However, the manipulation rubs both ways. Hickey tells the story of a reporter covering the demonstrations surrounding James Meredith’s enrollment at the University of Mississippi. Seeing the protesting students “taut but controlled,” the reporter “leaned from his car and shouted to a group of them, ‘Hey! Where’s the action? I heard there was action going on around here!’” That, of course, did the trick. The students “turned the newsman’s car over and burned it, sending him scrambling; the violence spread from there. At the end of it, two men were dead.” Many think TV played a similar role in the New York race riots of 1964 and the Watts riots the following year. As ABC’s Tom Jarriel says, “There’s no doubt that a camera causes pickets to act up more vigorously. They know the power of TV exposure.” Wherever you have a camera, the journalists agree, you’ll draw a crowd.
So, Hickey asks, what can be done? Suggestions include holding off on reports of violence until the police have established control, avoiding the spread of rumors and unconfirmed news, basing coverage from police command posts rather than wading through the crowds, and bringing cameras out only when there’s something to actually film. More important, perhaps, is the use of experienced, seasoned newsmen dedicated to presenting the coverage “soberly and untheatrically,” rather than using a crisis for his own professional self-aggrandizement. As John Lawrence of CBS remarks, “More trouble is caused by young and inexperienced wire-service reports than by TV men.”
Whatever happens, Hickey concludes, the answer is not a rigid code, but rather the unwritten “law” of news coverage: that TV should not shape the event through its coverage, and should not allow itself to be manipulated. Only through that self-responsibility can television avoid playing an even larger role in the news stories it covers.
I don’t usually spend much time talking about the week’s movie presentations, but with the start of a new TV season we usually see a flock of broadcast premieres, and this week is no exception. A pair of blockbuster Oscar Best Picture winners make their television debut: The Greatest Show on Earth, Sunday night on ABC, and The Apartment, on CBS Thursday night. According to TV Guide’s Judith Crist, Greatest Show offers a “lavish exposition of the thousands involved in the colorful, sprawling, glittering sawdust world of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey organization,” with an all-star cast including Charlton Heston, Jimmy Stewart, Betty Hutton and Cornel Wilde. On the other hand, Crist finds The Apartment witty but cynical, and despite the “charming” star power of Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine, the movie is “unpleasant, albeit fascinating.”
Also featured this week is the Western epic The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, starring Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne and Lee Marvin. Crist describes it as solid, plain but unsubstantial, with the villainous Marvin adding “a tinge of flavor” to a harmless, white-bread movie. Paradise, Hawaiian Style is the latest Elvis movie, not to be confused with 1961’s Blue Hawaii. For one thing, Crist says, this one has “a cute little girl who sings.” Stay away, though, from the other Shirley MacLaine vehicle, What a Way to Go, which Crist describes as “unadulterated dullness, relieved by neither taste nor intelligence.”
During the 60s, the Ed Sullivan Show and The Hollywood Palace were the premiere variety shows on television. Whenever they appear in TV Guide together, we'll match them up and see who has the best lineup..
It’s first-run for both shows this week, with Ed featuring Yul Brynner, who accompanies himself on the guitar to sing “Two Guitars,” “Sokolovs Guitar” and “Okontchen”; Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme*; the singing Kessler Twins; comedians Flip Wilson and Rodney Dangerfield; and the Skating Bredos.
*Who just died last month. I didn’t think it necessary to include TV Guide’s notation that she was Steve Lawrence’s wife. Everyone should have known that by now.
Palace: host Milton Berle presents singers Lena Horne, England’s Donovan, and Spanky and Our Gang. Also on the bill: dancer Neile Adams (Mrs. Steve McQueen) and David Hedison, who takes part in a take-off on his series “Voyage” [“to the Bottom of the Sea.”]
I dunno. Neither of these lineups sets the world on fire. The Palace is starting the season off on Wednesday night, rather than its traditional Saturday timeslot (to which it will return shortly), and it just doesn’t look right. I’m going to give the nod to Sullivan primarily on the basis of Steve & Eydie, although Yul might have killed with his guitar solos.
The football season is in full swing – at least by 1967 standards. ABC’s college football coverage kicks off with the network’s A team of Chris Schenkel, Bud Wilkinson and Bill Flemming in College Station, Texas to cover the SWC matchup between SMU and Texas A&M. SMU wins the game, 20-17, a rare highlight in a mediocre season for the Mustangs, who finish 3-7. The Aggies continue to stumble after this game, starting off the season 0-4 before ripping off seven straight victories to win not only the SEC title but the Cotton Bowl. Channel 11, the independent station, picks up the slack with some small-college football between St. Norbert and St. Thomas, and returns Sunday morning with a condensed version of yesterday’s Notre Dame action.* Actually, it’s a season preview, since the Fighting Irish don’t start until the following week.
*I have fond memories of those Sunday morning rebroadcasts, with Lindsay Nelson at the mic. They were great fun to watch after church and before the pro games started. The phrase “We now move to further action” will live forever in the mind of any football fan from that era.
NBC’s coverage is much more straightforward: all stations carry the doubleheader that starts with the Houston Oilers’ 20-3 victory over the Buffalo Bills, followed by the
*If I'm not mistaken, that graphic accompanying the AFL game on KSTP looks an awful lot like Floyd Little, #44, who had been drafted #6 that year by the Denver Broncos. Or else it could be Ernie Davis, who also wore that number for Syracuse.
No Twins baseball this week, which means they must be on a homestand, since they’re in the thick of the American League’s Great Race. The week’s only TV game is NBC’s Saturday Game of the Week, featuring either Baltimore at Boston or Washington at Detroit. Both the Red Sox and Tigers are embroiled in the battle for first place that includes the Twins and Chicago White Sox.
And Wide World of Sports has another of the first-round bouts in the tournament to select a new heavyweight champion. This week, European champ Karl Mildenberger, who fought and lost a title fight against Muhammad Ali last year, takes on Oscar Bonavena in a live broadcast from Frankfurt, West Germany. Heavily favored, Mildenberger loses a 12-round decision to Bonavena; he’ll only fight three more times, losing twice, before retiring.
Gentle Ben was a feature of CBS’ Sunday night schedule for two season; interesting to see TV Guide’s note that “Ronny Howard of ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ and series regular Clint Howard are brothers.” On NBC, there’s a pair of Westerns, with Bonanza starting its ninth season, followed by High Chaparral’s first. Other new series include Accidental Family, Ironside, The Jerry Lewis Show, The Mothers-In-Law and The Danny Thomas Hour (NBC); The Carol Burnett Show, Good Morning, World, Dundee and the Culhane and Cimarron Strip (CBS); and The Guns of Will Sonnett, Off to See the Wizard, The Flying Nun, The Second Hundred Years, Custer, Garrison's Gorrillas, NYPD, Coyboy in Africa, and Good Company (ABC).
The famed stripper Gypsy Rose Lee* tries her hand at talk with her new half-hour syndicated chat show, directed by future Oscarcast producer Marty Pasetta. Gypsy’s constantly at odds with the producers over her desire to discuss topics such as cancer, cosmetic surgery and prostitution, and her proclivity to be, shall we say, free with her language. The show was never aired live but always taped, giving producers the chance to blip out any objectionable language. Lee once complained that she was even blipped for talking about damming a river.
*Fun Fact: Gypsy Rose Lee’s younger sister was movie star June Havoc.
So, after nine arduous years as Perry Mason, why does Burr return so quickly to the grind of series television? He likes to work, and appreciates the challenge of playing the wheelchair-bound police detective Robert Ironside; “There’s more latitude for showing a human being because he is not tied down to a courtroom.” But even more he likes the pleasures of life that money can provide him. He gets to spend six months in Fiji, for example, and to spend another month travelling. “It also enables me to do some things in the future that I can’t do now. I am very rich, but I don’t have a large bank account.” His dream is a life where money produces no worries, no concerns. “I want to be free to give, to exist, to live.” As Burr says, “I don’t know what a man is on earth for if he hasn’t done it all.”
Finally, on September 10, ABC preempted its entire prime-time schedule to present a four-hour documentary entitled "Africa: A Journey to Discover the People and the Land That are Africa Today," narrated by Gregory Peck with additional commentary from ABC newsman Howard K. Smith. Now, a week later, ABC repeats the series in four weekly one-hour broadcasts. The interesting thing: the air time is 8:30 CT Tuesday morning. I can only think that the network’s trying to reach an audience that wasn’t available the previous Sunday night, offering the show to homemakers hungry for something more substantial than game shows, soap operas and Gypsy Rose Lee.