TheConsummateCulp.com

Sharing the wonderfulness of Robert Culp

You are currently browsing the Television category.

Retro Hijinks: Dr. Robert Culpable – And the Mad Magazine spoof of “Columbo”

It’s one thing when Mad Magazine spoofs the movie or TV show you’re a star of. Obviously, you’re going to be spoofed too. But it’s a whole other honor to be included in the spoof of a show that you were a guest star on!

In its 60 year history, Mad Magazine has spared no television series, movie or pop culture du jour from its lampooning antics (not to mention politicians and any other public figures). Back in 1973, the popular series Columbo wasn’t spared either, getting the royal Mad treatment in “Clodumbo.”

The story line ran similar to an episode of the show, with a Mad Magazine twist of course. The story opens with Clodumbo annoying the hell out of the Police Commissioner and the rest of the department wishing for a homicide so Clodumbo can go and annoy somebody else. Lo and behold, they get a report of a homicide, which has taken place at the house of Dr. Robert Culpable.

If the name wasn’t blatantly obvious, the excellent art work by Angelo Torres is. Robert Culp, who had appeared on two Columbo episodes by the time this issue of Mad hit newsstands in January of 1973, was given the dubious honor of being portrayed as Clodumbo’s prime suspect. (And honestly, who could’ve resisted using the name “Culpable” anyway?). Dr. Culpable is drawn much like how Culp appeared as Detective Brimmer in 1971’s “Death Lends a Hand” with the striped shirt and square glasses. As another nod to that episode, Clodumbo goes to leave and walks into a closet by mistake, just as Columbo did.

And like Columbo on the series, Clodumbo aggravates Dr. Culpable to the Nth degree. Only unlike Robert Culp, who played the guilty party with aplomb, Dr. Culpable was innocent and ended up confessing to a crime he didn’t commit, just to get the pestering Lieutenant to leave him alone!

Take a look for yourself! You can click the thumbnails to view larger images.

 
 

 

 

 

Posted March 6th, 2013.

3 comments

What Ever Happened to The Greatest American Hero Movie?

Greatest American HeroOn September 7, 2008, Stephen J. Cannell, the writer-creator of The Greatest American Hero, openly announced that a movie based on the hit TV series was “in the works.” The announcement came at the Screen Actor’s Guild 25th Anniversary Reunion in Hollywood, CA.

If Cannell had any doubts about the movie project going through, it wasn’t evident at this time. He went so far as to promise “acting jobs, not just cameos” for original TGAH cast members Connie Sellecca, William Katt and Robert Culp. Sellecca and Katt were both in attendance at the time of Cannell’s announcement.

Cannell was not one to make empty promises. According to Cannell’s comments, which were reported by SciFiWire on Sept 9, 2008 and re-published by ComicBookMovie.com, the movie roles for the Sellecca, Katt and Culp were “absolutely guaranteed.”  You can read the whole thing here.

What Caused the Greatest American Hero Movie Project to Stall?

Fast-forward to April 16, 2009. Despite having a completed script, a director, and a lead actor cast for the role of Ralph Hinkely, the big-screen version of The Greatest American Hero was over before it began. The reason? A lack of financial backing. Reportedly, Cannell’s vision of the movie was high-tech, with special effects and stunts that were a far cry from the cheesy, low-budget sequences in the TV series.

Eric Christian Olsen, who had a contract in hand for the red-suited role of Ralph Hinkley, reportedly explained, “They didn’t have financing in place. But yeah, I booked it – but because the budget was so huge they couldn’t get the money.” Olsen’s disappointment was shared by longtime Greatest American Hero fans who found him to be a good choice for the role.

Director Stephen Herek was already on deck for the project, bringing his action-adventure direction experience from “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” and “The Mighty Ducks.”  But in Hollywood, projects come and go in the blink of an eye.

What the Greatest American Hero Movie Could Have Been

According to Eric Christian Olsen, the script was “really funny” and contained “a lot of cool stunts.” He told MovieHole that the script TGAH movie scriptwas built around an ordinary guy who got in over his head; a premise that is true to the original TV program.

According to a fan who claims to have seen parts of the script, the movie’s ending had a heartwarming, optimistic note. At the climax of the story, Ralph Hinkley is outmatched by a powerful enemy, facing certain doom. Suddenly he’s rescued by the combined forces of the Greatest Russian Hero, the Greatest Chinese Hero and a few other nations with their own red-suited champions. Apparently, the alien “green guys” empowered a human in each nation with a super-powered suit in an effort to preserve the Earth.

If only the movie project itself had such a happy ending.

The Greatest American Hero Movie Facts According to William Katt

During a podcast interview on March 21, 2011, Katt explained that some ten years ago, he and original series co-stars Robert Culp and Connie Sellecca, were interested in a TV reunion and reboot of the show. Together they created a pilot for the concept. When bouncing the idea off of Stephen Cannell, Katt learned of Cannell’s big-screen movie project.

According to Katt, Cannell pitched the idea to Sony, and then later to Disney. Despite an “excellent” script by Paul Hernandez, an agreement couldn’t be reached for the project. Cannell took ownership of the project back, and reportedly it was last in the hands of 20th-Century Fox, where it has apparently stalled.

Did The Greatest American Hero Movie Die with Robert Culp and Stephen Cannell?

Bill Maxwell FBIActor Robert Culp, who played the role Federal Agent Bill Maxwell, passed away on March 24, 2010 at the age of 79.

Culp’s brilliant interpretation of Agent Maxwell added to both the action and comedic elements of the show. In The Greatest American Hero, Maxwell was an unusual superhero’s sidekick – a hard-bitten, old-school Fed who saw himself as the brains of the outfit. Ralph may have had the power suit, but the scenarios were usually Maxwell’s. He collected the credit – and sometimes the blame – for the exploits accomplished with Ralph and the red super-suit.

Culp would have welcomed the opportunity to reprise his role as Agent Maxell, even in a passing-of-the-torch role in the big-screen movie. Had the film project proceeded as scheduled, he could have had the chance.

As a highly-acclaimed writer and producer, it’s likely that Stephen J. Cannell would have eventually found the support he wanted for the movie. His website speaks of the movie project in present tense, describing it as “in development.” The date of this comment, while unspecific, appears to have been posted between 2009 and 2010.

Whether the “in development” status was posted before, or after, the project halt in April 2009 is unknown. There have been no further updates to the site.

Meanwhile, the distribution rights to The Greatest American Hero, along with several other Cannell productions, were sold to Mill Creek Entertainment in 2009. The announcement was made by Mill Creek Entertainment on October 14, 2009, several months after the reported stall of The Greatest American Hero movie.

Stephen J. Cannell died on September 30, 2010, at the age of 69, of complications from melanoma. His death came just a few months after the passing of Robert Culp.

Other works of Cannell did see big-screen adaptations; the A-Team in June of 2010, and 21 Jump Street in March of 2012.

Greatest American HeroThe Greatest American Hero: the Fans and the Future

Despite the discouragement, fans of The Greatest American Hero have not given up hope that the big-screen movie will someday see theaters. Superheroes are an American cinema staple, and The Greatest American Hero is a unique concept that could be highly marketable for the movies. The idea of an everyday person who becomes endowed with tremendous power and responsibility – and bungles his way through it all – remains a fresh take on the genre.

William Katt remains popular with fans today and enjoys a strong Facebook following. He briefly worked on a comic book version of The Greatest American Hero, but lost the licensing to a business partner. Rather than pursue the exhaustive comic book project with little hope of return, with no business control to speak of, Katt let the comic book go and turned his focus elsewhere. Copies of the brief comic book series are sometimes found on ebay.

Katt still makes appearances at fan conventions and Comic-con. He also remains active in film, and played the villain in the recently-released thriller Sparks.

Will The Greatest American Hero movie ever fly? It could, but it will require a leap of faith by 20th-Century Fox.

 

Copyright 2013, TheConsummateCulp.com

Posted February 10th, 2013.

7 comments

Shaft: The Executioners

Original air date: October 9, 1973

For the longest time, the photo above haunted me. Not in a bad way, but it is such a damn freakin’ awesome serious Don’t-Screw-With-Me look with the gun and the target pattern. And I had no idea for the life of me what film or tv show it was from! The image was even available on t-shirts and mugs and such through Cafepress on Culp’s official website but there was nothing noting what it was from.

Then in searching around the vast portals of the internet I came across the photo in an archive for either Getty images or something similar. The photo was tagged as being from something called “Shaft: The Enforcers.”

Shaft? I thought. As in John “bad moutha shut yer mouth” Shaft? But there were only three Shaft movies, the original Shaft, Shaft’s Big Score and Shaft in Africa. What’s this “The Enforcers?”

At some point after that, I found this photo…

 

Well, dang! I had no idea there had been tv movies with the Shaft character. I certainly knew of the original film, which is one of my favorites. But damn, I thought, Culp in a Shaft-esque tv movie? I gotta see this!

Alas, that was easier said than done. Until the nice folks at the Warner Archive put the 7 Shaft tv films out on a DVD set. The episode, actually known as “The Executioners” was the first of the series.

Robert Culp plays Marshall Cunningham, a well-heeled attorney in New York City. His wife was sexually assaulted and as a result has been confined to a hospital. The man who assaulted her was found not guilty but was eventually killed.

Meantime, the city has seen a series of unusual deaths over the past several months. Our story begins when defense attorney Charles Dawson (Noah Keen) and his client (Rafael Campos), who was just acquitted, are abducted while leaving the courthouse. They’re held for at least 8 hours and are then brought before a group of men in a finely decorated office, neither of them having any idea why.

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

Continue reading more of Shaft: The Executioners…

Posted August 30th, 2012.

Add a comment

What’s My Line?

September 1972
Panelists:  Soupy Sales, Melba Tolliver, Jim Backus, Arlene Francis
Host: Larry Blyden

“What’s My Line?” was a long running game show on CBS, airing from 1950 to 1967 before going into syndication in 1968 (lasting until 1975).  Typically, contestants with unusual occupations were put before a celebrity panel of four who had to guess the person’s occupation based on questions where only yes or no answers were allowed.  The contestant won money for every “no” answer they got (at least, in the original version). There was also a “mystery guest,” usually someone famous, that the panel, now blindfolded, had to guess using the same yes or no question format. The mystery guest usually disguised their voice, making it more challenging for the panel to figure out.

Robert Culp was the mystery guest on this September 1972 broadcast of “What’s My Line?” When he emerges from the side of the stage to write his name on the board for the television viewers and studio audience to see, he gets a resounding ovation. The applause prompts one of the panelists, actor Jim Backus, to say, “Judging from that reception you are in the entertainment business.”

Photobucket Photobucket  Photobucket Photobucket

Indeed he is, and in the two minutes the panel has to ask questions to try to guess who he is, they’re effectively stumped. Culp disguises his voice, sounding like an old timer and given his varied career up to that point, (he had been on Broadway, television and motion pictures) he couldn’t always give a really straight yes or no answer. There was no way they could’ve ever pinned down who he was (at least, not in two minutes!)

Shoot, I hardly recognized him with the moustache! This clip was posted to YouTube just shortly after Culp’s passing in 2010 and was the first I had seen him with a moustache ( a real one mind you!).  And regular readers know I was just as surprised to see Culp still sporting the ‘stache in the Columbo episode “The Most Crucial Game” which aired November 5 1972.

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

Jim Backus mentions having appeared with Culp on an I Spy episode (“Happy Birthday, Everybody”). He was also in the 1963 Warner Brother’s movie Sunday in New York with Culp, although they had no scenes together. Backus is most recognized as the voice of Mr. Magoo and as Thurston Howell III on Giligan’s Island.

Comedian Soupy Sales compliments Culp on a tv movie that he had seen a rebroadcast of (See the Man Run, first broadcast in December of ’71) and Culp speaks about the upcoming release of Hickey & Boggs. As such, where he talks of it being released within the next month I pegged this game show appearance to have taken place sometime in September of ’72. (Hickey & Boggs was released in October of ’72).

Melba Tolliver is an accomplished journalist who was a reporter and occasional news anchor for WABC-TV in New York City at the time. Culp has an interesting non-verbal reaction after one of Melba’s turns with a question, but I have no idea what prompted it. He answered yes to a question about whether or not he was in a motion picture that was currently playing. Melba followed up asking if it was a drama as opposed to a comedy. Culp answers “neither….or both as the case may be.” I assume he’s referring to Hannie Caulder which was released in July of ’72 and was panned by some critics who couldn’t discern if it was a drama or a comedy.

Arlene Francis was a panelist on the original “What’s My Line?” from 1950-1967 and returned for the syndicated version in 1968. Her comment of “poor fellow” after they determine that Culp was not currently in a Broadway production and was not rehearsing for one is a hoot.

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

My caps come from the YouTube video, which isn’t always easy to cap (thus, there are so few here). However, you can still watch the video and see Culp stump the panel.

Posted July 19th, 2012.

Add a comment

I’m a Hot Rod Baby!

Robert Culp in a car movie? Yes!!

Essentially The Dukes of Hazzard for the drag racing set, this made for tv movie originally was broadcast on May 25, 1979. Culp is TL Munn, root beer king and corrupt town boss, who’s looking to get in big with drag racing by sponsoring a major nationals event. Not only does he hope to cash in, he intends for his son to win the race, if not for this out of town kid who comes in (Gregg Henry).

This movie features some great hot rods and (now) classic cars, great drag racing, 50’s rock and roll music and Culp sporting some very wide shirt collars.

At least he only wore one gold chain and not ten of them.

Since I’m partial to Bill Maxwell and his grey suit, I actually dig Mr. Munn’s grey suit here…only because I think it’s the same grey suit!

Culp himself does not hot rod in this movie, but does drive a horrifically painted Caddy. Nonetheless, I enjoy this movie and have watched it several times (I’m a car nut anyway).

In this first clip, TL is trying to film a commercial for the Munn’s Root Beer Nationals but gets interrupted by the shenanigans of the hot rodders and rock n’ rollers.

Companion clip to the one above, out of towner Brian Addison (Greg Henry) does his part to stir up a little trouble and the rock n’ rollers are still doing their thing.   Fed up, Munn tells the disc jockey to get lost.

Later in the film, when all of Munn’s attempts at harassment don’t keep Brian from running in the races, TL basically tries to buy him off. That doesn’t work either.

Posted May 25th, 2012.

Add a comment

Desk Jockey

“The Best Desk Scenario,” the final episode of the first season of The Greatest American Hero originally aired this date (May 13) 1981. Ralph becomes Vice Principal of Whitney High (temporarily), Pam gets a junior partnership at her law firm and Bill gets the shaft at the bureau when a twenty-eight year old “kid” is put in charge while being groomed for the top spot in the bureau. Pam’s junior partnership is threatened when she’s witness to a “message” from the Mob to her boss.

The episode opens with Bill and Ralph trying some new stuff with the suit which becomes more than Bill bargained for.

Later in the episode, as things escalate and Pam ends up kidnapped, Bill can’t seem to do anything right and doesn’t induce much confidence from his new boss…

Posted May 13th, 2012.

Add a comment

Fire!

Hot enough to burn through 30 years of Federal files, The Greatest American Hero episode “Fireman” originally aired this date (May 6) 1981. One of Ralph’s students, Tony, gets mixed up in an arson rap of a stereo store when he repossesses (legitimately) the car used in the crime. Worse? The Federal records depot building was torched in a similar fashion a few weeks earlier. It’s up to Bill, Ralph and Pam to clear Tony of any wrongdoing and find out who set the fires.

 

To completely …uh…smoke out the guilty party who torched the Federal records depot, Bill and Ralph bait Mr. Moody and Maxwell doesn’t mince words in his spiel. Moody then tries to give Maxwell the hot foot.

Some more classic Maxwell. The FBI and the ATF never got along anyway…

Posted May 6th, 2012.

Add a comment

Heroes and Cowboys

The Greatest American Hero episode “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” originally aired April 29, 1981 and features one of my favorite Maxwell action shots…

“You boys are all through for today…”

In the episode, an old friend of Bill’s, who is a LA cop, is planning to leave the department and take some hot diamonds with him to fund his retirement. Winslow tries to get Bill to go in with him, but when Bill hesitates, Winslow says it’s all a joke. But Bill knows it’s not and he attempts to stop Winslow from going through with the plan.

In this first clip, Winslow is a tired cop and has become very disillusioned. He shares his plan with Bill who is clearly verrrry uncomfortable with it.

In this next clip, Bill pulls some Federal weight and basically bulldozes his way in on Winslow’s scheme. The other side of this episode is Ralph’s decision to put away the suit after nearly sending a busload of people off a cliff, thus his reluctance to don it here.

Posted April 29th, 2012.

Add a comment

It’s All Fine, Just Fine…

The final first season episode of I Spy, “One Thousand Fine” aired this date (April 27) in 1966. Still in Acapulco, Kelly and Scotty are given an assignment to locate a missing US Air force plane that was carrying nearly $6 million in gold when it crashed 8 years earlier. The only surviving crew member, Jack Gannon, is an old acquaintance of Kelly’s and together the men, along with Jack’s fiancé go looking for the plane. To complicate things a bit Jack’s fiancé is someone from Kelly’s past…

 

The past between Kelly and Jean (Jack’s finance) creates some tension in this episode. This first clip shows the tension with Jack and the brewing jealously. The second half of the clip has a great bit of comic relief from Scotty.

 

Another great scene with some more tension between the three characters. Jean figures out what Kelly’s secret was that he couldn’t tell her years before and Jack’s jealously is still brewing. It’s also becoming apparent that relationship between Jean and Jack is changing as Jack knows they’re getting closer to finding the gold.

 

And finally a clip from the beginning of the episode (it wasn’t all tense!) with some great back n’ forth between Kelly and Scotty about, what else, a girl. “All other bikinis would be stuffed with plaster of paris” next to Kelly’s latest find.

 

 

 

 

Posted April 27th, 2012.

Add a comment