Friday, March 2, 2012

TV Shows That Never Came to Be

While browsing back issues of TV GUIDE the other week, seeking trivia info for a few subjects, I came across a number of entries that rose an eyebrow. Always wanting to be the leader in breaking news stories about current and future television productions, TV GUIDE provided a page or two in each issue of news briefs (very brief) giving a glimpse into the future. Regrettably, many of the news briefs never came to be... and those are often of historical amusement. Case in point the samples below:

January 11, 1958
One Man’s Family may return to TV, turning up in its new format as an episode of The Loretta Young Show. If the audition is successful, a new series would probably be produced by Miss Young’s Lewislor Productions.
Note: One Man's Family never did make a triumphant return to television, nor any pilot that I am aware of on The Loretta Young Show.

January 8, 1958
James Mason has been asked to play the lead in a new film TV series based on the movie, The Third Man.

April 12, 1958
Newest quiz format to be offered to sponsors stars Lou Costello in a live show, Spook House Quiz.
Note: Never happened.

May 3, 1958
The Tall Man, another new Western for next season, will star British actor Michael Rennie.
Note: Not sure why Rennie never played the role, but Barry Sullivan had that role for two seasons.

June 14, 1958
NBC already has scheduled Gunn For Hire, starring Craig Stevens, for Mondays next season. He plays Pete Gunn, a private eye.
Note: We all know the series was eventually broadcast under the title Peter Gunn.

 July 19, 1958
Alan Ladd has revived plans to turn his old radio show, Box 13, into a TV series. He would produce but not star.
Notes: This was after Ladd had played the starring role in a filmed television pilot for G.E. Theater a few years prior (available on DVD at

August 16, 1958
The Witch's Tale, a former long-running radio show, will be turned into a TV series.
Note: Never happened. Would have been nice, though.

August 23, 1958
CBS re-titled its forthcoming Derringer series to Yancy Derringer, to show it’s a man, not a gun.

September 6, 1958
TV producer David Susskind has dropped plans to do Ben Hur. MGM, which already has spent $12,500,000 on a movie version, talked him out of it.

September 13, 1958
Mae West, now 66, will soon star a five-a-week, late-night, quarter-hour show locally, then has plans for a film series, Klondike Lou.
Note: Sadly, it never happened.

September 27, 1958
James Mason, who was all set to star in The Third Man, a new NTA series, is out. The deal fell apart in the negotiations, as we hinted it might last week. NTA rushed a top executive to the coast to try to pick up the pieces but it looks hopeless.
Note: Michael Rennie eventually got the role.

November 22, 1958
Red Skelton wants to get serious on Have Gun-Will Travel. He asked the producer to find a script.
Note: Never happened. But the episode, "The Montebank," would have been perfect for him and I wouldn't be surprised if that was originally written with Skelton in mind.

December 6, 1958
Gary Merrill’s a strong possibility for the lead in the High Noon TV series.

December 13, 1958
The new High Noon series is due to go into production in February.

January 24, 1959
Jack Oakie is considered for the title role in the Fat Man series.

October 31, 1959
Betts Davis’ Wagon Train episode, in which she plays Madame Elizabeth McQueeny, is the audition film for a new hour-long series, Madame's Lace, in which Miss Davis hopes to star next season.

December 26, 1959
This Gun For Hire, the 1942 Alan Ladd feature film, will soon be turned into a television series (without Ladd) by Revue Productions.
Note: Never happened. Not a bad idea coming from Revue.

February 20, 1960
Test film has been completed for the Doctor Kildare series co-starring Lew Ayres and Joe Cronin.
Note: That pilot was a bonus extra on a Doctor Kildare DVD box set.

February 27, 1960
A sequel to The Adventures of Superman, titled The Adventures of Superboy, is being planned as a 26-episode series. Producers are searching for a young lead.
Note: I saw the unaired pilot. Glad they didn't make the other 25.

April 2, 1960
The old radio show, It Pays to Be Ignorant, is now being prepared here as a TV series, with Ken Murray a probability as emcee.
Note: There was an attempt in 1949, but no such show by 1960.

April 16, 1960
The Westerner, a new NBC fall series starring Bran Keith, will feature the mongrel star of Walt Disney’s Old Yeller movie. The dog’s name had to be changed for legal reasons; in the series he’s to be called “Brown.”
Note: I never gave a thought of the dog's name, but interesting trivia.

October 15, 1960
Orson Welles may turn up in a London-filmed Peter Gunn episode.
Note: Never happened. Wish it did.

March 11, 1961
A Bonanza episode titled “Silent Thunder” is being prepared for release as a movie.

November 11, 1961
Alan Ladd’s company, Jaguar Productions, is working on a test film script for a mystery-anthology series, Enigma.

November 10, 1962
Alan Ladd signs to star in a new hour series, The Man from the Pentagon, which would be produced by his own Jaguar Productions.
Note: Keep trying, Alan. You might succeed one day...

January 19, 1963
Jackie Cooper will probably take on the Amos Burke role created by Dick Powell in last season’s “Who Killed Julie Greer?” for Four Star’s planned series dealing with a millionaire detective.
Note: He never signed, but for months this was speculated. Gene Barry got the role.

March 9, 1963
CBS’s 29 year old radio show, Let's Pretend, is being turned into a half-hour TV film series by producer E. Charles Straus.
Note: Sadly, it never happened. Captain Kangaroo might have dominated the field.

April 27, 1963
Another title change for next season: ABC’s Please Stand By will air as Beyond Control.
Note: The show they are referring to is The Outer Limits. I have a copy of the Please Stand By pilot.

May 18, 1963
Mae West is negotiating for a comedy cartoon series, Pretty Mae, which would feature her voice behind a cartoon caricature of herself. Her only previous TV appearance have been the 1958 Oscar telecast and a Red Skelton Hour three years ago.