Monday, October 30, 2017

This Week in Television History: October 2017 PART V

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.

November 2, 1992
Hal Roach dies. Producer, director, and screenwriter Hal Roach dies at the age of 100. Roach is best remembered for his silent comedies featuring Laurel and Hardy, Harold Lloyd, and the gaggle of mischievous kids who starred in the "Our Gang" comedies (who later became known as the Little Rascals).
The silent-film maker, born in Elmira, New York, had worked as a mule skinner, stunt man, truck driver, and Alaska gold prospector when he came to Hollywood in the early 1900s. He started out as a stunt man and bit-part actor, then formed his own production company with D. Whiting, called The Rolin Company, after he inherited $3,000 in 1915 (he later bought Whiting out and changed the studio's name to Hal Roach Studios).
Roach hired Harold Lloyd to play Willie Work in a series of comic shorts he hoped to produce. The series fell through until Roach changed Willie Work's name to Lonesome Luke, who became a much-beloved movie character known as "the man with the glasses." Regulars in the comic series, called "Phun-Philms," included Will Rogers, Edgar Kennedy, and Laurel and Hardy.
In the 1920s, Roach started making feature films and dramas along with the comedies and westerns that had occupied the bulk of his energy earlier in his career. He weeded out the least-popular shows and concentrated on his gems, including the Laurel and Hardy and Our Gang series. Actors who worked under Hal Roach contracts early in their careers included Jean Harlow, Mickey Rooney, and Zasu Pitts, along with directors Norman Z. McLeod, Leo McCarey, and George Stevens.

Roach won Oscars for two shorts, The Music Box in 1932 and Bored of Education in 1936. When he shifted his focus to feature-length movies (in partnership with his son, Hal Roach Jr.), he sold the Our Gang rights to MGM and produced the acclaimed film Of Mice and Men, an adaptation of John Steinbeck's novel about a sweet, developmentally disabled man named Lennie and his protector, George. In the 1940s, he turned his attention from the big screen to television production. A military colonel, Roach produced propaganda and training films for the armed forces during World War II, and when he returned to Hollywood after the war, he began working in television. His company collapsed in the 1950s, but in the 1960s he produced The Crazy World of Laurel and Hardy. The film proved to be his swan song: His studio was demolished in 1963 (a housing development is on Roach Ranch now). He received an honorary Academy Award in 1983 for his contributions to making movies. He died in 1992 at age 100.

November 4, 1937
Loretta Jane Swit is born. 

Stage and television actress known for her character roles. Swit is best known for her portrayal of Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan on M*A*S*H.

November 5, 2007
Writers strike stalls production of TV shows, movies.
Members of the Writers Guild of America, East, and Writers Guild of America, West—labor organizations representing television, film and radio writers—go on strike in Los Angeles and New York after negotiations break down with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), a trade group that represents TV and film producers in the United States, including CBS, NBC Universal, Walt Disney Company, Paramount Pictures, News Corp., Sony Pictures Entertainment, MGM and Warner Brothers. The strike caused production to shut down on more than 60 TV shows and resulted in a loss of $3 billion, by some estimates, to the Los Angeles economy alone.
The strike’s key issues included the writers’ demand for a larger share of DVD revenues and payment for films and TV shows distributed over the Internet and other forms of new media. Late-night talk shows, which used guild writers, were immediately affected by the strike and went into reruns. Production also shut down on many prime-time comedies and dramas; however, some had stockpiled completed programming and were able to avoid going straight into reruns.
After a series of stalemated discussions, leaders from both sides eventually reached a tentative agreement, and on February 12, 2008, WGA members voted to end the strike and go back to work. The strike officially ended on February 26, when WGA members overwhelmingly approved a new three-year contract with the AMPTP.
The impact of the writers’ walkout was felt across the entertainment industry, from actors to caterers to editors to set designers to animal wranglers. According to the Los Angeles Times, the chief economist for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation estimated the strike resulted in a loss to the local economy of more than $3 billion. The Times article stated: “Of that total, an estimated $772 million came from lost wages for writers and production workers, $981 million from various businesses that service the industry, including caterers and equipment rental houses, and $1.3 billion from the ripple effect of consumers not spending as much at retail shops, restaurants and car dealers.”

Previous multiple-month strikes launched by Writers Guild members in 1960 and 1988 had also greatly impacted the entertainment industry, bringing TV and movie production to a standstill and costing millions in revenue.

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

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Friday, October 27, 2017

Your Mental Sorbet: The Paul Lynde Halloween Special (1976)

Here is another "Mental Sorbet
that we could use to momentarily forget about those
things that leave a bad taste in our mouths

The Paul Lynde Halloween Special is a Halloween-themed television special starring Paul Lynde broadcast October 29, 1976 on ABC. It featured guest stars Margaret Hamilton in her first reprisal of her role as the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz. Also guest starring are Billie Hayes as Witchiepoo from H.R. PufnstufTim ConwayRoz KellyFlorence Henderson, rock band KISSBilly Barty as Gallows the Butler, Betty White and, in an unbilled surprise appearance, Donny and Marie Osmond.

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Grouchy Historian: Next on TVC

Join us this weekend as we welcome back actor, author and activist Ed Asner on the next edition of TV CONFIDENTIAL, airing Oct. 27-30 at the following times and venues:

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Friday 10/27
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Saturday 10/28
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Brooklyn, NY
Saturday 10/28
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Sunday 10/29
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CROC Radio
Kimberley, British Columbia, Canada
Sunday 10/29
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KHMB AM-1710
KHMV-LP 100.9 FM

Half Moon Bay, CA
Sunday 10/29
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Monday 10/30
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Monday 10/30
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Known for his distinguished acting career—including the twelve years he spent playing Lou Grant on both The Mary Tyler Moore Show and his own hour-long series, Lou Grant, not to mention his eight Emmy Awards and numerous other honors—Ed Asner has also made a name for himself as a trade unionist and political activist, including the terms he spent as president of the Screen Actors Guild during the early 1980s, during which time he was an outspoken critic of President Reagan’s policy toward Central America. So it is not surprising that the subject of Ed’s book—The Grouchy Historian: An Old Time Lefty Defends Our Constitution A..., which Ed co-authored along with his longtime friend and fellow Mary Tyler Moore Showcollaborator Ed. Weinberger—is politically oriented.

What may surprise you is The Grouchy Historian is an earnest and engaging attempt at providing the back story of the U.S. Constitution—a subject that has fueled Ed’s passion and interest for many years. Well researched and documented, yet written with an Everyman quality, the book reminds us that it is impossible for anyone to insist on knowing the "original meaning" of the Constitution when the men who wrote the document more than 200 years ago could not agree on what it meant. We’ll talk about The Grouchy Historian, and more, when Ed Asner joins us in our second hour.

For our listeners in the Pacific Northwest, Ed Asner will be performing A Man and His Prostate—the critically acclaimed one-man show written by Ed. Weinberger—in Portland, Oregon on Saturday, Nov. 11. For more information on this performance, as well as other upcoming dates in 2017 and 2018, go to

Phil Gries will join us in our first hour for Part 2 of our tribute to legendary comedian, actor and impressionist Will Jordan as part of The Sounds of Lost Television. Plus: Tony Figueroa and Donna Allen with a brand new edition of This Week in TV History. 

TV CONFIDENTIAL: A radio talk show about television 
Fri 7pm ET and PT on Share-a-Vision Radio, and CX Radio Brazil
Sat 8pm ET, 5pm PT and Sun 6pm ET, 3pm PT on Indiana Talks (Marion, IN)
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Sun 9am ET, 6am PT KSCO-AM 1080 (San Jose, Santa Cruz and Salinas, CA)
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Sun 1pm ET, 10am PT CROC Radio (British Columbia, Canada)
Sun 9pm PT, Mon Mid ET on KHMB-AM and FM (Half Moon Bay, CA)
Mon 10pm ET, 7pm PT on The Radio Slot Network (San Francisco, CA)
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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Robert Guillaume

My acting ability would have sent me back to the post office. It was my singing that got me jobs. Ironically, now, people think of me as an actor and don’t know me much as a singer.
Robert Guillaume
Robert Guillaume (born Robert Peter Williams
November 30, 1927 – October 24, 2017)
Robert Guillaume died today at his home in Los Angeles, California, from prostate cancer at the age of 89, a month before his 90th birthday.
Guillaume was born in St. LouisMissouri as Robert Williams. He studied at St. Louis University and Washington University and served in the United States Army before pursuing an acting career. He adopted the surname "Guillaume," French for William, as his stage name.
After leaving the university, Guillaume joined the Karamu Players in Cleveland and performed in musical comedies and opera. He toured the world in 1959 as a cast member of the Broadway musical Free and Easy. He made his Broadway debut in Kwamina in 1961. His other stage appearances included Golden BoyTambourines to GloryGuys and Dolls, for which he received a Tony Award nomination, Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, and Purlie!. His additional roles included Katherine Dunham's Bambouche and in Fly The Blackbird.
In 1964 he portrayed Sportin' Life in a revival of Porgy and Bess at New York's City Center. Guillaume was a member of the Robert de Cormier Singers, performing in concerts and on television. He recorded a LP record, Columbia CS9033, titled Just Arrived as a member of The Pilgrims, a folk trio, with Angeline Butler and Millard Williams. In the sixties he was in Vienna, Austria at the Vienna Volksoper. Marcel Prawy engaged Robert Guillaume for the role of Sportin' Life in Porgy and Bess.

Later in his stage career, he was cast in the lead role in the Los Angeles production of The Phantom of the Opera replacing Michael Crawford.
Guillaume made several guest appearances on sitcoms, including Good TimesThe JeffersonsSanford and SonSaved By The Bell: The College Years and in the 1990s sitcoms The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and A Different World
His series-regular debut was on the ABC series Soap, playing Benson, a butler, from 1977 to 1979. 

Guillaume continued the role in a spin-off series, Benson, from 1979 until 1986. 

Guillaume also played Dr. Franklin in season 6, episode 8 ("Chain Letter") of the series All in the Family, which he coyly referenced Marcus Welby, M.D., a TV series in which he had guest-starred on in 1970.
In 1985, Guillaume appeared in the television mini-series North and South as abolitionist leader Fredrick Douglass, who escaped from slavery and became a leader of the anti-slavery movement prior to the American Civil War.

He also appeared as marriage counselor Edward Sawyer on The Robert Guillaume Show (1989),
Robert Guillaume and Donna Allen on The Robert Guillaume Show
Detective Bob Ballard on Pacific Station (1991–1992), and television executive Isaac Jaffe on Aaron Sorkin's short-lived but critically acclaimed Sports Night (1998–2000). Guillaume suffered a mild stroke on January 14, 1999, while filming an episode of the latter series. He recovered and his character was later also depicted as having had a stroke. He also made a guest appearance on 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.

His voice was employed for characters in television series Captain Planet and the PlaneteersFish Police, and Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child. He was known for the voice of Rafiki in the movie The Lion King and its sequels and spin-offs. He voiced Mr. Thicknose in The Land Before Time VIII: The Big Freeze. He also supplied the voice for Eli Vance in the 2004 video game Half-Life 2 and its subsequent sequels.

Guillaume was married twice; first to Marlene Williams from 1955 to 1984; the couple had two sons together. He then married Donna Brown in 1986; the couple had a daughter. His son Jacques died on December 23, 1990, at the age of 33 due to complications of AIDS.
In 1999, Guillaume suffered a stroke while working on Sports Night at Walt Disney Studios in BurbankCalifornia. The stroke was minor, causing relatively slight damage and little effect on his speech. After six weeks in the hospital, he underwent a therapy of walks and sessions in the gym.

Good Night Mr. Guillaume

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa