Saturday, June 04, 2011

Stan Mitchell answers Steve Thomas about the show (Cinderella) 1957

First, may I introduce my self! My name is STAN MITCHELL, I was a Maintenance man along with Harold . in Studio 72. The original (Color Television Studio). I worked a little more than 40 years in Television and then went on to work as a , consultant for many more years for independent Producers. But somehow I never forgot my days at Studio 72. You'll have to bear with me to tell you story of "Cinderella". You must know that Studio 72 was run by maintenance men. At the time I was there, I counted 10 in all. A normal theater had 2. They were Joe Tier, Bill Mayer, Bob Chin, John Lennon, Hugo Ripp, John Ewing, John Lense, Harold Deppe, and me. Each man had his "PET' project. It was the early days of NTSC Color. These men brought you living Color, as we know it today. It was Supervised, again by a maintenance man. Joe Gieger and the head of the whole thing by John Kosuras (the Engineer in Charge). The Studio had a couple of Video men nearly full time. They were Art Tinn and Frank Florio. There was a telecine operator named Milt Greenwald and he operated 4 transfer equipment, along with Harold Deppe who ran Video and maintained the equipment. We had no means to RECORD the Shows. That was done somewhere else. When a show was scheduled, any Crew was placed in the house. They did any floor work that was necessary. In other words ---Operations. To answer one of your questions--There were 5 RCA TK42 used on that show. There were 5 Video men who worked the Color Cameras, they were Frank Florio, Art Tinn, Joe Ponterno, George Zervalas, Dan Acker. All have worked with the color cameras before. Each TK42 video counsel had it's own 17 inch "Conrac" color Monitor. It was the responsible of another maintenance man, Walter Lupinsky to keep the monitors "matched", during the show, along with the "AIR" monitor and the two on the floor.(roll a rounds). The monitors drifted during the show. There was another maintenances man, Harvey Schwartz, who was in charge of the Color Encoders and adjusted the Balanced Modulators during the show. They drifted also. Now to answer another one of your questions "Where was the Orchestra located?" That is a good question. I vaguely remember an Orchestra being there the first day of rehearsals. Anyway, we did not have a special room to house an Orchestra. If we had room for an Orchestra it would have to be placed on the Studio Floor at the far corner in front of the Black and White Control room at the rear of Studio Deck as it was done other times. I lost track of this one. After the first day of "Cinderella" the Orchestra, I believe was taken Down Town to a Sound Stage probably at COLUMBIA Records. There, they made an ordinary Vinyl Record, 33 1/3 LP was made of the tracks of the music. Later they tried to "SELL" it to us for a small fee. We had already been exposed to the music for one long week and heard it in or sleep. Remember the Control Room was full of VIPS standing in the back of the Control Room through out the Production, Putting their TWO CENTS in. After all, this was Rogers and Hammerstien who wrote the original music and composed it for this show. There was thought to dump the orchestra. We did other shows later with the orchestras on the stage in front of the Black and White Control room. The show was put on by Lou Tedesco and his Crew doing the operating. The audio man was Bob Miller and he is the only one to how the audio was AIRED. The Director was Ralph Nelson and Lance Barrow who the assistant Director, but he was equally as good. They made a good pair. I use to stand by the Directors Counsel just to listen to them. It was a very fast show. Now for the fun part that might answer some of your questions-----I was doing some thing around Lou Tedesco. Lou had a small stool, cut down wooden stool. I asked why he used the stool? He was in a half standing position so he could move his right leg to the rhythm of the music. (he was music oriented) He said "he was switching the show to the beat of the music". He was not listening to Ralph Nelson very closely. I accepted that since it was the first I had heard of that.-----Along about 2 days in the rehearsal, there appeared a young man standing in the video pit and in front of Lou Tedesco and Ralph Nelson--and of course Bobby Miller the Audio man. He was in my way when I attended video to problems in the pit I'm sure I told him a couple of times to get out of my way. It turns out to be that he was the Musical Director. He would hold the sheet music in one hand and sing or hum with the music, while waving madly at Lou, saying "Take One and Take two etc.). We began to tolerate him. He appeared out of nowhere. He began singing out the camera cuts as he chanted and waved. Towards the end of the week he wrote down the CUTS on his sheet music. If you asked me. (how the show was switched, I would have to say, "by the written musical note) As would happen, the Director lost his place on AIR and Lou just simply listened to the Music Director and saved the show. The Music Director went on his merry way singing and calling out the camera cuts. I believed that Bob Miller AIRED the record---As far as the Lip Syncing, there didn't seem to be any problem. Julie Andrews seem to be so good there wasn't much time lost to any stoppages. Bobby Miller fed two roll around floor speakers. I believe, that Bobby Miller fed them at a low level and had the speakers manned.----Another funny happening was that Julie Andrews had to make 2 quick changes on the studio floor. From her Cinder costume to the Ball costume. There were no dressing rooms and she had little time for the change. So----! She did the next thing and striped right on the stage. She had some dialog to do while she was changing. She had a boom mike while changing. Soon word got out about what was going on. So--Bob Chin and I grabbed our cameras and got on our way. We went up to balcony, above the lighting grid to take some pictures. While I was there, I took some pictures (wide shots) of the sets. To answer your question was the floor crowded. It was very crowed with cameras and camera cables, sets, and people. I had taken many shots with 35 mm camera of the sets and complex set up on the floor. In those days every crew member carried a camera. There were the cameras, 2 mike booms, one of the cameras (sometimes there were 2 men on a camera cable). There was on a Houston Crane, mostly for the ball shots. All cameras were on special pedestals, large and heavy. As I mentioned before it took to carry them and three men to put them on their "rocker" pan heads. There was a problem with some sets in that ,some cameras needed extra large lights with reflectors Hand held by electricians. A union problem occurred. If they were attached to the cameras it would be in the area of the technicians union . Harry Abbot, the head electrician confided to me that he couldn't find enough electricians if he had to man for the lights. He was using everybody around. As it was they had an electrician walk beside some cameras adding more cables to the floor.----I was in the maintenance shop when Joe Tier came in "lets go, there is trouble with one of the cameras" Joe was one of the more excitable ones so off I crashed through the maintenance door. To my surprise I almost fell into Julie Andrews lap, She was making another quick change from the Ball dress to the Cinder dress. I was embarrassed! Joe had set me up. In all it was a good place to work.---If I get my pictures back I'll send them out to you. Right now they are held up in a family dispute. I hope you find some of the information usefull.


Stan Mitchell
stan511mitchell@verizon.net