November 4, 1980…ABC Readies For Election Night, Behind The Scenes
This WABC news clip from November 4, 1980 takes us behind the scenes at ABC’s TV 2 studio in New York as network coverage of the Carter, Reagan, Anderson presidential election nears.
As you may have read in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times article posted here, it was 40 years ago that NBC became the first to use the colorized maps in the 1976 election, and this was the first year ABC and CBS used them, but all were not on the same “color page”. It would take another 16 years for eveyone to agree on Blue for Democrats, and Red for Republicans. Voted yet? -Bobby Ellerbee
HBO’s “Vice” News…Shout Out To Eyes Of A Generation
On Wednesday night, this shot of this Facebook page showed up on the HBO nightly news program “Vice”, in a story on the difference between FB desktop and mobile users. This was shot over two weeks ago, since I have changed the headline photo to a color image since, but all the same, thanks to the “Vice” producers, and the man who brought the show to HBO, Bill Maher. Thanks to our friend Jeff Jaffares for sending the clip he captured on his phone. -Bobby Ellerbee[fb_vid id=”1126605254043689″]
Television’s 1st Prime Time Season; 1948…With My Detailed Notes
This is just amazing…what you will see here are some of the first shows to run in the first real TV season, with all four networks in operation…NBC, CBS, ABC and Dumont. Back then, “networks” with live feeds, were basicly a handful of stations in the northeast, with outlying affiliates able to take shows via kinescope, which is how these clips survived. Oh, and the only network programming was from 7 – 10 PM.
Live network coverage was about to expand though, as an NBC VO announces at the start of this, that the midwest network links will be open and operating by Christmas, 1948.
“The Gay Nineties” show was on ABC on Wednesday nights from 8 – 8:30.
At 1:50 we see some of an early “Texaco Star Theater” with Milton Berle from NBC’s newly converted Studio 6B. This was the first show to come from 6B after it was converted from radio to television June 8, 1948. The woman with the great laugh is Milton’s mother who was at every show.
Just after that is “The Ed Wynn Show” which NBC did as a remote from The New Amsterdam, before it was converted in 1951.
At 3:32, “The Admiral Broadway Revue” was the first television show produced by Max Leibman, and starred Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca…this is the forerunner of “Your Show Of Shows”, and both were done at The International Theater at 5 Columbus Circle.
More rare footage starts at 4:44 with the intro of “The Fireball Fun For All” starring Olsen and Johnson. This ran one season, and was one of the first shows to come from CBS Studio 52. The assistant director is the legendary CBS director Ralph Levy in his second ever TV job. Levy went on to direct Jack Benny, Burns And Allen and the Lucy pilot. Levy’s first AD job was on the first show done at Studio 52, a summer show called “The 54th Street Revue” that ran eight weeks.
There’s more history at 6:10…”The Chesterfield Supper Club” starring Perry Como, was the first television show to broadcast from NBC Studio 6A. The studio was not converted officially till May 19, 1950. When this was shot, 6A was still a radio studio with a three camera remote unit and very few lights, which you notice here.
More history at 6:50! This is “The Fred Waring Show” from CBS Studio 41 at Grand Central, and this aired on Sunday night, just after “Toast Of The Town” with Ed Sullivan, which then came from Studio 51, The Maxine Elliott Theater.
Remember the opening announcement about the midwest network link up? “Your Show Time” had premiered on NBC’s East Coast stations in September 1948, and began to include NBC’s Midwest stations on January 21.
“Armchair Detective” was a Dumont show done at WABD.
At 9:06 notice the producer title…William Boyd. Boyd was Hopalong Cassidy, and a very smart showman! This show was an hour long and aired on NBC Friday nights at 8, starting in 1949.
“The Lone Ranger” debuted on ABC in September of 1949 and aired at 7:30 Wednesday nights.
Remember the Hungry Jack Biscuit commercials with the “Hungry…Hungry Jack” call? Here’s where it came from…the opening of “The Aldrich Family” at 10:23. This was on NBC at 7:30 Sundays.
At 10:55, one of television’s biggest shows appears…”The Goldbergs”, which was on CBS, and came from Studio 42 at Grand Central. This started in 1949, and aired Monday nights at 9:30.
Just after that is another huge CBS show, “Mama” which also started in 1949 and aired Friday nights at 8, against “Hopalong Cassidy” on NBC.
“The Ruggles” began on ABC, November 3, 1949 – a month after the radio hit “The Life of Riley” had moved to television on NBC, and interestingly, that is the next clip…but if you were expecting William Bendix as Riley, surprise…Riley is played by Jackie Gleason! This was his first starring role.
At 13:10 we see the open for “Suspense” which aired on CBS from ’49 till ’54. It was on Tuesday night opposite “The Life Of Riley”.
Finally, the last clip is from “Studio 1”. It was a big hit, and an important early anthology series on CBS, which debuted in September of 1948, and ran 10 seasons ending in 1958. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
November 2, 1959…The Game Show Scandal Breaks Wide Open
It was on this day in 1959 that Charles Van Doren admitted before a congressional committee that he had indeed received the answers to the questions on “Twenty One”.
At this link, is the actual footage of Herb Stempel purposely loosing to Charles Van Doren by missing the “Marty’ Question. For all of us that have seen the movie “Quiz Show”, you must admit that the movie was very accurate in it’s portrayal of this whole story.
One of the key players in the “Twenty One” story, was producer Dan Enright. At this link is a very interesting and detailed article on Enright’s part, his rise and fall, and his eventual return to television with the shows “Jokers Wild” and “Tic, Tac, Dough”.
Actually, “Dotto” with host Jack Narz was the first show to be found rigged, and went off the air in August 1958. Narz was cleared of any wrong doing, but game shows were not, and over a three month period, all were canceled on every network, including “Twenty One”, which last aired October 16, 1958. -Bobby Ellerbee
You Won’t Believe Your Eyes! How To Make Miniature TV Studio
A few years back, our friend Jim Wickey made a beautiful, perfectly detailed studio for a real TV show. The RCA TK11 scale models are stunningly realistic, but are made of cardboard. Here are some shots of the finished product, and…his how to instructions. Enjoy! -Bobby Ellerbee
October 31, 1953 & 1965…Two Color Television Firsts!
On October 31, 1953, NBC broadcast the first one hour color program to the full network. The production was a truncated version of the opera, “Carmen”. It was done from NBC/RCA’s only color facility, The Colonial Theater in New York.
At the time, the only color transmitter was an experimental model at WNBT in New York, but the goal was not measure how many people saw it in color…the goal was to measure how well the millions of monochrome sets received the “color compatible” signal.
The cameras used were the four RCA TK40 prototypes. The one hour presentation also included an audio trick or two. In passages where the vocal performance was critical, but extreme movement in dance numbers was too, look-alike actors were subtly inserted on stage to dance and lip synch while the principal operatic stars sang off stage. The principals would quietly return to stage and sing in more static shots.
On October 31, 1965, “The Ed Sullivan Show” debuted in color from its home at CBS Studio 50, with at least four new Norelco PC60s. On a few occasions before this, the show had been colorcast, but those were done from Television City, when the show was visiting the west coast.
18 months later, Studio 50 was re-equipped with Marconi Mark VII color cameras. Hallow Happyween! -Bobby Ellerbee
October 30, 1931…NBC Begins Work On Empire State Tower
On this day in 1931, NBC began putting a TV transmitter and antenna on top of the Empire State Building. The first experimental TV broadcast from the building was on December 22, 1931.
As you can see in these photos, which were all taken before 1935, there was no tall mast on the building at the time…just kind of a rounded dome. The RCA tower was built on top of that.
RCA’s first experimental television transmissions began in 1928 on station W2XBS located near the Van Cortlandt Park area in the Bronx. Within a year it was moved to the New Amsterdam Theater Building, transmitting 60 line pictures in the new 2-3 mHz band allocated to television.
A 13 inch Felix the Cat figure made of paper mache was placed on a record player turntable and was broadcast using a mechanical scanning disk to a scanning disk receiver. The image received was only 2 inches tall, and the broadcasts lasted about 2 hours per day. By 1930 the station became part of NBC and began to transmit from NBC’s new home at 711 5th Avenue.
The Empire State Building was completed in May of 1931, and RCA leased the 85th floor for a studio and transmitter location for experimental television broadcasts. RCA, through its broadcasting division NBC, applied to the Federal Radio Commission on July 1, 1931 for construction permits for the sight and sound channels of a television station, which were issued on July 24, 1931.
The call sign W2XF was issued in December 1931 for the “sight” channel of that station on an assigned frequency of 44Mc. The RCA transmitter had an input power to the final stage of about 5Kw, giving an estimated power output to the antenna of about 2Kw.
The sound channel of the TV station was separately licensed as W2XK for a 2.5Kw transmitter to operate on 61Mc. Both transmitters were located on the 85th floor and used separate vertical dipole antennas.
In 1936, the tall tower like structure was added as a mooring mast for blimps. The winds proved to be too strong and there were several near accidents in mooring tests, but it did make for a great new antenna mount. -Bobby Ellerbee
EOAG Exclusive Photos…’The Doctors’, NBC Studio 3B
Thanks to Bob Batsche, and Glenn Mack, we have these these rare color photos that they took on the set in 3B, and thanks to Chuck Snitchler, we have a shot of the slate from the first color episode which would air December 4, 1967, but was taped almost a month before.
On April 1, 1963, ‘The Doctors’ replaced Merv Griffin’s first daytime talk show in the 2:30 time slot, where it remained for nearly sixteen years. This is an extraordinary feat considering the competition, which included long-running favorites such as ‘House Party with Art Linkletter’ on CBS and ABC’s ‘Dating Game’. On occasion, it was also up against one of the longest-running soap operas in television history,’The Guiding Light’ on CBS.
In a move the proved fatal, NBC moved ‘The Doctors’ to 12 noon eastern on March 29, 1982. The show aired its final episode on December 31, 1982, some three months before it would have celebrated its 20th anniversary on NBC.
Frankly, I am stunned that NBC, or any network, would offer any programing at noon on a weekday in the 80s, as there was always a half hour of local news at noon. I have seen a mid 70s CBS daytime schedule that leaves open the 12 – 12:30 block for local programing. I wonder why NBC didn’t do that? Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
The video included here is the first segment of the debut broadcast 62 years ago today. It also marks the very first cooperation between the Hollywood film studios and television, which is a monumental occasion. Warner would be the next to produce program content for ABC, but it would be 1956 before that came to pass with shows like “Maverick”.
Although NBC and CBS had stated their desire to have more access to films and cooperation from Hollywood, they both passed when Disney came to them for their help building Disneyland.
When this debuted, the Disneyland theme park was not open. The land was bought and some construction on Main Street had been done, but Walt Disney was running short of money and that was the reason he was looking for a television partner.
In 1953, lead by Leonard Goldenson, United Paramount Theaters merged with ABC, and gave the nearly bankrupt network at $25 million dollar infusion. Goldenson had the foresight to partner with Disney on the theme park. The park opened July 17, 1955 and was broadcast live on ABC.
Shortly after the debut of the ‘Disneyland’ television show, which was hosted by Disney each week, ‘Davy Crockett’ came to ABC. At first, these were three one hour, fully contained episodes that ran monthly, but were so successful, that they went into production as half hour weekly episodes.
On October 3, 1955, ‘The Mickey Mouse Club’ debuted on ABC and was a weekday smash. ABC got their money’s worth…so did Walt, but money was what eventually caused Disney to move to NBC.
ABC wanted two more minutes of commercials in all the Disney product and Walt didn’t…that, and their reluctance to sell their share of the theme park back to Disney caused the split.
Even though ABC had no color ability till the mid 60s, Disney had filmed all of his shows in color, including the one we see here. This was a huge advantage when he moved to NBC in 1961, with ‘Walt Disney’s Wonderful World Of Color’. All of the ABC episodes were replayed there with some freshening inserts.
In thisdebut video, we’ll also see a very young Kirk Douglas working on ‘20,000 Leagues Under The Sea’ and some other interesting sights around The Walt Disney Studios. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
From February 16, 1949 until October 25, 1956, John Cameron Swayze hosted the 15 minute, week night NBC network news broadcast. The show was done from Studio C in the NBC Uptown Studios building on 106th Street, near Park Avenue.
In this photo from 1949, notice a few things. First, the exaggerated angles the cameras used to shoot him, early on. Second, notice the work-around pan heads on the pedestal cameras.
These are first generation pedestals, made for the RCA Iconoscope cameras that fed the camera cable inside the center column. The pan head for those Iconoscope cameras was not suitable for the much heavier RCA TK30s we see here, and the new friction heads and Mitchel style high hat mounts were not the same size as the column. That meant they had to weld a flat piece to the top to the column and attach these three leg mounts, until the new Houston Fearless TD 1 pedestals were put into Studio C.
This was the first NBC news program to use NBC filmed news stories rather than movie newsreels, which is why the NBC Television News Department was also located at the Uptown Studios. In December of 1948, NBC bought the 11 story studio building from Pathe, who had two huge film processing labs just next door. This was done with an eye toward using Pathe as a distribution partner in getting the NBC Kinescopes processed and shipped.
This live anchor news show, that aired at 7:45 weeknights, grew out of a show that started the year before. Launched on February 16, 1948, by NBC, “Camel Newsreel Theater” was a 10-minute program that featured Fox Movietone News newsreels, with John Cameron Swayze providing off camera voice-over for the series.
The following Monday evening, October 29, 1956, “The Camel News Caravan” was replaced by “The Huntley-Brinkley Report”. President Dwight D. Eisenhower had word passed to NBC’s White House correspondent that the president was displeased by the switch. Ike later grew to like Chet and David. -Bobby Ellerbee
Computers And Automation vs Manpower And Innovation
This shot from Houston’s KPRC is a great example of how news graphics were done in the 50s and 60s. Some stations had a nice drum like this, but others had easels, or old music stands. The images were faxed in daily from either AP or UPI. The camera is a GE PC 12, but there is more here than meets the eye.
For the younger generation of broadcasters, this must look like a scene from another world. And, it was another world. Radio and TV stations were owned by individuals that lived in the cities they served, and owners were making money, but profits were not always the holy grail…talented people and skilled staffs were. Those people and their innovations in ideas differentiated stations in a way that has gone the way of this graphics drum, in our cookie cutter media world. -Bobby Ellerbee
The Original Beauty Of The Ed Sullivan Theater…Rare Images From 1927
More of the history of the venue is in the original article below. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
Rare Ed Sullivan Theater Photos…1927
I love it that these rare photos are now pouring in! Take a look!
This is the theater as is looked when it was built. It opened in 1927 as The Hammerstein Theater and was designed by architect Herbert Krapp who designed about a dozen of NYC’s most famous theaters. Due to the depression, the theater closed in 1931.
It was taken over by Broadway Billy Rose and became a night club with all the theater seating removed and replaced by tables. In 1936, CBS took a long term lease on the building and converted it to CBS Radio Theater 3 (one of five in NYC). The first radio show from here was “The Major Bowes Amateur Hour”.
In early 1950, the theater was converted to television and became CBS Studio 50. The first broadcast was “Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts” show. Godfrey’s talent show had been on CBS radio for over a year and originated here before the TV conversion. Thanks to Simon Crawshaw and Nick Van Hoogstratten for the rare photos. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
October 24, 1934…”Santa Clause Is Coming To Town”, Recorded
Until broadcast radio and talking pictures came along, there hadn’t really been any “popular” or secular Christmas songs…most were still traditional, religious carols.
The first recorded version of the song was by banjoist Harry Reser and his band, and was done on October 24, 1934 featuring Tom Stacks on vocals. In 1925, Reser found fame as the director for NBC’s Clicquot Club Eskimo Orchestra, continuing with that weekly half-hour until 1935. At the same time, he also led other bands, including Harry Reser and His Six Jumping Jacks, with vocals by Tom Stacks. They were the zany forerunners to comedy bands like Spike Jones and tune was right up Harry’s alley.
“Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”, was first heard live on Eddie Cantor’s NBC radio show in November 1934. It was said that Cantor agreed to introduce this new song (by songwriters J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie), because other well-known artists of the time had rejected as being “silly” and “childish.” Cantor liked it, and after the broadcast, the song had overnight orders for 100,000 copies of sheet music, and had sold 400,000 copies by Christmas of that year.
Here it the original version! Enjoy, and let me be the first to wish you a Merry Christmas! -Bobby Ellerbee
October 24, 1980…Letterman Daytime Show Finale & Studio Tour
Classic, Classy Letterman! Last day of his NBC morning show.
Although it only ran from June 23, until October 24, 1980, a lot of what would come later, in the late night years started here, including Stupid Pet Tricks.
From NBC Studio 6A, here is the last 15 minutes of the show, but the first 6 are spent touring the studio and meeting producer Barry Sand, announcer Bill Wendell, director Hal Gurnee, and more, and at the end, a full credit roll with names that are still familiar, like John Pinto, Bill Bonner and Jack Young. The cameras are RCA TK44s.
By the way, near the end, watch for the showgirls in the huge peacock head dresses….if you remember, those were used at the start of the “Late Night With David Letterman” debut show.
October 23, 1956…Videotape Debut Network TV: Setting The Record Straight
Most people think the November 30, 1956 time delayed broadcast of “CBS News With Douglas Edwards” was the first use of videotape on network television. That is not correct, but it was the first use of tape as a time-shifter, in that the east coast broadcast was videotaped at Television City for rebroadcast two hours later to the mountain and west coast time zones.
As for the first known network use of videotape, that happened 60 years ago today at NBC. At the time, “The Jonathan Winters Show” was 4 weeks old. The 15 minute variety show ran from 7:30-7:45 Tuesday nights, just before “The Camel News Caravan” with John Cameron Swayze, replacing one of the two weekly Diana Shore shows that had for years, aired in that slot on Tuesday and Thursday nights.
On October 23, 1956, the NBC engineers in New York wanted to see if the viewing public could tell the difference between a videotape and the live portion of the show. Jonathan’s musical guest that night was Dorothy Collins, of “Your Hit Parade” fame. She had a new record out called “The Italian Theme” and her performance, with dancers and backup singers, was recorded earlier in the day. During the live show, Winters introduced her, as if she was there, and the tape rolled seamlessly. In case there was a problem, NBC had extra operators on duty that night in New York, and to their great relief and amazement, no one called or noticed. With that quiet event, videotape had passed the final acceptance test.
Remember, this is only six months after Ampex introduced videotape at the 1956 NAB in April. In the book “A Companion To American Technology”, Carroll Pursell reports that a month later, in November of ’56, Winters used videotape to play two characters in the same sketch. Unfortunately, there is no kinescope or tape of this historic event either, and about all that’s available from Jonathan’s 1956 show is this :30 second intro. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
October 22, 1939…The First Ever Pro Football Telecast
77 years ago today, the relationship between professional football and television began when NBC earned a spot in history by televising a pro football game. Only 22 days before, NBC had televised the first ever college game on September 30th.
A crowd of 13,050 were on hand at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field on that now-historic day when the Philadelphia Eagles fell to Brooklyn’s Dodgers 23-14. Yes, there was a Brooklyn Dodgers football team, from 1930 to 1943.
Five hundred-or-so fortunate New Yorkers who owned television sets witnessed the game in the comfort of their own homes, over NBC’s experimental station W2XBS. Many others saw the telecast on monitors while visiting the RCA Pavilion at the World’s Fair in New York where it was scheduled as a special event.
According to Allen “Skip” Walz, the NBC play-by-play announcer (pictured below), only eight people were needed for the telecast. Walz had none of the visual aids…monitors, screens or spotters used today, and there were just two cameras. One was located in the box seats on the 40-yard line and the other was in the stadium’s mezzanine section.
“I’d sit with my chin on the rail in the mezzanine, and the camera was over my shoulder,” remembered Walz. “I did my own spotting, and when the play moved up and down the field, on punts or kickoffs, I’d point to tell the cameraman what I’d be talking about.”
The television log records of that day say that the game began at 2:30 p.m. and ran for exactly two hours, thirty-three minutes. By comparison today’s games run almost three full hours. Of course there were no commercial interruptions during the 1939 game. There were, however, interruptions of another sort.
“It was a cloudy day, when the sun crept behind the stadium there wasn’t always enough light for the cameras,” according to Walz. “The picture would get darker and darker, and eventually it would go completely blank, and I would begin to call the game in the style I used for radio broadcasts.” Enjoy and Share! -Bobby Ellerbee
October 22, 1962…In The Oval Office For The Cuban Missile Crisis
As Told By The Guy In The Red Circle, A MUST READ STORY!
Barry Ostrow was front and center for the Cuban Missile Crisis Speech! This is the fascinating story of that fateful day…October 22, 1962. Just out of college, he was a brand new hire at WTOP and has a great story to tell! Enjoy and share. -Bobby Ellerbee
STATE OF THE ART: The Studio Cameras…A Primer On Innovations
The best way to illustrate the current configurations of camera platforms is with this set of images from Conan O’Brien’s “Tonight” show, taken for us by Bruce Oldham, who was Camera 3 with Conan for many years. Below is a typical setup…a Canon DigiSuper studio lens and a Sony HDC 1500 camera, and some interesting mounting as we will explore in detail. Now is the time to look closely if you have never seen this kind of arrangement.
Above is what is now called a “studio buildup kit.” Below is a Sony HDC 1000, and it’s called a “hard body” camera. This is the configuration most of us are familiar with, as this is was the traditional design since there was such a thing as television.
The first departure from the norm came from RCA when they introduced the TK760, which in essence was a ‘hard body’ chassis with an RCA TK76 ENG (Electronic News Gathering) camera inside. The TK76, was their first shoulder mounted color portable, but with in the 760 configuration, the 76 gained a full size box lens and full size viewfinder.
Above, the RCA TK760 with and TK76 inside…below, the RCA TK76. Both cameras have a 1976 vintage.
If you haven’t quite caught on yet, this should do the trick. Do you notice the difference in the light and dark parts of the camera? Well, that’s because these are two unique elements. Below, you can see the sled’s back opened up to reveal a small ENG/EFP-size camera inside. In this case, the camera is a Sony HDC 1500.
Okay, here’s what is going on. Above is the Sony HDC 1500 (Hi-Definition Camera) and below is the Sony HDLA 1505. (HDLA means “Hi Definition Lens Adapter.”)
Ikegami has a slightly different version of its build-up kit, called a System Expander. Above is the Ikegami SE S500 in the studio. Below is yours truly behind an Ikegami HDK 79EX III with the SE S500 field configuration. Chuck Pharis took the picture at the University Of Georgia’s Sanford Stadium while I was visiting him at work the day before game day. Below that is the Ikegami HDK 790 EX III hard body camera.
Thomson did something like this in the 1990s and called it a “sled.” One each side, you can see their sled that started as an easy new way to move their big cameras without taking them apart, like the LDK 9. A few years later, Thomson had a better idea, and mounted an ENG camera in the sled as you can see on the right. The arrangement sidesteps the need for ‘hard body’ cameras and allows the small camera to be quickly and easily removed from the large lens adapter for maintenance and repair, or for use in the field or studio as a hand-held with quick addition of a smaller EFP-style lens. Call me old-fashioned, but I still like hard bodies.
Before we go further, let’s talk about ENG and EFP. ENG stands for “Electronic News Gathering” cameras.The term started with the RCA TK76 that debuted in 1976. EFP, which stands for “Electronic Field Production” cameras, is a new manufacturers designation for the same small cameras most of us still refer to as ENGs. I may be wrong, but I think the difference is mostly in the usage. ENG cameras are usually sound-equipped and are used in “stand alone” point-and-shoot, news-gathering situations. EFP cameras have no audio capabilities, are usually used in pairs or threes, and require setup time, cables and switchers.
Above and below are more interesting new technical developments. Above, we see a camera using the standard EFP-style camera lens instead of the large Canon box lens. Below is a great side-by-side comparison shot.
As mentioned above, the camera itself can be used in the studio with the large or small lens configurations. The small lens allows for quick use of the camera as a hand-held medium. In the-hand held mode, the camera’s eye piece viewfinder must be used. When mounted, one of several kinds of large viewfinders can be used with the Sony Large Viewfinder Adapter. This can be seen in the two images below. Upper image is the Sony HDLA1507US catalog image; the real thing is seen just below.
Closer looks at the EFP large viewfinder adapter’s use are above and below. With Sony, when the camera is seated in either the viewfinder adapter or larger lens adapter, the power and controls of the camera are partially transferred to the control panel on the back of the sled, as seen in the image below.
We’ll close with a couple of camera shots that show Bruce’s camera 3 (above) and the main interview set. Below, a full large lens adapter kit was in use next to Andy’s podium; to the right, the smaller EFP camera is naked. It’s just mounted on a light weight ped and ready to go hand-held instantly. Bruce’s camera was one of the three large lens cameras mounted on the new Vinten Quattro peds, and was equipped with a Canon 72X DigiSuper lens. It did guest close-ups at home base and other zones. The other two large lens cameras had Canon 27X DigiSuper lenses and were cameras 1 and 2. All together, there were nine cameras with eight operators in the studio. Cameras 4 and 6 were the combo hand-held and ped-mounted. Camera 5 was the jib, and 7 and 8 were robo-cams with one operator. There were also 2 Iconix lockoff lipstick cameras for audience shots.
How Colbert Does “Live” Interviews With Cartoon Hillary & Donald
New technologies to create live animations are gaining attention this year with the use of Adobe’s Character Animator. The new program can shorten the time to create animations from weeks to hours, by allowing animation puppets to immediately mimic the movements of someone’s lips, shoulders and eyes using a face-tracking camera. Here is the story. -Bobby Ellerbee
October 21, 1954…James Bond Moves From Page To TV Screens
On this day in 1954, Barry Nelson became the first actor to play James Bond. Before this, 007 had only been a literary character in the novels written by Ian Fleming.
The event was a one hour, live presentation of “Casino Royale” on “Climax”; a Sunday night CBS drama showcase that ran from ’54 till ’58. Fleming was paid $1,000 to adapt the novel to a screenplay for the CBS production.
It would be six more years before Bond came to the big screen with “Dr. No” in 1962.
Interestingly, the run time for the TV play is 00:51:45 leaving only 8 minutes for commercials. How refreshing! -Bobby Ellerbee
The Historic Hudson Theater…Newly Renovated & Broadway Ready
Look what they found in the basement!
In 1995, the theater was bought by the Millennium Broadway Hotel and used it as a conference center, but last year it was sold to the London based Ambassador Theater Group. Since then, the theater has undergone more major renovation, and will soon become a Broadway theater again, just as it began in 1903, but here is some of The Hudson’s TV history.
The Hudson Theater became NBC’s newest New York studio on September 25, 1950 with the debut of “The Kate Smith Show.” Her daytime show was on at 4PM weekdays from ’50 till ’54. From September of ’51 till June of ’52, she also hosted the “Kate Smith Evening Hour” at 8PM Wednesday nights from the Hudson.
On Sept 27, 1954, “Tonight” with Steve Allen debuted from The Hudson and stayed there until December of 1959. Jack Paar had taken over in June of ’57 after the strain of hosting “‘Tonight” and, the Sunday night “Steve Allen Show” became too much for Steverino. Both Allen shows were done at The Hudson.
With the January 1960 debut of “Tonight” from Studio 6B, NBC’s lease on the Hudson was up and the theater went back to legitimate theater after having spent the ‘30s and ‘40s as a CBS Radio theater and the ‘50s as an NBC Television studio.
As for the door, at one point in the 1950’s, ”Tex and Jinx,” were known in virtually every American household. They had two radio programs, a five-day-a-week television show and a syndicated column in The New York Herald Tribune. They were among the first to refine the format that came to be called the talk show.
The beautiful Jinx Falkenburg was one of America’s highest paid cover-girl models during World War II, and later, with her husband, Tex McCrary, a pioneer talk-show star on both radio and television they became a national fixture. This is where Barbara Walters began her broadcasting carrier.
There is more on Tex and Jinx at this link in a remembrance of the two by William Safire. They died a month apart in 2003. Break a leg Hudson! -Bobby Ellerbee
“SNL” Production Designer Eugene Lee…There Since Day 1
As sure as “Saturday Night Live” is television’s most unique production, Eugene Lee is television’s most experienced designer. No one has imagined more sets and scenery than this man, who at 77, is still going strong. Here is part of his amazing story. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
Approached by a Canadian television producer for a variety sketch series back in the early 1970s, production designer Eugene Lee couldn’t have realized then that he’d stumbled on the job of a lifet…
October 19, 1951…The CBS Color System Comes To An End
The CBS field sequential color cameras broadcast 111 hours of live color over a 17 week period between June 24, 1951 and October 20, 1951.
On October 19, less than a month after sales of the first CBS made color receivers began, Charles E. Wilson of the Defense Production Administration asked CBS to suspend mass production of color receivers “to conserve material for defense” for the duration of the Korean emergency.
CBS announces (almost too quickly) that it agrees and will also drop color broadcasts; color receivers are recalled and destroyed. Strangely, monochrome receiver production is not affected, and the only “end item” product ever prohibited by the Defense Production Administration was color television sets. The ban lasted until early 1953 and applied to RCA as well.
According to Allan B. DuMont, this was, “a move to take Columbia and it’s color system off the hook.”
The next day, October 20, 1951, the last commercial CBS color system broadcast came with the North Carolina – Maryland Football Game. Eleven stations, as far West as Chicago, had carried the CBS color system broadcasts.
On December 6,1951 the first transcontinental color broadcast was done via closed circuit as USC doctors preformed surgery with new Smith, French & Kline instruments. It was viewed by surgeons in New York. After that, the CBS color system became the Industrial Color System and was manufactured in limited numbers by Dumont and CBS Labs. -Bobby Ellerbee
October 1955…Sid Caesar, With One Of Live TV’s Most Famous “Saves”
61 years ago this month, Sid Caesar made television history on “Caesar’s Hour” with this improvised bit of comic genius, which has become one of the most famous “saves” in the history of live television.
During this 13 minute sketch of “Gallipacci” (a take off on the famous opera Pagliacci), Sid was supposed to paint a teardrop on his cheek, but then, the mascara pencil broke (at 8:30 in) at the beginning of his nonsense rendition of “Just One of Those Things”.
Not breaking his stride, Sid proceeds to pick up one of Nanette’s lip brushes and paints an unscripted tic-tac-toe board on his face. This aired October 10, 1955, live from The Century Theater.
‘Cirque du Soleil’ has credited Sid Caesar as the origin of the made up gibberish the show’s performers use as a way to make any nationality at home with the narration and performance of their presentations.
Caesar was the master of this, and as you’ll see, Nanette Fabray (who took over for Coca), Carl Reiner and Howard Morris have studied hard at their masters knee. This is cued to start a minute before the “save”, but I think you’ll enjoy watching the whole thing from the start, as the made up lyrics are sung to the comically paired with melodies we all know. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
https://youtu.be/5OW7GoIl0T8?t=7m29s[From “Kovacs Corner” on YouTube.com] – First telecast on “Caesar’s Hour” on October 10, 1955 over NBC, this kinescoped sketch is a take-off on the Italian o…
October 18, 1964…Hallmark Brings “The Fantasticks” To Television
At the link above is a kinescope of the famous Broadway play, that was the October 18, 1964 presentation of “The Hallmark Hall Of Fame”. Below, the photo shows John Davidson speaking to his father, who is played by Bert Lahr.
This was done live to tape at NBC Brooklyn, but only the kinescope work copy remains. The way tape was edited at the networks then, required a kinescope copy of the raw footage, which was then edited as a master of how to manually edit the tape. The odd look was common in kinescopes of color productions, which black and white film didn’t handle well.
‘The Hallmark Hall of Fame’ debuted on Christmas Eve 1951, with the world premiere of “Amahl and the Night Visitors” on NBC TV. Until 1955, the production schedule was near frantic with an average of 40 new presentations a year. In 1954, the show began color broadcasts and in 1956, it went to a bi monthly format with six or seven shows a year.
The Hallmark anthology series was one of the highest rated and most awarded in television history. For nearly three decades the series was broadcast by NBC, but the network cancelled it in late 1978 due to declining ratings. Since then, the series has been televised occasionally by CBS from 1979 to 1989, then on ABC from 1989 to 1995, then CBS again from 1995 until 2011, when that network cancelled the series due to low ratings. As of 2014, the series has earned 80 Emmys, 9 Golden Globes, 11 Peabody Awards and many others. -Bobby Ellerbee
October 18, 1952…RCA’s First Experimental Color Football Broadcast
Below is a rare look at RCA/NBC’s first color remote unit, used for this color-cast. Although it was seen by 99.9% of the audience in black and white, it did at least prove the “compatible color” claim RCA made for its Dot Sequential color system. The year before, CBS had broadcast a football game in color, using their Field Sequential system, but there were no receivers available, except the few CBS had built for their experimental tests. Enjoy and share this exclusive peek at the first color mobile unit. -Bobby Ellerbee
EXCLUSIVE…Inside The First Color Television Remote Unit
Thanks to Chuck Pharis, and his very rare RCA “Red Book”, I have new information and images to share with you, that include not only the first color remote unit, but also, new details on the Washington, Studio 3H and Colonial Theater color trials. I will set the stage with some background on color history, and with some new dates which have been confirmed by RCA information.
Remember, Washington was where the first phase of color experiments were done, with two first generation cameras at Wardman Park studios. Both of those cameras were retired and sent back to RCA in Camden in December of 1950.
The second phase of color testing was done in New York in NBC’s Studio 3H. In January of 1951, work began on the color installation there, and was completed by March. Three experimental cameras were installed in 3H and are called the “coffin cameras” due to their size and black color.
The third phase of color testing began at The Colonial Theater in New York. RCA/NBC leased the theater and began installation in late September of 1952 and the first transmission from here was March 19, 1953. There were four prototype models of the RCA TK40 in operation there, that underwent a full year of tests before RCA began production on the TK40 in Camden.
I felt it would help to refresh your memory, as we now know that this mobile unit was used in both the 3H and Colonial field test. As I mentioned in Thursday’s (8/4) post on this unit, this is one of the original NBC Telemobile units built in 1937.
The first use of the color mobile unit was in September of 1951 with a five day remote test from The Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, NY. Support equipment was permanently installed in the unit, but a “coffin camera” was borrowed from Studio 3H, which for a week, sent pictures three times a day. The morning test was shown in black and white on WNBT, to see how the images looked on the monochrome sets. The two afternoon tests were closed circuit color test seen on color sets at The Center Theater, The RCA Exhibition Hall across from 30 Rock, Studio 3H and in Princeton at the RCA Labs.
In 1952, there were over 30 remote tests, including two from Palisades Park NJ, but the big one was on October 18, when two of the coffin cameras were used to telecast, in color, the Columbia-Pennsylvania football game from Baker Field. One of the cameras was equipped with the new RCA Electa Zoom lens, while the other used the a normal field array of lenses on the turret.
Although there were very few color sets, RCA’s main objective with the experimental color broadcasts was to satisfy the FCC, with the fact that their Dot Sequential system was truly “Compatible”- in that it could deliver the same quality image to black and white TV sets, that monochrome broadcasts offered. Via newspaper ads, local viewers was asked to write to NBC with their comments on reception and picture quality of the color segments.
When color operations moved to the Colonial Theater, the new TK40 prototype cameras were delivered, which had very different control equipment. So, the mobile unit had to have a complete refitting, but when remotes were done, cameras were borrowed from The Colonial for a few days at a time. For more, click on the pix. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee