Saturday, December 15, 2012

December 15th - Closed Set with Julie and Keith Michell

The final episode of The Julie Andrews Hour taped in 1972 was to be a show to end all shows. Keith Michell was the only person on the show with Julie Andrews, except for the opening “Two on the Aisle,” where the dancers appeared as ushers.

Keith Michell, best know for the PBS series, The Six Wives of Henry the VIII, would receive his Emmy Award for this PBS series on Julie’s show. During the previous six months, he had been too busy to pick it up.

The creative team had created a show where the pair would perform everything from Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde to re-creating an A.A. Milne children’s verse, “The King’s Breakfast,” along with some modern scenes and a few musical numbers. Julie and Keith Michell were well paired; both were multi-talented, and this show would reveal far more of Julie Andrews’ capabilities than the pubic had seen previously.

Yet, as wonderful as the show idea was, it put a huge burden on the two stars. They were going to cover the history of theater in one hour, and they had only a few days to prepare for this huge task and one day to shoot all of it. Julie was leaving for Gstaad the next day, so they had no choice. No one who worked on The Julie Andrews Hour would ever forget that twenty-four hour shoot.  

After class, I rushed off to ABC. I got there at 11:30 am but was stopped at the gate by the guard. This show as a “closed—closed set.” He told me he had to call someone to see if I could go in. That person, I found out, was “head of production.” I was relieved when the guard told me I could go through. 

They were taping “Mack the Knife” when I came into the studio. It was a street scene with Julie and Keith, during which, suddenly, they turned on these machines that made clouds of fog (probably dry ice). The fog came out in waves, rolling across the stage with such density that the floor disappeared, and one of the camera men tripped over the camera cables!



The next scene they set up was a garden scene with a silver tree. Julie came out wearing what looked like a little girl’s pink dress with knee socks and funny little girl’s hat with ribbons on the back.

The scene was about the future; a time when everything, even trees, would be made in a factory. 

This blog has been edited out toward a future book...

(c) Michelle Russell

Note: All photos used on this site are for entertainment purposes only.

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