Saturday, February 18, 2017

Nero Wolfe

Nero Wolfe is a fictional detective, created in 1934 by the American mystery writer Rex Stout. Wolfe's confidential assistant Archie Goodwin narrates the cases of the detective genius. Stout wrote 33 novels and 39 short stories from 1934 to 1974, with most of them set in New York City. Wolfe's residence, a luxurious brownstone on West 35th Street, features prominently in the series. Many radio, television and film adaptations were made from his works.
The Nero Wolfe corpus was nominated for Best Mystery Series of the Century at Bouchercon 2000, the world's largest mystery convention, and Rex Stout was a nominee for Best Mystery Writer of the Century.

Nero Wolfe made his way to radio in 1943 in The Adventures of Nero Wolfe for ABC. Three actors portrayed Nero Wolfe over the course of the series. J.B. Williams starred in its first incarnation, broadcast Wednesdays on the New England Network (April 7–June 30, 1943). Santos Ortega assumed the role when the suspense drama moved to ABC on Mondays (July 5–September 27, 1943) and Fridays (January 21–July 14, 1944). Luis Van Rooten succeeded Ortega in 1944, Nero Wolfe's last year on ABC.

"Santos Ortega played Wolfe," wrote John McAleer in Rex Stout: A Biography. "John Gibson was Archie. Gibson was breezy and Ortega wheezy — indeed, he opened the program with a wheeze, as his signature... Rex thought the actors were creditable but winced at the plots. He never listened to the broadcasts... Louis Vittes was the chief scriptwriter and wrote most of the scripts. None of Rex's story material was used. All characters beside Wolfe, Archie and Cramer were ABC's own. For the use of Wolfe and Archie, Rex received a weekly royalty.
"Differences between (ABC producer) Hi Brown and Edwin Fadiman, who represented Rex's radio, screen and television interests, as Nero Wolfe Attractions, Inc., prevented its later resumption on ABC," McAleer reported. "This fact Brown regretted. 'Nero Wolfe,' Brown says, 'is one of the strongest and most successful detective characters in all of fiction.'"

"The series next surfaced early in 1946, on Sundays, on the Mutual Network," wrote Stout biographer John McAleer, "with Francis X. Bushman, one-time movie idol, as Wolfe, and Elliott Lewis as Archie. ... The scripts once again were network originals. The humor verged on slapstick." The concluding show in the series, "The Case of the Shakespeare Folio," aired December 15, 1946.

1950 -- 1951 Series: "THE NEW ADVENTURES OF NERO WOLFE" (25 episodes)
NETWORK: NBC, SPONSOR: SUSTAINED, TIME: Fridays: 8:00 - 8:30 pm
STARS: Sidney Greenstreet as Nero Wolfe. Archie played by various actors
WRITER: Louis Vittes based on the stories by Rex Stout; ANNOUNCER: Don Stanley; PRODUCER: Edwin Fadiman; DIRECTOR: J. Donald Wilson.
1982, 60 minutes
Mavor Moore and Don Francks
in the CBC Radio drama series Nero Wolfe.

In 1982, Canadian actor, producer, writer and cultural pioneer Mavor Moore (1919–2006) starred as Nero Wolfe in the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's 13-episode radio series Nero Wolfe (a.k.a. Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe). Don Francks portrayed Archie Goodwin, and Cec Linder played Inspector Cramer.

Sources: Nero Wolfe Wikipedia and Nero Wolfe(radio) via Wikipedia

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Academy Award

 Academy Award was a CBS radio anthology series which presented 30-minute adaptations of plays, novels or films.

Rather than adaptations of Oscar-winning films, as the title implied, the series offered "Hollywood's finest, the great picture plays, the great actors and actresses, techniques and skills, chosen from the honor roll of those who have won or been nominated for the famous golden Oscar of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences."

With that as a guideline, any drama could be presented as long as the cast included at least one Oscar-nominated performer. For example, Robert Nathan's 1940 novel Portrait of Jennie was not released as a film until 1949. David O. Selznick, having acquired the rights to Nathan's novel in 1944, was spending much time and money in his efforts to bring it to the screen. Thus, Academy Award's December 4, 1946 adaptation of Portrait of Jennie, with John Lund and Oscar-winner Joan Fontaine, had a promotional aspect, concluding with host/announcer Hugh Brundage revealing, "Portrait of Jennie is soon to be a Selznick International picture starring Jennifer Jones and Joseph Cotten."

The program initially aired on Saturdays at 7pm(et) through June, then moved to Wednesdays at 10pm(et). Frank Wilson scripted the 30-minute adaptations for producer-director Dee Englebach, and Leith Stevens provided the music. The sound effects crew included Gene Twombly, Jay Roth, Clark Casey and Berne Surrey.

The series began March 30, 1946, with Bette Davis, Anne Revere and Fay Bainter in Jezebel. On that first show, Jean Hersholt spoke as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, welcoming the E.R. Squibb & Sons pharmaceutical company {"The House Of Squibb"} as the program's sponsor. It was an expensive show to produce since the stars cost $4000 a week, and another $1600 went each week to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the use of their name in the show's title. This eventually became a factor in Squibb's decision to cancel the series after only 39 weeks.

Dramas in which actors recreated their original film roles included Henry Fonda in Young Mr. Lincoln, Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon, Cary Grant in Suspicion, Gregory Peck in The Keys of the Kingdom and Ronald Colman in Lost Horizon. However, of the 39 episodes, only six actors recreated their own Oscar-winning roles: Fay Bainter, Bette Davis, Paul Lukas, Victor McLaglen, Paul Muni and Ginger Rogers.

The series ended December 18, 1946, with Margaret O'Brien and one of the series' frequent supporting players, Jeff Chandler (appearing under his real name, Ira Grossel) in Lost Angel.