Dear Brian Kilmeade-— John Fugelsang (@JohnFugelsang) April 9, 2021
Heard your theory abt Meghan Markle's Oprah interview killing Prince Philip.
No disrespect, but 99 year olds dying bc something they heard on TV made them angry is the greatest threat to your show's target audience.
As I’m sure you know, one of the things that’s become prominent on TV interviews during the pandemic is people choosing their backgrounds to say something about themselves or to promote something.
I don’t know if this woman being interviewed by Ali Melshi on MSNBC last night had planned this background, or it was just accident – but man, I hope she has friends who let her know to change things. It make her look like she had devil horns, which was bad enough, but also like a big stick was coming out of her head. I quickly got my phone and took a picture for posterity
Maybe the bigger question is why the director didn't say anything, since they set these up in advance. While it’s possible the director was just laser-focused on the lighting and dealing with two guests, and didn’t notice, that seems unlikely. Although there’s the evidence. But maybe he did notice, said something, but it was too late for her to find another location – though you only had to shift the laptop camera six inches in either direction, and that would have helped.
As I watched, I couldn’t believe it. Surely she would shift her body just as a matter of course. And I kept waiting and waiting – but no. In fact I had enough time to sit amazed at it, then realize I should take a picture, see that my phone was in another room, run to get it and fortunately the TV was on it that room, too, and take the picture. So, it was this way for about 3-5 minutes.
If you missed Last Week Tonight with John Oliver last night, the Main Story was on Tucker Carlson. On the one hand, it was a joy watching Oliver skewer him endlessly as the disingenuous, smarmy, white supremacist poster boy he is. On the other hand, even at that, there is a limit to how long I can watch Tucker Carlson. Still, it's good and oh-so well-deserved. Just really annoying to watch after a while.
In some ways, this is as much a treasure find as the video I posted the other day here of Boris Karloff performing the song, "It Was a Very Good Year" on The Jonathan Winters Show. Not quite, but close. But it's a huge treat enough to include it as a way to wrap-up our Boris Karloff Trilogy. (I use "wrap up" in a flexible way, since I'm sure there will be some others down the line.
As it happened, in 1967, the year before Karloff appeared on The Jonathan Winters Show -- and a year after he narrated How the Grinch Stole Christmas -- he appeared on an episode of the TV series I Spy. And the episode was SO wonderful that it’s the only one I remember. He played a brilliant scientist in Spain who was a great aficionado of the novel Don Quixote. They have to have to protect him from being kidnapped – and as the story goes on, he becomes more and more befuddled and ultimately delusional and begins to think he is Don Quixote, which makes their efforts keeping track of him more difficult. It's just great, and Karloff is superb.
And good news! The full episode is available on YouTube. And I'm embedding it below.
Here’s a tip about it though for anyone who is not interested in watching the show because one of the two stars was Bill Cosby. I'll just mention that the opening scene is between Karloff and the other star, Robert Culp only, which then leads into the opening credits. So, you can safely watch the first couple minutes without any fear of “spillover.” And Karloff is charming in it.
This is one of those things that gets the heading "This is a real treasure" and totally deserves it.
This is a real treasure.
I have been looking for this for quite-literally decades -- even before the Internet, hoping it might get rerun on television or somewhere, maybe released on a video or something. I actually have wanted to see it again since I was a kid and saw it originally performed on TV over half a century ago, in 1968. And...and I sort of finally found it!! "Sort of" because it’s not the video, but almost as good, the audio. And “almost as good” because there’s very little visual to it. It’s pretty much all about the audio.
This was on The Jonathan Winters Show when he had a variety series, and one night they put on a Halloween special. And one of the guests was Boris Karloff. Hey, who better to have as a guest for a Halloween special?. But this particularly segment wasn't about Halloween at all or even anything scary-related. Rather, Karloff sat in a comfortable chair and, with music softly, wistfully playing to accompany him, he recited the song, “It Was a Very Good Year.” And even though I was just a kid, I was utterly bowled over by it. And have remembered it since. And wanted to see it, or just hear it again.
And I finally tracked down the audio! O huzzah.
I’ve actually been telling people about it ever since I saw it. But I couldn't ever come close to doing it justice because...well, I’m not Boris Karloff. It’s not that it’s “brilliant.” But it’s just so good, so rich and textured and different from any other interpretation of the song, that was originally recorded by Frank Sinatra. And it comes across like what the song is – an old man looking back on his life, with great tenderness.
Yes, it would be nice to have the video to go with it, and perhaps one day I'll track that down, but ultimately he was just sitting in a high-backed chair. It’s his voice and performance that’s the thing here that matters. And it is such a huge treat to find it at last after 52 years.
So, from October 30, 1968, this is Boris Karloff with "It Was a Very Good Year."
While browsing around, I came across a treasure trove which I'll start posting here from time-to-time. It's tons of appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show.
But before we dive into the first one, I think the only way to begin as a prologue is this number from Bye Bye Birdie, written by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams. "Hymn for a Sunday Evening," performed by Paul Lynde, Mary LaRoche, Ann-Margaret and Bryan Russell.
(All the nice being two graduates of the beloved Northwestern -- Paul Lynde and Ann-Margaret -- and also one Ann-Margaret grad of New Trier High School. Not that I'm biased or anything...)
Okay, welcome back to the show.
And to start, here is Ed Sullivan chatting with Humphrey Bogart. It appears as if Bogart had just participated in a sketch -- perhaps with baseball players. And afterwards, Ed called him over to talk. One of his, "Bogie, c'mon over here, c'mon!" sort of things.
At the beginning of Andy Griffith's career, he was basically a stand-up comedian, though what he mostly did was tell stories. His most famous story was probably about football, called "What it was, was football," and all this led into him getting signed to star in the Broadway play, No Time for Sergeants which was a huge hit -- running for three years -- and he repeated the role when it was made into a film. The show all had a couple of unexpected connections to his later career -- the first is that the plot (about a country bumpkin who joints the army and drives his sergeant crazy) is pretty much similar to what was used when they spun off Gomer Pyle, USMC from The Andy Griffith Show. And the other is that a small role in both the Broadway play and movie was played by a young actor who developed a friendship with Griffith, named Don Knotts. (In fact, as the story goes according to Knotts, when he found out that Andy Griffith was going to have a TV show, he called his friend and suggested that a small town sheriff should have a deputy.) And all these success lead Andy Griffith to be signed to star in a Broadway musical, Destry, based on the film Destry Rides Again, which had a score by Harold Rome and ran for over a year with 472 performances, And as it happens this too had a connection to his later career -- in fact a big one, since the plot was about a sheriff who didn't carry a gun. So, Andy Griffith works often overlapped with his later work.
Anyway, though the best known of Andy Griffith's monologues was likely that one on football, he had a few others that were popular -- and wonderful, as well -- including his telling of the tale of Romeo and Juliet. I've decided to post this one, not just because I think it's terrific, but also because it too had an overlap with his later career. In an episode of The Andy Griffith Show, he tells Opie the story of Romeo and Juliet, and it's an edited-down version of his original monologue. But the original is far better -- not only more whimsical and clever, but the live audience rich laughing tops a TV laugh track.
And as a bonus, here's the way they adapted it later for The Andy Griffith Show. In turns out that there are a couple of star-crossed young lovers in Mayberry, and although Andy as sheriff could marry them, the families don't get along, so he wants to sort things out. And he explains it all to his son Opie, as a bemused Aunt Bee listens on.
Left out of this clip is the last line of the scene, when Opie says to his pa that, boy, "....that Romeo and Juliet sure would make a good TV show!"
Okay, this is a bit weird (with "a bit" being an understatement), though really quite wonderful.
Netflix says it commissioned a fellow named Keaton Patti to run 1,000 Christmas movies through a bot and “created our own mathematically perfect Holiday film made entirely by bots.” Now, of course, it’s possible that this is just a terrible video that they created to be funny. But it’s really SO nonsensical in insignificant ways that I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s on the level. In fact, the only thing noticeably missing is a bakery, department store and Christmas tree farm. But otherwise, they've given Hallmark a run for its money...
In honor of the inveterate Chris Dunn, here is two hours of Darlene Love singing “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home”). No, really, two hours of it.
In 1986, Darlene Love was appearing in a show, Leader of the Pack, that Paul Shaffer was performing with. David Letterman came to a performance, loved her singing of this song and invited her on to her show to sing it – and kept inviting her back every year for 28 years through to his last season in 2014. And this is a compilation of all those appearances. The show always went out for a big, fun production – including how they’d introduce the saxophone solo in some different, often odd way. If you don’t want to watch the whole thing – which is pretty likely – at least jump to the 1:40 mark when, for the last show, Letterman invites our her as a guest. And then right after, at the very end of the video, is a fun, sort of “Making of…” segment on how they put the song together each year. Which ends with a montage of about half a dozen versions of her singing the song. And each are seamless and joyous.
Okay, it's time. Last night I popped in my DVD of the holiday gem Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol for my annual viewing, so it's only fitting that today we offer its wonderful songs. And a joyous bonus. Actually, we even have a second bonus this year. The classic show was the first-ever animated holiday special, made in 1962 and for eight years it got repeated annually through 1969. But its simplistic animation finally caught up and alas it went out of the rotation. A shame since it's such a terrific production.
For all its being Mr. Magoo and only 52 minutes long, it's a very nice adaptation of the story. And the score...well, it's Broadway quality and probably the best musical score for an animated TV special, and one of the best for TV, period. The music is by Jule Styne (Gypsy, Bells are Ringing) and the lyrics by Bob Merrill (Carnival, Take Me Along) who -- while writing this -- were, in fact, in the middle of working on Funny Girl.
Though no longer on network TV, for a long time the show could be found every year on syndication. But unfortunately even that has largely faded away, though occasionally it pops up. But on its 50th anniversary in 2012, NBC brought it back to prime time, and happily its DVD release gave the show new life.
Here are the wonderful songs.
The first, "Ringle Ringle" introduces us to Scrooge and Bob Cratchit.
When Scrooge visits the Crachit house in Christmas Present, the family sings the rousing showstopper, "The Lord's Bright Blessing."
In Christmas Past, Scrooge returns to an almost-empty schoolhouse of his youth and sings a duet of himself as a young boy, "I'm All Alone in the World."
Still in Christmas Past, Scrooge's fiance Belle breaks up with him for find a new idol to love -- gold, and she sings wistfully about their love lost, the lovely "Winter was Warm."
In Christmas Future, Scrooge visits a junk shop run by thieves who have ransacked the now-empty house of a man who was died -- which he doesn't realize yet is him -- and they explain with very amusing glee that "We're Despicable."
And now the bonus.
For those who were skeptical of me calling this a Broadway-quality score, It turns out (aside from the reality that it is) that the show did play on Broadway -- sort of. In 2014, the Actors Fund did a benefit concert with a fairly elaborate staged reading of the TV show, with full costumes, limited sets and even some choreography. It was so successful that they brought it back a few years later. I've posted a video of that original production in the past (here, for those who'd like to see it), but for a change-of-pace this is a 4-minute montage of the follow-up. And like its predecessor, the production looks absolutely wonderful. And sounds like they used the original music arrangements.
(While I prefer the Scrooge in the 2014 production, I'm using this version in part so that we can get both up here, but also because it's a little bit longer, so there's more material. However, in addition, the actress who plays 'Belle' and sings "Winter is Warm' here is Sierra Boggess, a wonderful performer who was the original 'Ariel' in the Broadway production of The Little Mermaid, and who has appeared in several videos I've posted from the BBC Proms.)
Since the show is only about 52 minutes, it's much too short to mount a full-blow musical on its own, but I suspect it could be paired with another one-act show or just be done in community theaters.
By the way, their adaptation of the thieves' song, "We're Despicable," is scary-good (in both years) how close they came with the casting (a touch better the first year) and even with the animated choreography. Even down to the tiny details, at one point, of the comically-weird, twisty hand movements. And fortunately, the best -- and closest -- of the performers is in both versions, the tall fellow with glasses.
And here's the second bonus -- which I just discovered today. Apparently, a soundtrack album was planned, but never released. And it turns out that an overture was arranged for the album -- and recorded. And it's now shown up on YouTube. I've seen the animated special many dozens of times, and not only never heard this before, but I never knew it existed. Which I assume is the case for most people who have watched the TV special regularly over the years. And like so many overtures of Jule Styne musicals, it's wonderful. So, finally -- curtain up.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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