Posts in Category: Broadcast History

Law & Order: A Quick Look Behind The Scenes

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Law & Order: A Quick Look Behind The Scenes

Nice look at some of the sets and locations and a look back at the cast members that have played the principal rolls.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gQYHYP_m-g

Take a quick behind the scenes look at NBC’s Law & Order, which is celebrating its 20th season. The show’s new night and time is Friday at 8:00 PM ET/ 7C on …
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Grenoble Winter Olympics: 1968…

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Grenoble Winter Olympics: 1968…One Of The Few Bright Spots

1968 was a hard year in America. Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated. Riots were everywhere after the King killing, there were riots over the war in Vietnam and riots in Chicago at the Democratic Convention. Bras and draft cards were burned, but, the Olympic flames in Grenoble warmed us a bit with the success of Peggy Fleming and the US hockey win over Russia. The year ended on an up-note with 3 American’s circling the moon.


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First Grammy Telecast: 1971 on ABC

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First Grammy Telecast: 1971 on ABC

Although the Grammy Awards began in 1958, it took an unbelievable 13 years for the show to come to television. ABC broadcast the first two, but since, CBS has had the show. Andy Williams was the host and presenters even included John Wayne. Below, the Fifth Dimension awards Record Of The Year.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Moq6CoCYEUY

The 5th Dimension present the Award for Record Of The Year 1970 for ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’.
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Grammy Prep 101

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Grammy Prep 101

With the 55th Grammy Awards Show tonight, I wanted to know about the ear pieces the musicians wear and I’ll tell you what I found out below. Also, here’s a clip at the technical rehearsal with LL Cool J, tonight’s host.
http://www.hlntv.com/video/2013/02/08/ll-cool-js-behind-scenes-grammys

The ‘IEM’ is the In Ear Monitor that the musicians use these days that basically takes the place of the stage mix monitors. It’s a lot like the IFB (Interruptible Feedback) units used in TV, but is much more acoustically advanced and offers up to 37db of protection from the overall volume of the performance. There are UHF and VHF systems, but the UHF is the preferred version. The ear pieces are stereo and wireless with the receiver on the belt or hidden under clothing. Each band member can get a different mix.


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Funny Stuff! ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ Outtakes

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Funny Stuff! ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ Outtakes

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

Everybody Loves Raymond Bloopers – Season 3
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The Cussin’ Cowboys From The Ponderosa! “Bonanza” Bloopers

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The Cussin’ Cowboys From The Ponderosa!

First, this clip appears to freeze a few times, but let it play…it’s not your computer…just the way is was recorded. Second, the ‘good hard cussin’ is in the last half. Interesting to see Hoss without his hair piece. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0Yso9Vwh_A

Bloopers from the hit western Bonanza. Be warned there is some bad language.
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The First Major ‘Shrinkage’: 1977

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The First Major ‘Shrinkage’: 1977

The RCA TK760 was the fist ‘light weight’ color camera that could handle a box lens. In essence, it was a TK76 ENG camera modified to be used with a big viewfinder and lens. Some broadcasters used them in the studio while NBC chose to use them on their sports and remote trucks. In 78 and 79, NBC bought around 40 of these to replace the 35 Norelco’s on the trucks that were purchased around 1967. Thanks to David Crosthwait for this photo taken in 84 at Mile High Stadium in Denver. I wonder what ever happened to the 6 RCA TK41s that NBC stored at the stadium?


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The Kraft Television Theater: NBC, May 1947 – October 1958

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The Kraft Television Theater: NBC, May 1947 – October 1958

After the Kraft Television Theater ended, TV Guide did a tribute article about the series. The article stated that the series had aired more than 650 plays that were chosen from 18,845 scripts. The rehearsals for the 6,750 roles took 26,000 hours on 5,236 sets. The first play had cost $3,000 to produce and the last cost $165,000!

The Kraft Television Theater didn’t take summer breaks and aired pretty much twelve months out of the year for its entire run and was done live each week.

Incredibly, the show was so popular and so well funded by Kraft that it aired on both NBC and ABC (but on different nights) during the Fall 1953 and Fall 1954 seasons. Why? Kraft had a new product…Cheese Whiz and they wanted to sell more! It would be interesting to know if the ABC shows were kine copies of the NBC show that aired earlier in the week, or, ‘the best of’ some of the shows from past seasons.

Kraft continued to sponsor TV shows after the Kraft Television Theater ended but they switched from dramatic anthology series to musicals bu bringing the Music Hall from NBC radio to NBC TV in 1958. Milton Berle hosted during the 1958 season. Beginning with the fall 1959 season, Perry Como became the host, and continued until 1967 (as a monthly series from 1963 through ’67)

The photo below was taken during rehearsal for the December 16, 1953 broadcast of ‘To Live In Peace’, staring Anne Bankroft. This was telecast in compatible color the night before the FCC gave the official go ahead for commercial color broadcasts. The studio was the famous RCA/NBC color testing facility, The Colonial Theater. The camera is an RCA TK40.


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All Of The Beatles/Sullivan Videos + Rare Dress Rehearsal Footage! In order!

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All Of The Beatles/Sullivan Videos + Rare Dress Rehearsal Footage!

In order, here are the videos of each of the 3 consecutive weekly appearances of the Beatles on Ed Sullivan in February of 1964. There is also some very rare video here too! Enjoy!

This is show #1: Air date, February 9, 1964…performed live at CBS Studio 50 in New York City.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHuRusAlw-Y

This super rare clip is the dress rehearsal of the second show from Miami Beach. Recorded at 4PM, 2/16/64 with many audio mix problems and no mics at the start of the second set.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUMxtyWLyzg

This is show #2: Air date, February 16th, 1964, performed live at The Deauville Hotel in Miami Beach. Most of the afternoon audio problems fixed, but not all of them.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMA2pfY9Fpc

This is show #3: Air date, February 23, 1964, BUT, recorded at 4PM Sunday, February 9, 1964. Prior to the live debut of the Beatles, they had recorded these two sets, along with the opening and some adjoining parts of the show. As you can see in the video at 7:30, there was a problems switching back and forth between live and tape segments.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpgMdhOJPWE

Just for fun, here are the boys being…well…boys. Funny boys!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZXLE1rHgi8


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The Whole Story In Detail: Ed Sullivan and The Beatles!

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The Whole Story In Detail: Ed Sullivan and The Beatles!

There are a number of stories regarding exactly how The Beatles came to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show. The most popular is that in 1963, while arriving at London’s Heathrow airport, Ed Sullivan and his wife Sylvia encountered thousands of youngsters waiting excitedly in the rain. When Sullivan asked what all the commotion was about, he was told that a British band named The Beatles was returning home from a tour in Sweden. When he got to his hotel room, Sullivan purportedly inquired about booking the group for his show.

However, it was not until later that year that The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein reached an agreement with Ed Sullivan to bring the group to America to perform live for the first time on U.S. television. Following dinner at the Hotel Delmonico in New York City, a handshake between the two men sealed the deal for performances on three shows to air in 1964. In return, The Beatles would receive $10,000 for their three appearances and top billing. FYI, Elvis Presly got $50,000 for 3 appearances.

Prior to their debut on the Sullivan show, The Beatles’ record “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was leaked in advance of its planned US release to radio stations across the country. When attorneys for Capitol Records were unable to stop American DJs from spinning the tune, the record label relented and, on December 26, 1963, dropped the album ahead of schedule. The record sold 250,000 copies in the first three days. By January 10, 1964 it had sold over one million units and “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was the number one song on the Billboard charts by month’s end. In the weeks leading up to The Beatles’ performance on The Ed Sullivan Show, Beatlemania went viral. Radio stations played the band’s music nearly non-stop; teenaged fans sported “Beatle” wigs, and bumper stickers across the country warned, “The Beatles Are Coming.”

The Beatles touched down at New York’s Kennedy Airport on February 7th, 1964. They were met by a throng of reporters and a hoard of three thousand screaming fans. Upon disembarking the plane, The Beatles were whisked to a press conference hosted by Capitol Records in which they playfully answered questions from the media.

While The Beatles spent the next two days cooped up at The Plaza Hotel, fans did all they could to get closer to the band. Groups of teenagers set up camp outside The Plaza, some even posing as hotel guests in an attempt to see their favorite group. As the show approached, over 50,000 requests for seats came into CBS. However, The Ed Sullivan Show, which originated from CBS’s TV Studio 50, could only accommodate an audience of 700.

For weeks, celebrities were calling in to get tickets for their kids. Walter Cronkite and Jack Paar scored seats for their girls; composer Leonard Bernstein tried but failed; while Richard Nixon’s 15-year old daughter, Julie, became one of the lucky few to get a seat. Even Sullivan himself had trouble getting extra tickets. On his show the week before The Beatles’ debut, Ed asked his audience, “Coincidentally, if anyone has a ticket for The Beatles on our show next Sunday, could I please borrow it? We need it very badly.”

It should be remembered that while this hullabaloo was happening, there was still an air of gloom in America. Just 77 days prior to The Beatles’ appearance on Sullivan, President Kennedy had been assassinated. By now, the country was ready for some much needed diversion, and it came in the form of four young lads from Liverpool – their sound, their look, their energy and their charisma.

At 8 o’clock on February 9th 1964, America tuned in to CBS and The Ed Sullivan Show. But this night was different. 73 million people gathered in front their TV sets to see The Beatles’ first live performance on U.S. soil. The television rating was a record-setting 45.3, meaning that 45.3% of households with televisions were watching. That figure reflected a total of 23,240,000 American homes. The show garnered a 60 share, meaning 60% of the television’s turned on were tuned in to Ed Sullivan and The Beatles. Cumulatively, the four shows attracted an audience of a quarter of a BILLION people. In terms of percentage of America’s population, the first two shows remain the highest viewed regularly scheduled television programs of all time.

Ed opened the show by briefly mentioning a congratulatory telegram to The Beatles from Elvis and his manager, Colonel Tom Parker and then threw to advertisements for Aero Shave and Griffin Shoe Polish. After the brief commercial interruption, Ed began his memorable introduction:

“Now yesterday and today our theater’s been jammed with newspapermen and hundreds of photographers from all over the nation, and these veterans agreed with me that this city never has witnessed the excitement stirred by these youngsters from Liverpool who call themselves The Beatles. Now tonight, you’re gonna twice be entertained by them. Right now, and again in the second half of our show. Ladies and gentlemen, The Beatles! Let’s bring them on.”

At last, John, Paul, George and Ringo came onto the stage, opening with “All My Loving” to ear-splitting screeches from teenaged girls in the audience. The Beatles followed that hit with Paul McCartney taking the spotlight to sing, “Till There Was You.” During the song, a camera cut to each member of the band and introduced him to the audience by displaying his first name on screen. When the camera cut to John Lennon, the caption below his name also read “SORRY GIRLS, HE’S MARRIED.” ( this was mimicked in the movie That Think You Do). The Beatles then wrapped up the first set with “She Loves You,” and the show went to commercial. Upon return, magician Fred Kaps took the stage to perform a set of sleight-of-hand tricks.

Concerned that The Beatles’ shrieking fans would steal attention from the other acts that evening, Ed Sullivan admonished his audience, “If you don’t keep quiet, I’m going to send for a barber.”

As hard as Ed tried to protect them, the other acts that night suffered from the excitement surrounding The Beatles. Numbered among those performers were impressionist Frank Gorshin, acrobats Wells & the Four Fays, the comedy team of McCall & Brill and Broadway star Georgia Brown joined by the cast of “Oliver!”

The hour-long broadcast concluded with The Beatles singing two more of their hits, “I Saw Her Standing There” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand” to the delight of the fans in attendance and those watching at home.

The show was a huge television success. As hard as it is to imagine, over 40% of every man, woman and child living in America had watched The Beatles on Sullivan.

John Moffitt, then Assistant Director of The Ed Sullivan Show recalls, “Nobody realized the impact to come, how momentous it would be. We didn’t talk about making history. It was more like, ‘What are we going to do next week? Not only are we doing this again, we’re on location.’”

That’s because The Beatles’ second appearance on February 16th, 1964, was broadcast from The Deauville Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida. Moffitt remembers how fans took over the venue, and when it was time for The Beatles to perform, a teaming throng of teenagers blocked the group’s access to the ballroom. As security guards wedged a passageway through the crowd for The Beatles, the show was being broadcast to America. Unaware of the delay, Ed was about to introduce them. Moffitt recalls…

“Ed is saying ‘And now, here are—(a beat)—The Beatles right after this.’ And he went to a commercial. And during the commercial, finally at the end, The Beatles broke through, they came running up the aisle, they got hooked up, and I believe there was one microphone that didn’t get hooked up. But you couldn’t tell because all you could hear was the screaming.”

Audio difficulties aside, the boys plowed through “She Loves You,” “This Boy” and “All My Loving” for their first set, then turned the stage over to the comedy team of Allen and Rossi (“Hello, Dere”), singer/dancer Mitzi Gaynor, acrobats The Nerveless Knocks and monologist Myron Cohen.

The Beatles returned to close the show with performances of “I Saw Her Standing There,” “From Me to You” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” After they finished, Ed called them over and congratulated them, passing along word that legendary composer Richard Rodgers was one their “most rabid fans.”

Again, The Beatles on Sullivan proved a huge ratings success, nearly duplicating the record-setting performance of their first appearance. The second show also attracted 40% of the American population.

The Beatles third and—according to their contract—final performance on The Ed Sullivan Show was technically their first. The show was taped prior to their live February 9th debut, but saved for broadcast until February 23rd, 1964. On this show, The Beatles sang “Twist and Shout”, “Please Please Me” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” Other guests that night included stand-up comedian Dave Barry, Gordon and Sheila MacRae, and the legendary American jazz singer Cab Calloway.

On September 12th, 1965, The Fab Four returned to the Ed Sullivan stage one last time. They played “I Feel Fine,” “I’m Down,” “Act Naturally,” “Ticket to Ride,” “Yesterday,” and “Help!” This performance was taped in New York on August 14th, 1965, just one day before The Beatles kicked off their North American Tour with a concert at Shea Stadium that set the attendance record for an outdoor show at the time.

The final appearance of the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, like those in February 1964 aired in black and white. However, at the end of the evening, Sullivan broke the news that the following week, his show would start broadcasting in color. In fact, the show moved to Television City in Los Angeles for 6 weeks of color broadcasts while Studio 50 was being overhauled for color with new lighting and six, custom made Norelco PC71 cameras. The man CBS put in charge of the overhaul was Joseph Flaherty who spoke about that here last week.

These four historic Beatles performances on The Ed Sullivan Show featured 20 Beatles songs—seven of which became Number One hits. Their success on The Ed Sullivan Show paved the way for future rock ‘n’ roll groups dubbed the British Invasion, including The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Dave Clark Five, Herman’s Hermits,The Searchers, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Peter and Gordon, etc.

The genius of The Beatles and the American institution that was The Ed Sullivan Show combined to create one of the most defining and indelible moments in the history of music, television and pop culture. It was a remarkable convergence that came at a special time in America, making an impact on the world that will never be duplicated.

Thanks to SOFA Entertainment for much of the information above. The company is owned by Andrew Solt, who in 1990 purchased the complete video library and all rights to The Ed Sullivan Show. The site, linked below, has the best historical information on the show and the theater I have found so far. Many thanks to Mr. Solt for preserving these historical treasures for generations to come!
http://www.edsullivan.com/


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Beatles Prelude: A Few SURPRISES!

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Beatles Prelude: A Few SURPRISES!

In 1964, today February 8th, would have been Saturday. The first Beatles rehearsal for Ed Sullivan began at 1:30 PM Saturday afternoon at Studio 50. Here is a rundown of the day and a few BIG SURPRISES!

Surprise 1…The Beatles ‘THIRD’ appearance was actually their FIRST appearance! The Sunday afternoon dress rehearsal (2/8/64) was taped with a different audience than the ‘debut’s show, and was played back as the third consecutive week of the Beatles live on Sullivan. The play back date was February 23rd.

Surprise 2…George Harrison almost didn’t make it! He had strep throat and a fever of 104. He was not at the Saturday rehearsals. That’s why you only see John, Paul and Ringo in the shot with Ed examining Paul’s Hofner bass guitar.

Here’s what happened at Studio 50, 49 years ago today…

In the morning a press conference was held in the Baroque Room at New York’s Plaza Hotel, where The Beatles were staying. Following this John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr went for a walk and photo opportunity in Central Park, where their every move was followed by around 400 female fans.

George Harrison was suffering from a streptococcal sore throat, and so remained in the Plaza. He was joined there by his sister Louise Caldwell, who lived in Illinois.

The doctor said he couldn’t do The Ed Sullivan Show because he had a temperature of 104! But they pumped him with everything. He was thinking about getting a nurse to administer the medicine, every hour on the hour. Then the doctor suddenly realized that George’s sister was there and he said to her, ‘Would you see to it? It’s probably just as well that you’re here because I don’t think there’s a single female in the city that isn’t crazy about The Beatles! You’re probably the only one who could function around him normally’.

At 1.30 PM, The Beatles – minus George – traveled by limousine to the CBS studios on Broadway for the first of several rehearsals for their debut appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. During the journey their cars were charged by fans, and mounted police were forced to intervene to keep order. Ten mounted police guarded the studio along with 52 officers while The Beatles were inside. Their first duty was to join AFTRA and the musicians’ union.

For the rehearsals, road manager Neil Aspinall stood in for George, as did production assistant Vince Calandra, while the director rehearsed the camera positions for the following day’s show. It’s a good thing there were several camera rehearsals…during the show, none of the cameramen could hear the director in their headphones! The screaming fans were just too loud.

Afterwards The Beatles asked to see a playback of their rehearsal, which no other musical act had previously asked for. In the evening Lennon, McCartney and Starr went to the famous ’21’ restaurant with George Martin and executives from Capitol Records. The Beatles ate chops while their music industry companions had pheasant.


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Heavy Metal Flashback: 1971

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Heavy Metal Flashback: 1971

With football and TK41s on my mind, I thought this would be an excellent time for a second visit to Texas Tech with ABC! Enjoy!


Amazingly, till now, there are only 5 or 6 photos of TK41s showing them at football games. In this great 8 photo array, we see the ABC live trucks arrive with 6 TK41s on board, the hard slog of getting them in place and finally victory as two of the titans of color are set up and ready. Interestingly, these photos were taken in 1971 at Texas Tech. Enjoy and tell your friends to come take a look!
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Dumont Iconoscope Camera Chains

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Dumont Iconoscope Camera Chains

Pictured here are two complete chains for studio and field use. Everything on the cart can be placed in a truck or control room, but notice the two elements at the foot of each tripod. Those had to be with the camera head…one element is an amplifier and the other, a power supply. Dumont made a pedestal that housed both, and that pedestal was nick named ‘the ice cream truck’ for some reason. When the camera was mounted on a tripod, things got a bit tricky because you either had to be stationary or have a special wheel set that included a solid base to set these elements on.

I think the electronic viewfinder was a fantastic addition and have no idea why RCA did not do this early on too. It may have been because of the extra outboard gear as I think at least one of the elements located with the camera head was involved in powering the viewfinder. Does any one know more about these cameras and which pieces of gear do what?


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Did She Really Say That? Yep! MTM Bloopers…

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Did She Really Say That? Yep!

This is funny and you’ll hear some words from George Carlin’s ‘7 Words You Can’t Say’ routine…even from Mary! Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4XHXeiMRSk

This is the original gag reel from the final season of the MTM Show. Enjoy!
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Seen The New Look At CBS News? Take a look with Erica Hill

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Seen The New Look At CBS News?

Take a look with Erica Hill from ‘CBS This Morning’. This has been in place since the middle of last year, but we get to see several sets here including the ‘CBS Evening News’ set. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=VAVwZawA6eA#!

Behind-the-scenes tour of the CBS Broadcast Center with Erica Hill, co-host of “CBS This Morning.” Check out more episodes of “Cubes”: http://www.youtube.com…
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Surprise Discovery! Sam Donaldson…Cub Reporter, 1967

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Surprise Discovery! Sam Donaldson…Cub Reporter, 1967

If you go to 11:29, you’ll see WTOP TV picking up the story in the studio with a very young Sam Donaldson on the set with an RCA TK41. You’ll even see him in the viewfinder! Sam’s part actually starts at 10:27 and he is back with the TK41 at 13:15. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUpMxv721W4&list=PL4023E734DA416012

Getting the News-Washington DC 1967

An educational film designed for high school students follows a story from the pages of the Washington Post to the airwaves of WTOP Radio and TV in 1967. The…
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Up Close And Personal, Here is a good look at the Chapman Hi-Lo

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Up Close And Personal

Here is a good look at the Chapman Hi-Lo sideline camera rig. It was built a couple of years back for ESPN but saw duty at this year’s Super Bowl. The weights under the lenses are counterbalances for the cameraman’s weight. The top platform can swivel 360 degrees and the bottom about 240 degrees. What a great ride!


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In The Beginning…ESPN The Entertainment and Sports Programming Network

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In The Beginning…ESPN

The Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, had a very interesting beginning in Bristol, Connecticut, and believe it or not, came to be with the help of Getty Oil. The whole story is at the bottom link and at the top link, you’ll see the very first minutes of programming as Lee Lenard kicks off the network. The photo below shows their first cameras, the Norelco PC70s on the Sports Center set.

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

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_ESPN


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The Very Last RCA Cameras Ever Made

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The Very Last RCA Cameras Ever Made

Both of these cameras are RCA TKP 47s. The blue version was introduced at the NAB in 1982…the grey version is the final configuration of the TKP 47 and appeared in 1983. Production stopped in 1984. In 81, the last studio cameras had been made in Camden when the TK47 and TK761 lines were halted.

In 1984, RCA Broadcast Systems Division ceased operations and moved from Camden, to the site of the RCA antenna engineering facility in Gibbsboro, New Jersey. In the years that followed, the broadcast product lines developed in Camden were terminated or sold to Thomson. Most of the buildings demolished, except for a few of the original RCA Victor buildings that had been declared national historical buildings. For several years, RCA spinoff L-3 Communications Systems East was headquartered in the building, but has since moved to an adjacent building built by the city for them. The remaining RCA buildings now houses shops and luxury loft apartments.


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Last Of The RCA Studio Cameras: The TK47

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Last Of The RCA Studio Cameras: The TK47

From 1979 till 1981, RCA made 238 TK47s. In ’79, 36 were built, 118 built in ’80 and in ’81, the final run of 84 cameras were built.
It would be interesting to know who the last TK47s were sold to. This photo is at WBNS in Columbus, Ohio.


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The RCA Orthicon Tube

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The RCA Orthicon Tube

Harley Ambrose Iams and Albert Rose of RCA developed the tube in 1938. Although it was a simpler design than the Iconoscope, building this tube was much more difficult. This 4 Inch RCA Orthicon tube was 18 inches long.


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Q/A With CBS Producer Of Tomorrow’s Super Bowl

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62 Cameras At Tomorrow’s SUPER BOWL!

Lance Barrow is ‘The Man’ in the driver’s seat tomorrow and here is an interview with him. Thanks to Kevin Vahey for the link.

http://www.shermanreport.com/super-bowl-producer/

Q/A with CBS’ producer for Super Bowl: Most football games don’t have Beyonce performing at halftime

FULL STORYQ/A with CBS’ producer for Super Bowl: Most football games don’t have Beyonce performing at halftimeby Ed ShermanJanuary 28, 2013 by adminLance Barrow said I helped give him his wake-up call about being the main man for a Super Bowl.Barrow’s first spin as the coordinating producer for the …
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My Conversation with CBS VP Technology, Joe Flaherty…RARE HISTORY!

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A LOT Of Interesting History, in case you have not read this!

My Conversation With Dr. Joe Flaherty
Senior Vice President of Technology at CBS

There are few that have seen more television history than Joe Flaherty. There are fewer still that have made as much television history! I will not try and cover all that here, but will instead bring to light some interesting background surrounding several major events in CBS and broadcast history. As I try and boil down over an hour of conversation, I may do some skipping around from topic to topic, and our fist topic is the backstory on Norelco.

According to Joe, “If CBS is the Tiffany network, the BBC is the Gold network”. Although CBS had a couple of hundred engineers in research and development, the BBC had three times that many. In the early 60s, Dr. Flaherty, with a degree in physics was already moving up the ladder and was sent to England to see what he could learn form the BBC about some new black and white cameras they were using.

They were Phillips cameras and had this new Plumbicon tube in them that made great pictures. While there, he called Phillips and they sent a plane for him. He went to the plant in Holland and while there, asked if the Plumbicon would work for color. They had not given it much thought, but after that visit, they did. The result was the PC 60. In early 1964, Joe went back to Holland to take a look. There were problems with the red channel registration on those early PC 60s, but Joe was impressed and bought all 25 of them. Unfortunately, the plant in Eindhoven could only make 25 a year, so he bought a years worth of production. Soon after, Phillips set up shop in New York and began making the PC 70 there and at a much faster clip. CBS had ordered the first 75 and delivery began in 1965.

This was a busy period for Joe and CBS. In 1952, CBS bought a dairy depot from Sheffield Farms and had used it mostly for scenery storage, but with the studios at Grand Central Terminal getting cramped, and wanting to consolidated some of the many broadcast theaters throughout Manhattan, a change was needed. William Paley put Joe in charge of converting the building to the CBS Broadcast Center. By 63, some of the TV studios were up and running and master control moved from Grand Central in late 64 completing the move. With his intimate understanding of the Norelco color regime which was to come, he was the perfect man for the job.

Although the RCA TK10s and TK30 came long before Joe got to CBS in 1956, I did ask him about the unique striped band around the top of most of the cameras. For a long time, no one knew or could say why they were there. A few years back, Pete Fasciano, who developed the Avid editing system, was helping me with the art work for my TK11, which I dressed as a CBS network camera. When laying our the black horizontal stripes at the top and bottom and the alternating grey and white vertical bars, Pete realized this was actually a grey scale test pattern. I told Joe the story, he laughed and confirmed our theory. The amplitude was adjusted using the black and white bars and the frequency adjusted using the grey bars.

Speaking of grey…now we know why all the CBS equipment was painted ‘navy grey’. Joe could not remember the name, but one of the early chief engineers for the television network was an former admiral in the Navy. You can see where this is headed can’t you? Yes, it was his idea to paint all the equipment ‘navy grey’ so it would all match. This started in the mid 50s. Many theories have abounded, like ‘eye acuity’ and more, but…

By the way, one of the financial considerations involved in management signing off on the 100 camera Norelco purchase involved man power. For many years, CBS upper management referred to the RCA color systems as ‘NSCT’ systems, which stood for ‘Never The Same Color Twice’. For network quality, the RCA TK41s and color telecine chains needed one video man to shade each camera and chain. It was thought that with the Norelco cameras, one man could shade 6 cameras at a time. I’m not sure how that worked out.

William Paley would ask Joe to lunch about 4 or 5 times a year. Each meeting, Paley would ask “What are we not doing that we should be doing?” That’s a great question for a CEO to ask and Joe always had to do his homework before each meeting. One of those big ideas was digital and HDTV, which we’ll get to soon, but first, let’s go back to the early 60s and another of Joe’s big ideas…ENG cameras.

Joe said one of the great things about CBS news was, “They were always willing to try something that almost worked.” This is where the ENG cameras come in. Even before CBS became involved with Ikegami in 1962, they had built a couple of ENG cameras in house. Last month, we had trouble identifying a CBS ENG camera at a Gemini space launch…I’m betting that was one of the CBS/Ikegami custom built cameras.

CBS News wanted to go with ENG cameras but there were still a lot of kinks to be worked out with the cameras and with a mobile video tape recorder. In the early 60s, Joe began spending time in Japan where CBS had an engineering office. He worked with Ikegami on the cameras, and soon after with Sony on the VTR. To test this all out, the CBS owned station in St. Louis, KMOX became ground zero for ENG production. The confidential agreements between CBS and Ikegami and Sony paid off and long before the RCA TK76 came out in 1976, CBS was using custom made, Ikegami ENG cameras. As is noted in his bios, Joe was the real pioneering power in the field of ENG.

He is also called ‘The Father of HDTV’ and it’s true. NHK in Japan had come up with the idea and Joe was there collaborating with them in 1971. There are many online articles about his many contributions and I’ll let you Google those, but here is an interesting backstory of one of the fist demonstrations.

Francis Ford Coppola was there and told Joe that, in his opinion, HDTV was better than 35mm film prints. The 35mm negatives were better than early HD, but when prints are made for distribution, the resolution and colors break down. Among the early problems was the difficulty in seeing the HD broadcast signal as the early HD receivers were not up to par yet. This is reminds me of the problems at RCA in the early days of color. They had to build a monitor as good as the camera to see what they had.

Jumping to one more quick item, I had long wondered which CBS studio had the Dumont cameras. As it turns out, 4 studios had them…Studios 53, 54, 55 and 56 at Liederkrantz Hall were all Dumont equipped. Oh yes, and Joe is the only man to have ever redone The Ed Sullivan Theater twice! Once in 1965 for color, and once again when David Letterman came to CBS.

I’ll wrap this up by telling you what Joe is working on now…3D production! In his 80s and still going strong, I can only wish him more continued success and my thanks for his efforts that have affected so many in so many ways!


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The Sue Bennett Show, WBZ Boston

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The Sue Bennett Show, WBZ Boston

Susan Bennett starred on the NBC quiz and variety show, Kay Kyser’s College of Musical Knowledge in 1949-50, on the DuMont show Teen Time Tunes in 1949, and was featured on the popular Your Hit Parade in 1951-52. She also appeared as a regular guest on other network shows.

Bennett’s recordings with the Kay Kyser Orchestra include “Sam, The Old Accordion Man,” and “Tootsie, Darlin’, Angel, Honey, Baby.”

Following her network career, Bennett became a Boston television personality and in 1954 and 1955, starred on The Sue Bennett Show, a weekly program on Boston’s WBZ-TV.


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30 Rock: FINAL EPISODES AIR TONIGHT! Great send off article

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30 Rock: FINAL EPISODES AIR TONIGHT!

Great send off article in the Washington Post.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/tv/bracing-for-30-rocks-sharp-witted-farewell/2013/01/30/a5d7aa1a-6b1e-11e2-ada3-d86a4806d5ee_story.html

Another look at the live show from NBC’s Studio 8H in 2010.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXi5cNTr8Iw


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WBBM, Chicago: 1981 Behind The Scenes

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WBBM, Chicago: 1981 Behind The Scenes

This is a very good and thorough look at what goes into a major market news cast in this era…lots of gear is covered here and it all starts in the studio with Bill Curtis being shot with Thomson cameras. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bedZcB5Qhi4&list=PL4023E734DA416012

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bedZcB5Qhi4Here’s Part 2 of a neat WBBM special, ostensibly for kids but which everyone can enjoy and learn something from – Inside Out – The Magic of TV. Reviews some …
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Double Play Photo!

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Double Play Photo!

Thanks to Normand Latour, we not only have a photo of his father, Raymond, operating this Marconi Mark II, we now have the best shot I have ever seen of the rare Vinten Pathfinder dolly. An electric version of the Pathfinder came later, but you don’t see many of these manually operated models. It’s almost like the Houston Fearless Panoram dolly, but this had a foot rest and a stay level seat that is a much better arrangement. Raymond Latour was the first cameraman hired to work in Studio 51.


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Sin Of Sins! The Whole Story!

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Sin Of Sins! The Whole Story!

For NBC to own any camera other than an RCA…well… that was just unthinkable! How could the child of it’s own parent company do such a thing? Simply put, it was out of necessity.

Early in their history, RCA had become quite successful with their victrolas, radios, tvs and networks and had become a large, cumbersome corporation. Although pioneers, Ampex ‘scooped’ them in the 50s with video tape and in the mid 60s, Norelco was ready to scoop them again in cameras.

RCA had stopped making TK41s in 1964 in preparation of the TK42, but snag after snag gummed up the works. NBC sports executives wanted new cameras for their expanding coverage needs, but the TK42 was not looking good… figuratively and literally. Unknown to most at RCA, some engineers like their Lou Bazin were already working on a TK44 and had found Plumbicon tubes and optics were available to them at Amperex, the Phillips tube maker in the US. But, that was still to long to wait.

The order came down from above to find new cameras and the job fell to Fred Hemelfarb. Fred had come to NBC from RCA with the first TK40s and was NBC’s camera guru and the go-between that made dozens of improvements on the RCA color lines of telecine, cameras and videotape.

Norelco sent 2 cameras for Fred to test and inspect. His was the job of customizing the Norelco cameras to NBC specs. With this done, Norelco was given the order for 35 cameras. The first 6 arrived just in time for the 1967 World Series and were put to the test. Norelco and NBC executives watched the first game in a private trailer on two RCA home receivers. After the game, Fred came up from the truck and everyone was quite happy…especially with the left field shots. That’s when Fred told them there were actually 7 cameras on the game. The left field camera was an RCA TK41. Further modifications were made. Now you know.


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“Queen For A Day”, Fancy Remote Setup In Houston

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Fancy Remote Setup Isn’t It?

In the late 50s, ‘Queen For A Day’ would occasionally take the show on the road. When they did, the local NBC stations supplied the equipment and crews. This photo is from KPRC in Houston where a week of shows came from City Auditorium.


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The Kraft Music Hall: 1933-1971

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The Kraft Music Hall: 1933-1971

Surprised at the long run? Me too! I never realized the show started on NBC radio. The Kraft Program debuted June 26, 1933 as a musical-variety program featuring orchestra leader Paul Whiteman. During its first year the show went through a series of name changes, including Kraft Musical Revue, until it finally settled on Kraft Music Hall in 1934. Paul Whiteman remained the host until December 6, 1935. Ford Bond was the announcer.

Bing Crosby took over as master of ceremonies January 2, 1936 and hosted until May 9, 1946. For the advertising managers at Kraft, it was imperative that advertising and entertainment be kept separate. For this reason, Kraft insisted that an announcer, not cast members, read its commercials. Ed Hurlihy was the TV announcer.

After Crosby Kraft Music Hall went through a handful of short-lived hosts. Edward Everett Horton, Eddie Foy and Frank Morgan all hosted from 1945 through 1947. Nelson Eddy took over the summer spots in 1947 and with costar Dorothy Kirsten in 1948 and 1949. Al Jolson dotted the Kraft Music Hall landscape, first as an occasional guest from 1933 to 1935, then later as the star and host from 1947 to 1949. In 1947, Kraft started in television but went with dramas in the Kraft Television Theater.

The Kraft Music Hall started in television in 1958, replacing the dramatic anthology series Kraft Television Theater. Milton Berle hosted during the 1958 season. Beginning with the fall 1959 season, singer Perry Como became the host, and continued until 1967 (as a monthly series from 1963 through ’67). During the summer seasons, the show continued with new episodes, with a variety of guest hosts replacing Berle/Como. This rotation of guest hosts became a permanent feature when Como left the series in the winter of 1967 (with the Music Hall returning as a weekly series that fall), and continued until the series finally ended in 1971.

During its final years, Friar’s Club “Roasts” were occasionally broadcast on this series in place of the usual musically themed episodes. Later, these Roasts appeared as a separate series hosted by Dean Martin.


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