Monday, September 07, 2015

Bring back Jerry!

Seems like only yesterday the Labor Day holiday songs started flooding the radio. As I sit here on this low cyber-traffic weekend I’m reminded of how, as a kid, September was always a big month. So much to look forward to.

As hard as it is to believe, when the networks unveiled their fall shows it was a BIG DEAL. A real big deal. Remember “NBC WEEK”? When they rolled out their new fare they also offered full-color glossy yearbooks you could send away for. I must’ve had six. Now it’s “NBC WEAK.” CBS had a half hour “preview show” in which they would show snippets of their new shows. It got the highest rating of the week. During the summer you would watch daytime game shows just to see the promos. ABC usually got the jump on the other networks by premiering their new lineup first. THE JETSONS was water cooler stuff.


And to coincide with the new season, US automakers unveiled their new models for the year. All summer they would tease you by showing the cars hidden under large sheets. Major speculation over whether the Chevy Impala’s fins could get any larger. They were already the size of A-frame houses. And what was this new car Ford was introducing called the Mustang?

And of course, we had the Jerry Lewis Telethon.  Almost 24 hours of the most saccharine, maudlin, cheesy glitz-filled entertainment/sales pitch hosted by the incomparable Jerry Lewis.  At a moment's notice he could go from tears to cross-eyed clown.  And always on hand was Tony Orlando, Norm Crosby, jugglers, and cabaret singers from the best Travelodge lounges in Henderson.   By hour 19 Jerry usually went totally off the rails.  All live.   That, my friends, was MUST SEE TV.

But this year there's hope.  There's a new Neil Patrick Harris live variety show on tap.   Could this be the return of Jerry?  And it's on NBC.  Where can I send away for the yearbook? 

28 comments:

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

I remember in the seventies watching the ABC and NBC previews of Saturday morning cartoons and kid shows.

Peter said...

Talking of MUST SEE TV, that reminds me of Ken's very funny book, MUST KILL TV, which you can buy here:

http://www.amazon.com/Must-Kill-TV-Ken-Levine/dp/1493674978/ref=la_B001KDZ1PU_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1441631338&sr=1-2

Just doing my bit! :-)

ScottyB said...

Don't worry, @KenLevine. Those of us who grew up with that telethon ♫ will never walk alone ♫.

Bill Avena said...

I hope that Jerry Lewis thing stays away for good. On the other hand it would be tons better than Dancing With the Stars. As for fall network previews, let them stay away for good too. Who wants to see a hooker show off her cankers?

MikeK.Pa. said...

I remember the Sunday newspapers in the 60s and early 70s doing special pullout sections listing all the news shows and the network schedule grid for the week. I used to cut it out and save it. Could use one now navigating between broadcast, cable and streaming.

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

Always liked Jerry Lewis. I must be French or something.

Michael said...

In Las Vegas, we had a wonderful columnist, Ned Day, who did great work exposing the role of the mob and fun articles about his own peccadilloes. Almost every year for Labor Day, he would do a column attacking Jerry Lewis, just to troll everybody. And it worked.

tavm said...

I'll admit it: There's nothing new this fall I'm interested in. Well, maybe "Supergirl" and "The Muppet Show" (or whatever it's called...)

Jeff said...

I always looked forward to the TV Guide fall preview issue, which covered each night's shows with a little blurb and brightly-colored network publicity shots.

Peter said...

Hope I can be forgiven for going off-topic - some people said it was a sad reflection on the times that Michael Bay films regularly gross over $200m. I disagree. I think we've hit a new low when the No1 film at the box office is a piece of propaganda that tells women in abusive marriages to just pray and submit to their husbands and everything will work out. This is not only sickening propaganda, it's seriously dangerous propaganda when you consider thousands of women are killed every year as a result of domestic violence. This so-called film is telling women in those situations it's their biblical duty to not get a divorce and to stand by their husbands no matter how cruel he is and just pray for him to treat them better.

Vile.

I'd rather a Pauly Shore movie was No1.

gottacook said...

I'm a loyal daily visitor here but nonetheless have to point out that the debut of the Ford Mustang didn't occur in the fall; it was famously introduced in April 1964 as a "1964 1/2" model. (The fastback variant didn't appear until the 1965 model year, it's true.) But that was an unusual case, even if the car was a lot less unusual than Ford made it seem; it was just a dowdy Falcon mechanically.

The secrecy surrounding fall introductions, hinting at cars that were all new and different but really weren't despite annual tweaks in sheetmetal and bumpers, lasted into the mid-1970s. Probably the federal requirement for bumpers that actually worked rather than crumpling, and the bumper height standardization that came with it, helped to end the annual restyling that prompted this sort of marketing.

normadesmond said...

i mourn the loss of the old days, but please, no jerry. please.

Mike said...

@Peter: So, which film is this? And does it contain a lot of country music?
(Appropriate musical accompaniment?)

cd1515 said...

always suspected that telethon was rigged, how they'd magically make their goal in the final seconds every year (TIMPANI!!!)
plus that thing raised how much money for them over how many years?
we still haven't wiped out that disease yet?

Roger Owen Green said...

too many competitors to the networks; it just ain't a big deal anymore
I may watch Supergirl, I WILL watch the Muppets, but possibly nothing else new.
STILL haven't started Mad Men.

Cap'n Bob said...

I knew a guy who swore Jerry Lewis made $45,000,000 every year from the telethon. I was usually good for about five to ten minutes of the show before switching it off.

Igor said...

Ken, this being Labor Day and all, it got me thinking...

Ken puts up a new page every day, rain or shine. (OK, yeh, some are repeats, but still - he does have to hit the "repost" button or whatever.)

So... I think one day a year (at least) you should just post a "Taking the day off" sign. No repeat. Just that sign. To give us a chance to remember that you do post to your blog day after day after day. I mean, for what you offer here, I'd pay double what you're charging now. Even triple.

In brief, thanks for your labors.

Dave Creek said...

I assume the above writer is talking about WAR ROOM, the Christian movie that premiered a couple of weeks ago. It does sound as if it has a truly awful attitude toward women. I hope she, and the rest of us, can take a little bit of comfort in the fact that even though it's apparently number one at the box office this week, that in its two weeks of release it's made only $24.6 million.

So if that's the number one movie, this must have been a slow couple of weekends. Not exactly JURASSIC WORLD or AGE OF ULTRON numbers.

Tgrdrvr said...

@gottacook

Not exactly. The Mustang was first sold in April 1964, but not as a "1964 1/2" model as the cars were titled, registered and VIN-coded as '65s from the start. When early Mustangs became collectible in the '70s, enthusiasts started calling cars built before August 1964 as "1964 1/2" models because they had a few detail differences not shared by cars produced after that date. But they are all '65s to Ford and the DMV.

gottacook said...

You're correct, of course, about how the cars were titled. Any car sold in the U.S. made after January 1 of a given calendar year can be titled with the succeeding year - for example, a car company can legally call a car manufactured on January 2, 2015 a "2016" for both titling and marketing purposes - although I don't know how long that's been the case.

D. McEwan said...

"I’m reminded of how, as a kid, September was always a big month. So much to look forward to."

Does not compute. as a kid, all September meant to me was Summer vacation over; Freedom ends; back to school. It was the month I most dreaded.

I'm always amazed to learn that many folks really did watch the Jerry Lewis Telethon, and even made a tradition of it. I've never watched any of it ever. It was never on in my parents' home, and I avoided it on my own since there seemed a better-than-average chance that I'd be end up seeing Jerry Lewis on it.Dd

DrBOP said...

Jerry's telethon was a HUUUUUGE influence on the writers at SCTV. I daresay without it, there would have been no Sammy Maudlin (and his, ahem, faaabulous sidekick William B. Williams); and definitely no SCTV Solid Gold Telethon where the audience is asked to send in their gold.

(two small comments = Not saying that this was the only influence on the creation of the characters, and couldn't find the clip on the interwebs....but good to find out that there is a WACK of entire SCTV shows available. Sure hope they're getting residuals.)

Len said...

I assume the above writer is talking about WAR ROOM, the Christian movie that premiered a couple of weeks ago. It does sound as if it has a truly awful attitude toward women. I hope she, and the rest of us, can take a little bit of comfort in the fact that even though it's apparently number one at the box office this week, that in its two weeks of release it's made only $24.6 million

If you're assuming that a $24.6 million take means that WAR ROOM is a box office failure, think again. True, by Hollywood blockbuster standards that's nothing. WAR ROOM, though, was made for only $3 million dollars, which means that, in terms of profit versus cost, it's a very solid hit.

John said...

Jerry's Labor Day telethon became so iconic/kitchy so fast that people forget that the 1960s were over half gone (as were the car tail fins), the first time the Telethon hit the airwaves, in 1966, and then only on Ch. 5 in New York. Jerry had done MDA fundraisers for 15 years before that, but the Telethon didn't go national until 1967, so next year will actually be the 50th anniversary of the start-up and 2017 the 50th for the nationwide broadcast.

Unknown said...

It's important to note that most channels in most cities did not run twenty four hours in those days, signing off sometime after midnight and signing on again about 6AM. It's easy to forget this with a multitude of twenty four hour cable stations and with new blocks on local news stations taking up to nine hours a day. I grew up in New York so this wasn't an issue for me but I have heard accounts from many people, particularly from small towns, that the Jerry Lewis telethon was the only time there was tv programming all night and many people stayed up very late to watch it.

I miss it because it was the last vestige of vaudeville, borscht belt and Vegas acts. Where else on tv would you see Norm Crosby now? The Labor Day telethon was the last arena for that style of entertainment.

Dave Creek said...

Len, I appreciate the information about how WAR ROOM must have made some money, but my point was that, compared to a great many number one movies, very few people saw it.

Graham Powell said...

I'm of two minds on the Jerry Lewis telethon. On the one hand, the shows sucked, and as a kid who watched a lot of television, they pre-empted every channel there was.

On the other hand, they raised hundreds of millions of dollars for charity.

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