A Really Missed Shew
August 7, 2007 3:55 PM
The greatest thing about “The Ed Sullivan Show," a Sunday night staple on CBS for 23 years, was that it was a common cultural reference point for just about everybody in the U.S., no matter how old they were or where they lived in the country.
Broadcast live from New York at 8 p.m. ET (when the kids were still up), it introduced the latest—in musical acts, comedians, Broadway musical numbers, trying acrobatic acts, what have you—and back in the days when there were just the Big Three networks, exposure on the Sullivan show packed some wallop. From 1948 to 1971, careers were made overnight, when up-and-comers suddenly became household words. Its effect was not unlike that of “American Idol’s” today, but with more frequency, a more varied lineup of professional talent and a lot more class.
When the Beatles made their historic debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” the next day grammar school kids and grandmas alike knew who they were. In fact, everybody around the water cooler knew the latest personalities to arrive on the scene any given Monday morning because they all had seen them on Sullivan.
Viewers could easily stay abreast of the American entertainment scene by tuning in regularly.
In the current fractionalized, über-multichannel/user-generated entertainment scene, fewer and fewer people are on the same page when it comes to new acts, particularly among the different generations. An “Ed Sullivan”-type variety show could perform a real service today if presented with a fresh approach—and with properly chosen acts—don’t you agree?