Posted ByGerry O. on July 24, 2002 at 00:18:26:
In Reply to: Re: What Was Keefe Braselle's Problem? posted byDavid M. Lynch on July 23, 2002 at 20:43:18:
David's questions prompted me to search my broadcasting-related books to find out more about this Benny-Brasselle situation.
In looking through a history of CBS, I was surprised to discover that although Jack had never met Keefe Brasselle, Jack INDIRECTLY was the cause of Brasselle losing his "executive" position at the network!
It seems that in the 1960's, after attempting a career as a performer, Brasselle became the right-hand man to James Aubrey at CBS. Aubrey was a programming executive who was known as "The Smiling Cobra". Aubrey was a vicious sadist who was famous for not only cancelling TV series, but for also getting a sicko charge out of giving the cancelled shows' performers and staff the bad news.
During Jack's last TV season on CBS, it became painfully clear that the show's ratings were going down the tubes. Stiff competition from NBC's "Bonanza" plus changing tastes meant certain cancellation of the weekly Benny program. However, William Paley had a long and friendly history with Jack and was grateful for what Jack had done through the years to help make CBS the "Tiffany Network". Also, Paley did not want to lose Jack's services entirely....He had some ideas in mind for hour-long Benny specials and the like.
Paley wanted to handle giving the bad news to Jack personally...and he also wanted to lead into more upbeat talks about future Benny-CBS projects. However, Aubrey (who had rapidly been losing favor with Paley to begin with) beat Paley to the punch. Aubrey gave the news to Jack in a VERY rude manner....something to the effect of "You're through, Old Man!". Jack was so humiliated and upset that he left CBS and immediately signed with NBC for a final season of weekly programs.
When Paley found out about this, he was FURIOUS with Aubrey...It was truly the last straw!
Because of the terrible and heartless handling of Jack Benny, Paley fired both James Aubrey and Aubrey's right-hand man, KEEFE BRASSELLE!
It was Brasselle's firing that prompted him to the write the bitter "novel" about a TV network (which EVERYBODY knew was supposed to be CBS) and it's "loser" performers.
So in some twisted way, Brasselle could have blamed Jack Benny for his being fired from CBS!