To watch "The World of Entertainment" is to behold not so much a show as a package. The wrappings and trappings are spiffy enough, but this attempt at an updated "Ed Sullivan Show"--airing Sunday at 8 p.m. on Channel 5--lumbers tediously from fizzle to kerplop.
The idea is to beam the world in via satellite rather than, as Ed did, fly it in to a stage in New York. Locations represented on the first show, pilot for a syndicated series, include Paris, Hong Kong, Vienna, St. Louis and confusingly perhaps, "Joe Montana in South Dakota." But all this hoop-dee-doo was recorded at different times on tape; "Entertainment" is really just a fancied-up cut-and-paste collage. All sense of event is absent; Ed's stage was really more amazing.
Gene Kelly, looking and sounding a trifle weary of it all, is the host, operating out of a big, round high-tech command post that suggests a dizzily kitschy flying saucer, or maybe "Cosmos Buzzes Las Vegas." Since Fred Silverman, the deposed NBC president now at MGM, oversaw this production, one can't help wondering if the set was constructed by arranging old Supertrain cars in a circle.
In the middle of the set, as in the hole of a doughnut, sits a portion of the studio audience, rotated en masse as Kelly walks around them. Let's hope they were provided with airsick bags if Kelly's labored intro's and outro's went into double-digit takes.
Among the acts are can-can dancers at the Moulin Rouge (in a sequence edited so that male dancers lining the back of the stage appear and disappear willy-nilly), Rich Little, the tedious rock group Alabama, so-what magician David Copperfield, Ben Vereen on a tiny stage at the Sheraton Hong Kong, and the Vienna Boys' Choir doing a vocal rendtition of "The Tritsch-Tratsch Polka."
Something for everyone it ain't. The lack of energy, much less momentousness, will probably prove soporific to all age groups. The combination of the future-foolish set and the old-time vaudeville format adds up, sadly, to a flat lot of zilch.