Friday, April 13, 2012
Paley Center and Warner Bros. TV Partner to Go "Out of the Box"
Back in the early 1950s, the major Hollywood studios feared the advent of TV -- so much that they refused to produce programming for the emerging medium. Movies of the era even refused to show TV sets on camera, just in case audiences got any crazy ideas. But Jack Warner eventually saw TV as a place to promote his films, and partnered with dead-last ABC in 1955 to launch "Warner Bros. Presents," a wheel program that included "Cheyenne" -- a western that became the first original series produced by a Hollywood studio.
From there, Warner Bros. TV produced a fair amount of TV. But it wasn't until its acquisition of indie TV powerhouse Lorimar (home to "Dallas," "Full House" and so much more) that the studio as we know it today, the top supplier of primetime programming, took root. Other acquisitions included Turner's Castle Rock (the home of "Seinfeld") and Hanna-Barbera (putting Scooby-Doo and The Flintstones under the same roof as Bugs Bunny).
By the 1990s, Warner Bros. was producing mega-hits like "ER" and "Friends." And today, it's the studio behind comedy smashes "Two and a Half Men" and "The Big Bang Theory," syndicated shows like "Ellen" and fan favorite dramas like "Fringe." The studio is also known for its extensive archives -- which is why it was ready to partner with the Paley Center for a new exhibit, Television Out of the Box. The showcase, which just opened last night via a big event at the museum's Beverly Hills location, includes props, sets, wardrobe, collectibles and even kiddie rides. It's worth the visit -- I'll be back to give it more of a look through. Being the TV history geek I am, I'm especially interested in the old memos, telegrams, newspaper clippings and timelines detailing the history of Warner Bros.' involvement in TV.
Some pics of the exhibit:
Warner Bros. lunch box collection. I think I once owned the Dukes of Hazzard one.
Lynda Carter's "Wonder Woman" outfit. (Sorry, so sign of the ill-fated 2011 remake.)
Sing-a-long to TV themes old and new-ish.
The actual Monk's Cafe diner booth from "Seinfeld."
"Dallas" stars Larry Hagman, Linda Gray and Patrick Duffy (hidden by reporter) are interviewed.
Hanna-Barbera animation cel detailing "The Flintstones" character specs.
"Babylon 5" costumes.
The audience ticket from the original 1994 taping of the "Friends" pilot (then called "Friends Like Us"). "A new comedy about love, friends and Mr. Potato Head." <
The stars of "ER" wore these hospital name tags, complete with character names, as part of their wardrobe.
Warner Bros. first expresses interest in producing for TV via a 1930 Hollywood trade article. (By the way, I could only find a handful of Google references to "Inside Views of Stage and Screen." It's a lost and almost completely forgotten Hollywood trade, which perhaps pre-dates the arrival of Daily Variety and the Hollywood Reporter.)
The Paley Center in Los Angeles is located at 465 North Beverly Drive (S. Santa Monica Blvd.), Beverly Hills, CA 90210. It's open Wednesdays to Sundays 12:00 to 5:00 pm; closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Tix are $10 Adults, $8 Seniors/Students and $5 Children (under 13). It's a semi-permanent collection, continuing through 2015.