This morning, we have news briefs about the passing of two television veterans — one from behind the scenes and one in front of the camera.
Also, Henson puppets may be returning to NBC, American Horror Story gets cut, and a celebration of Cagney & Lacey for their 30th anniversary (original series image at right). Plus, some notable dates in TV history.
Jack Elinson, RIP
A veteran TV comedy writer, whose career stretched over 50 years, died last Thursday at his home in Santa Monica. Elinson was 89 years old. After writing for shows like The Johnny Carson Show and The Real McCoys in the 1950s, he went on write for Make Room for Daddy, The Andy Griffith Show, and Hogan’s Heroes. As a producer, he worked on Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C., That Girl, and Good Times. He was also an executive producer, working on shows like One Day at Time, The Facts of Life, and 227, which he also developed. He is survived by his second wife Estelle, seven children and a dozen grandchildren. A private memorial was held yesterday.
John Neville, RIP
The actor who played “The Well-Manicured Man” on The X-Files has died at 86. Neville suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and passed away in Toronto on Saturday, surrounded by his family. He appeared in six episodes of the sci-fi FOX series as well as numerous movies like Little Women and The Fifth Element. He played the title role in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and worked as an artistic director for several notable theatres. Neville’s survivors include his wife of 62 years, Caroline, six children, and six grandchildren.
The New Nabors
With the new Muppets movie set to open tomorrow, the Jim Henson Company has made a script deal for a new puppet/human series with NBC. The New Nabors is a comedy that revolves around a human family who lives next door to a family of puppets. Lisa Henson, John Hoffman, and John Riggi are executive producing with longtime Henson producer Alex Rockwell on board. This will be the first human/puppet series like this since NBC’s ALF back in the 1980s. Don’t look for Kermit or any of the other Muppets to make guest shots however. The Henson Company sold those characters to Disney back in 2004. The company still owns characters from projects like Fraggle Rock, Farscape, and Labyrinth.
American Horror Story
Even successful shows get their episode orders cut sometimes. The first season finale of American Horror Story was scheduled to be two hours long (episodes 12 and 13) but will now be only 90 minutes. Apparently they had a very aggressive production schedule and just ran out of enough time to be able to shoot and then assemble the 13th episode. Co-creator Ryan Murphy was looking at an option to simply drop the 13th episode entirely but came up with a way to give the finale a satisfying ending. American Horror Story has already been renewed for a second season but FX may order more than just 13 episodes.
Cagney & Lacey
In honor of the 30th anniversary of the CBS cop drama, the British Film Institute is hosting a salute on November 29th. Series creator Barney Rosenzweig, co-star Tyne Daly, and co-Sharon Gless (also Rosenzweig’s wife) will be on hand to take part. At the tribute, Rosenzweig will no doubt be asked about the rumors of a new Cagney & Lacey series or movie being in the works. On his blog, Rosenzweig says that there’s no truth to this at all (unfortunately) though he has had discussions over the years about doing one. He believes that the copyright holder, MGM, simply has other priorities right now and hopes that the full series will eventually be released on DVD.
ON THIS DAY
2010: ABC’s ill-conceived Skating with the Stars reality series debuted. It was cancelled after one brief season.
2005: Ted Koppel stepped down from hosting ABC’s Nightline after 25 years. He also left ABC News after 42 years. He can now be seen as a special correspondent on NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams.
1999: The last episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys aired in syndication. The series ran for 111 episodes and six seasons.
1992: One of ABC’s new Columbo movies aired. “A Bird In The Hand” stars Peter Falk, as well as Tyne Daly and Greg Evigan. It registered a 12.2 rating but was in third place in its timeslot.
1982: A reunion movie with the cast of The Waltons aired on NBC called A Day For Thanks on Walton’s Mountain. It’s the fifth of eight reunion movies that were made.
1968: The first interracial kiss on network television aired on Star Trek, as Captain Kirk (William Shatner) was forced to kiss Lieutenant Uhura (Nichelle Nichols). The network expected a barrage of complaints but supposedly only received one letter. It was from a Southern man who wasn’t in favor of mixing races but didn’t believe a red-blooded American man like Kirk would ever resist kissing a beautiful woman like Uhura.
What do you think? Are you curious about a new Henson series on NBC? Would you be interested in a new version of Cagney & Lacey or a continuation of some kind?