Monday, April 11, 2011

Springtime For Ernie Kovacs And Edie Adams: Paley Center And DVD Set


Spring is here and there is a great deal going on in Kovacsland. I haven't posted anything in a while and in light of all that is happening I figured it was about time that I did (my thanks to Ben Model for posting and keeping the blog fresh with some great news).

1. If you're going to be in New York City (Manhattan) tomorrow, I strongly suggest that you buy tickets to It’s Been Real: The Life and Legacy of Ernie Kovacs at the Paley Center For Media.  This event features a stellar panel, including our own Ben Model, and starts Tuesday, April 12th, 2011, at 6:30pm. 

2.  The Paley Center festivities are a week prior to the official release of Shout Factory's "The Ernie Kovacs Collection" 6 DVD set , which is Tuesday, April 19th, 2011. If you pre-order the set, you'll get a bonus 7th DVD for free; you can do so by clicking on the link or on the banner in the upper left corner of this blog. To get the bonus disc you must order the set directly from Shout Factory and clicking one of the aforementioned links takes you directly to the set's page on their site; do not order from Barnes And Noble, Amazon, etc., if you want the bonus disc.  Ben Model was the curator for this fantastic new release, the first of Ernie's work in years and much of it not seen since it originally aired.  I've discussed it with Ben and you have my word that this is the definitive collection and one that Kovacs fans everywhere should own.  The two emails that I get most frequently ask whether it's possible to see the live color version of "Eugene" ("The Silent Show") or footage of Ernie hosting "Tonight".   They are included on this new set, "Eugene" on one of the main discs and the "Tonight" clips on the bonus disc.    You can read a full summary of what's on the discs here.   

3.  A special thanks goes to Josh Mills, Edie Adams son who runs Ediad Productions Inc., for bringing all of this wonderful new material to the fans.  Josh has started two websites, one for Edie and one for Ernie (screen captures of the sites are to the left).  The information provided on them is great and I'm thrilled to have both join with my site and Ben's to continue promoting the legacy of these two wonderful video artists. If you need to acquire the rights to any video footage Josh is the person to contact and you can do so through either of the sites he runs; I'll often get emails asking about this.   

Until next time Kovacsians, "It's Been Real!"

19 comments:

Ben Model said...

To get the Tonight shows, you must order from Shout Factory's website for the bonus disc they're on.

Ben

Al Quagliata said...

Thanks for the heads up. I've edited the post to indicate that the set must be ordered through Shout Factory to get the bonus DVD.

You can also click my name on this comment and go directly to the Shout Factory Ernie page to order the set with the bonus disc.

Steve said...

My box arrived today! How will I get anything done for the next few days? Nothing in moderation.

Al Quagliata said...

Steve,

Just got mine too! There will be NO MODERATION until I'm done watching it. Enjoy and let us know what you think.

Daddy-o Dilly said...

My Ernie Kovacs DVDs arrived by mail on April 16, including the important 7th disc.

I am SO GLAD that a member of Monty Python is now quoted as being inspired by Ernie Kovacs. Thanks, Terry Gilliam. You being the American-born Python would be the guy to offer comments.

Al Quagliata said...

Daddy,

Right on the money. Glad you got the set; I have mine too. I watched the "Buried Treasures" bonus disc yesterday and Disc 1 "The Early Years" today.

It's great!

Sean Carolan said...

Spent time on discs 4 and "Buried Treasure" late last night. A couple of observations:

I'm still confused about whether to call the color show "The Saturday Color Carnival" or "The Ernie Kovacs Show", and after calling up the opening and closing of Jerry Lewis' portion of the show on YouTube, I might be even more confused. Lewis' portion is identified as the Saturday Color Carnival at its opening and closing. Meanwhile, the Kovacs' color "silent" show identifies itself (quite mind-bendingly!) as "The Ernie Kovacs Show", and doesn't contain any reference to the "Saturday Color Carnival", right through to the final Peacock (which itself has a gag - broadcast in "incompatible color"). It seems more like the color show was a one-off color episode of "The Ernie Kovacs Show", rather than a continuation of the "Carnival". According to Google Books, a TV highlights listing in Time Magazine lists them separately, thusly:

-------
Saturday Color Carnival (Sat. 9 pm, NBC). Jerry Lewis' first solo TV show.

Ernie Kovacs Show (Sat. 10 pm. NBC). The cigar-chomping comedian in pantomime comedy sketches.
-------

Having now watched it, I feel as though Lewis delivered an audience to Kovacs on a silver platter, and from the moment it started, the opening credits were so bizarre that it kept that audience around to see what might really be something special. (It was!)

I also hadn't realized that the Eugene bit was only one of several bits on the show, and that it also included a "different" Nairobi Trio bit (with Kovacs' middle simian stacking blocks and a mallet to the hand rather than the standard whacks upside the head.) I've seen that bit before on the White Star DVD set, but hadn't realized that was a B&W print of the color show.

More commentary to come, of course...this is kinda fun!

Sean Carolan said...

Aaaand...speaking of those freaky titles, it turns out they were Mobilux figures, manipulated by their inventor, John Hoppe. Google "John Hoppe" and "Mobilux" and you'll find a Popular Mechanics article from 1960, which casually mentions that "You've seen it on the Ed Sullivan and Ernie Kovacs programs..." My guess is that Ernie was first (again.)

Steve said...

I have a quick question: As I make my way slowly through the box set, I wonder if it renders all other video collections of Ernie's work obsolete. In other words, is there anything in The Best of Ernie Kovacs or the VHS sets that isn't also in this new box set?

Alex said...

It might. There are some things that I think may have been left on the White Star DVD due to sloppiness (there's a whole NBC network promo for Mary Martin's "Peter Pan" left in there, for a start) that I still find interesting - in fact, I'd have welcomed a bit of that sloppiness here, but only because I love that sort of ephemera, not because it would have served the aims of the DVD set.

The new set is starting to trigger my tendency to catalog its contents and log the references...for instance, at the beginning of the color/Silent show, does anyone know *why* the girl is laying on the breakaway bed (and outside of the slapstick just being kinda funny, why it breaks away?)

Al Quagliata said...

Great comments folks. I really appreciate it; what makes this blog great is input from all of you.

@SEAN:

According to Diana Rico's Book "Kovacsland: A Biography Of Ernie Kovacs" the show's title is "Saturday Color Carnival: The Ernie Kovacs Show". My feeling here is that the "Carnival" portion is an umbrella title and then both Lewis and EK had their own show titles. Your Time Magazine find sheds a different light on that. We'll probably never know.

I definitely agree that Lewis delivered the audience to EK on a silver platter, and I'm a big Lewis fan. EK's stuff that night was just SO different, new and innovative.

Great info about John Hoppe and Mobilux. This link will take you to that article. I didn't know what those things were; now I do, so thanks!

@STEVE:

I certainly don't think "The Best Of Ernie Kovacs" is obsolote. For one thing, it contains "Dancing Office Furniture" and there are "Wolfgang Von Sauerbraten" and "Mikolos Molnar" bits on that set that aren't on the new one. That's just off the top of my head; there may be other differences. The DVD Best Of has extras that aren't on the Collection, such as some different TAGL stuff and an interview with Harold Van Kirk, who was EK's drama teacher in high school.

They are both worth having, though it's important to note that "The Best Of Ernie Kovacs" is out of print. And, you need to own the DVD set for the extras which I'm sure you guys know.

@ALEX:

You and I agree about the ephemera. I've heard that it was lobbied for by some, but in the end, outside of the Dutch Masters spots which are so closely identified with EK, much of that sort of thing was left off. Of course there was an Admiral Commercial, and in the open of "Carnival/Eugene" sponsor tags.

I can't tell you why the girl is laying on the breakaway bed or why it breaks away; just they way Ernie's mind works I guess!

I'll share a couple of personal connections:

DISC 3: THE NBC EVENING SHOW:

The episode from July 30, 1956, shows a performance at the end by "Stan Rubin And The Tigertown Five". My Dad would eventually become the bassist in the Stan Rubin Orchestra and also play in the "Tigertown Five", which was its Dixieland offshoot. He didn't join, however, until after this broadcast so unfortunately he's not in the segment.

DISC 5: THE ABC SPECIALS:

Kovacs Special #5, which aired October 28th, 1961, has in it's credits "Music By" and then a list of crazy names. The last one listed is "Joe 'Pizzacato' Puma". Joe Puma was a well known jazz guitarist and one of my Dad's closest friends. Such a great player; I think I've seen his name mentioned more than once in EK credits and I'm not sure if he actually played on anything for these shows or if EK just liked the name and used it. I'm trying to find out. Joe was riot in his own right and knowing him, he probably dug Ernie's work.

It's Been Real!

Al Quagliata said...

Some other points regarding "The Best Of Ernie Kovacs" vs. "The Ernie Kovacs Collection":

The Collection is more than twice the size in terms of time and is organized chronologically which makes it easier to follow. Also, that great book that came with it gives info and recollections. "Best Of" never had that, in either the VHS or DVD sets.

A good portion of "Best Of" comes from The EK ABC Specials, five of which comprise Disc 5 of "Collection" but I think there is material on "Best Of" that comes from the other four, like one of the "Whom Dunnit" bits, though there is an interesting "Whom Dunnit" bit on "Collection" I had never seen.

I'm writing off the top of my head here, so I hope I'm right!

One thing I loved, from "Kovacs On Music" were the folks dancing on the giant piano keys. I had never seen that.

BTW, since I mentioned "Stan Rubin And The Tigertown Five" in my previous comment; "Tigertown" refers to Princeton U, where Stan was a student and the band was started. I believe Princeton's mascot and sports name is "Tigers".

Ben Model said...

Kovacs in Color
The "Saturday Color Carnival" was a 90 minute show hosted by one artist. In this case, Mr. Lewis only wanted to do an hour. The NBC programming logs that I have seen in my research list Lewis' hour as "The Jerry Lewis Show" and EK's 30 mins as "The Ernie Kovacs Show".

Fun fact: Ernie's program was broadcast from the Colonial Music Hall in NYC (1887 Broadway, torn down in the 1980s) had been taken over by NBC for its "colorcasts".

"Best Of" vs. "EK Collection"
You may have noticed that specials 1, 2 and 3 are not on the new set. This, and a number of TaGL clues that were used to pad the earlier DVD set out, as well as the "Cards and Cigars" docu, are not on the new set either.

Ben Model

Al Quagliata said...

Ben,

Thanks for the quick response.

Ben, of course, is the curator of the new set and contributes regularly to this blog. I contacted him to take at look these comments.

Another fun fact: If I'm not mistaken, the Ernie Kovacs Show from Color Carnival was broadcast on Ernie's 38th birthday, January 19, 1957.

I think I also saw Joe Puma's name listed in one of those first 3 ABC specials.

Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Hey there, fellow Kovacsians....

Have a look at the review for the new set that I did for my blog:

http://tomdegan.blogspot.com/2011/04/celebrating-ernie-kovacs.html

It's been real!

Tom Degan

Al Quagliata said...

Tom,

Thanks for sharing. Great job. Just went over and read it.

Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Thank you for the kind words, Al. I wish he'd come back. He's kinda stubborn that way, you know?

All the best,

Tom Degan

Anonymous said...

DVD talk gives the set it's highest rating."DVD Talk Collectors series" A must have. Salon.com has an article on it called "What TV Owes Erine Kovacs. Good job.

Mark Martucci said...

Would it be possible to list the contents of the first 3 ABC Specials? I'm curious to see how much of them are on THE BEST OF ERNIE KOVACS. I wish they could have been included in this set, but I understand that Shout Factory did not have the rights to them. Very strange.
I should mention that I just love the first disc of the early Kovacs shows. I seem to play that one quite a bit. Those early shows are priceless and I feel like a fly on the wall when I am watching them. The fun those people were having is infectious.
As much as everyone seems to hate KOVACS ON THE CORNER, I would love to see the remaining extant episodes. I am fascinated by the strangeness of that show!

The big question remains: When are we going to get Volume #3??
Besides more of the NBC stuff, I would love to have the rest of the under-appreciated TAKE A GOOD LOOK, for example. The clues are the closest thing to the Specials IMHO.
And PLEASE, PLEASE…SOMEBODY get the rights to the first 3 missing ABC Specials and the existing Dumont show that I have read about!
Is any of this possible to wish for on DVD?