Friday, December 31, 2010


A little something different for the last "As Seen On TV" showcase of the year.....

In the opening credits for the sitcom 'Angel', its creator and head writer Jess Oppenheimer got his own animated avatar. Such acknowledgement of the writer is more common over in Great Britain I think, where their credits are often listed before the actors involved.



Not Applicable

From Wikipedia:
Jess Oppenheimer (November 11, 1913 – December 27, 1988) a radio and television writer, producer, and director, was producer and head writer of the landmark CBS sitcom I Love Lucy.

Lucille Ball called Oppenheimer "the brains" behind I Love Lucy. As series creator, producer, and head writer, "Jess was the creative force behind the 'Lucy' show," according to I Love Lucy director William Asher. "He was the field general. Jess presided over all the meetings, and ran the whole show. He was very sharp."

In December, 1950, when CBS agreed to produce a TV pilot starring Lucille Ball and her first husband, Desi Arnaz, Sr., Lucy insisted on Oppenheimer to head up the project. But with a completed pilot due in just a few weeks, nobody knew what the series should be about. "Why don't we do a show," Oppenheimer suggested, "about a middle-class working stiff who works very hard at his job as a bandleader, and likes nothing better than to come home at night and relax with his wife, who doesn't like staying home and is dying to get into show business herself?" He decided to call the show "I Love Lucy."

He remained as producer and head writer of the series for five of its six seasons, writing the pilot and 153 episodes with Madelyn Pugh and Bob Carroll Jr. (joined in the fall of 1955 by writers Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf). Oppenheimer appeared on the show in Episode #6 ("The Audition"), as one of the three unimpressed TV executives for whom Ricky performs at the Tropicana.

Oppenheimer left I Love Lucy in 1956 to take an executive post at NBC, where he produced a series of TV specials, including the "General Motors 50th Anniversary Show" (1957), "Ford Startime" (1959), "The Ten Commandments" (1959), and the "1959 Emmy Awards." Oppenheimer and Ball were reunited in 1962 when he produced "The Danny Kaye Show with Lucille Ball," which was nominated as "Program of the Year" by the TV Academy, and again in 1964, when he executive produced "The Lucille Ball Comedy Hour."

During the 1960s, Oppenheimer created and produced three short-lived sitcoms: Angel, starring Annie Fargé and Marshall Thompson), Glynis (fall of 1963) (starring Glynis Johns), and The Debbie Reynolds Show (1969-70). His other TV credits included writing "The United States Steel Hour," producing "Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre," and writing, producing, and directing most of the 1967-68 season of "Get Smart," starring Don Adams. Oppenheimer received two Emmy Awards and five Emmy nominations, a Sylvania Award, and the Writers' Guild of America's Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television Achievement.

These animated characters in the credit sequences for sitcoms - from 'Bilko' and 'Bewitched' to 'I Love Lucy' and 'The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis' - belong in the Tooniverse. So those characters have at least two counterparts in alternate TV dimensions. And Jess Oppenheimer can be counted among them, as the "Network Sponsor" he played in that 'I Love Lucy' episode may have been what his televersion turned out to be....

BCnU next year!


Mike Doran said...

I don't know if you'd count this as a portrayal, but ...

Shortly before his death, Jess Oppenheimer wrote a memoir about his days working on I Love Lucy.

An audio book was subsequently produced, with Oppenheimer's words read by actor Lawrence Dobkin (A familiar face and voice to TV-movie buffs).

And a Happy New Year!

Toby O'B said...

Thanks for that bit o' trivia, Mike. Audio-books fall into the same fictional universe as all those radio plays of the 40s and 50s, and the Big Finish CDs of Doctor Who adventures. A shared universe where everybody can be heard but never seen... at least by outsiders. They can see each other. (I take the Fletcher Pratt and L. Sprague DeCamp motif to that kind of level, but I focus on just the TV Universe.)