Sunday, January 04, 2009

New Book on The Brady Bunch Variety Hour Coming in September; Make 'Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America Airing This January on PBS

We have some special stories for today. So our weekly ratings report will return next week in its regular day, as we are still in repeat mode this past week. But the new stuff returns tonight and this coming week on TV, with CBS and ABC both all-new with their line-ups tonight and the premiere of a new NBC reality show. ABC is calling this week "Bring in the New Week!" And now heeeeeere's Todd with some special stories...


Brady Bunch star Susan Olsen and ECW Press announced their joint collaboration for the coffee table book: Love to Love You Bradys: the bizarre story of The Brady Bunch Variety Hour which is scheduled to be released in September, 2009. Susan's co-author is Los Angeles writer Ted Nichelson and pop-culture maven Lisa Sutton will serve as art director and designer.
This colorful, glitter-filled retrospective will take a look back at the most disastrous offering in television history and explain how and why the rarely seen Variety Hour was conceived, produced, and ended up ranked in TV Guide's top five “Worst Shows of All-Time.” Behind the scenes, this production was chock full of very serious human conflict: drug addiction, sexuality, weight issues, religion, and heated power struggles - all ultimately shattering the Bradys' perfect image and forever scarring the legacy of TV's favorite family.
Originally airing as a 60-minute special, The Brady Bunch Variety Hour was produced by Sid and Marty Krofft and premiered on ABC on November 28, 1976. It featured the actors from The Brady Bunch sitcom singing and dancing their way through the disco era on stage above an enormous swimming pool populated by the enchanting Krofftette Water Follies. Largely derivative of the hit series The Donny and Marie Show, from the same production team, the success of this special led to a semi-regular series of which eight additional 60 minute episodes were produced and aired as monthly specials from January to May 1977. None of the installments were ever repeated on network television. Now a confirmed cult classic, the Variety Hour has been successfully parodied on such recent hit television series as The Simpsons, That 70's Show, The Family Guy, Tiny Toons, and The Gilmore Girls.
The book features hundreds of never-before-published photos and interviews with cast, crew, and production staff, including the Brady Bunch, Sherwood Schwartz, Sid and Marty Krofft, Bruce Vilanch, Paul Shaffer, and Rip Taylor.

Ted Nichelson

Did you hear the one about PBS airing a comedy series? It's no joke, but it is funny. In January 2009, PBS will present the series Make 'Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America, a six-hour comedy epic showcasing the most hilarious men, women, and moments in American entertainment and why they made us laugh. Hosted by America's favorite funnyman, Billy Crystal, the documentary explores the currents of American comedy throughout a century of social and political change, illuminating how comedy has tackled and poked fun at our political system, race relations, gender issues, and the prevailing American standards and taboos in everyday life.
Co-produced by Thirteen/WNET and Ghost Light Films, the series premieres nationally on January 14, 21, 28 at 8 p.m. and will repeat at 10 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings).
Melding performance, biography and history, Make 'Em Laugh features interviews with over 90 comedians, writers, producers, and historians including Judd Apatow, Roseanne Barr, Anne Beatts, the Smothers Brothers, Carol Burnett, Sid Caesar, George Carlin, Larry David, Will Ferrell, Leonard Maltin, Cheech Marin, Steve Martin, Chris Rock, Mort Sahl, Dick Van Dyke, and many, many more.
Each one-hour episode focuses on a distinct genre of American comedy – from the most ingenious physical schtick, to those fast-talking wiseguys, to the most incisive satire and parody – re-acquainting viewers with some of their favorite classics. Billy Crystal will introduce each episode and Amy Sedaris will narrate throughout.

Here is one episode that is devoted to sitcoms:
January 14, 9 p.m. (ET) Honey, I'm Home!: Breadwinners and Homemakers
The domestic comedy may be the most American of comic concepts. The moment that Burns and Allen admitted to their radio audience that they were a married couple, a tradition of laughter on the home front began. Groundbreaking television sitcoms like The Goldbergs, I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, The Dick Van Dyke Show, All in the Family, The Cosby Show, Roseanne, Seinfeld, and The Simpsons reflect the ongoing changes at home and in the workplace. Sitcoms continue to be a consistently humorous barometer of American gender roles and attitudes toward racism and politics.

Additionally, there is a seventh episode of the series that will air exclusively online on January 7. This episode will cover the growing phenomenon of Internet comedy. For more information on this episode, visit .
For a listing of all episodes, visit .
If you could use a laugh right now, check out the website for Make 'Em Laugh,, which is full of funny content including a promo video for the series featuring Jim Lehrer of PBS's Newshour.

Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Friday, March 23

Stuck in the Middle - "Stuck in a Mysterious Robbery" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When the Bait N' Bite is robbed, the Diaz children use their resources to track down the culprit.

Bizaardvark - "Amelia's Perfectly Imperfect Volleyball Adventure" (Disney Channel, 8:30PM ET/PT)
After Paige convinces the volleyball coach to put Amelia on the team, the DIY diva's ego lands the volleyball team in a match against the state champions.

The Paynes - "Payneful Repairs" (OWN, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Curtis and Ella learn some troubling news about Nyla.

Complete TV Listings

Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of March 19)

Friday, March 23

  • Jim Jefferies (Legit) - Watch Jim on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Ricky Gervais (The Office) - Ricky is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Lena Waithe (Master of None) - Lena appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Jenna Fischer (Splitting Up Together/The Office) and Oliver Hudson (Splitting Up Together/Rules of Engagement) - Jenna and Oliver chat with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT. They will also be on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am and the BUILd Series at 2:30pm.
  • Jamie Lee (Crashing) - Jamie appears on a repeat of Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Boris Kodjoe (The Last Man on Earth/Second Time Around) and Nicole Ari Parker (Second Time Around) - Boris and Nicole are guests on Steve, so check your local listings.
  • Tiffani Thiessen (Alexa & Katie/Saved by the Bell/Saved by the Bell: The College Years) - Tiffani stops by Access Live, so check your local listings. She shares her recipe for spiked hot chocolate on a repeat of Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Zach Braff (Alex, Inc./Scrubs) - Zach appears on Good Mythical Morning with Rhett & Link on YouTube.
  • Jay Pharoah (White Famous) - Jay creates something delicious with Carla Hall on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
  • Mark Hamill (The Texas Wheelers) - Mark will be on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am. He can also be heard on The Morning Mash Up on SiriusXM.
  • Bella Thorne (Shake It Up) - Bella talks about Midnight Sun on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.