Monday, April 27, 2015
This Week in Television History: April 2015 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 28, 1965
My Name is Barbra is Barbra Streisand's debut television special.
Barbra Streisand's breakout year as a singer came in 1963, when she released her first two albums, won her first two Grammys and began appearing live in some of the most prominent nightclubs in the country. By the following year, she was a showbiz phenomenon, earning further nominations from the Grammys and Tonys after wowing Broadway critics and audiences in her first leading role, as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl. Yet even then, in a Time magazine cover article in 1964, it was noted that "Many people still say Who when they hear her name." That probably changed once and for all on April 28, 1965, when millions of American television viewers tuned in to a solid primetime hour of the 22-year-old Streisand in her first-ever TV special, the triumphant My Name Is Barbra.
My Name is Barbra was the first special to be shot and aired under a $5 million, 10-year contract signed between Streisand and CBS in June 1964. Quite apart from the money, what made the deal so extraordinary was the creative control it gave to Streisand. She chose to exercise that control by eschewing many of the conventions of the then-popular musical variety show genre. Rather than shooting only in a studio, Streisand and her crew filmed one of their major sequences on location in the fur department of Bergdorf Goodman, where Streisand vamped in exotic fur coats and specially designed hats by Halston to a medley of poverty songs, including "Give Me the Simple Life" and "Brother Can You Spare a Dime." And rather than filling out the bill with big-name guest stars—a safe strategy for a young and still-rising star—Streisand performed every number alone. "You can imagine how nervous that made the network," Streisand later remarked, "when they learned that there would be major guest stars, not even any minor ones—just me and a bunch of great songs and some wonderful musicians."
However nervous they might have been, CBS executives were thrilled with the results. My Name is Barbra was a huge critical and ratings hit on this night in 1965. It won two Emmys and a Peabody Award and helped make Barbra Streisand truly a household name, further ensuring the success of later Streisand CBS specials like Color Me Barbra (1966) and The Belle of 14th Street (1967).
April 30, 1975
ABC aired the pilot episode of Starsky and Hutch.
The series, which consisted of a 70-minute pilot movie (originally aired as a Movie of the Week entry) and 92 episodes of 50 minutes each. The show was created by William Blinn, produced by Spelling-Goldberg Productions, and broadcast between April 30, 1975, and May 15, 1979, on the ABC network. It was distributed byColumbia Pictures Television in the United States and, originally, Metromedia Producers Corporation in Canada and some other parts of the world. Sony Pictures Television is now the worldwide distributor for the series. The series also inspired a theatrical filmand a video game.
The series' protagonists were two Southern California police detectives: David Michael Starsky (Paul Michael Glaser), the dark-haired, Brooklyn transplant and U.S. Armyveteran, with a street-wise manner and intense, sometimes childlike moodiness; and Kenneth "Hutch" Hutchinson (David Soul), the blond, Duluth, Minnesota native with a more reserved and intellectual approach. Under the radio call sign "Zebra Three", they were known for usually tearing around the streets of fictional "Bay City, California". The vehicle of choice was Starsky's two-door Ford Gran Torino, which was bright-red, with a large white vector stripe on both sides. The Torino was nicknamed the "Striped Tomato" by Hutch in the episode "Snowstorm", and fans subsequently referred to the car by that nickname, too.
However, this moniker didn't come from the writers - it came from a real-life comment that Glaser made. In a segment titled Starsky & Hutch: Behind The Badge that was featured on the first season DVDcollection, Glaser stated that when he was first shown the Torino by series producer Aaron Spelling, he sarcastically said to Soul, "That thing looks like a striped tomato!" In characteristic contrast, Hutch's vehicle was a battered, tan, 1973 Ford Galaxie 500. It occasionally appeared when the duo needed separate vehicles, or for undercover work; however, the duo's cover was often blown because Hutch's vehicle had a bad habit: when its driver's side door was opened, the horn would go off, instantly drawing attention. It was also noticeable due to the severely cluttered back seat, so cluttered that there was no room to transport both prisoners, and the two detectives, simultaneously.
To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was".