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Tonight Show "Vault" Series-Some Thoughts


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#1 of 81 ONLINE   Jack P

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Posted July 05 2013 - 02:15 PM

Like many people, I was very annoyed with the overpriced ripoff that was the "Classic Episodes" set of the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson that instead gave us hacked up 30 minute versions with all kinds of disgraceful signs of cost-cutting (editing out any trace of guests that we weren't supposed to see).     So when Carson Entertainment announced the debut of this "Vault" series and promised that in response to the fans requests we were finally going to get releases of UNCUT shows, I was willing to let bygones be bygones and support this.    I was even willing to look past the fact that the first two releases in #1 of this series are shows that have already been in the collectors trade circles for a number of years because I was willing to support the release of the most pristine version possible.

 

The disc came today.    I pop it in and was greeted to a menu screen that I thought looked classy and nice.   Resembling the Burbank vault, we see on the menu screen the option to watch either show, the 10/2/72 10th anniversary show or the 9/19/72 program with or without commercials.      I press 9/19/72 with commercials option.    I see the NBC peacock intro come up.   And then......

 

I HEAR A REPLACED VERSION OF THE TONIGHT SHOW THEME!    Not the live version played on that broadcast, but the pre-recorded one that Jeff Sotzing had inserted at the beginning of all those hacked up programs in the last set to cut down on music fees.    That meant that Ed McMahon's reading of the guests is also eliminated and we hear this pick-up pre-recorded version of the them, totally counterfeit to what was broadcast that night playing until after Johnny enters.

 

I then noticed that even *with* commercials, the running time is only 76 minutes.    If this were truly "uncut" and duplicating the episodes as we were able to obtain them from the Carson vault years ago, we would have been hearing the band playing during the commercial breaks when stations were running local ads (vault copies would only have commercials that aired on the network as a whole).   So in this supposedly "uncut" version not only is a vital element of the program taken out AGAIN, but we also lose the other part of our ability to hear how good the band was.

 

To be fair, the 10/2/72 *does* leave in the correct "live" version of the theme and Ed's reading of the guests but it too is 76 minutes only with ads, meaning once again we lose the commercial bumper parts of the band playing.

 

I would have been willing to accept these things IF, they had said ahead of time that this was something they had to do in order to release these shows but Carson Entertainment sold these shows as UNCUT.   They are NOT!    Unless we hear the theme as Doc and the band played it on that show, then the program is compromised.      And to leave out the band's playing during and coming back from commercial is not giving us the true archival presentation either.     

 

Given the track record of how Jeff Sotizing has shown a total inability to understand the Carson fanbase and instead looked for every possible way to cut corners (the "Carson on TCM" programs BTW, cut out all traces of Ed McMahon!) for this to happen on what was supposed to be the moment when he was finally hearing the requests of the fans and to falsely sell these as "UNCUT" is IMO the crowning disgrace to the biggest mismanagement of a classic TV archive there has ever been.



#2 of 81 OFFLINE   Vahan_Nisanain

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Posted July 05 2013 - 02:46 PM

Jeff Sotizing is nothing but a brainless idiot. He is more than enough to make his uncle roll in his grave.



#3 of 81 OFFLINE   AndyMcKinney

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Posted July 05 2013 - 04:01 PM

sounds like he might have just shot a great idea in the foot. Although it can be left to interpretation whether the band segments during the "local" commercials being snipped compromises the set (after all, the only people who ever saw the shows that way originally were those of us fortunate enough to be watching the network feeds on C-band), using the "canned" version of the theme is definitely the wrong move.

 

There will be people like me who will avoid the set for such as this, and the management of Carson will probably (wrongly) assume there wasn't sufficient interest in these. I would have paid full price for episodes to have been fully-uncut (like the previous VHS-from-the-Vault program), but now, I wouldn't even pay half price.


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#4 of 81 ONLINE   Jack P

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Posted July 05 2013 - 05:13 PM

I suppose if this is Sotzing's policy regarding the band, then that means he's never going to release an episode where Johnny bombs in the monologue and the band would then start playing "Tea For Two."



#5 of 81 OFFLINE   John Karras

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Posted July 10 2013 - 06:38 PM

I had my doubts about this release as well, but I decided to risk it just to see how they would handle this "uncut" claim, especially how they would handle the band breaks during commercials. As stated above, the "tinkering" is very annoying (replacement theme, no local band breaks etc.). Not to mention that any snippets you actually do hear coming back from a break is not what was really being played during the show, but one of several licensed stock clips.

 

The other even more annoying element is that all of the guest entrance music has been substituted as well. Since when has anyone seen Bob hope walk onto a talk show with cheesy royalty-free music instead of his trademark "Thanks For The Memory"?

Sotzing didn't see fit to even include a fine-print disclaimer on the back of the DVD box.

 

This release will be my first and last "Vault Series" purchase.


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#6 of 81 OFFLINE   EricSchulz

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Posted July 10 2013 - 06:48 PM

This sounds like the same debacle that plagued the "uncut" Carol Burnett shows released last year....



#7 of 81 OFFLINE   JohnMor

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Posted July 10 2013 - 06:57 PM

This sounds like the same debacle that plagued the "uncut" Carol Burnett shows released last year....

 

I think this sounds worse.  They cut some music from some of the Burnett shows, but they never resorted to music replacement.  And as disappointed as I was with the music not included, I was amazed at the number of uncut, complete episodes they did include.  With their weekly mini-musicals and music guests, the Burnett show does have to be a licensing nightmare.

 

Although, yeah, never right to advertise anything as uncut when it's not.  You'd think that would be a given at this late stage of the game, but clearly not.  At least not for some companies anyway. 


Edited by JohnMor, July 10 2013 - 07:00 PM.

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#8 of 81 OFFLINE   JoeDoakes

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Posted July 10 2013 - 07:26 PM

I think it is unfair to criticize them for not including the never broadcast music played during commercials.  Most people interpret uncut as original broadcast version.  I think it's fair to mount an effort to get them to include band outtakes on future releases if that's what you want.  They probably felt that most people would be bored by it (perhaps not the Carson fan base).   As for replacing the original playing of the opening theme on one of two episodes, that is a fair criticism, but not a major one.  I really don't see a reason for them to do it, so it may have been a mistake.  I suspect you would be better served by letting them know what improvements you would like to see on future releases rather than denouncing this one.



#9 of 81 OFFLINE   JoeDoakes

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Posted July 10 2013 - 07:28 PM

Wait! Wait! No, Thanks for the Memory!  Well then boycott it if you must.



#10 of 81 ONLINE   Jack P

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Posted July 10 2013 - 08:11 PM

I think it is unfair to criticize them for not including the never broadcast music played during commercials.  Most people interpret uncut as original broadcast version.  I think it's fair to mount an effort to get them to include band outtakes on future releases if that's what you want.  They probably felt that most people would be bored by it (perhaps not the Carson fan base).   As for replacing the original playing of the opening theme on one of two episodes, that is a fair criticism, but not a major one.  I really don't see a reason for them to do it, so it may have been a mistake.  I suspect you would be better served by letting them know what improvements you would like to see on future releases rather than denouncing this one.

 

Except that we have spent years letting Sotzing know what "improvements" need to be made, and now at a time when he was putting this out with fanfare that this was in response to the fans requests, he then pulls another cheapskate stunt again.      He's earned zero consideration at this point beacuse with him it's well past the "fool me twice" zone.

 

And if Sotzing were to see these comments and rant and rave and say, "Screw you, I'll never release anything again!" my answer would be "Good riddance!" 



#11 of 81 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted July 10 2013 - 09:39 PM

The (mis)handling of the Carson Estate has always been a real source of wonderment to me.

 

I was totally unaware of this release before this post. 

 

I'm not concerned about the missing band music which had been aired during the local avails...but replacing the broadcast opening with a canned version of the theme (I'm assuming it is the Mancini version?) is definitely unacceptable--even more so with the tag of "uncut.". 

 

But to have the bulk of two episodes on the release must still have been extremely entertaining? 

 

EDIT:  Oh, I missed that there was also music replacement of the guests' "play-ons."  That sucks.  Yes, not having Bob Hope walk on to "Thanks for the Memories" really could be a deal breaker. 


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#12 of 81 OFFLINE   borisfw

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Posted July 11 2013 - 06:42 PM

I'm glad i read this thread . I was planning on buying this first DVD to see how it turned out . But now I'm having second thoughts .   :(



#13 of 81 OFFLINE   Neil Brock

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Posted July 12 2013 - 06:47 AM

I can understand the issue. After, how can he afford to pay music licensing out the hundreds of millions of dollars he must have inherited.


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#14 of 81 OFFLINE   AndyMcKinney

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Posted July 12 2013 - 06:54 AM

Looks like Carson Prods. could have tried to negotiate a "special" (reduce) royalty arrangement with the band and/or the publishers (like Carol Burnett did for the Columbia House releases of her shows several years back). I'm sure the band would like to receive some residuals rather than none, and I'm sure they'd be willing to negotiate a sum that is fairer than the music unions want. Sometimes, the music unions and publishers set

 

After all, instrumental musicians take lower-paid, non-union gigs all the time.

 

As others have said, this isn't surprising, but they have one heck of a nerve to call this DVD "uncut". I hope there's every bit as much backlash (and press exposure) as there was with the music replacement on The Fugitive. Carson Productions needs to be send a very loud message and quickly, before an edited volume 2 is released and likely ends up killing the range dead (if volume 1 doesn't do that already).


Edited by AndyMcKinney, July 12 2013 - 06:55 AM.


#15 of 81 ONLINE   Jack P

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Posted July 12 2013 - 07:27 AM

I'd also note that these two episodes that were chosen for this release are episodes that have long been in the collectors trade circuit in their true uncut state.    So it's not as if he was producing a couple of truly rare episodes that Carson fans had never seen before, he chose to release two episodes tampered knowing full well that fans like me who had these other versions were going to spend money on the *same* episodes we already had for the sake of supporting the concept of seeing more releases and for hopefully having truly pristine copies that had not been traded around.    That's what makes this the ultimate rip-off job because I have no reason to watch these altered episodes just because they represent "new" material.



#16 of 81 OFFLINE   JoeDoakes

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Posted July 12 2013 - 07:31 AM

I can understand the issue. After, how can he afford to pay music licensing out the hundreds of millions of dollars he must have inherited.

 

It would have been better if Carson had modeled his estate on the Gene Autry estate.  It has really made an enormous effort to release all of his music and movies and his tv show in restored form.



#17 of 81 OFFLINE   Cheetah

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Posted July 12 2013 - 11:23 AM

Out of curiosity are the bumpers also cut?

 

Either way, between cutting the band music during the time allotted for local ads and the replacement music, I'll certainly not be getting these.  No matter how improved the video and audio quality is or whether or not the episodes are new to the trading circuit.  After seeing and acquiring copies of several episodes with the band music intact, I don't want to spend money on edited episodes.


Edited by Cheetah, July 12 2013 - 11:27 AM.

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#18 of 81 OFFLINE   David Rain

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Posted July 15 2013 - 09:58 PM

TCM is airing some classic individual interviews from Johnny's Tonight Show. It's called Caron on TCM and is hosted by Conan what's-his-name.


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#19 of 81 ONLINE   Jack P

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Posted July 15 2013 - 10:31 PM

And those too follow the Sotzing cheapskate model of (1) hacking out all trace of Ed McMahon and all other guests on the couch and (2) replacement music.   I'll be honest, my whole enthusiasm for those TCM programs went out the window the minute I saw that this "Vault" DVD was not uncut.    If there's no formula for ever seeing the Tonight Show in its proper state, then my interest in anything else that is doneis non-existent.  



#20 of 81 OFFLINE   JMFabianoRPL

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Posted July 16 2013 - 08:13 AM

Disappointing, but not surprising.  Like I said, you will never, never, never see a complete set of any variety show or talk show on DVD.  Not with the way clearance issues work now, and it's a double whammy for these types of programs cause you have to clear music AND celebrity appearances. 

 

I think game show sets fall under this category too. 


Edited by JMFabianoRPL, July 16 2013 - 08:17 AM.

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