Posts in Category: Broadcast History

Ralph Levy: Director Extraordinaire

Ralph Levy: Director Extraordinaire

Ralph Levy, TV pioneer and two-time Emmy winning director, is remembered by TV historians as the man who directed the original ‘I Love Lucy’ pilot in March, 1951 — which made his passing on the date of Lucy’s 50th Anniversary all the more poignant.

Born into a family of Philadelphia lawyers, Ralph was stage-struck from an early age. Bowing to family pressures, he earned a degree from Yale University, from which he was graduated just in time to serve in the Army during World War II.

Television was then in its embryonic development stage in New York City, and Levy landed a job of assistant director at CBS. Early assignments included covering sporting events such as boxing, basketball and professional football games. If nothing else, the apprenticeship allowed him to learn all about the cameras, lenses, lights and other new video technology. Ralph was never shy about his interest in musical comedy, and within a few months CBS gave him a chance to switch from sports to entertainment. They assigned him to work on the television edition of ‘Winner Take All’, a question-and-answer quiz program that had proven very popular on CBS Radio.

In early May of 1949, Ralph was asked to direct a variety show called The 54th Street Revue. Ralph managed to get the first of the shows on the air in only 4 days — an accomplishment that earned him both management’s attention and a reputation for working swiftly and efficiently.

That fall, CBS asked Levy to move to Los Angeles to direct a new variety series starring famed radio comedian Ed Wynn. If network TV in New York was just beginning, in Los Angeles it was virtually non-existent…

The Ed Wynn Show, Levy soon discovered, would be the first major network show on CBS to originate from Hollywood. It would be shown “live” on the West Coast every Thursday night at 9PM. A kinescope recording of the show would be made, sent to New York, and played for East Coast and Midwestern stations two weeks later. Such delays were necessary because the transcontinental cable was not yet in place that would allow for national live telecasts to originate on the West Coast.

The Ed Wynn Show premiered on October 6, 1949, and almost immediately ran into a talent booking problem. Big-name movie performers wanted nothing to do with the new video medium. Wynn started booking talent from the recording industry (Dinah Shore), old friends (Buster Keaton) and stars from network radio. In late December, Ed’s guests were Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

“This was one of the first times I ever did anything on TV,” Lucy recalled later. “So frightening, but so wonderful. I’d never been in such a hurried, chaotic setting with these monstrous television cameras all over the stage and not enough rehearsal. But it was great fun.”

The script that night went out of its way to spotlight 32-year-old Desi, who appeared with Wynn and Ball in a comedy sketch, and even afforded him the opportunity to sing “Babalu.”

A few weeks later, CBS asked Lucy to consider transferring her radio series, ‘My Favorite Husband’, to TV. They wanted her — but did not know how her Latin husband would fit in.

Levy, meanwhile, had come to be the network’s fair-haired boy in Hollywood… In April, he expanded his duties to include directing the new Alan Young Show, a weekly half-hour comedy-variety skein starring the young Canadian who today is more remembered for his role ten years later in the sitcom Mr. Ed.

One of the most successful programs on CBS Radio that season was ‘You Bet Your Life’, starring the irrepressible Groucho Marx. The show’s sponsor, DeSoto-Plymouth Automobiles, was interested in adding a TV version — and both CBS and NBC wanted to carry it. Groucho later recalled, “You Bet Your Life shot up to Number 6 in the ratings. When both major networks — NBC and CBS — approached us about going on television, a bidding war started. Since we were already at CBS, it seemed likely we’d stay there. One of their star directors, Ralph Levy, helped us with the pilot show. When the dust settled, NBC was the high bidder. Levy stayed at CBS…”

The Ed Wynn Show ended its nine-month run on July 4, 1950, and Ralph headed to Mexico for a much-needed vacation. He had hardly unpacked when an emergency call came from Harry Ackerman, head of CBS’ Hollywood operations. “He asked me to come back the next day,” Ralph remembered later. “George Burns and Gracie Allen had agreed to go on television, and Harry wanted me at the first production meeting.” So much for Levy’s vacation…

A pilot was prepared and quickly sold to Carnation Milk Company, and ‘The George Burns – Gracie Allen Show’ was scheduled for a fall premiere. George was afraid to take on a weekly show all at once, particularly one that was to be done “live,” so CBS agreed to air it on an alternate-week basis. Complicating matters, especially for Ralph, was the fact that the network wanted to do the first 6 shows from New York. (The show could get better media coverage there, the network reasoned.) The cast and crew were sent to New York, and Ralph became bi-coastal for three months.

Making his life even more interesting was the fact that George Burns’ best friend, Jack Benny, was toying with the idea of getting into television himself. Naturally, he wanted Ralph to direct. But Benny was even more shy about TV than George and Gracie, and agreed to do only four half-hour specials that first 1950-51 season.

Lucy and Desi Arnaz, meanwhile, spent the summer of 1950 performing a comedy act in vaudeville theatres across the country, and by late fall had convinced CBS to let them try a new TV series together. Lucy’s radio writers — Jess Oppenheimer, Bob Carroll Jr., and Madelyn Pugh — went to work to create the format. Ralph Levy was asked to direct.

“I was anxious to direct Lucy’s pilot because I had worked with her on The Ed Wynn Show,” Levy recalled later. “I remember that the script called for Lucy to parade around the living room with a lamp shade on her head — trying to prove to Desi she could be a Ziegfeld Girl. I didn’t think she was walking the right way, so I showed her how it should be done — not knowing that she had been a showgirl for many years. Instead of telling me off, she simply played along with me. She was so professional and so good. She walked away with the whole show.”

The pilot was filmed on Friday evening, March 2, 1951 (Desi’s 34th birthday) in Studio A of CBS’ Columbia Square headquarters in Hollywood. It was the same stage used for the Wynn Show a year earlier. “There were only two sets,” Lucy recalled. “One was a living room and the other the nightclub where Desi worked. The show was shot live with a studio audience in attendance, as most TV shows were being done then. There was no tape yet. The images were recorded on film from a TV screen, providing us with the required kinescope.”

By the end of April the Lucy series, now titled ‘I Love Lucy’ had sold to CBS and Philip Morris — neither of which wanted the actual series to be done like the pilot (and the Wynn Show) via kinescope. The Arnazes balked at moving to the East to do the show live out of New York, so plans were set in motion to have the show filmed in Los Angeles using 35mm film. Levy, CBS’s first choice to direct, begged off: he knew he already had his hands full directing the Alan Young and Burns ‘n’ Allen series (plus the Jack Benny specials!). Levy also did several, live CBS ‘Playhouse 90’ presentations when his schedule allowed.

Interestingly, a year later, after ‘I Love Lucy’ proved a quality series could be done on film, Burns and Allen decided to do their shows on film, too (rather than “live”). Their company, McCadden Productions, moved onto the General Service Studio lot and became neighbors to Desilu and ‘I Love Lucy’. In 1953, Ralph retired from Burns ‘n’ Allen, and with The Alan Young Show ceasing production, he concentrated his energies on the now bi-weekly Jack Benny Program. He remained at Benny’s side another four seasons, then returned in 1959 to helm two hour long Benny specials. For these shows, he won his first Emmy Award.

Ralph won a second Emmy two years later for first Bob Newhart Show, a weekly half-hour of stand-up comedy and variety.

When filmed sitcoms became the order of the day, Levy adapted: he directed the pilots of ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ and ‘Green Acres’, and two seasons of ‘Petticoat Junction’, all for his friend Paul Henning, one of George Burns’ writers who had since become a successful producer. (Petticoat, reunited him with actress Bea Benederet, who had been a regular on the Burns show.) Ralph later attempted to do dramas, programs like ‘Hawaii Five-O’, and feature films, but somehow, his heart was not in these projects: he missed the live audiences that early television and the theater had provided. The thrill of “opening night” was missing.

Levy spent several years in England in the 1970s, working for BBC Television, and taught TV production classes at Cal State Northridge and Loyola Marymount University.

Reflecting back on the various stellar performers with which he had worked, Ralph once observed, Groucho really was grouchy, probably because he “suffered from an inferiority complex.” Wynn was cerebral; Allen was always prepared, funny and “a doll” to work with. Ball was a top-notch clown, hard worker and tough business-woman. Benny, he always said, was the best of all, “a marvelous man.”

As for the new breed of television comedies, he found many of the shows to be too loud and vulgar for his taste. Working on modern shows “was not the same as working with Ed Wynn, or George and Gracie, or Jack. These people were from another era of show business; one in which you took literally years to build your comedic character… It’s very different today. The Burns and Allen show and Jack’s show were essentially one-man operations. Nowadays there are literally dozens of people grouped around TV shows, and to get a comedy idea past them, you have to run a gauntlet. And in those days we were enjoying our work. It’s not fun anymore. One guy’s there saying, ‘You’re going overtime,’ another guy’s there saying, ‘You’re over budget,’ everybody’s tensed up and nervous. Oh, sure we had plenty of our own crises, but they were usually constructive ones, based on doing the best possible show we were capable of.”

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American Bandstand, 30th Anniversary


American Bandstand, 30th Anniversary, Last 2 Parts

A one of a kind band is chosen late in the first video and the second video shows all 20 or so of the best of the best playing with the late Bill Haley. The video cut ins of the live version of ‘Rock Around The Clock’ and Haley’s performance are great. You’ll see a few of ABC Norelco cameras too. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDzavp6uTkc&list=PL30890597447C88FB

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jpy4NfDQjio&list=PL30890597447C88FB

Bandstand originally used “High Society” by Artie Shaw as its theme song, but by the time the show went national, it had been replaced by various arrangement…

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CLASSIC: ‘Requiem For A Heavyweight’October 11, 1956, ‘Playhouse 90’

CLASSIC: ‘Requiem For A Heavyweight’

October 11, 1956, ‘Playhouse 90’ presented ‘A Requiem For A Heavyweight’ written by Rod Serling.

The 90 minute, live teleplay won a Peabody Award, the first given to an individual script, and helped establish Serling’s reputation. The broadcast was directed by Ralph Nelson and is generally considered one of the finest examples of live television drama in the United States, as well as being Serling’s personal favorite of his own work. Nelson and Serling won Emmy Awards for their work. Six years later, it was adapted as a 1962 feature film starring Anthony Quinn, Jackie Gleason and Mickey Rooney.

In the photo above, Ed Wynn and his son Keenan Wynn sit with Jack Palance during the final dress rehearsal. The camera is an RCA TK11. Below is a short clip from that historic broadcast.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCKVwoVh8Xs

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New York Islanders Hockey: Behind The Scenes


New York Islanders Hockey: Behind The Scenes

Very good video and even goes into depth on the back and forth communications between the announcers and the truck. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJF-gBw2gk0

In this very special behind the scenes piece, you see just how the Islanders broadcast gets on to television each night. Features Deb Placey as the host.

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March 19, 1953: First Coast To Coast Academy Awards

March 19, 1953: First Coast To Coast Academy Awards

Prior to this, the broadcast could only be seen live in the Los Angeles area, but in late 1952, that changed when AT&T finished the final links of the cross country coax and relay stations.

This is also the first bi coastal broadcast as well, with simultaneous ceremonies in New York and Los Angeles. Since this had never been done before, NBC held several days of rehearsals live in both cities to get the switching down on the coast to coast hookup.

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The RCA Tri – Color Vidicon Camera: 1953

The RCA Tri – Color Vidicon Camera: 1953

Although RCA poured millions into this experimental project from ’53 till ’55, in the end they had to let it go. It worked, but not as well as they had hoped. Here are the details on the Tri – Color Vidicon.

This is a single tube capable of generating all three primary colors. The heart of the tube is a unique and intricate color sensitive target consisting of nearly 900 fine verticle strips of red, green and blue color filters covered by three sets of semitransparent signal conducting strips.

The signal strips, connected to corresponding to a given color, are all connected to a common output terminal and insulated at the same time from the strips of the other two colors. As the target is scanned by a single electron bean at the rear of the tube, the color sensitive filters permit the signal strips to produce electrical signals corresponding to the light and color of the image being scanned. Since the beam strikes all of the color sensitive strips at each scanning, three simultaneous color signals are generated.

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My Amazing Conversation with Kevin Kline, On TV History

My Amazing Conversation with Kevin Kline, On TV History

I was fortunate enough to have a couple of ten minute conversations with Kevin Kline yesterday and of all things, we talked mostly about television history…and you will not believe his connection to a True Pioneer! One that I had never heard of, but wait to you hear this story!

In case you had forgotten, Kevin is married to actress Phoebe Cates, and they are pictured here. Her father was Joseph Cates, and has an incredible history that I had never known about. Till now…

In 1949, Joe Cates was an associate producer on Dumont’s ‘Cavalcade Of Stars’ which was hosted by comedian new to television, named Jackie Gleason. Although ‘The Honeymooners’ was still a couple of years away, Jackie and Joe had been talking about the idea for a while and it was Joe Cates that introduced Gleason to Art Carney, who he thought would be a good actor to play his friend! According to Kevin, ‘The Honeymooners’ set is a duplicate of Joe’s apartment where he and Gleason often met for drinks and plans.

Although he wanted to work with Gleason on ‘The Honeymooners’, Joe was made the producer of two other shows…’Buck Rogers’, and ‘The Sammy Kaye Show’! In 1955, Joe became the executive producer for ‘The $64,000 Question’. This is amazing isn’t it? But, we’re just getting started! Let’s back track to the days before ‘Cavalcade of Stars’

While working in advertising after the war he got the idea of using television to sell candy, and signed a contract with Dumont to do a high-school talent search program he called ‘Look Upon a Star,’ with Bess Myerson, the 1945 Miss America, as host. Operating on a $100 budget, limited to two cameras and facing the unforgiving pace of live television, Mr. Cates managed to pull it off and emerged as one of the most experienced and skilled variety-show production specialists in a fledgling medium.

While working at Dumont with Gleason and Carney on ‘The Cavalcade of Stars’ he also worked on ‘The Cavalcade of Bands,’ which set off a deep interest in music specials as well as comedy which lead him to NBC to produce the ‘Bob and Ray’ show.

His network experience helped lay the groundwork for his later career as an independent producer, which included a succession of specials with Alan King, Robert Klein, Steve Martin and other comedians, and more than 200 circus programs, not to mention a string of David Copperfield magic shows and a number of musical programs for Gene Kelly, Ethel Merman, Victor Borge, Perry Como, Andy Williams, Nat King Cole and others.

By his own estimate, from the live high school talent program he staged for the old Dumont network in the late 1940’s to his string of fund-raising specials for Ford’s Theater in Washington, Mr. Cates wrote, directed and produced more than 1,000 television productions.

Joseph Cates, was born Joseph Katz, but interestingly, this native New Yorker was infatuated with country music and did dozens of country music specials produced with the help of his friend, Johnny Cash. Those shows, which used sophisticated lighting and other softening techniques, were credited with making country music safe for a mass medium, and the country music industry was so grateful that Mr. Cates became the only producer honored by the Country Music Hall of Fame.

I am very thankful that Kevin Kline took the time to tell me about the incredible history of his father-in-law and for being such an easy man to talk with. He is truly charming and has been one of my favorite actors for a long time. I love ‘In & Out’, a movie he did in ’97 with Joan Cusack, Matt Dillon, Tom Selleck, Debbie Reynolds, Bob Newhart, and Wilford Brimley.

My favorite line from that movie was delivered by Joan Cusack. In a packed church, the jilted bride to be, screamed to Kline…”And F**K Barbra Streisand”! The first time they did the take, it took 10 minutes for everyone to stop laughing. I love it! Here’s the trailer.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tiTWGVwHp8

For more on Joseph Cates, take a look here…
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0146068/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

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Cheyenne! Many Firsts For This Show

Cheyenne! Many Firsts For This Show

The Warner Bros. Television story began in 1955 and it began with Cheyenne. In those early pioneering days, comedy was the king of the small screen, but Warner Bros. Television targeted a different genre, the dramatic series—and carved out an important new and very successful niche.

Cheyenne’s legacy consists of 108 black-and-white episodes broadcast on ABC from 1955 to 1963. The show was the first hour-long western, and in fact the first hour-long dramatic series of any kind, with continuing characters, to last more than one season.

Clint Walker was the star and played the roll of Cheyenne Bodie. Another first includes a strike by Walker for better terms and a increased residuals in the 58–59 season. The interim saw the introduction of a virtual Bodie-clone called Bronco Layne, played by Ty Hardin, a native of Texas. Hardin was featured as the quasi main character during Bodie’s absence. When Warners renegotiated Walker’s contract and the actor returned to the show in 1959, Bronco was spun off as a show in its own right and became independently successful. In the clip below, you’ll see Dan Blocker as a deputy…a recurring role for a few seasons until he was cast in Bonanza.

Pressure? What Pressure? CBS Sports, Behind The Scenes


Pressure? What Pressure?

As you’ll see, getting clips in, edited and on the air for update shows, during multiple basketball games is quite a challenge.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zpc5yB3IaVA

Fresh content always at DevlinPix http://bit.ly/DevlinPix. Come see all our movies and videos. Visit CBSSports.com Alongside making independent films, my oth…

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Oh, Now I See How They Do It!

Oh, Now I See How They Do It!

Ever wonder how they got a lot of driving sequence shots? Me too, but now we see how it’s done. This is called a ‘Process Trailer’. When the platforms on each side of the car are let down, the rig is 15 feet wide, but with them up, it’s the width of a normal trailer. Next time you see a driving scene in an older production, look to see where the center lane marks are in the background. Process trailers are still in use, but these days there are a lot of very clever car mounted rigs.

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How Do You Spell, Overdone?

How Do You Spell, Overdone?

This wall of 8 cameras is mounted on a Chapman Electra crane for a walking shot of two actors. This would require 8 cameramen using robotic controls to get the shots. After a blow to the schedule, budget and the DOP’s ego, the idea was scrubbed.

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Giddy Up…Uh, Horse?

Giddy Up…Uh, Horse?

Charles Bronson is seen here astride his trusty steed, ‘Stand In’ on an unknown western shoot. ‘Stand In’ may not be much to look at, but he can go up to 70 mph and is equipped with airbags and seat belts. It takes great acting skill to not look a little embarrassed while riding ‘Stand In’.

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Bridge to Captain Pike? It could have been!

Bridge to Captain Pike?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4crko7wIbpw
It could have been! In a very unusual twist, NBC ordered a second pilot of Star Trek. In the original, the captain’s name was Christopher Pike and was played by Jeff Hunter. In the second pilot, James T Kirk appeared as William Shatner was now free from obligations that prevented him from doing the first pilot. Creator Gene Roddenberry shows us some rare footage and tells the story. Below is the original Enterprise model being readied for the second pilot.

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Law & Order: A Quick Look Behind The Scenes


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…

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


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

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


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


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

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

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!

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!

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!

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

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

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…


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


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

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

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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