Thursday, December 02, 2010

My Top Ten Christmas Songs, Animated TV Specials, and TV-Movies of All Time


1] CHRISTMASTIME IS HERE (Written by Vince Guaraldi - from A Charlie Brown Christmas):

Show me a better song representative of Christmas? Okay, maybe The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole - but nothing revs up the Holiday heart strings like this classic tune sung by the Peanuts gang on one of the best Christmas TV specials of all time (see below list).

2] THERE'S ALWAYS TOMORROW (FOR DREAMS TO COME TRUE) By Janet Orenstein from Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer TV special:

Like Christmastime is Here (from A Charlie Brown Christmas) this true-love bearing (and en-deer-ing) song from TV's other classic perennial, Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, hits all the right chords. Years after first hearing it as a kid, my college crush Debbie Bell (yep, that was her name) sang this for me on her piano. And I couldn't believe she had the sheet music.

3] SILVER & GOLD (performed by Burl Ives in Rudolph):

Stripping away the materialism of what it may appear to mean (silver and gold money, for example), this song caters to core of Christmas - and teaches us to decorate our trees with only the sincerest of colors (that you just know somehow glisten on and make into Heaven - which, of course, is already paved with silver and gold).

4] HOLLY-JOLLY CHRISTMAS (performed by Burl Ives in Rudolph):

Put away your frown, Mr. Scrooge...I dare you not to dance when you hear this jingle bell.

5] LAST CHRISTMAS by George Michael:

George has certainly had his share of issues in the years since his early days with WHAM, but this song wasn't one of 'em. Instead, it goes down in history as one of the most beautiful and somber pop-rock carols of all time.


Like George Michael before her, Mariah Carey has experienced a few personal challenges in recent years. However, her talent is astounding - and her voice is pure - as is so pristinely evident heart-felt holiday rockin' tune.

7] FELICE NAVIDA by Jose Feliciano:

Before it became hip for non-Latinos to speak Spanish in the US, the gifted Jose Ferrer introduced mainstream Americana to the international sounds of Christmas with this bangin' gee-tar-driven holiday present that broke the language barrier.

8] SO THIS IS CHRISTMAS (offcially titled Happy Christmas) by John Lennon. TIES with LITTLE SAINT NICK by Brian Wilson (and Mike Love):

One would expect nothing less from Lennon - the man who brought us the timeless beauty of Imagine - while the genius of The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson is front and center for Christmas. And is it really any wonder that Little Saint Nick appears on TBB's first Christmas album, which just so happened to be released in the same year (1964) that Rudolph debuted on TV? 'Course not. The angels know what they're doing.

9] DO THEY KNOW IT'S CHRISTMAS? - Before being charitable in the super-mainstream public eye became cool, this haunting tune was recorded to help feed the hungry - not only of the body - but of the heart and the soul. In the process, it reminds us exactly what Christmas is supposed to be all about (clue: not buying Christmas gifts at the mall, which opens at 4 AM on Black Friday).

10] EDELWEISE by Rodgers and Hammerstein from The Sound of Music. If this isn't a Christmas song, I don't know what is. It is infested with love, and as far as I'm concerned, is one of the most beautifully melodies on the planet. And though The Sound of Music is not "really" a "Christmas story," per se, it really kinda'sorta is.



1] A Charlie Brown Christmas (CBS, 1965): Directed by Bill Melendez. Written by Charles Schulz.

Young voice-over talent Peter Robbins made his indelible mark as Charlie Brown in this poignant holiday classic that spawned a series of similar specials for every holiday. Here, Charlie Brown searches for the true meaning of Christmas and the perfect tree. While directing a school play, he ultimately finds both, though not before our young low-acheiver is confronted by a number of obstacles. None the least of these conflicts is presented by his own dog Snoopy's obsession with winning first prize for a local decorations competition, or by his mean-spirited peers who mock his choice of a tiny sickly tree. Through it all, Charlie continues to struggle for peace of mind in his December time, when he is forced to visit with his pseudo-psycholgoist friend (and foe) Lucy, who offers him a 5 cents therapy session. Following a desperate plea (during which he screams, "Can't anyone tell me what Christmas is all about?!"), CB finally hears the real deal - from Lucy's young brother Linus, of all people. "I can tell you," Linus reveals. And in one of the most uniquely animated moments in the history of the genre, Linus goes on to quote the Biblical story of the first Christmas. In a matter of moments, CB's misguided pals realize their inconsideration and, with the help and reconfiguration of Snoopy's prize-winning decorations, breathe life into a once-listless tree - further uncovering and "illuminating" the true meaning of Christmas. "Hark the herald" these young animated angels then all sing.

2] Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer (CBS, 1964): Directed by Kizo Nagashima and Larry Roemer. Written by Robert May and Romeo Miller.

A "true love" story. Lessons about maturity, responsibility, pride, prejduice, ambition and acceptance; deciphering "deer pressure" from "elf-improvement." Dispelling the fear surrounding a visit to the dentist? Learning that no toy is happy unless it is truly loved by a child? Some of the most beautiful Christmas songs ever written (There's Always Tomorrow; Silver and Gold). What else could anyone want in a Christmas TV special? This classic always signals the commencement of the holiday season - and reminds me so much to slow my pace and shine on until the morning - and beyond. Featuring the awesome talents of Burl Ives, who we first meet in the North Pole midst of a field of Christmas trees ("Yep -this is where we grow 'em?).

3] Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town (ABC, 1969): Directed by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin, Jr. Written by Romeo Miller.

Taking it's cue from Rudolph, this smart Christmas tale expands on the popularity of a Christmas song and threads a charming tale about the origins of St. Nick - here voiced by Mickey Rooney. Also along for the ride: Fred Astaire (serving the narrator purpose, alla Burl Ives on Rudolph) as the Christmas Mailman. Also featuring the vocal talents of Keenan Wynn, Paul Frees, Joan Gardner and Robie Lester.

4] The Year Without A Santa Claus (ABC, 1974): Directed by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin, Jr. Written by William Keenan and based on the novel by Phyllis McGinley.

Mickey Rooney returns as Santa, this time joined by Shirley Hazel Booth as Mrs. Claus in smart take that may be sub-coded, Santa Takes A Holiday - as the jolly one gets sick and decides to take a break from Christmas. As such, a quite sophisticated animated tale is delivered, along with an astounding message and pristine dialogue. In fact, this cartoon was so impressive, it spawned a life-action TV-movie (starring John Goodman) in 2006.

5] A Christmas Carol (Syndicated, 1970): Directed by Zoran Janjic. Written by Michael Robinson and based on the classic novel by Charles Dickens.

Who says television isn't educational? This was my introduction to the great mind of Charles Dickens. Up until then, I thought cartoons only meant Scooby Doo, Where Are You? - not to mention, great literature. Starring the voiceover talents of Alistair Duncan, Ron Haddick (as Scrooge), John Llewellyn, Bruce Montague, Brenda Senders and many others.

6] The Night The Animals Talked (CBS, 1970): Directed by Shamus Culhane. Written by Peter Fernandez, Jan Hartman and others.

Just about his far away from Dr. Doolittle as you can get, we learn here what the animals were thinking at the birth of Christ. They are granted the gift of gab - and we are granted the gift of insight. Mind-boggling - and aeons ahead of its time. Starring the vocal gymnastics of Pat Bright, Ruth Franklin, Bob Kaliban, Len Maxwell, Joe Silver, Frank Porella and others.

7] 'Twas The Night Before Christmas (CBS, 1974): Directed by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin, Jr. Written by Jerome Coopersmith and based on the poem by Clement Moore.

Producers/directors Bass and Rankin steered away from stop-action animation (Rudolph, Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town) and headed into the then-more traditional animatrics of the era. What's more, it's also told in a 30-minute format (as opposed to the aforementioned 60-minutes, though first completed a few years before with Frosty the Snowman in 1969). But their style is still evident especially drawn in the eyes and "heart" of each character. A sweet narrative delivery of a perfect holiday ryhme. Feauturing the voices of Patricia Bright, Scott Firestone, George Gobel (Hollywood Squares), Broadway giant and film legend Joel Grey, and Tammy Grimes (the original choice for Samantha on TV's Bewitched; but she said no).

8] The Little Drummer Boy (NBC, 1968): Directed by Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin, Jr. and others. Written by Romeo Muller.

Two years after CBS got heavy with A Charlie Brown Christmas, the Peacock network delivered this equally-deep and spiritual take on an animated Christmas TV special. Based on the classic song (that was later historically duetted by Bing Crosby and David Bowie on one of Crosby's traditional NBC Holiday specials). Starring the vocal prowess of Jose Ferrer, Paul Frees, June Foray, and narrated by Greer Garson.

9] How The Grinch Stole Christmas (CBS, 1966): Directed by Chuck Jones and Ben Washam. Written by Bob Ogle and based on the book by Dr. Seuss.

Director Ron Howard and actor Jim Carrey made a valiant attempt to bring Whoville to the live big-screen a few years back, but ain't nothing like the original unreal thing - especially due to the vocal brilliance of Boris Karloff.

10] Frosty The Snowman (CBS, 1969): Directed by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin. Written by Romeo Miller.

Here, Jimmy Durrante (like his compadres Burl Ives and Fred Astaire before) serves as narrator to yet another Christmas carol come to life - along with Frosty. A sequel (Frosty Returns) later followed (with John Goodman, years before he donned the live action edition of The Year Without A Santa Claus - stepped in for Jackie Vernon). But it wasn't the same. Also starring the voices of the great Billie De Wolfe (The Doris Day Show), and Bass/Rankin/Miller stalwharts Paul Frees and June Foray.



1] THE HOUSE WITHOUT A CHRISTMAS TREE (CBS, 1972): Directed by Paul Bogart. Written by Eleanor Perry and Gail Rock. Based on the book by Rock.

Jamie Mills (played by the great Jason Robards) has grown bitter over the years after losing his wife a decade before. As such, he no longer celebrates Christmas and refuse to put a tree. But this is no run-of-the-mill take on Scrooge - especially after watching Jaime's young daughter Addie (Lisa Lucas) ultimately drag a decorated tree through town and into the Mills living room. If you're looking for your heart, you'll find it in this movie. Mildred Natwick offerred her usual perfect performance, here - in a supporting role - as Robards' mother. Special note: This flick's budget was low, forcing it to be videotaped (like everything pretty much today - though some TV shows and movies make it look like film). But somehow it adds to the "reality."

2] MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (CBS, 1973): Directed by Fielder Cook. Written by Valentine Davies, Jeb Rosebrook (and others).

No, it ain't the original 1947 feature film classic (with a tiny Natalie Wood), but it sure as heck ain't the overblown remake from 1994. Nope, this little puppy of a version starred the late Sebastian Cabot (Mr. French from TV's Family Affair), David Hartman (soon to be an early rising staple on ABC's Good Morning, America) and Jane Alexander (who was just about to find super fame playing Eleanor Rosevelt in a series of TV-movies for ABC). Look also for this astounding supporting cast: Roddy McDowall, Jim Backus (Gilligan's Island, Mr. Magoo), James Gregory (Barny Miller), Conrad Janis (Mork & Mindy), Roland Winters, and David Doyle (Charlie's Angels) and Tom Bosley (Happy Days) - the latter two of whom have been cross-identified by viewers for years - and who appeared here on screen together for the first time. you can't beat that - and you can't beat this TV-flick for slick production values (for its time), nostalgia (on so many fronts) and a straight-forward "logic within the illogic" script. Awesome. Just awesome. Everything a Christmas TV-movie (or any TV-movie for that matter) should be.

3] FATHER KNOWS BEST: HOME FOR CHRISTMAS (NBC, 1977): Directed by Norman Abbott and based on the original TV series created by Ed James.

Like The House Without A Christmas Tree, this TV-flick was produced with an extremely low budget (it wasn't even filmed like the original series, but videotaped - like a daytime soap opera). But little matter. The script is in place, story is home-made-for-TV, and the cast is dynamite, including all original members of the original Father series, such as: Robert Young (Marcus Welby, MD), Jane Wyatt (Spock's mom on Star Trek), Lauren Chapin, Elinor Donahue (who later married executive producer Harry Bewitched Ackerman), Christopher Gardner, and Billy Gray. When Young as Jim Anderson puts up those Christmas lights outside the house, I can't help but be reminded of my super Uncle Carl - who did the same for so many years on Erie Street (in my hometown of Rochester, NY). This movie will remind you of similar memories I'm sure.

4] SAINT MAYBE (1998, CBS): Directed by Michael Pressman. Written by Robert W. Lenski. Based on the book by Anne Tyler.

Not a Christmas movie, per se, but filled with the astounding spirit of one. Thomas McCarthy plays a lonely teen who works past a tragic car accident that kills his sister, and forces him to care for her three children. Moving, pristine and downright awe-inspiring. Also starring Blythe Danner, Edward Hermann (who played alongside the aforementioned Jane Alexander in those Rosevelt TV-movies), the beautiful Melina Kanakaraedes, Mary-Louise Parker (Weeds), and former TV-movie queen, Glynnis O'Connor.

5] CHRISTMAS ON DIVISION STREET (1991, ABC). Directed by George Kaczender. Written by Barry Morrow.

As usual, Fred Savage (The Wonder Years) delivers another fine performance, this time as the privledged offspring of wealthy parents who learn the true meaning of Christmas from their son (who learns it from a homeless man). Hint: it doesn't have anything to do with buying lots of expensive, materialistic gifts for people. Also starring Hume Cronyn, Badja Djola, Cloyce Morrow, Kenneth Walsh and Kahla Lichti.

6] A DAD FOR CHRISTMAS (a.k.a. Me and Luke, 2006, CBS). Directed by Eleanor Lindo. Written by Alan Hines. Based on the novel (Me and Luke) by Audrey O'Hearn.

As with Saint Maybe, this pristine small screen film is not clearly defined as a Christmas TV-movie (though there's a Christmas dinner in there at the end). But it's infested with the spirit. Newcomer Kristopher Turner plays a compassionate teen father who sets out to protec and claim his newborn son from the likes of the child's selfish mother. The Oscar-winning Louise Fletcher, as the Turner's grandmother, steps up to the plate as the first-time Dad's main ally. Also starring Philip Akin, Lindsay Ames, and others.

7] BORROWED HEARTS: A HOLIDAY ROMANCE (1997, CBS): Directed by Ted Kotcheff. Written by Pamel Wallace and Earl W. Wallace.

Roma Downey is no angel. But Hector Elizondo is in this flick, which also stars Eric McCormack in a pre-Will & Grace straight role. Bottom line: She's poor. He's her rich, snobby corporate boss - and they're both brought together by her daughter Carly (Janet Baily) - with a little help from an Elizondo.

8] IT HAPPENED ONE CHRISTMAS (1977, ABC): Directed by Donald Wrye. Written by Jo Swerling and Frank Capra.

Before the rest of the universe realized how wonderful It's A Wonderful Life is, That Girl star Marlo Thomas reworked the 1947 Jimmy Stewart classic with a female twist. And the results were impressive. It's probably BECAUSE of this small-screener that people began to become obsessed with the original. Also starring the iconic Orson Welles (as Mr. Potter), Wayne Rogers (M*A*S*H), Cloris Leachman (The Mary Tyler Moore Show), Dick O'Neil, Cliff Norton, Christoper Guest, C. Thomas Howell and Doris Roberts (Everybody Loves Raymond) as Ma Baily.

9] A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1984, CBS). Directed by Clive Donner. Written by Roger O. Hirsen - and Charles Dickens

Though the Charles Dickens classic has been remade about a gazillion times, this version starring George C. Scott takes the cake - and the entire dessert table. A top-level, A-List production from every angle. Also starring: Frank Finlay, Angela Pleasence, Edward Woodward, David Warner, Susannah York, Roger Rees, and so many other fine actors.

10] THE NIGHT THEY SAVED CHRISTMAS (CBS, 1984): Directed by Jackie Cooper. Written by Jim Maloney.

A lot better than you would think - with the additional benefits of Charlie's Angels beauty Jaclyn Smith, the legendary Art Carney (The Honeymooners), Paul Le Mat (who starred opposite Smith's Angels co-star Farrah Fawcett in 1985's ground-breaking TV-movie, The Burning Bed), June Lockhart(Lost in Space), Paul Williams, Scott Grimes and many others.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"The Six Million Dollar Man" on DVD

Hello All -

I just want everyone to know that Giant-Interactive and Time-Life's special DVD-Box release of ALL FIVE SEASONS of the classic TV series, The Six Million Dollar Man, is an outstanding production. As the author of The "Bionic" Book, and as Founder & Executive Director of the Classic TV Preservation Society, I had the great honor of serving as one of the consultants and on-screen cultural commentators for this release, and it is simply top-notch from the word "go."

There are many who made outstanding contributions to this production, and none the least of whom are: Matt Hankinson, Brendan Slattery, Paul K. Bisson, Joseph Burns, and Rodney De Luca. Not to mention, of course, the stars and production team who worked on the show, including the iconic Lee Majors, Lindsay Wagner, Richard Anderson, Martin E. Brooks, Harve Bennett, Kenneth Johnson, Steve Stafford, and countless others.

With specific regard to Giant-Interactive, the production company Time-Life commissioned to take on this outstanding project - so many times when such TV-DVD packages are put together, specifically Classic TV packages, those associated with the given-property place no concerted effort in "getting it right" whatsoever - and the results are usually subpar.

But not so with the teaming of Giant-Interactive and Time-Life.

This "Six Million Dollar" release is simply pristine, as both G-I and T-L remained true to "Bionic" mythology, by retaining their vision and dedication to the creation and presentation of this project - the quality of which could not be any more evident.

I highly recommend you run, in "slow-motion," of course, to get your hands on the set. (Please see link below on how to order.)

Herbie J Pilato
Founder & Executive Director
The Classic TV Preservation Society


The "Bionic" Book: "The Six Million Dollar Man" and "The Bionic Woman" Reconstructed (BearManor Media, 2007)

"The Six Million Dollar Man" on DVD

Monday, November 08, 2010

Donating to the Classic TV Preservation Society has never been easier!

You can now used your credit. debit, bank, check or gift card to donate to the Classic TV Preservation Society.

See top of column to the left, click on "DONATION" button and go from there.

It's that easy!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bosley & Billingsley: Classic TV's Ultimate "Mom" And "Dad" Offered Hope

In recent weeks, the classic TV world lost performers who created two of the most influential characters in the genre:

Tom Bosley, who played Howard Cunningham (a.k.a. Mr. C on Happy Days) (ABC, 1973-1984) and Barbara Billingsley, who portrayed June Cleaver on Leave It To Beaver (CBS, ABC, 1957-63).

In view of the massive media reports of their demise, from the four main broadcast television netorks, to Time Magazine, it was clear just how imbedded in our society - and in our combined psyches - these TV personalities (the actors plus their characters) had become.

No, Happy Days and Leave It To Beaver did not display reality. The 1950s and early 1960s (Days was set in the 50s and Beaver was filmed in 60s) were far from happy days. And families like the Cunninghams and the Cleavers, or for that matter, Robert Young and Jane Wyatt's Jim and Margaret Anderson from Father Knows Best (CBS, NBC, ABC, 1954-1963, did not exist. These thoughtful and entertaining programs did not showcase how families really were or are - but they certainly continue (in reruns and DVD form) to present how they should and could be.

In my reality, I was blessed to have a beautiful family. I grew up in the inner-city of Rochester, New York in a lower middle-class neighborhood. My Mom and Dad stay married - and when they became elderly, I served as their primary caregiver. Growing up, our relationship was far from perfect, and when the roles reversed, and I became THEIR parent, our relationship did not become any less challenging.

But it was rewarding.

Every second of it.

And that's the message that those like Tom Bosley's Mr. C and Barbara Billingley's Mrs. Cleaver leave behind:

Love and family, with its ups and downs, is far from perfect, as with everything in life. But when the interaction between family members is earnestly realistic (which Father Knows Best really did do best, more so than Happy Days and Leave It To Beaver), and when there is space allowed for a margin of error, the result is always rewarding.

I don't know anyone from y generation whose life, while growing up, was ever like Happy Days (certainly not the first few seasons, when it was a calmer, sweet little show, filmed without an audience), Leave It To Beaver or Father Knows Best.

And I certainly don't know of any new family today - in this complicated, cynical and edgy existence (on or off TV) - who has a flawless, TV-kind of family.

But the charming presence of Tom Bosley's Mr. C and Barbara Billingsley's Mrs. Cleaver, neck pearls and all, offer hope, just like they did on their first runs. They made a difference in the lives of millions of viewers around the world, for years in the past - and they will continue to do so, forever in reruns, for years yet to be.

And if even just one "TV child," like myself and so many others, is able to learn a little bit more compassion, or kindness, or to remain that more "hopeful" because of watching a sweetly idealized family TV show that presented sweetly-idealized TV parents, well, then...wer'e all the better for it.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Interviews with Kathy Garver, Alison Arngrim and Dawn Wells

Pop-Culture Passionistas Amy and Nancy Harrington hit the pop culture trifecta last week, scoring one night full of interviews with CTVPS Board Member Kathy Garver (Cissy Patterson-Davis from Family Affair), Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson from Little House on the Prairie), and Dawn Wells (Mary Ann Summers from Gilligan's Island). Three of television's icons all in the same room—signing books, autographing photos, and talking about the good old days. As the Passionistas relayed, it was "pop culture heaven."

The Classic TV Preservation Society is now proud to share the results of those interviews. Enjoy!


Three of Classic TV's Most Charming Women

by Amy and Nancy Harrington

Kathy Garver, Alison Arngrim and Dawn Wells, all three actresses-turned-authors, made an unusual in-store appearance together last Thursday night at Larry Edmunds Bookshop in Hollywood. Kathy has written The Family Affair Cookbook, filled with recipes from the show and anecdotes to go along with them. Dawn Wells (who wrote the Mary Ann's Gilligan's Island Cookbook in 1993) wrote the forward for Kathy's book. And Alison has been touring in support of her book, Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated.

They have become friends over the years, after meeting at various autograph conventions and TV reunion specials. And one thing that bonds them together is the appreciation they have for the characters that made them household names.

There were no jaded divas here. They recognize the value of their die hard fans and the TV shows that put them, and keep them, on the map.

Dawn Wells was the first to discuss the topic saying, "I have an attitude about that. If you sign up to do a television series, do you want everybody to say 'I don't remember who did that character?'"

Alison chimed in with a supportive, "Thank you!"

"Do you think that it's all about you?" Dawn continued. "It's a million people working. Careers that are involved. Crew that's involved. They spend millions of dollars and then you bad rap it? Give it to another actor and say, 'No thank you' and let somebody else do it."

Alison agreed, adding, "I'm with you. I am so freakin' sick and tired of miserable, ungrateful whiny bitches."

"Say it like it is, Alison!" Kathy interjected.

Alison went on, "It's like .0001 of humans get to be on television or in a film. Millions of people all over the world would kill to be on TV for five minutes. We're on TV for several years, and people go 'Oh, I hated it.'" She pantomimes a slapping motion. "I am so tired of it."

Kathy held up one of her numerous head shots of her Family Affair alter ego and exclaimed, "I LOVE Cissy..."

Alison replied, "Look how many pictures she's got of her."

"Yes. Because I love Cissy," Garver continued. "The sexy Cissy... many Cissys...

Alison concluded, "And it was a cool show that people loved."

The women went on to talk more about how they got their roles and what part these shows played in molding their careers.

Kathy, who started working as a very small girl told her story saying, "I started in The Ten Commandments—not the silent version... But [Cissy] was kind of a break through role... She was a lovely part to play. I'm very proud to have played her and I'm trying to milk it as long as I can. I have the Family Affair Cookbook and the DVDs. My next book will be Surviving Cissy.

Alison recounted being a child star and feeling like her career was over at a young age. "I got my first job at six and then I did commercials and movies and a few different things," she explained.

She revealed, "Then I hadn't worked since I was ten. And I was eleven, pushing twelve, and my father actually sat me down and said I wasn't really getting a lot of work and that maybe I wouldn't work again until I was 18. I was basically told I was washed up at 11 and I should reconsider my career. And then I got Little House. I had a mid-life crisis at 11."

Dawn recalled that as a college student studying acting she decided to give herself two years to see if she could make it. She said, "I'll either go to New York or Los Angles. New York at that time was all singing and dancing and musical comedy which I don't do, so I thought, 'I'll try LA... I'll try LA for two years. If I don't get any work I'll go back to school and be a surgeon.'"

Within weeks she had a Warner Bros. contract and within two years was part of "the rest" on Gilligan's Island.

She acknowledged, "I am more than Mary Anne as an actress, but I embrace the fact that she gave me the opportunity of being able to make a living doing... a character that I find more of a challenge. And how can you not be grateful? How can you not be grateful for the fact that all over the world... I can't go to Beijing with out hearing 'Mary Anne, Mary Anne.' We're in thirty languages all over the world and we have never been off the air since 1964."

We are grateful for all three women and all three shows, and it's so nice to hear that they are as well.

For more pop culture news visit

Saturday, October 09, 2010

GUEST POST: "Our Hearts Belong to Florky" by Amy and Nancy Harrington (Pop Culture Passionistas)

Let's face it.

It's hard not to root for Jennifer Grey to win Dancing with the Stars.

After all, most of us feel like she's some long lost cousin that we haven't seen since that magical summer at Kellerman's Resort in the Catskills (via Dirty Dancing).

Since then, Baby's been in the corner but her struggles have only made her stronger (and infinitely more likeable). First, a botched nose job left her practically unrecognizable and pretty much destroyed her career. There was also that fatal car accident in Ireland that she and then-boyfriend Matthew Broderick survived but which left them emotionally wrecked. And, in the last few years, Grey has undergone several back surgeries and a bout with thyroid cancer.

Oh, and she's a really great dancer.

Still, if Jennifer Grey is like the cool cousin we wish we could be, her DWTS competitor Florence Henderson is practically our mom.

After all, we latchkey kids would come home and soak up the lessons of The Brady Bunch while our real mothers were at work.

And Henderson's Carol Brady taught us some critical info: sometimes when we lose we win, everyone can't be George Washington, and don't play ball in the house.

So our hearts are with team Florky for the win. Especially after this week's dance to Edelweiss from The Sound of Music - one of our all time favorite songs from one of the best movies ever.

Florence's story, dedicated to her late husband, John, made us cry - as only a very special episode of DWTS like story can do.

Technique-schmechnique, Len.

Florence danced from the heart and the standing O was well deserved.

For more pop culture news please visit

For more information about Florence Henderson, please visit

Saturday, September 25, 2010

"Lonesome Rhodes": "Andy Taylor's" Questionable Cousin

This is the first of what will be periodic guest essays from various members of the Classic TV Preservation Society. We begin with Lonesome Rhodes: Andy Taylor's Questionable Cousin by Charles Tranberg, who is the author of several books on classic media tie-in books, including biographies of Agnes Moorehead (Bewitched), Marie Wilson, and Fred MacMurray (My Three Sons), and a chronicle of The Thin Man feature films.

In his essays, Charles will focus on classic TV stars who have also appeared in classic (or at times maybe not so classic) films. As Tranberg explains, "It used to be that if you were a film star and you went on to do television that it was a step-down. It was kind of a snobbish attitude regarding the new medium of TV that was taking a toll on box office receipts. Similarly if you were a TV star your dream might have been to break into films, but 40 or 50 years ago that was harder to do than today. Today a TV star can become a film star (John Hanks, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, George Clooney are examples). For my first installment I’ve chosen one of my favorite TV legends, Andy Griffith. Before he was Sheriff Andy Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show, he played one of the most repulsive narcissistic personalities ever put on film — Lonesome Rhodes in the classic A Face In The Crowd."

Charles then commences his essay:

Andy Griffith became a TV legend by playing Sheriff Andy Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show (CBS, 1960-1968). If ever there was a part that fit the actor—this was it. In fact, Andy had a great deal of input into the development of the character and its setting—his hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina became the inspiration for the shows idealized small town, Mayberry, NC.

Yet just two years earlier he played a variation on this very same character in what is now regarded as a classic American film—Elia Kazan's A Face In The Crowd. Griffith plays Lonesome Rhodes, who on the face of it has several qualities in common with Andy Taylor—folksy, good-natured and a man who enjoyed chewing the breeze while strumming his guitar. But Lonesome had another side, too. He enjoyed his booze, he enjoyed women (Sheriff Taylor always had a steady girl friend—but one at a time), and where Andy Taylor guarded the jail—Lonesome Rhodes was often in it. Lonesome also had a mean streak and an ego that wouldn't quit. Could Lonesome Rhodes be Andy Taylor's meaner cousin?

Andy Griffith was born on June 1, 1926 (incidentally that's the same day and year that Marilyn Monroe was born) in the aforementioned Mount Airy, North Carolina. He was a sickly youngster and "wasn't much of a student and didn't have an aim until I was 14." His aim became music - which he majored in at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He eventually performed in several Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. While driving 45-minutes between Chapel Hill and Raleigh he worked out in his mind a monologue about a country hick who had never seen a football game. The monologue was titled, "What It Was, Was Football, which became a hallmark of a night club act.

Capitol Records heard the monologue and hired Andy to do a recording of it (along with a country version of "Romeo and Juliet") and it became a huge seller. He was booked on The Ed Sullivan Show - and Andy Griffith was on his way.

In March, 1955 Andy starred as another country bumpkin who gets drafted into the U.S. Army in the television production of a popular comic novel, No Time for Sergeants. The TV program proved so popular that by November of that year it was a popular Broadway hit - and ran for 796 performances with Andy receiving a Tony nomination for his performance.

In 1958 Andy starred in the hit Warner Brothers film version of No Time For Sargents. It was actually his second film. His first film was a departure for him from the comedy realm – A Face In The Crowd, was also one of the most auspicious debut movies of any actor.

A Face In The Crowd was based on Budd Schulberg's short story Your Arkansas Traveler, from his book Some Faces in the Crowd. When it was made into a film, Elia Kazan was chosen to direct with Schulberg writing the screenplay. Kazan and Schulberg had previously collaborated four years earlier on the classic film On the Waterfront.

The theme of the film, as it had been in the short story was, according to Kazan, "our anticipation of the power TV would have in the political life of the nation."

A Face in the Crowd tells the story of an Arkansas radio producer, Marcia Jeffries, who, while visiting a small town jailhouse, discovers Larry Lonesome Rhodes strumming his guitar while paying his debt to society for drunken and disorderly behavior. She finds him a fascinating creature and believes that he has potential. A local show in Memphis leads to the big time in New York, where Rhodes easy-going, country charm (and he could pour it on when he wanted to) leads to a major sponsor and top ratings.

Fame has gone to his head and when the red eye of the camera is off he is a bully with the crew and staff who must cater to his every need. He develops an ego which could fill a room and he begins to treat Marcia, who had fallen in love with him, with callousness. Behind the scenes he is dismissive of his fans believing them gullible in believing everything he tells them.

One of his sponsors is promoting an extreme right-winger for the presidency and needs Lonesome’s help to win the man the presidential nomination—Lonesome soon comes to believe that he will be the real power behind the presidency and perhaps could have the office himself one day. Eventually his spite, ego and callousness catch up with him and it’s Marcia who betrays him.

It was clear that a character such as this would have to be performed by an actor of exceptional talent. The character, as written by Schulberg, was based on such personalities as Arthur Godfrey, Huey Long and evangelist Billy Graham. At first, Kazan considered Jackie Gleason, who himself was privately known to be a man with huge appetites— ego included— as well as a true star of television.

But when Kazan heard Andy's comedy album and saw him on television something clicked, "He was the real Native American country boy and that comes over in the picture." Patricia Neal was selected to play Marcia after Schulberg saw her perform in a production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Added to the cast was Walter Mathau, Anthony Franciosa (from TV's Longsreet and Doc Elliot) and, in her film debut, Lee Remick, who plays one of Lonesome's playmates.

Andy was very nervous with this his first film—and inexperienced. He was nervous when the camera rolled, so much so that Kazan eventually took him aside and told him, "Andy, the camera is an amazing piece of equipment. Just find what the character is feeling and thinking and allow it to come out of your eyes."

Andy took this advice to heart. He would later call Kazan, "a great teacher, but he would rather that you learned it on your own." Andy recalled that every morning Kazan would have him meet him in his office and Kazan would explain what was expected of him during that day of filming. The climactic scene of the film has Lonesome violently angry and shouting at the top of his lungs on a balcony.

"I had him drunk all through the last big scene because it ws the only way he could be violent," recalled Kazan. "In life he wants to be friends with everybody." Patricia Neal later recalled, "I think he got him (Andy) drunk once—but not really (all that drunk). But he tended to give him a little too much to drink sometimes."

Andy would recall A Face In The Crowd as an exhausting picture to make physically and emotionally. "It took three months to shoot," he later said, "and two months to get over."

When the film premiered in New York on May 28, 1957, Bosley Crowther, the venerable critic of The New York Times, and one of the most respected critics in the country, called the film "sizzling and cynical," and went on to praise Griffith:

"In a way, it is not surprising that this flamboyant Lonesome Rhodes dominates the other characters in the story and consequently the show. For Mr. Schulberg has penned a powerful person of the raw, vulgar, roughneck, cornball breed, and Mr. Griffith plays him with thunderous vigor, under the guidance of Mr. Kazan."

The film, while critically acclaimed, was not a success at the box office. Andy later said, "that movie didn't make a dime, and besides, roles like that don't come along often."

Still, as the years have gone by its reputation has grown—especially as television has become more of a force in influencing public opinion and creating instant television stars courtesy of so-called "reality shows."

The Oxford Companion to Film wrote of A Face in the Crowd, "the inherent dangers of personality-building, and the exploitation of the gullible viewing public, were exploited with humor, bitterness and sharp observation."

Magill's Survey of Cinema, in its entry on the film said, "If A Face in the Crowd ends in melodrama, it is nevertheless highly effective satire, exposing the actual workings of an industry which has continued to demand attention for sparse entertainment and high levels of abuse."

In three years time Andy Griffith would become Sheriff Andy Taylor for immortality. But Sheriff Taylor had an off-center cousin -Lonesome Rhodes - and only on a few occasions in the years that followed would he allow this inner beast to come out on screen.

Perhaps he had to ration it out to keep his sanity?

Friday, September 10, 2010

My Dissertation On "Perry Mason"

Perry Mason originally aired on CBS from 1957 to 1966, and starred the great Raymand Burr in the lead, with Barbara Hale as his trusted assistant, Della Street, William Hopper (son of Hollywood gossip legend Hedda Hopper) as detective Paul Drake, and William Talman as Hamilton Burger, the poor district attorney, who Mason always clobbered in court. Ray Collins, Wesley Lau, and Richard Anderson (Oscar Goldman from The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman) rounded out the additional law enforcement cast in various roles over the years.

Perry Mason was more than just a precurser to countless lawyer shows to follow, including LA Law, Law & Order, and Boston Legal, among many others.

Mason was based on a series of best-selling mystery novels created by attorney-novelist Erle Stanley Gardner, which were transformed into a CBS radio show - with soap-opera elements - that aired from 1943 to 1955. When the radio series became the now iconic Raymon Burr show, the soap-opera slant was shelved. But in 1956 (two years before the Burr series debut), the original radio format was transplanted to the TV daytime serial, The Edge of Night (complete with the PM radio production staff and most of the cast, who were given new character names), where it remained until December 1984.

Meanwhile, in the Fall of 1973 - only a few years after the Burr's Perry Mason TV series was cancelled by CBS in 1966, the show was revived with Monte Markham in the lead, Sharon Acker as Della Street, Albert Stratton as Paul Drake, Dane Clark as Lt. Tragg, and Harry Guardino as Hamilton Burger. This edition was titled, The New Perry Mason and only lasted one sseason.

A little over ten years later, Raymund Burr and Barbara Hale returned to their famous roles in the 1985 hit TV-movie, Perry Mason Returns (this time for NBC), which also featured Hale's real life son, Willam Katt, as Paul Drake, Jr. (William Hopper had died in 1970). The Returns film was so successful it lead to an entire series of TV-movies that lasted even after Burr himself passed away.

In either "case," the original Perry Mason TV series was a stand-out. So very well written, directed and performed with precision, the show remains gripping and entertaining to this day.

Perry never lost a case, except for once - later in the series, when that verdict was then reversed. The chemistry between the main four actors, Burr, Hale, Hopper and Talman was solid. Over time, and especially in the show's later years, we came to observe and understand the respect between not only the characters on the show - but between the actors who played them.

Burr made certain to create a "family atmosphere" on the set, and that transferred to the screen when the cameras began to roll.

There was no gratutious violence on the series. Instead, the series catered to the intellect. Burr's Mason was intelligent, but compassionate - and always fair and honest. His objective for each case was justice and the truth - and not just based on technicalities. But on the heart - which is why it remains so popular today.

A "classic," in every sense of the word - and an inspiration to many, professionally - and personally.

Many viewers were inspired to become attorneys. And many viwers were inspired to treat each other with the highest regard of respect - as set on example by the characters - and cast - of Perry Mason.


Click on the link below for a video clip of Barbara Hale from the "extras" on the 50th Anniversary DVD of Perry Mason.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Special Event Planning Committee Meeting TONIGHT

The Special Event Planning Committee for the Classic TV Preservation Society meets TONIGHT at the El Torito in Burbank (across from NBC).

7 PM!


Friday, September 03, 2010

"Happy Days" Writer Fred Fox, Jr. Defends "Fonzie" and "Jumping the Shark"

Below is an article that was published in the September 3rd, 2010 issue of the Los Angeles Times. The article is written by "Happy Days" writer Fred Fox, Jr., as it addresses the "controversy" surrounding Fonzie's historic jump of the shark on Happy Days - and all to which it gave birth. Enjoy!

Herbie J Pilato


Contrary to pop culture belief, when Fonzie jumped the shark, it hardly marked the demise of the show.

By Fred Fox Jr.
(Special to the Los Angeles Times)

September 3, 2010

In 1987, Jon Hein and his roommates at the University of Michigan were drinking beer and had Nick at Nite playing in the background. They started talking about classic TV shows when someone asked, "What was the precise moment you knew it was downhill for your favorite show?" One said it was when Vicki came on board "The Love Boat." Another thought it was when the Great Gazoo appeared on "The Flintstones." Sean Connolly offered, "That's easy: It was when Fonzie jumped the shark." As Hein later recounted, there was silence in the room: "No explanation necessary, the phrase said it all."

Thus was born an expression that would quickly make its way into the pop culture mainstream, defined by Hein as "a moment. A defining moment when you know from now on … it's all downhill … it will never be the same." If I had been in the room, however, I would have broken that silence of self-assuredness, for I wrote that now infamous episode of "Happy Days."

And more than three decades later, I still don't believe that the series "jumped the shark" when Fonzie jumped the shark.

Little did the show's writers and producers know as we gathered in a conference room at Paramount Studios that spring day in 1977 that we would be creating a little piece of history. "Happy Days" was finishing the 1976-77 season as the most popular series on television, an accomplishment we were all proud of. That year had begun with a highly rated three-part story in which Fonzie ( Henry Winkler) rekindled the flame of a former love, Pinky Tuscadero. Because of this success, ABC and Paramount wanted us to open the next season, our fifth, with another three-part story.

After discussing different scenarios, we decided to take the "Happy Days" gang to Hollywood, with Fonzie invited for a screen test. One of the plot lines would be Fonzie clashing with "The California Kid," a cocky local beach boy. Since Henry water skied in real life, it was suggested the characters race and then, as a tiebreaker, have to jump a shark in a netted area in the ocean.

Now, whose idea was it for Fonzie to jump the shark? Amazingly, I can't remember — which is frustrating, as I can usually watch a "Happy Days" episode from any season, hear a joke and recall who wrote it. My friend Brian Levant, then a talented new member of the writing staff, believes that Garry Marshall, the show's co-creator and executive producer, and Bob Brunner, the show runner at the time, made the suggestion. But what I definitely remember is that no one protested vehemently; not one of us said, "Fonzie, jump a shark? Are you out of your mind?"

After the stories for the three opening episodes were blocked out, it was time to see who would write them. Often the writer who came up with the story would write the teleplay, while other times the script assignments were given out by the show runner. Bob gave me the final part to write.

There were no objections from the cast, the studio or the network concerning "Hollywood 3," as it came to be titled. It aired Sept. 20, 1977, and was a huge hit, ranking No. 3 for the week with a 50-plus share (unheard of today) and an audience of more than 30 million viewers.

And that was that until Hein and his roommates appeared a decade later. Not long after their initial bull session, Hein launched, listing about 200 television shows and inviting visitors to suggest the moment they knew a show was on the decline. Incredibly, the three words took off like wildfire and over the years the phrase has been used in television shows, video games and countless newspapers, magazines and blogs — applied to practically anything: sports, music, celebrities, politics. It even found its way into the Oxford English Dictionary as British journalists pondered whether Tony Blair had jumped the shark. I saw a post on a few weeks ago suggesting President Obama was about to do the same thing by appearing on "The View."

Which brings us to the question: Was the "Hollywood 3" episode of "Happy Days" deserving of its fate?

No, it wasn't. All successful shows eventually start to decline, but this was not "Happy Days'" time. Consider: It was the 91st episode and the fifth season. If this was really the beginning of a downward spiral, why did the show stay on the air for six more seasons and shoot an additional 164 episodes? Why did we rank among the Top 25 in five of those six seasons?

That's why, when I first heard the phrase and found out what it meant, I was incredulous. Then my incredulity turned into amazement. I started thinking about the thousands of television shows that had been on the air since the medium began. And out of all of those, the "Happy Days" episode in which Fonzie jumps over a shark is the one to be singled out? This made no sense.

Interestingly enough, nowhere in any discussions or articles on the subject of jump the shark did I ever find my name associated with it. So, really, the only people who knew I wrote the episode were those on the show and my friends and family. But I knew. I have to admit, there was a time I was embarrassed. I was Hester Prynne reincarnated, walking around with a scarlet "S" on the front of my shirt, facing accusing glances and stifled snickering. But this feeling passed quickly, and I likened the popularity to a new fad, where someone jumps on the proverbial bandwagon and soon everyone is doing it, for no rhyme or reason, like the riding the mechanical bull craze. It was ludicrous. All I could do was laugh.

Fortunately, my career didn't jump the shark after "jump the shark." When "Happy Days" ended, I went directly to the ABC Paramount hit show "Webster" and, after that, wrote and produced, among others, "It's Your Move," "He's the Mayor, "The New Leave It to Beaver" and "Family Matters." In 1987, Brian Levant and I created the action comedy "My Secret Identity," which won an International Emmy.

Now that so much time has passed, it's clear that "jump the shark" is no mere fad. It has become a part of the American lexicon. I often hear or read the phrase and run into people who know it. Some of them aren't even aware of the origin. It is unfathomable to me that the shark still has its bite.

But so does our show. The day after I started writing this article, my sister Jan was meeting our friend Vicki at a movie screening. Jan mentioned I had written the episode of "Happy Days" where Fonzie jumped the shark and was working on a piece about it for the Los Angeles Times. A young man in his 20s at the reception table overheard and looked at her in disbelief. "Your brother wrote the jump the shark episode?" he said. "Awesome!"

Copyright © 2010, Los Angeles Times

Click below for the direct link to this article:,0,6800871.story

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

"The Andy Griffith Show's" 50th Anniversary

Andy Griffith's hometown prepares to celebrate "Mayberry's" 50th Anniversary.

See the link below for the full article.,0,5701391.story

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"Brady Bunch" Mom Florence Henderson Goes "Dancing"

The Classic TV Preservation Society would like to congratulate Florence Henderson, best known as Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch (ABC, 1969-1974), for being selected for this season's Dancing With The Stars.

Read more about Ms. Henderson and Dancing With The Stars by clicking on the links below.

"Dream Team of Stars Align for 'Dancing'",0,4090921.story

"Florence Henderson Retruns to the Stage",0,1654660.story

Monday, August 30, 2010

Classic TV Icon Stephen J. Cannell Shares His Secrets To "SUCCESS"

Emmy-winning TV writer and now novelist Stephen J. Cannell has earned numerous awards, including honors at the 2001 Festival de Television in Monte Carlo. Some of his television creations include The Rockford Files, 21 Jump Street (which featured a pre-superstar Johnny Depp), and The A-Team, which was recently remade as a feature film.

Cannell shared these secrets to success in the latest issue of Success Magazine:

"Lighten Up. Don't take yourself so seriously that you can't grow."

"You can create business and opportunity for yourself if you're willing to bet on yourself."

"Pour energy into your career, and it will make a difference."

"When you hire somebody, make sure they share your emotional philosophy and your human philosophy. Don't get somebody who has a different take on what is right and wrong."

"It's better to be underpaid. you won't be the first fired when the times are bad."

"Finish what you start. Broken manuscripts teach you nothing."

"Avoid saying no to an idea when you're in the room. Always bring it back to the den and kick it around before you thrown it out in the sand."

"Hire people who are better than you."

"Don't just play safe. Don't just throw your fastball. get out there and really mix it up."

"The joy must be in the doing. If you're focused on awards, on money, you're in the wrong place."

"Decide what you want to do. Don't let other people grade your paper."

"Root for your friends."

"Refuse to fail. Keep smiling, keep punching. Don't quit your dream."

To read the full article in SUCCESS MAGAZINE, click the link below.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

CTVPS Board Member Kathy Garver Cast In New Christmas Movie!

The Classic TV Preservation Society is proud to announce that Kathy Garver, one of our Board of Directors - and best known for portraying Cissy, on the TV classic, Family Affair, has been signed to co-star in the Christmas film, Santa's Dog, set for production this fall in San Francisco.

According to, Garver will play Sister Augustus, a nun at an orphanage where a boy named Max is about to face the loneliest Christmas of his life. That is, until he meets a talking dog and embarks on a magical, comical adventure to show he's worthy of being removed from Santa's "naughty" list and placed on the "nice" list instead.

Garver has appeared in TV series and movies, narrated audio books and provided character voices for children's animated programs. Until now, she has never played a nun, something she said she has always dreamed of doing.

"I attended Catholic schools as a girl, and I looked up to most of the nuns," Garver relayed to TalkMoviesWorld. "At the audition, I imagined myself as one of my teachers, Sister Virginia Mary Anne. She once made me write on the blackboard 'I will not disobey' 50 times."

Inspirational and family-themed projects are not new to Garver. She began her acting career playing a slave girl in the 1956 classic The Ten Commandments, in which she had two memorable scenes with Charlton Heston. As a teenager, she became a household name after being cast in Family Affair, which ran on CBS from 1966-1971.

In 2009, she received a prestigious Audie Award for her work on an audio book version of the Old Testament, with actors Richard Dreyfuss, Marisa Tomei and Michael York. Recently, she was selected to read the female stories in the audio version of the soon-to-be released book Chicken Soup for the Soul: A Book of Miracles, edited by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and LeAnn Thieman.

Like so many other characters she has played, Garver describes Sister Augustus in Santa's Dog as wise and uplifting, with a never-give-up attitude.

"Sister Augustus always encourages the orphan, Max, even though he has been rejected five times," Garver said. "It's the power of perseverance that I believe in strongly. You always have to believe that something good will happen."

Garver, who was born and raised in Southern California, moved to the Bay Area several years ago, where she currently resides with her husband and son.

Santa's Dog is being produced by Zemrak / Pirkle Productions, LLC, a Bay Area company owned by writer/producer Derek Zemrak and Leonard Pirkle, an attorney, writer and producer. The film is slated for release in time for Christmas, 2011.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Hollywood" Can Heal The Planet

Emotions are stirred, for better or for worse, via the media and the arts, either by reading or watching the news, or viewing a TV comedy, adventure or drama, or by attending a film or live stage performance. For centuries, the arts have effected our individual and combined psyche, as well as the heart and soul of all who exist. If we, of the entertainment industry, truly believe that "Hollywood," geographically or figuratively, is the land of "magic-makers," then we - the great magicians of word, performance, song and dance, screen and stage, reel and digital - have an awesome responsibility to the plight of humanity. Let's step up to the plate.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The DONNA REED Foundation for the Performing Arts

The Classic TV Preservation Society would like to call your attention to the DONNA REED FOUNDATION FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS. As the star of the classic television series, The Donna Reed Show (as well as classic feature films such as It's A Wonderful Life), Donna Reed (who passed away in 1986), remains an icon of the of the entertainment industry.

Based in Ms. Reed's hometown of Denison, Iowa, the DONNA REED FOUNDATION FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS operates to recognize, encourage, and support talent through national, state, and local scholarships, conduct workshops taught by outstanding industry professionals from across the country, and promote stage plays, concerts, and other cultural activities throughout the year. It also works towards supporting a performing arts center, full film archive, a museum, and professional studio facilities dedicated to developing new artists.

Please see this link for more information:

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Vince Staskel Addresses the Controversy Surrounding Jennifer Aniston and the "R" Word

The Classic TV Preservation Society is honored to have Vince Staskel - an advocate for the disabled in the media - on our Board of Directors. Wwe wanted to hear Vince's thoughts with regard to Jennifer Aniston and her recent and unfortunate employment of the "R" word, which is a reference to a deragatory term that is directed at those with any form of physical or mental disability.

HJP: Vince - before we address Jennifer Aniston and the R-Word, please tell us a little bit about who you are and your background.

VS: I was born with Cerebral Palsy and grew up in the '50s and '60s with very little, if any building accessibility. My college years in the '70s were mostly spent working on disability issues and trying to broaden the then faint glimmer of awareness of persons-with-disabilities. I studied the Civil Rights Movement and plugged in our rights as American Citizens. A perfect example was being taxed for local public transportation that I could not use. Maybe my black brothers and sisters had to sit in the back of the bus but at least they could get on the bus! In college I wanted to major in Broadcasting and Theatre but wheelchair inaccessibility dictated what career I had to choose. And both physical and attitudinal inaccessibility prevented me from getting the job I wanted. This was not an equal playing field and it had to change. I eventually went onto a thirty year career as a disability advocate and consultant working with all groups and segments of the community.

HJP: Ok - what is the issue core of the recent controversy surrounding Jennifer Aniston's insenstive remarks and the "R"-Word?

VS: I am fortunate to now be working in the entertainment industry advocating for performers-with-disabilities and media inclusion. I'm particularly aware that our industry is so insensitive to using words and situations that demean persons-with-disabilities. Where as the demeaning of any other minority would be met with outrage by the audience and industry itself. If we can not thread on the dignity of those persons then why can with thread on the dignity of disabled persons. It again is not an equal playing field.

HJP: Why do you think Jennifer Aniston, in particular, felt it was completely acceptable for her to use such a deragatory term? What is it, do you think, about her background and upbringing that lead her to believe that such wordage is "ok" to employ?

VS: Because she is oblivious to the hurtful intent meant by the R-word. As I stated above, being retarded or spastic or a fumbling blind person or loud deaf person is still seen as comedic. It is not funny to those who have to live their lives with the quite patronizing to mean spirited interactions by the public everyday. In my opinion, Jennifer Aniston lives in a sheltered world of admiration and privilege. She does not see or isn’t told by “her people” that the R-word is hurtful. Now of course the PC Police will alert her to not using the N-word, C-word, S-word etc. but not an iota of understanding of the R-word.

HJP: Why do you think the use of the "R"-word has become so acceptable in society today?

VS: It's like the last bastion of bad taste for the comedy word. "Come on it's just comedy" they will tell you. No it is not comedy. Just like the smiling, jiving black person or lazy, conniving Hispanic person is no longer comedy. That equal playing field again.

HJP: Do you think that mainstream usage of the "R-Word" will cease after this incident, or be altered in some way - for better or for worse?

VS: Yes it will change because it is in the process of changing now. Others have been called on their hurtful remarks using the R-word but it doesn't seem to last. There is no real out-cry against using it because as I said, it's just comedy. And even though the disability community is worth billions in advertising revenue we are still perceived as the helpless, dependent, needy segment in society that won't and shouldn't make a fuss. Well that to is changing. The new frontier of total media inclusion is right around the corner. It is now our screen time. Like other minorities the more you see us the more understanding and acceptance there is for us. Our status will rise. The disabled community will finally be important in society at every level.

HJP: What about the mainstream perception of those with disabilities? How do you believe those with disabilities are percieved in today's world?

VS: Again. I see that perception of the helpless that need to be taken care of. Our lives are presented as either over-the-top pitiful or over-the-top inspirational. Neither is the correct perception. We want to be presented in real-life situations the way it really is. Disabled people live, work, celebrate, and hurt just like every-one-else. There is no mystique about it.

HJP: How much of an effect do you believe the media's presentation, be it positive or negative, has on those with disbilities - and the perception of those with disabilities?

VS: The media can and will have a major impact on the perception of persons-with-disabilities. As you so poignantly state in LIFE STORY-THE BOOK OF LIFE GOES ON, the producers and writers on the show wanted to portray the character with Downs Syndrome as a regular high-school teenager just like every other teenager. The show was way ahead of it’s time in using a positive disability theme along with casting Chris Burke an actor with a real disability. Contrast that today with the television series GLEE or the motion picture THE MUSIC WITHIN. Here it seems the producers and writers went out of their way to cast non-disabled actors to play disabled. Where's Michael Braverman (creator of "Life Goes On") when you need him? HA!

HJP: If you ever met Jennifer Aniston, what would you relay to her with regard to this recent "R"-Word debacle? What would you say to her that would try to help her understand just how hurtful, discompassionate and insensitive her remarks have been?

VS: Well after I caught my breathe, I would tell her that many of my friends and former clients know exactly what that hurtful word means and how it affects them. I have been told by those folks how much it hurts them and hampers them in their lives of striving to be like every-one-else. Many of these same folks have careers, families, and independence. The use of hurtful, demeaning words sets back their progress and focuses a negative, unfair spotlight on them. Further, I would say that as "the nation's sweetheart" she could go a very long way in helping change that negative perception into a more positive and accurate portrayal of their lives.

HJP: What are your closing thoughts on this very sensitive matter of the "R"-Word?

VS: My first positive role model on television was Chris Burke in LIFE GOES ON. The show influenced my desire to perform because Chris was doing it. I was named National Poster Child of UCP back in 1955 when I met and appeared with Bob Hope in Washington, DC. That occasion was my first inspiration to work in show business. Becoming telephone buddies with Joey Bishop and working on the development of WITH-TV cemented my love for the industry. And now knowing Herbie J Pilato and working with the Classic TV Preservation Society brings me full circle in my quest to make the media arts more inclusive for all. We are not any "__ -Word" we are ourselves performing and living to the best of our "ability." We cast aside negativity and strive to have it eliminated in our lives. I can’t wait until society catches up! STOP THE R-WORD.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

We Salute Classic TV Icon Elizabeth Montgomery

Classic TV icon Elizabeth Montgomery is best known as "Samantha Stephens," the "witch-with-a-twitch" on ABC's long-running "Bewitched" TV series (1963-1972), which remains immortal in syndicated rereuns, and in an astoundingly-successful DVD release.

The core appeal of Bewitched rested with its star, who went on to appear in some of the most popular TV-movies ever made, including the ground-breaking "A Case of Rape" (which has become one of the Top Ten highest-rated TV-movies of All-Time) and "The Legend of Lizzie Borden."

Before and after "Bewitched," Montgomery made her presence known - on the big-screen and small, in live starge performances, and in live appearances around the world.

But what exactly is it about Elizabeth Montgomery's super popularity?

The Classic TV Preservation Society recently conducted a poll of its Facebook members, and asked them to explain Montgomery's special "magic" appeal.

Below is some of what they said (and please feel free to add your thoughts in the Commentary section).

Greg Ehrbar wrote:

"She was not only a dream woman to those of us who grew up loving her, she was also one the best actresses of the era. She made Samantha Stephens look so easy you could forget that she was playing a role. This may sound dumb, but I often forget that Samantha and Serena were the same person, even though I know it -- know what I mean? When Ms. M appeared on Password, her personality seemed to be a combination of both. And yet when she did dramatic roles, there was yet another dimension not present in the comedic characters. A superb artist and, as Samantha, truly magical."

Neil J. Weiner wrote:

"First real crush!"

Alice Miolée wrote:

"Elizabeth Montgomery and Bewitched are a part of my childhood, my adulthood and that of my children. She had inward and outward beauty, sparkling eyes and a beautiful voice. Her range of dramatic talent knew no bounds. Samantha...a rape victim...a murderess. My current profile pic as taken in Salem. A special, unique, loved and irreplaceable person receives a bronze statue in her most beloved, memorable and 'bewitching' role."

Todd Selsky wrote:

"I always thought of her as a little mysterious. I felt like we never knew much about the real Elizabeth. Sad that she died of cancer at 62. Aside from "Bewitched" I'll always remember her in "The Legend of Lizzy Borden." I was about 11 or 12 when I saw it."

Judith Evers wrote:

"I really liked Bewitched a lot. But I thought Ms. Montgomery did some wonderful work in all of her movies and not just playing the roll of Samantha Stevens. She was one fantastic talent and we lost her much too soon."

Pauline Martindale wrote:

"She is my favorite ever actress! I love her movies and can't wait to see the Samantha Statue in December! And she is a great role model for women and very classy and refined!"

Melissa Byers wrote:

"I've always loved Elizabeth. When I was a kid, I made my own 'witch book' with pictures and articles about Bewitched. I still have it! I watched everything else I could find with Elizabeth in it, as well. She was a woman of talent and great class."

Ray Caspio wrote:

"Bewitched was the first TV show I ever remember watching. It was on a small color television at my grandma's house when I was probably three years old, if that. I was a very precocious kid so it was used to keep me out of everyone's hair. The animated opening sequence combined with the music transfixed me (and I'm still mad the theme from the syndicated episodes wasn't used on the DVD!) and when Elizabeth appeared on the screen, she did the same. I don't know...there was something very accessible, yet private about her, even in that series. I sensed it from an early age. She managed to maintain an air of mystery while portraying such an endearing character. You could tell there was something much deeper going on within her, which is true of all good actors. They're much more than what they present on the surface. Those secrets are part of their charisma. You have to be really good to flesh out a character that's written for a sitcom, in order to present a full person. She did that. Elizabeth, as Samantha, represented possibility to me. Anything I wanted, I could have if I worked for it. She had the abilities to have whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted, but she wasn't satisfied with that. Her power was in herself. I wish that would have been more evident in the writing, but hey, it was the '60s and a character like Samantha was a bit revolutionary. I would have ditched the whole 'giving up powers to fit in' mentality...perhaps if it was written today? There are just so many happy thoughts I get whenever I read her name or see her on television. Like Lindsay Wagner's Jaime Sommers or Lynda Carter's Diana Prince, Samantha Stephens influenced me greatly. I learned so much about being a good person from all of them. I also learned that we don't always succeed, but we can always try. Beyond Bewitched, I remember some of Elizabeth's television movies where she really got to shine. I recently watched A Case of Rape and Lizzie Borden. Phenomenal. I'm glad these movies gave her the chance to really delve into what she could give as an actor and a person. In Lizzie Borden, I sympathized with her. She played her, phenomenally, as a person, not as a murderer. Her performance in A Case of Rape is spectacular. I'll cut it off before I ramble too much. As a child, she taught me it was OK to be different. As an adult, through her work, she has given me valuable acting lessons about individual truth and being present. And she stood up for equality for LGBT people. An all around fascinating, empowering, endearing, beautiful, charming, intelligent, well-spoken, mysterious, compassionate, complicated, and complex woman. I wish more of her work was available to the masses."

Vince Staskel wrote:

"I loved watching Elizabeth Montgomery on BEWITCHED. She had such a wonderful way to draw you into her character. You knew right from the start that she was a "good witch" who only wanted to do positive things for people. Samantha has a great deal of power but only used it sparingly for only good purposes. To me spiritually it showed the existance of true love in the world. I followed her career and saw the full range of her acting ability. Yes Ms. Montgomery could also play 'bad' excellently. As her fan who grew so did she as an actor. I was captivated by her. BEWITCHED was and still is a major part of my life experience. As a youngster television was a big part of my life and BEWITCHED was one of my favorite shows. I followed the career of Elizabeth Montgomery and was thrilled to see her starring in her own sitcom. Of course her beauty is one one the first things that catches your eye. But in addition to that her acting versatility"

Steve Randisi wrote:

"If I had to describe Elizabeth Montgomery in one word it would have to be wholesomeness. Beauty aside, she was a remarkably gifted actress who made the impossible seem possible. When she twitched her nose to make magic happen, you actuall...y believed it would happen. Her Samantha was the type of person you'd want for a friend -- kind, understanding, non-judgmental. Yet, she was capable of being firm if and when the situation warranted it. In later years, I found out that Elizabeth was an activist for many causes that I support. Like all spiritual teachers (and I do believe she was one) she left us way too soon."

David Raymond Morris wrote:

"Elizabeth had a combination of grace, beauty, down to Earth charm and sincerity. Much of the success of Bewitched had to do with that critical likabilty factor which she had big time. Her gentle, loyal demeanor played off perfectly against Darrin's caustic and often reactionary behavior. Elizabeth proved beyond that series however that she could also do gritty or unusual roles such as Lizzy Borden or A Case of Rape, which surprised many people who had typecast her in thieir mind as Samantha Stephens. I must confess personally that Liz will always be Samantha to me, she seemed to BE Samantha."

Monday, August 16, 2010

Our Misssion Statement:

To educate individuals, community, arts/media, business and academic organizations and institutions on the social significance and positive influence of classic television programming, with specific regard to family values, diversity in the work place, and mutual respect for all people of every cultural background and heritage, race and creed.

Friday, August 13, 2010

We're Not Just About TV Trivia

Classic TV.

It's not about trivia.

It's not about eccentricities.

It's not about obsessions.

It's not about the past.

It's about love, the simple treasures, and every good, true, sincere and happy moment that was ever filmed, taped and recorded; not just for posterity, but for warm inspiration and, of course, entertainment. It's about the sincere slices of life. The easy pace. The kind demeanors. The respectful stance and approach. It's about what used to be called courting, and families. It's about barbeques, playing bridge, and visiting with neighbors. It's about Sunday dinners, and even a few desserts. It's about caring, strong work ethics and understanding priorities. It's about slowing down, and not running. It's about acceptance, equality and tolerance. It's about embracing the moment, and understanding that life is not about yesterday or tomorrow. It's about today, and living life as fully and joyfully and as generously as possible. It's about sharing, and inclusion. It's about holding on to this moment, right now, this second...and knowing it's the one thing we can be sure of. Indeed, it's about time. Quality time. The kind worth spending. Or as that A&E slogan once relayed, "Time well spent."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Our Distinguished Board of Directors


Following a short but brilliant acting career playing roles like Stringbean in the 1986 classic film, Neon Maniacs, and after five years of fronting the popular post-punk bands Insect Idol, Grand Manner and The Big Sky, Matthew Asner decided that his true place was behind the camera. Today, Matthew is a producer/director whose credits include creating and producing the groundbreaking Showtime mini-series, Hiroshima. He teamed with director Roger Spottiswoode in creating the film's unique look, blending original and archival footage; and spent years researching and writing the film's scene-by-scene treatment; directed the North American video unit, and worked closely with the Japanese filmmakers during the shoot in Japan. Matthew spent one year in Montreal as the film's sole American producer in Canada, and Hiroshima went on to win numerous awards - including the coveted Humanitas Prize. He has also served as a consultant on the Showtime movies, The Life And Times Of Joe Bonnano (produced in Canada) and Promises to Keep, and has conducted interviews with some of the biggest newsmakers of our time (including President Bill Clinton, Scientist Edward Teller and Israeli Prime Ministers Netanyahu and Barak and Palestinian dignitary Saib Erakat). Matthew has also produced the acclaimed feature documentaries for Moriah Films, where he spent three years before joining lifelong friend, Danny Gold, in forming Mod 3 Productions. Over the past four years Matthew and Danny have produced written and directed several projects for studios and networks such as the History Channel, MTV, Dreamworks, Miramax, Warner Bros and Fox to name a few. Mod 3 Productions has also produced the special first season DVD releases of classic TV shows such as The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Their most current projects include Alpha Company, a thirteen part series about 12 soldiers and their experiences together in training and through their deployment Iraq; and Season Of The Samurai, a documentary comedy about an all-Japanese baseball team playing in the American Minor Leagues for an entire season (which was an official selection to the Santa Barbara Film Festival and the opening film at the Just For Laughs Festival). Matthew has an Autistic son and has dedicated himself to working with charitable organizations such as Autism Speaks and fighting for the rights of those with special needs and in special education. For more information about Mod 3 Productions, please visit


Born in El Paso, Texas but raised in New York, AFI Best Actress nominee and People's Choice Award winner Lydia Cornell is best known as Sara Rush - Ted Knight's hot-yet-adorably-dim daughter on ABC-TV's classic TV hit, Too Close for Comfort (1980-1986). Lydia has also made over 250 TV appearances on shows like Full House, The Dukes of Hazzard, Knight Rider, The A-Team, Hunter, Hotel, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, T.J. Hooker, Quantum Leap, and most recently, in HBO's hit, Curb Your Enthusiasm. She co-stars with Oscar winners James Earl Jones, Jose Ferrer and Lila Kedrova in The Red Tide, as well as with Robert Downey, Jr., Jon Bon Jovi and Sara Silverman in Dean Grakal's upcoming Sundance release, Me, Miami and Nancy, and in the critically-acclaimed feature Damage Done. Into this mix, Lydia stars in a live original three-woman show, Pain is Inevitable, Sex Optional; and does stand-up comedy at The Improv and The Laugh Factory in Los Angeles, as well as at the Riviera and Sahara hotels in Las Vegas, where she’s opening for Paul Rodriguez at Pechanga 1500 seat theater. A dedicated political and social activist, Lydia volunteers for The Red Cross and Imagine L.A., helps the homeless and troubled youth, houses a domestic abuse survivor, is raising a special-needs child (who has Osteogenesis Imperfecta - the brittle bone disease); has hosted the Oxygen Network documentary Safe Passage (about battered women); and authored countless spiritual-political articles, one of which was titled Death is Sexier Than Sex. Here, Lydia courageously confronted Ann Coulter, which inspired disabled Marine combat vet John Conley to send her his Purple Heart. A triple Koufax nominee for best writing, Lydia is the recipient of many literary awards, including the USO Distinguished Service Award for her Beirut war zone trip, the Thinking Blogger Award, the Freedom Award, Political Voices of Women Best Writing Awards, the Weblog Award and three World Report Awards. Lydia has recently been invited to contribute her work to The International Museum of Peace (which houses letters from Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mother Teresa and Maya Angelou); currently interviews world leaders, presidential candidates and Pulitzer Prizewinners for her new radio show, and stars in the new Kelsey Grammer-Bill Zucker Comedy Hour. She is also the Founder of the upcoming Comedy Dance Film Festival, which she will co-host with Saturday Night Live alum Jon Lovitz at his Comedy Club in Universal City Walk in 2011 – a year that will also see the publication of her new comic memoir. For more information, please log onto:


Fondly remembered for her starring role as Cissy in the long-running CBS prime-time Classic TV family comedy hit, Family Affair, Kathy Garver has also garnered critical acclaim in motion pictures, on the stage and radio, and with voice-over animation, audio book narration and radio and television hosting. With her star now on the Walk of Fame in Palm Springs, her vast and extensive career is now slated in stone. From her initial foray into show business as the young slave Rachel in the 1956 epic feature film, The Ten Commandments, Kathy has never been out of the public eye, and continues to work frequently. Her present projects include: Snuggy Bear, a live action /animation show; TV Dinners, a cooking show for which she will serve as host, and producing and performing in Soupernatural, a family oriented movie. Kathy's first book, The Family Affair Cookbook, was released in 2009, she’s presently working on her second nonfiction tome, in the process of recording her new workbook, Creating Excellence in Audio Narration, and hosting Backstage with Barry and Kathy in San Francisco. With the vast experience she earned as a former member of the SAG Young People's Committee, Kathy presently serves as President of The Family Affair Foundation (whose mission it is to provide reading companions to the elderly and disadvantaged youth), and she continues to do much to help many worthwhile charities. Kathy lives in the California Bay Area with her husband, David, son, Reid, and Cocker Spaniel, Coco. [For more information, please visit:]


Danny Gold is an Executive Producer who was directly responsible for, discovering and setting up MGM's successful Agent Cody Banks feature film franchise. After a career as an Entertainment Attorney who specialized in all aspects of production, in 1998, Danny left the practice of law to devote his efforts to producing and writing. In the next four years, Danny produced five feature films including two for Flashpoint Pictures: 18 Shades of Dust (starring Danny Aiello and William Forsythe) and Love and Action In Chicago (starring Courtney B. Vance, Jason Seinfeld Alexander, Kathleen Turner, Regina King and Edward Asner), the latter of which was an official selection to The Toronto Film Festival in 1999. Danny's other films include Wish You Were Dead (starring Cary Elwes, Elaine Hendrix, Christopher Lloyd, Mary Steenburgen, Gene Simmons and Robert Englund, for Icon Productions/Newmarket Capitol), Agent Cody Banks (starring Frankie Malcom in the Middle Muniz and Hillary Duff) and Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London (also starring Muniz and Anthony Anderson). Danny's desire to expand creatively as a Writer, Director and Producer led to his formation of Mod 3 Productions (M3P) with his lifelong friend, Matthew Asner. Danny has found commercial and creative success in producing projects in the motion picture, television and DVD genres, including producing the first season DVD releases of classic TV shows like Kung Fu and CHiPs. With his extensive production experience and creative ingenuity, Danny continues to be an invaluable addition to the M3P family. For more information about Mod 3 Productions, please visit


Karen L. Herman is the Director of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation's Archive of American Television. The Archive preserves the history of American broadcasting by videotaping comprehensive oral history interviews with TV's legends and makes them available worldwide through various platforms including www.EMMYTVLEGENDS.ORG. The Archive also manages the video assets of the Television Academy. In addition, she spearheads the Academy Foundation's Living Television initiative, which oversees a curriculum to teach college students nationwide how to conduct oral history interviews with television pioneers in their own locales. Prior to joining the Academy Foundation in 1997, Karen worked as a magazine editor and writer in Cleveland, Ohio and has served as an interviewer with Steven Spielberg's Shoah Visual History Foundation. Karen began her career as a creative executive in advertising and direct marketing. She is a graduate of Northwestern University and has studied production at the University of Southern California.


James J. Kolb, Ph.D. is Professor of Drama at Hofstra University on Long Island. His B.A. degree, summa cum laude, was earned at St. John Fisher College, Rochester, New York in 1966, his M.A. and Ph.D. from New York University in 1968 and 1974. A teacher of theatre history and dramatic literature since 1969, Professor Kolb taught for fifteen years at Nazareth College in Rochester, New York, where he was also chairman of the Theatre Arts Program for seven years and was a frequent stage director of musicals, operas and plays. After three years as a full-time administrator in University College for Continuing Education at Hofstra, Professor Kolb returned to the classroom as a full-time teacher in the fall of 1988. He served as Chair of the Department of Drama and Dance at Hofstra University from 2000 to 2006. At Hofstra University he has directed one production annually for the past twenty-plus years including six Shakespeare productions (The Merry Wives of Windsor, Macbeth, Two Noble Kinsmen, A Midsummer Nights Dream, Julius Caesar, and The Tempest), an original project, Shakespeare Revued, Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe, Eugene O’Neill's Ah, Wilderness!, Bernstein, Comden and Green's musical, On the Town, Robert David MacDonald's Camille, Euripides's Iphigenia at Aulis and Iphigenia in Tauris, Aristophanes's The Birds, Kaufman and Ferber's Stage Door, Harold Pinter's Old Times, and Cristina Calvit's adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, among others. For more than a decade at Nazareth College, Professor Kolb taught an annual undergraduate course in the American Musical Theatre, which is one of his special interests. He now teaches a similar course at Hofstra University for Honors College and for the Musical Theatre minor in the Department of Drama and Dance. On five occasions he has taught in Elderhostel, each time presenting a series of lectures on a different facet of American musical theatre. He has also lectured on musical theatre on two occasions for Elder College and for numerous libraries and Senior Citizen groups. On Long Island he lectures regularly at the Peninsula Public Library (Lawrence), the Five Towns Senior Center (Woodmere), Port Washington Public Library, Manhasset Public Library, Half Hollow Hills Library, the Commack Y, and various other locations. He averages approximately sixty lectures per year. As a "Speaker in the Humanities" from 1990 to 1995, he lectured extensively for the New York Council for the Humanities on aspects of the American musical theatre throughout New York State. During 2003-2005 he was once again a "Speaker in the Humanities," presenting a lecture on "Eugene O’Neill and the Drama of the Dysfunctional American Family." With the Hofstra University Cultural Center Professor Kolb has served as Co-Director of multi-day conferences on the "Theatre of the 1920s" (1994) and "The American Musical Theatre" (2003). He also served as Director for a three-day Symposium on "Bond, James Bond: The World of 007" (2007). He has also served as a participant, presenter and moderator at numerous other conferences. Recent publications include an essay, The Cid: Four Operatic Transformations of a Spanish Classic, in The Hispanic Connection: Spanish and Spanish-American Literature in the Arts of the World, edited by Zenia Sacks DaSilva (Greenwood Press, April 2004); as well as co–editing with Arthur Gewirtz Experimenters, Rebels, and Disparate Voices: The Theatre of the 1920s Celebrates American Diversity (Greenwood Press/Praeger, July 2003) and Art, Glitter, and Glitz: Mainstream Playwrights and Popular Theatre in 1920s America (Greenwood Press/Praeger, October 2004).


Ricky Powell was born on August 10, 1962, in Monterey Park, California. At the age of four, he moved to Beverly Hills where he fulfilled his earliest dream of becoming an actor. Powell enjoyed a 13-year career in acting starting at the age of seven. He worked with some of Hollywood’s biggest legends, such as Edward G. Robinson, Bob Hope, Henry Fonda, Topol, Michael Landon, Ron Howard and Tom Cruise. He was featured in many TV shows of the '70's including Bewitched, The Mod Squad, The Rockford Files, and Night Gallery. In addition to television and film, Powell was featured in over twenty national commercial spots, from McDonalds and KFC to Eggo Waffles and Trident. After earning his BA at CSUN in 1985, he began his post production career at Witt/Thomas/Harris productions working on Benson, The Golden Girls and Empty Nest among others. In 1989, he joined the Director's Guild of America and became post associate director and post production manager for the company. One year later, Powell transitioned to NBC where he has spent the past 20 years as the Supervising AD of program preparation. He and his team handle every entertainment and reality show that air on the network. In March of 2009, Powell helped launch the NBC/Universal chapter of Toastmasters International where he has served as VP of Education for the past two terms. Additionally, Powell launched a website in 2007 called, The mission of the site is to demonstrate that happiness is a choice that anyone can make at any time, regardless of their outer circumstances. After receiving very positive feedback from visitors spanning over 30 countries, Powell is working on a follow up website which will offer premium content. It will incorporate articles, blogs, videos, audios and quotes along with teleconferences featuring interviews with experts in the field of self development. There will also be calls with everyday people who have overcome adverse situations who now enjoy fulfilled and happy lives. There will be a mastermind group where members can create their own profiles and connect with other members. Life coaching will be offered at a discounted rate for premium members as well. Ricky Powell has spoken both inside and outside NBC on the subject of happiness and how to incorporate it into your life on a daily basis.


Rob Ray is a classic media archivist with an astounding collection of film and television programs on video, laserdisc, DVD and BluRay. Since 1980, Rob has amassed a treasury that includes thousands of movies and TV shows, with an emphasis on cinema and series from the Golden Age of Hollywood and Television (the latter sector of which includes variety specials from the medium's early decades). Classic motion pictures from Rob's heralded collection screen each Friday night as part of the Long Beach Independent School District’s Friday Film Forum, for which he serves as Film Programmer, and which showcases movies, shorts and cartoons from the 1920s through the end of the studio era. Rob provides liner notes and leads a discussion following each week's screening at the Film Forum, which also periodically presents special events featuring notable classic TV guests. A few recent special evenings have hosted Betty Garrett, best known as Irene Lorenzo on All in the Family and Mrs. Babish on Laverne and Shirley, and Gavin MacLeod, who played Murray Slaughter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Captain Stubing on The Love Boat. Rob is also an esteemed TV and film critic, whose reviews of classics on video have appeared in publications such as The Past Times Newsletter. A long-standing member of the Society for Cinephiles, and the Alex Film Society, Rob is the quintessential baby boomer. He was virtually weaned on the classic sitcoms of the 1950s and early 1960s, including December Bride, Make Room for Daddy, The Bob Cummings Show, The Real McCoys, The Andy Griffith Show, Father Knows Best and Leave It To Beaver. He has a particular interest in I Love Lucy, for which his earliest memory is viewing Desi Arnaz as Ricky Ricardo receiving a pie in the face (in the episode, titled, The Audition). Rob also recalls watching everything from The Dick Van Dyke Show and Bewitched to The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction in their original network airings; has fond memories of long-forgotten series such as Occasional Wife (starring Michael Callan and Patricia Harty; NBC, 1966-67), and still bears the scars inflicted by the likes of Grindl (starring Imogene Your Show Of Shows Coca, 1963-64, NBC).


Nevine Salvade was blessed with the gift of life among many different lands, cultures, races and religions. Having lived on three different continents, she quickly learned to love the differences in people as well as speak five languages. Salvade hopes to awaken inner voices and aid in bringing about a new consciousness. Born in Cairo, Egypt, Salvade grew up in war-torn Lebanon, and lived in Europe and the USA. She experienced the struggle of war and man's inhumanity to man due to greed, lack of compassion and lack of connectedness. Salvade's search for meaning and purpose soon led to the discovery of her own inner, innate gifts. That connection brought forth in Salvade a message of compassion and one humanity. Synchronicity, a coincidence that seems to be meaningfully related, is something in Salvade's experience that has driven events in her life that she believes were meant to occur for her spiritual growth. Her first book, COMPASSION: A JOURNEY INTO SELF, INTO THE LIGHT AND A PATH TOWARD PEACE (Author House, 2008), offers the details of her astounding quest.


Vince Staskel has been a television fan all his life. Growing up in Shenandoah, PA during the 1950's and '60's, TV was his companion and playmate. Vince was born with Cerebral Palsy and walked with crutches as a child. He found it difficult to participate in many outdoor childhood activities due to limited mobility. Early TV shows gave him not only the opportunity to watch but actually participate in the on-screen action. As he recalls, "I would dance on American Bandstand, wear my coonskin cap during Davey Crocket, fire my toy rifle with The Rifleman, and clown around with The Three Stooges. These shows became my friends and playmates." As such, Vince became quite interested in the process of television and performing. In his teens he memorized the names of his favorite character actors. He sent fan letters to shows that ultimately lead to his early Hollywood collection of memorabilia. "I fell in love with show business," he says. When it became time to pursue a college education, Vince opted to major in Broadcasting, and he was "thrilled to be accepted at the regional community college. My parents and I traveled 75 miles only to meet the Dean of the Department standing at the top of a thirty-five step staircase that lead to the classrooms and studios. Now using a wheelchair I was disheartened and settled for a general two year liberal arts degree in a less wheelchair inaccessible part of the campus." With his Associates Degree, Vince transferred to a 4-year college but found their Theatre Department to be as physically remote as before. He was then convinced by a Guidance Counselor to study Rehabilitation Counseling. Logically he believed this career would at least accommodate him when I graduated. Stages and studios were wheelchair inaccessible but not human service agencies. So he eventually earned a Masters Degree in Special Education. The field of disability advocacy was his life for thirty years. However, he never lost his love for show business. In 2005 he found out about WithTV - and its mission to create a cable television channel devoted to inclusion for performers-with-disabilities, and he’s been working on its development ever since. Upon his retirement from legal rights advocacy in 2009, he began promoting media inclusion on a full-time basis. He then soon learned about The Classic TV Preservation Society, and its support of performers-with-disabilities and family-oriented productions. For Vince, serving on the Board of Directors allows his life to come full-circle. As he explains, "To watch classic television shows as a kid, then encountering wheelchair inaccessibility in broadcasting as an adult, to now participating in a fully inclusive media venture that seeks to preserve the shows from my childhood is really a dream come true for me."


Thomas Warfield is a world-renown performer, model, composer, choreographer, director, producer, educator, humanitarian and poet. His countless performances include La Boheme at the Metropolitan Opera, and a solo concert at the Franco American Institute in France. He’s worked with blind students in Taiwan, the homeless in Utah, school children in Hawaii, and in many more global locations. The son of a minister and a conductor, and nephew of singers William Warfield and Leontyne Price, Thomas is Assistant Professor in the Department of Cultural and Creative Studies at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) where he teaches Performing Arts and an original course on Identity in Social Sciences. He is the also director of the RIT/NTID Dance Company and Chairs the RIT President’s Commission for Pluralism & Inclusion. He’s been praised by The New York Times, Hong Kong Daily Standard, Salt Lake Tribune, News and Observer (Raleigh, NC), and others. Thomas has been the soloist at Unity Church in his hometown of Rochester, New York for more than sixteen years, as well as soloist at the Chilmark Community Church on Martha's Vineyard since 1988. He earned a BFA degree from SUNY Purchase, achieving the President’s Award for Excellence. As an MFA candidate, he received a Research Fellowship from the University of Utah in Dance Ethnology. He studied at the School of American Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance and Alvin Ailey School. He’s danced with companies in Sweden, Hong Kong and New York City, and performed material by Balanchine, Graham, and more. He's worked with directors Franco Zefferelli and Spike Lee, composers John Adams and Marvin Hamlisch, scientist Carl Sagan, singers Placido Domingo, Beverly Sills and others. His musical repertoire spans German lieder to gospel. His numerous acting credits include The Tinman in The Wiz and Shakespeare's Hamlet. Thomas is the founder/artistic director of PeaceArt International - a global outreach nonprofit organization utilizing the arts and the creative process to foster world peace. His work raises awareness and significant dollars for orphans around the world with HIV/AIDS. He is a frequent guest speaker at U.S. conferences on peace, justice, social activism, creativity and spiritual awareness. His album, Celebrate the Moment, is available on and He attributes his passion and blessings to the SPIRIT of love. For more information, please visit /

(Executive Consultant to the Board)

Synonymous with landmark Television programming, Ed Spielman has created, written and/or executive produced over 300 hours of prime-time entertainment with immediate recognition world-wide. As the creator of the ground-breaking TV series Kung Fu (which debuted on ABC in 1972), Ed composed a 90-minute pilot movie that went on to become America's first martial arts film - one that ignited a world-wide martial arts boom. An Emmy award-winning Eastern Western and now contemporary classic, Kung Fu has been cited by Entertainment Weekly as "one of the 100 best television shows of all time." Ed also created the Emmy award-winning series The Young Riders, which returned the Western to the prime-time TV (on ABC, 1989). The Young Riders pilot earned Ed the coveted Western Heritage Award (which he has won four times) and, for his contribution, the prolific scribe was inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame (an honor shared by such luminaries as John Wayne). In a career that now spans several decades, Ed Spielman's creations have been seen internationally, and produced by virtually every major motion picture studio and television network. Another of his television series, Dead Man's Gun (which debuted on Showtime in 1997, and which he produced in partnership with MGM Productions, Henry Winkler, Howard Spielman and Sugar Entertainment, Ltd.) was nominated for three cable ACE Awards (including Best Dramatic Series) and received six LEO nominations. Ed has the rare distinction of being the only Writer/Producer in Television history to have created and placed a Western series on the air - every decade for thirty years - at a time when Westerns were not even in vogue. Ed is also the author of a biography about adventurer and health philosopher Joseph L. Greenstein, titled, The Mighty Atom: The Spiritual Journey Of Joseph L. Greenstein - World's Strongest Man. This book, which is in its second edition, has been published world-wide, and was chosen by the American Library Association as "one of the year's best books." Besides the aforementioned four Western Heritage Awards, Ed is recipient of the Writers Guild of Canada Top Ten Award of Excellence, and has been presented with an Honorary Life Membership in The Writers Guild of America, West, Inc. Ed is currently an Executive Producer/Writer with Legendary Pictures/Warner Bros, and is developing his original Kung Fu television series into a feature film. A life-long classic car enthusiast, Ed lives in Southern California with his wife Bonnie, a house full of pet animals, and a small fleet of vintage cars.