Jun 23, 2009
The passing of Ed McMahon has cast a pall over TV land, as one of the medium's true icons has moved on.
McMahon was part of a generation of TV performers prized for their versatility and work ethic. It didn't matter whether he was playing second fiddle to Johnny (or Jerry), or the center of attention on "Star Search": McMahon brought class to whatever show he was on.
Here's McMahon reflecting on his proudest career accomplishment, courtesy of the Archives of American Television. Check out EmmyTVLegends.org for more interviews with McMahon.
May 11, 2009
Would you believe NBC is preparing to air a two-hour special counting down the 50 funniest catch phrases in TV history?
You bet your sweet bippy it is. The network today announced plans to air a Paley Center for Media special devoted to "Best Catch Phrases" on Tuesday, May 26, at 8 p.m.
The clipfest will feature a slew of funny faces, both dead and alive, including Jeremy Piven, Dana Carvey, Neil Patrick Harris, Jean Stapleton, Ron Howard, Andy Griffith, Jackie Gleason, Regis Philbin, Bob Newhart, Penny Marshall, Polly Holliday and Redd Foxx. It will mix archival footage with original interviews.
Apr 28, 2009
I had never heard of Ernie Barnes until today. A former football star turned artist, Barnes died Monday night at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to wire service reports.
While Barnes was unfamiliar to me, one of his creations is instantly recognizable to fans of classic TV. It turns out Barnes painted “Sugar Shack,” a scene of African-American dancing and liberation that appeared in the closing credits for Norman Lear’s series “Good Times.”
Today, most opening credits sequences have been shrunk to a few seconds, and they usually consist of video montages. And closing credits sequences? They’re largely extinct, replaced by network promotions.
The Lear era of sitcoms, however, was marked by truly memorable themes and credit sequences, “Good Times” being one of his best.
You can see the “Sugar Shack” scene here.
I can’t find the “Good Times” credits with Barnes’ painting online. But here’s one version notable for something else: Note who plays “The Young Man.”
Apr 26, 2009
Bea Arthur's passing was one of the most talked about topics on Twitter over the weekend.
Think about that for a minute.
Arthur was an 86-year-old woman who hadn't been part of the primetime landscape since the early 1990s. She wasn't a pioneer of the medium like Lucille Ball, or a movie legend.
And yet, the Twiterrati-- many of whom were still in Pampers the last time Arthur was a TV regular-- seemed deeply bummed by news of her death. It wasn't quite Kurt Cobain/Selena/Heath Ledger- level shock, but there was a definite vibe that an icon had left us.
I'm not an expert on "Maude" or "The Golden Girls," so I won't try to summon up any memories of favorite lines or episodes. (Cynthia Littleton does a good job of that here, as does James Poniewozik here).
But I do think there are a few lessons to be drawn from the pretty incredible career of Beatrice Arthur.
Apr 22, 2009
As the first entry in MoJoe TV indicates, I’m a pretty obsessive fan of classic TV marketing. When YouTube launched, I spent hours and hours watching old network image campaigns—from “Still the One” (ABC) to “Let’s All Be There” (NBC). I get really, really excited over small things such as the original version of HBO’s old Saturday “starship” movie open.
Other Web sites like to collect TV themes. I love theme songs, don’t get me wrong. But they’re about as common (and widely available) as rats in a New York City apartment house.
But the TV Production Music Museum houses much rarer gems.