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Your host: Billy Ingram

A Star is Born on DVDA Star is Born
Warner Home Video has released A Star is Born (the Streisand version) on DVD and I'm very excited by it. I was young when I saw this in the theater and it knocked me out - watching it years later I realized it's an awful movie. Just dreadful. But one of those films that's so bad it's good, in a campy way. It's a seminal film with some terrific pop music, visually interesting at all times but kind of hokey when it came to the script.

What grabs me about this DVD release and makes it a must-have is the commentary by Barbra Streisand; it's a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the making of an epic box office hit of the 1970s. She has a lot to say about not just movie making but also about fame and the creative process. What's amazing is that she talks as if she were the director of the film - which, in effect if not in fact, she was (she was executive producer and edited the film).

After hearing the commentary I'm almost tempted to think of A Star Is Born as a great film. One thing it is - is fun. So it's not the best version of A Star is Born - what we have here is the 1970s in full flower. It's only $14.00 from Amazon, great for that Streisand fan that has everything. (I actually worked with Streisand on one of her films. Read about it here.)

Did you know that Amazon offers a free TV show download with every DVD purchased in December? Here are the details. Basically, any time you buy a DVD in December you can download an episode of Prison Break, Bones, CSI, Numbers, or dozens of other series for free. That's a $1.99 value. That's not such a bad deal - I'd pay two bucks to watch an episode of, say 24, if I missed that week's show. In theory - as you may know, I don't do appointment TV and would rather watch the entire season on DVD. Then again, you can download an entire season of a series on Amazon if you wish for basically the same price as buying the DVDs.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006 - 6:00am
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TV Land Catch Phrases
Jump over to Just My Show to hear a podcast discussion of TV Land's newest countdown show 100 Greatest Catch Phrases. The podcast features Whitney Matheson who writes USA Today's "Pop Candy" blog, myself, and one of my favorite actors William Sanderson who plays E.B. Farnum on HBO's Deadwood and was Larry with the two brothers Daryl on Newhart.

In going over TV Land's list (see it here) I noticed several phrases that seem inappropriate ("Ask not what you can do for your country" for instance) and quite a few that SHOULD have made the list. Just off the top of my head, here are some phrases that paid that got waylaid:
"I got a B-i-i-i-g Mouth!"
"One of these days, Alice...POW!, right in the kisser!"
"To the Moon Alice..." (from The Honeymooners)
"There are a million stories in the Naked City - this is one of them." (Naked City)
"That does not compute" (Lost in Space)
"Great Caesar's Ghost!" (Adventures of Superman)
"Bless your pea-pickin' hearts" (Tennessee Ernie Ford Show)
"Wunnerful, Wunnerful" (Lawrence Welk)
"Work!" (Dobie Gillis)
"I got to have a looong talk with that boy" (Beverly Hillbillies)
"Here comes da' judge!"
"You bet your sweet Bippy!"
"And that's the truth"
"Ver-r-r-y interesting" (Laugh-In)
"I can't HEAR you!"
"Shazam!" (Gomer Pyle USMC)
"Nip it in the bud!" (Andy Griffith Show)
"This tape will self-destruct in five seconds..." (Mission Impossible)
"You big DUMMY!" (Sanford & Son)
"Cheesebugah, Cheesebugah, Cheesebugah" (Saturday Night Live)

If TV Land wants to include historical phrases (like John Kennedy's) there are some that are more famous like Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" or one from the near future, "Ladies and gentlemen, I present the next president of the United States Hilary Clinton."

Monday, December 4, 2006 - 6:19am
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ART METRANO
Speaking of the above mentioned actor, I distinctly remember hearing about the death of Art Metrano years ago - turns out he is very much still around, having survived an accident in 1989 that broke his neck in 6 places. He's turned his adversity into triumph with a stage show, Metrano's Accidental Comedy, that garnered rave reviews.

Go to artmetrano.com (look for the link at the bottom of the page) to see a video with testimonials followed by his 'Great Metrano' magic act - it has to be seen to be believed. It's fall down funny and reminds me why I liked this guy so much.

Sunday, December 3, 2006 - 11:14am
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TV FLOPS
Here are some more clips from those old audio tapes I told you about earlier. I had a thing for taping shows that were losers and these selections illustrate that tendency very nicely - they were all big flops.

One of my favorite shows as a kid was The Chicago Teddy Bears, a 1971 sitcom spoof on 1930's gangsters starring Dead Jones as a reasonably honest speakeasy owner who has to fend off the police and his cousin mob boss Big Nick played by the wonderful Art Metrano (Police Academy movies).

Jamie Farr, Marvin Kaplan, Huntz Hall (from the East Side Kids comedies) and John Banner (who played Sgt. Schultz on Hogan's Heroes) were all regulars. Banner died a year or so after CTB went off the air. In addition to an all-star cast, the show also featured some bright music themes by Jerry Fielding but never entered into syndication because it lasted only half a season.

Howard Cosell flopped in primetime with his 1974 variety show Saturday Night Live. Yes, the show was live from New York and debuted a few weeks before NBC's late night live entry, Saturday Night - which eventually took the name Saturday Night Live after Cosell's quick exit. The first clip has Kate Smith singing, here's another with her being interviewed by Howard.

A Touch of Grace was a half-season wonder that starred Shirley Booth (Hazel) and J. Pat O'Malley as an older couple falling in love - much to the consternation of her family (played by Marian Mercer and Warren Berlinger).

The couple became engaged on the final episode, here's the closing few minutes of that broadcast (the sock refers to an earlier event in the episode; the couple went away for the weekend and stayed in the same cabin. O'Malley's character lost one sock and this was scandalous to Grace's family.).

It was a well-written and acted series although it seemed to me the casting wasn't that strong. A Touch of Grace ran from January to June in 1973 and was produced and written by the guys who gave us Sanford and Son and The New Dick Van Dyke Show. Based on the British series For the Love of Ada, it was up against CBS's powerhouse Monday night line-up that kicked off with All in the Family.

I'll share another batch of audio clips with flops of the past in the future. (Great sentence, huh?)

Sunday, December 3, 2006 - 11:10am
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THE CARPENTERS
In conjunction with the TVparty feature on The Carpenters' Christmas specials of the 1970s, here is a clip from 1977's The Carpenters at Christmas.

This 7 minute video from You Tube starts out with Karen Carpenter and Kristy McNichols doing a bouncy number (on your head), after that Karen sings Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.

Saturday, December 2, 2006 - 2:10pm
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DVD THOUGHTS
Someone recently wrote and asked if I was going to review the new Match Game DVD set. I sure would have if I'd gotten a review copy. I'll definitely buy it, tho.

It reminds me that I rarely get the DVD collections I WANT to review. There are a few exceptions - I was thrilled to get the Adventures of Superman sets (including the serials); I Love Lucy Season 4 (with the Hollywood episodes); the fourth season of Dallas; Battlestar Galactica Season 2.5; Groucho Marx You Bet Your Life; Columbo Season 2; Sonny & Cher Shows and a few others. All of those sets are incredible and worth owning.

What I'd really LIKE to review - Match Game, Gomer Pyle Season 1, Police Squad, Melrose Place - Season 1 (I never saw the show), Star Trek Animated, Ark II and Space Academy come to mind.

Saturday, December 2, 2006 - 8:00am
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WHAT I'M WATCHING
Normally I listen to music when I'm working (the college stations mostly) but often I have the TV on, playing DVDs. I get Netflix, Blockbuster.com and quite a few DVD sets to review, so I generally have a better selection than I would get if I turned on cable. While working, I enjoy shows that don't require me to pay much attention- but if I'm sitting down to watch something, it better be good.

The Dick Cavett Show: Hollywood Greats: There are DVDs you rent and those you buy. I rented this set, but I'm definitely going to buy it. There's no better interviewer than Cavett, here he goes at it with the superstars of cinema - Katherine Hepburn, Groucho Marx, Orson Welles, Kirk Douglas, Bette Davis, Robert Mitchum and more in a 12 episode collection (most, if not all shows are 90-minutes). There's another incredible edition with programs that Ray Charles appeared on and other collections as well - and these are the entire shows, not clips. Fabulous!

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea - Season 2: I found season one to be a bore for the most part. But the picture clarity and vibrant colors in the second season make this mostly pointless production a joy to behold. Wood paneling and curtains on a submarine? That was the genius behind Irwin Allen's shows - the set designers made the high tech surroundings look like a cool rumpus room.

The Beverly Hillbillies - Volume 2: I don't know why but I enjoy watching this show around the holidays. This DVD set contains almost all the episodes from the second season and contains the original theme song with the sponsor tags (Kellogg's and Winston Cigarettes). These shows are hilarious, spoofing Beverly Hills' values - really, it's funnier than ever to me. (I actually worked in Beverly Hills for a period of time in the 1990s and grew up in the South, so make of that what you will). I just noticed on the Amazon page that there are a bunch of cool extras - can't wait to see them.

Victor Borge Show
This is one I bought as soon as I saw it - and I'm glad I did, it's a wonderful sampling of this rare 1950's TV half-hour. The early episodes stick closely to Borge's stage act, but that material soon ran out and the show attempted to become a sitcom of sorts. It's fascinating and gives us long look at a brilliant comic at his peak.

Prison Break Season 1: Pretty good boiler plate drama. Not terribly realistic but I thoroughly enjoyed it. What I've seen of season 2 looks better.

Right now I'm watching one of John Wayne's later westerns Chisum with director's commentary. What a gorgeous opening title sequence this 1970 movie had! The commentary by Andrew McLaglen is fantastic.

Saturday, December 2, 2006 - 7:18am
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DEAR MR. LUCAS;
I didn't post this - I just found it lying on the You Tube sidewalk.

It's the opening to the Star Wars Holiday Special which L. Wayne Hicks writes so eloquently about elsewhere on this Website.

If you were young when you watched that special, then you probably lusted after the fab Star Wars action figures that were such a big hit in 1978. They were so popular, and sold out so far ahead of time, that stores issued IOUs for parents to give to their kids at Christmas - to prove that at least they tried!

Friday, December 1, 2006 - 11:18am
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YOU TUBING

Someone kindly posted a sublime clip of Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra from a 1967 Dean Martin Christmas Show.

Thursday, November 30, 2006 - 3:08pm
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30 YEARS AGO
Johnny Carson's monologue from a 1976 holiday season broadcast, rescued from ancient audio tapes. Even when Carson wasn't at his best (and there are plenty of lame jokes here) he's eminently entertaining.

Thursday, November 30, 2006 - 2:35pm
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SITES YOU MIGHT LIKE
Hope Writer - an extensive recollection from one of Bob Hope's writers, Bob Mills. It's like an entire book online, with audio clips.

Speaking of which, TV writer / producer Lee Goldberg has
a blog
about writing for television.

An interview with Veronica Mars creator / producer Rob Thomas.

A site devoted to a UCLA documentary about the legendary original LA coffeehouse - The Pikme-up. I was a frequent visitor for a time and miss seeing the lovely Tawny. Johnny Tellez, who is also interviewed, is one of my best friends.

I Drew This - political cartoons by D.C. Simpson

The dying TV theme song - an article detailing how TV themes are falling by the wayside.

Remember the wonderful Website Yesterdayland? It disappeared a few years ago but is resurrected (sort of) as Retroland.

Superdickery - classic comic book covers that illustrate what a jerk Superman could be.

Thursday, November 30, 2006 - 9:44am
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DOLLAR DVDs
Bob Huggins writes:
"While in a Target store recently, I strolled over to their little "dollar store" section near the checkouts and found yet another group of dollar DVDs (from a company called PC Treasures). Among the usual assortment of public domain episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, Bonanza, and The Lucy Show, I spotted a DVD titled Johnny Carson and Friends. It turns out that there is a 1953 episode of Carson's Cellar, a locally produced show in Los Angeles and a 1955 episode of The Johnny Carson Show with guest star Rudy Vallee. It's a great chance to see Carson in his early years. The transfers are sourced from kinescopes . . . pretty banged up, but watchable and the DVD also includes one episode each of The Burns & Allen Show and You Bet Your Life. The inclusion of You Bet Your Life makes sense as Carson parodies the show in the Carson's Cellar episode. More vintage TV fun for a buck!"

Wednesday, November 29, 2006 - 12:34pm
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MORE HOLIDAY BLOGGING
Kevin S. Butler writes: "I've read the blog about an early TV version of A Christmas Carol that aired in 1949. There were other TV versions of Mr. Dickens' story that were broadcast. Actor Fredric March appread in an early TV adatation of the tale on Shower Of Stars during the 1950's.

"In the late 1950's Basil Rathbone played Scrooge in the original live-action musical version of The Stingiest Man in Town on The Alcoa Hour on the NBC network. The Stingiest Man in Town was remade as an animated musical TV special featuring the voices of Walter Mathau, Tom Bosley, Paul Frees, Bob Morse and Dennis Day on The Alcoa Hour on NBC in 1978.

"In 1961, Sandy Becker did his famous puppet version of A Christmas Carol on WNEW channel 5 in NYC. In more recent years, George C. Scott performed A Christmas Carol on CBS, Patrick Stewart did his version on TNT and Kelsey Grammar played Scrooge for NBC.

"Many classic TV sitcoms have spoofed the tale - among them Bewitched, Sanford & Son, Topper, The Dukes Of Hazzard and The Odd Couple."

Wednesday, November 29, 2006 - 12:31pm
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30 YEARS AGO THIS MONTH
Here's another find from the audio tapes I made as a kid by holding the tape recorder up to the TV - this time it's from the Johnny Carson Tonight Show in 1976. In the clip, Carson goes into the audience and demonstrates why he was considered one of the greatest wits that ever worked the medium. Again, the quality of the sound is pretty bad - but it is what it is.

Monday, November 27, 2006 - 7:11am
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"N" CLUB
Mark Nemeth of Greensboro, NC straightens me out on the "N" word being used on TV before 1974: In the feature-length version of "Dragnet" (filmed in 1967, but airing in 1969 on the NBC Monday Night at The Movies) A thug calls a black detective the "N" word, which gives Jack Webb's Sgt. Friday an excuse to rip into him.
"If the department doesn't judge the color of his skin, you damn well see that you don't."

Monday, November 27, 2006 - 7:11am
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VIDEO CLIP
Here's a bit of nonsense for you. It's a film edit I did a while back, when I was working on the TVparty book's CD-ROM. Stream of consciousness stuff using clips I happened to run across while skimming VHS and cassette tapes from the 1970s & '80s. It's in Real Player format.

Sunday, November 26, 2006 - 2:31pm
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