Monday, May 03, 2010

This week in Television History: May 2010 Part I

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.

May 3, 1991
Prime-time soap opera Dallas airs its last episode.
The episode was watched by 33.3 million viewers (38% of all viewers in that time slot).
The show debuted in April of 1978, and broke ratings records in 1980 when 83.6 million viewers tuned in to find out "Who Shot J.R.?". In the final episode, titled Conundrum (An homage to It's a Wonderful Life) J.R. is contemplating committing suicide. The drunk J.R. walks around the pool with a bourbon bottle and a loaded gun, when suddenly another person appears, a spirit named Adam (portrayed by Joel Grey), whose "boss" has been watching J.R. and likes him. Adam proceeds to take him on a journey to show him what life would have been like for other people if he had not been born. At the end of the episode Adam encourages J.R. on to kill himself. J.R. will not do it, as he does not want Adam to be sent back to heaven with his job incomplete. At this point Adam reveals that he's not an angel, but a minion of Satan. Bobby has returned home. The gun goes off while Bobby is in the hallway, and he rushes to J.R.'s room. He looks at what has gone down, gasps, "Oh, my God," and the series ends on that note with the fate of J.R. never settled

(although it eventually would be five years later, in the reunion movie, Dallas: J.R. Returns).

May 4, 1975
Moe Howard of the Three Stooges, died.
Howard was born in Brooklyn in 1897. The brother of fellow Stooges Shemp and Curly. The Stooges appeared in 190 short subjects for Columbia and more than 20 feature-length films.
Curly suffered a series of strokes which led to his death on January 18, 1952.
On November 22, 1955, Shemp died of a heart attack.
Joe Besser was hired in 1956. Joe, Larry, and Moe filmed 16 shorts through December 1957. With the death of Columbia head Harry Cohn, the making of short subjects came to an end, and Howard was forced to take a job as a gofer at Columbia.
Throughout their career, Moe acted as both their main creative force and business manager. C3 Entertainment, Inc. was formed by Moe, Larry and Curly-Joe DeRita in 1959 to manage all business and merchandise transactions for the team.
Eventhough the Stooges never made any money when thier Columbia shorts were syndicated on local TV stations, the did do very well fiancially making personal aparances in the cities where thier shorts were airing. The movie The Outlaws Is Coming (1965) has a nod to television's key role in the resurgence of the Stooges' popularity, the outlaws were played by local TV hosts from across the U.S. whose shows featured the trio's old Columbia shorts.
YouTube - Moe Howard on The Mike Douglas Show
Normandy Productions, and amassed control over the team's finances and existed until 1994 when the heirs of Larry and Curly-Joe filed a lawsuit against Moe's family, particularly his grandsons. The result gave the other heirs more profits, and placed Curly-Joe's stepsons (Robert and Earl Benjamin) in charge of the Stooge images/sales. The moniker C3 Entertainment, Inc. was reinstated and is currently the owner of all Three Stooges trademarks and merchandising. Larry's grandson Eric Lamond is a majority owner in the company as well.

May 6, 2004
Final episode of Friends airs on NBC

Created and executive-produced (with Kevin S. Bright) by Marta Kauffman and David Crane, Friends debuted 10 years and 236 episodes earlier, on September 22, 1994. Shot at the Warner Brothers studios in Burbank, California, the show was set in New York City’s Greenwich Village, where six friends struggled with the ups-and-downs of young adult life in the big city--albeit while living in an impossibly large, cushy apartment, apparently without the burden of having to spend much time working actual jobs. Almost from the beginning of its decade-long run, Friends was a cultural phenomenon, winning six Emmy Awards (including one for Outstanding Comedy Series), sparking hairstyle trends (“the Rachel”), spawning catch phrases (“How you doin?”) and turning its six principal cast members into household names.
Preceded by a maelstrom of hype and publicity, the hour-long Friends finale drew approximately two-thirds of the audience garnered by the finales of two other long-running sitcoms, Cheers (80.4 million) in 1993 and Seinfeld (76.2 million) in 1998, according to a Fox News report. The most-watched TV series finale ever, M*A*S*H, was viewed by some 105 million people when it aired in 1983. According to the New York Times, NBC charged advertisers an average of $2 million for every 30 seconds of ad time during the finale--a record amount for a sitcom and only $300,000 less than what CBS charged during that year’s Super Bowl.
In the finale, the long-running on-and-off relationship between Ross (David Schwimmer) and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), which over the years included a drunken Las Vegas wedding and a baby, Emma, born in 2002, ended as most of the show’s fans hoped: They got back together, presumably for good. Meanwhile, Chandler (Matthew Perry) and Monica (Courtney Cox-Arquette) had become suburbanites and parents of twins, Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) was married, and Joey (Matt LeBlanc) was headed off to L.A. to pursue his acting career. (A spin-off sitcom, Joey, followed LeBlanc’s character to Hollywood; the show failed to attract a significant audience, and was canceled in 2006.)
Throughout the show’s run, its six stars maintained a famously unified front, ensuring that no one of them emerged as a dominating force onscreen and even negotiating their salaries together. In the spring of 2000, each member of the cast signed a two-year, $40 million contract that netted them each a staggering $1 million per episode. Broadcast in some 100 countries, Friends continues to earn good ratings for its syndicated rerun episodes.

May 9, 1971
Last Honeymooners episode airs.
The last original episode of the sitcom The Honeymooners, starring Jackie Gleason as Brooklyn bus driver Ralph Kramden, airs.

Although a perennial rerun favorite in syndication, The Honeymooners actually aired only 39 episodes in its familiar sitcom format, running for just one season in 1955-56. The show debuted on October 5, 1951, as a six-minute sketch on the variety show Cavalcade of Stars, hosted by Jackie Gleason. Cavalcade of Stars evolved into The Jackie Gleason Show in 1952, and Gleason continued the sketches, playing the blustery Ralph Kramden. Regular cast member Audrey Meadows soon replaced the original casting choice, Pert Kelton, as Ralph’s long-suffering wife, Alice, who deflated his get-rich-quick schemes but often saved the day. Art Carney played Gleason’s friend and sidekick, Ed Norton, from the beginning, and Joyce Randolph was the most memorable incarnation of Ed’s wife, Trixie.
In 1955, Gleason had tired of the hour-long variety-show format and wanted to try something new. He suggested creating two half-hour programs: The Honeymooners and Stage Show, a musical-variety show, which Gleason would produce. Among Stage Show’s many musical guests was the first-time TV performer Elvis Presley, who visited the show in January 1956.
In a departure from most TV shows of the time, The Honeymooners was filmed in front of a live audience and broadcast at a later date. To allow Gleason more time to pursue other producing projects, he taped two episodes a week, leaving him free for several months at the end of the season. Shows were taped at New York’s Adelphi Theatre in front of around 1,000 people.
Unfortunately, the two shows did not appeal to audiences as much as Gleason had hoped. He soon returned to his hour-long variety format, occasionally including Honeymooners skits. He sold the full Honeymooners episodes to CBS for $1.5 million, and they would go on to earn the network a windfall in syndication. In 1966, Gleason began creating hour-long Honeymooners episodes, which he aired in lieu of his usual variety format. From 1966 to 1970, about half of Gleason’s shows were these hour-long episodes. In 1971, the episodes were rebroadcast as their own series, until May 9, 1971, when the final episode aired.
Despite its brief life as a traditional sitcom, The Honeymooners remains one of the most memorable TV comedies of all time, rivaled only by I Love Lucy in its pioneering role in television history. Its influence has stretched into modern-day sitcom classics such as Roseanne (also a show focused on a working-class American family) and Seinfeld (another sitcom about wacky New York neighbors). The devotion of Honeymooners fans throughout the years has bordered on cultish worship, including the formation of a club known as RALPH: Royal Association for the Longevity and Preservation of the Honeymooners.

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

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