Friday, November 03, 2006

Hallmark Channel Moves M*A*S*H*, Removes The Waltons; Book Review of Happier Days: Paramount Television's Classic Sitcoms 1974-1984

Effective November 27, The Hallmark Channel will be moving M*A*S*H's 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. ET/PT slot to 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. ET/PT. Why? Because they are preparing the new slot because by January they can only air the show between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., because TV Land has rights in a shared window deal. TV Land will have rights from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. ET/PT. So, Hallmark will air M*A*S*H from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and will continue to air it early evening from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET/PT. The Waltons was previously airing back-to-back at 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. and now will be off the schedule. They still have rights until April, I think, so it could return. Replacing M*A*S*H at 11 p.m. will be Hallmark Movies. Click here to view the changes and to discuss it.


Happier Days: Paramount Television's Classic Sitcoms 1974-1974

Happier Days: Paramount Television's Classic Sitcoms 1974-1984 (Billboard Books, $16.95)

It was the best of times, it was--well, the best of times! In the decade between 1974 and 1984, the Paramount lot was a cauldron of creativity, talent, and innovation. Marley Brant, brings her influence and years of access together in HAPPIER DAYS: Paramount Television’s Classic Sitcoms 1974-1984 (Billboard Books; $16.95; October 2006), a behind-the-scenes look at Happy Days, Taxi, Cheers and more than a dozen other television series produced there during a decade of madcap inspiration and accomplishment.

In the interim between the debut of "Happy Days" and the final episode of "Cheers," many of the entertainment industry's biggest stars, best writers, most skilled directors and most successful producers were discovered or their already established talents nurtured, lifelong friendships and renowned professional alliances were created, and the landscape of the television sitcom was definitely altered. The talent was tremendous: Robin Williams, Tom Hanks, Ron Howard, Martin Short, Michael J. Fox, Henry Winkler, Penny Marshall, Andy Kaufman, Donna Pescow, Danny De Vito - actors who would become superstars, many appearing in their first starring roles.

Through a series of intimate and revealing interviews, her own firsthand knowledge and exhaustive research, former Paramount television publicist Marley Brant takes us behind the scenes of these legendary shows for an up-close and personal look at the talented people who brought them to life. Brant examines the personal and professional roots of the creative talent, the evolution of the shows, the intricate relationships among cast members, and the creation of some of the most popular episodes, as well as taping sessions, guest stars, and where the actors and crew are today. Packed full of insider information, anecdotes, cast lists, biographical facts and little-known or previously unpublished stories, Happier Days is the definitive chronicle of some of the most creative sitcoms of all time.

282 pages ~ 6 x 9 ~ 0-8230-8933-9

About the Author
Marley Brant is the author of seven books, many of which have been the featured research for television programs that have aired on A&E, The History Channel, VH1, TBS, and CMT. Brant has held many positions in the entertainment industry, including biographical writer, publicist, artist development executive, and music and television producer. Employed in the publicity office of Paramount Television in the late seventies and early eighties, she worked closely with the cast and crews of Paramount’s premier television productions.

My Review: As a big fan of many Paramount sitcoms, I was excited to learn about this new book. I was born in 1974, so these are the shows I grew up watching. The book is divided into 14 chapters, with various other sections included such as Acknowledgments, Introduction, Afterword, The Legacy, Timeline, Selected Credits, Sources, and Index. There are 24 black & white photos of the cast and crew scattered throughout the pages. The book focuses on 9 sitcoms:

Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy, Taxi, Angie, The Bad News Bears, Bosom Buddies, Family Ties, and Cheers

There are lesser sections and mentions of the following short-lived shows:

Paper Moon, When Things Were Rotten, The Cop and the Kid, Blansky's Beauties, Busting Loose, Mulligan's Stew, Who's Watching the Kids, Brothers and Sisters,
Struck by Lightning, Working Stiffs, The Associates, Goodtime Girls, Here's Boomer, Best in the West, Fonz and the Happy Days Gang, Laverne & Shirley in the Army, and Joanie Loves Chachi

Recent interviews were conducted with Director Jim Burrows, Randall Carver, Pam Dawber, Corey Feldman, Michael Gross, Clint Howard, Donna Pescow, Misty Rowe, Suzi Quatro, and Director Howard Storm.

Chapter 1 - Before A Live Audience - This section gives some details on the tapings of Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy, and Taxi. The tapings were often anything but predictable. What an experience it must have been to see an episode being taped.

Chapter 2 - Three Creative Forces Explode - Garry Marshall, Michael Eisner, and Barry Diller are profiled and details are given on how they got started in the business.

Chapter 3 - Love in the Happy Days - This section focuses primarily on the first season of Happy Days. It details how the pilot aired as an episode of Love, American Style. Casting and biographical information is given for Ron Howard, Henry Winkler, Tom Bosley, Marion Ross, Anson Williams, Donny Most, Erin Moran, Gavan O'Herlihy, Randolph Roberts, Pat Morita, and various crew members.

Chapter 4 - Hello, Blue Skies - Seasons 2-11 of Happy Days are detailed. Al Molinaro, Suzi Quatro, Misty Rowe, Scott Baio, Beatrice Cohen, and Roz Kelly are profiled. Various topics covered include the guest stars, catchphrases, and the softball team. Misty Rowe (Wendy the Carhop) and Suzi Quatro (Leather Tuscadero) are interviewed.

Chapter 5 - Making Their Dreams Come True - Happy Days spin-off Laverne & Shirley is the focus here. Casting and biographical information is given for Penny Marshall, Cindy Williams, Eddie Mekka, Phil Foster, Betty Garrett, David L. Lander and Michael McKean. The fighting between Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams is detailed.

Chapter 6 - Triumph and Tribulation - More information is given on Laverne & Shirley.
Cindy Williams was often unhappy with the writers of the show, and once filed a lawsuit against the producers. There were some funny behind-the-scenes stories on the competetiveness between Penny and Cindy.

Chapter 7 - Mork Calling Paramount - Garry Marshall's son, Scott, wanted to see a show with a space alien, so that is where the idea for Mork & Mindy came from. Interestingly, Robin Williams wasn't originally supposed to play Mork and another actor played Mindy's father. Robin Williams, Pam Dawber, and the other cast members are profiled. Many interesting factoids are given, and the interviews with Pam Dawber and Director Howard Storm added a lot to this section.

Chapter 8 - Nanu Nanu Means Success - Seasons 2-4 of Mork & Mindy are detailed. Robert Donner, Jay Thomas, Gina Hecht, Jim Stahl, and Jonathan Winters are profiled. Guest star Corey Feldman is interviewed. A lot of the changes for the second season are discussed. As they always say, you never mess with or move a hit show. Moving Grey's Anatomy to Thursdays seems to have worked alright for ABC, though.

Chapter 9 - Hey, Taxi! - The development and first season of Taxi are discussed in great detail. I wasn't very familiar with Taxi before reading this section, so a lot of this information was knew to me. Profiles and the casting information is given for Juddd Hitrsh, Danny DeVito, Marilu Henner, Tony Danza, Jeff Conaway, Randall Carver, and Andy Kaufman. There is some fascinating information on Andy Kaufman's contract and other casting details. Randall Carver is interviewed.

Chapter 10 - A New Kind of Family - Seasons 2-5 of Taxi are discussed. Rhea Perlman and Carol Kane bios are given. A lof of behind-the-scenes details are given on Jeff Conaway's problems and Andy Kauffman's wrestling career. The move from ABC to NBC is also detailed.

Chapter 11 - Different Worlds - The short-lived series, Angie, gets its own section. Donna Pescow, Robert Hays, Doris Roberts, John Randolph, and Debralee Scott are profiled. Due to some time slot changes, the show lasted only 36 episodes. Donna Pescow is interviewed.

Chapter 12 - Bears, Associates, and Cross-Dressers - This section covers The Bad News Bears, The Associates, Bosom Buddies, and several other short-lived sitcoms.
Jack Warden, Corey Feldman, and the rest of The Bad News Bears cast are profiled. Corey Feldman is interviewed and shares his experiences on working on the show. Wilfrid Hyde-White, Martin Short, Joe Regalbuto, Alley Mills, and Shelley Smith from The Associates are profiled. Despite running only 9 episodes, this show received a number of award nominations. Biographical information for Goodtime Girls actors Georgia Engel, Annie Potts, Lorna Patterson, Camille Rittenhouse, and Adrian Zmed is given. Finally, there is some information on Bosom Buddies. Tom Hanks, Peter Scolari, Wendie Jo Sperber, Donna Dixon, Telma Hopkins, Holland Taylor, and Lucille Benson are profiled. Interestingly, Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari were not the producer's first choices to play Kip and Henry.

Chapter 13 - A New Family in Town - Family Ties (finally coming to DVD!) is the focus here. Creator Gary David Goldberg, Michael J. Fox, Meredith Baxter, Justine Bateman, Tina Yothers, Marc Price, Scott Valentine, Tray Pollan, Brian Bonsall, and Courteney Cox are profiled. There is some interesting information on who else was considered for the roles of Steven and Alex P. Keaton. Michael Gross is interviewed.

Chapter 14 - Cheers to You - The bar where everybody knows your name is discussed in detail. Ted Danson, Shelley Long, John Ratzenberger, Nicholas Colosanto, Woody Harrelson, Kelsey Grammer, Bebe Neuwirth, and Kirstie Alley are profiled. Many topics are discussed including the death of Nicholas Colosanto, adding Woody Harrelson to the cast, and Shelley Long's departure and Kirstie Alley's arrival. Director Jim Burrows is interviewed.

The Legacy - This section gives some information on where the cast members from Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Taxi, Mork & Mindy, Angie, The Bad News Bears, Bosom Buddies, Family Ties, and Cheers are now. There is also some information on the behind the camera people including James L. Brooks, James Burrows, Michael Eisner, Gary David Goldberg, and Garry Marshall.

Timeline - A listing of the Paramount shows mentioned in the book with their first and last episode dates.

Selected Credits - Cast, Producers, Directors, Writers, and Casting information for Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Taxi, Mork & Mindy, Angie, The Associates, Bosom Buddies, Family Ties, and Cheers.

Sources - The various books, interviews, and internet sites used for research information. It was a thrill to see 5 of my own sitcom sites listed!

Index - A handy index of the actors, shows, episodes, and other details mentioned in the book.

Final Comments: This book is as entertaining as the shows covered in it. Five of the sitcoms featured in this book (Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy, Family Ties, and Cheers) are among my all-time favorites. I've read quite a bit information on these shows over the years, but this book provided even more new details to me. It was fascinating to see how some of the episode storylines came about and who else was considered for some of the roles. The interviews with the various cast and crew members added a lot of depth and insight into the shows. I would have loved to see even more interviews to provide behind the scenes details, especially from the Happy Days cast. This book is well organized and researched (I especially liked how the did you know? type facts were inserted), and I highly recommend it to any fans of the sitcoms covered in it.

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller
(4.5/5 stars)

To purchase the Book, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Amazon.com

Related links:
Happy Days Online
Mork & Mindy Onine
Family Ties Online
Cheers Central
Sitcoms Online - Angie
Sitcoms Online - Bosom Buddies
Sitcoms Online - Blansky's Beauties
Sitcoms Online - Joanie Loves Chachi


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Tuesday, November 13

The Conners - "The Separation of Church and Dan" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Geena learns that D.J. hasn’t been taking Mary to church while she’s been away, she insists they go as a family to uphold her traditional values. To make matters worse, Mary refuses to attend without her cousins Harris and Mark, leaving D.J. in the last situation he wants to be in – at the mercy of Darlene. Meanwhile, Mark’s attempt to conduct an unbiased survey on the upcoming election for his school project goes south when Jackie volunteers to help.

The Kids Are Alright - "Peggy's Day Out" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
To hide a mess Eddie made, his girlfriend, Wendi, tries to distract Peggy by insisting she take a day off with a fun day out while they take care of the housework. To everyone’s surprise, Peggy accepts the offer and requests Wendi tag along, with the ulterior motive of teaching her a lesson. Meanwhile, Eddie enlists the help of his brothers to clean up and keep Mike out of the house while Wendi and Peggy are out. Elsewhere, Pat introduces Timmy to his secret dog.

black-ish - "Purple Rain" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
The family is shocked to learn that Jack and Diane are not familiar with the iconic music of Prince. One by one, each member of the family works to explain Prince’s tremendous impact on their lives through his music.

Splitting Up Together - "War of the Wagners" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Lena and Martin’s escalating battle for control of the house is put on hold when Milo announces he wants to go to a school for the gifted – to which they think he will not be accepted. Meanwhile, they both meet a contractor for the house, Vlad, but Lena undermines him and scares Vlad away. Things get uglier between Lena and Oliver after she introduces a new member to the family as payback for all the back-and-forth about the house. Elsewhere, Lena and Martin give conflicting advice to Mason on how to deal with his recent breakup.

The Guest Book - "Two Steps Forward, One Step Back" (TBS, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Mike and his family hate spending every summer in a subpar vacation home far from the beach; in order to afford paying a booking fee for their dream house, the Barefeet Retreat, Mike pulls double shifts and ends up paying more than he bargained for.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of November 12)

Tuesday, November 13

  • Jason Mantzoukas (The League) - Catch Jason on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Jenifer Lewis (black-ish/The PJs) - Jenifer appears on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Trevor Noah at 11pm.
  • Taran Killam (Single Parents) - Taran visits E!'s Busy Tonight at 10pm.
  • Paul Shaffer (A Year at the Top) - Paul stops by The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • The Cast of The Conners - Michael Fishman, John Goodman, Lecy Goranson, Laurie Metcalf and Maya Lynne Robinson are guests on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Jamie Foxx (The Jamie Foxx Show) - Jamie previews the film Robin Hood on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Tig Notaro (One Mississippi) - Tig appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Tatyana Ali (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air/Love That Girl!) - Tatyana talks about her upcoming two Holiday movies for Lifetime and Hallmark on E!'s Daily Pop at 12pm.
  • Damon Wayans Jr. (Happy Together/Happy Endings/New Girl) - Damon is a guest on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Bryan Cranston (Malcolm in the Middle) - Bryan talks about The Upside Down and Network on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
  • Ashley Tisdale (The Suite Life of Zack & Cody/Clipped) - Ashley appears on the BUILD Series at 4pm.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (October/November)

The Beverly Hillbillies - The Official Fifth Season The Love Boat - Season Four - Volume One Saved by the Bell - The Complete Collection Alice - The Complete Eighth Season Step by Step - The Complete Third Season

10/02 - The Beverly Hillbillies - The Official Fifth Season
10/02 - Bob's Burgers - The Complete 6th Season
10/02 - Bob's Burgers - The Complete 7th Season
10/02 - Bob's Burgers - The Complete 8th Season
10/02 - Ghosted - The Complete First Season
10/02 - The Love Boat - Season Four - Volume One / Volume Two
10/02 - Police Squad! - TV and Movie Collection
10/02 - Saved by the Bell - The Complete Collection
10/16 - Community - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
10/23 - Alice - The Complete Eighth Season
10/24 - The Odd Couple (2015) - Season Two
10/24 - The Odd Couple (2015) - Season Three
10/31 - The Bad News Bears - The Complete Series - All 26 Episodes
11/01 - Episodes - Season 5
11/05 - Robin Williams - Comic Genius (includes Mork & Mindy)
11/06 - American Dad! - Volume 13
11/20 - Step by Step - The Complete Third Season
11/27 - What I Like About You - The Complete Third Season
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest