Monday, April 22, 2013

This Week in Television History: April 2013 PART IV

Listen to me on TV CONFIDENTIAL:
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.


April 22, 1978
The Blues Brothers make their world premiere on Saturday Night Live.

The characters and the band that Belushi and Aykroyd unveiled that night took more than two years to evolve. The first incarnation came during SNL's first season, in a January 17, 1976, appearance singing "I'm a King Bee" as "Howard Shore and his All-Bee Band." There were no dark suits, skinny ties or Ray-Bans at that point, but the appearance did feature Aykroyd on the harmonica and Belushi on vocals belting out a blues classic very much in the style of the future Elwood and "Joliet" Jake Blues, albeit while wearing bee costumes. The Blues Brothers' look—and much of their repertoire—would come together after Belushi's trip to Eugene, Oregon, during the hiatus between SNL seasons two and three to film Animal House. It was there that Belushi, a committed rock-and-roll fan, met a 25-year-old bluesman named Curtis Salgado, future harmonica player for Robert Cray, frontman for Roomful of Blues and a major figure on the burgeoning Pacific Northwest blues scene of the 1970s. Belushi became a regular visitor to the Eugene Hotel to catch Salgado's act during the filming of Animal House, and it was from that act and from Salgado himself that he picked up a passion for the blues as well as the inspiration for the Blues Brothers' sound and look.

Back in New York for the third season of SNL, Belushi and Aykroyd honed their concept for the
Blues Brothers Band and recruited an incredible roster of backing instrumentalists drawn from among the finest blues and R&B session musicians in the country. Even if their debut performance on this night in 1978 hadn't been a huge hit, the band was far too good to break up after a single gig. Indeed, the closing portion of Paul Shaffer's introduction that night—"Today they are no longer an authentic blues act, but have managed to become a viable commercial product"—ended up being borne out in real life, with the Blues Brothers earning three top-40 hits ("Soul Man," "Rubber Biscuit" and "Gimme Some Lovin'"), a #1 pop album (Briefcase Full of Blues) and a piece of screen immortality via their 1980 film, The Blues Brothers

Steve Martin was the host of that episode and he previewed the novelty song "King Tut". Performed by  and the Toot Uncommons (actually members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band). It was released as a single in 1978, sold over a million copies, and reached number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song was also included on Martin's album A Wild and Crazy Guy.
"King Tut" paid homage to Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun and presents a caricature of the sensational Treasures of Tutankhamun traveling exhibit that toured seven United States cities from 1976 to 1979. The exhibit attracted approximately eight million visitors. In the Saturday Night Live performance of "King Tut," loyal subjects appease a joyful King Tut with kitchen appliances. An instrumental solo is delivered by saxophone player Lou Marini, who steps out of a sarcophagus to great laughter.
In the book Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live, authors Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad write that the sketch was one of the most expensive productions the show had attempted up to that point. Steve Martin had brought the song to the show and asked if he could perform it, not expecting the production that occurred—producer Lorne Michaels put everything behind it.
Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers recorded the song in a bluegrass version for their 2011 album, Rare Bird Alert.
The song is the subject of in-depth analysis in Melani McAlister's Epic Encounters: Culture, Media, and U.S. Interests in the Middle East, 1945–2000.
It is also referenced in a dialogue in the video game The Lost Vikings (1992) at the end of one of the Egyptian themed levels of the game.

 
April 22, 1978
Maude aired its final episode after 6 seasons on the air. 
"Maude's Big Move: Part 3"


Maude and Walter leave New York for Washington, D.C. to begin a new chapter in their lives. Final episode of the series.


April 24, 1936
A group of firemen responding to an alarm in Camden, New Jersey, is televised. 
It was the first time an unplanned event was broadcast on television, anticipating the development of live TV news coverage. Fortunately, the event would not inspire anyone to create reality programming.




April 25, 1908
Edward R. Murrow was born Egbert Roscoe Murrow. 
He first came to prominence with a series of radio news broadcasts during World War II, which were followed by millions of listeners in the United States.
Fellow journalists Eric Sevareid, Ed Bliss, and Alexander Kendrick considered Murrow one of journalism's greatest figures, noting his honesty and integrity in delivering the news.
A pioneer of television news broadcasting, Murrow produced a series of TV news reports that helped lead to the censure of Senator Joseph McCarthy.

A chain smoker throughout his life, Murrow was almost never seen without his trademark Camel cigarette. It was reported that he smoked anywhere from sixty to sixty-five cigarettes a day, equivalent to roughly three packs. See It Now was the first television program to have a report about the connection between smoking and cancer; Murrow said during the show that "I doubt I could spend a half hour without a cigarette with any comfort or ease." He developed lung cancer and lived for two years after an operation to remove his left lung.
Murrow died at his home on April 27, 1965, two days after his 57th birthday. His colleague and friend Eric Sevareid said of him, "He was a shooting star; and we will live in his afterglow a very long time." CBS carried a memorial program, which included a rare on-camera appearance by Paley.
To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was".

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa
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