Fernwood 2 Night

Fernwood 2 Night (or Fernwood Tonight) is a comedic television program that ran weeknights from July 1977 to September 1977. It was created by Norman Lear and produced by Alan Thicke as a spin-off/summer replacement from Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. It was a parody talk show, hosted by Barth Gimble (Martin Mull) and sidekick/announcer Jerry Hubbard (Fred Willard), complete with a stage band, Happy Kyne and the Mirthmakers (featuring Frank De Vol as the dour "Happy" Kyne, and Tommy Tedesco as one of the guitarists). Barth was purportedly the twin brother of Garth Gimble from Mary Hartman.

Fernwood 2 Night
Created byNorman Lear
StarringMartin Mull
Fred Willard
Frank De Vol
Tommy Tedesco
Country of originUSA
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes65
Running timeapprox. 0:30 (per episode)
Production company(s)T.A.T. Communications Company
DistributorT.A.T. Communications Company
Sony Pictures Television (2002-present)
Original networkfirst-run syndication
Original releaseJuly 4 
September 30, 1977

Like Mary Hartman, Fernwood 2 Night was set in the fictional town of Fernwood, Ohio. The show satirized real talk shows as well as the sort of fare one might expect from locally produced, small-town, midwestern American television programming. Well-known actors usually appeared playing characters or a contrivance had to be written for the celebrity to appear as themselves. (In one episode, Tom Waits's tour bus happened to break down in Fernwood.[1][2])

After one season of Fernwood, the producers revamped the show the following year as America 2-Night. In this second version, Barth and Jerry's show moved to Southern California (actually, they claimed to be broadcasting from "Alta Coma, the unfinished furniture capital of the world!") and was broadcast nationally on the fictional UBS network (presumably a reference to the film Network), whose slogan was "We put U before the BS". The change to a Southern California setting made it more plausible for real-life celebrities to appear on the program as themselves.

In 2001, Mull and Willard reprised their roles in a stage appearance and retrospective at the US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colorado. The pair also worked together in other projects, appearing together in the final seasons of Roseanne as a gay couple.

Reruns aired on Nick at Nite from 1990 to 1993 and TV Land in 2002 as part of their "TV Land Kitschen" block, also hosted by Mull and Willard.

Recurring characters

  • Mayor Merle Jeeter (Dabney Coleman)
  • William W.D. 'Bud' Prize (Kenneth Mars), Fernwood's "Ambassador at Large" from the Chamber of Commerce and the Mayor's supposed energy expert. His appearances were sometimes derailed by questions about the elaborate "chindodontic" headgear he wore, designed to correct his underbite.
  • Tony Rolletti (Bill Kirchenbauer), an enthusiastic, if only marginally talented, lounge singer. Notable for his particularly unstable toupee.
  • Virgil Simms (Jim Varney), the local mechanic who offered automotive advice.
  • Garth Gimble Sr. (Robert Williams), Barth's father, who was also the cheerfully incompetent studio security guard. Almost always seen with his lethargic dog Louie.
  • Lou Moffat (Lou Felder), a "consumer affairs expert" who always ended up plugging products distributed by Gimbleco Enterprises.
  • Susan Cloud (Susan Eliott), the spaced out owner of the Butterfly Deli, a local health food restaurant.
  • Debbie Dunbar (Kathy McCullen), Fernwood's "Spanking Girl".
  • Lillian Dunbar (Bobbie Tremain), her outraged Mother.
  • Dr. Richard Osgood/Van Moot (Craig Richard Nelson) Physician and research scientist who discovered that leisure suits cause cancer.

See also


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