Saturday, July 22, 2017

Tommy Dorsey: Jazz Superstar

Tommy Dorsey had a brief life, but during those years he accomplished a lot in the world of jazz. He was born in 1905 and died in 1956, at the age of 51. Tommy and his brother Jimmy were both successful jazz band leaders. The two brothers performed together often, until a falling out in 1935. The two did not speak to each other for many years. By 1953, the Dorsey Brothers took on television projects, including working with Jackie Gleason.

Over the years, many legendary performers were part of Dorsey's band, including Glenn Miller, Frank Sinatra (1940-1942), Nelson Riddle, Doc Severinsen, Louie Bellson, Buddy Rich and more. It was said that Frank Sinatra learned breath control after watching Dorsey's technique on the trombone. Between 1941 and 1951, Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra appeared in ten films. He had an incredible amount of Billboard hits, numbering 286, with 17 number one hits in the 1930s and 1940s. Dorsey was known as a perfectionist with a short temper. He would "steal" performers that he liked from other bands and put them in his own. He was married three times.

A prime example of a Tommy Dorsey big band classic can be seen here. The song "Well Git It" was a showcase for Dorsey's collection of talented performers. The song had a drum solo, a clarinet solo, a solo featuring dueling pianos and alternating trumpet solos. The vitality of this music made it exciting and contagious for listeners. Buddy Rich performed this song on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, with Doc Severinsen and the band.

*Information from and

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Entertainment's Renaissance Man: Quincy Jones

We have all heard the phrase "Jack of all trades, master of none." Many times that is true. People should focus on being great at one thing. But, there are some people who are exceptions to the rule. Quincy Jones is just such a person. The versatility of his talents is staggering. Few have achieved more in the world of entertainment, with excellence achieved in many disciplines.

Quincy is best known for his musical talents. In 1953 at age 20, he toured with jazz great Lionel Hampton as a trumpet player, pianist and arranger. He arranged music for some of the biggest names in entertainment, including Ray Charles, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and even Frank Sinatra. His ear for music led him to produce some groundbreaking songs such as the 1985 charity song We are the World. He produced albums for Michael Jackson including Off the Wall (1979), Thriller (1982) and Bad (1987).

He was the founder of Vibe magazine and he had his own TV production company which produced Mad TV, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and others. He was the co-producer of the film The Color Purple. He won a Tony Award for the Broadway revival of that production.

Jones has been awarded ten honorary doctorate degrees. He is only one of 17 people to have won an Emmy, a Grammy an Oscar and a Tony Award. As a matter of fact, he has won 27 Grammys! At age 84 he is still tacking new challenges as a producer for various projects. In 2001 he released his autobiography. Always one to keep up with the latest technology, he launched his own podcast in 2007.

Here is a clip of the 2001 Kennedy Center Honors. Jones was recognized for his work, where he was treated by a performance that brought together Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles.

Jones' net worth is an estimated $400 million.

* Information from and

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

More Classic Shows Coming to Antenna TV

The following classic sitcoms are coming to the Antenna TV network in 2017.

Alice, aired from 1976-1985, starred Linda Lavin, Vic Tayback, Beth Howland.

Growing Pains, aired from 1985-1992, starred Alan Thicke, Joanna Kerns, Kirk Cameron.

227, aired from 1985-1990, starred Marla Gibbs and Jackee Harry.

The Hogan Family, aired from 1986-1991, starred Sandy Duncan and Jason Bateman.

Head of the Class, aired from 1986-1991, starred Howard Hesseman and Robin Givens.

My Two Dads, aired from 1987-1990, starred Greg Evigan and Paul Reiser.

Becker, aired from 1998-2004, starred Ted Danson and Shawnee Smith.

Murphy Brown, aired from 1988-1998, starred Candice Bergen and Faith Ford.

What's Happening, aired from 1976-1979, starred Ernest Thomas, Haywood Nelson, Fred Berry.

This is a smart move. The network currently airs many classic shows such as Johnny Carson, All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Family Ties, Wings and Newhart.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Here's Johnny, Seven Nights Per Week!

What a pleasure it is to have the late night master Johnny Carson on the air again. On January 1, 2016, the Antenna TV network started airing his shows. Monday through Friday the shows are 60 minutes, made between 1980 and 1992. On Saturday and Sunday, the shows are 90 minutes, aired from 1972 to 1980. It has been amazing to revisit these shows from Johnny. It makes one realize how good he was at his craft. He was a top notch stand up comedian of course, but he also shined as an interviewer and as a comic actor with his Mighty Carson Art Players segments. We have been able to see segments featuring his characters such as Carnac, Art Fern, Floyd R. Turbo and Aunt Blabby. At Johnny's side is the number one second banana, Ed McMahon. Doc and the band sound fantastic as usual. We have seen several episodes with David Letterman. For years, we figured that Letterman was the heir apparent to Carson. Unfortunately Jay Leno filled Carson's spot in 1992 when Johnny stepped down. But, Dave turned out ok, with a 33 year career in late night.

It has been a special treat to see some of the all time legends of show biz on the air again. Johnny's guest list read like a who's who of Hollywood with guests like George Burns, Milton Berle, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Jack Benny, Rodney Dangerfield and many more.

I only have one complaint with these Carson episodes on Antenna TV. There have been very few musical guests and few performances by Doc and the band. People are speculating that the reason behind this is costs that have to do with music licensing. The royalties need to be paid through music agencies like BMI and ASACAP when these shows are re-aired. We have seen more musical performances in the second half of the year than in the first half, so hopefully that is a good sign. Antenna TV is probably doing well ratings-wise with the show, which would expand the budget for airing musical acts.

Antenna TV is tight-lipped regarding ratings numbers, but I have a hunch that they are pleased with the response to the show. Folks of all generations can experience the magic of Carson.

Carson fans will want to check out this Facebook fan page, dedicated to Johnny. At the beginning of 2016, it had 100 members. Now it has over 2700. No doubt the Antenna TV airings have increased the interest in the late night icon.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

It's Cavett vs. Carson Once Again

First it was Johnny Carson returning to late night TV at the beginning of this year on Antenna TV. Now it will be Dick Cavett airing on the Decades channel. They will both air at 11:00 pm eastern, going head-to-head just like they did between 1968 and 1974. During that period, Carson was on NBC and Cavett was on ABC, with both shows originating from New York City.

In 1966, Ed Sullivan announced stand-up comedian Dick Cavett as "A young collegian from Yale". He had worked as a comedy writer for Tonight Show hosts Jack Paar and Johnny Carson. He also was a writer for the short-lived Jerry Lewis variety show in the 1960s. Writing for others was paying the bills, but Cavett wanted to try to be a late night host where he could perform his own jokes for a nationwide audience.

Cavett has hosted many shows in various time slots for various networks including ABC, CBS, PBS, USA, CNBC and TCM. These rebroadcasts will span the array of Cavett shows that aired between 1968 and 1996. He is a cerebral guy who is good friends with Woody Allen. The two of them share a similar comedic style. You could say that Dick Cavett is a "thinking person's" host.

The show begins airing on Decades on February 1. People already need to choose between Fallon, Kimmel and Colbert, and soon we will be able to add Carson and Cavett to the options. Find the Decades affiliate in your area here.

* Some information from and!dick-cavett/cs11