Cover Story: Inside the Game Show business:
TV Times talks to producer Reg Grundy, the radio game show host of the 1950s that went on to head a TV production empire worth around $6 million (in 1978 dollars) turnover a year. Famous for taking US game show formats and franchising them for local audiences, Grundy had launched over 50 game show titles since he launched Wheel Of Fortune in 1959. Despite his longevity in the game show business, his latest venture, the top-rating Blankety Blanks almost never got to air after being offered and refused by the other networks but eventually picked up by the 0-10 Network where it became a huge ratings hit (Cover photo: Noelene Brown and Ugly Dave Gray, two of the resident panellists on Blankety Blanks)
The Year’s New Shows:
TV Times’ preview of new shows for 1978 was already covered in our blog post on New Year’s Day. New shows to launch during the year included drama series Catspaw, Twenty Good Years and Truckies – all on ABC. ABC also promises a new series of Marcia Hines Music and an Australian version of the British quiz Mastermind.
The Seven Network was preparing an Australian version of the British comedy Father Dear Father, and Nine had announced a series of Australian-made telemovies. Heading the 0-10 Network’s new season line-up was the action drama Chopper Squad.
Sammy Davis for Don Lane show:
Entertainer Sammy Davis Jnr is reportedly to be planning a trip to Australia to appear on Nine’s The Don Lane Show. Don Lane is a fan of Davis and had arranged the visit while staying with him at his Nevada property. Meanwhile, The Don Lane Show is about to launch its 1978 season and producer Peter Faiman is promising changes to the show including a $1 million revamp of the show’s studio and as many as 15 international celebrity appearances via satellite over the first few months of the year.
Wind of a new career:
Rock star Jon English is announced as heading the lineup for the upcoming Seven Network/Pegasus Productions mini-series Against The Wind, about to commence production. English is signed up to play convict Jonathon Garrett in the historical drama that has a $1 million budget for 13 episodes. English’s only prior acting experience was as a rock star involved in a murder case in the police drama Homicide.
TV Times announced that “increased production and paper costs have regretably caused us to raise the cover price of TV Times from 30 to 40 cents. It is our first price rise in two-and-a-half years”.
Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor:
“Blankety Blanks‘ panel spends most of its time sniggering at (Graham Kennedy‘s) lavatory wall innuendos. Most of us ceased to be impressed by this daring wit at the age of 10.” T.Martin, VIC.
“At least five times in the last month, TV Times has printed one thing and a TV station has shown another. If the stations tell TV Times their programs for the week, then they should stick to it and not change it whenever they feel like it.” M.Turnbull, VIC.
“I would like to thank ABC for that brilliant English comedy Are You Being Served? and the repeat of the Rush series. In these days of endless movie repeats, excessive sports broadcasts and mediocre American cop dramas, programs of historical value and entertainment quality such as Rush, Are You Being Served?, Warship, South Riding and The Pallisers have become all too few and far between.” S.Cass, NSW
What’s On (February 4-10):
The Don Lane Show (GTV9) returns for its fourth year, up against ATV0‘s new Monday-to-Thursday night variety show Peter Couchman Tonight.
On Wednesday night ABC launches a new music series The Real Thing hosted by radio identity Ron E Sparx. The first show includes appearances by Little River Band, Radio Birdman, Renee Geyer and Dragon. On the weekend, Countdown is still continuing its review of the top 100 albums of 1977.
After-school TV programming is mostly dominated by imported product with Sesame Street, The Partridge Family, The Flintstones, Get Smart, Nanny And The Professor, Family Affair and My Friend Flicka shown across the networks. The only local content to be found between 4.00pm and 6.00pm is Play School (ABC) and GTV9’s Cartoon Corner which only served to introduce US cartoon series Valley Of The Dinosaurs and Josie And The Pussycats.
Sunday night movies for the week are Trader Horn (HSV7), Charlie’s Angels feature in Angels In Paradise (GTV9) and ATV0 screens The Life And Times Of Judge Roy Bean. All are TV premieres. Following the movie on ATV0 is the current affairs/interview program Firing Line with Maxwell Grant, Alan Ramsey, Mickie de Stoop and Jeremy Cornford.
Source: TV Times, 4 February 1978 (Melbourne edition) ABC/ACP