Tuesday, August 6, 2013

TV Spot Tuesday: All That Glitters (1977)

Perhaps it was somewhat meant to be when I ran across the above scan I took for the short-lived series All That Glitters. I remember scanning it because I thought it was for a mini-series. Seriously, does that not sound like a great title for a shoulder padded drama? Indeed. However, I saw that it was a comedy produced by Normal Lear that featured the incomparable Eileen Brennan, among many other great talents. Sadly, Miss Brennan passed away last week at the age of 80. How I adored her smoky voice and red locks. She was stunningly unique, and a great talent. So, although I've never seen All That Glitters, I thought it might be nice to spotlight it on TV Spot Tuesday.

Newspaper promo for All That Glitters
As previously mentioned, the series was created by Norman Lear and it aired in syndication. In some ways it was much like Lear's other satire, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman in respects to the approach to humor and because it ran nightly. It garnered a lot of controversy when it was released because the premise regarded women in positions of power in the corporate world while men were the subservient party, working as secretaries, etc. The company was called Globotron Corporation and was run by L.W. Carruthers (Barbara Baxley), and apparently she was a bit of a man eater (if you know what I mean).

The ridiculously awesome Lois Nettleton!
Linda Gray took on the controversial role as a transsexual. In an interview she noted that playing that character was instrumental in securing her role as Sue Ellen on Dallas! Gary Sandy played the secretary with "the cutest little buns in the corporation" (thank you for that tidbit, Total Television)! All I could find about Brennan is that she played an important recurring character who was named Ma Packer.

The series, which lasted for 65 episodes between April and July of 1977, is probably best remembered for spawning the song You Don't Bring Me Flowers, which was originally intended to be the theme song for the series. The tune was written by Neil Diamond with Alan and Marilyn Bergman. When Lear decided the song wasn't right for the show, Diamond expanded it and you can listen to him sing it with Barbara Streisand below.

Holy cow, so much interesting history in a series that seems to have all but disappeared! I'm curious if any of you remember this groundbreaking comedy? And what can you tell my about Brennan and Gray's roles?

Here is a promo for All That Glitters

Here is a clip of Neil Diamond and Babs belting out You Don't Bring Me Flowers 


Barbara said...

What I think is interesting is the ad features Anita Gillette and Barbara Baxley, not Lois Nettleton, who got the TV Guide cover. You wouldn't see that today.


I've never heard of the show, and I was an avid watcher in 1977.

Lacey said...

Yes, unfortunately I do remember this one. I started watching it becasue I was a fan of Norman Lear all through the 70s. I liked "Mary Hartmen, Mary Hartmen, and LOVED Fernwood Tonight.
THe problem with this show was that it was far below Lear's usual talent. Where he took on social issues as a part of a good story and engaging characters in his other shows, this one was like a bad parody of a Norman Lear show. The stereotypes were so broadly drawn it made a Charlie Chaplin short look like My Dinner with Andre by comparison. The idea was good for its time, but you have to play it straight. Like Airplane and Police Squad, the jokes are the twists on format, not jokes for the laughs. It takes talent to do this well and Lear had the talent. He just left it at home for this show.

GB said...

I remember this. It didn't work for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that "Mary Hartman" felt fresh when it debuted and then got old really fast (after one season). This just felt like Norman Lear trying to cash in.

Yes, the entire premise was that women were executives and powerbrokers and chauvinists, while men were either househusbands or sex objects. The biggest problem was that the premise was way too late. The "satire" of women running companies and men staying at home was outdated -- after all, it was almost 1980, not 1950.

I don't remember Eileen Brennan. Linda Gray played a male-to-female transsexual, which in this universe was the equivalent of a female-to-male transsexual.

What I remember most was a LONG theme song that explained the whole premise of the show (remember theme songs that did that?). It was recited rather than sung, against a jazzy background, sort of prehistoric rap. The last lines were something like "But why after all would a man complain/When from the dawn of time it's been a woman's domain?".

I'd love to see a clip if one ever surfaces.

Anonymous said...

I do remember this show very well. Periodically I have searched the web for any trace of the show or episodes. I was in HS or early college. I agree with GB, Mary Hartman grew old and as a young woman, I didn't relate. However, All that Glitters was refreshing for me to see the role reversal. I enjoyed the show, but the theme song was the highlight for sure. I had the lyrics written and they were very clever. I'll post if I find them. I remember specifically a story line where one of the men was to have a baby and the guys put together a baby shower...I thought it was funny. Gary Sandy's character wore tight pants and got many office comments and a few pats. It was interesting to see the absurdity of this behavior and other condescending remarks made to men. For me it set a standard of relationships....if behavior is good enough or appropriate for one gender, it should be for the other.....it definitely can look different when portrayed by the opposite sex. For this reason, I liked the show and thought it was progressive. Yes, some women were climbing the ladder and were more visible in the workplace, but how men and women treated each other day to day had not changed that much in the 80's. This show did a good job of highlighting this. I always appreciated hearing that this was one of Lear's favorite shows. I would agree it did not carry the same energy as it 's predecessors, but poignant nonetheless.

Eric Indiana said...

I used to watch the show when I was in middle school. I thought it was so cool. Nobody else knew about it & I also searched the web periodically. Now there are some references, so I know I didn't just dream it up, but I can't find any old episodes to watch. I read a rumor that a network is thinking of a remake. Not only was the show ahead of its time, it still is. I'd love to see a show about the Trump administration, but reverse gender - roomfuls of olds white women deciding the fate of men, joking about grabbing dicks....