Big-budget, quality showcase for the leading pop acts of the day.
48 shows of 30 minute duration. 1965-1966
When ABC found some initial success with its prime time rock and roll showcase 'Shindig' in the fall of 1964 (see the separate listing for more on that series), the other US broadcast networks had mixed emotions. CBS never aired a show to compete with 'Shindig.' NBC, however, couldn’t resist.
The Peacock Network had a solid history of starring musical talent such as Perry Como, Andy Williams and Dinah Shore in their own variety series. Rock music was simply the next step. So on January 12th, 1965. NBC presented 'Hullabaloo.' Initially an hour-long series airing on Tuesday night, it was broadcast in colour (unlike 'Shindig' and keeping in line with NBC’s colour broadcast strategy). Its director was Steve Binder, who later directed Elvis Presley's famous 1968 NBC “comeback special.”
'Hullabaloo' also differed from 'Shindig' in that it didn't have a regular host; guest stars such as Jerry Lewis, Paul Anka, Petula Clark and Frankie Avalon would introduce the acts and sing a song or two themselves. (There were also occasional segments taped from the United Kingdom and introduced by The Beatles' manager, Brian Epstein; the feature was dropped after three months. Ironically, The Beatles wouldn’t appear on 'Hullabaloo' until January 1966, long after the Epstein segments were gone.) The show also featured its own ten-member dancing troupe, known as the “Hullabaloo Dancers” (pictured above). The six boys and four girls who danced every week included future Broadway dancer and director Michael Bennett, and his soon-to-be wife and 'A Chorus Line' star Donna McKechnie.
Most of the musical segments involving rock talent of the day held up–but NBC may have made a mistake by bringing in more conventional celebrities along with the teen favorites. In a 1995 article on the 'Hullabaloo' DVD collection for the “Milwaukee Journal,” writer William Dowdling noticed the problem:
“Every once in a while, there is a hilarious culture clash when one of the Old Guard of Show Biz shows he just doesn't get the new relevance in pop songs of that day...you can find Gary Lewis and his famous father, Jerry, doing the worst, most show-bizzy version of the Beatles' ‘Help!’ imaginable, clowning and mugging their way through lyrics like ‘Won't you please please help me?’ as if they were just mouthing words to fill the bars of some show tune standard. Even bits that came off well at the time are now camp comedy. How about...Sonny and Cher damaging your sensibilities with ‘I Got You, Babe’? How about Herman's Hermits with Peter Noone's idiotic Opie grin? Nancy Sinatra and Lola Falana singing ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ theme song? Sheeesh, there's even Michael Landon, fresh off the ‘Bonanza’ set, warbling the Dave Clark Five's rocker, ‘I Like It Like That.’"
Like 'Shindig,' NBC found that catering to a teen audience didn’t pay off with high ratings. Hullabaloo was scaled back in September 1965, airing for just a half-hour on Monday nights. But it ran longer than 'Shindig;' the last original episode aired in April 1966 and reruns continued through August 29th, 1966. And in an ironic twist that seems humo