Monday, February 21, 2011

This week in Television History: February 2011 Part IV

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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.

February 23, 1997
Schindler's List is shown on NBC, the first network to broadcast a movie without commercial interruption.

Ford Motor Company, which sponsored the broadcast, showed one commercial before and after the film.
The 1993 film about German factory owner Oskar Schindler, who saved the lives of Jewish workers in his factory during World War II, was Spielberg's most ambitious movie to date. The picture, filmed in black and white, won Spielberg his first Academy Award as Best Director, and it also garnered Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay awards. The film's screenplay, by Thomas Keneally and Steven Zallian, was adapted from Keneally's novel, Schindler's Ark, published in 1982.
Spielberg started making amateur films in his teens, and by the late 1970s he had become heavily involved in production and scriptwriting. He gained fame early in his career for directing such blockbusters as Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., Poltergeist, and a string of other phenomenal successes. He established his own independent production company, Amblin' Entertainment, in 1984, where he produced Gremlins, Back to the Future, Arachnophobia, Cape Fear, and more. In 1994, he formed DreamWorks SKG with Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen, and the following year the trio announced a partnership with Microsoft Corporation, called DreamWorks Interactive, which produced interactive games and teaching tools. Just months before he released Schindler's List, Spielberg released Jurassic Park, which featured computer-generated dinosaurs that took the world by storm. He won his second Academy Award for Best Director in 1999 for Saving Private Ryan. Virtually all of Spielberg's films have been box office smashes.

February 25, 1950
Comedy program Your Show of Shows, hosted by Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca, first airs on this day in 1950.

Although the show lasted only four seasons, it became a classic of television's golden era, featuring comedy by future stars Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Woody Allen, and others. The series was one of television's Top 20 hits for three of its four years.

February 27, 2003
Children’s Television Host Fred Rogers succumbs to stomach cancer at 74.

The talented writer and puppeteer, known to generations of children simply as “Mr. Rogers,” hosted Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood on public television for more than 30 years.
A native of Latrobe, Pennsylvania, Rogers filmed the famed show in Pittsburgh, 30 miles east of his hometown. He studied early childhood development at the University of Pittsburgh and, in 1962, was ordained as Presbyterian minister with a mission to work with children and families through television. Beginning in 1954, he worked as a puppeteer on a show called The Children’s Corner, before beginning work on his own show, which first aired in 1968.
Singing his well-known theme song, “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” Rogers would enter his living-room-like set at the beginning of each episode, changing his shoes and sweater. He would then take his viewers on a magical trolley ride to the “Neighborhood of Make-Believe,” where he introduced them to characters such as King Friday XIII, his wife Queen Sara Saturday, Curious X the Owl, and Henrietta Pussycat. Even in an era of slick packaging and new technology in children’s programming, Rogers found continued success by sticking to his original message—that children should love each other and themselves. He aimed to help children deal with troubling emotions, like fear and anger, as well as everyday problems, like visiting the dentist.

Rogers composed most of his show’s songs and did much of the puppeteering and voices himself. Despite countless awards and honors, including four Emmys® and a George Foster Peabody Award, Rogers once remarked, “I have never really considered myself a TV star. I always thought I was neighbor who just came in for a visit.” He taped his last show in December 2000, but came out of retirement briefly to film public service announcements helping parents and children deal with the September 11th tragedy. One of Rogers’ trademark red sweaters now hangs in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

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

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

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