America Goes Bananaz

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America Goes Bananaz
Michael Young on Columbus Goes Bananaz.png
Michael Young hosting the show.
Also known asColumbus Goes Bananaz
GenreVariety show
Created byBurt Dubrow
Developed byBurt Dubrow
Nyhl Henson
Presented byMichael Young (1977–78)
Randy Hamilton (1979)
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Production
Producer(s)Burt Dubrow
Production location(s)
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time45 minutes
Production company(s)Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment
Release
Original networkColumbus Alive (1977–79)
Nickelodeon (1979-1980)
Picture formatNTSC
Original releaseDecember 1, 1977 (1977-12-01) –
1980 (1980)

America Goes Bananaz is a teenager-oriented variety show presented by Michael Young and Randy Hamilton. It premiered locally on QUBE's C-1 channel in 1977, with the title Columbus Goes Bananaz. The series was renamed America Goes Bananaz in preparation for a move to then-upcoming youth-oriented national network Nickelodeon; all episodes aired from January 19, 1979 onward use this title.[1][2]

Early episodes of the show were broadcast live from the Westland Mall in Columbus, Ohio.[3] Some episodes incorporated the QUBE system's interactivity, having viewers decide which events they would like to see.[4] The series' interactive element was discontinued as the show went national, and episodes were taped in advance from 1979 until the show ended. Notable guest stars included Arnold Schwarzenegger,[5] Todd Rundgren,[5] the Sanford-Townsend Band,[5] Andy Kaufman,[6] and Bob Zmuda.[6]

Format[edit]

The format of America Goes Bananaz was modeled after the structure of The Mike Douglas Show, which producer Burt Dubrow worked on.[7] The concept was adjusted for a slightly younger audience, and the program was billed as having been "designed for the American adolescent."[8] Recurring segments on America Goes Bananaz included a karate feature hosted by Jay T. Will,[2] audience polls,[9] and advice columns allowing viewers to send the host requests for guidance.[10] Hip hop music sessions focusing on mature subjects, such as drugs and birth control, were also regularly shown in an effort to interest and educate a teenage target audience.[11] Guest speaker John Steinberg, a "consumer gadfly" notifying viewers of negative purchases like "record album rip-offs," often appeared.[10]

History[edit]

According to an interview with Philadelphia Daily News, original host Michael Young first learned of Columbus Goes Bananaz while in his lawyer's office in 1977. He had reportedly just discovered that he was being sued for a play he had co-produced with Herschel Bernardi.[12] Over the telephone, Young's agent informed him that Warner-Amex was holding auditions for a talk show host. Due to his lack of offers at the time, Young decided to try out for the job.[13] Among others auditioning to be the show's host was Tony Dow, whose well-known role as Wally Cleaver on Leave It to Beaver initially made Young believe that Dow would be chosen.[14] According to Young, Dow ultimately stated that Young deserved the role.[14]

The set of America Goes Bananaz during a 1979 taping.

Michael Young was selected and hosted the show for two years, until he moved to ABC's Kids Are People Too in 1979.[15] After Young's departure, actor Randy Hamilton was picked to take over as host.[16] Episodes with Hamilton were taped from January until September 1979.[17] In an event Randy Hamilton termed "an unusual coincidence", Hamilton was chosen as the new host of Kids Are People Too in 1981, after Michael Young quit. Hamilton was selected based on clips of his time as the Bananaz host, provided to ABC by producer Burt Dubrow.[16]

At the time of the program's debut, the preschool-oriented Pinwheel was the flagship property of QUBE's C-3 channel. When the C-3 channel was expanded and renamed Nickelodeon in 1979, Bananaz was broadcast on Nickelodeon as part of an initiative to create programming for all child age groups. Bananaz was integral to the formation of Nickelodeon, described by The Times as part of the channel's "nucleus" in 1980.[18]

Lew Anderson, portrayer of Clarabell the Clown on Howdy Doody from 1954–60, appeared in character as Clarabell on a 1978 episode. He broke a 25-year tradition by removing his face paint for teenagers in the audience who had watched Howdy Doody reruns as children. After the episode aired, Anderson stated that he "wouldn't have done it" if the audience had been young children as opposed to teenagers.[19]

Awards and nominations[edit]

In 1980, Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment and program creator Burt Dubrow received an "Excellence in Entertainment" award from the National Cable & Telecommunications Association for America Goes Bananaz.[20] Later the same year, the series received the ACE Award for "Best Entertainment Program."[21]

Year Presenter Award/Category Nominee Status Ref.
1980 NCTA Awards Excellence in Entertainment Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment Won [20]
ACE Awards Best Entertainment Program Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment
Burt Dubrow
Won [21]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dutton, William H. (May 1, 1987). Blumler, Jay; Kraemer, Kenneth (eds.). Wired Cities: Shaping the Future of Communications. Boston, Massachusetts: G. K. Hall & Co. p. 83. ISBN 0816118515.
  2. ^ a b "Karate Goes Bananaz". Black Belt. Vol. 17 no. 6. Active Interest Media. June 1979.
  3. ^ Alford, Bernard (1978). "Columbus Goes Bananaz: The QUBE Experiment in Ohio". The Great Lakes Review. Vol. 5. Northeastern Illinois University.
  4. ^ "Warner Cable's Qube: Exploring the outer reaches of two-way TV" (PDF). Broadcasting & Cable. Vol. 47. NewBay Media. July 31, 1978.
  5. ^ a b c Young, Michael; Dubrow, Burt (2010). "Interview with Michael Young and Burt Dubrow about QUBE, pt. 3" (Interview).
  6. ^ a b "A Look Back at Andy Kaufman". Open Culture. January 29, 2013.
  7. ^ Young, Michael; Dubrow, Burt (2010). "Interview with Michael Young and Burt Dubrow about QUBE, pt. 2" (Interview).
  8. ^ "Next week on TV". The Pantagraph. Bloomington, Illinois: Lee Enterprises. September 13, 1980.
  9. ^ Black, Jonathan (July 24, 1978). "Brave New World of Television: Columbus discovers QUBE". New Times. Village Voice Media.
  10. ^ a b Healon, James V. (May 19, 1979). Sheaffer, Liz (ed.). "Nickelodeon offers alternative TV fare". Medina County Gazette. Medina County, Ohio.
  11. ^ "Cable TV: The Lure of Diversity". Time. Vol. 113. Time Inc. May 7, 1979.
  12. ^ Bergman, Deborah (September 30, 1980). "TV Host: Kids Are Serious, Too". Philadelphia Daily News. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Philadelphia Media Network.
  13. ^ Bins, Chuck (March 1, 1980). "'Kids Are People, Too' host keeps show interesting". Oshkosh Northwestern. Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
  14. ^ a b Young, Michael; Dubrow, Burt (2010). "Interview with Michael Young and Burt Dubrow about QUBE, pt. 1" (Interview).
  15. ^ United Press International (December 17, 1978). "New host named for children's show". Star Tribune. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Star Tribune Media Company LLC.
  16. ^ a b Wilkinson, Bud (July 26, 1981). "Split personality: Actor divides his time between two networks". The Arizona Republic. Phoenix, Arizona: Gannett Company.
  17. ^ Roush, Matt (August 5, 1980). "'Texas' star knows town well". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Cincinnati, Ohio: Gannett Company.
  18. ^ Krenis, Lee (February 24, 1980). "Viewers get to talk back to their television sets". The Times. Shreveport, Louisiana: Gannett Company.
  19. ^ United Press International (April 5, 1978). "Clarabell removes his makeup". Defiance Crescent-News. Defiance, Ohio.
  20. ^ a b "NCTA Awards". Broadcasting & Cable. Vol. 49. NewBay Media. July 14, 1980.
  21. ^ a b "Nickelodeon wins awards from the toughest critics". Communications-Engineering Digest. Vol. 6. Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers. August 1980.