The Stones on The Dick Cavett Show (NBC, US TV) July 25 1972
-Bill Wyman interview by Dick Cavett
-Mick Jagger interview by Dick Cavett -Brown Sugar/Street Fighting Man (live in New York City, July 25 1972)
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The Dick Cavett Show refers to television programs on the ABC, PBS, USA and CNBC networks hosted by comedian, comedy writer and author Dick Cavett between 1968 and 1995 in New York. The first daytime show featured Gore Vidal, Muhammad Ali and Angela Lansbury. ABC pressured Cavett to get prominent celebrities on the show, although subsequent shows without them got higher ratings and more critical acclaim.
A well-received summer replacement prime-time series that aired three times per week led to the memorable late-night talk show that ran from December 29, 1969 to January 1, 1975 opposite NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Cavett took the time slot over from The Joey Bishop Show. In addition to his usual monologue, Cavett opened each show reading selected questions written by audience members, to which he would respond with witty rejoinders. (“What makes New York so crummy these days?” “Tourists.”)
While Cavett and Carson shared many of the same guests, Cavett was receptive to rock and roll artists to a degree unusual at the time, as well as to authors, politicians and other personalities outside the entertainment field. The wide variety of guests, combined with Cavett’s literate and intelligent approach to comedy, appealed to a significant enough number of viewers to keep the show running for several years despite the competition from Carson’s show. Carson’s move to southern California in the early 1970s to focus on Hollywood celebrities also helped to minimize guest overlap.
The late-night show’s 45-minute midpoint would always be signaled by the musical piece “Glitter and Be Gay” from Leonard Bernstein’s Candide. The Candide snippet became Cavett’s theme song and was used as the introduction to his later PBS series, and was played by the house band on his various talk show appearances.
Typically each show had several guests, but occasionally Cavett would devote an entire show to a single guest. Among those receiving such special treatment (some more than once) were Groucho Marx, Laurence Olivier, Judy Garland, Katharine Hepburn (without an audience), Bette Davis, Orson Welles, Noël Coward (who appeared on the same show with Alfred Lunt, Lynn Fontanne, Tammy Grimes and Brian Bedford), John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Janis Joplin, Ray Charles, Alfred Hitchcock, Fred Astaire, Woody Allen, Gloria Swanson, Jerry Lewis, Lucille Ball, Zero Mostel (“on some shows I’ve had just one guest, but tonight I have Zero”), Bob Hope and David Bowie. These shows helped showcase Cavett’s skills as a host who could attract guests that otherwise might not do interviews, at the expense of some of the excitement that might ensue from the multiple-guest format.
In January 1973, despite a vociferous letter campaign, ratings forced the show to be cut back to occasional status, airing one week a month under the umbrella title ABC’s Wide World of Entertainment. Jack Paar, whom ABC had tried to recruit as Cavett’s successor, insisted that both he and Cavett would be given at least one week per month as a sign of respect for Cavett. By the end of 1974, Cavett’s show was airing only twice per month.
The PBS series featured single guests in a half-hour format and was produced by Christopher Porterfield, a former roommate of Cavett’s at Yale University who had coauthored the book Cavett that was published in August 1974. The show remained on the PBS lineup until affiliates voted it off the schedule in 1982.
On all three of the early ABC shows, the bandleader was Bobby Rosengarden and the announcer was Fred Foy of The Lone Ranger fame. The morning show was produced by Woody Fraser. Tony Converse was the producer of the 1969 ABC prime-time show and the original producer of the ABC late-night show, succeeded by John Gilroy. Cavett’s writer was Dave Lloyd.
The Dick Cavett Show was also the name of a short-lived radio show.
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