Monday, March 29, 2010

This week in Television History: March 2010 Part V

Listen to me on TV CONFIDENTIAL with Ed Robertson and Frankie Montiforte Broadcast LIVE every other Monday at 9pm ET, 6pm PT (immediately following STU'S SHOW) on Shokus Internet Radio. The program will then be repeated Tuesday thru Sunday at the same time (9pm ET, 6pm PT)on Shokus Radio for the next two weeks, and then will be posted on line at our archives page at We are also on Share-a-Vision Radio ( Friday at 7pm PT and ET, either before or after the DUSTY RECORDS show, depending on where you live.

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.

March 30, 1962
Jack Paar films his final episode of The Tonight Show.

Paar had hosted the show since July 1957, six months after Steve Allen stepped down. Paar was known for his emotional outbursts, which included walking off the set of The Tonight Show on February 11, 1960, to protest network censorship of his jokes. The unflappable Johnny Carson took over as host starting in October 1962.

March 31, 1992
Dateline NBC premieres.

NBC had long attempted to catch up with popular newsmagazines on CBS and ABC, which consistently drew top ratings, but failed until the debut of Dateline NBC. In November 1992, the show caused a scandal when it was revealed that an expose on General Motors trucks was rigged to show a dramatic explosion.
Dateline NBC aired an investigative report on Tuesday, November 17th, 1992, titled “Waiting to Explode.” The 60 minute program was about General Motors pickup trucks allegedly exploding upon impact during accidents due to the poor design of fuel tanks. Dateline's film showed a sample of a low speed accident with the fuel tank exploding. In reality, Dateline NBC producers had rigged the truck’s fuel tank with remotely controlled explosives. The program did not disclose the fact that the accident was staged. GM investigators studied the film, and discovered that smoke actually came out of the fuel tank 6 frames before impact. GM subsequently filed an anti-defamation/libel lawsuit against NBC after conducting an extensive investigation. On Monday, February 8, 1993 GM conducted a highly publicized point-by-point rebuttal in the Product Exhibit Hall of the General Motors Building in Detroit that lasted nearly two hours after announcing the lawsuit. The lawsuit was settled the same week by NBC, and Jane Pauley read a 3 minute 30 second on-air apology to viewers.

April 1, 1949
The first TV variety show starring an African-American cast debuts. The show, Happy Pappy, starred Ray Grant as master of ceremonies. It first aired on local television in Chicago.

April 3, 1956
Elvis sings his first RCA recording, "Heartbreak Hotel," on NBC's Milton Berle Show.

An estimated 25 percent of America's population saw him sing that night; by April 21, the song had become Elvis' first No. 1 single.

April 4, 1969

The CBS Television Network fired the Smothers Brothers because the brothers failed to submit an episode of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour to network executives before its broadcast. The network claimed the second to last show of the season was turned in late, and claimed that their tardiness constituded a breach of contract justifying their dropping of the series. The network ultimately refused to run the episode anyway because they said it "would be considered irreverent and offensive by a large segment of our audience". The episode featured the second of David Steinberg’s satirical sermonettes. The first one caused controversy for being sacrilegious. That episode is now on the Smothers Brothers: The Best of Season 3 DVD.

Tom and Dick Smothers assembled the old Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour gang in February 1988 for a 20th reunion special on CBS. Now the network wanted the brothers and company to be edgy and controversial but no one associated with the show was interested. After all when the establishment tells you something is cool... It's no longer cool.

In 1968 when it came time to submit the names of the writers for Emmy considerations, Tom refused to include his name for fear that he had become too controversial and it would hurt the show’s chances of winning. The show won the Emmy for outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy Variety that year.
YouTube - Steve Martin Tommy Smothers Emmy 2008
Almost 40 Years later (Sunday, September 21st 2008) during the live television broadcast of the 60th Annual Emmy Awards, Tom Smothers received an Emmy acknowledging his contributions as a writer on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Steve Martin, who was one of the Emmy winning writers on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, presented Tom with a commemorative Emmy acknowledging his role in the writing of a variety show.
Television Academy Honors Tom Smothers With Commemorative Emmy

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

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa
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