Star Trek II: the opera.
As always, the further we go back in Hollywood history,
the more that fact and legend become intertwined.
It's hard to say where the truth really lies.
September 21, 2001
America: A Tribute to Heroes was shown on 35 separate broadcast and cable networks simultaneously.
The telethon raised $150 million in pledges to benefit families of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001. The pledges were made from September 21 through September 24, 2001.
September 22, 1986
The TV show ALF debuted on NBC.
ALF is an American science fiction sitcom that aired on NBC from September 22, 1986 to March 24, 1990. It was the first television series to be presented in Dolby Surround.
The title character is Gordon Shumway, a friendly extraterrestrial nicknamed ALF (an acronym for Alien Life Form), who crash lands in the garage of the suburban middle-class Tanner family. The series stars Max Wrightas father Willie Tanner, Anne Schedeen as mother Kate Tanner, and Andrea Elson and Benji Gregory as their children, Lynn and Brian Tanner. ALF was performed by puppeteer/creator Paul Fusco.
Produced by Alien Productions, ALF originally ran for four seasons and produced 99 episodes, including three one-hour episodes that were divided into two parts for syndication totaling 102 episodes.
September 23, 1951
The first transcontinental telecast was received on the west coast. The show Crusade for Freedom was broadcast by CBS-TV from New York.
September 23, 1956
Mickey Dolenz began his television career in NBC's Circus Boy series.
He later became a member of the Monkees.
September 23, 1961
Weekly TV movie program Saturday Night at the Movies debuts on NBC, starting with the 1953 film How to Marry a Millionaire.
The program was the first major network initiative to broadcast recent movies on the air. Although movies from the 1930s and '40s had appeared on TV, the networks had resisted showing more recent films. Until the 1960s, a fierce rivalry existed between the television and movie industries, and neither wanted to promote the other. However, with the success of Saturday Night at the Movies, relatively recent films became a staple of TV programming.
September 23, 1976
The first season of Black Sheep Squadron began on NBC under the name Baa Baa Black Sheep.
Baa Baa Black Sheep (later syndicated as Black Sheep Squadron) is a period military television series that aired on NBC from 1976 until 1978. Its premise was based on the experiences of United States Marine Corpsaviator Greg Boyington and his World War II "Black Sheep Squadron". The series was created and produced byStephen J. Cannell. The opening credits read: "In World War II, Marine Corps Major Greg 'Pappy' Boyington commanded a squadron of fighter pilots. They were a collection of misfits and screwballs who became the terrors of the South Pacific. They were known as the Black Sheep."
September 24, 1936
Muppet creator Jim Henson is born in Greenville, Mississippi.
Henson joined a puppet club in high school and used his skills to land a job at a local TV station between high school and college. His homemade puppets delighted audiences, and during his freshman year at the University of Maryland the TV station gave him his own five minute show, called Sam and Friends. The show ran twice a day, just before popular news show the Huntley-Brinkley Report and again before the Tonight Show with Steve Allen. Henson's program ran for eight years and won a local Emmy in 1958.
In 1955, Henson took an old green coat of his mother's, attached two halves of a ping-pong ball for eyes, and created a lizard-like character named Kermit, who later evolved into Kermit the Frog. Other familiar characters took shape on Sam and Friends, as Henson's Muppets multiplied. In 1957, Henson made the first of more than 300 TV commercials for Wilkins Coffee. In 1963 Rowlf the Dog became a regular on variety program The Jimmy Dean Show, which ran until 1966.
Henson showed an interest in filmmaking in the mid 1960s, making a short film called Timepiece in 1965, which was nominated for an Oscar. A few years later, he met Joan Ganz Cooney, a TV producer heading up a study of children and television at a seminar for educators in Boston. Ganz was formulating an idea for a kids' TV program she called The Preschool Educational Television Show, and she quickly persuaded Henson and his Muppets to join her. The show, with its new, snappier title, Sesame Street, was launched in 1969, and generations of children fell in love with Big Bird, Kermit the Frog, Ernie and Bert, Oscar the Grouch, Grover, Cookie Monster, and many other Henson creations.
After seven years of children's television, Henson wanted to explore more sophisticated possibilities for his Muppets. He shopped around an idea for a variety show starring Kermit, but none of the networks were interested. Undeterred, Henson created The Muppet Show as a syndicated series, which became the world's most watched TV show, with 235 million viewers in more than 100 countries. The program ran from 1976 to 1981 and won three Emmys. Meanwhile, the Muppets launched a movie career in 1979 with The Muppet Movie, followed by The Great Muppet Caper (1981) and The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984).
Other, less familiar Henson creatures appeared in The Dark Crystal (1982) and Labyrinth (1986) with David Bowie, as well as in two cable TV series, Fraggle Rock and The Ghost of Faffner Hall. His Saturday morning cartoon, Jim Henson's Muppet Babies, was launched in 1984 and won four Emmys. Henson died of pneumonia in 1990.
September 24, 1961
The Bullwinkle Show premiered in prime time on NBC-TV.
The show was originally on ABC in the afternoon as "Rocky and His Friends."
September 24, 1966
"Last Train to Clarksville" gives the made-for-TV Monkees a real-life pop hit
When producers Bert Schneider and Bob Rafelson conceived a situation comedy called The Monkees in 1965, they hoped to create a ratings success by blurring the line between pop music and television. Instead, they succeeded in obliterating that line entirely when the pop group that began as a wholly fictional creation went on to rival, however briefly, the success of its real-life inspiration, the Beatles. On this day in 1966, the made-for-television Monkees knocked down the fourth wall decisively when their first single, "Last Train To Clarksville" entered the Billboard Top 40.
"Last Train To Clarksville" was written by the team that was also responsible for the theme song of The Monkees, songwriters Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. Though Boyce and Hart had been working together in Los Angeles for several years before being asked to write and record the soundtrack for Schneider and Rafelson's A Hard Day's Night-inspired pilot, their biggest success to date had been in writing minor hits for Chubby Checker and Paul Revere and the Raiders and in being commissioned to write the theme song for Days Of Our Lives. Their association with The Monkees would end up launching Boyce and Hart on a moderately successful career as performers in the late 1960s and early 1970s. By far their best-known hits, however, were the ones they wrote for the Monkees, including "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" and "Last Train To Clarksville."
Just as producers Schneider and Rafelson had reached out to a pair of industry professionals to create the music for the pilot episode of The Monkees, they engaged numerous others to create the other memorable songs in the Monkees' catalog. Under the musical direction of Don Kirshner, The Monkees featured hits by some of the era's greatest songwriters, including Neil Diamond, who wrote "I'm A Believer" and "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" (both 1967) and the great husband-and-wife team of Gerry Goffin and Carole King, who wrote "Daydream Believer" (1967). Numerous other Monkees songs were written by such songwriting luminaries as Cynthia Mann and Barry Weill, Harry Nilsson and Carole Bayer Sager and Neil Sedaka.
By the time their third album was released, the real-life Monkees—Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork—had taken over creative control of their musical output, including taking on much of the songwriting. Although they would release seven more studio albums, none would contain hits as successful or memorable as the one that gave the group its breakthrough on September 24, 1966.
|Micky and Peter and the band play along with Davy's original vocals during the NYC stop of the 50th Anniversary tour.|
As always, the further we go back in Hollywood history,
the more that fact and legend become intertwined.
It's hard to say where the truth really lies.
September 12, 1966
The Monkees first aired
The series follows the adventures of four young men (the Monkees) trying to make a name for themselves as rock 'n roll singers. The show introduced a number of innovative new-wave film techniques to series television and won two Emmy Awards in 1967. The program ended on Labor Day 1968 at the finish of its second season and has received a long afterlife in Saturday morning repeats (CBS and ABC) and syndication, as well as overseas broadcasts.
In the early 1960s, aspiring filmmakers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider had formed Raybert Productions and were trying to get a foot in the door in Hollywood. Inspired by the Beatles' film A Hard Day's Night, the duo decided to develop a television series about a fictional rock 'n' roll group. In April, 1965, Raybert sold the series idea to Screen Gems, and by August, a pilot script titled "The Monkeys" was completed by Paul Mazursky andLarry Tucker. Rafelson has said that he had the idea for a TV series about a music group as early as 1960, but had a hard time interesting anyone in it until 1965, by which time rock and roll music was firmly entrenched in pop culture.
On September 8, 1965, trade publications Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter ran an ad seeking "Folk & Roll Musicians-Singers for acting roles in new TV series." As many as 400 hopefuls showed up to be considered as one of "4 insane boys." Fourteen actors from the audition pool were brought back for screen tests, and after audience research, Raybert chose their final four.
Micky Dolenz, son of screen actor George Dolenz, had prior screen experience (under the name "Mickey Braddock") as the 10-year-old star of the Circus Boy series in the 1950s. He was actively auditioning for pilots at the time and was told about the Raybert project by his agent.
Englishman Davy Jones was a former jockey who had achieved some initial success on the musical stage (appearing with the cast of Oliver! on The Ed Sullivan Show the night of the Beatles' live American debut). Already appearing in Columbia Pictures productions and recording for the Colpix record label, he had been identified in advance as a potential star for the series.
Texan Michael Nesmith, whose mother Bette Nesmith Graham had invented a correction fluid and founded the company that would become Liquid Paper, had served a brief stint in the U.S. Air Force and had also recorded for Colpix under the name "Michael Blessing." Nesmith was the only one of The Monkees who had come in based on seeing the trade magazine ad. He showed up to the audition with his laundry and impressed Rafelson and Schneider with his laid-back style and droll sense of humor. Nesmith also wore a woolen hat to keep his hair out of his eyes when he rode his motorcycle, leading to early promotional materials which nicknamed him "Wool Hat." The hat remained part of Nesmith's wardrobe, but the name was dropped after the pilot.
Rafelson and Schneider wanted the style of the series to reflect avant garde film techniques—such as improvisation, quick cuts, jump cuts, breaking the fourth wall, and free-flowing, loose narratives—then being pioneered by European film directors. Each episode would contain at least one musical "romp" which might have nothing to do with the storyline. In retrospect, these vignettes now look very much like music videos: short, self-contained films of songs in ways that echoed the Beatles' recent ventures into promotional films for their singles. They also believed strongly in the program's ability to appeal to young people, intentionally framing the kids as heroes and the adults as heavies.
Rafelson and Schneider hired novice director James Frawley to teach the four actors improvisational comedy. Each of the four was given a different personality to portray: Dolenz the funny one, Nesmith the smart and serious one, Tork the naive one, and Jones the cute one. Their characters were loosely based on their real selves, with the exception of Tork, who was actually a quiet intellectual. The character types also had much in common with the respective personalities of the Beatles, with Dolenz representing the madcap attitude of John Lennon, Nesmith affecting the deadpan seriousness of George Harrison, Tork depicting the odd-man-out quality of Ringo Starr, and Jones conveying the pin-up appeal of Paul McCartney.
A pilot episode was shot in San Diego and Los Angeles on a shoestring budget—in many scenes the Monkees wore their own clothes. Initial audience tests (which were just then being pioneered) produced very low responses.
To reduce noise on the set during filming, any of the four Monkees who was not needed in front of the cameras was locked into a converted meat locker. In DVD commentary, Tork noted that this had the added benefit of concealing any marijuana use that might be going on, although he admitted that he was the sole "serious 'head'" of the four of them. (In the 1980s, Tork gave up alcohol and marijuana use and has volunteered time to help people recovering from alcoholism.)
Due to the loosely scripted nature of the series, some episodes would come in too short for air. The producers decided to fill time with various "extras", including the Monkees' original screen tests and candid interviews with the group; these interviews usually lasted one minute, hence the frequent joke, "We're a minute short as usual," though the episode "Find The Monkees" featured a three-minute epilogue interview. Although the early episodes contained it, the show eventually bucked the trend of using a laugh track, which was standard practice at the time. Most of the episodes from Season 2 did not contain canned laughter, which NBC later cited as one of the reasons for cancelling the series.
September 13, 1976
The Muppet Show Premiered
Jim Henson's felt creations had two pilots in the preview two years, but it was not until '76 that the series took off. Many notable MeTV faces played host on the madcap variety show, from Jim Nabors on episode two to Florence Henderson on episode nine. Oh, and Lynda Carter had an awesome appearance, too. Check out nine MeTV stars who hosted The Muppet Show.
September 15, 1986
NBC aired the pilot episode of L.A. Law.
Created by Steven Bochco and Terry Louise Fisher, it contained many of Bochco's trademark features including an ensemble cast, large number of parallel storylines, social drama, and off-the-wall humor. It reflected the social and cultural ideologies of the 1980s and early 1990s, and many of the cases featured on the show dealt with hot-topic issues such as capital punishment, abortion, racism, gay rights, homophobia, sexual harassment, AIDS, and domestic violence. The series often also reflected social tensions between the wealthy senior lawyer protagonists and their less well-paid junior staff.
In addition to its main cast, L.A. Law was also well known for featuring then relatively unknown actors and actresses in guest starring roles, who later went on to greater success in film and television including: Don Cheadle, Jeffrey Tambor, Kathy Bates, David Schwimmer, Jay O. Sanders, James Avery, Gates McFadden,Bryan Cranston, C.C.H. Pounder, Kevin Spacey, Richard Schiff, Carrie-Anne Moss, William H. Macy, Stephen Root, Christian Slater, and Lucy Liu. Several episodes of the show also included celebrities such as Vanna White,Buddy Hackett and Mamie Van Doren appearing as themselves in cameo roles.
The show was popular with audiences and critics, and won 15 Emmy Awards throughout its run, four of which were for Outstanding Drama Series.
September 17, 1951
Cassandra Peterson is born.
The actress s best known for her on-screen horror hostess character Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. She gained fame on Los Angeles television station KHJ wearing a black, gothic, cleavage-enhancing gown as host of Movie Macabre, a weekly horror movie presentation. Her wickedly vampish appearance was offset by her comical character, quirky/quick-witted personality, and valley girl-type speech.
September 17, 1966
Mission: Impossible Premiered:
Interesting that Star Trek and Mission: Impossible were Desilu productions premiering so close together, and today they both continue to be major Hollywood franchises for Bad Robot Productions. The pilot is of note because the self-destructing message was delivered on a vinyl LP, not a tape. It was also the only episode to be written by creator Bruce Geller.
September 17, 1991
The first episode of "Home Improvement" aired on ABC.
The series centers on the Taylor family, which consists of Tim (Tim Allen), his wife Jill (Patricia Richardson) and their three children: the oldest child, Brad (Zachery Ty Bryan), the middle child Randy (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) and youngest child, Mark (Taran Noah Smith). The Taylors live in suburban Detroit, and have a neighbor named Wilson Wilson (Earl Hindman) who is often the go-to guy for solving the Taylors' problems.
Tim is a stereotypical American male, who loves power tools, cars and sports. In particular, he is an avid fan oflocal Detroit teams. In numerous instances Tim wears Lions, Pistons, and Tigers clothing, and many plots revolve around the teams. He is a former salesman for the fictional Binford Tool company, and is very much a cocky, overambitious, accident-prone know-it-all. Witty but flippant, Tim jokes around a lot, even at inappropriate times, much to the dismay of his wife. However, Tim can sometimes be serious when necessary. Jill, Tim's wife, is loving and sophisticated, but not exempt from dumb moves herself. in later seasons she returns to college to study psychology. Family life is boisterous for the Taylors with the two oldest children, Brad and Randy, tormenting the much younger Mark, all while continually testing and pestering each other. Such play happened especially throughout the first three seasons, and was revisited only occasionally until Jonathan Taylor Thomas left at the beginning of the eighth season. During the show's final season, Brad and Mark became much closer due to Randy's absence.
Brad, popular and athletic, was often the moving factor, who engaged before thinking, a tendency which regularly landed him in trouble. Randy, a year younger, was the comedian of the pack, known for his quick-thinking, wisecracks, and smart mouth. He had more common sense than Brad but was not immune to trouble. Mark was somewhat of a mama's boy, though later in the series (in the seventh season) he grew into a teenage outcast who dressed in black clothing. Meanwhile, Brad became interested in cars like his father and took up soccer. Randy joined the school drama club, and later the school newspaper; in the eighth season, he left for Costa Rica.
Each episode includes Tim's own Binford-sponsored home improvement show, called Tool Time, a "meta-program," or show-within-a-show. In hosting this show, Tim is joined by his friend and mild-mannered assistant Al Borland (Richard Karn), and a "Tool Time girl" — first Lisa (Pamela Anderson) and later Heidi (Debbe Dunning) — whose main duty is to introduce the pair at the beginning of the show with the line "Does everybody know what time it is?" The Tool Time girl also assists Tim and Al during the show by bringing them tools.
Although revealed to be an excellent salesman and TV personality, Tim is spectacularly accident prone as a handyman, often causing massive disasters on and off the set, to the consternation of his co-workers and family. Many Tool Time viewers assume that the accidents on the show are done on purpose, to demonstrate the consequences of using tools improperly. Many of Tim's accidents are caused by his devices being used in an unorthodox or overpowered manner, designed to illustrate his mantra "More power!". This popular catchphrase would not be uttered after Home Improvement's seventh season, until Tim's last line in the series finale.
Tool Time was conceived as a parody of the PBS home-improvement show This Old House. Tim and Al are caricatures of the two principal cast members of This Old House, host Bob Vila and master carpenter Norm Abram. Al Borland has a beard and always wears plaid shirts when taping an episode, reflecting Norm Abram's appearance on This Old House. Bob Vila appeared as a guest star on several episodes of Home Improvement, while Tim Allen and Pamela Anderson both appeared on Bob Vila's show Home Again.
The Tool Time theme music, an early 1960s-style saxophone-dominated instrumental rock tune, was sometimes used as the closing theme music for Home Improvement, especially when behind the credits were running the blooper scenes that took place during the taping of a Tool Time segment.