Television: Due Bills

Searchlights swept the Manhattan sky above the old Ed Sullivan Theater on Manhattan's West Side. Autograph freaks gaped at a parade of celebrities. The atmosphere was as neon as a Hollywood première in the '20s. Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell—the first live TV variety series since the Ed Sullivan Show rode out in March 1971—was under way. It lived up—and down—to expectations. Roone Arledge, the hard-driving Barnum of ABC Sports, who developed the latter-day vaudeville along with Cosell, had burbled, "We want people to feel, 'Boy, I better not miss this tonight...

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