Variety (March 1956)

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Wednesday, March 14, 1956 PfisZIETY RADIO-TELEVISION ‘PARLOR HUCKSTERS’FACE rap ‘Festival of Favorite Roles’ Eyed As NBC-TV Matsnee’ Feature TV Borrows From TV Television may be in the throes of a new trend under which it borrows from its own material for musical versions. Like its sister fields, legit and films, the homescreen medium naturally goes everywhere, the selfsame Broadway and Hollywood, for its in¬ spiration, in addition to a horde of originals on the teledrama shows. After nearly a decade of showcasers in the straight play groove, it would appear that the time is ripe to draw on some of them fo • translation into tuneshows, as legit and the cinema capital have done over the years from their own and other show biz branches. One of the first of these musicalizations was in the case of the comedy, “The King and Mrs. Candle," an original by Sumner Locke Elliott starring Cyril Ritchard and Joan Greenwood on the ex-“Philco TV Playhouse" nearly two years ago. Last August NBC- TV put “Candle" on “Producers Showcase" as a telemusical with book by Elliott, music by Moose Charlap and lyrics by Chuck Sweeney and cast, Ritchard, Miss Greenwood, plus Richard Haydn and Irene Manning as the toppers. Coming up is “A Man’s Game" in the musicomedy idiom and as a ••baseball spec” with a new kind of curve which NBC will slot as a 90-minute show on Saturday or Sunday, Somewhere between Sept 1 and the World Series. “Game," like “Candle," had its genesis on the Philco “pioneer" program in June of 1952. Robert Alan Aurthur, its author, will be joined by David Shaw in providing the book, with words & music and talent credits not yet set. David Susskind (Talent Associates) will produce. “Game" is about a bigleague scout on the prowl for a catcher who instead comes across a femme pitcher with a fast ball and lotsa curves (both ways). At a crucial time, the lady hurler an¬ nounces her pregnancy. Patricia Benoit created the role in the original, with Vinton Hayworth as the harried scout. Producers and program development chieftains will no doubt be “looking over" the files from here in to come up with other plays that lend themselves to tuner treatment. This would give tv a new-found status and perhaps provide the other fields with major properties, as is being done regularly in transposing teleshows to theatrical films and legiters. ABC’s Coaching Schools For Politicos in Grassroot Areas Television coaching schools on a-f* grassroots level for local and state political candidates are being set up on a nationwide basis by ABC- TV through its o&o stations and affiliates. Project, headed up by news-special events veep John Daly and station relations director A1 Beckman, will comprise tuition-free coaching operations for those can¬ didates facing the cameras for the first time. “Students" will be briefed on production procedures, both for in- studio and remote programs, on camera angles and how they ac¬ centuate or distort the appearance, on how to take cues, how to sit and stand, how to face a camera, Course will include practice ses¬ sions, with the politicos viewing themselves through monitors as they read, converse, etc., and a lec¬ ture by the station program direc¬ tor or news chief on general on- camera behavior. If a “graduate" wants more training or practice be¬ fore hitting the television trail, sta¬ tions will give it to him. Initial- reaction of affiliates to the plan has been almost univer¬ sally favorable, with the web get¬ ting immediate okays from such grassroots outlets as KCCC, Sacra¬ mento; WLWA, Atlanta; KLOR-TV, (Continued on page 48) Sunbeam’s Stake In NBC Vidgrid +u® u ^k e ^ m * alr eady buying into the NBC phase of the Chi-Frisco J olltlcal conventions (along with has taken a quarter share MDn e ^^A vidgrid for next fall. JNBC has acquired the rights for tne second consecutive season — making five out of six years that it will have carried the national nnn am r e of the Week"—for $1,485,- nnn fc, ast year ’ s P rice was $1,250,- „ w eb was the sole bidder, CBS-TV saying the NCAA Bked wasn't right" and beaming Pro football, instead, and ABC-TV having been financially singed by mpa e ®* a ^ e -s^ein two years ago. setu P embraces eight na- rvi™ te *ecasts (seven Saturdays T kanksgiving Day) and five e^nals, rights on latter being led separately by individual couegeg and conferences. Sponsor*- se three-fourths of the spread w- be 0n a straight, national sale asis and the other fourth avail¬ able as co-op. • - ■ CBS-AM Ciggie Coin CBS Radio is in with a brace of ciggie sponsors. R. J. Reynolds is backing a new half-hour show slot¬ ted Saturday night starting next week (24). This will feature Alan .Freed, WINS, N. Y., disk \ jockey, and Count Basie orch in a swing and jive session at 7:30. Preem will guest Tony Bennett and the Chordettes. WCBS will ride it at 9 o’clock to avoid conflict with Freed's WINS show. Brown & Williamson, already in on the web’s “Amos ’n’ Andy Music Hall," takes a segment of Edgar Bergen’s Sunday hour starting April 2. Negroes Boycott Columbus Station In Rogers Axing Columbus, March 13. A viewing boycott of WLW-C, the Crosley station here, has been instituted by this city’s Negro pop¬ ulation because the station refused to telecast a series starring Negro drummer Jimmy Rogers, a local favorite. Rogers was to have be¬ gun a variety show on the station last week, complete with sponsor, when WLW-C management yanked the ‘Show on the basis it didn’t measure up to the station’s stand¬ ards. Yanking launched the boy¬ cott. A Rogers fan club, constituting some 4,000 members, started a word-of-mouth campaign for a viewer boycott of the station. Each of the 4,000 members is said to have agreed to make phone calls to 100 persons listed in the directory to get the campaign underway. Columbus has a considerable Negro population, about 150,000, but the .effectiveness of the boy¬ cott hasn’t yet been measured.* The Columbus Sentinel, the town’s prestige Negro newspaper, hasn't taken a stand on the matter. Rogers had just completed an 80-hour marathon fundraising ap¬ pearance on television here, and a sponsor had been signed for a 13- week variety show starring the drummer, to begin last week on WLW-C. Show was to have been a' half-hour variety layout with the Rusty Bryant orcli. , TARGET OF FTC Cambridge, Mass., March 13. Federal Trade Commissioner Lowell B. Mason predicted here yesterday (Mon.) that Congress will direct the FTC to launch joint investigation “in depth" next session of radio and tv “bait and switch" advertising and that out of it may come a ban on “air¬ borne hucksterism." (In an interview published ... Sunday’s New York Herald Trib¬ une, Mason said he will recommend a $1,000,000 expenditure for a Fed¬ eral monitoring system to “clean up" fraudulent advertising over the air.) Addressing the Harvard School of Business Administration, Mason said that “viewers and listeners are undoubtedly being bilked of fabu¬ lous sums and the industry is let¬ ting itself be strangled by the sharpshooters. Th'e situation cries for corrective measures." He said, “The American home is being deluged from morning until night with spurious tv-radio adver¬ tising claims, gimmicks and the clamor of the shills." With the stantaneous impact" of the broad cast medium, he added, “we can no longer assume that the abuses are trivial and will be corrected somehow, some way, some time by somebody." Terming the “huckster in the parlor" as “a byproduct of a new and mushrooming industry," Mason saw a parallel in such “commercial juvenility with the early days of the motion pictures." “The flickers went through their growing pains, he said, “and it took a couple of Senate investigations and a few suits during their adolescence be¬ fore they created the Hays office with its self-restraint on bad busi¬ ness habits." Citing some of the “most com¬ mon gimmicks" reported to FTC by Better Business Bureaus, Mason said the “quick sell" on tv is not limited to store windows, cars jewelry and appliances but even includes sale of land. Mason charged the broadcasting Industry with being “dilettante' tackling the problem. He said the NARTB Television Code Review Board “accomplishes- some good in cutting down the bump and grind girls, leg art, beer guzzling and cigaret gasping." But when it comes to doing any¬ thing “effective" in preventing type of advertising that the FTC could stop “if it had the money, 1 Mason declared, “I would say the board works at an-extremely low point of visibility." First and only report, in 1953, of the Code Review Board, he said, reveals no instance of denying subscriber the right to use of seal of approval. “I doubt if the seal has accomplished anything be¬ sides giving a false sense of secu¬ rity to the gimmick purchasers who see it in close ploximity' to some very elusive promotions," Mason added. FLOOD STORY'S DELUGE MacLeish Novelette Sold to Metro, Satevepost for $37,750 Boston, March 13. Rod MacLeish, news director for WBZ-WBZA, covered the 1955 New England floods, touring the devas¬ tated areas for many days and came up with an idea for a novel¬ ette which paid off this week to the tune of $37,750/ MacLeish’s flood novelette was sold to Metro and to the Saturday Evening Post. Contracts were signed by officials of the Post and the film company with Harold Mat- son, MacLeish’s agent in New York. Metro paid $35,000 for the picture rights and the Post paid $2,750. MacLeish’s novelette is to ap¬ pear in the April 14 issue, the mag¬ azine reported. M-G has not an¬ nounced any shooting dates or cast for' the film. MacLeish, who joined WBZ radio news last May after working at other Hub radio stations, has pub¬ lished several short stories and has written for “Fireside Theatre." Gillette’s Golf Spread Gillette has bought an additional 30 minutes and latched on to “in¬ ternational" coverage on the Palm Beach golf tourney skedded for Wykagyll Country Club, New Rochelle, N. Y., June 10 on NBC- TV. Station spread has been upped to 177, with 11 of them Canadian. Original slotting of 4 to 5 p.m. has been extended to 5:30. Understood this will be initial live “international" golfing event. ‘Richard’s’Giant Audience on TV Laurence Olivieri “Richard III 1 was clocked at between 40,000,000 and 50,000,000 viewers in the his¬ toric three-hour colorcast of the film on Sunday (11) from 2:30 to 5:30. The estimates are from NBC- TV, with show hitting an overnight Trendex rating of 19 to swamp the opposition. At that giant pace, “Richard” was pronto enshrined as racking up the No. 1 daytime audl- ence of all time as an entertain¬ ment entity, with perhaps sports specs, political conventions and certain special events (Kefauver hearings, the Army vs. McCarthy fuss, etc.) in the van of the sumptuous Shakespearean work. The web’s initial “Peter Pan,’ two-hour show, has drawn the largest cuffo trade, 67,000,000 viewers, and the recent “Inside Beverly Hills" spec marked a peak for 90-minuters, with an estimated 54,000,000 looker-inners. In com¬ parison with Sunday, one of NBC’s biggest weapons on that day is Wide Wide World," which has been pegging 13-14 on the Tren- dexes, equivalent to 32 on the Nielsens. (“Richard” occupied all of “WWW" time plus the preced¬ ing 90 minutes.) Of greater sig--| nificance was sets-in-use, averag¬ ing 33.5 per minute, with 2.94 persons per set. Show’s share-of- audience was 56.7. “Richard" maintained its gait throughout, with low of 18.2 at the starting half-hour and highs of 19.5 at 3 and 4:30—or a disparity of but 1.3 between crest and trough. Opening salvo compared to the 1.9 of CBS-TV’s “Adventure"; the other half-hour clusters were: 19.5 vs. 1.1 for “Face the Nation"; 19 vs. 3.9 for Eric Sevareid; 19.1 5.6 for “Front Row Center"; 19.5 vs. 7.1 for “Center" and 18.8 2.7 for the opening segment of “Omnibus." Figured on the pair of 90-min¬ ute ratings purchased by NBC off the Trendex line, the scores were 18.9 for the first half and 19.1 for the second — again virtually a Mexican standoff. ABC-TV shows in that first half rated 5.2, with its segueing “Super Circus" chalk¬ ing 5-plus. The Trendex for “Rich¬ ard" gives it surefire Top Ten status on the Nielsens against the formidable nighttime lineup. NBC’s research sleuths said that number of viewers per set was higher than usual, due to the com¬ bination of Sunday family looking and the hoopla on the Bard classic, with its attendant student partici¬ pation for both personal and home¬ work reasons. t NBC-TV’s “Matinee Theatre," the daytime cross-the-board dra¬ matics in color which will achieve its 100th program next week (20), may pull the kind of “festival” that 1 makes actors’ mouths water. Win¬ ston O’Keefe, casting chief of the Albert McClcory Coast - based series, said while on a visit to New York last week that the show is in a good position to offer actors “the one role they’ve wanted to play and haven’t." It could be, sav, q Red Buttons enacting Hamlet or a seri¬ ous pretender trying on one of the Bard’s buffoons for size. These are the extremes, but O’Keefe believes such a “festival of favorite roles” has merit, especially since the dramatic show'caser, with its full hour of “legit" slots daily, is flexible enough to provide a change of pace unlike any other show in tv. O’Keefe is well aware that the statistics qn “Matinee” since the Oct. 31 premiere are staggering as to man hours and “color cameras hours" expended, types of pro¬ grams tackled, total properties pur¬ chased, new and going writers represented, talent used, etc., but declared that there’s a more in¬ tersting facet. Actors tapped for “one-nighters" from the east, for example, don’t stop there. “Most of them manage to pick about a month’s work in television films and other live shows,” O'Keefe noted. “They practically come in off the movie lots since our policy is to rehearse evenings. I should say it's a very nice setup for actors making the crosscountry trek. Before his “matinee” assignment O’Keefe had been associated with Broadway and related matters a good part of his life—as an ex¬ actor, general manager of the Washington Theatre Festival, man¬ aging director of New' Stages, founder-director of the American Theatre Wing’s Pro Training Pro¬ gram postwar. So, as a visitor to “the scenes of his crimes," he'd be expected to boost New York over Zenith Net Up 41% Chicago, March 13. Zenith Radio’s ’55 net income jumped 41% to $8,034,491 on sales totaling $152,905,005. Net, equal¬ ing $16.31 a share, was the high¬ est for any fiscal year in the com¬ pany’s history. Profits in ’54 were $5,676,264, $11.53 a share. the Coast when it comes to emana¬ tion of live shows. “I wish I could," O’Keefe said. “The plain fact is that we have the superior facilities out there. It’s tremen¬ dous and getting bigger. I’m not discounting New York, just giving the relative positions as to quan¬ tity." Fact that there’s a $500 top for Matinee" actors—idols or other¬ wise—doesn’t discourage the talent from seeking exposures on the show. Among the w.k.’s have been Louis Hayward, Sylvia Field, Jean Parker, Dorothy Shay, Gene Lock¬ hart, Billie Burke, Judith Evelyn, (Continued on page 48) TV Justice’ Cues < Columbus, March 13. A Columbus firm has filed a $1,000,000 damage suit against the producer and sponsor of the tv show “Justice" claiming malicious libel. Attorney James Maxwell Jr., who said he represents the Buck¬ eye Credit Advisors, Inc. here, filed the action in Common Pleas Court against NBC and American Tobacco Co. Maxwell described the local con¬ cern as being a “small business engaged in advising clients in pay¬ ing their financial obligation.” On the March 4 “Justice” program, the plot concerned a “debt pool" which involved blackmail and fraud, Maxwell said. The attorney claimed in the suit that after the program, William Prince “departed from the play to urge the audience not to use the service of businesses of this kind." The suit claimed this w'as mali¬ cious libel and implied malice with intent to damage, injure, and de¬ stroy the plaintiff’s reputation and business.”