NBC
NBC

17 Facts About Blossom That Will Make You Say 'Whoa!'

NBC
NBC

There was a lot to like about Blossom, the 1990s sitcom that averaged about 12 million viewers per week during its five-season run and briefly turned Mayim Bialik into a fashion icon. The show was more than The Show That Was On After The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air On Monday Nights; it dealt with all of the occasionally serious problems one would expect from a single dad raising a precocious teenage daughter and a recovering drug addict older son. There was also plenty of lightness to counter the dark moments, courtesy of Joey Lawrence’s dumb jock son character, Six’s verbal torrents, and Blossom’s dream sequences with '90s celebrities (like ALF!).

With it being 20 years now since the show’s end, here are some Blossom truths discovered at the end of Ms. Russo’s video diary.

1. DION DIMUCCI WAS THE INSPIRATION FOR NICK RUSSO.

Series creator Don Reo was an invited guest to DiMucci’s 50th birthday party in Florida. Though he was a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, DiMucci acted like a normal parent with his three daughters, giving the former M*A*S*H, Rhoda, and The Golden Girls writer the idea for a family sitcom about a cool dad.

2. THE STAR OF THE SHOW WAS ORIGINALLY GOING TO BE A MALE.

Reo also wanted to make a show with a Holden Caulfield-type protagonist, so he combined that with the hip father idea and wrote a pilot for NBC. Blossom was just the younger sister in the script, until a female network executive suggested to Reo that she become the star.

3. IN THE PILOT JOEY’S NAME WAS DONNY, AND BLOSSOM’S PARENTS WERE STILL TOGETHER.

NBC aired the Blossom pilot as a one-off special on July 5, 1990—exactly one year to the day that they did the same for the Seinfeld pilot. There were notable differences between the pilot presentation and the eventual series: an accountant named Terry and a stay-at-home mom named Barbara were Blossom’s parents (the two have marital troubles), Joey’s name was Donny, and the theme song was Bobby Brown’s “My Prerogative” (changed to its eventual version in syndication and DVDs.) When NBC picked up the series, Don Reo convinced the network it was okay to have both a "hip" musician and a cool teen on the same show.

4. DR. JOHN SANG THE THEME SONG.

Written by Mike Post and Steve Geyer, it was titled “My Opinionation.”

5. MELISSA JOAN HART WAS OFFERED THE ROLE OF SIX.

She decided to take the other role she was offered at the same time: the title role in Clarissa Explains It All.

6. JENNA VON Oÿ HAD A SPECIAL MORNING COCKTAIL TO GET INTO CHARACTER.

To help get into character as the energetic Six LeMeure, "Jenna would mash up all this candy—malted milk balls, M&Ms—in a coffee cup, then fill it with Coke or hot coffee," Ted Wass (who played Blossom's dad) recalled to People.

7. THERE WERE TWO CANON EXPLANATIONS FOR WHY VON Oÿ's NAME WAS SIX.

In the pilot, six was the number of beers her parents drank the night she was conceived. In another episode, it was because she was the sixth child in her family.

8. BLOSSOM’S DREAM SEQUENCE WITH PHYLICIA RASHāD WAS ALMOST CUT.

“Blossom Blossoms” was the first episode to air after the pilot, now with Ted Wass as the piano-playing single dad Nick. Rashad drawing fallopian tubes on a birthday cake made censors nervous, but the network didn’t see any upside to cutting Clair Huxtable out of a heavily promoted episode slated to air right after The Cosby Show.

9. NBC MANAGED TO GET DRUG JOKES CHANGED BEFORE BROADCAST.

Anthony Russo’s description of a boring date was changed from “I've known people on Thorazine who were more fun than this girl” to “I've known people who were unconscious who were more fun than this girl" at the request of the network. A mention of mushrooms was taken out entirely.

10. THE INCREDIBLE HULK DIRECTED 30 EPISODES.

In addition to being an actor—and star of The Incredible Hulk—Bill Bixby was a prolific television director. After being behind the camera for most of Blossom's third season and the first half of season four, Bixby sadly passed away at the age of 59 after a long battle with prostate cancer. Five weeks later, Ted Wass’ wife passed away from ovarian cancer.

11. IT WAS THE LAST SHOW TED WASS ACTED IN.

But it was the first show that he directed, which is where he focuses his creative efforts nowadays. Wass has worked on a number of multi-camera comedies including 2 Broke Girls, Last Man Standing, and Melissa & Joey (which reunited Wass with his former “son” Joey Lawrence).

12. A LOT OF THOUGHT WENT INTO BLOSSOM’S OUTFITS.

Before each wardrobe fitting, costume designer Sherry Thompson and costume supervisor Marion Kirk would spend three hours checking out clothes in Melrose Avenue boutiques and chain stores to find outfits for Blossom and Six. Then Bialik, Bialik’s mother, Thompson, Kirk, a seamstress, and a milliner would figure out what would work and what wouldn’t.

13. THERE WAS AN OFFICIAL BLOSSOM FASHION COLLECTION.

Burdines, Dillard’s and Jacobson’s were three stores that sold the line in the summer of 1993.

14. JOEY LAWRENCE RECEIVED A LOT OF FAN MAIL.

A 1991 MediaWeek survey rated Blossom as the most popular show for viewers aged 12 to 17, and some of that was thanks to Lawrence. One estimate had him receiving 4000 to 7000 letters a day, while another claimed he received 15,000 a week. In either case, that's a lot of fan mail.

15. THE ACTRESS WHO PLAYED ANTHONY’S WIFE WASN’T THRILLED ABOUT THE ROLE.

Samaria Graham won the role of Shelly, and kept it despite her unenthusiastic response to the news. "I'm not really excited about it," she told the Los Angeles Times in 1994. "It's just another job. I mean, I'm happy, but I'm not thrilled or anything."

16. MICHAEL STOYANOV LEFT THE SHOW IN ITS FINAL SEASON TO WRITE FOR CONAN O'BRIEN.

Stoyanov forced production to write Anthony off the show toward the end of the fifth and final season when he accepted a job writing for Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Though he went on to write for Mad TV and Mr. Show with Bob and David, Stoyanov eventually regretted leaving the series. "I didn't fully appreciate the position I was in," he told People in 2000. "I've learned not to take anything for granted."

17. INITIALLY, NO ONE FOUND LAWRENCE'S "WHOA!" VERY FUNNY.

Twenty-five years after Blossom first aired, Lawrence's "Whoa!" catchphrase remains one of the show's lasting legacies. But originally, no one found the line (which was intended to be delivered in more of a surfer dude fashion) very funny. "The executive producer came up to me and said, ‘Can you try something else? … People aren’t finding it humorous," Lawrence recalled earlier this year. "I don’t know where that came from! I just tried it once and did this weird thing and people laughed. They laughed tremendously long. We did a second take and they laughed again ... It’s so weird that word has transcended 20 years. I can only imagine what that word would have been had social media been what it is today. It took off in the course of one night once it hit the airwaves, but with social media, it probably would have been twice as fast.”

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Netflix
Original GLOW Wrestling Series Hits Twitch
Netflix
Netflix

When it premiered in June 2017, GLOW was a bit of a sleeper offering for Netflix. With the amount of original programming ordered by the streaming service, a show based on an obscure women’s pro wrestling league from the 1980s seemed destined to get lost in the shuffle.

Instead, the series was a critical and commercial success. Ahead of its second season, which drops on June 29, you'll have a chance to see the mat work of the original women who inspired it.

Shout! Factory has announced they will be live-streaming clips from the first four seasons of GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling), which first premiered in 1986, beginning at 9 p.m. ET on June 28. The stream, which will be available on shoutfactorytv.com and Twitch, will feature original footage framed by new interviews with personalities including Godiva, host Johnny C, and Hollywood. The show will air live from the Santino Brothers Wrestling Academy in Los Angeles.

Godiva, who was portrayed by Dawn Maestas, inspired the character Rhonda (a.k.a. Brittanica) on the Netflix series; Hollywood was the alter ego of Jeanne Basone, who inspired the character Cherry in the fictionalized version of the league. Basone later posed for Playboy and takes bookings for one-on-one wrestling matches with fans.

Shout! Factory's site also features a full-length compilation of footage, Brawlin’ Beauties: GLOW, hosted by onetime WWE interviewer “Mean” Gene Okerlund.

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NBC Universal
12 Wild Facts About The Jerry Springer Show
NBC Universal
NBC Universal

Trash TV will never be the same: NBC Universal just announced that after more than a quarter-century on the air, The Jerry Springer Show has been canceled. Springer, the former mayor of Cincinnati, has taped more than 4000 episodes over the course of 27 seasons, and featured more than 35,000 guests. Because the format allowed for crass topics and guests who weren’t afraid to throw chairs at each other, in the late 1990s the show’s ratings topped Oprah Winfrey’s. Over the years, guests have accused the producers of staging and encouraging the fights for ratings. Still, it’s been popular enough to remain on the air since September 30, 1991. Here are 12 final thoughts about the controversial talk show.

1. THE FIRST SEASON TAPED IN CINCINNATI.

Before he stepped in front of the cameras, Springer’s main gig was in politics. He (unsuccessfully) ran for Congress in 1970, but was elected to Cincinnati’s city council a year later. In 1977, he served as the city’s mayor for one year and made a run for governor in 1982, but was derailed by a sex scandal.

In September 1991, Cincinnati NBC affiliate WLWT needed to replace The Phil Donahue Show, so they tapped Springer to host his own politically-focused daytime talk show, The Jerry Springer Show. At the same time, he was also appearing as a nighttime co-anchor on WLWT. In 1992, Springer moved The Jerry Springer Show to Chicago; he flew back and forth between Cincy and Chicago every day so that he could continue hosting his nightly broadcast. But in 1993 he resigned from Channel 5, after the ratings slid

2. TWO ANCHORS QUIT BECAUSE SPRINGER APPEARED ON THEIR NEWS SHOW.

In 1997, Springer began a temporary job on Chicago’s WMAQ as a news commentator. Anchor Carol Marin, who had worked at the station for 19 years, refused to share airtime with Springer and quit the show. “I am sorry she found it necessary this week to use me as the stepping stone to martyrdom,” Springer said at the time. In solidarity with Marin’s decision, co-anchor Ron Magers departed a few weeks later. Dozens of people from religious and women’s organizations protested the station’s nighttime addition as well.

The heat ended up being too much for the station; in May 1998, it dropped the Springer Show, though a Fox affiliate quickly snatched it up. To cover costs, they had to air the show not once, but twice a day.

3. SECURITY DIRECTOR STEVE WILKOS THOUGHT HIS JOB WAS A “ONE-TIME GIG.”

The show hired Steve Wilkos, a former Chicago cop and marine, for a 1994 KKK-themed episode. “The pay was good and I figured it was a one-time gig,” Wilkos told Mediaweek. “But I ended up doing another show, and another, and before I knew it, I was hired as the full-time director of security. So, I left my career as a cop to give this a shot.”

Eventually, Wilkos gave advice on a “Steve to the Rescue” segment, and started subbing for Springer when the host went off to appear on Dancing with the Stars. That led to Wilkos getting his own show, The Steve Wilkos Show, in 2007.

4. THE SHOW WAS TARGETED BY THE GOVERNMENT.

In 1998, at the peak of the show’s popularity, education secretary William Bennett and Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman spoke at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) convention and implored broadcasters to remove the program from their schedules. “Drop it, or if you won’t drop it, urge the producers to clean up the show,” Lieberman pleaded.

“We’re here for three reasons,” Bennett added. “The first is to remind broadcasters of the high standards they once had; the second is to remind people in the business how low much of it has sunk, and also to remind people of the enormous influence and responsibility they wield.”

“The kind of perversity and violence on that show every day has to have a bad effect on the people and children who watch it,” Lieberman said. “Springer is not a network show. You make the decision to carry it. It’s not worth it … If you can’t do that, at least put it on late at night so that fewer kids are watching.”

5. SPRINGER STARRED IN HIS OWN MOVIE.

At the apex of his popularity, Springer played a talk show host named Jerry Farrelly in the 1998 box office and critical bomb Ringmaster. The movie, like Springer's talk show, involved love triangles and cheating. It did win Springer an award, though: a Razzie for Worst New Star.

6. RELIGIOUS LEADERS FORCED THE SHOW TO TONE DOWN ITS VIOLENCE.

Under pressure from Chicago religious leaders, executives from The Jerry Springer Show promised to reduce the violence, though the fights are what helped it topple Oprah in the daytime talk show ratings. “We don’t want to take away from the show—we just think that Jerry will be able to do this show a different way,” Greg Meidel, the chief executive of then-distributor Studio USA, told the Los Angeles Times in 1998. “It will still be confrontational, it will still be unpredictable, you will still sense the conflict. You will still see yelling and screaming. But we’re not going to show anyone getting hit.”

A spokeswoman for the religious Community Renewal Society felt it was a “partial victory,” but she also called for the cursing and poor treatment of women to be toned down.

7. AUSTIN POWERS PARODIED SPRINGER.

In the opening of 1999’s Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Scott Evil (Seth Green) appears on The Jerry Springer Show—Springer cameos as himself—and confronts his father, Dr. Evil, who plots to take over the world. In typical Springer Show fashion, a fight breaks out and a lot of cursing spews from the guests’ mouths.

8. ONE FEATURED LOVE TRIANGLE ENDED IN A MURDER.

In 2000, during an episode called “Secret Mistresses Confronted,” a husband, his new wife, and his ex-wife appeared on the show and got into a tiff. The newlyweds accused the ex, Nancy Campbell-Panitz, of stalking them. But hours after the episode aired, a friend of Campbell-Panitz discovered her dead, beaten body inside her home. Eventually, Campbell-Panitz's ex-husband and his new wife turned themselves in. In 2002 the case went to trial and the court found the ex-husband, Ralf Panitz, guilty of second-degree murder. He is currently serving a life sentence in prison.

9. SPRINGER ELIMINATED THE WORD “TRANNY.”

The Jerry Springer Show was one of the first talk shows to focus on transgender issues, but he regularly referred to his guests as “trannies,” like in a 2014 episode named “Trannies Twerk it Out.” The LGBT community felt it was time to phase out that word, and Springer immediately obliged. “I didn’t know it was offensive to them and I’m not interested in offending people, so obviously I’ll just change the term,” he told The Huffington Post. “There’s no argument there.”

10. THE SHOW PRODUCED A CONTROVERSIAL EPISODE ON BESTIALITY.

A 1998 episode entitled “I Married a Horse” featured a British man who married his horse. Cameras went overseas to film the man and his “wife.” A disclaimer opened the segment: “Sexual contact with animals is illegal in this country and most of the Western world. This is the first film to examine a subject which many find deeply disturbing.” Some stations found the episode so disturbing that they refused to air it, opting instead to broadcast a rerun of “Past Guests Do Battle.”

11. IT WAS TURNED INTO AN OPERA (WHICH ALSO CREATED CONTROVERSY).

A musical version of the show, Jerry Springer: The Opera, debuted in London in April of 2003 and toured the UK in 2006. The production drew ire from the Christian community, because it included actors playing God, Satan, and Jesus, and the actors uttered about 8000 obscenities. When the BBC decided to air a performance in 2005, 45,000 angry viewers contacted the station about the show’s content. But, that didn’t prevent the opera from expanding to the U.S. In 2007, Las Vegas became the first American city to welcome the show. In 2008, Harvey Keitel played Springer in a two-day New York City performance.

12. SPRINGER MOVED THE SHOW TO STAMFORD, CONNECTICUT—AND RESIDENTS WEREN'T HAPPY.

In 2009, after spending 17 years in Chicago, The Jerry Springer Show moved to the east coast and besieged the idyllic town of Stamford, because Connecticut offered tax breaks and built the Stamford Media Center to create a local entertainment industry. Springer’s arrival was met with protests from the community.

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