Let's head back again between the ferns for a another interview by Zach Galifianakis, this time talking to Steve Carell.
When I went to UCLA for grad school, I knew it had one of the country's best film and TV archive for a university, though it was difficult for the public to get access to. It was pretty much only available for academic research, which included students -- and happily I qualified for that. I didn't access it much, I think I only went to watch two things there, but they were gems.
They had a full collection of the classic Hallmark Hall of Fame series, and I watched two of them. One was the emotional drama A Storm in Summer, written by, of all people, Rod Serling, which won an Emmy as Best Actor for Peter Ustinov, which isn't shabby considering his competition that year included Sir Laurence Olivier. (I wrote here about the time years latter when I worked with Ustinov and had a wonderful experience related to discussing this production.) It had originally aired only a few years earlier, and I loved it so much that I wanted to see it again) The other was much fuzzier in my memory, having seen it as a kid, and I wanted to confirm it was as great as I recalled, and from the perspective of a kid. It was the great play, The Magnificent Yankee, about Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes and his wife, and it starred the legendary Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, in one of their rare performances on film or TV. And happily, it was as brilliant as I'd thought. The utter shame is that this has aired only once, and as far as I know is pretty much lost to all expect in archives like this.
All of this is to mentioned that at least part of the UCLA Film and Television Archive is available online. It's limited, of course, but still quite good. You can check it out here.
And that in turn is prelude to one of the shows in their archive that I'm able to embed here. It's a production from the U.S. Steel Hour that aired on January 13, 1960, titled Queen of the Orange Bowl, What is so notable about the hour-long show is that it stars the legendary host of The Tonight Show Johnny Carson. It's only his second scripted, character-role (other than small appearances, or walk-ons as himself) and as far as I can, his last. He took over The Tonight Show two years later. And the thing is, he does a nice job -- no small thing since, as I said, it was done live. No re-takes if you screw up and want to do it better. One chance, and that's it.
The light-hearted comedy concerns a sort of "bohemian" young woman who tries in to get her new boyfriend to take their relationship seriously.
The show has a pretty good pedigree beyond just Carson. The female lead is played by Anne Francis, who had a long career is such films as Bad Day at Black Rock and starred in the detective series Honey West. And supporting performers included Elizabeth Wilson (who played Dustin Hoffman's mother in The Graduate), Al Lewis (best-known as 'Grandpa' in The Munsters), and Frank McHugh (who was Bing Crosby's best-friend in Going My Way.)
Also, the production was directed by Paul Bogart, who later directed over 90 episodes of the series All in the Family. It was written by Robert Van Scoyk, who had a long career that included two episodes of Columbo and five seasons as executive story editor of Murder, She Wrote, for which he wrote 21 episodes.and three made-for-TV movies.
It's been a while since I've had an episode of the Zach Galifianakis show Between Two Ferns, so this seems a good time to post another, this with Hillary Clinton as his guest.
The other day, as part of our normal conversation, my friend Myles Berkowitz brought up what he said was probably the greatest joke on the "Carnac the Magnificent" sketches that they would periodically do on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, where the mind-reader would divine the answer to a question before knowing what the question was. I do have a vague recollection of this, but no more than that, and so I wanted to see if I could track down a video of it. As Myles noted, the fun is added by Carson of course knowing what the "question" would be before he even read the "answer."
First, a little background. This isn't necessary to enjoy the main video, but it adds some fun perspective. I posted this video previously -- it's a clip of Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne on The Graham Norton Show talking about his audition as a young boy when he had a small role in London revival of Oliver! That's Anna Kendrick also on the panel, who briefly comes into play here.
And now the main feature.
Every once in a while on his show, James Corden teams up with a guest, and they go out into the public and deliver singing telegrams. For this, he joins with Eddie Redmayne deliver singing telegrams. That they did this three weeks ago, around when Redmayne's movie The Aeronauts about two balloonists was released, may have something to do with why balloons are involved, though perhaps not. But I like to think so.
(It's possible that two ads will interrupt the video, but if so you can just click past)
This is a fun sketch that Saturday Night Live did in 2014 to parody the famous Christmas caroling scene in the movie Love Actually with guest host Amy Adams.
Falling under the "Fest" part of the gala, this is a video I always enjoy for the season from the Conan show. It's about his effort to come up with a Secret Santa gift for one of his staff members.
Okay, there's no music here, but it's a lot of fun about the holidays and therefore officially qualifies as part of a Holiday Fest. These are two videos showing the annual holiday pranks that Jimmy Kimmel alternates each year with John Krasinski and Emily Blunt against one another. This first is from Kimmel's 2014 broadcast and includes several earlier efforts.
And with follow that with what took place the next year, in 2015.
If I only had one piece to embed for the Holiday Music Fest, this might be the one. Stan Freberg's classic from 1958 that remain relevant, if not more so from when it was first released, "Green Chri$tma$."
This is one of my favorite sketches from Saturday Night Live” done in 1999. There are several songs in it, so happily it qualifies for the Music part of the Fest. But it would qualify regardless because, for me, it's all Fest.
I've had a difficult time tracking it down over the years, but finally found it in 2017 after nearly 20 years of searching. I had code to embed it , but for some reason that doesn't work. I did upload it below, but because it's done with a screen video capture, the sound is a bit tinny. Far better is if you click on this link here, which should bring up a player with the video. Try that first. If for some reason that doesn't work, though, check out the video below.
I swear to you that when I first saw this sketch, I didn’t know who was playing the lead “urchin” in it – in part for the hair and make-up (which is light, but enough), but in part because I was thinking about the main cast members and not at all about who was hosting that week. A few years later I saw a repeat of the show, and halfway through the sketch I almost shouted out, “Oh, my God, that’s Jennifer Aniston!” And so it is. Along with Rachel Dratch, and others. And it’s a hoot.
But other than that second viewing, I haven't see the sketch on TV since. Why on earth SNL doesn't include this in their annual Christmas Special compendium of holiday sketches over the years. It's not only one of their best Christmas sketches, it is, for me as I said, one of their best, period.
Robert J. Elisberg is a two-time recipient of the Lucille Ball Award for comedy screenwriting. He's written for film, TV, the stage, and two best-selling novels, is a regular columnist for the Writers Guild of America and was for the Huffington Post. Among his other writing, he has a long-time column on technology (which he sometimes understands), and co-wrote a book on world travel. As a lyricist, he is a member of ASCAP, and has contributed to numerous publications.
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