“It’s Like We Never Did It.”

The media seems to have turned its collective back on I SPY due to Cosby’s issues. Why doing so is an injustice.

Robert Culp’s words, spoken nine years ago during his American Television Archive interview, seem to be becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy as of late.

I SPY, the TV series Culp co-starred with Bill Cosby for three seasons, premiered on NBC 51 years ago last week, September 15th, 1965. Outside of TheConsummateCulp Facebook and Twitter feed and a Facebook page called I SPY, SPY SHOWS, you probably missed the notice in any news feeds on social media platforms. It appeared nowhere. Granted, 51 is an odd anniversary to mark, but several other shows that also premiered that same week in 1965 had plenty of mentions.

I SPY was just not one of those shows.

Then, this past Sunday night was the 68th Emmy Awards. Host Jimmy Kimmel did a cheap and cringeworthy Bill Cosby joke and the website Upworthy.com failed to mention the first African American actor to win an Emmy in their article on 15 Emmy nominees and winners who broke barriers. That actor, Bill Cosby, for I SPY, was not included in the list.

And you know, I get it. Cosby’s being punished and I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve everything he gets. But I SPY, and all those associated with it, doesn’t deserve to be punished with him. I SPY was a ground breaking culturally significant milestone in television history that still matters. You can try to ignore it and bury it in light of Cosby’s loss of honor because it seems like the right thing to do. But to do so unfairly punishes so many others. Not the least of which is Robert Culp, who so believed in all that I SPY would represent for race relations if given the chance, he threatened to quit the show before it even started when NBC wanted to replace Cosby whom they didn’t favor due to his lack of acting experience.

Or producer Sheldon Leonard, the man who originally envisioned the concept of the two man, black and white team of spies and also backed up Cosby.

Or Fouad Said, the brilliant Egyptian born cinematographer, who met the challenge of I SPY’s around the world on location filming with innovative ideas and concepts that revolutionized television and film making beyond I SPY.

Or Earle Hagen, who scored the show, writing a musical accompaniment for each episode, incorporating musical styles and flavors from the many exotic locations I SPY filmed.

Or any of the people who worked on I SPY, from top executive producers, to the guest stars, down to the line crews and everybody in between.

Bill Cosby’s transgressions makes it hard to celebrate I SPY and its place in television history. Believe me, I understand. But those transgressions don’t change history, nor does it change Robert Culp’s, or others, place in it. Because they did do it. And were it not for them, much of what came after them never would have happened.

~Lisa Philbrick

Peter Rodgers Organization Launches New Online Streaming of Classic TV Series’!

 

The Peter Rodgers Organization (PRO), who currently own the distribution rights to I SPY, and many others TV series’ from the 50s through the 90s, has launched its own online streaming service as of March 1st 2016. Viewers at PROClassicTV.com can watch full episodes on any device for .99 each with NO commercial interruptions. Pricing for day and week passes for those who like to binge view are in the works.

PROClassicTV.com will offer great classic TV series’ including I SPY, THE RIFLEMAN, CELEBRITY BOWLING, PETER GUNN and THE SAINT among many others with full episodes and entire seasons of each show being available for viewing.

PRO’s mission “is ensuring iconic television shows perseverance and ability to entertain generations of TV viewers, past, present and future.”

Which means shows like I SPY will continue to remain available for viewing one way or another. And we’re happy to hear that!

You can check out more from the Peter Rodgers Organization at their website, on Facebook and Twitter.

~Lisa Philbrick

Fox Reportedly “Bullish” on Rebooting The Greatest American Hero – For the Second Time

Greatest American HeroStop me if you’ve heard this before…

Oh. Yeah, you have heard this before. About a year ago, when Fox gave the green light to Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who wrote and directed THE LEGO MOVIE and also directed a big screen version of Stephen Cannell’s 21 JUMP STREET, to film a pilot for a new take on THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO. We’ve heard nothing more since then about a script, or actors or anything.

Frankly, one might have figured the project died, but according Deadline Hollywood, it’s still very much alive and Fox is reported to be “bullish” on getting this one to American TV screens.

It’s been a year and apparently a change in writers, but a casting director has now been hired to scout out some talent. Nathan Fillion expressed some interest in playing the lead during a Q&A session at Chicago’s Wizard World Comic Con back in August, 2015.

GREATEST_AMERICAN_HERO_S2_D5-68It’s also unclear if the concept has changed. Originally, it sounded like Ralph, Pam and Bill were NOT going to be rebooted, that it would be all new original characters; an inner city teacher named Issac would be the recipient of the suit. Now, based on the recent Deadline Hollywood article, the script written by Rick Famuyiwa (DOPE), “is the story of what happens when great power is not met with great responsibility. An ordinary man, completely content with being average, wakes up with a superpower suit he never asked for and has to deal with the complications it brings his life.”

Given Hollywood’s penchant for lampooning and doing parody’s of original shows, it really doesn’t sound encouraging.

 

 

~Lisa Philbrick

Hickey & Boggs: The Aero Theatre Q&A is BACK!

Recently I shared on Facebook several HICKEY & BOGGS articles I had written back in 2012 for the 40th anniversary of the film. One of the articles made reference to a 2007 screening of H&B at the Aero Theatre in Los Angeles with Robert Culp on hand afterwards for a Q&A session. Video of the event existed at the time of the posting in 2012 – and then disappeared some two weeks later. The source of the video, a website known as Criminally Unknown which was dedicated to discussing lesser known films, all but fell off the face of the earth at the time. The links to vids on their Facebook page disappeared, their website disappeared, and only one segment of the nearly 45 minute Q&A survived still on YouTube. It seemed the entire Q&A session was lost forever.

But lo… it was not lost! After sharing the articles I heard from a fellow Culpophile and I’m very happy to say that the vids have survived because they were saved (thanks Tatia!) and now THEY’RE BACK! And you can check them out below.

 

I have also updated my original 2012 posting and placed the vids there as well.

Yet Another Open Letter to NBC

Dear NBC,

So, the last time I wrote to you, just over two years ago, I whined and cried because Robert Culp’s Saturday Night Live monologue along with the opening sketch he did with Eddie Murphy that had been available for viewing on your website had disappeared. As you may recall, we’ve had an on again, off again relationship regarding this material. But like Nancy Sinatra, who found herself another box of matches, I since found the clips on Hulu.com (which are still available) and also about a year or so ago on Yahoo Screen (also still available).

Recently, however, it looks like you’re back on my Valentine’s list NBC, as the clips are now back where they belong on your redesigned website, with what appears to be additional sketches (none with Culp) from the same episode.

So, I just wanted to say thank you for keeping this material out there via various sources. I know the internet is a fickle place, things come and go, technologies change, platforms change and all, but I appreciate that the material remains available.