Monday, March 27, 2017

This Week in Television History: March 2017 PART IV

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 28, 1967
Raymond Burr starred in a TV movie titled "Ironside." 
The movie was later turned into a television series. The show revolved around former San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) Chief of Detectives Robert T. Ironside (Raymond Burr), a veteran of more than 20 years of police service who was forced to retire from the department after a sniper's bullet, to the spine, paralyzed him from the waist down, resulting in him having to use a wheelchair. In the pilot episode, a TV movie, Ironside shows his strength of character and gets himself appointed a "special department consultant" by his good friend, Police Commissioner Dennis Randall. He does this by calling a press conference and then tricking Commissioner Randall into meeting his terms. In the pilot, Ironside eventually solves the mystery of the ambush. He requests Ed Brown and Eve Whitfield be assigned to him.

March 30, 1962
Jack Paar films his final episode of The Tonight Show. 

Paar had hosted the show since July 1957, six months after Steve Allen stepped down. Paar was known for his emotional outbursts, which included walking off the set of The Tonight Show on February 11, 1960, to protest network censorship of his jokes. The unflappable Johnny Carson took over as host starting in October 1962.

March 31, 1992
Dateline NBC premieres. 

NBC had long attempted to catch up with popular newsmagazines on CBS and ABC, which consistently drew top ratings, but failed until the debut of Dateline NBC. In November 1992, the show caused a scandal when it was revealed that an expose on General Motors trucks was rigged to show a dramatic explosion.
Dateline NBC aired an investigative report on Tuesday, November 17th, 1992, titled “Waiting to Explode.” The 60 minute program was about General Motors pickup trucks allegedly exploding upon impact during accidents due to the poor design of fuel tanks. Dateline's film showed a sample of a low speed accident with the fuel tank exploding. In reality, Dateline NBC producers had rigged the truck’s fuel tank with remotely controlled explosives. The program did not disclose the fact that the accident was staged. GM investigators studied the film, and discovered that smoke actually came out of the fuel tank 6 frames before impact. GM subsequently filed an anti-defamation/libel lawsuit against NBC after conducting an extensive investigation. On Monday, February 8, 1993 GM conducted a highly publicized point-by-point rebuttal in the Product Exhibit Hall of the General Motors Building in Detroit that lasted nearly two hours after announcing the lawsuit. The lawsuit was settled the same week by NBC, and Jane Pauley read a 3 minute 30 second on-air apology to viewers.

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

Stay Tuned


Tony Figueroa
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