SMOTHERED: THE CENSORSHIP STRUGGLES OF THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS COMEDY HOUR (TV)

Summary

This documentary looks at the censorship issues faced by "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" program, eventually leading to its cancellation in 1968 and a lawsuit against CBS; the film makes ample use of clips from "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" and archival materials to illustrate points made by commentators. The beginning of the film looks at the program's first season during which it became a surprise hit and gradually developed an edgy humor that soon caught network censors' attention; commentators include Bill Maher (in a clip from a Smothers Brothers panel discussion at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Denver, CO in 2000), former CBS vice president of programming Perry Lafferty, television critic and historian David Bianculli, former Smothers Brothers manager Ken Kragen, third-season writer Rob Reiner, series writer Mason Williams, former CBS vice president of programming Mike Dann, third-season writer Carl Gottlieb, Tom Smothers, Dick Smothers, writer/producer Allan Blye, journalist David Halberstam, comedian David Steinberg, and performer Leigh French. The film then looks at the build-up of antagonism between "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" and CBS's Program Practices department during the show's second season; commentators in this portion of the film include Halberstam, Reiner, Gottlieb, Dann, Lafferty, Kragen, guest performer Pete Seeger, producer George Sunga, and Tom Smothers. Then film then focuses on the dissolution of the relationship between "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" and CBS in the program's third season with commentary from Halberstam, Tom Smothers, Williams, Steve Martin (at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival), Gottlieb, Reiner, Sunga, Lafferty, Dick Smothers, guest performer Harry Belafonte, and Bianculli. The events -- including censored performances by Steinberg and Joan Baez -- leading up to the cancellation of the series are discussed by Steinberg, Reiner, Williams, Dann, former FCC commissioner Nicholas Johnson, Kragen, Tom Smothers, Halberstam, Gottlieb, Baez, French, and Lafferty. The fallout of the program's cancellation -- including the Smothers Brothers' victorious lawsuit against CBS -- is discussed by Dick Smothers, Tom Smothers, Ken Paulson, Johnson, juror Nancy Nolan, Dann, Gottlieb, and Kragen. The film ends with reflections on the program's radicalism from Tom and Dick Smothers, Reiner, Halberstam, and Belafonte.

Details

  • NETWORK: Bravo
  • DATE: December 4, 2002 Wednesdasy 8:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 1:32:44
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: T:73209
  • GENRE: Arts documentaries
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Television - Censorship
  • SERIES RUN: Bravo - TV, 2002
  • COMMERCIALS:

CREDITS

      Charles Derbyshire........ Executive Producer
    • Maureen Muldaur........ Producer
    • Shannon Gee........ Associate Producer
    • Lillian E. Benson........ Production (Misc.)
    • Peter Davison........ Composer
    • Joan Baez
    • Harry Belafonte
    • David Bianculli
    • Allan Blye
    • Mike Dann
    • Leigh French
    • Carl Gottlieb
    • David Halberstam
    • Nicholas Johnson
    • Ken Kragen
    • Perry Lafferty
    • Bill Maher
    • Steve Martin
    • Nancy Nolan
    • Rob Reiner
    • Pete Seeger
    • Dick Smothers
    • Tom Smothers
    • David Steinberg
    • George Sunga
    • Mason Williams

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