Saturday, November 24, 2012

Nov 24th Part 1 - On the Set with Julie, The Smothers Brothers and Jack Cassidy

     Arriving at ABC this Friday was a completely new experience, as it always is. Today they had a circus ring set up onstage and Julie, who was wearing a bright red jacket, was standing in the middle of the ring. It seemed rather funny because today, not having school, I had dressed up a bit, and was wearing my new red jacket, which was exactly the same color as Julie’s. The only difference was hers had tails. She was playing the circus ring master and singing “If We Could Talk to the Animals” with great verve. She seemed quite different from the 1920s girl I saw last week.

The dancers came out dressed in animal costumes and began running around the ring. This week’s guests were also dressed as animals; The Smothers Brothers were wearing lion costumes, Jack Cassidy was a panther and Rich Little, a chicken. When Julie introduced Alice Ghostley, who was dressed as a rabbit, she called her “Alice Margaret Ghostley” just as she had a week ago.

In opening number, Julie had a big bull whip and, in between takes, she came to the front of the stage waving it around and hitting the floor with it, “cracking the whip” so to speak. “Alright! Let’s get on with it!” she said as she flicked it at the stagehands, who pretended they were shocked. It was rather funny to see how much she enjoyed cracking that whip.

The Smothers Brothers kept ad libbing their lines and they were very funny, so the director left the lines as they said them and the scene was finished quickly.

The next thing they worked on was the opening section with the acrobats. They were doing leaps and jumps without a net and it made me so nervous, I couldn’t look at them or applaud. The teeter totter they jumped on creaked! I’m sure it was taped without sound and later they will add music. (In the final version, they had Julie jumping and, then, tossed from one side of the stage to the other, but I made no notes on this and honestly have no memory of how it was done. I imagine on part of it she had a double, but not for everything.)

After the “Talk to the Animals” scene, they called "lunch," so I went home to get some school books to study during the breaks between scenes. That morning, I got into the studio easily, but I was surprised to find that Vivian was not there yet.

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When I got back, Julie and Alice were dressed in “shimmy” dresses (1920s dresses with rows of fringe from top to bottom that move when the dancer shakes).  They performed “If I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate.” The set looked gorgeous with lights running two ways around a small stage set. The music was very fast and Julie and Alice were singing and shaking as hard and as fast as they could. In the middle of one take Julie stopped and said,
“Shit! That’s too fast!”
We all laughed. They did it again.
“It has to be slower,” she said.
“It was slower, Julie,” said the director.
“Oh.”
They did it again and at the final pose, Julie almost fell over.
“That was good,” said Julie.
“Too slow,” said the director.
After that, Julie made her voice go high and fast, and they finally got what the director wanted. (The final take appears to be the lower, slower version.)

After they finished that scene, Alice Ghostley wheeled a baby buggy onstage, smiled, posed, and then wheeled it off. Directly after that, Rich Little came out in a sleeper suit, made up like a woman. He was going to play Carol Channing as a baby. They strapped him to a board, made to look like the inside of a baby buggy with pink blankets and he sang, “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby” as Carol.
Speaking to Nick Vanoff, the producer, Rich said,
“Have you ever felt just plain ridiculous?”
“What’s that, Rich?” asked Nick, pretending he didn’t hear him.
“Have you ever felt ridiculous?”
“Yah, I feel ridiculous just looking at you.”
Rich got a lot of laughs for that number.

When they finished that scene, everyone went to change. Alice Ghostly came out into the audience wearing her terry robe and sat down. I hoped she would sit by me, but she didn’t.

The Swedish girl, “Katrina,” who lives with Julie’s secretary, Joan, was sitting in the front row with “Patty” today. They were acting very silly, making a big commotion the whole day, right into the evening, spraying Binaca at each other, pushing one another, yelling, and laughing. It was embarrassing.

Every once in a while, Nick Vanoff, who was seated in his director’s chair, intently watching the scenes, would turn around and look at them. Then, he’d look away. Once in a while, he yell to the studio in general,
“Quiet! Quiet everyone on the set!”

I always assumed that anyone who was in the audience must be associated with someone important on the show. After all, it was a closed set. I figured although their behavior was wrong, somehow they had immunity or he would have put them out.  Later I wrote in my diary, “I know the director and producer have to work to tighten the show up and make it move more quickly. The other girls don’t understand this. They goof off in the audience an awful lot.

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