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The George Burns And Gracie Allen Show Right Holders?

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by darkrock17, May 7, 2012.

  1. Garysb

    Garysb Cinematographer

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    Unlike "I Love Lucy", I don't believe Burns and Allen was filmed in front of a live studio audience. I don't know if the filmed show was shown in front of a audience to record their response or if its all canned laughter. It was filmed on a stage and certainly looks like a 3 camera show but there was no audience during filming. I think I read that in George's book " Gracie: A Love Story" but it was read a while ago and I am not sure.
    I found this website which says the show was shown to an audience after filming to record their response.
    http://georgegracie.wordpress.com/tag/burns-and-allen-show/page/9/
     
  2. Garysb

    Garysb Cinematographer

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    Are you sure there were that many kinescope episodes? When the show was live it aired every other week. For there to be 52 live episodes over two years they would have had to do the show year round without a break. I would be surprised if that happened.
     
  3. Jack P

    Jack P Producer

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    According to the book "Say Goodnight Gracie", the definitive guide to the series, there were 40 live broadcasts in the first two seasons, with program numbers 41-52 being assigned to repeats (using kinescopes) before the debut of the filmed format with Season 3.
     
  4. nostalgic TV guy

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    I've just received the above book, but haven't had time to read much of it yet.
    The book says that episode numbers 41-52 are repeats of earlier episodes? Because I have 8 episodes in this group (episode numbers 41-48) and they all seem to be unique episodes, with none of the plot synopses repeats of any earlier Season 1 or 2 episodes.
    I realize during the filmed Seasons (Seasons 3-8) that there were summer repeats of episodes, since each complete season was 39 or 40 episodes.
     
  5. howard1908

    howard1908 Stunt Coordinator

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    From what i've seen from the bootleg sets about 2/3 of the live episodes are in circulation, as for the other 1/3 I am not sure but it is unlikely Sony will ever release the series to the general public but there is a bootleg set on eBay with a good bulk of the series included, 215 episodes out of the 291 to be exact.
     
  6. Jim TV

    Jim TV Auditioning

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  7. Jim TV

    Jim TV Auditioning

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    I knew Ron Burns and also spoke with people involved with Sony around 2010 about all this. None of these live 1950-52 broadcasts were ever copyrighted. Jackie Gleason was one of the few television stars who did renew full rights. That's why it was easy for Gleason to market his "Lost Episodes" packages in the mid 80s. He owned it all outright. George Burns held ownership to the B & A shows but sold the masters & all claims to Columbia Pictures/Screen Gems in 1958. They were responsible for for all distribution thereafter. In the late 1980s Columbia retired all 16mm films from syndication & replaced them with 35mm prints on tape for future broadcasts. Those new versions were edited to twenty two & 1/2 minutes to fit the commercial structure of the time. These are the versions licensed to the Antena Network. The originals were Twenty six minutes. When the Columbia/Screen Gems catalog was sold to Sony Pictures they failed to renew the copyrights on the entire Burns & Allen 1952-58 film collection. The series is now completly in public domain. This is the reason they will probably never issue any home video release of the series. Fear of pirating & loss of future profit. Sony would also refrain from restoring the full length versions for syndication purposes unless an individual episode were damaged, either with audio or video problems or both. A dozen or so episodes shown on Antena Network are complete versions that have replaced older poor tape versions. Sony holds all complete 35mm Masters, with original CBS Network commercials featuring cast members, in their archives. It's all in Sony hands. There you have it. I hope this clears up any questions on the B & A Show copyright question. J.D.
     
  8. BobO'Link

    BobO'Link Producer

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    That information makes it seem like a *perfect* release for Mill Creek. With their license deal with Sony *plus* their history of PD releases it just seems like a natural...
     
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  9. Jack P

    Jack P Producer

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    If they fell into public domain then why did Sony release almost the entire 1952-53 season and the first part of the 53-54 season on VHS complete with the B.F. Goodrich/Carnation commercials? These were a prized item of the old Columbia House Video Club.
     
  10. Jim TV

    Jim TV Auditioning

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    Those VHS sets released in the 1980s were part of the old Columbia Pictures Home Video organization. That ended in 1989 when Sony purchased Columbia, Screen Gems and their entire catalog. The copyright lapse was on Sony's watch in the 1990s and beyond. It just wasn't a priority at Sony so they simply blew it. Columbia House canceled further releases of the series due to low sales. Ron Burns felt they should have issued the later seasons first. 1955-1958, the episodes he was in. Ron believed the later shows didn't have as dated a look and that, simply, they were funnier. The same copyright problem pertaining to a few of the Jack Benny Programs is a similar issue. All of the CBS Benny shows broadcast live from 1950 to '58 and the videotaped episodes from 1959 to '64 were never copyrighted. The hundred plus episodes filmed between 1953-65 were. It was Universal/MCA's responsibility to renew the paperwork. They didn't catch their mistake until 1990 or so when MCA started restoration on the 104 shows Benny & Irving Fein, his & George's manager, sold for syndication. Only the shows from 1961 forward are under copyright to Universal Television. That's why you see earlier Benny shows on PBS and other outlets in poor quality from bad 16mm prints. Nobody needs to be paid anything to run them. Also as far as the earlier Burns & Allen live episodes from 1950-52, George had 26 kinescopes of the 52 broadcast. They're now part of his collection housed at the USC library in Los Angeles. I don't know if the rest are at CBS. If they did have them they would have been sent over to The Paley Center in Manhattan by now. They have the room that the network claims it doesn't. J.D,
     
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  11. Jack P

    Jack P Producer

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    Thanks for clarifying that. I was a regular subscriber to the Burns and Allen releases and enjoyed each one. I've since had them safely transferred to DVD and integrated them into my overall "boot" set someone else furnished for me.
     
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  12. Dave Lawrence

    Dave Lawrence Supporting Actor

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    Great discussion. Although when I first saw that this old thread had been bumped back up after nearly 2 years, I started to think that maybe Christmas had come early and there was finally an announcement for this, one of my most wanted unreleased shows.

    Alas, that wasn't the case this time. But at least I have my recordings from Antenna TV along with some of the PD live-era shows, which is better than nothing.
     
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  13. Neil Brock

    Neil Brock Producer

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    So even George himself didn't have a full set of the 52 live shows. Interesting. My guess would be that many of them are gone. CBS was not good about keeping kines of live sitcoms in that era, as evidenced by the scant amount of episodes that exist of The Goldbergs, Mama, My Friend Irma, Meet Millie and any of their other live shows.
     
  14. Jack P

    Jack P Producer

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    Regarding the Benny filmed shows, I seem to remember that Comedy Central did air some of the late 50s filmed shows done in Europe that had Maurice Chevalier guesting in one, and in another episode an unknown Sean Connery playing an Italian cab driver (with bad accent) in one scene for a Venice episode. Are those not part of the current rerun package?
     
  15. Jim TV

    Jim TV Auditioning

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    This is very involved looking back 65 years to the standards used in broadcasting compared to the 21st century. These people came out of the world of network radio. Everything was live on radio. Programs were re-staged three hours later for the west coast. CBS and NBC vetoed any recorded shows over their lines. Their logic was the listener would turn off recorded programming. This process would have overloaded budgets in television. In 1946 Bing Crosby was the first major radio star to record his programs for later broadcast. After ten years at NBC he switched to the new ABC Network. The reason? ABC OK'd Crosby recording a month of shows in one day so he could play golf on Wednesday afternoons. These were recorded on 16 inch transcription discs, as they were called. His team switched to tape in '49. Les Paul told me they tried to use the magnetic tape the US Army found in Germany at the end of WW II but it was too unstable. Crosby invested the capital to perfect tape recording for radio with Ampex Corp and did the same five years later to create a video tape format. The reason for developing a video tape system? Not for preservation but for less expensive re-use! Live shows were shot on 35mm film. They looked beautiful. I've seen Bob Hope's 35mm films of his live shows circa 1954-57. I've never seen live 1950s television look that good. He had the cash to save his specials in their orginal formats. The 16mm kinescopes that have survived are common artist copies for home use or library dubs saved for legal purposes. After broadcast, the 35mm copies were turned into Kodak as used element stock for credit. In 1956 CBS and NBC would spend in one month on film as much as all the studios in Hollywood would spend in a year! All that space, the cost. That's why these films & videotapes are gone. They were made for one day use & then gone the next. I tried to find two Perry Como Kraft Music Hall's that George Burns was on in '62 & '63. The '62 appearence was rerun a year later so I thought a tape may have survived. It was one of only four Como Shows ever repeated. NBC didn't have it, Ron Burns didn't have it, Como's family didn't either. I discovered it in the sponsors collection, the only copy on earth. You never know where these things are. As far other public domain material out there, a Jack Benny show was filmed in 1954 with George, Crosby and a cameo with Hope. It's around because of the deal Benny's people made. No one was paid to appear in this. They traded guest shots on each others shows. The stipulation was that this filmed half hour would never be rerun. No copyright forms were filed out so it just went into limbo. It was repeated around 1957 with a new introduction but that didn't matter 20 years later when it started to get around on 16mm film & u-matic tapes. And as far as new introductions on earlier run film shows, that's why the original Burns And Allen Shows have summer reruns numbered as part of the series. They were not the original broadcast episodes. The cast would film new commercials for the summer repeats and George would shoot new intros saying something like, "this was one of our favorite shows and we thought you might like to see it again." A few of these are in the permanent syndication package because the masters were recut and never restored. This was common on shows before multiple sponsorship came in around 1960. All of the "I Love Lucy"s were shot with the cast in cigarette spots. All of that had to be removed for the 1955 Sunday afternoon repeats, the '57 prime time reruns, the '59 daytime run and on and on and on. Now hardcore collectors are making a fortune selling video copies of these spots, once thought as garbage, back to these studios has DVD extras. Another little Burns tidbit you might get a kick out of; when George introduced his magic TV into the show where he watched the insanity from his garage's upstairs den, the TV was a Zenith. For all the exposure that set got, Burns was able to negotiate with Zenith Television to give all the principal cast members a brand new 1956 19 inch set. Say goodnight!
     
  16. FanCollector

    FanCollector Producer

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    Thanks for all the details, even though a lot of it is bad news. The story I read about the Goldie, Fields, and Glide show on Jack Benny was that they wanted to rerun it and intended to do so, but Crosby insisted on his full fee for the rerun and because there was no previously agreed contractual amount, he had the right to insist on it and so they didn't rerun it until syndication. (Ironic, given that the subject of the episode is Benny's resistance to paying Crosby his $10,000 to appear on the show in the first place.)
     
  17. Jim TV

    Jim TV Auditioning

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    As far as the Benny shows filmed in Europe in 1956, all are, and have been since 1966, in the MCA syndication package. Unedited, except for the Lucky Strike commercials, they are run on The Antena Network. Benny did not appear in those spots. They were for the most part created by the ad agency. Don't believe what you read. That Crosby appearence was a trade off. Benny appeared on Crosby's January '54 CBS special. A filmed half hour with a laugh track advertised as Crosby's television debut. He did co-host a telethon with Hope two years earlier for The US Olympic Committee but that wasn't his show. Crosby waited three years past most of his contemporaries to appear on television and stayed on radio for years after most had left. This Crosby special was a big deal then and was filmed by George Burns' production company, McCadden, as were the earliest filmed Benny shows in '53 & '54. Only one of these Benny shows filmed by McCadden is, or ever was, in syndication. It's called, "How Jack Met Mary" from October '54. It's numbered as episode 1 but it wasn't the first filmed. The date on opening title card is wrong on the restored film Universal offers today. The original broadcast states (c)1954 McCadden and goes directly into a Lucky Strike spot. The end credits have George's company as house producer. There are filmed Benny shows with George & Gracie, Vincent Price, Ronald Colman, Barbara Stanwyck, his daughter Joan Benny, all repeated on the CBS Network in the late 50s and some were seen on the short run Benny daytime CBS reruns in 1964-65 but never in syndication. That decision was made by Jack and Irving Fein in 1966. All these films, the Crosby special, the 50s Benny shows are now PD. This generation of entertainers helped each then and traded these guest shots. It would simply be more for the IRS if they were paid.
     
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  18. Mark McFurbin

    Mark McFurbin Stunt Coordinator

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    While I appreciate all the cool insider information you are bringing to the board, this is incorrect. Yes all of the kinescope episodes of Burns and Allen are PD but Sony Pictures did not fail renew the copyrights on the entire series of Burns & Allen. If my memory serves me correctly there are only two of the filmed episodes that weren't renewed. That's why you see the same couple episodes thrown in with random kinescope episodes floating around on random PD releases.
     
  19. John Karras

    John Karras Second Unit

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    Radio historians claim that Crosby's radio show began pre-recording with magnetic tape in Oct. 1947.
     
  20. Jim TV

    Jim TV Auditioning

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    Hey everybody. As far The Burns And Allen Show and Sony, that information about copyright renewal came from a Sony Corp spokesperson in Los Angeles in 2010 to a colleague of mine in the media. He was questioning if these 239 episodes that were, and still are, licensed to The Amte
     

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