Monday, January 28, 2019

This Week in Television History: January 2019 PART IV

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.
Donna Allen-Figueroa

January 28, 1984
Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer First aired on CBS.
The show follows the adventures of Mike Hammer, the fictitious private detective created by crime novelist Mickey Spillane, as he works to solve cases, often involving murder. A recurring plot line throughout the show focusses on the murder of someone the protagonist was close to, resulting in Hammer seeking out revenge. Keach was familiar with the tough and insensitive novelized version of Hammer and worked to make his version more palatable to a television audience. "We've softened him up a little bit," Keach told The New York Times. "To sustain a series on television, I think you need a certain humor, charm and vulnerability. Toughness is probably the least important factor."
While firmly situated in the 1980s, the tone of the show also incorporated elements of classic film noir detective films, such as The Maltese Falcon. For example, each show featured the protagonist's narrative voice-over and, much like the archetypal hard-boiled detectives of years gone by, Hammer would rarely be seen without his wrinkled suit, fedora and trench coat. While his get-up made a particularly awkward fashion statement for the time, the juxtaposition of old and new was a central theme in the show. Indeed, Keach's Mike Hammer left the viewer with the impression that this detective had been somehow transported from a 1940s film set to 1980s New York City. The show's theme song "Harlem Nocturne" by Earle Hagen, a jazz tune featuring a deeply melancholy saxophone, set a gritty tone for each episode. The song proved to be one of the most popular elements of the program.
In contrast to the charming male leads in other popular detective shows of the day (e.g., Remington SteeleThomas Magnum), Mike Hammer was unapologetically masculine with little concern for political correctness. A prominent feature of most episodes was the inclusion of a number of female characters (known in casting sessions "Hammer-ettes") who would exchange a double entendre or two with Hammer while wearing very low tops and push-up bras emphasizing their ample cleavage. Hammer would regularly wind up in bed with the highly sexualized female characters in the show, who would never fail to melt once they had fixed their eyes upon the brawny detective. The show's writers latched on to this element of clashing eras and often used it as a comic relief in the show. Examples of this include Hammer's love for cigarettes being at odds with the growing social disdain for smoking and the detective's humorous inability to comprehend the youth trends of the decade. Like its 1950s predecessor, Keach's Mike Hammer never shied away from violence. Whether it was with his fists or his trusty gun, "Betsy," a Colt Model 1911A1 .45 ACP semi-automatic pistol, which was always tucked neatly inside a leather shoulder holster worn under his suit jacket, Hammer would never fail to stop a criminal dead in his tracks. Mickey Spillane insisted that Stacy Keach carry the .45 caliber pistol in the show because that was the weapon Mike Hammer carried in all of Spillane's "Mike Hammer" mystery novels. Unlike most detective shows of the decade, the bad guys on Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer were usually killed by the protagonist by the time the closing credits rolled.

January 29, 1969
The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour debuted on CBS-TV. 

A network television music and comedy variety show hosted by singer Glen Campbell from January 1969 through June 1972 on CBS. He was offered the show after he hosted a 1968 summer replacement for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Campbell used "Gentle on My Mind" as the theme song of the show. The show was one of the few rural-oriented shows to survive CBS's rural purge of 1971.

January 31, 1949
These Are My Children, the first daytime soap opera, debuts on NBC. 

The show, only 15 minutes long, aired weekdays at 5 p.m. in January and February 1949.

January 31, 1984
NBC Newsman Edwin Newman retired after 35 years with the network.

February 1, 1954
CBS-TV aired The Secret Storm for the first time. 
The story follows the Ames family, a prominent clan in the fictional Northeastern town of Woodbridge (eventually identified as being located in New York). The Ames family initially consisted of Peter, his wife Ellen, and their three children: Susan, Jerry, and Amy. However, Ellen was killed in the first episode and subsequent stories focused on Peter raising his three children. Lending a hand, however dubiously, was Peter's sister-in-law, as well as his former fiancée Pauline Rysdale (Haila Stoddard).
Despite Susan's and Pauline's efforts to derail any new romances in Peter's life, he eventually remarried two more times. His first remarriage was to Myra Lake (June Graham), one of Amy's teachers, but that ended in divorce. His second and more successful remarriage was to divorcee Valerie Hill (Lori March), to whom he was married until his death.
Later, the villainous Belle Clemens (Marla Adams) was the main source of trouble for Woodbridge, taking over from Aunt Pauline, the show's original villain. Originally due to die of kidney disease, the writers had Belle's daughter Robin drown in an accident. Belle blamed Amy for the death.

February 1, 1954
Charles William "Bill" Mumy, Jr. is born. 
Actor, musician, pitchman, instrumentalist, voice-over artist and a figure in the science-fiction community. He is known primarily for his roles in movies and television, character-type roles, and who also works in television production.
The red-headed Mumy came to prominence in the 1960s as a child actor, most notably as Will Robinson, the youngest of the three children of Prof. John and Dr. Maureen Robinson (played Guy Williams and June Lockhart respectively) and friend of the nefarious and pompous Dr. Zachary Smith (played by Jonathan Harris), in the cult 1960s CBS sci-fi television series Lost in Space.

He later appeared as a lonely teenager, Sterling North, in the 1969 Disney movie, Rascal, and as Teft in the 1971 film Bless the Beasts and Children. In the 1990s, he had the role of Lennier in the syndicated sci-fi TV series Babylon 5, and he also served as narrator of A&E Network's Emmy Award-winning series, Biography. He is also notable for his musical career, as a solo artist and as half of the duo Barnes & Barnes.

February 1, 2004
Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy.

Super Bowl XXXVIII, which was broadcast live on from Houston, Texas on the CBS television network in the United States, was noted for a controversial halftime show in which Janet Jackson's breast, adorned with a nipple shield, was exposed by Justin Timberlake for about half a second, in what was later referred to as a "wardrobe malfunction". The incident, sometimes referred to as Nipplegate, was widely discussed. Along with the rest of the halftime show, it led to an immediate crackdown and widespread debate on perceived indecency in broadcasting. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) fined CBS a record $550,000 which was fought in Supreme Court, but that fine was appealed and ultimately voided by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2011 ruling, and a case to reinstate the fine was refused in 2012. 

February 2, 2014
The End of NBC Burbank
In October 2007, the network announced that it planned to move most of its operations from Burbank to a new complex across the street from Universal Studios in Universal City. It would retain offices at the Burbank site until May 2013, though the studio complex was sold to Catalina/Worthe Real Estate Group in 2008 with NBCUniversal leasing space until 2013. The former Technicolor building on the Universal lot serves as the new home to NBC's West Coast Operations. KNBC 4 and NBC News, along with KVEA Telemundo 52, began broadcasting from Universal Studios on February 2, 2014.
In preparation for the move, The Ellen DeGeneres Show moved to the nearby Warner Bros. Studios in 2008, and when Conan O'Brien assumed hosting duties, The Tonight Show moved to an all-digital studio on the Universal lot in 2009. The Jay Leno Show continued to broadcast from the NBC Burbank studios as Leno's Tonight Show had, though from Studio 11. From March 1, 2010 to February 6, 2014, Leno's second run as host of The Tonight Show taped at Studio 11.
The Tonight Show moved back to New York City in 2014 when Jimmy Fallon replaced Leno as host, marking the end of the 42-year era in which the show had taped from Southern California.
The Burbank facility was one of the few television-specific studio facilities in Hollywood that offered tours to the general public until they ceased July 6, 2012.
On March 13, 2014, Lawrence O'Donnell announced that his MSNBC broadcast that night would be the last nationally televised network show to be broadcast live from NBC's Burbank studio, with the move of the NBC News Los Angeles bureau to Universal City.

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

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Monday, January 21, 2019

This Week in Television History: January 2019 PART III

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.
Donna Allen-Figueroa

January 21, 1959
Carl Switzer, better known as Alfalfa from the Our Gang comedies, is shot and killed in a brawl. 

Switzer, who became a hunting guide and bartender in Northern California after his acting career fizzled, was shot after an argument over a $50 debt. Authorities ruled the shooting "justifiable homicide."

January 23, 2004
Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo) died in Windsor, Vermont at age 76. 
He was survived by three children, Michael Derek, Laurie Margaret, and Maeve Jeanne. His wife of 45 years, Anne Jeanne Laurie Keeshan, died February 25, 1996. Keeshan's grandson, Britton Keeshan, became the youngest person at that time to have climbed the Seven Summits by climbing Mount Everest in May 2004. He carried photographs of his grandfather on that ascent, and buried a photo of the two of them at the summit.
Keeshan was buried in Saint Joseph's Cemetery in Babylon, New York.

January 25, 1949
The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences presents its first industry award at the Hollywood Athletic Club in Los Angeles. 
The Emmy for most popular program went to Pantomime Quiz Time, and puppeteer Shirley Dinsdale and her puppet Judy Splinters won an award for Outstanding TV Personality. Most of the awards were for programs produced by TV station KTLA. The station also won an award for Outstanding Overall Achievement.

January 26, 1979
The Dukes of Hazzard premieres. 
On this day in 1979, The Dukes of Hazzard, a television comedy about two good-old-boy cousins in the rural South and their souped-up 1969 Dodge Charger known as the General Lee, debuts on CBS. The show, which originally aired for seven seasons, centered around cousins Bo Duke (John Schneider) and Luke Duke (Tom Wopat) and their ongoing efforts to elude their nemeses, the crooked county commissioner "Boss" Jefferson Davis Hogg (Sorrell Booke) and the bumbling Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane (James Best).
The Dukes of Hazzard was known for its car chases and stunts and the General Lee, which had an orange paint job, a Confederate flag across its roof and the numbers "01" on its welded-shut doors, became a star of the show. The General Lee also had a horn that played the first 12 notes of the song "Dixie." Due to all the fast driving, jumps and crashes, it was common for several different General Lees to be used during the filming of each episode.
The General Lee also had a CB (Citizens Band) radio and Luke and Bo Duke's CB nicknames or "handles" were Lost Sheep #1 and Lost Sheep #2, respectively. "The Dukes of Hazzard" (along with the 1977 trucking movie "Smokey and the Bandit") helped promote the CB craze that swept America from the mid 1970s to the early 1980s.
Among the other cars featured on the show were Boss Hogg's white Cadillac Deville convertible, Uncle Jesse Duke's (Denver Pyle) Ford pickup truck and various tow trucks and vehicles belonging to Cooter Davenport (Ben Jones), the local mechanic. Bo and Luke's short-shorts wearing cousin Daisy Duke (Catherine Bach) drove a yellow Plymouth Roadrunner with black stripes and later a Jeep with a golden eagle emblem on the hood and the word "Dixie" on the doors.
The final episode of The Dukes of Hazzard originally aired on August 16, 1985. The show spawned several TV specials and a 2005 movie starring Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott and Jessica Simpson.

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

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Friday, January 18, 2019

Your Mental Sorbet: José Feliciano & Ozuna: "En Mi Viejo San Juan"

Here is another "Mental Sorbet
that we could use to momentarily forget about those
things that leave a bad taste in our mouths
"En mi Viejo San Juan" (English: In my Old San Juan) is a composition by Puerto Rican composer and singer Noel Estrada. Interpreted by numerous singers and translated into various languages, the song is "widely known around the world". There are musical interpretations in German, English and French. At least over 1,000 distinct recordings of the song have been made worldwide.
The song was written in 1942 for Estrada's brother who had been deployed to Panama during World War II and was feeling nostalgia for his Puerto Rico motherland. The song has become an anthem of Puerto Rican emigration to New York.
En mi viejo San Juan
Cuantos sueños forjé
En mis noches de infancia
Mi primera ilusión
why mis cuitas de amor
Son recuerdos del alma
Una tarde me fuí
hacia a extraña nación
Pues lo quiso el destino
Pero mi corazón
Se quedo frente al mar
En mi viejo San Juan
Adiós (adiós adiós)
Borinquen querida (tierra de mi amor)
Adios (adios adios)
Mi diosa del mar (mi reina del palmar)
Me voy (ya me voy)
Pero un dia volveré
A buscar mi querer
A soñar otra vez
En mi viejo San Juan
Pero el tiempo pasó
why el destino burló
Mi terrible nostalgia
why no pude volver
Al San Juan que yo amé
Pedacito de patria
Mi cabello blanqueó
why mi vida se va
Ya la muerte me llama
why no quiero morir
Alejado de ti
Puerto Rico del alma
Adiós (adiós adiós)
Borinquen querida (tierra de mi amor)
Adiós (adiós adiós)
Mi diosa del mar (mi reina del palmar)
Me voy (ya me voy)
Pero un dia volveré
A buscar mi querer
A soñar otra vez
En mi viejo San Juan

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Monday, January 14, 2019

This Week in Television History: January 2019 PART II

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.
Donna Allen-Figueroa

January 15, 1974
The first episode of Happy Days airs. 
A minor character, super-cool biker Arthur "The Fonz" Fonzarelli, soon came to be the show's central character. The immensely popular series was the most highly rated comedy in the 1976-77 TV season and stayed in the Top 20 most highly rated shows for seven of its 10 seasons. It launched several spin-offs, including Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy.

January 16, 1949
KNBC Channel 4 in Los Angeles first went on the air with the call letters KNBH (NBC Hollywood).  

Broadcasting from the NBC Radio City Studios on Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street in Hollywood (The location is now a Chase Bank).

The station debuted with three hours and forty minutes of programming, which followed a fifteen-minute test pattern-and-music session. The programming included an eighteen-minute newsreel, a Review of 1948, LA’s first variety show called On the Show, and station’s first live program The Pickard Family, featuring Dad and Mom Pickard and their four children singing familiar American songs. By October 1949, KNBH had extended its operating schedule from five to seven days a week, with approximately twenty-six hours of television programming each week.

In 1954 the station changed its call letters to KRCA-TV for NBC's then-parent company, RCA (the Radio Corporation of America).

In November 1962 the station relocated to the network's color broadcast studio facility in "Beautiful Downtown Burbank" known then as NBC Color City. With the move the call letters were changed again to KNBC. NBC took the KNBC identity from its San Francisco radio station (which then became KNBR).

NBC Studio in Burbank became home to Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In (Where announcer Gary Owens first coined the term “Beautiful downtown Burbank)". It was also the home to Sanford and Son, Chico and the Man, the daytime drama Days of Our Lives, countless game shows and most notably since 1972 The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and later Jay Leno.

On October 11, 2007, NBC-Universal announced that it would sell its Burbank studios and construct a new, all-digital facility near the Universal Studios lot. This is in an effort to merge all of NBC-Universal's West Coast operations into one area. When Conan O'Brien took over The Tonight Show he shot in Universal’s Sound Stage 1 (The former home to The Jack Benny Program).

And now for the news.

Tom Brokaw, Bryant Gumbel, Pat Sajak, Tom Snyder and Nick Clooney (George’s dad) worked at KNBC news early in their careers.

On a personal note: As someone who grew up in Southern California there were many local news stories that later received national or even international attention. I can also say that Channel 4 was making news while they were covering the news. 

May 17th 1974 Channel 4 and other local TV stations covered a house in Compton that had been commandeered by the Symbionese Liberation Army, the revolutionary group that three months earlier had kidnapped 19-year-old Patricia Hearst (The granddaughter of the legendary newspaper baron). This was the first time I ever remember channel surfing because the event was being covered LIVE (not “Film at 11). Viewers got to see events play out as they happened. Shortly after 5 p.m. Los Angeles police, sheriffs and FBI agents closed in on the house. The house caught fire and 6 bodies were later recovered. Patty Hearst was not there.

In the summer of 1987 during an afternoon newscast, a gun-wielding mental patient took consumer reporter David Horowitz and the rest of the Channel 4 news team hostage while they were live on the air. The gunman was the son of a former Channel 4 News contributor and an invited guest of one of the news team members. As soon as the gunman appeared on camera the station stopped broadcasting the news, but as far as the gunman knew they were ON THE AIR. Viewers would later see tape of Horowitz calmly reading the gunman's statement on camera with a gun pointed at him. After Horowitz finished reading the statement the gunman surrendered his toy gun and was arrested. This event led Horowitz (whose long running syndicated series, Fight Back! originated from Channel 4) to start a successful campaign to ban "look-alike" toy guns in several states, including California and New York.

Later that year on October 1st 1987 viewers watched anchorman Kent Shocknek and weatherman Christopher Nance dive under their news desk during an after shock from the Whittier Narrows earthquake. Kent Shocknek would never live down this event and forever be known as Kent “After-Shocknek”. It should also be noted that Kent Shocknek was later honored by the Red Cross and by a few cities for demonstrating how to behave during an earthquake.

On April 30th 1992, the second day of the Los Angeles Riots, KNBC News was covering the historic event nonstop. But that evening the station decided to suspend it’s around the clock riot coverage to air the series finale of The Cosby Show giving viewers a brief Mental Sorbet. Following the broadcast Bill Cosby went on the air and asked Angelinos to pray for peace.
This studio hosted production of many of the best-remembered game and variety shows from the 1950s through the 1990s, including The Tonight Show beginning in 1972. In that year, Johnny Carson moved the show to California from New York where it remained until 2009 when Jay Leno handed hosting duties to Conan O'Brien. During the late 1960s, the Carson Tonight Show would move for periods to Burbank, using the Bob Hope Stage 3 to video-tape a live feed to the East Coast. After the permanent move to Burbank, Bob Hope's show taped on Stage 3, with The Tonight Show taking a hiatus while Hope produced his specials.

January 17, 1949
The Goldbergs debuts as television's first situation comedy. 

The show, which evolved from a nearly 20-year-old popular radio program of the same name, followed the adventures of a middle-class Jewish family in the Bronx. Gertrude Berg played gossipy housewife Molly Goldberg, and Philip Loeb played her husband, Jake, who worked in the clothing business. They had two teenagers, Sammy and Rosalie.
In each episode, the family would face another typical middle-class problem--and Molly enjoyed trying to help the neighbors in her apartment complex solve their problems, too. Later, when the fictitious family moved from the Bronx to suburban Haverville, the cast was joined by philosophical Uncle David, Sammy's fiancee (who later became his wife), her mother, and new neighbors. In 1952, Loeb was blacklisted for alleged Communist sympathies.
The show's sponsor, General Foods, dropped the series, and the show moved to NBC-without Loeb, though Berg had fought to keep him aboard. Loeb declared under oath he had never been a member of the Communist Party, and the charges were never proved, but his career was destroyed. He died in 1955 after taking a fatal overdose of sleeping pills in a hotel room. The show ran until 1954.
January 17, 1994
The Northridge earthquake at 04:31 Pacific Standard Time in Reseda, a neighborhood in Los Angeles, California, lasting for about 10–20 seconds. 
The earthquake had a "strong" moment magnitude (Mw) of 6.7, but the ground acceleration was one of the highest ever instrumentally recorded in an urban area in North America, measuring 1.8g (16.7 m/s2) with strong ground motion felt as far away as Las Vegas, Nevada, about 220 miles (360 km) from the epicenter. The peak ground velocity in this earthquake at the Rinaldi Receiving station was 183 cm/s (6.59 km/h or 4.09 mph), the fastest peak ground velocity ever recorded. In addition, two 6.0 Mw aftershocks occurred. The first about 1 minute after the initial event and the second approximately 11 hours later, the strongest of several thousand aftershocks in all. The death toll came to a total of 57 people, and there were over 8,700 injured. In addition, the earthquake caused an estimated $20 billion in damage, making it one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history.
Television, movie, and music productions affected
The earthquake disrupted production of movies and TV shows filming in the area at the time. The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Profit and Loss" was being filmed at the time and actors Armin Shimerman and Edward Wiley left the Paramount Pictures lot in full Ferengi and Cardassian makeup respectively. The season five episode of Seinfeld entitled "The Pie" was due to begin shooting on the day of the earthquake before stage sets were damaged. CBS's The Price is Right which shoots live in the CBS Television Center, had minor set damage. NBC's The Tonight Show, hosted by Jay Leno, took place in the NBC Studios in Burbank, close to the epicenter of the quake. Also, ABC's General Hospital, which shoots in Los Angeles, was heavily affected by the Northridge earthquake. The set, which is at ABC Television Center, suffered major damage including partial structural collapse and water damage.
All of the earthquake sequences in the Wes Craven film New Nightmare were filmed a month prior to the Northridge quake. The real quake struck only weeks before filming was completed. Subsequently, a team was sent out to film footage of the quake damaged areas of the city. The cast and crew had initially thought that the scenes that were filmed before the real quake struck were a bit overdone, but when viewed after the real quake hit, they were horrified by the realism of it.
Michael Jackson had been due to begin recording of his new album HIStory on the day of the earthquake, but Jackson's entourage moved recording to New York City. They returned to the studio in Los Angeles some six months later.
Some archives of film and entertainment programming were also affected. For example, the original 35 mm master films for the 1960s sitcom My Living Doll were destroyed in the earthquake. The earthquake knocked Los Angeles' radio and television stations off the air. However, they later came back on the air for earthquake coverage.
NBC affiliate KNBC was the first television station to go off the air while reporters and anchors Kent Shocknek, Colleen Williams and Chuck Henry were producing special reports throughout the morning. Other stations KTLA, KCAL, KCBS and KABC were also knocked off the air. Afterward, anchors and reporters Stan Chambers and Hal Fishman of KTLA, Laura Diaz and Harold Greene of KABC, John Beard of KTTV, and Tritia Toyota of KCBS were doing coverage throughout the morning.
Radio stations such as KFI, KFWB and KNX were on the air during the main tremor, causing severe static on the airwaves. KROQ-FM's Kevin and Bean morning show asked those people tuned in to stay out of their homes. KLOS Morning Duo Mark & Brian's morning show was also affected. The duo spoke to Los Angeles area residents about their situation.
FM radio stations such as KRTH, KIIS-FM, KOST-FM and KCBS-FM were bringing special reports on the earthquake when morning show host Robert W. Morgan, Rick Dees and Charlie Tuna were calling Los Angeles residents and others from its sister stations to bring their belongings to the station and advising people not to drink water.

January 18, 1974
Six Million Dollar Man debuts.

The popularity of the Six Million Dollar Man, starring Lee Majors as Steve Austin, the world's first bionic man, inspires a superhero trend in the late 1970s, which spawns shows like Wonder Woman in 1976 and The Incredible Hulk in 1978. In 1975 two-part episode entitled The Bionic Woman introduced the character of Jaime Sommers, a professional tennis player who rekindled an old romance with Austin, only to experience a parachuting accident that resulted in her being given bionic parts similar to Austin. Ultimately, however, her bionics failed and she died. The character was very popular, however, and the following season she was revived (having been cryogenically frozen) and was given her own spin-off series, The Bionic Woman, which lasted until 1978 when both it and The Six Million Dollar Man were simultaneously cancelled.

Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers returned in three subsequent made-for-television movies:
The Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman (1987), Bionic Showdown (1989) — which featured Sandra Bullock in an early role as a new bionic woman; and Bionic Ever After? (1994) in which Austin and Sommers finally marry. Majors reprised the role of Steve Austin in all three productions, which also featured Richard Anderson and Martin E. Brooks.
To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was".

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa