ON THE AIR: Complete Series Marathon + Cast & Crew Reunion

December 8, 2013, 3:00 P.M.

The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108, George Lucas Building, USC School of Cinematic Arts, 900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007


Outside the Box [Office] invites you and a guest to a special series marathon screening of

On The Air (1992)
Complete Series Marathon + Cast & Crew Reunion!

Created by David Lynch and Mark Frost
Produced by Deepak Nayar
Co-Executive Produced by Robert Engels

Followed by a Q&A with Ian Buchanan,
Robert Engels, and Nancye Ferguson
3:00 P.M. on Sunday, December 8th, 2013
The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108
900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007
Each episode runs approximately 25 minutes. 7 episodes total will be screened (entire series run). There will be a 10-minute intermission between Episode 4 and Episode 5. The panel discussion will immediately follow Episode 7, with Ian Buchanan (Actor, "Lester Guy"), Robert Engels (Writer, Co-Executive Producer), and Nancye Ferguson (Actress, "Ruth Trueworthy").

About On the Air (1992)

The year is 1957. A new program entitled "The Lester Guy Show" is debuting on the Zoblotnick Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC). Most of the cast is nuts, the crew is incompetent and everything that could go wrong always does. Of course, this makes the show a hit.

While mixing the sound for an episode of the second season of Twin Peaks, Lynch was hit with a sudden inspiration. "It just came into my head, the idea of people trying to do something successful and having it all go wrong."

Starring: Ian Buchanan (Lester Guy), Nancye Ferguson (Ruth Trueworthy), Miguel Ferrer (Bud Budwaller), Gary Grossman (Bert Schein), Mel Johnson Jr (Mickey), Marvin Kaplan (Dwight McGonigle), David Lander (Vladja Gochktch), Kim McGuire (Nicole Thorn), Maria Jeanette Rubinoff (Betty Hudson), Tracey Walter (Blinky), Buddy Douglas (Buddy Morris), Raleigh and Raymond Friend (Hurry Up Twins), Bruce Grossberg (Control booth technician), Irwin Keyes (Shorty the stagehand), and Everett Greenbaum (ZBC announcer).


About the Episodes (1 - 7)

Episode 1: The Lester Guy Show
Written by Mark Frost and David Lynch. Directed by David Lynch. Produced by Gregg Fienberg.

It's 1957 and a new TV show is about to premiere. It's "The Lester Guy Show" staring Lester Guy, a washed up film star who couldn't get a job anywhere until he's hired by the president of the Zoblotnick Broadcasting Network (ZBC) to star in his own show. Unfortunately, the show is hindered by Lester's ego; an incompetent director who got the job only because his uncle owns the network even though no one can understand him; a producer who's constantly nervous; the spacy blond costar named Betty Hudson who has no experience in TV; and an equally dysfunctional crew. Things seem to go well on the rehearsal, but of course the actual show is a disaster. Props break, sound effects get mixed up, and cues are missed. Betty ends up saving the show by singing a song her mother taught her, stealing the show. The phones light up, and of course, the show ends up being a hit.


Episode 2
Written by Mark Frost. Directed by Lesli Linka Glatter. Produced by Deepak Nayar.

Cards, letters and gifts are pouring in for Betty Hudson after her performance on the first episode. This all makes Lester jealous, especially when Betty gets an invitation to have dinner with Mr. Zoblotnick, the owner of the network. Lester and Budwaller plot to get Betty off the show. Meanwhile, Betty is nervous over meeting Mr. Zoblotnick. The rest of the cast and crew reassure her, but Lester, Budwaller and Thorne plot to sabotage the dinner. Lester poses as the car driver and convinces Betty that Mr. Zoblotnick is a womanizing cruel man who is paranoid about his hairpiece and his wife. This makes Betty completely paranoid for the dinner. Lester poses as a waiter, Budwaller and Thorne spy on them from a nearby booth. Betty is so nervous during dinner that she says all the wrong things, including mentioning Zoblotnick's wife and wig. But unfortunately for Lester and Budwaller, Mr. Z loves all this and thinks it's a big joke planned by them and Betty. Lester ends up blowing his cover as well as Budwaller's. Mr. Z leaves to call his wife, and the episode ends with Betty asking Lester if he would like her to ask Mr. Z to give him a raise, since he's having to make ends meet working a second job as a waiter.


Episode 3
Written by Robert Engels. Directed by Jack Fisk. Produced by Deepak Nayar

During rehearsals McConigle's allergies act up. Lester has a plan to ruin Betty: a quiz show where she competes against Professor Answer, the man with the highest I.Q. ever measured, for $64,000. This will show the world how stupid Betty really is, or so the theory goes. Of course, the game is rigged. Meanwhile, Dr. Winky pays a visit and gives McConigle a potion that causes his allergies to go away. The quiz show takes place. Betty's partner is Mrs. Thissle, her grade school teacher, who proves to be a match for Professor Answer. Unfortunately, Mrs. Thissle thinks this is a rehearsal. When she realizes it's going out live, she panics. Lester thinks Professor Answer can't loose now, but the sound effect for a wrong answer drives the Professor crazy. McConigle, who's gotten high on his allergy medicine, stumbles on the stage and he and Betty end up winning the quiz show by a chance fluke answer.


Episode 4
Written by Scott Frost. Directed by Jonathan Sanger. Produced by Deepak Nayar.

Betty has made a new friend in the form of a duck named Doodles who is to be used in a hunting skit. A former film and stage star, Stan Tailings is brought in by Lester as a guest start. He thinks with good actors by his side he can rise to greatness (and make people forget about Betty). Unfortunately, Stan ends up having a voice that constantly cuts out and he isn't used to performing live. Meanwhile, the stagehands accidentally fry Doodles while testing an electric chair for the final skit of the show. Betty continues looking for Doodles and the stagehands treat themselves to some fried duck. Finally it's showtime, and as usual everything goes wrong.


Episode 5
Written by Mark Frost. Directed by Lesli Linka Glatter. Produced by Deepak Nayar.

Preparations are under way for the arrival of a new guest star, Sylvia Hudson, the most important female star in the pioneer days of television. The hope is that if things go well, more big name stars will want to appear on the Lester Guy Show. Sylvia also happens to be Betty's cruel sister, who always makes fun of her. There's another guest star as well: Mr. Peanuts, the star of the morning kids show. Betty is upset over the arrival of her sister, Lester is excited because he once had a relationship with Sylvia (or so he tells it). Sylvia arrives, orders everyone around and is just generally rude, including insulting Mr. Peanuts. Everything goes wrong on the show of course. Nicole's skirt gets caught in the gears that open the door during Sylvia's entrance, causing them to slam shut in her face. Sylvia spends the most of the rest of the show in a daze, passing out during the next sketch. Betty, Bert and even Mr. Peanuts try to save the skit by taking over Sylvia's part. Sylvia finally comes to in just enough time to ruin the scene and threatens Mr. Peanuts on live national television in the process. Everyone sings the Mr. Peanuts theme song to cheer him up, and Sylvia ends up getting the door slammed in her face again.


Episode 6
Written by Robert Engels. Directed by Betty Thomas. Produced by Deepak Nayar.

A plumber creates chaos in the studio by putting up a complex pipe system that seems to run everywhere. Meanwhile, everyone waits for that weeks guest star, The Great Presidio, a magician Mr. Zoblotnick once saw and now wants on the show. Unfortunately, Presidio is not quite what he once was (at first they mistake him for a bum wandering the studio). Presidio is paranoid of a dog that wears a hat and smokes a cigar because he brings transformation. Lester accidentally finds a sketch showing a title logo for "The Betty Hudson Show." Nicole overhears Presidio telling Betty about the dog and develops a plan. Lester tries to learn magic to make up for Presidio's lack of awareness and steal the show. Nicole convinces Betty to put a hat and cigar on Snaps and release him during Presidio's act in order to ruin him and allow Lester to shine. But the plan backfires and seeing Snaps transforms Presidio into the great and powerful magician he once was. He turns Nicole into a lizard and makes Lester disappear.

Episode 7
Written by David Lynch and Robert Engels. Directed by Jack Fisk. Produced by Deepak Nayar.

Lester tries to convince Budwaller to put the Woman With No Name, a beatnik from "downtown" on the show. Betty has forgotten her mother's name for two days and is worried. Gochktch is fascinated with the beatnik and her boots. Meanwhile, Lester and Nicole plot to ruin Betty using a voice disintegrator to mess up her voice. Mr. Zoblotnick pays a visit to the set to see the great beatnik Gochktch has been telling his uncle about. Lester and Nicole's plan isn't going well as they can't get Betty to say anything. She refuses to speak until she remembers her mother's name. Instead they plan to use the machine live during the show. The only problem is, the machine accidentally switches itself to be aimed at Lester instead of Betty. Gochktch and Mr. Z are still obsessed by the beatnik. Showtime arrives, and Lester is humiliated by his voice being distorted by the voice disintegrator machine. The Woman With No Name performs. Betty, while singing, remembers that her mother's name is Mary. Ruth finally realizes that "beatnik" is German for "bootmaker," hence the reason Gochktch and Mr. Z keep bringing her boots. Everyone joins end and performs with the Woman With No Name.

About the Guests

IAN BUCHANAN - Actor, "Lester Guy"

Award winning actor Ian Buchanan has appeared in motion pictures, guest starred on television dramas and comedies, and played iconic roles on a host of daytime dramas that have brought him a worldwide audience. He has starred in both classic and modern plays in England and the US. He is currently a member of The Citizen's Band, an avant-garde cabaret collective of international performance artists, reminiscent of the Weimar Era, whose acclaimed theatrical presentations deal with current and controversial political, religious and social themes.

Television guest starring roles in "Nip/Tuck," "Alias," "Hope and Faith," "Charmed," "Yes, Dear," "On The Air," "Quantum Leap," "It's The Gary Shandling Show," "Stargate," "Raising Dad," Berkeley Nunn: Hollywood Detective," "Nash Bridges," and "The Norm Show," and he was a cult favorite in "Twin Peaks," among many others.

Buchanan is familiar to audiences worldwide for his starring roles on "The Bold and The Beautiful," for which he received an Emmy Award, "General Hospital," "All My Children," and "Port Charles." Film roles include memorable appearances in "Mate," "Panic Room," "Lying in Wait," "Double Exposure," "The Cool Surface," and "The Seventh Sign."

Born in Scotland, Buchanan resides in Southern California.

ROBERT ENGELS - Writer, Co-Executive Producer

Bob Engels is a writer/producer/director who recently completed work on Disney’s TV series Gravity Falls. His next project is the movie Killwinning Hotel that he wrote and will direct. He?s writing the Forbidden Jungle for Triangle Entertainment and the pilot The Wicked West for Warner?s. He?s also creating and directing the Last Minute circus in Sweden.

Engels was the Executive Producer of Andromeda, still one of the top rated syndicated TV shows in the world. His TV credits include Twin Peaks, Wiseguy, and the classic situation comedy, On the Air, three of the "100 Best Series Ever" according to TV Guide. A Golden Globe winner, Engels has executive produced and written series with Steven Spielberg, Richard Donner, and David Lynch. He collaborated on many film scripts with Lynch including Fire Walk With Me.

Engels has developed movie scripts for Disney, Warners, Universal, Paramount, Fox and LiveHeart among many others. He also wrote and produced Murder in Small Town X for Fox TV, an experimental mix of script and reality programming. Engels’ other executive producer/writer TV credits include Matthew Blackheart (which he created), GvsE, SeaQuest, and Sirens. He also created the first completely interactive Network quality series for Warner Bros. TV called Techno 3.

Engels has directed plays on Broadway, off Broadway, and in Los Angeles. He’s also directed at the Louisville Actors Theatre, the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, where he founded their Second Stage, and in Scotland where his production of The Paranormal Review won the Fringe Award for which he also composed the music. Engels was the associate artistic director of the Cricket Theatre in Minneapolis and a member of the Directors Unit at the New Dramatists in New York. He is also the recipient of the Busch Fellowship in Theatre.

Engels teaches at Cal State Fullerton in the Radio, Television and Film Department as well.

NANCYE FERGUSON - Actress, "Ruth Trueworthy"

Nancye Ferguson’s unique creative talents as an internationally recognized performance artist, actor, producer and director began during her attainment of a BFA Degree in Art at SDSU in California.

As an actor Nancye starred in David Lynch’s original comedy series On The Air for ABC (TV Guide’s 100 Best Episodes of Television), as well as features and television shows working with such directors as Blake Edwards, Paul Verhoeven and Michael Patrick King.

As a producer, Nancye created, developed and executive produced “Emma Sprite,” a half hour dramedy pilot for Fox Television with Columbia Pictures Television. Nancye also had development deals with Lion’s Gate, Disney, and Fox Family to create original television programming and feature films. Nancye has also developed an original half hour comedy television series with Cybil Shepherd.

As a director, Nancye produced and directed the award winning short film “Flying with the Angels,” which has won Best Short, Best Experimental and the Audience Award at major film festivals around the world. “Robert Williams Mr. Bitchin’” is her first documentary feature film which she produced and directed, partnering with Rhino Films and Foundation Films. “Mr. Bitchin’” was released and distributed by Cinema Libre in 2013. Her next project is “Elmwood.”

About Outside the Box [Office]

Outside the Box [Office] is a weekly showcase for upcoming releases highlighting world cinema, documentary and independent film titles. Recognizing a need for greater diversity on campus, the series will draw from around the globe to present movies that may challenge, inspire or simply entertain.

To view the calendar of screenings, click here.

Check-In & Reservations

This screening is free of charge and open to the public. Please bring a valid USC ID or print out of your reservation confirmation, which will automatically be sent to your e-mail account upon successfully making an RSVP through this website. Doors will open at 2:30 P.M.

All SCA screenings are OVERBOOKED to ensure seating capacity in the theater, therefore seating is not guaranteed based on RSVPs. The RSVP list will be checked in on a first-come, first-served basis until the theater is full. Once the theater has reached capacity, we will no longer be able to admit guests, regardless of RSVP status.


The USC School of Cinematic Arts is located at 900 W. 34th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007. Parking passes may be purchased for $10.00 at USC Entrance Gate #5, located at the intersection of W. Jefferson Blvd. & McClintock Avenue. We recommend parking in Parking Structure D, at the far end of 34th Street. Metered street parking is also available along Jefferson Blvd.

Contact Information

Name: Alessandro Ago
Email: aago@cinema.usc.edu