Friday, June 14, 2019

Encore Podcast: The Rise and Fall of "Moonlighting"



When the Directors Guild of America announced its award nominations in 1986, history was made. For the very first time, one TV show was nominated for best direction in a comedy and best direction in a drama -- "Moonlighting." The combination detective series-screwball comedy thrived on romantic tension for three seasons in the mid-1980s -- until the lead characters finally got together and the show's creators weren't quite sure what to do next.

Sources:

"Cybill Shepherd's Comeback: Duelling for Dollars," Bill Davidson, TV Guide, December 7, 1985

"Behind the Turmoil on 'Moonlighting': Cybill Won't Be Tamed," Michael Leahy, TV Guide, May 30, 1987


"The Madcap Behind 'Moonlighting,' " Joy Horowitz, The New York Times Magazine, March 30, 1986

" 'Moonlighting' Makes Light of 15 Emmy Losses: Mom Goes to Her Reward But TV Show Didn't," Los Angeles Times, September 24, 1986

"Writer of 'Moonlighting' Cast in a Different Glow," Steve Daley, The Chicago Tribune, March 11, 1986

"Glenn Gordon Caron Discusses Working with Cybill Shepherd on 'Moonlighting,' " emmytvlegends.org

"Glenn Gordon Caron Discusses the Tone of 'Moonlighting,' " emmytvlegends.org

Friday, June 7, 2019

New podcast: A Short, Unhappy "Life with Lucy"

One of the most anticipated shows of the 1986-87 season was "Life with Lucy," Lucille Ball's return to weekly TV after 12 years. Ball's plan was to get the band back together by turning to the writers and cast members she'd worked with for decades in a show loaded with slapstick comedy and physical pratfalls. But Ball was 75 and her co-star, Gale Gordon, was 80 -- and, like them, the formula that had worked so well for Ball for years was showing its age.

Sources:

I Loved Lucy: My Friendship with Lucille Ball, by Lee Tannen

"Lucy, Coming to Life," Tom Shales, The Washington Post, September 19, 1986

TV Party! Television's Untold Tales, by Billy Ingram

What Were They Thinking? The 100 Dumbest Events in Television History, by David Hoftstede

Friday, May 31, 2019

Encore Podcast: The Quiz Show Scandals - "The $64,000 Question"




During the summer of 1955, a new TV show kept people in front of their sets on hot Tuesday nights. “The $64,000 Question” was a big-money quiz show that made its contestants instant celebrities and the show even displaced “I Love Lucy” as the nation’s top TV program. What nobody realized at the time was that the show was planned, paced and cast like a drama, and a contestant’s success depended not on the questions he or she answered correctly, but on a sponsor who would drop you when you ceased to be useful.


Sources:
TV Game Shows, by Maxine Fabe
“The Cop and the $64,000 Question,” TV Guide, July 9, 1955
“A Summer Show Hits the Jackpot: $64,000 Prize, Carefully Picked Contestants Keep Nation Glued to Its Television Sets,” TV Guide, August 20, 1955
“Come and Get It: TV Giveaway Shows Lure Viewers with Bigger and Bigger Jackpots,” TV Guide, December 31, 1955
“The Quiz Show Scandals: An Editorial,” TV Guide, October 24, 1959

“Letters,” TV Guide, November 21, 1959

Friday, May 3, 2019

Encore podcast: "The Andy Griffith Show" and How It Grew




"The Andy Griffith Show” is Griffith’s best work — certainly his most personal. It was never out of TV’s Top 10 programs for its entire eight-season run, and it inspired a spinoff series, a TV movies and several reunion specials. Fifty years after it left the air, the reruns continue. Griffith never won an Emmy Award, but he was the guiding creative force behind the show, building it into a situation comedy with heart as well as humor — and shaping the relationship between himself and Don Knotts, as deputy Barney Fife, to reflect the relationship between two friends in one of his favorite radio shows, the comic serial “Lum and Abner.”




Sources:
"Andy Griffith: Cornball with the Steel-Trap Mind," Lee Edson, TV Guide, January 28 and February 4, 1961
" 'The Andy Griffith Show' Has H.A.Q. (High Acceptability Quotient)," TV Guide, May 11, 1963
"The Wondrous Andy Griffith TV Machine," Richard Warren Lewis, TV Guide, July 13 and July 20, 1968
The Andy Griffith Show, by Richard Kelly
The Andy Griffith Show Book, by Ken Beck and Jim Clark
"Richard Linke, Andy Griffith's Talent Manager, Dies at 98," Sam Roberts, The New York Times, June 20, 2016 



Friday, April 26, 2019

Encore podcast: A Short History of Ridiculous Sponsor Interference




For almost as long as there has been broadcasting, there has been commercial sponsorship. But from the 1930s through the 1960s, sponsors had an unusual amount of power because, through advertising agencies, they owned entire blocks of time on the program schedule and produced their own shows. In this episode we look at a few examples of sponsor power run amok, resulting in complications that were sometimes dangerous, sometimes just silly. Along the way we will sample clips from “The Jack Benny Program,” “The Flintstones,” “I Love Lucy,” “Playhouse 90,” “The $64,000 Question” and “30 Rock,” among others.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Raymond Burr's Secrets and Lies




When Raymond Burr died in 1993, he was eulogized around the world as the star of "Perry Mason" and "Ironside." But the obituaries were notable for what they didn't say as much as for what they did say. None of them mentioned that Burr was gay -- he had been closeted all his life. And most of them mentioned commonly-accepted facts about Burr -- that he was twice widowed, that he lost a son to leukemia and that he fought in World War II. None of that was true, but it was part of the complicated biography Burr had built for himself.


Sources:

Hiding in Plain Sight: The Secret Life of Raymond Burr, by Michael Seth Starr

Friday, April 5, 2019

Encore podcast: Ed Sullivan, American Gatekeeper

In 1948, Ed Sullivan began hosting a weekly variety series on CBS-TV. His background as a newspaper columnist served him well — he had an unerring instinct for what people wanted to see, and he used his unique power to become an influential American gatekeeper for most of the 1950s and ’60s. We take a look a Sullivan’s influence, including “blessing” Elvis Presley and the Beatles by praising them on the air and reassuring anxious parents of teenagers. We also review his feuds with the likes of Steve Allen, Jackie Mason and Buddy Holly.