Fifty years after her classic comedy-variety series debuted, Carol Burnett is still so glad she and her viewers had that time together.
The entertainment icon returns to the soundstage where she and comrades Vicki Lawrence, Harvey Korman, Tim Conway and Lyle Waggoner did the show in CBS’ two-hour “Carol Burnett 50th Anniversary Special,” tonight at 8. Lawrence and Waggoner also appear in the program, though Conway was “under the weather” at the time of the October taping, Burnett said.
The late Korman is recalled by guests including Jay Leno and Bill Hader in a segment devoted to his antics, and many others participate in helping Burnett mark the half-century milestone. Among them: Bernadette Peters (who was the first guest ever booked for the series), Jim Carrey, Kristin Chenoweth, Harry Connick Jr., Martin Short, Jane Lynch, Stephen Colbert and Maya Rudolph. Bob Mackie, who designed countless costumes for “The Carol Burnett Show,” also appears.
“It was pretty overwhelming,” the ever-friendly, much-honored Burnett said of doing the special. A winner of 20-plus Emmy Awards, “The Carol Burnett Show” ended its run in 1978, and the title star has returned to its studio a number of times since: “We did some specials and the 25th-anniversary reunion show there. Still, every time I go back and get on that stage, I think of all the wonderful memories that I have.”
Some of those, naturally, are related to the question-and-answer session Burnett always opened her program with (and which she still does in the in-person show she tours with). She has another of those openings in the new special, and she reveals that among the questions, “Two of them are asked by Tom Selleck and Pat Boone! They were in the audience. And then, a lady asked about my grandmother and my pulling my ear. I didn’t do a lot of those, though, because the show was so chock-full of stuff we had to get to.”
That includes Burnett’s eventual rendering of “I’m So Glad We Had This Time Together” (written by her then-husband, “Carol Burnett Show” executive producer Joe Hamilton), and she noted that someone sings it with her for a special reason.
“Harry Connick Jr. was born the day the show premiered — Sept. 11, 1967 — so I said, ‘Will you join me in the theme song?’ And he said, ‘I’ve been waiting 50 years to do this.’ And he flew out (to Los Angeles) to do it. I was so thrilled.”
A sitcom pilot Burnett made for ABC (with Amy Poehler as an executive producer) is being redeveloped, but “The Carol Burnett Show” remains present in home-video releases, on YouTube and in repeats repackaged as “Carol Burnett and Friends” and shown weeknights on Me-TV.
“As a result, I’m getting fan mail from 9- and 10-year-olds,” she said. “They’ll draw me pictures on their lined school paper, and it is so cute! And when I go out and do live shows every so often, I get audience members ranging from 9 to 90. I’ll keep doing those as long as I’m mobile.”...Read more