garth_johnson4:58 PM Hello, cash customers … this is Jack Benny … Jack as in MULE and Benny as in BENNY FRANKLIN … the man that put a wisecrack in the Liberty Bell. Everything’s fine in the Studio tonight. I think we’re all here. Let’s call the roll…BENNY: Fran Frey? FREY: Here!BENNY: Ethel Shutta? ETHEL Here I am, Jack.BENNY: George Olsen? OLSEN: Present.Benny: Laura Leibowitz?
Laura Leibowitz5:00 PM It’s funny…even though I most likely haven’t heard those shows, I feel like I have.5:00Reading the script from the screen here, I can hear it in my head. Complete with acetate static.
kathy_fuller_seeley5:00 PM doing fine, Laura. As I mentioned to you, I had a WONDERFUL 54 minute long interview with Barbara Thunell, and we are going to do more on Monday. It makes her so happy to tell her story, and I am so glad to record it!
Laura Leibowitz5:01 PM She actually turned me down today for attending the Benny convention. Ah well.5:01Kathy – I’d say take the reins on making that happen, Kathy. A bunch of people put their hands up for helping with recreations!
kathy_fuller_seeley5:01 PM Have not heard any updates yet, but from what Michael said, Joan gave a YES, so now its up to the estate lawyers if the original publishers give us leave to republish
Laura Leibowitz5:02 PM Right, OK. I CCed them on that one E-mail, but Rebecca was out of the office. I’m sure we’ll hear from her.
kathy_fuller_seeley5:03 PM ah ha, Laura I would greatly appreciate it if you followed up with one more email asking for help. thank you!!!!!
kathy_fuller_seeley5:07 PM one thing I enjoy a lot in volume 2 is the first parodies of “Grand Hotel” the blockbuster film of fall 1932. with JACK playing John Barrymore’s part of the lover and everyone taking him kind of seriously
kathy_fuller_seeley5:28 PM Rodrigo, I believe that is just the point at which Allen had to abandon radio because of his health. That is how Minerva Pious ended up on the Benny show for a few weeks, scary times for Allen’s devoted cast members
Laura Leibowitz5:31 PM College Holiday was strange, and feels kind of dirty today because of the eugenics plot line.5:31And it’s timing during the rise of Hitler,
kathy_fuller_seeley5:31 PM It was WONDERFUL to look at Mark Sandrich the Paramount director’s scrapbooks. He was hired from RKO precisely to make Jack Benny a MOVIE success. Sandrich had made the great Astaire Rogers musicals, and the Phil Harris short. IT was Sandrich who made the “best” or easiest Benny films, Man About Town, Buck Benny and the (awful) Love Thy Neighbor
kathy_fuller_seeley5:33 PM Love thy neighbor is dreadful!!! It made Mark Sandrich ask to move to Bing Crosby musicals. Fred Allen DID NOT WANT TO MAKE IT and you can tell everyone is lackluster, Nevertheless it made A TON OF MONEY for Paramount
Laura Leibowitz5:38 PM Also strange about him being strong on WB buying a script from Dalton Trumbo, then backing out of it.5:38It was, I believe, pre-Hollywood Ten days, so I don’t think that was a factor.
Laura Leibowitz5:40 PM The Warners file on him from that time is full of false starts, including that bio-pic that somehow morphed into something completely unrecognizable.5:40Killer Kates
kathy_fuller_seeley5:40 PM talk about a film failure!!!! Its final release is only like 50 minutes long. It STARTED as a decent project, a Yankee-doodle-dandy George M Cohan stage hit. And several of Jack’s previous projects had been recent stage hits — Charlies’ Aunt and Geo Washington Slept Here. But they never came up with a good script, and during filming it just fell apart. Jack was able to ask his friend Ernst Lubitsch to try to salvage it….not much help….
garth_johnson5:40 PM From Variety — It just may be too many studios not the right project …1941-01-15_-_mag_-_variety_-_benny_doubling_from_paramount_to_20-fox.jpg
kathy_fuller_seeley5:41 PM oh the bio pic of Benny! There is funny stuff about that in Variety and the trades. Benny wanted it to be a parody of the “serious” biopix coming about (soon to be Jolson, Buster KEaton, etc). Jack wanted it to be a parody, adn he talked HUMPREY BOGART into being the lead!!!!! But after 1945 it all fell apart
Laura Leibowitz5:42 PM And it’s got Jack in blackface, which pretty much makes it a no-go today.5:42Kathy – Exactly…somehow Bogart was involved, and I just don’t understand the vision for it.
kathy_fuller_seeley5:43 PM Jack in blackface in that film is the saddest thing, he looks so uncomfortable and grim, but I bet Garth has photos from teh press of Jack and Eddie Anderson appearing in blackface around this time, yikes! Its in Barbara;s scrapbook’
Laura Leibowitz5:44 PM Kathy – Well, he’s supposed to be a bit grim in that scene because he’s hiding from the cops. But I agree. He looks uncomfortable.5:44There ya go. But playing a comedian worked in a big way for Laurence Olivier.
kathy_fuller_seeley5:45 PM Laura, no I have not seen the Chuck Barris doc, but will go find it. I love the one about the Smothers Brothers, but Barris would not have censorship on his side, haha
Laura Leibowitz5:45 PM The Barris one is very, very, very surreal though.5:45The guy playing him is amazing. And it follows his own autobiography thread of him being a contract killer for the CIA.
Rodrigo Araya5:45 PM March 1946? So “The Horn Blows” didn’t really kill Jack’s film career that much…
Rodrigo Araya5:49 PM The studios were already in trouble in 1945 for various reasons. The Paramount case and TV certainly did not help…
kathy_fuller_seeley5:49 PM oh yes, with or without TV, film attendance in the US dropped drastically after 1946,,,,,, amusingly I have learned that it went UP in Italy, but also cratered in the UK. In the US, even in places with no TV, film box office sank and sank
Rodrigo Araya5:50 PM Listenership rose particularly on Fridays and Saturdays, previously the “graveyard slot” during the war…
Laura Leibowitz5:51 PM Also, I don’t know how many suburban theatres had been built at that time. Wonder if people didn’t want to take their families “into the city,” or felt it was too far.
kathy_fuller_seeley5:51 PM some economists say that folks were concentrating on their families and ditched BOTH movies (for which they would need a car to drive to) and radio — and this is before TV reached many places. Drive-In movies WERE a huge lift to the movie industry during this time
Rodrigo Araya5:51 PM Some things never change. And networks complain no one watches TV on both days…
Laura Leibowitz5:52 PM I have to wonder at ratings, since I watched Fareed Zakaria GPS this afternoon after my AT&T recorded it this morning.
kathy_fuller_seeley5:52 PM what scared the radio folks in 1948 and 1949 was that folks with both radios and TVs, watched ONLY the TVs during the times programming was on, and saved the radios for soap operas, drive time in the a.m. and music
Laura Leibowitz5:52 PM How many people watch something when it’s actually airing vs. watching later/on demand.5:53Kathy – Remind me…at what point did Petrillo’s ban on recorded music end?
kathy_fuller_seeley5:53 PM this is what PUSHED Jack into TV, notice that he was one of the “last” to start in October 1950…. that was because he was on the west coast, and Live TV was in NYC
garth_johnson5:55 PM October 5, 1949 – Variety1949-10-05_-_mag_-_variety_-_jack_benny_may_be_guinea_pig_in_agva_bout_with_petrillo.jpg
kathy_fuller_seeley5:56 PM Critics were frustrated at DJs calling out commercial ads in between too many songs, and they generally hated recorded music over live. But they liked the patter and news updates adn those that spoke well of jazz
kathy_fuller_seeley5:59 PM its so interesting that the radio critics found they had to move to TV, but radio in various genres and forms was still there as much as ever, so to note what the major critics were saying during the 1948-1955 period is very interesting.
Rodrigo Araya6:00 PM Hey, Tony! I wouldn’t eat in that restaurant again… The overcoats are terrible!6:00(Broadway Romeo)