Thursday, December 31, 2009

Your New Years Eve Mental Sorbet: Match Game: New Year's Eve 1974!

Here is another "Mental Sorbet" that we could use to momentarily forget about those things that leave a bad taste in our mouths.


Stay Tuned HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!


Tony Figueroa

Monday, December 28, 2009

This week in Television History: December 2009 PART V

Listen to me on TV CONFIDENTIAL with Ed Robertson and Frankie Montiforte Broadcast LIVE every other Monday at 10pm ET, 7pm PT on Shokus Internet Radio. The program will then be repeated Tuesday thru Sunday at the same time (10pm ET, 7pm PT) on Shokus Radio for the next two weeks, and then will be posted on line at our archives page at TVConfidential.net.

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.

December 29, 1936
Mary Tyler Moore is born in Brooklyn.



Moore's family moved to Los Angeles when she was nine. After graduating from high school, Moore married a CBS sales rep and later became interested in television. She appeared in TV commercials and small TV roles until 1961, when she landed the part of Dick Van Dyke's wife, Laura, on The Dick Van Dyke Show. In 1970, Moore landed her own show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which became one of the most popular situation comedies of the 1970s. Running from 1970 to 1977, the show spawned numerous spin-offs, including Rhoda, Phyllis, and Lou Grant, all of which were produced by MTM Productions, Moore's company.

December 30, 1959
Comedian Tracey Ullman is born in Hackbridge, England.




She attended theater school from ages 12 to 16. At age 21, she began performing with an avant-garde drama group, the Royal Court Theater, where she won rave reviews. She landed her own U.S. TV show in 1987. The Emmy-winning Tracey Ullman Show ran from 1987 to 1990. The show featured short skits starring Ullman and a regular cast of players, and also aired short animated segments-one was an offbeat cartoon about underachieving 10-year-old named Bart Simpson and his oddball family. The cartoon was later spun off into its own hit show, The Simpsons.

December 30, 1985
Rick Nelson is killed in a plane crash.




Nelson got his start by starring in his parents' TV series, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.
Nelson was born in 1940 to famous parents: His father, Ozzie Nelson, was a bandleader, and his mother, Harriet, was a singer and actress. When Ricky was four years old, his parents launched their radio series, playing themselves, with actors playing their young sons. Five years later, Ricky and his older brother, David, suggested that they, like their parents, play themselves on the series. In 1952, the series moved to TV.
Nelson attended Hollywood High School and showed little interest in music until his girlfriend raved to him about Elvis. He boasted that he was about to cut a record himself. His father let him cut a demo with his orchestra; Nelson claimed he chose to cover Fats Domino's "I'm Walkin'" because it relied heavily on the two guitar chords Nelson knew how to play.
When Nelson played the song on the TV series, he became an overnight sensation. His first album, released in November 1957, topped the Billboard charts, and Nelson became one of the best-selling male singers of the 1950s, with 53 Hot 100 hits, 17 in the Top 10. Nelson later changed his name from Ricky to Rick. He also appeared in several movies, including Rio Bravo with John Wayne and Dean Martin in 1959 and The Wackiest Ship in the Army in 1960.
After Ozzie and Harriet went off the air in 1966, Nelson's music career fizzled until he discovered the emerging style of country rock. On two albums, he covered country material and scored a few hits in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Although he would never be a superstar again, he continued touring aggressively, performing more than 200 nights a year. He put together a new band in 1985 and signed a new record deal, but on December 31, en route to a concert in Texas, he died in a plane crash at age 45. The last song he performed live was a cover of "Rave On" by Buddy Holly, who also died in a plane crash.


January 1, 1951
The Zenith Radio Corporation of Chicago demonstrates the first pay television system.
The company sent movies over the airway via scrambled signals, and the 300 families who participated in the test could send telephone signals to decode the movies for $1 each. Three movies were shown in the demonstration: April Showers with Jack Carson, Welcome Stranger with Bing Crosby, and Homecoming with Clark Gable and Lana Turner. During the four-week test, test families ordered more than 2,600 movies.
Simple though it seems, putting movies on TV at all, let alone sending them over the phone, was a technically complex proposition taking years to come to fruition. A motion picture presented 24 frames per second-a rate that created an annoying flicker on TV. The earliest attempts to broadcast movies on TV took place in 1928 and included an extremely blurry hockey game and an excerpt from the movie The Taming of the Shrew. Improvements in technology eventually led to the regular broadcasting of movies on TV.
Despite Zenith's experiments with movies-by-phone, pay movies didn't become popular until later in the century, following the spread of cable TV in the 1960s and '70s. Although cable TV had been created in the late 1940s to give rural households better television reception, it wasn't until the 1960s, when cable became widely available in urban areas, that cable companies began introducing their own networks accessible only to subscribers.
In 1975, cable networks began using satellites to distribute their programming to heavily regulated local cable operators. In the late 1980s and early '90s, the size of the cable industry exploded, and many companies offered more than 100 channels to their clients. Now, more than 10,000 cable systems operate throughout the United States. Their specialized programming features everything from foreign news and shopping clubs to sports coverage and classic movies. Cable companies still also offer an array of pay-per-view movies accessible with a touch of the customer's remote control.

January 2, 1990
Alan Hale Jr., the Skipper on Gilligan's Island, dies of cancer at age 68.


Gilligan's Island
ran from 1964 to 1967, then aired in reruns for decades. The characters were resurrected in three TV movies in 1978, 1979, and 1981.

January 3, 1949
Colgate sponsors the early anthology series, Colgate Theater.


Like most dramatic programming at the time, the show consisted of weekly plays and/or scripts adapted for television. Among many other stories, the show produced two of the earliest TV adaptations of radio programs: Vic and Sade and Mr. and Mrs. North.

January 3, 1952
Dragnet debuts, launching a long legacy of realistic police drama on TV.

Dragnet, which began as a popular radio program in 1949, boosted the popularity of the series format on TV.
Until Dragnet's TV debut, variety shows and comedy hours had dominated prime time programming. Most television drama appeared on hour-long anthology shows like Kraft Television Theater, featuring unrelated stories and different casts every week. In fact, Dragnet itself first appeared on TV as a drama on an anthology show called Chesterfield Sound-Off Time in December 1951.
The brainchild of actor-director Jack Webb--who starred as Sgt. Joe Friday--Dragnet was one of the first series to be filmed in Hollywood, not New York. Webb narrated the shows in a deadpan, documentary style, turning "just the facts, ma'am" into a national catchphrase. Barton Yarborough, a cast member in the radio series, played Friday's sidekick Sgt. Ben Romero on TV but died of a heart attack shortly after the first telecast. Over the years, Friday had three different sidekick characters, played by Barney Phillips, Herb Ellis, Ben Alexander, and Harry Morgan.
Episodes were based on real cases from the Los Angeles Police Department, and each half-hour segment concluded with the capture of the perpetrator, followed by a short update on what happened at the suspect's trial. The show inspired two hit records in 1953, one based on the show's familar "dum-de-dum-dum" theme music. The other was a novelty song called "St. George and the Dragonet," which spoofed the show's opening monologue.
During Dragnet's first year, the show ran every other Thursday, then ran weekly until it ended in the fall of 1959. The show was resurrected in 1967 under the name Dragnet '67 and ran for another two years, dropping its emphasis on high-intensity crime to focus on citizens in distress and community service. In 1987, Dragnet was revived again, as a spoof, in a feature film starring Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks. The TV show reappeared two years later as a syndicated series, airing in the 1989-90 season in New York and Los Angeles only, then nationally syndicated the following season.

To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was".

Stay Tuned


Tony Figueroa

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy Holidays from TV CONFIDENTIAL

Join us as we play highlights from our favorite programs of 2009 on the next edition of TV CONFIDENTIAL, premiering Monday, Dec. 28 at 10pm ET, 7pm PT on Shokus Internet Radio, with a rebroadcast Tuesday, Dec. 29 at 11pm ET, 8pm PT on Share-a-Vision Radio, KSAV.org.

Tony Figueroa will also lead us through a special year-end edition of This Week in TV History. All this, plus commentaries by David Krell, and more. Best wishes to you and yours for the holidays and beyond, and thanks for listening.
TV CONFIDENTIAL with Ed Robertson and Frankie MontiforteMon-Sun 10pm ET, 7pm PT Shokus Internet Radio Every other Tuesday at 11pm ET, 8pm PTShare-a-Vision Radio, KSAV.orgwww.tvconfidential.netblog.tvconfidential.netAlso available as a podcast via iTunes and FeedBurner

Saturday, December 26, 2009

TV Confidential Archives: Dec. 14, 2009

Dec. 14, 2009 Television writer Paul Robert Coyle (The Streets of San Francisco, Barnaby Jones, Xena: Warrior Princess, The Dead Zone) joins Ed and Frankie in the first hour to discuss his work with Quinn Martin and the legacy of QM Productions. Then in the second hour, David Krell and Tony Figueroa join Ed, Frankie and Paul for a look back at the year in television: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Your Christmas Day Mental Sorbet: Jose Feliciano sings Feliz Navidad

Here is another "Mental Sorbet" that we could use to momentarily forget about those things that leave a bad taste in our mouths.


Feliz Navidad is a Christmas song written in 1970 by the Puerto Rican singer-songwriter José Feliciano. With its simple Spanish chorus (the traditional Christmas/New Year greeting, "Feliz Navidad, próspero año y felicidad" or "Merry Christmas, prosperous year and happiness") and equally simple English verse ("I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart"), it has become a classic Christmas pop song in the United States, Canada and throughout the Spanish-speaking world.


Feliciano's version of "Feliz Navidad" (in which he plays both an acoustic guitar and a Puerto Rican cuatro) is one of the most downloaded and aired Christmas songs in the United States and Canada. It was also recognized by ASCAP as one of the top 25 most played and recorded Christmas songs around the world.
The Classics never go out of style.


Stay Tuned and
Feliz Navidad

Tony Figueroa

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Your Christmas Eve Mental Sorbet: A Charlie Brown Christmas

Here is another "Mental Sorbet" that we could use to momentarily forget about those things that leave a bad taste in our mouths.

A Charlie Brown Christmas is the first prime-time animated TV specials based upon the comic strip Peanuts, by Charles M. Schulz. It was produced and directed by former Warner Bros. and UPA animator Bill Meléndez, who also supplied the voice for the character of Snoopy. Initially sponsored by Coca-Cola, the special aired on CBS from its debut in 1965 through 2000, and has aired on ABC since 2001. For many years it aired only annually, but is now telecast at least twice during the Christmas season. The special has been honored with both an Emmy and Peabody award.

Network executives were not at all keen on several aspects of the show, forcing Schulz and Melendez to wage some serious battles to preserve their vision. The executives did not want to have Linus reciting the story of the birth of Christ from the Gospel of Luke; the network orthodoxy of the time assumed that viewers would not want to sit through passages of the Authorised Version—commonly called the King James Version—of the Bible. Charlie Brown begins to wonder if he really knows what Christmas is about, loudly asking in despair. Linus quietly says he can tell him, and walks to center stage to make his point. Under a spotlight, Linus quotes Scripture, particularly the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke, verses 8 through 14

"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'"
Charlie Brown now realizes he does not have to let commercialism ruin his Christmas. With a newly found sense of inspiration, he quietly picks up the little tree and walks out of the auditorium, intending to take the tree home to decorate and show the others it will work in the play. A story reported on the Whoopi Goldberg-hosted version of the making of the program (see below) that Charles Schulz was adamant about keeping this scene in, remarking that "If we don't tell the true meaning of Christmas, who will?"

Another complaint was the absence of a laugh track, a common element of children's cartoons at the time. Schulz maintained that the audience should be able to enjoy the show at their own pace, without being cued when to laugh. (CBS did create a version of the show with the laugh track added, just in case Schulz changed his mind. This version remains unavailable, though unauthorized copies have appeared on YouTube.)

A third complaint was the use of children to do the voice acting, instead of employing adult actors. Finally, the executives thought that the jazz soundtrack by Vince Guaraldi would not work well for a children's program. When executives saw the final product, they were horrified and believed the special would be a complete flop.

Stay Tuned and Merry Christmas


Tony Figueroa

Monday, December 21, 2009

This week in Television History: December 2009 PART IV

Listen to me on TV CONFIDENTIAL with Ed Robertson and Frankie Montiforte Broadcast LIVE every other Monday at 10pm ET, 7pm PT on Shokus Internet Radio. The program will then be repeated Tuesday thru Sunday at the same time (10pm ET, 7pm PT) on Shokus Radio for the next two weeks, and then will be posted on line at our archives page at TVConfidential.net.

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.

December 23, 1966
How The Grinch Stole Christmas priemered.

The classic Dr. Seuss Christmas story combined with the animation of Chuck Jones. Horror icon Boris Karloff supplies the voice of the Grinch, who plans on spitefully ruining Christmas for the town of Whoville by stealing all the presents. Watched regularly every holiday season and beloved by children and cynical adults alike, this animated gem is just that and more. The story is from the book by Dr. Seuss. Thurl Ravenscroft (of "Tony the Tiger" breakfast commercial fame) provides the memorable bass singing voice for the tune "You're a Mean One, Mister Grinch."

December 24, 1948
Perry Como Show debuts.

Perry Como launches his long-running TV variety show. At first, the show was simply a TV broadcast of Como's musical-variety radio program and lasted just 15 minutes. Gradually, though, the program grew into its new medium. The show grew to a half-hour, then a full hour in 1955. The show ran until 1963.
Como was born in 1912 in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. As a teenager, he worked as a barber but began touring with bands as a young man. By the 1940s, he was releasing a string of hit recordings, starting with "Long Ago and Far Away" in 1944. Between 1940 and 1955, he was second only to Bing Crosby in the number of hits released-including 42 Top 10 hits by 1958. Among his chart-toppers were "Prisoner of Love," "Surrender," and "Chi-Baba, Chi-Baba."

December 24, 1953
Dragnet becomes the first network series with a regular sponsor.

Fatima cigarettes signs on to back the show. Dragnet had already gained popularity on the radio, where it debuted in 1949, and quickly gained a loyal audience on TV as well. The program was one of the first dramatic series in a medium that had been dominated to that point by anthology shows.

December 25, 1995
Actor and singer Dean Martin dies at the age of 78.

Martin was born Dino Paul Crocetti in Steubenville, Ohio, in 1917. After working as a prizefighter and a steelworker, Martin started a nightclub act. In 1946, he teamed up with comedian Jerry Lewis, and they became one of the most successful comedy duos of all time. A hit with live audiences and on television, Lewis and Martin made 16 movies together over 10 years, starting with My Friend Irma in 1949. After the duo split up, Martin launched his own TV variety show, which ran from 1965 to 1974. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Martin teamed up with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop to perform in Las Vegas. The group, known as the Rat Pack, made several movies together in the early 1960s, including Ocean's Eleven (1960), Sergeants Three (1962), and Robin and the Seven Hoods (1964).

December 26, 1974
Jack Benny dies of cancer.

Jack Benny was born Benjamin Kubelsky in 1894. His father, a Lithuanian immigrant, ran a saloon in Waukegan, Illinois, near Chicago. Benny began playing violin at age six and continued through high school. He began touring on the vaudeville circuit in 1917. In 1918, he joined the navy and was assigned to entertain the troops with his music but soon discovered a flair for comedy as well. After World War I, Benny returned to vaudeville as a comedian and became a top act in the 1920s. In 1927, he married an actress named Sadye Marks; the couple stayed together until Benny's death in 1974.
Benny's success in vaudeville soon won him attention from Hollywood, where he made his film debut in Hollywood Revue of 1929. Over the years, he won larger roles, notably in Charlie's Aunt (1941) and To Be or Not to Be (1942). But movies were only a sideline for Benny, whose preferred medium was radio.
In March 1932, then-newspaper columnist Ed Sullivan, dabbling in radio, asked Benny to do an on-air interview. Benny reluctantly agreed. His comedy, though, was so successful that Benny was offered his own show almost immediately, which debuted just a few months later. At first a mostly musical show, with a few minutes of Benny's comedy during interludes, the show evolved to become mostly comedy, incorporating well- developed skits and regular characters. On the show, Benny portrayed himself as a vain egomaniac and a notorious pinchpenny who refused to replace his (very noisy) antique car (1923 Maxwell) and kept his money in a closely guarded vault. His regulars included his real-life wife, whose character, Mary Livingstone, deflated Benny's ego at every opportunity; Mel Blanc, who used his famous voice to play Benny's noisy car, his exasperated French violin teacher, and other characters; and Eddie Andersen, one of radio's first African American stars, who played Benny's long-suffering valet, Rochester Van Jones. The program ran until 1955.

In the 1950s, Benny began experimenting with television, making several specials. Starting in 1952, The Jack Benny Show aired regularly, at first once every four weeks, then every other week, then finally every week from 1960 to 1965. Benny was as popular on TV as on radio. Despite the stingy skinflint image he cultivated on the air, Benny was known for his generosity and modesty in real life.

To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was".

Stay Tuned


Tony Figueroa

Friday, December 18, 2009

Your Mental Sorbet: Frosty the Snowman

Here is another "Mental Sorbet" that we could use to momentarily forget about those things that leave a bad taste in our mouths.

In 1969, the Rankin-Bass company produced a thirty-minute animated television special of Frosty the Snowman that featured the voices of comedians Jimmy Durante as narrator and Jackie Vernon as the title character. Two sequels were produced, Frosty's Winter Wonderland (based upon the song Winter Wonderland) in 1976 and Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July in 1979, followed by The Legend of Frosty the Snowman many years later, in 2005. A derivative work, Frosty Returns, was broadcast on CBS in 1992.

Stay Tuned


Tony Figueroa

Monday, December 14, 2009

This week in Television History: December 2009 PART III

Listen to me on TV CONFIDENTIAL with Ed Robertson and Frankie Montiforte Broadcast LIVE every other Monday at 10pm ET, 7pm PT on Shokus Internet Radio. The program will then be repeated Tuesday thru Sunday at the same time (10pm ET, 7pm PT) on Shokus Radio for the next two weeks, and then will be posted on line at our archives page at TVConfidential.net.

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.

December 14, 1969
Frosty the Snowman first aired on December 14, 1969 on CBS.

The show, based on the popular song of the same title, was produced for television by Rankin/Bass and featured the voices of comedians Jimmy Durante as narrator and Jackie Vernon as the title character. This special marked the first use of traditional cel animation for Rankin/Bass. Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass wanted to give the show and its characters the look of a Christmas card, so Paul Coker, Jr., a greeting card and MAD Magazine artist, was hired to do the character and background drawings. The actual animation work was done in Japan, by Osamu Tezuka's studio, Mushi Production. Rankin/Bass veteran writer Romeo Muller adapted and expanded the story for television as he had done with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in 1964.

December 14, 1999
Cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, creator of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the Peanuts gang, announces his retirement after more than 50 years of drawing the cartoon for syndication.

Schulz was born in 1922 in St. Paul, Minnesota. The son of a barber, Schulz showed an early interest in art and took a correspondence course in cartooning--but scored poorly. After serving in the army in World War II, Schulz returned to St. Paul and took a job lettering comics for a small magazine. In 1947, Schulz began drawing a comic strip called L'il Folks for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The strip featured a hapless young character named Charlie Brown and his gang of friends. In 1950, after several rejections, Schulz sold syndication rights to United Features, which renamed the strip Peanuts. Schulz drew the comic himself, without assistants, until his retirement in 1999. Peanuts ran in 2,600 papers, in 75 countries and 21 languages, and earned Schulz $30 million a year. Schulz died in 2000.

December 15, 1966
Walt Disney dies.


Born on a Missouri farm, Walt Disney sold his first sketches to neighbors when he was just seven, and he attended the Kansas City Art Institute at night while he was in high school. At age 16, during World War I, Disney went overseas with the Red Cross and drove an ambulance that he decorated with cartoon characters.
Back in Kansas City, Disney started working as an advertising cartoonist. He founded a company called Laugh-O-Gram with his older brother, Roy, but the company went bankrupt and the brothers left Kansas City for Hollywood with $40 and some art supplies. The brothers built a camera stand in their uncle's garage and started their company in the back of a Hollywood real estate office.
Walt Disney began making a series of animated short films called Alice in Cartoonland and began developing various animated characters. In 1928, he introduced Mickey Mouse in two silent movies. Mickey debuted on the big screen in Steamboat Willie, the first fully synchronized sound cartoon ever made. Walt Disney provided Mickey's squeaky voice himself. The company went on to produce a series of sound cartoons, such as the "Silly Symphony" series, which included The Three Little Pigs (1933) and introduced characters like Donald Duck and Goofy. Meanwhile, the company developed increasingly sophisticated animation technology.
When Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released in 1937, it was the first fully animated movie to date and grossed $8 million, an incredible success during the Depression. During World War II, Disney devoted most of his company's resources to the production of training and propaganda films for the military. In 1965, he designed the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT), which he envisioned as an aid toward improving the quality of life in American cities. He also helped establish the California Institute of the Arts in 1961. His 43-year career earned him nearly 1,000 honors and citations from throughout the world, including 48 Academy Awards and seven Emmys. Harvard, Yale, the University of Southern California, and UCLA all bestowed him with honorary degrees. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, France's Legion of Honor and Officer d'Academie decorations, Thailand's Order of the Crown, Brazil's Order of the Southern Cross, Mexico's Order of the Aztec Eagle, and the Showman of the World Award from the National Association of Theatre Owners. In addition to his films, his legend lives on through Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and EPCOT Center, and generations of children have experienced the joy and magic of The Happiest Place on Earth. Walt Disney was 65 years old when he died.

December 16, 1951
Detective series Dragnet appears on television for the first time, as a sneak preview on the anthology show Chesterfield Sound-Off Time.

Dragnet had been a popular radio drama since 1949, created by actor-director Jack Webb (who starred in both the radio and the TV series as Sgt. Joe Friday). The TV show debuted as a regular series in January 1952 and ran until 1959.

December 17, 1969
Tiny Tim marries his sweetheart, "Miss Vickie" (Victoria Budinger), on The Tonight Show.

Born Herbert Khaury in New York in 1925, Tiny Tim became known for his humorous falsetto singing and ukulele strumming, most famously demonstrated in his trademark song, "Tiptoe Through the Tulips." He performed in Greenwich Village in the 1960s, and several of his songs were used in You Are What You Eat, a 1968 documentary about the 1960s. He rose to fame on the comedy show Laugh In. Tiny Tim and Miss Vickie had one daughter, Tulip. His popularity faded in the 1970s but enjoyed a brief revival in the 1990s. Tiny Tim died of congestive heart failure in 1996.

December 18, 1946
Director Steven Spielberg is born in Cincinnati.
As a boy, Spielberg moved to New Jersey and then Arizona with his parents, an electrical engineer and a concert pianist. Spielberg was a shy youngster and expressed himself by making home movies. By age 12, he was making scripted movies with actors. He won a contest with a 40-minute home movie at age 13 and made a feature-length amateur film at age 17.
Spielberg studied filmmaking at California State College. In 1969, the Atlanta Film Festival screened his short film Amblin', which landed him a job at Universal Studios.

His first professional TV job came when he was hired to do one of the segments for the 1969 pilot episode of Night Gallery. The segment, "Eyes," starred Joan Crawford , and she and Spielberg were reportedly close friends until her death. The episode is unusual in his body of work, in that the camerawork is more highly stylized than his later, more "mature" films. After this, and an episode of Marcus Welby, M.D., Spielberg got his first feature-length assignment: an episode of The Name of the Game called "L.A. 2017." This futuristic science fiction episode impressed Universal Studios and they signed him to a short contract. He did another segment on Night Gallery and did some work for shows such as Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law and The Psychiatrist before landing the first series episode of Columbo (previous episodes were actually TV films).
He directed his first feature, The Sugarland Express, in 1974. The following year, he helped make movie history with Jaws, a blockbuster that grossed $260 million (the film cost $8.5 million to make).
Spielberg followed Jaws with a succession of megahits, including Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), which grossed $128 million; Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), grossing $242 million; and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, which took in nearly $400 million.

Amazing Stories was a television anthology series created by Steven Spielberg. It ran on NBC from 1985 to 1987. Each episode featured an independent story, similar to programs as The Twilight Zone. Unlike that program, however, it did not have a regular host.
Although nominated for 12 Emmy Awards (resulting in five wins), it was not a hit and the network did not renew it after the two-year contract expired.

Spielberg formed an independent company, Amblin Entertainment, in 1984 and began producing such films as Gremlins (1984) and Back to the Future (1985). He took a turn toward more serious subject matter in 1985, directing the critically acclaimed The Color Purple. In 1987, he won the prestigious Irving G. Thalberg Award, which recognized his body of work, at the Academy Awards. However, he didn't win the Oscar for Best Director until 1993, for Schindler's List, a black-and-white drama about Jews working in a Polish factory during World War II. In 1998, Spielberg won another Best Director Oscar® for Saving Private Ryan, which also won Best Picture. Band of Brothers, an HBO miniseries produced by Spielberg, won an Emmy® Award for Best Miniseries in 2002.
In 1994, Spielberg teamed up with Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen to form Dreamworks SKG. He has been married twice, first to Amy Irving and then to Kate Capshaw, who starred with Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was".

Stay Tuned


Tony Figueroa

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Quinn Martin, plus 2009: The Year in TV: Next on TV CONFIDENTIAL

Join us as we look back at the year in the television—the good, the bad and the ugly on the next edition of TV CONFIDENTIAL, premiering Monday, Dec. 14 at 10pm ET, 7pm PT on Shokus Internet Radio, with a rebroadcast Tuesday, Dec. 15 at 11pm ET, 8pm PT on Share-a-Vision Radio, KSAV.org.

Jay Leno and NBC may have dominated the headlines, but they were not the only stories in the world of television in 2009. The year also saw the Emmy Awards telecast rise from the dead, thanks to a spirited performance by host Neil Patrick Harris, as well as a host of controversies involving the likes of David Letterman, Sarah Palin, Carrie Prejean and Tiger Woods. It was also a year that saw the passings of such cultural icons as Walter Cronkite, Don Hewitt, Karl Malden, Army Archerd, Dominick Dunne, Larry Gelbart, Fred Travelena, Beatrice Arthur, Ed McMahon, Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett. We’ll talk about these stories and more when Tony Figueroa and David Krell join us in our second hour. In our first hour, we’ll welcome back television writer Paul Robert Coyle as we conclude our three-part series on the programs of Quinn Martin. Paul’s credits in television include episodes of such QM series as Barnaby Jones and The Streets of San Francisco, as well as other popular dramas like Simon & Simon, Jake and the Fatman, Crazy Like a Fox, Midnight Caller, Xena: Warrior Princess and The Dead Zone. Paul offers great insight into the workings of QM Productions, as well as such key QM personnel as Buddy Ebsen, Lee Meriwether, Philip Saltzman and William Conrad. This promises to be a full program as usual, and we certainly hope you’ll join us Monday, Dec. 14 beginning at 10pm ET, 7pm PT on Shokus Internet Radio.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: TV CONFIDENTIAL to Interview Jack Klugman in January 2010TV CONFIDENTIAL is proud to announce that Emmy-winning actor Jack Klugman (The Odd Couple, Quincy, The Twilight Zone) will appear as a guest on our program in January 2010. The interview will be recorded on Monday, Jan. 11 for broadcast later in the month. If you have a question for Mr. Klugman that you would like us to ask on the air, be sure to send it by 3pm ET, Noon PT on Sunday, Jan. 10. Our email address, as always, is talk@tvconfidential.net.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Your Chanukah (Hanukkah) Mental Sorbet: Adam Sandler original Chanukah (Hanukkah) Song

Here is another "Mental Sorbet" that we could use to momentarily forget about those things that leave a bad taste in our mouths.


Stay Tuned and Have a Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy Chanukah

Tony Figueroa

Friday, December 11, 2009

Your Mental Sorbet: How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

Here is another "Mental Sorbet" that we could use to momentarily forget about those things that leave a bad taste in our mouths.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! the 1966 animated television special was directed by Chuck Jones. It is based on the children's book of the same title by Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel), the story of The Grinch trying to take away Christmas from the townsfolk below. The special, which is considered a short film as it runs less than an hour, is one of the very few Christmas specials from the 1960's to still be shown regularly on television. Boris Karloff narrates the film and also provides the speaking voice of The Grinch (the opening credits state, "The sounds of the Grinch are by Boris Karloff. And read by Boris Karloff, too!").

The 26-minute short was originally telecast on CBS on December 18, 1966. CBS repeated it annually during the Christmas season until 1987. It was eventually acquired by Turner Broadcasting System, which now shows it several times between November and January. It has since been broadcast on TNT, Cartoon Network, and The WB Television Network. Most recently, it has been shown on ABC, but with some scenes trimmed down because of time constraints (the show was made at a time when commercial breaks on television were shorter than they are now). In any event, as of the present time, it is the lead-off "classic" special (i.e. the first classic special) that airs on network television each Christmas season.

Stay Tuned


Tony Figueroa

Monday, December 07, 2009

This week in Television History: December 2009 PART II

Listen to me on TV CONFIDENTIAL with Ed Robertson and Frankie Montiforte Broadcast LIVE every other Monday at 10pm ET, 7pm PT on Shokus Internet Radio. The program will then be repeated Tuesday thru Sunday at the same time (10pm ET, 7pm PT) on Shokus Radio for the next two weeks, and then will be posted on line at our archives page at TVConfidential.net.

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.

December 7, 1990
Actress Joan Bennett dies at the age of 80.

Bennett came from a family of actors: Her parents acted on the stage, and her two sisters became screen actresses. Born in 1910 in Palisades, New Jersey, Bennett attended boarding schools in Connecticut and France. Married at age 16, she had a child the following year and then divorced at age 18. She made her stage debut the same year and soon began appearing in movies. In 1929, she landed her first starring role, in the film Bulldog Drummond. She went on to star in many well-known films, including Little Women (1933).
In 1940, Bennett married producer Walter Wanger and began landing her most important roles, including Man Hunt (1941), The Woman in the Window (1944), and The Secret Behind the Door (1948), all directed by Fritz Lang. Her marriage was troubled, however: In 1952, Wanger was convicted of shooting Bennett's agent in a jealous rage and served several months in jail. Still, the couple stayed married until 1962.
Bennett continued making films, including Father of the Bride, in which she starred as the mother of a young bride played by Elizabeth Taylor. In the 1960s and '70s, Bennett focused on stage plays, and from 1966 to 1971 she starred in the daytime serial Dark Shadows. She appeared in her last film, an Italian horror movie called Suspiria, in 1977.

December 8, 1964
William Bendix dies.
Bendix played Riley on the radio series The Life of Riley from 1941 to 1951. Meanwhile, the show debuted on television in 1949. At first, young comedian Jackie Gleason played Chester on TV, but Bendix resumed the role in 1953 and kept it until the show was canceled in 1958.


December 8, 1980
John Lennon, is murdered by a deranged fan in front of his New York apartment building.

Lennon was born in 1940 in Liverpool, England. As a boy, Lennon lived with his aunt after his father left the family. Lennon attended Quarry Bank High School, from which he derived the name for his first band, the Quarrymen, formed in 1955. In 1956, he met Paul McCartney, who joined the band, and the two began writing songs together. George Harrison joined the band in 1957, and the three played together under several different names and with varying members until 1960, when they adopted the name the Beatles.
The band toured German beerhouses in 1961 and debuted later that year at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, where they gave more than 300 performances during the next two years. Drummer Ringo Starr joined the group in 1962. The group scored several U.K. hits in 1963, launching the "Beatlemania" tidal wave that hit the United States in 1964. In a little more than 10 years, the group transformed rock and roll, scoring 20 No. 1 hits on the Billboard pop charts, more than any group in history. The group's records spent a total of 59 weeks topping the charts between 1964 and 1970.
Lennon divorced his first wife, Cynthia Lennon, the mother of his son Julian, and married artist Yoko Ono in 1969. With Ono, he released the album Two Virgins in 1968. He became more involved in liberal political causes and pursued projects with Ono. In 1970, McCartney announced that the Beatles had broken up. Lennon released his first solo album, Imagine, in 1971, and it rose to No. 1 on the charts. During the next few years, he released projects with Ono as well as his own solo albums, including chart-topper Walls and Bridges (1974). He gave his last public performance in 1974 and released his last solo album, Rock 'n' Roll, the following year. In 1975, Lennon and Ono had a son, Sean, and in 1980 the couple released their album Double Fantasy, which topped the charts and included the No. 1 single "(Just Like) Starting Over."

December 9, 1965
A Charlie Brown Christmas is the first of many
prime-time animated TV specials based upon the comic strip Peanuts, by Charles M. Schulz aired for the first time.

It was produced and directed by former Warner Bros. and UPA animator Bill Meléndez, who also supplied the voice for the character of Snoopy. Initially sponsored by Coca-Cola, the special aired on CBS from its debut in 1965 through 2000, and has aired on ABC since 2001. For many years it aired only annually, but is now telecast at least twice during the Christmas season. The special has been honored with both an Emmy and Peabody award.
A Charlie Brown Christmas is also one of CBS's most successful specials, airing annually more times on that network than even MGM's classic motion picture The Wizard of Oz. Oz was shown thirty-one times on CBS, but not consecutively; between 1968 and 1976, NBC aired the 1939 film.

To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was".

Stay Tuned


Tony Figueroa

Saturday, December 05, 2009

TV Confidential Archives: Nov. 30, 2009

Actress Lee Meriwether joins Ed and Frankie in the first and second hours to discuss some of her most famous roles on stage, screen and television, including Betty Jones in Barnaby Jones, Dr. Ann McGregor in The Time Tunnel, IMF member Tracey in Mission: Impossible and The Catwoman/Miss Kitka in the original Batman motion picture.
Tony Figueroa remembers The Abbott and Costello Show and such classic TV Christmas specials as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman during This Week in TV History.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Your Mental Sorbet: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Here is another "Mental Sorbet" that we could use to momentarily forget about those things that leave a bad taste in our mouths.


Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer made his television debut on NBC in 1964, when Rankin/Bass produced a stop motion animated TV special of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer that became a popular hit in itself. This version was re-broadcast annually many times over the years, even after it was finally released on video and then DVD. It now airs several times during the Christmas season (on CBS rather than NBC), making it the longest-running TV special in terms of consecutive years.



Stay Tuned


Tony Figueroa

Monday, November 30, 2009

This week in Television History: December 2009 PART I

Listen to me on TV CONFIDENTIAL with Ed Robertson and Frankie Montiforte Broadcast LIVE every other Monday at 10pm ET, 7pm PT on Shokus Internet Radio. The program will then be repeated Tuesday thru Sunday at the same time (10pm ET, 7pm PT) on Shokus Radio for the next two weeks, and then will be posted on line at our archives page at TVConfidential.net.

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.

December 5, 1952
The Abbott and Costello Show debuts
. They made only 52 episodes, but the show appeared in reruns for decades.



Bud Abbott and Lou Costello teamed up in the early 1930s to form a vaudeville comedy act. The team soon became one of vaudeville's biggest successes. In 1940, they launched their own radio program, which ran until 1949.
They made their first film in 1940, One Night in the Tropics, followed by the hit Buck Privates (1941). The pair made more than 30 films together, including a series of horror-movie spoofs, including Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1953), and Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955).

December 6, 1948
Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts debuts.



The show discovered numerous stars, including Rosemary Clooney, Pat Boone, Steve Lawrence, Connie Francis, and Patsy Cline. Elvis Presley flunked his audition for the show in 1955. The show ran for a decade and was canceled in July 1958.

December 6, 1964
Rudolph the Red–Nosed Reindeer the long-running Christmas television special produced in stop motion animation by Rankin/Bass first aired on the NBC television network.



The show was sponsored by General Electric under the umbrella title of The General Electric Fantasy Hour.
The special is based on the song by Johnny Marks, which was in turn taken from the 1939 poem of the same title written by Marks' brother-in-law, Robert L. May. Since 1972, the special has aired over CBS, which unveiled a high-definition, digitally remastered version in 2005. As with A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Rudolph no longer airs just once annually, but several times during the Christmas season. It has been telecast every year since 1964, making it the longest running Christmas TV special, and one of only four 1960s Christmas specials still being telecast (the others being A Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Frosty the Snowman). And again, as with the Charlie Brown special, Rudolph has now been shown more than thirty-one times on CBS, although in this case, CBS was not Rudolph 's original network.

December 6, 1998
Comedian and actor Bill Cosby receives Kennedy Center Honors.
Cosby was born in Philadelphia in 1937. He dropped out of high school and joined the navy in 1956, later getting his high school degree by correspondence. In 1960, he entered Temple University on a football scholarship, but by the following year he had become more interested in comedy and began performing regularly in a Greenwich Village nightclub. He went on to pursue a career in show business and was cast in 1965 as the partner of a white undercover agent in I Spy, which ran until 1968. The first TV show to portray a natural working relationship between white and black colleagues, I Spy co-starred Robert Culp.
Cosby starred in numerous other TV shows throughout the 1970s and 1980s, including The Bill Cosby Show, from 1969 to 1971, a situation comedy in which Cosby played a high school coach, and The New Bill Cosby Show, a variety show that lasted only one season (1972-73). Meanwhile, Cosby released a series of hit comedy recordings, winning eight Grammies, and earned a doctorate in education. In 1972, he launched an animated cartoon series called Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, which ran until 1984. In the 1970s and '80s, he made many appearances on children's TV shows, including The Electric Company and Sesame Street.
In 1984, The Cosby Show debuted, a series featuring obstetrician Cliff Huxtable, his attorney wife, and their houseful of children. Rejected by ABC and NBC when Cosby pitched a similar concept based on a blue-collar family, NBC agreed to try the show once Cosby made the main characters an affluent family. The show, which ran until 1992, became one of the most popular programs on television. From 1994 to 1995, Cosby starred in The Cosby Mysteries, playing a forensic expert, and launched Cosby, about downsized airline worker Clinton Lucas, in 1996. Cosby also starred in several movies, including Leonard, Part 6 (1987), which he produced, and Ghost Dad (1990), but his movies generally failed to make a splash at the box office.

To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was".

Stay Tuned


Tony Figueroa

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Lee Meriwether: Next on TV CONFIDENTIAL

Film and TV icon Lee Meriwether is scheduled to join us on the next edition of TV CONFIDENTIAL, premiering Monday, Nov. 30 at 10pm ET, 7pm PT on Shokus Internet Radio, with a rebroadcast Tuesday, Dec. 1 at 11pm ET, 8pm PT on Share-a-Vision Radio, KSAV.org.

Known to many of us for playing Betty Jones on the long-running private detective series Barnaby Jones (CBS, 1973-1980), as well as The Catwoman in the original Batman motion picture from 1966, Lee Meriwether has been a film and TV icon for more than four decades. We’ll talk about these famous characters, plus her roles on such classic series as Star Trek, The Fugitive, Mission: Impossible, Dan August and Perry Mason, her work with such legends as John Wayne, Rock Hudson, Andy Griffith, Jonathan Winters, Irwin Allen and James Garner, and a whole lot more. If you want to be part of our conversation, if you have a question for Ms. Meriwether about her career or any of the films and TV series in which she’s appeared, we invite you to join us for our live broadcast Monday, Nov. 30 beginning at 10pm ET, 7pm PT on Shokus Internet Radio.


Phone number is (888) SHOKUS-5 / (888) 746-5875.


Email address is talk@tvconfidential.net.


TV CONFIDENTIAL with Ed Robertson and Frankie MontiforteMon-Sun 10pm ET, 7pm PT Shokus Internet Radio


Every other Tuesday at 11pm ET, 8pm PT Share-a-Vision Radio, KSAV.org


http://www.tvconfidential.net/


blog.tvconfidential.net


Also available as a podcast via iTunes and FeedBurner

Friday, November 27, 2009

Your Black Friday Mental Sorbet: "The Jack Benny Program" Christmas Shopping Show

Here is another "Mental Sorbet" that we could use to momentarily forget about those things that leave a bad taste in our mouths.

Mel Blanc, the famous voice of the famous Looney Tunes cartoon characters, is hilarious in this episode. He plays a store clerk who is tormented by Jack Benny.

Jack is Christmas shopping at a department store and decides on getting Don Wilson a wallet. He buys the expensive one, believe it or not, and after Blanc does everything he's asked and more with a wonderful gift wrapping, Benny comes back and wants the note changed inside the gift. This happens several more times and the salesman/clerk (Blanc) unravels big-time. Even Benny can't conceal his laughter near the end.In the rest of the show, we see and hear the rest of the cast in some funny bits, we hear a song from Dennis Day and there are guest appearances by familiar faces of the era, such as Richard Deacon.

Stay Tuned & Happy Shopping


Tony Figueroa

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Your Thanksgiving Mental Sorbet: WKRP in Cincinnati: Turkeys Away

Here is another "Mental Sorbet" that we could use to momentarily forget about those things that leave a bad taste in our mouths.

Oddly enough, this famous WKRP episode was loosely based on a real event! Back in 1946 (some sources say 1945), Yellville, Arkansas inaugurated the "Turkey Trot Festival" which included a wild turkey calling contest, a turkey target shoot, a Miss Drumsticks Pageant and oh yeah: a live turkey release from the roof of the courthouse. After a few years, someone thought it might be fun to actually toss the poor gobblers out of a low-flying airplane for the event. This repeated for a number of years until 1989 when a national animal-rights protest cast the event in a bad light and the "National Enquirer" splashed a photo of the event across the nation forcing promoters to abandon the turkey drop.


To quote Arthur Carlson, "As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!!!"

Stay Tuned &
HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Tony Figueroa

Monday, November 23, 2009

This week in Television History: November 2009 PART 4

Listen to me on TV CONFIDENTIAL with Ed Robertson and Frankie Montiforte Broadcast LIVE every other Monday at 10pm ET, 7pm PT on Shokus Internet Radio. The program will then be repeated Tuesday thru Sunday at the same time (10pm ET, 7pm PT) on Shokus Radio for the next two weeks, and then will be posted on line at our archives page at TVConfidential.net.

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.

November 24, 1978
Letterman's first Tonight Show appearance
David Letterman makes his first guest appearance on The Tonight Show. Letterman became a favorite on the show, serving as guest host more than 50 times.

By 1982, Letterman had his own late-night comedy talk show, Late Night with David Letterman, which ran until 1993. When NBC chose Jay Leno instead of Letterman to become the replacement when host Johnny Carson retired, Letterman changed networks and launched The Late Show on rival network CBS.

November 26, 1922
Cartoonist Charles M. Schulz is born in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The son of a barber, Schulz showed an early interest in art and took a correspondence course in cartooning. After serving in the army in World War II, Schulz returned to St. Paul and took a job lettering comics for a small magazine. In 1947, Schulz began drawing a comic strip for the St. Paul Pioneer Press called "L'il Folks," featuring Charlie Brown and his gang of friends. In 1950, after several rejections, Schulz sold syndication rights to United Features, which renamed the strip "Peanuts." Schulz drew the comic himself, without assistants, until his retirement in 1999. Peanuts ran in some 2,600 papers, in 75 countries and 21 languages, earning Schulz some $30 million a year. Schulz died in 2000.

November 29, 1948
Children's show Kukla, Fran and Ollie premieres on prime time network TV.


The show featured beloved puppets Kukla, Ollie (a dragon), and others, with live actress Fran Allison as host. The show began as a local Chicago program before debuting on NBC. It was one of the two most important series made in Chicago, along with Garroway at Large, during the city's brief period as an important production center for network programs in the late 1940s. After its network cancellation in 1957, PBS revived the series from 1969 to 1971.

To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was".

Stay Tuned


Tony Figueroa

Saturday, November 21, 2009

TV Confidential Archives: Nov. 16, 2009

Ed and Frankie welcome actor Richard Anderson as they discuss his role as Oscar Goldman on The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman and the impact and appeal of both series, as well as his work with such legends as David Janssen, Burt Reynolds, John Frankenheimer and Stanley Kubrick. The interview begins 30 minutes into the first hour and continues into the second hour.

Monday-Sunday 10pm-Mid ET, 7-9pm PT Shokus Internet Radio
Every other Tuesday 11pm-1am ET, 8-10pm PT Share-a-Vision Radio