Share this site - Email/Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest

A Super Seventies RockSite! EXTRA!

 A Carol Burnett Show Reunion

Blacklight Bar

The three surviving members of the classic 1967-1978
comedy variety series reminisce about good times.

By Henry Goldblatt in Entertainment Weekly

Tim Conway, Carol Burnett, Vicki Lawrencehe ear tug, the Tarzan yell, the riotous spoof of Gone With the Wind, complete with the most awesomely ridiculous gown ever made from curtains and a rod. The Carol Burnett Show, which ran on CBS for 11 years and produced 278 episodes, is responsible for some of the funniest and most enduring TV moments of the 20th century. Few shows since have been able to duplicate Burnett's comedic recipe: physical and broad, yet sly and sophisticated. And to think it almost didn't happen. "CBS did not want to put me on the air in a variety show because they said it's a man's game," Burnett recalls. "They said no woman has ever had a comedy variety show, but I had it in my contract that they had to give me one. They tried to talk me out of it -- to do a sitcom. But I said variety is what I know and love -- to do different characters every week." The characters, be it Mama from the "Family" sketches or Mr. Tudball and Mrs. Wiggins ("a person who the IQ fairy never visited," quips Burnett), are indelible to both viewers and the cast. "I have such fond memories of the show -- not The Carol Burnett Show, other shows that I've done," Tim Conway jokes. We asked the three of the surviving members of the troupe, Burnett, Conway, and Vicki Lawrence (Harvey Korman passed away in 2008), to share some of their favorite behind-the-scenes stories.

Carol Burnett in Gone With the Wind curtain rod dressCAROL BURNETT ON THE GONE WITH THE WIND SPOOF
When I got my own show, I thought, "I want to do takeoffs of some of the movies I loved as a kid." I remember [the sketch] had first been written that I would come downstairs with the draperies just hanging on me. I went to costume fittings and [the show's costume designer] Bob Mackie said, "I have an idea, come here," and I went into the dressing room and there was the curtain rod with the draperies on it. And I fell to the floor. Of course, that was one of the longest -- if not the longest -- laughs we ever had on the show.

TIM CONWAY ON HIS "OLD MAN" CHARACTER
Carol gave us the opportunity to do whatever we wanted on the show, which was always great because we would surprise not only the audience but her, too. There were so many things we did on the air that were never done until we actually did them for taping. One was the Old Man. When we got the script that week, Harvey said, "Wait a minute. He's not doing an old man. I do the best old man there is." So all week, Harvey is saying, "What are you going to do as an old man?" and I said, "I have no idea." And I didn't. I really didn't do that shuffle with the Old Man until we were actually taping the shows. When I started shuffling across the room, I noticed the rug was gathering in front of me and I thought, "Jeez, if they let this go, we're going to be here for three days." But they let it go and it was created out of air.

VICKI LAWRENCE ON THE CREATION OF MAMA
The writers who wrote the sketches hated their mothers. It was sort of like an homage to these horrible dysfunctional families they came from. They lovingly wrote Mama for Carol, and they had figured we'd have a guest star play Eunice. But when Carol saw the final draft of the sketch, Eunice just totally spoke to her upbringing. So she gave me Mama. She wanted to play Eunice -- that pissed the writers off. She wanted to do it Southern -- that pissed the writers off. They just figured we had ruined the whole thing. They said, "You're going to offend half the country." An on the contrary, everybody loved it."

Today, all three comedians continue to perform for live audiences. Lawrence, 62, tours with her production of Vicki Lawrence and Mama: A Two-Woman Show, where she tells autobiographical stories and then channels Mama to riff on current events. Conway, 77, is often on the road with this Tim Conway & Friends tour, reprising characters such as his diminutive golf golf instructor Dorf. Burnett, 78 -- who appears in Laughter and Reflection with Carol Burnett, a free-flowing Q&A session with the audience -- guest-starred on Glee in the 2010 season as Sue Sylvester's Nazi-hunting mother and is working on a book about her daughter, Carrie Hamilton, who passed away from cancer almost 10 years ago. (Tour dates are available on vickilawrence.com, timconway.com, and carolburnettfan.com.)

It's hard to imagine that anything like The Carol Burnett Show will air on TV ever again. The cost would be prohibitive - the show employed a 28-piece orchestra, and designer Mackie led a team of seamstresses who were making 60 to 80 outfits per week. And to find a star with Burnett's repertoire of considerable talents -- comedian, singer, dancer, actor -- seems impossible. To everybody except Conway, that is, who deadpans, "Maybe the Kardashians."  




 Livin' On the Edge

Blacklight Bar

Aerosmith frontman and 'American Idol' judge Steven Tyler delivers
a no-holds-barred, ripsnorting (and rail-snorting) memoir that's a
crazy excursion into his entertaining mind.

Does The Noise In My Head Bother You?:
A Rock 'n' Roll Memoir

Steven Tyler
Memoir

By Clark Collis in Entertainment Weekly

Steven Tyler - Does The Noise In My Head Bother Yout is a tad ironic that while CBS chased Charlie Sheen out of network town last year for his extracurricular shenanigans, Fox hired Steven Tyler as an American Idol judge in large part because of his bad-boy rep. Moreover, as the anecdote-packed memoir Does The Noise In My Head Bother You? from the Aerosmith frontman reveals, not all of Tyler's debaucherous days are distant memories. Aerosmith's 1997 autobiography Walk This Way ends with the once notoriously party-happy band transformed into poster boys for sobriety. This book concludes with Tyler securing the Idol gig in 2010, but the singer recalls how, less than 12 months before, he accidentally ruptured a package of cocaine in the New York apartment of his (absent) daughter Liv. Drug addicts of a waste-not-want-not disposition -- which is to say, all drug addicts -- will be glad to know that Tyler "snorted it all up, off the counters and everywhere, and got a nice f---ing rail out of it."

No, this book is most definitely not for young American Idol fans, and we haven't even detailed Tyler's many explicit ruminations of the subject of sex. Nor shall we. Suffice it to say, if young Idol fans did get hold of a copy, they might well deduce that the singer is a huge lover of cats, preferably shaved ones. Even older readers may be left occasionally confused by Tyler's shaky grasp of his own history: The singer says he snorted acid at Woodstock, and then wonders in the next sentence, "Can you snort acid?" He also opens the book with the claim that he was raised by foxes (and not of the metaphorical variety).

Indeed, Tyler really does seem to have succeeded in maintaining the noisome contents of his noggin directly onto the page (with assistance from co-writer David Dalton). At one point the singer expresses his preference for a "f---ed-up" voice with a "ton of character." While that may or may not prove useful to American Idol contestants, it is certainly a fair description of the authorial tone to be found here. B+  

comments powered by Disqus






Nixon Icon  Best of EXTRA! | EXTRA! | Main Page | Seventies Single Spotlight | Search The RockSite/The Web