Stories and insight in the world of showbiz and beyond.

Monday, January 30, 2006


Over the last couple of days the name “Mouse Pack” started to sound kind of creepy. You know, like a bunch of little critters scampering across a hardwood floor.


A couple of days ago I was in the shower lip-syncing to a Little Stevie Wonder record (I knew Stevie when he was little). I started syncing and thinking and syncing and thinking and then, it just clicked.

According to the dictionary:

n: 1: depression of a button on a computer mouse;

n: 1: an exclusive circle of people with a common purpose [syn: coterie, ingroup, inner circle, PACK, camp]

Is that us, or what?

Roll this over your tongue, “The Mouse Clique.” That’s what we all do, isn’t it? We move our mouse and clique click. Wow, it’s a double mousentendre!

Build a better mouse clique, and they will come.

Well, you came. And, just being here reading this makes you a member of:



Thursday, January 26, 2006



In 1959 I was hosting The Lloyd Thaxton Record Shop on channel 13, Los Angeles. I sat all by myself behind a desk in front of a stage flat painted to look like record shop album shelves. Like a radio disk jockey, I played records. This, however, was TV and the audience had to watch something while the records were playing. So, among a host of others gimmicks, I lip-synced, faked musical instruments and created finger people to perform this task. Even though it was a morning show with a low rating, I did manage to get some great musical artists as guest. It was a fun show to do.

By 1961, just before the debut of The Lloyd Thaxton Show, which added teen-agers to the mix, the Record Shop had built up a sizeable TV audience.

One morning I had country singer Jimmy Dean as a guest. Most people today know Jimmy Dean as the frozen sausage king. But in the late 50’s, Jimmy not only made hit records, he was also the star of a highly rated country music TV show in New York City. That is, until, according to Jimmy; “I let them add the brass.”

Though The Jimmy Dean Show was already a hit in the New York suburbs, no one expected the show to make it in the Big City itself. But, according to the ratings, the show was, in fact, becoming a big city hit. Because of this, the wise men at the New York station came to Jimmy and said he would have to make some major changes in the show. “Why?” asked Jimmy. “The show is a hit.”

According to these wise men, THAT is the very reason for the changes. They told Jimmy the viewers in the city are too sophisticated to watch a country music show. The show now has to be more sophisticated. “But the show is already a hit with the big city slickers. They like it as it is,”

The wise men won out and added all kinds of changes. Out went the country humor and the fiddles. In their place they put a big band with lots of trombones and trumpets (they added the brass). The format was totally changed from “A Little Bit of Country” to “Big Brass City.”

You guessed it. The ratings went in the toilet and the show was canceled. Jimmy was telling me this story as a friendly warning. He said that I should not change anything in my show just because the ratings showed that more and more Los Angeles people were starting to watch it.

When Jimmy left the studio, his parting words were, “Remember, Lloyd, don’t let them add the brass.”

In 1966, I stopped listening to Jimmy Dean.

The Lloyd Thaxton Show was designed from the beginning as a low budget local show. It had one host (me), an average of 30 teens dancing to records in a small TV studio in front of an inexpensive set. There were several innovative elements that separated it from other dance shows at the time. Everyone (myself and the kids) lip-synced records and performed other wild and crazy production numbers in order to make the music visual and more entertaining to watch. Some have referred to these bits as “the beginning of the Music Video.” Even with these added elements, the show held on to its classic local show look.

In just 10 months, The Lloyd Thaxton Show zoomed to the top in Los Angeles. Not only was it a hit with teens, it was number one with 18-39 year-old viewers. This is the audience demographic most coveted by advertisers and in 1964 the show went into national syndication. And, guess what. The wise men showed up.

I was advised that because the show would now be seen in cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco, we had to make changes. Fortunately I remembered Jimmy Dean’s advice and refused to change or “add the brass.” The show continued its rating success in every city it played, big and small.

Reality Fact #1: The only reason the show was in syndication was because it was rated number one in the 18-39 demographics. Advertisers drool over this coveted bracket and the Lloyd Thaxton show was getting the winning numbers.

Reality Fact #2: Very few corporate executives, the ones who make the ad buying decisions, really watch the shows they advertise in on a regular basis, it at all. They make their ad buy decisions based on the rating books.

Then one day it all changed.

One of the Lloyd Thaxton Show’s biggest advertisers was Colgate-Palmolive. Colgate placed a lot of ads in the show. One afternoon the president of Colgate just happened to tune in and watched for about five minutes. What did he see? According to him, he saw nothing but teen-agers DANCING! He immediately called his ad department and asked, “Why are we advertising in that show? It’s a teen show! They don’t buy toothpaste!” The advertising department could not convince the president of the company that the rating books showed adults, 18-39, were watching and Colgate pulled their ads. On some TV stations this represented about 50% of their advertising and they panicked.

In marched the wise men again. “Change the show. Make it look older,” they said. This time I didn’t listen to Jimmy Dean. I could have held on. There were enough other advertisers aboard to get us through this emergency. But, I gave in and agreed to make changes. The show was moved to a larger studio, an expensive set was built, a new theme song was written, and two wonderfully talented young people (over 18) were hired to join me as host. Then I made what I now consider to be my biggest mistake. I changed the age limit for the kids on the show. They now had to be over 18. Instead of using high school groups, I changed to College students. “Ok,” I said, “If any advertising gurus tune in now, they will only see 18 to 23 year olds dancing on the show.

Were all these changes a fantastically shrewd move or not? NOT! I had broken the Jimmy Dean rule. I had “added the brass.”

As anyone could predict, I slowly started to lose my faithful teen audience. This was the show’s core. The overall ratings dropped. I could have still held on (and sometimes I wish I had) but I had been doing the show for five days a week, 52 weeks a year for over nine years and was ready to move on. The final straw was the Vietnam War, the draft, and the drain all this was taking on teen-agers at the time.

I cancelled the show.

I sometimes wonder that if I hadn’t given in the wise men (I think there were three) some version of The Lloyd Thaxton Show would be on today.

We’ve all heard the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Add this one: “Don’t let them add the brass.”

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Mouse Pack RULES

Hooray for our side, The Mouse Pack is a success. It has become “The Mouse That Roars.” In case you just tuned in and have no idea what I’m talking about, you can join in by scrolling down to the post titled, “LLOYD THAXTON MOUSE PACK.” Go down and read it, but come straight back up.

A fan named Gary wrote me that he has a Lloyd Thaxton Dawk (my little 60s protest guy) sitting on his bookshelf. He ends his posted comment with, “Dawk Rules!” Remember how in the 60s we all went around shouting things like “Surf Rules!” “Beatles Rule!” “Mouse Pack Rules!? Well, we didn’t shout “Mouse Pack Rules” because the Mouse Pack wasn’t born yet.

I formed the Mouse Pack because of the many fan emails (I call them “Fanny Mails”) I’ve received during the past year. It started when my book “Stuff Happens” came out and my email address was on the back cover. This experience was so wonderful I wanted to find a way we could keep up the communication. Writing individual emails to each person is not only too time consuming, but can’t possibly answer everyone’s questions. So, I started this blog as a way to keep us all together.

But like any Pack, we need some rules (Everybody shout: “Pack Rules!”)

RULE NUMBER ONE: This is NOT going to be a CHAT room. Too many people start chatting with each other and leave everyone else out. WRONG! I want you to ask questions, but I will discuss the question in my regular posts. That way I can answer your questions and pose some new ones I’ve received from past “Fanny Mails.”

RULE NUMBER TWO: You don’t have to always talk about The Lloyd Thaxton Show. We should also be talking about what is happening to us today. I’m sure many of you have some strong opinions on today’s stuff. I know I do and I want to hear your stuff and how you’re dealing with it.

RULE NUMBER THREE: You don’t have to leave a comment, but it would be nice. True Mousers want to know what’s going on in each other’s lives. I’ve made it easier for you to leave a comment. You don’t have to register. Just weigh in and let it all hang out.

RULE NUMBER FOUR: If you want to be on my Fanny Mail list, leave your email address at least once. That way I can keep you up to date on any changes that will be coming along later.

That’s it! Four rules. But, hey, this is your Pack. Maybe you have a couple of rules you would like to suggest. Cool. Do it. As you remember. The Lloyd Thaxton Show was about you. And, so is the Mouse Pack. Shout it out: “MOUSE PACK RULES!”

How about this for our theme song: The Shangri-las’ “The Leader of the Pack?”

My next post will answer a lot of questions. Keep them coming and STAY TUNED.

First question: If I’m from Wisconsin, should I call my chapter, “The Green Bay Mouse Packers? Just asking.

Answer: Yes

Friday, January 13, 2006


Welcome to The Lloyd Thaxton Mouse Pack.

Why Mouse Pack? Back in the 60s a famous Hollywood group of friends formed “The Rat Pack.” The star members were Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop. They filled out the group with a host of their equally famous friends. When you are a celebrity, it is hard to just go out as one couple and have a good time. Too many admirers can spoil the fun. The Rat Pack consisted of a group of friends who could go out together or have social functions at each other’s homes.

It’s incredible that, after 40 years off the air, I still have fans. The emails I’ve received in the past year touched my heart because of the many wonderful and sincere comments.

During one of my more zany musings, I thought about the Hollywood Rat Pack It gave me the idea of how to put together all my long time loyal fans and hopefully make a warm group of our own. We could sit at our computers and discuss things that were relevant in the 60s and how they are affecting our lives now. We are the Baby Boomers, the most powerful group in America. It’s time we all got booming.

Obviously, I couldn’t call this the “Rat Pack.” However, sitting at my computer with hand poised lightly on my mouse, I suddenly thought, “MOUSE PACK!” After all, I have a lot of stories to tell about the guests I had on the show and celebrities I knew like Steve McQueen and Marlon Brando (already posted). And, all the other exciting things that went on behind the scene of this wonderful era called “The 60s.” I’m sure all you “Mousepacketeers” have great stories of your own to share.

How do you join the exclusive Mouse Pack? If you are reading this posting, you already completed step one. The only other thing you have to do is go to the comment section and leave a message and your email address. Just those two things and you’re in.

Tell me in the comments what you would like to talk about and keep checking back. Based on what I hear from you, there should be a lot of exciting things to come.

To make this work, I need your input.

You're going to like this.

Monday, January 09, 2006


One thing about writing a blog when you have reached my age is you can say whatever you want. Question: Where does an old male elephant walk? Answer: Anywhere he wants.

I have often wondered if whenever Ronald Reagan thought of John F. Kennedy’s famous words at the Berlin Wall, he mouthed to himself, “Ich bin ein altes farzen.”

What a perfect segue to my subject. Age reared its (red) head at this year’s Rose Bowl Parade. It seems that 62-year-old parade narrator Stephanie Edwards was relegated to the cold and rainy bleachers while her partner of many years (pun intended), Bob Eubanks, sat warm and comfy in the announcer’s booth.

According to Ms. Edwards, “When a women is 62, she is not going to be seen as being as marketable as a man of the same age would be, not by marketers or the public.”

Do I detect a note of bitterness? If so, why is it that so many Hollywood people just don’t get it? In show biz, youth works. Age doesn’t. And, working hard at what doesn’t work will never make it work.

I’m not just talking about women. A few years ago I was doing pretty well doing voice-over commercials. I began to notice the auditions were getting fewer and fewer. I called my agent who informed me quite bluntly that I was just too old. “Too old to do voice-overs?” I asked, “No one ever sees me.”

I said this knowing it was not always the case. Even though blind audition tapes narrow the selection down to two or three people, the client usually wants to meet the finalists before the deciding audition tape. Even though the listener will never know, the client does. And that’s enough to cook your old goose.

Hey, I’m OK with that. I had my day. If everyone tried to stay around too long, there wouldn’t be room for the younger guys. Right? Life goes on.

At first, however, I was understandably chagrined (which means I did not grin). I did some research. One thing stood out as the great equalizer: HAIR DYE. When I see my ageless men compatriots who, till this very day, are still hot and in the competition, there isn’t a grey hair in sight. I, on the other hand, with my hair AND beard, stand out like Santa Claus at the mall. My advice to all male ageless wanabes? Stock up on Grecian Formula.

Going back to the Stephanie Edwards interview, she also lamented, “The public does not want to look at a 62-year-old woman with as much sexual interest as the public would look at a 62-year-old man."

To Stephanie I have to say in all honesty that I much prefer looking at a 62-year-old woman than a 62-year-old man; especially a beautiful red head like you. But, keep this in mind: I don’t really count. After all, I’m a member of a dying breed (double pun intended).

Sunday, January 01, 2006


According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, obesity is fast becoming the number-one teen-age health problem in the United States.

n : more than average fatness [syn: fleshiness]
Princeton University Dictionary

Based on the above, it isn’t much of a surprise that the number one New Year’s resolution is “lose weight.”

The solution is so obvious.

The movies have always taken big beatings from critics who complain that too much sex and violence in movies is a direct cause of too much sex and violence among teen-agers; that it’s the powerful influence created by all those over-sexed and violent roll-model movie stars. If what they are saying were true, it would be reasonable to presume that if there were less over-sexed and violent movie stars, there would be LESS sex and violence among teen-agers.

Based on this same hypothesis, we should then be able to further presume that if there were less obese movie stars, there would be less obese teen-agers on the street. Well, I got news for you: There ARE NO obese movie stars! They are all rich and thin.

So, if your teen-age son or daughter is a victim of “more than average fatness,” and has a bit of unwanted fleshiness, put them on The Movie Diet.

A movie a day
Keeps the fat away