Monday, April 01, 2002

CMT reruns Glen Campbell's show

By Jim Patterson
The Associated Press

        Walking through the Country Music Television offices in Nashville, Tenn., Brian Philips came upon some young staffers around a TV. A 30-year-old variety show with hideous 1970s fashions, deadpan comic Pat Paulsen — and terrific music — had them spellbound. It was The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.

        “We were editing a biography show about Glen, and they'd never seen anything like The Goodtime Hour,” said Mr. Philips, CMTsenior vice presidentand general manager. “That style of television is like a lost art.”

        Mr. Philips recognized an opportunity. Starting 10 p.m. Tuesday The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour will be rerun weekly on CMT, with new introductions by country singer Keith Urban.

        “We're finding that the things that the marketing world would imagine would attract a large audience for CMT are not necessarily the things that are working,” Mr. Philips said.

        “Bluegrass is working for us, attracting young and old. Our Bill Monroe biography show did Garth Brooks numbers. A show pairing Kid Rock and Hank Williams Jr. got our best ratings ever.”

        A recent show on Mr. Campbell's life pulled in strong ratings from the coveted 18-to-49 demographic, Mr. Philips said. He's hoping the Goodtime Hour reruns continue that trend.

        Many may not remember just how big a star Mr. Campbell was at his peak. He scored dozens of pop and country hits (“Gentle on My Mind” and “Rhinestone Cowboy” among them), co-starred with John Wayne in True Grit and had a weekly audience of about 50 million people for the Goodtime Hour from 1969 to '72.

        “My career exploded all over the world from that show,” said Mr. Campbell, now 65. “It was shown all over the world on the BBC. It ran in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Japan. I sold more records than ever when that hit.”

        Mr. Campbell was ideally suited to host a wide-ranging music program. Before scoring his own hits, he was a respected recording session guitarist in California, playing on records by Frank Sinatra, the Beach Boys, Elvis Presley and many others. He was also a genuine country boy from Delight, Ark., who grew up revering country music legends like Hank Williams.

        As a result, he was comfortable sitting in with a stodgy pop vocal quartet like the Vogues, singing and picking a bluegrass number like “Rocky Top,” or performing songs by the Beatles. He did all of that on the Goodtime Hour.

        “Glen really pushed to have country music on the show,” Mr. Urban said. “The network wasn't that enthusiastic about it. Merle Haggard and Buck Owens and Johnny Cash — many people didn't know about them before that.”

        Mr. Campbell got his own show after successfully hosting a summer replacement show for the Smothers Brothers during the summer of 1968. He purposely avoided the political humor that had gotten the brothers' show canceled.

        “I just wanted to do a music show, with the whole realm of music from Ella Fitzgerald to rock bands like Cream to Kenny Rogers. We had a lot of country, but we did every kind of music. The Monkees were on, and so was Johnny Cash,” said Mr. Campbell, who will perform with Andy Williams April 19-June 1 at Mr. Williams' Moon River Theatre in Branson, Mo.

        There was also a hint of the surreal on the Goodtime Hour, from garish sets to bizarre comedy pieces. In one episode, Mr. Campbell sings “Rocky Raccoon” while a troupe acts out the song's plot and Flip Wilson, in a ludicrous pink and white cowboy getup, mugs through the sketch as the title character.

        “This show is such a milestone in pop culture and country music history,” said Mr. Urban, who grew up in Australia as a Mr. Campbell fan. “The diversity is just amazing. Liberace, Neil Diamond and Linda Ronstadt are on one show. Then there's another with Stevie Wonder and Roger Miller. It's so cool.”

        Another View: ABC's The View starts repeating twice a day on A&E today, at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. A two-hour Biography of Barbara Walters, founder of The View, follows at 8 p.m. on A&E.

        Old reruns from the earliest seasons of Saturday Night Live begin airing at 7 p.m. weekdays today on E! Entertainment.

        Channel 19 news: WXIX-TV will air a nightly segment about race relations, called “Breaking Polite Silence,” on the 10 p.m. news starting today. The discussions by young people of all races is an extension of a half-hour race relations special from producer Jim Friedman broadcast last July on Channel 19.

        Around the dial: Only three episodes remain for Once and Again (10 p.m. today, Channels 9, 2), which has been canceled by ABC. Tonight Lily (Sela Ward) worries about her daughter's (Julia Whelan) close relationship with a teacher.

        John Kiesewetter contributed to this report.


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