Monday, September 05, 2016

This Week in Television History: September 2016 PART I

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.

September 8, 1966
Star Trek premieres. 
Although Star Trek ran for only three years and never placed better than No. 52 in the ratings, Gene Roddenberry's series became a cult classic and spawned four television series and ten movies.
The first Star Trek spin-off was a Saturday morning cartoon, The Animated Adventures of Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek, which ran from 1973 to 1975 (original cast members supplied the voices). 

The TV show Star Trek: The Next Generation first aired in 1987 and was set in the 24th century, starring the crew of the new, larger U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D, captained by Jean-Luc Picard (played by Patrick Stewart). This series became the highest-rated syndicated drama on television and ran until 1994.
Another spin-off, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, premiered in 1992, featuring a 24th-century crew that lived in a space station rather than a starship. 

Star Trek: Voyager, which debuted in 1995 and ran until 2001, was the first to feature a female captain, Kathryn Janeway (played by Kate Mulgrew). In this series, the crew of the U.S.S. Voyager is stranded more than 70,000 light years from Federation space and is trying to find its way home.

The final spin-off to air on TV was Enterprise, which premiered in the United States on September 26, 2001. The final two episodes of that show aired in May 2005.
And this Saturday.

September 8, 1966
That Girl primeried. 

The sitcom ran on ABC from 1966 to 1971 and starred Marlo Thomas as the title character Ann Marie, an aspiring (but only sporadically employed) actress, who moves from her hometown of Brewster, New York to try to make it big in New York City. Ann has to take a number of offbeat "temp" jobs to support herself in between her various auditions and bit parts. Ted Bessell played her boyfriend Donald Hollinger, a writer forNewsview MagazineLew Parker and Rosemary DeCamp played Lew Marie and Helen Marie, her concerned parents. Bernie KopellRuth Buzzi and Reva Rose played Ann and Donald's friends. That Girl was developed by writers Bill Persky and Sam Denoff, who had served as head writers on The Dick Van Dyke Show (with which Thomas's father, Danny Thomas, was closely associated) earlier in the 1960s.
Each episode begins with a pre-credits teaser in which an odd incident occurs or a discussion foreshadows the episode's story. The scene almost always ends with someone exclaiming "...that girl!", just as Ann wanders into the shot or the character notices her. The words "That Girl" would appear over the freeze-frame shot of Ann. The opening credits during the first season featured Thomas, in character, strolling the streets of New York. From the second season forward, the opening shot was the view from a Pennsylvania Railroad passenger train crossing the New Jersey Meadowlands between Newark andPenn Station near Laurel Hill Park, then Thomas flying a kite in Central Park, and seeing (and exchanging winks with) her double in a store window. Lyrics were added to the theme for the final season, written by series co-creator Sam Denoff, sung by Ron Hicklin.
That Girl was one of the first sitcoms to focus on a single woman who was not a domestic or living with her parents. Some consider this show the forerunner of the highly successful Mary Tyler Moore ShowMurphy Brown, and Ally McBeal, and an early indication of the changing roles of American women in feminist-era America. Thomas's goofy charm, together with Bessell's dry wit, made That Girl a solid performer on the ABC Television Network, and while the series, in the overall ratings, never made the top thirty during its entire five-year run, the series did respectably well.
At the end of the 1969–1970 season, That Girl was still doing moderately well in the ratings; however, after four years, Thomas had grown tired of the series and wanted to move on. ABC convinced her to do one more year. In the beginning of the fifth season, Don and Ann became engaged, although they never actually married. The decision to leave the couple engaged at the end of the run was largely the idea of Thomas herself. She did not want to send a message to young women that marriage was the ultimate goal for them and she was worried that it would have defeated the somewhat feminist message of the show.

September 8, 1986
The Oprah Winfrey Show is broadcast nationally for the first time. 

A huge success, her daytime television talk show turns Winfrey into one of the most powerful, wealthy people in show business and, arguably, the most influential woman in America.
Winfrey, who was born in rural Mississippi to a poor unwed teenage mother on January 24, 1954, began her TV career as a local news anchor in Nashville and Baltimore before moving to Chicago in 1984 to host a low-rated morning talk program. She quickly turned the show into a ratings winner, beating out a popular talk program hosted by Phil Donahue. 

At the urging of the Chicago-based movie critic Roger Ebert, Winfrey signed a syndication deal with King World and The Oprah Winfrey Show was broadcast nationally for the first time on September 8, 1986. It went on to become the highest-rated talk show in TV history.
Proving that talk-show host wasn’t the only role she could play, Winfrey made her big-screen debut as Sofia in director Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple(1985), based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name and co-starring Whoopi Goldberg and Danny Glover. The film earned Winfrey a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination, although she lost the gold statue to Anjelica Huston (Prizzi’s Honor). Winfrey went on to star in and produce in 1998’s Beloved, based on Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, and voice characters for 2006’s Charlotte’s Web and 2007’s Bee Movie, which co-starred and was co-written by Jerry Seinfeld. In addition to TV and film, Winfrey became a true media mogul, branching out to books and magazines, radio, musical theater and the Web. In 2008, she announced plans to launch her own network, named OWN, in 2009.
In 2008, The Oprah Winfrey Show had an estimated weekly audience of some 46 million viewers in the United States and was broadcast around the world in 134 countries. Winfrey wields enormous influence when it comes to promoting products: A recommendation on her show can turn a book, movie or just about anything else into a bestseller, a phenomenon that has been dubbed the “Oprah Effect.”

September 9, 1926
The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) was created by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA). 

RCA chairman of the board Owen D. Young and president James G. Harbord announced the formation of the National Broadcasting Company, Inc., to begin broadcasting upon RCA's acquisition of WEAF on November 15. "The purpose of the National Broadcasting Company will be to provide the best programs available for broadcasting in the United States. ... It is hoped that arrangements may be made so that every event of national importance may be broadcast widely throughout the United States," announced M.H. Aylesworth, the first president of NBC, in the press release.Although RCA was identified as the creator of the network, NBC was actually owned 50% by RCA, 30% by General Electric, and 20% by Westinghouse.The network officially was launched at 8 p.m. ET on Monday, November 15, 1926.

September 9, 1966
The Green Hornet Premiered

Though it followed and crossed over with BatmanThe Green Hornet struck a much different tone than its vigilante peers. The action and plots were taken seriously, though remained a joyous thrill thanks to Kato. Though it lasted just a season, the series made Bruce Lee a household name. The debut outing, "The Silent Gun," also introduced America to the Black Beauty, which remains on of the coolest vehicles in screen history.

September 9, 1956
Elvis Presley sang "Don't Be Cruel" and "Hound Dog" on Ed Sullivan's show Toast of the Town. 

Presley scandalized audiences with his suggestive hip gyrations, and Sullivan swore he would never book the singer on his show. However, Presley's tremendous popularity and success on other shows changed Sullivan's mind. Although Elvis had appeared on a few other programs already, his appearance on Ed Sullivan's show made him a household name.

September 9, 1986
Ted Turner presented the first of his colorized films on WTBS in Atlanta, GA.
Ted Turner presented the first of his colorized films -- on his superstation WTBS in Atlanta, GA. The first Hollywood classic to get the new look was "Yankee Doodle Dandy". Some people were opposed to the colorization process, where color is added to black-and-white movies. They felt the originals should be pristine -- that any change interferes with the original creativity.
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To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was".

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa
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