PREMIERRING IN PRIMETIME at roughly the same time as NBC's Saturday NIGHT (as it was first called), this series was among the best intentioned projects ever. But, as we've all heard before, "The road to Hell is paved with Good Intentions!" That oft repeated proverb just about sums it up.
DESIGNED AS A PROGRAM that would both emulate and at the same time fill the void of the long-running ED SULLIVAN SHOW (TOAST OF THE TOWN), the series was launched off of the pad without proper consideration of the logistics, the talent handling or any regards for Mr. Cosell's considerable "baggage." That Howard was well known to the public is an indisputable fact. The facts overlooked were twofold.
FIRST OF ALL, Mr. Cosell was an established Sports Analyst/Broadcaster. Having earned his spurs by way of a daily ABC Radio Network 10 minute spot, Howard Cosell's SPEAKING OF SPORTS. Then, Network Baseball coverage added to his resume. This was followed by his ascending to the absolute Zenith of Sports-casting with partners like FRank Gifford and Don Meredith on ABC and Monday NIGHT FOOTBALL.
SECONDLY AND POSSIBLY most importantly, Cosell was never and could never be a low key guy. Some loved him; whereas most loved to hate him. His persona was that of an abrasive boat-rocker./ WE SUPPOSE THAT the powers to be at the American Broadcasting Company figured that taking a chance on Mr. Cosell could be no worse than CBS's going with newspaper columnist, Ed Sullivan in earlier times. After all, both were journalists of sorts. Neither had any detectable entertainment talents; with no singing, dancing or humorous monologues up their sleeves.
BUT THAT'S EWHERE the similarities end; for Mr. Sullivan's having the MC position was gradual rise. Stemming from Ed's hosting an annual Christmas charity event of the "Noble Fifth Estate" (the Press Boys). This gave him some resume and foundation.
ANOTHER FACTOR WAS pointed out on Tom Snyder's TOMORROW SHOW. In his interview with TV Star, Garry Moore, Snyder asked him about the sudden demise of this Cosell show. Garry said that he believed that whereas the Sullivan method called for "editing" the acts down to their best 2 or 3 minutes, no such practice was applied to this ABC Howard Cosell SATUDAY NIGHT LIVE. As a result, we saw extended performances by the Bay City Rollers, the Lockers and Magician, Mark Wilson.
IN SUPPORT OF this last assertion, we present evidence as it was played out on THE Hollywood SQUARES. Host, Peter Marshall asked regular panelist, George Gobel; "In American History, what were the Intolerable Acts?" George replied, "They were those Intolerable Acts on Howard Cosell's Saturday NIGHT LIVE Show!"
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN of the Jury, we rest our case!
NOTE: * The term, "Intolerable Acts" was a term used by the American colonists to describe laws passed by Parliament in England to punish the Massachusetts colonists for their defiance in dumping the considerable amount of Tea to be taxed into the Boston Harbor.
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