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1st & Ten aired from December 1984 until January 1991 on the HBO Cable Network

The world of professional football was the setting for this half-hour sitcom, which incorporated female toplessness and four-letter words into almost every episode. The cast included Delta Burke ( 1984-1988-) as Diane Barrow, new owner of the California Bulls, who aquired the team in a divorce settlement ( after she caught her husband making love to one of his players, a lineman); Reid Shelton as Coach Ernie Denardo; O.J. Simpson ( 1985-1991) as T.D. Parker, who became the general manager; Jason Beghe as quarterback Tom Yinessa; Prince Hughes as lineman Bubba Kincaid; Cliff Frazier as Jethro Snell, Bubba's best friend; Don Gibb as " Dr. Death" Cruncher; Tony Longo as " Mad Dog" Smears; John Kassir as Bulgarian-born placekicker Zagreb Shkenusky; John Matuszak as John Manzak; and Shannon Tweed ( 1989-1991) as Kristy, who suceeded Diane as the team owner. O.J. Simpson and John Matuszak had , of course , been professional football players; many other pro players, past and present, made guest appearences on the show.

Beginning with the second season, the series bore a new subtitle each year: Training Camp: The Bulls Are Back, The Championship, Going For Broke, The Bulls Mean Business, Do It Again, and In Your Face!

An Article from The New York Times


Published: December 16, 1986

TAKING stock of its more obvious exploitation ploys, Home Box Office seems to have put them all together in a series of half-hours called ''First and 10'' and ''Training Camp.'' Here we have a kind of sitcom expose of football, a subject likely to appeal to male viewers while, at the same time, the locker-room scenes of beefy jocks in various stages of undress attract the female contingents. Sprinkle liberally with ''dirty'' words and smutty jokes, the kind of material that is still - although just barely - banned from commercial television, and the gang in audience marketing can almost be heard smacking their lips over the entire ''give 'em what they want'' exercise.

The show, created by Carl Kleinschmitt and produced for HBO by Kushner-Locke Productions, made its debut in August 1985 as ''First and 10,'' introducing a fictitious team called the California Bulls. The new owner is a gorgeous woman named Diane Barrow, played by Delta Burke (who in the meantime has also become one of the stars on the CBS series ''Designing Women''). In its first season, Miss Barrow brought the team from the cellar to the championship playoffs. This year, she and the team returned in six half-hour episodes called ''Training Camp: The Bulls Are Back.'' The first three, directed by Bruce Seth Green, will be repeated back to back on HBO tonight at 10; the others can be seen next Tuesday at the same time.

Mixing real football players -among them O. J. Simpson - with actors, the show offers a combination of comic strip and good-old-boy beer commercials, spiked with what the more innocent among us might perceive as gritty realism. While most of the humor seems to have been inspired by the movie ''Animal House,'' complete with characters named Dr. Death and Mad Dog, the scripts take periodic swipes at such serious issues as unscrupulous agents, escalating salaries, widespread drug taking and opposition among players to voluntary urine testing. The latter, as might be expected, inspires endless unprintable jokes.

Produced by Jonathan Debin and Gary L. Miller, who is also one of the writers, ''Training Camp'' has some solid assets. Mr. Simpson and Marcus Allen, of the Los Angeles Raiders, manage to be appealing while carefully refusing to be buffoons. Playing Yinessa, a noncollege rookie trying to make quarterback, Jason Beghe is a convincing tough guy, Jeff Kaake is sympathetic as his cocaine-addicted roommate. And Cliff Frazier and Prince Hughes are diverting as a couple of oversized roustabouts called Jethro and Bubba.

On its gritty ledger, ''Training Camp'' offers team owners who, except for the idealistic Ms. Barrow, are vicious, greedy businessmen; a football commissioner who is interested only in protecting the image of his wards; football stars who know they can get away with anything while they're ''hot,'' and agents who will push any deal that will bring them bigger dollars. In the middle of this scheming, we have the players themselves, some of them perhaps unruly or even dangerous, but most of them essentially perpetual adolescents. Beneath the pranks and practical jokes beat the innocent hearts of eternal high-school heroes. They live in a world of pure male-bonding. Women are allowed in as either one-night stands or tolerant mother figures who will put up with their endless shenanigans.

In short, while toying with a few realities, ''Training Camp'' is glorifying the standard man-boy myths imbedded in the selling of football. Does it work? Consider: HBO research has found that ''First and 10'' and ''Training Camp'' have been the most satisfying series ever on the pay-cable service, scoring a TSS (total subscriber satisfaction) score higher than 66 percent of the movies on its schedule. One result is that these ''Training Camp'' episodes will be followed, beginning Dec. 30, by a four-part series called ''First and 10: The Championships.'' The final episode will be unveiled the week before the actual playing of the National Football League's Super Bowl.

HBO has what one of its top executives hails as ''an unqualified hit.'' Golly, maybe if the service keeps trying, it will be able to come up with another ''People's Court'' or ''Life Styles of the Rich and Famous.'' The ''promise'' of cable seems to be taking another kick in the shins.

An Article From The New York Times


Published: August 19, 1987

HOME BOX OFFICE, the pay-cable service, is plunging ahead with its football sitcom called ''First and Ten.'' Timed to coincide with the regular football season, from summer training to winter championship bowls, the saga of the California Bulls got under way in 1985, returned last year for a trek to the championship game in January and now is being continued in ''First and 10: Going for Broke,'' which for the time being can be seen Wednesdays on HBO at 10 P.M. The final fictional episode is being timed to unfold with next January's real-life Super Bowl.

This being the more permissive world of pay cable, the series is able to get behind the scenes with generous slatherings of foul language and sexual high jinks. That, folks, is authenticity, or a reasonable facsimile thereof. Actually, much of the series still adds up to standard sitcom, complete with running gags about big galumphing players having sex problems with their itty bitty, but tough, wives. Nevertheless, produced by Gary H. Miller for Atlantic-Kushner-Locke, the series has an unsettlingly goofy charm as it follows the adventures of grown men indulging in the luxury of remaining perpetual adolescents, drinking and drugging, and going through an endless supply of stunning football groupies.

The Bulls are owned by Diane Barrow who, speaking of stunning, is played by Delta Burke, currently a star of the CBS sitcom ''Designing Women.'' The complicating factor in the latest batch of episodes, the first seven of which are directed by Stan Lathan, is that Ms. Barrow has taken on a silent partner to solve her cash-flow problems. He is Teddy Schrader (Roy Thinnes). He is also Ms. Barrow's paramour and, needless to say, underneath his silky surface, he is a first-class lout, constantly using and manipulating others to carry out his disastrous policy decisions.

Meanwhile, the already established characters skip merrily into further complications. Coach T. D. Parker (O. J. Simpson) is promoted to general manager, becoming the first black person in the league to reach that position. However, the new pressures and duties threaten to destroy his marriage. Tom Yinessa (Jason Beghe), the rookie who last year became the ''Cinderella quarterback,'' is already holding out, at the urging of his greedy agent, for a contract guaranteeing $1 million a year for five years. And the little Bulgarian named Zagreb Shkenusky (John Kassir), who happens to have an extraordinary talent for placekicking, may have to leave the country as an illegal alien unless he finds an American woman to marry him. Ms. Barrow says she may have a willing friend. ''Is she hot mama like you?'' pleads the leering Zagreb.

The casting contributes mightily to whatever realistic edge the series can claim. There is an effective mix of actors and actual football players. Newcomers this season, joining such football figures as Mr. Simpson, Prince Hughes and Cliff Frazier, include John Matuszak, formerly of the Los Angeles Raiders; John Robinson, coach of the Los Angeles Rams, and Brian Bosworth, now with the Seattle Seahawks. Mr. Matuszak turns in a strong performance as an aging player who turns in desperation to steroids to fend off the competitive threat of young rookies.

Beneath its glossy sitcom surface, ''First and 10: Going for Broke'' touches lightly on the distressing spectacle of silly lives dedicated to the good-time goals of easy drugs and easy sex. The specter of AIDS has yet to intrude on their juvenile fantasies. The series is perhaps at its best when dealing with the cutthroat details of management and team politics. There is, beneath the clowning around, a touch of seriousness. Tonight's episode, No. 3, is ''A Loaded Gun,'' in which the scheming Mr. Schrader begins to show his true colors. Will Ms. Barrow be able to get out of this mess? Stay tuned for the next few months.

An Article from The New York Times

Review/Television; Comedies From Sports

Published: October 19, 1988

No doubt about it. Home Box Office is making the most of comedy, encompassing everything from straightforward stand-up routines to elaborate sketches. Tonight, HBO cable-channel subscribers can jump from a pack of troglodytic football players, unabashedly vulgar and uproarious, to five delightfully inventive young men from Toronto who, in the Monty Python tradition, spend a good deal of their comedy time in drag. In between the two shows, incidentally, at 11 P.M., can be found the Robert Townsend film ''Hollywood Shuffle.''

The football squad comes on at 10 P.M., as ''First and 10,'' directed by Stan Lathan, grunts and groans its way through still another season on HBO. Created by Karl Kleinschmidtt, the series made its debut in the fall of 1985, taking the California Bulls from training camp to the end of the season in January. Back then, the team owner was a woman, played by Delta Burke, who left for the CBS series ''Designing Women.''

O. J. Simpson played T. D. Parker, the coach. Mr. Simpson is still around, but now he's the general manager, trying desperately to keep his grossly overgrown adolescents in line and to rebuild a team image that has been tattered by, among other things, a drug scandal.

So far this season, the Bulls, trying to stave off acquistion by a conservative image-conscious corporation, have decided to purchase the team themselves through a leveraged buy out. This leaves the new owners arguing over who gets the best parking spaces and how much to raise the price of hot dogs.

Will Mad Dog, Doc, Bubba, Jethro and the gang be able to discipline themselves long enough to become successful entrepreneurs? Of course not. But they do manage to make a profit out of their goofy antics.

Beneath the raucous veneer, ''First and 10'' provides what is probably one of the most accurate depictions of the football business that you are likely to find on television these days. If you can't laugh, you're likely to weep.

Here is Reid Shelton's Obituary from The New York Times

Reid Shelton, Actor, 72, Dies; Original Broadway Warbucks

Published: June 10, 1997

Reid Shelton, a veteran actor and singer who created the role of Daddy Warbucks in the original Broadway production of ''Annie,'' died on Sunday in Portland, Ore. He was 72 and lived in Waldport, Ore.

Mr. Shelton underwent heart surgery at St. Vincent's Hospital in Portland on May 29 after tests for knee surgery disclosed a heart blockage. It was a bypass operation, his second in 10 years, but he suffered a series of strokes and never fully recovered, a friend, Steve Cuda, said yesterday.

Among his many Broadway and television roles, Mr. Shelton was perhaps best known for his stage portrayal of the softhearted, baldheaded comic-strip billionaire who adopts Little Orphan Annie in the hit musical by Martin Charnin, Charles Strouse and Thomas Meehan. He modeled Warbucks, Mr. Shelton later said, after the producer Roger Stevens, who became a friend and mentor after casting Mr. Shelton in the musical ''1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.'' Mr. Shelton's Warbucks, alternately gruff and gentle, was also likened to an avuncular Otto Preminger.

Blessed with a thick head of hair, he was willingly shorn for the part (once the show hit Broadway) and shaved his pate daily with an electric razor.

Starting in 1976 at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Conn., he went on to play Warbucks for three years on Broadway, where he was nominated for a Tony, and two years on the road, racking up more than 2,300 performances. With his success, life imitated art: after five years of playing the Depression moneybags, he was able to buy not only his four-room Hell's Kitchen apartment but the entire five-story building.

Mr. Shelton was born in Salem, Ore., studied music at Williamette University and the University of Michigan and served in the Pacific during World War II. He got his New York start as a singer at Radio City Music Hall, and appeared in shows like ''Wish You Were Here,'' ''By the Beautiful Sea,'' ''The Saint of Bleecker Street'' and ''Oh What a Lovely War.''

He spent eight years in Broadway and touring companies of ''My Fair Lady,'' for much of the time in the role of Freddy Eynsford-Hill, singing ''On the Street Where You Live.'' In 1966 he appeared in Off Broadway productions of the classical Chinese comedy ''The Butterfly Dream'' and ''Man With a Load of Mischief,'' and in the 70's he was seen in ''The Beggar's Opera'' and, on Broadway, in ''The Rothschilds,'' in which he played four roles. He also performed on Broadway in ''Wonderful Town'' and ''Canterbury Tales.''

In his television career, Mr. Shelton appeared in David Storey's drama ''The Contractor'' and an ABC comedy show, ''Too Good to Be True.'' He also acted in soap operas and sitcoms. His last major television role was as the coach Ernie Donardo in the HBO series ''First and Ten,'' which ran for six seasons.

Mr. Shelton was married in 1960 to an actress, Mari McMinn. The marriage ended in divorce four years later. He is survived by his companion of 24 years, Donovan Baker, and two nieces.

Mr. Charnin, who wrote the lyrics for ''Annie,'' said yesterday that the Actors' Fund benefit performance of the musical's revival on June 17 at the Martin Beck Theater would be dedicated to Mr. Shelton. The benefit will include the current Broadway Warbucks, Conrad John Schuck, who replaced Mr. Shelton in the original Broadway production.

To watch some clips from First and Ten go to

For an episode guide of First and Ten go to

For a Website dedicated to The United States Football League go to

For O.J. Simpson's Hall of Fame Page go to

To watch the opening credits go to
Date: Sat April 9, 2016 � Filesize: 65.9kb, 93.7kbDimensions: 785 x 606 �
Keywords: The Cast of 1st & Ten (Links Updated 7/17/18)


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