Friday, July 17, 2020

Today in TV: DISNEYLAND Opens!

In the early days of television, the movie studios saw TV as an enemy. At that time, the networks had to produce their own programming because the established movie studios wouldn't do it for them.

ABC, the weakest of the big three at the time, aggressively sought to partner with a movie studio. It would put them on the map and signal to the world that the network meant business. Unfortunately, there weren't any takers- until Walt Disney approached them with a proposition; invest in his "crazy" idea called "Disneyland" and he would produce a weekly show for them. They weren't interested in a theme park, but they were willing to invest if Walt created a show for them. The agreement was reached and ABC gained instant credibility. Walt Disney gained a weekly program where he could promote the theme park he was building in Anaheim and money to begin construction.

When it came time to produce the special that would introduce Disneyland, ABC put all hands on deck to figure out how accomplish the Herculean task of covering such a huge event spread out over 160 acres in a working theme park. (Whatever that entailed.) The A-Team was up to the task and requisitioned the miles of cabling, hundreds of cameras and all the various other equipment needed from around the country. The cost would be staggering.

The rewards, however, would be staggering. The also-ran network that had gained a bit of credibility by luring Walt Disney was successful beyond its wildest dreams. The 90 minute live broadcast crushed the competition, attracting a record audience of over 90 million viewers who watched on virtually every television in existence at the time. Neither CBS nor NBC had ever attracted such numbers, even combined. The live special put both Disneyland and ABC on the map. The historic broadcast took place on July 17, 1955- exactly 60 years ago.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Simply Mad About The Simpsons!

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