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America seems to have a new fascination with live television. NBC has found ratings success by presenting Broadway musicals such as The Sound of Music, Peter Pan, and The Wiz.
This has spawned others to get into the game. Tonight Fox presented Grease and ABC has announced its entry into the game with Dirty Dancing.
The artistic ratings haven’t exactly matched the Nielsen numbers. Because they lack a live audience, laugh lines fall flat and musical numbers end without reaction.
Periodically, regularly scheduled series have opted to go the live route in order to boost interest in their shows. ER did it in 1997 and sitcoms Will & Grace and The Drew Carey Show did it multiple times over their runs.
So, why the allure? Is it just a disaster watch? Is it audiences just wanting to be there when an actor flubs his lines or a camera goes down?
Surely, it’s not nostalgia for television before video tape (or even kinescopes, for that matter). That was, bluntly put, mostly bad TV.
I find it all rather amusing myself, since I’ve logged thousands of hours working live television. Sure, I’ve seen plenty of mistakes and made more than my share of them. But then, working in sports, none of my telecasts have been scripted and rehearsed for months on end.
And if it happens, it happens. We have a saying, “Hey, it’s not brain surgery and nobody dies.”