Editor's note: The four day weekend is upon us, so we here at the Prospectus thought we'd leave you with a Hall Of Fame highlighting the occasional joys and frequent horrors of Thanksgiving Day. Why are Thanksgiving disasters so much more satisfying to recall than Thanksgiving successes? Perhaps there's some comfort to be found in holiday schadenfreude, real or fictional, because we can all sympathize on some level. Unless of course, you're Uncle Phil.
Younger readers — or readers of my Friday Morning QB columns — may not realize it, but there was a time when Thursdays on NBC were the premier night in all of television. From The Cosby Show and Cheers to Friends and Seinfeld, "Must See TV" was the rare promotional slogan that also managed to be factually accurate: There was no better collection of programs anywhere on the network dial. As entertainment president of NBC from 1991 to 1998 (and before that, the executive in charge of comedy), Warren Littlefield had a front-row seat for all of the drama behind the scenes of the most beloved sitcoms of all time. (He also had the privilege of being affectionately mocked on his biggest hit when Seinfeld cast Bob Balaban as the weak-stomached, Elaine-loving exec Russell Dalrymple.)
In 2012, Littlefield wrote an immensely entertaining oral history/memoir about his experiences called Top of the Rock, and it was that book that brought him to the Grantland studio last month. It was a real pleasure having the chance to talk with a guy who was in the room when the Charles Brothers pitched Cheers and has gone golfing with Larry David and survived the experience. This is a must-listen for those who remember how high the Peacock once flew — as well as for those curious for how it might just get itself airborne again. I should warn you, though: With so many classics to cover, there simply wasn't enough time to discuss Veronica's Closet.
Bill Simmons: I've always had a vague memory of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar appearing in an Atari commercial in the late-1970s — a mental image of him sadly slumped on a seat as a little kid played Atari next to him, only he was dressed in his Lakers uniform and goggles and the whole thing was stupefyingly weird. If not for YouTube, I would have just assumed that I imagined the whole thing. But that's the great thing about YouTube — you can use it to confirm hazy memories, and almost always, they don't match up to what you remembered. In this case, the actual commercial was about 24 percent stranger than I remembered. A few months earlier, Kareem broke his hand punching Kent Benson in the face — apparently this commercial was part of his suspension. Now I'm wondering if my dislike for Kareem (he was my least favorite player even when I was little) drove me away from Atari and toward Intellivision. I mean, something caused me to become an Intellivision kid, right? I have it narrowed down to either Kareem or Carol Channing.