Saturday, June 12, 2021

Your Mental Sorbet: "Broadway’s Back!" with Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jimmy Fallon | The Tonight Show

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

Jimmy and Lin-Manuel Miranda perform a song about every musical they can’t wait to see when Broadway returns and sing a parody of Hamilton's "You'll Be Back" with the help of special guest Broadway legends Olga Merediz, Phylicia Rashad, Kristin Chenoweth, Christopher Jackson, Laura Benanti and Jimmy Smits.

Image result for wash your hands gif


Stay Tuned and Wash Your Hands 


Tony Figueroa

Monday, June 07, 2021

This Week in Television History: June 2021 PART II

 

June 9, 1961

Michael J. Fox was born, in Canada. 










He first became known for his role as Alex P. Keaton on the popular sitcom Family Ties, and went on to star in such films as Back to the Future and Teen Wolf as well as the TV series Spin City. In 1999, he announced that he was battling Parkinson's Disease. He left Spin City in 2000 but later guest starred on such shows as Scrubs and Boston Legal.

Quotes

My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations.

– Michael J. Fox

Early Career

Actor. Born Michael Andrew Fox, on June 9, 1961, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Fox began using the middle initial 'J' (presumably smoother-sounding than 'A') professionally to distinguish himself from another acting "Michael Fox." Michael J. Fox first achieved stardom in 1982, as the acquisitive Reagan-era poster-boy Alex P. Keaton on the popular television sitcom Family Ties.

Hailing from Canada, where he grew up the youngest of five children to Bill and Phyllis Fox, Michael struggled in school and was too small - he is five feet, four inches tall - to compete in his favorite activity, ice hockey. He found an outlet in drama class, and in 1976 made his professional debut in the CBS series Leo and Me at age 15 (playing a 10-year-old). After starring in the CBS movie Letters from Frank (also filmed in Canada), Fox dropped out of high school and drove to Los Angeles with his father. There, he found work in the series Palmerstown, U.S.A. before landing the role in Family Ties, where he wooed audiences with his confident charm and impeccable comic timing for seven years.

Big Screen Success

He also had enormous success on the big screen, playing Marty McFly in Robert Zemeckis' zany romp, Back to the Future (1985). After playing comic roles in Teen Wolf and The Secret of My Success, Fox wanted to broaden his range and took some unlikely dramatic turns, playing a factory worker in Light of Day, a cocaine-snorting fact checker in Bright Lights, Big City, and earning critical acclaim for his starring role alongside Sean Penn in Brian DePalma's Vietnam saga Casualties of War.

Spin City

Audiences applauded Fox's return to Back to the Future, for sequels II and III in 1989 and 1990. His pitch-perfect portrayal of a George Stephanopoulos-type character in The American President (1995) earned Fox accolades once again, but it was his ceremonious return to prime time television in the ABC sitcom Spin City, which launched in 1996, that put Fox back where he belonged - delighting audiences on a weekly basis with a schedule that allowed him more time with his family. In 1999, he contributed his trademark voice and comic flare as the title character (a little white mouse) in the film adaptation of E.B. White's Stuart Little. Fox was honored with a star on the fabled Hollywood Walk of Fame in December 2002.

Battle with Parkinson's Disease

In late 1999, Fox made the startling announcement that he had been battling Parkinson's disease since 1991, and had even undergone brain surgery to alleviate tremors. Despite Spin City's incredible success and a showering of Emmy and Golden Globe awards, Fox announced in early 2000 that he would leave the show, which he also executive produced, to spend time with his family, and to concentrate on raising money and awareness for Parkinson's disease - including the May 2000 launch of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. Fox won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his final season on Spin City, along with the respect and support of the entire Hollywood community.

In 2004, Fox guest starred in the television comedy Scrubs as Dr. Kevin Casey, a surgeon with obsessive-compulsive disorder. In 2006, he appeared in a recurring role on the drama Boston Legal. Fox was nominated for an Emmy Award for best guest appearance. In 2009, he appeared on the dark drama, Rescue Me, and his television special Michael J. Fox: Adventures of an Incurable Optimist, based on his best-selling book by the same title, aired on ABC.

Fox married the actress Tracy Pollan (who played Ellen, Alex Keaton's girlfriend, on Family Ties) in 1988. The couple has four children: son Sam, twin girls Aquinnah and Schuyler, and daughter Esmé Annabelle.



Stay Tuned


Tony Figueroa

This Week in Television History: June 2021 PART I

  

June 5, 1956

Elvis rocks The Milton Berle Show



By the end of 1955, Elvis Presley had nearly 18 months of nonstop touring behind him and two dozen singles already under his belt, though his only hits were on the Country and Western charts. He was a hardworking and hard-to-categorize up-and-comer, but the next six months would make him a superstar. It was his debut single on RCA/Victor, his new label, which propelled Elvis to the top of the pop charts. But if "Heartbreak Hotel" is what made him the king of the radio and record stores during the spring of 1956, it was television that truly made him the King of Rock and Roll. And if any one moment might be called his coronation, it was his appearance on The Milton Berle Show on this day in 1956, when he set his guitar aside and put every part of his being into a blistering, scandalous performance of "Hound Dog."

This was not Presley's first television appearance, nor even his first appearance onMilton Berle. Between January and March 1956, Elvis made six appearances on Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey's Stage Show, and on April 3, he appeared for the first time with Uncle Miltie. But every one of those appearances featured Elvis either in close-up singing a slow ballad, or full body but with his movements somewhat restricted by the acoustic guitar he was playing. It was on his second Milton Berle Show appearance that he put the guitar aside and America witnessed, for the very first time, the 21-year-old Elvis Presley from head to toe, gyrating his soon-to-be-famous (or infamous) pelvis.

Reaction to Elvis' performance in the mainstream media was almost uniformly negative. "Mr. Presley has no discernible singing ability....For the ear, he is an unutterable bore," wrote critic Jack Gould in the next day's New York Times. "His one specialty is an accented movement of the body that heretofore has been primarily identified with the repertoire of the blonde bombshells of the burlesque runway. The gyration never had anything to do with the world of popular music and still doesn't." In the New York Daily News, Ben Gross described Presley's performance as "tinged with the kind of animalism that should be confined to dives and bordellos," while the New York Journal-American's Jack O'Brien said that Elvis "makes up for vocal shortcomings with the weirdest and plainly suggestive animation short of an aborigine's mating dance." Meanwhile, the Catholic weekly America got right to the point in its headline: "Beware of Elvis Presley."

June 6, 1971

The Ed Sullivan Show airs for the very last time. 













Sunday nights, 8:00 pm, CBS. Ask almost any American born in the 1950s or earlier what television program ran in that timeslot on that network, and they'll probably know the answer: The Ed Sullivan Show. For more than two decades, Sullivan's variety show was the premiere television showcase for entertainers of all stripes, including borscht-belt comedians, plate-spinning vaudeville throwbacks and, most significantly, some of the biggest and most current names in rock and roll. Twenty-three years after its 1948 premiere, The Ed Sullivan Show had its final broadcast on this day in 1971.

In its first eight years of existence, there was no such thing as rock and roll to be featured on the program originally called Toast of the Town, yet even its first broadcast made music history when Broadway composers Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II gave the world its first taste of the score from their upcoming musical, South Pacific. Over the years, live performances of new and current Broadway shows were featured regularly on Ed Sullivan, including Julie Andrews singing "Wouldn't It Be Loverly?" from My Fair Lady and Richard Burton singing "What Do The Simple Folk Do?" from Camelot. Classical and opera performers also made frequent appearances, but of course The Ed Sullivan Show is now remembered most for providing so many iconic moments in the history of televised rock and roll.

Elvis Presley's first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, in September 1956, was actually one of his most restrained and least thrilling. It was notable, however, given Ed Sullivan's assertion earlier that year that he'd never allow "The King" on his show. By the time the Beatles rolled around, Sullivan was far more comfortable with the hysteria young Elvis had caused. In fact, it was Ed Sullivan personally witnessing Beatlemania up close at London's Heathrow airport in 1963 that led the Beatles being booked for their historic February 1964 American television debut. Through the rest of the 60s, The Ed Sullivan Show continued to host the day's biggest rock acts: The Rolling Stones, The Supremes, The Doors, The Mamas and the Papas, Janis Joplin and more.

Gladys Knight and the Pips were the musical guests on the final episode of The Ed Sullivan Show, which was cancelled shortly after its rerun broadcast on this day in 1971.



Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Monday, May 24, 2021

This Week in Television History: May 2021 PART IV

 

June 1, 1926

Andy Samuel Griffith is born. 

Griffith was born in Mount Airy, North Carolina, the only child of Geneva (née Nunn) and Carl Lee Griffith. At a very young age, Griffith had to live with relatives until his parents could afford to get a home of their own. Without a crib or a bed, he slept in drawers for a few months. In 1929, when Griffith was three years old, his father took a job working as a carpenter and was finally able to purchase a home in Mount Airy's "blue-collar" southside.

Like his mother, Griffith grew up listening to music. His father instilled a sense of humor from old family stories. By the time he entered school he was well aware that he was from what many considered the "wrong side of the tracks". He was a shy student, but once he found a way to make his peers laugh, he began to come out of his shell and come into his own.

As a student at Mount Airy High School, Griffith cultivated an interest in the arts, and he participated in the school's drama program. A growing love of music, particularly swing, would change his life. Griffith was raised Baptist and looked up to Ed Mickey, a minister at Grace Moravian Church, who led the brass band and taught him to sing and play the trombone. Mickey nurtured Griffith's talent throughout high school until graduation in 1944. Griffith was delighted when he was offered a role in The Lost Colony, a play still performed today on Roanoke Island. He performed as a cast member of the play for several years, playing a variety of roles, until he finally landed the role of Sir Walter Raleigh, the namesake of North Carolina's capital.

He began college studying to be a Moravian preacher, but he changed his major to music and became a part of the school's Carolina Play Makers. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and graduated with a bachelor of music degree in 1949. At UNC he was president of the UNC Men's Glee Club and a member of the Alpha Rho Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, America's oldest fraternity for men in music. He also played roles in several student operettas, including The Chimes of Normandy (1946), and Gilbert and Sullivan's The Gondoliers (1945), The Mikado (1948) and H.M.S. Pinafore (1949).

After graduation, he taught English for a few years at Goldsboro High School in Goldsboro, North Carolina, where he taught, among others, Carl Kasell. He also began to write.

Griffith's early career was as a monologist, delivering long stories such as What it Was, Was Football, which is told from the point of view of a rural backwoodsman trying to figure out what was going on in a football game. Released as a single in 1953 on the Colonial label, the monologue was a hit for Griffith, reaching number nine on the charts in 1954.

Griffith starred in a one-hour teleplay version of No Time for Sergeants (March 1955)—a story about a country boy in the US Air Force—on The United States Steel Hour, a television anthology series. He expanded that role in a full-length theatrical version of the same name (October 1955) on Broadway in New York City, New York. His Broadway career also included the title role in the 1957 musical, Destry Rides Again, co-starring Delores Gray. The show, with a score by Harold Rome, ran for more than a year.

Griffith later reprised his role for the film version (1958) of No Time for Sergeants; the film also featured Don Knotts, as a corporal in charge of manual-dexterity tests, marking the beginning of a life-long association between Griffith and Knotts. No Time for Sergeants is considered the direct inspiration for the later television situation comedy Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.

He also portrayed a US Coast Guard sailor in the feature film Onionhead (1958); it was neither a critical nor a commercial success.

In 1957 Griffith made his film début, starring in the film A Face in the Crowd. Although he plays a "country boy", this country boy is manipulative and power-hungry, a drifter who becomes a television host and uses his show as a gateway to political power. Co-starring Patricia Neal, Walter Matthau, Tony Franciosa, and Lee Remick (in her film début as well), this now-classic film, directed by Elia Kazan, showcases Griffith's powerful talents. Written by Budd Schulberg, and partly based on the on-stage phoniness of Arthur Godfrey, the film demonstrated, quite early on, the power that television can have upon the masses. This prescient film was seldom run on television until the 1990s.

A 2005 DVD reissue of A Face in the Crowd includes a mini-documentary on the film, with comments from Schulberg and surviving cast members Griffith, Franciosa, and Neal. In his interview, Griffith, revered for his wholesome image for decades, reveals a more complex side of himself. He recalls Kazan prepping him to shoot his first scene with Remick's teenaged baton twirler, who captivates Griffith's character on a trip to Arkansas. Griffith also expresses his belief that the film was far more popular and respected in more recent decades than it was when originally released.

Griffith's first appearance on television had been in 1955 in the one-hour teleplay of No Time for Sergeants on The United States Steel Hour. That was the first of two appearances on that series.

In 1960, Griffith appeared as a county sheriff (who was also a justice of the peace and the editor of the local newspaper) in an episode of Make Room for Daddy, starring Danny Thomas. This episode, in which Thomas' character is stopped for speeding in a little town, served as a backdoor pilot for The Andy Griffith Show. Both shows were produced by Sheldon Leonard.

Beginning in 1960, Griffith starred as Sheriff Andy Taylor in The Andy Griffith Show for the CBS television network. The show took place in the fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina, where Taylor, a widower, was the sheriff and town sage. The show was filmed at Desilu Studios, with exteriors filmed at Forty Acres in Culver City, CA.

From 1960 to 1965, the show co-starred character actor and comedian—and Griffith's longtime friend—Don Knotts in the role of Deputy Barney Fife, Taylor's best friend and partner. He was also Taylor's cousin in the show. In the series première episode, in a conversation between the two, Fife calls Taylor "Cousin Andy", and Taylor calls Fife "Cousin Barney". The show also starred child actor Ron Howard (then known as Ronny Howard), who played Taylor's only child, Opie Taylor.

It was an immediate hit. Although Griffith never received a writing credit for the show, he worked on the development of every script. While Knotts was frequently lauded and won multiple Emmy Awards for his comedic performances (as did Frances Bavier in 1967), Griffith was never nominated for an Emmy Award during the show's run.

In 1967, Griffith was under contract with CBS to do one more season of the show. However, he decided to quit the show to pursue a movie career and other projects. The series continued as Mayberry R.F.D., with Ken Berry starring as a widower farmer and many of the regular characters recurring, some regularly and some as guest appearances. Griffith served as executive producer (according to Griffith, he came in once a week to review the week's scripts and give input) and guest starred in five episodes (the pilot episode involved his marriage to Helen Crump). He made final appearances as Taylor in the 1986 reunion television film, Return to Mayberry, and in two reunion specials in 1993 and 2003.

After leaving his still-popular show in 1968, and starting his own production company (Andy Griffith Enterprises) in 1972, Griffith starred in less-successful television series such as Headmaster (1970), The New Andy Griffith Show (1971), Adams of Eagle Lake (1975) Salvage 1 (1979), and The Yeagers (1980).


After spending time in rehabilitation for leg paralysis from Guillain–Barré syndrome in 1986, Griffith returned to television as the title character, Ben Matlock, in the legal drama Matlock (1986–1995) on NBC and ABC. Matlock was a country lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia, who was known for his Southern drawl and for always winning his cases. Matlock also starred unfamiliar actors (both of whom were childhood fans of Andy Griffith) Nancy Stafford as Michelle Thomas (1987–1992) and Clarence Gilyard Jr. as Conrad McMasters (1989–1993). By the end of its first season it was a ratings powerhouse on Tuesday nights. Although the show was nominated for four Emmy Awards, Griffith once again was never nominated. He did, however, win a People's Choice Award in 1987 for his work as Matlock.

This show is mentioned on TV's longest animated show The Simpsons and is noted as Grandpa Simpson's favorite show as well as Marge Simpson's mother Jacqueline Bouvier's as well.

Griffith has also made other character appearances through the years on Playhouse 90, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., The Mod Squad, Hawaii Five-O, The Doris Day Show, Here's Lucy, The Bionic Woman, Fantasy Island, among many others. He also reprised his role as Ben Matlock on Diagnosis: Murder in 1997, and his most recent guest-starring role was in 2001 in an episode of Dawson's Creek.

For most of the 1970s, Griffith starred or appeared in many television films including The Strangers In 7A (1972), Go Ask Alice (1973), Winter Kill (1974), and Pray for the Wildcats (1974), which marked his first villainous role. Griffith appeared again as a villain in Savages (1974), a television film based on the novel Deathwatch (1972) by Robb White. Griffith received his only Primetime Emmy Award nomination as Outstanding Supporting Actor – Miniseries or a Movie for his role as the father of a murder victim in the television film Murder In Texas (1981) and won further acclaim for his role as a homicidal villain in the television film Murder in Coweta County (1983), co-starring music legend Johnny Cash as the sheriff. He also proved to be a good character actor and appeared in several television mini-series, including the television version of From Here to Eternity (1979), Roots: The Next Generations (1979), Centennial (1978), and the Watergate scandal-inspired Washington: Behind Closed Doors (1977), playing a former president loosely based on Lyndon B. Johnson.

Most of the TV movies Griffith starred in were also attempts to launch a new series. 1974's Winter Kill launched the short lived Adams of Eagle Lake which was canceled after only two episodes in 1975. A year later, he starred as a New York City attorney for the DA's office in Street Killing which also failed to launch a new series. Two television films for NBC in 1977, The Girl in The Empty Grave and Deadly Game, were attempts for Griffith to launch a new series featuring him as Police Chief Abel Marsh, a more hard-edged version of Andy Taylor; despite strong ratings for both films, both were unsuccessful.

While appearing in television films and guest roles on television series over the next 10 years, Griffith also appeared in two feature films, both of which flopped at the box office. He co-starred with Jeff Bridges as a crusty old 1930s western actor in the comedy Hearts of the West (1975), and he appeared alongside Tom Berenger as a gay villainous colonel and cattle baron in the western comedy spoof Rustlers' Rhapsody (1985).

He also appeared as an attorney in the NBC mini-series Fatal Vision in 1984, which is considered a precursor to his role in Matlock.

Griffith stunned many unfamiliar with his A Face in the Crowd work in the television film Crime of Innocence (1985), where he portrayed a callous judge who routinely sentenced juveniles to hard prison time. He further stunned audiences with his role as a dangerous and mysterious grandfather in 1995's Gramps, co-starring the late John Ritter. He also appeared as a comical villain in the spy movie spoof Spy Hard (1996) starring Leslie Nielsen. In the television film A Holiday Romance (1999), Griffith played the role of "Jake Peterson." In the film Daddy and Them (2001), Griffith portrayed a patriarch of a dysfunctional southern family.



In the feature film Waitress (2007), Griffith played a crusty diner owner who takes a shine to Keri Russell's character. His latest appearance was the leading role in the romantic comedy, independent film Play The Game (2009) as a lonely, widowed grandfather re-entering the dating world after a 60-year hiatus. The cast of Play The Game also included Rance Howard, Ron Howard's real-life father, who made appearances in various supporting roles on The Andy Griffith Show, and Clint Howard, Ron's younger brother, who had the recurring role of Leon (the kid offering the ice cream cone or peanut butter sandwich) on TAGS.

Griffith sang as part of some of his acting roles, most notably in A Face In The Crowd and in many episodes of both The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock. In addition to his recordings of comic monologues in the 1950s, he made an album of upbeat country and gospel tunes during the run of The Andy Griffith Show, which included a version of the show's theme sung by Griffith under the title "The Fishin' Hole". In recent years, he has recorded successful albums of classic Christian hymns for Sparrow Records. His most successful was the 1996 release I Love to Tell the Story: 25 Timeless Hymns, which was certified platinum by the RIAA.

Griffith appeared in country singer Brad Paisley's music video "Waitin' on a Woman" (2008). 


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Tony Figueroa