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MJ Files : The Jacksons TV Show - CBS 1976/1977

Posted by MoonDJ on 2007/3/23 21:10:00  News by the same author
MJ Files

Let's go back to 1976/1977 with the Jackson family kids for a great TV revival moment.

In summer 1976, CBS television executive Fred Silverman signed the Jackson family (including Michael, Marlon, Tito, Jackie, Randy, Rebbie, LaToya, and Janet) to appear in their own variety show, to compete with ABC's The Osmonds. The Jacksons debuted on June 16, 1976, and ran on CBS until its cancellation the following March. The show was the first variety show hosted by an African American family.

Looking for a pop act with youth appeal (that desperately needed TV exposure), CBS casts its eye toward The Jacksons in 1976. The group had fallen on hard times, this was after the Jackson 5's big hits ended in 1974 and before Michael Jackson's Off the Wall album changed the face of music five years later.

The entire Jackson family was present for the TV production except Jermaine who had a solo record contract. Even little sister Janet was in full force and Michael was a lot more open and friendly back then, too—even though he was totally against the idea of a TV show from the very start.

"We shouldn't do it," Michael argued with his siblings, to no avail. "Look at Tony Orlando. Look at Cher. It's going to really hurt our sales."
"We're the Jacksons!" Michael chirped to open the first episode. "All of you who were expecting the Osmonds, do not adjust the color on your set." The series scored some impressive ratings despite the fact that the variety show genre was becoming passé by the mid-'70s.

Guests for the four-week run included Ed McMahon, who played W.C. Fields to Janet Jackson's Mae West, and Sonny Bono, who appeared in a comedy sketch about the tabloids. This was one of Bono's last network guest-shots—just three years earlier he had the biggest show on television, now his career was grinding to a dead stop.

Much to Michael's chagrin, The Jacksons was brought back in January of 1977, but failed to catch on as a regular series and was cancelled due to abysmal ratings in March of that same year. Michael accepted some of the blame, saying in part; "I'm not a comedian. Is it really entertaining for me to get up there and crack a few weak jokes and force people to laugh because I'm Michael Jackson, when I know in my heart I'm not funny?"

In spite of Michael's dire predictions, mere weeks after The Jacksons left the air, the brothers were back on the charts with the hit tune, Enjoy Yourself and sister Janet Jackson, the TV show's breakout star, was well on her way establishing a solo career. She was discovered by producer Norman Lear on the variety show and, after auditioning, joined the cast of Good Times a few months later.

Source :

* Episode 1 - Featuring Samuels and Cohen with special guest star Sonny Bono
* Episode 2 - Featuring Samuels and Cohen with special guest MacKenzie Phillips
* Episode 3 - Featuring Samuels and Cohen with special guest star Ed McMahon
* Episode 4 - Featuring Samuels and Cohen with special guest star Joey Bishop

* Episode 5 - Featuring special guest star Redd Foxx
* Episode 6 - Featuring Johnny Dark with special guest star Carroll O'Connor
* Episode 7 - Featuring George Miller, Dom DeLuise and Muhammed Ali
* Episode 8 - Featuring Johnny Dark with special guest star Betty White
* Episode 9 - Featuring David Letterman with special guest star, Georgia Engel
* Episode 10 - Featuring special guest star John Byner
* Episode 11 - Featuring Tim Thomerson with special guest star Lynda Carter
* Episode 12 - Featuring David Letterman and special guest star Tim Conway

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