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In the months leading up to last night’s Best Time Ever debut, Neil Patrick Harris and NBC had been touting the series as a modern reinvention of a great TV genre: the variety show. Technically, they didn’t lie: Tuesday’s opener featured an assortment of stunts and games, included both A- and C-list guest stars, and offered a kinda-sorta production number headlined by Gloria Gaynor. But for anyone who was alive prior to 1980, Best Time Ever bore virtually no resemblance to Donny & Marie, Sonny & Cher, Laugh-In, or any of the dozens of variety shows that populated American television from its infancy in the 1950s all the way through until the late 1970s. The genre beloved by baby boomers and Generation X, it seems, is still dead. And this is a shame, because variety shows — as a trip into the bowels of YouTube quickly demonstrates — were spectacularly »
- Josef Adalian
When Neil Patrick Harris returns to TV next week, he won't be cracking jokes in another sitcom. Best Time Ever With Neil Patrick Harris (debuting on September 15th on NBC) marks the return — overdue or not — of the variety show, that long-dormant format in which kooky skits, musical guests, and frenzied production numbers are jammed into an hour of family-friendly entertainment. "When you think of the variety shows we all grew upon — Sonny and Cher and Donny and Marie — those [programs] all said, 'Sit on the couch, be entertained with a little song, »
British actress Judy Carne, who was best known for starring on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, died last week. She was 76. Judy Carne Dies Carne’s passing was confirmed on Tuesday. She died at Northampton General Hospital on Sept. 3 after suffering from pneumonia, according to USA Today. Carne rose to fame on Laugh In during […]
- Chelsea Regan
Comedians are often defined by one stock expression, from Jack Benny’s sighing “...well!” to Homer Simpson’s “Doh!” For Judy Carne, who has died aged 76, the phrase was “sock it to me” and every time she uttered it, or anything close to it, on America’s hit comedy sketch show Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, she would be doused in water, disappear down a trap door, or worse. The producer George Schlatter had appropriated the phrase from black musicians with whom he worked. It made Carne the show’s central figure, and put “sock it to me” into 1960s vernacular.
Carne was a vivacious singer and dancer whose rise to something close to stardom had been rapid in the Us, and which Laugh-In wound up bringing to a screeching halt. »
- Michael Carlson
British actress Judy Carne, who perhaps was best known to American audiences for her role as the “Sock it to me!” girl on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, died on Sept. 3 after a reported battle with pneumonia. She was 76.
After starting her career in England, Carne made her Stateside TV debut on the 1962 CBS sitcom Fair Exchange, playing an exchange student. She went on to guest-star on such series as Bonanza, The Baileys of Balboa, Gidget, Love on a Rooftop and Big Valley. During this time, she also had a two-year marriage to Burt Reynolds.
As part of the Laugh-In ensemble »
Judy Carne, best known to fans as the Sock It to Me girl on “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In,” has died at the age of 76, according to multiple media reports. Carne was born in Northampton, England. Her first role onscreen came in 1961 when she guest starred on an episode of the British spy series “Danger Man” opposite Patrick McGoohan, according to her official IMDb page. She became endeared to American audiences, however, when she was a regular performer on the first two seasons of the NBC sketch series “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.” She would often use the phrase “Sock it »
- Joe Otterson
Judy Carne, the British actress best known for the phrase "Sock It to Me" on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, has died. She passed away after suffering from pneumonia at Northampton General Hospital in the same U.K. town in which she was born in 1939. She was 76. Carne's death was announced on Facebook by her cousin Marnie Butcher, according to the Northampton Herald and Post. "Rip Judy Carne, you're not suffering anymore," Butcher wrote. The daughter of two greengrocers, Carne rose to fame on U.K. television screens in the early 1960s, starring in Danger Man (1961)
- Alex Ritman
Update Tuesday morning with more information throughout. Carne, the gamine actress who became famous as “the sock-it-to-me-girl” on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In died Thursday at age 76 following a brief hospital stay where she was being treated for pneumonia. The Telegraph first reported the news. Born Joyce Audrey Botterill in Northampton, England in 1939, she began her acting career on television, making her debut in 1956 on The First Day Of Spring. She would go on to… »
Thirty years ago, Lily Tomlin made her film debut in Robert Altman’s “Nashville,” surprising those who knew her only from her array of wacky characters in “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.” As Linnea Reese, a gospel singer and mother to two deaf children, Tomlin gave a performance that was layered and fascinating. “At that time, actors weren’t really crossing over from television,” says Tomlin. “Goldie (Hawn) had done it, but that was a rarity.”
But the role almost never happened for her; Louise Fletcher, the daughter of deaf parents, had to bow out. In the end, it put Tomlin on the map, launching a film career that would include such classics as “All of Me,” “9 to 5” and “Big Business.” It also earned Tomlin her first Oscar nomination.
- Jenelle Riley
At the age of 75, Lily Tomlin is enjoying the kind of career resurgence that you could describe as surprising – except that Tomlin spent five decades as a distinctive, often groundbreaking comic voice who never seemed dependent on waves of popularity. Even when she was part of hits like the ’60s TV series “Laugh-In,” the smash movie “Nine to Five” or the Tony-winning Broadway hit “Appearing Nitely,” she was an actor and a comedian trying to bring distinctive characters to life, not a star looking for the next big paycheck. Three years after winning the Mark Twain Award for »
- Steve Pond
Almost 76, Lily Tomlin seems to be busting out all over these days. She is the star attraction in Sundance breakout “Grandma,” opening this week, as a spiky lesbian intellectual named Elle (French for “she” or “her”) who shoots from the lip and takes no prisoners during a long day’s journey to help her granddaughter scrounge up the cash for an abortion. Her character’s motto in her first film lead since 1988’s twins caper “Big Business”? “You need to be able to say ‘screw you’ sometimes.” Tomlin also just earned her 22nd Primetime Emmy nomination as a septuagenarian neo-hippie opposite "9 to 5" cohort Jane Fonda as her uptight roomie in Netflix’s “Grace and Frankie,” now shooting its second season. From the early ‘70s, when she brought to life such comical creations as Ernestine the phone operator and raspberry-blowing moppet Edith Ann on the trend-setting TV show “Laugh-In” to her Tony-winning one-woman shows, »
- Susan Wloszczyna
In 2014, Michelle Obama and Tom Hanks toasted Lily Tomlin's lifetime achievement at the Kennedy Center — an honor that didn't mark the end of her career so much as kick off a comeback. Nearly five decades after her debut on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, the 75 year-old is hot: Her Netflix show Grace and Frankie, costarring Jane Fonda, was just renewed for a second season and helped Tomlin earn her 22nd Emmy nomination. And the comedienne's new film Grandma — about a cranky lesbian septuagenarian who helps her granddaughter get an abortion, »
“These are llamas,” says Lily Tomlin, holding up two furry toy replicas for inspection. “Or they might be alpacas. I can’t tell the difference.” It’s a hot August morning, and Tomlin is giving me a tour of her office — a cozy, cluttered, ground-level apartment on a sleepy street in Studio City. “I don’t put much stock in memorabilia,” she warns. Not even the oversize rocking chair, official domain of Edith Ann, Tomlin’s famous, philosophizing 5-year-old from Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In? “Oh, that’s at home,” she assures me. Tomlin decides the little figurines are alpacas, most likely a keepsake from her desk on The West Wing, where her character, a former alpaca farmer, served as executive assistant to Martin Sheen’s President Bartlet for four and a half seasons. We’re in the ad hoc conference room, the same one where Tomlin and the director Paul Weitz »
- Phoebe Reilly
It's safe to say that, 17 years ago, The Daily Show was a fledgling show. "Daily satiric news anchor" was not a job. And Jon Stewart was just a stand-up comic and occasional actor, not yet the comedy nerd/political junkie's lord and savior.
Which isn't to say that Stewart and the team behind Comedy Central's late-night staple invented their own genre of topical tomfoolery. Shows like That Was the Week That Was experimented with the satirical news format as early as the Sixties. Everything from Bob & Ray to HBO's »
Comedian Jack Carter died June 28 of respiratory failure at his home in Beverly Hills. He was 93. He was also an actor, emcee, singer, mimic, dancer, and director in a career that spanned over seven decades.
He began his professional career appearing on Broadway in “Call Me Mister.” He later appeared on Milton Berle’s “Texaco Star Theatre” shows, and it was during this time that Carter got his first real break.
For two years, he hosted the early television variety program “Cavalcade of Stars” prior to having his own show on NBC, “The Jack Carter Show,” which lasted three years, and was a part of the “Saturday Night Review.” He also co-starred in several of the Colgate Comedy Hours with Ed Wynn, Jimmy Durante, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis and Donald O’Connor.
In addition to “Call Me Mister,” his Broadway credits include “Mr. Wonderful” and “Top Banana.” He hosted the »
- Variety Staff
A version of this story first appeared in the June 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe. It has been 45 years since Lily Tomlin introduced signature characters like Ernestine on TV's Laugh-In, but she's hardly begun to slow down. Grace and Frankie, her new Netflix series in which she and Jane Fonda co-star as two very different 70-something women forced together by circumstance, recently has been renewed for a second season. Paul Weitz's Grandma, in which she plays an acerbic poet on a road trip with her granddaughter, is
- Gregg Kilday
Every time Amy Schumer comes out with a new sketch, it's impossible not to think about how necessary it is that a female standup comic has the platform on Comedy Central to be as irreverent, truthful, and damning as she wants. It wasn't so long ago that females in sketch comedy were reduced to one-note roles. (Check out "Laugh-In" sometime and note how many times the point of a bit is "Oh, Goldie. Such a space cadet.") We picked ten examples of feminism in sketch comedy dating all the way back to the heyday of Carol Burnett. Comb the hair on your Asian-American doll and enjoy. 1. Carol Burnett is "movie star crazy" One of the enduring treats of "The Carol Burnett Show" is the feminist undertones in many of her sketches. The fact that she's so outlandish and having so much fun is a triumph in itself, but in this sketch, »
- Louis Virtel
"Laugh-In" director George Schlatter based this 1976 farce on a failed stage play about two stereotypically Jewish parents and their frazzled reactions to the fact that their son has a boyfriend. For the film Schlatter cast Redd Foxx and Pearl Bailey as the parents, thereby ensuring a comedy even more rife with politically-incorrect possibilities. Look for Mad cartoonist Sergio Aragones in a small part. »
- Trailers From Hell
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