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The Orson Welles Show was an unsold television talk show pilot. It has never been broadcast or released in its entirety. Filming began in September 1978 and the project was completed around February 1979. It ran 74 minutes and was intended for a 90 minute commercial time slot.

Directed by Welles, he was listed in the credits under the pseudonym "G. O. Spelvin." Cinematography was by Welles' long-time cameraman Gary Graver. Editing (and uncredited direction of some scenes) was by Stanley Sheff. Shot partly before a live audience, Welles interviewed Burt Reynolds (taking several questions from the audience,) Jim Henson and Frank Oz. He also performed two magic tricks assisted by Angie Dickinson, including sawing her in half in his Buzz Saw illusion. Several of The Muppets were featured in taped segments, including Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo the Great and Animal. Audience questions for the Burt Reynolds Q&A session were scripted, with members of the audience given line readings - this was necessary, as unlike normal talk shows filmed with a multiple-camera setup, the low-budget show was filmed with only one camera, and so it was necessary to do multiple retakes to get multiple camera angles.[1]

Welles admitted with hindsight, "It was frankly an attempt to enter the commercial field and earn my living as a talk show host. It was just a flop, that's all, nobody wanted it."[2]

Several clips from the pilot are included in the 1995 documentary Orson Welles: One Man Band (which was included with the DVD release of Welles' documentary F for Fake). The clips feature part of Welles' interview with the Muppets, and show the format was "in the round" with the audience surrounding the panel. One of the clips ends with Welles poking fun at the necessity of having to break for commercials.


  1. Joseph McBride, Whatever Happened to Orson Welles? (Kentucky University Press, 2006) p.256
  2. Joseph McBride, Whatever Happened to Orson Welles? (Kentucky University Press, 2006) p.257

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