Friday, September 14, 2007
A rare look at Fred Thompson's early career
Below is a video clip of Fred Thompson, now one of the leading contenders for the Republican presidential nomination, when he went by the stage name of Edgar Buchanan.
It's the opening of the old sitcom, “Petticoat Junction,” and Fred (Edgar) plays Uncle Joe.
Now, as a student of television, as I indeed am, here's some genuine trivia factoids for you:
The dog in it was the mother of famous movie dog, Benji.
And Petticoat Junction, now occasionally seen on TV Land and Nick at Nite, was one of the many classic “rural” shows that aired on CBS back in the 1960s and 70s, including Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, Mayberry RFD and The Andy Griffith Show.
Even though those shows had amazing ratings, the demographics weren't so good, and CBS canceled them practically in one fell swoop in a bid to improve its demos. In fact, Griffith once joked that CBS woke up one day and canceled every show that had a tree in it.
Seriously, those shows were regularly getting 40 and 50 million viewers each. Today, a network would KILL to get numbers like that.
CBS went into the syndication business with these shows as the backbone. Its syndication unit eventually split off from the network and was called Viacom.
Viacom became fabulously rich and started acquiring companies, including MTV Networks, Paramount, and – ironically – CBS itself.
Even more irony, the MTV nets include Nick at Nite and TV Land, which air a lot of the old CBS shows. It's all very incestuous.
But, hey, at least that wacky period of pop culture gave us Sen. Fred Thompson (Uncle Joe, he's moving kind of slow at the Junction – Petticoat Junction).
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