First Niter

Produced at CKCO-TV in the late 1950’s to the mid 1960’s

When CKCO switched affiliation from the CBC to the CTV network, one of the bigger programming decisions was what to put up against the all-powerful Saturday Night Hockey. The answer was first run movies, the most recent packages available for television, thus First Niter.

Program Director Bruce Lawson tapped me as host, sent me off to Ross Klopp in Waterloo to be fitted for a tux, and said he wanted a glamour opening and closing to the show. Doug Lehman and I came up with the idea of shooting the marquees of the Hollywood and International Cinemas on Yonge Street in Toronto, ending up with an arrival at the O’Keefe Centre, the entrance shot dissolving under the title to the studio opening. Lawson commandeered a Thunderbird from Kaye Motors, and Doug, Barbara – not yet my wife – and I got the shots we wanted of a couple out for the evening, the black exterior of the car reflecting the street and storefront lighting along Yonge, ending with the obliging O’Keefe doorman opening the car door for Barbara to alight, unphased that we had to do a couple of retakes. It worked – a viewer confided to me that for her this was her Saturday night out, the marquees, the street-lit drive, the doorman, the entrance to the theatre and then the movie.

The Thunderbird went back to Kaye Motors, First Niter ran through the mid-60s eventually replaced in the schedule, the tux I have, along with, in my personal CKCO memorabilia, the original 16mm BW SOF (Sound On Film) opening and closing.

Larry McIntyre