The Confessions Of A Network Page -1972-1976

While in college, I worked in the Guest Relations Department at ABC on the Page Staff. There wasn't much money involved in this "entry level" position, but it was, without question, the most interesting job of my career. The ABC Page Staff duties included stage and set security (especially important on game shows), studio audience management and various other "gopher" duties, depending on the show. The following is a partial list of the shows that I worked on as a Page. I've included some personal comments and stories with some of the entries and links to some of the show websites.

Daytime Television

Let's Make A Deal

Comedian David Steinberg - "Let's Make A Deal" (in real audio)

This was a show that I worked on a regular basis. The show taped three or four times a week, two shows a night at ABC's Television Center and involved over 300 crazed costumed audience members trying to get one of the few seats on Monty Hall's "trading floor". The audience would line up in a holding area where the show writers would distribute the "trading floor" cards (which were the plastic "now serving" numbers), to the screaming masses. The Page Staff was used to maintain order and security in this rather chaotic situation. One night Geraldo Rivera, then with ABC, doing investigative reporting, came out to film the crowd to use the footage as part of a piece he was doing on heroin addiction. He wanted the footage to reflect in the piece "the world through the eyes of an addict." The producers for "Deal" got word of what he was doing and it became a real "big deal" - the producers telling the Page staff to block Geraldo's cameras and Geraldo screaming about his 1st Amendment rights. Another night that will always haunt me as an example of the American mentality was the night that at the same time the writers were picking the screaming contestants for the trading floor the TV monitors in the same area were showing the "live" resignation of Richard Nixon. The country could have been falling apart, but to these people the most important thing was to be able to make a deal with Monty. "Let's Make A Deal" was a Hatos-Hall production, who also produced Split Second, also on the ABC Daytime schedule.

Split Second

Actress Markie Post worked on this show before making it big on "Night Court". I can't remember her "title" but it was some kind of "production assistant" job. The "payoff" at the end of each program was that the winning contestant would try to start one of five cars that were on stage, only one was set up to start. The Page staff was involved in securing the stage when the cars were "rigged" before the show. The stage was secured, a network programming executive was present, along with a broadcast standards person. The hood of each car was opened, then a sheet was draped over the entire front of the car and the mechanic would go under the sheet and under the hood, removing the coil from each car, except for one (with returning winners less cars were "rigged" each time). Then the mechanic was escorted back to a dressing room and locked up for the show as a security measure. Pages then guarded the cars until the final segment of each show.

The Dating Game

One of the many Chuck Barris produced game shows that were on the ABC daytime (and primetime) schedule. Produced by a "young", "hip" production company, led by a slightly crazed man that the public later got to know as host of "The Gong Show." This and most of the Barris shows were directed by John "The Fox" Dorsey, a wild man that perfected the rapid fire camera shot changes that were a Barris show trademark. Because of this style of directing, he would rest his "directing arm" on a custom made pillow embroidered with his nickname - "The Fox." Chuck Barris Productions also produced "The Newlywed Game", "The Parent Game" and "The New Treasure Hunt."

The Newlywed Game

The Parent Game

The New Treasure Hunt

Password

Showoffs

Girl In My Life

General Hospital

The Page staff provided set security for this show and occasionally were used in any "crowd" scenes. I was in one of the many courtroom scenes that took place over the years.

American Bandstand

My first day on the American Bandstand set the show was taping the yearly dance contest finals. Just after Dick Clark announced the winner and the contestants went nuts, the director came on the studio PA and announced that they failed to get it on tape. Dick took the hand mic he was using and threw it across the stage. Wait a minute? My hero - Dick Clark? Mr. nice guy? This couldn't be? As it turned out, that was a rarity because I worked on the show many times after that and he was a very nice, friendly and warm guy. But for a "new" Page, this was an image shattering experience.

Primetime Television

Welcome Back Kotter

The springboard for John Travolta's career.

The Odd Couple

Gary Marshall produced show done at the Paramount Studios, on film. The Page Staff were used for audience management and really had no other connection with the show. "Happy Days" and "Laverne and Shirley" were produced at the same studio.

Happy Days

Laverne & Shirley

The Paul Lynde Show

Barney Miller 

Police comedy.  The off stage crew including the Page staff were allowed to put their names on the "assignment board" that hangs on the back wall of the station house set.

That's My Mama

A Touch of Grace

The Julie Andrews Show

This was a monumental production. In at 9am (or earlier) for rehearsal, audiences in the evening and "pick-up" shots and re-shoots without an audience until 2 or 3 in the morning and then repeat the process the next day. This is the show that I acquired a taste for coffee.

Donny & Marie

Primetime Specials

Missiles of October

The first dramatic primetime movie to be shot on videotape. A massive, several week project. The Page staff was used as set security, with a strict "closed set." Very difficult duty because as a Page you were tossing people off the set that could help your career down the line. Also, because the TV soundstages were not as soundproofed as the traditional film soundstages there were a lot of problems with "ambient" sound. When it was completed, this drama documenting the Cuban missile crisis, starring Martin Sheen and William Devane became a classic piece of television.

John Denver Specials

My personal meeting with John Denver during one of these specials is documented here.

Lily Tomlin Specials

Special Events

California Jam I

Several members of the Page staff, including myself, were sent as "gophers" for the Television production of this event. During breaks we were able to watch the show from an area directly in front of the stage reserved for all backstage personnel. Very cool assignment. My first experience with a band I would later do a book on - Black Sabbath

Academy Awards

Worked on several of these shows. Always exciting. At one of the shows helped a very "out of it" Elizabeth Taylor to her limo.

American Music Awards

Worked on the very first of this Dick Clark produced yearly staple at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium where Jim Messina (then of Loggins and Messina) asked me if I had a joint and I nearly, literally, ran into Stevie Wonder in a rush to accomplish one of those "gopher" duties.

Late Night Television

In Concert

Loved working on this series. Getting paid to go to concerts. Also, did some stage announcing duties which was pretty exciting. The highlights of this series were the Emmy Award winning Cat Stevens show, an early Bad Company performance and Sly and the Family Stone.

Syndicated Television

Merv Griffin Show

From the Hollywood Palace near Hollywood and Vine. Lots of big stars on a nightly basis.

Jonathan Winters Show

Working on this show, my fondest memory was the "bit" when the producers would lay out all sorts of items on a table and then turn Winters loose on them with his ad libs.

The Lawrence Welk Show

Can now be seen on PBS stations. The studio audiences for this show were generally old and extremely "rabid" fans of the show. It was the only TV taping that when you sent out free tickets you'd get a near 100% return. The show was never "overbooked" and never had any empty seats. For the Page staff, getting these people from the audience holding area to their seats was a weekly nightmare. Many had trouble walking, especially up and down the stairs of the audience area. This became a special problem one night after we got the audience seated and there was a power failure that shutdown nearly all the lighting in the audience entrance area. To Welk's credit, with the show taping scrubbed, he did have his orchestra play a few tunes and gave them a "show." While this "show" was going on the Pages and the production staff made plans for moving out this old and nearly blind audience from a dark studio. Placing several automobiles with their headlights on in a prop area just outside the studio, we slowly moved the audience through a maze of equipment and props, back to the audience holding area and to their own automobiles without incident.

.....more shows and stories to be added as I remember them (Remember - it was the 70's!!!)
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