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Old 09-17-2006, 05:00 PM   #1
Adamantium
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Default The History of "Ellen"...

from a fan. Keep in mind, I don't know that much more than anyone here, and I don't know any behind the scenes stories. This is just the facts that I do know, presented in a nice story.

The History of "Ellen"
In the early nineties, Seinfeld was a very popular show for NBC. ABC decided to have a gender-reversed Seinfeld and star stand-up comic Ellen DeGeneres. Maggie Wheeler, Holly Fulger and Arye Gross were cast as Ellen’s friends. The series was titled These Friends of Mine. Thirteen episodes were ordered for the 1994 midseason run.

Ellen DeGeneres played Ellen Morgan, an insecure, thirty something employee at a little bookstore, Buy the Book. Her roommate (since college) was Adam Green; Anita was Ellen’s sex-crazed neighbor, in the apartment building; and Holly was Ellen’s friend since high school. Together, the four friends spent most of their time together, usually hanging out in Ellen and Adam’s apartment.

After seven episodes were produced (although none yet aired), Maggie Wheeler (Anita) left the series. The following season, she would gain fame playing the recurring character, Janice on Friends. In fact, the eighth episode brought upon some changes to These Friends of Mine. Buy the Book, where Ellen was a manager was now a regular setting (second only to Ellen’s apartment). David Anthony Higgins became a regular in the role of ‘Coffee Joe’ Farrell. A sarcastic man whose passion was to make and serve coffee.

Once all thirteen episodes were shot, they began to air, starting with Wednesday March 30, 1994. However, ABC chose to air the episodes out of order. They even held back two episodes, “The Mugging” and “The Tape.” So only eleven episodes actually aired. The show proved successful (although not nearly as popular as it’s inspiration, Seinfeld). ABC renewed the series for a second season.

Changes were set for the second season of These Friends of Mine. First thing was renaming the show. It was changed to Ellen. Holly Fulger was out, with no explanation. ‘Coffee Joe’ was now a cast member. Ellen cut her hair short and Adam shaved his beard. Joely Fisher was added to the cast as Ellen’s best friend since camp. Paige Clark (Fisher) was much like Anita. She loved to date around and always offered advice to Ellen. Ellen became the owner of Buy the Book so the recurring boss from season one was no longer on the show. Adam became a struggling photographer and Paige was a movie producer’s assistant.

The changes seemed to be a good move. Ellen was thirteenth in the ratings. Twenty-four episodes were produced in the second season. Half-way through the season, Clea Lewis became a recurring character. She played the annoying Audrey Penney. Audrey believed she was Ellen’s best friend and had a crush on Adam. She proved to be a positive move for the show and was added to the cast full time for the upcoming - third - season. However, Arye Gross's days on the show were numbered. He was being let go from the show. But instead of Adam disappearing without explanation like Holly and Anita from season one, he would stay on for a few more episodes and have a farewell episode.

In the fall of 1995, season three of Ellen debuted on ABC. Jeremy Piven joined the cast as Spence Kovac, Ellen's cousin and new roommate, who was kicked out of his residency as a doctor for punching a patient. The character of Adam appeared, usually in one scene per show for the first four episodes, before getting his big send-off. Adam got a photography job in London. Also, an earthquake forced Ellen to remodel Buy the Book and somehow hire Audrey, which annoyed everyone, especially Joe. While many fans consider the third to be the best season of Ellen, the ratings were not as high as the second season. That's not to say they weren't good. Ellen was still a hit for ABC. So much so, that Ellen decided it might be time to make a personal revelation to the world.

The fourth season began in the fall of 1996. There had been no changes to the cast. However, Ellen started leaving clues to her sexuality. America was pretty sure that Ellen DeGeneres was indeed a lesbian. But it wasn't until the April 30th episode, titled "The Puppy Episode" that both Ellen Morgan and Ellen DeGeneres came out of the closet. This hour-long episode brought in some of the highest ratings ever for the show. Everything looked great for Ellen.

One thing Ellen didn't like were the warnings put before each episode. However, ABC was taking a big chance in airing this show. It had become groundbreaking. When season five debuted in the fall of 1997, things were different. The high ratings were gone. Changes in the show included Ellen moving from her apartment to a house, Ellen leaving Buy the Book, Joe leaving Buy the Book and opening up 'Hot Cup of Joe." Audrey, Spence, Joe and Paige went from being in every episode to now being occasional players in the show.

The big change in season five was the addition of guest star Lisa Darr playing Laurie Manning, Ellen's girlfriend. The fifth season got low ratings and after an hour-long, fake Hollywood tribute, the show was cancelled. Ellen was devastated and even blamed ABC for the cancellation, not the low ratings.

In the fall of 1998, Ellen came to reruns on Lifetime. The show has been on and off in reruns since then. Currently it runs on Oxygen. Seasons one thru three are out on DVD and four and five are coming by the end of this year.

Last edited by Adamantium; 09-17-2006 at 05:43 PM.
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Old 09-17-2006, 05:23 PM   #2
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I didn't watch Ellen, though I found your post informative and interesting.

It was my understanding, however, that the reason Ellen's ratings nosedived was because many or most of the episodes had a gay theme to them. Supposedly, viewers felt the gay/lesbian thing was being forced on them as opposed to it being a show that just happened to have a lesbian character.

Like I said, I didn't watch it, so I can't authoritatively comment on it, but it's interesting that in the TV season following Ellen's demise, Will & Grace debuted...and lasted for eight years.
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Old 09-17-2006, 05:42 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Thong
It was my understanding, however, that the reason Ellen's ratings nosedived was because many or most of the episodes had a gay theme to them. Supposedly, viewers felt the gay/lesbian thing was being forced on them as opposed to it being a show that just happened to have a lesbian character.

Like I said, I didn't watch it, so I can't authoritatively comment on it, but it's interesting that the in the TV season following Ellen's demise, Will & Grace debuted...and lasted for eight years.
I think that's exactly why it was cancelled. Or it could have been that the character was one way for the first 83 episodes and then all of a sudden she's gay. I still liked the show in it's last season, but it certainly wasn't "Ellen" at it's best.
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