8 Of The Most Beloved Shows To Film At CBS Television City
The CBS Television City studios, home to some of TV's most beloved shows for more than 60 years, were sold last month for $750 million. CBS will continue taping there for at least the next five years, but it's a turning point in an epic legacy of classic programming.
Let's unlock the door to that legacy and look at some of the most memorable shows and moments that CBS Television City has given us (along with a real-life love story that happened right there on the studio lot).
THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW
Carol Burnett just won an honorary Golden Globe with a new category created in her name, and this show is the biggest part of what earned her that prize. She had a massively successful sketch comedy show with a woman lead, running 11 seasons. Burnett inspired generations of viewers, offering a public example of a woman being silly and real in front of millions of Americans.
ALL IN THE FAMILY
This show changed television and is still revered in TV history. It brought social consciousness in sitcoms to another level, centered around bigot Archie Bunker and his conflicts with the world around him. It became the most-watched show of all time, with co-creator Norman Lear and star Carroll O'Connor earning much of the credit for its success. The show also spawned numerous spinoffs, including Maude, The Jeffersons, Gloria, and more.
THE PRICE IS RIGHT
Since 1972, there's been one go-to show for when you're home during the day, and this is it. It still tapes at Television City to this day. The studio has a rich history of game shows, from Match Game to Win, Lose or Draw, but Bob Barker made this one the most iconic. Drew Carey has since taken up the baton as the other friendliest face on daytime other than Ellen. We're betting (without going over) that this show outlives us all.
ELVIS'S 1ST APPEARANCE ON THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW
While The Ed Sullivan Show was taped in New York, Elvis Presley brought rock 'n' roll to the masses in 1956 in an appearance taped at Television City. He shook his hips scandalously, and made America sit up and listen to a new sound.
This... is filmed at CBS Television City. It's where we got to watch fresh-faced stars start to take shape in the singing show that turned out the most successes in the modern era (sorry, The Voice). It's where Simon Cowell would let everyone know who he really, really hated, before moving on to the Dolby Theatre finales where he'd finally show some approval with a twinkle in his eye. While not the phenomenon it once was, leading to its brief cancellation before an inevitable resurrection on ABC, it set a standard for storytelling in modern competition shows.
George and "Weezie" Jefferson gave America a model for upwardly mobile African-Americans (as memorialized in their classic theme song). It spun out of All In The Family, with Sherman Hemsley and Marla Gibbs giving it life for 11 seasons. It set the groundwork for upper-middle-class black sitcoms that followed, from The Cosby Show [collar pull] to Black-ish.
THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS
While soap operas aren't as much of a cultural phenom as they once were, The Young and the Restless is still near the top of the list when people think about the format. The show started as an attempt to compete with more youthful soap operas from ABC — that's why you get "Young" right in the title. It birthed one of the longest-running feuds in TV history, with Jill Abbott and Katherine Chancellor carrying their battle on for decades. Over those decades, the show has aired more than 11,000 episodes.
THE LATE LATE SHOW
The show launched as a later adjunct to David Letterman's New York-based Late Show, originally hosted by the somewhat chill Tom Snyder. Each host since has upped the energy — Craig Kilborn and his sarcasm were a notch up, Craig Ferguson increased that energy to frantic, and now James Corden sings and dances his way into insomniacs' hearts each and every night. It's a place where there's room for the host to be even sillier and more off-the-wall than they already can be at 11:30. Ferguson made use of that by dropping the pretense of canned questions and aiming for more real conversations, along with discursive monologues that weren't just a series of jokes. Meanwhile, Corden's used it to make non-singing celebrities sing for you, usually in a car.
BONUS: A TELEVISION CITY LOVE STORY
We talked with photographer Donavan Freberg about Television City — he owes his very existence to the location. That's because it's where his mother met his father, comedian Stan Freberg, in the late 1950s.
Donna Andresen started in the typing pool in the studio's early days, moving her way up to being a secretary for one of the studio's executives before being recruited to be a model to help calibrate cameras in the early days of color TV.*
One day, Frank Sinatra was at the studio, when one of the new color televisions got his attention — or rather, someone on them, that being Andresen. He demanded to see her. Donavan thinks Sinatra was hoping for a date.
"So my mother just flat-out says, 'Mr. Sinatra, I'm a huge fan of yours, I'd love to be your secretary, but I want you to know right now that if I'm your secretary, there's no funny business — and I'm not going to sleep with you.'"
Sinatra agreed, and she ended up serving as both a secretary and executive producer for some of Sinatra's TV shows.
Freberg made multiple appearances — and on his second one, he asked her out. She turned him down at first, but he won her over, and ended up hiring her as his own producer. Shortly after, they were married.
* Given the biases of the time, there were issues with how those color TV models were chosen — you can read about that here.