A film about the Smothers Brothers, the music comedy act whose variety show on CBS became one of the first programs to bring the 1960s counterculture revolution into Americans’ living rooms, is currently in development. The film will be based on David Bianculli’s critically acclaimed book on the pair and their television show Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story Of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.
George Clooney and his producing partner Grant Heslov have optioned the book and have hired Brian Hecker and Craig Sherman to turn it into a screenplay. As of now, Clooney has no plans to either direct or act in the film, but that could very well change with the muli-hyphenate.
For those not that versed on comedy history, the Smothers Brothers show often featured acts that were part of the emerging counterculture movement including Donovan and Joan Baez, while the Brothers own routines often made jokes about then hot button political topics. It got to the point where folk singer Pete Seeger’s performance of the anti-Vietnam War song “Knee Deep In The Big Muddy” was pulled from an episode right before broadcast rather than cause a huge controversy.
It was also the place where comics such as Pat Paulsen, Don Novello, Rob Reiner, Albert Brooks and Steve Martin got their start on the writing staff.
Ultimately, the show was cancelled after three seasons, with rumors that network CBS brought the ax down under pressure from the Nixon administration. But the show’s importance and impact can still be felt four decades later in shows such as The Daily Show and Saturday Night Live.