The story of three people - a press agent, a private detective and a nightclub owner - whose careers require them to spend most of the night awake and on the prowl. In the pilot episode, ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
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Carmine Kelly
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Smitty
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Aram Bessoyggian
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Vantura Davis
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Grudin
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Gable
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Ralph
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Jabbo
Seth Allen ...
Shane
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Acky
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Fredd Wayne
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The story of three people - a press agent, a private detective and a nightclub owner - whose careers require them to spend most of the night awake and on the prowl. In the pilot episode, Carmine manages to rescue Smitty's night club from being demolition and manages to resurrect a fading star's acting career. Written by Anonymous

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15 April 1973 (USA)  »

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A Very Special Place  »

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John Cassavetes in an unsold pilot
27 January 2013 | by See all my reviews

Brilliant Herbert B. Leonard ("Naked City", "Route 66") produced this interesting 1973 pilot.

Forty-three year old John Cassavetes ("Johnny Staccato") played press agent Carmine Kelly.

The show was filmed entirely on location in New York City.

The first part of the show was filmed entirely at night.

Director Richard Donner gave the episode a great, atmospheric look. Very original. It didn't look like a television show. It reminded me a little of Peter Hyams' TV movie "Goodnight, My Lady" with Richard Boone and Michael Dunn as private detectives. I don't know if producer Bert Leonard could have afforded to keep up this cool look for a series.

The cinematographer was Bennie Hirschenson, who specialized in commercials. This is his only cinematography credit. Nice work.

The writer/creator was 38-year old Pete Hamill, a hard-drinking journalist who specializes in stories about New York. Hamill was a reporter and later columnist for The New York Post. His books include "The Invisible City: Short Stories", "A Drinking Life: A Memoir", and "Why Sinatra Matters".

Hamill was a friend of Robert Kennedy, who helped subdue Sirhan Sirhan after the assassination.

Maybe Cassavetes and Hamill become drinking buddies. Six years after "Nightside" Cassavetes was in a TV movie called "Flesh & Blood", based on a novel by Hamill.

The other "Nightside" regulars would have been elegant Alexis Smith as a night club owner named "Smitty" and Mike Kellin as a private detective who sometimes did jobs for Cassavetes.

Seymour Cassel ("Faces", "Minnie and Moscowitz") was one of the guest stars. Others in the strong cast included Richard Jordan, June Havoc, Joe Santos, Fredd Wayne, and Dick Cavett.

The title "Nightside" seemed a little bland. Maybe Leonard could have gotten the rights to the title "Night and the City". Or just "Night Life". Or "I Love New York at Night".

Cassavetes did this role the year after his superb "Columbo" guest star role, which might have reminded producers of how good a series lead he could be. Cassavetes might also have been impressed with the money his pal Falk was making.

This show aired on "The ABC Sunday Night Movie" on April 15, 1973. "Nightside" was on after another hour-long pilot called "Rx for the Defense". That pilot was from another great producer of the 1960's – Herbert Brodkin ("The Defenders"). Talented Tim O'Connor played a doctor turned lawyer.

Shows about press agents had been tried before. David Janssen ("Richard Diamond") played a New York press agent in a 1960 pilot called "The Insiders". This was an uncredited attempt to make "The Sweet Smell of Success" into a series with Janssen in the Tony Curtis role and Carroll O'Connor in the Burt Lancaster role. Beautiful Joan Staley played Janssen's quasi-assistant, but they would have been smarter to hire the superb Barbara Nichols. The writer/producer was Richard Alan Simmons ("The Price of Tomatoes", "Trials of O'Brien") and the executive producer was William Sackheim ("The Law").

Craig Stevens ("Peter Gunn") played a smooth press agent named Mike Bell in "Mr. Broadway", a 1964 series. Bell's assistant was a sexy Japanese woman. Horace McMahon ("Naked City") played an ex-cop friend of Bell. The creator was Garson Kanin ("Born Yesterday"). The show was filmed on location in New York. The producer was the great David Susskind ("East Side West Side", "NYPD"). Alexis Smith of "Nightside" was married to Craig Stevens.

I also seem to remember Gig Young as a Hollywood press agent/detective in an early 60's pilot. Young drove a cool sports car and had a house in the Hollywood Hills with a magnificent view of the city. But I can't find any evidence of this show except in my memory.

Edit: I recently discovered the reason I can't find any evidence of that Gig Young pilot. The 1960 pilot was called "Hollywood Angel" and starred Robert Webber, not Gig Young. Webber played a variation of the advertising executive he played to perfection in the 1957 film "12 Angry Men". The producer of "Hollywood Angel" was ambitious Dick Berg ("Johnny Staccato", "Checkmate", "The Bob Hope Chrysler Theater").


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