Monday, March 18, 2013

This Week in Television History: March 2013 PART III

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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.



March 19, 1953
First Academy Awards program on network TV (NBC). 
The first network broadcast of the Academy Awards takes place on this day in 1953. Some 174 stations across the country carried the awards. Gary Cooper won Best Actor for his performance in High Noon, and Shirley Booth won Best Actress for her role in Come Back, Little Sheba. The Greatest Show on Earth won Best Picture. for the first time, audiences are able to sit in their living rooms and watch as the movie world’s most prestigious honors, the Academy Awards, are given out at the RKO Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, California.
Organized in May 1927, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was envisioned as a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the film industry. The first Academy Awards were handed out in May 1929, in a ceremony and banquet held in the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. The level of suspense was nonexistent, however, as the winners had already been announced several months earlier. For the next 10 years, the Academy gave the names of the winners to the newspapers for publication at 11 p.m. on the night of the awards ceremony; this changed after one paper broke the tacit agreement and published the results in the evening edition, available before the ceremony began. A sealed envelope system began the next year, and endures to this day, making Oscar night Hollywood’s most anticipated event of the year.
Public interest in the Oscars was high from the beginning, and from the second year on the ceremony was covered in a live radio broadcast. The year 1953 marked the first time that the Academy Awards were broadcast on the fledgling medium of television. The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) TV network carried the 25th annual awards ceremony live from Hollywood’s RKO Pantages Theatre. Bob Hope was the master of ceremonies, while Fredric March, a two-time Academy Award winner for Best Actor (for 1932’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and 1946’s The Best Years of Our Lives), presented the awards. The statuette for Best Picture went to Cecil B. DeMille’s The Greatest Show on Earth, while John Ford won Best Director for The Quiet Man. Winners in the top two acting categories were Gary Cooper (High Noon) and Shirley Booth (Come Back, Little Sheba).
Hope, a star of stage and screen who tirelessly performed in United Service Organization (USO) shows for American troops during World War II, would become a mainstay of the new TV medium. He was also the most venerated Academy Awards host, playing MC no fewer than 18 times between 1939 and 1977. NBC broadcast the Oscars until 1961, when the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) took over for the next decade, including the first awards broadcast in color in 1966. Although NBC briefly regained the show in the early 1970s, ABC came out on top again in 1976 and has broadcast every Academy Awards show since. The network is under contract to continue showing the Oscars until 2014.
Ratings for the Academy Awards have been notoriously uneven, with larger audiences tending to tune in when box-office hits are nominated for high-profile awards such as Best Picture. When Titanic won big in 1998, for example, the Oscar telecast drew 55 million viewers; the triumph of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in 2004 drew 44 million. The 80th Academy Awards ceremony, held in February 2008, drew the lowest ratings since 1953, with a total of about 32 million viewers--just 18.7 percent of America’s homes--tuned in to the telecast. Analysts blamed the relative obscurity of the Best Picture nominees--the winner, No Country For Old Men, made a relatively puny $64 million at the box office--and the lingering effects of a Hollywood writers’ strike for the poor viewer turnout.



March 19, 1983
Diff'rent Strokes - The Reporter (Season 5: Episode 22).

Determined to prove he didn't fabricate a story about drug abuse in his grade school just to win a journalism contest, Arnold takes his article to the New York City newspaper sponsoring the competition, and when


March 20, 1928

Fred McFeely Rogers is born.  

Mr.  Rogers was most famous for creating and hosting Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (1968–2001), which featured his gentle, soft-spoken personality and directness to his audiences. Initially educated to be a minister, Rogers was displeased with the way television addressed children and made an effort to change this when he began to write for and perform on local Pittsburgh-area shows dedicated to youth. WQED developed his own show in 1968 and it was distributed nationwide by Eastern Educational Television Network. Over the course of three decades on television, Fred Rogers became an indelible American icon of children's entertainment and education, as well as a symbol of compassion, patience, and morality. He was also known for his advocacy of various public causes. 

His testimony before a lower court in favor of fair use recording of television shows to play at another time (now known as time shifting) was cited in a U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Betamax case, and he gave now-famous testimony to a U.S. Senate committee, advocating government funding for children's television.

Rogers received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, some forty honorary degrees, and a Peabody Award. He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame, was recognized by two Congressional resolutions, and was ranked No. 35 among TV Guide's Fifty Greatest TV Stars of All Time. Several buildings and artworks in Pennsylvania are dedicated to his memory, and the Smithsonian Institution displays one of his trademark sweaters as a "Treasure of American History".


Rogers was born in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, 40 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, to James and Nancy Rogers; he had one sister, Elaine. Early in life he spent much of his free time with his maternal grandfather, Fred McFeely, who had an interest in music. He would often sing along as his mother would play the piano and he himself began playing at five.
 

March 21, 1983
The last episode of the long-running TV series Little House on the Prairie aired. The series, based on the children's book by Laura Ingalls Wilder, premiered in 1974. 
Hello & Goodbye: The Last episode of Little House on the Prairie - YouTube
The show was one of television's 25 most highly rated shows for seven of its nine seasons. When series star and executive producer Michael Landon decided to leave the show in 1982, the show's title changed to Little House: A New Beginning  and focused on character Laura Ingalls Wilder (Melissa Gilbert) and her family. The show lasted only one more season. Three made-for-television movie sequels followed: Little House: Look Back to Yesterday (1983), Little House: Bless All the Dear Children (1983), and Little House: The Last Farewell (1984). 




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






Stay Tuned






Tony Figueroa
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