Saturday, February 7, 2015

Credits Where Credits Are Due

Diahann Carroll and her "frequent" co-star.
They're hugely important to many actors (and their agents), but how many viewers pay strict attention to the credits opening and closing their favorite shows? Is "also starring" better than "co-starring"? What does it mean if one actor's name is in bigger type than another's? And how did Jonathan Harris get to be a "Special Guest Star" for three full seasons on Lost in Space?

One man who took a light touch with this issue was writer-producer Hal Kanter (1918-2011), who often eschewed the standard language when giving his colleagues the credit they deserved. According to the titles for his 1968-71 sitcom Julia, the show is "frequently starring Lloyd Nolan as Dr. Chegley." On the short-lived Jimmy Stewart Show, Kanter promises us a cast that includes "very often John McGiver as Luther Quince." And on his earlier Valentine's Day (1964-65), the sponsor was introduced with non-standard phrases like, "intentionally brought to you by..."

Nowadays, most shows don't even have an opening titles sequence, per se -- they just jump right into the action, and flash the actors' names over the opening scenes. Call me old-fashioned, but I kind of miss the way things used to be -- especially when there was someone like Kanter checking to see if we were paying attention.

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