The late entertainer and talk-show host Merv Griffin, the former owner of Resorts International casino, asked TV and radio host David Spatz a question in the early 1990s Spatz never forgot.
Griffin wanted to know why Atlantic City did not have its own local entertainment show like those that aired in Las Vegas.
Spatz did not know the answer, but he and his co-producer Jake Glassey Jr. went about solving the problem. Twenty years ago, "The David Spatz Show" aired for the first time on the Cable Television Network of New Jersey.
That show is now called "Curtain Call." It kicks off a celebration of its 20th anniversary year with a special commemorative episode 7 tonight on WMGM-TV 40.
"It's the little show that could. ... What our show is about is conversation," Glassey said. "The idea that Spatz and I had from day one was almost like putting a backstage pass around somebody's neck and saying, 'C'mon with us. You're going to go hang with us as we talk to this person.'"
The two people who have always been with the show have been Spatz and Glassey.
At one time, the show aired on 85 stations nationwide, but it was not seen in Atlantic City from 1995 to 2003. This included a period when the show was on hiatus from 1999 to 2003 during one of the slow entertainment periods in Atlantic City, which was reignited by the opening of the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in 2003.
"On the pilot (of the relaunched show), we had Jay Leno, who had just finished testifying at the Michael Jackson trial, and we had Danny Aiello, who at the time was a hot actor, who had just introduced his first singing album, and we had Larry the Cable Guy, who was just starting to get really hot," said Spatz, a former Press of Atlantic City writer and columnist.
The relaunched show was picked up by stations as far away as Spokane, Wash. But it wasn't until 2005 that it returned to television sets in the Atlantic City area when WMGM TV-40 picked it up. It now airs exclusively on WMGM.
It won a Mid-Atlantic Emmy Award in 2007 for "Outstanding Interview Discussion Series."
Spatz has a two-hour radio show that airs 3 to 5 p.m. Sundays on WOND-AM 1400.
Today, Glassey who will appear on camera for the first time and Spatz will reminisce about how the show came into being 20 years ago. They will have some clips from some of the older shows. Starting Oct. 5, "Curtain Call" will start airing some of these older shows in their entirety, including interviews with Griffin, Ann-Margret and an episode with Tony Bennett from 1995.
Contact Vincent Jackson:
'Curtain Call' anniversary special airs
7 p.m. tonight on WMGM-TV 40