into Studio 6B, sat me at the producer’s table and immediately, the first of three rehearsals of tonight’s musical act, David Byrne, started.

I promise you that within two minutes, tears of joy welled up in my eyes! Honest! What I saw was a ballet performance without description! Before me, five of television’s sharpest camera men were dancing with their cameras like you have never seen! It was like watching a flock of birds move in a beautiful unison. Their coordination is amazing…their instincts razor sharp! Every camera (four peds and one Merlin arm) were constantly moving…up and down, in and out and back and forth. I was truly a thing of beauty!

I can not honestly recollect ever being made to feel so welcomed and instantly relaxed by a group of men whom I had never met. I’ll introduce you to the cameramen and director of the show in a separate post with a “class picture”.

After the Byrne rehearsal, Kurt showed me all of the 6th floor studio spaces and the 7th floor control, video and audio rooms. Then, we went to lunch at The Playwright, which is as much like the famed atmosphere as Hurley’s as one could possibly get. Kurt and I were joined by Camera 3 operator Mike Cimino and our friend Dennis Degan from ‘Today’. Mike’s dad is the long time TD on SNL and he showed me pictures of his dad sitting behind Johnny Carson’s desk when the show came from the famous Studio 6B.

After lunch, Kurt and Mike went back to 6B for meetings and Dennis and I went to ‘Today’ Studio 1A and to his edit room on the 5th floor. At 4, we picked up our VIP tickets and went up for the taping and had a blast! Dianne Keaton is on tonight as is Dane Dehaan who is playing the Green Goblin, in the new “Spiderman” movie.

As I write this, I am still swaying from the four hour train ride from Boston to New York. I have thought about this and have come to the conclusion that I can not do justice to the photos and stories behind them with the schedule I have here. I will be posting some along the way, but the bulk will have to wait till I get back.

Tomorrow morning, I’m at ABC and tomorrow afternoon I have meetings at NBC starting at 2. Around 5, Ron Simon, Curator of The Paley Media Center will be joining me for the taping of ‘Late Night With Seth Meyers’!

Yes, I’m drinking water from a firehose, but loving every drop! MANY THANKS TO KURT DECKER, AND THE WHOLE ‘TONIGHT’ CREW FOR A DAY I WILL NEVER FORGET! Bobby Ellerbee


Source

Headed For ‘Tonight’ Show And 30 Rockefeller Plaza!

Headed For ‘Tonight’ Show And 30 Rockefeller Plaza!

It’s 5 AM in Boston, and and I’m leaving on Amtrak for Penn Station in NYC now. Dennis Degan will be joining me for the taping this afternoon at 4, but as soon as i get to the city, I have a “special mission” which I will report on later “Tonight”. Wahooooooooo!

Source

Eyes Of A Generation…On Tour

Eyes Of A Generation…On Tour

By noon today, I hope to be standing in The Museum Of Broadcast Technology in Woonsocket, RI with my good friend Paul Beck. I’ll be taking as many pictures along the way as I possibly can, however my usual early morning posting schedule may be out the window for a few days.

I’ll show up when I can with what I have, so keep and eye out and remember…visit the page itself. Some of these posts will probably be albums and you can see everything better here. Remind your non Facebook friends that they can see everything on this page at the main site’s “Live Stream” tab. Be good and I’ll see you soon! Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.eyesofageneration.com/live-stream.php

Source

Eyes Of A Generation…On Tour…One Week From Today

Eyes Of A Generation…On Tour…One Week From Today

Next Sunday morning, I’ll get a top to bottom tour of NBC. My tour guides will be Dennis Degan of ‘Today’ and Joel Spector, who began with NBC in 1965. Joel is still the chief audio engineer on the ‘Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade’ and has been doing the show for around twenty five years. Although he “retired” a few years back while working on SNL, he gets called in frequently to work shows like the ‘NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams’.

Accompanying me will be my tour guide from Thursday and Friday at CBS, Gady Reinhold, who’s been with CBS since 1966. Who better to show you the CBS Broadcast Center and Studio 50?

Joel and Gady were neighbors, and both loved television. As teenagers, they made it their mission to visit all the shows and studios in the 50s. Both are walking encyclopedias, but add Dennis to the mix, and this will be one of the most interesting tours anyone could ever imagine, much less have the experience of taking.

Since my first interest in television at around age 11, 30 Rockefeller Plaza has been my “somewhere over the rainbow”. My first friend in network television was Mrs. Kathryn S. Cole. She was head of the NBC Viewer Relations Department. Starting in 1961, I would write to her once a month and ask for pictures of the studio and she never disappointed me!

Thick packs of 8×10 glossy’s would appear in my mail box, inside the blue grey envelope with the NBC snake logo on the outside. I was ecstatic and would pour over them for hours on end. I think the last time I wrote to Mrs. Cole was around 1965.

I wish I still had ALL of what she sent, but below are three of about a dozen photos I still have and cherish. On the left is a photo that will be familiar to anyone who’s ever visited the main web site at http://www.eyesofageneration.com/home.php

That’s Perry Como at The Ziegfeld Theater in 1962. In the middle is John Davidson and Bert Lahr, taping “The Fantastics” for ‘The Hallmark Hall Of Fame’, which was done at the Brooklyn studios in 1964. On the right is a rehearsal photo from a 1963 ‘Andy Williams Show’ at NBC Burbank.



Source

‘The Andy Williams Show’…Photos & Videos To Match

‘The Andy Williams Show’…Photos & Videos To Match

Occasionally, we get lucky and can match up rehearsal photos to the performance video. Today, we’ve matched two photos. On the left is Williams in rehearsal for the first show of the third season taped on October 5, 1964. Andy’s guest are Jack Benny, Janet Leigh and Jonathan Winters. This clip is Williams and Winters.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opBOM4TQDbI

On the right is a photo from our friend Fred Wostbrock from the first season, with guest Sammy Davis Jr. This is either episode five, on October 25, 1962, or episode seventeen from January 24, 1963, as Davis was a guest on two season one shows. They are shown here rehearsing a big drum number. Apologies in advance for the condition of the clip video. In it’s day, the Williams show was the pinnacle of color television production and the only way to really appreciate it is to see the DVDs of the show, or see the Christmas specials on PBS.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=np79KdZmgPc&list=PLBE680C7CE6015EF3


Source

“Parting The Waters”…Follow Up Pictures

“Parting The Waters”…Follow Up Pictures

Yesterday’s video on how the effects for ‘The Ten Commandments’ “parting the waters” scene were done have brought a couple more interesting tidbits, thanks to Glenn Mack.

On the left is an aerial view of the Paramount lot showing the huge water set directly in front of the “big sky” backdrop. In the photo, the tank is empty, but when you add a foot or two of water, it can become a peaceful lagoon with docks (as seen), or be used as a open ocean with scale model battleships or ocean liners for dramas at sea.

Directly in front of the wet set is the western town set. This is where the Virginia City scenes for ‘Bonanza’ were shot. On the right is a photo from that show…notice the “mountain” in the background. It’s not a real mountain, just a handy backdrop to hide the water tower and the structure behind the “big sky” back drop. There were several “sky” treatments…from angry storms to clear blue with no clouds, which is the one showing in the ‘Bonanza’ shot. I think the sky backgrounds are on big rolls and within a few minutes they can roll up or roll down to one of the six or so moods on each roll.

By the way, all of the buildings on the left side of this photo, were formerly owned by Desilu. The ‘Bonanza’ mountain was hiding the water tank and the tops of the studio buildings. Enjoy and share!


Source

This Looks Interesting…

This Looks Interesting…Anyone Know How This Turned Out?

Canon must be proud to know that their lenses are “Letterman Proof”. As we all know, Dave has been known to rough house with them and his friend, Craig Ferguson, has learned from the master.

William French, our friend in San Francisco, sent this overnight. I don’t know what’s happening here, but with a prop lens shroud over the real one, you know that a physical gag is only seconds away.

A note said this was from a Letterman episode taped 4/24/14. I can’t find the clip…anyone have it? 4/24 would have been Thursday, and both the Thursday and Friday shows are taped that day, so this could be from either show.

Source

April 26, 2005…9 Years Ago Today, NBC First HD Broadcast

April 26, 2005…9 Years Ago Today, NBC First HD Broadcast

NBC’s first High Definition broadcast was of ‘Late Night With Conan O’Brien’ from Studio 6A. I don’t know how fast or furious the roll out was there, but below is a photo that shows that when the Sony SD camera were replaced with Sony HD cameras, NBC may have started with new pedestals and pan heads too. These SD cameras are outside 3C in 2007, which at the time was home to ‘NBC Nightly News’. The show now calls Studio 3B home, but guess what…the control room used to switch the show is the Studio 1A control room under the ‘Today’ show’s main set.

Below is a clip from Conan’s first night in HD, but in this, he makes no mention of the fact. Thanks to Dennis Degan for the tip and the pix.

http://nataschamcelhone.org/videos/displayimage.php?pid=2

Source

The “Parting” Of The Waters…’The Ten Commandments’


The “Parting” Of The Waters…’The Ten Commandments’

With Easter just past and the annual showing of ‘The Ten Commandments’ (which I watched), I wanted to post this great video of how the effect was done.

The illusion of the Red Sea parting was achieved by large “dump tanks” that were flooded, then the film was shown in reverse. The two frothing walls of water were created by water dumped constantly into “catch basin areas” then the foaming, churning water was visually manipulated and filmed sideways for the walls of water. A gelatin substance was added to the water in the tanks to give it more of a seawater consistency.

Although the dump tanks have long since been removed, the catch basin section of this tank still exists today on the Paramount lot in the central portion of the studio. It can still be flooded for water scenes, but when not being used in a production, it is an extension of a parking lot.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bliUHhcd3Sc

in this video they show how the visual special effects were created for the parting of the red sea scene using a number of camera tricks, matte paintings, op…

Source

Eyes Of A Generation…On Tour…

Eyes Of A Generation…On Tour…One Week From Today

“Live From New York, It’s Saturday Night”! (Rare Video Clips Below)

Being in NBC Studio 8H…well, it’s something that I’ve only imagined countless times, but soon I’ll be standing in it. I suspect the feeling will be some what like being in CBS Studio 50. Without question, these are television’s two most historic sites.

On November 7, 1933 NBC held dedication ceremonies and special programs at its new 30 Rockefeller Plaza headquarters at Radio City. There were 27 studios in service, with 8 more yet to come which would occupy two entire floors (6&7) which were left unfinished until 1941, What we know as 8H was referred to as the “Auditorium Studio” and 8G was called “The Radio Guild Studio”. The first broadcast was at 8PM Saturday night, Nov 11. The inaugurating sound was that of the national anthem performed by the NBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Frank Black from Studio 8H with 1,200 special guest. Below is the story from the December 1933 issue of “Radio Engineering Magazine”.

Here are some fun clips from SNL including two time lapse videos that show just how amazing television’s only live comedy/variety show really is. The first link is to the new version.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i72I9NNTTM0

This is the older time lapse version from around 2009
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PU8k2hoCr2w

This clip is part of a music rehearsal and walk around the studio
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gne3CUBxuN0

This is 3 minute look at what Tina Fey’s hosting week was like
http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/snl-backstage-with-tina-fey/n12583

Enjoy and Share!

Source

Backstage With Jack Paar…’Tonight’, December 7, 1958

Backstage With Jack Paar…’Tonight’, December 7, 1958

This rare treat is in the form of a “New York Times” article by John Shanley gives us a look behind the scenes of ‘Tonight’ when Jack Paar was the host. That I know of, there is no online kene footage of Paar hosting the show from The Hudson Theater, and there are very few photos from the Hudson years.

Below left is the full article, but that is hard to read, so I cut the article into two pieces which makes it easier to read. The top part is in the middle and the bottom part on the right.

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



Source

A Rarity…The Photo And The Footage…’Ed Sullivan In Las Vegas’

A Rarity…The Photo And The Footage…’Ed Sullivan In Las Vegas’

Sunday night, May 21, 1961, ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ was broadcast from the stage of The Stardust Hotel. At the link, we see Sullivan introducing people in the audience, including Jerry Lewis. As you’ll see, Lewis takes over and does a 10 minute stand up routine and closes with Al Jolson’s “Swannie”.

http://www.pdcomedy.com/ClassicTV/EdSullivanShow/JerryLewis.htm

In the photo below, we see that stage being used for rehearsal by Phil Harris, with producer Bob Precht sitting in front of the boom. The camera on the right is a Marconi Mark IV which is from the Television City mobile unit. It seem that CBS had Mark IVs earlier than the 1963 date we had thought. The camera debuted in 1959 at the BBC. This photo is from the personal collection of Eddie Brinkmann, who stage managed Sullivan from start to finish. Thanks to his granddaughter Dee Wexler for sharing it.

Source

NBC’s “Radio Ear”…The First IFB or Ear Prompter

NBC’s “Radio Ear”…The First IFB or Ear Prompter

To help radio crews and floor reporters cover the 1944 political conventions (both held in Chicago), NBC came up with the “radio ear”…a one way voice link from control.

The television people in Studio 3H saw this and thought it would be a good way to make floor directors a bit more flexible since they would no longer have to use a cabled headset. They tried it for a while and then it just kind of petered out for some reason. It would take over 20 years for IFBs to return to the air with television’s coverage of the US space missions.

Below are three versions of the receiver, two headset models with aerials and one as an ear bud with battery packs. The photos were taken in NBC Studio 3H. The lady is a young Cloris Leachman and the bathing suit photo is to demonstrate how hidable the unit it.



Source

MUST SEE! Dinah Shore Rides The Crane Camera…TK40s


MUST SEE! Dinah Shore Rides The Crane Camera…TK40s

I’ve watched this several times and I’m sure this is from The Colonial Theater. A few seconds after this video’s start point, the first camera we see is a TK40, notice there are no vents on the viewfinder housing. The Colonial was the only NBC theater with TK40s. I can also tell this is The Colonial by the balcony facade.

Once the crane camera comes into view, notice it has a vented viewfinder housing, but it is still a TK40. My long study of The Colonial’s cameras has always made me wonder why they left one (of four) TK40 with the original unvented VF cover. RCA supplied the updated, vented cover to TK40 owners once the TK41s went into production in 1954. The Colonial had the first TK40s and they were installed in late 1952.

This is the ‘Dinah Shore Chevy Show’, originating from New York on January 13, 1957. Usually, the show came from Burbank, but for some reason, they are in NY for a couple of weeks. Dinah’s one hour show ran on NBC from October of ’56 till May of ’63 and was always in color. Bob Banner was the producer. Thanks to Dave Miller for sharing this with us.

http://youtu.be/bNt4duaVOYg?t=2m36sDinah Shore is her usual enchanting self on this 1957 Chevy Show with guest stars Art Carney, Stubby Kaye, and special guest Perry Como. Dinah outdoes hersel…

Source

Television’s First News Man…Lowell Thomas

Television’s First News Man…Lowell Thomas

Although Lowell Thomas’s news programs were heard and seen on NBC radio and television, Thomas did not actually work for NBC…he worked for Sunoco, the sponsor of his shows.

Details on television’s first news program are few, and far between, but as best I can tell, Thomas hosted the first-ever television-news broadcast in 1939 on NBC’s W2XBS. I think this was a stand alone broadcast and not a simulcast, and perhaps was only done for one week as a trial run.

Television’s first ever regularly scheduled television news broadcast, which was a simulcast of his radio broadcast, began on February 21, 1940, on NBC Television. While W2XBS New York carried every TV/radio simulcast, it is not known if the two other stations capable of being fed programs by W2XBS, W2XB Schenectady and/or W3XE Philadelphia carried all or some of the simulcasts.

That February 21 telecast was on a Wednesday, and it is possible that the Thomas simulcasts were were only done once a week as midweek summary type shows for television. It is reported that his Wednesday NBC radio shows were summary style shows too.

It is not known when the ‘Sunoco News With Lowell Thomas’ television show ended. Some accounts say it was “brief”, while other sources report that it ended with the outbreak of WW II . Generally, we in the US think of that as December 7, 1941 with the Pearl Harbor bombing, but the war in Europe was already heating up. The start of the war is generally held to be 1 September 1939, beginning with the German invasion of Poland; Britain and France declared war on Germany two days later.

I suspect that the show, with it’s limited viewership, ended in September so that Thomas could devote more time to his radio reporting duties. He is said not to have liked television as it kept him too tied down as he had to be in the studio every day. His radio show did a lot of traveling and he liked that.

In the Summer of 1940, Thomas anchored the first live telecast of a political convention, the 1940 Republican National Convention, which was fed from Philadelphia to W2XBS and on to W2XB. Reportedly, Thomas wasn’t in Philadelphia, but was instead anchoring the broadcast from a New York studio and merely identifying speakers who were about to or who had just addressed the convention.

It would take television till 1948 to present a regularly scheduled evening news show on the network level…that show was the ‘CBS Television News With Douglas Edwards’.


Source

50 Years Ago, This Week…The 1964 World’s Fair Opened

50 Years Ago, This Week…The 1964 World’s Fair Opened

For some, this was the first and only time they would see, and be seen, by color television cameras. Just as RCA had made great use of it’s presence at the 1939 World’s Fair (also in New York) to introduce the public to television, their ’64 fair presence was focused on color.

Were you there? I was. What do you remember? To help with those memories, here are a few pictures of the RCA TK41s, and at the top link, film footage of people on the “color carousel”. The bottom link is to more pix of the fair.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9Vm_peHmKg

http://mashable.com/2014/04/23/1964-new-york-worlds-fair-photos/



Source

Am I On The Right Floor? My Ears Tell Me No!

Am I On The Right Floor? My Ears Tell Me No!

I love ‘Mad Men’, BUT…when I watch, for example, a couple of men or women walk along the “office” floors, I don’t hear a concrete skyscraper floor…I hear a wooden stage floor and the illusion is broken.

Same thing the other day on ‘NCIS’ in a scene set in a big hospital.
Most of you reading this know what I mean because you’ve been on film sets at one time or another. Unlike live television and soap opera sets, film sets are built on raised wooden floors for construction purposes and hiding cables. The sound of actors footsteps on a raised wooden floor is much different than that of walking on a hard floor.

This past Easter Sunday, I was watching ‘The Ten Commandments’ with Charlton Heston. When he was brought before the Pharaoh in chains, the accompanying sound effect add on was jingle bells…not chains. Suddenly I was back in my recliner and not in Egypt.

I don’t often climb on my soap box and will climb down now, but I’ll close with a request for the sound designers to pay more attention. 99.9% of those watching never notice these kinds of things, but for industry people trying to enjoy a television performance, this is one of the things that eject us from the theater of innocent illusion and put us back in the real world.

What are some of the other things like this that throw you off?

Source

Mel Allen…Columbia University Football, 1946

Mel Allen…Columbia University Football, 1946

In 1946, CBS Television began telecasting the home games at Columbia University. CBS Radio sportscaster, and the then voice of the NY Yankees, Mel Allen was chosen to be the host. This photo was taken at Columbia’s Baker Filed on October 5, 1946. A few days later, he would be calling his first World Series game.

The camera is an RCA Orthicon model with a CBS custom made gun sight viewfinder. Although the camera did have a ground glass optical VF, like the Iconoscope cameras, this VF alternative saved the day as seeing the camera viewfinder in bright light was hard, but with long shots like this and a fixed focal length lens, framing was more important.

Allen started his career as the public address announcer for Alabama Crimson Tide football games. In 1933, when the sports director of Birmingham’s radio station WBRC asked Alabama coach Frank Thomas to recommend a new play-by-play announcer, he suggested Allen. His first broadcast was Alabama’s home opener that year, against the Tulane Green Wave.

Allen graduated from the University of Alabama School of Law in 1937. Shortly after graduating, Allen took a train to New York City for a week’s vacation. While in New York, just as a lark, he auditioned for a staff announcer’s position at the CBS Radio Network.

CBS executives already knew of Allen; the network’s top sportscaster, Ted Husing, had heard many of his Crimson Tide broadcasts. He was hired at $45 a week. The rest, as they say “is history”.

Source

Remembering RCA’s Harry Wright

Remembering RCA’s Harry Wright

I’m sad to announce the passing of one of RCA Broadcast’s brightest engineers…our friend Harry Wright. Below is part of his obituary, and at the link, a story I did on Harry’s long career at RCA. Mr. Wright is on the right in the photo. He will be missed.

#header” target=”_blank”>http://www.eyesofageneration.com/Archives_Henry_Wright.php #header

Harry G. Wright of Fort Myers, Florida, passed away April 17th. Harry was a mechanical engineer for RCA Camden. A graduate of Drexel Institute, Harry started with RCA in 1945, and was part of the beginning of the color television industry in America. He invented television cameras such as the RCA TP-16, TP-35, TP-6, TR-22, TK-42, TK-43, and TK-44. As a member of the TK-76 camera team, he was awarded the I.K. Kessler, Tiger Award for 1976, and the David Sarnoff Award for 1977. The blue RCA cameras could be seen on the sidelines of every football and basketball game in the 70s and 80s, shooting the action. Harry won four Emmy awards from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for best Technical or Engineering Achievement. He also held numerous patents for his work with RCA.

Source

CBS Gives Birth To The A & B Roll In News

Instant Replay…New Information + The Birth Of A & B Roll News

A week or so back, I did a story on the early days of live news on CBS. I had thought that the ‘CBS Television News With Douglas Edwards’ had always come from the Grand Central Studios, but it didn’t. It did move there some time in the mid 50s, but here’s the story of the earliest days of the show.

In re reading “This Is CBS”, by Robert Slater, he quotes CBS Television’s first news president Sig Mickelson on the 1951 push to make news a more dynamic part of the programing. “The TV news department was located in a corner office of the radio news department at 485 Madison Avenue. The studio was eight blocks away in Liederkranz Hall.”

By the time the 1952 Presidential election rolled around, at least the CBS Television News department had moved, but not the studio…yet. Here is another quote: “Television news occupied a crowded space on 42nd Street over Grand Central Station. The broadcast studio was thirteen blocks away at Liederkranz Hall. This required the staff to hustle into a cab every night at 7:20 trying to rush last minute film and scripts to Edwards before the start of the news. This did not always work out, especially on rainy days.”

It was at Liederkrantz Hall that news legend Don Hewitt came up with the idea of using dual projectors and in essence gave us the A and B roll concept of news footage. Back then, boring “talking head” news footage was the norm, but to add a bit of extra texture, Hewitt hit on the idea of inserting related images using a second projector. This was done on the fly…punched live on the air. One machine ran the “head” with sound, the other projector was loaded with film of related images and ran with no audio.

It was while previewing Senator Robert Taft’s long and boring speech on a swollen federal budget, that the idea occurred to Hewitt. Who says politicians aren’t an inspiration?!? Enjoy and Share.

Source

Sports Graphics…Back In The Day

Sports Graphics…Back In The Day

Long before there were digital graphics gizmos, there were analog graphics gizmos. This piece of hardware was used at WHDH in Boston for Celtic’s basketball in 1964.

In ’64, colorcasting was trying to break out, but networks and stations that originated major sports broadcasts, would always take along a black and white camera to shoot either flip cards, or mechanical graphic boxes like this that would be super imposed over the field of play shots.

ABC Sports always had a TK60 along in their color trucks and at times, would use the utility truck as the “graphics studio” with lights, the TK60 and the flip cards set up in the truck’s cargo area. My how times have changed! Thanks to Maureen Carney for the photo.

Source

Remember The Letterman-Gumble Feud? Here’s Where It Started!


Remember The Letterman-Gumble Feud? Here’s Where It Started!

In May of 1985, ‘Today’ Executive Producer Steve Friedman and NBC President Larry Grossman announced that the famous morning show would present a live, one hour ‘Today Primetime’ special in August.

What no one on the ‘Today’ staff knew was that Friedman had also invited David Letterman to “interact” with the live show. “Interact” he did, and this video captures the moment. I don’t know if this clip was part of the ‘Today’ show live feed, or, if it was taped by Letterman for use on his show, but this kicked off a three year feud with ‘Today’ host Bryant Gumble.

According to this 1989 story in the “Spokane Chronicle”, Gumble was outraged and “huffy” demanding an apology from Dave, which never came. The more Bryant huffed, the more jokes from Dave.
http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1345&dat=19881020&id=x0JYAAAAIBAJ&sjid=2_kDAAAAIBAJ&pg=5424,584093

The feud finally ended May 13, 1989 when Gumbal made an appearance on ‘Late Night’…a video clip I would love to see!

Although, in the article, Jane Pauley describes the event as an interruption of her interview with ‘Miami Vice’ stars Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas, what we see here is a set with Gene Shalit, Gumble and Pauley. Perhaps there was a second “interaction”?

Enjoy and share!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3R8aoPyGyc

David Letterman interrupts the Today Show Please visit CBS.com for more great Letterman clips.

Source

NBC’s Legendary Technical Director…Heino Ripp

NBC’s Legendary Technical Director…Heino Ripp

In the photos below, we see Heino starting his career in Studio 3H behind an RCA A500 Iconoscope camera. On the right, he is literally the “right hand man” to another legend, Dwight Hemion (no headset), who is directing ‘The Perry Como Show’ at The Ziegfeld Theater.

Mr. Ripp was born with a mild deformity in the fingers of his left hand which kept him from serving in WWII. This allowed him to keep his new job at NBC, which he began in the early ’40s. All through the war years, he was there…learning and innovating.

Heino moved from the studio to the control room and soon became one of the network’s top technical directors….a role that he would continue in until his last years with NBC, in which he served as the TD on ‘Saturday Night Live’.

You name it, he saw it! When television took off after the war, Ripp was right in the middle of the biggest entertainment and technology explosion ever seen. Every big, live NBC show you can think of, Heino was there for.

For more, The Television Legends Interview Series taped six half hour segments with Mr. Ripp and the first of the series is linked below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVQ5bQAF3ZA


Source

Vin Scully…65 Season With The Dodgers, From Brooklyn To LA

Vin Scully…65 Season With The Dodgers, From Brooklyn To LA

His 65 seasons with the Dodgers (1950–present) is the longest tenure of any broadcaster with a single team in professional sports history, and he is second by one year to only Tommy Lasorda in terms of number of years with the Dodgers organization in any capacity.

In 1950, Scully joined Red Barber and Connie Desmond in the Brooklyn Dodgers radio and television booths which were carried on WOR. When Barber got into a salary dispute with World Series sponsor Gillette in 1953, Scully took Barber’s spot for the 1953 World Series. At the age of 25, Scully became the youngest man to broadcast a World Series game (a record that stands to this day). Barber left the Dodgers after the 1953 season to work for the New York Yankees.

Sculley worked for CBS from 1975-’82 calling NFL, PGA and tennis games. From ’83-’89 he worked for NBC television as their lead baseball broadcaster. Besides calling the Saturday Game of the Week for NBC, Scully called three World Series (1984, 1986, and 1988), four National League Championship Series (1983, 1985, 1987, and 1989), and four All-Star Games (1983, 1985, 1987, and 1989). Scully also reworked his Dodgers schedule during this period, broadcasting home games on the radio, and road games for the Dodgers television network, with Fridays and Saturdays off so he could work for NBC.

Source

Easter Sunday 1950…Bob Hope’s First Television Special


Easter Sunday 1950…Bob Hope’s First Television Special

Unbelievably, this show almost did not go on! For two reasons! First we’ll look at the more urgent problem.

This was a live NBC remote from The Amsterdam Theater, scheduled to air from 5:30-7:00 Eastern. Tensions between the unions were so thick you could cut it with a knife. Renowned NBC Technical Director Heino Ripp was there and the man that made it happen.

With only three days of rehearsal in the theater, things were boiling between the electrical and stagecraft people and NBC’s television people, and it all got started over lighting gels.

The lighting people were from Broadway and wanted to wash everything with color, but technically television needed more white light and the NBC people were taking the gels out so the cameras could get better registration. One thing lead to another and up till about an hour from showtime, it looked like there would be a walkout.

Heino Ripp finally jumped in the middle with the heads of all the unions, explained the problems and after about 20 minutes, calm was restored.

In the weeks before this though, the problem with with Bob Hope. He was avoiding television as much as possible in early 1950 as he considered radio and motion pictures an “easier racket”.

Hope had also declared that “NOBODY could pay him enough money to do a TV show!” Then, the ad agency representing Frigidaire contacted Hope’s agent, James L. Saphier, about doing this special, asking how much did Bob want? Hope snapped, $50,000, figuring that would end it, as no one had ever asked for that much money to appear on one TV show back then.

Instead of saying no, Frigidaire countered with an offer for five specials…$40,000 for the first one, and $37,500 each for the rest. Even Hope couldn’t pass that up, and finally agreed. Once he did the special, he embraced television wholeheartedly, appearing in monthly or semi-monthly specials for NBC through 1996 (while continuing his weekly radio show until it ended in 1955), and paved the way for other radio stars to follow him in the new medium.

This is an example of TV at its most primitive…AND entertaining.

https://archive.org/details/starspangledrevueBob Hope’s first Television special, broadcast Easter Sunday, 1950. It features comedy, dance, singing, and some fine piano playing. Hope performs a sketch…

Source

Late Night Flashback…1997


Late Night Flashback…1997

Bailey Stortz was a cameraman on ‘Late Night’ for many years and also did some occasional work on SNL, but on this night, November 14, 1997…Bailey gets some discipline from Conan’s guest Bill Murray. Thanks to Andy Rose for the clip.

http://youtu.be/VmL_C1vUkSk?t=3m50sConan interviews Bill Murray on November 14, 1997. Bill promotes his new movie “The Man Who Knew Too Little” and bullies cameraman Bailey. Complete.

Source

Television’s First Sportscaster…Bill Stern

Television’s First Sportscaster…Bill Stern

In the center is an NBC publicity photo of Bill Stern. Mr. Stern is the man that called the action on the first ever televised sporting event…the second game of a baseball doubleheader between Princeton and Columbia at Columbia’s Baker Field on May 17, 1939 as seen on the left.

On September 30, 1939 he called the first televised football game. It was a college game between the Fordham Rams and the Waynesburg Yellow Jackets played at Triborough Stadium on New York City’s Randall’s Island. Fordham won the game 34–7 and a photo from that game is on the right.

NBC hired Stern in 1937 to host ‘The Colgate Sports Newsreel’ as well as Friday night boxing on radio. Stern was also one of the first televised boxing commentators. Many say that Paul Harvey copied Stern’s style and his stories about the famous and odd, which Harvey called “The Rest Of The Story”. Although Stern made no effort to authenticate his stories, in later years, he did however introduce that segment of his show by saying that they “might be actual, may be mythical, but definitely interesting.”

Thanks to Jodie Peeler for the wonderful and rare color photo… more of those soon!



Source

A Brief History Of Portable Color Cameras…Follow Up

A Brief History Of Portable Color Cameras…Follow Up

Earlier in the week I had posted a story on the first color portable cameras. I meant to include the Norelco PCP 70, but forgot, so I’m adding it now.

It was in October of 1967 when Norelco announced it’s first color mini camera, the PCP 70, at National Association of Educational Broadcasters convention. The camera head, with zoom lens weighed in at 23 pounds. The backpack was an additional 22 pounds. The list price was $41,450.

Source

Scroll Up