Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Chuck McCann's Let's Have Fun Scrapbook by Chuck McCann

Chuck McCann. Chuck McCann’s Let’s Have Fun Scrapbook: My Life in the Wacky World of Live Kids’ Television. Tuluca Lake, Ca., 2012.

McCann knew from childhood he wanted to perform. He did impressions as a child for those around him. His grandfather juggled and rode a unicycle in Bill Cody’s West Show His father was a musician who toured with orchestras.

After high school, McCann appeared in the Pasadena Playhouse. He enjoyed being a character actor. He worked as a comedian in New York clubs and on variety shows. He then apprenticed in the “Rootie Kazotte Show” with puppeteer Paul Ashley. Ashley and McCann traveled with thier puppet acts. Their New York TV show was often picked up live in mid-broadcast in other cities in other time zones such as Chicago.

Sandy Becker of WNEW-TV asked McCann to take over his comedy show while he was on vacation. McCann was asked this on a Friday to begin the next Monday McCann wrote a show with Dick Gautier.

Live television for McCann included drinking buttermilk in a commercial that made him sick, animals that bit him and drew blood, and a commercial with a talking doll that broke and wouldn’t stop talking.

McCann and Dick Van Dyke did impressions of Laurel and Hardy on WPIX-TV. They also did impressions of Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton.

WPIX expanded the hours McCann was on TV. In 1960, his “Let’s Have Fun” was a live four hour show.

McCann’s show was profitable for WPIX. Yet the show was not given a budget, McCann had to pay for whatever he needed for the show, Costumes were found from the Salvation Army store. The show was filmed in a small space no intended to be used as a TV studio. The lights were two feet about McCann. His hair once caught fire.

McCann was once fired from a cannon It shot his clothes out yet left him inside.

During a newspaper strike, McCann, a la Fiorello LaGuadia reading comics on the radio during an earlier strike, acted out the comics.

There was no live live audience in most of McCann’s shows. He fed off the crew’s laughter, When a program manager insisted children appear in a Kookie Fortune Cooke Contest, he had a child open and read a fortune cooke from a local fortune cooke company who sent over the wrong batch. The fortune read “Sex will be risky tonight.” The contest was quickly cancelled.

Leon the Lion, the MGM lion, appeared on McCann’s show. The lion escaped, went into an elevator, exited into the lobby and swiped a fur coat off a woman, The station put the woman and a friend up at the Waldorf Astoria and got them show tickets and a fancy dinner.

Bert Draeturrous, an engineer on McCann’s show, invented showing film backwards. McCann invented a character Mr. Backwards. The signal from the backwards film, though, failed to meet FCC broadcast standards so they had to stop using it. McCann showed the technique to Steve Allen. Allen could afford the preamplifier that made the process work according to FCC standards.

McCann and Earl Doud created the CBS show “Far Out Space Nut” which starred Bob Denver.

The first MdDonald’s TV ad in the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut area was on McCann’s show. He had to eat and pretend to enjoy a sandwich which had gone cold.

McCann once ate what he thought was ice cream with chocolate syrup only to discover it was a potato underneath the syrup as ice cream melts He had to talk while being unable to swallow it,

The Federal Communications Commission in 197 required fewer product endorsements by children’s show hosts. In 1968, sensing the changing directions of children’s TV programming, left children’s TV. He was in the movie “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter”. McCann later did comedy tours with Tim Conway. 

Just Between Us by Mario Lopez

Mario Lopez with Steven Santagati. Just Between Us. New York, N.Y.: Celeba, Penguin Group, 2014.

The author has worked in the entertainment business since age 10. He started doing commercials. He was on the TV series “Saved By the Bell”, was a guest judge on “Dancing with the Stars”, and now hosts “Extra”.

Lopez was a chubby baby, claiming to look like a sharpei dog. He grew up in Chula Valley, Ca. near the Mexican border. It was whispered some of relatives were involved in the drug cartel.

Lopez’s mother enrolled him in dance class at age nine, which he questions as “what cool boy ever took a dance class?” He found he liked it and enjoyed being the only boy in class dancing with girls.

Christine Guerrero, a talent agent who specialized in representing children and young people was at a dance recital where Lopez danced. Lopez’s mother approached Guerreo who had liked his dancing. Lopez read for her at her San Diego office and she took him as a client. His first work was in local print ads. He then was cast in 1984 as a regular on the TV series “A.K.A. Pablo”, a Norman Lear production that showcased Hispanic actors. He enjoyed working with guest star Bea Arthur who answered many of his questions. Lopez remained in public school through graduation. “A.K.A. Pablo” filmed 13 episodes yet was canceled after six episodes. “TV Guide” ranks it as the 45th worst TV show of all time although Lopez argues it wasn’t on long enough for it to gain an audience.

Lopez met other child actors. He found Gary Coleman, who had several handlers, spoiled from all the attention. Ricky Schroder, on the other hand, was friendly and nice to Lopez and others.

In the fall of 1984. at age 11, Lopez was cast in the TV series “Kids Incorporated”. His dance and drumming skills were important to his work on the show. He recalls it as “the toughest job I ever worked” with a “tough as nails choreographer”. Off set, he exchanged 11 year kisses with Stacy Ferguson who is now knows as Fergie. He also did guest appearances on other shows such as “The Golden Girls”.

NBC developed a TV show “Good Morning, MIss Bliss” that it then rejected. The Disney Channel ran it but canceled it before its first season was over. NBC reclaimed the show, changed the focus from the teacher to the students, and renamed it “Saved by the Bell”. Mark Paul Gossler was kept as the lead along with Dustin Diamond and Lark Vorhies. New characters were created. Lopez won a role as one of the added characters. He was a permed mullet cut wig. The wardrobe was chosen by staff who attempted to follow current trends.

Lopez was friends with Dustin Diamond. Not everyone liked Diamond. Diamond would leave photographs of his penis around the set.

Mark Paul Gosselaur’s mother did not let him go to parties or hang out with the other kids.

Lopez was close to co-star Elizabeth Berkley as a “brother / sister” type relationship that continues to the present. He dated co-star Tiffani Thiessen off and on.

“Saved by the Bell” laster five seasons. It became more popular afterwards in syndication. There was a season long spin-off “Saved by the Bell: The College Years” which did not connect as well as the network did not want the characters to become too different from their high school characteristics.

Lopez did personal appearances. He was amused seeing how young girls would slip him their phone numbers, and then mothers would also slip him their phone numbers.

Lopez appeared as Greg Louganis in a TV movie “Breaking the Surface”. He was nominated for an ALMA Award.

Lopez hosted the reality TV show “Name Your Adventure:. He later co-hosted the talk show “The Other Half”. Dick Clark gave him lots of useful advice. Lopez then had a recurring role for four years on ?Nip/Tuck”. He was a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars” and won the contest He then hosted “America’s Best Dance Crew” on MTV in Los Angeles and would then fly to New York where he was on Broadway in “A Chorus Line”. He was later hired to host “Extra”.

He notes that, on movie press junkets, a stopwatch is used to time interviews and when the prescribed time is reached, the interview is over and then next interviewer takes over.

Lopez also had a radio show “ON with Mario Lopez’ that is nationally syndicated. It ranks best in its time slot in all major markets including Los Angeles. He also has a NOVO show “Mario Lopez: One on One”.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Dear Cary by Dyan Cannon

Dyan Cannon. Dear Cary: My Life With Cary Grant. New York, N.Y.: It Books, HarperCollins Publishers, 2012.

Dyan Cannon was born Diane Friesea. Jerry Wald of 20th Century stated he wanted to change her name to something that evoked “Explosions! Guns! Cannons! Excitement!” He declared her new name was Diane Cannon, later changed again to Dyan Cannnon.

Cannon tested for a movie role. One of the studio executives declared her nose was oo flat. She went to get a nose job. The doctor refused to perform the surgery, stating she already had kind of nose that people were paying to have.

Cannon did not get the movie role for which she tested. She get a job working on publicity for the movie “Les Girls” for $200 a week.

Cannon dated Cary Grant. Grant believed his mother had died when he was 10 years old. He learned 20 years later from his father that she was still alive yet in a mental institution His father declared he did it for Cary and he could not support both of them. His mother had not had a breakdown. Cary walked out on his father. He father died a year later.

Cary Grant alway wrote Dyan as “Diane” as if not accepting her stage name. Yet Cannon always referred to Grant as “Cary Grant” and not by his real name Archie Leach.

Cannon agreed to take LSK with Grant. Grant called LSK as “the key to ultimate peace of mind” that makes the user “closer to God.” She agreed. After taking it, Grant told her “this is your opportunity to ask the universe anything you want”. She responded with “okay, universe, I want to ask you, what is God?” Cannon then saw giant dancing bears singing nursery songs in German. Cannon reacted badly and a doctor present gave her Seconol which made her sleep for 18 hours. Cannon asked Grant “How in hell can giant bears singing in German bring you closer to God?”

Cannon admits to feeling jealous while watching 30 feet away on a set watching Grant kiss Leslie Caron while filming “Father Goose”. She knew it was acting but felt they were “putting a little too much feeling” into their roles.

Grant and Cannon married. Grant convinced Cannon to take LSD again. She did not want to but finally agreed. Cannon’s father told Grant “She doesn’t need drugs, Cary. She needs love. Your love.” Grant responded “She’s under my jurisdiction now.”

Grant kept taking LSD yet Cannon wouldn’t. They drifted apart as Grant became more dependent on chemicals. They divorced. Cannon had a breakdown that ws attributable to the 10 or 12 times she had taken LSD and other drugs she had taken. She detoxed from her pills and chemicals.                                                                                                                                                                    

Cannon returned to acting. She appeared in the movie “Bob & Ted & Carol & Alice” and several others.