Saturday, June 24, 2006

Rest In Peace Aaron Spelling

It is with great sadness that I write about the passing of Aaron Spelling. No matter if you love him and his shows or hate them you have to admit that he is probably the most successful producer in Hollywood history. He was originally from Texas. In his autobiography, A Prime Time Life, he answers how a Jewish man can come from Texas. He said that when one of his ancestors came to America he only knew three words in English. They were New York and cowboy. Immigration didn’t want to have too many Jewish in one area. So since he knew the word cowboy he was sent to Texas. The Spelling family stayed there till Aaron wanted to go into showbiz. He started out as an actor. I have seen him on some old movies and he played a hillbilly once on an early episode of I Love Lucy. By this time he had started writing TV shows. One of his first was Burke’s Law. It starred Gene Berry as a millionaire policeman who drove his limo to the scene of the crime. Nothing like working undercover. Its ratings were ok but later, Burke became a secret agent to boost ratings. It didn’t help. The show was canceled anyway. Later in the 1990’s Spelling revived the show with Mr. Berry playing an older and wiser Burke who was helped by his son. The show was enjoyable and fun to watch with guest stars from showbiz veterans but it still got canceled. Mr. Spelling got his start writing and producing TV shows for Dick Powell. Powell was the first actor to play Burke in the pilot that aired on Four Star Theater. When Dick Powell died, Spelling formed a partnership with Danny Thomas to produce more shows. Later he formed a partnership with Leonard Goldberg. With both men he produced one hit show after another. Shows like The Mod Squad, Starsky and Hutch, Family,Hotell, Daniel Boone, The Rookies, Charlie's Angels, Love Boat, Vega$, Hart to Hart, Dynasty, The Colbys, T.J. Hooker, Twin Peaks, Nightingales, Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place, Kindred:The Embraced, and 7th Heaven. Another show that wasn’t a hit but my wife liked it was Summerland starring Lori Loughlin. He was very successful in the 1970’s with ABC. Some even said that ABC didn’t stand for the American Broadcasting Company. It stood for Aaron’s Broadcasting Company. Almost every hit show they had was produced by him. Many people say that Mr. Spelling brought sex into television. Especially with Charlie’s Angels, Nightingales and Love Boat. While this may be true I think he has gotten a bit of a bum rap on that. After all he wasn’t the first Hollywood producer to find out that sex sells. I am not really in favor of this but you can’t stop it either. Just teach boys to respect women and girls to respect men. That is the best I know that can be done.
Recently Mr. Spelling has made headlines in the tabloids with a lawsuit from his nurse and a family feud with his daughter Tori. I don’t know what happened to the lawsuit but I heard that Tori and her Dad made up. Just in time too. I don’t think anyone would want there to be bad blood between them and their parent when they died. You don’t want the last words they heard from you to be angry ones.
Mr. Spelling entertained millions with movies and Television. Did I forget to tell you that one of Michael Keaton’s first starring roles, Mr. Mom, was produced by Spelling/Goldberg productions? We may never see a producer as successful as he was again. He will be missed.
The above photo I got from this e-bay auction. Posted by Picasa

Friday, June 23, 2006

Happy Anniversary to the Hembeck's

I just want to take the time to wish a Happy Anniversary today to Fred Hembeck and his wife. I am sure you will have many happy more years together. Power Man stopped by to remind me and he is very happy for you both. He may not look happy for you but you know he is. Luke said Brother Voodoo was suppose to tell me but he had to talk to Stephen King about doing his new mini-series. You can go to Fred's site by clicking here or on the title above. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Poor Devil

I have always liked shows where ghost or angels help people or where demons tempted people to do the wrong thing but they didn’t. I have also loved the old Batman TV show as well as the Rat Pack and Christopher Lee. Hmmm! I wonder if there is a TV show that could combine all of these interests into one. Well there isn’t a series but there is an unsold TV pilot. It is called “Poor Devil” and starred Sammy Davis Jr. as an earnest but inept disciple of the devil played by Christopher Lee. His job is to win over souls for the devil but he isn’t very good at his job. Thank goodness. It also starred Adam West and Jack Klugman, who of course starred in the best TV show based on a movie and/or play, the Odd Couple. It was produced in the early 1970’s. It was a 90 minute pilot for what was to be a half hour sitcom. I have seen this done before making a 90 minute to 2 hour movie for a sitcom. It doesn’t seem like a good idea to me. Most people are ready for this with a new drama. For some reason it doesn’t work well with sitcom’s. Interesting cast choices though. The above photo is for sale at an e-bay auction. You can go there by clicking on the title above. Posted by Picasa

Monkees T-Shirt

Here is a Monkees T-shirt that until today I have never seen before. You can get it at Posted by Picasa

Off to See the Wizard puppet

Here is a photo of the puppet that I mentioned before. It is from this e-bay auction. Also, here is a website about the show. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Family Viewing Hour(s)

Booksteve reminded me that the family viewing hour didn't exist in 1968. That is true. It came into being in 1975. It was originally to be from 8 to 9. They decided to extend it to be from 7-9. Two hours long. For awhile it seemed to work. Many producers, like Norman Lear, who did adult themed shows were upset and lobbied against it. It still went into effect. Some fairly well done family shows were produced. When cable came more adult themes started to come back into plots of even some family shows. That was from 8pm to 9pm. The 7pm-8pm hour was really local station time. Local stations didn't have the money to produce a weekly series for each day. So independent producers started making game shows like Wheel of Fortune, Jokers Wild, etc. Yes these were family friendly but I doubt it is what they had in mind when the Family Hour was created.

Off to See the Wizard

Well I did some research on this show and tried last night to post it but there was an error in the posting. So I will try this morning. Perhaps if I leave out the photo that I had it will help. Anyway the show was suppose to be ABC's answer to NBC's Wonderful world of Disney. It was an anthology program that aired films for children on Friday nights. Shows like Flipper, Clarance the Cross Eyed Lion, Lili, nature documentaries etc.
The show was executive produced by Chuck Jones and had animated versions of the Wizard of Oz characters to introduce each movie. Of course they sang their version of Off to See the Wizard at the beginning of each program.
I remember watching Lili with Lesli Caron. Well I don't recall the plot very well but I do remember getting wierded out when the puppets came to life. I decided not to watch the rest of the movie at that point.
The show Alexander the Great that we previously discussed on this site was aired in January of 1968. It was a pilot that was produced in 1964. Adam West and William Shatner had become famous enough that ABC decided it would be profitable enough to air it this one time. Why they would air a program that showed an orgy during the family hour I don't know. I would imagine that they edited it out. Today with cable they would probably air the whole thing and in greater detail.
They must have had high hope for Off to See the Wizard. There was alot of merchandising for the show with board games, books and a talking hand puppet. I had the puppet and loved to pull the string to see what programed response would be next. Perhaps I will post a photo of that on here one day. It will probably be one I found elsewhere as I no longer have the puppet.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Alexander the Great comment

If any of you have read Keith's comment on Alexander the Great pilot that starred William Shatner and Adam West you know that he made an excellent observation. Yes I said it was done in 1968. That is the date I got from the book Unsold TV Pilots. Also Shatner was quoted as saying that it helped him prepare for Capt. Kirk. A role that he had played starting in 1966. So how could this have been filmed in 1968? It couldn't! I can only imagine that the date in the book is the date the pilot aired on TV. Unsold TV Pilots said that it aired in the show Off To See The Wizard. According to the Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows that series aired on ABC from Sept of 1967 to Sept of 1968. It is possible that having the Alexander the Great pilot all done and paid for they aired it then because it had Batman in the cast. Star Trek didn't take off till it hit syndication in the 1970's. So I doubt the network executives cared that it also had Captain Kirk as the star of the show. The official production date of Alexander the Great would have to be before 1966. If Keith or anyone knows where I can get a copy of this please let me know. I would like to see it. I probably did see it on Off to See the Wizard as I watched it at that time but I was aboiut 6 or 7 then and I can't remember everything. Thanks for the heads up Keith and for keeping me honest.

Alexander The Great

Here is a pilot that many science fiction and comic book fans would like to see. Alexander the Great is a show that took place in the days of Biblical Rome. Men and women wearing togas and sandals. It's stars were William Shatner and Adam West. The year it was produced was 1968 so Mr. West was fresh off his hit show Batman. It took place in the year 333 BC. Mr. West said they shot it in Utah and it was cold. He played General Cleander the wine, woman and song General who wore only a loin cloth. He said that he didn't think it sold because the networks weren't ready for orgies and him and Shatner lying around eating grapes. Shatner said it did accomplish something for him. It helped him to be ready to play Captain Kirk on Star Trek as he felt that the Greek heroes explored the same qualities that he wanted to explore with Capt. Kirk. In another interview Shatner, who played Alexander, said that on Star Trek at least he got to wear pants. The pilot aired on the show Off To See The Wizard. That show will be explored in another post later on. I am sure they had high hopes for the show as the supporting cast was wonderful. The players were John Cassaventes, Joseph Cotton, Cliff Osmond and Simon Oakland. For some reason I find myself wondering what would have happened if West got the Capt. Kirk rold and Shatner got the Bruce Wayne/Batman role? We will never know. Posted by Picasa

Monday, June 19, 2006

Unsold TV Pilots

Like my cousin Booksteve, one of my favorite books is Unsold TV Pilots by Lee Goldberg. Some did air as tv movies or as part of a series that they were to be spun off from. If you want more background on this wonderful book you should read Steve's post. What I am posting here is that some actors are more unlucky with pilots then others. Some are lucky enough to have one or two in their background. Others have more. Here are some that have one thing in common.

Questor (aka The Questor Tapes) – This was Gene Roddenberry’s second time at a TV series after his Star Trek series was canceled. Robert Foxworth is an android called Questor. He is searching the globe for the scientist who created him and the scientist may even be from another planet. Mike Farrell is a human scientist who helps him in his search. They meet a lot of people who they help. In their search Questor is exposed to complex human emotions.

The Stranger – Glenn Corbett plays Stryker who is an astronaut on a deep space probe that crash lands on Earth. Only to find out that it isn’t his Earth but a similar world called Terra. Everything is the same but this world is not free. It is run by a dictator that wants Stryker dead because he talks about freedom and the rights that he had on his Earth. The series would show how Stryker tries to escape death from the dictator and leave Terra to return home.

Johnny Risk- This series took place in the 1800’s on a gambling ship in the Yukon. It filmed in 1958 and starred a young Michael Landon with Alan Hale Jr. Mr. Landon said that “It was nothing but shots being fired. It just went on forever. Needless to say, it didn’t go.”

Now what actor did all of these have in common? Well I pulled one name out from all of these short descriptions. I am sure that you know that it was the actor show above. Lew Ayres. Mr. Ayres is an actor who gained fame in All Quiet on the Western Front and later in a series of Young Dr. Kildare movies. He passed away in December 1996.
Lee Goldberg, the author of the book, has this website. Posted by Picasa

Paul Simon Still Crazy After All These Years

I know that this album came out along time ago but I never got to hear it till recently. Of course I had heard the hits from the album. 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, My Little Town, Slip Slidin' Away and of course the title track Still Crazy After All These Years. I have always heard that the album was one of Simon's best. I guess my expectations were too high. With 4 hits from the album I thought I would be blown away by the rest. However, the others were just ok. Simon really didn't sing much on the album. I still like the hits but this was around the time that he started half singing half talking his way through a song. The best song on the album is his reunion with his old friend Art Garfunkel. Garfunkel is one of the world's best singers to come out of the 60's. While Simon is one of the best songwriters his singing is just ok. However he does lay a good groundwork for any lead singer. I guess that is why as a team they were so good together. If you want to hear this collection of songs then by all means get the CD. If you only want the hits then find a collection fo Paul Simon's Greatest Hits. You might enjoy the last one more. Posted by Picasa

Superman returns Poster

I just wanted to show you part of a scan from a poster that my local newspaper had yesterday. It is part of the poster for Superman Returns. Hope you like it. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, June 18, 2006

It Was 31 Years Ago Today

No Sgt. Pepper didn't teach the band to play but someone taught these three and boy can they play! They played well enough to have a number 1 hit song on this day in June 1975. The song was Sister Golden Hair and the group was America. The group is in the photo above from left to right they are Dewey Bunnell, Dan Peek and Gerry Beckley. The 3 were son of American military personnel that were based in England. Gerry's Dad was the commanding officer of the base where they were stationed. The 3 became friends and formed a band that played on the base and then got a manager who got them concert dates. Legend has it that they took their name from a jukebox but I doubt that was the only reason they chose the name. Even though they spent little time in America they were Americans and the name ment home to them. They eventually got to record an album called...America! It was produced by Ian Samwell. It gave them three hits I Need You, Ventura Highway and their first #1 A Horse With No Name. A Horse With No Name was the first song released from the album so these guys were really an overnight success story. There next 2 albums and 3 singles yielded no hits that cracked the top 30. They were able to get the top rock producer of the era to produce their next album. Who was that? The Beatles old producer George Martin. He heard that it took America a long time to produce an album so he said he didn't want to spend that much time away from home. They had to go back to England to produce the album. They didn't want to disappoint the Beatles ex-producer so they practiced alot. Once they started production the album called Holiday was finished in 15 days. Mr. Martin said if he knew it would only take that long he would have come to the US on holiday to do the album. The album gave them the hits Tin Man peaked at #4 and Lonely People peaked at #5. Martin worked with the group again on the Hearts album, it was an inside joke of the group's to have the titles of most of their albums starte with the letter H. Hearts gave the group it's second #1 hit Sister Golden Hair. The next year America was reduced from a trio to a duo when Dan Peek, who was a Christian, left the group to go into the contemporary Christian music field. He signed with Lamb and Lion records and recorded the album All Things Are Possible. The title track even became a minor hit on the pop charts. Dewey and Gerry didn't consider replacing Dan. They decided to continue as a duo under the name America. While fans of America still made it profitable to sign the group and record albums, they still had yet to yield a hit till 1982. They recorded a song written and produced by Russ Ballard called You Can Do Magic that peaked at #8.
I took a look at Dan Peek's site to see if he had his testimony on their but I didn't find it. The way I have heard it is that when America was about to release A Horse With No Name Dan prayed to have a hit and he would tell he was a Christian. Well it was a huge hit and Dan was so busy touring, recording and traveling that he forgot to tell the world he was a Christian. His professional life was going well with all the hit records but he had personal problems in his life. That led him to realize that God was trying to get his attention to remind him of the promise that he made. So Dan announced he was a Christian and left the group to record Christian music. There is a couple of songs on the All Things Are Possible album where Dewey and Gerry sing background for Dan. So the group didn't end with Dan's last album. If you get the CD from his site you might listen to Love Was Just Another Word. I am almost certain that is one of the songs with America. Thanks for reading what was on my mind.

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Happy Father's Day!

I just wanted to say Happy Father's day to all you Dad's out there. And Happy Fathers Day to all my friends, Uncles and cousins who read this website. Here is a website that list 10 rules to follow to be a great Dad. My Dad got 9 out of 10 right. He was almost perfect. Of course no one except for our Heavenly Father is perfect. Posted by Picasa