A recurring nightmare haunts TV men. The nightmare scene, set in any American living room, begins and ends quickly when Mom or Pop or Junior or Sis snaps off the TV set with the dreaded verdict: "There's nothing on tonight."
The industry this year passionately hopes to make such a verdict impossible. Millions of dollarsand thousands of individual careersare at stake as the net works, film makers, admen and sponsors gamble seven nights a week to keep Americans glued to their 32 million TV sets. Like circus barkers pulling in a crowd, TV spokesmen shout about the wonders to come. They promise the finest opera, the best ballet, the most gripping drama, the newest movies, the funniest comedians and dozens on dozens of full-color, star-studded Spectacularsa monster extravaganza planned to make U.S. living rooms jump with the most concentrated entertainment the world has ever seen.
And this is only the beginning. In his 20th-floor office on Manhattan's Madison Avenue, CBS President Frank Stanton (Ph.D. in Psychology, Ohio State '35) cries: "Not even the sky is the limit. The potentials of television are as big as the potentials of American societyand I do not feel like setting a limit on that." In Rockefeller Center, NBC President Pat Weaver (Phi Beta Kappa, Dartmouth '30) grows ever more expansive: "Television is as big as all outdoors. The whole country can visit the Vatican and La Scala at once. Our horizons are boundless!"
What's New? One prominent TV personality, hard at work this week on his 379th consecutive program (The Ed Sullivan Show, Sun. 8 p.m., CBS), is not quite sure what all the shouting is about. Says Ed Sullivan, calmly: "Everything they're promising to do is something I've done already." Opera? Ed has presented Metropolitan Soprano Roberta Peters 21 times, oftener than any other performer on his show. Ballet? Moira Shearer, Margot Fonteyn and the Sadler's Wells Ballet troupe made their first U.S. TV appearances with Sullivan (whose show was known as Toast of the Town until last month). Drama? Ed has given his viewers excerpts from more than 50 Broadway hits, including the smash successes Pajama Game, The Member of the Wedding, South Pacific and Don Juan in Hell. Movies? Sullivan's show pioneered in showing pre-release snatches of films (as in this week's Guys & Dolls, starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons and Frank Sinatra, with music by Frank Loesser). Comedians? Ed has ransacked the U.S. and Europe for funnymen; Victor Borge, Jackie Gleason, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis all made their TV debuts on the Sullivan program. Spectaculars? Ed is convinced that the basic idea came from such Toast of the Town biographies as those of Oscar Hammerstein II, Bea Lillie, Cole Porter and Walt Disney. Sullivan boasts that his show was the first to 1) have a permanent chorus line, 2) originate outside Manhattan, 3) introduce celebrities from the audience.