Thursday, May 12, 2011

Retro TV Friday

Over at It's About TV, a new piece on the short life and strange history of the 1966 NBC variety show starring Sammy Davis Jr. One thing which may have gotten lost in the longer article is my reason for the interest in the show in the first place: Prior to the debut of the Davis show in January 1966, Sammy had done a variety special which was to be broadcast on ABC in February of that year. Due to the terms of Davis' contract with ABC, he was not allowed to appear on a competing network program for three weeks prior to the airing of the special.

Because of this, Davis hosted the premiere episode of The Sammy Davis Jr. Show, then disappeared for three weeks, replaced by guest hosts. Can you imagine something like this happening today? Sure, Letterman had guest hosts while he was ill, and Johnny Carson often seemed to be off more than he was on, but think of a star appearing in the first episode of his new show, then not being seen again for a month? By the time that month was over, Davis had only appeared in 25% of the episodes of his own show! Way to build an audience, huh? It's no wonder the show only lasted a little over three months. 
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