Television Q&A: Was Shirley Temple show a fairy tale?

Rich Heldenfels, Tribune News Service on

Published in Entertainment News

You have questions. I have some answers.

Q: When I was little, back about 1957-58, there was a weekend TV show hosted by an adult Shirley Temple, wearing a big Cinderella type ball gown. She introduced different stories each week. I especially loved one called "The Land of Green Ginger" about a magical country that moved from place to place. Do you recall the show?

A: The show you remember was called “Shirley Temple’s Storybook,” a series of specials in 1958, then a regular series in 1959 and again in 1960-61 (where it was renamed “The Shirley Temple Show”). “The Land of Green Ginger” aired in 1958.

Former child star Temple hosted and sometimes acted (and sang) in these versions of children’s stories, some of which were musicals, according to “The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows.” I found several telecasts from “The Shirley Temple Show” on Tubi and Prime Video; YouTube has some of the “Storybook” shows, although I did not see “Green Ginger” there.

By the way, Temple’s gowns on the show were many and, when in color, quite spectacular.

Q: One of my favorite TV shows is “Bob Hearts Abishola.” I’m so sad to see this will be its final season. I'm sure it has high ratings, and with so many characters, they could still have many storylines to tell. Why is it leaving?

A: In the numbers I’ve seen, the show did slip in the ratings over its four seasons on the air. And, as I have said about some other series, the economics of making a broadcast TV show have gotten more difficult as viewers seek their entertainment other places, including streaming. Tough times hit “Abishola” last year when CBS renewed the show for a fifth season — but shifted most of the cast from regular status to recurring, where they would be in a limited number of episodes and so paid less. Only stars Billy Gardell and Folake Olowofoyeku are regulars for the current, final season. So it’s been a case where money talks. “I don’t necessarily feel like we were done” creatively, “Abishola” executive producer Chuck Lorre reportedly said. “But that was not my call.”


Q: I’m trying to remember more about “Assignment Vienna,” a short-lived series from the ‘70s or early ‘80s. It was espionage themed, and the main attraction was that it was actually filmed in Vienna.

A: “Assignment Vienna” aired on ABC for a single season in 1972-73. It was indeed filmed on location in Vienna, with Robert Conrad starring as Jake Webster, a bar owner working undercover for the U.S. government. According to my beloved “Complete Directory,” it was not a weekly series but shared a time slot with two other shows under the umbrella title “The Men.” The other shows were “Delphi Bureau” (where Laurence Luckinbill played an operative for a government security agency) and “Jigsaw” (with James Wainwright as an investigator for California’s missing persons bureau). Neither of those series made it to a second season either.

Q: An old movie had Robert Redford as a photojournalist and Michelle Pfeiffer as a weather girl, and they fall in love. What’s the name of it and how can I see it again? Also, knowing the name of its famous song would be helpful.

A: Although the details are a bit different than you remember, the movie is “Up Close & Personal,” from 1996. Inspired by the life of TV news anchor Jessica Savitch, the movie became something else as it underwent many creative changes. People who never saw the movie may indeed know the song from the movie, “Because You Loved Me,” written by Diane Warren and sung by Celine Dion.

As for seeing the movie, some ways to find it are on DVD and digitally, the latter including rental and purchase on Prime Video, Vudu and Apple TV. Also, John Gregory Dunne, credited with co-writing the script with his wife Joan Didion, wrote a detailed account of the eight years it took to make the movie; his book is called “Monster: Living Off the Big Screen” and is great reading.


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