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June 28, 2019:

DINAH AND HER NEW BEST FRIENDS – FORTY-FOUR YEARS LATER

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, in one of those things that occasionally happens, she of the Evil Eye has asked to come this morning rather than tomorrow morning and therefore I must write these here notes in a hurry so I can get to bed at a reasonable hour.  Yes, that is what I must do – there can be no dilly-dallying or shilly-shallying, I must be on point and en pointe.

Yesterday was a fun little day.  I got just about eight hours of sleep, arising at eleven, paying a few bills, and then heading over to Jerry’s Deli for a Cobb Salad.  The gal in the booth adjacent to mine never stopped talking the entire time I ate, almost an hour.  Her voice was so irritating and she just jumped from topic to topic.  It took me about ten minutes to realize it was Roseanne Barr.  She doesn’t even resemble herself anymore with all the facial surgery.  I don’t think she’s a happy person.

After lunch, I picked up a couple of packages, then went to the Bank of Bur to pick up the digital copy of a three-quarter-inch tape I’d had transferred.  I tried to have it transferred once before at a little jernt near my old house, but they couldn’t get it to transfer and told me the tape was a goner – they, in fact, said that about ALL my three-quarter-inch tapes I brought them.  Well, this place I went to now is, you know, professional, so no problems at all.  They put the pro-rez transfer on a thumb drive I brought and I dropped off four other tapes, so I’m interested to see how those will come out.

I came right home and watched the fourteen-minute reel and what a trip that was.  I’m pretty sure I have the only surviving footage from the CBS series I did – Dinah (Shore) and Her New Best Friends.  My manager at the time, Pat McQueeney, had a three-quarter-inch machine and taped my stuff and then put together this fourteen minutes for me to use. I haven’t seen any of this footage since the show aired in 1976.  At the time, we, the cast, all felt that no one knew what kind of show it was supposed to be and everyone was fairly depressed about it, as the producers kept changing writers and directors.  It was my dream come true to be in a CBS variety show and tape at Television City, where I’d gone so many times as a kid to see shows taped.  In fact, I wasn’t part of it when they cast it and went into rehearsals.  What happened was that they quickly realized they didn’t have any guy who could do sketch comedy and also sing and move.  Diana Canova was in it and she recommended me.  They called and insisted I get to the studio as fast as possible, which I did.  Nudie Musical had come out and garnered great reviews, but Paramount was in the process of killing it dead.  So, I was ready to work and this came along at a good time.  I walked into the rehearsal room at Television City.  I met the show’s producer, Carolyn Raskin, who’d been a producer on Laugh-In.  She circled around me, looking at me, stopped, and said, “Okay, you’re hired.” That was literally it – I didn’t read, I didn’t sing, nothing.  I suspect she at least knew who I was, though.  I began rehearsals that minute, thrust into the midst of everything.  I was handed some bumpers to do, a couple of quick sketches, and learned the opening number.  And four days later, we were taping in front of an audience in the studio where I’d seen Red Skelton tape his show.  Dinah was great and the audience enjoyed themselves, but we all wanted it to be funnier and to play to our strengths.  I remember as if it was yesterday Leland Palmer sitting next to me head on my shoulder and crying.  But we were a good company – Diana, Leland, comics Mike Neun, Mike Preminger, and wacky Gary Mule Deer.

As the show went on, they let us make suggestions.  I kept suggesting they let me sing a song my own. Instead, they let me sing I Write the Songs.  I looked at them and said, “I DO write the songs,” but we never did any of my stuff. We survived the eight shows, we all got nice fan mail (we were the summer replacement for The Carol Burnett Show, Saturdays at ten), and then it was done.  Watching this fourteen minutes, I was surprised to find some of it pretty funny. The honeymoon sketch with Cindy Williams was written by me (and she, as always, contributed a lot), and is really the best of the lot.  I remember the crew being astonished that we refused to use cue cards for it.  Some of the short blackout bits were fun – I don’t remember them being fun at all.  And there was a sketch with Leland that I had no memory of that actually made me laugh out loud.  And the tap number that Diana, Cindy, and I did was more fun than I remembered. Since none of us had ever tapped before they made the conceit that we were kids from some tap class doing a recital and if you watch it knowing that, it’s fun.  I have another tape (from which this one was assembled), and I’m hoping that has I Write the Songs because that would be fun to see again. I know there’s more stuff on that tape and probably in slightly better quality.  That’s being transferred now, along with three other tapes of interest to me. So, for those who don’t frequent the discussion board, here it is.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oSEu3tCA

Wasn’t that a variety show.  Even though I don’t kid myself that it was good, time has been kind to it in a way that really surprised me.  I think that’s because there have been no variety shows since Donny and Marie went off the air.  I miss them. I did go out to the garage, but didn’t do much.  Then I checked out two of the four new Twilight Time releases – three Betty Grable movies and an English film called Hussy.  The two I checked out had lackluster transfers in terms of the source material.  Fox doesn’t have any of their Technicolor negatives, so it’s always a crapshoot how those films will look – some have looked great, some not.

I didn’t have any evening snacks, which was a good thing. I had a couple of intriguing telephonic calls, and listened to music until it was time to write these here notes.

Today, I’ll be up early and I’ll probably go have a light breakfast, then hopefully pick up some packages, come home, dive into the garage again and box up some stuff so I can shelve it, and I’ll shelve the other CD boxes, too.  Then I can relax.

Tomorrow is suddenly busy – a lunch and a working dinner, but that will be fun.  Sunday I judge the finals of the singing contest, and that’s going to run over three hours, so food will follow instantly.  Next week is very busy – I still have a handful of songs to choose, which I will for sure.  In other news, I finished casting the September show, and boy is it a strong group.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, be up early, have a light breakfast, hopefully pick up packages, do a bit of garage work, and then then relax.  Today’s topic of discussion: It’s Friday – what is currently in your CD player and your DVD/Blu and Ray player?  I’ll start – CD, I’ve been listening to a lot of Film Score Monthly releases.  Blu-ray, the new Twilight Time titles.  Your turn. Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, amazed to have seen Dinah and Her New Best Friends footage for the first time in forty-four years.

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