July 27, 2019

RUSSI TAYLOR DEAD AT 75



You can read the full story here.


Best known as the permanent voice of Minnie Mouse since 1986 as well as Donald Duck’s nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie since 1987. Along with their portrayal in various media, she played Minnie in Mickey Mouse Works, House of Mouse and Mickey Mouse (2103) and Huey, Dewey and Louie in DuckTales (1987), Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue and Mickey Mouse (2013).

She also had a long career on Saturday mornings. Her various roles included Pebbles Flintstone and Cavemouse in The Flintstone Comedy Show; Barbie Winslow in Heathcliff (1981); Pac-Baby in Pac-Man; Hasty and Leota in episodes of ABC Weekend Specials; Gonzo, Robin and Captain Blackwig the Blue Pirette in Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies; Rex’s owner in the “Chocolate Fever” episode of CBS Storybreak; Hilda Brewski in an episode of The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo; Amber the Fairie Dragon in an episode of Dungeons & Dragons; Grover’s Mommy in Five Sesame Street Stories; Beehonie and Donna in an episode of Kissyfur; Ralphie in Little Clowns of Happytown; Melissa, Candy and Chinook Puppy in episodes of Pound Puppies (1986); a girl in an episode of Yogi’s Treasure Hunt; Lana Lang in an episode of Superman (1988); Laura in an episode of The Smurfs; Webby Vanderquack in DuckTales and in an episode of Raw Toonage; a Louisiana Boy in an episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987); Ethalyn, Emmadryl and Madame Placebo in episodes of Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears; a woman in an episode of Disney’s Aladdin; a fairy and a puppet in an episode of The Lion King’s Timon & Pumbaa; kids and voices in The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat; a tour guide in an episode of The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries; Beck and an old lady in episodes of Buzz Lightyear of Star Command; Clara Cluck in Mickey Mouse Works and House of Mouse, where she also played Fairy Godmother and Fauna; Fauna and Winifred in episodes of Sofia the First; Lorbs, Florina and Lorb Guard in episodes of Tangled: The Series; and Young Donald in an episode of DuckTales (2017).

She also provided additional voices in The Little Rascals, Laverne & Shirley with Special Guest Star the Fonz, The Littles, Saturday Supercade, Jim Henson’s Little Muppet Monsters, The Smurfs, Dink the Little Dinosaur, Rick Moranis in Gravedale High, TaleSpin, Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa, What a Mess and Star vs. the Forces of Evil.

Taylor made a rare live cameo appearance in the 1984 CBS Saturday morning preview special Saturday’s The Place in a recording booth with some of her Muppet Babies co-stars.




























60TH ANNIVERSARIES



CBS Saturday News with Robert Trout.



55TH ANNIVERSARIES






No intro available for Mister Mayor starring Bob Keeshan.

BRAINS & BRAWN


BRAINS & BRAWN
(NBC, July 10-October 16, 1993)

NBC Productions




MAIN CAST:
Danielle Harris – Co-Host
Tatyana M. Ali – Co-Host




            Brains and Brawn was an NBC game show adapted from a similar European game show created by Pierre Bellemare. Hosted by Fred Davis and Jack Lescoulie, the game pitted two teams against each other comprised of an expert (representing the “brains”) and a professional athlete (representing the “brawn) for a chance to win prizes worth up to $30,000. The “brains” would answer questions on various topics while the “brawn” engaged in a variety of physical challenges for a total of five rounds. The concept didn’t really catch on with audiences and the show only ran from September13 to December 27 in 1958.



            A mere 35 years later, NBC Productions decided to try it again with the revival Brains & Brawn. This time around, the teams were comprised of three teenagers led by a celebrity captain. The game was broken up into six different rounds. The first round was always the “2-Minute Drill”, where each contestant had to answer as many multiple-choice questions correctly as possible within two minutes by entering their choices into a computer at a podium where they stood. The final round was an obstacle course where the team with the most points was given a head start. Both teams had to traverse one member at a time through several different obstacles to get to the finish line first. They included a tire run, a fire escape ladder on a building facade, sliding down to an air cushion, using an overhead bar to cross over a pit, shoot up a balance beam to a zip line, and riding in a three-seat pedal-driven buggy for a one-lap race.



            In between were a variety of physical and mental games. Amongst them was “Hockey”, which saw players trying to score goals against their opponents’ goalie from a stationary position within 30 seconds; “Match-Up”, where both teams attempted to correctly match up a list of items to a list down the center of a magnetic board (such as matching a star’s name to their TV show title); “Shoot to Kill”, where a team tries to score as many baskets as possible in 30 seconds while a member of the opposing team attempts to block each shot; “Volleyball”, a standard 3-minute volleyball game where teammates were connected together with a bungee cord and played blind over a covered net; “Oddity”, where the teams had to select what item did not belong in a row with the other items presented; and “Swing Shot”, where a team had to shoot their balls through as many holes as possible in 30 second while a member of the opposing team swung on a pendulum in front of them to attempt to block. The team who earned the most points from every challenge earned a one-second head start in the Obstacle Course for every 10 points they led by.



            Brains & Brawn debuted on NBC on July 10, 1993 as part of their Teen NBC line-up. Hosting duties were given to Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who had starred in the show that inspired NBC to focus their weekend programming on teens, Saved by the Bell. His original co-host for the first half of the show’s run was Roseannes Danielle Harris until she was replaced by The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s Tatyana M. Ali for the remainder. Ali had appeared previously as a team captain during Harris’ tenure, and was at the time also hosting Name Your Adventure with another Bell alum, Mario Lopez. It was filmed outdoors on the Universal Studios backlot; specifically, in Courthouse Square (best known from the Back to the Future trilogy). The challenge sets were designed by Josee Lemonnier and Ron Olsen, with music composed by Scott Gale and Rich Eames. The show fared about as well as its 1950s counterpart and was cancelled after only 15 weeks.

July 20, 2019

50TH ANNIVERSARIES


*This intro was reused for The Archie Comedy Hour with some slight modifications.















45TH ANNIVERSARIES














CHOOSE UP SIDES


CHOOSE UP SIDES
(CBS, November 2-12, 1953
NBC, January 7-March 31, 1956)

Goodson-Todman Productions




MAIN CAST:
Bob Kennedy (pilot) & Dean Miller – Host (CBS)
Gene Rayburn – Host (NBC)
Bob Pfeiffer – Announcer (CBS)
Don Pardo (NBC) – Announcer, Mr. Mischief
Tommy Tompkins – Team Captain
Roger Peterson – Team Captain




            Choose Up Sides was a children’s game show created by the game show powerhouse team of Mark Goodson and Bill Todman and was the only show of theirs made specifically for that demographic. It was largely based on their earlier 1950 show, Beat the Clock, where contestants would try to perform a crazy stunt (like trying to get a bag off of their person without laying down or using their hands, or stacking paper cups with their mouths); however, instead of racing against a clock they were competing against other contestants. Clock stunt-designers Frank Wayne and Bob Howard were retained to do the same for Choose.

The CBS set.

            There were two versions of the show. Initially, Goodson-Todman Productions pitched the show to CBS with a pilot that had Bob Kennedy hosting. CBS picked it up with Dean Miller taking over the hosting duties and Bob Pfeiffer announcing but decided not to broadcast it nationally. Instead, it was aired locally in New York City from November 2-12, 1953. In 1956 NBC acquired a retooled version of the show hosted by Gene Rayburn and announced by Don Pardo.

Host Gene Rayburn with a player from the Bronco Busters.

            On both versions, the audience of children was divided up into two groups: “Space Cadets” and “Bronco Busters” (“Space Rangers” and “Cowboys” on the CBS version), with a team of four players in front (usually three boys and a girl).  On the CBS version, one kid from each team would compete in a stunt and the winner would get to toss two rings at a ring-toss board while the loser would only toss one. Each toss would net them a marked score, with a bonus ten points awarded to the team hit one of three “magic numbers” in their scoring. The kid who threw the “magic number” ring would also win a special prize. This pattern would continue until the show ran out of time. All the kids were given a “sportsmanship prize” while the winning team and several home viewers selected from a pool of write-ins were given a grand prize.

Mr. Mischief.

            The NBC version had adult team captains (Tommy Tompkins & Roger Peterson) dressed up in outfits corresponding to their team names who aided setting up for the stunts. Before each stunt, one of the players would pull out a random postcard from a kid at home that would win a prize along with the winning team. Stunts included any number of silly competitions including putting on an entire pile of clothing first, moving a bop bag clown around the stage with their head, or blowing sheets of paper into a basket. The winner of a stunt won 100 points for their team. The losing player was introduced to Mr. Mischief (Pardo doing a falsetto), a giant limited-movement wall puppet that would supply a timed stunt in which the player could earn 50 points for their team. Originally a whistle would signal the end of Mr. Mischief’s stunt, but it was later replaced by a balloon that would inflate in his mouth until it burst. Mr. Mischief also initiated a “Super Duper Doo” stunt where an audience member chosen by whose birthday was closest to an announced date would perform a stunt for a chance to win a grand prize at the end of a four-week period. Like the CBS version, the losing team was given a “sportsmanship award”.

The captain of the Space Cadets team.

            Choose Up Sides debuted on NBC on January 7, 1956 and ran for 13 weeks until March 31 when it was ultimately cancelled. Rayburn would go on to have a long association with Goodson-Todman, most notably helming their Match Game program from the 60s through the 80s. Pardo would become a prolific announcer, most well-known for his tenure on Saturday Night Live from its debut in 1975 until his death in 2014. Because of network practices of wiping at the time—deleting content from expensive recording media for reuse to save money and storage space—the status of the full show is currently unknown even though, Goodson-Todman did keep an archive of all their programs which is currently owned by Freemantle Media. At least five episodes of the NBC run and the CBS pilot have aired on Game Show Network, the first NBC episode on Buzzr, and several are available for viewing online.

July 13, 2019

40TH ANNIVERSARIES















35TH ANNIVERSARIES





*Spanish intro.












*Actual intro unavailable.

WHEEL 2000


WHEEL 2000
(CBS, September 13, 1997-Februay 7, 1998)

Scott Sternberg Productions, Columbia TriStar Television




MAIN CAST:
David Sidoni – Host
Tanika Ray – Cyber Lucy




            Wheel 2000, also known as Wheel of Fortune 2000, was a children’s spin-off of the primetime game show Wheel of Fortune

Chuck Woolery in front of a vertical wheel on the set of Shopper's Bazaar.

            Wheel of Fortune was created by television personality Merv Griffin through his production company Merv Griffin Enterprises. The show was inspired by two things: long car trips in his childhood where he would pass the time with his sister playing hangman, and being drawn to roulette wheels in casinos. Griffin pitched the show to Lin Bolen, then-head of NBC’s daytime programming, who greenlit the idea so long as Griffin added a shopping element. In 1973, Griffin created the pilot for Shopper’s Bazaar with Chuck Woolery as host. Two more pilots tweaking the gameplay were filmed under the name Wheel of Fortune, hosted by Edd Byrnes, until the show was finally picked up in 1974 with Woolery again hosting and Susan Stafford as hostess. A few years in they would be replaced by Pat Sajak and Vanna White, respectively.

Publicity shot of Woolery and Stafford on the Wheel of Fortune set.

Wheel debuted on NBC on January 6, 1975. It featured three contestants competing against each other to solve a themed word puzzle (person, place, thing, phrase, etc.) by gradually filling in letters and calling out the solution once they knew it. They each took turns spinning a wheel carved up into 24 sections comprised different money amounts or prizes (some changed each round), a “lose a turn” and two “bankrupt” spaces. A correct letter guess netted the contestant whatever prize the wheel landed on; with money amounts being multiplied by however many of the letter appeared in the puzzle. Vowels had to be purchased from their accumulated dollar amount during their turn. A contestant’s turn was over once they landed on one of the bad spaces or made an incorrect guess.

Pat Sajak and contestants on a themed dressing of the Wheel set.

Initially, winners of a round were allowed to spend their winnings on various prizes displayed on the stage, but that was dropped by the end of the 80s. The ultimate winner would play a bonus round where they blindly selected a prize, were spotted the letters R-S-T-L-N and E, and had to provide three more consonants and a vowel. If they were able to successfully guess the puzzle, they won the prize they had selected. While the rules, format, set and even its broadcast network may have changed over the years, the basic gameplay of the show has remained the same and the show has become a worldwide franchise with over forty international adaptations.

The Wheel 2000 set.

In 1997, Scott Sternberg developed a kid’s version of the show for American Saturday morning television (a German version, Kinder-Glücksrad, aired in 1992). The basic format remained the same, where kids aged 10-15 years would spin a wheel and guess a letter. However, instead of money, they played purely for points and prizes (won on either the wheel or awarded to the winner of the round). Each round, one of the contestants in succession would get to choose the puzzle’s category from an option of three. The categories were similar to the adult version, but used “hipper” designations like “Globetrotter” (geography), “Lab Test” (science), “Book Soup” (literature), “Above & Below” (stuff found above and below the Earth), and “Space Case” (outer space), amongst others.

Publicity shot of David Sidoni.


Along with a more manic and “kid-friendly” set, “lose a turn” was renamed the “Loser” spot (which netted the player that landed on it a “Big L” gesture from the hosts) and “bankrupt” became “The Creature”. “The Creature” caused the wheel to rise, belch smoke, and an unseen creature would “eat” that player’s points (in the first two pilot recordings, the Creature actually “ate” the player out of the remainder of the round). There was also a spot marked “www.wheel2000.com”, which allowed a player at home who registered on the site to win a prize, and a special spot which allowed a player to play a stunt (like sending balls down a tube system and guessing what color of a roulette wheel they’d land on) to earn three extra letters to fill in the puzzle. The stunts were only included in the first round; for the remainder of the game, they were replaced with large 250-point spots. The bonus round was the same as in the adult version, except with only two prizes to choose from instead of five.


Cyber Lucy with the category choices.


Wheel 2000 debuted on CBS on September 13, 1997, and then aired a month later on Game Show Network. David Sidoni served as the show’s host. However, the hostess was decidedly different than the adult version. Instead of an actual person, a real-time computer-generated character known as Cyber Lucy (voiced and controlled by Tanika Ray) appeared on the game board where the puzzle would appear and interacted with the players in real-time. She would handle the category selections, tell players if they selected a correct letter, and engage in some playful trash talk along with Sidoni. Lucy was designed by Don Shank and her animation provided by Modern Cartoons. To meet FCC educational requirements, Lucy would provide some kind of educational fact related to a solved puzzle, and Eileen McMahon served as the show’s educational consultant. Dan Sawyer was the show’s composer.


Cyber Lucy with the puzzle in play.


In early 1998, Wheel 2000 went on a 12-city tour sponsored by Discover and coordinated by DVC Group. The show was set up in shopping malls where kids could play the game live. Winners in each market were invited to appear as contestants on the televised version for a grand finale. Unfortunately, the show didn’t last beyond a single season of 24 episodes, ending that February. Reruns continued to air on GSN until 2001 and later on Discovery Kids Canada. The show’s website began to redirect to GNS in 2000 before being disabled altogether in the following years. Two more attempts at an international version of the concept were made; Cark 2000 in Turkey in 2000, and Chiếc nón kỳ diệu 2000 in Vietnam from 2007-2008. Both were as short-lived as the other versions.


July 10, 2019

RIP TORN DEAD AT 88



You can read the full story here.


Primarily a screen actor, he also provided voices for various projects including The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat.




July 06, 2019

30TH ANNIVERSARIES












25TH ANNIVERSARIES















VIDEO VILLAGE JUNIOR


VIDEO VILLAGE JUNIOR
(CBS, September 30, 1961-June 16, 1962)

Heatter-Quigley Productions




MAIN CAST:
Monty Hall – The Mayor
Eileen Barton – Assistant Mayor
Kenny Williams – Town Crier, Constable





            Video Village was an American television game show produced by Heatter-Quigley Productions, coming out hot on the heels of the quiz show scandals that revealed many game shows had been rigging their results. The show was designed as a “living board game”, where two contestants were the pieces to move around a game board as dictated by large six-sided die in a cage rolled by their partner (usually a spouse).

Temporary host Red Rowe by the dice cage with the contestants.

            The “game board” was designed to look like a small town, of which the host, Jack Narz, was called The Mayor, and his female assistant, Joanne Copeland, was called the Assistant Mayor. There were three sections called streets: Money Street, which had spaces that awarded the players small cash prizes, Bridge Street, which ended in a bridge where a certain number had to be rolled for them to cross, and Magic Mile, which ran by five “storefronts” that awarded prizes to the player who acquired those stores’ keys. The winner was the first player to reach the “Finish” space and was allowed to play the next game. Both contestants got to keep their earnings.

A view of the "streets" and jail.

            There were several special spaces on the board, which changed throughout the show’s run. Amongst them were “Bus Stop”, “Do it Yourself” and “Take a Chance” had the player who landed on them draw a card and follow the instructions on it, or to pass the card on to their opponent in the hopes that it would be something to hinder them. “Ask the Council” saw the player being asked a humorous question, winning cash if the audience, acting as the council, was inclined to agree with their answer. “Intuition” saw the player having to determine four facts about an audience member whose voice was heard from off-stage, winning money for every right answer or the person winning money for every wrong answer. “Finders Keepers” gave the player a random prize. “1-2-3-Go” caused a player to remain stranded on that spot until the die read 1, 2 or 3. “Exchange Place” forced the player to trade places with their opponent. “U-Turn” had the player spin a version of the die that allowed their opponent to move the number of spaces shown. “Safety Zone” meant a player was safe from any kind of penalty their opponent could impose on them (like via the aforementioned cards). “$25 or Free Turn” gave the player a chance to get a cash prize or another roll of the die. “Jail” was a cage made of soft bars at the end of Money Street that the player had to go into until they accurately guessed whether their next roll was an odd or even number.

Forced to move back a space.


            Video Village debuted on CBS in primetime on July 1, 1960 and daytime on July 11, running concurrently until the nighttime version was cancelled on September 16. Narz departed the show for personal reasons and was replaced by Red Rowe for a week until Monty Hall took over permanently on September 19.  A short while later, Heatter-Quigley moved production of the show from New York City to CBS Television City in Hollywood, California where the die was replaced by an electric randomizer. Eileen Barton replaced Copeland as the Assistant Mayor, however Kenny Williams stayed on as the Town Crier (aka the show’s announcer). Because both Hall and Barton could sing, a “Village Bus” (a golf cart) was added where Hall and Barton would take the players at the end of a match back over to the start while singing “The Village Bus Song”. All other music was provided by a band led by Sid Wayne.


Hall with Barton and Williams.


            The following year, the Video Village franchise was expanded with a spin-off, Video Village Junior (sometimes known as Kideo Village). The gameplay was exactly the same as the original version, except the contestants were kids and their partners were one of their parents. Williams also doubled as the town Constable. Video Village Junior debuted on September 30, 1961, airing on Saturday mornings. However, both versions of Video Village would end up cancelled halfway through 1962; with Junior ending on June 16, one day after the adult version. A similar show, Shenanigans, also produced by Heatter-Quigley, began airing on ABC Saturdays in 1964.


The "Village Bus" ending a match of the Australian version.


            Junior had a longer lifespan overseas. An Australian version was made by Crawford Productions and ran from 1962 through 1966. A similar concept would later be used in Canada for The Mad Dash from 1978-85. Unfortunately, it’s believed that almost the entirety of both Video Village runs have been destroyed due to the studio practices of wiping. Because recording materials were so expensive and costly to store, and there was a belief that nobody would ever want to see them again after their initial broadcasts, studios were more inclined to erase them and reuse them on future productions. The only known surviving episodes are the second and final nighttime episodes, the 500th daytime episode, and the third-to-last episode of Junior.