[Studs’ Place 40th anniversary party at MBC]

A reception at the Museum of Broadcast Communications honoring the 40th anniversary of the premiere of Studs' Place, which first aired on November 26, 1949. Studs speaks about the show along with producer Charlie Andrews, director Dan Petrie, actress Beverly Younger, actor Win Stracke, producer Sterling "Red" Quinlan, occasional guest actor Nate Davis, and others.

00:00Copy video clip URL B-roll of museum, including footage from Studs’ Place playing on monitors and Studs himself socializing with guests.

03:33Copy video clip URL Another camera crew interviews Win Stracke. No real comprehensible audio.

05:27Copy video clip URL In conjunction with the Museum of Broadcast Communications exhibition “This is NBC Chicago: A Salute to WMAQ Television,” the museum is taking a night to honor the cast and crew of Studs’ Place, which contributed to making NBC one of America’s greatest stations. Following a brief background of the show and an overview of the evening’s program, Studs Terkel is introduced.

07:27Copy video clip URL Terkel talks about the Chicago School of Television and Studs’ Place and mentions the key players. He talks about the various roles the actors embodied – “We didn’t know at the time that that program in it’s own way represented different aspects of this country.” He bows out early to let producer Charlie Andrews describe the show’s format.

10:37Copy video clip URL Charlie Andrews explains that Studs’ Place was originally designed as a fifteen minute segment within another show, where Studs and Caroline Gilbert mostly did musical peformances. Then NBC didn’t want the show anymore, and they moved to a half-hour format on ABC. “None of us knew what we were doing. It was astonishing that things happened the way they did.” He describes the process of how the show came together during the week through daily rehearsals and the casual attitude of the cast. “Week after week the show would finish 20 seconds short, a minute, and Chet would play the piano, and what the hell, it worked just fine. So I can’t take big bows about being the producer, really, I was just one of the gang doing the best we could the best we knew how.”

14:35Copy video clip URL Andrews tells a lengthy anecdote/joke about the role of the producer on a TV show. It describes an incident with producer Mark Warner shooting a live dog food commercial. The crowd goes wild with laughter and applause. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood in the middle of a studio with a show coming around my neck and I think, ‘Here I am again with that handful of dog doo.'”

18:21Copy video clip URL Studs returns to compliment Andrews’ talents and to introduce Dan Petrie, one of the show’s directors.

19:12Copy video clip URL Dan Petrie speaks about his experience with the show. He explains that Studs was a formidable opponent when the cast disagreed with his ideas for the show and describes the drama of their arguments. He then recalls that the first time around ad-libbing was difficult, but by the second time the cast had mastered it perfectly. The same scenario would play out with guests on the show. He says this show was simply one-of-a-kind. “The response of the audience to Studs’ Place was deeper than any show I’ve done since.” He attributes this to the show’s realism, the improvisational structure, and the fact that the material came directly from the cast. He describes Studs’ touching message to the audience during the last show, and the piles of letters that resulted from it. He closes with an anecdote demonstrating audiences’ deep love and affection for Studs.

27:01Copy video clip URL Studs returns and claims that he does not deserve to be singled out for so much of the praise when the entire ensemble created the show. He requests that Beverly Younger and Win Stracke speak, and arrangements are made for them to speak from the audience due to trouble walking.

28:32Copy video clip URL Beverly Younger says she was not interested in doing the show originally, once she found out she would have to write her own lines. “Who ever heard of such a thing? Of course it was an extraordinary experience in every way.” Studs says that despite Younger’s initial misgivings or her insistence that he and Roble were more natural improvisers, she was the one who made the show seem real.

30:22Copy video clip URL Andrews interjects with a humorous anecdote about Younger’s tenacity.

31:17Copy video clip URL Win Stracke takes the mic. “The Studs’ Place years were important to us… The years of Studs’ Place were a special kind of year that has not happened to that degree before or since.” He tells a story about the late Chet Roble’s famous mixup with one of their sponsors. Roble was announcing one of the live sponsor spots that the cast integrated throughout the show. He mistakenly advertised for the wrong brand of coffee but was only halfway through the show, meaning he had to improvise and perform while imagining the terrible trouble he was going to be in after the show.

34:20Copy video clip URL Studs adds more humorous bits to the story – such as the cast’s thought of “How can we keep Chet from jumping out the window?” He then adds to Petrie’s description of the letters from viewers and explains why he believes that the show received such a great response from their audience. “Never ever was there a cheap gag… mostly there was always respect for the intelligence of the audience.” He introduces Red Quindlen, who picked up the show after it was bumped from ABC.

37:03Copy video clip URL Sterling “Red” Quindlen describes his experience with the show and how he made a deal to keep Studs’ Place in Chicago. His speech is chopped up in favor of shooting b-roll of the audience.

39:05Copy video clip URL Studs wraps up the discussion by explaining the role of guest actors on the show, and how they always played themselves.

40:21Copy video clip URL Camera follows Studs through the lobby as he greets fans and the press. The rest is b-roll unless otherwise noted.

43:13Copy video clip URL Studs asks Nate Davis, occasional guest actor on Studs’ Place, what his impression was of being on the show. Nate offers a run through of how the show evolved throughout the week, starting on Monday with a blank slate and ending on Friday with a live show after a week of rehearsing the crew’s ideas. “It was a kind of a project where you could never goof… if you forgot the lines you had before you’d create new lines.”

45:42Copy video clip URL Studs talks to Younger: “I thought it was the dumbest thing I had ever heard… but somehow you talked me into it.”

46:48Copy video clip URL Studs asks Dan what made the show different. “You the cast created the characters… there was always that unpredictability which one tries for in scripted drama but in unscripted drama you get it you don’t alway get it the other way… Over the years I’ve thought a film, a feature length film could be developed on that same technique and I think it would break through… but they’re not adventurous, they wouldn’t do it.”



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