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New Spring ‘23 Programming Lineup

April 21, 2023 By Chris Michael Leave a Comment

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on ATVN with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

  

With the return of the warmer weather, it’s time to announce a few of the new and returning additions to the Astound TV Network’s programming lineup – premiering April 30!

Our new lineup features the return of several popular classic shows, but first, we’re proud to announce a couple new additions to ATVN!

  • Hudson’s Bay
    This popular show stars Barry Nelson and George Tobias. It’s a member of the popular western genre that emerged in the 1950s dealing with stories connected to the Hudson’s Bay Company and its fur trade shortly after North America was colonized. Trappers, explorers, Native Americans, French and British alike all traveled the territory seeking their fortunes and finding fame and adventure. Hudson’s Bay will launch next Sunday morning at 9:30pm and air each week on Sundays and Friday at 9:30am.
  • Flash Gordon
    This serial is widely regarded as the best of the TV versions of this popular superhero genre, which was released in 1954. Here is the program’s description:  space hero Flash Gordon and his crew of the Galaxy Bureau of Investigation patrol space, battling space monsters, power-mad alien dictators and other threats to the stability of the universe. Flash Gordon will air on the ATVN schedule on Tuesdays at 11pm and Fridays at 9pm.

Among the most popular shows returning to the Astound TV Network lineup include:

  • Bonanza
    The Wild West adventures of Ben Cartwright and his sons as they run and defend their Nevada ranch while helping the surrounding community. Bonanza airs Sunday and Friday mornings kicking off our programming day at 9am.
  • I Married Joan
    This American situation comedy initially ran on NBC from 1952-1955.  It starred Joan Davis and Jim Backus (who later played Thurston Howell III on Gilligan’s Island and was the voice of Mr. Magoo) and featured the adventures of a scatterbrained wife and her husband, a mild-mannered community judge.  I Married Joan airs each Wednesday at 12pm on the Astound TV Network.
  • Dragnet
    This long running, real-life detective show follows the exploits of dedicated Los Angeles Police Department Detective Joe Friday and his partners, created by actor and producer Jack Webb.  While names were changed to protect the innocent, the stories are based on real police files. Dragnet airs on Wednesdays at 10am on ATVN.

Other popular shows returning to the Astound TV Network include: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Tate, Hawkeye and the Last of the Mohicians, Adventures of Champions and The Buccaneers.

Be sure to check out all the other new shows to the Astound TV Network when our weekly schedule comes out next week

And be sure to bookmark the complete rundown of classic programming on ATVN here.

 

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Astound Broadband or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Spring ‘23 Trivia Edition

April 14, 2023 By Chris Michael Leave a Comment

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows, key names in the “Golden Age” of entertainment history and legendary cinematic performances.

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I hope all our readers are enjoying the nicer weather recently after this past winter season. We also hope that everyone has been enjoying reading background insights and little-known information about our classic programs, specials and movies on the Astound TV Network over the last several months.

Now it’s time to test your knowledge by taking the bi-annual Classic Video Showplace “Spring 2023” edition of our quiz.

See how you do answering the following questions and then check out the answers listed below.

Have fun!

  1. Boxer-turned-actor Coley Wallace portrayed what legendary heavyweight fighter, who held the championship title longer than any other boxer in history?
  2. Who is regarded as being the first African American television show host in history?
  3. Who was regarded as the most popular comedic actress in films in the 1930s, only to have her life tragically cut short in a plane crash during World War II?
  4. Jack Palance held the record for longest “drought” between winning Academy Awards for 39 years before that “honor” was broken by what actor in 2006?
  5. Speaking of Palance, what was the nickname of his Oscar winning role in “City Slickers?”
  6. What controversial, yet legendary, performer won the 1945 Academy Award for best actress for her portrayal as a divorced mother in the title role of “Mildred Pierce?”
  7. What actress starred in “Whatever Happened To Baby Jane” who was later immortalized in a song written by Kim Carnes?
  8. What unlikely “horror comedy” film acted as a springboard to launch the long cinematic career of Ava Gardner?

 

 

 

Answers:

  1. Joe Lewis
  2. Ethel Waters
  3. Carole Lombard
  4. Alan Arkin
  5. Curly
  6. Joan Crawford
  7. Bette Davis
  8. “Ghost on the Loose”

You can see many of the above mentioned classic films and television shows on our current programming lineup here on ATVN. To see the full listing of classic programming on the Astound TV Network, check out the weekly listings here on our website.

Don’t forget to keep checking back to the Showplace for more classic trivia and little-known bits of information about some of the greatest shows and movies of all time.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Astound Broadband or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Rose Marie (Part 2)

March 23, 2023 By Chris Michael Leave a Comment

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on ATVN with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

 

In honor of Women’s History Month, the Showplace is featuring prominent female-driven classic programs and women who “changed the game” and made a lasting impact in the Golden Age of Hollywood.

  

As we featured last week here at “The Showplace,” Rose Marie’s career started while performing on a vaudeville stage at three years of age and then made her national radio debut singing less than a year later.

For several decades she had successes in various mediums and entertainment venues.  In 1960, she thought she realized her biggest accomplishment when TV creator/writer Carl Reiner asked her to star in a television sit-com show, later to be titled, The Dick Van Dyke Show.  However, after the first several episodes Marie quickly learned that her on-screen character would not be the featured role she was promised and, instead, would be a more supportive role to a relative newcomer to television, Mary Tyler Moore.

On the channel “TV Land’s” website which features a number of “legend” interviews, Reiner recalls a conversation in which he told Marie that the audiences “wanted to see Mary Tyler Moore’s legs and not [Rose’s] legs” as to the reasoning why the change in the direction of the show.

Though she felt betrayed and considered quitting the program, Rogers reasoned that she was still serving as a landmark character, portraying a woman working in a traditionally male-dominated profession.  Marie decided to continue working on the show to serve as a societal gamechanger and to provide a role model for women to look up to on television.

Following that show’s five-year run, Marie quickly found more work as another formidable on-screen female presence on The Doris Day Show, which ran for another five seasons.  Rose also became a regular (and frequently earned the honor of being a “center square”) on the wildly popular Hollywood Squares game show, hosted by Peter Marshall for 14 years.  She also continued performing and singing for several years back in Las Vegas while also touring around the world with Rosemary Clooney and others.

Rose continued to make guest-starring appearances on popular TV shows throughout the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, including S.W.A.T., Adam-12, Kojak, Remington Steele, Wings, Suddenly Susan, The Hughleys, The Tracey Ullman Show, The Love Boat and Caroline In The City as well as guest starring in the Cagney and Lacey reunion show.

Her voice talents were used again later in her career, portraying the “voice” of the infamous (and still deceased) Norma Bates (Norman’s mother) on Gus Van Sant’s version of Psycho and also as a regular on the cartoon series Garfield from 2008-2013.  She also appeared with a number of her Dick Van Dyke castmates in various television roles, including The Alan Brady Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show: Revisited.

It was also on the Dick Van Dyke: Reunion show in 2004 in which she revealed she had been approached by many women who said her “Sally Rogers” character inspired them to work in many male-dominated fields or to go into jobs in which hiring a woman was “unthinkable.”

You can see Rose Marie in her classic role of “Sally Rogers” in episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show, which is part of a regular rotation of classic television shows on ATVN’s Classic TV Showcase, seen every Tuesday at 9am on the Astound TV Network.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on ATVN, check out the weekly listings here.

 

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Astound Broadband or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Rose Marie

March 15, 2023 By Chris Michael Leave a Comment

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on ATVN with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

 

In honor of Women’s History Month, the Showplace is featuring prominent female-driven classic programs and women who “changed the game”, making a lasting impact in the Golden Age of Hollywood.

  

Rose Marie’s contributions to the entertainment industry might be as far reaching as any woman:

  • She began performing on a vaudeville stage at the age of THREE!
  • At the age of FOUR, she was performing regularly on a popular NBC radio show.
  • She was a child actor in the silent film era of movies.
  • She was one of the youngest singers to record a publicly sold song – at age 5!
  • According to her quote in The Hollywood Reporter, she was the first on-camera woman to go “toe-to-toe in a man’s world.”
  • She portrayed several strong-willed, successful working female characters as both a regular and a guest star on multiple television shows in the late-1950s and throughout 1960s.
  • Her work in the industry spanned NINE DECADES!

She was born Rose Marie Mazzetta on August 15, 1926 in New York City to Polish-American Stella Gluszcak and Italian-American vaudeville performer Frank Mazzetta.

Her mom would regularly take her to vaudeville shows as a baby and she soon began singing for her neighbors, who eventually had her enrolled in a talent show just after her third birthday.  Adopting the stage name of “Baby Rose Marie,” her performances on the stage quickly attracted an NBC Radio Network executive, who signed her to a seven-year contract.

Because her improbably strong, bass-sounding voice sounded more like a 30-year old than a little girl, NBC quickly booked her on a national tour.  People could see for themselves this incredibly talented five-year old performing live.

Rose also started in silent films as a child actor, but got more popular with “talking” pictures, starring as herself and showing off her vocal chords, in addition to some acting performances.

As her career continued into adulthood, she would frequently perform in nightclubs and lounges–many of which were owned by mobsters.  Rumors of close relationships with Al Capone and Bugsy Siegel began circulating, with Marie a featured performer at Siegel’s popular Flamingo Hotel and Lounge in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In 1960, Carl Reiner was desperately trying to retool a failed television pilot called “Head of the Family” to sell to a network and was looking to add some star-power to bolster its appeal.  Executive Producer Sheldon Leonard felt they needed to add a strong-willed character for the role of “Sally Rogers” to the show that eventually would be titled The Dick Van Dyke ShowAccording to The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book,” Leonard claimed Marie was the only one who could play that character.  (The book also gives credit to Rose for suggesting Morey Amsterdam for the role of Buddy Sorrell, whom she had known since she was 11 years old).

According to her online interviews, Marie claims that she was enticed to the role because of a promise that the show would be “co-centered” around her.  Furthermore, she was intrigued by the pitch of her character being a strong woman having success in a man’s world.  The role mirrored the real-life persona of comedy writing legend Selma Diamond, the lone female writer on the popular TV show, Your Show Of Shows (Diamond would become more well known to audiences as the first, wise-crackling bailiff on Night Court before her death).

Once the “Van Dyke” show was launched, the on-screen chemistry between the fictional husband-wife combination of Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore garnished more on-screen time, which meant less time for Rogers.  Marie quickly went to show the show’s original creator to complain about being misled about the premise of the show co-centering around her character, along with the slowly decreasing number of lines that were being scripted for her each week.

After having great success throughout her career, this was the first time she was “passed over” for someone younger than her.  She had reached a crossroads in her career and seriously contemplated leaving the “Van Dyke” show after the first season.

We’ll have more on her decision and her road ahead next week here at “The Showplace.”

In the meantime, you can see Rose Marie as “Sally Rogers” on The Dick Van Dyke Show, as part of a steady rotation of classic television shows on ATVN’s Classic TV ShowcaseTune in or set your DVRs for it each week at 9 am on Tuesdays mornings on the Astound TV Network.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on ATVN, check out the weekly listings here.

 

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Astound Broadband or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Joan Crawford

March 2, 2023 By Chris Michael Leave a Comment

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on ATVN with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

 

In honor of Women’s History Month, the Showplace is featuring prominent female-driven classic programs and women who “changed the game”, making a lasting impact in the Golden Age of Hollywood.

While her personal life and parenting skills have been a subject of controversy for decades, there’s no denying that Joan Crawford was one of the most dynamic and versatile actresses for nearly 50 years.

Initially a dancer on Broadway, Crawford signed a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for $75 a week in 1924.  Credited as Lucille LeSueur, her first film was Lady of the Night as a body double for Norma Shearer, MGM’s most popular female star at that time.

After appearing in several more silent films (sometimes in “unbilled roles”), MGM ran a “name the star” contest for her, as the studio’s publicist said her name sounded like “sewer.”  The initial “winning name” was Jane Arden, but she later changed her last name to Crawford.

Upset with small roles she felt were beneath her and not getting any assistance from the studio, she began taking dance lessons in the afternoon and competing (and winning) dance events around Hollywood and at venues on the beach piers.  Her strategy worked and MGM cast her in the film where she first made an impression on audiences, Edmund Goulding’s Sally, Irene and Mary.

MGM became the last production company to embrace “talkies,” but its first foray into sound pictures was The Hollywood Revue of 1929.  Crawford was among a dozen of the studio’s stars to showcase their abilities utilizing the new innovation.

She was “loaned” to United Artist to play a prostitute in the film, Rain, which was a film version of the popular 1923 John Colton play.  Shortly after the time of that film’s release, Crawford was voted the third most popular actress at the box office.

As the 1930s went on she continued to build her star power, eventually outshining her longtime nemesis and the person she originally “body doubled” for, Norma Shearer. The decade culminated with a role in the all-female cast of The Women, gaining her praise from critics and audiences alike. Her success continued with a performance as a facially disfigured criminal in the melodrama A Woman’s Face, which garnered her even more critical acclaim. 

In 1945, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of the hard-working, divorced, protective mother in the title role of Mildred Pierce. Crawford also received two Best Actress Award nominations as recognition for her work in Possessed (1947) and Sudden Fear (1952).  In 1954, she starred in the Western Johnny Guitar, although unsuccessful during its original release, the cult film has found new life with younger audiences.  In 1962, she starred alongside another long-time rival Bette Davis in the horror film Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, which once again returned her to critical acclaim and box office success.

She continued to act in movies and added television appearances throughout the 1960 but slowly started to recede from the limelight early in 1970s and eventually declined all interviews and refused to be photographed all together.

Joan died of a heart attack on May 6, 1977, leaving behind four children–only two of whom were left anything in her will.

Several less than flattering “tell-all” books (including one from her disinherited daughter, Christina, that was turned into a movie) have come out since her passing detailing some troubling stories about her personal life.  Many of her on-screen colleagues have come out to defend her reputation as an abusive mother which tarnished her overall image. But her contributions on the big screen have not diminished.

In 1999, 12 years after her death, she was ranked 10th on the American Film Institute’s list of the greatest female stars of Hollywood’s Classic Cinema Era when AFI began ranking their “greatest ever…” listings prior to the millennium.

You can see Joan Crawford star in the 1932 motion-picture, Rain, in the “ATVN Movie Vault” on ATVN.  To view the complete rundown of classic programming on ATVN, check out the weekly listings here.

 

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Astound Broadband or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

The Joe Louis Story

February 10, 2023 By Chris Michael Leave a Comment

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on ATVN with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

 

As part of the Astound TV Network’s celebration of Black History Month, here at the “Showplace” we are putting the spotlight on African American actors who excelled not just on the big and small screens but those who also inspired change with their courage and perseverance.

 

The Joe Louis Story is another great treasure in cinematic history.  It is not only an entertaining presentation of one of boxing’s most legendary figures but it also presents a cold, yet realistic view of the racism and discrimination that existed in the mid-20th century.

Louis would hold the honor of world heavyweight champion for 12 years, longer than any other boxer in history.

The 1953 biopic chronicles the life and challenges of Joe Louis.  As a teenager, Joe started hearing about the sport of boxing from his childhood friend, Jimmy, who persuaded him to train with a local manager.

An early dramatic scene in the film occurs when Joe’s mother discovers that her son has been boxing behind her back and without her permission.  Hilda Simms delivers a powerful message inspiring Joe to follow his dreams, regardless of the adversity and to use all his mind and strength to go after whatever he truly thinks is important to him.

In addition to relentless challenges of discrimination towards Louis exhibited in the film, his story recounts the brutal fighting schedule that he was put through, fighting as many as five professional fights within a four-week span.  A recurring theme throughout the film is dealing with the “two strikes” many African-Americans face in society.

A large portion of the film–and a key moment in Louis’ life–focus on his fight and the resulting fallout from his fight with Max Schmeling, who had direct ties to Adolf Hilter in the years leading up to World War II.

The movie also makes you feel like you are reliving the boxing matches with Louis in the ring.  The film incorporates real-life archival footage using the real boxers, juxtaposed with long, uncut takes of the boxing scenes, without enhanced sound effects or announcers’ voice-overs, highlighting more realistic views of watching a prize fight in person.

The beginning of the film begins uniquely with clips of boxing fans seen waiting for a fight to begin, only to cut to a scene in a newspaper room where two reporters are discussing a huge fight from earlier in the evening.  While the reporter who witnessed the fight wants to write the recap of the fight, the senior reporter intercedes and announces that he’s going to tell the “real story” of Joe Louis, as the opening credits quickly follow.

Paul Stewart was cast as the senior reporter who narrates the review of Joe’s “true” story. (Film buffs will recognize Stewart’s voice as he ushered the immortal lines, “Rosebud…I’ll tell you about, Rosebud” in Citizen Kane.)

Coley Wallace–who portrays Louis–was a former boxer himself and even defeated heavyweight prize fighter “Rocky” Marciano in a split decision before the former became an actor.  Ironically, Louis faced Marciano at the end of his career – that fight served as the movie’s climax.

Many famous names make appearances as themselves throughout the film, including boxer Shorty Linton, legendary jazz pianist Ellis Larkin and vocalist Anita Ellis, who was the real voice behind the great singing in the classic film, Gilda, and not Rita Hayworth, as was originally believed.

The film also stars James Johnson Edwards who portrays Louis’s confidante and manager, Jack “Chappie” Blackburn.  Edwards received acclaim for his role as Private Peter Moss, a black soldier in the 1949 film, Home of the Brave, in which his character experiences racial prejudices while fighting in the Pacific during WWII.

Robert Gordon, who directed the film, is also known to cinema fans as he portrayed a 13-year old Jackie Rabinowitz, the lead character in 1927’s The Jazz Singer – the first ever “talking” motion picture.

Be on the lookout for The Joe Louis Story, shown in a special presentation of the “ATVN Movie Vault Extra,” airing on the Astound TV Network.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on ATVN, check out the weekly listings here.

 

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Astound Broadband or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Ethel Waters

February 3, 2023 By Chris Michael Leave a Comment

 For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

 Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on ATVN with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

As part of the Astound TV Network’s celebration of Black History Month, here at the “Showplace” we are putting the spotlight on African American actors who excelled not just on the big and small screens but those who also inspired change with their courage and perseverance.

 

A proper examination of film and television history would not be complete without recognizing the efforts of Ethel Waters.

Born on October 31st, 1896, Ethel was abandoned by her mother and was raised in poverty by her grandmother in Chester, Pennsylvania.  She married at the age of 13 but her husband was abusive and so she left him to work as a maid in Philadelphia.

At the age of 17 she was invited to a costume party and was asked to sing two songs.  Her performance was so impressive that she soon received an offer to perform at the Lincoln Theater in Baltimore, followed by working on the vaudeville circuit and eventually became a major performer during the Harlem Renaissance in the early-1920s.

Even though there were many well-known female African-American singers during the Jazz Age, Waters was one of the first to record her songs on a record.

In 1920 she helped integrate the Broadway Theater District by becoming the first black woman to lead a stage production in “The Emperor Jones.”  She soon became the highest paid actress on Broadway…yet would struggle to find work in the cinema for several years.

In 1921, she became the highest paid African-American female singer in the world and, by 1928, was the nations’ highest paid female singer while performing on the Keith Vaudeville Circuit, earning a then-record salary of $1,250.  Even so, her compensation paled in comparison to many of her male counterparts in the entertainment industry.

Eventually, film offers would come to Waters.  Among her early cinematic performances includes Rufus Jones for President, which would feature a then-unknown child actor by the name of Sammy Davis, Jr.

Throughout the next two decades, she recorded many hit songs while continuing to perform on the stage and in movies…but she was not finished being a social pioneer.

Waters broke glass ceilings on television–TWICE!

She was the first African American–male or female–to star in her own variety show, “The Ethel Waters Show.”  This program pre-dated the show hosted by Nat King Cole, who many people often miscredit as the first black star of his own show.  

Waters also starred as the titular character, Beulah, on ABC from 1950 through 1952.  Waters would later quit her own show, calling the shameful stereotypes and poor depictions of black performers “degrading.”  Despite being a frequent guest star on many popular television shows throughout the 1950s and 60s, she would never pilot her own program again.

According to her biography, “I Touched A Sparrow,” Waters devoted the rest of her life to Christianity after attending a Billy Graham revival in 1957.  She toured with Graham off-and-on for nearly 20 years before she succumbed to cancer and kidney failure on September 1, 1977.

She was 80 years young.

While many episodes of Waters’ original shows have been lost, you can see some of Ethel’s earliest television appearances as a guest star on the Texaco Star Theater, which frequently airs on the Astound TV Network.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on ATVN, check out the weekly listings here.

 

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Astound Broadband or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Mayberry “LKF”

January 19, 2023 By Chris Michael Leave a Comment

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on ATVN with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

 

This winter, the Astound TV Network is debuting The Andy Griffith Show as part of a rotation of some of the best classic television shows of all-time on ATVN’s Classic TV Showcase.

Typically, when a show makes its first-ever appearance on our network I usually delve into my personal library of classic programs and/or do other research to find the early origins and facts about a sitcom’s very beginnings and behind-the-scenes challenges involved in just getting a show on the air.  Often, this reveals lengthy backstories of early versions of programs that sometimes vary quite a bit from what eventually becomes a successful entity.

However, I’m going to do something a little different for this week’s entry.

It’s pretty common knowledge that Griffith guest-starred on The Danny Thomas Show in a skit in which he played a hick sheriff in a fictional North Carolina town and had unconventional techniques in keeping law and order.  (In the skit, Thomas was arrested for speeding).

The response was so positive that Thomas helped create a spinoff series with Griffith in the starring role and the program was an instant success.

However, there are a number of “little known facts” (“LKFs”) about the popular program…and that’s what we will tackle in today’s blog entry.

  1. Andy was NOT the “straight man” that he turned out to be.
    When you watch early episodes of the program, you’ll notice that Andy has most of the funny lines and, in fact, seems like just one of the other somewhat strange characters in the town.  Griffith had revealed in many interviews that after the first few episodes, he felt the show would be stronger if he was the “normal” one and at the center of all the craziness and quirky Mayberry citizens that were all around him.  In turn, he slowly suggested more of the funny bits should go to his supporting characters.
  2. Don Knotts’s Barney Fife was never intended to be a regular character.
    It seems impossible to believe but Barney was only intended to be in the first episode, playing Andy’s cousin who he helps out by giving him a job.  Even after the quick developing chemistry between Griffith and Knotts was apparent after the first episode, only a single-season contract was offered to “Barney” and the original intent was to bring in different deputies throughout the show’s run. (Dick Van Dyke’s brother Jerry was offered the role to replace Knotts but turned it down.)
    Fortunately, this plan was abandoned and Knotts was offered a multi-year contract which lasted until he decided to leave after the fifth season.
  3. Elinor Donahue WAS intended to be a long-serving cast member.
    The popular actress from Father’s Knows Best was the producers’ favorite for being the long-term love interest of Andy.  For creativity sake, they wanted to establish other characters on the show first (mainly Ronny Howard’s Opie and Francis Bavier’s Aunt Bee) before introducing her into the cast.  In the fourth episode Donahue made her debut and they even put her name in the show’s opening sequence (more on that in a moment).
    Unfortunately for Donahue, the delay in bringing her aboard hurt the chemistry that quickly developed amongst the cast.  Elinor revealed in later interviews that jokes originally intended for her wouldn’t “work” as well as they did for other cast members and Griffith would suggest giving her lines to other actors.  Eventually, Donahue asked to be removed from her long-term contract and left the show.
  4. Speaking of the show’s theme song….
    Griffith actually became known for his singing before appearing on TV.  The popular instrumental theme song to his show actually had words written for Andy to sing.  Upon hearing “The Fishing Hole” with co-writer Earle Hagen whistling the melody in the background, the producers felt the non-vocal version was more appropriate to open the show.  However, Andy’s vocal rendition was added to a very popular vinyl record that was released early in the show’s run, which included “The Mayberry March,” “Sourwood Mountain,” “Aunt Bee’s Theme” and other popular songs used on the program.

There are many more “LKFs” about this show, like…

Did you know that is actually NOT Ronny Howard skipping the stone across the pond in the show’s opening sequence?

…but we’ll address that and other trivial bits in a future edition of “The Showplace.”

In the meantime, you can see The Andy Griffith Show, as part of a rotation of some of the best classic television shows of all-time on ATVN’s Classic TV Showcase, Tuesday at 12 noon on the Astound TV Network.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on ATVN, check out the weekly listings here.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Astound Broadband or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

The Dick Van Dyke Show – Origins

January 12, 2023 By Chris Michael Leave a Comment

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on ATVN with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

 

Several of its episodes ranked among the greatest comedy episodes of all-time.  In its comparatively short-run among classic television programs, it captured a whopping 15 Emmy Awards.  And it is regularly ranked among the best shows ever to come out of the 1960s.

What show are we talking about?

It’s The Dick Van Dyke Show.

The original premise for this highly successful sitcom was actually based on a failed pilot show starring television comedy writer Carl Reiner.  A key member of the writing dream-team that made up Sid Caeser’s Your Show of Shows (which also included Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Selma Diamond, Larry Gelbart and other genius scribes), Reiner created the idea for a show based on his own life.

Part-work based, part-home life…the idea of a story dealing with the hectic lifestyle of balancing a career and young family seemed perfect for an early 1960s audience.

The working title of the show was called “Head of the Family,” with Reiner’s character (then named Robbie Peetree) dealing with a zany staff of television comedy writers and then going home to deal with all the fun that comes with a newly-wed couple raising a young son.

Robbie’s wife, Laura, was played by Barbara Britton in the pilot and his son was played by Gary Morgan.  Robbie’s co-workers were portrayed by Morty Gunty and Sylvia Miles.  Robbie’s boss was played by Alan Sturdy, who, like the early years of The Dick Van Dyke Show, remained either off-screen or his face was not seen by the audience. (Ironically, Reiner took this role in the revamped format, but, after the first three years allowed HIS character to be seen on screen).

By his own admission in many interviews since that time, he said the original pilot had one major flaw:  he cast himself as the lead!

When all three networks passed on his pilot episode (which still exists today on YouTube), Reiner scrambled to rework the show, including spotting new talent for all the lead roles.

For the role of “himself,” he changed the character’s name to Rob Petrie and sought out the versatile actor/singer/dancer, Dick Van Dyke.  Many of Van Dyke’s “real life” interests spilled over into the “new” Rob Petrie character like pantomime, love of cowboys, old time radio show references, his “Stan Laurel” impressions, et al. Van Dyke’s multi-talented skills allowed Reiner to broaden the character to incorporate physical comedy, song-and-dance numbers and many other elements that the original pilot’s “Robbie” would never have attempted.

Rose Marie (“Sally Rogers”) was probably the most popular personality of all the main characters at this particular time.  She had starred in several films in the 1950s and had become a major attraction because of her hilarious Las Vegas stand-up routines.

For the “Buddy Sorrell” character, Reiner tried to liken this character to the real life, smart-mouth (as much as early-1960’s network censors would tolerate) antics of Mel Brooks.  Veteran jokeman Morey Amsterdam quickly bought into that characterization and instantly made the wise-cracking “Buddy” a likable supporting role on the program who always got quick laughs despite not always getting a ton of on-screen time.

For the role of his wife, Reiner remembered a talented young actress who Sid Caesar really liked and auditioned for his own show but passed on her because he felt the audience wouldn’t believe that he could have an on-screen daughter that was so pretty.

While Mary Tyler Moore’s political views were diametrically opposite her television husband in real life, their on-screen chemistry was magical.  Reiner quickly added more “home life” scenes to the pilot (and subsequent episodes) to build on that relationship which, Reiner correctly assumed, audiences would most closely bond with.

The revamped show did receive a ringing endorsement from CBS and was immediately added to the network’s fall schedule.  But the successes of this show’s new look were just beginning.  We’ll have more on the successes of this wildly popular show coming up in a future blog entry here at “The Showplace.”

In the meantime, you can see The Dick Van Dyke Show, as part of a rotation of some of the best classic television shows of all-time on ATVN’s Classic TV Showcase, Tuesdays at 12 noon on the Astound TV Network.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on ATVN, check out the weekly listings here.

 

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Astound Broadband or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Christmas Takeover “Tease” 2022

December 19, 2022 By Chris Michael Leave a Comment

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on ATVN with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

Tyler Brackbill is our newest employee at our ATVN studio. He has been doing a great job directing sports events, handling replay, shooting sports events, editing packages and pretty much everything that has been thrown his way.

One additional responsibility that he has also taken over this past fall is coordinating and “importing” the programming for our “Christmas Takeover” – a special marathon of holiday-only programming that runs from early Christmas Eve morning straight through until the late hours on Christmas night.

I am proud to say that this popular viewing event will be back again here in 2022.  Today, Tyler gives our website readers a “sneak peek” and inside information on his Top 10 list of special, unique holiday programs and movies that he thinks our audience will thoroughly enjoy.

  Here’s Tyler’s top takeover picks…

  1. Sidewalks”
    Back-to-back editions of this popular entertainment show regularly features mainstream celebrities, musicians and up-and-coming performers.  These particular shows will focus on how celebs will spend the holiday season.
  2. “Scrooge”
    A special version of the popular Charles’ Dickens holiday classic, “A Christmas Carol.”
  3. Larry’s Tree: Journey To The White House”
    A look at the incredible journey one large evergreen tree takes in order to become a holiday focus for the First Family of the United States of America.
  4. “The Beverly Hillbillies”
    A mini-marathon of some of the best Christmas-themed episodes of one of CBS’s most-popular and longest running situation comedies.  It stars Buddy Ebson, Irene Dunne, Max Baer and Donna Douglas as the lovable hillbillies who benefitted from their discovery of “Texas Tea.”
  5. Mad Dog and Merrill Midwest Grillin’ 
    The stars of this show are always entertaining while fixing up special, succulent items each episode.  Tune in for a mini-marathon of their holiday-based programs.
  6. Mark Millovets’ Christmas Wonderland 2022
    This popular annual show returns for a special post-COVID edition of the program!
  7. Miracle on 34th Street
    This is the 1959 made-for-television special and not the one produced by 20th Century Fox, although some prefer this version compared to the one released in 1947.  Tune in and see for yourself which you think is better.
  8. The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet
    No classic television show garnered more success and lasted longer than any other ABC network show before 1972.  The show, featuring the real-life married couple (and their two real-life children and, later, their wives), amassed an amazing collection of Christmas-themed episodes.  Tune in and see them for yourself in a marathon of this family-based sitcom.
  9. A Stetson Mansion Christmas
    A special that features this famous Florida mansion that is decorated beyond-belief with holiday cheer, amazing light displays and glorious Christmas trimmings.
  10. The Littlest Angel
    This not-to-be missed classic film from the ATVN Movie Vault is a MUST-SEE airing on ATVN at 8:30pm on Christmas night.  It features an all-star cast which includes Johnny Walker (“Family Affair”), Fred Gwynne (“My Cousin Vinny,” “Pet Semetary,” “The Munsters”), Tony Randall (“The Odd Couple,” “Mister Peepers”) and more!

 

And as always, the yule log will burn brightly on viewers’ screens (accompanied by holiday music) from 6:30am-10:00am on Christmas morning!

Granted, there are many more special shows and classic films that will be featured this Christmas Eve and Christmas Day on ATVN, but you’ll have to check back to our website in a few days to get more information on this year’s “takeover.”

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on the Astound TV Network, check out the weekly listings here.

 

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Astound Broadband or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

 

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