Monday, July 10, 2017

This Week in Television History: July 2017 PART II

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.


July 12, 1937
William "Bill" Henry Cosby, Jr. the American comedian, actor, author, television producer, and activist is born. 
A veteran stand-up performer, he got his start at various clubs, then landed a vanguard role in the 1960s action show I Spy. He later starred in his own series, The Bill Cosby Show, in 1969. He was one of the major characters on the children's television show The Electric Company for its first two seasons, and created the humorous educational cartoon series Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, about a group of young friends growing up in the city. Cosby also acted in numerous films. Cosby's net worth is estimated at over $300 million.

July 12, 2002
The first season of Monk began.
Adrian Monk was a brilliant detective for the San Francisco Police Department until his wife, Trudy, was killed by a car bomb in a parking garage, which Monk then believed was intended for him. In a later episode, he discovers the bomb was truly meant for Trudy. He later believes that Trudy's death was part of a larger conspiracy that she had uncovered during her time as a journalist. Trudy's death led Monk to suffer a nervous breakdown. He was then discharged from the force and became a recluse, refusing to leave his house for three and a half years. Until the final episode, Trudy's death was Monk's only unsolved case.
He is finally able to leave the house with the help of his nurseSharona Fleming. The breakthrough allows him to work as a private detective and a consultant for the homicide unit despite limitations rooted in his obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), which had grown significantly worse after the tragedy, along with several other phobias.

Monk's compulsive habits are numerous, and a number of phobias compound his situation, such as his fear of germs. Monk has 312 fears, some of which are milk, ladybugs, harmonicas, heights, imperfection, claustrophobia, driving, food touching on his plates, messes, and risk. He, however, had a breakthrough from claustrophobia later in the series. The OCD and plethora of phobias inevitably lead to very awkward situations and cause problems for Monk and anyone around him as he investigates cases. These same personal struggles, particularly the OCD, are what aid him in solving cases, such as his sharp memory, specific mindset, and attention to detail. In one episode entitled "Mr. Monk and His Biggest Fan", Marci Maven has compiled a list of all of Adrian's fears. In another episode, he tries to conquer his fears by doing various activities which involved his phobias. For example, he tries drinking milk, climbing a ladder, and putting a ladybug on his hand, but when things are scattered unorganized across a table, he cannot resist the compulsion to arrange them neatly.

July 15, 1964
The Universal Studio Tour opened.
The Tour is the signature attraction at the park, and goes into a working movie studio, with various film and Television sets on the lot. In recent years, guests have sat in multi-car trams for the duration of the ride. The Tour lasts about 45–50 minutes and is led by a live tour guide who can be seen throughout the tram on video screens. It travels through the Front Lot, Backlot and various attractions, passing sets and props from movies along the way.
From the beginning, Universal had offered tours of its studio. After Carl Laemmle opened Universal City on March 14, 1915, he would later invite the general public to see all the action for an admission fee of just $0.05, which also included a lunch box containing chicken inside. There was also a chance to buy fresh produce, since then-rural Universal City was still in part a working farm. This original tour was discontinued in around 1930, due to the advent of sound films coming to Universal.
Ironically, the modern Universal Studio Tour was initially reborn as a way to sell more lunches in the Studio Commissary.  The late 50’s and early 60’s were a difficult time for Hollywood studios. The arrival of television had weakened movie attendance and more and more productions were going on location to save costs. The grand old movie back lots were quickly becoming a thing of the past.  In the mid 1950’s, Universal began letting bus companies drive on to the property (the same bus companies that offered guided tours of the homes of Hollywood stars) as a way to increase revenues. The studio charged the bus companies a small fee and also benefited from the extra lunches they could sell to the tourists in the Studio Commissary. The bus drivers were given a hand-typed script to read that highlighted the studio facilities as well as hyped upcoming Universal releases like Bonzo Goes to College and Monster on the Campus.
When MCA purchased Universal in the late 1950’s, they began to look for a way to revive the old Studio Tour as part of a new image for Universal City Studios. In 1963 legendary movie mogul Lew Wasserman, then president of MCA/Universal, asked Vice President Al Dorskind to look into the feasibility of creating a permanent tour. 

The modern tour was established to include a series of dressing room walk-throughs, peeks at actual production, and later, staged events. This grew over the years into a full-blown theme park

July 16, 1967
Will Ferrell is born in Irvine, California. 

After rising to fame on TV’s Saturday Night Live, Ferrell starred in a string of big-screen comedies, including Old School and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.
 Ferrell graduated from the University of Southern California in 1990 and went on to join The Groundlings, an improvisational comedy group whose members have included Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz and Lisa Kudrow. In 1995, Ferrell became a cast member of Saturday Night Live (SNL). Over the course of his seven seasons with the show, he became known for his impersonations of such celebrities as President George W. Bush, game show host Alex Trebek and Inside the Actors Studio host James Lipton. Ferrell also became known for the fictional characters he created, including cowbell player Gene Frenkle of Blue Oyster Cult, cheerleader Craig Buchanan and dense nightclubber Steve Butabi.

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


Stay Tuned


Tony Figueroa
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