Monday, June 18, 2012

Mega Stunts: Highwire Over Niagara Falls Live (2012) (TV)

Niagara Falls banks on Wallenda's tightrope stunt
By Rick Hampson, USA TODAY

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. – More than a century after stunters, hucksters and daredevils were banned from desecrating the world's most famous waterfall, a Flying Wallenda will walk a tightrope across the cataract in prime time on live national TV — with official permission and support.

It happens Friday night. Nik Wallenda, seventh-generation scion of the first family of the high wire, will try to become the first person in 116 years to walk over the Niagara River, and the first ever to cross so close to the mighty falls' thick mists and gusty winds.

In a testament to the economy's sluggishness and tourism's allure, the USA and Canada granted Wallenda an exception to the no-stunts policy. The supposed beneficiary is this beleaguered city of 50,000, which shares the falls' name and little else.

Once a scenic wonder, industrial colossus and honeymoon capital all wrapped in one, the city has over the past 50 years lost much of its industry, half its population and almost all its glamor. Yet now it's the site of the biggest high-wire act since Phillippe Petit walked between the World Trade Center towers in 1974.

"We've done it — boom! — a shot heard 'round the world," New York State Assemblyman John Ceretto said when the walk was approved this year. "Somebody might be out there and say, 'I want to invest in this city. They're on the move, they're thinking outside the box.' "

Wallenda himself is on message. "Not even Marilyn Monroe brought the attention here that I've brought," he says, referring to the star of the 1953 film Niagara. "Anyone who says this doesn't help Niagara Falls, they're fools."

He means critics such as Paul Gromosiak, a local naturalist and historian whose books include one on Niagara daredevils. He calls Wallenda's walk a step backward: "It's a distraction from an experience of nature. It reduces Niagara Falls to a backdrop."

In a nation whose basic economy is at best changing and at worst declining, Niagara Falls is one of many communities that have seen their future in the past:

•The legalization of gambling in Atlantic City in 1978 failed to alleviate urban blight in the faded resort. The city is betting on yet another casino, the Revel, which cost $2 billion and opened last month.

•Connersville, Ind., known a century ago as "Little Detroit" because of its importance to the auto industry, hoped to return to prosperity as the site of a plant where 1,500 workers would make high-tech police cars. But this year, the Energy Department denied Carbon Motors a $310 million loan, possibly killing the project.

Niagara Falls' own history includes wire walkers such as the Great Blondin, who crossed the Niagara Gorge in 1859 with his manager on his back. Maria Spelterini (1876) walked across backward wearing wicker peach baskets on her feet. Charles Cromwell (1884) sat on a chair on the wire. Clifford Calverly (1893) raced across in a record two minutes, 35 seconds.

None crossed anywhere near the falls itself. Yet Wallenda, whose wire is strung directly over them, may be hard pressed to enter this pantheon.

For months Wallenda promised a death-defying feat — "He's conquered fear!" Assemblyman Cerreto proclaimed. But a few weeks ago, ABC, which will televise the walk, insisted that Wallenda wear a harness tethering him to the wire. Wallenda says he'll go along because he needs sponsors to cover his costs, and sponsors generally don't want to be associated with the sight of someone falling to his death.

The dilemma is vintage Niagara Falls, where — because of the competing demands of industry, tourism and conservation — things often are not as they seem. A public power authority carefully modulates the flow of water over the falls, depending on the season or time of day, to suit visitors; the falls themselves, shaped by man as well as nature, are lit at night, sometimes in garish colors to mark an occasion.

From Canada, the view across the gorge is relatively natural. From America, there is a panorama of hotels, casinos, restaurants, pop museums, observation towers and a Ferris wheel.

"There's an Oz-like quality to what happens here," admits the mayor, Paul Dyster. "What's real? What's fake?"

Niagara Falls is a sucker for saviors. Nik Wallenda is not the first.

On the afternoon of Feb. 13, 2008, Eliot Spitzer, then governor of New York, came to talk with local leaders about how to revitalize the city.

Dyster was waiting when the governor's black Suburban pulled up outside the site of the meeting, Shorty's Ultimate Sports Bar and Grill. The governor's party came in and shook hands, but there was no governor. "He's still in the Suburban, making a call," an aide told Dyster. "He'll just be a minute."

After the meeting, Spitzer invited Dyster to come to Albany to discuss a menu of projects. A month later, Dyster's bags were packed when he heard the news: A federal prostitution investigation had led to Spitzer, known to the Emperors Club VIP escort service as "Client 9."

Soon Dyster learned the rest of the story: Just before the meeting Feb. 13 in Niagara Falls, according to wiretap logs, Spitzer called the escort service for an assignation that night at a Washington hotel. After the meeting, he called again and was told a woman would be waiting. "Great, OK," he said.

"What a disappointment!" says Gromosiak, the historian. "We were so happy we hugged him when he came here. We thought he was the right kind of governor for Niagara Falls."

There is no place like Niagara Falls. The nation's first state park was created here in 1883 to protect the falls from tourists and developers, but the city boomed on cheap water power and heavy industry.

After 1950, as its electro-chemical industry faded, the city began to fold. Attempts to reverse the decline, including the bulldozing of much of downtown and a series of white-elephant urban renewal projects, made things worse.

Then came Love Canal, the dumpsite-turned-residential neighborhood that was evacuated and declared a national disaster area after toxic chemicals started oozing from the ground in the late '70s.

Today, the city is old and poor; two of three residents subsist largely on welfare or Social Security, according to Census studies.

Even the Falls District, next to the state park, is pockmarked by empty lots, closed businesses and abandoned houses. Can Wallenda help change the city's luck? "For a weekend," Dyster says, "the world's attention will focus on Niagara Falls."

The world may not like what it sees, according to Ginger Strand, a cultural historian who has studied Niagara. "Everyone already knows all about the falls, but they don't realize how bad the city is," she says. "An American who arrives there is immediately appalled and embarrassed for the nation and hurries to the Canadian side."

Wallenda's walk will have one bit of unfortunate symbolism. Like many tourists, he'll start on the American side but wind up in Canada.

Nik Wallenda was 6 when he first saw Niagara Falls. He recalls his reaction: "I told my sister how amazing it would be to walk a tightrope across it."

Twenty-seven years later, he's perched on a practice wire 8 feet above a gambling casino parking lot in downtown Niagara Falls, talking about his falls' walk as if it were a fight and the falls was the opponent. "One of the things I enjoy is the challenge of Mother Nature," he says. Not only is he "battling this natural wonder," he says, "what I'm doing is a natural wonder. If not, there'd be 150 people behind me on the wire."

The wire is a 2-inch diameter steel cable, so much thicker than the 5/8-inch one Wallenda usually trods that "it feels like a sidewalk." He wears soft suede shoes made for him by his mother that are designed to grip the wire. He holds a 30-foot-long metal balancing pole.

Wallenda expects to take 30 to 40 minutes to cross the 1,800 feet from the American to the Canadian side of the falls, starting about 200 feet above the churning water at the base of Horseshoe Falls. Officials expect a crowd of at least 100,000. Four thousand free tickets to a viewing area in the state park were snapped up online in four minutes. Most people will watch from Canada, which has a better view of the falls. The Sheraton in Niagara Falls, Ont., has "wire walk packages" starting at $499.

Conservationists such as Gromosiak worry that Wallenda's walk will encourage other daredevils. Several who previously went over the falls in a barrel have indicated an interest in trying again, legally or illegally.

The sponsors of the bill that allowed the walk said it was a one-time affair. Anyway, Dyster says, "If we tried to do this every month, it would lose its special character." Stunting, he says, isn't sustainable — the crowd expects bigger and bigger risks.

The Wallendas are famous for working without a net. Two troupe members were killed in 1962, when a seven-person chair pyramid collapsed, and patriarch Karl (Nik's great-grandfather) died in a fall in 1978 at age 73. Only now it turns out that on Friday Nik will be leashed like a toddler to a parent.

Buffalo News columnist Rod Watson says the public was "duped" and hotels "should offer full refunds to anyone who cancels after finding out the death-defying feat they thought they were coming to see will be nothing of the sort."

No one is more dismissive of the tether than Wallenda, who says he will wear it because he has to, even though "I feel like I'm cheating" and the device invites failure: "If you think you can fall, you're more likely to. You have a different attitude." And it's not what his audience expects: "People don't watch NASCAR just to see a car race."

Of course, Wallenda could be setting the stage for an even more dramatic feat: to detach the tether once he's out on the wire, finish without it and dare ABC to do anything about it. He's said he'd have to be able to jettison the tether if he feels it's compromising his safety. "I have never in my life walked with a harness," Wallenda says. The weight of the tether, he jokes, "makes it feel like I'm dragging an anchor behind me.''

Some are rooting for him to drop the harness, TV contract or not. "I think as soon as he gets out there, he'll take it off," says Freddy Arnold, 49, a construction worker who was one of hundreds who came to watch Wallenda practice in the parking lot. "He can't let television tell him what to do." Wallenda says no. "I don't foresee that happening at this point. I have given ABC my word," he says

Wallenda says he needs the TV money to cover costs such as rigging, insurance and security. He's also trying to raise $50,000 online, offering to have lunch with $5,000 donors and to give a private tightrope walking lesson for $10,000.

But he says he's walking for challenge, not the money. No one ever made a fortune on a stunt at Niagara Falls.

Annie Taylor was the first person to ride over the falls in a barrel. She took the plunge on her 64th birthday in 1901, hoping to get rich or die trying. She failed on both counts, dying 20 years later in the county poorhouse, without enough money for a gravestone.

Mega Stunts: Highwire Over Niagara Falls Live (2012) (TV)
Hosts: Hanna Storm

Great Wallendas, The (1978) TV Movie

Lloyd Bridges stars as stubborn high-wire artist Karl Wallenda in the made-for-TV "The Great Wallendas". The famed family aerialist troupe suffered a tragic setback when, during a performance in Detroit on January 30, 1962, an accident caused the death of Karl's son-in-law and nephew, and the crippling of his own son. With grim determination, Karl insists that the Wallendas recreate their fatal "pyramid" routine. Despite several near-disasters, the Wallendas make a triumphant comeback in Fort Worth, Texas on November 19, 1963, which is faithfully recreated in this film under the supervision of the real Karl Wallenda. Also starring in this 2-hour film are Britt Ekland, Taina Elg, and genuine gymnast Cathy Rigby. "The Great Wallendas" premiered (in the timeslot usually reserved for The Wonderful World of Disney) on February 21, 1978. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

The Great Wallendas (1978) TV Movie
Cast: Britt Ekland, Bruce Ornstein, Cathy Rigby, Lloyd Bridges, Lucinda Bridges, Michael McGuire, Stephen Parr, Taina Elg, William Sadler

Friday, June 15, 2012

Some Enchanted Evening: Celebrating Oscar Hammerstein II (1995) (TV)

Musical tribute to lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth, through performances of songs he wrote with composers Jerome Kern and Richard Rodgers. Includes archival footage. 

Hosted by Julie Andrews, this episode of Great Performances is from Season 23, Episode 10 originally broadcast on March 6, 1995.

Some Enchanted Evening: Celebrating Oscar Hammerstein II (1995) (TV)
Cast: Julie Andrews, Peabo Bryson, Keith Carradine, Patti LaBelle, Audra McDonald, Lonette McKee

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Willie Nelson: The Big Six-0 (1993) (TV)

Willie Nelson Reflects On 60, With A Little Help From His Friends
By David Tarrant
Dallas Morning News

AUSTIN, Texas - Relaxing on his bus outside an Austin television studio, Willie Nelson sits at a small dining table, looking less like a legend and more like a man who just slipped into a truck stop to order the No. 3 special. It is April 27. In two days Nelson turns the Big Six-O. He seems to be taking the event philosophically.

So, is there life after 60 for a long-haired, self-styled outlaw? Nelson grins. "Well, I don't know. I never figured I'd get this far. "Not only has he gotten this far - he is still shooting down a career path as twisting and turning as the Rio Grande.

In the last two months, he has released his promising new album, "Across the Borderline," which includes celebrity duets with Bonnie Raitt and Bob Dylan. He has also completed his sixth Farm Aid benefit, hosted "Saturday Night Live," and taped two concerts for a CBS special tribute to his birthday, which airs from 9-11 p.m. tomorrow. In the works are another album and possibly a movie role. All that, and a grueling 1993 concert schedule crowded with more than 200 dates, makes it easy to overlook the fact that Willie will soon be eligible for senior citizen discounts. "I never really thought that much about 60. But as you get closer to it, you start thinking more about it, especially since it's always been called `The Big Six-O.' It's supposed to be some goal you reach, and by the time you get there you're supposed to be. . . just about dead," he says with a soft chuckle. "And it's real funny when you get there and you're not." Nelson is one of the most famous and prolific singer-songwriters in history. Even if he had never recorded a single song in his life, he would have gone down in history as a legendary songwriter for penning classics such as Patsy Cline's "Crazy" and Ray Price's "Night Life" more than three decades ago. Songs like "On the Road Again" and "Always on My Mind," are among the most enduring and recognizable in American contemporary music.

He is a genuine Texas folk hero whose long reddish-gray hair, rolled head bandanna, crinkly, kind face and snowy beard seem as familiar as the carvings on Mount Rushmore. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, he was the Lone Star of country music - a colossus straddling pop and country charts strumming his battered 30-year-old Martin classical with the hole worn in it. He led young rock-'n'- roll fans out of the disco desert, and he was the spiritual leader of an old-guys brat pack with pals Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson, who made movies and mischief together. His legendary carousing, bacchanalian Fourth of July picnics and sneakers-and-T-shirt lifestyle fueled the vicarious dreams of fans who ranged from rednecks, hippies and homemakers to urban cowboys and office workers.

Then he hit an ugly patch of road. In 1990, the Internal Revenue Service smacked him with a bill for $16.7 million in back taxes, and he saw most of his property and possessions sold on the IRS auction block. He lost his son, Billy, who committed suicide on Christmas Day 1991 at age 33. Martha, his first wife and Billy's mother, had died in 1989. Even the National Enquirer ran a cover story reporting that he was considering suicide. Instead of being diminished by those personal tragedies and swings in fortune, Willie says he feels a sense of redemption for having survived them. "Those are some of the worst things that can happen to you. And they've already happened to you. "It's sort of like, what can you do to me now? And once you reach that point where it seems like you've been through the fires and you're still here, then that in itself is a miracle that you survived all these things. There's enough reason there for jubilation, I think, whether it's on your 20th birthday or your 60th, that you've made it that far." Copyright (c) 1993 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

Willie Nelson: The Big Six-0 (1993) (TV)
Cast: Tom Arnold, Clint Black, Edie Brickell, Gary Busey, Ray Charles, Bill Clinton, Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris,     Waylon Jennings, B.B. King, Kris Kristofferson, Lyle Lovett, Lou Diamond Phillips, Sydney Pollack, Willie Nelson

Fugitive Nights: Danger in the Desert (1993) TV Movie

And then, tomorrow night on NBC, there's "Fugitive Nights: Danger in the Desert," Mr. Wambaugh's adaptation of his own novel. The scene is Palm Springs, Calif.; the time: the present. The style: laid-back cynical. Breda Burrows (Teri Garr), just retired from the police force and putting a daughter through Stanford University, is opening a detective agency. Needing help on her first case, which involves a wife suspicious about her husband's dealings with a sperm bank, she enlists the help of a police detective, Lynn Cutter (Sam Elliott), an alcoholic marking time until medical retirement and pension.

Fastidiousness is obviously no longer of the moment. Lynn is usually hung over and spends a good deal of time vomiting. His conversation is curiously riddled with goofy allusions to current events: "I've got legs that function like Yugoslavia," or "This phone call has gone on longer than a Lebanese war." Breda is seemingly immune to his attempts at charm. "That's the most insincere smile this town has seen," she says, "since Tammy Faye Bakker moved out."

There is no great chain of being and authority in Mr. Wambaugh's world. Privilege as a concept doesn't sell. Second and third marriages are commonplace. Has-beens sit around bars talking about the golden age of movies ("Maybe my liver remembers," says Lynn). Good cops with bad luck commit suicide. Loneliness and old age loom menacingly. Working with an eager young cop (Thomas Haden Church of "Wings"), Lynn moans, "That kid makes me feel my age; around him, I'm polyester."

Fugitive Nights: Danger in the Desert (1993) TV Movie
Cast: Sam Elliott, Teri Garr, Thomas Haden Church

Tale of Two Bunnies, A (2000) TV Movie

Just in case anyone thought that the life of a Playboy Bunny was all toothy smiles and heavy tipping, this made-for-TV movie is a prime vessel of disillusion. Set in the early 1960s, the story follows a brace of small-town cuties, Holly (Marina Black) and Ruby (Julie Condra), who are among the first of well-endowed young ladies to land jobs as Bunnies (waitress dressed in revealing costumes, replete with rabbit-ear headgear and cotton tails) in the many Playboy "key" clubs dotting the landscape of the era. Our starry-eyed heroines are soon made to realize that the rules and regulations of the profession are strictly enforced--for example, woe betide the hapless Bunny who is caught chewing gum, or who forgets to point her tail in the direction of the person she is serving. While one of the girls becomes the protegee of tough but protective "Bunny mother" Miranda (Marilu Henner), the other buckles under to the temptations of wealthy customers and free-flowing liquor. One observer labelled this one as Valley of the Bunnies, while for cable-TV exposure the film was rechristened The Price of Beauty. Under its original cognomen, A Tale of Two Bunnies made its ABC network bow on March 20, 2000. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

A Tale of Two Bunnies (2000) TV Movie
Julie Condra, Marilu Henner, Marina Black, Mark Famiglietti, Rhea Perlman

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Country Music Crossroads (1988) (TV)

Great music knows no boundaries. CMT Crossroads shows the far-reaching roots of country music by pairing country artists with musicians from other genres. Each episode will feature a different set of stars playing together, swapping stories and sharing their common love of music.

In this compilation episode jointly hosted by The Oak Ridge Boys and Marie Osmond you'll see professional opera singer and soap opera actor Gary Morris prove that fashion is a bitch. Two nice ballads then on to Texas rocker Steve Earle, long hair and headband with a sleeveless black t-shirt making nice with the multi-generational country music audience by singing about a '66 Chevy. In another segment the legendary songwriter Harlan Howard introduces one of his proteges, Nancy Griffith who sings, "Never Mind", a new song by Mr. Howard. A couple of songs later Lee Greenwood sings a cover of The Four Tops hit, "Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch" and it's white like a snowstorm. Next is a little "Touch and Go Crazy" and then the great Ricky Scaggs takes the stage and it's "Bluegrass Time". After an intermission the young and beautiful Marie Osmond takes the stage with her band and sings a ballad called "I Only Wanted You" and it's just as pretty. Ms. Osmond is a '59er as am I (and my wife also) so I pretty much grew up with her and she's always been a big crush. After her stint she introduces one of the "new" country music stars, Randy Travis. Funny thing about Randy, he still looks the same today! Over 20 years later and his boyish good looks still ring true. Fun stuff even if the songs aren't recognizable, at least by this guy. The band Restless Hearts plays two of their hits before the boys from Oak Ridge take the stage to close the show with some of their four part harmonies. Good stuff and great nostalgic fun.

Country Music Crossroads (1988) (TV)
Hosts: The Oak Ridge Boys, Marie Osmond

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Concert for the Queen: A Diamond Jubilee Celebration (2012) (TV)

1.5 million cheer the Queen for her Diamond Jubilee celebration
By Mark Kennedy, Postmedia News June 5, 2012

LONDON — Boisterous celebrations marking the Queen's Diamond Jubilee came to an end Tuesday as Her Majesty appeared on a balcony at Buckingham Palace and waved her thanks to a cheering sea of an estimated 1.5 million people.

The ceremonial avenue known as The Mall leading up to the palace was packed with revellers — many waving the Union Jack and hoisting umbrellas to guard against the rain.

The Queen was joined by other members of the Royal Family, including Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, her grandsons, princes William and Harry, and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge — but not her husband, Prince Philip, who is in hospital.

It was one of the few grand state occasions in her life when he has not been present, taking some of the gloss off what has widely been seen as a triumphant diamond jubilee.

Overhead, the skies thundered with the flypast of 18 Royal Air Force planes in honour of the Queen. As the Queen's Guard shot their rifles into the air, the crowd joined together to sing God Save the Queen.

Soon thereafter, a pre-recorded address to the nation by the Queen was to be broadcast throughout Britain on TV and radio.

The finale came shortly after Queen Elizabeth's procession returned to the palace in a horse-drawn state landau Tuesday afternoon, as thousands of people lined the streets to catch a glimpse.

Earlier in the day, she participated in a religious service of thanksgiving attended by guests and foreign leaders, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The service was held at St. Paul's Cathedral, as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, gave a sermon honouring Queen Elizabeth for her 60 years on the throne.

"What we are marking today — the anniversary of one historic and very public act of dedication," he said.

"A dedication that has endured faithfully, calmly and generously through most of the adult lives of most of us here. We are marking six decades of living proof that public service is possible and that it is a place where happiness can be found."

Also in his homily, Williams made note of how the Bible stressed the importance of selflessness and sacrifice — qualities that the Queen had shown over the years.

"In all her public engagements, our Queen has shown a quality of joy in the happiness of others," he said.

The Queen, wearing a mint green dress, sat in the front row with other members of the Royal Family, with her husband, Prince Philip, notably absent. He was taken to hospital Monday as a "precaution" due to a bladder infection.

The couple's youngest son Prince Edward, who visited Philip in hospital, told reporters that his father was "getting better."

The palace said the outspoken prince will remain in hospital for several days and was "disappointed" to miss the celebrations, which he watched on television.

U.S. President Barack Obama also paid tribute to the Queen, describing her as "a steadfast ally, loyal friend and tireless leader."

"While many presidents have come and gone, your majesty's reign has endured," he said in a video message. "That makes your majesty both a living witness to the power of our alliance and a chief source of its resilience."

The monarch insisted on attending Monday's spectacular concert in front of the palace — which featured stars including Paul McCartney, Elton John and Stevie Wonder — despite Philip's ill health.

After the final set, Prince Charles urged the crowd to show their support, and they responded by raising a huge roar and chanting "Philip, Philip."

On Tuesday morning, the crowds began building up in London to watch the Queen as she made the trip in her Bentley vehicle from the palace to the cathedral. From her car seat, she waved to the crowds and smiled.

As she arrived at the cathedral, crowds chanted "God Save the Queen."

Inside, trumpets rang out and a choir sang as she walked into the cathedral — to be met by her son, Prince Charles, and grandsons William and Harry.

A wide array of Britain's leading politicians, including Prime Minister David Cameron, had already been seated — as had other members of the royal household.

Harper and his wife, Laureen, who arrived on the weekend for the celebrations were also present.

Also in the cathedral for the service were Canada's governor general, David Johnston and his wife, Sharon.

The service was held on the fourth day of celebrations throughout Britain. The highlights have included a rain-soaked flotilla of 1,000 boats down the River Thames on Sunday and a star-studded concert for the Queen on Monday evening at Buckingham Palace attended by thousands of people.

Concert for the Queen: A Diamond Jubilee Celebration (2012) (TV)
Host: Katie Couric

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Neil Sedaka in Concert - (1980) (TV)

From the days of the legendary SelecTV comes what must have been a very special in-home presentation. The year is a guess but it's got to be close, the star is simply odd or more accurately the star's wardrobe. With the man-cut jumpsuit in electric blue hiding who knows what, he leaps to the stage and the packed house goes crazy. Tons of good clean fun, like watching your dad sing.

Neil Sedaka in Concert - (1980) (TV)
Cast: Neil Sedaka

Friday, June 1, 2012

Happy Days Reunion Special (1992) (TV)

Reunion Days

There was a lot of hugging and crying when the cast of the long-running sitcom "Happy Days" reunited recently for "The Happy Days Reunion Special," airing Tuesday on ABC. "I was very moved because people said so many nice things about me," said Anson Williams (Potsie), who is a successful TV and film director. "I was just teary-eyed. I didn't realize how much they cared."

"It was like we never had left," said Tom Bosley, who played Mr. Cunningham.

"Happy Days" began 20 years ago as a sketch on ABC's "Love American Style." Created by director-writer Garry Marshall ("Pretty Woman"), the series premiered in January, 1974, and continued for 11 seasons. Reruns have been airing ever since in syndication.

Set in the 1950s, the comedy centered around an all-American family who lived in Milwaukee--Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham (Bosley and Marion Ross) and their children Richie (Ron Howard) and Joanie (Erin Moran). Henry Winkler was their leather jacketed friend Fonzie, the tough guy with a heart of gold. Williams and Donny Most played Richie's friends, Potsie and Ralph Malph; Scott Baio was Joanie's boyfriend, Chachi. After a shaky start in the ratings, "Happy Days" became the No. 1 show in 1976. The series also spawned the equally popular "Laverne & Shirley" and "Mork & Mindy," as well as the short-lived "Joanie Loves Chachi."

The 90-minute special, hosted by Winkler, features Marshall and several cast members, including Howard, who went on to become a successful feature film director ("Cocoon," "Parenthood"). The show will have the requisite clips from the series, plus Winkler's behind-the-scenes home movies.

Also included will be footage of the "Happy Days" softball team in action. "Our softball team is what kept us going for so long," said Ross, who stars on CBS' acclaimed "Brooklyn Bridge."

"We played all the National League fields," she said. "We played softball on the East German border and we played in Okinawa for eight days with the U.S. Marines. We beat the Marines. They had no idea we took it so seriously."

Baio, who stars in ABC's sitcom "Baby Talk," recalled when he first joined the series in 1977, he decided he didn't want to play baseball. "I wanted to sleep, to be perfectly honest," he said. He recalled that Marshall called a meeting with Baio and his father, who manages his career.

"I was petrified," Baio said. "I didn't know what he wanted. He sat behind the desk and very seriously said (to my father), 'The reason I like to do this show is that I get to play ball. Your son won't play with me.' I said, 'That's it?' Garry said, 'That's it.' I said, 'Of course, Garry. I would love to play.' He loved to play. He was our leader."

Though "Happy Days" was a success, the critics dismissed the series. "It never got any awards," said Bosley, who was most recently seen in "The Father Dowling Mysteries" series. "I think we won an Emmy for editing."

So why has "Happy Days" endured for nearly two decades?

"It was timeless," Bosley said. "It was about a time 20 years before and now it is coming up on 40 years before."

"It makes people think of what it must have been like at a very innocent time," Baio said. "It was fun. There was no crime and no war. Now (TV) is about shooting, killing, murdering and stabbing. I think people get fed up with it."

"The Happy Days Reunion Special" airs Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. on ABC. Reruns of "Happy Days" air Sundays at 6:35 a.m. and weekdays at 2 p.m. on TBS and Saturdays at 10 a.m. on KTLA.

Happy Days Reunion Special (1992) (TV)
Cast: Henry Winkler, Tom Bosley, Marion Ross, Ron Howard, Don Most, Anson Williams, Scott Baio, Pat Morita, Al Molinaro, Garry Marshall

Sammy Davis, Jr. 60th Anniversary Celebration (1990) (TV)

Hosted by Eddie Murphy this is a tribute to Sammy Davis, Jr., as the entertainer celebrates his sixtieth anniversary in show business. Taped before a live audience at the Shrine Auditorium in Hollywood. Includes clips of some of Davis's past appearances on television and film.

Sammy Davis, Jr. 60th Anniversary Celebration (1990) (TV)
Cast: Debbie Allen, Anita Baker, George Bush, Diahann Carroll, Nell Carter, Bill Cosby, Tony Danza, Sammy Davis Jr., Clint Eastwood, Lola Falana, Ella Fitzgerald, Goldie Hawn, Gregory Hines, Bob Hope, Whitney Houston, Jesse Jackson, Michael Jackson, Magic Johnson, Quincy Jones, Paula Kelly, Jerry Lewis, Shirley MacLaine, Dean Martin, Liza Minnelli, Eddie Murphy, Gregory Peck, Richard Pryor, Chita Rivera, Frank Sinatra, Mike Tyson, Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder

Evening at Pops - Sammy Davis, Jr. Tribute (1990) (TV)

This program is lovingly dedicated to the memory of Sammy Davis, Jr. 1925-1990.

A tribute to one of the finest entertainers of the last century. This was broadcast shortly after his passing.
Evening at Pops - Sammy Davis, Jr. Tribute (1990) (TV)
Cast: Sammy Davis, Jr., John Williams, Boston Pops Orchestra