I get a lot of e-mails from people asking me about television shows, made-for-TV movies or miniseries they remember from years or decades past. I try to answer each question as best I can. Every now and then I like to dig through my inbox and pull out a few choice e-mails to answer here at Television Obscurities for everyone to read. Keep reading for today’s questions and answers.
First, I want to ask you: did you ever see THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES movie? If you haven’t, DON’T! It’s AWFUL!!! (with a capitol A). Now, I want to ask something about the show (which I love): I heard that Winston cigarettes dropped their sponsorship of it in 1965. Do you know why?
The R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, manufacturer of Winston cigarettes, pulled its sponsorship of The Beverly Hillbillies in May of 1967 voluntarily in order to fulfill its obligation to the tobacco industry’s advertising code . The code was established in 1964 as an attempt to self-regulate and thus stave off government intervention. The code forbid cigarette advertisements from being shown during programs with a primary audiences under 21. According to Cynthia Lowry, “this means that a program is off limits to a member firm when, in two successive national Nielsen audience reports, the projected statistics of audience composition show that 45 per cent or more of the viewers are under voting age” .
The The Beverly Hillbillies had come close to hitting that mark in the past (with around 43% of its audience under 21); its growing popularity among viewers of all ages eventually forced the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. to pull out . The Chicago Tribune noted that “it was a special event in television history, a first of its kind, and an opening to an ironic situation” given that the very success of The Beverly Hillbillies was the reason the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. had to ask CBS to switch its advertising to a different show .
I would like to inquire about a missing pilot for an American version of the hit British comedy ‘Are You Being Served?’. The pilot was called ‘Beans of Boston’ and was produced by Gary Marshall (Happy Days). The show starred Charlotte Rae (Facts of Life) and Alan Sues (Laugh-In). I was wondering if this film still existed and how to obtain a copy. Thank you!
CBS broadcast “Beane’s of Boston” (also referred to as “Beanes of Boston” without the apostrophe) on Saturday, May 5th, 1979 from 8:30-9PM. It was indeed an attempt to adapt Are You Being Served? (which had premiered in September of 1972 on BBC1) for American audiences. Set at a large, conservative department store called Beane’s of Boston, the pilot starred Tom Poston as Frank Beane, the owner, and George O’Hanlon, Jr. as his nephew Franklyn Beane, the manager. The storyline saw Frank Beane grudgingly agreeing to hold a beer festival in an attempt to raise money. Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft, creators of Are You Being Served? helped write “Beane’s of Boston” and Lloyd served as a producer. The pilot was directed by Jerry Paris and executive producer by Garry Marshall.
Rounding out the cast were John Hillerman as John Peacock, floor manager, Charlotte Rae as Mae Slocombe, manager of the women’s department, Lorna Patterson as Shirley Brahms, Mae’s assistant, and Alan Sues as George Humphries, the effeminate manager of the men’s department. The characters were based, and in some cases named, after the corresponding characters in the British series. According to The Los Angeles Times, the pilot included a “laughable, even pitiful gay” character . In Are You Being Served? the sexuality of Mr. Wilberforce Clayborne Humphries (played by John Inman) was played for laughs and it is likely that George Humphries was the gay character mentioned by The Los Angeles Times. Whether that had anything to do with the pilot not being picked up is unknown.
The pilot does not appear to be held at any of the largest television archives (the Library of Congress, UCLA’s Film & Television Archive, the Museum of Broadcast Communications and the Paley Center for Media) but that does not mean it is missing or lost. The production company, or whoever owns its library today, probably has the original elements somewhere. I believe it was produced by Paramount Television