Monday, November 9, 2009
Soul Closet Bureau of Missing Persons: "J.T."
The holiday season is almost upon us. And if you were a kid in the early 1970s, this was the time of the year when CBS would air "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," and ABC would show those crazy Rankin & Bass stop-motion animated holiday specials like "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." And for some of us, it meant the yearly viewing of "JT."
Aired by CBS beginning in 1969, "J.T." starred a young Kevin Hooks as J.T Gamble, a Harlem boy who saves an alley cat and nurses it back to health during the Christmas season. Ja'net DuBois--Wilona from "Good Times"--plays his mother. It's a quiet, nuanced film and only an hour long. And there's a sad spot in it--which was pro forma kids films back then--but has a happy ending.
Hooks, the son of actor Robert Hooks, was 11 years old when he made "J.T." He became a director in the early 1980s and enjoyed success sitting in the boss' chair on a number of films and tv shows including "ER," "24" "Prison Break" and "Monk."
"J.T." was directed by Robert M. Young, who later went on to direct eps of the newer "Battlestar Galactica" series. The film was written by Jane Wagner, who is comedian Lily Tomlin's long-time partner. Talk in 1973 of turning "J.T" into a tv series faded.
I hadn't seen the film since 1973 or so until I found the above clip on youtube. The two clips here represent about a 1/3rd of the film. So Happy Holidays.
I remember when CBS played this...
...something cool was about to come on.