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October 07, 1956 - Image 6

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Page Six THE MICHIGAN DAILY October 7, 1956
The Allen Phenomenon
Where A Punch Line Can Be Equal to the Life Line
By LARRY EINHORN Through the kind courtesy of and the other half of the seats A few minutes later Allen poses are there almost every night. These
Daily television writer Mort Hochstein of the NBC press had been converted into part of for some still publicity photo- "regulars" are the first ones in
T WAS 9 p.m. on a Wednesday department and Mary Carr of the the stage. graphs for one of his sponsor's line and therefore get the best
night in August when I swalkedSteve Allen officeI had been given Thus most of the studio audi- products. seats every night. Mrs. Sterling is
entre' to the rehearsal and so I ence sit in the balcony for there the ringleader of this group.
down 46th Street and came to the walked into the almost empty are actually very few seats on the ALLEN rules the rehearsal with Allen makes his second entrance
Hudson Theatre, an old burlesque theatre, main floor. When you see a shot an iron hand. Part of this can at 11 o'clock. Me speaks the usual
house which is now one of the The first impression of the at home of what you think is a be accredited to his knowledge of words of welcome and then intro-
many NBC-TV studios in New theatre was quite different from portion of the mai floor studio the technical aspects of television, uces the members of the cast
Tork. There were about fifty what I had expected. The left side audience you are actually seeing an attribute very few performers
Yeoplk.wtingere ine in fontyaisle was the same as any other all the people seated on the main possess. ALMOST immediately questions
people eaiting in line in front theatre, a normal row of theatre floor. This asset sometimes proves to are thrown at him from mem-
seats. The left middle aisle wsc be annoying for his technical crew. bers of the studio audience. "Who's
them was a sign whieh read "To- only four seats wide. The 'area HE stage is actually "L" shaped, Instead of listening for directions going to be on the Sunday night
night starring Steve Allen," filled with the rest of that aisle the base of the L being the Allen many times told the director program this week?" "How's Ed
regular stage area and the con- what cameras he should use, how Sullivan feeling?" to which Allen
verted seat section forming the the lights should be arranged, how answered "I guess he's alright from
stem of the L. the props should be placed and in what I've read in the papers."
This specially constructed stage a few instances even corrected the "Where's Jayne?", referring to
explaiswhyAlen canhav'asituation himself. Mrs. Allen. "How can I get tickets
'xlin hy Aln anhave atoheudynghshw"n
basketball game right in the studio Allen rehearses very little of the to the Sunday night sho?" In
and why singers can turn around show himself. Most of the rehear- reply to this question Allen sent
LW 3 after completing a song and ap- sal is devoted to the guests or the one of his aides to the person who
pear to walk down a street that is musical numbers. Allen only re- asked the question with two tickets
a block long, a. shot frequently hearses commercials and his plan- for the Sunday night showi s
miscd on the Allen show. ncd comedy routines. This particular night 'as the
TheA night the Republican convention
The glass-enclosed control room On this parteular nght Allen's ran overtime so "Tonight" couldn't
was at the rear of the part of the comedy routine was a satire on
B !rrh never state whic had replaced the seats. the amazing Dunniger. It imvolved t h eual11:20fpwm m
The customary lights, cameras and the assistance of Skitch, Andy and utes to exchange repartee with the
other television equipment stood Pat, who would be seated in the u ec
idle on the stage. audiece nd hae their mi At 11:40 Allen went backstage
read by Allen.
Allen's desk, what they call again and President Eisenhower's
"homebase" for the program, as entire dialogue s itt convention address went on the
located at the extreme left of the l monitors for the benefit of the
regular stage with the back to the on the teleprompter as are all
side wall. Thus, when Allen is of the commercials. There wasa
sitting at his desk he is facing the' even a teleprompter facing the
right side wall, and not the studio seats so Skitch, Andy and Pat 'fidnpgh ad te ketat
audiencewould not have to memorize theirinecope
recordisngs of the full network hour
lines. Allen cc.d inst of the lines~ (12 to 1) had to be made for the
A MUSICAL trio, appearimg as of the sequence during the re- cities which receive the program
guests on the show, was prac- hearsal but inserts "ring ding a ceek late. Most of the studio
ticing a number in the middle of ding" for the words of the punch- audience was unaware of this fact.
the stage. The cameramen and lines. This is so the cameramen, At 11:55 Allen asks all those in
other technicians were now filing: pages and other crew present at favor of continuing to watch Pres-
min one by one. the rehearsal will not know the ident Eisenhower to applaud. Si-
By 9:30 the members of Skitch planned jokes beforehand and hence. He then asks all those in
Henderson's band had assembled they, too, might laugh at the jokes favor of starting the show to ap-
and by 9:35 Henderson had arrived when they are told on the air. plaud. The noise was deafening.
on the scene. Andy Williams Pat During the entire rehearsal Brian These people are not un-partri-
Kirby and Allen's writers and staff was running up and down stairs, otic nor were they all good Demo-
were also present by this time. playing hide and seek with the crats. They're jist loyal Steve Al-
A general feeling of joviality writers and telling jokes.
prevails among the crew, especially At 10:45 Allen goes backstage len fans,
before Allen arrives. and the ushers leave the crowd, Up to this time it had never ap-
Allen enters from the backstage most of whom have been waiting peared that the show was ready
area at about 9:40 accompanied by for at least an hour, into the to begin. Even a *.lf-minute be-
his son Brian. Immediately the theatre. fore midnight people were still
attention of everyone in the stage It was interesting to notice the walking around on the stage, mu-
area focuses on "the boss." Four looks of astonishment on the faces sicians were tuning their instru-
men, presumably his aides, rush of many of the people who had the ments and there was a complete
'to Allen and await orders, same impression of the first floor feeling of relaxation.
* 300 Allen sits down at his desk and of the theatre as I had. Then the resounding drum roll,
a uto mna tic watpro jector thumbs through a magazine while Of course for a handful of the the announcer saying "The Na-
Brian begins to play with one of guests this was just another night tional Broadcasting Company pre-
the many toys piled on Allen's at the "Tonight" show. They walk sents" and everyone is in place as
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... 11:55 p.ui., the noise was deafening

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