Monday, July 21, 2014

TV CONFIDENTIAL Archives: Show No. 239 with guests Barry Livingston and Dwayne Epstein

TV CONFIDENTIALShow No. 239 with guests Barry Livingston and Dwayne Epstein


Original Airdate: Week of July 9-14, 2014


First hour: Ed welcomes Dwayne Epstein, author of Lee Marvin: Point Blank, a comprehensive biography that reveals the sensitive soul that was behind the persona of the Academy Award-winning actor. 

Second hour: Ed welcomes actor Barry Livingston, Ernie Douglas on My Three Sons and one of the cast members of Jersey Boys, the critically acclaimed biopic directed by Clint Eastwood about Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. Also in this hour: Greg Ehrbar on Shout! Factory’s recent DVD release of The Bobby Darin Show, and Tony Figueroa and Donna Allen with a look at the legislation that was passed following the 1989 stalking-related murder of actress Rebecca Schaeffer.

This Week in Television History: July 2014 PART IV


Listen to me on TV CONFIDENTIAL:


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.

July 21, 1924
Jesse Donald "Don" Knotts is born. 
The comedic actor best known for his portrayal of Barney Fife on the 1960s television sitcom The Andy Griffith Show (a role which earned him five Emmy Awards), 

and as landlord Ralph Furley on the television sitcom Three’s Company in the 1980s.

July 23, 1984
Miss America 1984 Vanessa Williams (The first black Miss America) resigns ten months into her reign.

She received an anonymous phone call stating that nude photos of her taken by photographer Tom Chiapel prior to her pageant days had surfaced. Williams believed the photographs were private and had been destroyed. Days later, Bob Guccione, the publisher of Penthouse, announced that his magazine would publish the photos in their September 1984 issue, and paid Chiapel for the rights to them without Williams' consent. After days of media frenzy and sponsors threatening to pull out of the upcoming 1985 pageant, Williams felt pressured by Miss America Pageant officials to resign.

The title subsequently went to first-runner up, African-American Suzette Charles. In early September 1984, Williams filed a $500 million lawsuit against Chiapel and Guccione. According to a Williams family representative, she eventually dropped the suit to avoid further legal battles choosing to move on with her life. Williams is quoted as saying "the best revenge is success."
Although she resigned from fulfilling the duties of a current Miss America, she was allowed to keep the bejeweled crown and scholarship money and is officially recognized by the Miss America Organization today as "Miss America 1984" and Suzette Charles as "Miss America 1984b."
To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was".





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Tony Figueroa

Sunday, July 20, 2014

James Garner

"When I started working, I didn't have a clue what I was doing, in that I was just wandering around, hoping that I could succeed. Then after I got a little under my belt, it took me about 25 years to feel like I knew what I was doing"
- James Garner 

James Garner died yesterday. He was born James Scott Bumgarner on April 7, 1928. Garner was one of the first Hollywood actors to excel in both film and television. He starred in several television series spanning a career of more than five decades. These included his popular roles as Bret Maverick in the 1950s western-comedy series, Maverick, and Jim Rockford in the 1970s detective dramaThe Rockford Files. He starred in more than fifty films, including The Great Escape (1963), Paddy Chayefsky's The Americanization of Emily (1964), Grand Prix (1966), Blake EdwardsVictor Victoria(1982), Murphy's Romance (1985), for which he received an Academy Award nomination, and The Notebook (2004). 
Garner, the youngest of three children, was born in Norman, Oklahoma, the son of Mildred Scott (née Meek) and Weldon Warren Bumgarner, a carpet layer. His two older brothers were actor Jack Garner (1926–2011) and Charles Bumgarner, a school administrator who died in 1984. His family was Methodist. His mother, who was of part Cherokee descent, died when he was five years old. After their mother's death, Garner and his brothers were sent to live with relatives. Garner was reunited with his family in 1934, when Weldon remarried.
Garner grew to hate his stepmother, Wilma, who beat all three boys, especially young James. When he was fourteen, Garner finally had enough of his "wicked stepmother" and after a particularly heated battle, she left for good. James' brother Jack commented, "She was a damn no-good woman". Garner stated that his stepmother punished him by forcing him to wear a dress in public and that he finally engaged in a physical fight with her, knocking her down and choking her to keep her from killing him in retaliation. This incident ended the marriage.

Shortly after the breakup of the marriage, Weldon Bumgarner moved to Los Angeles, while Garner and his brothers remained in Norman. After working at several jobs he disliked, at sixteen Garner joined the United States Merchant Marine near the end of World War II. He fared well in the work and with shipmates, but suffered from chronic seasickness. At seventeen, he joined his father in Los Angeles and enrolled at Hollywood High School, where he was voted the most popular student. A high school gym teacher recommended him for a job modeling Jantzen bathing suits. It paid well,$25 an hour, but in his first interview for the Archives of American Television, he said he hated modeling and soon quit and returned to Norman. There, he played football and basketball, as well as competed on the track and golf teams, for Norman High School. He never graduated from high school, explaining in a 1976 Good Housekeeping magazine interview: "I was a terrible student and I never actually graduated from high school, but I got my diploma in the Army."

Later, he joined the National Guard serving seven months in the United States. He then went to Korea for 14 months in the Regular Army, serving in the 5th Regimental Combat Team in the Korean War. He was wounded twice, first in the face and hand from shrapnel fire from a mortar round, and second on April 23, 1951 in the buttocks from friendly fire from U.S. fighter jets as he dove headfirst into a foxhole. Garner was awarded the purple heart in Korea for the first injury. For the second wound, he received a second Purple Heart (eligibility requirement: "As the result of friendly fire while actively engaging the enemy"), although Garner received the medal in 1983, 32 years after his injury. Garner was a self-described "scrounger" for his company in Korea, a role he later played in The Great Escape and The Americanization of Emily.

In 1954 a friend, Paul Gregory, whom Garner had met while attending Hollywood High School, persuaded Garner to take a non-speaking role in the Broadway production of The Caine Mutiny Court Martial, where he was able to study actor Henry Fonda night after night. Garner subsequently moved to television commercials and eventually to television roles. His first movie appearances were in The Girl He Left Behind and Toward the Unknown in 1956.

He changed his last name from Bumgarner to Garner after the studio had credited him as "James Garner" without permission. He then legally changed it upon the birth of his first child, when he decided she had too many names. His brother Jack also had an acting career and changed his surname to Garner, too. His non-actor brother, Charlie, kept the Bumgarner surname.

Garner was closely advised by financial adviser Irving Leonard, who also advised Clint Eastwood in the late 1950s and 1960s. After several feature film roles, including Sayonara with Marlon Brando, Garner got his big break playing the role of professional gambler Bret Maverick in the comedy Western series Maverick from 1957 to 1960. Garner was earlier considered for the lead role in another Warner Brothers Western series, Cheyenne, but that role went to Clint Walker because the casting director couldn't reach Garner in time (according to Garner's autobiography), and Garner wound up playing an Army officer in the pilot instead.



The show almost immediately made Garner a household name. Various actors had recurring roles as Maverick foils, including Efrem Zimbalist, Jr as "Dandy Jim Buckley," Richard Long as "Gentleman Jack Darby," Leo Gordon as "Big Mike McComb," and Diane Brewster as "Samantha Crawford" (Huggins' mother's maiden name) while the series veered effortlessly from comedy to adventure and back again. The relationship with Huggins, the creator and original producer of Maverick, would later pay dividends for Garner.

Garner was the lone star of Maverick for the first seven episodes but production demands forced the studio, Warner Brothers, to create a Maverick brother, Bart, played by Jack Kelly. This allowed two production units to film different story lines and episodes simultaneously. The series also featured popular cross-over episodes featuring both Maverick brothers, including the famous "Shady Deal at Sunny Acres", upon which the first half of the 1973 movie The Sting appears to be based, according to Roy HugginsArchive of American Television interview. Garner and Clint Eastwood staged an epic fistfight in an episode entitled "Duel at Sundown", in which Eastwood plays a vicious gunslinger. Critics were positive about Garner and Jack Kelly's chemistry, but Garner quit the series in the third season because of a dispute with Warner Brothers.Only Garner and series creator Roy Huggins thought Maverick could compete with The Ed Sullivan Show and The Steve Allen Show. The show almost immediately made Garner a household name. Various actors had recurring roles as Maverick foils, including Efrem Zimbalist, Jr as "Dandy Jim Buckley," Richard Long as "Gentleman Jack Darby," Leo Gordon as "Big Mike McComb," and Diane Brewster as "Samantha Crawford" (Huggins' mother's maiden name) while the series veered effortlessly from comedy to adventure and back again. The relationship with Huggins, the creator and original producer of Maverick, would later pay dividends for Garner.
The studio attempted to replace Garner's character with a Maverick cousin who had lived in Britain long enough to pick up an English accent, played by Roger Moore, but Moore quit the series after filming only 14 episodes as Beau Maverick. Warner Brothers also dressed Robert Colbert, a Garner look-alike, in Bret Maverick's outfit and called the character Brent, but Brent Maverick did not have a chance to catch on with viewers since Colbert made only two episodes toward the end of the season, leaving the rest of the series run to Kelly (alternating with reruns of episodes with Garner).
When Charlton Heston turned down the lead role in Darby's Rangers before Garner's departure from Maverick, Garner was selected and performed well in the role. As a result of Garner's performance in Darby's Rangers, coupled with his Maverick popularity, Warner Brothers subsequently gave him lead roles in other films, such as Up Periscope and Cash McCall.

The Rockford Files aired on NBC between September 13, 1974 and January 10, 1980. It has remained in regular syndication to the present day. The show stars James Garner as Los Angeles-based private investigator Jim Rockford and features Noah Beery,
Jr. as his father, a retired truck driver.
The show was created by Roy Huggins and Stephen J.
Cannell
. Huggins had created the television show Maverick (1957–1962), which had also starred Garner, and he wanted to try to recapture that magic in a "modern day" detective
setting. He teamed with Cannell, who had written for Jack Webb productions such as Adam-12 and Chase (1973–1974, NBC), to create Rockford.

The show was credited as "A Public Arts/Roy Huggins Production" along with Universal Studios and in association with Cherokee Productions. Cherokee was the name of Garner's company, which he ran with partners Meta Rosenberg and Juanita Bartlett, who doubled as story editor during most of Rockford's run.

Jim Rockford's Yellow Pages ad at the Universal Studios Property Warehouse
The series theme by composers Mike Post and Pete Carpenter was released as a single and went to #10 on the Billboard Hot 100, remaining on the chart for 16 weeks. and won a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement for 1975.

In 2002, The Rockford Files was ranked #39 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.

Producers Roy Huggins and Stephen J. Cannell devised the main character to be a rather significant departure from typical television detectives of the time, essentially Maverick as a modern detective. Rockford had served time in California's San Quentin Prison in the 1960s due to a wrongful conviction. After five years, he received a pardon. His infrequent jobs as a private investigator barely allow him to maintain his dilapidated mobile home (which doubles as his office) in a parking lot on the beaches of Malibu, California.

The show's title sequence began with someone leaving a message on Rockford's answering machine, which were still novel in 1974. A different message was heard in each episode. These frequently had to do with creditors to whom Rockford owed money, or deadbeat clients who owed money to him. They were usually unrelated to the rest of the plot. As the series went on, this gimmick became a burden for the show's writers, who had to come up with a different joke every week. Rockford wears low-budget "off the rack" clothing and does his best to avoid fights. He rarely carries his Colt Detective Special revolver, for which he does not have a permit, preferring to talk his way out of trouble. He works on cold cases, missing persons investigations, and low-budget insurance scams, and he repeatedly states in the series that he does not handle "open cases" to avoid trouble with the police.
In early episodes of the show's first season, Rockford's trailer is located in a parking lot alongside the highway (address 2354 Pacific Coast Highway) and near the ocean; for the rest of the series, the trailer is at Paradise Cove (address 29 Cove Road), adjacent to a pier and a restaurant ("The Sand Castle", now known as the "Paradise Cove Beach Cafe").
In the series of television movies from 1994 to 1999, Rockford is still living in a trailer, but it has been extensively enlarged.
For his contribution to the film and television industry, Garner received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (at 6927 Hollywood Boulevard). In 1990, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He was also inducted into the Television Hall of Fame that same year. In February 2005, he received the Screen Actors Guild's Lifetime Achievement Award. He was also nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role that year, for The Notebook. When Morgan Freeman won that prize for his work in Million Dollar Baby, he led the audience in a sing-along of the original Maverick theme song, written by David Buttolph and Paul Francis Webster. In 2010, the Television Critics Association gave Garner its annual Career Achievement Award.

On April 21, 2006, a 10-foot-tall (3.0 m) bronze statue of Garner as Bret Maverick was unveiled in Garner's hometown of Norman, Oklahoma, with Garner present at the ceremony.

Good Night Mr. Garner

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Tony Figueroa