When the Americans finally ‘got’ Hey Hey
American execs were late to the party in understanding the moving feast that was Hey Hey, but it led to big broadcast events.
While it was a TV institution on Australian TV, by the 1990s American entertainment execs began to grasp the success of Hey Hey it’s Saturday.
The Nine show was invited stateside for several high-profile broadcasts at Warner Bros. Studios and Disney World.
“In 1996 we were invited by the Disney Company, who did a survey of Southeast Asia to find out what show they would link up with to celebrate their 25th anniversary of Disney World in Florida,” Daryl Somers tells TV Tonight.
“They approached us and said ‘Would you come over to Disney World and and help us do a big celebration because we think your show reflects the family values that we want to espouse?’
“But they wanted scripts. And I said ‘That’s a little difficult with our show,’ but I went over and went on every ride you’ve ever known and and came up with some sketch stuff that we could do.
“We went to the Epcot Center and we had Shania Twain. We did two shows over there, and that was a first for an Australian show to be invited.”
Hey Hey also opened Movie World in 1991 when Rob Daly, chairman of Time Warner and president Terry Semel flew to the Gold Coast with Clint Eastwood, Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn.
“Goldie didn’t want to do any television, which is fair enough, but Kurt Russell and Clint came on the show to celebrate the opening of Movie World,” Somers recalls.
“I found myself gambling at Jupiter’s with Bob Daly at the International room, and he was playing with $100 chips.
“And he said, ‘Daryl, how many episodes do you do? Maybe five shows a year?’ And I said, ‘No we do 42 shows, two hours long or more.’ He couldn’t believe it and he called the head of Time Warner television to get us over to Burbank.
“The only one who (understood) what we did was Mel Gibson!”
Hey Hey it’s 50 Years airs 7pm tonight on Seven.