Slimed!: An Oral History of Nickelodeon’s Golden Age

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9780142196854: Slimed!: An Oral History of Nickelodeon’s Golden Age

An Entertainment Weekly Best Tell-All of 2013!
One of Parade Magazine's Best Books About Movies/TV of 2013!

A Publishers Weekly Top 10 Social Sciences Book in 2013!

"The book is quite impressive. Mathew Klickstein must have a large multi Gigabyte RAM in his head to remember all those quotes and sort them into a meaningful book. Or at least he must be very well organized. Well done."--Roger Price, creator of You Can't Do That on Television and inventor of "green slime" 
"While this is a book you can fit in your purse, and while the cover is a happy mixture of the classic Nickelodeon lime green and bright orange, it's filled with a lot more than nostalgia ... And while SLIMED! is certainly fun, especially for readers who grew up watching these shows, it also provides a serious lesson on the birth of cable television."--Kirkus Reviews
Finally, you can find out all you ever wanted to know about your favorite Golden Age Nickelodeon shows and personalities from those who made it all happen in this fascinating, funny and intimately forthright warts-and-all telling of how Nick became the First Kids' Network ... and the only network for YOU!
SLIMED! An Oral History of Nickelodeon's Golden Age tells the surprisingly complex, wonderfully nostalgic, and impressively compelling story of how Nickelodeon -- the First Kids' Network -- began as a DIY startup in the late 70s, and forged ahead through the early eighties with a tiny band of young artists and filmmakers who would go on to change everything about cable television, television in general, animation, and children's entertainment, proving just what can be done if the indie spirit is kept alive in the corporate world of contemporary media. Get the real back story about all of your favorite Golden Age Nick shows: Everything from such classics as You Can't Do That On Television, Out of Control and Double Dare to early 90s faves like The Adventures of Pete & Pete, the original three Nicktoons, Clarissa Explains It All and more. 

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About the Author:

Mathew Klickstein's writing has appeared in such publications as WiredNew York Daily News and Splitsider. He is the author of such books as SLIMED! An Oral History of Nickelodeon's Golden Age and he is the screenwriter of Sony Pictures' Against the Dark, starring Steven Seagal. He currently hosts the podcast NERTZ, is developing his latest book project and is directing/producing the forthcoming documentary about Marc Summers, On Your Marc. He aspires to get some sleep some day soon.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Foreward

ON YOUR MARK! GET SET!! STOP!!!

Now that I have your attention, let’s talk about one of the most amazing channels ever created. One that pretty much changed the landscape of kids’ TV, not to mention my fledgling showbiz career!

My first introduction to Nickelodeon was long before my Double Dare audition. It was our night-light, when our babies came home from the hospital and wanted that three-in-the-morning feeding. Cable was young, and we would catch the East Coast feed of a show that looked like something from the fifties: Pinwheel. The production, in my opinion, was horrible: the puppets were lackluster, and it seemed they reran the same six shows over and over. Yet I was mesmerized.

Fast-forward the tape to 1986. I was doing many things to feed my family. These included warm-ups on TV shows like Webster, Star Search, and What’s Happening Now! . . . and working as a stand-up comic and magician in clubs all over LA. A friend from Indianapolis—a ventriloquist—decided he was ending his performing career, moving behind the camera, and called to tell me about an audition I should attend instead of him. He said the network was Nickelodeon, and it was a kids’ game show. Hell, at that point of my life, I would audition for anything. Well, as we all know, it worked out pretty well.

The first day at the studio set the tone for what was about to come down. It was a bunch of young guys who were very bright and creative and yet had little experience in the world of game shows. I was the old man of the group at age thirty-four (although focus groups thought I was in my early twenties), with thirteen years of experience as a game show writer. I had crossed paths with some of the greats, including Bob Barker, Jack Barry, and Ralph Edwards. It really did not matter. We all had a sick sense of humor, were nostalgic for early TV references—and did I mention, we could do pretty much whatever we wanted?

Geraldine Laybourne was running the place and had a great philosophy: Hire people who know what they are doing . . . and then let them do their jobs. I miss her! That is why the joint was successful. We were allowed to be a little off center, think on the spot, and, in my opinion, play up to the audience. We never felt we were doing a kids’ show. We compared our humor to Rocky & Bullwinkle and Soupy Sales. It was kids’ TV that parents wanted to watch. It was one of the main reasons Double Dare took off .

Our success on Double Dare opened the floodgates. All of a sudden, kids had their own game shows, talk shows, variety shows, sitcoms, and dramas. They were all a bit raw in production values, but the casting was superb, as was the writing. The people on screen spoke like real kids and were not blue-eyed, blond-haired specimens from the perfect world of Disney. The audience could relate to what they saw on the screen. Finally!

Add to this contests that included romps through toy stores; Nick Takes Over Your School; arena tours with Double Dare, What Would You Do?, and GUTS . . . and the best slogan anywhere: “The place where only kids win!” It was to kids of a particular generation the golden age of TV. Now, well into their thirties, these viewers look back fondly on the shows, characters, and music associated with these programs.

Why did it work? Was it the casting? The writing? The irreverence? Was it just timing? What you are about to read might explain it. Personally, I think it is like trying to dissect a joke. Why is it funny? Who cares? It worked, and we are all glad it did. Sooooooo . . .

On your mark! Get set!! Go!!!!

Happy Reading!

MARC SUMMERS

Host, Double Dare and What Would You Do?

CHRISTINE TAYLOR: It was sort of us going through the things a lot of kids do . . . but we were doing it on TV. I can go back and see myself growing up before my very own eyes—for all the world to see.

DANNY TAMBERELLI: It’s part of how I became who I am now. I’ve heard the same thing happened to me said by people who grew up watching the show. It was okay to be weird and be a little bit off and not be completely status quo. It sort of molded me. I still burp and stick things up my nose.

ELIZABETH HESS: Of course, both Melissa Joan Hart and Jason Zimbler were going through huge changes. They went through puberty over the course of Clarissa. They both learned how to drive during the course of the shows. Jason’s voice changed. Melissa’s body went from a girl to a young woman. All those sorts of things.

JUDY GRAFE: Something everybody noticed was when Michael Maronna’s voice was changing. We were all like, “What does that mean? Is he still going to be Pete?” Then once he was becoming an early teen idol, all the young girls were coming to the sets all atwitter over him. That’s something we noticed, too.

ALISON FANELLI: Some weeks were horrid because we were going through puberty and I might have this big pimple on my forehead while I’m trying to shoot a close-up. I got to a point where every scene they were putting powder on my face, because we were just oily teenagers. After a while, they were more conscious about giving us diff erent dressing spaces instead of trading off in the same space. But mine was near Michael’s and Danny’s. Oh gosh, yeah. It was super awkward.

VANESSA LINDORES: Growing up isn’t easy. Doing it in front of a lot of people doesn’t make it any easier.

ALASDAIR GILLIS: This entrance into puberty was being captured on film. For myself, it was kind of jarring.

LARISA OLEYNIK: It’s definitely embarrassing when you’re literally growing up in front of people’s eyes. You’re doing wardrobe fittings and it’s like, “Oh! I have hips now! I’m not just the beanpole I used to be!” It’s awkward, but no more awkward than it would be otherwise. It would have been more awkward if I had just been going to junior high being like, “What do I do?”

HEIDI LUCAS: There was something female-related that I went through on Salute Your Shorts, and I felt completely secure with the female crew that was there. I knew I could take a problem or concern to anyone and they would wrap their arms around me physically and figuratively to help me through any problem.

HERB SCANNELL: Things were, by and large, sympathetic. Most of the kids had family structures they were living in, and our job was to let them continue being kids.

JASON ZIMBLER: Those people helped to raise me. They made me funny. They made me a good person.

ALISON FANELLI: But parts of it were really awkward and hard. In the “What We Did on Our Summer Vacation” special, I was eleven or twelve and working in the photo booth costume. It was a yellow T-shirt and a green jumper that was a skirt. Something went wrong with the microphone, they yelled cut, and one of the crew members came over, got down on his knees, and went right for the microphone, which was wrapped around my waist under the dress. My mom came flying out of nowhere: “No! No! No!” That was the first time I was conscious to, “Oh, maybe I should be more aware that he was grabbing me!” It was totally professional, but . . .

JESSICA GAYNES: I was the youngest of all of the hosts on Wild & Crazy Kids. And I was a girl. Sometimes it’s shocking how we’d get one crew person who would be clueless. There was one time where they said, “Put them in their spaces.” One of them thought it would be funny to say, “Jessica’s in her hole!” I heard it. And everybody who heard it, their jaws dropped. One person said, “What are you doing? She’s a minor! Do you want to get sued?” Those incidents are scarring. Young girls can’t handle that.

JUSTIN CAMMY: The crew on You Can’t Do That on Television introduced me to pornography. Playboy was always lying around.

ADAM WEISSMAN: You’re going through hormonal changes on your own, you’re feeling awkward in your own body, you’re trying to figure yourself out . . . and then you thrust that awkwardness in front of the cameras, in front of people, doing scripted TV, which you may or may not have been trained to do. You have to deal with the pressures of a TV show, and two or three hours a day in short increments, you get pulled off the set to go to school. There’s somebody knocking on the door every twenty minutes, saying, “Okay, it’s time to come back to the set!”

JUSTIN CAMMY: That is the totally unglamorous nature to making a TV show: The days are long, it’s really boring, you’re inside an overly air-conditioned studio. Most of the time you’re waiting for lights to work or cameras to be set. It’s a fun job, but nevertheless a job.

MICHAEL MARONNA: I didn’t think of it so much as a career. I had my individual pursuits—was into my Nintendo, playing outside . . .

LARISA OLEYNIK: I was able to maintain a relatively normal life. We all just got up, went to work, and then did our homework. Then went to bed. And socialized like normal human beings on the weekend.

JOANNA GARCIA: My parents were okay with me doing Are You Afraid of the Dark? because it was conducive to being normal and staying in school in Florida, then going up for a couple weeks to shoot in Montreal. I got the best of both worlds.

JACOB TIERNEY: Those of us in the Midnight Society weren’t in the stories; we just kinda burned our little bits and played with the fi re. They taped all of our stuff at the beginning of each season.

D.J. MACHALE: That was a challenge, because it meant all the stories had to be set up very early on because we couldn’t do a campfire scene where the kids would say, “This is a story about a really scary . . . thing.”

JACOB TIERNEY: We did it—the campfire stuff—so quickly. If memory serves, we’d do a whole season maybe within two weeks. Maybe four of them a day, and then we were done. It’s kind of a black hole in my memory.

JUDY GRAFE: Danny’s mother made him understand that this was a temporary thing and that a lot of times what happens when kids who are actors grow up is that they find there’s nothing there for them.

DANNY TAMBERELLI: My parents were really good at keeping me grounded. I worked at a bagel store while working on All That. I played rec soccer and baseball during all the shooting of Pete & Pete. They made sure to work really hard so I wouldn’t have a Michael Jackson upbringing or anything.

DANNY COOKSEY: It’s an interesting thing that happens when you’re successful and young; it changes everything. I was around a lot of people who were sort of affected by it, and it’s a weird chip that people carry around. You can either take the negative around with you or take the positive. Nobody comes out unscathed.

MELISSA JOAN HART: I was working too hard to get into trouble. I wasn’t in Hollywood; I was in Orlando, and other than the two boys on Clarissa, I was the only one around my age. All the people around were like big brothers and sisters keeping an eye on me, telling me what’s right and wrong. I didn’t have to go drinking or do drugs or go to clubs or any of that, because I was having such fun being a part of this whole thing.

SEAN O’NEAL: When kids are in the spotlight and they are not given room to breathe and they are sucked into the vortex of what this industry can do to certain people, that’s a shame. I went through some transitional periods afterward that took a long time to really get me solid. But man, the show was an amazing experience.

ADAM REID: It wasn’t a big deal in Ottawa. None of my friends cared that I was doing You Can’t Do That on Television. Several times I would do these trips—Vanessa, Doug, Les, and I went and rolled Easter eggs on the White House lawn; we met George Bush!—and then we’d go back to school like nothing happened.

BLAKE SENNETT: Any time you bounce back and forth, it’s weird. You’re the king of the universe and then you go back to school and you have no friends and you’re “that nerdy theater kid.” I felt like a dork in high school. But it was worth it.

ALISON FANELLI: I got teased a bunch in elementary school. In high school, they knew that I was gone for four months of the school year and then I’d be back. The teachers were even used to it. I had a really tight-knit group of friends who knew what I was doing. When I was off set, I was Ally. I got to be me: go to school, go to homecoming dances, and play the oboe, and sing in the theater show. Growing up, no matter how big a show is—and we didn’t think Pete & Pete was all that popular at the time—you just gotta be careful of the friends you pick. I could tell which people wanted to ask about the show and hang out just because I was on a show, as opposed to my friends. That’s a good life lesson.

HEIDI LUCAS: When life went back to normal, and the show went on syndication, I found a world of conflict. I had so much praise and support from my family. My true friends thought it was the greatest thing in the world. But then I would go to school . . . I could not escape enough. I had to have lunch in a teacher’s homeroom with a teacher because it was the safest place for me to go. Everybody wanted to beat me up. I had “kick your ass” threats all over my locker; I had “Heidi ho” written on my locker. It got so bad I was pulled out and was homeschooled for my last year and a half. That’s how bad it was.

MEGAN BERWICK: A lot of kids who act go through the same thing where everybody hates you. The other thing is that you’re not in school enough in a year that you can actually be a part of any of the cliques. One of the things that struck me about junior high was how many lunch breaks I’d spend sitting in the bathroom alone. It wasn’t until college that I realized I was actually pretty and could date and all that stuff. I definitely never got asked out in high school. Not a single time.

TREVOR EYSTER: I certainly would never have thought Megan would have had that trouble. Sure, she had braces, but she was bright, amazingly intelligent, quirky, charming.

DANNY TAMBERELLI: For me, it was typical, normal growing up. People made fun of people for different things. I made it out all right. I got a lot of kids on to the show because I lived in Jersey where we shot, so if they needed kid extras, I would invite people to come. Th at helped me make friends.

CHRISTINE TAYLOR: The pilot was going to just be this fun thing I never thought would go any further. When we went off to do it, it sort of felt like a dream. I was really new to it at the time. The day we were going to fly to Arizona for Hey Dude was the day they were announcing homecoming in my school, and that was a big deal. I still went to school in the morning before we drove to JFK Airport to get on the flight. I was still really invested in my “real” life, as I called it.

DAVE RHODEN: My parents would pick me up right from high school, drive me to the studios, and we’d be there until eight fi ft een or eight thirty at night. Get home around nine to eat dinner and then try to crank out homework until around ten. On top of that, we had lines to memorize. Some teachers wouldn’t always collect our homework, but we would be told to do it anyway. So I would literally guess each night which homework assignments would be picked up the next day in class and work on those ones.

CHRIST...

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Book Description Plume Books, United States, 2013. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. SLIMED! An Oral History of Nickelodeon s Golden Age tells the surprisingly complex, wonderfully nostalgic, and impressively compelling story of how Nickelodeon -- the First Kids Network -- began as a DIY startup in the late 70s, and forged ahead through the early eighties with a tiny band of young artists and filmmakers who would go on to change everything about cable television, television in general, animation, and children s entertainment, proving just what can be done if the indie spirit is kept alive in the corporate world. Get the real back story about all of your favorite Golden Age Nick shows: Everything from such classics as You Can t Do That On Television, Out of Control and Double Dare to early 90s faves like The Adventures of Pete Pete, the original three Nicktoons, Clarissa Explains It All and more . All from those who made it happen!. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780142196854

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Book Description Plume Books, United States, 2013. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. SLIMED! An Oral History of Nickelodeon s Golden Age tells the surprisingly complex, wonderfully nostalgic, and impressively compelling story of how Nickelodeon -- the First Kids Network -- began as a DIY startup in the late 70s, and forged ahead through the early eighties with a tiny band of young artists and filmmakers who would go on to change everything about cable television, television in general, animation, and children s entertainment, proving just what can be done if the indie spirit is kept alive in the corporate world. Get the real back story about all of your favorite Golden Age Nick shows: Everything from such classics as You Can t Do That On Television, Out of Control and Double Dare to early 90s faves like The Adventures of Pete Pete, the original three Nicktoons, Clarissa Explains It All and more . All from those who made it happen!. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780142196854

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