The Merv Griffin Show
|The Merv Griffin Show|
|Written by||Jerry Bresler
|Directed by||Dick Carson|
|Presented by||Merv Griffin|
|Narrated by||Arthur Treacher
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||4855|
|Executive producer(s)||Merv Griffin
David S. Williger
|Running time||45–48 minutes|
|Production company(s)||NBC (1962–1963)
Merv Griffin Productions (1965–69; 1972–84)
Merv Griffin Enterprises (1984–1986)
|Distributor||Group W Productions (1965–1969)
Metromedia Producers Corporation (1972–1983)
King World Productions (1983–86)
Camelot Entertainment Sales (1983–86)
|Original release||October 1, 1962– June 6, 1986|
The Merv Griffin Show was an American television talk show, starring Merv Griffin. The series ran from October 1, 1962 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.
After a short run on NBC from October 1962 to 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 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's television group 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). The show was canceled later that year; by that time, distribution moved to King World Productions, which acquired the show from Metromedia in 1983. In New York City, the show moved to WOR-TV, Los Angeles the show went to 9 KHJ-TV, and in Washington, DC to WFTY on April 14, 1986 and ran through its final episode on September 5, 1986.
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.
Reelin' In the Years Productions now handles all rights to the series on behalf of The Griffin Group. 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
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 was a feature in the plot of 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 Griffin, 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 mash-up of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Awards and nominations
|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|
- "New NBC show quickly nets 19 advertisers". Broadcasting: p. 30. 1961-07-23.