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Pink Lady
Pink Lady Title Card.jpg
Also known as Pink Lady Starring Mie and Kei with Jeff Altman
Pink Lady and Jeff (in retrospective)
Genre Variety
Written by Jim Brochu
Mark Evanier
Directed by Rudy De Luca
Art Fisher
Starring Pink Lady
Jeff Altman
Jim Varney
Anna Mathias
Cheri Steinkellner
Ed Nakamoto
Country of origin  United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 6 (1 unaired)
Production
Producer(s) Sid and Marty Krofft
Running time 60 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel NBC
Original run March 1 – April 4, 1980

Pink Lady is a short-lived American variety show that aired for four weeks on NBC in 1980, starring the musical duo of the same name. The series ranked #35 on TV Guide's Fifty Worst TV Shows of All Time list[1]. The show is most commonly referred to by the title Pink Lady and Jeff, which refers to co-star Jeff Altman.

Contents

Synopsis

The series starred Japanese female singing duo Pink Lady, which comprised two singers, Mitsuyo Nemoto ("Mie") and Keiko Masuda ("Kei"), and American comedian Jeff Altman. The format of the show consisted of musical numbers alternating with sketch comedy. The running gag of the series was the girls' lack of understanding of American culture and the English language (in reality, Pink Lady did not speak fluent English[2]). Jeff would then attempt to translate and explain the meaning of things which led to more confusion.[3]

The series also featured Pink Lady performing various songs (usually English-language disco and pop songs such as "Boogie Wonderland" or "Yesterday", which the duo sang in English) along with interaction with celebrity and musical guests. The group would end the show by jumping into a hot tub together. After the poorly rated series premiere, NBC moved Pink Lady to Friday nights and added Jim Varney, who achieved later fame as Ernest P. Worrell in the Ernest series of movies and television shows, as a character actor. The move and retooling failed to help ratings and the series was canceled after five episodes.[3]

After the series ended, Pink Lady returned to Japan where they performed their farewell concert in 1981. The duo reunited in 1996 and celebrated the 25th anniversary of their first hit in 2003 with a successful concert tour.[4]

Jeff Altman went on to host Solid Gold and returned to stand-up comedy.[4]

Production

The show was the brainchild of Fred Silverman[5], then President and CEO of NBC, who was desperate to replicate the success he'd had at ABC and CBS. After seeing a Walter Cronkite story about Pink Lady on the CBS Evening News[6], Silverman thought their Japanese success could be translated to the American market, so he brought in Sid and Marty Krofft to produce a variety show for them. The Krofft brothers were told that the ladies were fluent in English, but within moments of meeting them, it was apparent that they weren't[6]. Unsure of how to stage the show, Sid Krofft developed the concept of making "the strangest thing that's ever been on television... The whole show was gonna come out of a little Japanese box."[6]. Silverman's response was, "No, that's just too different. Let's just do Donny & Marie."[7] Sid bowed to Silverman's wishes, though the show ultimately became the strangest knockoff of Donny & Marie ever broadcast.

Comedian Jeff Altman had a contract with NBC[8] so he was offered a gig hosting the show to compensate for the fact that the leads weren't versed in English. Writer Mark Evanier previously worked with Kroffts on The Krofft Superstar Hour and the pilot Bobby Vinton's Rock 'n' Rollers, so he was brought aboard as head writer and seasoned variety show director Art Fisher (The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour) was brought in to direct. According to Evanier, the late Fisher hated the show and only did it because he was contractually obligated, which resulted in many behind the scenes battles[9].

Meanwhile, the language barrier provided the biggest obstacle for everyone involved. Mie and Kei had to hold English conversations through an on-set translator[8]. The writers, meanwhile, struggled because once dialogue had been written for and learned by the ladies, it was set in stone and could not be changed[9]. This was particularly problematic when a guest star would be booked at the last minute, such as Lorne Greene, who agreed to appear on the show a scant four hours before the episode was taped[9]. Mie and Kei wanted to sing the songs that had made them famous on the other side of the globe, but the network insisted they sing songs in English[9], so they phonetically pre-recorded English songs and performed lip synch at the show's live tapings[8]. Lip synch was already a common practice on American variety shows, but it was especially noticeable since the ladies were performing in a language that was foreign to them. Additional problems were caused when the network insisted the writers develop separate identities for Mie and Kei[9]. The established Pink Lady act was that they were so much in unison that they performed as one entity, so the ladies never felt comfortable having separate stage personalities[9].

Because Mie and Kei were commuting back and forth to Japan to appear in sold-out concerts[9], their time on the set was spent memorizing lines and routines, so the brunt of the comedy skits were carried by Altman and ensemble players Jim Varney, Cheri Steinkellner and Anna Mathias[8]. On rare occasions when Mie and Kei appeared in a skit, their time (and dialogue) was minimal.

Booking guests for the show was also a huge problem[9]. Variety shows were vanishing by 1980, and it didn't help matters that the series was headlined by an act that no one in America had heard of. Larry Hagman and other big name stars were coerced into appearing with sizable paychecks[6]. Alice Cooper was friends with the Krofft brothers and submitted an original performance both as a favor to them[10] and to promote his upcoming album release. Other stars who'd previously worked with Kroffts were also brought in, including Florence Henderson (The Brady Bunch Hour), Donny Osmond (Donny & Marie), Red Buttons (Side Show) and Bobby Vinton (Bobby Vinton's Rock 'n' Rollers). Cheap Trick and two-time guest Blondie didn't have any actual involvement with the show -- Cheap Trick's music video for Dream Police was shown as were Blondie's videos for Shayla and Eat to the Beat, which were both shot for a then newly-released home video.

Each show closed with a tuxedo-clad Jeff getting lured, pushed or pulled into the on-set hot tub by Mie and Kei. This gag originated with Sid Krofft[9], who'd used a similar device on The Brady Bunch Hour (on each episode, Greg would push Peter into the swimming pool). Altman felt it would have been an amusing one-time gag, but by employing it each week, it became contrived[8]. Altman tried to convince the writing staff to do away with this segment, but he was vetoed, most probably because this segment afforded everyone the opportunity to see Mie and Kei in skimpy bikinis[8].

The show's title has oft been the source of confusion. On-screen, the show was simply titled Pink Lady but the series is most commonly referred to as Pink Lady and Jeff (even on the cover of the DVD release). Altman felt that since he carried the show, his name should appear in the title, and the network agreed, but Pink Lady's manager strongly protested[8] and threatened a lawsuit if "and Jeff" appeared on the show's title[11]. In NBC's on-air promos, sometimes the show was referred to as Pink Lady[12], other times the voice-over announcer referred to it as Pink Lady and Jeff[13]. In print advertisements for TV Guide and the like, however, the show was always titled Pink Lady and Jeff, though it was cited merely as Pink Lady in the text TV listings[14].

Episodes

Ep # Airdate Title Director(s) Writer(s) Guest Stars(s)
1 March 1, 1980 "Episode 1" Art Fisher Mark Evanier, Rowby Goren, Lorne Frohman, Jim Brochu, Paul Pompian, Stephen Spears, Biff Manard Byron Allen, Sherman Hemsley, and Blondie
Music
2 March 14, 1980 "Episode 2" Art Fisher Mark Evanier, Rowby Goren, Lorne Frohman, Jim Brochu, Paul Pompian, Stephen Spears, Biff Manard Larry Hagman, Sid Caesar, Donny Osmond and Teddy Pendergrass
Music
3 March 21, 1980 "Episode 3" Art Fisher Mark Evanier, Rowby Goren, Lorne Frohman, Jim Brochu, Paul Pompian, Stephen Spears, Biff Manard Greg Evigan, Hugh Hefner, and Cheap Trick
Music
4 March 28, 1980 "Episode 4" Art Fisher Mark Evanier, Rowby Goren, Lorne Frohman, Jim Brochu, Paul Pompian, Stephen Spears, Biff Manard Lorne Greene, Sid Caesar, Florence Henderson and Blondie
Music
5 April 4, 1980 "Episode 5" Art Fisher Mark Evanier, Rowby Goren, Lorne Frohman, Jim Brochu, Paul Pompian, Stephen Spears, Biff Manard, Jerry Lewis Jerry Lewis, Red Buttons,and Alice Cooper
Music
6 unaired "Episode 6" Art Fisher Mark Evanier, Rowby Goren, Lorne Frohman, Jim Brochu, Paul Pompian, Stephen Spears, Biff Manard Roy Orbison, Bobby Vinton, Sid Caesar and Byron Allen
Music

Syndication and DVD release

Pink Lady and Jeff reruns were seen on Trio for a brief period.

In 2001, Rhino Entertainment released the complete series on Region 1 DVD in the United States.[15]

In popular culture

On National Public Radio's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, the show was the subject of the "Not My Job" segment with actor and novelist Harry Shearer. show on November 18, 2006.

References

  1. ^ "The 50 Worst TV Shows of All Time? - Vevmo"". http://vevmo.com/. http://vevmo.com/f77/the-50-worst-tv-shows-of-314/. Retrieved 2009-11-26.  
  2. ^ Hofstede, David (2004). What Were They Thinking: The 100 Dumbest Events in Television History. Backbeat Books. pp. 135. ISBN 0-823-08441-8.  
  3. ^ a b Phillips, Brian. "Pink Lady and Jeff". tvparty.com. http://www.tvparty.com/pink.html. Retrieved 2008-08-29.  
  4. ^ a b Hofstede, David (2004). What Were They Thinking: The 100 Dumbest Events in Television History. Backbeat Books. pp. 137. ISBN 0-823-08441-8.  
  5. ^ Marindale, David (1998). Pufnstuf & Other Stuff. St. Martin's Press. pp. 230. ISBN 1-58063-007-3.  
  6. ^ a b c d "Sid & Marty Krofft - Archive Interview Part 4 of 5". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5e6K6HcPxYk#t=20m44s. Retrieved 2009-11-26.  
  7. ^ Marindale, David (1998). Pufnstuf & Other Stuff. St. Martin's Press. pp. 231. ISBN 1-58063-007-3.  
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Pink Lady and Jeff DVD, "Jeff Altman Interview" (2001, Rhino Home Video).
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i Evanier, Mark. "Pink Insider". http://www.pinkladyamerica.com/. http://www.pinkladyamerica.com/pinkinsider.html. Retrieved 2009-11-26.  
  10. ^ Sherman, Dale (2009). The Illustrated Collector's Guide to Alice Cooper, 10th Anniversary Edition. Collector's Guide Publishing, Inc.. pp. 208. ISBN 9781-894959-93-3.  
  11. ^ "NOTES from me". http://www.povonline.com/notes/Notes071402.htm. Retrieved 2009-11-26.  
  12. ^ "NBC Pink Lady and Jeff promo 1980". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcJGGRyeLuQ. Retrieved 2009-11-26.  
  13. ^ "NBC Promo 1980". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Huj5Xv7_2A#t=0m21s. Retrieved 2009-11-26.  
  14. ^ "The Lost Art of TV Guide Advertising, Volume 5 of 265,890". http://www.platypuscomix.net/bored/tvguideads5.html. Retrieved 2009-11-26.  
  15. ^ "Pink Lady and Jeff DVD info". tvshowsondvd.com. http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/shows/Pink-Lady/3334. Retrieved 2008-08-29.  

External links

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