Did You Know?
Bill Morris was the production Designer for the late night talk and variety show format. Hub Braden assisted Bill in the set design, and during the show's duration. Having a NBC-Burbank relationship, with "The Johnny Carson Tonight Show", Braden spent an afternoon measuring and plotting the Tonight Show's host desk and interview guests seating plan. Joey Bishop insisted that his desk and guest plan be identical, with one major exception. Bishop didn't like being touched on his right side! The right desk side had to have an extended lower ledge, like a wing, a shelf, which would prevent a guest sitting to Bishop's right from reaching across the divide, patting or touching his hand or arm! Instead of a side bench (The Tonight Show) for guests to be reseated, moving from the main guest chair, individual chrome upholstered chairs, in-line, were positioned on the carpeted platform. The interview and band rear walls were frosted 3/4" thick x 4'-0" x 10'x0" metal framed panels which could be back-lighted. An awning, eye-brow hood hung over the camera right interview and the camera left band areas. This scenic piece, built by Bobby Hughes' ABC Special Effects Department, was a Bill Morris creation. Discovering that the plastic sheet material "Lexan" when heated, would melt forming a bubble shape! The Awning eyebrow, made from bending 1/2" square metal tubing, creating a floral art nouveau shaped glass ceiling, curved downward at the front of the three foot wide hanging ceiling piece. Spray painted, the floral lined bubbles looked like a stained glass overhanging shield capping the frosted glass wall panels. The production area, in the center of the stage, had no fly-floor area for hanging, nor flying in scenic elements. Bill installed a giant metal soldered wire screen open curtain in front of a scrim and natural muslin cyclorama. The prop crew, during the afternoon prep, would be handed a profile drawn sketch-pattern to replicate in full scale, on this square wire screen. Using colored thin aluminum wrapping paper foil, using their fingers to punch the crumpled foil into the wire squares, the design became the scenic element for that show. Each new day, the stage hand property crew would tear off the previous scenic, and replace the area with a new scenic design. During the musical segments, the lighting designer was able to side-light, or front light, or rear light the design creating a different visual effect. A lot of work, but very effective in spite of the labor and time each day required! See more
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