The Greg Brady Project

Welcome to the official Barry Williams' blog

My friends call me Barry. From time to time I also hear the name Greg. Yeah, as in Greg Brady. The Brady Bunch represents a fun time in my life. But it’s only part of the story. There’s more to say and that’s what The Greg Brady Project is all about – a place to say it. So, I’ve invited some friends to join me and share their perspectives on the Brady’s, the 70′s and just about everything else. Now, I’m inviting you…

26 Feb
Mary Jo and John Tenuto

Battle of the Network Stars

written by Mary Jo and John Tenuto in Blog | 3 comments

‘Dream Team’
‘Dream Team’

Two of the most intriguing shows on television in the 1970s and 1980s were Battle of the Network Stars and The Circus of the Stars. These shows featured some of the biggest television stars of their day either competing in sports events, or showing their circus abilities. Hosted by Howard Cosell, BOTNS feautred stars from ABC, NBC, and CBS who competed in various athletic competitions. It was a twice a year show that was on ABC from 1977 to 1985, with 1988, 2003, and 2005 revivals. Circus of the Stars was on from 1977 to 1994, although ABC has expressed serious interest in returning the show to their schedule this year.

While 1970s and 1980s television staples, these shows have an influence on modern shows. They represent some of the first television reality shows, and there are hints of these shows in such modern entertainment as Dancing With The Stars. Actor Greg Grunberg from Heroes and Alias has a band called The Battle of the Network Stars.

The first episode of Battle of the Network Stars, shown in November of 1976 is a tour de force of action and adventure. The best moment has to be when NBC team captain Robert Conrad challenges ABC team captain Gabe Kaplan to a run off to determine the result of the controversial relay event. Another great episode is the May 1980 show which featured the amazing victory of Gil Gerard in his relay against Scott Baio. We were able to ask Gil Gerard about this victory a few years ago, and it is something he fondly recalls.

Circus of the Stars, like BOTNS, often placed its guests in situations where injury could result. William Shatner, for example, did a pretty amazing act showing off his martial arts abilities. You can watch him reminiscing about the event, and see the act, in this 2007 video from Shatnervision.

While watching the shows during their original showings, it was thought by most fans that the networks liked it when their stars appeared. After all, when NBC or CBS stars appeared on the ABC BOTNS, there was serious promotion of their shows on a rival network. However, based on conversations with some of the stars, the networks were not very happy when its stars would do these kinds of shows because of the risk of injury. BOTNS was filmed on the weekend, and stars really did take the competition seriously. Billy Crystal, for example, was injured when trying to compete the obstacle event in a memorable episode. The fear of the studios and networks was that the star would return to work Monday injured and be unable to act in their show. As these were often the main stars of shows, the concern was reasonable. A November 1976 article from Time writes, “Farrah Fawcett Majors of Charlie’s Angels rooted so fervently for her ABC tug of warriors that she lost her voice and missed a full two days of work. “

Also interesting is considering that the actors on BOTNS were competing for money. There was no competing for charity. The winning team earned a prize of $20,000 per athlete. For most stars, that was perhaps two weeks work earned in an afternoon of fun athleticism. No wonder they competed seriously.

 

3 Comments

    Rush
    on Feb. 26th, 2008

    I used to love watching BOTNS. It seemed the actors really loved showing up and competing and having fun. It almost seems like today’s stars are “too big” to do something like this again. I wish there were dvd’s of the old competitions, I bet they would sell.

    Bob Hunt
    on Feb. 26th, 2008

    If the Paul Lynde Halloween Special (featuring Billy Barty, Tim Conway, Margaret Hamilton, Billie Hayes, Florence Henderson, Roz Kelly, Donny & Marie Osmond, Betty White and KISS) can see the light of DVD day, there’s hope for BOTNS and COTS.

    Fluff
    on Feb. 29th, 2008

    Circus of the Stars was an amazing show. It showed a side of actors so easily forgotten. While the public views them as pampered individuals, in reality they work very hard. Circus of the Stars was a great demonstration of that. These folks did scary and dangerous circus acts and DID THEM WELL! I’d love to see it again.

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