CBS permanently seals Jack Benny television masters...?

1/23/10:  And more press...

There is an unsubstantiated rumor that CBS is now thinking of releasing these shows themselves.  If this is the case, then that's great!  If they actually do release them, I'd like to be first in line to applaud them.  Not from any sort of victorious high horse, but simply out of the happiness that Jack's show are getting out of the vaults and back into the public's eyes and ears.  

This does bring up a question on their original statement:  "There are so many issues with those shows, that even if we took the time to figure it out, we still almost certainly wouldn't do the deal."  I asked directly if it was because we were a non-profit and not a production company marketing the shows, and was told that it made no difference.  This is why I indicated that the shows were "sealed".  So what is it that makes it worth "the time to figure it out" if they release the shows themselves?  I guess the obvious answer is money.  OK, CBS is a business whose ultimate obligation is to make money for their shareholders.

I personally hope that CBS ultimately decides that these shows are worth enough money to release them and not keep them locked away.  And it will probably take years to decide that.  In the meantime, the IJBFC will continue to pursue other avenues for preserving Jack's valuable video work and bring it back to your screens. - LL

1/19/10:  And more press!

1/18/10:  The word is getting out:

In December 2008 when I was at CBS overseeing the color specials transfer, I was told that CBS had the Benny television program masters.  I was breathless!

I got a listing of their holdings, and selected about 25 shows that are currently uncirculated and in the public domain.  I sent the request for us to digitally preserve these shows, at the IJBFC's cost, to Lorra-Lea Bartlett, the Manager of the CBS Contracts Rights and Clearances department.

This was followed by about nine months of waiting for the CBS New York legal department to respond to the request.  On September 7th, I was asked to provide a letter from the Benny Estate requesting that the programs be released, and "that should get this unstuck."  The Estate happily provided the letter to CBS.  I continued to follow up weekly for status.

Today I was informed by Peter Murray, Lorra-Lea's assistant, that she had talked with CBS' Vice President of Business Affairs, and "there are so many issues with those shows, that even if we took the time to figure it out, we still almost certainly wouldn't do the deal."  So that's it.  Access to the Jack Benny television masters is sealed.

In 1964, James Aubrey told Jack Benny that his weekly television series was terminated with the words, "YOU'RE THROUGH, OLD MAN!"  Sadly, 46 years later, CBS has repeated the sentiment by condemning these shows to permanent silence.

Want to tell CBS what you think?

Web feedback:  http://www.cbs.com/info/user_services/fb_global_form.php

Regular mail:

Sumner Redstone, Executive Chairman
Leslie Moonves, President and CEO

51 West 52 Street
New York, New York 10019-6188

So what do they have?  I have had several people ask about what exactly it is that CBS has in their archive.  Enjoy!

EPIS# DESC ROLL# LENGTH REEL# COMMENTS VTR-LIB-CODE Date Copy
520127-11 16MM OPT TRK 1 1000 FT E41562 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-MXX-TRN 1/27/1952 1
520127-11 16MM ORIG/KNE 1 1000 FT E41562 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-KNE-NEG 1/27/1952 2
531206 35/32MM OPT TRK 1 1000 FT   TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 35/32-MXX-TRN 12/6/1953 1
531206 16MM ORIG/KNE 1 1000 FT   TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-KNE-NEG 12/6/1953 2
540117-07A 16MM OPT TRK 1 1000 FT E41561 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-MXX-TRN 1/17/1954 1
540117-07A 16MM ORIG/KNE 1 1000 FT E41561 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-KNE-NEG 1/17/1954 2
540207 35/32MM OPT TRK 1 1000 FT   TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 35/32-MXX-TRN 2/7/1954 1
540207 16MM ORIG/KNE 1 1000 FT   TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-KNE-NEG 2/7/1954 2
540502-07A 16MM OPT TRK 1 1000 FT E41565 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-MXX-TRN 5/2/1954 1
540502-07A 16MM ORIG/KNE 1 1000 FT E41565 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-KNE-NEG 5/2/1954 2
550206 35/32MM OPT TRK 1 1000 FT   TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 35/32-MXX-TRN 2/6/1955 1
550206 16MM ORIG/KNE 1 1000 FT   TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-KNE-NEG 2/6/1955 2
550306 35/32MM OPT TRK 1 1000 FT   TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 35/32-MXX-TRN 3/6/1955 1
550306 16MM OPT TRK 2 1000 FT   TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-MXX-TRN 3/6/1955 2
550306 16MM ORIG/KNE 1 1000 FT   TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-KNE-NEG 3/6/1955 3
560129-09 16MM OPT TRK 1 1000 FT E41591 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-MXX-TRN 1/29/1956 1
560129-09 16MM ORIG/KNE 1 1000 FT E41591 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-KNE-NEG 1/29/1956 2
560212-11 16MM OPT TRK 1 1000 FT E41543 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-MXX-TRN 2/12/1956 1
560212-11 16MM ORIG/KNE 1 1000 FT E41543 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-KNE-NEG 2/12/1956 2
561021-10 16MM OPT TRK 1 1000 FT E41542 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-MXX-TRN 10/21/1956 1
561021-10 16MM ORIG/KNE 1 1000 FT E41542 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-KNE-NEG 10/21/1956 2
570224-11 16MM OPT TRK 1 1000 FT E41541 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-MXX-TRN 2/24/1957 1
570224-11 16MM ORIG/KNE 1 1000 FT E41541 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-KNE-NEG 2/24/1957 2
571215-09 16MM OPT TRK 1 1000 FT E41540 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-MXX-TRN 12/15/1957 1
571215-09 16MM ORIG/KNE 1 1000 FT E41540 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-KNE-NEG 12/15/1957 2
571229-09 16MM OPT TRK 1 1000 FT E41539 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-MXX-TRN 12/29/1957 1
571229-09 16MM ORIG/KNE 1 1000 FT E41539 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-KNE-NEG 12/29/1957 2
580126-09 16MM OPT TRK 1 1000 FT E41593 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-MXX-TRN 1/26/1958 1
580126-01 16MM OPT TRK 1 1000 FT E41554 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-MXX-TRN 1/26/1958 2
580126-09 16MM ORIG/KNE 1 1000 FT E41593 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-KNE-NEG 1/26/1958 3
580126-01 16MM ORIG/KNE 1 1000 FT E41554 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-KNE-NEG 1/26/1958 4
580223-5712 16MM OPT TRK 1 1000 FT E41545 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-MXX-TRN 2/23/1958 1
580223-5712 16MM ORIG/KNE 1 1000 FT E41545 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-KNE-NEG 2/23/1958 2
580309 16MM OPT TRK 1 1000 FT E41555 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-MXX-TRN 3/9/1958 1
580309 16MM ORIG/KNE 1 1000 FT E41555 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-KNE-NEG 3/9/1958 2
580406-16 16MM OPT TRK 1 1000 FT E41544 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-MXX-TRN 4/6/1958 1
580406-16 16MM ORIG/KNE 1 1000 FT E41544 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-KNE-NEG 4/6/1958 2
580921-07 16MM OPT TRK 1 1000 FT E41548 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-MXX-TRN 9/21/1958 1
580921-07 (EXTRA COPY) 16MM OPT TRK 1 1000 FT E41550 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-MXX-TRN 9/21/1958 2
580921-07 16MM ORIG/KNE 1 1000 FT E41548 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-KNE-NEG 9/21/1958 3
580921-07 (EXTRA COPY) 16MM ORIG/KNE 1 1000 FT E41550 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-KNE-NEG 9/21/1958 4
581005-07 16MM ORIG/KNE 1 1000 FT E41551 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-KNE-NEG 10/5/1958 1
581005-07 16MM OPT TRK 1 1000 FT E41551 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-MXX-TRN 10/5/1958 2
581102-08 16MM OPT TRK 1 1000 FT E41590 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-MXX-TRN 11/2/1958 1
581102-08 16MM ORIG/KNE 1 1000 FT E41590 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-KNE-NEG 11/2/1958 2
581116-08 16MM ORIG/KNE 1 1000 FT E41547 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-KNE-NEG 11/15/1958 2
581116-08 16MM OPT TRK 1 1000 FT E41547 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-MXX-TRN 11/16/1958 1
581228-08 16MM OPT TRK 1 1000 FT E41564 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-MXX-TRN 12/28/1958 1
581228-08 16MM ORIG/KNE 1 1000 FT E41564 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-KNE-NEG 12/28/1958 2
590125-10 16MM ORIG/KNE 1 1000 FT E41549 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-KNE-NEG 1/25/1959 1
590125-10 16MM OPT TRK 1 1000 FT E41549 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-MXX-TRN 1/25/1959 2
590222-10 16MM ORIG/KNE 1 1000 FT E41546 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-KNE-NEG 2/22/1959 1
590222-10 16MM OPT TRK 1 1000 FT E41546 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-MXX-TRN 2/22/1959 2
590308-10 16MM ORIG/KNE 1 1000 FT E41553 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-KNE-NEG 3/8/1959 1
590308-10 16MM OPT TRK 1 1000 FT E41553 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-MXX-TRN 3/8/1959 2
590405-10 16MM ORIG/KNE 1 1000 FT E41552 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-KNE-NEG 4/5/1959 1
590405-10 16MM OPT TRK 1 1000 FT E41552 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-MXX-TRN 4/5/1959 2
600306-09 16MM OPT TRK 1 1000 FT E41588 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-MXX-TRN 3/6/1960 1
600306-09 16MM ORIG/KNE 1 1000 FT E41588 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-KNE-NEG 3/6/1960 2
601016-07 16MM OPT TRK 1 1000 FT E41563 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-MXX-TRN 10/16/1960 1
601016-07 16MM ORIG/KNE 1 1000 FT E41563 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-KNE-NEG 10/16/1960 2
611015-06 16MM OPT TRK 1 1000 FT E41592 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-MXX-TRN 10/15/1961 1
611015-06 16MM ORIG/KNE 1 1000 FT E41592 TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-KNE-NEG 10/15/1961 2
55) 35/32MM OPT TRK 1 1000 FT   TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 35/32-MXX-TRN
55) 16MM ORIG/KNE 1 1000 FT   TV SERS  B&W ELEMENT 16MMF-KNE-NEG