Those who remember the Golden Age of the TV talk show, fondly remember producer David Susskind, who for nearly 30 years interviewed celebrities - whether entertainment or political - on his weekly show. It began on local New York City television in 1958 on the independent TV station WNTA. (The same station that aired his "Play of the Week Series", episodes of which were just released on DVD last month and which I reviewed on Amazon earlier this week.) When WNTA became a public broadcasting station, the show - "Open End" went into syndication.
Unlike the Dick Cavett Show - which I have devoured on DVD - Susskind was more serious in interviewing a guest during his two-hour show (less commercials). I'd compare him more with Charlie Rose - but with a decidedly New York accent.
To my knowledge none of the "Open End" shows has been available on home video (until now) and this first release features the Jerry Lewis interview from 1965. Fans of Lewis' comedy should know that there is not a laugh to be found here. This is the serious, opinionated, and very egotistical Lewis being interviewed. The interview was done at a low point in his career (which started at age 5 performing on stage with his dad, who was in vaudeville). His ABC variety show had recently been cancelled.
I use the word egotistical here because Lewis not only controls the interview - sharing only the info he wants to share - and admits that he's a "control freak" as well as a "compulsive buyer" (the guy owns 144 pars of shoes and over 300 suits!). The discussion about his marriage and his "rules" for when she can go out with friends (she can't - and neither can his six sons!) is almost hard to hear. This is the not the zany crazy guy you see in his movies.
The DVD contains two 50 minute segments. Apparently these were recorded in one sitting and offered to stations (the show was syndicated then) as hour-long shows, because Susskind ends the first 50 minutes by saying "we'll see you next time". The first segment concentrates on Lewis' childhood and home life and his interfaith marriage.. In the second he discusses his movies and how he "controls them". Throughout the complete show, Lewis chain-smokes cigarettes. (Susskind smokes too... but not as much!).
The print of the show is great - with only a few small dropouts. I hope this is only the first of a series of "Open End" releases from S'More Entertainment.
If you like quality interviews, this DVD will provide that. If you want to know about Lewis' life and opinions, you'll get that too. But don't expect a "barrel of laughs". That's not what this DVD is about.