SUN, MON, February 10, 11, 2013

CALL YOUR DOCTOR -- Academy Award winning director Steven Soderburg's "Side Effects," a thriller which deals with a drug that causes sleepwalkers to kill is getting rave reviews.   Not to be confused with Sylvester Stallone's "Bullet to the Head" in which Sly seeks revenge against an evil pharmacist who slips a black market diuretic into his usual Cialis dosage.  


GAS LEAK -- California Governor Jerry Brown says that Texas Governor Rick Perry's media campaign to lure California businesses  to Texas "Are not a burp.  In fact, they're barely a fart."  Brown is so conservation conscious, he recycled that comment.  That's how he described Perry's performances in the GOP presidential debates.   


OINK OINK -- L. A. welcomed over 2000 pork lovers to its first ever Bacon Festival featuring inventive menu items like the Bacon Pretzel Bun made with bacon fat and sprinkled with bacon bits, Bacon Marmalade, and the Mac 'n' Cheese Bacon Sandwich.  Everything had a bacon theme --  even the Disney-sponsored emergency "Miss Piggy Cardio Tent."   


GERIATRIC AIR -- Edith Lauderbach, co-founder of the first airline stewardess union in 1945 has died at 91.  And  was the first to work for the same airline for 40 years.  In her later years, she faced setbacks, too, failing to convince United to serve "Early Bird" meals, and offer Bingo in place of the in-flight movie. 

UNRAMPED -- One of New York's most eagerly-awaited annual events, "Fashion Week," came close to being canceled last week thanks to a blizzard and the city's conservationist mayor Michael Bloomberg.  Along with sugary drinks, he  threatened to outlaw models who weigh more than 16 ounces.

(Contents Copyright (c) 2013 by Robert L. Mills  All Rights Reserved)

Just in time for Cupid's Day next Thursday!  Gloria, our Singing Dog, performs "My Funny Valentine" backed by the Doberman Pupernackle Choir.  The perfect gift for your loved one...

(From the March Issue of Living-in-the-West Magazine)

“Save That One For Carson”

By Robert L. Mills

Throughout his years on radio and TV, comedy sketches featuring Bob Hope and his guests were essential elements of his shows.  While the 8-to-12 minute playlets were broad, farcical and in the opinion of some critics overly slapstick, he had definite ideas about how he wanted them played. 

If Hope wasn’t satisfied with a particular performance, you’d know about it — fast. Charlotte Rae, star of the seventies sitcom The Facts of Life, was in a parody of Dallas, cast as Miss Ellie opposite Hope’s J.R.   Since Hope watched little television (save for football and golf ), he had no idea who the animated Broadway-trained actress was.

Delayed at the airport, he had missed the read through, so the dress rehearsal was his first opportunity to appraise his fellow performers. During a break, he came rushing back to his dressing room. “Who is that playing Miss Ellie?” he asked the producer.
“That’s Charlotte Rae. She’s a well-known sitcom star.”  Hope glared.  “Well, tell her to knock off the mugging. She looks like Mickey Rooney.”  High praise, indeed, as the Mick was one of Hollywood’s legendary scene thieves.

Most of the guests followed Hope’s directions to the letter, but once in a while he’d run into a problem case — one like former model Susan Anton.  Susan was cast on one of our football specials as a scientist hired by the NFL to test the safety of the equipment -- on Hope who would act as a guinea pig put through a series of punishing tests.

Susan was going with British actor Dudley Moore at the time, and he was never far away during rehearsal.  During the read-through, Hope had warned Susan not to laugh at her own lines while putting him through the wringer.

But despite his advice, Susan insisted on injecting a series of giggles before, during and after every one of her lines. Bad enough during rehearsal, but later in front of an audience, her giggling if anything, increased.  Repeatedly, Hope stopped the taping, called her off to the side and whispered instructions. Then she’d go over to Dudley who’d give her more tips — apparently to keep up the good work.

Finally, Hope surrendered and finished the sketch, hoping that Susan’s delivery could be fixed in post. But no amount of editing could save the sketch which had to be cut from the special – along with a stretching machine that would have been the envy of the C.I.A.. 

Sometimes, a less-than-stellar performance by the usual standards would provide unexpected comedic dividends.  Charlene Tilton, who played Lucy on the real Dallas, was a diminutive actress who had been discovered by a casting agent selling T-shirts in a Malibu surf shop. Her role on the nighttime soaper gave her scant opportunity to sharpen her comedic chops, but she made up for it while guesting on one of our specials, literally rewriting the sketch she appeared in by adding her own, obviously genuine glee in delivering her lines.

We cast Charlene in 1981 Valentine special opposite Hope as a high school football hero.  Like Susan Anton, she consistently telegraphed the laughs, but did so in such a charming and disarming way, Hope realized she brought an additional element of entertainment to the sketch (which, if I recall correctly, it sorely needed).

Moreover, when Charlene flubbed a line, she’d break up and go into hysterics, sometimes literally falling on the floor.  During any taping, whenever Hope sensed he was getting interesting outtakes, he’d tell the director to keep the tape rolling. This was one of those times — in spades.

Over the years, he ended up with some priceless flubs and bloopers which were used in NBC’s promos for the show and on Hope’s obligatory Tonight Show appearance.  “Save that one for Carson,” he’d say.  We got some irreplaceable classics from Miss Tilton.

[Adapted from THE LAUGH MAKERS: A Behind-the-Scenes Tribute to Bob Hope's Incredible Gag Writers by Robert L. Mills with a Foreword by Gary Owens.  Published by Bear Manor Media. Copyright (c) 2009.  To order your copy (new or used), go to:

Watch a video of the Valentine sketch at:  http://youtu.be/azelaI2AGZc
Over 550 Hope clips are viewable at:  www.youtube.com/thelaughmakers
Contact the author at:  TheLaughMakers@GMail.com

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WakiLeaks: History Declassified 2000 (Vol. One) is now available on Kindle for $2.99

Compiled from Bob's newsletter "Funnyside Up" published in 2000. This is a yuck and chuckle-filled stroll down memory lane to a time before the Bush administration had inflicted its damage -- a time before the search for WMDs and Osama bin Laden. See what we were laughing at back then, who was in the news and who had yet to enter rehab -- which NFL stars had yet to do time in the Gray Bar Hotel.