“If it’s not love, then it’s the bomb that will bring us together.”
-The Smiths, “Ask”
There’s no good time for the threat of nuclear annihilation, but Passover has to be about the worst. Last Thursday brought word from Lausanne, Switzerland that a framework deal has been reached with Iran regarding their nuclear program. The deal will direct the talks that establish a Final Agreement. The idea is that this will happen by June 30. Along predictable lines politicians are enthralled or infuriated. The framework means everything to them. It is enough to get excited over.
Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu insists that the final agreement contain a “clear and unambiguous Iranian recognition of Israel’s right to exist.” He added, “The survival of Israel is non-negotiable.” That sounds reasonable enough. But, Netanyahu says that earlier in the week Iran warned that the destruction of Israel was non-negotiable. That would make anybody jumpy, and it’s not the kind of thing that bodes well for an agreement— of any kind.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani says there’s nothing to worry about and that Iran is ready to play ball. As long as everybody sticks to their end of the bargain, he says Iran is committed to getting along.
The diplomats involved in the summit were all still flinching and sweating profusely when Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad (Javed?) Zarif went on a wild tear boasting that Iran wiped the floor with everybody in Lausanne, and that they get to keep right on enriching uranium. His latter point is technically true. We’ll have to wait and see about the former claim. Either way, it’s the kind of hyperbolic (hopefully) bluster that Zarif needs to get Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on board with this Framework Deal.
The main points involve, along with keeping the nuclear infrastructure, the lifting of economic sanctions by the United States and Europe. There’s a bunch of other stuff in there too and every point contains a dense tangle of stipulations and qualifications. Its language conveys the nightmare of creating it.
John Kerry looked whipped. He was barely coherent, but the babble had a proud sound. Then, he slapped his tag-team partner’s hand and the President charged into the Rose Garden with steel-cage death-match intensity. He knows what’s coming and that it’s personal.
2016 draws nigh and time is tight for Obama to make a meaningful foreign policy statement, or any kind of foreign policy statement. “This framework would cut off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon.” he said, forcefully slicing the air with side of his hand.
“Such a deal would not block Iran’s path to the bomb. It would pave it,” screamed Netanyahu when somebody finally called him and gave him the news.
The GOP cannot wait to eviscerate this deal however they can manage to do it. “If Congress kills this deal,” the President said, “International unity will collapse.” Talking to this Congress about unity is like talking to a dog about baseball. Or talking to me about baseball for that matter. It amounts to static.
Senator Bob Corker introduced a bill that would make any nuclear deal subject to a 60-day congressional review. The President has already made it clear that he will veto the bill should it pass. Other productive ideas include new sanctions on Iran. New ones. To replace the ones that just got thrown out.
In 1969, at the end of the fifth season of Bewitched, Dick York, who played Darrin Stephens, quit the show. He was seamlessly, almost magically, replaced by Dick Sargent. ABC didn’t announce the switch and for years nobody knew why it happened. The difference between York and Sargent was negligible. The switch only seemed to matter to them and they were both happy. “I don’t know why York quit the show,” said Sargent, “I just thank God that he did.” Turns out York was ill and dealing with a back injury.
The character of Gladys Kravitz, the Stephens’ annoying neighbor, was also played by two different actors. Alice Pearce played the part originally from 1964 until 1966 when she died. Sandra Gould took up the role from 1966 until 1971. Bewitched ran one more year until the premise was exhausted.
The Kravitz’ house on the show is also the Partridge Family house. The Partridge Family ran on ABC from 1970 to 1974. A Venn diagram would show a point when the first years of The Partridge Family and the last years of Bewitched intersected. That area of the diagram is represented visually by the house appearing on both shows as both residences.
The exterior scenes of Bewitched and The Partridge Family were filmed on the Columbia Ranch in Burbank. The Ranch is a 40-acre sprawl of sound stages and exterior sets that date back to 1934. One of those exterior sets is Blondie Street- a block of suburban, middle-class houses. It is so named because it was created to accommodate a serial Columbia was making based on the Blondie comic strip. Blondie Street appears in a numerous other Screen Gems and Columbia sitcoms of the 1960s, including The Donna Reed Show, I Dream of Jeannie, and The Monkees. It’s where the Kravitz/Partridge house is located. It was also the home of Mrs. Elkins on Dennis the Menace.
The original structure was built in 1953 according to plans from the Sears Roebuck catalog. Allegedly, it first appears on film in a 1955 episode of Father Knows Best. The house burned down in the summer of 1970 but was rebuilt, with minor cosmetic alterations to the front, to the original specifications. Just as The Partridge Family was beginning its run, everything was new: the characters, their situation, the cast, and the set that served as their home. There was every reason to feel optimistic.
By 1972, Columbia and Warner Communications were both struggling and they merged. The merger begat The Burbank Studios, a larger facility comprised of property from both studios. The Ranch was sidelined by the deal as more productions started using the backlots at Warner Bros.
Blondie Street and The Partridge Family house are still there. Like all the houses on Blondie Street it’s an empty frame. There’s nothing inside but two-by-fours, plywood and dust. The interior scenes of sitcoms like The Partridge Family are shot on sound stages somewhere else. Editing is one of the ways by which television creates a unified space. It’s an art and sometimes appreciating it depends on your willingness to accept terms that don’t make sense when you really look.