Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Law & Order Repeat Offenders

Before she played the role of aggressive SVU DA Casey Novak, Diane Neal was sitting on the opposite side of the table.

She played the remorseless murder/rapist Amelia Chase whose wild bachelorette party ended in the murder of the male stripper.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Failure to Launch...

In the late 1970's, Paramount found that its previously maligned franchise Star Trek was booming. Demand for the show's reruns, which had been purchased as part of its Desilu deal, was huge. A growing cult of fans had made the show successful, so Paramount saw an opportunity. It had previously attempted to startup a television network in the 1950's that had eventually failed to capture an audience. The huge success that Paramount was having in network television at the time made the studio think that it should try starting up a network again. And why not use its hottest property to launch that network? Thus the Paramount Television Service was born.

The network would launch with a reboot of Star Trek called Star Trek: Phase II. It would star most of the original cast (Leonard Nimoy wasn't interested) and would provide PTS with a recognizable program right off the bat. The network soon ran into trouble; Star Trek was proving to be an issue because of its hefty cost and production disagreements. It soon became apparent that the network wasn't going to work out. 

Star Trek: Phase II became Star Trek: The Motion Picture, with Leonard Nimoy rejoining the cast and its original failure at NBC all but forgotten.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Simpsons Return to DVD!

Temporary Layoffs Salutes John Heard, 1945 - 2017

Comic Con Geekend: The Original Janeway

When Paramount announced the launch of its newest Star Trek television show back in 1994, it planned to introduce a revolutionary idea into the franchise- a female captain. Captain Janeway would, of course, be played by Genevieve Bujold. Wait, what?

Yes, the character of Captain Janeway was originally supposed to be played by the French Canadian dramatic actress who had dabbled in Hollywood films. Apparently Ms. Bujold had thought Voyager was a different sort of dramatic show. She struggled to speak the Treknobabble and often rolled her eyes at the end of each take. Paramount and Bujold mutually agreed that it wasn't working out. Production was halted and the lead role was recast with Kate Mulgrew.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Comic Con Geekend: ABC Takes Out Batman

When ABC canceled Batman, most of Hollywood was in shock. Why would they cancel such a successful show? As it turned out, Batman was the most expensive show on ABC's lineup, and the network was looking to cut its programming budget. All was not lost, however, because NBC was eager and willing to pick the show up. Unfortunately, an overzealous Fox staffer had already had the sets dismantled. (Fox had produced the show for ABC.) When NBC found out that it would have to rebuild the expensive sets, they decided not to bring the show back. ABC and a random staffer had succeeded to do what no villain was ever able to do; they took out Batman.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Comic Con Geekend: A Holiday Not So Special

It became a legendary disaster; 1978's Star Wars Holiday Special was a huge letdown after the stratospheric success of 1977's Star Wars. How could George Lucas attach his name to such a catastrophic mess? What was CBS thinking? How did this get made? The origins of the Star Wars Holiday Special can be traced back to the production of Star Wars itself.

It was no secret that George Lucas was sinking practically every penny he had into his bizarre space film that nobody at Twentieth Century Fox thought would be successful. Why would they sink money into a film they didn't understand? They wanted to continue their relationship with George Lucas, who was considered to be one of Hollywood's next big creative forces. If they had to lose some money on his ridiculous Star film, then so be it. They weren't completely crazy, however; they would limit their losses. The studio's tight purse strings forced Lucas to beat the bushes for any and all sources of cash. It was then that he approached CBS with a proposition.

He offered CBS the option to produce a special based on his upcoming film in exchange for some non-refundable upfront cash that he planned to use to produce his movie. Such a deal was not unheard of at the time. The networks then and now often write checks just to get first crack at an upcoming project or script. They may never produce anything from such an agreement, but at least they can tie up the option, keeping it out of another network's clutches and in their back pocket in case they end up with a hot property on their hands. CBS didn't fully understand what Star Wars was about, but for a couple hundred thousand dollars they could make sure that neither NBC nor ABC could get their hands on it. They agreed and quickly signed a deal with George Lucas.

It was a sign of CBS' non-confidence in the success of the film that they didn't choose to produce a special that could air alongside the film's premiere. If they had, the show probably would have been different from what ended up airing on TV. George Lucas had even forgotten about the contract he signed by the time the network approached him to get its special. He tried everything he could to get out of it; he had enough money by this time to return CBS' money plus a sizable bonus. CBS didn't want his money; it wanted its special. George Lucas reluctantly agreed, but he wanted no part of it. He instructed his organization to help CBS, but without bothering him. Thus began a series of events that led to the legendary debacle. The first viewing might have disappointed fans, but it was still a ratings bonanza for the network. George Lucas immediately wrote a huge check to ensure that the special would never air again and CBS' gained a huge return on its investment.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Comic Con Geekend: Lucy Loves Spock!

Lucille Ball bought Gene Roddenberry's idea for Star Trek to be produced by her Desilu Studios, reportedly mistaking it for a non-space military show. Despite her misunderstanding, Lucy embraced the show and its loftier ideas. When NBC originally passed on the show after seeing the pilot, she fought to get it on the schedule and later overrode her entire board of directors when they wanted to cancel the show themselves. Lucy's strong belief in the show led not only to it becoming a cult classic, but also to the billion dollar franchise it is today.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Moneymooners!

Jackie Gleason produced, created, wrote and starred in his classic television show The Honeymooners. During the original run of the show, Jackie was the king, both on the set and when it came to getting paid. In the end, however, he would not be the actor who would profit most from the show. That honor goes to Audrey Meadows, who played his frustrated wife.

How did this happen? Audrey enlisted her lawyer brother to negotiate her contract and he convinced her to accept a lower paycheck in exchange for royalties from future use of the show. It was a revolutionary idea at the time and virtually unheard of. The studio eagerly agreed; after all, who would want to watch any television show more than once? In fact, the studio thought it was ripping off this hayseed lawyer and his gullible sister. Of course, Audrey would get the final laugh. While the other actors had to watch the studio make millions off of the show long after their original hefty checks had been spent, Audrey sat back and watched the money roll in. In the end, Audrey made millions more off of the show than Gleason did, all because her brother saw the future value of the show when nobody else did.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Beyond the Nut Tree?

What was Leslie Nielsen doing in an advertisement for a local UHF station back when that meant something?

What was "News Sat 40?" Why was it important that it could broadcast beyond the Nut Tree? What is the Nut Tree?

Not everyone will understand any of this, but some people will. Today's post is for them.