Monday, January 06, 2014

This Week in Television History: January 2014 PART II



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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.



January 9, 1959

Rawhide premiered.  


The Western series starring Eric Fleming and Clint Eastwood aired for eight seasons on CBS network with a total of 217 black-and-white episodes. The series was produced and sometimes directed by Charles Marquis Warren, who also produced early episodes of Gunsmoke.
 
January 9, 1979

Pop luminaries gather at the U.N. for the Music for UNICEF concert

In an effort to call attention to the poverty, malnutrition and lack of access to quality education affecting millions of children throughout the developing world, the United Nations proclaimed 1979 the "International Year of the Child." To publicize the proclamation and raise money for UNICEF—the United Nation's Children's Fund—plans were laid for a concert fundraiser featuring dozens of leading lights of late-70s pop. 


Staged in the U.N. General Assembly Hall in New York City on January 9, 1979, the show was subsequently broadcast around the world as "The Music for UNICEF Concert: A Gift of Song."

The prime movers behind the Music for UNICEF concert were the Bee Gees, their manager Robert Stigwood and the British television host David Frost, of Frost-Nixon fame. The 1971 Concert for Bangladesh, which raised millions for UNICEF through ticket sales and royalties from the concert film and album, provided the template that the Bee Gees et al. planned to follow, with an important, added twist. The organizers of the 1979 concert asked all participating stars to donate to UNICEF the royalties from the song they performed during the show. 

Another key difference between the two concerts was a rather dramatic difference in musical esthetics. The Concert for Bangladesh featured Ravi Shankar, George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton performing songs like "Bangla Dun," "My Sweet Lord" and "Blowin' in the Wind." The Music for UNICEF concert, on the other hand, featured ABBA, Andy Gibb and Rod Stewart singing songs like "Chiquita," "I Go for You" and, most improbably considering the occasion, "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?"

Suffice it to say that when viewed with the benefit of hindsight, there is a very strong only-in-1979 vibe about the Music for UNICEF concert: John Denver and Donna Summer on the same stage; Henry Winkler (the Fonz) introducing Rod Stewart; and, most charmingly, the late Gilda Radner introducing "Benny-Bror-Goran-Andersson-Bjorn-Christian-Ulvaeus-Agnetha-Ase-Anna-Faltskog-Ulvaeus-Anni-Frida-Lyngstad. Or to put it another way - ABBA!" It is not clear exactly how much money the Music for UNICEF concert actually raised, or whether all of the participating artists actually signed over all future royalties on the songs they performed. At the very least, the Bee Gees' contribution to the effort, "Too Much Heaven," would go on to be a #1 pop hit and raise more than $7 million for the charitable programs of UNICEF.

January 9, 1984
Clara Peller was first seen by TV viewers in the "Where's the Beef?" commercial campaign for Wendy's.




January 9, 1996

The first episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun aired on NBC.  


The premise of the show revolves around an extraterrestrial research expedition attempting to live as a normal human family in the fictional city of Rutherford, Ohio, said to be 52 miles (84 km) outside of Cleveland, where they live in an attic apartment. Humor was principally derived from the aliens' attempts to study human society and, because of their living as humans themselves while on Earth, to understand the human condition. This show reflects human life from the perspective of aliens and many sources of humour are from the learning experiences the alien characters have. Most of the episodes are named after the protagonist "Dick". In later episodes, they became more accustomed to Earth and often became more interested in their human lives than in their mission.

Dick Solomon (John Lithgow), the High Commander and leader of the expedition, is the family provider, and takes a position as a physics professor at Pendelton State University. Information officer Tommy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has been given the body of a teenager and is forced to enroll in high school (later college), leaving security officer Sally (Kristen Johnston) and communications officer Harry (French Stewart) to spend their lives as twenty somethings hanging out at home and bouncing through short-term jobs. The show also revolves around their relationships with humans, mostly their love interests.


January 9, 1999

The first episode of Providence aired on NBC. 


The show revolves around Dr. Sydney Hansen (played by Kanakaredes), who left her glamorous job in Beverly Hills as a plastic surgeon for the rich, so she could return to her hometown of Providence, Rhode Island, and be with her family. Sydney lives with her father Jim, brother Robbie, sister Joanie, and sister's baby Hannah in a large home in suburban Providence that also houses her father's veterinary clinic. Sydney's mother dies in the first episode but continued to appear to Sydney as a spirit, and to offer advice.

The show ends rather abruptly, with a two-part wedding episode. NBC called this Providence's "winter finale," fully expecting to bring it back in the spring or autumn of 2003, but these plans were eventually scrapped when some cast members, including Melina Kanakaredes, opted out of producing a sixth season.


January 10, 1999

HBO began airing the series The Sopranos.

The Sopranos Season 1 Episode 1 by dm_52577fe8490a8

The Sopranos is an American television drama created by David Chase. The series revolves around the New Jersey-based Italian-American mobster Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) and the difficulties he faces as he tries to balance the conflicting requirements of his home life and the criminal organization he heads. Those difficulties are often highlighted through his ongoing professional relationship with psychiatrist Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco). The show features Tony's family members and Mafia colleagues and rivals in prominent roles and story arcs, most notably his wife Carmela (Edie Falco) and his cousin and protégé Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli).
After a pilot of the series was ordered in 1997, the series premiered on the premium cable network HBO in the United States on January 10, 1999, and ended its original run of six seasons and 86 episodes on June 10, 2007. The series then went through syndication and has been broadcast on A&E in the United States and internationally. The Sopranos was produced by HBO, Chase Films, and Brad Grey Television. It was primarily filmed at Silvercup Studios, New York City, and on location in New Jersey. The executive producers throughout the show's run were Chase, Brad Grey, Robin Green, Mitchell Burgess, Ilene S. Landress, Terence Winter, and Matthew Weiner.


January 11, 1949
NBC links its East and Midwest TV networks, celebrating with a special ceremonial telecast.

Radio network NBC had started experimenting with television broadcasts as early as 1938 and began regular service in 1939, starting with the World's Fair in New York. NBC and CBS both received commercial licenses for stations in New York City on July 1, 1941. NBC launched its first TV network in 1946 by transmitting programs from its New York station to its Philadelphia and Schenectady stations. The company didn't open its Midwest network until September of 1948. The West Coast was added in September 1951, creating the country's first coast-to-coast network.

January 11, 1979
Jack Soo Died. 

Soo was diagnosed with esophageal cancer during Barney Miller's fifth season (1978–79). The cancer spread quickly, and Soo died on January 11, 1979 at age 61. His last appearance on the show was in the episode entitled "The Vandal," which aired on November 9, 1978.
Because his character (and Soo himself) was so beloved, a special retrospective episode was made, showing clips of his best moments, which aired at the end of the season. The most poignant moment of the show came at the end, when the cast members raised their coffee cups in a final farewell toast to the late actor.
Soo's last words to his Barney Miller co-star Hal Linden before his death were: "It must have been the coffee." 


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






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Tony Figueroa
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