Over the years there had been occasional exceptions to the rule; in 1968 the Oscars were moved to Wednesday to allow interested parties to travel to Martin Luther King’s funeral in Atlanta on Tuesday and in 1981 the ceremony was delayed by a day due to the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan. Now, of course, they’re held on Sunday, the night on which TV has its highest viewership. (Ironic, isn’t it, that the emphasis is now on what’s best for TV rather than the movie industry.) But there was a time, back in 1971, when the Academy decided to do something really radical – and so they scheduled the Oscars for Thursday. I'm not really sure why; there's no explanation in Bona and Wiley's definitive history, and a cursory internet search failed to turn anything up. Easter was on Sunday, so perhaps the Academy was uncomfortable with staging the big show on Easter Monday - but surely it's been done before, n'est-ce pas? Or maybe the Academy was simply trying different things - the 1970 show was on Tuesday. I think Thursday is a perfectly good day for the Oscars; after all, if the show runs too late you can take Friday off, and make a three-day weekend out of it.* However, whatever the experiment hoped to accomplish apparently didn’t pan out, and next year the ceremony was back to Monday, where it mostly stayed until it moved to Sunday in 1999.
*It’s the third-longest ceremony to date, running eight minutes short of three hours, which today would be considered breathtakingly short – by contrast, the 2002 broadcast will last four hours and 23 minutes. It’s still apparently still too long for the Academy, though: the 1972 show will clock in at one hour and 44 minutes. Yes, those were the days.
|SOURCE ALL: HADLEY TV GUIDES|
*I never much liked the idea of multiple hosts, but after the last few years, maybe they should consider going back to it.
Sign of the times: near the end of his article, Raddatz writes that in the years where Hope hasn't been the host, "he has been missed." And yet by 1971, Hope's jokes are falling flat with a new generation of Oscar attendees. A quip about remembering "when a girl says 'I love you,' and it's a declaration, not a demonstration," was actually booed. After years of multiple hosts (or no hosts at all, as was the case in 1971), Hope returns as solo host in 1978 for the 50th anniversary ceremony, after which Johnny Carson takes over. One thing is for sure, and that's that the Oscars used to have glamour - I'm not sure you can say that today.
Throughout the 60s and early 70s, TV Guide's reviews were written by the witty and acerbic Cleveland Amory. Whenever we get the chance, we'll look at Cleve's latest take on the series of the era.
It's not often that a talk show gets the Amory treatment, but not every talk show is hosted by Merv Griffin. The question is: is this a good thing?
When Merv was in syndication, it was a very good thing, says Amory - "relaxed and easy, earnest when the occasion demanded it, and cute but not too cute when it didn't." And then something happened: CBS. When the network picked up Merv to go head-to-head with Carson and Bishop, the producers found the idea of tampering with a successful formula to be irresistible. They "pushed most of Mr. Griffin's old friends, who were the staples of his syndicated show, off - and just about everything else every show did, on." In the midst of this Carson copycat, however, Merv "got lost in the shuttle. He was less a host than a traffic cop, less a personality than a puppet. We never got to know what he was like, or what he liked." The result, laments Cleve, is that "even the people who couldn't stand Mr. Carson couldn't sit still for the new Mr. Griffin."
The cavalry has arrived, though, in the form of a new producer, and with that change there's hope for the show at last. The show's new format stresses themes - one night was filled with old-time orchestra leaders, which Amory says was "a new-time hit parade all by itself." Other shows featured mayors from around the country, Hollywood fathers and their sons, and bachelors vs. married people. This, Amory thinks, was the best yet, featuring a showdown between Cher and former football player Fred "The Hammer" Williamson. After putting Sonny down - or, rather, his mother (My mother-in-law, she says, had an accident: "She went out wearing a yellow coat, and three men tried to jump her. They thought she was a taxicab."), she turns her attentions on the egocentric Williamson, currently appearing on Julia, who "unburdened himself of some of his deepest public secrets, among them the fact that he is beautiful and never asks girls out on dates - they, it seems, ask him." Merv asks The Hammer what he looks for in a girl, to which he replies, "Looks, and obedience." Chimed in Cher, "Oh - a collie."
Concludes Amory, "A few more shows like this, and Mr. Griffin's troubles will be over." Behind the scenes, however, we know that Griffin and the network were constantly at loggerheads, and that in the dying days of his time with the network he was already arranging a return to syndication. By March 1972 he was back where he wanted to be, free of interference from the CBS suits, where he would remain until his retirement in 1986.
This week's biggest sporting event is the Masters golf tournament, the third and fourth rounds of which are seen on CBS Saturday and Sunday. As is always the case, the azaleas are matched by a glittering field of champions, but this year's tournament produces a surprise winner - Charles Coody, winning his only major title by two shots over a couple of golfers named Nicklaus and Miller.
It's the first weekend of baseball season, and since this is a Cleveland-area TV Guide, we're not surprised to see a couple of Indians games, against the Boston Red Sox on Saturday and Sunday. NBC's Game of the Week coverage debuts on Saturday with the defending World Series champion Baltimore Orioles hosting the Detroit Tigers. The Orioles are going to be very, very good this year as well, and they'll make it back to the Series, where they'll lose in seven games to the Pittsburgh Pirates - a Series that will give us the first-ever nighttime post-season game, and change the way we watch the Fall Classic forever.
The NBA playoffs are in full swing, and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. ET ABC will give us a conference finals game between two teams yet to be determined. Just think - the conference finals. The playoffs won't even have started on April 10 this year, and there's something just wrong about that. CBS counters with a quarter-final matchup between the Chicago Black Hawks and either the Minnesota North Stars or Philadelphia Flyers. (Hint: it's the Flyers.) The Stanley Cup playoffs won't have started by April 10 this year either. I think that in many ways sports was a lot better back then.
Let's see, I already mentioned Thursday's Academy Awards broadcast, and on the night before, there's a star-studded look at Oscar's past and present. It's not hosted by Barbara Walters, though, but by Hollywood columnist Rona Barrett, whose syndicated special airs on Cleveland's WEWS, thereby preempting a special called Changing Scene, which in turn preempts The Johnny Cash Show. I guess the scene indeed is changing, and we'll see it first-hand with Robert Goulet, Robert Culp (singing!), Barbara Eden, comedians Jud Strunk (I haven't heard that name in years) and Bernie Koppell, John Denver, and the Mike Curb Congregation.
Sunday is Easter, and while it doesn't measure up to Christmas in terms of television content, there are a number of religious specials on the day, including morning services, classical music (on ABC's Directions), and - provided the basketball game doesn't run too long - the Rankin-Bass animated special Here Comes Peter Cottontail (5:00 p.m., ABC), featuring the voices of Danny Kaye and Vincent Price. It's not limited to Sunday, though; Lawrence Welk and his Champagne Music Makers celebrate with their annual Easter program on Saturday (7:30 p.m., ABC) and the King Family returns for their own seasonal syndicated special on Tuesday (7:30 p.m., WUAB).
Her career pretty much ends in the '70s, with a few more appearances on the big and small screens. Her first husband was Grammy winner Gil Scott-Heron, with whom she had a daughter, poet Gia Scott-Heron; I suppose the fact that I haven't heard of either her or her poetry is my fault.
Want a sign of how things have changed? I'll just give you a headline, from The Doan Report: "TV Most Trusted of Mass Media, Survey Says." That wasn't one of Richard Dawson's surveys from Family Feud, was it?
Finally, let's take a look at letters. I almost always find these interesting, not least because it gives us a bit of insight not only into what was going on back then, but how people felt about it - something that isn't readily apparent when all you do is read the listings.
John Potter Jr. of Rochester, New York (or as it's known here in Minnesota, "the other Rochester"), is shocked by the FCC's recent decision to give a half-hour of prime time back to local stations. But don't take my word for it - let him tell you himself: "I am shocked [see?] at the recent requirements of the FCC to cut some more network programming for more local programming. How does one of those low-budget amateur local shows rate against shows like Lassie and Wild Kingdom? Americans are going to miss a lot of good shows. Merrill Panitt's response: "FCC says there are a number of reasons for the new rule but 'the main thrust' is to encourage greater diversity of programming by giving independent film producers an opportunity to compete for time."
This entire exchange is full of irony. Mr. Potter is right when he touts shows like Lassie and Wild Kingdom, but it's unlikely he could have foreseen that in the not-too-distant future, Wild Kingdom would, in first-run syndication, fill that very half-hour in many markets, as could Lassie when it went into syndicated reruns. The amateur local programming that had Mr. Potter concerned (and some FCC commissioners hopeful) never materialized, not really, and I can't believe that "independent film producers" profited much either. The real winner was someone like Merv Griffin, who was able to make a few dollars by strip-programming Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune into that half-hour "local" programming. My own opinion is that viewers would, indeed, have been better served had those 30 minutes remained with the networks. The only way this was going to work was if the FCC had forced local stations to producer their own programming. I wonder how that would have gone?
Staying on the same subject, K. Rita Hart of South Euclid, Ohio (I wonder what the K. stands for?) writes, "A month ago, I came back from a 45-day stay in Sweden (my birthplace). It was grand, but the TV shows are still next to nothing and no commercials. I bless American TV with all its commercials. Without them, we wouldn't hve any good shows at all." Hmm, if she's Swedish, her name could have been Kaarin; went with her middle name to sound more American. At any rate, I can't figure out whether or not she's being sarcastic here. I don't think so; I think she's suggesting that it's the revenue from commercials that allows networks to invest in making better programs, and I suppose that's a plausible theory. Either that, or the "good shows" she's talking about are the commercials themselves, which is how Terry Teachout's mother felt in that article of his that I quoted a couple of weeks ago.
I guess we'll never know the answer, will we? To what the K stands for, I mean.