Friday, June 17, 2011

And the Winner Is

Congratulations go to Roger Nowland and Mary Murphey for their PULSAR for properties and Matt Ottinger for sound!

So proud to have worked with you all.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Farnsworth Superstars

You are ALL superstars! Here are the ones the City Pulse has singled out. Congrats to all!

SOUND DESIGN Matt Ottinger
PROPERTIES Mary Murphey and Roger Nowland
COSTUMES Eric Chatfield
SET DESIGN Tim Fox and Jane Falion

Monday, October 11, 2010



SARNOFF: He'd already told his father about the idea. He'd explained that "tele" was Greek. It meant "distant." Vision from a distance. Televsion.

The early isues of TV Guide magazine incorporated this idea into their magazine's logo.

Lee Wagner (1910–1993) was circulation director of McFadden Publications in New York in the 1930s—and later for Cowles Media Co.—distributing movie celebrity magazines. In 1948, he printed The TeleVision Guide for the New York area. On the cover was silent film star Gloria Swanson star of her short-lived "Gloria Swanson Hour." Wagner later added regional editions for New England and Baltimore-Washington areas. Five years later, he sold the editions to Walter Annenberg's Triangle Publications, but remained as a consultant until 1963.

The national TV Guide was first published on April 3, 1953. Its premiere issue cover featured a photograph of Lucille Ball's and Desi Arnez's son Desi Arnez Junior.

"Kukla, Fran and Ollie" (pictured above) is unique in the history of television: a live, daily, ad-libbed puppet show that was watched by more adults than children.

How did a puppet show created for children become "appointment television" for millions of adults? And how was it possible to go on the air for a half-hour each day and create a sharp, witty program with no script?

The answer can be given in two words: Burr Tillstrom. Burr was the creator of "Kukla, Fran and Ollie," and the only puppeteer on the show, which first ran from 1947 to 1957. Today, it's hard to imagine a simple puppet show being so popular, but KFO evoked not only loyalty but also a deep belief in its characters from anyone who watched more than a few episodes. (from LIFE magazine)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Oh! We're the Men of Texaco

We work from Maine to Mexico
There's nothing like this Texaco of ours!

And now ladies and gentlemen...America's number one television star...Milton Berle.

lthough RCA introduced television at the 1939 World's Fair WWII prevented it from being manufactured on a large scale until after the war. It wasn't until 1948 that true regular commercial TV was broadcast.

NBC had hired Toscanini to conduct the NBC Symphony Orchestra and the Texaco Star Theatre, originally a radio program moved to television. In the early days comedian Ed Wynn (pictured) was the host, followed by Fred Allen. Berle stepped in after that as part of a rotation of comedians.

In his first full season as the host he was extremely popular. Berle was probably responsible for selling more television sets than anyone. During his run the sale of televisions grew from 500,000 his first year to over 30 million when the show ended in 1956.

He won two Emmy Awards that first year; one for Best Kinescope Show and one for Most Outstanding Kinescope Personality.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Music to Our Ears

David Sarnoff, the president of RCA who had first proposed the "radio music box" in 1916 so that listeners might enjoy "concerts, lectures, music, recitals," felt that the medium was failing to do this. By 1937, RCA had recovered enough from the effects of the Depression for it to make a dramatic commitment to cultural programming. With the most liberal terms Sarnoff hired Arturo Toscanini to create an entire orchestra and conduct it.

On Christmas night, 1937, the NBC orchestra gave its first performance—Vivaldi's Concerto Grosso in D Minor—in an entirely refurbished studio in the RCA Building. "The National Broadcasting Company is an American business organization. It has employees and stockholders. It serves their interests best when it serves the public best." That Christmas night, and whenever the NBC orchestra played over the next 17 years, he was right.

Mr. Sarnoff spared no expense in creating the NBC Symphony. Prominent musicians from major orchestras around the country were recruited for the orchestra. In addition to creating prestige for the network, there has been speculation that one of the reasons NBC created the orchestra was to deflect a Congressional inquiry into broadcasting standards.

The orchestra's first broadcast concert aired from NBC's Studio 8H on November 13, 1937 under the direction of Pierre Monteux. Toscanini conducted 10 concerts that first season, making his NBC debut on December 25, 1937. In addition to weekly broadcasts on the NBC Red and Blue networks, the NBC Symphony Orchestra made many recordings for RCA Victor of symphonies, choral music and operas. Televised concerts began in March 1948 and continued until March 1952. In the fall of 1950, NBC converted Studio 8H into a television studio (currently in use for NBC's late-night comedy program Saturday Night Live) and moved the broadcast concerts to Carnegie Hall, where many of the orchestra's recording sessions and special concerts had already taken place.

Toscanini led the NBC Symphony for 17 years. Under his direction the orchestra toured South America in 1940 and the United States in 1950.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"He got a picture."

The text (and photo) of the actual San Francisco Chronicle article referenced in The Farnsworth Invention. Those already involved in the show will recognize key players and descriptions. This comes from The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco at where you can read more information about Farnsworth and his laboratory. The original article is dated September 3, 1928.

S.F. Man's Invention to Revolutionize Television


W.W. Crocker, R.N. Bishop Head Local Capitalists Backing Genius

Philo Farnsworth holds sending and receiving tubes for the television system he invented. - San Francisco Chronicle photo.Two major advances in television were announced yesterday by a young inventor who has been quietly working away in his laboratory in San Francisco and has evolved a system of television basically different from any system yet in operation.

The inventor is Philo T. Farnsworth, and local capitalists, headed by W.W. Crocker and Roy N. Bishop, are financing the experiments and have aided him in obtaining basic patents on the system.

In any method of transmitting moving images at a distance, some means must be evolved of breaking the image into pin points of light. These points are translated into electrical impulses, the electrical impulses are collected at the receiving end and translated back into light, and the image results.


All television systems now in use employ a revolving disc, two feet in diameter, to break up or "scan" the image. A similar disc is at the receiving end, and the two discs must revolve at precisely the same instant and at precisely the same speed or blurred vision results.

Farnsworth's system employs no moving parts whatever. Instead of moving the machine, he varies the electric current that plays over the image and thus gets the necessary scanning.

The system is thus simple in the extreme, and one of the major mechanical obstacles to the perfection of television is thereby removed.

It was through this simplicity that he achieved his second greatest advance, the cutting in half of the wave band length necessary to prevent television broadcasts interfering with each other. The importance of this is manifest, inasmuch as it requires approximately four times the wave band length for television that ordinary sound broadcasting requires. Farnsworth has cut this television wave band in half and is hoping for still further reduction.


His system sends twenty pictures per seconds, so motion is perfectly recorded, and there are 8000 elements, or pin points of light, in each picture to insure detail. The laboratory model he has built transmits the image on a screen one and one-quarters inches square. It is a queer looking little image in bluish light now, one that frequently smudges and blurs, but the basic principle is achieved and perfection is now a matter of engineering.

The sending tube which is the heart of Farnsworth's transmitting set is about the size of an ordinary quart jar that a housewife uses for preserving fruit, and the receiving tube containing the screen is even smaller. Farnsworth estimates the receiving apparatus could easily be attached to an ordinary radio set and can be manufactured to retail at $100 or less.

Farnsworth is a native of Provo, Utah, and conceived the idea for his television set while a student at Brigham Young University there. He was discovered by George Everson and Leslie Gorrell, who brought the set to the attention of research engineers at the California Institute of Technology. These experts pronounced it workable and helped Farnsworth obtain the financial backing. The research laboratories are at 202 Green street.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Building an Empire

Four weeks from opening and this is what the set looks like. Larry has been doing an amazing job getting things up and going. Even I've been impressed!! Thanks also to Brian Stratton, Leroy Cupp, Bob Nees and Dan DeYonke for all your help.