Season 2 episode 20
IMDb has made a huge mistake – and I fell for it. I was looking forward to seeing Billie Holiday in the season 2 episode, “No More Sad Songs”. I had seen on IMDb that the wonderful and very famous blues singer Billie Holiday played Aunt Bess. I knew it was Billie Holiday because her picture is right there on IMDb credit list. I also knew that one of the charms of Movin’ On was the great casting, presenting older, well know actors. So I sat down to watch “No More Sad Songs” on Hulu.com. I became absorbed in the episode and didn’t realize until an hour after it ended that I hadn’t seen Billie Holliday in it. I went back and reviewed the head credits on the episode itself. Sure enough, there is the name, Billie Holliday. But what gives? Wasn’t Aunt Bess a white woman?
Back on IMDb they are still claiming Billie Holiday (as Billie Holliday) is playing Aunt Bess and there’s the photo of the blues singer we all remember. So, I click on the link and am whisked to Billie Holiday’s IMDb page. Wait a minute, blues singer Billie Holiday died in 1959. So who the heck is Billie Holliday? Well, there is no Billie Holliday listed on IMDb at all. I asked Barry if he knew how this error might have occurred. He didn’t, but did add, “We should have been so lucky to get Billie Holiday.”
I’m stumped. My best guess is that the “mystery” Billie Holliday was a local who did no other work in movies or TV so has no other credits. But it also doesn’t feel right that a local actress with only one or two lines of dialogue would have received a head credit. I hope that someone knows Billie Holliday and gets in touch. We’d love to know who she is.
I don’t have any special behind the scenes memories of “No More Sad Songs” other than that we never shot in New Orleans or Pensacola. There may have been some second unit done in New Orleans, but we never shot there with Claude and Frank. The opening shot of the New Orleans harbor was stock footage that we bought and cut in to “establish” the location. I had a vague recollection of shooting in Mobile AL. Bill (Amazen) Bazen confirmed that we did use Mobile to “double” for New Orleans and Pensacola. Bill also states, and I believe him, that we used Daphne, AL as the location for Aunt Bess’ house. Bill further states that in a later episode, “Sing It Again, Sonny” we again used Mobile to double for Nashville.
After viewing the episode… 40-years later, I’m comfortable talking about what just might be my biggest problem with the series as a whole. It has to do with edginess, or lack thereof. Our pilot, In Tandem was edgy. It was raw, it was rough and it was tough. We made In Tandem to appeal to a 10pm audience. Network TV in the seventies was a different beast than today. Nowadays, almost anything goes at any time during prime time. In the seventies, raw, adult themed programs did not air at 8pm or even at 9pm. I created and always saw Movin’ On as a 10pm show but NBC wanted it at 9pm and that is when it ran in season one.
To accommodate the more genteel 9pm audience we had to take out a good deal of the edge and grit. In season two NBC wanted us on at 8pm and all the edge went away. Did someone say Disney Movie?
I was happy to have a show on the air, but I sure wish we could have had the 10pm show that I had imagined. “No More Sad Songs” is an example of the soft, family style content we were forced into by our time slot. You may notice that “No More Sad Songs” is the second story of a precocious, gambling child. In season one we did an episode called “Roadblock” with Mackenzie Phillips. Mackenzie played a similar role to Maggie, the girl in “No More Sad Songs”. Maggie is younger, sweeter, and more innocent than Chessie, Mackenzie Phillips’ character. That’s the difference an hour makes on network television. My preference would have been, if we were doing another child older-than-her-years episode, to do it more like Jodie Foster in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. But I knew it would never fly with the network.