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“Fawlty Towers” pays homage to the Germans.

There have been several occasions in which a British sitcom develops such a sterling reputation in Britain, and perhaps in the states as well, that an American producer or network will attempt to recreate that success with an American version of the show. The odds against success are great. Rather than allowing Americans to be content with the laughter and joy so many brilliant Britcoms have brought us, Hollywood insists on watering down true comedy masterpieces with versions that often miss the point (and creativity)of the originals.


“The future ain’t what it used to be — and what’s more, it never was.”

Even the great folk singer-songwriter Lee Hayes may not have fully appreciated the true wisdom of his bon mot — at least where predicting the future is concerned. And, now that we’re saying good-bye and good riddance to 2020, we can safely conclude, as we look ahead, that most of the predictions we might venture to make about life in our future are not likely to come true (although you might stand a better chance if your family name is Nostradamus). …


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It has been forty years since John Lennon was assassinated. I’m not sure what’s more difficult to believe seeing in print (other than the word “assassinated”): writing the word “forty,” or writing the numeral “40.” Either way, it’s a disturbing thought on a number of levels.

On December 8, 1980, I was 19 years old, in college at the University of Maryland in College Park, not too far from downtown D.C. …


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On December 7, 1941, the “date that will live in infamy,” Japan attacked the Pearl Harbor naval base in Hawaii, and several other Pacific islands, a few minutes before 8:00 a.m. local time, 2:00 p.m. Eastern time. Even at that early date, television was able to cover the breaking news as quickly as possible.

In New York, local radio station WOR and the radio network affiliates of CBS and NBC all interrupted their broadcasts with the bulletin off the wire services; they all did so between 2:26 and 2:30 p.m.


Is it we who are getting old, or rock music itself?

November marks the 50th anniversary of the release of two landmark rock albums, Eric Clapton’s Layla and other assorted love songs (released under the name Derek and the Dominos), released on November 9, and George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, released on November 27 (November 30 in the U.K.) These albums, and their creators, were inextricably linked in 1970, and have remained so via their legendary status in the half-century since.

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To put things in the context of that year for Clapton and Harrison, it was a tumultuous time…


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I’ve just had a book published, titled The Funniest Decade (Bearmanor Media)which celebrates American comedy throughout the decade of the1930s. Why was that the funniest decade, you may ask? After all, it was so long ago. There must have been funnier decades since then, right? Believe that if you will, but you would be…well…wrong.

It can be argued that the term “Golden Age,” in any context, has become an overused cliché, yet the entire decade of the 1930s proved to be the true Golden Decade of American comedy. This ten-year span produced the finest films, radio programs, and stage performances…


Many of us have been thinking about the Beatles lately, due mostly to the fact that we’ve recently marked what would have been John Lennon’s 80th birthday. Sadly, we will soon need to acknowledge the 40th anniversary of his tragic death.

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However, in addition to celebrating the Beatles unparalleled career by listening to their music, or by watching their films, concerts, and TV appearances, you may want to consider reading a work of fiction in which the Beatles play an enormous part, even if they remain in the background.

I co-wrote the comic novel From Me To You with Kelly…


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Andrea Motis, the source of the lightning strike.

It was exactly one year ago today when I was struck by musical lightning — perhaps the most powerful bolt I’ve felt in a long time. I’m certain most of us have had the experience: while going about your business, you hear, quite suddenly and unexpectedly, a song or piece of music that makes you stop what you’re doing and just listen, captivated, even enthralled by the sound. It has happened to me only a handful of times in my life, and it goes far beyond simply buying an album by a favorite or new artist, and enjoying it greatly…


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In the first two parts of this look at the history of The Odd Couple, we went back to the beginning, with the origins of Neil Simon’s 1965 hit play on Broadway, the 1968 film adaptation, and the 1970 TV series. That covers quite a bit of ground in just over five years, but even after the end of the sitcom version, the life of The Odd Couple as a treasured comedy entity had a long way to go, and its journey has not been without a number of ups and downs.


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Considering the enormous success The Odd Couple enjoyed onstage and on film in the late 1960s (as discussed in Part 1), it was inevitable that the play would further extend its life on television. Garry Marshall explained how he and writing partner Jerry Belson became involved:

“Paramount studios, who we had worked for on and off, decided to do The Odd Couple. Neil Simon didn’t have a good deal with Paramount, because they kept the television rights. So he didn’t want to do it, otherwise he would have wrote it himself. So they hired us to write the television version…

Garry Berman

Pop Culture historian, Freelance Writer, Author, specializing in American comedy history in films, radio, and TV. Beatles and jazz enthusiast, animal lover.

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