Friday, May 21, 2021

Friday Questions

Some Friday Questions to kick off your weekend.

Xmastime goes first.

Ken are you a big fan of Neil Simon? When I was a kid I practically memorized "The Star-Spangled Girl; 30 years later when I finally watched the film it was quite a disappointment. Have you had an experience where on paper your script was cracking, but somehow didn't really work onscreen after it was filmed?

In fairness to Neil Simon, the movie was completely rewritten.  Very little of Simon’s play is in the movie, which yes, is terrible. Plus, if I'm not mistaken, wasn't it a TV movie?  So the production values are cheesy too.

As for me, yes, there have been times I’ve seen shows I’ve written fall flat due to lousy directing and acting.  Or, maybe the script just wasn’t that crackling to begin with.  Nah, it was the director.

From Gladys Peters:

How come network TV dramas always get at least a one-hour time slot instead of 30 minutes?

Gladys, this was not always the case.  In the ‘50s and ‘60s there were a number of half-hour dramas.  Usually police shows.  PETER GUNN was a personal favorite.   I believe the original DRAGNET was a half-hour as well.  

There were also a lot of half-hour westerns.   GUNSMOKE started out as a half-hour.  My favorite western, BAT MASTERSON was only thirty minutes.  

I'm sure you guys can come up with other examples.

Eventually it just evolved that dramas were an hour and sitcoms were a half-hour.   Personally, I don't think you need an hour to tell a lot of these dramatic stories.  There's a lot of padding.  

UPDATED not to include WB shows that I thought were half-hours but several readers kindly reminded me they weren't.  Hey, I was 2 when I was watching them.  :)

DougG. wonders:

When you and David (Isaacs) wrote the "Adventures in Paradise" episode of FRASIER, was it always planned to be two episodes or did that just happen as part of the writing process?

More often than not, two-parters start out as one-parters with just too much story.  But in the case of “Adventures in Paradise” we knew when originally plotting it that it was going to be a two-parter.  

We had such a great cliff-hanger -- when Frasier steps out onto the balcony of this very remote resort only to find Lilith on the next balcony.  You don’t get much better than that.   

Then we constructed the two parts to fit that.  Part one was the courtship with Jobeth Williams and part two the aftermath of Lilith and the news that she was remarrying.  Each was a pretty full story. 

David and I have done a number of two-parters from various shows.  I think “Adventures in Paradise” is my favorite — especially part two.

And finally, from Bob Paris:

Ken: Imagine that you are a rookie on the Dodgers ten years ago. You get your first major league hit and for a souvenir you can have only one of these two options: 1) the game ball, or 2) a copy of the broadcast where Vin Scully calls your at-bat. Which would you choose?

That’s an easy one.  The Vin Scully call.  Anyone can get their first game ball, but having Vin Scully call it — that’s special.   It’s like having a Hirschfeld caricature of yourself.

I hope you’re vaxed by now.  And if not, what the hell are you waiting for?  It’s either freedom or Darwinism.  Choose freedom.  What’s your Friday Question? 


Jon said...

The WB shows that you mention were all 1 hour each, not 30 minutes. MeTV occasionally reruns them, and does rerun the hour-long MAVERICK, on weekends, and it reruns 30-minute PETER GUNN early Monday mornings in back-to-back episodes at about 4 AM ET/PT.

FQ: I've noticed 1 or 2 of your MASH episodes mention the importance of having orange juice available to surgeons during surgery. Is there something special about OJ compared to apple juice, coffee, or even cold water? I'd love to know. Thanks!

Brian said...

I enjoyed your episode on writing. Have you ever been plagiarized? If so, what steps did you take?

Touch-and-go Bullethead said...

Actually, 77 SUNSET STRIP, HAWAIIAN EYE, and BOURBON STREET BEAT (plus the one you forgot, SURFSIDE 6) were all hour-long shows. For examples of half-hour long detective shows, you can use HONEY WEST, M SQUAD (which has the dual distinction of having starred Lee Marvin, and having inspired POLICE SQUAD!), TALLAHASSEE 7000 (with Walter Matthau looking dreadfully out of place as a Southern cop), and the Darren McGavin version of MIKE HAMMER.

I have always assumed that the reason for an hour becoming the standard length for dramatic shows was economic. That is, I assume that these shows tend to be more expensive to produce than sitcoms, requiring as they do more sets and locations (a sitcom can get by with just the office and the living room), and being more dependent on guest stars (Matt Dillon and Paladin needed a steady supply of foes to shoot; Perry Mason needed a new client every week, as well as three or four suspects). Doubling the length meant doubling the commercials, and so doubling the income that they could bring in. In other words, they may have needed to be an hour long to be profitable.

Anonymous said...

Ken, all of those Warner Bros private detective shows with addresses for titles were 1-hour shows. Same for the infinite number of WB Westerns, e.g MAVERICK, CHEYENNE, SUGARFOOT, LAWMAN et al.

ThBgGy said...

Ken, As I recall, all those ABC dramas, plus The Alaskans, Surfside Six and The Roaring 20s, I believe all produced by Warner Brothers, were always hour long shows. You are correct, though, that they were all the same show.

sanford said...

While not WB shows, Wyatt Earp and Paladin were also half hour shows as was the Lone Ranger. I hadn't seen Paladin in a long time. A year or so ago they showed up on one of the cable channels (maybe heroes and villians) Despite Paladin killing people I thought it was one of the more interesting westerns of its time.

maxdebryn said...

Most current sitcom episodes are close to 19 minutes, without commercials. Unless it's a "very special episode," like the old FAMILY TIES one where Alex P. Keaton uses amphetamines.

Pat Reeder said...

Random comments: One of my favorite half-hour Westerns was "The Rifleman." Johnny Crawford just passed away a few weeks ago. I met him a couple of times, and he seemed like an incredibly nice guy who was very appreciative of his fans. Also a good singer, and the leader of a terrific 1920s dance orchestra. I wrote a tribute to him at our Hollywood Hi-Fi Facebook page.

I saw a local production of "The Star-Spangled Girl" a couple of years ago, and it still works really well with a good cast.

We write a regular news-based comedy bit for a cable talk show that usually gets big laughs, but a few weeks ago, we had a dead studio audience. I still contend that the material was fine, but I suggested that in addition to checking their temperatures at the door, the producers might also want to check their pulses. A stand-up comic on that episode had the same problem: it was like tossing jokes into Grant's Tomb. Then last week, the host garbled our best line and blew the laugh. Stuff like that gnaws at me, but I'm not returning the paycheck.

Jeff Alexander said...

Star-Spangled Girl was a theatrical movie -- I had the DVD at one time. I can easily understand why you'd think it was a TV movie. It plays like one and was directed by Jerry Paris, who did many more episodes of TV sitcoms than feature films.
Also, amazingly, Pauline Kael did a capsule review of it and she NEVER discussed TV movies. She did not like the movie but admitted to being fond of Sandy Duncan.
Also, Adam-12 comes to mind as another half-hour drama from the 1970s.
And was "Room 222" a comedy or a drama? A case could be made either way, I think.
Then, let's not forget (although many would like to) the Henry Fonda vehicle "The Smith Family." It also had very serious overtones and played like an episode of "Adam 12" sometimes, but also like "My Three Sons" with no laugh track.
And that reminds me -- Fonda also did a half-hour series in the early 1960s called "The Deputy" which was a drama.
Two other forgotten half-hour dramas come to mind -- "Decoy" with Beverly Garland from the 1950s and "The Loner," a western created by Rod Serling.
I'm sure there are others.

John Schrank said...

Some of the half-hour length dramas I remember were the ones aimed at a family audience, including Lassie, Flipper, and Daktari. I think the more concise format of the television half-hour would suit certain dramas. It's too bad it's not really done anymore

The closest thing in more recent years were the shows they called "dramadies": Hooperman, The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd. Of course, I say "recent" but that was quite a while ago...!

Craig Gustafson said...

"The Star-Spangled Girl" didn't need rewriting to be awful. I've seen it onstage. And somebody else agrees with me:

NEIL SIMON: Walter Kerr gave me one of the best pieces of criticism I've ever had. In the first line of his review of "The Star-Spangled Girl," he said, "Neil Simon didn't have an idea for a play this year, but he wrote it anyway." That was exactly what happened.

And while I was researching the exact quote, I found this:

NEIL SIMON: "Rumors" was the most difficult play I ever wrote because not only did every moment of that play have to further the story, complicate it, and keep the characters in motion - *literal* motion, swinging in and out of doors - but the audience had to laugh at every *attempt* at humor. You don't have five minutes where two people can sit on a sofa and say, "What am I doing with my life, Jack? Am I crazy" Why don't I get out of this?" You can do that in a drama. You can't do it in a farce.

Except, he did it. I've seen the original touring company and several local productions of "Rumors." I've been in it twice and I've directed it. And every single time, when Glen and Cassie enter near the end of Act One, the play stops *dead* for five minutes while we get exposition about Glen and Cassie, who are irritable and irritating characters. It doesn't matter how good the actors are. There's no way around it, because it sets up how they behave in Act Two, but honest to god, the play comes to a halt like Wile E. Coyote slamming into a painted-on train tunnel.

Neil Simon wrote some of the best comedies in Broadway history - but his work was about 2/3 great to 1/3 mediocre. Which is fine. When George S. Kaufman is discussed (frequently, in my circle), people talk about "The Man Who Came to Dinner" and "You Can't Take It With You." Very seldom do they mention "Fancy Meeting You Again" or "The Small Hours." But they don't have to - there are enough gems to outshine the pieces of glass.

Touch-and-go Bullethead said...

I note that there was also a push for awhile, in the '60s and '70s, to make 90 minutes a standard length for dramas. This started with THE VIRGINIAN, which was followed by WAGON TRAIN in its penultimate year (it reverted back to an hour for the final season), THE NAME OF THE GAME, THE NBC MYSTERY MOVIE (home of Columbo, McCloud, Banacek, etc.), the James Stewart vehicle HAWKINS, and the TV version of SHAFT. THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN began as a monthly 90 minute show, but after two episodes it was converted in a weekly one hour one.

THE NBC MYSTERY MOVIE was even expanded to two hours for awhile. That, unfortunately, seldom meant more than more padding. I remember one episode in which Columbo needed to determine how long it would take to drive from the victim's home to the nearest telephone booth. This was actually an important plot point, but it could have been conveyed in a couple of lines of dialogue. Instead, we were shown him making the drive, almost in real time.

Jeff Boice said...

The one hour drama series debuted in 1957, the same year the Hollywood studios started producing for TV. The same crews that churned out all those B pictures (most of which were only an hour long) were now told to churn out 39 shows a year for TV.

BillS said...

I think one of last half hour dramas was "NYPD" from the late sixties. Lots of real locations and great opening music.

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

The similarity between "The Smith Family" and "My Three Sons" was no coincidence--Don Fedderson produced both shows as well as "Family Affair."

"The Smith Family" had two openings during its 18-month run on ABC in the early seventies. One emphasized suburbia and family life and was set to the old song "Primrose Lane" (sung by Mike Minor, Fedderson's son).

The other had what someone described as "Mannix"-like action shots of Fonda.

tavm said...

The most memorable thing about the filmed version of The Star-Spangled Girl: It introed Davy Jones' song "Girl" when he then performed on "The Brady Bunch". By the way, during the '90s, I saw a performance of that particular ep on "The Real Live Brady Bunch" tour at the Florida Theatre in Jacksonville. The loudest audience applause went for Jones as he performed that song in frond of them...

gottacook said...

And then there was ABC's brief foray into 45-minute programming for 4 months in the fall of 1969: the 90-minute block consisting of The Music Scene (variety show) and The New People (drama of college students stranded on island, with pilot episode by Rod Serling). I actually saw the premiere of the latter.

Erich617 said...

I watched the first episode of HACKS on HBO Max and was wondering your thoughts on it.

In particular, I am wondering about casting and writing the comedy segments.

Jean Smart, the lead, has had an amazing career, and I am glad to see her being cast in so many interesting roles. I don't recall you mentioning her on the blog, so I am not sure if your paths have ever crossed. It seems like talented people want to work with her and that she is not afraid of acknowledging her age, and I wanted to see if you could provide any insight.

That said, I am a little uncomfortable about casting somebody who doesn't have stand-up (or even improv) experience as a Joan Rivers-level comedian. I don't doubt Ms. Smart's ability as an actor, but I do think that achieving that level of success as a stand-up requires a very distinct voice and persona. I understand that casting a known comedienne could blur the lines, but I would like to hear her character's material done justice, and I think it's a slight to comedians to assume that an actor could.

Expanding on that, I have trouble with any shows that feature comedy. A good example is STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP. The premise was that Matthew Perry's character was a great writer who was going to save a struggling sketch show. I don't believe that the writers could have created sketches that lived up to that hype, but the ones in the show certainly didn't. 30 ROCK handled the matter differently by establishing that TGS, the show-within-a-show, was not good. I found that to work much better.

I know you did a pilot years ago about improv performers, and I am wondering what your experience was trying to create the material that they performed. In HACKS, we hear at least some of the material that the characters write, in addition to some back-and-forth that I think is supposed to show what they are capable of creatively. I enjoyed some of it but not enough that I thought the characters were undeniably funny. When they talked about a joke as being "good", and it didn't do much for me, I could only wonder if the writers genuinely thought the material was strong or if it was a hint that these characters are still a little out of touch.

E. Yarber said...

The original seasons of TV's GUNSMOKE relied heavily on the backlog of half-hour stories created for the radio series. Interestingly, switching to an hour made things easier for the main cast, since the extra time could often be spent establishing guest characters while delaying the entry of Matt or the others. In a show half the length, these key roles had to be a part of the action pretty quickly.

Lew Wasserman's MCA/Revue Productions, which became Universal, was relentless in squeezing the networks that needed their programs. One of NBC's biggest hits was the hour-long western WAGON TRAIN. When it became time to renew the series for its fifth season, MCA demanded that the network pay an exorbitant fee for a package of reruns of the show. When NBC executives balked, the studio promptly sold WAGON TRAIN to ABC, which was struggling to establish popular programs. As the NBC suits struggled to process this blow, the MCA reps assured them, "Don't worry... we're developing an even BETTER show called THE VIRGINIAN. It'll be NINETY minutes, and you can have IT instead!"

Thus MCA wedged NBC into switching an established hour show for a 90-minute newcomer. After a season, they managed to convince ABC that WAGON TRAIN would work better in an hour and a half as well, though the smaller network returned the program to its original format after a season. WAGON TRAIN was almost played out by then and only lasted one more year.

Buttermilk Sky said...

Several people mentioned Rod Serling. Of course TWILIGHT ZONE was one of the classic half-hour dramas. If Serling was pressured to pad it out to an hour, I'm glad he resisted.

Was "Adventures In Paradise" at all inspired by Noel Coward's PRIVATE LIVES? The divorced couple with new partners and even the adjoining balconies where they meet?

Wallis Lane said...

Re half-hour dramas, there was also THE TWILIGHT ZONE, which always managed to tell its gripping stories in a tight half hour, with very little being unnecessary and superfluous. They then made the misguided decision one season to increase the time to an hour, and the quality suffered, with a lot of obvious padding added to episodes that could easily have been done in half the time.

Ere I Saw Elba said...


I've learned a lot from your blog over the years, including the concept of show runner, which I had not been aware of before. In practical terms, is there a hierarchy on a show set from show runner, director, writer(s), producer, actor?

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

...and I saw the last program of "The Music Scene" in January 1970. David Steinberg was the host, and the closing shot was of two custodians with large brooms approaching the camera while sweeping up an empty stage. What a great way to end a show!

Touch-and-go Bullethead said...

Re: E. Yarber's comments on GUNSMOKE, I note that in its last few seasons it was practically an anthology show, in which the focus was on the guest stars, and the regular cast sometimes made merely token appearances. I suspect that, in this series that ran for twenty years, the writers simply ran out of ideas for Matt, Kitty, and Doc (though, in the case of Doc, his reduced role may have been made necessitated by Milburn Stone's failing health).

An interesting quirk in these later episodes is that often Festus, the comic relief sidekick, had a bigger role than the two-fisted, quick-drawing hero Matt. Perhaps this was a matter of James Arness having enough clout by this point to insist on a short work week, but I wonder if it was because Festus was the easier character to insert into someone else's story. Viewers would have expected Matt to solve all the problems, but Festus could appear in a couple of scenes, observe what was going on, make a comment or two, and then leave without anyone expecting him to effect the plot.

Mike Bloodworth said...

Re: Not getting the laugh. I've told this story before, but it fits here. At Second City I wrote a blackout that wasn't hilarious but it got acceptable laughs. Then one night the girl that was normally in the scene couldn't make it. The girl that filled in for her had such a thick accent you couldn't hear the punchline and the bit completely died.

This is not an official F.Q., but I'm still curious. Did the producers of "Cheers" cast Bebe Neuwirth knowing she was hot and then made her mousey? Or did they hire her because they thought she was mousey and discovered she was hot? I ask because I make an effort to watch "Adventures in Paradise" every time it's on because Bebe looks so damn good in that black swimsuit.

I can't remember who it was, but some celebrity told the story that one time he was playing in some for charity baseball game and Vin Scully did the play-by-play. He said that one of his most prised possessions is the tape of that call.


Touch-and-go Bullethead said...

Okay, this is the most trivial bit of nit-picking anyone will ever post here, but I feel I must correct Jeff Alexander's observation that Pauline Kael "NEVER discussed TV movies." She did do so at least once, using her NEW YORKER column to review THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MISS JANE PITTMAN.

powers said...

For some reason while Cheyenne,Maverick,Sugar Foot,and Bronco were 60-minute Warner Brothers TV westerns; Lawman and Colt.45 were 30-minutes even though they were also WB TV westerns.

The Green Hornet, T.H.E. Cat, The Rat Patrol,The Silent Force, The Rebel,were all examples of dramatic shows that had the thirty minute format.
Saturday morning live action sci~fi shows that also ran in the 30-minute format were:Ark II,Space Academy,Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future,and Hypernauts.

So yes, you can do dramatic TV shows within a half-hour time span.

However, I cannot imagine the original Star Trek or Mission:Impossible confined to a mere thirty minutes in order to unfold their complex stories.

E. Yarber said...

When you think of shows that went on too long, GUNSMOKE's shift away from a formula with the main cast made it more interesting as it went along.

Im the final season, it could still present an episode like "The Fires of Ignorance" that was insightful enough to win the National Education Award, which is pretty high stuff for a program winding down.

Chris said...

FQ: Any comment on the firing of Glenn Gordon Caron

Barry Traylor said...

Ken, my favorite GUNSMOKE episodes are the early half hour ones when I believe many were based on the radio GUNSMKE.

Andrew said...

Speaking of Neil Simon, it was on this blog that I first heard about The Heartbreak Kid. I never would have watched it otherwise. Thanks, Ken!

Because Charles Grodin just passed away, this video of him on Carson is making the rounds. One of the funniest things I've seen in a long time:

Greg Ehrbar said...

The decision to expand to an hour was indeed financial, and also because a solid one-hour hit could sustain viewers where even a major half-hour could not.

It's interesting that The Virginian is mentioned because it was a ratings powerhouse as counterprogramming to Batman and Lost in Space, which quite often were neck-in-neck from week to week. Sometimes Lost in Space would win the hour, but most of the time, it would get the channel change for the second hour after Batman was over. However, The Virginian was very strong throughout at 90 minutes and could sometimes keep its audience for the third half-hour. The pattern must have inspired the 90-minute shows that followed -- High Chapparal was another.

1972's New Scooby-Doo Movies (the one with guest stars like Sonny & Cher and Phyllis Diller) was the first TV cartoon to sustain one hour with a single storyline rather than multiple segments and was successful. But after a couple of years it must not have held enough viewers for the full hour, because CBS let the contract lapse and Hanna-Barbera took the franchise to ABC.

ABC's Scooby-Doo program blocks were also 60 to 90 minutes, but the individual cartoons went back to being 15- or 30-minute segments. No 60-minute, single-story continuous animated series appeared again on network television. Even the current revival series, Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? is a half-hour.

Mark said...

That said, I am a little uncomfortable about casting somebody who doesn't have stand-up (or even improv) experience as a Joan Rivers-level comedian

Why? Alan Alda played a doctor successfully on TV for years without any medical experience. Jean Smart is an actor, and actors are supposed to be able to play people who have very different backgrounds than their own.

I’m anxious to see Hacks because I think Smart is a great performer. When “Designing Women” fall apart after the fifth season, I firmly believe it was more due to Smart’s departure than Delta Burke’s. I’m going to wait until all the episodes have dropped on HBO Max to subscribe.

Philly Cinephile said...

I've been re-watching "Designing Women" on Antenna TV, where they started airing the sixth season, so Mark's post caught my eye.

I agree that the impact of Jean Smart's departure tends to be overlooked. I think the show could have survived losing either Delta Burke or Jean Smart, but not both. However, the real issue was the writing. Julia Duffy is a talented actress, but her character was unplayable as written. Allison Sugarbaker was supposed to be one of the designing women, but she was given an adversarial relationship with every other character on the show. Instead of developing the relationship between Allison and the others, and integrating the character into the fold, the writers saddled her with a ridiculous explanation for her behavior -- "obnoxious personality disorder" -- and kept her as an outsider. It's not surprising that Duffy bolted after one season.

Oddly enough, the Duffy season was the highest rated season of the series' entire run.

By the time Judith Ivey joined the show, the writing had become shockingly bad, to the point where the series played like a parody of a bad sitcom. Also, the writers often placed the characters of Julia and Mary Jo at odds with each other, which I find interesting. (I have absolutely no evidence of this, but I have long suspected that Annie Potts was the "problem child" on that set.)

Anonymous said...

Morning Ken,
Just caught the first few episodes of Hacks starring Jean Smart, really loving it. Second episode they're discussing jokes, Jean Smart's character points out something unique, they have to make you laugh. Thought you might enjoy it if you haven't already come across it. cheers, Dave.

Skeptic said...

I too, would like Ken to comment on the Neuwirth "mousy"/"hot" question - though if he was not privy to the casting decision, perhaps he could say who was involved with that great move.

Philly Cinephile said...

Building on the Neuwirth question, I've often wondered about the casting process, particularly when an actor's physicality doesn't match the character. In the case of Neuwirth, it's hard to imagine that a "Lilith" would have a dance-honed body. Another example comes from a 1980s show, THE DAYS AND NIGHTS OF MOLLY DODD. David Strathairn played the socially awkward and very introverted Moss. Eventually, Moss and Molly sleep together, and Strathairn appeared shirtless. It was jarring for me because Strathairn had a very buff gym body that seemed at odds with the character he was playing.

In both cases, the actors were perfect in the roles, but I do wonder if an actor can be considered too attractive for a role.

Also, what are the expectations of actors in terms of maintaining a certain look? For example, if George Wendt decided that he wanted to drop some weight, would he have been discouraged from doing so? Or would the writers have embraced a slimmed-down Norm?

Stephen Robinson said...

Lilith first appears as Frasier’s comically bad date. I think Neuwirth nailed the humorless Lilith and when she returned, she was able to deliver as someone exceptionally attractive when she let down her hair. IIRC, though, the second appearance wasn’t guaranteed when she was cast.

Neuwirth’s actual physical attributes weren’t immediately obvious under Lilith’s suit. Give it up to costuming.

Stephen Robinson said...

Re: Studio 60. I think that was a disaster bc a serious show about a comedy series is just not a great idea. The characters all behaved as if they were still in the West Wing rather than a TV studio.

I’ve read backstage accounts of SNL and while serious events occur, there’s also a lot of wry humor and potential for great satire.

30 Rock also stopped really being about a sketch comedy show, per se, as Jack Donaughey became the breakout character.

Big Ray said...

Definitely go with the Vin Scully call. Flash forward ten years and the choices would be a Joe Davis call and the ball. I'd take the ball.

Mike Doran said...


I've often read of how close friends of Wally Cox used to marvel at the fact that he had a muscular build: Tony Randall said that Cox " ... was built like a small gorilla."
On the job, Cox purposely wore ill-fitting rack suits, to make himself seem smaller than he actually was, in service of his "meek" persona.
If you're my age, you may remember Wally Cox's commercials for a detergent, which ended with Wally putting the detergent box in a crook in his arm, as though flexing a muscle.
Cox usually wore his "uniform" (the rack suit) when he did this, but once he actually did the flex in a T-shirt, showing considerable bicep - and promptly lost the account.

Some years back, I mentioned in a comment here that the first time I saw Bebe Neuwirth on TV, she was playing a member of a dance troupe on The Edge Of Night.
She never had dialogue; usually she was seen in rehearsals for maybe seconds at a time, while the plot was going on in front of the troupe.
This was during the summer of 1981.
Ultimately, the Whitney Dance Company got most of a half-hour episode to show a "performance"; it was the only time the dancers received cast billing on the show - and that's how we know that it was Bebe Neuwirth among the dancers.
And sometimes, I make myself bug-eyed trying to spot Bebe Neuwirth among the dancers on Edge Of Night YouTubes - mainly without success, but I always live in hope ...

Barry Rivadue said...

Late to the party but Star Spangled Girl was not a TV movie.