Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Miss Patti Page was the "singing rage" in 1950's America.
Celebrated for her hit recording of THE TENNESSEE WALTZ, Patti Page was sweet as a mint julep on a sultry, summer day, with a pert crown of blond hair and an incandescent smile.
Patti Page had a husky singing voice that was tinged with honey.
Aquiline and approachable , she wasn't "the girl the next door," but she was the kindly, inviting, suburban neighbor that folks adored.
Combine those characteristics with a high octane vocal power and you can see why the venerable Oldsmobile Division of General Motors sponsored her CBS-TV series, THE BIG RECORD.
The monochrome, musical variety hour was mounted as direct competition to NBC's long-tenured YOUR HIT PARADE, which had been presenting the USA's favorite tunes since it debuted on radio in the 1930's. While YOUR HIT PARADE gauged the popularity of a song by tracking sales of records and sheet music plus radio airplay, THE BIG RECORD wanted to strike a more contemporary chord. It focused on hit, 45 RPM singles from a wide range of artists.
The Wednesday night songfest ( airing at 8PM EST) lasted only one year on the Tiffany Network, in the 1957-58 Television Season. Oldsmobile gave Patti Page a lift to ABC for another year of THE OLDSMOBILE SHOW STARRING PATTI PAGE.
One footnote : Video Visionary Gary Smith, who would, with producing partner Dwight Hemion, go on to create some of the most amazing and memorable variety programming in television history, served as scenic designer for THE BIG RECORD. Enjoy!!!!
Thursday, November 21, 2013
What better way to start the holiday season than spending Friday with Frank?
As Sinatra swung through the Sixties, his frequent specials were truly event television.
His February 1969, CBS COLOR concert, simply titled SINATRA, offered Old Blue Eyes in his musical prime.
Here, in a clip from the EliaIglesias1121 YOU TUBE site, is the Chairman of the Board musically presaging the Apollo 11 lunar landing, backed by Don Costa and the big band on FLY ME TO THE MOON.
Friday, November 8, 2013
Frank Sinatra was the King of The World , before Earth's continents were digitally connected.
His voice could be heard anywhere on the planet, long before the age of global media.
That sound, textured by Jack Daniels, lived between the grooves of a vinyl disc, in the waves emanating from a hometown Radio outlet, or embedded in the scan lines of a local TV Station.
Sinatra was Show Biz Royalty and Italy was his ancestral home.
During a 1962 global tour in support of Children's charities, Old Blues did a monochrome concert on RAI-TV, then Italy's primary television network.
The Chairman of the Board's singing voice , in this studio session backed by pianist Bill Miller's sextet, is unmistakable, exhilarating and authentic.
The same cannot be said for the scratchy baritone who dubbed his few spoken lines into Italian.
Frank does 12 standards , in abridged arrangements by Neil Hefti , who composed the scores for such eclectic video efforts as THE ODD COUPLE and BATMAN.
Here from the HONEYBEE7700 YOU TUBE site is FRANK SINATRA IN ITALY.
Sunday, October 20, 2013
American television viewers have always loved cowboys.
Especially the gunslingers who could fire off one liners with the same speed and accuracy as a six-gun.
From Hopalong Cassidy and Hoss Cartwight to Bat Masterson and Bret Maverick we like our gunsmoke tinged with giggles.
In the mid to late 1960's, as the nation faced what was ,perhaps, the greatest social upheaval since the Civil War, TV audiences rode off to the Old West in search of escape.
Shows like BONANZA, GUNSMOKE and THE BIG VALLEY offered a rare respite from the daily angst of American life, as portrayed on Network News.
At NBC, there was a sense that viewers wanted a Western that offered cowpokes who could lasso big laughs between barroom brawls.
And so was born LAREDO, a fast, furious, funny , two fisted Old West adventure, focusing on a quartet of Texas Rangers, who were wrangled by their long-suffering Captain.
Neville Brand, who made his reputation playing Al Capone on THE UNTOUCHABLES, evidenced a great gift for comedy, starring along with Peter Brown, William
Smith and Phillip Carey as their Captain.
Produced by UNIVERSAL STUDIOS and RONCOM FILMS , LAREDO was spun off on NBC-TV from its long running hit, THE VIRGINIAN.
The LIVING COLOR series lasted only two seasons, and didn't have enough episodes to meet the threshold for successful syndication. But it leaves a great legacy in action and laughter.
Here from the MORERADIOFILM AND TV YOU TUBE SITE, here is the November 4, 1965 episode of LAREDO, entitled THE GOLDEN TRAIL.
Friday, September 20, 2013
Network Television in 1960, occasionally, offered optimism and elegance among the endless array of cops and cowboys.
As we entered the kinetic sixties, there were approx.52,000,000 TV sets in a country with a population of 179,323,175.
While weekly Prime Time took us to courtrooms and crime scenes , the sheriff's office and the surgical suite, some special programming could meet the standards of excellence set by video visionaries like Frank Stanton and Pat Weaver.
CBS would showcase Leonard Bernstein's NY Philharmonic concerts for young people.
ABC offered the innovative, if Kafka-esqe ,comedy of Ernie Kovacs.
NBC's Chet Huntley and David Brinkley guided voters and viewers into President John Kennedy's Camelot.
But the apex of television as an art form ,that year, was a vibrant, captivating hour of song, dance, music and comedy in LIVING COLOR called , simply ,ASTAIRE TIME.
The sophisticated hour was the third and final installment in a trilogy of terpsichorean fun
starring and produced by the legendary star of stage, screen, radio and nightclubs, Fred Astaire.
His first effort, 1958's AN EVENING WITH FRED ASTAIRE, won every major accolade and was the first musical program to be shot in filmic style and edited on COLOR videotape.
The 1959 sequel , ANOTHER EVENING WITH FRED ASTAIRE was also celebrated by viewers , professionals and critics, alike.
1960's ASTAIRE TIME, featured Astaire's dance partner, Barrie Chase, plus Jazz legends Count Basie and Joe Williams.
It was directed with a by iconic, producer/director Greg Garrison, whose career credits include THE BUICK-BERLE SHOW and THE DEAN MARTIN SHOW.
Choreographer Hermes Pan , one of Astaire's favorite collaborators in cinema, brought a deft and sweeping look to dance numbers.
Here, from the AMPOPFILMS YOU TUBE site, is ASTAIRE TIME.
Sunday, September 15, 2013
In the "swingin' sixties," the creative team at NBC's KRAFT MUSIC HALL decided to offer viewers something hipper than the than country-western balladeers, Broadway crooners and recipes for caramel apples that were a staple of the long running, high budget, weekly hour of music & comedy.
They struck a deal to bring a sanitized, but star-studded version of the FRIARS CLUB's off the record and off color "roasts" of the most famous and infamous names in show business.
In 1968, Johnny Carson, at the zenith of his TONIGHT SHOW career, and spending more time in divorce court that most lawyers, was the target and one of his own comic heroes: the one, the only Groucho Marx, took lethally funny aim.
From the BERNIE OWEN YOU TUBE site, here is an excerpt of THE FRIARS ROAST JOHNNY CARSON on THE KRAFT MUSIC HALL.
Sunday, September 1, 2013
How many television professionals could effortlessly alternate between aggressively interviewing the most interesting and powerful people on Earth and satirizing them in acerbically comic performances?
The late Sir David Frost did just that for almost six decades.
The international media impresario died suddenly, yesterday, leaving an amazing legacy in video.
David Parradine Frost, the son of a Minister, was a Knight in his native England UK and a true Citizen of the World.
He was in the second wave of Television broadcasters. Frost was one of those who learned their craft in front of the camera as the medium evolved and matured, not behind the microphone in radio studios, as had their predecessors. His work resonated with British Baby Boomers, who were questioning the values and institutions that their parents saved in World War Two.
Frost forged a new genre in Television as the point man on the BBC's groundbreaking, comedy program, THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS in the 1960's. He also hosted a subsequent, abortive, American version on NBC. While the show was rejected, Frost was embraced by stateside audiences.
A charter member of the international Jet Set, in the 1970's , Frost personified the frequent flyer. He hosted a daily, syndicated talk show for GROUP W BROADCASTING, based in New York, and actually commuted to the UK to star in a weekly interview program.
Like Playboy's Hugh Hefner, his most intimate, personal relationships made global headlines. He exemplified the MOD sensibilities of the immediate, post-MAD MEN era. He produced and hosted television shows in America, The UK and Australia. He also produced films and wrote books.
For this smart, savvy, multi-national, multi-media, multi-tasker, life, like television, was a global affair.
David Frost will best be remembered for eliciting a long-awaited apology for the Watergate affair from disgraced, former President Richard Nixon, during a landmark series of interviews he conducted with Mr. Nixon in 1976. That tense exchange was, itself, chronicled in a Broadway show and an Academy Award nominated film.
Frost began his storied career as a child of the burgeoning television generation and lived to be a respected, recognized elder statesman of international media.
Here, from ABC NEWS is David Muir with a remembrance of Sir David Frost. R.I.P.