When A.A.P. became U.A.A.

aap_logos

We all know A.A.P (Associated Artists Productions). For a company that really only existed for two years, it left behind quite a legacy. The company’s name has long been associated with the pre-1948 Warner Bros. cartoons and the Fleischer/Famous Popeye cartoons – which it purchased in 1956 and 1957 respectively. The company was more than simply a cartoon distributor, it bought the entire Warner Bros. pre-1948 library of features and shorts – but it was the cartoon package that earned the company a huge return on its investment. The cartoons drove the company to expand into the 8mm home movie market (below) and even children’s records.

aap_8mm

In 1958, A.A.P. sold its library to United Artists – and UA changed the comapny name to U.A.A. (United Artists Associated). Despite the name change, UA left the AAP titles on its syndication prints of cartoons for decades to come. However, that wasn’t the only animation U.A.A. handled. They made a deal to distribute Bob Clampett’s Beany & Cecil cartoons (frame grab below) internationally. I cannot confirm, but I believe UA distributed a few Beany & Cecil shorts theatrically in Canada and elsewhere.

united_artists_assoc

With Looney Tunes and Popeye leading UAA efforts in TV syndication, the company came up with a clever idea. They were now sitting on hundreds of Warner Bros. live action short subjects from the 1930s. So they decided to try convincing local TV stations to pick up a “third” group of films aimed at the kiddies – by packaging the Warner Bros. live shorts in a cartoon wrapping. The result: The Big Mac Show. Here is the brochure that went out to the TV stations:

uaa_1

uaa_2

uaa_3

uaa_4

Has anyone ever seen The Big Mac Show? Did it ever play in any market? I don’t recall it being telecast in New York. I’d love to find some of the wrap-around footage. The best I can do is show you this 16mm “sales reel” (embed below) which I fished this out of the trash when I worked for United Artists years ago… It proves that they made some animated test footage. Big Mac looks absolutely awful, but I give UAA points for creating a clever way to package those old two-reel comedies and vaudeville films.

About these ads

13 responses to “When A.A.P. became U.A.A.

  1. I don’t remember the live-action WB shorts being on any of the New York stations, including Ch. 13 before it went non-commercial. That may be because the AAP cartoon package was split between WNEW, with the pre-48 Warners shorts, and WPIX, which had the Popeyes. Ch. 11 also had the live-action Warners pre-48 movies, but when it came to shorts, WPIX favored the Hal Roach Laurel & Hardy and Little Rascals shorts and the Columbia Three Stooges package to mix with their live-action hosts, while Ch. 5’s live shows with Allen Swift, Sonny Fox and Sandy Becker (and later, with McCann and Soupy Sales) had more in-studo bits, which left no room for 16-18 minute two-reelers. What shorts WNEW did show were the RKO Edgar Kennedys and Leon Errols in the wee hours of the morning, after “Movie Greats” was over.

    AAP’s history kind of followed in the footsteps of UM&M, which sold out to NTA right after getting the non-Popeye/non-Superman Paramount pre-1950 shorts (though I assume AAP owner Eliot Hyman got a way bigger payout from UA, since he eventually parlayed that into owning Warner Bros. eight years later).

  2. The Big Mac Show did run in Hartford, Connecticut on WHCT, Channel 18. It ran on weekday afternoons around 1960-1961. The cartoon packages of Popeye and Warners toons were already on WNHC, so they were left with the shorts package.

  3. I never heard of this prior to today. I don’t recall the package running in Boston, MA or Providence, R.I. although it could have.

    This is a fascinating look at studio usage of older film as well as packages for local television. Thank you.

  4. I don’t remember it running in Indianapolis. I have a collection of early Howdy Doody shows where they’re still showing the ‘Old Time Movies’. They just seem to drag. I can’t see children finding old silent films to be entertaining when they had the 3 Stooges and the Little Rascals in sound.

    • Just to clarify, the Warner Brothers shorts package is primarily sound era shorts with dialogue. There are a few in there of 1930’s and 1940’s reissues of Mack Sennett shorts with soundtracks added. Looks like the sales film did rely very much on that footage.

  5. In the 60’s we had some AAP Looney Tunes in 8mm, and one live-action short titled “Curses,” which seemed to be a two-reel western parody edited down. Can’t recall seeing any Warner shorts on TV until TCM. The only shorts that seemed to get air time were Three Stooges, Laurel & Hardy, Little Rascals, Charlie Chaplin and the occasional serial. Animated cartoons were the only kind of theatrical short to really take root in television.

    I’d be very curious to see how this show worked. A large percent of shorts simply wouldn’t make sense to 50s kids, or would bore them, or would rouse nervous 50s censors. Heck, there’s even one where affable Edgar Bergen is having an affair with his boss’s wife and Charlie McCarthy is using that to land a job.

  6. From BROADCASTING magazine, February 1, 1960:

    United Artists Assoc.
    Inc., N.Y., reports sales of its Big Mac
    cartoon show to the following stations:
    WHDH-TV Boston: WAST (TV)
    Albany, N.Y.; WBEN-TV Buffalo.
    N.Y.: KMJ-TV Fresno. Calif.; WJACHere
    TV Johnstown. Pa.; WWLP-TV Springfield,
    Mass.; WHCT (TV) Hartford,
    Conn.; KOSA-TV Odessa, Tex.; KRCGTV
    Jefferson City, Mo.; KTVR (TV)
    Denver: KCSJ-TV Pueblo, Colo., and
    WLUK-TV Marinette, WEAU-TV Eau
    Claire and WMTV(TV) Madison, all
    Wis. Purchase of hour-long Big Mac
    show carries a guarantee that the National
    Biscuit Co. will sponsor one-half
    hour weekly for 26 weeks. (2/1/60)

  7. From BROADCASTING, August 1, 1960:

    “The Big Mac Show” (UAA)
    Sold to Smith Bros.; Lestoil; Pepsi Cola, and Dr. Pepper for various markets. Stations which bought show are WAST (TV) Albany; WHDH-TV Boston; WBEN-TV Buffalo; WEAU-TV Eau Claire, Wis.; KXGO-TV Fargo, N.D.; KMJ-TV Fresno; WLUK-TV Green Bay, Wis.; KONA (TV) Honolulu; KRCG (TV) Jefferson City, Mo.; WJAC-TV Johnstown, Pa.; KLFY-TV Lafayette, La.; KSHO-TV Las Vegas; WMTV (TV) Madison, Wis.; WVEC-TV Norfolk, Va.; KOSA-TV Odessa, Tex.; KCSJ-TV Pueblo, Colo.; KTNT-TV Seattle-Tacoma; WWLP (TV) Springfield, Mass.; KXJB-TV Valley City, N.D.; WITV (TV) Washington, N.C.; and WTRF-TV Wheeling, W. Va.

  8. Another great post, Jerry.

    Interesting how the U.A.A. logo is in the exact same typeface as the A.A.P. logo, complete with the dual contrasting coloring (which the A.A.P. logo has, for example, in the A.A.P. title cards used on the black and white Popeye cartoons).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s