Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Art Director Brian Bartholomew

One of the things which set The Julie Andrews Hour apart was its beautiful, elegant appearance. In part, this appearance was due to the art work of Brian Bartholomew.

The very elegant "Dancing in the Dark"
set with Julie and Keith Michell
Born in England, Brian Bartholomew became interested in art, both drawing and painting, early in life. He says he was “pretty good at” at both.  Recently, via e-mail, I asked him how he became involved in scenic design.

“…I was introduced early in my teens, by my older two sisters, to the English theatre, mostly the ballet, which at that time, at the end of the Second World War, was becoming very important. I very much wished to design scenery.”

As soon as he was out of school, Mr. Bartholomew went to work, not in theatre as he had been inspired to do, but in television. From 1968-1970, he worked as Production Designer for the television series This Is Tom Jones, a musical variety show starring singer Tom Jones. This show, Brian Bartholomew tells me was a "co-operative series with ABC-TV" which "took the English production crew to Hollywood in 1969 and 1970" for the taping of "a small number of shows." 

Returning to England after This Is Tom Jones, Brian Bartholomew designed a number of variety shows including: television series: The Des O'Connor Show and KopyKats, and a number of Burt Bacharach specials. Both the Burt Bacharach specials and KopyKats were produced and directed by Americans--Gary Smith and Dwight Hemion--who were under contract to Sir Lew Grade. They would continue to work at his company ATV (Associated TeleVision Incorporated Limited) for quite a few years before returning to the United States.

Once Lew Grade confirmed his agreement with ABC to produce The Julie Andrews Hour, he hired Brian Bartholomew as Art Director for the show and sent him over to the United States. Mr. Bartholomew believes he arrived in Hollywood sometime around July or August of 1972.

When asked if there were any guidelines as to the design of the show when he began, he states:

“Guidelines were very much in evidence for the first show because much of this was based on Julie Andrews’ previous work. Later shows permitted a freer hand, but often the scene or scenes required designing to some sort of location or scripted concept.”

The “crystal tree” was an integral part of the show and used quite a few times for Julie’s solos. It has since become somewhat legendary. When I asked Mr. Bartholomew about it, he said that he did not design the tree but had given the makers general size limits for it. Nick Vanoff was the one who put him in touch with the sculptor and the store which supplied the crystals. As far as he knows (agreeing with information given by director Bill Davis), after the series ended the tree was returned to the sculptor and the crystals, which were said to be extremely valuable, were return to the store and sold.

Julie singing "If" on a set with
European atmosphere
Mr. Bartholomew comments that working on The Julie Andrews Hour “provided a considerable contrast with my working practices coming from English television.”  He describes the hours worked as “excessively long” and “very onerous” (burdensome and oppressive). However, when thinking of the show now, he recalls the advantages. He says he earned an Emmy award for his work and gained “very, good friends.”

Because of the intense work involved in creating The Julie Andrews Hour, often there wasn’t much time for anyone to supervise the Art Directors’ work. As listed on the credits, Mr. Bartholomew worked with two other Art Directors:  Keaton S. Walker and James Tompkins. Sandy Vanoff tells me that Brian was the Senior Art Director and the other two men worked under him.  **Note: Brian Bartholomew and Keaton Walker won the Emmy Award for Art Direction on The Julie Andrews Hour. Mr. Tompkins name was not listed on the nomination.

Lovely set of the Christmas Show with Julie in costume
center (Taken from rough DVD copy)
The producer, director and others seem to have assumed that with the Art Directors’ great talent, everyone was on the same page and everyone would be pleased with the work. When I asked Mr. Bartholomew whether, after completing a set design, the producer needed to approve it, or whether he ordered changes, he replied:

Sometimes. Often there was little time for any great scrutiny. But Nick Vanoff was very perceptive, had great taste… Also, the director Bill Davis was consulted, especially regarding the camera shots and positions. Sometimes some designs were in the workshop before the producer had time to examine the drawings.

As Art Director, Brian Bartholomew’s job required him to be involved throughout the process.

I was very much involved with the onstage setting-up, and even, to an extent, the lighting of a scene. I was pretty involved during the shooting of the action too.

When the first season of The Julie Andrews Hour concluded in the spring of 1973, Brian Bartholomew went on to work as Art Director on the special Barbra Streisand and Other Musical Instruments. During the next years, he worked as Art Director on many television shows, including Cher…Special and both The 28th and 31st Primetime Emmy Awards. In addition, he was Art Director for the television film: Star Wars Holiday Special, Lost Face and Mitzi… Roarin In the 20s with Mitzi Gaynor and Tony Charmoli.

Mr. Bartholomew is the winner of 3 primetime Emmy Awards for the following shows: The Julie Andrews Hour, Barbara Streisand and Other Musical Instruments and The 28th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. He was nominated for four additional Emmy’s including: The Magic of David Copperfield VIII: Walking Through the Great Wall of China, Cher…Special and This Is Tom Jones.

Keaton Walker worked on many awards shows, such as The Screen Actors Awards, the Academy Awards and Emmy Awards. He also worked on the television series Big Brother and Ghost Busters, among many others.

Jim Tomkins began his career as a set designer and art director for a theater in Youngstown, Ohio. He moved to California in 1965 in order to take part in the work going on to renovate and revive the Pasadena Playhouse. In 1969, he began to look for work in Hollywood.

Along with The Julie Andrews Hour, Tompkins also worked as art director on The Sonny and Cher Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and The Dating Game. After Ronald Reagan was elected President, Jim Tompkins moved to Washington, DC where he worked in print design and architecture for the Reagan Administration. Later he worked for Debbie Reynolds, designing her fabulous sets in Las Vegas. Mr. Tomkins passed away in 2002.

Thank you for helping me pay tribute to the Art Direction on The Julie Andrews Hour.

Tomorrow “Two on the Aisle” – Julie’s Show with Keith Mitchell

 For a list of all the blogs on The Julie Andrews Hour, please visit:

If you think The Julie Andrews Hour should be released for the public on DVD, along with music releases of Julie and her guests, please e-mail a polite request:
If you prefer, you may look up ITV in London or Los Angeles, and send a letter there. 

Please note: All photos used here are for entertainment purposes only!

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