Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Ruffled Peacock feathers

Or "how I caused a MAJOR shitstorm at NBC".

In 1974 I worked in the research department of NBC. We were in the process of testing that year’s pilots. It was not a good batch. FRAUD SQUAD starring Frank Sinatra Jr., (to this day I believe the worst testing show in history. Not only did the audience not like Frank Sinatra Jr. as the head of the LAPD Fraud Squad, they felt he was dishonest), DOCTOR DOMINGO with Desi Arnaz (trading in Lucy for a talking parrot), the BOB CRANE SHOW (Crane goes back to college, coeds beware), etc. NBC was in a big slump and their development slate was a pack of dogs.

One night during this testing period NBC aired a MOW called “A Case of Rape” starring Elizabeth Montgomery. It got huge numbers. So as a goof I wrote an internal memo to the research department recommending NBC do this as a weekly series.

Well, somehow the memo got out and was released to all department heads including the President of the network, Marvin Antonowsky. He was known as the “Mad Programmer”. Probably that incident is how he got his name. Marvin went bat shit. I was summoned to his office to make a formal apology. Wisely, I did not take that opportunity to drop off my spec script.

My tenure at NBC ended a couple of weeks later when I got a disc jockey job in Detroit. And that ended my venture into the corporate world. But who knows? If I didn’t make that faux pas maybe I would have risen up through the ranks. After 33 years I bet I'd be Vice President of Children’s Programming today.


Anonymous said...

Oh, Antonowsky was just mad he didn't think of it [the series, not the memo] first.

Lee Goldberg said...

FRAUD SQUAD was a proposed spin-off of ADAM-12 that also starred Ed Nelson. It was pretty hideous. You didn't mention that THE BOB CRANE SHOW (aka SECOND START) was actually picked up as a series -- thought it was cancelled pretty quickly.

You were ahead of your time suggesting rape as a weekly series...isn't that LAW AND ORDER: SVU?

By Ken Levine said...


You're right. FRAUD SQUAD was a spin-off of ADAM 12. I think it actually aired one night. And since it was a Jack Webb production it had those same really cheesey production values. I just remember testing it at ASI, being up in the booth watching the graph plunge to the floor and the producer almost passing out. It was an incredibly uncomfortable night. The audience was asked to fill out comment cards but we didn't tell him that. We at least spared him that indignity. The comments were BRUTAL.

The BOB CRANE SHOW I believed was retooled after this pilot. And if memory serves, it was an MTM production.


Never seen LAW AND ORDER: SVU - twelve months as a reporter covering rape and incest trials convinced me such crimes shouldn't be the stuff of entertainment.

Besides, every time I see that TV show listed, my mind translates the title to LAW AND ORDER: SUV.

When is Dick Wolf launching the flyover state version - LAW AND ORDER: UTE?

Anonymous said...

When is Dick Wolf launching the flyover state version - LAW AND ORDER: UTE?

Just as soon as L&O: MALL SECURITY UNIT gets off the ground.

Anonymous said...

If you hadn't done that faux pas after 33 years you'd have gone from publicist to marketing to VP Specials only to be canned and moved "across the street" in the Catalina building with a "lucrative" development deal which has enough leverage to validate one's parking.

Karan said...

Your timing and network was off....ACaseofR could easily have fit into the Fox lineup.

Orlando C. Harn said...

So the idea was that Elizabeth Montgomery would be raped by a different guest star every week?

The show would already be starting off on the wrong foot, if the biggest guest rapist you could get was Cliff Potts.

MaryAn Batchellor said...

"biggest guest rapist"??

He who would pun would pick a pocket -- Master and Commander

Anonymous said...

you need to re-visit the Detroit DJ years and bring back a WKRP IN CINCINNATI type sitcom... before the MP3 downloaders destroy all music stores and Clear Channel destroys all radio stations