Almost But Not Quite: Coastocoast

Coastocoast (almost known as Coast to Coast) was announced as part of NBC’s 1978-1979 schedule on May 15th and given the 8-9PM time slot on Thursdays [1]. The series, an hour-long comedy, would focus on a pair of beautiful stewardesses flying between New York and Los Angeles. Gary Deeb referred to it as a “skin comedy” and “Charlie’s Stewardesses” [2]. Starring as the two stewardesses would be Melanie Griffith and Linda Watkins. David Ankrum would play a third officer. I’m not quite sure what that is but apparently his character would be “zany” [3].

The series was produced by Saul Turtletaub, Bernie Orenstein and Bud Yorkin through their company T.O.Y. Productions. In a May 24th, 1978 article lambasting cheesecake, Gary Deeb wrote that Coastocoast “is similar to those despicable Continental Airlines commercials in which the stews ‘really move our tail for you.’ You’ve never heard of the stars and besides, their acting ability has nothing to do with their landing the roles” [4].

Then, on Wednesday Wednesday, June 14th, only six days after becoming president of NBC, Fred Silverman pulled Coastocoast from the network’s schedule, with an eye towards a mid-season debut [5]. Bud Yorkin was actually happy with the move, having asked Silverman for more development time (he apparently had only five to six weeks). Said Yorkin: “I really take my hat off to the man. I was on the air (in September) if he didn’t show up” [6]. According to Gary Deeb, however, NBC insiders felt the series would never air [7].

Coastocoast was officially cancelled, it seems, sometime in August. The New York Times reported that “the network and the producers had been unable to agree on what the show’s concept ought to be and that the time finally came when NBC felt it had to move on to other, more promising development ideas” [8]. As far as I know, no pilot episode was completed. You can read more about how Fred Silverman overhauled NBC’s schedule in late 1978/early 1979 in my Midseason 1979 article.

Works Cited:

1 Shepard, Richard F. “NBC-TV Dropping Nearly a Third of Shows in Fall.” New York Times. 16 May 1978: 71.
2 Deeb, Gary. “Tempo TV: NBC fall ‘diet’ still heavy on cheesecake.” Chicago Tribune. 17 May 1978: D10.
3 Ibid.
4 Deeb, Gary. “It takes a lot of crust for networks to serve up this kind of cheesecake.” Chicago Tribune. 24 May 1978: D7.
5 “Silverman Puts Fall NBC Show on Hold.” Los Angeles Times. 15 Jun. 1978: I26.
6 Ibid.
7 Deeb, Gary. “Tempo TV: Silverman cracks a fast whip at NBC.” Chicago Tribune. 19 Jun. 1978: E7.
8 Margulies, Lee. “Inside TV: Caucus Hits Early Season.” Los Angeles Times. 14 Aug. 1978: H13.

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7 Replies to “Almost But Not Quite: Coastocoast”

  1. PROBABLY the reason “COASTOCOAST” was never produced had something to do with the fact that CBS was planning a similar series that fall: Mark Carliner’s “FLYING HIGH”, starring the equally “talented” trio of Connie Selleca, Pat Klous and Katharine Witt [producer Carliner primarily chose them because they WEREN’T actresses- they were originally models- because he claimed he wanted “TV faces” {presumably, the acting would follow}). They portrayed three stewardesses working for “Sunwest Airlines”, and episodes would revolve around their work and personal lives (unlike “COASTOCOAST”, which was intended to be more of a “LOVE BOAT” imitation). Fred Silverman knew there was room for only one “stewardess” series that fall, and CBS had beaten him to it. So, he decided to “bide his time”, and waited to see if “FLYING HIGH” would [on Fridays]. It didn’t, and was gone by mid-season. So perhaps he made the right decision by not going ahead with “COASTOCOAST”. But it cost NBC four million dollars to cancel their commitment to T.O.Y. for the series, and almost none of Silverman’s 1978-’79 series continued into the following season.

    1. Flying High was the No. 1 new comedy show of the season. How it lost that status (and got cancelled, would you believe) was a lesson for CBS in nurturing an audience and finding the right time slot for a particular show. That show could have survived a lot longer than it did but CBS had a number of hit shows so it didn’t matter to them. As for its stars, both Connie Selleca & Pat Klous found TV success post-Flying High. So, if you’re looking for “talented” personalities to ridicule, maybe you should look Tanya Roberts’ way.

  2. There may have been another reason “CoasttoCoast” didn’t make it onto NBC’s schedule. When Fred Silverman became network president in June 1978, he found little on NBC’s roster he felt could help turn the prime time schedule around. Most pundits expected Silverman to use the same formula that worked so well at ABC (physical comedy at 8 PM, crime and more sexually-oriented fare at 9 and 10). They were wrong. As Sally Bedell-Smith noted in her book about Silverman, “Up The Tube,” the new NBC chief talked about “leadership that grows from excellence….programming that does not violate general standards of taste…programs that refresh the medium with innovation in substance and style.”
    Then, as Bedell-Smith noted, “With all the zeal of a born-again bluenose he conspicuously cancelled two of NBC’s most sexploitative shows: “Coasttocoast”…and the sequel to the slatternly mini-series “79 Park Avenue,” adapted from the Harold Robbins novel about a high-priced New York prostitute.”
    To replace “Coasttocoast,” Silverman green-lighted a new series that followed real doctors and their patients. Silverman claimed “Lifeline”–an early example of today’s “reality” genre–“could indeed be the single show on any network this fall that changes the face of prime time.” But Silverman moved “Lifeline” around the schedule and it never built an audience. In November 1978, Silverman pulled the plug on “Lifeline” and NBC’s eight other new fall entries. (Johnny Carson probably summed up Silverman’s situation best: “NBC now stands for Nine Bombs Cancelled.”) And with “Supertrain” and other Silverman-inspired midseason bombs waiting in the wings, the worst was yet to come for Fred’s inaugural season at NBC.

  3. I’ve read “Up the Tube”, and that part about Fred Silverman cancelling many of NBC’s “prior commitments” for the ’78-’79 season sounds very familiar. He even reneged on a Norman Lear-produced series, “THE ARRANGEMENT”, because the lead characters were unmarried {again, trying to appear to be a “bluenose” to the industry, as Bedell-Smith stated}. Fred insisted they GET married; Lear protested, do that and you’ll kill the whole point of the series. But Silverman said, they get married or forget it. Lear stuck to his principles, and Silverman killed the series, anyway.

  4. I think the reference to a “third officer” would mean a flight engineer from the cockpit crew (though they were properly known as “second officers”).

  5. There was a pilot produced. I had a featured role as Ross Martin’s son, Donald Campbell, Jr. It also featured guest stars, Lawanda Paige from Sanford and Son, Michael Tucci from Grease and The Garry Shandling Show, Ellen Travolta, Melanie Griffith, and Jack Carter. The show was to be an answer to CBS’ Flying High, and ABC’s Love Boat with rotating stories and guest stars each week.

  6. Steven is correct. I was the Assistant Director on the pilot. We finished the shooting, but I have no idea if a final cut ever existed. Once shooting was completed, I went on to othet things. Too bad, it wasn’t a bad little show.

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