Tony’s been present for this in an Orwellian sense: The color monitor over the sofa transmits him from his rehearsal outside. Dick exits discreetly when he returns. “Did you ever see a guy who looks less like a manager? Tom, he was the only one who stuck with us when we were nowhere, who really cared about us, who I could trust; he’ll always be with us, getting a commission whether we’re up or down. We were playing the Westbury Music Fair on Long Island two summers ago, it was Dick who called to say Fred Silverman was going to catch us. I didn’t even know Fred Silverman, like, ran CBS! Fred came backstage after the show and gave us the summer spot right there. I went nuts, cried, ran into the girls’ dressing rooms, picked both of ’em up and swung ’em around, they didn’t believe it till the day we walked in the Artists’ Entrance outside. Then they had to believe fast — we’d never even read a cue card — and we had two weeks to tape four shows, you’ve seen what it’s like out there to tape one a week, even after you know something about TV, and we hadn’t a clue.
“And the producers and writers, they didn’t know what a Tony Orlando and Dawn was. I was very naive, I described right away what we should do — like the girls’ two characters, Lou Effie and Moreen, they’d come from that hotel-room kidding; I talked about doing what I called a ‘Walter Mitty’ spot — like singing the blues in the Afro wig — and the concert spot at the end, where I go out into the audience, like I’d always done in live performance. Naive, because TV, I found out, never trusts one individual’s concept of a show, especially a novice’s — except mine! They actually let me go with this! Even the concert spot: They let me go, that first taping, one hour with the audience, knowing it’d have to be edited down to two minutes, knowing what it would cost in extra tape and union overtime. TV is not a place you experiment and they let me! You gotta believe, I have very few bad things to say about CBS ……”
As he talks, the dresser’s gotten him into a vaguely Regency tux: He must supervise, prerecord and make the Golden Globe Awards by 8:05. Outside, there’s a limo for him and, at the Artists’ Entrance, the usual loitering TV fans, clutching Farmers Market trophies, which they sometimes use as weapons to gain closest proximity to entering or exiting stars. Other big CBS names find secret exits from the building or use entourages for a flying-wedge offense. When tonight’s crowd shouts “Tony, Tony!” he embraces them, not quite literally, but his affection for them, like his energy, is unprogrammed. As soon as he’s in the limousine, the driver accelerates. “Wait, please,” he says. They have rushed the car, and one girl is kissing the glass next to his head. This is when stars, inaudible behind glass, snarl through steel-trap public smiles, Look at them, Jesus Christ, let’s split. Tony lowers the window and kisses the girl. A cheer goes up.
“What’s this mean?” On the way to the recording studio he studies the Golden Globe’s special instructions to presenters. ” ‘Pause,’ this says, ‘so the ladies can be photographed.’ Pause where, when? I’m supposed to present the best TV actress in a series, I think. ‘And a special pause to give Valerie Harper equal time.’ That means she’s already won, I thought this stuff was supposed to be secret. Equal time for what? God, it’s like high school commencement.” He’s jittery, though he tries hard not to carry his nerves into the studio, where his show’s orchestra already waits. “I wonder,” he says, sotto voce, hurrying in, “do people know that TV shows prerecord all the musical numbers and then lip-sync on camera, to save the expense of an orchestra rehearsing and performing with you? I don’t like it but it’s one rule I can’t break. I guess people know. I wonder, though, if they think we’re ripping them off?”
Clearly, the question nags him as he smiles, pleasantly supervising the orchestra through their background track for “Abraham, Martin and John.” In the control booth, Dick Broder whispers, “I don’t think there’s another prime-time TV entertainer who ever bothers with what the orchestra does in prerecord, the musical director always does it, then the star comes in and just lays his vocal on top.”
Through the booth’s window, the musicians seem sealed in a dim pastel aquarium, Tony a caricature in his tux, the tasteful tuna of the Star-Kist commercial. “Fellas, that next-to-last phrase is a retard, and could the guitar please give me the plunk-plunk until the last fourth, then the electric guitar, would that feel comfortable? I’m not getting a modulation there but I’m the one missing it, not you guys.” An hour of this and he announces, “The girls’ll be over by the time I get back, fellas, we should have the voice track by midnight,” and we’re back in the limousine.