Saturday, February 26, 2011


In the monochrome haze of early-1960's,television, ABC-TV was widely viewed as half a network, with only a handful of hot shows. While it may have been Camelot in the White House,at ABC-TV, it was television's equivalent of Tobacco Road.

There was a ray of ratings hope.

Those few, rare, prime-time hits on the ALPHABET NETWORK, like 77 SUNSET STRIP, MAVERICK and THE FLINTSTONES appealed to a fast growing demographic that not only controlled the magic box in the living room, but also had ready,disposable income and had developed highly specific preferences in consumer goods.

For real-life MADMEN, teen aged TV viewers were a new and desirable target for the candy companies, acne creams, haircare products and board game manufacturers whose messages they crafted.

At ABC-TV, programmers felt that the young video viewers were salvation in the face of a mature audience, which had developed brand-loyalty to the venerable CBS and NBC television networks, along with the adult-oriented content they carried.

They also looked covetously at young viewers, with a hope for the network's future.

It was a valid vision: ABC would cultivate and retain that loyal, adolescent audience for decades ahead.

ABC-TV found one of it's biggest hits in a low,cramped, brick building under the elevated train tracks in blue collar, West Philadelphia. The ABC network's first affiliate, WFIL-TV (now, WPVI-TV), produced hour after hour of local programming in the mid-1950's.

Station management and local sponsors envisioned a teen dance party that would feature high school students rocking,rolling and strolling to the latest hit records.

The station's programming manager,executive producer, and television legend, Lew Klein was creating the show. He hired a handsome host ,who was only a few years older than the kids who guested on the video record hop. His name was Dick Clark. Lew knew he had something special and the audience agreed.

The viewer response and the ratings were extraordinary.

Next, Klein took the show to ABC programmers, who decided in 1957,to carry AMERICAN BANDSTAND on the network, so that a young and enthusiastic, national audience could watch. It became trend-setting, appointment television for the adoring adolescent audience.The show would air LIVE, daily, from WFIL-TV's compact studios until 1964, when network executives and Dick Clark moved it to ABC Television Center in Los Angeles.

The programming strategy was working. Teamed with THE MICKEY MOUSE CLUB and a young Johnny Carson hosting a comic game show called WHOM DO YOU TRUST?, ABC was suddenly a player in daytime, network television.

How could ABC capitalize on the nascent audience? Could news for Teens help retain viewers?

The ABC NEWS department was under-funded, under-staffed and under the gun. In an effort to capture a part of the growing afternoon audience, they mounted AMERICAN NEWSSTAND, a brief newscast that focused on ideas, issues and personalities that appealed to young viewers.Anchored by ABC correspondents Roger Sharp, Bill Lord and Dave Jayne, the youth oriented newscast aired each weekday after AMERICAN BANDSTAND.

In this clip , from the ROGERSHARPEARCHIVE you tube site, you'll see stories about the cold war, the selection of Col. John Glenn to be the first American in orbit a high school student's observations on unrest in the Dominican Republic and a new Rose Bowl queen.

There is a LIVE interview segment with rock and roll heartthrob Fabian, that's heavy on talk about his appearance on an upcoming ABC-TV drama( see the promo that follows the newscast), BUS STOP.

It would be 1976 before ABC-TV achieved first place ratings in prime time and daytime, and even longer until ABC NEWS , under the inspired vision and direction of Roone Arledge, would become the nation's primary source for news.


Saturday, February 19, 2011


Author, futurist , astronomer and visionary Arthur C. Clarke could see the face of the future, while others had amorphous dreams of mankind's destiny.

From his fertile mind came the notion of communications satellites, the idea for an elevator that would carry voyagers from Earth into space and the avant-garde ,galactic tale of 2001:A SPACE ODYSSEY.

In 1964, in an affable, but astonishing monologue,this renaissance man presaged the technological wonders of the decades to come, on HORIZON , the B&W, BBC-TV science series that was dedicated to exploring the future through the eyes of the finest minds in science and the humanities.

In his 91 years of forward thinking, so many of his predictions met fruition.

Here from the LUCIDL YOU TUBE site, is a prescient preview of the lives we are living , and perhaps wonders yet to come, from Arthur C. Clarke.Enjoy!!!!!!



Sunday, February 13, 2011


In the late 1970's , long before disco dancing gave way to digital downloads, two true signs of autumn in America were the prismatic glory of fall foliage and the high voltage promotional campaigns for the three major television networks.

A nation that actually left work at the office, that could not be reached by phone on the beach and that , somehow , survived with a news cycle that stretched silently from 11pm until the morning newspaper hit the front step at 7am would go on a peaceful summer sojourn to the beach or the lake.

When days grew shorter and school loomed large, the networks sang their siren song of new shows and major stars. Growing prime time audience was the prime objective.

In the 1976-77 television season, ABC-TV, long derided by CBS AND NBC as half a network, had jiggled it's way into first place, thanks to Charlie's Angels, Richie Cunningham, The Fonz, Laverne & Shirley and more.

The network had capitalized on its success in 1977 with the kinetic STILL THE ONE campaign, featuring the bouncy, upbeat, Orleans hit.

The alphabet network would next proudly proclaim WE'RE THE ONE!!!They had everything to gain and everything to loose when they launched this voluble and vibrant promo campaign , posted on the BOBTWCATLANTA YOU TUBE site.Enjoy!!!!!!

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Even in this age of 52 inch, flat panel televisions, there still may not be a screen big enough to display the full range of Sid Caesar's manifold, magnificent, manic comedic talents.

An acclaimed and beloved video virtuoso, Caesar's earliest work in the infant medium was brilliant, visionary and innovative. In fact, it was so good that his first series, 1949's ADMIRAL BROADWAY REVUE, was so successful that it was shut down after just one season on the air.

Caesar's smart and antic comedy motivated so many people to purchase television sets, that his first sponsor, Admiral electronics, cancelled that DuMont Network show, rather than investing in expanding it's manufacturing plant.

Here are three examples of his incomparable comedy and the brilliant ensemble cast that supported him on his three,landmark series, THE ADMIRAL BROADWAY REVUE (1949 DuMont Network & NBC-TV), YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS (1950-1954 NBC-TV ) and CAESAR'S HOUR(1954-1957 NBC-TV)..

On stage, Carl Reiner and Howard Morris, plus leading ladies Imogene Coca and Nanette Fabray, were the nucleus of Television's most explosive , and funniest chain reaction.

In the writer's room, Caesar commanded the most astonishing legion of superlative scribes, all of whom went on to change the architecture of American comedy. Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Larry Gelbart , Woody Allen , Lucille Kallen, Joe Stein and Mike Stewart.

The result was a vibrant ,LIVE, entertaining tapestry woven each Saturday night at Sid Caesar's skilled hand. American television viewers could not have been happier.

First, from the ROLKO 52 You Tube site, Caesar is the reluctant and rebellious honoree in a stinging parody of the hit biographical program, THIS IS YOUR LIFE.

Please, enjoy Caesar, Carl Reiner and Howard Morris in THIS IS YOUR STORY, from YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS.

Next, from CAESAR'S HOUR and displayed on the 94 LEE You Tube site, Reiner, Morris and Caesar send-up mid-1950's rock and roll stars as they portray THE THREE HAIRCUTS, singing their hit on the lipstick label,SO RARE.

From the second episode of ADMIRAL BROADWAY REVIEW, and posted on the JSTEEBER You Tube site, here is a televised tour de force. Caesar performs a high velocity, high voltage rendition of a five dollar date in Manhattan. Enjoy!!!!