News from the Archive

Remembering Chuck Barris

March 22nd, 2017
Chuck Barris

We’re sad to learn that game show creator/host Chuck Barris has passed away at the age of 87. Barris started his career as an NBC page before going on to create wildly popular games shows including The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game, and The Gong Show, which he hosted. Barris was also the author of “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind: An Unauthorized Autobiography” and the writer of the hit song, “Palisades Park.”

Below are some selections from his 2010 interview:

On the song "Palisades Park":

On creating The Gong Show:

On "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind":

Watch Chuck Barris' full Archive interview and read his obituary in The Hollywood Reporter.

 

Share and Enjoy:

He's Catching Up to the 2000 Year-Old Man: Carl Reiner Turns 95!

March 20th, 2017
Carl Reiner

He's a boy from the Bronx who's had a hand in some of film and television's most memorable moments. Carl Reiner turns 95 years young today, and he's spent over 80 of those years entertaining people in one medium or another, from stage plays, to radio, to the small screen and the large.

Born Carl Reiner on March 20, 1922, Reiner caught the acting bug early in life. After performing in school plays throughout his elementary and high school years, Reiner's older brother encouraged him to take an acting class sponsored by the Public Works Administration during the Depression years. He enjoyed honing the craft and began acting in off-Broadway plays straight out of high school; performed in summer theater in Rochester, NY; toured with a Shakespeare company; and wrote and performed plays as part of the Special Services Unit during World War II.

After his discharge from the Army in 1946, Reiner performed in the famed Borscht Belt circuit, and began his career in television in 1948 with a spot on Maggi McNellis Crystal Room, and appearances on The Fashion Story and The Fifty-fourth Street Revue. Reiner continued to do stage work, when producer Max Liebman caught one of his performances and approached Reiner about joining the cast of a new sketch variety show he was putting together with Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca, Your Show of Shows. Reiner became a cast member in the 1950-51 season, memorably starring in the recurring "Professor" sketch with Caesar, and often displaying his double talk skills, mimicking foreign languages or delivering Shakespeare-esque dialogue. In his 1998 Archive Interview, Reiner discusses working with Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca:

Reiner soon began writing for Your Show of Shows, alongside writers Neil Simon, Mel Tolkin, Lucille Kallen, and Mel Brooks, and stayed on to become a part of Sid Caesar's next show, Caesar's Hour, where he won his first Emmy:

Reiner and Brooks struck up an immediate friendship, which in turn led to the creation of some fantastic comedy. The pair dreamed up the now infamous "2000 Year Old Man" (which became both a record/radio and TV hit) in Max Liebman's office in the early 1950s:

After Caesar's Hour Reiner hosted the game show Celebrity Game, and secured dramatic parts in several Golden Age dramas including Playhouse 90, and Kraft Television Theatre. He tried his hand at writing novels and penned Enter Laughing, and even took a stab at writing a television series. He wrote what he knew, and in 1958 created thirteen episodes of Head of the Family, a show about a family man who commutes into the big city to write for a television show. Reiner starred in the pilot, which failed to get picked up, until Sheldon Leonard saw it, convinced Reiner to step out of the spotlight, re-cast Dick Van Dyke in the lead and Mary Tyler Moore as his wife, and renamed the program The Dick Van Dyke Show:

The Dick Van Dyke Show enjoyed five seasons on air (1961-66), with Reiner as creator, producer, writer, and actor on the show -- on-screen he stepped out of the lead role and into that of the star's boss, "Alan Brady". Reiner's movie career revved up in the 1960's, as he starred in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, and The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming. He soon began directing, too - he directed the film version of Enter Laughing in 1967, and wrote the pilot for and directed several episodes of 1971's The New Dick Van Dyke Show. He directed Steve Martin in four films, including 1979's The Jerk and 1984's All of Me, and also directed 1987's Summer School.

Reiner won several Emmys for The Dick Van Dyke Show, and added another to his mantle when he revisited his Dick Van Dyke Show character, "Alan Brady", for a memorable guest appearance on a 1995 episode of Mad About You. Throughout the '90s and 2000s Reiner continued to stay active in both film and television, with roles on the 1999 series Family Law, 2002's Life With Bonnie, and as the voice of "Sarmoti" in 2004's Father of the Pride. He also starred alongside George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Matt Damon in the 2001 hit film, Ocean's Eleven, and reprised his role of "Saul Bloom" for 2004's Ocean's Twelve and 2007's Ocean's Thirteen. He also had recurring roles on TVLand's Hot in Cleveland and FOX's The Cleveland Show.

A few additional Carl Reiner trivia tidbits: he has appeared on all major versions of The Tonight Show - with hosts Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, and Jimmy Fallon; he's the father of another quite famous actor/writer/producer/director - Rob Reiner; and much like Carol Burnett, when he was starring on a variety show, he used a secret signal to communicate with family members. Son Rob shared what that signal was in his 2004 Archive Interview:

Happy 95th birthday, Carl! Here's to many, many more!

Reiner was honored by the Television Academy in October of 2011, and several of his colleagues and friends were in attendance to pay tribute to the TV legend. You can watch the webcast of "An Evening Honoring Carl Reiner" here, and check out our full Archive interview with Reiner here.

- by Adrienne Faillace

Share and Enjoy:

The Mary Tyler Moore Show Finale at 40

March 19th, 2017

Forty years ago, on March 19, 1977, the cast of The Mary Tyler Moore Show took their final bow. The series finale, “The Last Show” saw the gang at WJM facing a new station manager and a round of surprise firings. Show creators Allan Burns and James L. Brooks brought back every writer who had written on the show more than once, and crafted a funny, heartwarming script that, as Brooks says, “made the series end honestly.” 

But not every moment in the final episode was pre-planned. The group hug turned group walk wasn’t written at all. As Mary Tyler Moore describes it, that moment, “came about spontaneously during rehearsal… In the script it was written, ‘they break up and they go to the Kleenex.’” But Gavin MacLeod, who played "Murray Slaughter" on the show, says that James L. Brooks inspired the group to hang on to each other and move as one, “Jim said, ‘Go for it! Go for it!’”

Watch to hear more about the finale of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and check out our Mary Tyler Moore Show page for more stories from the cast, crew, and creators of the beloved series. 

-Jenna Hymes

Share and Enjoy:

Feel Good Friday: How Kermit's "Bein' Green" Came To Be

March 17th, 2017
Bein' Green

When Kermit the Frog sings, magic happens. Part of that magic stems from the genius of Sesame Street's music director Joe Raposo. Many of those songs you love from your childhood - "One Of These Things [Is Not Like The Others]," "Sing," "C Is For Cookie" - were his creations. Raposo passed away before the Archive was founded, but we've been lucky enough to interview many of his Sesame Street colleagues. Here's the tale of how "Bein' Green" came to be, according to Bob McGrath, Joan Ganz Cooney, and music director Danny Epstein:

 

Now you want to hear the song again, right? Here's Kermit and Ray Charles' duet :

Magic.

- by Adrienne Faillace

Share and Enjoy:

Mary, Rhoda, and Phyllis: TV's First Realistic Female Friends

March 10th, 2017
Mary Tyler Moore, Valerie Harper, Cloris Leachman

Hearing the news of Mary Tyler Moore’s passing in January really stung. Her contributions to the art forms of television and comedy are incalculable. The characters from The Mary Tyler Moore Show (and The Dick Van Dyke Show, for that matter) are as familiar as family. Mary Richards and her friends and co-workers were three-dimensional and fallible, perhaps more so than any television characters that had come before. Co-creator James L. Brooks’ more realistic style on The Mary Tyler Moore Show would help bring about a revolution in television writing in the ‘70s.

My first exposure to The Mary Tyler Moore Show came when it ran in syndication on New York station WNBC at 4:00pm each weekday. At some point, it was moved to a 2am timeslot, where they would run four back-to-back episodes each morning. This went on for several years, until it suddenly stopped. Author Fran Lebowitz was incensed at the cancellation, and I was glad to hear her complain about it one evening on Late Night with David Letterman. She later stated:

I happened to be in the forefront of the fight to keep The Mary Tyler Moore Show reruns on the air in New York. One night when Mary Tyler Moore was supposed to come on, The Toni Tennille Show appeared in her time slot. I called up NBC and asked them what happened. They said they didn’t know. The next day a friend of mine from the New York Post called the vice president of NBC and said they had taken it off the air because they didn’t think anybody was watching it. We managed to get it back on in two days.

I completely understand Lebowitz’s passion and activism here. At the cold, dark hour of 2am in New York City, those reruns allowed her to visit with friends for two hours. There’s a warm comfort in watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show that you get from no other series, due to the outstanding writing and to the cast. 

There was a lot of talk in January about the legacy of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Much of it rightly focused on the show helping to shape modern feminism with its portrayal of a happily unmarried career woman in her thirties. For me, the other important legacy is the show’s portrayal of friendship. Female relationships like the ones between Mary, Rhoda (Valerie Harper) and Phyllis (Cloris Leachman) hadn’t been seen on television before. These three women had a supportive and complex closeness. They fought sometimes (particularly Rhoda and Phyllis), but it only served to strengthen their bonds, and to make it all the more believable to viewers. No matter what, in the end, you knew they were always there for each other.

In the episode “Some of My Best Friends are Rhoda,” Mary can’t see her new friend Joanne’s (Mary Frann) efforts to shut Rhoda out. Both Rhoda and the viewing audience feel frustration at Mary’s obliviousness. Rhoda makes her anger at being sidelined known, and storms out of Mary’s apartment. When Mary realizes that Joanne is a bigot who has an issue with Rhoda’s Jewishness, Mary angrily ends her association with Joanne on the spot. 

The exquisitely written and performed resolution happens in the tag. After telling Joanne to get lost, Mary sheepishly goes upstairs to invite Rhoda to a movie. Rhoda accepts, and doesn’t ask for an explanation of Mary’s previous distant behavior toward her, because sometimes you just give friends an unspoken pass when they’ve transgressed. Nor does Mary tell Rhoda about what went down with Joanne, because she knows friendship should never be about getting points for doing the right thing. They’re friends again, but it’s what’s not said in the scene that makes it so poignant. Lucy and Ethel were always funny, but never this deep.

Episodes like “Some of My Best Friends are Rhoda” brought out the depth and humanity of those characters. James L. Brooks and the writing staff deserve much of the credit, but I don’t think the show could have worked as well as it did without those actors. The chemistry between Mary, Phyllis, and Rhoda is unmatched. When Valerie Harper and Cloris Leachman left the show to star in their spin-offs, the producers had reason to worry. But, as it turned out, by that time in the series, Mary’s co-workers at WJM had become as close to her as the two ladies had been. Ed Asner, Ted Knight, Gavin MacLeod, and late addition MVP Betty White easily picked up the slack.

There will never be another television show like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and there will never be another television icon like Mary Tyler Moore. 

- by John Dalton

Share and Enjoy: