Warner Bros. Television History Exhibit at Paley

The Waltons cast, photo by Margie Barron

Warner Bros. Television has a rich history, from presenting classic Westerns such as Maverick and Cheyenne, to classic cartoons with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and The Flintstones. The studio has produced superheroes like Wonder Woman, and supernatural shows like The Vampire Diaries and Fringe.

Productions focusing on families have also gotten the spotlight, with The Waltons on their mountain, and the Ewings on Dallas. And let’s not forget the friends from Friends, or Seinfeld, or Gilligan’s Island.

These popular shows and more are part of an exhibit called “Television Out of the Box” at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills. And there was a special gathering of TV writers and classic stars for the launch of the Warner Bros. Television retrospective at the Paley’s multimedia museum.

Michelle Lee & Donna Mills, photo by Margie Barron

Lots of talent was around. Hot babes like Donna Mills, Joan Van Ark, and Michelle Lee of Knots Landing were the center of attention over by the costume display showing the gowns of the era.

Still looking like a tough guy was Robert Conrad, aka Agent James West of Wild, Wild West fame. Joe Regalbuto from Murphy Brown and Marg Helgenberger from CSI were around and happy to talk about their Warner Bros. days.

Producer Chuck Lorre was on hand and had a special section for his three current hit comedy shows The Big Bang Theory, Mike & Molly, and Two and a Half Men. Lorre also said he has a book coming out titled “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Bitter.” It’s a first-ever print collection of his “vanity cards,” the messages he writes seen at the end of the show’s closing credits.

Ed Asner was there talking about being part of the groundbreaking Roots miniseries. It was produced for Warner Bros. by David L. Wolper, who did The Thorn Birds which also had a display, along with Wolper’s sitcoms Chico and the Man and Welcome Back, Kotter. It’s a diverse legacy from the late great producer.

Another great producer, Earl Hamner Jr., writer and creator of The Waltons, was happy to be surrounded by so many of the show’s cast members: Mary McDonough, Judy Norton, Kami Cotler, Joe Conley, Eric Scott, and David Harper. It was a little Waltons reunion in advance of the big 40th anniversary gala reunion for The Waltons, scheduled for Sept. 29 at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles. For details go to www.waltons40th.com.

Even without all the TV stars around in person to reminisce about their shows, the Warner Bros. Television exhibit is a nice tour down memory lane, brags Warner Bros. TV president Peter Roth. And there will be rotating displays at the Paley Center for the next three years if you’re planning a trip to Beverly Hills, California.


Frank Barron is the former editor of The Hollywood Reporter, having served twice in that capacity. In between, he was West Coast news director for Billboard Publications, supervising their five magazines. Barron also created the western TV series “The Man From Blackhawk” for the ABC network. For more than three decades he and writer-wife Margie Barron have covered Hollywood for Production Update magazine, and they currently contribute to numerous publications. Frank started in showbiz as publicity director for the KHJ radio and television station. Before moving to California, he was a sports editor in New Jersey.

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