The Merv Griffin Show is an American television talk show starring Merv Griffin. The series ran on NBC from 1962 to 1963; in first-run syndication from 1965 to 1969 and again from 1972 to 1986; and on CBS from 1969 to 1972.
|The Merv Griffin Show|
|Directed by||Dick Carson|
|Presented by||Merv Griffin|
|Starring||Mort Lindsey (bandleader)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||4,855|
|Running time||60–90 minutes|
|Release||October 1, 1962 –|
September 5, 1986
Series history edit
After a short run as a daytime show on NBC from October 1, 1962, to March 29, 1963, Merv Griffin launched a syndicated version of his talk show produced by Westinghouse Broadcasting (Group W), which made its debut on May 10, 1965. Intended as a nighttime companion to The Mike Douglas Show and succeeding Steve Allen and Regis Philbin in the time slot, this version of the Griffin program aired in multiple time slots throughout North America (many stations ran it in the daytime, and other non-NBC affiliates broadcast it opposite The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson). Stations had the option of carrying either a sixty–minute or a ninety–minute version. Griffin's announcer-sidekick was the veteran British character actor Arthur Treacher, who had been his mentor. After reading off the list of guests for that evening's show, Treacher would introduce Griffin with the phrase: "...and now, here's the dear boy himself, Meeeer-vyn!"
Seeing his strong ratings, CBS offered him a network series opposite the Tonight Show, and his program debuted there on August 18, 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's Cort Theatre to CBS Television City in Los Angeles, 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 late summer 1971, sensing that his time at CBS was ending, Griffin sought to exit his contract with the network early. CBS would soon agree, and on December 6, 1971, both Griffin and the network announced they were going their separate ways; CBS would replace Griffin with The CBS Late Movie. The following day, Griffin signed a contract with Metromedia and its production arm, Metromedia Producers Corporation (MPC) to continue his program in syndication. The last edition of The Merv Griffin Show on CBS aired February 11, 1972. His new MPC-distributed show began four weeks later, on March 13, 1972, and returned Griffin to late afternoon and late–night time slots. Metromedia also gave Griffin prime time clearances on the company's group of independent stations, which included outlets in New York, Los Angeles, Minneapolis–Saint Paul, Cincinnati and Washington, D.C. Beginning in 1981, The Merv Griffin Show was cut back to one hour in order to accommodate stations who preferred that length over the 90-minute version.
King World Productions (now CBS Media Ventures) took over syndication of the program in 1984; King World was Griffin's syndication partner for Wheel of Fortune and was about to relaunch his other game show Jeopardy! (Metromedia had briefly syndicated the original Jeopardy! a decade prior and would initially provide the studio for the revival). Metromedia's independent stations continued to carry The Merv Griffin Show until they were sold in early 1986 to News Corporation and 20th Century Fox, who used the stations as the nucleus of the Fox Broadcasting Company. As Fox was already setting up its own late-night talk show, The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers, the former Metromedia stations dropped the show soon thereafter. The show was canceled altogether later that year, and aired its final episode on September 5, 1986.
Griffin's 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 five or six minute segment, Griffin preferred lengthy, in-depth discussions with many stretching out past 30 minutes. In addition, Griffin sometimes dedicated an entire show to a single person or topic, allowing for greater exploration of his guests’ personality and thoughts.
Griffin’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 comedian 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 American presidents–Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan appeared, as did Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Jonas Salk and Robert F. Kennedy. Legendary actors and directors who appeared on the program include Orson Welles, John Wayne, Judy Garland (who took over as guest hostess for Griffin on one program in January 1969, six months before her death), 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 Bobby Vinton, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Marvin Gaye, Merle Haggard, The Bee Gees and Johnny Cash, among others, all guesting. The Merv Griffin Show hosted Whitney Houston’s first TV appearance in 1983. Sports figures interviewed by Griffin 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, Jerry Lewis, 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 Griffin include Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Andy Warhol, Norman Rockwell and Salvador Dalí.
In 2012, Reelin' In the Years Productions started handling 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. Episodes of the show have been released on DVDs. Selected edited episodes, distributed by Paul Brownstein Productions, are airing on the GetTV channel.
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 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.
Since making her TV debut on The Merv Griffin Show with the song in June 1983, pop/R&B singer Whitney Houston’s performance of “Home” has been used frequently. The performance is included on Whitney: The Greatest Hits DVD (2000), the DVD version of Houston’s 25th anniversary debut album (2010), “We Will Always Love You: A Grammy Salute to Whitney Houston” (2012), Whitney Houston Live: Her Greatest Performances (2014), and the 2018 docu-film Whitney. The performance is considered one of Houston’s best and her introduction to the music world.
Awards and nominations edit
|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 Handelman|
|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
- "New NBC show quickly nets 19 advertisers" (PDF). Broadcasting. July 23, 1962. p. 30. Retrieved March 29, 2023.
- "Griffin wants out of late show race" (PDF). Broadcasting. September 6, 1971. p. 10. Retrieved May 3, 2023.
- "Merv goes out like a lamb for a lion" (PDF). Broadcasting. December 13, 1971. p. 24. Retrieved May 3, 2023.
- "WNEW-TV Merv Griffin Show advertisement". New York Daily News. March 13, 1972. p. 27. Retrieved May 3, 2023.
- "KTTV Merv Griffin Show advertisement". Los Angeles Times. March 13, 1972. p. 63. Retrieved May 3, 2023.
- Chagollan, Steve (March 29, 2012). "Reelin' in the Years takes 'Griffin'". Variety. Retrieved September 5, 2019.
- "About The Box Set | The Merv Griffin Show". September 17, 2014. Retrieved September 5, 2019.
- "Variety Shows". www.get.tv. Retrieved September 5, 2019.