Thursday, March 22, 2007

Roone and John

Old TV Tickets has the most comprehensive review of the Cosell show. Three brief excerpts.

The idea was to replicate the format of The Ed Sullivan Show, only to do it on Saturday nights with Howard Cosell. And right there you had at least two fatal errors. Saturday night isn't the night that the family gathers around the TV after supper, the way they did for years to watch Ed. And Howard Cosell was many things -- including, people forget, a man who brought a new honesty and maturity to sportscasting. But he wasn't Ed Sullivan. Cosell wasn't warm and friendly, and he lacked Ed's credibility as an endorser of talented people.

And there may have been a third fatal error (maybe the Sullivan show had left the airways because the format had gotten stale and antiquated) and perhaps even a fourth (exec producer Roone Arledge was proficient in sports and news, not entertainment). The end result was a show that only had two things in common with Ed's old show: It was done in the same studio and it was cancelled.

And the review gives some credit to the Prime Time Players.

[T]he Cosell series had a small regular comedy troupe of three performers -- Bill Murray, Brian-Doyle Murray and Christopher Guest -- who were billed as "The Prime Time Players." It inspired the name of the comedy squadron on Michaels' show, The Not-Ready-For-Primetime Players. And of course, all three men -- Guest and the two Murray brothers -- wound up in the cast of the NBC late night series at different times.

But this quote from the end of the review captures both the good and the bad of the show.

[O]ne evening, Howard waded out into the audience to do a brief interview with...Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the creators of Superman, who were then waging a public campaign to pressure DC Comics to come across with pensions and other financial assistance. The spot gave their cause a nice bit of publicity and it probably helped a little to shame DC into doing the right thing. So Howard, as dislikeable as he could be at times, did something nice.

Touching. Cosell again fights for the underdog.

And it would have been even nicer if he hadn't kept referring to Joe Shuster as "John."



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