by TVWriter™ Press Service
Herbie J Pilato has always loved television.
While growing up in Rochester, New York in the 1960s, his favorite TV series included Star Trek, Petticoat Junction, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Kung Fu, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Bewitched, just to name a few. “Those shows inspired me,” he says today. “And they inspired a lot of people. It was a traumatic, yet remarkable time.”
Indeed. The 1960s were littered with war, racial turmoil, political assassinations, all of which somehow coexisted with “flower power,” “free love,” and the sexual revolution.
In the midst of it all was a little boy Herbie J (no period after the “J,” long story) who years later would mature into a writing machine that would chronicle it all, first with a series of heralded TV companion books, articles, and blogs which subsequently bled into his work as a consultant and producer on several classic TV documentaries. In 2010, he then founded the Classic TV Preservation Society, a formal 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the positive social influence of classic television.
And now, after more than five decades of loving, living, and breathing classic TV, Herbie J hosts Then Again with Herbie J Pilato, a new classic TV talk show that Shout Factory TV begins streaming July 1st on Amazon Prime, among other media platforms. Then Again will focus on the shows and stars that impacted and influenced Herbie J in the most uplifting way. “To be inspired by Mayberry, RFD and Wonder Woman as a child,” he says, “…and then be able to share that affection with both the people who were involved with such shows, and with the viewers at home who loved the shows as much as I did, is well…just simply a wonderful thing.”
Then Again is executive-produced by Council Tree Productions, headed by Steven Hillard and Joel Eisenberg (The Chronicles of Ara), who along with producer and wife Lorie Girsh Eisenberg, discovered Herbie J in 2015, when he hosted his Throwback Thursdays live-events at the Barnes & Noble in Burbank. “My wife and I visited Herbie at one of his events and we were immediately sold. ‘Why isn’t anyone honoring classic TV stars like this on a regular basis?’ we asked. The answer turned into our show.”
Herbie J is quick to clarify, “Then Again would never have happened had it not been for Joel and Lorie. They believed in me and my work as much as I did, if not more. When I was doing the live-events in Burbank, I wasn’t thinking of it all becoming a TV show. I was just happy with talking to people like Dawn Wells [Gilligan’s Island] and Lydia Cornell [Too Close For Comfort], and I felt like, ‘Ok, this is a good thing. It doesn’t get much better than this.’”
But it did get better, and was it all because Herbie J pursued his dreams. “I just followed my heart,” he says. “I loved classic TV, and then I wrote about what I loved. As a writer, that’s the ideal scenario. And that it all somehow materialized into hosting my own talk show, which actually has become more than a dream come true, especially because many of the shows that I grew up watching were talk shows hosted by Merv Griffin, Dinah Shore, Mike Douglas, while certainly, too, The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson had a great influence on me. The fact that I would eventually work on The Tonight Show as an NBC Page seemed to possibly foreshadow my hosting Then Again.”
“I mean,” he continues, “…who knows how things work out, right? Who really, really knows what the plan is in the big-picture scheme of things? I’ve just always tried to do the best work I can, and bring and share a few smiles along with the way. Right now, I’m just grateful for the amazing opportunity that Shout Factory TV has presented me with. I am nothing less than thrilled, and I want only to do the best job I can.”
Considering the line-up of stars for Then Again with Herbie J Pilato, the pathway for its success is cleared. Future episodes will feature Marion Ross (Happy Days) and Cindy Williams (Laverne & Shirley), for a special tribute to producer/writer/director Garry Marshal, brothers Barry Livingston and Stanley Livingston (My Three Sons), Kathryn Leigh Scott, Lara Parker, and David Selby (the iconic stars of Dark Shadows), Burt Ward (Batman), Robert Conrad (The Wild Wild West), and Ed Asner (The Mary Tyler Moore Show), the latter of whom Herbie J also interviewed for his new book, Mary: The Mary Tyler Moore Story (recently published by Jacobs Brown Press).
Either way, we here at TVWriter.com couldn’t be more proud that one of our spawn has spun his own TV show. For us, it doesn’t get much better than that!
EDITOR’S NOTE: Herbie J Pilato has been part of TVWriter™ for 20 years and is Contributing Editor Emeritus. Learn more about Mr. Pilato his very self HERE.