Archive | January, 2011

MERV TO SAJAK TO LETTERMAN

9 Jan

22 years ago, on Monday, January 9, 1989 Pat Sajak’s self-titled late night talk show premiered on CBS. It was yet another try by the network to put a dent into Johnny Carson’s ratings.

Billboard in Los Angeles promoting "The Pat Sajak Show" circa 1989.

The Pat Sajak Show” was a traditional late night talk show with bandleader Tom Scott and announcer/sidekick Dan Miller, who Sajak had worked with on news broadcasts in Memphis in the 1970s.

Besides competition from “The King of Late Night,” Johnny Carson, Sajak also had to contend with Arsenio Hall, whose own late night talk show had debuted just six days earlier. With Carson holding on to his older, loyal audience and Hall pulling in a younger, hipper audience, there just weren’t enough viewers tuning in to Sajak.

The Pat Sajak Show” ran for only 15 months and went off the air in April 1990.

IT’S A LATE NIGHT DAY

9 Jan

16 years ago tonight, on Monday, January 9, 1995 “The Late Late Show” with host Tom Snyder premiered after David Letterman’s “Late Show” on CBS’s late night lineup.  It would make Snyder the first and only person ever to follow both Johnny Carson and David Letterman on the late night schedule.               

1970s bumper sticker for "Tomorrow" (Between Tonight and Today).

Tom Snyder previously hosted “Tomorrow” (aka “The Tomorrow Show”) on NBC from October 1973 until January 1982. It aired right after Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show.” Both “Tomorrow” and Snyder’s version of “The Late Late Show” were unlike today’s post-11:30 talk shows. They had no audience and no band.  They were talk shows, with the emphasis on TALK, although “Tomorrow” expanded its format in its later years. But let’s not talk about that disaster.

Tomorrow” went off the air in 1982 partly to make room for “Late Night with David Letterman.” Perhaps that’s why Letterman selected Snyder to host the new program slated to run after his “Late Show” in 1995. “The Late Late Show” was, and still is, produced by Letterman’s company Worldwide Pants.

Snyder would host “The Late Late Show” until March 1999, when he was replaced by Craig Kilborn. Kilborn left the show in August 2004 and current host Craig Ferguson took over in January 2005.

CBS must have picked January 8th to premiere “The Late Late Show” because the network had had such good luck with the date 6 years earlier. That was when “The Pat Sajak Show” hit TV screens across America.

< AWESOME DAY AT 30 ROCK

8 Jan

34 years ago today, on Saturday, January 8, 1977 I had an awesome day at 30 Rock. Not the show… the building. As I did on most Saturdays during high school I went to the RCA Building (now the G.E. Building) in Manhattan, home of NBC. On this Saturday there was no live edition of “Saturday Night Live,” so I was there for a taping of the new game show “Shoot for the Stars,” with host Geoff Edwards.

Unused ticket for “Shoot for the Stars” from January 8, 1977.

 The show had just premiered on NBC five days earlier and I already had tickets. “Shoot for the Stars” would not last long however; it ran for only nine months.

Before the taping I took the NBC Studio Tour – a tour I had taken many times before, and could probably have led that day. While hanging out in the NBC lobby, between the tour and the taping, I managed to meet two of the decade’s biggest TV stars and get their autographs.

My tickets to “Shoot for the Stars” arrived inside this card, which I then used to collect my celebrity autographs.

First I spotted Dan Aykroyd looking in the windows of the stores in the RCA Building lobby. He was sloppily dressed and wore a cap pulled down over his eyes, but I could always spot a celebrity from a mile away.

Dan Aykroyd autograph signed at 30 Rock on January 8, 1977.

When I asked for his autograph I only had a pencil handy, so Aykroyd’s signature has faded a bit over the years. What I love is that he wrote “SAT NITE” beneath his name… perhaps so that years later I would be reminded who this “Dan Aykroyd” person was. But even if his career had ended that day, I could never have forgotten this incredibly talented man.

Mike Farrell autograph signed at 30 Rock on January 8, 1977.

A short time later I saw Mike Farrell from “M*A*S*H” exit the studio elevators. “M*A*S*H” was the # 4 primetime series that season, so Farrell was very well-known. He was also nice enough to sign an autograph, adding his own message of “Peace!”

After meeting those two stars I wanted to stand in the lobby of 30 Rock for the rest of the day, just to see who else might pass through. I didn’t though. I went home with the rich memory of my awesome day at 30 Rock.

< JACKPOT!

7 Jan

37 years ago today, on Monday, January 7, 1974, the game show “Jackpot!” with host Geoff Edwards, premiered on NBC’s daytime lineup  at 12noon (11am Central Time). 

Unused ticket for “Jackpot!” from September 28, 1974.

Contestants stood on risers and would read riddles to another contestant who was the ‘king of the hill.” The “king” (or “queen”) would select a contestant and that person would reveal the value of their riddle before reading it. If the riddle was answered correctly, the dollar amount would be added to the show’s jackpot (get it?). One contestant was holding the JACKPOT riddle and that’s how you won the prize money. If you got that one right, the two contestants would split the jackpot.

Geoff Edwards autograph signed on September 28, 1974.

When the show failed to win a big audience, they replaced the riddles with regular questions. But that wasn’t enough, and “Jackpot!” was cancelled in September 1975, after less than two years.

%d bloggers like this: