I'm totally obsessing over J.T.
now. In fact, it's the best obsession since JTT. I was going to go hunt around town for the book
, but it sounds like maybe the movie came first. According to IMDb
trivia, it originally aired on a children's anthology series as part of CBS' Saturday morning lineup, but "the film garnered such rave reviews that CBS decided to give it a prime time airing the following week." Pretty great for an independently produced hour-long program aimed at children. Jane Wagner's teleplay won a Peabody Award and brought her to the attention of Lily Tomlin, for whom Wagner later wrote (Tomlin sells the book of J.T.
on her website
That Robert M. Young directed the film gives it a ton of credibility with me — enough that I'll probably order a DVD from this semi-sketchy website
. He worked with Michael Roemer (since college I believe), collaborating most notably on Nothing But a Man
in 1964. That was five years before J.T.
, after which Young went on to direct Short Eyes
(which I've seen), Alambrista!
(which I really need to see), and a bunch of Battlestar Gallactica
In addition to Wagner and Young, J.T.
also appears to have help launch the career of Kevin Hooks. Well, that's not quite true. According to IMDb, he only acted sporadically during the 70s, but he won a Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer (Male) for Sounder
and was also in A Hero Ain't Nothin' But a Sandwich
, among other things; but since the 80s, he's been a very successful television director (including the "Fear and Loathing with Russell Buckins" episode of 21 Jump Street
, lol) and is currently one of the executive producers of Prison Break
. In in 2003, he came nearly full circle, earning a DGA nomination for directing a new made-for-television adaptation of Sounder
I don't know, I find this all very fascinating. I love these films that made such a huge impact on the people who saw them and also the people who worked on them — but nonetheless fell into obscurity.
Ooh, nice, the IMDb page for J.T.
has a link to this awesome look
at Saturday morning tv in 1969. Apparently, the anthology show that J.T.
aired as part of was the CBS Children's Hour
, something which occasionally ran in place of The Monkees
! The primetime showing was on December 22, 1969 — right before Christmas.
As a testament to the lasting impact of this film, there are four pages of user comments about it at IMDB, even though the movie doesn't have any sort of video release and hasn't aired on tv since 1991, I think. Almost everyone posting there seems to remember this exchange: Grandma:
What you want for Christmas... Child? J.T.:
A cat. I want me this cat I found.
Precious. There are also sixteen message board threads for it, totalling 57 posts. The latest thread (from the end of November) urged people to vote for J.T.
in this Paley Center poll
about the best television Holiday specials ever — even though it was a lost cause because the competition included the likes of the Star Wars Holiday Special
end up with just 0.5% of the vote.)
Anyway, I guess I'll go continue obsessing about this movie. Still no word on whether the cat was really named Toby (or if that's what the T in J.T. stands for).