Studio A-1

"Camelot to Sand Lot"

By Roger Lee Miller

In January 1965, a quiz show, TUG-O-WAR, was shoe-horned into Studio A-1. John Conrad, better known for the show ELMER THE ELEPHANT, served as MC. Kenny Hermann, the stagehand who worked the elephant's trunk, was part of the crew. The two cameras were in quarters so tight they could not move.

A-1 shared cameras and the control room with Studio A. It was used for small setups and voice-over work when the staging crews were setting and lighting programs in A.

Studio A-1 became STUDIO Q in 1974. In another attempt to snatch videotape commercial business, Paul Ballentine came in from a production house to set up Cue Productions. A hard cyclorama, found in most commercial houses, was constructed to serve as a background. The advantage of a cyc is that it can be "painted" with lights and serves as a great generic background. Single camera film style production was now de rigueur with adverting agencies. The studio was designed as a stand alone facility with the camera cabled to a dedicated videotape recorder, set in the entrance way between Q and A.

Ballentine had great expectations. He wanted to land national commercials, with $100,000 budgets that built Chevrolets on the tops of mountains. I tried to convince Paul that we would do better to produce ten $10,000 commercials. We never built a mountain top Chevrolet. Our regular clients, such as Goldblatts, left us, as they were not properly serviced. By July 1976, Cue Productions was a thing of the past, and commercial production was never again seriously attempted at WMAQ-TV.

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