Monday, August 13, 2018

Don Rickles And Justin Bieber

Rickles is asked about Bieber by Larry King.  Classic.

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Critic: L.A. Jay with Billy Crystal

I wrote before about the mid-90s animated series, "The Critic," hoping to catch some "Simpsons"-like magic and make a star of Jon Lovitz with over-cutesy film references.

One of the few episodes that got it right -- and there was still some editing they could have done -- was "LA Jay," in which Jay Sherman, film critic, tries to write a film while battling a Billy Crystal-voiced movie exec.  A great review from AV Club is here.

Monday, August 6, 2018

NBC Late Night promo, 1983

NBC was having a hard time from 1977 (when "Sanford & Son" ended) and 1984 (when "The Cosby Show" debuted).  In between, there was utter chaos throughout the network, including in its usually strong late night slate: "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" nearly ended when Carson tired of NBC President Fred Silverman.  Later, he cut his show from 90 minutes to 60, and eventually "Tomorrow with Tom Snyder" was killed in favor of "Late Night with David Letterman."  "The Midnight Special" ended.  "Saturday Night Live" went from juggernaut to reviled after Silverman clashed with producer Lorne Michaels (and Michaels left).  "Second City TV" was brought in -- eyed as a potential, eventual replacement for SNL -- but was canceled after two years.
By 1983, though, things had settled down and were actually thriving.  Johnny Carson was happy with the then-current NBC brain trust (legendary programmers Brandon Tartikoff and Grant Tinker).  "SCTV" was replaced by "Friday Night Videos," produced by Tartikoff's pal, Dick Ebersol.  Ebersol was also producing SNL, which was riding high thanks to Eddie Murphy.  And "Late Night with David Letterman" was the hippest show on TV.
Below is a two-minute promo for the late night shows, likely made for sales/programming use within the network.  But occasionally, it was probably shown during long breaks, rain delays, etc.  This version is localized for WILX-TV (Lansing, Michigan).  Back then, networks routinely made these for their prime time slate, but this is the first one I've ever seen for late night.

Friday, August 3, 2018

The awful Rolling Stone Magazine 10th Anniversary special

Wow, what a piece of embarrassing $^%# this was.  The most interesting parts are the commercials!
Without attacking or supporting Rolling Stone magazine -- or its founder, Jann Wenner -- I will say simply that this special is horrendous and I wish videotape hadn't been so plentiful in 1977.

The centerpiece, which you will never be able to "un-see," features Ted Neely screeching his way through an endless Beatles medley, complete with overenthusiastic dancers, someone stumbling around in a Nixon mask, terrible visual effects... it is one of the worst things I've ever seen.

The opening sketch (Steve Martin begging to be in RS) is cute, and watch for writer Ben Fong-Torres wearing a San Francisco PBS (KQED) Monty Python shirt.

But later, Martin has to try and anchor a bombastic sketch with Keith Moon.  Moon pops up later telling an incoherent story about touring, alongside such "rock stars" as Yvonne Elliman, Richie Havens and Phoebe Snow.  All incredible performers, but not really "rock." (On a side note, Elliman and Havens provide the one bright spot in the Beatles medley).

I haven't been able to stomach the whole special, but what's with the awful "garage band" at the beginning and end?!  WHO CARES!

And why is Bette Midler -- another incredible performer, but not really "rock" -- in the special?  RS notably (unfairly?) slammed her second album, sending her into a depression.  Sad.

Finally, Gladys Knight and the Pips perform an excellent medley, then give way to Art Garfunkel... but it's so awkward when Knight introduces him.  See for yourself!

Aired on CBS-TV on November 25, 1977. This recording is from the Sacramento affiliate, KXTV.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

MTV Turns 37

MTV is a gross 37-year-old today, so here's a look back at some of my Music Television-centered posts...

-Beavis & Butthead: Funk Dat (classic)
-The first day of MTV (August 1, 1981) and their awful VJs
-Classic videos discussed ... with Herbie Hancock, Cyndi Lauper, Billy Joel, Beastie Boys and others
-Great moments with The State
-The Ultimate 90s playlist (yawn)
-Oh, those record offers

Monday, July 30, 2018

Music died in 1997, and TV died in 1998

Interesting article which I will take as proof that music died in 1997.

And I've espoused this theory before, see if you buy it: 1998 is the year TELEVISION died. My reasoning is near the end of this post, but I wanted to link this video from the 1998 Emmy broadcast showing what was then 50 years of television (the Emmys turned 50 that year); it is NEARLY complete (reasons for which are also at the end of this post).

I could have missed them (and I hope to be corrected), but I see no mentions of The Dumont network, very little (if any) PBS (except Sesame Street), and no clips of Maverick, Bishop Fulton Sheen, Sid Caesar, The Smothers Brothers, Jack Paar, Bob Newhart, Carol Burnett, WKRP in Cincinnati, Mr. Rogers, Dick Cavett, Conan O'Brien or Tom Snyder.

Nor did I see the following shows that won multiple Emmys, including Best Comedy Series:
The Monkees (1967)
Get Smart (1968, 1969)
Barney Miller (1982)

The Larry Sanders Show was also left out, and it would ironically win both the best comedy writing AND directing Emmys at the very ceremony where this montage was shown?!

The fact that this was the PRIMETIME Emmy Awards makes me think they would have left out news, children's and late night shows. But they didn't, and I'm glad. However, they DID leave out most other dayparts by not including game shows or soap operas. No Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, Price is Right, Famiy Feud, Hollywood Squares, Password, Days Of Our Lives, General Hospital or All My Children.

On top of that, these mostly forgotten shows DID get a mention: China Beach, Chicago Hope, Touched by An Angel, Murder One, 3rd Rock From the Sun, The Practice.

So why did TV die in 1998?

It was the year Seinfeld, Mr. Show and The Larry Sanders Show all ended. Phil Hartman was murdered. Norm Macdonald -- the greatest anchor (to that time) for SNL's Weekend Update -- was fired. Howard Stern and Magic Johnson got their own talk shows. Pax TV launches. Dawson's Creek, TRL, Becker and The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer premiere. And right before 1998 started, Chris Farley died.

So what should be added if they wanted to extend this video up to 2018?

The Sopranos
American Idol
Sex & the City
30 Rock
The Office
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
Breaking Bad
The Wire
Ellen's daytime show
Modern Family
Curb Your Enthusiasm

And then some current events footage. Not much else of interest, is there?

Oscar medley: NOT EVEN NOMINATED with Sammy Davis, Hr. and Steve Lawrence

Here's Sammy Davis, Jr. and Steve Lawrence performing an intricate 10-minute medley of songs that were never nominated for an Academy Award.  This is PITCH PERFECT, and considering that they didn't have months of rehearsal, it's even more amazing.  This is my new favorite thing next to this scat battle between Mel Torme and Ella Fitzgerald.
Interesting that they even included the then-new "Stayin' Alive."
From the 1979 Oscar ceremony: