Solid Gold (TV series)

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Solid Gold
Created by Alfred Masini
Developed by Bob Banner
Presented by Dionne Warwick (1980-1981, 1985-1986)
Marilyn McCoo (1981-1984, 1986-1988)
Andy Gibb (1981-1982)
Rex Smith (1982-1983)
Rick Dees (1984-1985)
Nina Blackwood (1986-1988)
Arsenio Hall (1986-1988)
Narrated by Robert W. Morgan (1980-1986)
Charlie O'Donnell (1986-1987)
John Harlan (1987-1988)
Opening theme "Solid Gold Theme"
music by
Michael Miller
lyrics by
Dean Pitchford
Ending theme "Solid Gold Theme"
music by
Michael Miller
lyrics by
Dean Pitchford
sung by
Dionne Warwick (1980-1981, 1985-1986)
Marilyn McCoo & Andy Gibb (1981-1982)
Marilyn McCoo & Rex Smith (1982-1983)
Marilyn McCoo (1983-1984)
Deborah Davis (1984-1985)
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 8
No. of episodes 332
Production
Running time 60 minutes
Production company(s) Brad Lachman Productions
Bob Banner Associates (1980-1984)
Operation Prime Time (1980-1987)
Paramount Television Service (1980-1981)
Paramount Domestic Television (1981-1988)
Distributor Paramount Television Service (1980-1981)
Paramount Domestic Television (1981-1988)
CBS Television Distribution (current)
Broadcast
Original channel Syndicated
Audio format Monaural (1980-1984)
Stereo (1984-1988)
Original run September 13, 1980  – July 23, 1988

Solid Gold is an American syndicated music television series that debuted on September 13, 1980. Like many other shows of its genre, such as American Bandstand, Solid Gold featured musical performances and various other elements such as music videos. What set Solid Gold apart was a group of dancers in revealing costumes who at various points in the program performed various (and sometimes borderline risqué) dances to the top ten hits of the week. Many other specials aired in which the dancers would dance to older pop hits as well. Reviews of the show were not always positive, with The New York Times referring to it as "the pop music show that is its own parody...[enacting] mini-dramas...of covetousness, lust and aerobic toning--routines that typically have a minimal connection with the songs that back them up."[1]

The series ran until July 23, 1988 and was usually broadcast on Saturdays in the early evening. In 1986, Solid Gold added the current year to its title, so in the seventh season the show was known as Solid Gold '86/'87. For the eighth and last season the program became known as Solid Gold In Concert, reflecting the addition of more live performances than had previously been featured on the program in the past.

Production background[edit]

Solid Gold, which Al Masini had created as part of his Operation Prime Time production unit and which Bob Banner had developed for the same purpose, was produced by Brad Lachman Productions for all eight of its seasons and Bob Banner Associates for its first four, after which Banner's company began producing Star Search for Television Program Enterprises, Masini's other production company.

Solid Gold was packaged by Operation Prime Time (which was a co-venture of Masini and Universal Pictures through its MCA Television unit) and Paramount Television, and was distributed by the remains of Paramount Television Service for its first season. Paramount's syndication unit took over distributor ship for the remaining six seasons. Operation Prime Time continued to produce Solid Gold until Masini elected to merge it with Television Program Enterprises in 1987 (TPE did not, however, share in any distribution or packaging as Paramount assumed that themselves).

From its debut in 1980 until the end of its fourth season, the show was taped at the Golden West Broadcasters studio facility. Beginning in September 1984, Paramount, who had previously owned the Golden West facility in the early days of television, moved production of Solid Gold to its studios with a redesigned set.

At the start of Solid Gold's first season (1980), Michael Miller was chosen by its first host, Dionne Warwick, to be the show's musical director. Miller stayed on for the entire series and composed the theme song for Solid Gold with Academy Award winning songwriter Dean Pitchford providing the lyrics. The song, re-recorded various times to reflect current music trends, was performed by the show's hosts (with the exception of the 1984-85 season) at the beginning and end of each program, with the closing theme accompanied by a final routine from the Dancers.

History and format overview[edit]

Year-end Top 40 countdown shows[edit]

The first episode of the show in January of 1980 would become a yearly tradition, as they counted down the Top 50 songs of 1979 in a two-hour television pilot special, called Solid Gold '79, hosted by Dionne Warwick and Glen Campbell. Every year thereafter through 1986, they would host a two-hour year-end Top 40 countdown show. All chart information for the Solid Gold countdowns was taken from the Radio & Records magazine chart lists, which only tracked airplay. As such, the placement of singles on Solid Gold usually did not match Billboard's placement; at the time, Billboard did not have an airplay chart and singles were strictly limited to the magazine's Hot 100 list.

Solid Gold started as a weekly series in the fall of 1980. In the summer of 1984, the producers of Solid Gold added a daily 30-minute series called Solid Gold Hits to the weekend program. Actor Grant Goodeve presided over a general grouping of the week's hit songs and a second set of Solid Gold Dancers was employed for this series led by Solid Gold regular Deborah Jennsen.

Performers/personalities[edit]

Hosts and announcers[edit]

Dionne Warwick and comedian Marty Cohen hosted the first season of Solid Gold, but neither returned for its second season. In their places were singers Andy Gibb, The Bee Gees' younger brother, and The 5th Dimension's Marilyn McCoo, who had forged a successful solo career. This pairing, as with the previous one, only lasted one season as Gibb departed. Puppeteer Wayland Flowers and his puppet Madame were part of the second season's comedy skits. Singer Rex Smith joined McCoo for the 1982-83 season and she hosted by herself for a fourth season in 1983-84. Following that season McCoo departed the series and was replaced by Weekly Top 40 radio host and DJ Rick Dees. However, Dees did not last the entire season. Beginning in early 1985 and continuing for the rest of the season, a rotating guest host arrangement was employed.

Warwick returned to host in the fall of 1985, but once again only lasted one season before giving way to a returning McCoo in 1986. She was joined by original MTV VJ and then-Entertainment Tonight correspondent Nina Blackwood and comedian and future late night host Arsenio Hall, who hosted the remaining two seasons of Solid Gold. Hall had, in fact, taken over for Marty Cohen as the in-house comedian; Jeff Altman had succeeded him.

For the first six seasons of Solid Gold, Los Angeles area DJ Robert W. Morgan was the show's announcer. He was replaced in September 1986 by former Wheel of Fortune announcer Charlie O'Donnell. At the time, in addition to his game show announcing duties for Barris Industries and The $100,000 Pyramid O'Donnell was announcing for another weekend music program, ABC's American Bandstand, with which Solid Gold had many similarities. For the final Solid Gold In Concert season, veteran game show announcer John Harlan served as the announcer. American Bandstand moved into syndication in September 1987 and O'Donnell chose to keep his position on Bandstand instead of staying on Solid Gold.[citation needed]

The Solid Gold Dancers[edit]

The weekly one-hour show played segments from the Top 10 charting songs accompanied by the Solid Gold Dancers. Of the eight original Solid Gold '79 dancers, only four would join the Solid Gold series cast: Darcel Wynne, who would be the program's principal dancer for its first five years, Deborah Jennsen, Paula Beyers, and Alexander Cole. Gayle Crofoot would join the roster in late fall of 1982, replacing dancer Lucinda Dickey.

A number of the dancers have moved on to notable acting careers, including Dickey (Ninja III: The Domination). Tony Fields in the 1986 horror movie, Trick or Treat (as dead rock icon Sammi Curr). Perhaps the most outstanding example of this is Chelsea Field, whose movie credits include Commando (as an airline stewardess), Masters of the Universe (she was Teela), and The Last Boy Scout (as Bruce Willis's philandering ex-wife).

Wynne appeared on the show from 1980 to 1984, but she took most of the 1984-1985 season off and rejoined the roster for the 1985-1986 season. In 1986, Wynne had many speaking roles on Solid Gold, regularly announcing the countdown re-caps towards the end of the show. Wynne and most of the other dancers left the program at the end of that season. The last appearance of the Solid Gold Dancers in media was not on Solid Gold itself, but rather in the 1988 motion picture Scrooged. The movie, which premiered in November 1988, was scripted and filmed before Solid Gold was officially cancelled.[citation needed] On January 4, 2011, three of the Solid Gold Dancers (Wynne, Deborah Jenssen & Lezlie Mogell) appeared together for the first time in almost 23 years as they competed on the new TV show Live to Dance. They advanced to the next round of competition.[citation needed]

The choreographers who plotted out the dancers' routines over the years included Kevin Carlisle, Anita Mann and Lester Wilson (the choreographer for Saturday Night Fever).

Guest performers and the usage of the Top 10[edit]

At times, artists who had a single among the week's Top 10 appeared as guest performers. Often the vocals were lip-synchronized ("lip-synched"). For the live performances, Miller would either record the backing instrumental tracks with his Solid Gold Band or with the artist's band and be sung live on stage at the taping. Arguably one of the more prominent guests to receive this treatment was Joe Cocker, who performed "Up Where We Belong" on Solid Gold several times with Jennifer Warnes, as well as one solo performance of his song "Seven Days." All the duets that Warwick, McCoo, Gibb, or Smith performed with their guest hosts were done live.[citation needed] During the 1986-1987 season, the Top 10 was no longer accompanied with dancing from the Solid Gold Dancers but instead was simply listed halfway through the show.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Solid Gold won Robert A. Dickinson three Primetime Emmy Awards for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lighting Direction|Outstanding Lighting Direction (Electronic) for a Series (two of which were co-won by Frank Olivas). Choreographer Anita Mann was nominated in 1985 and 1986, for Outstanding Choreography.

Pop culture references[edit]

  • A September 2007 episode of Saturday Night Live featured a satirical promotion for a "Best of Solid Gold" DVD, with the announcer stating, "enjoy as the Solid Gold dancers sexy-shake it to some of the most undanceable songs ever written," before showing the dancers dancing to Starship's 1985 hit "We Built This City".
  • The animated internet talk show This Spartan Life features the "Solid Gold Elite Dancers" as the show's equivalent to a talent segment.
  • In an episode of The Golden Girls (Season 2-Episode 18-Aired: 2/14/1987) character Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur) finds out her new boyfriend is a priest. When he tells her she looks lovely in her low-cut, sequined blouse, she quips, "I look like the mother of a Solid Gold dancer!"
  • In the 1990 Babes episode, "Bend Me Shape Me," Darlene Gilbert (Susan Peretz) makes a reference to the show after seeing a workout tape that her sister Charlene (Wendie Jo Sperber) bought, saying that the instructor on the tape made them look like "Fellini's Solid Gold" while trying to follow her lead.
  • In a 3rd season episode of 30 Rock titled "The Ones", Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) mentions that her prom night ended with "Eating ice cream and watching Solid Gold in my basement."
  • In a 2nd season episode of The Cleveland Show titled "Cleveland Live", he introduces the show with "The Original Solid Gold Dancers."
  • In the 2001 film Evolution, Orlando Jones' character says, "Don't you snap at me, unless you want an angry Solid Gold dancer on your hands."
  • In episode 18 of the sixth season of Roseanne, Roseanne states she studied dancing "in [her] living room with the Solid Gold Dancers."
  • In multiple interviews, Teri Hatcher has declared that she was voted "Most Likely to Become a Solid Gold Dancer" by her graduating class in 1982.
  • On the Adult Swim show Black Dynamite, the title character claims that any dancer on Solid Gold can dance like Michael Jackson as an insult to Michael.

Episode status[edit]

All episodes of Solid Gold exist, including the 1979 pilot. VH1 aired episodes of this series for a brief time, as did The Family Channel in the mid-1990s. Neither CBS Television Distribution, CBS Home Entertainment nor Paramount Home Entertainment, however, had made them available on home video, DVD or Blu-ray as of 2014.

References[edit]

External links[edit]