Q & A: Circus Parade; Making Out; Heart and Soul

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 even decades past. I try to answer each question as best I can. Every now and then I like to pull out a few e-mails to answer here at Television Obscurities for everyone to enjoy. Keep reading for today’s questions and answers.

Does anyone have any information about a series of films that each depicted a circus act–acrobatics, animal taming–that used to be shown in my hometown under the title CIRCUS PARADE. I am certain that they were foreign films, they were all silent and were presented by a clown who did the only funny bits at the beginning and end of the show–all in mime. I have not seen or heard of any of them since my youth back in the 60s and early 70s.

In November 1966, United Artists Television began selling a package of 140 brief circus performances, running around three to four minutes each, to television stations across the country. The segments were intended to be integrated into locally produced programs, especially kid’s shows.

The performances featured clowns, jugglers, acrobats and other acts and were filmed in color throughout Europe. Stations also received a special animated opening sequence featuring a clown who juggled the Circus Parade title with the station’s call letters.

United Artists continued to offer the package throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s.

Just stumbled upon your site today. I was a Central Casting extra for a few years in the early 80’s and found my old planner that listed the shows I worked on from 82-84. There are a few that I suspect changed names after I worked on them. One in particular was called Making Out. Any idea what that show became? Also am trying to track down something called Heart & Soul.

Making Out was the original title of an hour-long drama series from Lorimar Productions that NBC ordered for use as a mid-season replacement during the 1984-1985 season. The network aired a pilot called “Things Are Looking Up” on Friday, June 29th, 1984. It starred Gretchen Corbett as Joanne Braithwaite, single mother working as a new teacher at the same high school her 16-year-old daughter Mia (played by Beth Ehlers) attended.

NBC then ordered six episodes of a weekly series for use as a spring tryout. It was retitled The Best Times and Janet Eilber replaced Corbett as Joanne. There were other cast changes as well. The series premiered on Friday, April 19th, 1985 and was off the air by early June.

(“The Best Times” was unrelated to an earlier Lorimar high school sitcom pilot called “The Best of Times” that aired in August 1983. It starred Robert Romanus.)

As for “Heart and Soul,” confusingly there were two sitcom pilots with that name developed for the 1988-1989 season, one at ABC and the other at NBC. Neither were picked up. The ABC pilot was set in 1961 and starred Renee Jones and B’Nard Lewis as Brenda Kincaid and Wesley Harris, wannabe singer-songwriters in love. One publication referred to it as a “black Romeo and Juliet story.” It aired on Saturday, April 29th, 1989 following another unsold pilot called “Livin’ Large.” The two were last-minute replacements for a reality special called “Crimes of Passion II” that ABC pulled after it couldn’t sell a single commercial during the program.

The NBC pilot starred Morris Day and Clark Johnson as Curtis Rousseau and Richard Bradley, owners of a small recording company. Curtis was flamboyant while Richard was reserved. Richard wanted to leave the company to take a job teaching music at a high school. Curtis hoped to keep him from quitting by signing a talented young singer (played by Tisha Campbell). But her father hoped she would go to medical school rather than pursue a career in music. It aired on Thursday, July 21st, 1988. Quincy Jones was one of the executive producers.

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