Friday, June 5, 2015

Old-Time Radio Newsblurbs

VARIETY magazine (both weekly and daily) contains a ton of news blurbs for television, movies and old-time radio. Often a mention about a specific radio program or television series raises an eye brow because the information sometimes reveals a bit of trivia no one else seems to have been aware of. Here is a selection of news blurbs from VARIETY which I suspect many of you will find amusing.

February 15, 1940
Columbia Will Make 'Ellery Queen With Radio Cast -- Columbia yesterday closed a deal with Columbia Management for filming of the radio whodunit, 'Adventures of Ellery Queen,' and for the first time will use an entire air cast. Program is now broadcast over CBS as a sustainer and this summer fills the hiatus for Gulf during Screen Guild Theatre seasonal layoff.

Note: The movies were made, with the radio microphone on the front title screen. The radio cast never reprised the roles for the big screen. Nice to know they considered doing so.

July 10, 1946
Although Wyllis Cooper is credited as the writer of the new Lights Out! summer replacement show for Judy Canova on Saturday nights over NBC, he claims he has nothing to do with it. Cooper, presently chief of the motion picture and television department of the Compton ad agency, asserts NBC is following the same procedure it used last year by digging up a batch of his old scripts for the revival. Cooper is also considerably miffed at reports that he scripted the televised version of Lights Out! which NBC produced over WNBT in new York, on June 30. Fred Coe, NBC video producer, adapted the script from one of Cooper's old radio shows, he claims. "I discovered by purest accident—meeting a guy on the street—that it was to be broadcast," Cooper said. "It was an adaptation of, as I said, an original radio show I did 12 years ago." Reason for Cooper's ire at the tele show lies in the fact that, ever since he's taken over the Compton post, he's been plugging for all-film shows, as compared to live programming. Film, and its system of retakes to correct an error, would assure the broadcaster of a perfect program, according to Cooper.
Lee Marvin
May 25, 1955
Warner Bros. Tests Lee Marvin
For 'Cheyenne' vidpix, Lee Marvin was tested by Warners yesterday to essay title role in Cheyenne vidpix series. Simultaneously, studio tested Charles Nolte for the lead in King's Row, another of studio's up-coming telefilm series.

Note: Wow. Really? Lee Marvin?
June 30, 1958
To give you an idea of what a sponsor bites off if he chooses to sponsor Warners' 77 Sunset Strip, private-eye hour starring Efrern Zimbalist Jr., the price is $82,000 and $46,000 for repeats. No takers yet although ABC-TV has it niched for 9 p.m. Sunday . . . Nor do these so-called "cheapies" carry bargain basement tags.
July 30, 1958
Cole Updating 'The Witch's Tale' For TPA Syndication
New York, July 29. — One of radio's early and long-run dramatic series, The Witch's Tale, is to be revived in television film syndication with updated, modern scripts by its originating author, Alonzo Deen Cole. Leon Fromkess will produce the half-hours for Television Programs of America. Pilot will be shot in Manhattan during August. Series should hit market later in fall. Witch's Tale ran nine years live on the Mutual Radio Network and another seven years on transcriptions. Cole at one time licensed 52 live repeats made in Australia with Down-Under actors, and series was also translated for radio in Spanish and Portuguese. Cole's present contract with TPA was negotiated by Ray Levy. Still to be decided is whether the telepix series will be produced in New York or Los Angeles. Cole will do all the writing. Author Cole in recent years was sole scripter on the CBS-originated radio (later television) offbeat whodunits, Casey, Crime Photographer. Sponsors include Anchor Hocking and Carter.
Note: No such television series was ever produced. Darn.

November 14, 1958
Nero Wolfe Video Rights Sold To CBS
Television rights to the Nero Wolfe mysteries penned by Rex Stout have been acquired by CBS-TV as a basis for a new teleseries, according to Harry Ommerle, web program veepee visiting with Coast execs this week. Pilot film is being mapped for sometime after the first of the year. Harry Ommerle, who planes back to New York tonight after a three-day stay here, also said that the web is dickering Audrey Meadows to star in its projected weekly televersion of My Sister Eileen.

April 10, 1957
Hughes to Script First '13' 
Hollywood, April 9. Russell Hughes will script the initial stanza of Box 13, Jaguar Productions telefilm project based on Alan Ladd's former radio series, and Jaguar's first venture into tv. Hughes also scripted many of radio "Boxes." Lensing is slated for early summer, with exec producer Albert J. Cohen currently testing male leads. Ladd owns Jaguar, but doesn't intend to appear in the teleseries.

March 18, 1958
Alan Ladd is fulfilling a long-suppressed desire by turning director. Producer-star plans to direct teats for his Jaguar Company's Box 13 series. And he's decided to try for an unknown for the lea.

Note: Only one television pilot was filmed, a few years prior. This second attempt never happened.

Audie Murphy
June 9, 1961
Washington, Jane 8. — Whispering Smith should be neither seen nor heard by children. The Revue Studio's western series for NBC-TV was singled out for special treatment today as the Senate Juvenile Delinquency Committee put televised crime-and-violence through the gantlet generally. The subcommittee launched hearings designed to find out, as chairman Thomas Dodd (D. Conn.) put it, whether the tv industry is letting itself slide "into the same category as the violent Roman spectacles of 2,000 years ago." Latter got high ratings too, Dodd remarked. The hearings, held in the big Senate caucus room, featured a screening of the first episode of the Audie Murphy Whispering Smith series beginning last month over NBC-TV. Called "The Grudge," the program showed how Murphy, as a quiet spoken lawman, triumphed over a murderous widow, her venomous daughter and befuddled son, who were all set on killing him as an act of revenge.
Revue Studios' Richard Lewis, executive producer of the series, was grilled at length about why the segment was interlaced with such scenes as the mother horsewhipping her son and shooting her daughter in the back. "Bad For Adults, Too" quoted Sen. John Carroll (D.Colo.), who snapped that the show was "not only bad for children but bad for adults" and was incensed over what he claimed was a distortion of the Whispering Smith he read about as a boy. The Smith he pictured was a chip off the same block as Hopalong Cassidy and other wholesome types. He accused Lewis of trying to make a "smasheroo" to compete with the top-rated tv westerns. But Lewis stoutly insisted the program was no more violent than other western fare and its theme of revenge was as old as the Greek classics. Neither did the "Grudge" episode, written by Richard Nelson and directed by Herbert Coleman, depart from NBC's own TV Code, he said. As for its impact on tots, Lewis opined that they would most likely emulate the admirable Smith rather than the revenge-crazed mother. Carl Watson, NBC-TV's director of broadcast standards, agreed with Lewis that the series was fairly standard western fare. But he added that NBC had asked Revue to dilute some of the more violent episodes.
May 26, 1958
Don Sharpe and Nat Wolff have wrapped up a sale of "Derringer" to NBC-TV for Monday night. It will probably be called a western despite its New Orleans locale. Don Quinn and Henry Russell wrote the show's theme song of the same title .

Note: The series was eventually titled Yancy Derringer, not "Derringer."

April 1, 1959
Hollywood, March 31.
Carlton Morse's long run radio series, I Love a Mystery, is being converted into a tv series by Earl Ebi, former producer at J. Walter Thompson agency. As producer he will have as associates Morse, executive producer, and Sandy Barnett, also ex-JWT, who will act as editorial supervisor. Pilot script has been completed and others are being prepared. Series will be sold either as a half-hour or hour collection of mystery stories.


Mike said...

The March 27, 1950 issue of Radio Daily contains the following short blurb:

"One of the major TV nets readying a deal with Ed Wolf on Alonzo Deen Cole's "Witch's Tale"--(the first of radio's thriller-dillers).

The July 26 and August 30, 1950, issues of Variety also contain references to this, adding that the network interested in the series was NBC.

From the August 27, 1949 issue of Billboard:

"Witch's Tale" Revived for TV

New York, Aug. 20--WITCH'S TALE, one of radio's top shows in the early days, this week was being revived for video by Wolf Associates, which also pacted it in its AM form. The eerie epic is now being considered by two different bankrollers, with a couple of networks also reported interested.

Alonzo Deen Cole, who penned the radio scripts, is supervising the writing on the tele version. Many of the original Cole scripts are likely to be revived for video.

Christopher said...

Okay, so television got TWO chances at THE WITCH'S TALE, almost ten years apart, and neither one of them panned out, That's a shame. I'd have loved to have seen Old Nancy spinning her yarns on the tube.

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