When the 1978-9 season began, ABC had Donny & Marie, in its 4th & final season, leading off its Friday lineup. Somewhere along the way, ratings began to slide, and the series was moved to Sunday nights in January '79. So how does ABC fill the void? They commissioned Garry Marshall to come up with another sitcom.
Marshall and his crack staff had spun Mork & Mindy off from the former's 1-shot appearance on Happy Days, so executive producers Thomas Miller & Edward Milkis were starting to move out of the familiar confines of Milwaukee. With Mork set in Boulder, Colorado, the producers began to look to the northeast.
Makin' It was a cheesy knockoff of "Saturday Night Fever", set in New Jersey. It was also a star vehicle for actor-singer David Naughton, who sang the title song, and saw it enter the Billboard chart after the show was cancelled! "Makin' It" peaked at #5. Between Makin' It & Angie, Miller, Milkis, Marshall, and co. were hoping to find a new gold mine of comedy in the tri-state (New York/New Jersey/Pennsylvania) area. But with both shows built around Italian families, viewers may have found them to be too similar. Angie, as we discussed previously, managed to earn a 2nd season. Makin' It was lucky to last two months.
Music producer Robert Stigwood, the man who helped put the Bee Gees back atop the charts, lent his aid as his production company co-produced the show. Marshall surrounded Naughton with an experienced supporting cast, including Greg Antonacci (ex-Busting Loose), Denise Miller (ex-Fish), Lou Antonio (ex-Dog & Cat), and Ellen Travolta.
Here's the intro:
Denise Miller would later join the cast of Archie Bunker's Place. Ellen Travolta would return in another Garry Marshall entry, Joanie Loves Chachi, and later in Charles in Charge. I think it was around this time that Naughton also landed his famous endorsement deal with Dr. Pepper, and later starred in "An American Werewolf in London" before returning to television in Aaron Spelling's ill-fated service comedy, At Ease.
When I moved into my current pad, there used to be a youth disco next door. It's now a bartending school. Disco was, in fact, dying out by the winter of '79.