Monday, November 29, 2010

This week in Television History: Novenber 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.

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

December 1, 1940
Richard Pryor is born in Peoria, Illinois.
According to the Museum of Broadcast Communications, Pryor was “the first African-American stand-up comedian to speak candidly and successfully to integrated audiences using the language and jokes blacks previously only shared among themselves when they were most critical of America….His comic style emancipated African-American humor.”

After being expelled from school in the eighth grade, Pryor worked a series of jobs and served in the U.S. Army before he was discharged for getting into a fight. He began performing in comedy clubs and by 1963 was doing stand-up in New York City, modeling his routines after the clean-cut, non-offensive style of such fellow African-American comedians as Bill Cosby. The following year, Pryor made his national TV debut on a variety show hosted by Rudy Vallee. In 1967, he released his first comedy album, Richard Pryor. The funnyman made his big-screen debut that same year with the comedy The Busy Body, featuring Sid Caesar.

During the 1970s, Pryor’s comedy evolved, and he tackled racially sensitive topics in his stand-up routines and bestselling, Grammy Award-winning comedy albums, often using raunchy, politically incorrect language. According to his 2005 obituary in the New York Times: “At the height of his career, in the late 1970’s, Mr. Pryor prowled the stage like a restless cat, dispensing what critics regarded as the most poignant and penetrating comedic view of African-American life ever afforded the American public. He was volatile yet vulnerable, crass but sensitive, streetwise and cocky but somehow still diffident and anxious. And he could unleash an astonishing array of dramatic and comic skills to win acceptance and approval for a kind of stark humor.”

Pryor’s movie career took off with the 1976 box-office hit Silver Streak, a comedy-thriller about a murder on a train, co-starring Gene Wilder. Pryor and Wilder went on to collaborate on such films as Stir Crazy (1980), See No Evil Hear No Evil (1989) and Another You (1991). During the 1970s, Pryor also appeared in such movies as 1977’s Greased Lightning, in which he plays a race car driver; The Wiz (1978), a version of The Wizard of Oz that featured an entirely African-American cast, with Diana Ross and Michael Jackson joining Pryor (who played the title role); writer Neil Simon’s California Suite (1978), with Alan Alda, Jane Fonda, Walter Matthau, Maggie Smith and Bill Cosby; and The Muppet Movie (1979). In 1979, Pryor also released his first concert film, Richard Pryor, Live in Concert, which according to a 2005 Times article “remains the standard by which other movies of live comedy performances are judged.”

In 1980, Pryor, who battled substance-abuse issues during his life, was severely burned in an explosion caused while he was freebasing cocaine. After spending several months recovering in the hospital, he resumed his career, performing stand-up and appearing in a string of movies, including Bustin’ Loose (1980), in which he plays an ex-con who gets a second chance; Superman III (1983), with Christopher Reeve; Brewster’s Millions (1985), with John Candy; the semi-autobiographical Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling (1986); and Harlem Nights (1989), written, directed by and co-starring Eddie Murphy.

In 1986, Pryor was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He made his final film appearance in David Lynch’s Lost Highway (1997). Pryor, who was married six times, died at the age of 65 on December 10, 2005, in California after suffering a heart attack.

December 3, 1948
John Michael Ozzy Osbourne is born in Birmingham, England.

The heavy-metal musician and star of the pioneering reality TV program The Osbournes, which originally aired from 2002 to 2005, is born .

Osbourne first gained fame in the 1970s as a founding member and the lead vocalist of the heavy-metal band Black Sabbath. After being fired from the group in the late 1970s, he embarked on a successful solo career. In the mid-1990s, he and his wife Sharon launched Ozzfest, a popular annual tour of heavy-metal and rock acts. As a performer, Osbourne became infamous for biting the heads off a dove and a bat onstage and was also accused of promoting suicide and Satanism through some of his lyrics.

Osbourne’s fame widened beyond the music world with the debut of The Osbournes, a reality TV show featuring the rocker and his family that debuted on MTV on March 5, 2002. The idea for the show reportedly sprang from an episode of MTV’s Cribs, which featured the feisty, frequently foul-mouthed Osbourne clan at home. The Osbournes focused on Ozzy’s relationship with his spunky wife Sharon and the couple’s two teenagers, Kelly and Jack; a third sibling, Aimee, opted not to participate in the show. Filmed largely at the Osbournes’ Beverly Hills, California mansion, the show covered a range of topics, from Ozzy’s battles with a vacuum cleaner to his efforts to stay sober; to Sharon’s fight against colon cancer; to Jack and Kelly’s partying and often-bratty behavior; to the family’s pack of misbehaving pets.

The Osbournes, which aired its last original episode on March 21, 2005, proved to be one of the highest-rated series in MTV’s history and spawned a string of reality TV shows about celebrities on various networks, including MTV’s Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica, with pop stars Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson, which aired from 2003 to 2005, and Hogan Knows Best, which featured pro wrestler Hulk Hogan and his wife and children and debuted in 2005 on Vh1. Gene Simmons of the rock group Kiss starred with his family in Gene Simmons Family Jewels, which premiered in 2006 on A&E, while Denise Richards, the actress and former wife of Charlie Sheen, appeared in a show about her professional and domestic life, Denise Richards: It’s Complicated, which debuted in 2008 on E!.

In addition to turning Ozzy Osbourne into a household name and sparking a boom in celebrity-focused reality TV, The Osbournes transformed his wife and longtime manager Sharon into a star in her own right. From 2003 to 2004, she hosted her own TV talk show and later went on to make numerous guest appearances on various TV programs and to serve as a judge on the TV competition America’s Got Talent.

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. HydeAbbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955). (1953), and

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

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

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