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All In The Family

January 13, 2009 by in category Blogs tagged as with 2 and 0
Home > Writing > Blogs > All In The Family

By Bobbie Cimo

Besides CBS once being known as the Tiffany Network, it also had the reputation as being the most friendliest studio in town to work for. People who work in the entertainment field and especially in Production can bounce from one lot to another, depending on where they land employment for the next upcoming season. So it’s not uncommon to have someone return to the same studio at different times of their career. But the one thing I’ve heard repeatedly when someone returned to CBS was how happy they were to be back, because it was like coming home to family. Which might explain why we’ve had some people working from the corporate side for twenty, thirty, or even forty years…and up until a few weeks ago, one person for over sixty-four years and only left because of down sizing.

At one time the department I worked in, Stage Operations, shared it’s offices with the Production Supervisors Department. For those of you not familiar with the term Production Supervisors, they were considered the go-betweens, between studio and Production. In another words, they were the person who represented CBS, but also made sure that all the show’s requirements were met while keeping track of the budget. If an error was made during taping and it was a technical problem caused by CBS, the show would receive a rebate. But if the problem was caused by production, then the show would be charged. Simply put, the PS acted as a referee. But like in all families, there’s always the occasional disagreement.

In most cases the relationship was amiable. But once in a while a PS would have to be reminded who they worked for, especially when they seemed to favor the Production

Company more than the people who were giving them a paycheck. And maybe sometimes that was true, especially when a PS would resign from CBS because they had been wooed away by Production and landed themselves as the newest Executive Producer of the show.

A Production Supervisor once wandered into my boss’s office to give him heads up on a stage crew requirement needed for an up-coming remote. It was for the controversial sitcom, “All In The Family”. When he asked her for the date, she said she couldn’t supply one, as they were having problems finding a suitable site.

If any of you are familiar with the show, you’ll remember the lovable bigot, Archie Bunker played by Carroll O’Connor. He was married to the sweet, lovable Edith, who he constantly told to stifle herself. Their grown-up daughter Gloria was played by Sally Struthers, who Archie affectionately referred to as “little girl”. When she marries “Meat Head” and becomes pregnant, her boss fires her. Gloria retaliates by forming a protest rally in front of the department store where she was fired from.

The problem with finding a site was to make sure it wasn’t regional recognizable. Because the Bunkers lived in New York, we had to make sure it wasn’t a department store located only on the West Coast. Plus CBS was not about to give away free ad space during a primetime show.

Hearing the problems with Production, I piped in with a possible solution. Yes, just like with any family, there’s always someone sticking their nose into someone else’s business. Loretta, the PS, thanked me for my input, but assured me they had checked out all the major department stores, like MayCo, Robinsons, Neiman Marcus, Orbach’s, The Broadway, Joseph, and I Magnums to name a few (some of you are probably too young to know any of these stores). I acknowledged her selection by saying, “ Yes, but have you checked out The Broadway on Wilshire Boulevard?” She looked at me incredulously, “Are you sure?” “Trust me, Loretta, I’m a shopper,” I answered. “There’s no name on the front doors.” In which she responded with, “Bobbie, if you’re right, I’m putting you in the show.”

If you ever get an opportunity to see an episode of “All In The Family” and you see Gloria protesting in front of a big department store, look closely at the woman carrying an “Unfair to Unwed Mothers” sign, shaking her fist in the air–and you’ll probably recognize me.

It’s one thing to work as an extra in front of a camera when you’re not use to it, but it’s another when you’re doing it in front of people you know, especially cute young cameramen that you’ve had a crush on…whose egging you on to put more of yourself into the scene of an unwed mother.

The first time I saw my piece, I locked myself in my boss’s office and watched the New York feed alone (the New York feed is three hours earlier than the West Coast feed). Then I watched it later in the day with my anxious co-workers…only I had my hands over my eyes. The third time I watched it was that night with family. That was the last time I saw it, (many, many years ago).

I would occasionally see Carroll O’Connor in the hallways at work and sometimes I would even share a ride in an elevator with him. Outside of saying hello and a few words, he very rarely ever spoke to me. I don’t think he even knew I had worked on his show, as he wasn’t in the scene that day.

Carroll also was co-owner of a well known restaurant in Beverly Hills called the Gingerbread Man around the height of his “All In The Family” career. Because I heard they had excellent food and it was a fun place, I went to dinner with my sister there. For some reason I got lucky that night and was placed at a prime spot, across from a roped off table which I assumed was reserved for either VIP’s or for Carroll himself, who probably just lent his name to the restaurant, but most likely never showed up. I was proven wrong when Carroll came over to our table, shook hands with me and my sister and asked if I was being treated all right. He chatted for awhile and left, never stopping to talk to anyone else. After he left, my sister said to me, “I didn’t know you knew Carroll O’Connor personally.” To which I responded, “Neither, did I.”

To this day I don’t know if he came over just to be nice, or because he recognized me from work…and in which case, it would prove my point that it is “All In The Family.”

2 Comments

  • Anonymous
    on January 31, 2009

    Thanks, Sue. Yes, he turned out to be a really nice man. Thanks for reading my blog.

    Bobbie

  • Anonymous
    on January 29, 2009

    I am so glad you finally wrote about being an unwed mother…uh, on TV, that is! 😉 I didn’t know about restaurant encounter, though. That’s cool!

    Keep writing these, Bobbie! I love them!

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