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I was the series editor for The Joey Bishop (talk) Show, on ABC late
night, as I had been on its equally short run predecessor, The Les
Crane Show. The Crane show originated in New York as a genuine
alternative to the other late night talk shows like Tonight. ABC got
cold feet, decided to make the show more conventional, and moved it to
With nothing to distinguish itself from the competition, the tamed down Les Crane Show met a swift death. ABC needed someone new to front the Crane show and hit upon Joey Bishop. The brass were hoping that some of the Rat Pack heat would rub off.
It didn't. In fact, Joey was cold -- rather than cool.
I also need to correct the credits listed in this site. Regis Philbin was the series announcer/foil for the run of the show, not a three time guest as posted. The casting of Regis and Joey made for an odd, and not very humorous pairing.
Joey always seemed uncomfortable as ringmaster. His deadpan act was designed to react to outrageous actions. The show had little in the way of the outrageous about it, leaving Joey with little to react to.
Regis had yet to find the style he would develop a decade later as a morning talk host is Los Angeles, first on KHJ, and then on KABC. The KABC show was moved to New York and syndicated, where it still runs today.
The idea of Regis playing second banana to Joey, a second banana himself, made for a weak relationship in an even weaker show.
The somewhat brittle, but always interesting Dick Cavett took over the time slot, the show was moved to New York, and the guests much more interesting. The Dick Cavett Show, in its prime, was infinitely more interesting than Joey's mercifully short run.
Arye (AKA Leslie) Michael Bender
After the much success of his early 1960's sitcom,Joey Bishop went on
do a late night talk show in which it went head to head with "The Tonight
Show",but didn't last very long only for three seasons before it was given
the ax by ABC-TV executives in 1969. I had the chance to catch a single
episode of this long forgotten late night show one evening on a local
channel and to my surprise it was very good. First off,you had a very
looking Regis Philbin as his sidekick,and one of his guests were Sammy
Davis,Jr.doing what he does best here in grand style.
However,during that time his show was not bad,but in didn't match up with
was back then the 'king' of late night TV,Johnny Carson from a rival
network. A one time rarity that needs to be seen if you get the chance to
so if you into classic repeats of seldom seen late night material from the
golden days of the 1960's.
NOTE: His show was given the axe by ABC,only to be taken over by newcomer Dick Cavett whose show premiered that same year. After the success of this,Joey Bishop went on to do other projects including make appearances of several shows. He is still doing so today,since he is the only living member of the Rat Pack which included himself,Peter Lawford, Dean Martin,Sammy Davis,Jr. and Frank Sinatra.
I was a regular fan of this talk show; and it was fun to see Regis
become Numero uno several decades later with his own hit show. The
episode I recall in vivid detail was when Robert Culp was a guest; I
had been a fan of his as well from the I SPY series. This was in 1969
and Culp was going on a mile a minute about Sam Peckinpah -he had just
seen a screening of THE WILD BUNCH and was quite accurate in
prognosticating its soon to be historic nature in film history. What
was most interesting to me was Culp's outspoken politics on this
segment -he was perhaps the first person to take the tack that THE WILD
BUNCH was about the Vietnam War and how important it was for filmmakers
to take a stand. This really impressed me, because ordinarily Bishop
and most of the other entertainment/talk shows of the day, were rather
frivolous (Culp's segments were more like watching a guest on Irv
Kupcinet, Lou Gordon or Alan Douglas, among the serious talkers).
I later discovered that Culp had worked quite a bit with Peckinpah and was a fan going in. But I shared his enthusiasm for THE WILD BUNCH and have had a lifelong interest since in Sam's work, both his TV episodes and body of feature films. I remember a couple of years later defending (to the death!!) what I consider to be Sam's masterpiece on the subject of the territorial imperative, STRAW DOGS, but to this day I remain in the minority on that one. I advise anyone interested to do what I did: read the novel SIEGE AT TRENCHER'S FARM, which has sketches of the house's layout and is very explicit about what is being defended, actually and symbolically, in the film; I read the paperback while the film was in production and it helped set me up for what apparently remains cryptic and pointless to the majority of film fans, who routinely reject it as "not up to his westerns". Ignorance of film (and TV) history runs rampant: Cornel Wilde's films on the subject: THE NAKED PREY and to a lesser extent NO BLADE OF GRASS remain woefully unknown compared to the latest flavor of the week.
On the following night after Robert Kennedy had been shot in 1968, after just winning the California Primary, Joey broke his usual comedy based format and switched to a very serious talk show. His main guest that night was the reporter who actually witnessed the shooting, the night before. The attack against Senator Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles (by Sirhan Sirhan) was recorded on audio tape and was broadcast on Joey's show. It was very eerie and you can hear the reporter say "Oh my God... Senator Kennedy..... Senator Kennedy has been shot...... Get the gun..... Break his (Sirhan's) hands off if you have to, but get the gun". It was probably one of Joey's finest programs. It was too bad that it had to happen under such a horrible tragedy. But, I'll never forget that night. I was 8 years old at the time. Joey really showed his versatility outside of the realm of comedy, that night.
Joey Bishop had a very good talk show. There was a great variety of guest and some very surprising "walk ons" by some of Joey's friends. It was also the springboard for Regis Philbin. It's pretty safe to say that Regis wouldn't be where he's at today without Joey. Memorable nights include visits by the Three Stooges with real pie fights, walk ons by Dean Martin or Sammy Davis Jr. Joey's wonderful monologues every night. Great music from Johnny Mann and His Merry Men. Of course, who could forget Regis Philbin's much publicized "walk off" after having trouble with ABC executives. All in all, Joey put out a very entertaining show that was just as good, if not better than Johnny Carson's at the time. I just wish we could get some of these shows on DVD.
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