Back in the entertainment news days of yore — a time before pop culture blogs and Twitter accounts that allowed celebrities to disseminate information themselves — a person’s best hope for staying on top of breaking Hollywood news was “Entertainment Tonight.”
The half-hour program that introduced the world to the perpetually perky Mary Hart turns 30 today. It arrived on our airwaves Sept. 14, 1981, with its jaunty theme song, no Hart (she would bring that UV-ray-emitting smile to the team later, in 1982) and the promise to introduce us to “some very interesting people,” including Burt Reynolds, Brooke Shields, Walter Matthau and Kenny Rogers. The lead story: Richard Chamberlain not winning an Emmy for his role in the miniseries “Shogun.”
Clearly the show evolved over the years, expanding its definition of celebrity and, like many media outlets that cover entertainment, growing a bit more salacious with the times. Here are some video highlights from three decades of “Entertainment Tonight.”
The weekend edition of ‘Entertainment Tonight” from Easter weekend, 1982. Breaking news: People like video games! Hal Linden talks life after prime time! Also, Robin Leach interviews Lainie Kazan about judging a Marilyn Monroe look-alike contest with high-larious results.
Oct. 18, 1985, when the big stories were the cancellation of “The Fall Guy,” the release of the anti-apartheid single “Sun City” and Rae Dawn Chong’s role in “Commando.”
Here’s a 1987 “Entertainment Tonight” promo featuring the one . . . the only . . . John Tesh. If you watch “ET,” “you won’t miss a beat,” promises Tesh co-host Hart in this teaser. Apparently you also won’t miss Mary Hart’s shoulder pads, since they are visible from distant galaxies.
Even Hart’s mega-ponytail can’t distract from the seriousness of this 1991 “ET” episode, in which the news magazine covered the Persian Gulf War.
The “ET” summer movie preview 1997, featuring blockbusters such as “Men in Black,” “Con-Air,” “Air Force One” and, of course, Brendan Fraser in “George of the Jungle.” “I guess if I was going to be embarrassed, I’m in the wrong business,” Fraser says. That statement also sums up the thought process that, more than a decade later, would lead Fraser to star in “Furry Vengeance.”
The Aug. 24, 2001, episode, which leads with Gary Condit’s interview with Connie Chung regarding the Chandra Levy case and a body language analysis of Condit and wife Carolyn. Hey, who said “ET” never did investigative, political journalism?
And lastly, the farewell to “Entertainment Tonight” goddess Mary Hart, which aired this year. Oh, there were tears. Thankfully, no shoulder pads, though.