Monday, March 24, 2008

Mike Douglas -- the Ed Sullivan of daytime TV

Mike Douglas - Moments & Memories / John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Rolling Stones, Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Martin: Back in the '60s, there are a hard and fast rule in our house. Nothing but nothing interrupted "The Mike Douglas Show." (Forgive me, Mom!)
Looking back, however, it wasn't as bad of a thing as it seemed at the time. For one, Douglas, who got his start as a big band singer with Kay Kyser, was an easy-going guy who had a knack for bringing on great guests, some of them controversial. Folks like Bill Cosby, Steve Martin, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ingrid Bergman, Marlon Brando, Don Rickles, Rodney Dangerfield, Groucho Marx, Bob Hope and John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
Mike Douglas - Moments & Memories / John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Rolling Stones, Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Martin, a new single disc DVD from Kultur International being released March 25, recounts Douglas' story and collects highlights of many of those performances.
The clips are augmented by interviews, including fond recollections from Douglas' widow, Genevieve. (One fascinating fact about Douglas that we learned for the first time from the DVD: He was the voice of Prince Charming in Disney's "Cinderella.")
But it's the clips that are the real attraction here. There's an early rare clip of the Rolling Stones in black and white that is fascinating to watch as the camera alternates from the faces of the gyrating Stones performing to the fans in the audience screaming and carrying on wildly.
Another highlight is a clip featuring Bob Hope, who for years sponsored a major golf tournament in his name, watching a very young boy brought on the show for his early age talent for the game. The boy's name? Tiger Woods.
It's Jack Benny acting naturally and, as usual, making the audience roar with laughter. It's KISS acting up in front of the cameras and showing off their makeup and costumes to housewives who probably had never seen such a sight before. It's Steve Martin, David Letterman, Jay Leno and George Carlin display the early talent that brought them later fame. It's a rare interview with Mother Teresa, who even then brought an aura of saintliness with her. There's so much here to enjoy, including a clip of Douglas performing his Top 40 hit, "The Men In My Little Girl's Life."
One of the main highlights of the disc is the chapter featuring the unprecedented week of shows co-hosted by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. It was so unusual to have someone so conservative looking like Douglas allow Lennon and Ono to basically take over the show for a week. But he did and the result was fascinating. Lennon and Ono invited many of their politically active friends to appear -- Jerry Rubin, Ralph Nader and Bobby Seale were among those who showed up. The week also gave Lennon the chance to fulfill a dream -- to perform with Chuck Berry. The clip of the two singing "Johnny B. Goode," which has been passed around on bootlegs for years, is here in crystal clarity. As a Lennon fan ourselves, since the whole week's shows were once on video, we only wish a DVD of the whole week's shows would be released. (Actually, it was in Brazil for a while, but appears to be out of print.)
This is a fun disc that we can't help but recommend. We really hope, like the Dick Cavett and "The Tomorrow Show" series of DVDs, that more releases will come with more moments and memories.

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