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.

New on DVD/Blu-ray (September)

The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Ninth Season Newhart - The Complete Sixth Season 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Fifth Season Family Matters - The Complete Eighth Season Modern Family - The Complete Season 7

09/06 - Coach - Season One (Mill Creek) / Season Two / Seasons One and Two
09/06 - South Park - The Complete Ninteenth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Ninth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - Newhart - The Complete Sixth Season
09/20 - 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Fifth Season
09/20 - Family Matters - The Complete Eighth Season
09/20 - Modern Family - The Complete Season 7
09/20 - Veep - Season 5
09/27 - The Wonder Years - Season Six
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest

Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Saturday, October 22

Superstore - "Guns, Pills and Birds" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Amy (America Ferrera) assigns an uncomfortable Jonah (Ben Feldman) to the gun section of Cloud 9, Jonah abuses his right-to-refuse sale to anyone that causes concern, causing an open-carry protest to gather in the store. On principle, Glenn (Mark McKinney) attempts to purchase all of the store's morning-after pills, but finds himself in a moral dilemma when he can't afford them. Dina (Lauren Ash), Garrett (Colton Dunn) and Mateo (Nico Santos) hunt down a crow that has flown into the store.

The Thundermans - "Happy Heroween" (Nickelodeon, 8:00PM ET/PT)
It's a major Halloween storm outside, but inside Colosso keeps the family spooked by telling three scary stories that are sure to terrify even the bravest of superheroes.

School of Rock - "Welcome to My Nightmare" (Nickelodeon, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Mr. Finn's class decides to celebrate Halloween in school after Principal Mullins, who hates the holiday, goes home sick. When she returns sooner than expected, they have to scramble to keep her from finding out the truth.

Complete TV Listings

Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 24)

Saturday, October 22

  • Jim J. Bullock (Too Close for Comfort) - Jim talks about touring the U.S. in Kinky Boots on Oprah: Where Are They Now? at 10pm ET/PT on OWN.
Sunday, October 23
  • Patti LaBelle (Out All Night) - Catch Patti on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
Monday, October 24
  • Ricky Gervais (The Office) - Watch Ricky on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Tom Hanks (Bosom Buddies) - Tom appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. He also talks about Inferno on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am and on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Elijah Wood (Wilfred) - Elijah is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Ana Gasteyer (People of Earth/Lady Dynamite/Suburgatory) - Ana visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) - Nick stops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Ron Howard (Happy Days/The Andy Griffith Show) - Ron appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Zooey Deschanel (New Girl) - Zooey is a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Michael Chiklis (Daddio) - Michael drops by Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Jameela Jamil (The Good Place) - Jameela appears on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Aya Cash (You're the Worst) - Aya talks about You're the Worst on the AOL Build ShoW at 2pm. She will also be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
  • Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth) - Will is a guest on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Mary Steenburgen (The Last Man on Earth/Ink) - Mary talks about The Last Man on Earth on NBC's Today in the 10am hour. She will also be on the AOL Build Show at 12:30pm.
  • Anna Camp (The Mindy Project) - Anna talks about Good Girls Revolt on People Now at 8:30am.
  • James Brolin (Life in Pieces) - James is a guest on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.