January 21, 2019

What's on TV? Sunday, January 19, 1969

Well, here we are back in Philly again, back-to-back weeks. (I'll bet these two issues came from the same lot.) The professional football season finally comes to an end, with both leagues playing their all-star games, one week after the Jets' titanic Super Bowl upset of the Colts. If you're not in the mood for pigskin, there's also hockey, and if you want something a little brainerer, you can check out G-E College Bowl. Let's see what else there is.

January 19, 2019

This week in TV Guide: January 18, 1969

It's the dawn of a new era in American politics, with the Inauguration of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew as President and Vice President of the United States. Out with the old, corrupt LBJ administration, and in with...wait, how did that all work out again?

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Inauguration coverage starts at 10:00 a.m. ET on all three networks, and continues throughout the day, featuring the swearing-in at noon, the parade throughout the afternoon, and the inaugural balls following the late local news. For the first time, networks discuss the idea of providing political analysis of the president's inaugural address; as NBC producer Robert Shafer says, "I've felt the Inaugural has been covered in the past too much like a sporting event. I'd like to give this one more historical perspective."

Network anchors admit a decided lack of enthusiasm for the parade, which, Chet Huntley says, is "kind of a bore." His colleague David Brinkley is more delightfully pungent: "Every state demands to be seen in it, so it always drags on three hours or more, going into absolute darkness, and nobody can see the end of it." Concedes Walter Cronkite, "how can they [cut it out]? It's one of our ceremonials."

Security is expected to be tight for the parade; President Nixon will be riding in a new limo with bulletproof windows and, like LBJ in 1965, will be seated behind bulletproof glass in the review stand. The glass will make it impossible for famed cowboy actor Monty Montana to duplicate his 1953 trick of lassoing President Eisenhower. And once again there's the ghost that's present by its absence, something that happened between Eisenhower and Johnson that caused the increase in security, the bulletproof glass and limo. Five years later, it still hangs overhead.

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And now, as Paul Harvey would put it, the rest of the story: the man to the right of Nixon in the Close-Up is Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the United States, whose duty it is to administer the presidential oath. Warren, wanting to ensure that his successor shared his liberal judicial views, had announced his retirement in June 1968 in order to allow President Johnson to nominate the new Chief. That man, Associate Justice (and LBJ confidant) Abe Fortas, would come under intense fire for alleged ethical violations and, after a contentious Senate filibuster, his nomination would be withdrawn.

Warren, stymied in his efforts to, frankly, manipulate the situation, agreed to remain on the bench until the next term (which wouldn't begin until after the election), in a deal in which his son-in-law acted as intermediary. His son-in-law was none other than John Charles Daly - the same John Daly who'd been host of What's My Line? for so many years and then moved on to head Voice of America, and had married Warren's daughter Virginia in 1960. Small world, isn't it?

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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..

Ed Sullivan: Tentatively scheduled guests: Liza Minnelli; singer John Davidson; Gary Puckett and the Union Gap; the Lennon Sisters; comedians Wayne and Shuster, and Scoey Mitchell; and Victor the Bear.

Hollywood Palace: Roy Rogers and Dale Evans present a country show.  Guests: Burl Ives; George Gobel; "Beverly Hillbilly" Irene Ryan; singers Sonny James and Jeannie C. Riley; and the Stoney Mountain Cloggers.

Hmm. Both shows have strong lineups. Liza Minnelli was well on her way to a great career, and the Canadian comedians Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster* appeared on the Sullivan show 67 times, more than any other guests. As for Victor the Bear - well, you be the judge.

*Frank Shuster's uncle was Joe Shuster - co-creator of Superman; Frank's daughter Rosie was for a time married to Lorne Michaels and served as one of Saturday Night Live's chief writers at the beginning (thanks, Kliph!) We're just full of tidbits like that this week.

The Palace has a big-name lineup, but this week's show is mostly country, and I'm not a big fan of country. Still, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans! Legends! My verdict is The Palace, bearly.*

*Oh, brother.

And now, a bonus track: Chuck Braverman's short film "The World of '68," first seen on 60 Minutes. but airing this week on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, broadcast right after Ed this Sunday. (The Brothers' other guests include Ray Charles and Jackie Mason.)

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.Throughout the 60s and early 70s, TV Guide's weekly 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. 

Any time you have to spend more than half of a television review going over the premise of the show you're reviewing, I think you've got a problem. Or, according to Cleveland Amory, the network has a problem. And while you wouldn't think that explaining the setup for ABC's Land of the Giants would be that big a deal, it is. That's because every one of the "little people" that find themselves stuck in the land of the giants has a story: the financier (Don Matheson) trying to complete a multi-million dollar deal; the criminal (Kurt Kasznar) with a million dollars in stolen loot; the angry jet-setter (Deanna Lund) who complains about the lousy service.

And about the service: one of the things I find most hilarious about sci-fi stories taking place in the future is how much they get wrong. In this case, our heroes find themselves in the aforementioned giantsville because it's 1983, and their London-bound suborbital flight runs into trouble. Granted, these alternative universes only happen in sci-fi stories, but here we are in 2019, 36 years after Land of the Giants is supposed to have occurred, and we still haven't cracked suborbital passenger service, although Richard Branson is hard at work on it. Maybe he was the financier stuck in the land of the giants.

There are good guys and bad guys in Land of the Giants, and that doesn't make it much different from other programs on TV. Among the best of the good guys are the pilots, Gary Conway (who had much more to work with in Burke's Law) and Don Marshall, whose problems, in addition to having landed their passengers on the wrong planet, seem to revolve around basic survival. Then there's the stewardess (Heather Young) who has her own problem, as Amory points out: "In addition to sharing all the troubles the others have, she also is almost constantly strangled by her size-1 sweater." The characterizations are, for the most part, somewhat cartoonish, which goes for the series as a whole. Says Cleve, "if you're under 11, you're bound to enjoy this show. If you're over 11, lots of luck." Or, perhaps, lots of Heather Young.

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Darren McGavin, star of NBC's Wednesday night private detective series The Outsider, is an outsider in more ways than one. Digby Diehl tells us that McGavin has a reputation for being egocentric and difficult to work with; says former costar Burt Reynolds (Riverboat), "Darren McGavin is going to be a very disappointed man on the first Easter after his death."  That's a very good line, very funny—I didn't know Burt had it in him.

Anyway, McGavin did several interviews for TV Guide in the 60s, and comes across as blunt, gruff, a straight-shooter who's free with his opinions and doesn't care whether you like them or not. A sampling: Mike Hammer, Mickey Spillane's famous detective, whom McGavin played for two years, was "a one dimensional person. Mike Hammer is of another era, another time. He's not a valid man in this world." Violence on television? "How can anybody seriously be surprised about violence on TV and movies or in ghettos and campuses when the United States Government is resolving a conflict today in Vietnam not only with violence, but more or less illegally." Gun control?  "Firearms, all firearms, should be abolished.  That includes sidearms and shotguns for the police. And then we would get rid of guns." He doesn't see it happening, though, as "the gun lobbies are too strong."

David Ross, the character McGavin plays in The Outsider, is one of the actor's favorite roles; the fictional man and the real one share a common background and characteristics. They're both outsiders, McGavin explains, having come up from broken families, spending time in jail, learning life on the streets. "[A]mongst herd animals in Africa a strange thing happens to an animal that has not had the normal herd experience, one whose mother is killed. That animal is always an outsider to the herd. They reject him inasmuch as he does not want to relate to the herd.  He develops his own path and ethic." No surprise that McGavin has a copy of Colin Wilson's existential study, The Outsider.

As for acting, McGavin acknowledges that the legitimate theater is his true love, but that "you can't go back and do play after play." For all of television's faults, "even in that context you can do something." And that is what he would do, for years to come.

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Leslie Raddatz gives us a sneak peak at what the networks might have in store for the 1969-70 season. According to his sources, five factors above all are at work influencing the programmers: 1) the national revulsion against violence in the wake of the assassinations of MLK and RFK; 2) the decline in audience interest in movies making the transition from theaters to TV; 3) the emergence of "Negroes" as a force in the entertainment industry; 4) the rising cost of filmed (as opposed to taped) programs; and 5) the popularity of half-hour sitcoms over hour-long dramas.

Crime, war and spy shows are out, and there are only two Westerns on the docket. A quick scan through the potential series yields a few tidbits: CBS has UMC, which with a different lead (Chad Everett instead of Richard Bradford) winds up being Medical Center; To Rome With Love with John Forsythe; and The Jim Nabors Show, starring (surprise, surprise!) Jim Nabors; NBC weighs in with a post-I Spy vehicle for Bill Cosby, which winds up being The Bill Cosby Show; The Whole World Is Watching, a drama about three lawyers that evolves into "The Lawyers" segment of The Bold Ones; and Flip Out, which becomes The Flip Wilson Show.  ABC doesn't have much, but the ones that stand out are The Courtship of Eddie's Father (with Bill Bixby); Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (with Monte Markham); and The Brady Bunch (enough said). Perhaps the most interesting story is Barefoot in the Park, based on the Neil Simon play, which was pitched to star Philip Clark and Skye Aubrey. Instead, the producers decided on an interesting tack: changing the leads and the majority of the cast from white to black. It winds up with Scoey Mitchell and Tracy Reed, and lasts for twelve episodes.*

*Barefoot in the Park was teamed up with another Neil Simon adaptation, which proved to be far more successful. Its name? The Odd Couple.

What doesn't wind up on our home screens doesn't bear much scrutiny; I never did see anything of Stefanie Powers (our loss) in Holly Golightly. We'll also never know what our lives might have been like had The Punxatilly Pioneer made it to the small screen.

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Now here's an interesting program, on KYW at 7:30 p.m. ET. David Frost hosts How to Irritate People, with a cast that will soon be far better known in the United States, including John Cleese as the Chief Irratator, with Ruffling Assistants Connie Booth, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Gillian Lind, and Dick Vosburgh. I think tht's worth preempting The Jerry Lewis Show, don't you?

Game shows featuring celebrity participants, while not what they once were, are still to be found in the late 60s. Longtime warhorses such as What's My Line?, I've Got a Secret, Password and To Tell the Truth have all disappeared in the last year or two, destined to return in diminished form via syndication strip programming, but you can still find your favorite B-list stars throughout the daytime network lineup.

NBC has a morning trio, starting at 10:00 Eastern with Snap Judgement, featuring Tony Randall and actress Ina Balin*, followed at 11:00 by Personality, this week with Godfrey Cambridge, Joan Fontaine and Peggy Cass. At 11:30 it's the king of celebrity shows, Hollywood Squares, with Wally Cox, Henry Gibson, Arte Johnson, Paul Lynde, Rose Marie, Jan Murray, Tony Randall (again!), Kaye Stevens and Charley Weaver. The afternoon continues at 3:30 with an additional pair: You Don't Say!, with Pat Buttram and Alice Ghostley, followed by the original Match Game, with Ethel Merman and Nipsey Russell. And here's one I've never heard of before, ABC's Funny You Should Ask, this week with Stu Gilliam, Shecky Greene, Rose Marie, Tony Randall (does that man have time to do anything else?) and Kaye Stevens.

*Ina Balin also starred in the Jerry Lewis movie The Patsy, which ABC happens to be showing that Wednesday. 

If celeb shows aren't your thing, you could still appreciate NBC's Concentration, Jeopardy and Eye Guess, while ABC offers Let's Make a Deal, Dream House, The Newlywed Game and The Dating Game. You notice CBS missing from this list; the network, which today airs the only network daytime game shows, had axed all of their games by 1969, concentrating instead on sitcom reruns and soaps.

Speaking of the sudsers, there are plenty of those as well: General Hospital, One Life to Live and Dark Shadows on ABC; Love of Life, Search for Tomorrow, As the World Turns, Love is a Many Splendored Thing, The Guiding Light, The Secret Storm, and Edge of Night on CBS (they also had the only talk show, Art Linkletter's); and Hidden Faces, Days of Our Lives, The Doctors and Another World on NBC.

So for your daytime television viewing, you had 14 soap operas, 13 game shows, five sitcom reruns, one morning show (Today), one morning news show (CBS), a children's show (Captain Kangaroo), an interview show, and a partridge in a pear tree.* Six hours were given back to local stations (half of that from ABC, which didn't begin its morning feed until noon), although preemptions were common throughout the daytime lineup.

*Actually, I made that last one up.

By contrast, today's daytime lineup is thus: four soap operas, three talk shows, three morning shows (with Today now running an extra two hours), two game shows,  and 10 hours of local programming, most of which is filled with more talk shows, fake judge shows and the like.

I grew up with these shows, in the summer months when school was out, during Christmas break in the winter, and on those days when I was home sick.  I loved watching them - well, maybe not each individual one, but the concept of them.  Sure, some of them might have been cheesy, but I miss them.  If I had children, I'm not sure I'd let them watch daytime TV today.

I didn't like the soaps, but my mother did and so they were on.  She was partial to the NBC lineup, especially Another World.  I actually - and quite unintentionally - share my first and middle name with a character from that show (albeit with a slightly different spelling), but that's another story for another day. Say, that would be a great name for a daytime drama, wouldn't it? TV  

January 18, 2019

Around the dial

I'm not really sure just how much stock to put in lists, and that includes—perhaps especially—my own. They're always fun to read, though, which is why the Classic TV Blog Association, to which I proudly belong, recently polled its members on the 25 Greatest Classic TV Series of all time.

Part of the challenge with contributing to a list like this lies in the guidelines. In this case, programs were limited to those that aired in prime time, and debuted prior to 1990. We were also asked to consider criteria such as enduring popularity, social impact, and influence on other TV series. In other words, this isn't simply a list of favorite television shows.

  1. The Twilight Zone
  2. I Love Lucy 
  3. The Mary Tyler Moore Show
  4. Columbo
  5. All in the Family
  6. Dragnet
  7. Monty Python’s Flying Circus
  8. Star Trek
  9. The Prisoner
  10. M*A*S*H
  11. The Dick Van Dyke Show
  12. The Fugitive
  13. Dallas
  14. Doctor Who
  15. The Andy Griffith Show
  16. The Defenders
  17. The Golden Girls
  18. Perry Mason
  19. SCTV
  20. The Honeymooners
  21. Alfred Hitchcock Presents
  22. Hill Street Blues
  23. The Odd Couple
  24. The Outer Limits
  25. The Avengers

For the record, I believe two of my choices made the top 10, and there are perhaps a half-dozen in the top 25 that I definitely wouldn't have put on any list. A couple of them are shows that I didn't have, but heartily approve of; likewise, I grudgingly included two that I don't particularly like, but had to acknowledge their cultural and/or historical significance. Some of you might be taken aback by shows that I omitted, or equally surprised by those I included. (Being a coward at heart, I'm refraining from being any more specific than that.)

The Last Drive In, Comfort TV, and Classic Film and TV Cafรฉ have particularly good takes on the results. Ultimately, though, television is, or at least was, something very personal to people—as I've written before, the most personal of all communications media. A particular program may bring back memories of where you were, what you were doing, or what was happening when you watched it, and something like that is impossible to quantify. If there's any program here that you've never seen before but are encouraged to check out because it's on the list, then we've done our job as curators of the past. What are your thoughts—where do you agree or disagree?

In other news...

It was 67 years ago this week that The Today Show premiered on NBC, and at Garroway at Large, Jodie gives us a look at what the critics had to say on the morning after. Hint: I doubt many of them thought we'd be having this conversation 67 years later.

The Hitchcock Project moves on to writer James P. Cavanagh, as Jack at bare-bones e-zine looks at the first season episode "The Hidden Thing." I'm afraid  I'll have to agree with Jack that what was most hidden in this episode was a satisfying resolution.

It's Bart Maverick's turn to lead on Maverick Mondays at The Horn Section, as Hal reviews the fifth-season episode "The Golden Fleecing." James Garner's long-since left Maverick, but Jack Kelly does his best in a good, but not quite great, evocation of the show's past.

At Cult TV, the emphasis is on the late '70s and the British police drama Target. As John points out, Target was a series known for its violence, and the episode "Blow Out" is perhaps one of the most violent, along with some suspect police methods.

The Broadcasting Archives at the University of Maryland links to this provocative article at Dazed on how Soul Train was "the most radical show on American television." Never watched it myself, so I appreciate this kind of serious analysis as to its cultural weight.

At Television Obscurities, Robert is once again taking on the task of documenting a year in TV Guide, from beginning to end. This time it's 1989, and since that's not a time period that I generally write about myself, I'm very much looking forward to these weekly recaps.  TV  

January 16, 2019

The Cincinnati legend and the legendary day

It's not my place to go telling you all out there about my problems (unless they have to do with TV), but I do have a point to this. Currently, I'm going through what people euphemistically refer to as a period between careers, when what they really mean is that someone is unemployed.

Anyway my current temporary assignment allows me to wear headphones while I work, which has enabled me to listen to David Von Pein's remarkable long-form audio from Cincinnati's WLW radio: 33 hours, documenting the broadcast days of November 22 and 23, 1963. The significance, of course, is obvious: the JFK assassination. But while that continuous coverage is interesting, what most intrigues me is what comes before the first bulletins are broadcast, a little after 1:30 p.m. ET.

To all appearances, November 22, 1963 was an absolutely ordinary day—it's only in retrospect that the sheer ordinariness of it all is apparent; at the time, nobody would have given it a thought, which is what makes it so engaging. And the most outstanding example of that is a live, 90-minute program which airs five days a week and is simulcast on WLW radio and WLW-T television, called The 50-50 Club, hosted by Ruth Lyons; you might recognize it from some of the Cincinnati-area TV Guides we've looked at. It has been said that history swallows up the ordinary folks, but the preservation of this particular program—the television version of ordinary folks, as it were—simply by circumstance, gives us a wonderful snapshot of its time, from popular music to an economy built around, and advertised to, the vast majority of women who stayed at home raising their children. It is an example of ordinary folks telling the history.

One essayist called Ruth Lyons the inventor of the daytime talk show, and that's a pretty fair description, I think. Doubtless she would be appalled by what has happened to her creation in the nearly 73 years since her program debuted in Cincinnati on February 5, 1946. It was called The 50 Club at first, because the studio audience was comprised of 50 women; the audience was expanded to 100 in 1953, when the show became known as The 50-50 Club. In addition to WLW-T, the show was also carried on the other three stations owned by Crosley Broadcasting, in Dayton, Columbus, and Indianapolis. In his 1988 obituary for Lyons, columnist Bob Greene gives you a pretty good idea of the impact The 50-50 Club had:

Sponsors had to wait a full year for a chance to advertise on her show; when they did, and when Ruth mentioned the product, stores could not keep the items in stock. There was a three-year wait for tickets to ''The 50-50 Club.'' And when Ruth Lyons noticed, during a visit to Cincinnati`s Children`s Hospital, that there was a lack of toys for the young patients, she said so. Over the years the fund she started brought in more than $12 million. John Kiesewetter, TV columnist for the Cincinnati Enquirer, remembers that when he was hospitalized as a 7th grader in Middletown, Ohio, the plastic model ships he received from Ruth Lyons` toy fund were the bright spot of his convalescence. And five years ago, when Kiesewetter`s own infant son was placed in an oxygen tent in a Cincinnati hospital, a toy from the same fund ''brought the sparkle back to his eyes.''

In 1957, Cincinnati mayor Charles Taft, proclaimed "Ruth Lyons Day"; WLW-T received 100,000 requests for tickets. The 50-50 Club was the top rated daytime television program in America from 1952 to 1964. I'd call that a pretty fair legacy, wouldn't you?

An add for the Ruth Lyons show in Broadcasting Magazine, March 18, 1963
Back in the day when nightclubs were still a vital part of American entertainment, Cincinnati had one of the most famous, the Lookout House. This meant that every entertainer doing the circuit had to pass through Cincinnati, and if you were passing through Cincinnati you had to appear with Ruth Lyons on The 50-50 Show. Arthur Godfrey, whom you can see cavorting with Lyons at the top of this piece, was there, as were Bob Hope, Andy Williams, Hugh O'Brien, George Gobel, Jack Webb, Helen Hayes, Milton Berle, Bob Newhart, Vic Damone, Van Cliburn, Pearl Bailey—in fact, just about anyone with a nightclub act.*

*And even those who didn't, such as Henry Cabot Lodge, Oscar Robertson, Adela Rogers St. Johns and Hedda Hopper. If you were in Cincinnati for any reason, you were on with Ruth.

On the show of November 22, Lyons talks about Troy Donahue, who had just recently appeared on the show and had dined with the family. She and her daughter Candy were very impressed with him; he was a nice young man, and he seemed genuine. This day's audience contains members of a "Twins Club"—women who'd given birth to twins; another group present is called the "Secret Sisters Club." One woman in the audience has 12 children, ages two to 20, and hardly looks old enough for that to be possible.

The show is in the midst of its Christmas Fund drive, Ruth Lyons' lasting legacy, raising money for those toys that Bob Greene wrote about, distributed to hospitalized children during Christmas. (At this point, the contributions were in excess of $160,000.) Everyone in the audience donates, and then they sing "Do It Now" (to the tune of "Frรจre Jacques"), urging viewers to make their contributions "for the little children."  Sponsors donate prizes—pretty nice ones, in fact—for a drawing that will be held the following Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, from all those people who'd contributed to the Fund.

We find out that Lyons is a big fan of Cole Porter, whom she calls one of America's greatest songwriters (Porter is still living at this point; he doesn't die until August, 1964), and Porter's songs factor significantly in an interactive segment she conducts with the audience. There are other songs and games, and everyone has a good time; your ticket to the show specifies the date, and so it's completely by chance that audience members are part of the November 22 program.

The 50-50 Club was the last regularly scheduled program that aired on WLW radio that Friday, in its customary noon-1:30 p.m. timeslot. Shortly thereafter, just as the afternoon program "Tune Time" was to begin (on tap: the original cast recording of "Lil' Abner"), a bulletin came into the WLW newsroom with the first details of an unknown sniper firing three shots at the presidential motorcade in Dallas, Texas. A subsequent bulletin from WLW features a couple of technicians speaking in the background; it would have been hilarious had it not been so traumatic. Kennedy's been shot, one man says, to which the other replies, the President ? (It could have been his brother, the Attorney General, targeted by an angry henchman of Jimmy Hoffa; but his time had not yet come.) After that, Ruth Lyons and her Christmas Fund and the upcoming drawing on Thanksgiving day are about as far away from your mind as you can get.

Cincinnati mourned Lyons' death in 1988; here's the story as it was broadcast on Cincinnati's WLWT.

It's ironic, don't you think, that one of the anchors on WLWT's news is Jerry Springer?

There are tributes to Ruth Lyons, features on Ruth Lyons, highlights of The 50-50 Club. But nowhere online do I see a copy, audio or video, of a complete show, except for this one. I'm sure that neither Lyons nor anyone else appearing on that show thought anything of it, imagined anything significant about it, had no reason to think that this particular show would live forever as a testimonial to a 21-year run. But when you think about it, this wasn't just any show—because of the timing of the news bulletins, we hear the entire program; because Kennedy's assassination occurs in November and not, say, April, we hear the campaign for the Christmas Fund.

We benefit from the circumstances, which tell the story of an extraordinary woman and her show, as broadcast on November 22, 1963. It was an absolutely ordinary day—until it wasn't. TV  

January 14, 2019

What's on TV? Wednesday, January 15, 1969

Here we are in Philadelphia, and while there's nothing on today that would occupy a place in television history, I like this lineup. Even though we're only a year from the start of the '70s, today's programming strikes me as being firmly rooted in the '60s, if that makes sense. Although there were listings for other cities in Pennsylvania (Harrisburg, York, Lancaster), only the network listings were included; no percentage in including them. Anyway, see them for yourself.

January 12, 2019

This week in TV Guide: January 11, 1969

There is no mention of it on the cover, no story on the inside, no viewer's guide with recipes for the parties held on the big day. Instead, at 3:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, January 13, there is just a simple listing: "Super Bowl." It's accompanied by a full-page closeup containing the lineups of the two teams: the AFL champion New York Jets, and the NFL champion Baltimore Colts.

It is, of course, one of the most celebrated football games ever played, and one of the most consequential. When the Jets defeated the Colts 16-7, the result catapulted Jets quarterback Joe Namath from simple stardom to a cultural fame so pervasive that the remnants of it continue to this day. It gave a final, unmistakable credibility to the American Football League, and an abject humiliation to the National Football League, ensuring that the AFL would never again be thought of as a junior partner in the professional football business (an equality sealed the following season with Kansas City's victory over Minnesota). If Baltimore's victory over the New York Giants in the 1958 sudden death championship game had established pro football as a major league sport, the third Super Bowl game guaranteed its place in the pantheon of American pop culture.

Did you ever notice the NFL logo on
this program is wrong?
It was a very painful experience for my eight-year-old self; as observant readers may recall, the Colts were my second-favorite team, next to the invincible Green Bay Packers. Oh, I enjoyed the AFL a great deal; it's just that when push came to shove, my allegiance was squarely with the Colts, as it had been with the Packers, and as it would be the following year with the hometown Vikings. The defeat was a bitter pill to swallow, and as the outcome became evident in the waning minutes, my frustration overcame me and I bit the coffee table in exasperation, leaving an impression of eight or ten teeth in what must have been rather soft wood. (It was still there nearly 30 years later, when the table was sold, although Old English Leather does wonders with hiding the defects.) I don't need to go into the sordid details, nor the ramifications of said action, but it gave me a lifetime animus toward Namath, who must surely be the most overrated player in the Hall of Fame—statistically he was a lousy quarterback, his lasting contribution being due more to what he did for the AFL (as well as his off-field activities). It left me unimpressed with Colts coach Don Shula, who clearly didn't have his team prepared. It even made me resent the Miami Dolphins in a sort of guilt-by-association, simply because they played in the Orange Bowl, site of the debacle. Well, there's no accounting for pre-teenage reasoning.

And yet there's nothing particularly remarkable about it in this issue. The full-page closeup is no more than that given to the first two Super Bowls. The Seagram's ad urging viewers to "Watch the Game with a Friend" is the same one that appears for every big sporting event. That ad for Chap Stick is there because it's the official lip balm of the National Football League, not the American. There's no indication that this game is more important than any other championship game. It doesn't dominate the pages; there are no variety shows built around it, no Super Bowl-themed episodes of any regular series, and if, for some absurd reason, you were to skip the Sunday listings, you wouldn't  know anything was going on. It's not even in prime time, for heaven's sake. Actually, it's all kind of nice, don't you think?

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From 1964 to 1970 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..

Sullivan: Tonight's broadcast originates from Circus Circus in Las Vegas, where Ed's scheduled guests are Gina Lollobrigida, who sings and dances; Don Rickles; singer Jerry Vale; the Chambers Brothers, singer-instrumentalists; the Nitwits, comedy-instrumental group; juggler Rudy Cardenas; and various circus acts.

Palace: Host Jimmy Durante is joined by Ella Fitzgerald, tenor Sergio Franchi, pop singer Marvin Gaye, comedian Pat Cooper, the Tahiti Nue Revue and the rocking Society of Seven.

One would think you'd have to come up with a fairly good lineup on Palace to top Gina Lollobrigida, especially with Don Rickles and Jerry Vale. As it happens, Palace does have a pretty good lineup. Ella Fitzgerald, for one thing—I suspect she's a better singer than Lollobrigidia, you know? Sergio Franchi and Marvin Gaye make for a nice supporting group. And then there's the Society of Seven, which I'd never heard of, but sure enough; here they are, along with Franchi.

It's a close call, but ultimately I have to give the nod to the Palace by a Durante nose.

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.Throughout the 60s and early 70s, TV Guide's weekly 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. 

When I was young, Gilligan's Island was a staple of my after-school viewing on Channel 11. It would be no surprise, therefore, that when The Good Guys premiered on CBS, I recognized Bob Denver as "that guy from Gilligan." (I don't think my memory went as far back as Dobie Gillis back then, or at least not enough to associate Denver with Maynard G. Krebs.) But as far as Cleveland Amory is concerned, Bob Denver is just fine as Rufus Butterworth, the taxi driver and best friend to Herb Edelman's hamburger-stand-owner Bert Gramus.

It's not true, says Cleve, that nice guys finish last, nor that a happy company makes a bad picture. "These nice, happy guys may not finish first, in the ratings or their jobs, but they make a fine picture—if not every week, at least most weeks." The premise of the series is an old one: "the little man up against the big bad world and trying to keep the big bad wolf from the door." But, as Amory points out, the story is so old that it seems new again, and that's an advantage in a season where so many shows seem to be slick and with-it.

Edelman and Denver are on their game, especially in an episode which features Rufus talks Bert into doing a television commercial for his stand, only to see Bert flub line after line in rehearsal, and finally freeze up altogether when the commercial runs live, forcing Rufus to step in and do all the talking himself. Amory calls it "one of the funniest half-hours we've seen all year." Coming from Cleve, that's high praise indeed. The Good Guys is never a hit, but it does last two seasons, which is one season more than many of the series we see in this space.

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What do we have to look forward to watching this week?

Saturday sees the return of the Pro Bowlers Tour on ABC (3:30 p.m.), another of the artifacts from a bygone era. Yes, I know bowling is still on TV, but without Chris Schenkel it's just not the same. Elsewhere, The Mod Squad's Michael Cole is the guest on The Dating Game (ABC, 7:30 p.m.), while Hogan's Heroes's Larry Hovis guests on The Ghost and Mrs Muir (NBC, 8:30 pm.) as well as appearing on his regular show (CBS, 9:00 p.m.), which features as its guest the always-delightful Ruta Lee. Later, Edward G. Robinson is part of the cast in the late movie The Outrage (12:20 a.m., KYW) and also Hell on Frisco Bay (12:30 a.m., WGAL); the former stars Paul Newman in the lead, and features William Shatner in a smaller role.

On Sunday, Wonderful World of Color has the first of a three-part presentation of the 1964 movie Those Calloways (7:30 p.m., NBC), and what's significant about this is not the story in particular, but a remarkably recognizable cast, a veritable Who's Who of past, present and future performers from both TV and movies: Brian Keith (Family Affair), Vera Miles (Psycho), Brandon de Wilde (Shane), Walter Brennan (The Real McCoys), Ed Wynn (The Ed Wynn Show), Linda Evans (Dynasty), Philip Abbott (The FBI), John Larkin (The Edge of Night), Parley Baer (Chester on the radio version of Gunsmoke), Frank de Kova (F Troop), and Tom Skerritt (Picket Fences). Not bad, hmm? If, that is, you have anything left after the Super Bowl.

On Monday, ABC boasts a lineup consisting entirely of specials, including "the heartwarming, but sometimes frustrating, experience of adopting a child," narrated by Maureen Stapleton; a documentary profile of Olympic champion skier Jean Claude Killy; and an "in-depth probe" of the problems facing American cities—congestion, poverty, traffic, pollution—narrated by George C. Scott. But let's talk about the night's opening special, The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau. (7:30 p.m.) Robert Higgins' profile of Cousteau gives us a slightly different view of the explorer than what we're used to hearing; Higgins refers to the famed explorer as "tense, bone-thin," with "a queer, acid-idealistic anger at a great many things." He refers to money as "a necessary evil" and speaks of the rich as "the dirtiest of pigs. Totally dishonest. They were human beings when they were poor, but they have forgotten." He prefers poets and philosophers to scientists, who have lost the humanity to understand what their own discoveries mean. Civilization, he says, is "degenerating." "I am bored with the Negro problem as I was with the Jewish problem after the war. They are of vital interest to those concerned, of course, but they are merely ripples in the global sense." Indeed, concludes Higgins, "one is almost inclined to suspect that he prefers animals and fish to human beings."

Tuesdsay night is the NBA All-Star Game (8:30 p.m., ABC), live from Baltimore—back when Baltimore had a team, that is, before they moved to Washington. I was going to list some of the more recognizable names in the game, until I realized that they're almost all recognizable: Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, John Havlicek, Oscar Robertson, Elgin Baylor, Elvin Hayes. Many of the players wound up in the Hall of Fame and several of them became coaches; Jerry Sloan and Lenny Wilkins are in the top five in all-time coaching wins. Dave Bing was elected mayor of Detroit (and the city declared bankruptcy during his term—ah, we can't be winners all the time.

Wednesday night we have another of those things you'd never see today: a prime time network presentation of a black-and-white movie that isn't named It's a Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street. It's the television premiere of the 1959 thriller Compulsion (9:00 p.m., ABC), based on the 1924 Leopold-Loeb murder case, known as the "Crime of the Century." Judith Crist calls it a "taut and tense movie," with "remarkable" performances from Bradford Dillman and Dean Stockwell as the two thrill killers, and Orson Welles "simply unforgettable" as the Darrowesque defense attorney. There's also a very strong supporting cast. I don't know that I've ever seen this movie; perhaps I should check it out here. Doubtless some will say it compares unfavorably with Rope.

Even though it's January, we're not quite through with Christmas yet, as Bob Hope proves on Thursday (8:30 p.m., NBC) with highlights of his annual Christmas visit to the troops serving overseas, including his fifth straight trip to Vietnam. Whenever you talk about Bob visiting the troops, you're bound to notice the women: this year he's joined by Ann-Margret, Linda Bennett, the Golddiggers, singing group Honey Ltd., and Miss World Penelope Plummer. Oh, football star and singer Roosevelt Grier and comedy trampolinist Dick Albers are along as well. (More on Hope in a minute.)

On Friday, Dick Cavett is the guest host on The Tonight Show (11:30 p.m., NBC). Ironic, isn't it, since by the end of the year he'll be competing against Johnny on ABC. However, as Richard K. Doan reports, ABC's plan right now is still for Cavett to move from his five-a-week morning show to a three-a-week prime time series. That does happen in the summer, with Cavett appearing at 10:00 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Friday nights. It's not until the network's negotiations over a new contract for Joey Bishop break down and Bishop walks off that Cavett winds up with the late-night spot.

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Richard Doan also reminds us that Cable TV is still coming, as it has been for years now—he's betting the gold strike will finally occur in the '70s, and he'll be right. Hollywood columnist James Bacon authors that story on Bob Hope's fortune, in which he pegs Hope's worth at anywhere between $150,000,000 and $500,000,000. (That's right: a half-billion dollars.) Hope is irritated that none of these magazine pundits have asked him how much he's worth; he tells Bacon that "If I sold my land today, I'd be worth $100,000,000—a dollar more, a dollar less." Of course, adds Bacon, if Hope were to wait until next year to sell that land, at the rapidly expanding real estate boom in California, it might be worth twice that. And then there's his stock, the oil wells in Texas, radio stations in Puerto Rico, plus his shares of the Los Angeles Rams and Cleveland Indians, not to mention his movie and TV enterprises. He's an incredibly shrewd businessman who makes his own decisions on investments, and has been buying land since the '30s, most of which has increased in value a thousandfold. Which suggests to me that the answer to ending the Vietnam War (and Hope's annual trips overseas) might be staring us right in the eyes: he should just buy Vietnam. With any luck, he might be able to interest the Disney people in building a theme park there. TV  

January 11, 2019

Around the dial

The Broadcast Archives at the University of Maryland links to this article at Closer on the death of Edith Bunker on All in the Family, and the kind of impact it carried.

At The Horn Section, Hal looks at one of television's greats, Larry Storch, and some of his most memorable roles. Yes, there's a lot more to him than F Troop!

The Twilight Zone Vortex recalls the classic 1963 episode "Jess-Belle," starring James Best and Anne Francis, and written by Earl Hamner, Jr. It's an eerie, atmospheric episode, both well-written and well-acted.

I happen to know that Garroway at Large's Jodie is a cat person, and that one of her little friends bid us adieu a few days ago, so it's certainly right that she gives us a look at the Master Communicator with some little friends of his own.

Suzanne Pleshette is the subject of David's Top TV Moments at Comfort TV, and nothing more needs be said, other than: well played, sir

I wrote a bit in my book about Mary Kay and Johnny, the late '40s sitcom that was the first television show to feature a husband and wife sharing the same bed; at Television Obscurities, we find that Mary Kay, aka Mary Kay Stearns, died two months ago at age 93. A true link to television history.

We're up to 1961 in Television's New Frontier: the 1960s, and a look at the final season of what is generally considered the first "adult" television Western, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, starring Hugh O'Brian. An annoying musical score (in my opinion), but a series I've always enjoyed nonetheless. Perhaps we should consider this the first series to actually have a "final" episode? TV  

January 7, 2019

What's on TV? Thursday, January 8, 1970

Well, I don't think we've ever seen anything quite like this. It's our first trip to Montana, and I think it speaks to the state's wide-open spaces that every single local station has at least two, if not three, affiliations. Not only that, but we've got shows being programmed at different times all over the place. Who would expect to see Jackie Gleason at 5:30 p.m., or Jim Nabors at 6:00 p.m,  You have no idea how challenging it was to keep all of this straight. It's worth it though, right?

January 5, 2019

This week in TV Guide: January 3, 1970

It's not only the start of a new year, it's a whole new decade, and something about the 1970s seems to contain the promise of exciting, dynamic change. After all, we've already landed on the moon; can the world of The Jetsons be far behind? TV Guide takes advantage of the occasion to devote this entire issue to a look at what the future has in store; namely, "a startling communications revolution that will change the way you live." Three of TV Guide's best—Neil Hickey, Richard K. Doan and David Lachenbruch—have talked with experts to find out more about this Communications Revolution: what it entails, and how it will "alter life in America." For the most part, their predictions have come true—not all of them in the decade of the '70s, and not all of them in the way that was forecast, but I think you'll agree that their view of the future is at least as good as that of, say, Gene Roddenberry.

Your Home Wired for Sight, Sound. This will come primarily from cable TV, which will still be in its infancy during the '70s, but will eventually provide most American homes with 50 or 75 channels, providing not only minority-interest programming, but "handing the family's varied needs via special hook-ups with stores, ban, airlines and post offices; plugging into college-credit courses for home study; reading the day's newspapers off the face of the tube and receiving automatic print-out copies of pages one wishes to preserve; tapping the almost infinite resources of computer-fed storage banks for data on every imaginable subject." In other words, the internet.

The World Will Become a Village. Satellites will unite the world's communications systems, and I don't think anyone would disagree that this has come true; predictably, however, TV Guide's experts saw this as providing more than entertainment, thinking of the potential for world leaders to hold joint summits on vital issues with the world's viewers tuning in. However, notes Comsat's Dan Karasik, "By the end of the 1970s, I can't think of an event of any importance that won't be on television world-wide." True dat.

Add ERV, SV to Your Stock of Initials. What does this mean? For ERV and SV, substitute DVR. Check another one off the list of correct predictions. One expert predicted that eventually, "TV cartridges may be sold as paperback books or phonograph records are sold today." They also think the TV will be used to transmit things called "facsimiles," which are already widespread in business. I think this might be one area in which technology moved even faster; I had a fax machine at home, but by the time it became practical for everyone, email attachments might already have taken their place.

Programming? A Mystery. Prime time movies might be cutback due to a shortage of Hollywood features that can be shown on TV (because of their sex and language content). Because of the cyclical nature of programming trends, formats that are currently on the outs, such as crime shows, Westerns, and action-adventure dramas, will likely come back. Well, got 'em al; except the horse operas. Here's one that's flat-out wrong, although we couldn't have known it at the time: NBC's program head Mort Werner says TV will never reach the levels of violence it had before, say, RFK's assassination; and that the networks will never adopt the BBC formula of series running for limited lengths of, say, 12 weeks. And here's one that's right, but for the wrong reason: TV viewing will decline sharply—they say it will be due to bland programming, but they couldn't possibly have known about social media.

The News: Space May Be The Story. Not outer space, but the amount of space devoted to news on the networks. Most experts see news expanding, but nobody predicts all-news cable stations. And actually there is a lot of talk about the space program and how it will be covered; live pictures of Mars and Venus will come from unmanned vehicles, and activities on space stations will be covered heavily. It's true that we'll be fascinated by the pictures coming from Mars and beyond, but they're wrong that manned space exploration "seems secure, at least through Apollo 20, by which time the astronauts will be staying on the moon for days at a stretch, and chugging over the lunar surface in vehicles." Yes, but if you can't remember Apollo 20, you're not alone...

Public TV 's Future Hinges on Funds. Duh. Although John Macy, head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, thinks it would be swell to have Senate and House sessions opened to TV cameras. They have been, but again, nobody had expected C-SPAN.

We Must Move Information, Not People, Things. Very true. You don't need a library when you can call up books online, for example. This idea of bringing information to the people, rather than the other way around, will help alleviate traffic, overcrowding, and pollution. Even more important is the ability of individuals "to choose for themselves what they will know and with whom they will communicate." That's perhaps the truest statement of them all.

All in all, I'd say the future envisioned in this article has more or less come to pass. Now, as to whether or not it's a good thing, I'll leave that up to you.

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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..

Sullivan: Ed's scheduled guests are the Temptations, Oliver, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, New York City Ballet dancer Jacques d'Amboise, and comedians Scoey Mitchell and Rodney Dangerfield.

Palace: Host Bing Crosby presents Met soprano Mary Costa, Sergio Franchi, the Establishment, singer-dander Leland Palmer, comics Patchett and Tarses, pantomimist MacRonay, and the Kuban Cossicks, folk dancers.

We're in the waning days of this type of big-name variety show; The Hollywood Palace will air its final episode next month (its upcoming cancellation is noted in this week's Teletype), and Ed Sullivan will be off the air by the summer of 1971. From now on, the type of variety show we see will fall back on the comfortable template popularized by stars from Garry Moore to Carol Burnett, Dean Martin, and Glen Campbell: a recurring cast, one or two guest stars, and a mix of musical acts and comedy sketches. Programs like Sullivan and The Palace, with their roots in vaudeville and musical comedy revue, will be a thing of the past, And there's nothing wrong with that; it's getting harder and harder to find a lineup of guests that can appeal to the increasingly diverse viewing audience, to both the rock 'n' roll generation and their parents.

Palace gets off to a strong start, with strong-voiced singers Costa and Franchi, but even with Der Bingle as host, the lineup tails off. Ed doesn't have the strongest lineup himself, but it's consistent, and it runs the gamut from Roy and Dale to Dangerfield to Oliver.  The verdict: comfortably Sullivan.

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.Throughout the 60s and early 70s, TV Guide's weekly 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. 

I've always thought that My World—And Welcome to It, the William Windom sitcom based on the writings of humorist James Thurber, was a show ahead of its time; people didn't really know what to make of its combination of live action and animation. Now we come to Cleveland Amory, a man who complains often in his reviews about the lack of creativity and imagination on the nation's television screens. Perhaps now we'll be able to determine the truth about My World: misunderstood genius, or pretentious gobbledygook?

The problem, according to Amory—and here, in my use of the word problem, we should have a tipoff to Amory's verdict—is that the witty, light satire of Thurber is a poor match for the heavy-handed unsubtlety of television, with its temptation to take any good idea and do it to death. And indeed, the slapstick humor prevalent in My World not only kills Thurber, "it also kills the whole point of the show." Cleve cites an episode in which John Monroe (Windom), the show's Thurberesque hero, is stuck helping his daughter with her homework. We wind up, says Amory, with "one of themost sophomoric, overdone, tasteless sketches we have ever seen—of a drunken Grant and an idiotic Lee at Appomattox*—and went on from there with an almost equally overdone and unfunny scene when the artist Walter-Mittys up a sexy school teacher."

*Makes you wonder what Amory would have made of The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer, doesn't it? Actually, I think I already know the answer to that.

This is the kind of thing that plagues every episode of My World that Amory has seen, and that's a shame, for this show has such promise. Did things improve, later on? Did the show begin to find its rhythm, to figure out how to handle Thurber? Hard to say; I don't know that Amory ever voiced any other opinions on it, and My World disappeared after the one season. But for Cleve, it's a downer, because television needs a program whose hero is a grumpy misfit, and unless the show improves, "a fine cast will have labored in vain."

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This issue seems to be about endings and beginnings, and nowhere is this more apparent than on Sunday, when we see the last NFL Championship game of its kind, and the last AFL Championship game ever.

At 11:00 a.m. MT on CBS, the Cleveland Browns take on the Minnesota Vikings in Bloomington, Minnesota for the NFL championship. That's not quite the prize it used to be though, not since the advent of the Super Bowl; as the Baltimore Colts found out last year, the NFL title doesn't mean a thing if you lose the Big One. Next season the two leagues will be the first under the NFL-AFL merger, and this game will become the National Football Conference championship. By any name, the Vikings dominate, earning their first Super Bowl birth with a 27-7 victory.

It's not quite the same thing in Oakland at 2:00 p.m. on NBC, where the Raiders will be hosting their archrivals, the Kansas City Chiefs, in the tenth and final AFL championship game. There's always been a keen sense of identity in the underdog AFL, and the Raiders and Chiefs are two of the original eight teams that started out challenging the establishment ten years ago. Even though the Super Bowl is the big game, there's a great deal of pride and honor in being the last AFL champion, and it seems right that it should come down to these two bitter rivals. In a hard-fought battle, the Chiefs—after having lost to the Raiders twice in the regular season—come out on top, 17-7. 

This special commemorative electric football game
honors the final NFL-AFL Super Bowl
Kansas City will beat Minnesota in that Super Bowl, 23-7. For the Vikings, it is the first of four Super Bowl appearances in a span of eight years, all of them losses; it's symmetry that the Chiefs, having lost to Green Bay in the first Super Bowl, now bookend it with a win in the last NFL-AFL showdown. For the Super Bowl, the merger is the beginning of an evolution into not just the biggest sporting event of the year, but a cultural institution—one to which neither the Chiefs nor the Vikings, after that dominant stretch, have returned since.

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Endings and beginnings. Rosemary Prinz, who for twelve years starred as Penny Hughes in the CBS soap As the World Turns, makes her return to daytime television as the star of Agnes Nixon's new serial, All My Children, which makes its debut Monday on ABC. The event is heavily hyped in this issue, with ads appearing daily in the listings. Although Prinz only remains with the show for six months (by design), All My Children remains a staple of ABC's daytime schedule until 2011.

Let's see, what else is there? Well, Bob Newhart hosts A Last Laugh at the 60's at 8:00 p.m. Thursday on ABC. It's a look back at the decade in comedy, including a roundtable discussion with Newhart welcomeing Don Adams, Richard Benjamin, Godfrey Cambridge, Buck Henry, and George Schlatter. There are also performances by some of the decade's biggest names, including Carol Burnett, John Byner, Mike Nichols and Elaine May, and Tiny Tim, as well as an appearance by the late Lenny Bruce's daughter, Kitty.

On Friday, CBS enters the made-for-TV movie arena with a story that requires going back to the beginning in order to find out the ending. It's Sole Survivor (7:00 p.m.), based on the 1958 discovery in the Libyan desert of the U.S. bomber "Lady Be Good," which had disappeared in 1943. Vince Edwards and William Shatner are the present-day investigators looking into what caused the crash, and Richard Basehart is the sole survivor, a general with secrets of his own. The Twilight Zone presented its own version of the "Lady Be Good" story in 1960, in "King Nine Will Not Return." You can find out how it all ends by checking Sole Survivor out on YouTube.

Wednesday NBC goes into the past and stays there, as Milburn Stone (Doc in Gunsmoke) hosts the latest Project 20, "The West of Charles Russell." (9:00 p.m.) Russell was one of the greatest Western artists, a friend not only of Will Rogers, but Fred Stone, Milburn Stone's uncle. At left is one of Russell's most famous paintings, "Lewis and Clark Meeting the Flathead Indians," which hangs in the Montana state capitol in Billings. Seeing as how this week's issue is from Montana, I thought including this would be appropriate. Before that, at 8:00 p.m., Alan King hosts the year's first Kraft Music Hall, with guests Michele Lee, Paul Lynde, and David Frye.

Judith Crist gives a rare rave to ABC's Sunday movie presentation of The Naked Prey (7:00 p.m.), produced, directed, and starring Cornell Wilde as a white hunter himself being hunted by African tribesmen. Crist calls it "an extraordinarily exciting chase movie" and "a stunning survival story" that's not for the squeamish.

Finally, the end is coming for The Huntley-Brinkley Report later this year, with the rumored retirement of Chet Huntley. What does NBC have in mind for the beginning of the new era? Well, if Richard K. Doan is to be believed, the favorite to join up with David Brinkley just might be Joe McGinniss, author of The Selling of the President 1968. Frank McGee and John Chancellor are among those on the short list, according to an NBC insider, but "the fact that McGinniss's name is the only new one on the list of replacement candidates seemed to suggest McGinniss might have an inside track." He doesn't have any newscasting experience, but he's become "quite experienced before talk-show cameras, where he has been plugging his book." Now, I've read McGinniss's book, I've read about the reaction to McGinniss's book, I've read about Chet Huntley. I've never, however, read anything to suggest that McGinniss was ever a contender to take over from Huntley, so a note like this is of real interest to me, if only for the curiosity value. As it happens, there was no direct successor to Huntley, per se; NBC first tried a rotating anchor chair with Brinkley, McGee and Chancellor, but after a few months settled on Chancellor as the sole anchor, with McGee taking over The Today Show, and Brinkley offering commentary. Brinkley would return to the anchor chair with Chancellor for three years in the late '70s, and in 1982 Tom Brokaw would take over. I guess this proves that network news can't be anchored by just any old Joe... TV