Friday, December 14, 2018

The Miracle of "A Charlie Brown Christmas"

"A Charlie Brown Christmas" wasn't intentionally created to be timeless, but because of its simplicity and sincerity, timeless it is. Miraculously, it avoids every cliche associated with children's animation and is a perfect blending of music, words and images that clearly conveys one man's vision and philosophy -- Charles Schulz, who drew "Peanuts" from 1950 until his death in 2000.

Sources:

Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography, by David Michaelis

A Charlie Brown Religion: Exploring the Spiritual Life and Work of Charles Schulz, by Stephen J. Lind

"How 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' Almost Wasn't," Jennings Brown, ny.com, November 16, 2016

"The 'Charlie Brown Christmas' Special Was the Flop That Wasn't," Carrie Hagen, smithsonian.com, December 9, 2015

Friday, December 7, 2018

Sonny and Cher's Long, Strange TV Trip



The career odyssey of Sonny and Cher began in a recording studio, led to an abortive attempt at movies and finally to TV, where their comedy-variety show was one of the most popular of the 1970s. At the same time, it shaped Cher as a showbiz and fashion icon and led to the breakup of their marriage in front of all America, and then their reconciliation -- on the tube, at least.


Sources:

Television Variety Shows, by David Inman

"The Beat Goes On ... Again," Dick Adler, TV Guide, March 18, 1972

"The Party's Over: Sonny and Cher's Last Show Was Taped in an Atmosphere of Desperate Optimism," Rowland Barber, TV Guide, June 1, 1974

"Cher ... Without Sonny," Rowland Barber, TV Guide, April 12, 1975

"The Life and Loves of Sonny and Cher," Rowland Barber, TV Guide, June 5, 1976

Friday, November 30, 2018

Encore podcast: "The Hopalong Cassidy Magical Marketing Machine"


In 1948, William Boyd made a large bet on television, and on demographics. He had an idea that the first wave of the baby boomers — kids born to newly affluent parents — would be a large and untapped audience for the 66 “Hopalong Cassidy” movie westerns he’d starred in, so he bought the rights and sold them to TV stations that were starved for programming. He also made deals with dozens of consumer goods companies to market authorized Hopalong Cassidy merchandise, from wallpaper to cookies to roller skates with spurs on them. America’s kids snapped them up, and Boyd made millions.
Sources:
“Hopalong Hits the Jackpot,” Oliver Jensen, Life, June 12, 1950
“Wild-West Fever: Will It Sell for You?,” Sponsor, September 11, 1950
“Maxwell House Coffee Time with George Burns and Gracie Allen: George the Cowboy,” May 5, 1949

Friday, November 23, 2018

Seven and a Half Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About "The Dick Van Dyke Show"



It's been over 50 years since "The Dick Van Dyke Show" ended its run, but the show has really never left the airwaves -- its blend of sophisticated and slapstick humor set a sitcom standard that has rarely been matched. What else is there to say? We attempt a few things, including which cast member almost left the show, which actress was almost cast as Laura Petrie and what episode caused the most controversy for creator Carl Reiner.

Sources:

The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book, by Vince Waldron

My Lucky Life in and Out of Show Buisness: A Memoir, by Dick Van Dyke

"Dick Van Dyke: 'Supernormal' Comedian," Richard Gehman, TV Guide, December 8, 1962

" 'The Dick Van Dyke Show': They've Got No Kick Coming," TV Guide, March 27, 1965

"Rehearsing a 'Dick Van Dyke Show,' " Leslie Raddatz, TV Guide, February 26, 1966

Saturday, November 3, 2018

The Marlon Brando-Wally Cox Connection

 
One man was one of the most iconoclastic and controversial actors of the 20th century -- the other was the voice of Underdog on a Saturday morning cartoon show. But once they met on an Illinois schoolyard, nine-year-olds Marlon Brando and Wally Cox became lifelong friends -- and even lovers, according to some accounts. We look at each man's career and their private, intense connection -- one that endured even after Cox's death in 1973.

Sources:

Brando: Songs My Mother Taught Me, by Marlon Brando and Robert Lindsey

Brando Unzipped, by Darwin Porter

My Life as a Small Boy, by Wally Cox

Brando's Smile: His Life, Thought and Work, by Susan L. Mizruchi

"When the Wild One Met the Mild One," Robert W. Welkos, The Los Angeles Times, October 17, 2004

"Wally Cox, TV's Mister Peepers, Dies at 48," The New York Times, February 16, 1973

Friday, October 19, 2018

Encore Podcast: "Liz and Dick and Lucy and the Ring"



In 1969, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were arguably the world's most famous married couple, and they became even more well known when Burton bought his wife a 69-carat diamond ring that cost over a million dollars. At a Hollywood party, their paths crossed with Lucille Ball and an unlikely idea emerged -- within weeks the Burtons were taping an episode of "Here's Lucy" as themselves, with the ring as a special guest star. This is the story of a very large diamond, two very popular movie stars and one of America's favorite comic actresses -- and how they all came together to make TV history.

Sources:

" 'All I Could See Was Elizabeth and That Rock': What Happened When Taylor and Burton Were Filmed for Next Week's Lucy Show," James Bacon, TV Guide, September 5, 1970

"The Taylor Burton Diamond," worthy.com

Loving Lucy: An Illustrated Tribute to Lucille Ball, by Bart Andrews

Elizabeth Taylor: A Private Life for Public Consumption, by Ellis Cashmore

The Richard Burton Diaries, edited by Chris Williams 

Friday, October 12, 2018

New Podcast Alert! "What We Saw at the Movies"



Once again, my brother Steve and I toddle down memory lane and reminisce about movies we saw as kids in the 1960s and '70s. Included are looks at the drive-in cheeseball classic "Eegah," "The Sound of Music," "How the West Was Won," "Mary Poppins," "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," "Blazing Saddles" and many others. There are also stories abut David's first R-rated movie and how Steve dealt with an upset stomach while watching "Patton."