The Merv Griffin Show

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This article is about the television talk show. For the Seinfeld episode, see The Merv Griffin Show (Seinfeld).
The Merv Griffin Show
Genre Talk show
Written by Jerry Bresler
Ernest Chambers
Lyn Duddy
Directed by Dick Carson
Presented by Merv Griffin
Narrated by Arthur Treacher
Merv Griffin
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 4855
Production
Executive producer(s) Merv Griffin
Bob Murphy
Producer(s)

Ernest Chambers
David S. Williger

John Scura
Running time 45–48 minutes
Production company(s) NBC (1962–1963)
CBS (1969–1972)
Merv Griffin Productions (1965-1969; 1972-1984)
Merv Griffin Enterprises (1984–1986)
Distributor Group W Productions (1965–1969)
Metromedia Producers Corporation (1972–1983)
King World Productions (1983-1986)
Camelot Entertainment Sales (1983-1986)
Broadcast
Original channel NBC
(1962–1963)
Syndication
(1965–1969, 1972–1986)
CBS
(1969–1972)
Picture format Black-and-white
Color
Audio format Monaural
Original run October 1, 1962 (1962-10-01) – June 6, 1986 (1986-06-06)

The Merv Griffin Show is an American television talk show, starring Merv Griffin. The series ran from October 1, 1962[1] to March 29, 1963 on NBC, May 1965 to August 15, 1969 in first-run syndication, from August 18, 1969 to February 11, 1972 at 11:30 PM ET weeknights on CBS and again in first-run syndication from February 14, 1972 to September 5, 1986.

Series history[edit]

After a short run on NBC from October 1962 - March 1963, Merv Griffin launched a syndicated version of his talk show for the "Group W" division of Westinghouse Broadcasting. which made its debut in May 1965. The Merv Griffin Show aired in multiple time slots throughout North America (many stations ran it in the daytime, some broadcast it opposite Johnny Carson's The Tonight Show, and it was carried for many years in prime time on WNEW in New York). Stations had the option of carrying either a 60-minute or a 90-minute version. Merv's announcer-sidekick was the veteran British character actor Arthur Treacher, who had been his mentor. Treacher would introduce Griffin with the phrase: "...and now, here's the dear boy himself, Meeeer-vin!" after reading off the list of guests for that evening's show.

Seeing his strong ratings, CBS offered him a network series opposite the powerhouse Tonight Show, and his program moved there in the fall of 1969, with his debut guest lineup consisting of Hedy Lamarr, Ted Sorensen, Leslie Uggams, Moms Mabley, and Woody Allen. Although the series did well enough to quickly force the cancellation of another Carson competitor, ABC's The Joey Bishop Show, it was unable to make much of a dent in Carson's ratings. Furthermore, the network was uncomfortable with the guests Griffin wanted, who often spoke out against the Vietnam War and on other taboo topics. When political activist Abbie Hoffman was Griffin's guest in April 1970, CBS blurred the video of Hoffman so viewers at home would not see his trademark American flag pattern shirt, even though other guests had worn the same shirt in the past, uncensored, and Pat Boone appeared in an automobile commercial on that very broadcast wearing a similar flag-motif shirt.

That same year, Griffin relocated his show from New York to Los Angeles, but without sidekick Arthur Treacher, who told him "at my age, I don't want to move, especially to someplace that shakes". From that point on, Griffin would do the announcing himself, and walk on stage with the phrase: "And now..., here I come!"

However, Griffin's show continued to rank in second place behind Carson, even after the move. By early 1972, sensing that his time at CBS was ending, and tired of the restrictions imposed by the network, Griffin secretly signed a contract with rival company Metromedia. The contract with Metromedia would give him a syndication deal as soon as CBS canceled Griffin's show. Within a few months, Griffin was fired by CBS. His new show began the following Monday and proved to be more successful than its network counterpart, running until 1986.

While this was a second syndicated daily version, The Merv Griffin Show was seen on Los Angeles TV Station KTTV Channel 11 starting on February 14, 1972. His show was seen in prime time on all the owned Metromedia TV independent stations such as 5 WNEW-TV New York City, 5 WTTG Washington, D.C. as well as KTTV. The network affiliated network affiliated stations also ran Merv Griffin but in the daytime. When Metromedia acquired 19 WXIX Cincinnati in 1972 and 26 KRIV Houston in 1978, the show moved to those stations in the prime time slot. When Metromedia acquired 32 WFLD Chicago, the show was not on in the market and had not been since WSNS evolved from general entertainment to Subscription TV. Upon its 1983 acquisition, the show was put in prime time on WFLD. Also, when Metromedia acquired KNBN 33 Dallas, Texas from National Business Network in 1983, the Merv Griffin Show was plugged into prime time at 7 p.m., though the station remained Spanish most of the day from 3 p.m. on and Business News before 3 p.m. That station was renamed KRLD-TV in the Summer of 1984 and the station flipped to general entertainment and Merv was double run on that station.

Beginning in 1981, the Merv Griffin Show was cut back to just the hour long edition due to lack of interest in the 90 minute edition. Metromedia sold their television division including the production arm to Rupert Murdoch's 20th Century Fox. Fox continued to produce the Merv Griffin show until September 5, 1986. But they dropped the show from WNYW, WTTG, and KTTV on April 11, 1986 in favor of prime time movies from the 20th Century Fox film library which Fox acquired broadcast rights to run on their stations (with exception of movies owned by other stations in the market). Fox canceled the show later that year. In New York City, the show moved to 9 WOR-TV, Los Angeles the show went to 9 KHJ-TV, and in DC to 50WFTY on April 14, 1986 and ran through its final episode on September 5, 1986.

Overview[edit]

Merv’s warm, conversational style created the perfect atmosphere for conducting intelligent interviews that could be serious with some and light-hearted with others. Rather than interview a guest for a cursory 5- or 6-minute segment, Merv preferred lengthy, in-depth discussions with many stretching out past 30 minutes. In addition, Merv sometimes dedicated an entire show to a single person or topic, allowing for greater exploration of his guests’ personality and thoughts.

Merv’s idea of the perfect show was to have as many diverse guests as possible, from entertainers to scientists, Hollywood glamour to Vegas variety, and from comedians to political leaders. A perfect example lies in an episode from September 1965 which featured the zany comedienne Phyllis Diller followed by an interview with Capt. Mitsuo Fuchida, the Japanese navy officer who planned and led the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941— a truly unique moment in television history.

For over a quarter of a century, more than 25,000 guests appeared on "The Merv Griffin Show" including numerous significant cultural, political, social and musical icons of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Four U.S. Presidents -- Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan appeared, as did Dr. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Dr. Jonas Salk and Robert F. Kennedy. Legendary actors and directors who appeared on the program include Orson Welles, John Wayne, Doris Day (Griffin's longtime friend), Robert De Niro, Tom Cruise, Sophia Loren, George Clooney, Tom Hanks, Gene Wilder, Francis Ford Coppola, Dustin Hoffman, Clint Eastwood and Grace Kelly. Musical performers and composers ranging from Devo to Aretha Franklin with Andrew Lloyd Webber, Marvin Gaye, Merle Haggard, The Bee Gees and Johnny Cash all guesting. "The Merv Griffin Show" hosted Whitney Houston’s first TV appearance in 1983. Sports figures interviewed by Merv on the show include Muhammad Ali, Joe Namath, Roger Maris, Willie Mays and Reggie Jackson. In addition, many of the most important comedians of the era were on the show including early performances by George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Andy Kaufman, Steve Martin and Jerry Seinfeld, who made his TV debut on the show in 1981. Other notable guests that rarely made TV appearances showed up to talk to Merv include Andy Warhol, Norman Rockwell and Salvador Dalí.

Griffin's longtime bandleader was Mort Lindsey. Griffin frequently clowned and sang novelty songs with trumpter Jack Sheldon.

Reelin' In The Years Productions now handles all rights to the series on behalf of The Griffin Group of Companies. As of February 2014, 1,800 episodes, spanning over 2,000 hours of footage, have been located and preserved for future generations.

In popular culture[edit]

Seinfeld spoofed the show in Season 9, Episode 6, “The Merv Griffin Show,” in which Cosmo Kramer pretends that he hosts his own talk show using the discarded set from the show, which he sets up in his apartment.

Andy Kaufman's appearance on the show in a segment produced by John Scura was edited into the 1999 biopic Man on the Moon, with Griffin being played by character actor Mike Villani. The movie claims that all guests of the show receive an autographed photo of Mr. Merv Griffin, mainly as prizes on game shows), coupons, and Turtle Wax.

The Merv Griffin Show was parodied on Second City Television, with Griffin played by Rick Moranis. The sketches included a crossover with The Andy Griffith Show and a mashup of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Result Award Category Recipient Episode
1971 Nominated Golden Globe Award Best TV Actor - Musical/Comedy Merv Griffin
1970 Nominated Emmy Award Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction of a Variety, Musical or Dramatic Program Mort Lindsey Episode from Las Vegas featuring Chuck Connors, Joey Heatherton, Buddy Greco and Jack E. Leonard
1971 Nominated Emmy Award Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction of a Variety, Musical or Dramatic Program Mort Lindsey For episode "Big Band Salute" (Part 1 and 2)
1976 Nominated Emmy Award Outstanding Individual Achievement in Daytime Programming Richard W. Wilson For episode with Tony Bennett, Peggy Lee, and Fred Astaire
1974 Nominated Daytime Emmy Awards Best Individual Director for a Talk, Service or Variety Program Ron Appling For episode with Clint Eastwood, Forrest Tucker and Stanley Myron Handleman
Nominated Daytime Emmy Awards Best Host or Hostess in a Talk, Service, or Variety Series Merv Griffin
Won Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Talk, Service or Variety Series Bob Murphy
Won Daytime Emmy Awards Best Writing for a Talk, Service or Variety Program Tony Garafalo, Bob Murphy, Merv Griffin For episode with Billie Jean King, Mark Spitz, Hank Aaron, and Johnny Unitas
Won Daytime Emmy Awards Best Individual Director for a Talk, Service or Variety Program Dick Carson For episode with Rosemary Clooney, Helen O'Connell, Fran Warren, and Kay Starr
1975 Won Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Individual Director for a Daytime Variety Program Dick Carson For episode with Robert Goulet, Louis Prima, and Shecky Greene
1976 Nominated Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Host or Hostess in a Talk, Service or Variety Series Merv Griffin
1977 Nominated Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Individual Director for a Daytime Variety Program Dick Carson For episode "Merv Griffin in Israel"
Nominated Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Host or Hostess in a Talk, Service or Variety Series Merv Griffin
Won Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Talk, Service or Variety Series Bob Murphy
1978 Nominated Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Talk, Service or Variety Series Bob Murphy
1981 Won Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Variety Series Peter Barsocchini
1982 Won Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Host or Hostess in a Variety Series Merv Griffin
1983 Won Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Variety Series Peter Barsocchini
Won Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Individual Direction for a Variety Show Dick Carson
1984 Won Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Variety Series Bob Murphy and Peter Barsocchini
Won Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Host or Hostess in a Variety Series Merv Griffin
1985 Won Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Directing in a Talk/Service Show Dick Carson

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "New NBC show quickly nets 19 advertisers". Broadcasting: p. 30. 1961-07-23. 

External links[edit]