BEVERLY HILLS, CA–Ever wanted to sit in the Seinfeld Monk’s Diner booth? Get right up close to the ER doctor and nurse name tags? Get close enough to Wonder Woman’s boots that you can smell them? Well, that last one is pretty sick. But if you can’t get help, or are just a true TV fan, check out the amazing “Television Out of the Box” exhibit on display for the next three years at The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills. Reporters were given a V.I.P. tour of the exhibit earlier this week. Several luminaries from TV shows old and new, including Ed Asner, Joe Regalbuto from Murphy Brown, Robert Conrad from The Wild Wild West, Marg Helgenberger from CSI, Big Bang creator Chuck Lorre, Warner Bros. TV president Peter Roth and Donna Mills, Joan Van Ark and Michelle Lee from Knots Landing all mingled with critics at the event.
Conan out of Lego. On loan from Jay Leno
Lorre, who also writes and executive produces Two and a Half Men and Mike & Molly, says he has few TV goodies in his house. “Just pictures of each cast in my office,” he says. He was surprised to see TV props and costumes wind up on display in a museum. “When you’re making it,” he dryly noted, “you’re just trying to not get cancelled.” The artifacts–and the guests–all had some connection to Warner Bros. television productions. The studio got into the TV game in the mid-’50s and some early westerns are represented in the collection, including cowboy duds from Cheyenne and Maverick. Letters from real FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover, commenting on the FBI TV series, are on display. Asner’s worked for everybody in Hollywood but his main Warner Bros. connection is the groundbreaking ABC miniseries Roots.
Joe Regalbuto and gruff but lovable Ed Asner at the Paley
Asner’s still working of course. He says he had fun working on the CBC comedy Michael: Tuesdays & Thursdays last year and was sorry to hear it did not get picked up. How did he come to be part of a Canadian comedy? “One of the geniuses up there realized they needed me.” Asner says he didn’t keep many artifacts from the many shows he did. “I had a fan who wanted the clock on Lou Grant’s desk,” he says. “It’s in the Kansas Hall of Fame or something.”
Donna Mills next to some old thing from Knots
Van Ark says she didn’t keep any of Val Ewings clothes from Knots Landing because they were awful. Instead, she hoarded many of Nicolette Sheridan’s duds. “We were the same size and he clothes were way better,” says Van Ark. The exhibit also has a “Theme Song Sing-a-long Theatre” where you can belt out the theme to Friends or The Flintstones or even Growing Pains. There are several animation cels from Saturday morning kiddie shows, and even a large “cell” you can step into and be in a scene with Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. There is also a wall full of vintage lunch boxes from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s as well as dozens of Bugs Bunny dolls wearing costumes designed by top Hollywood costumers like Bob Mackie. It is fun just walking up the Paley Center’s long stairway/ramp carpeted in colour bars. It leads directly into a funky TV screen. Always thinking, Lorre used the occasion to have chocolate bars handed out with wrappers promoting his upcoming book of vanity cards. The title: What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Bitter. Which reminds me–one of Charlie Sheen’s bowling shirts is also on display.
Urkels’s shoes. They wore socks back then
Not all of the Warners’ stars were talking at the Paley party