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Site News - A Piece of TV History, '69s Mama Cass Television Program, Comes to DVD

One-time special was meant to serve as a variety show pilot, but didn't get picked up

Posted by David Lambert
We usually don't cover the DVD releases of any "one-time TV specials" here, because there are just so many of them and it becomes an impossible task. So we stick to episodic television, which is what we're really all about. Still, every once in a while we bend that rule, because the item in question is a bona fide piece of television history, that it deserves a mention. We have such an item today: 1969's The Mama Cass Television Program. This special-come-pilot-episode is coming to DVD this summer, from Infinity Entertainment and the Falcon Picture Group. And the studio description of it does a terrific job of explaining what it is, for you youngsters who may not have heard of it:
    2009 marks not only the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, but of The Mama Cass Television Program: a colorful 1969 ABC special that uniquely captured not only the free spirit of this iconic festival of music and love, but of the times and a decade of change.

    Filmed as a pilot for a TV variety series, the show - a joyous celebration of both music and "flower power" - never aired again (likely a victim of suit-and-tie network executives who tuned in, found it a bit TOO groovy, and tuned out). Joni Mitchell, John Sebastian and Mary Travers all join Mama Cass Elliot for a sing-along that's a flashback of '60s music utopia. Features rare solo vocal performances by Cass - who had announced a solo career the previous year - of The Mamas and the Papas' mega-hits California Dreamin' and Monday, Monday.

    Also includes Cass' solo renditions of Dream a Little Dream of Me, River of Life, I Can Dream Can't I? and the Motown hit Dancing in the Street, as well as performances of Both Sides Now (Mitchell), And When I Die (Travers), I Shall Be Released (Elliot, Mitchell and Travers in a stirring rendition of this Bob Dylan song), She's a Lady (Sebastian) and Darlin' Companion (Elliot and Sebastian). Other guest stars include Buddy Hackett, Martin Landau and Barbara Bain in a pair of humorous sketches with Cass.
As I said, a true jewel...and one I've personally heard about time and again, but never had the pleasure of seeing (I was 3 when it aired!). We'll all get the chance to watch The Mama Cass Television Program on August 25th, when Falcon/Infinity makes this single-disc release available on DVD. Besides the Program itself, you'll also get a Bonus Duet by "Mama" Cass and Sammy Davis, Jr., of "I Dig Rock And Roll Music," plus "a new interview with John Sebastian, who remembers his friend Cass (who passed away in 1974) and The Mamas and the Papas (which split for the final time in 1971)." Cover art isn't available yet, but cost is $14.98 SRP, and you can pre-order from Amazon right away, and get it at a discount. Groovy!

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