Friday, December 09, 2011

My Top Ten Christmas Songs, 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.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Hollywood Bowl and Michael Feinstein Play Elegant Host To Classic TV Stars

For countless Friday nights at 8 PM, Florence Henderson performed on The Brady Bunch.

For one very special Friday night at 9 PM, Florence Henderson performed with Michael Feinstein and the Singing Stars of TV.

Millions originally experienced the former from 1969 to 1973, via the magic of television, specifically ABC.

A few lucky thousand experienced the latter on July 29th, 2011, live at The Hollywood Bowl.

With either performance, Ms. Henderson sang the theme to The Brady Bunch, and it was heavenly to hear. Hearing it live, however, was seventh-heavenly.

Of course it didn't hurt that Ms. Henderson, elegant and seemingly immortal in a graceful canary full-length sequence gown, performed, sequence...along with the one and only Dick Van Dyke, super talent Wayne Brady and contemporary retro king Cheyenne Jackson. Each was introduced by the indelible Michael Feinstein playing perfect host, vocalist and pianist with the pristine Jack Everly conducting a crystal-clear sounding Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.

Can you tell I liked the show?

How could you not?

There was Mr. Feinstein, the legend and in top-form, with wit, song and keyboard, playing both exquisite performer and gracious host to Ms. Henderson and Mr. Van Dyke, each entertainment legends who commenced and flourished with their careers on the Broadway stage.

Mr. Brady, who at only 39, remains a renaissance man if there ever was one. He is an unstoppable yet humble talent that evergreens a breath of fresh air with a charm that is merely outweighed by his charisma.

Mr. Jackson ever holds captive his audience, be it live or any of numerous screen performances (notably and most recently on Glee).

Michael Feinstein and the Singing Stars of TV perform again tonight.

Don't miss it.


To order tickets for Michael Feinstein and the Singing Stars of TV, click on this link:

Saturday, May 07, 2011

"Disability Media-Alive, Well & Growing" by Vince Staskel

My career and my passion for the past 32 years professionally and 61 years personally has been gaining social inclusion for persons-with-disabilities. After retiring as a legal rights advocate and accessibility consultant I pursued my passion of working within the entertainment industry promoting performers-with-disabilities.

I left the familiar agency setting for the new emerging world of "Disability Media." With-in a five year span this new field has lossomed. Our ultimate goal is to have disabled performers appearing regularly on screen. However for now the media opportunities available for us is on the rise.

One great effort is Disabled Radio hosted by the dynamic Chicago advocate and writer Rob Pritts. I am delighted to be a co-producer along with Sara Powell of this show. After writing From CP To CPA Rob is successfully taking on internet radio. The show's ever increasing audience and appearance requests attests to Disabled Radio being an effective voice on disability issues.

Another outstanding project is This Is Life getting very close to re-launching on KFMB-FM in LA with plans for syndication on additional CBS affiliates throughout the country. This Is Life has the very talented team of stars.

Toby Forrest the actor you've seen on The Defenders whose band Cityzen is breaking out nationally.

TV Icon Geri Jewell from The Facts of Life and Deadwood. Her autobiography I'm Standing As Straight As I Can is a best seller.

Comic great Kathy Buckley who as the nation's first hearing-impaired stand-up comedian has authored If You Could Hear What I See tours internationally in support of deaf education.

The show helmed by Producer Mike Steiner has gathered award winning industry professionals to guide it through a bright future on the radio. I am thrilled to assist both Mike and Barbara Glassman in generating potential sponsors.

This Is Life had a very good run of WebTalk Radio last year.

The project that got me started was Howard Renensland and his [with]]tv a fully inclusive television and internet showcase for performers, writers, and producers with disabilities. Howard's intensity and drive was the exact catalyst for me to see the immense need for a viable venue to present our creativity.

As the Director of Volunteers, I continue to "get-the-word-out,"while Howard and his business team secure investors, sponsors, and financial support.

What these three projects represent is how welcoming a world it is. Talented people utilizing their creative energies to find their place in show business and succeed. The media playing field is becoming more level. Yes we do need more acceptance out there. However in my 61 years I am seeing such outstanding opportunities for a very inclusive entertainment industry ahead.

The works detailed above are ones I am presently assisting. There a more shows, films, productions, and blogs available. Please check them out for your enjoyment and support. The world of disability media is fully accessible.


For more information, log on to:

Friday, April 22, 2011

Guest Blog: "MediaBility" by Vince Staskel

Every so often we like to post entries from various guest bloggers. This week, we have a post from Vince Staskel, one of our Board of Directors on the CTVPS. Vince, who is physically-challenged, is a media advocate for the disabled, and serves on the Board of Directors for The Classic TV Preservation Society.

His quest with this blog will is to highlight the positive change in the Entertainment Industry when it comes to recognizing and hiring performers-with-disabilities. That said, he commences with an essay on the efforts of actor Paul Reiser (Mad About You) in casting wheelchair-using actor Brad Waidmann in the role of his son on his new NBC sitcom The Paul Reiser Show.

Below is the first of what will be periodic blog posts from Vince Staskel.

Thank you,

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


I understand that Paul Reiser and producers of The Paul Reiser Show sent out an Open Online Casting Call for actors in wheelchairs from 10-13 years of age, who are sweet and funny.

Well they found all that in 12 year-old actor Brock Waidmann for the role of Zeke. Brock was born with both Spina Bifida and Agenesis Corpus Callosum (ACC) affecting both sides of his brain. However, these disabilities have never limited Brock in any way. Born in Camarillo, Calif. Brock acted in elementary school productions, swims and plays bocce ball with the Special Olympics, and earns awards as a Cub Scout.

Brock's two younger brothers are both actors. Their Agent Cinda Snow also knew of Brock's interest in acting. When Cinda discovered that Reiser was looking for young disabled actors she arranged an audition with Warner Bros., and the rest is history.

It was Reiser's insight into disability because his own son has Cerebral Palsy and he wanted his TV son to be disabled as well. A major actor in the guise of Paul Reiser is displaying a positive personal awareness of disability in seeking to cast Waidmann as Zeke. I also commend talent agent Cinda Snow, who recognized a good actor who happened to be disabled for the role. Both Reiser and Snow have become key players in breaking a significant barrier to acceptance. They sincerely desired to cast a "disabled actor" and hired a very talented one.

This is a very positive change taking place in show business today. Brock Waidmann is certainly not the first performer-with-disability to succeed in Hollywood (I will be discussing those in future entries). However I am seeing a definite trend to including disability and actors with disabilities with a lot more ease today then in the past. What a wonderful direction the entertainment industry is taking.

BRAVO, folks!

And - man - if I was only 48 years younger!


(For more information, or to contact Vince Staskel, please email:

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The New Family TV-Show

I'm gonna' create a one-hour family TV show along the lines of "Life Goes On" (the first two seasons), and "The Waltons" (the first five seasons), set it in contemporary time...and have the characters interact with one another in very realistic ways. They wil be happy with each other, get angry with and disappointed in one another. They will hurt and forgive one another. And yet all of this will be displayed without violence and vulgarity, and minus all the manic camera angles and cuts, and the "edgy" presentation style that the networks presently think today's audiences want to see. In short, the iconic "Seal of Good Practice" shall be re-instated with this new show.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Is "I Love Lucy" Educational? The CTVPS says, "Of course it is!"

This beautiful article goes right to the heart of what the Classic TV Preservation Society is all about.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

"Angels," "Wonder Women" & "Perry Mason": It's All About Casting - An ALL-BLOGS-Points Bulletin!

I am so shocked at the miscasting of the new and updated editions of "Charlie's Angels" (set for ABC) and "Wonder Woman" (NBC), that I have been inspired (forced!) to make my first multi-blog replicant post.

Translation: This post will be the first to also appear simultaneously on each of my blogs (see list below for details).

To start things off, I'm reminded of what my good friend, actor Richard Anderson once relayed to me. Richard, of course, is best known for his iconic performance as "Oscar Goldman" on "The Six Million Dollar Man" and "The Bionic Woman." But he also had a recurring role as "Lt. Steve Drumm" on Raymond Burr's classic "Perry Mason" TV series.

As Richard once relayed about working the legendary Burr, the "Mason" believed very strongly that the key to the success of ANY television show (or film and play, for that matter) was CASTING.

"If you don't have the right actor in the right role," Burr told Anderson, "then you won't have a hit."

Sad to say, this was the case a few years back when Michelle Ryan was cast as the new "Jaime Sommers" in NBC's 2007 remake of ABC's "The Bionic Woman."

Granted - there were many other issues with that reconstructed BW, but the truth of the matter is: Michelle Ryan simply did not have the same warmth or natural beauty that Lindsay Wagner brought to the original "Sommers" series.

Such now is a similar case with the re-dos of "Charlie's Angels" and "Wonder Woman," both of which are now in development and in the pilot-filming stage.

Adrianne Palicki has been cast as the new "Diana Prince" and "Wonder Woman" in the revamped WW series (which for some reason transforms the lead heroine into a vigilante), and Rachel Taylor, Minka Kelly, and Annie Ilonzeh will be new "Angels" - all lead by the new "Charlie," to be portrayed off-screen by Robert Wagner.

With the exception of Wagner as the "Angel's" boss, all of these actors are simply miscast.

Palicki as WW, and Taylor, Kell and Ilonzeh as the new Angels are okay choices...but they do not come anywhere near the classic, iconic, sophisticated, elegant and regal grace and beauty of original WW Lynda Carter, and original Angels Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith.

The "Charlie's Angels" feature films of a few years back also made this same mistake: Drew Barrymore? Cameron Diaz? Lucy Liu?

Again, all very pretty women...but "Angel" material?

Where was Ashley Judd? Catherine Zita-Jones? Michelle Pfeiffer?

Now THAT'S class and distinction!

Overall, it's just such a shame that those behind the scenes of the new WW and CA are just plain clueless as to what true star power is required for their revamps.

I just don't get it how THEY just don't get it!

Maybe I'll be proved wrong. Maybe the new WW and CA actressess will "knock it out of the park!"

But I'm thinking that's just not gonnna' happen...and the "Wonder Woman" and "Charlie's Angels" franchises will be sunk for years to come.

This same post may be found at the following blogs:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Two Recent Radio Appearances

Hello All -

In case you missed my two recent radio appearances, below please see the link for both shows.

Kind regards,

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

"Roaring Success Radio Hour" (2/9/11)

"The CEO Hour" (2/11/11)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The CTVPS Is Seeking Grant Writers

Dear Classic TV Enthusiast:

As you might imagine, it is no easy feat to establish a nonprofit organization, but it is nonetheless thrilling - and wI look forward to many fulfilling years ahead.

We are moving into our second year in operation, and our first order of business is to seek out and find professional and experienced grant writers who will be able to secure funding for many of our needs, none the least of which is our Classic TV Semanars (which will we offer to schools, colleges and community and business organizations around the country).

If you know of any available grant writers, please have them contact the CTVPS via

Thank you so much for your appreciation of all things classic TV - and we look forward to a banner year.

With good thoughts of the past to the present and the future,

Herbie J Pilato
Founder & Executive Director
The Classic TV Preservation Society
"We celebrate the integrity of classic television"

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Classic TV Seminars

The CTVPS offers Classic TV Seminars to schools, colleges, and business and community organizations. They are an integral part of our organization, and we are very proud and honored to offer them with such positive results.

Below please find an overview of our CLASSIC TV SEMINARS program.

Thank you.

Herbie J Pilato
Founder & Executive Director


presented by

The Classic TV Preservation Society


The Classic TV Preservation Society offers three basic seminars to schools, colleges, community, senior, media-arts and business organizations to enhance the self-esteem and positive socialization of each participant:

1] Self-Esteem Seminars are presented to each of the above mentioned sectors

2] Acting As Caregiver Seminars are geared toward helping caregivers of all ages cope with the everyday challenges of caring for an ailing relative or friend.

3] S.M.A.R.T. Seminars are designed specifically for senior communities with residents ages 55 and older.

Some of the programs presented with each Seminar include:

Classic TV History, which addresses the message, theme and meaning of classic shows including I Love Lucy, Father Knows Best, Perry Mason, The Andy Griffith Show, That Girl, Marcus Welby, MD, All In The Family and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The seminars also address classic movies that air on TV, including Casablanca and The Ten Commandments, as well as actors like Jimmy Stewart and Barbara Stanwick.

Classic TV Acting For The Stage engages participants in understanding the craft, creation, and performance of their favorite shows on stage (which is more animated and verbose than acting so for the camera).

Classic TV Acting For The Camera helps participants to better understand the difference and similarities between performing on stage and for the camera.

How To Apply Classic TV Acting To Real Life assists participants with gathering information on theatrical performing, and how doing so may benefit the physical, psychological and spiritual aspects of their everyday lives.

How To Write Your Life Story with The Assistance of Classic TV instructs participants to write the story of their life by organizing their thoughts to increase the strength and use of their cognitive thinking.

How To Dance To The Classic TV Music Of Your Life encourages participants to employ joyful sound, theatrical exercises and movement to meet various life challenges while listening to and exploring the fun aspects of classic TV show themes (such as from Gilligan's Island, The Brady Bunch and The Golden Girls).


The main message of each seminar, beginning with the Self-Esteem Seminars, is this:

Television, in general, and classic television, in particular, is an untapped resource for education. Many shows from the past including Perry Mason, Bewitched, Kung Fu, The Six Million Dollar Man, Medical Center, and Life Goes On, among many others, hold lessons for us all.

For example, Samantha the witch-with-a-twitch Stephens on Bewitched could have married the most successful, wealthiest and most handsome man with the best personality. Instead, she married Darrin - a regular man. Samantha fell in love with Darrin for who he was - and not for what he could do for her - or buy her. Because whatever he could buy her, she could twitch up something better. And although Samantha and Darrin were two very different people, they learned to ignore their differences and concentrate on what makes them the same. It was their humanity.

Therefore and ultimately Bewitched is about prejudice - and it helps its viewers to understand the importance of diversity. This theme of prejudice runs through shows like Kung Fu and Life Goes On. As Samantha was a witch in a mortal world, David Carradine's Kwai Chang Caine was an Asian in a Western world, and Chris Burke's Corky had Down syndrome (as does Burke in real life), and Chad Lowe's Jesse was stricken with AIDS. In each case, the characters felt the pangs of prejudice and isolation.

In this way, each seminar expands upon the mission of The Classic TV Preservation Society: to educate individuals, community, arts, media and business organizations, as well as academic institutions, on the social significance and positive influence of classic television - with specific regard to family values, diversity in the work place, and mutual respect for all people of every cultural background and heritage, ethnicity, race and creed.


The Classic TV Preservation Society was founded by Herbie J Pilato who, not only is author of many classic television literary companion books (including Life Story - The Book of Life Goes On: TV's First and Best Family Show of Challenge), he also was a caregiver to elderly relatives. For 15 years, Herbie cared for his father (who succumbed to lung cancer in 1995), his aunt (who died of congestive heart failure in 2003), and for his mother (who, in May of 2008, also died of from the complications of congestive heart failure – as well as from dementia). Consequently, Herbie very much understands the various issues that go along with caring for a loved one who is ill. Consequently, he makes certain to incorporate his caregiving experience into The Classic TV Preservation Society in the form of the Acting As Caregiver Seminars - which help participants to sustain a healthy and productive perspective while facing the daily challenges of caring for an ill and/or elderly loved one or friend.

For many, being a caregiver is a life filled with numerous challenges that call for a particular brand of stamina. Sometimes the caregiver does not always have access to the emotional and/or psychological tools to deal with those challenges. The caregiver may have the energy, but more times than not, it gets lost somewhere in the shuffle of overwhelming exhaustion that periodically proves detrimental in the life of both the caregiver and the patient. As a result, the caregiver may no longer understand or know how to cope objectively with the situation at hand.

The Classic TV Preservation Society understands that plight and how being a caregiver requires a particular brand of stamina. Sometimes the caregiver does not always have access to the emotional and/or psychological tools to deal with the situation at hand. The caregiver may have the energy, but more times than not, it gets lost somewhere in the shuffle of overwhelming exhaustion that periodically proves detrimental in the life of both the caregiver and the patient. As a result, the caregiver may no longer understand or know how to cope objectively with their position. The Acting As Caregiver Seminars help caregivers to focus and clarify their energy more productively. By employing the creative technique of Improvisation, and other theatrical crafts (such as Role Playing, Character and Scene Study), the Acting As Caregiver Seminars help the participants clarify their often overwhelming situation.


The S.M.A.R.T. in the S.M.A.R.T. Seminars stands for Senior Media Arts And Review Theatrical Program. This particular seminar encourages participants, 55 and over, to become involved with the theatrical crafts of Acting, Creative Writing, Music, Dance - with a concentration on enhancing self-esteem, self-worth, positive thinking, and personal communication skills – all the while employing messages from Classic TV shows – with which the senior population, in particular, is familiar (i.e. The Donna Reed Show, The Milton Berle Show, The Red Skelton Show).

The S.M.A.R.T. Seminars are recreational, educational, and motivational, and benefit the mind, body and spirit of each participant. They are for every senior who is seeking to begin or continue living their lives happily at a time when others may feel it is merely the twilight of their years. These particular seminars concentrate on theatrical performance techniques and knowledge that may easily be applied to everyday living. Those participating in these seminars are introduced to the general concepts of what it requires to act in, write, produce and direct a version of their favorite classic television show and have a great deal of fun and jolt of positive self-esteem in the process.

As such, The Classic TV Preservation Society employs each of its seminars to assist participants of every ethnicity, creed, spiritual belief and challenge (physical or otherwise) in applying, learning about and/or honing their many times latent theatrical, musical and literary talents in a supportive, confidence-building and encouraging atmosphere – to enhance and help preserve their quality of life and sustain their position as or how to become an active and joyful participant in society. Each seminar may be a singular event or a series of events scheduled over a particular period of time.


Thousands from every walk of life have attended any number of the Classic TV Seminars. Teachers, students, business executives, parents, seniors, and others have walked away with not only a better understanding of the media – but how the media may better serve their development and self-image as human beings. Here’s a sample of what people are saying:

'My senior residents were infused with a burst of energy and vitality that I had not seen before. These seminars are life-changing."

- Carol Zazzaro
Activities Director
Crimson Ridge
Greece, New York

" a kind of learning that is most valuable. The message of self-esteem crosses all subject areas…brings wisdom, humor and motivation."

- Dina D'Aiuto
Intercultural Studies, School 37
Coordinator, Education for Peace
Rochester, New York City School District

"...a positive inspiration to my class. They will never be the same."

- Nanette Bojak,
First Grade Teacher
School 34
Rochester City School District

"...offers encouragement to set positive goals…helps to develop a strong personal image."

- Elizabeth Lenhard
Fourth Grade Teacher
Mother of Sorrows School
Greece, New York

"This program is a must for all grade levels. It communicates respect, kindness, and friendship towards all people."

- Cindy Grange
Fyle School
Fairport, New York

"Thank you for the wonderful and insightful time you gave all of us. I was amazed at how open the individuals were to the experiment -- all the credit for that goes to your mastery of your subject and your ability to put people at ease. You are truly a craftsman. The evaluations were all extremely positive -- you reached deep spaces in these caregivers that needed healing. You found a new way to get an assertive message across -- it called into use a different part of our brains than all the presentations I've heard."

- Theo Munson
Bereavement Services
Lifetime Care
Henrietta, NY.

And from various participants:

"I liked the way the acting tied in with
expressing our feelings in providing care"

"It was a fun outlet for stress and emotions"

"I was nervous, but he put us at ease and made us
laugh and was able to safely allow us to share
life experiences through acting/role playing"

"The chance to learn new ways to channel my
emotions toward my family and my father was the best part of the day."


“We celebrate the integrity of classic television”


The purpose is 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.


Nostalgic television programming as seen on TV Land, the Hallmark Channel, WE, WGN and other networks are a hit with the viewers. The generation that worships The Brady Bunch and lived The Wonder Years is fast increasing as the prevalent consumer. With productions of large screen adaptations of small screen classics (i.e. Gidget and Gilligan's Island) on the rise, and with television itself remaking its original shows (Hawaii Five-0), the big TV picture is expanding - as is our consciousness of its social ties.

The Bob Newhart Show and I Love Lucy continually find new generations of fans in prime-time through syndication and release on DVD. Time and again, archetypal comedies, dramas, action-adventures, mysteries - and even musical-variety shows (The Carol Burnett Show, The Dean Martin Show) - have become historic and learning canals for today's viewer. While the influence of classic TV programs can no longer be denied, questions abound:

Have programs from the past affected the way we live in the present? Have we learned "what love's got to do with it" from Samantha and Darrin on Bewitched? Are we more tolerant of those who happened to be different because Star Trek inspires to “make us so”? Channels switch and signals cross, but the focus is clear: We have indeed learned a great deal from watching classic television - and continue to do so.

Maybe yesterday's young television viewers have developed into today's hip parents because they screened the strong results of classic TV parentage, the kind played so entertainingly and effectively by Nancy Walker as Mrs. Morgenstern on Rhoda. The pressure was off because such performances outweighed the quirkiness of what could have become an unlikable character. The viewer was better prepared to acquire lessons on how not to be a mother from a funny, non-preaching fictional personality, and walk away with an inspirational thought and explicit positive reinforcement in the process. The contemporary Mom and Dad may view a troubled child reference or recall the compassion presented on Little House On The Prairie, The Donna Reed Show, Family Affair, or My Three Sons, and ask, "Do you want to talk about it?"

Classic shows like Father Knows Best, The Bionic Woman, Marcus Welby, M.D. and Perry Mason cater to the highest common denominator in each of us. Such programming encourages family values, scientific and medical education, strong work ethics, observational skills, spiritual support and true friendships. The Odd Couple, The Beverly Hillbillies and The Golden Girls have it down on how to entertain viewers, while presenting characters in a psychologically-nutritious manner for the viewer.

Classic television programs may not necessarily or directly create good behavior in the audience. But with programs like The Waltons and Life Goes On, a significant number of viewers may be affected in a positive way. How much of an effect past TV favorites have on society depends on the amount of power and suggestion that the audience is willing to grant such and which shows they choose to watch. Yet one fact remains: Today's central demographic patron is yesterday's child, long-hungry for a TV era gone-by.

Consequently, The Classic TV Preservation Society is here to celebrate, document and help spread the word that classic television is an untapped resource for education; an entertaining, informative, socially substantial, and sometimes, life-changing.


Herbie J Pilato graduated in 1983 with a B.A. Degree in Theatre Arts from Nazareth College of Rochester, moved to Los Angeles, where he studied Television and Film at UCLA, and served his Internship in Television at NBC-TV in Burbank. As the author of a number of classic TV literary companions (including The Bewitched Book, The Kung Fu Book of Caine, The Kung Fu Book of Wisdom, Bewitched Forever, The Bionic Book, NBC & ME: My Life As A Page In A Book, and Life Story – The Book of Life Goes On: TV’s First And Best Family Show of Challenge.), Herbie has worked as a producer/consultant for Bravo’s hit five-part series, The 100 Greatest TV Characters, TLC’s Behind the Fame specials (on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, L.A. Law and Hill Street Blues), A&E’s Biography (for segments on classic TV stars Elizabeth Montgomery and Lee Majors), and the SyFy Channel’s Sciography series. Herbie has also served as a consultant and on-screen commentator for the classic TV DVD releases of Bewitched, Kung Fu and CHiPs - as well as the Classic TV Editor for numerous websites (including, and the family-oriented Herbie has also written about classic television for several magazines, including Starlog, Sci-Fi Entertainment, Sci-Fi Universe, Retro Vision, Classic TV and CinemaRetro. As an actor, he’s appeared on classic television shows such as Highway to Heaven and The Golden Girls, as well as daytime serials like The Bold and the Beautiful and General Hospital. As the Founder and Executive Director of The Classic TV Preservation Society, Herbie J Pilato is dedicated to closing the gap between positive popular TV and education.

To schedule Classic TV Seminars for your school, college, community, senior or business organization, contact:

Herbie J Pilato
Founder & Executive Director
The Classic TV Preservation Society
17306 Stowers Avenue
Cerritos, CA 91703
(310) 480-0067

Friday, January 07, 2011

Award Show Travesty

Like the "talk show," the "award show" needs to return to an elegant pace and setting.

First of all, there's way too many of 'em. Only the Oscars, the Emmys, the Grammys and the Tonys...and then of course, the TV Land Awards...should be in operation.

Other than...enough already.

The accolades are lessoned for the artist by all too frequent and what seems like weekly award ceremonies.

For example, "The People's Choice Awards" was horrific! What an embarrassment.

Where was the class and sophistication of a Johnny Carson or Bob Hope as host?

Where was the elegance of a "special event" atmosphere?

THIS was the way to kick off the "awards season"?!


Wednesday, January 05, 2011

ME-TV Saves TV: The Future of Classic TV Is HERE!

According to the Hollywood Repoter, classic teleision sitcoms such as Cheers, M*A*S*H, The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Bob Newhart Show may be returning to your local TV via a newfangled digital agreement between MGM and Weigel Broadcasting.

Jim Packer, MGM Worldwide TV co-president, and Norman Shapiro, Weigel Broadcasting president, took the wraps off the arrangement Tuesday morning. 

The two previously worked together on the launch of THIStv, a national broadcast movie service, which after two years is distributed in 85% of the country to 40 million cable households.

A local version of Me-TV, which stands for Memorable Entertainment TV, has been airing on Weigel's O&O WWME in Chicago.

WWME and WBME, the Weigel station covering Milwaukee, Wisconsin, are the first affiliates of Me-TV.

Packer said Me-TV's national distribution will be handled by the Lion's domestic TV sales force.

"I believe Me-TV will be a perfect complement to THIStv," Packer told the Hollywood Reporter, adding that the deal makes the Hollywood studio "the clear leader" in the digital broadcast space.

The agreement is the first significant TV initiative since Roger Birnbaum and Gary Barber took the reins of the Lion a few months ago.

How do the two TV partners profit from such an agreement?

"Me-TV is a terrific companion service to THIStv or as an option for a station that did not have the opportunity to affiliate with THIStv," Weigel's Shapiro relayed.

In his group's markets, he added, the two services will be pitched to advertising clients jointly. 

MGM TV EVP John Bryan said that THIStv had become "a great revenue stream for our affiliates" and that Me-TV "should do the same," but no specifics were available as to how much the Weigel station group has pocketed so far.

MGM execs would not comment on what the Lion stands to make from licensing the shows to Weigel and other station groups or from its share of the eventual ad revenues.

However, it is arguably the domestic and international TV distribution operations of MGM under Packer and Gary Marenzi, respectively, that have essentially kept the Lion fed revenue-wise over the past five financially- strapped years.

As Me-TV goes national, other reruns -- Laverne & Shirley, Happy Days, Bosom Buddies, (which features a young Tom Hanks), and the original Star Trek series -- will join the line-up.

Tribune also is pushing a retro digital service on its owned stations called Antenna TV and another service, actually called Retro TV, operates mainly in Tennessee.

Ever since TV Land ditched classic reruns for reality shows though there's been a hole in the market for top-notch "comfort" series; and the recession arguably makes familiar faces like Newhart and Van Dyke more appealing to viewers.

The day-to-day management of Me-TV will fall to Weigel EVP Neal Sabin, who said the content being chosen reps "iconic series, stars and genres that have defined pop culture for decades." 

The network is preparing promotional stunts to heighten interest by other station groups. To coincide with The Green Hornet 3D movie coming to theaters in mid-January, for example, Me-TV is rolling out the original Green Hornet TV series starring Van Williams as the Green Hornet and Bruce Lee as Kato.

Further licensing arrangements for Me-TV will be pushed in barter deals, per Bryan, at the upcoming Natpe TV trade show in Miami (Jan. 24-26).

Monday, January 03, 2011

Mission Statement

The specific purpose of the Classic TV Preservation Society is to educate individuals, business, community, arts and media organizations, as well as academic institutions, on the social significance and positive influence of classic television, 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.