We tend to think of the Emmys as the kickoff to the television season, but truth is that for many years, it was the wrap-up to the year, in much the same way that a sports league hands out its awards at the end of a season. The only reason the Emmys wound up in the fall in the first place is because of a 1977 strike that pushed all kinds of programming out a few months, and at least in the Emmys' case, they never went back to the old schedule.
Thus, we find ourselves at the beginning of June discussing this year's awards. And where would an awards show be without some controversy to keep us all entertained? As it turns out, according to Richard K. Doan's* article, the Emmys and controversy go way back. In 1964, for example, CBS and ABC walked out of the Emmys, with CBS president Fred Friendly calling them "unprofessional, unrealistic and unfair." NBC, which broadcast the show that year, ridiculed the actions of its rivals as "a classic of sham and hypocrisy." Leave it to Johnny Carson to get off the best line: "It's nice to be subpoenaed here tonight. This ist he first time I've ever been asked to work a mutiny."
*Yes, he of the frequently mentioned "Doan Report."
And then there were the years when the categories didn't differentiate between drama, comedy or variety, leaving Dick Van Dyke, he of The Dick Van Dyke Show, to compete for best actor against George C. Scott (East Side/West Side), David Janssen (The Fugitive), Dean Jagger (Mr. Novak) and Richard Boone (The Richard Boone Show). Or the time when Hallmark Hall of Fame's "Victoria Regina" won Program of the Year, but Drama of the Year went to the series The Defenders. Or the year they scrapped categories altogether and simply recognized accomplishments as voted on by blue-ribbon panels, a show which Academy president Rod Serling acknowledged was "two deadly dull hours."
As we come to 1967, CBS News continues its boycott of the awards, not allowing any of its news programs to be submitted for consideration. The whole idea has been attacked by people as varied as Walter Cronkite and What's My Line? producer Mark Goodson, with Defenders producer Herb Brodkin quitting the Academy, saying "What difference does it make which is best, Beverly Hillbillies or Gilligan's Island?" Goodson gave up after a proposal to create separate categories for half-hour Westerns and hour-long Westerns. Cronkite, a former president of the Academy, "got a kind of hopelessness about it all."
But the show goes on,broadcast on ABC and hosted by Hugh Downs in New York and Joey Bishop in Hollywood. True to its word, no CBS news specials are nominated. And there are the odd anomalies here and there - I Spy nominated for best drama, but one of its episodes getting a director nomination in the comedy category - but for the most part people are excited. You can read the nominees over there on the right; I'll give you the winners at the end of this week's piece.
On the other hand, TV Guide reviewer Cleveland Amory has his own thoughts about who should get what awards. The "Amorys" are chosen by "an all-star committee of all-time TV exters. And, as I said to myself as I made up the list, if I did say so, I did a fine job." Sounds like something I would say.
Anyway, his choices: for drama, Ben Gazzara (Run for Your LIfe) as best actor, Diana Rigg (The Avengers) as best actress. I Spy's team of Robert Culp and Bill Cosby take home best acting team, and Mission: Impossible wins the prize as best drama series. Best comedy series is Occasional Wife, whose stars Patricia Harty and Michael Callan were honorable mentions in the acting team category. Supporting awards go to Art Carney (The Jackie Gleason Show) and Amanda Blake (Gunsmoke), although Judy the Chimp from Daktari is runner-up. The Dean Martin Show wins best variety series, and The Merv Griffin Show takes the prize for best talk show.
I always liked Cleveland Amory. Didn't always agree with him, but he was a witty and erudite writer. And he didn't do any worse than the Emmy voters, in my opinion. We'll see what you think shortly.
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..
Palace: We’re back in London for this episode of Piccadilly Palace, the summer replacement for The Hollywood Palace. This week, hosts Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise welcome singers Bobby Rydell and the rock 'n' rolling Small Faces, and regular Millicent Martin joins the Paddy Stone dancers in song.
Sullivan: Ed's scheduled guests on this live broadcast are singer Nancy Ames; trumpeter Harry James; the rock 'n' rolling Young Rascals; comedians George Kaye and Rodney Dangerfield; puppets Topo Gigio, and the Muppets; marimba player Roger Ray; and jugglers Chung and Manna.
No surprise that finding something interesting about this matchup should be a challenge. I know - Nancy Ames, the singing act on Sullivan, used to be the singer on NBC's That Was The Week That Was, which was a spinoff of a hit British show, which is where this week's Piccadilly Palace comes from.
Well, that was kind of weak, wasn't it?
I think Rydell and Ames cancel each other, and Morecambe and Wise (frequent guests on Sullivan, by the way) are probably at least as funny as Dangerfield. But because I have this video of the great Harry James and his band, in all likelihood from this very show, I'm giving the edge to Sullivan.
We haven't looked at the Sunday chat shows for awhile, and since the news doesn't stop just because it's summer, let's find out about the major issues of the day.
On CBS, Face the Nation discusses U.S. foreign policy with Roger Hilsman, former assistant secretary of state for Far Eastern affairs, and author of a book about foreign policy during the Kennedy years. Hilsman played a fairly large role in the development of U.S. policy toward Vietnam - reading that profile from the always-reliable Wikipedia, I suspect he had something to do with the Kennedy administration's support for the overthrow of the Diệm regime.
Vietnam carries over to ABC's Issues and Answers, which features a debate between Oregon Senator Wayne Morse, who believes the U.S. should withdraw, and Mississippi Senator John Stennis, a supporter of stronger action in the area. Both are Democrats, something you probably wouldn't see nowadays; far more likely that you'd have an argument between Rand Paul and John McCain.
While NBC's Meet the Press doesn't deal specifically with Vietnam, you can bet it's a major topic, with economist John Kenneth Galbraith, recently elected chairman of the liberal antiwar group Americans for Democratic Action. Galbraith was a recent delegate to the "Pacem in Terris II" (Peace on Earth) conference in Geneva, which is the subject of an additional, 90-minute special Meet the Press Sunday afternoon.*
*These peace conferences were very popular back in the day.
Religion is the topic on ABC's early-afternoon Directions, as the program examines the problems that are popping up in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council.* Foremost among the controversies: birth control and the role of laymen in deciding Church policy. In other words, pretty much the same discussion we'd be having today. That's followed later in the day by ABC Scope, which manages to combine both Vietnam and religion in their discussion of chaplains in Vietnam.
*Gee - imagine that.
Any sports, you ask? Some, but as I've pointed out before, the television landscape wasn't anywhere near as saturated with sports coverage as it would be even a few years later. Sunday's sole contributions to the scene are the National Professional Soccer League's Game of the Week on CBS, pitting the Baltimore Bays against the Philadelphia Spartains (not exactly a legacy match in American soccer, is it?) and ABC's coverage of the final round of the Memphis Open, which would later become known as the Danny Thomas Memphis Classic.
On Saturday, we have something that is, in its own special way, symbolic of the confusion we see so much of in the late 60s. It's the final Triple Crown race of the year, as Kentucky Derby winner Proud Clarion takes on Preakness champ Damascus in the Belmont Stakes, live from - Aqueduct race course. Yes, even the Belmont isn't what it seems, as the race was moved from Belmont Park to Aqueduct from 1963 to 1967 due to construction of a new grandstand at the former.
There's baseball's Game of the Week on Saturday (Braves vs. Reds), and a Monday night game on NBC, but otherwise the sports pantry is pretty empty. Even the Twins air only once this week, a Friday night tilt (and a rare home telecast at that) against the Orioles.
By the way, Damascus wins the Belmont as well, becoming one of the couple of dozen or so horses to win two of the three legs of the Triple Crown.
And now, some of the actual winners of the 1967 Emmy Awards:
Comedy Series: The Monkees. Actor: Don Adams, Get Smart. Actress: Lucille Ball, The Lucy Show.
Drama Series: Mission: Impossible. Actor: Bill Cosby, I Spy. Actress: Barbara Bain, Mission: Impossible.
Drama Special Program: Death of a Salesman. Actor: Peter Ustinov, "Barefoot in Athens," Hallmark Hall of Fame. Actress: Geraldine Page, "A Christmas Memory," ABC Stage 67.
Variety Series: The Andy Williams Show. Special: The Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, Howard Morris Special.
Actually not a bad list of winners, not at all. Most of these shows* are considered classics nowadays. Will people feel the same about this year's winners in 40 years' time?
*Well, perhaps not The Monkees. Up against Hogan's Heroes?
If you're interested, here's a rare clip from the broadcast, featuring a couple of victories by those very Monkees.
Maybe the shows themselves weren't as good, but I'll bet this was more entertaining than this year's Emmys, no?