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

Thursday, October 19

Superstore - "Workplace Bullying" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Tensions arise among the employees after an attempted robbery, pitting Dina (Lauren Ash) against Jonah (Ben Feldman). Meanwhile, Glenn (Mark McKinney) has a tough time firing the store security guard, and Amy (America Ferrera) discovers that her coworkers have been hanging out without her.

The Good Place - "The Trolley Problem" (NBC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Chidi (William Jackson Harper) and Eleanor (Kristen Bell) tackle a famous ethical dilemma, leading to a conflict with Michael (Ted Danson). Meanwhile, Tahani (Jameela Jamil) harbors a secret and confides in Janet (D'Arcy Carden).

Will & Grace - "Grandpa Jack" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Jack (Sean Hayes) is stunned to learn that his estranged son, Elliot (guest star Michael Angarano) has a son of his own, Skip (guest star Jet Jurgensmeyer). Moreover, Skip needs the kind of help only Will (Eric McCormack) and Jack can provide. Grace (Debra Messing) and Karen (Megan Mullally) behave badly with the hot new guy at work.

Great News - "Award Show" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
For the first time in years, "The Breakdown" has been nominated for an American Journalism Award. Katie (Briga Heelan) is looking forward to spending the night as a peer with the very reporters she has admired her whole life. Fearing her mother will ruin it, Katie tries to stop Carol (Andrea Martin) from attending but is unsuccessful when Carol secures a position as a seat-filler. Katie is stuck babysitting her mom all night but gets distracted by Jeremy (guest star Reid Scott), a handsome New York Times reporter who looks down on cable news. Chuck (John Michael Higgins) is excited to reunite with all of his old anchormen friends, especially Len Archer (guest star Christopher McDonald), an idol of Chuck's who is receiving a lifetime achievement award.

Better Things - "Eulogy" (FX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Sam demands satisfaction.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 16)

Thursday, October 19

  • Tracy Morgan (30 Rock/The Tracy Morgan Show) - Catch Tracy on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Paul Shaffer (A Year at the Top) - Paul sits in with Cleto and The Cletones on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) - Jim is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Michael Keaton (Working Stiffs/All's Fair) - Michael appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Amy Landecker (Transparent) - Amy is a guest on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Carl Reinder (The Dick Van Dyke Show) - Carl appears on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Garcelle Beauvais (The Jamie Foxx Show) - Garcelle guest co-hosts The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Cedric Yarbrough (Speechless/Reno 911!) - Cedric is a guest on Steve, so check your local listings.
  • Angela Kinsey (Haters Back Off/Your Family or Mine/The Office) - Angela talks about the new season of her Netflix show Haters Back Off on the People Now at 8:30am.
  • Jeff Garlin (The Goldbergs/Curb Your Enthusiasm) - Jeff appears on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Henry Winkler (Happy Days/Out of Practice) - Henry is a guest on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Hayley Orrantia (The Goldbergs) - Hayley appears on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Joanna Garcia Swisher (Reba/Better with You) - Joanna teams up with Michael Symon in the kitchen, giving the scoop on her new show and whipping up a tasty dish on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT. She also talks about Kevin (Probably) Saves the World on the AOL Build Show at 11am.
  • Redman (Method & Red) - Redman appears on the AOL Build Show at 3pm.
  • Debra Messing and Eric McCormack (Will & Grace) - Debra and Eric are guests on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (June/July/August)

Father Knows Best - Season Six Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Sixth Season Alice - The Complete Fifth Season Rhoda - Season Four Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Four

06/13 - The Andy Griffith Show - Return to Mayberry
06/13 - That's My Mama - The Complete Series
06/20 - Workaholics - The Final (Seventh) Season
06/20 - Workaholics - The Complete Series
06/27 - The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Third Season
07/04 - Superstore - Season Two
07/18 - Father Knows Best - Season Six
07/25 - Diff'ernt Strokes - The Complete Sixth Season
07/25 - Girls - The Final (Sixth) Season (Blu-ray)
08/01 - Alice - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
08/01 - Crashing - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
08/15 - Rhoda - Season Four
08/22 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Four
08/29 - Will & Grace - Season One (Universal)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest