Remembering Merv Griffin
With Letterman, Leno, Kimmel, Conan and all the late night talk shows today, it's hard to remember how revolutionary it was for Merv Griffin to be hired by CBS to host a late-night talk show back in 1969. Griffin had a successful daytime talk show, so CBS put him on at 11:30 p.m. to compete with late-night king Johnny Carson on NBC, and Joey Bishop on ABC. It was the first time both ABC and CBS went after Carson, and it didn't work for CBS. But it was great fun having the choice of three shows to see lots of stars, much more than today -- because each show ran 90 minutes, and had a wider guest list. (The first casualty was Bishop and his sidekick Regis Philbin, replaced by Dick Cavett six months later.)
It was the same way with Griffin's daytime talk show. Along with Mike Douglas, and Steve Allen and others, daytime viewers had a chance to see many of Hollywood's greatest/newest stars. I recall Griffin, a former band singer, as a good listener and interviewer, but he would gush over his guests. (Was it "Second City" that did the killer parody of him gushing? Help me out here.)
He made his money, of course, creating "Jeopardy!" and "Wheel of Fortune." He created a new show for call, "Merv Griffin Crosswords," will will debut Sept. 10 on WKRC-TV (10:30 a.m., Channel 12). It replaces "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire," which was not renewed by Ch. 12.
For more about "Crosswords," go to http://www.merv.com/
For a perspective on the career of the game show creator/producer/talk show host/singer Merv Griffin, I contacted Raymond J. Brune, the 1980 Elder High School graduate
http://www.rayjay.tv/ who is one of the two co-heads of television for Merv Griffin Entertainment. Brune said he couldn't talk, deferring comment on Griffin to Griffin's son. So I thought it was worth repeating comments about Griffin from my November Q&A with Brune:
What's Merv like?
"Merv is amazing. Every day is like being in graduate school – watching him work, negotiate, produce, create and manage people. One of the cool things about Merv is that he's in a position to produce shows just for the love of TV. Making money is not the priority. He’s not afraid to tell network presidents to get lost if they don’t agree with his vision. "
So he gives you clout?
"He can call anyone in
He knows everyone?
"In May I had dinner with him and Nancy Reagan. On Merv's 81st birthday in July, our meeting was interrupted by a call from Air Force One. The president wanted to wish Merv happy birthday. "
Were you a Merv Griffin fan? Have a favorite memory to share?