Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Abby Singer

Neat little bit of trivia I learned recently about St. Elsewhere's co-ordinating producer, Abby Singer.

As long as I've watched television, which is practically as long as I've been alive, I've made a point of watching the closing credits of TV shows. Growing up in the early eighties, I saw a lot of reruns of WKRP in Cincinnati in syndication, so much so that I've probably seen every episode of the series a dozen times over. WKRP and St. Elsewhere were both produced by MTM Enterprises (along with The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda, The Bob Newhart Show, NewhartHill Street Blues, The White Shadow, and Remington Steele among others), the television production company created in 1969 by Mary Tyler Moore and her husband Grant Tinker (chairman of NBC from 1981 to 1986), whose shows were recognizable by the distinctive logo that replaced the roaring MGM lion with the meowing Mimsie the Cat. When I started watching St. Elsewhere, I recognized several of the names from the credits of WKRP in St. Elsewhere's closing credits. One of those names was Abby Singer.

Abner E. "Abby" Singer started working as an assistant director in Hollywood in the early fifties. According to his Wikipedia entry, his name has become incorporated into standard Hollywood terminology. The last shot to be completed in a production day is called the "martini". The second-last shot is called the "Abby Singer". That evolved from when Singer was an assistant director. He would be asked how many shots were left to do before lunch, and he'd say "we'll do this one and one more". His reasoning for calling the second-last shot was so that the crew would have time to start packing up, and get out more quickly.

St. Elsewhere's second-last episode is therefore appropriately titled "The Abby Singer Show".

Random bit of MTM trivia...I think I read somewhere, possibly in the Robert Thompson book, that WKRP ended up being the biggest moneymaker of all the MTM shows because of its success in syndication. St. Elsewhere, on the other hand, fared poorly in the syndication markets, and this was a contributing factor to the decision to stop making the show after season six.

2 comments:

  1. I just finished season 6. i'm trying to check you blog at least every other day.

    I truly enjoy it

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  2. Thank you! I'm truly enjoying writing it. Part of why I enjoy St. Elsewhere so much is that it's so densely packed with interesting things that there's a ton of stuff to notice and share. Just hope I can keep making the time to keep adding stuff!

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