Tuesday, August 12, 2014
There is no worse circumstance for a King than to suffer exile within the borders of his own land.
In 1968, show business was abuzz with talk of an Elvis Presley "come-back" special.
The only problem was that he had never gone away.
He was still making gold records, his films still made money and he was a staple in Las Vegas nightclubs, but this sovereign of Rock N' Roll Royalty had been a casualty of conquering hoards:
The British Invasion, spearheaded by some of his biggest acolytes, like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, had dislodged him on the music charts, the radio dial and even at the box office.
His voice was, and is, timeless, but his style of music fell into disfavor, as Teens rocked out to the Mersey Beat and some even deserted him for the Motown Sound.
In 1968, Presley's longtime mentor and manager, Col. Tom Parker made a deal to bring Elvis back to Television, starring in a LIVING COLOR special for NBC-TV, called ELVIS, that was sponsored by the Singer Sewing Machine Company.
The hour was a concert with some musical vignettes which pre-saged the MTV videos that would come two decades later.
Shot on NBC's cavernous Stage 4 in Burbank, CA, the glossy and fast-paced hour was Produced and Directed by the versatile Steve Binder, who had, four years earlier, brought the hit T.A.M.I. Show to theaters via the Electronovision technology.
Binder had extensive experience in more traditional comedy/variety programming, having just come from three years of Directing CBS-TV's DANNY KAYE SHOW. His producing partner, Bones Howe, supervised the musical mix.Video veteran, Bob Finkel, who oversaw the DINAH SHORE CHEVY SHOW on NBC-TV served as Executive Producer.
There is nothing we can say about Elvis or his incomparable talents that his performance can't say more eloquently or with greater clarity.
This NBC special garnered a huge audience and re-kindled the King's career.
The rest, as it is often said, is Television History.
Here from the JULIAN R. YOU TUBE site is ELVIS. Enjoy!!!!:)
Monday, July 7, 2014
SIGNALING THE FUTURE - TELSTAR IN TAKES TV INTO ORBIT - NBC/CBS/BBC/EUROVISION - CIRCA JULY 23, 1962
On the afternoon of July 23, 1962 the World shrunk in a matter of minutes, as Telstar, the first global communications satellite in human history, connected the USA and Europe for an inter-continental, cultural exchange, of sorts.
It was a LIVE program that started with video of the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower, followed by coverage of a Phillies-Cubs Game in Chicago and a greeting from President Kennedy in Washington DC.
While Telstar orbited the Earth every 90 minutes, it could only maintain a useable signal between the American Uplink in Andover, Maine and the UK receive site in Goonhilly Downs for a 20 minute interval.
Later that same day , the first ,Trans-Atlantic phone call, made via Satellite, was placed. Telstar was only in service for about six months, until it's transistors failed in February of 1963.
But, it only needed 20 minutes to change the course of history. Here is a link to NBC News coverage of this seismic shift in communications technology that brought the continents closer together without their moving an inch!!!:)
Saturday, June 14, 2014
We all wanted to win the Race for Space, but nobody wanted to win the Race for Extinction.
The Kennedy years were kinetic. The change it fostered was a threat to those who found comfort in the status quo.
Prime time, network television was the nation's primary source for benign ,escapist entertainment.
In 1960, TV's undisputed King of Comedy was comedian, singer, actor, hoofer, philanthropist, real estate mogul, Bob Hope, and he never disappointed his audience or his sponsor.
Nobody would accuse him of delivering scathing satire, but he reflected the country's penchant for poking holes in the inflated egos of Politicians, Movie Stars and whomever occupied the Kremlin.
He was the Comic In Chief who would entertain America's military wherever in the world they served.
Bob Hope was beloved for that commitment, alone.
Here, from the 20th Century Vision You Tube Channel is a 1960 outing of THE BOB HOPE BUICK SHOW, in LIVING MONOCHROME.
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Yeah, they radiate a sense of entitlement.
Baby Boomers ( like me ) know better.
The world was in Black and White until the day in 1966 when a relative or friends parents bought a COLOR TV.
Okay, maybe we have that entitlement thing going , too.
But in the Fall of 1954, the mighty CBS Television Network was still green with envy and red with embarrassment, almost a year after the F.C.C rejected the CBS mechanical system for non-compatible COLOR TELEVISION, and selected the RCA electronic system of LIVING COLOR TV as the national, broadcast standard.
CBS founder William Paley was livid that his professional rival David Sarnoff won the battle for COLOR TV, but wanted to know if tinted television could make for a greener bottom line.
CBS spent the next three years producing COLOR episodes of B&W shows on the Tiffany Network's primetime and daytime schedule.
One of the most popular CBS series was THE BURNS AND ALLEN SHOW, featuring one of America's favorite comedy couples.
The only installment of their show to be produced in COLOR aired just once on October 4, 1954.
By 1958, Paley decided to cast the world into shades of gray and shut down COLOR production.
He was tired of losing face, if not audience, to Sarnoff.
CBS would, when confronted with a FULL COLOR schedule on NBC, finally committed to COLOR in the Fall of 1966.
Here, from the VINTAGE COMEDY VAULT You Tube Site, is only episode of THE BURNS AND ALLEN SHOW to be produced and aired, as announcer Harry Von Zell says under credits,"in full color on color television receivers and in compatible black & white on regular black & white receivers."
Friday, April 25, 2014
When ABC-TV was viewed as less than a network, in the 1960's, the then third-placed web had but one glittering, crowning jewel on its prime time schedule.
Amid an ocean of winsome sitcoms, urbane spies, world weary cops and wholesome cowboys.
It was a throwback to a simpler, but perhaps more elegant, time in show business: a star-studded vaudeville revue.
Produced in modest studio that was a retro-fitted theater, ABC-TV engaged two of the brightest producers in commercial television to mount a bombastic variety show , replete with comedy, music and novelty acts that would be in league with legends like Sullivan and Caesar.
There would be rotating hosts who ran the gamut from Fred Astaire to Bing Crosby to Adam West in his Batman persona.
Bill Harbach and Nick Vanoff, both veterans of Steve Allen's landmark TONIGHT SHOW on NBC-TV, were charged shaping a show that would embody classic showbiz values ,while attracting viewers from the Baby-Boom generation,.
What they created was THE HOLLYWOOD PALACE.
Friday, March 21, 2014
Jack Benny was a master of comic timing.
He knew how to seed and sustain a laugh.
He could turn a pause into a punchline.
He knew when to exit...and as he proved in 1966 , he knew when to return.
America's favorite cheapskate, the comic genius who had starred in Vaudeville, Films, and who helped to define comedy on Radio, had not done television for over a year, when
he stepped before the LIVNG COLOR cameras at NBC's sprawling Burbank,CA facility to tape THE JACK BENNY HOUR in the Fall of 1966.
The full episode posted below, from the JILL LACHENMAYER YOU TUBE site, is a prime example of the gentle, but absurd ( and sometimes, ad-libbed ) comedy that made Benny a comic Icon and a television pioneer.
His guests included comedian Phyllis Diller, singer Trini Lopez and The Smothers Brothers ( before they were controversial ).
American Motors was his sponsor and this Special pre-empted a first-run episode of STAR TREK, trading a Starship Captain for a King of Comedy.
You'll also note that on this occasion Benny's venerable theme song, LOVE IN BLOOM, was replaced with an upbeat instrumental theme that had a swinging sixties beat.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
DINAH SHORE GIVES CHEVROLET A LIFT ACROSS THE U.S.A - THE CHEVY SHOW STARRING DINAH SHORE - NBC-TV - CIRCA 1/13/57
At NBC-TV in the late 1950's and early 1960's, nothing could have been finer than Sunday night with Dinah ...The vibrant,vivacious Dinah Shore.
If Lucille Ball was CBS's First Lady of Comedy, Dinah Shore was NBC's Queen of Musical Variety.
The Chevrolet Motorcar Division of General Motors put the honey-voiced hostess in the driver's seat ,when it placed THE CHEVY SHOW on the NBC Prime time Schedule in 1956.
It proved to be a video showcase for Ms. Shore's manifold talents and a video showroom for Chevy's, Eisenhower-era, chrome carriages that came from Detroit, complete with Body by Fisher.
She was not the first woman to carry a weekly comedy/music series on network television.
Kate Smith and Martha Raye were there first.
Chevrolet provided her custom built theme song...SEE THE U.S.A IN YOUR CHEVROLET...but it was her inspired choice to seal every show with a big, smooch of a kiss that became a trademark for her myriad viewers and a target for a multitude of satirists.
Director Bob Banner used THE CHEVY SHOW to experiment with some high octane video effects that were ahead of their time. The show was one of the network's first, weekly series to be produced in RCA COMPATIBLE COLOR and ,subsequently, in LIVING COLOR ON NBC. Banner employed , early, COLOR CHROMA-KEY techniques and , often, he involved the crew and the studio technology in an attempt to enliven and enrich the staging of musical numbers and comedy sketches.
Here , from the SPIFFYKITCHEN YOU TUBE SITE, is the first block of the January 13, 1957 episode of THE DINAH SHORE CHEVY SHOW on NBC-TV. Check out the opening number and what may be the the most unusual use of a fork-lift as a prop in early television!!!
The show was produced LIVE FROM NEW YORK and yes, the announcer is the incomparable Don Pardo.