Monday, April 03, 2017

This Week in Television History: April 2017 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.

April 3, 1982
John Chancellor stepped down as anchor of the The NBC Nightly News. Roger Mudd and Tom Brokaw became the co-anchors of the show. 
Chancellor anchored the Nightly News through April 2, 1982, when he was succeeded by a co-anchor team of Tom Brokaw and Roger Mudd. Brokaw became sole anchor a year and a half later. Chancellor remained on the program, providing editorial commentaries before retiring from NBC on July 9, 1993.
In 1992, 4 years prior to his death, Chancellor was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.

Chancellor was the narrator of Baseball, an award winning documentary by Ken Burns. He also wrote a book, Peril and Promise, which was published in 1991. The John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism was established in 1995 and administered by the Annenberg Public Policy Center until 2004. It is now awarded by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

April 4, 1967
Johnny Carson quit "The Tonight Show." 

Carson Quit the day after the NBC network had broadcast another rerun of one of his prior shows. Carson had not performed while the AFTRA strike continued against the American TV and radio networks. During the two weeks after the AFTRA strike failed, singer Jimmy Dean and comedian Bob Newhart took over hosting duties. Carson would receive a raise of $30,000 a week and return on April 24.

April 5, 1987
Married... with Children first aired.
The show aired for 11 seasons and featured a dysfunctional family living in Chicago, Illinois. The show, notable for being the first prime time television series to air on Fox, ran from April 5, 1987, to June 9, 1997. The series was created by Michael G. Moye and Ron Leavitt. The show was known for handling non-standard topics for the time period, which garnered the then-fledgling Fox network a standing among the Big Three television networks.
The series' 11-season, 259-episode run makes it the longest-lasting live-action sitcom on the Fox network. The show's famous theme song is "Love and Marriage" by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen, performed by Frank Sinatra from the 1955 television production Our Town.
The first season of the series was videotaped at ABC Television Center in Hollywood. From season two to season eight, the show was taped at Sunset Gower Studios in Hollywood and the remaining three seasons were taped at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City. The series was produced by Embassy Communications on its first season and the remaining seasons by ELP Communications under the studio Columbia Pictures Television (and eventually Columbia TriStar Television).
In 2007, it was listed as one of Time Magazine's "100 Best TV Shows of All-Time." In 2008, The show placed #94 on Entertainment Weekly's "New TV Classics" list.
The show follows the lives of Al Bundy, a once-glorious high school football player (who scored four touchdowns in a single game for Polk High School) turned hard luck salesman of women's shoes; his tartish, obnoxious wife Peg; their attractive but dimwitted and promiscuous daughter Kelly; and Bud, their unpopular, girl crazy, oily but comparatively smart son (and the only Bundy who ever attended college). Their neighbors are the upwardly mobile Steve Rhoades and his wife Marcy, who later gets remarried to Jefferson D'Arcy, a white-collar criminal who becomes Marcy's "trophy husband" and Al's sidekick. Most storylines involve a scheming Al being foiled by his cartoonish dim wit and bad luck. His rivalry with and loathing for Marcy play a significant role in most episodes.

April 5, 1987
The Tracey Ullman Show first aired.
The Tracey Ullman Show is an American television variety show starring Tracey Ullman. It debuted on April 5, 1987, as the Fox network's second prime-time series after Married... with Children, and ran until May 26, 1990. The show is produced by Gracie Films and 20th Century Fox Television. The show blended sketch comedy shorts with many musical numbers, featuring choreography by Paula Abdul.
The Tracey Ullman Show is known for producing a series of shorts featuring the Simpson family, which was adapted into the TV series The Simpsons, which is also produced by Gracie Films and 20th Century Fox Television (now 20th Television).

April 7, 1927
The first simultaneous telecast of image and sound takes place. 
Then Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover read a speech in Washington, D.C., that was transmitted to the Bell Telephone Laboratories in New York City. The New York audience saw and heard a tiny televised image of Hoover that was less than 3 square inches. 
April 7, 2012
Longtime “60 Minutes” journalist Mike Wallace dies at age 93 in New Canaan, Connecticut. 

During his career, Wallace interviewed everyone from world leaders to Hollywood celebrities to scam artists, and was well-known for his hard-nosed style of questioning.

Myron Leon Wallace was born on May 9, 1918, in Brookline, 
Massachusetts. His parents were Russian Jewish immigrants and his father worked as a wholesale grocer and insurance broker. After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1939, Wallace was a radio news writer and announcer in Michigan and Chicago. He then enlisted in the Navy, serving as a communications officer during World War II.

In the 
1950s, Wallace worked on TV talk shows and game shows in New York City, and also appeared in commercials and acted on Broadway. He developed his style as a tenacious interrogator on the TV interview show "Night Beat," which aired from 1956 to 1957. In 1962, the eldest of Wallace's two sons died at age 19 in a hiking accident in Greece, a tragedy that inspired Wallace to focus his career on serious journalism. In 1963, he became a correspondent for CBS News, and went on to report about theVietnam War, among other stories.

"60 Minutes" premiered on CBS on September 24, 1968, and was co-hosted by Wallace and Harry Reasoner.  The show, with its trademark opening sequence featuring a ticking stopwatch, became hugely popular and influential, spawning a slew of other newsmagazine programs, such as "20/20" and "Primetime Live," and ranking among the top 10 programs in the 
United States from 1977 to 2000. Wallace became known for investigative pieces in which he used ambush interviews and hidden cameras to uncover corruption and scams. He also conducted scores of memorable interviews with newsmakers ranging from Clint Hill, the former U.S. Secret Service agent who was in President John Kennedy's motorcade when he was assassinated, to Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini during the 1979 American hostage crisis.

Some of Wallace's reporting proved controversial. In the 
1980s, he and CBS were embroiled in a $120 million libel lawsuit brought against them by General William Westmoreland for the way he was portrayed in a 1982 documentary about the Vietnam War. The general dropped the lawsuit in 1985, but Wallace later revealed that the pressure of the situation caused him to suffer a deep depression and attempt suicide.  In another incident, Wallace's 1995 interview for "60 Minutes" with tobacco
 industry whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand and CBS's controversial handling of the story served as the basis of the 1999 movie "The Insider."

Wallace retired from "60 Minutes" in 2006 at age 88, but continued to contribute occasionally to the program. His final piece aired in 2008--an interview with baseball pitcher Roger Clemens, who was accused of using performance-enhancing drugs.

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

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa
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