Carol Burnett Reflects On The Challenges Of Getting ‘The Carol Burnett Show’ On The Air
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American comedian Carol Burnett revealed the struggles and problems she faced while trying to start her classic 1967 to 1978 variety comedy show. Recently, on the latest episode of the Dear Multi-Hyphenate podcast, the 89-year-old reminisced on the first time she told the then-CBS vice president about the idea of having her show.
In the podcast session with host Michael Kushner, The Pete n Tillie star noted that, prior to starting The Carol Burnett Show, she achieved quite a lot of popularity with her epic act on The Garry Moore Show, and CBS wanted to extend her commitment. “CBS offered me a contract to stay with them for 10 years,” Burnett claimed, “where I would be obligated to do one special a year — an hour-long special a year and two guest appearances on some of their sitcoms.”
Carol Burnett revealed a special condition attached to her CBS contract
Despite having a good run in her previous show, and having had a great agent, Burnett detailed that her contract with the network included a special clause that stated that “within the first five years, if I, Carol, wanted to do a comedy variety show, CBS would have to put it on the air for 30 shows, fair play, that if I ‘push that button’ they would have to put it on whether they wanted to or not.”
However, Burnett made up her mind to “push the button” during the final week of her fifth year on the deal. The Front Page star summoned the courage and met with the CBS vice president in New York to let him in on her plans; however, the executive apparently could not remember the condition attached to her contract. “And he said, ‘what button?’ and I said, ‘You know where I get to do 30 comedy variety shows.’ He said, ‘Well, let me get back to you,’” she said. “He called me back the next day and said, ‘Comedy variety is a man’s game…it’s not for you, girl.’”
Burnett had a hard time convincing the executive
Also, the actress claimed that the CBS vice president tried to make her do the network’s bidding by pointing out names of men who were into comedy variety shows, such as Sid Caesar, Milton Berle, Jackie Gleason and Dean Martin, after which subtly pitching a different proposal: “We’ve got this great little sitcom we would love you to do called Here’s Agnes.” Reflecting on the moment, the Golden Globe winner said, “Oh, my God. Could you imagine?”
The six-times Emmy award winner responded and told the executive, “I don’t want to be Agnes every week, I want to have an hourlong show… I want guest stars, I want music, I want dancers, I want singers, I want sketch comedy on and on and on,’ And, Michael, they had to put us on the air.”
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