Monday, November 08, 2010

This week in Television History: November 2010 PART II

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.

November 10, 1969

Sesame Street premiered on November 10, 1969, and is the longest running children's program on television. The show is produced by the non-profit organization Sesame Workshop, formerly known as the Children's Television Workshop (CTW), founded by Joan Ganz Cooney and Ralph Rogers.

As a result of its extensive influence, Sesame Street is one of the most highly regarded, and most watched, educational shows for children in the world. The original series has been televised in more than 120 countries, and 25 independent versions have been produced. The show has been called "perhaps the most vigorously researched, vetted, and fretted-over program". As of 2009, the series has received 118 Emmy Awards, more than any other television series. An estimated 77 million Americans watched the series as children.

Sesame Street uses a combination of animation, puppets, and live actors to stimulate young children's minds, improve their letter and word recognition, basic arithmetic, geometric forms, classification, simple problem solving, and socialization by showing children or people in their everyday lives. Since the show's inception, other instructional goals have been basic life skills, such as how to cross the street safely, proper hygiene, healthy eating habits, and social skills; in addition, real-world situations are taught, such as death, divorce, pregnancy and birth, adoption, and even all of the human emotions such as happiness, love, anger, and hatred. Also, recently, the Sesame Street Muppets discussed the late-2000s recession with their latest prime-time special Families Stand Together: Feeling Secure in Tough Times.

Jon Stone was responsible for hiring the first cast of Sesame Street. He did not audition actors until Spring 1969, a few weeks before the five test shows were due to be filmed. He videotaped the auditions, and Ed Palmer took them out into the field to test children's reactions. The actors who received the "most enthusiastic thumbs up" were cast. For example, Loretta Long, was chosen to play Susan when the children who saw her audition stood up and sang along with her rendition of "I'm a Little Teapot". It was Stone's goal to cast white actors in the minority. As Stone said, casting was the only aspect of the show that was "just completely haphazard". Most of the cast and crew found jobs on Sesame Street through personal relationships with Stone and the other producers. Stone also hired Bob McGrath to play Bob, Will Lee to play Mr. Hooper, and Matt Robinson to play Gordon.

Sesame Street's cast became more diverse in the 1970s. The cast members who joined the show during this time were Sonia Manzano (Maria), Northern Calloway (David), Emilio Delgado (Luis), Linda Bove (Linda), and Buffy Saint-Marie (Buffy). Roscoe Orman succeeded Matt Robinson, the original Gordon, and Hal Miller, in 1975.

November 12, 1990

Actress Eve Arden, best known for playing the title role in the radio and TV series Our Miss Brooks, dies at age 78.

Arden was born in Mill Valley, California, and began acting as a teenager. By age 22, she was appearing in the Ziegfeld Follies. She made two films under her birth name-Eunice Quedens-before her first picture as Eve Arden (Oh, Doctor! in 1937). She frequently played the kind-but-sarcastic girlfriend of the lead female role. Her films included No, No, Nanette (1940), Mildred Pierce (1945), and Anatomy of a Murder (1959). Her last film was Grease II (1982). She published an autobiography, The Three Phases of Eve, in 1985.

November 13, 1949

Caryn Johnson, later known as Whoopi Goldberg, is born in New York City.

Goldberg began acting at age eight in children's theater productions. She dropped out of high school during her freshman year, later citing a learning disability that teachers mistook for retardation. She began using drugs but later cleaned up and resumed her interest in acting. She married her substance abuse counselor and had a daughter. She started winning small roles in Broadway shows including Jesus Christ Superstar and Hair. Her marriage ended, and she moved with her daughter to California, where she began performing with improv groups in San Diego and San Francisco while earning money as a bank teller, makeup artist, and other odd jobs.

Goldberg launched a comedy act with comedian Don Victor but was soon performing a hit solo act called "Spook Show." She toured the country with her comedy, eventually ending up on Broadway.

In 1985, three days after her 36th birthday, she made her movie debut in The Color Purple, also starring Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover. She earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. She later appeared in numerous comedies, including Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986), and won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as a psychic in Ghost (1990). Her 1993 comedy, Sister Act, was such a phenomenal hit that she earned $8 million for Sister Act II, which made her one of the industry's highest-paid actresses. She briefly had her own talk show and guest-starred regularly on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

On September 4, 2007, Goldberg became the new moderator and co-host of The View, replacing Rosie O'Donnell. O'Donnell stated on her official blog that she wanted Goldberg to be moderator. Goldberg's debut as moderator drew 3.4 million viewers, 1 million fewer than O'Donnell's debut ratings. After two weeks, however, The View was averaging 3.5 million total viewers under Goldberg, a 7% increase from 3.3 million under O'Donnell the previous season.

She has been married several times and has several grandchildren.

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

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

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