3 items from 2011
Phil Silvers was a comedy icon in his day, and along with starring in his TV series The Phil Silvers Show (as Master Sgt. Ernie Bilko) and The New Phil Silvers Show, he had notable success on the stage in two Tony Award winning productions A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Top Banana. Even though Top Banana didn’t have Steven Sondheim as a writer like A Funny Thing, it easily wins out as the production most representative of Silvers’ own comedic stylings. Top Banana is an onslaught of one-liners broken up with the occasional musical numbers. For modern audiences, Top Banana’s comedy might be a bit stale but the energy it carries over from its theatrical roots helps to carry it along so quickly that its faults are easy to overlook. Though a few clever camera choices mask the simplistic sets by which the story takes place, »
- Lex Walker
Having been a character actor for many years you have, since Sideways, become a leading man. Is that a surprise?
Well, I never expected it to happen. It sort of came along, it was a nice thing. I had taken the lead in plays from time to time but I was never expecting to do it in movies…
Is it tougher to carry a film than to play a supporting role?
In a funny way as the lead you can relax a little more. The hardest thing I think is to come in and do one scene. I have enormous sympathy for those people, because I have done it myself a hundred times. You come on to a set and have to do two lines. Or »
- Tim Adams
The elevation of TV writers and producers to auteur status is a fairly recent phenomenon, but savvy sorts have long known the name of Nat Hiken. A writer for Fred Allen and Milton Berle during their radio days, Hiken moved to TV as a writer on Four Star Revue and The Martha Raye Show before co-creating the Sgt. Bilko character with Phil Silvers. Then Hiken created his masterpiece: the cop sitcom Car 54, Where Are You? Set in the Bronx, Car 54 starred Joe E. Ross as a squat, dim-witted patrolman and Fred Gwynne as his lanky, book-smart partner. The »
3 items from 2011
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