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 itâ€™s not uncommon to have someone return to the same studio at different times of their career. But the one thing Iâ€™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 weâ€™ve had some people working from the corporate side for twenty, thirty, or even forty yearsâ€¦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 itâ€™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 showâ€™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, thereâ€™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 bossâ€™s office to give him heads up on a stage crew requirement needed for an up-coming remote. It was for the controversial sitcom, â€œAll In The Familyâ€. When he asked her for the date, she said she couldnâ€™t supply one, as they were having problems finding a suitable site.
If any of you are familiar with the show, youâ€™ll remember the lovable bigot, Archie Bunker played by Carroll Oâ€™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 â€œlittle girlâ€. When she marries â€œMeat Headâ€ 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 wasnâ€™t regional recognizable. Because the Bunkers lived in New York, we had to make sure it wasnâ€™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, thereâ€™s always someone sticking their nose into someone elseâ€™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, Orbachâ€™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, â€œ Yes, but have you checked out The Broadway on Wilshire Boulevard?â€ She looked at me incredulously, â€œAre you sure?â€ â€œTrust me, Loretta, Iâ€™m a shopper,â€ I answered. â€œThereâ€™s no name on the front doors.â€ In which she responded with, â€œBobbie, if youâ€™re right, Iâ€™m putting you in the show.â€
If you ever get an opportunity to see an episode of â€œAll In The Familyâ€ and you see Gloria protesting in front of a big department store, look closely at the woman carrying an â€œUnfair to Unwed Mothersâ€ sign, shaking her fist in the air–and youâ€™ll probably recognize me.
Itâ€™s one thing to work as an extra in front of a camera when youâ€™re not use to it, but itâ€™s another when youâ€™re doing it in front of people you know, especially cute young cameramen that youâ€™ve had a crush onâ€¦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 bossâ€™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-workersâ€¦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 Oâ€™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 donâ€™t think he even knew I had worked on his show, as he wasnâ€™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 â€œAll In The Familyâ€ 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 VIPâ€™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, â€œI didnâ€™t know you knew Carroll Oâ€™Connor personally.â€ To which I responded, â€œNeither, did I.â€
To this day I donâ€™t know if he came over just to be nice, or because he recognized me from workâ€¦and in which case, it would prove my point that it is â€œAll In The Family.â€