Easter Sunday Special Is Gary Smith’s Passion Play

Apr 14, 2003  •  Post A Comment

For most producers, the process of bringing together thousands of clips, photos, celebrity interviews and bits of memorabilia for a TV special is a difficult and consuming job. For Emmy-winning producer Gary Smith, his latest project, 100 Years of Hope and Humor, is a personal passion.
“I’m a romantic soul. I also love history,” Mr. Smith said during a break from editing, which will be ongoing almost until airtime Sunday on NBC. “To actually be the person that [Bob Hope] chose to do his final tribute, the definitive collection, makes me very proud.”
Mr. Smith has done hundreds of specials, variety shows and tributes, including the Emmys, Tonys, Kennedy Center Honors and the American Film Institute series that sums up 100 years of movies. He worked on shows with Mr. Hope about half a dozen times over the years. But this one is different. “It sounds corny,” the producer said, “but I know that in this case I am working on something special. His comedy provides a time line for the history of our country.”
The war with Iraq has reawakened America’s patriotism, and that will be part of the story, Mr. Smith said, but there is much more. The special will be hosted by Jane Pauley with emphasis on Bob Hope’s TV career, USO tours, friendship with U.S. presidents, record 17 appearances as host of the Oscars, celebrity friends and influence on sports, especially golf.
Mr. Hope will not appear but will be represented by clips from more than 60 years of his career and through dozens of interviews, including Phyllis Diller, Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Drew Carey, Kelsey Grammer, Jay Leno, Ray Romano, Oprah Winfrey, Barbara Walters and Tiger Woods.
“There is nobody like Bob Hope,” Mr. Smith said. “He is an American icon. You can say in one breath hot dogs, baseball, the Statue of Liberty, the American flag and Bob Hope. What other entertainer would you ever put on that list?”