Thursday, April 23, 2009

Quitting The Nairobi Trio

Good afternoon Kovacsians. I discovered the book to the left while doing some "Nairobi Trio" research online and was able to get a copy from my local library.

I just finished reading and it's fantastic. Rather than give you a review I'll say this; its not what you might think. And the way EK and "The Nairobi Trio" work into this true story is wonderful. Yours truly picks up ANYTHING that has to do with EK and reads it, yet I found that right from the start I was enjoying the book so much that it wouldn't have mattered to me whether EK was mentioned or not. When he finally was it really hit me. Great writing and well worth your time. To learn more about the author, Jim Knipfel, visit his website. Scroll down and you'll see a link to the book on Amazon along with a plot summary.

Our fight to get EK listed as a past guest host of "The Tonight Show" continues. This link will bring you to both articles on the subject, one written by me and the other by Ben Model. There you'll find full instructions on how you can join the fight. Let's get EK on that list!! Our thanks go to both Mark Evanier and Altrok Radio for writing great pieces on this subject regarding our campaign.

I haven't done this in a while so a here's a "shout out" (EK used to call it "Yoo Hoo Time" on TTGR) to all the members of the Ernie Kovacs MySpace Fan Page, which is currently up to 874 friends. I'd like to thank all those that have asked to be added. If you'd like to be a friend visit the page by clicking on the link above and put in a request!

If you are a Facebook user there are two EK Groups on that site; one run by Ron Evry and the other by my fellow EK blogger Ben Model. You must be a member of Facebook to join the groups and participate but clicking either link will bring you to the page so you can see them. Definitely join if you can; Ben and I always use the groups to post EK updates.

Another site to which we've added EK updates is Twitter; you can always visit that link to see what we're up to. In addition, I've embedded the Twitter updates directly into the homepage of If you're a member of Twitter be sure to sign up as an EK follower; if not you can learn more about the service here.

Until next time my friends, "It's Been Real!"

EDITOR'S NOTE: After I posted this I contacted Jim Knipfel, author of "Quitting The Nairobi Trio" to tell him how much I enjoyed the book. He shared this anecdote with me:
Thank you, Al. I'm honored to have been recognized by the Kovacs cognescenti. Here's a story about the cover I think you'll appreciate.

About 2 weeks before the book was set to be released, the publisher realized that they had never obtained the rights to use the Nairobi Trio still. This was Bad News, and led to much hair pulling.

Finally, we contacted Edie Adams (who, as you know, controlled the estate) to get permission.

First, she wanted to read all the scenes in the book in which Ernie was mentioned. Happily, she was okay with those. Then came the matter of payment.

She asked how much people usually got for the rights to use an image on a book cover. "Usually anywhere between $200-$300," the publisher told her.

She thought about it for a minute, then said, "All right. I'll take $350."

God bless that woman.

(And god bless the publisher for agreeing to pay her $350.)

Many thanks again. I'm glad you liked the book.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Tell NBC To Add Ernie Kovacs To Their "Tonight Show" Host List!!

If everyone who reads this blog posts something on the Tonight Show forum at NBC's website, they may get the message that something is wrong with the pantheon of hosts on their "Tonight Show Experience" website, shown below:

Go to NBC's "Tonight Show Experience" website by clicking here, and then click on "Community" to go to the posting forum. You will need to sign up in order to post to the board, but it's pretty simple to do. You should see my post about Ernie there:

Log in and post a reply (supporting this cause). Let's see if we can get NBC to take notice...

EDITOR'S NOTE: Ben; fantastic idea! I've already posted a reply on Ben's post on the NBC board. If you need more background on Ernie's "Tonight Show" tenure, I posted a piece last week that discusses it.

You can also send a message directly to NBC about without registering to post on the message board:

You'll see a pull down menu that says "Select Show." Choose "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" and then a box will open where you can type in your message.

Let's try to get Ernie on that list!-
Al Quagliata

Friday, April 10, 2009

Ernie & "Tonight!": Another "Nairobi Trio": EK DVD Box Set On Hold

Good morning Kovacsians. As the title of this post indicates I have several EK items to share with you today.

I receive emails from time to time asking about Ernie's stint as permanent guest host of "The Tonight Show", on Monday and Tuesday nights from October 1st, 1956, through January 22nd, 1957. Ernie replaced the venerated Steve Allen who was so exhausted from the rigors of hosting five nights a week AND hosting a Sunday night variety show that so NBC could compete with Ed Sullivan on CBS, that he informed the network he would need the first two days of the week off to recuperate and prepare material for the following Sunday's show.

There's an interesting article I found on The Kansas City Blog's TV Barn which discusses the fact that in anticipation of Conan O'Brien taking over "The Tonight Show" from Jay Leno on June 1st 2009, NBC has posted a timeline of "Tonight Show" hosts which skips right from Steve Allen to Jack Paar without bothering to mention Ernie. I've posted comments on the piece so that you can learn more about Ernie's involvement as a "Tonight Show Host." In my humble opinion NBC needs to acknowledge his hosting of the program.

The number one jazz group in New Zealand is named "The Nairobi Trio" but they didn't get their name from EK's iconic sketch. The writer of this piece mentions EK and then goes on to discuss how the band got the name. It's interesting to think there are two well known "Nairobi Trios", albeit completely unrelated. I wonder who swings more, the band or the apes?

Back in November, 2008, Ben Model (who contributes here regularly) announced that he had been hired to put together a box set of 15 hours of EK material not seen in years and never before available to the general public. This set was slated for release sometime late in 2009. On April 6th, 2009, Ben announced on his own EK website that the project has been put on hold. This is sad news as so many EK fans (myself included) were looking forward to this release. We never say never in Kovacsland, however, and Ben assures me that there is a contingent that really wants to get the EK material out. Keep your fingers crossed; when there is more news you will hear about it here.

We have some great EK items available directly from The Paley Center For Media. The Vision Of Ernie Kovacs T-Shirt and Book come from a retrospective the Center (formerly known as "The Museum of Broadcasting" and then "The Museum Of TV And Radio")did on Ernie back in the 1980s. They're one-of-a-kind and you can only get them here.

Thanks for stopping by folks. Until next time, "Its Been Real!"

EDITOR'S NOTE, Wednesday, April 15th, 2009: According to the book "Inventing Late Night: Steve Allen And The Original Tonight Show" by Ben Alba, the first time Ernie hosted "Tonight" was for two weeks in August 1955 and it was during this hosting stint that he introduced "The Nairobi Trio." According to Diana Rico's book "Kovacsland: A Biography Of Ernie Kovacs", "The Nairobi Trio" was introduced on "The Ernie Kovacs Show" on April 21st, 1954. "Kovacsland" states that it was during Ernie's hosting stint of October 1st, 1956, through January 22nd, 1957 that the character Eugene was introduced in a sketch called "Library Bit." This bit would be repeated throughout the stint and Eugene would eventually get his own 1/2 hour special, "The Silent Show", in both 1956 and 1961.

I wanted to present both sides of the story as I discovered this after I commented on the TV Barn's "Tonight" post; I generally go with Diana's book for anything related to Ernie Kovacs.