It's no wonder Morey can come up with the stories, not when you listen to him talk about his own adventures, like his encounters with the all-time great gangster Al Capone, who used to frequent the saloon where Amsderdam was MC. "Capone loved me. He'd pick me up and drive me to his house, which was behind a night club in Cicero. There I'd play Italian songs for him and he'd cook spaghetti for me and other buddies. One night Charles G. Dawes, Vice President of the United States, came in and requested I join his table. Later Capone picked me up as usual. That was the one night in my life that I had dinner with both the Vice President and the president of vice."
Morey's no stranger to television, having appeared on several series over the years, and he knows a good one when he sees it. He praises the cast, the way they get along together, the way they all work together to make the show a success. And as for Mary Tyler Moore, whose role on the show seems to be increasing over time, "She's the most talented glamor comedienne in our business and I adore her."
So that's what I mean when I wonder what it must be like to work as a writer for a show that Morey Amsterdam's on. It's gotta be tough. I mean, you might figure it's unlikely you can write anything as funny for him as he could write himself (his joke file is mostly in his head; "It's quicker for me to create new jokes than to look up oldies anyway."), that in fact he can probably write lines for the rest of the cast that are funnier than the ones you come up with (and, says Van Dyke, "He smooths over occasional rough spots we have with regard to temperament"). I'd be so insecure, I'd worry that he wouldn't think the material I wrote for him would be good enough, which probably explains why I'm at home writing this instead of in Hollywood writing scripts for hit sitcoms.
Aside from the obvious, one of the reasons why the starlet features are so often included in my TV Guide essays is that they tell us more than just who made it in Hollywood and who didn't. They also tell us a lot about the era: how actresses were marketed, the words that were used to describe them, the traits that were thought acceptable for them to base their careers on. We also learn about how perceptive the writers were as judges of talent, based on the number of women profiled whose names remain mysteries to modern readers, or whose careers wound up modest at best.
|SOURCE ALL: HADLEY TV GUIDES|
And yet perhaps it isn't as simple as all that. Her friends - among them movie producer Robert Mirisch and his wife - describe Lynley as a "warm, wonderful person. I've known quite a few starlets, but this one is the most unaffected, down-to-earth of the lot." In the last year and a half, she's done three movies (including Preminger's The Cardinal) and made four major TV appearances, and she's signed two major long-term movie contracts. She says she'll always do television - "an actress is not an actress when she isn't working."
In the years to come, Carol Lynley will remain prominent in movies - Bunny Lake is Missing and The Poseidon Adventure are probably her best-known future roles; on television, through a myriad of over 200 guest-starring roles in shows of the era like The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Mannix, It Takes a Thief, Hawaii Five-O, Charlie's Angels, Hart to Hart; and on Broadway. There's also a Playboy spread she does in 1965, which, in the interests of full disclosure, I will note that I have not seen, although I'm sure it makes good use of the charms she puts on display here.
It's true that she never stars in her own prime-time series, never becomes an award-winning actress, but on the other hand people still recognize her name, and her last IMDB credit is as recent as 2006. As she puts it in a 1994 People interview, "‘Guys, what can I tell you? I haven’t committed a murder. I haven’t done porno. I haven’t been married 18 times. I don’t make threatening calls. I have my vices—but they’re all awfully normal." In the world of starlets, that's a pretty good career. After all, an actress is not an actress when she isn't working.
Some very interesting programs on this week, both in terms of plot and cast. Instead of starting at the front of the issue though, let's begin with the end of the week and work our way back.
On Friday night at 8:30 p.m. (CT), CBS's Alfred Hitchcock Hour presents "Captive Audience" with a stellar cast including James Mason, Angie Dickinson, and Ed Nelson. It's the story of a mystery writer (Mason) who sends his publisher a tape with the plot of his new novel, about a mystery writer plotting to murder his married lover's husband. We see the story acted out as the publisher listens to the recording, and ask ourselves the question: is this merely the plot to a new book, or are we listening to something more? Not surprisingly, the teleplay was written by Levinson and Link (Columbo); unfortunately, at this point we still have to go region-free if we want to see it on DVD in this country.
Johnny Carson's off the entire week, so sitting in the host chair on The Tonight Show is comedian Allan Sherman. What's unusual about this, though - at least to me - is that he's referred to in the listings as "acting host" rather than "guest host." I don't know; perhaps Carson's ill, or indisposed other than being on vacation. It's just that I don't believe I've ever seen that turn of phrase, and it's used for the entire week.
NBC's psychiatric drama The Eleventh Hour (9:00 p.m.) features in our look at Wednesday, with George C. Scott and his wife Coleen Dewhurst starring in "I Don't Belong in a White-Painted House," which had to be a provocative drama for 1963. Scott plays a Soviet intelligence officer who's defected to the West, where he's happily living the American dream. But if that's true, then "Why does hie experience these recurring urges to return to the Soviet Union?" The familiar character actors John Anderson and Michael Strong also star.
Wednesday's CBS Reports (6:30 p.m.) is part 3 of "Storm Over the Supreme Court," featuring one of the most controversial decisions in American history, the ban on Bible reading and prayer in public schools. Agree or disagree with it, and you can likely make the case either way, there's no question that the rammifications from these cases continue to echo today. Are things better now than they were then? On that one, I'm going with a negative answer, and personally I'm not at all sure decisions like this aren't part of the reason why. At the time, JFK made the famous comment about how as long as students had to take tests, there'd be prayer in schools. I admire his wit greately, but that one doesn't seem quite as funny anymore.
You might recall that a few years ago I wrote about a TV series I once envisioned called The Killers, which shared the title and star (Lee Marvin) from the '60s remake of Hemingway's short story, but nothing else. Tuesday's Dick Powell Theater, "Epilogue," has a storyline that reminds me very much of that. "At a reunion, an ex-Marine tells his former captain that he hasn't forgotten how to kill. He's been keeping in practice by murdering crooks who have been acquitted even thouhg they deserve punishment." That ex-Marine is, in fact, played by Lee Marvin; Ricardo Montalban is his former CO, and Claude Akins is the police lieutenant investigating the series of murders.
On late-nights (11:45 p.m.), KTVI shows reruns of Peter Gunn, and in "Vendetta," Tuesday night's episode, "Seeking revenge against Gunn, gangster Max Grayco orders his thugs to kill Edie," something which we know from the issue we looked at a few weeks ago is a very, very, very bad idea. In one of those little coincidences that I enjoy, opposite Peter Gunn on KPLR is the Million $ Movie "Just Off Broadway" with Lloyd Nolan also playing a private detective - Michael Shayne, who's found himself sitting on the jury in a murder trial. Just how he'd get through voir dire is left for you to decide.
You know how I'm frequently using the phrase plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose - in other words, "the more things change, the more they stay the same"? Here's a case of the exception that proves the rule; it's the Sunday night episode of David Susskind's Open End (10:00 p.m., KTVI), in which the topic of discussion is "The Biggest Hasle in the Country - JFK's Tax Bill." One of the "hassles" about it is the tax cut that Kennedy wants: Republicans, who favor a balanced budget, claim it's too big and the country can't afford it, but Democrats are all in favor of it. JFK campaigned for his cut with the phrase "a rising tide lifts all boats," the essence of which was later used by Ronald Reagan. Yes, sometimes times do change.
And on Saturday morning (NBC, 9:00 a.m.) actor Michael Pollard is a guest on The Shari Lewis Show. It's a long way from acting opposite Lamb Chop to playing C.W. Moss in Bonnie and Clyde and getting an Oscar nomination, isn't it?
Anyone in the mood for deviled clams? No kidding - travel to the beach with your portable TV, or make a clam pit in your backyard. I've got a recipe here that serves six!
Let me know how it comes out, hmm?
Finally, some random notes.
There's a note in the TV Teletype that The Magnificent Seven might be made into a TV series, with Yul Brynner as star. It does make it to the small screen, albeit 35 years later.
Bea Benaderet says she enjoys Kate Bradley, her character on the new Petticoat Junction program, much more than Cousin Pearl, the role she plays in The Beverly Hillbillies. "Kate Bradley is a much prettier woman and there will be no resemblance whatsoever except that she and Pearl are both widows." Interesting, considering that Petticoat Junction is a spinoff from Hillbillies; thus, Kate and Pearl do exist in the same universe. other than a character deliberately playing two roles, e.g. an actor playing his own father, is there any other case of one person playing two distinct roles in the same sitcom universe?
And then, The Editors have an interesting idea in this week's As We See It: perhaps it isn't the length of commercials that bother people so much as it is the number of times their programs are interrupted by them. The NFL's said to be experimenting with this very idea this season; longer commercial breaks, but fewer of them per quarter. well, it only took fifty or so years to figure it out.