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.
I was wondering if you could help me with something? I was wondering if you would know if the team of Miller-Boyett had done any TV series that were never picked up?
Miller-Boyett Productions was originally Miller-Milkis Productions, a partnership between Thomas L. Miller and Edward K. Milkis launched in the late 1960s. When Robert L. Boyett joined the company in the late 1970s, it became Miller-Milkis-Boyett Productions. Following the departure of Edward Milkis in the mid-1980s, the company became known as Miller-Boyett Productions. In its final incarnation during the late 1990s, with Michael Warren on board, it was called Miller-Boyett-Warren Productions.
In the mid-1970s, Miller-Milkis Productions was responsible for two of television’s most popular sitcoms: Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley. The company also produced Petrocelli, a drama that ran from 1974 to 1976. As the 1978-1979 season got underway, Miller-Milkis had three sitcoms on the air: the aforementioned Laverne & Shirley and Happy Days as well as a new show, Mork and Mindy. Two others sitcoms were on tap for mid-season: Angie and Makin’ It, plus an hour-long comedic anthology, Sweepstakes (also known as $weepstake$).
While Makin’ It and Sweepstakes were soon canceled, Angie would return for a second season during the 1979-1980 season before it, too, was pulled. Another sitcom, something called “Undercover Cops,” never got on the air. It would have been produced by Miller-Milkis-Boyett. According to Lee Goldberg, it would have been a spin-off of Sweepstakes, about a pair of undercover police officers, both women [1. Exactly how they would have been spun-off of Sweepstakes is unknown; Goldberg does state that one of the officers was “a self-assured, ex-beauty parlor operator looking for more excitement in her life,” so perhaps she would have taken her Sweepstakes winnings and become a cop.
The American Radio Archives at the Thousand Oaks Library has two drafts of the script for this unsold pilot, written by Jay Oliver, both from March of 1979. According to Television Series and Specials Scripts, 1946-1992: A Catalog of the American Radio Archives Collection, the main characters were named Janet O’Malley and Bobbi Peluso, two “new, young detectives, working undercover” . A working title was “Undercover Girls.” It’s unclear whether this pilot was actually produced or not. I’m inclined to say it wasn’t, simply because I can’t believe even 1979-era NBC, which thought Supertrain was a good idea, would have given the go-ahead to film a pilot for a spin-off of Sweepstakes. If it was produced, it doesn’t appear to have been broadcast at any point.
Despite a slew of flops during the late 1970s/early 1980s, Miller-Boyett Productions successfully launched several more sitcoms in the mid-to-late 1980s, including Perfect Strangers, Family Matters and Full House. Its last sitcom, as Miller-Boyett-Warren Productions, was ABC’s Two of a Kind, starring Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen, which was broadcast during the 1998-1999 season.
Are there other unsold pilots, produced or otherwise, from the Miller-Milkis/Miller-Milkis-Boyett/etc. production company? Perhaps, but I’m not aware of any.
2 Berard, Jeannette M. and Klaudia Englund. Television Series and Specials Scripts, 1946-1992: A Catalog of the American Radio Archives Collection. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2009: Page 417.