Old program formats never die
LIKE SOLDIERS, old TV program formats never die. They just lie low for a while, then reappear in altered and updated form, to (hopefully) delight a new generation of televiewers.
On local TV today, comebacking formats include the “Tawag ng Tanghalan” singing tilt, “Name That Tune” and “What’s My Line?” variants on several programs, the “higher-lower” price guessing game from “The Price Is Right”—etc.
TV singing tilts, both foreign and local, are in plentiful supply on our screens, because they’re generally economical to produce. All you need are exceptionally talented unknowns, celebrity judges, “hyper” hosts, attractive prizes (most of them “exchange deals”), and you have a potentially hit show. —Especially in this country, where most everybody can sing well—and more than a few sing splendidly!
For personal proof of this, we were once tapped to judge the finals of a rather small sing-along joint—and all of the finalists were (ahem) “world class!”
It turns out that the radio then TV singing tilt was a popular program type as far back as the 1940s and ’50s. One of the first singing competitions was “The Ted Mack Amateur Hour.” In only 30 minutes, it fielded six unknown hopefuls, mostly singers, instrumentalists and dancers, who won not just the attractive prizes at stake, but national attention—and, for some of them, show biz stardom!
Another pioneering talent show was “Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts,” which fielded auditioners to different parts of the United States, and gave their very best discoveries attention and acclaim on radio and television.
The show was such an effective and persuasive vetter of authentic talent that it provided the most attention-calling platform and vehicle for many “stars of tomorrow.”
Its impressive roster of stellar discoveries includes (deep breath) Pat Boone, the McGuire Sisters, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Vic Damone, Eddie Fisher, Connie Francis and Steve Lawrence!
Godfrey also loved to laugh, so his show made it a point to discover young comedians who would similarly attain stardom—like Lenny Bruce, Don Knotts and Wally Cox.
—Would that today’s updated TV singing tilts were as productive and prolific!